Monday, January 31, 2011

Coupon savings and spending

One month is (almost) over for the new year, and already I've failed at my budget.  Boy do I hope this isn't a sign for things to come.

As a reminder, my goal is to spend less than $300 on groceries, dog food, makeup, beauty and bath products, and household cleaners.  

I not only failed to keep it below $300 this month, I also didn't even keep it below $330 which was my budget goal for last year. haha!

Here's how I did:
I spent $361.53, saved $67.63 in coupons, and  $60.80 in advertised savings on items towards my budget.  
Going over what I spent, I know that the majority of that was on groceries and I bought dog food twice this month.  Early in the month Husband and I got items for several dinners that we normally only make every couple of months because we freeze it.  So I know that was part of it.   I also know that each time I went to Whole Foods I went on the weekend and Husband decided to come with me, and he bought meat.  I'm not saying I don't want meat bought at Whole Foods, because I do, it's just that I wouldn't have bought the meat and it would have kept the spending down.    I was also out of a lot of basics that we keep on hand at the beginning of the month and that caused the bills to be higher.

I am happy that very little of that spending was on health and beauty items and cleaning supplies.  In fact, the only cleaning supplies bought were laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent, both of which were great prices.  The health and beauty supplies bought were also at great prices or were needed (such as the bottle of store brand Ibuprofen I bought because we were out and I needed it).

Still, I was only about $62 over the goal.  That's not too bad, until I remember that I also used a $75 gift card at Whole Foods.  If I hadn't used that, we would have gone way over the budget!

I'm hoping next month will be better. We have plenty of ground beef, or at least I think we do, but I have no idea what Husband plans to cook next month.  We have other meat too.  We have lots of soups and other items in the freeze that we made in January.

As far as spending and coupon savings for items that don't count towards the budget, I did pretty good.  I'm keeping track of all the savings, but only the spending on clothing and shoes.  I spent $120.64 on clothing in January.  Other than one coat that was discounted to $61, the rest was spent on running clothes.  I should be set for winter though.  No more running clothes being bought unless it's at a deal I just can't pass up.  I saved $57.68 in coupons and an additional $276.14 in advertised sales.  Not to bad!

When combined, here are the totals:
Total saved: $462.25
Broken down that comes to $125.31 in coupons and $336.94 in advertised sales.

Total spent (for items I'm keeping track of): $482.17

Get Fit Monday

One of the green blogs I follow, Journey to Green, has a Get Fit Monday feature.  This is one of the blogs that gave me the idea to do my own workout update's on Mondays.  I asked Journey to Green if I could snag her tag and link back to her blog and she readily agreed.

As for my workouts, how did I do this past week?  Not so well, but I have a good excuse.

I did work out last Monday and Wednesday.  I ran both days and did pretty good.  My pace on Wednesday was back up to my normal pace, below 9min/mile and I was really happy with that.

However that's all I did.  It was a bummer, too, because this past Friday and Saturday were actually warmer than normal for St. Louis and would have been wonderful running days.  Saturday would have been a wonderful day to go to  Castlewood and work on increasing my miles from 6 to 9 on the hills. I think I could have done it, although it would have been slow.

I did have a good excuse though, I had an out-patient surgery performed on Thursday morning.  No worries, I'm ok, it was just something that had to be done.  I'm feeling ok, a but achy, but ok.  I just can't lift anything heavy for several weeks and had to take several days off from running.  I hope to run later this week, but we'll see.  We are expecting a horrible ice and snow storm starting today and ending on Wednesday.  If we get the snow they are calling for, I won't be able to run outside.  My hope is that I will feel good enough to run at the park this weekend, slow going and low mileage.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Groupon Deal - Oberweis Dairy

I couldn't pass up sharing this deal.   The Groupon deal for today is $5 for a $10 discount at Oberweis Dairy.  I first mentioned Oberweis in a Change the World Wednesday post in December.
I've switched to buying all my milk (at least what I drink) from Oberweis because they are somewhat local for me and organic.  I like their practices and I think it's important to support companies with practices like theirs.

When I saw this deal today, I knew I had to buy it and I knew I wanted to share it.  If you are in an area that has an Oberweis Store, I recommend purchasing this.  Even if you don't want to buy the milk from them, their ice cream is very yummy!  I might take my Husband to get ice cream with this coupon.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Enquiring Minds Want to Know - sleeping habits

This meme is hosted by Dallycas's Thoughts, one of the book blogs I follow.  Feel free to check out her blog for info regarding this meme and to play along.


1. What time do you usually wake up each morning?
Husband was watching me do this meme and wanted to play along. So you get both our answers.

Husband says "During the week I wake up around 6:30 and on the weekends I wake up at 8:00"

Me: My sleeping habits are worse, I can start waking up anytime around 4am and sometimes as late as 6:30.  This is the weekends too!  For the last several weeks, at least 4, I've bee awake around 4 or 4:30 every day.  And no..I don't use an alarm clock.

2. What time do you usually go to sleep each night?
Husband says " 9pm, not sooner not later."

Me: As you can imagine, since I'm up so early I go to bed early too.  Lately I've been in bed between 8:30 - 9, sometimes sooner.

3. Standing at the foot of your bed, do you sleep on the right side of the bed, left side of the bed, or do you have the whole bed to yourself?
Husband says "Right side, whatever side you're not on."

Me: Lol - he's funny, we always sleep on the same side. I'm on the left and he's on the right. The middle is empty.  Although, lately I've been sleeping a bit diagonal

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Change the World Wednesday - eco-friendly cleaners

Here's the latest challenge from Reduce Footprints:

This week, if you've never tried Eco-friendly cleansers (either commercial or handmade), please try one out.

Or ...

If you've used commercial Eco-friendly cleansers but have never made your own, try making one (a simple cleanser can be made with equal parts vinegar and baking soda, with a few drops of essential oil added in to make it smell nice ... it's perfect for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens). We'd also like to know which commercial brands you use and your analysis of them.

Or ...

If you always use homemade cleansers, please share your recipe with us. We'd also like to know what you've tried, what works and what doesn't.


Since I recommended this one, I think it would be a good idea for me to actually put up my post on Wednesday (and give myself a pat on the back for being able to do so).

Last year was the first time I actually thought about  making my own cleaners.  I had decided that normal cleaners weren't good enough for me, I don't want the chemicals, and had decided going to an eco-friendly/green cleaner was the way to go.  Some companies do publish coupons so I could still get the items frugally if I paid attention to sales.  I did get a great deal on some already too.

Then one day while cleaning the granite counter tops in the kitchen I realized I was almost out and needed more.  This made me frown because granite cleaner is expensive and there aren't a lot of options out there (at least not in local stores without having to buy online). Plus they are a bit expensive. 

So the next day I decided to research home-made granite cleaner.  I found several that wanted me to use rubbing alcohol, pure grain alcohol, lemon juice, and/or vinegar.   However I did find several that listed biodegradable liquid soap and water.  Hmm....I would much rather try the one with only two ingredients, especially when I already had those two ingredients at home.   So I made a batch and used it the following weekend and I loved the results!  I found it cleaned better and it left the counter shinier.     I knew I found what I wanted.  I did use up the rest of the bought cleaner, but since then I've been making my own.  It lasts a long time and it's super easy to make.  Incredibly in-expensive too.   I admit I did wonder, at first, if it was going to get my counter tops clean enough, after all we do put food directly on the counter.  Then I thought..if I trust the detergent to get my dishes clean and I eat off of my dishes, wouldn't I also trust it to get my counters clean enough?

One day almost 2 months ago I was cleaning the kitchen and I had already cleaned the stainless steel fridge but noticed I missed a spot.  I had my home-made granite cleaner in hand and my rags and without thinking I sprayed the cleaner on the fridge and wiped.  I'm sold.  I will use the rest of the stainless steel cleaner I bought, but once it's gone I will use this cleaner for all the stainless steel appliances as well. It cleans very easily and it leaves the surfaces shiny.   

You're ready for the easy as pie recipe right?

Granite Cleaner
2 tbsp biodegradable liquid soap (I just use whatever green dish detergent I have on hand)
4 cups water
32 oz spray bottle.

Pour soap and water into the spray bottle and shake gently until completely blended.

That's it folks.  Anybody can do that.

Here's how I apply it.   I spray it on the surface, use one very soft rag/towel to rub the surface. You will get suds.  I then use a different super soft rag/towel to wipe it off. 

One batch lasts me a couple of months, and I have a lot of counter space.  So you can imagine how much cheaper this is than buying a commercial cleaner. 

As far as other cleaners in the house. I had found several multi-purpose cleaner recipes and I was planning to try them.  I'm not so sure I will though. I kinda like my soap and water combo.  And again..if I trust this soap to get my plates and glasses clean enough to eat/drink with, then I believe I trust it enough to clean all surfaces.   That being said, I do look forward to seeing what others use and perhaps I will give one or two a try to see how I like it.

Oh, and one other thing I know I plan to start doing.  As soon as I finish withe the current bottle of jet-dry in the dishwasher, I plan to use vinegar.  I hear it's just as effective with the added bonus that it's cheaper and better for you and the environment.

Currently, because I tend to buy when things are super cheap, I do have a collection of non-green cleaners at home.  I will continue to use these until they are gone.  I've already bought them, I'm not going to be wasteful and throw them away.   

Now I have a question for you, dear readers, does anybody have a great home-made cleaner for a smooth top stove?  I've read that you can use water and baking soda, but I've tried that and wasn't too impressed.  Of course, I did try it on the old cook top that had years of build-up from the previous owners and nothing got it all off.  I haven't tried it on the new one yet. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chang the World Wednesday - energy-efficient cooking

I was doing so well posting these on the Wednesday that they actually were published and then last week I flaked.   Better late than never though right?

Here was the challenge posted on Reduce Footprints last Wednesday:

This week, if possible, try cooking a meal outside over a clean, Eco-friendly fire.

Or ..

If you are unable to cook outside, or if it's just too cold, please cook at least one day's meals using energy-efficient methods (table top appliances such as crock-pots, electric skillets, etc.). Do not use the stove or oven.

Or ...

If you are already cooking meals in an energy-efficient way, please share information and suggestions on how we all can do better.


I don't have much to report on this one.  We aren't doing too great with it ourselves.  We have a crock-pot but rarely use it.  I think it's because we don't always think about it.  This month alone we have made spaghetti sauce, chili, and 3 soups.  I guess we could have made them in the crock-pot but we never even thought of it. Instead we cooked it on the stove.

Husband has been cooking outside on the grill once in awhile in this weather though..  Not even once a week, but he has a couple of times when it hasn't been too bad.

As far as not using the stove, well, that didn't happen.  In fact, we use it so much that I've been thinking of getting a toaster oven for at least a month.   We use the oven at least 5 times a week.  This is because we eat rolls with dinner 98% of the time.  I make the rolls from scratch and cook them, then freeze them, then Husband heats a couple up in the oven for dinner.   This could easily be done in a toaster oven.    I think several other things we eat could be done in a toaster oven too, if we get one big enough.  

I just need to research the best options first.  Do you have any recommendations?  

I can't say that I exactly failed at this challenge because I was already thinking of making some changes and it did make me realize that we probably could use the crock-pot for things we already make.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Workout Mondays - a week in review

I'm going to try a new feature. By saying I'm going to try, that means I'm going to try and actually post it every week. I hope I don't forget.  

As you have probably noticed by now, working out is a big part of my life. I love the way I feel when I'm working out regularly and I love seeing the results.

Mondays will be the day that I do a post regarding how I did the week before and my workout week will run Monday - Sunday.

I hope you enjoy this weekly (I hope!) post!  Maybe you can even play along.  I'll have to work on creating a button. did I do last week?

I didn't go to my soccer game on Thursday because of the snow we got.  Yes, I do play indoor, but my game was after 10pm and I didn't want to be out driving on the roads after getting 6+ inches of snow.  I felt bad, but then was told my team would have to forfeit the game because nobody could make it.

I was lucky enough to be off on the 17th, Monday, and ran at Castlewood Park.  I would have attempted 6-7 miles, but it was a week day and my normal week day distance is around 4 miles, so I stuck with that.  Ok, and fine, the hills at the park are a killer!   I ran 4.5 miles in almost 44 min.  Normally my pace is faster, but it's been slower at this park lately, not really sure why and I don't like it.

I didn't run again till Saturday (I blame the snow).  I need to work up to 9 miles at this park by this time next month, and so far I've done 6. I wanted to get in 7 but because of the snow I only managed 3.89.  There was at least 6 inches of snow and I didn't have a lot of time to run due to other engagements.  It took me 45:56 min to run almost 4 miles.  Slow, yes. But I'm ok considering what I was dealing with.

For now, my cross-training consists of doing different P90X workouts.  I tell myself that I want to alternate these workouts with my running, but find that I often stay in bed and read in the morning instead of getting up to work out. haha!

On Tuesday I did the Chest and Back workout, which left me a bit sore since I'm not doing these workouts regularly.  I also don't do this one in my normal rotation because it's basically pull-ups and push-ups, not my favorite.

Friday I did get up and do a workout, but didn't write it down so I can't remember which one I did.  oops

On Sunday Husband decided we should do the plyometrics workout.  Of course, I'm incredibly sore today since I haven't done that one in a long time, several months.  You try doing almost an hour of squats and lunges and we'll see how you feel the next day.    I also think it's funny that towards the end, one of the circuits he had us doing brought my heart rate up to 245!  Yikes!  That's high.  

So, only two runs last week.  I need to focus on the raining but that's ok.  I did get in 3 cross-training workouts so that's still great.  I can't complain too much since I did work out 5 out of 7 days.

So, how did all you do?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Fill-In

1. So many of us are really tired of the snow, and it's only been on the ground since Wednesday night.

2. Try to see the positive even in hardship.

3. Those who are accepting of my running babble are wonderful people.

4. My doggy is waiting quietly for myself or my Husband to get home.

5. Light is in both the good part and the bad part of morning.

6. ... of all that is ordinary is rarely said to me, I'm a tad crazy.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to maybe convincing husband to take me to the running store when we drop my car off at the shop, tomorrow my plans include running in at least 6 inches of snow at a local park if I can get to the running store to by "snow chains" for my shoes and Sunday, I want to relax and forget about the snow and dream of the summer.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Fill-In

1. Right now I need another piece of chocolate like I need another hole in my head.

2. Water is what's in my glass.

3. A copy of this letter should make it into my heritage album for future generations to laugh at.

4. Yogurt is best with a spoon but I admit to eating it with a fork a lot at work so that I don't have to dirty a fork and spoon.

5. The best movie I've seen lately is Winter's Bone.

6. Movies I like; books I love.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing and looking forward to a 3 day weekend, tomorrow my plans include scrapping with some friends and attempting another run at Castlewood (in the snow) and Sunday, I want to sleep in and read all day but instead I'll get up and work out with Husband, clean house, and visit my Grandparents with one of my sisters!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Change the World Wednesday - Laundry practices

Change the World Wednesday is hosted by Reduce Footprints, please check out her blog to play along.

This weeks challenge is:

This week accomplish one or all of the following Eco-friendly laundry practices:
  • Wash in cold water only
  • Use "Green" laundry soap (consider making your own)
  • Use vinegar in the rinse rather than using dryer sheets
Or ...

If you already do all of these things, all of the time, please write about it and share any other tips you may have.

This one is actually easy for me answer this week!
1)I already wash in cold water 100% of the time

2)I plan to go to eco-friendly detergent as soon as I use up all the stuff I already have at home.  You know me by now, I like to buy items when they are at a really good price, so I have a bit of a laundry detergent stash.  If I were a betting person, I would bet that I could finish out this year using the detergent I already have at home.   

The only exception I can think of is the sports detergent, haven't found an eco-friendly one yet and it's a must for stinky running clothes. Seriously, before I knew there was special detergent for sports clothes I was using normal detergent and my official running gear was stinky coming out of the wash/dryer.  If you use any moisture wicking sports item, sports detergent is a must.   I use it on an average of 2 loads per week (lights and darks).

IF any of you use an eco-friendly laundry detergent already, I would love your thoughts on the the different brands and which you prefer. I'm not afraid to order online if need be.  If you have come across an eco-friendly sports detergent, I would love it if you could leave a comment and let me know which brand, where to find it. 

3)see #2.  I have a lot of liquid fabric softener that I got really cheap. I bet I could finish out the year on what I have of this too. haha!  Once it's finished, I plan to use vinegar in the wash.   I also plan to make wool dryer balls to replace dryer sheets.  I do have 2 un-opened containers of dryer sheets left, but imagine I'll go to the wool ball method later this year.   If you are interested in making your own wool dryer balls, the directions at Good Mama seem easy, although I haven't tried to make any yet.  My Mom's a knitter and I already asked her if I could have her scraps so I didn't have to buy any wool.  I've saved some nylons that had runs and would have been thrown away too.   If you don't want to make any, I've done a search for them on Etsy and the prices seem reasonable (especially when you factor in never having to buy dryer sheets again). 

While the challenge doesn't mention drying, I thought I would touch on that. It seems that there is an effort by many to go back to line drying and hanging clothes up outside.  My family actually did that when I was growing up.  While this would be a great thing to do now, especially on towels and items that have to be dried twice as long it seems, it's just not possible for me.  My allergies are horrible and there's no way I could handle wearing clothes that had been dried outside and had pollen stuck on them.  As it is, I have to take allergy meds all year round, and I have to take two different kinds because one just isn't enough.
However, that being said, last year I did dry the small bathroom and kitchen rugs outside. I hung them over the edge of the deck in the sunshine.  I plan to continue to do that too.  

I'm tempted to see if I can rig up some kind of laundry line in the laundry room so I can hang up towels, socks, and similar items that don't get thoroughly dried the first time through the dryer. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I geeked out over fun running tools

I know I really geek out over something when I tell one of my friends about it thinking he would totally get it and be on board with me, and he isn't, and confirms that I really did geek out.

Here's what happened.  I was playing around in the training software I installed on my laptop where I can upload  data from my Garmin Forerunner 305.  I realized that there is an option to view your runs with Google Earth.  Of course I had to install Google Earth!

Then, I later whent for a run at Castlewood Park, where I have a race in February.  I set out to do 6 miles on at least part of the official course.

Later that day I was uploading my data and looking at it via Google Earth and had a great idea!  I remembered seeing a map of the course for the run on the Big River Running website.  I thought maybe it was a Google Earth map.  So I pulled it up.  So I kept it up and I brought up my run from earlier that day.  And then I spent about 15 min comparing the two. zoom in, zoom out.  zoom in, zoom out.  Move the map around.  Ponder.  Get nervous that the two large hills I attempted to run up were indeed part of the course.  Zoom out.  Explain to Husband how awesome it was that I could compare the two.  Go back to my maps when he doesn't share my excitement.    I then got really excited knowing that each time I ran at the park and attempted to run parts of the course (remember..I get lost the majority of the time I run here..especially if I'm trying to do a new route) I could compare the two and see how I did.  I could then know how to change my run the following weekend.   My goal is to be able to run the full course, without walking any hills, and at my 10 mile race pace, before the actual trail race.

I really don't know why it is I like to view all my running stats and view them, like I really know what I'm looking at.  Like I really am an elite athlete in training.  All I know, is that I do. And it's a lot of fun.  And I'm a total geek.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Fill-In


1. It's 2011; I WILL run my first half-marathon.

2. Snap! Those darn pickles.

3. Thankfully I have my sanity, sometimes.

4. Cherish the best things in life.

5. I am so ready to drop kick my co-worker, and she didn't even do anything today.

6. A big bowl of potato chips sounds really really good right now.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing in front of the tv, probably playing a pc game, tomorrow my plans include attempting to run 6-7 miles at Castlewood state park and Sunday, I want to stay in bed and read all day but instead I have several things I need to do in the kitchen!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Zoya Fingernail Polish - try some for (almost) free

I was introduced to the Zoya company last year when I was able to purchase some products at a huge discount  this past November. I used the fingernail polish a couple of times, the remover once, and have been meaning to blog a review since.  I didn't blog about the deal last November because I had not used the product yet and didn't want to recommend something I had no experience with.  They have another deal right now and this time around I can happily recommend them.

Zoya offers a HUGE line of fingernail polish.  The zoya company is
the first to remove toxic ingredients such as toluene, camphor, formaldehyde and DBP (dibutyl phthalate) from its formulations

Did you know formaldehyde is in your normal fingernail polish? I bet you didn't.  Kinda scary huh?    I wanted to try the Zoya brand because it didn't contain any toxic ingredients.  I tend to wear fingernail polish the majority of the time, only times I don't wear it is when I want to give my nails a break and leave it off for about a week, which happens once a month or so.   So for me, finding a fingernail polish without the harmful chemicals was important.

I've worn two of the colors that I bought from Zoya. I kept each one on my nails for 2 weeks.  I used their base coat and top coat, as well as the color itself.  After the 1st week the tips were a bit chipped but not bad enough for me to remove the color. It wasn't too  noticeable and I wanted to see how much longer I could wear it.  It lasted another week before I had to remove it because it was pretty chipped.  I should note that I'm hard on my nails.  After using their nail polish twice, I used an OPI nail polish, and it was chipped and I was ready to remove it before a week was up.  I used the Zoya base and top coat with the OPI color also.  In my book, Zoya was the much better product and lasted much longer.

For me, I'll be buying Zoya from now on instead of other brands available.   I do realize I'll have to order it online since it's not available in local stores, but I'm ok with that.

Now, I did mention there's another deal going on right now.  I read about the deal on The Crunch Wife and wanted to spread the word (after I ordered some more polish for myself).    You are able to get 3 FREE bottles of the nail polish (they retail for $7/each) by using the code FB2011 during checkout.  The only thing you will pay is shipping, which for me was $6.95.    While you are placing an order, if you need more fingernail polish remover I do recommend theirs, it worked great.    Oh, and I believe the coupon is only good  until January 7th.


No grocery store visits for 1 year, could you do it?

One woman in Texas did, do you think you could?  Carla Crownover watched Food, Inc. (a documentary that I highly recommend) and was so disgusted by what she learned, she decided to go 1 full year of buying locally and not shopping at a grocery store.  She did it too.   You can read her full story at Take Part.   She also has her own blog, Austin Urban Gardens

I have to admit, I look at this challenge and go "There's no way I could do that."  But then, when I really think about it, could I do it?  We have a really good farmer's market that is downtown, somewhat close to where I work but not at all close to where I live. I could get all my veggies and fruits there. I think I could even get butter.  I know there's a butcher there as well, which I would assume is all local meat but would have to check it out to know for sure.

The most recent Change the World Wednesday revolved around eating locally.  I updated it not too long ago talking about how I've switched to buying the milk I drink from a company that is somewhat local, Oberweis Dairy. They are as local as I think I would get.   I also mentioned a grocery store called Local Harvest that sells items grown/produced locally.  While that would still be a grocery store, the items would be local so I think that would have to count right?  I suppose I could get meat only at Whole Foods, where you can look on their website and see where your meat is coming from (I know the beef they sell in the store I shop at does come from Missouri).  

It looks like I have the means to buy most stuff locally, without stepping foot in a traditional grocery store.  One thing I know would be a problem would be all the nuts that I eat. I eat trail mix at least 5 days of the week. Where in the world would I get nuts? If I'm not buying it from a local store I would be ordering it online, which defeats the purpose in my opinion.

Hmm..It seems like I need to seriously look into this. It seems like I would need to change some of my shopping habits, going out on my lunch break to shop at the farmer's market for fresh fruit and produce would be one. 

What about you?  Give this some thought, then let me know, do you think you could do this?  If you don't think you could get away from the grocery store 100%, do you think there's a way you could make some changes to not visit as often?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hoo are you? #27

I'm a day late, but decided to play anyway.

1. Did you make any New Year's Revolutions?
I don't make New Year's Revolutions. I feel that most don't last, so it's best to make changes and start on things when you are thinking of them and when you feel it's best.  That doesn't mean I don't have goals for 2011 though.  

2. What are some goals you have for 2011?
I posted a bit about my goals already.  One, I've signed up for a half-marathon for this year.  I'm also planning to train for a short-triathlon.  Both of these I couldn't really start training for until 2011. (I can't start swimming till we open the pool and I had to take weeks off from running in Dec. due to being sick).  I also plan to start learning HTML (again).

3. What is something that you got for Christmas?
My absolute favorite give was the Garmin Forerunner 305.  I love it so far! I love seeing my mile splits, I love tracking my heart rate. I love everything about it, so far.

4. Did you see any good movies over the holiday season? 
I didn't watch many movies or tv, for that matter.

5. Do you do your own taxes or have someone do them for you?
We buy software and then the Husband does them. Lucky me, I don't even touch them, other than to sign my name where I'm told. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Things to come in 2011

I have lots of things planned for 2011, some bookish/blog related and others more personal.  I'm not one for doing new years resolutions so I won't call it that.  More, it's just some things I am going to be working on this year and for various reasons it felt best to wait until 2011 to start.

Book/Blog related
As a lot of you know, I tend to play around with my blog look a lot. I seem to pick something that I really like, then find I'm not satisfied with it after a couple of months.  I think part of that is that I just love change, so as much as I like it, I feel the need to change things after a bit.  This year I'll be participating in Bloggiesta.  I plan to revamp my blogs that weekend.  Well, honestly, I'll probably start the week leading up to it.  I've found there are several things I want to add to my blog posts yet I'm having trouble doing that since I used a template that somebody else designed and not a normal blogger template. So back to a normal blogger template I'll go.

I'm also going to be putting a disclaimer on the side bar of my blog stating that all books reviewed are either ones I own or I have borrowed (from friends/family or the library) unless I state otherwise.  If I review a book that I did receive in hopes I would review it, I'll state that in the review itself. (Note: this only pertains to my book blog).

I'm also going to play around with the format of my reviews until I find something that I think works best for me. I like the layout of my reviews, for the most part, but might make some changes.  We'll see though, I have to come up with some ides to make it better first. (Note: this only pertains to my book blog).

Runs & Working out
2010 was the year that I embraced a healthier lifestyle and started to eat healthier. I'm still working on that too, it's a long slow process for me.  Along with eating healthier I noticed my runs improving and I loved that.   Last year I signed up for a couple of hard (for me) races for early 2011.  I've officially begun training for those.  That also means that I will probably mention my workouts and running on this blog.  I can't help it!  Running is such an important part of my life that it's hard not to talk about it sometimes.  First up, I have a 15k (9.3) trail run on February 26th.  Lucky for me it's at the park right by my house that I tend to run at on the weekends.  Unfortunately, that also means I know how hard the race is going to be because of the hills. I can run those hills now, but low mileage. I don't think there is any way I could go out today and run 15k on those hills tomorrow. So, I've begun training for that.   Shortly after I complete that race, I'll have the Go! St. Louis half marathon the 2nd weekend in April.  This is the first time I've ever attempted a half marathon.  I trained for a 10 mile race this past November, but that's the most I've ever trained for (in terms of mileage).  I'm nervous, but excited.   I have some health issues I'm working with dr's on now and I worry that will hinder my training (possibilities of some out-patient surgeries), but signed up for the 1/2 marathon anyway in hopes that it would be exactly what I need to not get depressed and to keep me active.  

Last year I also got it in my head that I would like to do a short triathlon.  This comes from the girl who has an in-ground swimming pool..but didn't even swim 1 lap in it last year.  I also don't own a bike.  I talked to Husband about it and he doesn't think I can do it, since he knows how I don't swim.  He said that if I can do the mileage needed for a short triathlon (1/4 mile) in the pool, then I can get a bike.  We figured out it would be 53 laps (each direction counts as 1).  Yikes!  In the past when I've attempted to do laps in the pool I get in about 15 minutes of swimming and stop because I'm out of breath and tired.  This will surely be a challenge for me.  I've already started working on it though, I'm back to doing the p90x upper body workouts more frequently in hopes of building up some upper body strength so when we open the pool, I can maybe last more than 15 minutes.

All this training, both races and the swimming, will take me through the summer. I have no idea what races I'll decide to do towards the end of this year, but I do know I'll do some. I've found that racing helps me keep my joy of running alive and keeps me from getting in a rut.  I also love being part of something with other runners, it makes me feel like I'm not alone. 

Personal - other
2010 brought me the realization that I wasn't too crazy about a career in IT support anymore. I realized that while I still like to work on pc's, I'm getting annoyed dealing with the people.  It's not that I'm not a people person, it's that IT support is treated so badly!  Sure, a lot of people appreciate us and what we do for them, but there are so many that get mad when we need to work on their pc's to fix an issue, they constantly talk down about pc's and how stupid they are, they won't return calls and then when you finally get them on the phone they complain that the issue hasn't been fixed yet, etc.  That's the part that I can't really handle any more.  I realized that I was starting to get annoyed with people when they didn't know something that I deem "simple" regarding pc's.  That's a huge indicator to me that I've had enough.  Because I know that things seem easier to me because I understand it better and in the past it hasn't bothered me that I would need to explain something. I don't mind people asking me questions, not on a personal level from friends and family, but find myself annoyed at work. Once I realized that, it was all I needed to start trying to think of a different career path.  So that being said, I'm going to focus on learning programing languages this year. I've learned HTML in the past and loved it.  Then I got away from it when I focused on learning the support side of pc's..   I attempted to learn java at one point and that didn't go well.   So this year I'm starting off with HTML again.   From there...I might attempt Java. That's a big MIGHT though. We'll see how well I do with HTML first.  This coincides with me planning to re-do my blogs too, so you might see changes periodically as I test something out.  

So there you have it!  Some things to come in 2011 for this blog and my life.  I have my hopes up that it will be an awesome year.

(For those of you who read both my blogs, I'm posting this on both)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's time to buy yourself some presents

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and 2011 is off to a great start.   As for me, I've been buying myself some presents now that Christmas is over with, how about you?  I know, now is the time that a lot of people are worried about the credit card bills from all those Christmas presents bought and they stay inside and don't go shopping.  However, now is one of the perfect times to go out and buy yourself some stuff.  The deals are wonderful.  I'm one of those individuals that rarely pays full price for clothes and shoes (running clothes/shoes are the exception).  There are a couple times a year when stores heavily discount clothes and that's when I go shopping.  Right after Christmas happens to be one of those times.  So if you received some money or some gift cards, you might want to brave the crowds.

Here's what I've been up to the last couple of days.

Friday I went to a local mall to see Harry Potter at the theater with a friend. While there I decided to check out some of the stores. That's always a bad idea. lol!  I ended up getting a pair of pants at The Limited for $20. That's the price I normally pay for their pants, if you hit the sales it can happen. The pants normally retail for $60.   All of my work pants are either from Express, The Limited, or Ann Taylor.  They last for years, and I only buy them on sale when I can get them for $20 or less.  In fact, most of my jeans are from those three stores and Banana Republic, and again, I only pay $20 or less.

I'm also ecstatic that I found a pair of boots that actually fit me!  I have skinny legs and knee-high boots are always way too big and don't look right. I saw the boots I bought from the window and knew I had to try them on.  The are flat, come almost to my knee, and are black leather.  I love them!  I should probably get a picture of me wearing them and show them off.  The bast part?  The boots retail for $89.95 and I bought them for $29.95 before tax.  Can't beat that!   I have a rule when it comes to shoes, other than running shoes that is.  I refuse to pay more than $60 for a pair of shoes.  If I like them and they cost more, I look for sales and coupons until the price drops enough for me to get them.  Sometimes I end up missing out on the shoes, other times I pay way less than $60.  (I looked for a picture of the boots I bought online but couldn't find them!  Bastards.)

Of course, after finally finding a pair of boots I had to buy some leggings and a sweater dress (clearance at Kohl's and had $10 Kohl's cash that my MIL gave me).

As for today, today I got some good deals.  Sports Authority had some of the Nike Pro Cold Gear clothes on sale for $29.95 instead of $50.  This is one of the best prices I've seen for those clothes.  Luckily, I had been given a $50 GC for Sports Authority so I could get a pair of running tights. Armed with my GF and coupons, I went to the store and was able to buy a pair of running tights and a long sleeved cold gear running shirt for $50.  Seriously, it was $50 after tax thanks to the sale and the coupons.  While I don't like that the tights are a purple color (the only small they had!!!) I'm sure I'll get over it when I'm running. I'm not going out to make a fashion statement anyway.  haha!

So what am I trying to say? No, I'm not trying to brag about the awesome deals I got. I'm just showing you that there are great deals out there.  If you have some extra cash, it's worth seeing what's out there.  Make sure to look for coupons before you head out!

**** Last year I didn't include the savings for these types of purchases in my advertised savings total that I wrote about in my coupon post.  Mostly the advertised savings I totaled last year was just from grocery stores and stores like Target.   Knowing that I rarely pay full price for clothes and shoes, I'm going to keep track of what I save & spend this year on those items.  I'm interested to see what the totals end up being.  Although,  I'll have to hide the total spent from Husband though. lol!****