Monday, October 29, 2007

Mondays always come too soon.

We got back in town yesterday. We had a blast in Chicago! Well my continuing ed classes weren't super exciting, but the hub and I had lots of fun. And just as I had predicted, he spent Thursday and Friday going museum-crazy while I drank ridiculous amounts of coffee trying to stay alert in class. By Friday afternoon I was reduced to doing Sudoko puzzles while they lectured on and on... And as per usual in these seminars, I'm reminded that I'm far too cute to be an accountant.

We stayed at the Club Quarters hotel, off Wacker Dr - right on the river - such a great view! And the hotel staff was great. The hub asked if they had any rooms with a view when we arrived and they upgraded us to the 33rd floor! We got a killer rate too. Always helps to call and ask! The hub got a better rate over the phone than any sites like expedia or offered. I'd definitely stay there again. Thursday night the hub and I found a local pizza place so we could have some true Chicago-style pizza. We went to Gino's East and had a sausage deep dish pizza. The hub had never had real deep dish pizza, so we had to do that one night. Then we went to a comedy club later that night, which was fun. I was wearing my UGA sweatshirt because it was about the warmest thing I had packed. The weather report showed highs of 60 each day, but it got pretty darn chilly at night and my little hoodies and blazers weren't cutting it. Anyway, we walk into the club to find a seat and this couple spots us and says, "Hey, are y'all from Georgia?!" Apparently the girl was super excited over seeing my sweatshirt. Turns out she is about to graduate from UGA and is exploring different cities to see where she wants to go. Oh how fun is that... good for her for checking out all kinds of fun options! Oh to be young and able to pick up and move wherever again... but I'm old and 30 now, so I can only live vicariously through those crazy kids. To be 29 again....*sigh*.

On Friday, the hub spent five - yes, five - hours at the Museum of Science and Industry. This is why these little work trips work well for us. I would never want to spend five hours in a place that had "science" or "industry" in its name. Though they did have a Star Wars exhibit I would've liked to have seen. Nerdy I know, but I do love me some Star Wars. So later that afternoon we found a good restaurant online and made a reservation via Open Table - a great site if you've never used it. Our 5th wedding anniversary is actually this coming Friday, but we decided to celebrate in Chicago since I'll be on bridesmaid duty all this weekend for kuntry bride. We went to a great spot called Boka in the Lincoln Park area. Super swanky and fun - it was excellent. Defintiely a bit of a splurge, but we had a great meal, good wine, and good laughs. And we also decided to go ahead and stick it out together another 5 years and then regroup (a running joke we have which I'm sure is only funny to us).

After dinner we... OK wait - the comedy club thing was Friday night. I'm getting my nights mixed up. Thursday night after pizza we did the John Hancock observatory. (Definitely recommend that over the Sears Tower... I've done both before and JH is way faster and a better view, in my opinion.) Yeah, so after our fun dinner on Friday was when we did the comedy thing. OK, I'm straight now. Then Saturday we slept in a little bit before heading over to Navy Pier to catch our boat tour. Our tour guide was GREAT. They can really make or break a tour, and he was so funny. I'll share some pics once we get them uploaded. I think we got some really good ones! After the tour, we walked over to N. Michigan to the shops. I'm trying to be good, so we didn't do much of any shopping... except a stop in J. Crew at the 900 N. Michigan shops (Remember going there, bestest? I thought of you!) Against my better judgment, I walked out with these...

Well I must say that I thought they were on sale because they were displayed with some other sale shoes - apart from the other colors in this same shoe. But no, they weren't. And it was too late... I had already fallen in love. I love their driving mocs and this year's version is just too cute. They're the most comfortable waking shoe EVER. And the gold was just too fun... Soon afterwards we were in a cab on the way to Joe's Sports Bar to catch the GA/FL game. I threw my Fall 06 driving mocs in my bag and put on my new gold ones. I told the hub they would be my lucky shoes. And was I right or was I RIGHT?!

We had such a great time watching the game with fellow dawgs. Although my hair smelled like a cigar butt when we left. I've gotten so spoiled by the smoking bans in restaurants here that I find it annoying when we end up in bars or restaurants where they allow smoking. But what a game! It was truly awesome and what did I tell you about us having good luck when the hub and I leave town?! We're currently trying to decide where we should go next year.

After the game we walked over to the Land of Nod store - just a block or so away. I love that catalog so I was super excited to spot the store in the cab ride over. I was hoping we would come across it, but I wasn't sure exactly where it was. We smelled so awful though, that we quickly left. I felt like we were contaminating the cuteness of the store.

After tearing off our smoke-infused clothing and freshening up a bit, we headed out to Navy Pier to catch the Saturday fireworks. But apparently, they don't do Saturday fireworks anymore. They do Friday night fireworks. Well that would've been nice to know on Friday, but whatever. It's not really a super fun place to hang out unless you have young kids or if you're 14 and like to scream a lot. So the no-go on the fireworks was a little disappointing. No biggie - we had fun anyway. We went ahead and called it a night since we had an early Sunday morning flight. Overall, a fantastic trip! It was the hub's first time in the windy city and I think he really enjoyed it. I will post pics soon.

So now that we're back, we've got a busy, busy week ahead. Kuntry bride's wedding is Saturday! I've got lots of last minute things to do tonight and tomorrow... I've got to get her escort cards done and table numbers... and my color printer totally crapped out on me right before we left on Wednesday. I haven't looked at it yet. Hmm... probably would've been wise to take a peak yesterday. Hopefully we can get it to work or I guess I'll be running to Office Depot. I've got a brow wax and haircut scheduled for Wednesday at lunch... I really hope I don't get caught in the Halloween traffic on the way back - there's no telling when that will start. And yikes - Halloween! Omg I'm so behind on decorating for Halloween... gotta grab pumpkins tonight and candy and all that. Carving is definitely out this year. So sad! We've just been all over the place lately! Um... oh and Auntie Flo made a suprise visit while we were on our trip, so I talked to my doctor today and scheduled my HSG for this Thursday! It has to be done this week, so I had to squeeze that in too. Say little prayers that we'll get the green light to start trying! I'll let y'all know what I find out... Then Friday I'll be all tied up with kuntry bride, so I'm a busy, busy bee!

Well, I better run and make my grocery list for tonight. Back soon!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rainy Day Ramblings

I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off since Saturday morning. Well, as you know, Saturday was spent helping kuntry bride assemble favors and such. She lives a good hour away (with no traffic), so Saturday a.m. I was running around like mad just trying to get out of the house. I know y'all know how that goes. The David's Bridal visit was a quick one, thank goodness. I didn't get home till midnight and we barely made a dent in the favors. We did actually make a lot of progress, it just didn't look like we did. That stuff always takes 5 times longer than you ever think it will.

Then Sunday was spent doing laundry and finishing a wedding invitation order. I had to stop for a couple of hours to go attend an afternoon shower for Christmas bride, but other than that - I didn't leave the house. I did watch a couple of sermons online while assembling invitations, so I got my church in. We have been such slackers lately when it comes to church... we've just been running around so much that sometimes church is the first thing that gets knocked off the list. "Next week!" we keep saying... I miss it though so we are dragging our butts there *next week* for sure.

Yesterday I was at a continuing ed class on deferred taxes. I know... vomit. So I wasn't on the 'puter at all yesterday - it makes me feel so disconnected. As if I have lost all touch with the world or something... And not only that, but I had to drive into town and because it was sprinkling outside, everybody forgot how to drive. So what should have taken an hour or so, took 2+ hours. And I therefore missed the first hour of class. I have to have these hours to renew my license and I just about slugged the receptionist when she said to me, "you'll have to adjust your time sheet since you missed the first hour." Are you serious? Seriously? I have been battling idiot drivers for the past two hours to get here and this is the first thing you have to say to me?! Not to mention the fact that it took me a good 15 minutes to find the damn office after I parked...

First the directions told me to park on the top level. OK, I'm thinking there is like direct access to their floor from here or something? Because I wound my way up and up for a good 4-5 minutes to reach this special top floor. And what is up there? Nothing. I was THE only vehicle. Huh?! So I look back at the directions. "Once you park, take the elevator down to level C." WHAT?! I came in at level C! Why the hell would you tell me to park at the very very top of this deck (passing hundreds of empty spots along the way) only to have me hop in the elevator and go back down to where I came in?! Then once inside the building I went up the wrong damn elevator. One of those that only accesses certain floors - and of course, not my floor. So I go back down. And realize it's the wrong damn tower. I know the security guard got a good chuckle watching all this. I finally found the right tower and made my way up there... only to hear the receptionist's dumb comment about missing the first hour.

The ride home was an unexpected breeze though, so it was nice to get home a little early. We went bowling last night with our new small group. It was fun and I totally broke 100!!! Something I have never done! It must've been the pink ball I was using... I was bowling strike after strike. Which is SO not like me. I usually celebrate if I hit any pins AT ALL. I rarely bowl, but it can be good cheesy fun sometimes.

OK so tomorrow we are leaving for Chicago!!! I'm so excited! I have more continuing ed classes up there on Thursday and Friday and the hub is coming along. He has never been to the windy city so he will go play during the day while I'm learning lots of exciting tax stuff. The hub is great at entertaining himself. He will talk to a doorknob so I'm sure he will have made three new best friends by the end of day one. He also loves museums, so he can spend as LONG as he wants in the Field museum or wherever he wants to go without me nagging him to move along. I really love museums too, but I am a one-hour museum person. I pick a few exhibits, ooh and ahh, and then I'm good to go. The hub, however, likes to read every last word of EVERY description of every piece of art/artifact/whatever. He spent 3+ hours in the American History museum in New York one time and half a day in the Air & Space museum in DC. I just can't handle all that museum-ing. Seriously, one hour and I'm full. So anyways, he'll have Thursday and Friday to play (and we'll of course go out at night together after my classes), and then we'll have all day Saturday to play together. We've got an architectural boat cruise booked for Saturday morning. I'm sure we'll go see fireworks off Navy Pier either Friday or Saturday night... And of course the Dawgs play Florida on Saturday, so we're heading to the local UGA bar to catch the game. Now I will say that if we win this game, I can conclude that we have amazingly good luck when watching big games while out of town... Last year we watched our Dawgs whoop up on Auburn from the local UGA bar in NYC. And we were NOT expected to win - not even a little bit. And I fully expect to get our bulldog tails handed to us by FL this week, so who knows...

Oh and one last rambling - er confession - I ordered this maternity skirt the other day for my someday closet. I had a Nordstrom gift certificate (and yay, I used it!) and stumbled upon this in the sale section online. It was on super sale and I thought it looked super cute. But now I'm confused by the wide white band. I think when I bought it I thought they were just showing the belly band that you cover up. But looking at it again today I think that is just part of the design. I dunno... thoughts? So now I'm not so sure how cute it's going to be. It's supposed to arrive today, so we'll see.

Alright, well I better get back to my mile-long to-do list! Going out of town is so fun, but why is it so stressful trying to leave?!

UPDATE: The skirt came last night and it is super cute! The white band is definitely the belly band. Only thing is that it's right on the verge of being too tight. So I'm thinking in a prego state, it'd definitely be too small. I like it though so I'm exchanging for the next size up.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Babies, Brides, and Birthdays

I've got a weekend full of showers, though I can only attend one of them (for Christmas Bride). I'm dropping off a gift for a baby shower early tomorrow morning, so I had to run out at lunch and grab something. I usually don't procrastinate on shopping for gifts since, afterall, it is an excuse to shop! But I found myself on a time crunch, so I opted for Baby Gap. I love Baby Gap but it's not my usual stop for baby gifts. Anyway... this shower is for a mom of three boys who is prego with a GIRL! I'm sure she just doesn't know what the heck to do with a girl! I hate to miss the shower - I bet she'll get some really fun gifts and a lot of pink. For girls, although pink is my personal favorite, I try to buy something other than just pink because I know they will be getting a ridiculous amount of pink. So here's what I found...
OK the picture of the pants is really bad... apparently they're sold out online so I couldn't get the closeup. They're a rosy pink and chocolate stripe. They're super cute and I promise they match.

I really like funky retro looking stuff for little girls. Well I love it all but I love stuff that is different. Like have y'all seen Patty's stuff over at ModKid Boutique? OMG - I so love that kind of stuff and when I have a little girl (fingers crossed applesauce), I am SO maxing out my credit cards at her store! So anyway, I've got to wrap it all up tomorrow morning and drop it off before heading over to kuntry bride's last gown fitting. If she releases me in time, I'll be heading up to a birthday party Saturday night for a friend of ours.

Well have a great weekend, all! We're heading over to my parents tonight for some yummy crab legs - my favorite! It's another birthday dinner for me - I like to drag my birthday out for as long as possible.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pink Trees!

Look at these cutie finds I picked up at Hobby Lobby yesterday... all were 50% off, so I got both trees and the ornaments for less than $12 total. My bestest and I are going to use them for an open house we're doing next month and then I think I'll transport the tree to my office to add some preppy Christmas cheer!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Our journey with Infertility...

Geez, I'm a bloggin' fool today. Can you tell my work has been a little slow this week? OK so I've been browsing around a few blogs about infertility lately. I haven't really looked too much into these in the past because honestly, they often have such a negative spin on them. And I really hope I don't offend anyone by that, but that's just how they read to me sometimes. There are some out there that I enjoy reading though and the trend on these infertility blogs seems to be to have this "history" timeline on the side spelling out your personal journey. Which makes sense - you can just glance at someone's timeline and know exactly where they are with this whole thing. So I decided to put my own little timeline together and post it. It was kind of weird looking back and listing all the doctor visits and tests and procedures we've been through this past year... it was about this time last year that we decided, OK if we don't get pregnant by Christmas, let's start testing.

And I think during that first year of trying, when we really didn't know what was going on or if there was a problem, I could've started a blog and it would've been filled with anger. Month after month, let down after let down. Especially those few times when I just *knew* I was pregnant. I remember getting my period one time after being a week late and I just sank to the floor and cried. I started self-diagnosing on the internet (never a good idea) and reading statistics and finding horror story after horror story. And of course, everyone around us was getting pregnant. We've got those "fertile friends" who pass too closely in the hall and they're pregnant. And I was always and am always so happy for my friends when they get prego. Am I little jealous? Sure. But I'm not one of these that can't take the news. Behind closed doors it was more of a "that's great, but what the hell is wrong with us?!" For me, the not-knowing was the hardest part. Not knowing if something was wrong with me or with the hub...

So in January we started initial fertility testing with my OB/GYN. As part of the testing, I had an HSG (this dye test thing where they shoot dye all up in your girly parts to see if your tubes are open and that all looks normal). The radiologist performing the procedure said she could tell me what she saw, but that I'd have to have my own doctor explain it. OK WTF does that mean? So we're both looking at this screen (kind of like an ultrasound) and she's going "hmmm... hmmm..." Hmmm looks great? I have no idea what I'm looking at here, so I'm just waiting for some kind of explanation. She says my uterus is abnormally shaped and says all these big words very matter-of-factly. I somehow managed to remember the term "bicornuate uterus" and my mom and I googled the hell out of it. More self-diagnosing insued... and then my OB/GYN ordered an MRI to better diagnose the abnormality. There were basically two major possibilities... a bicornuate uterus or a septate uterus. The first she felt we could work around, the second would require surgery. So which one did I get? Yeah, the second one. The day I got that news was not a good one. It was a really big blow. And the best way I can think of to describe my feelings - and probably any woman's feelings when dealing with infertility - is that you feel like less of a woman. We're given this amazing ability to carry a child, yet we can't freaking do it. Everybody else seems to be able to, so what the heck did we do wrong?

So from that point I was referred to my fertility specialist - whom my doctor said was "the best in Atlanta." Well that's good - I like best. And he is - I LOVE him. Though in many ways I can't wait to be done seeing him, I will also hate to not see him anymore because he's so great. But the end goal is to get me prego and back to my OB/GYN.

Now I don't remember exactly when it was, but around the time we started seeing the specialist, I found new strength. At some point a light bulb must've gone off in my head... I made myself stop reading crap on the internet. I never look anymore. (Besides, my mom more than makes up for what I'm not reading.) I guess it has to do with our entire spring and summer being shot as far as trying, but I'm not living month to month anymore. I'm sure once we get the go-ahead I will be back on the ovulation kits and whatnot... but really I've found peace over the whole thing. I got to the point where all I really could do was turn it over to God. I mean I certainly can't control this... so I stopped trying. I mean if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans, right? He's got a plan for us and so I'm just dumping all my faith into that plan - whatever it may be. For now, we'll just keep pluggin' along.

So anyway, I'm going to post our little fertility timeline on here... it's a good reminder of what we've been through and what troopers we've been, if I do say so myself! Oh and I wanted to also mention this great book my OB/GYN wrote. My godmother referred me to her when I was just out of college. And you know what's crazy? She also had a septate uterus and had to have surgery. Was that a set-up or what? Oh stop winkin' at me, God! Anyway, for any of you dealing with infertility or who have friends or family dealing with it, this is a great little read...

OK for real, no more blogging today! I'm off to bed...

The Phantom Ghost!

So tonight we went and "boo'd" a couple of neighbors. One of my girlfriends was boo'd last year in her neighborhood and I thought it was such a fun idea. And then this year one of my other girlfriends who lives nearby got boo'd. No one does this in our neighborhood to my knowledge... so I told my friend to boo me as one of her boos so I could start the fun in our neighborhood. So here's how it works...

You put together two Halloween treat bags for two different neighbors or friends. I got two felt bags that I think are meant to be trick-or-treat bags. And for each one I got a cute ceramic candy bowl and some candy corn. What else... some Halloween confetti (for cookies or cupcakes, etc), some Halloween erasers, and this cute fuzzy spider thing with googlie eyes. To your bag you attach a picture of a ghost with a ribbon for your boo-ees to put on their doors (so they don't get boo'd again) and another card with the following poem...

The Phantom Ghost has come to town,
To leave you some goodies, I see you have found.
If you do not wish a curse to fall,
Continue this greeting, this Phantom's call.

First, post this Phantom where it can be seen,
And leave it there until Halloween.
This will scare other Phantoms who may visit.
Be sure to participate, you don't want to miss it!

Second, make two treats & two copies of this Ghost with a grin
Deliver them to two neighbors where this Phantom hasn't been
Don't let them see you, be sneaky, no doubt …
And make sure they put their Phantom Ghost out!

Next, you have only one day to act, so be quick!
Leave it at doors where the Phantom hasn't hit.
Deliver at dark when there isn't much light...
Ring the doorbell and run, and stay out of sight!!

And last, but not least, come join in the season.
Don't worry, be happy, you need no good reason.
This is all in good fun and we are just trying to say...

What fun! So I snapped a quick pic of our goodie bags before the hub and I creeped out to boo our neighbors. It was so fun... I felt like I was 7 years old again - hiding behind bushes and trying not to breathe too loud or laugh... Either that or a felon.

My photo is not great, but hopefully you kinda get the idea. They are the most super cute Halloween goodie bags ever!

Forget ghosts and goblins... I fear Bridezilla!

So kuntry bride's wedding is fast approaching and the girl is losing it. We've joked all along that she's going to need some serious medication on her wedding date and yeah, she will. Her sister plans to have a little pharmacy in her bag that day - so we should be good.

This week kuntry bride started second-guessing every single decision she has made... from the flowers to the favors to the bridesmaid dresses... "OMG is the ribbon going to match? Should I change the flowers? I'm worried about the colors not going together or that people will think it's ugly! Should I not have had this lady make our dresses? Did I make a mistake? Are the colors in my bouquet dumb? Should I change them? . . ." And on and on she goes. Her wedding is in 2.5 weeks. I told her to stop flipping out - it's all going to come together beautifully! And it will. But it's not just the wedding details... she gets easily overwhelmed with everything she has to do. Which is understandable - I know those last few weeks before the wedding can be super stressful trying to pull it all together, all the while keeping a smile on your face!

Then just now I got a message from Christmas Bride (another girlfriend whose wedding I'm in this December) saying she went to the bridal salon to pick up the bridesmaids' dresses that had come in... but they are the WRONG color. So now she's freaking. Actually her mom is really the one losing it. I would too - that would probably drive me over the edge.

So please say a little prayer for my brides... for their sanity... and for me and the rest of the 'maids that we don't get eaten! I'm sure the stories will only get better from here...

Monday, October 15, 2007

The most wonderful time of the year!

Besides my birthday, the most wonderful time of the year is the holiday season. I just love everything about it. I'm not sure when the season *officially* begins, but I say Halloween is Day One. I love Halloween, I adore Thanksgiving and Christmas is just the ultimate fun. And then you round everything out with a toast to the New Year. It's always a CRAZY time of year with all the parties going on... plus getting together with different groups of friends to exchange gifts... our December calendar is always booked solid. It is definitely the craziest month on our calendar every year - but I love it!

I find the hustle and bustle so super fun. I love holiday commercials on TV. I love Christmas movies. We probably watch Elf and Christmas Vacation at least 15 times each during the season. And beginning the day after Thanksgiving, my radio is tuned solely to stations playing Christmas music 24/7. In fact, one of the local stations here that was one of the biggest players of Christmas music during the holiday season was abruptly transformed into a COUNTRY station (like we need another one of those) in the MIDDLE of the holiday season. I was beyond pissed. I got online to the station's website trying to figure out what the hell happened... I had the hub calling the station complaining. It actually made the paper - because of how many people were perturbed (so I wasn't the only fool). I don't like it when people fubar my holiday spirit! Anyway... I love holiday foods. I love winter - though we never see much of one. I love hot apple cider. And most of all, I LOVE giving gifts. I can honestly say that buying gifts, wrapping gifts, and seeing my friends and family's faces when opening gifts is all so much more fun for me than any gift I'll receive.

But as fun as it all is, my stress levels can elevate with all the craziness going on. There's always something else thrown in there that complicates the calendar moreso. Our little godson has a December birthday, so that makes yet another party and I usually volunteer myself to help plan it. I definitely do this to myself, you see. And then THIS year one of my girlfriends is having a wedding smack-dab in the middle of December. Which is great - I love Christmas/winter weddings and I am so not complaining, but yes it just adds more and more to the December calendar (especially when you throw in the bridesmaids luncheon, the rehearsal dinner, etc, etc). Also, getting Christmas cards out has become a real chore in itself. Since starting my paper business, paper stuff for me ends up getting done last and sometimes half-assed. I had this cuter-than-cute card designed last year for us to send but I just ran out of time and had to toss the festive envelope lining. It was still cute, but it would've been CUUUUUTE. And of course, after Thanksgiving we've got to get our ridiculous amount of Christmas decorations up. I honestly don't know when the heck I'm going to do it this year... my bestest is coming in town the weekend after Thanksgiving, so I can't do it then. I think I might actually have us do it all the weekend before Thanksgiving. I hate to overshadow Thanksgiving Day... but there's just no other way! Plus we're doing two Christmas trees this year so it's going to be crazy. (The to-do list is my head is just growing like mad as I type this.) And finally, there's that whole Christmas shopping thing! Which brings me to the entire reason for this post...

Today I started my 2007 Christmas gift log - a fabulous color-coded, exquisitely detailed, formula-filled Excel spreadsheet that surely kicks every other Christmas list's ass! My goal every year is to have everything bought and wrapped by December (so that I can really enjoy December). That like never happens, but it's a fun thought. And it's this time of year that I am most thankful for online shopping. I do about 95% of my Christmas shopping online. I know I said I love the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, but I do NOT like trying to find gifts amongst the millions of other shoppers during December. I can't stand fighting crowds in stores. I'm so not that patient. Now, I do like to go watch the other crazy people while sipping on a Starbucks. That's fun. But for my own sanity, I have to have my gift log. All of my "giftees" have their own column and down the left I have the gifts listed. I have a budget for each person and it calculates how much I've spent on each person, how much I have spent overall, how much I have left to spend, etc. And I also decide on my gifts well before purchasing them. So while my gift log lists stuff that's been purchased, it's also filled with gift ideas... it makes for one beautiful grid. (I know - this is my nerdy accountant side coming out for sure!) It's kind of like a good budget or something... even if you're totally broke, you at least feel like you have some sort of control over your brokeness.

Work has calmed down substantially and I'm totally loving the breather... and taking advantage of it by online window shopping. Hahaha - window.... omg hahahha! I need to write that one down. Just hopping around on my favorite sites and seeing what all looks good... I've already planned out half my gifts! So now the trick is to just stagger the purchasing some so the wallet doesn't take too big of a hit at any one time. It's less painful that way. And obviously we'll have to figure out how to mesh this with our cash envelope system... perhaps another spreadsheet is required.

OK so I just wanted to share a few of my fun finds that are now "ideas" on my gift log...

Cutie jute bag from Ballard Designs. $25.50, including the monogram!

Monogrammed Dop Kit from Idaclaire. $18, including the monogram! I find men SO hard to shop for. Several on my list will be getting one of these!

Just found this site today and I'm sooooo excited about it - a great site for custom stamps! They have a TON of different return address styles, so several people on my list will be getting these. Prices vary depending on what type of stamp you order (wood-mounted, self-inking, etc), but they are very reasonable. How cute are these?

Let the holiday fun begin!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Envelope System

So the hub and I are trying really, really hard to get back on this cash envelope system of Dave Ramsey's. He's a local radio personality here with his own show about getting debt free. He's been on Oprah, so maybe you've heard of him. He travels around the country doing seminars and has also spoken at our church a few times. I could blog on and on about his methods (his teachings are biblically based and he is very blunt - he's great), but I really want to just get this message out so I can hold myself accountable!

One of Dave's tools for cutting back spending (which we definitely need to do) and sticking to a budget (which we have a horrible time doing) is using a cash only system. Ditch the debit card and use only cash. This is a hard transition for us because we are plastic lovin' fools... I rarely EVER have cash on me and when I do, I spend it so fast because, well, it's already *out* of my account, so why not? Generally, what we've always done is have two checking accounts - both joint, but one is for bills and the other is for everything else (groceries, gas, and other discretionary spending). Enough of our paychecks goes directly into our bill account to cover the bills, some (very little at this point actually) goes into our general savings, and then the remainder goes into our spending account. So while we don't really do a detailed budget, we have a cap on our spending money for each pay period. That's great and all, but the hub and I are both spenders. And you probably already figured out that I am by all my shopping posts - haha! So sticking to a budget is not easy for us. We pretty much end up pulling money from our bill account each month to cover overspending. And after a while, that'll catch up with you and it's not pretty.

We first heard about Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover program through our church. And one particular couple we know follows the plan religiously and they are just the biggest Dave Ramsey fans - it's kinda funny. They have been using this cash system of his for a long time and after discussing our issues with spending, they said we just had to try it. I was very skeptical. I mean, cash only? But here's the thing... when you're using only cash, you pay A LOT more attention to what you're spending. Seriously how many times have you swiped your debit card at the grocery or Target or wherever and not realize how much you just spent? I rarely pay attention. But if I'm counting out dollar bills, you better believe I'm paying attention. And I'm also paying attention to how much cash I have left. And that's why it works.

We started this envelope system a while back and let me tell you, it was the first time in I don't know how long that we did not exceed our spending allowance for the period. We kept it up for probably 3 months and sometimes we even had cash leftover! It was seriously amazing how such a simple concept can change your entire outlook on spending. The thing is, spending cash just "hurts" a little more than swiping a card. Here's Dave's envelope system spelled out for you (he does a better job explaining it than I could)...

Dave Ramsey's Envelope System

On a budget? Still over-spending? Trying to figure out the best way to organize your finances and spend wisely?

You Need a Simple System.

I found out that Grandma's way to handle money still works. People used to always use cash envelopes to control their monthly spending, but very few do in today's card swiping culture. The envelope system is a key component of the Total Money Makeover Plan because it works.

Here are a few simple rules for starting a cash envelope system.

Budget each paycheck. Budget is a dirty word to most people, but you must budget down to the last dime if you're going to successfully implement the envelope system.

Divide and conquer. Of course, there will be budget items that you cannot include in your envelope system, like bills paid by check or automatic withdraw. However, you can create categories like food, gas, clothing and entertainment.

Fill 'er Up. After you've categorized your cash expenses, fill each envelope with the money allotted for it in your budget. For example, if you allow $100 for clothing, put $100 in cash in your clothing envelope for the month.

When it's gone, it's gone. Once you've spent all the money in a given envelope, you're done spending for that category. If you go on a shopping spree and spend the $100 in your clothing envelope, you can't spend any more on clothes until you budget for that category again. That means no visits to the ATM to withdraw more money!

Don't be tempted. While debit cards can't get you directly into debt, if used carelessly, they can cause you to over-spend. There's something psychological about spending cash that hurts more than swiping a piece of plastic. If spending cash whenever possible can become a habit, you'll be less likely to over-spend or buy on impulse.

Give it time. It will take a few months to perfect your envelope system. Don’t give up after a month or two if it's not clicking. You'll get the hang of it and see how beneficial the envelope system is as you dump debt, build wealth, and achieve financial peace! See....simple!

Certainly, some bills may come in at different times of the month, so you'll need to adjust your written game plan to take it one step further. You need to plan the budget based upon your pay periods. Say that you get paid twice a month. If you can write down which bills you plan on paying from each paycheck, you will not be left with a surprise bill. Spend each month's income and each individual paycheck on paper BEFORE it comes in.

Have Some Fun... I also have no problem with you adding an envelope with money just to "blow." As long as you and your spouse have agreed on it, you are fine. There should be no lying. Agree on your budget, agree on your blow money, and be open. Blow money can be anything you want it to be. There are no rules on that envelope, unlike money in the "entertainment" envelope that is used specifically for entertainment.

Now we still pay bills out of our bill-only checking account - we pay everything via online banking. We just use the cash system for everyday spending. The only exception we make is for gas - I refuse to give up my pay-at-the-pump!!! So we leave enough funds in our account to cover gas, but that is the only time we allow ourselves to swipe the debit card. OK that and the occassional online purchase! That kind of stuff we just have to plan around and adjust our cash balances in the appropriate envelopes. Like he said, you do the envelopes however they work for you, but here are the categories we use...
  • Groceries

  • Dining Out/Entertainment

  • The hub - Lunch money

  • The hub - Blow money

  • Buford Betty - Blow money

  • Dry Cleaning

  • Maid

So yeah we slacked off the system several months ago (and mysteriously started over-spending again!), but yesterday we officially got back on. On pay day, I go to the ATM and pull out all the cash for that pay period and then fill our envelopes. (My envelopes are very cute by the way.) It feels great to be back on it, even though it's only been 24 hours. I just feel.... cleansed. hahhaha... So if you struggle with over-spending like we do, I highly highly highly recommend giving this system a try. It's very simple and it WORKS. You'll be amazed - I promise. Though if someone sees your envelope labeled "blow money" with a wad of cash in it, you might need to explain yourself.

Friday, October 12, 2007

This is NOT my fault.

OK my shop-it-to-me emails are evil! I've put myself on shopping hiatus due to budget constraints (namely my birthday shindig and oh yeah - bills), but I still look at my gazillion shopping emails. You know, to make sure I'm not cheating myself out of a really good deal. Well I've been needing some good red pumps for a while now so I'm always keeping an eye out. I found some cuter-than-cute Isaac Mizrahi's on Smart Bargains, but I waited too long and my size is now gone... But then I saw these (in black actually) on my shop-it-to-me email this morning and they were such a good price so I clicked the link... and voila! They also come in RED! $29 - reg $99... sounds pretty good. I mean, a great shoe for $29, I justified it in about 3 minutes and typed in my memorized credit card number before I could talk myself out of it. OK but for real, I'm still on hiatus. Minor slip-up.

Lots of sizes left... go get you some.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Vera Bradley goodness.

Yikes - I was in the shower this morning and realized I totally forgot to mention the hub's lovely gift for my birthday!! I'm an awful wifey! He is such a sweetie... a few weeks ago the Vera Bradley outlet sale was in town for 3 days and I couldn't make it out there. It was on the other side of town and my schedule that week just wouldn't allow me to make it over there. I was totally bummed since it was the first time the outlet sale had come to Atlanta. But two of my girlfriends, including kuntry bride, were going together so I sent them a whole list of stuff to grab for me. It also came at a great time because I'm starting to think about Christmas gifts. So I had a few gift items listed and I also just mentioned the styles that I liked... "if they have the tote in Hope Toile, grab it!" - etc, etc. Well I guess I expressed my disappointment more than once to my husband about missing the sale... at some point he contacted one of my girlfriends going and told her to get EVERYTHING on my list that I wanted for myself and only tell me that she got the gift items and to make up some excuse for not finding the others. One bag that I wanted but really didn't need because I already had it in another pattern was the travel satchel. It is the best weekender or carry-on bag, fyi if you don't have this one. You can fit so much stuff in there. I also have the Miller Bag, which is about the same size measurement-wise, but the satchel holds sooooooooo much more stuff (and is much easier to carry I think). Anyway, so my girlfriend told me she "forgot" to grab the satchel. No worries... I really didn't need another one anyway! I just wanted one to match the pattern I had my Miller Bag in. I think I've mentioned before - I have a ton of Vera stuff, but I have a total hodge podge of patterns.

So my party is here and there's no sign of my gift from the hub. Turns out my girlfriend wrapped it all up and brought it with her! The hub actually took cash out of our account and deposited it into her bank account so I wouldn't snoop around and find out where he was spending money on me (cause yeah, I would do that - I'm obsessed with online banking). He was super sneaky this time! And it's funny because he is sooooooo bad at keeping secrets from me - especially gifts. So kudos to him for holding out this whole time! So the gift itself was a big box FILLED with Vera goodies. I mean Vera Bradley explosion!!! I got my satchel, a couple of bowler bags, tote bags, and a couple of ditty bags... I think that's it. It was so fun! And I was truly surprised. What a super-duper gift! :-)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I'm 30, y'all!

Ahhh... what a weekend! The party was totally great. It was just the best! We had a great turnout - about 35 people, which is exactly what I was shooting for. And now I've officially got 30 whole years under my belt. We had yummy BBQ catered from one of my favorite local places. They have a yummy vinegar-based sauce and that's why I love them so much. I'm not like a huge huge BBQ person, but in the fall with football season, it just works. And this place is really yummy. Anyway, so we had dinner outside on the deck under our UGA tent (and no, I'm not talking about the game - ridiculous!!!).

I didn't get a pic with the food out there gosh-darn-it (I took this shot today). It was really cute. I had my glass plates and cutie polka-dot napkins set up all cute. And there were tablecloths, I promise. I was too busy partying to get a shot of it all I guess! But you can see my cutie floating polka dots here. I don't think you can see it well in that photo, but they all say "30."

The cake was as tasty as it was freakin' cute. We took a ridiculous amount of pictures of it so we'd always remember how fabulous it was before we devoured it. On the cake table (our dining room table), we had all my cutie cookies laying out as well as some fresh flowers and confetti. We also hung ornaments from the ceiling with fishing wire. They turned out super cute. I got some fun little Christmas ornaments from Hobby Lobby for super cheap that don't look Christmassy (is that a word?) at all. Some glittery black balls (more floating polka dots!), a few "crystals," and these cutie shoe ornaments in red! Hanging them was a bit of a challenge and I'm sure we'll have to touch up the ceiling paint a little bit when we pull out the little pins, but it was totally cute. Sometimes things look more fabulous in my head then in reality, but this idea came through - I was happy. It was really hard to get a good photo of them - to capture the "look" of it anyway, but maybe you'll get the idea...

Cutting into that cake was a little sad! Such a work of art. I consider myself pretty darn crafty, but decorating cakes is not one of my talents. Not that I bake cakes all the time, but the few times that I have... well, yeah... they look like shit. Taste good, but not cute. So I really admire this particular talent - it truly amazes me. And the fact that it tasted fabulous was the icing on the cake (oh I just kill myself!).

I got lots of fun gifts from all my wonderful, wonderful friends. Lots of giftcards - and I promise I'm gonna use them. I've mentioned before how I'm really bad about forgetting I have them. I'm one of those who contributes heavily to the millions of dollars made off of unused giftcards. But no worries - as a responsible 30-year old woman, I will make good use of all of them! (Did I mention I let a $100 Spa Sydell gift certificate expire last month after holding onto it for a year? I'm horrible!!!) But amid the giftcards and many bottles of wine, stood the best gift of all... my new KitchenAid artisan mixer! I've wanted one forever. We registered for one five years ago when we were getting married, but obviously didn't get it. Well I finally got one and I am sure we're going to be best friends. I was so excited to use it that I went to the grocery this afternoon and bought potatoes so I could make mashed potatoes. Oh they were so so yummy. I just whipped up regular old baking potatoes (I couldn't find the yukon or whatever ones they say are best for mashed potatoes), sour cream, prepared horseradish, and salt & pepper... omg SO yummy! Didn't even add any butter - so really it wasn't that bad for you at all! At least that's what I'm telling myself. Yeah the sour cream was real, but there wasn't much of it per serving (unless you clean out the whole bowl). I just had to take a pic of my very first mix in motion...

I'm in love! And I think I'm gonna love my 30's. I'm just super excited about the decade ahead of me and what all it will bring. Lots of big life changes ahead... and really I feel like I'm at such a great place in life right now. I mean sure I could list off some complaints for ya right now... we're still so tight as crap on money because we still haven't sold our stinkin' townhouse back down in the city... we've got hospital bills coming out our asses and who knows yet if any of it did any good... I have a nursery just waiting to be decorated and somedays it seems like maybe we'll never get to (it also looks fabulous in my head, by the way)... BUT how can I complain? We are so very blessed. We missed a Sunday at church a couple of weeks back and my friend Pam told me I had to watch the sermon online since I missed it. She said I just had to watch this one - a tear jerker (or torrential down-pour, right Pammy?!) It had a lot to do with suffering and finding comfort but the one thing Louie (the speaker) said that has stuck with me everyday since watching it is that "there is never a time when God is not in control of your life." Wow. So true... he know's what he's doing. When you really let that sink in - it's one of the most comforting things to hear. So anyway, geez - didn't mean to get all deep on you there, but the point is I'm just really excited about the years ahead and what God has in store - so bring it on! Thirty, flirty, and thriving! :-)

Friday, October 5, 2007

I'm gonna have my cake and eat it too!

I just got back from transporting my birthday cake from the baker's house to our house with the help of my mom. I was super nervous about getting it safely home so I'm so glad that's behind me! I had to log on really quick and post the pics because it is TOO cute to handle. The pics don't do it justice - it is AMAZING. Way cuter than even what I pictured in my head, and things in my head are fabulous, you should know. This chick is unbelievable... her story is really cool too if you want to check out her "about us" section. It makes me wonder what undiscovered talents I might have! I'll let you know how it tastes later... I can't wait to dig in, but it's so purty I don't wanna cut into it! OMG I'm so excited!!!!!! Turning 30 has never looked more fabulous.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Beach bums.

These past couple of weeks have been so crazy busy... I'm not finding much time to get on the 'puter and catch up on blog reading, much less write my own. Well the beach wedding was tons of fun. It really turned out beautifully. The weather was PERFECT. Here are the cute beach mats they were giving out at the ceremony...

So super cute! A great idea for a casual beach wedding. The reception was at a casual restaurant on a large deck overlooking the beach where the ceremony took place. I had yummy frozen margaritas coming at me left and right. A nice night at the beach with a cool margarita in hand... does it get any better?
The doggies had a ball of course. Bailey, my parents' golden, LOVES the beach to pieces. He just runs full force into the waves and just loves to wade out there with my dad. Gertie was all for running around on the beach, and even getting her feet wet, but she wasn't quite as enthusiastic about it as Bailey. Gertie just loves loves loves the hub. She kept her eyes on him the whole time they were running around and wouldn't leave his side. I really think she has this special bond with him since he was the one to pick her up and take her to safety when she was hit by that car (who freaking left the scene!). How could you say no to that sweet face?

This is Bailey's doggie condo in the back of Mom and Dad's car. Needless to say, he is spoiled. My dad bought this car for several reasons, but #1 being that "Bailey would like it."

Well I better run... got a to-do list a mile long with my birthday party coming up on Saturday. Gotta run to Costco. Here are my cuter-than-cute cookies I picked up today! Are they dreamy or WHAT?!