Monday, January 31, 2011

lesson learned.

On Friday night, Ryan and I drove up to Chico to see the Hot Tar Roofers perform, and visit our beloved college town.  We left right after I got off work, and with the heavier-than-expected traffic, we didn't get up to Chico until 8pm.  We checked in, met up with a few friends, then went over to Scott's gig.

I had brought our camera and my new lens, and was so excited to test it out.  The lighting was great, and there was space for me to move about.  I went to take my first shot, and lo and behold, I had left my memory card at home. Crap.  I had never done this before, but with my recent photo-backup event, I had forgotten to put the card back in.

The minute I got home, I took one of our 4GB SD cards, put it in the plastic protector, and threw it in my change holder in my wallet. So this situation would never happen again.


I was bummed I couldn't use my camera, as I was sure the weekend would bring many photo opportunities.  Oh well. Lesson learned.

We had a nice Saturday breakfast, then saw one of my friends and left around 1:00PM.  It was nice to get out of town- just wish I had some non-iPhone photos to show for it!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

so why the elephants?

My dad asked me the other day as to why we had elephants as our blog background.  No, it does not have to do with any political ties, but has to do with Ryan.

Growing up, Ryan's favorite animal was an elephant.  When I asked him why, he doesn't really have a good answer.  So who knows where this came from.

In any case, he was an elephant lover.  The picture below from Spain is evident that he still is.



But, my sister decided it was the funniest thing, and over the years has given him countless elephant gifts.  It's a tradition you could say.

From Angela!


And, as the years go by, I think they are just darn cute- and they make me think of Ryan (aw).  So now I have an eye for elephant goods.

They also symbolize luck, and who doesn't need that from time-to-time.  But, from browsing around, here are some cute elephant items available:

Elephant place card holders for a fun par-tay-



Reusable wrapping paper, or a fun piece of fabric to craft something out of-


Lovely elephant good luck necklace from my favorite, Dog Eared-


And for a future bambino(a) [talking way future people] this adorable elephant pillow

Friday, January 28, 2011

let's save some money.

Back in 6th grade when I was a professional babysitter, my family was planning a trip to Disney World for the fall.  So that summer, I constructed an organizational center to save my money.  (Typical, I know).  I wanted to put money in my savings account, have some spending money, and save for our trip.  I took an old shoe box and glued in tabs with these labels and would spread the cash into each section.  Then when fall came, I had plenty-o-money to spend on mickey gear.

Fast-forward about 14 years, and I still follow this same concept.  Don't know what is scarier- being the same as I was in 6th grade, or that being 14 years ago.  My oh my.

In any case, I am all about sorting my money for saving.  Between Ryan and I, we have nine bank accounts.  Yes, you read that correctly, nine.  And no, they aren't offshore shady accounts.  Legitimate accounts (all of which are free by the way).  I won't bore you with the details for every account- but here are my favs:

Savings Account [For when life throws us lemons]
House Account [For our McMansion]
Mandatory Fun Account [To travel the world]
Oh Crap Account [For the fun, unexpected surprises]

These four are all through ING- which is totally free and gives you much more interest then your standard brick & mortar bank.  Right now it is around 1%, but a few years ago it was at 4%.  It basically follows the rate of inflation.  We totally recommend this bank- might as well make as much with a bank account as you can.  (If your interested, I can send you a link to sign up).

Why all the accounts?  Well this way we can save money, and it is earmarked for each category.  So when we went to Spain, we knew that it was ok to spend the money, because we had it.  Or, if we need new tires, we can pull from the Oh Crap account and not stress.  Essentially it takes the guilt out of using money that we saved, because let's face it, that happens.

Then, once an account is deflated, we know that it is a priority to allocate money to that account until it gets to a level we are comfortable with.  And, it is fun to watch the Mandatory Fun account grow, because that means we are that much closer to our next adventure.

So happy saving!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

mint?

I should really work for mint.com. Like, seriously.

I will blab and blab to anyone who will listen to me about mint.com- but only because I am so in love. Because it is so dang useful. And it's free.

So for those of you that I've already told. Sorry. And since I'm pretty sure my sisters and grandma (hey guys!) are the only ones that read this, my apologies.

So Ryan actually told me about mint first, and I hate to admit this. Because I like to be the cooler one of us. But he was, so kudos! So what you do is create an account, and enter all of your bank info.



And before you freak out, it is safe. Totally safe. They have the best security that you can, you can't take any money from your mint account, and if someone were to log in to your mint account, they wouldn't be able to see your log in and ids for your accounts. Oh, and it is the same company as Turbo Tax. So it's legit.

So now that we are past that, what is the point? Well it shows you how much money (or debt) that you have. You can track your spending and saving. So any time you use an account (credit cards, debit accounts, loans) it will show up in mint. It then organizes purchases into categories. So it knows when we go to Safeway, that is a grocery expense. Then, you can pull up each category and see what you are spending.

It was quite a day when we saw how much we were actually spending at Starbucks. Especially considering we are owners of a great espresso machine. It was an eye opener. We claimed to be savers, but once we got a mint account, we realized we definitely had room to grow.

You can also create an easy budget. I had tried doing this before in excel, but it was a pain. With mint, it is so easy- you don't have to do anything! (Except stick to it of course!)


I also get email alerts for low balances, when my paycheck clears, when bills are paid and for any odd purchases- which you could say makes it safer since someone/something is tracking that.

All in all, it is a great tool to keep you on top of your finances and I thought i'd share!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

recording can begin.

Ryan had a big day last weekend. Epic in his life. Probably on the level of meeting his wife in 10th grade. Yep, that big.



He is now the proud owner of these bad boys.



Ryan is a recording engineer. We can officially call him an engineer since he has a degree. And, he was in need of new monitors because his old ones busted. (Or so he says...)

So for Christmas our dear family and close friends rallied, and were generous in providing him gift cards and cash galore to be able to make this life-changing purchase.



And I couldn't be more proud of him because he was able to knock a few hundred off the price! Way to make a cheapskate proud!



The downside: these monitor/speakers are HUGE.



These are going to be a decorating and storage nightmare for the rest of my life. But at least the hubs is happy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

cast iron.

So way back when, when I was registering for our wedding, I spent a lot of time researching pots and pans.  I had read about how teflon isn't good for you (in case it flakes off in your food) and wanted top-quality cookware that I would have for a while (so I didn't have to keep rebuying equipment).  I ended up with a lovely set (Thanks Mordoff''s East) but had also looked into cast iron.  I had registered for a cast iron skillet to complement my set, but didn't get it.  And with more important things to buy, I hadn't gotten around to picking it up.

Last weekend Ryan wanted to cook dinner, and he made Cajun Chicken past via The Pioneer Woman. We've made it before, but something wasn't quite right.  In her recipe, she uses a cast iron skillet.  As we were reading the post to find what items we needed from the grocery store, I thought I'd head to target.com to see the cost of a skillet.  For a 10 incher, it was only $18 .  So Ryan went to Safeway to pick up the ingredients, and I went to Target to pick up the skillet.  (It's a few bucks cheaper at Amazon.)



It was like night and day.  The food was more flavorful and it really browned the chicken and vegetables well- it was amazing.



So the benefits?  Well it puts much-needed  iron into your food, doesn't leach chemicals, is naturally nonstick once it is well seasoned, it is a bargain but not a get-what-you-pay-for situation, and this thing will last a lifetime and gets better with age.  Seriously, my children are going to be fighting over who will inherit this sucker someday.

I'm exited to have this little guy in my home and look forward to making many-a-meals with it!

Monday, January 24, 2011

i got my new lens!

Within an hour of writing my post about wanting a 35mm lens, we trekked to Best Buy and found it!  We went with the intention of trying the lens out.  We usually go there when we are eyeing a lens, but then buy it online for cheaper.  We're cheapos, what'd going to do?  But, when we got there and found out it was in stock, for the same price as the cheapest online vendor- I was sold!  So we left Best Buy with a new toy!



We also went to Best Buy on the same day that David Bromstad of Color Splash (oh HGTV) was touring Best Buy's.  Who knew?  But- he was going to be an hour or so, and we didn't stick around.  Turns out I probably should have since the rest of my afternoon was uneventful.  Oh well.

But, I did play around with the new lens, and so far I am loving it.   I want to take it outside sometime within the next week before I decide to keep it. (I have no problem returning things.  Half of what I buy at Target ends of going back.)

Here are some mess around SOOC (straight out of the camera) shots.






Clearly we need nieces or nephews or friends to have kids because all of our photos are of Riley.  But, so far I think the lens is great, and you can't beat the price!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

back it up.

While there was something magical about film (mainly developing your film only to find your finger was in 1/2 the shots) it did provide you with added security with your pictures.  If you were smart enough to not store the photos in acid paper, then you had the original, the copy and the negative.  Three opportunities.  With digital, if you don't back them up, you have one.  And, with technology it is so easy to lose everything.  If you are like me, my life is on my computer.  So one fire or virus/computer glitch and life as we know it would be over.

As a chronic planner- the chance of losing my photos was waaaayy too risky.  So last year I devised a photo backup plan, which seems to be working well.

First, Ryan and I are mac users.  Because, let's face it, we are that cool.

With Macs, it has an integrated program called Time Machine.  It reminds you to backup your computer, and makes it super simple.  So, I picked up a top-brand external hard drive.  I saved some money by not getting a slim one, since I knew I wouldn't be taking the hard drive anywhere.



When I had my own place, I would plug the sucker in all the time.  Now, I try and do it every week, or right  before I do some major things on my computer.  While the time machine backup is great, it isn't perfect.  If you accidentally deleted photos a year ago, and your hard drive was full, it may not save them.

In enter my second hard drive.  Yes, I have two.  (And actually may get a third!)  So the sole job of my second hard drive is to store our original photo files.



I used to be able to have them all on my computer, but as we upgraded our cameras,  we found we took more photos and they have larger file sizes.  The hard drive is organized by my photos and Ryan's.  And I try to create folders with the date and details of the pictures of the folder.

But, we are not done quite yet.  Because, what if I am backing up my photos and my computer explodes along with my hard drive?  Well, I make backup CDs/DVDs too.  And while you may be thinking this is nuts.  It's not.  I swear.  So I have discs of each event/photo set.



Before I delete anything off my computer, I run the discs on Ryan's computer, and hook up the photo hard drive to make sure everything is working.  You'd be surprised how many times I've done this, and have found something wrong.

Now this insane amount of backing up is great and all, but you are probably thinking, well if there was a fire, all of the backup discs and hard drives would be toast.  And you are right.  This is where our fire safes come into play.

We went to Home Depot, Target and Costco last year to find a safe.  Most of them were huge, and very expensive.  We didn't have the space for the large ones.  But, they had a smaller briefcase version for $20.  So we bought two.



And they are great, they fit right under the bed in the guest room.



So one houses our hard drives, the other the discs and important docs like our passports and birth certificates.




Now I hate to admit that most of our photos live on my computer or hard drive, and are not printed.  I have made two photo books through blurb, one for our wedding and one for our honeymoon.  But, I am going to start to print a few photos from each event just so I have those too.  Because, you never know.

Lastly, I am going to look into online storage (box.net, dropbox.com).  These services charge per month, but then your files are online which is great if you have any hardware issues.

So, there you have it, how theMorblog backs it up!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

35 mm.

Yesterday I was perusing one of my favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman.  This lady is great- a wonderful cook, and takes top-notch pictures.  I was looking at her photography section, and read a blog post about her gear.

The Pioneer Woman shoots with a Nikon- so it was nice to see what she uses.  She mentioned that her new favorite lens is the 35mm 2.0F.  I immediately wanted one.

Check out the photos she took with it:



The lens allows you to get a lot in the picture, but with the low f-stop, it gives a nice bokeh.  LOVE IT!

And, I found a more affordable option, with a f1.8.  And, since it is the bees knees, it is out everywhere. So hopefully soon, I will own this lens!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

all grown up.

This kid







has not only gotten cuter as the years go by, and can bowl better than anyone I know, but is graduating this May!

And thanks to my trusty Southwest Visa, this girl is getting to attend the ceremony free.

See ya in May!

(Sorry for the pics bro, but believe me- it could have been worse.  Very worse : p  )

Monday, January 17, 2011

bills, bills, bills.

No, this is not about my Grandpa, dad and brother (ha!). But actual, lamesauce bills.

Back when I was a one girl show, and only had my few bills to pay, it was easy to keep it all straight. I knew when rent was due, when I was to pay off my Visa, and PGE. I think that was it. So easy!

But throw a husband and growing up into the mix, and more bills come. (I can only imagine what kids bring to the table. ugh.) When we said "I do" I inherited some guitars, more boxers than a man needs, and an additional set of credit cards. If you open our wallets, we look nuts. We each have a checking account, then our joint account. We each have our own c.c., and then one that we share. We also have an amex- but only for Costco. Then between att, cable, rent, gym membership...gosh knows what else, it gets confusing as to when things are due, and who is in charge.

It took us a while to get the swing of things (including a few negligent charges because we thought each other had taken care of that bill). So I thought I'd share how the hubs and I deal with the bills.

First off, we online pay. For everything. Even our Chipotle orders. It's how we roll, and we think it is safe. You just need a tricky password and rotate it from time to time. We also log in to mint.com all of the time (and when I say we, I mean me) to ensure no odd charges have come up.

Next order of business is Google docs spreadsheets. I've developed a recent love affair with google docs. From trip planning, to keeping lists, it's great. What we do is have a file called "Bills". Then I shared it with Ryan, so we each can contribute, save, and see what each other person has done.

Each tab is a month, and every month the same column is there (SW Visa, Rent, Cable, ATT, etc). The second column is the amount, the third the date paid, and the last is that confirmation number they give you. So when I pay the SW visa on the 17th, I open my google doc, put in the amount, the date and the confirmation code. Click save, and voilĂ ! Bill is paid.

We had tried an old school method of writing in down, and putting it in a folder. It was ok, but we found that when we paid something at work, or when we were out and about, we'd forget to log the payment. Thus making the whole system useless.

Lastly, we delegate. Ryan is responsible for x, y, z- me for a, b, c. But, in the event of an emergency, we each know the log-ins and passwords for everything.

This method allows us to know if something has been paid, and track trends of the payments. It seems to be working out really well for us- so I thought I'd share. Happy bill paying!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

purged.

I love organizing.  Love it.

An aspect of organizing that I love- purging.  It is somewhat nonsensical- getting excited about donating/recycling/landfilling things that you paid money for.  But I hate clutter.  I hate overstuffed drawers and closets. I hate it!

The January purge session sparked when I went to put our suitcases away.  They live above our coats in the closet, and I spotted a Target coat I bought in freshman year of college.  I think I wore it once.  Striking gold I grabbed it, threw it in a bag, and thus began our Q12011 "let's get rid of everything we own" spree.

Between all of our closets, rooms, drawers, and under the bed items we had an enormous pile going.  A pile that makes me smile.  And it isn't so I can buy more stuff.  No, no.  It is so I can fulfill my dream of having nothing under our beds, and closets where the hangers are 1/2 inch apart.  None of this shoved in nonsense that we've got going on.

So after two full weeks of assessing every nook and cranny, we have you the Mordoff donation pile:



Impressive isn't it?

Now, since we are house-hunting, and with luck on our side, we may be homeowners this year.  Which means we can deduct.  Finally.  So I have to make sure that we are meticulous about tracking our donations.  The last thing I want is an audit gone awry.

After a quick google search, I found this great site that shows you at what amounts you can value your items.  It basically comes down to what Goodwill could sell them for at their stores.  So all I will do is create a google doc spreadsheet (oh how I love google docs) and keep a 2011 inventory.  Then come tax time in 2012 I will honestly know what we donated.  Awesome.

So there you have it! Organize, purge, donate!

Friday, January 14, 2011

identity crisis.

Hold up- have you heard?  They’ve gone nuts and changed the astrological signs.

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16. 
Aquarius:
 Feb. 16-March 11. 
Pisces:
 March 11-April 18. 
Aries:
 April 18-May 13. 
Taurus:
 May 13-June 21. 
Gemini:
 June 21-July 20. 
Cancer:
 July 20-Aug. 10. 
Leo:
 Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30. 
Libra:
 Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29. 
Ophiuchus:
 Nov. 29-Dec. 17
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

I didn’t know this was open to change, but they have.  And I am the new “13th” sign.  Yikes. 

Sayonara Sagittarius, hello Ophiuchus (I have no idea how to pronounce this word).  Apparently it means is that I should have been a doctor.  What else is new?

Ryan is no longer a Taurus, but is now an Aries.

If you are a believer in astrological signs- I don’t quite understand how this whole change can occur.  I mean that changes everything.  Maybe this just means the world is coming to an end.  

Good thing I never caught on to the astrological bandwagon, or else I would have to sell all my Sagittarius gear.  Good news for the new Sagittarians, I bet you can score big on ebay!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

rough week.

I'd prefer to be happy, and a go-with-the-flow kind of gal.  Life's too short to sulk.

But, this week has been rough.  Not the world is going to end, and life as we know it is over kind of week.  Just, rough.  Because when it rains, it pours.

I'd like to start off saying I am a very lucky girl.

I have this wonderful husband:


a fun (but moody) cat:


and a wonderful family:


My sister is also coming to visit over President's day:


But, instead we've had a few disappointments.  We had put an offer on a townhouse.  And when you put an offer on a place you can't help but fall in love and picture yourself there.  Unfortunately, I had gone so far as to pick out how I was going to design and organize our pantry.  (It's sick, I know.)  So when our Realtor called to say the bank had decided to send the place to foreclosure, thus making our offer void, you could say I was disappointed.

Then yesterday I logged into mint.com account (my absolutely favorite website) and it offered the option to head to Turbo Tax to try out a tax calculator.  Just for fun, I pulled out our last paychecks of the year to see the damage.  And the news was far from welcome.  With no kids, no home, not being blind and over 65, the news was bad.  Very bad.  Yesterday we bid adieu to our trip savings account, instead needing to pass the funds to Uncle Sam.  We both went to work today, upped our 401Ks, dropped our allowances to 0 and will be reevaluating come Spring.

Seems that getting married sans kids and a home isn't a smart tax plan!

So today I went to Target and used my gift card (thank Scott!) to get a nice bottle of wine and hope that  we both wake up on the right side of the bed tomorrow!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

good things come in threes.

We love our cat, we really do.



But she sure can piss us off.  Literally.  She finds peeing on her bed/carpet/clothes/bedspreads/you name it, as a way to get back at us.  Once we were worried she was sick.  The vet calls it a "behavioral issue".  Either way, it's the pits.

And, finding a eco-friendly carpet cleaner that could knock-out that gnarly pet odor was hard.  Step in baking soda, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.  The trifecta of cleaners.  Since having to deal with the child, I've come to find what my grandmother's already knew- the power of these three ingredients.

From a weed killer, to a fresh flower saver- these three do it all.  I've found a few great sites with tons-o-tips on uses:

Baking Soda's the best!

Hooray for Hydrogen Peroxide!

Victorious vinegar!

Green guru Sophie Uliano, author of Gorgeously Green, made these great videos:





Cheap and effective way to do oh-so-many things?  I'll take it!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

my love affair with costco.

Happy New Year!  Hope your 2011 is getting off to a great start.  Life is back normal for these three which includes early nights, too much tv and being bitten by Riley.  Fun stuff!

In any case, yesterday after work I went to Costco to look for a shirt.  When I go to Costco on a mission I usually browse around, for shits and giggles.  Plus,  I think Costco is a great place to get in a mini workout. I walk far more there then I do at work or at home.

As I was rounding the corner to the fruits and vegetables area I glanced to my right at the t.p. and paper towels section.  Which is odd.  I had given up hope.  See, in Chico Ryan and I found our most favorite find: recycled paper t.p. and paper towels.  It was the best.  Not only was it priced more economically then its counterparts, but the stuff lasts forever and is surprisingly soft.  Basically what heaven would be like for me- an earth friendly deal.  Done.

But, our crowded and teeny tiny Costco didn't carry it.  It was almost enough to make us move back to Chico.  Seriously.

So yesterday I almost squealed with excitement as I saw our beloved paper products.



Yep, and even the plastic is recycled.  It's that good.

Beyond my strange obsession with bath tissue and paper towels, Costco carries a ton of other things that I've grown to love and can't live without.  A few years back I read Gorgeously Green (seriously life changing for me).  Since then I try when I can to buy any product that goes on my body to be free of a few certain nasty chemicals. But- I didn't want to compromise smelling clean and being confused with a hippie.  I like to call it eco-chic.  I'm conscious, but not over-the-top.  In any case, Costco has really aided in my quest.  I'm able to get my shampoo, great makeup, toothpaste, body wash and much more without the questionable chemicals.  And the great thing is they are priced the same.  So I figure if I can get a great eye shadow without talc and parabens- for the same price as one with, I might as well give it a try.  And so far, all of my new products have been great!



So there you have it- a Monday made great by t.p. (only in my world)!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...