Friday, February 27, 2009

Some Closing Thoughts

The No Spend Adventure! is nearly over.

I'm a little glad. I'm almost out of shampoo. We have more money at the end of this week than any of the others. This is partly due to the fact that we didn't withdraw and spend this week's money until Sunday. Just starting a day early on the other weeks really seems to have made a big difference. Cody's gotten better about cooking with what we have, and shopping to supplement what we have. I've gotten better about saying "Okay" to whatever dinner Cody proposes, regardless of what I'm in the mood for, and I've gotten creative a few times with breakfast.

In all honesty, I wouldn't mind bumping up the weekly allowance and continuing this little experiment, but I can't seem to get Cody to go along with this. I even suggested we modify this for Lent.

No deal.

Oh well.

I'll post the day-by-day detailed account of Week 4 next Monday. For now, here's what I've learned:

1. We're really poor, and need to live within our means. I finally did the very concrete math last weekend and we simply do not bring home enough money to match our fairly modest, daily living expenses. The key phrase is "bring home." A painful amount of my income goes to insurance (the premiums nearly doubled last year). But this plan nearly covers all of my allergy and asthma nonsense and is funding Cody's ongoing eyeball misadventures. Cody contributes to a 401(k).* And a lot of his paycheck goes into our savings. Next month, we're taking some of that money out, and making a bigger-than-normal car payment. If we're not going to make more money, we can at least reduce some of our living expenses, and we're really tired of car payments. We've decided the car payment must go. And we've recently decided that it's got to go a little sooner than we'd planned.

2. We're not really that poor. Like I said, we're bringing home less money because some of our money is going to savings and insurance and retirement. If something bad happens, it won't be a complete financial disaster like it would have been when we were first married. We can eat well on cheap food. We really don't need that much. We have more than we thought we did, doing without the things we'd normally get really isn't that huge of a deprivation, and we're doing fine.

3. If we don't go in the store, we don't buy anything. I think I've been to Target 4 times this past month. Once I was simply having a damaged photo CD replaced, and twice I was shopping for other people. It's been kind of nice to avoid the bombardment of things I want or 'need.'

4. There's really no need to browse at the grocery store. The fun is in preparing and eating the food, not shopping for it. (Unless we're at a farmer's market: come on, spring!) There's no need to amble along in every single aisle, on every single trip. We save time and money, and we don't have to follow that buggy with the whiny kid and inattentive parents throughout the entire store.

5. Family is so important/We're huge mooches. Our families have always helped us out, and we've always thoroughly appreciated it. But I've been writing everything down this month, so now I know exactly how much they've helped us:
  • 2 pizzas
  • 3 lunches in restaurants
  • 1 homecooked meal
  • 5 trips to Sonic
  • 1 trip to the ice cream store
  • 15 Mountain Dews
  • 2/3 box of chocolates
  • 7 eggs
  • 3.5 tubs of lotion
  • 1 bottle of soap
Some of this was to help out with the No Spend Adventure!, some of this was due to gifts, and some of it was just standard generosity. We're lucky, blessed, and fortunate kids.

6. There's no way to not spend money. If I could find a way around it, I would. I use my laundry drying racks, we eat in, I make most of my own household cleaning products with cheap ingredients, and I've tried to get better about impulse purchases. Strangely enough, bills keep coming in and people expect us to pay them. Cavities need fillings. Cars need gas. Babies need presents.** Cody needs a haircut. And that's fine. Tomorrow I'm going to the Flower and Garden Show with my mom. Tickets are $7.50 since we're not senior citizens or children. I may buy something. I may not. I'm not going to get stressed out about it. This has been fun. This has been an adventure. And the Flower and Garden Show only comes around once a year and, by George, I refuse to miss it!

7. Cookies are great snacks. I may never buy another package of breakfast bars or cheese and crackers again. That's a lie. But cookies are cheap, easy, and delicious.

*He's 24. This cracks me up.
**On average, I've been to a baby shower every other weekend this year!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

This is always funny to me

Jen bonds with the in-laws while watching A Very Duggar Wedding
Mrs. Dicy: Yeah, you have to watch out for those homeschoolers. What's their problem anyway?!
Jen: I know! We're so marriage-minded. Meeting boys is like stalking your prey. You just swoop in and marry 'em.
Cody: I like homeschoolers....
Jen: Yeah you do!
Casey: Heh. Homeschoolers.

Mom and Chad get chickens
Sara: Ooh, Chad we have to pick out names for all of them.
Dad: Well, there's Chad 1, Chad 2....
Sara: No, the white one will be named Odette
Jen: One is always named Odette!
Sara: It's such a good name.

Adventures in Target
Jen: Look at this cool lampshade.
Sara: Jen, you don't have to yell.
Jen: [Waves her hand in Cody's direction] He's hard of hearing, so I get to used to being loud.
Sara: [Waves her hand in Chad's direction] Well, so's this one, but I don't yell.
Cody: What?

Robert has good taste in dining establishments and a poor sense of timing
Robert: I was really hoping we could eat at Rib Crib.
Laine: Mom, we were talking last night and he asked me, "Do you think we could eat at the Rib Crib?!" and I said, I bet Mom would let you. And he said, "I am going to call Mrs. Gail right now and ask if we can eat there for lunch." but I wouldn't let him because it was 11:45.
Mom: Robert, I was asleep! If you had called me at 11:45 at night, we would not have been friends.

Chad yearns for a sense of belonging
Chad: Jen, I can't believe I'm not in any of the pictures on your wall.
Jen: You should have come to my wedding.
Chad: Look at all these wedding pictures! I'm not in any of them. What's up with that?

An evening with friends
Brad: [Answers the phone] Hey, how's it going? Uh...we're watching The History of Sex on the History Channel
Jen [Covers eyes....again]
Brad: [Pause] Oh, that's fun.
[Covers the phone] Jessi's watching Blue's Clues.


Jen and Cody have a special moment
Jen [is in the bathroom, trying to wipe down the counter tops while wearing some tights on her hand after painting over a run with some clear polish.]
Cody [walks in]: Jen, I want to know that I just made the most perfect-looking cookie I've ever done and I want you to have it.

Jen makes small talk with a seven-year-old
Jen: Oh, Clara, I'm so happy your feet are sized in proportion to the rest of you.
Angela (Jen's cousin/Clara's mom/person with ridiculously small feet): Yeah, it must be nice.

Cody focuses on what's important
Cody: I missed you so much today. I couldn't wait to get home.
Jen: I missed you, too. Sorry I got home so late.
Cody: All day long, I kept thinking "I've got to get home and make some cookies for Jen!"

A discussion of technology.....isn't
Laine: I need a bigger memory card for my camera.
Jen: Why don't you move your pictures to somewhere else?
Laine: Well, I have them saved to my computer, but I don't want to delete them from my camera. Maybe I could save them to a CD and then I could put my CDs in an album.
Jen: Or you could just save them online, like on photobucket, where they would be--
Laine: Photobucket. What's that?
Jen: It's a website where you can save your pictures and--
Laine: I want my CD. [Makes motions with her hands as if she's already holding a CD close to her heart]

Mom and Jen discuss books
Mom: It wasn't heartwarming. This dog was psychotic! He ate mangoes.

No one can get over that time he had colic for 3 months
Spencer: I know--everybody hated me because I cried all the time. Gah! I'm sorry!

Jen and Casey discuss sports
Jen: I thought your team was going to lose.
Casey: They've had a good season.
Jen: Not what I heard.
Casey: They lost, like, 4 games!
Jen: In a row.
Casey: For the entire season!
Jen: Look, I just don't like them because I think their name is stupid.
Casey: Mizzou?
Jen: Yes, that's a dumb name. It just sounds like it's wrong. I'm not a sports fan, so I just go on stuff like that.
Casey: Then I guess it's a good thing that your opinion is absolutely worthless.

The proper care and management of parents, after adulthood
Alana: I only tell my mom stories about drinking that are funny.

From a Sunday dinner
Dad: And I know he's probably the most conservative one but I'm sorry, his daughters dress like hookers.

Cody focuses on what's really important, Part II
Cody [talking about the Watchmen premiere]: My brothers should go, and you can come, and your sister and Chad, and my mother (if she would go to movies), and your parents if we can get them, and...I think Laine and Robert should come in for this.
Jen [is teasing]: What about Levi?
Cody: If Levi could drive all the way out here and watch it with us, that would be amazing.
Jen: Yeah, you could maybe even get Kyle and Anna to come and they could bring Egan and it could be his first movie, like when your parents took y'all with them to see Indiana Jones.
Cody: [Thinks about it] I'd have to make sure it was good first.

She always says this
Laine: I am not driving anywhere with you ever again.

Levi is a good brother
Jen: Did you get my package in the mail?
Levi: Yes, I did.
Jen: Can you listen to the CD?
Levi: Yeah, I already listened to it once.
Jen: Good, because I was afraid it would get scratched after I lost the case. I found it, though.
Levi: Of course you did.
Jen: And did you love the beautiful Valentine I made for you?
Levi:Yes, I did.

And he still thinks he's a hit with the ladies
Cody: You have the cutest knees. Has anyone ever told you that?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Week 3

Sunday: Technically $0. Really $6.92.
We got 2 six-packs of Mt. Dew (16.9 oz. bottles) from Mom and Dad.
They bought pizza.
They delivered some extremely belated Christmas gifts from a friend: $20 gift cards for Wal-Mart! For each of us!

Feeling wild and crazy, we stopped at a Wal-Mart on the way home and bought flour (no, a different kind of flour than Saturday's flour), butter, and vital wheat gluten. Oh...Cody.

Just in case I don't say it enough, gift cards are spectacular!

Monday: Technically $0. Really $7.26
Cody bought 2 peppers, an onion, and a frozen pizza. The produce was for dinner. The pizza was his lunch.

I went on record as condemning the purchase of the frozen pizza because it was supreme.

Disgusting.

I mostly forgave him, though, because he brought home a ridiculously large box of chocolates that his mom wanted out of the house because she didn't 'need' them. Did we need them? No.

Have I eaten nearly half of that box so far? Shut your face.

Tuesday: $8.06
Cody called to say that his car was close to running out of gas, so he was going to put in a few gallons. He had to use his debit card, but we went ahead and took the cash out of the jar and stashed it in a jar.

Wednesday: Technically $0. Really $16.49
Cody stopped at Wal-Mart on his way home and used his gift card to buy an onion, a package of smoked sausage, and a bag of red beans ($4.49). He was in a foul mood from work (and was, possibly ironically, cooking red beans and rice for a work potluck the next day), so while the red beans soaked we walked to Sonic and used our gift card to have a nice dinner (12.00).

Then we walked back. Yay exercise!

Thursday: Really and truly $0.
We went to work. We came home from work. We ate leftover red beans and rice.

Friday: $17, with debit
I had been coasting on Neutral for nearly 2 days, I was planning to drive to Sheridan over the weekend, and ..... I needed gas and decided that rather than pulling out some cash and using it and taking $17 from the next week's money, we would just go ahead and fill up my car. We've driven more than we normally would every single week this month and we really did not expect that.

So there.

We filled up my car, went to our friends' house, and we enjoyed the red beans and rice with rye bread (that we brought) while watching Conan's last superlate show. Some of us even had cake that Brad made.

Saturday: $23.75, with debit
Whoa Nelly!
Firstly, I decided to use the debit card at Target and buy some hats and blankets for a cousin's baby shower. They cost $16.10. This was a gift, so I felt fine not using our 'normal' money.

Then my sisters and Chad came to visit (woo, party!) and offered to buy us pizza. We let them. I also asked them to bring farm-fresh eggs. They did. Score!

While Chad and Cody ran to pick up the pizza, they also stopped to buy some toilet paper because we were OUT. You know what kills a party faster than anything? No toilet paper. And since we never withdrew any cash from the ATM, Cody used his debit card to buy some toilet paper and a block of cheese from Walgreen's. We also needed cheese.

Cody later told me that Chad waited nervously in the car with the doors locked at each stop, so I'm actually really glad he didn't try to go to a bank ATM and withdraw cash while Chad frantically expected the two of them to be robbed.

Chad hates cities, which is probably why he stayed in our apartment* while the rest of us went out for ice cream. I let Sara (who is planning a wedding) pay for mine.

I feel like such a jerk. But she did offer, and it was only $2.00, and I shared some of my Valentine's Day cookies with her last weekend.

I am also planning to give her some really wonderful wedding presents. They should more than make up for the pizza and ice cream.

So. We pretty much blew Week 3 into ridiculous little pieces.

Will next next week be better? Probably. We have a few staples around, we will not be buying any gas or toilet paper any time soon, and I plan to work and come home late exhausted every day this week, which should cut down on going out and doing anything costly.

I think it will be a good week.

*Lest you think I'm inhospitable, I will have you know Chad seemed quite comfortable on the couch when we left, and when we returned. I threw an afghan over him and everything.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Notebook

Without this


You pretty much get this



With this

It's a lot like this
Now I'm ready to talk to you about the true meaning of Christmas
and why you should be cleaning your bathroom with borax.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oh, Thursday

I left my notebook at home. You know the one. Cody gave it to me for Christmas to replace last year's notebook. Hardback. Spiral-bound. Lined pages. (All per my specifications.)

This notebook has my daily to-do lists, websites I want to visit, the occasional phone number or address. Sometimes I use it as a journal. Sometimes I just use it to write down 'have done' lists of what we've done each day. And since we started the No Spend Adventure!, it's been where I've been writing down everything we've spent and keeping all of the records in one place.

Even though I know the notebook is safely resting on the filing cabinet/nightstand by my bed....where I left it last night after neatly writing down a tri-part to-do list with categories for this morning, the work day, and this evening when I'm back at home....I feel a little panicky.

You know that part in Harriet the Spy, when Harriet realizes her notebook isn't in her book bag and her friends are nowhere to be found and then she finds them reading what she's written about them in her notebook?!?!

What you do mean, you've never read Harriet the Spy? You're absolutely ridiculous and depressing. Go read it.

Now that I think about it, I'm probably going to read it tonight.

I would put that on my to-do list......if I felt like grabbing a piece of scrap paper, scribbling something on it, and then losing it before I ever get in my car to go home. This is terrible.

I don't remember what I was talking about.

Right: Harriet feels this wild panic when she can't find her notebook (I hope I'm not spoiling things for you. I probably am. Sorry.).

I feel a little bit of that panic.

But mostly I just feel a little lost. Writing things down in lists is very organized.

Being organized means you're on top of things.

Competent.

Capable.

In control.

I want my hardback, spiral-bound, lined-paper security blanket and I want it now!

Ugh. This is going to bug me all day.

So on a happier note, I thought I would pass along a soup recipe to you.

Why? Because writing about comfort food may make me feel better. I emailed this to Laine yesterday, so I didn't even have to worry about not being able to copy it out of my absent notebook. (Aaaugh!)

So here it is: U.S. Senate Bean Soup from The Joy of Cooking*
Soak 1.25 cups of small dried white beans (such as Navy or Great Northern)**
Drain and place in a soup pot, along with:
-1 small ham hock
-7 cups of cold water
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the beans are tender (about 1.25 hours). Remove the ham hock, leaving the soup at a gentle (?!) simmer, discard the bone, skin, and fat; dice the meat. Return to the pot and add:
-1 large onion, diced
-3 medium celery ribs with leaves, chopped
-1 large potato, peeled and finely diced
-2 garlic cloves, minced***
1.5 teaspoons of salt
0.5 teaspoons of pepper

Simmer until the potato pieces are quite soft, 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher until the soup is a bit creamy. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped parsley.


This makes about 6 cups of soup. I guess that's family-sized, right? You'd think Cody would half the recipe or something, but we really enjoy leftovers.

*Our marriage improved so much after I gave Cody that first cookbook. Give it to someone you love. Or someone you have to live with--you will be so happy you did.
**Cody said you can also use 2 cans of beans, and then just throw everything in together to save yourself some time. But if you do use the dried beans, you'll know they've cooked long enough if "they look like they're about to split."
***We just buy the Spice World pre-diced or whatever garlic. We used to buy the cute little pots of it, but now we have a container the size of a mayonnaise jar!**** Cody said that 1/2 tablespoon of this = 1 clove. So just use 1 tablespoon.

****It's nearly half-empty.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Week 2

Now that we're smack in the middle of Week 3 in the No Spend Adventure!, let me tell you about the second half of Week 2. (You can read about the first half of Week 2 here.)

So...let's see.
Wednesday: $3.44
We somewhat cheated by pulling change out of a jar and buying a frozen pizza with it.

It was one of the best pizzas I've ever had.

We opted to not see a friend's band play because even though there was no cover charge, we would have felt obligated to at least buy a coke or something at the bar and we knew we didn't have enough cash to buy meals. So we spent a quiet evening over at Cody's cousin's house and met his newborn son, Egan. Actually, Egan wasn't very quiet and fussed and cried most of the night. But we both got to hold him and he had the hiccups and he sneezed twice. So the trip was worthwhile. Red Baron pizza + newborn infant sneezes = highlight of my week!

Thursday: $0
I remember Cody making dinner and watching CSI. I can only assume we didn't spend any money.

Friday: Sonic gift card!/$0
We had dinner at Sonic, courtesy of Mrs. Dicy's Valentine-y generosity. I felt extravagent and ordered a Route 44 and everything!

Saturday: $55
Ho.Ly. Smokes.

Here's how it breaks down.

Grocery store, Trip 1: $3.50
I bought milk on the way back from dropping off the recycling. No milk = no coffee. No coffee = Valentine's Day is ruined.

Gas station: $20.10
$15 for gas
$5.10 for brown and mushy bananas. I checked when I picked up the milk--only fresh and slightly green bananas at the grocery store. Disappointing. Good banana nut bread (aka Cody's superfabulous Valentine's Day present) depends on beat-up, nasty-looking bananas.

Grocery store, Trip 2: $31.44
In retrospect, we didn't need that extra flour. Sadly, I don't even remember what the rest of what we bought. We got some sugar, some ground beef, and some pears.

We finished up the week baking in celebration of love and cherubs and whatnot.....and we'd already spent most of our money for Week 3.

This adventure is out of control.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I love free stuff...and love

Good morning! I hope you had a great Valentine's Day. Mine was lovely. The whole weekend was lovely. Here's why:

On Friday, Cody and I took a nap after we got home from work! I love naps.

I woke up before he did and checked our mail. We'd gotten a Valentine from his mom, who gave us two Sonic gift cards!

Guess where we had dinner? It was a great night.

On Saturday, we slept in (we are seriously lazy people in the winter time). We dropped off the recycling and got some milk from the grocery store. We put some gas in the car, and I bought gas station bananas for 79¢ apiece because Kroger didn't have any brown and mushy ones. These were the perfect amount of overripe for my baking plans. Then went to his family's restaurant because we love seeing his family and free food. I gave his mom the Valentines I made for her and Cody's brothers, ate a ham and cheese sandwich, and held the newest member of the family, baby Egan. Good news: he's still cute!

I overdosed on Mt. Dew, and then we went to the store. I don't remember what we bought, other than flour and sugar and ground beef and I was irate because the store didn't have the fudge-covered chocolate chip granola bars I eat for breakfast. (I need sugar in the mornings.)

Cody made cookies. We took a nap. (Really!) I made banana nut bread. We ate frozen pizza and watched Lars and the Real Girl, which Cody had checked out from the library. I cried a lot.

It was a great day.

On Sunday, we loaded our bed frame and some cookies into the car and went out to my parents' house. Cody got the full "Sara with bed head" experience, and we drank all of Dad's coffee and I had to make another pot. Then we went by some woman's house. This particular woman had more chickens than she wanted. Mom wanted chickens. Chad set this up like a champ, he and Dad assembled a pen, and ta-da! we picked up some chickens. Mom now has 6 chickens in the side yard! I took pictures with her new camera. There's one white hen with some tan around her head. Sara has already named her Odette. We ate pizza for lunch. Sara gave me some lotion that she's now allergic to, and I probably won't have to buy any more for the rest of the year.

Also: Mom gave me two six-packs of bottled Mt. Dew, some jars (I'm sort of using them/sort of storing them for her), and some potting soil.

After Mom took Mozart to his puppy class, I gave her a Valentine's surprise by cleaning her microwave. Sadly, I forgot to add water to the vinegar. So I brought straight vinegar to a boil in the microwave! Yes, this smelled really awful. But the microwave is beautiful now, and I arrived at work to find a very grateful and excited email from Mom.

And that's how my weekend went. I hope you're having a great Presidents' Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Art of Scrounging

When I was growing up, I used to ask my mom what I could have for a snack and sometimes she would reply, "Just scrounge around." I did not want to just scrounge around.

I wanted celery and carrot sticks already cut up and waiting for me in the refrigerator.

I wanted the snack drawer to be fully stocked with my favorite Little Debbie treats.

I wanted peanut butter and crackers neatly lined up in the cabinet at my line of vision.

I wanted cake, sitting out on one of those covered cake stands.

This almost never happened.*

Now that I'm married, this....wait, this actually happens a lot more than you would think. However, things are usually only where I want them and set aside how I want them if I've done the work myself. Still, the chances of them staying that way are a little better now that I'm living with just one person instead of five.

The No Spend Adventure! has kind of wrecked that. Since we can only spend $30 or less at the grocery store, we've been buying a lot less than we normally do. On one hand, this is pretty great because we've been getting through the store in record time! On another hand, we've been making do with what we have and have been running out of things. On yet another hand, if this is possible, I still enjoy this because we are really cleaning out the refrigerator and cabinets.

And last night I did a little of that because I was going to scrounge around, by George!

I came home hungry. Cody wasn't going to even start on dinner until after he'd exercised and showered. I needed a snack right that very second.

I pulled out my trusty stool that I keep in the kitchen for high shelves and started rifling through some of the cabinets.

My search yielded 3 breakfast bars and a gigantic chocolate bar that my mom had given me for Christmas. Score! I also found some barley and I don't know why we have it.

Granted, I don't know what you make with barley aside from beer. And Cody hasn't tried to make beer (yet). It's a mystery.

Anyway, we've been scrounging a lot this past week, and it's been interesting. I ran out of shampoo over the weekend and started using all of the travel bottles and hotel samples I have stored up. I probably have enough travel-sized bottles of soaps and shampoos and conditioners to last 2 months. It's been working out beautifully. There's even some shampoo from this hotel I stayed at for the editing conference back in October that is AWESOME and I may try to buy some. I don't know what's so great about it, but it makes it easier to fix my hair curly and I love it.

And lastly (I know you've been wondering how this turned out), we ground up the Starbucks coffee beans! Cody's really old food processor ground it all up like a champ and we now have enough for about two weeks. I won the bag of beans at my office's Christmas gift exchange party. So we saved about $3.50 and are drinking superstrong, Christmas edition (?), Starbucks coffee for free until the end of the month.

We live large.

*You hear that? That's the sound of my mom laughing in my face/the computer screen right now. "Cake in one of those covered cake stands," she's laughing to herself, "What a moron." Her well-stocked snack drawer, however, is kind of famous.

It's coming...

I hope you have a great Valentine's Day tomorrow. Give a card to your friend, your mom, your cat....whatever. Have a great time.

Yay love!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Week 1.5

So. We're halfway through Week Two of our no-spend and I've just now realized that it's not particularly fun.

This is a problem.

But I know what to do about it! I'm going to start throwing around the word "adventure."

Everything is more exciting and interesting if you call it an adventure.

Last year, Laine and I planned a day in Memphis that involved a museum, a yarn store, and an IMAX movie. It was exciting enough when we were just planning a field trip. Then it became an adventure and I was so excited that I used up 3.5 rolls of film documenting everything!

You see how that exclamation point made the sentence seem more fun?

Yes, if I can't fake a better attitude I can at least treat this like an adventure! And I'm gonna throw on an exclamation point wherever I can.

So: from this moment, February is now the month for the No Spend Adventure! so that I can get through this. The exclamation point is mandatory.

This shouldn't be so hard. This is a mere four-week experiment to make us realize where our money goes, and to make us think more about what we don't need.

And with that in mind, I'm totally going to put a positive spin on the past few days. Because this could be funny.

Saturday: $17.30 and then some on the debit card
Yes, we cheated.
First off, we messed up by leaving some of our money at home when we went to the grocery store, and wound up putting several things back on the shelf. And a twelve-pack of Mt. Dew was $4.50! I resolved once again to cut back. Argh.

Then: I used the debit card to buy burp cloths for a baby shower. Whatever. It was a gift.

And then: after feeling like absolute wretchedness personified for most of the day, I became convinced I was pregnant and that we had to buy a home pregnancy test. And some pepto, because I thought I was going to die.

Did I have any logical reason to believe that I was pregnant? No.
Did I want some tangible proof in the form of a negative pee stick to reassure myself? I shouldn't even have to answer that.

So we bought the test, got that super-awesome negative answer, and high-fived each other. This was debit well spent.

We chalked the wretchedness up as Spencer's fault. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

Sunday: $10
I went to church with my sisters and our parents and Robert, and then we ate lunch. Dad was paying (that's one of my favorite things about him. Shallow, but true.), so I had a half-rack of ribs and a Dr. Pepper. I have the best parents ever. Then some of us browsed some stores. Sara and I found cute pajamas at Bath&Body Works, which she thought we needed to buy. I reminded her that I was on a no-spend (it was not the No Spend Adventure! yet), and then she decided she didn't want to shop in front of me since I couldn't buy anything. Um, okay?

It was still a sweet thought. Then we went to Sonic, and Laine bought everyone's drinks. I had another Dr. Pepper! I'm shameless.

Then we went to Joanna's baby shower and had a delightful time. My burp cloths were a huge hit. Okay, the three baby hats I knitted to go with them probably helped.

I went home that afternoon to Cody, who had also not spent money. He had gone to 8 a.m. church services with his mom and Casey, and then she made them breakfast afterward. He put $10 worth of gas in my car, wrapped up a fresh loaf of bread for his mom, and then we went to her house and ate supper. It was a glorious day for free food.

Monday: $0
Woo! We had planned to go the store and buy some of what we couldn't get on Saturday, but it was raining and we felt like staying in. So we made quesadillas and Cody had me grate a whole package of cheddar. After supper, he used the rest of the cheddar to make pimento cheese while I decorated Valentines. I told him I was impressed by his self-sufficiency in making his own bread and pimento cheese.

He gave me a blank look.

"You can buy that?"

He is too much for me.

Tuesday: $9.99
Cody really and truly spent $9.99 at the grocery store. Most of the money spent was for last night's supper. We really need to start eating based on what's already in the kitchen, but this soup makes spectacular leftovers and we're set for the rest of the work week now. Cody also made cornbread in a cast iron skillet that I got from Laine this weekend. It was a wedding present, and she's just not a cast iron skillet kind of girl. I asked her if we could have it, and she said we could! Robert was less than thrilled. Maybe Cody can make him cornbread in it the next time they visit.

So here we are, officially half-way through Week Two of this madcap adventure. We have about $9 for the rest of the week and we'll probably need to buy flour and bananas in order to make each other's Valentine's presents. And we're almost out of coffee. I remembered that I have a bag of Starbucks beans that I got at the office Christmas party gift exchange, and we're going to try those.

Do I like Starbucks coffee?

Can you really just take your coffee beans to a Starbucks and have them ground for free?

Can anyone just walk into a Starbucks and walk out without buying something?

Is that even allowed?

Can we run coffee beans through Cody's antique food processor just as easily?

Stay tuned! I'm kind of excited to find out myself.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My family is cooler than yours

  • I had a great weekend.
  • I'm still tired.
  • We used our debit card Saturday night.
  • We're back on track.
  • If I saw you, I had a great time catching up.
  • If I didn't see you, I wish I had.
  • I also wish I could wear my hair curly all the time.
  • I had two family meals yesterday and they were both fantastic.
  • I love acting up in church with my sisters.
  • I'm excited for you if you're having a baby, but I'm even more excited for myself that I'm not having one.
  • I am awesome at arts and crafts.
  • An old college professor replied to my email and it made my day.
  • Cody baked 3 loaves of bread.
  • My brothers-in-law are strange and adorable.
  • I'm still sleepy.
  • I'm excited about Valentine's Day.
  • I hope you're doing well.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hey Mom

It's that time of year again. This year I was flipping through my planner and my eyes kept focusing on February 7. It seemed important, but for a while I couldn't remember why. Then when I did remember, I was almost excited for myself for not immediately equating Feb. 7 with cancer. The last six years have been long and wonderful.
I love you.
Happy Anniversary

Week 1

The first week of the no-spend is nearly over!
Here's how we did:

Sunday: $43.07
Cody balanced the checkbook and discovered this was a really good month for a no-spend. Our balance was....small. Then I found 4 more receipts and asked if he had factored those in, as well as some jeans he ordered online.

Nope.

Then we found out we would have negative dollars in our checking account (but not really because the bank just pulls $50 out of our savings, but we're trying to build up our savings so we don't want that) if we sent in the car payment. So we're waiting until after Cody gets paid today to send in the car payment. It's not due until next week, but Cody likes to pay the bills as soon as they come in. Why? I don't know.*

So anyway, we were pretty lucky to have the cash for the first week ($60) on hand. And we went out to buy what we love buying most: food.

Kroger: $35.79
We were a little over our goal of $30, but next week we won't be buying toilet paper, soap, breakfast bars, or eggs.

Then I went to Target while Cody made bread.
Target: $7.83
In spite of all our cheating (gassing up both cars, developing a roll of film, etc.) before the no- spend, something had to happen. A light bulb died. So I went to Target and bought two energy-saving light bulbs with a $3 coupon.

You may ask, "Hey, why not just buy the cheap bulbs?" and I would answer "Because we like lower energy bills. And when we move, we're taking our light bulbs with us." Have I mentioned how much I don't like our apartment lately? I'd just like to put that out there.

Monday: $0
We spent no money! However, I discovered that my picture CD from my last roll of film was messed up and had to wander Target, my favorite shopping place ever, for 15 minutes while the photo center made a new one from my negatives. I survived.

Tuesday: $23
I brought $3 to work to pay postage on something to mail Levi. But then some people ordered pizza for lunch, and since I'm apparently seen as antisocial and not fun, I caved to peer pressure and said that ordering pizza sounded like a great idea and that I liked pepperoni and chipped in my $3.

The pizza wasn't good. My leftovers would have been better, and I felt guilty about not sending my brother mail. What a waste. Blegh.

That night we went out to dinner with friends. We had planned on doing this, and we had a great time. This was money well-spent even though it put us over our weekly budget. Yay!

Wednesday: $0
I don't even remember Wednesday. Wait! Yes, I do. I made Valentines and did some laundry while Cody made soup. It was good soup--potato and celery.

Thursday: $1.something
I finally mailed Levi's CD, letter, and Valentine! It cost $1.
Cody got hungry at work and walked to a grocery store and bought an apple with some change he had in his pocket. I was pretty proud of him for making a thrifty and healthful choice. He said the apple wasn't very good and he should have gotten a pear. Whatever, man.

Friday: Probably $0
We're having frozen pizza for dinner! What more could we possibly want?

Total: $70.92**
So. Dinner with friends, bad pizza, and buying slightly more than what we need at the grocery store put us over the limit. Dinner with dear friends and getting toilet paper 'just in case'*** was worth it. Office socializing is not worth it. You learn something new every day.

We're probably going to spend money tomorrow, but for the purposes of my Internetless weekends we're going to pretend like that starts Week 2. I need to buy a gift for a friend's baby shower, and we're going to run out of milk and Mt. Dew tomorrow, so we're just going to take care of the week's grocery shopping a day earlier than normal.


*Disclaimer: Cody is not technically in charge of our finances, but I got mad at him after he told me I balanced the checkbook 'the wrong way' (something about the way I was writing down numbers on the lines. I think he's just insane) one too many times and declared balancing the checkbook 'his job.' So now it's my job to ask "Did you balance the checkbook?" a couple of times a week and find all the receipts and then go through the bank statements to see if he's left anything out, or if he's been lying to me about eating fast food for lunch at work. He won't be able to sneak much in this month.
** I decided the apple cost 85¢. Just because.
***We totally could have made it through the week.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bandwagon

I feel bad just posting this, but I had to point out that the guy (you know which one I'm talking about)
in this picture.....



.....is also in this picture.


Why yes, yes this is my sister's wedding reception.



While it's pretty obvious what's going on the first picture, I'm a little more concerned with figuring out what's going on in this one...

Seriously, what is everyone doing?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tale of 2 baby showers

I went to two baby showers in one afternoon once. It was pretty fun.

Here's how it went:

#1

-Sarah and Robert (friends) and Ben
-Girlfriends
-Snack foods and games

Here's the spread

Here's where Sarah's friend, Corey, found my camera
and started playing with it before she realized it wasn't a digital.

Yup.
If nothing else, this photo serves as an excellent reminder of why
I should work on my posture.

Still photos by Corey.
The expectant father's mother is on the right.
And the girl on the left is 3 months pregnant!
Motherhood is everywhere.
All over that couch.

I made Ben a hat with some leftover yarn from Sarah's scarf.
They're going to look really cool together.
I'm a genius.

Ben's presents!
#2

-Anna and Kyle (Cody's cousin) and Egan
-Family and friends
-Come and go barbecue

I didn't get there until things were winding down.
But here's some people visiting.
The grandmothers-to-be are on the left.
Egan's presents!
This was at the almost great-grandmother's
(Cody's grandmother) house.

Here's Cody and his brothers.
They love baby showers about as much as
they love seeing me with a camera.
Cute kids.

Requisite mom-to-be belly picture!
Egan was born 2 weeks and 1 day after I took this.

Dallas

Dallas doesn't mind if I get right in his face with my camera.

Here's his 'sin shirt' before he goes into confession.

His dad got to take a candle up to the altar with him after confession.
I thought I was closer than this, but I guess it's still an acceptable picture.
I just really like this picture, because if you stare at it long enough, you can see his sweet expression.

Even the pictures look cold in January

My Christmas tree looks depressing in the harsh light of New Year's Day.

These are my apology flowers.
Cody got the right ones.
I made that 'vase' with an outdated road map and a tomato can.
(And a sandwich bag filled with water.)
I want to do this to other containers.

Here's Cody, looking thoughtful on a Saturday afternoon.

Here's the top of my green bookshelf
and the new header for my blog.

Here's the really barren-looking corner.
We should have kept the Christmas tree.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Book list for January 2009

Applehof, Mary. Worms Eat My Garbage. Kalamazoo: Flower Press, 2nd ed. 1997*
So. Not to gross you out, but I've been trying to compost since this summer, and I've had worms in there too. This went on in the storage closet outside. And then there were some grubworm problems. It was disgusting. And then I read in this helpful little book that people with asthma shouldn't really be trying to compost anyway because of the accompanying mold. Well...fine. After reading this, I know a whole lot about vermiposting and why it's not really for me. At least for right now.

Byatt, A.S. A Whistling Woman. New York: Knopf, 2002.*
This is my tenth A. S. Byatt book! She's so great. She believes in happy endings.

Fowles, John. The French Lieutenant's Woman. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1969.
Eh. I liked it. I read it. I wasn't impressed by it. I couldn't suspend my disbelief. It was still pretty good and I'm glad I read it.

Goldsmith, Sheherazade, ed. A Slice of Organic Life. New York: DK Publishing, 2007*
This is (very clearly) an overview. Anyone who would try to use this as an actual guide would be in deep, organic hog poop. Cody picked it up on a whim at the library. Some parts of it were pretty informative (have a windowsill herb garden) and other parts were ridiculous (why not raise geese?). My favorite parts were the pictures: beautiful, sunshiny, harvesty pictures of things you can grow and raise and preserve. I read this during December and Janurary. It will have to hold me over until springtime.