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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dave Update

I am always a curious one about other people's finances - it's my love of learning, not nosiness I swear - and as such I figure that it's only fair to keep you updated on our finances as we journey onward and upward.

You'll remember back in July we finally got to the point of putting 15% away for retirement each month....(Dave Ramsey's Baby Step #4)...hooray!

Well now that we've been doing that for about 5 months and I've actually been paid once or twice, we were able this past month to open up a college fund for E.

Let me tell you, that is some adult-stuff right there. I'm not sure anything I've done since high school, including naming another human being and signing on for $170,000+ in debt, (pre-Dave) has made me feel quite so grown-up.

But I think we did all right picking out a 529 plan through the State of Georgia that will hopefully provide a leg-up for the kiddo in about 18 years. It was surprisingly easy to understand how the whole scenario works and because we set our fund up through the state program, all of our (and anyone else's) contributions are tax-deductible on state returns.

So here we are sitting pretty at Step #5. Can't wait to graduate to #6! What do you think? Do you love Dave? Hate Dave? Let me know!

(If you're curious about all this steppin' we're up to...check out Dave's plan at his site here.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year; New Projects!

It's that time of year! The Christmas decorations are coming down slowly but surely. As the week marches on towards 01/01/10, I'm feeling the itch to reinvent my daily grind, my house and my habits.

Is that too much to tackle at once? ...Don't answer that question.

In the DAILY GRIND category my aim is to stop doing things I hate and start doing more of the things I love.

Stuff I hate = asking repeatedly to be paid for a job completed months ago.
Stuff I love = teaching people things. Lots of things. Various and sundry things.

Stuff I hate = UPS-duty at work.
Stuff I love = cooking! Using sharp knives. Cutting onions (really.)

Stuff I hate = not having anything to wear despite a closet full of clothes.
Stuff I love = working out. Usually.

Stuff I hate = laundry.
Stuff I love = taking online personality quizzes.

Okay, so with the exception of that last pairing, I am going to make serious efforts in the New Year to increase the amount of time I devote to the LOVE category while working to eradicate and banish forever those things in the HATE category.

That's the daily grind part of things - stay tuned for the house and habits part of this New Year's resolution trifecta.

And tell me tell me...what are YOUR New Year's resolutions?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Elf Yo-self!

Friday Morning Fun!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thanks Anna for reminding me about these JibJab videos!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

That Time I Met Pioneer Woman and Completely Humiliated Myself

Last Monday's To Do List:

Buy PW's cookbook online and get a smokin' deal - check

Brave rush hour traffic to get to Borders by 9am and get a wristband - check

Pick up several jars of cookies from the office, agonize over which to give PW - check

Dress child in adorable outfit, suitable for meeting the P Dub herself - check

Dress myself in casually cool outfit that will photograph well - check

Brave rush hour traffic again to get to Borders by 6pm - check

Wait in line that is mercifully short thanks to said wristbands - check

Introduce myself to PW, chat gracefully and intelligently about my enjoyment of her blog, create the impression that she does in fact want to be my friend... check? Can I get a check please? Hello? Anyone? Is this thing on?????

Um, no check. Don't pass go and certainly do not collect $200.

Instead it went a little something like this:

A sweaty and disheveled me, child in one arm, 3 cookbooks, purse, diaper bag and half-gallon jar of cookies in the other, approaches the table Pioneer Woman is sitting behind.

Suddenly completely unnerved, I shove the large glass jar across the table with one hand as I approach and declare, "I brought you cookies!"

Not, "Hi, my name is Katie, it's so nice to meet you."
Not, "I really enjoy reading your blog...when does Black Heels to Tractor Wheels come out!?"
Not, "I made your Beef Stew with Mushrooms last week and my husband just loved it."

No no - I come out like a 6 year old and proudly exclaim to Ree and the rest of Borders that I brought cookies.

This is not going at all like I planned.

In spite of the abrupt greeting and unsolicited cookies the lovely and composed Pioneer Woman replies, "Oh, thank you...did you make them yourself?" (Asked in the manner you would ask a 6 year old - clearly the conversational category I belonged to.)

Coming quickly to the realization that this is not in fact a cool way to start a conversation with a total stranger, my mind goes blank.

I mumble something along the lines of, "no, no, my company makes them," to which she asks, "oh and do you sell them locally?"

Instead of answering, "Yes, we actually sell them to boutiques all over - there are several stores in Oklahoma that carry them," (or something resembling a concise and coherent answer) I launch into an explanation of the fact that we are now in national retailers as well as boutiques and that we've really started expanding as of late....

Meanwhile my face is getting hotter and my inner sane and composed-self is screaming, "Shut up! Stop talking! Say something normal! Hand her your baby!"

Things are going downhill abnormally quickly.

Fortunately at this point in time my mother waves my camera wildly at us and the Pioneer Woman graciously cuts me off saying, "did you want a picture?"

By way of reply I begin giggling nervously and turn full-on to the camera to give my best Facebook-worthy smile. I didn't even say good-bye, I just stood up and ran away once Mom snapped the picture...completely mortified by my lack of cool.

I did walk away with one of her gorgeous t-shirts - just for showing up! - and an autographed cookbook that I have already dog-eared and told half a dozen people they MUST buy.

So my dreams of a ranch-invite and a personal tutorial on Photoshop are probably shot. Unless she really likes those cookies...

Here are some pics of the event - it was a packed house.

Babies and kiddos were everywhere.

Ours were clearly the cutest... : )

People bought LOTS of copies. It's wonderful...go get one here.

Ooh ooh, there she is!!!

So sweet! She managed to keep that smile on her face the entire time I babbled away.

I think we were both glad when it was picture time.

My adorable mother

And sister

The moral of the story?
Don't bring people you don't know gifts you didn't make. It starts things off on the wrong foot....well, at least for me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Goal Setting

I have two goals today.

In no particular order they are:

1. Leave the house.
2. Take a shower.

It's a tall order but you've got to set your goals high people. Reach for the moon! Don't stop believing! You can doooooo eit!

It's 8am and E isn't up yet. I have no idea what to do with myself and all this free time. I'm guessing you can tell.

Tales of my mortification at PW's book signing still to come...

Monday, December 7, 2009

On Pioneer Woman

PW is coming to town! As in, The Pioneer Woman herself.

For those of you who don't already know who she is... you can go ahead and stop reading right now. Unless of course you are a lover of:

KitchenAid mixers
Harlequin romance novels

Did I mention cowboys?

Anyway, if you love (or even have the littlest bit of like) for any of the above topics, you MUST go check out Ree Drummond's blog over at

I love to read about her ranch life and dream of the day that I too will be renovating my generations-old family lodge and installing a refrigerator dedicated to baking ingredients alone.

Normally I am fairly immune to star-struck awedom. One time my family was eating dinner in a tiny restaurant in Spain when we noticed Sean Connery sitting across the room from us. I said something like, "Cool, Sean's having the chicken too," but I never felt the need to say anything to him, to announce how much I liked his work or how I swoon over his accent.

But with PW it's different. Maybe it's because she is so real with her readers that I feel like I am one of her friends...only the kind of friend she doesn't know from Adam. You remember the scene in Nottinghill when Honey says this:

Oh God, this is one of those key moments in life, when it's possible you can be really, genuinely cool - and I'm failing 100%. I absolutely and totally and utterly adore you and I think you're the most beautiful woman in the world and more importantly I genuinely believe and have believed for some time now that we can be best friends. What do YOU think?

I'm just praying I don't say that out loud. I'm quite sure it's what I'll be thinking.

So the P-dub herself has written a cookbook and is at Borders in Buckhead signing them tonight. My mother, sister and of course the Squirt (she loves babies...maybe she'll take us home to the ranch with her) are going....stay tuned and I'll let you know how badly I embarrass myself.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Attic

I confronted a deep-seated fear of mine today.
You see, there is this rickety ladder in our garage.

I don't trust its construction (Jan 1987???) and I don't like the noises it makes.
Therefore, I have actually never been up the ladder.

It only comes down a few times a year anyway. And I usually stand supportively at its base, my heart all a-quiver and shout directives to the more hard-core B Daddy above.

Perhaps it was my embarrassment over Wednesday's incident that emboldened my spirit.
Perhaps I felt the need to prove I am not just a silly girl who loses car keys in my blonder moments.

But most likely it was the lure of these green bins lurking above....

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!

Have you started decorating yet?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Customer Service with a Side of Southern Charm

Those of you who are on Facebook might have noticed my status update on Monday evening - I somehow managed to lose my car key - my ONLY car key mind you - between the hours of 2pm, when I got home from work, and 4pm, when I wanted to go to the grocery store.

At home. I lost my car key AT HOME. In the span of 2 hours during which I remember feeding my child, checking my email and folding laundry - most of which was done from the couch in my living room.

But somehow my only key just up and ran away on me. A key whose location I have maintained a solid lock on for going on 6 years now - and yet this morning, after 36 hours of searching under the couches, behind the dresser and in the freezer (baby brain?) I called a tow truck to yank my car out of the garage (where it has been mercilessly mocking my foolishness) and drag her to the dealership.

The conversation with North Georgia Towing went a little something like this;

Sweet and very Southern customer service rep: "North Georgia Towing. How may we assist you today?"

Me: "Yes, hi. I need a tow truck at *beep*beep*beep* in Roswell, Georgia."

Sweet and very Southern customer service rep: "Certainly ma'am. Can you first tell me, are you in a safe location?"

A Slightly Embarrassed Me: (glancing around my kitchen) "Um, yes."

Sweet and very Southern customer service rep: "Okay then. Can you tell me why your vehicle needs towing? Has it overheated? Have you been in accident?"

A Definitely Embarrassed Me: "Actually...I sort of.... Well on Monday night...I mean I just had a yeah so... I guess the truth is I really just lost my only car key."

Sweet Southern customer service rep: "So your vehicle is not disabled in any way then?"

A Mortified Me: "No. It's actually parked in my garage."

Sweet Southern customer service rep: "So your key in somewhere in your home?"

A Now Irritated Me: "Well apparently yes it is. But I've looked EVERYWHERE and..."

Sweet Southern customer service rep: "Oh bless your heart! You know I did that with a cell phone two years back! Would you believe it? I looked high and low for a week before buying a new one. Wouldn't you know we even moved and never found it! It just up and walked out on me. Well we'll get someone out to you right away now don't you worry. Tell me, what was your address again?"

God Bless Southern women.

And here's to hoping I don't ever find that key.

Monday, November 23, 2009

4 Years of Crazy Joy

B Daddy and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary this past week.


That's how long high school is - didn't high school last FOREVER?

4 years of marriage has seemingly flown by... 6 vacation adventures, 5 camping trips, 4 football seasons, 3 job changes, 2 small groups, 1 ridiculously awesome dog and of course the ever adorable Squirt.

Our celebration began on Thursday (when all great weekends truly begin - and our actual anniversary) with a picnic lunch and hike in the ATL. Palisades West is a small park hidden along the Chattahoochee River that gives you the illusion of being miles away from the smog and city traffic even though you're still inside the perimeter (the ring road that surrounds the city for you non-Atlantans).

We enjoyed some off-trail hiking...the river has risen several feet with all the rain lately and washed out several parts of the trails.

We picnic-ed. (Don't think that's a verb - editor?) Peas are a delightful picnic snack.

Then Friday we headed over to Athens, partied like it was 2003 and stayed out until last call!

B Daddy at the Globe

I got a hair cut this past week. We are clearly still getting to know each other.

Heard a great band - The Bridges - playing at Tasty World.
A.D.D moment - doesn't she look like Pioneer Woman from back here?!

We caught up with some old friends at Blue Sky (insert mental picture here - camera was AWOL) which used to serve it's a bar. Oh the times they are a changin'.

Saturday morning we drove out and visited the Chapel we were married in.
We even danced on the patio where we had our first spin as a married couple - cheesy yes. But it was my kinda cheese and I'll remember that dance for a long time to come.

I am so blessed to be doing life with BJ!
I hope we make this trip each year for a long time to come.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Drool: A Study in Pictures

At moments like these - words fail me.

I love this kid.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Kingdom for a Kindle

When our little bundle of joy was born this past May, B Daddy and I decided to get each other gifts to commemorate the occasion. His gift? A classy watch to pass on to the Squirt one day. My gift? A Kindle!


I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. When we used to go on vacation I would take at least three books: one for the trip there, one to read while there and one for the way back. If the trip is any longer than a few days - 3 books simply wouldn't do and my carry-on resembled a mini-library.

My sweet husband's gift has put an end to all of this ridiculousness. Now I can carry on as many books as I want more easily than I used take one. Plus I have a dictionary at my fingertips and I can access anytime I run out of books to read!

So the point of this post - - I have had aspirations since high school to read all the "classics." The trouble with the classics is that they usually require quite a bit of perseverance and at least $1.25 in late fees at our local library. (That's like 3 weeks overdue for you non-bibliophiles)

With my Kindle, I can download most "classics" for free now that they are in the public domain and read them as slowly as I need to. I'm currently slogging through Anna Karenina. So far a decent story...but a classic? Not sure I understand yet.

My friend Ryan over at The Swans are Nesting recently decided to take this challenge upon herself and for the sake of camaraderie and an excuse to fill up the menu of my Kindle with some high-brow selections I am joining her!

Granted I have 2 1/2 years before I hit the big 3-0, but as soon as I finish Anna Karenina I'm jumping on board to see how many of these great works I can have under my belt before Ryan's big day.

I have read a few of the books on Ryan's list, so here's my list:

1. Guns, Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond
2. Crime and Punishment – Dostoyevsky
3. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
4. The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner This one will take some slogging...
5. The Maltese Faclon – Dashiell Hammett
6. The Giver – Lois Lowry
7. Perks of Being a Wall Flower – Stephen Chbosky
8. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint Exupéry
9. Watership Down – Richard Adams
10. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
11. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
12. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
13. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
14. Catch-22 – Heller Ugh - not excited about this one. I've started and put it down twice.
15. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathon Swift
16. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
17. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens Read this in middle school, but I think it's worth a second read.
18. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
19. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey
20. Lord of the Flies - How did I get out of high school without reading this???
21. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
22. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
23. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
24. Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
25. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
26. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
27. My Antonia - Willa Cather
28. Tales - Edgar Allen Poe

Ha! I turn 28 next year, so my list is shorter by 2....28 before 28 for me! Anyone interested in joining the club?

Now back to Vronsky and Anna...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oodles of Apples

I promised I'd tell you what we did with all those apples we picked a few weeks back - and I'm sure you've been hanging on pins and needles waiting for this very post.

My mother, sister and I left the apple orchard with about 20 pounds of apples each - which, if you add up the price of admission to pick them + the price of the apples themselves - cost us roughly 99 cents a pound. (A pretty good deal as you couponers well know...)

So what on God's green earth do you do with 20 pounds of apples before they go bad? Well, I figured this was as good a time as any for us to get domestic and learn a new skill - canning!

- Sidenote - It cracks me up that you can learn all kinds of old-school things like how to can apples online. Something about the juxtaposition of my Mac on the kitchen counter wirelessly streaming a video of how seal the lids on a mason jar full of apples tickles me. Here I am feeling very Laura Ingalls Wilder all the while relying on decidedly 21st century technology...

So for any half-pint wannabes, here's the process in a nutshell:

1. Boil your jars and lids to sterilize them. Keep them in warm water during the rest of the afternoon (yes, this will take all prepared) so that when you fill them with your apples they don't shatter.

2. Peel, core and slice 60 lbs of apples. (This part sucks.)

3. Boil your cored, peeled and sliced apples for 5 minutes.

4. Fill the warm empty jars with apple slices, leaving about an inch of room at the top of your jars. Pour the water you just boiled your slices in into the jar to fill in all your empty space. Leave at least 1/2 inch headroom!

5. Place the lid on tightly and screw the ring onto the lid - leave it loose - so it just holds the lid in place. Over the next 24 hours the little pop up bubbles on the lids will magically get sucked down and you'll hear them pop! Once they do this, screw your ring on tightly and viola! Apples in a can. Yummo.

If plain apples in a jar aren't your thing, you can mix up some sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg to add to your canned apples for instant apple pie filling...

This stuff is to die for. I was eating it straight out of the pot.

But it was also delicious in this pie!

I walked away from our afternoon of pioneer-esque delight with seven jars of apples ready for use, don't be surprised if one shows up on your doorstep come Christmas time!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Our first BE RICH project!

We live in a small home.

We have a lot of stuff (as clearly demonstrated here).

And as of late all our stuff is starting to make me feel claustrophobic.

So I wandered around our home and compiled a list of all the stuff that is just that - STUFF. I read somewhere that you shouldn't have anything in your house that isn't beautiful or functional. Ha!

So we're getting rid of it!

Some of this stuff we'll sell online, some of it will be sold at a garage sale and the rest will be donated. And the proceeds? All going to the Be Rich project!

So here's the question: what do you have laying around your home that you wouldn't miss?

I'm lobbing a softball here folks...this is a no-brainer. Put it on eBay, sell it on Craigslist, get together with your neighbors and have a garage sale.

Then BE RICH and donate the heck outta that cash!

I'll be back to post how much we make and where it gets donated...keep me honest!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Joy of Children

Yesterday was a this kind of day.

Anyone want to come babysit? I could use a pumpkin spice latte right about now.

Here's to hoping today is more peaceful...

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