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Archive for November, 2017

Back to Normal after the Holiday

November 28th, 2017 at 04:48 am

Whew! What a weekend. It was a really nice time, but very long. We clocked about 14 hours in the car total, visited 3 different cities, and ate 3 different Thanksgiving meals. I gained roughly 6 pounds over the course of it all. haha.

Trying to get back to feeling normal. All of the traveling (and eating, and drinking) had me exhausted all day yesterday. We didn't get home til 5pm on Sunday, and the only thing I had the energy to do was throw some pasta in a pan and heat up sauce. I think I went to bed at 8:30.

Yesterday at work was alright despite the tiredness. It's going to be a busy week - which I don't mind so much. I went to the wellness center after I got off, and worked out for about 1.5 hours all told. I've been really enjoying one of the pre-programmed courses on the elliptical, and it's an hour long. At the end of that hour it says I've burned almost 700 calories, so I'm really good with that. haha. Then I got on the rowing machine for 2000 meters. After working out I swung by Aldi. Managed to stay under $50 - which puts me right at my $250 budget for the month. Would have been slightly less, but we had to buy some things for our "Friendsgiving" contribution when we were out of town - and those foil pans at the grocery store are ridiculously expensive. Had I realized I would have found a Dollar Tree or something. A 12-pack was also included in that, so the total there was close to $40.

I suggested to a friend of mine we get together this week because his birthday was over the weekend. When he asked where I'd want to go out, I suggested he come over and I cook, so that's what we're doing! I'm making chicken paprikas tonight, which has been sounding so good lately with the chilly weather. Bought a bigger bird than usual so I could use part of it for a soup I'm making later in the week. I've been saving all of my vegetable scraps to make broth. Want to add chicken to it for even more flavor (and the meat for the soup itself). I've never made broth at home, but when I saw the idea to keep the ends of carrots, celery, onions, etc. I loved the idea of not letting them go to waste. So I started a bag in the freezer to keep the odds and ends. And then the same with chicken. When I trim meat, I end up just throwing little bits in the trash. Saving them in the freezer made sense to me so I could add them to the broth. Less waste is always welcome in my house.

Meals this week are:

- Chicken Paprikas w Egg Noodles
- Sweet potato and black bean burrito bowls (DH made this last night and it was great)
- Hawaiian Chicken with Rice
- Sausage and White Bean Soup
- Emergency Pizza

I'm expecting leftovers with a few of these, so it should cover us through the week. Maybe more, we'll see!

Started my little bit of xmas shopping. Hoping to finish it all by the 10th or so - then ship the box out to my mom's. Clarified with DH's family that we will not be doing gifts again this year. Did grab DH a pair of socks. Will be picking him up just a couple more little things. Putting my tree up at some point this week!

Just hoping to ride out the rest of November here without spending too much. It was an expensive month with all the travel. December may be pricier than I expected it to be, as it looks like we'll have a few visitors over the course of the month, and DH is taking another trip back to Ohio (I have my opinions on this). But I'm going to do my best to minimize all spending otherwise.

That's about it for now! Hope you all have a lovely week!

Screenplay Reading and Gearing up for the Weekend

November 22nd, 2017 at 04:17 am

My screenplay reading last weekend went great, despite some nasty weather that I'm sure kept some people home. It's always such a gift to hear my work brought to life, and my actors were fantastic. I'm very lucky. I got so many positive comments from attendees. Many asked what the next steps were, if there are any plans to put it into development because they'd actually like to see it as a movie. That's what we're aiming for, so it's good to hear the story is resonating with people. It bodes well Smile

My producer thinks the script has about one or two more passes before sending it on to the distributor. Once we do that we're hoping for some buy-in and leverage to gain funding (this distributor works with big name studios as well as indie companies). He's the money guy. I've got not connections in the biz. But he seems confident this could actually happen. I'm trying to not let my imagination run away with itself.

Submitted the script to two film festivals. I'll hear back in February and March on both of those. The first draft went to the semifinal round in a screenplay contest earlier this year, so I'm hopeful that they will be accepted in its current (better) state now. Acceptance or a win would be great leverage for pitching the movie as well, so crossing my fingers!

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This week has just been flying by! It's exciting to have tomorrow and Friday off work, but I always feel the push to get completely caught up before a long weekend like this. Luckily, I've been fairly productive.

As far as spending goes, only spent about $33 at the grocery store over the weekend. We had dinners left over from last week, and we'll be out of town for the holiday - so it was mostly breakfast food, lunch fare, etc. Though I did pick up a pack of country style pork ribs for a little over $3 and cooked them in the crock pot with a bunch of leftover veggies and cream of celery soup. Yum. Will be adding that one to the rotation.

Got an oil change last night. Used a $10 coupon from the mail. It was still expensive, but we have a 5-hour drive back home coming up and it's been a little overdue.

It's going to be really nice to get to spend time with everyone. I'm glad we're not doing all 3 cities in one day like we typically do. Instead, we're doing a day per city. I'm hoping that will make it far less exhausting and allow us to really enjoy our time with each family/group. We'll be with family tomorrow and Friday, so I'm hoping it wont be a super expensive trip. Really, it should just be lunch a couple of times and of course extra gas.

Not doing any Black Friday shopping. I don't do crowds. I may hop online to see if there's anything worthwhile to grab. I'm still not sure what the story is with DH's family or whether we're doing gifts this year, so I've been holding off on planning for the moment. I'm sure we'll figure it out when we see them tomorrow, though.

Today will be finishing up work (and possibly staying late at work, depending on how productive I am), working out after, and getting ready for the journey. I hope you all have such a lovely Thanksgiving!

Finally an accurate picture

November 18th, 2017 at 06:29 am

So though I've been budgeting with Mint for the last month or two - I had found some errors and needed to clarify a couple of things with DH about how things were being paid (he set up autopay for a lot of our accounts), and how often the university pays him. I adjusted my numbers and the situation isn't quite as dire as I had initially understood it to be - we can at least live off our full-time income without having to stress that one spare dollar over the budget is cutting into our savings. And if we're frugal about it, we could even sock some away in our savings. Which will be useful during the summer months when DH wont be working. His income is supposed to increase by a bit come next semester when he starts teaching, so that will also help. We can't quite sustain with just my income. Sadly, he makes about as much as I do as a PhD grad student as I do working full-time.

So with that accurate picture, I feel much more comfortable setting some goals for the next year or so. Now that I do have a full-time job, I'd love to revisit the idea of consolidating (at least my private) student loans to get those interest rates down. And I really love the idea of throwing any extra income that way so I can hopefully get rid of them some day... I'm already paying $640/month in my minimums. But it will remain like that if I don't get super aggressive.

Thankfully, I am seeing some business stirring. That last possible photography job did not end up happening, but I have another smaller gig in the works and a potential design project as well... so the networking has been paying off. This kind of work is so dependent on word of mouth. It's nice to see things picking up finally.

This week has been (and will continue to be) a pricey one. Just a lot of socializing - which means drinks, dinner. A friend of mine came through town earlier in the week. Another had a birthday. Today we're driving to Nashville for the taped table read of my screenplay (woooo!), but that also means food/drinks. Next week we're going back to Ohio for the holiday, which again... Thankfully we'll be with family a lot of that time, but not the entirety. And our gas budget is definitely blown.

I guess on the good news, I'm killing it with the grocery budget, and even with a couple small purchases my "misc" spending hasn't even kicked in because of the refund I got from my cancelled class.

Speaking of which, I got a GREAT deal the other day using Victoria Secret coupons from the mail. 20% off any item and 2 free pairs of undies with any purchase. I've been putting off buying another "everyday" kind of bra. I'm the type that wears the same one day in and day out most of the time. Which isn't good, and wears them out quite quickly. $30 for a VS bra and a couple pairs of undies was an incredible value.

Need to get a jump on my xmas shopping. Still need to get word from DH's family if we're going to do any gifts. But I for sure am going to buy something small for my mom, sister, and mom's BF to send to their place before xmas hits. And I think DH and I decided to exchange a couple small things. So there is some spending in the works.

I'm actually excited about xmas for the first time in a really long time, it just being DH and me. Our plan is to have a Die Hard marathon at home, lounging in our PJs, exchange gifts, make delicious food, and all around relax. I'm looking forward to putting up our tree. I'm looking forward to no stress. I'm looking forward to the holiday feeling like an actual holiday. It's an almost foreign feeling for me, but I can get used to it.

At any rate, time for me to get some things done before we whisk out of town for a really exciting event tonight! I hope you all are having such a great week.

Groceries + Xmas Planning

November 12th, 2017 at 05:20 am

It's been a nice last few days. Did my meal planning and grocery shopping yesterday. Spent about $71 - which is slightly higher than I wanted to, but we have the means to make 8 different meals, and I'm hoping I get at least two nights out of a couple of them. So it'll likely bleed into next week, offsetting the spending there.

Talked to mom last night for a few hours. It was good to catch up, and we had to discuss the holidays. I let her know we're not coming back for xmas this year, and she took it better than I expected her to. For Thanksgiving, I gave her the option of taking a share of our time on Thursday (we visit DH's family as well), or getting us for the whole day/night on Friday... and it looks like we're doing Friday. I'm happy about that, as the running around on the day of leaves us exhausted and frankly unable to enjoy the festivities fully. But also because DH and I can spend actual quality time with her on Friday - "The Circus," as my mom calls it (my crazy family) will be at her house Thanksgiving, and it's hard to really be present with her when I'm trying to make small talk with people whom I have strained and/or nonexistent relationships with. Needless to say, I'm not close with my family. So it's much better for my mom and I if we can all hang out without distractions and such.

We discussed xmas presents as well. We're scaling back, thankfully. My mom lives for shopping and gift-giving, so they'll never go away. But she's more focusing on one small gift per person - which is great. I think I'll get her something like that as well, but also put together something a little more personal to go with it and mail ahead of time. Then it'll be a matter of grabbing something for my sister and something small for my mom's boyfriend and I think that'll be it. Not sure what the plan is with DH's family. Still not sure if he's even told his mom we're not coming home. Last year we all decided to not exchange gifts, and it was nice.

I hope I don't come off as a scrooge - it's not that I don't enjoy giving gifts. It's just so strange to me to end up purchasing generic things people typically don't need because I don't have a close enough relationship with them to understand what they really enjoy. If I literally only see and/or talk to someone 1-2 days a year, a gift seems more like something I'm doing because it feels like I should.

That being said, DH and I aren't going hard on gifts either this year. haha. Last year we didn't do gifts at all. That being said, last year we didn't have "Our" Christmas - which we typically have on xmas eve. Because we were traveling. This year, I actually plan to put up the tree and perhaps do a bit of decorating. I know we'll make a really nice dinner. Lounge around and watch movies. I think one really small gift will still be nice, or I might suggest we get a game or something we can play together as a "joint" gift to ourselves.

I'd just so much rather focus on the spirit of the holiday than the stress of the "stuff." There's so much expectation and pressure built around it. Down with the pressure, I say!

Nov 8

November 8th, 2017 at 04:18 pm

It's been a low-spend week thus far. Only spent about $50 at the grocery store, and picked a couple of meals that are really lasting. I made brats with sauerkraut and a huge bowl of mashed potatoes on Friday, which lasted through the weekend (including lunches) and yesterday tried my hand at some slow-cooker rice and beans. Well, made the bean portion in the crock pot anyway. I think ours runs hot and they were more than a little overcooked, but it made an enormous batch. We may end up freezing some of it and still eating it for a couple more days.

I hopped on Mint this morning to check the situation. DH went out of town this weekend back to visit. Any time either of us goes back it's expensive - restaurant meals and such. So we're already over budget in that category. Trying to keep the rest of the month really low-key. It's difficult to manage DH in that regard. He's so used to being able to go out whenever he likes and buy whatever he wants. But now, anything above and beyond our budget comes out of savings. We're lucky to have a decent amount tucked away, but that wont last long if we're not careful.

Worked out again today. I've been great on my schedule. Twice a week (three times last week!). It helps that I work at a fitness facility. And have coworkers that are happy to jump in with me. It's been really nice starting to feel stronger. My boxing class was cancelled, which was a bummer - but at least I'll be getting a refund (it was a specialty class).

Still waiting to hear on a potential photography job. And we sent out the proofs for our school photos - one of the parents was so impressed with my work for her preschooler that she reached out about potentially scheduling a session for her other kid. So that was really positive! It was a huge project at work that I was really stressed out about, so it's nice to know that parents are happy with the images.

That's really all I've got. Going to spend the night in, (hopefully) getting some work done. Finished the script for a short film this morning, so I was pretty excited about that. My habit of waking up early and writing has been going strong for a good month now! It's really exciting.

Hope everyone is having such a great week!

Catching Up (Again)

November 4th, 2017 at 07:08 am

I've been around SA since 2006, but I'm not sure I've consistently blogged for more than a few months at a time. And when I stop, things tend to go by the wayside. So I'm committing myself to doing better. Once again.

The last time I wrote was back in March, and MUCH has changed since then. DH and I made our move up to Louisville at the end of May. I spent three months in a very painful and stress-inducing job hunt. Then finally got a full-time job and started working mid September.

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My goals for the year looked like this:

[ ] Adhere to monthly budget, continuously - NOPE.

When we don't really pay attention or plan, this is the case.

[ ] File taxes by March 1

Finally got done, but it was a NIGHTMARE. Will not be using that accountant again. We did get a bit of a return, so that was nice.

[ ] Ideally, save an additional $5,000 prior to June 1 - NOPE.

[ ] Find an apartment in Louisville for