Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Accident Prone

I think at this point we can all go ahead and admit that, yup, I am accident prone.

Not only am I a dropper, but I ruin TVs by touching them, regularly walk into walls and almost cut off my fingers while making dinner more often than I care to share.

This morning I was in an Actual Accident -- you know, the car kind.

I was making a simple u-turn after driving right by the turn for my dentist's office (on my way to a filling ... which I have evaded, for now). I saw the woman sitting there, waiting to pull across the road - and she saw me. But she thought I was going straight instead of u-turning, and by the time I had looked the other way to make sure no other cars were coming and pulled into the road, there she was, hitting me.

Fabulous.

The car doesn't have a lot of damage and I think her car wasn't hurt at all (I really couldn't see -- never did make it across the busy road to talk to her). After the police came and did their thing, we both drove away.

But I think it's safe to say that getting in a car accident on the way to the dentist is just as bad as going to the dentist itself, don't you?

The things that happen to me for your reading pleasure.

Fortunately we have very complete insurance on that car and won't have to pay more than our $300 deductible. But still -- ugh! -- $300!?! The dentist definitely would've been cheaper, that's for sure.

Oh, and remember our TV and the one we ordered to replace it? Yeah, got that home from Walmart only for Luke to discover that the entire screen was shattered. So back it went, and now we are waiting for the next one to arrive. Bonus: no football watching this weekend! (Luke does NOT consider this a bonus, for the record).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Homebody

I do not, in general, like vacations.

There are some vacations that I love. These are vacations where we have scheduled activities and lots of things to do. ... or those that are short.

The vacations that I hate should really be called "vacations." These are trips of any length over five days (including travel time), usually including visiting family and just hanging out doing nothing. These are not relaxing. They are extremely stressful. What will we do today? When will Dave get to nap? Will he nap at all? Will we all be miserable if he doesn't? Will we all just sit around and eat food and get fat? (<----- yes). Will I end up with some sort of cold or flu bug (<----- often).

Ugh.

But visiting family must be done. And so we are on "vacation."

I like being home. And I love structure. It makes me feel calm and organized. Without it I feel scattered and antsy and gross. I do not love it.

Cruises are perfect for me. At noon we get on the boat. There is "free" time and then there are scheduled meals and then there are scheduled trips off the boat. Everyone wins! Also perfect: Malibu Club in Canada, which we visited this summer. That was a full week of half the day spent doing a planned activity of either chapel or a meal or a family orientated contest and the other half of the day cycling through other activity options and/or napping. I always support napping.

Tomorrow we head home from Ohio. By the time we get back to Georgia we'll have had 11 DAYS of "vacation." Don't get me wrong, seeing family is great -- but there is a limit to how much of this lollygagging around I can take. Next time I vote we all go on a cruise. (<---- I, sadly, do not get a vote).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hello From Ohio

Greetings from a land of cold. And snow. And Dave's new snow boots.

Yeah, we bought him snow boots ... because I just couldn't abide the thought of my poor baby's cold feet playing in the snow. And now we own boots.

We are staying this time around at Luke's sister's house about 40 minutes from his parents' house. Yeah, this means a daily uncool commute ... but it ALSO means WARMTH for at least 12 hours a day. (His parents' house is reeeeeally cold in the bedrooms). And less chance of me getting migraines (there's a lot of dust/mold there).

It ALSO means driving by Starbucks every DAY.

Yessssssss. I don't even CARE about how much that's going to cost me.

Family gathering in Ohio tend to revolve around one single thing: eating. It's not that I don't love to eat ... it's that doing so at that level for a week straight makes me feel really, really, REALLY fat.

And so this time around I've brought my winter running clothes -- and I intend to use them. And did yesterday.

As it turns out I run faster when I'm cold -- about a full 40 seconds a minute faster! Excellent.

Did 6.15 miles yesterday at a 9:20 average. Hoping to increase it to 7.5 today.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh, Of Course

We're getting ready to leave this afternoon for our Christmas trip to Luke's home -- a two day journey through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and a portion of Ohio. With a toddler. And Elmo.

And of course this toddler is sick -- well, I think he is anyway. The doctor did not seem to agree.

Because I'm cheap we take full advantage of our practically free healthcare and use the on-post doctors, instead of paying to see someone elsewhere. No way am I doing that.

But the trade-off is that we see on-post doctors (I said that already but this time I mean "they are bad.") And so when I took my kid in Wednesday afternoon (in the middle of Epic Baking Day, pictures of which I will someday post) because his ear had drained and was gross, the doctor told me "he's fine." And when I pointed out a pussy eye, he said "allergies," and then prescribed a drop antibiotic for the ear (even though he's fine? what the ...) and an allergy medication.

I'm 99 percent sure neither are working.

And since his ear continues to drain once or a twice a day (which is groooooosssss) and his eye continues to be nasty, I'm pretty sure he is in fact sick and not allergic to God only knows what.

And this is what we're taking to the arctic Ohio with us. Aces.

(Oh yeah, I don't like Ohio in the winter because it's cold. Have I mentioned that recently?)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Kentucky Home

Yes, you read that right -- Kentucky. And, as suspected, Fort Campbell.

I'm in the business of finding good things about this, so if you have something to add please let me know. So far the only thing I know about it has made my cheap frugal little heart sad: their gym with available childcare not only charges for the childcare, but also requires a membership AND charges extra for showers and lockers ($5 eachish a month).

I've never even heard of such rubbish at a normal gym, much less a military sponsored one. Plus it doesn't look like they have any pools. It's really hard to train for triathlons without swimming.

Since the gym is something I use at least several times a week, this little bit of information makes me s-a-d. So if you have something positive to add to the mix, please add it.

And if anyone can give me any advice about living on or off post (with this gym nonesense I'm leaning towards "off" ... although I DO like using hourly care .... ), do tell.

I'm sure Kentucky is lovely and we'll get along famously (once I find a gym). But I'm just going to go ahead and say it:

Sometimes I forget Kentucky exists. It pretty much ranks right up there with places like "Nebraska," "New Hampshire," and "Wyoming." When was the last time you gave any thought to Nebraska? Exactly.

Bonus is that before we move we will be able to easily drive up there and scout out places to live (unlike when we moved here from Washington). Meanwhile we're still going to be here in Georgia for at least six more months, until Luke finishes Ranger School (and we know how long THAT can take).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fate Cometh

It has taken every ounce of my self control not to spend my entire weekend impatiently waiting for this afternoon. We are about to find out where will next move -- and the suspense has the potential to eat me alive.

Truly, we could've found out Friday. But by the time the hubby realized that the email with the link to his orders was in his inbox, and that said link wasn't working and he would have to call branch to find out what they said -- it was after business hours.

Ahhhhhhhh! It was like the Army was taunting me "I know where you're going -- but you can't! Hahahahah!!!"

Evil, evil Army.

But no worries, we're going to hopefully find out today. And since I wouldn't want to leave you out of the fun of suspense ...

Here are the possibilities (we think). They are in somewhat order of how we ranked them, although I'm kinda regretting it now since I made the mistake of googling Campbell and their gym looks awful and pool-less (not to mention pricey to use!):


1. Fort Carson (yesssss this is really the only one I truly want to go to)
2. Fort Campbell
3. Fort Knox
4. Fort Bragg
5. Fort Bliss

And then in who knows what order:

Fort Irwin
Fort Polk
Fort Drum
A God-Forsaken Base in Alaska

Luke seems to think we'll get Campbell. I'm pulling for Carson but with the way life seems to go for me, we'll probably get Alaska. God knows that what I'll blog from there will be way funnier than anything I could come up with somewhere pleasant like Colorado.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Priceless?

New, slightly larger TV on sale at Wal-Mart: $400

Humidifier: $30

Knowing that the odds of me frying our new TV are now lower: priceless


It's like crazy crap happens to me just so that I have something to write here. Wait until I tell you about the hairdresser I went to on Saturday who thought I was a lesbian. I know.

Meanwhile, the new TV doesn't get here until late this week. Until then I'm rocking some Hulu.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Frugal Fail: The Worst Super Power Ever

I always thought that if I was going to get a super power, it should be the ability to fly. A logical choice considering I'm always looking for ways to do things faster. Flying would cut out a lot of commuting time, ya know?

What I did NOT want was the ability to shock things into submission. But this is what I'm stuck with.

Sub super power: an uncanny ability to break stuff.

Here in dumb not-humid-as-advertised Georgia, where the inside of our house is so dry that I'm single handedly supporting the moisturizer industry, I have gained the ability to shock everything and anything with a bazillion volts of static electricity. The other night I touched a light switch and actually saw what I created leave my finger like a bolt of lightening. It was kinda cool -- and kinda painful.

All I wanted to do in the whole wide world yesterday afternoon was ease the pain of folding that truly giant pile of laundry by watching some re-runs of some show on TNT. Is that too much to ask? So I turned the TV on as I sullied towards the couch.

But I couldn't find the remote (it's still MIA ... Dave, where did you put it?!) and so instead of going straight to the hunt, I opted to turn the volume down manually and THEN look for it.

It went like this.

1. I walk to TV
2. I put out my finger to turn down the volume
3. I touch the volume button
4. A shockingly (hahahahah -- sorry) strong charge of static electricity leaves my finger and goes into the TV.
5. My neck and finger hurt.
6. The TV turns off, then back on again ... sorta.

For the next 10 minutes I watched the TV turn itself on, warm-up, short out and do the process over again. A cycle that continues even now.

In short, I broke our 38 inch flat screen, wall mounted, $700 TV by touching it. Apparently surge protectors only work if the electrical charge goes into the surge protector first -- not if it goes into the TV from another spot.

Our renters insurance excludes damage done by electrical currents -- even if that current comes from your own body. Oh, and the warranty on the thing expired a year ago.

Who knew you could even break a TV by touching it?! Why does crap like this always happen to me?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Answer to This is "More Cowbell"

Hi, I'm Amy and I am addicted to downloading obnoxious Christmas music. I'm pretty sure some of it includes the liberal use of cowbell.

I am now the proud owner of the Glee Christmas album, the Target Christmas sampler (a collective of music from their commercials. Now every time I hear the songs I want to shop at Target. Like I don't already have a problem with that or something), the iTunes Christmas sampler, the Straight No Chaser Christmas album, a variety of world Christmas music and last but not least, the "Singing Christmas Tree" by VeggieTales.

I know.

To make matters worse I also feel compelled to play said music every moment possible. We have very strict rules here allowing Christmas music only between the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, and so I feel like I have to take advantage of every single Holiday Spirit second that I can.

(Never mind that I made up the rules).

Is the look in my husband's eye that of pending Christmas music induced insanity? I refuse to believe it. Is the fact that I have that annoying "Last Christmas I gave you my heart ..." song from Glee stuck in my head so much so that I can't sleep a problem? I won't say that it's so.

It's Christmas spirit central over here, folks. And by the time you get a taste of the delicious cookies I'm working on, you won't care that you're listening to Carol of the Bells for the zillionth time. I don't.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Price of Awesomeness

I really want people to like me. I figure the best way to make them is through delicious treats.

I realized Christmas of 2008 that the best way to accomplish this goal would be to make and distribute giant plates of Christmas cookies. I spent several days mixing, cutting, baking and decorating. The result was a giant plate of cookies -- and I mean GIANT -- for the husband's office and a plate for our small group. No one cut me off so I think the op was a success.

Last year I expanded the job to making a giant plate for the office and a pile of other small plates. To help you understand how this worked and explain why you didn't get one, I've drawn a diagram (because I am ALWAYS looking for an excuse to draw a venn diagram):
We are now in prime baking season again. Since we now live on post and we actually know some of our neighbors I decided that my awesomeness would be best advertised by giving cookie plates to all of them (not the ones I haven't met, just the ones whose names I was told but can't remember and those I do, in fact, know). I'm also planning to make a giant plate of cookies for Luke's class because those dudes have never even HEARD of my awesomeness before ... and I must advertise.

But I have discovered something: baking is way more expensive than I remember. I vividly recall how much work it is (and I'm trying to mitigate that this year by mixing and freezing the dough ahead of time .. that at least will make it less messy in the long run, I hope). But I forgot how pricey it can be.

Is the adoration of my neighbors really this important (<---- no)? I don't even LIKE most of these people that much (<----- kidding).

What I really want is the process to go like this:

Uh, sorry for the small diagram type. My awesomeness does not extend to figuring out how to make it bigger.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Motivation, Where Art Thou?

Thee? Thou? Whatever. I think "thou."

I'm trying to harness my motivation and then make it stay around. I'm very, very good at being AMPED about something for a short period of time. And then I get tired. And then I want to take a nap. And THEN I'm not motivated anymore.

Case in point: fitness. I really, really, REALLY like racing in triathlons. It is such a high. But I have a hard time remembering how much I love it when faced with a delicious looking bowl of pumpkin ice cream. For real.

And there IS a direct correlation between that bowl and the race. Because if I eat it then my next workout will be spent working that off, instead of chipping away at the back log of poor eating choices I'm carrying around from the past, oh, well ... 27 years. (I figure I've been making poor choices since day one).

My other problem: I typically have enough motivation to actually get me to the gym, but not enough for me to make what I do there mean anything. For example, yes, I'm swimming ... but slooooowly. And then I get out early and sit in the hot tub. This way I say "I spent an hour at the gym today" and you all think I'm really super awesome. But I know that what I actually did there was check out the sauna. (<---- I've never actually done that. Mostly because a small room of sweaty women creeps me out. I mean, gross.)

If I'm living in such a way that all of my time is of value and should be used the best way I know how, I need to focus! And stay motivated to do the right things (because it's way easy to be motivated to make that cookie dough disappear. Now THAT'S something I can get behind).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Better to Give ....

Over the last six months Luke and I have been making a conscious decision to give more. This is a really hard one for me -- I prefer to hoard stuff, in case you haven't noticed. Sign me up for anything free, discounted or penny-pinching.

Giving is hard. It means a conscious decision to NOT put that money in your bank account, but instead send it elsewhere.

Now, the Bible says that when you give the Good Lord will reward you by giving it back to you over and over again. Maybe it won't be in the same form, but it WILL come back.

And wow is that counterintuitive. And hard. Very, very hard.

But we have been trying nonetheless. And I am happy to report that God is faithful and that, as cliche as it is, I cannot out-give God. The more checks I send out, the bigger that number in the savings account seems to get. How is that even possible?

I'm not saying this to say "look at me and my awesome generous self." I'm saying this because I think it's a good reminder ... if you give it WILL be returned to you. And yes, it is scary hard to do. But it is so worth it. Investing in the lives of others is a blessing on which you cannot put a value. The joy of knowing God is using you in a very practical way is something that cannot be replicated. And no worries about giving away money, He'll still make sure you have enough.

I wish I had made the decision to do this sooner in life.

(But I still cringe every time I write a check).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

... It STILL Feels Like There Isn't Enough Time

There aren't enough hours in the day.

I work really hard to have correct priorities. I only have the TV on while I'm doing mindless tasks for which I am being paid (no, really). And maybe I actually watch a total of a half hour a day before I go to bed during the week and maybe a little more on the weekends, though not much.

I tend to burn some time doing mindless things on the internet that I could probably axe if I wanted -- maybe as much as an hour a day.

All of that to say that I don't feel like I waste time. I cook for my family in the most productive, least time consuming way I know. I have a cleaning schedule so that I don't ever spend too much time doing it, and I try to knock it out while on my conference call each day (for which I am being paid ... two birds, one stone). I try to do any shopping I can online so that I don't have to haul 40 minutes roundtrip (at least) to the stores. I get enough sleep.

Truly, my work time could be more productive. I get easily distracted. ... but I have this HUGE LIST of things that I need to do running through my mind. Things like updating my work website, writing, stories I want to chase, etc.

I have my priorities -- family, work, exercise and the occasional Bible study/social time. I try to spend an hour with Dave each day out doing something active. When it's sunny/warmish we go to the park down the street. When it isn't we go to the pool, also down the street. I try to exercise for at least an hour a day, outside when it is nice and at the gym when it is crappy (like yesterday .. WHOA was that a rainstorm!). We also have a very firm rule that we get 8 hours of sleep a night. We are in bed at 9:30 p.m. and up by 5:30 a.m. This keeps us healthy and productive the rest of the time.

But despite all of these measures, I STILL feel like I am running on empty and there is NOT enough time for me to get done everything I need to do. And with our trip to Ohio in just 3.5 weeks, I think my brain might explode.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Can't Even Tell You

The truth is this: I have no idea how much I've spent on Christmas presents. None.

Or, worse, the problem isn't how much I've spent on Christmas gifts -- the problem is how much I've spent on NON-Christmas gifts at Christmas sales. Really.

It's the same every single year, so I don't know why this surprises me. Those sneaky, tricky sales lure me! THEY LURE ME! And I can't say "no." $5 pajama pants at Old Navy? Heck yes! $13 headphones from Amazon.com that are 78 percent off -- duh?! A copy of "Planet Earth" (that, to my credit, I plan to resell for about what I paid after I watch it) ... of course.

Fortunately when my head comes back to planet earth (and brings my wallet with it) I can return some of this stuff to Old Navy. And as for the things from Bath and Body Works -- I have actually been putting off buying them so why not now? And we NEEDED that little Flip video camera!

(someone make me stop!)

Meanwhile, I do have ACTUAL Christmas shopping to finish. Was able to score a $20 credit to Shutterfly and when that kicks in I'll be ordering some of the christmas gifts for family. A stop at Hobby Lobby should square me away for the other half of that. (and no worries about spending too much there ... there's so much that it just overwhelms me and I leave).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Heart Photo Projects

Shutterfly.com is my favorite online photo store for one simple reason -- they have such great deals! I've ordered more free or nearly free custom cards, books and (recently) gift tags from that site it's a little crazy.

Seriously, check them out.

Meanwhile, here is the uber-cute card I created of Dave for thank you notes this year.

Black Line 5x7 folded card
Unique party invitations and greeting cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

That Cliche "I'm Thankful" Post

I know you've been waiting for it -- the "things I'm thankful for" post that I do every. single. year.

Well, stop worrying. I was just out of town for a few days enjoying delicious food in South Carolina. And now I'm back! Just for you.

Therefore:

I am most grateful for Luke. ... a year apart will teach you that. And it's not because being a single mom is so dang hard. It isn't easy, but I can do it. Heck, I've done it. And taking care of a baby alone is nothing compared to the energy required to do it with a toddler.

I am thankful for him because no matter how hard things are or how much much I wish they'd just go back to being like they were Before, he is still my best friend ... and I love him.

I am also thankful for:

Dave.
New friends.
Sunshine.
My job(s).
Exercise.
The joy of eating.
Old friends.
My bed.
My espresso machine (for reals).
God.
The internet.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Proof That Dave can Share



This is a picture of play day, part II, where Dave shared. That is, instead of throwing a huge fit and shaking in what can only be described as baby-rage every time this little girl touched his toys, he actually played nice.

And this picture pretty much captures the only time that happened.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We here at Bumble Thrift are gearing up for Black Friday, or "An Excuse to Spend A Lot of Money" day.

The problem, however, is that I am not sure the preparation is actually for anything. We are going to South Carolina for Thanksgiving Day (instead of Florida, which was our original plan) and all worthy shopping is a solid 1/2 hour to 45 minutes away ... except Walmart (<--- ugh.) That's because we aren't just going to South Carolina, we're going to Little Tiny Town of South Carolina.

The truth of the matter is that this problem might just save me from myself. What do I need from this shopping day, anyway? Pretty much nothing. We bought Luke a Kindle recently and agreed that it would be his preemptive major Christmas gift, and he is going to buy me an ipod today probably (to replace the one I tragically lost ) so that I can play Christmas music in my house on a speaker BEFORE Christmas. In short, no major purchases are upcoming.

So really, Black Friday is just for the fun of it.

.... maybe sleeping a little extra and NOT spending lots of money will be just as fun. Interesting thought.

But I do like the FEELING of Black Friday. For your reading pleasure I went back through the blogging archives over at my old blog, and dug this up from Nov. 25, 2005.

I have divided and conquered.

You may call me "Maximus."

The following events are all true. Nary a lie or embellishment is hidden within the narrative.

Alarm clock set for 4:30 a.m., she lay in a dreamless sleep, preparing herself for the road ahead. Having determined that the holiday season is not of her liking, our Brave Conqueror concluded Thanksgiving Evening that the best way to deal with the evils of Christmas Shopping was to be rid of it in one fell swoop.

The buzzing of the clock on the table stirred her ... she knew it was time. Springing from her bed, rushing through her morning rituals, she soon found herself at the door of the Great and Mighty Walmart. A parking lot full of pushy people, all as eager to conqueror as she, lay before her.

Did our Warrior hesitate? Not a bit! Armed with shopping cart and mp3 player [let's face it, every good story has a soundtrack] she made her way into the throng of people who pushed and prodded to get to the 1/2 off DVD players and TV sets.

Did this stop her? No! In less than 45 minutes, this wonder of a woman had acquired all the items on her list, made her way through the check out lines, and stood on the other side.

There she was, victorious, receipt in hand ... the glory was too much, the feelings too powerful. She threw up her hands to sky and, in salutation of victory, shouted ...

"DAH-DAH! I have won! I rule!"

(At which time a very presumptuous, tired looking Gentleman took to laughing, presumably at Our Great Warrior. The gall).

The end.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Play Date Day

Moving is tough business for so many reasons. You leave behind things and, more importantly, relationships in which you took comfort and now you are faced with somehow finding replacements.

I hate replacement shopping.

Because that is exactly what it feels like, shopping. You have to "shop" for a church (we've been spared from that this time as we've decided to just attend on the post chapel). You have to "shop" for friends (admit it, it's true ... and a lot like dating. I hate dating). You have to "shop" for friends for your kids.

It sucks.

Fortunately there's been a bit of a light in the tunnel for me this past week. At our Wednesday night Bible study last week I met someone else named Amy (what IS it with me and people that share my name?) who possesses a variety of traits that are really important to me. ... like a love of Diet Coke and the abundant use of sarcasm. Bonus: she is also in need of friends. That's helpful.

Today is particularly exciting because she is bringing her little girl over for a play date. I do believe this is our first official play date ever. A big moment in our household!

Meanwhile, over in frugal land, we have the additional challenge of figuring out what to make for dinner. The husband promised deer meat (even though I think it sounds nasty) but then that didn't work out ... so the menu is now blank with the exception of the squash that was going to be served as a side and the pie I'm making him later. Maybe side squash and pie ARE enough ... hmmmm. ...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dear Cable Company: I Hate You

Here in military housing land we have one option and one option alone for cable/internet/tv service: Windjammer Cable.

And it sucks. The internet connection frequently drops or is really slow and the digital tv feed is garbled about half the time. I have no complaints about the phone service (yet), other than when the internet collapses, so does the phone.

Like right now.

I run a business out of my home, a business in which I talk on the phone, receive phone calls and use the internet. I don't have extra time on my hands to mess with a service for which I pay.

What's particularly annoying about this is that we don't have a choice. This is the only service provider available on post. Take it or leave it is the message.

We'll see how long this particular outage lasts. I'll be asking for a credit to our account regardless. HOW am I supposed to be productive with this going on (or, um, I was right in the middle of stalking someone on Facebook when it died! Uncool)?!

Here's to getting something done regardless. Meh.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Groceries and Moving = No Good

I spend a lot of time and money finding good deals on foods that I use a lot so that I can have a big ol' pile of them in my cupboard and never have to pay full price. I'd say about $10 of my grocery budget goes to this each week under normal circumstances. That way I'm constantly restocking what I have even as I use it.

Example: one week I buy four jars of our favorite spaghetti sauce but make dishes that use two cans of cream of chicken soup, spaghetti and a pie crust, all of which I purchased in weeks past. I'm adding to our stockpile even as I'm using from it. What I add depends on coupons and sales. What I use depends on my whims (who are we kidding?).

The great trouble with moving is that you stop stocking the shelves and start using everything you own. Your grocery budget enjoys this greatly since it's really getting only half used up. Your creativity doesn't love this because you have to figure out what to do with four jars of spaghetti sauce in one week. And no one is happy when you finally get to where you are going and have to start stock piling again from scratch while actively buying what you are going to use since you have pretty much nothing except a lot of flour in the pantry.

And thus my shopping bills have not been pretty (unless you think giant, giant numbers are pretty).

A few weeks ago I tried buying ingredients for two weeks worth of meals. I spent $120 after coupons on food alone -- just about what I had wanted. It would've been no problem at all had I not gone back the next week and (even though I had supposedly already bought most of what I needed) spent another $60. Yikes. I meant to only spend $20. (Yikes again).

I think things are on the mend, however. Had a huge stack of coupons -- about $14 worth -- yesterday and after using them managed to spend $80, right on the budget for my two weeks of ingredients this time around (since next week is so short). I managed to buy a lot of things I'll use later that were also on sale + coupon. And I'll do a trip Monday for a small amount of things, most importantly car snacks for Dave (um... and me). And that should be that.

I'll declare this a tentative frugal win.

In other news, black Friday? Yeah I'm going to missing that this year because I'll be in a podunk town in South Carolina. The nearest decent shopping (that is not Walmart ... if you do count Walmart) appears to be 45 minutes away. We'll see if I can trick anyone into doing that with me. Really, I just want to go to Old Navy. I love black Friday at Old Navy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Craftiness Abounds

I have pictures coming, um, later of my extreme craftiness over the last few days. Before pictures only work, however, if you take .. therefore of the guest room they are all "after" pictures. Oh well.

For now let's just say it turned out wonderfully, very cheery and not at all scullery maid quarters like. (Since that's what we were working with before). And bonus -- the guest liked it too (or so she claimed).

The little Extremely Ugly table for the bathroom is in process, but it's going to take some serious sort of something to get that tile glue off of there. Seriously folks, do the world a favor and dont glue bathroom tile to the top of a table in a very ugly manner. And don't then spray paint it brown.

Meanwhile I am attempting to order Christmas cards, and bemoaning the fact that it does not appear that I will be able to get them all on the free like I did last year. Major bummer.

Busy day ahead here with grocery shopping, working (a little), house keeping, laundry, a doctor's appointment for Dave (including shots -- boo), making this delicious sounding food for dinner (using squash that I purchased, roasted and froze two weeks ago -- go me!) and attempting at some point to go to the gym. ... that part may not happen.

Maybe a commissary spending report later? It's embarrassing at this point so I'd rather not talk about it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh Target, How you Lure Me

It's one of the most inconvenient yet convenient things about having a child -- nap time.

It gives you a (well deserved) break, yet it keeps you from doing anything productive out of the house for as long as the kiddo chooses to sleep.

This is only really a problem on days that I have an epic errands list. ... and not a particularly well organized one at that. I'm attempting to make our guest room look half way decent before our first guest uses it Saturday. Right now it looks EXACTLY like what I always pictured that the post-Dad's death, pre-"miracle" room from "The Little Princess" looked like. In other words, um, sparse.

But decorating is not my strong point. That's why we painted and painted (... and painted) this house. It kept me from having to make any real brain effort at decorating. Since I have no intention of painting that whole attic room that will not get a lot of use, decorating is a must.

Thus the errands. Compounded by the fact that I'm still not particularly familiar with this town, I knew it was going to take me awhile. Not having a real solid list, of course, ensured that it would also, um, cost a lot. Like, I'm embarrassed to tell you what I dropped at Target yesterday.

We ended up standing in Hobby Lobby for no less than 20 minutes while Dave fussed and the lady at the fabric table cut s-l-o-w-l-y and the lady for whom she was cutting was buying an EPIC amount of (ugly, ahem) fabric. All of this only to realize just before she finished that the fabric I had in hand for curtains would not be nearly enough for what I wanted. There went that idea and a waste of about 40 minutes total (between the standing and the choosing). Dave was not impressed.

Then off to Target, followed by grabbing dinner at Chick-Fil-A (a.mazing. mmm one of my fav things about living here, I think), followed by Lowes.

Dave was still less than impressed by this entire ordeal. And all of this took no less than 3.5 hours ... and seemed much, MUCH longer.

The result is, however, something that I think will turn out well. I promise pictures when it's finished ... which HAS to be by tomorrow. So: pictures soon!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Letter to my Veteran

Baby,

I don't think it's a stretch to say that last year was the hardest of my life. Your absence, all the memorials, all the tears, all the heartache, taking care of our son, supporting and being supported by my friends and fellow Army spouses, listening to the exhaustion in your voice after each blackout was lifted and all the emotions that filled each one of those moments -- my heart breaks again and again thinking about it.

I think it's safe to say that this year has been the second hardest. Does reintegration EVER end!? At what point in time will we go back to being like we were before? I want the innocence back. I want returned the knowledge that each and every one of my friends is safe at home with her husband.

But I already know the answer to that question, and it's "never." That's what they mean by the "new normal," right? That you can't go back so you have to get used to what you have now.

This isn't easy for you, either. I see the pain and exhaustion caused by the memories -- it's the same that I feel. And yet you still get up every day and continue the work of protecting our country.

"Our country" -- what does that even mean? Such a nebulous word. I know that when you say that you picture me, Dave, your family and sometimes even those jerks that protest at veteran's funerals ... or at least their right to do so.

You volunteer to go first down the road that is dangerous and far away from your family so that others can stay home with theirs. You protect our freedoms with your willingness to sacrifice. You join others who do the same -- who have been to hell and back or who have given their lives for such a purpose.

I am unspeakably proud of you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is Me, Blogging

Once again it's been awhile since I've had a chance to write here. Like always, it's a matter of priorities, right? And I have been a very busy little bee. Just an example:

-- Flew to D.C. for a meeting and spent almost a week working that, running the Army 10-Miler and covering the AUSA family forums. It was fun. And then I was really tired.
-- Started blogging for SpouseBUZZ.com
-- Working working working ... working
-- Keeping my house up. It's that much bigger and it takes THAT much more time to clean. I am loving having a tidy, neat and clutter free place though ... so it's worth it I think.
-- Working on our guest room (slowly but surely)
-- Finished (almost) a little sewing project for a friend
-- Exercising (always!!)
-- Playing with Dave
-- Family adventure time ... a once a week activity that involves us going somewhere we've never been or doing something else fun as a family. We've done downtown Columbus, visited a historic village/tourist trap and played several games of tennis thus far.

I swear there's more than this, too.

I have started dedicating an hour or so each morning to Amy-time. This is dependent on me finishing my evening work in, well, the evening. But if that happens I get to sit and cruise blogs, do some online shopping/christmas shopping/gift shopping, collect coupons and do other things that I enjoy but often fall low on the to-do totem pole.

My point: I'm going to add blogging to that time slot. And you should be seeing me here more often.

So, uh, don't give up on me yet.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Settled In -- Bleeding Stopped

We've settled into our new place almost completely -- and the money bleed-out has ended. I think finally getting our stuff Monday made me realize that, nope, I don't have to buy everything again. I could feel the contentment hitting. It was a good feeling.

We spent all of Tuesday and most of Wednesday unpacking. I'm not 100 percent on this -- but I think all of the boxes are out of the house. THAT is a marvelous feeling. We also were able to buy new bedroom furniture (something we've wanted to do for a long time) for a decent price from a local furniture store. It is also assembled and in place. Yay.

One of the downsides of moving -- at least military moves -- is that your stuff gets lost or broken. Military movers are notorious for this. While we are only missing a lamp (the shade for which did make it here and, yup, is broken), someone out there is missing a softball bat and a giant steel rod. How do I know that? Because they are sitting in our attic space.

At some point in the near future we'll submit a little form with all the broken and hurt things (lamp shade, all six of chairs dented and scratched, two IKEA dressers destroyed) and hopefully get some sort of compensation out of it. We'll have to replace some of those things (like the guest room bed -- they lost all of the parts, including the feet) but most of the stuff is "eh," and I wasn't that into it to start with -- it won't be missed. Hopefully this will mean a nice check for the savings account.

In other news -- if I'm not that upset about this stuff being broken or destroyed, why did I own it to start with?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sticker Shock

Remember back when I was all "I shall throw out everything I've ever owned because, alas, I have too much crap?"

Yeah, that was a good feeling compared to this feeling.

Because this is the feeling of spending tons of money, with no end to the splurge in sight.

It's not that we are buying things that I do not want ... it's just that I can feel my penny-pinching soul melting into the ground as I buy towels at Walmart instead of shopping around even a little bit.

This is the problem with things you need pronto. I'll hit up Marshalls and Home Goods to see if they have a cute little table for the entry way because life will continue on quite nicely without one for a bit. But that new second bathroom MUST be furnished.

Another killer: baby gates. If we want to paint without worrying about the child falling head first down a huge flight of stairs, we need a baby gate ... and I mean right this second. No time to look in a few thrift stores so that I can spend $15 on two instead of $80. That's the kind of savings that's worth the time ... but I don't have the time right now.

Then there are the really unavoidable things. In Washington we were able to keep our car insurance out of Ohio, where Luke's "home of record" is. Georgia is apparently populated by strict policemen who insist you have Georgia based insurance if you are a resident ... and so we had to switch our policy to this state at an increase of $150 over six months.

Uncool, Georgia. Uncool.

The good news in the midst of all this spending is that it means we do have a place to live -- a very nice place -- and that our stuff is coming Monday. (which is far away but ... I'm going to be positive about this).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lies America Tells You

There are lies, friend, embedded with the fabric of America. I will now share them with you.

During our cross-country adventure we wound our way through every National Park and forest that lives within a 40 or so mile distance from the route we wanted to take. We weren't really going out of our way to see them ... but if they were there we were taking a slight side route. It only makes sense, really. We were also stopping to see things that are not federally mandated parks but are important nonetheless. Like the "Corn Palace" (a palace, billboards tell you, made of corn) and "Wall Drug," (a big fat tourist trap that does, in fact, sell delicious donuts in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota).

It is during these adventures that I have discovered the Lies. Let me tell you about them.

1. Saw Tooth Mountains

Lies! I have no picture to demonstrate this but I can safely say that there are no saw teeth there - not a-one! - and they dont even resemble teeth. They are a smidge pointy. That is all.

2. Black Hills

Deceit! Not black! I know, this shocked me too. I thought surely at least the dirt would be black. But it wasn't. It was regular dirt color (brown) and the trees were average (green).

3. Craters of the Moon National Monument

False! Not formed from meteorites or anything even remotely space like! They are actually pointy rocks formed by lava. Way cool, but still -- false advertising, folks.



4. Yellowstone

Trickery! I drove all around that giant place and I did not see a single yellowstone. But I did see this pretty thing above. How cool is that?


5. Corn Palace

Deception! Palace made of corn, my foot. This place is just a big building with some corn husks stuck to it. Seriously, what a drag.


6. Badlands

I'll give this a "mostly false" because I can see how you would think they are, in fact, bad. ... if you had to travel through them with your cows. But we were driving and I think cows are smelly, so I thought they were "good."



.. and now you know.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Dumbest Thing Ever? ... Could Be.

Yesterday marked a real milestone in my life -- I think I can officially rule the moment I watched my cell phone fly off the back of my car onto I-84 and under an oncoming semi-truck as one of the stupidest moments ever.

Or maybe just the moment I finally did something stupid that had very real consequences that affected no one, really, but myself.

I believe my exact quote was "Oh, no." (<---- but you have to imagine it being said like the character of "Pheobee" in "Friends" for it to have real impact.)

And if you think THAT wasn't quite stupid enough, you should know this: it wasn't the first time. I did the same exact thing the day before, only that time the phone stayed put ALL the way from the yogurt place on Steilacoom Blvd to my friend's house in Dupont (about a 20 minute drive ... and I was going about 45 mph top speed).

You'd think getting out of my car and finding my phone sitting on the trunk would've taught me to never put it there ever again. But it didn't. And so yesterday when I got out of the car at a rest stop to quickly help Dave before jumping back on the road (Luke was trailing in our second vehicle) and set my phone on the trunk while I took care of business I distinctly thought "don't forget you put that there."

... then I helped Dave, got back in the car and got back on the highway.

... and looked up just in time to see it go FLYING off the back, a black spot in my rear view mirror, hurling through the air, landing on the ground and bouncing SUPER high (that rubber case did its job!), landing back on the ground, skipping a foot or two and .... going underneath a semi where I'm assuming it met its final demise.

There's a lot of thoughts that go through your head in that split second. "Oh no," "well crap" and "I could go back and ... um ... yeah that's not going to work. So that's gone now" are among them. Because that was my only connection to Luke in the other car I pulled over on the shoulder to wait for him to pass, trusting he'd see the emergency flashers and join me shortly.

He did. And like a champ he offered to go back and look for it. I had visions of that ending with HIM squished under a semi so I said "um thanks Babe but... no." And we went on our way with a plan of where to meet up next.

The story ends just fine -- many of my contacts and my entire calender are synced with google, so I can get them back just dandy. I got a new blackberry (almost got a droid but decided to stick with what I know until the iPhone is an option). And all is right with the world.

But let this be a lesson to you: don't put your phone on your trunk! For reals.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Packing packing packing

Today is packing day. Fortunately for me, I have very, very little to do with the process. As in, nothing.

My job is to sit here and look pretty. I'm obviously very good at it.

I started out this packing experience by circulating the apartment and writing extra things on the boxes. For example, when the box in Dave's room was labeled "bedding" but 99 percent of the bedding was still IN the room and NOT in the box, I went ahead and put a note on there about what was actually in it.

I've since given up on this and tucked myself onto the couch. There are five packers in here and it is not a big place. I was just getting in the way. Plus during that time of walking hither and thither and writing things, I noticed that they were doing a pretty stellar job and the labels were accurate-ish, so I'm just going to leave them alone.

Plus it's really cold in here (my blankie is in a box somewhere) and this laptop is keeping me warm.

Oh and p.s. I'm bumming a neighbor's internet to bring you this post.

My blood pressure is significantly lower at the moment thanks to what appears to be the competence of these packers. I was concerned that they wouldn't pack my food or anything liquid (for example, my giant stock pile of shampoo and lotion that I got mostly for free and don't want to part with) and that I would have tote it across the country myself.

But ahaha! They said they'd pack it no problemo!

In fact, the only thing they said they wouldn't pack is bleach. And since I already got rid of my cleaning supplies (they were mostly empty and I LOVE shopping for cleaning supplies), there's no problem there.

In other, unrelated news, if you want to see something really REALLY melt-your-heart adorable, check out this picture of Abigail's kiddo with his face on his bear's butt. SO CUTE.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Heart Attack

In a recent, epic frugal fail I caved and impulse bought a portable DVD player from a store, not on discount.

It was an urgent matter. I hadn't planned ahead enough to buy one online on the cheap and we were getting on a bus for a long trip to Canada in t-minus three days. There was no way I was going that far with Dave without Elmo and his entertaining friends to keep us all company. No way at all.

About $200 later we had a nice DVD player from Best Buy, plus the warranty Luke insisted on getting. I'm not big on the warranties because I feel like they are a big waste of money. I also know, however, that we break stuff and by "we" I mean "I." Warranties can be a good idea.

Enter yesterday, when we installed the DVD player into the car and turned it on to make sure David would, indeed, by entertained by it for hours on end during our Really Long Roadtrip To Georgia.

.... and that was the moment I saw that the DVD player LCD screen is cracked. Like majorly cracked.

Now obviously I'm thinking the extra money on the warranty was a good idea. But I was also absolutely furious. How could this happen? We JUST bought the stupid thing and have only used it a hand full of times! HOW could I have allowed it to be in a place where it got a little smashed (or something)?

... so I was mad. I was mad at the DVD player. I was mad at Best Buy into tricking us into spending so much money and then having a good reason for it in the end. I was mad at Luke (because he happened to be there). I was mad at myself.

It's going to take several weeks for the thing to get fixed, so we're just going to live with it broken on the trip because Dave isn't picky about Elmo having cracks in him and there is NO WAY I am leaving this state without that thing securely in our car. No way at all.

If I was really a frugal person I would make sure and take care of our stuff. ... that way we wouldn't break our DVD player after a month or have to replace the pots we got for our wedding already because the teflon is peeling because we bang them together and Some People (ahem) use metal silverware in them.

I feel like such a moron
~~~~~~~~~~~~

In other, more excellent news, I got a call from the housing office on Benning this morning (where we are moving) and they have housing available for us -- and not just housing available, but the housing we WANT. Woohooo!!! Talk about a relief.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

See Ya Later, Brain Cells!

Like I mentioned earlier, we are hiring a cleaning lady to come and clean what I imagine to be our already fairly clean apartment before we move but after our stuff is gone. I imagine it be already clean because I refuse to admit that I have lived here for two years without once dusting all of the base boards. Even now I will deny it ... even though I know it is a lie because I just saw the dust behind the bookshelves.

This nice cleaning lady is going to charge $30 an hour for her and one other presumably nice lady to scrub. During our conversation about what happens during a "move out clean" she mentioned that the reason she brings said companion is that, while person number one spends as long as an hour cleaning the oven, person number two can clean the bathroom.

.... that's right, an hour.

You know me -- I'm not into spending more money than I have to. And even though this fact is going to edge me away from "thrifty" and waaaay towards "cheap" in your mind, I'm going to tell you anyway: we are cleaning the oven before she gets here.

And by "we," I mean "Luke."

I probably shouldn't let him be doing that since I'm pretty sure his trip to the 'Stan has left a few brain cells short as it is. Even though he's the one with his head in the oven, the fumes have permeated the entire premises (except for David's room.. which is closed ... and he is sleeping. I think) and now I, too, have had a healthy (sarcasm!) share of the fumes as well.

It's intense.

But the oven is sooooo shiny! And now little cleaning lady doesn't have to even open it. Or the scrub the stove top, for that matter. Ahhaha! Less time she will spend here! And less money I have to pay in the process.

This just in from Luke: "Uuuuugh. I'll be OK. It's only brain cells."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Can I Just Throw it Out?

"Where the mother of crap did all this stuff come from!?"

That is how I'm feeling as I'm cleaning out closets, labeling tupperware containers of food and thinking about all the laundry I'm going to do Tuesday before The Packers come and put all of my stuff in boxes.

Truth be known it's not the packing that is wigging me out, it's the unpacking I know I'm going to be doing in (hopefully) not too long. That is the day that I will shake my fist in the air and say "a pox on you packers, for putting pans with pants!"

How in the world did I end up with so much stuff anyway? Why do I need so many clothes? Can't Dave just play with pots for the rest of his life instead of this pile of toys? And for the LOVE how did I get so much PYREX!?

(I actually know the answer to the pyrex question. When Abigail had her "yard sale" out of the back of her car before she moved the first time she TRICKED me into taking a bunch of pyrex she didn't want. And now I have a lot. Like enough to bring 17 dishes to potluck ... that might be an exaggeration).

My solution to the (currently imagined) drama of unpacking what will certainly be an incredibly unorganized pile of who knows what is to just throw everything out before the movers come. This is quite obviously not the frugal answer since at some point I will think "if I only had One More Pyrex dish ..." and then go out and buy one to replace the ones I, in a fit of packing rage, threw away.

The things that are really in danger in this scenario are the things that do not belong to me at all. Example: the truly giant bronze buffalo given to Luke yesterday as a going away gift by the battalion. ... that we did not order. ... and do not want ... and is twice as big as the one everyone else ordered/got. I imagine myself unpacking it in Georgia while what I'm really looking for is the shower curtain and hurling it out the window in a fit of frustration. It won't be pretty ... not to mention it will probably seriously injure whoever it lands upon.

Another example: goad stick. What, you ask, is a goad stick? It is a stick used to poke animals until they move. When Luke came home from Afghanistan he brought a homemade one with him, complete with a bullet attached to the end. It's lovely. And I hate it.

I don't hate it because of what it is. I hate it because I imagine myself unpacking it and figuring out somewhere to put it while all I really want to do is go to sleep (I perpetually imagine myself exhausted from this whole process).

So where does frugal living meet with me not going crazy?? Is it OK to throw out EVERYTHING ... no. But how do I maintain my sanity?!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Moment Brought to You By ...

You can thank David for this blogging moment. It is 7:45 a.m. and, in some sort of miracle, he is still asleep. This is particularly a miracle since, for the last several days, he has been waking up increasingly early. Saturday it was 6:45 a.m. Sunday it was 6:30 a.m. Yesterday it was 5:45 a.m.

Maybe he's making up for lost time. Or maybe he's caught his dad's head cold. I'm going to choose to believe the former.

Regardless, it has left me with a spare moment which I will choose to use for blogging instead of, say, working. Because life is all about choices.

We have a mere eight days left before the packers show up and put of all of our stuff into boxes. I'm officially at the point of no longer caring how my house looks or how clean it is because first they will pick up my stuff for me (organize, no -- pick up, yes) and then, after they are done, a woman is coming to clean the apartment. My motivation to clean the shower is also entirely gone. Fabulous.

It didn't take me much debate to decide on paying someone to come clean instead of doing a move out clean myself. I'm going to be stressed enough next week after all is said and done. If it's a matter of priorities, frugal time and using my last moments here in Tacoma the best way I know how, cleaning does not make the list at all. I think paying someone to clean for you is a tremendous waste of money under most normal circumstances. This, however, is a far cry from "normal." At this point I don't even care how much it costs.

So in a week we'll load all of the stuff the packers refuse to pack that I Must Keep (read: those bottles of lotion I insisted on getting during that Walgreens deal that I now have not used but refuse to part with), plus clothes and toys and DVDs for David (I anticipate that during this trip I will official rule our new portable DVD player the Best Purchase Ever) into our car and be on our way. We'll be driving through Wyoming, South Dakota and a bunch of other places I've never been that Luke claims are amazing and staying in mostly normal hotels.

I say "mostly normal" because Luke really wants to stay in a po-dunk town in Wyoming in between two normal sized towns. And this place only has highly sketchy motels .. and by "highly sketchy" I mean "potentially terrifying."

For example, check out this place. What's up with the random clothes pinned on the wall? Seriously.

So far the only good part about staying there that I can see is that it's cheap. So win for that.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not Dead, Just Busy

At some point blogging becomes like cleaning the fridge: the longer you don't do it, the more you think that it can wait and that it really would be silly to bother with it now. Unfortunately, the longer you wait the harder it is to get started at all.

And so here I am, almost two months later. Greetings.

My hiatus corresponds almost directly with the day I started a new job that is taking up every single minute of my spare time. Sure, I still whittle away untold minutes on Facebook trying to see who from college has gained the most weight (as IF you don't do that too). But most of my time is spent at four pursuits, and not necessarily in this order:

1. Taking care of my family (includes quality time, cooking, cleaning, etc.)
2. Bible study/church
3. Working out (have done two triathlons since last writing and have a half marathon Saturday!)
4. Working

I rarely spend time with friends anymore. And I frequently don't even make time for one of the things I enjoy the most -- coupons!

This is actually a good thing. Being so busy challenges me to be frugal not only with my time, but even more so with my money. I don't have the extra minutes to scan the web for freebies, so that means I have to be particularly good about paying close attention while I shop.

It also means that I have to be more careful not to give in to the temptation to to take shortcuts at home -- you know, like just not turning off the lights because it's a hassle or buying prepared food because it's easier. Being busy should not be an excuse to spend more money -- it should be a call to reexamine my priorities (again!), decide where I can achieve savings and good stewardship and note where shortcuts give me the most returns (does the time saved outweigh the extra cost?).

Fall tends to be a busy season for everyone, not just me. Maybe this is a good time to do a little exercise to reexamine your priorities and your spending habits. Do they match up?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

No, I Can't Volunteer For That

My name is "Amy," and I can't say "no."

It's not a matter of desire. Every time somebody asks me to do something and "yes" comes out of my mouth, I really do want and mean to say "no."

But I can't.

So, like any person who is trying to be frugal with her time, I am working on it.

This morning when my wonderful husband informed me that at some point today I would more than likely be volunteered for a whole slew of things against my will, I said "no, no, and no thank you!"

Go me!

But when someone called yesterday and asked if I would make a desert for a gathering Wednesday evening ... I said "yes."

(Just between us I "made" it by making a trip to Costco. Mmmm. Costco pie!).

All of this just goes back to the "best use of time" bit that we've been talking about now for quite awhile. If volunteering gets you towards your goals in life, it's good. If it doesn't, it isn't. ... I must practice more "no."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Frugal Win of the Week: Vocalpoint!

I opened my mailbox yesterday to find a package of three free pampers diapers, a coupon for $3 off any package of pampers and at least four coupons for $1.50 off the same.

WIN WIN WIN!

Just the day before I had been silently lamenting my lack of Pampers coupons. The commissary is running a pampers sale, as is Target this week, that I would LOVE to have a coupon to make even better. Yes, we are cloth diaper folks, but when Dave is in care on post off and on during the week they require regular diapers. We are almost out.

Thank you, vocalpoint for making a diaper steal!! And I'll be hitting up Target for a similar deal later this week. Win! Win! Win!!

Which brings me to this: go, join Vocalpoint. And I mean right now. Go here to do it. I have received a whole hill of stuff from them, not the least of which is a full size bottle of Panteen. And their stuff always comes with high value coupons. Coupons included with another panteen sample scored FOUR BOTTLES of free shampoo, etc. at the commissary a few weeks ago. Not even kidding.

Frugal Fail of the Week: Blew it Big Time

It's time for the end of month budget assessment. I should be excited about this moment. But I'm not. Instead, I'm in dread. Why? Because I know how much I blew the budget this month. Or at least I sense it.

... moment of truth ...

Ouch.

Blew the grocery/household goods budget today for the month by buying a new quilt for our bed. (the one we got for our wedding has a big tear in it on a seem in a place that I can't repair it). Eeeesh.

Blew the clothing budget (a generous $200 a month that in previous months I didn't even come close to meeting) by a LOT. This is due to my stop at the Nike store (where I bought more than the frugal win), the purchase of a dress for our upcoming military ball, Luke's frugal win and more! It's a little unreal. I can't believe we spent that much on clothes.

Now that I've taken in my shock, let's examine the lesson in all this: the point of keeping a budget is knowing and controlling where your money goes. We make mistakes, yes, and we learn from them. And in the end, even though I spent more than I wanted to and therefore saved less, I DO know where my money went.
~~~~~~~~~~~

A second frugal fail, brought to you by the city of Tacoma. Seriously, how DO you build a ramp in the wrong place?!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Love Me Some Public Whatever

I was wandering through the library the other day when I had a little life flashback. You know, one of those moments when you see a replay of part of your history in your mind. Not quite a dejavu, mostly just a vivid memory.

It is safe to say that as a teenager I had major dreams of becoming a librarian, even talked about getting a college degree in library science so that I could be The Librarian (not just one of those book organizer types). I realize now that I have a better sense of, well, fashion than many of the people who choose the library as a full time calling (and I really don't dress that well) as well as more social skills. These clearly make me a bad candidate for such a job. (And also, the "library science" degree required more math classes than I was willing to take. ... I pretty much wasn't willing to take any).

Another thing I recalled was the amount of time I spent in the library exploring the stacks, reading, borrowing, returning and just being educated. I logged enough hours to last me a life time. When you're a teenager your full time job is to learn, grow and explore. The library made that happen.

This memory brought up another thought: I think people don't take advantage of the library the way they should. Heck, I don't take advantage of it as much as I should.

As far as the consumer is concerned, the library, just like other public services paid for with your tax dollars (or, in my case, someone else's tax dollars ... let's hear it for the military!) is a full time practice in frugality.

I don't know if this has occurred to you recently, but let's give it a think: the library has free books for the taking (er, borrowing). FREE. Hello! FREE! This is Bumble Thrift, we LOVE free things here!

The library also has free movies. I think this is something people think about even less than the books. I'm going to go ahead and credit Abigail with reminding me of this last year. While it may take a little more patience than, say, going to the store and buying any given season of TV or renting a new movie, a quick visit to and request via the library Website and BAM! you have a stack of free movies waiting before you know it. (OK, fine. In the case of my request for "The Blind Side," "before you know it" is more like "after 145 other people are finished borrowing it." Technicality).

It was the library that inspired us to cancel our Netflix account. We were receiving, after a "very long wait" more often than not, some newer release movies, but mostly classics and documentaries, several times a week. We were not watching said movies more than on the weekend. It was costing us about $20 a month.

Now, instead, I've moved our Netflix movie list to the library request page. Anything that I'll be waiting to watch after 123,343 other patrons we'll just rent on Redbox for $1 (or, more frequently, free given the number of promos that business runs). And we are saving $20ish a month.

The looser here is Netflix. The winner? My pocket book. I rule this a frugal win!

And give it a think: what other public services (pools, tennis courts, parks) are you underutilizing all the while spending gobs on the same thing elsewhere?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Frugal Fail of the Week: Facebook much?

Welcome to your weekly frugal fail, the time of the week that I confess to some sort of spending atrocity or complete inability, despite my best intentions, to do anything more than spends gobs of unnecessary cash, or time or both. It happens to everyone, but confession is good for the soul, right? (and maybe a little entertaining for you):

After some more thought, part of the missing time below was blown on Facebook last week. Despite my good intentions (and win! from the week or so previous) I was unable to steer clear of the frugal time ruiner for much of last week.

Where does the time go on Facebook? I piddle it away looking at pictures, stalking former boyfriends, laughing at poor clothing choices, wondering what people aren't saying as they don't comment on that picture of me in a wet suit, and that sort of thing.

Tips, anyone, on breaking the Facebook addiction?

Frugal Win of the Week: more clothes

Welcome to the weekly Frugal Win, a time that I get to brag about some sort of awesome frugality that I achieved and that you wish you could achieve. Ha! Just kidding. If you don't like bragging or you think I should be brought down a peg, check out the weekly Frugal Fail. "Pride cometh .... "

We spend a lot of time in the Bushatz household buying new clothes for me. It's a mystery as to why I need new clothes all the time, but I swear I DO. (ooooor maybe that should be the weekly "Frugal Fail?")

This week we did a little shopping for Luke using this deal at Sears. We were able to buy just over $50 of clothing with the promise of getting $50 rebate for more later. So, we basically will get $100 for just over $50. What was an extra bonus is that all of the stuff we bought was on major sale as well.

What we scored:

Dockers dress pants: regular $48
Dockers dress shirt: regular $30ish
Another dress shirt: regular $30ish

Frugal win, I say! (And so does Luke)

Frugally Absent

Sorry, dear readers, about my MIA status over the last week. I'll go ahead and contribute that to two things:

1. Triathlon training (although this is mostly a lie as the pre-race week has something like "senioritits" going on ... you just don't care anymore).
2. Focusing on frugal time

Since I already admitted the first one is mostly, well, bull, let's focus on the second.

I am astounded by how much I got done last week and it is all thanks to being very, very purposeful with how and on what I spent my time. A sampling:

Sunday -- morning spent with friends, afternoon spent on one-on-one time with Luke and David as we explored the Mt. Saint Helens area, including some way cool lava tubes. It was amazing and so much fun.
Monday -- Workout, library, coffee with a friend, grocery shopping, work
Tuesday -- Very productive work day with lots of writing, but no workout (see senioritis above).
Wednesday -- Semi productive work morning, workout, quality time with David, farmer's market, intense household organization/cleaning time (like the deep dark cabinets you never get around to cleaning but must. be. done.)
Thursday -- Bible study all a.m., workout, work
Friday -- Time with Luke and David in the evening proceeded by very productive work afternoon and mixed in with no less than 10 loads of laundry. I know, right?
Saturday -- Triathlon! And the family time/errands
Sunday -- Church, quality family time

Now that I've written that all out, honestly, I see room for major improvements. For example, on the days I worked half days I haven't the foggiest idea what I did the majority of the morning of afternoon I did not work. I DID manage to spend major time reading and playing with David every single day, but not hours on end. So where did the time go? Food for thought.

We are also trying something new: making Sunday family day and family day only. We are planning to go to church in the morning and then spend the afternoon exploring where we live, playing tennis or doing something else fun and active together (if the weather would only cooperate ...). Yesterday, for example, we visited the Steilacoom history museum and then got the week's grocery shopping out of the way (it was really rainy, folks, grocery shopping wont be on the to-do every week OK? We were GOING to go on a nature hike but it just didn't happen). It was really neat to hit up a place just down the street with us and learn so much about where we live. Score.

So, here's my question for you: how can YOU better use your down time? Think about it, and reign in those hours.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tri-Complete!

Good news: I did NOT die during my triathlon! In fact, I did not even come close. I felt great the entire time (well, except for when those dudes kept passing me on the bike portion. I outswam them all but they just flew past me during that section. And that never feels good). During the run my legs felt like dead weights for the first half and I was tired the second half (and thinking "I'm glad this is almost over). But it was great!

And it was fun.

And I did it in under my goal. I said I'd be happy if I finished under 2 hours (since I knew the bike ride took me at least 56 minutes during training). And I finished in about 1 hour and 49 minutes.

Next time - July 17 - I'd like to finish in under 1:45. To do this I'm going to speed up my transition and cut time from bike ride. By the August race I'd like to be finishing under 1:40. There's only so fast you can transition but my bike ride is slow and I know it. If I can cut two minutes of the transition (which should be easy considering I spent two minutes this time trying to get my feet on my pedals) and seven minutes from the bike ... Here's hoping.

My times (unofficially, according to my stopwatch which, granted, I forgot to stop between the bike and run to time that transition): 16 minute-ish swim; 58 minute-ish bike; 29 minute-ish run. (excellent run time for me since you are slow coming off the bike and I never run under a 10 minute mile in training).

Now, a few pictures. Others are on Facebook.



Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pre-Tri Jitters

We interrupt our "normal" programming for some pre-tri rammbling ...

As I type I am munching a bowl of my favorite cereal (Special K Red Berries), wearing my tri-suit (zoot!) and revving up my mind for the fact that in, oh, four hours (and hopefully not much longer) I will officially be a triathlete.

This is something that has been long, long in coming. I've talked about that before. But this morning, on the cusp of my goal becoming a reality, it seems ... well ... scary.

What if I drown? What if I fall off my bike (with my balance or lack thereof this is a real possibility)? What if... what if ... what if....?

Stay tuned (hopefully) for pictures later. If I don't die.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Frugal Fail of the Week

Welcome to your weekly frugal fail, the time of the week that I confess to some sort of spending atrocity or complete inability, despite my best intentions, to do anything more than spends gobs of unnecessary cash. It happens to everyone, but confession is good for the soul, right? (and maybe a little entertaining for you):

The store: Ebay, need I say more?
The price: $80 :::::::shame:::::::
The take: Babyhawk baby carrier
The why: Weeeell I've been thinking about getting one of these for a long time to replace my baby sling, which Heavy McHeavyston has outgrown. Several friends have this super neat carrier and, well, I caved. And I bought one. And I had not budgeted for it. ... but I bought it anyway. ::::shame:::
Now I will look like this woman. Minus the baby being a girl. And the getting on a bus thing. And the hair cut. And a variety of other factors.

Frugal Win of the Week

Welcome to the weekly Frugal Win, a time that I get to brag about some sort of awesome frugality that I achieved and that you wish you could achieve. Ha! Just kidding. If you don't like bragging or you think I should be brought down a peg, check out the weekly Frugal Fail. "Pride cometh .... "

The store: Nike Clearance Outlet
The Cost: $14
The Take: One Nike drifit fit jacket, retails $75
The How: Outlet, baby! I was looking for a new jacket, as you know. When we drove by the Nike Outlet on our way into Oregon today Luke suggested we stop and I approved. Strongly. It didn't take me 10 minutes to find the exact thing for which I was looking. Score! Here it is (or something very similar):

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Core Competencies Revisited: this time, a frugal win

I had the fantastic opportunity yesterday of interviewing the author of this book, also author of the blog posts I wrote about here. I am using the interview to write a piece for The Washington Times, which I will link to once it's published.

Meanwhile, let me revisit what I wrote regarding core competencies. In her book, like in the blog posts, she talks about outsourcing. I still think most outsourcing equals an epic frugal fail.

But she also expanded on the subject, adding that there is nothing wrong with simply not doing something or as much as something. For example, that time you spend vacuuming three times a day? How about only doing it once.

This is hard for me. I love vacuuming -- the process, the results, everything. But do I love it more than reading to my kid? No.

And so it really does come dow to this: priorities. ... and what, in the hierarchy of your life, is most important? If it is between vacuuming three times and vacuuming once while spending that other 15 minutes playing with that darn shape ball again, what are you going to choose? Shape ball, hands down. (We really need a new toy ... that thing is driving me nutso).

When it's between doing something not as much and priorities I rule core competencies a frugal win.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Covet

... and, unfortunately, I think that includes stuff from REI and Road Runner Sports. Bummer.

It's back to the need v. want conundrum. ... and where "nice to haves" and "deprivation" live in that dichotomy.

Can I live without a reflective rain/wind breaker on my training bike rides? Sure. Will I continue to be cold and miserable? Yes. Does that make it a "need" or a "want?" Unclear.

I believe this is where two factors come to play: how hard core your frugality is and your budget. If you are super hard core and determined not to spend money on things that can be considered comfort items ... well, than I guess "nice to haves" are out.

But if you've budgeted for it, than slide that sucker right over to the "need" category.

At least that's how I figure it.

Now let's return to my REI/Road Runner problem. I've maxed out my triathlon budget for the season. Between the wetsuit, new running shoes, triathlon suit, race fees, goggles to replace the ones that finally broke after five years of use (miracle they lasted this long), more body glide (you always need more body glide), sunglasses, shot blocks for race day and so on ... there's nothing left for the jacket. Since that is the case I'm going to go ahead and live without the bike jacket. Maybe when we take a new look at the budget when the season is over (.... yeeeeeessss off season budget!!!).

Meanwhile I am in the market to replace the super cool "yoga jacket" (I'm not sure what makes this a yoga jacket, but OK) I'm wearing here:


Yeah, that's not a good picture. Regardless, I love that jacket. I bought it at Old Navy. And by the time it occurred to me that I Love That Jacket so much that I was going to wear it out pronto, they stopped selling it and they only had it on clearance in sizes much too big for the current rendition of Amy (or really any rendition in the past either).

So I'm looking for a new one. Yes, I sometimes wear it in training. I also wear it All The Other Times. So I'm sticking it under the "clothing" category. And guess what? I still have a budget for that for the month of June! Is it currently a "need?" No. But it will be. And since it's budgeted I'm going to go for it.

Meanwhile I just need to avoid browsing and browsing and browsing and browsing stuff on Road Runner ... because that super cool looking Puma pull over is NOT a need. Sad.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Frugal Win of the Week

The store: Target
The cost: $.13
The take: 10 sobe lifewaters, one bottle of shout
The How: 4 sobe coupons here (press the back button your browser after each print up to four time), 2 target sobe coupons here plus a buy 10, get a $5 target gift card promotion. For the shout a $1 off Target coupon here plus a manufacturer coupon here and the checker using a second manufacturer coupon attached to the bottle (which she probably shouldn't have).

All over win! And now I'm not thirsty AND I have stain free clothes. Bonus!