Monday, February 28, 2011

Me Versus The World

I consider myself to be pretty capable. I kill my own bugs, I am aware of how to change a tire (all thanks toa an 8 hour roadtrip involving 2 flat tires), I hang my own pictures on the wall, I have moved myself out of & into numerous living spaces... I've managed on my own just fine for a while now. This weekend further proved that I am fully capable of doing things all. by. my. self.

Exhibit A: Busted headlight. Normally I would just pop on over to PepBoys, bat my little eyelashes, and they'd fix it for me just for the cost of the bulb. But I-Can-Do-It-Katie refused to subject myself to that. Instead, I just knew I could fix my headlight myself. With my little man in tow, we went to the car store, bought a new lightbulb, went back in to make sure we actually bought the right one, and took the bulb home. Well, took the bulb to my friend's house. Then I had a brilliant idea...while yes, I am perfectly capable of fixing this little problemo myself, things are just better when a man does it. So I asked my pal to fix it for me. Plus, men get all giddy when helpless damsels in distress ask them to do things.

He flexed his muscles, went inside, got his screwdriver, and set to work fixing my lightbulb. 2 minutes later, it was fixed! Hooray! Then we got home, and it wasn't quite as fixed as I thought. As in, the light still didn't turn on. Fail. But guess what? I-Can-Do-It-Katie opened the hood of the car, wriggled the lightbulb, and guess what? I can now legally drive after dark.

Katie - 1, Car - 0

Exhibit B: I think this was more sheer luck & damnit I want this and I want it now than anything else. I bought a TV. I've been talking about and thinking about buying a TV for a long time. Then, the same friend mentioned previously & I were talking about TV's and which one I should buy and he casually mentioned that last year the grand prize at his company party was a TV. Cool! And how funny would it be if he won the TV this year?

2 hours later, I got a text message that said "Guess what? I won the TV." And 2 months later I got a text message that said, "You still shopping for a TV?" Yes, yes, & yes! So Saturday was the day I picked up the beautiful 47" LG Plasma television in all it's glory. It barely fit in the back of the car, and my little helper was being not so helpful. Neither were my muscles (or lack thereof). But I'll be damned if I wasn't taking this sucker home & putting it up on the TV stand immediately. Before I left my friend called out "Call me if you need help getting it inside or anything!" I smiled and laughed and under my breath said, "Over my dead body!" Then we got home. And then I realized that it was me & a 9 year old that were somehow going to get this TV that I could barely lift myself out of my car, up 2 flights of stairs, and into my condo without a) busting the TV or b) busting ourselves.

Guess what? I did it. The TV is sitting proudly on the TV stand in my living room. Nevermind that I left all the cables at my friend's house...the TV is where the TV should be.

I'm going to continue alternating between ice & heat on my back & shoulders, and I don't think my 9 year old helper will ever volunteer to "help" me again.

Katie - 1, TV - 0

That puts me up 2 for the weekend, and I'd say that is a success!

Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day Cleaning Extravaganza

One of the many, many, perks of my not-so-new job is that I get today off. I had big plans for today, and they did not involve sitting in bed until 10:30 reading Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks, nor did they involve moving to my couch and curling up under my leopard print snuggie only to get sucked in by work emails and Gchat. Nope, I had big plans for today. Wanna know what they were? (2nd update at 6pm; 1st update at 1:20pm; original post at 10:30am)
  • Unload dishwasher
  • Put dirty dishes that are in the sink into the dishwasher
  • Take all things that don't belong on kitchen counters and move them to dining room table
  • Sanitize kitchen counters
  • Sanitize nook table
  • Dust living room
  • Dust dining room
  • Vacuum living room, dining room, & kitchen
  • Mop living room & dining room
  • Mop kitchen
  • Take out the trash
  • Take out the recycling
  • Dust bedroom
  • Wash sheets
  • Put away clean clothes
  • Vacuum bedroom floor
  • Clean bathroom counters
  • Mop bathroom floor
  • Cook my mom's chicken and dumplings
  • Bake peanut butter cookies
  • Apply leopard print fingernails
  • Bathe? (this one is debatable)
  • Not fall asleep in my food when I go to dinner at 8:30 (who goes to dinner at 8:30? on a work night? I am a grandma)
  • Get a haircut (these pictures are from a long time ago, when I was a totally different person, and it's funny how something as simple as a haircut can really make a girl run wild!)

Clearly I have big plans for today, and there's only so much I can do in the next 9 hours while also not falling asleep in said food at said way too late dinner. I'm off to probably keep snuggling with my snuggie and quite possibly watching television and staring longingly at the pile of dishes I can see from the couch. Maybe my roommate will come home from work with a housekeeper? In my comfy-couch dreams!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Last year on Valentine's Day I sat on my couch "snowed in" and posted about my imaginary honeymoon. It's still as imaginary as it was last year, in case you were wondering.

This year on Valentine's Day I had big plans to come home after work, cook myself a really yummy dinner, drink wine, and sit on my couch watching Gossip Girl. And probably looking into potential honeymoon locations, if I know me. I emailed one of my friends to invite her along on my single woman adventures, and she said "No thanks! I'm going to give blood!"
Ding ding ding! So, guess what I did on Valentine's Day? I hopped in the car with my amiga and we went to the Midtown Donation Center to give blood. There weren't many people there, so we didn't have to wait too long or anything. 1 hour and we were done! And we felt awesome! And I am not going to tell a lie, I still came home and ate an awesome dinner and drank delicious wine. I just also drank water, too. Do as I say, not as I do, ok?

Giving blood is something I tried to do as often as I could when I was in college. My dad has blood that the Red Cross wants in a bad way, so I remember being little and him giving blood all the time. When he was diagnosed with cancer, they decided his blood was no good. Fair enough. But I always said I would continue giving blood the way my dad did. Considering I am AB+, my blood donation is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy (AB+ can only be given to AB+) which always inspires clever jokes from my friends about my selfish, self-centered tendencies, all the way down to my blood type.

This morning that same friend sent me a link to American Red Cross Racing. I'm not entirely sure what this does, but it seems like they're advertising being rewarded for giving blood, which is something I was planning to do anyway, so I'll take the rewards!

If anybody needs a blood-donating-buddy, I'm your gal! I don't get squirmy, and I have teeny tiny veins so it's always a spectacle trying to find one that will work, and I'll challenge you to a race to see who can fill up the bag faster. (Barring any vein complications, I guarantee I'll win!)

The next time I can donate is early April. Who's coming?!

PS - Thanks, E :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Operation: Budgeting


That's what I think when I start thinking about budgeting.

Ugh, ugh ugh.

It's not fun, it's not easy, it's not glamorous. But, it's necessary. I know for me, getting started was the hardest part. Now that I have a process and know exactly where my money is going to be at any given moment, it's much easier to keep my spending in check. But those first few months of paychecks and arbitrary spending were brutal.

This isn't necessarily instructions as much as it is Katie's Guide to Budgeting Success. What works for me may not work for you. As some background info, I get paid twice a month via direct deposit into my checking account, I pay my credit card bill once a month out of my checking account, and I pay rent and utilities once a month.

Step 1: Create an account on and put in the time to categorize your expenses for the last 3 months. Mint will create categories for you or you can create them on your own, and then you can see your average spending for those categories. This helps you budget realistically. It's easy for me to say "I am going to spend $50 at the grocery store a month" but the reality is, I was spending $200. Re-working my budget was the first step to success.

Step 2: Determine how much of your take home salary you would like to save. I currently have 50% of my take-home salary immediately transferred into my savings account. That doesn't mean it stays there, because I don't think I can live comfortably on 50% of my salary, but by not having it immediately available in my checking account I am more aware of my spending habits.

Step 3: I have all my paycheck deposited into my checking account, but the Monday after my paycheck goes through, I have either 1/3 or 2/3 automatically transferred into a savings  account.

Step 4: Set up all your monthly payments to be deducted automatically. I have set up my rent payment to be mailed on the 1st of every month. I have a payment set up to pay a certain amount towards my credit card bill monthly. Sometimes this is an overpayment, and sometimes it's an underpayment. However, it's my target amount for what I have budgeted to spend monthly. I pay my utlities and my rent at the same time, but you can do the same with utilities, and any other expenses you know you will incur on a monthly basis.

Step 5: Calculate your monthly take home pay, and subtract out what you have budgeted for. For me, I would subtract the amount I pay towards my credit card bill and my rent/utilities. The rest of that money is what I am actually saving.

When I signed up for, I created budgets and I know what they are for various categories (grocery shopping, dining out, nails, hair, car repair, travel, etc). I put all of my purchases on a credit card, and the amount I pay towards that each month is what I have budgeted total for all of my expenses. So, even though I didn't spend $100 on traveling in January, I included that in my budget, because I did budget to spend $300 every 3 months.

What about you -- how do you budget? Do you have a spreadsheet? Do you keep track of your spending at all? Do you feel like you are constantly reigning yourself in, or do you spend exactly how you want and still maintain a good budget for yourself?

I'm so curious how other people do it! I know I am constantly checking myself and forcing myself to dig a little further into the freezer rather than going out, or finishing up an old bottle of lotion before going out to buy a new one. So share with me your budgeting tips and tricks!

 PS - I have a jar exactly like this that I keep all my spare change in! It came from one of my best friends from middle school! Does that make me a packrat? It's always sat on my dresser, for as long as I can remember! My friend wrote little notes on pieces of paper outlining all the "blonde" things I did. I guess saving money isn't necessarily blonde, but I'm excited to see how much $$ is in there when I finally empty it out!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

leopard print

I have acquired all of the following things in 2011. That's 6 weeks. 
That's 1 leopard print item per every 2 weeks. 

And yes....

Disclaimer: These aren't mine, and I don't remember where I found the picture! I have a pair that are verrrrrry similar from Fab'rik!
 A second pair of flats. I HAVE A PROBLEM!

I am the furthest thing from fashion forward basically... ever, so am I incredibly behind the times? Do I need to keep my leopard print flats and my shirt and all my other leopard print things hidden at home with my snuggie?

Speaking of, I really hope that snuggie isn't getting tossed out by my roommate with my extra fabric.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mission: Save My Sunglasses

Sunday morning, while I wasn't slaving over a hot stove making buffalo chicken dip, I was entrenched in my newest sewing project. Nevermind that it took me two tries to get it right, I got it right and I'm obsessed.

Anybody have any glasses they need a little pocket for? I'm in the market for customers!
Can you see the SCRATCH?!

Attempt #1 - Fail. I forgot to sew the top together before sewing the sides. 

1. Measure felt that will fold over the sunglasses.

2. Cut fabric to match size of felt. 

3. Discard excessive amounts of extra fabric. Leave them on your dining room floor for approximately 7 days and hope that your roommate doesn't kick you out. 

4. Sew the felt & the fabric together on one side. 

5. Get your bobbin tangled approximately 98039248 times. Scream. Threaten to throw the sewing machine out the window. Then re-thread your bobbin 98039248 times. 

6. Consult your trusty tutorial. 

7. Sew on the felt decoration if you must. 

8. TA DA! 
Happiest sunglasses I've ever seen!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Let me tell you the following 2 facts about myself:

1. I hate beans. Black beans, pinto beans, blech. It doesn't deter me from eating Willy's, but I really really hate beans.
2. I love dips. I love buffalo dip, artichoke dip, crab dip... if it has ingredients such as 1 bag shredded cheese, 2 blocks cream cheese, and 1 jar ranch dressing, consider me in love.

I passed around my buffalo chicken dip recipe a few weeks ago for Super Bowl parties, and I got a ton of feedback telling me how great it was. But I didn't make it for myself, because, well, again... recipes that include 2 blocks of cream cheese and 1 bag of shredded cheese are not exactly healthy.

A while ago, Angela inspired me to substitute food processed beans for cheesy things. First I added pureed navy beans to a crockpot soup fail. It failed, so I never got to determine if the beans were a good or a bad thing. Then, I started thinking that I really wanted a healthier version of buffalo chicken dip. It is a staple at parties and meetings and honestly, I've yet to find someone who makes it better than I do (although that's because when I make it, I can include exactly what I want!)

Sunday morning, I woke up bright and early. I got to work sewing my sunglasses case. Then, I decided it was late enough in the morning (10am) to start boiling chicken and mixing together beans and ranch and Frank's hot sauce. Yep.

I had already soaked & cooked the beans per the instructions on the bag and they were just waiting in my fridge. I scooped out 1.5 cups of pureed beans and dumped those in the food processor. Then I added 3/4 cup of fat free ranch dressing. I started the food processor, and slowly added the last 1/3 of a bottle of Frank's red hot sauce. I have no idea what the actual measurement was, and you're lucky I bothered to measure the other 2 ingredients.

With that mixture sitting nicely in my food processor, I started to boil 2 chicken breasts. Some people would use canned chicken in buffalo chicken dip, and to that I say, I am not a cat and I do not eat things that smell like canned chicken smells. Yuck. I boil chicken breasts, wait for them to cool (or not) and shred them. It's the way real buffalo chicken dip is made, I'm telling you.

Mix the chicken and the saucy beany goodness. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Bake in oven for 20 minutes at 350.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

I bought these while I was in Florida over Christmas.

Smith Sport Optics Sunglass SC Cookie Tort S-COPPBRTT

They came with a nifty little pink case just like the ones below that I diligently kept them in so they didn't get scratched.

Well, somewhere between opening presents and playing with the dog I misplaced my nifty little sunglasses case. So tonight while the rest of the world is celebrating Valentine's Day and/or drinking some bubbly, I'll be at home in my snuggie sewing a glasses pouch (or 5) a la this tutorial combined with this tutorial.

my second project!
 How freaking adorable is that? I'll report back when I'm all done. In the meantime, I hope the rest of you enjoy your Valentine's Dinners and bubbly. I've got some sunglasses to protect.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Oysterfest 2011 aka v.3

Remember last year when I went to the Oysterfest? Only my wonderful friends would agree to go to Oysterfest again with me this year based on the fact that I can't STAND getting my hands dirty, so they have to shuck my oysters for me. It's not laziness, I swear! Although this year I am coming prepared with sanitary wipes.
Anyway, I am super pumped about Oysterfest and unlike most years, the Park Tavern event is actually taking place BEFORE the Steamhouse one. I guess this just means I'll actually have to step out of my comfort zone and go to an Oysterfest I have never been to before. The horror! Actually, I've never been to an event at Park Tavern aside from that one disastrous semi-formal my sophomore year of college, and that can't even be counted anymore, can it? 5 year rule, please!

I was talking with Buckhead Betty the other night, and we both agreed that we don't love Spiral events, but I guess I'll make an exception this time. I really do love oysters, live music, and pretty weather THAT MUCH.

Now, who wants to give me free tickets? Those suckers are expensive! Happy weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

FNL: Friday Night Lights :(

Newsflash: My favorite television show of all time, ever, is over.

I may have discovered this show one day while incredibly hungover and proceeded to watch 12 episodes in 12 hours, but that does not negate the importance or value of this classic American television show. And it really doesn't negate the gorgeous actors that play Coach Taylor, Matt Saracen, and Tim Riggins.  

Yes, my beloved Friday Night Lights. Anyone remember this post? In case you don't, this was the highlight:

I find myself squealing whenever I see a character from Friday Night Lights on another show (like Matty Saracen on that new doctor show... I forget what's called), and like Coach Taylor on Grey's Anatomy. Then I proceed to tweet about Friday Night Lights taking over the world. Rational is exactly how I describe myself when asked, don't worry.

I have never been one to obsess over or crush on TV or movie or really any kind of celebrities. But Tim Riggins, a completely fictional character, makes my heart skip a beat. Claire said it far more eloquently than I ever will: I'm not kidding when I say that I'd jump at the chance to marry Taylor Kitsch, having never met him, based solely on his portrayal of Tim Riggins. Wouldn't think twice.

If you didn't just crumble inside, then you have no heart. What I love about this (fictional) man: his drawl, his wild side, how he loved Lila without abandon, his dedication to friendship, the way he called Matt "Seven," his cowboy boots, his truck, and his shaggy hair and scruffy face. 

Do you have a celebrity crush as clearly out of control as me?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book review: Still Alice & The First Time

I set a goal for myself in 2011, my only new New Years Resolution. I am going to read 50 books this year. That's approximately 4 books a month. I'm doing pretty well so far! Right on track, in fact.

The Borders right in front of my house is closing, and I ran in there last week to see if they had Still Alice, which my Twitter Book Club was reading! I didn't find Still Alice on sale, but of course I found something else. I bought both books, and high-tailed it home before I got sucked into spending $100 on books. It's happened before. Have you seen my bookshelves?

I read Still Alice while I was traveling for work. It was how I unwound at the end of a long conference day, which I think is possibly why it didn't make me quite as emotional as I was expecting. I think I also knew what was going to happen in the book having lived through it myself with my grandfather. I was less emotional because I knew what it was like, I knew the feelings her family was going through, and I knew what the loss of someone who was still standing right in front of you felt like. I was emotional, but I didn't cry at the end of sob through any portion of the book, which I have done before with only one book. (My Sister's Keeper, while on an airplane, with a boy who's definition of reading for pleasure meant he watched Sportscenter on ESPN while simultaneously reading the ticker across the bottom of the screen. To say he didn't get why I was crying giant alligator tears on an airplane and thereby humiliating him in public would be a mild understatement).

The other book I bought on my Borders binge was The First Time by Joy Fielding. I just randomly picked it up and decided it looked like the kind of book I would like. Mother-daughter troubles, check. Infidelity in a marriage, check. Some sort of dramatic twist of fate, check plus. I started this book on my way to work in the rain on Friday, and then promptly forgot about it because Friday was like... the busiest day of my life. After dinner & drinks & bachelorette party discussion, I was mentally WORN OUT and I knew I needed to read something to distract myself or I would lie awake thinking about all these things. Instead, I laid awake reading the first 2/3 of this book. I got completely sucked in and really didn't want to turn out the light at 1:30 in the morning, but I knew if I didn't, I would just lay awake thinking about the book's ending. Instead, I woke up at 8am and continued reading until 9:15 when I finished the book and for only the 2nd time in my life, cried giant tears over a book. It was so touching. I loved it because I have a mom who loves me more than anything, and I have been that daughter who hated her mom and her dad more than anything. And I could empathize with that sweet 16 year old girl. And then I thought about what I would do if anything like that happened to my mom (the disease, not the unfaithful husband) and my world was completely rocked. I loved this book, and I recommend it to anyone who is willing to shed a few tears over text. You can borrow my copy once it's dried out.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekend, why do you come and go so quickly?

This weekend was the kind of weekend where I was happy to spend time with friends, hang out at home, and do everything in between.

I ran much-needed errands, like depositing checks at the bank.

And bought things like new makeup. (I'm loving what I bought!)

I finally got my men's watch re-sized (I needed 2 links taken out)

I got my car worked on (and spent $300...stupid car shops)

I went to dinner with some girlfriends at a new restaurant (and my friend developed a new low-carb pizza eating strategy...) in a new-to-me neighborhood. I haven't spent any time in Inman Park, but don't fret my pets, I'll be back. There are more restaurants to try...

...and more comedy shows to see! We checked out improv at Dad's Garage...if you haven't been, run, don't walk. It was HILARIOUS.

I cut coupons and snuggled up with my beloved P-Dub's new book.

See aforementioned snuggling up. Leopard print snuggie, yes please.

I caught up on my DVR. 2 whole episodes of Gossip Girl, plus 1 Grey's Anatomy, and toss in a little Big Bang Theory and all was right in my world again.

I drank green juice. It looks gross, it tastes good. But a word to the wise - don't juice celery. BLECH.

I made homemade almond butter on my brand new food processor. It rules.

That's how excited I was when I opened said food-processor. Notice my sister's unexcitement in the background. I can't believe it took me over a month to open and use this fancy contraption!

(It should also be noted that this photo was a re-enactment of me opening my gifts. There are more where that one came from. My sister, in all her doom & gloom Eeyore-esque glory, wouldn't let me photograph the opening of the Christmas presents, so I forced my dad to take pictures of me re-opening my presents. Are you judging me yet?)

I watched football on dueling televisions, and wondered which one would look better in my living room... my friend has generously offered to loan me one...or I'm hoping he will!

And another friend's dog insisted we watch the Puppy Bowl. Packed house for kitty halftime!

I cheered for the Packers because I prefer green & yellow to black & yellow, and also because I had to choose my midwest roots. Go Pack Go!