Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nina Post

Something's been bothering me lately, and, if anyone out there is reading this and has an opinion on the matter, I would love to hear (or read) your thoughts.

When is it okay to split a dinner bill evenly, and when should every diner pay their own way?

This has come up for me twice recently with some of the same people. A few weeks ago, I went out to dinner with some friends in a party of eight. If you've been reading my blog, you know that financially, things are very tight for me, and I've been working very hard at saving my money. So with that in mind, I carefully selected my meal, and my order came to a total of about $17.00 with tax and tip. I did not drink any alcohol, while others in my party did. When the bill came, it was announced that it would be split evenly, bringing my $17.00 tab up another $10.00. I was a little put off by this, but didn't want to cause trouble-- and also kept in mind that I did have a couple bites of an appetizer that was ordered-- and forked over the $27.00.

Last night, Steve and I went out to dinner with two friends, both of whom were in the party of eight earlier this month. Again, I was careful about my dinner selection, and, as usual, stuck with water. My bill would be $15.00. This time, there was no sharing involved. But again, when the bill came, our friend announced that the bill will be split evenly, which meant that I was responsible for $25.00 of it. I said something, and it was worked out that I would pay less of the $50.00 Steve and I owed together (I neglected to notice if our meals added up to $50 or if the weight of the bill was in our friends' orders).

Some thoughts:
*I was worried that I was sounding cheap by bringing up the disparity, but it's really the people that ordered more expensive things that are getting off easy by using my frugal meal to bring down the average.
*By agreeing to dine with friends, am I understanding and accepting the possibility of an evenly-split bill?
*I think the bill should be split evenly when meals are 1) of comparable prices or 2) shared or served family-style.

What do you think?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Back from The 'No

True to form, I have been sick this holiday, and feeling every bit of it.  Last night I went to bed, without the assistance of medication, at 7:30pm.  I awoke, fully and finally (as opposed to the times I thought I was waking up and then went back for more sleep and crazy-ass dreams) at 1:00pm.  You'd think that would mean a full recovery, but nooo: I feel worse now than I have all week.

And so, my year-end recap may have to be postponed until the year actually ends.  Probably better that way anyway.

In other news, Christmas was awesome.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And so it begins...

During what is going to be-- and already is (yikes!)-- a grueling process of growing my pixie haircut out, I'm going to be posting possible goal cuts for inspiration and motivation.  As my hair gets longer and I reach various hair length checkpoints, the pictures will feature longer hair, too!  (Wow, what a concept!)

So, without further ado, here are some short cuts (but longer than my current 'do) that I would consider as Checkpoint #1:




Right now, the important thing to do is to let the top grow out while still getting the neck trimmed so that I don't 1) grow a mullet and 2) go crazy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Extra, Extra!

Look at me, bloggin' up a storm! Some notable news:

I'm growing my hair out. I had been thinking about it, missing the variety, but wasn't really committed to the frustration that comes along with it. Then, on the day I was planning to get a trim (but couldn't because I got out of work late), Steve asked if I would be willing to grow it out. So that pretty much sealed the deal. In the next couple weeks I'm going to go to my salon to trim the baby mullet and reshape in preparation for something new.

Projected move-out date: September 1, 2009. Steve and I are planning to finish out our lease and then get our own place. I've been doing some preliminary searches to see what's out there, and the results have been very promising; especially in our current neighborhood, which is nice. I'm especially excited about furniture shopping at yard sales.

Sometime just after the year starts, I'm going to start taking either yoga or belly dancing classes with some friends. I'll add them to my current ballroom classes I take with Steve and another group of friends. The $10/lesson is worth it to me (and a great deal, I might add).

For the sake of saving room in our suitcases, Steve and I are exchanging Christmas gifts tomorrow night (our only night together before leaving for CA). I'm so excited to see the look on his face when he opens the masterpiece I made for him. I'll let you know how it goes (with pictures).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Soak it Up

In the spirit of giving, I'd like to share another website I fancy: Design*Sponge. It's a website that concentrates on home design in an offbeat, DIY kind of way. One of the sections, "sneak peeks," features pictures of designers' and artists' personal homes. So many of them shop at yard sales, thrift stores, and antique malls to get the look they're going for-- which is what I do and aspire to do more of (another money-related goal of mine). The site also has design guides by city, they suggest the coolest places to shop, along with the tastiest places to eat on the way.

photo from Design*Sponge, obviously


As of today, Design*Sponge will be in my Wothwhile Websites section. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

budget

Because of the nervous breakdown I'm currently having regarding finances, I hurried over to realsimple.com to see what kind of advice they could give. Most of it was the same old stuff I've always lived by (with exceptions in extreme circumstances, of course), except for one little gem that I have to share with everyone: mint.com.

A couple years ago I attempted to sync my banking accounts on Quicken, but the program was old and user-unfriendly. Mint.com is free, easy, and actually a little fun, despite the fact that it alerts me each and every time I go over budget on something (which is really frustrating). It keeps track of my stocks and IRA, my loans, even my PayPal account.

Despite the fact that I keep track of my spending each day, it's nice to have a website that makes pie charts to show you just how much you have to get your dining out spending in check. You can also compare your spending to the national average and people in your area.

So now it's time to set some goals (move out comfortably by the end of the lease, eat healthier...) and make some decisions about my spending and what cuts need to be made. Augh, adulthood.

...all dressed in white

Can I just say that I have had two wedding dreams in the past three weeks?

Well, I have.

It's probably because I read at least three different wedding-related blogs almost daily and I have all these ideas crammed into my head and I just want to put them into action already! Or maybe it's because after attending five weddings this year (and one in spirit)-- not to mention other fancy, catered events, I'm going through withdrawal since the next one isn't until late spring. Who knows?

What's interesting about these two dreams-- and another one I had maybe a year or two ago-- is that the overarching theme (besides a wedding, duh) is some sort of wardrobe malfunction. Two of them, actually, both featured me scrambling to find a dress only hours before the wedding.

Everyone knows I'm super organized and quite a planner, so it's unlikely that I'd be in that situation. But it also seems totally possible that I would somehow find a way to have four different dresses to choose from on the actually day-of and spend my time trying each one on until I was forced to make a decision. What can I say, I like my options!

Do you think these dresses are actually metaphors for my partner?

Eh, neither do I.

Photo credit unknown

Friday, December 12, 2008

What's New

A conversation I had with some students today:
"Miss Nina, I like your earrings! Are they from Hollister?"
"Thank you! I think I got them at Claire's."
"You should shop at Hollister."
"I don't really like Hollister actually...(GASP!)...they're so expensive!"
"Then ask your parents to buy you stuff from there."

Hahahahahaha.

Speaking of expensive things and having no money, EVERYTHING'S TOO EXPENSIVE AND I HAVE NO MONEY!!!

I was working on my budget today and discovered that I have absolutely NO money for "extras" like shopping and meals out (including meals at lunch), and hardly any dough to put into savings. I rounded up on everything without a set price (like gas), so this is worst case scenario, but there really aren't a lot of cuts I'm able to make. And I'm just too tired to work a second job. I wonder how much the majority of my wardrobe would go for on eBay...

So! To cheer me up...TILFT:
-My cookie swap! (It's supposed to be lame.) In a few hours.
-Holiday parties! Two this Sunday, next door and at Steve's bandmate's house.
-Winter break for the school district! It'll be a nice break from teaching.
-CALIFORNIA! I'll actually be home for Christmas this year! And with that...
-Family,
-Food, and
-PRESENTS!!! As usual though, I'm mostly curious about what I'm getting and super excited to give my awesome findings/creations to everyone.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Every day is like Sunday

Bobbie's been blogging up a storm lately, and I've been lazy, lazy, lazy-- blog-wise, at least. I've actually been quite busy in real life, so maybe that's my excuse.

I decorated the house yesterday!!! And by house, I mean living room, since it takes to decorations quite well, and because I don't have enough to decorate much more (which fine-- that means less cleanup). My only complaint: there aren't a lot of presents under the tree! I'm 90% done with my Christmas shopping, but only a few presents are under the tree because I have to take the rest to California with me, and I don't want to risk wrapping them and then being asked to unwrap them at bag check or security. Oh well!

My friend's birthday was yesterday, so there was a drag party held in her honor in the burbs at another friend's house (which was gorgeous). Everyone went all out with their outfits-- especially some of the guys. One wore fishnets, another had full makeup done (he looked beautiful), and they both even painted their nails (pretty well). Drag parties are so much more fun and interesting for guys, you know? There's just so much more involved. For us girls, it was mostly about whose facial hair was best (answer: the birthday girl's, though mine was pretty darn good). Pictures coming soon!

So I've been hopefully, hypothetically looking at apartment listings. I've been wanting it to be just me and Steve for quite some time, but since the blow-out with Rob (early happenings mentioned in a previous post; a nice-sized altercation came of it), I'm really, really, serious about moving out now. Problem is-- scratch that-- problems are:
1) It isn't clear to me that Steve is interested in leaving this situation. He likes having friends right here at home without having to give them a call and arranging to hang out.
2) He has two drum sets. We'd absolutely NEED a second bedroom, which costs more, and obviously narrows down neighborhoods we'd be able to afford.
3) He plays said drum sets. Drums are loud. Neighbors don't like loud. We need a place without really close neighbors (no row homes, no complexes).
4) Moving is difficult and expensive. We'd also need to find someone to take our room and portion of the rent.
5) We really like this house and neighborhood.

I can't say that the difficulties outweigh my desire to move out and be just the two of us. But Steve probably would. We haven't sat down and really talked about it yet, but he knows how I feel. Perhaps I should take him to dinner or something.


Hmm...

Monday, December 1, 2008

dark and stormy

Today was a strange day.

On the train on my way to work, a man violently and mysteriously collapsed only feet away from me. Fortunately, we had a doctor in our car and she was a great help. The man came to, and when he attempted to stand, he fainted again. Our train stayed put until an ambulance came for him. He was 43 years old, and today was his first day at a new job. I really hope that it was a fluke and that he's okay and will be okay. It was just so scary, watching him crash into the train door and slide down the way he did.

Later this morning, my coworker came into work saying that someone had just jumped from the 33rd floor of the Loews Philadelphia hotel, which is just blocks away from my office, and right across the street from my train station. It hasn't been released who he is (if they even know), but everyone's assuming suicide. What a way to go. And at 10am.

Yikes.

To Do (Holiday Edition)

1. Decorate for Christmas (hello metallic green tree!)
2. Buy presents for Steve's dad, Rob, and Gooch
3. Buy cards
4. Write messages in cards (see #3)
5. Mail out cards (see #s 3, 4)
6. Make more money with eBay, Etsy, and writing
7. Determine cookie recipe for upcoming Cookie Swap
8. Wrap presents
9. Donate bags of clothing to Goodwill
10. Bug Steve to try and find out what, if anything (yet), he got me for Christmas