Archive for the ‘blessings’ Category

Not when you are hosting 90 people at your house!

Last week at my mom’s Celebration Party, our home was filled with sunshine, fresh flowers, old friends, and a plethora of delicious cakes. Surprisingly we had very little leftover. My visit home was so refreshing trip after two long, cold months of winter. It made me long for spring and future happy trips.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Monday! Hooray for longer days!

Update: These photos were taken from my lovely little sister, a professional photographer based in my hometown. She gave me permission to use her photos but I don’t want to credit her publicly because I’m anonymous. However, if you live in North Carolina and are interested in using her services, please email me at myprettypennies{at}hotmail.com. Thanks!

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One year ago my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and after months of chemo, surgery and radiation, thankfully today she is a breast cancer survivor!

{sign my sister made for her last chemo}

This Saturday my family is hosting a Celebration Party to thank all the friends and families who fought with us this past year. My mom created an Evite a few months ago, and what started with just a couple dozen invites has turned into 89 people who RSVPed “Yes.” That’s the size of a small wedding! Nevertheless, it should be a great time with lots of southern sunshine, five different kinds of cake, and friendly faces I haven’t seen in months (including my BFF and J!).

Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate life and welcome Spring, don’t you think? Hope everyone else has a great weekend! :)

PS- You guys are AWESOME! I couldn’t believe how many congratulations I got yesterday… thanks so much for all your support!

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A person’s lifetime is filled with memorable dates: birthdays, first dates, anniversaries, etc. I am happy to announce that March 4, 2010 is added to my list of significant dates in my life.

Today is the day I become Debt Free!


This post may be slightly dramatic recapping my quest towards debt-freedom… but some day I will grow accustomed to having a positive balance in my financial life and slowly I’ll forget the significance of today. So before moving on, I kind of want to be sentimental and inadequately describe the fantastic feeling of freedom I have at this moment. I owe nothing! Not even a tiny balance on a credit card! When I look at my money, it is all mine.  My next paycheck won’t have to be divided to debt, but will be 100% mine to spend, save, give!

Why, do you ask, am I so sentimental and weird about debt? I don’t talk about it often, but for years my parents lived a middle-to-high class lifestyle—a facade that was built by thousands of dollars in credit card debt. I was devastated to find out the truth, mostly because of my parents’ shame and guilt on merely wanting to give their kids a great life. Our lives changed dramatically after that and we became almost slaves to lenders, altering our lives out of desperation. Through that experience, something in me sparked and I took on the rest of my college education and vowed to start my adult life differently by paying off my debt as soon as possible.

So three years and $13,800 later, I am finally debt free! Here’s the final recap of my payments:

Thank you to anyone who has encouraged me during this last year! To anyone who is in debt… you CAN do it! It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance, but I promise the end result is worth it. I’m done! I’m done! I’m done!!!!

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Federal Taxes Completed!

Ta-da! I just completed my federal taxes!

And the total is…

(drumroll, everyone)


I am warming up to this number, but after last year’s awesome return of $1,488 it has taken some time. Ooooh how I wish I was getting that money again! But to be honest, the 2009 MPP really needed that more than the 2010 MPP, so I’ll let it slide.

Let the tax-refund fun begin! Well… in about 10 days when it will be directly deposited to my savings account. ;) State taxes to come. They’re way more complicated, those.

Spring is coming guys! I can feel it! Spring is coming!!!

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Good news announcement….

I am a little hesitant about announcing this, because I know that there are so many who work so hard and are struggling financially in this tough economy. I never want to come off boastful or portray that my life is perfect, because I promise–it’s not.

But I do have a little financial good news to share…

I got a $1,000 raise today!

I had my employee review today and it went very well. We met to discuss my improvements in the last year and the areas they’d love to see me advance in for the next year. I am going to put together a list of tactful employee things I want to accomplish this year and post it on here later.

As for the budget, this will come into effect at the end of this month. I did a little preliminary tax calculations, and it looks like I’ll be getting ~$55 more each month. Nothing extraordinary, but hey–a raise is a raise and I am very thankful. :)

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This year I was asked to participate in a Holiday Blogging Swap and of course I said YES! Kaileen Elise, Chelsea Bea at Pencil Skirt & Pearls and Carolyn at Hang on Little Tomato organized it, three lovely bloggers you should definitely check out. I had the privilege of getting City Girl Lifestyle to send a gift to and receive from! CGL is a blogger who writes about all things lovely, including beauty, fashion, cooking, and of course city life! She lives nearby so there’s no surprise that my favorite posts are when she mentions Life in DC.

The purpose of the Blogging Swap is to spread holiday love through Warmth, Sparkle, Cheer and Sweets. Here are the delightful things I received from City Girl:

SPARKLE: She knows I’m about to go on a holiday cruise, so she gave me delightful little lotions, soaps, shampoos, etc. for my journey. So thoughtful. :)

SWEETS & CHEER: These sweet sure did cheer me up! As soon as I opened the package, I went straight for those Sea Salt Caramels. Yum yum yum.

WARMTH: I wish that there was some way you could smell this gingerbread coffee and feel how soft this scarf is. Oh my.


Wow, I feel so blessed to have such wonderful gifts and be in touch with so many fantastic girls across the web. A huge thank you to City Girl Lifestyle for the thoughtful and perfect gifts, and also to the organizers Kaileen Elise, Carolyn, and Chelsea Bea! Check back with Kaileen Elise in the next week to see the rest of the gifts among the Holiday Bloggers! :)

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I feel so blessed and grateful. Here are just a few things I am thankful for this day:

  • Tasty food.
  • Two sisters who constantly make me laugh.
  • Jesus Christ for redeeming me.
  • The fantastic city I live in.
  • My huge family that is loud and loving.
  • Friends that always have my back.
  • A boyfriend that loves me like I could never imagine.
  • The leaf blower that my dad bought so we don’t have to rack our 3-acre lawn.
  • My mom who is now a breast cancer survivor!
  • Delicious wine… which I am about to go enjoy with my family.
  • The greatest Blog Readers ever. (Thank you!)

Love to all this Thanksgiving!

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I am pretty sure I am a server’s worst nightmare when I go out to eat. I order water to drink, opt out of an appetizer, order the cheapest thing on the menu (or worse–split it with a friend), and never order dessert or coffee. By the end of the night I’m probably the cheapest customer in the restaurant.

However I always redeem myself for my frugal meal by leaving a generous tip.

I used to be a server and know how it feels to receive a terrible tip. Once I got a $7 tip on a $100+ bill. Another time I had a very high mainteance table on a calm evening (aka: there were no issues with their food, etc.), and they actually wrote “Sorry!” in the blank area where you leave your tip. I couldn’t believe it. Who does that?

So if I am going to a restaurant on a budget, I will make sure to order a small amount of food in order to leave a generous tip. If I cannot afford to tip well, then I cannot afford to eat at that restaurant. And it’s not that I tip unusually large, but I rarely ever tip under 20%, even if it was terrible service. I remember those hard days of waiting tables and couldn’t tell you how great it felt to get a generous tip. It meant the world to me.

One day, just for kicks, I want to leave a $100 tip on some $10 meal. Wouldn’t that be awesome to bless someone in that way? I can’t wait to do fun stuff like that with my money in the future. :)


What about you?
What percent do you tip? Any server/tipping stories? What cool ways do you want to bless others with your money?


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My New Budget

I just received my new paycheck, reflective of my raise (extra $3000/year). After careful polling and questioning, I decided the extra money per month would go to debt and 401(k) contribution of 3%. I was unsure of the taxes, and it looks like my guess of $100 extra per paycheck was pretty accurate.

Before the raise, my monthly paycheck was $2311. This new paycheck  is now at $2407. $100 pre-taxed dollars goes to my 401(k) (which totals to $200 with company contribution). So now I have an increase of $100 to my regular take-home amount.

Here’s an update on my budget:

new budget

Hooray for raises and extra money! :)

Note: These are average payments for bills and represent my share of the total bill after split with my roommate.

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1. Waking up in warm covers to a crisp autumn morning.

2. The taste of a pumpkin spice latte. I’m sorry, I can’t stop talking about them.

3. Getting a text from J that merely said “Good luck running! I’m so proud of you!”

4. Wearing my college hoodie and slippers around the apartment.

5. Watching football on a Sunday afternoon.

6. Eating nearly my body weight in delicious seafood at the Maryland Seafood Festival.

7. Smelling a bondfire outside and spontaneously roasting marshmellows over the stove with my roommate.

I just love this season. :)

photo by wishwishwish

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