Monday, March 25, 2013

Oh My God, I'm Back Again.

If you didn't immediately start humming this after reading the title,
I'm not sure we can be friends.

These last 2 weeks have been all-consuming, work-wise, and I'd like to say that I handled it with great grace and aplomb but mostly I just binge-watched It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and drank rum and diet cokes before noon. Tomato, tomahto.

Things have settled down now somewhat, which is a relief but now I've got to make some decisions about what I'm going to do for work next year. My job requires that I rotate in and out of different positions every few years and, after 2 years in my current job, I have to decide if that's enough, thankyouverymuch or whether I'll stick around another year. I'm making internal (and probably, eventually, external) pro-and-con lists because I'm honestly stumped, dudes. Making choices like this is not my strong suit - I over-analyze like mad, annoying all around me during the day and driving myself to distraction at night, letting my mind examine every possible outcome. I guess that tendency isn't exactly a fault in this case, as it's a big decision but I'm convinced that whatever choice I make, it'll be the wrong one. I'm pretty sure the repercussions of this decision will reverberate through my and TB's lives for the years to come so it's not a decision I'm taking lightly. But also? Fart jokes.

On the heels of that stress I've decided to take Thursday off in order to make the long weekend an extra long weekend, which may be one of the single greatest decisions I've ever made - up there with the time I bought a tub of cookie dough off a figure skater and my choice to slowly replace all my dress pants with elasticized leggings. 2 family dinners + waxing appointment + haircut + cleaning = needing an extra day to watch Classic Concentration episodes on YouTube and paint my nails. Priorities, people.

Now its off to bed to sleep off my yoga aches and dream about a future filled with mini eggs and matzoh balls (I am a woman of complicated tastes)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Go Time! (aka Please make it stop time)

These are the times that try men's souls.

I don't know whether it's because it's end of fiscal or whether there's some kind of freaky pheromone coursing through our veins (brains? stem cells? Not a scientitian.) that coincides with the onset of Spring or whether maybe just, maybe, the Mayans were right about the apocalypse but forgot to carry the 1 and were 3 months off but.. jeezus. Go ahead, try asking someone how they are right now. Know how they'll answer?

They won't. They'll already be dead. You'll be talking to a dead person like the ending of a particularly half-assed episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Everyone is exhausted right now. And everyone who's past exhausted is crying. And everyone who's not crying is dead. And you're TALKING TO THEM!

I'm really trying to make that spooky ending thing happen. It's not happening, I know. I'll drop it.

This has been the busiest period of my life at work, I think. It's stressful and jam-packed and sometimes people just cry and I don't even know anymore. I come home and have tacos watch bad Canadian game shows with TB and hope that it all ends. I've lined up so many things to do after this particular storm has passed that I don't even think I'll have time for them all. Some of them started out as "treats" and, after some reflection, they're more of just "personal things you should probably be doing anyway but don't have time for right now." Like, using a new shower gel or getting a massage? Treat yo' self! Getting a haircut and scheduling a bajingo wax? Less so. And lately it's just devolved into "When next week is over I'm going to treat myself to a carton of 1% milk!" or "Come Monday, I'm going to be flossing like no one's business!"

   gifs from:
Conspicuously absent?- Wash Hair!
- Organize socks into pairs!
- Find bobby pin you dropped behind the couch! 

I've clearly got a long way to go before I'm any good at this self-pampering hooey.

Honestly, just the best way I've found to get through periods like this is to try and focus on something (or things) in the future that will make you happy. And this year's got a lot of potential. I got my tickets to this in the mail today (purchased before Sewergate 2013 - sorry, not sorry?) so that's one thing. And I still plan on taking a little vacation (not the sprawling European sojourn we had planned, unfortunately, but maybe next year) sometime in August so there's that. And hopefully seeing some of my favourite people whom I love and admire and sorely miss. And frankly, at this point, just the idea of them plus future alcohol puts a smile on my face so there's always that. Always ALWAYS that.

So until then it's all just focusing on the "in", making sure it's followed shortly by an "out" and making sure all my screams are silent ones. Night, lovelies!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Eleventh Hour Warrior

Hello cyberfollowers. I hope you haven't missed my daily chatters as you read your weblogs on the Internet.

I miss the days when the internet was still new and everything flashy had to have a cyber- or e- at the beginning of it. Let's return back to the days when companies still implored you to visit them on the "world wide web", while reciting an address that always started with "aitch tee tee pee, colon, backslash backslash", shall we?

Okay, that was a distraction. Back to business.

I won't apologize for not writing here because, frankly, that's what made me start to resent my last blog. I'll just say I'm happy to have a spare moment again and I had a good little break The last week has been kind of a whirl of activity in my real life, almost all work-related, since my job involves work on Venezuela and if you follow the news it was kind of a crazy week for them, too.

I like being busy, overall. I mean, it would have been nice to have lunch before 3:30 some days, and I never like sleeping next to my Blackberry but for a few days a crazy pace makes me feel invincible - like I can do anything as long as the deadline is tight and I know basically what's expected of me. I've never started a project more than a few days before the due date since I was 8 years old, so I don't really thrive under vague deadlines or with lengthy projects. I mean, I can do them all right, but really, my best (though probably least-proofread) work is done when I've got no time at all. Give me a deadline of 30 minutes ago, and I'm happy to churn out a speech. Give me two months to write a photo caption and I'll end up drawing a cartoon in Paint.

So basically this week, while being stressful as all get out, was the time you were most likely to see me with a grin on my face as I raced through the halls with a file folder under my arm and a pen tucked behind my ear. Additionally, I've got a solid team who tells me when I'm doing good work and doesn't expect me to move mountains, especially in a reactive position such as mine and that's so important with things like this. I mean, I'll carry the world on my shoulders for ya, just don't expect me to keep it turning, too, y'know?

Things have kind of quieted down now (I had originally typed "died down" but thought better of it *collar pull*), and the project I'm left with is one I would have liked to have had done a week ago, but, well, y'know, last minute bandit at all. I hope that same power that kicked in this week will carry me through the next two - some of the most stressful of the entire year for me. Hopefully I'll still have time to "surf the web" as an "internaut" :oP <--- emoticon!

Okay, I'll stop trying to make "fetch" happen.

And, no matter your opinion of Hugo Chavez, you have to admit : he had one of the catchiest campaign songs of all time. It may or may not still be my ringtone.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Challenge #2 Wrap-Up: Frugal February

So the 28th also marked the end of Frugal February, and I have to say: I never realized how terrible I am at all of this.

I mean, my god, people -this was a struggle. And I didn't even succeed all the way!

The elephant in the room is the fact that, no matter how I spin this past month, our plumbing issues meant we still put a metric butt-tonne (real number) on the line of credit so we're in more debt than when we started. But that was largely unforeseen and sadly necessary so let's focus on what we did that we had some modicum of control over and not on what involved a beef jerky bag full of soiled toilet paper.


So let's get right to the meat of the matter: How did I do with my goals?

1.Taxis -FAIL

Let's get a big ol' pile of suck out of the way right off the top. In January I took about 12 cabs, and spent about $110. In February I took about 12 cabs and spent about $110. You can take the girl out of Spendville but you can't take the laziness out of the girl. The only two positives I can take away from this are 1) 4-5 of those cabs are in direct response to the work we had done on the house. I had to make some mad-cap bank runs, stay late at work to make up for time lost and go in late in the morning to let workmen enter. In a "normal" month, I would have done much better. 2) none of those were put on my Visa this month, which means I paid out of pocket for all of them. Small victories, people.


My goal was to use 6 coupons by the end of the month and I used 5. They were all for things I already needed: yogurt, egg whites, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and pasta. I organized the ones I had, threw out the ones I likely wouldn't use and then started bringing them to the store with me. I think I'm going to start following my sister's lead and put the few that are expiring soon in my wallet so that I don't forget about them. While I fell one short of my goal, I'm putting this in the "win" column.

3. Pretty frock purchases - NOT GREAT, BUT OKAY

The beginning of February was rife with situations in which my sister would yell "FRUGAL FEBRUARY!" at me every time I even opened up a website that had ability to sell me objects. By the end of the month, all she had to do was shake her head and frown and I'd sadly close the window and go back to playing Spider Solitaire. Eventually, I did cave a bit and bought a sweater dress, pants and 2 pair of shoes. That doesn't sound like a success but for me, it was practically a miracle. One pair of shoes were part of a one-day sale of 50% off and I'd had my eye on them for months; the others were also 50% off. The pants were an exact replacement of my favourite pair that ripped on Frugal February Day 2 and were 30% off. The dress was also 30% off and was the result of having to throw out 2 of my only casual dresses due to wear and tear (and weird ketchup stains??) and this was a direct replacement. To offset these buys I gave away 6 more items to charity and threw away 2 or 3 additional pieces that were too worn to give to anyone. Yes, I was not perfect but I was much more measured than I'd ever been.

I think shopping is kind of like fast food for me: I can avoid it okay as long as I don't start doing it. No, I make sense. Like, I haven't had McDonald's in months, but if I cave and have it even once then I know I'll basically spend the rest of the month fishing Big Mac wrappers out of the trash just to sniff them. As soon as I finished my one-day shopping spree, I definitely found myself back on shopping websites and gazing at store windows. Happy to say I didn't fall for it. It took some concentration but I think this new-found will power when it comes to spending will stick around for a bit. I made a real, concerted effort to "shop my closet" this month and I re-organized my closet by colour so now I think I can get the thrill of a new outfit without having, you know, a new outfit. Plus it made it very clear when I was "missing something" in my wardrobe (ie: casual dresses). I'm going to try and keep this up.

4. Eating Out -SUCCESS

Image courtesy of:
Totally proud of myself here. My goal was to only eat out/take in 6 times this month and I'm happy to report I stuck to those numbers. I'm choosing not to count Valentine's Day dinner (since I didn't pay for it and it was my 'gift') and the Dishcrawl, since we paid for that over a month in advance so it was well paid-off before it happened. We took in 3 times (Indian twice and pizza once) and I paid to eat out 3 times (once for coffee with a friend, once out for lunch with the sister for Galentine's, and the last day of the month to a sports bar with my family). On top of that, I also cut down my meals in the cafeteria by a big margin, going from a visit 3-4 times a week to once a week.

I'm really proud of this one because, other than taxis in the cold months, it's the hardest one to break. Eating out is easy and fun and doing it 3 times a week didn't seem like a big deal. But on top of being financially difficult to maintain, eating take out and restaurant food has.. how shall I put this delicately.. made my ass a big flabby chubbathon. I've gained a decent amount of weight since this time last year and I'm trying to put an end to that because frankly, my clothes are damn cute.

Planning our meals has been one of the best fighters against going out. It also makes me realize that when my mom got all pissy about making dinner when we were younger, it was less about the pain of making dinner and more about the agony of deciding what's for dinner. Seriously. Making decisions on the daily is for the birds. We've utilized my slow cooker a lot, and made beef pot pie, ribs, sweet potato soup, and homemade spaghetti sauce. All awesome. We're going to keep up the menu planning beyond Frugal February as it totally works for us and has kept our grocery excursions short which is a blessing for two people with short attention spans and an aversion to crowds. This also works out well for the college students in line ahead of us buying 30 cans of beans because a happy us means we're less likely to trip them accidentally-on-purpose.

5. No "Lazy" Fines - MODERATE SUCCESS

Lazy fines was all about curbing the user fees, late fees and any other little charges one accrues for being a lazy butt. I was good about some, but bad about others. I decided not to take out library books since I had books here I still have to read. I took out money twice from the machines at work but since my bank account allows for up to 2 free withdrawals a month that wasn't too bad. I'm going to count the annoying $1.50 that gets added on every time I paid for a cab with debit so that was a bit of an annoyance. But overall, nothing too aggravating and I became aware of where I was spending those little chunks of change.

General Successes:

Put $400 in my savings account
Put $400 on my credit card
6 "no spend" days.

General Failures:
See aforementioned pipe issues *grumble*
I stopped writing down what I was spending - and that made things harder to keep track of
22 "livin' like a Rockefeller days" ;)

So, TL;DR? I think Frugal February was a good idea and I'm glad I participated. I'm happy to try and incorporate these changes into my daily life and I'm even going to try to amp it up a bit later on... Broke-tober anyone?