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March 16th, 2007 at 10:10 am

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.


March 13th, 2007 at 09:43 am

Well, we dug out, and guess what? Almost all the snow has melted already. It's nearly 50 degrees today! The mountains of snow are gone, replaced by gobs of mud and enormous puddles of water. Spring? Is that you?

I've been a bit MIA lately because I haven't been concentrating much on finances, and since this is supposed to be a financial blog, well... However, I have a plan to have $1000 in savings by the end of April, and pay off my smaller college loan in June. My investments haven't tanked too badly lately, thankfully. I am glad I have lots of time to let things percolate before retirement.

I've been on Topamax for about three weeks. It's been working fairly well for my headaches. Yesterday my hands, fingers, and forearms starting tingling and felt somewhat numb, like I had held them above my head for far too long and all the blood had rushed out of them. Shake, shake, shake - nothing. The feeling persisted all day, and my toes starting tingling, too. I went to the doctor, and he suggested more potassium. I'm going to maintain this dosage and see what happens. If this tingling thing doesn't go away, I'll lower the dosage, and perhaps eliminate it completely. It's a shame that side effects have to pop up...my daily headaches are finally starting to subside, after five years of putting up with them.

One day, I tried one Zomig to treat a migraine and was stoned for five hours straight. The doctor suggested I try Maxalt instead, so that's what I've got now. I guess trial and error is the only way to go!

And, my latest obsession, food. Vegan food, to be exact. I cashed in some American Express points and bought Becoming Vegan. It's chock-full of great advice about nutrition and how to become vegan the right way. I have been moving away from dairy and eggs and feeling better overall. Whether or not I ever become fully vegan, I think eating less animal products and more fresh, whole foods is a good thing. My in-laws bought us a juicer for our birthdays, too, which is a great addition to our kitchen! I'd post photos of the great food we've been making, but again - this is a financial blog! I may have to create a food blog...

Mom is still in Florida - yeah, I'm not even kidding. They are having so much trouble getting help from anyone. Hopefully she will be able to come home next week.

SO and I are going on a date later this week to a play and dinner - the play tickets were half price, thanks to a discount through my employer, and the dinner will be paid for by a gift certificate, thanks to my former employer! Cheap date! My favorite.

Oh, and by the way - I'm going to The Police! Smile

got snow?

March 4th, 2007 at 10:47 am

We got hit with another big snow storm on Thursday...big enough for my employer to send us home early. That's big.

Here's how much snow we've received in one week, as seen on my deck table:

I'm happy to say the snow has stopped falling, and the sun is finally shining again. We can leave the house, but walking to the bus stop tomorrow morning might be a bit tricky...

Is it spring yet?

March's budget bender

February 28th, 2007 at 12:05 pm

It's not March yet, but I know what my budget will be slightly bending for:

THE POLICE Live in Concert are coming my part of the world!

I grew up listening to their music, I've got the boxed set and listen to it all the time...and, as silly as it may sound, I adore Sting. I do. So, I wouldn't miss this concert!

Tickets run $50-$225 (whatever that means!). Even if I had $225 to blow, I don't think I'd spend it on this. A bit too rich for my blood. One of the cheapie seats will suit me just fine. I'm so excited!!

Also, SO would like to attend a theatre performance in March. As luck would have it, I can get us 50% off tickets through work! We've still got a $50 restaurant gift certificate to use, so that will be a lovely, inexpensive date night.

Free pizza at work today - but who's ever heard of a two piece limit? Not to mention, two of the smallest pieces ever. Nice, but I need to find myself a snack...


February 26th, 2007 at 06:45 am

I listed a scarf and hat set on etsy.com here.

Here's a photo of the listing, and my mannequin!

What shall I name her? Wink

Thanks for the wig offer, Nana, but I think I'm looking for something a bit more natural, so as not to contrast with my other scarves. I've got some crazy pink/purple/green/blue ones to put up soon.

My pre/post storm photos aren't too exceptional because wind gusts kept my deck table from retaining much of the snow that fell. The knee-high drift in front of my car, though, that was nice. Photos of the deck are posted on my flickr site here. I also brought snow inside for the cats to play with...they enjoyed that.

bundled up and snuggled in

February 24th, 2007 at 03:04 pm

Winter Storm Warning in effect through Sunday evening. Storm totals of 10-14" possible in the metro.

Roads may become impassable tonight with "thunder-snow" falling at the rate of 2"/hour at times. Consider a Plan B.

Our annual March blizzard is a bit early this year. Knowing this was coming, I stocked up at the grocery store on Friday night, and we aren't leaving the house until we have to. The snow is pretty, just so long as I don't have to go out into it. The last 24 hours has brought mainly freezing rain and high winds. I'm taking progressive photos of our deck this time; I'll post the aftermath.

Today I baked a whole-wheat coffee cake and vegan vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting, and a tasty lentil loaf is ready to pop in the oven for dinner. SO is going to make garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. Yum.

I've been eating a lot better over the past few days. I stayed home to fight a cold on Thursday and read The Vegan Diet as Chronic Disease Control: Evidence Supporting the New Four Food Groups by Kerrie Saunders. It illustrates how the standard American diet is ruining our health - killing us, essentially. Turns out I'm a junk food vegetarian - sure, I haven't eaten meat in years, but I'm not eating like I should be. It's time for that to change, and this book has been the catalyst. Now if only I could find some kale! I'm dying to cook some up. Wink

tidbits, and angry money gods?

February 20th, 2007 at 08:02 am

Today is my sweetie's birthday. We both had President's Day off work yesterday, and are taking this afternoon off to celebrate too. He's not much of a birthday person, but I'm going to keep smooching him anyway. We might see a movie this afternoon...not sure which one yet!

I've taken a few photos of my new mannequin head modeling a handmade scarf and hat set. I'll post them soon. She really needs a wig, though. We stopped at a party store yesterday to look for one, but no luck. Too bad it's not closer to Halloween!

It appears to be spring here - yesterday it was 41 degrees!! Today should be a repeat. I'm so happy. The birds are singing, my skin is thawing, life is good. I hope this nice weather sticks around.

Mom was supposed to return from Florida this week, but they have too much left to do. I'm not sure when she's coming back; she's got to change her return flight date now. My great-aunt is going through waves of feeling well and not-so-well. It's hard to leave someone who has no family nearby, but I can tell my dad is feeling lonely. He and I talked on the phone for two hours the other night, which is some sort of record.

I took this coming Friday off work because Mom was supposed to be here, but now she won't be. I'm tempted to stick with it anyway. I had a marvelous dream last night that involved me walking into the office on a Friday and quitting. I was going to start grad school on Monday. Weird dream, but boy did I feel good when I woke up.

Yesterday we used up the last of our grocery store gift certificates at Trader Joes. Now we've got lots of tasty organic frozen vegetables in our freezer, just waiting for dinner.

Something odd and job-related - last month I applied for a position I'm completely qualified for, and the recruiter wrote me an email asking me for my desired salary range. I asked her to provide the job's salary range, and I'd let her know if it was within my personal range. She sent it to me - $14,000-$23,000 more than I make now - so of course I wrote back and said I was interested. No response. I wrote back again a week later and indicated I was still interested and would love to come in for an interview. Still no response. What's the deal? Who does that? Did I anger the money gods somehow? Needless to say, I was bummed...that much of a raise would be truly fantastic.

my latest crafting purchase

February 14th, 2007 at 10:17 am

I've been crocheting, a LOT. I'm making a baby blanket for a friend, and working on lots of scarves and hats. This prompted me to register for an etsy.com shop, and...buy a mannequin head.

A mannequin head??

Yes, a mannequin head.

Not only has she got a head, she's got a neck, too. This way, I can display hats and scarves, beaded necklaces, and perhaps earrings if she's got post holes. I thought it might make my crafts more visually appealing to the buyer. Nothing makes you not want to buy a hat more than seeing it on someone's grubby head first.

It's actually a rubber makeup practice head, so I guess if I decide to go down the makeup artist path one day, I'll have something to practice on!

I am soooo excited. I bought it on eBay, and it should be here on Friday. I'll post photos ASAP.

Otherwise, trying to keep it together. Still looking for jobs for my dad and finding nothing in their area. Mom is still in Florida, and today I've been searching online for an assisted living home for my great-aunt. It seems she hasn't been taking care of herself like she should. She's open to the idea, so it's just a matter of finding a nice one that won't break the bank.

Two of my fish died last weekend, despite medicating them. Two are left, and I hope they make it. My tank has been acting funky for months now.

My cookbooks arrived, and I have been drooling over them ever since. My current fav is Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Margarita cupcakes, people! I'm going to have to start making cupcakes and posting photos so you, too, can drool over them.

new headache drugs

February 8th, 2007 at 11:34 am

Had a doctor's appointment this morning - Topamax and Zomig, here I come. I really like my doctor; he actually takes the time to listen to me, considers what I've said, does a little research on his laptop, and gives me a few options to choose from. He's very thoughtful and considerate. I appreciate that. I find it sad that his type of medical care is unusual.

Luckily, he gave me ample samples of both new drugs, so I don't have to fill pricey prescriptions until I know they work.

I am so incredibly tired of having a perpetual headache.

Last night SO and I used a soon-to-expire restaurant gift certificate. It was a nice place. We did something we've never done before - sent back a bottle of wine. It didn't seem spoiled, just...gross. The restaurant was empty, so we didn't inconvenience our server; we just felt bad about doing it. The second bottle was much better. On the way home, we had to create a pep talk for ourselves - it's ok to politely refuse something unpleasant and ask for a replacement if you're paying for it. That's harder for me that it should be.

We had to take a "strengths finder" quiz at work. Turns out I am intellectual, adaptable, empathetic, have a craving to know more, and am inspired by the future. Didn't really come as a surprise to me, but I'm not sure how to apply that to my career.

I received a very nice birthday gift of cash from my aunt. I'm spending half of it on books and a writing computer program (a.k.a., my kick in the pants). The other half will go into savings.

I wish we were going to Mexico this weekend!

fantastic birthday

February 7th, 2007 at 08:48 am

Thank you for all the well-wishes! My birthday was great! SO and I took the day off. After bringing my mom to the airport at 5:00am, I went back to bed. SO made me breakfast, picked up my free Caribou Coffee drink (free email club!), and we headed over to the Science Museum. The exhibit on race was fascinating and very thought-provoking. One of my favorite parts of the exhibit was a grid of photos of faces. A person's voice was played, and you had to mentally match the voice to the person. Then you hit a button to see who was actually doing the talking. I didn't do as well as I thought I would, and some really shocked me. In this online world, it's easy to forget about personal things like that.

Later, a friend and her husband came over for my homemade lasagna dinner and chocolate turtle cake. I talked to my mother twice, my dad once, and my aunts in Texas. One aunt congratulated me on my birthday and then informed me that now I'm halfway to 56! Thanks! Stick Out Tongue All in all, it was a really nice birthday.

This weekend we're going to an incredible Thai restaurant with friends to celebrate a bit more. I love this restaurant and haven't been there in ages. They have a delicious mock duck curry, the best pad thai, amazing tropical drinks...really, it's all delicious.

I love when birthdays spread out for a week. It makes it much more "real". SO mentioned last night that big events in his life tend to happen during odd-numbered years, and my life is quite similar. I was born in an odd year, graduated from high school and college in odd years, have moved to a new place every odd year since then, and started dating SO in an odd year. Perhaps 2007 will pick up...?

human popsicles

February 5th, 2007 at 07:08 am

When your uncovered skin instantly stings...

When you feel every nostril hair seizing and freezing...

When the gentleman across from you on the bus has icicles dripping from his mustache...

You know it's winter in Minnesota.

This morning I stepped out into a balmy -15 degrees F. Luckily, there wasn't a breeze.

More sad family news - my parents' last indoor cat passed away over the weekend. He had cancer, poor baby.

My 87-year-old great-aunt was in a car accident last week and shattered her knee. She lives alone in a two-story home in Florida. Turns out my mother was listed as her emergency contact. Mom is taking the Greyhound bus here today, to fly out of Minneapolis tomorrow. Too bad her flight leaves at the crack of dawn; we could spend more of my birthday together. Mom will be back in a couple of weeks. She just doesn't need more stress!

I'm taking tomorrow off, so after dropping Mom off at the airport, I'll be heading home for a quick nap. Then I'm planning to check out the race exhibit at the Science Museum. Later, a birthday dinner of cheesy lasagna, salad, and chocolate turtle cake. Yum!

resisted takeout

January 31st, 2007 at 10:00 am

I finally did it...wrote a long post, and then *poof*, lost it. *sigh*

Last night we really wanted to pick up a pizza for dinner, but resisted. We were out looking for the Winter Carnival Medallion, a treasure hunt put on by the local paper (cash prize if you find it). We walked around in sub-zero temps for a few minutes before realizing we could better strategize from the car. I am pretty sure I know where it is, but alas, I'm working today and cannot search for it. We had a mediocre frozen pizza at home instead of takeout.

I've been thinking about what LuckyRobin said about migraines and diet. I think in order for me to do it, I'd have to list what I can eat and come up with a meal plan - menus, perhaps. It would probably be good for me to try it. My problem lies in that I truly hate cooking during the week.

My former boss is finally retiring, and her goodbye party is tonight. I crocheted a wool scarf and hat set out of super-thick, reddish-black yarn. I hope she likes it. It's hard to believe she's truly leaving the organization after so many years at the helm.

Last year for our birthdays, my SIL gave SO and I a gift certificate to the vegetarian restaurant where we had our first date. We haven't used it yet, and it expires next week. Hopefully the migraines will stay away, and we will dress up and go out on the town this weekend!

positive thoughts

January 30th, 2007 at 08:48 am

Fighting a migraine again today...has anyone tried Topamax? I think that's my last option before visiting a neurologist.

I've been trying very hard to think positively...things like, "I am a money magnet" and "I am a job offer magnet", and it seems to be working so far. I revamped my resume, sent out a few applications recently, and am getting postive responses. I am a job offer magnet...big money... Wink

Last night was our first pottery class this semester. SO is taking it with me this time. I made five pots last night...guess I was on a roll! It's fun having him with me.

My dad is creating gorgeous wood carvings these days (in addition to searching for a job). He has made some incredible Native American-style things and matted and framed them, and I really think they could sell. I created an etsy.com seller's page. I've considered eBay, but I'm a little burned out on that. I looked into local art galleries a bit yesterday. Any other ideas? He has taken photos, but their digital camera sucks. I've been researching Canon cameras and am contemplating buying one for them. The A540 has more power and zoom than my beloved Olympus, and is currently only $175. If they are serious about selling their handcrafted goods (my mother is a weaver as well), they need a good camera. I'm just still licking my wounds after getting the car fixed for the umpteenth time.

I worked lots of overtime last week, so my next paycheck should be a nice one!

what's your ecological footprint?

January 26th, 2007 at 09:15 am

I stumbled across this site recently:

www.myfootprint.org *

After answering several questions, it tells you how much your lifestyle is affecting our earth - your ecological footprint.

My score is 12. What's yours?

I feel good about it in that my footprint is half the average American's...but if everyone lived like me, we'd still need 2.7 plants. Food for thought.

* If you're getting some weird site when you click on this link (like I am), copy and paste http://www.myfootprint.org into your web browser to get to the right page.

coupons: Nicoderm CQ

January 22nd, 2007 at 09:04 am

I have six $7 off Nicoderm CQ coupons, expiration date 12/31/07.

Interested? Let me know in the comments field, and I'll email you to get your mailing address.

I have lots of coupons at home that aren't going to get used, so I'll post those soon, too.

no meetup

January 19th, 2007 at 10:55 am

SO and I headed out last night, determined to be social little bees and attend our first meetup.com event. We arrived at the designated restaurant to find it closed. Apparently the owners decided to remodel it (last night). There was no sign on the door telling us to go elsewhere, and no one standing in the street, so we walked to another restaurant and dined alone. A bit of a bummer. The group organizer claims to have put a sign up on the restaurant door, but there wasn't one when we got there.

Tonight I may bake a birthday cake for a friend. She's mostly vegan, and I found a great vegan cheesecake recipe that I'm dying to try. We'll see if she's up for that or not...if not, I may just bake it anyway. Wink It looks fabulous.

Today is Vegan Friday. I had a wheat bagel with peanut butter for breakfast and a banana. I've got an apple and dinner leftovers for lunch - vegetable curry with rice and vegetable pan-fried noodles. What to have for dinner? hmmmm.... I talked veganism over with SO last night, and he doesn't feel he can give up eggs and cheese too easily. We decided to start with one vegan day a week and see how it goes. I became vegetarian without any prep (cold-turkey, as they say) but slowly working on vegan meals feels better. SO still sometimes eats seafood when we go out, but doesn't cook it at home, thankfully.

I never feel good when the credit card bill is higher than a paycheck. I've taken the money out of savings to pay for the car repair bills, but still...it's too high, too scary. February will be a new year for me...more contemplation, as I become an even-numbered age again. At some point, I've got to move from contemplation to action.


January 18th, 2007 at 01:07 pm

Picked up the car last night...why did it start sputtering again on the way home? I guess I'll drive it this weekend and see if it still does it.

I've been reading a lot of vegan blogs lately. I've found some really fun ones:

- Vegan Eats & Treats
- Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
- Vegan Cookbook Tester
- Vive le Vegan!

Once again, I'm seriously contemplating trying a vegan lifestyle. My dependency on dairy products is pretty bad. I've got to start taking more baby steps toward veganism - maybe some soy yogurt, more soy milk, egg replacers, etc. I've simply GOT to get more veggies into my diet. It's time to start facing the facts - I can't continue to subsist on bread, cheese and chocolate. (ok - it's not that bad - but bad enough.)

I'm reading a non-fiction tome on Elizabeth I. After a bit of an argument with a friend about how much control one's spouse should have over one's life, I realized that I really like Elizabeth I because she never married. She lived in the 1500s, a time when women were expected to get married, raise kids and be utterly subservient to men, and she never married. She never caved to those societal pressures, and she managed to rule a country just fine.

Speaking of ruling a country - England allowed a woman to rule in the 1500s, yet we can't seem to elect a woman (or a person of color) to power in the United States? Give me a break. Sometimes I feel like we are going backwards.

And, something finance-related: I need to set up a high-yield savings account for my parents, and figure out where to move their 401k savings. I am trying hard to not get stressed out about the whole situation, but when dad says mom needs my support right now, and mom says sister needs my support right now, and everyone says dad needs my support right now...well, I just want to curl up into a ball and wait for the migraine to pass. Thank God for painkillers.

Thanks for your comments. I know my blog has not been particularly positive lately...this too shall pass (right?).

migraine rebound

January 12th, 2007 at 09:07 am

Wednesday migraine! Wha-bam!

It was a weird one. I waffled between taking an Imitrex and just toughing it out. A wave of mildly-Excedrin-masked pain came over me, so I took the Imitrex and went to bed. On Thursday morning I could tell the headache was still lurking there in the background, waiting to pounce (guess the Imitrex didn't kill it). I avoided dark chocolate, caffeine, artifical sweeteners, and (sadly) a drink at the bar during a friend's celebratory party. I'm feeling a bit better today, but it needs to just GO AWAY. Seriously. What headache needs to linger for days on end??

The celebratory party was for a friend who finally graduated with her doctorate degree. She will be moving on to do her post-doc in Manhattan. I will miss her. She is the only friend I have who is not gung-ho about getting married and having kids.

I joined another group on meetup.com and am planning to go to my first meetup next week. It's a dinner, and SO is coming with me. I hope it's fun. I tend to be shy in social settings, but I need to branch out and make new friends.

SO and I signed up for the next round of pottery-making. Yes - I lured him into it!

Long weekend, yippee!! The Christmas tree will come down tomorrow. Otherwise, not a thing on my schedule. Nice. I need some down time.

a fat monkey

January 10th, 2007 at 12:18 pm

My head is killing me this afternoon. I know all the triggers this time - stress, staring at the computer all day, and the two beers I had last night.

Stress. It makes me eat more, eat poorly, crave chocolate and salt, want to curl into a ball, be snippy with my SO and the incessant meow-meows, feel down, and creates one big headache. The only thing it hasn't done yet this time around is make me spend money friviously.

I am $437 poorer today. I am grateful that I have a job and make enough money to be able to cover the car repair. The shop owner told me that I should only consider a new car when my average repair bills total $300 a month. $300? I couldn't afford a $300/month car payment. I am seriously considering getting rid of this car, though.

I got the first two seasons of Grey's Anatomy for Christmas, and finished watching season one last night. A friend turned me on to the show last fall, and though I'm not much of a medical drama fan, it's mindless entertainment.

It's amazing how stress can feel like a real, tangible object - like a (fat) monkey sitting on your back, weighing you down. I'm sure everyone here has experienced that feeling when it comes to financial struggles. It's shaking him off that's the trick.

the car strikes again

January 9th, 2007 at 06:32 am

2007 is off to a seriously crappy start.

My car started shuddering violently on Friday. I took it into the shop last night, and the repair estimate is $437. That's if they can get the spark plugs out (apparently they are rusted in place). I have about had it with this car. I don't have another $436 to spend on it, unless I take money away from my vacation plans. So much for Mexico. I cannot get ahead.

Our electric bill came yesterday. Last month it was $90 - this month, $146. I have no idea what that is about, but I'm not happy about it. We have a programmable thermostat. Maybe it was all the holiday baking, but an extra $56 in holiday baking??

My sister's university will not give her any more financial aid this year. I'm not sure what that will mean for her.

My parents are in rough shape. I'm not close enough to check up on them and force them to eat and sleep. I feel helpless.

Yes, I wish they had planned better. I wish they had saved more for retirement. I wish they had been able to pay off more than a fraction of their house. There's not much we can do at this point but look back and wish things had been done differently. The thing is, they don't have new cars, they don't have expensive toys, and they don't frivolously waste money.

I hope they can get past the feeling of desperation and hopelessness and try to move forward. This is why living paycheck to paycheck is very, very bad.

considering a PT job

January 6th, 2007 at 09:10 am

Thank you for your thoughts and advice on my family's financial situation. Keep it coming, if you think of anything more. I am really not sure how they are going to do this. I just edited a letter from my sister to send to her financial aid office, asking for more help...hope it comes through. Your comments have really been helpful.

I'm considering getting a part-time job to help out my family. There are lots of stores nearby, including Michaels and Barnes and Noble. However, retail really doesn't pay that well. How does one come across freelance writing/editing jobs? What other things could I do that would pay a bit more than retail?(Besides standing on the corner of Hennepin Avenue, of course) Wink

We just picked up a Yucatan travel guide a couple of days ago, but I don't really feel good about taking an expensive trip to Mexico at this point. Maybe it would be better to forego the pricey island getaway and find something cheaper around Cancun or Tulum. I still really want to go, but am feeling guilty. SO and I need to discuss this further. I don't feel good about moving away, either. It's amazing how one little incident can change perspective on everything.

I'm so glad it's the weekend!!

advice needed

January 5th, 2007 at 08:07 am

Devastating news today - my father was fired from his job yesterday. He worked there for 25 years. They have been slowly trying to force him out for the last several months...it's a long story, but the end result is that now, he's jobless.

He has no college degree. My mother has an AA degree but has not worked in 24 years. My sister has 1.5 years of college left.

How can I help them?

I asked them to send me their resumes so I can update them. I told him to ask friends for job references. He is getting a severence package, but it won't amount to much after taxes.

What does one do after 25 years?? I can't believe the audacity.

Your thoughts, suggestions, advice...all welcome.


January 2nd, 2007 at 11:06 am

Happy 2007!!

Is it a relief to anyone else to finally find the holidays behind us? All that prep work, all that planning, and then *poof*, it's done. I, for one, am glad for it.

It seems that late 2006 was a baby-making year. I personally know four people who just announced that they are pregnant, one of which happens to be my best friend. Another friend of mine recently told me that best-frienddom ends once marriage enters the picture. She must be right, because I had no inkling that my best friend wanted to have a baby now (or, three months ago, incidentally). I am officially out of the loop.

News like this inevitably makes me reflect on my own life and its apparent stagnation. Everyone is pursuing careers and creating families and doing that which makes them happy. It's time I make me happy. I am tired of being the person who is always there for everyone else.

I applied to a few jobs in Oregon today and am researching the safest Portland neighborhoods to live in. Any recommendations, Oregonians? Mexico may have to wait...I'm ready to leave Minnesota.

counting down

December 22nd, 2006 at 10:34 am

I leave for my parents' house tomorrow evening. I can't wait! I'm so glad this busy week is almost over.

I've been working overtime this week, trying to get everything wrapped, organized and packed, meeting up with people, cleaning the house, etc - just like everyone else, I'm sure.

Last night I saw the movie, "Pursuit of Happyness", with my friend from Boston. The movie was great...a little slow, but with purpose. It definitely gave me something to think about. It was good to catch up with him, too. A year had passed since I had last seen him, but it felt like a day. I guess that's what's called comfortable...? He may be working here next summer, which would be great.

I can't complain about the cost of the movie - $6.50 each - but a large popcorn and two drinks was $15.75. Ouch! I so rarely go to movies, though, that it won't break the bank.

Tonight SO and I are having dinner with friends/family members (Indian food, I hope!). We got socked with a bizarre mix of rain, ice pellets, and enormous snowflakes yesterday, so I hope the roads are decent this evening. Just a quick plug for Yaktrax - I pulled mine out yesterday in anticipation of the ice storm, and they ROCK. They easily strapped onto the bottoms of my shoes, and I didn't slip at all. What a great invention!

Seriously, is it really December 22? Wasn't it just October?? Where has this year gone?

I'm retreating to the land of dial-up internet for a week, so enjoy the holidays!! Take time to concentrate on the best things in life (the free stuff!). Smile


December 19th, 2006 at 12:18 pm

What a nice day!

Someone on another team complimented my team, so we all got little balloons on our desks. Nice. I had my annual review this morning...not sparkling, but my boss assured me that I am doing a good job, and told me to keep on doing what I'm doing. No news on a raise yet, but we'll all be finding out soon. I realized that any raise I receive will go straight to inflated medical costs - insurance went up a ton this year.

I'm the new employee trainer again today...not my favorite thing in the world, but I just have to remind myself that next week I won't be at work!

Bittersweet moment last night...I know my massage friend is happy to return to her home country, where she is a doctor, but she's sad about leaving too. She invited us to visit someday. I'd like that.

Trying hard to concentrate on my big savings goal - Mexico 2007. So far, I've got $360 in the account.

We have only spent about $150 on groceries this month, and that will be all we'll spend. That's some sort of record, especially for December! We picked up four very cheap artichokes at Trader Joes, steamed them, and had them for dinner the other night. They were sooooo good. I love artichokes...they will always remind me of Chile. I ate them constantly there. I wish they were cheaper here!

I'm reading the Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (it's a bunch of short stories). She crafts a great story, and is quite skilled, but every single one so far has been depressing! I hope at least one ends well.

We don't have a flake of snow on the ground, but they say a storm is on its way. I heard people on the bus complaining about the lack of snow. I couldn't be more pleased with 45 degrees!

stockings will be stuffed!

December 18th, 2006 at 10:54 am

I went a little overboard on stocking stuffers.

Organic chocolate, raspberry chocolate, peach buds, ginger candy, rice candy (no idea what that's like, but that's part of the fun), Swiss Army knife-shaped chocolate, chocolate from England and Switzerland, maple candy from Vermont, rose candy from somewhere, mini-hot sauce, mini-saffron tubes, mini-summer sausage - the list goes on and on. I stopped by World Market, and their international food section is such fun.

SO started feeling lots better on Friday (thanks, mjrube94!).

We baked and baked and baked this weekend - spiced biscotti, orange almond biscotti, chocolate almond biscotti, honey lavender biscotti, snickers fudge, raspberry truffles, orange truffles, and chocolate covered pretzels. SO dipped some of the biscotti in melted chocolate as well. Most of it is packaged up and ready to go out. What happened to "I'll start this earlier next year"? I'll say it again - I'll start this baking thing earlier next year.

In addition, we finally tossed lights at the tree and bought a few ornaments. The living room is so cozy.

Work is so incredibly slow...I could be so much more productive at home, wrapping gifts and packing.

Tonight our massage friend is coming over for the last time. She is moving back to her home country. We will miss her, and our monthly massages!! Frown

Thursday I'm getting together with a friend; Friday we're having dinner with relatives; Saturday we've got to give the frog prince to the birthday girl; and then I'm off to my parents' house for a week! Yowza!

Easier Snickers Fudge Recipe

December 18th, 2006 at 06:45 am

I finished the annual Snickers Fudge yesterday, and used much easier methods. It turned out better than it ever has. It's still time-consuming, but the microwave and non-stick foil makes it much easier!


Bottom Layer
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips

1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
7 oz jar marshmallow cream
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts

Caramel Layer
14 oz package caramels
1/4 cup whipping cream

Top Layer
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips

Cover the bottom and sides of a 13x9x2 pan with non-stick aluminum foil. Fold excess aluminum foil over the sides of the pan, so you can easily pull out the fudge later.

Bottom Layer: Combine the ingredients in a microwavable measuring cup; microwave in one-minute increments, stirring between each minute, until smooth. Spread onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate until set.

Filling: Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sugar and milk. Bring to a boil; boil and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; quickly stir in the marshmallow cream, peanut butter, and vanilla. Add peanuts. Spread over bottom layer (work fast!). Refrigerate until set.

Caramel Layer: Combine caramels and cream in a microwavable container; microwave in one-minute increments, stirring between each minute, until smooth. Spread over the filling. Refrigerate until set.

Top Layer: Combine the ingredients in a microwavable measuring cup; microwave in one-minute increments, stirring between each minute, until smooth. Pour over the caramel layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Grip the excess aluminum foil and pull fudge out of pan. Gently flip the fudge onto a cutting board, and slowly pull off the aluminum foil (if you've used non-stick foil, this should be easy). Using a large knife, cut the fudge into one-inch squares. Wrap fudge in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

stuck to the list, but...

December 15th, 2006 at 09:03 am

My Target run the other night went pretty well. I stuck to the list and spent my budgeted amount of $60 (only a few cents over!). However, I couldn't find a few things:

- parchment paper
- cellophane bags (to put fudge into)
- a cat toobrush and toothpaste

My furry little girl has tarter on her teeth, so we need to start scrubbing. Wink We'll see how well that goes over. I'll just look at a pet store for that.

Parchment paper and cellophane bags have me mystified, though. I know we bought those cellophane bags at Target last winter. Where else should I look? Would the dollar store have them? Walmart?

Last night was biscotti night. I made a spiced biscotti, and it turned out so well! The first attempt yielded fabulous results. I need to pick up a few more ingredients (where did my bottle of honey wander off to??) and I'll finish my holiday baking this weekend.

SO has had the flu this week, so we haven't collectively accomplished much. The tree is still untrimmed (still beautiful, though!). I'm fighting off the illness with lots of tea, Halls Defense drops, multi-vitamins, and Airborne. Maybe it's just the placebo effect, but I love that Airborne stuff.

So glad it's Friday!!

car thoughts

December 13th, 2006 at 09:18 am

Yesterday I talked to a friend about how much I've spent on car repairs this year - $1368. Now, that's only about $114 a month (much cheaper than a car payment), but it doesn't get driven much these days, since I normally take the bus to work. I think as it sits idly in the driveway, it concocts new clunking sounds, lights to burn out, and parts to throw to the ground. As I drove to work this morning, I contemplated my future with this car.

Since I don't drive much right now, I don't really need a new car. I am pretty tired of throwing money at it, though. The engine had a brand new whine this morning when I started it up.

I expect to pay off my smaller college loan next summer. If I could find a car payment that tops out at $200 a month, I think I could swing it. The only problem is that the cars I like are twice that much. Wink Something to think about. I'm glad I have the luxury of time and alternative commuting methods.

Last night I avoided Target...tonight, I will not be so lucky. The key is to walk in with my list and not deviate from it. I need cellophane bags for fudge and mini muffin cups for truffles. I'm nearly done with my crocheting projects! Whoohoo!

I'm hoping to get a raise soon. Overtime work this fall has not panned out like I thought it would. I need to canvass the house and throw some things up for sale if I'm going to have enough cash for a vacation. I think I'll try amazon.com for books and such.

Free breakfast and lunch at work today, with vegetarian options this time! Yeah!

2 Year Blogoversary!

December 12th, 2006 at 06:50 am

Two years! I can hardly believe it. I joined Saving Advice in November 2004, and started this blog just a couple of weeks later. Back then they were called "journals" and were integrated into the forum website. Though we switched over to this great blog format, I kept the original name (journal), because it feels more personal and intimate. I write about all kinds of things happening in my life, and most of the time, they affect my finances one way or the other.

I've learned so much from this community of warm, wonderful, respectful savers. It's truly a blessing to have a place where everyone has a common goal - saving more. In a big bad world where keeping up with the Jones is the norm, it's refreshing to step into this little "safe" zone and talk about washing plastic baggies! and saving on toilet paper! and clipping coupons!

Thank you, Jeffrey and Nate, for creating this welcoming environment. Thank you, dear reader, for reading my posts and responding with thoughtful, insightful advice. I've learned far more from everyone here than I ever thought possible, way back when I started this blog!

Happy Tuesday!

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