Thursday, February 28, 2013


The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing you will make one. 
--Elbert Hubbard

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chapter 1: Being Broke

Truly, if I ever wrote a book, there would be some reference to my (and my family's) rotten luck when it comes to money and how to live as cheap as possible. Before I do a recap of my weekend conference, I have to tell you this story. It involves my continual cycle of being poor and the excellent skills I have acquired to be prepared in any situation.

As most people know, money is tight. We are all incredibly aware of our bank accounts, costs of basic needs like electricity, gas, and food, and we often weight priorities in terms of wanting and needing. Money is tight for me as well and as I was preparing to attend a conference for work (one that we would be mostly reimbursed for later), I knew that I would have to save as much money as I could from every paycheck. I scrimped here and there but bills and life definitely surprise you at times. Factoring in costs of hotel and food, I knew that I would have about $100 for the weekend for "play money" and it seemed very doable and actually like a very generous amount. No problem.

Fast forward to last Saturday when I was having lunch with 10 people that I worked with in a previous internship. I was so, so excited to see these people! I looked forward to it for at least a month and even got myself a little margarita to go with the festivities. It was so much fun!

Until the waitress returned to the table and said "Oh, Ms. April" and then I knew...something wasn't good.

My card had been declined. Cue the bright red face and terrible feeling in my stomach.

I had no way of paying for the meal except for the 40 cents in my purse and about five years of experience in the food service industry.

Luckily, I am close with one of the girls at lunch and I discretely asked if she could cover me until I figured out what had happened. We both figured that since I had gone through three states, maybe my credit union held my card for fraudulent charges. No big deal, I thought, I'll just call the bank.

Funny thing about the credit union I am with, no one to talk to except for the fraudulent charges department and the automated person on the hotline. I call the fraud people and they don't see anything. I call the hotel to see about charges and holds. There was a mix-up and the hold wasn't used for the room as it should have been, I was just charged on top of the hold amount (confused yet?).

The hold will take five days to come off.
This means I have no money, at all, for five days. The conference, at this point, was three more days.


I get some tears going in the eyes, thinking what I absolutely need money for and then.....I just let it all go. At that point, there wasn't anything I could do at all so there was no point in worrying.

Lucky for me, I plan ahead. I brought many, many snacks along with me so I wouldn't be tempted to buy any overpriced granola bars, fruit, or crackers at the convenience stores. Also in my favor, tons of networking and presentation events that included free nibbles and even a few meals.

You bet that I ate the hell out of those crudites platters and cheese plates.
Oh yes! I got my vegetables, fruit, and protein in at every meal. 

I grabbed extra things during breakfast to eat throughout the day. They had delicious coffee during the whole conference so I never once went without my beloved coffee as I went through session after session.

Mostly, I wanted to share this story because I find it ridiculous, typical, and also a lesson in how tempted I was to just go buy something because I felt like it but given the situation I couldn't. It stopped me from late night M&M runs, and grabbing a "fancy" coffee every morning before the conference. It definitely showed me that growing up in a house that didn't always have a lot of money actually prepared me well for financial situations like this one. The one thing it did affect was my socialization because I was only able to go out to dinner one with co-workers and that was because a dear, dear friend forced me (literally jammed the bill into my hand) to take some assistance just in case anything came up. Her help not only allowed me to grab dinner but also allowed me to get lunch the next day, too!

I have to say, this conference was pretty wonderful. I will do a proper review to go more in detail about what the conference was about, the amazing people that I talked with and heard from, and the food...delicious!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Yes, it is that lovely day that people usually feel strongly one way or the other about: Valentine's Day. V-Day. Singles Awareness Day. In any case, it is a day where there is a whole lot of pink and red going on and usually some sort of candy involved which I can totally get behind.

Since I am having a rough start to my day (no hot water, fire alarm at work, loud construction happening at work, raging headache), I figured I should focus on some positive things going on in the world...

Homeless man returns diamond ring found in his change cup. (Huffington Post)

Hilarious teen contestant on Jeopardy wins. (Happy News)

Chronicle of love between a little boy and his best friend, a white french bulldog. (Huffington Post)

Boyfriend shaves his head in dedication to his girlfriend, recently diagnosed with cancer. (Huffington Post) 

Puppy Bowl superstars: Where are they now? (HLN)

Spin the Ferris Wheel of Love on Google (WIRED)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Quotes of the Day: Positivity

I know, I silence on the blog front. Things have been pretty hectic and I am trying to get things straight which is proving to be pretty challenging. I thought it would be a nice way to start off the week with a little positive juju.

“You've done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” 
--Ralph Marston 

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results.” 
--Willie Nelson 

 “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” --Oprah Winfrey 

“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. 
The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” 
--W. Clement Stone 

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as 
though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, 
for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” 
--Harriet Beecher Stowe

Friday, February 1, 2013

Books, Books, Books: PART II

You Say More Than You Think, Janine Driver 
I haven't completely dived into this book but I think it is a fascinating topic to read about. Basically, our body language says a lot and can also affect how others treat us and perceive us.  it goes much further than the simple crossing of arms and legs.

It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken, Greg Behrendt & Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt
I believe Greg Behrendt should talk with every single young woman (and man) growing up and give them the low down on what dating, love, and relationships should be. He wrote a previous book, "He's Just Not That Into You" and damn, it was a revelation! This book is moving on from that concept of the initial relationship issues and talks about getting over and moving on after the breakup even though, if we were using our heads rather than our hearts, we would already know this stuff.

The Big Truck That Went By, Jonathan Katz
This book details what happened after the massive earthquake in Haiti from the perspective of an AP correspondent. Not only does Katz detail what happened immediately after the quake hit but also goes into the politics and history of the country, how the world perceived things during this time, and the fact that Haiti has been and was forgotten in their greatest time of need. It is a sad book, at least from my perspective, but a story that needed to be told. 

Somewhere Inside, Laura Ling & Lisa Ling
I have been wanting to read this book for so long that I actually forgot about it. This is the story of Laura Ling and her colleague, Euna Lee, being held captive in North Korea. The book is set up from the perspectives of both Laura in North Korea and Lisa and her family in Los Angeles. I found it so interesting to hear both sides of the story, the intense emotion, and what Lisa was trying to do in the United States to get her sister and Euna home safely. This was a highly publicized story after the fact (that is explained more in the book) and most people remember Bill Clinton flying to North Korea and coming back with the reporters. Such a fascinating read; I read it in two nights!

A Place of Yes: 10 Rules to Getting Everything You Want Out of Life, Bethenny Frankel
 I don't remember in great detail anything that stood out to me from this book. It was a good outline of things to think about in your own life, highlighting stories and experiences from Frankel.

The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides
This was such a great book-I now see why it was so popular! The book is about three college friends in the 80's and their entry into adulthood and complicated relationships. I think the diversity and emotion of the characters really pull you in and make you want investigate what happens with them even after the book ends.

The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling, Quinn Cummings
An interesting introduction to homeschooling from a parents' perspective but perhaps because I am not a parent yet, I couldn't get very interested in the book. 

You're Not Doing It Right, Michael Ian Black
Michael Ian Black, actor from MTV's "The State" and various other random television and movies (Wet Hot American Summer!), discusses his life in terms of childhood, family, having children, and career successes and failures.  He really has been in and done a little bit of everything! His humor comes through in his writing and he very honestly discusses life as he knows it.

Girl Walks into a Bar..., Rachel Dratch
Ah, I loved this book more than I thought I would. Rachel Dratch is of Saturday Night Live fame and was often given the role of the more unattractive characters (Debbie Downer is probably her most well-known character). She talks not only about her life but addresses many of the rumors that went around about her including feuds with other SNL alums and her career paths. She talks about her parts on "30 Rock" and how difficult it is to be pigeon-holed as an actor and feel like you can't move in any other direction. She also talks about dating, which I absolutely loved, and having children. You could tell she was really just being "real" and not trying to meet some sort of wild expectation of a Hollywood autobiography or anything, which I really appreciated.

Vegan Takes Over the World Series: Cupcakes, Cookies, Pie
I started vegan baking with the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World long, long ago. I found how easy it was to make substitutes in baking and many of the recipes that I have tried (the most basic ones) are absolutely delicious; so much so that I usually use them for any cupcake that I plan on making. For Christmas, my friend bought me the other two of the series and I cannot wait to start making some delicious things and surprising co-workers when I tell them they are vegan. I even bought raw cashews to start making some creamy pies with!