Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dia de Turducken

We spent the day (weekend) of Thanks with J's family, including his grandma, who flew in from Cali, and SILMeow & Napolean Dynamite, who flew in from Chi-town.
Lots of highlights to mention . . .
I consumed approximately 29,635 calories this weekend. And didn't exercise one bit.I succeeded at making 2 pies. I think I'm getting better at baking. This is a world of difference from 5 years ago when I made apple crisp and forgot to add the sugar.

J got to watch football all day long on TDay. Even the night game on the NFL network (Go Jets!).J & I got up at 6:30am on Black Friday because there was an REI down the road and they were giving out $20 gift cards to the first 150 customers. We promptly spent the $40 on ourselves. Is that selfish?

We stayed up pretty much every night way too late with SILMeow & Napolean Dynamite (a few of the nights, Grandma even hung in there with us!). We chatted, played Apples to Apples (first time & very fun!) and watched The Legend of Billie Jean. Napolean Dynamite had never seen it before (what a crime) ... maybe it's because it came out when he was 3!

We did oyster shooters as a family at a classy seafood restaurant on Friday night. But we couldn't convince Grandma to join us. Next time. Next time.

On Saturday, we cooked a turducken. What's a turducken? Glad you asked! It's a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey. Or it's supposed to be. What we found out when cooked that it's pretty much just a turkey, with chicken stuffed in there and some duck. But still very tasty! Especially when you get a bite of all 3! Overall, it was a unique experience to have.The turducken gives you bad gas. Or at least it gave me some bad gas. I cleared a room. In front of my in-laws. So awesome.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grateful ...

(This post is not about the Grateful Dead, although J would love it to be)

Anyways, here are the things I am grateful for this year (in no particular order):

Craigslist. In 2010, I've sold $205 worth of stuff on it. Plus, we rented our apartment in Danville through good ol' Craig and his list.

Lots of perks from my NH magazine gig. One free yurt stay, 2 free stays at B&Bs, 1 free boat ride. Plus I get paid by them.

Winning contests! Tickets to Riverdance (J won), AMC hut say (J), Jimmy Buffet tickets (me), snowboard (me), film fest tickets (me)

Our health insurance coverage, which pays us to exercise. I've taken Zumba, Masala Bhangra and am now a member of the YMCA, where I am taking adult swim lessons (this is also thanks to Sunshine, who gave me a random gift intended for me to take the swim lessons I wanted to take).

My sugar daddy ... J. I am of course grateful for him for many other reasons, but this year he has carried the weight of finances pretty much solo. He da man.

Good blogs that distract me, I mean keep me entertained.

The Great Outdoors. We had a beautiful summer in which we were able to hike, bike & kayak a good amount. And, Mother Nature was also pretty nice to us on our big bad hike in Vermont, dropping rain on us only 7 out of the 10 days.

Girlfriends ... I've gotten to see my girlfriends more this year than any other year and that's fabulous of course. Plus, I made some local girlfriends and that has been very fun!

Scrapbooking groups! I scrapbook every Tuesday with about 5 other ladies and I love that I can do that right now (one perk of unemployment!).

A pretty good year for my family in terms of mental and physical health.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks. Which have come and gone. And I only had three times this season.

Happy Thanksgiving y'all! Travel safe! We are off ...

(My weekly update of unemployment will return next week).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend on a Budget

With cash flow still on the low side, J & I still try to fill our weekend with fun, free stuff. This weekend was no exception.

First, on Friday, I went hiking during the day. Because I'm unemployed and I can. J didn't go with me, because he works to make us a dollar. I hiked up Pat's Peak, a popular local ski spot, with my friend theScrapper (my rant months ago about not having friends in the New England area has definitely changed). The weather is riding the fine line between winter and fall. No snow yet, unlike the West coast, just flurries.Friday night, J hosted a free ballroom dance for his town. J didn't know what to expect for attendance, but was pleasantly surprised with about 30 people, both young and old. And we had fun hitting the dance floor once again ... We thought we would be really rusty, since we haven't taken lessons in months, but we found dancing is like riding a bike. Maybe we'll start going to the studio again! (Please note, that is not me dancing with J in the picture below. I could see how you might be confused.)
Saturday, we futzed around Concord. Went to the gym and did our once-per-month grocery shopping, which doubled as a secret shopping gig for me. So we actually got paid to shop ... We also strongly resisted the urge to eat dinner out that night. Budget people, budget!!! Plus, we just went grocery shopping and had no excuse.

The other thing we did in Concord involved me winning yet another local contest. I won tickets to the S.N.O.B., or Somewhat North of Boston, Film Festival. So during the course of the day and night, we watched 9 short flicks. They ranged from awesome to questionable. Dark Scribbles and Missile Crisis tied as my favorites, while J dug South Pole the most (I, on the other hand, thought it was a little disturbing).

And now, we are off to a bed & breakfast for the night. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I am writing another article for that NH magazine, which involves the perk of me staying at a B&B.

So, with the exception of gas, we managed to do a lot this weekend on a very low budget!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week 24 of Unemployment

My conference in Milwaukee was GREAT. I took my required classes for the certificate (I am hoping to get something in the mail ... I am that person that needs something official in writing) and went to many informational sessions. Of course the challenge is putting some of those things I learned into action to build my freelance biznass!

I also met lots of new fellow medical writers, reconnected with old friends and got to know some of the peeps in my chapter better (I love my chapter, btw). The networking at these events is always on steroids. It's great.

I tried to stay on a strict budget, so I don't have much to report about the food. My chapter dined at The Safe House, a spy-themed restaurant, and that was quite interesting. You either have to give a password at the front door (which is unmarked in a dark alley) or prove that you are not a spy in some other way. The group I walked in with lacked the password, so we had to dance like bunnies in order to enter, only to find out that the whole restaurant could see us on the TV screen doing this.

Also, I brought my camera, but took no pictures.

And this week I am not really unemployed. I had work from my old company, as well as the NH magazine for which I regularly write. In fact, J & I are once again staying at a local B&B for free as part of my magazine assignment. This has been a good week.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Week 23 of Unemployment

I'm uber pumped this week for unemployment because I am flying out tomorrow morning to Milwaukee. Okay, that doesn't sound right. I'm not terribly excited that I'm going to Milwaukee (oddly enough, this will be my second visit to the city this year--last time it was for a wedding. It's actually a neat city.). Anyways, my enthusiasm is because I am going to the American Medical Writers Association national meeting! I know you are jealous.

I will be taking some classes while I'm there and will finally complete my certificate in editing and writing. This is something I've been working on for 7 years. What's that you say? I should have just gone to get my PhD, huh? Whatevs. A certificate is all I could stand (I have a low tolerance for school) or afford.

I will also be doing some mad networking. Even the AMWA chapter meetings are infamous for networking opportunities, and this will be on a national level. I printed up 250 business cards; do you think that's enough? I am staying with an old colleague, and she has a lot of wisdom about being a freelancer. I anticipate a great trip all around!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The MIL

We had a very important visitor this weekend, but before I get to her visit, I can't keep the news in any longer.

I won a game of Scrabble!!! (Did you think I was going to tell you I got a job?) I RARELY beat J at Scrabble, as in every 3 years or so. He is not a good speller, but he sure is a good strategist. Still I did beat him once this weekend, and actually almost twice if it wasn't for his 50-point bonus for using all his letters.

So anyways, MamaFashion was in town! She scored a new job and the company is based out of Boston, so she is there for training this week. It does not mean she is moving to Boston, but hopefully it means she will have to come out this way from time to time.

We did all sorts of things, including playing 2 games of Scrabble and taking a nice drive to parts of NH we haven't explored. I also made MamaF's dream come true by wanting to go get a mani-pedi. FYI, my feet still don't look much better. And the pedicure lady informed me that another one of my toenails is hanging on by a thread.

Last, but not least, we all got our flu shot together. It was like pulling teeth to convince J to get it, but it's easier when his wife AND mother are ganging up on him.
Celebrating MamaF's bday with martinis and nice dinner at Cotton and brownies.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Week 22 of Unemployment

Job searching is tiring ... at least Mr. McKinley thinks so.

In all honesty, this was a good week. It seems like there have been more and more job openings in my field and even locally. Before you break open a bottle of champagne on my behalf, remember that most of these are contract jobs. Which means that I am applying against approximately 500,000 other hungry writers in this world. But I still have a shot, right??? Truth be told, I am getting a little sick of trying to make my cover letter stand out. Any advice?

Another new development this week, we now have to report weekly work search records when we file for unemployment in NH. I remember J had to do that all the time when he was unemployed in VA. Guess I got off easy the first few months here.

Lastly, my toenail finally fell off. Oh, is that TMI? Hey, at least I didn't take a picture. My feet have yet to heal from our epic hike last month. I am seriously considering getting a pedicure and for those who know me, you know they must be bad for me to say that. I'm just a little embarrassed of my bare feet right now ...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

College Friends

While I was on my unemployment "vacation" last week in NJ, I took a weekend road trip down to Philly, which is where most of my college friends reside. I keep in touch (this term used loosely) with more college friends than high school friends, so I like that I can kill essentially 4 "birds with one stone" when I go to Philly.

Friday was dedicated to my former Crown (college newspaper) crownies. I spent the day at RedJeepTrvlr's house with her little (now 4 years old! geez!) boy. Might I add that he still naps. Am I the only one who finds that amazing?

Later in the evening, we met up with theChief for a GNO. We dined at Seasons52. It's a chain, which I never heard of, and all the dishes are seasonally inspired and under 475 calories. I give it 2 thumbs up!Saturday, Chile, Charlotte and I hung out in Skippack, a cute town with a funny name (I am easily amused these days). After lunch, we did an impromptu wine tasting. Charlotte claimed she was drunk after one 1-ounce cup. Some things don't change from college.

Saturday night, Chile and her husband (theChilean) hosted a little Chilean party. It was a nice cool fall night, so we hung out outside around the bonfire. We ate homemade empanadas and theChilean's friend brought a projector and we watched a documentary about the Chilean miners on the wall of their house, followed by lots of Toy Story previews (to keep Chile's son happy). There was probably more Spanish spoken that night than English, which is fine because I realized I can still understand most of it. Hmmm ... maybe that should go back on my resume.
Note to Charlotte:
Out of the 17 pictures we took together, your eyes were closed in every single one!

All in all, my "vacation" was fab. I saw family, high school friends, college friends and those in-between. Here are some of my pix from visit with ItalianSis, who is now supermom to twin boys!!