365 Challenge Revisited

I have really been struggling with the 365 photo challenge recently. In fact I have started to resent it. I love my camera and taking photos, but I got to the point that it was becoming a chore for me to take a photo each day. I found more often than not that it would be around 9:00 or 9:30, and I would be getting ready for bed when I realized that I didn’t take a photo. In turn I would grab my camera and just shoot something that wasn’t that great or didn’t really interest me. Now that the cold months are here, I struggle with finding subjects to shoot anyway. I don’t want to start hating my camera and my photography just because I feel I have to get a photo in each day.

I will continue trying to take a photo each day, but I am not going to beat myself up or get upset if I miss a day or two. In fact, I have missed many days in November. I have a few to catch up on, but I am no longer going to let the 365 challenge hang around my neck like a noose. I will begin to love my camera again and enjoy shooting photos instead of feeling forced to.

If you read my blog just for photography, I apologize that you may not get a photo each day. I am going to try my hardest to continue with my photography each day, but it may not be as consistent as it has been in the past.

Here is what I have to catch up on from earlier this month. I did take a photo today, though. I am home sick with a sinus infection, but the frosty morning was too beautiful to pass up.

Puppy foot! Miss Rose was lying on the couch sleeping and I thought she was so cute. I wanted to capture just a piece of her.

This picture makes me giggle. It was a beautiful day outside, so I opened the door to the deck. Instead of going outside to enjoy the day, Bandit sat in front of the open door. He usually goes outside and sunbathes, but I guess he didn’t want to actually go outside.

Another photo that makes me giggle. Rose was sound asleep on the floor and was sleeping with her tongue sticking out. Silly little girl.

Bandit being Bandit.

A beautiful frosty morning.

And there ya have it folks. A catch-up of the few pictures from the past few weeks. Again, I will try to get a photo each day, but I don’t want it to become a chore again. I want to love and enjoy my photography still and not feel burdened by it.

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Six Thing Sunday: Sick Edition

So, I’m sick. It wouldn’t be a holiday weekend without me catching something. I am in the middle of a full-blown sinus infection. I was up for about 2 hours last night and may or may not have had a breakdown because I couldn’t sleep. My nose does not seem to want me to use both nostrils at the same time. It is rather annoying.

On the flip side, we are home from our holiday trip and back together with the dogs. They have not done much but sleep since we got home. I think they are completely worn out from being at my parents’ house with two other dogs. I definitely don’t mind the snuggles while I am sick.

Today for my six thing Sunday list I am going to list six TV shows that the hubs and/or I watch. Since getting rid of Directv, we have a show schedule that we actually have to keep up with since we can’t record shows anymore. (Although all of these shows can be seen online if we do miss one.)

1. Gray’s Anatomy- I watch this on my own, and I usually watch it on my computer the next day. I love it and have watched every episode since the pilot. It gets a bit ridiculous at times, but I still enjoy this guilty pleasure.

2. The Sing Off- Hubs and I watch this together. He is much more musically inclined than I am, so he hears things better than I do. I just enjoy this for the entertainment factor.

3. The Office- The first time I saw the pilot for this show, I thought it was terrible. I did not watch it until Hubs and I happened to be at his brother’s house, and they were watching the DVDs. We got hooked and have enjoyed it since.

4. Whitney- This is a new sitcom that we enjoy quite a bit. It is a little goofy, but we find ourselves laughing each episode.

5. Up All Night- We just started watching this recently. It is a cute sitcom. Nothing ground-breaking, but entertainment nonetheless.

6. Man Up- We saw our first episode of this over the weekend, and it was hilarious! This will now be in the weekly rotation.

We used to watch a lot of other shows, but we have it narrowed down and have our weekly schedule figured out. I find that I watch a whole lot less TV without Directv, which is definitely one of things I wanted by getting rid of it.

Do you have any favorite shows that you can’t bear to miss?

Happy Thanksgiving

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I have been out of town visiting family. We had a great Thanksgiving dinner (lunch) today, and have been just hanging out for the rest of the time. Tomorrow we are planning on doing some shopping tomorrow, but don’t worry, I only brought money for gifts. No buying anything for myself!

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving! I will be back on Sunday for my 6 Thing Sunday edition.

Don’t forget about your budget on Black Friday. It doesn’t want to be neglected!

6 Thing Sunday

I finally updated my sidebars. It’s not pretty. My debt is slowly creeping down, but our savings took a huge hit. Last month we decided to cancel our Directv. Since we broke our contract with them it was a $300 fee on top of what we normally pay them. We had to take this out of savings. The only nice thing is that by not having a Directv payment each month, we will make up that $300 in about 3 months. Not too bad!

Here is my 6 Thing Sunday- Another debt edition. Last week I told you 6 things that I would spend my money on when we get out of debt. (If you missed it, you can read it here.)Today I am going to tell you 6 things that I will not spend my money on even when we get out of debt.

1. Dog clothes- Bandit has one sweater (from my pre-debt days) and a Halloween costume. This is more than enough for us.

2. Designer clothes- Right now I buy my clothes gently used from second-hand shops. Even when we are out of debt, I can’t imagine spending some of the prices for designer clothes. It’s outrageous!

3. New furniture- I would love to start re-purposing old furniture. I don’t have any right now, but once we have some or can pay to get some, I can see myself getting old furniture to re-purpose instead of buying brand new.

4. Jewelry- I am not a big jewelry wearer. I have my wedding ring and a set of earring studs on right now. This is typical and even when I dress us for nice occasions, I tend to not put on jewelry.

5. Manicures- Last week I said I would spend money on pedicures, but I will not spend money on manicures. My hands never stay nice and pretty after a manicure, so there is no reason to waste money on one.

6. Clutter- This is a very broad term. I am currently going through my house like a mad woman and am trying to get rid of anything that is not a necessity or something that I use on a regular basis. I refuse to let myself waste money on things to clutter up my home again. Clutter makes a room look messy… no matter how cute the clutter is.

And there ya have it, folks. 6 things I will not spend my money on even when I have more money to spend.

I can’t guarantee I will be back to post during this week. Hubs and I are traveling out of town for Thanksgiving, and I don’t know if I will have time to post. I assure you that I will be back for 6 Thing Sunday next week. Don’t miss me too much!

Bad Blogger

I feel as though I am being pulled in so many directions that things are being neglected. My blog is neglected, my daily photo is sorely neglected, my kitchen and house are neglected. Luckily my school work is getting done, teaching is happening, and my photography business is still going strong (check out my business blog here.) Oh, and don’t worry… the dogs are not neglected at all (although Rose may beg to differ since she hasn’t had a walk in a while).

I am hoping to get somewhat caught up this weekend. I have been doing a good job at keeping up with homework and actually got one assignment done a few weeks in advance! I am also keeping up with my budget and updating my checkbook and spreadsheet. I changed my spreadsheet about a week ago and am super happy with the simplicity of the one that I now have. It is much easier to manage and doesn’t take as long to update.

In budget news, I got a flu shot today. Insurance covered part of it, so it ended up being only about $13. Fantastic news! I love saving money wherever I can! In other budget news, I am going to start carpooling with a girl from my work! This will help save both of us some money! That’s always awesome! (I used a lot of exclamation marks in that paragraph. I guess I am really excited about my budget today.)

This weekend’s to-do list is about as long as my arm. I have so many chores at home to do. I can’t neglect them any longer because we are going out of town for Thanksgiving. If I neglect them over Thanksgiving, I don’t want to see what kind of science experiments will be growing by the time I get back.
I have work stuff to do. Hubs and I are leaving early to drive to Chicago, so I have to be planned completely for a sub on Tuesday. Sometimes it is just easier to stay at work instead of leaving. Sub plans can be a pain!
I have some things that need to get mailed. I am going to work on my Christmas cards this weekend. I need to clean everything that I can see. I want to tackle our guest room some more. I am sure there are more things, but I am too tired right now to think straight.

I also need to empty out my memory card on my camera and see how far behind I am with my photos. I think I have missed 3 days. I really need to get better at this. I just get bored taking photos in the house. It’s getting chilly out and things just don’t look as pretty outside anymore. I just need to get over the excuses and get to work.

Well, hopefully I will be back this weekend… I know I will be back for 6 Thing Sunday. You won’t want to miss it! It is similar to last week’s list, but even better!

Six Thing Sunday: Debt Style

I have decided that I feel so very alone in our debt journey. I feel like we are the only ones dealing with getting out of debt and feeling any urgency about it. I think this is why I follow so many personal finance and debt journey blogs: to not feel so isolated. I know what we are doing is the right thing, but by golly, it’s hard. I hate how long it takes. I feel like we should be able to make bigger dents in our debt than we do. I also feel like we will get things just figured out and something else will happen and cause us to take a step back. It’s very frustrating!

Enough complaining and on to the fun part of the blog.

For today’s 6 Thing Sunday, I am going to list 6 things that I will spend my money on when we are out of debt. These are things that I don’t spend our money on now because of their expense.

1. Eyebrow waxing- I hate tweezing my brows, and I am not very good at it. I used to get my eyebrows waxed, and it made me feel so much better.

2. Pedicures- I am not planning on doing these weekly. I think I may aim at once a month during sandal season.

3. Camera Equipment- Now, I did spend some money on a new lens this year because of a bit of a bonus, but I can guarantee that won’t happen again until we are out of debt.

4. Professional Hair Cut- I currently spend about $5-$10 on a hair cut at our local beauty school. I think they do a good job, but I would love to have a professional cut my hair when it is actually do for a cut.

5. A new computer- Hubs and I have pretty old computers, and it would be fantastic if we could both afford new ones. Maybe someday.

6. New (to me) clothes- I can’t even remember the last time I spent money on new clothes. They are getting to look pretty ratty. I still don’t think I will be able to convince myself to spend full price, but would rather go to second-hand stores to get my clothes. I just want new-er clothes.

And there you have it! Next week, I think I am going to put a list of things I will not spend my money on even after we are out of debt.

What are some things that you hope to spend your money on when you are out of debt? Or if you aren’t struggling with debt, what are some splurges that you allow yourself?

Here is my photo from today. Bandit loves to lie on the stairs and soak up the sun. He was lying on the first step and resting his head up on the landing. So cute!

Oh Saturday

Do you ever have those days when you have a long to-do list, but absolutely no motivation? If you answered “no” then feel free to take my to-do list and get it done. If you answered “yes” then thank you. You make me feel normal.

I started my day by waking up around 7:30. This probably is because I went to bed around 9:00 last night. I had a photo shoot at 9:30 this morning, and all people involved were sure it was going to be sunny and around 60. Well, that was a lie. It was around 50, windy, and cloudy. Not ideal for a photo shoot. I do have to say, though, that I love the way the photos turned out! The family I photographed is super cute, and the couple’s little boy is darling!

I got home from the shoot around 11:00, and had some lunch. Then I edited a few photos and took a nap. I have a million and a half things to do around the house, but I haven’t wanted to do any of them! I woke up from my nap and at least now it is sunny and 61 (but still insanely windy). Not too shabby. Maybe letting the sun in will give me some motivation… and Vitamin D.

In the mean time, enjoy some of the photos from the shoot today. I will be back tomorrow with my 6 Thing Sunday edition.


Picture Dump

Hello friends! Just thought I would update you on some quick financial things going on in our lives. First, I am getting a raise! Not much and not what I am owed, but I will take it. I am moving horizontally and vertically on the pay scale. The district I work at owes us 3 years of vertical movement, but that isn’t happening. I am just happy we are getting any movement at all. Before taxes it will be about $100 extra a month. I am happy about that!

Another financial thing that has happened is that we got rid of Directv. We are super happy about this! It is going to be about a $400 bill to break the contract, but the savings will be made up in no time. We did buy a $20 antenna and have local channels, so we are not completely without entertainment.

That’s about it on the financial front. I haven’t updated my sidebars, but I will do that soon… hopefully this weekend.

And now on to the photos. You can probably tell that the weather has gotten a bit cold. I am not getting out as much as I used to, so we are upping the number of dog photos. I did try to do some other photos during the week.

Because we got rid of Directv, we were able to move the tv off the mantle and rearrange a little bit. Here is how we redecorated our mantle. All of these items were ones that we already had, so no money spent. I really like the way it turned out.

Here is Rose resting. I am not sure if she understands how to use the little bed. This is pretty much how she is lying on the bed right now. So sweet!

I thought Mr. Bandit said his feet were cold, so I lent him some socks. He seemed very happy about it.


This picture was my attempt to play with my manual focus. I think I did a pretty good job on this one. She is so pretty.

Here is Rose interrupting a different picture that I was trying to take.

And now some other miscellaneous photos that are not technically “365 Photos” but ones that I took nonetheless.Here is a close up of the mantle. The big bowl on top was a gift from my brother. He and his wife go it for us from Italy. I have not actually used it for food. It’s too pretty.

Here is Bandit. He normally only has one snaggle tooth, but this time he is showing a beautiful toothy smile. He could use some braces, but I don’t think that is in the budget.

Here is the picture I was trying to get when Rose walked in the way. This is my big project right now. I am working on purging and cleaning the guest room. I am learning that I am tired of stuff and want to get as much of it out of my house as possible. I have two large Goodwill boxes and have pared down on my scrapbooking supplies quite a bit.

Here is the closet I have been working on. It is getting cleaner and it makes me happy. 🙂

Here is where my scrapbooking supplies are housed. All of those cubbies were full and I am down from 17 cubbies to 9 cubbies of stuff. This also makes me happy. 🙂

So, that’s a lot of information about me and my house that you may or may not have wanted to know. I hope you have had a great week and are going to have a great rest of the week and weekend!

Six Thing Sunday: Confession Style

So, I’m going to start something new. I don’t care if you like it or not, I want to. A lot of people on the blogosphere have been doing “Five Thing Friday.” I think the number 5 is a rather odd number. (Haha! Get it… I’m a math nerd. 5 is an odd number).

Anyways, I get bored on Sunday nights, so I am going to start a list type of post each Sunday evening. If you have been reading this blog for more than 6 minutes, you should know that I like lists. (I almost typed 5 minutes, but that would kind of negate the fact that I didn’t want to use 5 above.)

This week I am doing 6 confessions. I hope you enjoy. And if you are just here for pictures, I have a few, but am definitely not caught up yet.

Without further ado… 6 Thing Sunday

1. I do not read everything I should for my Masters classes. I have learned to skim very well. For example, I did not read the chapter I was supposed to last week. We had a quiz on it today and I got a 100%. Granted, I was able to use my book, I was still impressed with myself.

2. I highly dislike cleaning. I wish I liked cleaning. I really do because I like the look of clean things, but I do not like the process of cleaning. It sucks.

3. I sleep with a teddy bear and a stuffed penguin. The teddy bear was given to me from my grandpa on my first birthday. I have never slept without him… except a few times. First, he got locked in the cedar chest in a closet once. It was a rough winter for me (and probably for him). We found him the following spring. Second, he did not go to Italy with me. I was scared to death that I would lose him. I am sure he would have loved the culture of Italy, but I didn’t want to risk him. Third, he did not go on my honeymoon with me. The reasoning was the same as why he did not go to Italy with me.

4. I am a pen snob. I have a red pen case with all of my “chosen” pens. If a pen is not in my red pen case, then it is dead to me. I have an assortment of sharpie pens, BIC pens, a special multi-colored pen, and my super special pencils with 5 mm lead. I do not like writing with anything else.

5. I don’t really like alcohol. I can probably count the number of times I have actually been drunk on my two hands. I didn’t really drink until I was 21 (besides the occasional sips here and there). I didn’t even get drunk on my 21st birthday… that’s a story for another day. I don’t like the taste of alcohol that much, and I really don’t like the feeling of being drunk.

And last… 6… I hate when people comment on my weight. I am skinny. I am aware of this fact. I have a high metabolism. I am sorry that you don’t. If you wouldn’t want me to say something about your weight, then don’t say anything about mine… even if you think it’s a compliment. This is a huge pet peeve and drives me nuts!!

So, there are 6 random things that you probably never needed to know about me, nor really care about. I do hope that I helped you use up some of your Sunday evening reading instead of doing something terrible, like cleaning or reading a textbook.

And now to some pictures… Enjoy!

Bandit with his nose in the air. That’s how he rolls. He is pretty sure he is a royal dog, and I am not going to be the one to tell him otherwise.

Here is Bandit trying to lie down on two large stuffed animals. They were stacked on top of each other, but he knocked the stack over and fluffed it up until it was perfect for him to lie on. Such a silly dog.

I finally raised my ISO from 100 to 800 and was able to get a picture of Rose in the house (without flash). Woo-hoo! This is pretty Rose, and her pretty amber-colored eyes.

This picture is from my writing lesson on Friday. I am teaching my firsties how do persuasive writing. One of my students wanted to write a letter to his mom to try and get a hamster. This is what the class and I came up with.

I hope to be back with you sooner rather than later.

Pictures Will be Here this Weekend

Sorry about a no-picture post… again. I have been finishing up some editing and whatnot for clients, so my personal photos get pushed to the side. I actually have another session coming up in about a week and a half, so I am super excited about it!

So, like every month, November has snuck up on me without really noticing it. I need to do a re-cap of my October goals (which is going to be horrific) and let you know some of my November goals.

Financial
1. Get emergency fund up to $1000. We are very close and I know we can do it this month. Once we do this, we will be on our way to pay off debt at a faster rate. Big Fail! We were close and then we had some issues with Direct Loans and ended up paying a student loan twice, which we had to cover with some emergency money.
2. Do a better job at staying on budget. The areas that are most affected by this are the grocery category on a weekly occurrence and the eating out budget each month. I already went over on the grocery budget this past weekend because we had to restock a lot of household supplies. (Hubs face moisturizer, laundry detergent, paper towels, toothpaste, etc.) That stuff adds up (I even used coupons and bought on sale items for all of those). I would give myself a C. I did pretty well some weeks, but definitely not on budget as much as I would like.
3. Update budget weekly. I got bad about this last month and then I would have to go back and figure out what I was missing and whatnot. It took too much time. I don’t want that to happen this month. Another fail! I am terrible at remembering to do this. I tend to sit down when it’s time to pay bills and have to backlog all kinds of information. If I just spent 5-10 minutes a night, I wouldn’t have this problem.

Health and Fitness
1. Eat a fruit at each lunch. This is hard for me. I like sweet, but when I crave sweet, I want candy. Not fruit. I need to pack one each day for lunch and make sure to eat some each day. I would give myself a B. With the help of my lunch buddy, I have been doing pretty well at this. I am not so good on the weekends, but during the weeks I do a relatively good job. Today I brought an orange but it was so tart, I couldn’t force myself to finish it.
2. Walk a dog at least 3x a week. I am really good at walking Rose on Saturdays and/or Sundays. I need to buckle down and walk her or Bandit during the week also. F! Another fail! I suck at this goal each month. Maybe someday I will get better.

Work
1. Try to get each week planned during the week. I am very bad at spending all day Sunday at school or at home doing school work. I need to get better at using my time at school to do school stuff. Another fail! In fact I find that I plan one day in advance. Not so good if I have to get a sub. This will probably be another goal for November.
2. Keep better notes. I am not good at noting a lot of things that I probably should at school. I need to get better at doing this. I bought a notebook ($0.94, even though I really wanted the cute one that was $2.74) today at Wal-mart and will try to get in the habit of writing things
down. I give myself a C. I have gotten better than I was at the beginning of the month, but I do not keep enough notes. I have started to keep even more notes during my small group time, so I do think this will be even better with more time.
3. Keep a positive attitude. The days that I go in to school and am positive, the better the day goes. I need to start the day right everyday so we can have a good day everyday. Fail! I am a cranky B. I try to start my day in a positive manner, but it seems as though there is always something that really makes me mad or bugs me to the point that I am irked by the time the kids get in the room.

Masters
1. Dedicate 3 hours during the week to do homework. I have a bad habit of not doing any work for one class until Saturday. That leaves me working for 5-6 hours straight, and it would be much easier if I spread it out more. I failed this one! I haven’t been spending as much time on the weekends doing work, but I think that is because one of the professors has made the assignments easier to complete. Again, something I need to work on.

Personal
1. Leave the house more with Hubs. We seem to spend a lot of time in front of the tv on our couch. We need to make time to go on walks or hang out outside of the living room. I don’t think we have done very well at this. We don’t have much money to go do stuff, and it’s getting cold and neither of us like cold, so I don’t know how this will go.
2. Keep up with washing my face nightly. I have never been good at this, but have been doing better this past week. I hope to keep it up, and I am sure my face will thank me. Another fail. I just got out of the habit. Need to start it back up.
3. Start on Christmas cards this month. I know it is early, but if I do a couple a week, they will be done in no time! I get a gold star on this one! I did it! I have them started and even have a few finished! I need to figure out a complete list of who to send them to so I know exactly how many I need to make.
4. Take a picture a day! I have already missed a couple days, and I don’t want to miss anymore. Another fail. I have been so busy with lots of stuff, that my photo a day has been pushed to the side. I am not completely behind, but there are definitely some gaps in there.
5. Shoot and edit 2 photo sessions this month. These are already booked for a few weeks out, but I want to try and get everything edited and ready to go by the end of the month. This is an in between. I actually did 4 photo sessions and got 2 edited during the month. My third session was finished up last night and I am planning on finishing my fourth session tonight.

And now on to my November goals… many of them will be very similar to my October goals. One big difference is that we no longer have cable! That means that I have more time to do what I need/should be doing rather than turning my brain into mush in front of the television.

Financial
1. Get emergency fund up to $850. It is just going that high because we have some expenses coming up this month and we are unable to put in as much as normal.
2. Stay on budget. We are going to try it again.
3. Make at least $100 on the side through photo sessions and/or ebay sales.
4. Update budget daily… Yeah, we are going to try for daily.

Health and Fitness
1. Continue eating a fruit a day at lunch.
2. Do something active 3x a week. This could be take the dogs for a walk or do a yoga DVD. If I start now, that means I need to do something tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday to even get started on the right track.

Work
1. Get on top of planning. Good luck to me on this one.
2. Try to incorporate one fun activity a week.
3. Keep trying to write notes more often.
4. Keep a positive attitude.

Masters
1. Do some sort of homework each night. Even if this is read for 30 minutes, it will help spread things out a bit more.

Personal
1. Get back on the wagon with taking a daily picture.
2. Not just wash my face nightly, but also floss and brush my teeth. Judge me if you want, but I don’t always do that each night because I am too tired.
3. Finish Christmas cards.
4. Shoot and edit one photo session this month.
5. Blog at least 3 times a week.

I think that is it for now. Maybe I will actually get some passing grades this month. Wish me luck… and feel free to check in to see how my progress is going.