Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March Goal Review

Starting this past December, I started blogging my monthly goals to try and help myself get things accomplished. At the end of each month I post a goal recap to make myself a little more accountable for the goals I set in the beginning of the month.


Ahh! How is it March 31 and already time to recap goals! I'm not done yet! ;) I didn't do very well this month so bear with me!


1. Workout 3x per week
Week 1: 2x
Week 2: 3x
Week 3: 2x
Week 4: 1x

2. Read 2 books.
All I did was continue to read two books that I had started in February. I really need to get a move on if I'm going to read 25 books this year.

3. Complete 1 cross stitch project 
Total Completed: 2  
If you missed them you can find one here and the other one I haven't gotten around to posting about. Shame on me.

4. Register for CSCS exam
Um, yeah, I didn't do this. Again. But apparently I now have much longer to take it. And I haven't even studied for it yet. :/

5. Organize my closet 
I kind of did this a couple weeks ago but it keeps getting messed right back up again. Maybe that's a sign that I need to get rid of some clothes.

6. Buy new comforter/curtains/lamp shade for bedroom
I did finally get around to buying a new comforter (which is adorable and SO snuggly) but I haven't gotten around to the rest of the bedroom yet. Remember when Manny was away for training and I thought I had oh so much time on my hands? Oops.

7. Clean/organize bedroom
Again, it's gotten partially done, but I would not consider it complete by any standards.

8. Organize Manny's closet
Nope. Didn't happen.

9. Continue fast food spending fast!
Wow. I seem to be failing a lot this month. Shame on me.  This was one I honestly wanted to stick with, but my willpower was nil. However, while talking to my best friend about it the other day, she suggested rather than a fast, to just try to reduce spending or frequency. Oh, and if you want, you can read about my fast food spending fail. ;)

10. Analyze spending in my "other" category.
Ok, so I didn't do this either, but I did create a new budget spreadsheet to use that will help do this on an ongoing basis!


Ok, so I didn't exactly accomplish a lot of my goals this month. I have lots of reasons excuses as to why but no need to bore you with them here. ;) I do, however, want to share that I think I got a little overzealous on my goals this month. Not that it's bad to have a nice long To Do list, but I should have realized that I was never going to get it done on my own. I used to have a problem with creating goals that weren't really measurable, and these were measurable all right, but there were too many. One of my goals for April goal writing (wow, did I sound a little obsessive there? ;) ) is to write realistic goals. I'm not trying to let myself down easy, but I do need to be self-aware of what I'm going to have time to accomplish.

Check back tomorrow for April's Goals!

And, since I didn't have any other picture, I leave you a picture of my boys totally entranced in Battlestar Galactica. Can you see why I get nothing done?! ;)




Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DIY Car Maintenance

This past weekend Manny and I did some work on my car. We changed brake pads, changed oil, changed the air filter, added washer fluid, and washed it. This cost us a total of $86.50. At first it seemed like a lot of money to spend in one weekend until I broke it down realized how frugal we were! (It helps to have a handy man around!)

What We Paid:
Brake Pads: $32
Oil/Oil Filter: $29
Air Filter: $14
Auto-Shop Use Fee: $7.50 (for 1.5 hours)
DIY Car Wash: $4
Total: $86.50

What it Would Have Cost to Have Someone Else Do It:
Brakes: at least $150
Oil/Oil Filter: $35
Air Filter: $20
Car Wash: $7
Total: $212


Ok, so obviously it helped to have Manny around and to have access to the base auto-hobby shop. But honestly, we could have done most of this at home it was just a lot easier at the hobby shop. And to be honest, I'm pretty sure I could change my own oil if I had to! Oh and also, I've heard that some places charge you as much as $400 to do your brakes because they end up doing much more than just changing your pads.

I actually really enjoyed being able to do this stuff ourselves! I felt so accomplished when we left and I'm pretty sure my car feels 20,000 miles younger! Yay for DIY!

Disclaimer: Obviously don't do any of this stuff if you don't know what you're doing. I was mainly just a spectator in all this. I am not responsible for anyone who tries to do maintenance on their car and hurts themselves or their car!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up

Every week, MPP over at My Pretty Pennies hosts a financial fill-in post. If you're new, click on over to check it out.


1. The most I've spent this last week was a total of $86.01 on some much needed car maintenance. (Check back later this week for what we did and just how frugal we were! Yay!)

2. Today I feel watchful towards money. Payday is Friday, I have plenty to make it until then, but I don't want to use that comfort to spur unnecessary spending.

3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did this week that made me happy was making pizza with my honey on Saturday night! Ok, so it wasn't really the most frugal/inexpensive thing ever, but it was way less expensive than a night on the town! Plus, recipe post coming soon! And if you compare, we spent less than $40 on our night in, the same night out would have cost at least $80.

4. I will consider this week a success if I order Save-the-Dates and register.

5. The last time I took a good nap was umm, this weekend? I used to take naps all the time and I still love them.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Marathon Training Update...

...or lack thereof. It's not like I haven't been doing anything. I've been going to the gym more frequently, which isn't hard to do since I'd only been going once per week. But anyway, I've run a couple of one milers and one time accidentally ran 1.75 miles.

For you skeptics out there, I'm well aware that 1 mile is nowhere near 13.1 miles but a girl has to start somewhere. And the race isn't until September.

Anyway, I'm still working towards my goal but since I have so much time there's no reason to push it. Hopefully on my next update I'll have run more than 1.75 miles. ;)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been wanting to make cookies all week but couldn't think of a reason to make them. Then I realized I didn't need a reason, so I did. :) And also, Manny really wanted some and apparently "but, honey, I'm deploying soon" is a good excuse for just about anything. ;)

So anyway, I found this recipe on Pillsbury's website back at Christmas time.




Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

*sometimes when it's very dry outside we decrease the flour a little

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In large bowl, beat sugars, butter, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in chocolate chips. 
Use hands to roll dough into ~1.5 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet* about 2 inches apart. 
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown** (centers will be soft). Cool 1-2 minutes, remove to wire rack.

*We use stoneware instead of cookie sheets. I highly recommend it.
**For practically perfect cookies, take them out of the oven right before you think they're done. Like, that moment when you think "Hmm, I think they're almost ready, I'll just leave them in another minute..." take them out! They'll be wonderful and soft, even the next day.




Oh, and if anyone was wondering what Manny was doing while I was slaving away making delicious cookies?...

Yep, laying on the couch, waiting for me to deliver chocolatey amazingness. ;)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wedding Planning Update

Several of you have asked for a wedding planning update and I'm ashamed to say that there's not a lot to update because I haven't been doing much planning. Manny and I have been so busy dealing with him going away to training and then preparing for the deployment that we haven't really had time to think about wedding planning. But, he's leaving soon and there are some things we definitely want to get accomplished before he leaves!

Here's what we've done so far:
* reserved a ceremony venue (my family's church)
* reserved a reception venue
* booked a photographer
* bought my wedding dress (you'll have to wait a while for pictures though!)

Here's what we hope to do before he leaves:
* register (not sure where though, we're thinking Macy's)
* finalize the guest list
* send Save the Dates
* pick out wedding invitations

I think those are all the biggies. And to be honest, I'm a little overwhelmed that we need to do these things before he leaves. Because we have so much else to do too. *deep breath* But this is fun stuff, wedding planning stuff! :) I'm sure we'll get it done. And if not, that's what Skype is for, right?

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Lovely Surprise

Tonight I came home after an 11 hour day to a lovely surprise...


One word...yum! We bought 3 containers of strawberries at the grocery the other and I fully intend on dipping some more this weekend. Maybe we can even make some more decorative ones! :)

Weekly Money Check-Up

Every week, MPP over at My Pretty Pennies hosts a financial fill-in post. If you're new, click on over to check it out.


1. The most I've spent this last week was on a new Coach clutch. (about $100)

2. Today I feel normal towards money. The last few pay periods have consisted of my bonus and then getting my tax refunds, so I've been a bit more flush than normal. Now it's back to normal spending habits. :)

3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive things I did this week that made me happy was spend some time outside with Manny throwing the ball around for the dog and taking pictures. It's really nice to have him home. :)



4. I will consider this week a success if I do laundry, fold it, and put it away!


5. This week I am thankful for my life as I know it. :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fast Food Spending Fail

I've talked several times about my desire to spend less on fast food. (Original post here) Somehow, though, things keep getting in the way of me accomplishing my goal. And maybe they're just excuses, but this fast food fast is a lot harder than I originally intended. When I first thought of doing this, I thought all it would take would be a little planning ahead and, voila!, no more fast food spending. Apparently I forgot that sometimes things just get in the way and people get tired.

Especially since Manny has come home from TDY, I have really fallen off the wagon. But, we've enjoyed going out to eat together some and frankly haven't really felt like cooking. However, we went to the grocery today and got all kinds of good stuff so lets hope for a better week next week!

I would still like to drastically reduce my fast food spending. But I also need to remember that cutting it out completely is obviously not something I'm capable of doing right now. But improvement is what I'm really going for! :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up

Every week, MPP over at My Pretty Pennies hosts a financial fill-in post. If you're new, click on over to check it out.


1. The most I've spent this last week was on putting money in the wedding fund! :D

2. Today I feel cautious towards money. I've been really really bad about my fast food spending fast this week. :( Actually, I pretty well tossed it out the window.

3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did this week that made me happy was take my dog on a walk when it was actually sunny and warm enough to walk!

4. I will consider this week a success if I renew my vow to my fast food spending fast. Grrrr!

5. My ancestors are English, French, German...

Belated Blog Anniversary

March 4th was my blog's one year anniversary. I meant to write a special post and get all excited, but then *surprise* life got in the way and I forgot. ;) When I remembered, I got to thinking about everything that has happened over the last year.

I started my blog while on a trip to visit my (then) boyfriend (now fiance!) last year. Manny had recently returned from overseas and I drove up to spend my spring break with him. I got to play stay-at-home-girlfriend that week and got a much needed break to think about what was going on in my life. At the time I had my theoretical dream job. I was a graduate assistant athletic trainer with a very prominent college football team. Due to a multitude of factors, it was not a good fit for me and I was miserable. I felt guilty about that because this was supposed to be my dream job. It was everyones dream job. This was the spot that everyone wanted, and I had it. Despite that, I wanted desperately to leave. Even though I was spending the week with the love of my life, I wasn't happy. Of course I was happy to be with him, but I cried, a lot.

When it came time to leave I could hardly bear it. At first glance it's easy to think that I was just a girl who didn't want to leave her boyfriend. But we had just spent 6 months apart, on different continents...apart I could handle. What I couldn't handle was going back to a place where I was miserable every single day. A life where every day I had to force my way out of bed, force myself to get dressed and go to work, and try like hell to be even marginally productive. I was in hell.

The afternoon I had to leave, after stalling for as long as humanly possible, Manny walked me to my car. He asked me to please consider moving to Ohio. I asked if he was serious. He said yes.

This was not the first time this subject had been breached. I had told him so many times how unhappy I was and so many times he had said "Why don't you just quit?". My best friend had asked the same question. I gave both of them the same answer. "I can't. You don't understand.". But they did understand. What they didn't understand was why I wouldn't even consider the possibility of getting myself out of this situation.

One the drive home I started thinking about what Manny had asked. I had never actually considered the possibility of leaving. I had always thought people who left were weak, they just couldn't handle it. I was always the one who could handle it. I was tougher than them, right? I realized then that it's not about toughness, not about weakness. It's about being happy with your life and where it's going. It's about being selfish, just for a minute, to consider your own happiness and what you want.

I decided on that eight hour drive to leave my graduate program and move to Ohio. That was the easy part, deciding to leave. The part that came after was the hard part. The following months were some of the most difficult I've ever faced. Some very important people disagreed very strongly with my decision, and that was extremely difficult. But I knew it was the right decision, for me.

I love my life now. I love my job, I love my house, my dog, and my fiance. I am in such a better place mentally and emotionally than I was a year ago. I know there are some who still think I made the wrong decision and that's ok. I am happy, I love my life, and I definitely made the right decision,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Trail Mix!

I made some trail mix today and it is really yummy if I do say so myself. I love trail mix because it's pretty much the easiest thing in the world to make. You find some stuff you like, put it in a bowl and mix it up. No cooking involved! :)


Mine is made with:

lightly salted peanuts
dark chocolate m&ms
raisins 
marshmallows

I just dumped some of each in a bowl and adjusted the quantities until it looked good. Then I put the lid on this container and shook it up for a while. Voila! Trail mix! ;)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pretty Pretty Flower (in progress)

Ok, so the real name of this pattern is "red poppy" and I found it online here for free. I love it and have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with it once it's finished. :) Anyway...here's how it's looking so far.


Nice, huh? ;) It's been pretty easy to stitch too. There's not even any back-stitching! Yay. Back-stitching is the bane of my existence. I'll be posting soon about a project I just finished that had like 26 miles of back-stitching. (Ok, not really, but it felt that way!) Anyway, I'm off to go work on my pretty pretty flower some more. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happiness Bookmark

I guess my previous post was a little premature because I finished the bookmark the same day I wrote it. :) Yay! This was sent to a friend of mine who always manages to bring happiness into my life.

Happiness Bookmark
from Hold That Thought Bookmarks pattern book
stitched on 14 count white Aida
with suggested color choices
This one was so cute when I finished it I was actually a little sad about putting it in the envelope and mailing it off! But woohoo! for completing another cross stitch project and sending a little surprise to a friend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

BSOD

BSOD - blue screen of death; can be used as a noun or a verb (I'll give you one guess who came up with the acronym ;) )

A few weeks ago, I was playing around on my phone (I know, something new and different) and all of the sudden, the screen flashed blue and then the little Apple symbol appeared. This sequence continued until I did a "hard reset" and shut the phone completely off and let it get hold of itself. After the first time, it was a few days before my phone did this again. Most recently, however, it has progressed to BSODing several times per day. This in and of itself is sufficiently annoying, but the phone also has to be left off for 10+ minutes or the minute you turn it back on, the BSOD ritual resumes.

So today, when my phone gave the me the BSOD yet again, I decided that this could not wait another day (I had originally planned to get it taken care of this weekend) and made an appointment at my friendly neighborhood Apple Store for after work.

I should probably take this time to tell you that my "friendly neighborhood Apple Store" is a hour and a half from where I work and an hour from my house. No, there is not a closer one. It was also pouring down rain all day today, and continued to do so on the one and one half hour drive to the freaking store after work.

Once I arrived at the Apple Store, however, matters improved greatly. I had a very nice Genius come help me who tried valiantly not to smirk when I told him that my phone was giving me the BSOD (although, I did actually say "blue screen of death"). After a few minutes of tinkering, my phone BSODed for him and he was quite perplexed. He said he had never seen a phone do this before and figured it was some sort of hardware problem. He said he could run some diagnostics on it but since I had already had a long enough day (what with the BSOD and 1.5 hour drive and all), they were just going to go ahead and replace my phone! Yay! The only downside is that I lost a couple pictures but we have most of the important ones replicated elsewhere. Truthfully, I stood in the store for about 20 minutes trying to email them to myself but my old phone continued to BSOD me so I gave up.

But the good news is that I now have a new, working phone, and the headache that threatened to become debilitating on the drive to the store subsided substantially once I had a working phone. :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up

Every week, MPP over at My Pretty Pennies hosts a financial fill-in post. If you're new, click on over to check it out.




1. The most I've spent this last week was on a new bedspread! Yay! :)


2. Today I feel amazing towards money!! Seriously, all my tax refunds are in, I got paid last Friday, and I am making some real progress towards my savings goals! Woot!

3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was watch a lot of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix instant streaming. It was a pretty uneventful week. And while my shopping trip this past weekend was really fun, it was hardly inexpensive.


4. I will consider this week a success if I go to the gym three times (one down two to go!).

5. My guilty pleasure TV show is Jersey Shore, 16 & Pregnant, Real Housewives (although the New York ones yell too much and make me anxious), and a few more I'm sure. :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

untitled

All weekend I've been thinking that I would like to write some blog posts for the upcoming week, or even something to post this past weekend. But the words wouldn't come. I feel like I have nothing interesting to share at the moment. Maybe it's just that I don't feel very share-y at the moment. I love writing. I may not be all that good at it but I really really enjoy blogging. I like sharing, I like writing, and I like belonging to a community of people who understand what I'm saying. And what I'm saying is that I'm trying very hard not to be sad. Manny's been in training for a little while and I'm lonely. I feel bad, guilty even, saying that because he's not even gone for real yet. And he hasn't been gone for very long. And he'll be home soon. And this training is like a fraction of the time he'll be gone when he deploys. But I'm still lonely. I'm trying to keep busy, and it helps, but sometimes, you just get lonely. Mostly I'm fine, but it's times like this, weekends when I actually don't have to work, and there aren't 100 places to be at once. These times get lonely.

But, just having written that I feel a bit better and I'm sincerely trying to stay upbeat so I'm going to share with you some things that do make me happy. :)

1. My ridiculously adorable weiner dog.


2. My new awesome cross-stitch project which is going to soon be a beautiful flower.


3. My amazingly awesome new bras. Ok, so maybe this is TMI but for those of us who wear...a-typical sizes, particularly of the larger variety...this is an amazing find. I didn't know bras could be this comfortable! Sorry if that was TMI, but it's making me really happy. :)

Anyway, people get in funks. I try not to say anything when I'm in a funk (though it's usually pretty obvious anyway) because I feel like I should be happy and upbeat and not lonely. Surprisingly, though, just writing this post has made me feel a lot better. Maybe I just needed to get it out.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I love progress bars, and savings!

So my tax refunds came in last week and I put a big chunk into savings, and I plan on putting more in soon! :) Eee! :) I updated my progress bars and the biggest change is that I'm almost halfway to my emergency fund goal! I also put aside money for Manny's wedding ring (although that's not a sidebar)! I seriously love being able to save up for things!

Before I got my big girl job, I used to try really hard to save but I always ended up taking the money out of the account at the end of the month, and tax refunds just helped me not drown. So here's hoping that my car doesn't break or something else ridiculous to blow my savings to smithereens! ;)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In the Dumps, In a Funk, In a Rut


It seems like every blog I've read this week (my own included) has had at least one post about how down in the dumps they are or what a slump they're in or how they're just kind of in a funk. Well snap out of it ladies (and gentlemen, if I have any gentleman readers)!

I don't know what our issue has been this week (and last if I remember correctly) but we need to climb out. My opinion on a huge contributing factor...we're all sick to death of winter! No matter where you live, your winter has been colder and harsher than usual. Here, there has been snow on the ground since December, and I am this tired of shoveling that crap off my car. This week, it has finally been warmer (and even sunny a couple days!) but it's not enough! I yearn to wear shorts and feel the sun on my arms!
And I know a lot of people have had other crap other than the winter blues going on, but the fact that it's cold and dreary outside doesn't help matters much. But for now, I leave you with some picture (sadly not my own) of what we have to look forward to in coming months! This is my attempt to cheer up all my bloggy friends! :)

photo credit
photo credit

photo credit
I hope this helps...and if not, I tried! ;)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Goals!

Starting this past December, I began making a list of monthly goals and posting them here. I find that posting goals on my blog helps keep me a little more accountable. :)




If you can't tell by the picture, I was having a little more trouble coming up with goals than usual. Usually I'm bursting with goals and To Do lists. But Manny's been gone for a few weeks now and I'm starting to lose motivation (which is bad because he's not even gone for real yet, just a short stint for training). Anyway, my point is that goals help me stay motivated and writing/sharing them here helps me stay more accountable. It would be really easy for me to turn into a blob on my couch until he gets home but that doesn't do anyone any good, especially me! So, without further adieu...

March Goals:
1. Workout 3x per week
2. Read 2 books
3. Complete 1 cross stitch project
4. Register for CSCS exam
5. Organize my closet
6. Buy new comforter/curtains/lamp shade for bedroom
7. Clean/organize bedroom
8. Organize Manny's closet
9. Continue fast food spending fast!
10. Analyze spending in my "other" category


Ok, I think that's plenty goals for one month. For someone who was having trouble coming up with goals, I sure seem to have a lot to do this month. Several of these pertain to house projects I really wanted to do while Manny's in training, which (yay!) is ending soon-ish so I'd better get moving!