Sunday, November 30, 2008

November Wrap Up & December Goals

November was a challenge with Christmas coming up, gifts to buy or make and tabs and emissions for my car. I took the hand crafted challenge and so far have purchased one ready made gift.

As far as income goes we maintained our employer income, had no other income and our assets fell by $414.44 due to the economy. Planned meals out this month were one and we went WAY over that. We spent more on coffee but it was a lower percentage of our fun money expense. The Landmark Forum will be placed on hold for now.

The real bummer was not being able to get the home equity loan not because we didn't qualify but because of the lower value of our condo. I updated our networth badge and compromised with the value as listed by Zillow. We also made the tough decision to temporarily stop our 401(k) contributions so we could have extra money per month to pay on our debt.

My no spend days goal for the month originally was 12. Then I changed it to 6 and had 4. I bought a few Christmas decorations with fun money but am trying really hard to decorate with what I have or find an inexpensive alternative. Been getting inspiration from this great site called JunkMarket. The stocking for my niece, flannel PJ's for my nephew and the flannel PJ bottom's for my SK's are the only handcrafted items I finished this month.

Groceries spent $451.06 which was a reduction over last month but still 12% over budget. I spent $394.77 on fun money which was an increase over last month and 3% over budget. Eating out $133.07, coffee $111.91, entertainment $42 and crafts $31.61. All increases over last month. My budget for gifts this month was $250 and I spent $174.57 $26.67 of which was non hand crafted.

Goal was minimum payments on the credit cards ($235) and loans ($705) as there was no extra money in the budget for more than that due to Christmas gifts, Thanksgiving and my dad's birthday.

Total debt balance fell to $37, 684.50 which is 66% of available credit. Credit card balances total $ 10,525.95 and loan balances total $27,158.55.

Goals for December

Complete all hand crafted and buy all store bought Christmas gifts by December 22nd.
  • Flannel quilt & premade vegan dinner for brother
  • Fingerless gloves for SS
  • Tabi socks for SD
  • Scarf for mom
  • ??? for dad
  • ??? for sister & bil (already bought them one thing)
  • ??? for nephew (already made flannel PJ's)
  • ??? for niece (already made Christmas stocking)
  • XXX & XXX for the hubs (he reads this blog so I can't say here - sorry honey)
Have 6 no spend days
Walk 4 times
Work out 8 times
Maintian EI and not worry about OI for this month

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cause I've Been Busy

Been darn busy at work so not much blogging going on cause when I'm home I am sleeping or crafting. Got the list below from here.

The things I have done are in BOLD! My comments and things I plan on doing are in ITALIC. Things I don’t plan on doing ever are just straight regular font!

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity I have given to charity, but not more than I could afford
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis have seen one up close and personal but not held
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child In 8th grade we adopted a child from another country and I spent some of my allowance on it
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (Hasn’t everyone???)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught myself a new language I'm trying
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (never again - no one wants to hear that)
42. Seen Old Faithful Geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant

Thank God for four day weekends!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I came up with an idea for a quilt for my brother last year. It reminds me of Tetris.

A Russian video game where you take tetrominoes and put them together kind of like a puzzle to eliminate rows and keep going in the game.

The blocks I have in the quilt are based on these tetrominoes. Each color of six in the quilt has it's own unique block shape. Orange is a 4 x 4 square, Grey is a 4 x 8 rectangle, Blue is a 4 x 12 rectangle, Burgundy is a 4 x 8 x 4 L shape, Green is a 4 x 4 square and Brown is an 8 x 12 rectangle. I used excel to manipulate the different pieces to create a quilt top. The finished size will be 84 x 112 inches.

The photo above is a screen shot of my excel template. The colors are kind of off but you get the general idea of what the finished result will look like. The cool thing about this pattern is the upper left corner and the bottom right corner are mirror images and the upper right corner and the bottom left corner are mirror images. When you get to the middle it still makes a pretty cool pattern. It could even be called organized chaos.

This is the best I could do color wise with my digital camera. The orange is not as bright as it is in real life but the rest of the colors are pretty accurate. I spent last night cutting out all the pieces (need a tad bit more orange, green and brown as I miscalculated a bit but that will not be a problem or a large expense). I plan on backing this quilt with a large flannel sheet. This is going to be more like a blanket than a puffy quilt but it's flannel so will be nice and warm. This project I don't expect to be completed by the end of this month.

I think I'm still on track for completing seven hand crafted Christmas gifts this month. I need to wait until the SK's go back to their mom tomorrow to do three others. They will be at their mom's for the Thanksgiving weekend so I have a lot of time to get crafty that weekend.

I did buy some fabric yesterday to make the hubs something for Christmas. Unfortunately I can't post photos or even say what it will be cause he reads my blog. I will have to kick him out of the house when I am ready to make it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Apple Cup 2008

I am very happy. It was an OK game until the last twenty seconds when we tied it up and then we won in double OT!

Cougs 16 Huskies 13

Go Cougs!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Healthy Body = Healthy Finances

Thank you to Notes From the Frugal Trenches for this post today. It really echos one of the areas I need to focus on better. Five things you should do every day to get or stay healthy. Part of my focus is not just fiscal health but my actual health.

1. Fruits/Veggies - I have been much better about getting fruit/veggies in my daily diet. Five servings every day is still a challenge some days but with payday tomorrow I can make a grocery list and make certain I have enough to get me through the day every day.

2. Water - Some days I am good at getting enough water and other days not so much. I am trying to cut back on the caffeine consumption. We have been pretty good about Starbucks only twice a week and bringing our coffee from home.

3. Exercise - The bain of my existence right now which is so sad because I used to really love it. I have an elliptical machine at home and some really great tapes and DVD's. I have resolved to do something twice a week along with my Sunday walks with my friend. I'd really like to start rock climbing but want to lose a bit of weight first.

4. Sleep - Yet another area where I do not excel. I normally go to bed around midnight and even though my alarm is set for six I usually sleep in until six-thirty. Really need to shoot for minimally seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

5. Social interaction - I used to be good at this. Although lately sometimes it's hard for me to go out of my comfort zone and meet new people. I never used to be that way but have become some what of a recluse in the last several years. Need to get out more and need to have date night with the hubs more too.

There you have it. I know if I put these five simple things in to practice my health and spirit will certainly benefit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Goal Update

Well, not a lot of hand crafting has been going on here at Chez Paisley Penguin. Tonight I got SS's flannel PJ bottoms almost complete. I just need to add the drawstring to the waist and close up the opening. Sorry for the color here. It has a slight olive green tinge but it's really a pearl grey background. I loved the intricate detail on the skulls.

SD's flannel PJ bottoms are another story. I fell in love with this cute fabric (not certain why I have a skull theme going on). There was only two yards on the bolt and I needed 2 3/4 yards for the PJ pattern I have. I wish I could find my awesome PJ bottom pattern that calls for two yards and only one pattern piece. It's kind of a rocker chick look I think.

I'm disappointed but not deterred. I am going to stop at the fabric store tomorrow night and see if I am lucky enough to find more. If not, I will get a plain color (pink, grey or black) and make cuffs from the patterned fabric. I might even buy a plain t-shirt and cut out one of the skulls to iron on to it. Hmmmmm.......

So that is 2 3/4 of the 7 hand crafted projects I wanted to have completed this month. I expect to have both PJ bottoms finished tomorrow night and I will cast on for SS's fingerless gloves tomorrow at work on my lunch break. The fingerless gloves are the men's version of a pair I have made at least three times. They knit up pretty quickly so I should be OK. That just means two other hand crafted projects to get done this month. The clock is ticking!

On to the no spend days front. Sadly I have a total of three of the twelve I wanted to have. Part of the problem is I waited to tell the hubs my idea and we didn't do the best about communicating when we needed things to combine shopping trips and leave more days open for no spend. We have ten days left until the end of the month and I don't imagine nine of them will be no spend. So, I am changing my goal for this month to a total of six no spend days. That leaves three more by the end of the month. If I can squeeze more in I will. Next month I should be much better at this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Monday

It's Monday here in the greater Seattle area and it's soooo foggy! Not much hand crafting over the weekend cause the SK's were down and my next projects lined up are for them. Now that they are back at their mom's I can get some stuff for them done. Posting to come soon!

The big news in the house of Paisley Penguin is I have been blogerviewed! Go on over to FruGal's blog where you can check out an interview with me. Yep, yours truly. FruGal is one of my absolute favorite PF blogs. She and Holly of Holly Is Stopping Shopping (another personal favorite) post an interview each Monday morning so be certain to check back with them regularily.

Have lovely Monday!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

ETSY is the new Couture

If you have never browsed or shopped at ETSY and are interested in purchasing quality hand crafted items from people who care about what they make you should really check it out!

My friend known as Betty Boogie (posted about her yesterday) sent me a link to an ETSY shop that is completely amazing! I am a huge fan of vintage. Specifically the late 20's to early 50's era. And I love hats!

Terry Graziano designs her own hats using "a combination of draping, flat patterning, and machine and hand sewing". She uses designer mill-end surplus fabrics normally that would just end up in a landfill so she's eco friendly and all of her designs have five ways to wear them.

My favorite in her collection are "Incognito" - blue tweed chenille and "Confidante" - chocolate multi pinstripe.

Click on her ETSY site here or her blog here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Betty Boogie's Oddventure

Happy weekend to everyone. Sorry I have been absent for a few days. Catching up on my sleep from staying up and making PJ's for my nephew for Christmas and going to a midnight movie will do that to a person.

Sorry to say I was a little disappointed with Quantum of Solace. The direction they took this movie was out of character for Bond. The villain was really forgettable and they used some of those shaky film cuts used in Bourne Supremacy which I do not like. Cool flat surface computer graphics and at least this Bond girl has a brain. An homage to Goldfinger as well. The hubs wants to give it another try in the theater so I probably will see it again.

Not much to report in the hand crafted arena today because of the previous mentioned lack of sleep. I need to do some serious grocery shopping and a little clean up around the house. I did FINALLY get more yarn for Lady E Thursday and have been knitting on her. She's almost done and I discovered I bought more yarn than I probably needed. That's OK, the colors are ones my mom likes so she is getting a scarf for Christmas styled like my wrap but not as wide.

Funny thing is I may have to block Lady E at my parents house since I have no place here I can do that without it getting trampled and covered in cat or dog hair.

Not much else going on today. The hubs is finally getting his overdue b-day gift. Ingredients for making beer - dark, dark beer. I can't work on flannel PJ's for the SK's cause they are here so that will be next week. I do have a two sweaters I picked up at the thrift store to make the SK's new stockings. These are not a surprise so I can work on them with them here.

Tonight I'm headed over to Betty Boogie's (name changed to protect the crafty) for Taco's, boardgames and cards. "Betty" and I are friends IRL. She's really in to vintage (like me) and has costumed several local play productions. She's a stay at home mom of four who is currently living in the dissaray of a home remodel. When you get a chance check out her new blog which she will link to her ETSY site.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And The Awards Goes To....

This will be a quick post as I need to go nap so I can get up and go see the 12:01 showing of Quantum of Solace (Kerry we are still going with you in two weeks!). It doesn't help that I was up last night (this morning) until 2:00 sewing PJ's. I was wired and just could not sleep. Love me some James Bond!

Mrs. B over at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom gave me my first ever blog award! Thanks Mrs. B!. If you have never checked her out you should click on over. She's tons of fun!

Now to pass it along. This is really hard cause there are so many good blogs out there that I read every day. Drum roll please...

First of all The Hubs over at A Kilted Travel Agent. I love the way he writes and he's the bestest most supportive husband in the whole world!

Weirdy Pants over at Unfinished Object. This is one of the first knitting blogs I started reading and one of my inspirations for starting a blog that has evolved in to what it is today. She's a total crack up, shares my interest in Geocashing and her dog Rufus is truly one of the cutest on this planet!

Benita over at Chez Larsson who has the most organized tiniest home I have ever seen! She's a constant inspiration for me to declutter and organize my home in the most beautiful and personal way possible.

Roland an expat from Britain living in the US over at Militant Ginger who is such a clever writer! I totally enjoy reading him as he always puts things in perspective for me. Weather he is talking about the new Knight Rider, his love affair with a very American car or the most recent political campaign.

FruGal over at Totally Money an Australian living in London who is managing to pay for her wedding without using debt.

That was fun and hard cause I could have kept going. If you want to get a taste of who I read every day just take a gander at my blog roll to the right. Off to bed!

Monkey PJ's

As part of my November goals I want to make seven hand crafted Christmas Gifts. These flannel PJ's are for my three year old nephew (sorry for the photo - it's really hard to take a shot of these).

My brother in law calls him monkey. I totally fell in love with this fabric. Here is a detailed shot.

Two hand crafted projects down. Five to go this month.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paying It Forward

The hubs and I decided to get breakfast and feed our coffee addiction at our local Starbucks this morning. When we got to the window to pay we discovered the car in front of us had paid for our order. We decided to pay it forward and paid for the car behind us. I hope this went on for some time this morning. This has happened to us at least three times in this particular Starbucks. I say good Starbucks karma! We even ended up saving some money because the car behind us order totaled $7 less than we would have spent.

Thanks Mr. green mini van with the drivers window that didn't work!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Christmas Stocking Project

As promised here are photos of my Christmas stocking for my three month old niece (she will be almost five months old at Christmas). It's made from a sweater of wool, cashmere & angora - sooooooooooooo soft and the color is a nice creamy white as opposed to a harsh white. I found the sweater at a thrift store for $5 and spent $2.99 on the pom pom trim of which I have a little left over to use on something else.

I traced an existing stocking I had for a pattern and then pinned it to the front of the sweater making certain the center cable was smack in the middle of the stocking vertically. I then stitched with my sewing machine around the stocking pattern to hold the knit stitches in place so when I cut I would not lose the integrity of the fabric. For those of you that don't know this is called steeking.

I wanted to include the collar of the sweater as the cuff of the stocking so I stopped cutting at the top of the pattern, removed the pattern and then pinned it to the back. I traced around it with stitches again and then and went up and over the shoulder ending up even with the stitches from the front.

Once the entire piece was cut out I flipped it inside out and stitched it together. After that it was as simple as hand stitching the pom pom fringe to the inside of the collar bottom and using a little extra sweater fabric for a loop which I hand stitched inside.

I wish it could stay on my mantle. May have to find some more yummy sweaters for my house. The bonus - arm warmers for me!

I'm such a little devil. My grandma (pictured as a little girl circa 1920 in the photo on my mantle) would be so proud! Be sure to stop back throughout the Holiday season to see what else I come up with.

What are you all making for people this year?

November Goals Update

So far this month I have had three no spend days. Today would have been number four but I completely forgot to eat breakfast before leaving for work. Normally I have packets of oatmeal in my desk but no such luck today. Since I need some groceries I will get those tonight so I can get at least three more no spend days in this week.

If you have not tried the Portabello mushroom Piadini at Starbucks - go, go now and try it!

Last night I completed the first of my hand crafted gifts. I took a wool/angora/cashmere sweater I found at the thrift store and turned it in to a stocking for my niece. I fell asleep last night before I could upload photos so will post those tonight.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Where is Lady E?

My last post regarding Lady E I had run out of yarn and still had ten tiers (twenty rows) to go plus the end row of half triangles and fringe.

On the first weekend of September I went down to my LYS (local yarn shop) to pick up three more skeins of my Noro Kuryon. They were out of my colorway and said they would order some for me.

It still has not come in yet. I'm getting antsy to finish it since the weather is so cruddy now.

I am headed to the LYS today to hopefuly pick up more to work on my wrap but also need a skein of funky self striping yarn to make these (photo of book cover is item) Tabi socks for SD for Christmas.

*****Update - just got back from LYS and they still don't have my yarn! Apparently this kind of yarn takes a while to get. I wish I would have known that. Still would not have prevented me from ordering more but I would be more prepared to wait it out.

Didn't find anything I liked for SD's Tabi socks so will look on Knit Picks.

As for the rest of the day. I'm going to turn thrift store sweaters in to Christmas stockings! Hope to update with photos tomorrow!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Christmas On A Budget

After the depressing news from Wednesday. I am determined to not only make a dent in our credit card debt but also celebrate Christmas as best I can.

I went through the budget for the month. After all of our bills and minimum payments on the credit cards and loans, food, gas money and additional expenses I came up with $250 for Christmas gifts or supplies to make gifts and $200 extra to put on our debt. There is a little wiggle room in a few areas but all in all I feel pretty darn good about it.

Any money I don't spend from a bucket of budgeted money I will snowflake which will go towards debt. So far I have snowflaked $7 as my gas budget for the week was $35. We filled up this morning and it was $28 (God bless $2.29 a gallon!). Since the hubs and I carpool we only have to fill up one car a week and his car occasionally as we use it on the weekends.

I have resorted to being completely domestic. My gifts this year will be mainly hand crafted or of the baked variety. On the rare occasion I need to purchase a gift I will do my best to be frugal and thoughtful at the same time.

Between knitting, sewing and baking I have gifts in mind for most family members. Check back throughout the month to see my photos of what I make. If you want to join the handcrafted revolution just click on the badge at the top right of my blog or click here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November Goals' Update

I posted my November goals the other day and sadly one of them is not achievable in the way I want it to be.

We went to our credit union to apply for a home equity loan. We were approved. Our condo is worth approximately $32 K less than I thought. I used Zillow as my guideline realizing that it may be slightly off base. I didn't think it would be off to the tune of $32K less!!!!!

This calls for plan B. Which is really plan A before I thought of plan B (home equity loan). Back to the drawing board of throwing as much money as I can at my debt while still being able to eat and pay for gas to get to work. I think I found an additional $400 per month though. The hubs and I are going to temporarily stop contributing to our 401(k), get rid of our third cell phone (the house phone) and reduce our Netflix subscription down to 2 at a time instead of 4 at a time.

Based on this new schedule I should have the following paid off...

Credit Cards
Macy's - Jan 2009
Chase - May 2009
Capital One - Oct 2009
BMW - Feb 2010

Personal Loan - Oct 2010
Car Loan - Jan 2011
Hubs Student Loan - Mar 2011

Roughly two and a half years. The real kicker for me is the credit cards. I will feel so much better once those are gone. This does not include any sort of saving which I'm certain will happen along the way - somehow. I am more inspired than ever to find alternative sources of income to make this time line shrink.

On a positive note - already two no spend days this month and one day in the elliptical. After I run up to my neighbors and eat dinner there will be a second day on the elliptical.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Votes Are In...

Congratulations Barack Obama.

Let's get to work because it is time for a change.


Remember to vote today. Starbucks is giving out coffee to all who have a precious "I Voted" sticker!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November Goals

The leaves are falling off the trees like mad and it's darn cold out there. Welcome to November!

I had posted my October Roundup & November Goals on Friday and decided after I posted it was too long and involved. At the end of this month I will make my wrap up a lot more simplistic. I decided as part of this I would start out November with my goals.

Pay off personal loan and credit card debt with home equity loan.
We went to our credit union yesterday and will find out tomorrow if we are approved and for how much. There are many advantages to this type of loan. We will reduce our minimum payments per month which will allow us to decide what to do with the money we keep every month as well as make it easier to pay extra on debt. We will reduce the amount of interest we are paying and we can write off a portion of our payments on our taxes.

Lose five pounds.
I have been sedentary for a while with the exception of my Sunday morning walks. Five pounds is probably easily achievable and I could go higher but just really don't want to set myself up for failure. If I lose more then cool beans. I plan to achieve this by using my elliptical trainer four times a week and continuing my Sunday morning walks. I will also make an effort to include more fruits and veggies in my daily diet and drink more water.

Drink coffee out only twice per week.
Coffee is one of my weaknesses. I think because coffee is a treat for me and it's relatively inexpensive at the time of purchase. Going and getting coffee every day or at least several times a week really adds up. I usually get coffee with my friend Sunday morning after my walks so that will be one of the days which leaves another day during the week for coffee out. The rest of the time the hubs and I will be utilizing our french press and espresso machine.

Complete seven hand crafted or purchased gifts for Christmas.
Thank you for your comments on my post about Holiday Gift Stress. This has definitely given me some food for thought as far as what I plan to buy or make for Christmas gifts this year. I know part of my problem is the guilt I feel over disappointing family members with something not from their list. I made some headway last night creating scrap book calendar pages for my niece and nephews scrap books.

Have twelve no spend days this month.
I'm taking an idea from Holly Is Stopping Shopping and FruGal and tracking my no spend days. I am guaranteed at least four this week since I have bought groceries and paid all my bills and have nothing due until Friday when the hubs and I get paid.

Manage extras ahead of time.
There are a few extras this month as we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the states. My sister is hosting and I have voluntered to bring green bean casserole and squash to feed approximately 17 people. This should not be too bad on my grocery budget for the month.

It's also my dad's birthday which we always celebrate at Thanksgiving and which means we need to purchase a gift. We know what we are getting but need to wait until payday.

My niece is also being baptized the weekend of Thanksgiving so that means two trips up to my sister's house in one weekend. Hopefully that won't hurt too bad in the gas budget, especially since gas has come down and costs about $15 less to fill up my tank. We don't have the hubs kids this year for Turkey day so we will save some gas we would normally have spent driving to get them.

I need to pay the tabs for my car this month but first I need to take it through emissions. We will do that this weekend to get it over and done with.

Finally, the new James Bond film Quantum of Solace comes out this month. I don't know about you but I am sucker for this particular English gentleman. There will be money in the entertainment budget to go see it. The question will be if we go at midnight on the night it opens?

Have a great day!

Holiday Gift Stress

Are any of you out there already feeling the holiday stress yet? I saw a countdown on someone's blog today and there are 54 days until Christmas. This means four paychecks to be able to buy Christmas gifts. I have not started shopping yet.

I sent my family an email three weeks ago to get gift ideas and I have not had a reply except a phone call from my sister cause my mom thought I was mad or depressed based on my email. No clue what that was about.

This lack of communication happens every year and I get completely frustrated and stressed out because I wait for a list from people so I can get something they would genuinely like. I set money aside to buy gifts and sometimes end up having to go shopping the last week before the holiday. It makes me absolutely nuts.

I am pretty strapped for cash this year and have come up with gift ideas for all of my family members that I can make. I think handcrafted items (knit and sewn) would be great for Christmas and certainly just as thoughtful as a book or DVD or CD on someones wish list. For some inexplicable reason though, this makes me feel guilty. I worry they won't like it and want to return it - sorry no gift receipt. I am really uncertain where this is coming from but I feel incredibly guilty.

For the last several years the meaning of Christmas for me has really become lost. I hate how commercial it has become. I hate how obligated I am made to feel to buy something for someone because of the holiday. I hate having those thoughts and feelings. I truly don't know what to do about it.

What do all of you give for gifts? Handcrafted only? A combination? Do you still exchange gifts with your parents and siblings? Help!