Sunday, February 27, 2011

Surviving a Wisconsin Winter

When people in Wisconsin learn that I grew up in Florida, Wisconsinites all suddenly want to talk about the weather. Usually this conversation ends in some kind of evasive maneuvering on my part. I really didn't have a hard time adjusting to the cold weather. I feel like there are very few people that enjoy the long winters. But, I complain when I'm uncomfortable, which most people do. Anyways, my dearest blogger cousin, Rachel, is moving to Delaware from Alabama/Mississippi soon. I put together a little list of all the things that helped drag this snow-hater through some of the "worst winter"s of Wisconsin. I admit some are obvious, but the obvious needs to be said.

Hats and Gloves
Hats are a smart choice from the moment the humidity is sucked out of the air. It protects the wearer from red, frozen ears as well as dry, crispy hair. That being said, buying a cute hat that doesn't provide ample ear coverage is a waste of hard earned money. (Unless it's a summer hat, but we're not talking about summer here.) What's great about hats is that they work as a two-fer. They can be used to hide bad hair days and keep heat from leaving your body.

Gloves are necessary in cold climates. Personally, I'm not a fan. They make me clumsier with my hands, I lose them constantly and knit gloves absorb water which can defeat the purpose. There isn't much to do about thick fingers making keys harder to find and coins more difficult to pick up. I have found a pseudo solution for lost gloves. I buy them in bright, neon if I can, colors.
I have Lime Green and Bright Blue ISOTONER Gloves
Don't retire your sunglasses after summer. Snow blindness is real and painful. It's a danger while driving or walking. Sun reflection off of the snow is brighter than the beaches of Destin. And that's pretty darn bright.
Good Coat(s)
I suggest getting a snow coat that is water resistant and captures heat along with a dressy coat that is warm enough for windy days. I do not in anyway advocate buying a calf length down coat. Gram calls this kind of coat a blanket with sleeves and is all about them. But, everyone ages by at least 30 years (cut off at 70) when they put one on. It will rot in your closet waiting for you to declare your sexuality DOA.

Tights, Leggings, Nylons
Long Johns can be stifling and uncomfortable under pants. Tights and nylons can be just as effective at adding an extra layer to your bottom half. They can also be paired with skirts and dresses. It's a good idea to have these on hand, because weather is generally not very stable for months. If it's a very cold day you can put socks over nylons.
Wool Socks
Speaking of socks, Gram has a motto for winter wear, "ABC, Anything But Cotton." She gifts socks for every holiday. She's gotten me into Smartwool socks. They're hella pricey, but fantastic gifts. I just wear whatever I think aren't cotton with my sneakers and grab the Smartwools for leather or rubber boots, because they have little insulation.
Boots are a must have. I do want to admit that I'm a boot nut. I think it's because I can't wear heels, so I substitute boots for heels often. I have cowboy boots, fall leather boots, fall short boots, and rubber boots. Out of that list only the rubber boots are functional. I use the rubber boots in slushy weather which there is no lack of lately. I also own Keen tennis shoes that I call snow boots. They are water resistant, have thick tread and are well insulated.

I avoid a lot of accidents by not wearing the cute boots through winter. Also, I feel that my nice boots are going to last years longer without salt stains.
Each winter my skin threatens to curl up and die. I realize about half way through September that if I don't do something, I'm liable to claw off my legs from all the itching. I've started putting on lotion after showers. My dermatologist says that if you put on lotion within 3 minutes of washing, then you'll lock in the moisture.
5-htp with St. John's Wort
For a little while I was getting the winter blues. I didn't want to be on an SSRI. I felt that they're way too strong for a little bout of seasonal depression. I do suggest that if you start feeling not quite yourself, you can try 5-htp with St. John's Wort. I'm not 100% sure if it's a placebo effect or what, but these things seem to work after about three days of regular use.
Leather Protectant Spray
This will be a small entry. Do buy some leather protectant spray if you own anything leather. It's not so much about snow and wet. It's mostly about salt. Salt will stain and dry out your leather. Thick, hard leather is easy to clean, but with suede you can be SOL.
Emergency Car Kit

Another short entry. Here is a link to an article on what should be in an Emergency Car Kit. You can't foresee a winter car problem; it's best to be prepared.

Blankets Blankets Blankets
Winter is cold. Heating bills can be ridiculous. We have blankets readily available throughout the house. It's just a better idea to heat yourself than to heat the empty space around you. It's ecofriendly and just financially prudent.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Budgeting for MN

Lately, I've been spending an inordinate amount of my free time researching apartments and budgeting for when we move to Minneapolis. A psychological explanation is that I'm compensating for the fact that when we move I lose my healthcare and and foodshare through the state. Which scares the living daylights out of me. On the bright side, if I go bankrupt from medical bills after a horrible accident... I don't have much to lose. Also, with the path Scott Walker is taking Wisconsin down... I'd be losing all that anyways.

I'm off topic.

I figure that I will have $5,000.00 to be unemployed with as of May. (Thank you, being poor enough to get all tax money back.) Now, Jared makes more money than me and works more hours... so even without tax money he'll have equal to or more than my savings. I'm budgeting for the following expenses:
Economy Internet (Provider Comcast): $39.95
Rent including utilities: $550.00
Cell Phone Plan: $45.00
Food: $200.00
Down payment equal to the price of rent: $550.00

Jared and I will split the cost of everything with the exception of my cell phone plan.

Here is the equation I've come up with to figure out how many months we can remain unemployed while sustaining a $1,000.00 emergency fund.

$5,000.00 - $1,000.00/2 = [($550.00 + $39.95 + $200.00)/2]x + $45.00x + $550

Solving for x and rounding down to the nearest month... we can survive eight months while being unemployed in Minneapolis.

It took us two months to find jobs in a worker saturated, tiny town. If we get jobs right away, I'm buying a couch.

I told Jared that when he gets a job with health insurance, we're getting court house married, and I'm living off his insurance forever. The only problem he had with this idea is the forever part. "Why can't you get a job with insurance then I can live off your job forever?" he asks me. If the answer wasn't obvious enough: Because I said so. Also, getting a chemistry job with good insurance is far more likely than whatever I stumble into having good insurance. But, who knows.

So far my plan is to hang out here, make some money, find an apartment in late March/early April. Move out by April 15th. We'll start packing after we find an apartment. We'll job hunt in May. I have a San Francisco trip in May too.

Actually, I have a trip with Britt this week to look forward to. It will be a last hurrah before strangers start asking to touch her stomach in public.

And, if we get jobs soon... I want to go to Disney World. I've never been there before. I think it's right up my alley.

Oh yea, and because we won't be in the middle of no where... maybe my Florida friends will want to visit the Upper Midwest.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Metric: Review of a Lifetime Love

Picture me at forty years-old, lying on the carpeted floor, headphones on, eyes closed. I'm reminiscing of my teens through twenties. What am I listening to? What moves me and reminds me of every moment of every day? What highlights the greatness of youth adding the teeth-grinding edge of emotional hardship? Metric.

When I was thirteen, I spent a majority of my time on a website called (at the time) At first, I enjoyed the conversation. Then, I got a tiny bit addicted to buying pixelated items at 3 AM for slashed prices and then charging twice as much at noon. I built up a lot of "gold" worth pretty quickly. I decided that pixels aren't worth much and started buying original art pieces from artists on the website. 

I met some amazing artists on the website. Specifically, I met Mirilove, 2iyo, Yuroppa and Magaly. Mirilove goes by Erin McManness in real life and is a blogger as well. I lost track of the others over the years. Where am I going with this tangent? Easy, exposure to people from different countries. 2iyo introduced me to Metric and Muse in 2003. At the time I was listening to Maroon 5, who I thought was the best band of the time. I was mistaken. 

Metric's second album Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? is to this day the most inspiring musical piece I can listen to. I still think it's groundbreaking to ask if landlords have landlords. I still tear up a little to On a Slow Night. I consider Combat Baby to be the war anthem of the apathetic. Dead Disco dusts off the idea of repetition of themes in music with a fantastic beat. 

When I was high school, Metric released Live It Out, and for the first time they were on a television channel I could watch in the US. It was exciting to see a band I love get recognition for what they do best, put on a great show. I also got a super charge because Muse and Maroon 5 grew in popularity as well. 

Emily Haines (the lead singer of Metric) released a solo album Knives Don't Have Your Back just about the time I was having a hard time with depression. Our Hell became my anthem. 

Recently, Metric was featured on the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. They released an album in 2009, Fantasies, and are rumored to be in the studio making dreams come true for 2011.

My life has been heavily influenced by the music I listen to and I'll always have my favorite bands. I have tons of favorites, but Metric was my first favorite. It's like picking your most treasured child. Sometimes, it just comes easy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

From Fat to Phat: Vol. 1

I have been n a 1200 calorie diet for a solid week now. Here is the straight facts: I've lost 5 lbs. I've cheated minimally. I hate broccoli.

How I feel about the weight loss cannot be measured in numbers. I feel great. I have a lot more energy and catch myself dancing I'm so happy. My stomach has a hunger pains feeling almost all the time. It's really neat. It's like I've done one-hundred-fifty crunches and am feeling the burn all the time. This makes me think of a hackneyed quote from Kate Moss, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." I know it seems ridiculous, but I can understand how extreme dieting is addictive.

Jared told me a small story once. Back story: His best friend dropped a lot of weight over a short period of time by eating very little. They were eating some Hershey Kisses and his friend ate one and hesitated before eating another. He felt that if he had a second one he would get fat again.

I can understand this feeling. I've been packing a Tootsie Pop in my lunch everyday in case I have intense stomach cramps, lightheadedness, a hot flash... basically anything that alarms me that I haven't eaten enough that day (yay hypoglycemia). At the same time I fight back some serious guilt about eating that Tootsie Pop. I think that since the Tootsie Pop is 90 calories I should stand through all my breaks to make up for the excess.

I've also learned a few things about myself: I love hard-boiled eggs with a little salt and pepper. Raw broccoli makes me want to die inside. Red lettuce is bitter. Beans split if you soak them too long. Sweet Tea with Splenda is very similar to Sweet Tea with sugar only easier to make.

This week I made a bean salad with tomato, lettuce, cucumber, mozzarella, Italian dressing, and salsa. I also cooked a beef sirloin roast with an herb rub and oven roasted potatoes. I have waffles, strawberries and hard boiled eggs for breakfast. Somewhere in there is a green salad and melon. Graham crackers and rice cakes for snacks.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sushi and Shopping

Sunday is Jared and my date night. We went to Dubuque and ate dinner at Taiko. This threw off my diet a bit. I ate a hard boiled egg, toast and a banana for breakfast. We split a sushi roll that the waitress recommended, whatever E37 is was delicious. We also split the 10 pc sushi plate we normally share. :)

Sushi was a little strange, because I filled up before my plate was cleared.

We went shopping a little. I bought some Bass rubber boots for the slushy future. And, I got a yellow sweater which I was looking for this winter. Jared (Thank god) bought two pairs of jeans. Hopefully these will replace the shocking number of buttonless, strangely worn and stained pants he has collected.

I did make a small not-used-to-having-an-employed-boyfriend mistake. I was in dresses checking out yellow dot Calvin Kleins and Jared was all, "Hey, I'm going to go shop over here," and pointed towards the front of the store. I bumped into him, both of us empty handed. Apparently he was entertaining the jewelry lady trying to find me something.

The rubber boots were a good idea because my TOMS are not going to survive the amount of melted snow I'm going to walk through while I'm living in the Midwest (possibly forever).

I have decided that I need to make a move out calendar and a weigh in calendar. I'm also going to plan to reward myself for weight loss. Maybe some red canvas TOMS for 10 lbs (145) and a nice dress for 20 lbs (135).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

All I Can Say Is, "Yay"

Diet Update:
I'm on day three of my diet and in an effort to shame myself into sticking with it I'm going to record my slips here.

On Thursday, I had to go home from work because I was having stomach pains. I thought I was going to get what I gingerly call "stomach sick." But! I didn't break my diet... I did however take a pain killer. Which I do not like to do. I'm not a big believer in the safety of over-the-counter drugs.

On Friday, at about the same time as Monday I got those pesky stomach pains again, so I ate a Tootsie Pop. That did the trick so I will be including them in my work lunch for now on just in case. I don't like missing work for any reason, even if I am sick.

Today (Saturday), I ate a hot dog on wheat bread and two slices of grape fruit. I skipped the mini rice cakes and the orange. (Why only a few slivers of grape fruit and no orange? Because I managed to cut my thumb on my peeling hand.) I'm not feeling bad about the hot dog because I walked 1.2 miles to HR Block today.

According to the scale at work, I've lost 4 lbs this week. My stomach feels tighter. I'm pretty happy with this so far.

In other news:
I'm getting back an amazing tax return from 2010 and filing an ammendment for 2009. This means I'll have over ... wait for it... $5000.00 to move with in my bank account alone by April.

If everything goes to plan Jared and I will be living in Minneapolis April 1st; I will be 20 pounds lighter (3 lbs a week for 7 weeks); we'll get jobs and then a puppy!

Living the dream.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Diet Change

Today I went to see a dietitian. She gave me a little print out with recipes, so that I eat 1200 calories a day. I just finished cooking my meals for the next seven days. For breakfast I will have a hard-boiled egg, a slice of toast, an orange and plain yogurt. For lunch I will have a turkey sandwich with Havarti on whole wheat bread with lettuce and mustard. As a side I will have a handful of raw broccoli and another handful of grapes. For dinner I have prepared a pasta salad with mushrooms, green peppers, whole grain pasta and olive oil. This will be paired with a 3 oz serving of chicken and Herb de Penze and a small salad. I have 1% milk, rice cakes and graham crackers for snacks. I purchased Splenda for my sweet tea and Coke Zero to cut down on empty calories.

That's my new diet. Next week I'll have a different menu.

I want to say that shopping like an adult was shocking. I kept looking in the cart thinking something was wrong. There was just too much food. And, when I checked out the total was twice as much as I normally spend on groceries a week.

Because my schedule is so backwards, I'm going to eat breakfast when I get home for work, dinner when I wake up and lunch at 7:50 pm when I have my dinner break.

Wake Up
12:30 pm Dinner
3:30 pm Snack
7:50 pm Lunch
9:50 pm Snack
1:30 am Breakfast
3:30 am Sleep
Or something like that. My dietitian says that because I'm hypoglycemic I get two snacks. Party fun time.

I would like to try dieting like this for 90 days. I start when I wake up today.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Recreational Shopping

Today I went shopping at the Kennedy Mall in Dubuque, IA with a $100.00 budget. I wanted a waist belt that was not black and a pair of gold hoop earrings. I did go over budget by $4.29. Here is what I bought including ticketed price and price at purchase.

10K Earrings

10k Yellow Gold Hoop Earrings
Ticketed: $120.00
Price at Purchase: $25.20

Bronze Colored Waist Belt
Ticketed: $32.00
Price at Purchase: $3.82
Fossil Heirloom Crossbody

Fossil Heirloom Crossbody in Black
Ticketed: $128.00
Price at Purchase: $24.48

Floral Laptop Case
Ticketed: $34.00
Price at Purchase: $6.37

Floral Laptop Case
Kirra Floral Navy Tank Top
Ticketed: $22.50
Price at Purchase: $7.49

Kirra Sheer Navy Button Up
Ticketed: $29.50
Price at Purchase: $9.99

Kirra Ivory Top
Ticketed: $22.50
Price at Purchase: $4.99
Kirra Sheer Button Up (Black)

Kirra Ivory Top II
Ticketed: $22.50
Price at Purchase: $4.99

Kirra Gray Lace Top
Ticketed: $22.50
Price at Purchase: $4.99

Pig Calender
Ticketed: $12.99
Price at Purchase: $4.99

Raccoon Puppet
Ticketed: $13.99
Price at Purchase: $6.98

Ticketed: $460.48
Price at Purchase: $104.29

And, that is how Holley shops.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Memoirs of a Warranty Holder

Do you want to hear it like it's girl meets tech and the rest is history? I'm going to tell it like a flashback story.

I type to you now from my new Lenovo S10-3. It is smaller than the one I purchased in 2007, and features an LED screen, larger memory, full sized keyboard and bluetooth capabilities. It also runs Windows 7 Starter (which has some downfalls). The casing is surprisingly a checked red.

I did not pay a dime for this netbook.

This all started in early 2010 when my netbook acquired a rootkit virus. I then had Brandon and my then roommate Garrett take a look at it. Brandon reinstalled Windows as a separate partition, but the kitroot was still in my computer. Garrett tried to use a USB thumb drive to install Ubuntu, but instead deleted all the partitions to my laptop. He then reinstalled Ubuntu on to my laptop. I used Ubuntu for a few months, but in May I was able to send in my netbook to be reimaged. I also asked to have my USB ports looked at, because the connection was loose.

I got back my netbook within a week with a newly reimaged hard drive and no change to the USB ports.

In November, my power cord started to lose connection. I received a replacement soon after reporting the failure; only, the replacement I received was half white and half black. I called in the discrepancy after realizing that it bothered me so much. A week passed, and I received nothing, so I called again. They told me it should be here, and they were sending another power cord. Three days later at a thrilling 8 AM, UPS called and asked for a current address. Lenovo had sent two sets of power cords to the address I lived at in 2008. Both sets of cords were delivered that day to the proper address. What I thought was funny (and not funny haha) was that one set of cords was the correct type and a solid black, the other was for a laptop I didn't own. I sent the mismatched cord and the incorrect cord back to Lenovo the next day.

This December, I was watching Confessions of a Shopaholic. I had reached the scene where a line of shoppers waited for entry into a sample sale. A second door was opened and the women ran screaming into the sale room. My computer froze in the middle of a high pitched wail. I held power button hoping to god to make it stop.

I called Lenovo reporting the hard drive failure as well as my USB ports being loose, and received a box to ship my laptop in for service two days later. I received it back right before New Years. The hard drive was replaced, but the case suffered cosmetic damages including scratches and cracks to the exterior. The machine also ran hot.

I contacted Lenovo about how I received my netbook, and was told that I would be contacted by a Customer Service Representative that handles incidents like this. Instead I was contacted by a Lenovo executive who sometimes handles these calls personally to hear about problems first hand. We took about two and a half weeks to talk to eachother, mostly because of my new sleep schedule.

He told me that most likely the parts and shipping costs for my netbook exceeded the price of a new netbook. He was sending me out a new netbook, and I was to send in my old netbook once I received its replacement.

And, here I am today new netbook in hand sharing the best advice I can give: If you own something of great value (at least to you) always renew the warranty. I renewed my warranty twice for $69.95 a year, have sent in my laptop twice and needed to replace a part. Knowing that the company I buy a computer from will do what they can to solve my netbook ills is priceless.
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