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 half.com 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?