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Archive for December, 2013

Heading Out Soon - Looking at 2013 Ahead to 14

December 21st, 2013 at 05:01 pm

First semester is over. Yay! We barely managed to get the first issue of the school newspaper out yesterday.

Had two nice surprises yesterday - the mission gave all of us $50 Walmart gift cards! This is the first bonus I've received since I started working here - I had just figured they didn't do bonuses. The second nice surprise was that my assistant gave me a gift - totally wasn't expecting one. She gave me a beautiful necklace with a tiny turtle charm, a cross necklace/earring set (which I can't wear because my ears aren't pierces, but I can give it to my mom), and a bunch of Hershey's miniatures. I rarely ever wear jewelry - mainly because I forget I have any ... Smile so it's amusing whenever someone gives me a piece. (Amusing in the way of wondering if they'd noticed I 99.99% of the time don't wear any.)

My junior year of college I had a glamor shot photo done. NE saw it years ago when we first met, and the image stuck with him I guess. (probably because I look so different from normal everyday in it ... i.e. I was wearing a lot of makeup and my hair was gussied up.) This last summer we were talking about a lot of different things, and the picture / makeup thing came up. He told me that he'd really like to see me in makeup once in awhile.

So ... last night when I was at Walmart I decided to use some of the giftcard bonus to buy foundation, eye shadow and an eye liner. I already had lipstick and mascara. I was also thinking about buying blush, but just couldn't figure out a good color. Figuring out the color for the foundation was difficult enough - I ended up buying one of the more expensive brands that had one of those testing sheets that you put your hand under to see skin tone. I really don't remember the last time I bought foundation. I plan on putting it on before leaving to NE on Christmas Day - hopefully most of it will still be on by the time I get there. Big Grin A small Christmas gift to NE. Smile (I really probably need to go to somewhere like Macy's and get my colors figured out again - when I was in high-school a friend of mine who was really good with makeup helped me figure out colors - hence brownish eyeshadow/liner - but skin tone can change as you get older.)

I don't mind wearing makeup, especially on special occasions. I just don't usually think about it or want to take the time to do it. If I remember to put on lipstick and mascara that's a major miracle most of the time... Smile

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I bought some semi-healthy snack type foods at Walmart that I can take with me for my trip. NE and I have different eating schedules - I can't go more than 4 or 5 awake hours without something, whereas he can go much longer. So, it'll make life much easier to just have some foods I can snack on until he's ready to actually eat a meal.

(Dietbet) I have two pounds to lose by January 5. I was really hoping to be at Round 2 goal weight *before* leaving on my trip so all I'd have to do was maintain. I've decided to not stress out about it and focus on maintaining. I still can meet Round 3's goal (8% total of starting weight - which would be about 5 lbs from where I am right now) by February 5. I'm not going to go overboard on eating, but I'm also not going to obsess (too much) about calories, etc. I will however try to get in as much activity as possible. Big Grin If I lose, great. If I maintain, fine. If I gain a little ... well, that's life. Smile

I am looking into gyms in NEs town - especially hoping to find some kind of trial membership pass or something. Too bad there aren't any Planet Fitness in NE - then I could just pay $10 and use it while I was there and cancel.

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I've made a total of 14 soaps now (2 with the messed up bug oil drops.) I bought some more soap cases at Walmart last night, but forgot to get the washcloths or ribbon! Doh! When I get to ABQ this afternoon, I'll get those things to add. I'll take pictures of everything and will eventually do them in a blog post here. Smile Just not sure when. I'm going to give one of the soap/soap case to my co-worker who is looking in on Kari for me while I'm gone. I may also send one to my mom (along with the earrings) and maybe give one to my IT friend/coworker (she's having lung cancer surgery on Tuesday - please keep her in your prayers. Frown )

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Looking at 2013:

Financially speaking, this was not a banner year. I spent a lot of money and saved very little. I did not meet any of my financial goals - though I came close on two of them.

1. Pay off car loan - Nope. Have roughly $1000 left.
2. $5k in EF - Not even close. I didn't really even add anything to my EF this year. I have money in savings, but I haven't earmarked it for anything specific yet because I just don't know how much all my traveling and eventual move is going to cost. So, in effect, the money that might have gone to the EF is in my liquid savings.

I'm not really sure how much I added to that this year, because it keeps getting spent. Right now I have approximately $3k in liquid savings.

3. $3k to ROTH - I put $2400 in this year. When I do my taxes I'll see if squeezing another $600 will make that much of a difference in taxes or not. If not, then I'm not going to worry about it.

4. $1k to FIRE fund - Nope. Zilch.

Even though I didn't meet my financial goals, my networth did increase substantially. It actually broke the 6 figure mark.

Personally:
2013 was a banner year for me. I managed to get the courage/gumption/nerve whathaveyou up to jump in and see if a real relationship was possible with NE. It was. Big Grin

This year I have also managed to actually stop my soda habit. Other than a few sips of NEs soda, I haven't had any since mid-September. Stopping my soda habit has been a yearly goal for a long time, but other than a few times, I've never managed to stick with it very long.

Also, in October a switch seemed to go off that has finally made it possible for me to lose weight. I still have slip-ups (like .. my birthday and yesterday with the Hershey's miniatures ...)but more often than not, I'm doing pretty well.

Health (other than weight):
This has not been a good health year for me at all. I really suspect that I had mono starting sometime in late February/early March and have pretty much been recovering since then. I am however starting to have more good energy level/ feeling level days than low energy/yuck feeling days, so hopefully I'm getting close to the end of it.

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2014 - Looking ahead

Financial:

Goals for first six-seven months - will have to re-access after moving at end of May.

1. Pay off car loan (by March)
2. Increase monthly ROTH contribution to $300 starting in April
3. In April and May - $200 to Moving Fund, as well as any tax return money
4. Move to NE at the end of May Smile
5. Find a new job in NE (preferably one with benefits and better pay)
6. Find an inexpensive and relatively safe place to live in NE.

Personal:
1. Continue healthier lifestyle
2. Continue to grow in relationship with NE
3. After moving to NE, find a church family that fits me and get active in it

Cap 360 Promotion/Contest

December 19th, 2013 at 11:37 pm

If you have a smartphone and have the Cap 360 app, be sure to log in today and every day through December 29
! 12 $1k prizes and one $10k prize are available.

To enter, all you have to do is login to your account through the app.

This was just the motivation I needed to get my Pinecone checks finally cashed. Smile (One a day for a good while ... at least 7 of them that need to be deposited.)

Made Soap Tonight ...

December 18th, 2013 at 03:06 am

Well tonight I made my first attempt at making soap. I used one of my big pots and my glass measuring cup to make a "double boiler." Once the ingredients had all melted, I poured them into the two soap molds. Of course it wasn't until *after* about five minutes that I remembered to add the bug off oil to the soap ... and then it was ten minutes later that I re-read the instructions and realized that I was supposed to *stir* the drops in. Umm... I'll probably keep these first two bars for myself. Smile

I'm going to have to make more tomorrow, Thursday and Friday - maybe Friday I can make two batches. I kind of wish now that I'd gotten either bigger soap molds, or more of them. Making two at a time will take a lot of time.

My ingredients that gave me just a smidge more than I needed for two small square molds:

1/4 cup each:
beeswax balls; olive oil, shortening

Then added about ten drops of bug off oil after putting mixture in molds.

Supposed to let it cool in the mold for a few hours, and then keep it in an airtight container so it'll last. (I bought soap cases, which added $25 (for 5) to the cost of my gifts. Still need to buy washcloths and some kind of ribbon to tie it with.)

Now that I have the molds and the beeswax balls, I can probably do something similar for gifts later - at a smaller cost. Maybe just moisturizing soaps or lip balms. I do think though that I may have to relegate my glass measuring cup to soap making ... not sure if I'll ever get that film off of it.

Goodbye 37

December 16th, 2013 at 02:31 am

This year overall has probably been one of the best year's in a long time for me. Mainly because of NE. Smile My mom called me this morning and asked me what would make this coming year even better - I said there'd be 3 things - better health, a ring(or at least the question that usually goes with one!) Smile and a positive test. Smile I probably should've added - a good job with benefits in NEs town. Smile

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On Thursday when I was in town I'd bought a more expensive than normal frozen dinner - spinach manicotti. Normally I take myself out to eat for my birthday - some years to Olive Garden, the past few to a local place here. Manicotti has always been one of my fave treats. I wish I'd read the ingredients list more carefully ... As I was waiting for it to cook this morning (decided to have my treat meal first thing so I could more easily stay within a reasonable amount of calories for the day) I read the ingredient list. About half-way down there were five different listings of CHICKEN! I felt so disappointed and disgusted. (I'm vegetarian.) The thought of having to drive 30 minutes one way to get something else just. did. NOT. appeal.

So .... I went into town and got a pizza from the local Family Dollar. I think my body's really gotten used to eating less .. cause the pizza did NOT agree with me very well at all. Ugh. Wasn't worth it.

I would have been better off calorie wise and money wise to have just gone out to a restaurant in the first place. That's life I guess.

--

Yesterday at church I had someone who I'd not seen in about six weeks notice that I'd lost weight. Smile (14lbs as of yesterday.)

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I was feeling kind of sad this afternoon, thinking about my dad and missing him. Missing his call and off-key rendition of happy birthday. Then for whatever reason I started thinking about my dad's youngest brother who had a beef with my dad that he never let go of - not even after my dad had died. In fact, in the three years my dad lived with my grandma taking care of her, this uncle NEVER once called her. He didn't call her to give condolences when my dad died either. He called her about three weeks *after* the memorial service and not once said a word about not having called for 3+ years or anything about my dad. At the time I was sitting at the kitchen table with my grandma, and both of our mouths were just hanging open in shock. Today as I was thinking about it, I was coming up with some harsh reality words I wish I'd said to him at the time - especially with what his son recently did to my grandma (long story - but he essentially stole $8k from her while she was gone on her birthday cruise. He's not really being punished other than having to pay it back.)

Recently at a teacher in-service our principal played the song Lean On Me. She asked everyone to say something they could help another person with, and something they needed help with. I said I could help someone with technology (surprise surprise) but that I needed help with speaking my mind. That for some reason seemed to surprise more than a few people. If some of them knew what went on in my head .. what I'd LIKE to say sometimes ... but don't ... yeah, they'd be in for a shock.

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I'm thinking of getting the 2nd season of Person of Interest from Amazon Instant Video as a gift to myself. (paid for with AGC money.) It's something I've been wanting for a while, and isn't that much .. $24 I think.

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This coming week I have two normal days of classes, one class on Wednesday, and maybe two on Thursday. Then Friday is a half-day. So this will be one of the least busy weeks for me - at least class wise. I can hardly wait for Saturday to come and fly out to CA and see my brother!! Then on Wednesday on to NE!

I still need to make the soaps for gifts. I have all the ingredients, and two soap molds. Now it's just a matter of making them. Smile I'll probably do some on Tuesday, some on Thursday and some on Friday. (I'm going to make 8 all together - the molds are kind of small - so two would fit into the soap container.

Coupons I Can't Use + fitbit update

December 13th, 2013 at 05:06 am

So I was going through my emails in my hotmail account where I have all my MyPoints mail sent. In amoungst the MP emails there were about 7 emails from various restaurants for free food - a number of years ago I'd joined a bunch of birthday clubs. Of course they were all places located in the DFW metroplex area, none of which are less than 90 miles from where I am now (the closest one is Schlotsky's (sp?) ) I really would love to go to Blue Mesa again, or to Cheesecake Factory or .... Oh well, that's the choice I made by coming here.

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My fitbit was giving me fits yesterday - not counting correctly at all. So today I sent an email to customer service. They replied promptly and told me that my fitbit is defective and I could either return it to Walgreen's, or send them my receipt and they'd replace it. So I headed off to Walgreen's after work today and they exchanged it with no hassle! So I now have a beautifully working fitbit.

I currently have it connected to Walgreen's Balance Rewards, My Fitness Pal, GymPact, Achievemint and something else too I think.

I got in almost 5k steps today ... and that was *after* getting the new one.

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I got approved for the Judy Freeman seminar in February!! This will be my third year going. It makes for a nice little mini-vacation. I stay in this fancy hotel the night before, eat breakfast for free at their buffet with a made to order omlette, go to the seminar and eat lunch out (reimbursed) and then head on home again. Smile I wish the per diem was a flat rate and you didn't have to prove you spent however much on food ... but still, it makes a great paid for mini-vacation. Big Grin (plus getting to see all the great new books for kids!)

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I made $6 with Pinecone this week, and am within a few days of cashing out for a $5 AGC from irazoo again (thanks to their coupon deal - 60 pts a day!)

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I had to fill up with gas today - $30.59 for 10.xx gallons ($2.595/gallon)

I also spent $60 at Albertson's. Not all of it was food (I bought a bottle that will be good for shaking protein drinks in.) I found these individual vegetarian split pea soup bowls - 220 calories, 24gr protein!! $1.29 each. I bought all 5 they had on the shelf ... That's one thing I'm trying to up - my protein intake. So that is almost pure protein calories! (a vegetarian source of it too!)

Two weeks to go!

December 9th, 2013 at 01:37 am

Only two weeks of school left til I fly out to CA to spend a few days with my brother, Grandma and Aunt/Uncle! Then fly off again to NE to spend the remainder of Christmas break. If the plane isn't delayed, then I'll actually get to spend Christmas Day with both my family AND my bf. Smile

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This last week was a busy one. Thursday and Friday at school we worked on getting everything setup for the Community Christmas Dinner which we had on Saturday. It wasn't as much work as in the past two years (if you remember, I played Mrs. Clause the first year), but there also wasn't as much stuff donated to give away. It was a little sad on Friday afternoon around 1:30 ... everything was pretty much done and there were loads of people just standing around wondering what to do. That never was a problem the last two years!!

The dinner went pretty well overall, although we did have some people kind of complaining about the lack of stuff. They'd take the bag of food or the bucket of food and then come by the Santa's Workshop line and ask me, "Is this it?" With a big smile on my face I would respond, "Yes, it is! Merry Christmas!"

I really didn't think we'd have enough toys for all the kids - but amazingly we did! They were getting pretty scarce towards the end (especially the girl toys) but every kid got a stuffed animal and a toy!

There were a total of 1,063 people who came through and were served a turkey/ham dinner, received a bucket or bag of food, a blanket, a jacket and toys for the kids. (although towards the end we did run out of blankets and jackets - probably the last 70 or so people didn't get those)

All I can say is that I'm glad it's over!!

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In Round 1 of the 6 month long Dietbet I'm participating in, I won $18.10!

It's kind of a sad commentary on people's reading comprehension though .. on the db site there have been a lot of people complaining about how the winnings are stacking up. I really want to smack a few of them upside the head and ask .. did you read the rules and FAQ's before signing up?? It's explained pretty darn clearly. If you didn't like it, why did you sign up?!

I'd like to suggest to the db team before the next one they do like this that before you pay for your bet, that you have to pass a ten question quiz to ensure that you actually READ the material!!

Ugh!

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So on Friday I was at Walmart (what a zoo! NE tells me I should shop on Tuesday or Thursday instead to avoid the masses ... thinking about it.) I hadn't found a battery for my fitbit here in little T, so decided to get one at Walmart. What a racket! The same battery I could have gotten 5 of for $1.29 + free shipping from Ebay (which I did actually, but unfortunately my Paypal address is from three addresses ago ....) was $6.51!! I bit the bullet though because I really wanted to get started using my fitbit.

I think I like it so far. Yesterday with standing/bouncing (to try to keep warm) it only recorded 1,300 steps in 4 hours. But today with doing my weight routine and then a 35 minute walk (back and forth through my house) I managed a bit over 4k steps. Tomorrow will be very interesting to see how many steps I do on one of my 3 busiest work days.

I've linked the fitbit to My Fitness Pal, GymPact, Achievemint and to Walgreen's Balance Rewards.

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We had a two-hour delay on Thursday due to the snow/ice. One of our staff (title 1 teacher) rolled her car on the way in - she was unhurt thankfully. Saturday night another snowstorm rolled in. I wouldn't be shocked if we didn't have a two hour delay again tomorrow. (would love a snow day, but really doubt that'll happen)

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Groupon had a deal for a Journey concert in ABQ on May 20. I ran it by NE (he loves Journey too) but he didn't think it'd be a good idea since that'll be my last week here and it'll be busy finishing up packing, etc. Boo. He's right, just hate that he's right. Smile

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I have all the stuff I need to make the soaps for Christmas ... just haven't gotten around to doing it yet. MUST get it done by a week from Monday!!

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My birthday is next Sunday. I usually take myself out to eat and sometimes to a movie as well. This year though I'm thinking that I'll just get a slice of cheesecake from Walmart on Friday and rent a newer movie I haven't seen yet (maybe Tiger Eyes) and stay at home. Be much cheaper monetarily and calorie wise than going out to eat/to a theater .. plus I'm going to have two weeks away from home where I won't have a lot of control over food ... so I need to be careful if I'm going to make the Round 2 weigh in on January 5/6!

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Just got the call - 2 hour delay tomorrow! Woo hoo! I can sleep in again. Big Grin

December Snowflakes +1 :)

December 4th, 2013 at 04:51 am

The past few days I cashed in for $25 of AGCs from Swagbucks. After the monthly bonuses, I should have enough for January's $25, and then I'll start working on earning a $15 card.

I also cashed out for a $5 AGC from Bing Rewards today. I set my next goal to be a 500 SB gift card. By the time I have enough for that, I'll have Gold status. So instead of it being worth $5, it'll be worth $5.25 (cashing in for a $5 AGC from Sbs, leaving 50 SBs.)

I also finally achieved the 25,000 point level on Acheivemint . com. Of course, when I went to cash out they offered me a deal that I didn't resist. If I upped my reward goal to 50,000 points, they'd give me a free 5,000 points. Considering that it's taken me a year to get to 25,000 points ... 5,000 free points is a big deal. Smile I'm hoping to get the needed 20k points by July (increased means of earning points and being more consistent *should* make this happen.)

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Ok the other thing. Smile I just had to brag on my bf a little bit. He called me tonight totally out of the blue and sang a Stevie Wonder song to me. Big Grin That sure put a smile (read big grin) on my face. Big Grin

It's hard to believe that just about seven months ago I was stressing out over whether or not to call him and ask him whether or not he wanted to give it a second go or not. How life changes. Smile