October 11, 2017

The fun we had: Summer 2017

What I read

As promised, I treated myself to some Terry Pratchett this summer because I needed guaranteed funny – and no stress – and that’s where I can find it. There’s nothing I can say about my enjoyment of these books that quotes won’t say better so I’m sharing a few of my favorite passages. I know humor is subjective but I think this level of funny is recognizable in other authors, right? If you have favorite solidly funny authors, please recommend them! 

Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett

“It was a rich and wonderful voice, with every diphthong gliding beautifully into place. It was a golden brown voice. If the Creator of the multiverse had a voice, it was a voice such as this. If it had a drawback, it was that it wasn’t a voice you could use, for example, for ordering coal. Coal ordered by this voice would become diamonds.”

““You!” she shouted. “You’re dead!” The luckless former corpse, who was eating a ham sandwich to calm his nerves, fell backward off his stool.” 

“Back down on the plains, if you kicked people they kicked back. Up here, when you kicked people they moved away and just waited patiently for your leg to fall off. How could a king go down in history ruling a people like that? You couldn’t oppress them any more than you could oppress a mattress.”

Lords and Ladies, Terry Pratchett

“Besides, Verence would rather cut his own leg off than put a witch in prison, since it’d save trouble in the long run and probably be less painful.”

“There are no delusions for the dead. Dying is like waking up after a really good party, when you have one or two seconds of innocent freedom before you recollect all the things you did last night which seemed so logical and hilarious at the time, and then you remember the really amazing thing you did with a lampshade and two balloons, which had them in stitches, and now you realize you’re going to have to look a lot of people in the eye today and you’re sober now and so are they but you can both remember.”

P.S. from Paris, Marc Levy

Reminiscent of Notting Hill, I enjoyed this a lot more than I expect but it wasn’t good enough to want to reread it. That happens with about 15% of the books I read, and I’m not sure what it means about the books or me.

The Designer, Marius Gabriel

This was an Amazon Prime – Kindle First book. There seems to be a trend to World War II reading right now and it’s both beguiling and depressing. It was a fast read, and interesting but not a candidate for rereading either.

Children’s Section

We read with JB every night and some books are worth highlighting here.

Nearly 200 pages long, The Adventures of the Princess and Mr Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below has become a part of JB’s rotation. It’s well paced but still, I wouldn’t have thought an under-3 would be ready for it. I’d like to add The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed to our collection sometime.

Where we went

San Diego, naturally! Thankfully the weather was much more mild this year. We’ll never forget the freezing cold winter suffered a few years ago, or the blistering hot SDCC of last year, and are always grateful when San Diego is the perfectly mild 71 degrees we expect.

A weekend in Monterey Bay – We’ve been paying for an annual subscription to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for a few years but usually fail to make it there more than once a year, if that much.

Local parks – We found a fantastic dog friendly park for kids with the newfangled squishy bouncy flooring type stuff and great big climbing domes. Seamus was thrilled with all the grass to sniff and roll in, and all the dogs to meet. JB was over the moon about the additional water feature that would spout fountains of water every five minutes.

:: I’m surprised and grateful we had any fun in this summer of work. What was the highlight of your summer?

October 2, 2017

Net Worth & Life Report: September 2017

Money & Life Report: September 2017

On Money


Our normal income comes from two full time day jobs.

We experiment with earning money on the side, including minimal cash flow that we don’t touch from an investment property and investing in dividend stocks.

Some side income comes from Swagbucks, selling clothes on Poshmark which is hit or miss, and Achievemint (my introduction to it). Any purchases you make going through my Amazon links keep these blog lights on.

The long term goal is to replace our day job income before my health declines enough to prevent me from working.

***   ***   ***

Poshmark sale! I thought the shop was on vacation, and it was, but it came out of vacation mode before I was ready. My first inkling of this was the sale of a belt that’s been listed for MONTHS. $5 in my pocket is more satisfaction on principle than anything, but satisfaction it is, nonetheless.

A second, also tiny, sale came in the week after so that’s lovely.

I have the sneaking suspicion that whatever I speculate here has a better than zero chance of happening so, universe, listen up: let’s find buyers who won’t haggle too much over the cost of all the dresses that I’ve listed and make at least five sales per month starting… NOW!

Cash cash cash! We closed! We are no longer the nervous owners of two Bay Area properties, just the relieved owners of one, and with that, we have money in the bank. Whew.


Our normal spending includes the living expenses for two households so this update ignores those ordinary living expenses. When buying anything online, I always check Mr. Rebates and Ebates for cashback.

Rental trucks and movers. I got quotes from movers for the bulk of our furniture and it was astounding! Is it normal to take 4-9 hours to move ten pieces of furniture? If it really would take that long, and I can’t imagine how or why, that would cost us $1500 for a single day of work. *blanch* 

Comcast got a bad rap from me last month – deservedly so – but the one nice thing that’s happened with the move is that they count the move as a new service address and that means we are eligible for new customer discounts again! Back to 100 Mbps of internet for $40 a month instead of $70! WOO!

Birthday celebré! If I knew that the rest of the month was going to be this expensive, I probably would have skipped my birthday dinner. But we splurged on a $60 dinner of Korean food and had some friends over for a relaxing dinner at home.

Mortifying and expensive mistakes. We each got one of these.

PiC got a speeding ticket ($400) when we were on our way out of town and it’s going to cost nearly $500 for him to do traffic school since it’s too far and too expensive for him to show up in court to request a reduced ticket.

I missed a payment on a churner credit card. I got the late fee waived but the interest will still cost $16. It’s incredibly annoying but at least we got 30,000 bonus miles at the end so my mistake is covered.

Just expensive. We’ve had some challenges with JuggerBaby that are prompting some speech therapy evaluations. The first person we met with, and liked, would see zir twice a week at $90 a pop. Our insurance only covers in-HMO services which I’m usually fine with but in this case, while we will get evaluated there as well since it’s part of our benefits, I’d like to work with the first person as well and that’s going to be entirely out of pocket. $800 a month. Whoooooosh.

Car repairs. It has been our month for getting the good ole 1-2 punch in the wallet. Car 2 was due for maintenance so PiC took half a day to take care of that and a weird belt malfunction. He was literally on his way home when the handling got weirdly rough in a way we both recognize – the dang coils must be bad. Even with our friends and family discount, the total bill was a painful $800. What is it with us and $800 this month??

Charity. Now that we have money again, and terrible things are still happening in the world (on a global scale: Harvey, Irma, Maria), we’re doing what we can, a little at a time. We have to replenish all our coffers but we can donate in $20 increments while money remains tight.

Saving and investing

We max out a 401(k) and IRA every year. We normally save 20% of cash of our net salaries but that’s on hold while we get ourselves sorted out.

Renovations are winding down and that means SAVINGS. It means that we can stop paying double mortgages, double gas, electricity, water, and trash bills. Oh my gosh, I have been looking forward to this day so much.

Replacing old stuff – free. While packing up our place, our sinfully luxurious rug pad fell apart in horrible multicolor gobs of fluff. SAD. It was the only thing that allowed my old bones to lay on the floor and trim Seamus’s nails. But I called up our carpet people to see if they’d give me a better price on padding than Home Depot would, and they did me one better. We scored a huge roll of padding for the great low price of Come pick it up!

Credit card churning

I got reorganized and back on the card churning wagon two years ago, wow. Last August, I decided to commit to just earning points and miles well ahead of planning any trips because doing it the other way around was not working for me. This is meant to pay for at least one domestic and one international vacation. Our current balances are:

Alaska miles: 146,002
Chase Ultimate rewards: 198,498
Starpoints: 127,906

Our net worth: down. A lot.

It could be a lot worse, though. We should be well over a 25% increase by now, but to be honest, with the “upgraded” home, I suspected that we were going to actually drop below our total NW from the end of last year. It looks like we may come out of this purchase, sale, and payment of debts cycle with a 4% increase of our net worth since January. We lost a lot of ground over the year. Trying to look on the bright side, I still have a couple of months to repair the damage before closing the books on 2017!

Links from this month

On Health

The relief of winding up the renovations, buying, and selling, and all of the attendant worries, has been palpable. I knew the stress was getting right into my marrow but I didn’t expect to feel resolution so soon. Some of the excess fatigue has lifted, about 50%, as has the intensified pain. I’ve had more than one less-bad day and while I don’t actually feel good, it’s marvelous to have that much improvement.

On Life

Scam Alert! Did you know that scammers will spoof caller ID by picking an area code, a prefix, and any random four numbers to robo-dial all numbers that have the same area code and prefix to get you to pick up? The logic is that you’re more likely to pick up a number that is so close to your own.

I screen calls anyway but these jokers started trying this scam on me several months ago and even used the same spoofed number for months. Handily, and it’s one of the few things I like about the iPhone, “block this number” is a built in feature so I just block each new number they spoof.

Lest you think I’m ignoring an important call, rest assured. They have never left a message.

Free birthday cake! I’m signed up for emails from Nothing Bundt Cake and I picked up my free birthday bundtlet to make up for the lousy birthday weekend that I’m in no hurry to repeat. I don’t have an issue with aging, but 95% of my birthday weekend was bad bad bad: seemingly endless toddler tantrums, wetting the bed accidents in the middle of the night, spats, and car dings. I offered Maggie from Northern Expenditure my birthday since she spent hers sick in bed a few weeks ago, I’m taking a mulligan sometime next month.

Presents! I don’t ask for birthday presents since the list would never end so it’s always a fabulous surprise when I get a book in the mail, or a lovely card from an old friend. Those little thoughts are worth a million bucks. And of course JuggerBaby singing various version of Happy Birthday to me all weekend, substituting zirself for me every 5th rendition, was worth another million bucks.

TEETH! Finally had that six month check up following my root canal … 8 months later. That appointment was rescheduled about 9 times because of all the summer reno craziness, and maybe a touch because I really didn’t want to go back to the dentist yet. But I was vaguely worried for nothing! The area of infection is almost completely filled in with healing bone and my next follow-up is in a year. In the meantime, I’m strongly considering Invisalign because I hate how my teeth have moved. I forget how much they were quoting me but I’ve put it off because of cost after the expensive few years we’ve had.

:: What’s your favorite birthday gift you’ve ever been given? What’s your charitable giving budget? Do you steer clear of the dentist?

Read past monthly updates here!

September 4, 2017

Net Worth & Life Report: August 2017

Money and Life Report: August 2017

On Money


Our normal income comes from two full time day jobs.

We experiment with earning money on the side, including minimal cash flow that we don’t touch from an investment property and investing in dividend stocks.

Some side income comes from Swagbucks, selling clothes on Poshmark which is hit or miss, and Achievemint (my introduction to it). Any purchases you make going through my Amazon links keep these blog lights on.

The long term goal is to replace our day job income before my health declines enough to prevent me from working.

***   ***   ***

Chase bonus! That last $150 bonus for opening a savings account in PiC’s name and keeping $10,000 in there for 6 months has finally hit our account. I’m leaving the cash in there for now because we’re going to need alla that and then some for taxes. That’s just a guess. An educated guess.

It’s actually quite awesome having the money set aside for taxes long before they’re due, and even making some money doing so, so a new tradition may have been born. In a few months, our coffers will be rebuilt and then it’ll be my turn to open a savings account to generate some income. Their scheduled transfers function is a nightmare to work with so I may have to skip the delicious checking accounts bonuses, though.

Comcast: I make it a goal to wrench back every penny they try to steal. This month was no different. Our equipment was sent back months ago, but they were still charging me a $2.50 fee monthly for … no darn good reason. If you too hate talking on the phone and have been avoiding dealing with them, use their chat function to demand your money back.


Our normal spending includes the living expenses for two households so this update ignores those ordinary living expenses. When buying anything online, I always check Mr. Rebates and Ebates for cashback.

Tiny surprises. I redeemed a Swagbucks deal for 100 free photo prints through York Photo. Then divvied them all up and sent surprise packets of photos to aunties and grandparents who were long overdue for an update. It doesn’t make sense to make them wait to get a photo once a year with the Christmas card, does it?

Eating out. We’ve had a house guest and, separately from the guest, under a great deal of pressure to get several extra things done per day over our usual workload so my concession has been to spend on food made by Not Me. Here’s an indicator of how exhausted I’ve been – I haven’t even bothered to keep track of every meal’s cost obsessively. It’s a temporary fix, and we’ve combined the need to eat with treating our guest to local delicacies. Win win?

Saving and investing

We max out a 401(k) and IRA every year. We normally save 20% of cash of our net salaries but that’s on hold while we get ourselves sorted out.

My secret stash is almost $6,000 right now which is a hoot considering how broke all the work is making us. But you know I can’t just spend without doing something to offset it. Plus, I have small amounts of our paychecks going directly to savings to make sure we never actually stop saving something. Some portion of that is going to pay for work that we had initially planned to delay but it’ll make life a LOT easier if we pay it now.

JuggerBaby’s 529 plan has gotten a couple of big infusions in the past 2 years and has since been sitting. I felt a bit guilty especially when I remembered that we have $1000 we consider untouchable for JB that hasn’t been invested yet. Duh! Vanguard’s automatic contributions plan has a minimum of $50 per month, so I’ve set up monthly contributions of $100 out of that account. By the time that money runs out, we should be in a position to increase the contributions comfortably.

Our net worth update: steadily dropping while reno is underway.

Links from this month

On Health

My steps average has risen by 500-1500 steps a day but my body is not thrilled with this increase. I’d hoped that gradually building on my average number week by week would build my stamina accordingly but gauging progress is complicated by the other aspects of my health. How do you tell the difference between “feels like crap because lots of steps happened yesterday” and “feels like crap because even though I was up to lots of steps yesterday, today is a fibro flare day”?

So far, I can’t tell. There’s no longer that distinction between good pain and bad pain. 

On Life

Breaking point. We’ve been doing a good job of keeping ourselves on an even keel despite all the disruptions but I can feel my body steadily losing its grip. My required recovery after each heavy work+reno day is getting longer and longer, and my body is not bouncing back at all, just trudging into the next day with a groan. It’s feeling a whole lot like those first really tough months after JuggerBaby was born – depressingly painful fatigue on top of the usual pain. I am not a fan. As little as I want to leave the place that’s been our home since I moved to the north of the state, my sense of self preservation does desperately want us moved and done before this wispy shell of my self shatters into a million pieces.

Sidebar: PiC joked we should flip this house, it’ll look so good when we’re done! I laughed. Then our (we haven’t even move in yet!!!) neighbor trespassed on our property to snoop around and check out our work. Now I’m considering it.

Extra sidebar: we discovered a second set of neighbors had decided to walk right in and tour the house uninvited. I’m on the verge of tackling the next intruders and calling the police. Just because you see an open door doesn’t mean you should walk in and track dirt all over my clean floors!


Moana! JuggerBaby is obsessed and it’s pretty awesome for us adults too. We’ve become a Lin-Manuel Miranda and co. household between Hamilton and Moana. The music is too clever to be annoyed by hearing it all day. (“You’re welcome!”)

:: How did you wind up your summer? Are you excited for fall or sad to leave summer behind? 

Read past monthly updates here!

August 7, 2017

Net Worth & Life Report: July 2017

Money & Life Report: July 2017

On Money


Our normal income comes from two full time day jobs.

We experiment with earning money on the side, including minimal cash flow that we don’t touch from an investment property and investing in dividend stocks.

Some side income comes from Swagbucks, selling clothes on Poshmark which is hit or miss, and Achievemint (my introduction to it). Any purchases you make going through my Amazon links keep these blog lights on.

The long term goal is to replace our day job income before my health declines enough to prevent me from working.


Poshmark sales! $28 for an amazing designer dress (bought on clearance!) that my post-partum body simply cannot get into anymore. Don’t think I didn’t try – and get very very stuck. I did. For a horrible five minutes, I thought PiC would have to cut me out of it.

$11 for a classic two button ten year old suit that, the fates willing, I won’t ever need again.

If I can average two sales a month, that’s a nice trickle of pocket change but my need to declutter would REALLY be tickled if  it’d go up to two items a week. Just putting that out there, universe. Feel free to make it so.

Rental income: came in on time and covered the mortgage, HOA, supplemental home warranty coverage, insurance, and taxes (the latter two are escrowed) with $180 to spare.


Our normal spending includes the living expenses for two households so this update ignores those ordinary living expenses. When buying anything online, I always check Mr. Rebates and Ebates for cashback.

SDCC usually means a fair amount of spending. Because of the upcoming move, sometime this fall, I forced myself to keep it to the bare minimum. I only brought home a few books and souvenirs – a couple of which were gifts from my friend. He’s getting his gift from me that I preordered several months ago, and then promptly forgot about!

American Express Purchase Protection: Remember how I decided to charge everything related to the house? Turns out I was right to do that. Mostly the folks working on the house are careful but accidents happen and one did. A fixture that we had purchased well ahead of the planned installation date was absentmindedly used as a stepstool. Of course, it broke. Shattered, really. It was an accident, but one that would cost us another $50. For the first time, I submitted a claim with American Express, explaining what happened, and was told: Please allow for 30-45 days to resolve your claim.

24 hours later I was notified that the claim was approved, and the next day, the credit was already on my account.

The fine print: Purchase Protection is an embedded benefit of your Card Membership and requires no enrollment. It can help protect eligible purchases made on your Card when they’re accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost, for up to 90 days from the date of purchase. Please read important exclusions and restrictions to see if your item is eligible for coverage.

Thanks and thanks. JuggerBaby got THE BEST gifts this year from some super-awesome long-time friends. That called for some of our fanciest thank you cards. I believe in mailing thank you cards for as long as my fingers are still functioning, though there are quite a few days that they don’t.

Saving and investing

We max out a 401(k) and IRA every year. We normally save 20% of cash of our net salaries but that’s on hold while we get ourselves sorted out with the reno work.

Future travel. We don’t have any plans for travel and I have no idea when we’ll be ready to but that’s never stopped me from planning ahead.

See: “The striving, even when it wasn’t crystal clear what the striving would be in aid of, was worth it.” I’m setting an audacious goal of banking 300,000 airline miles to be saved for future vacations – one domestic, and one international. The reason it’s so high? To fly business class, or even first class, on that international trip. We survived that last trip but it wasn’t precisely fun and most of us got sick after that. One of these days, I’m going first class, baby! And then sadly back to coach class after that.

Our net worth update: on hold while reno is underway.

Links from this month

On Life

The circle of life. We’ve had everything this summer: new babies, new weddings, and now funerals. I never wanted to include this section in my monthly update but what a terrible month. We’ve lost a friend of this blog, and three family members, with two seriously ill family members. I’m holding up ok but there’s a layer of sadness tinging everything I do, and it will for a while. It gives me flashbacks to the years we were losing parents and friends, one after another, in what felt like an endless stream. It’s too early for this –  for all of this.

:: How was your July? Have you ever traveled first class? Do you still write thank you cards? Do you like getting them?

Read past monthly updates here!

July 26, 2017

Reaping Dividends: July 2017 report

Reaping Dividends: July 2017

My brokerage was TradeKing which was acquired by Ally this year. I’ve been very happy with TradeKing’s low fees and service so I’m hoping that Ally does that and better. There’s one thing I already like the look of. For investors with at least a $100,000 daily balance or execute at least 30 trades per quarter, you can be part of Ally Invest SELECT.

The one tiny perk that I care about is lower fees: $3.95 per equity trade and $0.50 per options contract.

Other perks that I don’t personally care about right now:
Priority routing to our Ally Invest reps. No additional cost when you place a phone trade. We’ll waive the first six months’ advisory fees for any new Ally Invest Advisors account you open, including custodial and joint accounts or IRAs. No fees on requests for 1099s, paper statements, or trade confirmations. We’ll refund transfer fees on deposits of $5,000 or more to your Ally Invest Securities account.

I’d trade a few of those benefits for free trades, really.

Observations this quarter 

  • Dividends income this past quarter (April through June): $941.20. If nothing changes, we’ll see about $2600 in dividend income this year.
  • I love COST and Costco loves me! For a second year in a row, they’ve paid out a special dividend at $7 per share. Delicious dividends, that can go on to buy more dividend bearing stocks.
  • For two days, I had a triple dividend from KO but it turns out that was just a dirty trick.
  • I was surprised to realize that I’ve been buying more stocks in the “Cyclical Consumer Goods & Services” sector than anything else. Probably not a good idea to be concentrated in retail if I’m worried about a recession. 

Dividend income update: June 30, 2017

Year to Date Dividends: $1,365.20, Fees: $9.90, Net: $1,355.30

Income Replacement

For perspective, I like to think of the dividends investing project in terms of how much of our income it can replace, or how much of our fixed expenses it can cover.

At a whopping $1355.30, this year’s dividends can pay 39% of one new mortgage payment. Our old mortgage payment would have been paid in full!

Since I started 6 years ago, I’ve made a grand total of $2,810.00.

:: How did your portfolio do this quarter? Would you try to replace income this way, or do you have another preference?

July 10, 2017

Net Worth & Life Report: June 2017

Money and Life Report: June 2017

On Money


Our normal income comes from two full time day jobs.

We experiment with earning money on the side, including minimal cash flow that we don’t touch from an investment property and investing in dividend stocks.

Some side income comes from Swagbucks, selling clothes on Poshmark which is hit or miss, and Achievemint (my introduction to it). Any purchases you make going through my Amazon links keep these blog lights on.

The long term goal is to replace our day job income before my health declines and prevents me from working.

***   ***   ***

Chase bonus money: Our checking account bonuses came in! +$500! And I FINALLY got our coupon for the mortgage rebate so that’s been submitted. Now I’m just impatiently waiting for my $150 from the savings account and $595 to come in.

Poshmark sale! Woot! I sold a nice wallet I have no use for. It was a lovely gift but I don’t tend to change wallets often, just the bags they go in, so after seven years of it sitting idle, it was time to part ways.

Cell phone credit: A short chat with T-Mobile about our terrible cell phone reception this month resulted in a $30 credit.

Yes, this is all small change in comparison to our home-related spending but I’ve always paid attention to my pennies AND dollars and it does all add up.

A raise for you, and a raise for me! PiC’s company and mine apparently put their heads together to let the first half of the year go out with a bang – we both got raises which was great news in light of our increased expenses. Best of all, mine was just enough to hit a Major Milestone in salary! This was HUGE. We celebrated with a high-five, two bags of rawhides for Seamus the Ever-patient Pup, and a $71 pair of sneakers to replace my 12 year old shoes that are absolutely killing my feet, knees, and hips.


Our normal spending includes the living expenses for two households so this update ignores those ordinary living expenses. When buying anything online, I always check Mr. Rebates and Ebates for cashback.

A hemorrhaging of money

Obviously we’re not trying to spend every penny we make between now and the time we sell our current residence, but the sheer amount of work that has to be done means we’re carrying the costs of two households for a few months. The spreadsheets have been worked double time to make sure we won’t get in debt but things are going to be TIGHT.

Slippery slope spending

Frustratingly, there’s also a sense of “just add it to the bill” cropping up with all the money that we’re already spending. I don’t especially want to battle that feeling as well, in order to keep other non-house spending in check! Send help! I need the new shoes, that I’ll concede. But I also feel like I “need” to send various people gifts for happy life events and that one’s hard to fight back without feeling like Scrooge.

Stupid tax

At the worst possible time, I overlooked the fact that we didn’t get our car registration renewals in the mail and the first I was reminded of it was when they sent the late notices with $142 in late fees at the end of May. ARGH. I spent 40 minutes at the DMV to plead my case and they reduced the late fees by half. I’m still grumpy but better than nothing.

#GivingCards and Charitable Giving

I don’t believe in tooting our horn for every donation we make. The point of giving isn’t to brag, it’s to help someone in need. The exception is when the cause is sound and could use help. I’m delighted to be taking part in the Rockstar Forums’ giving project where they send out a $20 gift card each month to forum participants who sign up.

June Giving Card! We were working a ton this month and were running errands like madpeople.

In the middle of that, I heard that a friend of a friend’s unreliable car had given out one more time and they weren’t sure how they were going to pay for the replacement. I remember being there. I remember being a little kid, sitting in the backseat, while my parents struggled to make ends meet, not knowing that we had to eke out another twenty thousand miles on that car because there just wasn’t enough extra room in the budget to save enough for a new-to-us old car that year, or the year after.

Our expenses are sky high right now so I couldn’t double it this month but I’ve got a line item in our budget for next year when things even out to send a bit of money to the Giving Card program next year.

Saving and investing

We max out a 401(k) and IRA every year. We normally save 20% of cash of our net salaries but that’s on hold while we get ourselves sorted out.

Rebuilding the emergency fund

The down payment depleted our liquid assets and they’ll stay depleted until we sell our current place. It’s going to take months before that happens. I’m not making any assumptions on the kind of … wait, no, I’m making LOTS of projections based on a range of possible sale prices that we might reasonably expect, but I’m not banking on any one of them as a certain outcome. The only thing I’m absolutely counting on is that the first thing this sale money goes to after paying our broker, and the loans, is to refill our emergency fund so I can sleep at night.

Links from this month

On Health

My steps this month: 102,367 steps or 46 miles.

Viral load. If I can go two (or even three!) monthly updates without having to mention a cold, or a flu, or both, I’d be EVER so grateful! This is not that day, though.

On Life

July is FULL FULL FULL. It’s the Month of San Diego Comic Con, of course, the whole month tends to revolve around that. We’ll take a day to see family and friends but mostly this is the Time of the Geek. YAY!

Wedding bells! We have a wedding to attend! The gift has been sent. Our accommodations are booked with points, thankfully saving our embattled pocketbook. We just have to pay for food and gas to drive to the Secret Location. Seamus can come with us, so we won’t have to pay for dogsitting. Now I just have to panic about what we’re all wearing. I don’t know how formal this thing is and it’s going to be the middle of summer in Hotter than Heck California. What on earth will be appropriate and not lead to a literal meltdown? Stay tuned!

:: How was your June? What do you have planned for July and the heat waves?

Read past monthly updates here!

July 5, 2017

The fun we had: Spring 2017

What I watched

Man to Man

A Netflix exclusive described as: “Disguised as a bodyguard, a special agent must complete his national secret tasks while pandering to the whims of his ill-tempered world star.”

I really didn’t know what it expect but in my flu-weakened state, I was willing to give almost anything diverting a try to distract from my aches, fever and chills, and swollen throat. The fact that it was entirely in Korean with subtitles was a bonus for once – it forced me to stop working and actually rest. It started out as a light silly comedic take on a spy story, the actors’ expressiveness, or lack thereof, tickling my funny bone every few minutes but the plot thickened and the characters started to develop surprisingly quickly. Quite quickly, actors I’d taken for one-turn guests had become characters with a bit of depth and interest.

It’s fascinating to see the peeks into Korean culture, both as its portrayed on the screen (chicken and beer!) and also in how the actors act. It’s so different from American acting in subtle ways. It plays to the ridiculous, it uses shades of overacting, and yet employs so much stillness to convey thoughts, reactions, and meaning. These may be unique to this particular Korean genre, rather than Korean acting, but it’s effective and I love watching it.


I’d never heard of this movie before, we happened across it totally randomly. A story set in the time when Taiwan was still occupied by the Japanese, it’s a baseball movie but also a redemption movie, and a love story, and an interesting perspective on the Japanese occupation where the war wasn’t the focus.

Rogue One

(Rogue One! Rogue One! Rogue One!)

I’m allowed to write about this now, right? I’ve got to be among the last people to see it.

In case you haven’t, and you care about spoilers, skip this review.

Rogue One evoked all KINDS of emotions – start to finish.

I got to know the Star Wars trilogy backwards – as a kid, I discovered it through the lens of the Stackpole X-wing novels, years after the original films. I remember the moment I took them off the shelf, in the back corner, second shelf from the bottom, sitting on the ground with my back up against the last shelf just exulting that my dinky little middle school library had these books in hardcover and read them over and over.

K-2SO is vying with BB8 as my favorite droid, colored by hearing Alan Tudyk’s voice, I adore cute but I also adore unfiltered truth and sarcasm.

The friendship between Chirrut and Baze, the connection between Jyn and the man who saved her, and then later abandoned her. The realization that her father, so long out of touch with her, had in fact always loved her and had truly fulfilled his promise that everything he did would be for her sake. There were some minor bits of confusion, namely the flashback scenes, and Jyn’s mother, and their escape plan.

What I Read

Barnaby Rudge: a tale of the Riots of ‘eighty, Charles Dickens

This was a great cure for my insomnia most nights. I have to read to get to sleep, this helps regardless of the countervailing effects of staring at a screen at night. Picking a Dickensian tale only further ensures that I’ll soon be nodding off. Which isn’t a great recommendation for the book, I realize. As an engaging presentation of large-scale mob violence, however, it did the job. Though it half put me to sleep part of the time, I also kept coming back to it to see how the story would play out.

The Life of Pi, Yann Martel

I thought everyone who saw this movie or read the book loved it. I was enthralled from beginning to the near-end, it was mostly well written and hard for me to put down. But. That’s because it was a terrible story and I was desperately trying to get to a decent ending. It darn sure guarantees you won’t get me out on a deep sea boat for at least ten years. It’ll take that long to get the bad taste out of my brain. The problem was that the last chapters were just depressing. I could get behind the fantastical plot while they were animals, though the orphaning was a horrible thing that kept hovering in the back of my mind.

The real / not real discussion truly  annoyed me as well, it felt like a novice writing device that happens in tv sometimes.  “And it was all a dream”, ugh.

Summary: I wish someone had told me it was not a story about a happy kid, and a happy tiger, being friends forever. I wish it’d occurred to me to ask someone what it was about and for all the spoilers.

World War 1 Soldier Stories: The Untold Soldier Stories on the Battlefields of WWI

This was so poorly written I couldn’t finish a single chapter. It felt like I was grading high school, maybe, essays on history – except my high school classmates were talented writers so maybe kick that down to junior high level.

I’m still sharing it because it counts and I really wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t.

Witches Abroad: A Novel of Discworld, Terry Pratchett

Granny Weatherwax vs fairy godmothers. I thought I’d read this one before but the ending was completely new to me so clearly my memory is hazy, one way or another. I can never get enough of Discworld, and always leave off with one book wanting more. Is there a good cheap way to fill out my meager collection?

Wives of War, Soraya Lane

A look at the World War II from the perspective of the many women who supported the war effort, nearly on the front lines in some cases, and how drastically it affected their lives. The writing was solid, and the characters’ stories were compelling enough to keep me reeled in for a long while.

Planned summer reading: As much Terry Pratchett as I can get my hands on and maybe a few biographies. I need funny to settle my brain at night, not drama, mystery, or anything with actual suspense.

What I ate

Life’s short, have dessert first! Brownie bites. These were so good that I made them twice – unheard of! And I didn’t share even one with JuggerBaby. It was for zir own good, really. If I had given JB a brownie, then would have wanted milk, then another brownie, and another one. And then we’d be forced to watch zir turn into a monster like a Gremlin fed after midnight. It was for the good of all humankind that I didn’t share.

Slow cooker + garlic + pork = perfection! This recipe feeds our family of three (humans-only in this calculation) for about a week: tacos, burritos, served with rice and veggies, in pasta, etc. I like it so much I’m recommending it again! The base protein on sale only cost $7, so I’m calling it an excellent deal.

:: Do you have any favorite easy recipes to share? Do you have any funny book recommendations? 

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