Thursday, June 26, 2008

Letting the sleeping dog lie

Millie Jean, our littlest pyr, is a world class sleeper. World class. If there were a gold medal given for puppy sleeping, she should win it hands down. Er, paws down.

Giving to the fact that she is, after all, only about four months old, Millie is a PLAYA. By that I mean she literally PLAYS all the time. And when she is NOT playing, she is sleeping. Hard sleeping. She lays down and she is totally out like the proverbial light.

And this dog loves to get comfortable. No, sleeping on the floor is NOT for her. There are cushy things called sofas, chairs and beds and only the best will do for this little princess. No blanket on the floor is good enough. No simple ortho pad in the crate will work. She must have comfort, and it's best if there are blankets and pillows involved for moving around to create a nest that is juuuuust right.

Just this afternoon, after about an hour of wrestling with Henry and Genie, 'swimming' in her paddling pool, and running up and down the stairs, Millie climbed on to the couch. Before I could say "who's your mama?" she was out like a light.

She is a hard sleeper, and she is also a SNORER. I thought Carl was a champion snorer until Millie came into our lives. She snores, she has her little puppy dreams where she runs, she tosses, she turns. She takes her sleeping very seriously.

When she wakes, she's like me. She absolutely CANNOT believe that her nap is over and she looks totally groggy and unprepared for the day (or the rest of her day).

Henry, bless his little gay pyr heart, is telling her that she has morning breath. Then, of course, she kisses him. ON THE PUPPY LIPS!!!

You know, in my next life, I think I want to come back as a totally spoiled dog - just like mine are. I think I deserve the life of Riley, whoever he is.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Death by Chocolate dream

I had the oddest dream this morning.

My friend Debi told me the other day that for lunch she had a Death by Chocolate sundae from a local custard (mustard) shop. Me, in my middle-age wisdom and knowledge, told her that you don't actually DIE from eating Death by Chocolate - just in case she was worrying about passing away at her desk or something.

Anyhoo, this morning I dreamed that anyone who ate the Death by Chocolate sundae from this particular custard (mustard) shop, actually DID die. Channel 5's Jane McGarry was reporting from the scene and there were all these people laying dead, but there were LOTS of smiles on their faces.

Jane was getting ready to sample Death by Chocolate and tempt fate when Henry leapt on top of me to wake me up.

I wonder if Jane will make the 6:00 o' clock news tonight...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ten random things for today...

For today's post, I thought that Ten Random Things might be fun. It also might NOT be fun, so just bear with me.
  1. I had lunch today with Debi and Tiffany (hereafter to be known as Doodle and Tootle). It was totally fun to catch up. I miss my buds from the Pier a lot.
  2. Pappa's Burgers have probably the best burgers I've had in a while. And good crispy fries too. I ate the WHOLE thing. And a Diet Cherry Coke.
  3. I think Henry, my mini pyr (he had parvo and survived) is gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that. He's very delicate and dainty and likes to be held.
  4. I think somebody might have pooped upstairs. Too darn bad I'm in the middle of a blog post. HAHAHA!
  5. Nope, it was just a Bailey fart. Good LORD that dog's farts stink.
  6. Wow - already with the farting post. I guess that's the price I pay for feeding my dogs hard boiled eggs, whole wheat bread and laxatives.
  7. I am totally into creating black and white cards now. For a long time I was really into the bright colors and paint chips. I haven't gone completely away from them, but I'm digging this B&W stuff I'm producing.
  8. Hobby Lobby was having 50% off all scrapbooking papers and I am a paper whore. This is my heaven.
  9. I got a brand new 20x30 self-healing mat for half price because the package was opened. It's great that you can bargain your way into cool stuff if you have the nerve to.
  10. Ten random things took a lot less time than I thought it would. Maybe I should have made it 15 random things. Oh well, since this post is already finished, it's just too darn late.

4:39 PM update: I was totally wrong about the poop. Yikes. Thank goodness for 1) puppy pads 2) Febreeze and 3) LYSOL.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Quiet Time

Monday morning, 6:29 AM... all is quiet on my southern front.

The weekend was busier than normal. Friends in crisis, "discussions" with the husband, cleaning, laundry, painting... I need a work-week to rest up from my weekend. Seriously.

Quiet is nice, but sometimes it makes me nervous. Growing up in a house full of people, it was never quiet. There were always people yelling, dogs barking, cows mooing, something blasting away on the television or country music on the radio. Quiet was something I craved. It was SO hard to think when I was growing up. So if the day was nice, I would walk to the First Street Beach. There was a lovely, looooong pier there with a lighthouse at the end of it. I could sit there for hours - just me, the boulders, the seagulls and the crashing waves. God, it was so wonderful there. I miss that so dearly.

When I took Carl home to meet my family, I took him out the the pier and lighthouse. Like me, Carl is a water sign. We spent about an hour out there - NOT TALKING. I've got to tell you, it was the best communication time ever.

Anyway, back to the quiet. Even now, I just can't rest when it is TOO quiet. I have to have some noise. In my bedroom, I have a little air conditioner AND a box fan AND a ceiling fan. Both the noise and the cold make me sleep better. There is something to soothing to me about the hum of a box fan or the whirr of the air conditioner that sort of induces sleep - better than a pill or a bath or aromatherapy.

In just a couple of hours, the phone will start ringing, the doorbell will buzz, kids will get outside and start playing (meaning the dogs will be barking up a storm), and all my "quiet" will be gone for another day. So I will relish this semi-silent time, thank God for His blessings in my life, and Boy Scout Motto myself up for another day.

Rawk on!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Living within one's means - or trying to!

To say my husband and I have struggled financially would be an understatement. It seems like ever since we got married, there has been one financial trial and tribulation after another. Whether is was major credit account debt, or one of us losing our job, or a major medical bill or an auto accident, there always seemed to be some big money-sucking monster waiting around the corner.

In October 2001, I lost my job. September 11 was rough on the airlines and postal industries - our two largest clients. Hubby and I were devastated, but we had the requisite six months of savings in the bank so we thought we were OK. I mean, come on - I'm smart, not horrible looking, do great work and clean up well. I seriously thought I would have another marketing job in no time.

Of course things didn't turn out the way we planned.

You know, we burned through that money fast - way faster than six months - and eventually we wound up filing bankruptcy.

Wow - that is out there in the Universe now.

We filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which means we are paying our creditors off (if they filed a claim). We have about 18 months left to go in our plan. I don't want to tell you the extreme about of debt we were in. Suffice it to say we were young (ok - not so young), stupid and lived a lot in the moment. We were a disaster waiting to happen.

My friend Lorrie turned me on to the CNN Money website, and today I found this article about 10 families living without credit card debt. This has been Carl and I since roughly 2002. While it IS hard, especially saving for something big, there have been a lot of good things coming out of this.

  • Both our cars are paid for. No big monthly payments for us. Even with the high gas prices, we are saving a little because our cars are paid off.
  • We HAVE to save for large purchases now. Before, we had absolutely no problem opening up another credit account or a three years-no interest plan for furniture or appliances. Now, we get TOTAL satisfaction walking into a store and paying CASH for large purchases. BONUS - you can do a lot more negotiating when you have the cash in hand. We saved about 15% on our suite of leather furniture for the den, and my living room furniture we saved about 12%. That's cash back in my pocket.
  • Shopping sample sales at work has been a bonus too. After 9/11, I was working in the corporate area of retail operations. One of the perks of the job was having access to furniture and home decor at sample sale prices - usually cost or significantly below. My entire house is beautifully decorated thanks to The Bombay Company and Pier 1. The trick, of course, is not to buy a sample simply to buy it - you gotta have a plan. (Confession time: a LOT of times, I had no plan.)
  • ING Direct is a great way to save for the future. When I first signed up for an account, the interest rate was about 4.5%. Now it's about 3%, but you get that on ANY amount in your account. Plus they pay you DAILY, so you can literally see it adding up. Sign up and make a deposit and they usually give you $25. Sign up under me, and I get an extra $10 in my account. Then set up a weekly or bi-weekly draft from your checking account and let it be. In no time, you will be rolling in the cash.
  • Dollar Stores - I used to think they were trashy and only for really poor people. Then I went in and was actually AMAZED at the things you can find for about a buck. Name brand shampoos and conditioners, food wrap and containers, scrapbooking stuff, candles, detergent and even toothpaste. Of course some of the stuff is made who-knows-where, but if you look you can find all kinds of bargains.
  • Farmers Markets - one of the best places to find the tastiest LOCAL produce is your farmer's market. If you are close to a big city, there is usually one around somewhere. Here you find freshly picked, locally-grown goodies like beans, tomatoes, peaches, onions, etc. They taste WAY better than what you can get in a grocery store, and you are helping your local farmer stay in business.
  • Friends with chickens - yes, you read that right. When I worked at Bombay, my buddy Steve would bring me some eggs from his chickens. They were always wonderfully fresh with bright yellow yolks. Best part was they were FREE! Sometimes, chickens lay so may eggs people will practically THROW them at you!!!

With the economy today being what it is (and with me being currently unemployed), families really need to find ways to cut costs. Staying afloat is a full-time job for me right now, but we are managing OK. I won't say living without credit is a cake walk - it's not. There are still times I walk into a store and want to buy the latest and greatest (I really want a WII and WII Fit), but those feelings are being tempered with a little bit of wisdom now.

Hey - don't let my mistakes and misfortune become yours. My dad always said that if you lived below your means, you'd always have money in the bank. Boy howdy, it might have taken me 45 years, but that has finally sunk in. Thanks Dad!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Other People's Blogs

If you are like me, you have a few blogs that you frequent every day. Sometimes, it's just a glance into someone else's life - someone you've never met. Other times, it's a friend or acquaintance's blog. Maybe you've seriously looked for it, maybe you happened on it by accident. Sometimes it's a way to catch up, to continue a dialogue started a long time ago. For me, I like to read certain of my friendies's blogs to see what's cooking in their lives. Sometimes it's hard to get together even when you live in the same town! So here's a sampling of some of the blogs I read. You should check them out too!

  • Scriggle's Blog. I met my friend Debi Doodle at my last place of employment (thanks for RIF-ing me, Pier 1). Ever meet a kindred spirit? That's Debi. We are polar opposites on a lot of things, but totally think like one person on a lot of other stuff. What I love about Debi is that SHE GETS ME and my silly, juvenile humor. That's such a bonus. Also, neither one of us has kids, we both have husbands and all that entails, and we like animals (Debi is a cat person, but I don't hold that against her). Debi has knitted TWO pairs of socks (that I know of), yet has never knitted ME a pair. She has been known to knit in public, but has yet to be arrested.

  • Beauty From Ashes is Jennifer's blog. It took almost a year to really get to know Jennifer. We went to the same church before really, REALLY getting to know each other at a scrapbooking retreat. Then we talked all the time, scrapped a lot, and I watched her get pregnant with her FOURTH kid. Well, maybe I didn't WATCH her get pregnant - I was absent for the actual deed - but it was one of the few times I hung with a friend from pretty much conception to birth. Jennifer has four kids that are pretty smart, outspoken and fun to be around. Her boys are really into boobs tho. Jennifer doesn't blog a lot, and maybe this post will shame her into telling us a little more about her life, homeschooling all those kids and just what goes on inside her head.

  • God Writes a Lot of Comedy is Monica's blog. I got to know Monica through Jennifer when I had a little scrapping party at my house. Monica is a very funny Latina chicka who is going to be teaching some very lucky kids how to speak Spanish and write Haiku this fall. Monica is married to a librarian (!?!?) named Luther (HE CRACKS ME UP) and has a very fun kid named Danielito Enrique Escobar Francisco. Once, after a day of crafting at Monicas, Daniel told me that he "really, really loved me". What a sugar booger butter bean (I think it was the dog-shaped brads I gave him to play with) who makes my heart all melty. Anyhoo, Monica's blog is funny, heartwarming, angst-y and sweet - just like she is. All together now: Awwwwww!

  • Kareah's Cake Walk. I don't know Kareah all that well, but she has an infectiously happy spirit and is a totally sweet girl. She likes to go on mission trips to dig wells and snuggle babies, although she has yet to smuggle one home in her suitcase. Her smile lights up a room - literally.

  • Rian is Moody - and so am I! Rian is another girl I met through church a while ago. I have been following her struggle with infertility and miscarriage and finally her triumph - RIAN IS HAVING A BABY BOY!! Her posts are honest and real and full of heartache, pain and, not surprising if you know her, gratitude. She and Josh are going to make great parents.

  • My friend Donna is FragileMom. Mother to three kids with Fragile X Syndrome, she posts about the little triumphs and milestones of her beautiful babies. Donna and Jim are two of the finest people I know - both are very real, open and honest. They are managing the hand that they were dealt with grace.

  • Catching up with Wendy isn't easy because she wears Flying Shoes! Wendy and I got to know each other when we worked at Bombay. Wendy is a mystical, magical woman with wisdom to spare. She moved to Nebraska but I think is coming back to Texas. Maybe then we will actually get to have lunch, even though our fave mexican place just burned down. YIKES.

  • I read Becki's blog because she reminds me of me. Well, a younger, cooler version of me. I like her sense of humor - what what.

  • Larry Powell talks about dogs. And rescue. And those who know me, know that I'm nuts about dogs and totally involved in rescue. A former columnist with the Dallas Morning News, Larry spreads the word about what's happening in the rescue community, highlights special needs dogs, and exposes the general disregard for animals a lot of people have. And when he's done shaming the rats who injure animals, he'll temper his posts with stories of good Samaritans, miraculous recoveries and forgiveness.

  • Dooce. Who DOESN'T read Dooce?

  • PostSecret is a scary-fun-shameful-intriguing look at other people's secrets. Sent to Frank Warren on postcards, you'll see yourself in a lot of these. And guess what - you are totally NOT alone! Updated every Sunday, there's also a link to more postcards on their Facebook page.

  • I read The Pioneer Woman because she reminds me of me. Hey - cattle can be funny. Plus she cooks and is a source for great recipes like this one, which I have renamed Carl's Favorite Sandwich. Try it. Don't forget to invite me over. Seriously.
So, dear reader, this is a little insight into what the heck I read and follow. This list isn't all inclusive, of course, because I am currently unemployed and have a lot of time on my hands. Which means I read a LOT more blogs than this. It also means that I hardly ever get laundry done or supper on the table for the husband. Hey - you have to have priorities, ya know?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If it's Wednesday, there must be cheeseburgers.

There are some things that I know for certain. Some of these things are:

  • If you plan for absolutely every variation for every issue, the one you didn't think of will happen. I guess that means I didn't account for every issue.
  • The Celtics will beat the Lakers in six. HAHAHAHA!
  • If the puppies are finally asleep, someone will ring the doorbell.
  • When you are waiting for a check, the days get reaaaaalllllllllllyyyyyy long.
  • Wednesdays are the best days to catch the clearance poop at Joann.
  • As you get older, it doesn't matter if you count the days between periods, because that whole female-hormone-what-the-hell stuff is just going to eat your lunch.
  • When you pluck one chin hair, eleven more take its place.
  • Just when I think I've got my housekeeping under control, I find another box of crap, old mail, love letters or items purchased at a sample sale. Who the heck needs so much crap???
  • When you clean up your scrap room, you find a whole lot of cool supplies you never even knew you had. SCORE!!!
  • When you have a husband, dishes, laundry and all that other stuff doubles.
  • Whoever said two could live as cheaply as one was a liar.
  • The paperless office is a myth.
  • Free stuff is just that - stuff. You still gotta make room for it.
  • When I buy a loaf of bread, most of the time it's never opened prior to its expiration date.
  • Dogs really don't like taking pills. Why don't they make them all meat flavored?
  • I've probably spent a couple grand on Texas Lotto tickets. I've won probably $200.
  • Using the guest bathroom after your husband practically guarantees that the toilet paper WILL run out and there will be none under the sink. Also, he will be at WORK, and you have to talk upstairs with your pants half down to get some.
  • That dude who was Britney Spears on America's Got Talent was... er... talented.
  • The probability of my cell phone running out of battery life while I am using it: 97%.

OK, that's it for today. There are a million more things I'm pretty darn sure of, and I will get to them at a later date. Thank you, dear Internet reader, for tuning in.

Please send cash, checks or Zoloft.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Old Man and the Shade

Bailey, my oldest dog, is fourteen this summer. That's pretty old in dog years, and finally, after spending so much time in perpetual puppyhood, Bailey is acting his age.

Bailey is the sweetest dog I have ever had. A Newfie/Golden Retriever mix (technically a Flat-Coat Retriever), he has the best termperament. He is a total love bug - adores giving kisses, high fives (or low fives) and getting his big ole' belly rubbed. When he was younger, he would love to swim in the neighbor's pools (shhh - don't tell them!). He has the webbed feet of the Newfie and boy, did he put them to good use. We also gave him a kiddie pool, and there was nothing better for him than laying in that pool catching some rays.

This morning, he fell when he was trying to go outside. His back legs just up and gave out on him and he went "kerploot" on the hardwoods. He couldn't develop any traction, so I had to lift him up. Bailey is not a little thing either - he's almost 130 pounds! After that, he was fine, but he had this look on his face like, "this is SO humiliating..." Poor thing.

Bailey loves to walk about the neighborhood with me. In his advanced age, there is no longer the need for a leash, so I let him out and he moseys along with me. He never goes farther than the corner by himself, and he likes to watch Carl and I unload the car after a shopping trip. Sometimes, I think I see a glimpse of his past, when he would happily hop into the truck, stick his head out the window and drooooool. This boy LOVED riding in the car. Now he can't even get in, even with his little ramp.

It would appear that the time is coming where we will have to let him go. He has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. We rescued him on his last day of life (another story) - and he ended up rescuing us right back.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Retail Therapy

You know, being unemployed has SOME advantages. It's great to be able to shop the sales (both grocery and department store) without the crowds of weekend shoppers. Today, with the help of a bunch of gift cards, I treated myself to a couple hours of retail relaxation.

I picked up some $3 body washes at Bath and Body Works. Carl, my sweet little hubby, likes Coconut Lime Verbena. I know, it's kinda girly, but he really smells delicious after a shower. I kinda like it on him. My favorite is Midnight Pomegranate and Pink Grapefruit. And pretty much anything citrus-y. I also got an aromatherapy body spray - Ylang Rose (or somesuch). Total spent with gift card: $5.24

Chubby chicks of the world unite! Lane Bryant is having a great clearance and sale going on right now and you can use your Real Women Dollars. I got two pairs of capri style sweatpants, a sweatshirt and a very fancy black beaded top - ALL on sale. BONUS: When I told the manager I had just lost my job, she gave me an extra 40% off the black top. All the sportswear was $14.99 - originally $49.50. The black top was $14.99 - regular $59.50. And I had a $25 Real Women Gift card. So I got a $208 worth of cute outfits for a total of: $34.52. BONUS! The manager gave me someone to contact about a job - that was FREE!

OK - now this next store is where I lose a lot of people, but it really is one of my faves. Ross Dress For Less is like a treasure hunt every time I go there. Today was a bonus treasure hunt. I had a small gift card and they were having CLEARANCE, Clarence! I hit the motherlode here: a pair of $60 sandals for $8.99, another really comfy pair of $79 LifeStride sandals for $14.99, three embroidered tee-shirts (on clearance) for $3.99 - $5.99 each and a taupe blouse for $8.99. If I would add up the regular retails, it amounted to $248. My cost with the gifty card: $40.96. Can a girl EVER have too many shoes???

All that shopping made me hungry. So I made a stop at my all-time favorite fast food restaurant: Chick-Fil-A. For the longest time I couldn't pronounce it, but that's just because I am a Yankee and a dork. I always get the same thing - the chicken sammwich, fries and a diet Coke. (Diet Cokes offset the calories in the fries - every girl knows this).

So now I am home, telling you, dearest Internet, about my fabulous day of shopping. For less than $100 ($80.72 to be exact), I got a bunch of cute stuff and plenty of body wash for the next few months.

Now I guess I could do some cleaning and laundry, but honestly, the snoring of the dogs is making me sleepy. Sooooooo sleepy....

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I gotta tell you, leisure is kinda nice.

So, tomorrow will be one week since I was RIF-ed. You know, I am actually feeling OK about it. I'm liking this 'lady of leisure' business. And 'leisure' is totally what I have been enjoying.

Things I have been doing since the RIF:

  • Sleeping past 6:00 AM - usually til 6:30 or 6:45. Thanks doggies.
  • Enjoying odd things in combination for lunch like pot stickers and Golden Grahams (today).
  • Adding points to my Pepsi Points account.
  • Playing games on MSN Live - thanks for the cool tote bag and the speaker thingies!
  • Laundry. This is not as much fun.
  • Thinking about cleaning the carpet. A LOT of thought must go into this before doing any actual work.
  • Chatting it up with Debi and sometimes Tiffany (but she is very busy and important now).
  • Wondering how I accumulated so much CRAP and considering having a garage sale since Monica won't do it for me.
  • Thinking about cleaning my bathroom.
  • Scanning the yellow pages for a haz-mat crew to clean Carl's bathroom. Yes, it's that bad.
  • Dishes.
  • Scanning the ads for jobs that appeal to me. Not too many.
  • Filling out the 125 page form for Challenger, Gray and Christmas. I hope I get a present when it's all over.
  • And other various and sundry things.

  • No wonder I am so tired at the end of the day. All this THINKING. Sheesh.