Saturday, May 31, 2008

Photo Hunt - Self Portrait

Well, not exactly a self portrait. We're allowed to have a 'part' of our body as well. *grin*

This is my "new" wedding ring. I lost my first two. I know. It's pathetic.

This one will never come off my finger for as long as I live. It was my grandmother's and I got it after she died last November. It means SO much to me!

Friday, May 30, 2008

I Drive too Slow

Apparently I drive too slow. At least that is what the consensus appears to be at this time. Hubby gets annoyed when I drive and wants me to speed up - which is funny since he's a cop.

And when people get behind me, especially at a stop light, I can tell they're annoyed when I take a little longer to get up to speed than most.

But you know what?


This morning some yahoo was RIGHT on my butt. I could not see his headlights! I had just turned right onto a road and he turned from the other direction (he turned left) immediately after me and dang near hit me. Then he throws up his hands because I don't floor it and get up to 40 in 2 seconds.

Pardon me but I'd rather not waste my gas. He doesn't have to pay my bill does he?

I have been driving slower because gas is expensive and the slower you drive the more you save. I don't do jack rabbit starts and I take a little extra time to get up to speed - trying to keep the RPMs under 2 when I can (this doesn't work as well on the freeway ramps).

When there's no one behind me I might even drive 10-15 miles UNDER the speed limit. But I do get up to the speed limit when there is traffic on the road. People obviously aren't *that* concerned with the price of gas by the way they are driving.

The yahoo this morning finally passed me (and waved, which I thought was pretty funny) and sped off. I just thought, he must like paying for gas.

I get SO mad at hubby when he drives the truck and floors it. He says 'it's only gas' and I get even more annoyed. At $4.15 a gallon, and a truck that takes more than $100 to fill up, there is NO reason to drive aggressively.

Needless to say, I've been doing most of the driving lately. If only to conserve gas. When he drives our MPG dip down to 14.9 or 15 and when I do most of the driving they edge back up to 15.4+. I know it's pathetic but we got the truck for the dogs and need it to haul them and us around. Thankfully it's not a commuting truck. I drive my car, which gets at least 30 mpg and I try to use it for running errands too.

How are you working to save gas? Has your driving changed? Mine sure has!!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Are You Ready? The Next Frontier?

Via Instapundit, I found this article on "The Next American Frontier" fascinating. It focuses on Gen Y but I also think it applies to my generation.

Being a member of the so called Generation X, I fall into this weird in between culture. Generalizations are useful sometimes because they are "generally" true, but of course they can't apply to everyone in a group.

The generalization of Generation X includes:
  • Disaffectation with governance, a lack of trust in leadership, particularly institutional leadership
  • Rampant political apathy
  • Increase in divorce
  • Increase in mothers in the workplace
  • The zero population growth movement
  • Availability of birth control pills
  • Increase in educational variance
  • Decrease in educational funding and loan availability
  • Changed career options require more academic requirements and intellectual skill
  • Concerns on environmental destruction and ecological issues
  • Inception of the Internet
  • The end of the Cold War
I don't meet all of these definitions but I think many of them apply to my generation and those that follow. One thing that also defines "my" group is the ability to adjust and evolve to changing situations. Including a volatile economy.
"The economy will be much more volatile and much more competitive. In the continuous fervor to create new institutions, it will become increasingly difficult to sustain old ones. New political parties, new social groupings, thousands of new manias and movements and millions of new companies will pop up over the next few decades. Large corporations that don't figure out how to combine permanence with perpetual change will be swept away."
Most folks my age have had several different careers, many have worked for themselves or started their own business.
"An upcoming wave of new workers in our society will never work for an established company if they can help it. To them, having a traditional job is one of the biggest career failures they can imagine."
I don't know many who think that Social Security is a good thing, or that it will ever be around when they want to retire. And I think that most have many different skill sets. We are not bound to one company or one type of career. Flexibility is apparently the key for the future.
"Entire industries will die almost overnight, laying off thousands, while others will just as suddenly appear, hungry for employees. Continuity and predictability will become the rarest of commodities. And if the entrepreneurial personality honors smart failures, by the same token it has little pity for weakness."
Are you ready for the future? I believe we've been seeing this painful growing process occur throughout the last 10-15 years. I don't think that major unions and their political influence will continue. Manufacturing jobs have shrunk and continue to shrink. Many claim this is a "bad" thing but I think it is simply part of a changing economic environment.

Growth can be difficult and scary for those who refuse to adapt. I admit, I don't really love change. But change is a necessity of life. Those who fail to adjust will fail in life.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wordless Wednesday + Survey =Two Posts in One

What the Frick is a "Hammer Ruler" and who would actually use this???

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Russell Crow is HOT

I'm not that into cowboy movies. Hubby likes to watch old school ones and my grandpa really enjoys them too. Me not so much.

However I got 310 to Yuma through Netflix and I LOVE it. I'm a sucker for the bad guy. And Russell Crow does an incredible job as the outlaw Ben Wade. Ain't nuthin' sexier than a cowboy (and a bad boy cowboy). Especially one that can shoot.

I wish I could get hubby to wear a pair of wranglers. *grin*

I'm bummed that 'Dan' got killed but I started laughing and whooping when 'Ben' shot all his outlaw buddies. Ha! Freaking awesome. And then when he got back on the train and whistled for his horse. I giggled even more.

Definitely a rockin' movie. I think I may have to buy this one for grandpa.

HYC - Week One Update

Well, my first Healthy You challenge week went okay. The last few days I've not been doing so good food wise. But my activity level has been pretty high. Between agility training with Trooper and running around doing errands and cleaning house my legs have been pretty sore all week. And I've felt just exhausted. Even though I took two days off work and had a five day weekend.

I'm sure my weight is up a bit. I haven't weighed myself yet. But my jeans were super loose and falling off my hips.

However, the last three nights I've had ice cream. *sigh* Not only that but I didn't eat a lot during the day and then had big meals at night. If I ever do end up working from home I'm going to have to get on a set schedule like I have at work right now. My eating habits aren't as set when I'm home. :( And I seem to get so busy at home that I just forget to eat.

But things are going back to normal with work and my schedule. Falling back doesn't mean failure!

Monday, May 26, 2008

For the Love of Freedom

Today we remember those who defend our freedom with the ultimate sacrifice.

Naval men of the USS INTREPID are buried at sea, after being hit by Japanese bombs in the Philippines during World War II in 1944. Photo Credit: National Archives

Memorial Day originally celebrated as Decoration Day where the graves of those who fought in the Civil War were decorated with flowers in honor of their service.
The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic
It wasn't until 1971 that Congress finally declared an official Memorial Day holiday to remember all of those who fought and died in American wars.

Decorating a soldier's grave in one of the black-segregated sections of Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia. Photo Credit: National Archives

In World War II alone there were over 290,000 military members killed in battle. with another 114,000 dead by other means during the war. It's hard to imagine such a number in today's impatient world.

Friends and relatives mourn at the grave of a deceased soldier near
Jackson, Ky., in 1940. Photo Credit: National Archives

I thank God for ever single soldier, airman, sailor, and marine who gave their life to secure my freedom and the freedom of millions of people around the world. Their lives were not given in vain.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

More Adventures in Couponing

I think I took it to the next level this least for me. I've been learning a TON at Hot Coupon World, including how the Walgreens rebate program works. I rarely shopped at Walgreens before this week.

I got a free toothbrush and a pack of 4 light bulbs. For free! Actually plus 10% which is like getting paid to buy the products.

On top of that I got some great deals on some products that will get me some rebates back, plus 10% on a Walgreens gift card. My MIL needed some Tylenol Arthritis and they had them packaged up buy one get one free for $9.99 but they rang up as $6.99. And I had a $1 off coupon. So I got two bottles of Tylenol Arthritis for $5.99. And the $6.99 price counts toward a rebate.

Then I got 2 Walgreens brand "Tylenol" 150 count for $11.98. This brought my total to $18.97 and unfortunately I needed to spend $20 to get a $10 rebate. So I went back in and got two Icy Hot Gels for $9.73. Hubby uses it and my MIL needed it too. So I spent a total of $28.70 and will get $10 back in rebate. I saved more than $10 though with the items being on sale. And they're items we'll use.

And on top of that I bought a 16 pack of Duracell batteries - regularly $11.99, on sale for $8.99. Then I had two coupons totaling $1.55 off and I get a $3 rebate. So $4.44 for a 16 pack AA batteries.

But one of my favorite deals was on Old El Paso products. I had a coupon printed off for $1 off two products. Then I realized that they were on sale at Fred Meyer for 10/$10 ($1 each item). THEN I found a stick on coupon (the kind you peel off the product) for a free Old El Paso seasoning with two products purchased. So I got three Old El Paso products for a grand total of $1. *grin* I also snagged an extra peel off coupon and I still have on $1 off coupon. We'll definitely be having tacos in the next two weeks. :)

And on Thursday last week I too my MIL to Freddy's for her groceries and picked up a few things while I was there. Including a Spanking deal on hot dogs! They were regularly $2.99, on sale for $1.25 but I had a coupon to get them for $0.69 each!!!!!! That's $17.94 worth of hot dogs for $4.14 for a savings of $13.80.

Of course the hot dogs are for Trooper. I'm not going to eat them (they aren't the yummy all white turkey meat dogs...they're the gross pork, beef, and turkey kind) but he goes crazy for them during agility training. And they should last quite a while. I'm limiting him to three dogs per class, which makes 6 dogs a week. We'll go through those six packages in 8 weeks.

All in all it was a fairly successful shopping spree. I've still got a ton to learn about pairing up coupons with sale items and getting free things though. =)

I've Been Nominated!

It's an honor just to be nominated...but I'd like to win too. *grin*

At Nearly-Dr Ferox Trooper is in the running to be the new face of Dr Ferox's blog. Swing by and vote will ya? You don't *have* to vote for my baby boy if you don't want to. There are some awfully cute entries. I love the turtle. =)

And a follow up survey on celebrities endorsing candidates...

True Loves Kiss

Since I'm on vacation I decided to watch some of the movies that have been sitting here from Netflix. Including Enchanted. I'm such a little girl at heart. Fairy tale endings. True Love. Happily Ever After.

The Prince gets his lady, though not the one he thought he was after. The Princess becomes a fashion designer. With rats for help. That's clever. :) Oh, and she gets her True Love after rescuing him from the evil witch Queen. It's only fair. He did wake her from a deadly sleep with a kiss.

Seriously. I'm such a sucker for these movies. Yes, it's corny. If hubby were here he'd never watch it with me.

Be sure to suspend all reality when you watch this cute movie.

And so they all lived Happily Ever After.

The next two movies I will watch couldn't be more different. Wedding Crashers. And 310 to Yuma.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Photo Hunt Saturday - Shoes

I love these shoes but I can't wear them very often. Look at those heals! Too high for me. I am used to flats or 1 inch heals at the most. But these are just so cute that I suffer in them for fashion. =)

Visit Home Zookeeper to see my pet related version.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Learning a New Skill - Creating a Pendant

I had class on Wednesday night and learned how to properly create a setting for a cabochon. I probably could have figured out how to do it on my own but I learn a lot better if I see something being done while the instructions are spoken and then trying it myself. I don't learn very well by just reading instructions.

All the classes I take are from The Bead Factory. They have the best classes and instructors. I've been taking classes from them for more than three years now. This year I've already taken three classes and have two more scheduled, not including two classes scheduled at the big Puget Sound Bead Festival.

I love to learn new skills and improve old ones. Sometimes I discover that I am no good at a particular task - like resin. I even burned myself during that class.

But Wednesday night I was in heaven. I got to play with the Big Girl Torch, saw metal, and set a cab. I'm looking forward to trying this at home by myself.

You can see that I didn't do a perfect can see the seam around the stone. And I wanted more of a lip around the whole stone but I cut too close to the twisted wire and had to file the whole thing down.

I found this neat cotton necklace in the store and bought it because it matched really well. I also decided to antique the pendant after I got home.

My grandpa gave me some stones for my birthday and there's a large turquoise raw slab that I want to set ... if I ever get around to it I'll be sure to share. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's Your Birthverse?

Have you ever heard of such a thing? I was dropping Entrecards and visited one of my favorited blogs, Connected 2 Christ (she is very pregnant!) and she posted her birth verse. So I decided to look up mine.
Philippians 4:8 NIV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Isn't that AWESOME!!! I really like that this particular verse is my birth verse. I love it!

I Just Woke Up - and Another Conversation

Phew! I woke up at 10:30 today. *happy dance* I'm on vacation today through Monday. WOOHOO!!! And I have no plans. Hanging out around home, playing with jewelry, cleaning up and organizing, and of course playing with my doggies.

I had a late jewelry class last night and it was SOOO much fun. I can't wait to take photos of what I made and show you. =)

And another conversation from DNeero. I love these. This one is about the Presidency and Celebrities. I think celebrities need to just stick to what they do best - acting. Most know nothing about the real world. Though I do like Angelina Jolie and a couple others who get out of Hollywood and into the real world.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Customer Service Conversation Part 4

I think they're almost done with this Customer Service conversation. Phew! Part 4 is interesting though.

Don't you hate those annoying pop up surveys you get when visiting a site? I LOATHE them. If I want to take a survey I know where I can go online. There are dozens upon dozens of websites that will reward me for taking a survey.

A survey at the end of a purchase that isn't a pop up is okay. I don't mind answering how I enjoyed my experience (or didn't).

The worst is when I close out of a window and get another screen popping up. :( GRRR! I hate that with the passion of a thousand suns burning in the heavens forever. I wanted to leave so leave me alone!

Anyhoo...I promise promise promise to never install any stupid pop up ads or surveys here or on any of my other sites. EVER!

Are You Jealous?

A freelance writer, Gina, is conducting an informal study on women and jealousy. In order to get more responses for her I decided to do my very first survey here on my blog. :) Play along won't you?

Simply follow this link "Click Here to take survey" and answer 4 short questions. I will gather the results and send them to this writer. She is compiling the data for a national women's publication. Your personal/individual results will not be shown or known.

FUN!!! =D

12 Weeks - 17 Pounds - 1 New Lifestyle

A little over 12 weeks ago I started the Fit Yummy Mummy challenge (the next one starts in the fall). Though I'm not technically a "mummy" (at least of human children) I had finally lost patience with my own lifestyle and eating habits. I had ballooned to 184 pounds - 44 pounds heavier than when I married my hubby 5+ years ago and 84 pounds heavier than when I graduated high school 12 years ago.

Admitting the Problem
Some of you might say, 184 is thin! What's the big deal? Well, it was a big deal. I kept having to buy bigger and bigger clothes and was nearly stretching out size 14 pants. I couldn't comfortably cross my legs or sit comfortably like I used to.

Not only that, but I knew my eating habits were unsustainable. I would literally eat two pints of Ben & Jerry's on a Friday night. After I had my pizza of course.

Meals on the weeknights weren't that much better. Lots of pastas, breads, and always dessert. If I had two veggies in an entire week I was doing "good."

Exercise had become a rare occurrence. Before I got married I was going to the gym every day. I still wasn't in great shape but I was able to eat pretty much anything I wanted without gaining a ton every week. Of course getting married, and becoming busier in general, made the workouts disappear.

I joined Weight Watchers twice - there were meetings at my work during lunch time. I lost 10 or 15 pounds each time and gained 20 or 30 later. And I was always hungry.

And yes, my marriage did suffer as I gained weight. Hubby gained weight too but of course it never seems to matter so much for men. Though he has lost weight with me the last three months.

May of last year in Maui. An embarrassing 170+ pounds. :(

Finally, I read a post by Holly of Fit Yummy Mummy and started crying. I had lost control and had to start over. I was never taught how to eat properly. My father died when I was 8 and my mom did the best she could, but she struggled with her own weight. She tried every diet out there and at her heaviest was over 300 pounds. Eating to cure all pain was typical. Boredom, depression, anxiety - all were addressed with some food.

I would come home from school in middle and high school and make a box of mac and cheese for dinner. And follow it up with some ice cream or candy. Since I was so athletic I was still skinny as a rail with a quick metabolism.

As I entered the workforce and started sitting more and playing sports less I started to gain weight. It wasn't so bad when I gained the first 20 pounds because I actually looked healthier and less anorexic.

But my eating habits never changed - from high school to college to marriage. A box of macaroni and cheese was often my favorite dinner. Spirals were my choice. =) Dessert was every night. Driving through Wendy's, Burger King, and Arby's were common occurrences.

A couple of years I finally switched to Diet Soda from regular. I had been drinking two or three regular (and often caffeinated) sodas every day. Afterward I drank up to 5 diet sodas every day. Although I've always been a big water drinker so I got a lot of liquids.

Finding a Solution
Which brings me to my first Tuesday post for the Healthy You Challenge 2008. While I did finish the 12 week FYM challenge I do not want to stop. I didn't do this as a "diet" or a quick fix. This is a LIFESTYLE change.

I won't post my before and after photos just yet. I'd rather have a better after photo. I'm certainly not where I want to be yet. However I will post my before and after stats.

On February 12th -
  • I weighed 184 pounds.
  • My waist was 40 inches.
  • My chest was 40 inches.
  • My thighs were 27 inches each.
On May 19th -
  • I weighed 167 pounds.
  • My waist was 39 inches.
  • My chest was 38 inches.
  • My thighs were 25.5 inches each.
It might not seem like a huge drop in inches but my pants are definitely looser and I'm even having to use a safety pin to hold up a few pairs! Plus I measured myself on the 19th after a fairly decent meal. So I may have been a little bloated.

I will continue to follow the FYM plan (which I highly recommend...Holly is fantastic. I'll write more in detail about this later). I need to hop back on the exercise wagon as the last couple of weeks have seen a slight slide. Especially in resistance training.

This is a really long post. But I do want to continue my success in changing my lifestyle and my habits. I'll talk about some of the things I've changed in the last three months and some of the challenges I'm still struggling with. I'm glad to have entered this new Challenge.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Coupon Savings - Week Three

I had SO much fun today!!! Seriously I had some awesome coupons and saved quite a bit. Of course, I spent most of those savings at Costco, but I'm still thrilled!

My best deal - I had two coupons for a DVD at Fred Meyer totaling $7 off. I found I Am Legend, regular $19.99 on sale for $16.99. I saved $10! And got the movie for $10. =) Happy Camper I am!

Then they had Sirloin Steak family packs on sale for $2.88 a pound. I don't eat steak - I've never liked it. But hubby and MIL love it. So I got over 3.5 pounds for $10.45 saving $5.84. I also saved $2 on a Natural Beef steak that hubby will love.

I don't need a new razor right this second but I do need one soon. And the paper had two coupons for a razor and a refill pack. Plus both the razor and refill were on sale. I saved a total of $6 on the two.

And I finally got my almonds using the rain check from last week. I saved $5.10 on nearly two pounds of almonds. That should last me a couple of weeks (I really love almonds).

My MIL is staying with me this week while hubby is away for a conference. She loves pizza and I found a coupon for a brand new DiGiorno Foccia pizza. Normal price is $7.09 and it was on sale for $5.99 at Fred Meyer. Then I had a $1 off coupon. So I saved $2.10 and it will be dinner for us one night this week (plus lunch with left overs).

Total savings at Fred Meyer (with coupons and sale items) = $43.12

I then headed out to Costco because I was almost out of Laughing Cow Cheese. It's such a great deal there than buying them individually at the store. It's $8.29 for four of them and they can be anywhere from $3 to $5 a piece at the store. I also ended up buying some things that weren't necessary but ... yeah.

I bought two books and two pairs of shorts. The only pair of shorts I have that fit me are a pair that hubby doesn't fit into. So sad. So I bought two pairs...each less than $20.

I did have coupons and saved $9.25 on coupons. Plus I had my Costco rebate check for $34.75. So I saved a total of $44. Pretty much the cost of my shorts. And the books pretty much ate up my savings from Fred Meyer. So I'm not going to transfer anything to my ING account this week. But it's nice to have two new books and some new shorts. :) I haven't bought myself new clothes in AGES.

Next week Macy's is having their Memorial Day sale and I have a gift card. I know what I'll be doing! =D

Dang It...Why the Dogs?

Why do they have to kill the dogs in movies? We're watching I Am Legend and damn it! I was having a perfectly wonderful day. Why didn't anyone warn me that the dog has to freaking get infected and die!?!?!?!?!?! I am SO pissed. I am beyond pissed. I don't need help being depressed. Crying is not healthy for me! And I react way too emotionally to movies (and TV, commercials, and even books).

I was SO already attached to Sam (the dog). And they go and kill her off. Damn them.

What a freaking depressing ass movie. =(

Of course it isn't over yet. But at the moment he's talking to a manican and begging it to say hello to him. For Pete sake.

I'm blaming my cousin Logan. He said it was a good movie. Then again he probably didn't cry when the doggy had to die.

Oh great...HE is the cure. And of course the monsters want to kill him. Sheesh. Of all the insane things. What happened to the happy freaking ending???

At least she believed in God. And God led her to the survivors.

I won't be watching this movie again. I do NOT need to cry. And I will cry again. Just thinking about the dog ... oh jeez...there I go again.

Camera Critters

I missed last week's Camera Critters and I probably need to post this on my other blog too. :)

My Quinnie girl lounging in the back yard. I'm so happy that she got to run and run and run on Thursday. She proved that she's still got lots of life left in her. Now if we could get some of those fat rolls off of her.

Have a happy and relaxing Sunday.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt - Candy

I have the perfect photos for today's Photo Hunt!

My Christmas Cookie adventures from Christmas. =) They have CANDY decorations. I love making Christmas Cookies.

Have a Great Saturday!

Friday, May 16, 2008

IRS Rebate Check Scam - BEWARE

Just read an excellent warning post from My Investment Blog about some losers trying to scam you out of your money. BEWARE!!!

Another Customer Service Conversation - Part 3

I really like doing these surveys, especially the ones about customer service.

I am not sure about the question regarding who I'd rather complain to, a woman or a man. I don't really care. If I have a serious complaint I'll talk to anyone. But I picked man because I generally do have an easier time relating to men. Why is that?

And I actually did have a question to add to the conversation (a new requirement for finishing the surveys).

Does it matter to you if a sales person gets a commission off of their sales? Does it change the way you think about their service to you? Do you trust their answers less or more?

Is Your Dog Green?

Because mine is...or he was last night. Read all about our adventures over at my new animal-centric blog Home Zookeeper. We had a grand time. {insert sarcasm here} I am not a hot weather person. My head still hurts. :(

But it's Friday so I'm definitely happy. Hubby works tonight so the house is mine...all mine! And what will I do with this freedom? Laundry.

Yes, laundry. While I can generally go over a week without needing to wash clothing, it's been almost two and things are looking pretty pathetic around our house. I've been feeling very domestic as well lately. I made bran muffins again (they didn't turn out as good - I think because I used more whole wheat and a different type of sugar) and have plans to try two new recipes that I've never done before. I am not sure what is wrong with me (no I am not pregnant and nesting!) but this is definitely not like me.

I was chatting with my good friend Jennifer Casady. We were both raised to be strong, independent females. My mom always told me that I had to learn to depend on myself and not rely on a man. She didn't say it out of meanness or some supreme feminist anger. She wanted to make sure that I could take care of myself. My dad died when I was 8 years old, leaving my mother, at the age of 34, to take care of two kids by herself. Which she was able to do because she had prepared to take care of herself and not rely on having my dad around forever. So I get it.

And I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. It's just that I'm not so sure that I really want to be a "working" woman outside of the home for much longer. Which is such a foreign thought to me. There's never been a question in my mind for as long as I've lived that I would go to school and get a job that would become my career. But there is this gnawing aching feeling that I just want to stay home. There are SO many things that I want to work on - organizing the house, designing jewelry, volunteering. Things that I cannot do because of my job.

Hubby wants things both ways. He wants me to cook and clean and take care of the house. But he also wants me to go to work and bring home a paycheck. Sorry mister. Can't have your cake and eat it too.

It will be at least two years before I actually do anything about this desire and who knows, by that time it might be gone. But right now I really want to be home doing laundry (is that sick or what?!).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Do You Tip No Matter What?

I sure don't. I'm very concerned with good customer service and do not feel that tips are "required" or automatic. My brother is a waiter at a Sushi restaurant and I know how important tips are. But you know what? He works his A*S off. And unfortunately is required to share his tips with the other waiters who are total slackers. He's picking up their slack and it's really too bad. He doesn't mind sharing his tips with the cooks but definitely doesn't like the fact that his tips, for his hard work, help the slackers who don't get the best tips.

Anyway, I started thinking about this because of another blog I read about Dining Out Frugally Without Stiffing on the Tip.

I admit, we eat out too much. We both work full time and sometimes it's just too much effort to cook at home. Though we've really cut down on the number of times we eat out - it used to be three or four times a week and now it's more like 2 or 3 times a month. Okay...maybe 4 or 5 times. And until recently we've never used coupons or tried to be frugal.

Most of the time we order food to go and eat at home. Hubby is not super social and doesn't really like to stay out in public any more than necessary (part of the downside of being a cop I guess).

I never know if we're supposed to tip when picking up food. Sometimes it just depends on my mood. And when I do tip when picking up it usually isn't a big tip. Is that bad? Seriously. Tell me because I honestly just never know.

The few times we go out to eat and stay at the restaurant I expect good service. That includes a friendly wait staff but not annoyingly friendly. I don't want their life story. I expect our drink order to be taken quickly and filled quickly (or within a reasonable time if it's busy). If our food is going to be awhile I don't blame the wait staff but I expect communication as to when we might expect our meal. As well as refills on our drinks if it is going to be that long.

Sometimes our food arrives and then we are abandoned. The wait person doesn't check back and seems to expect us to eat and leave. That is not good service. Don't hover, but check in on us to see if we need anything else and refill our drinks. Offer us dessert and then bring us the check.

I don't think my expectations are unreasonably high. If service meets my basic requirements I generally tip around 15-16% (because it's really easy to just double the tax which is around 8%). If service is really great, like the waiter at my birthday celebration, I'll tip more than 25%. Because good service should be rewarded.

I really hate when restaurants automatically add on a mandatory tip. While I understand their logic (big parties require more attention) I disagree with it. Big parties to me are no different than several smaller parties. Rather than servicing four different parties, the waiter gets to focus on one big table. I don't think it's fair to require a tip amount. What if the service sucked? I've actually argued with management when the service was sub-par to have the required tip removed.

Not only that, I don't like to be told how much to tip. What if I wanted to tip a lot more? I generally will tip over the 15% if the service was fabulous. But let ME decide that.

What do you think? Do you always tip? Even if service is horrible?

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

Okay, I hate the term "human rights" because it can stand for so many random things. (Nor do I generally take Amnesty International very seriously.)

But in this case I signed up as one of the many bloggers uniting to bring voice to the voiceless. It ticks me off to know that Google & Yahoo work with the Chinese government to censor the internet and imprison people. I can't stand the fact that the Burmese (Myanmar, whatever) Junta is taking aid to help the military and not the people. I cannot fathom not being able to speak my mind - as a woman and as a person - if I lived in such an oppressive place as Iran.

I do not agree with the statement on Bloggers United about Guantanamo Bay though. That particular issue is not about 'human rights' it's about a nation being able to protect itself and imprison terrorists (so defined even by the Geneva convention...they are non-uniformed combatants). I do NOT agree that any of the detentions are "illegal" as claimed by AI.

But the crisis in Darfur is absolutely a true crisis of human rights. As well as the horrid situation in Zimbabwe.

The right to life. To liberty. Those are human rights. No government should infringe upon them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

National Peace Officers' Memorial Day - May 15

Did you know that this week is National Police Week?

Our law enforcement officers risk their lives every day to protect us. They sacrifice time with family due to weird schedules and unexpected overtime.

Please take time this week to thank an officer. Or write a letter of thanks to your local police department. Trust me when I tell you that it will be extremely appreciated and probably posted on their bulletin board. :) I've read some incredible thank you letters in the State Patrol newsletter that goes out. It really does make a difference - such a small thing.

My hubby worked his tail off to become an officer. I was so proud to attend his graduation ceremony so many years ago. He endures the shift changes (which are SO incredibly hard on his body), the mandatory overtime (he can't predict when a crash will occur or that he'll catch a drunk driver 5 minutes before his shift ends), working holidays (I can only remember two Christmases that he's had off in 8 years), and unexpected call outs (he's on the riot team). Not to mention when he has to work a fatality - I can't imagine the psychological pressure that creates. I just try to help in any way I can.

He loves his job. And I love him.

Cops are not perfect. They are human beings with all the flaws and faults. They have bad days just like everyone else. We hear about crooked cops on the news all the time but in reality those bad seeds are in the minority. The majority of officers are good people who work hard - for you and for me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Doggies and Pets Get a New Home

Well, it's happened. I've gone and lost my ever lovin' mind.

Since I don't have enough things to keep track of online I've started a NEW blog!!! OMG. Someone stop me!

Home Zookeeper

Ha! The good news is that it's going to be dedicated to animals. Which is great because I love love love animals. Plus my doggies will be their own superstars. I've got all kinds of ideas lined up for posts.

Of course the new blog is in Word Press and I've never used it before. So that will be a new hurdle and learning curve. I won't be doing anything fancy until I get the hang of it. And I want to get a new banner designed.

The new blog is part of the 451 Press network where I was accepted as a writer recently. Which was super exciting in and of itself. I was approved!!! :)

The blog was once written by another person, named Lynn and there is some great content there already that you may enjoy. I'm looking forward to making it "mine" and sharing with everyone. 'Cause I'm nothing if not an open book.

I hope you will all come visit me and my crazy pets! Stop by, look around, leave me some comments, and if you're interested book mark our new animal home. =)

Have You Joined Posh Mama?

Are you a Posh Mama? No need to be an actual momma - anyone of the female persuasion can be a posh mama.

Posh Mama is made up of women from all around the world from all walks of life. Members range in age from 20 years old to 80 years old! Posh Mamas are CEO's, Students, SAHM's, Artists, Designers, WAHM's, Models, Authors, Mompreneurs, etc.

I've been a member of PM for ages...almost since it first started (one of the first 100 members) and it just keeps growing and changing in incredible ways. Posh Mama Online Magazine and Social Network is a positive and upbeat community. You will feel immediately welcomed as it is the sweetest spot on the 'net.

Join me on Posh Mama! :)

Wordless Wednesday on a Tuesday - I'd Rather Be Here

Monday, May 12, 2008

Grocery Savings - Part II

Since my weekend regular schedule got thrown off with our Mother's Day activities I left work an hour early so hubby and I could head to the grocery store. Although he generally ends up adding at least $50 to the bill, I think I managed to hold down the costs this time. ha!

Fred Meyer has their pretty awesome rewards program - every dollar earns a point and at the end of the quarter they send coupons for cash off. No minimum or restrictions. I earned $15 in coupons last quarter. It's amazing how much two people can spend on groceries (especially when buying organic).

So right off the bat I have $15 off. I also got coupons for $2 off the meat department and $2 off produce. I got my apples pretty much for free this week. Three pounds of my favorite Fuji apples for $0.63!!!! They were on sale for $0.88 a pound and then I had my coupon. SO awesome! We saved $3.86.

The Kashi cereal that we eat was 40% off. That is huge because it is regularly $4.49 a box and hubby can seriously eat 2 boxes a week. I bought 5 boxes - 3 of his and 2 of mine. I just felt weird buying any more than that even though they are good until 2009 so stocking up with more would probably have been good. With the 5 that I bought we saved $8.40.

The sales this week at Fred Meyer are INSANE. Besides Kashi, they also had buy one get one free on whole chickens and they were only $1.59 a pound. So I saved $7.38 - two full chickens for around $8. Woohoo! We put them in the freezer and will probably smoke one of them.

Yogurt was also on sale. We bought 10 for $5 and I had a coupon for $0.50 off. So I saved $3.20.

Raw almonds were on sale big time. I have encorporated almonds into my daily diet and absolutely love them. They're expensive though - even in bulk. Regularly around $7 a pound and they were on sale for $3.99. And guess what? They were COMPLETELY out. Not a single almond left. So I got a rain check because I really didn't feel like going back later this week. I don't usually ask for rain checks. :)

They also had a coupon for $.99 butter! That is a savings of $3 each (limit of four so a potential savings of $12!!!). There was only one box left so I grabbed it and asked for a rain check for the other three. For this trip I saved $3.

I may have mentioned that I am totally addicted to Soda. Thankfully I've switched to diet but it's insanely expensive and has jumped up in price a ton in the last year. Fred Meyer's regular price is $8.29 for a twelve pack!

They were on sale this week 4/$12 plus there was a coupon for $3 off. I saved $24.16 on four 12 packs!!!!!

Since I've gotten it in my head that I can cook (I'm sure I'll get over this) I decided that I needed a couple more mixing bowls. I really don't have that many. One or two and they used to be my great grandmothers. FM had buy two get one free on Pyrex bowls so I got a cute little set of custard bowls (I like these for mixing frosting in colors and other smaller mixing needs) and two 2.5 quarter bowls and saved $5.99.

Fresh sockeye salmon was on sale from $9.99 to $5.99 so I got a nearly two pound fillet, with my $2 coupon, for $9.50 for a total savings of $9.68.

I also decided last week to switch from pre-made juice in a carton to frozen juice and make it myself at home. I got 5 frozen cans of 100% juice for $5 - saving $2.15.


So, with all the other small sale items and coupons, for this week's trip we saved...Holy Cow! $82.82!!! WOW! That's more than twice what I saved last week.

Granted, it was still an expensive trip. It was around $132 for everything. And I'd add $25 at least for hubby. He's always throwing things in the cart that I'd never buy - like beer. ha!

So I didn't feel so guilty buying Mexican food. I even had a coupon for that!!! I know. I'm obsessed.

Happy Monday Morning!

Wow...that weekend sure does fly by. I even forgot to participate in the fun Camera Critter's photo meme on Sunday. It was a bit busy yesterday. While I love visiting with family and celebrating holidays like Mother's day, it does throw me off my routine.

Routine is very important to me. I do not like sudden changes of plans or variance from an already scheduled event. My weekends are fairly uniform. Friday I like to come home after work and prepare any jewelry orders while I watch TV. Saturday morning I prefer to sleep in at least a little bit and run to the farmer's market. If I don't get groceries on Saturday I do so after Agility lessons on Sunday.

Why is it that I can drag my carcass out of bed for agility and not for church? I do feel slightly guilty about that since I haven't been to church in ... oh let's see ... ages! Like years. Part of the problem is that I have to go by myself and I hate that. And my church is 30 minutes away. Agility is only 10. Obviously that is a really bad excuse.

Anyway, yesterday I took Trooper to agility and had SO much fun. Even though it rained on us outside on the course. He's doing SOOOOO amazing and I want to ask the trainer how long we'll have to train before we can actually do a competition. I expect her to say at least one year but we'll see.

And now, another 'conversation' ... Part II of Customer Service Expectations.

Have a Happy week!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

To all those with the two legged non-furry children I wish you a very Happy Mother's Day.

To all those with the furry four legged children I wish the same! :) We count too right? I'm a mama of my doggies and kitties.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Survey Conversation - Customer Service

I PRIDE myself on my customer service. I think it is supremely important that small businesses do everything possible to distinguish themselves from the 'big boys' and box stores. Plus I want everyone who purchases my jewelry to be happy and satisfied. People who have a good experience are more likely to tell others and come back later. But most importantly, I treat people how I expect to be treated and I have very high standards.

Photo Hunt Saturday - My Choice

Yay! I get to pick any photo for today's hunt.

Hubby and I went to the local nursery last week. Gerber Daisies are one of my favorite flowers.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Interesting Happenings - Week of 5/5/08

Raisins of Mild Inconvenience - best line ever!

Taxing iPod downloads?!? Insanity!

Domestic Abuse is wrong - even when a man is the victim.

No Knock Raids - I keep reading these stories and since I don't know any crooked cops I find it so hard to fathom this kind of abuse. I do wish the people commenting in the article weren't so loose to throw around "cops" as a generalized negative term. So many cops are GOOD people and doing hard work. Those who allow this kind of travesty of justice should be dealt with appropriately.

More Militarized style raids by police - results in a dead officer and destroyed family. I don't know who to believe in this case but it's sad regardless. I don't tend to side on the side of the accused but this case might deserve it.

More Coupon Clipping & Savings Sites to check out...I'm on a roll here.
The Coupon Mom
Coupon Tips and Tricks
Consumerism Commentary

Did the Earth once have multiple moons???

What a novel idea? I contribute money and that is my balance! "...Personal Saving Account plan would transfer a significant part of Social Security payments to a Personal Security Account system in which the amount of benefits would directly reflect the amount of contributions..." Duh.

Politicizing GI Benefits - not cool. A new/revised GI Bill should be a stand alone piece of legislation. Argue the other issues out later. Idiots. Our soldiers, airmen, marines, and all armed forces personnel deserve better.

Push Presents - Seriously? Please tell me none of you required a gift after giving birth!!!

A government agency runs into complications? I'm shocked! Shocked I say! Direct Deposits of those stimulus checks may be delayed.

Why we need to vaccinate.

Since when does the US have 57 states??? Me thinks someone is a wee bit tired...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Go Boom Boom Fall Down

Ouch. I am not 16 anymore. Tonight just reminded me of that fact.

We had agility again and Trooper was doing excellent, of course. We were doing a Chute, Jump, Jump run and at the first jump I feel my foot sort of hit an uneven patch of ground and my leg sticks and I start to wobble, shake, and try to catch myself.

Nope. About my third stumble I give up trying to stay righted and down I go. I literally tumbled. And I laid there for a few seconds, the wind knocked out of me, trying to assess the damage.

It brought tears to my eyes, not necessarily because I was in a ton of pain, but the shock of it all. The trainer came over and I pushed up off the ground and limped over to Trooper, who had finished the run. GOOD BOY! =)

And now my entire body HURTS. My neck, my hip (an old injury), and the back of my thigh.

As my husband so kindly pointed out - it's supposed to be Agility Training. Not fall down on your butt training.

har har.

I'm a Television Junkie - So What?

Yes, I am addicted to TV. What's your point?

And two of my favorite shows are being renewed for second seasons. WOOHOO!!!

I'm not a sci-fi junkie but I love the show Eureka and I've been wondering what was going to happen since the first season ended. Looks like they're filming now.

Another show that I scoffed at when I initially saw the commercials is Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles. However, after hearing great reviews from Instapundit, I decided to give it a chance and I LOVED it! And it's been renewed too. *HAPPY DANCE*

Now if Psych would hurry up and start new shows I'd be super happy.

My favorite's a long list.
  • House
  • Bones
  • CSI (the original one only)
  • Law & Order SVU
  • Psych
  • Eureka
  • Sarah Connor Chronicles
  • Criminal Minds (just recently discovered this one and have ordered the first two seasons on Netflix)
  • Moonlight (sexiest vampire since Angel!)
  • Las Vegas (not sure where this one has gone)
  • The Big Bang Theory (geeks are funny)
  • The Office
  • Chuck (come back!!! I miss this one!)
  • Aliens in America (hilarious!)

Favorite Reality Shows (or at least the ones that I am addicted to)
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • Beauty & the Geek
  • America's Next Top Model
  • Farmer Wants a Wife (it's freaking hilarious!)
  • Survivor (of course!)
  • What Not to Wear
  • Deadliest Catch (Sig is HOT!)
  • Lockdown (hubby got me hooked on this one)
  • Dog Whisperer
And lest you think those are the only shows I watch...the History channel and other learning channels are also on frequently.

I even watch reruns -
  • Seinfeld (can never see these too many times)
  • Friends (I practically have them memorized)
  • Everybody Loves Raymond
  • King of Queens
  • Home Improvement (takes me back to my childhood)
  • Frasier
  • Mad About You (haven't seen these anywhere lately)
Issues? Um. Yes. Absolutely. I can't be at home without having the TV on somewhere in the house. Sometimes I turn all three TVs on so that when I go from one room to another it's on. Sad, I know. That's usually when I'm home alone though. Hubby hates when I do that. But when he's not home it's too quiet.

What's your favorite TV show? Or are you one of those amazing and crazy people with no TV? I can't even comprehend that. However, I don't want my future children to be as nuts as me so somehow I'm going to have to cut back. Maybe that's why we haven't had kids yet. LOL =)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A New Survey - Now Called Conversations

I don't know why they made a change in their system. I thought it was working fine the way it was.

Anyhoo...I think the "stimulus" checks are a stupid idea but will take any amount of money that was mine to begin with back. I doubt we'll spend it though. Maybe on the new tires I need for my car.

Did you know that on an all wheel drive car you can't replace just one tire?!? I was so ticked about that. You have to replace all four because all the tires have to have the same tread or it messes with the transmission. Who's dumb idea was that?

Yes, I need all new tires because ONE of my tires got a flippin' nail it in the other day. And it was unrepairable. Stupid nail.

Staying Together - Fighting for Life

Update: Sentenced To Die Friday AM!!! :(

This sweet duo deserves a second chance. Can you help them?

HoundsGood is sending out the call to find a no-kill rescue or a home so that these two can stay together. Look at that face!!! The girl is on the right and I just want to hug her.

Their time is "up" on Friday. Please spread the word!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Digging for Clams

Grocery Savings - Week One

I don't know if I'll post about all my savings adventures but since this was my first time in years really trying to use coupons I thought it would be fun to share.

First I started out by printing coupons directly from and Mommy Gets Paid (there's a little overlap but I did find some different ones on MGP). It took less than 5 minutes to find the coupons and get them printed out. I really like that lets you print all the coupons on one page instead of one per page.

Then I started my grocery list and identified which items I had coupons for. I printed out some coupons that I knew I wasn't going to use on Sunday but will use them later. I don't know how often the coupon offerings change so I wanted to have them just in case. They don't expire until June.

On Sunday morning after agility training with Trooper I stopped at the corner store and bought a paper. I don't read the paper and think it's pretty much a rag but Sunday coupons are worth $1.50. Again I didn't find a ton that I would use for this trip but will use later.

And then I was off! I left around 1 p.m. and was home around 3 p.m. That's pretty much the same length it normally takes me to get our groceries. Plus I went to two stores.

At Top Foods their receipt tells me exactly how much I saved with coupons as well as the On Sale items. I saved a total of $24.88 with coupons and sales. The best deal was the Darigold butter. It is normally$3.99 and was on sale for 2/$5 and I had a coupon for 2/$4. I bought two even though we don't need them right now. They are in the freezer. :)

Tomatoes were on sale - regularly $2.99 a pound - for $1 a pound! I don't even eat tomatoes but hubby likes them.

Even organic milk was on sale...though some of you will cringe at the price. Ready? :) I normally get one full gallon but the half gallons were on sale for $2.99 each. I know. It's expensive but organic milk is something that I pretty much insist on nowadays. It's regularly $3.49 each half gallon.

Hubby's cereal was hugely on sale. It's normally more than $5 per box (Kashi Strawberry Fields) but Top had it on sale for 2/$7. That's a $3 savings for two right there. And I bought two because he goes through it fast.

One thing that for some reason totally slipped my mind is that I do NOT have to buy premade juice. Duh! Of course I did this time but next time I'm going to get the frozen and make it myself. As Tonni points out it will save me over $1,000 a year!!! Holy Crap!

Next I ran to Fred Meyer because I had several really great coupons - $3 off a meat department purchase and $3 off a seafood purchase. I got a pound of Roast Beef for $2!!!!!! It was normally $7.99, on sale for $5.99 and then my coupon. We're having yummy French Dip Sandwiches this week (on whole wheat buns - never seen those before and I got the last bag).

I also got some fresh cod for about the same price - actually only $1.81 for a whole pound. It's in the freezer now and we'll have it this week or next.

One of my coupons was for $1 off three C&W frozen vegetables. They were not on sale at Top Foods but Fred Meyer had them 2/$4, regularly $2.59 each. So that's 3 for $5.

And since hubby was having his endoscopy thing today I got him a piece of cake - for FREE - with another coupon.

So at Fred Meyer I saved over $13 for a grand total of $38 savings on our groceries.

I'm so proud of myself. It really didn't take any extra time - maybe 15 total to really sit down and think about what we needed plus printing and cutting the coupons.

What's your favorite savings deal? And it can't be 30% off from your favorite jeweler. *giggle* =)

Saturay - Stamp Out Hunger

Mark your calendars! This coming Saturday, May 10th, in the U.S. the National Association of Letter Carriers with USPS will be collecting non-perishable food items for their annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

Place your food donation at your mailbox on May 10th before your letter carrier arrives and the food will be delivered to local food banks. No expired items or glass containers though.

I did this last year and had so much extra food that we just did not need that I had to drive my donation to our post office. There was no way to leave it all out for our postal lady. Plus I think it was raining...boxed goods and rain do not mix.

Ideas for food to donate:
  • Canned Soup
  • Canned Meats and Fish
  • Pasta
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Cereal
  • Rice
  • Canned Milk
I tend to always buy more than we need, especially when things are on sale so this is the perfect opportunity to clean out our shelves and help others. :) Especially now-a-days when food banks are so low on supplies. Things always seem to fill up around the holidays but folks still need to eat during the rest of the year. =)

Sunny Lucas Dancing Fool

If you haven't discovered Sunny Lucas yet, you are so missing out. She gets my vote for president as well. She is so multi-talented and here she expresses her mad dancing skills.

Sunny Lucas in the Ring of Fire from Rachel Lucas on Vimeo.

Seriously. How could you not want Sunny as your president???

Six More Days - Celebrating Mom

A Gift for Mom at

Karen at Write From Karen has started a contest. So I'm entering because it is a good one. And we're supposed to spread the word!

What my mom means to me...
I don't tell her very often because it's just not me to be overly loving (I didn't like to be held even as a kid) but I do appreciate my mom and everything she did for me (and still does!).

My dad worked during the day and my mom worked nights at the hospital (she is a Registered Nurse). She did the yard work and he did the cooking. When I was 8 my father died from cancer. He was 36 years old and my mom was 34...and now a single parent.

She used to tease me and my brother that she deserved gifts on mother's day AND father's day. We never bought into that theory. Heh.

It was difficult being a single mother. She moved us closer to our grandparents (still an hour away) and aunts and uncles. With the insurance money she bought a nice house in a nice neighborhood and started working. She worked part time for as long as I can remember. She always took the first day of school off so she could see us off and be home when we were done.

Her goal was to make sure that we didn't want for anything and I think she felt guilty that we didn't have a dad. She took us on trips that my dad probably would NEVER have allowed (he was super cheap and wouldn't have wanted to pay for them LOL). I got to go to Japan twice. She took me to Washington DC which I loved - I was a nerd even then. We went with my grandparents and dug sapphires in Montana when I was in 3rd grade (right after my dad passed away) and it was so fun. I remember sleeping in the camper as the sheet lightning surrounded us. It was incredible!

My mom always seemed to make it to my softball games. I played softball from third grade to twelfth grade. I loved (and still love) fast pitch softball. And even though it didn't seem like such a big deal at the time, after all I was an aloof teenager, having my mom there was really important.

I don't remember ever being embarrassed of my mom. She always would say "I know you're embarrassed to be seen with me" but I have no idea where she got that idea. I actually liked hanging out with her even when I was a teenager. And even today she's one of the few people I hang out with.

Being strict was part of her method of raising my brother and me. If I was even one minute late I got grounded. I had to call her if I was ever going to go anywhere she didn't expect (i.e. to a friend's after school). I even signed a contract that was taped to the fridge - it said that I could get a job at KFC as long as my grades didn't fall and I started paying my own car insurance. We both signed it at the bottom.

I'm glad she was so strict. And I'm thankful that she is my mom.

Karen...I think I made it past the 250 word requirement. hee hee

Monday, May 5, 2008

Never Heard of It - Canna Flower

I have never even heard of this flower. I was hoping that I was a tulip or a hydrangea. But the description of me...pretty spot on.

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

"You stand up for what you believe in, even if it gets in the way of what other people think. You are proud of yourself and your accomplishments and you enjoy letting people know that."

Well, except for that part about letting people know that. I am proud of my accomplishments but I don't think I brag about them. Except to my mom. That's what moms are for. And...I definitely stand up for what I believe in regardless of what anyone else thinks. It gets me in trouble sometimes. And I don't care. LOL !!! =D

Saving is Fun!

I debated with about whether or not I should write about saving money on my blog. After all, I want you to all go to my jewelry shop and spend, spend, spend. :)

But I would be remiss if I didn't share the thoughts in my mind, especially since this new endeavor of mine has really started to grow.

I got my first credit card at the age of 18. For the first few months I was very careful and paid everything off. Then I got a Macy's (back then it was The Bon Marche) card, a Mervyn's card, a Target card, and a JC Pennies card. After a couple of years I'd wracked up some hefty bills, though nothing as bad as some horror stories I've read.

At the height of my credit card debt I think I was around $5,000 (this doesn't include car, student loans, and now home debt). When I got married we bought a house and both had several credit cards. We finally made the decision to refinance our (fairly newly purchased) house in order to pay off our credit card debt, install new windows, and install a new fireplace (to replace the horrible gas furnace sitting in the living room).

And we kept the debt off for awhile. We still used the credit cards and for some time kept them paid off in full. But of course it is easier and easier to pay with credit. So we refinanced again and paid them all off. Again. *sigh* And I started to notice that our balances are slowly creeping up again every month.

Needless to say we have not been supremely smart with our money in the past few years. Hubby has the mentality that we make it so we should spend it. He wants the latest and greatest toys and wants to "enjoy" life (as he puts it). I am more like my father. I like to save. But I also am my mother's daughter and when the urge strikes I can spend with the best of them. I decided that we really need to take a concerted effort to do more to save our money and build up our emergency fund.

Entrecard has led to new discoveries for me. And it may just lead to a new lifestyle. I have found some amazing blogs out there that focus on savings and reducing debt.

Some Favorites and Daily Reads:
Through these blogs I've discovered new and interesting ways to save and earn a few extra dollars and all those little things add up.

Yesterday was my first real attempt at using coupons when grocery shopping. I'm not an expert at this but I was pretty proud of myself. I saved over $35 with coupons and sale items! And that $35 is going to go into my ING savings account. I'm paying myself. I'll write about the details later.

You also may have noticed some affiliate links to the right. I debated with myself (lots of internal dialog going on here) about those as well. I use all the services and enjoy them so it's not like I'm trying to pimp these businesses without any personal experience. I'm getting a kick out of eBates - hubby wanted to order a beanie from Under Armor and I wouldn't let him until I checked to see if they were an eBates store (they are!). So we'll get 3% back on a purchase that he would have made anyway. Woohoo!

What are you doing to save? And what will you do with the savings? Buy jewelry I hope! *grin* Or start an emergency fund? Everyone should have one. Ours is woefully small.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Manic Monday - Fresh


Last weekend I took my MIL to the local Farmer's Market and I also brought my new camera. There are so many amazing sights and sounds and tastes. We had hot dogs and french fries while listening to a really neat band playing old time songs.

We both bought fresh fruits and veggies. She bought some incredibly fresh asparagus and I got some yummy apples.

Even the air smelled fresh. We could see over the water all the way to the Cascades but I didn't manage to get a photo. One of these days I will share how gorgeous this area is. It might rain and cloud up a lot but when it is sunny and clear there is hardly a place that can compare in beauty.

One of the vendors I buy apples from has the cutest sign that cracks me up every time. One of the only times testing on animals is great! :)

Interesting Happenings This Week - 4/28

So many interesting things happen during the week that I thought I'd start listing a few of them in case you missed them. :)

I have a coworker who thinks the oil companies are to blame for high prices. I doubt it. I do think the government helps keep the prices artificially high.

Save the Plastic Bag!

Eating Kangaroo? No thanks!

Make a little extra cash and shop at the same time! I've worked as a mystery shopper before. It's actually really fun. Hubby and I enjoyed several nearly free dinners at Applebees.

Maybe someone ought to have Pastor Wright meet with this ACTUAL slave in OUR time. That wouldn't really work with his white people are evil ideas though since it was other Africans enslaving him. I do wish we could help all those in need...what happened in the Sudan (and happening in Dafur) is a nightmare and needs to be stopped. This is part one of a three part interview series.

Who says that we're killing all the animals? The cougar population disagrees. We have cougars here. I think they are gorgeous but I wouldn't want to run into one.

Maybe we will have a recession...and maybe we won't. (We still have not had two quarters of declining growth.) I hate the self fulfilling prophesy that the media is working for though. If they say we're in one enough times maybe it will come true. But I agree with one commenter who says that if sales of Grand Theft Auto can be in the hundreds of millions we can't be doing that bad!

More economic good news - with 5% unemployment I just don't see how our economy sucks. Wall street seems to be more optimistic. And how to make Lemons out of Lemonade.

Traders are betting on the dollar again - first time in 3 years. Not that I understand how futures or hedge funds work. It's all Greek to me.

The Banality of Sedition
- I do find it interesting that we have a law on the books that is so rarely (ever?) enforced. Yet all those who break this law by calling for the violent overthrow of the government do so in such ironic freedom which allows them to speak and protects their seditious words. They would prefer a government like the Soviet Union where dissent was punishable by death.

Why we must win - not just the physical battle which goes better by the day - but the propaganda war. We are fighting internal forces, which is sad.

When we have kids we will get them vaccinated.

Kids need to skin a few knees. I agree.

Here's to another good week!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Camera Critters #4

A pretty little birdie visited us daily on our balcony in Maui last May. He had a bum leg and so we chased the other birds off and gave him bread crumbs. :) We enjoyed our visits with him.

Check out more Camera Critters.