30 December 2009

2009 Wrap Up

Well, another year is wrapping up, and it's time for another update on my progress. I did this last year (see the post here on the Year of Frugal Living blog) and it's great to have a record of my accomplishments. So, here I go:
  • I paid off another 7.6 percent of my debt, for a total of 26%, or more than 1/4.
  • I dealt with missed child support, a missing ex husband, and had the guts to take him back to court for all of it.
  • I experienced quite a few achievements at work, including getting an award in front of the whole college!
  • I gave my children chores and have begun giving my 5 year old an allowance to start teaching him to save for things he wants
  • I made my grandmother's pirogi recipe with the kids (one of my 2009 resolutions)
  • I travelled without the kids without having a nervous breakdown
  • I went on a date
  • I remodeled my living room fireplace

2009 has been the year of living- actually doing the things I have always wanted to do without being too scared or talking myself out of it. It's been a fantastic feeling to really be living my life, and I hope to continue to do it in 2010!

29 December 2009

Foolproof Cleaning Method

Get motivated to purge in 3 easy steps!

Step one: Turn on tv

Step two: Tune tv to A&E's Show Hoarders

Step three: Get totally grossed out and begin throwing away your stuff

I have watched this show twice since I've been home on vacation, and each time I've thrown out a huge bag of stuff immediately afterwards. It is gross. And everytime I watch it, I look around at the piles of crap in my house and I think "OMG, this is how it starts." And I start tossing stuff.

I am not a super neat person, despite being a librarian. :D I have the tendency to save things because I might need them, or I feel guilty throwing them away. This is ridiculous, especially in a 1100 square foot house. I was just going through the "sippy cup shelf" and there are baby bottles in there, the ones they recalled because of BPA. So even if I DID have another baby, which would take a miracle at this point, I wouldn't even use them anyway!

So yes, if you have the tendency to save things, watch this show. It works!

22 December 2009

letters and sodas

It’s not the holidays. I swear. It’s just that… I think I’ve been watching too many romantic comedies on USA. Or maybe it’s the full day workshop I attended with someone who I was dating and, while I fully acknowledge that things wouldn’t have worked out, is still a pretty nice guy. But whatever it is, I feel like maybe I’m ready to start dating a bit. I don’t quite know how to go about this, because I’m 31 and I don’t hang out at bars and I don’t really go anywhere other than work and the grocery store.


So another, semi embarrassing 2010 resolution is to put myself back out there, even if it means utter embarrassment. I might even get to see a movie or something eventually, right?

20 December 2009

what's gonna work?

The funny thing about trying out new things is sometimes it makes your life easier, but the initial trying seems so time consuming and requiring of effort that it's too hard to do it.

Like, for example, making small children pick up their toys before bed. I'll admit it, I have been doing it all these years because, well, because I was too tired to make them do it and it was easier just to do it myself. But since we're starting chores and one of my resolutions is to clean less, I started making them pick up the messes they made over the course of the day before we get ready for bed. I stayed with them and helped and we all did it together, and everyone felt really happy and proud when the house looked nice before they went to sleep.

As Mr5 was getting ready to go to sleep, I was laying in his bed with him "talking about things" (as he calls it) and I said "Thanks for helping me clean up today. It was really great that we all did it together and it didn't take very long and look how clean the house is now! It was great teamwork." And he says "Yeah, it was teamwork! Just like the Wonder Pets."

Yup! Just like em. :)

18 December 2009


I recently read this article in Business Week called “How Adults Achieve Happiness. It’s an interesting article because it, In some ways, tells you what you already know, but need to hear anyway. Basically, it comes down to this:

Lots of tv watching/ web surfing = not happy

Lots of exercise = happy

Lots of cleaning = not happy (yay!!)

Lots of friends = happy (yay again!)

It also draws a direct correlation between happiness at work and happiness at home.

I like this article because it is in many ways what I’ve tried to accomplish over the last 2 ½ years (wow, has it really been that long?) since my ex moved out. And I have to say, each of them require work. It’s easy to watch tv, or get sucked into the web for a few hours. It’s easy to not exercise. It’s easy to not call friends, although it’s also easy to not clean, at least it is for me. :)

So, in light of the upcoming new year, and this interesting perspective on happiness, here are my 2010 goals:

1. Make time to exercise!!! We have a gym at my work. I have a membership. I have never gone, because I don’t make the time. This year, I will schedule in gym time just as firmly as I schedule a meeting or a doctor’s appointment. Barring serious illness, it cannot be missed. I’ll shoot for twice a week to start.

2. 2. Spend less time watching tv! This has been happening naturally since my tivo stopped working, and since I’ve been reading more. Keep it up.

3. 3. Spend less time cleaning- the method for this one is brilliant- my children are getting chores. End of story. :D

4. 4. Spend more time with friends- this one is easy, but with the cold and snow already here, will take an extra effort in the winter. I’m close with my core group of friends, but have fallen out of touch with others, and have recently made contact with a long lost friend, who I want to invite over for dinner soon.

What are your goals?

17 December 2009

It can't be

A week before Christmas? Oh, that is not good. I have lost my list and my motivation to shop and most likely, the positive balance in my checking account.

14 December 2009


I’ve been busily painting, cleaning, getting rid of things, and hanging up panels to cover the ugly wall air conditioner (photos to come). And yesterday, I even went couch shopping!


When I graduated college, I moved into a 3 month sublet in Providence, Rhode Island with a handful of furniture. Since I’d be there for 3 months, I never really bothered decorating or buying much. Then after that, I moved into a bedroom of an already furnished apartment, so same thing. After that, another sublet, this time in Prescott, Arizona, so I didn’t even have furniture- just a duffel bag the size of a kayak to hold all my stuff (I can fit in that duffel bag! It’s amazing). After that, moved back home with my parents, and then I finally got an apartment here in Connecticut with the person who I’d go on to marry.


Except we had no money, so we never bought any furniture or did any decorating. My parents gave us a couch and my ex had a kitchen table. I taped Sonic Youth and French movie posters to the walls, and we sat around smoking cigarettes and drinking beer and never once cared about fixing the place up. And it was an awful place- the garage of a ranch that had been converted into a loft apartment. It was in many ways illegal and even more ways ugly. I actually can’t believe we ever even lived there.


Then we moved again, this time to a nice apartment with cathedral ceilings and a balcony. But now I had a 4 month old and wasn’t working, so no new furniture. Couldn’t paint, because it was a rental. So again, same ugly couch, a new hand me down kichen table, and a cabinet for the tv that we bought off some guy on the street for 25 bucks. At least this time we bought a few paintings to hang on the wall from IKEA, except I’m pretty sure we charged them and I’m probably still paying for them if you were to trace it back.


Finally we moved to the house I live in now, except 3 weeks after we moved the shit hit the fan and my ex became my ex. Then I REALLY didn’t have any money and I inherited even more hand me downs- a tv wall unit, a desk, a pink recliner. I taped the kids coloring pages to the walls, and shoved boxes of things under the beds. I could barely breathe, barely pay for food, never mind make the place my own.


So here I am, the first time in my life fixing up a place so that it’s MINE. I’ve never shopped for a couch before, never bought a piece of furniture from a place other than a tag sale or Goodwill. Never painted trim or hung up curtains. It’s just incredible to be able to make decisions about my own space. I feel like I can finally make it my own, and that’s amazing.


11 December 2009

In the Groove

For some reason, I am super productive lately! I've been painting, Christmas shopping, cleaning, reading real novels (really!) and just feeling really energetic, even after the kids go to bed.

I just finished the second coat on the fireplace and it looks awesome. Tomorrow I'll do the trim, and then I'm getting my Christmas tree. I can't believe I am actually close to finishing this project!

Sorry for all the excitement, but things don't usually go so well for me! I even got an award at work yesterday! :)

07 December 2009

primer, new lamp, and cat

Check it out! Awesome, right? My mom came over and we primed the area. Then I chose a paint color (a medium gray) and we went to Ikea and got the panels to hang over the air conditioner. My mom and dad are both coming over Tuesday to hang the panels and the new curtains I got for by the couch. I'm so excited!

This project is frugal because my mom is paying for the supplies as a Christmas present. And the cat is pretty confused by it all.

03 December 2009


Here's the fireplace, paneling, and random bookshelf set-up:
Here's the rest of the wall (note the end of the paneling on the right):
See? Bad, huh?

1/4 of the way there (and painting day!)

If you came over from the Year of Frugal Living blog, then you know I've been trying to pay off debt for a while now. As of today, I reached the 25% mark! Hooray! I had wanted to be at 40% by the end of 2009, but with my ex disappearing for 2 months, that just didn't work out. But I'm still ahead of where I was at the end of 2008 (I think 18%) so I'm still moving forward. This is cause for celebration- which I'm doing by priming the fireplace! My mom's on her way so I better stop fooling around on the computer and start getting ready...

02 December 2009

not what I'm supposed to be doing...

My mom is coming over tomorrow night with paint chips and Sunday we're going to IKEA. When I get home tonight I plan to take pictures of the "before" so that I can share and ask for some advice.

After 31 years of bitching that I don't have anything that I like and my house doesn't reflect my own style, the big question then becomes "what IS my own style?" Once, I took one of those "what is your style personality?" quizzes on hgtv.com and it said "eclectic" which I think means "too inconsistent to label". On that particular show (which I can't remember the name of right now) it says to pick 5 of your favorite things in your house, so that's what I'm going to do tonight, and see if that tells me anything other than "none of these things go together'.

01 December 2009

let the daydreaming begin...

Now I'm wrapped up in the world of interior design. Should the panels be a bright color? What will go on the mantle? How will I choose things that reflect me and that I love and will also look cool and not like a dorm room?

It's so exciting. In the meanwhile, I found this cool blog about a mom who does this type of thing. Well. http://www.designmom.com/

Back to my lunch break IKEA shopping...