Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Perfection: Needs vs Wants

One of my favorite blogs I read every day is Crazy Aunt Purl. I found her book at Barnes & Noble and never laughed so hard. Then I found her blog and continued to laugh. She often writes about decluttering and paying off debt even though her blog started out about life as a divorced female with lots of cats who found knitting - and wine. Her post from yesterday really hit home as lately so many of her posts do.

I often wonder how much I have put off because timing or something was just not perfect. I recently read the book Not Buying It which the author took a pretty drastic step in not buying anything that wasn't necessary for an entire year. She saved a lot of money, went a little crazy at times but came out of that year adjusting her thoughts from being a consumer to being a citizen. More conscious of the world around her and really getting in touch with herself.

All of these things have led me to really listen and think about my needs vs. my wants. I'm really looking at my world around me and I have abundance even when I feel I don't. I get to eat a variety of foods every day. I get to choose from a variety of clothing to wear every day (even when I have "nothing" to wear). I get to choose from dozens of books, movies or craft projects with which to fill my time. I have a wonderful husband and two bonus kids to enjoy. Not to mention my dog and cat. We have two cars, two TV's, two DVD players.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I canceled cable and only watched (and read) biographies for a year. If the only surfing I allowed myself to do was limited to one hour per day and only to websites that would enlighten me. If the only food I ate was organic and non processed. If all I drank was water. Sounds kind of limiting and at the same time really simple and free.

I seem to be getting off track and rambling but these are things I think about.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Birthday

So, today is my birthday. I won't come right out and say my age but I am three years away from forty. That number just freaks me out. I don't feel almost forty. For gosh sakes, I don't even feel like I'm in my thirties most of the time.

I do have to say that both of my parents look younger than their true ages. People always guess my age as less than I really am. Apparently I have a baby face. That is cool with me.

I don't know what it is about forty that has me all weirded out. After all, sixty is the new forty right?


** Please note - this is not my birthday cake (I wish) I found the photo on google images but may try to duplicate it one day. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tourists In Our Own Town

Last weekend was the 35th anniversary of the death of Bruce Lee. We happen to live north of Seattle where Bruce (and his son Brandon) are buried. So, off we went to Lakeview cemetery.

The area where they are buried is right off the road and right next to a gentleman who was interred in 1895. There are several other gravestones of various ages around them with a bench directly across from their headstones. Lake Washington is the view to the East (not pictured).

Apparently that day we had just missed the History channel and there were still quite a few people there when we arrived. One guy had even set up a video camera and was reading a monologue in to it.

Next to the cemetery is Volunteer Park which houses a conservatory and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. I walked by people doing impromptu theater in the park as I made my way to the conservatory. I found Waldo inside.


This bell was in the "Waldo Room". I imagine it's from some ancient temple in Asia.

The orchid house is first as you walk in the door. I love Orchids but don't have the right space in my home for one. I tried to keep one but sadly she didn't make it.




















These photos were taken pretty close as there is wire mesh in front of them so you can't touch them. I stuck the lens of my camera between the bars.
























One day I do hope to have a greenhouse of my own. As far back as I can remember I have fantasized about having a glassed in conservatory attached to my home. A room where I can sit and read from a hammock and feel like I am in some tropical location. Maybe even have a few birds and fountain or afternoon tea.

Conservatories are one of the "romantic" Victorian things I have never let go of idealizing. It represents to me a different time and laid back more gentrified pace of life.



The movie Greencard with Gerard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell perfectly describes the more modern use of a Greenhouse I would choose to adapt.
Andy's character moves in to an apartment in New York with a conservatory. The montage of scenes where she takes it from old and worn out to a beautiful oasis is the coolest part of the movie for me.






























Below is a photo of the ceiling in the entry. Most of the glass is clear with the exception of these pieces.

The conservatory has a carnivorous plant collection they feed every Saturday. One thing I learned about these type of plants. You can create a little lagoon area near your patio and plant these and they are just as good as citronella candles or bug lights. They will keep your patio bug free.

The size of some of the plants are huge! You almost feel you are in a tropical jungle at times. I don't remember what temperature they keep the different rooms in but there is definitely a mugginess to the air.




















If I lived in an area of the country that was warmer I would probably have some of these plants in my garden. I do have a trumpet vine and hope that it lasts the winter.
































Friday, July 25, 2008

Thrill Seeking Vacations

I want to travel so badly. There are places I have wanted to see for years especially in Europe. Recently I have started of list of specific places to go. Kind of like my own "1000 Places To See Before You Die".

Just some of places on my list...

Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls Zambezi

Pamukkale in Turkey

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Red Square in Moscow

Tell me where you want to go.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Obsession

Last night my hubby commented I am obsessing over our finances. I "run the numbers" all the time hoping that what we bring in per month could possibly make the debt go down any faster. Problem is I just really want our debt gone and the reality is it's going to take a while - years in our present situation.

Now until the end of this year we are focusing on two loans (personal and car) that we have and paying minimums on all the rest of the debt while still beefing up our savings. The reason for this is our minimum payments are the largets on these two loans. Once we get them paid off that is that will free up much more money per month we can put on our credit card debt. I am willing to risk a little higher interest rate on the credit cards to have these two loans gone forever.

After the new year we will stop putting money in savings for now and add that money to our debt repayment of our two big loans. That should let us have our car paid off next spring and our personal loan paid off the following fall. That also means no buying a house next summer. We will be waiting until summer 2010. Really dissapointed in that. We didn't really want to own the condo more than two years.

If I spent as much time obsessing about a home business as I do about our finances I would probably be a lot further in that department. For now I plan to just follow my budget and focus on getting a home business up and running as well as weight loss and decluttering. Any extra money brought in by a home business (plus snowflaking and online surveys) will be put towards debt.

I read the 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris once but plan on going back through it to get a home business started. If you have not read the book you can get it on his website for around $12. If you can't wait for that you can get it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon or your favorite book store.

Here's to Lifestyle Design!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Advertising Is Everywhere

I have noticed that we as a society are constantly bombarded with advertising. Weather it's on the radio, TV, the internet, in our mailbox or commuting (on the bus, train or in your car). I think we get so bombarded with it that we don't really "see" it. I firmly believe this is one of the reasons I am in debt. I think I "need" all of these things!

I look around my house and can count the many items that were impulse buys or something I felt I needed but really it was a want disguised as a need.


Every time my hubby and I decide to not buy any unnecesary item it seems so hard. For example, we had planned to go the Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games this weekend. We missed the last four years and really wanted to go. If you include admission fee, parking, gas, food, etc. we are too poor to go. We started justifying that it was my birthday and we needed to celebrate etc.

That kind of attitude is how we got where we are right now. We are definately going to celebrate but closer to home and for a lot less money we have (and are not borrowing from savings or using a credit card for).

Here's to not giving in to advertising!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Pink Baby Bootie

I so LOVE these baby booties! From now on any time a friend or family member is preggers I will be making these for them. So very easy and so very cute!



I pretty much completed this half of a pair waiting for the movie to start Saturday night. We got to the drive in at 6:30 (movie didn't start until almost 10:00) cause we were not certain what the line for Dark Knight would be like. Glad we got there when we did. We were only four cars back from the front of the line and it was getting longer by the minute! The movie was pretty good. I slept through Wall-E cause it was so late.


Anyway, this set of booties is for a gal who works at the Starbucks my friend Mindy and I go to every Sunday after our walk. Nicole just had a baby girl who is a week old. The gals at Starbucks are total sweethearts! I should be able to get the other bootie done in plenty of time for next Sunday's walk.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Christmas In July

I went to my local nursery today to pick up some plants for the yard. They did not have a couple things I was looking for but I came home with some other beautiful stuff.

I had planted some hostas under a tree in my backyard. I thought the space was pretty shaded, I know it had been in the past before the groundskeepers cut off a low growing tree limb. Anyway, even though these hostas were labeled as "sun tolerant" they clearly were not. I have moved them to a pot in a shadier part of the yard. Below is my "before" photos of them. I am hoping with more shade they will come back to life.


Today it was a red and green theme for buying plants. I replaced my hostas from above with a bunch of red and green colored plants. Most all of these are colorful without flowers which I used to hate.

Saturn Coleus

Kiwi Fern Coleus

Rhubarb

"Red Baron" Celosia (also known as Cockscomb)

Gold Spikemoss (groundcover)

I also bought some potato vine that I still need to get planted. But tonight hubby and I are headed to the drive in to see a double feature of The Dark Knight and Wall-E. Click the link here to find a drive in theater in your area!

PS. Last night (early this morning) I finished the first Firehouse glove!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Firehouse Glove Update

After not working on these gloves since I started them in March I decided to pick them up last night. I had forgotten how many rows I had already done in the palm area. I made my best guess as to where I had left off and completed the increase rows under the thumb. You can kind of see in the photo below where my thumb is and the waste yarn knotted below to hold the stitches for the thumb.

Below is a detail of the "cuff" for my gloves. There will be four buttons holding it together (the grey will button over the red). These gloves are kind of a modern take on an old fashion woman's glove.

I have actually completed the pinky and part of the ring finger since this photo was taken last night. A far cry from photos of the last time I posted about these lovelies. If you click here you can view my previous post from March and from there you can click on the link to knitpicks where I found the yarn and pattern plus see a photo of the finished product.

I noticed that the finished gloves are exactly the same stripe-wise on each of the fingers. I am not too worried about that. In fact, I am going to embrace the miss matched stripes I am certain to encounter on my gloves. I think I prefer it that way too.
Kind of like the "common myth which has developed that all Amish quilts contain a deliberate flaw because to make something perfect would be to challenge God".

These Firehouse Gloves (named after the yarn) will be perfect this coming winter!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Poppies...

Remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz where they are running through the Poppy fields and suddenly get really tired? As a kid I never understood why they got so tired and well, trippy running through a field of flowers.


As I got older and more knowing to the ways of the world I came to understand that you could get Opium from Poppies. That just blew my mind that a flower so pretty (and one of my favorites) could have narcotic properties. It all made sense that particular scene from a favorite childhood movie.

My poppies are starting to bloom. I had thought I bought something that would be a little more orange red but I am excited none the less.


Quite often I see a really great variety of red poppies growing in groups along the road near my house. It makes me want to keep a little trowel in my car so one afternoon I could just stop, jump out of my car, dig some up and bring them home to my garden. Maybe one day I will....

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Side Note

We interrupt this blog to pause for station identification.

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Recently I started getting comments from someone who is basically spamming me. I have since turned on the approve comments feature. I am usually pretty good about monitoring my blog throughout the day and I hope this will be a temporary measure and this has not run you all off. My hope is that I can turn off the approval of comments within a week or so.

99.9% of you commenters out there are perfectly lovely, nice, wonderful, warm and fuzzy people and I am glad you visit me! One of the most satisfying things about having this blog is all of you out there who read me and are geniunely interested in my life and happenings. It really means a lot to me and I thank you for tuning in. :)

I was not going to address my rude poster before because I thought it was a one time thing. Hubby actually posted about it one day on his blog.

To the rude poster. If you feel that you don't get personal satisfaction out of reading my blog, please don't come here and leave rude comments. I'm certain there are other blogs out there you would much rather spend your time reading.

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Back to our regular broadcast.

I had mentioned yesterday I wanted to do something to celebrate my 100th post. I am thinking about doing a giveaway but need to figure out what to give away. Hopefully by this weekend I will know what it will be. More to come but until then have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

100th Post: The Evolution of a Blog

Wow, I can't believe it's been 100 posts already. This is actually quite an accomplishment for me. I have always tried to keep personal journals but never really succeeded. This is the best version of a personal journal I could ever want to keep. It's such a great feeling to get things down "on paper" at least virtually. The fact this is such a public forum is really a bonus as I have made new internet friends and received helpful advice and tips within the blogging community.

My blog has slowly evolved in to what it is today and will probably evolve again. As humans, we tend to do that. If you have found me recently, welcome. If you have been with me for a while, I'm glad to have kept your interest.

Currently I am consumed with personal finance, most specifically debt reduction and increasing our assets/net worth. Becoming debt free and living off a home business income is a goal my husband and I share. This also includes getting out of our condo and in to a house. Being "green" and how to reduce the presence of clutter and showcase hubby's collections.

I love crafts and sew, quilt, knit, and scrapbook. I also have interests in gardening, cooking, geocashing, biking, sailing and camping. Trying to find time for my hobbies is hard for me to do but I am getting better at it. More traveling, especially internationally as well as trying rock climbing and canoeing is in my future too! Hubby shares many of these interests with me which is truly a great thing.

Another longer term goal of ours is to move to a different part of the country that stays warmer more of the year (can you say the south east?) and build our dream house on a lake.

Some things about me you may find interesting.....

*I dated my hubby in highschool.
*I took private pilate lessons and have three hours of air time in a small plane.
*In high school I went to Washington DC to perform in the inauguration parade for the first President Bush.
*I have my nose pierced and one tattoo (can you guess where and of what?).
*My first car was a 1967 mustang my dad bought in1967.
*Last summer (07) I costumed and was an executive producer of an independent Zombie movie.
* A friend of mine won the National Spelling Bee when we were in the eighth grade.

To celebrate my 100th post I may do something crazy like change my layout or give something away. Not certain yet but stay tuned. For now I will leave you with a shot of my clematis that are just starting to bloom.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Virtual Clutter

This last Saturday when I had the house all to my self I did something I have been meaning to do for a while. The reason I have not done it is because it was never on a "to do" list and it's not visually cluttering up personal space in my home.

I'm talking about virtual clutter. You know what that is. Bookmarks of websites saved with no rhyme, reason or system of organization in place. Multiple folders that serve the same purpose. Desktop icons you never have used or never use anymore. Our home computer has five logins for our five family members. Everyone has their own drive to store personal information, bookmarks, etc. We also have a shared folder where any of us can access. I have discovered I have folders in my personal drive that have the same information as a shared drive.

So, Saturday I spent some time organizing my and some shared folders, photos and bookmarks. It's nice to get on the computer and go directly to what I need. Mind you I don't have it all done. I am seriously trying to curb my perfectionist tendency of not doing anything because I don't have the time to do it all right now the first time. A little bit over the course of a week and it will be done.

***Staple Update***

I went to the doctor today and they took out one of the staples but were not completely satisfied in the healing process. They want me to go back on Thursday to finish getting them out. They itch like crazy but they tell me that is a sign of healing. Ahhhh - I want to scratch my head so bad!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

How Do You All Do It?

It seems that lately our personal finances are ALWAYS on my mind. Being debt free is a MAJOR focus of mine. I have adopted philosophies and revamped our personal BUDGET many times over the last several months.

One of my concerns for our budget is miscellaneous items such as gifts (birthdays, showers, Christmas, etc.), home improvements, car & pet expenses, going to a movie, co-pays or just miscellaneous extras that pop up. I have tentatively set aside $100 per month for that but it almost doesn't seem like enough. I do realize that you can't cover everything at once and this is making the most of our situation without relying on credit cards (on paper anyway).

We still have home improvement projects to complete but thankfully they are
diminished after the big master bedroom expense of June. We still plan to sell our condo and buy a house within the next two years (if we didn't absolutely need another bedroom we would stay put). The current housing market and mortgage crisis freak me out but hopefully by the time we are ready to put our hat in the ring again things will have calmed down.

There is still the rest of July to go and we could have done better finance wise. My birthday is at the end of the month and I am hoping to go to Anthony's Beach Cafe and sit out on the patio for dinner. Next month I have a baby shower and my mom's birthday. I save money on cards by making them myself.

I know there is an end in sight and the cool thing is once our debt is paid off we can live on my income alone (with the exception of child support) which means we can save almost all of hubby's income. We are hoping eventually any home business we start will not only fast track our payoff but support us as well.

Hubby and I are trying to find as many ways as possible to make extra money every month. Some of our ideas include online surveys (I started that through Vindale Research), yard sale, free and decluttered items that can be Criagslisted. Snowflaking budgeted money not spent and setting up a home business. Google addsense (which I have signed up for but still need to figure out).

We also would like to find a credit card with air miles and 0% interest on roll over balances. When we are debt free the goal would be to pay ALL of our monthly expenses with a credit card (for the air miles) and pay it off every month with our paychecks.

So, what is a good percentage to earmark for gifts/home improvements? How do you bring in extra money? Have any of you had success transferring your credit card balances to 0% cards to help with the interest expense? Do any of those cards offer air miles? What do you all out there in blogville do?

I'm going to go knit. Have a great day! :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"The Plan"

Confessions of a Hoarder asked for more details on the plan I was following. If you click the link here you can read about it better than I can explain it in a blog. Small Town City Girl read up on it and made certain it was not a scam or anything like that. She is doing great on it and having wonderful success. You go girl!

What appealed to me about the plan was the use of natural less non processed foods, fresh fruits and veggies. I really did give it the good ole college try but was just not feeling very energetic on this plan. Certainly starting it after receiving a major trauma to my head may not have been the best idea and could have contributed to my less energetic state. I'm glad it works for my friend.

I may try out the book Good Calories, Bad Calories that Confessions recommended to me. Sounds like you get to eat more grains than the other plan I was on. To a certain extent I want to eat as fresh as possible but my grocery money only goes so far. For now I plan on sticking to a Weight Watchers mentality until I am fully healed.

For today hubby has gone to the movies with a friend to finally see Iron Man which I really didn't want to see. I think I am going to go play in my garden. I have some weeds to pull, want to move some plants around and plant a few more things. It's sunny out and not too warm so I think some time outside is just what the Dr. ordered! :)

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Follow Up To Mlach

I think I should have waited until I was fully healed from my head wound to start my new eating plan. I felt pretty weak and tired this morning. In fact, I left work early, came home and ate some food and then took a four hour nap. I feel MUCH better. I don't want to leave Small Town City Girl in the lurch and will follow an adjusted plan. Until my head is fully heeled I need to be not so restricted. My attitude has been adjusted (with a little help from caffeine ) and I am back to my old self. Sorry for the bummer post yesterday.

Thank you for your support Honey and Small Town City Girl!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mlach

I have started a new diet. This is day three of my new diet. I was super thrilled to start this new diet. I am sick of this new diet.

I'm not entirely certain if the problem lies with the fact that I fell and cracked my head open Sunday and am just not back to my old self or if this program is just not for me or if I am just a cheapskate who doesn't want to spend the money on the food (it's expensive). Hubby and Small Town City Girl are doing it with me. STCG actually started this plan two weeks ago. You go eleven days on the plan and three days off for a total of fourteen days. She lost 9 pounds so of course I wanted to jump on that band wagon.

I could change my mind by the time my eleven days are up. I could decide to combine this plan with something else like Weight Watchers. You know, this plan for two weeks then a week of WW and repeat the three week cycle (or two weeks of WW for a four week cycle). In any event, I am not a ray of sunshine today.

I WANT CHOCOLATE!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Trash The Dress

I came across this article on unclutterer today that really has me thinking. I have been married a little over four years and my wedding dress has been in it's bag either hanging in my closet or stashed under my bed since then. I did at one time attempt to sell it on Criagslist with no luck. Maybe because the best man spilled champagne all down the front and I have never had it cleaned? Hmmm.

It's funny too because there were elements of my wedding that were not very traditional and my wedding dress was going to be one of those things. I wanted to wear a floor length white taffeta skirt with a small train and an incredible white angora sweater. I had also planned on making a white taffeta wrap lined with plaid to match my hubby's kilt. All of the bridesmaids were going to wear something similar (in color). Problem was I could not find a great angora sweater for me OR my bridesmaids.

Enter the wedding dress - which I really did love. I had wanted to keep a part of the dress and re purpose it in to something and until recently I could not think of what. The dress has the greatest trim detail on the skirt. That is the part I love and want to preserve somehow.


I have a round dining table and thought I might use the trim to go around the edge as a tablecloth topper for more formal occasions (of which I don't have many). I really like the base of my table (with the exception of the color - we are going to strip and re stain it soon) and I would want to show it off.

Before that though I think it would be totally fun to have photos of me doing totally mundane or weird things in my wedding dress. Like mowing the yard or washing dishes or walking the dog. This just makes me laugh and I think it would be a fun weekend project. I'm just weird that way. Email me with your crazy ideas for my photos!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Win Free Stuff

Almost Frugal is giving away three gift cards to celebrate the launch of her new blog. Click on the link here to go check it out!

Not much posting for me today I'm afraid. I am recovering from a fall I took yesterday (can you say seven staples in my noggin? - just call me Grace) AND I started a new diet today that my friend started two weeks ago with great results. Hope you are all having a safe and fun day!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Knitting for Babies is Fun!

Thursday I had some time to kill between getting off early for the holiday weekend and picking up hubby from work. We carpool and he had to stay until five. I stopped in at the Hilltop Yarn shop and picked up some yummy stuff to make these booties (if you scroll down the page a bit on the right you can click to get a PDF of the free pattern) for a friends baby boy due in September.


The blue I chose looks a lot more green in the above photo. My friend really liked them and they were super simple and quick to knit up. I started them around 4 o'clock Thursday afternoon and by 3 o'clock the next day I was sewing on the buttons (that was not non-stop knitting mind you).

I have started a second pair for my sister as she is due in the beginning of August. She won't tell me the baby's sex but I suspect a boy. If it's a girl I will have to make her pink ones and give the second set I started to my friend as well.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th!

We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls. ~Robert J. McCracken


Have a safe and fun Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Garden Pics

A couple of my plants are coming in to bloom. A little late this year. Most of the flowering plants in my little garden are hues of orange and purple. The exception is this Nicotiana. It's a cool light green color.

I have a couple of these lilies but so far only one is blooming. It's nestled in my Crocosmia which bloom about the same color orange.

I had hoped my feathered tenants from last year would be back. This little bird made a nest in one of my hanging baskets last spring. I love how she is peeking out at me from behind the Potato Vine.

I plan to get some of the weeds out of my garden this weekend. Plant some tomatoes, basil and peppers, do some sewing and knitting and relax a bunch.