Thursday, December 30, 2010

Where has the time gone?!

So it's now December 30th. Christmas is over, we are back in Ohio, and life is refusing to settle down. The last few weeks have been insane. We went home for Christmas, my best friend bought a house, and.....we got engaged!!!

Remember all that nice, quiet, relaxation I was looking forward to? Not so much. :) Even though we've only been engaged a week or so, and our wedding isn't for a year, we have done lots of planning and intend to do much more before Manny leaves. Compounded to that is while he doesn't leave until May, he has to go for 4-6 weeks of training in February. :( Which doesn't leave us with a lot of face time before he leaves for real.

We have already picked out a ceremony site and a reception site. We kind of have colors picked out (more on that later), are shopping for photographers, and the list goes on and on. But it's so much fun! I'll post more wedding details later but for now, it's back to work! :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Money Monday/Weekly Money Check Up

Well this week I'm actually doing really well money-wise. I am well within my budgets considering I get paid Friday (or maybe Thursday!). I completely ignored my budgets when I went home last week for a family emergency (hence the lack of posting) but I got back up to speed today and was thrilled to see that I'm doing great! I do have to say, however, that I am extremely thankful and grateful to my parents for flying me home and thus saving me from blowing my budget/savings to smithereens.

Anyhow, I will proceed now to my Weekly Money Check Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I've spent this last week was on Christmas presents! I finished up some holiday shopping (sort of finished) but that's definitely the most I've spent.

2. Today I feel downright giddy about money. I feel like we're about the turn the holiday corner and I can finally start building my savings back up!

3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did in the last week was eat cheap mall Chinese food with Manny while finishing Christmas shopping. (Does it count even if the shopping itself was expensive?!)

4. I will consider this week a success if I don't lost my mind. I feel like I have a LOT to do before we leave to go home in TWO DAYS!

5. My favorite holiday movie is A Christmas Story!! Red Rider BB Gun anyone?!!!

Truth be told (and I know I'm being redundant) I would not be in the financial position I am not if it weren't for my parents. I would have had to spend a huge chunk of my savings on plane tickets to get home quickly it would have hit me hard financially. So here's to parents and building that Emergency Fund back up ASAP. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Argh.

Life has thrown a curveball or two in the last week. Hence the complete lack of posts. I'll try to resume regular posting as soon as possible. :) Hope everyone is well.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Money Monday


Here we are again. Money Monday. Ugh. I feel ok about money today, I'm just kind of in a funk. More on that later. But my budget looks beautiful...look at all that green!! ;) Mind you, I got paid 3 days ago.


Gas: under! I still have about 75% of this budget left. I increased this budget slightly these two weeks and probably will keep it this way throughout the winter because gas prices have skyrocketed!
Grocery: under! I have about 90% of this budget left and intend on coming out way way under budget here for the next two weeks.
Other: under! I only have about 40% of this budget left but it is very much a catch-all. If I go over here I'm not too worried because I'm sure some of the other categories will make up for it.
Christmas: under! I have 100% of this left because I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet this check. :)


I really hope to come in under budget, my savings account could certainly use a boost. And now, I'm going to go ahead and do my Weekly Money Check Up right now....so without further adieu....

1. The most I've spent this last week was on a case for the Kindle Manny bought me. (The Kindle was my sorry I'm going to leave for 6 months present.) :)

2. Today I feel optimistic towards money.


3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was spend a lovely and lazy Sunday at home with Manny watching Christmas movies and wrapping presents.

4. I will consider this week a success if I hold it together.

5. My favorite holiday treat is do I have to pick one?! :) Anything that has mint and chocolate is fine by me.

Weekly Money Check Up is provided by My Pretty Pennies.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Etiquette Series: Part IV

I have some opinions on etiquette, I know you're shocked. :) And recently, a friend and I were talking about the many social faux pas that people our age (twenty-somethings) tend to make, so I thought it may be a good idea to do a little series on etiquette, especially with the holidays right around the corner. You may disagree with some of what I say, and that's just fine. These are just my personal opinions, and I am well aware that there are exceptions to every rule. :)


New to the Sunday Etiquette Series? Check out Parts I, II, and III here. 


I've been thinking a lot lately about Facebook etiquette. Every day, I see something on Facebook that makes me think "wow, did you really just tell your 1000 closest friends that?". There are a lot of reasons to be aware of Facebook etiquette, but the two that jump out at me are A: preserving your own privacy and B: future employment. With regards to "A," I guess that's just a personal choice. I don't care to share my deepest emotions on Facebook. As far as "B," do you really want your future employer to know you are "omg, like so hammered!". I don't. So here are my little tips on Facebook etiquette, and as always, feel free to disagree. :)


Part IV: Facebook Etiquette


1. Please do not share the deepest darkest depths of your soul on Facebook. I know status updates are a quick and easy way to let people know how and what you're doing....but if you're drowning in a pit of despair, phone a friend, don't update your status.


2. Don't fight on Facebook. It's trashy.


3. Keep the PDA to a minimum. I'm not going to elaborate because I don't want to call anyone out, but it's just kind of...annoying.


4. If you're profile isn't completely and totally flattering (to a potential employer) either clean it up, or make it impossible to find.


5. Don't bad mouth others. It's trashy.


I could probably list 17 other things not to do , but just use good judgement is what it all boils down to. And remember that what you post on Facebook (statuses, pictures, likes, etc) is by no means private. Make sure that you are okay with your 2000 closest friends knowing what you just posted on your status. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More about Winter...

A couple years ago I was living in Maryland and experienced my first "real" winter. It was nice, didn't last all that long, and I got to see some snow. Winter in the midwest is a whole different beast. I haven't seen the warm side of the twenties in over a week. My puppy's paws get frozen and he whimpers every time we take him out to pee. A week or so ago, I wrote about our first "real" snow...and it snowed for like 5 days. Now it's just colder than all get out and, surprise, it's going to snow some more later this week. (Apparently this is "uncharacteristic"...goody for me.) Anyway, here are some more things I've learned about winter.

1. Wear a hat. A warm warmer head goes a long way.

2. Shuffle when walking on ice. I generally walk with a purpose, and if you do that on ice, you'll be on your ass in 3 seconds flat.

3. Winter hats ruin hair and make-up. Keep emergency hair/make-up supplies in your purse. And don't try anything fancy with your hair in the winter, your hat will just smush it.

4. Getting out the door, even just to take the dog out, takes at least 5 minutes of preparation (hat, coat, boots, etc.) I mean, I could just take the dog out and be cold, but I choose not to.

5. I have never loved hot coffee so much.

That's all for now...as promised I will keep you abreast of all the things I learn this winter, lest you ever have to spend a winter in the midwest!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December Goals

Well I've never done a goals post before, but I figured it may be time to start. Or maybe I did do one, and then forgot about it? Well anyway, I know we're several days into December but better late than never right?

1. Play nicely with mint.com. Ok, so I signed up for mint.com, and promptly ignored it. I've heard from a couple people that's it's great but I'm just not there yet. So, this month I'm going to really spend some time "getting to know" mint.com and see if we can have a better relationship. One where I understand what the heck it's saying, and it helps me keep track of my finances.

2. Send out Christmas cards. I need to do this yesterday.

3. Develop workout plan for January. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, along with every other woman in America, one of my goals is to start working out again in January (although I have no intention of dieting). I sincerely hope to make it past the 3 week drop out period, and I feel the best way to combat that is to have a plan!

4. Unpack my last 3 boxes. Yes, I moved in July. Yes, there are still 3 unpacked boxes.

Ok, I think that's enough for now. I'm sure I'll have a whole mess of goals for January but since it's already a week into December, four it is. :)

P.S. It's Librarian Lizy's Birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Money Monday


Ok, so this is pay week so as of Friday I'll have a new budget to stick to! These two weeks have actually gone pretty well spending wise and I really wish I would have known which categories I was over and under in, because I think I would be under a lot! No matter, I will be back on track come Friday. (If you missed last week's Money Monday, check it out to see why I didn't manage to have a budget for the last 2 weeks.)

So, this Money Monday will consist mainly of the Weekly Money Check-Up, compliments of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I've spent this last week was on rent/utilities. Not exactly "fun" spending. :)

2. Today I feel perfectly content towards money. It's pay week and I really shouldn't have to spend a whole lot of money between now and Friday.

3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was bake lots of holiday cookies. It spreads lots of holiday cheer, and doesn't cost all that much.

4. I will consider this week a success if I don't spend any money except on gas until payday.

5. My favorite holiday drink is homemade hot chocolate! Yummy and frugal! :)

Want to participate in the Weekly Money Check-Up? Click here!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The First "Real" Snow

Today marks our first "real snow" here in Ohio. It's our second snow by my standards but today is the first day that it's really accumulating so I guess this is first "real" one. Here are some things I've learned about winter in Ohio so far.

1. Snow is pretty to look at, but it's just really cold rain that sticks to your face.

2. Waterproof mascara is a must from now until March (see previous statement re: snow)

3. Snow sticks to everything. Shoes, puppy noses, face, eyelashes, etc.

I also bought my first "real" ice scraper today. It is 3 feet long and has a snow brush on the end. My old one is about 10 inches long and is good for just about nothing up here. I'll be sure to share the rest of my winter learning as the season progresses. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Iced Christmas Sugar Cookies

My very first recipe post! I'm nothing to write home about in the kitchen, but we've been doing a lot of baking lately and I'm (slowly) learning to do other things as well.

When I was a kid, my godmother would always have myself and my cousins over to make Christmas cookies a few days before Christmas. Since I now live too far away to participate, I'm going to start my own tradition of holiday cookie making.

Iced Christmas Sugar Cookies
Cookies very slightly adapted from Pillsbury's Old Fashioned Sugar Cookie Recipe
Icing slightly adapted from Wiltons' Buttercream Icing Recipe


Cookie Ingredients:
3        cups all purpose flour
1        teaspoon baking powder
1        teaspoon baking soda
1/8     teaspoon salt
1        cup margarine or butter
2        eggs
1 1/2  cups sugar
1        teaspoon vanilla
1/2     teaspoon lemon extract

Cookie Instructions:
1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Cut in one cup margarine until mixture is crumbly. In small bowl, beat eggs. Gradually add sugar, vanilla, and lemon extract, beating until light. Beat in flour mixture. (If necessary, knead dough 10 times to incorporate dry ingredients.) Refrigerate until ready to use (at least 1 hour).

2. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. On lightly floured surface, roll out portion of dough to desired thickness (we did about 1/8 inch). To keep dough from sticking to rolling pin, cover dough with wax paper while rolling. Once dough is rolled to desired thickness, cut using cookie cutters, and place on cookie sheet ~1 inch apart. (We actually use stoneware for most of our baking.)

3. Bake at 375 degrees F until light/golden brown. (Should be 6-10 minutes.) Let cool for about 2 minutes, then remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool cookies completely before icing.


Icing Ingredients:
1       pound powdered sugar (4 cups)
1       cup Crisco shortening
2       tablespoons of milk or water
1       teaspoon extract of choice (lemon, vanilla, etc.)


Icing Instructions:
1. Add sugar, one cup at a time, to shortening while beating on medium with electric mixer. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been added, icing will appear dry.

2. Add milk or water and beat at medium speed until icing is light and fluffy.


Coloring the Icing:
1. Remove desired portion of icing to small bowl.

2. Add desired amount and color of food coloring.

3. Stir, stir, stir. (A regular spoon will work just fine).

4. Add food coloring as needed to achieve desired color. (The color will darken as icing sits).

Decorating with Icing and Sprinkles:
1. Ice cookie desired color. (I spread icing with a teaspoon, I'm sure there is an easier way to do this, but it worked just fine.).

2. Sprinkle sugar or sprinkles or whatever else as desired. Pat decoration into icing with finger (lightly) so sprinkles don't roll off the second you move the cookie.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Day in the Life...

I've been asked many times in the past..."so, uh, what exactly do you do all day?" I understand that most people don't understand exactly what an athletic trainer does and honestly, depending on your setting/time of year/etc, everyone's day looks a little different. My days even vary depending on what day of the week it is. For example, on Monday and Wednesday mornings, I work in a physical therapy clinic for half the day until I head out to the high school, but Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday I have the mornings off (which is blissful by the way). Anyway, this past Monday was pretty typical so I thought I'd give a little insight into what this fairly typical Monday looked like for me...

7:00am - hear Manny's alarm clock and grumble something about where he can find his socks
7:15am - roll out of bed and try to figure out which way is up, grumble something about where Manny can find his tie
7:30am - search for Manny's hat and send him off to work
7:35am - something smells horrid in the kitchen, rinse out some dirty dishes to try and get rid of the smell
7:40am - oh shit, i'm starving, greasy, and so not ready for work; it's cool, i still have an hour
8:00am - i should probably get my sorry butt in the shower now
8:20am - i should probably get out of this really warm shower now
8:25am - shit, i still have to iron my shirt...and my pants...and put on makeup...and fix my hair; screw my hair, into a bun it goes
8:35am - ok, 10 minutes...
8:40am - how am i not downstairs yet?!, i need coffee before i leave
8:45am - come on coffee maker, faster!
8:55am - only 10 minutes late!...F-word! i need gas
8:58am - F-word twice...i forgot to put on deoderant; good thing i need gas anyway
9:28am - totally made it to work on time, win!
9:40am - email from a coach, needing the impossible
11:46am - provide something very close to the impossible which manages to keep coach happy, win!
12noon - lunch! no, wait, musical office time
12:20pm - get commandeered by my boss to have a 15 minute discussion, eek, i need lunch!
12:40pm - i hope i can wolf down this mcdonalds and get back to the clinic in time for my 1 o'clock patient
12:58pm - pager beeps, great, chew chew chew. ok, done. 
2:00pm - leave clinic, breathe for 5 minutes on my way to the high school
3:00pm - re-eval weekend injuries, chat with coaches (
3:10pm - run up to field house to check on other sports, chat with coaches (see all this rapport i'm building?! do ya?!)
3:45pm - come back to gym, get phone call, oops, they need me at the field house, it's not like i was just there or anything
3:48pm - go back to field house, oops, my scissors are in the gym
3:50pm - arrive panting to field house; perform athletic training magic with tape
4:00pm - take a breather, browse Kroger ads on computer
4:01pm - email boss
4:05pm - write two home exercise programs for injured kids
4:10pm - do paperwork (injury reports and updates and more oh my!)
5:00pm - check and recheck this week's calendar to make sure i haven't missed anything
6:00pm - really? i can't go home yet
7:00pm - what's that?!! practice ending 30 minutes early!?! win!

A pretty typical day. Just like anyone else (especially if you work in health care or any other service profession) my days are spent trying to avoid crises, divide and conquer the crises that do arise, and generally trying to keep everything and everyone in order until quittin' time. I love my job. :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Weekly Money Check-Up

Picture-2.jpg

1. The most I've spend this last week was on Christmas presents. No worries, though, rent is due this week. :/

2. Today I feel cautiously optimistic towards money (I feel like I may have said this before). :)

3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was make homemade biscuits! (I confess, that was this morning, but I'm pretty sure it cost me about $1 to make 11 biscuits!)

4. I will consider this week a success if I get all this clean laundry off my bedroom floor...and wash all the stuff in the hamper.

5. My favorite holiday song is there are too many to choose from!...the Peanuts Song, Canon in D, Silent Night, Do You Hear What I Hear?, and many more!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Money Monday


So today is my most shameful Money Monday post to date. :( Not only was I over budget in almost every category, but I forgot to reset my budget and prepare for this period's check/budget. I guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow. In my defense, Thanksgiving happened, and then I got sick. So rather than go through my budgets like I usually do, I'm going to share my (current) feelings about mint.com.

I have to say, so far I don't like it. That's not fair. I don't completely understand it yet, and am still a little overwhelmed by it. And I tend to dislike things I don't understand. However, it has given me some useful insight on what credit card would be good for me to apply for, and after Christmas I'm looking forward to using the goal setting feature.

It also breaks up my expenses into pre-determined categories, which I'm not sure I like. But maybe it's my categories that are the problem. Maybe I'm the one making this whole budgeting thing more difficult than it needs to be. (Throwing Christmas into the mix right now isn't really helping either.)

I also have to say that the actual interface is pretty appealing. It was a little overwhelming at first but I like it more each time I look at it. I think my main problem with it is that I just don't know how to use it yet. So, I'm hoping the more I learn, the more I like it. I'll keep you posted.

That's all for now but check back later for the Weekly Money Check-Up (courtesy of My Pretty Pennies).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our "First" Thanksgiving

This post is a couple days late but I've been a little under the weather...

So first, let's give you a quick rundown of my last few Thanksgivings...
2005: home for 36 hours
2006: home (i think)
2007: Cracker Barrel after Football practice
2008: in Maryland with friends (the time of literally injecting the turkey)
2009: IHOP after football practice (Manny was overseas)

In the last couple years, I've barely even noticed that the holiday season was upon me until all the sudden it was Thanksgiving Day and I was sitting in an IHOP with the other football grad assistant after we had taken naps and recovered from that morning's football practice, not to mention Manny was overseas so he didn't have Thanksgiving either. So this year I really wanted to have a "traditional" Thanksgiving even though we weren't going home to see our families. I was determined to have turkey and pie and spend the day with friends and nowhere near an IHOP. So we made it happen. We teamed up with another couple, invited some friends, and had more food than we could have possibly eaten. It was really awesome. I got a little stressed out near the end because while all the planning was really fun, when it came time to actually cook all that food I got nervous...just for a minute. :) But the day turned out great. We had great food with great friends and ate ourselves sick. A perfectly traditional Thanksgiving. :) I'm very thankful for having the time and energy to really enjoy the holidays this year. :) So even though it isn't the first Thanksgiving since we've been together, it's the first that we'll actually get to spend together.

And now here are some pictures from our "first" Thanksgiving...
Manny's Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
My homemade Apple Pie (I must confess, Manny did the lattice)
Baked Mac and Cheese
me stirring some soon-to-be Mashed Potatoes

Manny enjoying a much deserved beer



























So somehow, in the midst of all this cooking and festivities....we forgot to take a picture of the turkey. :( I'll just go ahead and say it was damn good. I know I'm biased and everything but it really was awesome.  There were also way more sides and way more desserts than the pictures show. Maybe I'll get an album up at some point. But I think our "first" Thanksgiving was quite a success.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Get Excited!

I love saving money. Right now since I'm young and without any kids, I love thinking of all the fun stuff I could buy if I hadn't spent $120 on fast food and Starbucks a couple months ago. Yes, seriously, that much. I got a little nauseous when I added it up. Just frivolous crap I really could have done without. Now I would by no means consider all of my spending frivolous, but some of it could really do with being redirected. I love thinking of all the stuff I could save up for like Christmas gifts, a present for Manny's birthday, a really cute pair of boots I've been eyeing for months, and whatever else I feel like saving up for. I digress.

Anther thing I really love is finding great sales! Especially on stuff I need to buy anyway. Ever gone to Kroger on your weekly grocery run only to find out your favorite deli cheese is $3/pound less than normal!?! Bliss! Or, finding out that the shirt you bought your brother for Christmas is $10 cheaper than you originally thought! Ah, happiness!

The point I'm trying to make here is that getting excited about saving money makes it way easier to do it. Whether you do that with color-coded spread sheet, loading tons of coupons to your KrogerPlus card, or just scouting around for great sales, get excited!

(Speaking of KrogerPlus...I finished up my Thanksgiving shopping yesterday and saved $29 using my KrogerPlus card and coupons I had printed! And I only spent about $60 total so it's like everything was 33% off, so exciting!)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cross Stitch Update: a lot of stuff

So, I've been busily stitching lately but haven't managed to take any pictures since I finished an ornament for my brother. Since then I've started and finished a bookmark (I won't say for whom as it's a Christmas present)...

and "finished" two ornaments...

I've also begun work on another brother's ornament...

Once I'm done with this (I'm a little sick of stockings), I think I may make some sort of cute Christmas-y wall hanging. Whatever it is, it's going to be a Christmas present, so it'll be cute. :) And I'll try to stay a little more up to date on the updates. ;)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Money Monday

Ugh. Is it really already time to talk about money again? We had a really fun weekend (though it did involve some money spending) We saw Harry Potter 7, and it was awesome!!! And Manny has a bake sale thing for work Monday (today) and we baked 200 cookies, 2 pans of brownies, 3 pumpkin pies, and 3 loaves of pumpkin bread. It really didn't cost us too much money as only 44 of the cookies and the pie crusts were store bought. The rest was just money spent on sugar, flour, and all that other stuff you need for baking. We did buy a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, but we'll talk about that another day. Anyway, now we'll check in with the budget:


Car Insurance: still right on ;)
Gasoline: still under (for now)
Grocery: under (but not for long)
Eating Out: still over but not more over than it was last Monday :)
Christmas: over over over
Fun Money: under (mainly because I feel guilty spending money for myself with Christmas right around the corner
Miscellaneous: over over over

So I guess we're doing pretty ok, and I get paid Friday. :) I think my budget still needs to be tweaked a bit, a reallocating of funds if you will.


Next on the list for Money Monday...mint.com. So I signed up to see what was what. Honestly, I don't like it so far but I think it's because I don't understand it yet. So I'll write again when I have more time to play with it.


Now the Weekly Money Checkup courtesy of My Pretty Pennies...



1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on groceries.
2. Today I feel icky towards money.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was finishing up some cross-stitching projects! (pictures coming soon!)
4. I will consider this week a success if I don't spend too much more money before payday.
5. My favorite food at Thanksgiving is green bean casserole and baked macaroni and cheese.
Have a great week!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Etiquette Series: Part III

I have some opinions on etiquette, I know you're shocked. :) And the other day, a friend and I were talking about the many social faux pas that people our age (twenty-somethings) tend to make, so I thought it may be a good idea to do a little series on etiquette, especially with the holidays right around the corner. You may disagree with some of what I say, and that's just fine. These are just my personal opinions, and I am well aware that there are exceptions to every rule. :)


If you're new, check out Part I and Part II here!


Part III - People Skills


Recently, I've had a quite a few encounters with people possessing terrible people skills. Do they just not realize they're being rude? Do they care? I don't care if you're the busiest, most stressed out person in the world, you can still afford to take time for a few simple social niceties...especially if you work with people in any way!


1. Say please and thank you. This is a given right? Wrong. You'd be surprised how many people fail to do this, and how much of a difference it makes when people do.


2. Acknowledge others. This is mainly for those of you in customer service professions (aren't they all?), including myself. :) It drives me crazy when I have to search through a store for someone to ring up my items. Or worse to walk up to a register and be ignored by the clerk. Just a smile and a "I'll be right with you" makes me feel SO much better than being ignored.


3. Don't be rude. Another given. This goes for both the customer and the store/clinic/whatever employee. If you're the customer, I'm all for seeing that you're treated fairly, but even if someone is being rude to you, remaining pleasant will do a world of good. Same goes if you're the employee. If you get a sassy customer, and you are rude back, then you, too, look like an idiot.


Now I'm going to break tradition a little and share a scenario that I encountered recently that inspired me to write this post. 


Scenario 1:
Customer: Do you have any more coupons?
Cashier: Oh yes, sir, we still have them. (to store manager) Bob, since they're buying two ****** do you want me to take $0.50 off each item or $1 off the total order?
Store Manager (in a very snarky/exasperated tone): What?! Why would we take $1 off? 
Cashier: Um, sir, well, there's a coupon.
Store Manager:  Ugh, I'm on the phone! I don't understand why we would ever take $1 off their order. Why are you asking if we would take $1 off? Why would we do that?
Customer: (to the poor cashier who looks like she's about to cry) Don't worry about it, it's no big deal.
Ok Mr. Jerky Store Manager, get off your high horse and (1) be aware of specials your store is running and (2) don't ever speak to an employee in a demeaning manner, especially in front of customers. Jerk. How about instead saying "Mary, I'm not sure what coupons you're talking about?" or "I'm not sure we have any specials running at the moment."


I just think that it's not that hard to be polite. I'm really trying not to rant here, so as we're approaching the Holiday season, maybe we can all try to be a little nicer and little more polite. :)


Next Week: well, I'm not sure yet...I'll let you know when I decide. :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Like the New Look?

You may have noticed that the blog looks a LOT different. I'm trying out some new layouts and color schemes to try and find something I think really fits. I have done this several times in the past and have (obviously) not yet come to a permanent solution. So, what are your thoughts? Do we like the minimalistic look better? I already have one vote against it. ;) But I kinda like it. Leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Errors in Budgeting and a New Frontier

I made two silly money mistakes this week that have cost me $35. :( Actually, when I look at it like that it doesn't seem so bad...I guess. It's just very frustrating knowing that had I not made those two errors in judgement, I would have that $35 to do whatever I want with. Grrr. However, in the grand scheme of things, it's only $35 and life will go on.

In other news, something called mint.com was recommended to me by a friend yesterday. I've done some researching and would like to try it, but am frankly a little overwhelmed. Mint.com is an online money management program. It's free (and according to the website, committed to staying free) and has all sorts of bells and whistles for managing your money. For a person who has one checking account, one savings account, and no credit cards, this is a little overwhelming. I keep thinking, do I really need all this to manage my money? But, as I'm getting older, I'm realizing I need to do things like build my credit and plan for retirement. I'll say it again, overwhelming. But I think my mid-twenties is a perfectly good time to start learning about all this. Better than waiting until my mid-thirties. ;) So, I think I'm going to give it a try. I'm nervous, but right now I manage my money from three different places: a random app on my iPhone that I am only marginally satisfied with, an Excel spreadsheet of my own making, and my bank's website. So if I could condense these all to one website with a matching iPhone app....yay? I think I need to pull the trigger and just do it. Even as I'm writing this I'm getting anxious about setting it up. So off I go, into the wild green yonder.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Our First Turkey

This Thanksgiving we're cooking our first turkey. Correction, Manny is cooking our first turkey while I hand him things and make sides/desserts. We have a lovely 15 pound turkey sitting in the freezer just waiting for our friends to drool over. But neither of us have ever cooked a turkey. (Ok, well I assisted one other time but it was with another athletic trainer and when the instructions called for us to "inject" the turkey with its own juices, we did it the only way we knew how. With a 400cc syringe and a 14 gauge needle. It worked great, but I'm not sure that's what they meant.) Anyway, Manny being the smarty pants that he is, researched how to cook a turkey. He found this really yummy recipe by Alton Brown so as long as we do it right we should be ok. Manny is admittedly nervous about cooking the turkey, since the turkey is, after all, the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. I would be too, that's why he's doing it and not me. ;) I'm sure the turkey will be great and we have about a billion sides to go with it. :) And 3 pies. We don't mess around with food in this house.

As for how we're celebrating, it's not the most traditional, we're not headed home to spend it with our family. But among military friends/family, our plan is probably pretty normal. I teamed up with another girl and we're cooking for our friends who can't/aren't going home this Thanksgiving. As I spent last Thanksgiving in an IHOP (more on that another day), I'm really very excited about having a traditional meal with good friends.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Weekly Money Check-Up

This post is linked to My Pretty Pennies' Weekly Money Check-Up.


1. The most I've spent this last week was on Christmas presents! See why here.

2. Today I feel a little nervous but mostly ok towards money.


3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was watch my adorable puppy run around with complete abandon while playing with Manny.

4. I will consider this week a success if I get some cross-stitching done!

5. I am afraid of anything that flies and stings.



Monday, November 15, 2010

Money Monday

I would like to begin by telling you that I've given my Christmas budget the finger. I realized this weekend (with some help from my wonderful boyfriend) that since I'm an adult, I have no children, I have a full time job, and live in a two income household (really three because we have a roommate)...I can stop being such a cheap ass about Christmas. Seriously, in this wonderful season of giving I'm going to act like I'm still a broke college student? Negative. So I have changed my Christmas budgeting tune. Don't worry Dad, I'm not going to spend my life savings on one Christmas, but I can loosen the purse strings a bit. 

Ok, now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's check in with the budget. As promised, I will tell you that the only things that managed to stay in budget from last week were gas and groceries, I'll leave it at that. But here's how this bi-weekly budget is going (mind you, it's only 3 days old).

Car Insurance: right on (that's a gimme)
Gasoline: under
Grocery: haven't even touched it yet!
Eating Out: over (I'm thinking I may need to re-evaluate the reality of this budget
Fun Money: under
Miscellaneous: under, but it's going to be hard to stay that way
Christmas: over (is anyone surprised? I am a Stanley after all)

The way that I budgeted for Christmas is that I basically split my Christmas budget up over the next 3 paychecks. So if I'm a little over, I'm just going to take it out of savings and repay my savings with the next paycheck. And honestly, I'd rather spend some extra money on Christmas presents than act like Scrooge. Who cares if my savings take a small hit during Christmas? That's what January is for. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Etiquette Series: Part II

I have some opinions on etiquette, I know you're shocked. :) And the other day, a friend and I were talking about the many social faux pas that people our age (twenty-somethings) tend to make, so I thought it may be a good idea to do a little series on etiquette, especially with the holidays right around the corner. You may disagree with some of what I say, and that's just fine. These are just my personal opinions, and I am well aware that there are exceptions to every rule. :)


If you missed Part I, check it out!

Part II - Being a Good Party Guest

1. Be "on time." Getting there 10 minutes late so you're not the first awkward party guest is one thing, getting there 3 hours late because you just had to have your stylist professionally straighten your hair is rude.

2. Don't go empty handed. If it's a pot luck dinner, bring food. If you're doing White Elephant or Dirty Santa gifts, bring a present. Don't be the only ding dong walking in empty handed when everyone else has contributed their share.

3. Don't get hammered. There are very few situations where this is acceptable, your mother-in-law's hoity toity Christmas tea party is not one of those situations.

4. Have fun! Who cares if you've had a crappy day at work or a fight with your boyfriend. It's a party and all the other guests do not want to hear your woe-is-me tales during an otherwise upbeat holiday party.

5. Don't bring uninvited guests. This doesn't really need explanation, just don't do it.


6. Dress appropriately. If it's an office party, I might advise against your sequined mini-dress. Though that might be totally appropriate for your best friend's party. Just make sure you know what the attire should be before you go.


7. Bring a small gift for the host/hostess. I'm talking super small, like a candle or something else thoughtful. Just a little something that says thanks for inviting me. 


Stay tuned for more in the Sunday Etiquette Series. Next Week: People Skills

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Things I Saw at the Gym Yesterday

So we went to the gym on base today. You'd expect there to be a somewhat normal crowd there, lots of guys with crew cuts and stuff. But, guess what, the base gym is just as filled with weirdos as the next. Ok, well maybe not quite, but here are some interesting sights I saw.

1. Guy with a comb-over so severe I could not figure out which side it came from. (I was trying not to stare too hard.)

2. A very small, very blonde, very tan woman, complete with gold watch and finger-less weight lifting gloves doing some serious leg presses with perfectly coiffed hair.

3. A super-jacked 40-ish dude wearing a racer-back muscle shirt (did anyone else know they actually made those for guys?).

4. Personal trainer and trainee both with perfect hair, make-up, earrings, and perfectly put together gym outfits. (Maybe I should take the hint?)

5. Guy next to us while we were stretching doing very loud, apparently very strenuous, push-ups. And I say very strenuous because he grunted very loudly with every push-up. Seriously? Is that necessary?

So there you have it, my strange gym creature sightings. I just wish I had pictures. I hope they brought at least a little amusement into your day. They certainly did to mine. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Picking a Credit Card

Can you tell I'm a little focused on money at the moment? I basically have no credit. Not bad credit, just none, which apparently is just as unappealing to creditors. A year or so ago I tried applying for several cards so that I could begin building my credit but to no avail. Though at the time I was a graduate student making barely $1000 a month, not exactly a great credit candidate. So after being rejected 3 or 4 times, I gave up, lest I ruin my credit forever. But now that I have my big girl job, I've decided that it's time again to try and build up some credit. I've looked at a couple different ones (basically just Target and Amazon) and am currently wondering to myself if it really matters which I get. They both have no annual fee and offer rewards of some sort. And basically I'm just looking to use this to build credit, not to make purchases out of my price range.

Basically my fear is that one of these days it will be time to buy a car or a house and I won't be able to because I have no credit. Manny thinks it's silly of me to worry but that's because he already has good credit! Lucky duck.

How have you built up your credit? Any great credit card suggestions? Is it better to get a store card or a bank card? Does it really matter as long as you watch your spending and make payments on time?

On a slightly different note, my new budget starts tomorrow! I'm unnaturally excited. I think it's because the budget for the past couple weeks was (it seemed) a big fat fail. More on that Monday. I'm really excited to start a new budget cycle and try to stay in budget once more! Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trying to Grow My Savings

I work best when I have a goal. My super linear brain needs to have an end in sight, a point we're trying to work towards. So it's no wonder that since my savings account was just a plain old savings account, with no distinct path, it tends not to grow too much. There was no goal, no end point I was trying to reach. So, I made goals. I itemized my savings. I have specific categories for which to save. I have no idea if this is going to work, but I'm going to give it a whirl. My savings account is still just one account, but my handy dandy Excel spreadsheet has everything laid out nice and pretty. Currently, I have things broken down into these categories:

General Savings: used for when I maybe need a little extra for a plane ticket home or something similar; kind of like a small buffer to my bi-weekly budgets, just in case
Emergency Fund: this is my emergency, oh my God, I've lost my job and still need to make rent, fund
Horseback Riding: I pay for horseback riding 10 lessons at a time to get a discount, and I really dislike paying it all out of one check
Christmas: self-explanatory, however, next year I intend to have this category year round

At the moment I don't have a whole lot else I'm actively saving for. I'm sure there are some things that need some attention but I can very easily add them as I go along. My Excel spreadsheet has color coded categories and even shows me what percentage of my savings goal I have accomplished. Below is a mock spreadsheet (I'm not comfortable sharing my exact finances on my blog, even if almost no one reads it), but it will help you get the picture. No pun intended. ;)


So, my budget is not nearly this exciting but I started having fun with the colors. :) I really like to have everything literally laid out before me so I can see exactly what goes where. How do you keep track of your savings?

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am by no means a financial professional or qualified to give financial advice in any way. These are simply my little opinions.. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weekly Money Check Up




1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a plane ticket home for Christmas.
2. Today I feel surprisingly content towards money.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was taking my puppy to the dog park!
4. I will consider this week a success if I come in under budget on ANY category.
5. My go-to recipe is breaded baked chicken. I am in no way culinarily inclined.
This post is linked to the Weekly Money Check Up.

Cross Stitch Update: Ev's Ornament

Adapted from Ornament's Galore: Volume 2 Stocking Pattern
Stitched on Oatmeal 14-count Aida
personal color selection

Stitching on Ev's ornament in finished! And it's about time too. I really need to get moving on these Christmas presents/ornaments if I'm going to finish them in time. If I'm counting correctly I think I have about 8 more things to stitch before Christmas. Eek! I really like these ornament patterns and how easily adaptable they are. The plan was to do cross-stitched stocking ornaments for everyone who was getting an ornament but stitching the same thing over and over does not do well for my ADD nature. So I think I'm going to change it up a little bit. Stay tuned for more!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Money Monday

The past week(ish) has definitely been a learning experience on where my money goes. At this point, I'm a little more than half way through my biweekly budget. Something I've had to repeat to myself over and over this week is that I'm not going to get such a structured budget perfectly right the first time around. I need to just stick with it, learn from it, and do better on the next one. Here's a look at what I'm over and under budget on this week.

Groceries: under 
Eating Out: way way over. :(
Gas: under
Miscellaneous: way way over
Rent: right on the money (but that's kind of a gimme)
Utilities: under 


My Eating Out and Miscellaneous budgets were epic fails this time around. Why? Well, I was doing great until Manny and I went out to eat last night to watch the football game, and then had lunch at the mall today while doing some Christmas shopping. And Miscellaneous? I'm honestly not 100% sure what happened there. Too many trips to Target perhaps? The problem is it all seemed necessary at the time. Also, if you count the plane ticket home for the holidays (which I didn't) that would make me even more over budget. But that came out of savings so it kind of didn't count.

Another budgeting issue that's been on my mind a lot lately is Christmas. I actually had a little baby Christmas budget melt down this weekend before I realized that it's really going to be just fine. Goal for next year? Save for Christmas year round. Hence the itemized savings idea. More on that later.

Well, that's all for now. My new bi-weekly budget starts Friday so I'm sure my budget will look great next week! But don't worry, I'm also going to check in with how this term's budget ended up. Gulp. :) Have a fabulous week!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Etiquette Series: Part I

I have some opinions on etiquette, I know you're shocked. :) And the other day, a friend and I were talking about the many social faux pas that people our age (twenty-somethings) tend to make, so I thought it may be a good idea to do a little series on etiquette, especially with the holidays right around the corner. You may disagree with some of what I say, and that's just fine. These are just my personal opinions, and I am well aware that there are exceptions to every rule. :)

Part I - Being a Good Houseguest
In my opinion, being a good houseguest is more necessary than you may think. It's very important for the person who has invited you to stay in their home to know that you are thankful and appreciative of that. Otherwise they may not do so again. ;) 

1: Respect customs and traditions of that household.
For example, if the family you're staying with prefers not to watch television after 8pm, don't insist on turning on the TV at 9pm because you can't bear to miss Desperate Housewives.

2. Always, always, always, no matter how much you don't want to, offer to help with dishes and other household chores (especially if you're staying for an extended period of time). Many hostesses will refuse your offer but it's important that you offer, preferably after every meal.
Please do not be the disappearing houseguest who mysteriously disappears during dinner clean-up and then re-appears just in time for dessert.

3. Keep your junk in your trunk. Ok, not literally. But don't spread your crap out everywhere. Try to keep your things packed away when you're not using them, except for maybe a book on the bed stand or something else small.
I know my parents are literally rolling on the floor laughing right now, but in truth, I try really hard to do this when I'm not staying with Mom and Dad or a very close friend. (Sorry, Elizabeth)

4. Go with the flow. If the family/friends you're staying with are doing something as a group that you're not particularly interested in, do it anyway for the sake of being social. Don't insist on doing your own thing and going against the grain, it's irritating, and rude.
Obviously if the people you're with are insisting on doing drugs or something else illegal then, duh, don't do it. But if they're just going to a restaurant you don't care for, get your butt in the car and go, and be happy about it while you're at it.

5. Like the Girl Scouts say, leave your campsite cleaner than you found it.
I'm by no means saying you need to have a marathon cleaning session before you leave, but for the love of God, please don't leave your toenail clippings on the bathroom floor.


6. Finally, by all means thank your host/hostess before leaving. Be sure they know that you appreciate them opening their home to you, because they could have made you pay for a hotel. ;)
After you leave, some would consider it appropriate to send a thank you note or small gift thanking your host/hostess. I think the longer your stay, the more you should consider a thank you note/gift. Use your judgement depending on the situation.


Stay tuned for more in the Sunday Etiquette Series. Next week: Being a Good Party Guest.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Photographic Fun

So, recently I've decided to take up another hobby...taking pictures. Why don't I call it photography? Because at the moment what I do is not photography, it's taking pictures. :) But it's lots of fun all the same. I decided the other day that since we have this wonderful camera sitting around, and since I've always enjoyed taking pictures...why not take it up a notch? Well, on Thursday I took Louis to the dog park, and caught this adorable moment on camera...

Cute, right? 

Then last night Manny gave me a quick lesson on things like focal length and shutter speed. I'm still not sure I 100% understand the focal length thing but I'm getting there. Then we had a quick photo editing tutorial. We have Aperture which I think is super awesome...and though I really have no idea what else is out there, but I sure had fun with it. :) The photo of Louis (above) is not edited (well, it's cropped but that doesn't really count). But I went out and played around with the camera today and then came in and played with the editing software...and here's what I came up with.



For some reason I just loved the pumpkin picture. Maybe it's because I'm really excited about fall and the holiday season coming up. But anyway, now here's the edited version...


Fun, right?! The look a little psychedelically orange but I like it. We have a camera book around somewhere which I will be reading shortly. I've aways liked taking pictures and would get really excited when one turned out great. Now that I have the equipment handy, I'm learning how to make sure pictures turn out great...or at least better than before.