Of Mice and Money

Between increasing housing costs, medical, and school loans; it’s no wonder that so many American’s are facing problems with debt. The subject of finances is nothing new and one that usually causes the most stress. (According to an article on eHow.com, marriages in America “at this time have a 50/50 success rate potential…one of two marriages potentially heading to divorce due to a money issue.” This is not good news.

Speaking of news, did you happen to see this article from CNN that talked about how 1 in 3 American’s are in debt collections? Now, I know the data collected might have all different kinds of contributing factors, but how often have you met with someone who had money problems? It’s not unheard of for me to start talking with someone and they end up mentioning something like their mounting student loans or overwhelming medical bills. It can almost make you feel that you don’t even stand a chance, which is pretty scary.

I know that companies are even now checking applicant’s credit before interviewing. Following this train of thought, you might be someone in debt trying desperately to work your way out, but you can’t even get an interview for a job because your credit isn’t great.
I know this is an unusual topic for me to blog about, but when I read the headline, something just grabbed me and I couldn’t stop myself. I really wanted not to go on any kind of rant about the state of the economy or anything like that, but I was thinking maybe I could encourage a collection of wonderful money saving ideas on this post, so if you have some ideas – PLEASE SHARE THEM BELOW.
So, here is a personal story of mine when it comes to money.  I have noticed that I never seem to have a financial emergency until after I spend a good amount of money on something else.  For example, we just recently got a new dining room table (it was needed our old one was falling apart), but the day after we made that purchase, my husband and I hear “scurrying” noises coming from above our head in our bedroom at night. (And yes, you could hear the theme music from Halloween here.) Sure enough, after calling our pest control company, it was discovered that we had mice in our attic. (Insert girly scream…three times….by me, not the hubby.)
You remember Indiana Jones and his fear of snakes?

Still of Indiana Jones Raider's of the Lost Ark (1981) from www.imdb.com

Still of Indiana Jones Raider’s of the Lost Ark (1981) from http://www.imdb.com

Yeah, imagine that multiplied by a thousand or so. (This is what I think of when I hear mice.)

Still from The Princess Bride image courtesy of www.imdb.com

Still from The Princess Bride image courtesy of http://www.imdb.com

I know it’s silly, but I just can’t seem to control it. So when our unnamed pest control person quoted us a price tag of $1500 to seal up “multiple wholes” for the “infestation”  in our attic, not even to set traps, I was this close to discussing payment plans, just to get the process started before I lost my mind. Luckily for me, my very level-headed husband, who is not afraid of mice, was like, “Uh, no,” and we got a second opinion from a good friend who not only came over and put some traps in our attic for free, but helped us look around and find that we really only have one or two places that we might need to cover to fix this problem. (God Bless our awesome friends – we have the best.)

So, aside from flesh-eating, zombie-killing mice, all is right in our world again….for now.

Going with this theme, I recently read a book called, America’s Cheapest Family, that if you ever get the chance to read, I highly recommend it! This family survives on an income of less than $40,000 a year and they are very happy. They’ve got some really great suggestions in there that I believe everyone could benefit from.

So, what about you? Have you had any mice emergencies lately? What are some great money-saving tips that you would suggest for those out there trying to save?

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Tagged – A Glimpse into “A New House”

My friend, Diana Beebe tagged me (and a few others) in a blog post about what other writer friends are currently working on. For myself, I have a couple of mansucripts going at any given time, which allows me the chance to work on a little bit here and there – where ever the inspriation flows.

Reminder

So in consideration for this “tag”, you are supposed to go to page 7 or 77 of your current manuscript. Scroll down to line seven and post seven lines from there…exactly as they are. Okay, my first instict is to put something more “polished” on here, but I think the intent of this exercise is to provide the fun and new, so here is an excerpt from a work that I had actually placed aside until recently, called, A New House. (The name is subject to change.)

Turning her head to see where the noise had come from, she locked eyes with a man, a very handsome man she admitted to herself, who was standing at the end of her driveway with an amused expression on his face as he watched her struggle to lift one of the boxes filled with books. He was tall, though she couldn’t be sure how tall, given the way that she was bent over the trunk, but she would guess a little over six four, and he appeared to be really fit with his black collared shirt and tan slacks.

He had eyes the color of a sweet looking caramel macchiato, which had her considering her still brewing coffee, and a smile that was confident in it’s ability to set you at ease. Thinking back, she was sure that she probably could have lightened this load of books if she had just listened to her mother when she recommended that she go through her collection and get rid of the ones that she was never going to read again and maybe that would have saved her from this moment of embarrassment.

She was ridiculously stuck over a bunch of books in her trunk, her ever expanding ass hanging in the air, and her hair constantly falling over her face since she forgot to pull it back into a ponytail this morning. Lessons learned. Instead of letting the moment get to her though, she attempted an air of authority and perhaps a degree of mirth when she replied, “Can I help you?”

The man took a moment with this, it appeared that he was weighing his next words carefully given the frown lines that began to show on his forehead, which was wonderfully tan like the rest of his face giving the impression that he spent a great deal of time outdoors. “Actually I was going to offer to help you.” His voice was rough like he was holding back a chuckle at her expense. She narrowed her eyes at him showing that she was on to him. He just smiled and waited for her to make the next move.

And the last part of the tag says that I have tell you five things about my protagonist, Rachel:

1.  Rachel prefers to handle things her way.

2.  She is embracing a new change in her life to try to gain some control.

3.  She doesn’t believe in ghosts.

4.  She has some drama in her family.

5.  She doesn’t trust strange men.

 

So, that is the glimpse into my old but new manuscript, A New House.  I really hoped you enjoyed it and learning a little bit about Rachel.  For all my friends out there, consider yourself “TAGGED” for this! *evil laughs*

What about you?  What kind of projects have you got going on right now?  I have a friend who is currently redoing the floors in her house and is thinking about redoing the bathrooms as well.  This seems to be the season for repairs.

Generating Ideas

It’s cold and quiet. The smell of alchol is strong as they must have just cleaned the exam room in between patients. I am sitting on the table, awkwardly swinging my legs like a little girl on a swing set, eyes scanning the room, wishing they at least had a poster on the wall so I could imagine myself anywhere else.

I couldn’t say exactly when it happened, but the next thing I know, I see this entire short story in my head. It was there, like a path clearly marked in the woods, just waiting for me to wander down.

Hosp 

I must have been speaking the story out loud, since when the doctor came into the room, she gave me a very odd look before starting my exam.

 Hosp1

Who hasn’t been there before, right? Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but I’m sure that every writer friend that I have out there can tell me at least one funny “for instance” of when a story idea came to them.  I know that many people will say that you can’t always rely on a good muse.  Because like any person, your muse is a fickle thing and is not always so reliable.  But man, what on earth could have prompted mine to take my mind down that road when I’m sitting on an exam table at the hospital?

I guess I could be thankful that this is the route my mind took instead of anything else.  (Because my mind can take some crazy turns, for sure.)

And I have to say, for someone who was raised in the romance genre, I get some dark story ideas that float around.  I’m not sure where all that comes from, but it’s what pops into my thought process when I start going.  Isn’t that weird?

Friends – do you have a story like this where you are doing one thing and then something completely different pops into your mind?  What’s the weirdest (yes, I’m using that word) time that has every happened to you?  Do you believe in writing prompts?  What’s the best writing prompt that you ever had?

 

I’ve Got Magic Beans

Image

(Image Courtesy of IMDB.com)

Is anyone else out there a Friends fan? *raises both hands*  It’s one of the only shows that my husband and I can always agree to watch, and believe me, we have watched it over and over again – a ton of times, over the years.  The other day, I was trying to figure out something to watch that I could fold laundry to (and yes, the laundry is still in a large heap on my couch), when I decided to start with Season 1 of Friends.  

Do you remember the episode (like the third or fourth of the first season’s discs), when Rachel is being asked by her credit card company’s if she is okay because she hasn’t been spending money like she used to?  Her response, after some initial freaking out because of a disastrous reunion with some old friends, is that she’s okay because she has magic beans….like (as Phoebe says) Jack from Jack and the Bean Stalk.

Now, I bring this up, not just because the show is awesome (it is SO awesome), but also because the epiphany came at a crucial moment in my life.  Lately, I have been giving some serious consideration to where I am in my life and whether or not I should be proud of what I have accomplished thus far, or rather be angry that I haven’t done everything that I thought I would have by now.

Do you remember those kids in high school that knew from infancy that they wanted to grow up to be a foot doctor or rainbow maker?  Well, I was not one of those kids.  (I had an inkling that I would love to be a writer, but that dream didn’t solidify until recently.)  I was the kid that even after a few semesters of college, enlisted in the Air Force, because I still didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up.

After doing that for a few years (about five), I separated from the Air Force, and moved to be with my husband in Italy. (I know, it was really tough.)  It took some time, but I finally was able to get a job in the Civil Service and have been doing that ever since.

Now, in this time we’ve also had the most gorgeous and smart little girl.  She’s amazing and I can’t figure my life at all without her.  (She keeps me on my toes and makes sure I earn my “mom-badge” daily.)

So, as I’m sitting there, not folding laundry, I’m thinking about my life and where I thought I would be when I reached the age I am, and I couldn’t help but feel a little…unsure.  I know of friends that I have (those dreaded perfectionists from high school) that knew their dreams and are now like famous in their chosen careers (probably have butlers to clean the rainbows they make in their spare time from solving world hunger), and it was hard not to think that maybe I could have tried harder.  Maybe things would be different today.

Well, then my daughter runs into the living room.  She crawls into my lap and gives me a big hug and tells me, “I love you, mommy.  You are so beautiful.”  (She must have heard me say this to her a million times, but I’ll take it.)  

I couldn’t help but smile into her big brown eyes and think, like Rachel, I’ve got some awesome magic beans!

I may not be the astronaut I thought I might be (I’m not really great at math), or the big-time lawyer I briefly imagined (seriously, they have to go to school for a LONG time!), but I have so much more than I thought I would.  I have a wonderful husband and daughter, a great job, and family and friends.  It doesn’t get much better. *smiles*

What about you?  Are you fulfilling all those dreams you had as a child?  Do you have some great magic beans?