Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Ouch! That's how much gas is at the local station. I guess I should be happy at that price since it is 10 cents more per gallon at the gas station closest to the office. Good thing I'm driving a compact car.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Small, Medium, or Large?

I don't know why I bothered. Well, actually, I do know. It was the lure of the sale. An additional 30% off sale prices. The ease of trying things on at home in my leisure instead of some crappy dressing room where the door doesn't even lock. Even the thought of paying for shipping didn't deter me.

But I need to have more will power. Everything looked so cute in the catalog and on the models. Maybe that's part of the problem. I don't have a model's figure. I'm in between petite and regular. And I don't know if I should order a small, medium, or large. I have clothes in all three sizes in my closet. I probably even have an extra small and and extra large buried somewhere. The size charts don't matter. I ended up ordering small and medium in as many items as I could (things were selling out as before I could add them to my cart). Eleven items and $125+ later, I was done.

My package arrived yesterday and once again I was disappointed. When the clothes from Eddie Bauer fit me, they fit really well. Maybe my body has changed or their sizing has changed, but in any case, I'm keeping three things (and one of those is a gift) and the rest are going back. Bummer.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I need a rabbit cam

The rabbit hutch is just outside the living room door. We have our computer in here, plus we watch TV in here. We keep hearing all kinds of banging noises from the rabbit's corner. We haven't been able to catch him doing anything. As soon as we peek outside, he's as still and quiet as a mouse. So we have no idea what he's doing. But we're darn curious!

And here's a little hay update. I've given away two large bags of hay and will give away another next week. But I haven't touched the two garbage cans yet (we filled two clean 42 gallon cans with hay). I'm still working on what I put into the small box. For a while, it seemed like it would never empty. As I pulled more hay out, what was left would uncompress to fill the space. It's been a month and I can finally close the lid.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I'm not as sad now

Just got an update from my mom. Uncle T was admitted to the hospital and she has been visiting him. Today he was awake and actually ate a bit! I have mixed feeling about this. On the one hand, this is good news. On the other hand, he's talked repeatedly about wanting to go. Wondering why he's been stuck on this earth for so long. Wondering why he's still here, but his wife, his friends are gone. Wondering how much more his body is going to deteriorate. I understand why he's tired. But I'm happy I don't have a funeral to go to this week.

Sorry if I was a little dramatic in my previous post. It's difficult to think about losing a loved one.

Monday, February 19, 2007

What I've learned about flying

Here's what I've learned over the past few flights I've taken:

If you fly on the Sunday before a holiday around dinner time, the airport will pretty empty and the security lines extra short (it took me less than 15 minutes to check my bags and get through security, amazing!).

My watch does not set off the metal detector (I forgot to take it off).

Even if you tie a red ribbon on your black suitcase, it will still be difficult to identify it. A took someone else's bag and was checking the luggage tag (he always double-checks), but I immediately knew it wasn't my bag.

You can carry Clementines (tangerines) and bananas through security without any problems. Though if you're flying in California, I don't recommend the citrus because of the medfly problem.

If you forget to turn your cell phone off on the plane, no one will notice.

There are nice TSA agents! Everyone I encountered on this last trip was smiling, cheerful, even cracking jokes. What a pleasant change.

I'm sad

Rambling thoughts, lots going on. I just got back from a visit home. In many ways, it is so stressful. I have three households to visit and that always takes some coordination. I don't want to slight anyone and of course, some people are more understanding of time than others.

It was a whirlwind visit. Had lunch with my dad which is always a long ordeal. He moves slower than molassas and is just as messy. We had Thai food, for something different. W chose the restaurant out of the phone book. Not his typical MO, but it worked out.

After that, we went home to help Mom cook dinner for New Year's. Unfortunately, I had missed some of the verbal cues and didn't realize that Uncle T would not be coming for dinner. I think that made Mom and W realize that all of their stupid ambiguous descriptions were doing more harm than good. Don't talk about Uncle T lying in bed all day and then how much better he's doing with his caretaker. Don't talk about how sharp his mind is, but then confused he is. Just come right out and say it. He's dying and there's nothing that can be done about it. There, I said it. And it brings back all the sad, mixed up feelings I had when Auntie L was dying. You'd think with time and hopefully maturity, I could weather this sad time better, but I doubt it.

So since dinner was only going to be the three of us, I told them I wanted to visit Uncle T before dinner, not after dinner and off I went. Something in me said that I needed to see him NOW.

Yes, his mind is still sharp. He recognized me and was happy to see me as soon as I went in. He was alone, no one had come to feed him, as far as I could tell. He wasn't doing very well and needed his diaper changed so I rang the staff for help. Good thing this wasn't an emergency since no one came for quite a while. I stayed for about an hour, then left.

Mom and I went back in the morning, but he was worn out from getting bathed and moved in the morning and we left after a couple of hours since I was meeting a friend and Mom wanted to go to church.

When we went back later, he wasn't there. They had taken him to the hospital so we went straight there. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and dehydration. We knew the latter was a strong possibility, but the first was a surprise. I felt a small amount of guilt that we didn't know he was that bad, but on the other hand, his two nephews and hired caretaker had been there in the morning. I assume they know more about his condition than me. He didn't wake up the entire time we were at the hospital, but then I had to leave to catch my flight.

Even though this was a three day weekend, I thought I'd just fly up for a short visit. Make life easy on myself. Give myself a day to relax. I was even considering cancelling my trip, but obviously decided not too. Good thing I didn't. I didn't realize that A would be working today. Normally, I'd be happy to have a day to myself. But in my current state, I really need the company. I have to take my car in to the body shop, deal with insurance, worry about the family. All I want to do in crawl back into bed and sleep for long, long time.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Or Gong xi fa tsai for those of you who speak Mandarin. Happy New Year! (a little early). It is the year of the Pig. From Reuters:

Sunday marks the start of the Chinese New Year and it's a lucky one for those starting out in life. But the rest of us are in for a rough ride. Expect epidemics, disasters and violence in much of the world. "The Year of the Pig will not be very peaceful," said Hong Kong feng shui master Raymond Lo. Pig years can be turbulent because they are dominated by fire and water, conflicting elements that tend to cause havoc, Lo said. "Fire sitting on water is a symbol of conflict and skirmish," he said. "We'll also see more fire disasters and bombings." Most soothsayers said the world economy will continue to boom, though they advise people to be cautious about their investments.

That's too bad because after frankly, I've had enough turbulence in my life lately and could use a little calm.

I made a batch of jai yesterday to bring home. Didn't have all the ingredients I needed, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I had more than I remembered (probably from the last time I made it, lol). If you can believe it, I didn't have any black mushrooms, or least not the right kind. I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and spend the money. Or maybe I can bum some from Mom. I think she's a little more discriminating in her tastes.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

20 tiny fingers, 20 tiny toes

I'm still trying to get the hang of this blogging/HTML coding, lol. I'd like to start sharing my photos and layouts since not all of you hang out at LM.
Here's my latest layout. I was so happy to have another visit with my nieces. Unfortunately, G couldn't come since he had a little cold, so no brother sister pics. The girls are doing better. E is off her feeding tube, woo hoo! Anyway, it is difficult to see in the photo above, but there is a white paper border and white grograin ribbon above and below the photos and color bar. The paper is a couple years old, but I think it worked perfectly for my pics. Good thing I'm a hoarder, lol!


Happy Valentine's Day to you! As is my tradition, I left a card on the dining room table for A to find in the morning. He surprised me with breakfast in bed: coffee fixed just the way I like it and heart-healthy oatmeal. It was topped with bananas cut into heart shapes and honey. How sweet! He's a keeper!

Monday, February 12, 2007

We're excavating

We spent a couple of hours this afternoon organizing one of our bookshelves. We got rid of a box of old software and computer books (all for Windows 98 and earlier, even though we still have a Windows 98 machine) and another box of miscellaneous junk. The sad thing is, the bookshelf doesn't really look any emptier or more organized. There is still a small pile next the bookshelf that we need to find places for. The reality is, it will probably just get thrown back onto a shelf to sit for another five years.

Note that "box" is one of my standard units of measure. In this case, box equals a box of copier paper (Xerox paper box if you're into abusing trademarks, lol). My other standard unit of measure is a shopping bag; you know, the brown ones from the grocery store, preferably the ones with handles. Though the Trader Joe bags and the Ralphs bags are slightly different sizes. But I digress.

We've been trying to tackle the computer desk too, but we both have tons of paper junk piled on it. It is amazing what we found at the bottom of some of these piles. I don't think we need to save the losing Lotto tickets from 2005 or old Mapquest printouts for places we've been. Sad, sad, sad how many "important" pieces of paper aren't important any more.

Maybe we need toss boxes. Like if you don't put this away, it gets tossed. Experts recommend that with kids and their toys. Maybe it works for adults too? I dunno. We definitely need to find a better system.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

More savings

In response to the latte factor post below, I decided to open another savings account and have a small amount put there every month. I need to see how little we can live on. We're already living pretty lean, but if we don't "miss" the money I sock away, I'm going to keep upping the amount bit by bit until we hit my magic number (hopefully).

I forgot to mention it before, but we've been tracking every penny that goes out for the past couple months. After this month, I think we'll stop. Three months should give us a good idea of what we spend. And December is probably the most expensive month of the year with gifts and travel and taxes. A has been a lot better than me about inputting daily expenses. I tend to save up the receipts and enter them all at once.

We tracked our expenses a few years ago. It will be interesting to compare the differences. I know that even with my scrapbooking expenses, I spend less on myself now. We don't spend that much more on food, even though I'm cooking less.

I know we can live on less, a lot less. But only if I stop putting money into savings, which I'm not willing to do.

I need to work faster

I have sooo many creative ideas in my head, I just need to get them down on paper, or better yet, just do them! A scrapbook company is sponsoring a contest for those of us who attended a crop and I bought the stuff before Christmas for my entry (actually one of my entries). I just haven't gotten around to putting it together, plus they extended the contest deadline. Me, who is so deadline driven, decided to procrastinate in honor of the new due date, lol. Now I see all kinds of ideas similar to mine floating around the web. There was even a make-and-take at CHA was similar to mine. Grrrrrr. I sure hope the judges don't think I'm a copycat. Come on girl, get going!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The latte factor

I've been looking for ways to increase my savings without having to take a second job. Why? Several things. Like A changed jobs last year and his income decreased, plus we had some added expenses. And a couple of years ago, I had to help my family out and that took a chunk of change; thank goodness we had the money saved. I want to make sure we are set if another emergency comes up again. I want to retire early. Enough reasons?

I've been doing some reading online and discussing this with some friends. But as you know, money is a touchy topic and there are only so many people you can discuss money with honestly and without judgement. Most of the online reading is for people who are worse off than we are. I don't need to learn how to decrease my credit card debt since I don't have any. I'm pretty sure we spend less eating out than most middle class couples. I know that we spend as much in a month on dining out, as a friend spends in a week. Though both amounts are probably extremes rather than the norm.

A friend loaned me a book by David Bach, Smart Couples Finish Rich. He and Dave Ramsey and other financial gurus talk about the "latte factor." Basically, if you take the money you "waste" on lattes (or eating out or buying things full price, etc.), you could save hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year. My "problem" is I don't spend money on things like that. I buy maybe 10 fancy coffees a year. I usually have leftovers for lunch. Hardly ever buy books, music, clothes. Our biggest splurge is our cars. Not that they are fancy or anything, just that we like to buy them new. Since my car is twelve years old and A's car is three (but we'll keep it until it's in the double digits), we're willing to take the depreciation.

I feel like I'm already making sacrifices for my future and not enjoying my life now. Do you have any advice for me?

Monday, February 05, 2007

I saw her!

And hold her! Who you ask? My new niece C. My SIL gave birth to twins, early, and they're in the neonatal unit. We couldn't visit without the parents, but yesterday, we were at their place to drop off a little baby gift (little outfits for the girls). They were going back to the hospital and invited us along. They were in a hurry since my SIL wanted to get there in time to feed the babies. So we didn't have a chance to get the camera from home, unfortunately.

The nurse was wonderful. It didn't phase her that there were extra visitors, including one rambucous little boy. No issues with me holding sweet little C. I never asked, but I think BIL knew I wanted to so he offered. Thank you!

There were so many sweet picture opportunities. G kissing his sisters. The babies in their parents' arms. G gently stroking his sister's hair. The nurse handing C to my BIL (that really showed how tiny she is). My SIL cradling E in her arms. I wanted the pictures not just for myself, but for them. Their digital camera is broken and he's been taking pictures with his cell phone. But you know they aren't the best quality. I hope we get another opportunity to visit, with or without the camera. Until then, I can only hold their images in my heart.

Sometimes you just need to talk

I spent some time today chatting with my friend S. We talked about scrapbooking (of course), mutual friends, and general chit chat. I think I'm too stressed about the car (I hate dealing with insurance companies) and there isn't any resolution in sight. So it felt so good to be talking about us and fun things. I felt so good after we got off the phone, I went to tackle a project that I've been avoiding. Thanks S!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Moments vs. events layouts

Just a little vent about all the scrapbook pages in magazines and product examples. Why oh why do the designers and editors continue to only give us one photo examples? Those types of pages are easier to create (at least for me), and show off the paper better, but the reality is, most scrappers are event scrappers with tons of photos to scrap.

One of my most difficult tasks is narrowing down the photos I'm going to scrap. I've got 93 photos from my last visit home, not including what J might send me. That's three events to scrapbook, so let's do some estimating. 93 divided by 3 equals 31; say half of the photos are usable, so we're down to 15. It's pretty difficult to fit 15 photos on a 2 page layout.

The last crop I went to, almost everyone was scrapping events. Come on people, we need more examples to inspire us!