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splitting the finances

March 26th, 2015 at 06:17 pm

I'm relieved to say that last week's car issue was just an emissions problem and only cost $100!

I caved yesterday and got my own Costco card (we had one, but I let the membership lapse). Gasoline and organic food are both cheaper - worth it.

The household finances have been fully in my care for the last 4 years. He wants to take them over now. Late fees, missed payments, and extra charges are no longer my problem, right? I started a new YNAB budget for myself and it felt good.

I'm feeling much more optimistic this week despite multiple job rejections. I feel like things are going to turn around soon. (Please, universe?)

Several days alone next week means I'll be seriously reevaluating all of my belongings. I've got so much stuff that I don't use every day but I don't want to get rid of, like camping gear, my bike, speakers, etc. Hopefully my next place will have a storage locker. I REALLY wish I could buy a house. It's incredibly difficult to part with things when I know I'll want them again after this transient phase is over.

For the last six months (except December), I've kept the grocery budget under $300. That is some kind of record for me! It's good to know I'll be able to spend even less than that when I'm on my own.

March

March 17th, 2015 at 12:35 am

Checking in, even though I haven't got much news to report!

I've still not found a job, but I have a ton of applications out. I'm applying to jobs that will get me close to being able to afford a decent place in a decent neighborhood. I'm so grateful for online crime maps, especially for the parts of the city that I don't know well, even after 14 years of living here. I've lived in four different suburbs and have friends all over, so I have a pretty good sense of most of it, but not all.

Packing takes roughly 879 times longer than I expect it to. I brought 10 bags of books to Half Price Books, and they didn't pay well at all, but whatever. I sold one book on Amazon. Several things are up on craigslist, and I've received numerous bizarre messages and one no-show. I suspect that is the norm for craigslist.

Several people I follow on Instagram are currently obsessed with Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of D.... After seeing their results, I want to read it. I still have 10 boxes of books, 10+ boxes of kitchen stuff, and let's not even talk about the boxes dedicated to my hobbies. I realized I have at least 13 hobbies, which explains why I have So Much Stuff. Downsizing is hard.

My former employer hasn't sold their building yet, and it's still partially furnished. They are giving me a loveseat, a recliner, a folding screen, and a small bookshelf for my new place. I am so, so grateful. I just need to move before they sell the building, or I'll need to get a storage unit.

My check engine light came on over the weekend. I had a minor emotional breakdown once I made it home because it's one more stressor that I just don't need right now. I'm bringing the car into the shop tomorrow.

I find myself vacillating between confident hope for the future and utter despair, and not a lot in between. I can't wait for this period of my life to be over, to be perfectly honest. I'm ready to move on to greener pastures.

and then...

May 27th, 2014 at 06:08 pm

Life has been a whirlwind since my last post.

- SO had eye surgery and his vision thankfully improved in that eye. The other eye became substantially worse in the meantime, so he is on the same path to surgery with that one. We'll find out more in August.

- We both found health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. It made more sense to do that than to take my job's insurance, because I'd rather not change ALL of my doctors, and it wasn't much cheaper. It turns out ACA insurance was a better choice anyway because...

- A dramatic few weeks at work resulted in the "owners" of the organization I work for deciding to close it at the end of June. I'm getting laid off...AGAIN. I will get a small severance, but no unemployment. In the meantime, I am the go-between for my coworkers who abhor each other.

- My car's muffler pipe broke off earlier this month and needed to be repaired immediately. $300

- Our cat started acting strangely last week so I brought him in to the emergency vet. Bladder stones. One day at the emergency vet, surgery at a regular vet, and three days there = $3300. Now, we have savings, and I have no qualms whatsoever on spending that on him - he's my big, sweet baby. But damn, that's a lot of money. Especially because...

- SO is still unemployed. Still. Unemployed.

- I had an interview two weeks ago that went smashingly and was one of three called back for a second interview. That went really well too - so well, in fact, that they were calling my references as I was leaving the building. They said I'd hear back from them the following afternoon. That was last week and I've not heard one word. I am incredibly disappointed.

On the plus side, I have a ton of people praying for me. I'm not a religious person, but I will take any and all good thoughts. I got 2 of my vegetable gardens planted. We're going camping next month. I'm very under budget on May groceries.

I just have to keep breathing.

Happy 2014!

January 25th, 2014 at 07:56 pm

Hi all!

I've still been reading the blogs, just not posting!

Since the last update in 2011:

- I gave the photography business a go, but realized over the last year that portraiture is not my thing, so I'm closing my LLC and re-evaluating.

- I started a new part-time job, with the hope that it would go full-time. A year later, I'm still hoping. I'm applying to lots of full-time jobs.

- My SO was laid off from the job he loved last month. I'm shocked by how unstable his career has been since 2009. He has a great, in-demand skill set, but employers are offloading again right now, it seems. Unfortunately that was the source of 90% of our income and our health insurance. Thankfully they gave him a short severance, he can apply for unemployment, and we have some savings to fall back on...but he really can't be out of work for too many months. My salary will not cover the mortgage. And now we need health insurance. Time to look more closely at ACA.

- I fully took over all of our finances in early 2012. Up until that point, I kept things separate, and had just a vague idea of how much credit card debt SO had. He wasn't exactly honest about it, which led to some tough conversations. Thankfully we have paid off over half of it now and should be rid of it soon, assuming things turn out on the job front.

- I'm exploring new career ideas, again, always. I'm still not one of those people who knows what they want to be when they grow up. Will that ever happen?

It's good to page through the blogs and the forums here. It centers me and reminds me that keeping a handle on the finances and increasing our savings can make for a more secure landing when life inevitably throws a curve ball.

Things I need to do:
- Look into the Affordable Care Act
- Plan meals every week and use up what we have
- Look into selling photography gear
- Reduce my car insurance premium
- Get SO's retirement funds consolidated

Longer term:
- Bulk up our savings
- Create a long-term financial plan for SO's increasing medical expenses
- Max out our Roth IRAs
- Create a savings fund for my parents

one job found

February 16th, 2009 at 02:53 pm

Good news - SO found a job. In fact, he found one so quickly that he ended his last job on a Friday and started the new one on a Monday! Not only that, but the new job pays over twice what the old job paid - a very, very good thing, considering I cannot find a job in my field to save my life.

I had a couple of interviews at one place, but they didn't call me back for a third. I asked for feedback from the interviewer (because frankly, I could have done that job in my sleep, not that I said that!), but she never responded. At least I am able to collect unemployment - that will help pay the bills until August, anyway. The bills are piling up, too. I just got one for a medical appointment I had in March 2008!

I thought staying at home all day would be fun, and that I'd accomplish so much, but I never factored in the inevitable depression. I should be happy as a clam, but the combination of being laid off so soon from a job that I thought was perfect for me and being unable to find anything remotely applicable is taking its toll. Combined with freezing temperatures, ice, snow, sleet, and no sunshine....I'm trying to be positive, but it's hard.

I wish spring would come! That would help!

snark snark snark

December 17th, 2008 at 02:10 am

I'm not sure if others have this experience, but I love when people dig posts out from my blog archives and comment on them. Perhaps they run across them on Google and feel compelled to post a comment. Usually they are really supportive and make my day. I have read so many posts from people who are feeling the same way I am (or was back when I posted) and just want to share their feelings. That's one of the reasons I love this community.

I've rarely run across jerks (and maybe that's because I stopped posting frequently) but I just received the loveliest reply to a post I made years ago. The poster called me lazy, told me I wanted everything handed to me on a silver platter, and told me to get off my a$$ and get a better job. I find that amusing, considering I have started two new jobs since then and started my own photography business. What I find most amusing is that this person told me to stop complaining. I'm sorry - correct me if I'm wrong - isn't this my blog? Stick Out Tongue

Anyway - snarky people aside - I'm having a great December. I've had a family portrait session scheduled every weekend and have another one coming up next week. The most recent was a maternity session, and it was so much fun! The anticipation of a new baby is so exciting.

My website is very close to being finished, and I've already passed out a big stack of business cards. Hopefully I can keep this momentum going.

Happy holidays, everyone!!

2008 update

November 30th, 2008 at 04:11 pm

Good grief, I've been away for a while. I guess I haven't felt particularly inspired to post because I felt like I was repeating myself. People continually comment on a couple of posts I wrote over two years ago, which is really fun and interesting, so I thought I'd stop by and say hi!

It was three months ago already, but it was awesome to get to meet baselle. She and her DH were really fun to hang out with, and gave us some great pointers about moving out there (namely, visit in the winter!). Hopefully we'll get a chance to do that soon.

I've got a new editorial job, one that I took a pay cut for, but it's much more creative than what I was doing. The only catch? The person who was supposed to be my boss quit right after I started. I am now stuck with someone else as a boss, and we don't jive. I'm pretty sure I know the difference between first, second, and third person, thankyouverymuch, even if I didn't go to journalism school. Anyway. If I can stick it out for a year, maybe I will get enough experience to move on to something with higher pay.

My photography has really improved! I was just looking at some shots from last year and am pretty happy with how far I've come...though I have a long way to go! After my Project 365 ended in April, I took a part-time job at a portrait studio. I have been photographing friends and family on my own, and building up a portfolio. SO is creating a photography business website for me, and I just got some business cards. I am really excited about the prospect of all of this! Times are tough, yes, and people aren't spending as much, but there are still moments you want captured by a professional photographer. I can't compete with the prices at Target or Walmart (nor do I want to), but I think coming to someone's home and spending an hour or two with them warrants spending a few extra dollars. We'll see. Smile

I'm slowly chipping away at the student loans...still have a long way to go, but that's ok for now. SO and I were contemplating buying a house, but now that it seems we'd need to have at least 20% down...ouch. I'm sure I don't have to say this to the SA crowd, but check your credit reports, people. A close relative of SO went off the deep end, stole all of their identities, and wracked up big credit bills in their names. Luckily we caught it early, so SO's credit isn't completely trashed, but dang...you just never know.

So, anyway...hi! and please know that even if I don't post regularly here, I do check your blogs for updates. Save on!

a few photos

October 24th, 2007 at 04:15 pm

I'm back from our road trip. Texas was HOT and humid (surprise, surprise) but spending time with my aunts was wonderful.

My car? It's amazing. I love it. It's perfect. I really could not be happier with it.

The road trip itself was relatively painless. It gave SO and I plenty of time to discuss the future. He wants kids, I don't. Needless to say, I've had a lot on my mind lately.

Last weekend I went to a state park in Wisconsin and snapped some photos:

I'm spending most of my free time soaking up everything I can about photography. I looked into selling at arts and crafts sales, and then realized I'd need a tax ID number. Yowza. I'm not sure if I'm ready for that step yet.

Coming up with a name for my website/photography studio is harder than I thought! Most people use their First Name Last Name Photography, or something similar, but I've never really cared for my name. A coworker suggested something elegant, or something related to photography, but I'm stumped!

I ran across this favorite cities survey yesterday. You can compare two of the cities, so naturally I compared Minneapolis and Portland, OR. Portland came out on top in nearly everything. Hmmm!

Fall weather means more baking in my kitchen...here are some banana oat bundles from Vive le Vegan by Dreena Burton.

interesting development

October 1st, 2007 at 05:34 pm

September brought exciting news! My aunt is giving me a car! It's a 2000 Subaru Forester, and though it has a fair amount of miles, it has all wheel drive, airbags, lots of space, and no rust! Oh - and it's free! (other than paying MN taxes, registration, etc.) I am super excited. SO and I are flying to Texas this weekend and driving the Subaru back. We were planning to take a romantic, four-day trip to Door County, Wisconsin, but now we're driving across the country. I'm looking forward to it anyway. Smile

Last month I visited a retinal specialist to find out about the spot in the back of my eye. After a battery of extremely unpleasant tests (ever had the back of your eye photographed? they pump dye into your arm), it turns out that it's just excess tissue. Perhaps it's been there since birth, perhaps it just developed over time. In any case, it's not a hole, so that's good news.

I also went to a neurologist for the first time to discuss my headaches. The visit was less than thrilling. She poked and prodded me, gave me a prescription for Neurontin (another seizure med), told me to find one thing about my job that I like, and start exercising vigorously every day. Ugh. I go back later this month.

I had a job interview that didn't pan out, only because I can't get comfortable with the idea of not having steady income. (The interview was with a outsourcing firm.) Since SO is a contract worker, I'm our health insurance provider. Plus, what can I say, I like having a set amount of money coming in each month!

My boss took a look at my photos and told me I should consider pursuing a photography career! SO and I are working on a website, and I'm contemplating photography school but it is SO expensive. I just don't think it is worth over $100K in student loans. We're taking an Adobe Photoshop class at the moment, and it is fantastic. I think I'll stick to the route of random classes for a while.

I'll leave you with a recipe for the best brownies I've had in a long time, maybe ever.

Brownies

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup soy milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 inch square GLASS pan. Whisk the oil, maple syrup, soy milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture with a rubber spatula. Don't overmix! Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for 35 minutes. Don't overbake! Cool before cutting.

cookies, anyone?

August 9th, 2007 at 08:02 pm

Last weekend I made some delicious double chocolate almond cookies (vegan, of course). They were gone in a matter of days. I think my father-in-law ate half the batch!



This is my second photo to make it into flickr's Explore feature, which is pretty cool. Smile My next goal is to make it into the top 100 Explore photos of the day.

This month I'm trying to concentrate on building up my emergency fund. It's only got a $100 in it, and guess whose car is making a horrendous rattling noise again? I've already botched that by ordering UV filters (and a circular polarizer) for my camera. The UV filters are basically a necessity, because I've been super worried about scratching the surface of my lenses (big $$ to replace them). The circular polarizer? Not so much.

The problem is that I keep thinking of things I want. Magnets! and a haircut! and shoes! and take-out! and and and...I really need to just stop thinking.

My net worth is up to $1,127! Whoo hoo!

Minneapolis bridge collapse

August 2nd, 2007 at 01:49 pm


photo from startribune.com

If you've seen the news, you may have heard about the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis last night. We are ok. My SO was on that bridge about an hour before it collapsed...I'm so glad he didn't stay at work late last night.

I watched a bit of CNN and realized they were getting many of the facts wrong. For the most accurate coverage, check out our local newspaper online - Star Tribune.

It's scary. Surreal. Watching the news, I've had to continually remind myself that this happened here.

35W is a main artery of the Twin Cities. I take that highway all the time, and I've never felt unsafe. Perhaps there was a reason I didn't get that job a couple of weeks ago - I would have had to have taken that highway to get there. I'm sure it will be years before it's back up.

It's nearly impossible to get around this city without crossing a bridge - pretty disturbing to think that one just might collapse at any given moment.

I feel so bad for the people who went through that experience, and are still going through it today, waiting for news about their loved ones. It breaks my heart.

The mood today is very somber. You could hear a pin drop in my office building. Everyone was silently poring over the newspaper on the bus this morning. I think we are all in a state of mild shock.

Twin Cities-ites, please check in! I want to know that you are all ok.

nicest home on the web

July 30th, 2007 at 06:01 pm

Wow - what wonderful feedback! This really is the home of the nicest, most helpful people on the web, I'm convinced. I feel lucky to be a member of this community. Thank you so much for your support and ideas.

I am definitely going to learn more about stock photography. I'd love to assist a photographer, so I'm perusing the ads on craigslist, and I belong to a local photography meetup.com group. There's also a craft sale at work twice a year, so I may mount some of my photographs and see if any sell (if I am still working here then). I know there are some near my home, too. Etsy is a great idea too!

I searched through all the local colleges and community ed locations for photography classes. Last night I pored over a few photography career books at the book store but didn't buy any. I'll check the library.

As for the job hunt, well, I've been getting seven different daily job notice emails for over a year (some for several years). I also periodically check the websites of places I'd like to work, just to see if they have announced anything new. I think that's partially why I'm so frustrated - I feel like I've been continously job hunting for six years. I should have kept track of how many interviews I've had along the way (although that might be more depressing).

My ideal job traits:
- Good benefits and pay
- Relatively creative
- Variety of tasks
- Flexible schedule
- Minimal supervision
- Friendly atmosphere

I know I can't expect my job to make me happy. It would be nice to do something that doesn't make me dread getting up every morning, though. Ideally, it would pay me enough to allow me to do what I want in my free time (travel, attend orchestra concerts, donate to causes, help out my family, etc). I don't need a McMansion, or a garage full of cars, or a fridge full of caviar (yuck). I just want to get paid what I'm worth, and feel like my skills are appreciated. Do I ask too much?

On that note, here's the tiny foot of my friend's two-week-old baby. Remember feeling like you could do anything in life? I hope she always feels that way.

rejected and dejected

July 26th, 2007 at 03:35 pm

Well, I got the rejection letter on Tuesday. I was so hoping to get that job. They must have mailed it out the minute I walked out of the building...guess I didn't make as good an impression in those 2 hours as I thought I did. I was seriously depressed yesterday...feeling a little better today. Honestly, truly, I have NO IDEA what to do with my life. The fact that I can only seem to land dead-end jobs is really frustrating. I'm starting to think I should go to law school simply to have something to do for the next three years, and because I'd pretty much be guaranteed a decent-paying job at the end. I feel like I am running out of options.

Thank you for your kind comments about my photos! I'd love to make a career of photography, but I have no idea how photographers make any money. I guess appreciate stability in income more than I thought. My other problem with an artsy career is...criticism. I have a really hard time accepting it. I joined a flickr group that critiques food photos just to try and work on it. Art (and music) is just so subjective; everything is a matter of opinion.

So, until I figure out what to do, I'll be spending day after day at my current job. SO and I both have health insurance through me, and I have to pay my bills somehow.

A couple of recent soccer game photos:



thank you!

June 29th, 2007 at 03:44 pm

Thank you for your honest responses to yesterday's post. I really appreciate all of your input!

I thought about it long and hard, and finally decided to be honest with myself. I can't work for the money. The raise would be fabulous, but spending my time forcing other people to do their jobs just does not appeal to me. I can handle stress - in fact, I love odd situations, unforseen problems I can solve, things other people find stressful. What I don't like is being a task master. I feel that if you're contracted to do something that has a deadline, you should do it by the deadline, without having to be asked or reminded a zillion times. So, I declined the job shadow and am applying elsewhere.

I'm confident I can find something better. I don't want to go from one bad job to another, nor do I want to settle.

I should clarify that everyone walking in seemed happy...except the woman who would have been my boss. She was clearly stressed, and as I mentioned, pretty much ignored me throughout the interview. Not a good sign.

My 10-year high school reunion is this weekend. I'm staying in town and taking maternity photos of my friend instead. Hopefully they will turn out!

lurker

June 27th, 2007 at 05:15 pm

Three weeks this time...wow. Just wanted to let you know that I am alive, and still reading your blogs. I have google feeds for several and take a peek at the main blog page whenever I have the chance. So although I may seem absent, I'm still keeping tabs on you!

Let's see...the baby shower I hosted was fabulous. I think most everyone had a nice time, particularly the soon-to-be parents, and they received so many nice gifts. I baked four dozen vegan cupcakes (root beer float flavor and lemon flavor) but didn't take ONE photo of them! They were a big hit, even after SO told everyone that they were vegan. (For whatever reason, that tends to freak people out.) I am incredibly excited about this baby's arrival. Since they are keeping the gender a secret, it will be fun to see what it is!

I have a job interview tomorrow. My main goal is more money and less boring work at this point. I purchased an LSAT study guide last week...still on the fence about actually taking the test and actually going to law school, but it's a start. I need a life plan, a career plan, something I can really feel involved in that will bring in some decent money. Right now, I'm just floating through life, and I hate that feeling. Fern, I've been thinking a lot about what you asked in my previous post, and my biggest gripe is the monotony of my current job. Every day is the same and far too simple. Some of my coworkers drive me nuts, but that's inevitable. I should be getting paid more in general, as well.

If I do go to law school, it will preferably be full time, so it would be nice to have a job for a year that brought in more money than my current job. Anyone with insights on law careers and law school, bring them on! I'm most interested in environmental law, international law, and public policy.

I cut out my daily Topamax pills and am waiting for my headaches to subside. At the moment, I'm pretty sure it's just medication withdrawal. I hope I'm right, or I may need to finally give in and visit a neurologist. I just don't want to be eternally medicated, and cutting out dairy and eggs has really helped with the headaches. I hadn't had a migraine since March, up until last Saturday, when I quite taking the Topamax.

My five-year anniversary with SO is tomorrow. Five years! It certainly doesn't seem that long. I guess that is a good sign, eh? We have no plans to celebrate, but we bought ourselves a Wii...romantic, I know. Wink It's seriously fun, though.

I've been posting Project 365 photos to my flickr page, but here are a few small ones.

If you think vegan food is boring, bland, or uninteresting, think again.

Bean enchiladas with vegan "cheese" sauce, tofutti sour cream, and salsa:


Seitan tacos (one of my favorite recipes):


Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate chiffon mousse frosting - these are to die for:



and, not food-related - beautiful daisies in my yard:

howdy!

June 5th, 2007 at 03:26 pm

Yikes! I've been away for a couple of weeks. I visited my parents for the long Memorial Day weekend (and my dad's birthday) and have been pretty busy lately.

Since I haven't posted two weeks' worth of Project 365 photos here, I'll spare you the endless array, and just direct you to my Project 365 site on flickr. Click on a photo's thumbnail to see it bigger. Please feel free to comment! My favorites include the little green worm that attached himself to SO's shirt, my dad's old GMC truck, and my mother's sweet 29-year-old horse.

My sister moved into her apartment last weekend, so I hosted her and my mom again. I spent waaaaay too much money as well. June is shaping up to be an expensive month already.

I purchased some of the upcoming baby shower food items at Sam's Club but I've still got more to get, including decorations. The party isn't until the 16th, but I feel like I've got a lot to do...including baking four dozen cupcakes.

Still losing about a pound a week! Big Grin I received the completed payment notice regarding my student loan, too, so I'm free and clear on that one. I also dropped down my car insurance levels and removed collision entirely, so that will help immensely. The yearly premium plus deductible was more than my car is worth, and I don't even drive it that often. I kept comprehensive, since I live in the city. I'll be saving $250 a year - not bad!

One of my coworkers is quitting, and I'm pretty envious. I've been looking for something new, but nothing clicks. Same refrain - six years after college, still don't know what to do with my life. All I know is that it's not this. It would be nice to be happy in a job, and feel like it was a career. Am I dreaming? How many people actually obtain that?

good news!

May 21st, 2007 at 04:15 pm


photo credit


I paid off my smaller college loan! *happy dance*

My remaining college loan is finally under $11,000! I like that the figure starts with a 10 now. Wink

To date, I've paid off $12,217 in student loans, not counting interest!

And, this isn't financially-related, but I can fit into my favorite jeans again! I've lost 11 pounds, and am consistently losing about a pound a week. It's a nice little side perk of my vegan diet. Oh cute jeans, how I've missed thee...


lattice, P365, Day 28: 5/17/07



concentration, P365, Day 29: 5/18/07



puff, P365, Day 30: 5/19/07

Project 365 update

May 14th, 2007 at 04:52 pm

I had a wonderful weekend with my mom, sister, and SO. We found several geocaches, did a little shopping (but not too much) and enjoyed the unbelievably warm weather. Yesterday it hit 92 degrees!

Still taking photos every day! I'm posting small versions here - if you'd like to see bigger ones, click here.

Guitar Hero Obsession, Day 18, 5/7/07


Got Insulin? Day 19, 5/8/07


one of my bowls, Day 20, 5/9/07


yarn, Day 21, 5/10/07


loved, Day 22, 5/11/07


family of geese we saw while out geocaching, Day 23, 5/12/07

A few more photos of geese & ducks here.

so much for that

May 9th, 2007 at 04:33 pm

My mother has been back from Florida for less than 72 hours, and my great-aunt already fell and fractured her hip. She's having surgery today and will have to return to the rehab center. So much for the assisted living place, I guess - clearly, she needs constant supervision. What does that mean? A nursing home next? That's going to go over real well.

This is ridiculous. If she had only been a little less stubborn about staying in Florida... But we knew that something like this happening was inevitable. We just didn't expect it to happen so soon.

where have you traveled?

May 7th, 2007 at 08:05 pm

This is my second post of the day, but I just found this and had to share.

Countries I've Visited
This made me realize I really need to travel more!


Create your own visited country map! (keep in mind, though, that you can't use their code to upload it to your blog here - I had to save the picture and upload it manually)

My USA Map looks a little better - but still! Only 54% visited! Where are my car keys? Wink


Create your own personalized map of the USA!

weekend update

May 7th, 2007 at 02:55 pm

Mom came back from Florida this weekend, relieved to finally be back, but worried about the future. It's hard to know what to say sometimes.

We went geocaching yesterday and found three out of three! Whoo hoo! I'm glad we were able to find all of them - it made the first geocaching adventure for my mom and sister that much more fun. Smile Thanks again to the savingadvicer who mentioned it on your blog (I'm sorry, I can't remember who you were!). What a fun hobby! We approached one geocache from the wrong direction and ended up accidentally trespassing, which we didn't realize until much later. Whoops! We had no idea, though, because there were no signs, and no one came out to tell us. We walked around the grounds of an overgrown monastery, up and down a grand staircase covered in weeds and branches, and came across an old swimming pool full of trees. It looked like a movie set. I wish I had taken more photos.

It was nice to spend time with my family and friends. I spent a bit too much money on dining out, though, and I wish I had another day to relax. Oh well - back to the grind.

As for the bake sale's final figures - I made $72.15! Not bad! I should factor in the cost of ingredients (most of which I already had in the house), but frankly, I'm just content with the cash.

On to posting my Project 365 photos!

Juicy Tomatoes, Day 14: 5/3/07


Sheriff at a stoplight, Day 15: 5/4/07


My new camera, Day 16: 5/5/07


Bench, Day 17: 5/6/07

ready for the weekend

May 3rd, 2007 at 01:46 pm

Last day of the bake sale! Today I brought in caramel corn. I hope it flies off the table. I'm doing really well, but I'll save the final figure for tomorrow. Poor SO has been watching this stuff walk out of the house with just a nibble here and there, and I don't feel like baking anything more! Maybe I'll get inspired again this weekend...

I've been playing around with my new camera when I've got a spare moment...still haven't read the user manual so the photos aren't crystal clear and I don't understand all the features. Wink I'll get to it, hopefully this weekend.

P365, Day 12: 5/1/07


P365, Day 13: 5/2/07


My sister did something somewhat illogical, from my point of view. She decided to rent an apartment for her final year of college and not go home this summer. Fine and dandy, except for the fact that she has no job, no car, and no furniture. She already signed the lease and now is scrambling to find a job on campus to cover rent, utilities, and food. I hope she does, because my parents cannot help her (my father is still unemployed). Summer housing is not covered by her college loans because she isn't taking any classes. I understand wanting the independence...but I also don't get it. It's just one more year of living in a dorm, and then the rest of her life to live in an apartment. My mom is really sad about her not coming home this summer, too. Oh well, I guess, live and learn; I just hope it's not to the detriment of my parents' already delicate living situation.

made a purchase

April 30th, 2007 at 04:02 pm

Remember my post about the Olympus Evolt E-500 camera back in September? The camera I've been salivating over forever? Well, we stopped in at Comp USA's store closing sale yesterday, and there it was...brand new, with two lenses...deeply discounted. The cheapest I've ever seen it on amazon is $630, and Comp USA was selling their last model for $475. After some deliberation, I bought it! I've never done something like that before. Normally when I spend that kind of money, it's poured into my engine. It feels a little weird to spend it on myself. I know it was the best deal I could find, though, and the camera is perfect.

I'm really, really excited! Project 365 just got more interesting! Big Grin

I'll still be able to pay off my smaller college loan in May, and everything else will carry on more or less as usual. I'll just have to live with a few less new books and pay a little more attention to what I'm putting in the Target cart.

Good news on the baby shower - I used a gift card to by fabric paints and invitations over the weekend. I found a great deal on cute invites - 4 invites with 4 thank you cards for $1 per pack! Can't beat that!

P365, Day 8: Happy Arbor Day (last Friday) - this is my giant rubber tree


P365, Day 9: Maplewood's enormous snowman


P365, Day 10: cute kitty, taken with my new camera

A Thai Goodbye

April 27th, 2007 at 03:07 pm

P365 Day 6, oil lamp:



P365 Day 7, fried tofu, peanut sauce, egg rolls:



We went out to a Thai dinner last night to celebrate my friend's birthday/upcoming departure for NYC. She finally finished her doctorate degree and is leaving us! It was a bittersweet gathering. Good Thai food, though. Hopefully I'll get a chance to visit her sometime.

I have been sick for three weeks. After a certain point, you start to feel like you'll be sick for the rest of eternity.

I'm planning a June baby shower for my best friend. It certainly adds up, doesn't it? I'm planning to buy some onesies and fabric paint as the main activity, and maybe some baby food to do a "taste test" challenge. Then there's food and beverages (hopefully other family members will help pitch in with this), decorations, cake, plastic/paper tableware, and a gift. What am I forgetting? I need to develop a budget for this, stat!

Project 365 photos

April 25th, 2007 at 01:24 pm

Day 4: one of the trees off of my deck, just starting to bloom. I have a thing for trees.




Day 5: vegan fettuccini alfredo with steamed broccoli, from Vegan with a Vengeance. It had a kick! Definitely hit the spot.



The vegan thing is going quite well, much better than I expected. It has been really easy for me to eliminate dairy, eggs, and chocolate (though I've found some vegan alternatives to that). I lost five pounds in Florida and am down eight total. If I could give up all sweets, the weight would be falling off...as it stands, Hot Tamales and Golden Oreos are vegan. Tsk tsk. Wink

I signed up to do a bake sale at work next week. Guess I'd better start baking! I recently made some delicious peanut butter oatmeal cookies from the cookbook mentioned above, so I'll make some of those, and maybe some biscotti. It will be an easy way to bring in some cash.

I've got a busy weekend coming up - a goodbye party for a friend, a birthday party, another friend is moving, and another friend wants to get together. Plus, I've got to bake. Yikes!

wealth

April 23rd, 2007 at 02:10 pm

I may complain about bill payments.
I may bemoan my eternally broken-down car.
I may get frustrated with feeling like I'll never pay off my student loans.
I may feel like I'm earning less than everyone else I know.
I may feel like I don't have a solid career path.

But...
I live in a country where I am free to express myself.
I earn a decent wage at a job that gives me and my significant other excellent health insurance.
I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and way too much stuff cluttering my house.

I've always got a fully stocked fridge. I am grateful for that.

still processing

April 20th, 2007 at 04:01 pm

I've been back from Florida for a few days, but I'm still processing everything that happened. My great-aunt was an interesting character. I would have liked to get to know her under different circumstances. As it was, our time together was stressful and filled with more confrontation than I would have liked. I'm not one for confrontation, but make my mother cry? And look out.



When I left, I thought we had come to an amicable solution; we found a lovely assisted living facility that my great-aunt loved, and she put down a deposit on a room. My mother is staying for another three weeks to smooth the transition. Yesterday, however, the rehab center my great-aunt is currently staying in decided to inform the assisted living facility that she needs an excessive amount of care - more than she really needs, in my opinion. I'm not sure what their motivation is. Thus, the assisted living facility may not accept her, and she's only got a week left of Medicare coverage. My mother has to deal with this headache on her own. In the face of this, my great-aunt is again threatening to move back into her house with no care whatsoever (not possible or safe).



Sometimes my great-aunt is "there", sometimes she's not. She's very witty and very funny when she's present. When she's not, she's calling my mother by my grandmother's name, throwing out crazy accusations, and telling us about the music (voices?) she's going going on in her head. She refuses to move to where my mother lives simply because of the state, even though she's never been there. She's got no family and no friends in Florida, or within 1100 miles, and doesn't mind one bit. It's an interesting existence.



Mom and I made it to the beach one day to watch the sun rise. It was simply gorgeous. After the sun rose, we spent some time splashing through the warm water looking for seashells. What a great memory.



More photos, including photos of the Morikami Japanese Gardens, are on my flickr site.

catch up

April 6th, 2007 at 02:57 pm

I'm leaving for Florida this weekend. Somewhere along the way this week, I managed to catch a cold. I've been trying to fight it with all sorts of stuff. I really don't want to bring it to my great-aunt.

My employer's IT department was a bit freaked out over a recent internet virus scare, so we had no internet for two days. Let me tell ya, two days without internet at my job is pretty rough. I'm not sure what people did during work lulls before the internet...created giant rubberband balls? Chatted endlessly around the water cooler? I made up an Excel spreadsheet outlining exactly when I would pay off my big student loan based on different monthly payments and the interest rate - yeah, I was that bored. I'll share it with you, though, because you're really the only people who might possibly be interested.



$135 is the minimum payment. I'm going to shoot for $300/mo payments in 2008 - it might be a bit of a stretch, but that might be good for me. I can't believe it's still going to take me so long to pay it off. I just want to be rid of it already.

Good news, though - my smaller loan will be paid off in May! Big Grin

I also figured out my net worth for March - I'm up to ($1,113). Perhaps that will be a positive figure by August.

On a related note - I'm thinking about going back to school. What's it this time, kashi? Law. I wouldn't want to be courtroom, criminal lawyer - I'd rather do something more like public interest law, environmental law, or international law. Something that felt like I was making a difference. I love research, writing and editing, thought-provoking materials... So I've been mulling it over. Law has always been in my personal top-ten careers list, and my aunt reeeaallly thinks I'd make a good lawyer. We'll see. It definitely would not help me reduce the student loans, though...

I'm going to start adding a photo a day, as Fern suggested, but that may not happen until after I get back from Florida. Internet access will be hard to come by.

Sweet 80-degree weather, here I come! What a shock it will be, considering it's been snowing here, and 16 degrees this morning!

change of plans

March 23rd, 2007 at 04:01 pm

I'm heading to Florida!


photo link

Mom is coming back this weekend for a brief two-week hiatus to get some stuff done at home. Then she's got to go back to Florida for another month. My great-aunt's affairs are still up in the air...she doesn't want to be in an assisted living facility, but she can't take care of herself, she doesn't want anyone living with her, she won't move anywhere else where a family member could help her out... It's a bit of a mess.

I'm going to Florida with Mom to help her out for a week (and, to a suck up a little 80 degree weather). Wink This throws my savings and student loan goals off, of course, but I think it's worth it. I haven't seen my mom much lately, and she's completely stressed out with all that's been going on this year. I've never met my great-aunt, and I've been dying for a vacation. It may not end up being the most relaxing vacation in the world, but hopefully my presence will be appreciated.

Time to dig out the summer clothes!

triggers

March 16th, 2007 at 05:10 pm

Last night's play performance was amazing. I had never seen it before, and we hadn't been to the new theater yet. It was very sleek and contemporary, with amazing views of the city from the rooftop terrace. While we waited in the lobby, it started to snow over the Mississippi River. I've never seen anything like it - it came down with such force that we could not see neon signs across the river. Thankfully, it quit as abruptly as it began and the drive home was uneventful.

The woman next to me in the theater and her daughter put on some hand cream at the beginning of the performance. At first, it didn't affect me...but then I started sneezing, my sinuses filled up, and the headache started. I've rarely had such a powerful reaction to scent like that. Plus they were going on and on to each other about its subtle, refreshing scent. Just goes to show you how differing opinions can be, and why scented stuff should be applied at home. Not sure what one can do in a situation like that..."Hey lady, could you go wash your hands?" may not go over so well.
Stick Out Tongue Luckily, I had plenty of Excedrin and tissues, and the experience was still fabulous.

I know a couple getting married this fall, one-half of which just graduated from college. They both just bought brand-spanking new vehicles, and not cheap ones, either. I just don't know how people do it. Yesterday I made a chart - at best, with my current salary, I will have my college loans paid off in late 2011. I could not throw a car payment and increased insurance costs on top of that without eliminating my monthly savings. Another friend of mine is having a baby this year and just paid off her 2005 car. I'm just so envious. It's hard not get down on myself when I hear this stuff. I can't help but wonder what I am doing so wrong! I can't imagine feeling secure enough to go out and buy a brand new car (or a house, or anything for that matter)...but maybe that's my problem. Maybe none of these people do either, but they do it anyway.


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