Saturday, April 30, 2011

We're starting a garden!

A few friends and I decided it's time to have a garden. I wrote about the plot the other day. Yesterday we took it a step further! Now we have seeds for lettuce, asparagus, bush beans, and easter egg radishes. We also checked out the garden plot yesterday. It needs a wee bit of weeding. Good thing we all have new garden gloves! It's always good to look the part. 

We spent a decent chunk of time at Bennett's Greenhouse looking at all our options. It's not going to be as expensive as I thought. Most little plants cost about $1.50 each. Obviously getting started from seeds would be cheaper, but it's not so feasible for us. None of us really have space to get all the seeds started and none of us has the time to deal with it. Little plants are the way to go!

Here's the gang.
Rebecca, fondly referred to as "Regular Rebecca" with a row of tempting tomatoes. I think we'll have about 8 tomato plants when it's all said and done!

John, the wonderful man Rebecca married. He's our garden expert. We're plot X6. It's close to the garden shed which is pretty nice actually. It's also pretty close to the plot belonging to my date from the freshman winter dance. Funny story.

Me with my friend, Emily and all our seeds and our new garden gloves. We're ready to go. Surely our enthusiasm will take us pretty far!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Getting Started with Coupons

Last week, the only thing I got for free was a small bottle of Listerine at CVS. Small bottles were on sale 5 for $5. I had a coupon for $1 off from my dentist. Listerine. Well, almost free. I paid 7 cents tax. No biggie. I love getting deals like this!

For anyone interested in getting started with coupons, this weekend is a big weekend! The Sunday paper at the beginning of the month always has the most coupons. I'd recommend 2 - 4 papers this week if you can pull it off. You can just get the coupon inserts from your non-couponing neighbors and people who go to Starbucks to read the paper often ditch the ads right away. I'll probably end up with 2 papers. Should be good enough for my current lackadaisical approach.

For the record, I am not an "extreme" couponer like you see on TLC. There are some real benefits to be had by couponing all you can. Every penny counts in my book and I'm all for getting good deals! However, what you see on TLC isn't necessarily something to aspire to.  Jennifer Derrick over at Person Finance advice sums it up. This is a great article pointing out what you don't see on this show.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My new NETGEAR wireless router won't connect to my iPhone (actually, it finally connected)

For the first time ever, my house has wi-fi! Kinda crazy, right? I mean really...who doesn't have wi-fi?!? I got a NETGEAR - RangeMax Dual-Band Wireless-N Router. The good news is it was super easy to set up. The bad news is my iPhone won't connect. I've been reading a few things online and I think I'll get it eventually, but it's starting to be a little more frustrating than it should be.

I feel like I've written about Best Buy a lot lately, so let me just say that Best Buy has no idea who I am. Truth be told, I generally don't like Best Buy all that much because of experiences like the one I'm about to tell you about. Last week I was at Best Buy putting a deposit on an iPad (still waiting by the way) and I decided to ask a sales person to tell me about wireless routers. The guy came over and I say something like, "I was hoping you could talk to me a little bit about wireless routers. I'd like to know what the difference is between them." Before I even finished with all of that, the guy picks up an $80 router. After I'm finished he tells me it's the one for me.

Umm....let's back track a minute...

I said I want to talk about the differences between the routers. I didn't say, please pick an expensive one and try to sell it to me. This story basically sums up my Best Buy experiences. I go in and some jerk tries to tell me why one certain product is what I need instead of just describing the products and letting me make an informed decision. For that reason, I have not shopped at Best Buy for a really really long time. The only reason I'm shopping there now is because I can get the best deal on what I am shopping for right now. For instance, the router I got was on some super sale online for $40 instead of $60 and free shipping. The set up was super easy, but I can't get my iPhone to connect. If anyone has a brilliant idea, let me know! I've tried all the usual fixes and they haven't worked yet. Sad. If it doesn't work with an iPad, the router is going back and I'm going to write a mean review!

This morning when I checked my phone, it asked for the wi-fi password. Not sure why the router needed to sleep on that decision, but it's working with my iPhone now, so all is well! No mean reviews.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Crying over the price of gas

I don't understand the price of gas! How can it go from $3.92 in the morning to $4.17 in the afternoon?!? I just bumped my gas budget up by about 15% to accommodate the prices we've seen the last month or so. Is it really ok for gas prices to jump 6% in a day?!? I heard on the news that there's higher demand. What?!? Did 1 million 16 year olds just get cars or something? I find it hard to believe the rest of us are really driving more. I'm going with the 1 million 16 year olds added to the road theory.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekly Money Check Up

I've really started to look forward to these weekly money check ups from MyPrettyPennies. Here's the Easter edition.

Weekly Money Check-Up is a fill-in-the blank post once a week. The first four questions are always the same each week and the fifth is always different. Care to participate? Fill in the blanks in the comments section or post it on your blog and link back to here! I usually post it on Mondays, but it can be posted any time of the week. Thanks for participating! :)
1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on an iPad deposit at Best Buy. Adds a new dimension to the waiting game.
2. Today I am thankful that I had something clean to wear to church this morning.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was sleep. I slept for nearly 12 hours Friday night and then took a 3 hour nap on Saturday afternoon. It was just what the doctor ordered.
4. I will consider this week a success if I get all my grading done. Thank goodness for group assignments!
5. This Easter I spent the day with family. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Memories

For me, Easter memories involve church and pretty dresses. I don't remember so much about the Easter bunny. All I really remember is that our baskets were always hidden. There was always plastic easter grass stuck to the Peeps and you never knew if you were about to bite into a chocolate malted milk ball or a bubble gum egg. We had easter egg hunts in the front yard with real, hard boiled eggs. In retrospect, we probably shouldn't have eaten some of those eggs. Usually we didn't even know how many we were looking for, because mom never counted. One year, mom got plastic eggs and hid them all over the neighborhood for the neighbor-hoodies. What we like to call good, old fashioned insurance. Mom was nice to the kids and in turn they didn't vandalize our property. Not a bad gig. Another year when Martin and I were a bit older, we had a piñata. For some reason there was an argument and mom was pretty mad at us about something, but there are old pictures that don't show any remnants of arguing. Just scrawny kids whacking at a piñata. Now, I still get a chocolate bunny that I couldn't possible finish even if I tried and a bunch of candy. If one thing is for certain...Starburst has really changed the standard for jelly beans. Thank goodness!

I had the prettiest dresses. Usually my mom would sew me a new dress, but one year I got a gorgeous dress from Zayres. Zayres was kind of like K-Mart, but it didn't even have the business model to last as long as K-Mart has. Now there's a Rural King where Zayres used to be. Anyway, I had my heart set on this dress. It was right in the front of the store calling my little 3 or 4 year old name. The dress was probably horrible in all ways the 1980's made dresses horrible. I think there were pink on pink polka dots, tulle, and probably some satin thrown in for good measure. I couldn't have felt more beautiful in that dress even though is was probably the chinciest thing I ever wore. Ever! I don't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure I had white gloves and big hats other years. Other dresses had more class. I remember a navy blue calico dress with a white collar that mom made. There was a little white pinafore type thing with a bunny embroidered on it. Mom didn't have time to get the buttons on, so she sewed it to me. Not the first or the last time I had a dress sewn on me! Those were the glory years!

I don't remember much about church when I was little other than it was a festive, happy place to be on Easter. I do remember church at St. James. I thought the Easter breakfast was the coolest thing since sliced bread! What could be better than sitting around eating scrambled eggs, sausage, and pancakes with all your Sunday School friends? And any one who has ever been to St. James on Easter Sunday surely has Pastor French's booming voice etched in their heads as he yelled, "He is risen!" And of course we all replied as enthusiastically as possible, "He is risen indeed!" It was never enthusiastic enough. Pastor French always boomed a little louder, "I said, HE IS RISEN!" And mustering a little more enthusiasm, "HE IS RISEN INDEED!" That followed by the singing of "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" with trumpets blaring and little girls in pretty dresses...that sums up Easter in my book.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cleaning tirade!

image credit
Not sure what got into me. Must be the spring cleaning bug! Maybe my room will be all neat and tidy by the end of the day. And maybe there will be several bags of clothes to donate by the end of the day. I can only hope! It all started with a 15 minute task list. I was bored on a flight and made a table with a bunch of things I thought I could get done in 15 minutes. Today that 15 minutes turned into a whole morning! Gotta take advantage of the situation for sure!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I still want an iPad2

I want an iPad 2. I want one real bad. I've been waiting for a really long time. A term that came up a lot during my conferences was, "early adopter." Early adopters tend to be the technology freaks who wait in line for the latest and greatest. I can relate to these people, but I'm not one of them. I want to be waiting in line. I want to be one of the first. I'm never one of the first though. It's all for the better in my opinion. For the iPod, iPhone and the iPad, I've waited one very long painful year for the next version to come out. Actually, the iPod was a fluke. Sure, I wanted one. I didn't spend my own money on it though. Landed myself in the hospital for a while and my godmother suggested someone get me one. Boom. iPod nano 2nd generation. It's my general opinion that the iPhone 3Gs is quite a bit better than the iPhone 3G. Worth the wait. The iPhone 4 doesn't tempt me. I think the iPad 2 has been worth the wait, but the problem is I'm still waiting!!!! I finally broke down and put a deposit down at Best Buy. Here's the logic...

I wanted to get something engraved on the back of it, but I couldn't decide what. No longer need to buy from the Apple Store. Everyone suggested I engrave something generic, so that I can sell my iPad someday. What? I've never sold any technology. I tend to use it till it dies. Or in the case of my iPod, till it dies and comes back to life. That baby has been through the wash! Once it dried out, it worked like a gem.

I have a Best Buy rewards card, so basically I'll get 1% cash back from my credit card and $10 in gift certificates back from Best Buy.

I'm tired of called the AT&T store and Best Buy every day to see if they have any in yet. Best Buy will call me when the iPad comes in. Could be tomorrow, could be in a week or so. Until then, I'll be waiting at the edge of my seat! Can you guess what color I ended up with? Black or white? And what color case do you suppose I'll get? The color has been chosen!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April showers

I was a bit bummed by all the rain yesterday. I'm ready for spring! I'm ready to garden. Yes, that's right...I'm going to have a garden. Purdue Extension for Tippecanoe County has a great community garden program. Basically, for $20 you get a 15x20 foot garden plot that's already tilled! A few of my friends and I are in cahoots and plan to work together on this endeavor. I'm super excited and trying to remember that April showers bring May flowers. And maybe vegetables too! You'll want to watch the video. It might not be as cool as Kevin's music videos, but it'll make you smile. I promise!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Staying calm when your flight is delayed isn't always easy

 I’m writing this while stuck in the airport. I was trying to stay calm, so reading a magazine seemed to be a good idea. It was until I found out that in Hong Kong you can have your wedding reception at McDonalds. They have a reception room. No joke. Instead of a wedding cake, they serve a pyramid of single serve apple pies. I can’t imagine a worse wedding reception! I mean really…what is this world coming to?

Second not so calming factor…a whole plane load of kids who are on their way home from space camp. Holy canolli! Talk about a good dose of birth control! There’s one kid who I’ve observed to be a bit of a social outcaste. You might say he’s in his own little world. Nothing wrong with that. I’m often in my own little world. This guy must be about 12 years old. He’s wearing a bright blue space suit and he’s hiding between the chairs. Or under the chairs. Despite his awkward behavior, I have a feeling he just had the time of his life at space camp! It’s my general opinion that there’s nothing better in the world for a kid than camp!

Time for more Sudafed. Experiencing spring in 4 states and one commonwealth in a 10 day span has been a bit much for me. Serious sinus thing going on and I’m not happy about it. Thank goodness for Sudafed. I hope the meth heads don’t ruin a good thing. If I wasn’t able to buy Sudafed, I don’t know how I’d survive. My sinuses might actually explode!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Need to get back to couponing!

I almost watched Extreme Couponing on TLC last night, but then decided against it. Seemed like a bad idea to get all motivated to be a crazy couponer when the reality is I don’t have time right now. For a while there I was totally organized and into it. I was getting free stuff at CVS every week. Sometimes more than once a week! I was surprised how much I could get for just pennies.

If you are interested in getting free stuff at the grocery store or the drug store, there are a bazillion web sites to help with that. Before you get started, let me share a few things that I learned the hard way. I just wasn’t convinced at first.

1. You need motivation. You need to separate SAVING from NOT SPENDING. I can’t stand it when people say, “I just saved so much money!” when in fact, they just didn’t spend so much money. It’s only saved if you don’t spend it! For example: some people set a reasonable grocery budget, use coupons to get discounts, and then put the money saved in a special accounts towards a savings goal. Maybe you want to put that money towards paying off debt or maybe you want to save for an iPad. Coupons are used by some people who either don’t have the money to spend, or people who have other things to spend the money on. I fall into that category. I try to keep my toiletry budget to a bare minimum so that I can spend that money on fun stuff. Who wants to spend $4 on a toothbrush when you could spend $4 on a latte?

1. You need multiple copies of the Sunday paper. In order to get the best deals, you need multiple coupons for the same item. If an item is buy one, get one free…you want 2 coupons. If it’s 3 for $5…you want 3 coupons. Get the picture? You can try to get it delivered for cheap, get it from neighbors (with their permission of course), look at Starbucks or other hangouts for discarded papers, etc.

2. You do NOT need to “clip” the coupons. At first I was overwhelmed trying to clip the coupons, organize them, and then find them when I needed them. Reality is, some people clip, some people don’t. My favorite system is to keep an accordion file and simply put each week’s fliers in one section. That way I can go to the date of the coupon release. Every couple of weeks I discard all the expired ones.

3. You need to be bold. Now and again, you’re going to run into a grumpy cashier. Other times, there will be a line behind you. Do not fret! Grumpy cashiers aren’t so bad. Just keep smiling and thank them for their help. Long lines…well…if you’re doing multiple transactions, you could let other people go ahead of you in between transactions. As you get better with the coupon routine, you will also get more efficient. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. The people behind you will be jealous when you pay a few dollars for a cart full of stuff!

Here are some websites I use to find deals, learn the tricks of the trade, and be encouraged to keep moving forward.

This was one of the first sites I came across when I was learning about coupons. She’s got great advice for finding motivation, finding deals, and lists lots of free stuff to sign up for. I like her coupon check-lists for specific stores.

She lists coupon match-ups by store, free stuff, and great information for menu planning.

Need I say more? Every week you can find coupon matches for the best deals at CVS.

I hope you can find your own motivation for saving little bits of money with coupons. Every penny counts. Questions for the comments sections…Do you use coupons? What’s your motivation?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A summary of my trip in pictures...

Welcome chocolates from the Courtyard Marriott. Pretty much the highlight of the hotel.

Blooming tea! Pretty cool if you ask me!

The gang with a chocolatier from DC. I look like a mess, but it's because I was overwhelmed with an amazing evening of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.

This is chocolate from my goody bag. For real. I'm actually in nutrition, but maybe I should get a degree in foody-ism!

Didn't buy these, but they were more tempting than I expected!

Did I mention that I like food? Steak, beans, rice, and fried plantains. Yum!

Heather went with lobster.

Kinda blurry, but that is a serious case of man purse!

Just ate this. It was in my chocolate goody pile. Now I have to find them and buy a big stash! So good!

I did more than eat on this trip! I won an award of excellence for my research poster, had great conversations with important researchers in my field, talked statistics with a statistician from NIH way more than I've ever talked statistics before in my life, got advice for applying to post-docs and got enough free pens to last me at least another year!

Things are good, but crazy!

My apologies for a boring blog the last couple of days. This conference stuff isn't for sissies! Today is the 5th and final day of my second conference. We'll head to conference 3 this evening. I'm having a great time, but I'm exhausted. Hopefully I can sleep on the plane tonight!

Pictures coming soon!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Under 1 Million

I made it! There are less than 1 million blogs that are better than mine now. Must keep plugging along.

Two things that have already happened this morning before 10am
1. I might have an opportunity to help with social media for a professional organization I'm involved with.
2. I got coupons for free orange juice and free snacks!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Conference is going well!

One conference down...two to go! Yesterday's conference went really well. I presented a poster. Think science fair on steroids! Research posters aren't so different from science fair posters in that they include the same components: background, hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusion. Obviously, way more work goes into a graduate or professional research poster, but I get just as excited about presenting now as I did back in the days of science fair! My favorite poster visitor yesterday was a 2nd grader. Evidently she had the day off from school, so she attended the conference with her grandmother. It was so fun trying to explain what I do to a 2nd grader. I had more professional conversations as well. Here's hoping I can turn all that work into a manuscript soon!

Friday, April 08, 2011

The eagle is sleeping

That's not some espionage code. Last night I really watched an eagle go to sleep! Have you ever watched a bald eagle get ready for bed? I just did! Me and 85,000 other people! There are cameras hidden next to the nest of 2 bald eagles and their little eaglets. It's ridiculously addicting to watch. I love it. Actually, I traded in for the eagle cam. My office is in the basement of basements, so having nature sounds is a nice change of pace. Maybe if I turn the fan on it'll be like having a window open. Nature sounds and a breeze!

Earlier today I watched one of them feed the baby eaglets. Watching such a ferocious bird be so gentle was awe inspiring. Now you can watch them on my blog. Enjoy! Even my one year old nephew can say "eagle" now.

Streaming .TV shows by Ustream

Thursday, April 07, 2011

A few things that make me happy

1. The estimated ship date for iPad 2 is now 2-3 weeks.
2. My alexa blog rating is almost to 1 million. That means there are just barely 1 million blog ranked better than mine. We're making progress!
3. I will be sleeping in a Marriot bed for the next 6 nights. That means I will be sleeping like a baby.
4. I'm about to experience the cherry blossoms in bloom in DC for the first time. Not DC for the first time. I've lost count of the number of times I've been to DC. This is the first time I've ever been during the Cherry Blossom Festival though!
5. I can get Starbucks whenever I want for the next 8 days! Yay for per diem!
6. I got a new sim card in my iPhone in hopes for better reception.
7. I have a plane ticket to Australia. So does my mom!
8. In just 4 weeks I can stop training for the half marathon and enjoy working out just for the pleasure of staying in shape.
9. I pretty much rocked out an enzymatic analysis that involved a lot of pipetting. Booya! I'll be presenting the results at a conference on Friday.
10. 8 days of conferences...can you say "free pens!" I love all the free pens and stuff I get at conferences.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Speedy Rewards Got Me Free Make Up

I got all this plus a bottle of foundation for $0.68!
Clinique make up is worth splurging on. I've tried a few brands available at drug stores, but none really did the trick for me. I try to make my Clinique purchases during Bonus Days so that I can get a bunch of free stuff. Typically you get some lip gloss, eye shadow, mascara and lotion. Enough to last me a while! Bonus Days sneaked up on me and I forgot to budget it in. Oops! Luckily I had enough points on my Speedy Rewards card for a $25 Macy's gift card! I blogged about the Speedy Rewards card a while ago. It takes more than a few months to build up those points. I had a sense of inner joy when I paid for my make up and got all the free stuff. I only paid $0.68!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

AunT of the year award applicant!

Being an auntie rocks! This weekend I spoiled my nephews with cupcakes from Bleeding Heart Bakery. It's a punk rock, organo-schmano bakery in Chicago. I hadn't heard of it before, but evidently the owners compete on those cake decorating shows!  I got a slew of cupcakes and headed to my sister's for a surprise (kind of) visit. Oh my goodness! The big guy was so excited he could hardly stand it. He certainly couldn't stand still! The little guy decided he liked me for the first time ever which was totally worth the drive up there. And, my sister and I enjoyed really good cupcakes! The boys just ate the frosting. I suppose that was fine, but they missed out on some yummy cupcake goodness. When it was time for bed, Big Guy got the couch all ready for me which was totally sweet of him. He also woke me up earlier than you might want to wake up on  Saturday morning, but it was cool. We chilled on the couch and watched some show about sharks. What could be better?!?!? Well...Little Guy still loved me! I figured it was a one night stand, but no...I think I finally won him over! Aren't they just adorable?

This may have been the only time he stood still all night!

Pretty sure he's thinking, "Oh mommy, AunT loves me! She brought me a cupcake!"

And now time for the weekly money checkup. Questions provided by MyPrettyPennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a birthday present for a certain someone.
2. Today I am thankful for warmer weather.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was spend Saturday night and Sunday morning with my sister and my nephews!
4. I will consider this week a success if I get everything for my conferences down AND get sleep.
5. The last dream I had I don't remember. I remember a dream from last week though. I was in a boat and there was a tornado that blew away everything in the boat except the people. Luckily my passport was in my pocket!

Weekly Money Check-Up is a fill-in-the blank post once a week. The first four questions are always the same each week and the fifth is always different. Care to participate? Fill in the blanks in the comments section or post it on your blog and link back to here! I usually post it on Mondays, but it can be posted any time of the week. Thanks for participating! :)

Friday, April 01, 2011

My camera has been found!

My mom found my camera the other day. Great news for me! I was surprised by the pictures. Evidently, the last time I used my camera was at the Feast of the Hunters' Moon. This festival is a really big deal for my family. I've only missed 3...maybe 4 times in my entire life. 2 of those times I was in Ireland and another time I was in California for a school conference that was required. Otherwise I would have been at the Feast. My sister used to drive home from Toronto for the weekend of the Feast. Big deal, folks....really really big deal for our family. Here are some pictures from the past year.
 Who's corn is it?

John Figgy helping with a bonnet.

Aunt Alecia talking sheepish things

That's the face of a boy about to do something with a bow and arrow. Watch out!