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Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Southern Gene

Do you think that it is possible to be missng a "Southern" gene?

I mean - all good southern girls are born with the ability to decorate a home at the drop of a hat!  Somehow or other I think that I missed that gene.

I mean - let's take the guest bathroom.  We have been talking about refreshing that bathroom for over a year now and I keep changing my mind - each time when it comes to buying the materials for the redo - I change my mind.  I have no confidence whatsoever when it comes to redecorating.

My living room floor needs to be "redone" and I can not decide how to refresh it.  One day I want to lighten it up.  This room has such delicous wood and upgraded features including a whole wall of built in bookshelves and beautiful cathedral ceiling.  I also want to replace the one window in the room (which is right by the door going outside) with french doors.

Now - do not get me started with the kitchen.  That is a MAJOR remake that has yet to be tackled.  I want to open it up and that is going to take tons of money...and I mean tons.

I estimate that $40,000 would take care of everything that I want to do!

Okay - rushing out to buy a lottery ticket because let's face it...THAT is a lot of money!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Being Southern

Thought for the Day
"In the South, the breeze blows softer...neighbors are friendlier, nosier, and more talkative. {By contrast with the Yankee, the Southerner never uses one word when ten or twenty will do}...This is a different place. Our way of thinking is different, as are our ways of seeing, laughing, singing, eating, meeting and parting. Our walk is different, as the old song goes, our talk and our names. Nothing about us is quite the same as in the country to the north and west. What we carry in our memories is different too, and that may explain everything else."
--Charles Kuralt in "Southerners: Portrait of a People"

I love this quote!  I remember when I first moved to Texas I felt such a longing for Alabama.  How I missed the familiarity of all my favorite stores, restaurants, family and the peace that comes from a southern environment.

I mean in the South – you can order tea and let’s face it – there is only one type of tea in the South…~SWEET~

You order tea here in Texas – and they ask sweet or unsweetened.

And Thanksgiving dressing?  One word here – CORNBREAD!  What is up with this stuffing?  That is just so not-Southern.

To this day I still make my southern dishes even after living in Texas for 38 years…oh my I have lived longer in Texas than I lived in Alabama.

What can I say about cheese straws, petit fours, magnolia trees  *sigh*

And let us not forget the sweet melodic southern drawl and the kindness of the southern belle?

You can take the girl out of Alabama but you can never take Alabama out of the girl!

I feel like I have come full circle now.  An Alabama girl born and raised…graduated from Bama…got married and shortly after moved to Texas.  I have raised two wonderful sons who have been exposed to the Alabama lifestyle and our Southern Family.  Jmmy - my oldest son has decided against both Alabama AND Texas and made his home in Colorado.  My youngest son made the decision to make Alabama his home – as he is now a student at Bama.  After all the years when I dreamt of moving back home to Alabama – my son Chris has realized my dreams!

Sweet Home Alabama and Roll Tide!


With love - Pat

Friday, January 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Chris

~whew~  I am a day behind in posting this so I am really beating myself up right about now!

It was 22 years ago -  January 20th that I had th privilege of holding Christopher Ross in my arms for the first time.  While I knew him for the last 9 months I could not wait to meet him in person and he did not disappoint.  True to form - much like his older brother Jimmy - Chris wanted to come into the world on his terms and schedule and not the doctor's date!  Now that I think back - it has always been about his schedule and to heck with mom's schedule!  *laughing*  Some things just never change...

BUT - I digress.  I remember that Friday the 20th just like it was yesterday.  I woke up that morning with those little telltale signs - the first onset of contractions.  I remember resting on the couch in the family room (January in Naperville, IL) and watching the inauguration of the first George Bush.  I knew deep down inside that this would be the day that Chris would be born.  I had always heard that the 2nd child would be a much faster delivery than the first so I was quite anxious to get this show on the road.    1 p.m. rolled around...okay...contractions too far apart to be concerned...2 p.m. - hmmm...about 15 minutes apart...okay Chris...do you not want to meet your mom and dad?  About this time I started craving Mexican food (a craving that would follow you through your life Chris). 

FINALLY around 5 p.m. - we decided to get serious and it was off to the hospital we went (of course during rush hour).  This delivery was a bit different than Jimmy's.  This time all the nurses were very laid back (who would have figured this in Chicago?) and that helped me relax too.

All in all - after about being at the hospital for about 4.5 hours you decided to bless us with your presence.

From that moment on - you have brought so much love and joy into our lives.  Your presence brought our small family of 3 to a family of  4.    Jimmy became a big brother that day - and I became a mother to two wonderful boys!

Happy Birthday Chris - I am so very proud of you and who you have become.

Good luck this semester at BAMA...remember...study...study...study!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What does it take to be financially independent?

I am a financial geek!

I stay at home on Saturday nights to watch the Suze Orman show.  I watch “Til Debt to us Part”.  AND…I look forward to listening to the Dave Ramsey show every day.  After all this “geekness” there is not much I haven’t heard yet about finances and planning.  I look at this constant need to keep on top of my finances as much like an addict needing to go to regular “12 step meetings”.  It keeps me committed to my financial goals.

I will be the first to admt that I check my checking account each and  every day – just in case something pops up that shouldn’t be there. This will allow me to catch it early enough to be proactive.    I also check my credit card statements on a regular basis – again to ensure that I do not get billed for something that I didn’t order.  Trust me – it has happen.  My son Chris happen to notice an odd charge on his checking account which grew to about 20 charges of $5.95 each.  That very quickly caused him to be overdrawn.  Thank goodness for the bank reimbursed him for these charges since he was observant and went to the bank to discuss these unauthorized charges.

I am always working on increasing my emergency fund, maxxing out my 401K and of course – paying my bills on time.  No need to incur addidtion charges for late payments.   It has been said that we should always contribute the maximum amount to our 401K that our employer matches.  I am very lucky to work for a company that matches my contributions up to 8%.  It would be crazy to not accept that generous gift.  Who would not accept a monetary gift like that?

Another thing that I do – which is a personal choice on my part.  I pray about my finances every day.  I first say my thanks/gratitude for the financial blessings that I have received and then I pray for guidance and for God’s will to be done in my life for my financial independence.  Financial independence can be different things for different people – for me it means – no credit card debt, no car payments, a fully funded emergency fund and a fully funded 401K.  There are several other things too but this is just a basic outline of some of my thoughts on how best to be finacially  absorbed – uh responsible on a day to day basis.

So – what does it take to be financially independent?  I am not sure yet and I may nevre know but I am going to give it my best shot!

How do you handle your finances

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I am the most unorganized Organizer!

Here it is...almost 10 p.m. and I am just now writing my blog! 

This is not a good way to start the new year - by missing a day of thoughts.

I have so many things that I want to write about and I know that I will in time but I first must realize that if I skip a day - that is okay too.

Now with that said - if I could be better organized -  I would be blogging earlier in the day??  It could happen!

I now it is January 18th and would you believe that I just ordered my 2011 calendar?  Yes - it is true...just today ordered it.  I ordered the large Flylady calendar.  Have you ever checked out Flylady?  She has this incredible..incredible webpage that happens thousands of women like me...the Underorganized Organizor.

Read more about Flylady here:

Flylady

Monday, January 17, 2011

Quote of the Day and Random thoughts

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."
- Romans 8:28


This quote has absolutely nothing to do with the following blog however when I read it today it spoke to me...and let's be honest here..when we stop and listen we will hear that which we need to hear!

I think that I will start posting these quotes when they appear in my inbox.  I will then always have a record of the quote(s) that touched me on that day.

So - on to the topic of the day....are you ready?  Are you really...truly ready?...well let's buckle up and move on to the burning topic of the day!

~BE STILL MY HEART!~

Will someone please tell me where all these wonderful blogs have been?  I mean seriously folks - this is the greatest things since...since...hmmmmm...Fern Michaels and her Sisterhood series.

For those of you loyal Fern Michaels readers - you will understand why I say this!

I find myself rushing to my computer first thing inthe morning...and I mean before 6:00 a.m. to read the most current blogs of my favorite bloggers!  I am consumed with reading these blogs and let's face it...it is much cheaper than going to Barnes and Nobles and buying a book.

The difference with reading these blogs - they are not fiction...not science fiction...these are true...from the heart dreams, wishes, thoughts and day to day words from people just like you and me!

 I would be less than truthful if I didn't say that I would love to think that my words touched someone else.  That I could weave the written word in such a way that someone else could not wait to read the words of wisdom that I share on here.

I am so NOT a creative writer but I am human and facing the trials and tribulations that every other person has in their life.  I can only dream that someday my words may touch you or many you's.  Who knows, maybe this might turn into a legacy of my life.

And yes - when the student is ready - the teacher shall come...

Dear fellow bloggers - thank you for being my teacher(s).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Goals and Such

Okay - here goes...my GOAL for 2011.

BLOGGING!!!  I am going to do it.  I want to leave a legacy of my life.  Okay maybe my life is not that terribly exciting but I would hope that someone (maybe Jimmy or Chris) would enjoy reading about my thoughts and accomplishments.

And then again - maybe they would say..."oh mom - that is so lame"

Super Saturday

Gratitude Journal:

I recently read/heard that one way to have happiness in one's life is to daily write in one's gratitude journal.

I am grateful for my two wonderful sons - Jimmy and Chris.  I am so very grateful that they have the ability to take a leap of faith and be true to themselves.  I am very grateful that they are not fearful to live.  I am grateful that they follow their dreams.

I am grateful to have a job that I absolutely love!  How many people can say that?  Most people drudgingly get up each Monday morning and drag themselves to work.  I on the other hand look forward to going to work each day.  Now don't get me wrong - there are days that I would love to just sleep in but in most cases - I look forward to the day's challenges at work.

I am grateful for Dallas - aka hyper-pooch!  She has brought much laughter and happiness into this home.

I am grateful for finding the many blogs that I have read.  It has opened many doors for me as far as ideas for the future.  Recipes - books and roads to travel.

I am very grateful for being born with an optimistic attitude that lets me see the glass half full!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fabulous Friday!

Well - today was "pay the bill" day...not so painful these days thanks to Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey!

How I would LOVE to dial into the Dave Ramsey and scream "I am debt free"!  Baby steps - it is all about baby steps!

My debt is not out of control BUT I do have some personal debt.  I would love to live off one pay check a month  and I could if I paid off one little monthly bill!  Well maybe not that little much of a little bill...it is a $325 per month car payment.  BUT the good news here I have less than 1 year left on this car loan.  Actually less than 4K and that car will be paid off.

Now - while talking about monthly bills - let's talk credit cards.  Here again - I am not in bad shape - just 3 cards with less than $1800 due.  That could easily be done by paying off the car too.  As Dave Ramsey says - let's pay off the smallest credit card first...and then the next one and then the next.  See how it goes?

THEN...I should be able to live off one check a month and bank the other check.  That wouldn't allow me to yell out "I am debt free" but it would get me so much closer!

I like this plan!  Okay - going to pay off the credit cards while making two car payments each month.  I could have all these bills paid off soon!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Choices

I consider myself a somewhat positive person.  I laugh and sometimes I even giggle.  I want to enjoy life...I want to live.  There were times in my life when I was so afraid of things that I didn't really experience life.

I also try to find the reasons why I can do something instead of dwelling on why I can not do it!

This morning I was listening to a radio station on my way to work and the DJs were talking about being happy.  This radio station has a husband and wife dj team.  The husband was talking about how his wife was always so happy.  The wife of the team commented that happiness is a choice and she chose to be happy and not waste her time wallowing in being miserable, unhappy or making others aound her unhappy.

My only regret is that I arrived at the office too soon and I could not hear the rest of the discusson.  Lucky for me I found the remainder of the conversation on the KVIL website:

http://1037litefm.radio.com/2011/01/13/come-on-get-happy/

My choice?  Happiness!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Baby it's cold outside!

Okay - I know that it is January but does it have to be this cold outside?  I mean - in the teens in the morning?  Poor hyper-pooch - aka Dallas - does not enjoy going outside to do her business when it is THIS cold.  Okay - so maybe I do not like going outside in this weather either!

The one good thing about impending cold weather is that it gets me motivated.  Yes - isn't that just so strange?  I get all domestic when it gets cold outside and head to the kitchen to cook.

So this week-end the menu consisted of chicken spaghetti and also a big batch of chili.  I am not what you would call a "domestic goddess" BUT I like to imagine myself as one.  It is not fun cooking when one is an emptynester.  BUT just a few notes about the cooking this weekend.

The chicken spaghetti was from a family recipe.  I add a bit more cheese and a bit more Rotel than the recipe calls for and let me tell you - DELISH!!!!

The chile was made from another interesting recipe.  I substituded Bloody Mary mix for the tomato sauce/puree/paste.  It sure did make a good pot of chili.

I also decided to venture out on a limb and bake a coconut cake.  Just a bit of inside info here.  I was raised on Rich's Coconut cake.  Any of you that have ever tasted the Rich's Department Store Coconut cake (an old Atlanta department store) will agree with me...THE BEST COCONUT cake EVER!!  So moist and so coconutty...is that a word?  Well...I decided to bake the cake the semi-homemade way.

I used:

1 box of Duncan Hines White Cake Mix - I made the cake according to the instructions with the exception of the liquid.  I used the Coconut milk instead of the liquids

1 can of Goya Coconut Milk

Bake according to the directions on the box.

Once I take the cake out I take a toothpick and place several small holes in the cake and pour more coconut milk over the cake for added moisture.  This also means that I do not waste the remainder of the coconut milk.

1 can of Vanilla Whipped Frosting - I doctored up the frosting with some coconut flavoring to make it taste more homemade

Coconut flavoring

Coconut

I then spread the semi-homemade cake with the semi-homemade icing and then top with coconut.

Not bad for a semi-homemade cake but I am still not pleased with the taste - still does not quite taste homemade so I will continue to perfect this recipe.

Any tasting volunteers?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The first workday after the Holidays

Well - it is here.  The Sunday evening before returning back to work.

You see - I have not worked a full day in the office since December 10th.  It is going to be rather difficult to get back into the swing of things.

Just a couple of goals for the upcoming week though -

1)  Try to go all week without drinking a soft drink.  Now for some people that might not be so difficult but I have on average two (2) soft drinks a day.  Okay - going cold turkey on Monday.

2)  Try to be a kind and understanding person who has patience.  Again - this might seem easy but too often I find myself not being as understanding with others as I should be.  So - let it begin with me.

Onward to Monday!

Pat

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Emergency Funds and why they are so important!

I love Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey - love...love...love them!

If you have had the opportunity to listen to their wise words about getting your financial life in order you will be familiar with their thoughts on Emergency Funds.

Interestingly they both have some great ideas.  For instance - Suze says that we really should have a 8 month emergency fund because heaven forbid that we lose our jobs and have to live on our savings until we find new employment.  When you stop and think about 8 months worth of expenses put back as an emergency fund it can be very intimidating...right?

Well Dave Ramsey puts it into workable steps.  One day at a time plan shall we say?  Your first goal should be putting $1000 back as an emergency fund.  Now - that sounds so much easier than being intimdated with the 8 month goal now doesn't it?  Baby steps..save the first $1000 and then begin on the second $1000.  Before you know it you will have a completely funded emergency fund.

Just one word about having an emergency fund.  IT WORKS!!!  Last August when I received the Alabama Fall Semester tuition bill for Chris - I was more than a bit shocked.  You see - I had calculated and recalculated and finacially planned for his first year at Bama.  Imagine my surprise when his tuition was $6,000 more than I had expected.  And this was just for 1 semester too!  Surely this must have been a mistake that Alabama made but again much to my surprise they were correct.  I live in Texas and while Chris has been in college in Alabama for 3 years (and paying tuition as in in-state student) he was considered out-of-state by the University of Alabama.

Now - once I got over the shock of owing $10K instead of $4K  for the fall semester I had to find a way to pay this amount in 1 week's time.

As much as I hated to touch the "emergency fund"  I quickly justified this was  a true emergency.  I had to fund the tuition in some way and I am very thankful that I had enough in my emergency fund to pay this unplanned emergency expense and still have some money left over for other emergencies.

Now I had to think about replenishing this fund quickly because I knew that I would have to pay the same amount in just 4 short months.

If I did not have an emergency fund in place I would not have been able to fund my son's education this year.

If you do not have an emergency fund - it is not too late to start one.  I highly recommend it and hopefully this little blog with motivate others to start funding this very special account if you haven't already.

Pat