Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In the piggy bank

Dear Internet,

Right now, across dozens of sites, there are abandoned shopping carts. Abandoned by me. Probably 3, just today. I admit I love online shopping (H. calls it "secret shopping") and in my efforts to save money, I've loaded up and then skipped town empty-handed. It's so depressing.

Izzy's bagel budget has been slashed.
To aid my efforts, I've taken a couple drastic measures to keep my dollars.

1. I unsubscribed

I'm sorry, Digital Marketers. I have unsubscribed to a boatload of retailer emails lately. I'm a sucker for a sale, and they know it. So, step 1: unsubscribe. I already know it's made a difference. I think the mail guy at work knows something's up because I haven't gotten a package in weeks.

2. I shopped around

I recently discovered something: Amazon Fresh. I am a little unhappy to admit it, but Amazon Fresh - Amazon's grocery service - is kind of amazing. A lot of items are so much cheaper than my local stores, cheaper then Target even, and delivered right to my door at a time I choose. I'm sorry local grocery stores, but you do suck so I'm not that sorry. Get a decent produce section, for goodness sake. I've also made notes where Trader Joe's is cheaper, so I know what to get from TJ's, what to get from Amazon, or what is actually a bit cheaper from a local store. It's more footwork to shop around, but worth it for deals.

 3. I sold some junk on eBay

I hadn't done this in a few years, but I recently sold a bunch of things on eBay - all clothes, and mostly H's old Levi's.

I underestimated the cost on shipping on most items, which was super annoying. In the end, after shipping and eBay and PayPal fees, I probably only made $30. So is it worth it? I dunno. But that's $30 for groceries, I guess. Maybe if I was better at it/had more patience for it, I could do better.

4. I packed my lunch

When I consistently pack my/our lunches, it saves a ton of money, and happily, we've been pretty good about this in the past few weeks. Long-term, this is probably the best money-saving measure I can take.

5. I made dinner

Possibly this should just be 4.1., an addendum to the last trick. We order take out a lot. If you look at my order history on Grub Hub, it's actually embarrassing. Also, I eat a lot of burritos. Alas, the burrito days are over, or at least not as often.

No more begging on the street, kid.
What's next? I would love loooooove LOVE to cancel cable. I dream of telling Time Warner to make like a tree. We have Netflix, we have Chromecast. I'm open to Apple TV or Roku or anything else - but until English Premiere League soccer is available via one of those channels*, I'm afraid we'll have to keep the chord to keep H. happy.

Anyway. That's me. Do you have any more tried and true tips to keep your spending under control?

* - I know that NBC Live Extra does have an app but unless you have a cable subscription you can't access all the games.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The death of money

Oh, severe post title, right? That's just a cheap way to combine my topic with some photos I took today at the Green-Wood Cemetery.

Well, money, we had an ok run, but our time is up. I know I've said it before, but I mean it this time: we are on a strict budget.

We are determined to move out of this apartment at the end of our lease next summer. Yeah, we said it before. Several times. But several factors had us putting it off. No longer! We are out. Take note, Landlord! Also, we are buying a car. Take note, Car Salespersons!

So, in order to finance this move, we are on a budget. Which includes, but is not limited to: no more vacations.

Uggggh. That's the worst part of a budget. I love vacations! But no more until next July-ish. Excluding an upcoming to Gettysburg (a birthday present from me to my Civil War-obsessed love), a trip to London (a work trip, mostly) and Toronto at Christmas.

Other money-saving endeavors include; packing my lunch (like olden times), fewer burritos, and being less wasteful about grocery shopping and food wastage. Watch out, quinoa sitting in my cupboard!

So, here we are. On a budget. Wish me luck/send me your recipes for frozen spinach.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Just some pics from the weekend of L. and his new bubble contraption.

Monday, August 31, 2015

In the market for: dining chairs

Last summer (a whole year ago!) we arranged the apartment to make better use of our "guest room" (now playroom), add more counter and storage space in the kitchen with an island, and create a "dining room". They were big changes which I didn't document in any way.

We bought a small dining table from West Elm - the tiny Mid-Century Bistro Table.

It is teeny-tiny, and those of you with dining rooms fit for 12 are laughing - I can hear you! But it fits us, and we can even shove 4 adults on it when needed. Though, truth be told, we don't entertain all that much.

A few comments on this table. It is handsome, certainly, but it is delicate. Somehow we managed to scratch it before ever even putting a plate on it, and now with a year of use it's looking increasingly worn. Bummer.

Anyway, in the year that we've had the table, we've been using the crappy Ikea chairs that I bought off Craigslist 7 years ago. They are as ugly as they are uncomfortable.

Yuck. And if you're wondering why none of these chairs are pushed in, it's because the legs of the table are so narrowly spaced that you can't!

It doesn't fit!

Stupid chairs! Or stupid table! I'm not sure who is at fault here.

I've been looking for better chairs for the table for the last 12 months. Preferably something mid-century and not very expensive, but I would also consider something new that suits the table and the apartment. I've found nothing, though. Chairs are expensive, and I don't feel like dropping a grand on chairs.

Further complicating matters is that I have expensive taste. I've known this for a long time. This is my ideal dining chair:

Yeah, those are Moller chairs, this particular set was sold online for about $2,400 apparently.

Also, you'll notice, they probably wouldn't fit in the 13" between legs on my table.

I'm beginning to suspect that I will never buy chairs for this table, and that at some point - if/when we finally move - we will buy a real dining table and chairs. Then we will have a dinner party for 6 people and you're all invited!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A trip to Maine

I should move to Maine. I've thought this ever since I was an adolescent Stephen King fan, and I had never even been to Maine. But now I've got a few trips under my belt, and I'm thinking yes, I should move to Maine.

Anyway, we spent a week in Maine. A trip with my parents, my oldest friend (since age 3), her husband, child and her mother. A motley crew, indeed. We rented a huge house, booked over a year ago.

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. One Friday evening, after work, we set out to drive halfway to Friendship, Maine, where this blue house is.

On Friday night we drove up to Sturbridge, MA, and checked into the Old Sturbridge Inn & Reeder Family Lodges. I had chosen this hotel and location randomly, but it was great. Not only was it roomy, clean and inexpensive, it was fun and friendly and had a playground for our Saturday morning playground ritual.

We also visited the Old Sturbridge Village while there, which was fun for L. before another long drive.

How we roll
Day 2, Saturday, we drove up to Brunswick, ME. Nothing tremendous to say about this play, though there is a fine Target nearby, and we spent some time in Freeport - an outlet town and L.L. Bean HQ. Again, not much to report, but that the L.L. Bean store is a surprisingly good attraction for a 2 year old.

Day 3, we finally get the house. We had a Sunday to Sunday rental. The house is located near Friendship, ME, which is near Waldoboro, which is near Damariscotta, and you should just get a map.

The location was a good start for visiting Damariscotta, Boothbay, Rockland and Belfast - all of which were haunted by us and out merry gang of misfits. Some photo highlights.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Our little beach

Beach, more like snail graveyard


Hermit crab hunting

I ordered lobster!

Needless to say, we had an amazing time. L. was in heaven - Granny, Grandpa, friends, dogs and lots of outdoors to run around in. We also fit in a couple kid-friendly visits on the trip, so if you're planning a trip to mid-coast Maine with friends, let me recommend:

Boothbay Railway Village:

If you have, or are, a train-enthusiast, this is the place for you. Lots to see, a train to ride, and a vintage car exhibit that was, even for me, kind of cool

Weirdly, L's favorite part of the whole thing was the model train.

The Mid-coast Children's Museum:

A fun, cheap, morning for a little one. L. liked it, being 2, but probably not a ton of fun for the over 6 set. Also, "museum" is a bit of a stretch. A fun activity center, for sure, though.

But, most of all, L. love just playing in the water and catching hermit crabs (catch and release!). Every morning and every evening when the tide was out, we'd go out and play.

One night we even had lobster, prepared by H. and A. Avert your eyes if you don't like lobster murder.

All in all, a wonderful week. Coming back to the city was depressing, to say the least. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

These are the doors I know, I know, I know

This morning my kid woke up at 5, and my cat barfed all over the place. It was not a great start. At 7 we decided to take advantage of the early riser and head over to the nice playground at Owl's Head Park. Sometimes we go early and we're the only kids at the playground. It's pretty great.

It also gave me a chance to take some sneaky photos of some of the doors on our street that I like, without looking like a creep. Like this one, my personal fave.

My neighborhood, which is largely Hispanic and Chinese people now, was once filled with Scandinavian immigrants, and in certain doorways you can still find traces of them

It makes me sad that some of the original building names have been removed. Oh well.

Then there's these.

Looks secure.
These doors are all on my street, in the direction of the river and a more industrial area. If you go east you pass the swankier doors n the brownstones.

I only took one pic of a brownstone door, because people were starting to wake up and, as I said, I didn't want to look like a creep.
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