Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nerd Alert

Did y'all know that secretly I'm a nerd?  A big one.  As in, I love to learn... almost about anything.  I loved school, especially grad school because although it doesn't directly apply to my job right now, I loved learning about the various topics. 

And... I love to read.  And I'm a really, really fast reader.  My parents used to think I was a speed reader, which may be true.  I used to read some much that I would get in trouble for sneaking off and reading instead of doing my "chores."  N.E.R.D.

As that as an introduction, a topic I've been intrigued by for the past couple of years is personal finance.  Now, I'm not a "math" person, by any means, but I do love the thought of these phrases floating around right now: "debt free," "in control," "not owned by anyone else."  Don't those sound lovely?  I love, LOVE to read about personal finance.  My first introduction was to Mr. Dave Ramsey, who scared to beejeezies out of me but provided a real wake-up call.  He's fierce and intense, but will surely give you a smack in the right direction. 

I moved on to the abundance of personal finance blogs and fell in love with a couple that I read habitually every morning.  What used to be an intimidating subject now is really just common sense, thanks to the talented authors serving me a fresh dose on any given day. My favorites are listed at the bottom of the blog, but some new ones I've found are awesome, such as The Simple Dollar, who just published his free e-book called “Everything You Ever Really Needed to Know About Personal Finance on Just One Page.”  It's great and more importantly full of common sense.  Another called Carrie on the Cheap is written by a gal the same age as me, which is nice because she knows what's going on with personal finance at our age level.

Good thing I was raised by some pretty frugal parents, because I got taught very early on the importance of being thrifty, which has now turned into a full-fledged obsession hobby.  I can remember always wanting the "new" or "best" item, now it's like a personal challenge to myself to find that same item at the lowest cost possible.  Is it the competitive side in me?  Of course.  But I love it. I live for it.  Take, for example, my new camera.  One may think to naturally try Wal-Mart, which I did.  But didn't feel challenged enough.  I wouldn't stop until I found it at a certain price, $100 well below the Wal-Mart price.  And... I DID IT.  With some freebies included.  The rush was amazing, and I still get giddy just thinking about it.  (NERD ALERT)

Mr. Smith has been introduced to this new level of thinking now that we're happily married and living under one frugal roof.  While I know he gets tired of my endless chatter about personal finance, secretly I believe he's a little relieved that I'm built this way.  Before we were even married, I had all our financial goals listed out (um... did I mention I love making lists?), complete in an Excel spreadsheet with formulas.  (Insert your laughter, here, it's totally okay. Lord knows Mr. Smith had a field day with it when first introduced!)  And... might I add that I proudly brought in my Excel spreadsheet to our minister at our premarital counseling session regarding money.  Might I say that Dr. Durham was secretly horrified impressed?  Maybe?

I can't help it... I'm hooked.  I love seeing those debt numbers go down (or totally eliminated earlier than my previously set deadline!) and seeing those saving and investment numbers go up. Being the nerd that I am, I read probably a handful of books on marriage and each book always seemed to agree that money is the number one cause of marital fights.  Or, better yet, the lack of money.  To keep everything on the up and up, Mr. Smith and I both have access to our account (which is free and awesome by the way - you should do it).  At any given time, either one of us can log in and see all our moola laid out in front of our eyes. 

Sorry that this is a rather long post, but as I was driving into work today, I was wondering about what to write about with my next post and had to ask... well, what do I love to do every single day?  My daily morning financial wake-up is one of those things, which I realized brought out the hidden nerd to a red flag level. 

Embrace your inner nerd today! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Winter Wonderland Pictures!

Our little home in the snow.

Backyard and Deck, Pre-Cooper

Our neighborhood.

Cooper cautiously sniffing out this strange white stuff covering his backyard.

Afraid to get off the deck into the snow. 

He attacks!  So ferocious!

Conquering the snowy backyard.

Playing with dad in the snow.

Everything's better when my dad's got me.

So exhausted after a day of fun playing in the snow.

Abby the Cat was a little jealous of Cooper's photo shoot.  So I turned the camera on her.  Here she is posing with my sweet red carnations that Mr. Smith gave me for Valentine's Day.  (The American Cancer Sociey was selling them for donations... gotta love Mr. Smith!)  Here, the Princess Abby almost looks sweet.  However...

... here's the gorgeous face that greets us every day.  Look at that attitude. 
Work it girl!  You are so vogue, Abby!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Winter Weekend Wrap-Up

Happy Monday!  Mr. Smith and I enjoyed a lovely Winter Wonderland weekend doing absolutely nothing.  Friday night we ventured out to eat at The Veranda on Highland and promptly made a "180 on 280" on the way there due to the ice.  I'm not sure if anyone else ventured out that night, but it was really scary.  Cars lined the medians and the police were out in full force trying to prevent people from risking their lives. 

The Veranda on Highland is a great, unique spot that's really an older historic home. 

We ate quickly to get home as fast as possible, but while we were at The Veranda, dined on the following delectable dishes:
  • Sauteed of Louisiana Crawfish (this was more Mr. Smith than me, I did try one bite though!)
  •  Chopped Romaine Salad with Diced Tomatoes, Pressed Egg, Bacon Lardons and Shaved Cheese tossed in a Black Pepper Buttermilk Dressing
  • Certified Hereford Ribeye with Creole Smashed New Potatoes, House Made Worcestershire and Crispy Sweet Onions

It was delicious!  We highly recommend it; however next time I would get the Filet and not the Ribeye.  Their house made worcestershire is to die for!  We can't wait to go back and really enjoy the "veranda" aspect of the restaurant once warmer weather comes around.  They have a delicious looking brunch menu that would be perfect for after-church Sunday dining. 

I have some really great pictures of The Pooper's first snow adventure; however, I'm still learning the ropes on my new camera so I'm a little slow with uploading those pictures. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Monday, February 8, 2010

Let's Chat Turning 27

I have just wrapped up a wonderful weekend celebrating my birthday with my fabulous husband, family and friends!  And I can pretty much admit it was a winner - right up there at the top of all my birthdays!  The 4th was the actually date of birth, so Mr. Smith and I (along with Cooper the Pooper) journeyed up to Cullman for a birthday dinner with my family.  Mom had fixed my absolute favorite! And made me a super sweet birthday cake as well. 

(I got busted by Mr. Smith showing Cooper how awesome and roomy his kennel really is when we got home.  And yes, I have double-jointed elbows!)

Friday night a group of friends went to celebrate with Mexican food and what a blast!  The ten of us enjoyed delicious food, frosty beverages, and even some music by the restaurant's talent.  The musicians are also a big fan of celebrating 27th birthdays as well, and promptly placed a sombrero on my head while they sang "Happy Birthday" in Spanish.  We ended the night with some karaoke... pure bliss!

A little embarrassed about the hat.  It was quite enormous.

Our friendly musicians!

When in doubt, pick up a pair of maracas and join in the fun!

Sharing the birthday with good friends!

Partners in Crime

Had to post because it was too cute!

Getting the crowd ready for Matt's version of "Gin and Juice."  Hysterical.

We ventured down to Tuscaloosa on Saturday for our friends' Engagement Party, where I got to try out my new camera!  Ah yes!  Mr. Smith proved to be such a thoughtful husband and I got a NEW CAMERA!!!  I'm so excited!  It's a Canon Rebel XSi.  I'm still new with it, but I managed to capture this wonderful shot Saturday night of my friend Mary Kathryn.  We've been besties since kindergarten, and this pic pretty much sums up her in a nutshell.

Isn't she cute? 

Sunday was filled with good church, good food and good companionship with Mr. Smith's family.  Mother-in-Law fixed a lunch of my favorites and we had cake again!  So... other than the fact that I gained about a million pounds.... what a wonderful way to turn 27!  Thank you friends and family for a wonderful celebration!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Don't call PETA on me!

I promise I'm not a horrible parent to our precious pup, but The Pooper had some close calls this week with his mom.  Looking back, they are entertaining, so I will share.  Let me catch you up first: part of the b'day gift to Mr. Smith with Cooper was assuring him that I could run home every day for lunch until The Pooper was adequately kennel-trained.  This has proven incredibly boring and time consuming on my part, but that dang pup loves it.  When it's sunny, I sit outside and eat my lunch on the deck while he runs free in the backyard, soaking up the rays and lovin' life.  Sometimes we even play fetch with his tennis ball.  However, on days like today (it's pouring here and 40 degrees!), madness runs amis while I'm trying to scarf down a quick lunch and end World War III between The Pooper and the Princess Abby Cat (who reigns with terror, mind you!). 

Nevertheless, Tuesday this week proved to be too cold and yucky for the Cooper's antics, so we sat inside while I ate a hot dog (I never claimed these lunches were healthy).  These are good hot dogs, from Omaha Steak (we have like a million of them), and I feel like I'm doing my part in the whole budget thing by eating them for lunch during the week.  The Pooper also feels like he should do his part by eating one as well.  Every once in a while I'll give him a little bit of leftover meat, and that child puppy loves it. However, for some reason Tuesday I was feeling pretty generous and felt the need to cook The Pooper one whole hot dog, just for him.  Because I love him that much. 

After chopping up the cooked hot dog into little bits (like any good mother would!), I eagerly put them in Cooper's dog bowl and watched that pup HOOVER them down.  I was slightly alarmed at the sheer verocity of his intake, but he seemed fine. 

Warning... watch you are about to read is disgusting. If you have a weak stomach, turn back immediately!!!

Not 10 minutes later, I hear one of the grossest sounds ever... you know what it is... someone heaving.  Or rather, our dog heaving.  Heaving up a HUGE pile of greenish dog food mush with the hot dog bits.  And then did it again.  And then again.  Three times.  Three mounds of grossness on my kitchen floor (thankfully, the carpets were not involved in this!).  Usually, I've got a pretty strong stomach, but having just eaten one of these gourmet franks, my stomach did not want to see my lunch in this fashion.  Please picture me in my professional attire, on all fours on the floor, crawling around, dry heaving and gagging, while cleaning up this mess.  Oh, and fighting off Cooper from coming back for seconds.  As in, a second helping.  I kid you not.  This is my life.  Anyone jealous?  Bueller? Bueller? 

Anyway... that about wraps up my funny Cooper story this week.  I've got another but might wait for another posting.  As you can imagine, no pictures were taken to accompany this entry, as for starters, I tried to hide the whole event from Mr. Smith, to no avail.  He wondered aloud why Cooper was begging him for food and then made the link that I had fed him in about 3 seconds flat.  Might have been the guilt written all over my face? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

January Wrap Up

Mr. and Mrs. Smith wrapped up our January 2010 with a lovely dinner at Ocean last Thursday night.  We are embarking on a "Restaurant Tour" of Birmingham.  Why?  Because every time we tell people we live here, they're like," Oh have you eaten at So-And-So?  It's so good."  And we always have to reply with a "Nope!"  We've crossed off The Melting Pot, Gian Marco's, and now Ocean from our list.  There's still a good bit to accomplish, but we're taking it slow with one big restaurant a month.  Any suggestions for February? Maybe something romantic around Valentine's Day?

This weekend we also got the chance to host a party for our very good pals Pelham and Suz, aka the Future Mr. and Mrs. Carroll.  It was a Wine and Dessert party, and all the guests brought miscellaneous gift cards for the bride and groom.  

(Please note this lovely house is the home of Mr. and Mrs. David Wise.)

Dessert Station

Hmmm...  we did chocolate fondue with a variety of "dippers."  A total hit!