About Us

A Thinking Weekend

I Need To Make A Decision About Work Soon…

Many of you know, I work for a local newspaper, which I really like as a job but not as a salary. I understood that initially, they were taking a chance on me. I had no newspaper or web design experience. I was new to the area and, from the looks of my resume, seem to move every two years. I understood (or at least I thought I did) the low salary as a way to test my performance and my loyalty.

COSEED 2006 063 As a result for the past year, I've put my heart into this job. To be honest, I feel more successful at this job than I ever have at any other. I've accomplished and surpassed the goals I set for myself. I have tried to go above and beyond when possible, and am proud when someone says something to the effect of  "Give it to Nicole; she'll get it done." I genuinely enjoy the people I work with, my boss in particular. He's honest, positive, gives feedback when I ask, and lets me try out my ideas. My coworkers teach me a lot and make me enjoy going to work everyday.

So full disclosure time. I went to Boston last weekend for two informational interviews. (To be clear, I didn't go looking for a job; I just met someone who knew someone and boom! it was set up.) The digital PR companies I interviewed at were modern and filled with creative, smart people. They had a whole department of web content creation (which is what I really enjoy) and offered a great salary in addition to great benefits and professional development opportunities. One company said if I relocated, they would offer me a position while the HR person for the other company wanted to follow up with me later in the week.

It felt really weird not telling my boss about my trip. I wasn't sure if there would be anything to tell but after my interviews, I felt there was. So I told him. I wanted him to know what I was thinking and I also wanted to make sure he didn't have an offer from our company in mind. My year review is coming up and I was thinking it would be time for a raise.

I sat down with him yesterday for my review. I was offered a commission if I would sell advertising on our web site as my raise. I know that their offer was meant to give me more money than their typical raise and as a compliment to my people skills. But I walked out of the meeting feeling bummed. Not even a cost of living standard 3% raise?

The thing is, I wouldn't feel comfortable upgrading my lifestyle in any way if my extra funds were based on commission. You never know what's coming in moneywise. I also thought that I was productive enough at work in what I was doing to warrent a raise free and clear. But I don't think the company works that way. The low salary wasn't a test of my loyalty; it is how things were going to be.

This is a tough one. Clearly I have a lot to think about this weekend…

How did I get hooked up in the first place? A classic informational interview. To learn more about informational interviews, see this article "The Informational Interview: A Job-Hunter's Secret Weapon" at Get Rich Slowly.

Flapping In The Breeze

And You Thought You Had A Rough Weekend!

You know when you know something bad is about to happen about a millisecond before it does but you are powerless to stop it? See the picture below? That was my Saturday night.

SubarubackwindowAllow me to explain. It's dinnertime-ish, and I'm helping a friend of Ally's (I'll call her "G") move a desk since I have a car (she doesn't) and am visiting Boston for the weekend. We loaded the desk into the car and I went to the front seat to grab something. I looked up to see G closing the trunk door. I wanted to say "Nooooo!" but it's too late. The desk, not quite into the car enough, smashed out my back window.

Being that it was Saturday night, there was no way I could get it fixed. There was also the added problem of leaving it parked on the streets of Boston in that state. So we dealt.

I sent two people to get electrical tape and clearish plastic at the hardware store while I brought the desk to the apartment with G. G and I cleaned the glass out of the car as much as we could (wearing thick gloves).  Upon our return, Ally and company taped up the back window (painter's tape = won't ruin your paint job). I decided I should head back to Maine, not wanting someone to vandalize my car (or worse) that night. I packed a quick bag and headed north.

The flapping of plastic was a little annoying and my gas mileage got cut substantially by the drag from the sheet of plastic. The good news is the rain held (as did the plastic) for the entire trip. I pulled into my driveway at 1:30 a.m.

There are a few things that I think that made this not the most annoying thing ever:

1) G apologized but didn't repeat the apology over and over. I tend to do apologize obsessively and annoyingly, so that fact that G did one sincere apology and moved on to helping solve the problem was helpful.

2) G borrowed a phone book and proceeded to call companies herself. This was much appreciated.

3) The group attempted to think of solutions for the car (back it into a driveway, park it in a garage) but did not attempt to sway my decision to leave town once I had made it. As a result, I didn't feel guilty but did appreciate that they gave the problem some thought.

4) G offered to pay for the damage. It was not only helpful but the right thing to do.

5) The radio volume was able to be cranked up pretty high.

6) The temperature did not get below 57 degrees F, making me warm enough in the car.

7) While I couldn't see out the back window, I could hear cars coming.

8) Driving with a big sheet of plastic covering your back window makes driving in Boston with a normally functioning car seem like a piece of cake.

So my car looks a little ghetto in the driveway but it could have been much worse. Tomorrow (hopefully) it'll get fixed. Another exciting weekend in my life, hope yours was also but in a more fun way!

8 Random Things About Me

I've been indirectly tagged by Being Frugal so I've decided to go with it. Here are eight things you probably don't know about me:

1. I am a great cook but a horrible baker. I try to make substitutions when I bake (like when I cook) but that doesn't really work. I get really nervous about baking in general, even cookies. My best cooking work: crepes and "meal with whatever is in the house"

2. My guiltiest pleasures are really bad television, gossipy magazines, and silly movies. I'm intellectual in most other ways but I only feel entertained when things are a little silly.

3. I hate working out. If I was naturally skinny, I'd never do it. (On the same front, if I could, I would eat Chubby Hubby everyday.)

4. I am just like my father. I inherited his looks, his raunchy sense of humor, his constant introspection, and his love of life.

5. My college thesis was examining long chained fatty acids in a sediment core from a Russian lake to determine plant life over the course of 30,000 years. And now I work for a newspaper and have a personal finance blog. Horray for a liberal arts degree.

6. My favorite possession is my grandmother's engagement ring. I have worn it daily since I was 12 years old.

7. I love having a dog way more then I ever let on. I love having her follow me around like my personal "entourage" and I love how she snuggles next to me when I nap. Had I known how wonderful having Sadie would be, I would have gotten a dog much sooner.

8. Sean and I met online. He said he wanted to go out with me because in my personals photo, I "looked happy". (I also found Sadie and my last and current jobs online. Horray for the internet!)

If you're reading this and have a blog, consider yourself tagged!

Some Updates On Projects

Project: The Zen And Art On Coupon Clipping
Time Elapsed: Two Weeks

So far, I'm a little discouraged on this project. I find that I haven't been able to use a lot of the coupons I've clipped. Often, it seems the store brand still beats my name brand coupon. My last shopping trip I saved…$2.38 with coupons. My Grocery Game savings the same trip were around $10, and I don't really have to do anything for that except print off the list and pay $5 a month. (and hey, saving me $10 in an average week means that it pays for itself and then some for sure). I'll keep clipping coupons though and give this a solid month to trial to see if it's worth my time

The one exception to coupon discouragement is the $8 Hills Science Diet Dogfood I got from Spending Less 101. That website points you to coupons you can get online. I waited until the food was on sale ($5 off this week) and I saved $14 on my finicky dog's healthy food: $17 of food will now last at least two months for her.

Project: How To Get Rid Of Carpet Odors
Time Elapsed: Two months

Thanks to everyone who participated in this, including Debt Free Revolution and Bouncing Betty who suggested Odoban from Home Depot. As the daughter of a small hardware store owner, I hate HD but I went to get this product. $8 and only about 1/8 of the bottle later, smell is gone. Completely.

Project: Blogroll Update
Time Elapsed: Too Long!

I finally updated my blogroll with new (well, not so much new as new to me) blogs that I read all the time.

Personal finance-y blogs: Being Frugal, Cheap Healthy Good, Debt Free Revolution, Girls Just Wanna Have Funds, My Small Cents, Northern Cheapskate, Spending Less 101, and The Baglady.

Other great blogs: Intelligent Travel, Shorpy, Hoarded Ordinaries, and Satellite Sisters.

If I haven't added your blog or website yet and I clearly read it and comment on it all the time, let me know!

There I got all those updates done like I've been meaning to! Whew! Now anxiously awaiting five o'clock for the weekend to start… Happy Friday!

Story Of A Fort Kent Flood Victim

If Life Hands You FEMA Chicken Soup, Put It In Your Pantry

Optimism will always get you far. And so can a little sarcasm for that matter! The following guest post was written by one of my best friends, Robby. You can be Robby’s "friend" and read his blog on his Myspace page.

So, I thought it would only be appropriate to write about the topic everyone is concerned with these few days….The flood! I for one, like Noah himself, predicted the flood would occur and had made preperations to build an ark…then I got lazy! j/k..No seriously, you can’t have that much snow and not expect to see it turn to water.

Robbyshouse 4/30/08 Wednesday (4am)  My brother Derek says, "Robby, we got to get the BLEEP out of here!".  And the Grand Evacuation began…we grabbed our clothes, electronics, important papers, put stuff on blocks and fled to the higher grounds of Belone Hill (parent’s house). Oh I got the cats too….in two trips…i couldn’t find flav….

10am – pleasant street looks like the scene from the movie "The Day After Tommorow" when Jake gyllenhall is trying to get his friends to the NYC library for refuge. Of course you have your snoopy old bastards who clogged the main artery in Fort Kent just to "snoop".  I shouldn’t complain….45 minutes is nothing to spend on Pleasant street….I was only trying to go find my cats..no biggy "Monsieur Nadeau" was curious about his AARP membership and felt compelled to try getting around town to the post office.

12pm – so the rumor that Maine Public was cutting the power in fort kent spread like wildfire….so…we went to Johns  Convenience and bought lots of useless coldcuts, water, flashlights…every other person in town had the same idea….cha-ching! for John’s…they cashed in on the foolishness of we fort kenters!  I got a sweet meat and cheese platter though! YUM!

Robbysbackyard5/1/2008 thursday 12pm- so I went to my house via "big pickup" to assess the damage.  Not too bad….4 inches more and i would have had soggy furniture…it never made it into my house. Thank God! I then began the laborious task of cleanup….who comes down the street…an old lady from the American Red Cross….now I know they are here to help and thank god for people like that who will drop their day to help those affected by tragedy….but I don’t need any more water…."Lady do you see my backyard?…Get me a beer!"…seriously though…i dont need anymore water…bring me some money!

5/2/2008 friday 3pm – The Department of Environmental Protection and FEMA made their preliminary rounds of the area.  A crazy weird guy with a truck load of what appear to be "gigantic maxi pads" drove in my driveway…reminescent of the way the storm chasers drove in the movie "twister".   He, essentially, walked right into my house and threw his maxi pads in my cellar…."nope no oil….why is your power on?!!" (really saying…are u stupid?)..I said…well this isn’t MY house….my landlords fled…i dont know where they are.  "Here, take these pads….throw them in your cellar and don’t drink the water!"

5pm- Laurie Lozier (a total sweetheart) asked me if I wanted FEMA foods from the Wallagrass school….now normally i would be like sure…but part of me today did not want to feel like a victim….I’m not broke or anything…I didn’t even loose anything substantial….I’m just displaced!..but needless to say…i took them…. Holy Crap! FEMA feeds people well!  Its all organic food! Organic peanut butter, cereal, pasta, you name it! and i even got some sweet handwipes!  the ultimate though….24 cans of chicken noodle soup! SCORE!

well thats the timelime of significant events of my stint as a "survivor" of the great flood.   It had its ups and its downs…but at least everyone is okay….I can’t move back till the heat, hotwater,  and electrical are fixed but at least my internet works!

I’ll keep you updated with flood-related news as it happens. In the meantime, things to keep in mind when disaster strikes.

1) See the writing on the wall. If you know a disaster is coming (such as impending melting of the biggest snowfall on record), take steps to minimize the effects on your home and your life.
2 )Stay calm. It’s best for everyone.
3) Know what you’d take if you had only five minutes to grab things. Keep a list, physical or mental, of where it is.
4) Keep some food (a few days worth) in your pantry to keep from unnecessary purchases (and in case FEMA takes a couple of days to get to you).
5) Rely on the help of family, friends, and FEMA. They’d do the same for you, right?
6) Stay optimistic. Robby has always had a great attitude and in coping with disaster, I bet it has come in really handy.

Top Image: Robby’s house is the one behind the trees. Keep in mind he normally has a backyard.
Bottom Image: Robby’s backyard. As he said "Maybe I shouldn’t have raked my lawn. Oh well, at least I have firewood now!"

A Fort Kent Flood Update

The nation has turned its eyes elsewhere but Fort Kent continues to deal with record-high waters in a flood that resulted in the final (though likely partial) melting of a record snowfall.

My family helped to evacuate some of the people. As my sister said in an email to me:

"It was so sad, I can’t imagine everything those people lost.  We have a lot to be thankful for.

The water is going down.  They have yet to decide if they’ll reopen Main Street tomorrow.  Justin got power back into the store (Quigley’s Building Supply) late this afternoon, so they are going to attempt to open in the morning.  I’ve been out of school since Wednesday and we’ll be out again tomorrow.  There is significant flooding in Frenchville too, near Rosettes.

Justin has been helping around town, its almost 9:30 a.m. and he’s still unloading donated bottled water down at Shop and Save. (Officials) are concerned that some of the private wells will become contaminated.  Town water is still safe, so we’re lucky.  He’s using the forklift to unload pallets donated by Hannaford. 

This town really makes me proud.  It is unreal how people came together….Luckily the only damage has been to "stuff"…all replaceable (except household memory items). 

Definitely something I hope to never see again…"

FEMA assessment could start as soon as Monday, according to Senator Susan Collins.

In the meantime, photographs were taken by my mother and brother-in-law of the destroyed lumberyard and they are hopeful insurance will cover the losses.

Please continue to keep the small town of Fort Kent in your thoughts… It’s been almost constantly in mine these last couple of days.

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