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Playdate for the kids!!

March 5th, 2006 at 06:46 pm

My neighbor's grandkids are visiting for spring break, so my kids had a playdate over there this evening. She fed them popsicles and those kool-aid jammer thingies. So much sugar.

So, then they wanted to go to the park. It's only about 4 blocks away, so we walked with the boys and one of her grandkids. Let them run off the sugar.

I played some with the kids, swinging and helping them with the monkey bars. So, I got a little more exercise.

Plus, when we go to the park, I do some "volunteer work" and pull the bermudagrass out of the wood chips. I figure they'll come along and spray it, rather than pull it, so I'm saving them money and helping to save the environment.

I'm exhausted

March 5th, 2006 at 02:31 pm

It's a beautiful day today - high 80s - so we decided to do some gardening work.

I started with pulling out the mother in law's tongue which fills the front beds. A little would be fine, but this just looks ugly and tacky. I didn't get it all out, I filled the huge barrel and then dh wanted to move on.

Next, we planted one of my valentine's roses. I pushed some sprouting garlic around the edges (companion planting) and it was time to move on.

We brought cannas with us from Oklahoma. They've been in buckets of soil for a year now. So, we dumped them out, dug for tubers with eyes and planted them. We managed to plant 3 buckets (3 more to go).

Then, dh decided to tackle the palm screen we have on one side of our carport. It interferes with our ability to enjoy our pretty backyard and it's sooo overgrown that there is a ton of trash caught in it.

At that point, we realized our garden waste pile was about as big as the garbage men would be willing to pick up, so we stopped.

We didn't complete a single project (there are still 3 roses to plant), but we did enough to make a noticeable difference for each project. Some of the projects will need to wait until we get some more garden space (the rest of the cannas and the roses) and the other 2 will need to wait until they pick up the garden waste.

BUT - we didn't drive anywhere!

Fun sighting today

March 3rd, 2006 at 09:40 pm

(not my picture, I got it from http://songstar.org/birds001.html

This is a red-crowned parrot. I saw 4-5 today. They are so fun. REALLY loud. They attract your attention with their noise and then it's fun to watch their antics.

Yesterday, I was sitting in the conference room facing the glass block window (they're slightly mirrored on the outside) and saw one of these make its way up the window:

(pic from http://myfwc.com/recreation/lake_wales_ridge/wildlife_viewing.asp)

Remember I said the blocks are slightly mirrored? Yeah, he thought his reflection was another anole, so he kept puffing out his neck membrane. They bob their head while they do that. Distracting to say the least.

Pretty good day

March 3rd, 2006 at 08:45 pm

I wrapped up 2 major projects and a minor project today and yesterday. I have 2 more coming for hearing on Thursday. I think we're mostly ready, they aren't really big hearings, mostly just a status type thing.

Then I came home, took out the composting and grabbed the reel mower and mowed the lawn. I feel so virtuous.

Unfortunately, I found 3 fire ant hills. Loverly. The only good thing about fire ants is that they don't tend to crawl up your pants, they sit and bite and bite and bite. The bites then sting and sting and sting, long after you've gotten rid of the ant.

Last time I got bit, I found that the liquid bandage stuff helps stop the stinging. I didn't get bit this time.


February 27th, 2006 at 09:49 pm

It looks like I'm starting a sinus infection. This is the first one since 2004, but that one was major, it took 6 months and 3 rounds of antibiotics to go away.

I'm rinsing my sinuses with a homemade saline solution (recommended by an allergy doctor) and (this is gross, so skip if you want) I'm getting lots of gunk to wash out, but the pressure is still there. Especially if I bend over.

I'm so far behind at work. DH agreed to be responsible for picking up the kids today so I could put in a fulltime day (I normally work 6 hours). I worked straight through lunch, but came home some early. I ended up working 8.5 hours today. And, I really didn't get that much more accomplished.

I told my bosses on Friday that I was drowning, so today they spoke to one of our other office workers and will have her help me with the easier stuff. I think that I should be able to funnel a lot of just paper pushing tasks to her (like making copies, sending invoices, cleaning up scanned documents).

I did finish the major project today. My boss wanted to only charge $1500 for our fees, but I reminded him that we rushed this through and I put a lot of work on hold for it (pissing off some of our current clients) so we decided to charge $2100 - which I still think is a little on the low side. We set up 2 new corporations and a new limited partnership for him - doing all the paperwork and filing with the secretary of state.

I have one more business project to do. This one has required 3 hours of conferences with the client. One thing I like about him, though, is that we gave him example documents and he put them together to fit what he wanted so all the attorney has to do is make sure he didn't contradict himself anywhere.

I'm so ready to get these done and get back to my regular tasks. Of course, Tuesday is foreclosure sale day and I have 15 foreclosures set, so I'll have to do bids, deeds, affidavits and bills for all of those. That will easily take all day. I'll see if the helper can help with those, I've got the bids mostly done and the documents are set up as mail merge documents (if I use a form, I set it up as a merge to make sure I get all the fields filled in and to save time).

Please God, let this sinus thing be a virus and resolve itself without needing a sick day (or at least wait until next week).

In other news - I bought a soda today - 65 cents frivolous spending.

New Computer for the kids

February 21st, 2006 at 09:08 pm

DH remembered his wallet today and went to buy the computer. I came with speakers, a new keyboard and an optical mouse.

DS1 is sooo excited. He continued his research for his report tonight. He said "one page isn't enough, I want to write more. Maybe I'll get a 150!". I had to tell him it didn't normally work that way and that he should check with his teacher before writing a report longer than she asked (he didn't get the idea that sometimes teachers don't want to wade through a tone of words and that sometimes it's harder to write a short report than a long report).

DS2 doesn't care at all. We'll probably put the old 'puter in their playroom until it dies completely. It's got some learning to read software on it, so it should help DS2 with his reading.

Paying extra on mortgage

February 19th, 2006 at 09:16 pm

Okay, I just set up my amortization schedule for my house. I am currently paying about $15 extra. Paying $15 extra pays my house off 18 months early.

Doing the chart really shows me how much difference the extra really makes. It motivates me to send extra whenever I get the chance (after I pay off the other debt, right now anything extra we get is going to cc debt).

Productive Day

February 19th, 2006 at 06:38 pm

We didn't go anywhere today (although I need butter and don't know what I'll do for b'fast tomorrow without it).

Instead, we stayed home and cleaned some. MIL is coming to town on Saturday, so we want to have the house looking as settled as possible.

While I was cleaning, I decided to set up amortization schedules for the ccs, the car and the house. I got the ccs done. If we continue paying the little bit we are now, it will take 2 years to pay off the balance. If we step it up a notch, we can pay it off in 1 year. If we work at it and put all that we can scrape, it will be paid off in October. I showed DH the spreadsheet and he's agreed to work with me to get it done.

I started the car's schedule, but the statements we get don't give the interest rate. I tried to figure it using their figures, and ended up with 2 different rates (I had 2 different statements). So that's frustrating.

Then I went through the cc statements and updated our expenses this month (dh doesn't always give me his receipts). We are $5 over the grocery budget already and milk is low and butter is gone. Part of the reason we are over is that dh did a stock-up when he was travelling, so we have stuff that will last us a couple of months. I suspect part of it is higher prices, but I'm not sure where all my receipts are to check.

Looking at the current expenses, we are on track to have enough money left in the bank to send a good sized payment to the cc this month.

Next month will be a little harder, we'll need to be sure to set aside the money for taxes. But, I think dh is finished buying for a little while. I think. I could be wrong. I know he wants one more chair before his mom gets here, but we may just pull the futon out of the front room and move it into the family room for now.

I'm soooo cold

February 18th, 2006 at 09:53 pm

It's only 40s, which I know for many people sounds really warm for february, but for here, that's cold. Most of us don't even own heaters.

DS1 and I went to a bday party today. They had a bouncy tent set up and it was too cold for the kids to stay long. I felt so bad for the bday kid, only 2 kids from school were there. They invited the whole class (18 kids). Yes it was cold and it was at home rather than someplace "fun" but geez.

We took a stockpiled gift. DH loves to shop and that's one thing he's been stockpiling. So, when the party was at 3 and I realized it was 2:30, we were still good to go.

I feel somewhat bad for DS1 though, he put his pinata candy in his goody bag and I set it down and when it went back, someone else had picked it up. The parents were cool and gave him another goody bag and pulled out the bag of candy and gave him some more pieces (and then sent 2 extra goody bags with us for DS2 and just because).

Night out

February 17th, 2006 at 07:29 pm

We decided to have our valentine's day dinner tonight. I used my chili's card (a gift from a client) and we had a great time. I had a soda ( Smile ) and dh and I shared an awesome blossom. We got the kids their own kids' meal (often we have them share). I still have $28 on the card, next time we might splurge a little more (I'm thinking of waiting until spring break when it would just be DH and I eating).

I feel a little bad about the dinner out, I could have given up the soda and had the kids share and we'd have enough room for 2 more meals, but it was a holiday dinner, so ...

I took my moving boxes to a coworker today. She was very happy and bought me a soda. This gave us a chance to gossip about work. I think a good vent session is important to maintaining morale.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

February 14th, 2006 at 09:48 pm

I feel bad, I didn't even think about this being a "big" holiday. I sent valentines with the kids and that was it. I got to the school and all the kids were bringing goody bags for each child (we're talking toys, flashlights, candy, etc). Then I got to work and I had 4 things of candy on my desk, plus one of the women had brought a homemade breakfast.

I so did not stick to my diet today. I was doing really well. I had some pants that were fitting so well and I was really seeing progress so it was easier to resist the goodies that are always at work. But today I wore an old skirt, etc so I ate *2* pieces of cake, a muffin and some candy. Then I got home and ate more candy. I so suck.

I gave DH one of the things of candy. It looked like something he would really like and this way we didn't spend extra money. The stinker bought me candy, a hook for my robe (which unfortunately doesn't fit) and a puzzle.

He also ordered bookshelves for our front room which were delivered today. We have 2 of them up and they look pretty good. It's amazing how little space they take up - or more how large the room really is. The scale almost overwhelms me, it doesn't look that big, it looks long and skinny, but it isn't.

Wonderful day

February 12th, 2006 at 07:09 pm

DH finally got motivated and got sooo much accomplished.

We got all the boxes moved out of the family room (well, there are 3-4 boxes left, but it's sooo much better). Then he set up the kids computer.

One really cool thing he did - our kitchen had these accent tiles which we didn't like at all (I'm sure they're fine, they just aren't "us"). When he was at Dollar Tree the other day he found tile stick-ons and put them on the tiles. It's like a whole new kitchen. Of course, we chose the paint color to match the tiles and now we could have gone with the color I preferred, but ...

DH is getting in on the act

February 10th, 2006 at 08:09 pm

I've already posted about this elsewhere, but ...

Today, dh IM'ed me and asked me questions about my cellphone. Turns out, we are eligible for a discount from his work. It should work out to $5/month.

Then we discussed minutes, etc and he's just about decided to join my plan and just have a 2nd line and drop his phone. We've kept 2 different services for various reasons - because one will have service when the other doesn't, because he wants more bells and whistles than I do, etc. But he's finally deciding that saving $10/month is probably worth it.

I won't give up my cellphone. It's the only phone I have (I think he could give up his, but he's not so convinced) and it gives me so much freedom to come and go instead of waiting around for people to show or call. Another benefit is the free long distance (yes, I know landlines have competitive long distance plans).

Early Valentine's Gift

February 8th, 2006 at 09:01 pm

DH bought me roses for valentine's day.

2 Bengal Tiger roses, a Belinda's Dream and a Cherokee Rose.

Plants obviously.

I am so shocked. I had a bengal tiger, but we didn't get it planted (we did, but we potted it to move with us) and it dried out in the container. This is a beautiful rose. We had a belinda's dream in OKC, this is a great rose, pink and fragrant and resistant to black spot, etc. I don't know much about the Cherokee rose, but being from Oklahoma, we naturally have a soft spot for anything "cherokee".

We're now planning where we will plant these new roses. I can't wait. The Cherokee is a climber/rambler, so it needs a trellis or fence, but I don't trust the neighbors on one side not to spray and we don't have a fence line on the other side (our carport takes up the lot from the house to the alley).

This is the first time DH has ever bought me roses for valentine's day. So this is a major milestone.

Good Day at work

February 8th, 2006 at 08:32 pm

My main boss is on vacation this week and the other boss was in court. I keep a running spreadsheet showing what I've done and what needs to be done, with dates (most are arbitrary) to be done by. I completed all my tasks through today and made it most of the way through my in box. It felt so good to be able to tell the attorney "yes, I've taken care of that" for once.

Tonight was family fun night. We learned dominoes (yes, I know, funny that I didn't know how to play, but I'm the baby of the family so when everyone played no one wanted to take the time to go over the rules with me). My 5yo is still a little young for the points idea, but the 7yo is catching on fast. We partnered, me and 5yo against dh and 7yo. We lost. Considering dh has been playing for years and had 2 sets of eyes to search for point opportunities, it's not a major surprise.

Tomorrow is the lunch meeting at work. I still don't know exactly what we're having for lunch, but it's free and I'm not used to eating lunch at work anyway. I'll be fine. If nothing else, I'll love the salad and breadsticks (I hate Olive Garden spaghetti, it's soooo overcooked and mushy). I'm sure none of it will be truly South beach friendly, but my pants were loose today! And I plan to cheat with a soda anyway.

I've almost got the taxes done. I'm still waiting on 1099INTs from several credit unions. So far we have to pay around $400 (we were expecting $1000, so that's not too bad).

Yay will-power!

February 7th, 2006 at 09:53 pm

I almost bought a soda today. I even went to the car for change and brought it in. I was saved from myself by a long call with a client.

Then I thought how stupid it was - my boss will buy us all lunch on thursday, so I'll probably want a soda then. I really want to limit my soda consumption to one/week (or less), so I'd rather have the soda with lunch.

I've been using fitday.com to track my eating. It has a feature to check your vitamin and mineral intake. I looked over it and realized that my iron intake has been very low. Which could explain my tiredness. So, I had dh buy me some iron supplements and we'll see if that helps. Maybe it will help with the headache too?

Getting back in the Swing

February 1st, 2006 at 07:51 pm

Between moving and the holidays, I lost track of our spending, etc.

This could be disastrous, but for once we've been doing pretty well. Our spending was actually under control last month (even with purchasing plane tickets and new blinds for the new house).

So, I deposited checks today and realized that we are holding way too much in checking (no interest) and not enough in savings (low interest). So I just remedied that.

I got notice that there will be an estate auction this month, so I'm going to hold off sending extra money to debt until I see what they are selling. We need some chairs - we have a futon and an office chair and that's it. So, we'll see if there is anything suitable that doesn't get out of hand. The best part, if the auction is at the home of the estate, it is within walking distance.

Home Spa Day

January 31st, 2006 at 08:05 pm

I'm home alone and feeling guilty for my eating and spending today. I decided it was time to stop and move to something useful, frugal and "feel good-y".

So, I got out the hair cutting scissors and followed a tip I got here - I pulled my hair into a pony tail and cut it straight across, this gives a layered look. Last time I did it, I pulled the hair to the top and that gave dramatic layers. This time I pulled it to just below the crown and the layers are much more subtle.

I think I cut about 2.5 inches off the longest section and one section didn't get cut at all. That was fine, that section didn't have any split ends.

Then, into the kitchen to mix up some henna to color my gray roots and jazz up my color.

When I first thought about henna, I asked a few friends and they made it sound soooo difficult. So the first time I tried it, it was difficult. But, now I've figured it out.

First, the directions say not to use metal. Which means I can't heat the water on the stove (I don't have any corningware), so I heat the water in the microwave in a pyrex bowl (little bitty one). In a slightly larger pyrex bowl, I pour out about 1/4-1/3 cup of henna. I then mix the hot water into that very slowly. I pour and mix, pour and mix. This is the best way to keep from having clumps. I add enough water to get it the consistency of honey.

Then, into the bathroom to don latex gloves and start putting in my hair. This time I didn't really mix enough, so I mainly concentrated on my roots. If I think it needs more, I'll add it tomorrow. I use my hands (in gloves) and the plastic fork I used to mix the henna to apply it. I find the tines of the fork really help to comb it into my hair.

Finally, I covered it with a hair wrap that I got with another dye package and a plastic shower cap. I'm sitting here with it wrapped until I'm ready for bed. Then I'll shower and rinse it out.

I like henna because it's natural and it's good for your hair. It's a natural conditioner. In fact, many hair dressers recommend the no color version for people who have hair that needs some more conditioning. It's also good if your hair is thinning because it coats the hair shaft and makes each hair thicker. This isn't an issue for me, my hair is still pretty thick, but there is a noticeable difference - a lot more body and you can definitely look at a hair and tell where the henna stopped.

I can get about 3 applications of henna for $5. Not bad when you compare it to a dye job in the salon.

Relaxing day

January 28th, 2006 at 05:07 pm

Well, one kid well, now the other kid is sick. I'm not sure what it is, just a fever, no other symptoms. DS2 missed Thursday and Friday of school, now it looks like DS1 will miss Monday. DH can use his sick leave to take care of sick family members, but I'm not sure if he can handle 3 days off.

So, dh spent time hanging our new porch swing (one of those things where there was a very good deal and he just had to have it). I spent some time in it with him and then had to go tackle the grass that was crowding my pretty plants.

Then, we came inside and I opened my jasmine tea. This was a gift from one of my doula clients. Her mother brought it to me from China. It's much better than what I've gotten here. Very strong jasmine scent.

Now I'm sitting here enjoying a mug of tea waiting for dh to decide on something on tv. It seems like a good day, even if we do have a sick kid (and the well kid is starting to get cabin fever).

Gadgets that were a waste

January 27th, 2006 at 02:35 pm

I figured since I talked about gadgets which have made our life easier, I should talk about gadgets which were supposed to make life easier, but which are never used.

1) FoodSaver. DH insisted we get this. I knew it would be a wasted $150. We don't freeze that much that would go in those bags and who wants to drag the whole thing out for such a small amount?

2) Food Processor. This was an xmas gift. I did ask for it, though. I thought we'd use it to process veggies from the garden (grate zucchini for zucchini bread, etc), but it is rarely used. We do use it to make pesto, so it does at least get some use.

3) Dehydrator. DH insisted he would use this "lots". He brought home a big bag of jalapeno peppers and dried 2 batches and then let the rest of the peppers mold. He's never used it again.

4) Cuisanart Ice cream maker. We did make some ice cream with it early on, but found that it's actually kind of expensive to make good homemade icecream and is cheaper to buy the storebrand (which is really good).

5) Pampered chef ice shaver. Used only in product demonstrations. I'm holding onto it for now (we have the room) in hopes that my boys will get some use out of it as they get older (they're 5 & 7).

So, almost $300 spent (if not by me, by someone) on gadgets that aren't used and only take up space. Everyone of these gadgets was supposed to help save us money. And I'm sure that some people do save money using them, but so far it hasn't worked for us.

Better Living through Gadgets?

January 26th, 2006 at 06:45 pm

Since we've moved into our new house and have unpacked the kitchen, I've noticed several gadgets we own that have saved us money.

One is a thermos. This way I can heat the water for me tea, put it in there and then have hot water all day without having to keep running the stove. I don't know how much this saves because I don't know how much electricity the stove uses, but it is saving electricity.

Another one is the cheese grater we got from pampered chef. This is one of those "barrel graters" where you load the top with cheese, put the handle down over that and squeeze while turing the barrel. This way, we can buy the huge blocks of cheese instead of the bags of grated cheese (we tried grating the full blocks into a bag, but it didn't store well and when we tried to freeze it, it all stuck together). I have 2 graters, one I picked up at a thrift store for a dollar. It only came with the fine grater barrel, but that's great for dh's parmesan cheese. We put the graters preloaded with cheese into gallon size plastic bags and store in the fridge.

I'd love to hear about gadgets other people use to save money.

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