Saturday, January 30, 2010

Frugal Friday

Technically I started this post on Friday and since I was out of the office most of the day, I have a great excuse for not posting it yet....but at least I didn't forget this week!

Top 10 Free Ways to Have Fun!  (the Ville Edition)
(In No Particular Order)

-There are two different Trolley Hops offered in the Ville - both free - both on Friday nights.  Fat Friday Trolley Hop is on the last Friday of each month and runs in the Mellwood Ave./Frankfort Ave. areas.  The First Friday Trolley Hop is the first Friday of every month and runs through downtown.  Each hop stops at several Art Galleries, Shops and Restaurants....and you ride the trolleys for free!

-The Speed Art Museum on the campus of UofL offers free viewings of it's permanent collection.

-Thunder Over Louisville is the Nation's largest fireworks show and it's right here in the Ville and better yet - it's free!  Although the experience is unlike any other, you don't have to trek down to the Great Lawn for a good view.  This show is so big that you can see it from lots of places around the city.

-Light Up Louisville - Free event featuring Santa and the Mayor lighting the Ville's huge Christmas tree.  There's always live music and festival booths set up for browsing.

-Free Concerts - the Ville offers several opportunities to attend a concert for free (although you may have to pay to park).  Check out these links for more:  Kroger's Fest-a-Ville, Waterfront Wednesdays and the KY State Fair all boast free concerts throughout the year.

-St. James Art Fair - This is such an attended event that they acutally cancel school!  It's been rumored that this day has become an inservice day for area schools because so many teachers take off to go to it..  True or not, the event is always a crowd pleaser and it's free to browse!

-City of Parks - the Ville has 124 parks to explore and enjoy!  Go!  Explore!  Enjoy!

-Waterfront Park - Even though this is included in the Ville's 124 parks listed above, it definitely deserves it's own spot on the list.  Enjoy 55 acres of grass, trails, fountains and playgrounds on the banks of the Ohio River with the Louisville Skyline as your backdrop.

-Bardstown Road Shops - You'll be entertained for hours on this stretch road in the Highlands.  Lots of eclectic shops, people and restaurants.  Grab a spot to sit and people-watch or have fun riffling through records at fun shops such as Ear-x-tacy.

-Go see the Big Bat.  The world's largest baseball bat is right here in the Ville.  It's outside and completely free to see.  Take your picture with it.  While you're there, I highly suggest a tour of the bat facotry and museum (which do cost money), but if you want to go totally free, you can see into a few parts of the factory from the windows that line the street....although it's not the same, you'll get the gist.

Whatever town you live in, I'm sure there are always free things to do and free places to visit - just do a little research and I'm sure you can find them.  Finding free things to do definitely saves money!  Happy Frugal Findings!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

European Adventure Recap - The Eiffel Tower

Saturday October 24, 2009
Paris, France

Of course, the most iconic feature of Paris is the Eiffel Tower.  It was magnificently beautiful at night!

"The Eiffel Tower, which is the tallest building in Paris, is the single most visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch for the 1889 World's Fair."

We found some English speaking folks to take our picture and we took theirs as well.

I know this picture is basically a repeat of the above, but it shows the boats docked on the Seine below the Tower better than the previous one did, although the previous picture shows the light beam from the Tower better.  Also - just look at that purple sky!  How beautiful!

There's a light beam at the top of the Tower that rotates in a circle, like a beacon.  Also, every so often the Tower becomes an entire structure of strobe lights.  This picture does no justice to seeing it in person.  It literally shimmers!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Weigh-in Wednesday

Well, I can't believe it.  I thought surely after having such a great weigh-in last week, that this week I would be on the plus side (also because I never did make it to the gym this week!).  However, I am happy to report that today's number is  -.2 lbs!!!  Which makes my grand total  -4.0 lbs!!!  At least for now, the little changes I've made are making a difference.....but I know before too long I will have to make exercise a prority if I want to keep seeing the scale numbers go down.

My advice this week is to:
Just Say "No, thank you."

Just because someone offers you a treat or dessert doesn't mean you have to say yes and eat it! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

European Adventure Recap - Filler Up!

Saturday October 24, 2009
Paris, France

We thought this was crazy!  A couple gas pumps right on the curb in Paris.  They were sitting right in front of a row of buildings (like the ones across the street in the pic).  One of the buildings had a garage door and there was a mechanic in there and these pumps were out front.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Frugal Friday

Stink!  I forgot about Frugal Friday last week - again!!  I think on Fridays my brain is numb or it's already enjoying the weekend or something.  So, here's Frugal Friday on Monday...again!

Say No to Credit Cards!

One way I make sure not to spend too much is by not using Credit Cards.  I have one, for those really extreme emergencies, but I do not make a habit out of using it.  In fact, most of the time, my Credit Card is locked in a file cabinet instead of being in my purse so I'm not tempted!  What does this have to do with being Frugal you ask?  Well, if you simply don't use Credit Cards, you save yourself lots of money in monthly interest fees (unless you are disciplined enough to pay off the total amount every month it comes in).  Also with a credit card, one typically spends more than they normally would.  When something goes onto a Credit Card, it's easy to put the next thing on there too and before they know it, they're thousands of dollars in debt!

The moral of this story, is simple....if you don't have the cash to pay for it, don't buy it.  Whether it's something for yourself, a gift for someone else or something you just don't want to wait to buy - don't buy it if you don't have the money already on hand.

Need some extra cash for something? 

-Have a yard sale or try selling an item on Craigslist or ebay (save money by saying it's pick-up only instead of mailing it).  I've known people that go to yard sales and buy things very cheap and then clean them up and re-sell them on ebay for more!  And seriously - people will buy anything!!
-Get a part-time job (I worked at my church for one night a week for about 6 months cleaning and doing odds and ends and earned an extra $100-$150 a month).  My church also frequently needs score-keepers for softball and basketball - a very easy way to make some extra dough!
-Sell your plasma - seriously, people make extra cash this way!
-Decide which luxuries you might not need:  If you don't ever use that gym membership, stop paying for it; Make your own coffee at home instead of that expensive run to Starbucks; You don't watch all 1,500 cable channels?  Downgrade your cable or cancel it altogether.  Think of simple ways you can cut-back to have extra money each really adds up!
-Sell your talents.  Is there something you are good at that you could teach and/or do for others?  Make some money off it!

Saying no to using Credit Cards isn't always easy.  It makes you live differently, but you can have a great outcome!  Good luck and happy saving!

Friday, January 22, 2010

European Adventure Recap - The Middle of the Seine River

Saturday October 24, 2009
Paris, France

This post corresponds to yesterday' post - the Seine River.  Where we were walking along the Seine this day, we came upon a tree-lined island right down the middle of the river, called the Ile des Cygnes (which means Isle of Swans).  It runs between two bridges - the Pont de Bir Hakeim (shown in the previous post) and the Pont de Grenelle (I don't have any pics of this bridge).

The island is "2,789 feet long and 36 feet at its widest point".  Looking to the left you can see a double-decker train passing by.

Here's the bridge the train in the previous picture was going across (this isn't the Pont de Grenelle - it's just a train bridge and as far as I can tell doesn't have a name).  It is located almost at the halfway point of the island.

Another shot of the train bridge

The underpass of the train bridge - aren't those trees beautiful?  I love autumn!

It started to rain ever so slightly and the umbrellas started going up

This was the one and only time I had to use my teeny-tiny umbrella on the entire trip and I think I only had it open for about 5 minutes (we were blessed with wonderful weather the entire trip!)

At the end of the island, near the Pont de Grenelle, is a replica of the Statue of Liberty (a smaller one).  "This statue, which was inaugurated at its site on November 15, 1889 (three years after its US counterpart), was given by the French community living in the United States to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution."  The statue faces west towards NYC and the original Lady Liberty.

This is the sign at the base of the statue, its in French, but I'm assuming it says pretty much the same thing I explained above....if not then we'll just pretend it does! 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

European Adventure Recap - The Seine River

Saturday October 24, 2009
Paris, France

After eating a hearty lunch of Couscous, we headed out to see some of Paris.  We rode the subway to the Seine River near the Eiffel Tower.

The Seine River (pronounced sen - like pen or ten) is 482 miles long.  Its mouth is at the English Channel and it winds it's way through France, crossing through Paris. 

There were several boats docked along this area that were very interesting to us.

We wondered if people lived in them or rented them out for vacations or excursions?  You can see a patio table and chairs on the deck like it's used for entertaining.

About right in here is where I had a slight melt-down. We had run into some snags in London with timing and directions for some of the things we were trying to see and do and we had to re-work our schedule (and might I add that London had a very tight schedule-we only had a day and a half there!).  Now that we were in Paris, the first thing on our schedule was to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but as you can tell the weather was very dreary and wasn't the greatest day to go to the top for a good view. 

Now, I'm not one that always has to stick to schedules, I can be very flexible and go with the flow.  But having short amounts of time in each city (some cities we only visited for 24 hours!), we had to have some sort of plan.  So I was starting to see a pattern of things not working out, since we had the few snags in London and it seemed we would in Paris too.  We had made the best of it in London and still got to see just about everything we wanted, so it worked out fine. 

But since Shannon let me plan the trip and take care of all the details,  I felt responsible for the fact that things weren't going right.  I was starting to feel like all my hard work was for no reason and then I just started feeling a little stupid because nothing seemed to be going according to plan.  And when I feel stupid, I get embarrassed, defensive and stubborn......and I tend to go into shut-down mode.  So, after a few tears and realizing I needed to lighten up on myself a bit, we were able to enjoy walking along the Seine River.

This is the Pont de Bir Hakeim (pont means bridge).  Paris has 37 bridges over the Seine.

Here's a close-up of the arch feature on the bridge (you can see it in the distance in the picture above)

This runs between the lanes of traffic on the bridge - I love the hanging pendant lights! 

Standing on the Pont de Bir Hakeim and looking towards the Eiffel Tower

Lots of buildings line the riverbanks.

How awesome would it be to live right along the Seine in Paris? To have a balcony with a view of the Eiffel Tower?  To eat pastries for breakfast every morning?  *sigh* If only.

You can see here how the Eiffel Tower stands up to some of the High-rises in Paris

"The Seine is very tranquil with lots of bridges and city lights that cast muted colors on the water" - ...this is what I wrote to my mom in an e-mail from Paris.

Have you ever seen the movie Sabrina (the newer version)?  Being in Paris makes me feel the same way that movie makes me feel....maybe because parts of it are set in Paris....maybe because it makes me want to cry -  but not because I'm sad.....maybe because those days in Paris made me feel like Sabrina, finding parts of myself in the rivers whispers and the soft dancing colors.

As we walked along the Seine, the sun slowly set and the Eiffel Tower was illuminated, showing it's true beauty!  A boat passed by carrying passengers having dinner inside.  Isn't it almost breath-taking?

I miss Paris.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Weigh-in Wednesday

Holy Cow!  I am completely shocked!  I don't expect results like these every week, but there's nothing like a little instant gratification to get you jump-started.......drum roll first week's weigh-in is:   -3.8 lbs.!!  (and that's without a trip to the gym once this week!)

I have made some small changes lately that have apparently paid off in a big way (this week at least!).

Here's what I've been doing this week:

I have a BIG sweet tooth - so I have not eaten any sweets.  I knew this was something I would have to completely cut out for a while - if sweets aren't a problem for you, then you may not have to get so drastic, but I knew for me it had to be all or nothing (for a while). 

I also gave up carbonated beverages.  I got into the habit of drinking at least one coke a day (sometimes more if I went to a restaurant).  So instead, I'm opting for water or lemonade (most places serve lemonade alongside their carbonated beverages and it's usually sugar-free and very good!).  I have definitely noticed a difference in how I feel since not drinking carbonated stuff - it's amazing how much less bloated you are when you don't guzzle down all those bubbles!  If I've needed a caffeine boost here or there, I went for the coffee instead (and just regular ole coffee - not sugary Starbucks!)

Going along with my first Frugal Friday post, I have really cut back on the amount of meals I eat out during the work week and have stayed in the office for lunch with a can of soup instead!  And you know what?  After lunch I'm full either way!  (And isn't that the point of eating lunch?)

And last but not least I practiced portion control.  If I went out to eat, then I made sure to make the meal stretch out into two meals by asking for a take-home box (because restaurant portions are HUGE!).....or if it wasn't enough to make another meal out of, I simply left the extra on my plate and pushed the plate away.  (Just because I paid for the food doesn't mean I had to eat it all).  I really didn't deny myself much of what I was craving (except the sweets), but I just didn't indulge myself on anything.  I ate a reasonable-sized portion and then stopped - even if I felt like eating more, I just stopped.  My head knew I had eaten enough to sustain myself until the next meal, even if my stomach didn't know it yet.

Well, there are my tips for the week.  If I was a betting girl, I'd say that I'll be back up next week (just because the results were so extreme this week, but maybe not - I'm gonna keep doing the above mentioned tips and maybe actually hit the gym this week too!  So we shall see what next week will bring....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My New House

Here it is - My New House!

I bought a house!  After what has been a long year (well really, couple of years) of trying to decide whether to move or whether to stay, I have decided to stay.  It's been such a long road to get to this point, but I'm feeling a peace about it. I really still feel like I was supposed to sell my other house and free myself up to do whatever it was the Lord wanted but I never ruled out that it was just a move across town.

Through this last year, I have started down many roads only to find that they were going nowhere - the Lord wasn't opening any doors for any of them. So, I started praying about staying here instead. And it was like a light bulb went on!  I think it was a great time of testing and I hope that I did everything as the Lord instructed me (and hope that I still am doing that). I can't say that He won't move me away in the future, but I really feel like unless I have a specific offer or direction, that I am just supposed to keep on keeping on right here in the Ville.

So, I bought a house!  It has 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, a little over 1300 square feet, a one-car garage and a lovely front porch.  It's very, very close to work, making my commute about 5 minutes (versus the 25-30 minutes it takes now).  It's in a great neighborhood and within walking distance to a park where I already go to run/walk.  Plus, it is also much closer to my current church.  I will be moving further from my family and some friends from my "home church" though, so that's one of the draw-backs, but they should know I won't hesitate to drive over and see them!

I won't be closing on the house or moving into it for about a month, so of course all the furniture and decorations in the pictures belong to the current owners.

Here's the front.  It's on a corner lot, so the front yard is fairly large.

I can't wait to sit on this porch with a good book and sip lemonade all summer!

This is the Entryway

This is what the current owners are using as a Formal Dining Room, but I will be using it as a Living Room (it's the first room you see when you walk in the door)

The Kitchen....I will definitely be changing the wall color and those blue curtains!  I'm thinking something in the brown family or maybe a butter yellow - any ideas?  The countertops are a hunter green marble-y kind of thing.  I'll change them out some day, but they are here to stay for now.

One thing I really don't like at all is the fact that the Washer/Dryer are exposed - I hope to one day extend the counter over them and put cabinet doors in front of them.  But again, they are here to stay for now.  That door leads to the backyard where there's a small deck.

This is the dining area off the kitchen.

This is the Master Bedroom (complete with a walk-in closet that I'm very excited about!)

Guest Room

This picture doesn't really show a whole lot, but it's a pretty typical bathroom

This is the room I am completely and totally siked about!!  This is a big great room on one end of the house with a vaulted ceiling! 

I LOVE that it has a fireplace and skylights and wood beams.  Lots of character in this room.  I will be turning this entire room into a Hobby/Hang Out Room.  I hope to have spaces set up for Scrapbooking, Quilting, Sewing, Photography Stuff, My Computer/Printer/Negative Scanner, etc...and a couch and TV for hanging out.  Hopefully this one room can actually contain it all!

Here's the backyard.  It's rather small by most people's standards, but I can imagine a beautiful flower garden back here.

Thanks for stopping by to look at my new house - now can I count on you to come help me move into it?  Pretty please??

Monday, January 18, 2010

European Adventure Recap - Lunch in Paris

Saturday October 24, 2009
Paris, France

We walked down the street our hotel was on and stopped at one of the first restaurants we came to (You can see our wonderful waitress waving in this photo!)

The inside was quaint and we settled into a table and started trying to decipher the menu.

With some coaching from the waitress - whom Shannon was actually able to communicate some in Spanish with - we ordered Couscous (even though neither of us really knew what that was!)

She brought us some water too - I love that it was served in a bottle, it reminds me of how my mom will serve water out of a carafe at home.

Blogger turned my picture sideways, but here's the Couscous.  It's this grainy stuff (think cornmeal consistency) with chickpeas on top.

The waitress instructed us to pour this soupy mixture (with carrots and potatoes) over the Couscous....

....and add some meat to it as well (although we both steered clear of the stuff on the left).

So here's the final outcome after everything is mixed together:

The Couscous was surprisingly YUMMY!  We both ate until we were stuffed!  I wanted to keep eating because it tasted so good, but I think I would have exploded if I had.

Two tables over was a trio of older gentlemen playing cards and having some drinks.  They seemed pretty oblivious to Shannon and myself even though we were the only other people in the restaurant.

Before heading out of the restaurant, we inquired about a "toilette" and were directed down the stairs to the basement.  I love the sign on the door for "Women."

This picture shows the shared sink and the steps leading back up to the restaurant.  Don't you love the retro wall coverings?

Here are a few close-ups...

Groovy huh?