Monday, November 28, 2011

Remix Round Six: Shorty

This dress was my first-ever purchase from Modcloth:
Sci-Fi Heroine Dress
Totally cute, totally interesting to look at, totally too short. I wore it a couple time with leggings, but it was just so, so short that I never felt comfortable in it; plus, I have the kind of legs that just don't look good in leggings, so I still want to conceal them.  I finally reached the conclusion that this dress is just not a dress for me, but it is a shirt.  The only problem with that conclusion, is that this shirt has an elastic band really, really high.  It doesn't look like it in the picture, but it's right below the boobs.

I've contemplated for a while trying to shorten the skirt to make some kind of tunic, but the fabric is slippery nylon and hard to sew, so I fretted that I'd make this already unwearable dress even more unwearable.  I've come up with two potential solutions to this issue, and I now put it to the group for some feedback.

Exhibit A:

Sci-Fi Heroine Dress with high-waist interlock skirt from American Apparel
Disregard the tights--and the wrinkles
Exhibit B:

Sci-Fi Heroine Dress with High-Waist Grey Flannel Shorts
I'm not sure how I feel about the second outfit.  Could be cute, but also could be construed as "wacky" and that really drives me nuts.

Thoughts?  Or should I just give up and try to hem it?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Free Art! Link Love

Oh Canada!  What will they think of next?  Canada is phasing out paper money in favor of a polymer that is harder to counterfeit, more durable, recyclable and has a groovy maple leaf window on it.  The instructional video shows it off in all its glory, and the guy doing the narration seems to have run out of things to say because by the end he's just saying "Look at it."
It's clear!

Something pretty amazing happened to me this week, which resulted in me getting free, one-of-a-kind art used in a major Hollywood film.  Intrigued?  I would be.  I blogged about it on my other blog, since, aside from free art, it has nothing to do with frugality.

People can be really, really stupid about their money.  Obviously, I'm a budgeting nerd and know exactly where every penny goes, but there are a lot of people who are the complete opposite of that. Andrea at So Over Debt, takes on a couple of them,

Do you tip a lot for the holidays?  I never really have because I don't have people that I get regular services from i.e. trainer, cleaning person, but I admit I don't really know the rules.  Michelle at Making Sense of Cents tackled the subject and got some good comments too.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Food Waste Friday: I'm Throwing Out the Coleslaw

In between eating up leftovers to clear out fridgespace for more leftovers, and then eating a feast so decadent I never want to eat again, I have decided to pull the plug on the coleslaw.  It's just cold enough out that I do not want to eat it, and it's been in the fridge for like a month.  Plus, I double-checked with, and they tell me that coleslaw only lasts five days refrigerated, so, yeah.

Thanks to everyone who gave slaw-related advice--next time, I'll do better.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tips For Frugal Gift Giving

Note:  I'm not  hater, but I'm not much of a gift-giver.  Thankfully, my friend Melissa is!  I called upon her to lend some frugal advice about the upcoming holiday season.

The holiday season is approaching, and it’s that time of year to get ready for get-togethers and gift giving. Even if you’re trying to be frugal, that doesn’t mean gift giving has to be a drag, nor do you have to be “cheap” (after all, there is a difference!). As a lover of all things Christmas, and especially gift giving, here are some tips I find handy to avoid going broke during the holidays.

1.  Handmade gifts: There are endless tutorials on blogs and other websites that have thousands of ideas for gifts that can be handmade and thoughtful. One favorite of mine is this tutorial on making bookmarks out of paint chips. This is especially great for young children to give to parents. One handmade gift that I made this year is something for my mom and sister. My grandfather was musician and I found some old brass tuning slides in a box that I took while cleaning out the home he lived in with my grandmother. I almost pitched the slides, but it dawned on me that these would make great necklaces. All I had to do was purchase chain and bails to match, and I made one for myself as well. He passed away last year, and I know these necklaces will be loved.

2.  Make a list: Having a list of people that you give gifts to, which should include all friends, family, and service people (the mailman, dog sitter, and so on), will help to eliminate unnecessary spending. Another good idea is to set a price point for each person, and to not stray from it. A physical list with set price points eliminates the urge to go broke on a last minute gadget or commercial “must have” item.

3.  Shop after the season and in advance: This is one of my favorite ways to Christmas shop, because it makes everything affordable. Everything in stores is priced and set out according to seasons. Most people won’t be wearing shorts in February, so that’s why shorts end up $5 on the clearance rack at the end of August. This works especially well if you are shopping for people with specific hobbies. My husband loves to golf, and this year he expressed interest in building his golf wardrobe. At the end of the season, I bought him a nice pair of golf khakis that were originally $30, but paid only $7, because it was the end of the season.

4.  Make donations: Making donations to a cause that the gift-recipient supports is not only thoughtful, it also helps with staying on a budget. For example, if a sibling if really passionate about helping the homeless, donating $25 in their name, or even donating needed edibles to a food bank, is a wonderful gift that is not only thoughtful, but helps out other people as well.

5.  Give services: This is a great idea for loved ones, especially children. Most parents would love to receive the gift of a house cleaned top to bottom, or the give of having their garden weeded for a month. Services can be gifted creatively by making a book of services for the recipient to use, or even producing a framed image of the service. Last year, “the kids” pitched in for my in-laws to have their carpet cleaned, and they loved it.

6.  Be creative with free samples: Many companies rely on getting their products purchased by handing out free samples. While the immediate thought might be, “Free samples? How tacky!”, consider their usefulness. Last year, I made a creative gift for my husband by collecting samples of colognes, shaving gels, bath gels, and other manly cosmetics, and putting them inside of a gift basket. He used the samples at home and during short weekend or overnight trips, and liked trying out the new products!

When it comes down to it, gift giving should be fun, not stressful! If gifts just aren’t in the budget, don’t be afraid to say so if there is someone in the family seriously wondering why all of your gifts are handmade, or even free. After all, it really is the thought that counts when it comes to giving a gift that is meaningful.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Addicted to Esty

Why does it seem like these things always come in waves?  A friend of mine, posted on facebook that she and her mother were going to start selling headscarves on Etsy.  I checked out her page, and it turns out her stuff is AWESOME, so I totally bought one, then another one.

Then, my beautiful and stylish friend Melissa posted a picture of herself wearing the most fabulous Steampunk Houndstooth scarf I've ever seen.
So yeah.  The Etsy shop where she got this: Flutter, was having a 70% off sale and I'm not made of stone!  So I bought two (I told you, I always buy two of things), but they're totally cheap and unique, and, as Melissa pointed out--Made in the USA!  In fact, when I ordered my headscarf from my friend Rayna, she even sent me a personal message on facebook.  I mention all this because it reminds me a bit of when I was in San Diego at the zoo.

The San Diego Zoo is world famous (they put that on all the signs, so it must be true), and it is wildly overpriced.  It was $40 to get in.  That's $40 for everyone--very young, very old, students, doesn't matter.  That $40 gets you a whole day's worth of animal viewing including pandas that were actually awake, and the chance to have a chat with knowledgeable zoo keepers (I asked if the pandas actually have sex, or if they have to artificially inseminate them, which seems like a weird question until you learn that the pandas at San Diego Zoo are the ONLY pandas in zoos anywhere in the world who actually have sex with each other.  Pandas are so weird--adorable, but weird).  Plus, on everything in the zoo that was for sale, they included the line "More than 85 percent of every dollar you give will go toward the San Diego Zoo's wildlife conservation efforts."  So those wildly overpriced socks that I bought will help conserve wild spaces and save endangered species!  Worth it!

I think Etsy appeals to a person's charitable side, albeit in a less overt way.  If I buy another headscarf, I'm not only getting a gorgeous, hand-made product that will make me look good, I'm supporting Rayna and her  mom instead of some greedy corporate machine like Wal-Mart or something.  It's like the new push for Small-Business Saturday, which now follows Black Friday.

The trick is, to not let this line of thinking lure me into spending more money on stuff I don't need just because buying it makes me feel good.  It's still shopping, after all.  For my xmas shopping this year, I'm going to do what I normally do, and that is start at Craftland. Craftland is a treasure trove of home-made crafty goods that are actually awesome (not like the home-made ceramics statuettes my Aunt Betty used to make and give as gifts), like this t-shirt I bought last year:

Everything is made by local artists, there's an incredible variety of stuff and it's just fun to go there.  Plus, I always secretly hope that I'll be walking around in a fabulous scarf or accessory of some kind, and someone will come up to me and say, "that scarf you're wearing, I made it, I'm glad you like it". That never happens at Old Navy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Really?!?!? Link Love

This is very cool.  Instead of building a bridge over a body of water--build a trench through it! Obviously this wouldn't work on a tidal river or a body of water that changes depth frequently--but I still think it's pretty cool.

No doubt everyone has heard that the US Congress this week declared that the tomato paste on pizza counts as a vegetable.  I'm glad that I'm technically a grownup, because I feel like kids today don't have a chance anymore.  If you can't count on your school to provide a balanced, healthy meal according to what's actually healthy, then what are you supposed to do?  What kid is going to seek out broccoli because he feels like he's not getting enough fiber?  Anyway, Seth Meyers and Kermit The Frog say it better than I could.

I'm finally using Pintrest.  Right now, I'm mostly posting pics of vintage fashion and animals doing cool things, but I may expand my repertoire some day... Maybe...

Bunny Dressage!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bad Habits

This was an interesting little exercise that Michelle over at Making Sense of Cents did the other day: Bad Habits you Need to Kick in your 20's.  Since I'm a sucker for anything tht looks like a quiz, I decided to try it out as well.

1. Tanning.

--I have been tanning twice in my life. Once upon a time, my mother went tanning before we went on a cruise (to get a nice base--is that really a thing?  Does that actually work?) and she roasted her butt so badly that she couldn't wear underwear and had to sit on an ice pack for a couple of days.  When she was at her worst, she made me promise that I would never, ever go tanning.  I've broken a number of promises to my mother, so that's not why I don't go tanning, it's because I don't change color really when exposed to sun.  Plus it's expensive and boring.

The two times I went, I did so because I was living in Fargo, ND, where winter starts in October and doesn't let up until May (though there have been blizzards in May).  A co-worker told me that she often went tanning in the winter because it was just so nice to be warmed completely through, and that being somewhat tan actually makes you feel warmer overall. I agree, it did help, but it was just too boring to me.

2. Having credit cards with high limits (and maxing out these limits).

--Nope!  Used to have this problem, but not anymore.

3. Smoking.

--I smoked in college--I was an English major, afterall, but when cigarettes doubled in price, I took up runnning instead.  Running probably costs me much more than smoking, but it will make me live longer and I actually enjoy it (I never really liked smoking that much, I just liked having something in my hand).  Plus, as I've never been considered a traditional beauty, I've always been quite concerned with ageing well, and cigarettes certainly don't help you do that.

Best anti-smoking ad for women that I can think of, comes unintentionally from a book of poetry I found one day while working at B&N:
Anne Sexton-- Young, hot and smoking like a chimney

Anne Sexton a few years later.
4. Shopping. Shopping purely for labels and not quality or what you need.

--P'shaw! I've always been too poor to shop for labels.

5. Expensive drinking.

--I do drink, but usually at home and usually cheap stuff.  I do enjoy the occasional martini at the bar, but do that maybe every two months.  Thankfully, our local cheap beer is actually tasty, and I enjoy the occasional box of wine (not all in one sitting--see above about ageing well).

6. Depending on your significant other. Both of you should have equal say about your finances.

--We split utilities and groceries and buy our own other stuff.

7. Not having a budget.

--I've had my spreadsheet budget for going on four years now, and now I have a backup.  I'm addicted to budgeting!

How about you?  Do you have any bad habits you need to cut?  Can you think of any other bad habits that got you into trouble in your 20's?  I was a bit of a dumbass, overall, but have reigned it in considerably. I think my biggest expense back then, was actually books.  I worked at a large corporate bookstore, and spent more on books than my paycheck could comfortably handle. That's why librarianship is my chosen profession--no chance of that here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Food Waste Friday: How Long Does Coleslaw Last?

I don't think I actually tried coleslaw for the first time until I was at least 25.  I received a lot of coleslaw at various restaurants, but, like that piece of parsley served as garnish, I never actually thought people ate it.  This headline from The Onion confirmed my suspicions: 85 percent of US Coleslaw Remains Uneaten.

Funnily enough, when I was in New Orleans in June, I was served coleslaw, ate it, and really enjoyed it.  I suspect it was for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. In addition to coleslaw, I was served Macaroni and cheese, creamed spinach and bread pudding i.e. the coleslaw was refreshingly light.
  2. It's so flinging-flanging hot in New Orleans in June that I was thrilled to eat something cold.
  3. I am now a grownup and grownups eat things like coleslaw.
A couple weeks ago, Poor Girl Eats Well posted a recipe for Coleslaw that got the gears in my head churning, and started making me crave the stuff to the point of distraction.  I was convinced that if I became the kind of girl who eats a lot of coleslaw, I'd both lose girth and save money.  Cabbage is dirt cheap, yo.  What ended up happening instead, is that I panicked at the thought of shredding cabbage (how!?!) and bought the bagged coleslaw, which is just bagged, shredded cabbage, and then I didn't know what to add to it to make it taste like the slaw I'd had in New Orleans.  So I guessed.  I guessed poorly.

I added too much mustard and it just tasted like mustardy cabbage-- not good. I was going to try to rinse the whole mess in my fine mesh sieve, but what can I say, I am lazy.  So I've had disappointing cabbage hogging my fridge real estate for going on three weeks now.  I opened the contained the other day, convinced I'd find a science experiment, but it looks and smells totally fine.  I put it to the group: Do I have food waste, or just disappointing coleslaw that I should find a way to salvage?  Sub-question: How does one salvage disappointing coleslaw?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cost Per Use

I often want to buy sweater dresses, but when I try them on,
they look like they're wearing me instead of the other way around...
Cost per use is something I try to think about, but often fail to think about despite my trying (which I usually do after the fact).  It's a good idea, in theory, but I don't really know exactly how it works.  It seems like, if we 're looking at something like clothes (my biggest budget FAIL) you'd have to assign values to wearings before shopping--possibly be creating some sort of spreadsheet, and that starts to sound like that hateful meal planning I'm always dissing.

For example, let's say that I decide I'd pay $2 to wear a sweater.  That means I'd have to wear a $25 sweater 12.5 times in order to make it a worthwhile purchase.  That makes sense, but it fails to factor in other unknowns at the time of purchase.

  1. Will this sweater wear well?  I've bought this brand before, and I've examined the weave, but what if it shrinks or pills?  Is it my fault if I didn't consider that?  
  2. Do I have to feel guilty if I fail to reach my allotted useages due to shoddy craftsmanship?
  3. Can I change my mind later and say that this sweater was worth $5/ wear just because I'm sick of putting it on?
  4. Do I have to record somewhere, possibly in another spreadsheet, how many times I've worn this sweater, or am I expected to just remember it?
  5. How can you expect me to remember something like that?
This is what I struggle with when debating the cost per use issue.  

When I was in high school, a friend of mine had a similar technique.  As we were both working menial jobs for meager wages, she would look at a price tag and factor in how many hours of work she would have to do in order to get the sweater.  Is this sweater worth five hours of my time?  This seems much more concrete to me, but harder to do on a professional salary.  Since I make more than minimum wage, I tend to look at items and think--that's only a half hour's work!  I can't pass up a deal like that!  Then I get that red line in that reminds me my budget doesn't care about how few hours I'd have to work to get something, and I wind up with a closet full of clothes I feel lukewarm about.

Some things that do resonate with me as being poor cost per use include:

Online Coupons.  The amount of money your're saving by using coupons is often probably equivalent to what you're spending on ink and paper.  Sure, paper is cheap, but printer ink is decidedly not, and often if you're printing a single coupon from a manufacturer's site, they fill the rest of the page with an advertisement that uses up even more of your ink. When I was using my home printer to do this, I had a hard time getting the black and white setting to stick as well and wound up with a full-color coupon for trail mix, which I don't think I ever actually used. I print most of my online coupons from sites like redplum or because you can fit three on a page and it seems slightly less wasteful.  I also print them off at work--shh!

Driving further to get cheaper gas.  As beautifully and hilariously as this cartoon details, driving further for cheaper gas is often a silly use of your time, BUT it's certainly something I've done and will do in the future.  My thoughts on the matter--I'm not that busy, and it's my choice.  Sometimes it's just a good feeling to fill up the gastank for less than $40.  When I do seek out those cheaper gas stations, I'm often bundling that trip with a visit to the grocery store or Target or something, so I'm not just driving to get gas--I'm running important errands. I also frequently fill out online surveys that take 15 minutes and only pay $3.  Is that a huge waste of my time-- maybe, but I wasn't making any money farting around on facebook either, so I still come out ahead.

Going to five different grocery stores to get all of the deals.  We get two grocery store flyers shoved through the mail slot weekly, and there are many times that I've been super-tempted to do a 2x weekly shop, but thankfully my laziness and hatred of shopping have saved me more than once once.  Unless the deal is AMAZING and the store is near where I'm going to be anyway, I just don't do this.  Unless you're a much stronger person than me, you will most likely see other deals that you want to take advantage of, especially if you're in a store with an unfamiliar layout.  Sure, most grocery stores are pretty similar, but there's always subtle differences that send me down an unfamiliar aisle and then I'm confronted with strange foreign chocolates not available at my usual store that I must take advantage of!  For example: My store of choice is Stop and Shop, BF prefers Shaw's.  Both are pretty much the same except my store shelves P&G Tips tea with the rest of the tea and Shaw's puts it in the British section.  The British section is also where the ultra-expensive imported candies like Aero bar and Digestive Biscuits and Jaffa Cakes are, and I need to avoid remembering how much I would like to eat more Digestive Biscuits--especially at $6 for 15 cookies.

Anyone else have any other Cost Per Use hangups or tips?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Holy November Link Love

It's November. I don't really have strong feelings about November except that it's a gateway to the HOLIDAY SEASON, which actually began this year in late August, I believe.  No matter, November is a month of pumpkin flavored offerings, and I will not complain about that.  I love me a gourd.

This November, my friend Nicolette is trying out a No-Buy-Vember, which is very clever wordplay--and I wish her luck.  When I saw how clever that name is, I was tempted to try it myself, but let's be honest, I'm still reeling from No New Clothes in October, so I would fail at No-Buy-Vember just as I always have at other No-Buy Months.  I am a weak, weak girl.  Good luck, Nicolette!!

This is awesome: pre-made salad in a jar.  All you have to do is assemble, throw it in the fridge, and then shake before eating.  Brilliant!!  Eat your veggies, people!

Top 10 Style Essentials according to Tim Gunn, and broken down by my friend Melissa.  I love Tim Gunn.  I feel like he would look at my wardrobe, offer helpful critique and then I would just feel good about myself even if he said "replace everything--what were you thinking?!"

How to resuscitate stale crackers--brilliant!  I quit buying saltines because I could  never finish a packet without them going bad--maybe I'll try this next time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Food Waste Friday: Nothing!

It's another No Waste Week for me! After that horrible trip to the grocery store, this is a particularly sweet little victory.  I've been putting off going to the store, and eating down the fridge and pantry  and it's paid off! I have some salad that needs eating, but I'll get to that today--huzzah!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Bought Groceries Last Night, and It Was Painful

Checking the cost per ounce
I have been putting off going to the store for a while now.  I've gotten a few drips and drabs here and there, but haven't really done a big shop for several weeks.  Mostly it's because my work schedule is too hectic, but also because I'm just dreading spending the money.  Finally, we ran out of bread, and I went shopping.

Despite the fact that I left the store with a full cart, it felt like one of those trips where I didn't really buy anything. I got a lot of ingredients and a lot of odds and ends, and it cost (brace yourself) $165.  About 2/3 of the items I bought were on sale or I had a coupon, and I still spent $165!  I feel ill.  I noticed a few things while at the store.

1. The cost of cheese has skyrocketed.  I usually buy the store brand of brick cheese, which, since I moved to RI five years ago, was frequently on sale for $4 for 2.  Now, it's always $3.49 and the package has gotten smaller.  It used to be ten ounces, now it's eight.  The manufacturer changed the design from a square to a rectangle, presumably to make it look bigger than it is, but it just looks tiny.

2. Eggs are way up too.  I've started buying the carton of 18, and it was $3.59

3. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why this shopping trip cost so much.  I did indulge in a slightly fancier variety of yogurt, but it was on sale so was hardly more expensive than my usual.  I feel like the price of everything I bought was just slightly higher.  The tomatoes I bought were $4 for four, even though they were on sale as well.  Asparagus was $4.67--so I am going to make damn sure I eat this produce before it goes bad. I also bought more meat than usual for bf--bratwurst, pepperoni.

Plans for the future?

  • Well, I'm going to stick with the barley--just keep adding it to everything.
  • Over the winter, I'm going to cut way back on fresh produce and stick with frozen--there's no price increase there so far.
  • I'm going to cut way down on my consumption of snacky foods like chips and crackers.  That's been something I've been working on anyway--for my waist and my budget--but have you seen the price of crackers lately!?!?  Unreal.
  • I'm going to keep on rekindling my love of the bean--up next, vegetarian chili!
  • I'm going to eat a lot of potatoes, which I also love.

Anyone else have any tips for how to save at the store without starving?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Could I Live on Minimum Wage?

I've mentioned before that the state where I live, Rhode Island, is consistently top ten for highest unemployment (go Little Rhody!), and I know from encountering a lot of unemployed people in the public library, that most of them are willing to do just about anything to get back to work.

Two years ago, I was in that same position--hustling for every last penny, doing everything I could to make just a little bit of money and applying for every job I came across.  At that time, my only thought was that I had to keep some money coming in, so my savings account wouldn't be gutted in six months. I looked at my income differently because instead of trying to get ahead, I was trying to stop myself from inevitably getting behind--if that makes sense.

The first real job I got after finishing grad school, was the 19-hour-a-week position I still have.  That earned me just enough money to break even each month.  But I also get paid a professional salary.  My job requires a masters degree, and since it's at one of the largest libraries in the state, they pay about $5 more per hour than my job at the smaller library did.  Even with that, it was a struggle, so, inspired by this post at So Over Debt, I decided to run the numbers and see if I could actually live working 40 hours per week on minimum wage.

As of 2007, the minimum wage in the state of Rhode Island is $7.40.  That works out to $1184 per month before taxes.  Rhode Island also has one of the highest rates of state income tax, so let's just estimate that the monthly take-home pay is $1000.

Presently my budget breaks down this way:
Rent:            $560
Utilities:        $100 (varies month-to-month, but this is a fair estimate)
Food:           $150 ($300 for the two of us, but I'm just looking at myself here)
Gas:             $150 (varies, but this is the average)
Household:  $50 (toilet paper and the like).

Total: $1010, which means that any kind of financial emergency completely wipes me out and I'm using savings just to get by (assuming the me in this scenario has savings).  Car dies?  Car stays dead, and I can't get to work anymore.  I also left off the $50/ month for my phone--if I was only earning $7.40/hour, I'd just get rid of it. I only really use it as an alarm clock anyway.  Let's do some tweaking.

Let's say that instead of working two jobs and commuting 28 days a month, I just have one job within walking distance from my house.  If I worked at the Dunkin Donuts five blocks away, I could sell my car and stop buying gas.  That would save me the $150 per month on gas, and also the $350 I'm getting charged this year in car tax from the city.  The downside to that is, I'd have to start shopping at the two markets closest to me, which are significantly more expensive than where I usually shop.

That would make my budget look about like this:

Rent:            $560
Utilities:        $100
Food:           $200
Gas:             $10 ($10/a month if I start using BF's scooter, but it scares me, or $10/month bus fare)
Household:  $100 (toilet paper and the like).

Total: $970.  At least I'm not over, but I could never make any student loan payments, or really save anything.  Potentially, I could save on household items if I took the bus out to Target or another store where items like that are cheaper than the places within walking distance.  This budget means no clothes, no eating out, no doctor or dentist visits, no retirement savings, no vacations ever.

This little experiment does make me grateful that I have pretty much everything I need within walking distance.  I have access to two grocery stores, plenty of corner stores, a library and even a farmer's market in the summer.  I could survive, but certainly couldn't thrive, and the thought of living one paycheck away from financial ruin certainly would impact my quality of life.

How about you?  Could you do it?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Addicted to Seltzer?

Holiday Flavors!
I like to think that I'm impervious to advertising.  I'm not, but I still like to think that in the hopes that it will one day be true.  Overall, I do do pretty well in that area.  I've mentioned before that the thrill of gadgetry holds no appeal for me; I don't get excited about a lot of expensive snack foods and I pretty much never go into expensive clothing stores (though that might be a problem, but I'm still trying to figure that all out).  I take a lot of online surveys that usually deal with products I would never buy, and I scoff inwardly at the fact that people would waste their hard-earned cash on something so silly--but then I found myself in this odd predicament.

I just read the book Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Scoblic, which is a memoir about alcoholism, which contains no advertising of any kind.  Except when the author stops drinking and mentions how hard it is to get a seltzer at a party, I started craving seltzer.  I guess this isn't a bad thing--seltzer is pretty cheap--$1.65 for a six-pack, but that's not as cheap as the non-seltzer water that I typically drink, but I'm also kind of digging the carbonation.

Overall, I'm not displeased at this turn of events, just baffled.  Going the seltzer route may even save me money in the long run because possibly I'll drink less beer(?)  I did invent a frugal cocktail the other day-- the boxed wine spritzer.  One part boxed sangria (about $10 for a 5-liter box) to one part some kind of seltzer (I think I used cranberry lime)--fizzy delight in a cup!

So maybe I'm not as impervious to advertising or suggestion as I think, or maybe my body was just really craving carbonation--who knows, but I'll just go with it and see if the mania dies down, or if I become that girl who brings her own seltzer to parties.