Friday, June 12, 2009

I have been away too long!

Wow, a lot has happened since I last posted. We have moved into our first real house, Yay! We have a dog (my kids' first). She's really cute and just over a year old. We've had her for a month and a half now. She was a Mother's Day present! Wow was I surprised. We got her from the Pet Orphans in Los Angeles, yes, a rescue dog! She's the sweetest dog ever.

We are loving our backyard. Hubby put up a basketball hoop/stand and the kids are digging it! We are going have a July 4th get together/barbecue.

Well I'll post later. Can't believe it's been so many months since my last post. Hope everyone is doing well!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Think There's Just About Something for Everyone

The following information is exactly how the new stimulus plan will impact everyone. I decided to reprint it here in case there are people who complain about the bill not helping "ordinary people". I think there is something in here for just about everyone.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

On February 17, President Barack Obama signed into law a $787 billion economic stimulus plan. That package includes many provisions that may directly benefit you:

Tax Breaks. Individuals earning $75,000 or less will receive a tax credit of $400 on payroll taxes paid in 2009 and 2010. Married couples are eligible for an $800 credit. The tax credit would phase out for single taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes (AIG) of $75,000 to $90,000 and married couples with AGI of $150,000 to $190,000. Retirees who receive Social Security benefits and individuals on disability would receive a one-time tax credit of $250.

Healthcare. The bill provides a subsidy to cover 65% of COBRA premiums for up to nine months. The subsidy is limited to workers who were laid off between September 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009.

Education. Parents of college students will be eligible to claim a tax credit of up to $2,500. Available in 2009 and 2010, the credit covers tuition, fees and course supplies such as textbooks. The credit phases out for individuals with AGI of $80,000 to $90,000 and married couples with AGI of $160,000 to $180,000.

New Housing. First-time homebuyers are eligible for an $8,000 tax credit, which does not have to be repaid unless you sell your home within three years. The credit is available for purchases between January 1, 2009, and before December 1, 2009. The credit phases out for individuals with AGI of $75,000 to $95,000 and married couples with AGI of $150,000 to $170,000.

Green Homes. New tax credits are now available for green home improvements on a principal residence starting January 1, 2009, through December 31, 2010. The credit covers 30% of qualifying upgrade costs, or a maximum amount of $1,500. Qualifying modifications must meet a certain efficiency level to be eligible for the credit. For record keeping, experts advise that you retain all receipts.

New Cars. New car buyers can deduct the sales tax from their AIG on purchases of up to $49,500. The deduction is limited to car and truck purchases made on the date of the enactment of the bill through December 31, 2009. The credit phases out for individuals with AGI above $125,000 and married couples with AGI above $250,000.

Green Cars. From January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2010, there is a tax credit for plug-in hybrid vehicles. This credit — based on the capacity of the battery system — for electric hybrid cars and trucks starts at $2,500 and is capped at $7,500. Previous tax credits for electric vehicles would have been phased out after 250,000 total vehicles. The current stimulus package has increased that number to 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer.

Always consult your tax advisor for tax information and advise.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wow a Whole Month Went By!

Wow you would have thought I won a prize for not posting a whole month! Well, I didn't. I have been really busy. We are in escrow on a house and there is a lot to do as it is a fixer upper! Lowes and Home Depot have become our friends. I have to start back posting something... anything just to relax. I just finished watching tonight's episode of 24. It was a 2 hour event that I forgot was 2 hours. Where were we during hour 1?? Home Depot! Of course! Got back about 20 minutes before hour 2 (or what we thought was hour 1). It was really good tonight! Anyone else watch 24??

I have drawings, design plans, etc in my purse and a tape measure, go figure! Exciting times, none the less. I'm really looking forward to moving, but not packing everything up!

Hope everyone is doing great! Happy March!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Finally, a Sale... Two Years in the Making!

Don't ever give up on your writing! Over two years ago I wrote an article on, of course, being organized at the grocery store, lists, etc. Just yesterday, I got an email that said someone had bought my article for $25. I couldn't believe it!

It was on a site called CC (I don't know if I can mention it here) I hadn't been on that site since I had written my one and only article. That was the spur that got me to write another one today! I think I'll keep writing in response to requests (I figured that out today, too).

Anyone out there write for that particular company or another one like it? Are you making good money at it? Every little bit helps!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Grocery Lists Made Simple!

I used to make the generic grocery list with no real plan in sight. I would go grocery shopping, and when it came time to make meals, I had nothing exciting to speak of. I would also end up overspending or having to go back to the grocery store to get items I had forgotten due to poor planning. After implementing the previous post's idea, it made dinners exciting again.

Well, with the new resources for meals and what I'm about to tell you has made my life a lot easier!

Several years ago, I found through my windows xp based computer program (I don't remember the exact program) a "grocery list" that was a template that you could change around. I remember seeing the template along with templates for receipts, insurance lists, awards, etc. I wish I could remember it, but I got a new laptop with Vista and I've yet to really find anything really useful here :(.

Anyway, I pulled the template up, took off items I don't usually buy and added items that I do. I actually sort of recreated the aisles in the grocery store on my list i.e. Paper Products column, Frozen Food column, etc. I listed it by item and not brand i.e. toilet paper, toothpaste, bacon, cheddar cheese, sliced cheese. You get the picture. I print two copies for the month (remember I shop once every two weeks) and start my planning about 5 days before my Friday shopping day.

After figuring out what I'm going to fix for dinners, I go through my list and check off exactly what I need to buy. Also, checking off breakfast items, (3 cereals, breakfast meat, eggs - whatever I needed for two weeks), lunch (lunch meat, chips, fruit, etc.) and snacks (yogurt, pudding cups, etc.) this makes my list complete and easy to follow. It may seem to take time, but believe me, it's worth it. Each time you work with it, you'll get faster. Remember to save your template for future printings.

No more lists from memory or going to the store without a list. It has literally changed my life as far as organization goes. Not to mention saving time too! Also, on the back of the list, I write out 14 dinner meals for the two weeks (2 Mexican dishes, 2 American, 2 Asian, 2 Seafood, 2 Italian, 2 Sandwich dishes). On Fridays, we have breakfast for dinner - yumm! I put the menu side of the list on the fridge so I know what I'm making that night.

I hope you can find the list (or make your own) and that it helps you as much as it has helped me.

Any questions?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bored In The Kitchen?

I mentioned in the post below that I plan out dinner meals two weeks at a time. This was a long time coming, let me tell you! Before I started doing that, I had about 7 meals that I cooked and rotated constantly! Nothing fancy - tacos, hot dogs, burgers, meat loaf, pork chops... you get the picture. Sounds good, right? But, over and over again? Wrong!

My brave and handsome husband suggested that I make NEW meals instead of having the same thing over and over again. Um, slightly insulted, slightly embarrassed. I decided to go on line and also really look at the cookbooks I had. Thank god for! Very impressed with the recipes. I know how to cook, but when you put together one part lazy, one part tired, one part stubborn and one part, well I don't know what else, but anyway it didn't turn out good.

I looked for meals and saved them on the website. I printed them out, punched holes in them and kept them in a three ring binder. The binder, 3 years later? It's not pretty, but it's mine! :)

I have dinners, desserts and snacks in the binder. I love the web! I also go to (they have great ideas for Superbowl) and (they have printable coupons) for inspiration. If you guys are bored with your meals, try those websites, they're awesome! Not to mention the (gotta love Paula Deen!). They have easy recipes and reviews. Don't forget to sign up (it's free) so you can save any recipes you have in a "recipe box" on the sites.

Let me know what you think?

Next post I'll talk about how I conquered my grocery list fear!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Changing My Spending Habits

For the new year, I've decided to actually stick to my grocery budget every month instead of going over by 80 or more dollars. Yeah, I clip coupons and make a list, but it never fails that I buy stuff that I probably don't need.

For example, I buy cookies for school lunches. I have decided to bake the cookies, not just for the house, but for school as well. I bought a box of ziplock quart size freezer bags to use for this purpose. I usually bake cookies for the house, but had slowed down a bit until recently. The other night I baked 4 1/2 dozen oatmeal peanut butter cookies and put a dozen and a half in one of the bags and labeled it "for school lunches". I put the other 1 dozen and a half in the cookie jar and the rest in another bag labeled "home cookies". When home cookies start running out, I will replace them with freezer bag home cookies. Tomorrow I plan on making snickerdoodles and doing the same thing. A few days after that, I will bake some other kind and rinse and repeat.

This way, I will always have an assortment of cookies not just for home, but for school too! I'll let you know how it's going. I figure I am saving $14 a month since I shop once every two weeks and buy about $7 worth of cookies each time.

I'm also keeping my receipts from the store and based on stuff I usually buy, I will go over my list and write down what I feel the prices will be. This way I will get an idea of how much I'm spending before I go to the store. I clip coupons and use the ones based on what I need for the two weeks. I plan out my dinners two weeks at a time and actually write out meals that I will cook. This way I get exactly what I'm supposed to get at the store. I just have to stick to the extras. I'll write more about this later...

Who's with me on the sticking-to-the-budget-thingy for 2009?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

No Big New Year's Resolution for Me

I've never been that great with New Year's Resolutions. I used to say things like I'll eat better, or I'll exercise more, but I decided to do things a little differently. I decided three months or so ago to start exercising so that when new years would come along, it would be a habit. Done!

Well, I have decided to keep my dresser cleaned off and my closet floor clean. I know, I know. Not a big deal, but my dresser got cleaned off once every 6 months and my side of the closet floor caused the doors to stop in their track when sliding. So, yesterday, I cleaned off my dresser and will keep it cleaned and I cleaned the closet floor of shoes and boxes. It's little things like that I can do. How about not taking things so personally, especially when my husband and I discuss things (that's code for all you married folks out there).

I asked my kids if they had anything they wanted to change or do for the coming year. Both said no. I wish my older son (19) would get a hair cut for New Years...

Do any of you make resolutions or anyone vow to make changes for 2009?

Friday, January 2, 2009

One Down and One To Go!

Ok. Here's an update from my previous post about not watching DVD's that I got from past Christmases. I just finished my "24" DVD I got for this Christmas (2008) and I just realized that I was supposed to watch Hairspray from last Christmas (2007)... Oh well. I will do that this weekend... I think.

I know my husband will be glad that I'm done with Season 1 of 24. Staying up 'til 3:00 am watching (the suspense is amazing on that show) that DVD is amazing. Now I just need to stop blogging so late! :)