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I Buy Produce at the Flea Market

April 22nd, 2007 at 04:24 pm

Yup, you read correctly: I like to buy produce at the flea market.

Perhaps some background info would help... I live in an area with a booming Latino population. In our area, a lot of immigrants are small business owners, and the business of choice for many Latinos here is produce distribution. My best guess is they have a network of friends and family who own farms in the Southeast region and they gather and sell it, but I'm not really sure.

At any rate, there is a rather huge flea market in our town that is very centrally located to one of our main Latino communities. It caters to the regular flea market crowd, of course, so there are still rows upon rows of people selling all kinds of stuff. But, in the back quarter of the market, near the parking lot, it's like stepping into a street market from Central America. I love it!

There are hats, crafts, music, and food vendors among other things. In my trip yesterday I counted 4 produce vendors on the one row I visited, although I'm sure there are others in the areas I didn't visit.

So, you're probably asking: WHY bother going to the flea market to buy produce? Isn't it easier to just go to the store?

Sure, it's easier. It's not nearly as fun, though. As an added bonus the flea market produce is significantly cheaper. Most importantly, though, their produce is BETTER than just about anything I've found in any grocery store. Better, cheaper, and more fun? I'm so in!

As an aside, the other nice thing about the flea market produce is the variety. The rest of this entry is about pretty standard fair produce, but had I wanted to I could have could have bought mangoes, papayas, agave cactus leaves, mini-bananas, and a bunch of other things I've never really had before.

I went yesterday because my father was hosting a pot luck at his cigar store, and I wanted to bring pico de gallo, guacamole, and black beans. FYI, I bought the black beans at Publix in a can so they're not covered in the rest of the entry Big Grin

So, here's my haul from the flea market yesterday.



This includes 10 limes, 6 lbs of tomatoes, 5 avocadoes, 5 jalepenos, 2 poblano peppers, 2 onions, and a bunch of cilantro. My total was $18.

To give you an idea of what this would have cost in the grocery store I frequent:

10 limes @ 3 for a buck on sale = $3.33
6 lbs of tomatoes @ $1.99/lb on sale = $11.94
5 avocadoes @ $0.99/ea on sale = $4.95
5 jalepenos @ $1.99/lb on sale = $0.50
2 poblano peppers @ $2.99/lb on sale = $1.50
2 onions @ $0.99/lb on sale = $1.24
1 bunch cilantro @ $0.99/ea on sale = $0.99

That adds up to $24.45 + $0.74 in sales tax. Plus I would have to find all the items on sale, not to mention that the prices above are the best ones from two separate grocery stores, not just one.

And the best part? The flea market has produce in whatever stage of ripeness you want. Since this was all going to be eaten the day of purchase, I was able to get 6 lbs of perfectly ripe (and YUMMY) tomatoes, 5 avocadoes that slid out of their skin, and cilantro that looked like it might have been picked that morning.

The funniest part? There was less dirt in the cilantro from the flea market than in the stuff I buy from a regular store!!

Think Someone Tried to Break In

April 12th, 2007 at 02:32 am

Bluh.

We got home tonight at about 6:30 and immediately noticed that the cover was gone from DH's motorcycle. Uh-oh... The bike has an alarm on it with a bump and tilt sensor, so we're having a bear of a time figuring out how they got the cover off without setting off the alarm, but such is life.

Walked in the house and all was well until DH went to the back door. While the lock was still turned properly in the knob, the door itself was no longer latched. Luckily we have a chain at the base of the back door.

At this point he promptly rushed me out of the house, got his 45 out of the truck and checked out the house inside and out. Everything's in place that we can tell, the only thing missing is the $65 weather cover which we will now have to replace.

First thing we thought: why couldn't they take the motorcycle, we'd get 50% more than we paid for it?!?? At least we have a sense of humor, right?

So, battened down the house and headed out to price a new back door. The one we have wasn't damaged but is old and needed to be replaced before next winter for energy effeciency purposes, so the option was to install a deadbolt in the existing door or go ahead and replace the door.

Also bought a 3 pack of battery operated door/window sensors. The only real possible entry points for our house are a window in the back about 4 feet off the ground and that back door. All the other windows are too high off the ground except for 3 in the very front of the house, and those came with decorative/protective wrought iron gratings. Plus they're in the front, like I said, so two of my three retired neighbors can see them...

The good news, everybody, is that this is where money karma rears its wonderful head again. See, I sat down and did the final draft of my taxes, and will owe about $400 less than I had budgeted. Good news, since the cost of a new door, deadbolt, 3 pack of sensors, lockbox for our keys, and possibly a small safe will be, oh, right about $400! Gotta love money karma!

Update on "Things I'm Not Gonna Buy"

April 10th, 2007 at 06:40 pm

At the beginning of the year I posted a list of things I didn't need to buy any more, at least until I used up what I currently have on hand.

Lotion.
So far so good: I haven't bought any. Woohoo!!! I might have to buysome new sunscreen in case what I have expired, but that's it so far.

Lip Balm
Ditto the lip balm! I actually used up a tube to the very end without losing it. Believe me, it's a feat...

Ink Pens
Not a single new pen all year! I have bought mini-sharpies for DH to use at work, but that's it.

Note Pads
None here either! But, I did buy a Day Timer kinda thing that I can keep notebooks in, along with a calendar and contact list. This way, I can carry around the notebooks I have all to meetings etc without looking utterly disheveled.

Shoes
Bought a pair of brown boots and black heels in February, but have set aside 4 pairs of shoes for Goodwill to make up for the 2 pair I brought into the house. Not too bad, seeing as I had 'allowed' myself hiking boots, dress boots, and a pair of heels in the original post...

Nail Polish and Care
Nope, none! Still need to throw out the stuff I have, though, since all it does is take up space.

Makeup
Bought a new mascara. Still not satisfied, but for a buck at Dollar Tree it's still not a bad deal: easier to put on than the $5 a tube Mabelline stuff, and looks better too. Just doesn't stay on my lashes real well: makes me look slightly racoonish after 8 hours. Bah!

I Didn't Fall Into a Black Hole!!!

April 10th, 2007 at 12:22 pm

I promise!!!

Really, I have been in the blogs and forums just about every day, but I didn't realize just how long it's been since I've posted anything of my own. Sheesh, what was I thinking?

On the financial front, things are pretty much on auto-pilot. This is a beautiful thing in my world, as it means the only things I actually have to keep up with are 1) the monthly check to my inlaws and 2) grocery money. Everything else is set to pay itself.

I've held onto my tax money as long as possible, so now it's time for me to finish the paperwork, write the man a check, and watch my bank balance deplete horrifically. At least it will be done and off the list...

Easter was interesting (in a good way) and a bit stressful (actually, also good). Anyone remember the Thanksgiving fiasco? Well, Easter turned into pretty much a replay of that. No body else wanted to have it at their house, so mine got nominated. Seeing as we had cleaned out and canceled a storage building between TG and now, the living room and dining room were a freak show of junk. In order to clean it up, we needed to finish out the attic space we have upstairs. Technically it was finished out 30-40 years ago, but it was in bad shape with insulation peeking out and what not, so it needed a redo.

So, Friday my office closed early and DH and I started demo and got 2/3 of the plywood up on the walls and ceiling. Not bad for 5 hours of work! Saturday we went to his parents house to pick up a carpet remnant, and he finished the other 2 walls and layed down the carpet whilst I went about making the den and kitchen publicly presentable.

Once the attic was finished, we began the great junk migration of 2007. GAHHH!!!!

In other news, Easter dinner consisted of a free Honey Baked Ham. DAd had a gift cert for a 7 lb ham and they were out. Instead of downgrading us, the cashier pulled out an 11 lb ham, marked it as 7 lbs with a green sticker, and sent us on our way. That was a $70 ham!!!

Maybe that's why everyone wants to have holiday meals at my house: I always wind up getting the entree for free Big Grin

Other than that, I've been dealing with contractor's drama with regards to the website I was asked to work on. Not the site itself, that's turning out fine. But, the customer's webhost was being miserable, and we had to jump ship. Since I couldn't find a place for her site that had all the features I needed and the pricing she wanted, I did the logical thing: created my own web hosting site. GAH!!!!

Actually, I can't really complain. So far I'm enjoying the experience of getting everything set-up, and it's something good for me to learn. While I only have the one client now, I have a handful of folks locally who are looking for a new home online that I might be able to grab. Combine that with what I would pay for hosting my sites at another company, and it starts to make sense.

So, anybody looking for a place to host a website? Big Grin

April's Fools and the Power of CSS

April 1st, 2007 at 04:44 pm

So, how's everyone liking the new blog design? HAAAAAAAAAAhahahahahhahaaa!!!! Good to know Jeffrey and Nate still have a sense of humor...

At any rate, you've now been introduced to the power of Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS. All CSS does is tell browers how to display information (ie colors and placement), but it doesn't change the information itself. All your blog data is there safe and sound, waiting for Jeff and Nate to change the style sheet back. Ya'll are going to change it back, right!?!??

Housing: Why I Bought

March 22nd, 2007 at 02:08 pm

I've been seeing a lot of talk lately about objectively reviewing whether renting or buying is best for your financial situation. While pretty confident in my choice to purchase, I wanted to run the numbers just in case.

------
BEFORE
------
Rental
900 sf
$650 per month for rent
$ 75 per month for storage building
$200 per month average gas & electric
------
$925 per month

------
AFTER
------
Owned Home
1800 sf
$493 per month for mortgage
$--- per month PMI (not required for our loan)
$ 55 per month for homeowner's
$ 55 per month for property taxes
$100 per month average electric
------
$703


OK, so right off the top I'm saving $222 per month. Interestingly enough, that is exactly equal to the 6% of my gross salary I set aside for retirement, but I digress...

------
MONEY INVESTED IN THE HOUSE
------
$4246 5% down, half of closing costs
$2600 tree removal (bought knowing this was needed)
$ 350 dishwasher and drain pipe replacement
$ 500 various vixture & outlet replacements
------
$ 7696
$59600 owed on mortgage
------
$67296

------
CURRENT TAX ACCESSOR'S VALUE
------
$72000

------
CURRENT ZILLOW VALUE
------
$91000


So at this point I have 67k invested in a house that I could turn around and sell for 75-80k after 9 months of ownership, plus I'm saving $222 per month in 'operating costs'.

As a side note, the tax accessor's value was 56k and the appraised value was 75k when we bought last July. The house was assessed at 56k in '01 and jumped to 72k in '06, a 28% increase in 5 years.

We intend to refinance this fall with my credit union, getting a better interest rate and pulling approximately 10k in equity out of the house. At that point we will upgrage the heat and air system, put a new roof on the den (an addition from the 60s), and possibly update the kitchen and bathrooms. If we hold it another 5 years, we should be able to about double our money...

OK, I feel better now! Big Grin

When it Rains, It Pours (and a Lingerie Store)

March 17th, 2007 at 02:00 pm

Literally and figuratively.

It rained pretty much all of yesterday, and went from 78 earlier this week to 32 last night. ACK! But we needed the rain, and now the world look sbright and freshly scrubbed.

On the figurative side, my last post was about trying to generate income outside of my job. I know it was long, sorry 'bout that!

Anywho, I got an email from my former boss yesterday, the one that left the company in January. He asked me to help build a website for a friend of his who is selling her real life stores and moving to the internet so she can spend more time with her kids. Cool. Since she already has a client base there's a lot of opportunity here to design business cards, postcards, T shirts, etc. for the new site.

The business? They're (ahem) lingerie stores, more Freddie's than Vickie's if you know what I mean. Personally I don't have a problem with it, but it does take some explaining when I'm browsing around trying to find a comparable layout I like online! Not to mention I've been having a bear of a time finding a good font and color scheme: everything clashes no matter what I pick.

Oh well, when the going gets tough the tough apparently have to browse online lingerie shops for inspiration. Boy is my life weird!

Catch Up

March 15th, 2007 at 08:34 pm

Good grief, where is March going?!? Well, let's start at the beginning and play a little Catch Up, shall we?

The Week of Birthday
Long story short, I ate so much my pants started to fit properly again! Things are settling back down to normal and the pants are reverting back to 'too baggy' like they were before, but it was nice while it lasted. The highlight of all my meals was an appetizer called Hell-Fire Shrimp served with cilantro sour cream. YUM! Birthday gifts included meals from friends and my father, a pot of daffodils from my mother, car seat covers from DH (which I asked for, don't down the gift!), and $45 in cash. Woohoo, best haul in years! Big Grin Rumor has it I'll be getting a gift card from my SIL and her boyfriend, which is a very unexpected suprise. Since the things I actually want are a bit on the pricey side (a $900 camera, $85 tripod, and $100 wide-angle lens), DH suggested they get me a gift card, and I think me told them to make it for office supplies. Alas, that is my guilty, shameful pleasure: the clearance aisle at Office Depot! Who knows what goodies await me!

Money Happenings and $20 Challenge
Today is payday in Tina-land, which is always fun. I get paid 2x per month as opposed to DH's every other week, which means he gets the ubiquitous 'unbudgeted extra paycheck' twice a year. This month will be the first one, and it's going straight to the Slush Fund (aka a mini-EF in the world of others). He and I have re-discussed how much we want to have readily available for actual need-cash-now emergencies, and we've decided we're comfortable with a couple of hundred. It's enough to get us out of town, pay for a car repair, pay for new tires, or pay our medical co-pays if we both had to go to the emergency room and get prescriptions. After this month's extra pay-check, the Slush Fund should be sitting pretty.

In related news, I also have the money set aside for us to pay Uncle Sam his due in April. Bah! I'm holding onto that money until the very last minute to earn as much interest as possible, dag nabbit!

Since it's the middle of the month, I also took in my personal money for the $20 challenege. This time I took in paper only, since I'm all but out of coin wrappers. No worries, though: my bank gives out wrappers for free so I left with an envelope full! YAY! The nice teller even gave me the paper strips you wrap around bundles of bills. Guess that's what happens when you deposit 92 bucks in ones!

Here's the breakdown of this month's action:

$92 in ones
$10 in leftover allowance money
$45 in gift money
$30 in incense sales
----------------------------
$177 total in 28 days. Not too shabby!

My Challenege (challenged?) account currently stands at 453.59 - 145.97 in purchases = $337.20. Remember, I'm trying to use my money to make money, so the Challenge(d) Account is what I use to purchase materials or items I use for freelance stuff. Purchases so far are a backpack photographer's bag, a hard case for my memory sticks, my web hosting, and incense supplies. As mentioned above my wish list is a bit pricey right now, but I might go ahead and get the wide-angle lens and tripod as these two items will make it easier for me to get involved in real estate photography. My other option is to sell my current camera, 2 memory sticks, macro lens, telephoto lens, and filters for about $500 and combine that with my saved money to get the camera I want. Sadly, that would leave me without a decent tripod, telephoto lens, macro lens, or wide-angle lens, or even compatible memory, which means I would be back at square one. Cannon DSLR, I love you but you're going to have to wait a while... *sniff*

Apparently a 9mm is 'My Gun'
What a title...

Last Saturday DH and I went to his parents' house to pick up his skeet thrower as he will be skeet shooting with friends of ours tomorrow or this weekend. He wanted me to go skeet shooting with them, which might be fun except for the fact that I've never shot a shotgun, much less at a moving 4" diameter target. Talk about setting yourself up for failure! Anywho, his parents live in a rural area on several acres and they have a 100 yard shooting range on their property. Price, BA, I thought of you as I typed that sentence! He had me shoot the shotgun to see if I would be comfortable enough to shoot skeet, and *begin sarcasm* suprisingly enough I wasn't *end sarcasm*. Yeah, seriously: who's going to be comfortable shoot a shotgun the first time? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone want to try a moving target their first time? Duh....

While we were there he wanted me to shoot his 9 and his 45 so I'll at least know what I'm doing if push came to shove. Believe me, this is a whole 'nuther conversation in and of itself so I'll just drop that subject and proceed to the results. Apparently I'm quite good with a gun, but as someone who'd only shot a handgun once before I don't know if that's true or not. The first shot with the 45 was pure luck and hit dead center in the target at about 10 yards. HA! The rest with the 45 were nothing to write home about: it's too big for my hand and as a double-action trigger is just hard for me to shoot. The 9, however, was a different story. Out of 20 shots at 10 yards, all were within the 8 ring and about a quarter were within the 9 ring. I'm told this is good, but if you know please chime in!

Other Things Eating Up My Time: Generating Income
I've been focusing on my goal for the year of coming up with ways to make money on the side, in the event my job situation goes south. That's the lovely part about working at a small tech company, you see: it's like playing Russian Roulette with your paycheck.

Well, most know that I'm slowing working on getting the photography bit up and running. So far I've receive no responses from the emails I've sent, but our weather is starting to perk up and I think that will offer more opportunities for pictures. I'm debating about making some prints to see if those would sell or not, but I'm still on the fence.

I've made and dried 600 sticks of Dragon's Blood incense and sold half of them in bulk packs already. I also tested the 12 other sample fragrances I got in the mail: only one will work well for incense, so I'm going to try to think of something easy/cheap/sellable to do with the rest. Unfortunately, that's the way incense works: just because an oil smells good in the bottle doesn't mean it'll smell good burning, and the only way to test is to buy an ounce and go for it. If it doesn't work out, you're left with an ounce of stuff and nothing to do with it. Or, in my case, about 20 ounces between this batch and the last batch of testing... Something else I'm on the fence about: selling incense on Etsy.com... There are only so many places in South Carolina to sell the stuff!

I was invited to become a Cha Cha guide (thanks Autumn!!!), which might wind up bringing in some money down the road. I've gone through some of the training, but need to finish it before I actually begin earning money. We'll see how it goes!

Another avenue I'm persuing is 'crowdsourced software' development with Cambrian House. Basically, it's kinda like Saving Advice for computer geeks Big Grin If you have an idea for some neat kind of software, you post it there and people vote on it. If you get enough votes, you're entered into a monthly challenge (IdeaWarz). If you win the challenge, you win $10,000 and a tee-shirt EEK! WOW, a tee shirt! Seriously, you get to keep a grand of the money, and the other 9k is used as 'seed money': you pay the other members of the site to help you build your project. When the project is built, Cambrian House markets it and you and the other developers earn royalty money (and of course the website makes money off of it, too). Better built projects sell better, earning everyone more royalty money... It's a long shot, but I submitted an idea anyways because I think it would be a useful, useable service, not to mention I want to win 10 grand! I've since been invited to work on someone else's project doing high level strategy and product development. For the uninitiated, that's tech speak for I get to tell them what I would want the software to do if I were a user, then they build it that way! Too Cool!

Yes, my name is Sucha Dork...

Add to this some ongoing research for the articles I'm writing, and TADA: that's what's been eating my time. Hopefully some or all of these ventures will pan out and result in some additional income, maybe even some passive income in the form of royalties. Hans Gruber said it best "by the time they figure out what went wrong, we'll be sitting on a beach earning 20 percent". Wait, maybe that first part isn't good when talking about developing software. Unless your last name is Gates Wink

Coolest Thing I've Found In AGES!!!

March 13th, 2007 at 03:50 pm

When you get a chance, please check out the article I wrote on The Robinhood Fund over at Jeffrey's PFAdvice site. It may or may not make it to the forums, so as always I'm giving a heads up here.

This site is without a doubt one of the most interesting, unique, and even inspiring concepts I've seen on the web in the 15 years I've been online.

Read the article, visit the site, and keep the address in the back of your mind the next time you or someone you know runs into a difficult time.

Spices and Coupon Ethics

March 11th, 2007 at 10:55 pm

First on spices: most know that I rant and rave (ok, not exactly) about buying spices in bulk versus getting them at the dollar store, etc. I promise you, they definitely taste better. Moreover, chances are you will STILL get a better financial deal, and today I have proof!

I usually buy Italian blend herbs in bulk from my favorite natural goods store. They no longer carry it, so I was looking at having to buy it online Frown Before I did that and had to pay shipping, I decided to try Whole Foods.

Long story short: they will not replace my normal natural store (yay, local business!), but they do have the Italian seasoning I want. Specifically, I bought a pre-packed quarter pound of herbs for $2.29 before tax, which works out to be about 57 cents per ounce. Check the bottles you buy from the dollar store: I'm willing to bet a quarter that they're a buck for about half an ounce, aka 4 times the price!

The picture below is to give you an idea of just how much 4 ounces of herb actually is. I'd already refilled my spice jar when I took this picture, too! Assuming I just use this to cook, rather than making gifts with it like I normally do, this will last me more than a year.



And now, coupon ethics. My grocery store has a setup where you scan your own groceries as you shop, then go to self checkout, scan your coupons, pay and leave. Pretty nice! I scanned a coupon today that rang up fine, and I looked at it and it expired yesterday. ACK!!! So, if the self checkout will accept expired coupons, do you think it is OK to use them, or should I just trash them? Opinions, please!

Boy, I'm a Slackard!

March 10th, 2007 at 03:26 am

For those that are curious (since I've been a slackard talking about my challenge) I am still saving my ones and my coins from my allowance. I'm not counting as faithfully as when I was tracking the 'Change and Buck Bucket' at the end of '06, but from my monthly deposits I'm still averaging about $100 per month.

And yes, my $25 birthday money went straight into the can for the challenge Big Grin

In the spirit of the challenge, I'm using this money to pay for my photography enterprise. It's covered expenses for the website like domain name and hosting, and I'll use it to buy business cards in the next week or two. I have also bought a new camera bag and case for my digital memory sticks with my challenge money, for a total so far of about $100 spent. Next on my list is a wide angle lens, tripod, and lens cleaning kit. Actually, I have enough stashed to get these and still have some left over even without next week's deposit, which is kinda nice.

I guess the most impressive, at least to me, is that I've actually been spending my allowance somewhat willy-nilly and have still been able to save about 25% of it. Last month I bought a new pair of heels and a new pair of boots to the tune of $50 (12.5% of my total allowance) and saved about 30%. This month I bought myself a car charger and case for my cellphone as a birthday splurge from my allowance and am still on track to have money left over when the mid-month replinishment comes next week. What this boils down to is, while I am still buying lunch and breakfast out sometimes, I'm apparently spending significantly less on the daily 'grind' because I am able to treat myself to some nice splurges and save the same amount or more as I was before. Cool!

Seriously, I need to get better about keeping the blog posted with this. Again with the 'anonymous' accountability, although now that I'm publishing articles I guess it's not so anonymous as before. Doh!

New Article Series: Friday Freebies

March 9th, 2007 at 03:44 pm

Sorry to be MIA, but The Week of Birthday is almost over and things will settle down!

Just wanted to let ya'll know I'll be doing an ongoing series of articles on nifty free things in the online world called Friday Freebies. Jeffrey is posting them on PFAdvice.com, but I don't if they'll make their way over to the forums so I wanted to give a heads up here. Check it out, there might be some neat stuff you never knew existed Big Grin

The Week of Birthday

March 5th, 2007 at 03:26 pm

It has officially begun!!!

Despite the title, I promise, I'm not an ego maniac. See, my birthday and my sister's birthday are 4 days apart. Technically, 2 years 4 days, but we're talking a standard calendar here. So ever since we were little, this has been the week of birthday in my household. Lot's of family time, silliness, and FOOD!!!

This year, The Week of Birthday is just perfectly timed. Mine is today, my sister's is Friday, and we each get a weekend wrapper. Woo Hoo!!!

A family friend from Manchester, England was in town last week for business. Saturday he took me and my mom out to lunch at Red Lobster. John won't let anyone pay for meals, so score my first freebie! I spent the rest of the day at the cigar store with my mom, dad, DH, and a variety of customer's. We watched the eclipse from the parking lot, which was just too neat.

My parents have arranged to take us all eat at the restaurant next door on Wednesday (right between the 2 birthday's, see how the timing works?). Around 6:30 my mom and I started looking over the menu to decide what we'd order on Wednesday. Turns out our lunch had worn out and the menu was just taunting us, so we ordered 7 appetizers for me, DH, the parents, and the customer in the store (also a family friend). YUM tasty, and at a discount to boot (it pays to be friends with the chef and order through the back door). Score another free meal!

Yesterday, my sister called and offered to take me and DH out to the German buffet in return for using the truck to carry a load to their house from Home Depot. More free food!!!

Today I'm on a vacation day. Who wants to work on their birthday? Today's plans are up in the air, but I'm pretty sure it will involve lunch with my mom. DH asked what I wanted for my birthday, and me and my practical self asked for car-seat covers. Once a frugie, always a frugie!

George Clooney's In Town

March 5th, 2007 at 01:39 pm

Yup. George and Rene Zeilweger (sp?) are in town filimg a movie, have been for the past month or two. DH saw Rene downtown at Starbucks and called me. Know what I said? "Why were you at Starbucks?" Big Grin

Part of downtown was blocked off yesterday so they could film there. Don't ask me what a historic Westin hotel has to do with a football movie, but there they were. Which means they were about 1 mile from my house.

Wonder if I'll get 'discovered'? Odds are probably better than the lottery! Maybe they'll want to do a Laura Croft 3 and Angelina will be too expensive, so they'll accept a shorter slightly pudgier alternative Wink

Guess What I Ate..

March 3rd, 2007 at 04:00 am

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?

Article Updates and Ideas

March 1st, 2007 at 07:10 pm

First I wanted to thank everyone who so kindly responded to my first request for help regarding the articles on computers, technology, and saving money. You all ROCK!!

Secondly, I wanted to go ahead and post a link to where the articles are being stored on PF Advice. I know Jeffrey is posting some in the forums, but there are different comments on the original articles than are on the forums, and I thought that some of you might find those useful as well.

Thirdly, I'm thinking about doing regular articles on neat places or tools online. What do you all think, would that be something to consider? If so, do you have a neat place or tool from the web that you'd like to see included?


February Sales Book Review

February 28th, 2007 at 08:32 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 03:30 pm

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 28th, 2007 at 04:59 am

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...


It's Alive!!!

February 27th, 2007 at 05:30 am

OK, all, my website version 0.1 is up and live. ACK!!! Everything looks OK so far in IE7 and Firefox, I'll just have to double-check IE6 tomorrow. Since I don't know anyone running locally running IE5, I can't test it.

So, here it is folks:

http://www.focusontheupstate.com/



The everything is up and running (sort of). For those that are curious, this is running on PHP and CSS (two technologies I haven't gotten to work with much before, so I took it as a learning opportunity). It looks all nice and simple, which is what I want, but believe me there's a hairy mess of code underneath there. Bluh!

Issues that I know about thus far:

* the 'comment' and 'request for quote' forms both have a verification code system to prevent spam (yay!). sometimes it doesn't show up the first time the page loads, which i think i might have just fixed but i don't know for sure. lemme know what happens!

* internet explorer can bite my big toe! everything looks proper in Firefox, which is a compliant browser. unfortunately, i've been spending countless hours trying to make things legible in IE, which apparently doesn't like proper code. what does all this mean? i fully expect someone somewhere to be running a version of IE that chokes on my page. lemme know what happens!

Things I intend to work on but just can't muster the will to do so right now:

* more photos (although this will be the nicest part of the job!)

* a better naming system for the photos

* ability to comment on a specific photo or gallery

* a 'credits' page for all the Open Source that's running in the background. although i've hacked it up ALOT, neither the mail engine nor the gallery were my original work

* more specifics on business offerings

* possibly a 2 layer drop down menu for the nav bar, but the bones are already there for that. i just don't have one now b/c there's not enough content to warrant it.

So, there it is for all the world to see. I'm going to go sleep now!!!


Nifty OT Blurbies

February 25th, 2007 at 11:00 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 09:05 pm

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

Weather
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.

Website
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 16th, 2007 at 03:23 am

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!


The Joy of a Sales Book

February 14th, 2007 at 05:03 pm

OK, well, it's not quite a book, is a spreadsheet. DH caught me entering stuff into this weekend and almost freaked out, he thinks I'm an uber-dork. Yes, I freely admit I'm an uber-dork, but I think the turn of events will prove this to be a good thing, not a weird thing.

In my spreadsheet, I keep track of

1. where I shopped
2. item bought
3. quantity bought
4. date
5. general category (Household, Food, Medical)
6. on sale (Y/N)
7. whether the purchase was impulse, planned (due to weekly sale), regular (would've bought regardless of sale like milk), or tax (yup, keep track of sales tax too Big Grin)

Since I've migrated to Open Office, I get to take advantage of the easy 'Sub Totals' function their spreadsheet offers. For instance, I know that so far about 30% of my purchases are marked as impulse. YIKES! But, 80% of those were unadvertised sales I found going through the store. Suddenly, that doesn't seem so bad now does it?

Anyways, the fact that I keep track of what was bought on sale gives me a big advantage. And not just sales-paper sales, it's the unadvertised sales that can really add up. Like name brand soy sauce, half off. If I were a couponer, I'd know to start looking for coupons for Kikoman!

Plus, some things go on sale in cycles. Since I keep track of what I bought, the date, and if it was a sale, it's easier to spot trends. This is especially true for meat, at least at my store. I told DH last week that the sirloin sale had to be coming up, and sure enough it hit this week. WOO and HOO!!!

Actually, a lot of sales hit this week for items I purchase regularly, so it is stock up time!

whole chicken 49c/lb reg 99c/lb
sirloin steak 2.99/lb reg 6.99/lb
edy's icecream 1.99 reg 4.99
pepsi can 12 packs BOGO 4.99
alexia organic fries 2/4 reg 2.69 ea
2lb bag froz veg 1.99 ea reg 2.39 ea
smithfield bagon BOGO 4.99

Guess it's time to get the new-to-me freezer ready and loaded!


Dear Freebie Thank You-er

February 14th, 2007 at 02:48 pm

You shall remain nameless so I don't get flamed. But you know who you are!

I know you mean well, and I can appreciate that. You're right, it is polite to say thank you when someone does something nice and/or useful for you.

With that said, do you have to post a 'thank you' message for absolutely every freebie that's been posted? It would seem reasonable one is only obligated to say 'thanks' for the freebies one is actually going to use. Are you using all 126?

And if you want to say thanks to each and every one, so be it. In that case, please check the forums more frequently, so that you are posting a few thanks every day. As it is now, you come on once every week or two and post a thanks to umpteen freebies that have been posted since you were last here.

For those of us who use the 'show new messages' functionality of SavingAdvice.com, this is maddening! I jump on and see there are 100-200 new posts. ACK! I skim through page after page of threads that are 'new' so I can find the handful that don't show your name is the most recent poster. It makes it difficult to keep up with actual active threads, as opposed to simple 'thank you' replies.

So please, Freebie Thank You-er, please consider only thanking for the freebies you're using. Or at least send your thank you-s a few times per week, rather than saving them all up for one giant thank you bomb.


Boring Stuff

February 12th, 2007 at 01:12 pm

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.

My Allowance is Frugally Fabulous

February 11th, 2007 at 04:35 am

Yes, it is!

A new member joined the blog ranks today, and mentioned that she's feeling constrained by her spending plan. Little L, I have felt your pain! The more I thought about this the more I realized that my allowance has given me the best of both worlds.

I have a fairly rigorous spending plan for our household. Right now it's just me and DH (unless you count the cars, which I sometimes do!), but DH is a spendy type which can sometimes put a crimp in my frugal style. Line items on my plan include (among others) housing, car payment, all debts, all utilities, house and car insurances, house and car property taxes, house and car maintenance, gifts, holidays, medical costs, retirement savings, etc.

And then the 2 slightly different line items. "DH allowance" and "TinapBeana's allowance".

Our allowances are exactly that: pocket money that we can do whatever we want with. I don't keep up with his, he doesn't keep up with mine. We don't have to keep track of what we do with it, if we don't want to. I list my grocery and household purchases item by item in a spreadsheet, but I don't have to do that with my allowance.

Having this little bit of money to splurge if I want makes things so much easier. Same for DH. He saw a golf bag he wanted, but the house hadn't budgeted for it. It was on sale, a good price but only available for a limited time. He put it on lay away with the sporting goods store and is paying for it out of his allowance. It's not a need, but it is something that will bring him some amount of happiness (and exercise!). All without trying to figure out what to 'shift' in the household budget.

So, readers, if you're starting to feel constrained (or possibly suffocated!) by your spending plan, I suggest you consider giving yourself an allowance. Doesn't matter what the amount is, big or small, just a little something that you're comfortable with. When you want doughnuts or a special coffee or a night out on the town, use your allowance for it's intended purpose: to keep you sane and on task.

Software Review: Money Manager EX

February 9th, 2007 at 03:46 pm

* * * * * * * * EDIT * * * * * * * *
If you can't see the images in this
post, try clicking 'Refresh' on your
browser...

Also, the full screen pictures are a
little hard to see because they've
been shrunk down. Try clicking on one
and it'll open the bigger version.
* * * * * * * * EDIT * * * * * * * *

This is a partial review of the Open Source program Money Manager EX I use for financial management. Specifically, it focuses on the 'investment account' capability, since this has recently come up on the forums.

This is the opening 'Home Screen' for MMEX. As you can see, it shows an overview of current account balances and income/expenses for the month. To start tracking investments, you first have to create an 'investment account'.



These are the simple screens you use to set up an account.









Once you finish, you're taken back to the 'Home Screen'. Notice that the new investment account 'ML: Roth IRA' shows under 'Stocks' on the left-hand nav bar.

When you click on an account, you are taken to the account page. For checking/savings, this is where you view and enter transactions. For an investment account, it's where you view and edit holdings.



When you click 'New' you get a pop-up box to enter holding information.



And this is what your holding/s will look like in the account screen.



If you click 'Stocks' on the left-hand nav bar, you'll see an overview of all your investment account holdings.



And the 'Home Screen' will reflect the value of your stock holdings.

Silly Problem to Have

February 8th, 2007 at 10:01 pm

Preamble:
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 8th, 2007 at 04:02 am

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


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