Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Turns out, not all Opera singers are fat

#14 on my 30 before 30 list is ‘go to the opera’.  I had been to Broadway and the ballet, but never to an opera so I was super excited to have it on my list.  I need culture in my life you see.

My friend Nicki had taken me to the ballet months ago so I thought I would invite him to be my opera buddy.  Nicky suggested we go see La Traviata at the Houston Grand Opera.  As the event got closer I couldn’t decide what to wear.  About a week before the opera I texted Nicky and asked him what to wear.  He said operas were usually formal attire.  YIKES!  I had some shopping to do. 

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a formal dress at the last minute?!  Well, let me tell you that it’s not easy!  I didn’t want to spend too much on a dress because I don’t go to things where I have to wear long formals.  My first stop was Burlington Coat Factory ßI have gotten some really cute clothes there, you should check it out.  I found two dresses that were OK, but were a last resort.  A few days later I went to Macy’s and found another dress that I thought I would end up wearing, but THEN I went to Dilliards and fell in love with a short black cocktail dress with sequins (who doesn’t love sequins!).  My neighbor Carol helped me get into my dress and I curled my hair.  Oops! I was running soooo late (as usual though J )

Nicky and I drove together and got to the Wortham center about 30 minutes before the performance.  We had just enough time to have a drink (Moscato wine please!) and people watch for a bit.  There was a really cool dress hanging from the ceiling that was on exhibit.

We got to our seats and the opera started.  It turns out that it was the same opera that Julia Roberts cried for in Pretty Woman.  I don’t really understand why she cried though?!  Maybe it was because I had to keep reading the subtitles since the play wasn’t in English.  I’m not sure, but I didn’t even tear up.

The story was about a woman that was a prostitute and she fell in love with a man.  She had been on the verge of death and had fought her way back to life.  She sold all of her possessions so she could live with him in the country but then his dad came to speak with her and told her that his other child could not get married if they were together (since she was a prostitute) and she left him.  Then she got sick again.  It was sad, but I still didn’t cry.  Maybe there is something wrong with me?  (That’s a story for a different day!)

That’s the story of my opera experience.  Would I go see another one?  Probably, as long as it was in English (but I think those are hard to come by).  I was not NOT a fan, but I was not a fan.  Make sense?  Maybe I should just pick another one and make sure I read the plot before I go?  Who knows. 

Have you ever been to the opera?  What did you see?  How did you like it?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Message in a bottle

This weekend I sent a message in a bottle, it was #29 on my 30 under 30 list.

On Friday I headed to Corpus Christi, TX to have a fun visit and hang out by the beach.  Corpus is about 4 hours from Houston so I got their around 8:30 pm.

My friend Nicky gave me this message in a bottle set when we went to the opera. Thanks Nicky!! 

It comes with a bottle, wax, candle, cork, and two notes to add to the bottle.

I wrote a note telling whoever finds it about my 30 under 30 list and how to contact me when they find it.

I rolled it up and stuck it inside the tube. My nephew also wrote a note to stick inside.  I don't know what exactly his said, but it was something about he likes video games.  Then he asked me how to spell pirate, so it must be about pirates also. LOL.

The kit came with two pre-written notes, but I decided to write my own.

Then added the wax (then you heat it up to melt it).

We headed out on the boat on Saturday morning to throw it out. This is my nephew Hunter and my Bro-in-Law Beau getting ready to go fishing/throw the bottle.

It's in the water!!! You can't really see it, but this is where we threw it and it's floating.

Hopefully it will make it's way to a person far, far away. When we threw it (Hunter actually threw it out) I was hoping that no one would see it in the area and pick it up. LOL. That would be just my luck. :/

If anyone finds it I will be sure to let everyone know!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Homeless in Houston

#20 on my 30 under 30 list is to take a homeless person out to lunch or dinner.  Now, my original plan was to actually take a homeless person out, but my family said that was a bad idea and I compromised and decided to volunteer at a homeless shelter and serve them lunch. J

I searched several places and found one that I really liked called The Beacon.  It is really close to Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston.  I called and made an appointment to volunteer last Sunday.  I didn’t take pictures because I didn’t think they would appreciate having their pictures taken, so you just get the story. :/  Hope you like it anyway.

My shift was from 9 am-12 pm in the food service department.  It was pouring down raining when I left my house that morning but I didn’t want to cancel on them (they said a lot of people do cancel if it’s bad weather).  I got there around 8:45 am and signed in.  They assigned me to the cream, sugar, sweet n’ low section as what I like to call the “Sweetener Nazi”.  I technically wasn’t serving them lunch…but it’s the serving part that matters. J

Apparently people like to horde sweetener at this place because you can only have one creamer, and three total of the sugar or sweet n’ low (per drink) and they aren’t allowed to grab it out of the bucket, you have to get it for them.   At my station there was also an older lady giving it out also (they really only needed one person, but I guess they knew that they would take advantage of me being there for my first time).  The older woman was definitely a pro at being the Sweetener Nazi.  She gave me the run down on who is who and what you can and can’t do. I heard multiple times ‘it’s the rules’.  Okie dokie.

They let the homeless come in around 9:15 a few at a time.  They can take a shower, drink coffee/tea, do their laundry, and at lunch time they eat lunch.  They came in slowly at first and started getting their drinks.  Some of them tried to get more than what they were allowed and we had to point to the sign a few times.  One lady said, “who do they think they are telling us how much sweetener we can have in our coffee’’.  Really?  It’s free!  You aren’t paying for it (I really wanted to tell her that, but I didn’t).  Then another guy wanted 10 sugar packets and I told him no (I was getting into my Sweetener Nazi role) and he said that he wanted it and that he didn’t have to listen to women in his country.  I did tell him that those are the rules and that he is in America so he does have to listen to them here.

At 11 am the other Sweetener Nazi had to leave and I was left manning the fort by myself.  After she left they started serving lunch so I added salt and pepper packets to my list of things ot pass out (three salt, three pepper each).  I then thought of myself as the Condiment Nazi.  The rule was that they had to have their tray with them (because people tried to come up multiple times).  I understand that the rules are there because the salt/pepper/sugar/sweetner/creamer can get expensive.  I understand both sides of the argument that that stuff is expensive, but on the other hand these people don’t get much in life and they should have some sugar.  I don’t know.  I’m not on the budget cut committee.

So, I know I shouldn’t admit this but there was a guy there that was hot (and homeless), but in my defense he didn’t look like he should be there or that he was homeless. Maybe he was just wearing his Sunday best?  He had on khaki’s and a really nice button down shirt.  I don’t know, but he did look like my ex (the Chef) and I think that’s probably why I noticed him (and he actually had the same name as him! Weird!).  Ok, feel free to judge me for checkin’ out a homeless dude.  I am judging myself.  :/

Would I volunteer again?  Not sure.  Maybe in a different section, but I don’t think I would want to be the Sweetener Nazi again.  Honestly (and I might be a bad person for saying this), I don’t think they were very grateful for the services they were given (that is a generalization, some people were very polite and said thank you and you could tell they were grateful). It’s a free service that the Beacon is providing and they seemed to take it for advantage like we (society) owed them something.   I know some of them have mental illnesses, but a majority of them that I saw were just fine (but it could be hidden). 

Overall, it was an interesting experience and I’m glad I did it.  Have you ever volunteered at a homeless shelter?  What was your experience?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dave Ramsey Budgeting

My work is sponsoring those of us that want to do it, a course called Financial Peace University.  When they offered it to us so many of us wanted to sign up that we have two classes.  My new company is so awesome that instead of putting a cap on the number of people that are able to participate, they just bought more kits.  They want all of us to be secure with money and know how to live life to our fullest with the money we make.  The class is more than $200 per person so it says a lot that they are paying for about 40 of to take it.  My friend Krista and her husband Tyler have been doing the Dave Ramsey system and are already making huge progress!  I know I have been sent a few messages when they paid off their car and also a college access loan (I know they have paid off a lot more than that though!).  It works when you do!  The program says that getting out of debt and building financial wealth is 20% head knowledge, and 80% change in behavior.
 Dave Ramsey (DR) is awesome, awesome, awesome!  I have read his book before, the Total Money Makeover, but I have never taken his course.  There are 13 weeks total in the program and each week we learn about a new topic.  Have you ever seen the movie ‘What about Bob?” well Bob is taking ‘baby steps’ to get over his phobias.  Our ‘baby steps’ in the program are to help us get out of debt, and become financially secure.  They go from saving $1,000 in the bank for an emergency fund, then using the debt snowball to get out of debt, after you get out of debt then you can go to the next steps like saving for retirement and college.

Just an FYI, I am in debt for student loans and not credit cards. K? Thanks!My favorite part so far (we are on week 2) is creating a cash system instead of using your debit card all of the time.  D.R. says that you aren’t attached to money on your debit card as you are with cash.  You are less likely to go out to eat every week if you can physically see and hand out your money to a waiter. 
I really think this will help me because I will tell you a story about me when I was in high school (long time ago).  When I was in highschool I worked for a childcare center making minimum wage (I think it was $5.15 an hour) and I could only work about 15 hours a week.  My checks were around $150 every two weeks (what a HUGE difference now!) and I would put $75 in my savings account, and the other $75 I would spend on whatever I wanted. I was sooooo good about saving money that when I graduated I had a lot of money (for a highschooler).  Then. I. Got. A. Debit. Card. And. My. Savings. And. Spending. Habits. Went. South. :/

I know that you can only spend what you have on a debit card, but it was a disconnect for me.  I couldn’t touch the money so it didn’t feel ‘real’.  Does that make since?  I had nothing to show (and still don’t) for all of the money I spent.  One month I looked and I spent $600 on going out to eat.  $600?!  WTF!    I am hoping that when I start using cash again that I will get back to being good at saving.  I realized that this is my money.  MINE!  I control it.  I shouldn’t give it away freely.  When I wake up early every morning to get out of bed to go to work I should have something to show for it. 

Moral of this post?  I am on a budget.  Yes, me Queen of Shoe Shopping and needless spending. I am going to try and post some of the tips I learned in class and some of my (hopefully) success stories.
My goal is to buy myself a house within the next few years.  I want to be debt free when I do that though so I can pay for it and not worry about paying for it and also the debt. 

Rice and Beans meals?  Yummy! 

I will be probably posting several things about Dave Ramsey over the next few months so get ready!