Hello, love

I never intended to really get one. It just sort of happened. Welcome home you lovely gorgeous fun thing you.


Here's why I got an iPhone. Basically, it's because I suck at directions. I get lost at the drop of a hat and I know it infuriates people because it infuriates me to no end.

I intended on getting a GPS for my car and I also needed a new cell phone because my contract with Sprint is up and I loathe Sprint and their wonky billing. So, you see, I'm really saving money getting one piece of technology rather than buying two separate items*. Plus, now Derick can have my mp3 player and he'll owe me for being the coolest mom ever so there's always that, too.


*I'm aware that I probably won't save money in the long run, but that's neither here nor there.


Here ya go, Internet. Bearing my checkbook isn't easy.

My 30 days of tracking every single penny that goes in and out are finished. And I'm shocked to say the least. As I was adding several columns up, I thought I must have pushed a multiplication button on the calculator or something crazy like that. I was utterly dumbfounded at what I spent over the last 30 days.

I choose to go all old school and hand write everything. For each category I would write the name of the place I spend money at, what I bought, how much I spent and if I used cash or a debit card. I only used a credit card once and I didn't notate that amount because I did note the credit card payment I made on that particular card.

The one real difference this past 30 days has been compared to most of the year is that I was on vacation for 3 weeks. This really had a huge impact, I think, on my spending in certain areas where I'm normally very lean on such things as dining and entertainment. But that leads me to believe that my grocery bill would be less because I ate out more. WRONG. I also drove more this past few weeks than I normally do also which means that fuel was much higher than I expected. I'm just glad that gas prices have dropped some otherwise I really would have been shocked.

I'm not one of those people who's insanely private about my income or expenses so I'm just going to put it all out there. Here's the categories with amounts and income for the last 30 days.


Household: $402.66
I was truly shocked when I got this total. After I examined what the total included I realized that my trip to IKEA and my new bedding for my bedroom makeover are included in this. Normally I would expect this amount to be much less.

Grocery: $356.98
Holy crap. I had no idea. I'm almost embarrassed to say that when I started this I estimated I would spend around $250.00 for the month. Boy was I wrong. In my defense I cook almost every single dinner at home and for 2 of the 4 weeks I was packing Derick's lunch for school.

Charity/Donations: $43.95
This must sound horrible but I don't normally donate this much in monetary ways to charity often. But there were a few people who needed some help and I opened my wallet. Only $4 of this total is actually tax deductible but the good feelings I got from the rest was worth it.

Dining/Entertainment: $260.14
HOLY SHIT. I must sound delusional but I estimated $50 at the start of this project. I rarely eat out. I almost always take my lunch to work and since I cook most nights it's a treat to order a pizza, usually I just make my own pizza. The only time I eat out is when I meet a friend for dinner. I blame this high amount on being on vacation from work. This total does include a trip to the zoo, a night out on the town (which included drinks and parking) and my morning coffee that I've started making at home instead of buying.

Telephone/Cell Phone/Internet: $122.42
This is actually lower than I expected. My cell phone carrier charges me $50 one month and $120 the next for no apparent reason so I lucked out this month and was charged less than $50.

Mortgage: $1363.65
I hesitate putting this number down for all to see because well, it's misleading. Instead of a 30 year traditional mortgage I have a 15 year mortgage and I add additional money to pay down the principal every month. I'm determined to have my house paid off in about 9-10 years even though I have 12 left. This number included all taxes and insurance that are in escrow.

Savings: $250
Part of this includes money that I set aside in my traditional IRA and some includes money that goes straight into a regular savings account. The sad part about this? Every single penny that I saved came back into my checking account because I ran low on money. The money into the IRA stays put at all times which means I'm putting money into regular savings only to pull it back out within the month and take a little more than I put in. It's like this every month. I save some and take even more.

Personal: $368.19
Lord. This is exceptionally higher than I expected, also. I switched gyms this past month and had to pay $54.07 to sign up which I wasn't expecting. This also includes $40 to take a vegan cooking class (I've taken a few of them and really enjoy them). I also got a few pairs of jeans and a jacket during the month. I expect that soon I'll have to spend more money for clothes because my weight is still slowly moving down the scale and I'll need some work clothes soon.

Fuel: $230.73
I guess this isn't too bad. But I had estimated $125 which is way off.

Cable TV: $59.95
I loathe paying this bill, but how would I watch Project Runway and Top Chef without it?

Alarm system monitoring: $22.57
It's a necessary evil. My daddy might beat me if I didn't have an alarm.

Childcare: $350.00
This amount is misleading because I'm fortunate that Eric's parents pay for childcare. But I included the income from them reimbursing me into my total income for the month so it evens out.

Insurance: $345.91
This only includes my health insurance and Derick's health insurance. Self employed health insurance? Sucks. This is also a tad misleading because I'm reimbursed for this also which is reflected in my income total.

Credit Cards: $269
Oh credit cards. How I hate thee. One I paid off so this total is higher than normal.

Gifts: $12.98
I swear I'm not a cheapskate. I got the kids some small stocking stuffers for Christmas.

Kids: $50.91
This includes haircuts, clothing and books for both kiddos. I didn't spend much this month which I'm surprised about.

Total outgoing: $4,566.40 (HOLY CRAP)


Returns: $47.07
This includes a Target return which is included as an expense above so it cancels itself out.

Income: $4,813.12
This amount includes a myriad of things. Salary, child support, childcare reimbursement, medical expense reimbursement, $1 that I found on the ground at Barnes & Noble (I said I was going to count every single penny, didn't I?), transfers from my savings account and $.41 from the balance of a gift card that the cashier gave back to me in change.

BOTTOM LINE: +246.72

Technically I didn't spend more than I took in. But truthfully I really did. If I hadn't have transferred $250 from my savings account to my checking account I'd be in the hole $3.28.

I'm actually quite pleased that I was so close to my income and not over, by much. But that's because I was afraid I'd be over spending by hundreds of dollars. This exercise has taught me a few things that I need to sit down and put pen to paper to determine how I'm going to arrange my future finances. I need to get back into the habit of meal planning instead of buying out the store and making random dishes for dinner each night. I also need to set a strict budget for a few areas. I'd also like to increase my savings and the amount I put toward my house each month.

After I finish this post and close the computer down for the night I'm going to grab my old school notebook, find a calculator and a pen and make myself a budget based on my findings. It will be a bold grownup move that I'm quite old enough for and quite ready to embark upon.

Even though I'm shocked with what I spend my money on I'm glad that I took the time to track everything. Tell me, have you tracked your money for 30 days? Were you surprised? If you did, did you find that you were more aware of where your money went from then on?


So, I wrote this on Tuesday night, and as of today (Thursday), I have a new budget in place and I'm ready to take on the world. Tomorrow is payday so I start from scratch tomorrow and I'm going to track the next 30 days again to see what adjustments need to be made. I'm excited and nervous!

Tuesday babble

A little over 3 months ago I decided to become a vegan. It was an intensely personal, and some may say radical, choice. I stocked my whole kitchen and pantry with new cookbooks, pantry staples and an ever changing assortment of fresh veggies and fruits that make their way to my plate. I also choose to change the diet of my youngest son, Jackson. As for the teenager, Derick, he makes his own choices away from home and that's his right, but at home he eats as a vegan, mostly without complaining. He is a teenager, so I don't really go a day without the complaining.

I've gotten some really interesting reactions to my diet change, some I was expecting and some I would have never even thought I'd get. For the most part the teasing and making jokes is over with. I think everyone has accepted this for what it is, a choice that I made. I try to not be a burden on family and friends with my new diet. I can, for the most part, find something to eat at most restaurants with a few modifications. A few places have zero options which still amazes me. The vegans of the world aren't a HUGE group, but we exist and it sure would be nice to have an option or two everywhere.

I've slipped up a few times, mostly on accident. Over Halloween I did intentionally not read an ingredient label because I was sure it contained some animal derived ingredient. Sure enough, after I ate the candy in question, I kicked myself because it did indeed contain milk. Milk chocolate usually does contain milk. But I didn't beat myself up over it. One tiny piece of milk chocolate wasn't going to matter in the whole scheme of things and my purpose.

Along the way I've read some fascinating books, ate some delicious food and met some really groovy people. I've become more aware of products that are coming into my home and how they affect my life, my kids lives, the animals in the world and my planet.

This diet change is so much more than what passes through my lips. It's about awareness and a positive feeling I get from making a choice everyday to do what is right for me. One of the very few negative comments I've gotten was when someone told me that they thought I was doing this to be morally superior and to feel better than everyone else. What they person failed to understand is that my choice has nothing to do with other people. I don't feel like I'm a better person or morally superior. What I do feel is better. I feel healthier, lighter and overall better. It may be a mental thing, but it works for me.

This will be my first holiday as a vegan and it's going to be interesting. I have no doubts that I won't be tempted to eat the things I once did. But I do worry that people around me will be uncomfortable or feel the need to point out that I'm not eating certain things and make me uncomfortable. In the end though, the holidays aren't about food, they are about being with family and friends and enjoying each other. That I can count on for sure, no matter what food is served.

I look forward to meeting more people and answering questions about what I do and don't choose to eat. I look forward to learning to cook more things that I'm not used to cooking (artichokes scare me!*). I look forward to showing people that being a vegan doesn't mean the end of the world. Mostly, though, I look forward to teaching my children that even if they don't want to be vegans that it's OK to be different and to embrace it. Because it is OK to be different, sometimes it's even kind of fun.

I don't talk much about being a vegan on my blog and I'm not really sure why. It's become a large part of my life in so many ways. Everything from the obvious food choices to the more obscure choices like what eyeliner I buy are all connected. I guess I don't want to be judged or pigeonholed by anyone. But just as I am trying to teach my kids, I need to celebrate being different.

It's what makes the world go 'round, as they say.


*Anyone wanna tell me the best way to cook an artichoke? Anyone?


United we stand, divided we e-mail.

Today I got an e-mail that literally made my stomach fall. It had no typed words, just an attached picture for me to download.

I see this sort of stuff all the time, especially recently and this one disturbs me more than any other e-mail "forward" I've gotten in a long time. Why? Because some are equating their new President with the horrific and desperate act of suicide.

I have a (fairly distant) relative who committed suicide not long ago and I can assure you it was not over the President. That seems obvious, right? I just can't let it go that this "headstone" was made by someone who put such little thought into what that bottom word means.

I e-mailed back the person who sent this to me and I like to think I was level headed and to the point without being accusatory or a crazy liberal, but I hope that if you get this e-mail forward and you agree that you will carefully select who you send it to.

If you get this forward and are as disgusted as I am, thank you, I don't feel so alone in my shame of some of my fellow human beings.


Today has been a trying day for some reason. Jackson has officially welcomed his Terrible Two's into our home. I have asked Terrible Two's to be a nice guest and stay out of the way but it seems that he's just here for a long stay to be an asshole. He probably won't even pick up after himself.


I need a nap.


Finally, I found love.

Remember my very recent post about my stove? How someone (Eric) left a plastic bowl on the coil and it melted? Well, I didn't get much into the disdain I have for my stove. It is not fancy by any means, it doesn't even have an oven light for goodness sake! I won't even talk about how it lacks a timer or clock or even self cleaning capabilities. It's literally the cheapest model my home builder could find short of picking one up on the side of the road.
After I posted that blog my mother read it. This is nothing new, she reads my blog often (Hi Momma!) but the thing that makes this time special is that she was in the middle of the ocean on a large cruise ship, surfing the Internet and read my blog. How sweet, right? Well, it turns out that there was a Home Depot gift card sitting at my parent's house because they had returned some of the left over flooring from when I did my massive home improvements. Because my Momma read my blog she sent me a text when she got on dry land and told me to go get a new stove. Sweet Jesus, I literally thought I was going to jump out of my skin.

So, dear readers, I am here to sing the praises of my lovely stove and how if I could, I'd marry it. But I'm sure that's illegal because some people think they need to be in the bedrooms of others unnecessarily.

Excuse the fingerprints smack dab in the middle of the back of the newest addition to my household. I was too excited to notice them until now. These prints belong to the gentleman who installed (read: plugged in) my range. This is the same gentleman who saw me in my pj's and pink fuzzy slippers.

Do you see it? FIVE places for pots! FIVE, PEOPLE!!! The middle spot in the back is a warming burner! It keeps things warm! And the front two burners can be either small or large! And I got a smooth surface cook top instead of burners! (Can I add any more exclamation points!?)

Oh, it's so shiny. Even with my horrible picture taking capabilities. This range has an oven light, self cleaning, a clock AND a timer! I've hit the mother load.

See! Warming zone!

I was extremely fortunate that my brother and sister-in-law came with me to help in the selection process and I was able to get the best deal for my price point. Also, they helped to save me 20% off the list price which makes me even happier. I cook almost every single day, often more than once a day so this new appliance is sure to make life a tad easier and Lord knows I need all the help I can get.

As for the old range, I plan in fixing the coil and donating it to Habitat For Humanity.


This is not even remotely related but do you guys watch The Biggest Loser? Did you absolutely CHEER when (evil) Vicky's husband was sent packing?


Can I talk about money for a second? Oh, and a makeover.

I've been tracking my spending, every red cent, for about three weeks now. I'm eleven days from adding up all the columns and falling over dead at the shock. When I decided to track what I spend, I knew I'd be surprised a little, sure, but I had no idea that I might be looking at needing CPR to bring myself back to life.
I've actually been mindful of what I've been spending and careful that I don't go crazy. Hell, I bought the $1.39 container of cooking spray as opposed to the fancy $3.79 container. That counts right? But I think I may have screwed myself this month with eating out which I rarely do. Eating out for me is a treat, it just doesn't happen often. But since I've been on vacation for the last few weeks I've been splurging and eating the yummiest Thai foods and Taco Bell (lots of vegan options!) and pizza.
Oh and I also decided to revamp my boring bedroom. This costs money, sadly. Of all the rooms in my house, including bathrooms, my bedroom has remained untouched since I bought it in 2005. To keep myself in check I gave myself a budget for the entire room. Holy shit people, I'm making budgets left and right! Is it possible I'm becoming a REAL adult?
After purchasing (500 thread count Egyptian Cotton) sheets last night, a bed skirt and satin pillowcases (tacky?) I'm at a grand total of $109.84 and my budget is $500. What remains on my list of things to procure are as follows:
  • Comforter. I have one picked out at Linens N Things and because that store is closing it's on sale, 20% off but I may wait it out and see if it will be discounted further. That's where I got the sheets from regularly $79.99 and I got them 20% off.
  • Pillow shams. I want lots of pillows, ones to sleep on and ones that just look pretty. I want a Martha Stewart bed. Minus the Martha Stewart.
  • Rug. Since I replaced the floor from carpet to wood I'd like an area rug around the bed to warm up the space some. I found one I liked at Target that's on sale through Saturday, but I think I'll hold off because it may not be the perfect rug.
  • Paint. OK, I know this sounds so tacky but I want to paint the headboard wall gold. I'm sure I can buy gold colored paint. Trust me, in my head it's fabulous.
  • Chair. My bedroom is quite large and I have room for a seating area. I want something comfy, medium sized and not expensive. Damn the budget.
  • Small lamp. This is a maybe. I think a small table, lamp and the above chair would make a nice sitting area. But I'm still on the fence about it.
  • Art. Even though I have art on the walls in my bedroom now, they are too small for the space and need to be moved. Plus, they won't fit in with my color scheme.
  • Curtains. Curtains are my nemesis. I want drama but I know with drama comes a big price tag. And usually I hang curtains and hate them.
  • Throw blanket. Momma gets cold at night in the winter and I'd love to have a coordinating blanket as opposed to the army green blanket I have now.

That's a lot for a budget of $500 isn't it? I'm already sweating! I'm up for thrifty ideas if you care to share.

Also, here are some pictures of what I have and what I'm thinking about getting. I'm always leery of sharing my design ideas because what if someone looks at it and thinks it's a sucky idea? I feel the same way about cooking for people, I don't want to be judged. (So much for the grown up feeling.)

The color scheme is a glacier blue, gold, browns and white.

This is the comforter and pillow cases I have my eye one. In person it's a pretty slightly shiny glacier blue. I love the alternating monochromatic stripes in different sheen's. To me, it looks rich. And the comforter is plush and not at all flimsy. I don't want all the bedding to be this color. I want accent pillows in brown and gold and white. The bed skirt will be a crisp white. God, I know it sounds awful doesn't it? But in my head it sounds lovely.

Here are the gold satin pillowcases I got. I think the color combination will be lovely with the whites and browns.

See the top sheet? In white? That's what I got yesterday. The 4Th sheet from the top is the same color as the comforter.

And lastly, here's the rug I'm eyeing. It's way out of proportion, but you can see the idea. It has the shades of the blue and brown. I'm not normally a floral fan but this rug coordinates so well and I actually like the graphic pattern of the mums.
So far I've not even thought much about curtains. But if I paint the back headboard wall a gold color and keep the other walls white I'll probably get gold colored curtains or maybe white. See, I suck at curtains. So, what do you think? Lame? Perfect? I think I have enough colors to make it interesting if done right, but not so many colors that it won't be a restful place.

ETA: Sarah asked to see pictures of my bedroom. So I grabbed my camera, attempted to straighten the bed somewhat so it didn't look like someone was sleeping in the bed and took a few pictures. I'd like to point out that I'm a single mother to a toddler and a teenager and therefore my bedroom is my dumping ground for all things with no home. Feel free to feel bad for me instead of judge me.

Upon entering my bedroom:

That pile you see? I told Derick that I was confiscating all his clothes that he leaves on the floor and I now have a pile as tall at the dresser.
And a random roller skate. I have a todder, remember?


Also, thanks for the suggestions for my stupid coil on my stove. I have yet to attempt to fix it, but I will soon. But the only reason I'm fixing it now is because I want to sell it for a few bucks. That's right, I got a new stove!!!!!!!! I'm positively giddy! Pictures to follow soon because I know you want to see my new range.


Are you handy? Or maybe you could ask your husband?

I have a problem. It's a house problem and I honestly don't know how to fix it. I've been dealing with this for months now and I'm so embarrassed to say I've done little to remedy the issue. I thought I could figure out a way to fix it, because I try to be self sufficient as much as possible, but no amount of power tools or shop vacs will help me know.

Months ago I was cooking something on my (electric) stove top and someone (Eric) put a plastic bowl on my still warm burner and I didn't notice it until the bowl had melted over the entire coil.

I removed the coil from the stove and carried it to Home Depot and begged for assistance and they showed me where replacement coils were but apparently my cheap ass home builder left me with the shabbiest oven/stove in the history of appliances and I'd have to special order the coil for over $50.

What's really sucky about this is that it's my biggest burner so I've been cooking on the tiny, itty bitty burners for months. Why my stove only has one large burner and the others are tiny is more proof that my builder sucks and should have karma come bite them in the ass. While they are cooking on their billion dollar 8 large burner stove (covet!!).

So, ladies, can you help me? Can you tell me how to remove burned on plastic from a coil burner so I can just use it again instead of spending money on a new one? Maybe enlist your husband's to answer? Or send one of the over here? I pay in cookies.


Change starts now

It's 10:31 pm on November 4, 2008. Approximately 30 minutes ago it was declared that Barack Obama is our countries newest President elect. As I heard the news I walked around the living room pumping my fists in the air and felt goose bumps form on my arms. I thought of my Dad, far away on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean , and hoped that he is watching the news while in his state room. I wanted to wake Derick up to tell him the news, to tell him that his new President has been elected. I felt proud to be one of the ones who voted for my new President. I'm waiting anxiously for my new Presidents speech and I just know that he will not disappoint.

The thing I am most proud of right now, though, is John McCain's concession speech. He was gracious and honorable and humble. I got tears in my eyes when he said that Barack Obama was his President now. For some reason it had never occurred to me that the loser to the Presidency would have a President of his own. That must sound ridiculous but I never thought of it that way. McCain was a gracious loser and I respect his decision to call Obama and congratulate him. I admire him for his desire to tell his supporters to project that support to their new President. I've not paid much attention to many concession speech's but I think that was a respectful, mindful and honest speech.

To me, this election was not about black or white, male or female, Republican or Democrat, it was about the best person to fix our broken country not just slap a band aid on it and call it a day. I hope this is the beginning of new things to come and positive changes heading our way.

I hold out hope that my children will live in a more peaceful world and I hope that change starts today.


Kids really are smart

I was chatting with Derick a few minutes ago and I told him that in 2 days we would have a new president. I'm the most excited about this election than I ever have been. Derick is excited, too. In his school (and most schools in the area it seems) the kids voted for president and it seems that kids these days are really getting into the voting process.

Case in point. Nickelodeon has a special page set up for kids to vote. I think this is way cool. There is information on each candidate and I think this a positive step for kids to see that they do matter, even if they are only one vote. Plus, it seems that kids are smart. They voted for Obama. (There's my one and only plug for who I support.)

If every person who didn't vote because they didn't think their one vote would make a difference would just go out and vote, our country would be completely different, I'm sure of it. Don't be lackadaisical, people. Get out there and vote.

I honestly don't care who you vote for, I just care that you do vote. People who don't vote and have the ability to do so don't get the right to bitch and moan about what happens. Period. So, go vote for real. Let your voice be heard.


After the candy high went away

We had a great Halloween. Saw some cute kids, told a guys dressed as Darth Vader that he was NOT Jackson's father and ate my weight in Twizzlers. Still sort of in a sugar coma, so pictures will have to replace normal sentences and strung together thoughts.

He's got a tail, people. It was my sole criteria for his costume. Oh, and the ears, too. Pay no attention to the weeds behind him.

See my yard? See how it needs to be edged? My HOA is probably mad at me for being the only house that doesn't have a perfect yard.

Derick wore an old mask that belongs to my dad. Every time Jackson sees it he smiles and says "Silly Garrett" because he can't say Derick yet. Also because I didn't want him to be scared so we laugh at Derick when he wears the mask. Eric is an (aging) hippie. If you know Eric, then you know why this fits him perfectly and made me roll my eyes.

He has some hairy feet and needs his nails trimmed. Also, his stroller is on it's side so I can replace the wheels.

What does any sane person do when their stroller is on it's side? Bite the tires, of course.

Derick had a friend spend the night and this is the aftermath. Apparently people give away sodas in large quantities which I find odd. It's also important to note that they didn't sleep at all last night. Also, it's more important to note that I had no idea they had the entire candy bucket in the room with them. I'm waiting for them to crash hard.