Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

I had a busy weekend. Saturday I barely had time to breathe. I went to the gym, tanning bed (I know it’s terrible but I have to get in a bathing suit in 2 weeks and I need some color!), grocery store, Target, a baby shower (the baby is already here! He was born 11 weeks early and is still in the hospital but doing well), dinner with friends, a birthday party, and saw a little bit of one of my favorite local bands. Sunday was a BEAUTIFUL day but unfortunately I drank too much on Saturday night and spent most of the day recovering from that. I did get to have dinner with two friends I haven’t seen in a while and it was so nice to catch up with them!

But back to Saturday…Every time I drink too much lately I wake up so mad at myself. I am old. I cannot drink like I used to. Saturday night I had no plans to get drunk. I didn’t drink at dinner. When I got to the first bar for the birthday celebration I got a small vodka cranberry and then drank water. But then we went to more of a club type of bar. Upscale, but they were playing booty shakin music. I got a glass of wine. Then they talked me in to taking a tequila shot. But I had finished my wine and needed a chaser so I got another glass of wine. I left to go back to the bar where the friends who I had rode with were shortly after the shot and we still had 30 minutes so I ordered a beer. By the time we left all of that alcohol hit me hard. My friend ended up having to drive me home so the next day I didn’t have my car to go to church and I felt like crap all day long. It is so not worth it. I’m thinking about giving up drinking all together because obviously I still do not know my limits after over 10 years of practice!

Saturday night, while I was at the birthday party, my friends were around the corner in a bar to see a band we go see every once in a while. Our friend’s husband plays in the band. I’ve seen them quite a few times and I’ve developed a crush on one of the guys in the band. I love crushes. They make you all giddy and make you smile just thinking about the object of your admiration. I was only at the bar the band played at for 30 minutes at the end of the night. But I got to admire him from a table right up front and he came up to show us how he hurt his fingers playing that night after the show. I managed to stammer out “that sucks but you sounded really good tonight.” I think that’s the first time I have ever spoken directly to him. I was proud of myself. He is so cute. But my friend doesn’t think he is a good potential. Every guy I seem to get a crush on, my friends always seem to have a different opinion on them. Apparently I have horrible tastes.

Sunday I had dinner with some friends. One of them just discovered the guy she was dating and talking marriage with is apparently a sociopath. I won’t go into all the details, but it was bad. This is the second friend I have had that has dated a full-on crazy jerk within the past 2 years. These guys weren’t you’re your normal jerk of a boyfriend, they were full on crazy mind-controlling, lying, cheating scoundrels that managed to fool and worm their way into the hearts of two very smart friends. That alone makes me even more scared than ever to get in another relationship. I have too many scars on my heart to let anyone in. I’m exhausted and even though I would love to find “The One” and for all of this be over, I am not in the mindset to date at all. I don’t know if I will ever get back there.

Now back to my crazy work week and lots to do…but next week I’m leaving for the annual Crew Ski Trip! I’m so excited to get a break and get away for a while!!! Only 9 more days!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fill in the blank Friday!


Time for another Fill in the Blank Friday hosted by the lovely Lauren!

1. If my house was on fire and I could only grab 3 things I would grab Cam, Bailey, and my purse.

2. A smell I really like is a freshly showered clean guy.  I just love that clean/fresh guy smell but I haven’t smelled one in a long time unfortunately.

3. Something you might not know about me is that I’m a great aunt.  I have 2 much much older half-brothers (they were in college before I was born and I really never saw them much, so I would still say I’m an only child.)  Anyway…I have three half-nieces that are pretty much my age (one is only 9 months younger than me.)  One of them had a little boy last year so now that makes me a great aunt.  As if I didn’t feel old enough already!

4. Some of my favorite websites to putter about on are Google Reader.  That’s about all I have time for.

5. This weekend I will be going to a baby shower, heading downtown for a birthday party, and having a dinner reunion with some of the girls I went to Dubai with. 

6. Nothing makes me happier than having no red lights when I am running late (which is constantly).

7. A bad habit I have is staying up too late.  I have insomnia but I also don’t get in bed and stay there when I should (which should probably be by 10pm but ends up being midnight or 1 am.)

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Have you read the Hunger Games trilogy?

I finally caught up on my Bookshelf Blog.  I was so busy with Christmas and then so consumed with the Hunger Games I really didn't come up for air until now.  Here are the books I reviewed:





Have you read the Hunger Games trilogy?  Please tell me what you thought!  Go read my reviews to see how crazy I was for these books.  Were you as obsessed as I was?

If you haven't read them, go get them now.  They are sooo good!

In two weeks I am going on a ski trip and I am hoping to have some relaxing reading time.  Any suggestions on what I should take?

Things I'm loving Thursday

 
I finished the Huger Games series in aprox. 1 week. I LOVED it! I am recommending it to everyone I know. I hope to get full reviews posted on my bookshelf blog soon. I am seriously head over heels for these books and cannot wait for the movie. I like it even better than Twilight and it might even beat Harry Potter for me too!  Young Adult books rock my socks off sometimes :)



I always thought this stuff looked nasty, but a friend told me to try it. OMG it tastes like the inside of a truffle! I love it and have been having a little smear on a marshmallow or a graham cracker after dinner every night. I really don’t think it is very healthy, but it’s oh so yummy!



I don’t know why but I am in a Fresca phase right now. It’s so refreshing and won’t keep me up all night.


This recipe I found for mini-pot pies in a jar over on A Whisk and A Prayer. I almost broke out into a cold sweat this week at the mention of preparing meals for a girl in our Bible study who is having surgery. I barely have time or skill enough to cook for myself let alone someone else! But these little things look like they would be the perfect solution. And you could even make them as gifts for people! It’s such a good idea! I almost didn’t want to share it.  It is just so stinking cute I wanted to make it my own little secret!


Also loving this blog that I discovered through Jamie’s blog:
bowneyedbaker
Tons of yummy looking recipes.  I had to stop looking at it actually because it was making me very hungry.  She even has her own list! 100 challenging recipes to make

Finally...no picture to go with this one...

Re-doing my house. I am obsessed. I have this app on my phone called CraigsPro and I look at the furniture for sale by owner almost every single day! I have also been discovering and reading a lot of Home DYI/Decorating blogs. Just today I found a lot of new ones to follow through Thrifty D├ęcor Chick’s “Showing Off” series. I have no money and can’t buy anything right now, but I am determined to make my house what I want, or at least something close.

What are you loving right now???

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Car Trouble

This might be long…

I hate car maintenance.  I know nothing about cars and I am really bad about making sure my car has regular oil changes and whatever else it needs.  I just want my car to be reliable and never have to worry about all those working parts.  

I’ve called AAA more than a few times- twice for a dead battery and twice for flat tires.  Both of my previous cars I wore holes in the tires.  Drove them so much and never looked at the tires until I ended up with a huge gaping hole in my tire.  Yeah, I suck.

For the past few weeks my car has been giving me a warning light that says “Coolant low”.  My thought process was “It’s winter.  It’s freezing.  Why would I need coolant?”  So I ignored it.

Sunday I was at Target getting toilet paper and groceries.  When I went back out to my car, it wouldn’t start.  I tried 5 times and the engine did absolutely nothing.  No noise- just the click of the key turning and the radio coming on.  I wanted to cry.  I don’t have AAA anymore.  I called my friend and asked if she had jumper cables.  She said no but she was on her way and to go in Target and buy some jumper cables.  I did, but then I remembered my uncle had bought me a car emergency kit that I had stored  in my trunk.  I checked, and there were jumper cables in there, so I was able to return the ones I bought.

When my friend got there, the car started for her without us having to use the cables.  But it started making a horrible chemical smell.  I told her about the coolant light and she told me my theory on coolant was completely wrong and I should not have ignored the light.  She said I should take it somewhere now because I most likely had a dead battery too.   

My regular shop was closed so we took it to the closest one.  They checked the coolant and it wasn’t that low.  But then they told me I needed new tires on the front.  I did.  There was hardly any tread left.  I told you about my problem wearing holes in tires.  So I agreed to get 2 new front tires.  Cost= about $450. And they would top off the coolant for free.  Wonderful. 

About 2 hours later they called and said there was a major problem.  My brakes were pretty much metal on metal apparently.  I not only need break pads but I also had to replace the rotors because they were too bad to resurface.  He told me it would be close to $900 more.  

What could I do??  I didn’t want my brakes to fail me.  So approximately 6 hours after dropping off my car I handed over my credit card to pay the $1250 bill. (He got it down $100 from the original estimate).
But it kept nagging at me that they didn’t fix the original problem that my car wouldn’t start and that horrible smell.  And how could my regular car place not have told me about the tires or brakes?  It was just in there for an inspection in December!

So I called and told them the situation.  They said all they could do was check to make sure the work they said they did was done and the reason they wouldn’t have seen that is because the NC inspection is not very thorough and it is mainly just to check your emissions level.   

I took the car in the morning and told them about a new knocking noise I noticed on the front driver’s side last night.  Three hours later I find out I do indeed need a new battery and they want to rotate the tires because the place I took it to on Sunday put the two new good tires on the back and put the old bad tires on the front which is apparently not good.  I told them my sob story and they said they would do the tire rotation for free.  But the battery, electrical test, and labor still cost me another $200.

So in the past 3 days I spent almost $1500 on my car!  $1500 that I do not have.  Now I am trying to figure out how I can pay this off before interest gets out of control.  Any money I had saved for my house is now gone.  I have no idea how I am going to afford Jamaica for one of my best friend’s wedding this summer.  I freaking hate money.  

And I still worry that I was just taken for all I was worth because I know nothing about cars.

I hope my future husband is good with cars.

Lesson Learned: Start a car maintenance savings fund.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Highlight and Lowlight this week

My highlight this week was going to see The Lion King at the Durham Performing Arts Center.  It was fabulous!  We had the best seats! 


The show was amazing.  The best part is the costumes and props.  They were so amazing!  I felt like a kid watching this one and was just in awe.  The characters even come out into the aisles at some points and were literally standing right beside me! It looked like a really fun show to be in because of those unbelievable costumes!

My low light of the week was my Homeowners Association removing the trees from in front of my house.  They sent out a letter about it last month saying the roots of the trees were eventually going to mess up the sidewalk.  And that they were going to replace them with mulch.  It didn't sound too bad in the letter, but on Wednesday I noticed they did the street before mine and it looked awful!  So empty!  So when I left for work on Thursday I took this picture:



When I came home from work they not only had removed the one tree I thought they would but BOTH trees from my front yard.  I wanted to cry.  It looks so empty and like one of those brand new neighborhoods that has no life in it.  Not my cozy little townhome.  This is what it looks like today:



And just for the full effect of what it looks like with no trees, here is the view across the street:



Maybe I am overreacting but I HATE it.  Those trees made such a difference that I never even noticed until they were gone.  Whoever made this decision needs to be fired.  Immediately.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Forget the clothes, I want furniture

I have been on this kick wanting to do 5 million things to my house.  Yesterday I fell in love with the wall o' bookcases over on Domestic Goddess and asked her where she got them.  She said she got them at Ballard Designs to check out their stuff.  I am craving so many things from there now! 

Here are just a few:









I have been walking around my house making mental notes of all the things I want to do in my house.  I want to get hardwoods throughout the downstairs.  I want to re-paint everything.  I want to make some updates in the kitchen.  I want to make some valances.  I want to make the office/home gym/guest room something I actually like.  I spent an hour in there just looking around making mental notes and trying to envision things.

But re-doing your house is EXPENSIVE!  First I was trying to save $2,000 to do what I wanted to do.  Then I bumped it up to $5,000.  But now I don't know if that will even do it.  I want a home I love.  I don't want to keep waiting on my husband to show up to finally be able to create something permanent.  I want to buy expensive, sturdy furniture.  Not something that will fall apart in a year.  I am tired of temporary living or thinking "this will do for now".  I'm tired of hand me down mis-matched dishes and a monster of a TV that is almost 20 years old.  I'm tired of waiting for that perfect little family to finally be able to create my HOME. 

But unfortunately that is very difficult to do on a single income.  I'm trying not to keep using that as an excuse.  But really it's not my dream home.  It's a townhouse.  It has no garage.  No yard for Cam to play in.  No rocking chair front porch.  And it never will.  And I can't afford to move.  So should I just deal with it for now and keep waiting?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Year of Cooking- Weeks 1 & 2

This year one of my new year’s resolutions was to cook at home more.  I want to try at least one new recipe a week.  And I’m always hoping it will be good because when you cook for one, you are going to be eating leftovers for a few days.  Starting out I am really trying to keep it simple.

Week One I went for something that sounded a little weird but super easy.  It turned out to be really good!  It will be one of my go-to recipes from now on.

Tasty Cola Chicken

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
1 cup ketchup (I used the reduced sugar kind)
1 can diet soda (I used Coke Zero)
--------------------------------------------------------
Directions:
1. Put chicken in non-stick skillet
2. Pour ketchup and diet cola over the top
3. Bring to boil
4. Cover, reduce heat and cook for 45 minutes
5. Uncover, turn up the heat and continue to cook until the sauce becomes thick and adheres to the chicken

Week Two sounded really yummy and really easy too.  But I was disappointed with this one.  It was way too spicy for me (even after I tried to cool it down with some ranch the second time I ate it).  I like spicy, but I guess this proved I am kind of a wimp.

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken wraps
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
12 ounces of bottled buffalo wing sauce (I used Franks Red Hot)
1/2 of a package of dry ranch salad dressing mix
1 tablespoons butter
------------------
Extras:
tortillas
shredded lettuce
ranch dressing
shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
------------------
Place the chicken breasts into a slow cooker and pour in the wing sauce and the ranch dressing mix. Cover, and cook on Low for 5-6 hours (or more or less depending on how hot your crock gets).
Once the chicken has cooked, add the butter, and shred the meat finely with two forks. Return to crock for about 10 minutes to mix 'n mingle.

Scoop chicken onto tortillas, and add any extras.

Going forward I’ll try to take some pics and do something a little more challenging!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Speed Dating Disater

Saturday night I went with a group of friends from work (including my boss) and one of my BFFs to a speed dating event. I can’t believe I got talked into it in the first place but put on top of that the fact that I had a really bad cold and I got talked in to sneaking in to the older age group- it was a recipe for disaster.
What had happened was…a few weeks ago at one of the regular Thursday Night Happy Hours, my boss suggested that us single ladies go speed dating (we also had some married ladies come along to watch our torture). I’ve given up on dating right now (unless Ryan Reynolds calls to ask me out) but I figured it would be funny and a good bonding time with my co-workers and boss. I was not expecting to meet anyone (even though I might have had a tiny hope my future husband just might be there). Good thing I had low expectations.

We had a wide range of ages in our work crew (late 20s-late 30s/early 40s?) and they only had two age range options: 23-37 or 32-47. Neither of these options were appealing to me. I don’t want to date a 23 year old just getting out of college and figuring themselves out, but I don’t want to date someone in their 40s with grown children either. I know they say age is just a number, but you really do have more in common with someone in your same stage of life. So out of the two we decided to go with the older age range and they were ok with us younger ones coming along even though we were under 32. Big mistake. Most every guy there looked like they were over 40 and some of them might have been over 50. There were a few guys who might have been in their mid 30s, but they were not anyone I would want to date.

The way they had it set up was each girl sat at a numbered table and the guys rotated tables ever 3.5 minutes. There were about 25 guys and 25 girls there. We only got one five minute break. So it was an hour and a half of non-stop talking. Put on top of that the fact that I was really sick and had almost no voice. I wanted to die. It was exhausting and needless to say I marked no to every guy I met which earned me a free pass to go to another event (oh joy).

We had no idea what to expect, but it was what you would expect if you really thought about it. Most of the girls I saw were pretty attractive but the dudes…um no. There were about 2 handsome ones but even they seemed creepy and I know for a fact one of them was 40. Most of the guys worked in IT and had cheesy lines and not much of a life. About 5 of the guys were ok and normal, but no one I would want to date.
Here are some lowlights from the night: I asked one guy what he liked to do in his free time and he said “smoke pot” and he was totally serious. Another probably lived with his mom. Another asked me what my deal breakers were as soon as he walked up to the table. Another one told me his 16 year old daughter had signed him up for this. Another guy told me he hadn’t worked in the last two years and another one just sat there and with a huge creepy smile and answered my questions in barely a whisper of a voice. I think he probably had some kind of mental disability.

By the end of the night I was soooo exhausted, fully creeped out, and had no voice. But we got some good laughs out of it, so I guess it wasn’t a complete waste. But yeah, in case you were ever wondering about speed dating, this girl gives it two thumbs down.

Have you ever tried speed dating?

In honor of MLK day...

my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quote:

"To take the first step in faith, you don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."

And yes I am jealous of all of you who have the day off!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

#3- Get a job I love

Despite my complaining about winter and the need for a home office, if you have been reading for the last couple months you might be able to tell I have found a job I love. (You can read about some of my Career Girl related posts here.) I was hesitant to say I loved the job because you have to get to know the job a little before you can tell if it is love.

You know how people are always saying to find your passion and then find a way to make it your job and then life will be great and it will never feel like you are at work?  I think that is a lie for 90% of the population.  Because everything has a downside.  I love traveling, but if I had a job that was nothing but travel I would hate it.  I would feel like I had no home and would never be able to get into a comfortable routine or schedule.  I love books, but if I was an editor I would hate when I let mistakes slip through, if I was a writer I would get writers block and I would hate when people criticize what I write, and if I worked at Barnes and Noble I am sure I would get frustrated with demanding customers sometimes.  You are not going to love everything all the time.  So don't keep looking for that perfect job where you are just happy all the time.  But it is possible to find a job you love and a place you enjoying going most everyday.

Why do I love my job?

My boss- this can make or break a job.  I have worked for male bosses and female bosses.  I have worked for old bosses and young bosses.  I have worked for micro-managers and non-managing bosses.  None of that matters.  What does matter is that you have a boss that cares.  Every good boss I have had cares about the team.  They put effort and energy into building the team.  Every good boss I have had cares about my future.  Every good boss I have had has been open and honest.  Every good boss I have had is smart and easy to look up to.  My current boss fits all of these and is just great to work for.

My team- This is the most team oriented environment I have ever worked in.  It has to be.  We build and maintain a huge website and you have to have a lot of people working together to make that happen.  We have Happy Hours every Thursday and while I can't go often, I do go when I can.  We went paintballing together.  I am going speed dating with my boss and some other co-workers on Saturday.  We have monthly birthday celebrations and big events like Casino Night or the Comedy Night.  They even rented out this new upscale bowling alley for our Christmas celebration.  Not just a private room, the whole thing- they shut down to the public and we had the whole place to ourselves with free food and an open bar.  All these events lead to a great team atmosphere.  We have our core smaller team but are also connected to the other teams in our organization through these events and it really does make a huge difference.

Recognition- I have only been in this position 8 months but in that time I have received a Peer Recognition award, been invited to a fancy celebration dinner, and got two small financial "bonuses" for my work.  I have worked my butt off and have been especially stressed over the last 3 months, but these bits of recognition help so much.  Even just an encouraging email recognizing the effort you put in to something (which I get now and then) is so rewarding and just what you need to keep going when you are stressed to the max.

There is always something to do and I enjoy what I do- Some positions can get boring.  You are given work that you can finish in 3 hours but you find a way to make it last 8.  You are given no direction.  You never see the things you worked on implemented.  You feel like some things are just busy work.  It can get frustrating.  In this position what I do matters (almost too much) and if I don't get it done it is not ok. Now I don't jump up and down and say "Yay I get to make this awesome spreadsheet today!" But I always feel challenged and use my brain everyday and I love that.  The only downside I've discovered is the feeling that I am never caught up!  I hate that part, but my boss tells me I just have to let that go and it's ok because everyone feels that way.

I am good at what I do- Even though I am still in the learning stages on some things, this position is a good fit for me.  I get to use my creativity.  I am working on web functionality, design and navigation and making sure we have the content a customer is looking for. I am developing more efficient processes and procedures.  I get to use my analytical, problem solving and creative skills in this role and I love it!

Flexible Work Schedules- We are able to work from home if we need to.  We don't have to be there at a certain time each morning.  We don't clock in and clock out or even really watch the clock at all (except to make sure we are in the right meeting room at the right time).  We don't have to ask to go to lunch or if we can work though lunch.  We just work when we work best and where we work best.  There is so much work to be done and so many meetings it would be impossible to take advantage of this situation.  If you were not working, I think it would be noticed fairly quickly.  But I love the trust that this setup implies!

The Company-  I'm not going to try to hide who I work for because it would be pretty easy for an internet sleuth to figure it out.  I'm not ashamed of anything I write on here about my work and I love the products!  If you didn't know, I work for Lenovo.  They are a Chinese computer manufacturer.  They make the ThinkPad and IdeaPad branded computers.  It is a very modern company and our offices reflect that.  I LOVE my ThinkPad X301 laptop I use for work.  It is so light and speedy and easy to use.  I never even would have considered this brand before I had this computer, but now I am in love.  When it comes time for a new computer I will most likely get a Lenovo.  It just feels good working for a good company whose products you can get behind.

So tell me...do you love your job?  What makes you love or not love your job?  What's important to you?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Working from Home

We got an ice storm last night.  I am so over winter.  Snow is pretty when it is falling and if you don't have to go anywhere, but I am over it now.  I live in the South and we never get this much winter weather and I like it that way.  I hope Old Man Winter has it all out of his system now and maybe even lets us get an early spring.  In my opinion, if it weren't for Christmas, winter should be fired due to it's lack of sunshine, cold weather, and ice storms.

But even though it was icy, I didn't get to enjoy a snow day of doing nothing.  I worked from home.  I'm not complaining because it is better than having to go in to the office, but I don't love working from home like some people might.

Here is where I work when I do work from home:






or here:





which would be ok if it weren't for this:


Cam trying to get in my lap




Cam succeeding to get on my lap and me trying to work on top of him.



Cam  after I kick him off my lap 5 minutes later. pouting.

We repeat this whole routine like once an hour.  I get so mad at him!  He has jumped up on the arm or the chair for attention so many times he made a hole in the slipcover!  I wanted to kill him.  I love him but he does not understand the concept that mommy is working when I am in the living room where we usually spend time relaxing.  

I guess I could work at the dining room table, but I don't.

This is why I need a home office.  I need to turn my spare room in to a place where I can work.  I wanted to set it up as an office/workout room/maybe spare bedroom, but it is not working.  I hate this room so I never go in there.  I use the desk as counter space to store all the stuff I need to go through and file or throw away.  It is a mess.  It is a wobbly cheap desk I bought from Target- one of those that comes in a box and you put it together.  I don't know if I just did not put it together correctly or what but the screws always come lose and the whole thing starts to wobble.  Look at this pathetic mess:

And yes that is a litter box under my desk.  My attempt at hiding it.

Another big eyesore in this room is my treadmill.  It is huge.  But I want the option of being able to work out at home.  I would love to get on the treadmill and watch the TV shows I am discovering through Netflix while I run.  I just bought a small DVD player in hopes of doing this but have yet to set it up because I am just not loving what I have to work with which is a teeny tiny TV on a wobbly tiny stand in a room I hate with an overflowing attempt at a storage area staring me in the face.




I need to re-do this whole room and make it more inviting and a place that I want to go to get things done and be productive- on my treadmill or at my desk.  I would also love to have some type of sleeping option in here for guests.  I think there is room.  Here is the rest of the room:


I have no idea where to even start!  Any suggestions?  How do you make a room an inviting place?

Feeding my blog addiction and great giveaways!

I have been blogging for a few years now.  Over the years it has grown into an addiction.  I have 148 blogs I am subscribed to and I almost always read every.single.post.in.there.  It can get overwhelming because I am just so darn busy now, I don't have time to read blogs like I used to.  But the sad thing is I am always on the lookout for more interesting ones to follow.  It's an addiction I tell ya.

Here are two that I just started following today that happen to have awesome giveaways:

Slumber Designs- Jen was kind enough to leave me a comment to check out her giveaway! She is giving away a $75 EmersonMade gift certificate (their stuff is beautiful!)  Plus she has this great Location Central thing that helped me discover some more great local bloggers!


Jenn's Journey- she is giving away some awesome Bath and Body Works goodies and a Starbucks gift card

And a shout-out to Ashton @ Soulshine for helping me discover that second one on her blog today!


I also got a Blog Award from Stephanie @ The Odd Duck (THANK YOU!!)


Rules:
1) Thank & Link back to the person who gave you the award
2) Answer 10 questions
3) Pass it along to 7 blogs you've recently discovered and enjoy
4) Leave your recipients a note, telling them about the award.

Questions:

1. Why did you create this blog?
To document marking off the things on my 30 Before 30 list, but it's turned in to so much more!

2. What kind of blogs do you follow?
Mostly personal blogs, but some fashion blogs, DIY home decorating type of blogs, Christian blogs and some cooking blogs.  I also follow some funny blogs like People of Wal-Mart and Lamebook.  I even have a wedding blog in my reader (a girl can dream right?)

3. Favorite Make-Up Brand?
Benefit

4. Favorite Clothing Brand?
I don't really have one

5. Indispensable Make-Up Product?
I have to agree with Stephanie and say mascara

6. Favorite Color?
It might be yellow...I used to say pink, but I am drawn to yellow lately.

7. Favorite Perfume?
Escada

8. Favorite Film?
Film as in movie?  Hope Floats

9. What country would you like to visit and why?
Tahiti- I want to stay in one of those over the water bungalows

10. Would you rather forget to put on mascara on one eye or forget blush on one side of your face?
um neither

I am breaking the last 2 rules since I have already linked to some of my favorite new blog finds above and really I love so many blogs it is too hard to pick.  Of course my favorite blogs are the ones of my readers so this award is for you!  Feel free to grab it and participate!

(I even made a special folder for my readers and I make sure to read those first.  But if you have never commented on here before or haven't in a while, I may not know about your blog!  So please come out and say hi so I can check out your blog too!)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Better than an iPad?

So I admit I have Apple envy sometimes.  They are great marketers and the products I have tried from them (iPod nano & shuffle and the iPhone) are great.  And right now I am thinking about getting an Apple TV because I seriously want to be free from cable/satellite eventually.  (you should look into it...it's a pretty cool little thing and not too terribly expensive.)

But back to the topic...the iPad.  At first I was like "why would I want an iPad when I can do everything on my phone that I could do on that?  Plus it won't fit into my purse."  But as more and more people get one, I kind of want one.  I could use it like an eReader which would be nice and it would be less bulky than taking my laptop sometimes. 

But now I am really craving this thing:



I may be totally biased because I work for Lenovo, but how cool is this- The U1 Hybrid with the LePad is like a laptop and an iPad in one.  When the LePad is plugged in to the base it is a fully functioning Windows 7 laptop. But wait...with just the push a switch, the screen detaches and becomes an Android tablet.  I so want to see this in person before I decide.  And as of right now it is only available in China.  But it seriously looks so cool.

Here's a video that shows how it works:

And P.S. why do they had to name these things blah-blah "Pad"?  It makes it sound like a feminine product.  I much prefer the term "slate". 

P.P.S.  No one paid me to write any of this stuff.  Well unless you count my normal paycheck from Lenovo, but they don't pay me to write reviews of their stuff.  It's just my personal opinion and thought I would share!

P.P.P.S. No one paid me to write that review about Yogurt Mountain yesterday either...but if they find it and want to give me some free yogurt or something I would sure love it because in case you couldn't tell I love that place!

P.P.P.P.S.  How do you get paid to write reviews anyway? 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I found heaven on Yogurt Mountain!

Over the Holidays I discovered heaven.  I stumbled upon this new frozen yogurt place and it is seriously the best frozen goodness I have ever had!  Better than a Chic-fil-a Cookies n Cream milkshake.  Better than Goodberrys frozen custard.  Better than a Cold Stone Gotta Have It.

Ladies and gents...let me introduce you to Yogurt Mountain (que the "welcome to heaven" music)


I had never heard of this place and didn't know what to expect inside, but it seemed to be busy and inviting so I decided to check it out.

Inside are all these frozen yogurt machines.  Each machine has 2 flavors and a "swirl" option in the middle.  The flavors and the nutrition info are posted right by each machine.  They have I think 16 flavor options and they all sounded awesome!  And they are all either fat free or low fat!!!



Here are the two flavors I picked:




You just grab your own bowl and fill it with whatever frozen goodness you want!  I filled one side of my bowl with the Cake Batter and the other side with the Spiced Apple Pie because I was indecisive and wanted a little taste of both!

Then you move on to the toppings bar where you can add just about any topping imagineable!  I added chocolate covered waffle cone bits to my FAT FREE Cake Batter side and hot caramel to my LOW FAT Spiced Apple Pie side.  Or you can just leave it plain because trust me, the yogurt is so good you don't really need any toppings to make it delicious!

Then you just take your bowl to the cashier and put it on the scale and they charge you 48 cents/ounce.  It wasn't bad at all!  Mine was around $3.

Good thing this place isn't on my way home from work because I might be stopping for a little treat everyday!  If you are in Raleigh, this location is right off Creedmoor Rd. beside the new Five Guys (near the intersection with Strickland Rd.).  If you are not in Raleigh, go here to see if there is one near you and go NOW!  You will love it!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm in the stock market game...kind of

I need to catch up on my List progress.  I've marked a few things off over the last couple months, I just haven't had time to document them.  I hope to catch up with that this week.

Today let's talk about money...


#25- Invest in the Stock Market

When I first put “Invest in the stock market” on my list, I had visions of trading stocks and buying little pieces of companies I loved and believed in.  But I needed to start with my retirement fund.  After talking to a financial planner I realized I needed to get my Roth IRA fully-funded before I start “playing around” in the stock market.

First I converted the money I had rolled over into a traditional IRA from all my previous 401K plans into a Roth IRA account.  Why did I convert it to a Roth account?  I didn’t have too much in there so paying the taxes on the conversion wouldn’t be a huge deal.  (With Roth IRAs, you pay the taxes up front so that when you withdraw funds in retirement, they are tax free.  And your money also grows tax free in that account.  With traditional IRA accounts or 401ks you will have to pay the taxes on the money you invest when you take it out during retirement.  Sure you get the tax free benefits up front, but Uncle Sam will get his money later when you are probably in an even higher tax bracket.  But with the Roth you pay the taxes up front (when you are younger and in a lower tax bracket).  

The maximum you could contribute for 2010 was $5000.  I only contributed $1000 in addition to what I rolled over in to that account, but that money has made almost $800 in interest so far.  This year I will probably only contribute $3000 but I hope to get up to contributing the full $5000 maximum soon.  

And hopefully when I get hired on instead of just being a contractor then I will also be able to contribute to a 401K plan as well.  Once I get to a level where I can live comfortably while contributing the max to my Roth IRA, my 401K, and have 6 months worth of salary in savings, then I can play around in the stock market.
For now I think I will stick to smart investing for my future before I start to play around with my money.

But that Roth IRA money is invested in some stocks so I am in the stock market game...kind of!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year Goals

I don't do resolutions.  I am not a all or nothing kind of girl.  But I do like to make some goals.  One of the blogs I read had this concept of start something, stop something, and keep something for 2011.  Here are mine:

Start:

Getting to work by 9 am. My job is really flexible and some mornings I don’t get to work until 9:30 or almost 10 am. It’s not an issue for anyone but me because it just means I get a craptacular parking spot and have to stay until 7 pm. This year I want to try to get to work by 9 am or earlier every day.

Cooking more. If I want to have a big family one day I am going to have to have some more recipes in my collection that I have actually made before. I know how to cook. Whenever I do make something it almost always turns out yummy. I just rarely make something more than once and it is almost always only for a big occasion. I am going to try to cook at least one new recipe a week this year.

Wearing Make-up every day. I think my days of rolling out of the house make-up free are gone. I am 30 now and I need to look like an adult woman instead of a 12 year old girl. Plus I need to put my best face forward all the time because you never know when I will bump in to Mr. Right.

Stop:

Neglecting my house. I am going to try to keep my house clean and stop putting off those little things I need to do. I am saving up for a downstairs re-do that should include hardwood floors, paint, new kitchen hardware and faucet, and new lighting.

Drinking like I am in college. I don’t drink that often, but when I do, I go all out like I am a college student on Spring Break. No more. It is not worth it. It is not worth the calories. Not worth the hang-over the next day. And not worth the stories people have to tell of all the stupid things you did/said the next day.

Smoking. Yes I have a dirty little secret and it is that I smoke. I don’t smoke much, only about 3-5 cigarettes at night when I get home from work/before bed. But I am going to quit. I know I can do it because I quit smoking for almost 2 weeks when I went to Dubai last summer. And a lot of people in my life have never even seen me with a cigarette. I just need to stop the night smoking.  It is embarrassing. I hate everything about it and I am finally going to give up those after-work and before-bed cigarettes for good.

Keep:

Growing my faith. I love my relationship with God. I actually love going to church on Sundays and love doing my Bible studies. I love doing things for God that I never thought I would do like getting dunked in a tank of water in front of a bunch of people, going to a Middle Eastern Country, and praying out loud. I love discovering things about myself and about Him through this relationship and I want it to grow even deeper this year.

My Friends. I have this group of friends who is like family to me. We don’t get to see each other as much as we used to because being a grown-up makes everyone so busy, but I love them to pieces. I hate that I am always like the 5th or 7th or 13th etc. wheel because almost every single one of them is married to each other now, but it’s ok. I keep hoping one day I will have a guy that I love that fits right in and becomes one of us. Ski Trip ’11 is coming up in a few weeks. There are 32 of us going I think…This is an annual trip and it has grown from 16 of us sharing a 3 bedroom house to 32 of us in a 4 story mansion! Hopefully there will be many more crew stories to tell from 2011.

Running. I ran (the whole thing!) a 5K a few weeks ago. I loved doing the couch to 5K program and I think I am going to do it again- this time working on speed and run another 5K this spring. Then I hope to do an 8K or 10K (or both) and then a half marathon. I have no desire to do a full marathon. That is just too much for me. But maybe after training for all these races I will actually become a runner. If not, oh well at least I can say I did it.

What things are you going to start, stop, or keep in 2011??