Still around ... just been busy. (I did, however, take some time off Tuesday morning to pop some microwave popcorn and watch the Inauguration festivities, then spent more time than I care to admit talking on the phone to family members.)
Quickie updates on a far-flung variety of things follow.
1. Broccoli Sprouts: We've chowed down 2 batches of home-grown broccoli sprouts now. Yummy! The 3rd batch of seeds is soaking and will go in to the sprouting trays this evening. Buying the trays & seeds was definitely a worthwhile investment. Thanks again to fern (Wild Blue Yonder) and baselle for the tips.
2. Homemade Hair Gel: Did my last ever Locks of Love hair donation. (Last ever because grey hairs are starting to sprout.) Went for a somewhat short and really layered cut, which is something I haven't had for ages. Also for the first time in ages, I now need "product" to style my hair so I decided to try homemade hair gel. Been using it for about 1-1/2 weeks now, and it is working great for me.
Recipe = 1/2 tsp plain gelatin mixed with 1/2 cup warm water (store in fridge for up to one week). I'm using one of those inexpensive plastic condiment squirters. It's not a very pleasant sensory experience applying it (no perfumes added, and it comes out a bit cold & lumpy), but once it's been scrunched in to my hair I can't tell the difference between it and store-bought. It does its job well, is dirt cheap, and requires very little disposable packaging (just the gelatin envelopes), so I'm very happy with this experiment in frugality and will keep using homemade gel.
3. DH's First TX Franchise Tax Report: Been working on this. Since it's the first time to file in TX, there are new laws to learn and new forms to get familiar with, so lots of mind-numbing reading and head-scratching going on. In a masochistic sort of way, I kind of enjoy doing something like this. I know it's good for my brain to have to work at mastering something new and challenging.
Looks like I'll need to finish our Federal return first ... still waiting on forms to come in, and I know Treasury Direct will probably come in just under the wire (as usual), so that will make the schedule tighter than I would like. I need to have the state filing done by Feb. 19th at the latest. I know it can be done, I just don't like the idea of cutting important things like that so close to the deadline.
4. House Hunt: It continues. We got to the precipice of making a lowball offer on the house we both really like and DH got cold feet. It's the recurring "Austin vs. San Diego" quandry. Hopefully this question will be resolved sometime in the decade or so.
5. New Business?: I'm trying to get a new little (still confidential) side business up & running. Unlike my last business, this will be something I could move with me to another location. I'm still continuing my temp work, but I don't want to wait around any longer to figure out where we're going to settle to decide what I'm going to do career-wise. So I've been mentally toying around with various ideas for going the self-employed route again. Finally hit on one that appeals to me and passes the "husband litmus test." Not sure if it's going to fly, because when I approached the "banker" (DH) with my "business plan" (notes on paper), the result of our conversation was his blessing to go ahead and long as I promised not to lose any money. So, while I've expended time & effort, I've not spent any money yet. Worst case scenario, it will end up as a "learning experience."
6. Brokerage Account! The gal who swore she wasn't interested in buying individual stocks (me) has opened a brokerage account. Gotta keep an open mind and change with the times, right? There are some real bargains out there ... why would we want to miss a great opportunity? The little bit of money in the brokerage is just "casino money." In typical chicken fashion, we've yet to make a single trade.
7. Geithner - Blech: Following up on my rant
8. Savings Rate Shopping: I've mentioned that shopping for the best rates on savings accounts is one of my financial "jobs" in my household. I recently spent a pretty good chunk of time on some serious rate shopping. I'm happy to share my process, if anyone's interested. Just let me know and I'll do a follow-up post (otherwise won't bore you all).
P.S. - Updated my cool quotes there on the left to reflect my current mood ... mixed feelings of optimism tempered with caution, pessimism tempered with determination.