Monday, February 18, 2013

Those grandmas know a thing or two

It occurred to me one day while I was working the cube with Bratty, that there's more to grocery store chicken than meets the eye.

You know what I'm talking about. The super cheap hot roast chicken you can get at the grocery for about $5. The ones that for some reason taste amazingly delicious.

I don't know about you, but I consider those a special treat. Maybe they shouldn't be.

A $5 chicken will cover about 3 meals for me if I am being a bit piggy. Even so, $1.67 isn't bad for a meal (or the protein part of one if I count sides). If I roasted that bird myself, I'd be paying about 10 for the bird plus the spices and cost of cooking it. And the burnout of smelling chicken for days since scents linger in my home.

So, stroke of genius. I've picked the bones pretty clean, there's skin because I try not to eat it, and all that other stuff that goes along with eating a chicken, Right?

I did what my grandmother (ok, likely my great grandmother, since Grandma is a pretty big fan of modern convenience) would do. I boiled up that carcass. Now I have chicken broth. Mildly flavored with lemon pepper, but now, when I make soup or rice or whatever else, I have a small supply of ready made, likely a bit healthier broth ready to go. And that $5 chicken just cost me $.67 per meal.  (4.5 2 cup jars of broth plus 3 meals worth of meat)

I think I'm going to pick up a chicken more often!

Now into the freezer with these!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Irrational fears

I have many irrational fears. Some are easily explained, some are more complicated.

For example, I will not swim in lakes because there are lake zombies in there. There are no zombies in the ocean because its a moving body of water and also, sharks. But in lakes, the water just sits there in the lake bed. And the zombies reach up and grab your ankles and pull you down into the depths below. Tahoe and Pyramid are especially bad for zombies because they only connect to each other. And sometimes they find bodies in there. Bodies that have been in there for a very long time. centuries. and also, water babies. The thing that makes this fear even more irrational is that I don't believe in zombies. In fact, the whole zombie apocalypse craze pretty much pisses me off and makes me want to walk away while I call everyone an idiot. BUT you'll notice that they never start the stupid zombie apocalypse in the water because then it would be too real. I think. When zombie shit comes up on the Netflix, I go watch Toddlers and Tiaras.

Actually, I haven't watched that in a week or two.

Point being, that I have an irrational fear of someone bursting in on me when I'm in the shower at the gym. I like the gym. We have a healthy relationship. I go, sweat, shower, and go home. I've lost 5 pounds this way. I have every intention of losing more.

I think I mentioned  that since I go to the gym at night and I shower at night, that I would start showering at the gym to save money. And sweat stains on my car upholstery. That's a side benefit. But a good one. There's all sorts of winning going on there.

I'm a modest kind of girl. I don't wander around the locker room nakid. I make sure my girlie bits are covered until I'm in the shower stall and the curtain is safely closed. I lube up then wrap up before opening the curtain again.

Yet still, even though normal people know that a shut curtain means a full stall, I still worry about someone flinging open the curtain and seeing my butt. or worse.

Last night, I learned that my fears are not unfounded when I was just about done applying my body lotion (which never gets put on at home) and the curtain was suddenly flung open by some topless lady. I'm sure there was a look of horror on my face. After all, I was wearing nothing but a towel turban and flip flops. I was also facing the curtain.

She shut the curtain, apologized, explained that since I was so quiet in there that she didn't think the stall was occupied. Never mind that there were plenty of open stalls, never mind that my bright pink toiletry bag was hanging on the hook right next to the stall, never mind that I practically duct tape the curtain shut when I'm in there.

The consensus that occurred to my workmates and not to me? She wanted to see some boobies. And she did (so, much to my dismay, did I). Apparently, there are creepers everywhere. And not all of them are men.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

On Wild Hogs and Austerity Measures

I'm broke, blah, blah, blah, looking for a roommate, blah, blah, blah, on a strict budget.

Now, if you're new, you're caught up.

I found a roommate. (I might still post craigslist postings though if you guys like them. There is one more waiting to be published, and I made them "unlisted" so you should be able to see them now.). He seems pretty normal, moves in on the 1st, and has already put down a deposit with the balance of the first month's rent due on the 27th.

When he handed me the cash, I was like, "OH BOY!! MONEY!!" And I immediately started plotting how I would spend it. Fence repairs! Dinner! A shopping spree to Costco where I can spend it on MEAT! I'm almost out of meat. I can have new pants! My pants are falling off again. I can refill my Starbucks card and have coffee treats! A new belt! My last one was purchased sometime around 2001. New shoes! Makeup!  At this point, the voice in my head started reminding me of the reasons why I ended up in this mess in the first place. "Sock away that cash", she said, "you don't want to have a roommate forever and eventually, your car will need to be replaced".

So, I'll admit, that I spent a little. I bought some candy, some cake mix, and a closet rod for the spare room. Not only is the rod installed already, but I got to use my chop saw and that made me VERY happy. I think I spent about $40 of the deposit. That's not much, but it's a lot for me. I don't want to slip back into old habits. It would have been REALLY easy to wander around the home improvement store and pick up a few "wants" that I think are "needs".

So it's back to my austere budget. Meal planning, weekly grocery shopping. I did really good last month, coming in under budget and moving things around when I needed to. I love the envelope method and REALLY enjoy dropping my change into my change jar. I didn't overdraw my account. But 1 month, that's easy peasy. It's changing my habits long term that will be hard. Especially with extra funds coming in. (A new TV! A New Roof! A front lawn! And occasional steak dinner!)

I'm sticking to it though. I may fund a few things before I start attacking the credit cards hard core. If he always pays me in cash, then this will mean that I won't be pulling my budget out of my checking account every 2 weeks, I will (hopefully) be depositing leftover cash into it.

Overall, it's just nice to feel like I have a little wiggle room.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Growing Pains

I hope that I am always growing. Changing for the better. Getting closer to the person that I want to be.

Call it PMS, over stimulation, over tired, low blood sugar, call it what you want but I recently found myself behaving in a manner that was NOT the person that I want to be. And it made me wonder if that bad attitude has been festering for awhile. Coloring my life in an ugly manner and causing issues with the people that I care about.

Generally, when things go wrong, I ask myself what I did to cause it. Over the last year, I learned that it isn't always me, that other people, in their imperfection, also contribute to the dysfunction of a relationship. This doesn't mean that I do not contribute, only that I may not be the only problem.

Since I can only control myself, I want to do whatever I can do to make sure that I am not being an asshole. It's not always easy.

It doesn't help that when I decide to make a life overhaul, I tend to do it all at once. The strict budgeting is taking it's toll. I didn't think it would be easy, and I think overall it's been easier than I thought it would be, but it's still hard. I have slipped a couple of times, I hear that happens, I know it will get easier. I contacted another possible roommate today. That will help a lot. 1 year of roommate will knock out 1 credit card plus about half of the other (as long as I continue to pay what I am paying on them and don't add more debt). 15 months of roommate will pay them off completely if I add another $50 in payments each month (which I already started doing to cover the fun I had for the New Year). I really like how that story goes. Will it actually work that way? probably not. But I can do my best. Realistically, 2.5 years with a roommate should pay off both cards. I am not counting tax returns or bonuses in this amount. I AM taking into account travel expenses.

I started going to the gym again, which seems to be working to helping my mood and focus, but that takes time away from the dog. So I am trying to take him for more walks, and now that I'm home before dark and it's warming up, hopefully we can start meeting his doggy friends again.

My interpersonal relationships are... A little messy right now. Some are great! Others, need something. Vitamins? Medication? Communication? CPR? I'm not sure. And I don't know if I am equipped to give any of those things. I do know that I have started to question the kind of friend that I am. And I worry that I'm not a good one. I think I need to try harder and give more. I just don't know how. I do know that in some cases, I'm seeing the same patterns that I have seen since elementary school.  I think I need to fix that. I need to be more appreciative of the people I have. All of them, not just the ones that I see all the time. I've said it before, no one person should have to carry the burden of being my only friend. If it sounds terrible to hear that I may have to put people on my to-do list, please understand that this is how I make them a higher priority in my life. by reminding myself to give attention to the people who are important to me.

I know I need to re prioritize many things. I talk about it a lot, and always intend to fix the priorities. And in some ways, I'm working on it. It's just easier sometimes to slip into old habits.

Friends, of any sort, I need to foster those. Learn to have more than one or two friends at a time. When was the last time I sent love to one of my friends south of here? When was the last time I sent a text just to say "hello"? When was the last time I planned an outing instead of waiting for someone to invite me to theirs?
Derby, I need to give less. It's become a bad relationship. The kind where I give more than I get. I don't think I will  give it up completely any time soon, but it also doesn't need to consume as much of my energy as it does. I need to set boundaries here.
BC needs more of me.
Chango needs more of me too.
I should be writing this down on some sort of goal list. and making a plan.
I need more of me, but I am making progress here. I've been doing a lot of "nothing" lately (if nothing is knitting and watching TV) and it feels good. But I need to balance it out and not spend my entire weekend watching Toddlers and Tiaras. I need to set boundaries here too.

So, here is where I am beginning. Hopefully this will work. I've split my obvious issues into categories. Friends, Derby, BC, Chango, Self, Home. I'm going to allocate time to all of those things. Not daily, maybe not even weekly. But if I want to change, I have to start somewhere. And it will help to see where I am spending my time. and how I am spending it.

Step 2 ????

Step three, MONEY!!

I know. I'm a fruitcake. But after all that seriousness, I needed a smile. I found this free online printable. It's an appointment book page which won't actually fit in my appointment book, but at least I can use it to plan out my time. Actually, I think I am going to hang it on my studio wall. I printed 5. I don't want to waste paper in case I stop using it, but at least I can use it in conjuntion with my regualr planner.

Here's to change and trying to be a better me

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Valentines Day crafts

Every year, I make Valentines Day cards instead of Christmas cards not because I like V-Day (not a fan, actually) but because I want to be different and it is a great excuse to tell the people that I love that I well, love them.

I make them partially because I am cheap, partially because I think that the greeting card industry is a little silly, and a lot because I feel like it means more that way.

This year, plan A didn't work out. I don't remember what it was, but it was a fail. Now I remember. Equipment fail, not crafter fail.

Plan... next was a GREAT idea, I just needed to commit to actually carving the linoleum block I've been hanging onto for at least  a year.

I learned to carve printing blocks in 8th grade art class. It might have even been 7th grade. My teacher was all sorts of awesome and a couple of the projects she introduced to us were so amazing, I still want to do them. Seriously, best art teacher ever.

About 10 years ago, I decided I was going to try it again, bought all the stuff, never did, and amazingly, purged all the stuff.

About 1 year ago, I decided I was going to try it again, bought all the stuff, and did NOT purge it in the last purging.

Now, I have commitment issues. this is why I cut that guy I see sometimes a lot of slack. This is also why I have a lot of project IDEAS, but not a lot of completed projects. I am trying to change that.

Tonight, I drew out my design, made sure the block was the right size for the paper, and started carving.

I stabbed myself in the finger. Those cutters are sharp.

I accidentally carved what appears to be a vagina in the corner. It's not supposed to be a hoo ha. I took a deep breath and kept on going even though I know that my family will happily point it out.

Then, I headed to the gym because I needed to go. While on the evil yellow thing that I secretly love because it kicks my butt, I realized something important.

I carved my design portrait instead of landscape. I need a new block.

It's no wonder I have commitment issues.

I'm still going to finish it because it can be used for other projects. And no, you can't see a picture right now because I want the card to be a SURPRISE. If I get my shit together, I'll post it on Valentines Day. Until then, I think I'll start another hat. I've yet to draw blood with my knitting needles.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Onward and hatward!

I finished the hat I was talking about the other day, It's a 50/50 wool and soy silk mix that I knitted from my own handspun. I didn't blend or dye this one (the dye lot is called "tossed salad" I'm laughing about it) , but I did develop the pattern It's a really simple one-skein pattern that works for men or women.

Of course, after all that bragging about easy crafting for the single and childless, the dog walked by while I was getting my knit on and hooked a few yards away with his tail.

Off to the gym with me, I've lost enough IQ points watching Toddlers and Tiaras for the day.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Exercises, exercises, help me do my exercises

I signed up for the gym a little ahead of time and for a little more than I expected, but as long as I don't make a habit out of those late night side trips to Super Burrito for a half order of steak nachos, I think I will be okay.

It went down a bit like this:

The gym nearby that has a pool but is cheaper and has better hours than the community center where I was getting my sweat on is also attended by a friend of mine. He had a 7 day buddy pass, which, he had offered to me about a month ago. I wasn't ready to join up at that point.

Then a few days ago I thought, hey, I'll use his pass, and by the time the 7 days are up, I will be a little closer to funding a membership, and it shouldn't cause financial discord.

By the way, BIG thanks to Chickie for helping me to find an extra $13 in my budget.

By my calculations and with my friend's input, I figured that a membership would be $10 per month (that is what he pays) and I would save $3. Unfortunately, the reality is that he got in on a deal that is no longer available. I could pay $10 per month, but it would cost me $145 to sign up. I REALLY don't have $145 laying around. I mean, I do, but I don't want to touch the savings account for stuff like this. In fact, I want to put that cushion back in there.

There was a new deal. $29 sign up, $20 per month. Since Chickie saved me $13, I only had to find $7. The deal ended yesterday, so I took it. A little early, I know, but my first month was free, I had the $29 in cash because I didn't need to grocery shop last week and I didn't spend my whole entertainment allowance last month.

Here's the thing that I realized the other night.

That $7 is going to be pretty easy to find. Not only am I spending more time exercising and less time doing things that might cost me money, BUT if I go to the gym at night, and shower there, then I'm not paying to shower at home. I'm saving water and gas to heat my hot water heater. Time will tell how much I save this way, but come spring, when it warms up a bit and I'm not running the heater, things should look a bit prettier. I haven't showered at home in 2 days.

I do understand that I'll need to up my food budget. This way I'll have easier and healthier options at home so I won't be tempted to swing by super burrito. Which I only did once, and don't plan to do again any time soon. Plan being the operative word here, those things are delicious. And cured my foot cramps.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

The 52 Week Challenge

I noticed the other day that there was a new popular thingy going around on Pinterest. The 52 week Challenge.

Since most stuff like this tends to catch my eye, make them roll, and then I move on, I thought I would stop for a moment and actually see what it was all about.

I entered it into my favorite search engine and sure enough, it was a variation on the penny trick used for MANY years to to teach children the value of saving. In short, it's all about compounding. 1 penny today, 2 tomorrow, and soon enough, MONEY!!

Only in this case, it's $1 this week, (not a problem) $2 next week, (still not a problem) and so on. 52 weeks later, MONEY!

You can see the chart here.

What no one seems to remember is that this money has to come from somewhere. And when you are on a tight budget, it's difficult to say where the money will come from. Sure, I can come up with $1 for this week, and maybe $2 next week, but when we start getting into the $5 and the $10, it gets a little more difficult. In fact, you start risking dipping into my grocery or gas fund.

By week $40, you just took both my grocery AND gas fund. In Week 50, there's no more money for the dog and the bird to eat. Sure, I have saved over $1,000, but I broke my budget doing it. Sound extreme? from what I see, for many Americans, it's reality.

I find it easier to build a specific amount directly into my budget. I put $30 per week on automatic withdrawl. I've had to learn to check each week on Friday to ensure that the money will be in there to be removed on Monday, but since I started doing that, I haven't overdrawn. The one time I was going to, I went ahead and put a stop on the transfer.

Over all, at $30 per week, for 52 weeks, I save over $1,500. Which is actually not too much more than the 52 week challenge, but I also don't have to worry about where I'm going to find that cash (if I have it, and it's not in an envelope, I'm going to spend it somewhere) it's already allocated.

Do what works for you, but I've put quite a bit of money away over the years this way and give myself regular raises. It seems to be one of the few financial things I've done right!

Friday, February 01, 2013

My search for more things to do

I figured that if I am going to start posting crafts for the single and childless, I should probably research some to try. So I entered "Crafts for the Single and Childless" into my favorite search engine and landed in my own blog.

Then I saw some articles that discussed all the thigs that were wrong with women who choose to remain childless, some of which probably ended with something to effect of "there's nothing wrong with us, asshole"

It seems to me that I've hit upon a niche market, but I don't know where to start. After all, most of the things that I do can be done with children around, the trouble is that sometimes those children (and the men that I date) simply make it difficult to execute said craft. Kind of like how my cats used to like to play in the fabric after I carefully laid it down on the floor for measuring and cutting.

Children ALWAYS want to try treadling the spinning wheel (and sometimes I let them) and the guy that I see sometimes has been known to pull my knitting needle out of my knitting. Kind of like my cat used to. I can't decide if he wants my undivided attention while he watches TV or if he's just a brat. I'm going for the second there. It's not animal cruelty if I stab him with said needle, however, and is only a crime if I break the skin or leave a bruise so, retribution does occasionally occur. And by occasionally, since I only see him occasionally, I mean rare indeed.

So think I should start brainstorming crafts that involve things that kids just should not have access to. Like drugs and hard alcohol.

I kid. That stuff is expensive. I just don't have the funds for clever cocaine sculptures. (that ought to bring in some interesting search hits) AND, I wouldn't know where to get that sort of thing anyway. AND blog fodder simply isn't worth a felony. Can I blog from prison? Who would take care of Chango and Baby? I would have to make soap out of... oh my goodness, lets not go there today.

NORMAL stuff you really aren't supposed to let your kids handle generally means something sharp, and chemical-y, and hot. I'm pretty sure I have all that stuff so as soon as I finish knitting that hat I'm making out of yarn that I spun (gee, I hope I have enough of it!) I'll get on that. Meanwhile, I think the hat should count since its sitting out in the open and is not in any danger of dropped stitches, cookie drool, or boogers.

The other moral of this story is that cats and men can be buttheads. But since they are cute and furry and snuggly, they are forgiven.