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Archive for August, 2009

September - new month, new start

August 31st, 2009 at 05:51 pm

I know I have fell off the wagon for the last few month. I am about to start with new resolve.

In September I will track our expenses to the cent.

My goals are to keep as close to our projected "if we buy a coop" budget as possible.

That includes spending under $500 on food without compromising quality. I will have to be very mindful and creative. I am not sure we can achieve this... but I'll try my best.

Encouraging news is that 3 months of lifestyle change have yielded excellent results for DH. His bad cholesterol is down 71 points just due to eating right and exercising!

Physical processed, life insurance rate is finalized.

August 27th, 2009 at 07:50 pm

So the results of our physicals are in.
There are good news, and there are bad news.

The good news is I am super-preferred.
My rate is even cheaper than what the agent quoted based on my answers.

The bad news is, DH's quote is $72 a month!!!!! at 27! He had a car accident 2 years ago that makes him more "expensive". but to that degree? I wonder if there is something else. Should I shop around? (now the results are in the common database so I don't think he'll need to take multiple physicals.

I wonder if it is even worth it to get life insurance at that rate. Maybe we should wait 3 more years until the car accident "falls off". (will it?)

So I was going to spend $300 but instead I received $25

August 26th, 2009 at 02:04 pm

I almost did a bad thing - there were these black Italian, soft leather tall riding boots with 2.5 inch stable wide heel (appropriate for riding boots).
It was on a sample sale website (very limited quantities, sometimes one item in each size). And they were $300, as opposed to regular price of $800. So I was weak. I have a couple of outfits with which they would go perfectly. And I don't have riding boots. ( I only have one pair of boots - suede brown, and they are about 5 years old)

Few days later, I got an email from the company that said they made the inventory error and won't be able to ship my order. With apologies, they included $25 credit.
I don't know if I should feel happy or upset. But it certainly is a classy way to handle their mistake. I wish more companies took customer satisfaction that seriously.
I am sure I'll buy from them again(they have really high end designers on really deep discount), so the credit is as good as money.

Got out of Bloomingdales with minimum losses. Maybe.

August 25th, 2009 at 03:18 pm

Yesterday I needed to replace one item of cosmetics so I went to Bloomingdales to buy another (dangerous thing for me to do).
Naturally, I got lost there for 3 hours.

Tried on a nice dress for fall/winter. Knit wrap dress with equestrian belt detail (would look nice with Fratelli Rosetti black leather riding boots).
It looked good on me, but I did not buy it! I have so much clothing that I imposed a mandatory "cooling off" period. ( I can't just buy everything that looks good Smile ) I really like it though...

There was also a well cut short black pencil skirt with leather build-in belt detail (unusual ones) that also was really nice (and under $100), but again, I held strong.
I may think about it few days later and want to come back and get it. But than I will know how much I really want it.

I also like this skirt, but it is not worth the huge asking price:

However, there is a good chance that as season progresses it will go on sale for half the price. Than maybe.
That is what I did last fall/winter season. I waited patiently for very expensive things I liked to go on deep discount at the end of the season and got them.
I still love most of these items, and I don't anticipate buying much this season.
But with my accidental 11lb loss I can now wear tight, narrow wasted pencil with shirts tucked in, so I am thinking about getting one.
And that dress just looked like such an easy thing to wear. Oh boy, here I go again! Must stay strong...

Anyway, the only thing I bought were things I was prepared to buy when I walked in:

Rouge Volupte lipstick in nude beige and a matching lip liner.

(different shade)

I had $20 left on my Bloomingdales gift card, so the damage was only $45. Not too bad for a 3 hour shopping trip.

I also got made up by the Yves Saint Laurent make up artist and resisted the urge to buy primer and foundation (I never wear those because my skin is really good and just moisturizer is enough), but the way he did it just made is model flawless. I am still not sure I would bother doing it on a regular basis, so instead of buying it I asked them to give me free samples of them (and I also got a free mascara sample). So I can try it few times on my own and see if I can get the same result.

A delicious beet dish recipe!

August 20th, 2009 at 02:37 am

DH was having dinner out tonight, so I came home thinking I'll just have a snack. But I got hungry and wanted to eat something other than fruit.

All I had was beets. So I made a dish that my Ukrainian friend introduced me to. It was the first time I cooked it though. It came out delicious! And beets are so good for you.

So here is the recipe:

Peel and grate some nice FRESH sweet beets. Saute with olive oil, covered, low heat, stir thoroughly.

On a second, smaller skillet caramelize some onions and add w small finely diced tomatoes. Add some sugar to balance the acidity. This dish tastes good a little sweet. Cook together few minutes on low heat.

When the beets are about ready, add minced garlic(I like to add A LOT of garlic), some salt and pepper, mix, pour the content of skillet 2 (onion and tomatoes) in and mix everything. Cook for a minute more. Done!

So that, with a dark bread toast was my dinner.

Cost of healthy food is sky high. Self-made lunch is $7

August 19th, 2009 at 07:15 pm

It cost a lot to eat healthy.

For example my lunch that I MADE myself is normally $7.

1 heirloom tomato from the farmers market $3
2 small Japanese cucumbers $1.5
5 little balls of fresh mozzarella $1.5 (it was a half of a tiny container that cost $3)
I cut it up, added salt and pepper and that was my lunch for a total of $6.
I'll also have a nectarine that cost $1.2 for dessert. Maybe a few fresh figs (so sweet and fragrant).

Prices are high for vegetables that smell like vegetables, not the ones from grocery store. I also believe that they have more nutrition than vegetables that taste like nothing.

The cost of making dinner is even higher. We eliminated almost all saturated fat from our dinners(I have a little bit for breakfast or lunch occasionally). This really limits our choices to fresh produce, fish, unprocessed grains. Most of it has to be bought in specialty stores. Good fish has to be bought at a good fish store, produce at super-expensive farmers market. Whole wheat bread - artisan bread store. Vegetarian fed free-range chickens/eggs are bought from upscale supermarkets. *sigh*

You cannot stockpile fresh food or shop in bulk. It has much shorter shelf life. So the only things we have in a cupboard are brown rice, buckwheat, steel-cut oatmeal and a can of nicer brand wild salmon. And things like garlic/onions/nuts etc. But even those have to be bought in small quantities.

I have gone to a regular supermarket few times during the year and ended up frustrated. There is almost nothing I can buy there. Most things are processed and quality/freshness of poultry and fish not to good. Fruits and vegetables are "shipping variety"(that means look ripe but taste green).

Everything in a farmers market is "in season" yet is not cheap. People just go there to get stuff that ripened on the plant, not the shipping variety.

I think I spend $40 a day on food if we do not eat out at all (breakfast, lunch, dinner) for the 2 of us. I don' see a way to cut cost without compromising quality.
But this is about quality of life and health. So for health reasons, I think grocery budget would be the last place I'll cut. I just wish it was not so expensive to eat right.

Ohhh, I am so tempted. Should I fight the urge to get into that bed?

August 17th, 2009 at 07:56 pm

I've been reasonably good with savings in the last month, but now there is an unexpected mental roadblock.

I love travelling and JW Marriott is one of my favorite hotels. I love their bed! It is so comfortable and luxurious.

I've been looking at the total bed package (mattress, topper and all the linens and pillows) online for 2 years now. It was close to $2,500 dollars and never went on sale.

I thought I would get it eventually, when we buy our own place and move. But now it is on sale (not a common occurence) for $2,057. Should I buy it sooner, because the sale is temporary? Or should I stick with a plan and buy it later, but for over $400 more?

I love falling asleep in that bed! And it would bring an element of a luxury hotel into my bedroom. But it is over 2K.
What do I do?

I can't believe I got Medallion status from just vacation travel

August 12th, 2009 at 04:26 pm

45,000 miles...

I did not think it would be that much - I always fly cheapest possible economy.

Now I will have an actual chance of getting upgraded... BUT no trips planned for a while. And on the next trip I was planning to use miles. Darn!

I want free upgrades. Frown

I lost over 10lb somehow!

August 9th, 2009 at 02:22 am

I weighted myself today and discovered that I lost more than 10lb since last time I checked (few months ago).

I am not on a diet or exersizing, so this was a surprise. But the scale is accurate, I've checked.

I do normally loose weight after vacation, but since I drank a lot of beer and ate a lot of meat in China I did not think this would happen. I thought I would gain weight.

I did not have much desert (I am not a fan of Chinese deserts) and no bagels in the morning.

So that could be it. I will replace all desert with fruit for a month and see what happens. I'm also cutting down on beer.

If I could loose 10 more pounds I'd be completely content. Ok, 15lb to perfection. But I don't believe in restricting food or being hungry, or taking any diet products.

So I'll try to substitute some of what I eat for a slightly healthier version and hope that cumulative effect will eventually show up.

So this made my day! (even though I am coughing up my lungs and my throat is so raw).

Sick today

August 7th, 2009 at 12:01 pm

I think I picked up something in China. It is not fun at all. My nose is running like the Yellow River. I collapsed into bed at 9pm yesterday. Not going to work (after not being there for a month).

I want to quit my job and go live in China.

August 6th, 2009 at 07:19 pm

I have been dreaming of taking a year off and doing it ever since college.

Now, upon coming back from China, my dreams are awaken again. They are back stronger than ever.

It would be nice to have a student life again, to become fluent in Mandarin, to live in China for a while...

The only complication is that both DH and I have nice jobs that we like. It is hard to quit. And a year is a long time for the employer.
It is scary to just leave ones life here and one's career.

But I am seriously thinking about it. I want that option to be available. So I am making a budget for that year and going into the "super-charged" savings mode.

I will try to aim for next March - spring semester. Fall one, a year from now, at the very latest.

Whether we actually do it or not, I want the money to be there so that we really have that option.