This year has gone by so quickly that I thought I'd do a year in review post! Our first anniversary is right around the corner, and I just love everything we have been through...together!
January: We got married! And, of course, went on our honeymoon on a cruise to Mexico! I also moved out to Washington and started this blog. I spent what felt like most of January unpacking!
February: We had our first Valentine's Day as a married couple! Sadly, I don't actually remember what we did. I also realized that I did not want to be home all day and I started writing about my depression. It was a difficult month.
March: Geoff's birthday is in March, and we celebrated with a friend who was visiting and a coworker/friend. I applied to be a census worker and mailed out numerous other applications.
April: I got a job as a census worker! This improved my outlook on life a lot. We started a small, patio garden, and I started babysitting.
May: I finished my training and went out on the field as a census worker. We received notice that our rent was going up and decided to start looking at houses. We headed down to Idaho for a wedding reception for Geoff's Idaho friends and family who couldn't make it out to Massachusetts in January.
June: We realized that we weren't going to be able to find and close on a townhouse before our lease was up, so we renewed it for 6 more months. We decided to look at houses instead of townhouses.
July: My sister-in-law, her husband and my mother-in-law came to visit and we went to a Red Sox/Mariners game. We narrowed down our choices and put an offer on a house.
August: My best friend came to visit, we added a new member to our family and we closed on the house! The last few days of August were spent painting and getting ready to move.
September: We moved into the house and I set to unpacking everything. My dad came to visit to help us move, along with Geoff's best friend. We got a couch from Freecycle.
October: My mom came to visit and we decorated! Thanks to her we got curtains in several of the rooms. A friend from school in Alabama also came to visit, and we did touristy things. I had a couple interviews that didn't pan out.
November: I (finally) got a job!! We hosted our first Thanksgiving and I adjusted to being out of the house for 8 hours a day for the first time in, well, 11 months.
December: We went away for Christmas and decorated our house (minimally) for Christmas. December flew by and I can't believe it is already the last day in 2010!
Here's hoping that 2011 is just as wonderful (but maybe not nearly as exciting, not sure I could handle that) as 2010!
Friday, December 31, 2010
This year has gone by so quickly that I thought I'd do a year in review post! Our first anniversary is right around the corner, and I just love everything we have been through...together!
Posted by Megg Joosten at 9:00 AM
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
This week I am again grateful that it is Wednesday! It came quickly this week because I had Monday off (I was traveling home from Christmas). So I guess I'm also grateful that it is a short week for me!
I'm grateful that my husband is home this week so I can give him a list of things that need to be done, like taking down the tree and laundry.
I'm grateful for the snow that isn't enough to be a nuisance, but enough to be pretty! I woke up to it this morning and it was a delight! Whenever I wake up to snow I feel like a little kid again.
I'm slightly grateful that Christmas is over because now I can finally get into a routine that isn't interrupted by a holiday every few weeks!
I'm grateful for the movie tickets I was given for Christmas because it means a fun (free!) date!
I'm grateful that my first anniversary with my wonderful husband is less than a week away!
What are you grateful for this week?
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Joseph. Do you ever think about what he gave up to become the father of Jesus? A child who was 100% not his, yet who he raised as his own. He is the one who taught Jesus to be a carpenter, his own trade. What must it have been like to know you are teaching God a trade that He created Himself?
When Joseph was pledged to be married to Mary, he probably thought she was a nice woman, and that they would have a routine life together. I don't kid myself to think they were in love, since they were betrothed, but I do think Joseph cared about her, after all he wouldn't have planned to "divorce her quietly" if he did not care. What must Joseph have thought when "it was discovered" that Mary was pregnant, before she even got married? I can only assume that she was pretty far along, at least far along enough that people noticed, by the time it was discovered. Joseph had every right to keep the dowry Mary's father gave him and turn her out to be stoned for what she did. Mary's life would have been ruined, and her family shamed. But he didn't do that. Joseph probably realized that people make mistakes, and he planned to divorce her quietly so she would be able to move on without the embarrassment of the whole village knowing what happened.
Of course we all know that God had other plans for Joseph, however. He was visited by an angel in a dream, verifying the story that Mary had told him herself. Now this is where Joseph amazes me the most. He risks his own reputation to marry Mary anyway, despite the obvious fact that she was carrying a child that was not his own. I wonder what the villagers thought. Did they assume Mary and Joseph had slept together prior to getting married? Did they think that Mary was just sleeping around and that the true father was somewhere out there? Either way, it didn't matter, not to Joseph. His reputation and Mary's were going to be ruined now, but he didn't care. He was going to be a dad...he was going to take on the biggest responsibility of his life. He was going to raise Jesus, God's son, as his own.
Talk about pressure.
Monday, December 20, 2010
I've been thinking a lot about Christmas, of course, because it is right around the corner. While it seems like it has snuck up on me, I am trying very hard to consciously remember the real reason behind Christmas.
Of course, everyone thinks about Christmas day, when Jesus was born. Some people think about the way Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census. But how often do you think about Mary and Joseph's life before the baby was born? Before the angel came to Mary and told her the news that would not only change her life, but change the world.
Think about Mary. She was probably about 12 or 13 when she became engaged to Joseph. Though the bible does not talk about Joseph in a lot of detail, I get the impression that he is an amazing man. For Mary, this was not unusual. Mary would have been helping her mother around the house, of course, but a grown (hard to imagine that 13 is grown) woman is better served starting her own family.
So, Mary was betrothed to Joseph. I have no idea what weddings were like at that time, but I can only assume that there was some amount of planning going on before the actual wedding, before the time that Mary and Joseph could actually live together. I don't know how Mary was feeling, but I can tell you how I was feeling in the days and weeks leading up to my own wedding. I was a bundle of nerves, anxious to start my new life with my husband, and I was (and still am) deeply in love with him. For Mary, things would have been slightly different because, being betrothed, she most likely wasn't in love with Joseph. But I do think she would have been nervous about setting out on her own. I can't help imagining her as a young child, setting out on her own. Joseph was probably older, but not significantly. Two children, starting out on their own.
Then, Mary has a visit from an angel. I'm not sure if this was a regular occurrence, but if my friend came up to me and told me they had been visited by an angel, I would have thought she was crazy, and that's just the beginning of the story!
If it was me, and an angel came to me and told me that I was going to have a baby, I'd be terrified. Just because Mary knew she was a virgin didn't mean everyone else did, too, or would believe her when she told them the story. Poor Mary, a young woman, suddenly pregnant, with the eyes of everyone in the village on her.
It's Mary who I like to think about when I ponder the Christmas story. I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to feel that baby growing inside her, knowing that he was God's son.
Whether you are a mother or not, whether you have carried a baby or, like me, never have, think about this story this year as you are unwrapping presents, and watching the joy of recipient's faces. Think about what Mary went through as she approached the time when she would give birth to the reason for this holiday.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Every good blog needs a miscellany post, right? (Humor me even if it doesn't!)
Today was a good day. I was able to dispatch at work with little help, and I was even left alone for a couple hours! This doesn't seem like much, but it was definitely an exciting moment in my new job. Unfortunately, I accidentally made one of our drivers work much longer than he needed to...and even though he was cheerful about it, I felt very bad. I am hoping future work days go better and that I am allowed to dispatch again.
When I got out of work, however, I realized just how tired I was! I fed the kitties, fed myself, put on my pjs, wrapped up in a blanket (we're cheap so we keep the house
freezing pleasantly cool, even in the winter) and settled down on the couch to watch bad tv and relax. Geoff is out for the night, so I'm alone...and I actually don't mind it. After talking to drivers all day I was ready for some quiet and zoning-out.
I think I might be getting tired of Facebook games. When I was home all day I enjoyed them, but since I've started working and actually have a life...well, it doesn't seem like they are worth my time anymore. I'm glad that I am moving on. Even if it is to Plants vs. Zombies, a game my sister got me hooked on recently.
I've been toying with the idea of taking The Compact, but I find myself also worrying about what I do want to buy new. Most specifically, a worm bin, which I'm not sure I can buy used. This would be very green, because it helps with composting, and I most definitely wouldn't put it in my kitchen like this picture did, but the fact remains, I may not be ready to take The Compact just yet. I may try it for a month though, to see how I like it and go from there.
Speaking of The Compact and non-consumerism, I have been feeling very overwhelmed with consumerism lately. I attribute most of it (well OK, all of it...) to the fact that Christmas is right around the corner and everyone is promoting something. It still bothers me, and I feel very aware of it this year. Not that this is a bad thing, but it is uncomfortable. And I can't wait for Christmas to be over so the commercials will stop! Though there will always be commercials promoting things I don't need.
And with that...I have to say thank goodness tomorrow is Friday!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I made the mistake of going to the post office during my lunch break on Monday. This was definitely not my intention, but I had been putting this off for long enough that I really needed to get a few things in the mail. Two of those packages were Mary Kay products people had ordered, and a third was for the Pet Swap I am in (I thought the recipient of that would like to receive it before Christmas!)
I accidentally got a little lost on my way to the post office before work that morning, which meant I was headed out during my lunch break. Lets just say I was less than pleased. I arrived in the parking lot which had cars lined up in the street trying to park. Once I got in and managed to get my recycled mailers taped and the correct addresses on the correct packages, I was finally ready to stand in line.
Though the line moved fast, it was still about 5 minutes before I got to the front, and about 25 minutes into my lunch break. My, usually 30 minute lunch break. So I admit, I was pretty grouchy.
Now, imagine the poor person behind the counter. I can only imagine how their day was going. Unfortunately for me, I did not think about them when I walked up to the counter. In my defense, I can at least attest that I was not rude...but I don't think I was very pleasant, either. The woman behind the counter was pleasant, however, and I can't help thinking how hard she was working that day. Certainly harder than I was anyway. And yet, she didn't snap at me, and her manager was cheerfully saying "Happy Holidays!" to everyone leaving. Everyone working in that post office was working hard to make it run smoothly, and even though I didn't appreciate or notice it until later, they actually had holiday cheer, rather than the holiday rush I was feeling.
I feel a little guilty for being so rushed, and not even noticing, or taking the time to stop and realize that I need to be exhibiting holiday cheer, instead of my usual holiday rush.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I'm grateful for free coffee! I went to get coffee yesterday (I was really debating because I've been spending too much on coffee recently) and discovered that my stamp card was full and I had a free drink!
I'm grateful for a short week next week!
I'm grateful that I haven't messed anything up at work in a week and a half! I think I'm starting to learn.
I'm grateful for a husband that works hard to support us. He's been working a lot these last couple weeks on a big project.
I'm grateful that work is keeping me busy, which is why I can't add more today!
Posted by Megg Joosten at 9:58 AM
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Unfortunately, I can't show you how our house is decorated for Christmas, because the camera and I are disagreeing. I think the memory cards should work properly, and it disagrees. I also think that when I take pictures without the memory card the camera should show up on my computer desktop when I plug it in. The camera disagrees. Sadly, the camera is winning.
So you will just have to take my word for it when I say our house is decorated for Christmas! Minimally decorated, that is. I have found myself becoming more and more of a minimalist over the past few years. Partially because of the blogs I've started reading in the past year, but I also blame the fact that I was quite transient for about 2 years before settling down here in Washington. If course 8 months after I settle down in our townhouse we bought a house and moved, but I like to think that we are at least going to be staying here for quite some time! Especially considering the rent isn't likely to go up like it did in the townhouse!
Since I have been so transient lately, I haven't really collected many Christmas decorations. What I did have is stored at my parent's house, so I am limited this year. Luckily Geoff bought a Christmas tree and ornaments when he first moved out here, so we do have a lovely blue and silver Christmas tree (which, coincidentally, were our wedding colors almost a year ago!) We also have two stockings hanging on the mantle, and a lovely winter table runner that I will be able to leave out as long as it's cold because it has snowmen on it!
I'm sure, in years to come I will build up my stash of Christmas decorations. In fact, this year after Christmas I'm already planning on buying lights for our house on major clearance. But this year I'm enjoying the simple, minimalist look in my brand new (to us) house.
Monday, December 13, 2010
I was so proud of my youth group girls a few weeks ago. Well, let me back up a little. Ever since I started my new job I haven't been able to go to La Mesa, the weekly youth group small groups at our church. I've been volunteering with youth groups since I graduated with college, and it was one of the first things I did when I moved out here and started attending our church. I co-lead the high school girl's small group and though this is a very small, small group, we have between 3 and 5 girls who do come regularly, and I love every one of them. I love seeing them grow, and ask questions. I love that our group is small and intimate, and that we feel free to go off the beaten path when we are in a lesson. Heading off topic is a regular occurrence, but it is never an issue; everything we talk about is important, interesting and relevant. I just love these girls.
One of the missions Robert, our director of youth has taken on is to do more local mission trips. Our church is located in a very wealthy area of the Seattle suburbs, and as such I think the teens sometimes forget or don't realize quite how lucky they are. Recently they did something called a Box Out, where they slept outside and didn't eat for 24 hours in an attempt to see what it was like to be homeless. They were even featured on our local news! Raising their awareness of the many homeless people in the Seattle area is so important. This brings us to last Wednesday.
Like I said, I haven't been able to come around on Wednesday nights since I started working. I've missed coming terribly, but with my new schedule it just hasn't been do-able. I am hoping, of course, to start up again in January. Anyway, at church the other day, two of my girls approached me and told me the idea of passing out hats and gloves to the homeless had been tossed around as a local trip they would do the following week. The girls wanted to let me know that we were doing that, so I decided it was important enough for me to try and get into work early so I could leave early so I could go with them into Seattle. It was tough, I was stuck in traffic on my way to the church, and I just barely made it before they left, but I was so glad I did, because the experience was well worth the rush, skipped dinner and traffic.
When we arrived at the spot, an intersection where Robert knows some people regularly hand out sandwiches and warm drinks, the girls dived right in and started handing out hats and gloves and chatting with the homeless men and (few) women there on the sidewalk. There was never any hesitation, any concern that they would be in danger. They chatted, smiled, offered as many gloves as they wanted, and generally seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Two girls and I headed down the street to find a few more people who were rumored to be there, and that is where we met Jordan. Jordan looked to be in his early 30s, and he was wearing a hat and a suit which was in excellent condition, aside from the fact that it had graffiti on the breast pocket. He was cheerful and friendly, and the two girls I was with took to him right away. We asked if he needed any food, and he replied, kindly, that he was all set, but did need some place to wash his clothes and a sewing kit. After chatting with him for a few minutes, we headed on our way and continued to look for people who needed the hats and gloves we were offering.
What touched me the most, however, was how touched the girls were when visiting with Jordan. They wanted to go back, they couldn't wait to tell everyone else about their new friend, and they wanted to help him in any way they could. "Do you think he'll still be there later? Maybe we can come back and help him." Their enthusiasm was contagious, but most of all their love and concern for those who have much less than them was evident. These are girls who live in a well-to-do part of Washington, in a wealthy area of the suburbs of Seattle. I'm pretty sure visiting with these homeless people changed them, but even more, watching the girls visit brought tears to my eyes. If only all teenage girls could be as caring and openminded as the ones we took into the city that night.
Sometimes your heart just needs to be broken a little in order to see beyond.
Posted by Megg Joosten at 2:17 PM
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I've been struggling with knowing what to write lately, as well as finding the time to write. If I'm going to be perfectly honest I'm also struggling a little with the depression that comes with the winter. There's nothing sadder than sitting at work, watching it grow darker and darker at 4 pm. Because of all this, I'm going to try a new series that I've entitled I'm grateful Wednesday. Every Wednesday I'm going to list a few things I'm grateful for, in an attempt to keep myself upbeat and, of course, update more often and regularly.
I'm grateful for Raisin Bran cereal. It's so delicious AND healthy, and I can often find coupons for it, which is always a bonus.
I'm grateful that I'm learning more and more at my job, and being given more and more responsibilities.
I'm grateful for the wonderful church family I've discovered at our church. Especially the youth group girls I work with. More on that to come.
I'm grateful that Christmas is coming and we will be able to go away for a little bit and see family, even if it isn't mine!
That's all for day...what are you grateful for?
Posted by Megg Joosten at 9:07 AM
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
It has not been my intention to completely ignore my blog over the past week or so, but I have felt like I've been pulled in so many different directions that simple tasks like planning dinner and cleaning out my email inbox was so overwhelming that my blog was pushed to the side. All around me I have been reading Thanksgiving recaps, seeing people put up trees and Christmas lights and it's overwhelming me. It's stressing me out because I feel like I need to be there too...and I'm not.
If I was to be perfectly honest with you, I would tell you that I'm just not feeling this Christmas season. Due to a combination of non-consumerism and a lack of money, we don't have very many Christmas decorations this year. We have stockings (hung by the fireplace with care, of course) and a table runner, both thanks to my mother-in-law (I do so love when she visits!) and the Christmas tree that Geoff bought his first Christmas out here. I'd love to blame the lack of decorations for my lack of Christmas spirit, but I don't think that's it.
I'm trying to remain upbeat, I really am, but to be honest, I'm missing my regular routines...a regular routine that I haven't had in years. Do you ever wish you could just go back and relive a year again? If I could I would relive 2006. It was the year Geoff and I started dating, the year I started working at the newspaper and the year that I was happy, before my depression set in for the long haul.
It's not 2006, however, it is 2010. It is the year I got married, the year we bought our house, and it's been almost a year since I graduated with my masters. It has been a good year, even if I can't always see it. So this year I'm going to put up our tree, return the phone calls I've been avoiding, enjoy my job and the creativity that I am discovering in finding frugal, yet thoughtful gifts for my friends and family. I'm going to curl up in bed with a warm kitty between my feet and a husband to cuddle with. And I'm going to enjoy it, because one day I'm going to miss the simplicity of my life right now.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Happy Thanksgiving!! Today my husband, sister, mother-in-law and I are gathering together to eat what I hope will be a delicious Thanksgiving meal! Since it's my first one I can only hope things turned out alright! Since it's Thanksgiving, I thought I would take the time to post a list of the things I'm thankful for. This is by no means all-inclusive, it's simply what I thought of off the top of my head! I am sure there are many many more things to be thankful for!
1. My job. I'm SO thankful that I am finally employed. Having the extra paycheck will make a huge difference in paying off our debts.
2. My family. Both extended and immediate. They are all wonderful and I'm so lucky to have them.
3. Our health. Currently everyone in our family is healthy. I'm not talking colds, I'm talking big things like cancer. We are all healthy and happy and I'm incredibly thankful for that.
4. My kitties. They seriously make me laugh every day with their antics! And I love when they cuddle up and sleep with us!
5. Our house. We are lucky not only to have a roof over our heads, but to own that roof as well. It's been a blessed year for us.
6. My husband. As we approach our one year anniversary I'm so thankful that we met each other and got married!
7. My marriage. Everyone says the first year's the hardest. Well, it's been tough, but we've made it through.
8. Snow! Yes, even snow because it is so beautiful!
9. Friends who pimp out my Mary Kay business. I've had several new orders lately which has been awesome!
10. Our local thrift store. They have provided me with several Christmas gifts!
11. Freecycle, without which we wouldn't have 2 couches and a Christmas gift for my mom!
12. Craigslist, without which we wouldn't have our coffee table and numerous other things I've bought (and sold!) for less than their retail price.
13. Oatmeal. It is delicious and yummy and warming on a cool winter morning!
14. A garage, where my car is parked safe and sound and free of snow and ice!
How about you? What are you thankful for this year?
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The following is a guest post by my sister, Laura. Enjoy!
If you’re like me, there are some people in your life that are just difficult to shop for. You could get them a book or a TV show, but they just have so many! A hand-crafted gift is awesome, but what if you’re not particularly hand-crafty?
This is why I decided to give two of my more, shall we say, earthy-crunch friends... (drum roll please) knitted coasters!!
The directions are ridiculously simple, ready?
Stick your gorgeous, finished product on your coffee table and let people stick their cups on it. Tada!
Depending on how tight or loose your stitches are you should check your work against a template coaster sure you’re on track. After you make your first coaster, I would use that as your template so that your set is all the same size.
The coasters don’t look perfect, but I don’t mind and neither do my friends, because they know I worked hard to show them how much I care.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Every year for Thanksgiving (or really any family get-together where my family was the one to bring the dessert) my mom would make 7 Layer Bars. We never called them Magic Bars, but I guess that's what they really are, since there isn't exactly 7 layers in ours.
Anyway, the recipe comes from the back of a can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. I love this recipe not only because it's delicious, but because you can bake it ahead of time and freeze them! It's perfect holiday baking and this year for Thanksgiving I made this recipe on Sunday, when I had time. I will freeze the bars before they all get eaten and we will have them alongside pie for dessert on Thursday!
The ingredients are simple and cheap for this recipe (another reason I love it!)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk (It doesn't have to be Eagle Brand, but that is the one I typically use, mostly because the recipe is on the back!)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
OR 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1 cup butterscotch chips
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees for glass dish). Coat 13x9-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut and nuts. Press down firmly with a fork.
Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars or diamonds. Store covered at room temperature.
Easy! This recipe takes no time at all, but even when you don't have any time, you can cook it ahead and freeze it! What's not to love?
I didn't take a picture of my bars because a. I'm a little lazy and b. I wanted to get them into the freezer as soon as possible before they got eaten!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Now that I've finished my second week of work and even acquired a first paycheck, I'm feeling pretty good about my new job. I'm enjoying being out of the house all day, even if it means I get home late, eat, go to bed, and start all over again. That is OK if it means that I am able to contribute monetarily to our little family.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
My other posts in this series are right here.
You will want to tune in next Tuesday for the last post in this series which will feature a very special guest post by my sister!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I may be working hard to do Christmas on a budget this year, but that doesn't mean I don't want to get my furry little friends a gift, too! They may or may not (most likely do not) understand what the heck Christmas is, but I do like to spoil my fur babies sometimes!
(This is one of the few pictures I have of them together! Though I know they like each other, they are more often seen rolling around and playing than cuddling together.)
That is why, when I saw that there was a pet blog swap going on, I decided I needed to jump on board! The directions are here, and it's super simple and inexpensive (max $10!) and I can't wait to see what type of animal I get to shop for!
So how about it? Are there some furry friends in your life that need a little holiday loving? Don't forget that they need some love too!
Friday, November 12, 2010
I have to tell you a secret. I'm obsessed with The Frugal Girl. I'm pretty sure she doesn't know I exist, but I like to think that we'd be friends if I knew her in real life. You know, if I wasn't living roughly 3,000 miles away from her.
Anyway, she is doing a new series on productivity that I've found, so far to be very interesting and relevant. You see, ever since I started my new job I've been, well, busy! This is exactly what I've longed for, so I'm loving it, but the fact remains there are things around the house that continue to pile up during the week, things that I need to take care of on a daily basis not just once a week on my weekends off. Laundry is accumulated (for two people we seem to have an awfully lot of laundry), dishes fill the sink, litter boxes need to be cleaned...you get where I'm going. (I will warn you, this isn't rocket science, but if you're anything like me you need a reminder every once in a while!)
I tried something new this week, something novel and different that I haven't done since I got married. I got up with my husband in the morning. Geoff has to be at work (which is 30 minutes away) at 7, which means the alarm goes off at an hour I'm not exactly comfortable with: 5 am. I realize there are people out there who have to be at WORK at 5 am, heck, I used to be one of them when I worked at Dunkin Donuts! Since then, however, I've come to enjoy my sleep. Perhaps a little too much. (In my defense, however, we have a pillow top mattress that makes it difficult to get out of bed some mornings!) As a result, I have gotten more sleep in the past 10 months than I think I've ever gotten in my life. We got to bed early because Geoff gets up early. I typically get up and see him off, then go back to bed until 8:30 or 9. I realized this week, however, that this really isn't the best use of my time, especially since I now have chores to take care of along with a full day of work.
So I tried getting up with Geoff, and you know what? I didn't die. I didn't fall asleep at my computer, but I did get things done! The first day I tried this I made coffee, sent Geoff to work with some, loaded the dishwasher and cleaned the sink. Thankfully Geoff threw in a load of laundry, put some laundry away and we both lost the cat. A productive morning, and that was all done by 6:30 am! When Geoff headed out I sat down with a full hour to myself of poking around on the internet. I typically do this anyway, but there was something different about this time. This time around I actually had time to play without making me late or run around to get ready. I gave myself until 7:30, at which time I showered, dressed, put on makeup and headed out by 8:30 (though I usually get to work at 9:30 I was meeting someone that particular morning).
The best part of this whole thing, however, was the fact that I felt so good! Sure, it's early, and getting out of bed at 6 am isn't exactly fun, but it was necessary, and will continue to be necessary through this season in our life.
Next week I'm going to actually take The Frugal Girl's advice to heart and try to get to bed at a reasonable hour every night, but baby steps.
Like I said, this isn't rocket science, and most of you probably have been doing this for years, but it's taken me 10 months and a job to kick my butt out of bed, but I'm so glad it has.
Posted by Megg Joosten at 7:00 AM
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I have had several comments asking what I'm going to be doing at work ever since I announced that I have accepted a job. I haven't intentionally left you all in the dark by keeping it a secret, the truth is I had very little knowledge of what I would be doing before my first day on Monday! Now that it's been a few days, however, I am a little more aware of what is going on here. Think of this post as a Public Service Announcement.
I am working for a company that provides rides to people with disabilities. The clients are often getting rides to doctor's appointments, the grocery store, the bank or other things like dialysis. My job will be to direct the drivers (dispatch), make up the driver schedule, enter data like invoices and gas receipts, basic office jobs like that.
It isn't glamorous, and it's far from what I want to do for the rest of my life, but for now, I'm enjoying it. A job gets me out of the house and it's a small office, with one woman that I work with directly here, a few owners of the company that come and go and the drivers, of course. I love that it is relaxed and family friendly. On Monday I heard my manager working with a driver to arrange daycare for her daughter. L (my manager) was so accommodating to the driver that I was touched. I think I will really enjoy working here, once I actually know and understand everything that's going on. For now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and am trying to adjust to a new schedule, but I'm happy and eager to see where this job takes me in the future.
So there you have it, the answer to your burning question of what the heck is my job and what am I doing??
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
"A book always keeps something of its owner in between its pages." (Cornelia Funke, Inkheart)
It won't come as a surprise to you that I love books. I come by it genetically, my grandmother, mother, father and sister all love to read. My father started reading to me when I was a child, and I almost always ask my sister to read to me while we drive alone. What can I say, we are a family who loves books!
Today's Christmas shopping on a (very) tight budget is: think used. There are many places were you can get used books: Amazon.com and Half.com are two online retailers that sell used books for a much lower price than new books. There are also used book stores scattered around everywhere; here we have Half-priced Books which is a very nice, very large used book store! Today I bought three books for my sister and only spent $5!
Now, this tip is not recommended for people who are picky about their books. You can often find a used book that is in very good (like new) condition, but I have found that more often than not it is obvious that they are used. My sister couldn't care less, and I couldn't either, but some people might take offense to this, so be careful.
Books aren't the only thing you can buy used, however. My sister loves TV shows, and collects them on DVD. However, have you ever bought a drama on DVD? They typically go for between $40-50! This is a little steep for me, so I like to look for them on Amazon.com too! I get a list from my sister (make sure you know which seasons they need if you are going this route!) and for half that price I can get one, maybe two seasons of her favorite shows. It's the same with movies. If you are worried about your DVDs skipping, buy them from a seller on Amazon that guarantees they will play. Often these are larger sellers who make sure their DVDs are playable before selling them. And don't forget the video games for your video game lovers out there! GameStop is an excellent place to buy used games.
How about you? Have you ever given someone a used book, DVD or game?
Monday, November 8, 2010
Today, I say goodbye. Goodbye to daytime TV, staying in my pajamas until noon and mid-afternoon couch naps. Goodbye to lazy mornings drinking coffee on the couch and playing with Facebook all day.
But hello to something else!
Starting today, I am officially employed! Yes, I will join the wonderful world of a 9-5 job* and I couldn't be happier!
*Technically my hours will be 10-6, but whatever, same thing.
I'm eager to see what this means for our relationship. Some of the household duties that I have so terribly taken under my wing will have to be divided, and there will be nights when I don't get home until very late, due to my previous commitments. I also foresee Geoff putting dinner together more often, since he will be home at 4, and I will be home about 6:30.
Whatever this next season of our life brings, I have to say that I don't think I will miss the daytime TV and my lazy mornings! (Well, I might miss them a little bit, in about three months, but for now, I happily say goodbye!)
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Growing up I loved soup. Two different kinds, in fact. Campbells chicken noodle and Campbells tomato soup. That's right, I had no taste! Although I later discovered that adding fat free cheese to the tomato soup makes it very yummy, there is nothing quite like a good, hearty soup.
Sadly, I wasn't to discover a good hearty soup until very recently. I have never been a creative cook, and I, unfortunately enjoy some very bland foods. I am trying very hard to branch out, however, especially since I married someone who does not do bland foods! Therefore, I've been experimenting more and more with my cooking. Obviously over the summer I did not cook soups, but a recent drop in temperatures has led me to try a few new soups!
One, a hearty tomato soup is a recipe of my grandmother's that is delicious in the winter. I will share that recipe soon, but for now I want to share the Homemade Baked Potato Soup that I recently discovered thanks to The Frugal Girl! I have to say that this is amazing. For someone who loves Panara's Baked Potato Soup, I enjoyed making 6 times the amount of soup for the same price! Or close to, anyway.
With 1 1/3 cup of butter, a cup of sour cream, nearly 2 cups of cheese and a pound of bacon, this recipe is nowhere near as healthy as I should be eating right now. However, I must say that it is not only delicious, but made 7 servings for Geoff and I! And bonus, it was a hit with the hubby!
I did make it slightly more healthy, however, and it didn't seem to suffer. (Although, thankfully since I never tried it with full fat, I don't know what else to compare it to, which is good!) I used light sour cream, skim milk and light cheese (not fat free, though I'm sure that would work too, since it gets all mixed up in there). Even better, I was able to use up some potatoes that were growing eyes! (Don't worry, I cut that part off)
So, what kind of hearty soups do you like in the winter? And a big thank you to the Frugal Girl for turning me onto this recipe!
Friday, November 5, 2010
This Christmas is both exciting and bittersweet. It's a Christmas of firsts, for me. It's our first Christmas in our new house, and our first Christmas as a married couple. Unfortunately, it's also my first Christmas away from my family, and my first Christmas where I won't be in Massachusetts, participating in the traditional activities we every year.
However, it is not the first Christmas I will be sending out photo cards!
I have been a fan of Shutterfly for a while now, and have used them for several years in the past both for Christmas cards and regular photo prints. I can't wait to order our holiday cards this year! I haven't decided if I want to go with a card with several photos like this...
Posted by Megg Joosten at 4:48 PM
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Grandparents love pictures. Lets face it, they don't need more stuff, they've spent a lifetime collecting stuff. What they do need, and will really appreciate, is a nice, framed picture of you and your husband, your kids (this is a huge hit!) or, in my case, their grandkids...at their wedding.
This is the picture I chose for Geoff's and my grandparents. It may sound narcissistic, but grandparents, especially ones who live further away, love photographs. And when you give them a nice picture of your kids, it's a gift that never goes wrong, since kids change every year! I get my pictures printed at www.photoworks.com where 4x6 photos are 15 cents and 5x7 are 99 cents. Tada! With a nice frame (ranging from $5-20, depending on where you shop) that was a very simple $21 gift.
For me, $21 isn't bad...but multiply that by the 4 grandparents we are buying for makes it $84, which, for me, is a little much. So, I decided to think outside the box a little bit, today. I recently found a new thrift store locally, and I visited it today to see what I could find. Now, I know what you're thinking. Thrift store shopping for Christmas gifts?? Seriously, Megg, I think you're stooping a little low this time. Well, bear with me.
I was able to find a few frames that were suitable for my purposes! I spent $8 total (not counting the $6 vest I found for me!) and found three excellent frames. One of them has something sticky on the glass and will need a few screws tightened, but it's in great condition otherwise. The second will need something sticky removed when I take the price tag off, and the third is this frame from IKEA, still wrapped in its plastic and only $2.99! Granted, I spent a good 20 minutes poking through the frames to find a few halfway decent ones, but it was worth it to me.
You don't have to go my route for frames, of course. Though I don't have a Hobby Lobby near me, I hear they have excellent frames that are often on clearance or sale. Michaels also has excellent frames that are very often on sale, and Marshalls or Ross also have inexpensive decorative frames for sale. Where you get the frame doesn't really matter, the most important part is the picture that goes inside. The memories you are giving them inside that frame are priceless.
Monday, November 1, 2010
I'm getting frustrated with my goal posts. I think I will try to revamp the goals I have, as these don't seem to be working out for me.
Here are the results of October's goals:
1. Get a job, any job.
Still nothing. Had a few more interviews but nothing so far.
2. Plan dinner meal menu every week.
I think the first step to eating at home again is planning the menu. Next month I'll worry about the budget.
I did this for about 2 1/2 out of the 4 weeks this month. This is something I need to keep up with better. One of the weeks I didn't take care of this was the week we had guests so we ate out a lot.
3. Send out Idaho reception thank you cards.
Um, nope. However, I made progress. They are now sitting on my coffee table, in plain sight.
4. Walk the neighborhood at least 3 times a week.
This one was tough, mostly because we had guests for 2 weeks in October and it's started the fall rain that is common around here. Many evenings it's rainy so we haven't gotten out to walk like I'd planned.
5. Donate boxes in the garage so we can park a car in there.
Ah ha! I did this goal! My car is currently parked in the garage! Score!
1. Get a job, any job. (If I make this a goal often enough then it will happen eventually, right??)
2. In that vein, apply for at least three jobs a day (more if I can find them!)
3. Write 5 Idaho reception thank you cards a day.
4. Clean off the counters and cabinets in the garage and set up Geoff's ham radio and modeling things and my scrapbook stuff in there.
5. Complete the majority of my Christmas shopping/making of gifts.
Wish my luck...I don't seem to be very successful at this whole goal thing.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Not surprisingly, since we bought a house, Geoff and I aren't exactly rolling in the dough. Unfortunately for us, Christmas is coming up, and that means gifts. While we are happily spending less, cutting back on going out and eating out (for the most part) and buying store-brand items, I'm sure our family would appreciate a little more thought being put into our gifts. I also think they would appreciate gifts in the first place, which means I (as the gift buyer in the family) need to be a little more creative than usual this year.
This brings us to my new (semi-regular) series! Coming soon to a blog near you! How to do Christmas on a (very) tight budget! Lets face it, few people have money to blow right now, and none of us needs something that doesn't really mean a lot to us. I challenge you this year to try and be creative and frugal with your Christmas gifts! I know you can do it!
Disclosure: If you are a member of my family, extended or otherwise, you might not want to read this series as it contains actual gifts I plan on giving this year.
Posted by Megg Joosten at 9:00 AM
Saturday, October 30, 2010
I've got a guest post over at Believing Boldly! Go check it out! Warning...it's about politics!
Clean kitties say it's important to vote!
Friday, October 29, 2010
I typically don't take part in Kelly's Korner's Show us your Life, but I couldn't pass this one up! Our guest room is my favorite of all the rooms we have in the new house so I can't resist showing it off!!
Many regular readers have seen it, but I will post again.
Here is the room from the doorway, when you walk in. I have since added curtains, a different end table and a floor lamp, but my memory card is acting up so I couldn't take a picture of it. Also I'm lazy.
The bed is my husband's childhood bed, and next summer I'm going to take it apart and spray paint it white to match the rest of the room (the new bedside table is white). The bedding was from JC Penney on clearance! We also had a gift card so I ended up spending all of $15 on it! I was quite proud of myself.
This is the wall opposite the bed, the same wall the door is on. The lava lamp was a gift to Geoff from me one of the years we were dating, but it matched so well that I put it in here! The dresser is also Geoff's childhood dresser. It needs a little work (I have since replaced the drawer pulls because some of them were broken) but I haven't gotten to it yet. Eventually!
I found these curtains at Bed Bath and Beyond in the children's section! My mom suggested we hang a white sheer curtain under them, so there is now another curtain there. It looks really nice, so I will hopefully get around to showing you one of these days.
Even though we don't always live in the guest room, I absolutely love it. It was the room that took the longest to paint and work on, but it is totally worth it in the end, I think!
Check out more guest rooms at Kelly's blog!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
No, this post isn't about another household project (though I do have a couple of those on my to do list!) but rather a quote you may have heard: "When God closes a door, he opens a window."
I was thinking about this quote the other day. I believe that God has both closed and opened many doors for me, especially in the past couple of years. I've lead a very transient life recently, packing up my VW Beetle and moving far too many more times than I'd like. This last move was my sixth move in 2 years. For a girl who, aside from college, had moved three times in 24 years, this was definitely unusual.
When I was thinking about this quote, however, I was wondering if I actually was supposed to move six times in the past two years. Maybe God opened a window for me but I kept staring at that door, waiting for it to open again. When it didn't I took matters into my own hands, taking a sledgehammer to the door that He had shut on me and going through anyway.
I seriously hope that God has a sense of humor, or at least can accept that I can be an idiot at times. For example, moves one and two. While I will never regret moving across the country for a man I was dating, I wonder if this is really what God wanted me to do. I put myself into a lot of debt, put unnecessary miles on my car and all for what? Because I was bound and determined to go through that door, sledgehammer or not. Consequently, I ended up driving that VW Beetle from Massachusetts to Washington...twice in 2 years. In retrospect it doesn't seem like a good idea, though at the time it was about the only thing I could imagine doing.
All this came about because I'm still unemployed. Ten months ago, heck even 5 months ago I was still looking for library jobs. Today, I head down to Peets Coffee to turn in an application. In my paranoia/over-thinking mind, I'm scared. Scared that I made a mistake. That I went plowing through that closed door because I was bound and determined to get my degree in Library and Information Science. A degree that is now preventing me from getting any job, library or not, because who wants to hire someone with a masters degree for a receptionist job?
And yet...God provided for me to go to school in Alabama, through an amazing assistantship for all three of my semesters there. While I, on the one hand, don't understand why I can't get a job to use my degree, I know and understand that I was supposed to do that...right?
It's hard to understand God's ways when I am unemployed, laden with $30,000 in student loans, stuck at home and stressing about money. I know He has a plan...but why can't He be a little more obvious about it?
Life shouldn't be so complicated.
Monday, October 25, 2010
One of my goals this month was to plan our menu every week. This month it didn't happen, unfortunately. It wasn't a complete failure, but I'd say I only planned our meals for 2 out of the 4 weeks this month. One of those two weeks is this week though, so that's an improvement!
In my defense, our schedules have been changing a lot recently, and though I think they've finally evened out, it made meal planning difficult when one or both of us were out in the evening. However, I also discovered the website Spark People, a website to help weight loss. It's an awesome site overall, but one of the best features is the fact that it plans your meals for you! I have a hard time planning meals often, and knowing what to include, so this was very helpful this week.
Monday: Chicken, couscous, asparagus, cottage cheese, blueberries, tea.
Tuesday: Geoff: Leftovers, Megg: out
Wednesday: Spinach salad with grilled chicken, feta and orange slices.
Thursday: Geoff: Breakfast for dinner, applesauce, Megg: out
Friday: Geoff: away, Megg: breakfast for dinner, applesauce.
Saturday: Undecided for Megg...Geoff will still be away.
Sunday: Spaghetti with ground beef, whatever leftover veggies we have.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
We had several guests come through our new house over the course of the past two weeks. It was wonderful, but I have to admit, I'm happy to have my house back to myself again! Back to the routine of daily life!
Our first guest was my wonderful mom! I didn't take many pictures but it was a wonderful visit. We visited Ikea, because my mom had never been there, shopped for curtains (a post on that coming up!) relaxed, and visited Leavenworth, a cute tourist town with lots of fun shops. We had a great time, and I was sorry to see her go!
The day after my mom left, two of my friends from school in Alabama came to visit! Jessica and Lydia's visit was very different from my mom's visit but it was just as fun! We visited a local corn maze...
Pike Place Market (including the first Starbucks store and my favorite place to eat lunch, Market Grill)
Snoqualmie Falls, which are just 15 minutes down the road from our house (who knew?)
And the aquarium!
On Friday I sent them into the city on their own (they did great!) and they rode the duck boats and visited the Space Needle.
Like I said, they were both awesome visits, but I'm happy to get back to my regularly scheduled programs...laundry, dishes, errands and, of course, job hunting.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Did you know October is National Depression Awareness Month? Yeah, neither did I, until recently. For me, however, it's always national depression awareness month because I'm constantly reminded of my own depression.
I've been struggling lately. Struggling with depression, frustration and an overwhelming sadness that I can't quite explain.
The past two weeks have been fun, as I've had my mom visiting and then two friends from the South. I played tourist with my friends and was spoiled by my mom. It was wonderful. However, this week I'm facing my fears. Facing the fear that I will be home without work. My goal of finding a job, any job this month is proving to be more difficult than I thought. After not hearing back from the two interviews I did have, I lost a little bit of confidence. I had another interview on Friday and I have the strong possibility of a part time job (15 hours a week) provided my supervisor can find the money in his budget. I should be excited, but I'm anxious all the same.
My depression, which was under control, is flaring up again and though I'm busy most nights of the week, thankfully, my days are spent in ways I don't want them to be spent. I'm discouraged. Today I set my alarm for 8:30, like usual, but accidentally shut it off when it went off. While I normally make it out of bed by 9:15, today I woke up at 11. I hate that.
Do you ever just want people to know you're struggling, without telling them? I definitely do. It's hard to put on a happy face when I'm not feeling that way. It's hard to hide the fact that one day I'm truly happy and another day I'm faking it.
Maybe it's just the post-guest letdown. I hope so.
Friday, October 15, 2010
For various reasons I've had babies on the mind lately. Knowing that now is most decidedly not the right time for us to have kids, I decided to make a list of things I want to do with Geoff before having a baby. I love lists and I love crossing things off them, so this is the perfect way to put off my baby fever!
Vacation in Hawaii (We are currently saving for this and it's planned for Feb. 2012!)
Go on another cruise
Build up our savings...and keep a set amount of money in there
Get out of credit card debt
Personal enrichment and health:
Send Geoff back to school
Get into shape and lose at least 50 lbs.
Have a vegetable garden
Get a dog (Maybe...they are a lot of work and money)
Finish my wedding scrapbook (I'm not bringing something else I want to take pictures of into the house until that's done!)
Thursday, October 7, 2010
One of my favorite blogs to read, The Frugal Girl, is doing a series on how to be content. When I first read that she was doing this series, I was interested, but didn't think it was something I could get a lot out of. After all, I am content...aren't I?
Boy was I wrong! I am content...for the most part. But when I read the first post on contentment, I realized there are things in my life that I am not content about, and that are affecting me, and how I live my life. The Frugal Girl pointed out that oftentimes we think contentment is something we can wait for. I could relate to that. I used to think I'd be content and happy when I was engaged. Then I was sure I would be happy when we were married. Now I think I will be happy when I have a job. What then? Will I only be happy when we have a baby? A family? The more I do this, the more I will resent where I am in my life right now, and not enjoy it.
One of the biggest things I'm not content with is my lack of a job. I hate that I'm home all day (sounds like a good thing, but it's not, not after a few months!) I hate that I can't contribute to out household expenses, and I hate that I can't put my degree to work.
However, there are definitely good things about my being home. First, we were able to buy a house and can pay our mortgage and bills on Geoff's salary alone. I am able to plan meals, cook and clean without being exhausted and having to deal with it after coming home from a long day at work. This also allows Geoff to relax when he gets home, and since he's the one making all the money, I do want him to be able to relax! We are also lucky in that Geoff's work schedule allows him to get off late in the afternoon, so he's home around 4 most days. Since I don't work, I'm home when he is, and that gives us plenty of couple time together.
Another positive of my not working is that I am able to volunteer with Purrfect Pals and our church youth group. If I had a full time job I'm not sure I would be able to commit to volunteering as much because I'd be tired all the time. Now it gives me a way to get out of the house!
Even though I don't have a job in my degree, I am lucky enough to have my masters degree, something many people can't afford on their own. Sure, a job would help with the student bills and other expenses, but I know it will come, in time. Meanwhile, I'm trying to be content with where I am in life, because I know when I have a full time job I will wish I was still home every day!
Posted by Megg Joosten at 2:54 PM
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Curtains are an important part of a house, in my opinion. I don't think I notice if houses don't have curtains, but I definitely noticed that my windows lacked curtains and it was starting to get to me. So yesterday I took my babysitting and birthday money and went curtain shopping!
I didn't buy these, but found them in the pile of things from the old apartment! I think they used to be in the kitchen before I found the current curtains (a coffee theme!) and hung them up. I didn't take a picture of those though.
Anyway! These matched the office walls so well that I couldn't reason spending money on another set of curtains to put in there.
Don't they look nice? We were lucky in that the previous owners left a lot of curtain rods for us! I'm thrilled because that saves me having to buy them myself!
In the guest room I had an idea of what I wanted, but I was having a hard time finding curtains in the colors that I wanted. At least that was the case until I looked at the kids section in Bed Bath and Beyond curtains! Score!
They match so well, and I think they look pretty good too! I was considering getting a sheer curtain as well, but ran out of money this time around. Anyway, at this point I think they look pretty good!
I had a few ideas for the bedroom, but I wasn't sure what I could afford until I actually went shopping. I settled on this for our bedroom, and I'm really happy with it. I wanted to be happy with the master bedroom because I knew those were the ones we'd be looking at most often!
After I got them home and up, I felt like they are missing something...but I'm not sure what. The issue is that the window is so high up from the floor, so I feel like sheer curtains wouldn't look right in there. I think I will ask my mom when she comes to visit next week.
I like our living room curtains, but I would like to replace them at some point. However, with such a big window in the living room and these curtains already here from the townhouse, I guess we will live with them for now!
I got sick of the empty window, so I hung the curtains up last week. After a couple days of looking at them though, I realized that they needed something to hold them back. So, when I was at Bed Bath and Beyond I was looking at tie backs, but then I found these!
I love the way they look, and, best of all, they were on clearance! I was so excited that I bought two sets of them because they were only $4.99 each! So why not?
What do you think about my new curtains? Are you sick of house decorating updates yet??