Christmas Break

My Christmas break started out with a bang. Instead of spending the first day of it sleeping in Mj and I were up at 7 am to go to Home Depot. You see, I accidentally flushed something quite large down the toilet. It fell from the overhead cabinet just as I was flushing and I was just like....oh CRAP! I went to the bathroom that morning at Home Depot where we picked up supplies and tools so that he could take the whole toilet apart and get the darn thing out. He is so handy. Thank goodness he was here. He hadn't done it before but watched a video on You Tube and handled the whole thing like a pro. I felt so bad.

I had a wonderful Christmas and am just thrilled to be on Christmas break. I feel so free! We spent Christmas Eve at mom's house and spent the night. I didn't really want to spend the night at first but I am so glad that we did. It was fun and I love my family. I love this time of year. My little sis was in town from school. Mom, Mj, little sis and I went to the movies to see Brother's. Good movie. Mom made a simple dinner of lasagna, salad and bread for dinner and it was delicious. We had some family and friends over. Mj and I spent the night on the tiny twin day bed that I begged my parents for when I was in middle school and woke up Christmas day to my Dad making breakfast which is pretty much the only meal he will cook. Then we all opened gifts. It was such a relaxing day. So relaxing that we all spent the whole day in our pajamas! We just hung around talking and doing a whole lot of nothing. I love it that Mj is comfortable just hanging out with my family also. He fits right in. It was a really nice day. We left around 5pm because we needed to get home to pack.

At my job break begins the day before Christmas Eve and we don't have to go back until January 4th. Definitely one of the perks of the job. It's so nice to have this time off. It is giving me the chance to travel to meet Mj's family and save my vacation days which I have been holding onto as much as possible so I will have enough for our wedding and honey moon.

We are in Delaware right now. We got here yesterday and will be heading back home just in time to spend New Year's Eve at home. Hopefully the visit with his family goes well. They all live far away but of course I want them to like me.

More about the trip later.

Mean People Suck

I was so determined to skip the whole angry and irritated phase and not allow myself to waste any energy on being upset. Bad things happen. They just do. There is nothing you can do about it so keep moving forward and don't let it get to you right? But after a day of looking at the two ugly rows of deep grooves that run along the driver side of my new car hitting three different panels I finally got angry. I last saw my car on Saturday so it happened sometime between Saturday night and Monday morning. Although I didn't notice it until I walked out to my car on Monday after work, I am pretty sure it happened at home during that time. It is obvious that it was an intentional act. Someone literally walked along the side of my car with a key or some other sharp object and dug it along the side for probably no good reason at all. I have no enemies that I am aware of. Why would someone do that? And now I am left with another expense that I don't really have the money let alone the time to spend on fixing it.

Yesterday was just one of those days. It started off fine. I did a bit of going back and forth with some different wedding location people. They are all booked for Saturday viewings until next year and the only other time to go is when I am at work. I don't want to miss out on available dates for the other locations but don't want to make a decision until we explore these other options. I already know that once the holidays are over all kinds of brides to be are going to come out of the wood works and start booking dates during the ever popular July.

I got a call from Chrysler demanding their $425 dollars that unbeknownst to me is apparently 14 days past due. When I turned in my lease I was never asked for money but it's in very tiny tiny print in my four foot long lease agreement so I should have insisted on site that the woman who collected my car take my money even though she didn't ask or tell me it was due immediately. I assumed I should wait until I get an invoice. I went to pick up my two prescriptions after a long day of work and find that only one had been approved so now I have to e mail my doctor and hopefully go back again and pick it up between today and Friday. I have some packages I need to mail but with the holidays I am not sure I can fit it in on lunch and by the time I get off work it's too late.

Just a bunch of little irritations and frustrations on top of the car vandalism and by the time I got home I was just really tired and upset. That much hated out of control feeling that there are things to do and no time to do it and that recurring stress about money got the best of me. But this time instead of an empty house and being left alone with my sad thoughts I had Mj to greet me at the door. He wraps his arms around me and tells me that everything is going to be OK and because he is there I know that it is. He reminds me that I don't have to handle everything on my own anymore and that he is there to help.

So, I tried to skip the whole getting upset about the fact that some mean person who sucks decided to vandalize my property but instead had a delayed reaction and got upset the day after. I have had my little meltdown moment so now I am OK. I will deal with the car damage next year. Mj has so kindly offered to go view the 3 military base wedding locations today so that we can make a final decision. He is also going to take care of mailing my packages.

Moving on.

Clueless Christmas Shopping

I didn't necessarily plan on doing my Christmas shopping yesterday. I just knew I needed to do it and I figured Monday was as good a day as any because the crowds are only going to get worse as we get closer to the big day. I only buy gifts for my immediate family so I don't ever usually do a lot of shopping which is simple. I just don't feel the need to buy something for every single friend and they don't either so it works. I am doing secret santa but I don't do cards or do co worker gifts. Am I a scrooge? Anyhow.

I walked into the mall already feeling frustrated because I honestly didn't know what to get everyone and I just didn't want to be at the mall. My first stop was Victoria's Secret and the line was half way through the store almost making me not want to find anything I want for anyone there. I got my little sis some soft lacy Angel's by VS panties from there and used a $10 off coupon (1 of 2!!) that I have. Then I went to Macy's. I knew I was going to get dad some cologne. He loves cologne and for years and years we refused to get it for him because that's all he ever wanted and for a while that is all we got him but it dawned on me that I hadn't gotten it for him in a long time. So, that was pretty easy. I got him a Hugo Boss cologne and body gel set. Hubby mentioned that he wanted a robe. I knew the Alfani ones were going to be on door buster clearance today but I looked at them and they just seemed a bit flimsy so I got him a nice Black Nautica Robe one which was on sale and I was able to use my coupon for it. I feel the most frustrated about my mom's gift. She has tons of jewelry, clothes upon clothes, and there wasn't any one thing that told me, "Yes, get that for mom." So, I did the Macy's gift card thing which I kind of hate. She does love to shop and she loves Macy's. I was going to do the same for my big sis but when I got to Walgreen's to pick up that Visa gift card I decided to get her a snuggie instead. I know, I know, those things are so weird but sometime earlier this year she was talking about how she thought they were cool and I literally thought she was joking but she wasn't. All of the snuggie colors are kind of awful but they have a leopard print one out. It's a stylish snuggie if there ever was one and so like my sister!! I got her an i tunes gift card to go with it.

So that's that. Mission accomplished in about 2 1/2 hours and I stayed within a reasonable budget which is always a huge factor in everything. I love gift giving and I really wish I could spend much, much more on the people that I love. It's so much fun buying something for someone that you just know they will love. I think that everyone will like the gifts that I chose but because I just didn't know what to get them I kept putting it off and it was turning into a chore instead of a joy. Oh, and I did get something for myself. I had a $15 off coupon at Express so as usual my goal is to go in and find one of their $19.50 items which is usually the cheapest item they carry. I found a great scarf and I only had to pay about $5 for it. Love it!!

We have no room for a tree and decorations inside such a small space seems kind of ridiculous so there is no decorating to be done. I am hoping that next year we will have a house and an actual living room and then I will be more excited about holiday decorations but for now it is so not happening. I will need to mail my sister's gift but now that the shopping is out of the way I can just sit back and enjoy the holidays.

Location, Location, Location

Saturday was very exciting because it was our first step on getting this wedding planned. I didn't really think that I would care too much about all of this. I mean, I never thought I would ever be able to have a wedding in the first place so it's not something I had previously put too much thought into. I am also not a picky bride. If anything I would refer to myself as a sensible bride on a budget and accordingly my main focus going into this was just to get this thing done and at or below budget.

Well, the budget bride part of me is still there and I will never be a bridezilla but I am finding that this is all so much fun and I am really enjoying it! I scoured the Internet for the last two weeks and came up with four potential locations that fit into our budget. I knew it was going to be raining all day Saturday which kind of sucked but rain or shine I knew this was something we were going to get taken care of. I hate rain but even that couldn't quell my excitement as we hit the very wet road at 9:30am.

Our first stop was Zosa. They offer all inclusive wedding packages that fit very nicely into our budget. It's a bed and breakfast with lots of green grass and trees all around it. The ceremony site is a gorgeous gazebo like structure with a water fountain in front of it and a bridge leading over it. There is a nice poolside area for cocktail hour and the reception room itself is pretty nice too. As I drove up to it and saw Zosa written on the wrought iron gate my first thought was how cute this place is. It is so quaint and homey. We did like the location but are having second thoughts because it is about 1 hour away from where we live and the rooms are very expensive. This would make things kind of complicated for our out of town guests.

Next stop. Walmart, just because we had a little bit of time between appointments then off to MVR. This one is the next most affordable location. They have very flexible bar/beverage options and low pricing on the per person plate fee. There is a nice white gazebo for the ceremony and an upstairs room for the reception. I wasn't that crazy about the maroon drapes or the maroon chairs so I'd definitely have to get chair covers which would really make the room pop and they do provide nice floral center pieces which no other locations does.

We stopped to eat at a mall overloaded with traffic and people reminding me that I have not done ANY Christmas shopping and then off to the 3rd location. The H Hotel apparently is undergoing renovation so the coordinator showed us around with carpet and drape swatches in hand so we can see what the rooms are going to look like. The rooms were stripped down to concrete floors and walls but I think it's going to be very nice. There is a beautiful outdoor ceremony location with lots of green lush grass and the reception rooms have lovely floor to ceiling windows with a nice view of the garden area where the ceremony is set up. This is the most expensive so far, but Mj really likes this one and so I am going to play around with the packages offered and see if I can make it work.

The last location was a restaurant. It was more of a quick see just to find out what the set up is and if we can make it work. It didn't bowl us over. There was a nice view of the racetrack and we would have to bring in tables and chairs. The entire event would be outdoors.

I was really hoping Zosa would totally win us over to the point that the out of the way location and expensive room prices would not matter so much because their all inclusive package (including unlimited alcohol for 4 hours) gave us a lot of bang for our buck. We like the package that only has us have to arrange the photographer, flowers and cake. The MVR resort is nice enough and more affordably priced but The Handlery is a bit more scenic and the fact that it is just that much nicer makes it a bit more appealing. There are some very scenic military base options near the ocean with affordable catering that I am going to look into this week and hopefully we will be able to make the decision by next week.

We didn't get home until about 4:30 pm. It was a long, wet, but very exciting day. Mj was a trouper.

I've been doing all of this wedding stuff but I really need to get on the whole Christmas bandwagon because that is....OMG NEXT WEEK!!!

Living In A Studio With My Fiance

So, Mj has been back for two weeks and it has been absolutely wonderful. It is so nice having someone to come home to every night. Someone to hang out with and laugh with at home instead of just being alone all the time. He is my cuddle bear and it's so nice to have him by my side and in my bed at night! He's taking a break and doesn't go back to work until next month making it that much harder for me to get out of bed in the morning. Who wants to go to work when there is a cuddly snuggle bear in your bed?
He fixed the garbage disposal. I thought I'd have to replace my door lock because it gets so tight every year when it gets cold so that sometimes I am afraid that I won't be able to even get in my house. Mj figured out that all it needed was just a little WD-40. It's nice having a man around! They just know things. Things that I as a kinda girly girly never would.

The man can cook and I must say that I find it very sexy. He can throw together all kinds of things without using a cook book. He [we sort of] have made some delicious meals. I am basically his assistant seeing as how I am and always have been pretty clueless when it comes to that but he makes me want to do better. I want to be able to cook a nice dinner for my husband and maybe I'll start out with cook books.  I won't be as good as him but I will do it. We went grocery shopping this week. My cupboards have never been so stocked in the almost five years that I have lived here.

There are now two people, two people's stuff, and only about 397 square feet between us in my little studio. We have a new flat screen TV now, I have a new white desk, and the futon is on the other side of the room and the bed is where the futon is, and there is an extra closet now but you get the idea. Before he got here I'd look around and wonder, how in the world are we going to be able to make this work? I outgrew this place with just me and my stuff years ago. There is basically no storage and I've had to bring in two additional portable closets and utilize a lot of under bed storage bins to make space for my clothes. I did what I could to create additional space for him with the extra closet, clearing drawers, throwing stuff away and just hoped for the best. His entire apartment was put in storage before he went to Kosovo and he has with him the stuff he brought there and any additional things he's accumulated while there so it's been OK so far. There are about 5 storage bins of various other items that my parents are letting us store in their garage and this will just have to do for now.

I can be a bit of a neat freak about certain things but I am finding that I am doing OK with the set up. Mj has just a couple little messy habits as many of us do but they are very minor and he is just such a spectacular guy that it doesn't even bother me that much. I can get a bit particular when it comes to wanting clear table tops. Mj has a tendency to come in and empty his pockets and put stuff down haphazardly so I have used baskets for him to put miscellaneous items in that I just don't like to see scattered about. The reality is, that there really just isn't much space to put things but I think that we are going to be OK.

The anxiety and depression that I could feel creeping into my soul is gone. This may sound corny and yes it is straight from the movie Jerry Maguire, but he completes me. He really does. He is my rock. I am a better and happier person because he is around. Somehow nothing seems as frightening or impossible when he is by my side.
If we can manage to live in less then 400 square feet of space for however long it takes us to end up in a new home then that's just one more thing in addition to the whole eleven months apart that we have managed to get through together. These things will only make us stronger and I can think of no one else that I would want to go through any of this with other then Mj.

The Saver and The Spender

In every relationship there is usually a spender and a saver. It seems like some force of nature that draws opposites in this category to one another. Each person has their designated role and the silent and sometimes not so silent tug of war ensues as the pair makes their way through a life together where the subject of money is simply impossible to ignore. Just one more thing to keep things interesting and although it can be annoying at times I do think it can be a good thing. Guess which one I am? Yes, the saver.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving we went to a store to catch some of the Black Friday deals but without the massive crowds. Mj picks out a navigation system for his car. Now that I have one in my car of course he wants to be like me. After checking out the cameras and the flat screen TV's he decides on a flat screen as a Christmas present for his mom. The total for both purchases is around $750 and while my eyes are bugging out of my head he barely bats an eye.

The next day while I am at work I get an e mail from him saying that he's decided to keep the TV. What!! I can't understand this because although my TV is very small it is only temporary until we move and he has a large flat screen TV in storage and purchased a projector while he was overseas. Additionally, he has a regular TV in storage as well. Why in the world do we need essentially, 5 TVs between us? What is he going to get his mother now on top of this huge purchase?

I walk in the door after work and find that not only has he decided to keep it but it is already neatly set up and displaying Monday night football. The old TV has been relegated to a sliver of space between the wall and the closet. I look at it and him in stunned silence. I am even more confused when he tells me that he kept the TV because he has decided that he wants to get his mother a camera instead. why isn't the TV still in the box ready to go back to the store I ask. His reply is basically that instead of taking it all the way back to the store he just decided to keep it. Just for the heck of it.

I cannot comprehend such things. You see, I am a saver. If I have extra money which is rarely these days I prefer to save it rather then indulge it. A penny saved is a penny earned and although I really really wish that some day I could walk outside and pluck a dollar off of my own personal money tree I know that is never going to happen. My last major purchases came when I moved into my place almost five years ago and was forced to by a new computer when the old one died on me and some other things to get set up in my new place. Oh, and who could forget the Ugg Boot meltdown in October and the dominoe effect of anxiety my car purchase set off last month. I plan and save for my little mini trips here and there and I do buy clothes with coupons here and there when I can. Next year I will likely have to spend a hundred or so on a new cell phone and I don't even want to think about how much my wedding dress is going to cost.

In no uncertain terms I told him this was very upsetting for me considering all of our expenses we have coming up and the fact that he isn't going back to work until mid January. I can't afford to go to Vegas with him and am agonizing over a clothing purchase I made yesterday. I don't even know how I am going to pay for some of my upcoming expenses and he just decides to keep a $400 TV just for the hell of it. "It's not fair," I basically whined. Once I got him to acknowledge my feelings then I pretty much had to get over it. I trust him not to behave recklessly and spend beyond his means and when it comes down to it his means are different then mine. I have to take that into account. The more money you have the more you can spend. Just because my strained budget can't stretch to accommodate certain luxuries doesn't mean that I have to hold him accountable to the same tight standard.

That being said, we are going to sit down come January and work on our finances together. I am good at saving and budgeting and he pretty much buys what he wants. Mostly because he can. He is not out of control but to keep him on track I want to come up with a reasonable budget for him based on his expenses and income. Not mine. It's only fair. As a couple, we need to work together by discussing big purchases-not that I will ever make any!! We also need to settle on a system of savings and managing our joint finances that is comfortable for both of us. We have the joint savings which we do deposit money in and we have a joint checking account but haven't really done too much with it. I think it's always best for partners to still have their own individual accounts too.

When you think about it two savers together would have NO fun. Life would be filled with cheap low budget trips and stress over every penny. Two spenders together would find themselves in a world of financial trouble highlighted by way too many things and a life that depends solely on credit cards and debt. Don't get me wrong. If you make a lot of money by all means spend it. It's the spending AT OR BELOW YOUR MEANS part and putting money aside into savings that is key. Whatever those means may be and like it or not, that determines how much you are able to spend. You might be able to spend more if you make more but that also means you should be saving more!! Oh, and having credit cards does not count as having money.

Instead of fighting about these differences we can communicate, take a little from each, balance each other out and hopefully have the best of both worlds. Well, that's the plan anyways.

*Frugalista Money Tip: Spend at or below your means and save at or above your means*

Night Out On The Town VIP Style

Wine Tasting In The City

It's Sunday night and we have just spent a nice evening together watching football and making pizza which rivaled any that I've ever had in a restaurant. I turn around and see him sleeping peacefully on the bed behind me and I can hardly believe that he is here. When he wraps his strong warm arms around me I close my eyes and sigh thinking that it just doesn't get much better then this. This is what I've been missing all of these months. This is what I needed to help put myself back together again. He's been home for exactly one week and I have truly enjoyed each and every day.

Last night the limo came to pick us up at 5 pm on the dot. I knew that it was coming because I have been planning this for quite a while but he didn't realize it until the limo driver called to tell me he had arrived. We climbed into our black chariot for the night and immediately popped open the bottle of wine chilling in the fully stocked limousine bar. Off we went. Where to, only I and the limo driver knew!

First stop was wine tasting in the city at a very quaint and homey Wine and Culinary Arts Center downtown. We each had 3 tastes of wine lined up in front of us along with a meat and cheese platter. We took our time sampling the the various cheeses and wines. My favorite was the white but Mj liked one of the reds. When we were ready to go we called our driver. I like the way that sounds!! And we were off to dinner at another location carefully selected by me. I considered numerous restaurants for our dinner. I checked out menus online. I read reviews-which hardly ever helps because there are always conflicting ones. I had chosen a place downtown but he had just went out there the night before so I wanted us to go somewhere different. A co worker had given me a pack of cards with restaurant coupons and I looked through the stack one more time just hours before we left and decided that one of those looked perfect.

I was immediately pleased when we walked into the cozy restaurant which was a cross between a swanky downtown lounge and a sports bar. We were seated right away at a white leather booth by the window facing about 3 flat screen TV's. Mj immediately found a crab cake appetizer and a seafood pasta dish he liked and it didn't take me long to settle on a cheeseburger and fries-calories be damned. The combination of feeling like a VIP seeing as how I have a driver and all, being deliriously happy to be out with my man, and being more then half way to buzzed apparently went straight to my head. Despite the fact that I can't remember the last time I ordered a burger or fries in a restaurant I knew right away that it's exactly what I needed to really live it up. We both enjoyed our meal but there were doggy bags for both of us on the way out. Oh, and did I mention dessert? Only my favorite chocolate molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream. I'd gone off to the ladies room and came back to find out that Mj knew just what to order. We each grabbed a spoon and dug in. It couldn't have been a more perfect meal. Go me for picking what turned out to be the perfect restaurant.

To cap off the night I had the driver take us to the beach which was about 15 minutes from the restaurant. We held hands as we walked along the sidewalk over looking the water and watched the white waves stand out against the black night as they crashed against the dark shadowy rocks that we could barely make out. The otters on the beach looked more like clumps of seaweed against the sand until Mj pointed out to me one that was moving. Inching it's way slowly across the sand as all of the others slept. I wondered if that one had insomnia! We have been there twice for daytime picnics but it was something different to be there at night.

We made our way back to the limo and enjoyed a mixed drink on the ride back home. Mj is such an amazing guy and he is so good to me. He told me what a great time he had and that I did a great job of planning our night out and that is exactly what I was hoping for. I really wanted to wine and dine him as he has so often done for me. I've been agonizing over money lately, but once we were on our way out that night none of that mattered to me. I was so glad to be there with him and I just wanted us to have a good time. It made me happy that I could do something special for him and for us. We have waited a long time to be together and it's been one year since we decided that we wanted to be together forever. This was a great way to celebrate. Cheers to us....and to more fun times ahead of us.

I am Thankful

I may not always have everything I want but I certainly have the things that I need and this is what I am thankful for:
  • My wonderful friends and family.
  • My fiance is home, and just in time for the holidays.
  • I have a stable job with benefits, especially at a time when so many don't.
  • I am healthy.
  • I have some great things to look forward to next year.
I have been so extremely stressed out lately and it's so easy to loose sight of what is important at times like that. Now that Mj is here I am feeling better already. When I am alone I tend to over think everything and for me that is not such a good thing.

It was not only Thanksgiving but our 1 year anniversary. One year ago today we decided to spend the rest of our lives together. He got me the most beautiful diamond earrings and a really sweet card. I told him he had a $50 limit but did he listen? Nope!! We haven't really been doing a whole lot but have been just enjoying spending time together. I have a super special night on the town planned for Saturday that he knows absolutely nothing about. It'll be a nice surprise and my gift to him for just being such a great guy and to celebrate his homecoming.

We spent thanksgiving at my parent's house which is just a 45 minute drive away. We walked in the door just as my dad was opening it and were greeted by my mom shortly thereafter. She had a bunch of pre dinner snacks nicely displayed on a side table. We were starving of course so we started snacking and watching football while my mom finished up dinner. My aunt and uncle came over and it was time to dig in. I got a little bit of everything I wanted and didn't pay too much attention to every bite which was nice. I just enjoyed it. After I helped my mom clean up the kitchen we watched a movie with my parents. They were snuggled up together on the recliner while Mj and I snuggled up on the couch. My parents just celebrated their 36 year anniversary themselves and I hope that Mj and I are still as in love as they 3 decades from now.

It was a nice yet simple and relaxing thanksgiving. I really just wanted us all to enjoy the day and each other. I am very thankful because that's exactly what we did.

He's Finally Coming Home

I will be going to pick Mj up from the airport tomorrow and I still don't really believe that he is coming home. This time last year he was working non stop and gone for most of December getting ready for his deployment. We got engaged, had Thanksgiving, Christmas and then he was gone. It's been such a long time coming but almost a year later he is finally coming home for good. I am so excited that we are finally going to get to actually be together. I have missed him so much. It's been way too long.

Four years nine months of living alone and eleven months without my fiance is coming to an end. Tomorrow his arms will be around me again and I already know it's been well worth the wait.
No more care packages, cyber dates, or frustrating lunch break phone conversations. No more wishing he were here. Instead of watching him sleep inside my computer he will be sleeping right beside me. I'll have a hand to hold, lips to kiss, and a wonderful man to share my life with. I've been kind of a mess for about the last month and am hoping that just being with Mj again is going to help to ease my restless anxious mind.
This day has flown by. I've kept myself occupied by hanging out with a friend and doing a few errands. I have made it this long; I can make it one more day. It's only 8:30 on a Saturday night but I just want to go to bed now so that tomorrow will come that much sooner.

America's Next Top Model Cycle 13 Petites: Nicole vs Laura

Nicole & Laura at the Final Runway Show

This was the first cycle ever dedicated to petite models 5'7" and under only. I thought it was great to see having always been a "short" model myself. I think it proves that you don't have to be 5'10" to look amazing in a high fashion photo. The fashion industry is stubborn so I don't see the industry standards changing any time soon but it's a start. You don't even have to win America's Next Top Model to become a successful working model. Tyra Banks has gotten so many models discovered and working who might otherwise have gotten lost in the shuffle. Her show has been a great innovator in terms of pushing the industry towards acceptance of different looks, plus size and now she is doing it again with petites.

The stakes were really high this season. There are always tears in the initial episode where the group that actually competes to be the top model is decided but this time it was even more devastating for these girls. Short models face an uphill battle and for many of them this was their one shot to ever have a chance of making it.

Nicole's transformation from beginning to end was nothing short of incredible. In the early episodes she talked like a stoner and had the personality of a rock. Her monotone voice showed even less expression then her face and she was so socially awkward. The lights were on but nobody was home. Compare that to the final episode where she is bubbly, laughing, confident, and full of smiles as she challenges for the top spot in the final runway show. She seems like a totally different person. She takes beautiful photos and once she came out of her shell there was no stopping her. Being on the show not only turned her into a model but a well adjusted woman with confidence that simply wasn't there before.

Laura is a sweetheart. She's your down home small town girl with dreams and a heart of gold. She truly is just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and that is such a rare and special quality. Her personal style was just about the worst ever seen in Top Model history but her personality was so charming and endearing that she made it to the final two anyways. It was amazing to watch her overcome her dyslexia and deliver such a likable Cover Girl commercial. Her commercial from last week's episode was horrible but she totally turned it around surprising everyone.

Neither one are exceptional on the runway and being 5'7" that probably doesn't matter so much anyways. They did a good job in the final runway show but I couldn't see either one in fashion week and not because they are petite. It would have been nice if the first petite top model winner was also amazing on the runway so she could challenge in that area as well. Looking at their photos from all prior shoots in panel it was clear to me that Nicole took better pictures and has greater range then Laura because of her high fashion edge. She is just a natural model with a fierceness in her eyes and carriage of her body that stands out in photos.

Although, I do think that Nicole is the better model based upon photos and range Laura was my sentimental favorite to win the whole thing. Also beautiful, Laura has this Polyanna like happiness and innocence about her that I envy. Nicole has the red hair but Laura is the Annie who believes that the sun will come out tomorrow. In her own words she is poor, from a small town, and has been told she is stupid yet has gone farther then anyone ever expected her to. It's a great story and it was so sad to watch her burst into tears as Nicole was announced the winner.

What a life changing and wonderful opportunity. Both girls are so lucky and fortunate to have this chance and I think they will both be very successful in their careers.

I have watched every single episode of every single cycle of America's Next Top model and Cycle 13 was no exception. I never grow tired of watching dreams come true and that is exactly what happens on this show. Reality TV has a bad rap for a lot of really good reasons. Some shows on the air are absolutely ridiculous. There are some really bad shows out there that I watch anyways but shows like this are different. Who can really trash talk a show that gives people a chance to have their dream? To me, this is the upside and the true potential of reality TV from American Idol to Project Runway or Top Chef. Sometimes people just need a chance and these shows give it to them.

Just Say Yes

I stumbled upon Yes Man on Cinemax this morning. Due to an error with Blockbuster online I ended up with zero movies for my long 3 day weekend. I look forward to having a movie to watch on weekends I stay in alone and so I'd been channel surfing trying to find something good to watch that I haven't already seen. Although, not a first round draft pick it turned out that I had really missed out because this movie was good and funny. It had a great message and it came at a time when I needed to hear it.

Zooey Deschanel's character Allison makes a comment that "life is a playground but as we grow up we forget about that along the way." Well, true but there is a reason for that. Children don't have responsibilities so life is essentially their playground. As we grow up we no longer have that luxury. We don't so much as forget we just have no choice but to grow up. Life can't be a playground when there is work, bills, and other such annoying distractions to take us away from the things we really want to do. It was never explained how Allison pays her bills by teaching a running photography class and playing in a band called Munchhausen By Proxy.

Jim Carrey's character Carl has a bank job where he's been for years without promotion. We know how he pays his bills but we also know he isn't happy. A devastating break up had caused him to sort of check out of life. He avoided friends and frequents the movie rental store so he can go home and watch movies alone instead of getting out and living life. Well, he went to a seminar and started saying yes to things he normally wouldn't and suddenly a whole new world opens up for him. One that he'd been hiding from. He meets a fun, offbeat woman (Allison) who he would have never dated at a band performance he would have never gone to. He learns to speak a new language, takes up flying lessons, and starts volunteering at homeless shelters just because. Each yes led him down a path he wouldn't have normally been on but which ultimately landed him a promotion, the ability to get over his ex, a new girlfriend, and a reconnection with friends who he had shut out. He got his life back.

I am definitely guilty of coming from a place of no. No, I can't go out downtown because the drinks are expensive and I don't want to pay for parking. No, I can't get together that night because it's a work night and I have to get home so I can get to bed. No, I can't eat that incredibly delicious looking dessert because if I go over a certain amount of calories then the world will end. Ha!! A lot of times it's simply because I am so caught up in my daily routine and feel so trapped by my limitations that I won't let myself venture out. I mean, what is the worse that could happen really? What might I be missing out on that I don't even know about?

I've been guilty of shutting the world out in the past. Choosing instead to isolate myself because it felt easier then venturing out and facing things and people that I didn't feel equipped or even willing to handle. Thankfully, my mind set has improved and along with it so have I, however there are times when I find myself slipping back and sticking to routine just because it's safe. Ultimately, I can only do what I can do. I can't quit my job in favor of traveling across Europe just because it's something I've always wanted to do but even if it's just being more open minded, less fearful and more positive that's a step in the right direction.

The Time Change Agrees With Me

It's only been a full week since the time change and I have noticed a change in my sleep patterns already. I don't know for certain that it's because of the time change but it literally just started this week so I suspect it just might have something to do with it. And I am so glad! I have been getting to sleep in a timely manner AND waking up feeling rested. Instead of darkness I wake to sunshine seeping through the slats in my mini blinds. Instead of not sleeping at all or waking up hours before my alarm and feeling totally wrecked I am waking up at or just a little before my alarm and feeling like a person that actually got some sleep. I am still taking the sleeping pills. There is a good chance that I no longer need them but I am afraid to go without. I am enjoying this whole getting a good night's sleep thing way too much to risk it.

In other news....Mj comes home NEXT WEEK!! We will be in the same time zone by Sunday and in the same zip code by Thursday or Friday at the latest. It really snuck up on me because it literally wasn't until this week that I knew this for sure. As a coping mechanism I have learned to not really think about it too much when all I have is a general timeframe that can get changed at any moment by the powers that be. Somehow not really conceptualizing it allows me to long for it a little less which is helpful now because he's been gone for so darn long. At the beginning the end was all I thought about but eventually my aching heart got worn out. It already felt like there was no end in sight and not ever really knowing the date didn't help. So, not thinking about that actual end has kept me in the here and now which is where I needed to be to cope.

There are so many emotions coming at me all at the same time. We have been away from each other more then we have been together during our relationship seeing as how we had 8 months together before he left and he's been gone for about 11. This is our first time living together and actually getting to really BE together. It's almost surreal that he is actually going to come home and he won't be leaving again. No more way too short weekends together or missing him like crazy for months on end. I have so much faith in our love and our relationship that I doubt anything can shake it but I can't help but feel a little nervous. I've been waiting and dreaming about my future with this man and next week it will finally be real.

They Think She's Chunky?

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders "Making The Team Season 4" on the CMT channel
photo credit

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are for the most part gorgeous. There is no pretense about the fact that in order to be on the team you have to look good. Sure, they are talented dancers but NFL cheerleader's are also meant to be eye candy. Your appearance counts equally as much as your actual dancing ability and the DCC director Kelli and Judy the choreographer make no bones about it. That tiny uniform will not be extended to fit the girl. The girl must fit the uniform and you will not make the team without passing Kelli and Judy's physical inspection.

The girls dance and gyrate in their tiny little boy shorts and sports bra's during each intense rehearsal. Rookies in pink and vets in Navy. Full hair and make up. These girls are not just pretty Barbie Dolls though. They sweat on top of that hair and make up because dancing your heart out in front of Kelli and Judy is no walk in the park. Their eagle eyes see everything. There are standards. Which, I think is great and what makes DCC the amazing organization that it is. They have a great reputation and the competition to be a part of the squad is probably the fiercest out of any NFL cheer squad.

I was really surprised when Grace, who is one of the rookie DCC training camp candidates, was singled out as "looking big." She seems to be a petite girl. Likely 5'3" or less. She appears athletic with a flat belly and toned legs. At the end of every practice the girls on the chopping block are called into the office to either be cut or given more time to improve. Grace was told that most of the other girls her size are 112 lbs or so and that at 123 lbs she needs to slim down a little. She eagerly accepted the criticism and agreed that she would hit the cardio hard to try to loose some weight.

Every season there always seem to be a couple girls that are singled out as having "weight problems." Usually, I can kind of see what they mean. Though in great shape for normal standards you have to consider that the uniform is quite unforgiving and it does take a small very close to perfect figure to make it look good. They aren't necessarily looking for skinnie minnies either though. Most of the girls while slim still look healthy and fit. I was shocked to see a girl that looks as fit as Grace actually referred to as looking "chunky."  I can only imagine what kind of message it might send to young girls watching to see a tiny girl like this referred to as overweight.

I love the show as I do all things dance and cheerleading related.  I enjoy seeing the process of what it takes to be a DCC from auditions all the way to the first game.    

A Kidney For My Dad

Great news today from my mom. They found a donor kidney for my dad. It is supposed to arrive around 3pm today and he is scheduled for surgery around 5pm. My dad started Dialysis earlier this year. His kidneys finally shut down on him after many years of poor eating and exercise habits that ultimately led to Diabetes. He was on insulin for a while before the kidney's finally quit altogether. He is AB+ so they didn't expect the wait to be long and it wasn't. Thank goodness.

He is so happy and I am so happy for him. He's been doing Dialysis 3 days a week for four hours at a time. It is time consuming and can be painful. Ultimately, Dialysis simply can't do what a real kidney can. He sees people walking into the Dialysis center looking progressively sicker and more worn down then the week before. On more then one occasion a patient has been taken from the Dialysis center to the hospital due to complications and he doesn't want to be next. He receives his Dialysis through a surgically created fistula connecting two of his veins together. It left some scarring and when touched you can literally feel the blood rushing beneath his skin. I still don't understand the actual mechanics of it all. It's been hard to see him looking so thin and weak. Dialysis takes its toll on the body after a while but thanks to this transplant he can leave all of that behind.

My eyes welled up with tears when my mom told me. I am happy that this is finally happening but it is also very scary. That kidney HAS to work. I am just hoping that everything goes well and that my dad can be on the road to better health again very soon.

  • Bad news. My mom called me around 3 pm and said the transplant is off. Apparently, my dad was the 2nd one offered the kidney. The first couldn't accept it due to some medical reason and so by the time they got it prepped for my dad they felt the kidney was not fresh enough. What a roller coaster. My poor dad is so disappointed. They were at the hospital and getting prepped for the surgery. I can only hope that another comes up for him very soon.

Diet Fanatic

My fav "Lasagna Classico" at Olive Garden. I order it EVERY time I go.
I don't care about the rumors that it comes from a microwave.

I was talking to my big sis over the weekend and she was telling me about these insane new exercise video's that she bought that are in fact called the Shaun T "Insanity" workout and rightfully so based on what she told me. They are boot camp style drills and exercises where even the hard bodies in the background can't finish it and have to quit and take breaks. How often do you see that in work out videos? Not in any I've ever done. Apparently the work out is impossible and Shaun T himself is the only one on the planet who might be able to get through it.

Anyhow, she has been on a mission to loose weight for a while now. She was successful with Weight Watchers some years ago but since then the weight has crept back on and she has been almost powerless to stop it. She can and does exercise with the best of them but the problem that always stops her from reaching her goal is that she can't control her eating habits. She is somewhat of an emotional eater and like so many people, just loves food. She struggles with having the willpower she needs to get where she wants to to be.

It struck me that while she and so many in this world seem to be addicted to food I find that I have the opposite problem. People who know me also know that I am "weird" about food. It's something that has kind of followed me over the years and seems to be a part of who I am. My addiction is to dieting and like it or not I seem to be pretty good at it. It is a strange realization but based on my past it must be true. Some people might say they wish they had my problem and while it may sound desirable it comes with it's own set of negative pitfalls and consequences that are undesirable.

I have some kind of "fat phobia" and I have a love hate relationship with food. Its delicious, fun, and nourishes my body but it is also sometimes my enemy for reasons that I have not fully ever understood. I tend to be a picky eater to begin with but on top of that I really have a strong aversion to eating too many calories. Make no mistake about it. I love candy, Chocolate Molten lava cake with hot fudge and vanilla ice cream dessert, pizza, [light] beer and cheesy fried appetizers. There are days where this little fixation flies out the window and I eat mindlessly but the majority of the time I am annoyingly and acutely aware of everything I put into my mouth. It is natural to eat when you are hungry. The symptoms of hunger such as growling stomach or headache ensue and we eat right? Well, for me there is some kind of disconnect. In my case, I either don't fully recognize these cues or I ignore them altogether.

I do not have an eating disorder. You have only to look at me to see that I am of "normal" size proportions. I haven't been to the gym in a long time (though I need to). I have my weaknesses like cheese and bread. I am not "afraid" of food or eating in public. I just don't like eating too much of it and I do fixate on weight. I have to be very careful to ensure that I get enough nutritional value out of what I do eat. I must admit that more often then not I fail miserably particularly when I am alone to the point where I am under eating. I've lost some weight as a result. When Mj comes home I am hoping that he can help me to get back on track with better eating habits. I want to be healthy and I am not so sure that I am doing such a good job of that on my own.

I think it's just a quirk of my personality. I mean, I obsess over finances too!! So, my all time ultimate splurge meal is a McDonald's #2 (If that's still it's assigned's been so long). It's the value meal with 2 cheeseburgers, french fries, and a soda. My freshman year in college I used to eat that meal super sized along with an overabundance of Domino's Pizza and Cup O Noodles. And yes, that is where my freshman 15 came from! Thankfully, it is long gone and then some. I'm going to order that #2 again some day just to say "to hell with it" and when I do, I'll be sure to write about every greasy delicious bite.

Home Alone For Halloween

Well, some of the car purchase stress has subsided and I am actually starting to feel more excited about my new little car. I went back today to buy the warranty. No amount of badgering could have convinced me to buy it yesterday on top of everything else but after sleeping on it I decided I had better go ahead and do it. Mj offered to pay for it but I think I've already taken enough money from him so I put it on one of my low interest credit cards. So doing the numbers it has basically cost me close to 20K to get into this car and out of my lease. Ouch!!! That includes the cost and warranty for the new car, the return to dealer fee and cost to fix the front windshield for the Liberty. Incidentally, that windshield crack showed up only about 3 weeks ago.  I had to replace the whole thing just last year. This is all quite shocking for a budget minded frugalista such as myself.

So, I picked up Subway for dinner and one pack of Mike & Ike's in honor of Halloween. I will watch a movie-The Proposal. Then thanks to Universal Sports which is broadcasting my favorite sport that is only popular during the Olympics, I'll get to watch World Championships (Gymnastics).  Super exciting I know!!

My New Ride

My cute little fully loaded gas guzzling Liberty

My new fuel efficient, dependable yet sporty Civic

Oh my what an exhausting week it's been. Running to car dealerships on my lunch break and after work. Getting home late. Carting stacks and stacks of papers with different car listings on them and fielding calls from car dealerships all day. The haggling, the negotiating. It's awful. After working my 9 hour days I got my Friday off today and it felt so good. I really needed it. So, I didn't like the Sebring. It just didn't do it for me. It had some of the bells and whistles that I wanted but I just didn't like it. So, the search continued and after test driving a Honda on Tuesday I decided that I would let go of my Jeep and try to get into a Civic.

Mj and I agreed that 17K out the door is the most that we would spend when it quickly became obvious that I was not likely to get a low mileage EX for anything less. I almost gave up after yesterday when a dealership would not accept my offer. Then, silly me I realize that I had a 39 and not a 36 month lease like I assumed. My lease isn't due's due in February 2010!! Well, that really took the pressure off so I decided that I'd keep searching anyways and if I didn't find anything today then I'd just wait for Mj to come back so I don't have to do it alone.

I hate it that I am putting so much money into a car but this is it. I wanted something dependable with good gas mileage that appeals to me and that I can keep forever. And, I got it. The first place I went to wouldn't take 17k but they countered with 17,800 which is $16,100 plus tax, title, license. An amazing bargain for an 07 Honda Civic EX with navigation.

I almost had a nervous breakdown and Mj had to talk me "down" numerous times. I am soooo grateful to him that he helped me get this car. He is so sweet. He said he was actually proud of me for handling the whole thing as well as I did. So, I felt a little sick to my stomach for a while but that feeling is slowly subsiding. I found out that my credit scores from the big 3 are 831, 788, and 819. My frugality and fiscal discipline have paid off in some way.

I am excited that I will no longer be held hostage by my poor gas mileage. I literally would avoid leaving home sometimes just because I didn't want to use up my precious gas that didn't last for very long in my Jeep. It almost feels frivolous what with house hunting, Christmas and wedding planning approaching. Really, that money could have been used towards so many other things. I am still going to have to face the $425 turn in fee and any other charges from Chrysler when I turn in the lease. In the long run I think it's a good decision though and ideally, I won't be in the market for a car for a long time to come. I am so glad it's over.

Lease Up Decision Time

I'm tired of dating. Although I am ready to settle down I have come to a point where I still want to explore my options. Just to make sure. I am engaged to be married and we plan on setting the big date very soon but I'm not talking about men I'm talking about cars. My 3 year lease is up and I will not be leasing again. I love everything about my adorable little Jeep Liberty. Everything that is, except the gas mileage. The car before this was also a Jeep with poor gas mileage and so was the car before it. Bad gas mileage that is, but not a Jeep. I have had horrible gas mileage on every car I've ever owned. So, before I buy out my lease I've decided to see what I could get that is comparable to what it will cost me to buy out my Jeep AND has a lot of the features I love about it, but with better gas mileage. Practically impossible. In fact, I wasn't even considering it at all and had long ago made up my mind about buying my lease until this week.

Used is fine. I won't go lower then 06 or higher then 40,000 miles. Considering my price range I know I might loose out on some of the features I love about my jeep. The leather seats, sun roof, 6 CD changer, and the little thingy that tells me what temperature it is and how many miles there are until my next oil change. And, I'll have to go sedan when I really love sitting up high in my little compact SUV. I've always thought a Honda would be a dependable solid choice of car that I would want to keep forever so I've priced those. I also found a Chrysler Sebring with super low mileage and a dynamite price from the same dealer I leased my car from so I stopped by after work. However, when I showed up the car was nowhere to be found.

The manager wanted me to wait because the car was due to arrive in an hour, but I wasn't having it. It was 6 by now, it had been a long day and I was ready to go home. He basically tried to threaten me into staying by saying that another person was interested in the car and that it may no longer be available if I wait until tomorrow. He tries to get me to "start paperwork" and sell me a car that wasn't even there. The thing he doesn't understand, is that I love my jeep. I really do. It was the first car that had everything I wanted and I've been really happy driving it ever since. I will not be devastated if that Sebring is gone tomorrow. I have a feeling that he may have fabricated that phantom buyer anyhow because when I refused to stick around he said he'd see me tomorrow. I hold the cards here. In fact, I am going to try to negotiate the price even lower then it already is. I have some cash and I am more then happy to stick with my Jeep so he can't scare me into making an on the spot decision.

He underestimates how much I really love my jeep. I am so over spending money on cars. I need to have one and it needs to be dependable but as everyone knows they are not a good investment. Leasing is not considered the most economical thing to do but the first time I did it I really needed security. My first car had gave me such problems then died inexplicably one day forcing me to make a quick decision. I fell in love with the jeep and I couldn't afford it any other way. I planned to buy it but didn't because the 2nd time they offered me such a dynamite deal that leasing and then buying it would only put me about $600 over the actual sticker price. I couldn't have done better if I'd straight out financed it.

Whatever car I go with will hopefully be with me for a long time to come. I will need to keep it until it dies. I need to see how I feel when I first lay eyes on that Sebring and what it's like to sit behind the wheel. If there is no wow factor, no connection then I will keep my Jeep. Not caring is really the best negotiation tool there is and I plan to use it to my advantage. The lease is up on Halloween so I should have my answer very very soon. Thank goodness because I hate having decisions like this to make.

I Don't Wanna Commute

When I started my first job out of college I had to commute. I was still living in N. County and my job was in SD so I commuted about 45 miles each way for 6 months and I hated it. Since then the longest commute I've had is right now at about 30 minutes. Definitely doable. But going back to an hour? Grrrrrr. I am not happy about that at all. I've known for a while that there would be a possibility of me having to commute again and now that it is upon me I am already dreading it. When Mj comes back we are planning to start house hunting and because Mj's job is in LA we need to pick some place in between for us to live. Mj's commute will actually be even worse then mine but he has a really good job there. It would be perfect if he could find one down here but I am kind of thinking that won't happen with the job market the way it is.

I think I'm tired now? I can only imagine how I'm going to feel after adding 1 1/2 hours to my day on each end sitting in traffic. Not to mention the expense. I can only drive about 280 miles on a 16 gallon tank of gas before hitting empty. 80 miles a day means I will have to get gas about every other day and it's costing me about $55 to fill up at the current gas prices so I would end up spending about $450 minimum a month on gas. More than twice what I have to spend now. I really don't know if I can afford that. Not only will I be worn out but I will be really broke too!! I know there are people that commute even farther but so what. I don't want to do it at all.

Which leads me to my other fear. Having to rent out my condo that I absolutely can't sell because of the horrible market. My condo is a studio which is obviously too small for two people to live in long term so I am going to have to become a landlord. Which is something I never wanted to do. This is a very expensive city to live in. After my divorce I didn't want to move back home or rent out a room from a stranger. I wanted to live alone but not in another crappy apartment where the rent could go up at any time causing me to have to move. The price was right so I bought it after my divorce pretty much planning to live here alone for the rest of my life. Well, those plans have changed and I am going to have to change right along with it but I am scared. I worry about having to pay two mortgages. What if I can't get a renter? What if the renter trashes my place? How do I handle repairs? I don't have a huge amount of cash flow so this is a very scary venture for me to take on but I don't see any other option.

I've known that all of these things were going to have to happen since Mj and I got engaged, but now it's getting closer to actually happening. I am kind of freaking out about all of this already but hey, that's what I do.

The silver lining in this of course is that I get to live in a house which I haven't had the pleasure of doing since I moved out of the parents house after College. And I get to live with Mj. I have to try to focus on that instead.

Tardy for The Party Whooooaaaaa

So once again I have found myself sucked into the Housewives of Atlanta. I started out not paying any attention to it whatsoever because the drama from last season left me a little disgusted and I didn't want to be bothered with it. It just comes on so often that here and there I'd find myself watching different parts of different episodes and before I knew it I was actually watching the show.

Let me preface this by saying that no one is perfect and quality of character is subjective. If I were the subject of a reality show undoubtedly I would likely find that a lot of people really don't like me. That being said, I really wish Sheree would shut up about all of this independence. She is always talking about how she is successful, confident, and has accomplished so much when it's obvious that she really hasn't. In the opening credits she says "People are intimidated by my success," but I'm still trying to figure out what success she's talking about. I'm not going to say that there is inherently anything wrong with marrying into money but its funny how she is the one who talks the loudest and the longest about all of her so called independence when she didn't earn that money. She married and then divorced into it. I just love the haughty way in which she refers to herself as a designer. She is an attractive fit lady but there isn't a modest bone in her body and that is not cute. Oh, and if I hear her (or Nene) talk about the "who's who of Atlanta" one more time I will scream. Her show turned out better then I expected thanks to Dwight but he sure did have his hands full with her and her ego.

Then there is Kim who basically has a benefactor. She has this mysterious fiancé who is actually married but pays her bills and keeps her in the lifestyle to which she is accustomed. Which, apparently includes about $12,000 per month in hair pieces. What the heck? If you spend that much money on hair pieces it shouldn't look like cheap Barbie hair. Wonder when he plans on getting divorced so they can actually get married. Oh, and is there anyone in the world who could ever convince her that she can't sing? I could do a better job on Tardy for the Party then she did. Just put me in the studio! I was baffled about how she continually talked about wanting to do a song and "what part is Nene going to do," but then when asked to get into the studio says, "I'm not wanting to sing." Uh....haven't you been going on and on about how you want to be a one hit wonder? She had the nerve to kick Nene off of the song the minute she found someone willing to synthesize her voice into half way decency. She literally stepped out of the studio and ditched Nene. Overall, she seems really fake and untrustworthy but, I must say her wigs are getting better.

Kudo's to Lisa for taking their impending life style down grade in stride. Only 9 acres!! Well, $200,000 per year in housing upkeep was pushing it. I think her and Ed are such a cute couple. She managed to put on her fashion show ahead of Sheree but it is quite clear that a fashion show does not a designer make. I think both she and Sheree clearly have a passion for fashion and a good taste in clothing but I don't really think that makes them designers.

Candy is the newest addition to the show but she is my favorite! She has such a genuine and bright smile. She really seems to be grounded and nice but she will tell you like it is if necessary. I think she has a great voice and I hope that she is able to revive her career like she wants to. She lives a fabulous life style like the others but unlike the others she has worked for it and earned every penny. I thought it was really messed up that Kim didn't go to her performance after she so kindly was willing to produce a song for her even though she can't sing a lick. Kim has a full time live in nanny and she can't take a couple hours out of her night to come see the show. Her daughter probably had a cold or something. My heart goes out to her for loosing her former fiancé AJ so tragically.

Nene. What can I say about Nene. She is hilarious. I REALLY didn't like her the first season but I guess she is growing on me with all of her "Neneisms." I hope she can find some peace on this quest to find her father though because it is obvious that she has a really difficult time with not knowing.

My, oh my, these ladies are so fortunate. Not that they don't have problems because everybody does. They don't HAVE to go to a 9-5 job everyday and hope for retirement some day. And regardless of what I think of some of their singing, designing, writing and other endeavors I think it's great that they have the opportunity to follow their bliss...whether they suck at it or not. I mean, at least they get the chance to try. Well, with enough money and/or media attention anybody can be anything they want to really.

I have to admit that I do find it entertaining otherwise I wouldn't have stayed up to watch the Season Finale. I may have been tardy for the party but it didn't take me long to get into it once I got there.

Is College Really Worth It These Days?

I just read an article on MSN money about how the average cost of a 4 year private University education has climbed to $35,636 per year. I am so glad that I am not a young high school graduate today who has to make the decision as to whether going to College is worth the money or not. When I graduated from high school it wasn't a question. You might have to go the 2 year Community College route first but bottom line, going to College was always seen as the way to go no matter what. These days, I am just not so sure.

The economy is basically in the toilet right now, but even if it weren't it is beginning to seem that the sheer cost of a College degree has outstripped and over shadowed the very purpose for which it was intended. Yeah, you may go to College for personal growth and enrichment purposes but ultimately your intention is usually to gain a return on that investment in income once you enter the job market. Trina Thompson may have been the only one ridiculous enough to sue over it but she is definitely not the only one who feels short changed.

Are 4 year Universities only for the wealthy and those who are smart enough or poor enough to earn full scholarships and grants? It seems the Community College route 1st is the only way to go if you are willing and/or able to because to spend $140,000 on a degree, especially to work in a field that is not a typically high earning one is plain stupid. State school prices are out of control too. Gone are the days where you could just go and major in general studies or whatever else just to get the degree and the satisfaction of a goal accomplished and worry about the field you will enter later. You could always wait until you get your Master's for a more focused approach once you figure out what you really want to do. I really don't think that's such a good idea these days. I didn't really have a plan but I knew I wanted a degree so I went and majored in a Sociology but if I were in the situation that these new high school graduates are facing and I didn't have a solid career path and plan in mind I might not have gone at all. And, if that had been the case I wonder where I would be now?

I worry about my little sis who is going to an extremely expensive school in an expensive city too far away to cut costs by staying at home with such stiff requirements that hardly anyone can even finish in 4 years. She has taken out a lot of student loans while she works part time. I want nothing more then for her to hit it big and be so successful that the student loans won't hurt her. I believe that if anyone can do it she can and I really hope that she does.

I am very glad I got my degree. I went to a 4 year publicly funded University. I graduated with 16k in loans and felt that wasn't really all that bad. I lived on campus (apartment, not super expensive must buy a meal plan residence halls) for two years and commuted the rest. I didn't get to "go away" to college but that's OK. My semester exchange out of state at Spelman College my junior year more then made up for it. The loans are paid off, I don't want to start all over and I still don't know what I want to be so I am not even considering a Master's degree at this point. I feel better about myself in general having earned my BA and I do believe that even though it was not a requirement for my current job it certainly helped me get it.

As an adult online and accelerated programs seem to be the route many are taking but those are by no means cheap. There are many who haven't gone to college who are highly successful and some who have degrees that are barely squeaking by. What is one to think? I wouldn't discourage anyone from getting a degree. I'm just saying that you really need to be careful about how much money you are willing to invest and cut corners financially where you can because there really are no guarantees on what you will get out of it. Crippling loans can carry huge consequences.

If you insist on going to that prestigious school because it has an excellent reputation, is far away from home and has the total college experience written all over it that's great, but be prepared for the possibility that you might be paying for it for the rest of your life.

Ladies Only Monday Night Football

Last night a girlfriend and I got together for Monday night football and homemade pizza night. Her husband is gone a lot for work and my man is out of the country so we end up watching football alone the majority of the time (among other things). She is such the creative Susie home maker type. She is my idol!! When I got there she already had the dough made. Whole wheat made from scratch no less. Our primary topping was chicken that she cooked and seasoned herself. Not the Tyson pre-cooked kind that I wanted to bring. Our other toppings included olives, onions, tomatoes, feta cheese and basil. She didn't have a roller so the crust puffed up quite a bit, but I liked it that way. It was like deep dish style and I love me some bread. We had Budweiser Select 55. Two each thank you very much. It's like how low can you go when it comes to light beers. They have one upped Miller 64 and seeing as how I can't tell the difference I'll go for the lower calorie count brand every time.

This particular game wasn't all that exciting so we were chatting through most of it. It was a really fun time. It's nice to have great girlfriends to hang with and while I don't have a lot I really appreciate the ones I do have. There was a time when I really didn't have any friends at all and so I realize the importance of having these wonderful women in my life. There was also a time just two years ago when I didn't understand football at all. It seemed so complicated and confusing for some reason so I usually just tuned it out and wrote it off as something I just didn't get. But I finally said, if you can't beat 'em join em and I starting asking questions and really paying attention when football was on TV. Now I can really enjoy watching it along with everyone else. I'm not just cheering because everyone else is...I actually know what's going on.

To me watching a football game is a little mini social event and the whole experience is enhanced by having food AND friends. At home or at a bar, it's so much better shared then watched alone. Monday night football was a blast. Just the girls.

Fall Shopping Extravaganza

Plane Ticket $435. Car Registration $330. Getting some nice quality fall basics that look good on me and make me feel good. Priceless. So, I did it. I knew that if I waited even a week that It wasn't gonna happen so on the way home from work on Monday just over 24 hours after the Ugg meltdown I drove to Burlington Coat factory and bought a classic Brown Miss Sixty Pea Coat with a hood and a finely detailed pleat in the back.
You can't go wrong with a classic Pea Coat
Then I brazenly drove to Macy's where I proceeded to try on every tall boot in stock until I discovered the comfort and casual chick effortlessness of the Brown Steve Madden suede slouch boot. It only took a minute to fall in love with a camel colored pair of Alfani Flex n Step pumps. The pumps are only about an inch high and have all of this wonderful padding inside so that they feel like Easy Spirits on the inside but still look fashionable on the outside.
I got a similar pump in camel

I got this boot in brown
They were all on sale and will make great additions to my slowly growing wardrobe. A friend of mine was looking at some old (very embarrassing) pics of me and he made the comment "You've never really been into fashion." Way harsh. But it's true. I have never been stylish or even close to trendy. Not for lack of trying, but I just haven't ever had the best eye when it comes to putting things together. And you really need that when you are trying to look good on a budget. I'd buy something just because it was cheap without really considering the garment itself and how it's going to look with other things. So, I'm workin' on it. Sometimes I wonder why I even care. Out of all of the things to care about in the world what difference does it make if I look cute? Well, if it makes me happy and is not hurting anything then who the hell cares why it matters!! If it does it does.

Then Mj booked our airline tickets to Delaware. Whoa! I could feel my anxiety meter going up a bit but for better or for worse I was really glad that I didn't wait because that would have surely been the nail in the coffin for my Fall shopping spree extravaganza. Yeah, our anniversary is next month and Christmas will be here before we know it. I have already started making my little lists of money spent vs planned future expenses vs my budget. But it's OK. I went on a mini shopping spree and the sky didn't fall down. Big surprise there! It really is gonna be OK. Now, the only question is when the heck am I gonna get to wear the jacket and boots. Fall was was in the air last week but today It's supposed to be 80 degrees!

Ugg Anxiety

I have a problem with spending money. It's not what you're probably thinking though. Whereas most people have a problem with spending too much money I have a problem with spending too little. How is that a problem you might wonder. Well, when buying a pair of Ugg boots (that I actually have the money for) causes me to burst into tears unexpectedly while telling Mj about them during our cyber Date....Well, that is when it could be considered a problem.

I'm very organized with my bills. I get paid once a month, pay my bills online once a month, and go to the ATM once a month. I have a set amount of money transferred automatically from my checking to my savings accounts so I don't even have to think about that. A lot of people find the one paycheck a month difficult, but it's no problem at all for me. I know how to make a budget and stick to it.

I was feeling pretty footloose and fancy free when it came to my finances for a change and that felt good. I was looking forward to a few fall clothing purchases I'd been planning on. I happily bought a few shirts and everything was fine until I bought the Ugg boots. Suddenly all of my money anxiety came rushing back to me full force and I began to feel that I shouldn't buy anything at all for myself for the rest of the entire year. What made me think I could buy a pair of $140 Ugg's when I have car registration due ($300!!), an out out state trip planned, a special anniversary outing to plan and Christmas around the corner? It hits me that the only reason I've been feeling ok about money lately is only because I really haven't been spending any. Aside from the necessities like gas and groceries and food out here and there I really haven't spent too much money on myself in a while.

It's not like I buy a lot of things for myself. I don't have the most expensive taste. Well, except for my jeans which I feel are a must after years and years of wearing cheapos!! But, I know when to stop. I have my core set of designer denim that look and feel great so I won't be buying anymore for well...ever. I have one exquisite expensive purse (that I never in a million years would have bought for myself); but that was courtesy of Mj (bless his heart!).

I actually got some off brand cheap Uggs last year and one of the boots actually stretched out around the leg. They didn't even make it one season. I am that person who will take a trip but not want to buy any souvenirs, partake in any activities that cost much money, or even eat at a nice restaurant while I am there. I am usually so thrilled just to be on the darn trip and I feel like I can't spend much more then what it's costing me to travel there. About 3 years ago when money was tighter then ever I actually forgot what it felt like to be in a mall. I stopped going because it was too hard to be there knowing I couldn't buy a single thing and if I needed any clothing item at all for any reason I was only allowed to go to Target, Walmart, or Old Navy. I couldn't even take joy in window shopping. I am okay with buying a top or a pair of shoes here and there but the minute I exceed what is comfortable for me I freak out. Is this what I have to go through every time I want something special just for me that costs more then $100 dollars?

Well, it's pretty ridiculous. I've been saving money since I was 16 years old and I have never had credit card debt beyond what I could reasonably pay off one purchase at a time. I use a credit card for monthly expenses to get a cash back bonus but its within my budget so I can pay it off monthly. I have always done the right thing when it comes to money and finances-it just came naturally to me. So, why can't I indulge every now and then? Part of my rationale for not wanting to is that my fiscal discipline is what got me where I am in the first place and I don't want to mess it up. I am also of the belief that you can't have everything you want. If there is something I want that I don't feel I can reasonably justify on my income then I can't have it. Plain and simple. I may not like it but I can live with it because that's just how it goes. I already feel like I don't save enough although I do what I can, so that reason alone is why I shouldn't be out spending money on expensive items and outings.

I work hard. I save. I am responsible with my money. I know deep down that I deserve the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of my labor every now and then but there is always that voice in my head saying "YOU CAN'T HAVE IT!!!"

So, I am working on allowing myself to live and enjoy things because I do realize that a lifetime of denying myself this and that just because I'm not rich is really not what I want for myself. I will never be a shopaholic. There is only so much money available in my budget for that, but I shouldn't feel bad for using it, within my means. The tears weren't really about the Uggs. I love those cozy boots and I don't regret buying them. What upset me is the anxiety that I so often feel just from buying something that should make me happy.

I still have money coming to me for those two model gigs I did back August. I WILL get those fall items I've been looking forward to and I WILL enjoy it.

Make New Friends But Keep The Old

"Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold." We used to sing that song in Girl Scouts. I don't know about the whole silver and gold thing but it's so true about keeping the old friends.

My oldest and best friend was in town over the weekend. We had such a great time yesterday hanging out. She hasn't been home for an actual visit since she joined the military about two years ago although, I did see her when I went to go visit my sister in May earlier this year. No matter how much time or distance has passed between us it's just like old times when we do finally get together again. I picked her up around 3:30 and we drove downtown to grab a bite to eat but not before walking into a tiny boutique "just to get change for the parking meter" where we happened to do a little shopping on the way out! After that we walked over to the mall and shopped some more there. From store to store constantly talking along the way about anything and everything. No topic is off limits. There is really nothing that we don't feel comfortable talking to each other about.

We bought Ugg's at Nordstrom's and wore them right out of the store. The sales lady was getting really irritated with us because we kept asking her to bring out different ones and couldn't make up our minds! I got the short ones even though she tried to convince me that the tall ones looked better. Good thing too, because we spent the rest of the now chilly night on our feet. The casual daytime atmosphere has been replaced with a night time party vibe. The sound of loud music filters out as we walk past club entrances where the bouncers in all black have taken up their positions for the night. We went to a coffee shop for mocha frappuccino's and gelato. Then, wandered aimlessly about the city wandering into whatever little store that caught our attention. We didn't leave downtown until about 10:00. Oh, boy can we ever hang out!!

When it comes right down to it I don't have a whole lot of friends and of the ones I do there aren't too many that I could do that with. We had a great time remembering old times and catching up on new ones too. We've been friends since 8Th grade. We did cheerleading and gymnastics together and lived in the same neighborhood for years. She used to pick me up for school every morning in her old blue Corolla and I will never forget our wild party phase when Tijuana twice a week was standard. We are very different in personality but have always gotten along. Our lives have taken so many twists and turns over the years. We have drifted apart and been in and out of touch over the years but have always maintained our friendship nonetheless.

Incidentally, she just so happens to be the person behind setting me up with Mj. She took one look at him at a random chance meeting in AZ of all places and knew that he would be perfect for me and she was right. It is only fitting that my oldest and dearest friend would set me up with the love of my life. I am very disappointed that she won't be at our wedding. She'll be back home for Christmas and then after that I won't see her again until 2011. She'll be spending 2010 in either Iraq, Kuwait, or Afghanistan-wherever the Army decides to send her. It'll be nice to have her back for good in 2011.

Regardless of how little we might speak or how few times I see her I know she thinks about me just as I think about her. It's just that kind of rare and true friendship. I am so glad that we have stayed in touch over the years and I know that we always will.