Sunday, November 29, 2009

Visited the Tech Museum

Jeff and I and a group of friends went to the Tech Museum to see the Star Trek exhibit. It was really good. It's really interesting how cheesy some of those costumes look in person, especially those from the original series. I so wish we could have taken pictures, but they weren't allowed. And they didn't have any kind of museum guide with pictures either. I'd love to have gotten something like that as it would be nice to make costumes for some future Halloween. Maybe I'll go look for some patterns.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

We're Working on Losing Weight

Well, Jeff and I are trying to lose weight again. To accomplish that goal, we have been trying to spend less time sitting and more time moving. We also joined a new website, SparkPeople. It's basically a free alternative to Weight Watchers (thanks Karen for the url!) where you can track your nutrition and fitness activities. It looks pretty neat. Jeff and I both set up pages. (Jeff's) (Sharon's)

I've been spending a lot of time entering goals as well as tracking my food intake. I'd really like to be successful this time. If I decide I need more help, then I'll go ahead and join Weight Watchers when we get home from Oregon in January. But SparkPeople seems to be really neat. And I've already gotten a lot of encouragement from folks on there.

I've already taken Shasta for a walk this morning. It's so much easier to be good about walking when it's nice and cool outside. =)

Tonight we're going to my Dad's place for another Thanksgiving dinner. I'm going to try and be good again. I find it works better if I load up on carrots and celery before dinner, then I simply don't have room to overeat as much of the high calorie food.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Busy Week

Just a quick update. Is it only Wednesday? Seems like it's been such a busy week.

I had the eye appt on Monday where I learned the eye surgery won't actually solve the problem I'm hoping to solve (that is being able to see to sew while I'm watching movies). The only way I'll be able to manage that goal is if I have them adjust one eye for distance vision and one eye for close up vision; that seems pretty weird. I don't know if I'll be able to tolerate that. Or I can have them make both eyes for distance vision, and I'll still need glass for closeup. And, either way, I'll still be buying glasses. Bummer. So, now I'm not sure if I'll go for the surgery or not; I'm thinking about it.

I got my grade on my midterm for Torts class on Monday night. I got an A. Yah! I can breathe much easier in that class now.

Yesterday Jeff and I met with the attorney to work on planning our will and estate planning documents. This is actually one of my projects I'm going to do for my internship at the office. The attorney is going to help me with them and we'll get some good legal documents out of this gig.

I'm off to work again in a few minutes and then Legal Research & Writing class again tonight. I'm SO ready for this semester to be over; semesters are just too darn long. I way prefer quarters, they go so much faster.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weight Loss Anyone?

I have a couple of friends who joined Weight Watchers and had great success at losing weight and I'm thinking about giving it a try. Though, I don't know if it was really Weight Watchers, or if they were just ready and motivated to work at losing weight.

I know I'm getting ready. I'm tired of being overweight and my weight is just getting worse. And the heavier I get, the harder it is to work out. I clearly need to do something about my food intake. =)

I'm thinking about trying the Weight Watchers Online program. Does anybody have any information about it, or ever tried it before? Either with success or failure. Kaiser Members can get a discount.

I'm also looking for virtual WW/weight loss buddies. I don't know exactly how it would work, but I just confirmed we could start a private blog here on Google and we could share our weight/motivational comments with each other. Actually, we don't all have to sign up for Weight Watchers to join the blog; just having buddies to help encourage weight loss is a good thing.

Anyone interested in trying to lose weight with me?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Finished a Quilt!

Bindings are probably my least favorite part of quilting, which is probably why I tend to procrastinate once I get them to that point. =)
This evening, I managed, finally, to finish one of the boys' quilts. I literally don't have a floor big enough in the house to lay it out and take a picture, but here it is folded into quarters. Hopefully the next one will go a bit faster now that I'm building up calluses on my fingers and hopefully I'm getting the hang of where to hold it so I can see. I'm sort of missing my near-sightedness.

On Friday evening we went over to my brother James' place to visit and to celebrate the November birthdays. My brother James and his wife, Alice, have a new baby, Alexander. Here is photographic evidence that I will actually hold babies (if they're handed to me) for those who know me. Jeff had to snap the picture pretty quickly, though, because Alexander started crying right after this.

The kids seem to have a good time playing with Shasta. Jeff took this really cute picture of all of them.

After dinner and some playing, we went and watched "Up." I thought it was cute the way all the "kids" were lined up on the floor to watch TV.

My brother James had a very cool cake, okay, maybe a very hot cake.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shifting Financial Priorities

I've been musing about how we've been spending our money literally like water in the last six months or so. I guess there is nothing like a major stock market crash to shift your financial priorities. We had paper losses of literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in our funds and individual stocks and got nothing in exchange. We had worked so hard to save that money and were pretty devastated by the losses, temporary as they were.

So, I guess it helped us realize that maybe saving everything possible isn't the best long-term plan for us. We lived well below our means for our entire married life and had a lot less to show for it. What good is saving all those pennies cooking your own meals, washing ziplocs, etc. if you can lose literally tens of thousands in one day! I guess we just decided maybe it would be OK if we spent a bit more enjoying our lives now. We'll surely have to work for more years, but we'll have more life experiences and/or cherished things.

When my old PC died last spring and I couldn't get to Quicken anymore, I didn't run out and buy a replacement computer right away. That is absolutely shocking to me! For so many years, I visited Quicken nearly every day to either enter transactions or to update our stock prices and to keep an eye on our balances. I was proud of our saving efforts and I loved watching that net worth graph go up, up, up!

Well, this spring I wasn't really in the mood to have the losses so clearly delineated for me. Nor was I in the mood for a lot of budgeting. We had moved to California and we were living in an expensive rental and I was sick of feeling broke. I simply stopped paying attention. Luckily, after so many years of saving, we had plenty of cushion and could afford to do that. =)

Well, we finally dealt with our rent problem by moving to my grandmother's old house. Our rent is substantially lower, though we're certainly much more cramped for space. Since we had prepaid a year's rent and we had fewer expenses coming out of Jeff's income, our balance built up in the checking account until we had a too high balance. Well, I guess I'm ready to deal with the money again. We haven't recovered all the losses, but the market is only about 20% below the pre-crash levels, instead of the 40% it was in Spring. We're still down, but we're not knocked out.

Jeff is a saint and continues to go to a job he'd prefer to leave in order to give me time to work on my career. I'm working hard on school, but maybe not hard enough on finding a paid job. Maybe I need to work on that some more... It is a tough market, but I haven't even applied for a paid position lately.

I finally ordered that purple Dell computer last night and now I just need to buy a new version of Quicken; I was using the 2006 version and they'll have stopped supporting it by now. It will probably take me a week to enter a years worth of receipts and statements. I shudder to think of the huge unknown, uncategorized spending transactions I'll have to enter: all those farmer market visits, those fast food visits, etc. I got receipts when I could, but Jeff was a bit more careless of keeping track. Oh well.

Of course, if we had any faith in the United States Government's ability to manage our country's finances, we'd probably switch back into tightwad mode. But I'm not convinced they have any ability or political will to stabilize the currency for the longterm. I spend a couple hours nearly everyday reading housing and financial news and blogs. They debate about whether we're headed into hyper-inflation or into deflation. I don't see that it matters, really. Either way, we're screwed. The U.S. has huge deficits and once our foreign trading partners lose faith in the dollar, they'll stop buying and then we're really in for trouble.

I guess I figure I'd rather own stuff (including, preferably, a nice house) than some piece of paper saying we have some bank balance. At least "stuff" we aren't likely to lose because of the government's careless spending habits.

I still wash the ziplocs, because I don't want to waste money needlessly. Those thrifty habits are pretty ingrained, but I don't sweat the "small stuff" as much as I used to.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Responsible Adults Do Wills

Sometimes you do something because it's the right thing to do, not because you want to.

I had planned to spend the day finishing up the last bits of schoolwork for the semester, but then I remembered Jeff and I have an upcoming appointment with the attorney I'm working for, in order to do a new will and, perhaps, a trust for our estate. I spent very many hours today compiling and filling out the information about our assets and how we'd like them spent (if we have anything left) when we die.

It's always depressing to think about dying, but if you don't do responsible things like this your estate will just end up paying the price in the form of higher taxes and extra attorney fees.

We don't have children. We've worked hard to save our assets and we would like them to go toward making a somewhat better world, if possible, so we're leaving everything to environmental and animal charities... The charity getting the greatest share will be The Nature Conservancy, our favorite charity because they buy environmentally important lands and protect them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Jeff!

Today is Jeff's birthday! He's 43! (A prime number, BTW.)

We both worked today as we didn't really come up with a plan that required a day off. I think Jeff would prefer to save his vacation time for our Oregon travel this December.

Jeff decided he wanted to go out to dinner at Jeffrey's Hamburgers in Menlo Park. It was quite good. I had a Bacon Cheese Burger and Jeff had the Pineapple Teriyaki Burger. They were yummy!

And the restaurant had some fun decor too:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Save Money - Skip Presents

There was one point in our lives when we couldn't imagine skipping the grind of Christmas gift exchanges, but over the last ten years we have totally separated ourselves from the whole gift headache. We are, by no means, suggesting others shouldn't celebrate Christmas if that's what you want to do, but we're just suggesting most of our family had more than enough stuff and really didn't need or want the presents we were buying them.

We highly recommend a book, Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season, by Jo Robinson and Jean C. Staeheli, which really helped us put our decision in perspective during the first couple years of our efforts to cut back.

Most of the reason we first decided to opt out was because family was out of town and we often didn't visit over Christmas. So, we would dutifully shop, wrap and ship, and then we would never hear anything more; no responses and no thank yous, it got old. So, we began cutting back.

We contacted our family and told them we didn't want to participate in any gift exchanges, but we still did a few presents for eachother. Of course, we always spent too much on stuff we really didn't need. Then we cut back to just doing stockings. And we found you could easily spend $200 per stocking; it was crazy. After a few years, we simply stopped gifts altogether. It kept us out of the stores and cut back on our needless spending.

When we returned to California it would have been easy to step back into the Christmas headache, but there, the garage sales were really helpful. It was at these garage sales where the stashed gifts came out and saw the light of day. I know I recognized a number of gifts. I'm not trying to give the impression I was upset the presents were sold, I wasn't. It just reinforced the waste of the gifts given in the first place. I saw plenty of $30+ items, still new in the boxes, going for $5 or less.

Now, when we celebrate the holiday, we spend our time making things like pies and cookies. We spend time with family and friends and get to enjoy our spare time. We don't stress about all the things we have to do or presents we have to find. And we don't count the shopping days until Christmas.

If you feel stress and wonder why you're celebrating the holiday, or feel the finances are a burden, read the book... We really recommend it. You don't have to buy it; many libraries loan it out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lightning Quilt is Quilted!

I discovered my local quilter had a neat dragon pattern; too bad I didn't know about it when I made my dragon lap quilt in Spring. Oh well. Anyway, I really liked the pattern and I only had the lightning quilt done, so I decided to have it quilted with the dragons.

Unfortunately, I spent way too much using the quilter here in California, but I really liked the pattern. Though, I'm wishing I'd gone with a little thicker batting. With all that close stitching, it's pretty thin. It will probably end up being our summer quilt. I need to sew on the binding, and then it will be all ready to use.

This weekend, I pulled the childrens' quilts out of storage as well, so now I have four of them I need to finish. I'm hoping I'll make progress on them over Thanksgiving. Classes are mostly cancelled that week, so I should have some time. If only I can manage to come up with the motivation to do it.