Happy Merry

A week spent in the mountains makes my heart happy and my life slow down.
Cheers to a fabulously relaxing vacation where I left the house 3 times in a week to go to antique shops and the grocery store. The drive home may not have been to wonderful but an extra 3 hours in the car is a small price to pay for such snowy bliss this xmas.

This was the scene under our tree before I packed up all the shiny gifts and managed to fit them in 3 boxes - one that we were taking over to Meggan and Ben's so it could go to Sarasota in our absence.

The early drive

EG in the car

Obligatory road trip car photo

The first snow we saw in South Carolina

Finally in Tennessee. Early, meet your cousin Bethany.

Hates the beach, loves the snow.

Every morning on the breakfast table, at least three kinds of home made jam.


The last morning of free roaming

Hi Florida, after three extra hours on the road we're home.

I love a vacation that is full of food and naps and movies. We spent a lot of time just relaxing with my brother and Kathryn - drinking the xmas gin and playing apples to apples.

side note: My brother and I are now so similar that we both gave our dogs red hoodies for the cold, gifted each other the same bottle of gin (Hendrick's), bought woodland animal dog toys for the girls, brought Apples to Apples to play together, and then Kathryn picked out the exact blush I already love and use for us both. We win.

So many sweets and snacks and really, I wish I could stay for weeks at a time. The peanut butter chocolate pretzel sandwich things were the biggest hit of my treats. Oh, and my dad couldn't get enough of the rocky road brownies. I'm glad I didn't make chocolate popcorn as Erin and Craig sent up a great big bag along with other goodies from Deb's chocolate shop. Things like dark chocolate berry bark and gingerbread toffee. My mom outdid herself too with 7-layer bars, 4 kinds of oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies and a lot more.

Let's just say I'm making a cake to bring to work for tomorrow and I won't be eating any of it. My teeth are choco-ed out.
I can't wait to ring in the new year - now to see what's going on around town!



Good things are happening again.

Or, the bad things have stopped because we've accepted them and are working past it. It's hard to tell sometimes. Whether the storm of crap has ended and that's why it's easier to breath, or if it's because you started looking beyond the now and the universe follows your lead.

I smiled a lot more last week. Collin worked in Orlando Monday night through Wednesday and I used the nights to pump out the xmas ornaments we're gifting family and friends. Productivity really helps to bring me out of a slump.
Then a spontaneous ladies' night at 101 with the girls Thursday melted a little stress from the week and started off a weekend of relaxed company.
Bonfire and beers with the dogs at Cindy's Friday night and after a busy Saturday daytime (errands, work, errands, enameling) she came over to our place and we watched Fight Club on TV and did nothing. It was great. Even got to hang out with Collin after he got out of work because I was still awake!

I finally got Dave Ramsey's book in at the library, too. Picked it up while I was out running those errands on Saturday (like dropping off an etsy order at the post office).

Crap. Now we have to actually start doing the real work.

Good timing though - at least more this week than the last. I think if this book had come in in the thick of financial stresses I might have been a bit overwhelmed and emotional to read it properly (aka without extreme guilt and self-loathing). However, in a better space I realized that we are alright. From reading a little about the baby steps we managed to accomplished #1 ($1000 savings) a long time ago and it turns out the debt snowball was what we were already doing. Well look at that. I will say that we were tested by this last months emergencies - real ones like vet bills and necessary car repairs - and got discouraged. It's nice to have $1000 in savings but what do you do when all your emergencies in a two week span total double that amount? Cry. If you're me. Also if you're me you break the cardinal rule and put some of that shit on those credit cards you hadn't used in about 6 months (Dammit!) so that after xmas you can start the new year off by paying off those newest charges asap before getting back to baby step #1.

I'm constantly having to remind myself that we just started this process and we're so young. When I do, I am super stoked on our potential. We're still 5.5 years from 30. Finishing step 3 (the real emergency fund of 6 mo. expenses) is the goal and hopefully with motivation we can also save up a hefty home down payment with a great rate on a 15 year mortgage.
Who really knows though, right?

I'm determined but I'm still a little anxious about "living like no one else now...".
Some of his more radical ideas I just can't swallow for ourselves. Like, we could sell Collin's drums, but really? No effing way. And if we do that and sell some furniture we could move into a littler apartment but it's the same deal.
I'm not there yet (if I ever will be). I want to stay here because I think it's unfair to have a large dog in too small a space and we have too many benefits that aren't monetary. Like access to the Thomas Center for dog walking, great neighbors that help us not have to board Lucky when we travel, a utility bill half paid for by our landlord in exchange for letting her use our address as her own, updated (safer) plumbing/hvac/fireplaces and do you know how much it costs to move? A lot.
Most of it though, we're going to do.
Some expenses will just have to go - like the "credit protection" I have on my amex and vices we simply do not need to keep feeding. We need to keep better track of our stuff - Collin especially with tips and freelance, his variable income. We have to know exactly what we have so we can make sure to live well within our means. I have to be better about the budget, too. It's all to easy to say that I can spend extra at the grocery store because we're eating out less this month but if I don't do the math and don't move the money, it won't happen. It will all just over spend.

We're also lucky that we've been able to provide for ourselves in unexpected ways this year. Just this past couple weeks when we're really struggling, I make 4 sales on Etsy and Collin gets a fat stack of subpoenas. Maybe I won't get those prescription sunglasses right at xmas, but I'll get them sometime and I want more to be out of debt than anything else right now.

January will see a lot of mint.com and spreadsheeting, I tell you what.
Much love to the coming 2010

(much love to my 100th post)