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2008 update

November 30th, 2008 at 08:11 am

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 09:15 am

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.

Labor Day weekend recap

September 7th, 2007 at 01:52 pm

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. Wink

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!

nicest home on the web

July 30th, 2007 at 11:01 am

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 08:35 am

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:



hello! :)

July 24th, 2007 at 07:58 am

Hi there!

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. Wink 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!

still processing

April 20th, 2007 at 09:01 am

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 07:57 am

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!

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?

meet...?

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.

as promised...

December 3rd, 2006 at 02:53 pm

13 ugly pots, and a little goose face.
More on my flickr page - click on the photos to the right.



beautiful Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2006 at 02:31 pm

What a perfect Thanksgiving day. The weather was gorgeous, so we visited the goose park again - this time I brought my digital camera. I'll have the photos up soon (take a peek to the right, and you'll find my new flickr links). The food was amazing; my sister-in-law made some incredible no-knead bread and cranberry mousse. I could have sucked that mousse through a straw, it was so good. The younger kids are learning how to form and write sentences. I absolutely love the sparkle that learning to read and write gives kids...I could have worked on it with them all night. Wink

I've got about $85 left to spend for holiday gifts. We're debating about the Christmas tree...last year we bought a live one, which I love, but it was a little pricey. Boughs give off a nice pine scent and cost a lot less. My niece requested a crocheted scarf, so I'll have to get some hot pink yarn. I'm feeling pretty good about my gifts; now I've just got to wrap them, and start baking like mad.

Today's weather is a repeat of yesterday. It's 54 degrees right now! Love it. I wish I had the day off, but I'll bask in the warm air as soon as I walk out the door.

Have a great weekend!!

photos developed

July 9th, 2006 at 06:18 pm

I guess I got a roll of film developed today, too...but I used a $3 off coupon. Wink






summer fruits

July 7th, 2006 at 04:38 pm

My first pepper!



and tomatoes are well on their way...



I love summer. Big Grin

looking back on the last six months

June 30th, 2006 at 01:02 pm

Six month averages

Savings: $171 per month
- Definitely not as high as it could be!

Normal bills: $788 per month

Medical bills & prescriptions: $118 per month
- Much higher than usual with all this chiropractic/headache care stuff

House/Pet needs: $168 per month
- Not as high as I expected!

Food (including eating out and snacks at work): $260 per month
- Way too high. My grocery bills may put me in the Thrifty Plan of the USDA chart, but eating out is busting my budget.

Entertainment: $175 per month
- Pretty high, what with all the crafting, photo-taking, and anniversary celebrating.

Gifts: $88 per month
- Not as high as I expected!

Personal products/Clothing/Haircuts/Massages: $158 per month
- Pretty high for not having had a massage for half of those months - it's the spring/summer clothes.

Gasoline/Parking/Car Maintenance: $213 per month
- So high only because I finally fixed the car in March! Without that, only $63 per month.

The worst part about this? The average total spent is more than I take home per month. *sigh*

It's easy to feel like this!



(taken at the Como Zoo in March)

a few photos

June 29th, 2006 at 07:31 am

Our stay at a bed and breakfast was wonderful. It was nice to take a day off in the middle of the week and bask in the sunshine. We rode our bikes all over town and enjoyed the perfect spring weather! This was one of my favorite views of the Mississippi:



All in all, we had a great anniversary, and neither of us wanted to come home.

Ways we saved money:
- Used our $95 in cash back from our credit card to help pay for our room at the bed and breakfast.
- Used two Entertainment Book half-off coupons for lunch and a coffee break. Saved $10.
- Bought four pieces of pottery, three of which came from the "seconds" room, so we got 10% off. I bought an awesome "seconds" cookie jar with a new lid and saved $10. We took an hour-long tour of the pottery factory, and since we had made a purchase, the tour was only $.50 each.

Last weekend we visited the Arboretum - here's a pretty photo:



and, as promised, a photo of the hidden waterfall near the campground we stayed at a few weeks ago (SO took this one):

whirlwind zoo trip

June 8th, 2006 at 07:07 pm

We only had half an hour at the free zoo tonight, so I only got one photo. Cutiepie, though.

latest photos

May 11th, 2006 at 09:29 am

Taking a break from soul-searching for a minute.

SO and hiked around a park near our house the other day and I took these photos. I'm still trying to figure out how to get the best photos out of my 35mm camera...practice makes perfect! Too bad it's so expensive to get them developed.





my change jar

April 15th, 2006 at 08:47 am

Here's my change jar:



My mom gave it to me several years ago. I keep pennies, dimes, and nickels in it - quarters go elsewhere and get used up a lot faster. A nice twist on the piggy bank!

authentic Mexican dinner

April 13th, 2006 at 07:37 am

Last night I met up with a couple of girlfriends and we went to a really authentic Mexican restaurant for dinner. The food was excellent! The neighborhood, not so much. I was a little concerned about my car getting jacked even though it was still light outside. It's unfortunate that the really good Mexican restaurants are in a horrible part of town. I would not go down there by myself. Really awesome, fresh tortillas, though, and a delicious, authentic Mexican drink! Only $10.

I've been messing around with my digital camera more lately, trying to master all of its features. I finished reading one library book about 35mm photography and have several more waiting for me at home. Today I brought "Photographing People" to read during lunch, as I am heading over to take more photos of the new baby tonight.

Anyone notice the gorgeous full moon? I was playing around with my digital camera's night mode last night. Wink

my (furry) babies

April 12th, 2006 at 09:14 am

No real financial news today...just wanted to share some photos of my babies.

This one thinks he's a puppy:


and this one is as sweet as can be (when she's not leaping at the drapes):

I've had better weekends

March 27th, 2006 at 07:39 am

What a crappy weekend.

I got really sick on Friday night and it stuck all weekend. I am still feeling ill today and am contemplating going home early. We'll see if the meds kick in or not.

My sister's childhood pet is dying. My parents are going through the awful pain of watching it happen and my sister is devastated. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time crying and not much else. I feel helpless. I know exactly how she feels, since my cat passed away two years ago. I wish there was something I could do. My parents are in very rough shape.

We did go to the zoo yesterday as a distraction procedure for my sister. Here's a little lion yawn to represent Mondays across the globe:

snow photos

March 13th, 2006 at 07:49 pm