tulip festival 2011

We drove up to Mount Vernon for the tulip festival today. As you can see, it's a bit sunnier than last year but the rain was lurking just up the road. Afterwards we had a nice picnic lunch. They looked to be blooming about a week later than last year because there were still several rows that hadn't bloomed and no rows had been cut. I ordered several new varieties to add to my garden.



Nate's brother bought an X-Box with a Kinect and we had a good time testing it out today. The video chat worked really well and has a feature where the camera will follow you if you move. We also tried out online play with the Adventures game. The competitive events worked really well. The cooperative ones- not so much. It's hard to steer a river raft with someone in another state, even though the device does have a microphone so you can chat in the game. The Kinect snaps photos of you while you're playing and you can trade them with your opponent afterwards so there's an added level of interaction. I had a really good time and can't wait for more games with the online play option.


financial housekeeping part 2

It's that time of year again when taxes and finance are on the mind. Today we sat down and evaluated exactly where our money goes each month and what our goals are.
When we divide out how much we spend per month on home repairs and renovations it's like a second mortgage payment. We joke that we could have just spend more for an updated house and saved time and energy. I think after 2 or 3 more years it will be pretty well updated though with the mortgage payment of a smaller house so I still think we did it the right way. We're on super saver mode to get the kitchen and bathroom knocked out since they are failing on us quickly. Once those are done we can ease up a bit and do other projects at a slower pace.
I know finances can be stressful for a lot of people and they procrastinate going over them but I truly find it relaxing. Even when we find we ate out too much one month or had an unexpected expense, it still feels a lot better to be aware of what's going on so we can make adjustments for the next month.
I made a similar post last year so I wanted to follow up with something related. I think it's really important to be honest with yourself about what you spend your money on. I found it really helpful to take some of our larger expenses and divide them by 12 to see what they would be as a monthly expense. Sometimes "one time" expenses can add up to quite a bit over the course of a year.
I also found it helpful to look at our loans in terms of what they will cost if we pay them off as scheduled. If you already have an emergency fund, it might make more sense to direct extra money towards a loan with a higher interest rate. Our loans are all higher interest rates than we make in our accounts at the credit union. With online payments it can get tricky to make sure your payment is applied to principle so read the instructions carefully!
This has been your annual reminder that money is not your enemy and you should befriend and nurture it so it will work for you not against you. =)


jury duty update

I got back a response from King County Court that my jury duty was rescheduled and there is no fine or penalty! I felt so ridiculous for missing it since I looked at the date so many times. So I'm officially announcing that it's on June 15.
That's June 15.

It doesn't tell me what time or place but by God I will be somewhere on June 15.


amazon- subscribe and save

I discovered a whole new area of Amazon.com while re-ordering my favorite tea last night. You can now set up subscriptions to common household items and get 15% off the regular Amazon price and shipped free at the interval of your choosing. Visit the site: here.
This seems like it could be competing with Costco on the bulk prices. We just got a Costco membership from my parents and went on Saturday. First, OMG what complete madness. Families had multiple overflowing carts and weren't afraid to use them to jockey for position in the sample line. Second, you have to really pay attention to the unit prices. Some items were half off of the price we typically pay at Fred Meyer and others were about the same. Since we have a small freezer, we had to be somewhat selective about what we got.
I like this Amazon option because Costco doesn't have everything. I reviewed the set up and cancellation looks easy. You get an email before your delivery so you have a window of time to skip the shipment if you need to. Though at the rate I drink green tea I don't think that will be necessary.


something to sleep on

My parents haven't seen it yet but they bought me a new bedding set for my birthday. We got a really nice fluffy insert for the duvet cover and I slept so well last night. Before this we had several queen-sized blankets layered on our king-sized bed. When we moved into the house we splurged on a Tempurpedic mattress which has been one of the best purchases of all time. We also splurged on really high quality sheets and now we've got this nice bedding. The problem is the bed just sits on its box spring on the ground. Cats are destructive so we don't want to do any bed that has space under it. I've seen a couple of storage beds that are basically a platform bed with drawers underneath. I'm debating whether we should spend the money on it and get it over with or continue feeling like we're sleeping on the floor.


the golden beetle

Yesterday was my birthday and we had an excellent dinner at a new restaurant in Ballard. The Golden Beetle is a new Mediterranean restaurant from Maria Hines. She has an impressive resume. She beat Morimoto on Iron Chef, competed in Top Chef Masters on Bravo, and won the 2009 James Beard award for best chef.
The food lived up to the hype! It's described as elevated street food and I think that's an appropriate description. We started with wood fired pita bread and hummus. The pita bread had the perfect soft, spongy texture almost like a crumpet. I could have just had that with different dips all night. We also had spinach cigars (kind of like spanikopita), falafel, and ground beef skewers. Everything was so good so we'll definitely be paying them a happy hour visit soon.