Hello Wisconsin!

Well, it sure has been a long time since I’ve written here hasn’t it. A lot has been going on since I last posted.

Well, lets see, where to start. I guess the big news is, for those who don’t know, I went up to Wisconsin to visit my best friend after Christmas for about 3 weeks and had such a good time. When I got back to Texas, I continued to look for work, but really to no avail. I was coming up on the end of my lease at my apartment in a couple of months, and it just didn’t make sense to renew when I didn’t have a job.

So, after thinking about things and talking to my mom, I made the decision to come up to Wisconsin and to try to find a job. I gave notice to my apartment complex and started packing up my apartment.

Now, during this time, at the end of April, my former employer got in touch with me and we met up for dessert when she was in town. After talking with her and talking to my mom (this happened in the time I was thinking about going up to Wisconsin) I ended up going back to work for her as her assistant, temporarily and part time, for about 6-7 weeks. It was nice to be able to work a little bit again and somewhere that I had prior knowledge of the company and the people. I was there until the beginning of June, but then, it was moving time!

So I got my apartment all packed up, brought my cat to my mom’s and got everything moved everything into storage, thanks to the movers! I stayed at my mom’s for a few nights to make sure everything was squared away with my apartment and that everything was in storage that needed to be. Then, on Monday morning, I got up VERY early, packed up my car, said goodbye to Isabel and set off on the long drive to Wisconsin.

But I made it. I’m here in Wisconsin to see what this adventure has in store for me. Here are some pictures from my trip up to Wisconsin.

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Etsy Shop

Do you know someone who has their own Etsy shop? Well you do know. Hi, it’s nice to meet you 🙂

I have a little Etsy shop of homemade jewelry. Nothing expensive, nothing like diamonds or rubies or anything like that but charms and beads. With all the different colors and shapes of beads that are out there, the options for pieces of jewelry are endless.

There are some pre-made, ready to ship items in the store, but you also have the option to create your own piece of jewelry. You can create earrings, bracelets and necklaces. A particular listing is the one with “Made With Love” charms. They are earrings or a bracelet that you create with what colors you want, but the earrings each have a MWL charm at the bottom and the bracelet has 1 charm, but could have more added if you wanted. They could be Made With Love by you, by a significant other, a parent, it can be whatever you want it to mean.

Please check out the store

Jen’s Creations

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Here are some pieces that I’ve made

Graze Snacks

Do you ever wish you could try different snacks without buying a whole bag or box just in case you didn’t like it? Well there is a company that let’s you do that, and they are called Graze.

Graze is an online company where you can get subscription snack boxes and you can choose how often you want those boxes to come, whether it’s every 2 weeks or once a month. What they do is send you a box with 8 single serving portion snacks picked out just for you, and each box is different. And, you can snooze your next box up to a month, if you are going on vacation, just need the extra money for one month, whatever reason.

When you sign up for Graze, you’ll go through all their snacks and you have four options on each one: Trash, Try, Like, Love. If something doesn’t sound appealing to you and you have no interest in trying it, you can Trash it, and they won’t send it to you. For your first time, you may just put Try on everything you want to try, although some things may sound delicious enough that you want to Like or even Love it.

They have so many different food options ranging from nuts and seed mixtures, popping corn, cookie dippers with a sauce, even Miso! There are so many different options for so many different tastes, and you may discover something you didn’t realize you liked before.

I use to bring my boxes to work with me and keep them in my desk, and then I had almost 2 weeks of snacks there in my desk, already portioned out, all packed in a nice box so it didn’t take up too much room. And if I didn’t like something, that was the only portion I had and I didn’t waste money on a bag or box of the item.

One of my favorite items that I discovered is called Hickory Smoked Barbecue. It contains BBQ flavored peas, corn nuts and hickory smoked cashews.  I would have never thought that I would enjoy BBQ flavored peas, but these are delicious. And I never would have discovered this wonderful snack with Graze.

With Graze, they now have an option that you can shop online for a lot of their snacks, so if you find something that you like, you can order a bigger version of it. You can order a bag with (usually) 6 single portions in a box, or a sharing bag which ranges in ounces all over the place, depending on the product and how much fits in the bag. I’ve had something that’s a little more than 3 oz and other things that are 5-7 ozs.

The reason I’m blogging about this company is because I believe in them and the snacks they provide and that there are options and tastes for everyone. And I believe right now, when you sign up you get a 4 sampler box  for free, just pay $1 for shipping. I highly recommend that if you like snacks and trying new things that you check them out.

Graze

How Graze Works

Graze Shop

I don’t think you need to have a membership or subscription to order from the Graze Shop.

This is my favorite item I’ve discovered from this shop, the Hickory Smoked Barbecue, which was one of the first things that I tried.

Graze Hickory Smoked BBQ.png

So again, if you like snacks and trying new things, I highly suggest you give Graze a try!

Job Searching While Unemployed

So I started this blog, not just for a place to post randomness, but also a place where I could vent or just express my thoughts. Those of you that know me know that I don’t like confrontation and I’m not big on talking about my feelings. So I thought, this was a way I could do that, and people can read it or not, comment or not, give advice or not, but not feel like they HAVE to say anything back to me like if we were talking in person.

I’ve been unemployed for about 4 1/2 months, and I can’t seem to be getting anywhere. In today’s age, you can’t really go to places anymore to inquire about jobs, most places want you to apply online or submit a resume and many places specifically state no phone calls or walk ins. I send out numerous resumes and submit multiple applications a day, yet I rarely hear anything back and when I do, it’s usually a generic rejection email. They don’t even give a phone interview to learn more about me or my skills. It’s extremely frustrating.

Part of the problem is that in the past, I’ve worked for small companies that, while stable for a while, have eventually become unstable. This is the 3rd time I’ve been unemployed because of a company closing or financial issues or something. I don’t want to be in that situation again. I want to find a job at a bigger company with decent pay and benefits, maybe even a ping-pong table (not really but wouldn’t that be cool?) The problem with that is, for a lot of the great companies to work for, you have to know someone to get in the door. The company may accept outside applications, but they’ll still have the advantage.

That doesn’t always happen though. You may have a connection but other circumstances may affect your chances of being considered for a job. You may not have all the qualifications/knowledge/experience that they need someone to have for the position. You may not be where they need you to be geographically (at least for now. Some may relocate for a great position or company, but it all depends on how quickly the company needs to fill the position.) That’s happened to me a couple of times lately. I’ve applied to multiple positions that I REALLY wanted with a couple of companies, both here and elsewhere, but at the moment, I’m not geographically desirable for some or I may not have had all the qualifications they wanted. It’s hard to not get your hopes up for a possible opportunity, especially if its something you really want. Then, when you don’t get it, you can sometimes just feel deflated. The thing is though, if given the chance, I would have hauled butt to pack up and get where I needed to be. And I’m a quick learner. I’ve had to learn software/processes/even whole jobs at every job I’ve had. It’s just the case that I need someone to take a chance on me, whether it’s here or somewhere else. I’m 34 and unemployed for the 3rd time in my life. I’m ready to find a permanent career, a permanent company. The question is, how long will that take?

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” -Desmond Tutu

Best Friends

Platonic Soulmate. BFF. Ride or Die. Best Friend. There are several terms out there that people use to describe their best friend. But how do you really know when someone is your best friend? It’s different for everyone, but for me? Here’s how I know.

1. She Appreciates My Weirdness:

Now, I’m not saying that I’m weird or odd…at least I don’t think I am…but I do have random thoughts and theories and questions about things that I couldn’t ask anyone else but my best friend. I have a theory about a tv show we both like or I had an epiphany about a conversation we had weeks ago, etc. I know that she understands the need to just tell someone something, even if it’s stupid. I know this because she does the same to me, because, like her, I know that sometimes you just need to be heard.

2. Strangers Ask If We’re Related

On more than one occasion, she and I have been in line at the grocery store, just talking, and the person at checkout makes a remark or question about us being sisters. Or someone we just met wonders the same thing. Now, we don’t look alike, but we are so similar in personality and mannerisms and speech that people mistake us for being related.

3. When One Of Us Borrows Money From The Other, We Know It’ll Be Paid Back

Now, we’ve all done it before. Forgotten to pay a bill or had an emergency and you just don’t have the money for it. In those situations, for me anyway, I know that if my best friend has money to spare or a credit card, she’ll loan me the money, no questions asked. And when you tell them when you’ll pay them back, they don’t question it. Same for me. I know that if I lend her some money and she says she’ll pay me back on a certain day, she will. On numerous occasions that money has been paid back to me before noon, without me having to remind her of it. Even if it’s a larger amount and I get paid back in installments, I still don’t ever have to remind her when each payment is due, she’s already on top of it.

4. Things Stay The Same

My best friend and I live in different states, far away from each other, so we don’t get to see each other that often. However, we talk almost everyday, whether it’s by phone, text, Skype or the occasional FaceTime (which we really don’t utilize that often.) And when we do finally get together in person, even if it’s been months or more than a year, it’s like nothing has changed. We just pick up right where we left off. We can ride in the car in silence without it being weird, we like to do that same stuff like play games that are meant for more than two people like Catch Phrase or Scattegories. We still even like to just hang around and do nothing but talk. When we do get together we don’t have to make big plans or itineraries planning every second of our time together. For the most part, we can just play it by ear and know that we’ll still have a good time.

5. No Matter What, You’re Always There For Each Other

When all is said and done, we’re there for each other. Always. Day or night. No matter how big or small, I know that she is there if I need her. If I really needed to, I could call her at 2 in the morning to talk (not that it’s ever happened, but if it were really serious, I know that I could.) I know that she would have my side in a fight, but will call me out if she thinks I’m in the wrong. While it’s not easy sometimes to tell someone the truth, I know that she will tell me if I ask for it. She won’t placate me or just tell me what I want to hear, because it does me no good if I have false hopes or expectations on something. She’ll listen to me if I just need to vent about something, regardless of it she has any interest in it or knows much about it. Basically, I know I can go to her if I need to. Period.

Here’s one of many funny anecdotes from our friendship. My best friend and I are fast talkers, especially around each other. She found out that one of our favorite bands was coming to town on their tour, and she called me, while we were both at work, to tell me about it. We talked for a few minutes then hung up. She then texted me a few minutes later because when she got off the phone, one of her co-workers told her that it sounded like she was talking in Chinese because of how fast she was talking. It made us both laugh because I understood her 100%. Just another example of why she’s my best friend.

Me and Katie NYE 2016

How To Save Money When You’re Unemployed

 

So, I compiled this list and wrote this “article” for another site, that shall remain nameless, but they said it wasn’t for them, so you all get the “benefit” of my “wisdom.”

Unfortunately, unemployment is something that happens to the best of us. One day you’re employed, the next you find yourself standing outside your office building with your contents in a cardboard box. Why? Because your company is closing or they are downsizing your department or one of the many reasons one loses their job and you find yourself suddenly unemployed. You then start to panic. How are you going to pay your bills? What if I can’t find another job right away? You may qualify for State Unemployment Benefits, but let’s face it, those barely cover the cost of living, if at all. So now you have to really look at your life and wonder, how do I pay for everything? How can I save some money? Here are 10 ways that can help bring that monthly budget down.

10. GET RID OF CABLE, USE NETFLIX AND/OR HULU INSTEAD

We just can’t live without it. There are too many entertaining shows out there for us to ignore them. However, when you suddenly find yourself without an income, these luxuries start to become a burden. Well, now a days you have options. With platforms like Netflix and Hulu, you can still have your TV, but at a cheaper price. With cable you’ll pay anything from $50-$100, if not more, depending on your provider, channel package, etc. However, you can get both Netflix and Hulu subscriptions for as low as $7.99 each, making that around $17 a month with taxes. With Hulu, you can watch many shows the day after they air on cable. However, CBS shows are not available on Hulu, so you can go to the CBS website and see if they have the latest episodes online or try CBS All Access starting at $5.99 a month. You can also wait until the latest season is released (hopefully) on Netflix. Think of how much money you’ll save by getting rid of cable and investing in one or all of these services instead.

9. EAT AT HOME MORE

     It’s so convenient to run around the corner to the fast food place or to call in an order to a restaurant or have food delivered. But think of all that money that you could be spending on groceries instead that will feed you for a week instead of only a couple of meals. While it may not be your ideal choice, there are many low-cost options at grocery stores. The ever favorite of college students, Ramen noodles. You can buy 4-5 packages for only a $1. Think of how many meals that could provide for just $2-$3. There are so many great ways to make meals that aren’t expensive: soup and crackers, sandwich makings, boxed meals with all ingredients included are just some examples. Another is slow cooker meals that make so much you could have food for days on just one recipe. There are endless options at your grocery store so take a look at what’s actually out there and stock up on some of them.

8. GROCERY SHOP WHERE YOU GET REWARDS

     Since you’re going to be eating at home more and not going out as much, you’re going to have to grocery shop so why not do it where you get something back? There are a lot of grocery stores where you get gas points when you shop there.  For example, at Kroger you automatically get $.03 off gas if you’re a PLUS member, and then $.10 off for every 100 points you redeem. Some places send you coupons for items based off of your past shopping habits. Who knows what your local grocery store offers so take a look around your city/town and see what your options are.

7. BRING YOUR ELECTRICITY BILL DOWN

You can try to bring your electricity bill down by doing a number of things. You can unplug any electronics that you aren’t using, like that record player that sits in the corner that you haven’t used in months, but you keep it plugged in just in case. Or the computer cord you always keep plugged in so that you can easily plug it into your laptop. While it may be more convenient to have everything plugged in, you might be able to save yourself some money if you don’t. Try using a couple of lamps as your light source instead of the overhead lights, and turn off lights in any room that you aren’t using.

In the summer/winter instead of always running the air or the heat, try other ways of keeping cool/warm. In the summer, tank tops and shorts can be your friend. Buy a couple of cheap desk or box fans to set up and turn those on instead of the air conditioner. Utilize any ceiling fans you have as well. This could help save money and energy. In the winter, some sweats, fuzzy socks and a nice blanket can keep you warm. Make some hot cocoa and snuggle up under that blanket on your couch while you watch your favorite Christmas movie.

6. IF YOU DO GO OUT TO EAT, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF RESTAURANT DEALS

For those occasions that you do want to treat yourself and go out, take advantage of any deals that restaurants might have. For example, Applebee’s has their 2 for $20 where you get an appetizer and 2 entrees for $20. BJ’s Brewhouse has a deal right now where you receive $10 off your order with minimum food purchase of $35 valid through 4/23/17. Check the website of your favorite restaurants and see what kind of deals they have going on.

5. EAT WITH PARENTS

When all else fails, hit up mom and dad. See if they want to have dinner one night. If you get lucky, instead of just taking you out for a free meal, they might even cook for you and send you home with leftovers. Either way, you’ll get 1 or 2 free meals out of the deal plus you’ll get to spend time with your loving parents.

4. HIDE CREDIT CARDS

When you are out of work, the ever climbing bills can become overwhelming. You wonder how you’re going to pay them all. One thing you don’t want to do is add more debt on top of everything by using credit cards to pay for things. Take them out of your wallet and hide them. Put them in a drawer, a box, a block of ice in the freezer, whatever way you want to get them out of your wallet. If they aren’t easily accessible, you won’t be tempted to use them as much.

3. TALK TO CREDITORS

Don’t be afraid to talk to your creditors. Let them know what’s going on and ask them what options you have. A lot of creditors would rather receive some payment from you than none at all so they may work with you to lower your minimum payments or interest rate until you get back on your feet. This isn’t a guarantee and not everyone will do it, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

2. UTILIZE YOUR STATE BENEFITS

You’re already getting help from the state by getting Unemployment Benefits, so why not utilize other state benefits that are available? You could get help with groceries, health insurance, living expenses, etc. Some may only offer help for a few months but that may be all that you need. Any help would help to relieve some of that financial burden you’re facing. Each state is different so you’ll have to research what your state has to offer and what you could qualify for.

1. SELF-CONTROL

    Above all else, you’re going to have to exercise self-control. As much as you want the new gadget that was just released or a new piece of home decor or dinner at a fancy restaurant, if you don’t need it right this second, it can and should wait. You’re main focus and priority right now should be the current financial responsibilities you have and not on adding more to the problem. While it may be difficult to see those things that you used to be able to get whenever you wanted, just remember that you need gas in your car for interviews more than you need that really cute throw pillow, or that you need groceries to feed you for a few days instead of the one expensive meal that just feeds you for the night. It isn’t easy, but that’s why it has the word control in the phrase. Self-control. You can do it, you are in charge of your control and if you are determined to do something, you can.

*sources:

Hulu: https://secure.hulu.com/signup?screen_index=0&drivertype=nav-element&client_type=web&driverid1=RB_AB_Middle&plus=1&driverpage=welcome

Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/simple/planform

CBS: https://www.cbs.com/all-access/?intcid=CIAb4ac575

Kroger: https://www.kroger.com/topic/fuel-program

Applebees: http://www.applebees.com/menu/2-for-20

BJ’s Brewhouse: https://www.bjsrestaurants.com/deals-and-offers

The Standard First Post

You see it on almost every new blog, the introduction post. The first post that says, hey world, here I am and here is what I’m going to write about. This, it not going to be one of those posts. As this blog is just intended to be an outlet for my randomness, we’ll start out that way.

Social media. It’s amazing how many ways there are for us to connect to people from around the world. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and so many others. Perhaps some people abuse their social media, but then we encourage them by continuously liking/sharing/retweeting/etc their posts and pictures and tweets and whatever else they do. So really, is it all their fault?

And then there are those people that have social media accounts, but never use them. So when you’re doing your Facebook “spring cleaning” you have to questions: “Can I unfriend this person?” “Do they ever use Facebook?” “Will they be offended if they eventually sign on and find out we’re no longer friends?” And then most of us answer those questions with, “oh well” and proceed to unfriend them.

So, for my first blog post, I enter this poll. What is your favorite form of social media?