Saturday, January 8, 2011

Birthday Excitement

My mom is the master of making a person feel special and loved.  She has always been this way.  Not just with her children and loved ones, but to others she has never met, as well as strangers on the street.  She has such a huge heart and a giving spirit. 

That being said, her “baby girl” (as she still calls me to this day,) will be turning 30 this year.  She emailed me asking if Todd would be working that weekend – and he is.  I talked to her the other evening on the phone, and she said to pencil her in on Friday, February 4th at 6:30 PM until Sunday, February 6th – my actual birth date.  I’m not sure what she has up her sleeve, but I know it will be a blast.

To give you an idea of how she has always made me feel special and loved, every morning of my birthday, she would wake me up with breakfast in bed. Not cereal or pop tarts, but my favorite, eggs in a basket  with orange juice.  On the tray, she would also have a single rose in a small vase and a box wrapped with a piece of jewelry.  Every birthday, I got a new piece of jewelry.  To this day, except for my engagement ring and wedding ring, all of my jewelry is from my mother.

Then my mother would put curlers in my hair and I’d get dressed up for my day at school.  This happened EVERY YEAR until I was out of the house at age 18 (I actually was out of the house at age 17, but she gave me breakfast in bed that year too.)

Birthdays are special days, and my mom instilled that in us.  When I met Todd, I found out that he grew up thinking that a birthday is just any other day of the year.  I remember the first year we were together and he wasn’t going to take me out to eat for my birthday.  I was so angry.  He learned REAL QUICK how important birthdays are to me.  He hasn’t forgotten since.

Not only would mom give us breakfast in bed, but we’d go out to eat for dinner the weekend before or after our birthday.  She would have those people come to sing to you (you know, the most embarrassing thing in the world). And of course, the night of our birthday, we would get a few gifts.  Some of the more memorable ones include: My Get-Along-Gang bike as a child, a phone for my bedroom (as a teen,) a TV for my bedroom (as a teen,) a palm tree, a renovation of our house in Buffalo to build a room for me.  It was above the garage and had cathedral ceilings and skylights.  My dad, grandpa and Uncle Todd built it for me.  I had a white wicker day bed, and mom bought me a beautiful new comforter, and the palm tree for my room.  It was like a garden-room, and I loved it!  That was my favorite room of all time.  I also remember getting Squeaker, the guinea pig she got me for my birthday one year.  It was the craziest guinea pig in the world.  Oh, not to mention the time a few years ago she took me to a casino for the night.  We had great food, a good time gambling, and she gave me $100 to spend.  She insisted I use the money instead of taking it home and paying bills, and I ended up hitting on a machine and coming home with more than $250.  Oh! And the times she’d send flowers and balloons to school for me, and to work!

*sigh* The memories.
Also, mom would make us our favorite food for dinner the night of our birthday.  My favorite foods were crab legs and French onion soup.  Guess what everyone had to suffer through for dinner on my birthday every year?  Yup.  But they never complained.

I hope that one day, when Todd and I have children, that I will be able to make them feel as loved and cherished as my mother does on our birthdays.

The only problem is that I am not good with surprises, and it’s killing me not knowing what she has up her sleeve. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

After Christmas Sales

In years past, I have been able to purchase gifts for people after Christmas at very large discounts.  Last weekend, Todd and I went out to see what we could find.

We were quite disappointed at the selection this year.  In years past, we’ve been able to buy nice gift baskets for pennies on the dollar for nieces and even our parents.  I was able to purchase perfume sets for practically nothing.  This year – we didn’t buy a single item for Christmas 2011. 

Part of me was happy about that, because I wouldn’t have to find a place to store the gifts.  Plus, for some reason, I didn’t feel like spending the money.  I wasn’t really in a shopping mood.  But while driving home, it made me think about what I really want to do for Christmas 2011.  I want to MAKE gifts. I don’t want to BUY them. 

I don’t want to give 100% home-made gifts, but I would like at least 50% of each gift I give someone to be a home-made gift from the heart.

So, this is what is meant to be.
Or, maybe it’s just the miser  in me.

Leftovers Anyone?

Since hosting two parties in the past two weeks, we have A TON of food left over.  Our fridge is jam-packed!  For the past week, it has not been asked, “what’s for dinner?”  We know.  LEFTOVERS!  We will be eating these leftovers until they are completely gone.

What’s for dinner tonight, you ask?

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots & Celery Sticks with ranch dip
Mashed potatoes with gravy
Sweedish Meatballs
Fruit w/ homemade fruit dip (marshmallow fluff and cream cheese)

Yup.  A mish-mash of items.

What’s for dinner tomorrow?
Most likely fondue with homemade bread.

Note to self: stop making so much food when company comes over!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Todd's Realization: Maybe we ARE Misers!

Todd way on the floor (his back is still hurt and it helps when he's on a hard surface) with the puppy tonight after dinner.  I told him that I took $100 out of the bank account to use for our "entertainment" money for the month.  In months past, I think I've short-changed us on the entertainment fund.  We could spent $20 in the month out of the $100 budget, and Todd would mention wanting to do something and I wouldnt want to spend the money.   So, this $100/month is in an envelope and specifially for entertainment for the two of us.  Whether that be a night out with friends at a bar, bowling, wineries, or doing anything together. 

He then said, "You know, I think you have rubbed off on me.  I dont even ENJOY going to a sushi restaurant and spending $50 on sushi anymore.  I enjoy the sushi we get at the buffet because I know we're only paying $6.50 for it!" 

I told him that I just wrote a blog about me feeling like a miser.
He said that this describes how he's felt exactly lately.

We dont like to spend money anymore.
We are becoming so "miserly" that we dont even want to spend $1.50/person to go to the dollar theater because "we can get it free next week from the library!"

I just think it's funny that he brought up the conversation on his own, and I have felt the same thing.

Now, I am not complaining.  I am GLAD we have gotten to this point together.  But I dont want to be one of those old fuddy-duddy couples that hoards their money and does nothing good with it.  I want to have fun together and experience life.  But lately, we have more fun doing that AT HOME playing the Wii or watching movies from NetFlix than going out and doing it. 

Todd mentioned he enjoyed the meal he made for dinner tonight (salmon, steamed broccoli & homemade spanish rice with homemade sangria with free wine I got from a vendor at work) than we had at Red Lobster last weekend (with a gift card.)  I agree with him.  And it cost a fraction of the price.  About $2.00 for the entire meal.  Mom gave us the salmon because she and Doc didnt like it, brocolli was $1 for the bag, and white rice (2 cups) with some spices. 

I prove my point.

Babies Everywhere!

Everywhere I turn, a new baby is being born.  It is quite incredible.  Between the blog-world and real life, it seems like there have been a lot of babies born within the past month.  December and January seem to be busy months for babies being born.  Have you noticed this as well?  It is starting to give me baby fever…which I DO NOT NEED right now!


I have known that Todd has not been happy with his place of employment since we’ve been together for 5 years.  The big plan was that we’d get out of debt, get our emergency fund into place, and then find jobs that we love…even if that means it pays minimum wage.

Lately, Todd has been talking about getting his resume updated and starting his search.  He does not want to make less than he makes now. 

The thought of him going out and finding a new job scares me.  I do not do well with change.  I know how much money is coming in right now.  We have not paid off his vehicle loan yet this year, and we still have $7,500 to go on his credit card before we can even BEGIN to stash money for our emergency fund.

This talk may be him venting, or he may be serious about it this time.  I’m not sure.  I am trying to remain positive, knowing that whatever happens, it will be for the best.  But I have such a hard time with the unknown and change.  I need to learn to “go with the flow,” and trust that everything with be as it’s supposed to be.

**After writing this, I read something out of Dave Ramsey’s The Money Answer Book (pg. 127) that completely refers to my worries listed above. It reads:

“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.  They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, and live.  Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave, they have forfeited their freedom.  Only a person who risks is free.”  ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sarah Palin

There is one thing that I will NOT talk about on this blog, and that is politics. That being said, I have been watching Sarah Palin’s Alaska on one of the cable channels we get (TLC? Discovery? I don’t know which one.)  The only reason I started watching it was to see what it was about – out of curiosity.  After the first episode, I was hooked.  There were places that Todd and I had been to that we saw on the show, and there are now even more places that we want to go back and see first-hand.

I knew nothing about Sarah Palin other than the fact that she was a Republican, her daughter had a child out of wedlock (and all of the drama between Bristol and Levi,) she was from Alaska, and she has a son with Downs Syndrome.  That is all I knew of Sarah Palin. 

Watching the show over the past several weeks, there is one thing that is really prevalent … Sarah is a family woman.  Family is on the top of her list, and I think that is so admirable.  Not just with her husband and children, but with her parents, siblings and in-laws as well.  It is incredible how large their family is, and the things they do together.  From camping together, fishing together and hunting.  From what is shown on the shows, she is trying to teach her children something about the great outdoors, and building character in each of them.

I’m sure if my mother did all of this stuff, I’d roll my eyes and think it is annoying, as I’m sure her kids do.

But really, family is what is most important.  And even though Sarah has been in the lime-light for a while now and will continue to be, she seems to be down to earth and a really great mom.  It appears that her priorities are in order, and I commend her for that.

If you haven’t seen the show, I would highly recommend it.  The adventures and the witty quips are great entertainment.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Quote: Lottery

“The average person playing the lottery spends $32 a month.  That same $32 a month represents over $1 million dollars in retirement if invested over a working lifetime.”
(Author not listed.)

Dave Ramsey The Money Answer Book


When Todd and I got married in 2007, we honeymooned in Alaska.  We took an Alaskan cruise to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria.  The trip was incredible!  Early May was the PERFECT temperature and it was an amazing trip.  The thought process behind Alaska was that “it’s a once in a lifetime trip.”

In the colder months, we like to talk about vacations.  We have been going back and forth as to where we’d like to go for our 5 year anniversary in May 2012.  There had been talk of France, Switzerland, Italy and Ireland.  While watching Sarah Palin’s show on TV, it made us miss Alaska and all of the scenery. 

While we were in Alaska, Todd had a rough time because of the 4 hour time difference.  He gets up anywhere between 3:30AM and 5:30 AM.  In Alaska, that was 11:30PM-1:30AM.  We’d be sleeping by 6:00 their time. That was Todd’s one big complaint about Alaska.  It wouldn’t have been a problem, but a lot of the activities on the ship were from 7-10 at night, and we missed a lot of them because I was passed out in the room (I was also motion sick for the first 3 days and the Dramamine was knocking me out!)

While in Alaska, Todd mentioned he’d like to stay in each town for a few days and experience all there is in those towns (Juneau, Anchorage & Skagway.)

The issue with going to France/Italy or Ireland is that the flights are about $1400/person round trip. A flight from Cleveland to Seattle, to Juneau, then to Anchorage and then back home would be $850/person! That is over 2 weeks. That is almost half the price!
We do much better when we go on our own versus with a group of people.  I think we could have a blast in Alaska together.  Of course, we’d probably want to rent a car so we could drive all over, and we’d probably rent out a house/cottage for the week as we usually do so that we can do our own laundry and cook our own meals.

We went to a rainforest (yes, in Alaska!) while on our honeymoon, and I will NEVER forget the trees that were bear scratching posts.  The bald eagles and hand-carved totem poles were so cool! Alaska is where I found out that I love salmon.  And the whale watching was breath-taking.  Oh, not to mention the train ride up the Yukon Territory.  We would do that again in an INSTANT!

We like to go to new places, but we absolutely loved Alaska.  There is only one thing I don’t like about Alaska, and that are the bears! But I’d just have to get over it, eh?

**After writing this, Todd found another destination he may want to go that is in the same time zone as we are in.  Peru!  Oh my goodness. The possibilities are endless, it seems. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Book List 2011: The Money Answer Book

The Money Answer Book by Dave Ramsey is an extremely quick read.  Only 160 pages but chock full of useful information.  If you are a Dave Ramsey fan, listen to his radio program and/or podcast (like I do) and have read his Total Money Makeover, a lot of this information may seem redundant.  But, for me, I learn by repetition. 

Hubby and I are well on our way to debt freedom (hopefully by mid-2011,) and this book helps to keep the teachings of Dave Ramsey in the forefront of my mind.

Rate of Return: 2010

I am always curious to see what my ROR is at the end of the year.  OK...who am I kidding.  I check at least once a week.

At any rate, for 2010, my ROR was 16.3%.  Not bad at all!  I'll take it!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Recipe: Fondue

I was looking for something to make in the crockpot that would be fun for New Years.  I found a super-simple recipe for fondue, and it turned out AWESOME!

1 lb. Velveeta cheese (I had Velveeta in the freezer from last year - it was on sale but we never used it.  We're not big cheese people.  Go figure - why was I looking at fondue recipes? Who knows.)
1 can cream of mushroom soup

That's it.
Cut up the Velveeta into cubes and put it in the crockpot with a can of cream of mushroom soup, and you have a very creamy, rich, fondue!  I made homemade Artisan bread, and it all turned out SO YUMMY! 

As I mentioned, we arent really cheese lovers, but this turned out really good.  Todd is eating it right now as a snack as I type. 

I Sold A Book!

It has been less than two hours, and I already sold a book on Amazon!  How awesome is that!?!

I am not sure how I am going to keep track of all of this stuff that I'm purging/selling, but I'd like to keep a tally with the amount of money that we've sold some of these items for.

One down...6 more to go!


The Purging Has Begun!

This morning, I logged onto, and was tired of having to search through the blogs I wanted to read.  I didnt realize this, but I had 87 blogs that I followed.  8-7! (I warned all the readers that I have OCD tendencies.) That's ALOT of blogs!!!   And I always frequented the same ones over and over again.

So...I decided it was time to do a little house-cleaning per se. 
I stopped following over 60 blogs.
I am down to 25 right now, which will help me with my time-management, and will keep my Dashboard clutter-free. 

Out of the 25, I may get rid of a couple of more.  We will see. 

But it feels good to go to the Dashboard and see who has posted from blogs I regularly follow.

I also listed 7 books that I am done reading on as "used."  Only one book was not recognized, so that will be a gift to a friend for her birthday.  Now, I am waiting for people to start buying them.  It's amazing, the ONE book that I was able to list at the highest price was one that I bought at a library sale for a quarter.  I have it listed at $9 used. I undercut everyone else by nearly a dollar.  Go figure.  We'll see if it sells.

All in all, I think it's been a productive start to the morning.

Have a great day!

New Years Eve 2010

Attached are a few pictures from the company we had over for New Years Eve.

This is my friend from work, Sharron, and her husband, Jim.

This is the first time they've met Lana and the kittens.  We had a great evening.  I was surprised that we all stayed up until midnight.  I was about to go to bed around 9:30 but trudged through.  By 11, I got my second wind.  Sharron, on the other hand, was falling asleep around 11:45 on the couch.  We nudged her and made sure she was awake with eyes open to watch the ball drop.

All in all, we had a great evening. It was nice to have company stay over. 
However, we have so much food!  Thank goodness most of it can be frozen!  We will be eating the leftovers for half the month!

 Sharron & Jim playing the Wii

 I think Lana likes Sharron...what do you think?

We had a great New Years thanks to Jim & Sharron.
What a great way to ring in the New Year!