Saturday, January 1, 2011

Book Review: Double Shot by Erynn Mangum

Double Shot by Erynn Mangum is a book about 25 year old, Maya, who is getting married to a long-time friend, Jack.  I was so excited to get this book, as I've seen other books out there by Erynn Mangum that I've been waiting to read, but haven’t had a chance.

I was a bit disappointed in this book.  It is nearly 300 pages of the life of Maya and her wedding plans.  Though I chuckled at Maya's whit and humor (as well as her appetite and food choices,) the novel was a bit drawn-out and dull.  I was sick of hearing about how little time she had to plan her wedding, Jack’s non-existent help in the wedding planning, and the repetition of coming home and Calivon ‘Rooing.  Really.  We get it. 

The book had very little conflict, and was a bit unrealistic in terms of her relationship with Jack, in my opinion.  Everything was so hunky-dory throughout the book between Maya and Jack that they didn’t really seem like a real couple.  I was waiting for SOMETHING to happen, ANYTHING to happen to liven things up.  That never happened, except for the news from Jack that he has been recommended for a position in Seattle.  There were no real surprises throughout the book. No real learning experiences except for one at the very end.

These opinions may be because this is the first time reading about these characters.  My opinion may have been different if I read the other books of the series.

I received this book free from NavPress as part of their Blogger Review program.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

THAT Explains It!

I am an Aquarius, and sometimes I wonder why I am the way that I am.
I did a Google search to try to compare my personality traits to my zodiac sign.  This is what it says:

Aquarius in a Nutshell

Born: January 20 – February 18             (February 6th, 1981)

Element: Air – communicative and logical

Quality: Fixed, the quality that signifies a resistance to change  (That is DEFINITELY me.  I like my schedule and when it changes just a little bit, I tend to get flustered.)

Symbol: The Water Bearer  (??  OK…)

Lucky Day: Wednesday (Definitely!  Hump-day, and Bennihana lunch day!)

Lucky Numbers: 1 and 7  (I don’t think I have lucky numbers, but OK.)

Special Color: Electric blue, the color of the sky  (This may be my “special color,” but my favorite color is yellow.)

Aquarius Traits: original, progressive, detached, unpredictable, intellectual, unemotional  (I would like to think that I’m pretty original and progressive.  I don’t think I am intellectual as much any more (I lost a lot of that when I had the stroke in 2005.)  Detached – yes!  Unemotional? Well, when I’m detached, yes.  But I am pretty emotional otherwise.  My moods can go from high to low in an instant.)

What zodiac sign are you?
What are your personality traits?

Friday, December 31, 2010

Quote: New Year

I found this quote while at work the other day, and I thought it was fitting:

Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to.
~Bill Vaughan

Happy New Year to everyone!


I know that talking about money is taboo.  However, I like to talk about numbers.  I don’t mind sharing information about how much Todd and I have in our 401K’s with work, how much we’ve paid off in the past year, how much more we have to go, what I am planning to do with IRA’s for the both of us in the near future, how much we owe on our house, etc.

I don’t understand why money is such a touchy subject.   It is something that is not talked about openly by many.  It is hush-hush about how much a family makes in a year.  Our finances would probably make more sense if you knew how much we made.  A $418 mortgage payment doesn’t sound like a lot, but what if we were making $25,000/year?  That would be A LOT!  That same mortgage payment would seem like nothing based on a $100,000 income, would it not?  I have talked about every other aspect of our finances except our incomes, and that is going to change in the next sentence.  Todd and I make approximately $68,000/year combined (it may be a little higher this year.)  There you have it.  That may be piddly to some, or a lot to others, but it is what it is. We make approximately the same amount, which is odd, because Todd’s hourly wage is $4 less than mine.  However, one week, he works 36 hours, the next he works 48 hours.  That overtime makes our incomes pretty close (within $5,000/year.)

My goal is to learn how to live off of one income.  I would really like for Todd to get out of the place he works.  Also, if we were to have children, I would like to stay home with them. 

So, there you have it.
Everything is out in the open.


I was looking through my armoire trying to find something to wear to work last week, and I decided that it is time to start purging. 
Rachel at Frugal and Simple worked last year on the declutter-challenge from Amy’s Finer Things.  Bloggers were striving to get rid of 2 items a day for the entire year.  I am not sure if Amy’s Finer Things is doing this again, but I have decided that this is something I am going to do this year.

I have so many clothes that I have not worn in ages.  They either don’t fit right, or I just don’t like them any longer.  Also, in my armoire, I have stacks and stacks of books.  Why?  Because we don’t have a single bookshelf in our home!  I am working with 5 or 6 publishers receiving free books to read and review, and then they sit there on top of the books that people give to me.  I have many of my own books that I’ve purchased at garage sales or library book sales for next to nothing that I’ve wanted to read, but haven’t had time to get to them.  So, this year, I am going to try to read all of these books and sell them.  There are only a couple of books that I want to keep.  Everything else is clutter.  Not only will the books be out of my hair, I will have extra money to put toward my allowance money and use towards the chickens or the items I want to get from

Would anyone like to join me in my monthly purge sessions?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Todd's Vehicle is Officially Paid Off!

We paid off Todd's vehicle this morning!!!  With my paycheck and his, we had enough to pay off the vehicle and have about $560 left over for the week to live on. 

I am so excited!  That car looks SO much nicer now that we dont owe $227 on it every month!

As a side note, money is going to be tight in January.  I can already tell.
Todd only worked for a few hours yesterday and came home due to some pain he has been having in his jaw.  He couldnt close his jaw completely and he couldnt eat because of the pain.  He called his doctor when they first opened, and they informed him he should go straight to the ER. the ER he went.  It ends up that his TMJ flared up due to stress and exhaustion.  He's had back pain for the past week too, and he says that's why he's so stressed. 

SO...we will be getting a bill from the hospital.  I'm not sure how much his copay is for ER visits.  Not to mention the meds and the mouth-guard he bought.

Luckily, he is OK.  He slept pretty well last night (better than me! I was up at 12:30 with a zillion things going through my head!)  I pray that his back heals soon, and he can eat more than soft foods and liquids soon. 


I think I may be turning into a miser.  That scares me.
I know that I am cheap.  I always have been, but lately, I feel like we are better off saving money than doing most things.  We still go out every couple of weeks we go for our $20 date-night together.  Other than that, we don’t do much.   

Todd asked me the other morning, “What do you want for your 30th birthday? Want to go to Ireland?”  I said, “I want to be debt free.”  He responded, “How do I wrap that up in a box?” 

I was completely honest.  I want to be out of debt.  Plus, everything I enjoy is at home.  Not out at a store or restaurant.  I enjoy spending time with my husband over a  homemade meal, watching movies with him (as long as I am sitting up – so I don’t fall asleep before the previews have completed,) reading, our animals, the garden, the hummingbirds, the flowers.

I have gotten to the point that as much as I love to travel, I don’t want to pay for hotels or meals.    

Is it possible to be called a miser when we spend so much? 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

SwagBucks Update

SwagBucks is finally working for me!  On Christmas day, I received enough points to get my first $5 certificate.  That next Tuesday, they had something on Groupon listed where if I purchased the product from Groupon, I would get 280 SB’s.  It was a t-shirt for Todd for his birthday.  It cost $8.00 (including tax and shipping.)  It said: “We will never forget you, LeBron Jones.”  He is going to love it AND it was 64% off. I told a guy at work about it, and he wanted one too!  So I ordered the Groupon for him, snagging 280 more SB’s!  This scored me another $5 certificate, and left me with 184 SB’s to add to for our next certificate.

I am really excited about it.  I don’t want to make it a habit of buying items just to get SB’s, but this is something that Todd will love, and the price was right.  The guy at work paid me as soon as I printed out the Groupon for him.  No harm, no foul.

Wordless Wednesday: The Kittens

Todd has mentioned on several occasions that the kittens sleep in a basket in their bedroom.  I didnt believe him, because every time I go into the bedroom, they are out and running around.  These are some photos of Tux & Red. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I realize that some people are not animal people, and that’s OK.  However, I don’t remember what life was like without them.  I have been with “needy” animals since we got Squiggy (as a surprise from my mother) in October of 2007.

Every morning, I have to wake up and feed the outside animals (Squiggy & Lana.)  Then I bring Lana in (Squiggy wants nothing to do with coming inside the house now, which is strange considering he was an indoor piggy the first 3 years of his life up until a few months ago!)  I spend time with Lana – one on one.  Then, it is time for her to go play with piggy for the day.  It’s funny, after about an hour or two, she whimpers wanting to go outside back to Squiggy.  I think she misses the little porker.

After taking Lana back outside, the kittens get to come and play with us in the Family Room.  It is like we are in shifts.  Right now, Lana wants to play with the kittens.  Lana is still 100% puppy (she will be 7 months in a few weeks,) and I could see her pouncing on the kittens and hurting them.  That’s why we work in shifts.  

The kittens are a bundle of fun, as well as the older cats (Chance – the 11 year old is still my baby boy.) 

Then, in the evenings, it starts all over again.  Feeding the outdoor animals around 6 or 6:30, bringing Lana in to play for a little while and spend time with us (Todd does not spend time with them outdoors like I do.)  Then Lana whimpers for Squiggy, and she goes outside for the night to sleep with the Squig-ster.

No matter what kind of day I am having, these little critters bring a smile to my face.  Every single last one of them.  Logan ( the 1 ½ year old cat) does NOT like the new kittens.  She grumbles and hisses at them constantly.  However, as moody as she is, there are moments that she just wants to be with ME. She will rub against my leg, or follow me into the bathroom in the mornings to get some love.  She jumps up on the bathroom counter (she has done this since she was a kitten) and drinks out of the tap. Yes, some of you may think that’s gross, but I think it’s cute.

As much as Chance is my baby boy (I’ve had him for 10 years now.  I keep saying he’s 11, but he’s actually 12,) Squiggy is also my man.  I love that pig so much.  He is so much fun to be around.  The grunts and squeals he makes (that I don’t even notice anymore until someone comes over and mentions how cute it is,) the way he follows me around, when he chases us around the yard to play, the way he flops over to get his belly rubbed.  He cracks me up.  It’s like we are on the same wavelength all of the time.  He knows just what to do to make me smile. 

Lana, as rambunctious as she is will look at me with those puppy dog eyes and it makes my heart melt.  When I’m in the shower in the morning, she sits outside of the curtain and puts her head in to drink water from my hands.  When I walk into a room, I say, “Hi honey!  It’s me…and my shadow!” Because I enter first, and then Lana is at my heels.

Red and Tux; I’m really glad they came to us within days of one another.  They keep each other company (instead of antagonizing the “older” cats.”)  It’s hard to think that I was going to give Tux away to a farm.  I call Red my “trophy kitten,” because she is this beautiful red color and a big puff-ball.  She is so pretty, but not the brightest bulb if you know what I mean. I fell in love with her pretty quickly.  In the beginning, I could do without Tux.  But within a week, he warmed right up to us and he is the most affectionate of the cats we have!  I hope he always stays that way!  When he first sees us, he crawls up our legs to be right in our faces and to give and get some love.  I continually have scratches on my legs because he has yet to realize when I’m not wearing pants!  And yes, he crawls up my leg WITHOUT any pants on!  It’s quite painful, but I love him anyways.

That is our crazy, hectic house on a daily basis.  These “granimals” keep us busy!  I couldn’t imagine what it’s like with a couple of children to the mix!!  These fur-balls are a lot of work as it is!

And on a sad note, I don’t even want to think about the day that we lose any of these critters.  It would be devastating for me.  How in the world would we transport a 200 lb pig?  Todd knows that if anything were to happen to Squiggy, he’d have to build a box and burry him in the yard. And the same goes with Lana, or any of the cats.  Oy.  I don’t even want to think about it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gurney's 2011 Catalog

I recieved my official 2011 Gurney's Seed catalog in the mail today.

I get so excited to look through this catalog and determine what I want in the garden, where I want to put my plants, etc.

For now, I have to go through my seeds to see what I already have so that I dont duplicate them.

I vowed last year that I would not start anything from seed.  Everything I've started from seed did not do well.  However, I am going to look into getting more strawberries from Gurney's, and possibly blueberry bushes or blackberry canes.  OR...possibly concord grapes.  I dont know...the possibilities are endless.

Does anyone else act like a giddy little schoolgirl when they get their Gurney's seed catalog?

Roth IRA

I have started my research to get ready for opening a Roth IRA for Todd and I in 2011.  My friend from a message-board I am part of brought up a great point a year or two ago that I think I’m going implement.  We both have older hubbies.  Todd is 10 years my senior, which means he has less time until retirement, but can also start withdrawing funds sooner (without penalty.)  That being said, we are going to try to fully fund his Roth IRA to the maximum allowed ($5,000/year in 2011,) and then any additional funds we were going to invest (an extra $1,000/year,) would be put into my Roth IRA.

This way, in just 20 years, if we decided that we want to retire early, we can start withdrawing from his account without any penalties.  The extra money we will be investing will be for 10 years later when it’s MY turn to withdraw without penalties.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to withdraw until we HAVE to.  If we can live off of part-time income or off of the interest of investments, that’d be GREAT.  But you know me…always planning ahead.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Is This Cheap or Frugal?

I am known for trying to save money.  Everything Todd and I do, we try to save money...without living like misers.  I'm sure alot of people think we live like misers, but I have the bank statements and credit card statements to show that we dont!  We used to spend too freely, which is why we are working so hard at saving to get out of debt. 

At any rate, we received an awesome Keurig Coffee Machine for Christmas from my mom and Doc.  This is a picture of it:

I had been contemplating buying one of these for myself with my allowance money (we get $25/week to spend on whatever we want,) but I had talked myself out of it.

So, we got the machine and an amble supply of k-cups to keep us well-hydrated for a couple of months.  I have been looking at prices for the k-cups, and they are EXPENSIVE!  Yes, if I bought Starbucks every day, this would seem like a huge savings to buy this single-serve machine and the supplies, but I dont.  I drink coffee at work only, and buy myself creamers for $1.99/bottle. 

I dont like the fact that the k-cups are plastic, and I'm sure they take forever to disintegrate in a landfill, and I really dont want to pay $0.50+ per cup of coffee.  So, Todd and I have been looking at ways to SAVE while using this great gift.

So, we found this refillable cup on for $14.95 (free shipping if we order $25+ worth of products.)

Todd despises coffee.  He cant even handle the scent of coffee.  Mom gave us some Chai Latte K-cups, and Todd LOVED it! However, they cost about $1/cup.  No thank you.  We will not be paying $1/cup for Chai Latte.  However, I found this item that we will be purchasing.

 This is a 6 pk of 10 oz. Chai Latte that could be put into the reusable k-cup to be made into Chai Tea Latte.  I cant determine the price per cup, or what the "break even" point would be without getting these two items first and testing it out, but I know it'd be alot less expensive than $1/cup!  Plus, I plan on using SwagBucks to purchase these items, so our out of pocket expenses would be minimal.

We will not be purchasing these items today, tomorrow, or even next month (I have to accumulate more SwagBucks!)  But when our supplies get a little lower, we will definitely be making the investments listed above and be more cost-conscious of our daily coffee/latte's!

I love our new gadget from mom, but I love it even more than there are other alternatives to expensive morning drinks that enable us to use this new toy at a fraction of the cost!

Book Review: Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul was the perfect book to read this past week.  With Christmas coming and the snow on the ground, it was easy to get completely caught up in this book. 

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball is a book that takes place at Christmas-time in the life of a woman, Cora, and her boss' boss, Mr. Derrick. The book gives us a glimpse into Cora and Mr. Derrick's professional and personal lives and how their families have been and continue to be.  Cora has been born-again, and she is able to meet and truly get to know her boss' boss, to which she has worked with for the past five years.  Mr. Derrick is able to truly see Cora for who she is and what she stands for throughout the book.  
In my opinion, Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball is a modern-day Cinderella story that will keep you guessing from page 5 through page 205.  It was a great book that warmed my heart the whole way through.  I couldnt put this book down!

I loved the story, the ease of getting to know each of the characters, and the lessons taught ever so discretely.  I am adding Donita K. Paul's other novels to my reading list for 2011.

I received this book free from WaterBrook publishers as part of their Blogging for Books program.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

How Much is Too Much?

I hope it's not too early to start voicing my opinion about Christmas.  This is an observation that has opened coveration for Todd and I to discuss what we want for our family if we are blessed with children in the upcoming years.

Todd and I celebrated Christmas morning at my father's house.  My niece, Natalie and her mom, Tosh, live with my dad and his wife.  Every year, I think Natalie gets a bit too much.  This year was no different.

This year was Barbie-palooza at dad's house.  Natalie watches ALOT of TV (which is another thing I dont agree with,) and it is apparent that commercials have gotten to this child.  EVERY commercial that comes on, she "wants."  And, "Oh! I love this! I NEED it!"  I have mentioned to Todd in the past about her saying these things, and we've discussed what we want for our children.

Well, as I mentioned, Christmas for Natalie was Barbie-palooza 2010.  I've NEVER seen so many Barbie items in my life (except for at Toys R Us.)  Barbie mansion, Barbie car, Barbie fairy / princess, Barbie camper, Barbie PJ's.  I kid you not.  All of this, in one day.  Actually, within an hour.  How much is too much?  How much is enough?

This is not something we want for our children.  We dont want the material things for them.  We want them to know what is important - family and faith.  NOT "stuff."  We want them to have nice things, and we want them to be provided for, but not to this extreme.  Our children will not get even a fraction of what Natalie got this Christmas.  OK...maybe from Grandma (my mom - she spoils the grandkids!) but not from us.

With a room-full of already Barbie-licious items, these gifts will just get lost in the mounds and mounds of Barbie items Natalie already has.  Will she remember this Christmas 3 years from now and all the items she got? I doubt it.  She has probably already forgotten about half of the gifts. 

What did Auntie M & Uncle Todd get Natalie for Christmas?  A Barbie lunchbox.  Something she can use daily.  Yup.  That may be a fuddy-duddy thing to buy a 4 1/2 year old, but I know she'll use it for preschool and on road-trips.

What are your thoughts on this? 
Do you think we are completely off base?

Christmas Day 2010

Yesterday was an awesome day.  We had a blast with my dad, his wife, my step brother, step sister, niece and new nephew.

Here are a few picures:

 My 4 1/2 year old niece, Natalie.  She is such a diva!  I love her to pieces!

 My father and his new grandson, Jacksyn.
 Natalie and her mom, Tosh (my step-sister.)
 My step-brother, Kenny, and his girlfriend, Laura
 Kenny & Laura's new addition, Jacksyn (3 weeks old Christmas Day)
 Todd and his parents
Todd's mom, Linda

I was just thinking the other day, I'm not sure if I ever posted any pictures of Todd on the blog.  If not, there he is. Super-Todd, my hubby.

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas as well!