Saturday, November 8, 2008

A few side projects to write about!

I've been working on a really big home project; slowly but surely, the guest room has been getting more uncluttered and more usable! But alas, it's not ready to be written about or photographed yet, but it's also been keeping me from working on other things, so I haven't had much to update about. :( This hasn't kept me from undertaking a few other small side projects, however!

The new charging station!

If you're like me, you have about 5 million things that you carry with you every day that may or may not need charging and may or may not already have designated charging places. When I left my personal cellphone at home for the third time in one week because I couldn't find it and it was totally dead, I decided enough was enough! I've been very happy with the charging station above from Costplus (this link is to a similar one), as it keeps track of my keys and chargers for me! It just sits on my counter by the front door, and it's small enough that it's not intrusive on that (already busy) space.

A little home herb garden, replanted.

I also decided it was time to redeem myself for all of the plants I managed to kill this spring and summer by replanting the little herb garden planter I bought this past spring. My first attempt at growing chives and basil starting out well enough, but failed miserably when I forgot to water it for a month and everything turned brown. This time, however, I'm determined to get some usable herbs out of this planter! Plus, there's nothing like a little herb garden to liven up your kitchen during a dreary winter, as this one's definitely going to be. :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I'm not using the crock pot at all this week -- not sure why, but I just couldn't find anything that excited me to make in it while planning today. Unfortunately that means actually cooking every meal this week - so these recipes better be good! :)

As always, check out Org Junkie's awesome site for more menu planners!

Monday: Matt loves Mac-n-Cheese, and I've been testing recipes to try and find one that he absolutely loves, so these week's experiment will be Easy Mac and Jack.

Tuesday: Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Wednesday (class night): Stir Fry with leftover veggies over brown rice

Thursday (class night): Leftovers

Friday: Stuffed (with onions, cheese, veggies, etc) baked potatoes

Saturday: Grilled cheese and soup

Sunday: This Green Bean Casserole sounds too delicious NOT to try. :D

I Love Changing the Clocks!

Ever since college, I have loved the return to Standard Time that happens every fall. Seriously, you know those days where you wish you had an extra hour? One day a year you actually get one, and it's awesome. Every year, I'd plot out of my 25 hour schedule to make sure I'd get as much done as possible - I don't know what it is, but I feel so much more motivated just knowing that an extra hour is there to do whatever I want with. I always feel like I have to put it to good use because it's such a good opportunity! And even though I'm not an undergraduate anymore, I still find myself feeling the same way about the longest day of the year.

This year was no different! I woke up to my clock reading 8:15am this morning (meaning it was actually 7:15am), and felt so energized for it being so early in the morning! And now, it's getting close to 5pm and it's already dark, but I don't care because I've been so productive today! Before 2pm I'd done some homework, planned out menus for the week, gone shopping to buy all the food, made a delicious snack for Matt and myself, started laundry, and gone for a 45-minute run.

My only wish is that we could get an extra hour more than once a year -- it's just such a good opportunity to get caught up (and get an extra hour of R-and-R, too!)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I get by with a little help from my... neighborhood council?

I got a postcard in the mail from my neighborhood council a few weeks ago, which advertised a yearly program that they put on for their residents. "Clean out your clutter", it read, saying that for one day and one day only, you could put basically whatever you wanted on the side of the road and they'd take it away - FOR FREE.

So one night this week, Matt and I cleaned out all of the gigantic boxes that we'd had in our garage storage room because they were too big for the regular weekly recycling, and we were too lazy to go to the dump. We also put in a large (broken) trunk that a friend had left at our place with the pile. Our pile on the curb ended up being pretty huge, but by 8am the next day, it was totally gone. And we didn't have to do anything but put it at the curb! Hooray!

So thanks, Neighborhood Council, for helping me live in a more clutter-free apartment. I highly recommend either participating in a program like this, or suggesting one if your neighborhood council doesn't offer something similar.

Project 10: The Budget (Part 2)

Well, it's officially November, which means it's time to post my follow-up to the first half my first financial tracking experiment. And I have to say, I did a lot better in this half!

Total spending between October 16 and October 31 was $377. I have to say, though, that this should be a lot higher - Matt basically paid for all expenses surrounding Phantom of the Opera and the weekend of debauchery that it was a part of. But, since that number is almost $125 less than last time, I'm going to go with it. :)

So what's my total for the month? A whopping $796. I know, right? So where did that $796 go, exactly? Well according to my calculations, the breakdown's like this:

  • $284 for Groceries (and other household purchases)

  • $12 for Personal Items

  • $90 for Alcohol & Tobacco (or just alcohol in my case)

  • $17 for Clothing

  • $85 for Food at Work - I bought something at work 13 times this month! Ugh.

  • $192 for Meals Eaten Out - 10 times this month - good lord.

  • $40 for Recreation (a.k.a. gym membership)

  • $154 for Gifts and Cards - Matt's birthday and my brother's birthday

  • -$78 (my credit that I'm giving myself for returned school books)

I feel like this is a good starting point for my budgeting efforts. Obviously there are some areas that I can cut back on - I mean, there's no reason to spend $192 for eating out when I've also spent $284 primarily on groceries. Sheesh. Well, I guess you can't fix something until you've identified the problem - it can only get better, and I've already got my spreadsheet printed out and ready to go for this month. :)