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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!

cookies, anyone?

August 9th, 2007 at 01:02 pm

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

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

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

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

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


June 5th, 2007 at 08:26 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

made a purchase

April 30th, 2007 at 09:02 am

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

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

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

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

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

P365, Day 9: Maplewood's enormous snowman

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

A Thai Goodbye

April 27th, 2007 at 08:07 am

P365 Day 6, oil lamp:

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

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

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

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

change of plans

March 23rd, 2007 at 09:01 am

I'm heading to Florida!

photo link

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

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

Time to dig out the summer clothes!

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...

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!

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.

about to drive the car off a cliff

January 17th, 2007 at 06:37 am

On Monday, I drove my car around town and it ran just fine (after adding antifreeze, of course).

On Tuesday, I drove it to work. It had a hard time starting up in the morning, but I assumed that was because it was our coldest overnight temperature yet this season. It ran just fine after warming up.

I went out to the car after work, and it had a hard time starting up. Again, I assumed it was because it was -4 degrees. It ran just fine after warming up.

On the way home, I stopped at a gas station two blocks from my house to fill it up. Shut the car off, filled it up, paid for the gas, got back in, and....nothing. All the electrics worked, but the engine would not even attempt to turn over. SO came and tried to jump it (we didn't think it would work, but tried anyway). We pushed it off to the side and waited an hour and a half for a tow truck.

The car is sitting at the shop...again. I could scream. I'm waiting to find out what the problem is this time, and how many hundreds of dollars it will cost.*

And can I just say...there were tons of people at that gas station. SO and I were trying to push that thing off to the side for at least 15 minutes (those big lumps in the concrete, mixed with icy snow, weren't so helpful). Only one person stopped to help us. One person! (A very nice, petite woman, I might add.) Bubbas in their pickup trucks were zooming around us (irritated that we were in their precious way) but did they stop to get OUT of their pickups and help push?? Nooooo...

* Looks like it will be $375 to fix this stupid thing. The starter needs to be replaced...again. After this, I have no more savings.

trading boring for...boring?

January 16th, 2007 at 08:40 am

At what point is it a good idea to change jobs? If I had a potential opportunity that paid slightly more but offered less benefits, meant a longer commute, and was potentially just as boring as this job, is it worth taking? Just to get away? I had a terrible time getting out of bed this morning after a three-day weekend. All I could think about was how boring my job is, and how I wish I was doing something else. Trading boring for boring may not be the best choice, but it would be different, I guess.

I started up my car yesterday, and it sounded awful. I popped the hood, and voila! No antifreeze! None whatsoever! So I dumped some in, and now it's fine. You'd think those people I just paid $430 to would have noticed that there was no antifreeze. Grrr.

We spent $100 on spices this weekend. Yes - $100 on spices (half of it was for my mother) - at Penzeys Spices. We got some great curry powder, a cheese blend, the Bangkok Blend (sweet peppers, garlic, ginger, black pepper, galangal, hot peppers, lemon grass, basil, cilantro), shallot salt, Vietnamese cinnamon, etc. I adore that store.

We also spent too much at Target, but what else is new?

Coming up this week: maternity clothes shopping with my pregnant friend, a meetup.com event, and a friend's birthday dinner.

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.

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

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!

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!!

just fine!

December 11th, 2006 at 07:13 am

I'm happy to say that Friday ended uneventfully! I have no idea what that feeling was about. I spent two hours on the phone with my mom, though, and it was good to catch up. Smile

I spent most of Saturday's holiday party talking to my nieces. Sometimes six-year-olds are the best conversationalists. A sister-in-law announced that she is pregnant again. I'm happy for them, but too bad they don't have health insurance.

My colorist repaired my hideous haircut and pumped up my highlights. I feel loads lighter. I think I'm done coloring my hair for a while...I decided this morning that I should enjoy my natural hair color before any gray hairs start peeping through. Wink

We found the perfect Christmas tree at a perfect price! We stumbled upon a local Lions Club selling 7' trees for $34. Can't beat a deal like that. We'll trim the tree tonight, though I don't think it needs it! I'm happy with a beautiful tree decked out in nothing but white lights. I love sitting on the couch and basking in their warm, pine-scented glow. Two weeks until Christmas!

and the problem with gift cards is...

December 7th, 2006 at 07:38 am

...that you inevitably end up spending more than you have left on the gift card. Last night we stepped into Ikea with our $13 gift card, and walked out with $100 in stuff. It was all good, useful stuff, and we found lots of gifts (and a set of beautiful blue-gray dishes, six place settings for $18!), but not exactly within in the budget. Then, the Gap. I found a gorgeous men's zip-up sweater hoodie for me, perfect, and bought it. I used up my gift card and spent an additional $47! Yowza! I did a little better in Sephora - used up my $52 gift card and only spent an extra $8. Yes, I'm one of those people who has ridiculously expensive lipstick on my wishlist. I'd never buy it myself, but that's what a wishlist is for - wishing. I certainly don't expect it to be sitting under the tree. I'd be just as happy with something much cheaper.

All in all, we were very productive yesterday, and the shopping atmosphere was perfect. Virtually no one was at the Mall of America. There's no way I'd step foot in that mall on a December weekend, but Wednesday night was great. Smile

I've got a holiday party to attend this weekend...a very religious holiday party (i.e. having the children dress up and reenact the birth of Christ). I'm going to need to build up my patience reserves between now and then.

My take on the holiday season is this - I'm not religious, but if you want to be, go ahead (just don't force it on me). Personally, I take this time to sit back, take stock of all that I have and am thankful for, and show my love and appreciation for my family and friends. I love buying and making gifts for people. I love the spirit of giving and cherishing those you care about. I like making others happy. That's what the holiday season means to me...and I feel good about that.

mish mash

November 30th, 2006 at 09:46 am

We're finally getting new hires on our work team, and - surprise! - I'm training one person in, starting Monday. I haven't had to train anyone for years. It should be interesting. We're also mixing it up; my cube partner is moving to a new spot, and I get a new person. Someday, when I finally get an office with a door all to myself, I will be ecstatic.

Last night I created four wine corkboards for holiday gifts. I just have to glue them together and *poof*, four sources of holiday stress, gone. A friend of mine is picking up corks from a restaurant for me tonight - more free materials! If you drink wine and hang on to the corks, let me know, because I'd love to have them. Smile

I'm a little nervous about making biscotti. My sister told me it is harder than it seems. Guess what I'll be experimenting with this weekend?

My sister and I took a step back in time last weekend and tried to think like a 6-year-old girl. My niece asked me to make her a scarf, and of course, her favorite color is hot pink. Sister and I hit the craft store, and juggled several skeins of hot pink yarn until we found the perfect fit. I might need to wear sunglasses to crochet it, but my niece will love it. Good thing I had my sister with me, because I never liked pink, not even as a kid.

I ordered my TransUnion free credit report, and it was decidedly unthorough. It had the least amount of information of the three. I didn't bother getting my credit score this time around - $7.95 for a number? No thanks. I have more important things to spend that money on, like fudge ingredients. Wink

I've got three weekends left to finish the fudge, bread, biscotti, truffles, magnets, scarves, jewelry, and gift wrapping. Eep!

I like the idea of the garden to relax in...perhaps a lovely one like Fern's? Smile In a more temperate climate? Something to dream about...

Isabel Allende

November 18th, 2006 at 09:38 am

Last night SO and I attended a MPR Talking Volumes segment to see Isabel Allende. I've read most of her books and have long adored her writing style. The show was incredible! She is absolutely hilarious! The show was sold out, and seating was general admission, but SO and I were taken right to the front row for some reason. We had wonderful seats, and afterwards got three books signed by Allende. I can't wait to get the podcast of the show. She was so entertaining, and the host really didn't have to prompt her much at all. It was the best $10 I've spent in a long time - far better than any $50 concert ticket. If you have the chance to see her, I encourage you to go, even if you haven't read any of her novels. Some may not agree with her politics, but I thought she was spot-on, and so funny. It was delightful to hear her read excerpts from her new book in Spanish...she's still got a bit of the Chilean accent, and it brought back memories. I dreamt in Spanish last night.

This morning I'm making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and might step out to pick up a couple of holiday gifts. I took one cat to the vet earlier today and she is healthy as can be. Now both of my furry babies have microchips - what a relief, if they ever escaped.

I've got to start crocheting and beading if I'm going to get gifts made in time!

working on 2005 vs 2006 $$ chart

November 15th, 2006 at 01:59 pm

My car is back from the shop, after forking over $470. That's a little over half what I paid to fix it in March. It's been a pricey repair year for a car that doesn't get driven too often, particularly when compared to 2005's numbers: a mere $190 spent on car maintenance.

2006 has also been an expensive year for medical needs. I finally decided to do something about my headaches, had to visit the chiropractor for a few months, and experienced some other medical issues. My latest daily headache medication is really not cutting it, and the only option I have left is anti-seizure meds. I have decided to try a healthier diet and more exercise to treat my heachaches before moving on to any other meds. As part of that effort, I took a brisk 25 minute walk during lunch today. It had to be brisk, walking in 35 degree weather. Wink

I'm looking forward to seeing the results of my 2005 vs 2006 chart after the end of this year. So far, I'm managing my money better in most of the budget categories. I'm really glad I keep track - not only does it give me something to ponder on slow days, but it really keeps me honest about exactly what I'm spending my money on.

The coupon train is apparently suspended in space somewhere. I hope it's not lost. I have so many coupons to put on it, it's ridiculous! My coupon pouch is bulging at the seams, and I have 5 more newspaper inserts to clip. Yowza.

Two quick food reviews:
- Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat beer: My new favorite beer - light and crisp, with a hint of blueberry aftertaste. Really one of the best beers I have had in a long time. I hope I can still get Leine's after I move out of Minnesota.
- Tofu Shirataki Noodles: Supposedly a decent substitute for pasta, with a fraction of the calories. I'm hoping the reason the "noodles" turned out like chewy rubberbands (or bad calamari, if you've had it) is due to user error, and not how they are supposed to be. Last night I placed a forkful in my mouth and could not stop laughing long enough to swallow it. Rubber bands! Covered in cheese! Mmmm Mmmm Good!

the Ford...again.

November 11th, 2006 at 04:20 pm

I dropped my car off at the shop last night. The rear passenger wheel feels like it's going to pop right off every time I hit a pothole or go around a corner. It needs new struts, apparently, and they aren't sure if they'll be able to replace it cleanly since the car is 12 years old. They couldn't get to fixing it today, so I'll get it back on Monday. The damage will be at least $430, if it goes well. If it doesn't..*sigh* I'm really hoping it goes well.

This news made me realize that I need several savings funds:

1. Emergency Fund ($1000 minimum)
2. Car Repair Fund ($2000 minimum)
3. Vacation Fund ($1500 minimum)
4. Family Fund ($500 minimum)
5. Holiday Fund ($500 minimum)
6. Pet Emergency Fund ($500 minimum)

Plus my Roth IRA, 401K, New Car Fund, House Downpayment Fund, Stuff I Want Fund...etc etc. I've been working on 1, 4, and 5 for a while, but I know I need the others as well.

Time to crack down on excess spending!

net worth

November 7th, 2006 at 11:51 am

Thanks to Tina's motivational post, I figured out my net worth today.


It's not as bad as I expected, but not good. Maybe sometime in 2007 my debt to asset ratio will even out.

I had an unprecendented experience over the weekend. I tried on a pair of jeans - and they fit on the first try. I tried on another pair - and they fit, too. I didn't have to grab a bazillion other sizes or styles like I normally do. Amazing! Even more surprising to me was that they were Target jeans! $20 each, I can handle that.

I did my part this morning and voted. I went with my gut and voted for governor accordingly. It will be interesting to see how a couple of Minnesota races turn out. You never know with this state!

Good news! I just received a cash award for all my hard work at the office this year. This place never ceases to surprise me!

Anyone in the vicinity - visit Como Zoo when you have a chance. They had a baby giraffe and a baby zebra born last month! So absolutely adorable!

light box

October 31st, 2006 at 10:36 am

I ordered a light box online today - a Litebook Elite. It's something I've been thinking about buying for three winters. I love Minnesota and the Twin Cities in the spring, summer, and fall...but the winter is really hard for me. I'm hoping this little light box will help perk me up, since it simulates sunlight. We'll see. If it works, it will be worth it. I'm dipping into savings to pay for it.

Happy Halloween!! This has traditionally been my favorite holiday. This year, I didn't dress in costume, didn't go out with friends, nothing. SO and I are going to carve pumpkins tonight and that will probably be the extent of it. I have the sense that my new apathy toward holidays in general is somewhat derived from rampant commercialism. We are expected to think about the next holiday months in advance. I have no interest in picking out Christmas stockings in July, thank you. Things move entirely too quickly these days. Can't we enjoy the current holiday for a moment, as it is occurring?

TWO meals out today

October 26th, 2006 at 01:26 pm

I haven't eaten out in quite a while, and today, I'm having two meals out. I hadn't planned on meeting up with a friend for lunch, but when she suggested it, I jumped on the opportunity. I hadn't seen her in almost two months. Far too long, and definitely worth $6. Lately I've had weird nightmares about having no friends, so it's a good time to get in touch with people.

Tonight SO and I are having a date night - dinner and a movie. Dinner should be...interesting. I'll fill you in tomorrow after the experience. The movie should be good too!

I've been trying to keep my feelings about one particular thread in the forum out of my blog, but I just can't. It's like a thorn in my side.

I have never wanted to get married, and I have never wanted kids - I know, I'm in the minority of all women. That does not mean I am incapable of having a meaningful, loving, long-term, committed realtionship. That does not mean that, should I chose to change my mind about kids, I would be a horrible parent just because I haven't signed a marriage contract with SO. It just doesn't. Being a parent is about so much more than whether or not I have that piece of paper. It's about wanting kids, and loving kids, and being a responsible, mature adult. For some people that means you HAVE to be married. For me, it does not.

It strikes me that so many people think there is only one right way of doing things. I've always been the one saying, "Hey! Hello! I'm not doing it your way, and I'm not dead yet!" Being pushed to do things the way other people want me to do them, because that's the way it's always been done - well, that just makes me stick harder to the what I want to do. Blame it on the Aquarius in me. Oh, and the Irish.

I've had this conversation with endless numbers of people (including in real life), and I don't know why I even bring it up anymore. It seems so few people are even willing to consider how I feel about this - everyone feels the need to talk me out of it and into tradition. No, must get married. Must change last name. Must have children. *sigh* Gotta step back, or I'll drive myself crazy.

In other news, I miss Flash. A lot. Her blog was always fun and interesting to read. I hope she is feeling better.

another reason to look smokin'

October 16th, 2006 at 07:44 am

I've peeked at my high school reunion website off and on, and today's visit brought quite the surprise. My high school sweetheart is married to a classmate of mine and they have a child. Wow! Pretty surprising. Just another reason to look smokin' hot by next summer, if I choose to go to the reunion.

SO and I have been dieting for about a week now. We've fallen off the wagon a bit but are still doing really, really well. I am eating better now than I ever have in my life. Brown rice - yum! I had no idea it was so delicious. I prefer it instead of white rice now.

My primary reason to lose some weight, though, is not the potential ex-boyfriend encounter next summer. I have this vision of myself, lying on a warm Mexican beach, in a bikini - and my body looks significantly thinner than it does right now. I just have to keep that picture in mind. Baselle is a big motivator! Smile

I've managed to spend $200 worth of our grocery gift cards already - yikes!! Need to slow it down. Eating better is so much more expensive, but worth it. I've not had a bite of chocolate in 6 days (I feel like an addict, confessing!).

just fine

September 27th, 2006 at 07:05 am

The procedure was thankfully less painful than I had anticipated. Not fun, but it's over with and I hope that was the first and last episode of that melodrama. Boss seems to be ignoring my time off request now. I'm just not up for caring anymore.

I was naughty last night and bought my MP3 player/radio. It was on sale (of course), and so far I'm liking it! I had radio reception the entire bus trip this morning, which is unheard of. The reception is not as great at my desk, but I think I can figure out a way to improve it. I bought a cheap plastic lidded soap dish to store it in so it doesn't flop around unprotected in my bag. Perfect!

Yes - I should have waited for Christmas - but I felt like I "deserved" it after all the trauma lately (silly, I know!). Now I just have to remind myself that I don't "deserve" anything more! Back on track!

About the grocery store gift certificates - I have a credit card that currently gives 5% cash back on grocery store purchases. They are changing it to only 2% back next month. I want to get the best bang for my buck, so I'm buying gift certificates now. I'll have to buy groceries, right? So I might as well get some extra cash back for it while I still can.

Stopped by Walgreens last night and stocked up on a few things they've got on the rebate list. I still need to organize my stash and write down everything I have. No more buying for a while; I need to use up what we've got. Nice deal at Target, though - Pepsi 12-packs were 4/$9, plus we got a $5 gift card for buying. That amounts to $1 per 12-pack. Awesome!

Pottery class tonight! Big Grin

good, bad, ugly

September 20th, 2006 at 08:09 am

~ Received full refund for bad half.com transaction
~ Received full refund for damaged overstock.com product
~ Reserved a campsite in October up north at a park that's said to be just gorgeous - can't wait!
~ Received a card in the mail yesterday from a good friend saying she's there for me!
~ Saved $5 at Petsmart and $18 at Target last night with coupons
~ Free work lunch today
~ SO got up and made me breakfast this morning!
~ My back feels monumentally better after Monday's massage

~ Spent $163 at Target last night
~ Submitted Priceline offer was denied for cheap hotel room - will have to try again later (coincides with camping trip)
~ Have spent $50 in gifts this month
~ Prescriptions and doctors visits are adding up - $110 so far
~ Went shopping last night instead of job hunting
~ Have spent $160 on groceries already this month

~ Still no word from my doctor about the biopsy results
~ Have not made it to the swimming pool yet
~ Have spent over $400 on things for ME alone - community ed classes, books, fall candles, wine, eating out, massage
~ Won't make most of my goals this month

At least the good outweighs the bad (we won't even talk about the ugly), but sheesh! Obviously I self-medicate with stuff when I'm stressed.

downfall of the month

September 13th, 2006 at 10:56 am


I've done it again - spent too much on books. It's an interesting pattern I have going here (Clothes, Books, Personal Care, Hobbies). I've spent $140 on books this month, and only a small fraction of that was a gift. Yikes. Good deals, yes. Necessary? No. I get a little overzealous with book shopping sometimes. Yes, I visit the library, but when the library says it won't order a book for me and it will take a month to get it from another library, and I can't renew it....that places me square in Half Price Books. Oh well. I need to clean out my bookshelves and pass on those books that have already been read.

Last night I cleaned up my coupon mess and organized it all. My coupon train packet is bulging and will hardly close! Can't wait for the train to come so I can pass on some good deals.

Anyone need Silk soy milk coupons? I have about a billion, and can't possibly use them all.

Also picked up a new CD - Be a Bright Blue by Saxon Shore. Really mellow. Good for listening to while you do something else (clipping coupons, for example).

Doctor's appt this afternoon...not looking forward to it. Hoping the results come out ok. Also have to deal with the fact that they billed the wrong insurance company last time and now I have a big bill sitting in my purse - not cool, and they haven't returned my phone calls. It's been a month of struggling with people to get things right!

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