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Archive for June, 2008

Deep Fryer?

June 3rd, 2008 at 09:35 pm

Does anyone have a deep fryer?

Not very bloggy today, but remembered I saw a cute little countertop deep fryer in the $50 range.

Was curious if anyone had one and what they thought.

I think this will be PERFECT for my Christmas wish list.

My MIL goes crazy over Christmas and it usually turns into big drama (God forbid I don't want anything for Christmas, but then when I Come up with something it's too expensive - though what they usually spend - or it's not practical - and on and on and on and on).

Kitchen things are usually safe.

Though then again it is MIL. She is OBSESSED with weight. She will probably HATE this idea.

Well, I'll try. Wink

So yeah, now that I think about it, I already know the answer to a deep fryer. Maybe I should ask for a similarly priced kitchen item and trade it in for the fryer. Wink

I was thinking for frying french fries and gyozas. I am sure I could find much to fry.

Infinite Projects/Limited Time

June 2nd, 2008 at 02:12 pm

I will be saving $315/month come August, with BM out of preschool.

I have been at a loss what to do with the $15.

I decided today I would put that $15 to the mortgage.

My mind changes often in this regard. I think I was putting an extra $30 there for a while, and then stopped.

But I feel obligated to save that $15 and don't really have anywhere else to put it.

So I'll go with that for now.

Actually, I put about $11 to the mortgage to make it an even $1330.

I've said many times I don't see the point in paying down the mortgage any faster without the ROTHs maxed out. (Likewise, I see little point in putting more money to the mortgage just so I can borrow more later for home improvement projects. ?? So I have a tendency to prefer to save up cash for that stuff).

BUT I also don't mind diverting a small amount I wouldn't save otherwise. I like saving big round numbers to cash and retirement, and so upping the mortgage payment a bit, with this small amount, seems rather reasonable. Maybe I will "up" it to $1350 when LM is out of school.

Otherwise, this money would just go to more stuff or food or something.


I feel now that I have more time, there is not enough hours in the day for all I want to do.

I have decided to rethink things in terms of where I am at my best for certain activities.

Reading in the evenings before bed is NOT working. I am lucky if I can read 2 pages. Wink

So I am thinking:

Mornings - reading/going to work early
(Going to work early means quiet uninterrupted reading time at work also. Tempting! Like at lunch. Or if I stick around after shift is over for quiet time).

Evenings - crafts (kids LOVE to watch and help).

Exercise - walks with the kids. Gym/aerobics. I do well with these in the evening, though the latter does take time from the kids. But worth it in the long run.

Household Chores - Mornings. I am thinking of taking one weekend morning a week to catch up a bit on stuff around the house. I find on the weekends by 2pm I am spent. I generally nap and am useless after I wake up.

I could work some of these in on the weekdays.

TV - I found recently I am watching WAY too much TV. They are fine for evenings, when I am completely useless anyway. BUT I have been staying up late way too much to get in all my shows. So I think I will cut a few out.

So I am working on a plan.

I have also struggled in teaching piano to BM. It is something I Want to do, but am unsure how far I can take it (it is a big "no no" to teach your own kids - for various reasons).

Though I am sure it is fine for an intro and the basics.

Dh has started to show him guitar though, so this motivated me.

He is also excited about piano so for now I said remind me every evening and we can have a short lesson. I figure a five-minute lesson almost every day is pretty equivalent to the 30-minute classes I used to do for his age group (no one ever practices at home anyway).

So far it is going well. I tried a bit when he was 3 but just couldn't commit. It is always 10 times easier to teach a 5-year-old than a child any younger. Though he was very bright at 3, I see the ease now that he is so close to 5. Plus I couldn't teach him on the piano before - keys were too heavy. He is ready now for the big piano - yay!

I personally took piano lessons from very young, and learned violin and flute in public school. It is saddening the kids probably won't get the same opportunities at school, but there are a lot of affordable programs all the same.

I always figured I could play any instrument after covering the 3 corners of instruments. Piano is much like percussion and a string instrument. I translated that easily into guitar (with my violin experience as well) and drums. With the flute experience I can pretty much pick up any wind instrument.

So I would like to do the same with my kids. Probably will be piano from me, guitar from dh, and the wind instrument of their choice when they are older.

I think we will wait a while and see where their true interests lie before we start shelling out money for private lessons. Oh boy, the thought makes me cringe. Expensive... But I hope to hold off for a while and teach what we can ourselves.

Likewise, I have kept it up little since I had stopped teaching in 1999. With teaching them it gets me to practice a bit more.

I am relieved it is like riding a bicycle and I haven't forgotten how to play. Wink Though I do sound extremely unpracticed.

I have to admit I am tempted to take on some students to get me practicing again. Maybe when the kids are older. If nothing else I can earn enough money to pay for their lessons. Seriously!

Chomping at the bit to SPEND money.../Scary Tales of GIANT mortgages

June 2nd, 2008 at 12:54 am

Well, May was an insane spendy month and june should be rather calm (knock on wood).

Credit card closes Tuesday and I count all the purchases until then to May. All the purchases will have to be squeezed into my June paychecks. Not much more room...

So we are fine with the 2 more no-spend days ahead.

BUT our camping trip is fast approaching and we need to purchase some supplies.

WE tend to approach things slowly. Whereas some people might buy an aresenal of camping equipment on a charge card (newbie camper) we figured we would start with a cabin and prepared meals. Our cabin has electricity too.

So it means all we really need is sleeping bags. Even that is questionable as it won't be very cold. Some warm clothes and blankets will probably do.

I was thinking of bringing my yoga/exercise mats for the kids to sleep on, on the floor. Cots provided, but it will be tight and the kids still roll out of bed too much. I am thinking with a little cushion they will be fine on the ground.

I found some decent sleeping bag deals on amazon today, with free shipping. I am very pleased.

Dh has some old sleeping bag I am wary of. I would prefer to buy a new one myself. For him he has a very nice cold weather one.

I still haven't found one - but I'll keep my eye out.

I just saved a bunch of stuff to my shopping cart. Will buy Wednesday...

I found a nice folding chair at a decent price but will shop around a bit.

I found some decent/cheap lamps, though we may have enough flashlights around, for this trip. No lamps needed with the electricity, though would be a good purchase for the long run.

I think if the trip goes well we will buy a tent next year. we may stock up on more cookware and that kind of stuff in the future. As we slowly build a camping arsenal.

The best is today grandma slipped us $60 for gas. Completely unexpected. That will pay for the kids' sleeping bags and a couple of lamps, if we go with that.

I have been wanting a travel chair for a while, so may fund it from my allowance. Not sure if dh wants one too. I should probably shop around a bit more as well.

We have been trying out the cheapies but they are REALLY uncomfortable. So not worth it. The one I found was $40 but had nothing but good reviews.

Thinking on it.

I will peruse Craigslist for all this stuff before I make any final purchases.

I also need new workout shoes (put it off to purchase after Disneyland. Boy my shoes are trashed after that). I think I found some at I LOVE the site with the detailed reviews and abundance of wide shoes. I have been shopping around the local stores and GIVE UP. Will probably spend $50 on a nice pair of shoes. Haven't replaced them in a couple of years, so it is time.

Finally, California has a new law in one month - no more cell phone use in the car without headsets.

Dh bought me one for my birthday but it sucks.

So I was perusing a bit. I think I will ask dh to do some research there. I want something a little more comfortable, and that I can hear.

June may be a little spendy but the $60 from nowhere helps immensely.


Which reminds me, I was cleaning up a bit and found a note that our estate lawyer (or family friend, I should say) had moved.

I was going to be nosy and zillow it but had never gotten around to it.

Until today!

Oh my!!!

From being nosy I gathered that they sold their 1500-square-foot home on 1/10 acre for $600k (little more than they paid in 2004).

& they purchased a 2000sf home a good ways out, for $800k. Lot size is twice as big, which is actually a good size for the region.


Did I mention how old they are? Like 28?

As usual this stuff just leaves me dumbstruck.

Obviously I wouldn't have a clue how they can afford a home like this. Though I give them points for moving further out and scoring both land and square footage.

Dh's sister paid about that much for a 1200-square-foot, OLD house.

This is our experience with our friends back home. We just scratch our heads. Color us LOST.

On the flip side, I ran to an old college friend at a seminar quite a few months back. She kept asking when/if I may move back to the Bay. (As did dh's friend who lived in like a million-dollar house. You are like - "Hello!!??!!").

Anyway, I have mentioned the extreme shortage of qualified staff in CPA firms, and therefore the huge incentive to bring in qualified people. My last firm offered a $10k bonus if you recruited someone, and that was before it got really bad. (Probably a better chance of winning the lottery then finding someone qualified who would want to work at that job).

But anyway, she started courting me for her firm and seemed very confused when I made it clear we weren't moving back anytime soon. "Why wouldn't we move back?" she asks. I say, "Um, because we can not afford to live here."

She then tells me (she has to be at least 30), oh, well she was still living at home with her parents.

She was apparently clueless how maybe it was a bit too expensive for a young family to stay in the area. Though obviously she was choosing to live with her parents for some reason.

That is pretty much the gist of my experience. Either own a home for $700k+ or live with the 'rents.

& then look at us all weird like why would we ever move????????

Is it just me, or is this some major, insane bizarro world? Wink

I know, I know, it's just the usual. My jaw STILL to this day hits the floor every time I found out a relative or friend paid $500k+ for a HOUSE. You think the shock would wear off at some point.

I have a childhood friend who rents in San Francisco and makes about what I do. She is the only one I understand on some financial level. Her rent is probably bigger than my mortgage. But she doesn't have a family to support either. We do sit around and wonder how the hell our friends are affording these real estate monstrosities, in their 20s. We assume they are in WAY over their heads while we HOPE they have come into some money from family or something. I really haven't a clue...

Glimpse of Life with a single child/& Idiot People!!!

June 1st, 2008 at 02:08 pm

This weekend has felt largely strange.

BM is off with grandma for a few days.

If I could describe the change, of only caring for one child, in one word, it would be: QUIET

LOL. My wild extrovert is off doing fun things with Grandma and extended family (Completely in his element).

While we have Mr. Introvert. He mimics his brother so much he can be on the loud side at times. But mostly it is blissfully quiet.

But it also just feels very odd to me.

Gas has jumped about a 35 cents in price since we returned from Disneyland. I think even though we didn't have a crystal ball, we planned that trip rather well. I just mention that though because we have been driving, driving, driving. I don't expect to fill up again until after the credit card closes Tuesday. So our gas expenditure was not awful for the month of May. But I had to drive 30 miles to a class Friday. (30 miles each way). I passed the Folsom zoo (sanctuary) on the way and thought we have NEVER taken the kids there and might be a nice treat for LM.

Anyway, dh also drove BM all the way to San Jose. & we will pick him up half way at dinner time today. So, much driving driving driving.

I had wanted to swing LM by Fairytale Town today - enjoy it without his brother. But I realized it is quite on the way to pick up his brother, so we decided to be frugal and drag dh along, and go from there to get BM. MIL will probably treat us to dinner though, so color us spoiled.

Anyway, so yes, LM had QUITE a day yesterday. We did decide to drive him all the way out to Folsom to the little zoo sanctuary. & lo and behold, there was a steam train engine there too. (LM LOVES trains).

So we took a train ride and bought some ice cream.

I actually worried since it was such an expensive month that all this would be way too much. But we spent $8 to get into the zoo, $6 on the train, and maybe $6 on treats. Also about $6 on gas, but it wouldn't mean another fillup this month, so we went for it. It was a nice small splurge. I couldn't help but think while we were there that little kids like LM need this more than things like Disneyland. May be hypocritical coming from me (just coming back from Disney) but I generally never understood why my peers were always taking their 1,2,3-year-olds on all of this kind of expensive activities like concerts and amusement parks. But for the drive we really enjoyed the simplicity of this little zoo. Very much LM's speed, and very much the speed of our budget. Big Grin

To be clear - Disney was more for us than the kids. I'll admit that any day. LOL. It's the one exception where we go a little crazy.

Oh anyway, in the afternoon yesterday LM got to take a long bath by himself. He was in heaven. Not having to share his bath, etc. Plus I admit I tend to rush baths so I just let him relax and enjoy for a long while. He still threw a little tantrum when it was time to get out.

Of course, I think he was incredibly moody. He was terrible with teething, for many long years (I swear he teethed like a year straight - I didn't get any sleep that year). Anyway, so my mom called and he was obviously really moody at a point. My mom asked if he was getting teeth. I panicked for a second, and thought, wait a minute, he has all his teeth! LOL. She panicked me for a bit there.

No, I think he just misses his brother. Though he will have to get used to it. We have discussed much how little one-on-on LM tends to get, but also realize his older brother is an amazing addition that BM never had. But now that BM is going off to school I know it will be hard on him, but he will get much of that one-on-one at this point.


Well, the bargaining is not going so well for dh this week.

He noticed there was a garage sale that was selling games for his newest game system. Said the garage sale started 8am Friday. It was a good 20 miles away. So he drives all the way out there around 10am and there is no garage sale. They guy is all shocked and said, well, he didn't expect anyone to show up so early (though he advertised 8am). Anyway, dh says well, he is just interested in the games anyway. So he's got a willing buyer on his doorstep, and the guy says, "Oh I am not ready to sell them. I haven't researched prices yet."

I would have just left at that point myself, thinking some pretty nasty expletives in my head. But dh leaves him # and tells him to call if they don't sell. (He imagines odds are slim they would sell - who knows). When he tells me the story I am just thinking, come on, is it that hard to find games? Forget this idiot!

Anyway, dh researched and saw some of the games were going for $30 on ebay. So he is bummed he didn't push it more - and offered something. He will not pay that much for a used game that is like a decade old.

Oh yeah and he said he think he could have talked the guy into a deal but his wife was their giving him the stink eye. LOL.

But if I have advice for anyone - it is don't advertise a garage sale and specific items, if you are not ready. DOH! Call that the obnoxious experience of the week...

Likewise, dh went into his favorite used CD/game store and saw 10 copies of a game that he has a demo of (BM loves playing the demo) for $20/each. Plus, the second generation of the game is coming out soon. So dh talked to the manager and offered $15. He felt rather confident the guy would be hard pressed to sell all 10 copies at the $20 price.

They guy just said, no negotiations.

Bummer on that.

So dh had a bit of a strikeout this week when it came to deals on games. He's been on a role in other areas lately.

As far as these games, he said he'll go back in a month and try again. He says if he still sees a bunch of copies, and the same price, he will ask again.


Well, yesterday was very relaxing. Today I should clean house or something productive.

I actually got a book on "math illiteracy" which so far has started out quite interesting.

June... Today is June.

I am thinking I need to work on my diet. I gained weight in Disneyland (admittedly, probably muscle since my clothes seem to still fit fine). But I need to get back to it.

Oh yes, and the city is closing a large stretch of freeway for a good 6 weeks.

I am lucky it does not affect my commute. We have little need to traverse that section of the freeway. But the alternate routes could possibly clog my commute. It will be interesting to see on Monday. I will take a slightly different route to avoid problems (hopefully).

Mostly I am optimistic.

BUT we also have little need to travel too far south. This could affect my aerobic class though. The traffic is usually bad enough during the week, as is. This could help my commute, or make it impossible. I guess we'll see. If it's unbearable I'll just have to hit the gym more instead. I haven't really been great with either...

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