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interesting development

October 1st, 2007 at 10:34 am

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

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

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

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

My boss took a look at my

Text is photos and Link is http://flickr.com/photos/zeenes
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
Text is best brownies and Link is http://vivaciousvegan.blogspot.com/2007/08/best-vegan-brownies-ever.html
best brownies I've had in a long time, maybe ever.

Brownies

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

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

lurker

June 27th, 2007 at 10:15 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

I've been posting Project 365 photos to my

Text is flickr page and Link is http://www.flickr.com/photos/zeenes/sets/72157600108283009/
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:

triggers

March 16th, 2007 at 10:10 am

Last night's

Text is play performance and Link is http://www.guthrietheater.org/PLAYSTICKETS/20062007Season/TheMerchantofVenice/tabid/140/Default.aspx
play performance was amazing. I had never seen it before, and we hadn't been to the new theater yet. It was very sleek and contemporary, with amazing views of the city from the rooftop terrace. While we waited in the lobby, it started to snow over the Mississippi River. I've never seen anything like it - it came down with such force that we could not see neon signs across the river. Thankfully, it quit as abruptly as it began and the drive home was uneventful.

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

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

busy

March 13th, 2007 at 09:43 am

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

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

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

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

And, my latest obsession, food. Vegan food, to be exact. I cashed in some American Express points and bought

Text is Becoming Vegan and Link is http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Vegan-Complete-Adopting-Plant-Based/dp/1570671036/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-1874377-8672954?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1173803523&sr=8-1
Becoming Vegan. It's chock-full of great advice about nutrition and how to become vegan the right way. I have been moving away from dairy and eggs and feeling better overall. Whether or not I ever become fully vegan, I think eating less animal products and more fresh, whole foods is a good thing. My in-laws bought us a juicer for our birthdays, too, which is a great addition to our kitchen! I'd post photos of the great food we've been making, but again - this is a financial blog! I may have to create a food blog...

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

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

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

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

Text is writing computer program and Link is http://www.amazon.com/Writers-DreamKit-4-Win-Mac/dp/B000I8FADG/sr=8-1/qid=1170963083/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-8456391-9184651?ie=UTF8&s=software
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!

resisted takeout

January 31st, 2007 at 10:00 am

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

Last night we really wanted to pick up a pizza for dinner, but resisted. We were out looking for the

Text is Winter Carnival Medallion and Link is http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/special_packages/winter_carnival/treasure_hunt/
Winter Carnival Medallion, a treasure hunt put on by the local paper (cash prize if you find it). We walked around in sub-zero temps for a few minutes before realizing we could better strategize from the car. I am pretty sure I know where it is, but alas, I'm working today and cannot search for it. We had a mediocre frozen pizza at home instead of takeout.

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

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

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

positive thoughts

January 30th, 2007 at 08:48 am

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

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

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

My dad is creating gorgeous wood carvings these days (in addition to searching for a job). He has made some incredible Native American-style things and matted and framed them, and I really think they could sell. I created an

Text is etsy.com seller's page and Link is http://zeenes.etsy.com
etsy.com seller's page. I've considered eBay, but I'm a little burned out on that. I looked into local art galleries a bit yesterday. Any other ideas? He has taken photos, but their digital camera sucks. I've been researching Canon cameras and am contemplating buying one for them. The A540 has more power and zoom than my beloved Olympus, and is currently only $175. If they are serious about selling their handcrafted goods (my mother is a weaver as well), they need a good camera. I'm just still licking my wounds after getting the car fixed for the umpteenth time.

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

vegan?

January 18th, 2007 at 01:07 pm

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

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

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Text is Vegan Eats & Treats and Link is http://veganeatsandtreats.blogspot.com/
Vegan Eats & Treats
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Text is Fat Free Vegan Kitchen and Link is http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/
Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
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Text is Vegan Cookbook Tester and Link is http://vegancookbooks.blogspot.com/
Vegan Cookbook Tester
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Text is Vive le Vegan! and Link is http://vivelevegan.blogspot.com/
Vive le Vegan!

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

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

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

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

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

migraine rebound

January 12th, 2007 at 09:07 am

Wednesday migraine! Wha-bam!

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

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

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

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

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

a fat monkey

January 10th, 2007 at 12:18 pm

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

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

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

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

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