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Guess What I Ate..

March 2nd, 2007 at 08:00 pm

I caved. I saw a sign, and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

Krispy Kreme in my area is now offering whole wheat doughnuts. Yes, you heard me right. Whole. Wheat. Doughnuts.

Deep Fried Health Food!!!

We drove through Krispy Kreme intending to get a decaf and a free hot'n'now using our Valentine's Day Krispy Kreme card. We left with the coffee and a mixed dozen of regular and whole wheat doughnuts.

And you know what? They're GOOOOOOODDD!!! Have kind of a brown sugar flavor to them. Wonder if they're whole grain? Any idea of the fiber content of a whole wheat doughnut?

February Sales Book Review

February 28th, 2007 at 12:32 pm

So I've been keeping my sales 'book' for one fiscal month and found the results rather interesting, so thought I would share.

Bear in mind, this only accounts for 'things' the house buys like groceries, speakers for the computer, paper goods, toiletries, etc. It doesn't include either of our allowances, major planned or arranged purchases such as the TV, or money spent at restaurants (which I'm also keeping track of, and can I just say dang we gotta work on that!).

Here's the overview of the spending:

Food is the biggest expense category, which is expected. If all goes according to budget, food should account for 70% of the spending I track, but this month we were over in the household category and under in the food category. Medical was also below budget (even though I took advantage of a great Claritin sale).

Next is the breakdown of the type of spending. 'Regular' items that are bought on a fairly regular schedule regardless of price (milk, OJ, coffee, Claratin, etc.). 'Planned' items are those planned around current sales or events (i.e. Coke is on sale let's stock up, Mom asked me to bring a dessert for Valentine's day dinner, we want chili for Super Bowl Sunday, etc.). 'Impulse' items are the things bought on one whim or another. Tax should be fairly explanatory, although I must point out we have a different rate for food and non-food items.

Items of note

* this was a really good month for sales for me, over 70% of my regularly purchased items were on some sort of sale. Woohoo! With the way sales cycle, I should have another month like that in April or May.

* there's a LOT more impulse purchases there than I'd like. the main culprit is grocery shopping with DH. items he has weaseled into the cart this month include rice pudding, canned chicken and tuna, and hungry man dinners.

* not all the impulse purchases are a bad thing, believe it or not. it includes things like the reduced for quick sale chicken i found, not to mention unadvertised specials that i stumble upon in the store (like frangelico coffee, softsoap body wash, and my favorite chai tea all on special). even a lot of DH's 'impulse' buys were on sale

Looking over the items purchased, most of the household items are once in a blue moon kinda thing. If those weren't in the picture, 'household' would have been in budget. Medical was well within budget, and anything that is 'leftover' gets put into the little medical savings fund online (I figure that'll be where I go if I ever have to come up with a deductible).

Even though groceries are within budget, I'm interested to see how far I can take it. Especially when paired with the amount spent on eating out... BAH! That's OK, DH will get a financial statement tonight and I'll wait for him to freak out about the amount spent at restaurants. Sadly, he's more likely to do something about it if he's the one freaking out instead of me...

Bought My First TV

February 28th, 2007 at 07:30 am

Here I am, 29 years old (OK, 28 and 360 days, whatever), and I just paid for my first TV. Seriously, I've never once bought a TV in my life, not new, not used. Mind you, I've had TVs for the past 10 years, but each and every one of them was either given to me or brought in by a significant other. Not too shabby!

The most recent freebie, a 48" 10 year old Hitachi, was on it's last legs. The filter had gone bad and from what we could tell just the part would cost $300 if we could find it. The picture was pretty much unviewable: offset so the bottom was at the top and vice-versa, rolling all the time, etc. Sound was fine, but if all I wanted was to listen to TV I'd be using the radio, right?

Plus, with all the rumblings about the switchover to HD, I knew we were going to have to bite the bullet. And, you see, there was this sale... Drats...

So last Wednesday we walked into HH Gregg on the last day of the sale, found a salesman, and asked if they still had the 51" Hitachi. The man tried to shaft us on the price saying the sale had ended the day before. Tina doesn't play nice like that, so we got the price we intended to pay gave the man a check, and DH went the Thursday to pick it up.

All was well with the world, and if this one lasts 10 years like the freebie one did, I'll be perfectly content.

But hark, what light through yonder window breaks? It's money karma, and the canoe is the sun!!! That's right, the canoe was listed for less than a week and POOF it was gone! Not just the canoe, either: both paddles and my slightly too small life jacket too. DH and I each took $20 out of the cut, bought new RGB cables for the TV, and the rest pays the house back for most of the TV purchase.

And you want to hear something ironic? I mean REALLY ironic? The day after we bought the new Hitachi, my dad calls and says he's found someone with a part for the old TV. It's all OK, though, because this guy has someone who wants to buy it. He's willing to fix the TV, sell it for us, and split the profits after the cost of the part. SWEEEEEEET!

So, between selling the canoe, selling the old TV, and maybe taking a little from our vacation fund, we have a bright shiney new TV for basically nothing!

Jane of All Trades

February 27th, 2007 at 08:59 pm

Frequent readers have likely noted my admittedly short bio to the right stating I am a Jane of All Trades. I wish I could say this was an exaggeration, but truth be told I have been paid for a wider variety of job activities than almost anyone I know. My job duties over the past 10 years have included (but were not limited to):

* working with autistic children
* irradiating clear-nose skates
* dressing up in a bee costume
* talking to homicidal and suicidal people on the phone for a crisis line
* talking to the italian police about a russian mafia credit card scam

Good grief...

I bring this up not to ensure everyone thinks I'm one odd chica (which, honestly, I can understand if that's what you're thinking).

I bring it up to explain the point of this blog entry: I'm waiting for an order of incense oils.

All trades, remember?

It all started with the soap. Remember the blog post about the soapmaker's perspective on changing a drain pipe? If not, here's the moral of the story: I can and occasionally do make soap. And in case you're wondering, yes I have made money selling soap before. I got started into soap because I'm allergic to most popular sunscreens. Makes no sense, right? Well, in '99 I started researching how to make my own sunscreen, which led to homemade cosmetics, which led to homemade soap. This was a good thing, because I have really dry skin and I can make soap to exactly my personal specifications.

Buying soap ingredients online led to a sampling of fragrance oils and some smelly good soap. Smelly good soap led to a few folks asking to buy smelly good soap from me. This snowballed into body powder, linen spray, lotion, and (here's the connection) incense. Eventually I decided to can most of it. There were a lot of ingredients to keep on hand, contamination issues to consider, and the time involved made it hard to make it really worth my while. I kept dipping incense because it's pretty much a hands-off process. Plus, I had 40,000 blank sticks and about a thousand bags... It was either keep making incense or get into some really weird modern art.

All of this brings us to the present day. I really thought I was done with incense. I haven't made any in a while so supplies were starting to dwindle, and I was cool with that. The blanks can be used as firestarters, so it wasn't like they were going to waste.

But, it turns out I've got some customers I just can't shake! There's a lady who used to live in the area who is now in Costa Rica. Once every 3 months when she's in town, she heads to my dad's store to see if there's incense. She's offered to buy it in bulk and have a friend pick it up and ship it to her, so I don't even have to worry about am extra trip to the Post Office. How could I say no?

And thus, I had to go online and order the specific oil used for her incense. While I was there, well, I caved. I ordered a couple of sample sizes just for me. The good news? I can make DH some cologne now for $2, and perfume for me too...

So here I am: technical administrator by day, website designer by night, photographer by weekend, and incense dipper by... Well, I'm working on when that'll happen...

Nifty OT Blurbies

February 25th, 2007 at 03:00 pm

Website's almost there, I promise. I've started to realize that I'm pretty much never going to be fully satisfied with it. Not really a bad thing, just the realization that perfection isn't possible and my options are to take forever getting as close as possible or get it good enough for now and work on it as an ongoing project once it's up...

Anyways, back to the blurbies...

I got a surprise yesterday: $25 from my inlaws for my upcoming birthday. WOOHOO!!! BTW, the big day is March 5th, in case you have any spare chocolate or coffee you'd like to send my way Big Grin In all honesty, I didn't realize my birthday was right around the corner until Friday anyways... It's weird, 'cause to be so young I have ask "What year is it?" when someone asks how old I am. This year is 29, next year 30. I decided a while ago that on the 30th I was going to scrub my face good, braid my hair into pigtails, put on baggie overalls and a pair of cons, and go try to get carded.

Something else OT yet super cool (IMO). We all know my dad owns a cigar store, right? Well, he has a private label that is really exceptional, and I found out last night that one of those found its way to Michael Jordan and he loved it and might be try to come around for a box. TOO COOL!!!! The mental picture of my dad (5'6") standing next to Michael Jordan is just too funny for words, BTW...

Weather, Website, and Want Some Help!

February 22nd, 2007 at 01:05 pm

Yes, these are 'blurbies' (like my compromise between quickies and blurbs?)

OMG it's 74 right now and I'm going nuts!!!! Last place I want to be is at work. Interestingly, it's going to be in the low 30s/high 20s tonight. Nothing like a 40-50 degree temperature shift to get the blood going.

Bah!!! Here's my problem. OK, I'll be honest, I have multiple problems... I have a general idea for the site, but I can't decide if I want to go 'artsy' or 'businessy'. And I have a really nifty PHP driven Open Source image gallery that works on it's own perfectly, but isn't quite embedding into my pages the way I want. And finally, since this is something all my own and I can do it however I want, I'm creating text files that get marked up by PHP and then stich it all together with CSS for design and layout. This is cool because, when I want to change how everything looks, it'll take a few minutes tops. This is not cool, because right now I'm banging my head against a wall trying to make everything layout properly in both IE and Firefox. Forget the other browsers, I just want these two to work! I'm having to slide in some unfortunate hacks to get IE to cooperate...

And Finally: I Want Some Help!
I have been cordially invited to write some articles for SavingAdvice on computers, technology, and saving money. I'm flabbergasted, not to mention honored! Here's where I need help: what kind of articles would ya'll like to see? Are there any questions you'd like to see addressed, resources you've not been able to find, etc? I want to make sure these articles are worthwhile for Jeffrey, so any and all suggestions are more than welcome. Please, Help ME! Big Grin

Blurbs: I'm a Toasty Photo Handyman

February 15th, 2007 at 07:23 pm

Sorry, BA, but I just can't bring myself to call 'em quickies Big Grin

* We're in a cold spell right now. I'm holed up in the den with a hot fire and three kitties. Leftovers for dinner since DH is out at pool night. Thursday's are my leftover night, completely cook free. Unless I want to, of course.

* Along those lines, our January was unusually cold for this area. I've had both space heaters on more than expected. The electric bill was still only $100, so I'm feeling pretty comfortable with the current system.

* I got a weird offer in the mail today. I have been invited to join the "Handyman Club of America". A direct quote from the letter:

Why you?

Well, it's no secret among your friends and family that you are an outstanding handyman.

I'm pretty sure my friends and family would find it a HUGE secret if it turned out I were a handyman. HAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAaaahhaha! Reminds me of spam I used to for Viagra and home equity loans when I had neither a penis nor a house...

* I am taking the picture plunge. I found a great deal of a webhost (details later) and got an OK domain (not great, not crap). I'm working on getting a site thrown together as we speak. Well, obviously not this very instant, but you know what I mean. When I get it moderately presentable, I'll post a link here to get some feedback from everyone (if you don't mind!). This way, I'll have a place I can point prospects and realtors, not to mention a slightly more professional email address than tina.p.beana

OK, enough procrastination, back to the grindstone I go!

Boring Stuff

February 12th, 2007 at 05:12 am

As I have nothing much else to say, I will now begin wasting space and time by catching everyone up on yesterday's 'thrilling' adventures in food and married life. Are you excited yet Rolleyes

Let's see.... DH woke up ornery. His sciatic nerve was acting up (has already had one surgery for this), so he didn't sleep well and couldn't get very comfortable when awake. Around noon he started saying he was hungry.

>> ratle off list of breakfast food
>> begin

He said "But I was thinking more lunch, not breakfast". No problem.

>> rattle off lunch list
>> begin

"Want to go to Jack in the Box? Or Waffle House?" he asked.

"If given the option, no, I'd rather not go out. I've got stuff to do around here." was my reply.

DH relented and ate 2 pieces of left-over pizza for lunch. Don't know why he made a fuss, I know for a fact that he enjoys leftover pizza as much as I do.

About an hour later, he says he's bored and wants to go somewhere. I look at him and say "You're bored?". Yup.

>> rattle off list of household duties
>> begin

"But I don't want to do anything too physical, my back's acting up."

OK, I can agree to that. Last thing I want is to get my wood chopped to the tune of another $1500 my portion hospital bill.

"So, instead of sitting around here, you want to go sit around somewhere else?" I ask.

"Yeah, I guess."

>> stiffle urge to throttle husband
>> begin

"Well, you could go to the cigar store to watch the NASCAR qualifying. The library. Or a bookstore, or coffee shop. But, if you're at a bookstore you might as well go to the library..." I replied, as our main library branch also has a coffee shop in it.

"Wait, I've got library books checked out, right? I can read those. Do you know where I put them?"

>> stiffle urge to throttle husband
>> begin

>> sigh inwardly
>> wonder when I became a single mom
>> begin

"They're on the table. Where you put them, when you were 'cleaning up'".

So I'm puttering in the kitchen, and DH askes if we have the bits to make rice pudding. He thinks it'll make his back feel better, which is a very obvious ruse. But it's cheap, easy, and warm, so I happily commence.

>> stuff self silly on rice pudding
>> begin

A load of dishes and laundry later, I ask DH if he's decided what he would like for dinner. I ask because usually I have absolutely no preference, whereas DH tends to change appetites on a whim. When he replied "I don't care" I jumped on the chance and said I'd make grilled chicken alfredo. Quick, tasty, and always generates leftovers because it's not one of DH's favorites. Sneaky, I know, but I take those leftovers to work. Last time I made something expecting leftovers (crockpot chili on Super Bowl Sunday), it disappeared with a frightening quickness.

I'm getting bits together, and DH shuffles into the kitchen.

"You know, spaghetti actually does sound better."

>> stiffle urge to throttle husband
>> begin

"I wish you'd mentioned that earilier. It's 4 now, and the sauce always tastes better when it simmers longer."

"It'll be ready by 7 right? Plenty of time to simmer...."

>> deep, calming breaths
>> begin

So I make spaghetti sauce. Sautee one chopped onion. Brown a pound of sausage and use half for the sauce (package up the rest to make dirty rice later this week). One 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, one 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (drained), onions, sausage and seasoning. Add one drained can of mushrooms halfway through (8 oz after draining).

Since I'd already gotten a taste for alfredo, I made a half batch of that during the 3 hour simmer-a-thon and packaged it up for lunch.

Then, I made a box of Jiffy's blueberry muffin mix, except I make it as a small cake rather than muffins. BTW, I love Jiffy mix. One box is 39 cents, fills the little tray for my toaster oven perfectly, and results in eight 2x4 inch cake bars. Two of these equals breakfast, so almost a week's worth of breakfast for 39 cents plus milk, egg, and tax.

DH smelled the baking, and came in and sampled a piece (as I had done). "Interesting" he said. This translates into "Wow, this is foul, how can you eat this?!?" Doesn't hurt my feelings a bit, because now I know DH won't be bogarting my breakfast cakes because he thinks they taste funny.

I'm chilling in the kitchen to occasionally stir the sauce, so I decide to clean out the fridge. Oh boy, I have GOT to get better about left-overs. On the plus side, I now know that pineapple makes an excellant substitute for a petri dish.

Another load of laundry and dishes later, and the sauce is as done as it's gonna get. This translates to "I was hungry and didn't want to wait any more!". When it was all said and done, there were maybe 2 cups of sauce left. Out of 2 quarts... Good thing I made the alfredo, I guess!

DH finally broke down and took something for his back, which made him much more agreeable. This in turn made me much more agreeable, and the rest of the evening was spent taking turns playing computer games on my laptop and drinking hot tea.

Silly Problem to Have

February 8th, 2007 at 02:01 pm

I warn you, up front, that this problem might not strike you as a problem at all. It may even sound like a nifty thing to have happen. If that is the case, please don't email me or comment about how I need to quit my bit@#ing and be happy about it when so many people are suffering the exact opposite. Deal?

Alright, now that I've got that out of the way...

Here's the silly problem: I'm loosing weight and I'm not trying to. See? Seems silly. But it's noticeable, and the fact that I'm not doing anything different is what's causing me some mild concern.

Someone is sure to point out that I posted in the threads about the fact that I threw away my scale. Right you are, observant one!

Thing is, I bought 3 new pairs of business casual pants in September. Two of them were just a hair too tight but after an hour of wear fit fine. You've had pants like that, right? Now, 5 months later, I put them on and they're hanging off of me straight from the dryer. At this point, they're almost too big for me to be able to wear to work and still be decent!

Now, my pants don't fit, my high heels are too big so I shuffle when I walk so they won't go flying off, and my wedding ring fits comfortably on my right middle finger. Even without a scale, it's pretty obvious I'm loosing some weight, right?

Like I said before, under normal circumstances this might be kinda neato. But, I'm not trying to loose weight. Add to that the fact that the holidays just passed, I've cut my smoking in half, and I sit in front of a computer 10 hours a day, and it starts to become crystal clear that I most certainly should not be loosing weight.

My diet hasn't really changed: moderately healthy with moments of sheer stupidity. I'm not walking or lifting or any of the things that would constitute exercise (you know, the ones I should be doing).

The only thing I can think of is kinda funny. Maybe it's partly because we're keeping the house colder than last winter? Maybe I'm shivering the inches off Big Grin

It's getting to the point that I'm going to have to start getting new (or new to me) clothes, or I won't be able to sit down in my work pants without clipping the waistline shut. I don't want new clothes, I like the ones I have! More to the point, I don't want to buy new clothes. I'm sure if someone offered me a free assortment of properly fitting pants I'd take it. But actually buying replacements for the 6 pairs of pants and 3 pairs of shoes I'm playing "Dress Up" in right now? Bah!

Spring and Frugal Fixin's

February 7th, 2007 at 08:02 pm

First let me just say: Spring decided to visit today. Monday it was 17 degrees when I woke up. Today the high was over 60. No wonder my sinuses are all funky...

Nothing much to report from the great upstate region. I'm test-driving some open source finance programs to see if I can review one here. I've only found one so far that specifically lets you assign one entry (say a credit card payment) to multiple categories and specific dollar amount (i.e. paid $200 to Visa, $50 for groceries, $100 for electric bill, $50 for debt payment). Cool function, but the rest of that program bites so I can't recommend it. I'll find one that's nifty and get something posted in the next few days.

And now, for frugal fixin's. Lunch was leftover salad from last night's dinner. Place here has an $8 salad but it comes with about 12 oz of salad greens, currents, walnuts, bacon, sliced turkey and ham, and provolone cheese. Easily 2 meals, and pretty AOK on the healthy scale.

Tonight: grilled the chicken tenders and boneless thighs I got on sale 50% off this weekend. I always try to grill extra and keep it in the freezer, since it makes things like chicken alfredo much easier on lazy days. We had stir fry green beans (freezer shopping) and rice (from the 15 lb bag we bought 2 years ago).

And then the coup de gras (sp?): homemade rice pudding. OH MY FREAKING GOODNESS was it good!!! And super easy, so I'm going to share:

1 1/2 cup cooked rice
2 cups milk, divided
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tblsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

cook this over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until it starts to get thick and creamy. add half a cup of milk and a beaten egg and cook for another 2 minutes (mine wasn't thickening, so I cooked for 5-7 minutes rather than 2). remove from heat, stir in the butter and vanilla. add cinnamon/raisins if you like and server warm.

YUM YUM YUM! I'd have made another batch, but I ran out of milk as it is and had to use watered down half&half to finish the recipe.

No worries, though: I always make a bunch of rice when I cook it, so I've got 2 cups just waiting to become rice pudding this weekend

Big Grin

Software: You Don't Always Get What You Pay For

February 5th, 2007 at 01:56 pm

Chances are you're already using Open Source software without even knowing. How is this possible? You're online, right now. As of January, Apache webserver is the backbone 73.17% of the world's websites. The cost of this amazing bit of software? Nothing. Zip, zilch, nada. It's Open Source.

This just goes to prove that you don't always get what you pay for.

The internet abounds with free software, it has for years. Terms like freeware, shareware, and careware are familiar to most net-hounds. When you download freeware, the license agreement typically says something to the effect of "free for personal or non-commercial use". There might be a pop-up that says "click here to buy a feature rich version", or possibly some ads floating around. Freeware is free from a cost perspective, but there are restrictions on what you are 'allowed' to do with it.

Open Source, while not exactly new, is a little bit different. One of the best descriptions of the spirit of Open Source is from the GNU Operating System webpage.

Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer.

Open Source software is not always cost-free. A lot of it is, but not all. You might have heard of a little piece of Open Source software called RedHat Linux, the one available in a box for a price at your local electronics store. Open Source software is free in terms of freedom of use. Once you have it, it's yours to do with as you see fit. Want it for commercial use? No problem! Want to burn copies to CDs and give them out as birthday gifts for 50 of your closest friends? Go ahead, it's yours to do with as you see fit. Want to burn it to CDs and sell them at 5 bucks a pop? Feel free! As long as everyone who gets your software gets the same rights you did, it's all good.

The other perk of Open Source software, though not of interest to the bulk of the public, is that the source code creating the program is made publicly available. Hence the name Open Source... When the source code is available, a knowledgeable programmer can add to a piece of software, making it do exactly what is needed, rather than having to be satisfied with 'close enough'.

Even the average software user can take advantage of this capability, though. Most Open Source software has some sort of active online presence where users and developers can discuss bugs, fixes, and feature requests. They offer ways for you as a consumer to get involved in making the software you use better. Can you imagine being a member of a web group and asking Microsoft® developers for a particular feature in the next release? Right...

So, are you excited yet? More importantly, are you wondering where to go to get started? Below are the Open Source programs I have installed on my thumb drive, home computer, work computer and/or laptop.

Office Suites, Text Editors, Productivity

Boy, where to begin with this one?!? I'll give you my three main kudos for this program, and then I'll leave the rest up to you.
1. OpenOffice opens existing Word®, Excel®, and PowerPoint® files with no problem, and gives you the option to save files in OpenOffice or Microsoft® proprietary formats. Translation: You can still use your old files, and everyone else can still use your new files.
2. This office suite natively supports PDF creation. Translation: You can make your own PDFs from your own documents, without using a plugin, installing a printer driver, or having to buy Adobe Acrobat® (MSRP US$449)
1. I'm formatting a book for a friend of mine for small-run publishing. This book is over 3 megs when saved as a Word document. When saved in the OpenOffice native format, it's less than half a meg in size...

Please note that Keynote is no longer being actively supported by its creator. With that said, it's still a nifty, useful piece of software. It is what's called tree-based noting software, which is hard to describe without actually showing it to you. Imagine typing recipes, calls to return tomorrow at work, a grocery list, your favorite websites, and a poem, all on different sheets of paper. Now imagine you're filing these: there could be a folder for work, a folder for homelife, and a folder for personal interests. Lastly, imagine putting them into one filing cabinate labeled "ME". This is kinda what Keynote does: creates one file on your computer (like the filing cabinate) that can contain multiple notes (like the folders) that can contain multiple nodes (like the sheets of paper holding different information). Since it's all written onto one file on your computer, the information always stays together and can be re-organized as you see fit. And yes, you can create more than one file if you want or need to!

This is what I use as my checkbook register. I don't particularly like how the budgeting functionality works, but I like the flexibility it offers with regards to categories. It can import CSV and QIF files, and can export CSV and HTML files.

This is another text editor, but this one is specifically for coding. It allows project creation (to keep like bits of code together) and automatic code syntax highlighting (even for COBOL, Fortran and Assembly!). Neat software for the geeks among us.

Photos, Image Editing

I've used Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro (when it was Jasc, before Corel got their hands on it!), and I'm still pleased with what GIMP offers. Especially when you compare the pricing structure. Be forwarned, though, that The GIMP is intended for relatively intensive image editing. If all you need is to resize your photos and remove some red-eye, this might be a bit overkill. Like shooting a squirrel with an AK47 would be considered 'overkill'.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom® US $199*
Adobe Photoshop CS2® US $1199
Paint Shop Pro Photo XI® Full (197 MB) - Download $79.99
The GIMP: Free


Not OpenSource, but a great piece of freeware and the easiest data synchronizer I've seen! Per their website "A single user license for SyncBackSE covers its use on up to 5 computers for personal use. If you also intend to use SyncBackSE to process business related data on a separate computer, then you should buy a second license."

A nice little zip/unzip utility. Works with zips, jars, tars, gzs, cabs, etc. If all you recognized was 'zips', don't worry: it'll do exactly what you need it to!

This is the cleanest Open Source synchronizer I've been able to find. By 'clean' I mean the interface is nice, I'm in no way referencing viruses of any sort. It runs using Java, so it doesn't actually install itself on your computer, which is nice. I don't find it as intuitive as SyncBack, but it also doesn't have the same 'freeware' restrictions.

Internet, Email, Calendar
I'm not going to go into too much detail on these because I think they might be a little more widely known. For those that aren't familiar with some or all of these products, Mozilla offers software for email, calendar, FTP, and internet browsing. They are separate downloads and work independently, so you can pick and choose as you like.

Or, try a 'sampler pack' of sorts! Portable Apps offers a suite of popular OpenSource programs as a single download (including many listed above). This package is designed to run on thumb drives, so the software it offers is compact. The trade-off is that, since it is slightly stripped-down in order to make it smaller, you get fewer of the bells and whistles for in programs than you would if you downloaded the full-sized versions.

Believe me, this list is in no way exhaustive: there are literally tens of thousands of Open Source projects available online. If you have an idea of the type of software you're looking for, here are some common Open Source repositories.

Freebies and Kizmit Coupons

February 3rd, 2007 at 06:15 am

Yesterday was a good day, financially speaking. Actually a pretty good day over all, but especially for finances.

I went to Publix on my lunch break, as they're a quarter mile from my office. THey had Pepsi products on sale (FINALLY), avocadoes 2/$1, and Excedrin migraine 50 packs BOGO for $5.99. They also had the store brand organic canned beans and tomatoes I use on sale, so I need to go back and stock up. Anyway, Publix is the only store I go to that has the coupon dispensers on the aisles, so I always walk the entire store seeing what they have available. Yesterday, they had Claritin D coupons: 4 bucks off. YEEHAW!

Why so excited? Well, DH takes these everday, and even the store brand is close to a buck a pill. ACK! Plus, CVS has Claritin on sale this week, regular 18.99 for the 15 pack, on sale for 14.99, AND you earn 5 reward bucks for the purchase. Oh, and I happened to have $1.50 in CVS bucks already floating around in my purse. So, after work, I beeline it to CVS and get the 1 pack of Claritin I'm allowed per day by law. Grrrr... Regular 18.99, I paid less than 11 after my 2 coupons and the sale and I'll be earning 5 bucks back on the purchase. DH and I are going back today and we're each going to buy the one pack we're allowed, by law, which is the closest we can get to stockpiling a restricted substance. Grrrr...

OK, back to a financially woohoo day. When I pulled into the driveway, DH had just gotten home. Odd, since I was an hour late due to CVS and traffic. Suddenly it made sense when I saw the half-size chest freezer in the back of his truck. His parents had just bought a new one and are letting us use their old one. YAY FREEBIE!!! It needs a good washing as it's been kept outside, but other than that it functions and that's all I care.

I'm going to pause a moment to mention that the wish list on the fridge is proving very effective at bringing me and the house the items we need. The house had 4 items on it's list: computer, dishwasher, freezer, and a fire-proof safe. We've received the first three in the last 2 weeks, and 2 of them were freebies... My list has a new camera bag and a tripod on it. I bought a nifty new bag with my allowance savings last week, and Lux just emailed me a link for a schnazzy flexible tripod. Coincidence? Who knows, but I think I'm gonna add more stuff to the list!

Alright, back to yesterday. DH also brought back his dad's animal trap and a small 22 rifle. The trap was at my request so we could try to catch the possum in the basement. The gun was at his, in case the possum gets ornery. At first he just wanted to shoot the possum and get it over with. I looked at him and asked if he'd shoot one of the neighborhood cats just because it wandered into our basement, and he said "No, of course not" and then got quiet for a few minutes. Then he agreed to get the trap. Score one, Tina!

We needed the trap because we also went to Home Despot and got the bits needed to fix the vent. $15 well spent if it means no more suprise wildlife visits! After fixing the vent we setup the trap downstairs with some cat-food inside. If there's a possum or a neighborhood cat still in the basement, we should get it.

Final frugal act of the day was taking SunCom up on an offer they sent me in the mail. I was pre-approved for cell service with a free phone and no deposit. Boy their standards must be low! This was very fortunate b/c currently we have a house phone with a number we love on VoIP (cable) and I have a cell phone with a number I hate with the company who laid me off last summer. BLUH! Not to mention the phone isn't in my name it's in my SIL's. She didn't want the service and I took over her contract, but they place wouldn't switch the phone into my name without a $250 deposit. WTF?!?!??

At any rate, we were in and out of SunCom in less than 20 minutes and paid no money out of pocket. Walked away with a new phone (my old one was going to the birds anyways) and a temporary number until the house phone gets ported over. When it's all said and done and everything is switched and cancelled, we'll be saving about $50 per month.

Drove 3 buildings up the street to the other place and asked if we could put my existing phone on a loyalty plan (15/month before taxes & surcharges)for the end of the contract (5 months). We could get the plan, but it would extend the contract out a year from the date it was added. WHAT?!?? OK, cheaper to have them cut the phone and pay the cancellation fee of $175. BAH BIG RED!!! You're getting your last money out of me, stupid down-sizer!

Frugal Checklist for Snow Days

February 1st, 2007 at 11:34 am

Make a fire in the woodstove using free wood: logs from FIL and limbs that were already down from the last ice storm when we bought the property.

Place a pot of water on woodstove to steam up the air, since humid air feels warmer than dry air.

Spritz linen spray into the pot of water to make the room smell yummy!

Wash a load of dishes in the new dishwasher (WOOHOO!!!)

Lament the 2 hour pot & pan cycle on the dishwasher since it prevents me from washing a load of laundry or taking a shower. Secretly congratulate self on creating time to be able to surf the internet and still feel productive.

Find a teriyaki sauce recipe online so we can have pork fried rice for supper.

Go outside and freeze fingers taking pictures of snow, ice, and freezing little daffodils.

Open the door to the dishwasher to let dishes air dry. Warm moist air pours into the kitchen, doing double duty to heat the house.

Sweep the the kitchen since it was already shuffled around for said dishwasher installation.

Dip 2 pieces of clean fake-fur fabric into the near boiling water on the woodstove. Throw them on the kitchen floor and mop with free hot water.

Dip 1 clean microfiber towel into the near boiling water on the woodstove. Add 2 drops of dish-soap to the cloth. Clean the kitchen counters, stove, sink, microwave, and toaster oven with free hot water.

Entertain self by dripping water onto super-hot woodstove and watching the droplets dance.

Drink infinite amounts of coffee. Make it special by adding 1 tsp of hot cocoa mix and a dollop of milk: instant mochaccino!

Coming up: laundry and moving boxes into the attic. Wanna help?

Ice Queen

February 1st, 2007 at 07:30 am

Not really, but couldn't think of a catchy title Big Grin

I'm sure everyone around the country knows already, but in case you've been hiding: the South got winter weather today. I myself got 1.5 inches of snow.

Now, if it were just snow life would be hunky dory and there would be no issues. I'd be sitting at my desk at work right now, wasting the day in a work-like fashion. Instead, the South gets what is known as 'Freezing Rain'. For the uninitiated, freezing rain is when the atmosphere temp is warmer than surface temps. Liquid rain falls and coats every available surface in a thin sheen of water that instantly freezes over. Do this a couple million times and you get ice everywhere: cars, roofs, roads, trees, powerlines.

Invariably, it's the ice that does us in. I don't care if you're from SC or NY or MN or MI, I don't know anyone that can drive properly on ice with unchained tires. You might think I say this because I'm from the South, but the reality is that both my parents are from Detroit. Guess what: they can't drive in ice either.

And it's not just the roads; ice on the trees becomes a killer problem. I'm being literal here: tree limbs crack under the weight and come crashing down. Cars, powerlines, houses are all fair game. A former co-worker of mine saw a tree limb fall right on her sister about 2 years ago when she was walking to her car. ACK!!! Amazingly she was fine, but her car was trashed.

In '93 we had a major winter storm ("Blizzard of the Century" according to the news). There was about 8" of snow in one day, VERY MAJOR for us. But the ice and wind is what got us. We lived in the mountains and had no power for 2 weeks. Since we were so far out, no power meant no water from the well pump. Time to break out the 5 gallon buckets and start hauling water from the spring... Final count between the house, 2 cars, and our 1/3 mile driveway was over 50 trees down. Bah...

At any rate, I played my wussy card and called in to work. Luckily, working for a software company means I don't actually have to be at the office to be at work, so I'm happily 'plugged in' from home. We'll see how long the power lasts.

No worries, though. One of the perks of a woodstove is independence from electricity. Can't even say that about gas heat: no electric means no blower. As soon as I got up I started a fire. Just out of curiosity, I put a pot of water on the top once I got it good and hot, and sure enough the stove top is hot enough to cook an egg on. WooHOOO, I can even have coffee when the power goes out! As an avid camper and coffee drinker, I have a French press accessory for my water bottle. Hot water and coffee grounds go in, nectar of life comes out...

Headline: One Possum Short of a Match Set

January 31st, 2007 at 07:48 pm

Observant readers will note that, in order to be "One Possum Short of a Match Set" I must have at least one possum to begin with. And you, dear reader, would be correct.

Today was the convergence of several comic, er, cosmic forces of the universe which culminated in my taking a picture of a possum in my basement. Ironically, I got the picture when it ran to hide under DH's deer stand. HAAAAHAHAH!

First two forces of the universe involved: laziness and procrastination. I say this because there is a vent hole into our basement that's needed to be replaced since we bought the house in July. Our cats use the hole to get in and out of the basement, which isn't too bad. The neighborhood cats use the hole to get in and out of the basement, which isn't too good. Apparently a possum can use the hole to get in and out of the basement.

Next force of the universe involved: kizmit. The dishwasher we ordered from Lowes on the 15th arrived today. WOO and HOO! Today is the beginning of a new fiscal month (long story), so we were all exicted to pick up the appliance, buy the last bits needed to install it, and get it wrapped up tonight.

Final force involved is quite common: mother nature. See, it's gonna get nasty here during the next 24 hours. For details, click the flag shaped weather button to your right. Suffice to say it'll be cold and went and likely very icy (as in an inch on the power lines, not good). As a side note DH and I chopped and gathered wood when I got home from work, so since we're prepared nothing should actually stick...

So, when one has a hole into one's basement and plumiting temps outside, it is reasonable to see how one might wind up with wildlife in one's basement.

The chances of actually walking down your basement stairs and finding a possum drinking out of your sump-pump hole, however, and likely SLIM and NONE. Apparently luck was on our side and slim was still hanging around...

So, money saved by this evening's adventures in plumbing and wildlife:

$59 (pick-up instead of appliance delivery)
$150 (switching out the plumbing underneath the sink)
$150 (installing said dishwasher ourselves)
$??? (not calling a pest guy regarding the errant possum)

Going Freelance: Got Samples

January 29th, 2007 at 10:05 am

So, I went out this weekend and braved the cold and wind and got some pictures. As a side note, I also realized I really need to get a lens cleaning kit, but that's neither here nor there. Turns out, some of the pics that are posted online are even for the wrong house! Jeez Louise...

At any rate, I wanted to post a few and see if anyone (especially the house hunters among us!) would give some feedback from the perspective of a potential buyer. I'm including the realtor's name and contact number on the photo (and I'm debating about putting the MLS# on there too), which I think is a good idea but who knows if it'll fly... What do you think, would a buyer like that info placed on the photo as long as it doesn't obstruct anything?

Before & After
OK, the first house has a huge tree in the front yard, so the only viable way to shoot it is from an angle.

The other two houses are the ones where the wrong picture is currently posted online. WTF....

Visit from the Computer Fairy

January 28th, 2007 at 02:31 pm

My house has been visited by the computer fairy! Big Grin

First, some background for this post. I remember unpacking my family's first computer with my dad in 92, maybe 93. We'd splurged and gotten a 486 instead of a 386. HAAAAAAHAHHAHA!!! Anyways, we'd had computers in school for a couple of years at this point, so I sat there in the floor with my dad showing him what all the bits and pieces were, how to hook everything up, etc.

How fast they grow up...

Fast forward to today. Computers are my dad's hobby, something he tinkers with when the cigar store is slow. Over the past few weeks he's been Ebaying, buying 3 servers of varying age and completeness in order to build himself a gigando Frankenstein server. Whatever floats your boat, right?

Anyways, after taking his pick of all the parts, there was a ton left-over so he pieced them together for a new computer for me. Woohoo!!! I can't call it a PC b/c it's technically a server configuration. Can't call it a server b/c I'm not actually serving anything on it.

Semantics aside, I've got a nice new-to-me 'box' that will more than do what I need. 3 hard drives (two 18s and a 9), dual 733 mhz processors, and 788 in ram that'll get boosted up to a gig or two once he's finished picking over the parts. And since it's a 'server', there's plenty of room to grow.

My cost? Well, he won't let me help pay for the parts. Dad's, what can you do? Since it used to be a server, there was no sound card and no USB ports (which I need for my photographs). We went to Circuit City today and bought a sound card, a USB PCI card, and a USB hub for $75.

Having the new computer gave us the motivation to rearrange the office to be able to fit everything in properly. Here is our office, with all the freebies marked with a red X. And yes, there is one on the cat Big Grin

Going Freelance: I think I Can!

January 26th, 2007 at 01:40 pm

I've been mulling over the whole "generate your own income" thing for a while. Some of you might remember it's one of my new year's goals to come up with 10 ways I can make about $500 per month. On that list I've already include "something to do with photography". Real specific, right?

I've always been better taking pictures of inanimate objects for some reason or another. Especially buildings. I have a 'thing' for architecture and I really enjoy taking pictures of houses, churches, etc. Probably 2/3 of the pics I took in Argentina were architectural. This combined with my realtively recent house purchase has made me think of real estate photography on and off for the past couple of months. I know when I was looking at houses, if it didn't have a picture I usually didn't bother. I think that's pretty much the norm.

Things were slow at work today, so I revisted the idea. Went online to my favorite real estate watering hole to see what the market looks like right now. Generally, there are about 6000 houses on the market at any given time in my area, over 600 in a 5 mile radius of my house. Even with a 'bursting real estate bubble' our area is booming, what with BMW, Michelin, FUJI, and ICAR calling the upstate 'home'.

6000 properties. If I could just grab 1% of those...

Anyways, when browsing today I picked 21 listings, ranging from $64,900 to $1,649,000. These listing either had no pictures (BAD), or really crappy pictures (WORSE!). Don't believe me?

This house is listed for $77,900

This house is listed for $210,000

WHAT THE FOO? Who's gonna bother looking when the pictures are like this? What does that say about the real estate agent, or the agency?

When I saw these pics, I thought to myself "A trained monkey could do better than this. Or an untrained human!" Since I myself am an untrained human, I figure I qualify.

So, I have 21 listings from 14 different agents, all in about a 5 mile radius of my house. This weekend, I'm going to go around to several (one's even on my street!) and take some pictures. Next week I'm going to email the pictures to the realtors directly, letting them know I'd be happy to work with them.

BTW, I don't have any 'normal' house pictures with me that I've taken, but here are some of my more 'artsy' ones for comparison purposes.

Dishwasher Saga

January 26th, 2007 at 05:15 am

Grrrrr... Dishwasher is backordered until the first. Ergo, $300 tied up in the intricacies of Lowes ordering system for 2 weeks.

Good news is that the drain pipe is of course fixed, and we've run the electical. Last thing on the list (other than bringing the blasted thing home!) is to replace the drain plumbing under the kitchen sink so the washer has a place to hook up. Oh, and cut some holes in the cabinatry with a hole saw for the water in, water out, and electrical. Luckly, there was already an opening in the cabinatry for the dishwasher, so no major carpentry is needed. Someone had just added doors and a kick plate to the front when they took the old dishwasher out back in the way back.

Here's hoping that when the darn thing finally arrives, all we have to do is plug 'er in, hook 'er up, and slide 'er home!

Replacing the Kitchen Drain: A Soapmaker's Perspective

January 22nd, 2007 at 08:01 am

That's right: a soapmaker. As in 'one who makes soap'.

As many of you know I have really sensitive and dry skin. This led me down a path several years ago that resulted in making my own soap. Not the stuff you buy to melt-down and mold, I'm talking full-on face protection while you mix the lye, add some fat, and eventually cut into slabs soap. It's actually quite enjoyable, a nice blend of exact science and crafty creativity (kinda like baking).

FYI, for the curious fruggie, you can make basic soap for about $1.50 per pound, perhaps $2 if you decide to make it smell pretty. It is cheaper to buy Ivory soap when you find a coupon or a good sale, BUT Ivory dries my skin out. Plus, for the veggies and vegans out there, Ivory is made from animal products (sodium tallowate = soap made from beef fat, which is actually a very good fat for making soap).

I'm still hoarding my last batch of soap, I make some every 2 years or so b/c it is a PITA to clean up afterwards. You'd think a big batch of soaping stuff would be easy to clean, right? WRONG: the stuff in the pot isn't soap yet, it's just a hot greasy caustic mess that'll burn you if you're not careful!

But, I digress.

DH and I replaced the kitchen drain pipe Friday evening. Yes, the one that was leaking like a seive. The pipe we took out was 2.5" cast iron and likely original to the house. It was so badly deteriorated that, when we tried to snap it with the specially rented pipe cutter, one part of the cast iron shattered. Turns out we could slice the thing off using our Saws-All and didn't have to have the rental equipment after all. Oh well...

Anyways, we got the section off, and I found myself staring into the pipe. Like a bad car-wreck, I couldn't tear my eyes away. Inside the 2.5" pipe was maybe 1" of space for the drain water. The rest of the pipe looked like it was filled with red clay.

Of course, it wasn't clay. It was 80 years worth of EWWWWWWWWWW!!!! Think of the stuff that gets poured down your kitchen sink. Imagine 80 years worth of it. That's what was inside the pipe. It looked like red clay because it had been tinted by the rust from the pipe. In retrospect, that was probably a good thing otherwise I mighta tossed my cookies.

And this, dear friends, is when my inner soapmaker spoke up about the beauty of drain cleaners.

Sodium hydroxide (lye) + water generates heat (a lot, actually).

Hot water/lye solution + fat = a cascading exothermic chemical reaction called saponification, otherwise known as soapmaking.

The chemical structure of soap gives it a dual nature, a split personality if you will. One side of the molecule is hydrophillic: it loves water and is attracted to it (this comes from the lye used in the process). The other side of the molecule is hydrophobic/lipophillic: it loves fats and is attracted to them (this comes from the fat used in the process). The result is soap's ability to 'cut' grease and increase water's cleaning power.

Putting lye down a drain and flushing it with hot water creates the solution which in turn reacts with a layer of the fatty EWWW lining the pipe turning it into some weird freakish soap (but soap nontheless). Soap + hot water = the ability to dissolve even more of the unreacted fatty EWWW in the pipe.

Moral of the story? Who-ever named 'drain cleaner' must have been a soapmaker!

I Fought the Lawn, and the Lawn Won

January 20th, 2007 at 12:52 pm

OK, for the purists out there I am using the term 'lawn' very loosely, as I have no actual grass to speak of. Well, I do have some, but that wasn't what I dealt with today.

Today I raked.

And raked.

Oh, and did I mention I raked?

I filled my compost heap, I covered the 8'x10' tarp, and I have another two huge piles. For the curious, I only raked 2 areas, totaling maybe 200 square feet. Got leaves?

The good news is that rotten leaves are second only to poop (cow or worm, not cat or dog!) when it comes to making good dirt. To be living in the land of Carolina Clay, I have uncovered a gold mine of rich moist loamy black earth. WOOHOO!! I'm thinking I'm going to use this lovely dirt to my advantage and plant a lettuce plot in the back yard, which is all northern exposure. I have some old lettuce seeds, but might get some new ones here, where I can buy a 1oz mix of organic seeds for $7.50. In case your curious, 1 oz of lettuce seeds is about 20,000 (!!!), which means I should be able to have plenty of baby green salads for the spring and winter.

At this point, the lettuce is my only planned contribution to my yard's foliage. As many of you know, the house I bought originally belonged to what I must assume was an avid gardener. I say this because I have counted, thus far, 11 varities of camellias, and have another 4 or 5 that haven't even bloomed yet. I 'inherited' camellias, azaleas, daffy's, periwinkle, roses, mimosa, nadina, rose of sharon, and countless other items.

Here's what's showing off today. Nadina berries, periwinkle, daffodil, 2 of my camellias, bamboo, and what I think is privet. Not sure on that last one, though.

And, while I'm thinking about it, does anyone know what this is? I've got a crapload of it!

Optical Illusion: OW!

January 19th, 2007 at 12:23 pm

OK, if the pic below isn't big enough, click on it and it'll take you to a full-size version.

Just glancing at the picture, the bits seem to move. Focus your eyes on any particular spot and the movement grinds to a halt. OW!

Adding value to the house...

January 15th, 2007 at 08:48 am

Yeah, that's the ticket, I'm adding value to the house...

DH and I said we were going to put a dishwasher in our house when we closed in July. One because it'll add value to our 1969 kitchen, and two because we're a couple of slacker anti-dishwashing fools. Don't ask me why, don't ask me where it came from, but I've hated doing dishes since I was 10 years old. HATE IT!

My parents made me do the dinner dishes for our family for about 2 months, and I was so bad at it my punishment was to have to wash every dish in the house. Nice thinking, pops: now ALL the dishes in the house were only halfway washed, not just the everyday dishes... My mom finally had it UP TO THERE (you know where THERE is, right?) and told me I wouldn't have to wash the dishes, but she would never wash a stich of my clothing again. COOL! I like laundry, and love to iron, so we were both very pleased with this compromise.

Anyways, I digress. I hate doing dishes. I'm better at it than I was in my youth, but I'd still rather iron king sized sheets than wash a load of cutlery any day. And DH, well... Let's just say he means well when he washes a dish.

Add to this the fact that the cast iron drain pipe from my kitchen sink leaks like a seive (no exaggeration here, I'm afraid) into my basement, and you get a kitchen that is an absolute wreck. Intead of washing the dishes as they're used, they get rinsed and then wait for a full load since all the dishwater is going to drain into the basement anyways.

Needless to say, the dish situation made it difficult to work up the motivation to do something so frugal as to cook and eat at home. So, well, we didn't.

Over dinner last night I told DH I enjoy eating out, but I enjoy eating at home too. Add to that it's financially healthier to eat at home, and my preference becomes clear.

He didn't understand what I meant when I said it was financially healthier. So I told him what we've spent the past 2.5 weeks in groceries and eating out (mostly eating out). I cannot, I will not repeat the number here because it is utterly appalling, mortifying even. He asked me to repeat myself, because surely the number I had just given him couldn't be right. Could it?

Oh yeah, it was right. His response? BLINK BLINK.

After a very long pause he said "Maybe we'd cook at home more if we actually put that dishwasher in. Of course, that means we'll have to fix the cast iron drain pipe, first..."


The cost of repairing the pipe will come out of my monthly budgeted amount for home improvement and repair 'stuff', so no extra money spent there. The money for the dishwasher? Well, the house had some cash sitting around unallocated in savings from the era of my 'save it aimlessly till you need it' mentality. Since it is in no way figured into our existing budget, we're gonna use that to pay cash for the dishwasher.

Total cost for the dishwasher and materials/tools to fix the pipe: approximately $350

Total saved doing the pipe repair and dishwasher install ourselves: approximately $250

Total value added to the house: WHO CARES!!!! I WON'T HAVE TO WASH DISHES!!!!

Well, I do care of course, but it'll be several months before we get it appraised so I guess we'll find out then. Alls I know is it appraised for 74,500 without a dishwasher, cook top, or oven, and with that freaking huge tree in the yard. Tree's gone, cook-top is in, dishwasher is moving in; now I just gotta find a built-in-oven for cheap.

Total saved by eating out less: I'm so ashamed, I really can't reveal that. Let's just say it's, um, A LOT.

General Updates, Musings

January 11th, 2007 at 06:04 pm

Can't believe it's Thursday already! Good grief! *in my best Charlie Brown voice*

I've been under the weather here lately, even called in sick to work yesterday. Don't think it was still "Revenge of the Poblano", but let's just say I'm now intimately acquainted with my bathroom... Bluh... Still not high on energy level, but what can you expect when your food isn't in your system long enough for you to get any nutritional value?

Sick or not, I took my uninterrupted computer time at home to a) figure out work problems and b) work on personal problems. It makes sense in my head, just not when I write it down! At any rate, I did figure out the work problem, hence the code post from earlier in the day.

The personal problem is a horse of a different color, as they say. Remember me saying one of the emails wasn't written from our home computer when DH and I were both home? Well, one of my options was that he had email capability on his phone, but so far as I can tell, he doesn't. So, what do we make of an email sent from DH's email account when he wasn't logged in to his email? Very weird... Perhaps a cohort? Who would he get to help him in such an endeavor? Especially when everyone knows I use the sheriff as a personal referance when applying for jobs?

Since I'm unsure as to the authenticity of what I've seen, I've not brought it up. I am still, however, keeping my ears to the ground and my nose to the wind, so to speak.

On a different, and yet somewhat related, note a show came on TLC last night about sex addicts while DH was channel surfing. He hadn't heard of this before and decided to watch. I kept my psych-major mouth shut and let him hear what other folks have to say on the subject. We'll see....

Financially, all's quiet on the western front. Water bill came today, and I've had enough money in the 'water bill account' since the middle of last month, so it's nice to see things working out they way they're supposed to. Pocket money is gone but is due to be replinished on payday the 15th, so no real worries there. Ditto grocery money. Don't worry, it's not like there's no money; it's all sitting there waiting for me to take it out when I'm scheduled to do so. Since Monday is a holiday and the banks are closed, I might actually take $ out early. This is one of those months where getting $400 per month rather than $100 per week turns into a real pain!

Oh, I forgot to mention the books!!! Someone had asked what I'd gotten to read and I forgot to respond. I just finished the last one yesterday, but here they are anyways:

"Body Movers" - Stephanie Bond: Murder mystery w/ romantic overtones. It was OK, got it b/c it was set in Atlanta

"Dead Cat Bounce" - Norman Green: Mystery with mobster overtones. I liked it, but didn't like the way the ending wrapped up so impersonally when the main character's personal grievances were driving the plot. Like the author's writing voice, though. Favorite phrases "more moves than an epileptic prostitute" and "what a pain in the dick" Big Grin Got it b/c I liked the title

"Monkey Man" - Steve Brewer: Mystery with zoo overtones. I think the main character in this is featured in the author's series, so it might have been more enjoyable if I were more familiar with the line. Got it b/c there was a picture of a stuffed monkey on the front, and a friend of mine in college was nicknamed 'monkey man'

"Farewell Summer" - Ray Bradbury. Got b/c, well, it's Ray Bradbury! Definitely not what I was expecting from Ray, but nice nontheless. Pretty much a human drama, but the ending is a hoot and made me laugh out loud.

"The Christmas Pig" - Kinky Friedman. I've read a couple of his books and wasn't sure what to expect from this. Good thing, cause I never would have expected this! Cute, slightly inspiring, definintely not what I expect from Kinky Friedman...

Sublime Spinach

January 11th, 2007 at 04:11 pm

Spinach. How do I love thee? Two ways: cooked and raw Big Grin

You've gottena bad wrap, spinach, what with the e coli stuff going around. Folks are scared of you, but I know better! Bring spinach into your home, wash it lovingly and with care.

I prefer a spinach salad over any other. Especially nice with sliced strawberries, diced purple onions, walnuts and a strawberry or raspberry vinagrette. YUM!

Spinich in my alfredo sauce, please. And artichokes if you've got 'em.

Creamed spinach that tastes creamy but isn't: one thawed package of spinach and one mixed up egg microwaved and occasionally stirred until the spinach is heated through and through. Cheap, tasty, and Oh! so good for you!.

From World's Healthiest Foods , one cup of cooked spinach provides

vitamin K 888.50 mcg 1110.6%
vitamin A 14742.00 IU 294.8%
manganese 1.68 mg 84.0%
folate 262.44 mcg 65.6%
magnesium 156.60 mg 39.1%
iron 6.43 mg 35.7%

Boy Does My Head Hurt...

January 11th, 2007 at 01:49 pm

I've been coding too long this week!

I think I'm done, actually, which is GOOD NEWS. Why? Cause this is what I'm starting to see when I close my eyes to go to bed at night... GAH!!!

convert (varchar(5), b.VersionIndicator) AS VersionIndicator,
convert (varchar(8), b.GroupID) AS GroupID,
convert (varchar(12), '') AS B01,
convert (varchar(2), a.Relationship_Code) AS Relationship,
'00' AS F01,
convert (varchar(9), b.SSN) AS SSN,
convert (varchar(4), '') AS B02,
CASE a.Relationship_Code
When '18' THEN '00'
ELSE ' '
END F02,
CASE a.Relationship_Code
When '18' THEN convert (varchar(9), b.SSN)
ELSE ' '
convert (varchar(4), '') AS B03,
'00' AS F03,
convert (varchar(13), '') AS OSSN,
convert (varchar(16), '') AS B04,
convert (varchar(8), b.HireDate) AS HireDate,
convert (varchar(12), '') AS B05,
replace((replace((replace((replace((replace(convert(varchar(20), a.LastName), '/', ' ')),'-','')),'#','Nbr ')),',','')),'.','') AS LastName,
DTS UHG_Export
@count int,
@use varchar(5)
set @count = (select count(*)+1 FROM UHG_Compiled)
set @use = convert(varchar(5), @count)
' ' AS Filler,
replicate ('0', 8 - LEN(@use))+@use AS InclHeader,
'|' AS EOF
VIEW dbo.UHG_Compiled
# Create UHG Export File, compile header.txt and body.txt,
# add date-stamp to .gsf file
@echo off
for /f "tokens=1-4 delims=/ " %%i in ("%date%") do (
set dow=%%i
set month=%%j
set day=%%k
set year=%%l
set date=%year%%month%%day%
set file=SUBMITID.U.%date%0000.gsf
copy c:UHGUHG_header.txt+c:UHGUHG_body.txt c:UHG%file%

Sneaky CVS

January 9th, 2007 at 08:09 am

Just wanted to drop a line regarding something I noticed in CVS last night. 'Tis very sneaky, and didn't want anyone to fall for it.

While walking around CVS this time of year, you'll notice a TON of clearance stickers. Lines they no longer carry, manufacturers have discontinued, or perhaps the packaging is going to change. Regardless of the reason, they're everwhere.

Some of the clearance tags on the shelves are market 25%, 50%, or 75% off and give the before and after prices. Good deals, and even better if you combine them with coupons you might have lying around.

But then there are the sneaky clearance tags on the shelf. They say 'Clearance, Get it While it Lasts!' and only have a price on them. No percents, no before price, just a price. If you peel this sticker tag off the shelf, you can see that this "clearance" price is actually the same as the regular price.


So, when you're in CVS gathering up great deals, make sure you're picking up items that are marked with a clearance tag that shows a certain percent off. Otherwise, your clearance might not be the great deal you think it is.

Still Kickin!

January 8th, 2007 at 01:36 pm

Lux posted a comment saying I've been a li'l too quiet and to pipe up if I'm still up 'n' at 'em.

So, here I am, still up 'n' at 'em.

I'm quiet b/c I'm wrangling, you see. Wrangling the obvious personal problems, plus an enjoyable conundrum at work. I like my work conundrums as there's almost always a right answer, whether I'm the one to find it or not.

As for the aforementioned personal issues, well, I'm still in ponder mode. So far as I can tell the email/emails in question weren't typed on my home computer. Don't ask how, just trust that I'd know Wink With that said, I know at least one of them was sent while DH and I were both in the house together. There are 2 possible solutions to this personal conundrum, and I'm still trying to determine which it is. One involves someone else accessing his account, one involves his cell-phone....

I've not been feeling particularly well the past few days, for some obvious reasons but also due to a poblano pepper I ate Saturday night at a Mexican restaurant. I love them stuffed with cheese, but PLEASE take the seeds out next time!!!!! Please?!?!?? Needless to say, it felt like my insides would prefer to be outside for a while. All in all, not the most awe-inspiring weekend of my life.

But on a pleasant note I went to the library yesterday and checked out 5 new releases. Finished the first one today during my second break at work. It's doubtful the rest will last me until next Sunday, but we'll see...

A Funny, A Question, and Waxing Philosophical

January 6th, 2007 at 06:22 am

A Funny
Baselle said I should kick K-Fed out the door and I almost peed my pants!!!! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHHAHAHHAh hHAHAHAHAHH AHHAHAHAHHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! If DH looks like anybody it's Santa but with brown hair and a goatee... So I started picturing kicking Santa out the door and that's when the laughs started!!! hehehehe!!!! Thanks for that, b/c it definitely lifted my mood.

A Question
This is a call to anyone willing to share their experiences. I don't know if it will come down to divorce or not, but I would like some tips on being prepared, if need be, financially speaking. Emotionally speaking is a whole 'nuther story...

OK, here's the facts Jacks.

There are 3 checking accounts total: DH's which has my name on it too, and my two which are in my name only. All bills are paid from my account. There are 2 savings accounts: 1 at the credit union in my name only with my checking accounts, and one online in my name only. DH has $550 direct deposited into my checking account every 2 weeks.

The only debt we have in both of our names is the house, otherwise our CCs are our own, the car and student loan are mine, and the hospital, Honda Card, and inlaws are DH's.

Currently all our money except for his allowance goes into my checking account and I handle it from there. After bills, allowances, and short term savings we have a $1300 excess each month. In ideal times this is used for long term and retirement savings and the rest for debt reduction, but since my job is tenuous right now we've already decided to stash it as a mini EF for the next few months anyways.

When it comes to household income including both of our personal allowances, DH makes 38% of the total brought in, I make 62%. I don't think we've been together long enough for alimony to be awarded (for some reason I'm thinking that's 4 yrs of marriage here but I'm not sure). Even if it were a question, SC doesn't require alimony be paid to an adulterer if that's the proven grounds for divorce.

Lately DH has been lobbying to be added to my credit union checking account since that's where all the household money is in case of an emergency. I had his name added to the actual printed checks but haven't yet added him to the account. I'm pretty sure that if I add him to that account he'll have access to the savings and both checking since they're all available online together when I log in.

So, with that: what're your thoughts?

Waxing Philosophical
What with this week's events and all the New Year resolutions flying around, I've been pondering a bit. Lots of you read my blog about weight issues, and the comments on that entry do a great job of pointing out one sad little fact: no seems to be happy with themselves. An 18 wants to bea 12, a 12 wants to be an 8, an 8 wants to be a 4, and a 4 just isn't happy till they're a 0.

I guess it's not really that folks aren't happy with themselves, it's more a dissatisfaction. And it's not just weight, of course.

Why can't we be satisfied with who we are, where we're at, or what we have? I say we b/c I do this too. I make good money, but there's a part of me that thinks it would be great to make more. I'm in pretty durn good shape, but sometimes I look in the mirror and think "I've gotta do something about this!"

I don't think this is a ladies only affliction, guys do it too just not the same way. Not satisfied with the gadget they have, or the car they have, or the wife/GF they have. And hey, ladies fall prey to all those too sometimes...

And I don't really think it's an age thing, even though there are they sterotypes of mid-life crisis and going through a forced 'rejuvination' (if you want to call it that). Along those lines, I stumbled upon a site about "quarter-life-crises". Real or not? Or just a bunch of dissatisfied people? Hehehehe... Maybe DH is going through a 'quarter-life' crisis *wry smirk*

What I don't know is: this 'whole not being satisfied with what we have and who we are', is this an American condition? Is this the result of living in a competitive, commercialized, disposible culture. Or, is this a human condition? Instead of houses it's huts in place A, and instead of cars it's mules or pigs or chickens in place B.

I can see where, on Darwinian terms, the urge to take the net step up and out would be beneficial. Satisfaction leads to stagnation and complacency, which leads to being the next dinner for a lion, tiger, or bear (Oh My!). So, I can see the urge to move onwards, upwards, and forwards being 'hard wired' so to speak.

But is it really that bad everywhere outside of America? From what I can remember of Argentina, they weren't like this to the extreme so many Americans are. Well, they are in certain ways: apparently plastic surgery down there is like getting braces up here! Seriously, 2 of the reps working part-time had just gotten nose jobs, it's that common.

But in so many other ways, they were content to just be content. Small houses, used cars, lots of shopping and plastic surgery. A weird amalgam of the old-world Europe and rat race USA stereotypes.

So, what do you think? Can we actual be satisfied, or is it human nature to think the grass is always greener on the other side? Is it really possible to be content with just being content?

Goals: Harsh Words, True Thoughts

January 3rd, 2007 at 08:59 am

Alright, before you click the link below remember that Violent Acres uses strong language. I'm including excerpts from her entry because I think this concept applies to a lot more than weight, which I'll get to eventually.

Americans Aren’t Fat Because They Lack Willpower; They’re Fa...

To put it simply, a lot of people struggle with their weight because they don’t have enough money to stay thin.

Celebrities aren’t wearing size 00’s because they possess more self discipline or willpower than you. They’re wearing those sizes because they can afford a personal chef, fitness trainers and motivational speakers to come over to their houses to babysit 24-7. These people aren’t better than you. They’re richer than you and it’s likely that they spent more on their bodies than you made last year.

WOOHOO!!! Finally, someone else who realizes that we can't all look like Madonna or Beyonce or what Gwen Stefani used to look like. I'm not fat, I'm not obese, I'm a size 8. In Hollywood and most stores in the mall, this makes me a pig. What?!? Whatever happened to the concept of a 'perfect size 9'? Didn't that used to be in a song?

Whenever DH comments about how great 'insert starlet name here' looks, I've always looked at him and said "You know, I could probably look that good if it were my job, too". He looked at me like I was nuts the first time, so I explained to him that the real job of most actresses and singers is to look good because it sells. Chefs, trainers, home gyms, etc. If I didn't have to work and could spend 5 hours a day working out and the another 3 hours getting botox, massages, and alpha hydroxy peels, I'd look friggin' awesome too!

Around this time of year, people spend a lot of time resolving to lose weight. But what dooms them to failure year after year is that they don’t set enough money aside to accomplish that goal. It’s inevitable that they’ll fail and when they do, it’ll be a tremendous blow to their self esteem. What they haven’t realized is what it would have cost them to succeed.

OK, this is where I think it applies to more than just weight. So many folks pick a goal, something really nice and admirable and life-changing, and then don't realistically determine what it will take to reach that goal. What will it cost financially? How much time will it take? What sacrifices will I have to make to reach this goal? What sacrifices will I have to ask of others?

“The reason I’m overweight isn’t because I lack in moral fortitude. I just chose to financially prioritize my life differently from someone who is a smaller size. To me, a new computer and a swanky townhouse are more important than living a healthy lifestyle. The pleasure I get from junk food and reality TV is more than I’ll ever get from running a mile.”

Harsh words, but I really do think the thoughts behind them apply to almost everyone. There are some goals or ideals that are so important to us we are willing, even eager, to invest whatever time or money is needed to bring them to fruition. There are others, however, that don't resonate. Things we say we're 'gonna' do because we think we should, not because we want to.

With so many goals flying around us this time of year, with family and friends and co-workers all vowing to 'save money, lose weight, and spend more time with each other', I think it's really easy to fall into goal fever. Pick one, doens't matter which one, any one will do. If you do that, pick a goal that doesn't resonate with you, what are the odds you'll succeed? And if you don't succeed with this goal, what are the odds that you'll pick one that's harder in the future, even if it's more worthwhile?

So, there's a point in all this, I promise! The goals may always be the same, but how we chose to get there can always be different. Reminds me of the $20 challenge, where everyone comes up with a different way to reach the same goal. Anyways, if you've picked a goal for yourself, try to pick an action path that resonates and is do-able for you. Saving money? Great. Don't vow to get the newspaper every Sunday and clip coupons if you know deep down you'll never bring them to the store. You're wasting your time and your money. Find a different action path you know you'll follow through with.

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