Saturday, May 31, 2008

Memorial Weekend

Memorial weekend did not start out to be busy. When it comes to my three day weekends I prefer to have some down time. We managed to pack it full and wonder at the end of Monday where our time went.

I was able to get a little gardening done Saturday morning as I had bought some plants a few weeks previous and they needed to get in to the ground. The photo below is the only real garden I have. It's about eight feet wide by two feet deep. That's just fine with me. Right now it's mostly green but I have Lilac, Trumpet Vine, Crocosmia, Nicotiana, Snapdragon (the only color there right now), Poppies, Mexican Hat Coneflower, Delphinium, Salpiglossis, Iris and Hosta. The colors are mostly orange and purple. The dirt space in front of the garden will be filled in with pavers later this summer.

The below photo is of my Crocosmia from last summer (bright orange and yellow flowers). I LOVE this stuff! It fills in really nicely, has the most wonderful flowers (they look like small Bird of Paradise) and come back every year. My friend Vanessa was kind enough to give me a TON of it for my yard.

To the right of my garden I have a clematis planted that is trained up a trellis and along the bottom of the deck above our patio. I don't have photos from last year but the flower is a lavender color and smells like vanilla. I used to have some Jasmine planted in a pot here but it was not doing well. Might need to get a new one.

Planted in the hanging basket is Nemesia (orange flower on top) and Lobelia (which will be a dark blue/purple). Last year a bird had a nest in here and the hanging basket was full of potato vine. I really like potato vine but it didn't do well here.


Here is another Lilac I have in a pot. It produced two flowers this year. After it is done blooming I plan to prune it back to encourage more flowers for next year. I am leaving this one in a pot because I want to take it with me when we move. I LOVE white lilacs! When we move I would really like to have an all white garden somewhere on my property.


I bought temporary hair dye for the kids a couple weeks ago. Alex saved hers to wear on her birthday. It's hard to tell in this photo but her bangs are blue. We had a BBQ for Alex birthday Saturday night.

My hubby is like the guy from Home Improvement. Never use a match when you can use a blowtorch to light birthday candles!

Sunday we went to the annual NW Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center. It truly brings out the most interesting people. You have never seen more dreadlocks, leg hair (on women) and piercings in your life. Also, you can't help but smell a little cannabis now and again.

One of the main reasons for going to Folklife this year, aside from people watching and eating yummy food which is always a good time, was to buy myself another pair of Indian shoes. I bought a pair four years ago and had planned to buy a new pair of shoes since last fall when my old ones finally wore out. I tried fixing them by sewing them back together but it didn't work. So, even though this is considered "extra spending" it was budgeted for and I WILL get my monies worth out of them. This gal has a stand where she sells items from India (she travels there once a year) and does Henna tattoos. LOVE these shoes!


Here is one of the interesting things about Folklife. I'm not certain what this woman was supposed to be (do you remember the cartoon The Bugaloos?). I suspect she was a mime who had drank too much coffee. She would stand completely still for a minute then do erratic movements much like a mime, never speaking at all.

Below is our friend Bagpiper Don. My hubby and I have known him since highschool, hubby played bagpipes with him at one time and he played at our wedding. He can play lot's of typical highland tunes, some eastern sounding tunes and even Thunderstruck by ACDC.

Here is Don with a member of the NW Jr. Pipe Band. He was awesome and had only been playing bagpipes for seven months.

Monday was spent at the annual Cruizin to Colby car show in Everett. Below is a Triumph TR6. Hubby and I bought a car similar to this we were going to restore. It sat in my parents driveway for two years so we sold it and decided to wait and restore a car when we had a driveway/garage of our own to work on it in. This one is even painted the color we want to do ours, British Racing Green.

An exceptional woody wagon.

A Woody Studebaker like I have never seen before. My dad has restored three in his lifetime and this body style is new to me.


Love cool hood ornaments from the 40's!



This car was interesting and one of the most imaginative at the show. You can't tell well from this photo but it had a spider web in the roof and the gear shift was Frankenstein's head.

After seeing the cars we took Alex to Old Navy on a shopping spree for clothes for her birthday. Then we had dinner with friends.

Where did our weekend go?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Strawberry Pancakes & Guiness

Yet another idea I am stealing from Crazy Aunt Purl. Love her! Funny thing, I was talking about just this very thing over the Memorial Day weekend with some friends.

Hubby and I both got paid last week. I paid all of the bills that are due (some even ahead of the due date) and after the birthday BBQ celebration for my bonus daughter (she turned 14 on Friday) we have $156 until June 6. That is for food, gas and other stuff. Who am I kidding? There will be no other stuff for the next two weeks or longer!

So, tonight we went to Costco and Fred Meyer for groceries (BTW - I HATE FRED MEYER!). We spent $90 (of our $156) and that should last us for two weeks. Bulk is a good thing when you need to stretch your dollars. (Who says you can't have pancakes for dinner!) We don't have the kids again until we get paid and the first week of June we are taking time off to finish our bedroom so we won't be doing a lot of driving.

Our moratorium on non-essential spending will mean other than bills our left over money will be spent on food, gas, pet supplies and throwing the rest at our debt. That means no Starbucks, that means no little tchotkes for the house, that means no magazines, that means no books and that means no yarn.

The one caveat we have is movies. Hubby and I are real movie freaks. We have already deducted in our budget money to see the movies we really want to see this summer. We are limiting ourselves to purchasing one DVD per month. To take that completely away would be cruel and inhumane. I do have a second caveat. I will purchase clothing IF and only if it is a basic I need for my wardrobe.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Indiana Jones Movie

Caution - Spoiler Alert!

I went and saw the new Indy movie Tuesday night. Actually 12:01 Wednesday morning. I am a huge Indy fan and at one point in my life I wanted to be the female version of him. I was really looking forward to this film and - I felt a little let down.

As an action film it was pretty good. I would probably rate it an 8. As a story it was OK. The writing was not up to par compared to the other films. I won't go as far as saying it was worse than the Temple of Doom. I rank it third in the series of four films. My all time favorite is The Last Crusade followed closely by Raiders.

First off, the fact that Karen Allen reprised her role as Marion Ravenwood was to me a dead giveaway that Shia LaBeouf was her son with Indy. That was cool. The way Indy found out was kind of comical in a way. I thought Karen was going to be great. When she is first introduced in the film she is as feisty as ever but soon it becomes clear she doesn't have all of her marbles in one bag. At one point in the film she practically drives off a cliff an she's acting more like it's a Sunday drive in the country. A cameo would have been fine for the reprisal of her role - seriously.

Indy survives a nuclear test in New Mexico by hiding in a lead lined refrigerator that "miraculously" survives the blast that several square miles of buildings don't. The acting in the beginning is somewhat disjointed and stiff. Eventually Harry does get in to stride as Indy.

The most amazing and truly horrific thing to me is the fact that the writers and producers think it's a good idea to combine an ancient South American "city of gold" with Extraterrestrial life. I do realize the crystal skulls in the film are probably related to these crystal skulls. At least they didn't deviate from the lore of the original crystal skulls. My hubby says it should have been named Indiana Jones and the Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

All in all, I didn't hate it. I think it just missed the mark. It was good enough to be number one at the box office. They could redeem themselves by making a fabulous fifth film. :0)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Debt Update & Financial Goals

I finally was able to sit down with my hubby tonight and go over our finances - including debt. I had reported last week approximate totals. I do plan to keep tabs in the side bar of my goals. These will change and become more defined as time goes on.

Official balances and financial goals...

Credit card debt $1,678.02 - June 2008.
Car loan $7,941.93 - June 2009.
Personal loan $16,568.93 - June 2010
Hubby's student loan $5,362.62 - December 2010.
Six Months basic living expenses in savings $18,000 - December 2011.

This is based on living simply with no major catastrophes. They seem like a long way away and right now I feel this is going to be supremely hard. Three and a half years of this could really be good for us too. The rest of May and the entire month of June will be a really good test I think. We tend to spend more money on the weekends so our challenge is to find fun things to do that are little or no cost. We also tend to spend more on groceries than budgeted. We will watch this closely and the hope is that will help not only our wallet but also our waistlines.

We have a few obstacles in our way such as a planned move to a new house next year. This is unavoidable and in order to do this we have to finish some projects we started in our current condo. We could extend that for two years instead of one but that will be decided later on.

This does not take in to account a home business my hubby and I want to start to generate more cash flow to pay off debt even faster. We are motivated to not only get the debt paid off but to work for ourselves and quit our jobs entirely. We have three criteria for leaving our current jobs; getting the debt paid off (not including our house), having six months basic living expenses put away and bring in what we are currently earning at a job.

We have six years until my hubby's youngest is out of high school. At that point we do plan to move to another part of the country where the cost of living and housing is less expensive. His kids live with us part time so a move is really not in the cards at this time. This is why we will not worry too much about paying our house off because when we move we will need less of a house which should cost us less.

Keep watching for updates!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dream Vacations

I stole this idea from Crazy Aunt Purl as her post on May 15 really hit a note with me. I LOVE to travel and sadly have not taken many trips (that required an airplane) in several years. Most of our summer fun involves packing the car and heading to Eastern WA to visit my father in law. We always enjoy our visits there and the weather is usually awesome in the summer but every once in a while I feel the need to really get away. The last time I was on a plane was a trip to Southern California with my hubby, bonus kids and in laws. The in law part was NOT fun!

Anyway, I LOVE to day dream about when my hubby and I are able to take some time off and travel - internationally. We do have a plan to do that before we are too old to enjoy it. Kind of a pre retirement. Have you read that book 1000 Places to See Before You Die?

1. Italy & Greece - One of my dreams is to take a year off and roam western Europe. All of it. This is certainly a big chunk of the world but a year would give me plenty of time to see what I want to see. In the event I can't take that year the first countries I want to visit in Western Europe would be Italy and Greece. I am fascinated by all of the ancient things about both of those countries. Not to mention seeing the canals of Venice, the hills of Tuscany, the Cinquetere and the Acropolis and Delphi.

2. England, Scotland & Ireland - My hubby is of Scottish ancestry and we would both love to see the country and visit Edinburgh Castle and kiss the Blarney stone. I would even try haggis which is just a bunch of liver, onion and oatmeal. Just visiting London could take a month in itself. I recently watched a travel show on the UK and didn't even realize Harrod's started as a market. In fact, they have a huge food market inside.

3. Czech Republic, Croatia & Turkey - Most of my heritage is Czech and I really would love to see the country. Croatia and Turkey are beautiful and often passed over for other more popular European countries on the Mediterranean. There is something romantic about these misunderstood countries I think.

4. - Russia & Tibet- My hubby has a co-worker who speaks fluent Russian and just took a job over there. I know there are a lot of rules as far as visiting that country and it's "always" covered in snow. I do think there is so much interesting history there.

5. India & Cambodia - I love Indian food and culture and hope to one day visit. So much has changed in this global economy. I would also love to see the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

6. Egypt, Morroco & Tunisia - I have always been fascinated by the Pharaoh's, traditions and pyramid's of Egypt. One of my favorite films is Death on the Nile which was originally a book by Agatha Christie. It just seems so romantic to me to float down the Nile river in the late 1920's.

There are oh so many more places I want to see like Argentina, Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Spain, Iceland Eastern Canada & Sweden. I hope to see as much as I can!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Debt

Money is a hard thing to deal with. It seems there are so many emotions attached to money. I used to be really bad with money and my credit was in the trash. I have pulled myself out of that, have reestablished good credit and own a home.

I want to completely pay my debt off.

My hubby and I both have the same goals of not only being debt free (including our home) but to quit our jobs and travel and simplify our lives. We are both in our late thirties and my hubby's kids will graduate from high school within the next six years.


First of all, my hubby and I have debt of $31,950.09. This does not include our interest only mortgage which we chose because we knew the condo we bought we would only be living in for two years. We live in the greater Seattle area and housing is astronomical! This really was the only way for us to get in to the housing market. We need to move not because we want to trade up but because we live in a two bedroom condo and my hubby's kids have to share a bedroom when they are here. That would be fine if they were of the same sex.........yeah not so much fun for them.

Our debt breaks down to the following...

  • $1,380.04 credit cards
  • $8,141.93 car loan
  • $5,429.19 hubby student loan
  • $16,998.93 personal loan
I have worked and reworked a budget (and will probably rework it again) and have been pretty aggressive in finding ways to throw as much money as possible at our debt.

  • Reduced our monthly cable/internet and cell phone bills
  • Committed to only going to Starbucks twice a week (sounds a little crazy but giving that daily treat up completely will take time)
  • "Found" extra money from our paychecks to redirect towards debt.
  • Tax incentive check that should be coming any day.
We do have some things that have to be done that can't be helped.

  • Home improvement projects that need to be completed before we can move spring 09.
  • Dental bills/visits that will take away from extra debt reduction.

If we can stick to a pretty aggressive debt reduction plan we can have our car paid off in twelve months. Just in time to sell our condo and move. We are only doing that because we REALLY need three bedrooms. If we could stay at our condo we would.

This does not include savings and any sort of unknown expense we may come up against. Both my hubby and I have been contributing to our 401(k)s (mine was just started so is small) and at the moment I don't know how much those are at.

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bathroom - Close to Being Done

Mother's Day weekend my hubby tore out our old shower doors that I despised (so hard to clean) and installed our new curved shower rod and rain shower head. I absolutely LOVE it!

Below a before shot of the old shower doors. The wooden cabinet over the tub I am getting rid of in favor of some stainless shelves for extra towels. The shelf on the left I am also taking down in favor of more hooks for towels.


Oops! A few tiles came off with the removal of the framing.


New tiles to replace the old.



My new rain shower head! I took a shower under it this morning and it was so very relaxing!


Sans new curtain.


I stopped at the fabric store on the way home from work tonight to pick up grommet's to turn the chenille fabric I bought Saturday in to a shower curtain.


The walls will be repainted in blue and once we have replaced the shelves mentioned above the bathroom will be done and checked off our list! Updates to come soon!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!


Usually I go walking with a friend Sunday mornings. This particular Sunday we both opted for sleeping in vs. getting out and walking. After waking up I played a round of Croquet with my family in the backyard.


Yes, in our PJ's.


Next year I am adding Mimosas to the menu!

Breakfast was Beignet's, cappucinno's, chocolate covered strawberries and bananas.

The original plan was to go to high tea in the afternoon but hubby is going to take me to Buca de Beppo for a nice Italian family style dinner.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Four Years....

My hubby and I had our four year anniversary last month. It's been a roller coaster of a ride for the past seven years we have been together.

Imagine my surprise when out one night while seeing a really cool band from Vancouver BC at a local bar I ran in to an old boyfriend from high school. Within three weeks that old boyfriend became my fiance' and we were roommates. We knew pretty much right away we were meant to be together and those pesky years in between high school and when we met up again were just a big learning experience.


Above is my sister, me and my brother.

Fast forward three years to our wedding day April 24, 2004. A perfectly sunny not too hot day. I had THE DRESS and he, his friends and members of my immediate family on the male side were all wearing kilts! The ceremony was held at an almost 100 year old building. We had a highland dancer, we had a bagpiper (did I mention the men in kilts?) we had high tea service for over 200 and a plaid cake! It was madness I tell you. The best kind of madness you can have and one of the best days of my life.



Above is Chris (hubby) and our friend Don who played the bagpipes at our wedding. He even played Thunder Struck by ACDC!


From left back row: my sister, Heather (I have known for over 20 years), Michaela, me, Paula & Shannon. Front row: Emily (Heather's daughter) and Alex (my bonus daughter).

From left: Matt (my brother in law), Brian (we have both known over 20 years), my brother, Chris (my hubby), Marc & Ken. Connor (my bonus son) is in the front row.

After the ceremony Chris and I got in to a 40's era Cadillac limousine and headed to a fabulous hotel for the night. We quickly changed and climbed back in to the car as we were headed to one of our favorite Celtic inspired stomping grounds. There we met up with much of the wedding party (men still in kilts) and partied until the break of dawn. It was tremendous fun and a night certainly to remember. I highly recommend winding down like that with family and friends. Especially after tying the knot!


I love this car!

Our plaid cake. The lady who made it took my scarf and copied it on to really thin sugar paper. It's totally edible!

After four years of being married I finally have my wedding photos on my computer via CD (thanks to a dear friend). I thought I would post some of my favorite photos here. I have tons more I will be posing to my flickr account later.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Audience Participation Please!

I want to join the circus!

A couple weeks ago my hubby and I went to see the Cirque du Soleil production of Corteo for our anniversary. It was amazing! I have seen four other Cirque shows but this one is my absolute favorite! I took a couple "contraband" photos before I was told I couldn't. Here is one below of the set.


This is kind of a wonky photo. The part that looks like light blue curtains is actually painted on to a opaque screen. This was hanging in front of the stage.



Here is me. There was not a lot of elbow room so hubby was pretty cramped taking this photo. I wish I had more to share as the sets and costumes were amazing!