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Don't touch that dial!

January 15th, 2008 at 12:20 pm

The temperature is dropping fast here, which reminds me that the only other person in this house tall enough to reach the thermostat admits that he has cranked the heat up when I've been gone. (Actually he only admitted to doing this once, but I get the feeling it's been done other times as well.)

I did point out to the person in question that he could take the space heater out of my office and use it when I wasn't working at home, but he hasn't taken me up on my offer.

Maybe I should get one of those lock boxes to put over the thermostat and keep the key hidden. Ummmm.... now there's an idea....

A few of my favorite things

January 11th, 2008 at 05:09 pm

Because I'm trying to avoid a.) working, b.) doing laundry, c.) cooking dinner, or d.) all of the above, I decided to do some housecleaning on my blog, so I added a few of my favorite websites over there on the left (your other left if you happen to be Mini Me....)

Most of the sites are finance-related and I do try to check them daily just to keep me focused on my goal of paying off my debt.

My four favorites are Daily Walks, which is just nice to look at; Debt Kid, created by a nice hard-working kid who is trying to right his wrongs (just like me -- although I'm no longer a kid);
Debtors Anonymous, which keeps me on the straight and narrow; and Merle Sneed, whose sense of humor I can relate to (humor is all important when you have as much debt as I do).

I hope to get around to updating the savings and debt numbers over there next.

Me and my big mouth

January 10th, 2008 at 10:36 am

Just back from the dentist where I was pleasantly surprised to find a nice, laid-back dentist and a compentent staff.

As I mentioned while whining yesterday, I had to switch dentists when my husband switched jobs. My old dentist was great, so it was hard to leave him.

Four months ago, I picked a new dentist from the provider list. He was within walking distance of my house. His office was high tech. And his staff seemed competent. Then, HE WALKED INTO THE EXAM ROOM!!!!

He looked like a poster boy for cosmetic dentistry. I had to keep my sunglasses on because his teeth were so huge, white and shiny.

Looks aside, he seemed OK until he started examining my teeth, and wanted to overhaul each and every one. As a devout flosser, brusher and dentistgoer for my entire life, I knew my teeth did not need anything more than polishing. There was one tooth my old dentist always kept an eye on since I've had some work done on it, but overall my mouth was and is in good shape.

Dr. Cosmetic Dentistry wanted me to spend about $10,000 out of pocket to fix things that didn't need fixing. The only thing good to come out of the visit was that I went home with a bunch of pens, notepads, golf tees (I don't even golf), magnets, etc., with his name plastered all over them. Of course, I ultimately would have paid for these "Welcome" gifts if I had gone back to him, but instead I ran the other way as fast as I could.

Now, four months later, I was due for another polishing (yes, I see the dentist every four months -- not six...). I picked another dentist in the same complex and was prepared to fend off more freebies and recommendations for unncessary dental treatments.

Instead, I found Mr. Rogers in a dental smock waiting for me. He said my teeth look great overall -- but wants to watch my one problem tooth. He didn't hoist any free junk on me and said he would keep my out-of-pocket expense down by documenting my previous perio visit (some fancy dental surgeon who worked on my problem tooth) in his records and on the insurance form each time he submitted a cleaning bill.

I thought this was very nice of him. Even nicer was that I didn't owe anything today.

$30 tape....

January 8th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Today I went to see a physical therapist about a little problem I've been having with my knee. The copay for the visit was $30. I left with two rolls of tape for my knee and instructions to call him if I have anymore problems.

Ummm...and we wonder what is wrong with healthcare in America...

(Note to self: next time skip the copay and use duct tape from my garage to fix the bum knee!)

Kids say the darndest things....

January 4th, 2008 at 08:21 am

Now that my 23-year-old adult stepson has returned to his sunny, warm state, I thought I'd share a few eye-opening moments that he experienced while visiting here at the North Pole over the holidays.

Despite having grown up here, he has never had to pay for his own skiing. Nor has he had to buy his own plane ticket to come back here from the tropical state that he chose to attend college in (at our expense).

However, because he is now a gainfully employed college graduate, he had to pay his own way this trip (well, up to a point....)

The first revelation that life was not cheap came when he went skiing and the lift ticket cost $86. He came home baffled by the expense, and wondering why people pay this much to be cold and wait in long lines.

My husband and I just smiled and said "Now you know why we don't ski anymore...."

Then there was the revelation over dinner the night before he left that his departing flight was leaving at midnight. I thought this was odd since I once was berated by his mother for making her poor then-20-year-old baby spend 2 hours in some strange city's airport during a stopover because I wanted to save some money instead of flying him back here on a direct flight.

But, apparently the thought of flying all night seemed appealing to said baby when it was his money and he could save a bundle on the red-eye flight.

I have to admit I'm enjoying watching my stepson deal with life's realities. ...

To sell or not to sell....

January 3rd, 2008 at 07:25 am

I have a whole room of supplies for making stained glass. However, I have not done anything with it in more than 8 years and do not anticipate getting back to it.

In the interest of de-cluttering and raising funds for the $20 challenge -- and thus paying off debt faster and/or saving for a new car faster -- I'm thinking of selling all my supplies.

I've never sold anything on ebay before, but I think I'm ready to give it a go since I've been reading up on it and feel inspired by DisneySteve.

My plan is to start small -- maybe sell some hand tools or something that is easy to ship. If all goes well, I hope to at least have my now-defunct hobby area cleaned out by summer.

What's cooking?

December 10th, 2007 at 10:12 am

I ordered half a honey-baked ham for Christmas and a turkey breast concoction for our Boxing Day party. It's the first time I've ordered a pre-cooked ham and/or turkey and I was a bit surprised by the hefty price tag. However, not having to stand over the stove Christmas Day is well worth it. (Fortunately, there was a $5 off coupon in yesterday's paper, so at least I'll get a little break.)

I still need to make the side dishes, appetizers and dessert, but I've got those recipes down to a fine art so no one should go home with botulism Christmas Day. (Boxing Day is another story...)

I have also come up with a detailed cookie baking list and am taking three days off to see how many of those little babies I can burn this year. Baking is not my strongest culinary area, but every year I try my best to make something resembling a Christmas cookie so Mini Me can have the illusion that her mommy is Martha Stewart, Oprah and the Queen Mother all rolled into one. So far I think I have her fooled.

All but one gift has been bought and I have my sister working on that one so I don't have to venture into anymore stores. (Praise Allah, the Lord and the FED EX guy!!!!) I do have a few gifts left to wrap, but for the most part I'm ready for the big guy in the beard and red suit. (And I'm not talking about my husband.....)

I wasn't meant to be an Eskimo

November 21st, 2007 at 08:53 am

I woke up to winter this morning. Mind you, it was almost 80 degrees Monday. Today, we'll be lucky if it tops 20 degrees.

As I have aged (gracefully, mind you), I have grown to hate the cold. I don't particularly like wearing sweaters, boots, coats, mittens,and the such.

Yet, I try not to hike the thermostat above 65 degrees or so. So I'm always bundled up. Yet, it still seems that my feet and hands are always freezing.

It doesn't help that my office sits over a crawl space. I fully expect to walk in one day and find icicles hanging off the ceiling.

This year, I got wise and invested in a space heater. It appears to be warming things up a bit; or, at least, that's what everyone who walks in my office tells me. The only way I can tell the difference is to walk out of the office and into another part of the house. Then come back into the office. For a brief moment, I get that "Ahhhhh ...." feeling that one gets when they are all warm and toasty. Then I go back to being frickin' freezing.

Such is my life...

Down for the 'count' ... for now

November 20th, 2007 at 07:57 pm

After two days of keeping track of my calories consumed, I've decided to discontinue the counting until Monday since I'm going to start stuffing my face tomorrow for the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Two days of tracking my calories showed that I am indeed eating about 300 more calories than I should be. I may have to cut out the mid-morning snack and -- God forbid -- give up one of my Tazo teas!

Ummmm... maybe the saddle bags on my hips don't look so bad after all....

Easing into this week

November 19th, 2007 at 11:30 am

I have to go into my "office" job tonight for a few hours, so I decided to take advantage of the warm weather and went for a run this morning. Now I'm working on the booming side business and, well, wasting time by blogging. In an hour or so, I'm thinking a nap will be in order.

This is probably not a good week to commit to a weight-loss plan, but I'm trying to shed a few extra pounds that have attached themselves onto my hips so I've begun a food journal. My goal is to consume about 1,700 calories a day.

Lunch alone about wiped me out. I ate leftover Chinese food and by my calculations I'm at about 1,300 calories already. Dinner looks like it's going to consist of a few carrots and water if I'm lucky....

I'm fortunate in that I've never had to diet, so suddenly watching what I eat is very eye opening. I exercise so I can eat, so exercising and NOT eating is not much fun. Thus, I'm trying to tame the ever-expanding hips by eating anything I want in moderation. Yet, there are certain things I'm just not willing to budge on.

For instance, my daily shot of caffeine in the form of a Tazo lightly sweetened ice tea is 70 calories. It's that or a Pepsi at 100 calories, so I'm sticking with the ice tea once a day (twice if it's a particularly harrowing day that requires me to kick it up a few notches). And, on occasion, I'm still going to have a Pepsi. There are just certain days when the world is going to hell that I would kill for something strong and lethal, so Pepsi is the alternative.

Yes, I do have a slight problem with will power -- as witnessed by the loads of consumer debt I'm carrying.....

Double the fun

November 16th, 2007 at 05:14 pm

This month, I have managed to double my business income thanks to a huge project that I took on. This is a good thing since Christmas is coming. (It's also a good thing because I went a little wild last month and drained a savings account that I need to replenish.)

I also found out today that another huge project is coming my way in December, so it looks like the financial "fun" will continue.

I'm leaving next Wednesday for a chi-chi hotel with my husband and daughter. After a hellish Thanksgiving last year, we decided to blow off both sides of the family and create a new tradition that is simply ours. It won't be a cheap Thanksgiving, but then I won't end up in the mental institution or in jail for tossing a turkey at a relative.

As long as I'm babbling on about things that are not even remotely related, I'll continue....

I've been enjoying Broken Arrow's slow-cooker chronicles. Personally, I rarely use the slow cooker because I found that after a while all the meals that came out of it started tasting the same.

Which reminds me that I'm still enjoying the Quick-Fix Meals cookbook that I checked out from the library. I did buy a copy for $5 on Amazon that was marked as "nearly new." It was pristine, so I decided to give it to my sister for Christmas. However, I'm still going to buy my own copy at a later date.

Last nights' meal out of the book was a chicken enchilada dish that was yummy.

Tonight I've been invited to play Bunko with some neighborhood moms. I've never played Bunko, but rumor has it money could exchange hands so I figured it was worth an evening out on the town.

If I should "strike it rich," I'll let you all know in the morning.

I can't believe my eyes....

November 3rd, 2007 at 07:11 pm

For those of you following the comedy known as my married life, I just want you to know that my husband was just spotted emptying the trash cans throughout the house -- for the first time in a good six months!

And, wait, I think I hear him opening the dishwasher and inserting dishes into it!!!!

Now if I can just get the dogs to stop pooping on the floor....

Mmm, mmm good!

October 31st, 2007 at 08:02 pm

I made the seafood pasta dish from the Quick Fix book tonight and it was YUMMY! It was the same dish as my favorite pasta from Buca Di Peppo -- and just as good. The whole family loved it, so I bought it used tonight online. Well worth the $8.84 (the book plus S&H).

On another note, I actually bought just the right amount of candy to give away for Halloween tonight, so no leftovers lingering around for the next year. However, my daughter brought home a full bag of treats after making her rounds with my husband, sister, mother and Elvis (YES! THE KING LIVES!!!)

I've been a bad, bad blogger....

October 24th, 2007 at 09:44 pm

In order for a blog to be successful, it helps if one actually posts on a regular basis. I, however, appear to be going for the title of "Worst Blogger" since it's been two months since my last post.

I will try to do better. Seriously....

I'm back and not feeling guilty this time....

August 11th, 2007 at 09:27 pm

After failing to post for more than a month, I have returned to the blogging world. Rather than offer up a bunch of lame excuses, I'll just say I've been busy and leave it at that.

My husband started his new job, but doesn't get paid until the end of the month so we are making due with his vacation pay from the old job for the next two weeks. Fortunately, it was the equivalent of a two-and-a-half week paycheck at the former place, so we're doing OK.

I've also got money flowing in from the crazy freelance empire I've somehow built up. Plus there's that office job I sometimes clock in for.

On that note, it's time for me to get back to work. Until next time...


June 24th, 2007 at 04:30 pm

My husband took a bad fall on his bike trip. He got back on, though, and made it all the way home. But when he got here last night I thought we were going to be spending some time in the doctor's office this week.

He's missing big chunks of flesh all over his body. The biggest missing part being the size of a platter on his hip and butt.

Now that his personal medical team has dispersed, I'm in charge of changing the surgical dressing each day until he leaves for his next trip (which will be tomorrow). We went to Walgreens to get bandages and antibacterial ointment; and left $37 poorer.

I did pick up an Easy Saver catalog while there and am thinking about taking advantage of some of their deals. I'd be interested to hear from others who shop there to see if it's worth it. Also, is it worth paying the extra money for the Grocery Game list of deals at Walgreens?


June 12th, 2007 at 04:39 pm

I went AWOL for a few weeks while I was busy with various projects, but I missed you all and just couldn't stay away any longer.

One of the projects was a garage sale. I only made $120 over the course of one day, but I was so grateful to get rid of two huge pieces of furniture that were stashed in my basement that I consider the sale a success.

I pawned one futon off on a college freshman, who paid all of $5 to haul it away. And, I sold the other for $30 to a 14-year-old kid who convinced his mother that they should stash it in their garage until he went off to college. (I did feel a little bit of guilt about junking up her garage, but better her garage than my basement....)

I also had a ton of freelance work the last few weeks, which is a good thing since I'm now on a three-week vacation and won't be making any money during that time. My vacation consists of sitting by the pool, dragging Mini Me to various appointments and social commitments (her's, not mine), and overall just being a full-time stay-at-home mom.

Done wallowing....

May 23rd, 2007 at 01:53 pm

Once I got over not going on a beach vacation, I got off my pity pot and put together a three-day trip to the mountains with my daughter while my husband is gone.

We are taking the train to a town with a huge hot springs pool. Normally, we could drive there in 5 or 6 hours, but I've always wanted to take the train and my daughter aspires to one day be a train conductor so she'll have fun. I was able to get the train tickets, a hotel, pool admission, and two breakfasts for $326, which includes transfers and taxes. I'll still need to bring spending money and pay for other meals, but we can eat cheap.

Me and my pricey garden

May 20th, 2007 at 04:09 pm

Some of you may recall that I recently invested in a composting bin. It's about a quarter full and is slowly producing compost.

In the meantime, I'm busy preparing the vegetable garden for planting. This means hauling bags of compost and peat moss from the garden store home since I don't have enough organic material on hand this year. Because I'm experimenting with lasagna gardening -- and because some wannabe greenthumb built five huge raised beds in my back yard years ago (I must have been optimistic when I did this...) -- this has been a costly endeavor.

So far, I've spent $200 on material for two of the three beds. I ran out of compost today, so I have decided to experiment with the other beds by throwing plain grass clippings in whenever the "recipe" calls for "compost."

I've already planted snap peas, lettuce and arugula in one bed; and they are coming up. I also stuck five tomato plants in the ground today. My plan is to continue working on the clean up of the other beds this week and get everything planted by Memorial Day.

Once there is no evidence of weeds, dog poop or muddy kids, I'll share pictures with all of you.

What makes me happy....

May 7th, 2007 at 04:21 pm

I try not to post more than once a day, but I just have to say that whenever I read blogs about saving money by anyone 25 and under, it brings a smile to my face -- especially when I see 17 and 18 year olds starting Roth IRAs and working so hard to reach their financial goals. These folks have it figured out. Too bad I didn't at that age....

Survey says....

May 7th, 2007 at 09:42 am

I'm still undecided about the value of doing online surveys that pay. I signed up on a number of different survey sites a while back after reading posts here about it being easy money.

For me, it has not been easy money for numerous reasons:

1. It seems like the surveys take too much time away from my business and my family.

2. I have yet to get one to pay off because I've either not made it all the way through a survey since I didn't fit certain specifications or the prize for the survey was something other than cash.

3. I saw a huge increase in junk email after signing up on three or four different survey sites.
I abhor junk email.

So for now I'm just trashing all the surveys, but I would be interested to hear what others think about surveys for pay.

How to make a man happy

April 23rd, 2007 at 09:15 am

Yeah, well, I know that would make him happy too, but we're talking about something else here....

We're talking CAFFEINE!!!

Yes, in addition to his little alcohol fetish, my husband has become a coffee freak of late. He says it's my fault because I "made" him go to Starbucks in Times Square last fall and I "made" him get a grande mocha -- even though I personally don't drink mocha or any type of coffee for that matter. Now he has to have a coffee or two every day.

As we all know, though, that can get expensive and we are trying to pay off the debt here so Starbucks twice a day is just not going to happen.

Instead, my husband has been scoring his caffeine from the free dispenser at work. (At least he says it's free. For all I know, he's been stealing it in a fit of caffeine-induced insanity.)

But what to do on the weekends? Ummmm.... Perhaps make coffee at home????

The problem is that we don't have a coffee maker -- at least my husband didn't think we did. So last night he asked me to find a used coffee maker when our neighborhood holds its community garage sale in June. (An annual rite of passage each summer in the suburbs, followed immediately thereafter by "Big Trash Pick-Up Day.")

I, however, did one better than that. I climbed up to the tallest shelf in the kitchen and dug way back behind all the unused kitchen gadgets. Lo and behold what did I find but a two-cup coffee maker that I have owned since my days as a single girl living large in the big city.

Oh, but wait, we have no coffee filters for the cute little coffee maker.... Once again, I did some digging around where no woman dared to tread in at least a decade or two and found the filters as well. (OK, actually, I made my husband dig those up, but I did tell him where to find them....)

So you think all this would have landed me a big kiss or at least a "Thank you, honey, you're GREAT!"

Not even!

Instead, the caffeine fiend ran out the door as fast as he could and sprinted to the nearest grocery store in search of coffee beans.

This morning I walked in the front door after my run and was greeted by the smell of freshly made coffee. And, oh yeah, a very happy husband. To think I didn't even have to put out.....


April 11th, 2007 at 08:31 am

Yeah, YOU! Look to your bottom left (at least it's on your bottom left today). I've posted some of my fav financial/debting links.

I'm too busy making money to post much today, but in the meantime check out some equally entertaining and enlightening sites.

Selling out to the Man????

April 9th, 2007 at 09:14 am

I'm relatively new to the blogging world -- just started goofing around with it a couple weeks ago to show my husband I could. Now I've discovered one can actually make money blogging.

I'm not sure what all this entails. Do I have to upload naked photos of myself (some of you might get a cheap thrill...) or just agree to have some big ol' ad for Viagra displayed across my blog's banner? Of course, I could just include a link to Paypal and have some dumb sucker send me money to pay off my debt "just because." However, this seems a bit too much like begging so I won't go there.

I have to admit, the idea of making money by blogging sort of intrigues me. Yet, at the same time, would I be selling out to the corporate jungle and consumerism?

Ummmm ... something to ponder....

Change, the Easter Bunny and Why are You Throwing that Away?

April 6th, 2007 at 09:36 am

The one bad thing about depositing all my change at the bank: NO pennies for poker tonight. Fortunately, though, between my husband, Mini Me and the coin cup in the car I've come up with $3 to join the ladies for poker tonight. All is not lost (although the $3 probably will be before the night is over...)

In the "sometimes I amaze myself" category: I was determined not to overindulge Mini Me for Easter this year. I budgeted $20 on the Easter basket (not including eggs and a bit of chocolate, which came out of the grocery fund). I managed to load up on a bunch of little do-dads for her (lip gloss, watercolor paint, a 99 cent kite, etc.) and MADE a beautiful Easter basket. Yes, MADE!!!

OK, maybe not "MADE" as in "weaved," but I took a white florist basket I was going to toss in the Goodwill bin, two ribbons salvaged from gifts that someone had given us and some glue that's been taking up shelf space in the garage; stuck them all together; and just like that have a beautiful Easter basket that didn't cost me a dime!

Speaking of tossing stuff, as I took Mini Me to school today (they don't let 6 year olds drive yet in my town), I noticed a number of everyday household items sitting out by the curb awaiting the trash man. On my street alone, I could have picked up:

1. A lawn chair
2. A patio table
3. A garden hose
4. A shovel
5. A barbecue grill

Basically the beginnings of a complete outdoor patio set and garden supplies.

Yes, as my husband will tell you, I'm guilty of throwing away my share of perfectly good stuff too (i.e.: his entire wardrobe from our pre-dating days). However, I'm beginning to see the light -- and the landfill issues.

Recycle this stuff, folks! Give it away, sell it, turn it into decorative lawn ornaments. Just don't toss it in the landfill to go to waste!

When bad design happens to good people....

April 1st, 2007 at 10:15 am

I have a passing fancy in information overload and design. I can honestly say that the new look is an information design disaster. Hopefully it is just a bad April Fool's Day joke.

Glad you could all be here tonight....

March 31st, 2007 at 06:02 pm

Between rolling loose change and taking various odd jobs to pay back the $177,031.94 in debt I've managed to amass over the first 41 years of my life, I've decided it's time to join the blogging craze -- and show my husband that blogging doesn't have to become a full-time job.

Hopefully along the way I'll learn something -- or perhaps someone might learn something from me.

Now, back to rolling quarters....

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