Friday, January 13, 2012

The Importance of Fellowship

I recently started attending a new Women's Bible Study through my church. I was part of a Life Group last year but it was a couples group and my husband refused to go, so it was slightly awkward and I just felt out of place most of the time. Plus the majority of couples were younger than us too.

A lot has been going on in my family the last few months and it's continued to get worse the last week. Throwing a new activity into the mix isn't always a good idea, but I think in this case it will be a wonderful and therapeutic and spiritually valuable experience.

I've been a Christian my whole grandpa used to drive me to Sunday school when I stayed with them. He'd give me a quarter to put in the offering and I can vividly remember the wonderful songs we sang. This Little Light of Mine. The House upon the sand song (no idea the actual title). All those songs that just seep into your subconscious as you get older.

Of course, as time went by I drifted in and out of my faith. I never really left, but there were times when I just didn't care that much. In high school I was constantly going to church, but looking back I wasn't ever that close to God.

I still struggle with being faithful and having faith. I think that worshiping and studying with another group of like minded women will be very good for me and hopefully give me a good and Godly support group. Life does tend to kick your butt every now and again. :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

A New Tool for Losing Weight

Since I'm not the only one trying to start the New Year off right it's really good to chat with other people with similar goals.

My boss' wife, Alycia, stopped by our office the other day and she'd just come from the gym. She told me about this great FREE program online, that also has an iPhone App, to track your food, exercise, and weight. I've looked at various different kinds of online programs and never found them fabulous. It was hard to find foods and get semi-accurate details.

This one though seems to have just about everything. It's called You simply enter your starting weight, your height, and your goal and it calculates how many calories you should have each day including how many grams of protein, carbs, and fat.

My current weight is a pathetic 205 and my goal is 150.

MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

I'm going to force myself to be accountable...even just to nameless random people online. =)

So far I'm loving this online program, and the phone app. The app even has a scan feature so if I'm eating a protein bar or something with a bar code I just scan it and it automatically adds is AMAZING!!!

Not only that, but it has a community so you can share and get well as being able to add friends who are also using the program (like Alycia).

All in all, this is definitely the best online program I've found for keeping track of food, exercise, and weight. Hopefully it will be a tool that helps me succeed in my weight loss and health goals!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jewelry Goals for 2012

It seems like I have a lot of things that I want to change in my life this year. Weight and health being my biggest priority, but I also want to increase my jewelry sales this year.

Making that goal happen is partly up to me, but also depends on others looking for jewelry. I recently sat down with my Rely Local representative and have decided that instead of trying random ads on Facebook or Etsy or even in the few magazines I've tried in the past, I'm going to focus on local buyers. And more specifically people looking for wedding jewelry.

By focusing local I'll be able to meet people in person in order to determine what their specific needs and styles are. Whether they are looking for a birthstone necklace like my special Cherry Tree birthstone necklace or something simple like a freshwater pearl necklace for a wedding, it's important to be able to get the details exactly right...and doing that locally in person is always easier than online.

Rely Local is nationwide and growing fast. If you are a business owner or marketer I'd definitely look into it in your area.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Getting Organized in 2012

Being organized is something I value ... just not always something I am able to implement. I'm hoping with sites like "I'm an Organizing Junkie" I'll trim down our "stuff" and create a simple clean home and a more simple life.

Our house is fairly small...around 1300 square feet. We have three big dogs and three people. It gets a little cramped.

Remodeling the kitchen last year made our kitchen way more functional and created more storage space. Our living room is decent sized but is quickly filling up with kid easel, lego, a big train tent. You get the idea.

And then those little things that just seem to pile up with no permanent home.

I bought a few plastic storage containers but I think I'm going to need a few more. I figure if I can get Marshal's smaller toys into a bin under the coffee table he could still play but we could keep things out of the way. His room is really the worst though. It's hard to walk there are so many toys and clothes.

I need to work on letting go...I feel guilty getting rid of things.

Best therapy...watching Hoarders. :) I do NOT want to end up on that show.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Waste of Money - But A Small Treat

A few days before Christmas I went to get my nails done. Not just a manicure but this special gel manicure that is supposed to last a lot longer than regular nail polish. It costs a little bit extra but is generally worth it.

One of the things I want to work on this year is my appearance. I'm not someone who typically cares what she wears or looks like. But in my profession it is important to look professional. Part of that includes my nails.

So I chatted with hubby about it and he's okay with me continuing to go get my nails done on a regular basis. Could I do them myself? Possibly. Although they wouldn't look as nice, nor do I know how to apply the gel.

Is it worth spending $25 one to two times per month? We'll see. It's been over a week and my nails still look pretty good and having gel on them means I don't pick at them. :)

If I find myself spending too much I'll stop going but I think this is one part of my appearance I'd like to keep well as wearing make up on a consistent basis. That's a whole separate issue.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

There's No Such Thing As Free

Stories like this one make me so angry. It's bad enough that government squanders our tax dollars on unnecessary projects, committees, and waste. I do believe that we should provide help for those who truly are in need...but nothing is free.

People who need services like government housing end up victims to the very system they need. Many of these people in need already feel powerless. Some have mental disabilities. Others physical or psychological. Fighting the bullies who get positions of power over them generally results in a loss for them...and apparently a subsequent gain for the government bullies.

Francine Dorrance, a single mother, was already broke, unemployed, and struggling to recover from a nervous breakdown in summer 2006 when the Chelsea Housing Authority moved to evict her over $276 in unpaid rent.
After a judge approved the eviction, Dorrance became homeless. It would be almost five years before she would again have a permanent address.
But Dorrance’s misfortune was a boon to the housing authority official who oversaw her eviction. Five days after a constable removed Dorrance’s belongings, Jacqueline Matos, a housing manager for the authority, moved into the vacant apartment. Matos still lives there, continuing to pay just $25 a month in rent, a small fraction of what Dorrance paid.

I don't know what the answer is to avoiding these types of abuses. Government is made of humans and humans have seemingly limitless faults. While there are many good people who work in government, there are obviously horrible, bullying people as well. Those people need to be removed from "serving" the people they take advantage of and wield their power over.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

You Know It's Your Money - Not a Reward

Tax season drives me crazy...for a variety of reasons. Obviously I hate having to pay taxes. I have always structured our paychecks (when I got a paycheck) so that the government got as little of my money as possible. So many of my former co-workers had the government take out as much as possible so they got back big tax refunds in April.

Watching TV, as I always am, there was a commercial from H&R Block about their program to get people tax refunds. The people acted like they'd won the lottery - jumping up and down and screaming for getting money from "the government."

Oh Em Gee.

It isn't the government's money! It's YOUR freaking money. You didn't win it. The government is "giving" it to you out of the goodness of the system. The government took more than you owed. The government got to use your money interest free!

I would much rather owe the government than have the government owe me. I hate how high taxes are and I hate hearing about the insane ways our money is spent (Snow Cone machines for the TSA anyone?). But better that I have to send the government money than I let the government use my money interest free to fund such stupid projects and more.

My taxes this year will be more complicated than last year. Last year I hadn't made any jewelry sales so I didn't have to do any taxes at the State level. This year I do have jewelry sales, plus Aflac income, plus my husband's salary.

In 2012, Tax freedom day will not occur until April 12. This means you and I are working until that day JUST to pay the government to fund Snow Cone machines. It's insane.

Oh and that whole payroll tax cut that was supposedly extended...the IRS found a work around.

Welcome..."Recapture" tax.
Under the terms negotiated by Congress, the law also includes a new “recapture” provision, which applies only to those employees who receive more than $18,350 in wages during the two-month period (the Social Security wage base for 2012 is $110,100, and $18,350 represents two months of the full-year amount). This provision imposes an additional income tax on these higher-income employees in an amount equal to 2% of the amount of wages they receive during the two-month period in excess of $18,350 (and not greater than $110,100). 
Did I mention this system is insane? I say put out a flat tax based on consumption and be done with income taxes on the federal and state level. Let states have sales taxes. Get rid of property taxes (I bought my property...why do I have to pay additional rent to the government for my land?). Make everyone pay their fair share (rich AND poor). And cut spending to the bone...take care of the poor elderly and the infirm, military, and infrastructure. That's it.

Okay...I think I'm done now. :) Until I have to actually pay my taxes!

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's Here and My Stomach is Already Growling

The new year is here. It's 2012. I'm sure I'll keep writing 2011 when filling out forms until at least February.

My biggest challenge, and the biggest challenge for my husband, is going to be our eating and health habits. We started before the new year and cleaned out the house of all the crappy foods...chocolate bars, cookies, etc. Except for some cookies for Marshal that we won't eat.

It's going to be a HUGE challenge. I've never eaten well...even as a young kid I didn't like veggies. I had an aunt and uncle who tried to force me to eat raw carrots and I showed them...I puked all over them. My grandpa tried to make me eat a mushroom once. Same result.

I don't eat lettuce, tomatoes, onions, or pretty much any "weird" vegetable. This makes cooking a big challenge. I will eat cooked vegetables like cauliflower and carrots. I'll eat corn and peas, which are starchy veggies and not as good for you. I will eat green beans if cooked a certain way (i.e. with butter!).

Fruits are pretty much a mystery at our house. I like apples but only from the Farmer's Market and they are seasonal. I will eat bananas but I don't like them. The smell of banana makes me kind of ill so I almost have to hold my breath when I eat them...but they're easy to eat on the run.

So the first challenge will be to find healthy foods that I will eat. I've been trying to find recipes but most of the ones I like are heavy in creams and calories. There is a salmon that I LOVE from Schwans but it's over $27 for four pieces of salmon and we just can't afford that. So I need to learn how to season and cook salmon fillets.

Eating healthier isn't just about losing weight, even though hubby and I need to do both. It's about feeling better and having more energy to keep up with our little man. The older Marshal gets the more we'll be having to do with him. If I'm aching and moving slow now I'll have no hope in the future. Plus my health is already starting to suffer from the excess weight.

My goal in sharing my struggles here is to keep myself accountable...even if no one reads my blog. At least if I'm writing it all out I'll be accountable to myself. It's not going to be easy. It will be painful. And it's going to require a complete lifestyle change.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Buying Handmade From Your Phone

Buying online has never been easier...and can be done on your phone. And now you can buy Handmade on your phone too. Etsy has a fabulous App and it's fabulous. It's super easy to use and if you have an Etsy shop you can even view your items and sales.

I love the feature that lets you add items to your favorites's a good way to kill some time and bookmark items that may make good gifts for you or someone you love. :)

Etsy Mobile is available for the iPhone and for other smart phone devices.

* This is not a solicited opinion...just an observation that I wanted to share for those of you who like to support handmade and have smart phones.