Saturday, June 16, 2012

Catching up with you

It's been forever since I posted, I know. A lot has happened since then-- I got bangs now.

About 2 months ago I started an intensive CELTA program designed to teach me how to teach. It worked. Or, rather, it got me a job. I graduated and I had 3 job offers in a week. It was pretty amazing, and I'm incredibly grateful for it.

The program was 4 weeks long and took up nearly all of my time. You can find out more about it here. During this time, Jord was trying to finish up his first year and lock down that Master's degree. Right in the middle of all of this, I was trying to fancy up a presentation for one of my classes. This required the use of my laptop. I have a sweet laptop bag that was given to me by a former student of mine, and so I went ahead and used it to carry my precious cargo. Bad idea. The bag, though very nice and snazzy, is not a "running" bag. So, say, you're about to miss the train. This bag will not only ensure that you do, but will snap as you are running and allow you to drop whatever is in it.

My Macbook was in it.

This is the same laptop I've had since 2007, but I love(d) her. Jordan and I had been sharing her for the whole of our marriage. I knew that her time on this earth was running short, but I didn't anticipate her death at my hands*.

Spoiler alert! I broke her that day. Just the backlight. But she wasn't really operable at that point anyways.

Because school was pretty expensive for us we didn't immediately have the funds to fix her. We decided to go ahead and replace just the backlight first and see if we could limp by. After about a week and a half of using library computers for all of our work, we finally got the part in. Jordan installed it after watching a ton of Youtube videos. It was very delicate work**.

After it was in place, we had to team up to put the screen back on. Everything was going well-- until it wasn't. An LCD screen is a gentle beast and does not like to be pressed on with, say, a fat thumb. So that's exactly what I did. So she was operable but she also had this huge black circle right at the tippy top of the screen. Also, there were cracks. Everywhere***.

The story has a happy ending: right after all of this, Jordan called his parents and mentioned the laptop situation; they generously offered to buy us a new one! It was completely unexpected and amazing. We got our newest favorite toy about a month ago and she's perfect. Our old lappy is now being used like desktop. Eventually we would like to replace the entire display and use her like a laptop again. As she's been sitting still on our desk, the black spot hasn't traveled or grown and she's still working great. So no RIP yet. Not yet.

At the end of May I started working for a local language school teaching ESL to adult learners. It's a demanding and rewarding job, natch. I'm gaining a lot of practical teaching knowledge while Jordan is playing househusband.

Oh yeah, ladies. He has dinner ready for me when I walk in the door.

He finished up his semester on a very strong note, and he immediately started looking for a job. If you know George, you know that he can't not be doing something. So he works for a moving company most days and cleans the house the other days.

I've really struggled to keep our expenses low as I've been gone more, but he's really tried to take over the finances/grocery shopping/scratch stuff that I like to do. He hangs loads of laundry to dry, waters our garden and makes fresh bread every day. He's a champ.

He's also really into Minecraft.

Anyways, as this (very cold) summer is winding up, I'm excited to see what it brings. A whole lot of new things, it seems.

*I mean I did see it, but I didn't. I expect most electric things to be dead by my hands in the next 5 years.
**Swears were said
***"It's like a plumbah party"-- said by two girls talking about their cracked iPhone screens. Applicable here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Clothing and Toms Repair

The no new clothing purchase thing has become a challenge (see what I did there?). This is because a). I love buying clothing and b.) all of my things seem to be wearing out. Take my jeans, for instance. I have 3 pairs of jeans that I can wear and they're all wearing out-- the pockets in the back, the knees, that thigh rub area-- you get the idea. My other pants are too large now. I mean, how does one alter corduroys?

I did find a nifty way to hem jeans* without losing the original seam around the bottom. That's the extent of my sewing successes so far. I tried to slim down a pair of pants and I ripped the seams out so many times I thought I was going to cry. Maybe I did cry.

And though a certain type of patching is socially acceptable, I don't think Jord and I would look classy with patches all over our pants. Who cares though, right?
He cares.

I obviously want this experiment to work but I'm willing to purchase new items if I need to. I did, however, have limited success repairing my Toms shoes. I'll be the first one to tell you that I'm a recovering slacktivist and I think the Toms model is seriously lacking, but I do love those shoes. I've had them for about 4 or 5 years and when we first moved here I wore them everywhere. Eventually the soles in both wore out and my left shoe developed a hole near the edge of my foot. I decided that instead of tossing them out or buying new ones I would repair the ones I have.
This is what they looked like.
It took some time, but I think it worked out okay.

First, I took them apart and washed them-- inserts and all. The upper soles are composed 3 layers: the top, thin leather layer; the bottom foam layer; a foam arch support thing. The leather is sewn to the foam and the arch is glued to both; all three are glued to the bottom of the shoe. I took care of the inserts first.

I used a seam ripper to separate the leather from the bottom layer-- I essentially tore one seam out and the thread pulled out on its own. I think this may have more to do with the fact that the shoes are old than with the manufacturing, but it took me less than a minute to undo both leather tops from the bottom layers of the soles. I repaired a tear in one of the bottom layers (it was torn so I did a quick whipstitch around the tear) and used both as a template. This is where things got murky. The bottom layer is made of a foam like material that is very stretchy. After years of wear these bottoms have molded to my foot, which meant that when they were flattened out they were bigger than the actual sole of the shoe. I didn't know this when I was making the new leather sole.

I have a bolt (?) of leather that my mom found for me at a thrift shop. I'm going to use it eventually to make a leather cover for my butterfly chair, but I have plenty extra to fool around with. I cut two pieces from the leather and fashioned a leather top for the sole. It's a little thicker than the tissue paper they use on the inside, but I think it will work out better in the long run. After regluing the arch support to the bottom of the sole I used my sewing machine to run along the outside of the leather to attach it to the foam bottom. 
The insert.

I followed the basic sewing pattern that the original makers used by following the marks in the foam (so it was foam side up when I sewed it). I then placed it in the shoe. It was too dang big.

I trimmed it little by little until it fit perfectly. Same thing happened on the other side. Eventually, I got them snug and tight.

I then took on the tear in the side. After patching it on the inside with a small canvas fabric scrap, I used a small piece of matching red fabric from the inside of the heel of the shoe to repair the hole. The heel fabric is not as thick as the canvas that makes up the rest of the upper, but it is the same color. It's also the only part that is double layered-- I could essentially cut out that piece without damaging the shoe in any visible way.
The replacement.

End game.
So that's it. In the end, they were a little more snug and looked a lot better. Not new, for sure, but better. Eventually the bottom will wear out and I'll get old tire treads and attach them and then repost. I know what my audience is begging for**.

*I essentially have a 17 inch inseam. Stumpies.

Winning Arguments: One Woman's Unhealthy Relationship with Grocery Shopping

If there is one thing I inherited from my mother*, it's my overall disdain for grocery shopping. So it was with great pleasure that I told my husband on Sunday I didn't need to go grocery shopping because I thought we had enough food to last us through the week. 

When I said this, I was full of fries and hamburger patties from our free Burger King lunch**. I was thinking that making bread from scratch and cooking several pounds of chicken would be a fantastic time-- that is, after all, the mark of a homesteader. And he really wants to homestead. But he also doesn't really mind shopping and he wasn't too excited about this. He remembered all the times this hasn't worked out. You can probably make that mental leap without a walk down memory lane with me.

But I'm thinking that any extra money we save this week can boost us next week. For some reason it is so much easier to shop with say, 70$ than it is with 35$. A 70$ trip might mean that we get to go to Costco (squee!). I should probably say here that I've never been to Costco. Or that 35$ can just stay in our pockets. We're expecting a huge expense soon that will drain our savings and so every penny helps, right?

But many of the best Burger King plans are laid to waste when Shakespeare gets hungry. Two days later we bought a 7 dollar pizza for dinner because I forgot to thaw everything.

It's tricksy finding delicious ways to stretch the food we have. I had enough peanut butter for one sandwich. No cheese, eggs, fruit or tomato sauce/paste. I did have a lot of frozen chicken and vegetables. George only eats on campus 2 days a week so I had to come up two meals that weren't leftovers (no microwave) and could handle a beating in a backpack after his bike ride to school. ~~SoO KEwT~~

And so began the day where I made a bunch of food I don't really like to eat to avoid grocery shopping and prove a point.

I had to figure out what can be made and taken to school with what we have. We're out of bread, so I decided to make sourdough rolls and chicken salad. Both are things Jordan likes, and I only like the sourdough rolls part. I decided to make a large batch of both. Bread making is not always fun.

We already had sourdough starter ready, but this was its first use out and sourdough tastes better and better the more you use and feed the starter. I followed a recipe I found online and it took FOREVER to knead it. It was a very sticky dough and difficult to work with, but the end result was-- tada!--very tasty.
Lil' muffin breads (*^▽^*)

I don't like cold salads (categorically), but Jordan does. I had everything I needed to whip it up, and after I cooked up the chicken and let it cool, I shredded it and added the ingredients. Only we were (and still are) out of pretty much every spice. Ack.

Though we had fresh onions (gag), he doesn't like fresh onions in his chicken salad. I ended up adding a little more dill and fennel (which I crushed with mah pestle); I also added spicy brown mustard to taste. His taste. He loved it.
"My wife is hott and smart and that was the best lunch evar"

And sauerkraut. Yes. That.

Cabbage has finally reached its (presumably) lowest price of the year at 19 cents a pound; we got one head. Who eats a lot of cabbage?

Anyways, I'm not a cabbage lover. Boiled cabbage couldn't look or taste less appetizing to me, but it's cheap. Also the sauerkraut. Jord loves him the sauerkraut.

It's actually very simple to make: chop up the cabbage into very small pieces, add kosher salt (1 tbsp to 1 cup) and shove down into a jar. The cabbage and salt become pretty briny right off the bat.
"S" is for salt, ya dingus
 I actually used 3 washed peanut butter jars for this-- I soaked them in a water/vinegar solution first to kill off any of the remaining peanut butter oil smell. They worked perfectly.

The taller one has been sauerkrauting a little longer, and it's obvious to everyone.
And so that's all, really. Not as dramatic as I made it sound to myself.

Today I'm making stock. Hopefully, my bad attitude will carry over. Hurray!

Oh, and we ended up staying under our budget by 46 cents, including the pizza. Boom.

*Also: dramatic phone conversations; caffeine addiction; my magnetic personality and charm
**They were giving out free fries for St. Patrick's and we also had a 10 dollar gift card from Mypoints. So yeah. We got sundaes.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Groceries and Gardens and GIFs

We've finally gotten into a smooth rhythm when it comes to grocery shopping. We try to keep our weekly grocery bill under 35 a week, though that's been a recent achievement. Obviously, it was much easier to keep it low when we lived in the south.

As every Muppet knows, shopping around is the best way to ensure the best prices on food. This is also a way to murder joy.

We have two shops relatively close to us: Stop and Shop and Save-A-Lot. Save-A-Lot is nationwide, I believe, so you probably have seen their empty parking lots as you drive by.

Stop and Shop is a relatively expensive and very conveniently located. I track prices there and can occasionally find pretty good deals. They have a great seafood area, like fresh cod for 2.99 a pound good*, but we don't do a whole lot of shopping there. That leaves, well, you know.

It's not as bad as you might think**.

It's a pretty convenient bus ride away and we buy almost all of our staples from Save-A-Lot. A local bakery sells its day old bread there for 99 cents a loaf. We usually pick up two loaves for the week. Cheese, peanut butter, tomato sauce, eggs… Stop and Shop's rock-bottom sale price is the average price at Save-A-Lot.

But yeah. That place is the Daytona Beach of beaches.

I miss Kroger. I could get free items regularly there. I still have a mini stockpile of health and beauty*** products from my time near a Kroger. This was facilitated by double coupons, owning a car and better deals. I used to wonder about people who chose to shop exclusively at heavy discounters (which is what Save-A-Lot is) instead of just utilizing coupons at big retailers; I see now why people choose to shop this way. It's just easier somehow.

Another thing that factors into our grocery shopping is the fact that we don't have a whole lot of room for convenience purchases anymore. Until I can find a grocery cart abandoned by somebody's grandma on the side of the road, we're hauling it in backpacks. We've just resorted to eliminating boxed foods from our grocery list. It's not always easy or fun. If we want swiss cake rolls or pizza or mac and cheese*** then we make it from scratch. I mean, I don't make the mozzarella or cheddar. That would be obnoxious.

And we don't buy organic, usually****.

So our garden. It's a thing that exists now.

I purchased seeds about a month ago from Walgreens when they were running a 5 packets for 1.00 thing. They didn't have a huge selection (an alarming number of sunflower varieties, though) so I just got what I thought we would like: tomatoes, squash (of the hott summer persuasion), cucumbers, lettuce and peppers.

I've already been growing some parsley and I finally planted this seed paper thing I found in my backpack. I don't really feel like explaining the whole story, so just go with it.

I had 2 little terracotta pots that used to hold basil and thyme. As peppers are supposed to be very persnickety I put them in there. I made additional seed planters from newspaper. This way when I plant them I won't have to remove them from their home-- the newspaper eventually dissolves. Or so I'm told.

I made them by wrapping newspaper around a cup and then folding the bottoms under. The soil keeps them intact, but I still wrapped them in some jute string that I had leftover from the rug. The markers are from a fake credit card I was sent today.

I'm also trying to grow celery from an end-- it's something that is apparently pretty well known in gardening circles. Just chop the end off the celery (the part you would normally throw out), place it in water and plant it when it spouts. I just started it last night, so we'll see.

Overall, I think the highlight of my day was when I opened the bag of soil and involuntarily said "agg! So dirty!" out loud to myself. So there's that.

*Those glassy fish eyes staring at me. Can't do it.
**If you're thinking it's the Myrtle Beach of beaches.
***Dream meal
****I think all the pesticides make me a better person.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring is Here, Woman Sees B.D. Wong Everywhere

Unless you live in Arizona it's a dry cold you are probably experiencing the same fantastic weather we're having up here. The timing of our move was perfect, I guess. I mean I only have light jackets and sweaters, no long johns or anything.

I've slowly been cleaning my house and trying to complete projects that have been bothering me. One of the big ones was an area rug in our little dining nook. My mom found a stack of jute coffee sacks at a yard sale for a few dollars a piece and bought them all. She's pretty clever, and she suggested I make/sew them into some sort of area rug. Or did I come up with that idea? We'll never know. 

I found instagram, you guys.
I took the coffee sacks apart with my bare hands and kept every scrap*, like the true hoarder that I am. No but seriously, I just used the jute twine to bind it together. When my cat Joe isn't perched in a window, chirpin' at the entitled squirrels, he's rootin' around underneath the jute.

In other news, I'm seeing B.D. Wongs everywhere. Does he live in Boston? Someone Google that for me.

I bet he has a fantastic area rug in his home. Made of saxophones.

"I'm in your sweater boxes, just staring"
I'm jinxing the weather by putting away all my sweaters and wool socks. I dragged out our summer clothes and found that I vastly overestimated the amount of summer clothing we own. Or rather, I vastly overestimated the amount of fun, appropriate* clothing we have. 

But how many clothes does one actually need in the summer? Just a few summah shirts, I'm sure. 

We'll see.

*I'm actually keeping them for another project. Squee!

Friday, March 16, 2012

More Spend March

This isn't a surprise for anyone who knows me, but my no-spend March has already been both a giant failure and the most fun. I mean, the very first weekend after my declaration we bought a 6$ pizza. And then Jordan and I went on a spontaneous and awesome trip to NYC to see two of our best friends, other great friends and some of my former students. New York costs money to be sure, but our friends graciously hosted us and we got to experience some of the most awesome free things ever.

Living in a large city is something I think most people desire at some point in their lives. After living in Boston for the past 6 months, I've become accustomed to things like traveling by train and tour groups blocking my way into the 7-Eleven. Visiting New York (which is, to me, a vast wonderland of confusing train lines and wonderful Indian restaurants) reminded me of how lucky I am to have all of these amazing, free opportunities at my fingertips.

Anyways, as this blog is mostly focused on money, I have to say that every penny spent was more than worth it. What is the point of earning and saving if not to enjoy life?

Also, our hosts gave us two things that make our tiny frugal lives even more enriched: Hope taught me how to knit, and Chad let Jordan borrow Skyrim. These are two things that have made our lives so much sweeter the past few days.

In other news, my SAD study officially ended today. It may have been the great weekend I was coming off from, but the study doctors said that they believe I'm well. I gave back my watch and original light and I received an "open label" light to use for the next 6 weeks.

I'm going to miss my lil' Actiwatch.

Though I'm receiving a little bit of compensation for returning the items, I would've done the study for free. I really do feel that it pulled me from a lonely place. The new light they gave me is bright blue (almost blindingly blue) and I'm going to be using it as well. I also want to track my wake and sleep times. The doctor in charge of the study told me that SAD is sneaky; it starts with sleep that isn't restful. This causes later wake up times, throwing off the body's natural circadian rhythms. It's not easy to recognize it early on unless it is being looked for. This upcoming fall I will probably start keeping a wake/sleep diary to make sure I'm not slipping down again. I will also invest in a light. I think that it's totally worth it. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Swagbucks and No Spend March

You guys already know about Swagbucks*, so I won't bore you with the details of how it works. But I did want to let you know that my casual use of it has netted me 165 dollars in Amazon money. I imagine I make an extra 5 dollars a month just searching, so that's cool.

If you're not a member, you should be. That being said, my new favorite thing is the Bing Rewards. I used to do Club Bing and that was boring as heck. In fact, I only cashed in points for airline miles. I can never get that time back again.

They just changed to a new system, so go ahead and check it out already. For simply following directions** I was able to get enough credits for 100 xBox live points. There are a lot points flying around.

Bing searches are pretty much identical to Swagbucks searches (try to stay with me) and the point systems are different and award at different levels. Either way you can fund your various and sundry habits hobbies with little to no interest/work/bandwidth.

So that brings us to March. This month George and I have decided to make it one of those classy "no spend" months. We can obviously spend money on groceries, personal care items and bills. We make the rules here.

Here's why: we used to use a cash only system when Jord brought in cash tips from work. In fact, we literally*** used envelopes. Paper ones. It was a great system, but that's just not the best thing for us right now. Fortunately, Mint is my digital envelopes, if my envelopes reminded me about my upcoming student loan payments.

Mint recently reminded me that we spend a little over 200 dollars on entertainment, eating out and other things that aren't necessary.

We also spent a little over 150 on mystery shopping. We'll get this back, but we're not doing that this month. We may wait until I get paid to start again, and use that as a revolving budget for restaurant shops.

350 extra dollars this month would be fantastic, you know? And when I'm in the middle of it, a quick pizza purchase seems to make a whole lot of sense. And sometimes, it really does. But we're going to try to just put that stuff off for this one month. We'll see how it goes.

Either way, it's just the 1st. Things are looking up.

*Gotcha! Or also:
**Very simple. You do need to know how to read.
***Chris Traeger, anyone?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day and a New Blog Name

In the spirit of our weirdo obsession with having fun on very little money, we ate dinner on a Groupon and ate dessert at a mystery shop. Specifically, we ate dinner at Redbones and dessert at J.P.Licks.

We've had the Groupon for quite a while. In fact, Redbones isn't really a date night type of place* and we didn't really plan to use it for Valentine's. It's also located in one of my favorite areas of Boston, Davis Square. It was a fantastic night.

You don't want to hear anymore about my aWEsomE lyFE.

The mystery shopping thing was spur-of-the-moment. Different programs have different rules, but the one I use most--Goodwin & Associates-- allows shoppers to sign up for shops on the spot. Earlier that day I was perusing my usual frugalz sites (sexy, ya heard?) and saw that there were multiple J.P. Licks shops open. This chain is based out of Jamaica Plain and is known for being very tasty.

But back to my story: I was jonesing for some cheesecake. As Redbones only had pecan pie on the menu grody I decided to hold off and wait until we got to our neighborhood to find some excellent dessert. My intention was to go to Mike's Donuts**. It was closed.

"If we're going all the way down there, why don't we just get some cheesecake ice cream from J.P. Licks?" he says.

"Omg. Hold my coat," I say.

Remembering the open shop assignment, I got on my sexy Android device, read the requirements and signed up, then and there. Actually, I was signing up as I was crossing the street.

It was easy easy. We had to order ice cream and a coffee. We actually ended up 3 dollars richer.

We actually had a no-spend Valentine's Day-- we had to get each other gifts for nothing. We were both pretty successful, I think. Really, it's not that hard to find free things for someone you know well and love. I don't mind spending money for things like Valentine's Day, and I expect there will be many, many years where we spend Valentine's Day in London and St. Lucia. You get me.

And speaking of spending no money, today we cashed in our Papa John's Superbowl pizza. We walked quite a ways to get it, but it was pretty good.

Also, they charged us a nickel. I don't know why.

And finally, all both of you that read this blog may have noticed the name change. I was never fond of the other name(s), and I settled on this as it's a family term for awesomely cool advancements***. I'm trying to advance my life, you know****.

*It's not got sawdust on the floor or peanuts in buckets. It's not, like, Cowboys Seafood, or anything.
***When my youngest brother was very young, he was informed by my father that some vehicles were being manufactured with built in DVD players and little screens in the headrests. His jubilant exclamation-- "That's the future of human cars, man!"-- has entered into our family's lexicon. In fact, I use that phrase as a matter of course to refer to anything that seems particularly technologically advanced. I mean, am I the only one that sees Siri as ushering in a Minority Report-esque future? Probs am!
****In the sexyfun cool frugals way, you know.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

No new clothes. OK.

I've not posted about the no clothes buying in 2012 thing in a while.

I've not really needed to, as I haven't worked outside my house for a while. Jord already has plenty of clothing for school. School clothes, if you will.

When we were packing up our clothing for our move, I got rid of most of our clothes and kept some that needed some slight mending (hemming stuff, or repairing small tears). As we've needed to repair more items, I've just put them aside in a bag in our closet. My intentions are pure; when I sit and watch TV, I mean to bring out my "mending" things and repair them.

I've repaired like one thing.

I've been applying to jobs that would require me to have business-appropriate attire. I believe I have a selection of church clothes that I could wear. Sunday best.

Anyways, it's almost March and I've made one purchase: some snow boots. Surprise! I don't need them this winter.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Freecycle and SAD study

I've now been initiated into the Freecycle clan and I love it.

Freecycle is a brilliant, very simple system in which people get rid of their old stuff (or new stuff). They post about it, other people read about it, and SHAZAM. Free stuff.

I've used Craigslist in a similar way before, but that place is a feeding ground for crazies.

And for some reason, people on Freecycle are nicer. Go figure.

I joined about a week ago (I should have done it months ago!) so I could list some items I wanted to get rid of. While I was there, I perused the "Offers" section. A brand new cheese making kit! Whaaa? I immediately emailed the poster and she said that she had just promised it to another person. Just promised it? This isn't Craigslist behavior. I was already in love.

I didn't have any more luck (though I listed some items of my own) until two days ago. A very kind person had a huge bag of unopened all-natural litter. Just giving it away. I immediately replied and we set it up so I could get it the next morning.

She lives very close to me and so Jord and I trekked out around 8 am to pick it up. It was pretty nice outside and we picked it up and brought it home in under 30 minutes. And the bag was huge, and it was awesome.

As you already know, we make our own litter. It's not particularly fun at all. This was such a welcome change that I basically clicked my heels all the way home.

And speaking of clicking heels, I haven't really felt like doing that much lately. In fact, I've been pretty, well, down in the dumps. After talking it over with my husband and evaluating my behavior I decided to look into light therapy options. I know that I have SAD, but I've not really been in a funk like this before. The light therapy stuff seemed to be the best course of action.

After a quick Google search I stumbled upon a study that is offered by Brigham and Women's Hospital, a very reputable (and close) hospital that has been historically a part of the Harvard Medical area. It is essentially a 6 week study in which I will have a not-yet-on-the-market light therapy device from Philips in my home; I will also keep a diary of my wake/sleep times, wear an activity monitor and use the device at prescribed times.

I went in on Friday to meet with the doctor in charge of the study and I'm going back today to get a physical and to get some blood work done.

Honestly, I can't wait to have this thing. I've felt like a zombie for the past 6-8 weeks (even longer, really) and if this works, I'm going to be clicking my heels for realsies.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Update on Homemade Laundry Detergent and our Gas Bill

So the results are in: it works. Pretty well, too.

It doesn't have a smell, which is strange, and it doesn't foam up. Those are the differences. I've stored it in an old Oxyclean container we had.

But I've amplified its power (occasionally) by doing a long soak. My husband's workout shirts, dish rags and sheets all get an extended soak in the laundry detergent. I find that it cleans just as well as All, Seventh Generation and Purex, and when I do an extended soak it cleans as well as Method and Tide*.

I haven't bought bleach since we've been here. I can, but that means that the trip is sort of wasted**. I did find that it didn't completely remove a red sauce stain on a kitchen towel, and I'm hoping that when I do add bleach I won't really have any more issues. Who knows.

Our dryer is a gas dryer (just like the Amish, natch) and I've been using it lately. I know, I know. My rationale was that we pay a flat rate every month for gas and using the dryer occasionally wouldn't change anything. That was before I found out how it works.

I've never used the balance pay option before, so I thought it worked like this: I pay one flat rate, based on past usage. If I consistently go over or under, they reevaluate my payment and adjust it accordingly. That's not how it works here. The flat rate is one they give to most people. If our usage is under that amount, the "surplus" is stashed away. If we go over, our surplus is used to cover the overage.

We're in that overage.

I've started to hang our laundry again. Trust me, people. There is nothing worse than having cold hands and smashing your fingers on your drying rack.

*My version is dry, and I'm comparing it to liquid. I've heard that in general, liquid detergents work better. So what I'm saying is that my detergent is a champ.
**If my backpack is full of bleach, where will I put my Flavor Blasted Goldfish?

The Library: Weirdness Abounds

Patronizing the library is one of those essential tools for those trying to glean knowledge and entertainment on a budget. It's right up there with stealing boardgames and iTunesU*. Our old library was amazing and tragic. It had about 6 shelves of large print Janet Evanovich novels abutting old issues of Good Housekeeping. That was about it.

But they knew us and loved us. We used inter-library loan a lot, and it became our most common way of getting books. They would applaud as we entered and weep as we left**.

Fast-forward to now: we own an e-reader. The Gutenberg Project has given us over 20000 books we can read whenever we want, and we don't really need the library all that much.

Only I love watching DVDs.

I'm a big fan of watching television series(es?) all the way through but we sold the majority of our DVDs before we moved. So we have 30Rock, Bones and The Office. I want The West Wing, Modern Family and Law and Order: Criminal Intent. I'm hurting here, people.

Though we are taking advantage of the Netflix free month trial we were offered (again), I've been trying to fill in the gaps by using our local library.

And it is working against me.

I'm not talking about the central branch with its Nicola Sacco death mask and perfect copy of the First Folio. No. I'm talking about our local branch.

A branch that shall remain nameless.

The first visit we made to this specific library was odd and uncomfortable because it was packed out with people trying to escape the heat. We decided to go because we didn't have internet yet and we needed to do some banking. I also had to print a shipping label for something that sold on while we were unpacking (accidentally, I guess).

I sat down to the computer and a rather brusque woman comes and tells me that I didn't sign up for a time to sit at the computer.

The computer was open, and there was no line. It turned out that if there was a line, I would have needed to sign up. Since I took the last available computer, a woman who apparently was in a hurry to check her Facebook went and signed up for the line a few seconds after I sat down. She then immediately proceeded to tell the librarian that I cut in said line.

This was explained to me in the most tedious, confusing way possible. Unfortunately, I understood what had happened immediately and had to wait through the 5 minute explanation. The accuser took the computer I vacated, though she eventually got kicked out because she refused to silence her cell phone. I know all this because I saw it all. Waiting in line.

It only got weirder from there. Once, the librarian put extra DVDs on Jord's account because she wanted to. Another time the librarian didn't scan our materials in and we were charged late fees. When I called to see what was up, I was told that at our branch, that's the norm.

And one of the librarians is straight up terrifying.

George worked a library for a while and he talked about people that poop in elevators and sleep behind the stacks. Weird people come to the library all the time. I mean, have you ever used a library bathroom? So I get it. It's just every time we go, they raise the bar a bit higher.

"Oh. You aren't sufficiently creeped out today? I'll go ahead and take this opportunity to flip out on a small child that is standing next to you. That didn't do it? Okay. Next time you're here I'll accuse you of breaking a DVD that you never checked out."

But alas, I had some DVDs due today and I'm trying not to use any extra transit fares. Also, I think I have SAD and I needed the walk. It's about 15 minutes away and the weather was pretty nice.

When I get in, I browse their selection. It's got like 6 copies of She's Gotta Have It and a copy of The History of Baseball. I walked up to the checkout and placed the DVDs I was returning along with a DVD I wanted to check out. I hand over my library card.

She lets out a deep sigh.

Immediately, without a word to me, she leaves and begins talking to the other employee working behind the desk. She brings her over and explains a computer problem she's having. I'm just standing there, looking like an idiot. They work on it for a second and then I guess it's fixed. I'm still just standing there. She looks at me and says "what do you want?"

"I'm returning these and I need to check this out."

"Gimme your card." It's been in her hand for like 10 minutes.

I walk out with my DVD and a guy steps up to the counter. As I walk out she says "All these people coming up here, taking things. They just keep coming."

And he says "If you're going to be rude, I'll just leave."

*Hungry Hungry Hippos, natch.
**That's not even wrong.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weak Coffee and Gardening.

I actually like weak coffee, so all of those above things are fun.

Before we moved from the south, neither of us had a strong desire to drink coffee. Geord likes very strong coffee (i.e. chickory) and will drink it if we're sitting at a Cracker Barrel, but I've always been an orange juice or soda or chocolate milk person*.

Mostly a soda person. A Diet Mountain Dew kind of person.

This is no big secret of mine, and those that know me well could tell you that about me. Maybe that's all they could tell you about me**, but it's a very well known fact.

Boston doesn't really care for DMD. They sell it in overpriced grocery stores but not in vending machines or hotdog stands.

And when we realized we had to hoof it back with this cancer causing drink strapped to our backs, I started to wonder if it was all worth it. -dramatic pause-

Shakespeare gotta get her caffeine.

My mother is a confessed coffee addict, as is the older of my two younger brothers and the girlfriend of said brother. When my mom came up to visit for the first time, she gamely brought instant coffee-- this is something she hates. She'll drink it-- oh yes, she'll drink it-- but she's a traditional coffee drinker at heart.

She was staying for 8 days, and my tender heart couldn't stand to see her mix one more powder into her mug***. The day she arrived, I ordered a 13$ french press from Amazon. I anticipated its continued use during my mom's stay and when my brother comes up to visit.

This little guy makes about 2 cups and has a convenient hook for us to hang him when he's done. While my mom was here it definitely served it's purpose (read: he was in constant use-- we're talking 4-5 times a day). When my mom left, we washed him out and hung him up.

Occasionally we would get him down and whip up a couple of cups, but it was a rarity. As soon as the weather changed, we changed. Suddenly we're drinking coffee like 4 times a week (compared to the everytime everyday schedule I'm on with DMD).

One of the most common money saving tips that makes it to all those helpful top ten lists is to a.) not buy coffee out and b.) reuse your grounds.

As I've never bought a coffee out (once, okay) the first part doesn't really apply to me****. The second part now does.

I don't wholly reuse them, in that I don't use the same exact grounds, no more no less, another time. I add half the amount of fresh grounds before I make a new batch and store the french press in the fridge with the grounds inside. Every few days we clean it out. I guess this stretches our coffee, but I've never had any coffee experiences to compare this with. We're still on the same Starbucks blend coffee we got when my mom was here (2 months ago).

Also, what I said about never wholly reusing them is not entirely true: I accidentally just did that. So weak.

While I'm finishing up this weak cup, I look over and see a seed packet on our counter. We're planning on starting a garden this late winter/spring. We don't have excellent prices on produce-- in fact, things that are seasonal, like carrots and cabbage, are ridiculously expensive at our local grocery stores. We're limited in our store choices (after all, we're limited in our money right now), so we've decided to grow some of our own. Hopefully we'll have enough to feed ourselves, though we know we'll have access to a local farmer's market in the summer that has pretty good prices*****.

We're planning on growing tomatoes, arugula, zucchini and squash. These things are supposed to be pretty low maintenance and grow well in containers.

After seeing a post on growing celery from the chopped off ends, I may do that too. I'm not sure-- I helped out with a pretty large garden when I was young and I really didn't like it. Now I'm all excited. Hm. This may not last.

Anyways, my constant goal is to keep our grocery budget for two people under 100 a month. I haven't been able to do that (well, this week being the exception) since we got here. I think a garden will be the just the thing.

*I'm also other kinds of people. I'm a Abraham Lincoln person. Also a basketball and sleeping-in person.
**They might know about my obsession with videos featuring cats, but I don't know. I don't want to speak for them.
***She was on like her eighth one. Also I tried it.
****I regret it to this day.
*****We only got to go on the very last day. We were exploring our neighborhood and stumbled on it. They gave us mounds of leftover produce for 5$.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The End of the Month Challenge

Today I finally felt like doing financial stuff. We're coming up on our 6 month Boston anniversary and I'm just now taking care of business.

Before we moved, I knew where every cent we earned went. I analyzed auto drafts, meter readings, gas costs and interest rates on our accounts.

Lately I haven't really felt like it. I haven't really felt like doing anything, but the lack of concern I had over our finances was disconcerting.

So today, after seeing the enormous amount* of money we just had sitting in our ING checking account, I realized how careless I had been. We weren't writing down transactions, and because we knew that we had this huge cushion I wasn't too bothered with curbing my impulsive buys. I know I may not seem like an impulsive type of person (lol), but I do sometimes just arbitrarily travel on the T for no reason (at like 1.70 a pop) or get a snack while I'm out.

Now I pretty much have to track it, kind of.

After putting everything where it needed to go**, here's the final tally:
39.00 in ING checking
29.00 in Citizen's checking
22.00 in cash money
23.62 on a Visa gift card
like 3 bucks in change. =116

Here is our schedule:
Dinner at a friend's tonight
Dinner out with friends tomorrow
Grocery trip
Small group thing on Tuesday
Jordan's school travels. =37.60 in transit fare (bare minimum)

That leaves 78 dollars for our monetary commitments:
Snacks for said dinner: 12.00
Dinner out: 30.00
Groceries: 35.00
Ship birthday gifts: I've got 1 doll hair. That's probably going to have to wait.

I kind of like doing this, really. Is that odd? I hope so. I probably think it's fun because I can transfer money from savings at anytime, so we're not all close to the edge.

When we were first married I sold my beloved jeep to pay rent. We were very close to the edge then and we didn't really know it. We had pity parties about not being able to order pizzas or see movies, but we mostly just enjoyed being broke and finding fun, free things to do. We also had family nearby and we ate meals with them frequently. In fact, I don't think my parents knew how broke we were until way later.

We normally don't eat out (with the exception of mystery shopping) or get invited to other people's house to eat***, but this week was different.

*Specifically, more than 125$ and less than 30,000$.
**We use ING subaccounts as a way to prepare for, say, large bills and stuff.
***We may be a little uncouth.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What is this? A school for ants?

I generally read a few money blogs each day, each with their own spin on being frugal or saving money or whatever. I can list them if you want, but you probably read the same ones I do.

Today, my bfflylas* and I were discussing our bikes-- we have 2-- and figuring out a way to further incorporate them into our lives.

You see, we have no cars. This can really be a pain sometimes. As fortunate as we are to have public transit, I don't want to be paying 1.70 every time I want to go to the grocery store (which is less than 3 miles away). I would much rather ride my bike, fashionably wave at all the cars on the road and zip through red lights. Just kidding about the red lights.

I could talk about bikes all day, but the original story is this: I was looking for a post I had seen on another blog that linked to a .pdf (keep up) that is a pretty comprehensive guide for repairing bikes.

I could get a library book but I'm tucked in, all nice and warm. I want it to come to me.

About 3 search results down, I noticed this post about "saving money."

I truly loled.

It contains brilliant gems like "consider buying used CDs if you can" (were they never 13 years old with a little pocket money?) or "be smart when you grocery shop (?)."

Who doesn't think of these things first? What individual is trying to save money but still buys full-priced coffee while buying CDs off the rack from FYE? Anyone looking for ways to save has obviously already thought of this stupid stuff.

There are a million sites that say the same thing all the time, and I get bored. I'm not always looking for posts that talk about reusable toilet paper**, but I am looking for individuals who have found creative and applicable ways to streamline finances and increase savings. I promise you, someone who has as much debt as we do should not be out buying CDs at all. We're listening to Pandora and getting albums free from Amazon.

I'm on a high horse (I wish I had a horse) I guess, but what I'm saying is this: owing money to someone means that I really shouldn't be spending a whole lot of money elsewhere. It's like when you give your friend 20 bucks. You know they probably won't pay you back, but they say they will and you feel sorry for them. You eventually ask for your money back-- you need money, too-- and they tell you they can't pay up. They have car problems or need groceries or whatever. You're fine with that.

They buy tickets to an expensive concert a week later. You hear about it, you get angry.

You know there are extenuating circumstances or that they will pay when they can. But you're still angry.

You know that if really pushed, they could come up with the 20 to pay you back. And that's how I feel about my debts. Right now, I owe Sallie Mae*** money. Money I borrowed and used for college, and money I borrowed and used to buy clothing. I spent recklessly, and I feel that until I am no longer a borrower, I need to try my best to not spend frivolously.

I may break down and eventually list my "top ten ways to save all your money and not spend a dime and feel like a champ," but I hope that it's full of information that, if not practical, is at least novel.

**This is not something I practice, but it's not as rare as you would think.
***I realize Sallie Mae is a giant that probably wants me to be indebted to them forever, but I think the principle stands either way.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Homemade Cat Litter

I realize that you may now think I'm a podperson, but I really do make my own cat litter*.

It's pretty simple, though not easy. There is a bit of time involved, but it really has become a part of our life.

Back in the glorious days of their youth, the kittens used clay litter. The kind you can scoop. It's not really super expensive, and as they are brothers from the same litter, they have always used the same box**. This requires only one box of litter to be purchased at a time.

After some soul searching (and gut-wrenching guilt from watching polar ice caps melt before our very eyes) we decided to go with biodegradable, natural cat litter. Also, cats apparently lick their paws with vigor, hoping to ingest litter particles for fun***.

The thing is, natural litter is a bit more expensive. We've done World's Best (corn), Arm and Hammer Naturals (wheat), and another wheat and one that uses volcanic rock (it was awful).

Also, it doesn't last as long. There. I said it.

We try to scoop everyday and change every week. It was starting to add up. With coupons and deals (and even a rebate, in one case), it was still turning into a 7-10 dollar expense every 10 days. That's a 30 dollar monthly expense, which is cool. Whatever. I can spend more than that at Taco Bell.


After exercising my right to appear ignorant of natural solutions in public, I Googled "homemade cat litter"*****. This basic recipe appeared:

2 complete newspapers, shredded
tsp dish detergent
1 cup baking soda

Essentially, after shredding the newspaper, you put it in a bucket that has a small amount of detergent and about 2 quarts water in it. This is to a.) remove some of the ink from the paper and b.) provide a surface for the baking soda to cling to.

Once swished a little bit, you squeeze out the water (it looks like gray, nasty clumps) and sprinkle the baking soda over top (I do this in another bucket). I separate the clumps, make sure the baking soda is lightly coating it, and place it over the screen (actually a torn window screen we found), making sure it's laid out evenly to dry.

It takes about 2 days to dry completely, so after the initial dampness wears off we move the screen somewhere else convenient and wait.

It ends up looking a little like, well, crumpled up, stiff newspaper. The baking soda, once dried on, does not come off. Initially, we slowly added to our cats' original litter until they were used to it, and now they use it with no problems. Oh do they use it.

Because the newspaper has been slightly treated beforehand (soaking, adding baking soda) it doesn't cling to their paws like regular newspaper does******.

Caveat: we already buy a paper for coupons. We get the Sunday Boston Globe, but free and old newspapers are all around for the taking. If we didn't already do this, we would get our source materials the free way (or freewise, if you will).

After doing some experimenting, we've cut down on the baking soda and detergent a little. It comes out costing (with the paper included) 0.89 for a week's worth.

It takes a little under an hour of hands-on time to do, and so my hourly wage is anywhere from 6-8 dollars an hour.

Yes, there are better ways to spend my time. Yes, manufactured cat litter is a modern wonder.

But I have way more time than money, at least right now.

*This is my assumption concerning podpeople. Feel free to prove me wrong.
**This may eventually change. Cats are ridiculous little creatures that have as many whims as they have whiskers (sokewt!)
***Cuss you, marketing experts!
****...spend it on litter. I will always want to spend it on Taco Bell.
*****Obviously, there were plus (+) signs all up in that search. I really only know 1 way.
******It's like a little kitty ticker tape parade, but with no candy or celebrations. Just sweeping.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Getting Through Graduate School Without Debt Part 1

We've been on a winter break lately (me without a real job, Jorge's school break) and today, he decided to brave the frosty 45 degree (!) Boston weather* to take care of some school business.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am 2 years older than my spouse. I did one thing with that extra time-- I went to graduate school while he finished his undergrad. We're in the same discipline, though we prefer different periods**. It was not a great experience for me. I was young, whiny and horrible with money, so that even though I went to school in my hometown and lived with my longsuffering parents, had a fellowship and stipend, I still accrued debt.

We got married the week we both graduated (would not recommend), and we soon found that in our case, 1 frugal+1 spendthrift=2 frugalz***.

My stipend gave me a little cash through the summer, so while he slaved away at odd jobs (he was planning on going to school but wanted to take a year off), I found the lovely, entrancing, time warp that is being smart with money. All of our debts are my debts, and they amount to quite a lot. At the time, almost 60000 in student loans and a little on the credit card. It's overwhelming, especially when we were really only able to land jobs that paid slightly more than minimum wage.

Anyways, flash forward 6 months. I have a job teaching high school (awesome) and he's working at Papa Johns as a driver. Yes. My brilliant husband is delivering pizzas. And he's cool with it.

He takes the time he has during the day to study for the GRE subject test and write purpose statements. He only applied to schools that offered funding (it's a bit rarer in the Humanities) and researched schools that would provide him with the best footing for a later academic career. He spent 2 years doing this.

Out of the 12 schools he applied to, he got into 5. The very first one he got into, he loved. We moved to Boston later that year.

Today, he comes home from running errands and tells me that he's managed to get every single book he'll need for the next semester at the library today.

I'm in love.

*Srsly, it's like a Florida winter outside.
**He's 20th century American, I'm 21st century British magical school.
***In this equation, I am the former spendthrift.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Bombsniffer at work.
Huzza! My materials are here!

The story behind this one isn't long, but it is boring.

Homemade laundry detergent may be something you think gold buyers who are waiting for the tribulation do, but I do it too. I mean, now I do.

When I lived in the Ktown near my folks, I usually did my laundry at my parents' house*. They have a fancy HE washer that really cleans clothes, and so when I would purchase laundry detergent I would try to get something that more than I liked. Like Tide or something. I would use coupons and deals and all that, and I would haul it there in my car. When we moved here, I no longer had a car, but I did have a washer.

I had a stash of detergent when I first moved here that was given to me by people or that I found for free or whatever. I also had a dozen detergent samples from Gain and Tide that I had saved up. This was a smart move on my part (natch) because right before we left for Christmas, we were down to the dregs of our stash.**

This, added to the fact that I have no desire to haul a big ol' box or jug of detergent to my house, prompted me to look for alternatives. Obviously, I had heard of making it from scratch before. We had pretty hard water where we used to live, and detergent that didn't have brighteners added (i.e., anything but manufactured detergent) would make our whites look dingy.

Also, I didn't really want to make it.

I'm limited on good methods of acquiring laundry detergent at an affordable price. The cheapest brands here (like Sun) are essentially water and cost about 8 cents a load. Tide powder (bought in fat, heavy bulk) costs 13 cents, and All or Arm and Hammer liquids cost about 9.5 cents a load.

Those prices are definitely reasonable.

But in accordance with my aggressive debt repayment plan**, I decided to examine my options. Thus the dry powdered version of homemade detergent was born. I mean I didn't birth it. It was birthed by other bloggers.

Anyways, we have soft water, I have a large quantity of Ivory soap (got for free, made it all the way up north) and several Amazon gift cards for Christmas***.

I'll keep you posted.

Technically, I did have a washer. A WONDERWASHER.
**Actually, the first few loads of our laundry were free because there were some discarded bottles in the laundry room, left there by the previous tenant. I sat them on their heads, filled them up with water, all that stuff. I got like 7 loads out of that business.
***I'll explain in a later post, but it's mostly crazy talk.
****Thanks mom and dad! Also B&A!

Baking Bread

Geord did it, so I think it's delightful!

I was lucky enough to meet an individual who enjoys cooking and baking for the sake of cooking and baking. I hate it. Unless it's macaroni and cheese*.

We literally don't have room for a bread machine or stand mixer (though the new pantry area might change that). Instead, we have a dough whisk that was given to us by my mother-in-law. It really is amazing.

The thing about baking bread is that it requires a lot of kneading. He did a fantastic job, and we munched all night. We had already eaten what I consider to be a pretty expensive meal, considering that we had straight up top sirloin**, but it was all good. His one request is that we add 10 dollars to our grocery budget a week. That would put us up to the earth shattering 35$.

I'm adjusting.

*Homemade, but with off-brand Velveeta. So good.
**It was a bogo offer from Stop and Shop so I ended up getting it for 3$ a lb, going over my usual 2.59 limit for red meats. Cuss!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

June 2012: The Month My Husband is Finally Forced to Shop Naked

He wouldn't do it. He's an introvert*.

After unpacking all of our giftsies from Christmas, Geord and I** decided we were going to clean the closet, rearrange a few things. As I hung up dress pants and folded sweaters, I was again blown away by how many dumb clothes we have.


I was alerted to this by hanging up another pair of his dress pants and I was like "lol, you have more clothes than I do".

When we moved up here, we sold off a ton of clothes and donated even more. I felt like we truly curated our collection to things we have or had worn in the past 6-12 months. This includes fancy jackets. We also sold my chest of drawers*** and I've been using the closet exclusively to organize my belongings. My shoes are under the bed, his are under his dresser/former automotive storage container****.

I hung up wool coats, wool blend cardigans, fancy plaid ties, multiple t-shirts, skirts I don't wear... You get me.

So this year we're not going to buy any more clothes. All of 2012 is wrapped in the loving cotton and polyester goodness that is our current collection of t-shirts and basketball shorts.

Caveat: I have been losing a little bit of weight over the past few months, and I don't plan on stopping soon. This problem has a solution: tailoring.

I've been researching ways to tailor clothing. Google it. It's amazing what creative people with expensive machinery can accomplish.

Pants may be problematic.

We'll see how it goes. I already have a few projects upcoming, and I'll probably take some pictures or something.

*We took a personality test. On an extrovert scale from 1 to 100, he scored a 6.
**Our marriage is a happy one, full of me conscripting him into my clothes folding navy.
***chester drawers?
****Our current one is an old secretary's desk that was in my parent's garage, holding automobile oil and tools. My mom and I refinished it one afternoon. If you're thinking "man. A nice antique in a garage? Seems unnecessary," your head will asplode when you see the amazing antiques they actually put in their house.

Making the Cheddar Money

Or, making that cheddar.

I recently "lost" a job that wasn't technically a job as much as it was an exercise in fun-slaying. After leaving my favorite job of all time, teaching high schoolers English literature, I decided to work on a different skill set.

I've read in multiple online places that freelance writing for online companies is where its at. I trust what is written online probably 100% of the time*. I'm still a rook, but basically this is where companies that generate online content--often called "content mills"-- look to secure good writing for their websites by paying by the word or length or whatever. There are plenty of sites that do this. The problem is that content mills don't really pay all that much-- perhaps 1 cent a word. This is also while they demand perfect grammar, creative organization and content, and expert research. It's not always worth it.

Anyways, to get back to my story, I worked for a company that was pretty well known for being a bunch of baby jerks. They paid pretty well per word-- 3 cents-- and paid consistently. They also fire and hire once every quarter. I knew it was coming, and after putting in some insane time around the holidays, I got a polite email asking me to get lost.

I was relieved.

Fortunately, the money that George makes is more than enough for us. I put all my money into paying off debt, and it's been good. Now I'm left finding another job.

I applied to a few editing jobs yesterday and a copywriting job a second ago. Both of these are on-site. I hate that. I don't hate working at an establishment, I just hate paying for transit and clothing and I hate being stressed. I'm a big whiny brat right now.

*I have suspicions that I was not the 1 millionth visitor from Massachusetts.

New Year, Rearranged Office Space

A new year has begun and I've already consumed a box of Cheez-Its and rearranged some office furniture. It's as fun as you think it is.

Anyways, the true reason for rearranging everything is that I am clearing out our impossibly small office space to make a storage room and pantry area. I've been wanting to do this for a while, because our kitchen is too small to accommodate all the boxes of macaroni and cheese I want to buy. Or flour and canned goods.

Up to this point, I haven't really had enough food to warrant this type of change. We don't have a car and we don't live very close to any grocery stores. This necessitates a pretty lengthy walk with backpacks and cloth bags full of staples every week. It's pretty tiresome. Though I must say, the new backpack given to us by my younger brother is definitely helpful. We actually put off buying one until Christmas because we knew we could get it for free-- now it's hard to see how we made it without it.

We moved a larger bookcase in the room to hold extra food, and this room will also serve to hold our recyclables (and deposit bottles) along with our seed planters and compost...jar? I've found a few cool ones online that have charcoal filters to keep the smell down. I'm not so worried about that. I think, after reading my 61st article about composting last night, that I'll be able to do it correctly. WITH WORMS*.

We've got several projects in the works right now, but most of them center on getting Skyrim for keepsies. Other projects are things like making money and gardening, which are boring and frugal.

*or slugs? Which is cheaper?