Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cutting a Man's Hair

Chuk used to get his hair cut at those $13 walk-in places, which was fine. He cut my hair, which was, until fairly recently, just long and straight. It was easy for him. All he had to do was cut a straight line across.

At some point, I don't remember how or who brought it up, we decided I would try cutting HIS hair. Boy hair is intimidating. There are "machines" involved. But Chuk's not very vain and I am pretty adventurous, so we decided to go for it. We went to Target and bought the second cheapest hair cutting set they had. (The cheapest one, which Chuk tried to convince me to buy, was for African-American hair. Hair texture matters in these things, I think.) It cost $20 or $25, the cost of two haircuts with tip.

I was totally scared the first time I cut it. I had no idea what I was doing. I just followed the instructions that came with the kit. It was not hard, but I went slowly because of my nerves. The cut turned out fine.

I've been cutting his hair for probably the last six months or so now. It takes me about 15 minutes start to finish, including his inspection of my work and sweeping. It's certainly faster than the walk-in places and they're pretty much free hair cuts at this point, which we appreciate too. The set has a five year warranty, so if we figure that the set will last for five years and I give him one haircut a month, each haircut is about $0.50 each. Not bad.

If you've thought about cutting your guy's hair, I say go for it. Seriously, it's easier than you think, and much easier than using scissors. If you follow the instructions and go slowly, you won't screw it up. I promise.



Sunday, March 28, 2010

Anniversary Present--Year One

Today is my first wedding anniversary. The first anniversary is paper. I planned ahead...way ahead.
I bought a little moleskin journal at an after Christmas sale. They're a little pricey, but they're classic and will last forever.

Almost everyday, beginning January 1, 2009, I have written something about Chuk that I either appreciate or am grateful for. Because I began in the months just before our wedding day and have continued it through this first year of marriage, we get a really interesting perspective on how the institution of marriage has changed our relationship.
He liked it. His eyes welled up with tears when I gave it to him. We're a sentimental pair.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Hour at Home: Irish Car Bomb

In honor of my favorite aunt's birthday earlier this week (this is one of her favorite drinks) and my upcoming trip, I thought I'd share the recipe for an Irish-themed drink.

Irish Car Bomb

Pint of Guinness
1/2 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream
1/2 oz. of Jameson Irish Whiskey

Pour the Guinness into a Stout glass. Pour the Bailey's into the bottom of a shot glass and then pour the Jameson on top of it. Drop the shot glass into the glass full of Guinness, this is "the bomb", and then drink it fast.

My aunt's variation is to use a full ounce of whiskey instead of the Bailey's. You still drop the shot glass into the Guinness and chug though.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm Laughing with Him, Not at Him

Do you ever do something stupid and then think, "Thank goodness nobody knows about this. It would be embarrassing if people found out." I do. And I usually don't blog about them.

However, if my husband does something stupid, then it's just funny.

This week:

*He made bread. (I know, swoon.) He cut us both slices, warm from the oven. I had to spit my first bite out. I said, "Something is wrong with this." Come to find out, he put two TABLESPOONS of salt in the dough instead of two teaspoons. He's been eating both loaves of salty, gross bread all week and I've been eating store bought.

*He melted a plastic bag on top of the toaster oven.

*He melted a ziploc bag on top of the stove.

*He left the refrigerator door open all night.

He's usually not like this. I think he must be overtired.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tip for Adding Images to Your Blog Entries

The oldest known photograph in the world was taken by Nicéphore Niépce in 1825.

I’m not normally one to give blogging tips because I’m still a newbie blogger and don’t really know what I’m doing, but I have figured one thing out that has been really helpful for me. Maybe you’re all already doing this, and if you are, please let me live in my delusional world thinking I’m clever to figure out this little cheat.

I like to include pictures with most of my posts, but sometimes I don’t have or can’t take a photo of what I want to go with the post. In that case, Wikipedia has been a wonderful resource for copy write-free, open source pictures. And because Wikipedia has entries on just about everything, chances are, you can find a picture of what you need without violating any intellectual property laws.

Of course there’s a catch, and that is that most of the people who post the pictures on Wikipedia entries (i.e. the people who own that image) specify that the picture be used for non-commercial purposes only. So if you make money off your blog through advertisements, sponsors, etc. you probably would still have to get permission from the artist to use the image.

To make sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s rights, when you click on the image you want, it will enlarge it. Below the image there’s a summary with a description, date, artist information and permissions. The permissions will tell you where and how you can use it in plain language. For most of them, you’re able to use them willy-nilly for non-commercial purposes or you may be asked to credit the source. Either way though, it’s not a big deal.

Nearly un-fettered access to millions of pictures to use on my blog works for me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Are We Saving For?

Last week, I almost bought a shirt online that I wanted. It was marked down from $44.50 to $9.99 and I had a coupon code for free shipping. I put it in my virtual shopping cart, but ultimately didn’t buy it, or anything else.

I’ve wanted a pair of those trendy sporty sandals that are a cross between Mary Janes and sneakers for more than a year. Chuk has agreed that I would get lots of use out of them and told me I should buy them, but I still haven’t.

Yesterday I was craving a burrito from California Tortilla at lunch time, but ate my PB&J and apple that I brought from home instead.

Lest you get the wrong idea, let me just admit I’m making myself sound more virtuous than I am. In another post, I excerpted some conversations Chuk and I have had when trying to decide whether we should buy something or not. Let me give you another snippet.

Me: I think we should go to Ireland for our anniversary.
Him: Ok.

I think even the most frugal of people have to stop and ask themselves every once in awhile, “What are we saving for?” It’s not that I never want to spend money; the point is I want to spend my money purposefully on things that I really want and not just passing whims. Because we say no to spending on so many little things, we can afford to spend on some big things.

For me, travel is an integral part of my life. Traveling is when I am most happy, confident, and fulfilled. It brings me joy in a way nothing else ever has. To me, it’s worth spending hundreds of dollars on plane tickets even though it’s not worth it to me to spend five bucks on lunch. Although both are fleeting experiences, I get more pleasure per dollar on the plane tickets than I do on the burrito.

It’s a question of value (“Am I getting maximum enjoyment from this money?”) and priorities (“Is my money enabling me to get the things that I want the most?”). The answers to these questions are going to be different for everyone, but I think it’s important that we keep asking them of ourselves.

What are your splurges?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Survey

It's another Friend Makin' Monday over at Amber's.

1. Favorite things about spring: Cherry blossom trees. I saw my first blossoms last week and I’m seeing lots of trees with buds on them now. It’s by far the best thing about living in the Washington area.

2. What I'm doing for Spring Break: Going to Ireland!!!

3. Favorite spring flower: The peony is by far my favorite flower.

4. Do you have a garden? No, my apartment has no outdoor space at all. I did grow basil in a windowsill last year though.

5. Do you do Spring cleaning? Not really. This time of year does make me feel like getting rid of excess clutter though.

6. What is your weather *really* like right now? {Just b/c it's "officially" spring, doesn't mean that it feels like it for some of you.} At the end of last week and over the weekend it was sunny and in the 70s. Today it rained and they’re predicting more rain tomorrow.

7. Snapped any weather related photos lately? Share one with us! I haven’t taken any weather photos since “snowpocalypse” because photos of brown piles of snow aren’t all that interesting.

8. What's your favorite thing to do on a sunny afternoon? Grill out or have a picnic. I wish I had a hammock (and a yard) because I have major fantasies involving napping on a hammock.

9. Favorite TV show right now? The Office, Big Love, and The Amazing Race are perennial favorites, but my new favorite is Modern Family. I think it’s hilarious. I’m so glad the networks are coming up with new sitcoms instead of just more reality TV, which I’m not into, with the exception of The Amazing Race, but I think of that as more of a game show than a reality show. The Amazing Race hasn’t been very good this season though.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Has Spring Sprung?

Chuk was home sick two days last week. Thursday, I thought I was getting spring allergies, but Friday I knew I had caught his cold. We’re both still recovering, but we didn’t want to let feeling bad keep us from enjoying the good weather on Saturday.

We usually grill at local parks on nice days, but neither of us had the energy to deal with charcoal and coolers and all that. I sent Chuk to the store with instructions to “get things for a picnic in France. I don’t want to use utensils.” He came back with two types of salami, strawberries, a baguette and a bottle of fizzy blueberry lemonade. We had a block of cheddar cheese in the fridge and we threw it in a canvas bag with the groceries, a small cutting board, a knife, two cups and two napkins. We grabbed a quilt Chuk’s mother made years ago and a box of Trivial Pursuit cards and headed out. It couldn't have been easier. Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best: relaxing on our blanket in the sunshine, nibbling and asking each other questions.

The funniest answer was Chuk’s response to “What character did Audrey Hepburn play in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?” He answered quite confidently, “Tiffany!” I laughed for a good long while.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Frugality Is A Choice We Make Everyday

There are two sides to every budget: income and expenditures. My partner’s focus tends to be on the income whereas my focus tends to be on the expenditures. Because frugality is about living below your means, the disagreement seems to arise when the question is how far below your means should you live?

Chuk and I rarely argue about money, but sometimes we do. I think it is because we have different spending priorities. He likes spending money on his hobbies and having a lifestyle similar to that of people we know. I like spending money on travel and having lots of money in the bank.

These are some snippets of the conversations we have had:

Him: My dream bike costs $1,000.
Me: [Thinking about the one year old bike he currently owns.] Maybe you should sell your car.

Him: Kevin and my sister go out to eat like three times a week.
Me: They bought their house with no money down. I thought we wanted to make a big down payment on a house.

Him: Jay and Stephanie bought a flat panel HD TV.
Me: We have cable and they don’t.

Financial decisions aren’t just the big life choices you make like will I accept this job or should we relocate; the small everyday decisions you make are just as important. Will I pack a lunch today? Do we have a coupon for that?

Even though we have different spending priorities, thankfully, we have the same financial goals. Neither of us wants to go into debt. We both want to have a nest egg for emergencies. As long as we stay focused on the big picture without losing sight of the small picture, we seem to be staying on track.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cashmere Takes a Bath

I've found the key to preserving sweaters is to wash them as little as possible. If you wear something underneath, it helps to extend the time between washings. When you must wash them, use cold water and very little detergent. Never dry them in the dryer; lay them out flat to air dry.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Better Late Than Never: Giveaway Winner

I must say I was a little disappointed by the number of people who entered the giveaway. I certainly thought there would be more. I know more of you are reading. Do you just hate giveaways?

Anywho, without any further ado, the winner is "follower"


Congratulations! Please email me your address and I'll send you your prize.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Are You Freaking Kidding Me: Real Mail Edition

It wasn't an unfamiliar scene. I came home grouchy, on a tirade telling Chuk over and over again, "I don't know how someone like that can even live with themselves."

He was sweet and supportive and finally said, "I know what will cheer you up. Look what we got in the mail today." It was a note from a friend of ours', who Chuk had known since his college days, wishing us a happy anniversary; it's later this month.

He was right. It did cheer me up. It's amazing how a $0.44 stamp can change someone's whole day.

And ladies, this is a straight, single man with a Master's degree who has never been married and doesn't have any children who teaches history at a middle school. He has his own stationary and he's still single. Are you freaking kidding me?! It boggles the mind. I'm just telling you in case you know anyone...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The American Frugal Housewife

When we went to Monticello in December, I saw a book in the gift shop I wanted called The American Frugal Housewife, but for $14.95 this frugal American housewife wasn't buying it.

I checked my library and of course they didn't have it. Rather than pay for them to get it for me, I was able to read the book online at Project Gutenberg. This wonderful resource for difficult to find books works for me. Bonus: No fines from overdue library books! (Not that I would know anything about that.)

If you're interested in The American Frugal Housewife, it is kind of like the Tightwad Gazette of the mid-nineteenth century. Some of its advice is not applicable to modern life, but some of it is still very astute.

It is wise to keep an exact account of all you expend--even of a paper of pins. This answers two purposes; it makes you more careful in spending money, and it enables your husband to judge precisely whether his family live within his income. No false pride, or foolish ambition to appear as well as others, should ever induce a person to live one cent beyond the income of which he is certain. If you have two dollars a day, let nothing but sickness induce you to spend more than nine shillings; if you have one
dollar a day, do not spend but seventy-five cents; if you have half a dollar a day, be satisfied to spend forty cents.


In early childhood, you lay the foundation of poverty or riches, in
the habits you give your children. Teach them to save everything,--not for their
own use, for that would make them selfish--but for some use. Teach them to share everything with their playmates; but never allow them to destroy anything.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rowing Together

Two such as you with such a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar.

-Robert Frost

Last week I worked ten and twelve hour days. It was hard, but it was good. It felt good to use my brain and contribute to a team and carry a project. I felt significant, which is something unemployment takes from you.

There was a cost though. I was home very little and when I was, I was spent. Chuk had to pick up the slack. He made dinner every night. He washed the dishes. He picked me up from metro when I got in late. He washed my clothes and cleaned the cat’s litter box. All this while he has a full-time job too.

Gay marriage was legalized in the District last Wednesday which has me thinking about the meaning of words like commitment and marriage and partner. To me, the best part of marriage is the partnership.

1. a person who shares or is associated with another in some action or endeavor; sharer; associate.
2. Law. a person associated with another or others as a principal or a contributor of capital in a business or a joint venture, usually sharing its risks and profits.
4. a husband or a wife; spouse.
5. either of two people who dance together: my favorite partner in the waltz.
6. a player on the same side or team as another: My tennis partner was an excellent player.
7. partners, Nautical. a framework of timber round a hole in a ship's deck, to support a mast, capstan, pump, etc.

Not long after Chuk and I started dating, I moved from a house I shared with a roommate to my own apartment. Chuk helped me move. The hardest part was a new couch I had bought that was in a box. We had to get it off the truck, into the elevator, off the elevator, down the hall, through the front door, and into the living room.

It was hard. The couch was heavy and difficult to maneuver. I often wanted to put it down, but didn’t because it was a two-person job and the only way we’d get to where we needed to be was if I held up my end. We both bumped into walls and our fingers pinched along the way, but if we communicated, we made progress.

Once we finally got the couch in to place, we talked about how that process was the perfect metaphor for our relationship. The box even had a warning sticker on it that said “Team Lift” which has been our name for ourselves ever since. Whenever our relationship gets tough, I visualize myself holding up one side of the couch.

I don’t know what Chuk visualizes during our tough times, or even if he visualizes anything, but I do know that no matter what he shares in my endeavors, in their risks and profits. He is my spouse and we dance together; we are on the same team, and he gives me support when I need it.

I’m grateful to have a partner at my side. I’m grateful we’re going through life “together wing to wing and oar to oar.”

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lazy Weekend

I had such a nice weekend. Friday night, Chuk and I met up after work to catch a movie at the National Archives. All last week the National Archives was showing the documentaries that had been nominated for Academy Awards for free. We saw a movie called The Cove, which was excellent. (We went to the Archive’s screening Food Inc. earlier in the week and we liked that too.)

Saturday afternoon, Chuk and I made the short trip to Old Town to watch the St. Patrick Parade down King Street. There were lots of bagpipers and little kid Celtic dancers, who were so freaking cute it was hard to contain myself. For the first time in a long time, it was sunny and warm out so it was great to be outside enjoying the community atmosphere.

On our way back to the car, we stopped by the historic Christ Church and graveyard. The church had a special pew for the Washington (as in George and Martha) family; it is where Robert E. Lee married Martha Washington's great granddaughter, and it is where Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Winston Churchhill worshipped on the national day of prayer in 1942. Most of the graves in the yard dated from the 18th century. I love living in a place with so much history.

On Sunday, Chuk and I went to Costco; you know how much we like going to Costco together. We took a long nap in the afternoon and then Sunday night we had a VIP Oscar-watching party (which is what we call it whenever we want to have a party but are too lazy to actually invite our friends over) complete with appetizers and margaritas.

I didn’t see Chuk very much last week, so I was glad to have lots of quality time with him and lots of down time in general.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

200th Post Giveaway: Cold, Hard Cash

It’s my 200th post! It’s hard to believe because it feels like I just started this little blog.

Like I did with my 100th post, I’m going to celebrate with a giveaway. I’m giving away 200 dimes! (You will receive it in the form of a twenty dollar bill, cold hard cash.) Non-U.S. residents may enter the contest, but the prize will be awarded in U.S. dollars.

Because finding money in your pocket is one of life’s greatest pleasures, to enter, tell us, in the comments, what you would do with an extra twenty bucks. A winner will be picked at random.

As a thank you for their loyalty, I’m giving all the people who were “followers” before this post an initial entry. They may enter a second time by leaving a comment.

Contest ends Tuesday March 9 at 7:00 pm EST. Good luck!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lessons Learned After Crying at Work

1. Act like nothing happened; they are just as embarrassed by your behavior as you are and they want to move on too.

2. When in doubt, keep your big trap shut. If after think about something for twenty-four hours you still want to say something, do so focusing on the “what” not the “why”. What do you want them to do about it? If you can’t think of an actionable item, then it’s just complaining and that’s what a spouse (and a blog!) is for.

3. Diligence will always persevere over pettiness. Expend your energy working hard, not getting caught up in other’s drama.

4. You control your reaction to others. Don’t let them push your buttons. Just ignore them.

Thank you all for your sweet comments, stories and advice about this post. You’re the best part about blogging.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I Am A Cry Baby

Oh my friends, I have subjected myself to the ultimate humiliation today...I cried...at work...in front of a guy...who is the Executive Vice President of the company...that I'm hoping will hire me...because a girl was mean to me. I feel so ridiculous.

Chuk keeps telling me I shouldn't be embarrassed, but how can I not be? I don't even want to go in tomorrow; I will, but I don't want to.

How do I go back there and hold my head up? Have you ever cried at an inappropriate time? How did you deal with it? Please, PLEASE share your stories.

P.S. I have excuses 1) I have my period. 2) I'm majorly sleep deprived.

Environmentalism and Frugality Meet in the Lunch Box

Like any frugalites worth the title, we wash out our plastic baggies after we use them so we can reuse them again. However, even with this method we can't use them more than three or four times without them popping leaks.

What has worked for me is using plastic containers instead of baggies whenever possible. The containers are marketed as disposable so they're fairly inexpensive, but I've found them to be extremely durable. I've had many of my containers for years and they're holding up just fine even though I put them in the dishwasher and straight from the fridge to the microwave.

They have worked especially well in our lunches. Again, like most frugalites, we pack our own lunches for work. We use the plastic containers for sandwiches and snacks (like craisins), a stainless steel bottle for water, and of course fruit comes in its own packaging. Using all reusable containers we have cut way down on our baggie usage and created virtually trash-free lunches. I love it when environmentalism and frugality meet.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Gratituesday: Temp Job

I’m grateful that I’ve had a new temp assignment since last Tuesday and it’s going really well. I was there to do a data entry project that was expected to last a week, but when I finished in three days they decided to keep me on for longer. Now let’s all cross our fingers and knock on wood; I think they might hire me permanently. We’ll see. I’m in sort of a trial period right now as they test me out and I feel them out.

So far, I am really enjoying working there. The atmosphere is fast-paced and exciting. People treat me with respect, which is more than I can say for my last temp job, where I felt degraded when people spoke to me.

The job I’m at now isn’t exactly in my field. Ironically, it’s a job I would have loved to have when I was an undergraduate and more interested in domestic policy. I went to graduate school for international development, but both fields deal with government and policy, so it’s good in that sense.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high, but it’s hard not to after being out of work for so long. I think I could be really happy working there. I’m just going to keep my nose to the grindstone and try to make a good impression. That’s all I can do, right?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sore Throat Remedy

My never fail home remedy for a sore throat is Listerine. Usually I’m all for store-brand products over their more expensive name-brand counterparts, but for this, it’s worth the extra expense to me.

Gargling with Listerine (the minty flavors are more palatable) several times a day for a couple of days gets rid of my sore throat before it turns into a nastier infection. I think it’s the antiseptic in the mouthwash that kills all the germs in my throat. Listerine works for me.

Of course, I use these too.

How do you get rid of sore throats? Do you remember this commercial? Can you say Ricola without yodelling? I can't.