Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pocket change

As I try to make up for my cruise indulgences on my revolving VISA, it has begun to pain me that I have no emergency savings. Repaying that balance is my priority, but how can I prevent it from getting out of control against my will if I'm always trying to make up for what's already happened?

I manage my finances from paycheck to paycheck. My "budget" consists of a list of my bills by paycheck on a sticky note. Come payday (today), I immediately pay all of my bills with the remainder going to credit cards. When calculating how much I have left to pay on credit cards, I round each bill up to the nearest $5. I also allot $100 per bimonthly paycheck for cash. Since I withdraw in $40 increments, usually I have $20 of that 100 left at the end of the pay-cycle. Add in spare change due to rounding. On this particular payday, I had $25 left in my checking account. Usually this $25 would get rolled into the next paycheck's credit card payment.

But what if it was more like change in my pocket that got emptied at the end of the day? This was a highly encouraging way for me to look at it, I've heard how fast pocket change accumulates. I say heard since it seems you need to be a guy to take advantage of the actual pocket change savings method, as women's pockets are designed not to carry anything at all.

Thus, I renamed one of my (empty) ING savings accounts to "emergency fund" and transfered that $25 into it. With this new account name, I'm reminding myself that it is only available for use on Unplanned Necessary Expenditures. Not for when I've overshopped or when my VISA "just gets too high" for me to payoff that month. That would be through my will not against. I'm hoping that the knowledge that the remainder is now going toward savings will keep me from getting that bagel in the morning just because I have cash. That if f I don't spend it, maybe I'll end up with more to save. And that's good for my savings and my waistline.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Shift knit

Over the cooler months, I obsessed about socks. I finished 2 pairs as gifts, three to self, and have yet three more still on the needles. The bad news: I'm just about done wearing socks for the next 4 or so months. I'll probably finish one of the pairs as it's pretty mindless. And as they're called Campfire socks, I kinda want to take them backpacking. Otherwise, I think I'm through with socks for now. But not with knitting.

Time to shift gears. I've moved all of the toys in my Ravelry queue to the top, and last night I knit Zoë a mouse and stuffed it with catnip. She was only marginally impressed. Maybe I was too skimpy on the catnip.

Zoë & her new toy

I really want to knit some food. Strawberries & cupcakes are of particular interest. I see it as a sort of diet strategy. Crochet the coveted cupcake rather than consuming it. Mayhap an octopus. There's a whole Flickr group about octopi. I want to contribute! Some of it will have to be crochet, as most toy patterns that I've seen are written as such. I need to start small and simple, as the robot doll of yesteryear frustrated me and put these fun and games on hold. Maybe I'm just not that great at crochet.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Daffodil meadow

I started noticing daffodils in the past few days and decided it was time for my yearly pilgrimage to Daffodil Meadow. It's about 0.7 from parking, which is across the street from work. A nice enough length of an hour's lunch. So on Friday during that's what I did.

On my way I got to see some Trillium and various other Spring flowers.

Trillium Spring flower

When I got there I was not disappointed. The meadow was in full swing.

Daffodil Meadow


And I saw my first toad of the year. Amazingly I did not harass him (at least I'm sure that's the way he would have viewed my affections).

A little friend

This is the dork that I look like when I go hiking during my lunch, or after work:


Hey, I'm short, and I don't want my jeans to get dirty.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Detox daydreams

As I mentioned, I frequented the spa while on the ship more than I should have. One of the themes surrounding my visits was detox. My first related trip involved a metabolism analysis. They hooked me up to a machine with electrodes placed on my hands and feet. By sending a small current through my body they were able to analyze my lean muscle weight and supposedly, my water retention. Peter said that toxins are fat soluble and so become part of your fat cells, then water surrounds the fat cells to protect your body from the toxins. He prescribed a 9mo detox supplement that was a sure way to remove the toxins from my body, thus releasing the excess water while also boosting my metabolism. I was intrigued without the intent to purchase. Sadly my interest just encourages them, but I knew I couldn't spend $300 on the first 3mo of the plan, regardless of how curious I was.

Although the hard sell was a bit annoying, one of the positives I gained was the reinforcement of some things I've already tried to disincorporate from my diet, such as all types of soft drinks, including diet and regular. I've been trying to eat less meat and eating less processed foods is also on my list. Whenever I look at those zero-fat, yet suspiciously still tasty snacks now, all I can hear those sweet words from the Skinny Bitch authors: "chemical shit-storm." Changing your eating habits takes time and so I do what I can. I am still often weak, but try to at least to critically observe what I'm doing. This little bit of positive reinforcement from Peter made it worth the $30 I spent on the analysis. Plus the printout from the machine was pretty cool!

For my next detox spa treatment I indulged in what I've later determined as a complete waste of money: Ionithermie. They lathered me up with some mud & put electrodes on me to stimulate my muscles. I was measured before and after, and found to have lost the completely unbelievable amount of 12 inches. I believably feel 100% the same. The one thing I've taken away from this was the prescription of dry brushing your skin. I didn't buy their $44 dollar brush though, I got the $6 one from ULTA when I got home. I'm hoping it'll stimulate my circulation and remove some dead skin cells.

When I got home I looked into some more detox programs online, including the one pushed on the ship. What I found was that there weren't very many reviews that seemed like they were from real people. Each one had the ring of marketing surrounding it. And some of them had elimination stories that were down-right frightening! Today the Diet Blog I read had an article entitled 4 Reasons Why You Don't Need to Detox. More validation, yay! So essentially I'm going to continue attempting to limit my intake of unnatural chemicals, and look into including some more fiber into my diet.

Infusistic Indulgence

I think I came to a realization today. I like poetry! Well, some of the devices of poetry and applying them to my writing. I've found the missing link in my blog. I thought this venue too dry but not so. I can hear the metre in my head again, whether you can or not. Whether it's ever truly been there or not. I used to write with whimsy and I've missed it. I can find places to infuse words that you might not expect them there. To me, those tiny trespassers adding music. This post, a little thick, I know, but somehow subtler within my goals and interests I can place them.

Self-indulgent? Perhaps. Who would you rather I indulge?

And so I'll continue to write about something somehow more mundane, but less so now. Writing and revising long after you've read until I feel it's finished. I feel much better now.

Dear 43 Things, please add 'study poetry' to my list. Also, mark 'come up with a catchy name for my blog' complete!

No work and too much play

I spent way too much money on the cruise. I had a couple of spa treatments that were essentially a complete waste of money. Partially because it was just a means for them to try to sell me additional products. Don't take my money and then ask for more. I expect things like that locally, but on a cruise ship I just want to relax without being hassled to buy things after an already overpriced treatment. It'll take me a few months to climb out of that hole on my revolving credit card just to get back to where I was. When I got back I immediately purchased my sleeping back for backpacking. That was a known upcoming expense though and completely acceptable. Plus I found it for 25% off + free shipping. Now when the REI anniversary sale gets here I can use that coupon to purchase our water filter.

In positive financial news, I have started depositing $100/mo into my Vanguard IRA. Which I'm really happy about. It's a tough time to decide to invest but waiting is an even less appealing option. I may as well be building wealth while I climb out of debt.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I am back from my almost 2 week vacation hiatus. Not that I was gone for 2 weeks, but it's always padded by prep time and decompress time. I need, for a time, to refocus on my goal of blogging due to the lapse. Leo keeps reminding me in his Zen Habits blog that it's important not to take on more than one goal at a time, and not to move on too soon.

I don't think I can do the prescribed 30 days per goal, I just have too many and I'll never get to them all. Plus, some, like getting out of debt will take much longer. I'll play it by ear. "Getting out of debt" really is more of a goal category than a single goal. There are sub-goals beneath that take you closer. Same with fitness. I think my 3 main goal categories are: debt elimination, fitness, and enrichment. Maybe it will help to think of them this way.

I walk around all the time with this general desire of self-improvement. Ideas swim around in my head, things I'd like to change, things I'd like to add for enrichment. What I end up with is no clear path, and things get lost. Plus having my brain swim in anything gives me a certain amount of anxiety. So I've started collecting goals. I've started a list that I can locate them in. I think this will help me let go of them until the time is right to get to work. Originally I was using ilist at Twitter, but that was hugely inadequate. I've revived my list at 43 things. I haven't paid any attention to it in quite some time, now it seems exactly what I need.

In other news, I am repeating week 5 of the C25K program because I only ran twice on the ship and really only have time for 2 runs this week. The JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge is May 29th. Hopefully I'll be ready for 3.5mi! I'm not too proud to walk in that race. I've done it before. Hopefully it won't be 85° like the last couple years.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

4 signs that Spring is here

1. The Spring peepers are singing!

2. Baseball season has arrived!

3. IMG_2416!

4. My snowbird parents are home from Arizona!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Fabulous new socks

I love my new Nutkin socks. I finished them last week and they fit perfectly! I'm sure it was largely luck, but they're the first pair that haven't been slightly too big. They're a little twisty around the leg but that doesn't really bother me. Neither does the pooling. It means I made it myself!

Finished Nutkins

So my entry for the Sockdown challenge for the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry was complete in the nick of time. Speaking of which, I decided last night not to enter for April. I was planning to do a Jeanie Townsend pattern, but although I liked several of them, the ones I liked were similar to patterns that I've knit before. And with a completed pair number of 3, that simply isn't an option. I'm leaving on Friday, with loads of knitting time in the airport to be had, so I CO the Campfire socks. The pattern is super simple and I've seen a sock knit up in my chosen yarn (in fact, the reason I bought the yarn). The only issue I noticed, after getting a good start accomplished last night, is that the combined yardage of the two 50g skeins is 237 yards! This makes my size 9 foot nervous. I thought about frogging and start over with the pattern toe up, but the toe-up instructions are for two circs or magic loop. It would be my first toe up pair and I don't have circs, plus the instructions are not as "gentle" as the original ones. If I end up without enough to finish a sock with one skein I'll frog then. I love the yarn and the pattern, if I have to start over it won't be terrible.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Spring Forward 15K Volunteering

What a beautiful day for a race! It was 40° and sunny at 8am when I arrived for the volunteer meeting. I was tasked with the job of road marshall near the end of the 9.3mi course. The meeting was quick and I hung around for a few minutes to see if I could spot my yoga instructor. I never did find her.

I finally wandered back to my car and drove out to my corner, the last real turn before the finish. I think there was about a mile left from that point. Essentially my job was to cheer on the runners and make drivers aware that there was a race in progress.

My Road Marshalling post

I had a long time to wait. Luckily I brought a camp chair with me and was quite happy to sit in the sun and wait. I had company in the form of a runner's fiance and his sweet pitbull.

I was at my post for about 2.5 hours. After the last participant passed me, I drove to the finish to cheer him in. As always the runners were very grateful and ever friendly. I had a great morning and will definitely volunteer more in the future.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Annual Orchid Show & Sale

We got a late start due to some faulty alarm-user behavior, but eventually made it to the Orchid show on Saturday. As usual, we headed straight downstairs for the sale.

I am only allowed one new orchid and only from the Masd family. I've had the best success with them and my window shelf has limited available real estate. There were only a few for sale and I made my decision rather quickly. I decided I could also pick up one of the $10 orchids that wasn't in bloom. [I had to leave them at Jay's for the rest of the weekend, I'll update this post once I've set them up with a picture and detailed information as to which kinds I bought.]

The show was amazing as usual. I can't fathom how people get such fantastic blooms to appear. I need a greenhouse.

A particularly wonderful display of Masd
Show Masd

Jay's favorite

We only saw two people we knew, and they happened to be each of our bosses.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Give blood now (or for me, maybe never)

I came to a sad realization a few weeks ago. I don't think I can donate blood anymore. It's something I've always wanted to do, and have multiple times. I think it's important to share life with those that need it. Blood donation, organ donation, etc.

The problem is in my head. I was a 3rd-time 1st-time donor when I first donated. I feel fine all day, but during the wait for my turn, I develop a fever, which effectively disqualifies me. It's happened multiple times. Nothing bad has ever happened to me while donating, although once I felt a little light-headed afterward. I do have "white coat syndrome", and I've gotten better at being calm during my blood pressure reading at the doctor by taking deep breaths and focusing on calm, but I can't seem to beat the thermometer at blood donation time. The anxiety is compounded by my worry of failing the tests.

This year I was planning to get in 6 times to donate. Jay got a pin last year for it, and told me that some minuscule number of people manage to do it each year. That sounded like a challenge to me! I started "practicing" last year. I was denied about once each time I became eligible again and returned the following week to try again. This last time, it was my iron that disqualified me. I've been eating less meat, and my multi-vitamin ran out a week or so prior. Although it wasn't my temperature (we hadn't gotten that far), and therefore not the fault of anxiety, I was terribly upset. During a conversation with the receptionist on my way out, she suggested that because if the stress it causes me, maybe I should find a different way to help. I didn't want to admit it, but she's probably right.

I didn't want to admit it because I feel like this is something I should be able to get over. If I don't it feels like giving in to my anxiety, that my anxiety is something I'll never be able to conquer. And it still feels a little that way.

My sister encouraged me to find another outlet for volunteering. I've worked a day at Habitat for Humanity, and served breakfast at a local women's shelter with work. Both of which I've really enjoyed. Now I'm on the lookout for some other opportunities. Hopefully in doing so I can forgive myself for giving up on this one.


So maybe I don't have any focus.

So maybe I don't have a specialty.

I keep reading that successful people persevere. I'll never move forward if I stop moving or if I am too hard on myself for trying. Maybe those things will come with time, and maybe they won't. That's OK too. Maybe this will never be anything more than a chronicle of my goals and interests. That's OK too.

Plus, Steve Runner says I should keep a blog, well he says everyone should, in his Run, Blog and Share podcast episode. And since I find him amusing and generally trust that his wisdom at running and blogging/podcasting is greater than mine, I'll trust him on this one.

I think my first goal has been accomplished then. I've been posting more regularly, every few days to be exact. I have a lot going on for the next couple weeks. Namely getting myself together for my trip (I'm down to days in the single digits!), I'll set a new fancy goal when I get back.

This weekend look for 2 posts: 1. on the annual Orchid show & sale and 2. on volunteering at a race on Sunday.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Fasting (10 days remain)

Rather than beginning my diet at day 100 in the countdown, I decided it would be prudent to wait until day 17. What could go wrong? Well, come to find out, I was 8lbs heavier than last year on the same date. I buckled down hard and fast.

Dieting has always been an all or nothing thing for me. I have absolutely no success with moderation in times like these. You can have a bite. No, actually, that's not how it works. The more I resist completely, the easier it is to stand my ground. I put it out of my mind entirely. The donut holes and Easter candy you set on the coffee table last night to have with our tea=invisible. It's the only way I can do it.

Now at day 10 I am only up 5lbs, with a goal of making it down 3 more. I tried everything on and it all fits, thankfully and with moderately less self-loathing.