Thursday, November 17, 2011

End of week one

A very cool tree nearl Nu'uanu Pali Lookout
Hard to believe I left a week ago! It's been a pretty cool week. Here's a disjointed account of things I've learned about Hawai'ian culture that I'm pretty sure you wouldn't learn if all you did was stay at a resort. For instance, I didn't realize that Aloha shirts are worn by men all the time. That's what men wear to work. There is nothing kitschy abut it. I also learned that only 10% of Native Hawi'ians get a bachelor's degree. Out in remote areas, little kids might get on a public bus at 5:30 am to be able to get to a good school. It rains almost every single night. It's raining right now, but I'm secluded on my little lanai surrounded by vegetation. Speaking of vegetation, bananas and papaya are never tree-ripened. As they get ripe, birds eat them off the trees. So dont complain about green papaya and banana in the grocery store. If the tree was in your yard, you would pick the fruit and let it sit for days to ripen anyway! We have papaya off the front mountainside/yard tree ripening on the counter now! Tomorrow, the movers will come. That means everyone in the neighborhood will be inconvenienced for a chunk of the day. Not sure how they feel about it, but surely anyone who lives on the side of a mountain would understand that a moving truck will have to block a good portion of the road in order to make the move happen. Not sure how the move will affect my weekend plans to go tailgating and stay with Marie. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I did it!

Since I can't post a lot of pictures, I picked the one that best represents my day. I rocked out some data crunching yesterday and today, and was able to submit another conference abstract. Woot! Woot! Talk about productivity. Tomorrow I will shift back to older data and try to finish a manuscript.

Right now we're talking dish washers. I don't know much about dishwashers except that I hate washing dishes. This is a fantastic learning experience. At first I tight $1000 was outrageous, but given that I really, really hate doing dishes it's starting to sound pretty reasonable. Id gladly fork over a dollar a day to NOT do dishes. In less than 3 years, the dishwasher would practically pay for itself! Who knew I would learn so much about dishwashers today? Did you know Kenmore is made by Kitchen-Aid? And evidently, Kenmore/ Kitchen-Adenis the best brand right now.

Google hates me...

Monday, November 14, 2011

One heck of a fantastic weekend!

I spent the weekend with my friend, Marie. It was not your average weekend in Hawai'i! Well...actually, I suppose it kind of was a pretty average weekend. It was not a touristy experience though. We saw Jack and Jill (not recommended), ate good food, ate more good food, ate papaya picked from a tree in her garden, and today we really crammed it all in. Started around 8am with a 12 mile hike. We were covered in mud, and I have a very sore bum from the tumble I took, but it was worth it for the view at the summit! This isn't the summit view, but it's my favorite picture of the day. A single wild orchid along the trail with the mountains and ocean in the back. Gorgeous! And...since BlogPress is still waiting for iTunes update approval, I'm pretty limited to the number of pictures I can post.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Now this is one of those things you just can't believe unless you've gotten to see it with your own eyes. Tenting. Because bugs are a bit of a problem in the Hawai'i climate, they have to do some serious extermination. Basically, an entire house is covered with tarps. They are even clipped to the ground some way. Then, the insecticide is pumped into the inside. Not really sure how long the whole process takes, but just getting an entire house tarped in the winds has to take some time. The house I'm staying in was tented before my adviser moved in. I would assume that between tenants would be the ideal time. Not sure how more permanent folks handle it. Crazy, right?

Friday, November 11, 2011

This image brought to you by my graduate experience...

Aloha! Sadly, my typical blog app has a bug. The best I can do is to email a post and hope for the best. The picture is of the view from Nu'uanu Pali Lookout which is one of the Hawai'i State Park. At this historical point, King Kamehaeha and his warriors defeated the O'ahu armies. He basically forced them all over the cliff to their deaths. This victory of sorts united the Hawaiian Islands in 1795. The rest of the story is here:

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

New Adventure

The blogging hiatus was a necessary evil. Things have been pretty cRazY. Just a few things to fill you in...
  • I've worn a different pair of earrings every day since October 3. 
  • I had my first big interview. 
  • I haven't heard whether I will get the position or not, because our lovely Congress hasn't agreed on a national research budget yet. So annoying.
  • I went to a great conference in Baltimore where I tried clam chowder and lobster pot pie for the first time.
  • Our department head was inducted into the Institute of Medicine. Pretty big stuff!
  • Baxter and I both got hair cuts.
  • I managed to get an abstract in for the Experimental Biology conference.
  • I had a nervous break down that lead to a great night with friends at our favorite pub.
  • I knit a gorgeous sweater  for mom in 3 weeks. Knitting speed directly correlated with stress level. 
  • My niece called me Auntie for the first time! She held out for just shy of 4 whole years. 
  • Today I will see my entire family for said niece's birthday. Four is pretty big, you know!
  • Tomorrow I will spend a whoppin' 10 hours on an airplane. Hawaii or bust!
Yup, leaving for Hawaii tomorrow, and I will be there for a month. Time to put the pedal to the metal and get this dissertation done. Finishing a dissertation is never fun, but I'm pretty sure Oahu will be a wee bit more scenic than my office. We used to have a window picture frame with a beach scene behind it, but we don't even have that much scenery down here anymore. I'll try to be better about keeping you all posted on any adventures I have while I'm there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Leavenworth, WA...was that a week ago already?

There's nothing much better than autumn! Who doesn't get excited about pumpkin lattes, caramel apple cider, pumpkin patch, pumpkin bars, boots, scarves, and leaves? Mostly, I get excited about leaves! I got to enjoy the beginning of fall out in the Wenatchee National Forest. Sooooo inspiring! Some times, a girl just needs peace and quiet, a time to think, and time to remember just how beautiful the world really is. Here are a few pictures from the trip. The pops of red stood out to me more than anything.

And did I mention how cute Leavenworth is? Here's the owner of our hotel giving the daily alphorn concert on the balcony. Not the worst excuse to get to breakfast!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A few travel mishaps...

Some days my life seems nearly (but not quite) as hectic as Annie trying to go grocery shopping. In stead of kids; I have deadlines, random meetings, split social personalities, etc. Mom says I'm well on my way to being a nutty professor. I usually just fake a big smile and hope no one notices all my goofs! Here are just a few things I've done in the last year that could have been really bad.

Last winter I was running late to the airport (pretty typical). When I got back from wherever it was I was going, I realized the window in my car was gone! Immediately, I thought the worst..."Oh no! Someone broke into my car!" Then, I quickly realized there was no broken glass. I just didn't roll my window back up after getting my parking ticket. My seat was a little wet with snow, but no major hard done.

This spring, I had to be at the airport around 5am. I don't even remember where I was going. It was still dark out, so I had to turn the dome light on to make sure I got all my crap. When I got back, my battery was dead. Turns out, the Indianapolis airport offers a free jump start service. The guy said they have to jump about 10 cars a day. Considering the number of cars in those lots, that's not really too bad!

Most recently, I left my keys on the trolly. I had to wait 45 minutes, and learned that there are 3 trollies on route. Later that same night, I lost my car in a parking garage. For real. I've never lost my car in a parking lot or a parking garage. First time...and it had to be the day I left my keys on the trolly.

So back to the airport jump start. I didn't have any cash, but I did have an empty Starbucks gift car. I gave the guy the card and told him I'd add money to it right then and there. That is exactly what I did...added $10 to the card. On the iPhone app, the smallest amount you can add is $10. Kind of a big tip, but it was 11pm and I didn't really care. Since it was a registered card, I could track to see if he ever used it. It's been months...nearly 3 months...and he never used it. I pretty much gave up tracking the card. It crossed my mind that after 6 months, I could transfer the money to one of my other cards. That would be so wrong though. So very very wrong. Not sure why I decided to check last night, but I did. He used the card! Woohoo! I'm so glad someone is finally enjoying that card and I'm still grateful for that jump start.

There's a lot to catch up on. In the last week or so I basically fell off the blog band wagon. Trust me...a lot has happened since then! You should really read Annie's blog about grocery shopping. It's hilarious. If you're a mom, you can probably relate even better. Show Annie some blog love for me!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I really do have a lot to write about, but there's just no time. Maybe this weekend I can get caught up on posting. In the mean time...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Purse dump

Big hand bags rock, but can get loaded down so easily. Especially since mine is my "personal item" when I fly and my school bag during the week. All kinds of stuff ends up in there. My purse seemed crazy heavy lately, so I dumped everything out to see what was going on and this is what I found...

The following items don't need to be there:

3 koozies (2 were free last night at Central Market)
snacks from my flight 2 weeks ago
random jewelry
vegetable erasers
tickets from the Red's game we went to about 2 months ago
blister block
giant thing of Blink eye drops
Purdue window decals
3 dimes that can go in the change jar
stitch markers for my knitting
random post-it notes and receipts that can go in the trash

That should lighten the load! Big purses are great, but geesh...way too much stuff piles up in there. I should probably purse dump a little more often!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Oh perspective.

I don't know what's going on, but everyone is kind of feeling meh around these parts. Not sure if it's the crazy weather, allergies, or what. I don't feel like blogging. I don't feel like doing much of anything. I think my instincts are telling me it's time to prepare for hibernation. Alas no. I have a to do list a mile long! Signing up for the Addison Oktoberfest 5K to support Wipe Out Kids' Cancer makes me want to quit complaining.

Here are some alarming stats from the WOKC website
  • About 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer every day.
  • 1/330 kids will develop cancer by age 20. 

Should be an interesting experience. Right in line with my tradition of signing up for 5Ks when I'm not in good shape! Haven't been in good shape for a 5K yet. No point starting now. If I could break 30 minutes, that would be awesome. Let's not get too agressive though, right?

Little Lucy is one of many kids dealing with cancer. She's not in Dallas, she's at St. Jude's right now. You might want to check out the blog her mom keeps. Lucy is just about done with chemo and has been doing great considering all she's going through! I've been following her blog for a while now and it's always a good reminder to keep life in perspective, and say "I love you" one more time. Go Lucy Go!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bucket List

I have a post about me and Marilyn Monroe, but I can't find the perfect words for what I want to say. That left me in the learch today. Thank goodness for a $500 Bucket List Giveaway hosted by J. Money over at Budgets are Sexy! He's giving away $500 to one lucky reader/contest entery to put towards your bucket through a contest sponsored by Life Insurance Finder. You get 5 entries for blogging about it, so it was perfect timing!

My bucket list for the near future includes the following:

1. Vacation in Hawaii. Not exactly a fair thing to put on the list, because it's actually happening very soon! So if I win the contest, the money will go towards this trip!

2. Spend a long weekend in New York City in the winter. Scarves, hot chocolate, ice skating...perfect!

3. Go to a monster truck show or demolition derby. Pretty sure this needs to be in summer so I can wear ripped up jeans, a wife beater, and cowboy boots.

4. I really want to go to India.

5. I also really want to go to China with my friend, Maggie.

6. I want to visit my friends in Thailand, and take naps on the beach.

7. Celebrate St. Paddy's day in all Top 10 Cities. Chicago and Boston...check!

I could probably think of more things, but those tare the big ones that came to mind. Maybe I should start a more formal bucket list. Not right now though...too many other things to get done!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Planning for Christmas

Whoa! Seems like lots of bloggers are posting about Christmas already. I agree that it is a good idea to plan ahead. Christmas is on my mind because a) September is the month I start putting money aside for presents, and b) I got matched for the Christmas knitting swap I signed up for!

I am hoping that my trip to Hawaii will make Christmas shopping easier than usual. I have a few ideas already for a few people. It's all very exciting when you have something you really want to give. Our family really enjoys the present part of things. I could be wrong, but I think everyone in my family loves giving and getting presents.

From what I can tell, people have great Christmas spending plans. Here are a few I've seen.

1. Simply put aside a little money each month so that when it gets close to Christmas you don't break the bank all at once. This tends to be my method.

2. Save all your credit card cash back bonuses to buy gift cards to shop with. Great idea! I know a few people who do this. I don't spend enough to earn enough to really do this. My cash back bonus trends to supplement my Starbucks, Gap, and Banana Republic habits.

3. Use Swagbucks to earn gift cards to shop with. Good idea, but again...I don't earn enough swag bucks to make this happen. I have used Amazon gift cards that I've earned from Swagbucks to buy birthday presents on occasion.

4. Handmade gifts. Now please don't fool yourself. Most handmade gifts cost some money. Especially if it's knit! Some handmade gifts are pretty inexpensive and completely awesome! I wouldn't shy away from giving stuff like scrubs (hint hint to my sister! Could be a tradition!), soaps, etc.

So what are your gifting traditions? Do you have some great homemade gift ideas to share? If you do, I will try to post a list with links!

The most I’ve spent this last week was on more plane tickets.
2. Today I am thankful a great morning! I went for a run, then a walk with my dog, spent the morning working in my favorite coffee shop, then had lunch with friends!
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was go to Germanfest. Way fun!
4. I will consider this week a success if I turn in my seminar outline.
5. My favorite game to play is  catch phrase or canasta. Haven't played either in a long time though.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, September 09, 2011

September objectives

I actually made some goals/ objectives for this month. Not sure how many will get done, but a girl can dream!

1. Knitting: the main goal is to start mom's sweater. She keeps buying yarn to make herself a sweater, but never actually knits it. I offered to knit one for her. All I need is for her to give me the yarn and the pattern. I'm trying to finish all my unfinished objects (UFOs), but that will take time. Last night we did a little pattern searching and I think we agreed on brown yarn for the sweater pictured below.

2. School: I'm giving a 45 minute seminar in October. By the end of September, I have to turn in an outline. My outline is already done. My actual objective is to have a draft of all the slides by the end of the month.

3. Exercise: I'm going to run a 10k when I'm in Hawaii, so this workout thing needs to happen. My objective is to workout for 30 minutes 4 days a week. Hopefully it will be closer to 5 days a week!

4. Fashion: Silly, I know. I really want to start wearing my cowboy boots more often. I really love them, but it always seems bold to wear them around here. I will wear them once a week for the month of September. Fun! Already wore them yesterday. They're great for fall!

5. Baxter: Poor Baxter. Sometimes he gets jipped, because my schedule is nuts. I will walk him 4 days a week (hopefully more), give him a bath 2 weeks before going to the groomer. Last night I finished getting all his tangles out. So far he's gotten a walk 3 days this week, plus a trip to the river!

6. Organization: This may be wishful thinking, but I'm hoping to figure out a way to organize my yarn stash. Last night I started making a list of yarn and the project it's meant for. A lot of the yarn doesn't have a project assigned yet. Some of it just needs to turn into pretty gifts for friends and family.

That's pretty good. Not sure I can manage much more than that this month.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


It's finally starting to feel like fall! I don't want to wish away summer and sunshine, but I'm happy with temperatures in the 70's and 80's. I love how Labor Day welcomes in fall. This past weekend was full of Americana. We went to the University of Texas vs. Rice football came. That was quite the experience! Got my picture taken with a giant longhorn named Oreo while giving my best "hook 'em!" hand signal thing. I felt like such a poser, but it was fun! The rest of the weekend was spent cooking for friends and then a minor league baseball game. So fun! Doesn't get much better! The only problem with the carnitas recipe we tried was all the chili powder. During the browning process, the chili got in the air and burned my nose and throat. I'm still coughing. It's bad. Flavor was amazing in the end though. Bummer that I forgot to take pictures. 

Tomorrow I'll post about my September goals. I'm already working on one which is to wear my cowboy boots more often! Wearing them today!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Firefox Personality Quiz

I took the Firefox personality quiz this morning so that I could webify myself. You can use this link to see all the explanations for the random stuff, but here are the highlights...

Knitting Needles

Ancient symbol of self-reliance, the Knitting Needle stands for your expressive individuality in the face of commercialism. With your own hands you create that which you desire, and make it purely your own.

Do they know I'm a knitter?!? And are knitting needles really an ancient symbol of self-reliance? I'll take it!


Everything's better with a monkey in it. Monkeys are fun, smart, and optimistic. You got this crafty monkey because it reflects your own delightful optimism and playfulness. Or maybe you like bananas?

I'll give them the optimism and playful part, and I do like monkeys. In fact, I was born in the year of the monkey.

Energy Bar

Energy, nutrition, health — those are the things you value. It's good that you also like chocolate, otherwise you'd be too boring to be anointed with the EnergyBar — a sophisticated melange of sporting intentions wrapped in a candy-like execution.
 Another creepy one. Do they know I'm into nutrition?

Action Figure

A significant cultural heroic icon looms large in your inner nerd psyche. Embrace it. (We really don't want to get into the whole trademark thing, OK?)

They called me a nerd!


Thursday, September 01, 2011

Birkenstocks need repair

My beloved Birks are shot. I bought them at the Birkenstock store in Dublin before this style was even popular. That was back in 2006, I think. Maybe 2007. The sole is wearing off and they don't look quite as nice anymore. For about $70 I could get a new pair. For $60 I can get them resoled at Resole America. I'm not trying to be cheap by saving $10. I just can't part with these shoes! They've been so many places with me. Here are a handful of pictures that brought back happy memories of my Euro days. In each picture, I either know I was wearing my Birks or you can see me wearing them. These pictures are in no particular order because Blogger isn't cooperating.
It was really warm for Oktobefest that year, so I was in my Birks the whole weekend. That was before I had a dirndl!
Wore them to Neuschwanstein Castle.
Wore them to the Paris Opera House when Mom and I went to the ballet.
Also wore them when Mom and I went to see Money's Garden in Giverny.
I bought my Birks right before my 2nd trip to Paris. We spent a lot of time wandering through little neighborhoods. Brand new Birks are not so comfortable, but the scenery was just lovely!

Obviously had them on while I was spacing out in Portugal. I think I got my hair cut that day too. Always risky getting your hair cut by someone who you can't communicate with very well! It turned out fine if I remember correctly!
So those are a few happy travel memories that don't even include all the more recent travels with these shoes. Hard to believe I've had them for at least 4 years. I can't possible through them away! So they are off to the Birkenstock hospital for a little face lift. In a 8-10 business days we'll be reunited and making more happy memories together.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Too much sleep...

I wish I was drinking a beautiful latte!

I'm standing at the bus stop as I write. I did not get too much sleep last night, but I did oversleep. I still have sheet marks on my arms and my face. My hair is embracing the messy look. I'm the poster child for over sleeping. In undergrad, I'd probably have thrown on the closest pair of dirty jeans before running out the door.  At least now I find clean clothes, wash my face and put on some make up. Maybe after an hour or so and a cup of coffee it won't seem like a bad morning.

Speaking of undergrads, I'm having trouble embracing their fresh burst of energy this year. Usually I love the beginning of the school year. The undergrads always seem glad to be back, they are cheerful, the have at least a little bit of motivation...I usually find it is contagious. Not so much this year. The undergrads are still all those things, but I'm not catching the bug. Mostly I'm just jealous of all the energy I can't seem to catch! Sigh...maybe I just need that coffee sooner than later. I'm not addicted. I'm just a nicer person after I've had it.

Yes, coffee is probably my best shot at a good day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up

I don't think I did a weekly money check-up last week. I actually really like the concept that MyPrettyPennies has going. It's a good reminder to look back over my finances and have a little accountability without having to divulge too much information. So here goes...

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a plane ticket.
2. Today I am thankful for cooler weather. I don't want to wish away summer, but I'm looking forward to fall!
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was spend time with my sister and my nephews.
4. I will consider this week a success if I get the ball rolling on my literature review.
5. The thing I will miss most when summer is over pool time. I've really enjoyed spending time at the pool this summer.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I am a knitter!

It's been a really long time since I posted about knitting. Maybe a few years? Anyway, knitting is a favorite hobby of mine. Right now I'm all antsy, because I have a finished project that has to block. For you non-knitters, that means you get it wet, lay it out flat and pin it in the exact shape you want it to be and let it dry that way. It takes way more patience than I have most days. Thus, a lot of my projects are barely blocked. Here's a detail view of my most recent knit, the Holden Shawlette by Mindy Wilkes.
Can you see all those pins holding the points in place? I'm going to leave it to dry for at least 2 days. Even though I really want to take a hair drier to it and see how fast I can get it dry right now! This is a small triangle shawl that I will wear as a scarf. You know...kind of artsy, gangster style with the point in the front. According to Ravelry, I'm one of 1839 people who have knit or are knitting this little shawl. That alone should indicate that there are a lot of knitters out there! It's a free pattern to you Ravelry folks!

Here are a few other things I've knit in the last year. Just a few of a many!

A Choo Choo Train Blanket designed by Brownie Knits.

A Lace River Scarf designed by Veronik Avery.

My next project is going to be a super cute sweater with eggplant and chartreuse stripes! Here's the picture from the pattern. I'm thinking I won't wear it with that hat, I'll make make it a little longer, and I'll add some ribbing at the waist band. Fun! Should be a great sweater for fall. The more I look at the picture, the more I wonder why anyone would want to knit it. It looks dumber and dumber on the model every minute.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The cost of being cheap

Bottom line is I'm just too cheap to buy a parking pass for campus. I would buy a pass if I could park in one of the garages closer to my building. Not going to pay $150 for a pass that allows me to park in a lot 15 minutes away from my building though. It's a 30 minute walk from my house to my office. It's a 10-15 minute drive to the parking lots, plus a 15 minute walk from there to my building. So it doesn't even make sense to buy a parking pass.

I can take the bus for free. There's a bus that picks up fairly close to my house. Just a few blocks away actually. Thing is, that bus is NEVER on schedule. It's supposed to run every 15 minutes, but I've waiting way longer than 15 minutes before without seeing a bus. So, I have been walking to campus. I figure instead of waiting 15 min for the bus, I can just start walking. It's good for me to get a little extra activity in my day. On the days when I've needed to take the bus, it's usually because I'm wearing something that wouldn't be good for biking. White linen pants, for example. Foolishly, I've been walking in sandals that weren't meant for 30 minute walks in the heat of summer. That means blisters. Ugh.

Today I really needed to have my car on campus so I can run an errand this afternoon. That means I have to be on campus at the crack of dawn to get a coveted free street parking spot. If you arrive after 7:30am, you're doomed. Thankfully 7:25 was good enough today! Still, I don't see that happening too often!

What about biking? Well...I do that too. It's really the fastest. Takes about 15 minutes. Problem is, there are days like today when I need to be pretty dressed up. More than dressed up, I need to be NOT stinky! It's hard to be NOT stinky when biking in this heat! Next week I'll be back on my trusty bike and happy as a clam!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

30 was the best year yet!

A lot has happened in the last year. So far as I can tell, each year is a little better than the last. I have yet to figure out why so many people freak out about being 30 years old. I have yet to figure out why people freak about any age. Seems to me that most struggles can't be predicted, so getting all worried about a horrible situation isn't needed. Overall, each year is better than the last; even with all the struggles involved! I'm not saying my 30th year of life was all happy meals and chocolate milk. There were certainly some down days, I didn't accomplish every goal I set out to accomplish, I still have laundry all over the bedroom floor, Baxter hasn't been on enough walks, etc. Do you think I love telling people I'm 30 and still living at home? Do you think I love being bombarded about being 30 and not married? People look at me like I'm a freak half the time! I'm really happy with life just the way it is, so quit pushing all your social pressures on me! Ha! Just kidding! Not to be overly optimistic, but I'd rather focus on the awesome things that happened in the last year. Here are some of my highlight from my 30th year of life.

Two days in Taiwan

Two weeks in Australia with my mom

Learning to ski in the Austrian Alps over New Years (and not breaking any bones, I might add)

Christmas in Amsterdam

I passed my preliminary exams

Two of my best friends got married and I was honored to be in their weddings

Went to Oktoberfest in Munich again and this time wore a dirndl. Way more fun when you're dressed up!

A certain someone moved back to the US

Paid off all credit card debt

Saved enough for a respectable emergency fund

Ran a half marathon

If you ask me, that's a pretty good list. That's only the big stuff! That doesn't even touch on all the little stuff that made it such a great year. Doesn't touch on the rough spots that helped me grow. Well...happy birthday to me! Can't wait to see what the year has in store. I encourage everyone to eat cake and have a great day!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Putting the National Debt in Perspective

Before getting to the guts of this post, let me say just a few little things...
1. This blog is not meant to be a political platform. No matter what your political view, my guess is you would agree that our nation has a bit of a debt problem.
2. I don't know who made this up. It was an email that was forwarded to me. I've taken a little poetic license, but props to whoever had the idea first!
3. You should have a budget, and I hope it doesn't look like this!

If you want to understand the magnitude of the recent debt and budget
reduction actions agreed to by Congress and the President, this
non-partisan example really puts it in perspective.

*      U.S. income: $2,170,000,000,000
*      Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
*      New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
*      National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
*      Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000 (about 1 percent of the budget)

It helps to think about these numbers in terms that we can relate to.
Therefore, let's remove eight zeros from these numbers and pretend this
is the household budget for the fictitious Jones family:

*      Total annual income for the Jones family: $21,700
*      Amount of money the Jones family allocates in their budget: $38,200
*      Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $16,500
*      Outstanding credit card debt: $142,710
*      Recent budget cut: $385

I really hope your personal budget doesn't look like this! Debt can be completely overwhelming. Trust me, I know! It can be dealt with though. I'll end with this picture I found even though I've posted it before.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Freebies!

I got this picture online.
It's just about time to celebrate my 10th 21st birthday! I have a whole post about turning 30 for another day, but today is a good day to remind about birthday freebies. Have you signed up for all your birthday freebies? Here are a few that I've already gotten in my email.

Starbucks: You get a free drink of your choice. Anything, any size! You just have to go online and register a Starbucks gift card. Registering your card has lots of perks. Why anyone wouldn't register their cards, I do not know! Even if you aren't a big fan of Starbucks, at least you would get a free drink on your birthday!!

Panera: Sign up for the myPanera program. You get random free surprises and a birthday surprise.

Sephora: Last year I got mascara, eye liner, and eye shadow. Who knows what I'll get this year.

Noodle and Co: A free meal!

I'm still waiting to hear from Qdoba and a few others. Here's a link to a bunch you can sign up for!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekend of Food

The final presentation.
This weekend was a weekend of food. Not just ok food...great food! I made Peach-Whiskey BBQ chicken. I think it's a recipe P-Dub will have in her next cookbook. I used fancier peach preserves, and fancier whiskey. It was so good. I love cooking. Love it! I wish I had the time to cook 2 hour meals every night!

I served the chicken with mashed potatoes (as suggested) and grilled zucchini/yellow squash. I used a cheese slicer thing to get the long ribbons. The guys seemed to think that was pretty special. Did I mention that my audience was all guys? Cooking for guys in nice, because if they're hungry enough they will eat just about anything. On the other hand, they get picky about "girl" food. There was nothing girly about this meal, that's fo sho.

After dinner, I was surprised with birthday cake from Nick and Sam's. Is that beautiful or what?

Hello yummy goodness!
This is what I learned from the whole dinner (it's almost budget related!)
1. Chicken breasts are so 1990's. Chicken quarters are cheap, delicious, and look really nice for serving. I've never had anyone complain about eating thighs and legs.
2. You only need about 2 good sized red potatoes per person when making mashed potatoes. I estimated 3, plus a few extra for good measure. We will be eating potatoes for a few days. Oops!
3. If you have something in the oven for an hour, you should do dishes while you wait. The kitchen was a complete disaster by the end of the night!

Just wanted to make you drool a little more!

Now on a completely different topic. That snooze app I blogged about...I had to delete it! It went off the next morning, I had to listen to the obnoxious beep while I logged into my account. Then, I didn't get an option to turn off the snooze, so it went off again at which point I just turned off my phone. I've been told that it's in a serious beta phase and that a new version will be coming out soon. I'll re-install when the new app comes out and see how it is. I love the concept!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Snooze Solution: Snooze for Charity app by LetGive

I have a serious love affair with the snooze button. Sometimes I set multiple alarms just in case I turn off the alarm instead of hitting snooze. Usually laziness is a bigger problem than lack of sleep. I get so comfortable, I just don't want to get out of bed! So my solution is Snooze for app that "donates" 25 cents of your money to charity every time you hit snooze. Might be more effective if it were a greater amount. I bet there are days when 25 cents is a small price to pay to sleep a few more minutes! But since the actual donation only happens once a month, maybe the big number will shock me enough to quit hitting snooze!

Here are my initial thoughts on the app. Good in theory, bad in execution. It's a free app, and I think it's a Beta version. On the other hand, there is a lot of room for improvement.

1. You have to log in every time you wan to set the alarm. It's not linked to your bank, so I don't know why this is necessary. To link to your bank card or credit card, I think you have to log in online. Not 100% sure. If you get up at the same time every day, it's not too big of a deal as the times are set to go off daily.

2. There are barely any instructions on the app. How do you pay up? Don't know. Pretty sure you have to do this online.

3. Unless you go to the LetGive web site, you can't review the charities. I thought that by clicking on a charity listed in the app, I would be able to see what it was all about. I'm giving to Piper Theater Productions and I barely know anything about it. Which leads me to my next pet peave...

3. You can't change your charity of choice! I can't stand it when an app doesn't let you undo what you just did. Not good programming there.

4. Even on the LetGive website, you can't find out much regarding the charities. For Piper Theatre, there's a blurb and that's it. They don't even link the website for the actual not for profit organization.

5. There's very little commitment. You could consider this good or bad. Every time you hit snooze, it's actually a 25 cent pledge. The money isn't committed until you  go online (I think) and enter your bank card info.

I don't want to sound too harsh. I think this app is actually pretty cool. It's such an easy way to get a few bucks for organizations doing great things. My main frustration is not being able to change the organization I support. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for supporting the arts! It's not the end of the world! But maybe my frustration will lead to me not wanting to hit snooze and pay 25 cents! A few programming changes could really improve the execution of the idea. Until these changes are made, I can't very well give this app more than 3 stars.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Epicurious App Review and recipe share

This is another long overdue post. I made this pasta dish over a week ago. I ate it every day for 5 days with one day off somewhere in there. It was that good!

I found the recipe on Epicurus app. I love Epicurious for a lot of reasons.
1. They have legitimate apps for iPhone and iPad.
2. The recipes are generally from some of my favorite magazines
3. You can search by ingredient, dish type, etc.
4. You can create a grocery list from the recipes you choose. It costs a little more to do this for the iPhone and iPad apps. $1.99 I think.
5. Your account syncs to all devices!

So here's the recipe originally from Bon Appetite magazine

Castellane Pasta with Sausage, Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, and Marjoram

I made a few mods:
whole wheat spiral pasta gave another awesome flavor
added zucchini, and think mushrooms and/or yellow squash would be good too
Used mild Italian sausage
served with lemon boy tomato. Yum!

End result was seriously amazing! I bought store brand sausage that was on sale and had most of the other ingredients on hand. Goat's cheese was about $4. Batch would feed 4-5 people, so all in all a pretty cheap recipe. It tasted good warmed up too!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I hope you love what you do!

Sometimes when I get frustrated with school stuff, I remember that in all honesty there is nothing I'd rather be doing. All the hard work is going to pay off and I'm going to get to have a career doing exactly what I want! Yay! Last Thursday I spend the afternoon with a man who is doing exactly what he loves: breeding soy beans. For all my CC friends, you know who I'm talking about! Noose Your Yoodle! We thought we were pretty clever back then, because we could basically ask Mr. T about his soy beans and we wouldn't have to talk chemistry that day. He told me the other day, that he didn't care what we talked about as long as we were learning. Considering most of us barely knew what soy beans were, we were learning something new about soy beans every time we got off track. The afternoon was fantastic! I'm sure everyone has someone in their life who made a difference, but might not have been fully appreciated at the time. I really enjoyed seeing Mr. T's garden at home. The one he always talked to us about. Then, I got to see the farm land he rents to grow his beans. He even taught me how to hand pollinate the beans. It takes more patients than I have in this life time, but he just sits there peeling away the delicate petals of the flowers and transferring the pollen. I've never seen anything quite like it. It was cool to see exactly what he's so proud of. Don't you hope everyone can be so lucky to be doing what they want to do every day?

I was also reminded that rural Indiana is gorgeous! Could it have been a prettier day?!?

Monday, August 15, 2011

My baby mama moment

I spent the weekend with my friends BJ and Jessie and their cutie pie Canaan. He's seriously mobile and there's no wonder they have to baby proof everything. It took almost an entire day for me to figure out how to close one of the baby gates. I especially appreciated BJ pointing out that Canaan could close the gate all by himself. And of course when I realized there was a lock on the toilet seat, I had a serious baby mama moment. All but the pee in the sink part. I was finally able to figure out how to get it open, but it was NOT intuitive! Made me laugh and want to watch the movie again. All in all, it was a great weekend with old friends. Glad to know little Canaan won't be throwing things in the toilet anytime soon!

I know I still haven't posted about all the awesome stuff that happened last week, but it's going to be post-poned again.

Weekly Money Check-up hosted by MyPrettyPennies.
1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on tickets to the Cincinnati Reds game!
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was hang out with BJ, Jessie and Canaan.4. I will consider this week a success if I get my post-doc application turned in.5. If I had today off I think I'd find a park and spend the whole beautiful day there!

Friday, August 12, 2011

This will have to do...

I had one of the best days ever yesterday! I wanted to write all about it last night, but I just didn't have time. Hopefully a Super Saturday post will suffice to make up for a lack of post today! Today hasn't been bad either.

  • By 8am I had my morning coffee and Baxter got a walk!
  • Got my teeth cleaned and I have no cavities!
  • Tonight I'm going to a Cincinnati Reds game!
More tomorrow!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Finding a morning routine is the worst!

I am NOT good at mornings. I don't like waking up. I don't like getting out of bed. I just don't like the first half hour of the day. I'm trying to get better at it though. This is the quote I'm trying to remember when I wake up. I kind of want this concept to encompass the first 30 minutes of every day!

Seems like a new routine would make it all a bit better. So that's just what I'm doing! New morning routine.
a) set alarm 20 minutes earlier than usual and no more than one hit of the ol' snooze button
b) pick outfit, jewelry, purse (eventually this will happen the night before!)
c) put the coffee on
d) efficient shower
e) get dressed
f) put make up on
g) pour coffee
h) take Baxter for a walk and drink coffee, think about the wonderful things that will happen today
i) dry hair, smile at the wide awake girl in the mirror, run out the door!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I guess that right now I'm most thankful for being young. I doubt anyone likes to look at their investment portfolios and see the numbers jumping around mostly in the downward direction. Thankfully, I can grin and bare it knowing that I'm not retiring any time soon anyway! Whew! When it comes to the national economy crisis, there's really not much I can do. I can vote for folks I think will help, but even then there are a lot of confounders. I'm jumping on the self-help bandwagon! Paula over at Afford-Anything had a nice post about this the other day. She's a "firm believer that you should spend less time worrying about the nation’s finances and more time thinking about your personal pocketbook." So am I! A reader also mentioned Dave Ramsey. I can't say I have strong opinions about Dave. I've never read any of his books, but I've poked around on his web site. Whether you're a fan of his or not, he's inspired a lot of people to get the heck out of debt. Right now, he's got a whole campaign to encourage everyone to take personal responsibility for the financial situation: The Great Recovery.  Can't say I'll be buying a Great Recovery t-shirt or bumper sticker any time soon, but the campaign seems like a good idea. I'd be curious to know what other people think about the situation. I'd always like to think 1 person can make a difference! Especially if that one person encourages another person who encourages another person. If you're reading this, be that one more person!

And despite what we're hearing on the news, let's remember to be thankful! Reality is, we have it pretty good!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Half way successful

I'll consider this weekend half way successful. Remember the projects I was inspired to do this weekend? One out of two isn't bad, right? The super colorful and cute bracelet seemed like a bit much to tackle on my first go, so I went for simplicity.

Here's the link to the tutorial.

And the bracelet I made...

Here's the other side...

I'm excited. The beads and leather were already in my tangled mess of jewelry making stuff from days gone by. I had to buy beading thread. That stuff is expensive! $9.99 for 50 meters at Michaels. Luckily i remembered to print off a 40% off coupon, so it ended up being $5. I should be able to make 2 or 3 more bracelets with all the stuff i have now. I have a necklace pendant that actually matches the green of this bracelet, and I'm still thinking this bracelet will jazz up jeans and a grey t-shirt! Guess my jewelry will have to stay all spread out on my dresser a while longer.

Here's my weekly money check-up hosted by MyPrettyPennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on an awesome black purse. I am excited about the purse and excited that it was in the budget. The other 2 purses I bought weren't exactly in the budget, but I moved some numbers around to make it work! No more purses for a long time!
2. Today I am thankful for slightly cooler weather, for all the encouragement I'm getting for applying to post-docs, for the dog sitting gig, and for air conditioning!
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was spending time with Baxter in the garden.
4. I will consider this week a success if I write a paper about nutrition and technology.
5. This time last year, I was about to turn 30. I was thinking a lot about why so many people freak out about turning 30, and wondering if eventually I would realize why and freak out myself. Then, I realized that life just keeps getting better year after year. Seriously no need to freak out! I was also nervous about a course in techniques for translational research that I ended up getting an A in. One of these days I'll realize that worrying doesn't solve problems!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Be thankful for what you have!

I saw this quote the other day and it's been stuck in my head ever since. Generally when I see quotes like this my mind immediately goes to things like family, friends, Baxter, my car that works, zero rent living, grad school, 3 year old laptop that still works, and stuff like that. What about every day stuff though? So many people out there don't have stuff. Right now, the news is really letting us know about all the kids out there without stuff. Kids without cool clothes to wear back to school, kids without all the school supplies they need, kids without enough food outside of school. I bet some of these kids would love to have one of my bazillion backpacks and I should probably give a few of them away!

Ok, so I am NOT the queen of being thankful for what I have. Seems like there is always something out there that I don't have and really really want. That, and quite honestly, I love shopping! Tell you what though, the garage sale prep last week has been life changing! All this cleaning and organizing makes me realize several things.

1. I have too much stuff.
2. I have some really awesome stuff.
3. I should appreciate my stuff more.

I am really thankful for all the stuff I already have. Now I just need to maximize the use of it all. So despite the fact that I bought not 1 or 2, but 3 purses in the last couple of days...I've decided that I should work really hard to love the stuff I have and enjoy it more than usual. Here's what I've done so far. 

These are my purses, and yes...I have plaid
wall paper and purple walls in my room.
15 yrs old will do that to you!
I bought a purse hanger thing so that my purses can be up off the floor. I think this will make me want to get rid of a few I never ever use, but also switch it up more often! I got the hanging thing on amazon for about $10 and it works so well! The black and white purse on the top right still has a water bottle and my iPad in it. Weight isn't a problem for this thing! Woohoo!

I laid out all my jewelry. I've already been having fun picking the jewelry to go with each outfit in the morning, because I can actually see it all! Brilliant!

My closet is pretty wonky and you're not going to see a picture! Basically it's L-shaped, but if you could really see it you would agree that it's more T-shaped. On one side there is a clothes hanging bar with 2 shelves above and 1 shelf below. The other part of the T is floor to ceiling shelves. I remembered that some of the shelves were removable. Took 2 out, added a new clothes hanging bar for short things like shirts. Again...brilliant use of $10! I can see what I have and it's way more fun to pick outfits. Plus, thanks to Pinterest, I have all these new outfit ideas utilizing clothes and accessories I already have!

So enough about me. What do you take for granted? What can you do to appreciate your stuff more? Do you have stuff to get rid of? Go hop to it!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Save Money: Pack Your Lunch

Packing your lunch takes a few minutes, but does not have to be difficult. You don't need a gourmet lunch. You don't need a fancy lunch box, but I'll admit, I really like having one! I had a teacher in high school who was probably one of the most frugal people on the planet. Mostly, because he had to be. Anyway, he brought his lunch in a bread bag every single day. Perfect example of re-purposing something useful! My apologies for ever making fun of him out loud or in my head for that. It does help to have some leak proof containers on hand though. Baggies are fine for sandwiches, but let's face it....they are expensive and wasteful and I don't like eating sandwiches every day! Here's what I'm loving right now.

Zip-lock divided rectangle containers. About $2.00 in stores now!

Here's my partially eaten lunch from the other day. Nothing fancy: peanut butter and jelly, a few cheese cubes, carrots and hummus, and cherries. Today I forgot to take a picture, but I had watermelon chunks in the big section, cheese cubes in the smallest section, and baked ham chunks in the medium sections. Yum! Now I want more ham.

The best part is that the lid seals each section in a way so that if you have liquidy stuff, it won't run from one section to another! The other thing you have to be careful about it microwaving. If you're going to microwave your lunch, all 3 sections are getting nuked! It's all got to be cold or it's all got to be hot. So far, I've gone all cold. My friend, Dana, had a hot lunch today in one of these containers. We're both loving the container situation!

Here's my lunch container for tomorrow. It's a microwavable omelet pot made by Jo!e.
Basically, you put in 2 eggs, a tad bit of butter or oil (not sure if this is really needed), and whatever else you want in you omelet. Whisk (a fork is fine) inside the pot, and nuke for 1:30 and bingo! You have a little omelet! I confess that I bought this at TJ Maxx a long time ago and have never used it, but today is that day. I have 2 raw eggs wrapped in a paper towel to prevent breaking and some chopped up veggies and a little cheese in the pot already. I think it will be a nice, super cheap, easy lunch. Of course it would be an easy breakfast too, but I'm more worried about lunches right now.

Here's the picture off the website with a finished omelet.

It also says, "only available in Canada." Obviously that's a lie, because I got mine right here in Indiana at TJ Maxx! This company makes all kinds of pseudo unnecessary, but very cute kitchen stuff. I bet anyone who has been to TJ Maxx has seen this brand in the kitchen section.

I hope that the beginning of the school year is a good excuse to make a resolution to pack your lunch and save some cash! Or, as I'm fond of saying...not spend cash.