Monday, October 27, 2014

God Cheered Me Up With Diamonds

Last Saturday, 10/18, God cheered me up with diamonds!  Let me explain…

I am planning on moving out of my apartment towards the end of November and I also needed to donate Jabba’s stuff.  One, because I cannot  bear to look at all his stuff anymore and two, because another animal needs stuff, three, my heart isn’t healed enough to get another animal any time soon.  I have been gathering his stuff in a big pile so I could donate it to the local shelter, Citizens for Animal Protection.  I didn’t get Jabba at this shelter, I got him at the Pearland shelter, but this one is local and a nonprofit (Pearland is a government ran pound).  I am not sure if they are going to use his food for the animals, or if they are going to sell it at their pet shop, but it all goes to the animals!

My kid had collected quite a bit of stuff in the 3.5 years of his life with me.  I didn’t realize that he had so much stuff!  We had to bring all of it on a big cart since it was so much.   Some of it was:  ½ box unused litter, a case of wet food (metabolism food from Jabba’s diet), dry food, unused litter box, toys, grooming brush, catnip Treats, litter scooper and hand held litter broom, plus more that I can’t remember right this second. 

Anyway, as I was putting it all in the pile I was crying because I miss him so much!  I had to make two trips to my car because it was too much for me to carry.  On the way back to my apartment I looked down at the ground and saw a diamond ring on the ground.  Yes, a diamond ring!!!!  I need to get it appraised, but everyone I have shown it to says it’s real.  I would post a picture, but I need the owner to describe it if they call and I don’t want a phony call!

I called my apartment complex and let them know that I had found a ring.  They told me that I could drop it off and I said no way!  I was not about to drop off a diamond ring somewhere and hope that it finds the right owner, so I told them to have the person call me if they ask about it.  Of course they will have to describe it, but I will give it back if it is theirs.  I don’t want to keep it if the owner calls me.

So, God was trying to cheer me up with diamonds that day!  What a good God he is! :)

p.s.  Citizens for Animal Protects (C.A.P.S.) is having a raffle for a new Suburu.  Go here to enter the raffle!

Monday, October 13, 2014

One Month Gone

On Saturday, September 13th, 2014 my heart was broken in two when I came home to find my Jabba the Hutt had died while I was not home.  It’s been a month and I still can’t believe that he is gone.  I am not sure what happened or what time he passed, but all I know is that God needed him in Heaven more than I needed him on Earth.  (God must have needed him a whole bunch, because I am not sure what I am going to do without him).  
Hiding from the papparazzi :)
It took me awhile to write this post because I really didn't know what to say. Do I just write funny stories about him?  Post funny pictures?  Tell you what has been going through my mind for the past few weeks?  I'm still not sure, and I might end up updating this post or writing another one soon.  I just don't want to forget him, but I want to forget this awful feeling in my heart.  Is it OK to want to get rid of all his stuff because I can't bear to look at it?  Is it OK that I want to move out of my apartment because I keep staring at the spot that I found him?  Part of me wants to move, but part of me doesn't want to let go of the things that were his.  How can I leave the last place that he was?  Will it be harder to leave this place knowing that he died here, or will it be harder staying here with these memories?
Checking out this blog.  Jabba was a high tech cat.
I woke up that morning planning (to Jabba as normal) on going to a funeral that morning (my sister's sister in law passed away the Monday before-we were fiends too, we went to high school together).  I had taken a shower and brought Jabba outside so he could inspect his 'kingdom' like he normally does.  I always sit on the porch or steps and make sure he doesn't go outside his boundaries, but otherwise let him roam.  That morning it was raining outside, so we both just stayed on the porch. We stayed out somewhere between 15-30 minutes that morning, sometimes we have stayed out longer than that. I cannot remember exactly what happened that morning, but I either got up to go inside for a second to put something up, or I made him come inside so I could keep getting dressed.  I can't remember what happened and it hurts my heart to think that I might have made him come inside on his last day.  It already makes me sad that he couldn't roam his territory that morning because of the rain, but if I made him come in, that would make it worse.

I finished getting dressed and gave him treats.  I told him bye and walked out the door, never to see him alive again.  I went to the funeral and to my grandparents afterward.  I stayed at my grandparents for a while and left around 7:30 or 8.  On the way home, it was weird. Something in my mind kept telling me over and over that I needed to be prepared if something were to happen to him and what I would do.  I kept telling myself (or the voice in my head) that nothing was wrong with him and he would be with me for a long time. 

I got home and turned on the light right inside the door.  Jabba normally is either on the couch or somewhere in my room and he comes running around the corner to greet me.  I put my purse down and called him, thinking it was weird that I hadn’t heard him. I looked up and saw him on the floor by the couch and I called his name, but he didn’t move.  I ran over to him and shook him, but I knew that he was gone.  I started crying and called my mom hysterically.  She kept trying to calm me down and told me to get out of the house, but I knew I couldn’t drive like that.  I was hyperventilating and sobbing uncontrollably.  My mom suggested I find a neighbor to help, so I did.  I have a few neighbors that knew Jabba and they came over to help move him.  My family kept calling, but I did not want to talk to anyone.  My sister called and said they were going to pick me up and I could stay at their house for a while if I wanted to and I could bury him at their house.

Jabba was my world.  I loved him so much and in an instant he was gone.  Jesus either needed him in Heaven more than I needed him on Earth, or he has something in mind for me that I couldn’t have Jabba for.   I never knew who Jabba’s old owner was (he was a rescue from the pound and was an owner turnover), but I believe he was an older man.  Hopefully Jabba saw him when he got up to Heaven (not like I would want someone dead, but I think the old owner had died/went into a senior citizens home and they gave him up).

We buried him in my sisters (big) back yard by a tree.  I had wrapped him in a flamingo beach towel and added his favorite toy (mousey).  I also wrote him a letter and added it to his (cardboard) coffin that my brother-in-law made.  I ordered a headstone on Etsy to put where he is buried.  Hunter and Cole both wanted to put flowers on Jabba’s grave, so we went back there and added them to it.  Cole didn’t quite understand why we were doing that and Cole kept saying “Why you’s crying?” and “Where’s Jabba?”  He’s only 3 and the concept of death isn’t something he quite grasps.

My friend Krista gave me a sweet necklace to remember him by.   It says ‘Jabba’ on one circle and ‘My angel with paws’ on the outer circle. I love it and try to wear it every day. I take it off when I take a shower and when I work out so it won’t get broken.  I am also planning on making a photo book of all his pictures that I have taken of him for the last 3.5 years.  My sister is better at making photo books, so I am sure I will recruit her to help me.

So, now it’s all about creating ‘new normals’.   I can sleep in past 5:11 am everyday and no one will be stepping on me and purring by my head to make sure he gets to eat.  I don’t have to worry about kicking him at the foot of the bed and I can eat a can of tuna without having him beg at my feet.  I can stay at friends and families houses without worrying about how he is doing or if I need to call a pet sitter to come and feed him.  Or when I had to go outside with him when it was hot outside or cold outside and he wanted to inspect his kingdom.

But honestly, I would gladly live through all of those ‘quirks’ about him that I used to find annoyingly cute.  I miss him so much and I want him back.  God has him now and I need to accept that.  It makes it easier knowing that he is up in Heaven,  but not so easy when I need a cuddle buddy or someone to talk to.  Jabba was always there no matter what happened in my life.

I know that I will never find another pet like Jabba (chill with a hint of brattyness).  I am going to take a loooooong time to let my heart open back up to an animal.  I know I should adopt another one to save the rescue population, but my heart just isn’t up for it yet.  I don’t want another animal until I can share the pain with someone, but doing this on my own is really hard.  I have fallen in a deeper depression this month than I think I have been in a long time.  I am trying to claw my way out of it by keeping busy and exercising, but depression is no joke. 
This was the last photo I took of him, a few days before he died.  My camera click had woken him up.  He was cuddling mousey in his sleep.

It has been a long 1.5 years and I am ready for things to calm down and for me to stopped being so stressed and heart broken.  Every day is a challenge and I am trying to get back on my feet.  I normally don’t post stuff about what I am going through on the blog, but I am just trying to keep it real. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Aerosmith Concert

A few months ago there was a groupon for the Houston Aerosmith tour and of course I snatched a ticket up.  My sister is a big fan so we both got them along with my friend Teri and Laura's friend Desiree.  We just had to wait until August came to check out the concert!  A few years ago we (me and Laura) went to the Aerosmith concert at the same place when they were touring with Kiss.

I had gotten off work that day and met Teri at the Wal-Mart in the Heights so we could ride together.  Laura and Desiree both live near the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion where the concert was held, so they just met there and had dinner.  I drove to the Woodlands and we found free parking!!!!  I am not sure if it is all free parking or not, but we found some at least! 

We found my sister and sat on the blanket with them to enjoy the concert. We sat on the lawn and had a blast!  The songs brought me back to my childhood where my parents would be listening to rock and roll music.  Now all they listen to is country!  What the heck happened to my rock and roll parents?! :)

At the end of the concert they came out to do an encore and also do the ALS bucket challenge.  Pretty cool. We had a blast and I highly recommend anyone go to the Aerosmith/Slash tour if it is coming to your area soon.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Three Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

I am really getting into this whole cooking thing.  I made these yummy pumpkin muffins and they turned out beautifully!!!!  I made 6 oversize muffins and froze them for later (well, 4 of them, I ate the other two).  The recipe was super simple and super rich.  You can only eat one at a time because it has a lot of flavor.

The recipe only has three ingredients:  1 can of pumpkin, 1 box of spice cake mix, and a 1/2 cup of water.  (The picture shows some brown sugar on top, but it just added sweetness and it just melted, so omit it)

It makes 6 oversize muffins or 12 regular muffins

1 Box Spice Cake Mix (do not add the other ingredients on the back of the cake mix box)
1 Can Pumpkin Puree
1/2 Cup Water

Extra stuff needed:
Paper muffin liners (optional)
Oversize muffin tin (6) or regular muffin tin (12)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
Mix all Ingredients together in a large bowl
Add paper muffin liners to the muffin tin (optional)
Fill Muffin Tin to the top
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (until the toothpick or knife comes out clean)
Enjoy and say "Get in my belly"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

That Time Of Year Again

Guess what time of year it is????? Pumpkin Spice Latte time.

Starbucks had a clue system that you could 'unlock' a secret code on Twitter (@therealpsl) to get the drink early. The twitter led you to a Tumblr account where you put in a code.

Luckily, the barista at my Starbucks just let me have it early since someone earlier in the day has already unlocked it.  Score!

I realize that a #psl is not in my budget, but how can I miss out on enjoying my favorite drink (that I can only get 4 months of the year), on the day it comes out? I am really trying to get stay away and only get it as a special treat. You can't buy the mix like you can the other flavors like cinammom dolce or vanilla.

Friday, August 22, 2014

New Savings Account

I bit the bullet and opened a new online savings account.  I am really bad about having cash in my local savings account through my bank and transferring because I "need" something that is out of my budget.  I have heard of a few different online banks that you can get a higher savings rate than at a local bank, but never looked into them further.

Online banks can offer a higher saving rate because they do not have branches to pay overhead for.  Sure, they have hosting fees and other internet related expenses, but I'm sure (in relation to the # of customers) it doesn't compare to the cost of rent, utilities, etc that a traditional bank has.

I got a Paypal payment for $90 from various mystery shops I did last month and decided that instead of adding it to my regular bank account, I would open an online account.  Fingers crossed this will keep my money in a bank instead of retail stores. :)

I looked online and found two options that would be good for my needs.  Ally Bank and Capital One 360.  Ally Bank has a bit higher interest rate than Capital One 360, but when I tried to open an account, it was a pain in the rear! I  had to fill out an online form, call a number, was put on hold a few times (plus I was online the line for over 16 minutes and they couldn't figure out what was happening), and then I just decided to cancel that account and go with Capital One.  They wanted me to submit my social security card via email (totally unsecure, never do that!) and I was not about to do that!

Capital One was super easy to set up and I was able to complete the process quickly with no annoying phone calls or uploads.  It does take a few days for the opening deposit to be put in to my account, but it will be there soon.  Plus, it has a .75% savings rate vs my local bank is .10%, that is a .65% difference!

Oh, and if you sign up with them, we both get $20 (if your account is opened with $250 or more)!!!!  Go here and sign up!  Save that $$ and start budgeting! :)

For me, out of sight is out of mind.  I don't want to look at the balance or anything unless I am verifying that a deposit is made.  Is it just me, or do other people do that too?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kali's First Birthday

My niece, Kali, turned one a few weeks ago.  My sister lives in Wyoming, but came down for the birthday party that my parents threw for Kali.  Here are some cute pics of the birthday girl! :)

The party was princess themed (of course), and they went all out in the decorations.

Cole decided that he wanted to forego using a fork and just bite into the cake.  Weird (but super cute) kid!

Kali is very prim and proper.  She keeps her right hand in a fist and uses her left hand to do everything.  Maybe she will be left handed!!

Presents!  She was very excited to get presents.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Weekend Recap and Saturday's Texans Game

Last week, I won free tickets to the Houston Texans game against the Atlanta Falcons.  I was originally going to take my sister and nephews, but they decided they didn't want to go since it was pre-season.  Kids don’t usually care, but since their dad said that, they decided they didn't want to go.  Silly!

So, a girl’s night it was!  I told my sister that I would bring a friend and she could bring a friend and we both could enjoy the night.  I had posted on FB that I won the tickets and my friend Natalie said she wanted to go, so I texted her and asked if she was available. She was really excited and it was the first time she had been to a Texans game or even inside NRG (formerly Reliant) Stadium.  Laura brought her friend Desiree that she knew from when they were on the PTA together at my nephew’s elementary school.

My Saturday was packed!  I woke up at 5:11 am to my alarm and got dressed to travel to Nacogdoches for the morning.  Driving Jacks officer retreat was that weekend and they asked if any alumni were free that weekend if they could come and speak.  There were about five of us that drove up for the day/weekend and we spoke about our time with Driving Jacks.  I meant to leave at 11 am, but I was talking with some of the officers and I couldn't leave on time. 

I left around 11:50 (so late!!!) and headed to Tarkington for a funeral.  My ex-stepmom, Tammy, had been battling cancer for a few months and succumbed last Tuesday.  Her funeral was held at her former church in Tarkington.  The funeral started at 1 pm, but I didn't get there until around 2 pm since I was running late.  I got there right as everyone was viewing the casket and saying their condolences to her family.  I was able to attend the graveside service and the lunch afterwards.  My dad had three kids with her; Bridgette, Joshua, and Shaun.  Shaun was here on emergency leave from the Navy and was dressed in his uniform. 

After the funeral I headed to my sister’s house to carpool to the game.  I thought I would have plenty of time to get there and hang out with the boys, but I got there and had just enough time to change before we had to leave.  Luckily, both Natalie and Desiree both live in the same neighborhood (my Mom’s neighborhood) so we were able to get on the road quickly.  We had a free parking pass to the game along with 4 awesome seats!! 

The seats were in the Verizon suite of NRG Stadium.  You had to have a special ticket to get in to that section and they had a special alcohol and food section with super short lines.  You still had to pay for all of it, but it was still nicer than the other sections of the stadium.

The Texans won by a lot of points (32-7) and we stayed until the very end.  A lot of people were leaving since it was clear that the Texans would win the game, but we stayed.  On the way out to the parking lot, there were two guys who were fighting, one with a knife!  The traffic cops stopped everyone so that cars could pass through, but none of us wanted to get stabbed with a knife from drunk people!  We were all pushing and trying to get away from the knife guy and the lady was yelling at us.  How in the heck did they get in the stadium with a knife?  Someone with a wand did not do their job!  Finally when she heard that there was a fight with a knife she called security and let us all through.  We made it back to our car and swiftly locked the doors. LOL. 

Anyway, it was a fun game and the Texans won!!  Whooo hoo!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Side Hustle: Surveys

In the past few weeks, I have been reading personal finance blogs and you might have noticed some increase on financial type posts.  They have inspired me to write a few on my blog and do a bit more savings/budgeting than I used to.

I realized that while I make a lot of money (*a lot is a relative term), I don't know where it all goes!  I know I (try) send about $600 a month to student loans, the rest seems to leave without me noticing.  I do spend a lot on going out to eat though. :/  I am working on that.

In order to increase my savings and have a way to save for birthdays/holidays, I started to do surveys online.  I signed up for a few companies and have made about $40 in a few weeks!  It isn't too much, but my budget for gifts is about $30/month or $360 per year.  I figure if I make about $30 every two weeks, that pays for holidays and birthdays for the year.  The companies either pay you in gift cards (to places like Amazon or Visa gift cards) or they can send the $$ to your PayPal account.

Here are a few if you want to try it yourself.
Inbox Dollars-you can make money off of searches (like google), paid emails (click on the link), surveys, referells, watch short videos, spin and win, purchases (I got $5 for purchasing through them a Groupon), etc.  Super easy! I have made the most $$ off of this one.  Sign up and get $5 automatically in your account.  They also have monthly sweepstakes you can enter.

Swag Bucks-pretty much the same as Inbox Dollars, but you get points instead of cash.  The points equal a certain $ amount that you redeem for points.  I haven't used this one too much, but I already have enough points for about $5.

Let me know how it works out for you!  If you have any other ideas how to make easy money online (not scams! LOL), post below. I have another post soon about mystery shopping.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Aramco Half Marathon Kickoff Party

Back in June, I got selected to be in the 2015 Aramco Half Marathon.  Just like with the full marathon, it was a lottery system. I really didn't want to be accepted, but I thought it would be good for me to apply anyway.  Let that be a lesson not apply for the 2016 lottery because you will probably get picked! LOL.

Anyway, last night was the kick-off party for the event that had been postponed due to weather a few times.  Luckily, it was a clear afternoon and rain free (it did rain later that night though).  I left right after work and went down Memorial Dr. to look for parking.  Let me tell you, Rush Hour Traffic + Kick-off party = nightmare for parking and traffic!  They had sections of the road blocked off and you couldn't park where they were having the party (a section of Memorial Park).

Well, lucky for me there was a small parking area a little ways down from the party that I thought I could just park easily.  No, it was hard getting in there since it was so packed.  I parked on the side of the lane and decided just to get my shirt and go, since it was so busy and I know a lot of other people were looking for parking as well.

I got to the site and found the shirt section easily.  I wanted to look around the different booths, but I knew the parking was bad and I didn't want to get towed or anything.

I got back to my car and found out that I as blocked in by 3 cars.  Three whole separate people decided to just leave their cars double parked.  They took their sweet time getting back too.  We were stuck for about 20 minutes waiting for the people to get back. So honestly, I could have just looked around more at the party and it wouldn't have mattered.  They had lots of tents set up for different charities (Run for a Reason) and various vendors giving out free food. I was this close to snagging a bagel or fruit, but I *thought* I needed to get back to my car asap.

I do like the shirt though.  The material has a vintage look to it,I'm not sure if you can tell by the picture. I can't wait to wear it, even if I CAN wait to train for the race. LOL. I didn't go to the party when I was training for my marathon, but I decided that since I was already in that area, I might as well go.