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Archive for November, 2007

fake pledging

November 30th, 2007 at 11:20 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch + $25 poker game

Crazy, crazy day today. I work for a large non-profit in Seattle, who shall remain nameless (initials are UW). Today we organized and readied pledges for processing from a large company. From my perspective it was fun, putting pledges in piles, adding things together, taking a box of unruly and making it "ruly". Just a few observations on the process.

1. Fascinating looking at personalized/ artistic checks. It makes you wonder what kind of adult writes a Kenny Chesney or a Scooby Doo check. Since artistic checks come in a series you have to wonder ... for every Kenny Chesney-guitar pose check, do you get the Rene Zellweger handing-you-divorce-papers check? Big Grin

2. Checks are a magnet for another kind of transaction - badly filled out checks. A fundraising staffer showed one check which had the money amount written on the to:line, where our name of our non-profit is supposed to go. Nothing else. We can't cash it. I was pretty sanguine about it. "Fake pledging at its finest," I said.

Fake pledging happens every so often. Its a badly filled out check or a pledge form. Sometimes the check bounces, sometimes the "donor" wants his gift to go to a place that we can't send it (a place that's not a non-profit). If you are new to the non-profit biz, you think, "how can the person be so careless?" The old hands to this biz just smile. Fake pledging. After all, if the person is paying a mortgage or rent ... they know damn well how to write a check.

Fake pledging is perfect to the passive aggressive employee. They appear to follow the herd and pledge, and if they do it in the sight of others they aren't bothered for the rest of the fundraiser. They don't have to go through the discomfort of saying no. Best of all, they spend no money - when the fake pledge gets to us, we can't cash the check so we don't book it.

Too bad the employee who didn't want to participate couldn't say no... they could save themselves a check, we could save some time, and we would have no one to laugh at.

IPO possibility

November 29th, 2007 at 10:53 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $15 lunch

Yesterday I finished my string of brown bag lunches. It was fun, but it was nice to get a little fresh air and see something other than piles of paper around me. Food made especially for me is always much better to look at.

The big news is that my little bank is going public and have sent a prospectus, proxy card, order form. If you have money in it, you can be part of the IPO (initial public offering). I'll have to think about that, not the best time to invest in a bank. They will eventually pay a dividend.

2 minutes

November 27th, 2007 at 08:15 pm

Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $4.50 groceries

New temporary staff orientation with a little breakfast provided. And again, another lunch with turkey salad on top of a toasted english muffin. There's only enough salad for a couple more days; even so that's a good 4 day run of bringing my own lunch.

Also paid a total of $375 to my DRPs - $300 in one, $35 for another, $40 for another.

Homework for gym last week was to hold a hollow plank - on the back, legs up at a 45 degrees, arms parallel to legs, shoulders up off the mat - for a minute and a half. I told the trainer that I practiced and that I'm ready.
Want a countdown? the trainer asked.
No, let's just see how long I last, I said.
So in the middle of this, I'm thinking that this is the llloooonnngggest minute and a half, and I was about to drop when the trainer said that I had nine more seconds. I made it past the nine seconds...and it turned out that I had held the position for two minutes.

cheap today and last friday

November 26th, 2007 at 08:30 pm

Saving log - $11 tip box
Spending log - $13 groceries (end of day)

Lots of good, frugal stuff happened to me today. I took my batch of turkey salad to work, along with an apple and a 6 pack of english muffins. I hope to eat "in" for most of the week. Today I did.

Got busy right away at work, so I drank the work coffee, instead of going out for it.

At the chiropractor, I found that I had quite a bit of credit - so no copays for awhile. "Your money's no good!" the receptionist said.

I put a lot of the savings today out in the tip box.

Black Friday was gym Friday for me. The trainer went to her parent's home for the holidays. I was supposed to go to the gym three times last week; I only made it twice - Friday and Sunday. Does the fact I made it on Friday count twice?

Turkey Salad recipe

November 24th, 2007 at 11:45 pm

Turkey Salad

1 med onion, minced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup craisins (sugared, dried cranberries), chopped
9 oz cold turkey, chopped
2 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp red sauce from mango pickle jar (optional)

Mix all ingredients together. Delicious on top of a toasted english muffin.

I love adding the red, salty sauce that the mango pickles come in - a little bit of heat and red color is nice in this.

pear mango cranberry crisp

November 24th, 2007 at 03:11 pm

Saving log - none, haven't been close to the tip box

Spending log (22nd) - $3.25 coffee, bagel
Spending log (23rd) - $3.25 coffee, bagel + $.45 apple + $23 tickets
Spending log (24th) - $3.50 coffee, chocolate croissant + $44 groceries ($4 groceries + $40 as a point of sale ATM)

Had fun for Thanksgiving. Our Duvall guests - who usually are late - didn't arrive at the same time the turkey got done, at least arrived soon enough so that the turkey was still good. We did the traditional - rubbed with kosher salt and sage for 1 hr, wiped salt off, poked skin with rosemary (which we had a lot of), roasted with a tent on it for 4 hrs. Didn't stuff it. Made the turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, roasted brussel sprouts with pecans, and we had a bit of the dessert that I made for the next party. Our guests brought zucchini/cranberry/oat bread, greens (love greens!), a bit of muscovy duck (very dark meat), squash casserole.

Arranged the dining room table in the living room (more space) and used the large coffee table 3 ft away as a buffet for the turkey and dishes. Nothing that scares me more than juggling a lot of dishes with the wine glasses, the centerpiece, and the plates. Just makes everything easier.

I got a lot of raves for the dessert, so to keep me from typing it twice, here is the recipe...

Pear Mango Cranberry Crisp

Filling
3 large bartlett pears
1 12 oz package dried mango ($5 at Uwajimaya)
1/8 bag of cranberries
zest from 1 orange peel
sugar
lemon juice, water

Grind cranberries in a small food processor, put in a bowl, add zest, add 1/2 tbsp sugar.

Soak dried mango in warm water until softened (about 1 hr). Drain completely, chop coarsely

Add a tbsp of lemon juice to 1 quart water in a bowl. Slice unpeeled pears lengthwise into 1/8 inch widths, getting rid of seeds and the woody center stem. Slip pear slices into lemon water.

Crisp
3/4 cup flour
1/2 sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter
(amounts can be doubled if necessary)

Mix dry ingredients well. Chop cold butter into small pieces, cut butter into the dry ingredients using a fork or a pastry kneader. Don't overwork it - the topping should resemble coarse breadcrumbs.

Drain pear slices and arrange them evenly & lengthwise in an ungreased shallow pan. Sprinkle with sugar (optional-pears and mangos are going to be sweet already). Layer the chopped mango over the pears. Dot with the cranberry mixture. Sprinkle everything with the crisp mixture.

Bake at 350F until fruit is tender, juices are bubbling and crisp is golden brown. What worked for me was baking the crisp at the bottom of third of the oven until the fruit filling was done, then I put the pan over the broiler and broiled the top for about 5 minutes.

cooking like crazy

November 21st, 2007 at 11:09 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.35 coffee + $8 lunch

Doing my list of of make-aheads because the turkey will take up all the room in the oven:

Cranberry sauce
Cooked potatoes (heat them through then mash)
Chopped celery and onion for the stuffing/dressing
Making the dessert

DH and I discussed what we would do with the turkey that we haven't done before - we have done the black turkey, the grilled turkey, the brined turkey, the heirloom turkey (yum!, but you had to have planned ahead and got your order in in March) and I've put my foot down...no deep fried turkey. So who knows? Maybe just rub it down with salt, then stick butter and sage underneath the skin and roast. You know - the normal way.

Then we had the debate between stuffing and dressing. Stuff the turkey, or not? Thinking not, because of speed and the stuffing will get into the gravy. An unstuffed 20 lb turkey will cook faster, and the turkey will make more gravy.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

even keel

November 20th, 2007 at 08:04 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.30 coffee + $15 chirashi lunch.

Keeping on an even keel financially. Collected $49 from my tip box this month and put it into savings. I've been debating putting some new money into a WaMu 9 month CD, but WaMu got caught doing some interesting things during this subprime mess. Sure, its FDIC insured, but is it worth the agita?

We are now all busy at work. My supervisor and I went through my 6 month evaluation, which was successful. I'm the boss of DJ friend so I'm happy that I'm keeping things in a good place there. My other employee is working out very well, too - I've given her a bit more responsibility and she's run with it...that was good to see.

DH picked up our turkey - its huge, but it means that everyone will get a lot of turkey, darn it.

I'm usually not jealous of other people's thanksgivings, but my temp guy is heading back to Oregon to a Chinese feast of seafood hot pot. The WASP traditional feasts are nice, but the ethnic traditional ones are much more memorable. I was invited to an Iranian thanksgiving with turkey, pilaf, and a gigantic bowl of pomegranite pips. Just take your favorite feast food, make a ton of it, and enjoy.

chattering not good for eggs

November 18th, 2007 at 05:28 pm

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 brunch + $51 groceries

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3 bagel, coffee + $30 groceries

I've picked up the holiday grocery shopping pace, first by getting ingredients to make the sides, but also to come up with pre-Thanksgiving meals. I tend to not want to make and eat a lot of poultry the week before so that the thanksgiving dinner's extra tasty.

The Saturday grocery shopping was a bit fraught - the express lane was not busy, so I was waved in even with a shopping cart and a lot more than 10 items. The cashier asked me if could find everything. Well, no, I said, I couldn't find sauerkraut. Aisle 20 in the freezer section - shall I get it? Sure - two jars. The cashier ran off for a minute, and his line filled up. Semi-dirty looks all around. What do you say?...the cashier waved me in! Big Grin

This grocery is a double decker, with an entrance/parking on the second floor. It also has a cart escalator that moves your cart in tandem with you. Word to the wise with these things - seriously front load the shopping cart. I back loaded the shopping cart, so the front "axel" slipped the chain a bit and the cart began to stutter and chatter. My escalator outran the cart escalator, so I waited until the cart got up eventually.

The ramifications came when DH unpacked. Uh oh - the 6 pack of eggs were destroyed. One egg survived - kinda makes me wonder what that chicken ate! I handed DH the receipt and he got new eggs, not many questions asked.

Last night's supper was pork and sauerkraut in the crockpot - the recipe

Crockpot Pork & Sauerkraut

2 piece pork rib
1 jar sauerkraut

Open jar & open packet of pork (hah hah), put in 1/2 jar of sauerkraut at bottom of crockpot, lay the pork on top, finish by adding rest of sauerkraut. Cover with crockpot lid, set to high if you're going to be there, low if you aren't. Done in about 4 hrs if set on high. Done when you get home if set on low.

I wanted to mention that there is no added water in this recipe. The jar of sauerkraut has water, which you should put in. Also, there's no need to fill the crockpot. This recipe only fills my welcome-to-the-70s ancient crockpot halfway.


And when its done. Cooked pork and sauerkraut over heat makes lots of juice. Apologies that this picture makes the crockpot look different - I needed the flash for the picture.

2 quick glimpses

November 16th, 2007 at 08:12 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.30 coffee + $7 lunch

We've been told that Seattle is a bright spot in national real estate, immune to the credit meltdown. 2 short stories in the last couple of weeks tells me it ain't so.

1. Talked with a local bank about grandma's inheritance. I let slip by saying, "I just didn't want to do something stupid with my money."

"Like buy real estate?" the banker said.

2. Part of my job at the non-profit I work at means I handle corporate matches. One of the accounts was a mortgage lender, and they wanted to alter this year's corporate match. They let slip that they are stopping their 401Ks for a few months, and they wanted to halt their corporate match for those same few months.

"big" shuffle of money

November 15th, 2007 at 09:44 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $5 lunch

Coffee and a bagel at the all staff meeting, so I only spent on lunch today. Payday today, so in the next couple of days comes the big shuffle of money. Yesterday was moving $200 to ING, along with another $100 on a monthly schedule. Today I looked at my brick and mortar bank savings account. $700 making 0.25%. Definitely in need of a prune! Moved $300 of that into my PayPal account - that one's a money market fund still making around 4.75%.

Sister called at work. She still has yet to send out her paperwork from grandma's estate, but she's interested in having it managed by Ameriprise. Hard to figure her out.

giving good letter

November 14th, 2007 at 09:22 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $15 chirashi lunch

Cashed in the $42.04 today, and received an account for more, different shares. It worked like this: I had 45.xxx shares of Company 1. It turned into - 45 shares of the new Company 1, check for the .xxx shares, and 15 shares of Company 2.

Found out that DJ friend got a resolution with the IRS, the auditor called it "convincing." So he pays 1/2 of what he feared he would pay. The consulting lawyer looked at the letter and the table, and suggested only a concluding sentence. My luck with letters worked again. I give good letter, I said to DH.

I get paid tomorrow, but I have a fair amount of money still in my account, so I decided to move $200 to ING.

surprise check

November 13th, 2007 at 10:05 pm

Saving log - $8 tip box
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $5.45 lunch

One of my DRPs has spun itself off, so I am getting the paperwork for it, a 1099-B and a semi-surprise check for a fractional share. Into savings it goes - $42.04. The transfer agent finally cashed my $500 check to buy more stock.

Plan on hosting a small Thanksgiving here at my place, then head to lawyer friend's larger party for dessert.

magazine addiction

November 11th, 2007 at 05:56 pm

Spending log (Saturday) - $13 brunch
Spending log (Sunday) - $3 coffee, bagel + $19 groceries

A routine weekend - DH and I walked to the library to read magazines and browse. Up until a free years ago, I used to have a serious magazine addiction at the news stand - I'd pick up at least 2-3 wk every week - easily $500/year! At least I read them! I think its because I enjoyed the experience of reading in coffeeshops: coffee, sweet dessert, and something to read while I ate it. It was a poor trifecta - read the magazine in 45 minutes as I was doing something sedentary while inhaling about 500 calories, probably blowing about $15 (1990 dollars, even) for the privilege, and then I had to think about keeping the mag for awhile, then tossing.

I still enjoy browsing but I pick up only one particular magazine/ month to keep (Saveur). The rest - read at the library which I walk to. Supposedly you can bring coffee into the library, but I haven't seen it recently and as long as you are breaking one habit, you might just as well break the rest too. So now the experience has changed, stripped down: a free walk, free reads, no calories consumed, no paper waste. Probably not as much total fun, but cheaper and more sustainable.

Sunday was a cardio day at the gym. My trainer was there in her civilian clothes - she and her DH were repotting some of the interior landscaping. Nice - not only did I show up, I was seen - after cardio, all red and sweaty - showing up.

not a great hobby

November 9th, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.65 coffee, cup of milk + 10$ lunch + $12 groceries

Yesterday, I found I had lost another two pounds, so I'm back to 186. Also lost another .5 inch of the waist. I'm trying and getting better at not sticking my head in the fridge when I get home. Eating an apple instead of an energy bar in the afternoons really helps too. Right now its all really about the waist, its giving up it's fat slowly. Not that I'm emaciated in other places, but the arms and legs are getting firmer.

Not much on any money front. It looks like I've gotten another fee for no reason that I have to ask about. I swear they just stick 'em on there just to see if the poor schub will just pay and they can get away with it. Getting the bank to take them off is not my idea of a great hobby.

All of my stocks have dropped. I feel happier about dollar cost averaging when the denominator is going down like that.

getting used to crazy nice

November 8th, 2007 at 09:06 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee, milk + $10 lunch

Mixed up day at work!
--In the last couple of days, my little deli hasn't gotten its half pints of no fat milk, so the manager has been giving me little covered cups of no fat milk either free or reduced rates.
--Our roof - actually the roof of my office is right below the sidewalk, not below the building - is leaking, so a guy from the City of Seattle has come by to fix the leaks. He complained that since its now dry, he can't find them. Well, duh. Today he was mixing up sealant trying to seal up the concrete over my office.
--Teaching a couple of my staff how to clean spreadsheets. Teaching moment was conflicting with the sealant.
--Chiropractor's staffer came for boxes.

Delivered good news yesterday to DJ friend. He got a small payraise, retroactive from 4 months ago.

I'm been exploring what to do with my grandma's inheritance. One of the local banks is in the process of offering a CD where you can donate interest money to the non-profit where I work, but the bank also will donate 20 basis points in addition. (I knew about this because we have to figure out how to put their proceeds onto our books.) I asked for more info by email, left a phone number. One of the bank's VPs called me back - turns out that I'm the first person who asked about it. (they hadn't made the CD public yet.) We had a great conversation. I could get used to having good conversations with banks.

How I am helpful

November 6th, 2007 at 08:06 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $7 lunch + $7.49 groceries

Emailed the trustee administrator about the niece slip and asked whether I could edit what was written - change niece to granddaughter then initial the change. Received a reply - it would be fine if I did the edit. I did so, then signed where highlighted, and mailed the paperwork off, then emailed the trustee that I had done so. I cc:ed sister on the whole thing so she can do the same.

Lunch was exactly 7$. As I was flumbling through my ones the cashier asked, "How did you know I needed ones?"

I said, "Are you kidding? You're in the lunch rush. All it would take is five people with 20s! You'll always need ones."

DJ friend has been battling with the IRS over Microsoft software given out after useability studies. Are they gratuities, or are they income? And how much would they really be worth - what Mr. Softy says they are worth retail, or what successful resellers are getting on craigslist or ebay? Helped him a bit by making a table of his data and helped with some of the letter. Hope my luck with arguing with the IRS rubs off on him.

The chiropractor is moving his office downtown. "Need boxes?" I asked. His eyes lit up. We'll see him tomorrow at our office. This time of year we have an empty box pile 15 ft high with hundreds of different box types. We'll see if we can get a free adjustment to the supply guy, who would need it about this time.

So being helpful is not a direct way to save money, but being helpful often means you have a larger social network with something to share, which means you have favors to barter and the network of folks to barter with.

high holy day for grocery staples

November 5th, 2007 at 08:15 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $13 chirashi lunch

Saturday was high holy day for the shopping of grocery staples. 49 cent cans of chicken stock, 48 cent canned tomatoes, $1.98/lb butter, $.99/lb frozen peas and frozen green beans, 69 cent cans tuna, 33 cent/lb pasta. If DH had been around, I could have given him a little teaching moment about steel cut oats at .79/lb. All because of Thanksgiving at the end of the month. None of these prices were fantastically rock bottom low, but compared to what they were like a month or two, well, you curse the fact that the dip is not as low as you'd like, or you stock up, figuring that inflation will make things even worse in a few weeks. Now if only the produce would even approach a good value. Nothing much for under a $1/lb except for unbagged carrots, yellow onions, and bananas.

I sent off the email to the trustee administrator for grandmas account. Got word from sister that the trustees really want to close this out by the end of the year. Sister also told me how much we've inherited - it was large enough that she quieted down a bit. She told me that it wasn't about the money - I'm thinking that by her actions that it actually kinda was.

There is a tiny pocket park run by the City of Seattle right in back of our little duplex. The Japanese maple at its focal point starts to put on its show right about now.


Sitting on the bench at the foot of the tree is also another sign of the season...

And no, I never did learn how to identify mushrooms - I love mushrooms, and if I learned to identify them, I'd be tempted to try them. There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old bold mushroom hunters. Big Grin

trust paperwork

November 3rd, 2007 at 03:44 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $13 brunch w/coffee + $85 groceries

Got the trust "paperwork" from Ameriprise last night. Basically its a transfer document, transferring title from one account to another. I can tell a little bit from where I'd initial:

--Grandma had some of her money in mutual funds and some in brokerage (stocks). That's not a big surprise, even at 96 you can't hold everything in bonds and CDs.
--Cousin signed as the executor.
--I'm listed as "Niece". Interesting slip. I'm not the niece of grandma, current (dead) owner of part 1. In a sense, I am the niece of the executor, kinda.

I don't think I'm going to sign this until the relationship is changed and correctly established. Its not accurate - and all the research it would have taken is a glance at the obituary. Not to mention niece implies a non-direct line, while granddaughter is a direct line. I figure if I sign it, I let the slip go.

Time to call and email. Maybe I'll make it an innocent email, maybe I won't.

smorgasbord of stuff

November 1st, 2007 at 08:37 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $10 lunch + $7 ham

Lost 2 pounds at gym today, getting back to the stage where I was 2 weeks ago. I've substituted apples for a second energy bar to keep myself from sticking my head in the refrigerator in these darkening days.

Heard about the possibility that I can learn French. (MIL in Paris said - the family likes you, it'll be great if you learn French). One of the temp staff taught English in France, and a couple of co workers have a lunch where they speak only French.

Got a compliment on the email that I sent to sister's lawyer from my lawyer friend. The tone was good, and I was complete and told him what sister and I wanted out of the whole thing.

Got over 200$ in interest this month, so far (doesn't include the CDs).

Had a philosophical thought. If Daylight Saving is from April 1 to Nov 4 (7 months) and Standard Time is now from Nov 4 to April 6 (5 months), why is it still called Standard Time? Doesn't Standard Time imply that you are in it longer than Daylight Saving?