Thursday, February 27, 2014

J.D. Robb

I love to read. I love fiction. Reading calms me. I am so completely in love with the "In Death" series by JD Robb, a pseudonym for Nora Roberts. Nora Roberts is my favorite author and I'm reading the series in order. There are about 40 books in the series and I'm on book 25. I just love the relationship between Leutinent Eve Dallas and her mega cutie husband Roarke. I started picking up books here and there over the years but my hair stylist actually gave me the idea to read them in order because she did the same thing. I highly recommend the books if you're into fiction. The book is futuristic. The setting is NYC about 50 years from now. I just finished book 24 this evening. Time to download the next book and get to reading. =)

Busy Day....

Today was a busy and productive day. I got pulled into a meeting right after 5pm so I missed the early trains home this evening. I am going to pack up in a few minutes to head home for the night so I can get home around 7:30pm. I am still determined to get in Day 4 of the T25 workout program. I keep telling myself..."Chitown, just 25 minutes and then you can shower, say your prayers and climb in the bed." =)

I had so much fun last night celebrating my nephew's birthday. I worked hard so I could leave right on time and get home to workout, shower, wrap my nephew's second round of presents and head over to my parents' house. Apparently, I got there just in time because he was busting at the seams ready to open more presents. It must be nice being the only child and grandchild. I know I spoil the little guy.

My Sis and BIL got my Nephew this Discovery Toy Laser Tag Game and I think I had more fun with it than he Everyone else in the house was sitting around and even I was sitting there reading on my iPad and my nephew couldn't wait for my BIL to set up the Laser Tag game for him. So soon as my BIL finished, my nephew was all excited and everyone was sitting around watching television or messing around on their iPhone or Ipad, including ME! So, I put my iPad away, grabbed a laser and we ran around the house playing our version of Star Wars for a good hour and I know all the noise was driving everyone crazy but heck...I was having fun and the kid was having fun on his birthday. lol Is it wrong that I kept thinking, "I want some of these for my house?!?!" So much fun! =)

I have to run to catch this train. I hope you guys had a wonderful day! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nephew Turns 5 Officially....

I am battling a bad cold that's kept me up three nights in a row but I am determined to get through the work day and get home to officially celebrate my nephew's 5th birthday. Apparently he was so excited that he woke up at 4:15 this morning. I'm sure my Sis and BIL were delighted. lol

My project at work is wrapping up and I've been grinding it out the last couple of days with lots of meetings and discussions. Plus, they are making changes to our procedures which is creating quite a bit of confusion amongst the overall division. I am learning to delegate tasks which is necessary but not easy and requires trust. It's all good. Unlike my last project, I have ample time to wrap this one up. 

I completed Day 2 of the T25 workout program last night and was showered and in bed by 8:30 to rest, relax and read. Apparently, I am able to psych myself up when I know I only have to workout hard for 25 minutes straight and my legs are feeling the burn. 

Finances have been so so. I need to reign myself in. I've been spending $20 here in Walgreens, $20 there in CVS, $40 in Target and it all adds up. Birthday season for my family and friends is almost wrapped up with just my Mom and BFF to go next month. 

Getting close to the beginning of April where I will liquidate stock after quarter end and pay down my credit card debt by $2100 after splitting the balance between two cards with balance transfers. Overall, not a bad start to the year. 

  • I am enrolled in the Leadership Program at work. 
  • I am already leading a review this year. 
  • I completed a review project that is getting recognition from our business partners. 
  • I started a workout plan. 
  • I still have $10k in savings. 
  • I am on target for $20k in debt reduction.
  • I still need to work on the 2014 travel plans. A few friends have approached me for a spa trip to AZ and a trip to NOLA but nothing concrete. I still have to look into Niagara Falls for when I travel to Canada for work.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

T25 - Day 1

Just finished Day 1 of Beachbody & Shaun T's T25 Workout. Although it was just 25 minutes, I felt like I got a good workout and I felt the leg burn for sure. I haven't worked out on a consistent basis since last Summer so I'm looking forward to getting back into shape as I focus more on me and the year ahead. 

I think I have a bit of a sinus infection. I haven't felt well all day so I am back to trying the Musinex to see if that works before I call the doc back. I never fully got over the last virus but I've been feeling much much better other than today. 

Hope you guys had a good day. I am going to hit the shower, read a little and get to sleep early tonight. =)

52-Week Organizing Challenge...

I am combining Week 2 and Week 3 of the Organizing Challenge and will finish later this week. 

Week 2: Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers
Week 3: Pantry and Food Storage

I decided at 9:30 last night to start cleaning out my kitchen cabinets and pantry. I didn't get to bed until 12:30 this morning. I don't know why I decide to start projects so late in the evening. I was going to just do a small cabinet but it snowballed. lol

The kitchen cabinets, drawer and pantry in my condo make absolutely no sense at all. I was taking a hammer to the pantry last night because I couldn't figure out the thought process of the previous owner. She had extra pieces of wood hammered in which kept the shelves in one spot and prevented me from realigning the shelves into the pre-made slots. Silly. Then there are two doors to the pantry which is also silly and another piece of wood that makes absolutely no sense but it's part of the actual panty so it's not easily removed without having to restain, etc. Then I only have ONE measly drawer in my entire kitchen where I keep my cutlery but that drawer may be 7 inches wide so finding a cutlery tray to fit is nearly impossible so I had to improvise. I did just find a cheap one on Amazon this morning for less than $10 so I will measure again tonight and decide if I want to make a purchase.

Anyway, I am about 90% done and it was even easier than I thought since about 95% of the stuff in my cabinets and pantry was in fact EXPIRED!!! My Mom feeds me and I eat out so much that buying groceries is virtually pointless. I had 4 garbage bags of expired canned goods and other processed foods like pasta, rice, etc. I won't even begin to tell you the expiration dates. Shake my head! You will be able to see from the pictures just how much was actually thrown out in the trash.

I am in a purging mood and I just want to chuck almost everything and start over with just the necessities. I cannot stand clutter and I am a minimalist at heart. My bedroom is a disaster of washed but unfolded clothes right now and I swear I keep avoiding my room. I will try to carve out an hour this evening to fold and put that stuff away.

Today is the start of the T25 Workout Program. 25 Minutes a Day, 5 Days a Week. I will take my measurements this evening but my weight this morning...OMG!!! =)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Blessed Day...

I am curled up on the couch watching the NAACP Image Awards after a great day.

I started the day off having a birthday lunch with one of my oldest friends. We go back to 8th grade. I was the Maid of Honor in her wedding but we've grown apart in the last 5 years as she settled into marriage life and now being a mommy. She's been making quite an effort in the last year to build back our friendship and we had a fabulous time catching up today. 

While I was in Target, one of my sister's oldest and dearest friends (also from grade school) called me on my cell. At first I was going to ignore the call because people generally only call when they want or need something, usually legal advice, but I answered. Low and behold, she didn't want anything other than to check up on me and see how I'm doing. So sweet! She's like family so we chatted for a good little while and I was just thankful someone actually just thought of me and cared enough to see how I'm doing. That's a blessing 

My nephew had a wonderful birthday party. I will admit, I was a bit overstimulated with 25 kids excitedly celebrating that once we got the cars packed up to head to my sister's house, I had to sit in my car in silence for a good 10 minutes. lol OMG!!! I was the only childless adult there so I was just a helper for the day. My nephew saw that I came in empty handed and looked at me with sad eyes asking me "Did you get me anything for my birthday?!?!" I started to say "NO" to mess with him but my Mom ratted me out. We all picked up gifts for him last night but my Mom wrapped them. I also have a couple go things for him to open when he actually turns 5 on Wednesday. Those big brown eyes and dimples get me every time! 

We had a great family day. Blessed! 

Rock Climbing....

My nephew is having a Rock Climbing Birthday Party. I hope he has a fun time. What a terrific and different idea for a party. 5 years old. Wowza! The little boy is fearless. He climbed a 32 foot wall. =)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Travel Bug...

I am getting the travel bug...well I always had the travel bug. lol  American Airlines, Kayak and United Airlines hit my inbox with deals for travel today and I cannot wait to go somewhere after my review ends next month.  March is going to be a busy month.  In addition to 2 more birthdays for my Mom and Best Friend, I am going to see Ailey, we are taking a family picture and Chitown is getting her first ever hair cut to get some layers.  Then there is the 5 mile Shamrock Shuffle at the end of the month. Fun!  My hair has really grown quite long and past the middle of my back so cutting a few layers into it will be great for when my hair is curly to give it some extra volume.  I'll still keep it pretty long but I cannot wait for the experience.

I held my midpoint meeting today for my project at work and it went very well and smooth.  I am getting much better at communicating my thought process and ideas to our business partners and the feedback has been positive.  I have quite a few hours to put in over the next couple of weeks but then I will be able to bring this project to another successful conclusion.  Very happy.

I logged my expenses for last month and OMG...I made a few splurges!  In addition to having to meet my $350 health insurance deductible, I purchased tickets to see Alvin Ailey, and I purchased T25 which is a new workout program by Shaun T and Beachbody.  I was considering joining the gym at work for $50/month so this was a compromise.  I am really looking forward to starting the exercise program on Monday and doubling up on a few days with some runs to get myself ready for the Shamrock Shuffle.  5 miles baby! I can do it!  I am especially glad because the T25 is only 25 minutes a day of intense workout time. 

My Dad celebrated his 66th Birthday officially yesterday, today is my godfather's birthday and my nephew turns 5 next Wednesday. Lots and lots of birthdays and reasons to celebrate and give thanks! =)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

52-Week Money Challenge...

I completed Week #7 of the 52-Week Money Challenge and I now have $28 put away. It doesn't seem like much but as you can see from the chart, I will be able to snowball my way to $1,378 by the end of the year.

Slow and steady. Slow and steady. =)


$1,378 - 52 Week Challenge

Monday, February 17, 2014

Good News...

I got some good news. In May I went to the doc for a regular exam and it came back with some abnormalities. So I went back in November to retest. I didn't hear back from my doctor so while I was in the hospital waiting for my Dad to get out of surgery in January, I called for the results. I had been so preoccupied with everything else going on in my life so no news was good news. So the doc caled me back a week ago with the results and there were even more abnormalities so he wanted me to come back before the end of the month for more tests. Well he called on a Friday and I was in the following Monday. He called with my results today and there were no abnormalities this time around!!! I have been meditating and praying for months trying to just heal my body and spirit and let go of stress and it worked. 

I try not to oppose and fight against things that happen but to just be and show love. I am trying to be less judgmental and accepting of others for who they are and for having their own opinions even if they are different from mine and to keep positive thoughts and a positive mindset. When I have laser focus, I never get sick. It's tends to be once I finally relax and unwind when everything that's been building up hits me hard. That's what happened after the bar exam. I flew out the next day to Cancun for my sister's wedding and once everyone left and I had a few days to unwind in Mexico, I got sick and came home with a nasty virus. This time, as soon as I knew my Dad was out of the woods with his surgery and I could finally exhale and relax, I got hit with this last cold virus. Built up stress in the body and with my health conditions, stress is really bad for me and having peace and a low stress environment is best. So I got my happy news and I am just feeling so thankful. 

I am 36, beautiful, successful and healthy. My future is so bright. Feeling so thankful! I really needed some good news and something good to happen to me. =)

Day Off & Birthdays...

Today is a bank holiday so I get to enjoy the day off. I also get to help celebrate my Father who turns 66 tomorrow. Since we're all off today, we will all get together this evening for a big dinner, cake and ice cream. I love my family birthday celebrations. 

I am sitting here in my living room right now watching the snow fall. It's so pretty and it looks like a blizzard since the snow is falling so fast and hard. We're supposed to get 5-6 inches. Some of the snow mounds are as tall as me now or taller and I am 5'5". I love Chicago and all four seasons but I have to say I am so ready for some sun and warmth. 

Yesterday was a good day. After church, I took my nephew to my little cousin's birthday party and this little girl took a serious liking to my nephew and hemmed him up and kept trying to kiss on him. 4/5 year olds. I was floored. I had to be the "Big Mean Aunt" and seperate them but life was better in his world once he got to Build-A-Bear. lol My nephew is going to have an awesome birthday party next weekend when he turns 5. My Sis and BIL booked a rock climbing party for him and it's going to be a blast. 

My friend and I went out to watch the NBA All Star Game last night and that was also entertaining. Busy busy weekend but a great weekend full of quality time with the people I love and who love me back. Priceless! 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

VDay & Auto Show...

My friend and I went out to a Valentine's Day event last night downtown and it was nice.  We enjoyed it for about an hour or so and then we were both looking at each other like "what's next?!?!" lol  We decided to head back to the suburbs to see a movie.  Thank goodness for the SUV and tented windows because I was thrilled to jump in the back, strip off my dress and heels and throw on my jeans.  I am so glad I brought a change of clothes. After years of playing softball, I can change entire outfits in the car in minutes. =)  We saw the movie "About Last Night" which was excellent and sooo funny.  I was laughing the entire time.  After working from home all day which was also a treat, I had a good Valentine's Day. 

My family and I spent the afternoon at the auto show today. I was taking a look at SUVs that I may be interested in and a few convertibles also caught my eye. I plan to drive my green machine as long as possible but it's nice to know what's in inventory out there. All in all, it was a very blessed day hanging out with the family. Love! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Today Is All About Love...

Love is Dope!  Loving someone and being loved in return is an amazing feeling and experience.  It's when the mere mention of a person's name puts a smile on your face.  When you have a flashback memory of the two of you together that makes you smile and laugh.  It's the silent communication between two lovers when words aren't required.  It's entrusting your heart, mind, body and spirit and feeling confident that that special person will always have your best interest foremost in their heart and mind.  It's the ability to be transparent with your hopes, fears and dreams and know that they will all be embraced and supported.  It's knowing you have a partner through and through whether you're basking in the sun or going through the storm.  It's knowing you can always count on your partner to show up and be there for you.  It's forgiveness because you know the person you love and fell in love with is still there inside.  It's giving your partner more than they deserve even when they disappoint you.  It's when you may not have anything but love to offer but you do what you can and your partner appreciates you and your love and it fills them up.  It's when you feel loved, appreciated, accepted, supported and protected like you are the most precious gift.  It's when you can love another the way that you love yourself. 

Real love is dope.  It's simply amazing.  I believe in love.  I believe in miracles.

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

A day devoted to LOVE!!!  People who know me also know that I am such a softie.  I love Valentine's Day. My Dad will go out of his way today to pick up my favorite candy from Fannie May so I always have a Valentine!  He's a pretty awesome Dad and he set the bar pretty high for my future husband, because I know how a lady should be treated with provision and protection.
ILOVEMESOMELOVE!  Never take the people in your life for granted and reach out to someone today and tell them you love them and that they matter.  You never know how you can brighten up someone's life by shining a little light and love on them.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Valentine's Day that's full of love, laughter, smiles and joy.  =)

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I didn't grow up religious and I was not raised in the church but it's become an important part of my life in the past few years and I am thankful that I found a church home. The church that I attend is non-denominational and it's made up of a younger congregation and it welcomes and encourages you to just come as you are with no judgment or formalities. I think that is why I was initially drawn to return to the church after my first visit. The church I attend is called New Life Oakwood and the Pastor is John Hannah.

Every February, the Pastor does a series on Love in the spirit of the month. This Sunday he spoke on Friendship and it resonated with me on a deep level. Here are some of my notes from the sermon.

  • Sometimes your friends will say and even do stupid things but they are still your friends. So, we need to stop operating from the spirit of offense and operate from the spirit of love and forgiveness. 
  • You need friends that when you cannot get to Jesus, they will take you to Jesus. 
  • You need people in your life that will believe God for you. 
  • Everyone else cannot be on probation for the hurt that someone else caused. 
  • When you're going somewhere, be careful of who you allow around you. As you move forward, use the gift of discernment. 
  • Sometimes you have to slay your own personal Goliath before people will begin to notice you. 
  • A real friend is someone who loves you like they love themselves. 
  • If we are connected in spirit, when you get blessed, I get blessed and when I get blessed, you get blessed. 
  • With real friends, you should be able to drop your guards because there should be no judgment or worry that the person will share your business, pass judgment or use the information against you. Therefore, we should be able to be transparent with one another. 
  • Friendship is a spiritual connection and not a natural connection. 
  • Friends hold each other up in the best light. They should not speak badly about each other and if someone else has something negative to say, they should defend your honor. A friend can kill a rumor and stop a lie.
  • You need someone who will have your back at all times. Someone who will fight for you and not give up on you. Someone who will go into the spirit and pray for you and your situation. 
  • A friend can and should check you when you're acting out of character and when you have strayed from  your path. 
  • A real friend will be there for you even when you don't have anything. 
  • A friend will celebrate you for who you shall become. 
This is the one that hit home for me at the end of the sermon. 
  • Sometimes you need a separation from friends but that is just for a season, a period of time. You might have been hurt by them and disappointed and rightfully so, you needed a break from them and a separation. But, true friendship is a covenant in the spirit and that is for eternity. Sometimes you have to call that friend back into your life and extend an olive branch to them to get things back on the right track and now is the time to do that without delay.
Pastor Hannah is a good shepherd and he has never led me down the wrong path.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Online Dating...

It's no secret that I've pretty much been on my own and virtually single since September...5 months. Family and friends have been asking me if I will ever go back and try online dating. I randomly signed up for in December 2012 and I met my match within a week so I entertained just a few calls and just went out on one date. Soon as I met my match, I immediately deactivated my account. So I don't really know all the pitfalls of online dating other than looks can be deceiving and it's a lot of work and a big distraction. The pictures I posted were accurate representations of what I look like on a daily. I always felt the need to treat others the way I'd want to be treated so I would respond to every message even to just say 'thanks but no thanks' and wish them well. 

I don't know if I'm ready to jump out there again just yet. My heart was completely vested in my last relationship and I was literally ready to walk down the isle. Real feelings don't change that fast so I want to give myself a little time to make sure I'm ready and able to give to another. Plus, I think I was secretly hoping that my match would show up for me in the way I needed. So the review that I'm leading will be over in about a month. Maybe once I tie up loose ends on this project, I'll have the time, focus and energy to put into dating again. Maybe by then, the soul tie will be broken. 

I've been doing a lot of reflecting and praying for answers as I try to understand the lessons I am to gain from my experiences so that my future is better and fruitful. There is a lesson in every challenging situation and I know I am and will be a better person for the experience and opportunity to love and be loved. What I'm really thankful about is that I didn't take a single moment, laugh, call, visit, morning text, etc. for granted. I really appreciated and took it all in and cherished everything. That's what I'm most happy about because when you forgive and forget the bad stuff, you have those really awesome moments to remember because you held such love and gratitude for them in the present moment. 

I learned a lot about myself in this last year. I learned about a few insecurities (mostly surrounding my health & finances) but I also learned just how strong, brave, forgiving and loving that I am. I am and will always be a work in progress. The only constant is change I can definitely say that I'm changing and evolving in a positive direction. I may stumble, fall from my path from time to time but I always get up and find my way and I keep pressing forward. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I want to be happily married and I want to have children. 

I don't know exactly how my future will unfold but I know it will exceed even my wildest imagination because God is awesome! Right now, I'm just focused on putting myself in the best position to win and still enjoy this life journey with a smile on my face. 

Alvin Ailey Tickets...

A splurge in January that I made was tickets to see Alvin Ailey in Chicago at the Auditorium Theater. I get tickets every year and I am usually online within minutes or hours when they go on sale. I was a little late this year but I still got excellent seats. I think I will be in the 5th row which is awesome. One year I was in the first row and realized that the first row wasn't actually the best row in the house but 5th row through 10th row gives you a great view of the entire stage and dancers.

I love dancing and the arts so I am super excited. I look forward to events like Ailey every year. This Summer I am looking forward to Salsa Dancing in the park and all kinds of other goodies that Chicago has to offer. The next time I go to NYC, I would love the opportunity to take a class at Ailey. I missed out on my last visit but I will be sure to try to put it in the mix next time I get to visit. I love NYC. I love the energy but I still think I would prefer Chicago because NYC is massive. I will say that strolling through Central Park was the best. =)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

January 2014 Summary...

Below is my January 2014 Summary. My Net worth stayed flat because it was holiday and vacation time and there was spending to go along with both.

My Sis, Brother-in-Law and I were thrilled to buy my parents a new kitchen table for Christmas to replace the one they had. I am pretty sure it was older than me! They rarely do anything for themselves and I know they commented many times about wanting a new table so I made the suggestion and my family got on board. Many years ago when I was in law school, I wanted to do something nice for my parents to say Thank You. So, I asked my sister and we decided that we would either send my parents on a trip or buy them a new bedroom set which was also badly in need of replacement. We were both hoping for the trip but they decided on the bedroom set and 'my oh my', they have expensive taste! I think I may still be paying for that bedroom set. lol So, this year, we asked if they would like a new table and WE picked out the table and chairs ourselves and found a very nice set within our designated budget. We even got them a new television for the kitchen so they're happy and we're happy. Score!

So all in all, Jan wasn't bad at and I am ready for an excellent year ahead! =)

Monday, February 10, 2014

52-Week Organizing Challenge...

I started the 52-Week Organizing Challenge this week. I am excited about the challenge because being organized brings me peace of mind and I welcome the opportunity to purge.

Week #1: Kitchen Counters & Sink

The Challenge for Week 1 was pretty easy for me. I used to have all kinds of flour and sugar canisters, etc. on my counters but I realized it all had to go last year since I have limited counter space. When I was purging last year with the pipe burst, I hauled all of that stuff out and gave it to the Salvation Army. 

So the before pics in this case would have looked like these after pics with just a few things put away. 

The Turbie Twist...

For my natural hair curlies that read my blog and worry about frizz, I have a product for you. I found it so randomly on one of my many trips to CVS during lunch downtown and it wasn't expensive. The product is called Turbie Twist and it's a 100% microfiber towel that loops your wet hair up and keeps it up while it dries. Love!

For months I tried to achieve the equivalent of big curly hair but I was pretty resolved that it wasn't going to happen because my hair is much more on the fine side. Then one day, my parents stopped by unexpectedly to help me take down my Christmas tree but they caught me while I was in the shower and my hair was drenched. So I threw some conditioner in my hair and remembered I bought the Turbie Twist. I tied my hair up, got dressed and we all put the tree and decorations up. Later, I pulled the Turbie loose and I had a full head of defined curls that just popped. 

The towel absorbed the extra moisture and conditioner that weighed my hair down and I was left with super soft curls that were full of volume. After I took the towel down, it took maybe another 30-45 minutes for my hair to completely dry without using a blow dryer. Score! 

So cheers to random finds at the store. I think I got a buy one get one half off deal and paid something like $10 for two turbie twists. These are perfect for travel. Of course I wanted the funky cute colors. =)

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Loving Me...

There are moments in your life where you can look yourself in the mirror and be  absolutely proud of the person staring back at you. I had one of those moments today where I just looked at myself and saw love. I love who I am. People that I cross paths with are drawn to me and they tell me that I lift their spirits and they  smile and laugh with me. They feel comfortable with me and end up coming to me for advice or just as a person to listen to them without me offering my opinion. I have many friends and a few really close friends and I'm proud of who I am and my heart really is pure. I'm not a mean person and I have a good core. I come from good stock with an excellent and humble upbringing. I've seen and I've experienced struggle and even anguish and I've seen people pull themselves up from nothing. I've pulled myself up from feeling like nothing and those around me never even had a clue. I am that woman that will smile through hurt and pain, who will pray for the people who hurt or disappoint me and I am the woman that will get knocked down seven times and get back up eight times. I bet on me every single day and I know I am a winner. Life ebbs and flows. Just as fast as you can be up, you can be down but that's just the illusion of the outside world. Spirit, the core of who you are and the core of who I am remains the same and unchanging. It's love and when I remember who I am, I can't help but smile at the person in the mirror and feel acceptance and love. Having one of those moments when I know all is well and everything is unfolding exactly as it should and I just have to have faith and believe that my best days are ahead. 

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Auntie & Cleaning Duty...

This weekend is mostly about family and cleaning. My Sister and BIL are out of town so I'm on Auntie Duty to help out my parents who are keeping my nephew for the weekend. We went to his swim class this morning and to breakfast. We're planning to take him to see the Lego movie this afternoon which means nachos & popcorn! Yes! (Fist Pump...LOL)

I am also on sanitize the house duty since I've been home and sick with a nasty virus over the past week and a half. Everything needs a good wiping down so that's a big mission for this weekend. The 52-Week Cleaning Challenge starts for me tomorrow so I'm ready to organize & purge. I'm more of a minimalist at heart. Clutter is not my thing. 

I may go out tonight but it's snowing pretty hard right now and while the weather isn't appealing for driving, it would be good for me to get out of the house, mingle and have some fun. I've been in a bit of a funk being sick, isolated and alone. You never know what blessing you may cross paths with on a random night out in the city. 

Right now, I'm curled up on my couch watching the snow fall. Perhaps we'll throw in a snowball battle and some sledding this weekend. =)

Friday, February 07, 2014

Raggedy Struggling Chitown...

That moment you come home from a long day at work and go to hang up your work clothes and realize you have a giant hole in your shirt. I just took it off the dry cleaner hanger this morning. 

In November, I was taking a magic marker to my high heeled boots because I'd worn the hell out of them and back and I couldn't afford to buy another pair until December. Raggedy. 

Time for a shower and sleep. Shake my freaking head. I need to go shopping...

I Need Something Good...

Feeling a little crushed right now. Do you ever just need something good to happen to you? That's how I feel right now. I got some tough news today and there will be more to come at a later date but I just need something good and positive to happen to me and for me. So badly. Hope you guys have a good weekend.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Valentine's Day...

I am a sucker....I love Valentine's Day. I LOVEMESOMELOVE period! I love all the Hallmark Holidays. I know there's the theory and belief that every day should be Valentine's Day and it should. But on that day, I think I love it so much because there's an energy in the air that's so awesome. The collective vibration is higher on that day and you see more smiles and feel the positive energy. 

I love happy surprises and spontaneity. I love flowers, candy and cards with meaningful words. I keep cards too. All of them. lol I look at them whenever I get down to remember that happy times are possible. I look back and smile because it happened and I didn't take a second of it for granted. 

I love to see people happy, valued and appreciated. I love seeing couples walk hand in hand, sneaking a smooch or sharing a random hug while waiting for the streetlight to change. I love helping to plan surprises for others. It's fun. The smiles you get back are priceless. 

My best friend is always telling me that the thing about me is that I believe in love and I do. I am that hopeless romantic. She'll say, "the problem with you Chitown is you believe in love!" I just roll my eyes and laugh. I do, I do, I do! It resonates with me. When I give love, I feel amazing. When I talk badly about someone or act ugly, I feel awful because that's not me at all. I am that peace, love and happiness person. 

I don't like conflict and I try not to bring anything up unless it's going to matter a day from now, a week from now, a year from now. Nothing is perfect so I choose to see past the many imperfections and I try to only speak on the things I know make me feel bad to my core and spirit. Those are the things that will matter a day from now, week from now, year from now, period. Otherwise, you're like a boy who cried wolf. People don't know when it's a real make or break issue. I know I am not perfect and I am super sensitive when it comes to my feelings but I love hard and I love unconditionally.

I have that whole love conquers all mentality. lol Well it does. Because even when your heart is hurting and you feel broken in so many places to count, it's the love you have that can heal. Because when all the hurt and all the pain washes away with time, you realize that what was polishing you the entire time into the priceless gem that you are is love. In the end, that's all there is...Love. 

So how are you guys spending your Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Niagara Falls...

I got accepted into the Senior Leadership Program at the Bank which is a 10-month program to hone my leadership and management skills to take my career to the next level. My brother-in-law is finishing up the program but he already has direct reports. I'm proud of him too because he just got promoted. 

Now, the exciting part. lol The training kicks off in June in Toronto so I will probably parlay that trip into my Niagara Falls mini vacation since it's only 1.5 hours away. So, the flight can be on the Bank's tab and a few of my readers have mentioned that the Canada side is way better. Oh Yeah!!! =)

I am leading a review right now but I would love to find myself on a beach or riding up the CA coast in March. Hey...why not both?!?! Sounds wonderful. I am going to put that desire out into the Universe. Sun and fun would make my heart smile and give me something to look forward to. 

Under the Weather...

Today is Day 8 and I am still not right. My voice isn't back and I've got this cough and chest congestion. I'm pretty sure it's bronchitis but there's not much that can be done that I'm not doing. I just have to hope and pray it doesn't turn into anything serious like pneumonia with this weather. 

It's snowing pretty hard today and I saw one multi-car accident on my way to the train station. Our side of the street was almost blocked off. I was rushing a little this morning but stopped when my garage door wouldn't stay closed. I needed a shovel to knock down some of the snow and ice. Thankfully, I keep a small shovel in my trunk. I was on my way three minutes later but it looked like that accident might have occurred 5 minutes before I came upon it so I just think God was looking out. Whew!

I haven't seen my family in a week and I've been feeling alone and isolated. I was pretty sick and my Dad is just getting back from his surgery a couple of weeks ago so I didn't want to put him or my family at risk but especially him with his heart condition. My Mom stopped by to bring me meds over the weekend but she just came to the door to drop the stuff off. She called to ask me if I wanted dinner Monday night and I said sure and would come over and she was like...."ehhh...your sister can bring it to you!" LOL....I can't blame her. My house needs to be sanitized and I still sounded awful with no voice. I just told her I would make a salad and some soup at home. She felt bad but I told her not to worry about it and I'll get better soon. 

So it's just been me on my own. (Sigh) 

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

2014 Debt Reduction Plan...

Here is my debt reduction plan for 2014. This is the best case scenario. I will be happy with $20k-$25k in debt reduction but I am going for the gusto so I can be free sooner rather than later.

The promotional rate on my BofA credit card balance transfer was set to expire this month so I took advantage of two-0% transfer offers to my Chase and Capital One Credit Cards. This year, Chase is limiting balance transfers to $15,000 every 30-days. My current credit card balance is $17,100. So, I transferred $15,000 to Chase at 0% until 4/2015 with a 2% balance transfer fee so the new balance on my Chase card will be $15,300. I transferred the remaining $2,100 to my Capital One Miles card at 0% for 12 months with a 2% balance transfer fee so the new balance is $2,142. In April after quarter end, I am going to liquidate my ESPP stock and pay off the balance on my Capital One card and continue to pay $200/month towards my Chase card reducing the balance to $13,300 by year end. That will be my lowest credit card balance since 2009.

I will continue to liquidate stock every six months. With the bi-weekly pay schedule, twice a year I receive two extra paychecks. This year that will be in July and December. My annual bonus which was approx. $13,000 after taxes this year will also payout in December. To continue to make progress throughout the year, I will reduce Private Loan #1 by $2,400 in July, by $2,400 in October with stock sales and $2,400 again in December. Then, I will pay off the remaining balance on Private Loan #1, pay off Private Loan #2 and any remaining funds will go to reduce Private Loan #3.

So along with regular monthly payments, that will bring my debt reduction total to well over $20,000 for 2014 and then the following year, I will repeat with an additional $12,000 payout in December when my stock options vest. So, the goal is a minimum of $50,000 over the next two years and I know I can do it because I know it's possible.

In the meantime, I have $10,000 in reserves for car repairs, emergencies, etc. I will not be replacing The Green Machine (My Nissan Altima) anytime soon. Focus Chitown!

Monday, February 03, 2014

Back to Work...

I go back to work tomorrow but I'm still feeling icky. My head is hurting, my neck is hurting, my throat is hurting and I have sinus pressure. My voice is about 80% back. Time for meds and bed. I haven't been out of the house since I got home on Friday evening. I guess it will be nice to mix and mingle with the rest of the human population tomorrow. 

I just finished watching Love N Hip Hop Reunion Part #1 and it's just fun and foolishness. Women putting themselves out there for these men and getting so little in return. Women so hurt that they are lashing out in anger. Smoke & Mirrors. That's all this silly stuff is these days. It's entertainment. 

Relationships aren't so complicated to me. I believe it takes two things. Love and Commitment. Love is God and God is Love. So love is really unconditional. God doesn't show up to love you or want you only when you do this or that or better yet, only show up to love you when you do something the way he wants. True love is unconditional. It's the choice to be committed to the relationship that allows the love to continually heal wounds over time and flourish. There is no doubt that the person you love will hurt you and disappoint you from time to time. People are so imperfect that it's inevitable that they will disappoint you at some point or another. Most of the time, it's not even on purpose but the impact is still the same. It takes commitment to show up every day for your relationship. Love is the continual flow of Grace and Mercy. 

Time for meds & bed. Good financial post coming tomorrow. Sweet dreams!

Peyton Manning Fan...

I am a Peyton Manning Fan! The Guy is a Gamer and a good sport off the field.

Check out this article on Mr. MVP.

52-Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge

Have you ever heard about the 52-Weeks to an Organized Home Challenge?

I was reading Beachgirl's Budget Blog over the weekend and she and her fiancée are going the challenge. I clicked on the challenge link and read a little more and it sounds pretty cool. What is really nice is that you get an entire week to work on the task as opposed to most cleaning challenges that give you a day. I am going to try it because I love to be organized.

Here is the list of challenges. Just like the 52-Week Money Challenge, you can start whenever and it's not too late. I am going start next week and try to catch up when there is a week that doesn't apply (i.e. I don't have an attic to organize in a condo). I'll post pics and keep you posted like Beachgirl. 

I love positive challenges and projects. 

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Wish List Items...

Here is a picture of the Le Creuset French Oven we used to make the gumbo in cooking class. It looks just like the one below that's open to show all the yummy goodness. I like the color too. At first I was open to a smaller oven pot but I do hope to expand beyond cooking just for me so I will need a larger pot to accommodate. If I am going to get one, I may as well get the one that will remain with me for the long haul. This pot is about $300.

Here is the wallet style that I would like to go with my purse. I am usually not a signature gal but if you get more than one style of LV purse, the signature can probably go with either style and you won't necessarily "need" to get a new matching wallet. The wallets cost almost as much a a purse. This one costs about $725. Cute but expensive. =)

Seattle Seahawks...

Man that was a brutal Superbowl game to watch. I am a Peyton Manning fan but I have to give props to the Seattle Seahawks for showing up to play tonight! I mean they were ready and on point. You could tell from the very first snap that the Broncos weren't laser sharp and ready. I honestly didn't care who won the game and just wanted to be entertained by a good game and great commercials.

My hat is off to the Seahawks! They kicked butt tonight!

Called the Doc...

My Sis called and told me to call the doc's emergency line so she could call me in a prescription. I just called. Thankfully, the woman could understand me. Just waiting to hear back from the doc. My Mom said she'll go pick up the prescription when she calls it into Walgreens. So thankful for my family. So blessed to have them. No matter what, they show up and I show up for them. That's true love. Blessed! Hopefully, I'll finally be on the road to feeling better. 

*** Update: Doc called back and my symptoms point to a viral infection vs. bacterial so there are no antibiotics she can prescribe. I can only rest, push fluids, try not to talk and treat the symptoms. My Mom brought by more meds and I'm resting. Losing your voice is also more indicative of a viral infection. I have a tiny voice already so I am barely audible now. It's cool. She said it will be better in a few days. If not, to call back. I have Musinex now and that stuff is powerful. 

52-Week Money Challenge...

Finally! A Financial Post! =)

Has anyone ever heard of the 52-Week Money Challenge? Neither had I until my sister told me she and my brother-in-law were going to try it for fun. We were at Winter Wonderland at Navy Pier just chatting away while my nephew got on every slide and ride he could find. 

Anyway, she text me the 52-Week Challenge Table and it looked simple enough to give it a try. You start with $1 on the first week and increase by $1 each week until you're putting in $52 the final week for a grand total of $1,378 to spend on whatever. There is even a table for if you'd rather do the challenge based on your bi-weekly pay schedule. 

Some people use a jar but I decided this could be fun and I'm using one of my ING/Capital One 360 Savings Accounts and just gave the account a new nickname for the challenge. Every Friday, I make a transfer into the account and it's  done.   

You can start the challenge whenever. As one blog pointed out, it may not be the best challenge to start at the beginning of the year because the higher deposit weeks of $49/$50/$51/$52 will come around Christmas time but that's perfect for me since that's also bonus time. 

The concept flows with the whole slow and steady wins the race. The whole premise is that what you deposit into your challenge jar or account will accumulate. Perhaps one week you don't have the entire amount the challenge calls for and that's just fine. Don't beat yourself up. Simply put the amount you can deposit into the jar/account, cross off the week and keep it moving. It's supposed to be fun and you get a nice surprise in the end. Money to spend on you, a loved one, make a charitable contribution, give it to a stranger in need or a combination of things. It's your choice so have fun with the challenge and start whenever you please. 

I decided to start at the beginning of January and I have $15 saved already. I'll keep you guys posted on how it goes throughout the year. =)


I'm weak. I'm crying. 5 days straight of feeling like crap and I don't know if I'm getting any better. There's so much pain and I know I've already taken too much ibuprofen and cold medicine. I will definitely call the doctor tomorrow morning for antibiotics. I didn't want to deal with a ridiculous medical bill from urgent care just for them to prescribe me a z-pack.

It's times like this when I wish I had a partner. Someone to lean on who wouldn't mind making a bowl of soup or making a cup of tea or putting a load of laundry in so I can rest. Doing it all on my own still. I know God's plans are bigger than my own. I just have to surrender it all and believe he'll turn it around for good. I just have to remember that he won't put more on me than I can handle. 

I am going to email my new Team Lead and hopefully he will look at his Blackberry today. I am pretty sure I won't make into the office tomorrow for 3 meetings we have scheduled in the morning. Hopefully he can cover them or I can reschedule. I haven't had a voice since Thursday evening and my parents couldn't even understand me on the phone yesterday so I had to text them.  

It's going to be okay. This too shall pass. 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Gabby Douglas...

I just finished watching the Gabby Douglas movie on Lifetime. What an incredible young lady and inspirational story. She had such passion and laser focus to succeed at her goal of going to the Olympics. The age old adage that it takes a village to raise a child reigns true in her life. Family and strangers coming together to help her succeed and in the end become intricate parts of a journey that would inspire a country and many young children across the world. Love! 

Virus Beat Down...

It's 10:30 and I am still in the bed and I can't say I have any plans to move anytime soon. My throat is on FIRE!!! The coughing seems to have subsided a little primarily because I just won't cough. My throat hurts too bad. Now my sinuses are trying to start back up again. I'm usually pretty tough but Chitown is taking a serious beat down with this virus. 

I've tried everything. Advil Cold N Sinus, Vicks Vapor Rub, Ricolas, Ibuprofen Rest and Tea. 

Part of me is tempted to go to Urgent Care which is literally in walking distance but I know there is not much they are going to be able to do but give me a z-pack and send me home. I'm not running  a fever and there is less pressure on my chest so I can breathe. My throat just hurts really bad and I still don't have a voice so no talking for me today. 

I have three meetings scheduled for Monday morning so I have to get better and fast. Today is the day I usually go skiing with my Sister and Brother-in-Law up in Lake Geneva, WI which is right over the IL border but I'm glad we decided a couple of weeks ago to bypass the trip this year. There is no way I could take to the slopes today. I'd be on the sidelines drinking the hot apple cider while everyone else endulged in all the fun. 

The weather has been so funky in Chicago. Following the mildest Summer in my recent memory, we've already experienced a brutal winter and it's snowing more right now. 

I am looking forward to feeling better and to Spring and Summer. The bright side is that I'll be in the house all day so I won't spend any money. Hope you guys have a great day.