Category Archives: Shopping

Unexpected Birthday Present (or I Love Having Technology That Works!)

I was not planning on asking for anything for my birthday from my parents this year. They helped me get my car at the beginning of the year so I didn’t feel right asking for anything else. I still feel a bit guilty about my new car, but I know that they are happy to help me out. But there was no way I was going to tell my parents I wanted something for my birthday.

I usually get a check from my grandma for my birthday, so I was thinking about what I wanted to use it for (she prefers that I get something fun with it and not use it to pay bills). I was talking with my dad before my birthday and mentioned how my iPad was pretty much dead at that point. It was taking hours for it to turn on and for me to open an app could take close to 30 minutes. And that day, I couldn’t get it to turn on no matter what I did. I didn’t think my iPad was going to be usable anymore.

The iPad I had was about 5 years old, which is a pretty long time for a piece of technology. I used to use it much more often, but over the past 2 years I used it less because it was getting so slow and several apps that I like to use wouldn’t work anymore. But I didn’t want to get a new one because at that time I knew I’d spending a lot on a new laptop and technically my old one still worked.

I’m aware that this is totally a first world problem. I don’t need an iPad, but I like having it and it is something I do work on. But I think I also knew it wasn’t a necessity to get a new one so when my old one pretty much died on me I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get a new one for my birthday. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be the perfect thing to use my birthday check toward.

This call with my dad was just one of our usual phone calls and the iPad thing just happened to come up. And he agreed that getting one for my birthday would be a great thing to use my check for. I didn’t think much more about that conversation after we hung up. But then the next morning, I got an email from my dad with the subject “Birthday Surprise”. And my dad wrote that he and my mom had discussed it after he got off the phone with me and they wanted to get me my iPad for my birthday!

I was totally not expecting this and I even called my parents to tell them that I didn’t tell my dad about my old one dying to try to get them to buy me one. I kept asking if they were sure they wanted to get it for me because I was considering my car my birthday present (and I’m totally considering it my Hanukkah present for this year too). But my mom said that they wanted to do that for me and I couldn’t express how grateful I was for it!

I was originally going to get the new one before my birthday, but there were a few delays in me getting it. But the delays worked out well because I was able to make a decision on which one I wanted to get (after getting input from a friend who works for Apple and from my parents) and I realized that they had a back to school special for their educational discount (which I get for being a substitute teacher). Not only would I get the normal discount, which is about $20 off, I would get a free pair of wireless Beats headphones! So this past week, I headed over to the Apple Store near me to buy my new iPad!

It was a pretty fast purchase since I knew exactly what I wanted to get. I just had to decide on what color I wanted (I went with gray to match my laptop). And I’ve spent the past few days making sure I get everything set up on it before I try to erase all the data off of my old one (if I can get it to turn back on again). Just like with my laptop, it’s a crazy difference between the old one and the new one. Things are working again, I can get work done so much faster, and I know that it is going to make me more productive.

If I could figure out how to do all of my day job work from my iPad, I’d do that when I go out-of-town. But for right now, that’s not possible due to the phone calls I have to do for my box office job. But I think I might actually be able to run everything else from it which is a nice idea. The iPad can use a keyboard so if I figure out how to do it all (or if I don’t have to take phone calls for my box office job), I think it will be pretty easy to work with it and I think that will be a nice feature for me when I get to travel again.

This present was so unexpected but beyond appreciated. I am so grateful to my parents for wanting to get me this because they easily could have just gotten me nothing for my birthday which is exactly what I was expecting. And I love that now whenever I use my iPad I’m going to think about this awesome birthday this year and how amazing my parents are!

Working On Money (or A Prosperous Heart Update)

I wrote before about how the podcast I work for was going to do the 12 week journey in “The Prosperous Heart”. We just got to the end of the 12 weeks and I figured it was time to do an update.

I’ll admit that I did not follow the 12 weeks as strictly as I did with “The Artist’s Way”. The main thing I did do was the morning pages. I struggled with the morning pages when I did “The Artist’s Way” and I really didn’t enjoy them. They became something that annoyed me at the end of that journey and I really was not enjoying having my mornings start off on such a negative note. So I decided that for me, doing the morning pages wasn’t going to benefit me the way that it should so I didn’t do them.

I know that some people will argue that I didn’t really do the 12 week journey this time if I left out doing the morning pages, but that’s ok with me. I have to do what is right for me and I would rather try to do the journey the best that I can instead of not doing it at all. I did do the weekly reading and the questions at the end of the chapters, so I feel like I did a majority of the journey.

The biggest thing about this 12 week journey is to track every single penny that you spend. Since I already do that with YNAB, I figured it would be pretty easy for me to keep doing it. And fortunately it was pretty easy for me. The only annoying this was with credit card spending. I track it in YNAB and it was a bit weird to have to track it in a second location as well (for “The Prosperous Heart”, I tracked everything in a little notebook). I didn’t like having to do everything twice, but it was a minor issue.

But while I track all my credit card spending, tracking cash was a new thing for me. I was looking forward to seeing how being extra aware of my cash spending would help me out. And for the most part, I got much better about being more cautious on what I was buying. There were a few times I forgot to track my cash spending (mainly laundry money or parking meters), but I would say I tracked all but maybe 10 times I used cash. It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with being close to perfect.

I think that many people in our group weren’t as into this 12 week journey as they were with the other one. Some of us felt like the book didn’t speak to us the same way. Some people felt that the chapters were repetitive and a bit disconnected. It was not easy for us to admit that we didn’t enjoy this journey as much as the other one since we all felt so great after finishing “The Artist’s Way”. But it’s important to admit to yourself when you don’t feel like you are getting what you want out of a book/class/lecture.

We tried to encourage each other to stay on top of the weekly chapters and the lessons, but this time the group online wasn’t as active and sometimes it felt like we were each on our own journeys instead of doing it as a group. It’s not bad to do it alone, but it was different. And I don’t know if I preferred the group version or being a bit more on my own. Each journey was so different because of what was in it, so it’s not easy to compare them to each other.

Now that this is done, I’m going to keep some of the lessons and challenges going but I’m not going to keep all of them. I might continue to track cash spending, but I think just having the extra awareness I have now will be helping me so much. And for credit card spending, I already track that and I have noticed that I haven’t been charging as much stuff as I did before. So it’s nice to know that I did learn something and that I’m not spending as much as I did before. I’m not saving as much as I’d like, but it’s baby steps toward that.

Overall, I’m glad that I took this journey. Even if I didn’t do everything that was supposed to be done, I feel like I have made a change and I’ve learned new things about myself. I’m hoping that I can continue to spend less and focus less on things that cost money and look for things that are free that I like to do. I know that I need to get my credit card debt paid off and I really want to get it done soon. I just need to buckle down and work harder toward that. And hopefully the lessons I learned from “The Prosperous Heart” will help me over the next weeks and months to accomplish that.

Time For Some Refocusing (or I Need To Do Some Follow Through)

My life has been getting a bit crazy lately, but crazy in a good way. I’m back to my normal routine without the worry about medical issues in my head. I’m back in the dating game and while I’ve had some negative experiences I’m having fun. I’m going out with my friends and doing so much stuff that I love. Honestly, this is close to the happiest I’ve been as an adult. I think a lot of it is because I don’t care as much about what other’s think, but I also think I’m just making an effort to make me happy.

Not everything in my life is going great, but it’s pretty awesome right now. I’m taking more time to focus on the positives in my life than the negatives that might come up. But because I’m not focusing on the negatives, I’m slacking off on some things and I know that I need to work on that balance.

Some of the slacking off has been cleaning and organizing. This has been something on my to-do list for a while and I’m just not taking the time out to do the work that I need to do. And looking at my calendar for the coming days, I honestly don’t know when I’ll have the chance to do it. And because I want to do more than just a basic cleaning, I know that this is something I need to set aside the time to do.

My desk has been getting a bit out of control because I’m sitting at it so many hours a day. When I start working on stuff and don’t get to finish, I just set it to the side on my desk thinking I’ll pick it up later. But later doesn’t seem to come and some of these things have been on my desk for too long. One of the things that’s been on my desk forever has been the dry erase board that I used for my Oscars costume. When I got it, I assumed that I would be using it at my desk or somewhere else. But I haven’t done anything with it and I don’t know now if I will be using it. I just need to make a decision and do something with it.

My closet is another trap right now for me. I really need to go through all my clothes and figure out what I want to keep and what I need to toss. There are several things in my closet that are now too big for me and I don’t want to keep them around anymore. But sometimes it’s hard to let those things go because I justify in my head that maybe I could get it tailored smaller or that I might wear it baggy. But I know I won’t and I just have to let it go. There are also things that have gotten torn or just not my style anymore and I need to get rid of it. But again, this is a major cleaning and I know I’ll need to set aside lots of time to do it. I probably will need to try on a lot of stuff from my closet to do this and when I do this cleaning I also am looking at making a list of what I own so I don’t feel like I’m missing something in my closet and go out and buy it (I’ve done that before and have had to make trips to return duplicates).

And as always, I just want to clean up some of the clutter that is in my house. I keep a lot of stuff for sentiment value and I know that I don’t need to do that. I want to work on digitizing more stuff that I keep and finding new and clever ways to organize and store what I want to have. It’s a bit overwhelming to think about how much I want to get done, but I also know in the long run that this will be an awesome thing for me to do and I will probably be really happy when I feel like I have a cleaner, more organized, and happier space.

I know a lot of people who have gone through major cleanings like this have been inspired by the book “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up”. I actually have this book. I bought it almost 2 years ago and for some reason I haven’t really started to read it. I know that I always get distracted by other books that I have, but now that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the work I want to get done I think this might be a good time to start reading it. I’m in the middle of one book right now so I probably won’t be able to read it until next week, but I honestly forgot that I owned the book until I started to feel as overwhelmed as I am now.

I’m tired of setting a goal to work on cleaning my space and not following through with it. I need to just get my butt in gear and do it. But it’s not always easy to make a change like this when you’ve been putting it off. But hopefully soon I will find the motivation and time to get this done and I can feel calmer in my space so that my home will make me as happy as my social life is making me.

Surgery Shopping (or How To Prep For The Unexpected)

I know I’ve posted a lot about my liver surgery lately (and I will be posting more about it over the next few weeks). I’m now 2 weeks away from surgery and there is so much that I’ve been trying to get done or need to do. I’m still trying to have a lot of fun, but surgery stuff is taking up a lot of my time.

I have the stuff I expected like various doctor appointments and tests. I’ve already done some blood work and today is my MRI. I’ve got my official pre-op appointment next week and that will consist of multiple doctor appointments at one time so I can meet with the surgeon, the anesthesia team, and possibly the inpatient team. I’ve also been working more than normal because I’m banking hours at work. I can’t afford to take time off (I don’t get paid time off at any of my jobs), so I’ve been working extra hours unpaid to cover the time I won’t be working coming up. I’ve got all the hours banked that I think I’ll need, but that has taken a lot of time in the mornings that I usually do other work.

I’ve also been trying to get things ready to be in the hospital for a while. I’ve been getting ideas of things to have with me from friends who have been in the hospital for a while before. I’m hoping the hospital has decent wifi because I have a feeling I’ll be watching a lot of Netflix or Hulu there (also, if I feel up for it then I could even work from the hospital). I’ve also gotten some dresses that are easy to put on and are cheap to wear after surgery. There’s a chance that things with waistbands won’t work for a little bit for me so dresses seemed to be the easiest solution. I also know I might have surgical drains when I go home, so I found these awesome sticky pockets to put in my clothes if I need them.

I still have a pretty decent list of things I still need to get for my time in the hospital and while I’m recovering with my parents. Some things I expected to be easy, like getting some slippers to have with me, but somehow they haven’t been easy to find in stores. I’m guessing I’ll be doing a big Amazon order soon. I might wait until after my pre-op appointment so I know what else I might need. Thank goodness for fast shipping with Amazon Prime! I’ve been told I might get a list when I go in for the pre-op appointment, but if any of you have been through any type of abdominal surgery and have suggestions for things I should have please let me know!

And then of course there is getting my house ready for this all. I will be doing some big cleaning because I don’t want things cluttered when my parents are here and I don’t want things to feel dirty when I am back home. After I’m out of the hospital, I will be recovering with my parents so they can help me out with things or buy things I forgot about. But I still want to try to get as much done now as I can. One thing I was trying to do but have been slacking on is getting some food made and frozen so it’s easy for me to eat at home even if I’m tired. I don’t want to go back to ordering delivery food (plus I’m guessing I’ll be on a restricted diet so I want to have food that I made and know what’s in it).

I know it sounds like I’ve got a handle on things and seem really prepared, but I don’t feel that way at all. There are still so many unknowns with this entire thing and a lot of the answers won’t be things I can really know in advance. I have no idea how my body will react to this all and I can’t prepare for what I don’t know will happen. It has been giving me a pretty steady level of anxiety lately, but nothing as bad as a regular panic attack. And I have had a few minor attacks but fortunately my friends and family have been able to calm me down.

When things were 2 months away or even 1 month away it seemed like I had unlimited time to get ready and that it wasn’t going to be soon. I think it really hit me when I had 3 weeks left how soon this was all going to be. I’m very lucky that I’ve had time to prep for this and it wasn’t an emergency surgery where nothing could be done ahead of time. But sometimes having prep time is the worst because I can analyze things to death. I’m trying to stay as calm as I can be which is why I set my monthly challenge to be being calm and taking more deep breaths.

Over the next 2 weeks, there will be posts about preparing for surgery but I will also have some fun posts in there too. And I am hoping to keep this blog going regularly while I’m recovering, but of course I don’t know how I’ll feel. But I do promise that if there are some days I can’t blog I will get back to writing regularly. I’ve been doing this every weekday for so long, and the idea that I might miss a day does stress me out a bit. But I hope that you all will stick with me while I get through all of this and hopefully I can find some fun things to write about while I’m recovering!

Working On Being A Warrior (or Something To Remind Me)

I had set my word for the year to be warrior. I’m really proud of choosing that to be my word. It has a really strong meaning to me and there is a good visual in my head when I think about being a warrior. And it has a lot of different meanings as well so I can apply it to so many parts of my life. I know I’ve been a warrior in the past, but I really wanted to focus on it this year because I know I have a couple of tough things coming up. And being a warrior will help me get through it all.

As I have each year that I’ve picked a word of the year, I made the word the background on my computer. I also have set the background to my phone and iPad to be a similar pattern so it reminds me of the word as well. But even though I have those as reminders on a daily basis, I don’t think I’ve been applying myself to be a warrior as much as I could be. I don’t always see the background of my computer since I’m working so much. I usually have a ton of windows open so I’m not getting the reminder as often as I have in the past.

When I’ve been going through tough times, I’ve been starting to look at myself as a victim which I really want to try to avoid. I know I’m not a victim. I’m very lucky with so many things in my life. When things are bad, I do need to focus on the good and to remember how hard I’ve been working for everything that I have. And that is a big part of what a warrior is all about.

In the membership group for the Inside Acting Podcast, we have a forum about our words of the year and someone had sent me a link to some necklaces that had some words I was considering but didn’t pick for this year. I liked them, but it got me thinking that I should find something that says warrior on it to remind me of what I am trying to be this year.

And that search got me to the Mantra Band website and seeing their warrior bracelet! It’s a pretty simple bracelet and will go nicely with the jewelry that I wear on a regular basis (which is a necklace and a watch). I got the bracelet in silver which matches my other jewelry, but I love so many of the other sayings on other bracelets that I might get one of the other ones in rose gold.

It is such a simple and beautiful bracelet and I know that I will remember to try to be a warrior at all times when I’m wearing it. It will be a nice reminder for me to work on what I set out to do this year and to not let myself feel too down about things when there are so many other things going my way. I’ve had one other motivational bracelet before (it says positivity on it), but this one has a very strong meaning to me.

I’m really glad that I found this bracelet and ordered it (and it got to me 2 days after I ordered it online!). I’ve needed something to remind me more often of my word for the year, and this is the perfect way to do it!

I’m sure this sounds like I was paid to say all these nice things about Mantra Band, but I really did just randomly find them online and placed an order. I didn’t get my bracelet for free or with any discount and they didn’t ask me to write a blog post about them. But when I find a company I love, I have to share all about them!

If you want to order a warrior bracelet or one of their other items, you can go to this link to get 5% off an order (full disclosure, I get points towards earning discounts in the future if you use my link). Hopefully you can find something that motivates you to be the best, most positive, and most productive person! I know that my warrior bracelet has given me that boost and I am so grateful for that!

Adding Gadgets To My House (or Tools To Help Me Out)

While I’m trying to cut back on my spending and bringing more things into my house, sometimes you need to break that rule to make things better. It’s a hard balance to figure out because I’m sure I can justify spending for stuff I really don’t need. So I’m trying to be very picky and making sure that it’s something that I really need and not just something that I want. But there were two gadgets that fit into that rule that I ended up buying this week.

The first thing I got was a lamination machine for my house. Usually when I need to laminate stuff, I go to Staples and pay to get it done. I normally only need one thing or one page so it never seemed worth it to me to have my own lamination machine. But my mom has had one for a while and loved it, so when I was thinking about getting stuff laminated this week I looked into buying one for myself.

I did manage to find one that was heavily discounted on Amazon that would arrive that day at my house (thanks Amazon Prime)! And it was perfect because I have been working on my meal planning and wanted to create a nice reusable meal planning guide.

The machine I got is really easy to use and it came with a bunch of the laminating pages so I don’t need to buy any for a little bit. And I have been able to use the meal planning page I created each day (although I’m still trying to figure out how I can write on this without ruining it). And it’s small enough that it fits into a shelf on my desk so it is out of the way when I am not going to be using it.

The other new gadget I got this week also has to do a bit with my challenge to work on meal planning. I’ve thought for a long time that my kitchen was perfectly set up for me to cook, but I’m aware that I set it up based on what most people need and not what I need. I’m a pretty decent cook and my knife skills are ok, but when I have to cut up a bunch of stuff I’m not so great at it. So I have been looking casually at ideas to make chopping stuff easier and decided I needed to invest in a new cooking gadget. So I went out and got the Vidalia Chop Wizard.

I got it yesterday and used it last night to cook dinner. I made meatloaf muffins and this was perfect for chopping the onions and mushrooms I use it in. It was so much easier than chopping things by hand and everything was uniform so I didn’t bit into a huge piece of onion while eating dinner. I know that this can be used for a ton of stuff and I have a feeling that I will be discovering ways to use it on a regular basis.

And besides the new stuff I bought this week, I’ve been rediscovering stuff in my kitchen to help me with my food goals. I’ve been using my slow cooker (and I found my slow cooker liners so I don’t have to do much cleanup) to make easy meals and I’ve found recipes that don’t require browning food or getting another pan dirty to make the meal (my slow cooker pet peeve). And I’ve been using my food processor regularly the last few weeks and have started to think that maybe I need to buy another food processor bowl and blade so it will be easier to use it multiple times a day.

I know that I can do a lot of the work I’ve been using these gadgets for by hand, but why should I? This is making cooking easier and seems like I could be more likely to keep things up in the long run. The only downside is that I do need to go through my kitchen now and figure out what I really want to keep and what I can give to others because my kitchen is super tiny and lacking storage space. I don’t know where to put everything just yet (there are things all over my house that could live in the kitchen if there was space), but that will be something else I need to work on with organizing my house.

But for now, I’m just so glad that I was ok spending a bit of money to try to make things better for me with figuring other things out in my life.

Working On Cleaning (or Time To Declutter)

I try not to clutter up my house since I live in such a small place, but somehow it seems like all of a sudden from time to time that I feel like my space is too cluttered. I seem to acquire new things in batches, so it quickly feels like I have too much stuff in my house. For some reason, even though I didn’t really buy too much for myself during the holidays, it started to feel like I needed to do a big cleaning after the holidays. But for some reason, this time I’m struggling with getting rid of stuff.

A lot of the stuff I want to get rid of are clothes. I have a lot of clothes that I don’t wear anymore. Most of it is due to it being too large on me now (a good problem to have) but some stuff I just don’t like or it has started to show wear and tear. But despite the clothes not being worn that often, for some reason I don’t want to let go of them. Even the clothes that are too big are tough to bring to donate. All of the clothes I needed to get rid of still fit in my closet, but I wanted them gone. So I ended up taking out everything that I’m not wearing and putting them into bags. I haven’t been able to get rid of the bags yet, so they are just living in my utility room for now. I don’t know what the struggle with letting them go is, but I guess baby steps are better than nothing.

I also seemed to get a ton of new stuff on my desk. Part of it was when I got my new computer and I had to work on the transfer between the computers. Since the cables for the new computer are different from the old computer, I do need to buy some converters to make everything work the way I want it to. But my desk has also become a catchall for things that I need to deal with. I’m starting to organize my 2016 taxes and that’s all over my desk. I also have cards and paperwork that needs to be finished on my printer. My desk drawers are full, but not unbearable so. My focus is just cleaning the desk since that’s what looks cluttered. I want to get this done, but I also know that this stuff is still in process so I can’t just get rid of them.

And finally, I feel like I just have too much stuff in general around the house. I don’t have a ton of things, but the space has felt smaller to me lately. I do only have about 400 square feet, but it never felt too small before. And I haven’t really added too much that takes up floor space (I did get a robot vacuum during a flash sale on Amazon that is on the floor). I’m wondering if I’m feeling this way because things have been organized the same way in my house for years and I haven’t moved around furniture or switched things up in a while. My last big change was when I got a new couch. And that was over 2 years ago. Maybe I just need to rearrange things and it will feel better.

I don’t keep a dirty or cluttered house, but for some reason it’s just been getting to me. I know I need to do something to fix this or it’s just going to keep bugging me. I’m trying to take steps where I can to make things better but I know I need to do more. I do have motivation to do more this weekend because I’m supposed to be having people over on Sunday (having people come over is always a good motivation to do a major cleaning). But just cleaning might not be good enough because I don’t just want to move things around or hide them in drawers. I do want to get things out of the house that aren’t useful to me so that I can make sure my space is as functional and productive for me as possible.

Lunch And Shopping (or Proof My Work Is Paying Off)

I’ve been trying to keep up with staying social with my friends when I have free time. It is one of the things I’m focusing on this year so I don’t go too long without seeing friends (which can happen pretty easily). I used to see my friend Lindsay all the time because we would go to the same classes at Orangetheory. But since her schedule changed, we have to make more of an effort to see each other. We did run into each other at Orangetheory when she was taking a class after mine, but that’s not really enough time to catch up. So when she asked if I wanted to get some lunch this past weekend, I said yes right away!

We ended up meeting at 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, which I usually avoid since it’s so touristy. But for a nice Saturday afternoon, it ended up being not too bad. We met up in front of a store and immediately walked to figure out where we wanted to get some lunch. We went to Steak ‘n Shake since it was a place that neither of us had been to before. Sadly, it ended up being a bad choice (we waited over 20 minutes for our burgers to be brought to our table and the food was cold when we did get it), but since the focus of our hangout was catching up and not the food, it was fine.

After eating, Lindsay had some shopping she wanted to do and I’m always happy to join a friend for shopping. I’ve gotten so used to not being able to try things on at the stores that my friends shop at, so I’m just happy to be the person who shares her opinion on the stuff others try on. Lindsay was on the hunt for some shoes and we checked out a couple of stores. She wasn’t able to find what she wanted, but it was fun checking out a bunch of different stores since so many places were having sales.

Toward the end of 3rd Street, there is an Athleta store. I’ve never shopped there before, but I’ve gotten their catalog before and knew that their clothes wouldn’t fit me based on their size guide. They do sell some plus size clothes, but I don’t believe they carry those in the store (so many companies only carry the plus size section on the website). But I do love shopping for workout clothes so I was happy just to see what they had and maybe I would find things that I would want to get when I was able to fit in them.

When we went into the store, someone greeted us immediately and told us that all sale things were discounted even further, and we decided to see what there was since you can’t do much better than sale items being on sale. The sale section was organized by size and I was looking at the XL stuff to see if there was anything that looked big enough to fit me. I found a zip up shirt that looked cute and realized that it might be something perfect to wear when I have liver surgery (I’ve read online that since my stomach will be very sore, it might be tough to lift my arms up to pull shirts on). I decided to try it on over my shirt to see how it fit and it was a little baggy on me.

I found the same shirt in L and tried it on. It was a bit snug, but Lindsay had me try both the XL and L on and she agreed that the L was the way to go. I was so shocked to fit into a L! I know that there is vanity sizing and all that, but Athleta is owned by the same parent company as Old Navy (where I have been getting all my workout stuff) and I’ve been wearing XXL in those. I’ve been wearing those shirts for a while and I started to think that maybe I could fit into smaller clothes than I’ve been wearing.

I looked through the rest of the sale stuff in L (the non-sale stuff is out of my budget for now) and found a cute sweater that I wanted to try on. And I was shocked to see that it fit too! It’s a little tighter than it shows on the model online, but it fits and I feel really cute in it!

I know that I shouldn’t buy stuff just because I like what the size on the table says, but it was pretty amazing to know that I was buying 2 shirts that are not a plus size but just a regular L. I’ve plateaued lately with my weight loss and even though I’m still down quite a bit from even a few months ago, it can feel like I haven’t changed at all in the last year. So getting shirts that prove me otherwise is a really nice thing!

After that shopping stop, it was time for Lindsay and I to each head back to our cars to head home. I’m so glad that she and I were able to get together. Obviously I love getting to catch up with friends, especially friends that I was so used to seeing twice a week before. But I’m also so happy that she convinced me to try on some clothes when I was so sure that there was no way they could fit me. She pushed me out of my comfort zone and it ended up being a great thing for me!

Unexpected Car Shopping (or New Year New Car)

As I mentioned in my New Year’s Eve post, my car died as I was leaving the party I went to. It was a really weird situation with what happened. I was driving home and I started to hear a ticking or clicking noise coming from the front of my car. Maybe 10 or 15 seconds later my car completely shut down and died. All the warning things were flashing in the front of my car and alarms were going off and then everything shut down. White smoke started to come out of my engine and I could smell something that smelled like it was burning. I had no power, no electricity, no lights. It was so scary but fortunately the freeway hadn’t gotten too crowded yet so I was able to drift over to the side of the freeway.

I got my car as far to the side as I could (there wasn’t a full shoulder for me to pull over into) and immediately called AAA. I told them I wasn’t in a safe situation because I couldn’t get the lights on in my car and I was still a bit into the slow lane and they promised to get a tow truck out to me as soon as possible. After being in a dead car for about 20 minutes, I could finally get my emergency flashers on and my lights would occasionally turn on. I just sat in my car with my seatbelt on (I was worried someone would hit me and I wanted to try to stay safe) and tried to stay warm as it was cold out and the heater in my car was dead too.

The tow truck got to me and I was towed home. The next day, even though my mechanic is open on Sundays, the mechanic was closed for New Year’s Day. I took Ubers to and from Orangetheory and limited my errands to stuff I could walk to and stuff I could carry home. I told my parents what happened and they were feeling hopeful that maybe this would just be another repair and it would be ok. But because I was in the car when it happened, I felt pretty certain that this was a bad sign and that there was no way we could repair my car for a reasonable cost. I started looking at used cars online and seeing what types of car I would consider. When I told my parents about that, they told me to look at Subaru Crosstreks because they are a good car, not too expensive, and while they are smaller and shorter than my Escape they still have a decent amount of room.

On Monday, I took an Uber to and from the gym again and once I was home and showered I called for another tow truck so I could get my car towed to my mechanic. I had warned my mechanic I’d be coming by and he warned me that this might be the end of my car. But I still wanted him to see it just in case I was overreacting and there was some hope left.

And as I expected, the car was done. In order to get it to work again, I would need to buy a new engine for it. And even doing that doesn’t mean I won’t have more problems in the next year or so. I called my parents to run things by them and they agreed that I needed to just get a different car. I’m so lucky that they were able to help me with buying a car so I didn’t have to get something that was super cheap and might not last that long.

I had called the Subaru dealership and they were able to meet with me that day. And even though my Escape wasn’t working anymore, they could give me a little bit of money as a trade in (it was more of a courtesy so I could get the car off of my hands). While I was waiting for a tow truck to bring me and my car to the dealership, I texted a couple of friends to see if anyone could meet me at the dealership to help me with car buying. I’m not great at making huge decisions like that and I wanted a friend with me. Fortunately, my friend Dani was free and was happy to help me out.

I had looked at the dealership’s used cars online the day before, so I knew what options I really had. I wanted to look at a few different cars and try a couple of types of cars as well, but Dani was willing to make sure I asked all the right questions and didn’t get taken advantage of by the salespeople. The first car I drove was a 2014 Crosstrek that was a really cool bright blue color. It was a nice car to drive and had some really nice features. It had about 40,000 miles on it so it was a used car but not super used. There was another 2014 Crosstrek on the lot, but I didn’t drive it because I didn’t realize that the technology in the car was the lowest end and was pretty outdated by then.

There was one 2016 Crosstrek on the lot and that was the next car I drove. It was much sportier than I’m used to, but it was really fun to drive. It didn’t have all the features I was looking for, but that was ok. Dani helped me to realize that having a GPS built into the car isn’t that important when I can just use my phone. And Dani (who rode in the backseat during the test drives), told me that the 2016 was a much nicer ride for her back there. And while this car was used, it was pretty close to new. It only had 5,000 miles on it and was only owned for a few months by the previous owner (they got into a situation where they didn’t need a car anymore which is why they sold it back to the dealership).

The last car I checked out was a Forester, which is closer in size to what my Escape was like. I love being able to sit up high, but the Forester was just too much car for me. I don’t need that huge of a car right now. And if I do end up needing a huge car later down the line, then I’ll look at them then. But for now, I needed a car that worked and wanted something that was fun to drive and perfect for me getting around town.

After some conversation with my parents (since they were funding the purchase I wanted their opinion and approval) and debating back and forth with Dani who was a great voice of reason for me, I ended up going with the 2016 Crosstrek. It is the better deal considering that it is basically a new car. I got a really great deal on it because there are some scratches on the car. But I don’t mind the damage because as my dad put it, I’d probably get scratches on it eventually. It’s a city car and it’s not meant to look perfect.

After deciding on the car, Dani had to leave and I was there for another few hours doing all the paperwork involved with a car purchase. We had to do the release of liability for the Escape and there were dozens of pages for me to sign for the Crosstrek. But about 8 hours after calling for the tow truck to bring my Escape to the mechanic to find out if it’s dead, I was leaving the Subaru dealership with my new used car!

This was not at all how I thought the beginning of my year would go. Even a week later, I’m still a little overwhelmed by the entire situation and what happened. I don’t believe it at times. My Escape was a great car for me for so long and I’m still sad that it died. But I’m so happy with my Crosstrek and how nice it is! I have personalized plates that have been on every car I’ve had and I did get them off of my Escape when I left it as a trade-in. I can’t put them on my Crosstrek yet, but once I do I think the car will feel more like mine and that I will finally be able to wrap my head around the entire situation.

A New Computer (or Out With The Old And In With The New)

I’ve been writing about wanting to get a new computer for a pretty long time (my computer frustrations have been happening almost as long as I’ve had this blog). And the day that the new MacBook Pros were announced, I knew that I’d be getting one. I didn’t have the money at the time of the announcement, but I knew that between what I was able to save and the check I was going to get from my grandma for Hanukkah that I would have enough. So I immediately started to plan for the new computer.

The first thing I had to figure out was which one I was going to get. I knew I’d do the smaller size since I do like to bring my computer with me when I travel or to different events. And since the Touch Bar was the new thing they were introducing with the MacBook Pro, I figured I should splurge on that as well. And because the main problem I had with my old computer was that I ran out of storage space, I wanted to max out on storage (the maximum was going to be 4 times what I had on my current computer).

Since I wanted to upgrade the storage, I wasn’t totally sure that I would be able to just go to the Apple Store and get my new computer. So I sent a quick text to a friend who works at the Apple Store to find out. And since I was doing this the day they announced the new computers, I started my text with “don’t worry, I’m not asking you for a discount on the new MacBook Pro”. My friend answered my question (I would have to order it online), but then he also offered to let me use his friends and family discount! I wasn’t expecting that at all, but since it is a better discount than my educational one, I was so grateful that he was going to let me do that.

It ended up being an easy enough process to order the computer once I had the money together  (I was on the phone with my friend while he was online typing in the information) and according to my order it would be arriving at the Apple Store the first week of January. So I figured that I would spend most of December preparing my old computer to transfer my data over and that in January I’d be able to get everything set up super quickly.

Of course, I didn’t get time in December to work on the transfer stuff and then this past week I got a message that my computer was ready to pick up at the store! I couldn’t go the day it arrived so I planned on going to the Apple Store in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve (when I had free time). I knew the store would be insane, but it would be ok.

Then, on Christmas Eve I logged into work only to find out that we were given the day off! I still had other obligations in the afternoon, but since I didn’t have to work I had 3 hours free and figured it would be the perfect time to get to the Apple Store and deal with the crowds. But I discovered that 8am (when they opened) at the Apple Store on Christmas Eve is pretty empty! There were maybe 20 employees there and only 3 customers if you include me. And since all they had to do was go into the back and grab my laptop, it was a pretty speedy process.

Once I got my computer home and unpacked it, I was shocked at how thin and light it was! It feels like a kiddie toy compared to my old one! And when I set the computers up side by side (to help make sure I’m transferring all that I need to), the size difference was really obvious.

I’ll eventually get a protective case for the new computer once they start making them since it makes it easier to travel with the computer and it makes it stand out more when I’m in a room where a ton of people have the same computer. And I managed to spend some time over the weekend and the beginning of the week getting stuff transferred over to the new one (I’m typing this on the new computer). My game plan is to try to work on the new computer with the old one nearby in case I figure out something that I need that I didn’t transfer yet. And once I feel comfortable enough with the new computer only, I’ll wipe my old computer clean so it can go to its new home (a friend of mine will be buying it from me).

While it would have been nice to have a new computer sooner, I’m so glad I finally could get a new one! I’m still getting used to things so it feels a bit weird to work on it, but I know that this is going to make my life easier. It will be much faster to work on it, especially at the box office job where I need dozens of windows open at once to work. And I’m hoping that this will also make my blogging better as well (I can start doing more stuff with my blog that the old computer couldn’t handle).

I know I’m incredibly lucky that I got money that helped me pay for this. The fact that I got it on Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukkah really made it the perfect gift! And I’m so grateful to my friend who let me use his discount. The money I saved helped to pay for unexpected expenses I had recently (like the new power steering I had to get for my car).

My old computer made it about 7 years, so here’s to making this computer last for the next 7!