Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cash For Gold- the sequel

Oh my gosh.

So remember here where I was debating going to the cash for gold place?  I divided out the jewelry I had and it fell out as follows:

10k
2 "pink ice" rings from childhood.  One wouldn't even fit on my pinky finger.

14k
1 rope chain
1 box chain
1 super thin "starter" chain (the kind you get when you buy a pendant)
1 lighthouse pendant
1 "pink ice" pendant

That's all I had.  It wasn't very heavy and by far the nicest piece was the rope chain and the lighthouse pendant.  I never cared for lighthouses (or yellow gold).

Anyway, I headed to this "Cash for Gold" place.  I wasn't sure what to expect- something like a pawnshop, I guess.  We pull in to a fairly nice commercial part of town, which was a load off my mind.  I didn't want to end up in the ghetto. 

I walked up and had to press a button to be buzzed in to the shop. Then, Tim & I were kept in this contained little room, while I spoke to a man through a glass window.  It was a little creepy.

I handed over my two small baggies of gold and stood waiting. That's really all I could do.  One of the owners went over each piece, evaluating the gold markings and then dumped it on a scale.  I have to admit I winced a bit to see it being so flippantly handled, but then again I've been neglecting it- some of it for 20 years or so.

He got the numbers from the scale (which I couldn't see) and did a calculation on his calculator, then weighed out the 10k pair of rings.

Grand total offered to me?  $372. 

I had to work to keep my jaw from hitting the floor. I honestly don't believe that much was spent on the jewelry in the first place. Seriously.

So, I took the money and ran lol!  They cut me a check right then.

We are trying to locate the original engagement ring which I mentioned in the earlier post.  I will happily take that back.  This place also purchases coins and other items- I seriously may have to do a housecleaning!

I'm glad I finally decided to take the gold.  I feel a little guilty, but I'll forget about it soon enough.

-Kristen

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where did my monies go?

I'm so glad Christmas is over.  Not just Christmas- the Day After Christmas is over as well.

I am ashamed to admit that during December, I overspent.  I kept finding so many wonderful deals- I bought when I shouldn't have.  For the most part, I bought things we needed. However, we probably didn't need them right then.

It's super easy to do.  The deals are flying fast and furious.  Free shipping, extra % off, price cuts.  Oh, it stresses me out just thinking about it! The couponing sites I frequent can barely keep up during the Christmas season!

The Day After Christmas (dun dun dunnnn) isn't much better.  Stores are desperate to get rid of their Christmas things and mark them down 50% off.  They are also desperate to get the few dollars you still have in your pocket. Everywhere you look is stuff, stuff, Stuff. It's enough to drive you insane.

I ended up buying some gift bags and tissue paper at Walmart yesterday.  I needed those and this is the best time to get them.  By the time items go 75% off, there probably will be nothing left.

However, I also found this...thing.  It preyed on my weakness.  It was... a kitchen gadget. Not just any kitchen gadget, it was a mini "donut" maker. I never knew I needed one until I found it 50% off.

I snatched it up, amazed no one else had seen it. I carried it to a scanner and there I read the news- $7. Oh yes, it would be mine.

I carried it home and a small, sane part of my mind started screaming "Use it as a Christmas Game Gift next year! Don't keep it! You don't need it! Stoooop".

Did I listen? Of course not. I held out until the evening, when I decided "just to look" at what you needed to have on hand to make these donuts. Unfortunately the recipe was simple. Too simple.

"We're making donuts!" I decreed at 9pm.  So we did.  It took forever because you can only make 6 at a time, the batter is VERY thick and each set takes approximately 2 1/2 minutes to cook.

Do they taste like donuts? Not really.  Are they delicious and super fattening anyway? You betcha.

I already have "opened the gift" remorse.  I could have left it alone, but in this time of gluttony (both spending and eating wise) I didn't wanna.  I won't even tell you about the other things I purchased yesterday. Sigh. It's time to get my game face back on. I need to set more goals so I don't get so tempted to piddle my money away on junk!  I think I'm going to attach a goal list to my debit card.  Then when I get ready to buy something, I have to see the goals I've set and think about how much spending this money now because I "want to" will hurt the goals of what I really want.

-Kristen

ETA: We went to Walmart today to grab some groceries.  I found another donut maker.  I snatched it up like the last life preserver on a sinking ship.  At least this one really will go to the gift closet!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Vacation Planning

Well, it's that time of year again. With Christmas over, Tim & I start trying to plan our vacation!

This year is a little unique, in that we won't be attending the National Convention for the rabbits, and the smaller Breed Nationals show is literally 20 minutes away for us.  This means I won't have to take any vacation days for either show.  No hotel fees, gas, food costs- none of it associated with the expensive larger shows, and no $15 an entry show fees!

So.  That means if we want to, we can take a really nice vacation! One with- dare I say it?- airfare.

Vacation planning time always depresses me just a little. It's hard to plan so far in advance.  What if we have a major bill come up? That happened to us last year, which cast a bit of a pall on Disney World.  What if I break a leg? What if, what if, what if.  Remember, I'm an excessive worry wart.

Not to mention, vacations are expensive.  I know they don't have to be, but even driving somewhere semi-locally, like the beach, can run in to some money.  After all, you have the gas expenses, plus food expenses and lord-forbid you want to go out and do things while you are there!  We do our best to offset our costs, which I will talk about in another post, but still, no matter what you do, vacations can drain your bank account.

Still- you're only young enough to really enjoy your vacations once, right?  For instance- I don't think Vegas at 80 would be the same amount of fun as Vegas at 30.

Besides, Tim lets me ruin our vacation days with rabbit shows.  He deserves a super nice one every little bit. I might even let him decide where we go.

Though I retain full veto power, of course.

-Kristen

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prayers and Thoughts Needed

If you could, please keep my friend's son in your prayers and thoughts.  "Squeaker", as she nicknamed him, is only 5 years old, but on Wednesday he faces a brain surgery.

Squeaker was diagnosed with autism this year and was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation (type 1) two years ago. This malformation is what is sending him to surgery just a few days before Christmas.

Tim & I are going to go down to visit our friends as soon as I get off of work on Wednesday.  While I am thrilled to see them again (it's been 5 years- yes, we've never met Squeaker, but I do remember him as a bulge in his Mama's belly) I'd happily never see them again if it meant we wouldn't be headed to a hospital.

So if you get an opportunity today, tomorrow or any day, please think of Squeaker and his family!


ETA:  Squeaker is out of surgery! Things went more quickly than they expected and he's out early.  No incidents, hooray!

-Kristen

Monday, December 19, 2011

GO HEELS!


 Tim and I are lucky enough that tonight we get to go watch my UNC Tar Heels play basketball!

It's not a very exciting game- we're playing Nicholl's State.  We also don't have the best seats- middle way up the second level, but there is something absolutely electric about being in the "Dean Dome".

It's hard to describe to someone that isn't a sports fan, or to someone who has never been there.   My Alma Mater has fielded some of the greatest athletes of all time- and basketball is no exception.  You may have heard of a little someone called "His Airness"- Mr. Michael Jordan.  I could spend the rest of the post gushing about our top-notch players, but I'll move on.


The Dean Dome is electric.  Nearly 22,000 people can be seated there.  When the Tar Heels play a team like hated rival Duke, you can literally breathe the energy. Your heart pounds, your body tingles, your concentration and focus are solely on the 10 men on the court.  It's a place of tears, joy and the feeling that you can't truly be there- it's hallowed ground for the Carolina faithful.  Around you are people that feel just as strongly as you do. Carolina Basketball is not just a game, it's a way of life.  It's something that if you didn't grow up around here, you can never truly understand.

I was spoiled enough to spend 4 years attending nearly every basketball game there. I've been back twice, to celebrate the Century of Basketball events.  I saw some of the greats take each other on- I got to see players I grew up watching on tv.  It was incredible.   Since I graduated in 2006, I've never been back to see the Tar Heels play a serious game.

Part of the problem is money.  Carolina tickets are expensive and the demand is outrageous. We've even tried to purchase tickets in fan sections of away games- whereas a normal ticket might be $20, when UNC comes to town, the price triples- or more.  These are even for the worst seats in the place!

We lucked out though and were able to snatch up a pair for a low-profile game at a reasonable price.  No doubt the fact it's so close to Christmas helps us out.

So tonight at 7pm, I'll be in the Dean Dome again.  For 2 hours, I'll be home.

-Kristen

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Acute Bronchitis

I do so love my propensity for bronchitis.  About 5 years ago I ended up with chronic bronchitis.  Thanks to have no insurance and being very stubborn, it progressed to the point that though I had fought off the virus, my throat continued to spasm, causing me to eventually need an inhaler to help "paralyze" my throat so it could heal.

Fun.

I was sick a few weeks ago and while I was well on the way to mending, I wasn't quite there when I had the wreck.  Not long after that, the "plague" returned with a vengeance.  I finally headed to a CVS "Minute Clinic" on Thursday, where I was diagnosed with Acute Bronchitis.  They loaded me up with enough medicine to choke a horse and here I am now- still hacking up a lung, but at least able to mostly sleep through the nights!

The thing that sucks the most about bronchitis is once you have it, you seem to be more at risk to get it again.

Hopefully the copious amounts of codeine-cough-syrup, my inhaler and the benzonatate pills help me get it under control sooner, rather than later.

-Kristen

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Back to work tomorrow!

I head back to work tomorrow, after having been out three days due to being unable to speak.

I'm a little nervous heading back, because my fill-in tends to want to completely rearrange my desk when I am not there, even if she is only going to be there for a day.  Not...ok.

I suspect I'll be bombarded with questions about the wreck and my illness. That's my least favorite thing to deal with in my life- answering the same questions over and over and over and over and over.  I appreciate the concern, but I'd much rather just not have to talk about anything.  Between explaining to various family members, the insurance (2-3 times) etc, I'm kind of talked out about it.

Oh well, at least this week won't be written off as a total loss and tomorrow is payday!



-Kristen

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quick Update

Just a quick update- I haven't really felt like blogging and since my days have consisted of sitting on the couch being miserable, there hasn't been a lot to talk about.

I lost my voice on Saturday.  It is finally starting to come back today.  I was starting to worry!  I have missed two days of work so far and I suspect I'll miss tomorrow as well- I don't really want to go back too soon and lose it again, but I am eager to start making money again.

Today I did manage to organize the Christmas closet a bit.  I threw a few things away, broke down a couple of boxes and managed to put 3 Christmas cards in the mailbox.  We're woefully behind on cards and I am thinking I won't get them all done.

I checked the mail- 10 letters from lawyers and 1 from a chiropractor.  The joys of public records, huh?  Ambulance Chasers at least keep the Post Office in business, I suppose.

An insurance agent called yesterday.  It wasn't ours, which I didn't realize at first because I was unable to take a phone call due to not being able to talk.  This person talked to Tim and from his answers, I became suspicious and ordered him to stop talking to the person.  He was not at the accident and not authorized to speak on my behalf in this case, especially not to an insurance agent that is not mine.  As you may guess, I'm a little PO'd.

We still haven't learned if the caliber is totaled or not. I am hoping to get some word today, but if not, I may call Geico and find out what's up.

-Kristen

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week of Hell

I sit here not sure where to begin.  I caught some kind of plague Sunday/Monday and I am still trying to fight that off.

Wednesday I busted up my knee pretty badly, which I posted pictures of.

Thursday I was in a car accident.  I don't feel like I can do a lot of talking about that right now, but we will hopefully know Monday if the car is totaled or not.

The one bright spot in this horrific week was yesterday.  Even it came with a price!

We went out with friends to Olive Garden and had such a great time.  Then they came to a Chili cook-off at one of Tim's churches... which I won!

However, today I can't speak.  At all. I can croak out a few words, with much effort, but that's about it.  I think I really overdid it yesterday.  I heard myself getting hoarse last night, but I stopped speaking and it didn't do much to save my voice. 

Sigh.

-Kristen

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rain of Death

It's been a very rainy few days. I am not a fan of driving in the rain because it seems like people lose any sense they have- driving too fast, driving entirely too slowly on highways- not to mention the flooding roads and hydroplaning dangers.

The most dangerous part yesterday came during a period where I wasn't driving... and it wasn't raining.

I have to bring home mail from work to put in our mailbox because my job is terrified that someone is going to steal their mail.  No joke.  This is not important mail.  I promise.

Anyway, I was headed to the mailbox and as I stepped off our driveway to the area in front of the box, my right foot slid in the mud and pea gravel that someone decided was sufficient to put around a mailbox. I turned that ankle and then lurched forward trying to keep my balance.  It didn't work.

I slammed hard on to the road, my purse, lunchbox, part of the mail and my coat all landing in the mud.  Joy. I skinned up a hand and lost part of a toenail (yes.. it is December and I am still wearing flip flops.  Don't judge me.)

I managed to gather up my items. From there it was a painstakingly slow lurch to the door, where I had to get Tim to let me in.  From there, it was time to access the damage.

I'm not going to say I'm clumsy, but let's just say that I have skinned up my knees more than my fair share.  That's perhaps why I knew instantly my leg was bleeding.

Boy was I right.

Knees are so attractive, even when they aren't covered in blood.
Yup, joy joy, I really tore that sucker up.  Thankfully I was wearing a new pair of jeans.  They spared me most of the trouble.

Slightly cleaned up, slightly less red, still very swollen.  My kneecap is still popping in and out.


So there you have it.  What a joy.  Just when I was getting over the plague Tim shared with me, I turn an ankle and murder a knee.   River can't figure out why I don't want to play and why she can't cuddle right now.

Oh well, the good news is Tim took care of the animals for me yesterday so I didn't have to hop around and try to do it.

-Kristen

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cash for Gold?

I'm thinking about selling some gold jewelry.  No, this isn't a "Gift of the Magi" situation where I have to sell precious things to buy Christmas gifts.  I don't even have to sell the jewelry at all.

My thought is:  The price of gold is crazy high right now.  I have several rings from when I was little that I didn't even wear then (only 10k gold, so not worth much). I've got various gold earrings missing mates, etc.  I have a 14k gold rope necklace that I never, ever wear.  It's yellow gold.  I don't do yellow gold and despite knowing this, family members persisted in buying me yellow gold jewelry when I was younger.

Frankly, I much prefer white gold or sterling silver.

We also have my original engagement ring- the one Tim proposed with.  It's bulky and frankly very ugly. That's why it's not the engagement ring I wear.

My point is, all of this is just sitting around, being worthless to me.  I could try to sell it in pieces on craigslist, but that seems like more hassle than it is worth. I think I could take it in to a jewelry store and get a good price on it all.  Then I could use the money on something worthwhile.
Note: I would never send my gold away in one of those envelopes, having no idea how much money I could get for it.  To begin with, once you put it in the mailbox, that gold is irretrievable.  If you don't like what they send you money-wise, to bad, so sad, it's already been melted down and they can't track it anyway.  These are scams.

Sentimentally, I wouldn't mind keeping the gold necklace and charm.  It was a gift, after all.  Then again, I really don't ever wear it.  Eventually it will get lost or stolen.

So really, the most responsible thing seems to be to just let it all roll...right?

Ugh.  Maybe I'll see what Tim thinks.  Of course, I can pretty much tell you what he'll say right now. "It's up to you.  You don't have to sell it, but you can if you want to.  Whatever you think is best."

That can be so unhelpful.

-Kristen

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

River's big day

On Black Friday morning we loaded the car up in preparation for heading to the mountains for a Thanksgiving gathering with Tim's family.

River has grown so big that we don't have a kennel we can use for her that will also fit in our car and leave any room, so we decided to use one of the flattened kennels to keep her from crawling in to the front with us and just leave her loose in the back with all of our things.

Sounds like a fool-proof plan, yes?

We got both Dixie and Bear loaded up in to their travel kennels and settled securely in the back of the caliber beside our luggage and their toys.  River was watching with anxious eyes, trying to figure out just what was going on and why she wasn't kenneled.

Tim lays a blanket out in the back for her, then we turn to load up the last few items, when suddenly a golden blur launches itself into the air...and in to the back of the car!

She curled up in front of the other two dogs and hunkered down like she was terrified we were going to kick her out of the car and leave her at the house alone.  Doofus.

We made a pit stop at PetSmart to take advantage of their $8.99 38lb jugs of cat litter (I had a $5 coupon, it made it $3.99!)

It was River's first time ever being in a store and she was not a big fan.  I had to stop dead when she refused to walk through the sliding doors.  A tween boy came up, petted her, then stuck his mouth right at hers so she could give him mouth kisses (totally gross) and after that I was able to coax her inside.   From there, we stopped dead a few times, ran in circles and tried to press up against small children because they were around her size and were comforting, I guess.   I picked up a few toys for their Christmas stocking and the squeakers really helped distract her.  I think she suspected every adult was going to try to beat her, but after the fourth person just had to come pet her, she started to realize that the strangers weren't scary.

We hit the road and stopped again at a PetSmart in Hickory.  I was hoping to catch a friend that worked there so she could see how big River has grown.  Joni was the first person to see the puppy when we got her, but wouldn't you know we had missed her by about 20 minutes?   This trip in to the store went way better, as River had come to expect lovins from people she didn't know.  The heart-attack of the trip came when she bee-lined straight for a huge dog outside (he looked like an Anatolian Shepherd mix- huge) and started licking his mouth and wiggling her tail.  We thought she was going to be scared of the big dog and instead she treats him like her long lost brother!  Thankfully Buckley was a very friendly male who was so nice to a very irritating little puppy.

We made the rest of the trip without incident.  River was beautifully behaved in the car and she actually behaved herself at my in-laws house!  Could it be- could my little wild child finally be growing up?

-Kristen

Monday, December 5, 2011

Back in the Saddle

So, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Years ago- and I do mean years, I started writing a novel.  I was fifteen at the time. My computer crashed and I lost it all.  I started over at sixteen and worked on it as time allowed for two years.  Then my laptop died and I lost it.

I started another novel, since I didn't have the heart to try to rewrite the first two.  I worked on it a while and would hit a block.  School, getting married, work, moving- so many things kept getting in the way.  Then I'd start reading it to try to get the creative flow back and it would dissolve in to frantic edits, rewrites, etc.  Then I'd try to write more, but still be bogged down by something that didn't read perfectly (in my mind).

Tim got the information off of the original laptop for me as a gift one year.  I had my original novel back! Oh but it was awful.  Ok, it wasn't awful.  The story wasn't bad, but it was written when I was so young that the sentence structure was overly simplistic and it was just- well, childish writing.  I also leaned too heavily on what I knew from reading, rather than creating a more unique world.  So the rewrites began.

Then I got frustrated, put both novels aside and haven't touched either in two years.  I think I'm ready to pick them up again and finally get them finished.  My goal is to read the notes I kept around about each story, tweak my outline a bit, then just start reading.  No rewrites.  What is the point of having a beautifully edited story that is only half completed?

So- I'm back in the writing saddle. I'm ready to see where this might take me.

Wish me luck! Promise that if I can get it published, you'll buy a copy. 

-Kristen

Thursday, December 1, 2011

If I had a million dollars (or 30 million or so... you know, whatever)

 
So, I asked the other day what you'd do if you had $30 Million bucks or so.  After taxes, of course, because this is our fantasy and we don't wanna pay no stinkin' taxes.

Let's say I win it in the lottery.  So there it is- the winning ticket in my hand.  The very first thing I'm gonna do is get a lawyer.  I want papers drawn up preventing my name and information being released as a lottery winner.  Oh yes, I am not going to have people banging at my door asking me to invest in their electric sponge idea.

Then I'm cashing it in for one lump sum (I know I can get more in the long run if I take it in payments, but screw that, I just won millions, I'm taking it lump sum and running with it).   There it is! $30 million dollars.


Money money money money money.

Next, I pay off every scrap of debt I own.  All of it.  Tim's student loans, both cars- bam, done.  It's a drop in the bucket, it barely dents in to my $30M.

Next? I pay off my Dad's house and then buy him another, with lots of land.  He can rent out the other one or burn it to the ground, I don't care.  Then buy him a new truck.  Then a cool million goes in to the bank in his name.  Bam. However, it's with the caveat he does not pay off my brother's stuff.  The brat needs to grow up (yeah I am still bitter.  Even with my millions.)  I'd pay off a hunk of my mom's existing debt, then she's on her own.

Next, I pay off my in-law's house and toss them a cool million as well.  I get along really well with Tim's parents.  I know, it's weird to me too, but I'm lucky.


Now let's see... I still have a good $27 million dollars.  Time to go shopping...

... for a house of course! I pick out a beautiful set of property, I'm thinking 50 acres minimum, then I custom build a home for it.  We're probably looking at a million dollars by the time I'm done.  Most of that will be in land costs, but let's face it- the economy sucks and I'll be paying cash.  I expect a very good deal to be made on the acreage (in fact, I already have it picked out! Buwahaha).

Then let's see.  $100,000 in a fund for my sister-in-law, that she can't touch until she is 30 years old. Buwahahaha, I am evil, but it will give her some valuable real-life experience.

I've also got some friends I'd like to help out- trips, buying a few nice things here and there, helping out with *some* debt- that kind of thing.  However, I would have to say it would be hard to know your true friends if you came in to a lot of money and I definitely wouldn't be accepting applications for new ones! :)

Now that I've walked you through my spending of a good 5 million dollars, I won't bore you with investment strategies, or of the descriptions of the massively wonderful vacations I plan on taking.  Nor will I bore you with barn designs, horses, etc.

*sigh*

Yeah, definitely need to start buying those lottery tickets!

-Kristen

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So Over Working

I'm So. Over. Working.

Really.

Truly.

I don't like it.

Sigh.  Too bad our society still uses that pesky thing called money.

This isn't how it was supposed to go, you know.   After graduating with my double degrees from the university of my dreams, it was all going to be awesome.  A job I loved, a paycheck I loved, an area I loved- no worries.

Instead, what happened?  It was hard to find work.  I was stuck in a job I despised, but that loved me- with opportunity to advance.  We moved to a place with no employment, unless you happened to be Bubba's third cousin twice removed.  No jobs for outsiders, you know.  The economy collapsed.  Jobs shriveled up.  It became a "take what you can get, because it's the only game in town" world.

So I eked out money with my crappy retail job, while Tim was paid bare minimum in a place we hated with people that hated us.

Then we got to move again.  Back to an area I loved.  Surely back near a large city there would be jobs! I was back in the area I grew up in.  My turf.  Try to stop me now.  Sure, there were setbacks, but I was home.  The economy would start picking up any time now.

Yeah.

So here I am again.  I'm lucky I have a job, I really am.  The first few months I was worried.  The only jobs I could find were second-shift mill jobs or fast food jobs.  I'm not a snob- ok maybe I am.  I don't want to work at McDonalds.  I don't want to work a second-shift mill job.  My parents and my grandparents busted their butts doing things like that so I don't have to.  That's the true American Dream.  Work hard at a job that is better than your parents had, so your kids can have better than you.  I'm not disparaging anyone.  I'm just being honest.  No one dreams as a small child, "I want to work for barely minimum wage."

Anyway.  So this job opened up.  It seemed like a miracle.  It was part time, but pays a good bit above minimum wage. It seemed pretty low-stress and while it wasn't my dream job, it was a job.

It sucks.  Not only do I not have enough to do, none of what I do is important. I get some compliments, which is nice, but I don't think they half pay attention to things I try to improve.  In fact, I mostly only hear from people because something wasn't done instantly.  Lord forbid I forget something, when it's something that you should really be doing yourself in the first place.

So, I coupon like crazy and do my online surveys (which I am doing simultaneously as I blog) to supplement my income so that we can pay off debt quicker and begin saving to become rich. Ha.  Rich.

Regardless, I'm so "over" working.   What would you do if you hit the lottery and hit it big?  Let's say 30 million bucks in your pocket, after taxes.   I've got a plan and I'll post it in a day or two.

Now I just need to get out there and start buying tickets.

-Kristen

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving- the condensed version

Hooray, Hooray! Thanksgiving is over.

I know it's bad to feel that way, but there is always plenty of stress to go around and despite the entire day being much less annoying than I had anticipated, there still were a few hiccups.

We headed out to my mom's for lunch- which started 30 minutes late because my Maw-Maw will be late for her own funeral.  To her credit, she did manage to get there before my brother though.  I was "adopted" by my Mom's-Husband's-Son's- 2 year old daughter Hayden. After 20 minutes of peeking at me and staring at me from around my mom, I finally just said "What!"  This is apparently how you make a 2-year old your bestie.  After that I had to push her on the swing outside for a good 15 minutes, which apparently just does not happen.  Only my mom is ever allowed to push her on the swing.  Following that, I had to carry her around the house, except the brief period of time when I convinced her to go play with her Dad's girlfriend's daughter (who's name escapes me).   She is a funny kid- she was climbing up me trying to get a hat (which Tim had tossed on her head and she threw back at him).  I knocked it off the back of the couch by accident, exclaiming "Oh Crap." Immediately she hollers "OH CRAP!"   It simultaneously cracked me up and made me feel bad that I had probably introduced a new word in to her vocabulary.

We left my mom's early.  I took a plate of food to my Dad, who I knew hadn't eaten yet (even though it was 3:30) and we sat around just enjoying each other's company until it was time to head to his side of the family's event. It went off pretty well, mainly because the younger cousins all stayed in the backroom and weren't underfoot.  Since my Aunt Teena has a small baby, she won't allow my Maw-Maw to smoke when the baby is there, so we only had to deal with two cigarettes as well (prior to the baby arriving).

The biggest headache of the day came when my Maw-Maw gave Tim her dachshund because "No one takes care of it".  She's supposed to belong to one of my younger cousins, but the dog is covered in fleas, my Maw-Maw can't take care of her, the cousin doesn't want her, etc. etc.  As we were walking out of the door with the dog, WWIII started as my aunt Teena got annoyed, the cousins were screaming "They are taking your dog! They are taking Rosie!" and the cousin in question had to be called for 15 minutes before she finally slunk in the living room with a half-hearted "Yeah. I want her."  It was ridiculous, because my grandmother had used Tim's good-hearted nature (he felt bad for the dog, we didn't want her) to try to make it in to this "Well then you better take care of her or she will really be given away" life-lesson.  Oh I was MAD.

At least Thanksgiving is over! I won't see my Maw-Maw or that side of the family other than my dad again until next year since their Christmas Party is always on Christmas Eve and Tim has a church service.

-Kristen

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Exhausted

I am so tired.  I need to do a Thanksgiving post, a black friday post, a second Thanksgiving post,  a car post, a dog post-

but definitely not tonight!

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving!

-Kristen

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

So THAT'S what family is for...

First, a little background.

My brother is nearly 8 years younger than I am, aging in at 19 years old.  He went to a one year Auto Diesel School (highly ranked) to work on vehicles, but he went with paint and body work instead of something helpful like engines. Since it was a one year program, he is now out of school and living with my dad.

Thanks to this crappy economy and the fact that North Carolina is having some serious economic struggles, my dad was laid off work and went the full 99 weeks without being able to find employment.  He was eventually able to find a very crappy job paying very crappy wages, but it's enough, just barely, to squeak by on.

Fast forward to now.  My little brother's car (which he traded in his reliable truck for) is broken down, he doesn't have the money to fix it (despite being employed) and no one can/will co-sign a loan for him.  He asks me and I agree, though I told him to wait until after I got back from Indianapolis.  I figured that would give him at least another week or two to save money out of his paycheck, minimizing his loan amount.  We had quite the conversation about interest rates, interest compounding, saving money, etc.  You know me and money.

He hasn't mentioned the loan again and believe me when I say I am not going to beg to help him.  Ya know?



Anyway, I find out last night that he has not saved an additional dime towards getting his car fixed and it's been over a month since he asked me for help.    Not my business, you are saying? He's an adult, you are saying?  No.  The moment he asks for my help financially, even just securing a loan, it becomes my business.
Regardless, what irks me the most is he isn't helping my Dad out with bills at all.  Not a dime.  Oh, he's sure causing the power bill to go up.  He's sure hauling his girlfriend around and eating up the food my Dad has in the house.  Why in the world should he contribute to the bills?  He's not saving to get his car fixed.  He is literally blowing every paycheck as soon as he gets his hands on it.

I coupon so hard because I provide certain necessities to my family.  I take my dad toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, toilet paper, shampoo- the toiletries necessary.  My brother, of course, gets to glom on and use these items. He doesn't even have to spend money on toiletries.  Yet he can't find it in his miserly little heart to help out on the bills?  He can't pay even a paltry $50 a month to help out his own father?  Yes, he knows exactly the financial dire straights my dad is in.  In fact, I've turned down Christmas and Birthday gifts from my dad for the past 2 years because I knew he would give even when he couldn't afford to.  Greedy guts snatches his up, of course.

I was so mad I could have eaten metal shavings and spit nails when I found out exactly what was going on financially over there.  It would be one thing if the boy was desperately saving every penny he could get his hands on to get his car fixed.  Instead, he's out living the life, going to movies, out to restaurants, burning up the roads between where he is living and his girlfriend's house (in my old car, I might add).  Meanwhile, my dad sits at home and sometimes makes it to work only on a prayer and thanks to the fumes in the gas tank.

I guess this is what family is for- to mooch off of, to treat them like slaves and to only take, take, take, without giving anything back.  My brother was going to move to Florida and move in with a friend of his and his family, pay them $350 in rent per month and yet he can't give a single red cent to his own flesh and blood who is struggling, partially because of the financial burden he's helping to create by causing the bills to go up.

Looks like we're going to have to sit down for a little "Come to Jesus" talk. If you aren't familiar with that term, don't think for an instant it means a sweet, polite discussion.

-Kristen

Monday, November 21, 2011

Regifting

As the holiday season approaches, we reach the sticky subject of Regifting.

Is it right, is it wrong? Let's see.

NEVER EVER EVER regift something that has been used or opened. I'm sorry, that's tacky. Would you give someone a cookie with a big bite taken out of it? No. Or if you would, please don't ever give me a gift lol.

Don't regift crappy gifts. Wait, I know, that's generally WHY we regift, but if YOU don't want that sweater with the sequined puppies on it, obviously no one else will either. Donate it to a charity or take it back to the store if you can't bring yourself to keep it.

If you DO regift, try to do it for a separate group of friends. If your usual group consists of you, Friend A and Friend B, don't take A's gift and give it to B. Chances are, A is gonna see it and recognize it- or else, you'll have to lie about it and that's never good.

What if someone gives me a coffee maker? I don't like coffee, I don't drink it and I never make it. As long as I don't open the box, this is a gift that could easily go to someone else- perhaps someone that DOES drink coffee. Of course, I could also just return it to the store (if I have a reasonable idea where it comes from).

So, in short, I'm ok with regifting, if done properly. Make sure it's a clean, unused item that actually fits the person or is something you genuinely think they'll enjoy. If you really hate the item, take it back to the store or give it to charity. There is always the yard sale option.

-Kristen

Friday, November 18, 2011

Coupon-Stravaganza

I got a letter in the mail from Purina today, sending my "prizes" from when I spent every day at 11am competing against other people for one of 1,000 coupons on their dog and cat website. 

What did I get?

FREE  3.5lb bag of Purina One Cat Food 
FREE  4lb bag of Purina One Dog Food

FREE  (1) Purina Beneful Dog Food Prepared Meals
FREE  (2) trays of Fancy Feast Appetizers for Cats
FREE  (2) cans of Friskies Tasty Treasures Canned Cat Food
FREE  6lb bag of Purina Cat chow
FREE (2) cans of Purina ONE Wholesome Entrees Dog Food
FREE 3.15lb bag of Friskies Cat Food
FREE 1 package of Purina Busy HeartyHide chew treat
FREE 14lb jug of Tidy Cats
FREE (2) cans of Alpo Dog Food
FREE  (2) cans of Friskies Tasty Treasures Canned Cat Food
FREE  (1) can of Purina ONE cat food
FREE  (1) 10 oz. package of Purina T-bonz dog snack
FREE  6lb bag of Purina Cat chow
FREE  7lb bag of Purina Beneful dog food
FREE  1 3.5 oz. package of Busy brand Chew Treat
FREE 3.15lb bag of Friskies Cat Food

OH yes, I made out like a bandit.  All I had to do was remember each day at 11:00am to refresh the Purina Cares page, type in my info and hit submit.  That's literally all I did. Now I'm going to reap the benefits in the form of a lot of free pet food and treats. It took me less than 5 minutes each day.

Now who doesn't have the time to coupon?

-Kristen

      

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Using it all- Apples!


I'm a baking fiend lately. Mainly because my boss gave me yet another bag of apples and I don't want them to go bad. Above is pictured an apple pie I made- it cost very little to make, even though I splurged and purchased a crust instead of doing a homemade one this time. Making your own apple pie is SO MUCH CHEAPER than buying one- I promise I don't have $8-$10 worth of ingredients in this!



I'm also making some apple butter. This can be refrigerated for up to 6 weeks, then frozen for longer storage. It can also be canned. This makes a fantastic gift and I'll be sharing the recipe soon- it's super easy to make and tastes great!


Uh oh- I still have apples left! Did you know apples can be frozen? So don't worry if you buy a bag and know you won't make enough recipes to use the bag! Freezing apples now is a great way to take advantage of their current low low prices!

Look for the apple butter and apple pie recipes soon.

I keep the peels to the apples in the freezer and I bring them out as treats for the rabbits, a few pieces at a time. They really appreciate the little something special.  Even our dogs will eat small pieces of apple.

-Kristen

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

River Walk

With the weather being so nice the past few days and with River being "street legal" now (she's got all her puppy shots and her Rabies vaccine), we decided to take her and Dixie on a walk.

When we first introduced the leash to River, she dug her heels in and refused to move.  No matter how much coaxing you did or how long you waited, she was prepared to out wait you.

I turned to Mr. Outside Lead for help.  When we were outside taking care of the other animals or playing with the other dogs, River was put on the outside lead.  It's no fun when you're sitting on the deck refusing to move and no one else is paying attention to you, so it didn't take long for her to realize she could move, even with a very negligible weight hanging from her neck.  This led to the second thing she learned that day:  Running full tilt is not always a good idea, since that tiny weight can also cause you to do a complete backwards flip when you hit the end of it.  Once we realized she hadn't broken her neck, Tim and I laughed and laughed over that one.

We've worked her a little on her leash, but this was the first time she's been out in public and I have to say she did really well.  I sent Tim and Dixie on ahead and every time River tried to pull me, we stopped dead.  It didn't take her very long at all to realize she had to stay within a certain range to keep moving forward.   After she managed more than three feet without pulling me, I gave in and did a light jog with her, so we could catch up to the others.  She loved it and performed really well, staying right by my side while we ran.  Of course, she continued to misbehave off and on for the rest of the walk, but I'm confident that she'll grasp the loose-leash walking in no time.

Unfortunately, Dixie can only handle two laps of the track with her stubby little legs before she's done.  She made it perfectly clear we were headed back to the car.  It actually worked out fairly well though, since I didn't want to overdo the training with River.

It was nice to be walking the dogs around in November.  I guess we had better enjoy it now, before the freezing cold gets here.

-Kristen

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Psychology of Shopping

When you're out shopping, you need to be aware of how stores prey on you.  There is an entire psychology to shopping and advertising.

Push Early and Often

Wanna know why every store out there already has Christmas items on the shelves? Do ya? Because they are trying to get in your head. Christmas is pushed out at you early and often so that you freak out about it, you start buying early, you forget what you've already got and buy more.... or you trick yourself in to overspending. Why would they want you to wait for the holiday offers, if you go on and buy it early at full price?

Up the Prices Before a Sale

This happens all the time and is something you'll see more often at mass merchandisers. Get a new _______ for only $9.99!!!!!!!!!!!!!! On sale from $12.99!!!! Problem is, that item was $9.99 to begin with.  The price was bumped up for a few weeks and now it's bumping back down to the original price, but people snatch them up, thinking what a great deal it is! Not cool, but it happens.  Anyone that buys the item at $12.99 is just an added bonus.

One Item on Sale

This one makes me the maddest. Get a new super awesome vacuum only at Lowes for $89!! Normally priced $140! In the mad rush to get to Lowes (or whatever store it is) people lose their minds- only to get there and discover there was only ONE item in stock.  However, wouldn't you like to check out our other merchandise, now that you are here? It's a very hateful way to do business, but they are only required to have 1 of the sale items in stock to put it in their advertising. This comes out A LOT on Black Friday. In fact, at Sears one year if you had a magnifying glass and could have read the tiny little print in the midst of all the ads, you'd have seen that they advertised items not even all the stores carried! But hey, while you're here, might as well take advantage of our other deals... right?

Empty Shelves

Empty Shelves are a great way to force people to buy things they aren't sure about. After all, if there are only a few items left, it must be a great gift and a great deal! And if you wait to buy it, it might SELL OUT COMPLETELY and you've missed out! OH NO, better take two, just in case. This is something stores know and they often contrive to have empty shelves, or just a few items of something in stock at a time- especially if they aren't sure how it's going to sell.

Imposing Limits


Have you seen a not-so-great deal and then seen something like "limit 5 per customer"?  I often see these and think "Who would want one at that price, much less 5?"   Like the Empty Shelves tactic, this creates an urgency in a consumer's mind.  If they have to limit how many you can get at that price, it must be a great deal! Better buy the limit!

Hot New Toy List!!

Anyone remember Tickle Me Elmo? Folks buying them for thousands of dollars on Ebay, riots at stores, losing any sanity they still had at Christmas time... What about Furbys? Beanie Babies? Holiday Barbies?

It's the Hot New Toy List! Here are the Top 10 toys you must buy this Christmas to be a good parent, to make sure your child can keep up with the Jones' child. Rush right out there and buy it, no matter what! If you aren't sure what to get your kid, this will tell you. Can't afford it now? By all means, put it on a credit card, because this just won't be Christmas without all 10 toys under the tree.

It's all a ploy. You get people geared up and ready to fight for something they perceive their child wants and needs, when I'm sure 90% of the kids don't even want these items. Who decides this list anyway? Toy companies, Credit Card companies, Merchandisers? I know as a kid, most of the items on the Top Ten List I had never even seen or heard of it.

So be smart when you shop! Buy what you want, when you want it and don't let the holiday ploys trick you in to spending too much on junk you didn't want to begin with!

-Kristen

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is episodes of depression that occur at a certain time of the year, usually during winter.  It can also be known as the winter blues, winter depression or seasonal depression.

I suffer from SAD.  It was never bad enough that I really noticed it until we moved to the mountains and were in a place full of horrible people who seemed to suck the joy and happiness out of everyone around them.  We have been away from them for a year and a half now and it's still painful to talk about.

This post isn't about them though.

I finally figured out (after two years of fairly severe depression and a brief stint of near-alcoholism, that will come into another post) that what was happening to me was seasonal depression.  It helped to have a name for the problem, but it didn't make things any easier.

Whenever I started feeling really low, Tim and I would try to take a little day-trip somewhere.  We'd spend a whole day exploring parts of nearby towns, shopping and having a nice lunch or dinner out at little hole-in-the-wall places.  It would help a bit, the planning of the event and then the event itself would buy me three or even four days of feeling almost normal, then it was back in the dumps.

Last year, we moved to where we currently live.  My SAD wasn't nearly as severe.  I attribute that to being happier in general- we're around kinder people, closer to my family and we have friends nearby.  However- I wasn't without depression.  I posted before that I am an extreme worry-wart and that seems to make my problem worse.  This year I'm already worrying about January and February, the months that seem to affect me the worst.

However, this isn't just a depressing post.  I've been researching Light Therapy for several months and I am about to take the plunge and buy a device.

While full sunlight is preferred for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), light boxes may be effective for the treatment of the condition. Light boxes for seasonal affective disorder are designed to filter out most UV light, which can cause eye and skin damage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of light boxes to treat SAD due to unclear results in clinical trials, but light therapy is still seen as the main form of treatment for SAD. (Thanks Wikipedia). 
It's hard to know exactly which box to buy.  The most affordable are very small, however I think a perfect time to use a device would be while on the computer- blogging or checking emails.  It would be nice to have a portable system to take on trips, which argues against a larger box.

When I do purchase one, I'll be sure to post the details here, as well as a review of my results.   I'm hopeful that I'll have found a cure for my winter blues!

-Kristen

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Crockpot: Garlic Lime Chicken

4 chicken breasts
Lime juice ( I use "Real Lime"- the equivalent of 2 limes, approximately 1/4 cup)
2 cloves of garlic, minced (I used pre-minced garlic)
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth (I make my own with a boullion cube)
1 cup uncooked instant rice
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tbsp dried thyme (optional)

Place your chicken breasts in your crock pot, then use the juice from your limes to drizzle over the chicken. 

Use more or less depending on your tastes, but lime can be a little strong when you use the drippings for the rice later on, so I urge you to err on the side of caution the first time you make this!

Add the minced garlic, then pour your chicken broth in.

Add the black pepper and dried thyme.

Cover and cook on low heat 8-10 hours, or high heat for 4-5 hours.

I skim out some of the broth the chicken has been cooking in, trying to leave any fat hunks or grossness in the pot. If I'm lacking what I need to cook the rice, I make it up in a little extra chicken broth (I seriously just break off a small piece of bullion and add more water), then cook my rice separately.  When it's done, serve the chicken over the rice!

-Kristen

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Worry Wart


I'm such an incredible worrier. I don't know when I became this way or maybe I've just repressed memories of being such a worry-wart from my childhood.  Wait- yep, there comes a few memories.  I've apparently always been this way.  Whew, at least it's not because I'm getting old.  Yet.

One of my many goals in life is to learn to let things go when I can't control them- or worse, when they haven't even happened yet.


I worry I'm the only person in the world that does this.  Oops, no wait.  I'm not going to worry about that.   Anyway, I am possibly the only person in the world that lies awake at night and invents scenarios to worry over, based on events that haven't even happened yet.   "Well, if she says this, then I'll say that, but then if she gets mad, then that means this won't happen and if that doesn't happen then they are not going to be able to..."

Take a deep breath and let it all go.

If it hasn't even happened yet, it might not happen that way at all (which I've noticed is often the case).  Even if it has, my worrying over someone else's reaction is not serving a purpose.

I think a lot of this stems from my desire to be prepared.  If I worry, I work out scenarios and have a bit of control over the situation, even if it seems out of control.  Instead, I spend sleepless nights tossing and turning over things that never happen.  I spend energy I could devote elsewhere to running scenes through my head trying to map out a course of action I will probably never need.

I need to learn just to let it all go. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  Although inside of me, a little part is screaming "But what if you get there and need a rope?"

-Kristen

Friday, November 11, 2011

Today's the day!



It's here! It's here!

The start of college basketball is here!

Today, my beloved Tar Heels place Michigan State on an aircraft carrier!

Around here, we are huge Tar Heel fans.  My Dad, little brother and his rival-team loving girlfriend are actually coming over to watch the game.  The girlfriend has been put on notice that one negative comment about my team will be cause to remove her from the house.

Carolina basketball games are truly the highlight of the winter for me.  It's cold, it's miserable, I have seasonal depression, there are few rabbit shows- but there is always college basketball!  No worries about lock-outs or contract negotiations.  No one dragging their feet because they wanted to be drafted by this time, not that team- just pure love of the game.

I am thrilled that my boys in light blue are ranked #1 in the preseason.  I look forward to seeing if they are ranked #1 in the postseason.

-Kristen

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cheaper Insurance?

We went to the bank the other day, an errand I'm torn about.  On the one hand, I hate having to stand in line and then wait at the counter while the tellers take forever to process just a few checks.  Then again, going to the bank means it was payday and payday means money!

Anyway, I was in my local credit union when I noticed a new flyer- they are now offering insurance! More specifically, renters insurance, auto insurance and health insurance!

Tim and I have been complaining about the rising costs of my health insurance in particular.  Because so few jobs provide benefits now (and mine certainly doesn't), we are paying out the nose for my health insurance... I don't even have vision or dental.

I'm excited to set up a meeting with a representative and see if we can't rework all of our current insurance into new policies with lower rates.   

It is overwhelming to try to figure out what kind of insurance you need- how much of a deductible to get, etc.  It's all a big gamble at the end of the day.  You're betting you'll need car, renters or auto insurance and they are betting you won't.

If we are able to save some money, my goal is to roll that forward on to another bill- like an extra payment on the car or Tim's student loans.  After all, we're already paying it now anyway, might as well at least use it to cut down on interest paid out!

-Kristen

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Couponing: What is Stockpiling?

What is stockpiling?

It's just what you would think- stockpiling is "hoarding" items, especially when they are on sale! If you've ever shopped at a Club Store, you've probably stockpiled, whether you intended to or not (5 gallons of Mayo, anyone?)  I'm laughingly using the term "hoarding", but think about it more like a squirrel in winter.  You are putting away food and health/beauty care items in case of lean times.  The only difference is you're doing it via great sales and deals, not picking it up off the ground and putting it in a tree.

The theory behind stockpiling is that you should never pay full price for certain items again.  Have you ever seen a really great deal, bought one or two items, and then found yourself saying later "Man, I wish I'd bought more of that!"  Stockpiling is just buying a little more of that really great deal, so it will last you until the next time there is a really great deal on it!

What should you stockpile?

Only stockpile items that are non-perishable, or you KNOW you will use before they expire. You aren't saving money if you save 50 cents a pound on fruit and have to throw it ALL AWAY. I even stockpile certain items as christmas gifts!  Some people stockpile by freezing bread and milk.  I don't want my bread soggy (though I know some people claim ways to do it without the bread going gross) and we don't drink enough milk that freezing it holds an appeal for me.  You are in control of what and how much you stockpile!

Why should you stockpile?

Stockpiling is fantastic in certain cases. For instance, Tampax Pearl was running a promotion where you could buy a box of tampons and get a FREE movie ticket, valued up to $12. If that isn't enough reason to stock up, there were $2.00 and $1.00 coupons in each P&G coupon insert in the newspaper. So for the same price as storebrand, you got a box of tampons AND a movie ticket. Plus, since they don't go bad, there is no reason not to stockpile (unless you simply don't have a place to put the item!) It's a great way to save money!

Are you prepared if you or a spouse loses their job?  Through having a stockpile, even if it's just for toiletries, that's one less thing to have to worry about.  You can reroute money you would spend on a grocery bill in to making payments on your house or car, or to keep the lights on while you search for new employment.

When should you stockpile?

Stockpile at any time!  Keep an eye on your grocery store deals and when you can get something free or nearly free, buy it! I buy Cream of Chicken Soup in bulk around Thanksgiving, when the sales are hitting hard.  We use so much of it in cooking, it really adds up if you have to spend $1 a can.  When Walgreens put it on sale for 50 cents a can a few months ago, I definitely stockpiled it- that's a huge savings!  

There is no purpose to stockpiling if you are paying regular, or mostly regular price for the items.

Ways to stockpile:
-can! Yep, you can stockpile garden (or grocery) produce by canning it.
-dehydrate! If you have a food dehydrator, you can make all kinds of dried snacks, from fruit and veggies to meat or yogurt.
-freeze! Use high quality freezer bags or a food saver to stockpile anything that needs to be frozen.
-shop the deals!  This is the most important way I stockpile.  I shop the deals.  For instance, I was able to purchase 4 Colgate toothpastes and 2 of my favorite brands of deodorant this week at Rite Aid.  I ultimately paid the same price for all of these items as I would have paid for just 1 of the deodorants.  I could have added in free lotion to the deal, but you know what? I have plenty of lotion.  Pick what you need and want, and always keep an eye on your stockpile.  Do you need 45 lotions? Unless you really go through that lotion, then no.  Will 4 toothpastes come in handy? Absolutely.  We use it, we go through it fairly quickly and it will keep us from paying full price until more "free toothpaste" deals come up.

Stockpiling can be a helpful tool to save money, but be careful. You do NOT want items piled up along the walls in every room in your house. Don't stockpile something you will never use, just because it's cheap!  Start out slow, with one or two items. I recommend body wash or other health care items.  You don't worry about an expiration date and it's a good way to get your feet wet.  Plus, there are always tons of sales on body wash!

-Kristen

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Coupon Guilt

I spent today clipping coupons and mapping out scenarios at Rite Aid and CVS- and making up a grocery list for Walmart.   Since we spent a week in Indianapolis, we were literally out of everything perishable (we avoided grocery shopping leading up to the trip so nothing went to waste). 

We stopped first at CVS and unfortunately some of the prices at my store were higher than I had anticipated, turning a moneymaker into a very good deal, but not really worth it to me based on what I have in my stockpile at home.  I did pick up 2 Softsoap hand soaps ($2/2 coupon in the 10/30 paper and they are on sale for 99 cents each).  I also got some nail clippers for 19 cents after the CVS coupon that printed out for me at the magic kiosk, plus the manufacturer's coupon I stacked with it.  Since I'm a member of the "Beauty Club" at CVS as well, my purchase goes towards that $50 needed to print out a $5 ECB.  It takes me quite a while to build up to this since I coupon so aggressively, but every little bit helps!

We headed to Rite Aid next.  I had some complicated scenarios worked out, but in the end I decided to stick to just the basics.  I bought 4 Colgate toothpastes ($3.50 each, but I had $2.00 in coupons) for a little less than $13.00.  Then I used the four $3.50 UP+ rewards to purchase two Secret Clinical Deodorants at $7.99 each.  We spent $3.00 or so out of pocket and got $4 back in UP+ rewards that I will roll forward at a later date. So basically, I got 4 free toothpastes and two deodorants for what one deodorant would normally cost me after I use up all of my UP+ rewards.  Not bad!

Then we headed to Walmart and therein lies the problem.  Up to this point, we had done very well!  However, we needed a new bath mat.  I opted to get a better one than the el cheapos, so it ended up costing us around $16.  Then I let Tim buy a Halloween decoration at $4 and we bought River two Halloween toys which ran us $1.50.  That's over $20 on junk already (though the puppy is going through toys like crazy and we did need the bath mat).

We started hitting the grocery section and unfortunately we needed everything! Chicken, beef, hot dogs, cheese, bread, milk- all of it! I did use $6 in coupons, but most of what we purchased just didn't have coupons available.  It's so hard to save on meat and produce with our limited stores.  Long story a little shorter, we spent $93 at Walmart! OUCH!

We haven't spent that much in forever and no matter the other deals we got today, I feel guilty that I wasn't able to do better!   Nevermind that we hadn't shopped in nearly three weeks and nevermind that Tim sprung a few last minute requests (like cereal) on me, it sucks to know I couldn't do better!

Siiigh.  I guess I should be happy I get what I can get for free/cheap and just realize that every trip out isn't going to be a home-run, especially when it comes to groceries.

Oh well, I'm going to go have a pity party.  At least now that we've been to Walmart, I can serve snacks!

-Kristen

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Christmas must be tomorrow-

Surely Christmas must be in the next few weeks.  There is no way it's two months away, with a holiday (Thanksgiving, for those of you that are unsure) still to come.

Christmas booklets touting the new "hot toyz" that no child has ever heard of are everywhere.  I saw multiple Christmas commercials on tv yesterday and most of the stores around me officially have their store decorations up.

Wow.  Not all of the Halloween clearance items have been sold, yet Christmas decorations and gift items are already on the shelves.

It kills me.  We aren't even a full week in to November.  Oh I guess we have to ignore Thanksgiving, the holiday where we give thanks, because we don't get candy or gifts.

Sigh- yes, I'm grumpy, but geez. I've been watching Christmas encroach upon Thanksgiving all my life.  In recent years, I've been watching it try to take over Halloween too.  Soon we're going to start decorating for Christmas the day after the 4th of July.

Blah!

-Kristen

Friday, November 4, 2011

Getting back in the swing of things

It's so hard to get back in the swing of things when you've been gone.  We spent a week in Indianapolis (or on the road to get there or to get back) and I feel like I am majorly trying to play catch-up.  I had over 300 emails, most of which I actually had to read or at least scan.

We still need to go grocery shopping, but all we really want to do is snuggle up on the couch with the kitties and watch tv.  Oh- and sleep.  I want to sleep lots and lots. 

At least we still have the weekend before I have to go back to work on Monday.

-Kristen

Monday, October 31, 2011

Howl-O-Ween

Yes the most overused pet-play-on-words for "Halloween" ever.  I don't feel creative.

Bear the weenie, dressed up as a weenie!

Here he is in his fabulous purple t-shirt.
"Too Cute to Spook"... that's debatable.
If looks could kill...oh wait, my hair just burst in to flames.
Cap'n River
Say it with me now... Awwwwwwwwwwwww
Happy Halloween!

-Kristen

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monster-in-Laws- Episode 2...kinda 1 though.

No, this is not about my in-laws. 

I already posted about my love of overly dramatic reality shows.   I've been eagerly anticipating the premier of a new show, "Monster-in-Laws".  In this show, families are highly dysfunctional.  An in-law may come to visit and just wreak havoc on the household for days, it may be an all the time problem- anything could happen.

I had two episodes of it DVR'd and silly me, I watched the second episode first, not that it matters.  This episode was about a girl named Kristin, her husband (I think his name was Scott?  We'll call him Scott) and her mother (Susan? Maybe?).  Her mother and her husband fought like cats and dogs.  She was overly demanding, opinionated and demanded that he get a job.   From his side, he informed us that he was some kind of fancy-version landscaper/contractor and because of the economy, times were tough.  Fair enough.

I was very pleased with the first part of the show, then it all went South.  We find out that Susan and Kristin had been estranged for over 5 years when Scott suggested they reconcile.  Big mistake, I'm thinking, as Kristin articulates that same thought.  Kristin is very pregnant and Susan is beside herself with terror that she won't get to see her grandchild in the future.   So they work through some of these issues and Susan learns to sometimes keep her big mouth shut.  Nice.

However, we find out a lot of the tension and the reason Susan keeps hassling Scott about a job is that Scott and Kristin owe her over $50,000 for renovations!  This comes out when Kristin is complaining that Susan refuses to get a job to help them not lose their house.  Hold up there baby-cakes, this is your mother.  She already loaned you $50,000 and bought you hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stuff (as we saw when they went through and put price tags on items in the house that she had purchased)!  Let me say, as well- I don't know what they did with this $50k, the house is unfinished and a disaster.   When the therapist asked the youngish couple to say outloud how much they could pay Susan weekly or monthly towards the loans, they say "Literally, not even $5".  Wait... you have a baby on the way! What?!

 I was looking for 100% in the right or 100% in the wrong.  Instead, I suddenly find myself all up in this couples business, agreeing with the "Monster-in-Law" that Scott should get his lazy ass up and go mow grass if that's what it takes to support his family!  Apparently he is a lazy-good-for-nothing who just lounges around all day while her daughter works.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed with this show.  At only 30 minutes, I don't feel like you really get enough of a sense of the "whole story" and there isn't nearly enough time for the fantastic melt-downs that are the whole reason I watch these types of shows.  The surprise about the couple owing $50,00 came in just the last few minutes.  The reconciliation was a bit quick too- in seconds the mother-in-law is learning to hold her tongue and to date the couple hasn't paid a dime back to her.  She does get to see the grandbaby once every two weeks though.

I'm hoping other episodes will redeem this show a bit, but so far, it's passable.  Something to watch when there is absolutely nothing else on, but not anything to really look forward to.

-Kristen

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Hell is the Chipmunks on Endless Loop..."

We helped a friend with a Halloween Party for her daughter yesterday.  D is 9 and she invited over several friends ranging in age from 9-11.  Oh...my...Lord.

Tim and I are not used to so many little girls running around.  D is often a relatively calm, quiet child.  Last night however, she was a typical, screaming, squealing, bouncing up and down little girl who was amplified times 5.

We all hung out in the basement where frequent cries of "more smoke!" rang out, demanding the fog machine be turned on again.  It choked all the adults but didn't even slow the girls down.  Then we had the pleasure of watching them pick up the bottles from "pumpkin bowling" and beat each other with them.  Then the girls beat each other with balloons.  Then they ran upstairs, back downstairs, back upstairs, back downstairs, then started beating each other with pompoms.  All the while, shrill shrieks rang out over the Halloween music playing in the background.  Even the deaf dog ran upstairs to hide from the noise. 

Then came the various attempts at impaling themselves on any sharp corner that might present itself- the edge of a table, the edge of a fireplace, witch hats... whatever.  It was clear it wasn't going to be a party until there was real blood on the floor.

There were more squeals and pushing, fighting and screams of "ME ME ME ME ME ME" when it came to getting the party snacks.  Every single girl fought tooth and nail to be the first to get a piece of the "brain" (made with jello and suitably gray and disgusting looking).  However, not one single girl ate it.  I watched them- they tried to force all the adults to eat it, then it ended up in the trash.  Why fight over it in the first place? Incomprehensible.

Just as the party reached it's most frenzied pitch, after pin the tail on the cat, a mummy-wrapping game where they wasted three rolls of toilet paper and a failed witch-hat ring toss, someone came up with the idea of playing freeze dance.  This involved watching the children doing highly inappropriate dancing (thank you TV) until the music was paused.  Whoever moved after that was "out".  Thankfully, we were able to the girls they had to quiet down so they could hear the music.  *whew* A break from the constant assault on my ears...right?

Unfortunately, the song they most enjoyed dancing to was the Chipmunks singing some awful Halloween song.  I honestly don't even know what it was.  I don't want to know what it was.  Why we skipped over Thriller and went instead to Chipmunks over...and over...and over... I will never understand.

Thankfully after six rounds of this, the parents started showing up to collect their children.  After finally having to blast the last mom and daughter out the door, we all collapsed upstairs on the couch.  D began to speak, but was quickly shushed.  We all wanted to enjoy the silence for just a few seconds.

Then it was off to home to drag ourselves outside to feed the animals and a very early bed time.

-Kristen

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bank Fees

The newest "cool way to screw people" that the banks are coming up with is to charge you a monthly fee to use your own money in your checking account.  Wow, way to say Thank You for the big bail out, banks! I mean geez- they are already getting free use of our money by loaning it out and getting paid interest on it.  Oh but yes, they do throw us a few pennies yearly in interest paid, don't they?  How generous of them. Now some folks get the opportunity to pay $120 yearly in fees because they have a checking account.  Yeah.  Awesome.

You don't have to take it lying down you know.  Feel free to call your bank and complain about these new monthly usage fees.  Also let them know you will be shopping around to find a new bank and you'd like to know the procedure to withdraw 100% of the funds deposited with them and to close out all accounts.  This gets their attention.

Follow through with that plan! Shop around with various banks.  I am with a credit union and they are fantastic- they don't do gimmicks (no free toasters when you open an account here folks!), but I get the best rate, great service and no fees for using my own money.

If people nip this behavior in the bud now by flocking to those banks that do not charge you a monthly fee, it will prevent all the banks from going to this system.  They are all out to make money and to squeeze us until every little penny is in their pocket.  If we show we're too lazy to switch banks or that $10/month isn't a big deal, soon it will be $15.  Then $20.

-Kristen

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Feeling the "eek"

I was letting the dogs out for a potty break when Tim suddenly twitched and yells "Stop sniffing my leg!"  He reached forward and slapped the air near his knee, then looked confused when he didn't encounter anything.  What he didn't know and I had already seen was that there was nothing near him.

It was a haunting.

"Oh my GOD IT'S A SPIDER."

Or it was a spider. 


Tim is terribly uncomfortable around spiders. I've often had to kill spiders for him, because he couldn't work up the nerve to do it.  Especially the big ones.

Not this time though.

I saw it scuttle away from him, running fast across the carpet.  Rather than make any move to help him or use any one of the 6 shoes near the door to kill it, I did what any good, loving wife would do.


I started jumping up and down and squealing at the top of my lungs interjecting "Get It, Get It, getitgetitgetigetitgetit."  There may be truth to the rumor I was grinning like an idiot the entire time.

He figured out it was just a granddaddy-long leg and it took him several hilarious attempts to catch the spider without having to touch it more than was absolutely necessary.  Then he tossed it outside.  All while I was bouncing up and down, squealing.

It was surprisingly entertaining for me.

Next time, instead of being helpful in any way, stand and squeal. See if it doesn't crack you up!

-Kristen

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Souvenirs

This is an odd time to talk about vacations, but we're about to go to Indianapolis and it's on my mind.  This was written during our trip to Disney World, but I feel it's applicable to any trip and has been updated a bit.

Surely this is a hat for all occasions.
One of the most overpriced things on vacations (other than theme park food!) are souvenirs. Plus, you can't exit a ride or walk 50 yards without seeing entire stores devote to sparkly, fluffy, expensive crap.


A great way to save money is to wait to buy. Don't buy until the last day of your vacation or until the last day you know you'll be doing something like going to a theme park.  This way, you can scope out anything you just can't live without, and in some cases you find something you want more or find it cheaper elsewhere!

We've seen $15 water spraying hand-held fans. The same fans are in Wal-mart for $5, they are just lacking a little imagination. Try buying the fans at Wal-mart and then purchasing a $1 pack of stickers and decorating it yourself. Much cheaper than the anything sold in the park!

You can also do things like buy the Disney trading pins on ebay for a very discounted price.  Then you (or your kids) can trade them in the parks for the newest thing.  No need to spend $50 on the starter kits!

Yum yum! They were $9 though and I suspect they didn't taste very good.

The Wal-mart, Flea Market and pretty much any drug or grocery store in Florida is lined with entire aisles devoted to Disney themed items. We've gone to Disney discount warehouses where items were 50% off. It's awesome! Of course, you will probably be getting more generic Tigger items, but hey if you need to buy a gift for someone at home, that's definitely the way to go. 

Speaking of- don't buy gifts for everyone! I'm sorry, this is your vacation. This isn't buy-something-for-everyone-you-ever-met week. We often purchase a gift for the person taking care of our animals and possibly something as a Christmas gift for someone. 

Also remember- a vacation doesn't hinge on the stuff you buy. I've seen more adorable stuffed animals than I can shake a stick at. In 2 years, that $30 unicorn is going to end up in a yard sale for $1. In 5 years, if I remember it at ALL, I'll remember it as a huge waste of money. Instead, I prefer to collect one small thing- in this case I purchase a small ornament (preferably dated) wherever we go. For $8, I'll have this one small souvenir and at Christmas each year we can relive fun times we had at various places as we decorate the tree! Tim likes to purchase a drinking glass. We both seem to prefer useful items.  I just take pictures of the fun things I'd like to own but don't want to spend the money on.

I wanted this so bad.
My favorite souvenirs are pictures. I take a ton on my digital camera. Funny little signs, cute attractions, whatever catches my fancy. That reminds me much more of things we did than a $7 keychain or a $25 shirt.  I have even started taking pictures of things I kind of want to buy but don't want to spend the money on.

Don't freak out over spending any money on a little something. DO avoid spending $100 on junk though. Set a budget per person and stick to it- don't feel like you HAVE to spend the whole amount though. It'll be okay if you don't. Promise :).

-Kristen

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Husband- Turtle Superman

One thing I love about Tim and alternately drives me insane, is his deep love for turtles. 

He is constantly coming home to tell me about the small miracle he wrought that day- mainly about a turtle that he saw in the road that he stopped to rescue.

Yes.  My husband frequently pulls the car over on the twisty road we live on to get out, grab a turtle that may or may not try to bite his finger off and move it to the other side of the road.

Sunday we were headed out to lunch.  We had very limited time, since we were doing a charity walk at 2pm.  I spot a small round spot of something on the road, right on the double yellow line.  Tim sees it about the same time and immediately tenses and starts to slow.  Then he looks at me and says:

"That was a turtle back there."
- I know, honey.

*The car starts to slow down as if of it's own accord.  He appears to be raging an internal battle.*

"Can I go back to help it?"
- Sure, I figured you would anyway.
"I just hate seeing them smushed on the road."
- I know you do.
"They are just so pitiful."
-Mmm hmm.

*Quick and vaguely unsafe u-turn*
*Tim arrives at the scene of the turtle, pulls over, gets out, shuts the door and picks up his new friend.  Mumbles something unintelligible to it, climbs the bank on the other side of the road (the side the turtle was facing) and places it in to the woods. Gets back in the car and does another vaguely unsafe u-turn."

"The little devil hissed at me!"
-Ungrateful.
"I know!"

*moment of reflection on the attitudes of turtles-being-rescued.*

"It makes me feel good though."
-I'm glad.

-Kristen

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why I need to pay more attention when I read...

I'm hunting across all of the Groupon, Living Social, etc. etc. sites today, trying to find discounted tickets to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (I was just informed I will be stabbed if I call it a race track) Museum.

There it was on Groupon: An ad.  In my quick scan I saw "Ticket, Speed, Indy Speed".  I HAD IT! I had stumbled upon exactly the groupon I needed. 

Then I read it a little more closely. 

One, Two, or Four Tickets to a Speed-Dating Event From Indy Speed Date (Up to 58% Off)  Over 200 bought

Hmmm. 

This is not exactly what I thought it was.

On a side note, why exactly do you need two or four tickets to a speed dating event?

-Kristen

Saturday, October 15, 2011

River Sickness

River doesn't feel good.  You can tell in part because she's not bouncing around like crazy.  Of course, the crying to go out and potty 4 times last night was an indicator as well.  The vomiting twice in the floor gave us a small hint.   Oh, and the copious amounts of drool.

I think she ate a bug or something else that both tasted bad and has disagreed with her.  I think she's just going to feel sick tonight and will hopefully be better tomorrow.

In the meantime, we're making sure she has plenty of opportunities to go outside, so anything she needs to do she can do out there, whether it be graze on the grass to make herself sick, drool, or whatever.

Actually, it's kind of nice to have her not feeling 100% up to crazy.  She's snuggled on the couch with me now, cuddling my feet and is so calm...it gives me hope for the future, when she calms down a bit.

-Kristen