1. What is a mand of God? Why do preachers do that? I can't hardly pay them attention after they throw a D where a D does not belong.
2. Is it me or was more attention paid to Valentine's Day this year than in year's past? I think marketers realize they're not going to make money at Christmas like they used to, so they're going hard on EVERY holiday.
3. I had a dream I was carrying Usher's baby. BEST.DREAM.EVER!!!!
4. I missed my blogiversary. It was March something or other. I think I've been doing this four years now. Woot woot!
5. My bad for not posting last Friday. I literally just forgot to post, but I was also so busy that when I realized I hadn't posted, I didn't have time to whip something up.
My new lease just came in the mail. Of course, the rent is higher, but I have a decision to make. To stay or go.
I've been out of college for a while and I want to stop slumming it and really live in a NICE place. Nice meaning:
- Everything I already have now (updated kitchen, walk-in closet, good property management company, cheap/reasonable cost of living, safe neighborhood, access to public transportation) PLUS
- A doorman (so I can stop getting all my packages sent to work)
- Stainless steel appliances
- In-unit laundry
- A location within walking distance to my gym OR an in-house fitness facility
But I have to keep 2011's goal in mind. It is to pay off my credit cards (not to move into a nicer apartment/condo). I mentioned in a money post that I might not let myself move until my CCs are paid off. Well they aren't and almost doesn't count, so I think I'm going to stay.
Negatives about staying
- The rent is higher for the upcoming year.
- I still have to walk 6 blocks or take the CTA to my gym which makes working out consistently a real chore.
- My new neighborhood is more like frat town than I expected. I miss the busy, but free of drunkards on a Friday night neighborhood I came from.
- My new neighborhood is slightly more difficult to get to by car (I just prefer to be on a street with an expressway stop).
- I am REALLY over going up and down the stairs to do laundry. Like beyond over it.
- I am still not a fan of entertaining here (though I have had guests and they always seem to like how I've made use of the space).
Positives about staying
- It's going to be a cold winter and everything is included here (heat, electric, gas).
- I do not have to incur additional costs like: moving company, new furniture to update a new space, fees to disconnect and reconnect the cable/internet, etc.
- I do not have to take a day off work (or several) to move.
- Once I pay my CC off, I can check my credit score, start stacking paper and prepare to BUY a really nice place instead of rent.
- I am learning so much about money and discipline, which I think will prepare me well to be home owner.
Ok, this week I am really am dieting vs. just eating healthier for life. I don't PLAN to diet like this often, but I really need my stomach to be flat for Jamaica.
Special K diet (cereal for breakfast and lunch) - I'm using Kashi instead because it doesn't have any sugar in it and has WAY more fiber than Special K. If I feel like I'm going to pass out (which I usually do when I try to Special K diet) then I won't do it any more.
Salad for dinner - Every night. Fix-ins and meat will be allowed, but I don't want to fall-off here.
Snacks - Greek yogurt, fresh fruits and veggies, maybe cheese if I feel (mentally) weak.
Drinks - Well, only one drink. Water.
Workouts - I will do Pilates between 10 minutes and one-hour every day before work (or whenever on the weekends). Given my heavy workload and the playoffs, the gym is just NOT going to happen this week. I only made it once last week, but given my increased attention to my diet it hasn't slowed down my weight loss.
I'm going to do a final weigh-in this time next week. Feel free to tell me what the scale said BEFORE Easter dinner. If you're anything like me, it's about to be an epic feast.
How are you doing in the home stretch of the challenge?
4. Skipped St. Patty's Day Kickin' it the weekend before St. Patty's Day. (I actually budgeted to go on ON St. Patty's Day and I did and it was awesome.)
Unexpected expenditures: a. Ski Trip to Lake Tahoe - My job paid for the first $1,000 of expenses, but the rest was on me. It wasn't expensive at all, but if I didn't have the first $1,000 from my job, I wouldn't have spent the balance on a trip.
Note, this was my ONLY unexpected expenditure for the quarter. How dope is that?
Credit Score Update: It went up another 10 pts or so. JUKE!!! (Actually, I was cabbage patching around my apartment when I found out, but JUKE works.) I'm 70 pts from my alltime high and about 85 points from where I want to be. YAY Progress!!!
*sidenote, Blogger is lowkey pissing me off with this formatting. I've tried to fix it about 22 times today.
Here are some pics with commentary from the November wedding I did. The first two photos are from my bb, the last four are credited to Cindy Fandl. Check out all of Cindy's great shots from the wedding here. Enjoy!
Below: Early in the day I was in the Bridal suite at the University Club in Chicago with my handy checklist awaiting the arrival of the bride, bridesmaids and bridal lunch.
Below: I set up the placecards in the library for cocktail hour before the wedding. It was almost time!!!
Below: I LOVE this shot. The wedding started promptly at 4:30 p.m. You all know how I feel about punctuality. It's a must. I'm in the back telling people when to walk. The bridesmaids always get nervous at this point.
Below: SHE'S MARRIED NOW!
Below: Cathedral Hall at the University Club. Gorgeous space!
Below: This is Ginny saying "Trust me, T is the best day-of coordinator ever!!!!" LOL! Seriously, her happy made me happy. Another great wedding under my belt.
If you or anyone you know is planning their own wedding and needs a day-of coordinator, I'd love to give them a consultation on my services and pricing. Call, e-mail, Facebook or Tweet me!!!
I think I'm losing weight at a pretty healthy pace. I've been losing a little over a pound a week since the start of the 10 lb Challenge. I finally saw 140 on the scale again and then I saw 139. Down 6 lbs!!! *do a dance* (4 to go).
I think as I get older and try to maintain a healthy weight there are couple of things I cannot do (or need to just do less of).
Eat free food in the office - These bagels, muffins, burritos, chips & salsa, Auntie Annie's pretzels and beer carts do not have my best interest at heart. And while I love saving money on food, I hate seeing the scale go up when I'm trying to lose weight.
Skip workouts - One day out of the gym is like a pound gained.
Make poor eating decisions - One burger or bag of french fries will really set you back when you're trying to lose weight or maintain a flat-stomach weight. I've been trying to choose fruits and veggies instead of meats, cheeses, crackers and fried foods when the opportunity presents itself.
Indulge in bar food - This is pretty much the same as above, but it bears repeating with playoff season and the entire summer on deck.
Binge drink - When you drink, you get hungry, then you eat a lot. Your body burns the alcohol and stores the fat. Not to mention that fresh fruits and veggies are not good hangover food. So I probably need to "sip slow homie" to keep my waistline in tact.
QOTD: What tips do you have for maintaining your weight loss or a healthy weight in general?
The promise of warm temperatures (and you know, birthdays and stuff) have my friends and I going [way too] hard. I'm really getting too old for this. By Sunday night on a party weekend I will have had every possible symptom of dehydration, most recently dry mouth. :-/
In better news, the partying has been worth it. Maybe I'll slow down when I have something better to do... Enough about my old ass partying too much, on to the topic at hand.
Someone told me that Rum has sugar in it. I'm learning that EVERYTHING has sugar in it. Even plain Cheerios has 2g of sugar in one serving. Why do they put sugar in plain Cheerios? They already taste like nothing. I digress.
I figured having straight liquor or using sugar-free mixers would keep me in the clear, but that's not really true. Here's a list of liquor and the amount of sugar per serving. From Fat Free Kitchen:
From Tastings.com: Rum and its fraternal twin cane spirit are made by distilling fermented sugar and water.
I also saw on wikipedia that Champagne has sugar in it:
Brut Natural or Brut Zéro (less than 3 grams of sugar per liter)
Extra Brut (less than 6 grams of sugar per liter)
Brut (less than 12 grams of sugar per liter)
Wait, so Rum is basically just sugar water? So I think I will be drinking vodka martinis with unsweetened vermouth or nothing at all. Who knew it'd be this difficult to cut sugar out. What else has sugar in it that I may not have realized?
1. *in between sobs* I.didn't.go.to.AllStar.weekend. That hurt, especially because I had free lodging, but I look forward to the year I'll be able to go without the trip cannibalizing my efforts to be financially healthy.
I think it's important to note that saying no to a trip that I really want to go on is a major shift in habit change for me. In 2010 if I had the money in the bank, I went on the trip, period. In 2008 and 2009, if I had the money available on a credit card, I went, period. In 2007, if I didn't have the money in the bank or available on a credit card, I opened a new credit card (By far my lowest money moment). HOW CRAZY IS THAT!?!?
In year's past I felt like the good times I'd have would outweigh the expenses I'd incur. And I can't say that I completely disagree with that now. However, sacrificing this 2011 good time to pay for 2000-2010 good times will be worth it when I have zero balances AND money in the bank in 2012. I think. I hope. I digress...
2. I skipped a couple of political fundraisers too. I just donated online. It would have been nice to network, but I didn't feel like getting cute, buying drinks and paying for the cab home.
3. I skipped going to my 3rd restaurant week dinner. (Yes, I budgeted two restaurant week dinners. I actually went to a free movie screening the same night as the third dinner and got a 2 for 1 deal on Chipotle, so this really wasn't a tough sacrifice, but it's on the list).
Unexpected Expenditures: I didn't have any of these this month. I'm loving this year's budget!
Credit Card Update: I paid off credit card 4 of 6 this month!!! I cried. They were happy, grateful [and completely unexpected] tears. In case you hadn't noticed by me talking about it all the damn time, debt has been such a burden. I feel like my load just lightened. 4 down, 2 to go. Who's proud of me?
Credit Score Update: Wouldn't you know, it's exactly the same. Credit is easy to mess up and very hard to improve. I can't complain either way, I'm blessed.
So for any ski novices out there I want to provide a list of the top 10 things you'll need to have a successful ski trip.
10. Ski socks - Apparently regular socks get wet and soggy and that's the worst feeling in the world.
9. Cotton-free long johns - they had some extra special lined ones at Burton (that cost several body parts), but I got the cheapest ones available and I was more than toasty
8. Outerwear - Ski Jacket, Snow Pants, Goggles
7. Rentables - Skis, ski boots and helmet (check places OFF the mountain you're visiting for lower prices)
6. Lessons - If you're going for the first time definitely get a lesson. It's not nearly as easy as it looks. If you're
5. Sunblock and lip balm with SPF - The sun blazes on top of a mountain, so fight skin cancer AND ashy lips.
4. Tire chains or all-wheel drive - If you're driving up to a mountain make sure your car is ready for snowy conditions.
3. Ski aps - Some mountains close or roads close, so if you have a ski ap, you can check before you get there and get your feelings hurt.
2. Lots of energy - All of that gear is HEAVY.
1. Awesome friends - Not only did I have supportive friends who provided free lodging (and yummy breakfasts) while I was visiting Lake Tahoe, but friends from Chicago let me borrow their outerwear. (I think they knew I wouldn't be taking up skiing as an every weekend pasttime.) Also, when I decided that I didn't want to go a second day Liz didn't push me. I'll ski again, but I was pooped after my first time.
So with a grant from my job to subsidize trip costs, a friend to visit and a lot of bravery I embarked on a journey to learn how to ski. Getting there took a long time (Flight to San Fran [4 hours], cab to Oakland [1 hour], ride to Lake Tahoe [6 hours in the snow]) and the snow was HIGH.
The drive up was entertaining (thanks Molly and Emily) and scary. I've never seen snow like this in my entire life. Just walls and walls of snow on the highway. Imagine my surprise when everyone didn't just abandon the roads and chug-chugged away to get up to the mountain.
The Batmans were phenomenal hosts. (Yes my friend's real last name is Batman.) They have the most comfortable home and eat the most healthy, fresh foods. Before I even got on the slopes, I felt like a mountain girl.
Then I actually hit the slopes. Oh boy, I sucked. Who knew it would be that hard. I fell so much (which was funny to me), but I think my instructor was concerned, like literally worried about me. He kept telling me to relax and while I felt relaxed on the outside, on the inside I'm sure I thought I would crash to my tragic death off the side of a mountain, so I was guarded to say the least.
I let my hosts know that I probably wouldn't be going out the second day, but to please go without me because they LOVE to ski. While they skied Northstar Mountain I explored Northstar Village. I visited candle shop, winery, read a new book, sipped cappuccino and a got a massage... sounds like a perfect ski trip to me!
All in all, I am SO happy I got to visit with the Batmans, try skiing for the first time and get in some relaxation at the foot of a mountain. Enjoy the pics!
Below: This is a map of Heavenly Mountain where I took ski lessons. Look ALL the way at the bottom of the mountain, that's where I was all day. Below: Me, in skis. Below: Me, coming down the mountain. My instructor said I had flexible knees. He also said I relied too much on my ski sticks, so he made me go down without using them, which was very helpful and much more fun. I look like the scarecrow. LOL! Below: Day 2 of skiing = T chilling
So I ran into a friend at the gym and she was leaving the cardio room and I say "are you on the way home" and she's like no, I need to hit the weights. WEIGHTS?
As you can see I'm terrified of weights. So another friend is getting married in September and I mention my terror to her and she offers to show me how to do it. *singing* That's what friends are for!!!! So we're headed to LA Fitness one day soon where I can go on her buddy pass and she's going to give me a tutorial. Now I'm excited.
10 POUND CHALLENGE WEIGH-IN: It's been 4 weeks since the start of the Challenge. We should all be at about 6lbs weight loss to make it to 10lbs by Easter. How much have you lost?
I remember a time when I'd go to church and the Pastor would say something about a prayer life and I would feel guilty because I either didn't have one at all or I felt like it was pretty weak.
I'm happy to say that now when I hear that quip from my Pastor, I feel good having a testimony of how helpful prayer is. I wanted to share some tips with people who may be struggling with how to pray or when to pray.
This is especially top of mind for me during the Lenten season. This is my second year doing Lent and the Bible calls for us to fast AND pray. Of course, you can just fast if you want to, but the prayer is the most important piece to me (and the healthier lifestyle for 40 days or so is a lovely added bonus). I'm happy to say I've prayed most days of Lent so far and I hope I'll continue throughout the year.
So here are some my tips for praying:
Set aside a time to do it. Some people pray in the morning. While I give a short thanks in the morning, I do my prayers in the evening and that works for me.
If you're like me, the evening sometimes equals right before bed and that equals falling asleep while you're praying. I suggest starting a prayer journal. I've been doing this since high school. I find it difficult to fall asleep while I'm writing.
If you feel like you're going, going, going and can't find time to pray, praying while doing another quiet activity that you were already going to do. I sometimes take a walk by the lake to pray or pray at the gym (weird, I know, but when I have my headphones on that's quiet time.) Most recently I prayed while I was getting a massage.
Remind yourself how great your last prayer time was/is. Every time I pray my next day is better. Every.single.time. So when I'm tired and don't want to pray, I have to remind myself that the next day could suck if I don't buckle down and pray.
Whisper prayers throughout the day. You don't always have to do a 2-hour deacon church prayer. Sometimes just acknowledging God's presence throughout the work day or a nature walk or even when you're feeling overwhelmed is enough to center you until you have time to pray a little longer.
Well those are my tips on praying. Do you all have any to share?
I think the week-long quarterly updates are kind of boring (based on the fact that they get virtually no comments), so I'm going to start doing Money Mondays and talk about updates once a week. Let me know how y'all feel about that. :)
Sacrifices this month: I didn't need to make any. My budget is solid.
Unexpected expenditures: I actually didn't have any of these either in January. I kept all of the money that I budgeted in my savings account (then parlayed it to make it rain on a CC) YAY!!! Who's proud of me.
Credit Score Update: Checked my credit, I'm up 10 points. (80 pts away from my all time high) Praise Yahweh!
Final note: If this is the same story in February and March: no sacrifices, no unexpected expenditures, higher credit score (which I sure hope it is), I might suspend this series. Nothing to see here people.
I'm going to go into detail about the ski trip next week, but one of the legs of my trip was on a Greyhound bus and while the ride itself was actually not bad, there are actually a plethora of reasons that Greyhound customer service sucks. Here they go:
10. Their phone line is usually busy... I'd say 75% of the time.
9. When you do get through on the phone they send you through a never ending loop of prompts (I had to press 2 for "not taking a trip" and 5 for "having a disability" before I got an actual person on the line. I'm clearly taking the trip and do not have a disability *knock on wood*)
8. It took me 30 minutes of hanging up and trying again to figure out which prompts would get me to a live person. When I used those prompts it only took me like two minutes to talk to a person. Ridiculousness.
7. I bought a refundable ticket, but in order to get a refund I have to mail it in and wait 4-6 weeks for them to mail it back to me. What ticket? I bought it over the phone. I only have a confirmation number. They got me for $42 son. AND who mails anything in 2011. I don't even know how much a stamp costs. (I'm not even joking)
6. The lady at the Customer Service number couldn't tell me what to press to get a live person on the phone on the reservation line (two different numbers). I informed her that she does Customer Service for "GREYHOUND" so if anyone should know how to use their phone system, it should be her.
5. Said lady wouldn't put me on the phone with a manager. She claimed a) he wasn't there and b) she didn't know how to transfer me. This lying broad here.
4. I finally got to a desktop and e-mailed these losers and it could take 7-14 business days to get a response. 14 business days is three full weeks. What in the entire hell is wrong with them?
This is actually what prompted yesterday's post. If I'd just had a touchscreen phone or a tablet, I could have bought it on my browser and I wouldn't have had to deal with all of this. Actually, I don't have 10 reasons they suck either. 7 is enough.