Thursday, June 30, 2011

June recap

Recap of June's to-dos

Reading: - didn't read all the books on the list, but read some that weren't.
-Finish 7 books - mostly things that are wished for on Paperback Swap:
     -Book 3 of George R.R. Martin series
     -Book 4 of George R.R. Martin series
     -All the Names, by Jose Saramago (recommended by Allison)
     -Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress, by Debra Ginsberg
     -School of Dreams: Making the Grade at a Top American High School, by Edward Humes
     -A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America, by David K. Shipler
     -The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes: And Other Surprising True Stories of Zoo Vets and Their Patients (I'm finally going to finish it, honest!)
     -Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America's Premier Mental Hospital, by Alex Beam

Work outs: Fail.
-Ride my bike 100 miles total
     -Progress: 12.7/100
          -6/13 12.7 miles, 1:07

Sewing: Okay, so I didn't finish anything that I started, really, but I got another project started, which has a deadline of sooner than the rest...and bought a new sewing machine! :D
-Sew together all hexes for K - Sandwich made - started HAND QUILTING!?
-Pin half-square triangles for A- Finish pressing them. Pin into rows (about 2/5 of the way sewn!).
-Find more fabric for boys: bought apple for back of T, bought striped flannel for ??
-Finish PJ shorts
-Finish shower curtain - bathroom still isn't finished, so I can't measure how long it's supposed to be because the curtain rod cannot be hung yet.
-Start gift quilt number FIVE. OMG. (fabrics picked - design picked - fabric cut (started 6/28) - strip made - strip sewn into top)

Working: I've actually done MUCH better with keeping up with Dan's work. Hopefully he'll pay me soon.
-Keep up with binders for Dan - no more than three day turn-around: Why am I such a failure at this? Oh yeah, because I barely get enough pay to justify bringing his crap home. - doing better! note to self: continue doing this on Tuesdays, when I know he won't be at his computer in the evening.
-Schedule next day off (6/13)

Gardening: We got some done. The side garden's mostly done, I've been keeping up with weeding the parts that people can see, and Jeff's been starting his portion of the yard work.
-Finish weeding side garden - sort of accomplished - enough that I'm going to cross it off. Because that makes me feel better.
-Weed garden along front parking area
-Weed back garden - attempt not to make fence fall over in the process
-Get Jeff to finish using the string trimmer in the side yard, back yard
-Get Jeff to dig out front mimosa tree, side mimosa tree, weird thing between garage and fence, thing next to garage, weird thing along back fence. - In progress, now that proper tool has been acquired! - need to borrow chain saw.
-Give agave and cactus plants away on Freecycle - he's come and dug out three of the six agaves so far, hooray. Supposedly will be back.

Home Improving: This didn't go as well as expected because Mark didn't get to start as soon as I'd hoped, but we did the important part - getting the washer and dryer installed!!!
-Save up money. And then save up some more.
-Bathroom remodel: - Mark to start work 6/6!? - Most importantly, the washer and dryer have been installed - YES. The rest of the work will have to wait until after Mark comes back from his vacation - so these will all get bumped to July.
     -Have Mark complete work (installing/fixing outlets, install light switch, install drain/hot water line for washer, dryer vent!) - Mark left on vacation, so...soon.
     -Purchase outside light, have Mark install outside light
     -Repair area of wall that was opened to do Mark's work with scrap drywall
     -Repair window area in wall
     -Purchase globes for light fixture, install light fixture
     -Get rid of shitty looking texture in room
     -Prime, paint walls
     -Buy baseboard, paint, cut, install
     -Come up with some sort of solution for area under the sink
-Find, frame, hang up diplomas

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I enjoy doing this, because I'm lame, so you get to bear with me.

Last month Jeff and I spent $236.86 on groceries and achieved a savings percentage of 39.05%.

This month, thanks in large part to the great "buy eight of these certain groups of items, which includes lots of things you use and stock up on, then get an additional $0.50 off of each individual item" sale that Safeway had in the middle of the month...

We spent $256.84, but saved $210.20, for a savings percentage of 45.01%!! Hooray!

This brings our three months savings total to...


That's the equivalent of me working an extra...three and a half work days.

That's a lot. :)

Alternative income sources

I want more money.

Well, I mean, everyone does...I'm just trying my darndest to acquire it. I have a second, veryvery part-time job doing data entry. I do the Crowd Tap thing, which gets me free stuff and (slowly) Amazon gift cards. I've been using Fat Wallet for purchasing stuff for work, and for any website my Mastercard and Discover cards don't already offer cash back for. I'm getting back into Swagbucks.

I'm considering selling an organ.

Just kidding.

Anyway, it never feels like enough, yanno? Every month has had its big expense. April was car insurance, and that comes around again in October. June was the bathroom repair. July will be the rest of the bathroom repair and the one student loan payment I have to make for Jeff before it goes deferred again. August will be our vacation and Jeff's textbooks.

It never ends.

Anyone need any data entry work done? Do you have any "side job" type things? What do you do?


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book 27: School of Dreams

Book 27: School of Dreams: Making the Grade at a Top American High School, by Edward Humes

The first book of Humes's that I read was his mid-90s No Matter How Loud I Shout, which discussed the juvenile court system in Los Angeles. The professor of the juvenile justice class I took assigned it so that we could get a better feel for the realities facing children involved with the justice system in the United States.

School of Dreams, while thorough in its investigative journalism, didn't offer the same personality that NMHLIS did. The book offers an in-depth look at Cerritos, California's Whitney High, which has for many years been the top-ranked public high school in the country (though some ranking systems discount it because it does operate as a semi-magnet school).

The focus of the book is the struggle: of the school itself, to remain open despite a hostile political climate; of the students, mostly Asian, who have to endure all the pressures that come along with being so bright in such a competitive environment; and the teachers, who have to deal with the school, the students, the parents, and the task of teaching through it all.

Humes follows a handful of students, documenting their struggles - the girls who love art, but whose parents are set on them being doctors, for example. While he does a good job of it, I think that this viewpoint is perhaps a bit tired. I think I've read a few of these sorts of books before, though, so it's my fault, perhaps. :)

Book 25-26 - A Feast for Crows

As mentioned before, I've been reading some monstrous books that are best (I think!) counted as multiple texts.

Book 25-26: A Feast for Crows, by George R.R. Martin

Oh, Martin. The first three books in your A Song of Ice and Fire series have been amazing. Brilliant characters, fascinating plots and sub plots and details that made my head sing, particularly upon re-reading.

But I don't think I will read A Feast for Crows again, unless you torture us by taking another five year hiatus between volumes.

The point-of-view characters I'd come to love are largely gone! Who are these new people, and why should I care about them? Where are Bran, Jon, and Tyrion? What's going on at the Wall, and Beyond? The POV characters we do get don't know, so neither do the readers.

This is not to say that the book does not have its good points - we learn more about certain characters and their motivations, and watch one in particular grow quite a bit over the latter half of the novel; I don't exactly like this person now, but I can understand his motivations more.

By the time the book was over, I wasn't even sure that I'd *read* the book before! (Now, Dianna, don't fret - you'll like the book - I just think I was unprepared for how different this book was from the first three. Not a bad different, just one I wasn't ready for).

How many more days until A Dance with Dragons is released, shipped, and at my door!?!?!? It can't come soon enough!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stephanie's Crowdtap / Old Navy Shorts Sample Share

If I haven't bragged about it before now, Crowdtap is a pretty awesome website - you sign up, answer questions, and get free Amazon giftcards or even free stuff! (If you wanna sign up based just on that, here's a link!)

The most recent sample share I joined was for Old Navy shorts. I expected to get coupons for free shorts, like the ones I'd gotten in the past for jeans. Wrong! The coupon was for not only free shorts, but also a free shirt AND accessory! Wow! I was super excited to participate in this one, since the coupon didn't limit me to a certain style of shorts like previous shares.
What are those ruffles??

Old Navy's summer collection left a LOT to be desired, unfortunately. There were a lot of shirts like this with weird ruffles that looked like the manufacturer was trying to use up leftover scraps. Some had this ruffly stuff down the front, as if to accentuate your boobs (??) or around the sleeves, where all it would've done is make flabby arms look bigger. :( 

We went up and down the aisles several times looking for shirts that weren't atrocious! There were cardigans - for summer? Here!? It was 100 degrees the day we went shopping! - in the UGLIEST colors - like silver or gold, with metallic thread--they felt like Barbie clothes. Bleck.

For our shirts, we both chose basic tank tops - mine a cami with built-in bra, hers a plain white one like this.Old Navy tanks are always in style, and definitely a staple in my wardrobe, so I was glad to get a color I didn't have!

Shorts were tough, too. Lots of fall colors. We're supposed to be wearing bright colors and light fabrics, not orange plaid disasters. So many were also really short, or had unflattering butt pockets - which might be fine for smaller sizes, but not necessarily for us. 

We were happy to find a few styles of Bermudas. Tamera can wear shorts this length to work, so she snagged this brown pair, while I got denim ones. Unfortunately, my Old Navy was out of stock on the lighter color. Boo! I have them on right now - they're a good weight for cooler days, but not so much for the reeeally hot ones. The stretchy material makes them thicker than you'd want on a 100+ degree day..

Last we accessorized. I was hoping to get a good belt, but the coupons also said we couldn't get anything that was on clearance - drat! The thicker belts were all marked down; I guess those were all for spring. I ended up getting a cute hat, similar to this one. I wore the hat today while working in my garden - it was nice to have the sun off my neck while I worked!

Tamera, though? Totally scored! She found this great pair of sneakers - in her size, one of the last pairs left! They were much cuter in person, don't worry. She said they weren't something she'd normally have gotten for herself, but since they were free, she decided to try them!

The best part of the trip was DEFINITELY check out! We handed over our items - mine came to about $35, Tamera's to over $65!!! - and didn't have to plunk down our credit cards! Free stuff is always the best! I haven't heard back from the other two friends that I gave coupons to, but I'm sure they'll be just as thrilled as Tamera and I were to get such great stuff! Thanks, Old Navy and Crowd Tap!


I gave one of the coupons to a friend of mine and she had this to say, after her shopping trip and reading my report:

I totally agree about the frills and ruffles - what's with the 80s being back? Guess everything old is new again. I did pick up this shirt, though, which is made of a super soft fabric - definitely good over a tank or a bikini by the pool! The colors were really fun and cheery, which was nice to see when some of the other clothes were dreary. 

I got some flip flops with a cute pattern and Bermuda shorts like you guys did, because the length seemed better :) Thanks so much for sharing!!! I'll definitely look at joining up with Crowdtap!

Ideas brewing

So I have this lame idea. Well, I don't think it's lame.

Anyway, if you've been keeping up with my book "review" posts, you have read about how much I adore George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books (the ones that have given rise to the amazing Game of Thrones series on HBO). The world Martin has created is SO detailed. Books three and four include listings of all important living/recently deceased members of each house...

Along with drawings of what their sigils look like. Martin also uses the sigils as buttons on his website, as seen here.


A quilt, four blocks long by three blocks wide, each block featuring the sigil and the words of one of the major houses: Arryn, Baratheon, Greyjoy, Lannister, Martell, Stark, Targaryen, Tully, and Tyrell, as well as three minor ones, like maybe Tarth... or a block, solid black, for the Night's Watch, with their oath embroidered?

Their oath goes like this:

"Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fi re that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honour to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all nights to come."


It will come down to artwork, I think. The sigils on Martin's website are detailed but tiny; the ones that HBO has provided, like this one for House Tully, are simpler, but perhaps not as accurate as I've envisioned:

So we'll see. I like the idea, myself, but I'm a nerd. :)