Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Seven years ago, I prayed that God would give me direction in a career path. I was a scared high school senior searching for His will in my life. I prayed this prayer earnestly, and after some time I received his very clear direction. I would become a psychologist.

At the time, I had no idea what that would entail. I didn't know how uncertain my future would be, or that these would be the most trying times of my life. I didn't know that it would take eight years to complete His plan. It is better that I didn't know. If I had known in advance, I wouldn't have completed this journey.

It turns out that God knows best. Did you know that? Apparently it is a lesson that I must learn again and again. Throughout this internship application process, I have prayed the prayer "Put me where you want me." I didn't ask to match. I didn't ask to be placed in a certain position. Instead, I did the thing that is the hardest for me: I turned over control of my life to God. During the pain and uncertainty of the past few days I asked "Why? I am following Your plan for my life. Why are You allowing this to happen?" I heard him answer with that still, small voice. "I have brought you this far. I will not leave you now."

The internship site that I got is, quite frankly, perfect for me. Is it exactly what I imagined? No. But I will have great training and will get to work in the area that I love. I will only move 30 some odd miles from my own home. I will not miss out on a year of my niece and nephews' lives. I will not miss the familiar comforts of my family and friends. I will not have to wait a year to really begin my career. I am in the exact area that I want to practice. This is, and feels, right. You know, God-right. Not Tessa-right.

To those of you who have read my whining and fears over the last months, I thank you for sticking with me. For those of you who have prayed for me and encouraged me on this blog and through email, I want you to know how much that has meant to me. It has been so nice to have the outlet of a fairly anonymous blog where people who were objective and not too close to the situation could offer opinions and encouragement. Thank you, thank you, and may God bless you indeed.

Has this path been worth it? YES. Going down God's path is always worth it. Always. Further, I really, truly enjoy what I do. It is so fulfilling and deeply rewarding. I have the privilege of getting to help people. Every day, I reach out to those who are hurting and try to ease their pain. I hope that someday I can learn to love people in the way that Jesus did during his ministry here on Earth.

Praise to the Giver of all things!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Almost There

Today I went in determined to get an internship position with one particular site. After much ado, I finally was told that I would have a phone interview at 2:30pm. The phone interview went great, but then I needed to have another phone interview with the person that would directly supervise me. This person was called away on an emergency, but we had our phone interview this evening. It went well, too. Tomorrow morning they will call me and let me know one way or another. When I asked what my chances were of getting this position, they said "significant". However, I will not know for sure until tomorrow morning. I will post an update tomorrow evening if I have good news. To be continued...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Today's Shopping

*At Shoe Carnival: The red slingbacks and tan flats. The slingbacks are more of a bright red. I had a $50 gift card and about $3 credit on another gift card, so I spent $15 total for both ($7.50 each).
*At the used book store: Let me first say that it has gotten very difficult to pay even used book store prices after paying .50 per hardback at my library bookstore. Never fear; I persevered and bought anyway. ;P Here I had a credit of $4.27. The top two books (one on Cacti/Succulents and a really old Bible text) were $1 each. How to Get More for Your Money in Running Your Home was $2.95, and Why We Buy was (gulp!) $5.50. I will re-sell Why We Buy when I am done, but I have wanted to read it for awhile! Total spent here was $6 and change.
*At JoAnn: Three sets of knitting needles clearanced to .50 a pair and a set of six crochet hooks for $2.07. These will go into some Christmas gifts that I'm planning.
*At the thrift store: One .19 pink Tupperware cup. :)

Friday, February 23, 2007


If you have been following the Wilhoite Prayer Blog, you know that Amy is a young mother and wife with a very aggressive form of leukemia. She got the very bad news this week that there is likely nothing further that medical science can do for her. Please remember Amy and her family in your prayers.

Makes my own drama seem like not such a big deal after all. Perspective is a good thing to have.


My four closest friends did not match, either. I can't believe this.

But I am in a much better frame of mind now. I can do this!

Bad News

Well, I didn't match. This means that I have to go through Clearinghouse Monday. Please, please, please pray that I will get a site.

This whole experience has been very hard for me since, frankly, things usually come easy to me and/or opportunities fall in my lap. I'm sure this is a growth experience or something, but I'm not feeling very much like growing right now.

Please keep me in your prayers.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Odds and Ends

Thank you ladies for your support and prayers! They are greatly appreciated. I don't have anything clever to post this week since I am maxed out both physically and emotionally, but I do have a few bits of things going on.

* I have several things up on eBay that are selling really well! One is already sold because I had a person email me and ask me to set up a Buy It Now for way more than I expected to get. One of my friends has invited me over next week to look at some stuff of hers that I can sell. I'm very excited.

* I started mystery shopping and it is really fun! The money from this and from my eBay sales will be going to my student loan debt. It's a bit like throwing pennies into the Grand Canyon, but every little bit helps, adds up, and saves me from compounding interest!

* My laptop order was cancelled. I'm a little relieved since I felt guilty spending several hundred dollars when my current computer works fine AND I have so much student loan debt. That begs the question: Are you ever free to make large purchases when you have that much debt? This topic deserves a post of its own.

* I have my dissertation data almost completely scored. Next week I will begin analyzing it!

* I went to J.C. Penney to look at their clearance racks and did not buy a thing for myself. There were a couple of cute tops, but I don't really need any. I think something is wrong with me since I started thinking "$5.97??? This really should be less. Like $2.97." The cheaper that I get clothing, the less I am willing to spend in the future. I did buy a little baby boy onesie for $1.97. I have several baby, birthday, and anniversary gifts in the works.

That's all for now!

Monday, February 19, 2007

D-Day Approacheth

This Friday is the day that we find out if we "matched" with an internship site. At 10am Eastern (9am Central), emails will be sent out and they will say yes, you matched or no, you did not match. If I do match, I won't find out where until Monday. If I don't match, Monday is the day that the dreaded Clearinghouse opens. Clearinghouse is where unmatched future interns and unmatched internship sites try to quickly find each other. There will be around 700 people who do not get an internship site.

Why is this so important? Because you cannot complete your doctorate in psychology without a one year internship. You will remain in limbo until it is done. This is the single most important moment in our academic careers to this point. Everything hangs on this internship.

Everyone looks and feels terrible this week. Even the more positive people are tense and mildly depressed. Personally, I have two very painful and prominent pimples (more to come, I'm sure) and a stomach that feels nauseated. To combat the stress, I will be upping the amount of exercise that I get, making sure that I get plenty of sleep, and upping my level of general productivity.

At the end of the day, I know that God is in control and that He will place me where he wants me. As a very weak human, it is easy for me to forget that and to imagine that I have some type of control over my life. I could use prayers this week.

I will keep you updated!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cheap Laptop Alert

This week, Office Depot is featuring a Toshiba Satellite Notebook computer for $349.99 after rebate. It is available in stores and has limited availability online. The price is $549 and the mail in rebate is $200. From what I hear, Office Depot rebates are slow, but they do eventually arrive. I have been wanting a laptop for awhile, so I went ahead and ordered since this is the cheapest deal that I have seen. One caveat: apparently it runs on Microsoft Vista, which makes it run somewhat slowly. You can purchase some extra RAM to make it work more quickly, but I'll see just wait and see how slowly it runs when it gets here. I am supposed to get several really nice free items with various coupon codes and delivery was free. I also went through Ebates to get 2% back and I put it on my credit card (to be paid in full, of course) to earn points rewards.

Christmas Gift Idea

I know, I know. I'm way early on this one. But this is one gift idea that you need to start on now to make it work. I love giving gifts to my family and friends, but have a limited budget. I am planning on getting them normal gifts, but I am also going to supplement with this idea. One extra gift that I'm going to give to adult family members is stockings filled with stuff that I get for free. This includes the samples that I send away for, Walgreens free after rebate items, Staples free after rebate items, other FAR items, and stuff that I get reimbursed for through mystery shopping. My only rule is that it has to be completely free; I can't even pay shipping. So far this has been great fun and I am accumulating some really cool stuff. Note: If you are a family member who reads this, please forget it by December 24th. Thanks.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Art of the Hand-Me-Down

Much of living frugally has to do with learning how to get things for free. Two very important sources for freebies and hand-me-downs are your friends and family. In The Tightwad Gazette, Amy Dacyczyn cautions the reader to not turn down hand-me-downs. In the text she is talking about children's clothing, but I think it applies to many things. There is nearly always something you can use in what you are given. By the same token, you can return the favor with some hand-me-downs of your own.

This week, I stayed at the house of my friends B. and N. They are going to have a yard sale sometime in the spring, and they invited me to go through their pile and take anything that I wanted!!! I took the above picture, a CD organizer that hangs on a car visor, two new brown placemats, a silver heart bracelet new in box, the book Body for Life, and a coffee maker that makes enough for two travel mugs. It is missing the travel mugs, but I can just use tall cups. I don't drink coffee, but nearly everyone in my family does. What a blessing to have a coffee maker fall in my lap!

Accepting free things does not make me feel poor. In fact, it makes me feel rich. I can see the abundance in God's provision through hand-me-downs, but I understand that it can be emotionally difficult for some. Accepting with grace can sometimes be hard to do. Minotte at The Frugal Immigrants has a very well-written post on gracious receiving here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Another Frugal Blessing

I have many plans for my internship year. Mainly, I am going to do all of the things that I have not had time for while I've been in school. I have many lessons that I would like to take, and one such lesson is how to play the piano. I never took piano lessons while growing up; I took dance instead. I can play the flute and tenor saxophone (random, huh?), but for a few years now I have wanted to learn to play the piano. I have been keeping an eye out for a 61 key portable keyboard for a reasonable price. Reasonable being far below $100. Yesterday I ordered this Yamaha keyboard from Sears for $24.97. After shipping and taxes, it is still under $37!!!! The original price was $100, and Amazon has it for around $150. I didn't think I would get it since I read online that many orders were being cancelled, but I got an email today stating it had shipped! Yay for frugal music! ;)

A Ridiculous Chair Story/Blonde Moment

I have very dark hair, but I continually have "blonde moments". Remember how I wanted to go back and get the fourth chair for my future kitchen? Well, this week got busy and I hadn't had a chance to do so. On Tuesday night I had spent the night with friends, so I didn't get home until 10pm Wednesday. My mom had told me that she moved the chairs from the breezeway into the family room since it was snowing. I saw them as I passed by to dump my bags in my room and briefly admired their cuteness. We were chatting in the kitchen and she went into the family room to show me some stuff. I sat down on one of the chairs and then Mom made a reference to them. I turned around to look at them and realized that THERE WERE FOUR CHAIRS INSTEAD OF THREE. And I was sitting on the new chair that she had gone to get for me. Good grief! But now I have a complete set. ;)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Reaching My Financial Goals

Pretty much everything that I ever want to "achieve" has to be done through baby steps. You may think this has made me a patient person. Nay, dear reader. Negatory. I have mentioned before that this is one of those areas where God is continually dealing with me.

One of my goals is to be free of student loan debt by the age of 32. This is a huge goal, but one that I feel is do-able. I will be finished with school at age 26, but will only be provisionally licensed (a.k.a. reduced earning power) until the age of 27. That gives me a mere five years to be done with over $125,000 of debt. I'm not sure of the exact amount yet since I have another year of potential debt to factor in. I am certain that I can get this done even in that short amount of time. God has always provided an abundance for me; if I continue to be smart with His money, I know I will get it done.

I have three other things on my side:
1) I will be eligible to enroll in a program that will pay $20,000 per year toward my student loans for a minimum of three years (providing this program is still in place in 3 years)
2) I am honing my frugal living craft now. I will not make a huge amount of money as a beginning psychologist in southwest Missouri. But the amount I will make is plenty. If I can continue to live below my means, I will have extra money to throw at the debt.
3) I will have no other debt but student loan. No car, credit card, or house debt providing that all continues to go well.

In the meantime, I have decided to start paying back money on my loans. I do not have a job, so this can be tricky, especially since I am also saving for certain things. I have decided to allocate my money in the following manner:
1) Any windfalls, tax refunds, rebate checks, and consignment shop monies will go to savings.
2) Anything that I sell (other than at the consignment shop) will go toward the debt. This means eBay, half.com, garage sales, and so on. I may also do some mystery shopping, and this money would go toward debt.

I have already listed some books on half.com and am gathering other things to sell on eBay. I am not happy with eBay's fee structure, though. Has anyone had any success with Yahoo auctions? Also, I may set up an Etsy store sometime in the next few months. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Few Hours at the Flea Markets

I hit the jackpot today at two flea markets! I found a plastic crate of trim, ribbon, lace, and such for $5. It has tons of vintage and other gorgeous stuff in it. The second picture is the contents spread out over the floor. I will not have to buy trim for the rest of my life! It was very much worth the $5 to me as I *love* fabric, ribbon, trim, and paper goods. Basically any kind of textile.
Next, I got two more vintage (-sounds better than 'old') Tupperware. I can never find it for cheap, but these were decent at .75 for the sandwich container and $1.50 for the large container.
Finally, I got three vinyl and wood chairs for my kitchen table! My kitchen table is an old black restaurant table, and these will go perfectly. They are the exact right height, too. Funny how God provides the perfect thing, isn't it? :) The owner of the flea market told me he had one more, so I may go back and get it to have a set of four. These were $7.95 each.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Few Interesting Rebates

1) Cheerios Racing- Buy 10 of the 50+ products listed on their form, get $10 back. You can find many of these products on sale for $1 or less. There are *always* coupons out for these products, so be sure to use them. There is no dollar amount necessary, it is just 10 items. You can use multiple receipts and it's not over until March 11. You do have to cut out the UPC symbols, so don't forget to do that. Get the rebate form here.

2) Get a free bag of Feline Pine cat litter- the form is here.

3) Aquafresh Dr. Seuss rebate- I've posted this before, but it bears repeating. Buy any 2 Dr. Seuss Aquafresh toothpastes or toothbrushes and get a free Dr. Seuss rebate. These often go on sale and there are usually coupons out for these products. I've done this offer before and the book comes really quickly. The form is here.

4) Paypal is having a rebate where you spend $30 and get $15 back. The details are here. Make sure you *carefully* read the terms and conditions. This has been confirmed as being legit, but if you are still wary, call (don't email) Paypal to double check. I am thinking about buying a $30 Barnes and Noble gift card with this deal.

Happy shopping!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I've Been Compromised!

Or, rather, my debit card number has been compromised. My sister-in-law's mother (and, incidentally, my next door neighbor) works at the local bank where my account is. She called today to tell me that somehow my debit card number has been compromised and that I need to get rid of my current debit card and I will get a new one issued in 10-14 days. I checked my account online tonight, and *thankfully* there are no fraudulent charges (thank you, Lord!). I'm not sure how this happened since I am very careful with how I use my debit card. I don't use it online, at gas stations, or any place where it leaves my sight, such as restaurants. I use my credit card in these instances instead since I pay nothing if I get fraudulent charges. This is one reason why I will *never* be without a credit card. For the next 10-14 days, that is what I will use. I'm soooooooo thankful that this problem was so minor!


A couple of weeks ago I went to my local tiny library bookstore. Hardbacks are fifty cents. :)

* The Most Wonderful Dollhouse Book: SO FUN! It shows you how to make dollhouses out of cardboard boxes and furniture and dollhouse people out of stuff you have around the house.

* Super Toys and Games From Paper: Another cool book. It shows all kinds of toys, little and big enough to sit on that you make from paper.

* Trash to Treasure Christmas: My favorite of this bunch. Another make-stuff-from-what-you-have-around-the-house type of thing.

* Container Gardening: A handy reference, but I think it's just for flowers.

* Dark Reunion, Contents Under Pressure, and Roots: Dark Reunion and Contents Under Pressure were short, fun mystery reads. I picked up Roots since it is, to me, a classic and I didn't have a copy.

I have way more books than I can read and have completely run out of room for them, but that hasn't slowed me down any!

Work In Progress: Valentine's Day Banner!

(I know- the quality of the pics is heinous. I *will* learn to use my camera + Photoshop properly, but that isn't gonna happen for another 5 months or so. Bear with me. I think you can click on the pics for a better view.)
On Saturday, I was feeling crafty and looking to procrastinate working on my dissertation (surprise, huh?). I had some felt, and remembered that Monica often features felt-y crafts. I searched and found this Thanksgiving banner that I loved. So, I decided to make this Valentine's Day banner with felt and other materials that I had laying around. The 'L' is going to be some gold fancy buttons that I cut off of a ruined sweater- the bits of blue that you see are from the sweater and will be removed. I also used other scraps of felt, lace, buttons, ribbon, and a couple of crocheted yarn chains. I used pinking shears on the edge of each block, since I have an unholy love for all things pinked. Or is it pinking sheared? I still need to sew on the 'L', decide what kind of ribbon or twine that I want to use to hang it, and find some cute clips to attach it. The total cost to me was about forty cents.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Post In Which I Find Out That I Have An Organic Brain Condition

On Tuesday nights, I have a neurological testing class. Tonight, we were learning about a particulary memory test. For a while I have been aware that I don't have a memory that works like everyone else's. For example, I cannot remember what I talked about a few minutes ago, but I can remember the website from a text book that I used one year ago (www.ablongman.com/carlson8e if you were wondering). I sometimes find it difficult to recall what I did over the weekend. In short, I seem to have a poor working memory + some other difficulties, but I remember really weird and useless information with zero effort. People generally do not believe me or think I am being dramatic about this, but it is the truth.

Tonight I got my proof, which was actually nice to have. The professor asked for volunteers to take and administer (give) the memory test. I volunteered to take it, and my friend B. administered it to me in front of the class. Initially, people thought I was faking how poorly I was doing or that I was trying to be funny. This turned into concern. Some comments were "Have you had a head injury?" and "Tessa, we need to do some exercises to improve your memory." Basically, to do as poorly as I did, there must be something wrong with part of my brain. I think the problem lies within my parietal lobe, as I also have difficulty with multiple visuospatial tasks. For example, when attempting to put leftover food away in a container, I inevitably will choose a container too large for the amount of food. I am simply unable to see the correct size. I have learned to compensate for this by locating the size I would normally choose and taking the next size smaller instead.

I have learned to compensate for this memory problem as well. I am fairly intelligent and I have good coping mechanisms, so you wouldn't know that I had this problem if I didn't tell you. I have learned to use lists for things that I need to remember for the short term. My long term memory doesn't seem affected. I didn't even become aware of this problem until I was in graduate school and learned what "normal" memory was, so obviously it has not held me back any.

I am going to try to get either a full neuropsychological test done or maybe just some memory tests to have "official" results, but this won't really affect my life one way or another. I just think the brain is fascinating and wonder how God came up with all of this stuff! And isn't it neat that I can still function well even with this seemingly important part not working 100%. If you were wondering about the cause of this problem, I believe it to be genetic as my mother seems to be similarly afflicted.

And let this be a lesson to you bloggy people: Don't doubt the Tessa when she tells you something, even if she is a little dramatic. ;)

Monday, February 05, 2007


In the last six weeks, I have lost two inches off of my abdomen. Yeah! :) I guess the whole "eat less, move more" statement works.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

My 100th Post Is About Shopping

If you didn't already know, now until the end of February is a fabulous time to hit up clearance racks in all the stores. This is a particularly good time to think about gifts for Christmas and all other occasions. Try going to stores that you don't always go to, and poke around in their clearance sections. The stores want to get rid of excess Christmas and other merchandise before they have to inventory it.

For example, I haven't found any good deals at my local T.J. Maxx in years. However, this afternoon I bought tins of Calvin Klein women's socks (2 pair per tin) for $2 each, a Wilson sport package with women's sport socks (3 pair), a water bottle, and a wristband for $3, and some Nautica and Laura Ashley pajama tops for $1 a piece. I think I may go back tomorrow for more of the socks and Wilson sets. I also got a beautiful olive-y silk blouse for $10. That is more than I normally spend on a shirt, but it was too beautiful to leave on the rack. I also spotted some really nice wool scarves for $6 in the men's accessory section, so be sure to check out clearance in every department.

Friday, February 02, 2007

More Christmas and Gift Goodies

During my Ice Storm Depression, I did some shopping. Surprise, surprise.
Photo One: 90% off Christmas clearance from Michael's. I bought five fancy ornaments, a beaded garland, cute gift card holder, ornament hooks, a package of mini present ornaments to use in a craft project, stencils, Wilton goodie bags, a gold fake spray of greenery, and two packs of blank cards. Total paid: $3.93
Photo Two: 75% off Christmas clearance at Paper Factory. I bought tiny blue and white bows, a mini decorated Christmas tree, silver bead garland, two packs of stickers, four gift bags, paper doilies, and blank cards shaped like purses that I was going to give as a present but decided to keep for myself. Ahem. Total paid: $3.87
Photo Three: I finally hit the jackpot on toys clearance at Target. I guess people were too busy trying to survive or something. ;) I got the Superman costume-thing that blows up with the help of an internal fan for $3.77 down from ~ $15. The Build-A-Bear accessories kit was $1.24 down from ~ $5. The X-Men box contains a DVD and four toys for $3.74 down from ~ $15. The set of figurines with Batman and other friends was $4.98 down from ~ $20. Two of these have an intended recipient and two are to go in my gift tub.

File Your Tax Returns For Free!

I must be the last person on Earth to know about this, but I was so excited to hear it! If you meet certain qualifications, you are eligible to file your federal tax return for free. Go to the IRS Free File page to select a company. Most states also have agreements with certain companies to file state tax returns for free if you meet the guidelines. Go to your state department of revenue site to find out more. If you live in Missouri, the information you need is here. Please note that for most of the state returns they are only free if you file state and federal together. I used TaxSlayer and it was one of the easiest things I've ever done. It took me *maybe* twenty minutes. If you have complicated returns, you may want to see a professional such as the wise and astute Liz. Good luck and many happy returns!