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Archive for January, 2007

mixing bowl of germs

February 1st, 2007 at 03:53 am

Saving log - 0$
Spending log - 0$ (no spend day!)

Had a no spend day, aka the workplace semi-annual retreat. The retreat was pretty much the typical HR mumbo-jumbo, where you promise vague and meaningless things for now and promise to do better next year, but at least we got a free breakfast and lunch out of it.

Unfortunately, I got quite a bit more out of it than that... The rooms were cold and what with collecting everybody together all at once, it was a mixing bowl of germs and I know I caught something. It happened very quickly - one minute I was fine, the next .... tired, stuffy, and achy.

That's what you get when the staff retreat happens in the middle of winter and not in April or July, our traditional time.

Now to call gym and work.

overcommitted

January 31st, 2007 at 05:18 am

Saving log - -4$ (took money out of the tip box)
Spending log - $2 coffee, milk +$9 lunch

Man, that little soiree into Radio Shack cost me a bit. I had to move some money out of the savings account into checking, just to make sure that all my checks are covered. Ironic, because I had just got done depositing 25K. I timed all my money moves ($ going into other saving accounts) to happen at once at the beginning of this week so I only have myself to blame for getting into a box.

On top of that, I promised to take one of the auditors to my favorite lunch spot and I really couldn't back out in a graceful way. So it meant that today, the last day before payday, I did the unthinkable: I took money out of my tip box at work.

Overcommittment is bad for your net worth. TG its the end of the month and payday.

A little conversation with DJ co worker, after we debated the relative merits between Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme donuts...

DJ: so which is your favorite?
Me: after looking in the mirror, neither one. It had better be a celestial, cosmically mind-blowing donut for me to have one.

Taxes 2006

January 30th, 2007 at 06:14 am

Saving log - $3
Spending log - $2 coffee, milk + $8 lunch

But the $8 rare beef pho lunch came with a walk, which is what I needed. Tonight all the electrons around me went on strike - two electric buses made a turn, twisted a bit - I wouldn't really call it a jack-knife - and stalled out, blocking all the other buses heading north on 3rd Ave. I thought I had missed my bus, instead I walked past it. Waiting there for a little while, I got antsy again, found that my MP3 player died (electrons again) and decided to walk all the way to Macy's and catch the easy bus home.

Just finished calculating and free-filing my taxes. It seemed easier last year, but the reason could be that I had a couple extra 1099s, and I there were a couple of IRA twists that I forgot about. This year I free-filed at the same site that I did last year, so I saved having to hunt around for a company that would do it. (I file in WA state, which has no income tax. Most of the free filing sites will let you file your Federal taxes for free as a loss leader, but want the ability to charge for your state taxes.)

I was very happy that I had my financials on my USB drive (w/ password). The last step had me looking at several lines of my last year's 1040 - the answers would be known only to me and would form an electronic signature. It was a lot easier to look for my .pdf form on the USB than it was in my paper files.

I'm getting back $289. Not bad - I try to shave it close, and with all the interest income I've gotten, I needed the traditional IRA to keep it super close. Next year I expect to pay because I've gone for the Roth IRA, which won't shelter any money.

geek-ette doings

January 29th, 2007 at 07:18 am

Saving log - $0
Spending log - 92.44$ radio shack + $3.28 coffee, bagel, cream cheese + $5 purse

Walking over thirty blocks today - to 15th Ave NW and back home, all because I realized that there was a Value Village and a Radio Shack just two blocks further.

So in case you hadn't noticed, I'm a bit of a geek. I'm going to Paris in May, and what are my first thoughts? Electricity. Got a voltage converter, and a small travel AC adapter system where I can charge both my PDA, MP3 player, and digital camera from a wall, a car, or in the airplane. I'm going to use my MP3 player to play a couple of guided MP3 tours of Paris.

Value Village was a bit more fun. I just wanted to look, get my bearings, but I got suckered in by a funky, paisley purse that hung very nicely on the shoulder. It didn't have a price, so the manager let me have it for $5. At home, I found a purse to get rid of.

Not particularly frugal doings, but it means that plans are moving along smartly.

The HT Oaktree Market

January 28th, 2007 at 04:22 am

Saving log - 0$
Spending log - Denny's breakfast (10$) + groceries (22.54$)

DH told me this week that the old Larry's Market that went under this summer has arisen, phoenix-like from the ashes. Its now the HT (Hop Thanh) Oaktree Market.

Its quite an experience in there. The interior's been remodeled only a little bit, so right now there are still a lot of Larry's bits, some of the signs, the cafe, the kiosks, the sushi stand, the bakery and the wine section hardly look touched at all. And there is a section called "Sales" where I swear the Larry's leftovers landed to be resold.

But it looks like a great Asian grocery store. Picked up a couple of utensils where once the produce was, now its asian cookware and bulk cleaning supplies. Got the fresh seafood - crab, lobster, tilapia. The meat prices look spectacularly low - chicken drumsticks for .69/lb, beef ribs for $1.19 - and if you have a recipe that calls for duck gizzards or pig uteri, well, here's your place.

Freezer section's a treasure trove - I also picked up edamane for .99/lb, checked out the long bean (at $2.19/lb, too rich for my blood), and got a couple of types of asian pears for .89/lb. And for laughs, I got a small bottle of sake for $4.29.

Since I bought over $20 worth of stuff, I got to choose a little thank you gift.

Loved it - it looks a bit like a cross between Uwajimaya, Costco, with some Larry's memories thrown in. The prices seem to run about .20 - $1 cheaper than Uwajimaya, and the parking's a lot easier.

Next door is the Oaktree Cinema - so it looks like we will be smuggling in asian snacks to the movies now. Big Grin

One horsefly swatted

January 27th, 2007 at 06:38 am

Saving log - 4$ tip box (starting anew!)
Spending log - 2$ coffee, milk + 13$ lunch chirashi

I must have semi-overdid it in the gym "classes" this week, everything's stiff - legs, stomach, arms right at the side of my armpit. Didn't even think I had muscles there. But my upper arms don't jiggle. Managed to drink water and eat salad for dinner, but I got caught with an afternoon cookie. The cookie was worth it.

Needed the relatively expensive chirashi (strewn sushi). Its brain food and I needed my brains today. I managed to finish the first draft of a very complicated company match calculation (company shall remain nameless, but not link-less, I'll be mean that way). Sometimes doing these things is like having a proctologist do a root canal - not only are are you screwed in an unexpected way, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

But I'm happy that its done, and now I can concentrate on catching up.

Like Ima Saver, I'm finding that my big check is taking soooooo long to get posted. A piece of it was supposed to post on Friday and it still hasn't. What gives? I mean its a big check, but cripes its coming from another bank, and not a tiny one at that! I found a partial explanation on the bankrate.com site.

Got the TIAA-CREF 1099 form that had all zeroes on it. I moved the 403B money into an IRA so it was sheltered on both sides. Cost more to mail it than I'll be using it.

Goodwill

January 26th, 2007 at 04:26 am

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - 2$ coffee, milk + $5 lunch

Collected my tip box squeezings and put them in the bank. $48. All told, since I've started slipping change and bucks into the tip box at work when I remembered, then sticking it in the bank once per month, I've saved about $1338 in two years. Its small, but the action is painless and its $1338 that I wouldn't have had.

My afternoon exercise bus passes right by a large North Seattle Goodwill, I've been in a couple of times. Every so often I talk to someone about the Goodwill - us frugal types somehow know each other... call it fru-dar - and I've discovered two things about my neighborhood Goodwill:

1.) Best general sales and the lowest markups are on Monday. Go on Monday if you want to buy big bags of stuff.

2.) The new electronics come out on Thursday, right before the weekend.

hump day

January 25th, 2007 at 06:49 am

Saving log - 2$ tip box
Spending log - 2$ coffee, milk + $13 lunch

Well, its busy again at work, major horsefly swarm, all the complicated projects coming at once, everybody wanting to talk to me to "understand" some of pledges that we process. If I did them right, I have to shake my head and hit the DND button. Time to me to do and to get 'r done - your wanting to understand is only slowing me down.

I did manage to have lunch with lawyer friend and gang. Lawyer friend is depressed and is on the outs with his bosses, screenwriter friend is definitely being outsourced and demoted in title (but with two bonuses after 5 months - take the money and run, my friend), finnish friend found a new love, and I'm going to Paris.

Well, it is a couple of days from being the most depressing day of the year - which was last Monday. Its supposed to be the most depressing because its Monday, the credit card bills are due from the holidays, short days, and you've bombed out on your resolutions. They forgot about Wednesday being "hump day", when everyone takes it out on you!

second property doings

January 24th, 2007 at 05:34 am

Savings log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee, milk + $4.50 curry

Got an email from sister today. We should plan a bit about what to do with the second property.

Just to review 'cuz its been awhile, dad's farm was comprised of two pieces of property (both about 80 acres) that didn't touch each other, and were about two miles apart (this ain't Texas!). The first piece of property was sold about a year ago. The second piece of property has the house, barn, buildings, etc, and about 1/3 of it is a wetland - too low to be farmable. Right now the Wisconsin DNR is interested in buying most of the property, leaving us with 7 acres and the buildings.

However no offer has been made, and we don't really know when they would come on as a buyer. And about 45-50 acres is farmable. It means that January is a very good time to come up with plans for the year...at least its a better time than April, which is when the US Bank executors were thinking about it. City boys, eh?

Sister wrote to me the possiblity of renting it out - one farmer is interested in it, which means that he would till it and grow crops on it and pay us one time for the use of it during the year. Sister isn't thrilled about him either ... he's not Nut, he's more like Peanut. This issue with Peanut is that he's a pig - uses tons of fertilizer, herbicides, had plenty of equipment that leaks fuel oil, etc. Sister's thought is to contact the farmer who was tilling dad's second property. I don't know whether he would be interested in it, especially if it would be for just one year.

The timing is the issue for me. If I knew for a fact that WiDNR would buy the property this coming fall, then it wouldn't really matter; we could leave it fallow and be done with it. If its going to be a couple of years, well someone should use it.

Tough being a member of the landed gentry. Big Grin

not so easy this time

January 23rd, 2007 at 05:34 am

Saving log - see below
Spending log - $1.36 coffee, 11$ lunch

Well I deposited the 3rd distribution of the estate today (its not really an advance any more). It seems to be more difficult to put it in. The difficulty isn't with me particularly, it seems like the bank is getting tighter. I know you all should have such problems! Big Grin

I put the 25K into my checking account, dangerous to many, but not really to me - I know what I want to do with it.

It went into the bank just fine, but due to the size of the check, the bank is putting a 5 business day hold on the first 5K, a 10 business day hold on the rest. That didn't seem to happen last year. So the money has to wait in the bank until early February.

My plan is to put 20K into my taxable Vanguard account, but that will be delayed too, because I sold 4K worth to put into my Roth IRA. A noble goal, but I now can't do anything for 60 days, until early March. I could keep that 20K in ING, but perhaps I should put it in another 4 week T-bill, if the interest rate is a shade higher.

Of the other 5K, I plan on putting 1.5K into gym class/ personal training, and the last 3.5K into ING with the expectation that I'll be using the money for the Paris trip.

It seems so odd to be writing about such a large sum of money when it seems many here are struggling. Let me know if I am offensive.

Leather furniture upkeep

January 22nd, 2007 at 04:44 am

What I did today, staying at home.

. Wiped down the leather furniture with leather cleaner. The cleaner smells like Elmer's Glue. Yech!
. Watched football.
. Reformatted the old 20 gig hard drive so now I can use it as a backup.
. Vacuumed
. Laundry
. Made turkey curry out of frozen turkey breast, onion, sweet potato, carrot, frozen peas and frozen green beans. Did a fine job of clearing out a bit of freezer space. I never have 400 lbs of food like flash did, but even clearing some of a small amount is a great feeling - feels like you are clever, somehow.

Thirty seconds after AFC game, we got an invite from the Duvall, WA friends. Big Colts fans, and we love dissing the ads. Haven't said this since 1985... so, um...Go. Bears.

new park fun

January 21st, 2007 at 04:46 am

Saving log - $35 Drp
Spending log - $10 breakfast + $2.50 hot cider

This is a big, disgusting story in Seattle. Nothing more dangerous than used car salesman when they find a mark, which happened to be a frugal, but mentally unstable man. Worse for the used car salesman, this only matches their reputation.

Got 3 1099 forms and the 25K check in the mail, the third advance. I think I am close, but I think I do my taxes in early February, instead of now.

DH and I had some very frugal fun - Seattle opened the new Olympic Sculpture Park today. Completely free, except for the hot cider. ($2.50) It was a lot of fun, walking in the open air, tromping through nine acres. Its a lot better, prettier use of land than what was on the land ten years ago - it was a fuel storage site operated by Unocal. There were far too many crowds and lines for my taste, though. I think it'll be much more fun and entertaining in a couple of months, when it will just be a few people tromping around. The only other weird thing was there was graffiti on some of the sculptures already! We got animals here.

Plane tickets have been bought

January 20th, 2007 at 07:43 am

Savings log - $6
Spending log - $2 coffee, milk + $7 pho lunch

DH and I are going to Paris, France May 17 - May 31 with MIL. Its final - the plane tickets have been bought. Boss has been alerted. I've been told that I had better bring back pictures.

Time to see if I can download some French tutorials so I can practice as I walk. All I know is please and thank you. And when the thank you comes out as "mercy buckets", they're gonna know.

Sister wrote to me that she has asked for another 25K disbursement, so when I get a 25K check ... I won't be alarmed.

Bought another round of personal training, aka the gym class. ($718).

Printed out several 1099s from different online places. I see a fault with having so many online accounts - I have to go through each of them, one by one, and think "is this tax-deferred or not? am I supposed to get a 1099 here?" Much easier in the bad old days when they had to mail it to you. Also got the W-2 from work.

Free lunch

January 19th, 2007 at 04:38 am

Savings log (wednesday) - 3$ tip box
Spending log (wednesday) - 2$ coffee, milk + 0$ lunch HAH

Deelish. The four of us (3 backed out) got talked to by two reps. And we each filled out a little sheet. It was all very low-key. Next, should I choose to, comes a 45 meeting with a rep. I don't know - I really like the do-it-yourself portfolio creation and the tweeking. I asked that they contact me via email, it'll be a bit less annoying that way.

And they were true to their word; they talked, they answered questions, then they left and sat at the bar to get a feel for what we were ordering, they paid, and they were gone. O'Asian dim sum was fantastic, albeit a bit pricey (heh heh, leave it to a couple of my friends to maximize that!)

Now to the backees. 2 were kicking themselves today, and I'm guessing that the third will be also...his thought was that since he got the word that his position will be outsourced, his job was in a delicate position. Well duh. And when do you most need the free lunch? NOW.

Gotta love brains

January 17th, 2007 at 06:53 am

Saving log - $3
Spending log - 1.65$ coffee + 4.36$ lunch

The office opened 2 hrs late, and DH was sound asleep, so I really didn't want to push it by getting him out of bed..and frankly, traffic's been just nutty, even by Seattle standards. Waited for the bus for 25 minutes, and I did a little multi-tasking by buying a coffee and drinking it while I waited.

Love my Yaktrax. Every day for these past few days, standing around with them on, at least five people have asked me about them.

Its not particularly financial, but I have to get this off my chest. An open command to my brethren, the Seattle bus rider: Sit the he&& down!

Amateurs. Rolleyes

So many times in these past four days, on a packed bus, when the bus stops and a few people manage to ssssqquuueeeze off, there can be an empty seat. If there is no older person who needs the seat and you are closest to it, it does not help matters any that you are standing there like a goob next to an empty seat. Worse, you are now blocking the seat for someone else. But its my next stop, you whine. Yes, you are polite. Get over yourself. Sit down.

Yeah, I'm a tad cranky.

I did actually get an interesting financial nugget in the paper today, disguised in the science section. Researchers discovered two spots in the brain that are active when you are considering buying something. One spot, the nucleus accumbens, is a pleasure center active when you are about to buy something you want. Another, the insula, is active when you experience things you don't like - pain, disgusting smells, etc. So deciding on a purchase is thought to be a wrestling match between the two. Of course, the "tightwad" supposedly has a more responsive insula, but half of Americans tested have one of those. It also turns out that a number of retail tricks - buy one, get one free; the credit card; the all-you-can-eat buffet - short circuit the insula, while tricks like buying with cash engage the insula. Fascinating.

Now sit down. You're hurting my insula!

Klondike musings

January 16th, 2007 at 03:54 am

Saving - 0$
Spending - $20 chiropractor + $3.50 coffee, cookie + 5$ lunch

Today DH and I were off, but since the chiropractor was next door to work, it didn't really feel like it. Got my neck and back popped; another set of errands got us to the Pike Market and then it was back to the car.

On the way back, we made a little pit stop at the Cadillac Hotel where the revamped Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park has their new digs. Fabulous place to visit, and for the frugal, the price is right: free. Course we made a suggested donation and took a look around.

The Klondike Gold Rush occurred 1896 - 1899, but there is so much similarity between Americans of a 100 yrs ago and us today. There was an economic panic in the early 1890's. News of gold sparked gold fever in hundreds of thousands of desperate people. Crazy decision 1 - to go. Seattle made almost $1B (today's money) provisioning prospectors - everybody had to have a year's worth of food and gear for the Yukon, which happened to be in Canada. In other words, 1 ton of gear. Crazy decision 2 - to buy.

Most of the trip was by boat, but there was a mountain pass that a prospector had to cross...with 1 ton of gear. Most had to hoof it, going up and down that pass over 30 times, taking a pack of gear up the hill, then sliding down, then up the hill, then sliding down. I'll bet it got old after the first trip. I felt for those prospectors, doing something insane just because they made those first two crazy decisions.

Lesson 1: How much had I bought in my early 20s on a credit card that I was metaphorically lugging up that pass over and over again?

And when the prospector got there... the good claims had been taken already. Some worked other claims or bought them. The guys who really cleaned up were ones selling donuts and coffee or fresh vegetables. One guy took one look at his claim, then looked at all the scurvy going around, and farmed it. 20 hrs of daylight, giant vegetables, big bucks.

Lesson 2: The entrepreneur sees the situation as it is. Its rarely the original situation that provides the opportunity.

Final amazing stat:
For every 100,000 people who started out
40,000 made it to the Klondike
20,000 prospected for gold
60 people found more than $15,000 worth of gold
30 people kept at least half of their gold after 5 years.

Lesson 3: A lottery's a lottery, no matter how its dressed up.

Salad dressing

January 15th, 2007 at 03:57 am

Yippee - bags of spinach and carrots were 10/10$. I know that salad bags are unfrugal, but having to only rinse once rather than rinsing over and over to get the sand out of the bunch was worth it to me. (2$)

So far I have been doing okay with two of the resolutions - vegetables/salad as the late night snack and 10 minutes of calisthentics. The other ones, not so much.

My best recent purchase, one that has given me more than 5$ worth of pleasure has been a plastic Zyliss shaker. I've been fooling around with making salad dressings, which have got to be cheaper than buying a bottle. Two recipes:

Tahini lemon dressing

2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
lukewarm water
lemon juice
salt, pepper
lemon zest (optional)

Add ingredients to the shaker & shake away. Consistency should be the consistency of half and half.

Oil and vinegar
1 part red/white wine vinegar
3 parts olive oil
salt, garlic powder, pepper

Add ingredients to the shaker & shake away.

The deluxe minestrone

January 14th, 2007 at 03:30 am

Did the usual Saturday, lunch out and grocery shopping. To keep our sanity, DH and I split up. He's pretty aimless where food and grocery is concerned. He loves the beer, junk food and fruit - everything else is up to me.

:eyeroll: If somebody can teach me how to make a cursor eye-roll, I'll be grateful. (Thanks, LuckyRobin!) I've been going through the eyeroll phase lately.

Anyhow, DH requested minestone soup, so while he took the aimless route, I picked up the produce and Italian sausage and found tuna for .50/can. Lately that's been a good price, so I stocked up a bit. I filled two large, heavy grocery bags for $21.

With the snow and ice, it was a great time to make the deluxe version of minestrone soup. This isn't diet food, particularly.

3 Italian sausage, sliced. Love the hot stuff!
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
2 carrots, sliced in discs
1 qt turkey stock or 2 cans chicken stock
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomato (fresh roma tomatoes)
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1/3 head of cabbage, sliced thinly and chopped (what I had on hand)
1 zucchini, chopped
3 medium white potatoes, diced
1.5 c chickpeas, soaked for at least an hour (lentils work here, too)
green beans - I used frozen
1 head fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup orzo pasta
olive oil
parmesian cheese heel
bay leaf, thyme, margoram, salt, pepper
water

Soak chickpeas, then boil until soften. I remove the outer skins; it prevents "colon reverb". Set aside.

In stock pot (I think mine's a 10 qt), add a couple tablespoons olive oil, and saute sliced sausage, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, margoram, celery, carrot until veg is soft and sausage is brown.

Add turkey stock, diced tomato, all the other vegetables, chickpeas, parsley and water to about 3/4 of stock pot. Low simmer for about 1 hr. Taste and correct for salt, seasoning, consistency, etc. If soup is too thick, add water.

Add orzo and parmesian cheese heel. Simmer until orzo is done - about 15 minutes.

Timing is very forgiving, and the vegetables are really whatever you have in whatever form you have them in - fresh and frozen's better than canned.

The cheese heel really makes it for me. When DH and I buy (or are gifted) cheese, we usually save the heel aka the rind aka the cheese closest to the label. Don't put the label in - you lose the gourmet effect.

Day jobs

January 13th, 2007 at 05:03 am

Savings log - $2
Spending log - $2 coffee, milk + $11 lunch (w/ a sushi roll)

This and that today...

Got paid, and we got our raise. I had upped my 403B percent to 13%, which cancelled out the raise. It's how I wanted to play it - if I'm living well within my old paycheck, I might just as well siphon off the excess dollars, having them work for me now by keeping my taxes down next year and later by pumping up my retirement.

Got to the actual plastic bottom of my inbox. The bottom is black smoke, btw.

Talked to DJ coworker. His Internet radio station is coming along - the start date got pushed back to March 1, rather than January 1. He wanted a lot more content to keeping from repeating himself. But things are coming along - he's having me test the broadcasting by giving me a windows media link to play in the background. I also loaned him my recording MP3 player to him to record one of our temp staff who is itching to break into voice-over work. She has a fantastic voice: rich, warm and familiar. You listen and you think, "where have I heard her before?" He recorded the promos and the bumps for the station on MP3s, which he'll then edit out the background noises and cut her sentences into pieces. Weird how much you can do with a toy that has the right sort of extras. We are both still amazed at how well that sucker works.

Its not the stuff, or getting the stuff at the best prices, its knowing what you can do with the stuff you have.

Its amazing that most of my co workers have secret creative lives - artists, musicians, DJs, writers, actors. The woman who wanted the voiceover work sings jazz and has a couple of self produced CDs. Another does painting & mixed media with a couple of gallery shows. Some of his paintings are hanging on the walls in the data entry room. Another acts. Several are DJs (my co worker is furthest along), another sketches and does some fashion design, a couple of dancers, a couple of jewelry designers. I "merely" write. Smile

Free lunch is going to occur on Wednesday - all systems go.

winter horrorland

January 12th, 2007 at 05:32 am

Saving log - $3
Spending log - $3.50 breakfast + 5$ lunch

Well, it was a winter horror show disguised as wonderland. We got about 3 inches, which wasn't bad, except for that we are on a ridge (no matter which way you go, its down an icy hill), and Seattle drivers can barely drive in rain, not to mention ice. !!! It was beautiful, though, quiet and everything covered in white.

The office opened 3.5 hr late. Luckily DH could drive me to work, and MILs old car actually lived in Bozeman, MT before we got it. Its tires were thick with a nice heavy tread and well balanced. Drive it cautiously and you could get anywhere.

Actually got to work about an 1.5 hrs before the office officially opened, so I just played hooky at a coffee shop and served myself some relatively frugal treats - spare time, coffee, pizza bagel, and the newspaper. I wish I could start every day as nicely. The day was great, as it always is when not everyone comes in. These days, there are a couple of people that I don't want to hear from at work.

Gym class again. Lost a pound, so I'm at 190 - close to getting back to where I was right before Thanksgiving. Exciting! But because of the ice, I just wanted to get home, so I took my old bus - no long mile walk from 8th Ave NW. It turns out that the trainer and her fiance are starting some money moves on their own. That's great - I can share some info and it makes the conversation less about me, me, me...

I monitor my money and accounts online, which is problematic when the hard drive got upgrade. Tonight was the night I got my financial accounts in order. Yet another 1099 came in - my tax folder is filling up slowly but surely.

deluxe pho & ramen

January 11th, 2007 at 04:34 am

Saving log - 4$
Spending log - $7 lunch

I just didn't feel like the coffee and milk breakfast routine, so I broke it a bit, frugally. I just wanted a little bit of black coffee and my energy bar.

Cold and blustery at noon, so it was the perfect weather for deluxe spicy pho. Got the chicken pho, with chunks of pineapple and tomato. A quart of pleasure. If it had been any larger, I would have stripped and taken a bath in it.

Not quite ramen or cup of noodles. Even though there is enough salt to drive blood pressure through the roof, that didn't stop me from having a cup yesterday, toasting the inventor of instant ramen. I love them, but not all the time. Too bad instant ramen gives frugality a bad name - the noodles are often the college student's version of frugal. Many people still think that that's what a frugal person does - eat a lot of ramen noodles.

Things are slowly getting back to normal with the new hard drive. I still get an annoying flashing when the CPU is working hard. The wireless connection is a lot better, though. Go figure.

Hard drive doings

January 9th, 2007 at 06:11 am

Monday (1/8)
Savings log - 3$
Spending log - 2$ coffee, milk + 11$ lunch w/tip

I just wanted the hot fat lunch today. I got my receipts and forms and UPC codes from my new hard drive and installer all xeroxed and sent them off.

The mechanics of the hard drive doings went off without too much of a hitch. One of the screws holding the hard drive bay was stuck, so DH and I had to reverse drill it. Whew, it worked! The owners manual was nearly worthless, so it was a case of unscrewing things, working carefully, and saving the screws. The manual was okay for getting the bay open, but for the rest - well, I got the feeling that the laptop maker didn't really want you to do it, so they didn't describe it.

My laptop didn't recognize the hard drive at first - there's a little plastic and gold electrode extender thingee on the old hard drive that had to be put on the new one. Once that happened, the laptop recognized the hard drive. Unfortunately, the cloning bit didn't work, but the converting the old hard drive to an external drive did. So its rebuilding what I had and rediscovering my preferences, and learning a whole lot of things that'll forget in a few years.

I have to be a bit blase about it. I now have much, much more space, the hard drive is now new (old hard drive came with the laptop - 3 years!) and most of what I had on the old drive was outdated items anyway. I have five tasks that I really want to do quickly (monitoring my fiscal data is one, this journal is second, other writing is third, music fourth, surfing fifth). So I backed up what was meaningful to me before I tried anything...and let the rest go.

Tonight was surfing and making the screen look like it was supposed to. I'm here, but it wasn't easy - I eventually had to download and reinstall the video driver.

The whole process was exciting and I learned a lot. My friends are very impressed, even more than they were from adding more memory. And it was a lot cheaper than having the guys at Fry's do it. Sometimes being frugal is being adventurous and fearless.

Crock pot soup

January 7th, 2007 at 06:15 am

DH boiled up the turkey bones 2 nights ago, so we have many quarts of rich turkey stock. Its turkey soup(s) for the next few days.

Decided to do it a bit differently, and a bit more frugally. I used the crockpot to make a quart or two of turkey vegetable rice soup. I avoided using the stove, used up several vegetables on their last legs, and used already cooked rice.

1/3 of a crockpot of turkey stock
1 can chicken stock (help get the color right)
dash of kitchen bouquet (also to colorize)
14 oz can diced tomatoes
2/3 red onion, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, sliced and chopped
turkey breast
frozen corn, pea, green bean (various amounts)
water to fill crockpot
salt, pepper, thyme, dill, parsley, garlic powder to taste.

Cover, set crockpot on high. Wait 3 hours.
I serve with the cooked rice, because I like to keep the broth clear. I just think clear soup keeps better in the refrigerator.

I also wanted to only make a relatively small batch of something, to keep us from mindlessly eating food just to move things along. Often I would make a ton of something to save time (and yep, it saves time), but at the risk DH and I would eat and eat and overeat.

And different iterations of turkey soup will keep us eating turkey soup. Big Grin

New hard drive

January 7th, 2007 at 05:56 am

DH and I went to Fry's, and I got a new hard for my laptop and a cloner/installer. (134$ w/o rebate) I'm going from 20 gigs to 80 gigs. Wish me luck - especially if you don't hear from me for a few days.

The cloner installer is quite clever. You pop the new hard drive in a clamshell piece of plastic with a bit of electronics in it and a USB port at the other end.

You then run the CD, which "clones" your old hard drive onto your new hard drive, then you extricate the new part drive from its clamshell and swap out the hard drives. If you do it right and everything works out, you keep the old hard drive in the clamshell, erase it and use the old hard drive as more storage.

Anyway, the new 80 gig hard drive comes with a rebate, making it about 70$. It has to be cheaper than getting a new laptop, and I learn a little something.

Right now I'm stymied by a stripped screw on the laptop. Tomorrow I go to a laptop repair place to get the screw out. So I'm close.

plans kinda coming together

January 6th, 2007 at 04:59 am

Saving log - 0$
Spending log - 2$ coffee, milk + 6$ lunch

Lawyer friend and the "kitchen cabinet"* are in for the free lunch, but not at the tentative time next Friday, so its time to reschedule with the Ameriprise rep.

Kitchen cabinet = lawyer friend, lawyer friend's partner, screenwriter friend, finnish friend. (and whoever tags along)

On the other hand, we have a fairly good idea that we want to hit a very swanky dim sum spot. We'll see how the financial planner/rep deals with chicken feet and the dim sum cart with the squeaky wheel. If we must, we can each always come up with the fake name (too late for me, they have my business card)... but we should probably use the fake names during the lunch.

Tee hee, this is going to be wacky.

Today at work I smelled a powdery, lime smell. Its coming from grout - a workman is fixing the water leaks on our ceiling that came from the storms in November and December.

Business card lottery winner

January 5th, 2007 at 03:54 am

Savings log - $8 tip box
Spending log - 2$ coffee, milk (ate the 1/2 sub from Tuesday)

Got an interesting voicemail today. I put my business card in an Ameriprise drawing for a free lunch. I won.

Hard to know whether its a win or not. I'm to pick 15 of my closest friends (aka like The Player), any lunch spot, and the time. We order, an Ameriprise rep gives a 3-5 minute spiel about financial planning, we dig in, and the person disappears after paying the bill.

I don't know how much of a hard sell they're going for, or what the free lunch binds you to...but I'm willing to try it and blog back what I find. I have a cast iron stomach. I've asked DH and DJ friend already...we're got three. I suspect I can get lawyer friend and the kitchen cabinet on this and provide some real entertainment.

I have won a couple of times with my business card - mostly coffees and a lunch. Since I rarely use my business card for actual business purposes, I deposit them in drawings. Its like the lottery, except the scratch cards are paid for by the company.

Jan 3 - no spend day

January 5th, 2007 at 03:34 am

Wow. A no spend day for once.

Breakfast - Boss bought me a coffee and picked my brain about the possible reorganization of our department. Didn't go for the milk after that.

Lunch - potluck to celebrate new years. Everyone seemed to have similar resolutions - there were a lot of great salads. I brought my "scottish tabouli", and chopped a lot of fresh parsley. There was an angel (no, demon... no, angel) who brought addictive sweet and sour meatballs.

Another new tax form came. And another 10 minutes of calistenics at night.

must be Jan 2

January 3rd, 2007 at 04:55 am

Savings log - $4 tip box
Spending log - 2$ coffee, milk + 6$ lunch* + 7$ groceries for potluck dish

*Lunch was a vegetarian foot long, I cut it into quarters and will eat 2 quarters today, 2 quarters tomorrow.

My assistant has a job interview tomorrow. I wish her luck. I'll be sad that she's going, happy for her, and pleased if she gets something permanent. It's interesting - I was once a temp long ago, and thought that my boss would be upset. (the control freaks were) Sitting on the other side, we all know that a temp job is just that - temporary. People move on and well they should.

In the gym today, I saw a *lot* of new people. It was hard to find space on the machines. Some looked lost, some looked confused with their spreadsheets, some looked a bit arrogant, some grunted loudly when they did their exercises Wink. I guess I'm jaded. I give them all about 3 weeks, and joked with my trainer about it.

My trainer was very excited about my resolutions...and informed me that if I kept up with the 10 minutes/night goal (3), it was 60 minutes/week which would be equivalent to goal (1). And since I already have the yoga mat, its free - as cheap as it can be. Last night I did do my 10 minute calisthenics - 20 each of stomach crunches, leg lifts, scissors, cobras, swimmers, a plank. (I'll see if YouTube has some video.) 10 minutes is just fun enough.

the first day of 2007

January 2nd, 2007 at 04:12 am

Back to the salt mines, I guess, but I implemented what I could at home.

1. Increased my 403B % to 13% of gross pay, up from 12%. I'll be bringing that form to HR tomorrow. It means that my 2% raise from 12/14 has been spent.

2. Put 4K into a 2007 Roth IRA. I didn't actually save it, I moved 4K from one Vanguard account to another.

3. Got my first piece of paper for my taxes Friday. Started my 2007 tax file.

Found a deal on cup of noodles. As I was waiting in the grocery line, the woman ahead of me bought a pack of brand-name cigarettes. $6.49/pack. I hate to imagine the fiscal carnage of a carton. In a sense, though, cigarette prices aren't high enough. We all pay for a smoker. Unfortunately, we all will pay for overeaters and non-exercisers and the non-prudent in general. Its the fiscal take on "judge not, lest ye be judged."

Last night was fun - conversation, Cranium, and Scene It? - although I had 5 little tacos, boodles of tortilla chips and guacamole, 2 glasses of wine, and a glass of champagne.

Judge not, lest ye be judged.