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.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tidying up Inspires Weekend Projects

My jewelry on display
This weekend I plan to complete a few fun projects. My nephew is turning 2 on Friday, and I can hardly wait for his birthday party on Saturday. Sunday is going to be for a few fun projects. I've been organizing my room. I'd say re-organizing, but the truth is that it's been in a state of disarray and so I'm basically just organizing! I laid all my jewelry out on top of my dresser. Might be the most organized my jewelry has ever been, but obviously I need a system! This is the inspiration for a few weekend project ideas.

Project 1: Jewelry Holder
I'm thinking something like this wire and picture frame deal, but it's going to need room for more earrings than this one can hold. Surely I have an old frame and some wire sitting around that could be used for this. Next on the list will be something to deal with all the necklaces. Anyone have old wooden silverware trays? I need them!

Project 2: Beaded Wrap Bracelet
Hello cuteness! I'll have to search through my beads at home to see what I have and then supplement with beads from Von's. I have a few beads that might actually serve as the elephant, but a little metal animal or elephant would be so cute. We'll see what Von's has! This will add a cheerful touch when I'm in a jeans and gray t-shirt mood! I'm pretty much always in a jeans and gray t-shirt mood. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Loving Grad School

Ninja over at PunchDebtInTheFace had a posted while back about grad school being over-rated. I rolled my eyes, laughed, and was inspired to write a post. After reading his post, I'm inclined to say he might have a narrow view of grad school. I guess I was happy to see that so many of his readers agreed with me. Anyway, the post made me really think about my education story, so I thought I'd share it with you.

I started school on my 6th birthday. That was probably not a good sign. Of course my mom had treats ready for the class. We made candy necklaces out of licorice laces and fruit loops! Who's the cool girl?!?!?! (Turns out, not me!)

First grade just plane sucked from day 1. I thought I could handle it, but as it turns out I only lasted about 45 minutes. We had chapel on the first day of school. I think my actual birth was announced during chapel on the first day of school when my sister was in 3rd grade. Anyway, after chapel I left crying. Mom took me for a milk shake at Stallard's Drug Store on Main Street (sadly, not there anymore). By the time I got back everyone was doing dumb worksheets and practicing writing their name or something dumb like that. My sister taught me to write my name forwards, backwards, and in cursive by then. I could tell school was not going to be good at all. Plus, Miss Garwood made me give up most of my crayons. She would only allow 24 crayons in your pencil box, so I had to pick my favorite 24 out of a likely color coded box of 64 new Crayola crayons. Dumb.

Second grade...well, that's the only year in my entire life that I got perfect attendance. I liked it that Mrs. Deitle let us color while she read to us after recess. We also learned hymns like Go Tell it On the Mountain and I still know all the words to this day. With Mrs. Deitel I mostly remember singing, learning about Jesus, being read to, and Brian Gravitt loved doing word searches. He also had the biggest feet I had ever seen in my entire life.

Third grade was the beginning of the end. I had a fantastic teacher, Mrs. Maurer. She taught me times tables. I've forgotten most of them, but at least I can still do the 9's on my hands. I'm pretty sure I was one of the last kids to finish memorizing the times tables. She taught us long division too. I think I'm better at long division than times tables. Where would I be without the calculator on my phone? We wrote haiku poems and learned the books of the Bible. I can still have to sing if I'm going to figure out the order of the New Testament. We got to play a spelling computer game called Word Chomper or something like that. We also got to play Oregon Trail. Mrs. Maurer read to us every day, but we were not allowed to color. We could read along, but it was much nicer to just listen. I think my favorite book was Mr. Popper's Penguins, but I also liked The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and of course Charlotte's Web. Socially, 3rd grade sucked. That's right about when the girls got mean. I cried a lot. Luckily, I started ballet around then and had friends at ballet. Ballet was my happy place.

Oh, fourth grade. I don't remember that much about 4th grade except that I went to overnight camp for the first time the summer before 4th grade and got a glow in the dark t-shirt. I probably cried for a week before school started because I didn't want to go. The alternative was homeschooling and that just wasn't going to happen. I think science started getting cool in 4th grade. We learned about the parts of a plant. I really don't remember much else about 4th grade. I thought Mrs. May was a good teacher. She was fair. I just don't remember what we learned.

Fifth through 8th grade were pretty much horrendous on a social level. If I hadn't been in ballet I would have switched schools. I had a science teacher who I did not get along with at all. Trust me, my love for science is not because of her. I have no idea why she didn't like me, but she didn't. I sure didn't like her and I was probably a bit of a smart mouth. She made me sit in the hall all the time. I probably learned just about as much in the hall as I would have in her class. I remember learning some Algebra in 8th grade. Mrs. Richeson taught us to write starting in 6th grade. Thank goodness! This blog is by no means a testimony to what she taught me about writing! I can actually write really well when I put my mind to it. She also taught handwriting which I loved. I think she may have the prettiest handwriting of anyone I know.

High school got much better. I finally had friends at school! Yay! Plus I had a great science teacher. He was a great teacher in a funny kind of way. Good ol' Mr. Taylor. Mostly, he just made us think. "Noose Your Yoodle," was writtin on the chalkboard quite a bit. I took earth space science my freshman year plus 2 years of chemistry with him. He may not have taught us all the book stuff we needed to know for college, but by the end of those years I wasn't intimidated by lab equipment, I could balance chemical equations, and I had curiosity! What more does a kid need?

College was rough a first. Not socially. Socially I was happy as a clam! I had fantastic friends and I was dancing my heart out. Literally. It was academics that weren't going so hot. I really just wasn't a fan of the pharmacy program. Some classes were cool, but I didn't have much desire to study the material so I didn't. And my scores reflected that lack of studying. By the end of my 2nd year I had to make some big decisions.

Decision 1: stop dancing. Sad. My body couldn't really take that level of dancing anymore. I was ruining myself day by day. No matter how much I loved it, the truth was I was so skinny my body couldn't function quite right. The real kicker was when my heart started going haywire. Heart meds got me through my last performance. I loved dancing so much that I had to quit cold turkey. I didn't have the discipline to only dance a few days a week. I only knew how to dance like crazy. A few days a week was just not going to be possible, so sad as it was I quit. It still breaks my heart, but I love getting to watch performances. A lot of little girls who I used to teach when they were 4 are now graduating from high school. Sandra Peticolas is an artistic genius. Without her, who knows what my life would have been like. Ballet was my escape for so long. I decided I needed to quit dancing in order to focus on my studies.

Decision 2: Transfer to the dietetics program. I didn't even really know what dietetics really was! Once I got into it, I was sold! I went from your average student to nearly strait A's. Not because the classes were any easier. I just LOVED what I was studying. Dietetics is a career I wish more high school students knew about. There are a million opportunities and it's a great career.

All of a sudden I was a dietitian working in a rural hospital. Talk about an adventure! I had so much fun there. I wanted more though. I knew that if I wanted a career in public health nutrition, I needed a Masters degree. Turns out one of my professors knew of the perfect program. I got accepted to a program in Ireland. Yup! That program included a stipend too, and of course I didn't have to pay tuition because of the scholarship. The program required for me to study outside of Ireland, so I spent 6 weeks in Portugal and 3 weeks in Germany. I also traveled all over Europe for fun since I was already over there. Initially I had no intention to get a PhD. Then one day I got a call from the program director suggesting I get a PhD. The rest is history. Now I'm back getting my PhD and loving it. It's like I'm making up for all the years that I didn't really like school in the past. I suppose I complain on occasion, but the reality is I like grad school way more than most. I like my project, my adviser, and my department. I've had opportunities to travel domestically and internationally. It may be super nerdy, but I'm excited about a career in academia. I hope I can give back by instilling confidence and passion in my students, while making a more global difference through research. Very exciting!

So there you have it. In my opinion grad school is far from over-rated. It may not be for everyone. Many folks can have seriously successful careers without going to grad school at all. So long as you do what you love and strive to be the best you can be, that's all that really matters.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Does under budget justify splurges?

I've never really watched Suze Orman's show on CNBC before. I've heard she's a dynamic speaker, and I know lots of people are fans. So here I am, sitting in front of the TV and Suze is dishing out her opinion. It's more interesting than I expected! My favorite is when people call in to ask if they can afford something. Today's ridiculous scenarios included a 9 yr old who wanted to buy a $950 crystal bird, a mom with lots of debt of every kind who wants to send her 2 yr old to private pre-school at the tune of 25K per year, and a lady with basically zero savings who wanted to buy a $2,000 doll. Obviously she told all of them no. My favorite was the $25K pre-school. Really? For $25K they better be able to pass the SAT at the end of the year! Nuts. Just nuts. I guess it's a good reminder that a) what you spend money on isn't really my business and b) maybe I should re-evaluate what I think I want! I wonder what she would tell me if I told her I'd like to buy a $50 purse and showed her my money stats.

This month I splurged on some clothes. Partly because of a wedding I wasn't prepared for. Partly because that Patagonia dress was on sale. I knew it was ok though because I was coming predictably way under budget. Some might say I should have just put that extra money into savings considering I have a set financial goal that hasn't been met yet. I guess I'm more of the opinion that if there's no consumer debt, you've met your savings goal of the month to stay on the projected game plan, and the cash is still there...It's your call how you want to handle the extra cash.

So basically at the end of the month, I spent my last $5 on an amazing mocha at Grey House! Then, I went back to the impromptu garage sale that's becoming an annual event for me, Annie, and Sarah. We seriously pulled together an enormous garage sale in 2 days. We've got to be the most relaxed garage salers ever. Clothes were 50 cents and most everything else was $1. When we were too hot and tired to sell anymore, we posted a free sale on Craig's List. The best part might have been when some folks drove up and took everything that was left. Making money was good too of course. I ended up with close to $65!

Here's my weekly money check up hosted by MyPrettyPennies

Weekly Money Check Up
1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a window air conditioning unit. I can't sleep in this heat another night!
2. Today I am thankful the yard sale that lead to me cleaning and re-organizing my closet!
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was get a new hutch, dining table, and 6 chairs! Thanks to a professor who was upgrading. My next nest is one step closer to furnished.
4. I will consider this week a success if I maintain some semblance of sanity.
5. I dream about having my own apartment a lot lately. I can hardly wait to get my own place and decorate it just the way I want!