Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Splenda free.....ooh look, shiny!

When I first came here today, I was going to comment on my first Splenda free day. It was probably going to be something short and sweet and then done. However, I got sidetracked, which of course is one of the hazards of being online. Before posting, I wandered over to MyFoodDiary's forum and read a recent post on the "Giving Up White Sugar" thread. In one of the posts was a link to the blog My Years Without Sugar. This blog follows the journey of one person who chose to give up white sugar as a New Year's resolution for 2008. The posts are very interesting and reinforced what I've been learning about white sugar - it's toxic. From there I followed a links to other blogs such as A Life Less Sweet, Farty Girl and Food Politics. These are all interesting blogs and I read several posts in each. The blog that really ate up my time was Small Footprint Family. I think I spent a couple of hours reading the various posts. It was fascinating and sobering. First, I must reassure you that I DO realize that most blogs are comprised of a whole lot of opinions and just a little bit facts. With that in mind, I was still intrigued by the message of this blog. First, it demonizes, or at least taints, my precious agave nectar. It's not necessarily the healthy natural sweetener it's made out to be. Although it's low on the glycemic index scale, it's high in fructose which, in concentrated forms such as agave nectar, comes with a host of health concerns.

Other "facts" I learned from wandering around the Small Footprint Family blog:
-Polyunsaturated fats are bad
-Soy is bad except when it's fermented, such as tofu
-Canola oil is bad (polyunsaturated fat)

From Small Footprint, I followed a link to Food Renegade where I learned that saturated fats are good for you?! Huh! Talk about renegade! Although this is a little more out there than I'm willing to go, (for now) the truth is, I've heard similar ideas before. The concept isn't as fringe as it used to be and frankly, it makes some sense. Humans evolved on a diet of mostly foraged vegetables, nuts, fruits and of course, hunted animals. Our bodies know what to do with saturated fats. Our bodies do not know what to do with trans fat or polyunsaturated fat since these are man made, processed fats. I'm not ready to run out and purchase lard or beef tallow but perhaps I'll allow myself some bacon tomorrow morning.

My journey today has given my a lot to think about and possibly more to look into. One the tree level, it reinforces my belief that food should be simple and the less processing, the better. On the forest level, it reminds me that the internet is a strange maze of opinions mixed with facts and ideas.

Oh and I went an entire day without Splenda in my iced tea.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

House Hunters

I've been watching "House Hunters" on HGTV lately. For those who don't watch it, the home buyers look at 3 homes, usually one is within their price range, one is usually well above their price range and the third is either slightly above or below the price range. First of all, "price range" is basically how much financing the buyer can get. It doesn't neccessarily mean what the buyer can afford. The viewer gets to watch the buyer look at each property and then in the end find out which home the buyer chooses.

What I've learned from watching this show is that people have an amazing ability to talk themselves into more than they need. I'm always silently telling the buyers to go for the lower priced property. In most cases, the cheaper property is fine but there might be a few areas that will need some attention such as new carpet or new cabinets. Inevitably the more expensive property is chosen. The buyers have committed themselves to a mortgage payment that they will barely be able to afford because they didn't like the carpet and wanted a place that was "move-in ready". I wonder how many of them really purchased a "bankruptcy ready" property?

I am a home owner and if I could magically go back in time and counsel my younger self, I would tell myself to not buy this house and instead focus on eliminating credit card debt. I bought too much house for just me but thankfully I have two roommates that help out with the mortgage. I CAN afford all of my bills without their help but my debt elimination would come to a slow crawl. I'm fortunate that I have two roommates that trust. They help me with my mortgage and they get to live pretty cheap. However, despite my current good fortune, I still think purchasing a home when I did was a poor decision. The thing is, purchasing this house is part of the process that got me to a point where I FINALLY realized that I needed to make a change in my spending habits. If I hadn't bought this house, I would be in a completely different place in my life. Perhaps I would still be renting, perhaps I would still be racking up credit card debt. Hindsight is 20/20 but only for the exact set of circumstances that occur. Hindsight should be about preparing for the future, not wallowing in regret. So although I feel that purchasing this house was a bad financial decision, I'm better off financially now, because of that decision.

For those people on "House Hunters"...I really do wish them the best. I hope they are happy in their new homes and are able to really enjoy their life without the constant worry of how they are going to afford their lifestyle.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


So I was sitting at my desk at work (clearly not working very hard) when I decided to look at my Choice balance online since I knew my payment just went through. I've known since last month that this was the month that my balance would finally go below $1000 but somehow actually seeing it had a big impact. It was loveliest number I've ever seen, $828.86. I sat there and just stared at the screen. I actually got a little teary-eyed realizing how far I've come and how close I am to paying off my first credit card. It was a wonderful realization.

Here was my view. I'm hoping Citibank will forgive me for taking a screen shot of their website. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Typical Sunday Evening

Up until about 6pm this evening my major accomplishments for the day were: waking up...twice...I took a nap at 4:30pm, eating and working out. In my own defense, I kicked my own ass during my workout, hence the nap, but considering how much I still needed to get done, I wasn't off to a great start. Luckily I found some motivation and since 6pm I've showered, done 3 loads of laundry (folded and put away,) made a loaf of bread, made granola bars, washed dishes, taken out the trash and put the trash can on the curb. My glaring omission, for the whole weekend in fact, is, I haven't studied. It's stupid, I should be studying. My excuse, I'm too distracted to study at home. Of course that's BS, there's no reason I shouldn't be able to focus myself for 45 minutes at a time, several times during the day. That's all it would take but I'm not doing it. I'm really bad about putting things off until the last minute, today is a great example of that. The bad thing is, I can usually pull it off and be successful, today is a great example of that. One of these days, I won't be able to be successful with last minute activity and it's going to bite me in the ass. Hopefully that won't be the case with my upcoming personal training exam.

Goal: $0 by 28 Feb 2010

Hmmm, apparently I found a way to battle my frustration with inactivity (see previous post.) I've given myself the goal of paying off my first credit card ($1129) by February 28, which will be my 2 year anniversary with the Women In Red. I believe it's doable and it's given me a plan of action so I don't feel so...inactive.

BTW, it's also a SMART goal. According to the ACE Personal Trainer Manual, a goal should be:

Specific - Pay off Citi credit card
Measurable - This will require $1129 plus finance charges, probably around $40.
Attainable - Yes, with my regular payment plus money from roomies and a little extra from paycheck.
Relevant - Hell yes! This is an important step to eliminating credit card debt and it's very relevant to my piece of mind.
Timebound - Yep, February 28, 2010

(Sweet, I just did that off the top of head. Hopefully it will be on the exam.)

Wow, that feels great. I have a plan of action AND I was able to throw in some of my personal training knowledge. :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I know I've commented on this before, but I'm finding the inactivity of debt reduction to be frustrating. Unlike weight loss, debt loss seems to be more about what you don't do than what you do. When I was losing weight, if I splurged, I could help negate the splurge by being active; go on a walk, run, lift weights, whatever. With debt loss, my success comes from not being active; not going out for breakfast Sunday morning, not splurging on a Starbuck's iced tea, not going out with friends. There's also so much waiting; waiting for my next paycheck, waiting for the next statement. I'm sick of the inactivity and I'm sick of waiting.

Part of my frustration comes from the fact that it's been a couple of months since I've been able to really focus on debt loss. I had car issues in November and then with Christmas, I held back on extra payments so I could purchase gifts. Now I'm saving money for my trip to Florida. Although I'm looking forward to going on vacation, I'm also looking forward to getting back to being more aggressive with my debt loss. I'm hoping that I've over-saved for Florida and once I get back I can put that extra money directly to paying off my first credit card. Hopefully I will also have a second job as a personal trainer! The extra income will go directly to debt. This is the year I will become free of my credit cards, I just want it to happen sooner than later.

Friday, January 08, 2010

99 Butternut Squash in Debt

99 Things to Do
I feel like blogging but I don't really have anything that interesting to share or comment on so I've decided to get things going by giving an update on my to-do list. Here are my completed items so far:

8. Go through files and shred old stuff - completed 1/2/10
48. Clean shower curtain - completed 1/1/10
49. Clean shower liner - completed 1/1/10
59. Update address book - completed 1/2/10
86. Get salt from shed - completed 1/3/10

I also got a good start on, 42. Use the 3 butternut squash that are living in pantry

I made some yummy butternut squash soup earlier this week that used up one of the squash. In fact, I think I'll share the recipe.

Baja Butternut Squash Soup (From the January/February 2009 issue of Eating Well magazine.)
1.5 lbs (1 small to medium) butternut or other winter squash
1 tsp canola oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, diced (I omitted this, onions are evil)
1 carrot, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground chipotle chile (I cut up a chipotle chili into small pieces and then put it in a coffee grinder.)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
6 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken broth.)
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tbsp snipped fresh chives or chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cut squash in half and seed. Place the halves on a baking sheet, cut-side down. Bake until tender when pierced with a knife, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Scoop out flesh when cool to handle.
3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, onion and carrot and stir to coat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the squash flesh, cumin, chipotle to taste and cloves. Add broth and simmer, covered until the vegetables are very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender (in batches) until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with a drizzle of yogurt and sprinkle of chives or parsley.

Makes 10 servings, about 3/4 cup each.

Per serving: 60 calories; 1 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbs; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber; 532 mg sodium; 249 mg potassium.


Once again I'm back to obsessing about debt. I'm frustrated because I'm SO close to paying off my Choice card; it's just $1129. However, since I'm saving for my trip to Florida in February, all my spare cash is going to the scuba fund. Even after I'm done saving for Florida, I still owe my $200 deposit on my annual June scuba trip. My credit card debt would probably be gone by now if it weren't for my scuba trips. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to being able to throw everything I can at my credit cards again. I so want that first $0; it's been such a long time coming. It's like in the movies - I can see the door at the end of the hallway, but the hallway keeps stretching so the door keeps moving away, just out of reach.

Current Credit Card Debt - $8767

Saturday, January 02, 2010


I just signed up for the ACE Personal Trainer certification exam! I'll be sitting for the exam on Friday, January 29 at 9 a.m..

Friday, January 01, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Forward

I'm pretty please with 2009, it was a good year for me.

2009 Highlights
* I paid off $11,919 of credit card debt. That's 44.5% in one year.
* I started my second year of maintaining my weight loss.
* I started studying to get certified as a personal trainer.
* I earned second place and two honorable mentions in a photo contest.
* I've drastically reduced that amount of white sugar I ingest. I've avoided all candy and desserts since October.
* I had sex. That alone makes 2009 noteworthy.
* I've read a lot and learned more about the impact the food industry has on our economy and our health, both of which are toxic. I believe I'm making better choices for my health.

2010 Goals
*Pay off all credit card debt!!!!!! This is a huge one and it's gonna happen.
*Stay away from physical therapy. No more injuries!
*Run Dam to Dam.
*Celebrate debt payoff by purchasing a Kitchenaid Mixer complete with food grinder and pasta maker attachments. I want one in Surf Green but I'm not sure it will be available by the time I'm ready to buy it.
*Get certified and get a job as a personal trainer!!! This one is really important to me.
*Continue to maintain my weight loss.
*Continue to move towards a healthier diet.

I need to revist some of my goals to make them more specific but for now I just wanted to get them posted.

99 Things in 99 Days Part 2

Ta da! Here is my next list of 99 things to do in 99 days. It starts January 1 and goes through April 9. This list was tough to come up with since I really didn't want to commit to many outdoor, gardening items since the weather is so unpredictable. I categorized items this time hoping that will keep me organized.

1. Pay off Choice
2. Balance transfer to Choice from Chase
3. Close Chase
4. Get taxes done by end of February
5. Create will
6. Create a living trust
7. Create an advance directive and durable power of attorney for health care
8. Go through files and shred old stuff
9. Use more coupons, watch for sales

10. Start training for Dam to Dam
11. Lose 2" from waist while maintaining muscle tone
12. Contact Flex account regarding online access
13. Call insurance about new primary doc
14. Get mammogram
15. Talk to doc about getting Cortisone shot for elbow

16. Birthday card to grandpa ONTIME
17. Thank you card to Uncle Rich
18. Birthday card for Lisa
19. Birthday card for mom
20. Birthday gift for mom
21. Write grandparents
22. Christmas thank you cards

23. Pass ACE exam
24. Get job as a personal trainer

25. Finish trim on kitchen cabinet
26. Add hooks to kitchen cabinet
27. Paint kitchen cabinet
28. Price primer for kitchen
29. Price paint for kitchen
30. Clean ceiling fan in kitchen
31. Clean oven
32. Get new drip pans for stove burners
33. New rugs for kitchen
34. New dish towels for kitchen
35. New dish rags for kitchen
36. Fix wall in kitchen
37. Clean shelves in kitchen cupboards
38. Clean drawers in kitchen
39. Clean pantry
40. Try two recipes from Eating Clean magazine
41. Fix paint mistakes in kitchen
42. Use the 3 butternut squash that are living in pantry

43. Spackle bedroom closet
44. Dust bedroom blinds
45. Clean bedroom ceiling fan
46. Hang headboard
47. Clean wall behind headboard

48. Clean shower curtain
49. Clean shower liner
50. Get new shelves for shower
51. Re caulk tub

52. Dust shelves in office
53. Clean ceiling fan in office
54. Do something with iPAQ
55. Do something with 1880 census CD's
56. Do something with HP calculator
57. Backup files from portable HD to DVD
58. Dust office blinds
59. Update address book

Living Room
60. Sand video cabinet
61. Paint video cabinet
62. Dust and clean front window
63. Clean coat closet

64. Empty and dispose of small propane tanks
65. Purchase ladder
66. Wash car
67. Vacuum car
68. Get oil change
69. Use punching bag

70. Vacuum intake on dehumidifier

71. Get carpets cleaned
72. Furnace filter - January
73. Furnace filter - March
74. Plot house for feng shui
75. Move title to safety deposit box

76. HP calculator
77. 3 mil wetsuit
78. Bridesmaid dress

Indoor Garden
79. Re pot hibiscus
80. Re pot philodendron
81. Re pot croton
82. Grow basil
83. Plant rooted plant cutting
84. Start seeds

Outdoor Garden
85. Take garden pots to Kay for plant sale
86. Get salt from shed
87. Clean out shed (if weather allows)

88. Get rid of 14 magazines
89. Finish mom's photo album
90. Finish study abroad scrapbook
91. Get estimate for jewelry repair
92. Check on new cell phone
93. Use gift certificate from Lisa
94. Take clothes to consignment shop
95. Check to see if laptop is still covered
96. Finish "Duma Key"
97. Get a pedicure
98. Buy new bras
99. Hang photo from contest