1/2 price.

A little disappointed I didn't plan ahead for Cyber Monday. I saw everything on NY&Co. is 50% off; I probably missed out on good deals. I don't have a lot of Christmas shopping to do though, and I did snag a John Piper bundle for $10. (4 books.) Pretty excited about that.

After a long weekend, I was very glad to be back at work today. 4 days away, and I missed it! Very productive day on the project. Finished WKS preschool and started on children's WKS. I anticipate finishing by lunch tomorrow ... or soon after, depending if my morning meetings will actually last 2 hrs. There are still some discs MIA, but considering I'm pulling close to 500 archived activities, I'm not stressing too much about the dozen or so I've yet to locate. I'm finding that I very much enjoy doing things that I am good at. And in addition to editing, I am good at grocery shopping.
Kroger's sales the last couple of weeks have been pretty disappointing, and I didn't shop except for milk and eggs. I was surprised by their sale this week that hasn't even been mentioned on the two money saving blogs I read. But basically this week, Kroger has turned into a dollar store. I made a trip tonight and bought 38 items worth $78.11 for a total of $39.45.

That's a savings of $38.66, averaging the cost about $1 an item. Here's what I bought:

Betty Crocker cookie mix (-.80) = 1.20
4 Martha White muffin mixes (-1.00) = .75/ea
French's french fried onions (-1.00) = 2.00
Dole canned pineapple (-1.00) = FREE
3 Lean Pockets (-1.00) = 1.67/ea
2 pasta bowls (-1.00) = 1.50/ea
4 Wrigley 3-pk. gum (sale) = 1.00/ea
Quaker Quakes rice snack (-1.00) = FREE
Kroger hashbrowns (sale) = 1.67
6 Pillsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls (-2.60) = .57/ea
Secret deodorant (-1.00) = 1.49
Fleischmann's yeast strip (-1.00) = 0.49
2 Barilla pasta (sale) = 1.00/ea
2 Rice-a-Roni (sale) = 1.00/ea
2 Kroger peanut butter (sale) = 1.00/ea
Kroger 6-pk. popcorn (sale) = 2.00
Kroger soap refill = 3.86*
Hunts ketchup (sale) = 1.19
Pillsbury cake mix (sale) = .94
Betty Crocker frosting (-1.00) = .67
Kroger salad dressing (sale) = 1.00

*liquid soap was the only thing I bought that wasn't on sale, but that will fill up my soap dispenser at least 6 times. Which is like buying the pump version for 0.64 every time.

Here are some rules I stick to:
1) Sale. New Kroger ads are online on Sundays. My grocery list centers around the sale ad. Also, Kroger doubles coupons. This is a BIG deal and is why I don't buy groceries at Walmart or Target.
2) Stock up. If you can get it cheap and you have room in your budget, buy multiple. This is why I bought 2 jars of peanut butter, 4 packs of gum, and 6 cans of cinnamon rolls. They have long shelf lives.
3) Store brand. So you don't have to pay for the advertising and fancy packages. Most of the time the quality is the same. I agree sometimes (and only sometimes, I would even dare to say rarely) it's not as good, but I'm pretty sure frozen vegetables are all the same no matter how good the packaging looks.
4) Coupons. Coupons. Coupons. I don't get the Sunday paper, but my mom clips coupons for me and mails them. If I find a great sale, sometimes I will print coupons off the Internet. (I get my printer ink for a low price here.)
5) Budget. And stick to it. I allow $120/mo. for groceries, which is a lot for one person, but I include anything I buy at Kroger (including shampoo, soap, Tylenol, TP, etc.) in this category and usually don't hit my limit.
6) Self-control. Don't impulse buy. Stick to your list. If you really, really, really want it, pass it by. You probably won't even want it tomorrow. If you do, consider your budget first before going back to make the purchase. I also tie this one into motive. You should be a good steward of your God's money.
7) Attention to detail. Sure that $1 pack of 2 Dial soap bars sounds like a good deal, but is it? Stores provide this tiny piece of information on the prices, so pay attention. It's called price per oz. Even if it is $1, don't pay 18.8 cents per oz. when you can get the 6 pk. for 12 cents per oz. Soap keeps.
8) Wear your seatbelt. OK, this has nothing to do with shopping. But seriously, wear your seatbelt.
9) Don't lower your standards. I refuse to pay more than $2 for a box of cereal, more than 25 cents per can for soda, more than $1 for a carton of eggs, or $1.50 for a 3-pk. of gum. Sometimes this means simply not buying something I don't really need, or waiting until there is a sale. Even if it means waiting for weeks. Patience, grasshoppa.

I'm still pretty stocked up from last month. I think I'll try to live on what I have this month. The portion sizes for those pasta bowls are huge, so I can split them and have 4 lunches for .75/ea. (And they have meat in them!) And I don't even really like pineapple, but how can I turn down a free can? It would probably be good in the stir fry vegetables and rice frozen mix I bought a couple of weeks ago for 0.88. Mmm. Now I need to stop eating popcorn for dinner and start cooking!

biloxi. days 2 and 3.

I'm back in Nashville. But here's what I did this weekend in Biloxi. (I'll add more pictures later)

- Woke up and went to the beach. It was a little chilly. Returned Friday's Redbox movie. Tried contacting Clarissa. Picked her up at 10 a.m. (She slept in.) :)
- Went to this donut place called Tatonut. They use potato flour in their donuts. 
- We drove by the beach, then went to Gulfport. Saw the Friendship Oak -- a tree more than 500 years old and really enormous.
- Explored Gulfport
- Went to the LifeWay store and did some shopping.
- Saw a matinee, The Blind Side. Excellent movie. I'd highly recommend it.
- Did a little shopping.
- Went to dinner at a Mexican place. It was good.
- Got another free Redbox. This time, Bride Wars. Clarissa had seen it; I hadn't. I fell asleep after 20 minutes. I don't feel bad because it was free.

The Friendship Oak - More than 500 years old. Survived Katrina.

- Picked Clarissa up and we went to church. They had a "singing Christmas tree" set up. I've heard of these, but never actually seen one. It was gigantic and had tiers where a choir could stand in it. The sermon was good (Matt. 5:5-8).
- After church, went to the beach. It was 70 degrees and we stood in our pants and long-sleeved shirts and let our faces soak up the sun.
- Drove Clarissa back to base and got a quick tour. At noon, started the drive home.
- I heard on the news this was one of the (if not the) busiest days of the year for traveling. I definitely experienced that. The interstates were packed. I didn't have to worry about getting sleepy while I drove; my body was so tense the whole time. The speed limit was 70; everyone in the left lane was going 85, and everyone in the right was going 65. There were a couple of accidents that slowed things way down. It was frustrating; the drive was brutal.


day 1 in biloxi

A quick update. I'll add pictures later.

About 1.5 hours into my drive, I thought there was no way I would ever make it to Mississippi! But as the afternoon approached, the miles sped by and I got more excited to be approaching the gulf. At the bottom of Alabama, highway 10 splits. 10-E: Florida. 10-W: Mississippi. If you look at a map, both states are very close. As nice as Florida sounded, I veered right. As I entered Mississippi for the first time in my life, I stopped in at the welcome center. In the bathroom, a woman next to me was washing her hands. She said, "I almost forgot what Mississippi water was like! I keep scrubbing because I can't tell if my hands are clean yet -- there's still crud on them!" I agree; the tap water here isn't very good, and I'm wishing I had packed more than a half gallon of my filtered water.

I made it to Biloxi at 2 pm. My hotel check-in time was 3 pm, but fortunately they let me in early. Free* breakfast (*I suppose I am paying for it) and no Internet. I can deal with that. (Correction: there is Internet. But I can't get it in my room. If I park my car on the other side of the building and sit in the driver's seat, I get a great signal.) The hotel is about five miles from Keesler AFB. Clarissa gave me some rough directions ... she has only been here one month and without a car, so she hasn't been too far off base. Before I knew it, I found myself cruising down Beach Blvd -- white sand and an expansive gulf to my left. Absolutely stunning. I resisted the urge to park my car and lay in it. :)

Clarissa met me at the gate. Until next week, she is required to wear her blues whenever she is off base. She said the weirdest part is the stares it draws and when people come up to her and thank her for serving. Her role is finance, but she says she suppose everything contributes to the bigger picture. The first place we went was Super Target. Trips to Target is something I definitely take for granted. She was pretty excited about the freedom a vehicle provides.

For dinner, we went to this place called The Shed. It screamed Southern. Have you ever seen A Goofy Movie? It's been years, but my memory clings to a scene with an outdoor party ... wooden picnic tables with Christmas lights stringed overhead. That's what it was like. If it wasn't in the lower 50s, I'm sure the place would be a real party. We ate inside, pulled pork sandwiches. There were dollar bills with people's names on them, taped all over the walls and ceiling. It certainly had a lot of character.

We thought we would catch a movie: The Blind Side. My Garmin couldn't find the theater. We called my mom twice for help with Internet directions. Traffic was dense and I was getting frustrated. Apparently there are just two theaters in this area. We were about to give up when I asked, "Should we turn around?" Clarissa said, "Um, just keep going straight." And BAM! The theater was right there. There were a lot of people but we parked and went up to get tickets. The movie was sold out. So we went to Redbox and used a coupon code to get a free movie: 21. I've seen it before, but I like it because it's not a "leave your brain at the door" movie. It's about blackjack and counting cards, and this kid from MIT who starts counting cards to win lots of money to pay for his education at Harvard Med.

I fell asleep during the movie. Clarissa woke me up when it was over to drive her back to base. She had a 12 a.m. curfew. I made it back to the hotel and took a shower. I'm 5'9. The shower head was mounted at about 5'5. I hate this because I have to bend my knees to get under the water. Ridiculous. Has anyone ever complained about a shower head being too high? Why not mount them all at 6'6 or 7'0?

We've thrown around ideas for tomorrow: for sure going to the beach just for a bit. New Orleans is just an hour away. Catch a matinee. Go kayaking on the back bay. We'll see.


a special treat.

Update from the archives: 154 activities pulled. Which is just a small dent in my list. I've been working on both preschool and children, though, and once I get into the office with all the WKS I need, I'll make great strides. I had 41 done by 8:30 am, simply because I had the CDs I needed. Hunting them down takes forever. Pulling the feathers out and cooking them is the easy part.

This morning Cheryl took Jessica and I down to Mike's Ice Cream Fountain for a Thanksgiving treat. (We walked; it was sunny and we burned some calories.) :) I got a Swiss White Chocolate hot chocolate. Pretty much tasted like I was drinking a candy bar. They had lots of ice creams and coffees; I'll have to go back down there when I'm craving some mint chocolate chip. There was a guy there who was [there's no better way of putting it] harassing the customers. Mostly dropping cheesy pick-up lines, one after another. Pretty annoying.

Being the day before a holiday, we got to leave work early! It was good timing because I ran out of things to do with the CDs. I came home and took a nap. A lights-out, 2-hour, I-feel-like-I've-been-hit-by-a-truck, is-it-a.m.-or-p.m.?-nap. There's got to be some kind of scientific explanation why we sometimes sleep much harder more quickly than other times. It's not like I stayed up late last night or anything.

I'll probably get my things packed up tomorrow morning for Mississippi. I'm planning on leaving between 5 and 6 on Friday morning because 1) I want to avoid driving in the early evening darkness as much as possible and 2) More time with Clarissa. I'm coming back on Sunday after noon, so nearly half of my drive will be in the dark. Ick.


free of charge.

Pulled 54 archived activities today. From nearly 50 CDs. I got stuck on preschool (couldn't find any of the 70+ CDs I'm still lacking) so I decided to get a head start on children. Those CDs are mostly accounted for. Hopefully I'll make a lot of progress tomorrow before the holiday.

Trudy gave me the name of her mechanic, so I finally decided to take my car in. Off and on, the front right wheel has been making a squeaking or rubbing noise. The thought of paying several hundred dollars for more car repairs made me cringe, but considering I'm driving about 3,300 miles over the next month, the last thing I want is to have a wheel fall off at 70 mph. So I took it in, hoping it was nothing major. They drove it around to hear the noise and asked if it had been happening off and on. They took both front wheels off and everything looked good (hooray), except the front right tire was loose when they took it off so they think maybe that was causing the noise. They tightened it for me and sent me on my way.

No charge.

Gotta love that. Looks like I've found myself a new mechanic.



There were a lot of people not at work today, but Erica came in early with me and met a few of my coworkers. Then I left her my car to roam the city. I think she roamed a little, but she also went back to my house and took a nap. I suppose that's logical since I woke her up at 5 a.m.

The morning flew by. I spent it typing data into an Excel spreadsheet; then I finished and started pulling activities off archived CDs. Erica picked me up for lunch. We went to P.F. Changs because she had never been; we each got an egg roll and split an order of lettuce wraps. Afterward we were going to get ice cream, but we couldn't find any place. She talked me into driving to Maggie Moos at the Green Hills mall. We had never been; the traffic was awful. The small cone was like $4! We left without getting anything. No way am I paying that much for a scoop of ice cream. Erica picked up a half gallon at Kroger for $2.50, so that's now in my freezer. I think I hear it calling my name.

In the afternoon I made some progress on the archived activities. I finished pulling a total of 34 today -- not bad considering most CDs had only 1 or 2 activities I needed, so it was a timely process. There are still a lot of CDs I can't find, but I'm doing what I can now and I'll take my "impossible" list to someone for help all at once.

Drove Erica to the airport after work. My front right wheel is making noises again which makes me nervous, especially knowing I'll be driving to Biloxi and back, then to Kansas and back in the near future. Even though I really want to ignore it, I don't want driving on it to just make it a lot worse. But there's no way I'll be able to walk into a mechanic and have him tell me it'll be several hundred dollars to fix without crying my eyes out.

It's been a few months since I've gotten my haircut. I have a friend in Manhattan who has cut my hair for the last couple of years and she's great at it. She knows what I like and she does a fantastic job. But she's nearly 700 miles away, so I decided I'd stop in at a place near my house and just get a trim.

I went to Fantastic Sams. I will now refer to it as Not-So-Fantastic Sams. It's just like Not-So-Great Clips; probably a little more expensive, but same concept. I tell this guy who is cutting my hair that I just want a trim. I don't know if he was cutting to the rhythm of the country music or just really had no idea what he was doing, but he cut way more than an inch off, and I suppose he was trying to keep my layers. He botched it. Awful. A bad haircut can really ruin your day.

Also, I called Regions today about my missing checks. They said they sent them but they came back as undeliverable. I said, "That's funny, because the debit card finally arrived at my house." They decided they'd get the checks sent to the branch here and then I'll just go pick them up. Jeff has always told me I should bank with our credit union at work. I'm starting to think Regions wants me to bank with our credit union, too!

Ah, Monday. I think I'd be in a better mood if I could get a little vitamin D. It's been cloudy and drizzly and cold. Definitely looking forward to Biloxi!


day 2.

Erica and I went to First Baptist this morning where she got to meet some of my Sunday School class (we were small in number today). They also had the handbells playing during the service and they were really neat. After church it was really cloudy and cold, so we didn't walk around downtown like planned. We drove through Centennial Park and stopped so Erica could see the Parthenon. Then we drove through Hillsboro Village and back home.

For lunch we went to Applebees. My dad had given me a gift card after I bought my house and we split a rack of ribs and some fries. Then I had a coupon for $5 off $25, so I "splurged" and got a diet Pepsi (I always just get water) and then we got dessert. Our bill came to $26, so it was just enough to use the coupon. We were so full that all we had for dinner was some popcorn.

Went back up to Madison today to get some small rugs to put under my furniture because we discovered the metal/wood frames beneath the recliners have great potential to scratch my wood floors. We got small rugs that are hidden by the furniture and also a small rug for the kitchen door. I got four cloth place mats, but I apparently have a really small table because they don't all fit without overlapping, so I'm just putting out two at a time unless I happen to ever have three guests over; then we'll just have overlapping place mats.

The cashier at Old Time Pottery in Madison was hilarious. The lady in front of us had a rug without a price tag. The cashier said, "You don't know the price? How much would you pay for this?" The lady said, "I don't know; if it's more than $15, I don't want it." The cashier flipped through a booklet of barcodes, found one, and said, "How does $11.99 sound?" And that's what she sold the rug for. She asked Erica and I if we were twins. We told her "triplets," and then she said, "How old are you, like 21?" Good guess. There was a lady at JCP yesterday who thought we were in high school. Two people today told us we had the same smile.

On our way back home from Madison it was getting dark so we drove by Opryland again and saw all the lights on at the hotel. It was pretty neat; I especially loved the trees with all the individual branches covered in lights. Then when we were trying to figure out how to get back onto the interstate, we saw a rainbow!

We called my brother to get on the Internet and look up a promo code for Redbox, so we could rent a free movie. We got UP (for $0). I wanted to see The Blind Side at the theater but my sister has plans to see it with her husband when she gets back. Maybe that's something I can do with my friend in Mississippi next weekend.

It's 8 p.m. and Erica is already asleep. This weekend has flown by, but we've been keeping pretty busy and seeing lots of things. I think I'm about ready for bed myself.


sightings in music city.

My sister, Erica, flew into Nashville this morning. She called me when she got off the plane and said, "Guess who is in front of me!" I had no idea who she was talking about and she said, "You know him." She wouldn't say his name loud enough for me to hear since he was walking right in front of her. At first I thought maybe someone we knew from Kansas had flown in, but I asked, "Is he famous?" When she was coming down the escalator to the baggage claim, I immediately recognized the guy in front of her:

Mr. Mat Kearney himself. Hat, guitar, and skinny jeans.

After a quick lunch, we headed to Gaylord Opryland hotel to check out the gardens and Christmas decorations. It was really cool!

There are more pictures up on my Facebook page.

Then we drove up to Madison so I could buy some cereal bowls (on sale at Old Time Pottery for 99 cents each). Then we headed to Rivergate Mall before heading back to Nashville to drive through downtown. Tonight we made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and are hanging out at the house. Tomorrow we'll go to church, walk around downtown and walk across Shelby Street Bridge and then go to Centennial Park. I'm dragging Erica into work with me early on Monday and then she'll have a few hours to roam Nashville solo while I work. She flies out Monday evening.


work cut out

As you can see below, I got my dining room table and chairs put together. I watched this week's episode of Law & Order: SVU and took breaks while it buffered to work on the chairs. (Very good episode by the way; Olivia is framed for murder and the entire episode it seems impossible she could have done it but all the evidence points to her.) I got too sleepy to catch The Office (it was online by 9 p.m.) but I watched it this morning as I got ready for work.

In the news, Oprah announced she'll be ending her show in 2011. The reader comments on CNN were hilarious! Lots of people "praising baby Jesus" and making jokes about the ending of Mayan calendar in 2012.

While we're on the topic of not being a fan of people in the spotlight, this guy I follow on Twitter (@erikraymond, aka The Irish Calvinist) wrote a straightforward review about one of Joel Osteen's books. Obviously I've never read the book, but I think the review is just a good reminder that following Christ isn't about being your own savior and making yourself a good person. (It drives me crazy to hear "Why do bad things happen to good people?" sermons. We ARE NOT good people! We should be asking: Why are MORE bad things NOT happening?!) Anyway, I know not everyone dislikes Joel Osteen, but I'm not a fan. I prefer straightfoward gospel from guys like Piper and Driscoll.

As we've all witnessed on the Office, the biggest threat to office workers is Fat Butt Disease. When I was an intern, Andrea introduced me to walking the stairs. Walking down stairs is bad on your knees, so we rode the elevator down to the bottom and walked back up. Since starting full time, I've been making it a habit to break every day and walk the stairs.

Also, I'm starting to help with a big project that will wrap up in June. The good thing is I'll have a lot of time to work on it over Christmas break since everyone else in the office is taking vacation. Anyway, I taped my assignments up around my room. Every highlighted activity will be pulled from archived CDs. I should take a picture of the archive room because finding CDs is definitely a difficult task!

Trimmed the yard tonight. I finally tightened the bolts on my reel mower. One bolt was missing already; need to pick one up sometime. I'm starting a list of things I want to get done around here in the next 6 months, 12 months, 2 years, etc. Pretty sure I'll eventually be using Round Up on the yard and starting over. There's no grass, just weeds. I think spring is holding some big projects for me, including a garden and a kitten. I'll also be looking into getting an outlet or two on the outside of my house in case I ever want to have Christmas lights or turn the fluorescents on in my chicken coop.

My sister is flying in tomorrow. And a week from today, I'll be driving down to Biloxi! Exciiited!


the power of words.

I decided to put my table and chairs together tonight. Who wouldn't be excited to do that? I took everything out of the packaging and it looks really nice. But holy cow ... LOTS of parts! When I was little, I spent hours building towers and roller coasters with K'Nex, which often required staring at the picture instructions to figure out what went where. But here's the thing: the pictures were color coded. Each piece was unique in color, size, and/or shape so it wasn't rocket science. Now when you open up a box of table and chair parts, you don't expect it to be hard. In fact, the table only took me a couple of minutes to put together. But now I have these four chairs, a bazillion parts, and black and white instructions with no words.

I did a couple of steps at a time, then repeated them for each chair. I was hitting my final three steps when I realized I had screwed ALL of the back legs onto the chair backs in the wrong direction. Which means I know have 40 screws to take out, then reverse the legs, then rescrew them all back. I'm a bit frustrated to say the least. I'm not touching it tonight. It's going to sit there scattered all over the place until I'm in the mood to remove then replace 40 screws. So if anyone is bored tomorrow evening ... I've got an extra Allen wrench. I'll pay you in gratitude and quality time. And there will probably be a little extra something for you in heaven.

Cheryl got back from her mission trip this week and was in the office today. She brought us all candy! It seemed to be some sort of cookie, but I think you could cover anything in chocolate and sprinkles and make a lot of people happy.

It was cold and cloudy when I left work today. I'm not diggin' this dark-all-the-time shenanigan. It's pretty depressing and makes my evenings feel extra-short.

Cornell is playing UMass right now. I'm listening to the audio. Currently: Cornell 25, UMass 19. A few minutes left in the 1st half. My brother has 8 points.


the little things.

On Sunday I sprayed around my house for bugs, so I keep finding them around the baseboards where they have crawled out and died. Creeps me out, but I'd rather see dead ones than have live ones I can't see. I've run across several crickets and bugs I can't identify, but no spiders. Thank goodness for no spiders. Here's the bug I couldn't identify (see picture). It's like a cricket with the legs the shape of a grasshopper's and length of a spider's and the underside of a beetle and the markings of a zebra with the spontaneity of a frog. This is the third one I've killed. I'm pretty sure we don't have them in Kansas. I've Googled it (of course) and it seems to be a Camel Cricket (aka Cave Cricket). They like dark, damp places (like caves) and can freak out when weather changes (like 70 to 50?). It must be too dry in Kansas for camel crickets. They are harmless, but they are scary looking so they are not welcome in my house!

My dining room table and chairs have arrived. I ordered them online and they shipped to Wal-Mart for free. Wally World gets a D for customer service today. I went back to the Site to Store area and the credit card keypad said "Press for Assistance" so I pushed the button, and it said it was notifying someone. Then it said "an associate is on their [sic] way." After a few minutes, it cleared. I kept looking up and making eye contact with WM employees when they walked by to see if they were there to help, and no one stopped and asked if I needed help. Nope, just thought I would hang around here in the back of the store. Taking a break from my day. I pressed the button again and after a bit heard the intercom paging someone to Site to Store. Finally someone came and found a guy to lift the box into my car. And there it sits. 110 pounds, assembly required. And there my box will continue to sit until I get some help because I'm pretty sure I am incapable of lifting more than 90% of my bodyweight. :)

Update: My awesome real estate agent, Tiffany, brought her husband over to lift my box. If it wasn't 9 p.m., I'd tackle this project because I'm finding it hard to believe a table and four chairs will emerge from this. But it's past my bedtime and I think if I stayed up, I'd regret it around, say ... 5 a.m.

I'm coming across little things I am lacking and making a list: hot pot holders, colander, bowls (my current "bowls" are really dessert dishes -- very small) ... If I can survive another month without it, I'll put it on my Christmas list.

For my long weekend after Thanksgiving, I am officially going to Biloxi, MS. I booked a hotel room for two nights and am very excited to see my friend Clarissa. And also the ocean. I didn't think I would see the ocean this year. Considering Nashville is 4 hours closer to the ocean than Kansas, I'm hoping to make a trip to the coast at least once a year. It's an 8-hour drive to Biloxi, but since I'm not going back to Kansas for the holiday, I thought this would be a nice mini-vacation. Plus it's been too long (3 months!) since I've seen any of my close friends. It's about time I got a hug.

I've discovered my living room walls are not so beige, like I thought. At night when I turn on the lights inside, it's obvious they are a light shade of green. I like this. Kind of a light celery. I'm still very lacking in decor, but pictures, lamps, and even an area rug are not quite at the top of my priority list when there are things like smoke detectors (my house only has one).

Tonight I did a little cooking. Made up some more burritos for lunches. I know, I know. I complain about how boring and monotonous eating rice and beans are, but 1) They are cheap, and 2) They are filling. One of these little guys packs about 260 calories which is at least as much as a PB&J, and sandwiches always leave me feeling disappointed. I need some new lunch ideas. I also boiled some eggs.

There are lots of little things to get done around the house. I'm sure this is only the start of years of "little things." I'm constantly making lists: things I need, things to do now, things to do later, people to stay in touch with, places to go, appointments to make.

Work is going well. I'm learning a lot and loving what I do. Tomorrow we have chapel. That's always something to look forward to. I think we should start every workday singing some praises to Jesus!


moving in.

Well, it's 8 p.m. on Sunday night and I'm sitting down for the first time since ... Thursday night. And only because I'm forcing myself to take a break to update the blog.

I'm all moved into my house! I got to take a half day off on Friday, which meant going home at 10:30 a.m., which worked out well because I had time to get moved out of my Cedarmont house and get everything put up and a little cleaning done before my mom and Mark arrived with the Budget truck and all my stuff. We unloaded the truck in less than 20 minutes to get it back to the Budget place before it closed. (Actually, it was closed, but the hours on the website were wrong and the guy was still there and agreed to take the truck.)

Friday night was spent moving in the loveseat and recliner, putting my bed together, and then I washed all the dishes that had been in boxes (with dead bugs) while Mark put up all my blinds!

Saturday morning we left early for Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I had never been to Alabama before. My brother's team (Cornell) played Alabama. Dr. Rainer is a big Alabama fan (for football at least ... I don't know how he feels about basketball). Alabama started out with the first basket, but Cornell answered with 5 points and stayed ahead the rest of the game -- leading by as much as 15 at the beginning of the 2nd half before Alabama came within 1 with a couple of minutes left. Cornell finished it out for the win: 71-67.

After the game we took Geoff out to eat at Olive Garden and then drove him to Montgomery where the team was staying before flying out early this morning.

Today I made an early Walmart run to buy kitchen utensils so we could make pancakes. I'm starting a list of things I need and prioritizing what I can get now, later, and even later. It's working out nice to move in right before Christmas so I can have a little help with getting the essentials. Mark also installed my bathroom hardware (towel rack, TP holder) and fixed my funhouse mirror so I look normal in it. :)

After lunch I took Mom and Mark downtown to Centennial Park. It was 71 degrees today and the park was a popular place. We also parked at LifeWay and walked down Broadway and back before I dropped them off at the airport to catch a flight back to KC.

A very busy and very productive weekend! I'm loving my house. Hopefully my table and chairs will get here this week so I can put it together. Next weekend my sister is visiting, and then the Friday after Thanksgiving I am planning on driving down to Biloxi, MS to visit my friend Clarissa. She came to Nashville three months ago on her way back to Nebraska from Florida. I'm definitely excited about seeing her.


the rubyz

Today was a busy day. I think I was only in my office for two and a half hours, mostly between 6:30-9:00 a.m.
Big meeting on book ideas and then this afternoon I did an interview with Cammie Hall and Alexis Slifer of The Rubyz. They'll be featured in an upcoming issue of Bible Express along with Mission Six, who I am interviewing on Thursday.

At 2:00 we went to a baby shower for Rebecca who is having a little girl in December. While she opened gifts, Trudy told us at her table--in great detail--about her experiences using cloth diapers with her own kids. Siiiick.

4 more days until the Cornell v. Alabama game. We're driving down to Tuscaloosa to watch since my brother plays for Cornell. (He's a senior.) I wonder if Dr. Rainer is as much of an Alabama basketball fan as he is Alabama football. Might have to give him a hard time if Cornell beats 'em. ;)


proportion distortion

It was nice of the seller to leave me a full length mirror in my bedroom. But I have to admit, I was a little taken aback when I stood in front of it. But instead of developing any serious self-image issues, I laughed.
(See photo: the mirror vs. normal)

Yep. Makes me a little curvy and cuts about 4 inches from my legs. Yeah, we're lookin' a little disproportional here.

Here’s a tip for you: If you’re going to nail a mirror to a door that’s not completely flat, don’t bend the mirror doing it! Parts of my closet door are slightly raised, but the nails are hammered into a not-raised part. The mirror is curved and now has the effect of a funhouse mirror – making me extra wide with really short legs. That’s gonna have to be fixed.

Even though I already stocked up on cereal last week, I couldn’t turn down four boxes of General Mills cereal for ONE DOLLAR A BOX. (Cereal keeps and makes good snacks to take to work.) They were on sale 4/$10, but if you bought 4, Kroger knocked $4 off. Then I had two coupons for $1 off Honey Nut Cheerios. So I got 2 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, Quaker Oatmeal Squares, and Total. Total for $1! Incredible.

Side note: One of the cereals I got at Target last week was Strawberry Shredded Wheat. I had never tried it before, but I thought, Why not? Well, it’s not that good. Unless you like your breakfast to taste like candy. Sure, 10 years ago I would have loved candy for breakfast, but it’s like your ability to go on rides that do nothing but spin in circles: the older you get, the more it makes you want to throw up.

Coupon for FREE Ben & Jerry’s pint. I got frozen yogurt. ($2.50 value)
Coupon for FREE M&Ms. ($0.69)
Sale + coupon on 2 c. bag of shredded cheese: I paid $0.80.
Frozen vegetables: $0.80

It kind of scared me to see I hit 65% of my grocery budget by the 8th day of the month, but I seriously have enough to last a really long time. Really long. This is my first time shopping to stock up, so I'll see how many weeks these things last me and I'll report back. Cooking for one will mean lots of leftovers which will become tomorrow’s lunch.

I was really excited today when I found out my house is less than half a mile from a middle school with a track so I can ride my bike over there and go running.
I hope this week goes by quickly! I can’t wait until Mom and Mark get here on Friday to help me move in. I passed a sign today that said it was 80 degrees in Nashville. In November. Awesome.

Oh, and I'm pretty bummed that I've planned on waiting until after Christmas to get a kitten. These little guys showed up on Craigslist and I pretty much melted into a puddle. How adorable is that? Starting to consider getting two-- you know, so they can keep each other company while I'm at work.


woop boop de coop

I myself find it quite comical that I have a chicken coop in my backyard, and am even slightly disappointed that I'm not zoned to have chickens. Think about it, I could have all the fresh eggs I need and [if someone else did the killing and cutting up] plenty of meat! But I can't, so I will use it as a shed.

My bike in stall #1. If this green movement ever catches on and people stop driving cars,
I'll be living it up with my 5-bike "garage."

Some of the stalls. I really like this!

The storage area behind the stalls. It's so huge! And there are fluorescent lights
on the ceiling hooked up to an extension cord ... but as far as I can tell, you'd have to
run that all the way up to the house for electricity.

My "new" refrigerator! Katy and her husband and their two friends
brought it over today. The guys had to take the doors off to get it through
the door frame, but then they moved the handle to the right side for me. It's perfect!

Katy's husband killed the first wasp that came inside.
After they left, though, this sucker sneaked in.
I wacked him with that broom a few times so he couldn't fly and then
doused him in all-purpose cleaner. I've learned cleaners are very effective at
killing/strongly inhibiting insects and spiders.

This is the last weekend I'll probably actually be living in my Cedarmont house.
[In college I lived in a house with Matt and Tim which was nicknamed the 
ATM (Alyssa, Tim, Matt) so I've unofficially nicknamed this house the ARK. (Alyssa, Rachel, Kate). 
At least that's what I named it under my GPS favorites.)] 
So I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!

I'm tired! I think a nap may be in order. I'm pretty much caught up on immediate house stuff. I did notice I only have one smoke detector, in my hallway -- none in the kitchen or bedrooms. Those are easy to install so I'll be getting some extras. I have a few other things to do like hang a towel rack and toilet paper holder, replace the lock thing on my shed... all of which require tools I do not have. My mom and Mark are bringing me some next weekend though. And I get to see my brother because Cornell is playing Alabama for their first basketball game, so we are driving down to watch.

The more time I spend over at my house, the more excited I am about it! My little-old-lady neighbor Margaret came and talked to me today when I was working on my bike brakes. Margaret always waves at me when I drive by or walk down the driveway to get my mail. She's constantly looking out her window at my house. It's nice to know someone is watching out for me!



End of the week. I feel like my mind is buzzing with 1,309 "wreckless ambitions" -- things I'd like to do in the short-term and long-term. A bucket-list of sorts with the hope that the end isn't really the end and knowing that everything on my list is super lame compared to heaven.

These things include but are by no means limited to:
Winter 2009-10 - learn about gardening and plan for spring; make house a home
Spring 2010 - personal curriculum plan, also find someone to mentor/disciple me
Summer 2010 - take some vacation (finally) and see friends; try new things
Fall 2010 - finish organizing collection and self-publish my chronicles of year 1 in Music City

Thoughts on this week's events.
Today: Nashville drivers are starting to get to me. I really need to work on my patience behind the wheel. I catch myself "talking" to other cars as if they can actually hear me.  If your lane is ending, speed up and merge. I don't understand why everyone is so clingy with that right side white line. The interstates come to a stand-still and I at first always expected to find a big wreck, but nope. People are just doing a bad job merging.

Nov. 5: Stopped for gas on the way to work. The gas pumps were tagged with graffiti, and just when I was almost done, this big brown dog runs across Nolensville and straight at me and I'm thinking, What am I going to do if this dog starts attacking me? I freeze and it sniffs around my car and circles it and I slowly slip into my driver's seat and shut the door. Nothing like a little "scared for my life" to start the day. 

Nov. 4: I got my dryer vent and deadbolt lock installed. This guy said he'd be there at 4:30 and didn't make it until 5:30. The job took two hours. I was tired and hungry (combination for cranky) after standing in my house for three hours where there are no chairs and there's nothing to do. He asked me, "Are you always this quiet?" If I had a dollar for every time... 

Nov. 3: A writer decided to ignore instruction and write without a template. Why? Maybe because she thought I'd have fun styling all the devos manually. GRRRRrrrace and peace. Got to talk to Jenn tonight. She's engaged! Wonderful. :)


bargain shopper.

This afternoon Jeff tipped me off that the Kroger in Brentwood was tripling their coupons because Harris Teeter was tripling theirs. I have had a collection of coupons I've been saving to make a Kroger trip this week, so finding out that Kroger would triple coupons up to $0.99 gave me a little bit of an adrenaline rush, I'm not gonna lie. Here are the results of today's shopping mission.

The Brentwood Kroger was out of Kleenex and juice, so I went to the Kroger on Elysian Fields to do the Mega 10 Event Sale. Also I stopped at Target in Brentwood. Something I've learned since being here: shop in shadier parts of town. Because the Target in Antioch has the same items for cheaper than Brentwood, and the Kroger in Madison is cheaper than Hendersonville. I almost listed out each individual bargain, but the receipts were confusing. Take my word that a lot of these things were just a few cents.

Kroger 1
Charmin TP – 4 large rolls   
2 rolls Bounty paper towels
Puffs tissue - single box  
Healthy Choice dinner (FREE with coupon)
Hot Pockets  
Krusteaz Crumb Cake Mix
Ziploc freezer bags  
Crest toothpaste (FREE with coupon)  
Betty Crocker cookie mix
Blueberry waffle mix  
Suave pro shampoo
Campbells cream of mushroom (2 cans)
Betty Crocker frosting  
Ensure nutrition drink (FREE with coupon)
Secret deodorant  
Suave pro conditioner

Total: $11.38
Mfg Cpn Savings: $11.20
Bonus Cpn Savings: $8.90
Kroger Plus Savings: $7.80
Total Savings: 27.90 (74 percent)

Kroger 2
2 boxes Tuna Helper
1 box Hamburger Helper
3 boxes Kleenex tissue
2 Welch's grape juice
2 Welch's white grace juice
2 cans Carnation lowfat condensed milk
2 packages Keebler cookies

Total: $17.04
Mfg Cpn Savings: $7.00
Bonus Cpn Savings $1.00
Kroger Plus Savings: $18.10
Total Savings: $26.10 (63 percent)

KROGER: Could have spent $82.42
Spent: $28.42 (86% savings)

(Every single item I bought at Kroger had a coupon, and some were also on sale.)

3 pk. Extra gum
2 pk. Trident Layers gum
2 Chex cereals
4 Kelloggs cereals
Swiffer Wet Jet starter kit
Charmin TP - 16 mega rolls

Total: $49.65
-$25 gift card from my coworkers
OOP: $24.65 (earned $5 Target card = $19.65)

- 7 bananas (FREE) - Funny story. I was unloading groceries and found these bananas. I'm pretty sure they belonged to the person who checked out in front of me at the Kroger in Brentwood. Oops.
- Pampered Chef small bowls and caddy (FREE) - Won at the LifeWay Crafts Fair
- Popcorn Factory seasoning set and popcorn ($0.98) - I used a gift card I've had since last Christmas. I love popcorn so I think this should be great.


metro skies and country air.

Snapped this picture on my way out the door for work this morning. Another reason I enjoy the end of Daylight Saving Time. 5:45 a.m. is beautiful!

Today was the annual Crafts Fair at work. I didn't have any need (or money) for fancy jewelry, cutesy cupcakes, or Christmas decorations, so I just looked around and signed up for a door prize.

And I won a door prize! A Pampered Chef small bowl and caddy set! I'm sure it will look very cute in my new house. :)

I took my team over to see my house yesterday afternoon. Yesterday evening I contacted this electrician guy who said he could install my dryer vent and deadbolt. He said he'd call me back with a time he can do it. Hopefully it'll be soon. I do need to run the deadbolt I bought back to Lowe's and exchange it for one that matches my doorknob hardware. Oops! I just hadn't paid attention and figured "gray is gray," but it's not and I don't want my door to look mismatched.

I'm kind of at a stand-still on things to do with my house. My mom is coming in 10 days with all my furniture which is really exciting. I should sit down and decide what the essentials are and make a budget for buying house stuff. I also don't want to buy something and find it somewhere else for cheaper, so I want to use my evenings the rest of the week to go "price shopping" at a few places and then maybe on Sunday actually buy things like floor rugs and a kitchen table and chairs and decor stuff.

Still trying to make a decision about painting. Maybe I'll wait a few months on that. I want to do a sage green color in the kitchen, and maybe in the bathroom. So my to-do list is nothing pressing, just "think about this and make a decision," which might wear me out more than a list full of things to do immediately because I'm kind of indecisive. I'm really excited about the next month though and getting to make my house a home. Right now I'm planning on my second bedroom being a second bedroom/creative space: a twin bed, art table, and a sun-shiney place I escape to create.


day of conquering.

I've started playing a grocery game (not to be confused with The grocery game). Basically you save tons of money by matching up sales with coupons and walking out of the store with free or nearly-free stuff. (Note: I'm not living this week on what I bought today. The key is to stock up on items when they are cheap and over time you've got a nice stock of almost free food in your pantry.) Sundays are my coupon-planning day because that's when the Kroger and Target weekly ads come out.

Kroger is having their MegaEvent sale where you buy 10 items and get $5 off at checkout. In addition to normal discounts for carrying a Kroger card, they also double manufacturers coupons! So I made a list, sorted through my coupons, printed coupons from online, and went into Kroger to conquer. Here's what I got:

3 boxes of Betty Crocker potatoes
Retail: $1.85/ea.
Sale + coupons: $0.47/ea.
3 boxes of Kleenex tissues
Retail: $2.15/ea.
Sale + coupons: $0.66/ea.
5 cans Del Monte vegetables
Retail: $1.50/ea.
Sale + coupons: $0.30/ea.
32 oz. Gatorade
Retail: $1.10
Sale: $0.49
Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chips
Retail: $3.39
Sale + coupon: $0.99
Welch's 100% Grape Juice
Retail: $4.79
Sale + coupon: $1.49
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray
Retail: $2.49
Sale + coupon: $0.24

I also picked up three big bags of Halloween candy for $3.88 total (always a deal the day after Halloween), to put in my candy basket at work. Without the candy, I would have paid about $9.07 before tax for $31.27 (retail price) worth of groceries. My total rang up at $12.95 and my receipt said I saved $22.27. That's a savings of 63%. Not bad for my first time really playing the game. Sometime this week I am going to make a trip to Target. As a principle, I refuse to buy cereal if it is more than $2/box. Target is running a sale: Buy 4, get 1 free on select Kellogg's cereals. I have a Target coupon for $1/off a box which I will combine with a mfr. coupon to get 4 boxes for $1.55 each. This is fun!

Sales weren't the only thing I conquered today. I also conquered my yard. I assembled my reel mower and got to work. Reel mowers are like the old-fashioned kind. No gas, just turning sharp blades. I wasn't sure about it, but I wanted to try it out. It is true that you need to rake before mowing and remove any large twigs. It worked pretty well though. I have 30 days to decide if I want to return it. But I think it might be a keeper. I put my mp3 on and listened to Owl City while I mowed. I was thinking, when you mow your parents' yard, it feels like a chore. But when you mow your yard, fix your tub faucet, save your money, it feels like you're conquering the world.

The mower is quiet so it didn't bother the neighbors. I grew up using a riding mower, so I can't really compare it to a gas push mower, but I think it required a little more physical effort. None of this "self-propelled" stuff. My yard is pretty small, so I assembled the mower and was done mowing in less than an hour. (The backyard is big, but it's shady and the grass doesn't grow much.) I think I will be pretty sore tomorrow, though. My biceps are hurting already. One thing I do know is come next spring and summer when I'm mowing more often, my arms are going to be ripped! ;)
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