Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Plant a few days later

Bloom! It's starting but more to come.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Copy Ninja Sleeps Tonight

The son of the White Fang, the fabled copy ninja sleeps. (Anime reference)

A few more Bathroom mods


So the popcorn was a pain in the you know what and decided to stop getting all of the texture off. As an alternative, we sprayed texture on there which isn't as nice as smooth but at least its not popcorn. I'd like to kick the person who invented popcorn ceilings in the pants. Its so ugly and hard to paint.

Our old register was cheap and ugly. This was a decent price and looked much better then what we had before.

To match the rest of the fixtures, we bought this for our TP. The rest of the TP is in the linen closet which is kind of ugly but hopefully soon I'll have a door up there. That'll be a project to brag about if it works. The door is only one foot wide so I'll have to do some cutting before I put up the frame.

And of here is the hook we put up. Actually, we put up two more on either side but I didn't take a picture of that yet. Its a work in progress but I'm having fun.

TODO:
Hang Door
2nd coat on walls
paint doors & trim
remove tape & clean up anything that spilled
thinking about swapping bathroom fan for a light fan combo

TV Cables

I got this great idea to run the cables for the TV behind the wall. When I put the hole in the wall however, I found that it was a completely empty space. Its one of those walls that would be perfect to put a safe behind and hang a picture over it. You know what I'm talking about. Its like you see in the movies where some one notices one of the pictures is hanging slightly off center and notice the papers they are looking for are locked in a safe on the wall. I'd feel like James Bond every time I opened it.

So anyways, this is just under the TV. I'll run the HDMI and coax cables through to there as well as RCA. The hard part comes from adding an electrical socket there. I'm hoping the socket near by isn't using all of its connectors so I can add another one to it. Since it hooks up to a HDTV, I'm putting a GFCI socket in case of a surge. Now that I think about it, I wonder if it might be better to put a male end on the other side instead of only putting the socket in series with another socket.

Frog Legs

Even if they were on sale, I don't know about these. Anna might order them if she was in France and tell me its chicken legs. J/K Anna. :)

New Plant

We started growing a new plant. For those of you who don't know our house, we have lots and lots of plants. You'll have to wait and see what these are. They seem to grow pretty fast so it won't be long till they bloom.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wedding Generations Photo

Blinders

Its really interesting how blind political figures are. The know the public is disappointed in how things are going but they don't understand what is the real issue. Democrats are pushing the blame now to the Fed Reserve chair and saying he was to blame for unregulated spending, pork bills, and government run health care that made them unpopular in the first place.

Both parties in general have problems but the problem with the democratic party right now is that they don't have a good budget. I liken it to this example in my life. I joined a gym with Marcie. That is $70 a month just to enter those doors. On top of that, trainers are trying to sell me training sessions. I know they will show me results for my money and they will do a good job. The problem is they are trying to talk me into changing my budget. Good money management says you should not increase your budget unless your income increases also. The only other option is to steal money from other areas thus decreasing other opportunities.

That's what our politicians are doing now. Free health insurance would be nice but unless they increase our taxes (we're at at least 30% now), they will have to take away other privileges that we enjoy. Here's a quote they should memorize: "Its all about the money all of the time."

With that being said, set up regulations, put penalties on companies that don't comply but don't start distributing things for free. Everyone knows government run projects cost painfully more then the same project in the private sector.

DOT - Need I say more

DOD - Remember the $200 hammers and such?

USPS - There is talk of them going broke unless certain things change like only delivering on weekdays or really increasing stamp costs. When was the last time you sent a package USPS? I tend to use UPS as they are fast, reliable, and usually a little cheaper.

Public Education - The cost to send a kid to a public school on a tax payer is over $30k. The ratio of students to non teaching employees is 3-1. Despite costing twice as much, a public school is never listed in the top schools in the country. When I moved from a private school to public school, I was a year and a half ahead of everyone else in several areas. No areas was I behind.

I could go on and on but you get the point. Yes the government can start a program that will work however it will be crazy expensive and will not have the same quality that the same program has in the private sector.

Healthy Eating

Part of my goal to eat healthy this year is to not drink soda but on the weekends. I broke that goal Monday. Oops. I'll have to work extra hard at the gym today to make up for it.

Book of Eli

Mark and I saw a comic book movie last night. Complements of the News and Observer (thanks!) we were able to go for free. Mark had never heard of the movie so when I described it, I wasn't expecting much. Denzel Washington was the only highlight we were expecting. Despite our expectations, the movie was actually pretty great. It had a real story and a good twist. It had resolution but still required you to use your imagination at the end. Very few movies would I watch again but this is one of them. Plus the fact that this was free made it all that much better. If you get the chance, go see the movie but then again, $9 is a bit much for any movie.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Turkey? Still?

Can you believe we're still eating turkey? That bird had a lot of meat on it. We've had bbq turkey legs, turkey pizza, turkey & penne, turkey & orzo, turkey salad, and we've still got some in the freezer.

We haven't even had a chance to touch the nine chicken breasts we got for free or the 5 packages of shrip we got for buy 2 get three free. That's coming soon though. We're marinating the chicken now for Friday and as soon as I speak with Mark, hopefully he'll let us know his favorite shrimp recipes.

Being frugal is really fun! Not only are we eating healthy but saving a lot of money.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Playing the Market

Since I lost nearly 60% of my 401k in the crisis, I decide that I would start buying blue chips. Normally, they don't lose value but don't really gain either. My assumption was that when the market fixes itself, those would be among the quickest to return to their former value. Trading at an all time low, I bough a lot of large cap funds and in the last year, my 401k has more then tripled. Granted some of that is money I've been putting in but still, my large cap guess has paid off.

So, what's the next money maker? Should I expect another jump from the top companies or should I start concentrating on foreign. In the past 10 years or so, foreign investing has been a top earner every quarter.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wii crossbow

My latest toy has come in. Its my wii crossbow for the legend of zelda. Unfortunately, my game doesn't seem to want to play. I've got to take it back to Gamestop for exchange. The best part about this crossbow is the laser pointer below the barrel. Although slightly off, it still makes it much cooler then the normal crossbow that comes with the game.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Floor collapses when Weight Watchers enter

The floor of a Weight Watchers clinic in Växjö in south central Sweden collapsed on Wednesday night beneath a group of about 20 participants in the weight-loss programme.

Movies to look forward to in 2010

I've made my movie wish list for 2010. These are movies that look interesting enough to consider. When the time gets closer and I read more of the reviews, I may decide against seeing them but until I hear negative things about the movies listed below, they will remain on my wishlist. Avatar (in 3D) is already out but that also goes on my list.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians 2010 2 12
Alice in Wonderland (3D IMAX) 2010 3 5
Clash of the Titans 2010 3 26
The Expendables 2010 4 23
Iron Man 2 2010 5 7
Robin Hood 2010 5 14
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time 2010 5 28
Eclipse 2010 6 30
Avatar: The Last Airbender 2010 7 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 2010 11 19
Tron Legacy 2010 12 17

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Babysitting

As I said in my last blog, there was a babysitting adventure recently. Marcie and I agreed to watch Jayden Saturday. He was a perfect angel that entire day. We played with him and fed him and took care of him through out the day. around 4:30 we decided to go out on the town. Marcie and I went to our favorite restaurant, Flemings.

Let me stop right there for a moment. I have to talk about Flemings. They are your normal steak and potatoes place and their food is really great but that isn't why we love the place. For $39.99, they have a pre-fixed menu that includes two appitisers to choose from, three entries to choose from and one desert. The options change every three to four months. Last month, we fell in love with the squash soup. We were inspired to attempt our own from it. This month, they have Manhattan clam chowder, roast duck and apple crisp. It was awesome! Evidently it takes them three days to prepare the duck. Next I think we'll try the short stack ribs. I hear they are really good too but now back to our adventure.

So Jayden was an angel the whole time. He fell asleep in the car on the way there. He was asleep till we ordered dessert. Then he patiently waited till we were done. Next, we walked next door to crabtree valley mall. We stuck his car seat in a cart and pushed him around the mall. We had it set up so he could look around as we shopped. He was very excited to see all the colors and shapes. We got lots of complements on "our baby" and by the end, we gave up and just said thanks. The one thing is, you can't get out of a store with a baby and not get lots of attention. We also figured out a great prop method for his bottle (as seen in the pic above) so that we can shop while he drinks.

It was about 10:00 when we got home and he was hungry. We fed him and changed his diaper and thought he was ready for bed. Since we aren't real parents, we don't know how to hold a baby before they go to sleep. We tried different angles and methods and nothing would work. He just kept crying. At midnight, we're both tired and cranky at each other. Marcie changes his diaper one more time and walks him up and down the steps. That seemed to do it somehow (or maybe he was exhausted from all of the crying) and he went to sleep for three hours. At three in the morning, I could have showed Marcie how much I loved her and gotten up to feed Christopher again but instead, I let her do it. This wasn't as bad. He went to sleep pretty quick and didn't wake up again till 6:30.

Amy got sick so we couldn't get him back to her at 1:00 pm like we had planned so we didn't get to start our bathroom till much later. We didn't finish till around midnight again. Exhausted from two full days and a full night of hustle and bustle, we ended up taking the next day off of work. Next time we babysit, I think we're going to get some kind of contract set up so we can finish with him in time to recover for work.

On the plus side, The bathroom is almost finished. I'll post pictures of what we've done but that is for another day.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The A Team

Question: Am I old when my wife hasn't heard of the A team and I assume everyone has seen the show?

New Years Resolution check list

Ashely has inspired me with her new years check list. I guess for accountability, I should do the same.
1) Buy devotional for Marcie and me to go through - half check (bought it but it still hasn't come in)
2) Join gym and make time to go - check (and I'm still sore from Friday)
3) Eat better - check (Super doubles helped us stock up with wholesome foods)
4) Love Marcie more/better - half check (would be a check but read my next blog about babysitting)

There it is. I'll post next week my update and hopefully I'll have checks in all four.

Message in a Cookie & Caphalon

Marcie and I love Williams and Sonoma. They have some of the most creative ideas around. Last year we bought pie crust cutters in the shape of leaves. We made all kinds of interesting pies with them and everyone loved the designs (pie one, two, three, & four). To toot my own horn a little bit, my pie was displayed at Jimmy & Steph's wedding along with several other really great looking pies. There was really nothing special about that pie however. All the creativity and design came from W&S. I just dropped the leaves into the pan.

We heard they were having their winter sale so we decided to check it out. They didn't have a lot of stuff there on sale but they did have a cool cookie cutter. You can slide in letters to spell out anything you want. I'm thinking this will be a good snack for a certain olympic party. We may print "Go USA" or maybe the names of countries around the world. I can also write I love you or happy anniversary on the cookies giving me brownie points with the Mrs. or should I say cookie points. :)

On a side note, they had Caphalon pans on sale. Typically, their cookware is $80 a piece for the slide nonstick hard anodized pans but they had a special that day. You could get an eight inch and ten inch pan for $60. Thirty dollars a pan is an amazing price. They cook great too. Nothing sticks to them no matter how high you turn the temperature. Also, whats new about these pans is that they can be used for baking in the oven at higher temperatures then before and are dishwasher safe. Typically nonstick pans will bubble up or flake off but these are supposed to not do that. They also cook really even as well. Something about the way they layered the metal is supposed to spread out the heat the way a cast iron pan would. Also since you can cook at those higher temperatures, you can also sear meat like you can with a cast iron pan. Marcie liked the purchase but I was super excited. Score big for the cheap awesome purchase.

Christmas Gift Tags

Wondering what to do with all of your old Christmas cards? Instead of just throwing them away, why not become a frugalista and turn them into gift tags? People spent time choosing the perfect card for you so the designs are often very nice. Just make sure there isn't any writing on the back. That would just be tacky.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Enjoying the Fruits of Labor

With our large purchases the other day, we're back to a full fridge. That's good for me since I have lots of snack food now to take to work. I'm trying to cut out the Dew from my diet as I've heard you'll loose 15 lbs just by cutting soda out of your diet. With snack food around me, it makes not drinking soda much easier. (I still have a few left so I'll quit when those are done)

I'm eating a really unhealthy squash soup today so its a good thing that my snack throughout the day will be blue berries, pistachios, and natural no sugar added apple sauce.

The soup's name is actually squash and the kitchen sink soup. Marcie supplied that name because she claimed (and she's right) that I just started putting random things in there. We started out with a butternut squash. We boiled that with some carrots till they were soft. Then we blended them in a food processor to make them look like baby food. Next we dumped the water and re-added the ingredients. To make it creamier, we added sweeten and condensed milk. We could have used normal milk however we had a sweet tooth attach that day. Then, to make it a little thinner, we added chicken broth. Next came the spices. We added garlic, a few green items, allspice, and a few other things. I got creative on the spices and Marcie got worried. It turned out pretty good although its a little sweeter then I was hoping. I added some lemon juice to hopefully get rid of some of the sweet by adding some tart. That helped a little but not much. Overall, it tastes pretty good but I doubt we'll be using the sweetened condensed milk any more. The taste just isn't right.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Home made pizza

Part of saving money is making things that you would normally buy processed. The more you can prepare yourself, the more you can save even with out coupons. To top that, the home made stone cooked pizza to my left was made from ingredients Marcie and I got on sale. The dough was made with flour that I got buy one get one free and a coupon on top of that. The cheese topping was on sale plus a coupon also. The BBQ sauce was full price but wasn't expensive. Turkey is much cheaper if you buy the full bird so I think we paid something like $.29/lb plus a $1 off coupon. We chopped that up after cooking it and now have a freezer full of turkey. Using some of that to make the bbq turkey pizza kept the price of the pizza well below the price of the store brand self rising pizza and tasted just as good if not better. Because we like peppers and garlic, Marcie added some of those which were bought at full price. There isn't much you can do about produce except always buy what is on sale. Items we use often like peppers don't go on sale often so most of the time you have to pay full price. We don't mind since fresh produce is good for you and tastes much better then canned things. We refuse to sacrifice taste or health for being cheap (although the pizza was still pretty cheap).

Harris Teeter Super Double

Marcie and I didn't do that great shopping yesterday at Harris Teeter. Some items like the chicken breasts were buy one get two free and I had two $1.00 off coupons that doubled making buy 1 at $4 off and get two free. Most of the items we bought were regular price but we needed them so our total for everything on the right was $79.32. That seems about right but with out all of the savings, it would have been $91.25 more expensive. Needless to say, we'll be set for the next couple of weeks on food.

Kroger coupons

Yesterday and Tuesday were big shopping days for Marcie and I. Seen to the left was Tuesday's Kroger receipt. We spent $64.80 and saved $77.01 by buying sale items and using coupons. Below, you can see many of the coupons were doubled since they were $.50 or less. I also noticed that the progresso soup that I bough had an e-coupon. Actually, I had two coupons for the soup. I saved a $1.00 with e-coupons on top of what I saved with clipped coupons making the soup almost free. See my proud list of coupons scanned below.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Years Resolutions

Last year I think I had over ten resolutions. Some I kept but others I did not. The funny thing about resolutions is they tend to be the same from year to year. For me, they always fall in three catagories: God, health, and relationships.

This year, I want to grow in my walk with God in a different way. I want to grow with Marcie as we are one now. I bought two of one of pastor Davey's books and our plan is to go through that each night. Doing that not only draws you closer to God but also helps our relationship. I want to continue to get to know Marcie and love her more by next year then I do now (that will be my goal every year). Finally, we're going to try and start eating healthy again. We were doing really good for a while but we quit buying groceries every week. That leads to junk food and snacking... no good. We're going to cook healthy and I'm going to be playing soccer Lord willing. We're considering joining a gym for a little weight training and to have a warm place to run.

So, there you have it. That is my goals for next year. I've got a plan and my goal is to keep going.

Monday, January 4, 2010

You're going to love my nuts

Oh really Vince?I do not endorse this video or its content. :)