Monthly Archives: July 2008

Weekly Links: Visiting Father-in-Law Edition

Matt McGee via flickrMy father-in-law is up visiting for a couple days. He comes and visits us once a year. Each time he comes up he brings us super-yummy potato chips that we can’t get up here (thanks, Dad!), we go out to dinner and then two or three of us go see a baseball game. Husband and his dad are big baseball fans. I’m not as big of a baseball fan, so I opted to stay home this time around. I played some fetch with the dog, entered some blog giveaways (see the end of this post for more information on that), am doing some blog writing, and then will be heading off to bed before it gets too late because I have to work in the morning. Tomorrow starts the last few days of my “busy few weeks” before I fly to my sister’s (I fly out Saturday). I can’t wait until Saturday! Until next time, enjoy the links and good luck if you enter any giveaways.

I forgot to include this link is last week’s edition of weekly links, so I’ll start with it this week: English Major Money posted a fabulous idea for a do-it-yourself spice rack.  I love it! I just may have to try this once we get moved in to our new place.

This is not a new article on the DINK’s page, but it’s a good one.  It’s a quick rundown of some basic rules to try and follow while having money discussions as a couple.  Money and spending habits can certainly be touchy subjects.  If not handled carefully, one or both people can end very hurt and unhappy (been there, done that!).

If you’re looking for some free, customizable documents to help with your budgeting, No Credit Needed may have just what you’re looking for: The No Credit Needed Notebook.  Follow the link at the bottom of the post (NCN’s, not mine) for the second document.  The files are available in multiple formats, including Word, Excel, and Open Office Writer and Calc.

These days, it’s so easy to get mentally lazy.  We have calculators for darn near everything and most everything we can’t calculate can be automated.  My Super Charged Life has twenty ideas for keeping your brain sharp.  One I need to do more often is make music.  Husband gave me a keyboard for Christmas a few years back (not much room for pianos in one-bedroom apartments, otherwise we’d have one) and I don’t play it nearly as often as I would like to.  A fun one on the list is to walk around your house blindfolded!  Walk carefully…

Spilling Buckets (don’t you love that name?) wrote about Information Overload and how they’ve overcome it.  I do a lot of reading online and find so many great recipes to cook or ideas to try, but they end up just getting “lost” because I find so many neat things.  Unlike Spilling Buckets, I have yet to come up a way to overcome this.  I think I need to go re-read the post…

This isn’t a blog post, but it’s a good read nonetheless.  BBC News had an interesting article about life on a little island in the Pacific.  Sounds like the inhabitants live in a fabulous community.  What I found especially interesting was how they adopt each other’s children.  Go read the article; it’s quite good.

MoneyNing is running a gas card giveaway.  There are multiple ways to enter and you have until August 18th to do so.  Even with gas prices falling (at least around here – they’ve over twenty cents in the last two weeks), we can still make good use of a free gas card.  Click on over and get yourself entered!

Speaking of free stuff, The Quarterly Bloggy Giveaways Carnival (whew, that’s a mouthful) is going on right now over at Bloggy Giveaways.  When I last checked, there were over 600 links to blogs giving away free stuff.  I’ve seen giveaways for books, jewelry, gift cards, a baby sling, backpacks, a vacuum, and many other things I don’t remember.

Image Credit: Matt McGee


The Tough Part of Budgeting – Sticking With It

Making a budget is the (relatively) easy part. Sticking with it, well, that can be a lot tougher. Here’s the latest example from our house and what we ended up doing: Husband wanted to go out to dinner (I didn’t think it sounded like a bad idea, either), but we’ve already spent our entertainment budget for the month.  We’re going to end up under-spending in our gas category this month (how did that happen?!), so it’s not like we don’t have money for it somewhere.  So we had to decide – do we stick with our budget, or do we say ‘Oh, well, we’ll find the money somewhere.  Let’s just go out to dinner’?  We’re both in favor of sticking to our budget, but sometimes life affects our dedication to being disciplined.

The typical scenario is that Husband wants to go out to dinner and then I look at the budget and tell him I don’t think we should go.  I hate being the one to say ‘no’ all the time, though.  And it’s really hard for me to turn down a chance to get out of the house with Hubby.  We get so little time together as-is and if we stay home, we tend to spend time on the computer instead of together (which we need to work on).  Going out to dinner means we A) get out of the house and B) get some good one-on-one time.

We have a tight month coming up in August, though, and starting in September, our budget is going to be tighter because we’ll be moving to a place with higher rent.  That means we need to do better at sticking to our budgeted amounts for each thing instead of saying, ‘Oh, well, the money will be there’.  This is where it gets tough to stay on-track with a budget.

So what did we decide to do?  Stay home.  We ate leftover spaghetti and garlic bread (yum!) and watched an episode of “House”.  We’re going to go out for ice cream, but it will get paid for out of my spending money (I still have some left and offered to use a bit for ice cream tonight).

Do you find it hard to stick to your budget?  How do you keep yourself on track?

Weekly Links: Busy Few Weeks Edition

My next two weeks are going to be pretty busy.  In addition to working five days a week (I usually work three) and going to school one day, I also need to complete three weeks worth of schoolwork and four finals.  All of that is in preparation for heading to my sister’s for a few weeks in August so I can be there for the arrival of my niece or nephew.  I’m very anxious to get out there and am looking forward to being done with school for another semester.

I haven’t done much blog reading this week, but here are a few posts (& a link) I did read and find interesting this week:

Mrs. Mich has posted a follow-up to the Single Step Personal Finance Challenge she challenged her blog readers with last week.  She successfully completed her single step and many other bloggers have done so as well.  Everyone who participated is listed in her update.  Great job, everyone!

Christian PF wrote about seven things he’s learned about money since he’s been married.  He gives some excellent advice.  Numbers two and three are ones I’ve learned through lots of trial and error.

If you’re looking for a neat re-usable bag, check out Flip & Tumble.  They’re a bit expensive for my tastes, but they are neat!  They’re made to be easy to keep with you and they sure look like they would be.  (I am not affiliated with Flip & Tumble in any way, shape, or form.  I just thought they looked like cool bags.)

Trent over at The Simple Dollar has updated his readers on how he’s enjoying his change from a regular 9-5 job to working at home writing full-time. Sounds like he made a good move. While I don’t wish to continue working full-time once Husband and I have little ones running around, I certainly wouldn’t mind being in a position where I could bring in a little extra income by writing or doing something similar from home.

If you’re looking for some quick information on consolidating your student loans, Blueprint for Financial Prosperity has written a brief overview. Husband and I consolidated our student loans a few years back (separately, though). I was not aware that new student loans (those taken out after July 1, 2006) were already at a locked interest rate. Good information for those of us currently or previously in school.

Gather Little by Little wrote about low-cost, easy-to-prepare meals.  We love making pancakes for dinner.  Yum!

With that, I’m off to make dinner (chicken fajitas are on the menu tonight, but that homemade mac & cheese recipe GLBL posted a link to sure sounds yummy).  Have a great week!

Welcome CFHusband Readers

If you found my link from Nate’s blog over at CFHusband, welcome! I haven’t been here too long, so there isn’t a whole lot to read, but if you like what you do see, keep checking back. If you’d leave me a comment with a link, I’d love to look at your website.

If you didn’t come here from Nate’s blog, you really ought to check it out. His wife has cystic fibrosis and had a lung transplant a few months back, not too long after giving birth to their (very premature) daughter. Both his wife and daughter are doing amazingly well now. It’s an awesome story demonstrating how God can take really tough stuff and use it to benefit many, many people. Because of Nate, Tricia, and Gwyneth, countless people have learned (more) about organ donation, cystic fibrosis, and premature birth. Check it out! (Nate is also a talented photographer and shares many of his photos on his blog.)

Mrs. Micah’s Single Step Personal Finance Challenge: Grocery Budget

Mrs. Micah has given her readers a challenge: “Find one step you can take to make your financial system better or more organized.” We all have areas of our budget that need improvement, and we’re no exception. Our grocery budget category often causes us problems and needs some “fixing”. This month, I’ll work on making our grocery budget “work” more efficiently for us – first by identifying what the problem is and then by coming up with solutions to try out.

First, the problem(s): We overspend our grocery budget pretty much every month (Husband says that means we have it budgeted wrong and he’s probably right. However, I am ever-hopeful that we can spend less on food than we do, but it’s really not practical at this point). This is due to a couple of things: 1) We (I) usually spend a lot on groceries at the very beginning of the month. We’re running low on basics at that point and I often find good sales on things we use. 2) Much of what I buy takes some bit of forethought, planning, and preparation and with our schedules, we can’t always use the food I’ve bought in the time we have to prepare it so we end up eating out.

Now, the (possible) solutions: 1) Instead of viewing our grocery budget as $400 per month, I could break it down and limit us to either $200 every two weeks or $100 per week. Doing that should help fix the problem of spending a big chunk of the budget at the beginning of the month. 2) Husband and I could sit down and come up with meal ideas that we find to be a good balance between healthy/fresh and convenient. From there, I will have a better idea of what to buy when I get groceries. Husband often tells me to buy easy to prepare food, but that’s so vague to me that I end up getting my usual stuff and then we’re stuck again. 3) We could also plan a “cooking day” where we cook up a bunch of meals for the week/month and then freeze or otherwise store them as appropriate. While I like this idea, it just isn’t convenient for us right now.

We’ll probably have to wait until August, or even September to see how these ideas really work, because the next two weeks are super busy for me and then I’ll be out of town for two weeks. We can still try and work the ideas in a bit, but we won’t be able to really test them out until mid-August or even September. Feel free to check in with me and ask how it’s going, though!

Weekly (sort of) links: Bachelorette Party/Wedding Shower Edition

This weekend I attended a bachelorette party at a cabin way back in the woods (I saw a really neat moth and took some pictures, which I’ll post later) and then went to a wedding shower for my cousin’s fiance’.  The shower was especially fun, as I got to see and visit with a cousin and a few “aunties” that I generally don’t see very often.  I always love it when I get a chance to go spend time with any of my family and I never get to do it enough.  Take time to enjoy your family when the opportunity presents itself.  With that, here are some interesting links I’ve found since the last time I did a “weekly” links post:

First, some finance-related humor via Broke Grad Student in a George Carlin Tribute.

I discovered a new blog this week.  Looks interesting and he seems to have some ideas for keeping on top of finances if you have ADD/ADHD.  Some of his tips are great for everyone – not just those with ADD/ADHD.

If you have “extra” or duplicate files on your computer, but don’t want to take the time to sort through everything, check out this post over at WiseBread.  If that program doesn’t work for you, check the comments as there’s another one listed.  I should try this program – I know I have a ton of duplicate files (in part, due to switching computer a number of times and the files getting copied to the new computer more than once).

To celebrate its launch, Almost Frugal is having a gift card giveaway.  Check out the post and you can enter to win one of three gift cards!  Who doesn’t love free “money”?

Over at Prime Time Money, there’s a guest post listing reasons you’d be happier if you were debt free.  I should come up with my own list – perhaps it will keep me and Husband inspired to stick to our budget.

If you think being frugal takes up too much time, check out these tips from The Simple Dollar.  Trent lists ideas that not only save you money, but may even save you time (of course, they’ll take time to initially complete, but after that initial time investment, the job is done and continues to save you money with no added work).  Making frugality “work” for you is so much easier if it doesn’t eat up hours of your time.

We’re getting in to our hot weather season here.  If you’re looking for some tips to stay cool, Mrs. Micah has compiled a great list of ideas.  Be sure to check the comments for even more tips.

Hematology Lab: Proficiency #2

I’ve started, erased and re-started this post four times.  Perhaps tonight the fifth time is the charm 🙂  Fridays are school days.  I have all my classes on the same day so I only need to drive to school once a week.  Pharmacology is in the morning (and is generally pretty uneventful) and in the afternoons I have hematology (which is much more interactive and fun than pharm lab).  In the first part of hematology lab today, we practiced performing a complete CBC (complete blood count).  We’ve been doing these for weeks, so by now, we’re all pretty good at them.  (We did have last week off, so we were a bit rusty, but certainly not out of practice.)  Everyone has their “thing” they have trouble with, but overall we all do pretty well.

In the second part of lab, we had a proficiency (test), where we did the same thing we did in the first part of lab.  The first part of lab went fine.   I ended up not getting the entire CBC done due to microscope problems, but had my microscope been decent, I would have had no problem complete the CBC in under an hour.  On my second CBC, things didn’t go nearly so smooth.  I couldn’t get good blood smears (the quality of my smears has been declining steadily since the start of the semester), my WBC (white blood cell) estimate was off, my platelet estimate was low, my actual WBC numbers didn’t correlate, and I couldn’t find ANY red blood cells on my reticulocyte slide.  It was so frustrating!  I’ve been doing this for weeks.  I know I can do it.  I know I can do it well.  If you asked me the steps to a CBC, I would be able to tell you each step and how to do it.  I remember the formulas for determine actual and estimated counts (at least I didn’t forget them during my test).  It was just one of those days…  My instructor was great, though.  She even helped me out a bit when I couldn’t find any RBCs (red blood cells) on my reticulocyte count slide (I had the objective focused on the wrong spot on the slide – how silly of me).  She got the microcope focused on the right spot and then let me do my count.  I finished with 10 second to spare.  Whew!

I know I didn’t get a perfect score on it.  My WBC estimate was low, my platelet estimate was low, and my actual WBC count numbers didn’t correlate (to do an actual white blood cell count, you have to count two sets of WBCs; those two sets of WBCs have to be within a certain number of each other to be considered accurate – mine were not accurate), and my WBC estimate and actuals didn’t correlate (they have to be within a certain percentage of each other).  I did, however, get the extra credit question right!  And really, I didn’t do too badly.  My score may not be great, but during my proficiency I re-did my WBC estimate, platelet estimate, and actual WBC count once, so I did them all two times.  Even with repeating those three things, I still got done in an hour.  That’s pretty good.  Think how quickly I would have been done if I hadn’t needed to repeat those three procedures.  My instructor agreed that my time management was really quite good.

In other school news, I didn’t do so great on a pharmacology lecture quiz I took today.  Even though I did all my readings (some more than once), I still did poorly on the quiz (70 or 80% – two questions haven’t been graded yet, but I know I got at least one of them wrong).  I still have a hematology test and hematology quiz to take before Sunday and have a huge lab project due next Friday.  It looks like the laptop and I will be spending some quality time in Caribou’s comfy chairs on Monday!

If you’d like to know more about any particular aspect of the CBC, feel free to leave a comment asking me about it.

On a totally unrelated note, the temperature here dropped 18 degrees (Fahrenheit) in one hour!  Today it was hot and humid with temps in 90s and dew points in the 70s.  We had a line of storms come through this evening, which brought us much cooler (but still humid) air.  Ahhhh….  I have the fan near the window now and it’s blowing some of that nice, cool air into our apartment.  It’s so neat to see how drastically the temperature can drop in a short period of time when storm systems come through, isn’t it?

Have a splendid weekend!

Happy Independence Day

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Independence Day!  Enjoy the fireworks for me, as I will not be staying up to watch them.  I was at work all day today and am exhausted.  We have nearly 70 dogs – that’s a lots of dogs to take care of!  I’ll be back early tomorrow morning to do it all over again!

Here’s a link to NPR’s reading of The Declaration of Independence.  I read through, but haven’t had time to listen to it.  Husband said it’s pretty good.  I plan to listen at a later time, perhaps tomorrow after work.

Have a great weekend!

Guess the Medication

In pharmacology lecture this week, we have to look up a drug and post “clues” about it for our classmates.  Our classmates then have to do some research and try and guess which drug the clues refer to.  Here are my clues:

1) This drug should not be used in cats (unless directed to do so by a vet) because it can be converted to aspirin in the body. Since it can convert to aspirin, it should also be used very cautiously in animals with bleeding disorders.

2) It has protectant properties, as well as anti-endotoxic properties. It is used to treat diarrhea.

3) This drug should not be given at the same time as tetracycline products.

Any guesses?

Here are a few more clues:

1) It is used in people.

2) It is sold as an OTC (over the counter) medicine.

3) It has a very distinct color – you would recognize it by color alone.

What do you think?  I’ll post the answer by Monday evening.

Answer: Bismuth subsalicylate also known as Pepto-Bismol.