Thursday, February 26, 2009

Feeling a little blue today. I think it's a combination of lack of sleep (Don has a cold and was coughing all night), a slow build up of low grade stress, and a big pile of work to get through. I don't think I'm getting adequate enough nutrition either and I'm worried about catching Don's cold. Our health insurance goes away in two days which is another big stresser. I know I don't have much room to complain, there are bigger things to worry about. Unemployment is hard on spouses too. Even though we are taken care of, I've never liked being in the position of being the main breadwinner. So much responsibility. I don't feel like being responsible today.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dogs

Cordy and the coveted Ball. Possession is 9/10 of the law.


Provocative Cordy


Are you gonna throw that? Are you? Are you?!


The camera adds 10 pouds. No, really...


Little Bunny Fu Fu


A wiener burrito on a cold February day.

Don't forget to wash behind the ear.

video

I think Cordy has snuck in some acting lessons since we moved to LA. Here she is working the camera in a desperate attempt to get some food. She's our little starving actress.

Potatoes of Evil

Don found these in our cupboard. It wasn't until he fondly nicknamed them "Potatoes of Evil" that I grabbed the camera and determined that these were going up on my blog.

Grandma and Grandpa

I finally updloaded the camera pics so here's a sampling of some of our recent pictureworthy events.

Lots of people asked how our visit was when Don's grandparents came down a couple of weekends ago. It was wonderful and a nice dosage of some much needed family time. So how did we spend our time? Drinking beer, eating pizza, and playing poker of course. Yep, Don's grandparents still got it! Grandma cleaned us out, Twice!







What a better way to follow up a night of poker playing than with a fresh batch of abelskivers. Grandma and Grandpa had never had them before so was fun to introduce them to a new treat. Unfortunately the camera ran out of battery before I could capture the finished product, but here Don is whipping up the batter.



Sunday, February 15, 2009

Costco and Cooking

I've had some fun with the cooking blog this week. Looking for ways to stretch the budget and still get some healthy cooking in. Lunches are a bit easier now that Don's not on the road every day, but also means we need to stock the fridge a little better. I compiled some recipe groupings of items that we can prep ahead of time and freeze in individual lunch servings.

It took me three attempts but I finally successfully made my weekly trip to Costco. Tried to go on Saturday afternoon (Valentines Day) but it was so crazy I couldn't even find a parking spot and gave up. Then I went again this morning directly after church only to discover that I had left my Costco Card and Debit Card in my sweatshirt pocket that I was wearing yesterday. Good thing we don't live to far away, so back I went home to get the cards. At least I was able to gas up on my first trip out there.

Anyway, I picked up some chicken thighs and flank steak. I also bought a giant bag of chocolate chips. Figured lit would be good to have cookie ingredients on hand to keep us from splurging on desserts and other snacks. They also make a tasty but economical contribution to the potluck style dinners we're always having among friends. Also stocked up on coffee filters so we are good on those for the next year. But the real treat of the day was the splurge on the 12 pack of Costco chocolate muffins I picked up. I thought about getting the variety pack with the poppy seed and blueberry ones also, but why bother when all you really want is the chocolate. Don was so excited when I got home that he immediately went to work individually saran wrapping and repackaging each of them to preserve maximum freshness. We put the majority in the freezer. I'm thinking they'll make for a nice breakfast option or late night snack. I guess it's the little pleasures in life that keep us going. :)

So I've been busy all day doing kitchen prep work for the week. I started with a big batch of chocolate chip cookies. There was just enough dough to for two full cookie sheets with a tiny sample left over to toss in the freezer for an emergency craving. I also did all the prep work for Meal Plan #1 recently published on the Cooking Kama Sutras Blog. I prepared the Brunswick Stew and Braised Chicken Thighs according to the recipes and then boxed them up and stuck in the freezer for lunches. After the ones we ate for dinner tonight, we got 9 additional servings out of them. I also made two batches of the Asian Barbecue Chicken Marinade and tossed in the freezer to pull out when needed. I even had one small packet of chicken thighs left which I froze separately for a yet to be determined future use. Tomorrow I will tackle the flank steak according to Meal Plan #3. And then we will have a very pleasantly stocked freezer and easy week ahead of us.

So there's definitely more work and prep involved but I kind of enjoy the process. I'm looking forward to assembling some more meal plans so keep an eye out on the cooking blog.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Regrouping

Well, you could say we hit a small bump in our journey toward home ownership yesterday. Don became a statistic of the economy yesterday and was laid off along with 20% of his fellow Revchem employees. It was a bit of a blow although we were not completely blindsided. We knew it was a possibility and we planned for it. We've been through this before and are in a really good place to handle it. Overall, I feel pretty positive about it and am inclined to think that when things like this happen, a better opportunity usually comes along. We will be OK financially. Looking over our budget, I think we can get by without having to dip into our savings and may even be able to save a little more if we're really disciplined. I'm even thinking it might be nice for him to have a little "time off" to decompress and I have some pleasant fantasies about what it might be like to have a "house husband" for a while (Breakfast in bed anyone? :) The only real downers are putting off our home purchase for another year or two and Don having to walk away from a company that he committed four years of his life to and a clientele that he was proud to service. Oh yeah, and we won't have health insurance anymore, I guess that's a big one. So we will be eating health conscientiously, flossing our teeth every night, and driving extra cautiously for a while. But the truth is, and we may have to keep reminding ourselves of this, the future is wide open. All of our "needs" are covered and now Don just needs some time to figure out what his "wants" are.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Rain

The floodgates have opened. We are experiencing a massive downpour - four days of torrential rains. The kicker too is that Don's poor grandparents picked these four days out of the entire year to visit us from Idaho. Too bad for them, but as they said, they didn't come to see California, they came to see us. Regardless, we're happy they're here and enjoying our time. The rain though is awesome. It's so refreshing and cleansing. And every drop feels like such a precious commodity in a land where water is scarce. I hope it fills our reservoirs, washes away our smog, and brings us all back into respectful communion with mother nature. Bring on the showers.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Productivity

Finally, a productive weekend! It's Sunday night and the house is nice and clean. Dishes done and put away. All of the rooms are picked up and Don even tackled and conquored the laundry. Laundry baskets are empty and the clothes actually got put away too! I started the weekend off by getting all the grocery shopping done Saturday morning and then I even cooked a couple of big meals to package up for the week ready to eat (Tacos and Chili, Yummmmmmm). This morning I decided to go in to work and catch up on some much needed maintenance stuff - all the side tasks that I never have time to get to during the week. I try my best to avoid going in on the weekends which allows me to enjoy the luxury of uninterrupted time on the few occasions that I do. I spent about 4.5 hours and accomplished about 80% of what I wanted to. But I think the remaining 20% I can squeeze in during my work week. Then I came home and tackled my home office. I had a mound of papers piled up which I spent a good couple hours going through sorting into garbage, recycling, shred, filing, and things to do. I even organized my things to do into an "immediately before you go to bed pile," an "as soon as you can get to it pile," and a "when you have time pile." I accomplished everything in the first pile so those little tasks that have been eating at me for weeks like updating my address with the DMV, sending in Don's vehicle renewel check, and completing the registration for jury duty (yes, I got summoned) are no longer weighing me down. Man that feels good. And to top it off, I even did a little bit of minor rearranging and pulled my treadmill into my bedroom for easier access and less interruptions to prevent me from working out. Can this week get any better?

Oh, and in a follow up to my last email, I even went through my old files and discovered that the parking ticket reporting on my credit report was indeed paid and I have proof. So I will be getting that taken care of as well. That's why you keep records!

Credit Surprises

Moving forward with our goal of buying our first house, one of the preparatory things Don and I decided to do this weekend was order a free copy of our personal credit reports to make sure everything is in order for when we start applying for mortgages. We did discover a couple of things.

First, we have excellent credit. All of our accounts are in good standing with perfect payment history. Yes! Too bad the free report doesn't also give you a score but I'm quite sure we are in the 700s.

Second, apparently I have a parking ticket from Tacoma, outstanding since 2006. Oops, didn't even know about that one. So I'll have to make a couple of calls to get that one straightened out.

Third, while we were excited to be able to report to our potential mortgage lenders that we are 100% credit card debt free, we realized that our credit report doesn't exactly reflect this. Although we have paid off all our personal credit cards, turns out that since Don is an authorized signer on the DG credit cards, all of their credit card debt shows up on Don's personal credit report. Ouch! Don't know how I missed that one given that I'm a Credit Analyst for a living but for some reason never put it together. Well that's some new increased motivation to get those paid off even faster.

Finally, I was a little bit startled when I printed out my report and discovered the first two items on there were large credit cards that I didn't recognize. A little bit of investigating and I promptly figured out that these accounts belonged to my parents for which I was an authorized signer on their account. So I got to call my parents and ask them to take me off of their credit cards. I bet that was a fun call for them. It only took 31 years but I've finally achieved financial independence from my parents. I'm a big girl now!