Saturday, August 29, 2009

Work Updates

I need to talk to you about committment.....This was the message left on my answering machine by my weekend boss. I know EXACTLY what he is talking about.  The person who I replaced who came back to work in the Spring is going to be unable to work for about 4-5 months because of impending surgery.  She mentioned this to a couple people but never really spoke to the boss about her upcoming surgery that her doctor wanted her to have 3 months ago. 

This is the co-worker who is not adapt at communicating about shift coverage, but boy did she talk my ear off the last weekend I worked.  Like talked to me for a couple hours.  She had a lot to get off her chest and into my ear. Most of it I had already heard through the grapevine and some of it was just chatting. But she did tell me that come the middle of October, she was going to have to go in for surgery and then not be able to work for at least 4 months, depending on her recovery time.  She had not spoken to our boss about this, but I know he "knew" about it. She just had not told him face to face.  I told her that she really had to speak to our boss and let him know.  He travels out of area for most of October and November and the last thing he needs to worry about is finding and training new help.

The message I got from my boss was that he needed to talk to me about "committment" which I am translating as "I need to know if you can go back and work your old shift of every weekend until your co-worker can come back". 

He knows that I've been using my  non working weekends to do "things", work around the house, socialization, volunteer work, etc. He probably thinks that I may not be willing or able to work every weekend again.  He's partially correct. I will come back and work since my weekday job is still not going back to full time hours, I most definatly can use the money (gutters, redo the bathroom, life expenses). I will tell him that I will have to schedule some time off so I can stay "fresh" and get done some of the chores around the house that take longer than 30 minutes of my time.  I think he will go for it. Now to just actually catch up with him and have this conversation!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Purge Continues.......

I really have no idea how I manage to cram so much "stuff" into my very small house. I do know, actually, I just pile things on any horizontal surface until I can't take it anymore. Then it gets moved.  These past few months I've been on a possession purge. I've listed items on Craigslist, Freecycle, hobby specific group lists,, e-bay and if I can't sell it, I donate it.  I have ready to be donated to a local charity for ther annual tag sale, the old AIO that I could not get to work with my new laptop, my old color inkjet printer that works, but never really printed very well, an old 24" TV with remote that needs a converter box (some one gave this to me and I just don't have the room for an additional TV), a surround sound system that needs all new speaker wires, and a piece of furniture that I hate that never made it to the last charity tag sale. This local group will pick up items and they will be driving by on Friday AM to make this pick up. I also took to the dump an old disgusting IKEA rug, a damaged wicker bathroom shelf, and two cracked plastic bins. I sold a bunch of hobby equipment and am in the midst of scanning in my old paper files to the lap top and then onto the external hard drive. 

This goes part in parcel with the clutter clean out I did a couple months ago where I purged a bunch of old clothes that no longer fit (goodwill, consignment and trash), got rid of some extra kitchen items (which in hindsight I could have taken to my weekend job house-oh well), and in general just purged a bunch of knick knacks and junk.

Sounds like a lot, but I still have a lot. My house is small, poorly designed, no garage, attic or basement. I call it the Studio House because it is the size of a medium studio apartment without the benefit of being in cool section of a cool city.  I know I have possession issues and I cling to things that really have no meaning or use in my life. Try as I might to adopt the William Morris philosphy to have only things in your life that are beautiful and useful, I seem to come up short.  I am in the market for a dresser to use as a TV stand and a place to store my linens, I don't have a linen closet.  Now that I will be less that piece of furniture I've hated for years, I can think about finally getting that dresser. I won't have any excuses for not purging the old linens and towels I've had for years as well that are on their last legs as well.

Apartment Therapy featured this studio on it's web site today.  I fell in love with it. Granted not everyone will like the wallpaper or the fact that there is a plehtora of books, framed art, etc., but I like the concept of all the built in bookcases, the functional, but small kitchen, and the couch looks like the perfect place to read a book and drink a cup of tea. 

I don't think I will every be able to achieve a total Zen like bare minimalist home, I like a certain amount of clutter, but I do think I am slowly making progess and freeing up some space.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I love Method products! I'm addicted to the Cucumber and Pink Grapefruit All Purpose Sprays. I am a Method Advocate and last week, Method sent me a small selection of products to give away. Yup, give away. Each box contains trial sizes of all purpose spray, handwash, dish soap, wood polishing spra and a coupon for $1 any method product. I have three to give away.

So I'm running a little contest.  Send me an e-mail or post in my comments section. Contest runs from today until September 3rd.  I'll announce the winner on September 4th or 5th. Winner will be drawn at random and I'll wrap up the little box and pop it in them mail!

Scan Fest

I love my new All In One, printer/scanner/fax machine. I finally got off my lazy arse and purcahsed a unit similar to the one we have at our office and I LOVE IT. One of my goals for 2008 was to scan in my files and clean up the paper clutter. For a variety of reasons, it never happened, but this past month I made it happen. I picked up the unit at the store, took it home and set it up. I then started my Scan Fest. 

I have freakishly neat files for all my banking, insurance, hobbies, etc.  I have them color coded in my filing cabinet and that cabinet was getting more than a little full.  I spent about 5 hours scanning in my files, organizing a system on my computer and feeling oddly enlightened as each file went through the scanner into the box to be shredded. 

I set up folders and sub folders broken down by category-banking, each bank, each account, each year. Same for insurance, home, car, health, etc.  You get the picture. Right now I have about 20 pounds of paper sitting in a box to be shredded.  I still have a lot of files to go through and will probably spend a few hours this week going through the rest of my files.  I also purchased an external hard drive and backed up data to the hard drive.

I feel pretty proud of myself for a couple reasons.  1) I finally achieved a goal that I set up for myself from 2 years ago.  2) I'm decluttering my tiny space  and 3) Maybe this is the first step in getting out of that stuck feeling I've been having. 

Next Step-Shred Fest

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Drama Part ?

I posted yesterday that my neighbor is beside herself about her youngest child's decision to forgo college out of state and now stay home to be closer to her boyfriend who will be attending a community college.

Said child has not worked all summer, claims she was job hunting but unable to find a job. Then drops the bombshell on her parents that she is staying home and not going to school this semester. Her parents have shelled out $3,500 in fees that are non refundable. They were able to get back about $750, but the rest of the money-gone. The kicker is youngest child has absolutely no regrets about her change of plans and the money laid out by her parents that is not going to be reimbursed. Youngest child also told her parents that she can't enroll in the same community college as her boyfriend for this semester, not even to take some classes-why, we never got a straight answer. Youngest child still does not have a job and has no place to live since she has made it clear she is going to move in with her boyfriend and leave home. Plus they have done nothing to find a place to live either.

I spent a good portion of last night sitting on my neighbors porch listening to her vent about the above over a couple beers. I really feel for my neighbor, she is just not having a good spell. Oldest child went through a sulky phase earlier this summer when her parents said they were not funding her apartment. At least oldest child got on the stick, got a job, is now living at home and is trying to save up for her own place. As someone pointed out in yesterday's comments, a lot of this is my neighbors fault for allowing her kids to take advantage of her. I do have to agree, my neighbor has had a pattern of just giving in to the kids in the past and now that she is not, it's causing all sorts of drama.

What distresses me most is the latter part of our conversation last night. Well into her 3rd or 4th beer and crying on my shoulder. My neighbor has told me that she really wants to refinance her house (again) so she can pay off her maxed out credit cards, but she can't because her credit has taken a nose dive. Sigh. They bought a new 42" plasma TV on credit, dished out all that money for the youngest kid, paid the apartment expenses for the oldest kid, and then bought plane tickets for their vacation when ticket prices where insane awhile back. More power to her if she can refinance the house, but what will happen then? Pay off the credit cards and then run them up? Use the extra cash to "help" the kids because they have the cash on hand and not tuck it away? Plus my neighbor is leaving for vacation next week with less than $200 cash in hand. They are staying with friends, the plane tickets are paid for, but they have almost no spare cash and will be away for 7 days. I think she said she was going to use up the last of her credit on her credit card for the trip. I sort of blanked out that part, I did not want to hear that.

Oh well, all I can do is what I did last night, bring over a 6 pack and some snacks and be a shoulder to cry on...

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Drama Continues Across The Road

My neighbor is ready to kill her youngest daughter. Youngest child came home a few weeks ago and announced that she changed her mind, did not want to go out of state for college (after planning this for 2 years saying she wanted to beat feet from our small rural New England town) and now wants to stay local to be with her boyfriend who is going to a community college. Ah, guess what, neighbor has paid a ton of money in non refundable deposits to the out of state college. And youngest child has also not worked much if at all this summer and expects her parents to "fund" this new adventure-ie pay pocket money and her living expenses while she tries to get into the community college. Youngest child's grandmother gave her a pre-collegiate gift of $1,000 to use towards college expenses and youngest child now wants that money. My neighbor has told her that $1,000 is going toward the close to $3,500 in non-refunable expenses she has had to fork over for the school never to be attended. It's not going to youngest child. Grandmother agrees with the parent on this one too!

Needless to say, her parents are not going to fund this new adventure, youngest child is sulking almost as much as her older sister did in June and my neighbor is just out of her mind about this situation. Yikes, it's times like this I am so glad I don't have kids.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Sale and A Purchase

I had some hobby specific items sitting around my house for a couple of years. On a whim, I posted them on a yahoo group list, carefully detailing the age, condition etc of the hobby items. I priced them for what I thought was fair market value, must do local pick up and then heard nothing for a few weeks.

Two weeks ago, I got into an e-mail exchange with a woman who does not live in the area, but is interested in my hobby items. I have been wrapping and packing these items and tomorrow I load up my SUV and take them to the post office to be delivered to her.

I am thrilled that these items have a new home and I'm even more thrilled that I got cash money for them (it's in my pay pal account as I type). AND I'm beyond thrilled because this little influx in cash has enabled me to buy the All In One that I have been drooling over. It's the scaled down version of the model we have at the office and I love it. I can finally have my scan a thon and then a shread a thon before the month is over. The extra moola goes towards the new gutters.

Social Media Frustrations

I'm frustrated today. My office is working on a Social Media campaign and my boss STILL does not get the difference between Facebook, Twitter, a blog and Linked In. He keeps claiming he knows all about Twitter, but does not. He still does not realize he has to contribute to this effort, he is the one with the contacts in our industry, not me. I can only access a small number of contact and clients.  He has been in the business for 35 years with the Rolodex to prove it.
I've arranged three meetings with individuals who help companies and businesses with Social Media and they all pretty much present the same information and the same business plan and they are all within the same price range.  My boss is under the impression that these folks will do it all and he just has to sit back and get the leads, etc.  He just does not realized he has to be proactive in this venture as well.  The last meeting we had with a consultant he pretty much kept telling the consultant how great he was in his field and not answering the consutlants questions about the business.  Annoying, embarrassing and frustrating.

Today he sent me yet another link to an article that states he should be on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.  My response was go set up your Linked In profile and I'll steal information from that for the Company Facebook page.

I know alot of the issues my boss is having with Social Media is because he does not fully grasp what it is and how it works.  He still does not understand that Twitter limits you to 140 characters and he needs to us it to link to his web site or the company blog.  That is where he can wax poetic. I know he is not as comfortable as he claims to be with these new technologies.  Ugh, I just feel lik we have the same discussion over and over and I write the same response over and over to the same questions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gotta Love Monday Night Shopping!

I went whipping through four stores last night, with successful shops at three of them. Costco was the purchase of those items in bulk that I actually use and a stop at the food court for a hot dog and soda-best $1.79 spent. My other shop was at the Aldi for a mini restock of the basics. I went to this Aldi since it was on my way to and fro the Costco. I always find it interesting that prices can vary from one store location to the next. The Aldi I usally shop at is a little less expensive than this one. Since I pretty much buy the same items each time I'm in Aldi, I know what they cost (beans, cereal, eggs, milk, flour). Almost without exception, each canned item was 10c more expensive at this store as compared to the other Aldi.

My stop at the ethnic market was a bit of a disappointment. They changed ownership a few months back and I'm not liking it. Prices are slowly creeping up there as well and they have eliminated almost all of their grocery items. I used to love shopping in this store with Salsa music playing in the background, happy families wandering the isles, the rows of different foods, one row Indian/Asian, one row Mexican, one row Italian, one row Caribbean food, one row Middle Eastern food. The produce was fresh and cheap. Now they have eliminated almost all the grocery items and you really have to pick over your produce, some of it is at or past it's sell by date. Disappointing to me as it was one of the few places I could pick up 3 onions, 2 sweet potatoes and 1 bunch of scallions at a reasonable price and not having to purchase 5 pounds of onions that I won't use.

Oh well, I managed to do a decent restock of the pantry for just under $55. I also remembered to pull a pork tenderloin out of the freezer and made a marinade for it to soak in-it will be the thrill of the grill tonight at casa Betty!

Monday, August 17, 2009

An Uneventful Weekend

It was a fairly quiet weekend. Not that much drama at the second job, which is good considering some of the staff are bickering a bit, I got paid, which is another good thing. The weather was lovely, the work went smooth, we were busy, but not crazed, and I got to work on a couple personal projects. I broke down and put the small AC in the house and actually used the AC last night.  The house felt warm and muggy when I got back home and with my area of the world actually having summer for a few days, I decided to treat myself to a little AC.  It took the edge off the heat and humidity.

The cupboards and fridge are a bit sparse, I'm off to do a mini shopping marathon tonight. Lists are made for each store (Aldi, ethnic market, grocery store, Costco) and the only downside is I am out of leftovers for dinner and forgot to pull something out of the freezer for tonights meal. Oh well, I'll grab a slice of pizza at Costco as a treat and do some food prep tonight for the week.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Food, Glorious Food

In the past two weeks, I did a bunch of food shopping and made a bunch of food. I now have a lot of leftovers in my fridge.  Which is a good thing. I now have food for my lunches! I did walk out of the house the other day without my lunch and decided to buy lunch.  I was not thrilled to spend $9 on next to nothing.  I will have to get creative with the last few containers to make the food palatable. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why I Need to Get Unglued..

Seriously, I need to get unglued because I am stuck.

Somewhere in the bowels of this blog are my guidelines to bouncing back from bankruptcy. Somewhere in the bowels of this blog I describe the events that led me to the bankruptcy. One thing that did not help my situation and in fact was a big contributor to the bankruptcy was, a series of unfortunate events (with apologies to Lemony Snickets).

To put it in the simplest of terms. I had a god awful streak of bad luck. It seemed that for about two years every time I turned around I had bad things happen to me. Even with good advice and careful research, if a rotten fiscal thing could happen to me, it did. House repairs costing multiple hundreds and occasionally thousands of dollars, car repairs, medical bills, investments gone bad. No matter what I did to try and stop the bad ju ju, it just continued on and drained my bank account. That plus some other life altering events left me more than a little gun shy.

And left me feeling stuck in a rut. Sigh. A rut I am struggling to get out of so I can move onward and upward. This is the part of the bouncing back that I am not having a lot of success at. The moving forward. I feel like I'm stuck in a pot of goo. Able to move oh so slightly forward, but just not able to pick up my feet and jump out of the pot.

To say my self esteem took a hit when I had that streak of bad luck is an understatement. I used to pride myself on my work ethic, my sensible decisions, my ability to somehow end up on my feet with a bouquet of flowers, the pride I had in a successful outcome to my hard work and diligence in projects and tasks.

Even though I am 18 months post discharge, I feel like I should be accomplishing more with my life now that I'm not in total fiscal hell. Yet, I freak out when make my spending plan. I hoard my money, then go on spending binges, not for extravagant items, but for things like groceries, socks and underwear and my hobby expenses. It pains me to write out the checks for my bills, even though there is cash in my account. I fret over my up and down emergency fund. I am disgusted with myself for allowing me to use the E-fund to cover the shortages in my checking account because I failed to adjust my spending plan or take into account I failed to
sign my time sheet for my weekend work.

Being in the goo to a certain degree is comforting. At this point the glued feeling is numbingly comforting. It is also not letting me grow as a person post BK nor is it allowing me to be aggressive in pursuing new fiscal goals. I want to be able to pump up my E-fund, I want to feel confident enough to pursue self employment, I want to be able to have enough salary so I can qualify for a mortgage for a new and larger home.

I have acknowledged the mistakes I made with my money that contributed to the bankruptcy. I acknowledged the decisions I made with my finances that were not fiscally sound or prudent. I acknowledged the fact that some events that happened to me were really out of my control. Now I have to be able to take these acknowledgments and move on. It will mean moving out of my comfort
zone and finding a way to come unglued so I can grow again as a person.

Expected, But Also Very Unexpected

I got a phone call I had been half expecting to get, but did not think I would get until much later this year or maybe even next year.  My elderly friend passed away the other day.  I had blogged about her ill health.  It finally caught up with her.  I am saddened for a number of reasons. One is obviously her passing.  The other reason is her fall out with our mutal friend Dee.  They had been close for a number of years and their falling out was more my elderly friend not being able to accept her failing health and taking responsibility for taking care of herself.  I am saddened because I wonder if my elderly friends resistance to making lifestyle changes contributed to her passing. 

I am also distressed with myself as I had not spoken to her in a few weeks, nor had I left a message on her mobile.  I had sent a few quick e-mails, to say Hi and to Just Check In sort of thing. I knew she had gone back into the rehab facility and had limited access to her phone and computer, but thought that she would be back out in a few weeks as had been the MO this past year. Not this time. Can you say GUILT? How hard would it have been to take the few extra minutes to make the phone call and speak to the person? Or made the drive to the facility to say hello.  Sigh, all I can do now is say a prayer for her. At her request, no service will be held and her step daughters are doing a private creamation.  I am saddened by the loss of a person who's company I truly enjoyed. I am going to miss that snarky New England Humor and her New England accent.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blog Updates Planned

I'm overdue in posting some new links to my side bar and also thanking some folks for linking back to this blog.  I'm not ignoring you, I just don't always have reliable internet service at home.  I'm putting on the top of my list, a blog refresher session.  If you would like a link back to your blog, drop me a line, or leave a comment.

My thanks to y'all you have given me a shout out!

Mini Update

It was a good birthday weekend, thanks for the birthday wishes! My birthday present to myself was going to be basic cable since I get no TV reception. Alas, it was not to be. I had processed the order for the basic cable via the companines web site. I got a call and was told that where I live is just over their service border and they do not service my village. Literally, I am one block over from the $15/month basic cable providing servicer. The company that does provide cable service to my part of the world does so for $39.99 a month. When I did a side by side comparison, the more expensive company only offers 6 additional channels (that I would not be watching anyway).

Oh well, I don't know if I want to spend $40 on basic cable. I have to think about it. I did treat myself to a new set of sheets. I found some amazing 650 thread count sheets at Marshalls for $39. I washed them, line dried them and put them on my bed. They feel great! I also treated myself to a nice bottle of wine. Small treats, but good treats.

Have you ever bought yourself a birthday present?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Few More Random Thoughts

I'm working on a couple posts, but here are some random thoughts/updates.

I am looking forward to the weekend for a couple of reasons. One is the weather is supposed to be nice and I'm not at my second job and the other is I'm having a birthday!  So I get to celebrate a birthday, some nice weather and a weekend off!  Yeah. My office is doing it's usual pizza lunch for my natal day, which is fine by me. One less day I need to make a meal or bring lunch.

I called 4 people to give me quotes on new gutters and have only heard from two.  Both quotes were just under $800.  I do need new gutters and this very rainy spring/summer has made them mandetory.  I tried to "repair" one gutter and made a royal right mess of it.  This is a professional job, not a Betty job. Sometimes I wish I really was a Tool Belt Diva or had some fabulous hunky boyfriend who is also super joe handyman.  Oh well, a girl can dream.

I though I had a prospective home for Poochie. I was soo very excited. A nice couple was looking to replace their elderly dog that passed away.  We talked on the phone, exchanged a few e-mails and I sent photos of the dog, but they decided that they wanted a puppy and not an older dog with some minor health issues. Finding a home for Poochie is almost becoming a full time job.  My Elderly Friend does not even ask about her anymore and I'm feeling a bit miffed about that. I'm bearing the cost of caring for this dog (and yes I am starting to resent it, but it WAS my decision to take her on), and Elderly Friend has just dismissed the dog totally from her life.  I know Elderly Friend has other things on her mind, but ah, the dog is techincally yours!  Oh well, live and learn.

I listed a bunch of books on, partly to get rid of them and decrease the clutter and partley to see if I can get a few $$$ in my pay pal account.  My feeling is if they don't sell by September 15th, off they go to the Goodwill.  Space is limited in my house and I really just want to declutter the bookshelf.

I applied for a full time position in a local company and did not even get a call back.  I got a nice letter stating they had filled the position.  I did find out for this open position they had over 150 applicants.  I guess it's a sign of the times.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bills Paid~Money In and Money Out~

I paid my car note, electric, phone, mobile phone, some hobby expenses and the last part of my homeowners insurance this week. I also posted a payment to my Credit Card. I had hoped to get my second job pay check and use part of that for the remainder of the credit card, but I forgot to submit my hours and missed the pay cycle. I want to keep cash in my account.

I hate when I do that, I've done it before. Since it is my fault, I don't like to ask for an exception and get a check cut. I just spaced since I had done my volunteer thing I had not submitted my "time sheet". Plus the boss has been flat out busy with events all over New England, and the upper Mid-Atlantic States and for what ever reason, he will remind me if he does not see my hours in the "to be paid" file. Ah well, most of that money has been earmarked for my new gutters anyway.

I probably going to upgrade my mobile phone plan. The past few months I've really been using my phone and have had two really large phone bills because I've exceeded my minutes. The plan I currently have is the most basic, mainly lots of minutes on the weekends, which was fine as I mainly used my phone on the weekends in the past. For reasons unknown to me, my weekday usage in slowly creeping up (I looked at the past six months of bills) and the per minute charge if I go over my alloted minutes is outrageous. I think I'll be OK if I go one step up in billing plans. I won't have to renew a contract as I've been a long time customer (read-over two years). I'll also check out other phone carriers and see if I can get a better deal. Now that I can keep my phone number if I switch carriers, I may be able to find a better plan!

Food Shopping!

I ended up doing a lot (well to me a lot) of food shopping over the weekend. I shopped at 4 stores to get all the little things I needed and wanted and my last stop was at the market that has a decent meat department. Well, used to have a decent meat department. They were one of the few local stores that would cut up a whole chicken into parts that you could grill or fry.  Since the store underwent a renovation and "upgrade", they no longer sell a cut up chicken. It's easy enough to do on my own should I choose to buy a small chicken and do it myself. But it's one of those things I'm happy to have someone else do.  I don't always channel Julia Child when I cook.  I just don't really like to buy a 12pk of chicken legs or thighs or what ever.  I like a little variety in my meals.

Non the less, I did a mini stock up on a variety of meats, most all of which was divided up in to individual portions, wrapped and dropped into the freezer. It will make it easier for me to just pull out a portion when I want to toss something onto the grill.

I also scored in the leftover bruised veggie section.  The grocery store had a bunch of sliced portobello mushrooms and a deep discount and I bought 4 packs.  My plan tonight is to make this amazing mushroom bourguigon  from Smitten Kitchen.  Yes, this may be a dish that is probably best served in the middle of winter or on the first frosty fall day instead of in the middle of summer, but I have a feeling this would be quite tasty as a summer dish anyway.  I made it three or four times over the winter when I could find portobello's either on sale or in the bruised veggie section. This will also give me a chance to use up the last of the carrots, garlic and pearl onions that are in my veg bin.  And I know I'll have some good leftovers for lunches.!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Joys Of Home Ownership

I got the first quote on new gutters for my house.  All inclusive, it's going to be about $775.  Sigh-that will be July's second job and most of August's second job income going towards the gutters.  They do need to be replaced and it's something I can not do, nor do I wish to do......

I have three other companies coming to give me quotes.  From what little research I did do, this is going to cost me about what the first estimate is.

I also priced out new lawn mowers, to find one that will meet my needs, I'll be spending about $150. I am hoping that Home Depot or Lowes or any other store of that nature will be running an end of the season sale and maybe I can get one for less than $100.

At least today is lovely and sunny here in Southern New England! Yesterday was miserable!