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Black Cloud

February 3rd, 2016 at 02:58 am

The past year and a half have involved this black cloud of horrible events in our family. We have had a significant number of deaths including our infant daughter and a suicide in our family. We recently found out our dog has bone cancer. Very upsetting. He is only 11, but also has a tumor in his liver.

Our most recent IVF cycle appeared at first to be a boon with 20 eggs retrieved; however, none made it to the elusive blastocyst stage. This is the second cycle with such a result. We are regrouping, possibly trying naturally and hoping we would a) actually get pregnant and b) our child would fall into the 75% unaffected category. We have also scheduled consultations with two other prestigious IVF clinics. Lastly, I'm going to work to get us on the list to foster or possibly adopt.

What is worst about this scenario is really the embryology lab. The second cycle, the lab director called and stated our two embryos were at the morula stage and they expected (her words, not mine) them to reach blastocyst. Neither did.

This cycle, I received an extremely inappropriate and negative (i.e. lacking any sort of bedside manner) phone call from the laboratory nurse. Not exactly sure the call was warranted or necessary. She was unbelievably rude and incited near panic and depression in me. I'm a realist and had already been worried about the negative possibilities, but she threw me off a cliff. We meet with our reproductive endocrinologist next week. I intend to be very frank with her regarding my opinion of their embryology lab.

To face such heartache after losing our daughter is insurmountable to say the least. I feel we have this black cloud circling over our lives. I love my home life. We have a wonderful loving family. We just wanted to add another personality to the mix Frown

Thank goodness for emergency funds!

January 9th, 2016 at 01:34 pm

So DS came to me the other day with his expander having broken out of his mouth. I tried calling the orthodontist yesterday, but they must not have been in the office. I am hoping it is a small fee to have this fixed but am worried I will have to replace the piece of orthodontia.

His birthday is next week. I've always given him the option of either gifts or a birthday party (as many popular party sites are extremely expensive!) He has chosen party yet again. I think it's a nice way to allow him to decide he values relationships over material items anyway.

When I am paid next Friday, I will began slamming down the balance on my chase card. It is such a relief to have paid off those nasty Springleaf loans! Never again!

It is supposed to snow this evening. I think once I return home, I will clean the house so there's a more relaxing day tomorrow. DS has a basketball tournament today.

I may have my egg retrieval this week. I'm currently on stims. After two less than stellar cycles, I am pleading with the universe that this one goes better! All good vibes are readily accepted.

Fresh Starts

January 1st, 2016 at 02:36 pm

I love fresh starts, especially this illustrious time after the new year. It has been a psychological struggle, but I've come to the realization that you can have a fresh start at any month, day or time. There needs not be a milestone! That said, new year is good practice for setting goals and working towards achievement.

I was able to cash my inheritance. I paid off my two high interest nasty loans, stashed 2K in my emergency account and 2.5k set aside for the IVF procedure we need to pay out of pocket. I also have begun my 52 week challenge which I've decided to do in reverse.

I subscribed for 2 weekly sunday editions of the newspaper so I can jump back on the couponing band wagon. Now that we have a house, we have plenty of space to store my couponing treasures.

Wishing you all a bright, happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Been busy!

December 30th, 2015 at 03:01 pm

I have lurked at various points over the past two years, but in remembering how much better I stayed in track with this community, I'm coming back to focus, vent and be supported financially. A lot has happened in two years! I remarried to my long time significant other. We had a daughter who was born prematurely and passed away. I began working as a school administrator and have finally increased my salary. We purchased a house. All in all, life is GREAT! I have yet to really pound down my debt situation.

I recently received a sum of money due to a death in the family. I have decided to use it to pay off two high interest loans, save a portion and use a portion of it towards our IVF procedures (it's a loooonnnngggg story).

That being said, my emergency fund should be funded by the end of the week. I need to wait to cash the check until given word the funds are clear. Prior to starting my 2nd masters degree, I was hot and heavy into coupon savings. I want to call our local newspaper today and start up two Sunday deliveries to get back and rolling. I also think the 52 week challenge is awesome and easy! Recently saw one of the blogs suggest a monthly savings goal. Perhaps will try that too.

I really appreciate this community and am happy to always jump back in! Aside from heartache and some financial hiccups, life is good. Looking forward to nothing but positive things in 2016! Wishing you all well!

At least I know

March 6th, 2013 at 10:51 am

I had a nice, honest heart-to-heart with my financial picture for the next few months yesterday. In the teaching world, I am paid for ten months of work. My employer takes out a specific percentage (22.6% to be exact) every pay period and holds this money to pay me when school is not in session. This is known as deferred pay. Not all districts do this, but most do. My employer decided in the fall to discontinue this practice. We will be paid a large lump sum at the end of June rather than be paid out all summer.

I understood this, but reality sunk in recently when our pay schedule for the 2013-2014 school year came out. We will not be paid until September 20th! As a single mom, I will need additional funds to make sure my DS has what he needs to start school including his glasses. It is with that I decided if I do not gain an administrative position, I will have to teach summer school.

So yesterday I sat down and was completely honest with myself and my budget. I calculated the cost of living for three months, or rather the cash amount I will need in order to make do. I will have just barely enough to make do, but not enough to cover going back to school expenses. But WOW! To be able to see the exact number I will need, be very clear about my big picture, it is so freeing and wonderful! Now, when I see that impulse buy, I will have that figure in my head reminding me that I have to keep our family afloat. Perhaps it will encourage me to squirrel away the extra pennies, dollars, windfalls.

The Job Search

March 2nd, 2013 at 01:58 pm

After over a decade of teaching, I am now working at the loveliest school EVER. It has been an exceptionally peaceful year and I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity. While I would love to continue teaching, I am finishing a masters program that will allow me to become an administrator and collect a higher salary. While money isn't everything, I also feel that it is time to utilize my vision and skills in an administrative capacity. Thus, the job search has begun.

I have applied for four administrative positions thus far. I hope to at least get an interview (like a needle in a haystack, I'm sure). Chicago is going through this CRAZY school closings thing, so I'm not really banking on any positions opening up in the near future. I don't want to be a principal right off the bat. I would rather dip my big toe into the water with an assistant principal position; however, I am very qualified to be a special education administrator. We will see what happens. I will keep you posted Wink

Slow, but steady

February 24th, 2013 at 01:46 pm

In the past four weeks, I have not once borrowed money from any type of creditor. There have been moments of panic and temptation, but no follow through. This is good. No, this is WONDERFUL. I requested a refund of insurance money for a policy sold with one of my loans and cashed that the other day. I have $50 in an emergency fund and am plugging away at my 52 week challenge. Deep breaths and affirmations are my mantra right now. I WILL do this.

surprise check

February 9th, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Opened the mail today to find a check from the union. I was a delegate briefly at my other school. $315! How welcome that check was! Not to fill an overextended budget or anything of that nature, but to pay off a few bills earlier and save some money. Yay!

Every day is a struggle, but I do make progress. I have yet to be able to sit in on a Debtors Anonymous meeting online. I have been SO busy as of late. I have yet to have a weekend at home and it's been about two months. Plus, I'm out of the house from 6 to about 6 between trying to walk in the mornings and getting hours for my internship. I will be very happy when this program is over in May.

Life rolls along, it is good and I make progress. Still planning meals and trying to make as much as possible at home. I downloaded a meal planner iphone app that I adore. My dinners are planned for the next two weeks and this made my shopping list easy peasy. I'll post some delicious meals soon.

Things that make the budget go BOOM!

January 29th, 2013 at 11:46 am

Picked up DS from his dad's house Sunday and he had just come out of the shower. Saw a HUGE rash on his tummy with lesions. Called the doc and got him in. Turns out to be just dry skin (phew! save those sick days!), but it wreaked havoc on the budget. I had to procure, per doctor's orders:

1) Cetaphil cream
2) Unscented Dove
3) Mineral Oil
4) Hydrocortisone prescription

CVS only had one type of mineral oil which cost over $11! Cetaphil cream was expensive and I had NO coupons! I love to coupon and get the best price, so this whole thing was a thorn in my side. Luckily, CVS had a Dove ECB deal going on and I had coupons. I stocked up on unscented varietals for him. Sigh.

This is a sign that I need to be better about SAVING and trying to plan for these expenditures. He is rather healthy so this is not an often occurrence, but still. SH*T happens.

And...breathe out

January 28th, 2013 at 01:21 am

So I took Jerrold Mundis' advice and tried as best as possible to just live and track spending during the month of January. Although it is not yet February 1st, I spent the weekend creating a spending plan that includes debt payoff projections. I also updated my debts list for a nice reality check (OY!!!) I USED to do this, but in current months I have always used my spending planner but without the projected payoffs. Thus, nothing gets paid off and I spend the extra money. That bad habit is being set aside.

My income increased slightly in January and I have adjusted my withholding as I received way too large of a refund for my comfort. I am feeling much more optimistic about my financial world.

The young man whose wedding gift bounced? He was more than gracious about the whole thing. It took awhile to get a hold of him, but I am mailing a money order tomorrow. It's so amazing because when you're in a panic, it feels like the whole world is going to implode. As always, everything is absolutely all right. Now, breathe out!

So the most embarrassing thing that could happen...happened

January 13th, 2013 at 04:15 pm

Back in October, my mother found out a former neighbor for whom I babysat got married. She instructed me to get a card and give a little money. This was on Halloween. I wrote a check, gave it to his mom and that was the end of it. Lost track of that check and low and behold, it was cashed last week and bounced. They are a young couple and I feel AWFUL! I have to slink to his mom with tail between my legs and request his address. I am hoping she does not ask why, but if she does I am prepared to be honest. I am also prepared to foot the bill for any fees incurred as a result. Oh the horror!

I am trying to spend a month relaxing about my finances as Jerrold Mundis instructed, but it is so hard, especially with gift checks being bounced. Christmas and a child's immediate birthday add to the financial stress I've placed upon myself. I have been diligently tracking spending, planning meals and even walking the aisles of Aldi calculating my total as I shop. I am going to make poached salmon using a large piece I had stored in my freezer and needed a bottle of wine. WAS going to buy the $6.99 bottle as a splurge and drink a bit myself, but by totaling up my purchase as I shopped I put it back and got the $2.89 bottle instead. It's movement in a good direction.

On a better note, I have been making lots of yummy things from scratch and have not thrown away as much food as a result. Thanks again Lucky Robin! This week I made a slow cooker full of low fat, low calorie lentils. I froze half and ate the rest daily for lunch. Utilized the whole pot! I then made a slow cooker full of coconut curry chicken which we ate for two nights and I ate for another night and a lunch. We used the whole thing! Woohoo! I stuck to our meal plan, didn't eat out and also ate reasonably well for my weight loss goals.

I am trying to stay positive but I am still living in a fog of anxiety and embarrassment right now. Next Saturday I am attending a meeting for people with addictions problems (it is a general meeting. A friend who is in AA suggested I go. I will attend with him.) I want the emotional weight of my finances gone so I can focus and achieve goals.

Debt reading and other things...

January 4th, 2013 at 03:27 pm

Thanks to Spondulick's Forever for being one of my favorite blogs. Upon reading your sidebar, I found How to Get out of Debt, Stay out of Debt, and Live Prosperously by Jerrold Mundis. Lovely BF gave me an itunes gift card which I used to purchase this book and have been reading for two days. While I have read Suze Orman, am acquainted with Dave Ramsey, this program seems the most realistic and feasible. I will mix it up with some SO and DR to my liking and hopefully get the ball rolling.

A win for me was receiving a catalog yesterday for the Company Store. Winter sheets on clearance with free shipping? I almost purchased, was so close to the trigger. Then I remembered how much more expensive those sheets will be from not paying off the interest on the debt I already have. I stopped myself and was successful today. That being said, I will build room in my spending plan for myself, but not enough for $100 sheets I do not need.

I have updated goals, etc. I will refine later. I am still working on my food stamp challenge for myself. It is exceptionally difficult, but it has helped me to plan meals and curb frivolous spending. I made pizza dough and a huge slow cooker full of sauce for New Year's Eve. I then used the sauce over the course of the week for pasta dishes. I used it all! I will continue to refine my planning and what not.

Last year I had a goal of accumulating Target gift cards from good sales and Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks to use towards Christmas. That plan got derailed due to my beginning a masters program to get my administrative certification (before the law changes in 2014...best do it now). I did have a nice chunk to help out with the holidays. I am going to continue that work and see if I can better that number.

Here's to a better year! I feel like I'm always jumping off the wagon, but as Mundis points out, first you must admit you have a problem. I admit it, I have a problem. Let the real work begin!

My Own Food Stamp Challenge

December 10th, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I was very inspired by Lucky Robin's food stamp challenge and after some research, decided to jump on board. I perused my freezer for meals for the week and planned my shopping list accordingly. The great part about not eating as much in terms of servings is that it will help my perpetual weight loss agenda.

Trip to Aldi:
Green beans $1.29
Bread $0.50
Refried Beans $0.79
Bananas $0.55
Taco seasoning $0.35
Pumpkin Mix $0.99
Gala apples $3.69 (bag of about 10)
Tomatoes 2pk $1.49
Lemons $1.29
Mini OJs $2.99(splurge for my bf who drinks in the morning)
32oz plain yogurt $1.99
dozen eggs $1.59
gallon milk $2.09
clementines (bag) $2.99

Total with tax $23.10

Today I purchased $15 worth of groceries from Butera to complete our lunch/dinner needs for the week: 2 packs tortillas, fresh blackberries for $0.99, frozen berries, vanilla yogurt (accidentally bought plain and realized when DS exclaimed "ewwwww" last night during snack time), mini water bottles (have repeatedly attempted the cheaper, more environmentally friendly reuseable bottle--two lost), and spanish rice).

I found pork chops in my freezer and had a can of cream of chicken soup as well as a hard apple cider in the fridge. I made slow cooker pork chops making a gravy with the hard cider and cream of chicken. They were delish! Served with leftover rice and green beans (half of the package). I had a pound of ground turkey in the freezer, shredded cheese and sour cream. I am making tacos, refried beans and spanish rice tonight. This will last for two nights. I also found a recipe for baked pumpkin banana oatmeal which I made last night for the breakfasts this week. I have a ton of oatmeal and will be exploring different recipes as part of this challenge.

Wednesday is my school Christmas party, meal paid for already, so I'm not counting that night. Thursday, I need to return to school for a meeting and am bringing DS with me. I may pack myself a small meal but splurge on a Subway $2 footlong for DS. Friday, I've chicken breasts, green beans and potatoes (probably mashed). Saturday to be determined although I do have a whole chicken and a huge piece of salmon in the freezer still.

I will plan out my meals for the following week. I am very pleased that I kept the bill as low as I did first time out! Many challenges await, but I am up for it! I have an Indian slower cooker book and once I get the correct spices, it will be very cheap to replicate those recipes for lunches, etc. Thanks Lucky Robin!

weight issues among other things

January 21st, 2009 at 05:30 pm

I used to have a weightloss ticker on my profile. I've deleted it, but am still lost in the struggle to lose weight--but I'm not too serious about it. I try to eat as healthy as possible, stick to a rough calorie count (VERY rough, I might add). In the fall, I took home a mountain bike free care of my parents and bought a bike helmet. When the snow vacates the area, I will again begin biking to and from work (a work-out, money saver AND greenie all in one). I had a coupon from Costco for $10 off a weight watchers scale. When I purchased it two weeks ago I weighed 163.4. Today, I weighed 162.2. Hurrah to that!

Also, checked out online payroll system to see what I will be paid on Friday. Thus, here is what I will be doing with that money on Friday:

23-Jan-2009 expense
Firestone 200
groceries 230
Library 60
Orchard Bank 1 25
Orchard Bank 2 25
Fed SL 50
HFC 100
savings 1169
gas 40
1899

Financial Forecast First Quarter 2009

January 17th, 2009 at 07:17 pm

I think I've shared on this blog that I keep track of bills on a spreadsheet. I anticipate what bills are due, what week they will be paid, etc. a few months in advance and as the date approaches, I zone in on what the actual payments will be. I have anticipated expenses through March also anticipating making (hopefully) a mortgage payment on March 20, for an April 1 due date. Here is the debt pay off picture:

By the end of February I will--
1) have 2K in savings (1K to be used for earnest money)
2) Orchard 1 paid off in full
3) Orchard 2 paid off in full
4) CFNA paid off in full
5) Capital One paid off in full

By the end of March I will--
1) have 1650 of Chase paid
2) car loan will be under 6900
3) hopefully will have closed on a house/condo

Big big goals. If I put my nose to the grindstone, I know we can do it. Then we'll file in April to get the tax credit and 1) pay off parents for loan 2) put the rest into savings. Continue pounding leftover unsecured debt. I anticipate I can have that all paid off by August and perhaps have even started pounding the car. Joseph's school will be out and we'll have an extra 700 per month to go toward debt. Also, I am coaching softball which will yield another 3500 or so (4K--take out taxes).

Whew. That was a mouthful. Comments are appreciated. Let me know if I'm too lofty here.

The ugly details

January 14th, 2009 at 05:16 pm

So, I've got to start afresh and get this thing back in gear. The good thing about it all is that I know I can do it because I've done it before.

Goals for 2009:
1) pay off all unsecured debt
2) pay off car
3) save all receipts to track spending
4) purchase a safe to begin keeping cash in envelopes(I live in Chicago. Can't risk a stash getting stolen).


Too many goals and I'm bound to fail. And now, the ugly details.

Credit
American Express: 1879
Chase: 3200
Orchardbank 1: 574.82
Orchardbank 2: 240
CFNA: 577
Capital One: 456.67
HFC: 2749
total: 9676.49

Secured debt
Car: $7800


On the horizon, at least, I am making extra money from tutoring at the moment. I will also be coaching softball this spring, which is an extra 4K. I have decided, however, that since I'm coaching softball, I will not teach summer school. A girl's gotta have a break if you know what I mean. Who knows, though. If an announcement goes around requesting teachers desperately, I may cave Wink Extra money is extra money.

Also in the mix is the issue of our housing situation. Our landlord is in foreclosure, which is extremely frightening. Rent for a 3 bedroom apartment is $1800 (for something decent--and not necessarily good). I have a 5 year old (ooh, gotta change that on my profile--it's his birthday today) and will not subject him to some roach infested hell hole to make it a point to save up 20% for a house, therefore...I am planning on borrowing 5K from my parents so we can attain an FHA loan on a house. Property has come WAY down and thus, we can find something decent and pay even less than we're paying in rent now. Chicago is a large city and rent is skyrocketing with higher demand. I know, I've got a lot going on.

So I hope to use the 7,500 tax credit we would obtain in addition to the rest of our tax return to pay off my parents and pay down some of the debt. Our budget is quite solid and we have plenty extra every month for us to hammer that debt to the moon. I won't share my goals for student loans until I've paid all of the other yucky stuff down.

Comment at will.

Long time...no write

January 13th, 2009 at 06:56 pm

Well, what can I say...I'm like a dog with her tail between her legs. Sigh. I am not too sure why I stopped writing here. I have been a lurker for months now, heating up with intensity, desiring to blog and finally, I have the motivation to do it.

Notice on the left where I have wiped all goals clean and left my poor profile looking empty. I've rung up the CC debt again. I can't exactly put my finger on how or why, but I have. The transition from my former position to my new fabulous position left us using credit for a variety of things and what not.

So, I'm in this place where I need to set up my goals again. The good news? I actually kept us above water this Christmas and have been diligent in using a spreadsheet to budget and keep track of our bills. I know I have the tools and the willpower to get out of this alive. Sigh. I will overcome!

Happy new year to all. I've missed you immensely.

finally!!!

August 21st, 2008 at 08:16 pm

Got a call this morning that they would like to offer an entirely self-contained class teaching English to me. I've jumped ship! Woo hoo! I have yet to resign as I want to see the paperwork needed for my hire before I bring down the hatchet. It's great news and I'm happy. Rather nervous about resigning, but I'm a habitual conflict avoider. Thanks to all for your wonderful thoughts and prayers. I couldn't have made it through without you!

crazy stuff

August 21st, 2008 at 01:00 am

Soooo...here's the shake down.

I was called for an interview at a CPS high school. Was offered the job on the spot. I asked for a day to think it over. That was granted. So, I called the other school and left a message stating that I had been offered another position, but would not like to miss out on the opportunity for a position at their school. No return call. I called the school again after two and spoke with the AP. Was told I did not make it to the second round of interviews. I was like ??? Basically, they gave me the run around. This lady could have told me that on Monday. They start school next Wednesday, so I just think they flat out lied about it all. First, they were supposed to call me last Friday. No call. Then when I called Monday, was told they would call Tuesday. No call. Upon the advice of a co-worker, I asked why I did not get the position so I would know for future reference. The woman would not give me a straight answer. So be it.

In reference to the second position at the high school, I had decided not to take it because it would entail some co-teaching, which I hate. I called the AP and let her know I was declining the position on this basis. She asked if she were able to maneuver the schedule so that I was teaching full inclusion would I take the position. I said yes. Perhaps this will all work out after all. Oddly enough, my grandfather went to the school for high school. It's funny. My first school was a school my paternal grandmother attended and now this. Sigh. Crazy stuff, I tell ya.

I do feel a sense of guilt in leaving this late, but alas, stuff happens. I'm not happy where I'm at. I'm rather tired of the whole job thing. When I was in college, I never realized it would be this bad or hard. I thought I was living a dream becoming a teacher and if I were dedicated enough, everything would be all right.

The interview experience with the other school has left me nauseated. This other school has been a tad refreshing. Who knows how it'll shake out.

no phone call

August 19th, 2008 at 08:39 pm

Need I say more? Should I count it as a blessing? I mean, really, they told me they'd call by last Friday and here I am now still waiting for a call after being told they were interviewing another candidate today and would call today. I REALLY wanted to get out of here!!! Sigh. I'm going to drink a glass of wine tonight and wallow.

I guess there's still hope

August 18th, 2008 at 07:30 pm

I called the school this morning and was told that they are interviewing another candidate tomorrow and will let me know then whether I have the position or not. It's all very stressful, but I guess that means there may still be hope that I'll get hired.

In other news, got some cleaning done over the weekend. For all of those who read my blog and remember my vow to use natural cleaning products, Saturday was the first time I cleaned my bathroom using baking soda and lemons. I would make a paste with baking soda and water and would then add some lemon. Scub a dub, rinse, wipe and very very sparkly. Yay! I got the idea from this British TV show called "How Clean is your House." I am a happy camper indeed.

ugh...

August 16th, 2008 at 12:56 am

Was supposed to receive a call together with a yay or nay about the position. I received no such call. Very disheartening. Shall be going to the air and water show in addition to cleaning the house to a shine to recooperate. Will call the school Monday just to check in and confirm (probably a nay, I assume).

good news

August 13th, 2008 at 09:38 pm

I interviewed for a FABULOUS position at a LOVELY school today. I really feel like I could spend a good chunk of my career there. They said they'd let me know by Friday. Here's to hoping all goes well! I felt the interview went very well, but you never know. Sigh. I can taste the freedom...

pounding the pavement

August 8th, 2008 at 01:25 pm

I have been rather fierce the past two days in pounding the pavement for a job. When dropping off one of my resumes, the woman looked at me incredulously (as in, really, you want to teach emotionally disturbed children?) I have had two phone calls for interviews, so all looks good. I just need to make sure it's a school where I feel I can be comfortable and do my job to the best of my ability. After teaching at three different schools, I need to find one where I can set-up camp. I pray pray pray that I find something good. There are lots of administrators and schools out there that are not functioning well.

and the job drama continues

August 6th, 2008 at 10:08 am

So, I had this conversation with my boss at the end of the year last year that somehow gave me the impression that things were settled and that I could make it through another year. Yesterday proved to me that I was wrong.

We were offered a stipend for doing some planning work and apparently, since I'm a special ed teacher, were weren't eligible for this? I e-mailed about it and was told it would be O.K., but then I got an e-mail saying my boss would like to discuss the stipend with me. When I spoke with him, he reopened some wounds from last year. I think this means that I can't make it through another year. The good news is I still have time to find another job. We technically have yet to report until next week AND we have two weeks until the students start.

I was hired the day before school started two years ago. Perhaps my replacement will start the day before school starts this year. I pray God grants me an out. I decided not to take the other position offered to me at another school because I could feel it was a bad situation and I don't want to go from the fire to the frying pan. Or the frying pan to the fire. Or whatever. Am I being unethical in doing this? My contract began again August 1st. I guess I shouldn't really worry about it, but I'm a good person with a conscience and I do like to do right by people.

Damn. Why'd I choose this profession again? And now I've got a masters degree in it. What was I thinking?

scary weather in the midwest

August 5th, 2008 at 01:13 pm



Yesterday was off the chain crazy. A storm blew through Chi-town with multiple funnel cloud sightings spanning the entire suburban and metropolitan area. We hovered in our stairwell for over a half an hour. Then, hours later, we had another storm, this time with torrential rains and the loudest thunder/scariest lightning combination. The lightning went straight from the clouds to the ground and judging from the thunder, it was hitting things in our vacinity. What an amazing night! We were up until after 1AM with that mess!

a myriad of things

July 31st, 2008 at 09:26 pm

Where to start? Well, I have been utilizing our public library lately and have read a bunch. This morning I finished "Baby Love" by Rebecca Walker. A fabulous read for anyone interested. The Chicago Public Library has a nice, vast web site that allows you to request books to be placed on hold and sent to your local library. I may never walk into another book store again. I love book stores. It's like going into a liquor store for an acoholic. If I can make it a point to make sure I return everything on time, this is going to be great--and free!

With that said, I also just cancelled our subscription with Netflix. What a money pit! And my hubby and I are so tired that we never watch any of the movies! That being said, I am going to see if the library has a good collection of movies as well and will utilize the system by requesting they be transfered to our local branch. Can I get an amen on that!

Still working on getting this budgeting thing/tracking spending right. It's gotten soooooo much easier now that it's become a habit. Have to work on keeping a better checkbook, though. Grrrr....on we truck. Onward we move.

The exercising campaign has totally reached a standstill. Sigh. Here's to hoping I can do better. I am doing OK considering I'm on summer break in terms of my eating. If I'm not making my lowered calorie goals, at least I'm not OVER eating. But most days I eat within the goal. I bought some pants online that were on sale for about $11 a piece for the new school year which means I'm set for wardrobe! (except for an occasional new shirt here or there) For the past four years, I have rarely purchased new clothing for myself. I feel like buying a new shirt once a month should be OK. A girl's got to indulge in something, right? And I'm not talking a $50 shirt, either. I'm talking $11.00 at Costco or $8.98 at Steve & Barry's (if it stays open).

I'm not high maintanence. I don't spend on my hair, don't spend a lot on make-up (buy it once a year--bad bacteria, but oh well).

Tomorrow I get my raise! Woo hoo to that! Life is good...so far. If I get those paintings appraised, I will wait until the next pay period as I have to pay student loans and rent for this one. Things are moving along. Not at the exact pace I'd like, but they're moving.

Seeking financial advice about art

July 29th, 2008 at 07:16 pm

My mother-in-law gave my husbands two paintings a few months ago painted by who she claimed is Robert Woods. Hubby and I did a little research and found that he's apparently well known. I looked at the paintings myself, but could not find a signature. Regardless of this, I took to the task of seeing about an appraisal.

I called the Chicago Art Institute who referred me to an appraiser (I assume well reputed?). He instructed me to take a picture of each painting and mail those to him rather than automatically come in which would cost $195 per piece. He stated that a lot of Robert Wood paintings are valueless reproductions, etc, so air on the frugal side. I did just that. I also e-mailed a supposed Robert Wood expert.

The Robert Wood expert basically told me the paintings are probably early works and are valueless. I sent the pictures to the appraiser anyway just to confirm this opinion.

Low and behold, in my mailbox today, I have a letter from the appraiser stating that they could be of "very good to considerable" value and that I should give them the dimensions and $195 for each painting to have them appraised.

What to do? $400 is a LOT of money to spend to find out they are together worth $400 or something ridiculous like that. I'd end up having them appraised just to hang them in my house. On the other hand, they could be worth something. I have no idea what to do here. Is the money worth spending to have them appraised?

Another reason to not eat out!

July 23rd, 2008 at 01:54 am

My son has had a 9AM swim class in the burbs for the past week. I have struggled to get up and going lately and have run out of the house without food and thus, we have starved, a few times. This morning, I decided to stop at a fast food restaurant for sustenance. McDonald's was too crowded so we headed over to Burger King (AKA "Big King"--little man tate calls it that). I had a small hashed brown and a BK mocha Joe.

My brother called while we were at my mom's house. He wanted to spend time with us. So, we ran to his place of work and offered to get us lunch (he works at a restaurant). I ordered a side caesar salad with chicken in an effort to conserve calories and also did not feel like eating more than that--fast food'll do that to a stomach not used to eating it.

I decided to do a little homework in terms of nutrition. Prepare to be shocked and horrified (or for those of you who know better, smirking):

BK mocha Joe: 380 calories
small hash brown: 260 calories

caesar salad: 140 calories
3 oz. dressing: 460 calories
grilled chicken: I assume around 100 calories based on portion size
(I ate a much smaller portion of salad and dressing, but STILL!!!)

Just another reason to be frugal and eat at home!

microwaves

July 17th, 2008 at 08:41 pm

This is mostly for Merch...proof of your point! Check it out. I don't know if it's legit, but kind of freaky.

http://www.koreus.com/video/telephone-portable-mais-popcorn.html


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