Saturday, January 16, 2010

Budget Busters

How many of you out there use a monthly budget? Or maybe I should ask--how many of you begin each month with a budget and then blow it before end of the month?

I'm one of those people who can’t figure out how come I'm down to a few measly dollars in the checkbook and yet there's still a week to go before next payday.

This year one of my resolutions is to monitor our family spending and try harder to stick to a budget. Everything was going just peachy this month until I hit a snag on January 2--son's retainer falls out of mouth at work (that's what he says) and it cracks. $70 for a replacement. My first challenge--an unexpected expense.

I used money from the entertainment and dining fund to pay for the retainer. That crossed off one family meal at Olive Garden. Not a problem. I substituted a take-out pizza from Costco for $10 bucks. Kids were still happy and the budget remained intact.

January 5 I hit pothole and lost a hubcap on van. Dealership wanted to charge $95 for a new hubcap, but hubby found a deal on EBay for $35. Great--I voted for EBay. Okay, so I dock the entertainment fund another $35. Grab another pizza from Costco and when my teenagers grumbled I gave the starving-children-in-Africa lecture and they shut up.

Everything happens in three's, right? January 11 I realize that I've lost my Social Security card--can’t find it in the file I usually keep it in at home and it's not in my purse. A replacement costs $19 if I request one online or free if I drive a billion miles from home and stand in line for three hours at the nearest social security office. I'm sorry, but the kids can eat another Costco pizza--I'm not wasting the gas my time.

See my dilemma? I've got two more weeks to go before the month is over and who knows what budget busters will happen next? Maybe I've got the wrong goal--instead of keeping to a budget, maybe I should build up an emergency fund I can dip into each month.

Anyone else in the same boat as me? Or am I out here sailing the budget-buster sea alone?

A Cowboy Christmas (Dec 09)
Dexter: Honorable Cowboy (July 10)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sexy Heroes and Heroines

Earlier this week I was surfing channels and caught the end of a show counting down the sexiest actors of the big screen. Newman won. No argument there. Whew, those baby blues. Okay, so I admit that I sat there all googoo eyed, but it made me wonder. I'm an extremely visual person. Not only when I'm writing, but also when I'm reading, I cast my characters. For years if a hero was blond, I visualized Redford, then Pitt or McConaughey. If he had dark hair it might be Brosnan, Depp, or Keanu and there are many, many others. All builds, personality types, and ages. I cast the heroines also and even at times secondary characters. It makes the book come alive for me.

Am I the only crazy person who does this? When you pick up a new book, do you cast your characters?

Just for fun, who are the actors (male or female) who show up most often?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Crossed Eyeballs & Dog Naps

Daisy in the snow. This was one of the few times she didn't run off!!

My head hurts!!!! My eyes feel crossed and my cheeks swollen and achy. I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, but this has been going on since Christmas, and the constant pain is getting old!!

When I first started writing, I attended every conference I could afford in order to soak up wisdom from pubs and editors. One thing that soon became clear was that in order to be a professional writer, one needs to write. Every day. No exceptions. Well, while that's a wonderfully noble idea I do my best to achieve, lately, I'm failing miserably!! My normal ten to twenty pages are down to three to five.

Hubby keeps telling me to go to the doctor, which seems like a no brainer, but I know she's going to give me antibiotic which makes me throw up. I would rather have a broken leg than a stomachache, meaning here I sit, still whining.

On the upside, my dogs are thrilled with the extra naptime!!

Anyone have old school advice on how to tame unruly sinuses?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I just returned from a trip to San Antonio and it was not the sunny and sixty I was expecting. When we arrived on Wednesday it was typical of South Texas - warm and humid - but during the night a "blue Norther" (that's what we call a cold front that can drop the temp forty degrees in an hour) roared in. By Thursday morning the numbers on the thermometer had plummeted and the wind was howling. For two straight nights it bottomed out in the mid-teens. I grew up in South Texas and believe me I had never seen anything like it. It fact, it was an all-time record low. There's a fountain in the courthouse square that had morphed into a beautiful ice sculpture, and the reports of frozen pipes were legion. Oh yeah, San Antonio and its environs took a major hit.

My hubby is something of a weather fanatic so I was forewarned - thank goodness! I had my Buffalo coat (so named because I bought it in Buffalo, NY) so I was good to go. Not so for most of the natives. My sister who lives in Las Vegas was there and I thought she was going to shake herself to death. My daughter on the other hand came from Pittsburgh and she said it was like a nice spring day.

So, I didn't get to sit on the patio and sip Margaritas - although I did try to eat my way through South Texas - but I made it to El Mercado where I bought a Talvera hand painted sink. I thought the store owners were going to have a fiesta for us - we were the only people in the market. What's that saying about mad dogs, Englishmen and the noon day sun? Believe me, that works in reverse.

The good news is that San Antonio is back to normal, and even better the first day of spring is only a little over two months away.

Ann DeFee
Top Gun Dad, HAR, October 2009
Hill Country Hero, HAR, February 2010