Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 83 - I "Browsed" Today!!!!!

Since the spending ban began, I've pretty much avoided all retail establishments--sort of for the same reasons that one would generally not hang out at a bakery while on a diet. OK, I've been to the grocery store, but it's not the same. I'm allowed to buy food and let's face it, it's hard to have an emotional response to buying vegetables (aside from perhaps "ick" over brussel sprouts).

Today during lunch I took a quick trip through Barnes & Noble.

Oh! My! Goodness!

I browsed audio books, cookbooks, magazines, the clearance table--it was fabulous! And I might have achieved some personal growth, as there wasn't anything I felt any great longing for, and I walked out without buying anything and still feeling exhilarated.

We'll know I've achieved real "personal growth" when I can browse Joanns without incident.....

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 82 - Now Things Are Starting To Go

8 days left for Andy, 16 for me, and we need a new ink cartridge for the printer. I think we can survive, but as we both use the printer we have to decide if that has to wait until I can buy things or if it can be replaced while only Andy can buy things. Decisions, decisions.

That's the problem with being able to make up your own rules--it's harder to break them knowing you're the one who came up with them in the first place.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 81 - We Can Almost Buy Things!!!!

Andy has 8 days left; I have 17. And then we can buy things.

Oh. My. Goodness. That is such an exciting thought!

It's not really buying anything in particular, though a new set of Goober Goggles and the yarn to finish this shawlare first on my list. After that I don't care, but I am going to walk through a store just knowing I can buy something if I want to do so.

It's so exciting--I have chills just thinking about it.

Not to lose our heads entirely, I have transfered the extra money we've saved the last 80 days into several savings accounts--one for vacations, one for home projects, one for legal fees (to continue to cope with an ex wife who just can't accept the fact that she doesn't matter to either of us and thinks racking up legal bills might make her important somehow), retirement accounts for both of us, and a medical savings account. The amount we have saved over the last 80 days has really been amazing, proving how much we have been spending that we didn't need to spend. If I were an idiot, I'd suggest that we do a 90-day spending ban each year to save money, but I'm just too excited about new Goober Boggles to consider it just now.

We're almost there!!!!!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 80 - Attention Mice of the World!

This sort of behaviorwill result in this. Complain all you want, you brought this on yourselves. What does a 2-inch long creature need with 2, count them--2, king-sized blankets?

You might have grown complacent as our cats are obvious sufferers of kitty A.D.D., but having spent two days scrubbing the laundry room to remove all the mouse poop, if I catch any of you in the laundry room again, I won't need mouse traps.

This is war, and I have the opposable thumbs and an exterminator on speed dial!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 78 - We Are Cheating

It all started here:Since we have long since pulled the blankets off our bed for summer, I decided to wash the blankets before putting them away, and they had been sitting in the laundry basket waiting to be washed. This morning, I pulled the gold blanket out, and a small furry creature bounded off the blanket and burrowed into the blue blanket beneath it.

I can tell you:
1. It was a mouse or vole, though not which as it's hard to see a neck or lack thereof when both of you are moving quickly
2. It had been living there long enough to have chewed off quite a bit of the blanket edging
3. Andy knows the specific "I have found live vermin" scream and he automatically comes running.

If you lived in our neighborhood, you would:

1. Have seen Andy rushing out the front door with a laundry basket in hand, then dumping laundry onto our front yard, and if your eyes were really sharp you might have glimpsed a furry object being flipped out of the blanket then making beeline for the front shrubs .
2. Have seen Andy & Toni emerge from the house a few minutes later, each with a broom, and seen them whack the daylights out of the front shrubs.
3. Heard frantic shrieks when one of the front shrubs being beaten was found to have a hornet's nest hidden in it.
4. Theo watching with mild interest, though paying no attention to the mouse/vole whatsoever.
5. Now probably consider the residents of the green house on the corner to be totally and completely insane.

While we probably can't play with our neighbors any longer after this morning's adventures, we did manage to drive the rodent off to the house across the street, or perhaps it just kept running because it, too, considers us totally and completely insane.

This might have been the mouse Theo lost in the laundry room last summer, or it might have been a totally new rodent--we can't be sure. But the guest room & the laundry room both have some signs that there has been a rodent in residence for some time, so we're taking no chances and Andy is off to buy baited mouse traps.

Mouse traps are "things" and it means we're cheating and this time, we don't feel the least bit guilty. There's learning things, and then there's living with rodents. That's what we call "non-negotiable."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 77 - The Follow Up Program

Tonight, under the influence of chocolate martinis, we decided that in order to make our new spending habits totally and completely permanent, we will be doing a month-long spending ban every year. Just a little reminder of how few things we really need and to keep us from lapsing back into bad habits. I think we'll have to rotate the month around the year--I don't think I want to do it at Christmas every year. Not that it wouldn't save a lot of money, but I would like to take advantage of the after-Christmas sales some years. One can only recycle gift bags for so long before they become occasion-inappropriate. I think folks might start to notice if all gifts start appearing in wedding bags. Our friends are pretty sharp.

And maybe every year we'll use the money saved on trips and adventures....Sometimes bribery is a wonderful thing!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 76

Good morning: Wake up, realize it's Saturday, and go back to sleep.

Bad morning: Oversleep, scramble to get to work, Theo brings a live bird into your closet while you're in there changing clothes, then lets the bird go.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 75 - Andy Only Has 15 Days Left To Go!!!

As the end is in sight for Andy, we have decided that on the first "buying" day, each of us will receive $100 to spend however we choose. He hasn't actually decided what his first purchase will be, but I, having 8 more days, will be completely jealous. Just to be able to browse in a store knowing I could actually buy something....what a fabulous idea!

Of course, the whole point of doing a second, longer spending ban is to change our spending habits forever, so we're hoping to not forget what we have learned and to not go back to our bad habits. Even though we have been regularly contributing to savings, we have still been guilty of buying impulse items that we neither needed nor truly wanted for more than 30 seconds, and we could have saved more than we did previously. I recently read an article saying that in 2005--long before the economy tanked--Americans' saving rate was a negative .05%. Americans have been outspending their income, taking out equity from their homes, and not saving. Simply put, as a country we put ourselves in a very dangerous economic situation and now we're having to pay for it. If we had higher savings rates, bought only what we could afford, and had taken less equity out of our homes, I firmly believe we would be far better off as a country.

Still, I can't say that I won't be glad to be able to buy masking tape when we need it........:)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 74 - What We Have Learned So Far

74 days into our "90-days of not buying anything new experiment," and so far we have learned:

* People either think it's a great idea, or they don't see the point and think we're idiots. There is no middle ground.

* Everything is easier when you have a sense of humor.

* Not spending money is a great way to save money--a concept Congress has never grasped.

* "Things" do not make you happy, but they can make home repair much easier.

* Not buying anything brings out one's creative side.

* If you can't resist buying yarn, stay out of yarn stores.

* One is more careful with possessions one won't be able to replace for 90 days.

* It takes a very special person to play along with all my bright ideas. And the occasional white chocolate martini doesn't hurt.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 73 - The Next Casualty

Going on a spending ban is basically throwing down the gauntlet to one's possessions to see which can hold out the longest--to see how many of them must break before we cave.

Today's contender, the Goober Goggles:

The right lens has started leaking water--not too fast, but just enough to be incredibly annoying. Well, I might be willing to be seen wearing the Goober Goggles, but I am not going to be beaten by them. For 25 days, I can swim with my head out of the water.

Ha! That will show them, I'm sure. And totally cement my reputation at the gym as a total and complete goober.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 71 - Look Out Martha!

I got up early this morning and picked these:It's amazing how many jalapeños one little plant can produce. This is just what we had this morning. Using the broiler--and remembering to put down tin foil so I don't have to spend the rest of my weekend cleaning the pan--I roasted them,
filling the house with the most amazing aroma, though maybe not so appropriate for breakfast,
then froze them. Hopefully, we'll like them this way, as we're going to have a lot of them.

I've started dehydrating the excess bell peppers and have this to show for my efforts.

I'm beginning to understand why those little jars of dehydrated bell peppers are so expensive. They must contain 182 bell peppers each.

Part of the reason for the large garden this year is so we can make it all through 2009 without eating any processed foods, but also we're really trying to eat healthy now and to eat the widest variety of foods we can in order to get the widest range of vitamins that we can. A side perk is, of course, that by the end of the next 2 years, I might be able to give Martha Stewart a run for her money....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 70 - The Downslide!!!!!

Even with my 8-day penalty for that darn mohair (for this quite fabulous shawl, thank you very much)it's less than a month until the spending ban is over!!!!! Hallelujah!!!! Hallelujah!!!! I have NO idea what I'll actually buy when it's over, but just the thought of something--anything--new is glorious!

And on a totally unrelated note, one of the great mysteries of the summer has been solved. When planting the garden, I planted 3 types of squash in one end of a garden bed--one hill for each type. Out of the three, one came up. A smart person might have paid attention to which squash she planted where, as most squash leaves look pretty much the same in their infant state. Undaunted, I planted a butternut squash & a pumpkin in another area--for some reason deciding it was most likely the spaghetti squash that had survived. I don't know why--I've never grown spaghetti squash before, so I had no reason to assume it was hardier than anything else, but my gardening decisions are rarely, if ever, tempered by logic.

A few months later, Mystery Squash has a squash:
I think it looks a bit like a pumpkin personally. That is truly unfortunate, as this behemoth
is also a pumpkin plant. Oops. I did want to learn to cook with pumpkin this year, but two people and two pumpkin plants?????!!!!!! Heaven help us!

A totally unrelated question: Would creeping up to a stranger's front door at 2:00 AM and leaving squash-related items said door count as trespassing????

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 69 - Mission Accomplished!

Andy's birthday evening was marvelous, if I do say so myself. I bundled him off in the car after work, first stopping at one of our favorite restaurants for orders of butter chicken and aloo palak, then we were off to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival to see "Into The Woods" by Stephen Sondheim. All in all, a marvelous evening.

Andy must have thought it was marvelous as well, as he surprised me with these when I came home from work tonight:
Since flowers are "things" and strictly forbidden during the spending ban, he made these from straws and tissue paper. In a beer glass mug. How could I not love this man?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 67 - Our First Recruit!

My cousin, Dustin, has been really supportive of our spending ban experiment, and this week has started his own spending ban! We're so proud! Not that I don't realize our economy is sort of based on us spending money on totally frivolous stuff, but I do think our economy would be better long term if we bought few things but those things were not cheap things produced in China. Then people could be paid a fair wage for what they actually made and we would end up with better stuff. Granted, I am not an economist, but I met with a company today that I tried to sell a phone system to last year, and to save money they bought a cheaper system. I met with them again today because the support on that cheap system is nonexistent. I think it can still be generally said that you get what you pay for.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Day 66 - We're Living Off The Land!

Well, only slightly, but last night I did fix a casserole last night using two varieties of peppers from our garden.
I think I've lost a few of the tags, but we are growing green, red and yellow bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeños, and pimentos--which seem to be really small jalapeños. No idea what we'll do with those, but peppers are a plant that I have always had good luck with, and frankly I like to have that sort of plant in the garden. Sort of sets a good example for the rest of the plants--especially the ones I don't always quite manage, which is almost everything else.

So the real question for the summer may ultimately be, if Toni picked a peck of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Toni picked and is that what everyone is getting for Christmas?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 65 - Rats!

Andy did the grocery store run today, and he said he was picking out a bouquet of flowers for me to celebrate my return to health when he remembered that flowers are "things" and are not allowed. Always the romantic, he brought me cucumbers instead.

We might lead a strange life, but it is never EVER ordinary....

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 64 - I Am Not Coughing!

Boring as it sounds, this is VERY big news at Chateau Sutton-Goar as even with the aid of Nyquil, my seal-bark coughing has been keeping us both awake at nights. Andy is dragging around a little today, which may be the start of a cold or just the result of a week without sleep. Sometimes being a very close couple may not be such a good thing.

A few random updates:

* Andy's birthday is this week, and I managed to find ALL the gifts I bought back in April and stashed away in "hiding"--though I still have yet to locate where I stashed the half-finished pajama top that was to be part of his 2007 Christmas gift. Do houses generally have black holes?

* Without getting out of bed or even sitting up, I can tell which cat has brought a "gift" into the bedroom and--by the scuffling sounds--whether the gift is alive or dead. Andy is duly impressed.

* No matter which room I'm sleeping in, I am the recipient of the cat gifts, not Andy. I just can't adequately express my feelings in regards to this honor...

* Some "home remedies" for colds were probably dreamed up just so no one ever wanted to pretend to be ill. I think I agree with that approach, though mustard plasters might be going a step too far.

* Being healthy is quite possibly the best feeling in the world. Maybe just after having someone to share your life with. And both of you being healthy at the same time is positively amazing.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 63 - The Allure of Eau de Vicks

I have decided that Vicks Vap-o-rub may not actually do anything for my cold, but it might keep me from passing on my germs as Andy and the cats are giving my mentholated self a pretty wide birth right now. I don't know--I kind of like the smell, mostly because it's the first thing I've been able to smell in days.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day 61 - "We" Do Not Have Colds

I have a cold. Andy was having sympathy pains. Now I feel like the bad spouse--I didn't experience any sympathy pains when he fell down the stairs on Friday. Sympathy, yes. Sympathy pains, nope. I did have the compassion to not challenge him to a limbo contest over the weekend, so that's something. And for both our sakes, I took a full dose of Nyquil last night and just put up with the "fuzzy-heads" this morning. I think one more 10-hour night of sleep ought to do it!

And, amazingly, the only thing I thought of buying today were cough drops, which are totally allowed!!! And if it weren't for the case of "fuzzy-heads," I would have actually remembered to stop and get some. Oops!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 60 - We Have Colds

It's bad enough to get a cold in the winter, but it's positively humiliating in the summer. It's been hovering in the 90-100 degree range for weeks. How is it possible to get a cold?

I woke up with this monstrosity yesterday, and after a miserable day at work, came home and went to bed. I don't like the fuzzy-headed after effects of Nyquil, so I decided to take half a dose, which converts it from a knock-out aid to a hallucinogen. I had such a miserable night that Andy finally had to move into the other room so at least one of us could get some sleep. That was apparently the cats' cue, as Callisto showed up at 1:00 AM with a live moth for me (she's our little bug-hunter), and Theo tried to curl up on my face--perhaps to stop my coughing.

This evening Andy has come down with the cold as well, so we'll be toasting each other with little cups of Nyquil tonight before going to bed at 8:00.

Not a very exciting way to spend the last few days, but it did keep our minds completely off spending money, so I guess not even a cold is all bad....

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Day 58 - WE HAVE A TOMATO!!!!

Last night we picked our first tomato!It's tiny and filthy, and we were so excited we even considered having it bronzed, but that does make it awfully difficult to eat. In the 5 years I've been attempting to have gardens, I have repeatedly been humbled by vegetables. Tomato plants pop up wherever they darn well choose or tease you with dozens of green tomatoes that never turn red, herbs either limp along without the will to live or attempt hostile take-overs of the remaining garden plot. The plants that are supposed to come back don't, and those that weren't supposed to come back return and bring friends. It's a 3-month labor of sheer optimism, and finally we have a tomato and
a yellow bell pepper, which looks only slightly yellow, to be honest--more of a light green pepper. We're hoping we didn't pick it too early, but it's been on the plant for about a month and hasn't changed color much, so we're going to stuff it and roast it tonight. If there is no blog post tomorrow, you'll know there are side effects to eating not-quite-yellow bell peppers....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Day 57 - Home Stretch

OK, it would be a really LONG home stretch, but at least we're on the downward side of the 90 day spending ban. That's a bit easier to live with.

Friends have been asking, what happens after the 90 days are up? (Keep in mind that I have 8 days after Andy because of that dang yarn & Ms. Sowerby's lack of test knitters) We're thinking that we will each get $100 to spend in any way we see fit. The odd thing is, there isn't anything I really need to buy right now. (Thus tempting the appliances gods and probably providing some really good blog fodder for the next 40 days...) I had thought of rewarding myself with a new knitting book, but I already have a huge library & I neither need one nor do I have a place to store it right now. I enjoy buying movies, but there's a charming institution called a library that is willing to loan me almost anything I can think of, provided I bring it back when I'm done. We have found work-arounds for the tomato cages and tape issues, and the washing machine is continuing to show proper respect after a few well-aimed smacks. So, maybe we'll just set it aside in a savings account so we can finally replace some of the "college student chic" furnishings around the house.

Good God--we've reached "perspective."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Day 56 - Can't Keep a Good Man Down

Our 4th of July began with Andy taking a rather spectacular tumble on the stairs. He's sore , but doesn't seem to have any serious injuries. With the assistance of an ice pack, heating pad, and several soaks in the hot tub, he managed to finish the taping and got the first coat of paint up.

We're using a really nice paint from Sherwin Williams (which wasn't that much more expensive than the stuff I've gotten from Fred Meyer), and one of the many perks we've found to using nice paint is that you can tell how it's turning out from the very first coat. It may get a little darker than this, but not by much. The bedspread is a red & gold satin, so I think this will work really well. And it is something besides Antique White.

This weekend marks our two year anniversary in our home. We are extremely lucky that we got engaged in January of 2006, which coincided nicely with the housing boom. We each owned a house, but moving into one or the other would have left one person feeling like it wasn't really his/her home and the other feeling like his/her home had been invaded, in a frantic 9-month dash, we sold two houses at well above what they were worth, bought this one, and got married. We still have some things to unpack (especially wedding gifts), we still need a lot of furniture, the landscaping is still pretty awful, and we still have a long way to go toward eradicating the endless sea of antique white (with antique white trim, no less), but we're having a marvelous time doing it together.

I need to pick out the next room & color--once the spending ban is over, Andy will probably agree to ANYTHING that can involve a trip to Home Depot.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Day 54 - Aha!!!

Last night Andy found:
More masking tape! Painting can commence in earnest this weekend. Taping has already begun, which totally exhausted Theo.
At this rate, I'm not sure how he'll handle the actual paint fumes--or maybe we won't be able to notice the difference....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Day 53 - A Side Perk

As some of you may remember, my glasses were one of the casualties in the Month of Not Buying Anything New, and that getting them fixed was one of my first priorities on our first day of spending. This is what they looked like after they were "fixed:"

Normally I wear contact lenses, so with all the issues of Andy's employment and the economy slowing down enough to severely curtail my income, I thought I could live with these for the hour or two a day that I actually wear glasses. I did last for several months, but with the 90 day experiment looming, I decided enough was enough and decided that it was time to get glasses that would actually stay on my face. Sometimes I can use a little "shove" to do things I really don't want to be bothered with--so I thought, this was actually a good thing that a looming spending ban was going to force me to finally replace them. I just couldn't face another 90 days of these glasses.

When I bought the last pair of glasses, the process was pretty much the same as it was when I was a kid--trying on frames, giving them the prescription, then going back for a brief fitting. That was about 7 years ago. Now, like everything else in America, we've made it really complicated. now the glasses not only need to fit my face, they have to measure the exact spot my pupils will actually be looking through when I wear them. Then they asked if I wanted to see "well" or "really, REALLY well." Having pretty dreadful vision on my own, seeing really, REALLY well sounded fabulous. Thrilled at the prospect of great vision--without, of course, having any sense of having had poor vision with glasses, but evidently being a sucker of the highest order--I opted for the special coating that would potentially give me x-ray vision.

A week later, I went back and picked up these:

Did the special coating help me see better? Depends. As I wear gas permeable contacts, my eyes adjust a little going between glasses and contacts which has always been noticeable enough that I won't drive while wearing glasses, but it really was a pretty minimal change. Now when I take out my contacts and put the new glasses on, I spend about 30 minutes in the world of Salvadore Dali. Every evening there's a little span of time when we have curved walls, the floor is 7 feet below me, and Andy looks as wide as he is tall. Then everything is fine, but I can't decide if my vision is actually better at that point or if I am just so relieved to leave Funhouse Mirror Land that it feels like my vision is suddenly fabulous.

What the special coating does do, however, is attract dirt, smudges, fingerprints, and smears--none of which can be effectively removed except with the aid of the little bottle of cleaner that they gave me. Initially I was hoping that the smears would at least mitigate the Surrealism effect, but it doesn't do that either--I still have curved walls, invisible stilts, and a perfectly round husband BUT there's now a space-ship zooming around in the picture.

At this rate, I'll not only be ready when I'm old enough to need bifocals, they might be a relief!

Fall! Finally!

Even without extremely hot summers, I've always loved fall.  A little coolness in the air, leaves starting to turn, sweaters coming out-...