Friday, October 31, 2008

Mustang memories

As we've prepared to sell the Mustang I hadn't been sad so far. I guess it was causing enough stress that we just wanted to get rid of it. But yesterday I was struck with a pang of nostalgia. Mustang picked me up to go vote (yes, in Texas we can vote early, anywhere in Dallas county - it's the best idea ever). Anyway, as he pulled up in the car I thought, "This is going to be one of the last times I see him approaching me in that car." And I got a little soft and smushy inside.

So to properly bid farewell to the Mustang, I've decided to acknowledge a few memories about it.
  • First off, I've realized we don't even have a picture of the Mustang, so we need to take one tonight. It's weird to think one day we'll tell our kids, "Daddy used to drive a convertible," and I'm sure they'll think that's the weirdest thought ever, because it's difficult to imagine your parents young and hip. A photo will help the cause. I know this because as a child, I was fascinated by a photo of my mom sitting on a step next to her VW bug.

  • I remember while getting ready for dates, I could always tell when Mustang had pulled into my apartment complex because the engine in the Mustang is so loud. So I'd be getting ready in the bathroom (wow, that's a weird thought - getting all "gussied up" for him), and know when he's about to ring the doorbell because I could hear the car.

  • There actually were very few occasions that we'd ride with the top down. This is mostly because 1) Oklahoma wind, and 2) Mustang didn't want to get too much sun. So the few times that we'd put the top down felt like a treat (well, aside from the first time going to Easter service, when I was concerned about my hair). When the top was down, it felt exhilarating. Alive. Adventurous. Of course this feeling may just be me, an "inside girl" who defines adventure by riding in a convertible.

  • After we dated a while, I put a ponytail holder inside the glovebox. I felt a little sneaky because I, the girlfriend, was keeping something in his car. Kind of like Carrie staking her claim in Mr. Big's bathroom cabinet, but on a smaller scale. Last weekend, when we cleaned the car out, I found the ponytail holder. Good times.

  • A drawback to riding with the Mustang's top down was that it attracted a lot of attention. Typically, I hate drawing attention to myself, so this bothered me for a while. But then I decided I could kind of have this alter-ego in the Mustang, we could crank the music up, draw attention to ourselves, and be "those people." It was kind of fun.

  • And that leads me to my greatest sense of affection for the Mustang...because it embodies Mustang himself. He doesn't mind attention. He's confident, fun and sexy. When I think about him driving that car, I picture him with his sunglasses on and smiling.
So I prepare to bid farewell to that image of Mustang approaching me in that car, smiling and sunglasses on, ready for a date. But I take heart in knowing that it will be replaced with a better one - him approaching me in the Camry, smiling, and coming home.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My brain is going to implode.

OMG.

I'm trying to write a press release that explains a $1 million grant our college just received. Yay, a million dollars is good.

Here's the catch: the grant's title is "DMP1 Mutations: Defects in Odontogenesis."

Whaaa?

Alter-ego wants to put headline:

Grant to Study if Missing Stuff Causes Bad Things

Ditching Mustang (the car!)

Big news, kids. We're getting rid of the Mustang. We actually tried to get rid of it last week....

Mustang (my hubby) takes the car Saturday morning to get an oil change and to get detailed. With the car looking good, ready for a trade-in, we're ready to visit four dealers across Dallas, based on our internet research.

However, in case nobody will take a gas-guzzling V8 Mustang for a trade-in, we stop by CarMax for an estimate to sell it. Ouch. Very low. Add fuel to the fire when we see a similar Mustang for sale there for double the price. I guess this is how CarMax makes money...buys low, sells high. Anyway, at least we now have a baseline for the trade-in value of the car.

Then, on the way to dealer #1, the CHECK ENGINE SOON light comes on. Seriously. I've never seen poor Mustang so frustrated.

(Shhh...I feel bad that he's so upset, but can I secretly admit that I'm strangely attracted to him when he's mad? He gets this look in his eye that makes me swoon. I just want to laugh/kiss him when he's steaming mad, but that would not help the cause, so I resist. But really, I just have to say, he's so stinkin' cute mad.)

Anyway, at this point, we're about 45 minutes away from home, so we proceed anyway to dealer #1 and their car had cigarette burns in the seats. Instant deal-breaker.

We drive to dealer #2 and like their car. We ask if we can have a mechanic check it out this week before we buy it. The dealer agrees and also says they'll take the Mustang as a trade-in (thank God they didn't get in it to see the new light). In the meantime, we take the Mustang in for service. Hopefully, this is the last time we pay money on it!

Anyway, the Mustang is now fixed, and the car we liked was OK'd by the mechanic. So, Saturday, we're trading the Mustang in for.......


A Camry. So sexy!

Mustang's comment: "I am trading in my convertible Mustang for a Camry. I have become an old man."

But a very cute old man. =)

Monday, October 27, 2008

It matters where you shop

So I've been doing the Grocery Game for about a month and half now. Aside from saving money, I've learned quite a bit about shopping, in general. More than anything, it matters where you shop.

Sure, I remember growing up, mom would say Albertson's (back then it Skaggs) was too expensive so we'd instead brave the madness that is known by Choctaw and Midwest City people as "the old Crest." Yall know what I mean.

Hey, guess what? Mom is right. In September I made a price list of my favorite stuff at several grocery stores - prices when they're NOT on sale. Of course, being the goody-goody I am, I'd carefully write in this teeny-tiny address book in my purse and only write in it when nobody was around. I had this stupid fear of being confronted as a grocery spy. When they'd announce some code over the loudspeaker, I was always worried it was a "we have a spy" code. Thankfully this never came true.

Anyway, I compared Kroger, Tom Thumb and Wal-Mart. OH MY GOSH. (Although I referenced Albertson's above, I didn't compare it because the Albertson's by my house is really small.)
  • Tom Thumb, while beautiful and carrying more healthy stuff, is typically twice as expensive as Wal-Mart. Now cringing when I think of weeks I bought EVERYTHING there. Holy moly.

  • I also learned that Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market is slightly more expensive than a Supercenter on a few items. However, I am willing to pay more to avoid a Supercenter. Somehow my irritation level rises past human norms when I'm in a Supercenter.

  • Although it requires an extra trip, it really is cheaper to buy health & beauty products at CVS/Walgreens than at the grocery store. Here's a crazy example: this week, there is an $80 product at CVS that's on sale for $30 and there's a coupon out that takes $30 off the product. So guess what? An $80 product is free. Wow. (As many of you know, Mustang has a strange devotion to Walgreens, but I hear Walgreens has a very complicated coupon regime, so I'm starting to shop at CVS this week. I'll let you know what Mustang says.)

  • Finally, it has taken four months, but Mustang have realized we must vow to never shop again at a grocery store by our house named Carnival. Sure, it's the closest to us, and sure, once you're inside, it's fine. It's the parking lot that is just too scary. Last week's run-in with people walking a pit bull was the clincher. According the the owners, and I quote, "He don't bite." Riight.
PS - I would totally shop at Aldi's if there were any here. Rocks in My Dryer has a great post about it from Friday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dallas culinary finds - part 1

A fun part of moving to a new city is exploring. As you all know, I'm a foodie (a bit too much) and so I've enjoyed discovering some culinary delights of Dallas.

Of course, I'm a cheap foodie, too...so this isn't a review of Dallas' 4-star restaurants. Oh no, it's about grocery stores, liquor and a coffee shop. =)

Grocery goodness
When we moved to Dallas, I was so excited about getting better groceries - more ethnic food, healthier choices, more gourmet stuff. Sadly I was disappointed for a while...until I discovered the goodness that is Tom Thumb. I'm not sure what I like more about it: the frou-frou decor (bread in baskets, produce beautifully stacked into pyramids, the florist section), or that it sells Safeway products. When I lived in DC, I got spoiled from Safeway delights (my favorites were chocolate sorbet and vegetable potstickers). I was so excited when I found these old culinary friends, I think I actually squealed at the store. While I'm excited to find groceries that I haven't had since 2003, Tom Thumb is expensive, so I only shop there for particular goodies (or with my coupons from the Grocery Game).

Of course when I think of good (and expensive) groceries , Whole Foods comes to mind. But I haven't shopped there much in Dallas because there's not one by us...YET. They're building one right by work! However I don't expect to shop there often. Talk about pricey. I heard someone call it "Whole Arm Foods" because it costs and arm and a leg to shop there.

Okay, on to the pinnacle of Texas groceries: Central Market. There is only store of these in Dallas, and I had heard repeatedly of its goodness, but I finally got to experience it last month. For our first anniversary, I went there to buy some Gouda cheese for Mustang (we ate Gouda cheese all the time on our honeymoon in Aruba). I knew Central Market would probably have some. Oh, they did: about 10 types, including some made from cow, sheep or goat. The cheese department is organized by country. Amazing. When I stood there forever deciding which one to get, an employee came over to help me and told me about the different types. Wow.

The best part of Central Market: they offer cooking classes. I can finally take the knife skills class I've always wanted to do. They have classes about tapas, risotto, sushi, making roux. Wow. I know what I'm asking Santa for Christmas!

10/27 UPDATE: Holy cow, Central Market just updated their website and it is ├╝ber-cool. They have their own blog. Wow.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Crime at the local Kroger

This is my grocery store. About a mile from our house. Ah, Dallas.

Woman tries to steal diamond ring off another woman's finger
October 7, 2008
By BRYAN SHETTIG / The Dallas Morning News

A thief tried to steal a diamond wedding ring off another woman's finger after asking to see her nails, Dallas police said.

The incident occurred Sunday in the Kroger grocery store parking lot in the 10600 block of East Northwest Highway, police said. A woman wearing a white shirt and blue jeans approached another woman leaving the store. The thief asked to see the other woman's nails before the two began to tussle.

The thief then pushed aside the 51-year-old woman and ran away without the ring, police said.

The marquis diamond ring was valued at $10,000, according to a Dallas police report.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bratz dolls

When I was in a women's bunko group back in Oklahoma, I learned many things: about a product called Poopourri that really does work, about new recipes, and I learned that it's a no-no to give Bratz dolls as birthday presents.

Wow, a faux pas I never thought about - inappropriate toys. Not inappropriate because they're not suitable for the child's age or too expensive, because they're dangerous - morally. And then you look at Bratz dolls, and you see why.

Anyway, there's an interesting new Newsweek article out that discusses about the Bratz doll, too - from a dad's perspective. Here's an exerpt that scares the crap out of me:
And then, says Scott, an English professor at a small college in Georgia, "I realized porn culture and I were in a death match for my daughter's soul."
Anyway, here's the article: The Pornification Of A Generation

I know I've said this before, but it's gonna be so friggin' hard to be a mom.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Another Web site experiment

This blog started to chronicle my experiences on eHarmony. It worked. Very well. Thank you Neil Patrick Harris Neil Clark Warren.

Anyway I've been part of another Web site experiment for a few weeks, but didn't want to discuss it until...well...I understood it enough to explain it. It's kinda complicated.

It's called The Grocery Game. In a nutshell, it's about coupons, but it's oh so much more. The key is to use a coupon (or, if you're really lucky, a mix of coupons) AT THE SAME TIME a product is on sale. So for example, by using two coupons while it was on sale, I bought an eight-pack of Mustang's favorite soap yesterday for $2.09. It's usually $5.99.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: I'm cheap/silly/insert word for using coupons because Mustang is a doctor and we have a good income. While we are blessed with a good income, we believe we should be stewards of it and spend it wisely. I'd much rather spend $50 on something fun or helpful than on lame groceries. Also, I don't know if it's because we moved to Dallas or what, but we spent wayyy too much money at the grocery store this summer. Finally: the economy. 'Nuff said.

Ya-Ya Gina has long been a fan of The Grocery Game (or, GG, as it's called by its fans). Now I see why. It indulges my Type-A personality (I will find the last bottle of free Worcestershire sauce!) and also saves money. In other words, it's a healthy addiction.

And I am reminded of my childhood love for The Price is Right and my junior-high summer TV watching of Supermarket Sweep.

Anyway, I signed up for a $1 month trial in September, and at its conclusion, I can say I'm hooked. I saved about $180 in September. On groceries. Seriously.

So anyway, I'll post a few more things I've observed about GG soon.