Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Money Talks - My Two Cents

I've always been a saver. 

I've often saved too much, like old homework assignments, bad photos, and clothes I couldn't bear to part with. Eventually, I let go of those things, but all in due time. There is never a huge purging of personal possessions at one time. I can't bring myself to do it. Never have and probably never will.

But this isn't a story about things. This is a story about money.

I've been on a quest to budget. Since I've always been a saver, I've built up a modest savings account, but lately I've been working harder to build it up. I'm moving past mindless spending and focusing on mindful saving. With the ability to bank online, I haven't had the need to balance a checkbook in years. As long as there was enough money in my account, I was good to go. Anything that was questionable would be put on my credit card, which I paid off every month. Now, things are different.

Ever since I read The Total Money Makeover (in two days), I've been doing my best to curb my online shopping habits and stash away the cash I was previously throwing away on emotional purchases. Even though I'm naturally inclined to save, it has still been so hard to deny myself the pleasure of purchasing something I want. Especially when it sometimes feels like it will be the end of the world if I don't snatch something up from that super sale I didn't know that store was having. That's when I close out all of the windows on my laptop, shut it down, and walk away. The feeling of buyer's remorse doesn't hit because I haven't spent anything at all! 

Now I'm tracking EVERYTHING. I allocate a certain amount of money from each check to rent, car insurance, DMV fees, groceries, Target, gas for my car, entertainment (like eating out for dinner), clothing, vacations, emergencies, and SAVINGS. Even though I pay my car insurance every six months and my DMV registration once a year, I still set aside money each month for them so I don't have a huge payment I "suddenly" have to come up with. It's already there! Setting aside money for vacations is easy because I don't vacation very often and the money simply accumulates. It also means I won't put everything on my credit card and worry about paying it off later because I have the money. Easy-peasy.

Saving is really simple. It's a matter of discipline and doing things the smart way. Anyone can climb out of debt, it's whether or not they are willing to put in the time and the work to make it happen. I highly suggest reading the book because it really puts things into perspective. I was lucky enough to be able to start on Baby Step #3 (3-6 months of expenses in savings) because I already had $1000 in an Emergency Fund and I didn't have any debt. I really could move on to Baby Step #4, but my first savings account is designated for putting a down payment on a house. It's just like Dave Ramsey says, "If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else." If you don't buy into the consumerism mindset that you have to have the best of the best RIGHT NOW, you have a fighting chance of being debt-free and living a life of luxury in the future. Many people who look successful by appearance are, in reality, successfully sitting on a mountain of debt because they aren't living within their means. It takes discipline people! 

Are you disciplined enough to budget your money, pull yourself out of debt, and SAVE? All I can say is if you are, stay strong. It's often easier said than done. Although, it really makes you think before you buy when you have to pull out your wallet and pay with actual currency. A swipe of a card makes it so much easier to buy buy buy. With a little bit of hard work and The Total Money Makeover roadmap, I do believe anyone can be free from the clutches of debt and ultimately end up living the good life without money woes.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thank you for being a friend

♫ Thank you for being a friend 

Ah, the Golden Girls. 

I don't know about you, but I can't sing that song without thinking about that show. 

It's really great to have close girlfriends. All girls need girlfriends. Unfortunately, it can be really hard to keep those friends. At least for me. Maybe that's why Micaela and I bonded so well. We were over the catty BS that drives girls to hate each other at the drop of a hat. We had our ups and downs like any friends do, but we were able to get through the bad times and maintain our friendship. The only bummer about it is that she lives in another state and I can't run down to her house whenever I want or need to. Thank goodness for modern technology!

We needed so many things for our room...we bought a blender instead!

I haven't seen her since she got married in 2010. Before that it was even longer. I can hardly believe so much time has already passed. It seems like she just got married not even a year ago! Even though we've been staying up to date with each other via email and phone calls, I'm dying to visit her again. There's just something so magical about the Pacific Northwest. If you haven't been there, you should go. I never realized how much I was going to love it until I went. I nearly moved up there the day after I made it back to California! One of the best parts of our relationship is we always pick up right where we left off and that is something I am eternally grateful for. It makes things so easy and it means we're more than just friends, we're family.

Wild horses couldn't have kept me from being there for her wedding

Last night I finally got to talk to her. It had been about a month since we last spoke, but I had so much to tell her about. She knows how to listen and she knows how to give advice. She always seems to have the right words to say exactly what I need to hear to make me feel better, or let me know that I'm not being crazy. Don't be mistaken though, because she'll also tell me if I'm wrong. In a nice way of course. I love Micaela and I am so grateful that she's in my life. Even if it is from a distance. 

She is truly one of my greatest friends and I can only hope that we're able to see each other far more often than we have already. Maybe someday when we're incredibly wealthy and can afford such luxuries. Until then, I'll be setting aside some money from each paycheck for a future trip to see her. 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beverly Hills Nannies

Every single time I try and post about this, I get sidetracked, but NOT today! It's time to throw some love towards... 

Photo taken from here...and there's Ms. Kristin standing front and center
I'm not usually one for much reality television, but let me tell you, it's way more fun to watch when you actually know someone on the show. The lead nanny is the one and only Kristin Lancione and I've known her since elementary school. We played soccer together as little kids before she switched over to gymnastics, we once snuck out of her house in sixth grade to toilet paper a girl's house down the street (we got caught), and we even have a couple of photos from those awful mall "studios." Even though I haven't seen her in ages, she pretty much always lets me know when she's back in town. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to truly reconnect because it seems like I always have something going on when she's here, but I'm staying optimistic that we'll be able to touch base with each other sometime soon.

Looking back, we were profound little tykes sitting in the field during lunch and recess discussing things most children our age wouldn't come to think about until they were stoned out of their skulls as teenagers. Like how each moment that passed was one that we'd never get back - time was always ticking away. Or how we were existing in each of those moments - breathing, moving, being. Just some of many topics our old souls pondered over. Now that we're adults (which I can still barely wrap my head around), we're making our own ways in life and I'm so proud of Kristin for all that she's accomplished. Who else from high school can say that they're on TV? Seriously, who? I applaud her for not only climbing her way up the Beverly Hills nanny ladder, but also for taking it further than that and turning it into a business that will grow long after she's done being a nanny herself. Now that is impressive. Not to mention that she's listed as a producer of the show on IMDb, which is nothing to scoff at either!

Not everyone is blessed with a diamond encrusted, platinum spoon in their mouths with Hollywood connections extending from their family trees. Sometimes it takes hard work, dedication, and sacrifice to make it out in Tinseltown. And Kristin certainly has.

I am definitely enjoying the show and I find myself looking forward to each new episode to see what crazy things are going to transpire. After all, anything can happen in Beverly Hills!

Another new episode debuts tonight and I can't wait!

Hey there any room for me in the Beverly Hills nannying world?!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Simple Pleasures

Up, down, and all around. 
I feel like I've been on a roller coaster for so long and I just want to be smooth sailing on a sea of glass. 

Maybe in time. 

On Fridays I usually give three things that I'm enjoying or are thankful for, but today there's only one.

Today, and every day, I'm thankful for...

My Beautiful Seester
Who doesn't love a grainy, Hipstamatic, bathroom photo?

She has never let me down. 
She's always got my back. 
She's always there when I need her. 
She's my beeg seester and I love her.


Monday, August 13, 2012


Rudi's first day.

Back in April, a chicken wandered onto the premises at work. Apparently it belonged to a family living in the nearby apartments, but they could never catch her, so she stayed. We couldn't neglect her, so we made some arrangements to accommodate her by giving her a small water dish, her own special homemade bird feed (from a friendly customer), and a place to rest. Now that she was a staple at work, she needed a name. So, one of the guys named her "Rudy" thinking that she was really a he. That all changed when we discovered her first egg and her name was changed to "Rudi" because the guys thought it was more girly that way. I would have left her name alone...I mean, look at Rudy Huxtable!

It took us a while to figure out where she was laying her eggs once she stopped laying them in the ashtray, but after a few weeks, another one of the guys discovered 20+ eggs in the back corner of one of the buildings. This prompted me to put out a basket for her to lay her eggs in and she did! Every day we'd collect her fresh egg and put it in an empty egg carton that we kept in the company refrigerator. Whoever wanted Rudi's eggs took them home. I've got two left in my fridge at home right now just waiting to be consumed. 

Rudi's first egg.

This past weekend, she was discovered dead...a victim of fowl play. Too soon for the jokes? Well, we think she may have been attacked by crows because there were black feathers at the crime scene. Though we can't be sure because no one was here to witness the tragedy. I'm actually a little surprised that she wasn't attacked sooner because she never had a proper coop to sleep in and protect her at night. We're all a little bummed out that Rudi is no longer a part of the team here. We had grown accustomed to seeing her wandering around and she'd even hang out with us from time to time. She will be sorely missed here. She not only brought joy to us, but also many of our customers who saw her clucking around. Maybe we'll get another chicken someday, but until then, I guess it'll just be dead around here without her.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fortune from a Cookie

Today has been less than ideal. I'm going to avoid the details for now, but I thought I'd share this because it seemed appropriate for the way I've been feeling. 

I'm trying so hard to cope with it right now.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Let's Go Oakland, Let's Go!

Last night I went to the A's vs. Angels game in Oakland. The seats, well, they were pretty much awesome. Sitting in the section directly behind home plate was quite a treat even though they weren't down in the more exclusive section below and I wasn't on TV. I think it was better this way because no one needs to see me stuffing my face with hotdogs and nachos!

The view from my seat!

I was decked out in my A's gear while companions were donning their Angels duds. After enduring trash-talk all day long, I was sure it would backfire on them and the Angels would crash and burn. And they did. I'm really not one to talk about how my team is going to kick your team's butt because, quite frankly, I don't like to eat crow. I just like to enjoy the game and I sure did enjoy this one! The A's dominated. By the time we left it was 6-0, and by the time we made it home, the Angels managed to score a few runs, but they couldn't make the comeback. 

Final score: 10-4

Victory for the A's!!!

Overall, the evening was pleasant and I enjoyed going to my first game of the season...I can't believe I haven't been to a game before this one! 


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back to Black

I dyed my hair. 

Not exactly a shocker, but I originally wasn't intending on going this dark. You've seen my headshot before, and while I was just going to go a full shade darker (to a level 4), I wasn't planning on BLACK.

I have been impatiently waiting for my appointment to come around, so by the time it FINALLY got here, I was more than ready. I even accepted the fact that it was pushed back half of an hour. No biggie. It was delayed, not cancelled! So I went in with the mindset that I was going to emerge with dark chocolate locks. Unfortunately, when all was said and done, my overly processed hair didn't soak up the color quite as much as it should have. Neither me nor Bonne were satisfied, so I stayed through her next appointment where she juggled the two of us. This time she put on a level 3, which I knew was going to be virtually black, but I guess I hadn't really wrapped my mind around it because I was slightly taken aback when I realized how dark my hair was getting under the dryer. Usually she doesn't put me under the dryer unless I'm doing something that involves going lighter, but she told me she thought this would allow the color to really sink in. 

Boy, did it sink in. 

Four hours later my medium, reddish brown hair was basically jet black. I'm not complaining. I actually really like my hair when it's black! It was a little bit of a shock to everyone around me because they weren't expecting it, but I think it's beginning to grow on everyone. My mom really likes it, my seester really likes it (although I think she's slightly jealous because she misses when her hair was black), my boss likes it, my neighborhood barista likes it, the FedEx guy likes's basically a hit. Good thing because it is my signature color!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Fremont Festival of the Arts

This past weekend was the Fremont Art and Wine Festival. Well, it actually hasn't officially been called that in many years, but old habits die hard. I assume they changed the name to take the emphasis off of the drinking aspect of the festival, which is now referred to as the Fremont Festival of the Arts. And it's in its 29th year! As the "largest free street festival west of the Mississippi," there are plenty of things to do and see over the weekend. Artists from near and far set up booths to display their artwork, vendors hang their clothing designs, specialty foods are sold, and of course there is plenty of beer and wine to be consumed.

A view of the street early on in the trip before it became super crowded.

I enjoyed the festivities during the later morning hours. which was perfect because it hadn't gotten too crowded yet and the sun was just beginning to peak out. Soon enough the cloud cover burned off and I was soaking up a warm Sunday afternoon filled with nachos, hot dogs, beer and wine. I actually partook in my first alcoholic beverage at the festival since I became of age to do so. 

White Zinfandel was unavailable at the booth I went to initially, so I opted for Riesling in honor of my best friend, Micaela! 

My favorite part of the trip was seeing the sea glass jewelry booth, which was Cassanova's Jewelry. This was not your typical sea glass jewelry wrapped in wire. These were one-of-a-kind, hand-made settings for sea glass. They were beautiful. While I wasn't able to capture a photo of some of these amazing creations, I did pick up a business card because the owner said if I ever came across a piece of red sea glass, she'd make me a piece of jewelry!

The other eventful part of the trip was watching this incredible 8-year-old boy with his mad yo-yo skills. He was doing tricks that went along to the beat of the music, moon-walking while doing yet another fancy trick, and just plain being impressive. We talked with his grandmother who was there and she told us he started learning at age 5 through the Internet. Three years later he's climbing the ranks of the yo-yoing world. He's in the top 100 yo-yoers in the states! She was a proud grandmother indeed.

He had a great iPod boom box behind him and a large set of yo-yo's to choose from
I certainly had a great time at the festival and it was nice knowing I could indulge in a glass (or two) of wine and not have to worry about driving home for once. I keep telling myself that one of these days I'll have a booth of my own where I can sell some of my art creations or even some hand-made Christmas ornaments. My seester would also have a corner of the booth where she would sell some of her beaded flowers she makes so wonderfully! Maybe someday! If I want to have a booth, I better get to gettin' and start creating!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Simple Pleasures

Last week and through the beginning of this week, I was living in a constant state of anxiety. It was exhausting. Since then my anxiety levels have significantly subsided, so I'm trying to look on the bright side of things and move forward. Here are my three simple pleasures of the week...and they are all SHOES!

Nike Running Shoes

My birthday was back in May, but I finally got my birthday present from my parents. It's really my fault it took so long because all I really wanted were a new pair of Nike running shoes and I insisted upon going to the store with them to try them on. Fast forward nearly three months and I'm finally ready to get them. Good thing the mall had some of the Nike Free Run +2 shoes because I really don't care for the +3 model quite as least in the black and white color combination that I had to have. This is my first pair of Nikes in ages and I couldn't be more excited to wear them!

New/Old Lindsay Phillips Flats

I bought a pair of flats by Lindsay Phillips last year at TJ Maxx for all of $20. I loved them so much and wore them all the time, but eventually the inevitable happened - I had to get rid of them. Quite frankly, they smelled. That's what happens when you don't wear sock with shoes repeatedly and the cushy insoles are made of fabric. I was really upset when I realized I had to toss them, so I did yet another web search for them. On previous searches, if I ever found them, they usually weren't in my size, but on this one particular day, I FOUND A PAIR. I was giddy. So, I used the eBay gift card I got for Christmas and only had to pay for shipping. Even though I pretty much had to pay full price for the shoes and not the TJ Maxx price, I wasn't worried about it because I know how often I wear them. And now I opt to wear them with little ped socks to stretch out the lifespan of the shoe.

Betsey Johnson Moccasins

These shoes were bought on a whim yesterday (also with a gift card from Christmas) while my mom and I were out getting my birthday sneakers. We were passing by them in Macy's, when she stopped to point out the royal blue version, and then we saw these next to them. I squeezed my foot into a size 7 to see if I even wanted to try them on in the proper size and I knew I had to. I love the moccasin style of the shoe, the fun pattern, and the beading. In fact, I'm actually wearing them today! With a little more wear to stretch them out a smidge, these shoes will surely become a quick staple in my wardrobe.