Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Blue Mind

I am at the beach. The sun is not yet up, but I am sitting on the balcony of the condo we are calling home this week, listening to the ocean and the waves hitting the shore. It is probably one of my favorite sounds of all time. Somehow, it's like it miraculously erases my cares, stresses and concerns, even if it's just for that small moment that I am near it.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Waiting for the Proverbial Bus

The past few years of my life have been hard. Hard, but rewarding. I've grown more, learned more, learned more about myself. But in some ways it has also felt like a huge gamble.

Was talking to a friend last night and they referenced a childhood experience they had of riding the bus alone for the first time. There's a certain vulnerability in waiting for the bus if you've never done it before and don't know what you're doing. And she was hit by the realization that she's standing out there at the bus stop alone, waiting for a bus she's never seen to take her on a route she doesn't know. And even just the act of waiting for the bus -the bus that is supposed to come and has been told will come, but she has no concrete proof that it WILL- is an act of vulnerability and adventure all on it's own.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Can't Seem to Let Go

Picture that I both love and hate.
I'm just done. I hate hating myself, but I don't know if I can do anything else.

I woke up today and had some extra time before meeting friends for brunch. So I actually took the time to wash, blow-dry and style my hair -quite a feat and time commitment when you have as much hair as I do. I even took the time to put on makeup. I felt great. Pretty, even. I ran out the door and went to brunch. It was fantastic; a lot of fun and a great time catching up with old friends.

Holiday Material Madness

I have a strong aversion to Black Friday. Any of my friends and family members can confirm this. I used to occasionally participate in Black Friday shopping as a teenager. It seemed fun, even if it was crazy. But I completely gave up on Black Friday after working the holidays at one of the largest outlet malls in the Midwest. In fact, most of my holiday shopping is done online and/or well before the holidays.

I'm always curious as to why people go to Black Friday shopping. Research has shown the prices aren't really any better than normal. It can hardly be counted as a family-friendly event with all the acts of violence and incalculable stupidity that go on. Can it? I have family members who go Black Friday shopping every year and they seem to enjoy it and even look forward to it. But I'm at a loss as to why. To me, the holidays are crazy enough without me adding to the material madness.

It's always been a bit of a struggle for me to walk the line between affordable and meaningful. I try to make a point that all my gifts are as personal as possible.  Even if it's just an item off of someone's Amazon wish list (which, trust me, is one of my favorite tools!), I always try to choose something that I have a personal connection with. A movie that I enjoyed that someone requested. A book from my childhood for nieces or nephews. Lately, with the advent of having so many people to buy for (because, really, we all have people that we need to buy for and the extra people we WANT to buy for), I've had to get inventive to stay within my budget and still give something that means something to the recipient.

And, yes, my holiday shopping is already complete. I'm supposed to start wrapping next week so I can get everything in the mail before Thanksgiving.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Unforeseen Circumstances

Photo credit: Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net
Life has a way of never working out like I had planned. After months of planning, and weeks of packing, I finally got everything moved into the new place and was looking forward to the new adventure of investigating a new city and living with a friend and befriending her adorable dog and kitty.

Unfortunately, my severe allergies had other ideas. The first night, I noticed my typical allergy symptoms developing. Severe headache, itchy and watery eyes,sneezing, sinus congestion and a runny nose were making me miserable. So, I vowed the next day to run out and get allergy meds. The next day, armed with Zyrtec, I was sure it would help and was feeling optimistic.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Almost There!

Well, this is the week. I finished up my work week early and I'm off until Monday. Which is a good thing because I'll desperately need that time to make sure I've got everything in order.  My living room is now littered with boxes, mostly full of books, but some of DVDs and my vinyl collection. I've spent this afternoon packing up the books. Even with only part of my collection here, it still took me the better part of the evening to get it all sorted and packed up.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Moving Prep 2.0

Photo credit: gualberto107 via freedigitalphotos.net
How time has flown! I sat down today in front of my computer and looked in shock at my work calendar. This coming Monday is September. September, people! I can't believe this year is going this quickly! I have just over two weeks before I make a move out to the 'burbs (sniffle, goodbye my Cleveland apartment and my ten-minute commute!) and just over a month before I hand over the keys to my current apartment.

I've been more than a little anxious about this move. It's a good move financially and I'm looking forward to a variety of fun and exciting things about the new place. Living with a friend, being near the MetroParks, being near a freeway (hallelujah!), and even access to a pool! But even when we recognize that change is a good thing, it still can be nerve-wracking. Apparently, this time is no different.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depression and "Positive Thinking"

With Robin Williams' death, I've seen a lot of posts remembering the incredible man he was. He was a brilliant actor, a great philanthropist and a fantastic human being.  On top of all the wonderful tributes, there's also a huge amount of misinformation about depression. Chief among them, the belief that depression can be cured by "positive thinking."

I'm a big believer in the power of positive thinking. It's helped me cope with day-to-day stress, anxiety, and more. Yes, positive thinking is important and is helpful in everyday life to maintain a good outlook. But it's not a cure for depression. Here's the thing I've learned about depression: it doesn't care about positive thinking. You could be surrounded by crowds of happy people who love you, telling you happy thoughts, reminding you of how "great" your life is, and it won't make a difference. You can repeat positive mantras every day and plaster your desk with sappy quotes slapped on Thomas Kinkade paintings and it won't "fix" or eliminate your depression.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Highs and Lows of Crowdfunding

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles via
freedigitalphotos.net
By now, pretty much everyone has heard of the Potato Salad Kickstarter. While I can't doubt this guy's genius (seriously, he got people to donate over $55,000 for potato salad), it just irks me a bit.

I'm not a stranger to crowdfunding. I've backed a couple Kickstarters and run campaigns for a variety of non-profit projects via work using Crowdrise.  Crowdfunding at its best is pretty awesome. It's a way for everyday people to get involved in some great projects that otherwise a) might not be funded or b) they might not be able to participate in. Through crowdfunding I get to support my favorite nonprofits, the manufacturing of cool new products, and even a friend in need.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Spoilers: There will inevitably spoilers.

This past weekend, I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. GotG follows the story of Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, a notorious outlaw. Quill, a human, is abducted from Earth as a child and grows up among the ravagers (i.e., space pirates) who kidnapped him. Through a series of events, Quill feels obligated to rescue the galaxy from an apocalyptic danger he unintentionally unleashed. To accomplish this, he forms a hodgepodge and often fractious band of unlikely heroes.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Moving Prep

My living room, mid-sorting process
My free time this past week has been spent trying to get a head start on the moving process. I have come to the realization that I have way too much stuff. So, I'm attempting to cut down. Both for space reasons and for my sanity. Ninety percent of the clothes I own, I haven't worn in over a year. I have closets full of stuff I don't even need. So I've started going through pretty much everything I own. This means a lot of shuffling of boxes and bins, going through all the closets, and sorting between what are starting to become permanent fixtures in my apartment: the trash, donation and laundry piles.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Attempting to Unplug: My Technology Addiction

Photo credit: kanate via freedigitalphotos.net
I am addicted to my phone. And to my other gadgets. It's taken me quite a while to actually admit this. I'm not a techie person. I don't jump to buy the latest gadget as soon as it comes out. I rarely ever pay for apps (I think I have purchased two? Maybe?). And yet, I find it ridiculously difficult to disconnect from my devices, mainly my computer and my smartphone. I already spend most of my time in front of a computer screen, thanks to the nature of my work. I cannot seem to bring myself to go anywhere without my cell phone. I feel lost and oddly useless without my computer in front of me at the end of the day, even if I would just be browsing Pinterest or watching something on Netflix.  I need to be stopped. What brought about this realization was two instances over the past week.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Apartment Hunting Woes

The more I look for apartments, the more I realize just how much I hate apartment living. All of this money thrown away every month and for nothing. And it seems like the apartments just keep getting more expensive for less space. Granted, there are a few perks. I don't have to worry about repairs, I'm not exactly stressing out over the state of the housing market.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

PB&J (Hold the Crust) Muffins

My fantastic batch of PB&J muffins
As mentioned in a previous post, I recently started cooking from "The Frugal Foodie", a fantastic cookbook that was gifted to me awhile back. It just took me a little while to get around to cooking from it.  From my first glance through the cookbook, this recipe jumped out to me. A lovely whole wheat muffin, not too sweet with a classic flavor combination: peanut butter and jelly.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why Hunger Is a Cause Close to My Heart

This morning, I drove out to volunteer with the produce distribution at a local church. I do this pretty regularly as a proud supporter of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the excellent work they do in Northeast Ohio. I've worked with them on a variety of events in various different roles. Admittedly, volunteering in general is very important to me, but I always try to make a point to volunteer specifically with the Food Bank.

They have an excellent mission. Not only are they continually working toward their goals to alleviate hunger and food insecurity in Northeast Ohio, but they're making a huge effort to make sure it's healthy, nutritious foods that are getting in to the hands of those who need it most --especially in food deserts. A food desert is a place, generally urban, where you have no direct access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Either because places are too far away (i.e., not easily accessible via public transportation), they're too expensive, or the few places people have access to don't carry the staples that they really need to live well. This is one reason that I love working at the produce distribution events. They bring in a truck full of fresh fruits, vegetables and breads at a participating location and then people come through the line to get their allotted amount of whatever is being distributed that day.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Frugal Foodie Cookbook Kickoff

The Frugal Foodie Cookbook: 200 Gourmet Recipes for Any Budget
I love to cook. I really, truly do. There’s just something magical about mixing together ingredients just-so and making a delicious meal. Unfortunately, I hate cleaning up and that is a stronger deterrent than I would like to admit when it comes to venturing into the kitchen. That being said, I am starting to make more of an effort to eat in and to cook good, delicious, healthy foods and also a wider variety. I cook well, but I tend to cook the same 20 odd things over and over again and it gets a little boring. This latest endeavor had me perusing my bookshelves the other day and I happened across a cookbook that a friend had given me a couple years ago, but I’d never really done anything with. 

The Frugal Foodie Cookbook”, by Alanna Kaufman and Alex Small touts a tagline of “200 Gourmet Recipes for Any Budget”. Needless to say, this was intriguing, so I dove into the book. Without yet having made any of the recipes, it looks like Kaufman and Small have produced a compact but complete well-rounded cookbook with a wide variety of recipes to suit any palate. While most of the recipes seem simple and a relatively easy skill level, they sound delicious and had me raring to try some.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

My Dating Hiatus

Image Credit: usamedeniz via FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The past two years of my life have been my most active in terms of dating and also my most miserable.

As a teenager and as a younger adult, I was never really focused on dating and relationships.  I’ve always been focused on other things.  Not being one of the pretty girls, it definitely made it easier to not worry about dating because no one even bothered to ask. I made it to 19 years old before anyone asked me out.

A few years ago, I reached a point in my life where I felt like I finally had my shit together.  I wanted to start thinking about being with someone, about settling down and, somewhere farther down the road, maybe even having a family.  The problem with this is that it appears I’ve missed my window. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve dated some “nice” guys over the past few years. But something always comes up. Sometimes it’s mutual, sometimes it’s them, and sometimes it’s me. But either way, I found myself getting caught up in the imaginary countdown of impending doom known as “I’M SO OLD”.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Just Another Sleepless Night with a Side of Morosity

Image Credit: jesadaphorn via
FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Having another one of these sleepless nights. They seem to come more frequently these days. I'm sure it could be due to any number of reasons. I've a fair amount of work stress, even if it is from a job I love. I am still in school this summer and will be taking on an even larger caseload in the fall. My social life has zoomed out of control (seriously, this introvert needs a break!). And I've been struggling to work through some stuff in my head. I've been trying to write this particular post for nigh on three weeks and every time that I think I have it all figured out and have something honest, pithy, or witty to use, it all just kind of unravels as I attempt to type it up.

It's been one of those months where, even though I know that I'm headed in the right direction, I seem to be second-guessing myself at every turn. I don't like this at all. It's something that I thought I'd really gotten over in the past year or so. But apparently it's not to be as I'm sitting here again, wide awake and full of self-doubt.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Please Slow Down

I was out running errands on my lunch break today when a sign caught my eye as I was driving down the highway. "Please Slow Down" it read. Obviously, it had been placed there because of construction zones, but today it struck a different chord with me. "Please Slow Down". I feel like I need this sign to flash in front of me about once a day. Not because I'm speeding while driving (I'm probably one of the pokiest drivers out there), but because of how often I run, run, run through my day, never taking a moment to just sit and breathe.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Review of Plated

When People Are Too Lazy to Grocery Shop

OK, that might be a bit of a stretch. I love the idea of Plated.  Ingredients for fantastic meals shipped directly to me? Oh, yes, please. I have a landlord who refuses to fix my broken fridge, I work long hours and always end up getting home at night exhausted and hungry.  At $12 a plate, it is pricey. But it seemed like if it was tasty and convenient it could be worth it, especially as I wouldn't be doing it every day.  Fortunately, they had a special offer going on for two free plates and I decided to give it a try.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Magic of an Orchestra Concert

I love orchestra concerts. Like I really love them. They are one of my favorite activities in the whole wide world (not even kidding). Part of this is due to growing up in a musical family (hello, 15+ years of formal training and goodness knows how many more of unofficial, but definitely valuable years of being and operating in said musical family). I love all sorts of concerts, but especially orchestra concerts. They are friendly and familiar to me. It feels like coming home.

But it's more than that. There is a magic around an orchestra concert that I can't explain. It's almost a spiritual experience and I love the rush of it when the music just envelopes you and overwhelms you. It gives me goosebumps just to think about it.

I tried to explain it to a friend who'd never been to an orchestra concert and I couldn't even begin to fathom how to explain the incredible experience.

So I'm off. Off to enjoy a night listening to the Cleveland Orchestra play Mozart's inimitable Requiem. And it may take me awhile to come down from that peak.

Oh, and that friend? I'm taking her to hear Prokofiev's Cinderella at the end of the month.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quarterly Update

I laugh as I title this ("Quarterly Update", my ass) with my brain still stuck in business mode. The past three months have been a whirlwind. Not only has work sped up and swept me away, but this is also the first semester back at school for me.

Being back in school is definitely an interesting experience. It's interesting to go from the soft science of Anthropology to art classes. It's definitely a change in mindset and is a bit of a sap on the free time meter. Between that, work (busy, but still good!) and trying to actually have a social life, I'm pretty well exhausted.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

(Almost) Weekend Update

As I'm taking a momentary break from some lovely work, I thought I'd take a bit to update you all on what's going on with my life. So much has been happening lately, it feels like life has kind of run away with me.

Work is going well. Busy, but well. I'm looking forward to this year as I've got my hand in some projects that are more closely aligned to my longterm career goals and expertise that I want to develop.

School is proving more of a challenge than I had expected. As a naturally creative, artistic person, I thought that art classes, while not a breeze, would be something I would take to like a fish to water. While they aren't incredibly difficult, it is taking more than I thought it would. It seems that the years of an education and now a career focusing on the analytical has left my creative side a bit atrophied and it's good, but painful to get those muscles working again.  I'm hoping that once I get some art projects that I'm actually proud of, I'll be posting them here to share with all of you.

In other news, I have embarked on an interesting adventure. As mentioned in my previous post, I've started exploring and educating myself on personal finance. As an exercise both to keep myself accountable and to try to improve my videography skills, I've started a vlog. Yep, that's right. Lindsey I-Hate-Myself-In-Front-Of-Cameras-Of-Any-Kind is willingly (sort of) putting herself out there on screen.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Personal Finance

There is a missing conversation in our culture today. Particularly in the circles where young adults roam. When was the last time we talked about or were taught about personal finance? Sure, I learned how to balance a check book in grade school. But outside of that, my financial education is extremely limited and the more I talk to my peers, the more I realize that this problem isn't only my problem, it appears to be our problem. With the escalating price of education and the economy still not performing at 100%, many of us are in debt for school or have fallen into the trap of relying on credit cards to pay regular bills.

Personal finance is something that I've always struggled with. I often create budgets and I stay on track, but I catch myself slipping, going back to old habits, or just being generally ignorant on the topic. I contribute to my 401k, but nowhere near enough. I save money, but then it is quickly spent on emergencies (or "emergencies").  I'm hoping that by exploring and writing about this topic, I'll educate myself and hopefully be able to be a resource for others as well. I want to be as open and candid as I can about the process without giving away too much personal information.

Realizing I'm not an expert and am exploring these topics for my own benefit as much as anyone else's, below is what I'd like to cover in this series. If you have suggestions, recommendations, or even advice, I'd love to hear them!
  • Building a budget
  • Getting out of debt
  • The pros and cons of credit cards
  • The credit card trap
  • Good debt versus bad debt
  • The importance of saving
  • Basic investing
  • Saving for retirement
  • Money-saving techniques and tricks
  • Additional resources