Friday, February 11, 2011

Surprise Birthday Weekend

My mom told me over a month ago that I should not plan anything for my birthday.  My mom is the best gift-giver in the world.  She is so clever, and knows EXACTLY what I like.

Todd worked my birthday weekend (the weekend of the Super Bowl,) and so it wasn’t too difficult to let him know that I was going away for my birthday with mom.

Mom came over to our house Friday night, after we both got home from work.  She took us out to dinner locally.  Then, Saturday morning, we left at 10:00AM to start our “adventure.”  She wouldn’t tell me what we were doing…and quite frankly, I hate surprises.  I kept guessing what we were doing.  I must have made 60 guesses and I STILL had NO idea what we were going to do.

We drove for an hour and forty-five minutes to a cute college town called Washington, PA.  There, we checked in at this amazing bed & breakfast.  I love B&B’s.  They have so much character, and this one was no different.  I definitely want to go there again with Todd sometime.  It was built in 1888.  If you are anywhere near Pittsburgh and want to check it out, the website is: . After we checked into the B&B, we went to a casino where mom gave me $40 to spend.  I was up some, but she wouldn’t let me cash out and take the money home.  So, I put it all back into the machines eventually.  After the casino, we went to dinner and the last surprise was a play to see Madigaskar at a beautiful theater in Pittsburgh.  What a great day!

Sunday, we woke up (we slept in!) to classical music playing telling us we had 30 minutes until breakfast.  We had assorted fruits with a dollop of peach yogurt, and stuffed French toast with sausage links and OJ.  Oh my goodness, it was SO GOOD!

After that, mom and I did some shopping, and then drove home.  I had a great 30th birthday.  I loved spending time with my mother.  She always spoils us for our birthdays.  And the best part is that my brother is back in the United States now, safe and sound.  That is the best gift of all.

I had a great weekend.  Turning 30 isn’t so bad at all.
I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Squiggy Status

The vet has no idea what is wrong with my cute little Squiggy piggy.  Apparently, the vet couldn’t take his temperature because he was reading colder than her thermometer had available (90 degrees,) which is unusual considering pigs generally are warmer animals.  So, she gave him two shots in the tuckus (butt) and left us with 6 shots to give him throughout the week.

What a joke that is.  When Squiggy had pneumonia, Todd administered the first shot but was out of town with his dad the next day, and I had to do it.  Pigs are smart.  He knows that if you are coming at him with a needle, he’s gonna get it in the butt.  So he runs and screams.  Todd is aware that he is the one that will be administering the 6 shots to my poor little baby.

The vet is not sure what the problem is.  He does not have pneumonia from what she can tell.  After these antibiotics kick in, he should be either better or cured.  The vet mentioned he may have hurt his back or hind legs (which is why he’s having a hard time walking on his back hooves.)

All in all, the visit didn’t cost too much.  However, if Squiggy isn’t better by the end of the week, she will have to come out again for another visit.


Why does it seem that when we get “extra” money to be able to pay down debt, SOMETHING always happens to deplete the stash that has been saved up?  Why?

Todd received his tax return a few weeks ago and he was able to buy Spring tires for both cars that he has wanted.  The rest of his return was put toward debt.  Then, Squiggy got sick within days of buying the tires and paying down some debt.  When Squiggy gets sick, it’s an expensive vet bill.  It costs $75 to have a vet come to the house, and then whatever is administered, and a lot of times, another visit the week after (which is another $75 bucks minimum.)  Of course, because I paid down a debt, I didn’t leave too much money in our account, so I am freaking that the vet visit will be more than $300 (we have $350 to live on this week.)  And we still have several more days until payday (thank goodness Todd gets paid every week!)

Oh, and the Home Owner’s Insurance that I thought was coming due in AUGUST came in the mail.  That is another $525 that I wasn’t prepared for (my own fault!)  Yes, we have our Emergency Fund, but I don’t like touching that.  I’d rather live VERY TIGHT over the next few weeks and deal with it; which is exactly what we are going to do.

I adore my Squiggy piggy and pray that nothing is seriously wrong with him. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book List 2011: The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle

The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle was on my list of books I wanted to read in 2011. I stated at the beginning of the year that I wanted to be more submissive to my husband. Well, not more, but “submissive,” because truth be told, I was not submissive at all.  It was my way – always. 

When I got this book from the library, I drug my feet because I really didn’t want to open it up and start reading it.  I didn’t want to feel guilt about everything I’d done to Todd over the past 5 years of our relationship.  I didn’t want to hear that I had to agree with everything Todd had to say and wanted to do.  After all, I am a very strong-willed, independent woman!  Girl power! No man can tell ME what to do!  ((Can you say severe daddy issues?  That’s me.))

The first page of the first chapter, my eyes were pried opened.  I am only on Chapter 2 right now, but I feel that this book is a MUST READ for anybody who is in a relationship or married.

Chapter 1: The first sentence talks about respecting your husband.
I thought, “I respect Todd.”  I kept reading what the book had to say, and then I realized that I DO NOT actually respect Todd.  I respect Todd if he does what I want him to do.  Otherwise, I do not.  And because of this, our intimacy has gone WAY DOWN, actually, to zilch, and it is because of this.  Every time I laugh at him or make a face at something he suggests or says, I am DISRESPECTING him.

The book hit the nail right on the head when it said that I may believe that Todd is beneath me.  I never thought of it that way, but why else would MY ideas and suggestions be so much better than his?  Because subconsciously, I thought he was beneath me.

What a kick in the pants Chapter 1 was.

After reading this first chapter, I decided that I want to read a chapter, sit and reflect on it, and then write about it on the blog.  I also decided after page one, this is a book that I will be getting out from the library every 6 months to keep the ideas in the forefront of my mind.  I want to practice these principals daily with Todd and hopefully watch our intimacy grow.

I challenge you to read this book with me.  Does your library have a copy available?  I want to read your thoughts and stories about each chapter as well as share mine.  If anyone is interested in reading this book with me, please let me know and I will put it down for the time being until we can possibly get a group of people to read the book together and discuss.

Each chapter is an easy read.  It would take about 15 minutes a day to read.  Maybe another 15 minutes to reflect upon.

Is anybody interested?

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Todd and I are working on paying off our last debt, an American Express card that Todd has had for many years.  It was a balance transfer at either 2.99% or 3.99% interest for the life of the transfer.  It was well over $15,000 when I first met Todd, but now, it is just over $7,000.

Because we paid off Todd’s vehicle by the end of 2010, I feel a HUGE burden off of my shoulders.  It is a freeing feeling NOT to owe on a vehicle.  And even though we didn’t have too many debts, not having to pay that one debt every month feels as though it frees up a lot of my time.  Not only by paying down the debt and fretting about it, but it is one less payment I have to make every month.

We also had a small Home Depot debt that we paid off in January from a project we did in June of last year (12 months same as cash,) so that is yet ANOTHER less recurring payment we have to make every month.  It makes paying the bills SO MUCH EASIER when you don’t have all of these recurring debt payments to pay (and worry about) every month.

We are to the point that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we are thrilled about it.  I still have a little bit of anxiety over paying off the American Express by the end of May, but seeing the balance go down every pay is so much fun to watch!  Seeing the progress makes me that much more determined to meet my goal!  I get excited after every payment I make and update Todd on the balance.  He could care less, but he likes the fact that we are out of debt as much as we are as it is.  He likes the fact that I want to live on cash-only and that I want him to be able to get a job doing something he enjoys without having to get a job “to pay the bills.”  

I am already seeing that debt freedom opens a lot of doors and gives us a lot of opportunities that we wouldn’t have necessarily had while loaded with debt.  What a great feeling.  A feeling that we can breathe and enjoy what we have (and own outright!) and each other!

Selling Books Online

In the month of January, I sold 8 books on  I am thrilled that they have sold, and look forward to selling many more in the future.  I currently have 5 books that have NOT sold, but the way I see it, I’ve sold more than are sitting on my bookshelf (OK, it’s not a bookshelf.  It’s my clothes armoire and there is a stack of clothing next to the books that have not sold.)

I got a book from the library entitled, The Home-Based Bookstore by Steve Weber.  I started reading it, and it is really making me excited to sell more books!  Weber’s book gives recommendations on what type of books sell and which ones don’t.  Where to buy books, and where to stay away from them.  He also provides a slew of websites that are great references!

Where do I go from here?  Well, at the next book sale I come across, I will definitely be looking for books to sell and I will use the profits I made from the books I’ve sold thus far.  Weber’s book states that it’s easy to get into this business to make a passive income up to $40,000/year or more.  He started with $80 from his “meager savings account.”  He states it took him 3 months to make enough income to replace his j-o-b.

I informed Todd that I would eventually like to get a bookshelf to house the books I purchase and are selling.  Until then, the armoire is doing a fine job of housing my few books. 

I am interested to see where this “venture” takes me.  For the first time, I am not “over-the-top” infatuated with making big bucks from books.  But I AM anxious to see where this avenue takes me.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Another Year Older

This past weekend, I turned the big 3-0.  I still feel like I’m 18 many times.  There are alo of times when I see someone and I think they are “my age,” and then I find out they are 24!  I wonder if those who are 24 see me as their age or 30 (or older!)

I am bummed that I’m not a svelt and super-healthy 30, but I have to work on that.  That is no one’s fault but my own.

I cant believe:
15 years ago, I was learning how to drive.
12 years ago, I graduated from High School.
9 years ago, I graduated from College.
4 years ago, I got married.
1 1/2 years ago, I nearly lost my life.

I never would have thought:
I would be married to a great man (who can put up with me!)
I wouldn’t have children yet (adoption)
I would have a mini-farm!

I was talking to some of my co-workers about how I feel that 1/3 of my life is over.  People thought I was being negative when I said this, but quite the contrary.  I still have so many great years to go!  While in the hospital in 2009 with H1N1 and coming out of the coma, I decided that I’d live life to the fullest and ENJOY everything I could.  I believe I have done just that.  If I were to die tomorrow, I am perfectly content with the way my life turned out and everything I experienced, good and bad.

I have just one surviving grandparent, my father’s mother.  She is 80 and I see how lively she is.  I really attribute that to how active she is, how much she reads, and her love of education.  She was a teacher way back when and was hit by a drunk driver when my father was a child.  It crushed my grandmother’s skull and she had to re-learn how to walk, talk, and do everything.  This woman is NOT a vegetarian, nor is she necessarily thin.  I’ve never seen her diet or exercise a day in her life (go grandma!)  The only other medical issue she’s had was this year having breast cancer (which is currently in remission.)

I want to be just like my grandmother when I get older.  I want to be as active, fun, loving, and bright as she is.   I want to get and stay healthy, learn as much as I can, enjoy the love of my life and my family, possibly have children, and keep up with the “farm.”  If God sees fit, that may be for another 60-100 more years.

Age is just a number.  I want to LIVE.


Todd and I don’t own a mixer.  I will admit, I’ve been jealous when I see those nice mixers on people’s counters and I want one soooooo badly.  I started saving up my weekly allowances to purchase one, but Todd brought up a great point.

When I make bread, dough, cookies, or anything that would require a mixer, it literally takes me 3 minutes to stir the ingredients together.  Todd also mentioned that the mixer would be ONE MORE THING to clean.

So, I’ve done without.  And to be honest, it hasn’t really been an issue.  I used to have one way back when for when I made mashed potatoes (a hand-mixer.  Not the KitchenAide $200 one that I want,) but we seemed to have lost it in the move to our current home.  How do we make mashed potatoes?  With a hand masher.  Todd likes his taters with some clumps in it, and if he is willing to mash them by hand, who am I to complain?

Even though Todd is the KING of kitchen utensils and gadgets, we do not have a mixer, and we are OK with it.

I Think I Was Meant to be A Farm Girl

Growing up, we’ve always lived in the suburbs.  My father always had a good job, and we lived really well (even though we lived frugally.)  My father grew up on a farm, and as a kid, he would not only milk the cows for the farm his father worked on, but also a neighbor’s farm in upstate New York. 

My mother’s brother (my Uncle) worked and lived on a farm.  It was not his farm, but he worked on the farm and lived in housing provided by the owner.  I loved going over to their house and pet the cows, feed them, give them love.   Also the kittens and the baby pigs (that I later found out was on our kitchen table!)  I hated the smell of the farm, but I loved the farm.

Now, as an adult,  I really think I was meant to be a farm-girl.  No, I don’t like country music (but I must say, I don’t detest it as much as I used to,) but I like the idea of a mini-farm. 

We never had a garden growing up.  So where did my desire of having a garden come from?  Why do I feel like I want to “live off the land” as much as possible?  I’ve gone as far as to thinking about a goat for milk, but I had to draw the line somewhere. Actually, Todd drew that line for me.  I’m happy that he is allowing me to get chicks for eggs. 

Todd is mainly a “burb” boy.  He grew up on a cookie-cutter street in a decent part of town.  But there were houses close to one another, but had a ½ acre of land.  We are kind of in the middle where we live now.  We live in a township.  We own two of the three houses on our dead-end street with no houses across the street from us.  Everything we need is “in town,” about 2 miles away.  Not too far out, but far enough out that it is peaceful, wooded, and animal-friendly.  I have the best of both worlds.    

Monday, February 7, 2011


Recently, I called Tractor Supply (TSC as some call it) to see if they had a firm date on when we can expect the chicks to come to our local store.  The last time I called (about a month ago,) I was informed that they come after the bunnies…as if that is helpful!  I figured they’d be at the stores around Easter.  Boy, was I wrong!

When I called February 1st, I was told that they could be in the stores within the next 3-4 weeks!  I was asked to call them back mid-February to get a firm date.  So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I then took a look online to see when the hatcheries are starting to ship their chicks, and it looks like they are starting February 7th!  I cant believe it.  It seems like yesterday Todd gave me the go-ahead to get chicks, and now, it is about time to get them.  They will be a welcome addition to “the farm.” 

We are trying to find a way to house them outside when they are bigger.  Todd is trying to use what we have so that these chicks don’t cost us an arm and a leg.  The main reason for wanting the chicks is for the eggs, help with the bugs, and fertilizer.

I found an awesome house for them on for $499.  That is a BIT too much in my opinion (by like $450!)  Todd said he could make it for $150.  I still decided that was a bit much for 3 chicks (it would take over a year and a half to recoop the cost of housing the chicks.) The way I see it, when they are of laying age, we would get 3 eggs a day, or 21 eggs a week. I am basing everything off of 3 chicks providing $1.68 worth of eggs a week.  I know that when it gets cold, that will not happen. 

We have a very large metal dog crate that my mom gave us when she gave me Squiggy as a piglet.  That crate has been a sleeping area for Squiggy (until he got too big for it,) Lana, and the kittens.  Todd is going to recycle the crate and make it into a hen house.  It will be moveable, it will be 2 floors, have a roof and an area for the hens to lay their eggs.  I have seen the scamatics, and it looks really cool.  I cant wait to see the finished project.  I hate to use the crate that cost my mom over $100, but we don’t really need it. 

I have been thinking about names.  I kind of like – Chick, A, and Dee. So I can say, “Here chickadee!”  I know…so corny.

As I have mentioned about three thousand times, I really want this year’s gifts to people to be homemade gifts.  I know my father would LOVE a dozen or two of REAL eggs.  He grew up on a farm and there is nothing like fresh eggs. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cheap Date!

At the end of January, Todd and I decided to go to lunch and a movie as a cheap date.  We love cheap dates, but this one probably took the cake.

We decided we wanted to go see the new Narnia movie.  Well, it wasn’t exactly “new,” but it was at the dollar theater (which is usually $1.50/person.)  When we got there, we found out that the tickets were only $1/each! 

We brought pop and a bag of popcorn from home in a purse and snacked while watching the movie.

Afterwards, we went to the Olive Garden for the all you can eat soup & salad (our favorite.)  The bill for lunch: $14…and we had a gift card from my grandmother.  So, we paid nothing for lunch.  The gift card is for $50, so we have enough money to go out 2 more times and get the soup and salad. 

I absolutely love cheap dates.  We had a great time talking at dinner about places we’ve been and where we want to travel.  It was just an all-around good time. 

What do you do for cheap dates?

Renewable Resource

A coworker of mine was showing me a new desktop photo he had on his computer here at work.  It was of bamboo.  It reminded me of the bamboo that grew in Washington DC at the zoo for the panda bears. 

My coworker and I talked about it for a little while, about how fast bamboo grows and how resilient it is in even cold climates. 

I was talking to Todd over the weekend about my conversation with Mike.  I informed Todd that I found several different varieties of bamboo that would grow in our cold climate.  I informed him that I think Squiggy may really like to gnaw on bamboo, and I thought we should grow a couple of canes just for him.  Bamboo makes excellent barriers between neighbors as well, which we have been contemplating with the neighbors behind us.

Todd brought up a great point about bamboo, asking if one could dry it out and burn it.  Low and behold, you CAN!  So, after we are done with the wood we have (we have at least 2-3 years worth of wood that still needs to be split for use,) we are most likely going to grow our own bamboo.  It grows so quickly, it should easily be able to heat our home in the winter-time.

The advantages we can think of are: 
  • Takes up less space
  • Continues to grow after cut down (renewable)
  • Easier to handle (cutting & carrying)
  • No splinters!
  • A lot less weight!

So, within the next year or two after a little more research, we will decide what variety we’d like to get and start growing , cutting and putting it away to dry and then burn.

IF this works out, this would save us $150-200/cord of wood a year.
Plus, it will save some trees, which I am all for.