Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Massive To Do List

I have a to do list.  Or two.  Or three.  Okay, really, I have many, many to do lists.  When condensed, it seems like an insurmountable monster.  Broken down, not so bad.  So here it goes:

- buy travel insurance (way late!)
- get engagement ring fixed (really worried about this)
- buy shoes
- schedule hair appointments
- decide on a wedding cake
- sign the catering contract
- email the florist (again!)
- email the priest
- email the musician
- make sure the girls got dresses
- make sure the flower girl didn't already grow out of her dress (it's close)
- finish and mail invitations
- pay for everything

- finish recommendations (due today!)
- plan for next week
- revamp a test
- plan for Thursday night's upperclassmen back-to-school night
- email my "student teaching" coordinator
- plan "student teaching" lessons

- finish mountain of laundry (half-way done!)
- mow the lawn
- tend the garden
- do something with the tomatoes
- clean out the fridge
- clean the office
- fix the computer
- clean the kitchen (especially the floors)
- change out the tablecloths (why I can't seem to do this is beyond me)
- check on my prescription
- organize the pantry
- write a long overdue post about the pantry
- balance the budget
- vacuum the house
- make some freeze ahead dinners
- get Dad to fix fridge
- try to schedule some relaxation time

I'm pooped just thinking about this list!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Week, Fresh Start

We are at the beginning of a brand new week, and it feels good. 

Spiritual - Today, *B* and I went to church, and discussed Mass afterward at breakfast.  I really enjoyed teaching him about the things that Catholics do and do not believe.  Think of it as the religious version of Mythbusters.

Wedding - We stopped by my grandparents' house and borrowed a longer chain for the necklace I'll wear for my wedding.  All of the invitations are addressed (minus five for whom we don't yet have addresses).  I have the materials to finish putting the invitations together.  They should be assembled next weekend.  We bought a card box, and a blue garter (woo hoo!).

Housekeeping - For the last few weeks, we've been really behind on laundry.  I mean REALLY behind.  When *B* did laundry, it got tossed on our bedroom floor because we didn't have any more baskets, and neither of us had a neither of us had enough time to put it away.  Clean got mixed in with dirty, and it was a giant mess.  We rolled the whole lot of it down two flights of stairs.  We're two loads into it, and all of it is put away.  We can actually see carpet again!

I'm now off to make zucchini bread for my department as a Monday morning treat.  I hope your week goes as well as mine will!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's Here!

It's finally here.  I've been waiting about 2 months for this day.  I have my dress!

This is the front.  I'm apparently not allowed to hold my cats in the next three and a half months, as evidenced by a large cat scratch on my chest.

And this is the back.  It's wrinkled, but I was told the seamstress could steam it out.  I bought the dress a size too small in June, and I vowed to get into it.  The dress is now too big!  And I have only lost 5 lbs.  I had lost more, but Indiana killed me.

For the wedding, I'm fairly certain my hair will be in some form of french twist concoction.  I also have a lovely veil, not pictured here.

Left to do to look good in my wedding dress: get skin under control, work out more (arms and neck are trouble spots), and get a longer chain for the gorgeous snowflake necklace my mother bought me.

112 days and counting!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Dangers of Coupons

Growing up, my dad always complained that my mom never cut coupons.  "By cutting coupons for an hour, if you got $30 worth of coupons, you would be paying yourself $30 an hour" he always said.

The original owner of our house had paid for a 1 year subscription to a large, local paper, so we get the Sunday paper for a few months.  I decided I would start clipping coupons to help us out with the grocery bills.  Wouldn't you know it, our food bills increased.

Now, granted, this is my fault.  A coupon is not a magical "cheaper than all" card.  I found that by having a coupon, I allowed myself to purchase things I never would have before.  Specifically, I bought name brand.  In the last couple of months, we've had a fair amount Kraft Mac and Cheese, lots of frozen, pre-cooked chicken tenders, and more shampoo than I can count to name a few.  The only coupons that have actually helped us save are cereal coupons - I'm addicted to Frosted Mini Wheats and Cinnamon Toast Crunch on alternating months.

I imagine that it takes an immense amount of time to ensure that one saves the most on food.  I would think that's why homemakers are so very busy.

So here's my question to you:  Working women (or men - I don't judge), how do you keep your grocery bills down?  Do you keep a pricebook?  Shop generic in one store only?  Clip coupons?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Simple Pleasue Thursday

My simple pleasure for today is that freshman back-to-school night is over.  I'm home after a 14 hour day.  I'm going to bed.

Night, y'all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First Days Back

Is it already Wednesday?  I forgot how quickly the days fly by here at school.  That's actually one of the reasons I became a teacher - I hate the dreaded 10am hour, and if it is at all possible for it to pass without me knowing it, I am in the clear.  When I was a researcher/grad student.  The trek from 9:59 am to 11:00 am took four hours.  I'd swear it did, at least.

This year has started out much more pleasantly than years past.  My first year, I was nervous and didn't know what to expect.  My second year, I was scared because I did know what to expect.  This third year, I ran as efficiently and quickly as possible through new school year business and got straight to content.  I know my content.  That part is easy.  So I just didn't bother spending (too much) time on things that did not, in the end, help the students.

They were, though, a bit surprised when they had to take notes and do worksheets on the first day.  I imagine they'll be surprised when they find out we're doing a lab today on the second day.  And I have a quiz for them on the third class.

I'm actually starting to like this teaching thing.  While I was skeptical at first, I think this might be it for me.  I've never had a job longer than this.  That's not to say I wasn't welcome at other places - I always left on good terms.  So maybe, just maybe, I've found my calling.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Come On, Fall!

I love fall.  Autumn.  The changing of the leaves.  The descent into winter. It makes me think of

baking apples

apple butter

crisp air

and crunchy leaves.

I love how blue the skies are in September.  I love that I can boil oranges and cinnamon sticks on the stove for warmth and smell.  I love how I can wear long sleeve t-shirts and be perfectly comfortable.  I love the local fall festival (though the quality of the festival seriously declined in the past few years).  I love listening to NPR on the weekends while cooking with the doors open - yes, I'm specific :o)  I love the link I feel in fall to years past.

Please, fall, please won't you hurry up and get here?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Road Trip

So Thursday night, *B* and I were aimlessly wandering around the county.  We had everything ready for our Indiana road trip, but we weren't planning to leave until very, very early Friday morning.  *B* got impatient, so we decided, against our better judgment, to leave Thursday night and switch off driving for the 11 hour trip.

We left at 8 pm.  We both had worked a full day and were sufficiently tired when we left.  *B* drove first, and let me sleep for a good hour and a half.  Long story short, with five or six rest stops, we got to the Indiana border at 4 am.

I had thought about this problem, but didn't really take it in.  We can't check into our hotel until 2 pm.  It's 4 am and we have only 3 more hours to drive.  We're big fans of checking states off of our lists, so we decided to check out Michigan on the way.  Rather than taking the toll road, we took a little parallel road across the whole of Michigan.  (Toll roads, by the way, cost us $40 each way.  It's insane what one has to do to cut an hour and a half of driving off the trip.)  Route 12 through Michigan was very pretty, though, and there was rather nice architecture on the way.  By the time we got out of Michigan, it was about 8 am.  We had been driving for 12 hours on very little sleep.

So, we decided, we're very close to Chicago, we should hit Illinois while we're here.  We drove forever on our way around Lake Michigan.  We learned a few things:

1)  Most of the towns on Lake Michigan are dead or dying.
2)  There's a nuclear power plant in a national seashore.

3)  There are some rather scary areas on Route 12.  We drove and drove until we hit Chicago.  It was not this Chicago:

It was this Chicago:

It was dirty, scary, and congested.  I saw a car fire.  I will never go back to Southside Chicago again.

After fleeing the city, it was 11am, and we decided to plead with the woman at the hotel for mercy.  Thankfully, they let us check in early.  We both passed out.  We had driven 15 hours (including stops) across six states - we deserved a bit of a break.

The next day, a good friend of mine got married.  *B* officiated, and it was lovely.  It was a Renaissance wedding, so everyone was dressed up.  The ceremony was held in a field in an orchard, and the reception was in a gorgeous old barn.  With the exception of watching my ex slobbering all over the girl he left me for over the course of the 6 hour party, it was a good time.

The next morning, we woke up at 3 am Indiana time to go home.  Again, we switched off, but I did not get nearly as much sleep.  The one time I slept in the car, I had nightmares that I was falling and couldn't slow down.  It might have been that I was traveling at 70 mph.  Who knows.  We got home at 6 pm our time, so we drove (and stopped) for 13 hours.  Much better that time around.  Either way, I'm pooped.  Today is the first day of school, and I nearly fell asleep the whole way to work.  But more on that later.

The best part of driving to Indiana rather than flying: *B* read me The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams while I drove almost the whole way home.  He even did voices to some extent.  It was awesome!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

One More Day

I have one more day until we drive semi-cross country to attend a friend's Renaissance wedding.  I'm excited!  We're leaving bright and early tomorrow morning.  I'll post about it Sunday or so.

I have one more work day until kids come for class.  I have my papers copied and my lessons planned.  I'm hoping it's an easy day!

Check in later for more developments :o)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back to School

Tomorrow is my first day back to work.  Summer has absolutely flown by.  I know that once school starts, the wedding will be on top of me before I know it.  I tried to get everything done this summer that I could.  Between working my full time teaching job (though before the kids come), working my night time tutoring job (my last week), and driving for 24 hours in a three day time frame for a friend's wedding this weekend, I'm so nervous for just this week!  I know I'll survive, but how will I do it!?  I need to focus in, one day at a time, and just hope for the best.  It doesn't help that I've had a sudden attack of super low self-esteem.  I just keep telling myself that I will look fine at the wedding.  In two weeks, I've lost just over 5 lbs - a very healthy loss.  Four months ~ 16 weeks ~ 20 pound loss possible.  We shall see.


Oh the Nostalgia!

When I stopped by my dad's house to pick up my knitting implements last weekend, he convinced me to take a few boxes with me.  I've got tons left there, but slowly it will move over here.  One of the boxes was a load of books.  And in that box was my American Girl collection.  I was never allowed to have a doll (they were $80 at the time, $95-115 now).  But I loved Samantha, probably because she looked most like me.  So what did I do?  I reread the series:

 Then I found the craft set.  I loved the cookbook and plan to cook out of it again.  I have two sets of the paper dolls because I was given one before I was given the set.

 Some of the outfits in one set aren't even cut out!

 But the ones that were still fit perfectly.  I even found her hairbow, dog, and tea set in the accessories envelope.

The Samantha set is the most complete that I have.  I have the books and paper dolls of Felicity, Kirsten, and Molly.  I have the books of Addy, but they were published in sets of three rather than one set of six.

Is it bad that at 24 years old, I'm actually considering buying the other sets of books and the cookbooks that go with them?

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Have No More Kittens :o(

My little baby has grown up so fast!  Evie, my Christmas present, is ONE year old today!


She will not be having any part of picture taking though.

Maybe just one.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

So About That Rain...

This morning, I was so pleased it rained.  I didn't watch the weather this morning.  If I had, I would have seen this:

There were reports of wind over 100 mph, hail two inches across, and tornado warnings all over the place.  The most severe part of the storm passed right over our house.

Upside:  plants are watered
Downside:  all of our mulch has washed out into our yard

Simple Pleasure Thursday

My simple pleasure for today is waking up to a drenched backyard.  Apparently, we had a thunderstorm this morning, and the ground is pleasantly soaked through.  Yay for not needing to water the garden!  We've had a number of heat waves this year.  We're not in a drought, but we have had less than average rainfall.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's Been a While

Who would have thought that I'd blog less when I'm off of work in the summer?

I guess it's just that I'm not sure if I have anything to say that's any different than the last few things I've said.  Bearing that in mind, an update:

~The garden is doing fairly well.  We have a rather large crop of tomatoes right now.  The little lovely yellow squash that I was not talking about shriveled up and died before its time.  I'm now not talking about another friend of the yellow squash on a different plant.  We'll see what happens to him.

~I'm excited that I finally picked a wedding present from my grandmother.  She had been somewhat badgering me to give her an idea for a gift that 25 years later we'll still have and remember they gave it to us.  She's going to have my wedding dress made into a quilt for me.  I've wanted to do this for a while, but I wouldn't be able to afford it - even after the wedding.  It seems like the perfect gift idea to me.  And better yet, she liked the idea, too.

~*B* and I merged our finances a few weeks ago.  I thought it would make life a tad more difficult, but shocker, it actually made saving SO much easier.  We had had a hard time keeping savings for the wedding.  Our last prevailing thought was that we'd put expenses on my credit card and immediately pay it off so that we could get the rewards benefits.  But that means that all savings went directly to immediate purchases (my dress) and not long term expenses (the catering).  I am pleased to say that we have saved above and beyond the cost of our wedding!  Better than that, we have a great system in place for our married (financial) life ahead of us.  My insurance agent is also a licensed financial planner, and he helped us set it up for free.

Each of us have our own checking/savings account for personal things - hair cuts, food out, birthday gifts, etc.  We then have a joint checking/savings/money market account.  Our paychecks are direct deposited into the joint savings account.  We then transfer the money needed to pay bills into the checking account.  This means that anything we have left at the end of the month doesn't get used on something frivolous, it stockpiles in the savings account.  The money market account is currently used for wedding related savings, but in the future it will be for big items, like a roof, a nice vacation, or car troubles.  This is where we can put away our emergency savings. 

~We finally were able to take our FOCCUS test.  This is a test that the Catholic church has couples take in order to determine what things need to be discussed before the wedding.  It's 180 questions, and topics include religion, work distribution, sex, abuse, marriage readiness, finances, and others.  While I am pleased to say that most of it we had already discussed in great detail, there were a few issues whose absence in our conversations became apparent.  Number one of my list is the role of religion in our lives.  *B* and I have been going to church for probably a month now.  This is the longest stretch that I've gone to church probably since I was 6.  I might have gone this long once when I was about 14.  And I know for a fact that *B* has never been to church this much in his whole life.  He says he likes going to church, and I believe him, but I fear ending up like my family, where my mom took us to church while my dad stayed home.  Even as a young child, I knew that my dad thought church was ridiculous, and it was really hard to reconcile the two beliefs in one household.  However it ends up, I want *B* and I to provide a united front to our children.

I think that about sums everything up.  I go back to work next Monday, so hopefully I'll find much more to say in the coming weeks.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Simple Pleasure Thursday

My simple pleasure for today is being reminded of things from my childhood.  When I was about 10 years old, Chick-fil-a had a special kid's meal toy.  It was a cassette tape of Adventures in Odyssey.  AIO is produced by Focus on the Family, and features biblical themes, though they're not all Bible stories per se.  I think they came out with about 10 of them.  The stories all focus around a man named Whit, who runs an ice cream shop, and his friends and neighbors.  I loved them so, but God knows where the cassettes had gone.  I had thought about them randomly from time to time.  I finally stepped up the other day and googled them, and they're still going!  They have over 650 episodes now, and have been going since 1987.  They even have a mix of new and old episodes that you can listen to online.  For the past few days, while peeling peaches or making muffins, I've been listening to the episodes.  You can find them at www.whitsend.org.  Enjoy!

Freaking Out a Tad

There are 4 months and 13 days until I get married.  My dress ships on August 13th, which means I should get it before August 20th.  When I bought my dress, I bought it one size smaller than I was, and I had never seen it in claret, just in navy.  I'm not so much worried about the size (they said they can alter up to one size either side of the actual size), but I'm nervous about the color.  What if it looks odd with my skin tone?  Though I have color swatches from the dressmaker, what if it ends up looking more pink than dark red (like it does online)?  These what if's will kill me.

Finances seemed to have worked themselves out.  I suppose it was working two jobs this summer that did it.  Either way, I'm actually not so worried about paying for things - as long as our parents help us like they said they would.  If they don't, then I'll keep my second job longer.

I am concerned, however, about how many people will come.  We have to have (or at least pay for) 100 people in order to keep the whole restaurant to ourselves.  We have invited 108 people, knowing that 70 people are likely to come and 38 are iffy.  We didn't include "and guest" in either number though, so we might make 100.  If we don't, we're paying ~$900 for people that won't be there.  But then again, I don't want to lose the whole restaurant, because it might be weird to have total strangers at our reception.  But, it's $900.  I don't know!

*B* and I started dieting together this week, which has led to an initial five pound loss on my end of things.  Yes, it's probably water weight, but I'll take it at this point.  I had bounced within a two pound range for a long time.  This new program should also help with the dress fitting.  I don't have to start with alterations until the end of October, so I have some time.

Ugh.  I had heard that weddings were stressful, but I never believed it until now!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Intoxication and Addiction

No, I'm not talking about drinking or drugs.  When I was in high school, my father accused me of being "addicted to the internet."  Being about 14, I told him he was crazy, got all indignant and huffy, but accepted the new restrictions on the internet.  I remember being especially peeved that a few months later, he was the one addicted to the internet.  He was always downstairs in his computer room, and spent very little time with us.  When I told him what he told me, he got SO mad.

I was reminded of this when I read about James Sturm's Internet-Free Experiment on Slate.  In his first installment, Sturm talked about all of the guilt and shame he feels when browsing the internet.  I absolutely agree.  Though I'm embarrassed to admit it, the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night is check the computer.  I look at my four (four) email accounts, read the daily blogs, spend way too much time on Facebook, and troll for something interesting, occasionally just by hitting refresh over and over.  I once had a program that tracks your internet usage and creates reports for you, but I couldn't deal with looking at how much time I wasted.

I also am a multitasker.  At any given time, I have some form of audio on in the house (between the TV, NPR, or a podcast).  I generally also have a number of tabs up on my browser.  Many times, I've got something in the oven at the same time.

One of my happiest times is when we didn't have television.  We knew that we had cable upstairs (on a 9 inch TV), but had nothing downstairs.  *B* and I read, played games, and listened to the radio.   We cooked together, and we enjoyed nature more.  I'm || this close to unplugging the cable and pretending it doesn't exist.

Are there any non-standard addictions you have?  What do you do to remedy them?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Upside

My face hurts.  A lot.  I couldn't breathe at some points tonight.  I coughed so much this evening that I tasted blood. 

Why, might you ask?   I had dinner with friends from high school tonight.  I smiled so much that my jaw aches.  I laughed so hard that I snorted and couldn't breathe for what seemed like forever.  I also laughed so hard that I choked and coughed and coughed and coughed.

I love my friends :o)