Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Tree

I planted more things in my flower garden Tuesday night. Most notable was a Japanese Maple (weeping) tree. Very pretty. I also planted a small blue evergreen bush and a couple more perennials. :) I'll post pics when I get the chance!

The front still looks pretty bare. I'm hoping things fill in this year!! I need more mulch, though, that's high on my to-do list this weekend.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I got the garden asters (sort of look like daisies) planted last night. I also planted the 2 azaleas, 2 lavender plants, one thyme plant, and a begonia. I didn't get the bulbs planted, but will do that this weekend. Gotta get some mulch, too, and get that down this year!!

Oh, and I had a veritable onion garden growing in my flower bed. Oh boy. Got part of those pulled. I hate all that bending... so, I'll finish up weed pulling this week, too. :)

Someone said that gardening is just "activity" not "exercise"... well, either I'm just that out of shape, or they're wrong! LOL That digging worked out my arms and back pretty well!!


Monday, April 27, 2009


Just the idea of me gardening is quite humorous. :) I am allergic to grass outside, so I tend to not do anything with flower gardening or food gardening. Plus, frankly, I never had the time!! I find it kind of funny that I have more time now, with a 2 year old and all... but I am home more... and I think she'd like to hang out outside more.

So, this year I've decided (again) to plant some new plants outside... I ordered:
- 40 Blazing Star bulbs (20 white and 20 lavender),
- a 3 piece Garden Aster set, and
- a 2 piece Azaleas set.

I'm going to try to get them planted early this week, 'cause they came in on Friday.

Now, I need to find a bush for the front yard, and a tree. Both need to be not-too-tall (bush, maybe 2' tall, but spread... and tree, not over 10' tall I'd say). I'm looking at a Dwarf Lemon Tree... but haven't bought it yet.

For more fun, I'm considering a blueberry bush, too. But, not for the short bush I need. I'd take out a couple of the ones next to the house that I don't like...and put this in. We'll see. I am going to start small, and work my way up!!! haha

The ones I'm most worried about are the Azaleas. They are pretty, but it said something about shade/partial day sun... and I was going to put it in full sun. So, I might have to change my spot for them... I wonder how they'd do under my two pine trees in the back yard...?

Any gardening tips to share?!!!


Friday, April 24, 2009


I've been looking at foster care and foster-adoption lately. It's one option for me when looking at family building. One thing I have found interesting when talking to people is that they feel like fostering a child would be out of the realm of possibility for them because the children are "too messed up" for them to care for. That the children might be to difficult or, God forbid, have things they have to deal with in order to heal.

Is it ugly? Yes. Do I understand how these people hurt their children like they do? NO. Is it easy to help someone when they've gone through SO much and are only a child? I'm absolutely sure it won't/wouldn't be.

Should we reject these children just because they have baggage and hurts we don't understand? No.

The odd thing for me is that I don't feel like these people say they do. If anything, I feel like I'm probably not good enough to take on such a worthy, amazing task. I have my own flaws. I am by no means perfect. But for some reason, I feel like I'm supposed to help somehow. And if that means taking a risk, then that's what I will do.

Now, here's the thing. I seem to be a worrier by nature. (or was that nurture?) I'm not as much worried about the child(ren) I might foster/adopt as I am my own capabilities as a parent. It seems other people aren't this way. Which I find odd. Other people seem to have this self-confidence, that I don't have. And why that's weird is because I've had Lil M for almost 2 years now! You'd think I'd be more confident by now. She's great. We're great... but it is a pretty well known fact that she's a fantastic child.

So, I pray. I'll continue to pray about this situation and moving forward. I'm in the process of becoming certified as a foster/adoptive parent in my state. And, I hope by the time that process is finished that I will feel more confident that I can help a child who needs me. It is in God's hands, and I am confident that God knows what is best for all of us. :)

I also pray for those rejected by their families. My heart breaks for them.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Budget update

I had to tweak the budget this month because I'm converting from a consultant at work to full-time.

Good news is
- that our insurance is extremely reasonable (includes dental and vision)
- the company pays for short term disability
- the quite nice company match to 401K contributions (after 1 year)
- that the company pays for a decent amount of life insurance
- that even though long term disability is paid by me, but is reasonable
- that the vacation is good, plus the actual days off for holidays give me more time with Lil M!!

The Not so good is the pay cut, of course. So, I had to revise the budget. The loss feels bigger than it probably would because I'm starting 401k contributions again. I know the market took a huge hit this year, but I'm a big believer in saving for retirement. I'm only putting 6% in, to start, but once they contribute that'll automatically double. Plus, they give an automatic 3% on top of that! So, next year, It'll go up to 15% without me doing anything! Woot!

I have to remember this when I look at my monthly income, though. Yikes.

The other good news is that Sis got a small raise where she works. So, that'll help. She's made huge strides since all the crap happened with ex-hubby to get back on her feet. And this is good for her. I still hope she gets her resume together, though, and eventually finds something else. They don't treat her that well there, and have taken advantage of her (mainly in salary).

I'm still working on getting the debt paid down. To date, Sis has one credit card paid off. As of this month, that'll be 2. Sweet! For me, I have paid off 3 credit cards, and have 3 more plus the line of credit to go. I'm still on target to get 2 more paid off by September. Which leaves just 2 big bills left. Sis will take much longer than that... boy, is divorce expensive. (i'm glad she's almost done with all of that, for many reasons... the least of which is money related!!)


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pasta salad recipe and Mayo

I found a post I wanted to share about a pasta salad recipe... here

She asked an interesting question, that came up at my family's Easter dinner table today!

Are you a Mayo person or a Miracle Whip person?

Me... Mayo all the way!! :)

Here's part of her post:

I have a habit of making a big pot of pasta once a week. It might be elbows, bowties, or wagon wheels. Whatever I find in the pantry, mostly. I drain it and coat it with some olive oil and keep it in the fridge for a quick dinner. I might top it with spaghetti sauce or add some parmesan and serve it with chicken tenders. More often in the summer, I'll make pasta salad. The recipe is pretty free form - but it always, always contains hard boiled eggs. Eggs are a great source of protein and hard cooked eggs stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week.

For Easter dinner tonight, I mixed the pasta with a couple big spoonfuls of light Miracle Whip - I'm SUCH a sucker for that stuff - which brings me to this stumper, thanks to The Hubster - are you a MAYO person or a MIRACLE WHIP person? He's the former and i'm the latter and we argue about it allllll the time. I grind in some salt and pepper, and then the eggs. ALWAYS four - or more - hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped. That's the basic salad, the part that never changes. Today, I added chopped tomatoes (I can't WAIT for summer tomatoes, that makes the dish 100000% better) and diced green pepper. That's it, that's all. It was delicious. Sometimes I add cheese cubes, diced meat, pickles, frozen peas (which defrost almost instantly and remain just a bit crunchy) - the list goes on and on.

I'm going to try this. Sounds super easy!!! :) And, I completely agree with her about the summer tomatoes. Can't wait!!


Friday, April 10, 2009


I'm a little sad today... no, none of my pets have passed or anything, but Manna, my cat, did her business in the family room today (not in her box). So, back to the office she goes. She'll have to stay there when I'm not home, where there is a box very close. Ugh. I know she's almost 15, but I had a huge problem with cats not going in their boxes a couple of years ago, and I just can't do it again. It was awful, awful, awful.

Anyway, just wanted to vent a little. It makes me sad. :( But, otherwise, she seems to be holding up ok with her thyroid issue.

I hope everyone has a very blessed Easter weekend.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Basic Budget

I thought I'd write my thoughts about creating a basic budget. I know this might seem, well, really basic... but that's all it needs to be! Sometimes I think we make things much harder than they need to be!

I've got my budget complete, and it includes all of these, and then some.

1. House payment or rent
2. Car payment (even if you don't have one, i suggest starting to pay yourself)
3. Home upkeep bills - phone, cell phone, cable/satellite, water, sewage, heat, A/C, electric, internet...
4. Debt - credit cards,
5. Insurance (health and life and car and home...) the insurances that are a must are car and home/rent. the other two, well, i hope you have.
6. Groceries (start with what you know, then write down what you eat monthly for each member of the family for each week.)
7. Gas allowance and car miscellaneous (oil changes and the like)
8. Lunches
9. Pet food and such (dog food, cat food, cat litter...)
10. Vet bills, dry cleaning, etc.
11. Savings allowance
12. Fun allowance

Write it all down. Put a realistic/actual bill amount next to each item. Add them up. Do they add up to your monthly income? Are you over extended?

The next step is to figure out where/how you can cut back, if you are over extended, to be within your budget.

The step after that is to pay down your debt. Take one credit card and pay it off. Feel good. :) Do it again (if necessary).

Save an emergency fund.

Start paying yourself in advance... 401K, savings, IRA, CDs...

For me, I'm paying down debt. I've cut back, way back. I've never lived over my budget, or so I thought. But when you add the credit cards... you see it all adds up and you're likely over budget. Or why else would you use your credit cards every month? Right? You say you don't need it, but think about it. I don't like having to rely on them. The interest is obscene.

I put some of my savings into CD's this month. I use a Credit Union (which I HIGHLY recommend if you can get into one where you live)... because they always have higher CD rates than the normal banks.

By coming up with a plan to get things paid off, I can get my savings boosted back up here soon!! That feels really good :)


Friday, April 3, 2009

Frugal and saving

I'm going to see if this blogger's challeng of saving $1000 in 30 days can actually work for me... here are his first 6 steps:

1. I currently already bring my lunch almost daily. If I eat out once in a month, that's a big deal.

2. I turn the thermostat WAY down when we're gone for the day. Currently, it is off during the day because the outside temperature is supposed to be in the 50's or above. My downfall is when I sleep. I can't sleep in a cold house.

3. Sis is going to sell a couple of things for me on eBay. I don't really have luck with that. But I might try craigslist or something.

4. I'm trying to get my friends involved with savings right now... especially due to the hit to the economy.

5. I optimized my cell phone bill in March, actually.

6. Hedge fund the gas prices, seems pretty realistic. It just means that the money I'm *not* spending right now on gas, I should put in a high-yield (as high as i can find, anyway) account (and not spend it!!) to help for when the prices do go back up. I'm going to look into this.