Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gift of the year

With our Christmas vacation on the ten day forecast, I thought it would be a good idea to share an under $20 gift idea that also supports a cause close to our hearts. We lost Grandpa Doug to Alzheimer's in 2006 and Chris' Grandma received her diagnosis in August. When a colleague of mine told me about ForgetMeNotInk a year ago, I jumped all over it!

ForgetMeNotInk was founded by a fellow bank marketer, Jennifer Dilly, in 2008 after losing her mother too early to Alzheimer's. With the mission of "Writing out Alzheimer's," Jennifer and ForgetMeNotInk have embraced her mother's hobby of writing letters and designed note cards to encourage you to write the ones you love.

"Fifteen printed notes. One for every occasion. Includes 15 cards, one for each month, plus a birthday, a thank you, and a just because. Comes in three leather pouch colors: Rose, Blush and Teal."

It's a gift that truly keeps giving.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fresh Oysters and Darts

Garren (my brother) called on Saturday to ask me if I liked oysters...he wants to bring fresh oysters from Florida to MI for Christmas and thought we could cook them "out at the shop" while we throw some darts.

What a thoughtful and adventurous brother I have. Tragically, I try not to eat things that remind me of buggers or are the texture of an egg white. It's my quirk I suppose. Chris on the other hand really likes fresh oysters and the sinus-clearing fresh horseradish cocktail sauce concoction to eat with them. Can't wait to see how they turn out! I will cross my fingers that nobody gets sick from oysters that have been cooked, stored or transported improperly. Not that I don't trust my brother...I'm just sayin'.

In the meantime, I will brush up on my dart skills and begin liver training this week. If you know my family and/or the river families, you will understand.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

The extra pay day

Back in the "olden days" I would get really excited for the two months a year that paid me an extra time. It always felt like it was "free"money! You know, the kind you haven't already spent!!

Today I have decided that it would be a lot easier if employers would just pay us twice a month and call it even.

This morning we are putting the finishing touches on our 2010 budget and are really excited about the plan and how we have been able to scale back so much during my unemployment. It's pretty remarkable that we have increased savings, decreased debt while 66% of my income was lost.

So over our budgeted for, brewed at home, Starbucks coffee we realized that our monthly budget took Chris' salary and divided by 12. Which, in theory, is correct. What I forgot is that in most months he is only paid twice and the above mentioned math "counts" those extra pays. Ugh.

Back to the drawing board. This afternoon we will work on the revised budget assuming we are only paid twice a month. In January and July when those "extra" paydays happen, it will just be money in the bank...literally!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Sitting here, minding my own business when all of a sudden this pesky (and ballsy) squirrel appeared as if from nowhere just to torment the beagle, Abby! When you hear the coughing, that's her version of a bark...

Where do you start?

Starting a blog is harder than it looks. This is my fourth attempt at doing so. I want to tell you about my brother and the shenanigans that made me who I am today. I want you to know about Chris, my husband, and how lucky I am to have found him. I want to write about my unemployment drama, the job search that followed and the lessons I learned along the way. I also want to include my dogs, Abby and Reuger, and occasionally some amazing dinner I may have made or a shopping experience that was over the top!

But how I do I get it all out, in order, coherently and in bite-sized chunks so you will read it? Maybe a blog a day until I catch up? Maybe an outline to keep me on track? Great ideas, but they go against the very nature of a blog...it should be spontaneous and fun to read...dissertations, rants and outlines are not fun to read!

So, here's what I have decided...I am going to write like I have been doing so all along. That means it will be an abrupt start, but I promise that all the details will flush out over time...just stick with me.

Since I have been unemployed for 7 months, 11 days and moved across the country twice during that time, we are following a pretty strict budget. By strict I mean, "being financially responsible in order to simultaneously save money and pay off debt while allowing for a certain about of fun and frivolousness." Not a bad mission statement if I do say so myself!

Twice a week I get my ShopItToMe email. Have you signed up? It's awesome. You plug in your sizes (bra, shoe, pant, dress, top, sweater, etc), your favorite brands and stores and the items you are most interested in (bras, jeans, shoes, handbags, whatever!!) and the markdown that will motivate you to buy. When your stuff goes on sale for the markdown you designate (I said 50% off, I think) and they have inventory in your size, you get an email with links directly to those items! It's awesome! Not that I have bought anything (see above mission statement) but I have seen some pretty amazing deals on Kate Spade bags and Ann Taylor clothes...and a ton of other things! It's like having a free virtual personal shopper!