Happy New Year!

2007 Year in Review

Hi, folks!

It's time for my annual Year in Review post - I've used this EXACT survey in 2004, 2005 and 2006...so here I am back with it again. This is typically posted to my blog on MySpace, but in the interest in sharing it more widely this year, it's reposted here for your viewing pleasure!

1. What did you do in 2007 that you'd never done before?

Bought a house! I love my house!

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Um...hmm. I can't actually remember what my New Year's resolutions were for 2007 or if I even actually made any. Haha. So yeah, I kept 'em all. And I challenge you to prove me wrong!

For 2008, in lieu of making New Year's resolutions, I am beginning the 101 in 1001 challenge. To see my goals, read my original blog posting here!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Okay, here we go...
Friends: Kelly had Aidan.

Family: Anne had Zach and Ginny had Hailey.

Work: The wife of my husband's sergeant had TRIPLETS!
Sorry, no pics of those cuties...

4. Did anyone close to you die?
The Colts lost their puppy, Maggie. :-(

5. What countries did you visit?
Canada, twice!

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?

7. What date from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
April 16th - we closed on our house!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Definitely the house. LOVE my house. Have I mentioned that?

9. What was your biggest failure?
Something out of my control.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A bit. If I had a truly healthy year, I'm not sure what I'd do with myself. Graves relapsed, girly issues, arthritis getting worse and worse...but yet, I'm still alive and kicking, so life is good!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
C'mon now. The house. Have we been paying attention at ALL?!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Hmm. Ya know, I'm not really sure. Let's just all give ourselves a round of applause, shall we?

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Hillary Clinton. BOY, does that woman nauseate me.

14. Where did most of your money go?

House. Being a homeowner is definitely expensive, but fun as hell!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My house! Geez, this is truly getting repetitive, isn't it?

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
Hmm...I REALLY love the Rascal Flatts remake of "Life is a Highway". You NEED to add it to your iPod if you don't already have it...check out the link below! :-)

Rascal Flatts - Me and My Gang (Bonus Track) - Life Is a Highway

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? About the same, really. 2007 had high points and low points.
ii. thinner or fatter? Probably a bit thinner.
iii. richer or poorer? POORER! Having a mortgage makes you poor for a long, long time!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Traveled - what good is it working for an airline if you don't travel every opportunity you have?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
This year, we had Chris' dad and stepmom visiting, and for Christmas brunch at our house, we also welcomed Chris' mom, aunt Patti, uncle Don, cousins Anne, Jamie and John, Becka, and baby Zach.

22. Did you fall in love in 2007?
With my HOUSE. Haha. Couldn't resist.

23. How many one-night stands?
Negative, ghostrider.

24. What was your favorite TV program?

Two and a Half Men ROCKS!

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No. I make a strong effort to never hate anybody.

26. What was the best book you read?
Cell, by Stephen King. What a telling book for society...

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

No one new...but I rediscovered just how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Rascal Flatts.

28. What did you want and get?
A beautiful home. I really do feel like I'm repeating myself here!

29. What did you want and not get?

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Eeek...let's see...nothing huge I guess. I liked Wild Hogs and Bourne Ultimatum.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

After considering trips to Florida or California, or camping in East Texas, we narrowed it down...and stayed home to finish laying wood floor on the staircase. (Exciting, I know!) And then on my actual birthday, Chris and I had a sleepover upstairs in our guest bedroom and watched movies and ate popcorn. I turned 27 in 2007.

32.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Can't really say. Some things are just out of your control.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
Haha. "Tiffany casual" = I wear what fits, not what's fashionable. And at my size, I'm finding that not much fits. I've been hunting for a new black blazer for six months. I kid you not. Six months. Do you know that some brands don't even make a size zero anymore?!? And I can't do petites for coats, cause the arms are too short. Sucks.

34. What kept you sane in 2007?
Who says I was actually sane in 2007? I had a few months where I really think I was ready to tip off the deep end. :-) But Christopher kept me level, as always.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Ok, ok. So I have a HUGE political crush on Rudy Giuliani. I can't wait until the primaries get here.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Oh, immigration is still getting my goat. And anytime Hillary opens her mouth, I cringe.

37. Who did you miss?
My daddy.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
My boss, Carlos. He rocks! :-)

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007:
Sometimes even lots of hopes and prayers and wishes don't end up getting you much of anything.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
I'm just going to go for the total repetitiveness this year and go with lyrics from Life is a Highway.

"Life's like a road that you travel on
there's one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind"

Rascal Flatts Lyrics
Life is a Highway Lyrics

Friday Feast #7

Hey, ya'll! Hate to post and run, but I'm posting this on the fly...literally...since I'm out of town. No Linky for you this week, either...it wouldn't be fair, since I won't be able to get around to see anyone. I'm sorry! I'll post better next week!

Name 2 things you would like to accomplish in 2008.
1. Finished novella/longer-length short story "Summer Break" (perhaps retooled as "Winter Break" because part of it is entered in a Christmas Hot Kiss contest)
2. Finished novel "Going Home"
Ok, really, it shouldn't be that hard to finish both...basically, it's just 60,000 words to write over the course of an entire year. I wrote almost half of that just last week, finishing off my large freelancing project. And since I'll be starting to ride the train, plus will have at least 6 hours of plane-time each month, I really have no excuse but to use that time for fiction.

With which cartoon character do you share personality traits?
Garfield. I LOVE Garfield. We share sarcasm, mainly. Although, since I've become a "nice person" (haha!) my husband is usually the only one to hear my sarcasm these days. Nice has a price.

What time of day (or night) were you born?
I was born at either 9:19 or 9:29 AM. My mom SWEARS it's 9:29 AM, but the ankle bracelet I found that the hospital used on me has 9:19 AM on it. I'm sure the hospital must be wrong, since my mom has never been wrong in her life. Hahahahahaha.

Main Course
Tell us something special about your hometown.
My hometown used to be Mountain Home but legally changed its name to Mountainhome like 100 years ago. Despite that, if you enter town from the Cresco side, the sign says Mountainhome, and from the Canadensis side it says Mountain Home. (I might have that backwards...haven't been there in quite awhile.)

If you could receive a letter from anyone in the world, who would you want to get one from?
Rudy Giuliani - and not one of those form letters asking for donations...I want REAL correspondence. He's my political crush. :-) GO RUDY '08!

Hope ya'll have had a great week...I'll be back and posting regularly again soon!

Greetings from Beaumont,

Tiffany (and now I'm off to Galveston for the day...)

Welcome Home...not.

Ok, so I just got home from shopping for my husband's birthday and Christmas, plus dropping my mother-in-law off at her sister's house, plus subsequent shopping for last-minute Christmas stuff, and then, pooped and broke, I headed home. I now have two bitches that I would like to share.

First bitch: my husband's sense of security.

I arrived home just a few minutes ago, and obviously it's already full dark outside. My husband did not leave one single outside light on. But he did, however, set the alarm and lock the place up tighter than Fort Knox.

Now...I don't ever lock the back door to the house, because it's directly across from our detached garage and accessible only from the fenced in backyard. It's simpler to leave it unlocked so when I get home, I can just walk out the side door of the garage and into the back door of the house. No fuss, no muss.

Well...about that. I had three bags o' crap plus my purse, my keys were wadded up in one hand, the other is restricted by my wrist brace, and did I mention that it was full dark? When I got ready to open the back door to the house, I could hear the alarm going off. It has a two minute lead time - you have two minutes from opening any door to the house before it goes off.

So...the clock started when I opened the garage door as I pulled into the driveway. Full dark, hands full, back door locked, can't find the right key, can't jam/turn key in lock with wrist brace on. The full-fledged external alarm kicked in, and boy is THAT thing obnoxious. I'm thinking people can hear it for miles around.

Now, there's still a minute or so lead time after that before the police are called. So I finally got the key in the lock and got my way into my dark house. I go to bed every night before my husband gets home from work and I have not yet failed to leave a light on for him. Think there was a light on in the house for me?

Fumble, fumble for the light switch. DUMP bags on floor. Fling purse. Head for one of the alarm control panels. In trying to punch the code in with the brace-enclosed hand/wrist, I fucked up. Yeah, that's how frustrated I am. F-word time. So that panel froze, which is a security feature - you mess up, too bad.

Headed to another panel (we have three - one in the breakfast room, one at the side (driveway) entry, and one in our bedroom) and FINALLY got the code in right with only a few seconds to spare before the police are called. And by the way, in Fort Worth, every false alarm is like $50.

ARGH. Way frustrated. I understand that we have to be careful and that we have an alarm system for a reason. We have a bunch of guns in the house, not to mention many valuables that we wouldn't want stolen, and I'm alone a vast majority of the time when I'm home. Fine. Security. Great.

But leave a freaking light on, dammit.

Second bitch: my body.

Boy, I walked around two unnamed stores (in case Chris reads this - he doesn't need to know where his presents are from!) for a total of two hours today, which is an eternity in my world, since I hate shopping. In the first, my mother-in-law and I got him somewhat-related birthday presents. (I shared my idea with her since she wasn't sure what to get him.) I also got him part of his Christmas present there. In the second store, I got Christmas stuff for the house (we had no star for the top of our tree!) and stocking stuffers for Chris.

After being on my feet for just two hours, I now have pain *shooting* from my knees and hips. And I'm in sneakers, folks, not exactly uncomfortable shoes. Today, while I was working, I noticed that every time I bent forward from my hips while sitting, they actually creaked. Every single time. This is nuts. It's like the bones are rubbing together.

Now...my hands and wrists are hurting, too, but I can understand that - I've written like 30,000 words of content in the past three days. (NOT an exaggeration. Have I mentioned my SUPER HUGE project?) So hurting hands and wrists I get, especially since I have a history of carpal tunnel problems. Hence why I'm back in my wrist brace.

But hurting that much from just two hours on my feet? Pathetic. I've got to get a doctor to listen to me seriously about this...instead of shoving OTC pain pills down my throat (they don't do anything) or telling me that they can't put me on any prescription pain meds unless I go on birth control as well (BC kinda defeats the purpose of wanting to start a family, wouldn't you say?).

So...that's on the list. Check-up at the endo in January. Luckily, my chest pain has gone away since I've gone back on BP meds (related to thyroid issue) so I don't have to go to the cardiologist. But dammit, I'm going to get my PCP to recommend a rheumatologist to me if it's the last thing I do.

Ok, I'm done bitching for now. Going to go write for a bit and then wrap all of the Christmas/birthday presents for Chris as well as the ones we bought for his mom, dad and step-mom. Plus, something I got for Chris requires assembly (again, not saying, in case he reads this!) so that'll take me time tonight and tomorrow night.

Merry Christmas, ya'll.


Thursday Thirteen #9

As I promised last week, this week's list is dedicated to music...


13. Hark the Herald Angel's Sing
12. Let It Snow!
11. Carol of the Bells
10. Sleigh Ride
9. It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas
8. Adeste Fideles
7. Winter Wonderland
6. We Need a Little Christmas
5. Joy to the World
4. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (Bruuuuuuuuuuuce)
3. The Christmas Song
2. O Holy Night
1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Have a great week and Merry Christmas! I'll be gone most of next week, so I'll catch you with another Thursday Thirteen in 2008!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Christmas Letter

Hi, ya'll!

Since we severely trimmed who will be getting our Christmas letter this year, I thought I'd go ahead and post it online so you could all share in our Christmas greetings.

2007 Aller Christmas Letter

Happy Holidays!


Wonderful Wednesday?

So yesterday was kind of a frustrating day...

...I rushed my butt to work earlier than normal and panicked when I got to my desk 2 minutes after a meeting - across the hall from me basically - was supposed to start. So I dumped my stuff in my office and dashed to the meeting. Guess what? Meeting was cancelled. Last week. The secretary didn't send a cancellation in Outlook, and no one told me it was off. Are you kidding me? Frustrating.

...Went home a bit early (coming in early = leaving early) and instead of spending the hours writing that I wanted to last night, I was in Christmasland. See...we hadn't done our letter yet. Or set up the mail merge for addresses. Or gotten stamps. Or checked to make sure we had enough envelopes. Or ordered Christmas presents for anyone. Gee, ya think we've been busy with OTHER stuff? Frustrating.

...Chris helped out by pre-writing the letter. He did good! My non-writer of a husband put together a pretty decent letter...we only spent about an hour editing it, mostly for little grammar things, and then to get it short enough to fit on one page. So I headed upstairs to check to see how much stationery we had left from our last letter, in 2005...78 sheets. Buying a new pack would mean 150 additional sheets. We didn't want to buy a new pack. So we took our Christmas card list and started slashing. Yikes! We pared it in half, basically. I'm so sorry if you don't get a letter this year. I really am. We'll hit ya next year. All of Chris' first cousins got the ax, parents and relatives living in our general vicinity (sorry, Patti!) are off, all of my second cousins were x-ed off, no coworkers (past or present, other than a few we're pretty close to) are getting letters, APOers will have to read their letter online, and well, little surgical snips were made here and there. Got the list down to 78, from a starting point of nearly 200. Achievement!

...Until the printer started eating paper. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! So our list of 78 became our list of 73. Argh. The first 20 or so letters printed just fine. Then the damn machine got hungry. Then another 20 or so printed just fine. Then it got hungrIER! Fed the last sheets in one by one by one by one... Frustrating.

...Haha...we only had 23 envelopes left. Fabulous. Off to Office Depot. Got a pack of 50. Which makes, if you're counting, the exact right number of envelopes.

...Got a Christmas card from our old neighbor, who we'd left off the list. Damn. She doesn't get a letter. I dug out an old pack of cards. She gets a card. AND SHE WILL LIKE IT.

...Postage? Haha. We have 15 33 cent stamps left from Christmas a few years ago, 9 39 cent stamps left from a couple years ago, 10 41 cent stamps that are actually current, and 15 3 cent stamps that just don't couple with any of the other stamps very nicely. Guess where I'm going at lunchtime today? I'm hoping that since the post office that's across the street from my office is in a purely business area, it isn't as busy as say, every other post office in America this week. Wish me luck.

...The unnamed place where we ordered presents for 19 of the 23 names/couples/familes on our list sucks. I mean really and truly sucks. We basically already knew what we were ordering. Got it all set up. Wouldn't import the address list. Had to add each address individually. Had to pick each delivery date individually. Then...2 hours later...got to the payment screen, and it said that 1 or more of our delivery dates was invalid. Sent us back to Go and we definitely didn't get $200. Didn't tell us which were invalid! Had to go back through the list of 19 one by one by one. Didn't change a single date. Got back to the payment screen. It went through. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!

...Got 2 more presents ordered off another site, and it worked like a dream. Something had to. By then it was almost 1 AM!

...Last 2 presents will be purchased in person. They're the gifts for Chris' mom, and Chris' Dad and step-mom. Have NO IDEA when this will happen, but it must, it must, it must. Perhaps on Saturday after we help Mike and Mellissa move but before my in-laws roll into town. And then there's shopping for Chris' present. Hahaha. Yeah. When!?

So yeah, got the slightest bit of writing done, which means, of course, that I'll be doing nothing BUT writing tonight and tomorrow night since El Huge-O project is due on Friday. In the process of scoping out El Huge-O's second act for January and a far different timeline will be built. My wrist hurts. I guess I'm back to wearing my brace. Dang it.

Today: leaving work about 4 or 4:30...tomorrow, about the same. Friday, considering working from home. When I say that no one will be here, I'm really not exaggerating. Might as well work in my jammies. We'll see.

Hope everyone is having a GREAT week! I cannot WAIT to hand off this project on Friday and then spend the next 9 days being a lazy bum on Christmas break! Besides our trip to Beaumont 12/26-12/29, all that's on tap is relaxing, eating, relaxing some more, perhaps tweaking my Hot Kiss entry some more, relaxing, and being a lazy bum. YAHOO.


An Award!

I am so stinkin' touched! Siani over at Siani's Pot-Pourri just honored me with this award:

Thank you, thank you! This is my first blogging award and I'm so proud to have it! :-)

In the spirit of good blogging karma, I'm going to pass this award along to six bloggers. I really, really, really would like to pass it on to every blogger who comes to see me weekly, whether for regular posts or MeMes, but I'd be here adding links forever - so for now, this is going to 3 special ladies from my writing group and 3 special ladies from the blogosphere. Hugs!

Patti Ann Colt - to highlight the treasure trove of content on her blog/site related to her release The Daddy Spell
Kelly McCrady - to recognize her success with Sweet Cicely
Carrie Lofty - to congratulate her for the release of Sundial
Deb - for always making me laugh at her observations and living in fear of her flying monkeys
Penelope Anne - because Mama Bear is awesome
Bridget - For the oodles of yummy recipes I'm dying to try - thanks for sharing!

Have a great week, ya'll!


Manic Monday #9

I'm back again with this week's Manic Monday - thanks to Lisa for awesome questions as usual!

What is your idea of a perfect romantic evening?
Hmm...starting off with flowers, preferably white roses. Then on to a yummy restaurant for a relaxing meal. Finish off with either a trip to a fun bar or club, or perhaps taking in a movie - time to hold hands! (Ok, so my husband just did this for me last weekend - he's the best!)

Imagine you had to take part in the winter Olympics. What sport would you do?
Haha. I don't do winter. If I absolutely had to, I'd participate in downhill (alpine) skiing. I used to be quite the skier - believe it or not - but I haven't been on skis since I sold mine in '99 to buy books in college. I purchased boots a few years ago intending to also buy new skis and get back into it, but just haven't. Despite my hatred of cold, I actually quite enjoy skiing. It's my opinion that I can find the snow - it doesn't need to find me.

What's something that people do in traffic that really bothers you?
Creep up behind me. As if I have somewhere to go! Back off, dude!

Here's my non-Manic Monday linky - let me know you visited and I'll visit you back. Don't forget to comment! :-)

101 in 1001: Goals

Michael Green of DayZero is the host to an innovative and challenging MeMe: 101 in 1001.

This MeMe challenges the participant to write a list of 101 goals that are "either measurable or clearly defined" as well as "realistic and stretching." After that - it's up to the participant to work like crazy to accomplish their goals.

The goals don't have to be broad or "impossible" in nature - they can be as simple as visiting a particular place or reading a certain book. But they do have to be something where a clear end point can be achieved and thus the goal checked off the master list.

Since I've been working through Margie Lawson's Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors materials and finding my way to a place where I set more achievable and believable goals, I believe that this MeMe is the perfect long-term goal-setting undertaking! With the end of the year just days away, let's call this my New Year's Resolutions (On Steroids).

I encourage all of my readers to participate in this MeMe as well, and have added a Linky to the bottom to you can let me know that you'll be toiling alongside of me through the next 2.75 years. Let's go, folks...we all have things to accomplish, both major and minor, and this can be our first step towards success!

Tiffany's 101 Goals in 1001 Days

Starting Date: January 1, 2008
Ending Date: September 28, 2010
Just in time for my 30th birthday!

It is my goal to visit all 50 United States by the age of 30 - and my 30th birthday is October 8, 2010, just 12 days after the end of my 1001 day challenge - how perfect! There's a few other places/adventures I want to go on besides, so find them here!

001. Visit Alaska
002. Visit Hawaii
003. Visit Oregon
004. Visit Montana July 2009
005. Visit Wyoming
006. Visit North Dakota
007. Visit South Dakota
008. Visit Wisconsin
009. Visit Michigan
010. Go on a Cruise
011. Go (back) to Europe
012. Go (back) to Ocean City, New Jersey
013. Go (back) to Daytona Beach, Florida
014. Go (back) to LA.
015. Go (back) to New England to scope areas to use in The Mommy Letters.

Fictional Writing
I'm so good at starting...and not so good at finishing. Well, dang it, that's gotta change. Here are some goals for the next 1001 days in the realm of writing.

016. Finish Summer Break, a novella-length manuscript
017. Seek e-publication for Summer Break
018. Finish Going Home, a short novel-length manuscript
019. Seek critiques and feedback for Going Home in order to polish
020. Seek agent representation for Going Home
021. Seek print publication for Going Home
022. Finish one of other three novel-length manuscripts (TBD which one)
023. Continue to write and submit short stories to contests
024. Provide critiques for MS through the ORWC as often as possible In Progress

Freelance Writing
It's treated me well so far...here are my goals going forward!

025. Establish regular client list to provide regular workload 2008-2011 and Beyond
026. Attain an average (3+ consecutive months) writing salary of $2500 per month 2008
027. Seek print (mag) publication for an in-depth article on Grave's Disease
028. Seek print (mag) publication with queries at least once every six month period
029. Maintain regular participation in blogs as well as paid blogging opportunities
030. Grow AC readership through social networking to a level 10

This is not to say that my fictional and freelance writing is not professional. This category simply pertains to my full-time career in Human Resources at American Airlines.

031. Attain PHR certification Passed 1/20/2008

032. Attain PMP certification Passed October 2009
033. Attain LSGB certification Project Stage Completion March 2010
034. Attend CARE team training
035. Attend JBEC/JCT training Attended 2/26-27/2008

036. Seek field work opportunities
037. Revamp Internal Consultant program Project Stage Completion March 2010
038. Apply to MSHRM program
039. Begin MSHRM program
040. Promote to a Level 3 March 2010
041. Promote to a Level 4

Music has always been an instrumental part of my life - I'm sure you'll allow me the pun.

042. Finish writing lyrics to hymn
043. Finish writing music to hymn
044. Submit hymn for performance consideration by WCUMC
045. Re-join WCUMC Choir
046. Re-join WCUMC Orchestra
047. Find at least one opportunity to "play for pay" on violin
048. Find at least one opportunity to "play for pay" on piano
049. Move great-grandmother's player piano to Texas
050. Restore great-grandfather-in-law's violin (or was it GGMIL?)

I love nothing more than to research just about anything - but I do have a few goals foremost on my mind.

051. Add Gary's Fredericksen family tree information to my master family tree Added Feb. 2008

052. Gather/document sources for Carpenter family tree to allow myself and my mother to join the DAR (I know we qualify - I just haven't finished doc'ing yet)
053. Research paternal grandparents' immigration to America
054. Research names of paternal great-grandparents (how sad that I have no idea of their names - at all!)

Oh boy...as new homeowners (as of 4/07) we still have lots to do!

055. Tile front entryway May 2010
056. Replace spigot in master bathtub (the swan is creepy...and dangerous!)
057. Plaster stairwell walls
058. Tile upstairs bathroomsFinished late July 2008

059. Lay hardwood in lighthouse bedroomFinished July 12, 2008

060. Lay hardwood in officeFinished June, 2008...and it's a nursery now!

061. Lay hardwood in back bedroomFinished June 2008

062. Buy/install double oven to replace current oven/microwave built-inInstalled November 2008

063. Replace trash compactor June 2010
064. Replace dishwasherInstalled November 2008

065. Replace all linoleum with C-tile June 2010
066. Add new breaker box to prevent future blowouts
067. Replace all windows In Progress
068. Eradicate all weeds in English GardenFinished 3/13/2008

069. Replant English Garden to contain year-round blooms
070. Have plans drawn for 2nd-floor gameroom/office combination
071. Have plans drawn for over-garage apartment
072. Install permanent front-lawn lighting
073. Move nursery furniture and other items from PA to TXArrived late June, 2008...see details here

074. Fill lower side yard to level with driveway
075. Expand driveway onto portion of the reclaimed side yard to equal a space twice as wide
076. Plant border hedges on remaining portion of side yard

My goodness...some of these goals cost major bank. How will we pay for it all? These goals only pertain to my input to the household salary...but do know that I support my hubby fully in his own future employment/financial/off-duty work and goals. He rocks!

077. Attain full-time salary equivalent to pre-AA pay (see #40)
078. Attain freelancing salary equivalent to full-time entry-level job pay (see #26)
079. Attain 15k lifetime sales with Pampered Chef
080. Pay off all medical debt
081. Pay off all credit card debt
082. Pay off all school loans
083. Build savings account with the equivalent of one year's full-time salary (as in both of us contribute but the savings level only has to equal one of our salaries, not both)
084. Pay for all home improvements out of pocket instead of on credit Ongoing!
085. Pay for post-grad education out of pocket instead of with student loans

Marriage and Family
Hum the theme song to Married With Children as you read this section!

086. Celebrate 2nd anniversary (May 6, 2008)Celebrated 5/6/2008

087. Celebrate 3rd anniversary (May 6, 2009) Celebrated 5/6/2009

088. Celebrate 4th anniversary (May 6, 2010) Celebrated 5/6/2010
089. Accompany hubby to spring break ('08, '09, or '10)
090. Take ACTUAL family vacation, instead of vacation to see family
091. Help Mom sell house and move to more affordable quarters (this is like 1,000,000 goals in one, really...you can't imagine the undertaking this will be)
092. Visit Florida relatives
093. Visit California relatives Does seeing them in TX or ID count?
094. Visit Washington/Idaho relatives Multiple Times
095. Visit Pennsylvania relatives Multiple Times
096. Bring niece and nephew to Texas for the summer ('08, '09 and/or '10)Our niece spent the month of July with us in 2008 - and worked her butt off helping get things done pre-baby. Love you, Julia!

097. Start a family! Born October 9, 2008!

098. Grow the started family! (2 kids by 30 has always been my desire/goal...and so the crunch is on!) Born July 19, 2010 - 2.5 months before my 30th birthday!

Health and Well-Being
Last, but most certainly not least...

099. Seek long-term treatment for joint pain Ongoing
100. Maintain control over thyroid/BP through medication and monitoring Ongoing
101. Live...Laugh...Love...and HAVE FUN! Ongoing!  And Always!

Ok...now it's your turn!


I should be writing tonight: I have major work to do on a freelancing project, and I really would like to make progress on one of my WIPs. But after more than three hours on the phone with my mother during various times today, my brain is shot. Just shot. I sometimes fail to understand how we are related. And I always fail to understand how she can be so nice to me in one breath and so viciously mean and self-serving in the next.

So...in order to distract myself and still feel like I'm doing something meaningful, I am going to participate in the 101 in 1001 MeMe: it's a list of 101 things to accomplish in 1001 days. Talk about...ambitious!

Milestone for today: my mother heard me utter the F-word for the first time ever today - I'm 27 years old and I would never have dreamed to say such a thing in front of her before, but her pity party was just simply too much to bear and I had to strike back and remind her that the rest of us have problems too. Sometimes big ones. Sometimes heartbreaking ones. Sometimes ones that challenge our souls. And yet the rest of us still go on with life. I think she was shocked. She certainly changed the subject and ended the phone call quickly afterwards. Of course...she then called back...twice. Three hours, people. OMG.

Happy moment for today: celebrating Kristen's graduation from law school at our house this afternoon. Ya, Kris! You rock, girl! (Now, since probate is your "thing"...after you pass the bar, wanna write our wills/trusts/medical directives? Can I even afford you?!)

Sad moment for today: physically, the rehab surgeon is under the impression that my dad will be well enough to end treatment for his broken hip and subsequent surgery on December 21st. That should be a happy thought. It isn't. Mentally, the social worker who has been consulting on this case (my mom was being investigated after Dad was brought home by the police a total of six times after he'd wandered away in a daze...a few times when she didn't even know he was gone) is recommending that he stay in the nursing home indefinitely due to his mental state with the Alzheimer's. UCK. UCK. BIGGER UCK. The better news side is that Medicare/Medicaid should continue to cover 100% for the forseeable future. However, I do not want my father in a nursing home any longer than necessary. Period. So I think I'm going to continue to let this play out for another couple months and then put my foot down. I agree that staying a bit longer is probably for the best...but for the long term? No. Hell no.

So...on to my MeMe! Please continue to keep my Dad in your prayers.


Friday Feast #6

Yahoo! I'm actually up in a timely manner today!

Join the madness here!

Make up a word and give us its definition.
Blwonk - when writer's block makes your head wonky.

What is currently your favorite song?
I have to admit that the Rascal Flatt's remake of Life is a Highway makes me feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy.

What’s at the top of your Christmas wish list this year?
Hmmm...GREAT question. It's nothing you can buy...

Main Course
Name a scent that reminds you of someone special in your life.
I have no idea how to answer this. My history of severe allergies coupled with my history of severe migraines makes me avoid most scents - anything beyond light and airy just makes my head want to fall off.

Who is someone on television that you feel probably shouldn’t be, and why?
Let's see...I'm going to pick...Ellen DeGeneres. I really feel her show adds no value to, well, anything.

Have a great weekend, ya'll!


Thursday Thirteen #8

Hi, everyone!

I'm sorry it's so late in the day and I'm just now posting...yesterday and today were travel days for me, and by the time I got back to the airport this afternoon, I was just about awake enough to take a nap! :-) So I did!

Now, after a couple hours of cleaning and getting a bite to eat, I'm settling in to pay some attention to my poor blog and catch up on some freelancing - PLUS type in my handwritten notes for a short story that I started writing for the ORWCircle Hot Kiss Contest! :-)

I really struggled on what to write about for TT this week - I considered and discarded writing about 13 Things I've Done This Week, 13 Things I Want For Christmas, and various other banalities.

Instead, I decided to be COMPLETELY unoriginal and visit the forum at ThursdayThirteen.com and the "steal this idea" board...and so, I present...


1. Murphy Brown - who doesn't love Candice Bergen?
2. Mr. Sterling - this was released by NBC after Providence ended - and with only 9 episodes broadcast, they never really gave it a damn chance to succeed. Argh.
3. Book of Daniel - This got a lot of criticism for being heretical and other nonsense like that, but it was a good show. 7 episodes = NBC sucks.
4. Everybody Loves Raymond - OMG, so funny.
5. The Nanny - Thank God for Lifetime Network - it caught me up on every single episode of this show and it's just fun all the way around. I HATE Fran's voice, but love the show.
6. Walker, Texas Ranger - There's a reason one of my WIPs focuses on Walker...mmm. Chuck Norris = hot older man fantasy.
7. Sisters - Nightime soap, basically, but boy did I get caught up in the lives of these women!
8. Providence - it started when I was dating Mark and we watched this show together EVERY WEEK - and my obsession outlasted that relationship and continued to the very end. Oh, Dr. Sid - I miss you!
9. The Nine - I really didn't want to like this show...but yet I did. ABC was really rotten to promise to air the remaining episodes and then even screw around with that...ABC still owes us FOUR episodes, dammit. Put this out on DVD now - I am freaking DYING to know what happens next.
10. Reba - good clean fun on TV. One of the only examples I can think of for a singer who actually can act!
11. Picket Fences - You go get 'em, Sheriff! (Just as soon you're done training Tom in Top Gun, that is - hahaha!)
12. Will and Grace - One of my favorite shows ever...I kind of fancy my BF Erin and I as a variation of Grace and Karen. HAHA!
13. Jericho - I CANNOT wait until the new episodes come out. And yes, I was one of the ones who sent NUTS!

And yes, these were all Network shows - I have cable almost primarily to watch movies and re-runs...I care not about the insipid "original" shows produced by HBO, TNT, TBS, etc. (Yes, Reba is the exception...) I think I'd be ok to go back to the UHF/VHF TV that sat in our kitchen growing up...3 channels plus PBS. Who needs more?

For a fairly comprehensive list of cancelled or ended TV shows, go to TVHell - what an awesome resource!

What are your favorites that you're missing? Leave yours in your comment!

By the way, I have already thought of next week's topic: 13 Favorite Christmas Songs in the Readers Digest Christmas Book - which I FINALLY OWN MY OWN COPY OF, HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN.

It's funny...my Mom has one from the first year they were put out...and she WILL NOT let me have it, despite the fact that I play piano, and she hasn't in at least 20 years...but my mother-in-law misunderstood why I wanted one of my own and was so happy to find one last weekend and asked me if I was so happy (after playing the book pretty much from start to end) because it reminded me of my Mom. Uh, no. When I think of happy Christmas memories, my Mom isn't exactly my first thought...she's a Humbug. Now...having one of these special music books for myself - happiness, happiness, happiness. I'd suggest everyone avoid my house for the next month...I won't get off my playing kick for awhile.

Anyhow, happy Thursday to you all!


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Manic Monday #8

Hi, everyone!

Yes, I totally missed Thursday Thirteen and Friday's Feast last week - my apologies! I had an EXTREMELY hectic week in both the professional and freelance arenas of my life, so my poor blog suffered a hit.

Another hectic week coming...I have a large freelancing project due the end of next week that'll keep me extremely busy, plus a two-day work trip to San Jose on Wednesday and Thursday, plus a Christmas party and Kristen's graduation on Friday, plus Kristen's graduation party (at our house) on Saturday...geez, I'm tired already!

Thanks to Lisa for this week's question - and thanks, also, for the clarification that the auto-link for Manic Monday isn't for her MeMe, but another...so this week, I'm using the generic linky - please put your info in it and leave me a comment to - I love my visitors!

And with that...this week's questions!

For the holidays, are you a last-minute shopper or do you shop well ahead of time?
It actually depends who I'm shopping for...for the folks who live far away, we shop ahead of time so we can get presents shipped. But for people nearby...sometimes pretty last minute.

If you had to pick a new first name for yourself, what name would you choose?
GREAT question. I have no flipping clue. Let me think. Thinking. Thinking. Hmm...probably Elizabeth, my confirmation name. I like Elizabeth and all variations thereof.

What's worse,having expectations that are too high, or having no expectations at all?
Having no expectations at all would be worse - that'd mean that you're either apathetic or the ultimate pessimist.

Have a great week, ya'll! I'll try my best to be back for TT and FF!


What's Your Life Path Number?

Your Life Path Number is 9

Your purpose in life is to make the world better

You are very socially conscious and a total idealist.

You think there are many things wrong with the world, and you want to fix them.

You have a big idea of how the world could be, and you'll sacrifice almost anything to work towards this dream.

In love, you can easily see the beauty in someone else. And you never cling too tightly.

You are capable of great love, but it's hard for you to focus your love on one person or relationship.

You have a lot of outward focus, and you tend to blame the world for your failures.

You are often disappointed by the realities of life - it's hard for you to accept the shortcomings of the world.

Ok...scarily enough, this describes me to a T. Go take it and comment back to me what you find out about yourselves!

What are YOU Getting for Christmas?

Your Christmas Stocking Will Be Filled With Little Wrapped Presents

You've made Santa a very happy fellow this year.
Don't worry - what happens at the North Pole stays at the North Pole!

Thursday Thirteen #7

I'm late! I'm late!

Boy, what a busy day it's been. We have major meetings at the office tomorrow, and so today was scramble day to make sure we were ready. Busy is good, but Tiffie is definitely tired tonight!

I'm so proud of myself, though! I've accomplished writing THREE DAYS IN A ROW towards my manuscript, Going Home. To me, that's fabulous. It's just baby steps, but it's a big deal to me.

Busy on the freelancing side as well...I've had some fairly steady work for awhile now, but I've also had the opportunity to land a fairly large gig that will last for the next month or so...and that I'm able to share with a gal from the Circle, so we'll both have some extra cash for Christmas. YAHOO! Keeping my fingers crossed that this goes well...it could mean steady work for some time to come if we gain more projects from this client, who is an absolute dream to work for.

Anyways, on to today's main attraction...


1. Cell - what a look at how controlled we are by technology
2. Carrie - King's classic, still tells the story of HS cruelty
3. The Long Walk - when there is no hope...you take a walk
4. The Running Man - the Schwartzenegger movie kills this excellent book on desperation
5. The Stand - I always avoided this novel because of it's length, but it's now one of my favorites
6. Breathing Method - this short story is downright eerie
7. The Dark Half - his other half, come to life - hilarious when thought about in the framework of King vs. Bachman
8. The Langoliers - the short story behind the creepy movie - as always, the written word is better than the spoken
9. Rose Madder - a book for strong women everywhere - King writes just as well from a women's perspective as from a man's
10. Needful Things - the store in this story is basically Wal-Mart in my mind - souless and evil, but you just gotta shop there
11. From a Buick 8 - I read this book when I was going through a hard time mentally, and it really helped
12. Dolores Claiborne - another strong lady you can't help but love
13. Firestarter - Love it! My most read "King" book!

Since I'm so late, no linky this week. Still love ya'll anyways!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Green Hanukkah Burns Out

(Post Transferred from my formerly stand-alone blog, Tiffany Takes On.)

A group of what are being called "environmentalist Israelis" is urging faithful Jews to burn one less candle in their menorah this year during Hanukkah.


Because by burning one less candle, each household will save the environment from 15 grams of carbon dioxide.

Oh, puhleeze.

I've had it up to my fanny and beyond with environmentalists. (Wait until I post about global warming...just wait. I have to be super wound up to even tackle that debacle, but when I'm ready...I'm just going to spew forth.)

The enviro-nuts can apparently do (new) math, because they added up 15 grams of CO2 and multiplied that by millions of Jewish households and came to the conclusion that the best thing that could happen would be breaking a centuries old Jewish tradition that is as well known as the holiday for which it is used.

I'm sorry. 15 grams from a candle? One candle saving the environment? It's too bad that Moses broke the stone tablets with the 10 Commandments, because I sure wish they were around to break over the heads of these nutballs today.

Do you have any idea how much CO2 is emitted from the exhaust system of a car - or the buses that are so famous in Jerusalem? How about how much CO2 is emitted from the factories throughout the world? Or, to "go there", how much CO2 is emitted (as comedian Ron White would gleefully ask) within a cow's flatulence?

Listen, folks. There are many ways that we can "clean up our act" to be nicer to the environment and Mother Nature. And we definitely have to start somewhere, or this tired earth will be a miserable place in the generations that follow our own.

But lighting one less candle in a menorah for Hanukkah? Go away. Far, far away. That just goes to levels that are ridiculous to comprehend.

I wonder when the first Catholic or Protestant enviro-nut will pop up to advocate lighting one less candle for Advent?

Read more here: Green Hanukkah Sparks Criticism

A special "thank you" to my husband, Christopher, for bringing this travesty to my attention so that I could write it up here at Tiffany Takes On.
(No Comments Transferred; original posting date 12/05/07, 8:21 PM.)

Oh, what a day...

From the alarm going off at 4 AM (mind you, I didn't stop working on writing last night until 1 AM) to finally getting home at nearly 7 PM, I had a busy non-stop day.

What did Tiffany do on her Traveling Tuesday?

Oy. Left the house at 5:15; parked at the Parking Spot and froze my patootie off while waiting for the van driver to come get me. (Sadistic bitch won't drive towards you until you're out of your car...and then takes his time.) Got to the airport...hurry up and wait. And wait.

Yep, we were delayed. The pilot reported a lightbulb out to maintenance and maintenance found that the whole socket was bad...so...they fixed it. Could the dang plane not fly with one lightbulb not able to light?!

Flew to St. Louis. Spent a total of 1 minute and 30 seconds at STL...the time it took to sprint from C10 to C5 and get on my next plane to MSP. I was the second-to-last on.

Then bumpity, bumpity all the way to Minnesota...where it was snowing like crazy. Buckets full. Argh.

Good news is that even though I was running late (correction: pilot was running late) the team held the meeting for me, so we didn't start until I got there. Yay! I love the MSP JLT!

Lunch, browsing through the mini-Mall of America that's onsite at MSP, denied upgrade to first (as usual)...and then wait some more. Did I mention that it was snowing like crazy? I was honestly quite sure that I wasn't getting out of MSP today.

We ended up boarding about an hour late, and then it was time for the plow and de-icing. De-iced twice, watched the plow drive around ineffectively...consider we taxied down a runway that had 4-6 inches of pack snow on it!

Bumpity, bumpity all the way home. Man, that turbulance was bad. I was in a cold sweat for a lot of the ride home.

Good news is that I got about 1700 words knocked out today for my Going Home MS. Yahoo! Haven't typed it in yet, that's a hand-written guesstimate of number of words.

Odd news is that I think this is the first time that I've been on three different planes on the same day.

VERY glad to be home. TIME FOR BED!

Manic Monday #7

It's that time again...this is my 7th edition of Manic Monday, thanks to the creative mind of Lisa!

What's the longest you've ever waited in line?
I'm trying to think...this is a hard question! I think that last Christmas at Garden Ridge was probably the worst...I think we were in line for like an hour. If I thought harder, I'm sure I could come up with a time I've waited longer (NYC at Christmastime comes to mind), but that's all I've got for now! (It's 4 AM, folks. Leave me alone!)

It's been said that, "The best things in life are free." Do you think this is true? Why or why not?
Hell no. I think this is the most bogus statement ever. When you pay for something - through money or effort - you're not only acquiring it, you're also investing in its value. For instance, I firmly believe that people who pay for their own college education value it more highly than do people whose parents pay their way. Another example: marriage. A good marriage isn't something that comes from two people choosing to merely live together. Through mutual and daily effort, couples pay for the happiness they achieve.

I prefer the saying that goes "there's no such thing as a free lunch."

If you could go back in time and re-live one day in your life, which day would you choose and why?
Oh, this is an easy one. I would go back to the day where I was fortunate enough to attend an all-day racing school at Pocono International Raceway, where I first had classroom training, then got to drive my personal vehicle on the track at around 90 MPH for 50 or so laps (us students were drying the track after a down pour) and then finally got to drive in a stock car at speeds greater than 170 MPH for 100 laps. There is nothing - nothing - on this earth that I have found to be more exhilerating or fulfilling than that experience. And I would give my right arm to repeat it on a regular basis, but alas - when you're no longer dating a former racer who is friends with the racing school's owner, it's kinda too pricey to pursue! :-)

Have a great week, ya'll!

Write...Full Time?

I began "seriously" freelancing about two years ago, in January 2006. At the time, I was simply looking to make a few extra dollars to put towards my wedding. Before that, I'd written "on and off" when someone I knew specifically asked me for help...over a 4 year span of time, this "on and off" writing probably netted about $2000 for my bank account - not exactly riches, but money I would not have had otherwise. Did writing for wedding money work out? Yes, big time. Writing also put a huge chunk of change towards the down payment on our house. And it helps to equalize my income in comparison towards my husband since I took a pretty big pay cut when I left the healthcare industry for the airline industry, putting us on unequal footing, which I found (and still find) to be unacceptable.

Throughout the past two years, I've toyed with the idea, more than once, of writing full-time. On an hour-by-hour basis, I have the ability to make more in an hour's worth of writing than in an hour at my full-time (salaried, not hourly) job - whether before or after pay cut. And more people than I can count have asked me why I haven't yet done that.

So this evening, I thought I'd write a bit on why I'm not yet ready to write for a living.

1. Stability - I'm a pretty big freak about stability. It took a lot of convincing on my husband's part to leave my well-paying but frustrating and unrewarding job in healthcare and go to AA for so much less compensation, even though AA has always been my dream company to work for. The instability of not having the income level I'd enjoyed since my very first post-college job just drove me insane. Freelance writers face a lot of instability - where the next project will come from, slow-downs that occur seasonally, clients who never pay up, etc.

2. Stir-craziness - When I was laid off about four years ago, I had enough money from severance and stock pay-outs and savings to not have to go back to work for at least six months, assuming I lived somewhat frugally...and so I spent the first three months be-bopping around the country to see my parents and friends and at-the-time boyfriend and helping another friend move to Texas and whatnot. But then, when I got back to my home and realized that I didn't have a whole lot to fill my time (although I got a TON of genealogy research done during that period!) I went stir-crazy. True, I didn't need to go back to work quite yet (and truthfully, didn't want to, until I figured out exactly what it was I wanted to do), but I had to go back to work to keep from losing my mind. Sit in my house all day? No thank you, very much! I'm afraid that if I was home all day every day writing, I'd gnaw off my foot.

3. Debt - Right now, it's awfully damn helpful to have a fulltime AND a freelance income, so that I can help our household get to a point where all non-mortgage debt (education, medical, credit cards, etc.) is paid off. I hate owing anything to anybody, and so this is an imperative for me. We've been living on a strict budget for two years now, and while we've paid off a tremendous amount of money, we still have a ways to go.

Having said all of that, it's still one of my goals to someday spend my days doing nothing but writing. So...what would turn the tables for me and enable me to decide to do it full time?

1. Debt - With the amount remaining to be paid off, it looks like it'll take us about another two years to finish paying everything off. Credit card and medical debt is already pretty low, but the dang school loans (um, law school wasn't cheap, even though I only went for a year!) are still fairly high. If I could spend these next two years, alongside my husband of course!, paying off the remainder of our debt, I'd feel more comfortable in deciding to write full-time.

2. Income - Looking at household budgeting and what money we would need each month for our individual needs as well as household expenses, I would feel comfortable leaving my full-time job and writing full-time if I could line up enough steady freelancing gigs (blogging, content, whatever) to guarantee a monthly income of no less than $2500 after taxes. Since freelancers are subject to self-employment taxes on top of "regular" income taxes, that would mean gross billings of about $3500 per month. I've actually achieved that level about 3 different times over the past two years, but my monthly average is typically only 1/3 of that...I do know, however, that if I wrote full-time, I could probably achieve that easily...but I want the "guarantee" of knowing that the gigs I already have would equal that, and anything "extra" would be purely extra: i.e. magazine articles, one-off projects, Pampered Chef, speech and debate judging, AdSense, etc.

3. Routine - In order to survive as a work-at-home writer, I would need a routine that got me out of the house at least several days per week. I go stir crazy otherwise. Whether that's the women's group at my church or a book club or coffee clache or whatever...I would need a definite routine to get out and have contact with others. That's one of the things I value most about working outside of the home currently...human contact. I'd be a sucky hermit.

4. Kiddos - Although I have no problem with the idea of daycare, I do like the idea of one or the other of us being at home with kiddos throughout their first few years of life. Right now, wouldn't be a problem - we work opposing shifts. But that may not always be the case and so if I wrote from home, it would be more easily accomplished. That's a theoretical at this point, however. Who knows when kiddos will decide to show up - we're open to just about anytime except the weekends of Daytona or the races at Pocono or TMS, hahahaha! But joking aside, this isn't something to plan/count on because it's not like we can plan when our family might grow...that's in God's hands, not ours. But when and if munchkins show up, it would be a definite incentive to write full-time from home!

So there you have it...it'll be interesting to see what the next few years will bring and if I ever make the full-time leap from my comfortable corporate cube to the wonderful world of writing.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!