Saturday, May 31, 2008

Japanese style

GARETH SAYS…

The inflatable bed got sent back to the manufacturer last Wednesday leaving me and Amy sleeping on the wooden floor until the replacement one arrives.

We’ve had 5 days now of flooring sleeping and they say it is good for your back. That may be the case but I’m not sure it is good for my knees, arms, feet, hands, face, neck, arse or any other part of me that can’t be described as ‘back’.

We really have sunk to a new low and the phrase ‘crack den’ now springs to mind when I walk into out little room.

Fingers crossed the bed will arrive whilst we are away on our business trips – Amy is off to Barcelona and I’m off to San Diego. Ahhhhhh the joy of hotel rooms and proper beds- or Amy is going to completely lose her shit!

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Dutiful English Wife


GARETH SAYS...

Amy and I are very similar in many respects and completely different in others.

The differences mainly manifest themselves in two ways:

She is a Woman and I am a Man.

She is American and I am English.

I have been slowly trying to introduce her to the ‘English way’ such as my fondness for Hankies - something that amuses her mum no end :) - and my love of afternoon tea.

Two weekends ago we had a go at making scones and homemade lemon curd. Both of which were truly delicious - the scones were light and fluffy and the curd was wonderfully tart. They were so good I made Amy the certificate you see here!

But this cultural exchange isn't just one way. We made American Pancakes last Saturday and Pretzel making is on the menu for next weekend.

Cooking is so much fun and one of the added benefits is that it is cheaper than buying stuff.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The toothfairy

GARETH SAYS...

Isabelly Button (not her real name), Amy’s neice came round on Saturday with a wobbly front tooth. With an accidental elbow in the head Aunty Amy managed to separate tooth from head.

Isabelly Button was stunned at the loss but I think deep down inside she was gratefully that she wouldn’t have to go to the dentist on Tuesday.

The tooth was bagged up and will soon be tucked under her pillow waiting to be turned into cash. When I was a kid I got around $2 for each tooth. Amy and I worked out between us that we had just under $180 worth of pearl whites between us.

On seconds thoughts, our teeth are probably worth more to us in our head than under a pillow.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Vaginal wash

GARETH SAYS...

One of the perks of work is getting to take home the stimulus when a project is done.

We have just been working on new soft drinks for women and the team working on it went crazy buying female health and beauty products.

Last Friday afternoon an email went out saying: “Help yourself” and the stampede started to the back table where all the goodies were laid out.

By the time I got there most of the good stuff had gone. I started picking things up for Amy.

“Errrrr I wouldn’t give Amy that Gareth …. Or that … or that!”

Being new to the female health and beauty product market I had been picking things up blindly. I had in my hands vaginal wash, anti-cellulite cream and anti aging products.

Oops.

Amy could have taken this ‘gifts’ the wrong way. “Are you saying I stink, have orange peel thighs and look haggard?”. Not the best start to a romantic Friday night in.

It might have been free but it might have also been offensive.

I put it back and found some anti-spot products instead.

I guess that means Amy can stop using toothpaste on her pimples.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Dip

GARETH SAYS...

We woke up this morning to a dip.

Not an emotional one but a physical one.

Our brand new replacement inflatable bed has a slow puncture.

I knew this experience would bring us closer together but this is ridiculous. We awoke to find our noses squashed together in a hammock like bed of deflated uncomforatablness.

On top of the slow puncture we have a new addition to the family. Her name is Teddy and she is Amy’s Mum’s new dog. Every morning without fail she yaps her lungs out for no reason whatsoever.

In the world of Gareth and Amy, sleep is becoming as rare as a new york cab driver who doesn’t like to us his horn.

I’m tiiiirrrreeeeed.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Size matters

GARETH SAYS...

When it comes to buying things - bulk is beautiful! As I'm sure you know, the best way to get the lowest price possible is by buying as much as you can. Take Listerine for example. I just brought a massive bottle for $6 at the local CVS pharmacy. It is truly the largest bottle of mouthwash i have ever seen.

The trouble is finding the space to store it which is pretty tricky when you consider our room is 2 meters by 3 meters.

Submarine size living quarters are not conducive to bulk buying. Thank goodness i resisted the urge to buy the 24 pack of toilet rolls that were on special offer. We would have had to stuff them into our pillows.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wise Words

Some bloke on the reality TV show ‘WorkOut’ said…

“When life kicks you – make sure it kicks you forward.”

Who would have thought such a pearl of wisdom would come from a muscle head on Bravo TV?

Melting

GARETH SAYS...

We have a new favorite song. 'I Melt With You' by Modern English. It's great and the Nouvelle Vague cover is pretty awesome too. I love the lyrics...

(Let's stop the world)
I'll stop the world and melt with you
(Let's stop the world)
I've seen some changes but it's getting better all the time
(Let's stop the world)
There's nothing you and I won't do
(Let's stop the world)
I'll stop the world and melt with you

The future's open wide


Here's a funny version for all you Harry Potter fans.
Here's the club mix version for all you glow stick ravers
Here's a bloke singing it in his bedroom

Play it loud wherever you are and bop around. Grab your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/mistress/gigolo/best friend/pet and we'll do the same. And together, through the power of bopping. the world will become a little bit nicer xxx

Friday, May 23, 2008

Quick and Easy Home Remedies

AMY SAYS...

My business trip to Dublin turned out to be incredibly stressful. We were basically locked away in a conference room for 3.5 days - gorging on coffee and chocolate to stay awake.

Stress + chocolate = pimples!!

When I unpacked I realized I had forgotten to bring pimple cream. Oh no!

I thought I could just jump into the nearest pharmacy and grab some before my face turned into a haven for the little fuckers but I didn't want to spend the cash, seeing as I already had a whole tube back in New York. So I turned to the next best thing, toothpaste. Yes folks, toothpaste is a great substitute for pimple cream.

Don't use too much though or you'll end up looking like Samara!

(SIDE NOTE: it is really tingly and strong so use sparingly: only on the spots as needed)

$pontaneity

GARETH SAYS...
One of the things that i'm missing most in this new highly budgeted life is the ability to be spontaneous.

We are still doing lots of fun things but they have to be planned to make sure we get the best deal. Take for example going to the cinema. We brought our tickets yesterday for the new Indiana Jones movie. $6 each as long as we see the 10am screening next Saturday. That is 7 days away.

In the old days we would just say stuff like: "Shall we go and see a movie tonight?", "Let's jump in a cab", "I don't feel like cooking let's go for Mexican" etc but now we plan our movie outings weeks in advance, we catch public transport everywhere and we always try and cook for ourselves.

It isn't that bad but i do find myself yearning for the day when i can say: "Fuck it - let's go and do XXXXXXXXXXX" without worrying about blowing or daily allowance.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

You’ve got to laugh or you’d cry


GARETH SAYS…

Last night I got a phonecall from a friend: “Gareth we’ve got loads of food left over at the venue. If you want to come and collect it it is yours.”

So jumped on my bike and went over to the venue where a meeting had just finished and was handed a massive trash bag filled with food.

I felt like a street urchin collecting scraps. But rather than worry about how pathetic this whole situation was I made light of it and turned myself into Captain Scraps, hence the heroic pose in the photo.

I think it is always best to try and laugh at whatever situation you find yourself in.

The alternative just isn’t much fun.

The kindness of strangers

GARETH SAYS…

On Monday something wonderful happened when I got into work and started checking my emails.

A lady called Alexis (I’m hoping Alexis is a girl’s name) had sent us $20 via the ‘Donate Now’ button! Our first ever donation. We only put the button on semi-jokingly and suddenly out of the blue a total stranger, a wonderfully generous stranger had felt compelled to send us some money.

We were touched and felt very guilty: “Is this begging?”

Alexis sent us a super sweet note along with her $20…

“I have been reading your blog and just wanted to let you both know that I think it is inspirational! Having heaps of student debt myself (although UK student debt, so not quite $180,000) I was so impressed about your dedication to sort things out for your futures. I have been inspired to do something similar and pull my finger out to help myself!”

It gave us a little glowing feeling inside knowing that we had inspired someone to do something about their own situation.

A lot of good has already come out of this mad caper.

I hope there is a lot more to come.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Meatloaf-O-Meter

GARETH SAYS...

I've mentioned the 'Meatloaf-O-Meter' on previous postings but I don't think i ever explained what it was. Basically it is a big thermometer that we mark off the chunks of the Private Debt (the $80,000) as we pay it off. It takes pride of place in the bedroom and is being filled up nicely.

It was inspired by a kid's show i used to watch back in the UK. It was called Blue Peter and each Christmas they did a charity appeal. To show the viewers how well they were doing with the appeal they made a "totaliser" with blinking lights that got illuminated with the new figure at the end of each show. As the deadline of the appeal approached the producers of the show would tease us viewers into thinking we would never hit the target inspiring us into one last frenzy of collecting stamps or whatever the appeal item was that year was (heaven knows what all those kids in Africa did with all those used English stamps - licking the glue off the back is hardly a nutritious meal). The total was always hit.

I could have made a thermometer for the whole debt but the ceiling is only 7 feet high in bedroom. I'll make another one when we have sorted out the first $80,000 but i still don't think i'll be able to afford any flashing lights like the one on the show.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stinky thoughts

AMY SAYS...

I'm in Dublin on a workshop this week. Being so far away combined with working intensive hours has caused me to feel extremely disconnected. I didn't bring my iphone for fear of insane roaming charges so I also feel quite powerless in terms of getting in touch; I either have to be at the hotel or I have to borrow my boss's phone.

In the meantime Gareth has not been out of sight or out of mind - just the opposite in fact. I've been grabbing any goodies I can find around our 'posh' hotel to take home to him. As I was making a 'dump' of newly found goodies into my suitcase I realized something was different about my socks:

The simplest and probably the cheapest thing brought me right back home to him - all of my socks were stuffed with fortune cookies and candy x

Shopping Jihad




GARETH SAYS...

I hate getting ripped off sooooo much. Here's a story from my pre-Operation Night Brace life that you might find amusing...

Before getting into this posting I need to give you some facts:

I brought a pair of jeans from the GAP: low-rise bootcut and dark blue, to be precise. I wore them for 5 days. On the fifth day I sat down and the jeans split in 3 places across the left knee leaving a whopping fat gapping hole. I was not happy. I decided to take them back and change them.



“There’s nothing I can do,” said the store manager of the GAP branch on Broadway. “You’ll have to ring customer services on Monday. They are open 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday.”

“But I brought them in this store?”

“Like I said you have to ring customer services.”

“But it’s Saturday – I want my jeans replaced”

“Call customer services.”

“Errrrrr errrrr – well, I’ll just stay here ‘til 8am Monday then.”

“If you do that I’ll call the police,” said the manager. With that he was gone - never to resurface during the following 2 hour ‘ordeal’.



The manager left me fuming. I felt like Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down.’ Something in me snapped. I asked the shop assistant if I could borrow a paper and pen.

At the top of the paper - which happened to be a piece of GAP till paper - I wrote… ‘WE THE UNDERSIGNED, WOULD LIKE ‘GAP’ TO ACCEPT THEIR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE POOR WORKMANSHIP ON THE JEANS THAT GARETH BROUGHT AND REPLACE THEM.’

I then proceeded to ask every shopper in the store to sign-it which they did happily wishing me good luck with my campaign.

I had managed to get 4 signatures until the fifth person I asked turned out to be an off duty GAP security guard. Doh.

I was told to stop harassing the customers. “When did I stop being a customer?” I asked. Good question, I thought. The security guard was stumped.

He told me that I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone in the store. So I came up with a new protest plan – I wrote the following on my knobbly knee that was poking out the hole…

‘I BROUGHT THESE JEANS AT GAP AND THEY ARE A BIT RUBBISH.’

I then proceeded to point my knee at every shopper who walked in. It wasn’t as effective as talking to people but it got a few laughs.



I was frustrated. I wanted to steal something – another pair of jeans – but I just knew that was asking for trouble so instead I decided to steal their time. I spoke to every employee who would listen. 

“I can’t talk to you.”

“Come on – this is fun - let’s debate, let’s argue.”

But no one would.

“Look I’m being nice about this I’m not getting angry - I’m smiling and being polite. Just think – this is a good story - when you get home tonight you’ll be able to tell your family about the eccentric English guy you met today who refused to leave the store.” The security guard wasn’t amused – in fact he called back-up security from another GAP store nearby. I was surrounded and still I refused to leave.

“This is not about money – the jeans only cost $60 – this is about the principle…. And people die for principles!” I was starting to get a little dramatic. I was on a Shopping Jihad.

Time passed. I’d now been there 90 minutes.



“Would you like to come and stand over here?” said one of the security guards, trying to move me away from the main bit of the store.

“That’s very kind of you to be thinking about my welfare but I’m happy here.” I wasn’t moving anywhere. I was in a prime spot – every shopper who walked in the store could see something was happening and as long as I continued to speak loudly about my predicament to the security guards they all soon found out what was going on without me actually talking directly to anyone.

“I’m sure you have somewhere you need to be,” said one of the other guards.

“That’s very kind of you to be thinking about my welfare but I have nothing else to do today except change these jeans. I have plenty of time.” I lied. I had arranged to meet my friend Caroline and was now 60 minutes late.

I’d been keeping her updated with texts.


3:15pm IN GAP HAVIN ARGUMENT MIGHT B L8


3:57pm SURROUNDED BY SECURITY


4:32pm POLICE COMING



That’s right. You read it correctly the police were coming. Security had had enough and they wanted me out the store, pronto. The conversation had gone like this…

“We’re going to call the police if you don’t leave.”

“Call them,” I said calling their bluff.

And they did.



Waiting the 20 minutes for the cops to show was a very long 20 minutes indeed. I could have runoff, but that would be like a suicide bomber leaving his special backpack at home - I was sticking to my guns/backpack and banished all thoughts of ‘oh no they’ll cancel my visa’ from my mind.



When confronted by two New York cops it is hard not to look at anything but their LOADED GUNS.

I tried to intimidate the officers with my finest colonial English.

“Good afternoooooonnnn officers. Pray tell, what are my options on this lovely Saturday afternoon.”

“You either leave or we’ll give you a summons.”

I was guessing that a ‘summons’ wasn’t some kind of American candy bar so I went with the first option and the police officers escorted me off the premises. 



GAP had won… for that day at least but I vowed that I would have my revenge. 

The officers told me not to go back in the store. 

I said OK. 

I asked them if they’d pose for a picture to commemorate this event. 

They said OK.



“One last thing,” said one of the officers. “I can’t help but notice that you are wearing the jeans you wanted to change – what were you thinking? You don’t wear the clothes you want to change back to the store. Are you mental?”



“No, I’m an Inventor.”



And with that, I leapt onto my bike and cycled off into the sunset to meet Caroline in my jeans with a hole.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ripples

GARETH SAYS...

My friend Blake has a great tattoo on his forearm. It is of a lake with ripples flowing out from the centre of it. He put ink to skin to remind him that it isn't what happens in life that matters but how you react to it. Wise words indeed and as the saying goes: "When the world gives you lemons make lemonade" and i reckon that at $1.50 a glass we only need to sell 120,000 cups worth to pay off the student loans.

Here's my sister's rather lovely recipe for strawberry lemonade.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Not bad for one month's work!!!

GARETH SAYS...

By trying hard to live on less then $20 a day we have managed to save just under $8000 from our pay packets. Oh my God!!!! We are both very impressed and proud of what we have managed to do. The light at the end of the tunnel is still far away but at least it is getting brighter.

Here is a list of the 5 things i would rather do with $8000...

1. Go to Japan for two weeks
2. Buy every KitchenAid product available
3. Eat at Jean George every day
4. Buy a home cinema system
5. Buy $8000 lottery tickets*

* On second thoughts this is a terrible idea. I once spent $50 on scratchcards as an experiment and all i got back was $16 and a silver finger from all the scratching.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Say it with French Toast


GARETH MADE...

"Personal Services"

GARETH SAYS...

I just got the following affectionate text from Amy:

"Fucker - they fucking laugh everytime i deposit your checks"

Let me explain.

Every time i give Amy a check to pay into her account i write 'for personal services' in the space along the bottom left where i normally write 'rent' or 'bills'.

Apparently she gets dirty looks from the bank staff every time she pays them in. Ohhhh how i laugh and ohhhhhh how Amy blushes.

It really is the simple things in life that are often the most fun.

Friday, May 16, 2008

On the road again

video

AMY SAYS...

We will both be traveling quite a bit in the next few weeks for work.

The good news is that my boss has graciously agreed to pay for my cars, meals and hotel while I'm away so I don't have to wait to be reimbursed for any expenses! Woo hoo! I'm going to miss Gareth a lot.

No Mo' MOMA

GARETH SAYS...

Tonight we are off for a bit of culture.

Thanks to Target, Friday nights at MOMA are free. You saving a whooping $20 and have a good four hours to run around and explore every corner.

Loads of galleries and museums do this in NY. It really does pay to do a little research before you hand over that admission fee.


Update: It was free but they wouldn't let us in. We had a suitcase and apparently that is against Museum rules. Hmmm next time we'll go back with a big old shopping trolley and see how they cope with that!

Fortune



AMY SAYS...

No we haven't hit the jack pot but we are rich with wise words: everyday Gareth packs my lunch with a fortune cookie here are my fortunes: (click on the image to enlarge-- I like the last one ;)

More Wise Words

SPIKE MILLIGAN SAYS...

"Money can't buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery."

Scraptastic

GARETH SAYS...

I'm pretty proud of how inventive i'm being with leftover food. We have just finished a 3 day training course with Coke and each day there was loads of food left over which the venue (knowing all about Operation Night Brace) kindly bagged up.

Today for lunch I'm having left over chicken (from Tuesday's lunch) with couscous soaked in orange juice (a cartoon left over from wednesday's breakfast) with cashews and raisins (from Thursday's afternoon snack). I sprinkled in some peas from the freezer and hey presto a delicious (hopefully) lunch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Horses Arse

AMY SAYS...

I had therapy this evening, yes we decided to keep that in the budget, thank god, anyway, tonight and I found myself saying:

"I have finally learned how to budget my money."

I couldn't believe it, since I have never been good with cash and I've been reminded of this by many. I'm always the last one at the party and if there isn't enough to cover the bill I always opt to pay the difference. There must be something in alcohol that makes me generous. I've never been one to buy fancy clothes but I do like a good macrobiotic meal and healthy doesn't come cheap! Or I'll wake up in the morning and decide I need a life size polystyerine horses ass (literally) and just buy it. I've always had multiple jobs, scholarships etc...

When Gareth told me he had a significant savings I was blown away. I really didn't understand how he did it.

Now I am confident, even after only two weeks of stealing food, living at mom's and using her toothpaste (without her knowledge, shhhh ;) that I can finally say I know how to manage my money.

(TIP: Check your bank account a lot, never ignore it - when the numbers fall you are spending money, when they rise you are earning money - just something no one ever told me ;)

“Give us this day our daily online bank statement”

GARETH SAYS...

I have become addicted to check my bank balance.

It is the first thing I do when I get online and I have been known to check it three times a day.

I’m terrified of going overdrawn.

We are sailing fairly close to the wind with Operation Night Brace.

An overdrawn fine is the last thing I need.

The banks in the UK are a bit more forgiving than the ones in the US.

“And I’ll have one for my sleeping friend”

GARETH SAYS...

Terrible journey back from Toronto on Friday. It took seven hours to do a
one hour five minute flight. Argggghhhhhh the pain of delayed and cancelled
flights. But every cloud has a silver lining. Air Canada gave out free
drinks on the flight – one per passenger. Never one to look a gift horse in
the mouth I went for a beer and - as the person was asleep next to me - I
asked for a beer on their behalf and drank that too.

PS It wasn’t all free beer, i picked up another good money saving tip on
this flight. The passenger in front of me had printed out Soduko puzzles
from the internet and stuck them on a clipboard. Hours of fun for free.
Check out this link for free puzzles - http://www.websudoku.com/

Debt lepers

GARETH SAYS...

It has been a bit strange telling people about 'Operation Night Brace’ they
instantly want to help and there have been lots of awkward 'Oh let me pays’.
I’m very wary of burning up all this good will in the first month, we need
to keep some back for when the novelty wears off.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Inflatable dreams

GARETH SAYS...

Our new tumour free inflatable bed arrived on Saturday. It is great but
there is one problem which might explain why it was $70 cheaper than the
last one. It is about a foot narrower and shorter.

Being 6’2” my toes are in for some cold nights.

Amy has promised to be my official toe warmer

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Forever and Ever and Ever

AMY SAYS...

The night before last I walked into a bedroom housing one massive blue silk water bed. I looked around a bit and said to the three fleshy bodies under the covers:

"Don't you think it's a little strange that you're all in bed together NAKED?"

They stopped chatting instantly, crooked their heads and looked at me blankly:

"No, we're all having a great time...come and join us." They echoed in unison.

I was confused at the nonchalant and oh so creepy response. But I proceeded with my argument:

"But, but you're all, well, NAKED."

"Why don't you come and join us Amy, forever and ever and ever."

"But you're my my mother, uh and my sister and, and, uh and my boyfriend, Gareth is that you?"

I was completely bewildered, but I took off my French military gear and got into bed. I inched the blanket up and over until it covered half my face.

After a minute or two I said "Oh I can't do this" and got out of bed.

I dressed awkwardly, flung my very dated red canvas bag on my back caddy corner and opened the green door. I was in Beetlejuice territory -- I looked out and there was nowhere to go except an endless sand dune and a man in a black and white striped suit screaming "You wanna play a game?" to the music from Wheel of Fortune. I slammed the door and looked back at the giant water bed, it was leaking intensely, the water was splashing up against the corners of the room; while playing in the background was a subdued soundtrack of women shrieking with hollow laughter, growing louder and louder until it hit a final crescendo.

(NOTE TO SELF: DO NOT fall asleep watching the Shinning ever again!)

Later that day, I thought about my nightmare and booked a date with Gareth OUTSIDE of the OPERATION and all of it's inhabitants - sometimes you need to take a step back, or in my case away from mom, and just be without an operation.

The wobbles

GARETH SAYS...

Amy is not a happy bunny.
Amy does not want to be thirty one and living at home.
Amy is regretting agreeing to Operation Night Brace.

Gareth does not know what to do.
Gareth is hoping it will pass.
Gareth is crossing his fingers.

5 letter word, not expensive

Last night i came up with a novel and cheap way of passing time on the subway. I asked the woman next to me if i could help her with her wordsearch. She was a bit taken a back. She had probably spent the day PAing away in some window-less office and her journey home was her little slice of 'me time'. Suddenly she had a weird Brit asking her if 'he could play'.

She said yes (probably out of fear that behind my smiling face was the mind of a serial killer). I spotted one quickly: CHARM diagonal backwards.

She circled it slowly wishing that her stop would come faster.

I was having a great time. CHARM was a great spot. I was on a roll but it ended pretty quick when she got off at the next stop and appeared to wait on the platform for the next train.

Oh well - easy come, easy go!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Veggie diet

GARETH SAYS…

It is expensive being a meat eater so I’m now pretty much vegetarian. We have been making loads of great soups – cream of broccoli, squash, pea and mint – and they have been great. To make enough for an evening meal and have enough left over for lunch next day I’m spending between $8 and $10 on ingredients. You can’t beat a good soup when you are trying to save.

Here’s a quick recipe for Squash soup…

Fry an onion and a clove of chopped garlic
Stir in a teaspoon of cumin and chilli flakes
Chuck in a chopped carrot
Chuck in a box of frozen squash (it is cheaper than fresh)
Tip in 750ml of vegetable stock
Cook
Blend in a food mixer
Return to heat
Season
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top and a slice of toast

$28, $20, $4

GARETH SAYS…

When we did our initial sums for Operation Night Brace we worked out that we would give us $28 a day each to live on but that would leave us with no money for emergencies so we are now trying to get by on $20 a day and we are managing to do this quite well. Amy has been spending as little as $4 a day!

The hot air balloon

GARETH SAYS…

It feels a bit like flying our very own hot air balloon trying to pay off these debts. We keep finding things to chuck out of the basket to lift us up and away from the weight of the debt. “Let’s sell the DVD box sets, the sofa, the bed … we need to get lighter – sell whatever you can – sell!”

And you know what? It is working.

Let them eat bread

GARETH SAYS…

I spoke to mum today and she is worried about me getting fat during Operation Night Brace eating bread because it is so cheap and filling.

Actually I think I am eating better than ever, I am cooking x10 more than I used so I know exactly what is going in my mouth. Sometimes when you eat out you have no idea what has gone into the food you put in your mouth – half a kilo of butter, all kinds of weird shit made in a factory etc.

Every mouthful of stuff I’ve made I know is good for me and Amy.

Frozen assets

GARETH SAYS…

My friend Emma came up with a great way to stop her melting her credit cards in the shops. She froze them in a cup of water and then defrosted them when she needed them. It stopped her from spending spontaneously but she still had access to them if she really needed them. It worked a treat.

I don’t think we will need to freeze our credit cards though. We are both pretty careful when it comes to hanging out with our friends Visa and Mastercard.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Free Money

GARETH SAYS…

A cheque arrived from HSBC today.

$50.

I get 1% cashback every time I use my credit card and I can redeem the points in units of 2500.

Ohhhh how good it feels to get something back from the banks.

As long as I pay off my balance each month it is free money and it doesn’t get much better than that.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A competitive streak

GARETH SAYS…

A scavenger hunt was organised last week at work to celebrate our 4th birthday. Each team was given a long list of tasks to complete: a team photo on the Staten Island ferry, a leaf from a public park, a cream puff from Papa Beards, a book from the Strand, a slice of cheese pizza etc. There were about 30 item/tasks on the list and they were spread out all over Manhattan.

We had 2 and a half hours to do as much as we possibly could. Oh and there was a $200 prize for the winning team. Kerching.

With the scent of money in our nostrils my team set off on an adventure to sweet talk strangers into giving us stuff for free.

We worked hard.
We got blisters.
We got sweaty.

And it turns out we got 150 points more than the other team. Woooowwww. We won. $65 each. Nice.

Points mean prizes

The conspiracy to keep you poor

AMY SAYS…

Welcome to B & H Photo, Video, Pro Audio, home to all Hasid’s, their wives, brothers, nephews, uncles, pets, children and grandchildren.

B&H is where I purchased my $4,000 HD projector. They are excellent when it comes to knowledge of equipment and competitive prices; the best in the city I'd even say.

They have a ‘used’ video department which I called today and asked how much I could sell my HD projector back for. I explained that I still have the original packaging, it was purchased under a year ago and it has less then 24 lamp hours on it: it is practically brand new!

The sales clerk laughed at me under his breath and said, "$800 was the best he could do." Oh my God, (or Eloi! Yesh' in Hebrew) what a racket!

Although my net worth has now dropped $4,000, I will take this valuable lesson away with me and while I'm at it make a vow:

Unless I have money to throw away, I will rent NOT buy ANY video equipment. I will ONLY invest in things that will appreciate, well, me and my hard earned cash! (This sentence is too long to translate into Hebrew for free)

Rubber dreams

GARETH SAYS…

Houston we have a problem.

Although that should actually read: Bed, Bath & Beyond we have a problem.

The inflatable bed that is to be our love mattress for the next 6 months has got a weird tumour! A bulge has suddenly appeared over on Amy’s side. The bed now slopes which means that Amy inevitable tries to push me out of bed each night (she would actually do this before the mysterious bulge appeared but at least now she has a excuse).

How this bulge came into being is anyone’s guess. Is it because it is next to the radiator? Is it because it is was badly made by the child labourers? Or is it simply an act of God?

We live in fear of it actually bursting one night sending us flying.

Keep your fingers crossed for us and our air bed.

Fight through stay strong

AMY SAYS...

1st RULE: You do not complain about OPERATION NIGHT BRACE.

2nd RULE: You DO NOT complain about OPERATION NIGHT BRACE.

3rd RULE: If someone says "stop" or goes limp, taps out the OPERATION is over.

4th RULE: Only two people to an OPERATION.

5th RULE: One OPERATION at a time.

6th RULE: No shirts, no shoes, no brats allowed.

7th RULE: OPERATIONS will go on as long as they have to.

8th RULE: If this was your first week of OPERATION NIGHT BRACE, you HAVE to fight though, ignore the tumorous bed, ignore the parent, ignore the aching back, ignore ignore ingnore and fight through!

Steakstasy

GARETH SAYS…

Amy was in bed sick when I got home last Friday but I was so excited I just had to wake her.

We had just celebrated or 4th birthday party at work and had taken over a Restaurant in Greenwich. Loads of people dropped out of the meal at the last minute but we still had to pay for their places - $100 a head. Yikes. What a waste!

Well it wasn’t really a waste!!!! The head waiter said I could take home the ‘invisible people’s’ food, what would I like? Hmmmm I didn’t have to think long about this. I ordered the steak. And quick as a flash I had a carrier bag filled with cow swinging from my handlebars as I speed home to show Amy.

Happy birthday ?WhatIf! xx

The steak is now sliced and diced and tucked away in the freezer and bits shall be defrosted from time to time to break up the vegetarian diet that I seem to have found myself in.

Humpty Dumpty

AMY SAYS…

There are many kinds of eggs out there all ranging in price from:
Chicken $
Caviar $$
Human $$$

I only have unlimited access to one of the above, namely Human. “$8,000 payable immediately after the retrieval of one good egg.” Woah! I looked into this right after graduate school and again this morning:

www.assistedfertility.com

I figure all I need to harvest is 23 good strong eggs (23 x $8,000 = $180,000) (I wonder what the tax would be - I'll make it 25 to be on the safe side) My 25 eggs would have to survive multiple screenings, tests, an incubator, an observatory and finally another woman’s womb!

Would I mind meeting someone, or more like 25 different little someones that claim to be mine?

YES!

25 fucking kids harvested to pay off my student loans?? Sounds like a Cronenberg flick for 2021...too much, not worth the drama and who knows what kind of psychological ramifications it may have on me and my, as of now, unborn brood. The fact that I’ve entertained this thought now twice scares me, a lot!

To stay or to go? That is the question!

GARETH SAYS…
I have a favourite tea shop in the Lower East Side. It’s called Teany’s (Moby owns it) and they serve a wonderful drink called a teachino – it is like liquid autumn in a cup: almonds, apple, marshmallows and ‘all that god stuff’. Mmmmmm yummy.

I used to enjoying sitting in their café savouring one every now and then. But if you sit in you have to tip which means you are looking at $5 a cup. $5 is far too much to pay so now, when I have it, I have it to go – saving myself a whole dollar! Wooo hooo.

Two marathons in 5 days

GARETH SAYS…
I did it!!!!

Last week I survived a whole week of cycling to work from 86th street. It is 5.2 miles each way which means I did 52 miles in one week. Not only did this save me $20 but it is also helping me reclaim the arse of my youth. The arse that seemed to leave me around the age of 24 when a regular salary meant that eating out became an option.

Cycling is one of my favorite things in New York. Deep down inside I am still very much a tourist – “Oh look Time Square”, “Oh look a rat” – and because I am not that fast I can really soak in all that this city has to offer. I am at one with the Chinese and Mexican delivery guys who are nipping up and down Manhattan delivering take outs. We pass one another with a nod. They look at my helmet with envy and question the crash resistance of their baseball caps.

One week in

GARETH SAYS…
On Sunday 27th April, I loaded up all my possessions into a van and left the East Village for my new life up in the Upper West Side. My old home and my new home are like chalk and cheese. The East Village is all dive bars and graffiti whereas the Upper West Side is all posh shops and doormen buildings with canopies.

I was in West Side Story when I was at school. I played Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks, which is a great part considering I can neither sing nor dance! Sadly I have yet to see a knife fight or Officer Krupke in my new neighbourhood but apart from that it is all going swimmingly. I love the kitchen in the apartment. It has a beautiful view and all the equipment I could possible ever need. Home cooking here we come.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rich wanker

GARETH SAYS...

I looked, semi-jokingly, into becoming a sperm donor a few days ago! At $100 a pop (quite literally) I had problem thrown $1,000,000 worth of the little fellows away between the ages of 11 and 31.

But becoming a sperm donor isn't that easy.

Each donor can only give 6 samples. They will get paid $100 for each sample but only after 6 months of the donation and only if they pass the correct tests. So you are looking at almost two weeks of no sexual activity for a disappointing $600 that you might not even get. Pants!

From the website:

You will need to collect 3 to 5 samples with an interval of 48-72 hours between specimens. These samples are used for quality assurance testing only, and will allow us to screen potential candidates. No payment is issued for these evaluation samples.
All semen samples must be collected on the premises.

You must have abstained from any sexual activity or masturbation for 48-72 hours.

The quality of each sample is checked for the sperm concentration (number of sperm cells) and motility (percent of sperm cells moving). This procedure is performed on the fresh ejaculate, and again within 3-4 days on a thawed portion of the frozen specimen for quality assurance
.

When I told Amy the idea she was not that happy.

She is worried that the kids I 'father' might end up meeting one day, fall in love and give birth to a kid with webbed feet!

This idea has been put on hold indefinitely.

PS While on the subject of masturbation check out this story on the bbc news website - hysterical!!! I can't believe he didn't get sacked!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The power of numbers

GARETH SAYS…
If 720,000 people gave us a quarter each we would have enough money to pay of the debt in an instant. That’s like going on a begging spree round every household in Guyana (population 738,00).

That’s a lot of sofas to look down.

Sweet

GARETH SAYS…
My old boss Jo is sending me suggestion on how to save money:

“Save the Pennies Challenge No 1: See how many sugar sachets you can pocket in a week. I'm thinking based on how much crap they give away with each latte you'll never have to buy Silver Spoon again...”

I’ve worked out there is about 1 gram in every bag so I’ll only need about 250 packets to make a sponge cake.

But she is not the only one giving me ideas. Following on from Rachel’s babysitting suggestion, Chris emailed me a whole business plan today:

“This is a license to print cash - personal training. You get 15 people to pay $20 for an hour session. Call it a boot camp. They all do it together. That's $200. Do it in a public space. You then pay a real trainer to run the session. Let's say its $100. You then get $100 for doing bugger all. If you run these sessions 3 times a day for 7 days a week, that's $2100 a week. $8400 per month. $50,400 in 6 months. The most work you will do are answering a few emails and making a few phone calls.”

Keep them coming folks.