Friday, September 28, 2012

Dear Daughter, Please Stop Texting

It drives my dad crazy when I text.
Even though I explain that it makes him sound like an old man, he can't help but say
"Kate! Stop texting!!"
whenever I look at my phone.
My general (annoyed-teenager-sounding) response
"I'm NOT texting!"
My dad is super subtle, right?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pet Loss And Why I'm Not A Halloweener

Last night, I received a very sad message from a friend who had to put down her beautiful Rottweiler. He had cancer and it was the right thing to do, but it is NEVER easy.
Then, this morning, I saw that Clemence from Oh the lovely things lost her mew recently.
The timing is impeccable because I was already thinking about loss. This time of year hits me pretty hard and I'm so sad to add another soul lost to the list. October and November are my least favorite months because of this sadness. It's not that I don't like Halloween. It's that Halloween has been tinged with darkness since 1995, when I spent it in a rocking chair in a dark living room, listening to my dad cry in the next room. And since then, the sad has piled up. Cats and dogs and people...they just don't seem to last through the season around here.
I just want to go home and cuddle my mews. Am I off work yet?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dear All Friends Who Are Currently In Relationships


Dear all friends who are currently in relationships,

I don't understand you.

I don't.

I don't know if I can ever be you. Some days, I really want to be you - all cuddly and smooshy and moving forward with your life plans-y.

But other days, I look at you making these huge compromises. And I think...I could never do that. I mean, I've been in relationships. Long-term ones! But I don't think I ever was that person who gave herself so completely to anyone that she lost HERSELF. I've always been Katie. Not KatieandVictor or KatieandPercy or -- you can tell I'm making up these names, right?

This weekend, I saw a friend who doesn't hang out with us very often and I asked if he was attending a birthday party the following day. His response: "Not sure, gotta see what the boss [i.e. his wife] is doing." I almost died. I mean, WHAT?! If I want to go to a party, I'll go to a party. And in this case, the birthday boy was a very good friend of his, like groomsmen at each other's weddings sort of good friend. I couldn't comprehend the maybe.

Now, I understand the glow of new love. And I understand checking with your spouse to see if they're already making dinner before you make plans to go out to happy hour. But I don't understand this whole concept of not doing something unless your partner wants to.

Did you all lose your identities?! I am a person who likes to go to farmers' markets. If I were dating a boy who didn't (god forbid), should I stop going because we can only do things together?

Um, that answer is no, by the way. NO. I should keep going - with boyfriend, or without boyfriend. His preferences don't change MY preferences.

I know that relationships come in all sizes - and that every couple has their own way of communicating. But I so strongly believe that you should not give away your decision-making power. And you should not give up your likes and dislikes. And you should have some things that you maybe even do by yourself.

And maybe...this is why I'm single.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Shana Tovah U'Metukah

Tonight marks the second night of Rosh Hashanah and though I'm not Jewish, I like to celebrate this holiday because the meaning resonates with me. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the Jewish year, and to Jews, the birthday of mankind. The general idea is that one must accept God as King, and that God's desire to continue creating the world rests on this acceptance. I don't know about that part, but I love the themes of renewal, hope, giving thanks, abundance, and clean slates.

I explained a bit about the apples and honey tradition in this post here and for the past few years, I've taken time to sit down and dip apples into honey.

This year, I'm going to add pomegranates and challah bread, as my local Jewish Center now sells fresh challah. Pomegranates are eaten as they symbolize the wish to have a year full of good deeds, just as pomegranates are filled wth juicy seeds. Challah bread is a centerpiece of any Jewish meal and symbolizes the food from heaven provided to the Jews after the exodus from Egypt.
Even if you're not Jewish (as I'm not), I hope you can appreciate the meaning behind this day - and shana tovah u'metukah
(wishing you a sweet and happy new year)!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Katie & Anthony: Maternity Shoot!

Last week, I was lucky to be a part of a magical day: my good friends Katie and Anthony asked Jonathan and I to help them with a maternity shoot. Jon and I have done this a few times for friends - he takes the pictures, I do the styling/editing. This was our first maternity shoot, though, AND our first outdoor venue. I do think they turned out pretty well, though! Here are some of my favorites!


Didn't they turn out lovely? Feel free to pin your favorites - just follow me on pinterest!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kate Has Debt: What I'm Doing To Get Out Of This Mess

In my new series, Kate Has Debt, I am tackling the big questions about debt. I started with How Did I get Into This Mess?! and here is the next step:

What Am I Doing To Get Out Of This Mess?!

Well, for starters, I have instituted some ideas I got from Anna over at And Then She Saved, (an awesome blog). I am going on a spending diet. I probably should go on a spending fast, but I don't know if I have enough willpower for that. I am accustomed to my lifestyle, and while I understand it can't be sustained and that it's financially disastrous, I can't just stop. So, I'm going to ramp up. Or down. You know what I mean!

My list of NEEDS
1. Rent
2. Utilities - Keeping lights off as much as possible. I'm also going to look into "vampire power" - the power that plugged in items use, even when they're off!
3. Food - I have TONS of food in my pantry at home. The goal is to work through that and really only buy fresh/perishable items.
4. Car/renters' insurance - An absolute necessity, and I'm not okay lowering my coverages.
5. Cat food/litter - the munchkins will likely move off of Science Diet.

Basically, it works like this: You make a list of NEEDS - see above. You determine how you can save money within those NEEDS. You stop spending money on other stuff. You pay those NEEDS when they pop up. Here's the tricky part: I want some discretional spending. It can be a small amount - but I need SOME.

So, I made a list of

1. Etsy
2. Clothes
3. Shoes
4. Home Decor
5. Make-up
6. Bed linens and towels
7. Hot chocolates from coffee shops
8. Desserts when out with friends - shave ice, pie, ice cream. This is good for my wallet AND my waistline.
9. Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, Lotion, Bar Soap, Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, Shaving Cream, or Perfume - see picture below...

{NEVER need to buy any of this stuff again...}

So, I have a list of NEEDS and a list of EXTRAS, but I mentioned earlier that I want some discretionary money. So, I'm giving myself $100/month on FUN. This can be eating out, going to the movies, or maybe going to Knott's Scary Farm (which I REALLY want to do this month!).

To make this $100 more palatable,
I've cut out my luxuries:

1. I get gel mani/pedis about every 3 weeks - at $70/each, this is $1050/year. Six weeks ago, I thought it was nothing, today I am appalled that I spent that much money ON MY NAILS.
 2. I generally wax my unruly eyebrows about once a month - and at $12/each, this is $120/year. Come on Kate! When did I get so lazy? I can pluck my own eyebrows! FOR FREE.
3. I buy Groupons and Livingsocial deals like candy. They're for things like massages, facials, wine tasting, nice dinners, and yoga classes. ALL COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY.
Here are some things I've already cut out over the past year - 
without even thinking of saving money.

1. I stopped dying my hair almost a year ago - even though I always did it myself, this saves me tons of money.
2. I stopped buying soda/bottled water for my house (I still buy sodas in restaurants and I keep a case of water in my trunk for emergencies).

I've taken some steps to make it easier to save money:

1. I probably bought new clothes EVERY WEEK. Who am I? Crazy, that's who. I unsubscribed from all of the deal emails from my favorite retailers. No more "30% off at Old Navy today only!" or "Extra 50% off clearance at LOFT!" This has been one of the easiest ways for me to change my spending, because these daily emails are what lured me in everytime. Without them, it's like I forget about shopping! :)

2. I've started logging every transaction I have - whether it's cash, credit, or an online bill pay. This means I have a up-to-date balance and spending money is much more REAL when you can watch it disappear in black and white. Next week, I'll talk more about how I'm doing this.

3. I've started using coupons! I'm not an extreme couponer, but I've started clipping. And I've saved tons of money! Using some really useful blogs, and spending some time acquiring and organizing coupons, I've been able to buy things I would normally buy for up to 100% off the price I'd normally pay.

I'm sure there are more steps I can take and I am looking for new ones everyday! If you have had particular saving success and have any tips or tricks for me, please share!!

One more thing:
I also figured out exactly how much I owe, how much I own, and how much I make and with that info, I created a budget and a plan to pay off my debt. That's for next week!

Stay tuned for:

-- The tools I'm using to get out of this mess --
-- What I hope to achieve --
-- How I'm going to make sure I will never be here again --

Don't forget to read:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Kate Has Debt: How I Got Into This Mess

In my new series, Kate Has Debt, I am tackling the big questions about debt, starting with
How Did I Get Into This Mess?!
One word: 
I am an online shopper, an impulse-buyer, a deal-lover. I can't pass up a $5 cute shirt from Old Navy, a $10 print from Etsy, or a $1 bowl from Salvation Army. I don't buy large ticket items, I buy A LOT of small ticket items. 
I buy Charmin toilet paper, lots of fresh produce, and tons of books.
I am suckered in by "BUY 2, GET 1 FREE" body wash deals and $25 sheet sets (FOR A QUEEN!). 
I am out of control.
A few more words:
Keeping Up With The Joneses
It's hard to say you can't do what everyone else is doing because you can't afford it. It's hard to sit at home when your friends are on a trip, at the movies, or in a new restaurant. It's even harder to realize you may not see a movie for YEARS because of this hole you're in. Time to climb out.

It's pretty sobering to realize that I am not in debt because I am struggling to pay my rent, buy my groceries, or fill my gas tank. I am here because I buy too much STUFF.
I even made a list of 
1. Gasoline
2. Health Insurance
3. Copays, Prescriptions
4. 401k Contributions
5. Breakfast & Lunch 5x A Week
How can I not manage to pay my bills on time and in full with benefits like that?
Poor, poor management. 
Which is going to change - but how?

Stay tuned for:

-- The tools I'm using to get out of it --
-- What I hope to achieve --
-- How I'm going to make sure I will never be here again --
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