Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Crafty Weekend

It's been a while since I mentioned the cupcake topiaries that the Kentucky DAR Junior Club is making for our National Junior Luncheon this summer, but we're definitely still working on them!  Out of 6000 mini-faux-cupcakes we need, about 4500 of them are finished.  We set up workshops across the state, so this weekend I drove down to my folks (mom and dad hosted the far Western KY session).  The cupcake decorating started about 9:15 and lasted until after 4:00.  You wouldn't think cupcake decorating would be tiring, but I guess six or seven straight hours of anything would tire anyone out.

Sunday, I got back just in time to help my friend K with a craft project for her work.  She's the volunteer coordinator at a local non profit and wanted to recognize her volunteers (did you know that April is the month designated for recognizing volunteers?) with a bag of candy.  K stamped thank you cards, our friend B stuffed the bags, and I tied the two together with pretty bows.  We made about 100 bags then turned our attention to the UK game.

So I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend away from the spreadsheets.  With luck, I'll be back to regular crafty posts soon!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Checking In...

I apologize for the lack of blogging lately.  Even when I expect it, and even when I forewarn you guys, I still feel guilty when my blogging slips from 'irregular' to 'infrequent'.  If it helps, I've thought about posts I could write (as soon as ESP catches on, I'll be prepared!).  Fact of the matter is that unless it involves walking or spreadsheets, I'm just not doing much in the way of crafty or talented things right now.  Give me a couple weeks and maybe I'll have an update or two for you.  I know you're all anxiously waiting for the Tuesday's Talent post about making certificates via mail merge from an Excel spreadsheet!! :)

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday--March 15

The Ides of March!!  Also, if you do the whole Christmas Eve/Christmas Adam thing, it's St. Patrick's Day Adam!  Which means it's my birthday Adam!  Yes, I'm that crazy.

Okay, so it's also Thursday, and I've been woefully negligent of the blog lately, especially Thankful Thursday.  I think J would tell you I've been forgetting to count my blessings in everyday life, too.  I have to tell you, though, that Spring makes such a difference.  I am so thankful for the warm and dry weather we've been experiencing.  I actually just came in from a quick walk--something I'm usually only enticed to do when it's perfect outside.  Even during my Lenten challenge, I usually put my walks off until late in the day unless a friend wants to go at a certain time.  The weather outside my window was just too pretty, too breezy, too ideal to not get out and enjoy it!  I think Zep enjoyed it, too.

I'm thankful too for my work at St. R.  It's getting very busy (Holy Week approaches!) and it's made busier still by my plans to be out of the office for DAR and an upcoming vacation.  At my old job, there would have been an expectation that I be in the office 9-6 or 7 without  break.  Here, the expectation is that I get my work done and that someone be there to answer the phones.  That's it.  If I need (or want) to take a break, and there's a warm voice answering the phone, I can leave.  I always knew at my old job that after a few hours of steady work, I needed a break.  Fifteen minutes of exercise or an hour of mindless chitchat would do, but I needed that early afternoon break.  It wasn't generally approved of.  I could get the fifteen minute walk by arguing that it was a 'smoke break'.  Those of you who've worked in offices with smokers know that the smoke break isn't questioned or interfered with.  I got away with mine, even though it obviously involved tennis shoes and no cigarettes.  Yesterday, when a volunteer came by and suggested an afternoon walk, all it took was asking Fr. J to grab the phones for a while.  I got out of the office for half an hour, cleared my head (logged some steps!), and came back ready to dive back into work.  I am so thankful for this work environment.

Finally, my last bit of very excited thankfulness is that we finally closed on the refinancing!  We still feel like the whole process took entirely too long, but we managed to shorten our loan term by ten years without really changing our monthly payment.  As someone who really doesn't like being in debt, knowing we are making progress toward our biggest debt is reassuring.  And, the closing costs weren't nearly as much as we expected, so we're thankful to have a chunk of house-designated money 'pre-saved' for another project (khaki-colored trim, perhaps?).

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring finally arrives!

Now, this may be old news to you.  After all, the daffodils were in bloom at my parents' house down in WKY the first weekend in February.  Even in Lexington, there have been daffodils and other early spring flowers blooming for weeks.  Our little daffodils, however, are traditionally late bloomers.  Tucked in the little strip of dirt between our house and driveway on a shady side of the house, our daffodils finally developed buds last week and started blooming on Monday.  I snapped this shot Tuesday of one of the most open.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fitness Friday--March 9

Happy Friday!

This morning I celebrated a milestone on the scale.  Now it's typical for me to see a "new" number then pop back up for a few days before getting back down to it, so I'm trying not to get too excited,  And really, I'm about ten pounds from serious excitement, but I think that adding exercise to me daily routine is helping.
Speaking of exercise, I'm up to about six miles a day.  Any bets on how many miles I'll be walking every day when Easter rolls around?  If I could figure out how to get home, I'd suggest to J that we walk to church on Sunday. Of course, I wouldn't be able to take any other steps, so maybe I should hold off on that plan until next weekend!

With regard to our fiscal fitness, we're doing okay.  With any luck we should finish up this refinance thing this month.  Why yes, it does feel like I've been saying that for months.  Anyhow, we're settling back into 'normal' spending having saved up everything we need for the refi and gotten comfortable with our new car payments.  Next up, saving up for gutters and vinyl trim on our woodwork.  Yes, I know.  We just paid to have the wood work painted.  But we paid to paint it white.  But we painted it knowing that some of it would come down for replacement when we redid the gutters.  And then I discovered in all of my walks around the neighborhood that some of the brick houses with black doors/shutters have khaki colored trim.  After one particularly long walk where I noticed a few houses like this, the white trim on our house seemed almost jarring.  So, rather than repaint all of the trim in an attempt to match factory colored gutters, I think we're just going to have everything fabricated to match.  We kicked around the idea of vinyl trim last year and decided against it because of the cost (it basically doubles the cost of the job), but now we're coming back around.  I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Weather in Kentucky

There's a joke in Kentucky about how the weather can be so crazy this time of year you'll have your heat on in the morning and your AC on in the afternoon.  This past weekend we saw a glimpse of weather even nuttier.  Thursday was beautifully warm, Friday afternoon we saw severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, Saturday afternoon was warm and sunny, Sunday was cool, and Monday we woke up to five inches of snow on the ground (and I even took down my snowman flag!!).  Today, true to bizarre weather form, I enjoyed the nearly 70 degree weather on a walk across town.  We can only shake our heads.

Here's a shot of the beautiful scene that greeted us out the back door Monday morning.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Keeping with the theme...

With the black door, black light, and black shutters, we should have know this was right around the corner.

This is our back door, which was crying out to be painted.  After we paid a painter to paint the shutters and trim work on the house a couple weeks ago, it dawned on me that I should have asked him to paint the back door, too.  I think it just seemed logical that this door would match the door and shutters on the front of the house, so I mentioned it to J (he may not have been listening, but I took the noncommittal "um...sure" as affirmation that I should go for it).  Last Thursday I ran to Home Depot and picked up a quart of black exterior paint.  I got the first coat on that afternoon.  If you've been following the weather at all in the last few days, you know that I've not gotten the second coat on.  Here's what it looks like today.

I love it.  Especially when the kitchen door is open, the black picks up the other black pieces in the kitchen (our server and the black board wall directly across from the door).  Hopefully it will warm up again later this week and I'll be able to finish it up!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fitness Friday--March 2

I've got two parts to share on the physical fitness front this week.
First, I'm officially 5% lighter than I was two months ago!  The star-shaped sticker that Weight Watchers hands out for reaching the 5% is even bigger than the 5lb star and looks great in my weight log.  I think my next big reward will be the key-chain I'll earn at 10% (there are a couple more 5lb stickers to earn before then, of course).  I'm so looking forward to that key-chain!
Second, I mentioned yesterday one part of my Lenten dedications.  That part is to walk every day more than I did the previous day.  On Ash Wednesday, I walked about 2500 steps.  Today, my goal is to walk 11,750 steps.  I've been amazed at how quickly my total has risen, but beautiful weather and the opportunity to take a walk with a good friend makes it easy.  Most people only think about Lent as a time to restrict something.  I'm doing that, too (no sweets!), but I really value the idea of adding something for Lent.  Adding steps is a literal interpretation, I guess, but it works for me.

From a fiscal fitness perspective, we're feeling a little more comfortable.  We've got the total necessary for closing on the refi set aside and we've finished (I hope!) paying for those extra items necessary to 'pass' the appraisal process.  It's such a relief to have only our new car payments weighing over us, rather than the laundry list of unknowns that we were dealing with for the last few months.  The next project for us is to set aside the funds for our new gutters and trim work.  Now that winter seems to be over, that project is just around the corner for us!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday--March 1

How on earth did it get to be March?  I'm not even sure it's 2012 yet, much less two months down!

This week, I've been trying to focus on the little things.  Things like a work environment that supports taking your dog to work.  As he's gotten older, Zep has gotten a little more uptight about storms.  Knowing that I can just take him in with me during stormy days is such a blessing, and I found myself especially thankful for it on Wednesday.

I'm thankful, too, for everyone who's been supportive of my Lenten commitments this year.  When I decided to walk a littler farther every day, I have to admit I didn't think it through very well.  J has been so supportive with late night walks to help get those extra steps to meet my goals.  B has suggested walks in the park and in our neighborhood.  I've actually seen streets I've never known about!  While I'm a little nervous about how much I'll be walking by Easter, I'm so thankful for the daily reminder of the folks who love me and want to help me succeed.

Finally, I'm pretty thankful for my new car.  The relief I feel just being able to get in and drive, without worrying about something going wrong is amazing.  It's a little thing, but my stress level is so much lower than it was a month ago, and that's something J and I are both thankful for.

What are you thankful for this week?