Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Storm 2009 Day 2

We woke up this morning to the sound of trees crashing down. It is a VERY scary sound. So far we still have power, but it is a matter of time before we lose it I think. WE have a huge tree in the back that is already resting on the power lines and the snow is coming down like crazy, adding more and more weight to the limbs.

I have taken a shower, washed all the dishes, and have a hug pot of veggie soup on, so that we will have that ready if needed.

The waiting is what is driving me crazy. I am keeping my laptop charging and keeping my phone on charge so if we do lose power at least I will have those for a while.

I just went outside and there is about 3 inches of snow on the ground now and it is still falling. The wind is blowing and the trees are making scary noises and getting closer and closer to the ground.

I wish we had turned tail and fled to AL yesterday but I guess if we did not stick this one out, we would have another one in the future to sit through.

How is everyone else doing?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Family Portraits

He was DYING to sit on the block and have his picture taken. Ok he relly just wanted to play with it, so he had to settle for having his picture taken with it.

He has such a mischevious smile!

My little boy is getting so big!

Pretty good looking family I think!

Mom and Dad

This is one of my favorites! Daniel sat down on Jeff's back and did "stinky bubbles" and had us all cracking up.

Before the stinky bubbles!

Mommy and Daniel. He only looks sweet and innocent!

Can't you see his devil horns?

Winter Storm Update

We woke up to several inches of snow/ice mix. It has continued to sleet/freezing rain. It is SLICK out there. I went to the office this morning to try and get a few things done and could not even get in the door. It was frozen shut! Some people are predicting us to lose power later in the day as the ice/snow build up on trees and power lines. I sure hope that does not happen! I am enjoying spending some time with Daniel today though. He will be staying in AL for several weeks to spend some time with my family. It will be really quiet without him, but he is super excited about it. When we told him last night he immediately went in his room and packed his suitcase of toys. Today he has asked my every 10 min or so if we were going to AL yet. He also had to tell everyone in line behind us at McDonalds this morning that he was going to AL to see his Mimi this weekend!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Yes I am alive! I have been fairly busy this weekend so I have not had any time to post. We had family pictures done Saturday morning. I will try and post some when I get home from work. They turned out great! Did the few errands and whipped up some bath salts and then I was lazy for the rest of the day!

Sunday I spent cooking and making laundry soap, and then cooking some more, with a little cleaning thrown in.

Today I have been preparing for our first significant Winter Storm!!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWW! I did buy a propane heater than is rated for indoor use that we can use if we lose powed to heat at least one room with. AND I got it on sale!!! We should have plenty of non perishables to eat and we already had some jugs of water. Think we should be ok. If you do not hear from me for a few days we probably lost power and my laptop battery is dead. If you do not hear from me in a week....SEND HELP!!!!

Now it all just needs to go away by this weekend so we can make it home to AL for our visit!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The big C?

Jeff and I had talked about trying to have a baby, so I had quit getting my birth control shot. Reality set in and we both realized that right now we just can't afford to have another baby. So I made an appointment with the health department.

Since I had been off my birth control, I had to do a Pap and all that fun stuff, wait 2 weeks (no sex) and then come back and do another pregnancy test and they would give me my shot.

When I went in this morning, I noticed a new paper in my chart so I was looking over it as the nurse was getting everything ready. It was my pap results.

A little over 2 years ago, I had an abnormal pap. I had to have a colposcoy done and they did a biopsy of the cells as well. Everything came back fine. Not precancerous or anything. Because of that abnormal pap though I also had to have pap's done every 3-6 months just to keep an eye on things. All of those were fine. I had my last one right before I moved here last year.

This time the results are not just abnormal they are: High-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL): This category is used for cell changes that have a higher likelihood of progressing to cancer. This category includes the presence of moderate to severe dysplasia, carcinoma in situ (CIS), CIN 2 and CIN 3, or changes suspicious for invasive cancer.

I really do not know anything other than the cells look worse than they did the first time. Which scares me. Will this keep coming back every year or so and gradually get worse until I do have cancer? Do I have cancer now?

I have to go have another colposcopy done at the end of February and probably a biopsy as well. Then I should know a little more as far as what is wrong.

I asked the nurse practitioner if I should get the HPV shot. She said that they do not know what effect it has in people over 26 as they have not studied it. I will be 26 in March. She said that it is also costly. It is $140 a shot and you have to have 3 shots over a 6 month period. She did say though that if it was her, she would get it. Guess my emergency fund will be going towards that.

I also asked what kind of treatment there is and basically they will do the colposcopy and the biopsy and then if there is cancer they will have to remove the parts of my cervix that are infected. Depending on how much they have to remove, it can prevent me from being able to conceive.

I called my mom after I got to work and got some stuff taken care of. As soon as I started talking to her I started crying. She offered to come up here and do whatever she needed too. Can you make it go away? Then she asked if I had told Jeff. Mom that is not a conversation I want to have on the phone. "Hi dear! How's your day? Oh yeah, it looks like I might have cancer." Honestly, it is not a conversation I want to have when I get home tonight either.

We have decided to put off having a baby, and now we might not even be able to have one. I guess I am lucky that I already have Daniel. I know I have to think positive (thanks for reminding me mom) but right now I am just scared.

Anyone have any experience with this?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My new look.....

THE ESKIMO!!!! Heehehe. My neighbor gave me a jacket. She took pity on me and my no winter jacket self.

I actually like this picture. Too bad I did not have makeup on today.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Update on Savings 2009

I have slowly but surely been plugging away with our savings for the month. I have kept adding $20 every week from Jeff's paycheck as well as every other week from mine. Jeff has done a few side jobs (anyone need heating and air work?) and I have added the money from that to our savings as well.

So far this month we have saved $275! That is $150 more than we had planned for the month! It adds up to 18.33% of our goal saved in less than a month!

We have a little more lee way in out checking account right now too. After our trip home in 2 weeks maybe I will be able to put a little more extra money in the savings account!

Friday, January 16, 2009

I have a problem

Hi. My name is Natalie and I am a cold-weather-aholic.

Jessica pointed out to me that I am obsessed with the cold weather, and I think she is right. Maybe because we have never really experienced cold weather before? I really am not sure why, but it seems that since moving here my husband and I both have become a bit ummm obsessive about the weather.

I find myself constantly checking out the weather channel while at work an then looking at wlex18 just to see what the difference in the temperatures are. Everyone knows that the weather channel is always wrong. Right?

My husband lives and breathes the weather channel when he is home. Watching football? Oh lets just check out the weather's score. Two and a half Men? What about that weather? Seriously. He checks it at least once an hour, if not more.

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, so I thought that I would share my problem here. Anyone else a cold weather-aholic?

And the winner is.......

#17 Goria who said:

I'm a preschool teacher, and I'm lucky enough to have a full-size
refrigerator/freezer in my classroom! I stalk-up on what's on sale at the
grocery store and freeze it.

Congrats! I will be shooting you an email so I can get your address and will get this in the mail to you this weekend!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This is so not fun

Seriously, winter can just go on. NOW! I have higlighted the unsatisfactory areas in red in the above picture. Well I started highlighting and this is what my picture ended up looking like:

I really did not wear enough layers to work this morning either. Maybe it had something to do with the HUGE fog I was in seeing as how I got about 2 hours of sleep last night. Yeah underdresed (only 2 shirts and a jacket on) to stand outside for 45 mintues jumping a car off. UGH!

Free bottle of shampoo

Today only, you can go here and get a coupon for a free bottle of Suave shampoo.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Free TP!

For those of you who do not take four hours to pee, here is a link for free toilet paper.

It takes me four hours to pee

Sitting around the apartment this weekend, the TV was on, Daniel was playing and life was good. Then the commercial for Levitra comes on. (One of those erectiel dysfunction drugs.) I was not really paying any attention, I have gotten good a tuning those out, and I was trying to get supper finished. The next thing I know Daniel says, "Mom I want to have (thought he was going to say E.D.) blood pressure when I grow up." The commercial explains that if you take medication for high blood pressure that it might not be a good idea to take Levitra as it can cause a severe drop in blood pressure. At least he is not planning on growing up and having E.D. I suppose.

Daniel is really hard to get to take a nap sometimes. He just will not stop moving and calm down enough to go to sleep. He knows that if he does not take a nap at daycare, he has to come home and stay in bed. (Yes I know I am mean.) He did not take a nap yesterday, and when I got home from work he had fallen asleep in his room. We woke him up to eat supper and then sent him back to his bed. I was in the bathtub trying to relax and he comes in and goes to the bathroom. 5 minutes later he is back again. My husband and I knew he did not need to pee again as he had just went and that he was just trying to get out of bed. Jeff told him he was going to be in trouble if he did not pee. After a few minutes of him standing there and nothing happening, Jeff said, "Now Daniel doyou really ahev to pee or are you just trying to get out of bed?" Daniel thought about it for a minute and then said, "Jeff it takes me 4 hours to pee."

Maybe he should talk to his doctor about Detrol? Or maybe that is a side effect of his blood pressure?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lunch Money 3.0

One of the major ways that we save money on our lunches, is by making everything that we take, from scratch.

I like to cook, but the thought of baking bread from scratch scared me. So I asked for a bread machine for Christmas and I got it! Last week was our first week to use the bread machine bread for our lunch, and it went pretty well. We even managed to keep it to one loaf! We were using at least 2 loaves of store bought bread a week, if not more. If you have a bread machine, or are not a chicken like me, this might be an easy way to save some money. I use the express bake 1.5lb loaf setting on my machine. It helps that I can work on other items for our lunch, while the bread machine is doing it's thing. Once the bread has cooled, I cut the loaf in half and then slice it and store it in the fridge.

That got me to thinking, why don't I make the chips? So, I took some of the potatoes from our stock pile, and proceeded. (This is where that fryer I got for Jeff for Christmas, comes in handy for my use!) Well needless to say, last weeks attempt at chips was a DISASTER. They tasted good, but evidently I did not absorb enough of the oil from them, and they turned into mushy potato slices. But they still tasted good, so we made do last week. NOT one of my better cooking attempts!

Today I found a recipe online for chips and tried again. SUCCESS!!! And the recipe is super easy!

Microwave Potato Chips

Potatoes (Number depends on how many you want to make, and how big your potatoes are.

Microwavable plate

Spray oil stuff


Slice your potatoes as thinly as possible. (After making sure to wash them really good.) I found that cutting the potato in half length wise works best if you are using a knife to slice them. If you have a grater that has the veggie slicer on the side, use it.

Spray the plate with the spray oil. I used butter flavor but do not think it really matters.

Arrange the potato slices on plate.

Sprinkle with whatever seasoning you like. I used garlic and sea salt on one and creole on another.

Microwave on high 5-6 minutes. Keep an eye on the chips and when they begin to show brown spots they are done.

LOTS better than my attempt last week at chips.

I also make our deserts for the week every weekend. I try and use whatever items I have at the house. Last week I picked up some black bananas and made several loaves of banana bread. We used one for our lunch last week, and froze the others to use in the future. This week I am going to make some cookies.

Not only is it cheaper to make these things myself, but it is cutting down on waste as well. No plastic bread bags, chip bags, or cookie packaging to go in the garbage.

To encourage you to start taking your lunch, I have a giveaway of a reusable bag that is perfect for taking your lunch to work in. I use one just like it and it works great! All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment and tell me what is one way that you save money by taking your lunch to work. Make sure that you leave an email address so I can notify the winner. One entry per person. Giveaway ends Thursday, January 15, 2009. I will draw a winner using a random number generator and announce the winner on Friday morning. Good luck!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Savings for the week

So I posted earlier this week about my goal of getting an emergency fund/savings set up, and I just wanted to post a quick update.

My goal is $20 a week from my husbands pay and $20 every other week from my pay. Through a side project I did I got an extra $100 this week. I deposited that in my account and immediately transferred that plus another $25 (we had a little bit more to spare than just the $20). So I have completed 8.33% of my goal so far. YAY ME!

I was playing around with the numbers again this week and as long as I deposit at least $125 a month then I will meet my goal of $1500. So I am ahead of the game for this month already. YES!

A look at what's to come

That is a look at what the weather is going to be like for the next week. Can I go home to AL now? Please? I have a bad feeling that as the next few days go by that those high temperatures are going to drop even lower. Seems like they never raise the high temperatures, it always gets colder than they expected. I am going to go into hibernation until about the end of April. Please send someone with a shovel to dig me out of my room at that point.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

For a very well written blog about HR 4040 go here. Also you can join in on Bluegrassmom's discussion here.

Updated to add: This is a great post about HR 4040. Explains a lot of what it will effect. This will even impact daycares

Thrift no more?

HR 4040 was passed back in August 2008 and honestly I did not think anything about it. After reading several articles in the past few days about it, I wish I had been more aware of how it was going to impact me, a lot sooner.

This law is retroactive and says that all products designed to be sold to children under the age of 12 be tested for lead and pthalates. That includes toys, clothes, books, furniture etc.

This has the potential to harm millions of people. Not just us consumers that shop thrift stores and consignment sales, but small business owners who can't afford to have every single item they have in stock tested. Not only will this apply to brick and mortar stores but sites like ebay, Craigslist, even YARD SALES!

The potential impact on the environment is huge as well. If you can't use it, or donate it, or sell it on ebay or in a garage sale, there will be a lot more waste in landfills.

There are a couple of articles out there that explain better than I can the possible impact this will have on us. Go here and here.

Then go here to write your Representative and here to find your Senators contact info, and here to contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Do they not realize that not only will this ban us from buying used clothing at thrift stores, but it will also cause the cost of buying new clothes rise? How much more financial burden can the average working class tax payer afford?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lunch Money 2.0

Seconds anyone? Hehehe. Sorry could not resist the bad pun.

One of the ways I save money by bringing my lunch is by only buying lunchmeat that is on sale. Usually Meijer's has some kind of special where the packs of lunchmeat are 2/$5 or something to that effect. If not, I just buy whatever the cheapest brand is. Throw out those brand loyalties. I mean honestly, can you really taste a difference between the Oscar Mayer brand and the store brand? Just this past weekend I found packs of turkey (sorry don't remember the brand) marked down to $1.70 a pack. I grabbed several and stuck them in the freezer for use in the future. There are also peelies on some of the lunchmeat that you can combine with coupons you already have to save even more.

Another way to save is if you can find whole chickens, turkeys, or hams for a really good price. You can cook the item and then freeze whatever you won't use for that week's lunch for future use. After you get done cooking it you can boil the bones for a few hours and usually get even more meat, as well as stock that you can freeze for use in soups and such.

If you want to add fresh veggies to your lunch, do not buy the prepackaged, already cut up stuff like carrots, apple slices etc. These are more costly then buying carrots (or whatever it is that you are using) that you have to cut yourself and you are generating more waste from the wrappers then if you just buy one package of carrots not already cut.

Leftovers are possibly one of the easiest ways to save money when bringing your lunch because you are not buying anything extra. If you fix a pot of chili, make enough so that you will have one or two servings leftover that you can bring in your lunch. Instead of throwing out that spoonful or two of peas that are left in the bottom of the pot, use those as a side in your lunch.

The possibilities are endless when bringing your lunch. Be creative and use what you already have to save even more money.

In my next post in this series, I am going to share how I save money by making most of what goes into our lunches from scratch. Stay tuned for Lunch Money 3.0!


Stay tuned and on my next Lunch Money post I will be hosting a giveaway for a reusable bag that is the perfect size for lunches. (I use one of the same ones myself.)

Savings Goal 2009

For the past few months I have been reading a lot of personal finance blogs (ok 2 or 3), and I have been really interested in the idea of an emergency fund.

Right now if something major was to happen, that we needed some extra money to take care of, we would be screwed, to put it politely. We have no savings per se. Yeah at the end of the month there is usually some extra money in our bank account, but not enough to pay for major car repairs or anything of that sort. We have no financial cushion what so ever. And that scares me.

My goal over the course of 2009 is to get at least $1500 saved up in an emergency fund. No that will not cover much, but at least it is something. Who knows I might even be able to save more than that. The way I see it is if I put $20 every 2 weeks from my paycheck, and $20 every week from my husbands paycheck, that would be around $1560 saved in a year. That would put me just over my goal for the year.

I joined the NCN Network and have created a chart to help me track my progress. I also added a nice little chart to my side bar too. (Look to the right)

I am going to talk with my HR department and see if it is possible to have that $20 sent to a savings account automatically every pay period. If not I will just have to make myself put that $20 to the side.

I am going to try and keep updating my progress on here. So please feel free to send me email reminders every week, that you are reading and are expecting me to put that money in savings. Help me stay motivated please!


I opened an ING Direct account and set it up so that $20 is transferred from my bank account that my paycheck is deposited into every 2 weeks. I also went ahead and made and initial deposit of $60 so I am only 96% away from my goal now!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lunch Money

When I was growing up my Mom used to make my lunch to bring to school with me. I refused to eat school lunches because they were just NASTY. Besides why would I want to eat that um.. what is a nice word to use...STUFF...when I could have awesome pita sandwiches and pieces of bell pepper? Yeah I know not exactly what every kid wants in their lunch, but hey it was good to me!

Now my husband makes my lunch for me. Yes, you heard me right. My HUSBAND makes my lunch. Granted I make whatever desert we are having for the week, the bread (now that I have my nifty bread machine), and the chips. But he prepares them every night, and if I am lucky I get a lovely note telling me how wonderful/beautiful/special etc I am.

There is a lot of money to be saved from taking your lunch to work with you. "But I don't have a microwave/fridge." So? Neither does my husband. If, unlike my DH, you do not have an aversion to borrowing the gas station microwave, you can still eat a hot meal i.e leftovers. Not microwave meals that you bought, unless they are free or almost free using coupons. Buying meals like that won't save you much money because inevitably they do not fill you up and an hour later you are at the gas station, buying something else. Now where was I? Oh yeah.

Saving money by bringing your lunch to work.

Over the next week/month/ever how long it takes me to get this done, I am going to be sharing ways that I save money by taking lunch to work.

First off think about how much you spend buying your lunch 5 days a week for a whole year. If you spend a meager $5 a day you will have spent somewhere in the nature of $1300 a year. That means you can save $2600 a year if both you and your spouse start taking your lunch. And if you are like us, we were spending more like $7-$10 a piece a day. So the potential saving for us was a little bit more like $4420 a year on average.

I am not saying that we do not ever forget our lunch and buy it at Mc Donald's, or just feel like eating something other than what we brought. We do. I mean we are only human. BUT we are saving a lot of money by brown bagging it.

If that was not incentive enough, you are also helping out the environment when you use a reusable lunch bag and either reuse your plastic baggies or use Tupperware (and by that I mean the old washed out margarine and sour cream tubs). Think of all those trees that go into those fast food wrappers and bags. NO I do not know how many that is, but hey everything you do that reduces waste helps is the way I look at it. And no I am not perfect. I forget to bring my lunch bag home, or *cough cough* misplace it.

Well if that does not have you begging for more, I don't know what will. Daniel's new MP3 kids radio (parent torture) device has started blasting in my ear, so I have lost my peace and quiet, and therefore my train of thought. I will be posting more in the days to come on ways to save money preparing your luches, things to do to liven the lunches up a bit, and what has worked or not worked for us.

A brother friend

While watching Peter Pan's Return To Neverland last week, Daniel looked at me and said,

"Hey Mom. She has 2 kids."

"Yes she does."

"We need 2 kids."

"You want a brother or sister?"

"Yeah a brother OR a sister."

"Mmmm well it might be a few years, but maybe eventually."

Fast forward a couple of days and Daniel is sitting on the loveseat and I am sprawled on the couch reading.

"Mom a brother is a friend and a sister is a friend. I NEED a brother friend."

My child has all of a sudden decided he wants a sibling. I tried explaining to him that even if we had a baby RIGHT NOW, that it would be a while before he could actually be a "friend." Daniel's response? That I needed to have a big boy like him. I guess he is voting for adoption!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A look at the year past, and the year ahead

Things will be back full swing in the next week or so. It was fun to have some time off and to get to spend so much time with my family. Daniel has kept me in stitches! The older he gets and the more his personality develops, the funnier he is.

It is hard to believe it is a new year already. As cliche as it sounds, it REALLY does seem like just yesterday we were doing New Year's Eve 2008.

This past year held a LOT of changes for me and my family.

Jeff and I had plans to do a wedding in Sept of 2008. Around the first of the year, my company offered me a promotion to branch manager of a new office they were opening in Jackson, MS. We were not sure exactly when we would be moving, but we knew we would be so we decided to forgo the wedding and just go to the courthouse. BEST decision we have ever made. I got to wear my blue jeans to get hitched in!

On February 12, 2008 a very close friend of mine committed suicide. I still think of Mike on a daily basis and still miss him as much as I when it first happened. Probably always will. 17 days later, I got married. February 2008 was a roller coaster of emotions for me to say the least!

March brought my birthday and the news that I was going to Lexington, KY not Jackson, MS.

I left for KY on the morning of April 2nd. I spent 2 weeks on my own, looking for a place to live and getting to know the area. Jeff came up and found a job, and we headed back to AL to pack. 2 days later everything we owned was in Lexington with me and my husband was headed back to AL to work out his last week. He called me that Wed to tell me that his grandmother, who had been in the hospital for about a month, was not going to make it. I went back to AL for the funeral, and then we both headed to KY together. We spent a few weeks on our own and that brings us to May.

May 9th we headed down to AL to pick up Daniel from my parents. They had kept him for us until we got everything settled in and had found him a daycare. Both of our families met and we celebrated Daniel's birthday and Mother's Day at the same time. We headed back to KY as a family, finally.

June and July were spent exploring our new home, and taking mini camping vacations on the weekends.

August we headed back to AL so Jeff and his brother could go skydiving. Daniel was going to spend the month with my Mom and Dad, as they were planning on visiting over Labor Day weekend. Jeff and I enjoyed a bit of peace and quiet (that went by WAY too fast), and exploring more of our new home.

September I made a trip to AL for my best friends wedding. Then we had to turn around and go back down 2 weeks later because Jeff's Aunt died.

October I spent making our Halloween costumes, and decorating for my favorite holiday.

November I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner all by myself. We spent a nice quiet holiday by ourselves. We also got our first snowfall of the year. I saw more snow in November than I have my whole life I think. Even if it did not stick it snowed.

December was spent making gifts for everyone and decorating for Christmas. We rode around and looked at Christmas lights and spent a lot of time as a family. We had a wonderful Christmas and I enjoyed some much needed vacation time.

The New Year was spent with some new friends we have made in KY, playing Wii games and enjoying each other's company.

In the past few months, I have been looking at ways to save money, live more simply, and look for ways to have less of an impact on the Earth. I am still learning and exploring new ways to do all of those things, and in the next few months I hope to share some of what I am doing and hopefully I can gain some new ideas from all of you who read my blog, and whose blogs I read.

I also am going to try and set up an emergency fund. Right now if one of our cars was to break down or anything major like that, we would not be able to afford the repairs or living expenses. My goal is to save at least a small amount every week, and build up a small emergency fund. Ideally you should have 3-6 months of expenses in an emergency fund, and eventually I would like to build up to that. My short term goal is to build up at least $1500 in SAVINGS.

I talked about Daniel-isms in a post a week or so ago. I am going to try and make that at least a weekly feature. Or at the rate he is going daily!

This has been a bit longer than I expected, but it got some of what has been going through my head the past few weeks out and in concrete form.

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year and will have a prosperous year to come!