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Archive for July, 2008

a myriad of things

July 31st, 2008 at 02:26 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 12:16 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 22nd, 2008 at 06:54 pm

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 01:41 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

Going Green

July 12th, 2008 at 12:09 pm

I'm motivated to make changes for the better in our household after seeing our electric bill go down. I've been turning off the switch of our surge protectors for both TVs before we leave the house. I usually keep them off until the little one wakes up, and even then, I only need to turn on one, if that. I'm also working on a few other things that are goals for us to turn into habit:

1) use cloth napkins (I bought 12 at Bed Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon that cost us $2.40--that's 12 cents per napkin!)

2) stop buying paper towels

3) recycle anything that can be recycled and drop off at our nearest recycling center (we do not have pick-up service here in Chicago yet)

4) start composting

5) stop buying products with phlalates

6) start using only natural substances (i.e. baking soda, lemons, vinegar, etc.) for cleaning

7) continue to unplug/turn off electronics not in use

8) start air drying laundry

This is a start. Perhaps a little lofty, but good none the less.
__________________________________________

I want to have a garage sale this summer. I need to work on accumulating things to be sold. That's a goal for this week!

Today, I'm going to grill salmon on a cedar plank, grill corn on the cob and am making a blueberry cobbler. Woo hoo! Thank you fruit store! Gotta love summer...

Revelation

July 9th, 2008 at 06:16 am



Last month, our electric bill was $30 cheaper than normal. I couldn't figure out why and thought it was a mistake that would be corrected this month. So when I checked our June bill yesterday, I noticed that even with fans going constantly, it was still almost $30 below normal. I have been unplugging some of the kitchen appliances when not in use as a course of habit lately, but that could not possibly cut $30 off of an electric bill.

Then I had a revelation. There is a lot of cancer in my family and I stopped using the microwave after reading some things about it changing the atomic composition of our food (as that is how the microwave works--something with particles moving, etc). Call me crazy, but hey, I prefer the taste of oven heated food now anyway. The chemistry teacher at school asked if anyone had microwaves to spare for an experiment she was doing. I gladly lent mine and told her not to worry about returning it right away as we never use it. I forgot to bring it home. It has not been plugged in our kitchen for two months now, if not more. We never used it, so it wasn't useage causing the high charges, it was that darn microwave clock! $30 per month for a darn microwave clock!

Mama Drama

July 8th, 2008 at 06:37 am

I need a little non-financial advice (what else is new). This time it deals with my mother-in-law...in relation to my husband.

My husband is quite a bit older than me. His mother is 84. For five years, she has been "plagued" by these little flying bugs she considers parasites, in her apartment. She claims they are brought in by the Koreans in her building and they they are the Korean Red Mite, which is not visible, and yet she can see them flying in her apartment. For years, she has been giving herself enemas, putting toxic substances all over her body, to get rid of them. She has seen many doctors, all who have diagnosed her with senile dimentia. I suggested over and over again that perhaps she was ill with something else and her symptoms were for an illness she refused to be tested for (she refused to have a pap smear or colonoscopy).

On a particular night last summer, she was so panicked in the middle of the night that she called 911 about the bugs. They promptly sent over two representatives from Catholic Charities who convinced her to check herself into the hospital to have her evaluated. She was not checked in to see a doctor, but was placed in the mental ward of the hospital. When my husband and his brother showed up at the hospital and saw where she was placed, they promptly told the staff they were taking her out. Nothing was done.

Last year, she began finding blood in her urine. She was diagnosed with bladder cancer. She has refused treatment and believes the Lord and the cranberry pomegranate juice she drinks will heal her.

Not ONE of her sons (she has 3) does anything about this. The topic is avoided, never discussed. In response to her having lost about 100 pounds in the past year, my husband will make comments like "I hate old age" rather than "I wish she would go in for cancer treatment." Granted, she is 84. If she wants to die, that's her perogative. But they're all in denial. It is so frustrating and it ticks me off everytime we have some family get together or some drama takes place where his mother calls the house in a panic. They all just claim, "oh, she's just being mama."

It gets worse. She for years has also refused to have cataract surgery claiming that she could possibly lose her sight. I told my husband that she will definitely lose her sight if she does not have the surgery. She has since lost her ability to really see, but is still reluctant to have the surgery citing that she could lose her sight. No one does anything, yet we are forced to continue dealing with the drama?

She has been at every hospital in Chicago and claims they all have done her wrong or will kill her. She believes Cook County hospital is the last hope for her--Cook County hospital is for those who have no insurance, people wait for HOURS there just to get treated and end up with things like MRSA (not that I'm knocking the hospital, I'm just saying). She is on social security and medicaid, but believes these places are all for just taking her money.

It gets worse. My husband and his brothers are kind of, I don't know how to say this, enabled (?) The brother that lives here in Chicago has not worked for about ten years and has lived off of the refurbished computers he sells. He lives in a YMCA and is always trying to scrape together money. His mother is always pitying him and gives him money. Recently, she has begun to give him money for his rent as the price of computers has come down so much, people don't want to purchase refurbished computers anymore. She claims she has no money to buy things she needs when she's giving all of her money away.

It is absolutely none of my business, and yet it affects my life tremendously. Everytime I try to discuss the issue with my husband or ask how she's doing, he clams up and doesn't want to discuss it. I know I have no right to get involved, but isn't that what husbands and wives do? Give eachother advice? Tell the other spouse where they see something going awry? I'm not naggy about it and I really try to be as nice and sweet, yet I just end up seeming subversive due to my walking on eggshell demeanor about it. Do I keep my mouth shut? Do I continue down the same path? I don't know...

on the frontline of life

July 3rd, 2008 at 06:21 am

Life keeps ticking, ticking along. I've had some setbacks in terms of my tracking our spending, etc. We've been overspending the past few weeks. This tends to happen when I'm off of school. It's almost cheaper to work!

I am very angry with the federal government. They have created this labrynth of a system for the teacher forgiveness program so it's as if no one can actually apply for it. Sigh. I'm going to have to begin making payments on that loan. I'm almost thinking that it may be better for me to begin snowballing that debt first to get it down to a number where I can apply for a forbearance. But then again, that would be rather imprudent as it has a lower interest rate.

I took a vacation with my parents and siblings to Wisconsin. It was lovely and nice to see that many family members have begun to change spending habits. We ate in most of the time (it was in a condo setting with a kitchen--we grilled and cooked). Before leaving, I stocked up the kitchen for my stepdaughters because they were to stay for an extended period--Mom going out of town. Mom did not go out of town, thus, kitchen is stocked. I will not need to do much grocery shopping this weekend. Small trip to Costco and the fruit store for some bananas, apples and berries.

The weather is lovely. We have yet to put in the window air conditioners. I'm hoping that we can put that off as long as possible. I dread a higher electric bill.

On the running front, I did the 2.5 miles last week and have only done 1.25 so far this week. I need to work hard at getting into a better routine! I'm also happy to say that although I did not stick 100% to my routine over the mini vacation, I did not go over a normal calorie count for myself. Now I'm back to the reduced calorie diet and am going to fight hard to stick to it.

Life is good, but I need to reflect on and stick to my goals. Happy 4th of July all! Hope you have a fabulous holiday with family and friends!