Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Things I Don't Understand

I am officially a crazy dog owner.  I embrace it by posting photos of my dog on the blog all the time.  It's just...that face...that face makes me happy.

Here are some things that don't make me happy, work edition.

  • Lunch hour meetings.  I flipping hate when people schedule meetings or trainings over the noon hour.  I work a full day, from 8:00 to noon and 1:00 to 4:30 I am at my boss' leisure.  I have to do what they say when they say.  But that noon hour is MINE.  I like to online shop, read my kindle, make phone calls and sometimes just zone out for that one hour.  I feel like I need that hour.  My work is in the process of going paperless and so have been scheduling several mandatory trainings and meetings over the lunch hour.  Attendance has been low, so now they are enticing people with pizza and cookies.  Which almost makes it worst to me because I don't want to eat pizza and cookies for lunch. 
  • Misuse/No use of Email.  I don't talk a ton about what I do.  The easy answer is that I am an attorney.  One would think that being an attorney means you are working with people who are really professional with their use of communication.  If you think that, you would be wrong.  I have realized that lawyering is a profession many people do well past the normal retirement age.  Many times I have had to contact a fellow attorney only to find out that they don't use email.  WTF.  This is unacceptable.  The real kicker is that these same people often don't use voicemail either.  So, to get in touch with them, you have to call their office and have their secretary write down the message on a cave wall.
  • Fridays.  Seriously, does anyone work on Fridays?  Even if you are at work, are you really working?  On Friday afternoons, my office place looks like the scene of a wild west movie.  Last Friday I swear I saw some tumbleweed rolling down the hallway.  Sometimes I wonder what the point is.  Even if I wanted to do work myself, since no one else is at work I can't achieve much.  Although, it never fails that on Friday at about 4:00 P.M. someone calls with an "emergency." 
  • Co-worker happy hours.  This is kind of an old bag moment for me.  When I was younger, I liked the happy hours.  Now that I'm old, I just want to go home after work.  I'm not trying to be anti-social, but I spend at least 40 hours a week with my coworkers.  I don't need another few hours on a Wednesday night.  I want to see my family, my husband, my dog, my friends.  I want to put on pajama pants and watch my tivo.  Happiest hours I know happen with my pajamas, a couch, a glass of wine and the tivo.  I would be remiss not to mention the fact that my marriage was started by a work happy hour. 
Does this make it sound like I need a vacation?

Friday, March 8, 2013

San Francisco Side Trip

When Mike and I were driving from San Francisco to Sonoma, we decided to make an impromptu pit stop.  I had been reading about the Muir Woods National Park and thought it might be fun to see the great Redwoods of California.  Holy Cannoli, this decision did not disappoint. 

The road to get to the park is a little windy and narrow, but it offers some amazing views of the forest.  The worst part is that we were relying on my GPS system to get us to and from the park, but once you get into the woods, you lose all cell phone service.  So this wouldn't be a place to go on a first date or with someone that you think hates you. 

When you get into the park there are boardwalks all through the redwood trees, so even if you are an inexperienced hiker you can still enjoy the forest.  There were tons of different paths you could take.  I think we could have walked for hours.

It's also extremely quiet in the woods.  There was a light sound of water rushing and these gorgeous rays of sun that were piercing down through the tree canopy.  It was beautiful and peaceful.  I am not much of a nature girl, but I started to feel one with the trees.

And just how big are the trees, you ask?  It's hard to put it into perspective, but if I were a tree hugger, I couldn't get my arms around one.  There were some fallen tree trunks that you could look at and they were impressive.  Here's the best photo that I could get of an entire redwood.

The leaves were huge, although I have baby feet, so maybe it's just that my feet are really small. 

There were also so many weird tree formations in the forest.  I couldn't get enough of the bright green moss that was covering these awkwardly bent tree trunks.  Here are my two favorites:

If you find yourself in San Fran, take a little side trip to the Muir Woods for some peace and beauty.  I left these woods feeling refreshed and clear headed.  It's amazing what a little nature can do for you!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I am not a cheap person.  I like to indulge, oh boy, can I indulge.  My love for indulging has forced me to realize that if I want to indulge, I have to be frugal.  One of the top lessons I have learned as an adult is that I have to prioritize my expenses.  Would I rather have a new Louis Vuitton purse or go on a second vacation in a year?  Would I rather have a new fence installed in my backyard or go out to a grand dinner at a new hotspot?  You know you are an old person when your answer is: Fence!!  I want the fence!

Here are some of my favorite lessons on how to be frugal without being a cheap ass:

1.  Energy Saving = Money Saving.  Duh, right.  I remember when I was in elementary school they did this whole "energy awareness" thing where they  handed out books about a girl whose parents got mad at her because she always left lights on and left the water running when she was brushing her teeth.  What a bitch!  Now that I pay my own energy bills, I have converted all of my lights to CFL bulbs and try to keep lights off as much as possible.  Candlelight is so much more soothing.  I also turn the heat and air conditioning temps down (or up) at night and during the day while we are gone.  Right now, our heat goes down to 62 degrees at night and during the day and up to 68 degrees when we are at home in the evening and on weekends.  During the winter, this saves us about $50 per month.  Another thing that I try to do is unplug appliances when not in use.  This is one of those things that I often forget about, but apparently it can make a difference in your energy bill.  I've never noticed a huge difference when I've done this, though.

2. Desk lunch.  Bringing a lunch to work can be a real drag.  Sometimes I just don't feel like packing anything up and other days I just don't want to eat anything that we have in the house.  When I started wedding planning, I knew that I had to save money somehow and I resolved to only go out for lunch once a week.  I've stuck to this for at least a year and have to say that I can see the difference in my savings account.  It's still a struggle some days.  Eating at your desk can be lonely.  I live for that one day when I get to go to a restaurant and socialize.

3. Credit Card Rewards.  There are lots of credit card rewards programs that offer shoppers little incentives.  My credit card allows you to earn points towards travel vouchers or restaurant/clothing store/gas station gift certificates.  There are the famous airline credit cards for frequent fliers.  My husband's credit card has an amazing reward that for every $2500 you spend and pay off you get a $25 gift card.  We usually use these gift cards on our grocery bills and the combination of those gift cards and our wedding gift cards, we have paid maybe $20/week for groceries for the past three months.  It's definitely worth investigating all of the different reward programs to see if one will work for you.

4.  Pre-gift buying.  I start thinking about gift-giving way in advance of the celebration day.  For Christmas, I keep a list of people I need to buy for and ideas.  I usually start looking at this list in September and try to have ideas for everyone by October 1.  That way I can try to find the items on sale or take advantage of coupons.  I usually can get really great gifts on a limited budget.  I also utilize websites such as Rue La La and Groupon to stock up on gifts for birthdays or other occasions.  Having a stockpile of fun gifts for people makes my life a lot easier.

5.  Ebates.  If you don't use ebates, you are selling yourself short.  Har har.  Seriously, though, ebates is amazing.  Go to and sign up if you don't have an account with them.  There are hundreds of retail websites that use ebates and they each have a different percentage off.  So, if I want to buy something at JCrew, I got to ebates first, search for JCrew and go to the JCrew website through the ebates site.  Currently the JCrew website gets 3.0% cash back.  After you make your purchase, your ebates account is credited.  Every four months, a check is sent to your home with the total of your cash back.  After Christmas this year, I received $85 cash back because I did all of my shopping online.  It really pays off, as long as you don't forget to go to the ebates website first before you start your online shopping.  I have forgotten this dozens of times!

6.  Track your spending.  I don't really budget, but I have a set dollar amount that I want to save each month.  I then track every penny spent on a spreadsheet so that I can make sure I can save my goal.  For me, this makes me think about each purchase that I make.  Before I splurge on something, or even before I buy a $10 frame at Target, I have to stop and think about whether I really want it or whether I'd rather see an extra $10 saved that month. 

7.  Big box stores.  When Mike and I moved in together, we talked about getting a Sam's Club membership.  One of the big arguments against it was that why do two people need to buy things in bulk?  Eventually we got a membership and it has saved us a lot of money.  We buy all of our cleaning supplies, household necessities and more packaged foods (like oatmeal, granola bars, nuts, spices) at Sam's.  They are ridiculously cheaper than at other stores.  Plus, it saves me from a lot of extra trips to Target.  I used to have to go to Target at least once a week for some household item, now I go to Sam's maybe once a month. 

8.  Spare change.  Mike and I have a central spot where we dump our spare change.  It's a big tupperware bowl in our spare bedroom.  Once that sucker gets full we take it to the bank and cash it in.  Usually it's about $70+ and we maybe take it to the bank twice a year.  What we've done in the past is take it in right before we go on a vacation and use it as spending money. 

Those are my (not so) original ways that I save my pennies.  The only thing I love more than watching my bank account grow is a chocolate frosted donut.