Last night I stopped by Costco to fill up my gas tank ($22) and decided to go inside for a few staple groceries too ($16) - cauliflower to make aloo gobi, kale salad, bagels, and bananas. I resisted the delicious snack aisle and stuck to basics.
The rest of the month should stay on budget. I've only eaten out twice this month and don't expect to again, unless my coworker really does want to go out for lunch on Friday (we'll see). If so, I've already got cash for just such an occasion.
I've had this blog for so long that I know there are people in my real life (read: my ex) who know of its existence. How do you handle that? I find that I don't want to say much on the off-chance that someone IRL (not from this site) might be reading.
Last night I stopped by Costco to fill up my gas tank ($22) and decided to go inside for a few staple groceries too ($16) - cauliflower to make aloo gobi, kale salad, bagels, and bananas. I resisted the delicious snack aisle and stuck to basics.
I've successfully avoided shopping for over a week! I attended the local women's march on Saturday and went home afterwards rather than to Costco or Target. It was actually decent weather for January, but still chilly enough to make me want to go straight home and warm up! The march itself was really fun.
I'm trying to eat down my overstuffed pantry and freezer, so yesterday I made my weekly supply of soy yogurt, a lemon blueberry cake loaf, and a peanut sauce stir fry with mock duck. I need to get better at batch cooking for the week, but I've found I'm much less motivated to cook for one. Today's lunch was soup from my freezer, which I love having on hand. I'll need to make another batch of soup next weekend.
I'm waiting on a refund from The Limited of about $20. They recently filed for bankruptcy so I really hope I get my money back. I'm also waiting on a $60 rebate check from 1-800 Contacts.
I started my taxes and it looks like I'll get about $100 back...if I submit them manually. The online tax services are so expensive. I haven't filled out a paper tax return in years, so I'll have to stop by the library!
I watched Stuffocation on Netflix and now I'm about halfway through the book. My long-term goal is to buy a house, and I think changing my mindset about "stuff" will help me get there!
I've been terrible about blogging but I promise I'm still lurking (as several of you know).
The two cats and I are living in the duplex I mentioned in my last post. After a few necessary changes done by my landlord (new carpeting, new dishwasher, etc) it's a pretty decent place. My eventual goal is to have a house of my own, but before that, I'll have to replace my 16-year-old car.
My job is great! I have a fantastic boss and coworkers, and I've learned so much. I received a promotion late last year (just a salary boost and recognition for all the work I had already been doing), which was so appreciated. I'm still not as challenged as I'd like to be, but I'm happy to be well employed.
One of my older single lady role model friends emphasized my need to ensure that I'm protecting myself financially from here on out, because all I've got is me. Admittedly, I haven't been great at that since I started on this new journey, but saving as much is possible is my main goal for 2017. The somewhat terrifying political climate we're about to enter into solidified that for me.
2017 Financial Goals:
- Continue to send 6% to retirement plan
- Continue to send $25 a month to Roth
- Save $2000 in emergency fund (and don't touch it unless it's an actual emergency)
- Save $200 a month for eventual car payment
- Get my age of money to 30 days in YNAB
- Reduce grocery bill
- Get out more (meet some new people via meetup.com or elsewhere)
- Read 15 books
- Lose weight/more yoga/climbing gym
Yes, that deserves all caps and three exclamation points. Not only did I just accept a position at a great place, my salary is right where I wanted it (read: much higher than I've made at former jobs), and it really seems to be a great fit. The people were genuinely nice, it ties into one of my college majors a bit, and I think I'll get to use most of my skills. Plus it's a brand new position, so I'll be building it from the ground up. I start in a couple of weeks.
I'm seriously thrilled. I can't wait! It doesn't seem real!
Tonight I'm looking at a duplex that's available May 1. It seems pretty perfect. There is a lot of interest in it, so we'll see... but if I want it and get it, I'll be moving ASAP. The actual act of moving is not something I look forward to, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Things finally feel like they are moving forward!
Now I need to buy a few key work clothing pieces and to lose these 10 pounds of stress weight I've gained in the last six months. All in due time. I think I'll have the opportunity to walk a lot more at my new job, and they have an in-house gym!
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.
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.
Last year I set some pretty serious goals for my 35th year. Now I'm 36 and, well, things are certainly changing.
I ended my relationship with SO last month. We've been through a lot together in the last 12 years, but my patience for change that will never come is gone. Something Baselle said a couple of years ago here on her blog stuck with me ever since - she said she looked around and couldn't imagine continuing life with her partner for another 30 years. Neither can I. I refuse to sacrifice my happiness any longer.
Unfortunately, I haven't found work (and neither has he), so I'm still living in his house. I've been sorting and tossing and donating and packing all of my things for weeks - so on one hand, it's nice to have the time and space to do that. Most rental properties here require you to sign a no-move-out clause during the winter months anyway, so there's not a lot on the market right now. It's not a big deal (just very awkward still living together), but I look forward to my own space.
As a friend said, I'm ripping off the old and starting an entirely new page - new job, new apartment, new life on my own (with my cats). No stress here.
I have a number of successful, happy older women in my life who live alone, so I know it can be done. I'll have to make a greater effort to get out and see people - the introvert in me likes to stay home most of the time, but I've got to get out there and have a life! Unfortunately this split means that I am losing the vast majority of my contacts here - his family. I've been debating moving out of state, but that might be a bit too much at once right now.
Anyway - financial things - the whole purpose of this blog:
- I have inheritance money set aside that I can use to move. Thankfully my parents are more than willing to help too, but I'd rather not ask them for anything.
- I've got a stack of books to get rid of. I've got a stack of photography stuff to get rid of. I hate selling things online, but I need money.
- I've got a list of things I'll need to buy for a new apartment.
- Rent prices (at least what's available now) are INSANE. I had no idea. They have skyrocketed since my last apartment, so I'll likely need to make at least $22 an hour to afford one - more than I've made to date. I also need a place that is relatively quiet and takes cats. I have one very anxious cat who is very sensitive to noise. She'll adjust - she has to - but neither of us would be happy in a big apartment complex. Fingers crossed.
- I still need a career. One that actually pays actual money so I can support myself for the rest of my life. I love non-profits, but damn, they don't pay well and their long-term viability is always an issue.
I should close this by saying - I'm happy. I'm terrified and anxious and the future is a completely mucky unclear mess, but a weight lifted when I finally made the decision. Now I just have to hope for the best.
I did not get the job I interviewed for, so I asked for feedback. They told me that my supervisor said that not only does she think I am overqualified for their job, she thinks I am overqualified for my current job, and implied that I am bored. I have always been insanely busy, so much so that my supervisor increased my hours. And I have LOVED my job. I let the interviewers know that her opinion does not reflect my reality, but I don't expect to hear from them again. I can't believe she ruined that for me, but she has systematically ruined everything she has touched since she started, so I shouldn't be surprised.
I find myself struggling to job hunt lately. The daily clenched-stomach feeling of working with two people who hate each other, coupled with the heartbreak of the organization I love closing, AND the stress of not knowing how my partner and I will finance the future is weighing heavily on me.
In light of that, I took a day off and buzzed out of town to see my parents last week. Apart from my Dad telling me that he's certain he's going to die within the next six years(!), it was enjoyable. Truly. It was lovely to get out of town and spend some time with them. Driving there by myself was also good reflection time.
A program presenter just stopped in my office and gratefully told me I am like the Holy Spirit, the invisible one who just makes things happen. (I set up everything for her program today while my coworkers stayed shored up in their closed offices.) I will miss my interactions with these quirky people.
I think I need more time to decompress.
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.
Thanks for your insights. The job thing worked itself out without me having to say a thing (which, incidentally, seems to be the best policy around my workplace lately anyway). I'll be starting 30 hours a week next week, which is just perfect for right now.
SO is having complications from type 1 diabetes and found out that he will need to have eye surgery next month. We are getting a second opinion later this week.
It makes sense for him to choose Cobra coverage for now, since he has to have this surgery and has already reached his deductible. I won't get health insurance through my job until April. The cost of Cobra is absolutely prohibitive for me. After being unable to register on the MNsure website today, I filled out a paper form and will wait for them to send me information. If something terrible happens between now and April, I can still backdate my Cobra.
I was about to head to Trader Joe's after work today, but I knew shopping with a hungry stomach would be a bad idea, so I went home instead. After updating YNAB, I realized that if I hang in there until March, I will actually be *under* my grocery budget this month! So I think I'll wait. Nothing is pressing, so I can hang on for a bit longer!
This winter is really a long one - I can't wait for spring, especially with the seed catalogs are already filling my mailbox!
My boss wants me to increase my hours. The desired amount of the increase seems to change from week to week. Right now I work 20 hours, and could go to 30 or possibly 40. Boss asked if I would do 40 today. No talk of a higher salary.
Pros of 30:
- get benefits at a lower cost than I would at 20 hrs
- extra free time and ability to visit family on short notice (which I value intensely since my layoff and family illnesses/deaths)
- more time to apply to other jobs and interview
Cons of 30:
- can't cover the mortgage
- will I be viewed as lazy by society at large? (do I care?)
- if I need to increase my hours down the road, they may not go for it
Pros of 40:
- more money coming in
- looks better on a resume
- get benefits at a lower cost than I would at 20 hrs
- we need all the money we can get since SO is out of work, even though it would barely cover the mortgage
- I could conceivably support myself if necessary
Cons of 40:
- I don't think I like where the company is going (and my job satisfaction has greatly decreased)
- Boss sometimes makes me uncomfortable
- Less free time
- Would it really be 40 hours, or more? Weekend expectations?
- More exposure to in-fighting among coworkers
- Would likely greatly upset a difficult coworker whose hours and benefits would get cut so mine could be increased
- I'd be making what I was making in 2001, which frankly is not great. If I'm working full time and exchanging my precious free time, I feel like I should be making far more than that. I guess I justified 20 hours a week at this salary because I could balance it with my free time.
Making this list helped clear my thoughts a bit, but I'm still torn.
I turned 35 last week, and it's throwing me for a loop. Ordinarily I love birthdays, but this one just felt odd. I already felt like something - maybe several things - really needed to change once 2014 turned over. Shouldn't 35-year-olds have it together?
So I decided a few things:
- This year will be make-it or break-it with SO.
- I need a career. Like an actual, bonafide career. I love doing research. I'm a great administrative worker. I have a bunch of creative talents. I'm friendly and kind, but dealing with a constant stream of people drains me. I'd love to do something that specifically helps women. I need to make enough money to support myself and save for retirement. I'm not sure how to mash all of those things together yet.
- I need to start doing more out in the world. Volunteering somewhere, taking a class, maybe joining an orchestra again, finally attending a vegan meetup group - something (or many things). I need to make more plans with the friends I've got, too.
I've got 47 levels of stress and am working on centering myself to deal with it all. I've started doing five minutes of yoga every morning while my tea brews. I'm learning about chakras. I imagine the stress leaving the top of my head and my stomach calming whenever things feel out of control. I think it's helping.
And now for my bizarre story of the day:
My dental hygienist (whom I adore and have been seeing for 10+ years) gave me a lengthy lecture today on how my eggs are getting old and I had better freeze them before I turn 38. I gently told her several times that I'm not sure I want kids, but she persisted. I have good genes, blue eyes, a good figure, and that would all go to waste, she said. Then she suggested that I freeze half my eggs and donate the other half to her. I could be the child's godmother and take the child should she die soon. *CUE CRICKETS* She revealed that she had just paid $20,000 for an egg donor. I'm not sure why she would want my old eggs, in that case...
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
- 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
Yes, it's been a couple of years since I last checked in. Sorry about that. I've still been reading your blogs and commenting when I can.
Since my last post, I haven't worked full-time. I've been looking, applying and occasionally interviewing, but nothing has come through. I am very lucky to have SO, because he has pulled us through. Unfortunately he was laid off again a week ago, and is scrambling to try to find something new. Fortunately he has marketable skills!
We bought a house over a year ago and adopted another cat. Living in our own home (with a garden!!) is so fantastic. I can't wait for spring so I can plant again.
An elderly family member passed away and left me a bit of money, which I've used to pay off my student loans (wheeeeee!!!) and invested in my photography business. I am officially up and running now, all the legal business hoopla done, and trying to launch this thing. I am slightly dreading doing my taxes next year because of it, but I have to hope that it will all pay off in the long run. I won't get studio space until I have consistent paying clientele, so at the moment I drag all my equipment around, but that's ok. I love being a photographer.
I need some sort of small business financial software. Any suggestions?
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!
I was laid off on Tuesday; my last day is the 15th. Several people from the company are getting canned, and I knew things were bad, but I was surprised to be one of those cut. The magazines I worked on only had three employees as it was - now there's one. Sounds like a setup for failure to me.
I went home that day, dreading telling SO, just because I knew it would complicate things. He asked me how my day was...I said, not so great, I got laid off today. He said, are you kidding me? No, not kidding....and then he said he got laid off, too. ON THE SAME DAY. That sounds like a script from a poorly written melodrama, but unfortunately, it's true. It was so absurd, we just laughed. They gave him a month's notice.
So...I'm job searching again, in earnest. Fun times. I am trying to convince SO that we should move, since now we've got nothing tying us down. Costa Rica! Mexico! Oregon! Washington! Really, though, it's everything I can do not to ball up into the fetal position.
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?
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!!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I've taken a bit of a break from blogging lately...a combination of spending too much and feeling guilty about it, not saving enough and feeling guilty about it, and spending my time doing other things. Still checking in on the rest of you, though.
I'm taking an Adobe Photoshop class soon, and am very excited about it. I think I'll learn a lot and it will really help my photography. Pricey, though, as are all computer classes.
I had an eye appointment and bought new contacts. Though I'll get a $100 rebate soon, it was still a chunk of change. This month I've got several medical appointments, including one to a neurologist (the migraines have returned). Yippee skippee.
I had an extremely busy Labor Day weekend with five house guests - fun, but stressful! We took them to the State Fair, joining about 190,000 other people:
I baked a vegan Boston Cream Pie for my sister's birthday (it was a hit):
and we visited the site of the 35W bridge collapse. The city finally opened up one of the nearby streets overlooking the site.
More photos here.
This weekend will involve me, my bed, a big jug of water, and a bottle of vitamins. I seem to have caught a cold after all that fun!
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. 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!
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.
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.
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:
I haven't had much financial news to report lately. This month I'm finally able to save a chunk of my salary. June was expensive with all the baby shower costs, our anniversary, and The Police concert. The concert was amazing, and I'm so glad I forked over the cash for that expensive ticket months ago. It was well worth it.
My friend's baby was born recently, and I was lucky enough to be there right after the birth. What an wonderful experience! I'm heading over this weekend to try to get a few photos of the kiddo.
This month I'm working very hard to keep a tight reign on spending. I had another job interview last week, this time for a web writing position, and it went very well. I'm supposed to hear from them soon...keeping my fingers crossed! The only down side is the 45+ minute commute. I'd have to buy a new car. The salary would be higher, though, so maybe I'll get lucky!
Grocery spending has been way higher than usual lately, but in thinking about it, it makes sense. I hardly ever eat out anymore, and I've been buying lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, and pantry staples. It's the little "extras" I have to do away with...but even those are more infrequent these days. There just isn't that much pre-packaged junk food I can eat (most of it contains dairy), and I'm happy about that. It really simplifies shopping!
I'm growing zucchini, three different types of peppers, three different types of tomatoes, basil, and cilantro on my deck. Everything is flourishing (provided I water the plants religously!). I've already harvested three zucchinis! Yum! I can't wait for the peppers to mature. Last year I chopped up and froze enough peppers to last into late fall, and I had less plants last season.
Now for a few recent photos! Here are my favorites from last weekend's farmers' market trip:
Here's Sunday's breakfast of vegan apple pancakes, topped with fresh raspberries from the farmers' market:
I'm really digging the food photography lately. I'm still doing Project 365 as well, and learning lots about my camera!
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!
Had a very short job interview this morning. It would be as a project coordinator for a translation firm.
- Free parking
- Something new and different
- Diversity of projects (10-15 juggled at one time)
- About $5,000 more per year
- End-of-year bonus
- Everyone in the office seemed happy as they walked in, which is unusual
- Pretty much the same commute
- No two days are the same
- Casual, pleasant work environment - jeans!
- Some proofreading, more Quark experience
- Small office, everyone around my age
- The person who would be my boss hardly spoke to me at all - she was more interested in checking her email
- They stressed how stressful and chaotic the job is
- I'd have to track down translators and beg them to finish projects on time, and then dock their pay when they don't, and explain why (yuck, I hate confrontation)
- They want me to do a 1/2 day (4 hours!) job shadow before they even offer me the job, just to see if I like it (unpaid, and I'd have to take time off of work)
So - more money, more stress? Is it worth it? I can't decide.
My job now is not very stressful, not even remotely challenging, pretty much the same every day (boring), and I haven't been happy with it since the second month on the job.
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. 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:
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! 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?
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