Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Part 1 of My First Ever Spending Freeze

Three weeks ago I decided that I needed to do a big time spending freeze.  Even though I had more money than normal in savings, I wanted to be able to keep it that way.  Plus, I have a trip to Denver coming up in June that I wanted to make sure I could still afford come then.  I decided to do the spending freeze over 2 pay periods because I had hurt myself big time within the first week of the first pay period because of 2 concerts & because I wanted to come out ahead, not just break even.

So the first part of my spending freeze spanned March 30 - April 19 & allowed for 3 exceptions: Big Texas Beer Festival, my Houston trip, & eating out on nights I had grad school.  Here's how I did.

Week 1: 3/30-4/5
Thursday March 30: I spent $0.

Friday March 31: I spent $13 at happy hour & $7.57 on beer for kickball.  I spent $20.57

Saturday April 1: I spent $28.05 on Uber.  That's also all I spent at all of the beer festival.  I also spent $2 at the airport dropping my friend off.  I spent $30.05

Sunday April 2: I spent $18.40 on groceries.

Monday April 3: I spent $0

Tuesday April 4: I spent $0

Wednesday April 5: I spent $7.55 at Old Chicago because I won a free calzone but then felt bad not paying for something so I got a beer.  I also spent $21.83 on groceries & $30.44 on gas.  I spent $59.82

Total: I spent $128.84 (70.67 was on necessities, 28.05 was 100% an exception, 28.12 was questionable adjusted exceptions, & 2 was just unplanned.)

I had made eating out before/going out after class on Thursdays an exception.  I did not spend anything on Thursday so I justified the going out Friday & the beer with my free calzone Wednesday.

Week 2: 4/6-4/12
Thursday April 6: I spent $7.76 on supper before grad school

Friday April 7: I spent $21.35 on going out after kickball, but got $10 in cash for it from a friend, & justified it because I didn't go out after class on Thursday.  I also spent $33.47 on an oil change which was not planned but 100% necessary because I realized it had been 7000 miles since my last one.  I spent $44.82

Saturday April 8: I spent $25.27 on groceries & $ 11.41 on gas.  I spent $36.68

Sunday April 9: I spent $0

Monday April 10: I spent $0

Tuesday April 11: I spent $0

Wednesday April 12: I spent $0

Total: I spent $89.26 (70.15 was on necessities, 7.76 was 100% an exception, & 11.35 was a questionable adjusted exception)

Just like with the first week I didn't go out after grad school on Thursday so even though I did eat supper before class, I justified going out after kickball on Friday because I didn't go out after class Thursday.

Week 3: 4/13-4/19
Thursday April 13: I spent $0

Friday April 14: I spent $29.07 on gas, got $20 out of an ATM with a $2.95 fee, $2.21 at a gas station getting water & a snack, & $78.42 eating & going out in Houston.  I spent $132.65

Saturday April 15: I spent $28.84 on gas, $10.52 getting food & drinks at gas stations, $35.69 eating out & on souvenir type things in Houston, & $6.62 on groceries.  I spent $81.67

Sunday April 16: I spent $27.68 on groceries

Monday April 17: I spent $9.07 on eating out

Tuesday April 18: I spent $31.38 on gas

Wednesday April 19: I spent $0

Total: I spent $282.45 (123.59 was on necessities, 149.79 was for Houston which was an exception, & 9.07 was flat out not allowed)

Full disclosure: I also spent
$89.50 on a hotel room in Dallas (but it came out of my Houston Savings)
$296.40 on a plane ticket (but it was for a wedding I'm in & because it's over a holiday weekend I was too afraid to wait until the end of May to book came out of savings)
$216.45 on new brakes which came out of savings

Overall I don't think I did too bad.  I didn't go insane with my exceptions, I ate out a lot less than I normally do, & spent less on eating out when I did go out.  Of course the brakes were definitely unexpected & the plane ticket is not a normal expense.  I know those are the things that my savings are for but it still hurts to pull from there.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I'm Twenty-Eight...And A Half!

I can't believe it's already been 6 months since my birthday!  Why does time just keep getting faster & faster??  When I last checked in back in January I had 7 completed, 6 in progress, 1 failed, & 15 not started.  So let's see what I've gotten done in the past 3 months.

1. Pay off my car [#23 on 101 in 1001]
(When I got my tax refund in February I used part of it to pay off the rest of my car)

2. Go to CA, WA, or OR [#47 on 101 in 1001]

3. Donate blood 3 times [#42 on 101 in 1001]
(I had my first appointment back in January right after I posted my check in & just had my 2nd one this past Saturday)

4. Make a pie on Pi Day [#60 on 101 in 1001
(So I even blogged about pie recipes for Pi Day, but I wound up hanging out with friends instead of making one)

5. Run a 5k [#24 on 101 in 1001]

6. Have credit card debt at 5k or less [#69 on 101 in 1001]
(I don't really know why I hadn't marked this one as in progress last time...this is always in progress...)

7. Have student loans at 60k or less [#2 on 101 in 1001]
(See above)

8. Spend NYE with a S/O [#13 on 101 in 1001]

9. Eat at 24 new bars/restaurants [#21 on 101 in 1001]

10. Track spending for a month [#28 on 101 in 1001]
(I've gone back to doing this every month like I used to)

11. Get my own place
(On February 11 I moved into my own place...I still haven't given an apartment tour...)

12. Go ziplining [#51 on 101 in 1001]

13. Attend Austin City Limits [#55 on 101 in 1001]

14. Watch the sunrise on New Year's Day [#81 on 101 in 1001]

15. Send out Christmas cards [#86 on 101 in 1001]

16. Do a spending freeze for a month [#92 on 101 in 1001]
(I guess technically this is finished because I said for a month, but I'm doing mine for 2 months so I'm done on May 20)

17. Finish my Netflix watch list [#99 on 101 in 1001]
(Last time I had 2 seasons left of Shameless & had the following 9 shows to start afterwards: Orange Is The New Black, Grey's, House of Cards, Mad Men, Scandal, Dexter, Private Practice, & Narcos.  I got rid of Narcos because I couldn't deal with the having to read the subtitles to watch it.  I had started watching Mad Men & got 6 episodes in but then started watching Scandal instead)

18. Read 24 books [#9/10 on 101 in 1001]

19. Do a 30 day fitness challenge [#15 on 101 in 1001]
(I'm doing 30 miles in 30 days, & while I'm well over the 30 miles, I've basically changed it to at least a mile a day so I'll be done after the 30th)

20. Complete 52 week money challenge [#20 on 101 in 1001]
(I'm not technically doing this... I just put money in savings every pay day rather than weekly.  So as long as I have at least the $1378 in savings by the end that I would if I was doing this, I'm calling it a win)

21. Have $500 in savings [#44 on 101 in 1001]

22. Photograph the same spot each season [#59 on 101 in 1001]
(I couldn't decide where I wanted to I didn't...)

23. Visit a new ballpark [#62 on 101 in 1001]

23. Attend 2 MLB games [#63 on 101 in 1001]

24. Run a 1/2 marathon [#66 on 101 in 1001]

25. Sing karaoke [#67 on 101 in 1001]

26. Watch 2 movies in a theater in 1 day [#71 on 101 in 1001]

27. Build a snowman [#84 on 101 in 1001]

28. Take motorcycle license class [#26 on 101 in 1001]

29. Visit 3 museums [#31 on 101 in 1001]

Pass: 10
In Progress: 8
Failed: 2

I got an additional 3 completed & now only have 9 not started instead of 15.  By the time my next check in rolls around I'm expecting to have #3, #16, #19, & #22 completed for sure.  There are another 3 that I could also complete without much effort.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Scandal, Stockyards, & Shenanigans

This post brought to you late because I was already up until midnight as it was yesterday & staying up later to type this up was not a priority.  I hope that y'all had a fabulous weekend & that you're having a great Monday!  Linking up with Biana!

Friday was rough.  I was tired.  My kids were extra on my nerves.  I just wanted to go home.  So, when one of my coworkers asked if I wanted to go out for lunch I abandoned the lunch I brought with me, & the fact that I'm on a spending freeze, and went to Taco Bell with a couple of my coworkers.  I had plans of going to senior night/the last softball game of the season for my softball girls from last year.  However around 5 I was notified that there was no longer going to be a JV game & the varsity game had been moved up to 5.  There was no way I was going to make it over there in time so sadly I missed it.  So instead, I went to the store, bought myself a bottle of wine, discounted Easter candy, & jalapeno poppers.  Supper of champions I tell ya!  So it was me, some junk food, wine, & Scandal for the rest of the night.  Side note:  While I was standing at the register the ONE Cadbury egg I had rolled off the box of poppers & under the register.  I stood there laughing to myself & thought maybe that was God's way of saying that I didn't need the egg... then I thought "nah!" & walked back to the Easter candy & grabbed TWO eggs!  BOOM!

In the morning I sat on my balcony to eat breakfast & enjoy my coffee.  I was going to sit out there & watch Scandal but for some reason it was about 30 degrees cooler than it had been the day before so instead I went back inside to watch Scandal after my breakfast.  I had an appointment to donate blood at 12:30 but it was so packed in there that It was probably 1 before I got to start the process.  Luckily I'm a pro & can fill a bag in about 5 min because I had plans to meet my friend Katherine at Babe's Chicken for lunch.  I had never been there & she was really craving it.  It was really good!  And because it's family style we had leftovers so I got to bring some chicken home.  When we left I was going to take a little nap & then watch more Scandal before meeting up again that night.  However, I basically just took a nap & then got ready.  We met up in the Stockyards & hung out there for the night.  While we were at the first bar we made some friends from Kansas & then hung out with them for the rest of the night.  Because I love food & obsessed with Ol' South Pancake House, I convinced everyone to go out for after bar breakfast so that I could get a skillet.

I was useless.  I was going to get so much done but I was so tired & hungover most of the day that I did nothing.  I napped a lot & watched even more Scandal.  Around 4:30 I asked my friend if he wanted to get food but he said he had plans.  Not even 30 minutes later he text me back & we then had plans.  We tried to go to the Fort Worth Arts Fesitval but it was the last day & almost over so most of the booths were packing up.  We hit up Chimera Brewing which neither of us had been to.  They had nothing my friend wanted so after my beer we headed to Hop Fusion.  It was a really cool place!  I really wanted crawfish because I hadn't gotten any while I was in Houston so we headed to Dallas so we could get some.  The shenanigans then continued to Steel City Pops & then the Crafty Irishman.  Around 11 we finally left because I had to be up at 5 this morning.  Around midnight I finally got home & immediately went to bed.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Short Weeks Always Feel Longer

Why is is that short weeks seem to take longer to get through than normal weeks?  I hope that y'all had a great week & have an even better weekend!  You can follow along with my adventures on Instagram & Snapchat: nrthmeetssouthe  Use #mylifeas so I can see what your day to day life is like as well!  Linking up with Amanda!

What I Was Up To
Monday The students didn't have school but the teachers did.  Surprisingly the day went by really quickly.  I feel like normally staff development drags on & on.  It probably helped that I got to actually be with teacher friends instead of random teachers.  For lunch we all went to Applebees & I had a Quesadilla Burger for the first time in forever.  Without even realizing it I managed to get it for cheaper than usual saving myself like $4 because apparently all burger meals are $6.99 on Mondays.  At the end of the day I went home, immediately changed, & tried to take a little nap.  I wasn't actually able to nap so I decided to get up, watch some Netflix, & prep my breakfasts for the week.  I wound up going to bed around 9 & pretty much passed out immediately.  The older I get the longer it takes me to catch up on missed sleep.  

THE BLOG: I gave a brief recap of Easter weekend.

Next year the district I work in will be going to standardized lesson plans

Tuesday I tried out Amazon Prime Now for the first time.  I had a $15 gift card to Amazon from Swagbucks & got $10 off for it being my first time using it.  I was able to get a new Brita Water Bottle, some Glade refills for my classroom, as well as a new lotion for my classroom for about $12...but actually for free because gift cards.  The best part it was delivered that night.  I could've had it earlier in the day but wanted to make sure I'd be home when they showed up.   I started watching Scandal on my conference period & then wound up staying up until 10-10:30 that night watching more of it.  I even had it on while I was washing dishes.  I am officially addicted. & want to BE Olivia Pope when I grow up.  Thanks to Teh Megan I finally decided to get my ass in gear & start working on my to-do list.  Hence the dishes...

THE BLOG: I shared a song by The Cadillac Three from my other blog

Wednesday I about lost it on some of my kids.  Biggest pet peeve?  When I've verbally explained something, given them the written directions, & then instead of listening and/or reading, they ask questions to which the answers are right in front of them.  Similarly, when they need to find answers for an assignment that would be super easy to find if they would just take the .2 seconds to look it up, they go "Miss what's the answer to this?" AHHHH!  I stayed my extra hour watching Scandal & then went home to watch even more Scandal staying up far too late again.  By far too late I mean 10:30ish.  I didn't see the game because I don't have TV or cable but the MN Wild somehow managed to save themselves from round 1 elimination against the St. Louis Blues last night.  The series now stands at 3-1 which means they have to win all of the last three games in order to move on.  If they lose even one it's over.

THE BLOG: I laid out where I ate, stayed, & what I did while I was in Houston

Thursday while my kids worked on their projects I worked on cleaning out file cabinets.  When I took over this classroom in January, the teacher before me told me that previous teachers had left a ton of stuff in the filing cabinets.  I never really looked at it.  Well with the year coming to a close I decided to dive into it.  Oh my goodness they're a mess.  A couple have a neat filing system but were so jam packed full of stuff.  So I've been working on throwing out the unnecessary stuff & then recycling all but one copy of each paper in the file folders.  That way if I stay it's already neat & tidy for next year, making it easier to sort through & put in an order that makes sense for the year.  And, if I don't stay, I have every intention of taking the stuff with me.  Or at minimum making a copy of everything to take with me.  Seriously, that stuff has been in there for years.  I know this because the guy that I replaced didn't put anything in there & he was here for a few years.  So clearly no one has been using it or would miss it.

After work I headed up to class.  Even though we only missed last week, it felt like forever since I had had to go.  Once class was over Emily, Katherine, & I went to Chuy's for margaritas and chips & salsa.  Tomorrow is our last week of class & I am so ready to be done with class but am also sad that that means that after class drinks are done forever.  Katherine graduates this semester, Emily graduates this summer, & I'm only doing online classes for the summer & fall.  Even though I got home a little after 9:30, I still thought it would be a good idea to get in an episode of Scandal.  Apparently 10:30 is just my new bedtime...

THE BLOG: I talked about issues with mainstream country music

Things That Made Me Laugh

Moments I'm Grateful For
14 - Visiting Houston for the first time in over a year
15 - Getting to go to my favorite park
16 - Fancy dinner with friends
17 - Staff development instead of a regular school day
18 - I finally started tackling my to-do list
19 - The MN Wild avoiding round 1 elimination
20 - Long overdue after class happy hour

Miles I Walked
14 - 2.25
15 - 3.99
16 - 1.04
17 - 2.00
18 - 1.57
19 - 1.58
20 - 2.29
Total - 14.72

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Issues of Mainstream Country Explained by Kevin Fowler & Zane Williams with 'Sellout Song'

"It's no secret that standards for what's considered country music these days have drastically dropped.  Hell even artists that used to produce quality music have taken to the new trend of releasing their very own sellout songs.  That's right I'm looking at you Luke & Jason.

Kevin Fowler & Zane Williams certainly aren't the first to call out "artists" who have chosen to take the path of sell out.  Aaron Watson has "Hey Y'all - My Contribution To Ruining Country Music"  Wade Reeves had "Haggard and Jones" Eric Church has "Lotta Boot Left To Fill"  The list goes on & on.  

Hopefully one of these days mainstream country will go back to meaningful lyrics, rap & techno will permanently exit any track meant to be country, & grown ass men will stop wearing glittery skinny jeans.  However, until that day comes at least we have Kevin & Zane willing to show "country artists" these days just how ridiculous they look & sound."

**This post was originally posted on my other blog**

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

24 Hours In Houston

Over Easter weekend I went to Houston.  For those of you who are fairly new here, that's where I lived my first three years when I moved from Minnesota to Texas.  Originally I had planned on going down Friday morning & leaving sometime on Sunday.  Finances however stopped me.  So I headed down Friday morning & left Saturday afternoon.  Therefore, this post is more of a "typical weekend in my life when I lived in Houston" than a "check out all of the awesome things in Houston"  Regardless, if you're ever down there I still maintain you should check these places out.

What I Ate
My first stop upon arrival was Cisco's Salsa Company to meet my friend Zach.  During happy hour they have the best margarita deals.  You can get a regular, frozen or on the rocks, for $3.  If you want to add a flavor they're then $3.50.  But they are strong & delicious.  They also have a build your own guacamole that I love & my friends hated me for ordering.  Simply because it's obviously made right there on the spot because you pick exactly what goes in it & after a few I would always get annoyed that I'd have to mash it to a consistency of my liking... but I'd still always order it.  I also promise you that when you're not a few in, it's really not a big deal...  They have an awesome patio, usually with live music on the weekends, a friendly staff, & their food is incredible too.

The first place that my friend Meg & I ate at was a bar called Black Jack's. I have no pictures but we shared some deep fried mushrooms & pickles, obviously with a ton of ranch on the side, & so good!  As someone who judges a place by their ranch... I have zero complaints.  Since we were there during happy hour well drinks were $2.  Win!  It's a little hole in the wall bar which are personally my favorite type.  The crowd was super nice!

Next up, Bar Louie. Again with the no pictures.  Bar Louie is actually a national chain so there is a strong chance that you have one somewhere near you.  Go, during happy hour.  In my opinion their drinks, while really good, are overpriced.  All drinks are $9, unless you go during happy hour.  This might actually be standard?  To me that's a lot though.  I have been on both sides of the Bar Louie fence having been a frequent customer when I lived in Houston & a brief employee living in DFW.  Their appetizers are amazing!  This time we shared loaded tator tots, she had a dirty martini (they're known for their martinis) & I had a Mason Dixon which is basically sweet tea with alcohol.

Tacos...these aren't just any tacos.  They are barbacoa tacos outside of a bar Whiskey River.  I used to be so obsessed with these tacos that when I was heading down I told myself "ok even if we don't end up going to Whiskey River, I'm still going to stop by there at some point that night & get tacos."  They have things other than barbacoa, & you can also get things such as quesadillas, but all I've ever eaten there are the barbacoa tacos.  For 5 years...  They are $3 a piece (cash only) & worth it.  I get them with everything on it, which I don't really know what everything entails, but I trust the guy behind the counter.  He'll ask at least 2 or 3 times & all I say is EVERYTHING, & then he'll just keep adding stuff.  They are spicy so that may be why he asks me so much ha.

For lunch I stopped at a place in Tomball that I had never been to before.  It was called Tejas Chocolate Craftory.  It's in an old house with some tables set up inside as well as tables on the porch & in the yard outside.  I knew it was going to be good when the second I opened the door, that's where the line started.  While you're in line to order food, they also sell chocolates.  I wanted to buy some so badly because they looked so delicious.  However, because I knew I'd still be hanging around Tomball/Houston for awhile & it was 80 some degrees outside, I decided against it.  The food though, SO good!  They are mainly BBQ, which I really thought about getting, but the Bird & Bacon sandwich kept catching my eye.  It's turkey, avocado, bacon, & a fried egg.  You can also get that as a wedge salad.  All of their beers are from Texas breweries so I decided to try out a Mama Tried, because The Hag, which is from Brazos Valley Brewing in Brenham.

What I Did
Meg & I went dancing at Whiskey River.  When I student taught in Houston, we lived 3 miles from this place & therefore basically lived there.  It's a country dance hall.  It's where I learned to line dance & two step.  It's where I met Oklahoma.  My favorite bartender in the world used to work there.  This place is always a good time.  Even if you don't want to dance, the people watching is phenomenal, the drinks are cheap, & they have both indoor & outdoor space.

Saturday when I had the day to myself I decided to go check out all the antique shops in Tomball.  Tomball has the cutest little "old town" area where every Saturday they have a farmer's market, they have little antique shops everywhere, & have town festivals all the time.  Seriously, that town is about as close to real life Stars Hollow as you're going to get.  I miss it.  Anyway, I wanted to buy all the things.  Instead I bought none of the things.  Well, I did buy some pickled quail eggs.  Those are good.  Spicy, but good.

My favorite stop of the entire trip was "my" park.  I used to spend hours at this park.  It's Burrough's Park.  It's also huge.  There is a sports complex part with soccer & baseball fields & then the back part has a little lake, swings, picnic tables, grills.  It's everything.  I was so sad to have to leave my park.  And if it hadn't been a 4 hour drive home I probably would've stayed & read my book longer.

Where I Stayed
I don't do many travel recaps, but at this point it's clear that I don't stay at fancy great for blogging hotels.  Why?  Well a)I'm broke b)it's usually just me c)at this point in time I don't care enough.  As long as there aren't going to be bugs crawling on me & I'm not going to get stabbed/run into a hooker I'm fine.  Although all of these have been questionable possibilities in the past...  Anyway, I stayed at a Palace Inn.  I honestly wasn't expecting much because not only was it a Palace Inn, it was less than $60... I was pleasantly surprised.  It was nothing over the top fancy, but it was nicer than I was expecting & it did it's job.  No bugs, no stabbings, no hookers!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Cadillac Three Remind Us What It Feels Like To Fall In Love

**I originally wrote this post back in August for a blog that my friend Alicia & I had started.  Summer ended, we went back to work, the blog sort of died.  However, the song came around on my Spotify & I was reminded of the post & so I wanted to share it with y'all on here.**

"Anyone who has fallen in love knows how quickly and unexpectedly it can happen.  'White Lightning' does the perfect job at explaining just that.  

'White Lightning' can be found on their new album 'Bury Me In Boots' out this Friday!

You can pre-order 'Bury Me In Boots' on iTunes as well as here."

**The album is obviously out now & you should definitely check out the song, the album, & the band as a whole!**