Monday, December 5, 2011

December already? LORDY

Needless to say, life has been a little hectic. Work has kept me pretty busy, and now we are all scrambling to get things finished before the end of the year. Some good news to report:

Penny, our cat, is doing great! She has become a big part of our lives. She is also very cuddly:

In October, Jennings and I did our third year with Pink Box Burlesque's Rocky Horror Picture Show Masquerade Ball, and had a blast. We got special "Head Transylvanian" badges because we're so cool. It's been more than a month since the show, and I still find myself getting the songs and callbacks stuck in my head! Also, if you want to learn more about PBB and what they do, go here. They are a fun and talented group!

In November, my sister got engaged. You can read all about it in her fancy blog - which is actually a scrapbooking blog, so you should check it out for that kind of fancy information also. Later in the month we had a fun surprise and got to go to the Iron Bowl, courtesy of our awesome friends the Cosgroves. And although my team did not come out as the victor, it was still a great experience:

So now here we are, and it is December. Who knows what the last few weeks of the year will hold for us!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The "American" Way

Those of you who know me, know that I shy away from speaking my views about politically sensitive issues because I am often unable to get my viewpoint across without appearing too emotional or weak. Perhaps it is time that I become someone with a louder voice, because today I am saddened at the swift and sudden change in our state.

An Alabama federal judge upheld many of the provisions in HB-56, the state bill on immigration that was modeled after the infamous Arizona immigration law. The Arizona law was later blocked by their state supreme court. In Alabama, the new law went into effect this week.

I was already opposed to many parts of the law, but the one that struck me as the most evasive was the provision about requiring schools to report the immigration status of their students to the state. The law is written in such a way that legally, there can be no action taken by the state based on this information. But, true to form, people were not waiting around to find out what would really happen:

AP - Hispanic Students vanish from Alabama schools

I am most saddened that America is becoming a culture of fear. Instead of looking for a solution to the immigration "problem" all people want to do is pass the buck. Hasn't history shown that education is a means to getting people out of poverty, increasing the skilled workforce, and ultimately creating better communities? I do not pretend to have an answer for how to solve the immigration issue. But I do think it is ironic that a nation of immigrants (except for those American Indians in my audience) is now turning its back on immigrants who would become U.S. citizens if they were only given the chance. They come here to work, to support their families, and to have a good life, just like so many people have done throughout our history. I have even poll numbers that say immigrants would be willing to pay taxes even if they weren't considered citizens. So why are we doing this? Like I said, it is all about fear. And as for immigration itself, I think most people are misinformed about what it does to our economy:

So I don't know what I am really trying to say, except that I am tired of my state leading the way in ignorance.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Another end of the month post - with pictures!

Once again, an entire month has about passed us by and I am feeling the need to collect my thoughts and share them with internet wasteland.

So August was the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. We finally moved into our new place and became settled for the first time since the storm. We have had our kitty, Penny, for a month now, and we are both incredibly attached to her already. Also, this past weekend, we threw a big fun party to say thanks to everyone for helping us out this year. It was a success, and really great to have everyone come and hang out. Thanks again, everybody!

Since I didn't get much sleep last night, and I should probably be working, the rest of this post will be all photos. Enjoy!

This is the new house! It's cute and I am planning on developing a green thumb and plant some flowers and bushes in the front yard.

This is the living room with our new couches. Our other furniture was way too big for the living room, so we lucked up on this set at The Attic furniture consignment in Tuscaloosa.

This is our deck. Jennings has a big new fancy grill, and I really like sitting at the table under the umbrella. It's hot outside!

Kitchen - it is not very big, but we have made it super functional by adding these open shelves and also these nifty things above the stove:

Next is the dining room. As you can see, Penny has made herself right at home. Oh to be a kitty and sleep all day. Sigh.

We also have a fireplace - how cool!

Next is the guest bedroom and the mater bedroom - forgive my sloppy job on making up our bed! At least the guest bed is nice?

Also, I don't really think people care, but here are the bathrooms:

So now that you've seen the house, consider this everyone;s virtual invitation to come visit. =)

Friday, July 29, 2011

July is almost over!

So apparently, I am only good at blogging once a month, toward the end of the month. Oh well!

So yes, July is almost over, and that means that Jennings and I are just inches away from moving into this cute little place:

It is actually only a block from where we are staying now, so I have been torturing myself by driving by it and wishing that there was a moving truck in the driveway. But, by next weekend, we can finally be settled! Ever since the tornado, having to move and stay in temporary places has really made me appreciate having my own space and being settled. Without that stability, I feel frazzled most of the time. I'm really ready to kick that feeling to the curb.

In other news, thanks to our friend Dominic, we are also adding a new addition to our family:

We think she is about 4 months old, and they've been calling her LuLu. I need to spend some more time with her before I decide if we're keeping that name or not. I've been bugging Jennings about getting a kitten for way too long now, so I'm sure he'll be glad to hear me shut up about that. Ha!

The end of July has also brought the end of my Summer Slimdown program, which is actually sad, because I had so much fun with the ladies in my group. There may be a chance to do some personal training with our trainer from the program, so I hope that works out. But I am happy to report the following:
  • 5 pounds lost! yippee!
Before the program I did:
  • 7.5 laps around the track in 12 minutes
  • 30 push-ups in one minute
  • 37 crunches in one minute
After the program I did:
  • 8.25 laps around the track in 12 minutes
  • 38 push ups in 1 minute
  • 49 crunches in one minute
Also, I lost some inches on my waist, hips, and chest, and even got my BMI down by 2 points! So all of this tells me that even though the scale number is not that much different, I have made real changes on my overall fitness, and that is all a girl could ask for. I'm really looking forward to continuing down this track to see where I can go. Yay!

And, last but not least - there are only a few more days to take orders for houndstooth cookie baskets. My plan was to make enough baskets to donate $250 to the UA Acts of Kindness Fund, and I am only THREE BASKETS AWAY from that. So do yourself a favor, and go check it all out on the Etsy shop or on the Blue Bird Baskets blog. You can thank me later.

Happy Friday everyone!

Friday, June 24, 2011

June is almost over!

And where have I been, you may ask?

Still here, of course, but unfortunately consumed with other things. For starters, the A/C in my temporary house went out June 5, and it did not get fixed until TODAY. Yes that's right, a grand total of 18 days of no A/C in 90+ degree weather.

Needless to say, Jennings and I had to bounce from friend to friend's house over the last few weeks, and we event spent three nights in hotels. So life has been a little out of sorts, lately. I probably won't get back to my new "normal" until I get back from my beach trip next Wednesday, and maybe not even until that weekend after working tow days. Sigh.

All of that happened right as I started my grand plan to sell cookie baskets to raise funds for the tornado. I had about 7 orders right away, but it got increasingly harder to do them when I had to use someone else's kitchen. Also, I had someone say that the icing had melted in the process of shipping, so I have decided to refocus my efforts on getting the rest of my goal locally. The baskets are still listed on Etsy to ship, but order at your own risk with the heat we have been having!

Anyway, in other news, I have started UA's Summer Slimdown program. I go to a group exercise class twice a week and get to see a nutritionist every other week. So far, I have only met with the nutritionist once, and she told me a whole lot of things I already knew: I'm overweight, I should get my weight under control now because of my family's history of high blood pressure and diabetes, I need to exercise more and eat healthier foods. So our first session, I had a mini-meltdown. I would go into detail, but suffice to say that I just overwhelmed.

But now, a few weeks into the program, I am feeling better. I could not make class a few times due to work-related things, but I was still able to work out to make up for my classes missed. It has been really nice to have nice people supporting me too. One of the trainers even came to work out with me today since I missed, and let me borrow her watch so I could keep my times right. It's pretty rare that people will just willingly and unselfishly give like that. I have hope that the way they have encouraged me so far will help me keep on track.

As part of this process, I was encouraged to make a list of goals for myself. Not all related to a number - weight, clothing size, etc. - but more so things I'd like to do, or ways I'd like to see myself. I'm really taking that to heart and will be working on that this week.

And since I can't do anything without making it pretty or organized, I'm thinking I may splurge on something I have been eyeing on It is a scrapbook/journal called a smash book. Here's a cute little video about them:

I think it is good for people like me who are constantly having ideas, but have no real way of organizing them. Also I am very visually oriented and like to make things look aesthetically pleasing. So as soon as these babies are back in stock, this girl is gonna get one. =)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Doing my small part to help

So I have finally figured out my niche in the recovery process. I decided to go with what I know, and what I know is baking and crafts.

I have decided to donate to the UA Acts of Kindness Fund, which was established to help UA employees and students who were affected by the tornado. I'm going to donate the proceeds from cookie baskets I am selling for a limited time on Etsy.

If you are interested in getting one, check out the Blue Bird Baskets blog for all the details.

Happy June everybody!

Friday, May 27, 2011

One month ago today...

a tornado hit my city.

I was planning to do a proper "one month later" post with some videos and photos, but instead work has been keeping me from taking any new photos or videos. But I did find this on Facebook this morning, and it really got to me. It was made by someone who took footage of the storm and set it to the music and themes from the 2009 Alabama Football "hype" video (the year of the National Championship). They do one every year to get people pumped before the games. Here it is:

There is another one that this guy, Sam Woodard, has done with more "recovery" footage. Here is a link to it (you have to be signed into Facebook to see it), but he may be taking it down soon because UA has requested to use it at the upcoming candlelight vigil:!/video/video.php?v=10150191034985213&comments

There is a part where the Auburn and Alabama colors come together with the words "United." I know people think we are crazy in our state for our football rivalry, but I think shows that when it really matters, we can come together.

Also, the "We're Coming Back" signs are all over my old neighborhood of Forest Lake, and that makes me really happy. I've talked to so many people about why they loved that neighborhood, and I couldn't agree more. We only lived there two years, but it actually felt like a neighborhood. I am sad to see how it has changed, but seeing these efforts and reading about the efforts of the city to be careful about rebuilding, makes me think that it will be even better soon.

Finally, I will leave you with this shot, from someone who posted it on the Forest Lake Neighborhood Facebook page:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hangout Fest and life in general

So Jennings and I got back from Hangout Fest yesterday. It is only halfway through my workday and I am already mourning my incredible weekend.

Needless to say, the festival was awesome. Not only did we get to see a ton of great acts, but we got to do it all in gorgeous weather - ON THE BEACH. A computer in an office will never ever compare.

The whole weekend was relaxed - except the first night where Jennings lost his iphone (he eventually got it back) and we almost walked 6 miles back to the condo because the shuttle lines were too long - and it was really nice to not be in Tuscaloosa.

As hard as it was to live through the storm, to move out of our house, and try to start over, the hardest part of this whole thing is seeing it every day. When I'm on campus, it's easy to forget there ever was a tornado. The hedges are trimmed, there are no downed trees, and even the summer flowers are all neatly blooming in rows. But as soon as I make my commute home, I have to relive the devastation all over again.

I predicted that all of this would not really catch up with me until later, and true to form it hasn't really until now. It was not until I walked out of the darkness and into the light that I saw how much my city has suffered.

I have used the phrase "lucky" so much lately to describe how fortunate we are to have our lives, jobs, cars, and most of our possessions. But sometimes, all I can think about is how unfortunate it is to see this city still in shambles. I know it will take a while to come back, it may not even be "back" until Jennings and I move in a few years. But for right now, it is still a big mess.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Too much too muc too much

I am finding it really hard to concentrate today. I know Mondays are not really my forte to begin with, but today is somehow harder than other Mondays in the recent past.

Since taking off work last week half a day Thursday and all day Friday, it was non-stop work for me and Jennings. We moved things from one place to another, I cleaned the new temporary rental house like a mad person and we even tried to attack the yard that had not been kept up in 6+ months. But alas, even with all that work, there is still so much to do.

I still have some dirty dishes I found that were in the kitchen before the storm (gross, I know, but they went MIA for a while). There is still little bits of laundry that have been lurking around waiting to get done. We still have to return our damned cable box to Comcast and tell them not to charge us for a service we are clearly no longer receiving. There are floors to be swept and mopped, weeds to tackle, trash to discard, and the list goes on....

And when all that "fun" is complete and I can sit on my couch in a house that I feel comfortable in, we get to begin the unenviable task of sorting through receipts of things we had to purchase because of the storm to claim for insurance. We have to catalog all the lost or damaged items and make sure we have proof that it is damaged.

Mind you, our list of claims will be small in comparison to most folks, but I feel like just sending the insurance company a picture of my neighborhood and saying, is this enough proof we were damaged?


I think I am just exhausted. All of the last few months have caught up with me, and I am feeling like I may just switch off any minute. I guess we all reach that point.

For me, that point is today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The worst of times and the best of times...

There is probably no way to capture all of the things swirling around my head in the wake of this tornado in Tuscaloosa. So I won't even try. But suffice to say, I am so thankful to be alive, safe, untouched, and unharmed after the scariest experience in my life. The same goes for my incredible husband and all the people we know in town who are still alive today.

For those of you I have talked to or messaged personally, you have probably heard some of the details. For those of you I haven't spoken with, please let the following photos and videos tell the story for me. I am tired and am reaching a point where I can't really say a whole lot more about it. But, still having some of those lingering journalistic tendencies in me, I felt it was my duty to document. So here it is:

This was my house in the Forest Lake subdivision of Tuscaloosa shortly before we moved into it in 2009:

This is my house the day after the tornado, on April 28, 2011:

Although it was damaged, it was still standing. I can't say the same for many houses in my neighborhood. The major casualty was the side porch:

A word to the wise - if you ever build a side porch on your home, go ahead and enclose it with some kind of walls - it will NOT survive a tornado. Every home in the neighborhood with similar construction had the same problem.

Also on Thursday, I did a video of getting into our street and the damage inside the house:

Tornado tour from Kelli Wright on Vimeo.

(Please forgive the narration, I didn't even know if the camera I was using took sound, so when I started talking I didn't know if I was talking to anyone or not.)

For some more photos of my neighborhood, here is the Forest Lake gallery from The Tuscaloosa News.

At any rate, now it has been several days since the storm. Each day I go through the neighborhood, instead of all the damage, I am seeing all the progress they have made. One day it was seeing all the debris trucks taking up the stuff from the yards:

Another day it is seeing new power poles being put up in the neighborhoods again. All of the progress and assistance has been astounding. Although our community does not look the same as it did a week ago, it is on track to rebuilding.

Jennings and I have moved all of our stuff into storage and are temporarily renting a friend's parents' house. In the meantime, we are still looking for a permanent home and the next adventure in our lives. Thanks to everyone again for your concern and offers of help. They have all been taken wholeheartedly and appreciated. But since we are in good shape now, I urge all of you to channel your altruism into those who still need it. UA has put together a tornado relief page to provide info on what can still be done:

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Etsy adventure

I don't know if I've really mentioned this on here yet, but I have started a sort of new adventure in Etsy land....

A month or so ago, I decided to take a little hiatus from my gift basket business. It has had its high points and its low points, but I just felt that it was time for a break. This way I can re-evaluate and come back with something even better. If you'd like to read more about that, then go here.

In the meantime, I have really been thinking about art and creating things. This is something I used to do a lot of when I was younger, but often have very little time to do as an adult. Sure, I get to write and create stories each day, but there is something more tangible and exciting about something you can hold and look at, something a little better than just words on a page (or screen for that matter).

I love getting my hands dirty with paint, stain, wood chips, anything at all in the name of making something cool. As my husband will tell you, the apple does not fall far from the tree - I am my father's daughter and I have to have a project to do.

So with all of this in mind, I have a new Etsy shop and a new blog to go along with it. All of you should check it out, it is called noon apple dreams. Ten points goes to the person who can name the author and poem who penned that phrase - GO!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Jumping on the healthy bandwagon

So of course, everyone in the world is jumping on the healthy bandwagon. I myself have been trying to do this for many years, and I have had moderate periods of success and failure, so I am not about to lie to everyone and say I have found some new reason to go full throttle and do this thing.

But I will say this. The only real way to lose weight (in my case) and be healthy is just to do the work. No pills, fad diets, or surgeries will ever conquer your own eating habits.

If I had to say that there are reasons I am thinking about right now, I guess it could be because I have been following the success of others. For one, a friend from high school has been documenting his weight loss journey in another blog, (he's a journalist, so there is some real thought put into this one, a good read), and also there is a new season of two of my guilty-pleasure shows on the Style Network: Ruby and Too Fat For 15. There is also a new show on A&E called Heavy, but the thing about the other shows is that I have come to really follow the characters, and that is what keeps me coming back.

At any rate, all three of these people (or groups of people) have lost weight by looking their problem right in the eye and facing it. I sincerely hope that I have the courage to do that. For now, I am taking baby steps. For example, I am still active in karate. Perhaps a little additional workout would put me in better shape for it.

Also, today I brought myself a very healthy lunch to work today: salad, tuna, and fruit. But somehow, there are always demons lurking in the side lines:

Someone brought the leftover cupcakes from Honor's Day into the office kitchen. Drat! Or as my favorite comic strip character heroine Cathie would say - AACK!

But I resisted. All in the name of baby steps.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Getting through any way I can

Things that are helping me get through today:

  • Listening to my Ray LeMontagne Pandora station
  • Understanding and kind folks at the obit desks of the Mobile/Baldwin area newspapers
  • Having an understanding and supportive work/school environment
  • My husband, who cracks jokes when I need a laugh
  • A best friend who has selflessly offered her support in her own time of need.

I'd say that is a pretty good start.

Miss you Pee-Paw.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dealing with the inevitable

I've been putting off writing about something personal in here because I guess I just don't know how to express certain things anymore in such a wide open way. Suffice to say that once upon a time I was willing to tell just about anything to a blank computer screen and send it out into the abyss for all (or none) to read. But now, as I am getting older, I know the value of talking with people close to you about the things that really matter. Human contact and interaction are highly-underrated these days.

So anyways, the news is that my grandpa is nearing the end here on earth. He has walked it for 84 years, and had - by all accounts- a blessed and charmed life. I don't think he would ever disagree. But the hardest part of it all for me is that whether I like it or not, his life will end sometime in the future. It certainly has come sooner than I had expected.

The other bad news in this post is that one of my best friends is also dealing with loss in her life. We all feel it differently, some more deeply than others, but there is no mistaking how it changes you when you are the one left behind.

So before I leave on this most utterly depressing note, here is one of my favorite pictures from our wedding, can you spot my Pee Paw?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Me and The Beach

...are like peas and carrots.
Or we used to be, when I was younger, thinner, and had fewer cares in the world. Naturally, being from the Eastern Shore, the beach was just a part of life. My "beach" was really Mobile Bay and the "big beach" was Gulf Shores, which was always just a short car ride away.

Since I went to college in Birmingham and now live in Tuscaloosa, I find myself missing the beach quite a lot. Being just stroll away from the water is something I always took for granted when I lived there. It has been a solid 8 years since I was really living at home, and I am hoping one day we will reunite. But for now, short trips will have to suffice.

Which brings me to my next thing - a short trip to the "real beach"! Jennings and I will be taking the first part of my spring break to hang out in Fort Morgan in a cute little nautical-themed condo that we found.

So on this rainy day I will be imagining the beach, and not all that yucky work stuff I should be doing.

Anyone else still get a spring break? What are your plans?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Goldie needs a nap

I know it is Tuesday, but it sure feels like Monday all over again. This weekend, I got to help with the College of Arts & Sciences biggest fundraiser event, the Arty Party, and I hate to say it but I am still recovering. I even resorted to drinking black coffee this morning. If you know me at all, you know that coffee is not even my thing. I'll have the occasional espresso drink, but I hardly ever have coffee.

At any rate, the event was a pretty big success, preliminary estimates show we raised about $40 k for the department of Art and Art History. One of my tasks was to photograph all the auction items so they could be advertised on our website. Here is one of my personal faves:

In Woods Quad on the UA campus, there is a giant iron statue of a sleepy robot name Goldie. For the Arty Party, the artist made a miniature Goldie to auction off and I thought it would be neat to photograph them together. =)

Also, laying down and taking a nap is definitely something I would like to do right now....

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sad days for Auburn fans, but even sadder days for Americans

So, as most of you know.... A man poisoned the historic trees at Toomer's corner.
Also, as most of you know, I was born and raised an Auburn fan, and this news makes me incredibly sad. I could talk about my memories of rolling the trees after the games, the streams of TP flowing long. But truthfully, I don't have those memories, because I have only been to a handful of Auburn games in my lifetime, but that doesn't mean I am any less of a fan. But although I did not personally roll those trees, the entire practice was a sign of victory for my all-time favorite team, and even settling for photos of the action was enough for me. Because truthfully, it is more about what those trees represent: pride.

It would be an understatement to say that football is king in the South. It is a cultural phenomenon all unto itself. Each two-a-day practice and hard fought battle is something that goes down in history in the small rural towns of our region. And out of that are born tremendous rivalries, some could argue as monumental as the Romans vs. the Greeks. The Auburn-Alabama rivalry, in my opinion, is no different. Each team has a history steeped in tradition, and today - as they did 50 or more years ago - little boys dream of growing up to play football wearing either crimson or orange and blue. Little girls grow up wanting to cheer for those boys. And the rest if us? Well, we just can't wait for football season to start.

So not only am I saddened that our rivalry has cost us something that is irreplaceable, but also I am saddened that this is the great struggle of our time right now.

Don't get me wrong. Football is something I love deeply and look forward to each year, but I cannot believe that we are all more consumed with this tragedy than anything else going on in our country. People in this age are more willing to stand up and do something about this than they are to talk about the real issues in the world: poverty, racial tensions, educational gaps.

We live in a culture that is comfortable with accepting the status quo. As long as we feel we are on the top of the heap looking down on everyone else, we are willing to accept mediocrity. I personally am tired of people who do nothing or care nothing about the rest of society, but will spend all their time in life calling in to shows like Paul Finebaum and airing their grievances for all of us to suffer through.

So yes, it is a sad day. And the Auburn spirit with triumph, as so many have said. But can we just for once get our heads out of the fog and see what is really at stake in this world?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Step two - cutting back on things I can control

Ok, so when it comes to a household budget, there are a few immovable components that you will likely not have an impact on decreasing even if you want to: rent, utilities, insurance, etc. But there are other things you can change - groceries, cell phone, television, internet, etc. Last week I talked about getting our cell phone to a manageable place, and this week I'm going to tap into a part of the grocery budget that I have definitely been overspending on: cleaning supplies.

I consider myself to be a relatively clean person. As much as I hate to admit it, I have a little panic attack when people come over and my house isn't clean. There is just something about being in a clean house that helps me to clear my mind. The opposite is also true.

I really love to cook, but if I go into the kitchen to cook and it is dirty, I have to clean it before I cook anything. So by the time I clean the kitchen, I have no more desire to cook anything because THE KITCHEN WILL BE DIRTY AGAIN. It's a dreaded cycle.

So anyway, I will admit right away that I watch television and I will buy into the latest cleaning crazes. ShamWow? Awesome. Kaboom? Of course. OxyClean? Brilliant! I see these things that wipe right through limescale, grease, soap scum, and I am enamored. I truly desire to try one of those shower things that apparently keeps your shower clean by spraying it periodically, except it makes me think of having a robot in my shower and that is something I think would genuinely freak me out. Have I always indulged on these urges? No. But do I know that I am a sucker? Yes.

So with that in mind and also my recent goals about saving money, I spent some time doing some research. I found another great blog about saving money that offers some more practical suggestions and how-tos than "And Then She Saved" (although I really like her, so I will likely keep reading hers): What drew me to his blog was a recipe for Homemade Laundry Detergent, which I was all gung ho about trying. But the skeptic in me was curious about the numbers.

He says that a person can spend on average $60-$70 a year on laundry detergent alone. So what do I do? I went through my grocery receipts from the last year and my number was $74.16! I know in the grand scheme of things that is not a ton of money, but it got me thinking about other things I shell out that kind of cash for that I know I could do without or reduce. My largest vices included:
  • Clorox wipes: $65
  • Swiffer dusters, floor pads (wet and dry): $85
  • Paper plates: $36

For me, the worst part of all of that is all of those are things I eventually THROW AWAY. I might as well have taken that $186 and just flushed it down the toilet. I am a product of American consumerism and convenience. Why should I go through the trouble of washing dishes when I have paper plates? Why should I just use a broom and a mop like in the olden days? Why should I just use a multi-purpose cleaner when I can clean something and just throw away this handy dandy wipe? Well the simple answer is because I am lazy. But a better answer is that as a citizen of the world, I should be doing my part to help the environment. I would also like to save a few pesos.

So I continued to look on the internet for helpful hints about this, and let me tell you it is an overwhelming place out there. Some websites seem helpful at first, but later they never quite get to the nitty gritty (like how much white vinegar and water will clean anything?). What did I do next? I went to the library of course!

Yea I know there are those of you out there who are exclusively internet information-o-holics, but every once in a while I like to take a break from my mindless searching and actually pick up a book. This time the effort was worth it. I found this little gem: Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home . I only get to keep it for a few weeks, but I know I will be making copies of the recipes chapter and trying some of them out. Although their main focus is on the environment, I would say that majority of their solutions also come with a much smaller price tag than my usual purchases.

So here are the things I am willing to give up/ change:
  • No more paper plates! Sorry hubby, looks like we will be washing more dishes =(
  • Homemade laundry detergent. I may try a few recipes and see which one I like. Stay tuned for this =)
  • Floors - I have a perfectly good broom and even an awesome steam cleaner I bought on ebay that I don't use enough. Since it only uses water to clean, there is a nearly $60 savings right there!
  • No more Clorox wipes, I will be investigating new recipes for multi-purpose cleaners made with things like white vinegar.
So I know this is all very exciting too all of you (smell the sarcasm) and I hate to leave you in suspense about how this whole transition will go. But, as a wise man once said, "Good things come to those who wait..."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Learning Karate or: How I Figured Out How to Try Something New and Overcome Timidity

Like my title, a -la Dr. Strangelove? I do. Anyways...So around last February, my husband came home and said "I'm going to start taking karate!" At first I was little surprised, but then remembered that a coworker of his was a black belt. Duh. So the story is that their company allowed his coworker to start teaching classes in an empty floor in their building. I'm sure it was something to do with teamwork, discipline, etc. At any rate, Jennings was super excited. So he went on his merry way and bought a gi and practiced katas in the back yard. After a month or two, we went to see a tournament, and by the time the next tournament came around he was ready to compete in one. All this time he kept encouraging me to come to class too. "You should go," "It's awesome!" is all I heard.

I was skeptical that karate would be for me. Also with work and school, I was feeling like there was no way to squeeze in another activity. But then I saw how much he succeeded and enjoyed it. I realized it had been a long time since I had done a physical activity and really enjoyed it. Probably high school.

Being in the colorguard was a pretty awesome thing, and before that dance classes were something to look forward to. There is something about being in a group and doing things together that is rewarding in a different way than writing a good article or making a good grade. Those things seem so isolated, but being part of a group is a rare and good thing.

So finally, as last semester slowed down, I started going to karate class. At first I was a little nervous about trying something new in front of people I barely knew. But that fear quickly faded when I saw how encouraging everyone was. There was no judgment when I go things wrong, only patience. So I have stuck with the karate thing since late November, and I am proud to say that - pending official testing results - I will be a yellow belt!

Also, this past weekend, Jennings and I went down to Fort Walton Beach for a karate winter camp. The main part of the weekend was a workout on the beach (it was 45 degrees outside!) and then we all had to get into the ice cold Gulf of Mexico for a few minutes and do some moves. Originally I was completely dreading this whole experience, but afterward I realized that it was worth it. It was worth it for me to try something I was afraid of and actually get through it.

Here is a shot of all of us in the water. Can you find us?

All in all, the experience was worth it for me. Also it makes regular karate class seem not so bad.

Are things that you have been afraid of trying that you ended up doing? Tell me about in the comments section =)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Step One - getting the cell phone bill under control

So Friday night, Jennings and I spent almost our whole evening at the AT&T store. We had already discussed making some changes to our cell phone plan, but when we went there last week to ask some questions we decided to wait a little while before we made any changes.

Well all of that changed when my hubby accidentally dropped his iphone and got it slammed in his car door. It was quite a traumatic event for him. So we knew we had to get him a new phone, and it was time for me to investigate other options also.

I had a Blackberry, and apparently if you have smart phone you are required to have a data package - lame! I know that is the whole draw of getting a smart phone, and two years ago I thought I needed that. Well times have changed, and I told the salesman I wanted to DOWNGRADE.

As I was explaining it to him, I almost felt like the other people in the room were turning their heads in my direction, all the chatter coming to a stop as they stared at me in disbelief - downgrade?! Who would ever want to do such a thing? Well, the simple answer is - me!

So fortunately, the sales guy helping us was actually a really nice and knowledgeable person. He helped us save some money and even recommended a good non-smart phone to me. It's a new, up and coming brand, Pantech, and this model has a touch screen like a smart phone, but also a full keyboard. It's also just as thin as the iphone4! So we both bit the bullet and bought new phones, but the end goal is saving on our monthly bill. I will have to get back to you with the results!

Are there any things you are cutting back on to save a buck these days? Leave them in the comments section!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's official, according to the internet

So most you know that I recently started a new job at UA. For the last two years I had been working at the School of Music in sort an office job with only a choice few opportunities to use my knowledge and skills as a writer/photographer. It was a fun ride, but something needed to change.

So anyway, I heard about a communications position that opened up with the Dean's Office for the College of Arts and Sciences. I checked out the job listing in October and knew I had to go for it. For October and November, I didn't hear anything about the job. I assumed that someone else had gotten the position, and I was already to resign myself to another few years working in Music Services. But lo and behold, the week after classes were over, I get a phone call asking me for an interview. I later learned that there were 130 applicants for the job, and they were only interviewing seven people. Yikes!

If you know me at all, you know that I get nervous/anxious over just about anything, and especially anything that has to do with my own personal abilities. I spent most of Christmas in disbelief that I actually got the job. I was excited to tell people, but I was really unable to fully express to them how big of a deal it was for me. Also, I think I tend to hold back when I know that others are still struggling to find jobs. The state of this economy has left many of my dear friends in a kind of job limbo, and I know all too well how tough that is - I went through it myself when we moved from Demopolis to Tuscaloosa in 2008.

The thing about getting a job is, it is one of few times that you willingly and knowingly put yourself up for scrutiny. You even prepare an entire page (or more) of information for people to judge you on. If you're like me, you have spent years on a path of success, doing every little thing to make that piece of paper stand out from all the others. Also if you are like me, job hunting is the only time you are willing to put yourself out there for all to see and pick apart.

I guess I say all of this to say that although it is tough to put yourself out there, sometimes it is worth the risk. Two years ago, I was happy to have any job. But now, I dared to looked outside of my safety net and go for something I really wanted. I would encourage all of you out there to do the same.

So if you are ever bored and want to know what is going on in UA's College of Arts & Sciences, then head on over to the UA News site and look me up. You may just get to read something awesome like this (totally sarcasm):

Also, here I am on the A&S website - it's official!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And Then She Saved

So recently I was following a link on CNN, which led to my usual browsing afterward and they featured a blogger named Anna Newell Jones of And Then She Saved. She is a young person, like myself, who works a decent job and is married, but still finds herself in debt from consumer credit cards and student loans. She spent a whole year on a self-imposed spending fast and she was able to pay down $17,000 of her debt. Incredible, right?

So over the next week or so I obsessively read all 70 something pages of her blog from the last year. A little much, I know. But I was so drawn into her story. After her first three months, I was read to do my own spending fast. Then I got my first paycheck of the year, and realized I already put the majority of my salary toward debt payment, so how in the world was I going to save money?

Well, there are a few things that really stood out for me from her blog that I will most likely consider using and doing without actually doing a complete and total spending fast. Here are the elements I am most likely to try:

  • Cut down on eating out. This one fits in especially well with my next plan - losing weight!
  • When grocery shopping, buy store brands - there is almost never, if any, difference between these and the fancy brands
  • When planning meals, plan around items I already have in the pantry.
  • Spend less on cleaning supplies - I realized at the store the other day that I would have spent nearly $9 on those Swiffer duster refill things. Obviously, that is too damn much money to spend on something that I am just going to throw away. So instead I bought a can of hypoallergenic dusting stuff that was $5 and will last me much longer. In the future I plan to investigate homemade cleaners for laundry, etc.
  • Cutting down on costs like cell phone. I have a Blackberry with the Internet, but I am at a computer all day for work, so why should I pay for Internet on my phone? I have started to look into this, but it is apparently more complicated than I thought it would be. More on that later.
So that's just a start on some things I would like to try from And Then She Saved. Only time will tell how they will pan out for me!

Back to the Blogosphere

It is a new year, and as such, I am buying into the typical "make resolutions, make yourself better" thing that has been going around, and so what do I do? I decide to create a personal blog. For those of you that know me, you know that I do have a blog for my home business, but there are lots of things I am doing, thinking, creating that don't necessarily belong there, so I decided I needed a new blog. Also, I jumped on the blogging craze before we even knew what the blogging craze was (If you are really bored, you can go check out how angsty I was on Livejournal when I was in high school. I just found this thing again - it's a hilarious read, really.) and after several years of not doing it, I find myself wanting to be a part of that again. Also, this will be my inaugural run with Blogger, to see if I want to switch Blue Bird Baskets over from Wordpress. Yay!

So here it is, for all to see. And, if you'd like to read it from time to time, feel free to jump in. Hope to see you real soon!