Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Planning for the Inevitable

So I’m a weird person. I think we all can agree on that.

I mean, I reorganize my clothing closet for fun on a Wednesday night, and I actually order a book called “Death for Beginners” to put my affairs in order at the ripe ole age of 28.

After my father’s death, I realized that I needed to put things together just in case something ever happened to me. Now, my husband is an incredibly smart man but dealing with the affairs of a house while trying to plan a funeral is a horrible thing to put on the shoulders of a surviving spouse. I don’t want him to have to spend hours figuring out which bank account the rent comes from and what bills are auto-paid and which ones have to be authorized. I want an organized transition, as much as that is possible. My dad did that for my mom, and it was really helpful.

However much I thought I should take care of it, I kept putting it off. It’s REALLY hard to think about how your spouse will deal with the affairs of the household when you’re gone. Because, um, you’d be dead. Well, either that, or in a coma or some other awful thing that I really don’t want to think about.

BUT I have to do it. I have to. It’s not fair to leave your affairs in complete disarray.

When my grandma passed in September, she had everything organized. She told my mom where the important file was and even where the “deed” to the family cemetery plot was (it was right where she said it would be, written in 1929 on a piece of cardboard. We loved it!). She had put everything together when she got remarried, because she knew that it would be easier for her family if it was all organized. There’s still a lot to do but at least we know where all the titles are and what kinds of accounts are out there.

So that leads me to my random Sunday afternoon of planning my funeral and organizing my affairs into a “Hit by a Bus File.” I read Death for Beginners: Your No-Nonsense, Money-Saving Guide to Planning for the Inevitable by Karen Jones which is actually an amusing book (and a quick read) that lays out all the options of how to handle your body after your die, what the options are for a funeral and so on. It is kind of a hard read to think about that being YOU they’re talking about burying but I feel more comfortable about the decisions for my final resting place now. I know I’m only 28 and these choices may change, but should I get hit by a bus tomorrow, my husband will not have to remember what song I wanted to be sung at my funeral. (It’s “How Beautiful” in case you’re wondering.)

Because that’s the thing – this book’s website has a full PDF download of a huge planning document. It has a checklist of the different options of burial, cremation, donation to science, all that! It has a place to record which songs to be sung and readings to be done at the funeral. Then, it has pages and pages of prompts to list things like bank accounts, passwords, financial information, what to include in your obituary, who to contact to inform them of your death, insurance information and other information like leases on random properties and more. It is a complete list that printed out, filled out, and placed in an important place (remember to tell someone about it, too!) it organizes all your affairs in a way that won’t burden your loved ones when they are grieving. In the case of a coma or other horrible thing that makes you unable to run your house, it’s also really helpful for someone to know that information to keep your affairs going until you can return to them.

I wasn’t compensated for this, but someone on Twitter asked me to post about it, and I think it’s really important to have things organized like this. Take an afternoon, print it out, and fill in the blanks. If something happens, you’ll feel better knowing that your loved ones can have all the information they need.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Would Love to Take the Credit, But…

Meghan at Unintended Housewife posted a comment on my Thanksgiving recap yesterday about those acorn treats and how she wanted the recipe. So I must be honest – I did not make them! My cousin’s wife who hosted us for the fabulous meal was the one responsible. But I sure ate my weight in those, along with the baked brie.

I remembered seeing a tutorial on Pinterest about these same goodies, so I’ll link to Kristen at We are THAT Family for a great tutorial.

But there are two points that my cousin told me about how she did hers. She had a bag of regular kisses AND a bag of cherry cordial ones and used both bags. I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of cherry cordials but they added a nice element to the peanut butter and chocolate.

Also, since she’s a real baker, she ended up using icing (I think) to adhere the peanut butter sandwiches to the kisses. She whipped it up real quick and that was easier for her.

For someone who is looking for an adorable dessert to bring to a party, I would recommend these from the guest’s perspective – they were YUMMY and I could not keep my hand out of them all day long. Kristen and of course my cousin’s wife seemed to think they were pretty easy.

Happy acorn making!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap

Thanksgiving 2011 (6)

This was the first Thanksgiving without my Grandma. My only cousin on my mom’s side and his wife hosted us (his mom, my mom, my brother and my husband) for Thanksgiving this year and did a dynamite job. They still had some of the photos we displayed at the funeral up on their buffet and it made me smile the Grandma’s high school picture (the bigger one) and her second wedding day (the smaller one to the right of the big one) were in a prominent place and reminded us that she was still with us.

Thanksgiving 2011 (2)

My mom bought the tablecloth and napkin rings last year and my cousin’s wife reused them this time around! But she upped the ante with the centerpiece. Those silk flowers were GORGEOUS. I don’t know where she found such good ones!

Thanksgiving 2011 (5)

I almost skipped dinner to eat the baked brie. It was magical.

Thanksgiving 2011 (7)

Thanksgiving 2011 (9)

Thanksgiving 2011 (14)Thanksgiving 2011 (11)Thanksgiving 2011 (13)

It was such a great combination of food, family, football and late night shopping. I love Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Missouri Border War–A Thanksgiving Tradition

2011 Borders Wars

My family loves football, even though none of us went to a school that had a particularly strong football tradition. In fact, my and Husband’s alma mater of dear St. Louis University, has been undefeated in football since 1949. Hehe. That might be because we haven’t played a football game since then!

In any case, the past few years that we’ve been spending Thanksgiving in Kansas City with my mom’s family, some contingency of the group has gone to the Border War – the Mizzou/Kansas football game. Sometimes it’s warm and sometimes it’s not. Today, it was not!

We had fun at the game, but the thing that got me was the Kansas fans. They were just plain rude. Now, I’m all for cheering on your team and booing the refs for a particularly bad call, but this was beyond that. We were sitting in the Kansas section unfortunately, but still, there were some other Missouri fans around us.

During a M-I-Z-Z-O-U cheer, we heard “sucks” right after our ‘Z-O-U’. This actually happened a couple of times before I turned around to the Kansas fans and said that it was really sad that they were doing that and that WE didn’t do that during their cheers. They had a young kid with them, which is encouraging the next generation to be as rude as the parents are.

I overheard them a few minutes later saying then why did our fans boo their marching band. I told my brother who was sitting next to me that it’s wrong to boo the alma mater, the other team’s band or cheerleaders.

When I was a cheerleader in high school, I feel like we were held to a higher standard than what was displayed at Arrowhead stadium today. We took a knee when a player from the other team had an injury, and we shook hands with the other team at the end of the game.

Am I missing something? When did it become ok to boo the marching band?! Let’s stay classy and give a nice round of applause on a good play and listen to the band as they’re marching on the field in 42 degree weather. And for the love of God, let’s get excited for that poor twirler in the middle of the field wearing only a leotard!

It’s only a game, after all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving Law

Tonight at dinner with Mom, Brother, my only cousin on Mom’s side and his wife, we were delighted to hear Mom’s philosophy on Thanksgiving meals.

I give it to you in one law and its corollary, so you may enjoy your Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Mom’s Thanksgiving Law One:

There are two types of people in this world – those who want a traditional holiday meal each year, with the same dishes the same way, every time; and then there are those who want to spice it up each year and make changes to the menu.

Mom’s Thanksgiving Corollary:

In addition to the above, there are also two other types of people – those who plan and cook the meal; and those who eat the meal. Those who eat the meal can’t complain about the choices made by the type of people above, because THEY DIDN’T COOK IT.

Mom also told us that there’s a third type of person under the corollary – that’s her, because she offered to plan and cook and do everything but was told by my cousin’s wife that it was ok, and my cousin’s wife would cook everything at her house this year. So given that she offered, Mom has the right to offer her opinion on dish selection, even though she was not involved with the cooking.

Thank you, skinny margaritas at 54th Street Bar and Grill on the day before Thanksgiving, for giving us this law. We will ever be appreciative of the knowledge!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Think There’s Something in the Water

You know the expression, when it rains, it pours?

I feel like this it totally the case the past few weeks. Two girls at the office, two family members and countless blog friends. All have announced that they are expecting a precious addition to their families sometime later this year or next.

Everyone says that there is no “right” or “good” time to have a child. I’ve been told you are never “ready” – you never have saved up enough money, or have a big enough house, or done enough adventuring before a baby comes.

I know that we are still a one-income family with a full-time law student. I know that I do not want to be pregnant when Husband is studying hard core for the bar exam (and possibly taking it twice, depending on the job offers!). I absolutely know that we need to have more savings before bringing another human being into this world. I hear they like to eat, and I’d like to be able to provide enough of that for him or her!

But every time a blog friends posts their sonogram, or every time the cousin emails me the update from the doctor, or I see the gal at work waddling down the hallway with her adorable baby bump peeking out from her dress, I think… why do we have to wait again?

Someday, that’ll be me. Someday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Song Brings Me Back to My Favorite Place

I follow a lot of blogs. My husband would say too many, in fact. I think I may have a problem.

But that’s not the point of this blog. I wanted to tell you what I found in one of my awesome blog feeds a few days ago.

Kristin from Couponing to Disney has great ideas on how you can save using coupons and other deals, and thereby saving enough money to make your trip to Disney to possible. She also posts random fun tidbits about Disney and I just can’t get enough of sites like that! A few days ago, she posted about free ringtones that were Disney related. Free and Disney? Sign me up!

She gave the link to and a few users who have created/uploaded (?) songs to be used as ringtones and even text tones! They’re free and if you have an iPhone, there’s a way to open them straight into iTunes and have them appear in that ringtones tab. Copy them over to the phone when its connected to the computer and bam, they’re there for you to use! You could also have the ringtone texted but I wanted to be sure to have the back up in iTunes, just in case.

I found some amazing songs to use for Christmas and Halloween but right now? My general tone is In the Big Blue World… from Finding Nemo the Musical, one of my favorites. And when my husband calls me, it sings me some of the Illuminations soundtrack, which is Husband’s favorite nighttime show at the World. For my mother-in-law, it’s the Celebration Theme from 2009, which almost makes me cry every time I hear it. Finally, I gave my mom the ringtone from Impressions de France, which is Debussy – it really reminded me of her.

I don’t want to assign any more specific ringtones to other favorite callers because I’m getting used to the specific tones right now! I wanted to be able to determine who was calling based on the ring and not have to look at the phone. That will help me out because most of the time, one of those people above calls me while I’m in the car, and I have my Bluetooth headset in and it would be great to know who’s calling without grabbing the phone. I really want one of them to call me so I can hear how the ringtones are working! But seriously, guys, don’t do it right now – you’ll call me at some point, I know. Smile

Do you have specific ringtones for specific callers or simply a general tone for everyone who calls you?

*this blog was not sponsored by anybody – I just like the links!*

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Isn’t Technology Supposed to Make Things Easier?


This has nothing to do with my problem, but the app cupcakes are so cute!

I was all set to blog a long ranting post about my iPhone and the problems I’ve been having with syncing my Google calendar there with my online calendar.

Dear Husband and I use Google Calendar and Google Docs to keep organized – we each can see each other’s calendar and know when someone is in class, or when someone is free one night to set up a date with another couple or what have you. It really comes in handy!

So when my iPhone calendar wasn’t syncing with my online calendar after I added an item on the phone, it was SO frustrating. I’m addicted to my phone (seriously, I am – just ask my husband!) and when it doesn’t work properly, I do NOT like it. I was not a happy Jessica.

But the oh-so-smart Google help forums helped me out. Turns out the Google really does know EVERYTHING. A recent update somehow changed one of my settings and calendar items were being added to the calendar on the phone and not the exchange calendar. That means that it wasn’t showing up on the online calendar as well as the phone. But by changing the calendar it’s posting to when I add the item on a drop down menu, it works!

Just like, voila, it’s fixed!

And because I was so successful in fixing my phone, I’m going to spend the rest of the evening updating my podcasts for listening to at work and folding laundry after that’s done. Don’t I live a glamorous life?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Holy Grail of Shoes


While scanning my Google Reader earlier today, I noticed a coupon for JC Penney’s that ended today. Apparently, they’re having a big ole sale – and it was a BIG one!

I fell in love with these boots. Like, IN LOVE. They’re perfect! Flat-ish, wide open calf opening, and that buckle? Actually adjustable! It can go from leggings to jeans – which makes them so flexible. YES.

I needed the black ones. I already have a pair of brown boots albeit with heels. But I couldn’t get the website to show me what they looked like in black so I could make a decision. I needed to try them on anyway because I can’t seem to buy shoes online. I know you can send them back for an exchange but then I wouldn’t have them right away! So I ran up to the closest store but of course, they didn’t have them. Figures.

I had enough time to try another store before picking up my Christmas cards at Costco and making it to my 6 pm audition. So of course I had to run over there and check to see if they had them in my size.

The stores were crazy busy (why in the world is everyone at the mall these days?) but I found the shoe department pretty quickly. I tried on the brown boots because they didn’t have the black ones in my size.

That’s when the problems started – I couldn’t pass up these brown ones! They were SO perfect on and did I mention? They were on sale for $39.99. AND I had a $10 off coupon. SCORE.

So I treated myself to a pair of black and brown boots, each for $30 – less than half of what one pair was priced originally!

They’ll be coming directly to my house within the week … and I can’t wait!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Halloween Twist

On Facebook yesterday, I noticed a story posted by our local NPR affiliate about a twist on the tradition of trick or treating.

Well, in St. Louis, at least (and a cousin told me they did this in Kansas City, too), the tradition has it that you must have a joke ready when you knock on a door to get candy. My father introduced me to this tradition when I was very young, going out trick or treating in my neighborhood, plus Grandma’s short street. We had to go there in addition to our own neighborhood because she always liked to see us dressed up in our costumes, whatever they were. Besides, she always had a huge bag of candy for us – who wouldn’t want to pass that up?

For weeks ahead of Halloween, when we were debating what I would wore that year, the conversation would inevitably turn to what joke I would offer in exchange for my candy. Living in St. Louis, there was never a question whether or not I would have a joke – just a matter of which one I would use that year. Dad would always put in his two cents and suggests corny jokes as really good options.

When we moved to Texas and I prepared my costume and jokes as normal, I had no idea that the tradition did not extend south of the Mason-Dixon line. I had my joke ready for the first house, but when I knocked on the door, the family inside simply opened up, dumped candy into my pillow case, smiled and sent me on my way.

The first few times this happened, we were awfully confused. Did these people just not understand what Halloween was all about? They were supposed to ask for a joke if the kids didn’t automatically launch into it once the door was cracked open a bit.

After a few experiences followed the first we realized this totally wasn’t the tradition in Texas. It was actually kind of sad the next year to organize a costume without worrying about a joke. Dad still tried to get us prepared with a bad joke, just in case, but we were never asked for one. It sort of felt like the end of an era. Sad in a way.

So what about you – do you have a joke telling tradition for Halloween? Or is it just a midwestern thing?