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Luv Me Some Flea Market Veggies

June 2nd, 2007 at 06:20 pm

Went to the flea market for produce around 1pm. Was back at the house and unloaded before 2pm.

Spent $19.80.

Got the following:

3 purple onions
3 green bell peppers
5 avocados
4 jalapenos
6 ears of corn
2 regular pears
3 weirdo pears (I like trying new foods for cheap!)
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch of spinach
15 limes
4 (5?) lbs of roma tomatoes

As a result I can now make the following throughout the week just using items I have on hand:
* pico de gallo
* guacamole
* roasted corn
* regular (cold) spinach salad
* wilted spinach salad with bacon dressing (sale bacon in the freezer)
* tacos or nachos (sale ground beef in the freezer)
* glazed baby carrots (carrots on hand)
* Beef or pork stir fry (sale steak and pork roast in the freezer)
* Beef or pork shish kabobs
* Ceviche (sale tilapia in the freezer)
* Grilled tilapia with lime-dill butter
* Pork chops with poached or grilled pears

And if I go to the store and get chicken thighs, cheese, rolls, and tortillas I can make:
* bacon tomato sandwiches
* grilled Southwest chicken
* chicken salad
* quesadillas
* California wrap sandwiches (bacon, avocado, chicken, spinach, ranch dressing)
* Mexican soup (chicken broth, chunked chicken, rice, pico de gallo, and slices of avocado)
* Jamaican jerk chicken with black beans, rice, and corn bread (have all but the chicken)
* Tequila-lime chicken (um, yeah, there's tequila in the freezer too)

Not quite a menu, but it's close!

Great, now I'm hungry....

Reveal: My slightly super-secret side business

May 25th, 2007 at 08:21 pm

Ooooooooh, are you excited yet?!??

If anyone read my articles last month on PFAdvice.com about starting a business with pocket change, then you probably already know what this is. Yeah, I know that means it's not exactly super-secret, ergo the addition of the word 'slightly' to the title.

But, for those of you that didn't read that article, here's what part of it said.

(I)t turns out there are several metric tons worth of photographers and web-designers in my area, and they’re all as good as me if not better. Depressing, right? Well, the one thing they have in common (other than being better than me) is that they all need a place online to host their work. In fact, lots of individuals and businesses around here need a nice, clean, reliable place to host their websites. Even I was looking for this very kind of service.

In many circles, this is known as a light bulb moment. You’ll know it when you have one.

And there you have it! I am now operating a web hosting company called
Text is DotSlice and Link is http://www.dotslice.com
DotSlice and am currently running at a profit for the quarter. I've just put the site out to the public, so please feel free to take a look and tell me what you think. My options were to either get it out there warts and all, or work on it trying to get it perfect for perpetuity.

How on earth did I wind up being a web host? Personally, I think it all boils down to money karma.

In January I decided to think of several ways I could make extra money every month. For what it's worth I'm still working on that by the way, so any good ideas are appreciated! At any rate, this is what started the money karma rolling.

In February I started working on a website to showcase some of my photographs, thinking that I could make some money on the side. I bought a domain and signed up with what seemed like a reasonable and well-established web hosting company. While the site is still up and running, I created it as a personal learning experience more than anything because it had been a while since I'd done any web programming.

It's a good thing I did, too, because in the middle March my former boss offered me a side-job creating an ecommerce site for a friend of his who already had a domina and a very unfortunate site. See the money karma at work? Ironically, the client was hosting her website at the same company where I was hosting mine.

By the end of March I had put together a proposal and both he and the client liked what I had to offer. For the new site to work, the client needed to change the plan she had with the web host. This was fine with her since she would wind up paying less money per month for more features, but the web-host was making it way more difficult than it had to be.

Long story short we agreed to jump ship and host her site somewhere else, and I started getting concerned because my site was hosted at this same place. Would I have these kinds of troubles too? More importantly, where were we going to host these sites?!?

I did something relatively rash and impetuous: I did some research, ran the numbers once, and decided to take the risk and arrange to host the sites myself. By the way, running the numbers once was the rash and impetuous part... I had the back-end working by the middle of April, and both of our sites were live.

A week later, a co-worker of mine mentioned how much he paid to host his personal sites. I just looked at him and said "Do I have a deal for you...". Between his hosting and the first client's hosting I'm running at a slight loss every month. But, when I add in what I would have to pay to host my own domains with another company, I wind up breaking even. Add in the money for designing the first client's website and business cards, and I'm running at a profit for the quarter.

Now, I've been asked to host two sites that are currently being developed by a new company. They've also asked if I'd be interested in being the Web Master (er, mistress?) and Managing Editor for both sites in return for a cut of the pie... Um, lemme think...

Let's just see if I can get everything to snowball...

Passive Income, Perfectionism Pitfall

May 24th, 2007 at 12:15 pm

First, Some Background
I'm in an odd place right now: I've got so many things rolling around in my head that I've not been able to focus on any one particular thing and feel I can do it justice. As a result, I've not been blogging as much and I've not written a single PFAdvice article in May. D'OH!

Moreover, I've been working on my slightly super-secret side business (like the alliteration?) and keep trying to get it just right before releasing it to the world. Long story short, I'm hitting a wall.

To combat this I've been doing a lot of reading online, looking for inspiration. The way I browse the web is at best bizzare and on occasion schizoid. This week I was looking for sites that I could include as part of a newsfeed on my website and I took a new-to-me track: I went to Technocrati, ranked the blogs by 'authority', and checked out the top 100.

I actually didn't find many of them interesting, which is in and of itself kind intriguing. There would be an interesting article here or there, but most of my good reading came from following links and Trackbacks within these supposedly good blogs. As an aside, this is how I found

Text is icanhascheezburger.com and Link is
icanhascheezburger.com and
Text is The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Link is http://www.venganza.org
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Great time wasters!

The Meat of This Post
While wandering around unchaperoned on the web, I came across a good article at
Text is Genius Types and Link is http://geniustypes.com/passive_income_strategies/
Genius Types about passive income. Not that the concept of passive income is new to me, but I thought the article did a good job of pointing out that to be successful at it requires a slightly different view of money and making it work for you. Plus, it made me remember that I really want a passive income, the sooner the better.

Then yesterday I meandered my way over to
Text is Success from the Nest and Link is http://successfromthenest.com/content/the-mistake-of-waiting-for-your-start-up-to-be-perfect/
Success from the Nest and read aout how perfectionism can be just another form of procrastination. Some of you might remember that this is something I've said before , but it's one thing to have had a thought and quite another to sit down and read it in black and white.

The two articles struck cord with me, I suppose, because they are exceptionally timely in my life. I fell into this slightly super-secret side business by chance, but it does have the possibility to make a great passive income source if I can get it up and running. Good news, right?

Well, yes and no, because that's where the perfectionism rears its ugly little head. I keep second guessing myself, or trying to plan things to be just right in order to make the most of this opportunity. All I seem to wind up doing, though, is spinning my wheels and not going much of anywhere.

At any rate, the two articles made me think and apparently I think better when I write, so here I am. Guess it worked after all!

Pumpkins Tickets

May 22nd, 2007 at 12:16 pm

Came home from work last night and DH mentioned that the radio station was giving away tickets to a Smashing Pumpkins show in Asheville. Neither one of us have ever seen them, and being GenX wanabes from the 90s the Pumpkins are one of those bands that throws me into the "Way Back Machine".

Since the station was giving them away, DH had figured the show had already sold out. But, we checked online, and turns out tickets hadn't even gone on sale yet. They were up at 7pm last night.

Apparently it's not just 1 show, either: it's 9 shows over the course of 2 weeks at the Orange Peel. This is more a listening room type venue, only holds 900 people. We've been there before to see Edwin McCain and enjoyed it.

The other odd thing: this is the Pumpkins only east coast stop on their tour. 9 shows, 900 tickets per show, so only 8100 available for the entire east coast. Odds started looking not so good.

Anywho, I was diligently registering at TicketMaster.com while DH checked the hotel we like in Asheville. It's cheap but right in the middle of downtown. At the stroke of 7 I pounced and clicked for our 2 tickets (the limit per order was 2) and still had to wait 3 minutes for the ticket availability.

Waited, and waited... Anticipation was killing me... Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand...

We're IN!!! And the best part: the tickets are only $20 each plus handling fee!

DH promptly registered the room we wanted for $68, so the entire trip is going to cost us jst over $100 since gas in his company truck is paid for. We're going to the July 2rd show (Monday night) and coming back the 3rd (Tuesday) and will have the 4th off for Independance Day. A concert, a trip, and a 5 day weekend to boot!! WOO and HOO!!!

As soon as we were done ordering we went downtown for a Thai Chicken pizza we've been craving. At 7:30 we heard the bartender complaining that tickets were already sold out....

Too lucky, I tell you.

And even better is knowing that there's already money in the li'l vacation fund to cover the trip. Just have to move the cash from NY to my checking account to pay the tickets off the credit card, and withdraw cash to pay for the hotel room.

Homeowner's Bill Arrived And I Don't Care

May 21st, 2007 at 12:36 am

*evil grin*

OK, lemme re-phrase that: the homeowner's insurance bill came in and it's so not even a big deal.

Number one: the bill isn't due until 7/7/07 (which is neat, but I digress). I never knew they sent these types of bills out so far in advance!

Number two: I've been putting money aside for it every month so the bill will be ready to send out at the beginning of June, one month ahead of schedule and marked off my to-do list.

Although, I'll probably just send it in at the end of June so I can earn just a li'l more interest on that money Big Grin

Temptation, thy name is Canon!

May 17th, 2007 at 02:59 am

BAH!!!

So I was checking out digital cameras on eBay thanks to DH sending me a link. There I was, minding my own business, when I saw it.

The Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II 16.7 Megapixel SLR. For under six hundred bucks!

OK, let me put this into perspective.

1) 16 Megapixel is professional grade
2) This camera came out in early 2005 with a price tag of TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!
3) Current list price for this camera is still SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

So, why am I blogging about it rather than buying it? Well, it's just the body, no lens, no card. I'd have to shell out another 500 to be able to even take a picture with it. Not really an issue, as it is still a killer deal.

And, while I have about a grand in my personal challenge account, only $560 of it is money I saved from change and one dollar bills. The rest are profits from my side business which I intend to funnel back into the business. And before you even ask: yes, I could SO use this camera to take pictures for said side business and thereby justify the expense!

The biggest hurdle: it's on friggin' EBAY!!!... In 4 short hours, the price has now doubled and the camera is at $1300. I HATE EBAY!!!

*sniff*

Ok, well, I guess I can stop being tempted now that the price has gone up so much. I could certainly still afford the camera, but I'd have to wait a month or two to be able to buy the other bits to be able to actually use the camera. What's the fun in waiting 2 months to be able to use the camera?!?

Shopping Spree at Goodwill

April 27th, 2007 at 02:54 pm

Well, close enough to a spree.

See, it's close to the end of the month and I still had $60 of my allowance left burning a hole in my pocket. Add to that the fact that DH and I are going to Atlanta this weekend, and I had the urge to do a wee bit of shopping.

Not just any old shopping, though. I hit the Goodwill warehouse that's three miles from my house. This is where the stuff from all our regional Goodwills winds up after it doesn't sell for a few weeks.

You walk in and grab rolling bin lined with a huge plastic bag (basically looks like a big blue trash can). The place is filled with row after row of tables piled high with clothes in no particular order. The only way to find anything is to dig, and the piles are easily shoulder deep (or more!).

There's no dressing room, so having a good eye or a tape measure is a must. You put your items in the bin as you wind through the tables and other customers. When you're done, you take your bin to the checkout stand where they roll it onto a scale and charge you for your items by the pound. Here, everything is sold at 99 cents per pound.

I got there last night at 7:30 and was out at 8 when they started to close the checkout lines. Only half an hour to dig! I walked out with a pair of pants from the Limited, a pair of Dockers ladies shorts, and ten shirts from various name-brand designers.

My cost? $4.95!!!!!

Since you can't try anything on there, I headed home to see how I actually did. The pants are great but the shorts are just a tad snug. Out of ten shirts, five are wonderful finds and 3 are just OK. The other 2 might wind up being a loss, who knows.

Even so, with 1 pair of great pants and 5 good to go shirts, I still come out at less than a buck an item.

I LOVE MY GOODWILL!!!

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!!

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:

Text is http://www.focusontheupstate.com/ and Link is
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!!!


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!


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.

Not Frugal, But Worth It!

January 14th, 2007 at 11:31 pm

I ate brunch about 6.5 hours ago, and I'm still not hungry. In my 'eat every 4 hours' world, this is a minor miracle. Actually, not minor.

Any ways, I accomplished this feat by eating brunch/lunch at a German buffet with DH and my mom. For $8.95 plus a drink each, there was kraut and schnitzel and bratwurst as far as the eye could see. Red cabbage with apples, home-made mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy that was good enough to make you smack your mama. No, I didn't smack my mama, but the gravy was good enough she would have understood if I had!

And to top it all off, they had apple pie. Not Mrs. Smith's feux pie (HA!) in a box, I'm talking homemade 3 inch thick pie with a flakey just-right salty crust and candied crumb topping. Holy crap, I almost ate myself sick on pie!

In retrospect, considering the 2 plates of food and piece and a half of pie, perhaps I did get a good deal for $8.95!