Friday, September 30, 2011

September Goal Review

It's that time of the month again...goal review! I both look forward and dread this because I love seeing that I've accomplished things, but hate when I haven't! Here are my goals for this month, and how I did:

1. Paint the guest bed white.
I didn't do this because my garage is currently being taken up by another refinishing project! Details on that when I finish it. Someday.

2. Sand, re-stain and sell the Freecycle table on Craigslist
Sanded and re-stained, but not sold yet :(

3. Make $50 on ebay and Craigslist (I'm hoping to list the table at $50, so this should be an easy goal to reach)
Well, I made $20 on Ebay, and $60 babysitting, so I call this goal a success, even if my table is still sitting in the garage. Sigh.

4. Read three new books
This is a failure. I read 1 old book, 1 new book and I'm in the middle of an old book and a new book! So, I'm doing alright.

5. Apply to 4 jobs.
I don't think I need to make this a goal anymore because I'm so adept at it! I applied to at least 10 this month. Whoa.

6. Lose 5 pounds.
Well...almost. I'm down 4.5 but I think that might be since the very end of August.

Did you set goals this month? How did you do?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest post AND giveaway!

It's a big day for me on the interwebs, guys.
First, I'm guest posting over at my friend Elizabeth's blog...
And my Etsy shop is also being featured in a giveaway over at Fabulous but Evil!

This is excellent because now I don't have to come up with a post for today. So check them both out. The guest post is kinda a big announcement (big at least for me) and the giveaway is awesome because, well, it's my Etsy shop! So go check them both out!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Little known fact by most who don't know me very well...I don't like music.
That's not right. I don't like music with words.

Less than a week before our wedding we sat down with the DJ in the coffee part of Barnes and Noble. It was my mom, sister, Geoff and I. The DJ looked at me, and asked me what music I liked, and I told him the truth. "I don't like music."
Needless to say, my sister and Geoff took care of this particular meeting, with the odd comment from me {I vetoed the Macarena and chicken dance pretty quickly}. This was just one of many last minute meetings we were having in the days leading up to our wedding. Considering we planned this with Geoff in Seattle and me in Alabama...getting married in Massachusetts, there were a lot of little meetings to fit in. Usually I had an opinion. Not in this one. I'm not even sure why I was invited!

One of the most striking parts of that conversation, however, was the comment my sister made, explaining me to the DJ. She said, "She likes instrumental music. I think she understands it, because she used to play in the band in high school."

With that one comment, everything made sense to me. The way I love to listen to piano music (it's my favorite instrument). The way I can always pick out different instruments in an orchestra, or the way I hear the bass part in certain songs that I played in school. The way I instinctively pick up on the background music in a movie, the way I used to listen to Harry Potter soundtracks before watching the movie, just so I knew what I would be listening to.

Instrumental music just has a whole different language, and it's not in words. It's just one I happen to understand.

I discovered instrumental piano music during a difficult time in college, when I was having a hard time sleeping. I'm not sure who introduced me to George Winston, but I'll always be grateful that they did. The first time I heard this piece I knew I would walk down the aisle to it at my wedding, and I did. I love it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Food Waste Friday: A no waste week!

After a not so great food waste week last week, I am happy to report that I have had no waste this week! (At least that I can remember. Maybe I should pay closer attention).
We've been really good about eating what we have in the house and finishing leftovers. I'm relieved, because last week wasn't so great so I wanted to try a little harder this week. Yay!

How did you do this week with your food waste?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Creamy tomato soup

I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided I just had to try it. Like I said in my menu plan, fall is suddenly in the air, and I have been craving soup like crazy!
On Sunday I made this delicious tomato soup and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it! We had it with grilled cheese sandwiches. Why is it that tomato soup and grilled cheese go together so well?


4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 slice onion
4 whole cloves
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper
2 teaspoons white sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons half and half (or, for a lower fat option, skim milk)

1) In a pot, over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, cloves and chicken broth. I added some basil, as well (we didn't have an onion!) Bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Remove from heat and run the mixture in a food processor until blended. Strain the soup through a mesh strainer and into a large bowl. Set aside. Discard the tomatoes that were left in the strainer. (If, like me, you don't have a mesh strainer, you can skip this step, but it will be a little chunky, and you'll find the cloves in the soup!)

2) In a pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Add 2 teaspoons of white sugar and 2 tablespoons of half and half or skim milk. Stir. Season with salt and pepper, adjust to taste. Turn of your heat and pour the soup into serving bowls.

This recipe served 4, for us, but I didn't measure it, so I guess it depends on the size of your bowls!
And that's it! Super easy and super yummy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Money and our love/hate relationship

The other day my mom commented on the fact that I talk about money a lot. I don't particularly like this trait about me, but I guess right now it's just a fact of life. See, when I graduated from my undergrad, I moved in with my parents and, lets face it, I had it good. I didn't pay rent, cable, internet or for food, most of the time. I had a full time, not so well paying job, and though I had my phone, car payment and car insurance, that was about all I had. How I wish I had saved back then!! But the past is past, and there isn't any changing those decisions.

I did move out in 2008, and started working and paying all my own bills, but rent was pretty cheap, and though I don't think I could have saved, I was able to pay most of my bills. I did rack up a little credit card debt that I'm still paying off, but aside from that, I was living fairly decently.

When I started school later in 2008, I had a scholarship and a stipend from being a graduate assistant. This stipend paid my rent and car payment, and all other bills were paid with the 2 part time jobs I had. I did take out more student loans than I needed, and this helped supplement as well.

When I got married, things got serious. I started following money-saving a frugal focused blogs, and between the 2 of us (OK mostly Geoff) I was finally making enough money to make regular payments into our savings accounts. This is when I became obsessed with money. Not so much in a bad way...more in a, "I need to save money" way. I started looking for ways to be frugal, making sure we didn't succumb to laziness and eating out (this has only worked recently!) and focusing on our financial goals.

Do I talk too much about money? Perhaps. I look at it as being focused on saving, keeping us out of debt and working towards paying off what debt we do have. Hopefully, over the course of our marriage, it will all pay off eventually. One can only hope.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Just because I'm not feeling inspired lately doesn't mean I don't have to try to get inspired about cooking again! It cooled off significantly overnight last week, so I've been craving soup like crazy! It's definitely reflected in this week's menu plan...
Here's what we're having:

Monday: Rotisseri chicken with corn on the cob

Tuesday: Easy Chicken Tortellini soup...using leftover chicken from Monday!

Wednesday: Free dinner at church! Youth group night.

Thursday: Bacon and pancakes, fruit

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Some sort of pasta with chicken and sauce

Sunday: Homemade pizza

Lunches will be leftover soup from Sunday and Tuesday, and sandwiches.

As always, this is subject to change...

What are you having this week?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Food Waste Friday: I could have done better.

I'm not sure how I feel about this week's food waste. I threw out a bunch of strawberries, much to my dismay, because they were too wrinkly to be appetizing (well, technically they went into the compost!) I also had to throw out a couple pieces of grilled pizza. We can't seem to get the hang of this, and I think I'm going to give up. It's just too darn hard to keep it from getting burnt, which makes me frustrated which, in turn, makes me have to throw out pieces of pizza. Luckily pizza is super cheap to make, and we got a huge back of mozzarella cheese at Costco, so it's not a huge waste of money. However, waste is waste, and this needed to go in the trash, not the compost, so I'm not thrilled about it.

I also haven't been cooking much lately, which has made lunches difficult. We got 2 free dinners this week, and Geoff got 2 free lunches at work (score! Love free food!) so it's been a couple days since I last had to cook. However, next week I'm determined to get back into our routine, and I have a couple meals that I'd like to try out that should produce leftovers to carry us through lunch for the week.

How did you do this week?

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I've been feeling uninspired lately.
I've been uninspired by cooking. Uninspired by reading (I'm back to rereading a series I enjoy). Uninspired by blog posts and writing. Uninspired (or maybe more discouraged) by debt and money savings. Just generally uninspired.

I need help. I need blog post ideas (what do you want me to write about??) and I need to get out of my job. That's probably the thing I'm most uninspired by. My day-to-day life seems to lack the excitement or something that it once did.
All day I dispatch and do the occasional filing, printing and faxing. There is nothing rewarding or satisfying about my job and I hate that. I do have plans in place for something else, and I constantly apply to new jobs, but that doesn't help me as I stare at a computer screen, day in and day out, criticized for every little mistake I make (and some non-mistakes).

Sure, I do things outside work that are a little more rewarding. I volunteer with a local cat shelter, I volunteer with our church youth group, I have a bible study, and I'm adding in regular yoga classes and banjo lessons. So why do I still feel so uninspired?
I have no idea. Help me out here, give me something interesting to talk about, or at least bear with me while I muddle through this funk.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Things you don't know about me

This past weekend was my birthday and in light of that, I thought I'd list 10 things that (most of) you don't know about me!

  1. I've always loved the idea of walking a dog. When I was little and went to friend's houses with dogs, I always asked if we could take the dog for a walk.
  2. We grew up with about 3 channels on the TV and, as a result, I love cartoons.
  3. I still sleep with my childhood blanket (don't judge!)
  4. Even though I've owned 4 cats that were acquired as kittens, I now refuse to adopt a kitten, thanks to the volunteer work I do through a cat shelter (they just get adopted too quickly, and adults are completely ignored).
  5. I have to change my sheets every other week, my pajamas every week and my towel every week. The pjs and towels are changed on Mondays and I always change Geoff's too (poor guy).
  6. I'd rather watch a show on DVD years after it's been off the air than live, because then I'm not held in suspense.
  7. I love my birthday more than any other holiday in the year.
  8. I cross stitch
  9. I have always loved working with kids, and kids have always been drawn to me (I have no idea why though!)
  10. I hate to branch out and try new things, whether it's food, ice cream flavors or books.
What are some things I don't know about you?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Book review: Uglies

Today's book review comes courtesy of the closing Borders in our town. Geoff and I stopped by a little over a month ago when it first started its final clearance sale, and I picked up this series, the first of which is a book called Uglies. {The other books are Pretties, Specials and Extras, but I won't bother reviewing have to read Uglies first!}

Uglies could be considered a dystopian novel, because it's set in a world where everyone is gorgeous and, typical to many dystopian novels, everything is very well controlled by the government. Children, called Littlies, are born in the community, and move into a large dorm when they're 12 years old, when they become "ugly". They loose their littlie cuteness and, basically, move into puberty which, of course, no one can consider particularly pretty. On their 16th birthday exactly, Uglies are turned into Pretties, whose only job for the next few years is to relax and have fun.

When we first meet our main character, Tally Youngblood, she is alone, because her best friend, Peris, has already become a Pretty. Peris is only about 4 months older than Tally, but that means 4 months of solitude, since only Pretties can live in Pretty-ville, where Peris lives. Tally is forced to remain Ugly until her 16th birthday, when she can finally join her friend.

Then, Tally meets Shay, who opens her eyes through "Ugly tricks" to the outside world. Shay doesn't believe in the Pretty operation, and tries to convince an unwilling Tally to run away and, gasp, remain Ugly forever. When Tally refuses, and Shay runs away alone, Tally's dream of being Pretty is soon held over her head and she is forced to choose between two best friends...being with Peris forever, or betraying Tally.

I love this series not just because it's a dystopian novel, but also because of the whole concept. When I first started reading, I kept trying to imagine an Ugly, imagining just how ugly they really were until I realize that I'm an Ugly. We all are, because Uglies are normal looking. It's the Pretties that are abnormal, and, as Shay says constantly, all look the same. It's fascinating to me, the control the city holds, and the price they put on beauty.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Table transformation

So, once upon a time, there was this table. I picked it up from Freecycle and embarrassing number of months ago (I think it was actually back in October, of last year) and it just sat in our garage. I kept telling myself that if I had a palm sander, I would refinish it, but I just couldn't seem to find someone to borrow one from or a good one to buy on Craigslist. Finally, however, I found a brand new sander on Craigslist for $20 and decided it was finally time to refinish this table.

It was a kid's art table before I got my hands on it, and it was in rough condition. It took a lot of work and sanding (which was strangely satisfying, to be perfectly honest) but I managed to sand it down and sand out the bumps and, finally, refinish it. (I did have help in the final stages, I must add. Not to leave Geoff out)

And there it is. I can't even believe it myself, it's a completely different table. The funny thing is, I originally wanted to use this table in my front room pictured here, but I found something else I like more (which is probably another project for another time!) However, now that I get it in the room to take pictures to sell it on Craigslist, I see that it's just too big for the room, so it's just as well. Plus, I would rather have the darker color in this room because it would match the refinished side table in there.

And so, this refinished, refurbished art table, ready to "retire to a family room, living room or den," as the ad says, is for sale on Craigslist. Considering it was free, and the materials cost about $30 (after you add in the sander), I'd be happy even if we only broke even, especially since I will use the sander again. I already have another project lined up!

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thrift store finds!

On my way home from work on Saturday, I decided to visit a Goodwill that I typically don't go to. As soon as I walked in, I remembered why I don't go there a's crowded, the people are pushy, the aisles are small and the prices are, in my opinion, a little higher than they could be, for what's there. However, I pushed through because I'd put all the effort into getting there (I turned down a wrong was this whole big thing) and I wanted to make it worth it.

After looking at the housewares for possible vintage Pyrex finds (nothing good, by the way), I headed over to the frames. You all know how I like to use frames as gifts, right? Well, this time I found an excellent frame for $.99 for a gift I've been thinking about putting together (not grandparents, this year). I can't get more specific in case the recipient happens to read my blog!

Next, I looked through the photo albums, because we recently acquired a large box of photos from Geoff's childhood. They aren't baby pictures, more pictures from middle and high school, and there were so many of them that I forced Geoff to sit down one night and go through them. To my great delight, he managed to get them down to about 50 pictures! {This was a vast improvement, believe me} So I've been looking for an album to put them all in for him.

When I spied this album, I thought it looked nice until I opened it up.

That's right. Someone donated an album full of pictures. Pictures of, I believe, a backyard transformation from somewhere around 1997. Apparently they weren't interested in them anymore. That was fine with me, because otherwise the album was in great shape, had a spot for writing a little description (unused) and was only $3.99! Score!

As best I could, I put Geoff's pictures in order by event/theme, asked him a few questions to caption some of them, put them all in the album and viola! The pictures are protected and out of the box where they were gathering dust in our garage. Phew.

What awesome thrift store finds have you had lately?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A few notes on frugality

For some reason I get a lot of satisfaction in talking about some of the frugal decisions I've made lately. Whether you enjoy it or not, I'm going to talk about them!

  • Geoff and I were discussing recently the fact that we canceled cable. This came up because some friends of ours are downgrading their cable. It dawned on me that it's not so much that we can't afford cable (after all, we lived with it while I was unemployed) but more that we choose to spend our money on other things, like a gym membership.
  • We recently decided to cancel our Weight Watchers membership and join My Fitness Pal instead {side note, if you're on there friend me! I'm library_fiend} Neither of us were seeing the results we wanted from Weight Watchers and figured we should try something new and free. If we don't like it, we will go back to Weight Watchers most likely, since I know that works.
  • I recently sanded down and refinished a table I got from Freecycle and am planning on attempting to sell it on Craigslist.
  • In order to sand said table, we had to buy a small sander from Craigslist. We managed to get a $50 sander that was brand new for $20! I was very excited about this because I look forward to getting more things from Craigslist or Freecycle, refurbishing them and selling them again.
  • Last week I sold some books at Half Price Books and made $11.50. This money will sit in my drawer as I add more from Craigslist and eBay sales, until I have enough to make a decent payment on our credit card.
All these things make me very happy, especially the credit card payments. While I hate that we have that debt, I am excited to be chipping away at it, and really hope to make a lot of progress in the next year. I do love goals.
What are you doing that's frugal? Do you get as much of a thrill out of it as I do or am I weird?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!!

Happy Labor Day to those of you who care (I've always been a fan of the day off) and for those of you with a paid holiday and 3 day weekend! (I get neither, sadly)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Not Alone

Back in January I guest posted on an eclectic blog for a series called Not Alone. The series focuses on depression, and the many many forms it takes in everyone. It was, is an excellent series, and I encourage you to read more of Alise's posts.

To be honest, I can't remember how I came across Alise's blog, or how I came to guest posting on it. At the time I assumed that was it...until Alise emailed me and other bloggers who had posted, asking us if we would be contributors in a book she was putting together; the Not Alone series put together, bound, in one place that I can read any time I want.

I'm excited to announce that Not Alone is available for pre-sale. I encourage you to consider ordering this book not just because I'm a contributor, but to support Alise, and all the other contributors. I encourage you to read it because...well, because these stories need to be told. People need to know. You're not alone.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September goals

Once September hits, it always feels like the rest of the year flies. I think it's because September is my birthday, which I absolutely love, and once that's over, it always feels like Thanksgiving's right around the corner. After Thanksgiving, it's only a few short weeks until Christmas, then we're looking at 2012! Gosh my life's flying by these days.

Anyway, here are my September goals. You'll see a couple repeats from last month, because I didn't get to everything I'd hoped I would.

1. Paint the guest bed white.

2. Sand, re-stain and sell the Freecycle table on Craigslist

3. Make $50 on ebay and Craigslist (I'm hoping to list the table at $50, so this should be an easy goal to reach)

4. Read three new books

5. Apply to 4 jobs.

6. Lose 5 pounds.

Are you setting goals this month? What are your goals, and what do you think of mine?

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