Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Savings and Spending

I thought I was going to go way over my spending in April since there was so much of it at the beginning of the month so I'm really happy with how things ended.  In fact, I actually bought some junk food the last couple of weeks and if I hadn't done that I wouldn't have gone over.  That just tells me that I need to get back on track with the healthier eating and resist buying the expensive junk food at the stores.

My goal is to spend $300 or less on groceries and health/beauty items.
I spent $305.72.  This brings my average spending so far this year to $304.81/month.

I ended up saving $34.94 in coupons towards budget items and $40 in coupons towards non-budget items.  This continues with the trend of me not being able to use as many coupons as I have been in previous years, but it's still a good amount.

Friday, April 22, 2011

GO! St. Louis Half Marathon

On April 10th, 2011 I participated in my first ever half marathon.  For those who aren't aware, a half marathon is 13.1 miles and a full marathon would then be 26.2 miles.

Start of the race..I'm in a pink tank top with black shorts
Yes, I'm a long time runner but I've never ran this kind of distance before.  I was happy with my 3 mile runs.  Then last year I decided that wasn't enough and moved up to 4 miles for my weekday runs and 5-6 for the weekend runs.   Then I decided I might want to do a half marathon.

So the 10th was the day.   I was confident going into the race. I had run 12 miles two weekends before that and it felt great..I was tired and my legs were weak ( I did some major hills)  but I knew I could have run 13.  I set a goal of 2 hours but told myself that the real goal was finishing the race, the time would just be a bonus. Then the day of the race is here.  And we have unseasonably high temps. When the race started at 7am it was already 73 degrees out.  By 9am it was so hot they closed the marathon course where the half and the marathon runners split.  Any marathon runners who came to that point after 9am were forced to continue on the half course and call it a day.   Let me tell you, I felt the heat. I don't run well in the heat and humidity that we get in St. Louis and it showed.  I showed up confident and determined to have a great race, and my race sucked.  My first 6 miles were great and then it went downhill.

Right after mile 6
I felt really good the first couple of miles. I had been having issues with my heal again (the one with the stress fracture) and had been worried about it.  It hurt right from the start but on mile two I felt a sharp pain and then nothing.  I must have eased out whatever was causing it to hurt because it felt awesome after that.  Then on mile 4 I started to feel the heat. I was getting hot.  I told myself to slow down. Mile 5 I'm beginning to have doubts that I could finish the race.  Mile 6 I wanted to walk but knew my Mom, she drove me, was planning to be on the course somewhere in mile 7 so I couldn't walk, I didn't want her to see me.  Miles 7 through 8 were all uphill.  I was feeling horrible.  Mentally I wasn't doing very good.  I was also over-hydrating because of the heat and in desperate need of a bathroom.  I finally started walking after mile 8. I just couldn't do it! I felt miserable, I was hot and my legs were tired.

I started playing games with myself...if I walk to the next light..I have to run to the light after that.  If I walk for .3 miles then I have to run for .3 miles.  The more I had to stop and walk, the worse I got mentally.  I would work back into a run but would find myself tripping on the pavement, a sure sign that my legs were fatigued, so I would walk again.

it's kinda hard to see me..I'm waving at my Mom at the finish
Finally, I hit the 12 mile marker and I was determined to run the last 1.1 miles to the finish.  I did it too.  I felt bad but I pushed through it and I did it.

I can't tell you how many times I wanted to quite. I can't tell you how many times I called myself a failure for having to walk part of the course. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to sit down and cry.  I had worked for this. I had trained for this.  Why couldn't I do it?   Yes, I was having a one woman pity party.

After the race was over I kept it together long enough to get home and then broke down crying in the bathroom as I was getting ready for a shower.  I felt so bad, mentally and physically, that I crawled into bed after the shower were I dozed and just laid there for a couple of hours. I only got out of bed when I did because Husband came in and laid with me and after a couple minutes suggested we go get ice cream.  Does he know me or what?  He offered to take me to my favorite place for some cherry almond ice cream. It's made fresh in the store and it's the only place I know of to get that flavor and it's my absolute favorite.  I then came home and made a cake to take to my Mom's since she was having the family over for dinner.  I had planned to make a celebration cake but, as I told Husband, it turned into a "I walked but I didn't quite" cake.

Crossing the finish line..finally
I was still feeling pretty bad Monday but by Monday night I was doing much better. By Wednesday I was finishing with the pity party.  I belong to a website called DailyMile (you're welcome to be my friend if you belong too!) and I posted my sob story.   The support I received was amazing. I can't even begin to tell you how good it made me feel.

My friends on DM made me realize that while I had to walk, I didn't quite. I did finish the race.  I completed my first ever half marathon! I couldn't do anything about the temperatures and I was smart by listening to my body and walking when I realized I was suffering.  I could, and should, be proud of myself for what I completed.  And you know..they were all right.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I should embrace the race.  Realize that I completed it and set my sights on the next one.  I know have a PR (personal record).  I can tell people that I completed a half marathon and I can be proud of that.

Finish..medal around my neck.time to go home
What also helped me realize that I did the right thing was reading news articles and watching news clips on the race, as well as talking to others.  I talked to a couple co-workers who also ran it and they both had to walk. They both mentioned seeing people drop out of the race.  Husband talked to a co-worker of his that runs and that guy said he knew two people running the marathon.  Both he would consider very strong runners, both dropped out. One dropped out at mile 6.   Watching the news report I learned that over 100 people were treated for dehydration, 20 taken to hospitals.  I was not one of them.  I did not drop out of the race. I did not quite.  I walked when I felt my body needed it and I completed it. I'm proud of what I did. It take me some time to be comfortable with this but now I embrace it.

You know, we all have good days and bad.  The 10th was a very bad racing day for me.  However it's not the end. I'll continue to run and I'll continue to work towards the tougher runs.   We have another half in October and while I haven't signed up for it yet, I plan to.  I have a PR, I need to beat it.

For those of you who might be interested in, here are my stats for the race:
Finish time: 2:13:18 
Overall place: 4,217/11,535 
Female place: 1,863/7,086 
splits according to my Garmin: 8:45, 8:27, 9:01, 8:25, 9:01, 9:29, 9:47, 10:10, 11:46, 11:35, 12:19, 11:59, 10:00

Here's a video from a local news channel that covers a part of the race.  The funniest thing is that they interview the men's winner of the half and he said the heat didn't bother him but the wind did.  I can tell you that every time I felt a breeze, I could usually hear several people go "ah..that feels good". haha

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dye your Easter Eggs..naturally!

Photo linked from Adventures on Cooking
I might be late in posting this, seeing as how Easter is this Sunday and most of you probably already dyed your Easter Eggs. However, for those who put the "pro" in procrastination like I do, this is just in time. snicker.

I don't have kids yet so I haven't dyed Easter eggs in years.   However, I imagine one day I'll need to dye eggs again and I'll be keeping this info handy.

Photo linked from Boulder Locavore
Instead of using chemicals to dye your eggs, because you know that's going to end up on the eggs and you'll be eating it right?  How about using natural ingredients to dye them?  Sounds awesome!  The only thing that worries me a bit is..what if it seeps through cracks and does get on the egg, will it change the flavor?  Guess I won't know till I try it.

Since I haven't tried this, I'm not posting photo's or directions but rather I want to link to two different blog posts.  One shoes you how to naturally dye the eggs and gives you directions on how to do it.  The other shows you how to stencil eggs using me, you just have to see it.

Boulder Locavore is your stop for naturally dyed eggs.
Adventures in Cooking is your stop for stenciled eggs.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Get Fit Monday - April 10th - 16th

Last week was, for the most part, a recovery week for me.    On Sunday the 10th I competed in my first ever half marathon.  I'm working on a longer post about that one (keep forgetting to add pictures to it).    I had decided to take the rest of the week off, for the most part.   

I did go to yoga on Monday and at my request (heck..the instructor asked for suggestions) we did a lot of leg work and it felt awesome.   

Tuesday and Wednesday I took off.  

Thursday I started playing indoor soccer again. I had been playing it for, oh, 6 months until my team couldn't find enough girls and had to stop in January. I found another team though and I'm back to playing for at least 6 more weeks.  Depending on how friendly the people are and how comfortable I am playing with them will determine if I play the next session.  Or if the husband agrees to let me join a gym I might have to take some time off from soccer since soccer and the gym would both be costing some $$$$$$. 

Friday I attended a spin class and Saturday I took another rest day.  Ok, so I had planned to run Saturday but it was freaking cold and I couldn't get up enough nerve to go running outside in that darn cold weather!

So there you have it!   Didn't do to much, but it was just what I needed to get my head back on track and my body ready to get back in the swing of things.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Organization - workout clothes

Living in an area that has 4 changes of season and no gym membership means that I run outside all year round in the 4 seasons.  This means that I have a lot of running/workout clothes because I have to be warm or cool enough depending on what season it is.

I also thrive on organization (but please don't come over and look in some of the closets this weekend, I haven't been able to keep up with organization as much as I would like lately).

So what am I getting to? I re-organized my side of the closet the beginning of winter to accommodate my running clothes and make it more organized.  It was a mess before!  I had all the clothes on two shelves and because I have so many different lengths of pants and shirt sleeves, it was annoying trying to find the right item to wear.

This is what I ended up with, don't you like it?'s how it's organized.  Starting with the top shelf, left side and working down.

Shelf 1: tights (shorts), loose shorts
Shelf 2: tank tops, tank tops (don't fit as well), short sleeves
Shelf 3: long sleeves - thick/warmer, container full of sports bra's, long sleeves - light/not as warm
Shelf 4: tights (capri's), misc tights, tights (long/warm) + a 2nd layer pant
Shelf 5: yoga pants and loose pants, yoga capri's
Shelf 6: (can't really see) I have three containers with socks in them. One is dedicated to running socks. 

I love it! It's so easy for me to find exactly what I'm looking for.   I usually run in the mornings before work so having the items easy to get to is a plus.    Now that it's getting warmer, I'll be switching some items around.  I'll move the long tights and capri's to shelf 1 and the shorts to shelf 4.  I'll swap the shirts too so the tanks and short sleeves are on shelf 3 and the long sleeves are on shelf 2.  

It looks like I have a ton of workout clothes (and Husband would probably agree with you) but the way I see it is that I run 3-4 days a week.  I need enough clothes to get me through a week so I'm not constantly doing laundry.  So that means I need 3-4 of each item for each season.  Most things I only have 3 of right now. Good workout clothes are expensive!  My long running tights cost $50 each full price.  The long, warm shirts are the same price.    The other items are pretty similar in price.  So I tend to only buy when I'm able to get a good deal.  I might like having the official running clothes because they work great, but that doesn't mean I can't be frugal about it.

Oh...and the funny thing about our weather?  A couple of weeks ago I was doing a load of laundry of my workout clothes (I was them all together because I have to use a special detergent) and found it amusing that for one week's worth of clothing I had long tights, capri's, and shorts for my legs.  For my upper body I had  Llng sleeves, short sleeves, and a tank top.  Good ol' Saint Louis weather, gotta love it. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Job = cleaning service, part one

Sometime in December my husband asked if I knew my sister has a cleaning lady. I said that I did, in fact both sisters have a cleaning service.   He said that I needed to get a promotion at work so we could get one too.  I remarked that while a promotion would be nice and while a cleaning service would be nice, my sisters have kids and we don't.  They need it a bit more than we do, we're just tired of cleaning.

Then January came around and my department posted a new position, Technology Coordinator, and I applied.  And I got it.  My first official start date for the new job was February first, although I'm still handling things at my old position until a replacement is hired and trained.

I had a set amount I wanted to make and was all prepared to counter when the official offer came in lower. Imagine my surprise when the initial offer was higher, much higher. I jumped on it, I took it and ran (as my  husband said).      What's the first thing my husband said after I told him what the monetary offer was?  Well, after the "OMG?!  Really? Wow?".  The first thing he said was for me to talk to the sisters and get the number for their cleaning service.

I couldn't believe he was still planning to hire a cleaning service!  My husband is very frugal, more so than me.  Not just frugal, he hates to spend money.  So for him to suggest we pay money for somebody to clean our house, something that we are already handling and have time for, well this is big news.

The other thing is that he was much more willing than I was.  I was torn. I don't enjoy cleaning house yet I know we could easily do it. We don't have kids, there's nothing keeping us from cleaning the house on the weekends.  Yet, I've been feeling lazy and I know the house hasn't been cleaned as well in the past several months as it should be.   I felt guilty.  If cleaning our house was gong to be such a problem, why did we buy such a big house?  Why did we buy a house so big we couldn't keep up with it?  (To be honest, our house is roughly 2,400 sq feet and we can easily clean it..but again we're just feeling lazy, and our last house was roughly 1,700 sq feet, so it's not that much bigger).   Why am I being so lazy?  Why can't I just get the energy to clean my house?  Why waist money paying somebody else to clean it?  So all these thoughts are going through my head.    But we still went ahead and interviewed some people and hired the lady one of my sisters uses.  The price was right, she was nice, we knew somebody who trusted her.

So..part one of going about hiring a cleaning lady...the guilt.  Stay tuned for my thoughts about it after she started.

Do you have a cleaning service?  Did you feel guilty about it too or not?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Change the World Wednesday Daily Challenge - buy local

Here's the daily challenge from Reduce Footprints for today:

Buy food that's being grown or produced locally, using local farms and local farmers' markets where possible.

This is actually something I plan to do once the farmer's markets open in my area.  Sure, we have one that is open year round but in doing some research I found that the ones open all year round don't exactly grow the produce nor is it organic.  So..not something I'm going to go out of my way to buy (because it would be out of my way).  However, come next month several open and I look forward to that.

However, oddly enough I stopped at a local store this past Friday to check out what they had that was local since I needed some items.  It's the first time I've been to the store so I didn't know what to expect.  I wanted eggs, apples, and lettuce.  Those were the things on the list for this weekend's Whole Food shopping trip. Since it wasn't a lot, I finally said..just go to this other store and see if I can get it there.   The store is called Local Harvest Grocery. I believe I've mentioned them before.   They were in the process of moving so I decided to wait for my first visit until after the move.

So  I went on Friday. I didn't realize it was their official Grand opening.  If I had known that I would have waited since it is a very small store and it was very packed, with long lines to check out (only 1 of 2 registers were open).

I was disappointed that they didn't have any lettuce. They had some spinach, but no lettuce.  I guess it's not exactly in season for my area right now though.  I did pick up 3 apples, which cost me $2.37. I don't like when places price apples by the quantity, it just seems so expensive. Plus the apples are usually somewhat large and I like smaller apples. I'm being picky though, right?

I also picked up a dozen eggs, they were $2.99.  This was a cheaper than the cage-free, vegetarian eggs I normally buy.  I like that the company is local as well.

My splurge item was a Dogtown Pizza. It's a local company who makes their pizza's by hand with fresh ingredients and then freeze them. Because they are made in STL and because they really only sell them in STL, they say the pizza's are in the grocery stores within 3 days. I liked all this info so I bought one, even though it cost $9.49 (I can get a large Domino's for less than that).  I checked out their website and I like that not only is Dogtown Pizza a local company, they get their dough from a local bakery and their sausage is from a local company as well.    I got the Tomato, Basil, Garlic variety and on their website it says this about it:
he newest in Dogtown pizzas varieties, is not only vegetarian, but free of preservatives, HFCS and MSGs
Sounds great to me!  So yes, it's expensive but I like supporting a local company, especially one that gets supplies from other local companies.

So will I shop there again?  I'm sure I will.  What I'll try to do is stop there on my way home from work when I know I need eggs and some produce.  Then I know that if they don't have the produce I need, the trip won't be wasted since I'll be getting the eggs.  

Get Fit Monday - week of March 28th

Sorry everyone, I sorta skipped doing my post last week.  Never get my fitness babble this week.

As far as getting in workouts..that went well.  I just didn't feel awesome with every workout.

Monday - I took my first yoga class in something like 7 or 8 years.  It was ok.  Felt like we spent too much time meditating in the beginning and not doing enough poses.  But..first class so we'll see how it goes. I think I need to do yoga so I'll stick with it for awhile and if I need to find another place, I will.

Tuesday - Ran 4.23 miles in 36.3 minutes.  I did a surge for the last .23 and was super tired but think it will help in the long run.

Wednesday - I did a strength training workout, P90X Shoulders and back

Thursday - I did the same loop as Tuesday and this time in 37 min. A tad longer but still good.  I also did the surge at the end again and felt proud of myself for doing it.

Friday - spin class!  That's the thing I missed telling you all about.  The week before I started taking a spinning class.  So far I'm loving it!  It's tough and I can't do all the standing cycling but when I can't stand and cycle I increase my resistance and try to peddle faster.  I definitely see myself continuing with the spinning class for a long time. 

Saturday - threat of thunder storms on Sunday so instead of resting on Saturday I went for my long run.  My planned 6 miles turned into 4.  At first I was upset with this but my ankle and heel were hurting and I was tired.  I felt it best to stop at four and let my body rest. I think doing all the workouts with no rest really effected my run.

Sunday - rest!  Finally!!!

What's up for this week?  Well, my first ever half marathon is on the 10th!  Yikes! I'm nervous, scared, and excited all at the same time. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Coupon Savings and Budget spending

Just a recap...what is included in the budget spending that I'm keeping track of is dog food/treats, all groceries, makeup/nail polish, and health/beauty items (excluding prescriptions).  My goal is to be under $300.

Here are the numbers:
Coupon Savings: $24.31
Advertised Savings: $30.56
Spending: $322.81

Coupon Savings: $34.69
Advertised Savings: $56.52
Reward Points/Rebates: $16.62

Total Coupon savings for the month: $59
Total Advertised savings for the month: $87.08

I went over the budget again in March, but by a tad less than $23.  I'm not too upset about this though because I know why it happened.  I bought $23 worth of electrolyte chews and drink tabs from REI (they are the only place that carries one of the brands I wanted so I stocked up since I don't live near the store).  At first I didn't think about it being a budget item but then realized that if I had been able to buy the items at a grocery store or Target/Walgreens, I would have included it in the budget.  I bought a lot in order to stock up for awhile, so it's not an expense I'll have again for a couple of months.  Now that I consider this a budget item, I'll be better prepared.

Roughly $36 of the spending was not on groceries, the rest was. That worries me a bit because the time will come soon when I need to buy some health/beauty items and that's going to put me over the budget really fast.  I know part of the grocery spending was high because my Husband dragged me to Walmart to get some deli meat and while there he picked up snacks for himself (since I don't normally buy snacks anymore). So it was full price and rather expensive.   The $36 was basically on dog food too..which is a normal expense.   I'm going to stick with the $300 budget for the rest of this year though, but might have to increase it next year.  We'll see.