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Snow is a four letter word

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tonight we are getting our first real snow of the season.

I really dislike snow. Snow is cold. I don't like being cold. I don't like having to dress in layers or wear heavy sweaters.

And yet I live in Michigan, where it gets cold and there is generally snow. Sigh. One of these days I just might get around to moving to warmer climes.

In the meantime it is snowing and very cold out. Which means I may have to shovel in the morning since neither teenager is likely to be awake when I want to leave for class. Yes, I know shoveling snow is exercise but I have plenty of other ways to get in my fitness minutes.

And in a fit of insanity I just registered for a winter series of 3 half marathons. Did I mention I really dislike snow and cold? Apparently the cold has frozen my brain cells.

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    OK, my sweet Yankee friend, let me tell you some things to help you feel better!

Here are some comparisons, roughly stated...

Snow comes to you clean and beautiful... here, you get brown dust that is dirty and gritty!

Snow is cold, but if you dress for it, it can be a lot of fun.... here, dust blowing can be warm, but it is never fun!

Snow cleans the air and makes it smell fresh and crisp... here, dust clogs up your nose and prevents you from smelling anything but dirt and snot and makes you sneeze.

Cold weather in MI makes the sky and trees look drab and gray for months at a time... here in W TX, the dust and cold make it a drab brown for months at a time... pick your drab!

Just a few things to help you to be happy about when you want the snow to go away! As for me, I keep wishing for Michigan and have to remind myself of these things in reverse, with other comparisons (i.e. Sure, it's drab and brown here, but it's also drab and gray there, etc.).

Everywhere we live, there's going to be that negative side, huh? So go enjoy your snow and I'll go and.. uh... enjoy... uh... the dust?!


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MCJULIEO 1/21/2012 1:32PM


I don't think I would like more than a day or so of it at a time.... but then I've never had to, either...

Makes you admire the pioneer women, doesn't it!

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GETSTRONGRRR 1/21/2012 10:28AM

    Seems like you just found a real good reason to re-stock your workout gear with winter running clothes!!

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ANNA907 1/21/2012 9:41AM

    And we keep asking the question...why do I live here. LOL. I know what you mean. This year has been so great tho. We've always been buried with snow by this time and yet ground has maybe an inch. Unfortunately it's coming tomorrow...
I'm sure while you are shoveling it you're not thinking how pretty it is but maybe after it's cleared off and the streets are cleaned? Just think it's near the end of January, it's half over+ now!!!

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SLIMMERJESSE 1/21/2012 9:11AM

    I grew up in NJ, and even as a kid I knew that I didn't want cold weather. Moved to San Diego in early adulthood. Now that I am researching relocation to more affordable cities, I find that I am truly spoiled and can only think of areas with good weather. Have a good day.

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VYVIENN 1/21/2012 6:30AM

    Honey, we should trade places. This so-called winter is grating on my nerves! It's too warm, hence wet and muddy every day. I don't think I've ever done this much dang laundry!! Send me your snow anytime...

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GETFIT2LIVE 1/21/2012 3:00AM

    Snow is definitely a four-letter word to me right now! We are finally digging out from the white stuff here in Seattle. We don't usually get this much. You are a little crazy for signing up for those winter races, but that's what happens when you start running--you start doing kinda crazy things.

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ANJAYS-JOURNEY 1/21/2012 12:37AM

    Sorry I love to see the snoow, but don't like driving in it!!
Feel for you though
Have a good day tomorrow!!

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CODEMAULER 1/21/2012 12:34AM

    I think I appreciate every season because we have them. I grew up in MI, live in MN, and it's futile to fight the weather.


My poor bike, however, feels VERY differently...

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RITZIBROWN 1/20/2012 11:20PM

    emoticon How I do understand your plight. Michigan is a beautiful state but winter does happen. I grew up on a farm close to the Canadian Rockies but from a young age was drawn towards warmer ares. Life happened, I had a chance for a new adventure,found warmth, went home & started immigration procedures. Florida & California were magnificent when I was there & SC fits my needs now. We may get snow but not much. I secretly love calling my brother & moaning about our 37F & then hearing there high for the day is 41 below. I did enjoy cross country skiing so perhaps you need a diversion emoticon emoticon Keep warm.

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The Tax Man cometh

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Filing income taxes is one of the things I have never procrastinated about. By this time in January I am usually ready to file and just waiting for the final tax forms to be released. I've been like this since the early 90s, when I first started filing when I got married, as my now ex-husband's tax philosophy was have too much taken out of (my) check so we would get a ginormous refund every year...and he wanted the $$ as soon as possible.

Since the divorce in 2008 my philosophy is I'd rather have my money as I earn it and not give extra to the government to muck around with interest free during the year so I've been gradually dialing in my withholdings to try and achieve a no refund / no tax bill balance. I still took care of it immediately, just in case, because if I were to get a refund I wanted it immediately and if I were to owe I wanted as much time as possible to prepare for it.

But now I am "behind". I was on vacation from 12/28 - 1/8, and then sick all of last week and most of this. So I have not even started my taxes yet. This has been making me a little crazy.

My deep dark dirty secret is...I like doing taxes. If a parallel universe were to exist my counterpart is probably a CPA or tax accountant. Back when I started filing (in the years before tax software was available) I would do them by hand. I considered it a personal challenge to understand the forms well enough to "beat" the government at its own game and get back every penny owed. Even my first year of marriage when my ex insisted on having his CPA sister do our taxes I still did them by hand to compare mine to hers (about the same so I know I could trust my numbers).

Even after we got a computer and I used the tax software for the first few years I would double check and prepare a set by hand, which were always pretty darn close to the software. I don't do that anymore, mostly due to not wanting to spend the time for no additional benefit.

So today I am starting the process. I will likely still be delayed by the government not having all the federal or state forms released yet, or one of the banks or loan companies deciding to be stupid and not make information available until the last possible legal second, but I will have my part done. No procrastination here.

Although you'd think that if the government delays in releasing forms it would push back the April due date by a corresponding number of days so people would have the alloted amount of time to prepare adequately.

Yeah, I'm not holding my breathe either.

And one of these days I'll get around to taking a formal training class and become a tax preparer for real, probably when I retire for extra income or something to do. And to keep my brain sharp, staying ahead of the legal crooks we elect.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GETFIT2LIVE 1/20/2012 12:47AM

    When I first got married, my husband and I had someone do our taxes. Then we realized that we were doing the bulk ofthework in gathering everything, so I started doing them by hand. Way to go on getting them underway now; we usually start the process early to know whether we owe or get something back. It is time to do that!

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    Neither Drex nor I feel confident enough to do our own taxes. You are to be commended! That's just great that you do your own! emoticon

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ANJAYS-JOURNEY 1/19/2012 5:43PM

    Way to go, we do our taxes ourselfs too!!
Have a great day

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SARAWALKS 1/19/2012 3:39PM

    Oh, I hope you will qualify one of these days! Tax preparers make good money! I couldn't get along without mine. I used to do it myself but it caused me great anxiety so now I am more relaxed about it...but I do put off getting my stuff together... emoticon

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KKINNEA 1/19/2012 3:16PM

    Oh, you totally should be a preparer! A smart, personable preparer really helps those of us that just want it over with :)

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DOGSTARDADDY 1/19/2012 3:05PM

    You have a crazy dark secret. I will try to move past it... look beyond it... but I'm not so sure.

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SWAYDE 1/19/2012 1:30PM

    My secret is that I am 35 years old and have never prepared my own taxes lol. My parents had their own accounting & tax business so ever since I got my first job they always prepared and filed my taxes for me. My father passed away, but my mother still does taxes and still does mine *well my husband's really*. I just have to gather up all of the paperwork for her, take it to her, and she lets me know the results, which is usually a refund because my husband doesn't like me juggling around with the withholding to get it close to $0 like you try, even though that IS my preference, but since he's the only one earning an income I go with what he wants. I think he is afraid because he was self employed for a few years and did not file correctly or on time and ended up having a nightmare of a time with the IRS and owed back taxes and garnished wages. Fortunately we got all that worked out a long time ago and ever since he's known me, he's been fine =)

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On being green

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This is not a brag blog, but rather a give me your suggestions & ideas request. I try to be environmentally aware in my choices and reduce my carbon footprint. I think I do a good job although I know I could always do better. I'll list the things I do but what I am looking for are those *smacks head why didn't I think of that* suggestions.

*reuseable grocery bags
*recycle paper/cardboard/metal/glass/plastic
*mend when I can before replacing
*try to avoid buying things with extra packaging (i.e. pre-portioned anything)
*donate or freecycle as much as I can instead of tossing
*use the library or e-books or on-line movies instead of buying new
*swap books, music & movies through sites like &
*re-use or re-purpose items from the thrift store (depending on the item) instead of buying new

I had a *smacks head* moment a few months ago from a suggestion from another SP member. You know those little plastic bags you get at the grocery store to put your fruits & veggies in? Did you know they (and the plastic grocery bags if you use them) are recyclable? Did you know that there is no reason you can't take those little plastic fruit & veggie bags and use them again the next time you go to the store?

*smacks head*

I never thought about it but it was obvious once someone pointed it out. So now I have a number of them I've saved and just take them with me to the store to re-use. I'm also on the lookout for mesh or net bags to replace the plastic ones but I have not seen them in the store yet.

What ideas do you have for me?

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SARAWALKS 1/18/2012 10:15PM

    Use both sides of the paper when you print out stuff...I use paper that has been single-side printed to print out stuff like coupons, online receipts etc.
this paper makes great scribble paper too, I tear it in quarters and keep it in a little magnetized box that hangs on my fridge door.

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HEALTHY4ME 1/18/2012 6:47PM

    I know about the mesh bags, when I was a kid we lived overseas and even back then ( was 4-13 overseas now I am 55) they used reusable bags.
Can't think of anything right now........ I use vinegar, baking soda etc for cleaning. Man I am drawing a blank. Our city recycles everything and also we have compost bins that go out every 2 wks in winter and every week in summer. We usually don't even fill 1 garbage can a week.

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CODEMAULER 1/18/2012 5:25PM

    If you have a CVS near you - and you shop there - they have a "bag tag" that you can buy for a dollar. Every time you bring your own reusable bag to the store, they scan the tag. After 4 scans, you get $1 to use at CVS.

I also use a reusable hemp filter (or my French press) for coffee, and then put my coffee grounds in the garden. I also put egg shells and tea leaves in my garden. During the cold months, the tea leaves keep my houseplants company.


I've also repurposed a glass jar (from pasta sauce) to grow my own lentil sprouts. If you want more info, it's sure easy and I'm happy to share the details.

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ANJAYS-JOURNEY 1/18/2012 4:50PM

    Awesome recycling ideas, keep up the great work!!

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MADZOE 1/18/2012 4:43PM

    I've actually bought my mom a few packages of the reusable produce bags at Fred Meyer, not sure if you have that in your area or not. If you would like i could always send some to you. Let me know if you are interested.

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    My daughter, Kali, makes her own aundry soap! She says it smells wonderful, is VERY inexpensive and easy! I'm going to look into it, so let me know if you're interested! emoticon

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RUNNER4LIFE08 1/18/2012 3:14PM

    I make some of my own cleaners. I use vinegar to clean my hard wood floors. It is also great for cleaning windows and mirrors.

You have a great list going though! Keep up the good work being emoticon

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VYVIENN 1/18/2012 2:02PM

    Please remember that cloth bags need to be washed on occasion and plastic baggies cannot be reused indefinitely. They do, however, make nice trash bags/cat poo bags/doggie waste pickup bags...

I used to actually use a reusable coffee mug I got from work to put my takeout coffee in. I hear they now make them to look just like styrofoam cups, meaning they have the exact same measurements, meaning you shouldn't get any crap when you use them at the gas station or other coffee place of choice.

Also, if you're interested, research making your own cleaning supplies. It's amazing what all you can get sparkly with just baking soda and vinegar.

Nice thread, I'm eager to find out what other people have to suggest!

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SLIMMERJESSE 1/18/2012 1:06PM

    I keep my cloth grocery bags in my car so that they'll be handy whenever I decide to stop by for food shopping. After using them, I put them back right away. Sometimes I still forget and go into the store without them. It takes practice. I've been recycling for years. My city has a separate bin they collect every two weeks, so for the past decade (or more) I've felt good about glass, plastic, tin, etc. getting re-used. I don't compost, but have thought about it. Doubt I'll do that. I donate tons, and also download library ebooks although there are so many free ones for my Kindle that I've already got more than I can read in a lifetime. (smiling) As far as thrift shops, I find I can buy very inexpensive stuff at stores like Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, etc.

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Not a lot to report today

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just getting my daily blog done for the Winter 5% Challenge - Go Cats!

While I was on vacation Scout Dad, he painted most of the house last spring, came back and finally finished the ceiling & walls in the last 2 rooms. He's not a slacker, he was working his regular jobs over the months and finally had the free time over Christmas break to finish. And since he's not charging me anywhere near what a painting company would charge I'll work with his schedule. So now my ceiling is no longer textured, the light fixtures are once again properly installed and the walls are painted instead of paneling and the whole house flows together. Before he started every single room had a different look and feel which really dated the house and kind of created a low level of background stress for me.

I actually started on my daily housekeeping goal last Monday when we were back from vacation. That, plus having the kitchen area ceiling & walls finished, has really left me a lot less tense. That background stress again from when things aren't quite right but you're so used to the situation that you no longer notice it gone and finally noticeable by its absence.

Purple Heart finally called again tonight to schedule a pick up time for this week when they are again in the area so I can get rid of several bags of stuff I've been waiting to donate. More background stress eliminated.

I'm hoping by tomorrow I'll finally be over the worst of this cold, it has completely wiped me out the past week. Today was the first day I felt almost OK energy wise...but was completely congested so couldn't breathe well. I miss exercising especially as being sick seems to increase my appetite (or at least it completely disables the stop switch).

Today it rained a lot, and now it is very cold, so I'm guessing there will be ice in the morning. Yay - NOT! The commute will be horrible if there is ice. It was bad enough this morning with everyone stopping to look at the water falling from the sky, whatever could it be, they've never seen such a thing before! Driving tests should be mandatory to weed out the stupid drivers. That would also do wonders for my stress levels.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MCJULIEO 1/18/2012 11:11AM

    With all that stress gone, you should be about ready to start floating!

In the meantime, I surely hope that your cold quietly slips away... I SO understand that "being sick seems to increase my appetite (or at least it completely disables the stop switch). "

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    emoticonI hope you feel better fast! emoticon

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CELIAMINER 1/18/2012 8:40AM

    Glad you are feeling better and also glad you are getting rid of bits and pieces of stress that add up. Thank you for reminding me I need to start bagging up the piles of clothes that are littering my bedroom. Because I'm anal about logging donations and estimated value for a tax deduction, it's not a simple task of just throwing stuff into sacks and calling [Lupus, DAV, Vietnam Veterans...pick one]. Sigh. Another goal to set.

Comment edited on: 1/18/2012 8:41:06 AM

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BUTEAFULL 1/18/2012 4:15AM

    colds are no fun, so I'll just say keep drinking that water to flush the system

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VYVIENN 1/18/2012 2:24AM

    Glad to hear you're finally starting to feel better emoticon

Uncluttering and restructuring sure can give you a great sense of relief! We've been working on our junk areas here, organizing the storage area, etc. and I can tell every bit makes a difference. And you know what they say in France: vive la difference! emoticon

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INIT2LIVEIT 1/18/2012 2:23AM

    "Driving tests should be mandatory to weed out the stupid drivers..." LOL
just imagine how many more people would be alive if it weren't for the stupid drivers!

you are such a ROCK star, setting goals and going after them. emoticon

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Goal progress

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just a quick update on my progress on my 2012 goals.

Yes, I know I only posted them yesterday. But it is now yesterday's tomorrow, time to banish some procrastination tendencies and I've made significant progress on at least one goal.

It's been about 6 months since I've paid close attention to my accounts. I made sure I was paying the bills and not overdrawing my checking account but that's about it.

Bad me.

So I spent a few hours today getting all my receipts entered and account balanced (and I was only $2 off after 6 months which is a minor miracle and a probable typo which is now adjusted for) and updating my budget. I changed up how I was allocating payments and assumed my ex will pay me his half of our son's school fee this month as promised...and discovered I will be able to pay off 4 debts this year, not the 3 I was going to go after.


And IF I actually follow the budget and no unexpected large expenses hit (furiously knocking on all wood and wood like substances) I will have my car and student loan #1 paid off before the end of next year. Which only leaves my house and a few thousand on a Visa going into 2014, and the Visa would be gone that year.

Finally! Debt freedom has appeared on the horizon! It is still a ways away and I have to stay committed to the budget, which is going to be an extreme challenge for me, but I can foresee the end.

Just in time for the kiddos to start college.

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MIQUEY73 1/20/2012 10:36PM


We're in the same situation where we see the end of the line in 2014. I'm so excited! We have two school loans getting paid off this year and one other personal loan. It's a fantastic feeling to know that the hard work is paying off.

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KKINNEA 1/17/2012 11:00AM

    Awesome - way to tackle the difficult task and get a goal completed!!

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GOLOPTIOUS 1/17/2012 10:56AM

    That's fantastic! I too hope to be out of debt one day, but it's going to take me much longer.

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FUNKY5RED 1/17/2012 9:32AM

    You are accomplishing your goals and doesn't it feel good? Good job!!!

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CELIAMINER 1/17/2012 9:15AM

    Way to go getting conquering your debt!

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DOODIE59 1/17/2012 9:04AM

    To be able to see that the end is in sight is very satisfying, not to mention awesome. You control your life when you are debt-free. All power to you! Your discipline on a number of fronts is very inspiring. WOW.

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FANCY-PANTS 1/17/2012 6:56AM

    Debt free is a worthy goal. Congrats to be closer! emoticon

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VIBRANTVIC 1/17/2012 6:54AM

    we're doing the same thing right now! It actually feels better to atleast have a plan...even if it was a bit painful to look at right now, it can be accomplished. Here is to a great and prosperous 2012! emoticon

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SAHARASUE 1/17/2012 6:32AM

    emoticon Going debt-free is awesome! You can see the end now so you can do it!

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VYVIENN 1/17/2012 4:08AM

    Whoopee, that sounds like 2012 is indeed looking bright!

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BUTEAFULL 1/17/2012 2:49AM

    emoticonsoon to be debt free how wonderful that feels

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HOPEFULHIPPO 1/16/2012 11:35PM

    I have to do mine too....ugh! LOL

can we go back to procrastinating now? LOL JOKING Actually, you make it sound very promising. Maybe I should relook at mine real quick and see what I can come up with.

gonna go do that. Thanks for the inspriation!!

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GETSTRONGRRR 1/16/2012 11:23PM

    Great job and's a liberating sense of power and freedom to know you can make it too!

Keep it up!

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MARISPHERE 1/16/2012 10:49PM

    Thanks for sharing this one! I also have some financial goals for this year and I appreciate the inspiration.


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123ELAINE456 1/16/2012 10:21PM

  I want to congatulate you on accomplishing this one huge goal. Im trying to do the some thing. Just keep going and you will make things happen. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week.

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