Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ponies and Tea

Yesterday was so great. I spent $40 (that I'm not including in the average daily spending budget because it was for an activity and I don't include classes (like gymnastics) or activities (like horse back riding) in the budget) but it was such a neat day. I picked up my oldest niece at noon. She played at a playground with my little guy for a long time and they had a blast.

When little Abe went down for a nap my brother dropped his two oldest girls by me so that I could take the three nieces to a pretty pony tea party. It's starting to look like I'm super into horses. I'm really not. I didn't grow up on a farm or anything like that. I wasn't super into horses as a little girl like some people are. I've never ridden a horse actually. There's just a really neat stable close by that gives lessons and throws parties for littles that a friend from High school owns.

Each girl got to ride a pony two times. We had tea (actually cider and pink lemonade), little sandwiches and too many cookies. There was a ring toss game on a fence, a hammock that was super fun (even though it wasn't really part of the tea party), a wooden horse to play on, and many different animals. The girls ended up feeding tons of hay to the ponies and horses and to the goat. They got some horse kisses in the palm of their hands (I think for the very first time in their lives). They also got to hold a rooster and chase a really friendly kitty. They ran around a ton. Somehow I had the wildest bunch of girls with me. They were truly the life and spunk of the party. I'm speculating it has something to do with these three being with their aunt and not their mommas. I think I'm way too lax with littles. They were very well behaved but so spunky! They immensely enjoyed each others company and they helped me to realize that little girls are much more crazy than I'd anticipated. Wow, they were a riot!!! I won't let you in on any of our absolutely off the wall conversations (like what if someone only ever ate carrots and they turned completely orange but they ate the stems too so their face turned green and then they could be a carrot for Halloween... oops I let one of the ideas slip). These little ladies have really big imaginations!!!

This might have been the highlight of that party for this little princess.

So proper.

There's just something about girls and horses. So very precious!!!

How absolutely adorable is that?!

It was a fantastic day. Today is another protest in town against the hospital for their choosing to stop using midwifes there; midwives that hundreds of us love and depend on. I've been keeping myself busy, this is for sure.

Average daily spending for September: $19.83

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Mailman Brought me my Very Brand New Bike!!!

Funny Story. Maybe two weeks ago the neighbors across the street put a REALLY nice little spider man bicycle at the curb for trash pick up. I saw it on my way home and ran inside to tell my husband about it. I said "We should walk over and get it because it looks like it's in perfect condition." My husband said, "No way. We are not taking the neighbor's trash... well maybe when it gets dark." I told him that it would never be there until dark. It looked in perfect condition. It was a little too big for Abe but in less than a year he'd be big enough to ride it.

First mistake, the kiddo heard the entire conversation. Second mistake, I should have just walked over as soon as I got out of the car instead of going inside to discuss it with the hubby. Not more than three minutes later, as little Abe was looking out the window at "his new bike" (at least he was under the impression it was his) a man rode past on a bicycle, turned around, stopped at the neighbors trash pile, pressed on the tires of the spiderman bike, shook it a little and then picked it up and rode off.

Little Abe screeched in horror. "That man, that man, that bad man took MY brand new bike!!!" He began to cry and repeat this sentence over and over again. It was awful. I felt like the worst mom on the planet. What kind of mom talks about getting a bike from the neighbors trash in front of her kiddo and then has to stand there and try to console her child when the trash bike gets taken away? Not my finest hour. I told him that we would go to the store and get him a brand new bike someday soonish. He's starting to understand what "some day" means so he wasn't super thrilled but he knew I was being honest. He calmed down after awhile and has been talking about his new bike ever since the incident. Right now we do not have the funds available to buy this kid a bike.

Yesterday a friend messaged me on facebook a photo of a little boys bike that he was getting rid of, "do you want this... BTW free." Uh, are you kidding me!?!?!?!? He hadn't heard the story of the trash bike either. It was just out of the blue. Needless to say I am feeling very blessed. I know a lot of people say it all the time but in truth the Lord always does provide. I cannot tell you how many times we've "needed" (I use that word loosely because I have seen poverty) something; a new couch because the old one was busted, a new fridge, a bigger car seat, a new dryer, a bicycle for our heart broken two year old and we decided to not rush out and charge it (which I totally almost did with this bike incident), waited much longer than was comfortable and then someone offered said item to us. The Lord truly does provide!

Our friend dropped the bike by sometime last night so he messaged me to say it was in the back yard this morning. I took little Abe back there this morning and said as we walked out the door, "I think there's something out here for you." He saw the bike right away and ran to it overflowing with glee. He exclaimed loudly, "Oh WOW!!! A bike, a brand new bike! The mail man brought me my very brand new bike." He bunches up his fists and does a full body shake when he's really excited so that was the next step in the excitement. It was awesome! 

Average daily spending for September: $20.59

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Working to get this month under $20 a day!!! Getting there.

Average daily spending for September: $21.13

Side note: I cannot believe how busy I've been lately.
Protesting the community hospital is hard work apparently.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Average daily spending for September: $22.48

With eight days left in the month, let the sprint begin. I think I can get that sucker down under $20 a day by the 30th. I think I can, I think I can...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sooner or Later

Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.
C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair
Don't worry, I haven't been crying but I've these heavy things on my mind and they're numbing in a way. I feel like I've just been sitting and thinking for days. My mind is tired. The above quote is a good reminder to get going. Sometimes you just have to stop thinking (if that is possible) and move ahead, maybe it's not possible to move on but move ahead anyhow.

Average daily spending for September: $23.19
And I still haven't bought a new pair of lounging/ sleeping pants. Mine officially have all worn too thin to repair and the three worn pair all have holes. Gah!

Interactive Irish Surname Map from 1890 Census

I love ancestry info. I love Irish history. Ninety percent of the books I read are Irish history books. I just found this interactive map and I'm blogging about it mostly for my own reference. You can type in a surname and see all the counties where people with that name were living in 1890. My Irish relatives emigrated to the United States out of Northern Ireland; I've distant relatives living there. This map doesn't have any of our clan in the North during 1890. Our last name changed through time. My Grandmother's maiden name was Toal (Her dad and mom moved to the United States from Ireland). Through research I've seen that it was most likely O'Toole originally from the Irish O'Tuathail. The O' was likely dropped at some point and it became Toole. It would have later evolved to Toal. I half wonder in they became Toal's when they migrated to the north. These are all guesses.

I've been able to trace my English ancestry pretty far back (I'm mostly all Irish, Scottish, English blood (Maybe some Spanish too, right Sluggy)) but I can't get very far with my Irish or Scottish ancestry. I know my Scottish Grandpa's family came over through Canada. My English Grandfather's family appears to have come over at the very beginning with the colonials. I image there are probably some ancestral surprises in his line. My English Grandmother came over when she was just a baby. I really need to get my hands on the family Bible from her (it's no where near me at present).  It's sad how she lived next door to me for years and I never knew what wealth of knowledge was at my finger tips with that Bible.

Family history honestly amazes me. Knowing that all these people long gone were directly responsible for me being alive, for my son being alive... if anything had happened to a single one of them before they gave birth to the child who'd join my family tree then I wouldn't be here. History is crazy that way. It's a giant web of intricate events where if a single tiny strand of spider silk snapped thousands of people would have never lived out their lives. I love reading Irish history and imagining that my relatives were likely apart of the events I'm now reading about in books. I'm sitting here cheering them on. As they're escaping a viking raid in a currach, I'm like, "Way to go Great x1000 Grandpa! Get out of there!" I'm in awe of the past, absolutely in awe!

Here's the map for anyone that's interested in checking it out.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Well Folks, We Have a Petition Now

My local hospital just announced that they are discontinuing the use of their midwifery services. This announcement has caused quite the stir in my community as many of us LOVE the midwives that practice at our hospital. I believe that every woman should have options when it comes to such an amazing and vulnerable time in their lives. Whether you want to deliver at home, in a hospital, with a doctor, with a midwife; these options should be available. Our hospital taking away the option for us to deliver there with a midwife is unbelievably disheartening.

I personally chose to birth my son in a hospital assisted by two incredible midwives. It was the perfect decision for me. I had to be induced as I was almost two weeks late and there were signs that my baby had stopped growing but my midwife worked to induce me naturally so that I didn't have to have pitocin. I communicated early on that I did not want an epidural or medication and thankfully during my labor and delivery no one asked me if I did. I felt very respected, cared for and comforted throughout the very personal and vulnerable experience. Medical intervention statistically is much lower with midwife assisted births than with those done by doctors. For woman like me who desire more natural methods and less to no intervention midwives are a great choice.

I'm devastated that the hospital only a few blocks from my house is taking this away from me and all the other woman in my community. Our midwives are amazing. We've started a petition to let our voices be heard. Woman should have options when it comes to their health care and most especially something so life changing like pregnancy, labor, and delivery. If you would add your name to the petition letting my "community" hospital know that the community of woman in this country believe they should have options available to them concerning their health care and pregnancies. I personally appreciate your support beyond measure. I'm praying daily that this terrible decision would be reversed. (Our midwives are not gone yet. They're scheduled to be done practicing at the hospital on December 5th of this year)

The Petition is linked here ^


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Been Absent but Very Busy/ Plus a Little Rant About Midwives

My work schedule was pretty loaded last week.
I've recently been organizing a "family gathering" for the four groups of people I've traveled to Guatemala with over 4 years.
I babysat for a friend on Friday directly after work.
Yesterday was the Guatemala teams family reunion.
I don't feel as though I've sat down for the past week.

Plus I haven't been sleeping well because the hospital I delivered at just announced they're doing away with the midwives. I'm heart broken. I hope to have more children but even if I never do I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to deliver at a hospital with a midwife as opposed to a OB/GYN doc. The midwives were the PERFECT choice for me and I am devastated that other woman in my area won't have the option that myself and so many others had. If I do have more children I CANNOT imagine anyone else assisting the birth but the midwives I saw with little Abe. I love them! It's weird how something like this can cause a person to loose sleep but for me it is. The midwives were such an enormous part of my pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I've seen 4 OB/GYN docs and never felt comfortable (even felt traumatized honestly) with them. I'm so sad.

Actually, no matter where you're at if you agree that woman should have the option of seeing a doctor or a midwife at the hospital they choose to deliver their children at please join the facebook page that was created in support of these amazing woman. We're trying desperately to reverse the hospital's decision. We're speculating that it's completely financial. Midwives cost less than doctors. They use considerably less intervention methods and medications which brings in less revenue for the hospital for each midwife assisted birth. There was definitely not an incident that brought this decision about so it seems that it could only be a greedy money thing. The link to the support page is here. There are some neat birth stories on the page too. Many of us have shared how our experience was and why the midwives mean so much to us. I will be protesting. I have never protested anything in my life but I will be holding a sign in protest with my son and the other moms in my community who are outraged.

I just added up my spending for the past week and it's still pretty bad. I need to purchase more dog food tomorrow. That's going to make it really skyrocket! We're invited over to a friends house for dinner tonight. I should pretty easily be able to pull off a no spend day today at least. Ah, one day at a time!

Average daily spending for September: $23.65

Monday, September 8, 2014

What a Rewarding Evening

AGAIN, my life revolves around food WAY too much!

I cooked up more goose this evening and it turned out even better than the last one. I'm almost afraid to cook the others. It just couldn't get any better. I'm so impressed with my two year old for chowing down on this new meat too. Along with our goose we had a sliced up black krim heirloom tomato from the backyard and a box of organic mac n cheese that I got on sale for $1. That means that tonight's dinner cost $1. One of the most satisfying dinners I've ever had; satisfying in several ways.

To top it off I tried out a new dessert recipe yesterday that a dear friend of mine posted to her blog. <-linked here. It's an icebox cake with just 5 ingredients that turned out wonderfully. I used lemon instead of lime for mine and since my husband is no fan of citrus (or fruit for that matter) I decided to split the recipe in half and bring a cake to my neighbor. Little Abe and I walked next door this evening while the goose was cooking and my neighbor was so touched. She tried the cake a short while later and said she loved it.

I feel really great right now. Great dinner. Super cheap dinner. And brought a huge smile to the neighbor! Oh, also pulled off a NO SPEND day today. <Happy Dance right here>
English version of recipe linked under photo
The recipe called for a garnish of lime peel. I grated the lemon peel quite small and we were able to eat it with the cake. It was really yummy! Thank-you for the great recipe Pieliekamais!

Goose For Dinner

That tomato back there is the only one it's plant produced.
Its some sort of purple/ black tomato.

I think I managed to rather successfully cook the goose my father in law shot (round one anyhow). Seared in a hot pan on each side for 1 minute and then cooked in the oven; I think I had it at 375 for 15 minutes. It is a lot like steak with a very gamy after taste. I cooked it better than any steak I've tried at anyhow. My mom never could cook steak either... at least when I lived with her.

My husband refuses to eat it because he's... stubborn. He will be eating leftover chili tonight and little Abe and I will be eating more goose breast steaks. My chili is quite good but if you ask me he's missing out. I mean, how often does one eat goose?

I'm shooting for a no spend day today which would put September's daily average at $28.53. Yep, it's still really up there!

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Dirty fingernails are so much classier with nail polish!

These past two weeks I reset a very name brand nail polish section in six stores. That just means I pulled out old colors, installed new colors, and new graphics. There was one new color that I thought was pretty neat but mostly I loved the name. "Rooorange." After six resets I was pretty convinced that I "needed" it. But exhibit number 1.) I don't wear nail polish. And exhibit number 2.) it cost $8.49 plus tax. 

You might ask, "now who in their right mind would spend $9 on nail polish they virtually never wear mostly because it has a cool name?" I'd have to answer, "A good number of people actually. That's the power of good marketing." You pass by a billboard one too many times, watch a commercial just enough that it gets to you, see a sign in front of Starbucks that makes a certain beverage look completely irresistible. As humans we're suckered into purchases of this kind regularly. Sure maybe it was something you would have bought eventually anyhow. Maybe it was something you needed. But somewhere along the line a good deal of purchases we make are because someone marketed those items to us in a savvy way. It's truuue.

I decided in the end not to buy the rooorange. It left me feeling sad (and took a good deal of pep talking myself out of) but I dug my heels in and stuck to my resolve. I had one bottle of this brand nail polish at one point in time but I was pretty sure I gave it away to my sister because, again, I just don't wear nail polish. I happened upon it in our bathroom cupboard about two days ago and was positively giddy. Accidentally finding it felt like a reward for not buying the other bottle. Of course I promptly painted my nails after the discovery and in truth I feel a little rewarded each time I notice the flash of turquoise out of the corner of my eye. It's like a little whisper of, "job well done; way to resist!"

*side note about the photo: I did a ton of yard work today and pulled weeds in the tomato bed.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

One Way I Choose to Save Money

Maggie just beginning her hair cut

This is round number three for me of at home dog grooming. Last time we took our miniature schnauzers to the groomers it cost us $90 for the pair. We used to take them to the groomers two times a year. By choosing to cut their hair myself I've now saved $270. I just use a nice pair of scissors and trim their hair for short periods of time for about a week. I trimmed up our other dog last week. Once they're all trimmed I clip their nails and give them a bath and then we've a pair of brand new dogs for free (only a good deal of time invested in the procedure).

We've always had their bodies and legs trimmed all the way down but left the eye brows and beards with a little bit of length. I hate the traditional schnauzer trim. This time around is the only time we've totally cut off the beard. There were some mats in both dogs beards so I decided to just give them both a fresh start. The bit of extra one on one time with each pooch (they rather enjoy the grooming) is well worth the money saved too!

September is going to be a good month, September is going to be a good month, September is going to be...

Average daily spending for September: $31.96

I feel like September is financially just shot. Am I about due for a $20 a day month. Yes! Do I want this to be a $20 a day month? No! The thing I struggle most with is that when I'm in the pressure cooker I become mush and it's SO much more difficult for me to resist stupid purchases or tell myself, "no, you absolutely do not need that." I wonder if it's a "you always want what you can't have" syndrome because when there's money in the bank or when I'm sticking to the budget nicely for a good amount of time it's so much easier for me to be responsible. When things get tight or when my budget just seems obliterated then I have no self control.

I'm feeling the pressure right now. If I were to set a goal for $18 a day average this month (I'm trying to be reasonable here) then I've $14.51 a day left for the remainder of the month. I haven't been able to get under $17 a day since January. $14.51 a day is just... well, it sounds like a challenge. I might not be the best with challenges but I'm certainly not good at passing one up.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chicken, Chicken, Goose?

My father in law is an avid outdoors man. He just brought us some wild goose. He said to cook it like steak but I always ruin steak and we don't really have a grill. I've watched you tube videos even about cooking steak. He gave us a goose last year and I over cooked the poor thing like you wouldn't believe. I'm looking for help, please anyone, advice on cooking goose fillets... I think you'd call it fillets??? He gave us a bag of about 5 or six maybe breast meat pieces. Yikes, I'm so lost.

Any suggestions or experience with cooking goose?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

This is My Sort of Remodeling (only $18)

Today I had a moment of extreme weakness. I passed by a chalk board that was on clearance for $3 (originally $13) and an incredible blue shelf that was on clearance for $15. I hardly ever buy items like these but I picked both of them up. I've been wanting some sort of toy shelves for my son's room for the longest time. And the chalk board... $3! I wanted to grab three or four of them. I'm happy with myself for coming away with just one.

Here's a before and after photo of the now toy shelf wall in little Abe's room. The chalk board is also in the after photo. My little guy's bedroom was formally my husband's music room (and DVD storage area) for let's see about 6 years before the baby came. As you can see from the before photo it's very slowly evolved into Abe's room.

A few random bits of info about what's pictured above:
Before the shelf was there most of those toys had a spot somewhere on the floor in his room.
I LOVE the shelf. I've been looking for something similar for ages but couldn't ever justify paying what they cost. $15 was a steal.
I intend within the next week to draw up pictures for each cubby and the shelf on top so that he is able to put his toys back where they "belong" without assistance.
I saw a pin on pinterest where you place painters tape on the wall and then you can use regular tape over the painters tape to adhere pieces of paper. That way you don't risk pealing paint or leaving residue but can still just tape items to the wall. It works great. That's how I have the letters hung and I was able to move them with all the same pieces of tape.
We are learning a letter, shape and color each week. This week is the letter "E." Eventually the entire alphabet will be on that wall.
The orange slide belonged to my husband when he was a child.

I chose the title to this post very tongue in cheek. I know that adding a shelf to a room is not remodeling but it's quite possibly the closest I'll ever get. I could never see us tearing down a wall or putting in new cupboards or things like that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

So Simple it was Silly

I just got back from an hour long walk with little Abe. What an adventure!

It's not that we don't go for walks but I usually consider a walk a good source of exercise and I take him in a stroller. Today we ventured out both on foot. I don't think I burned a ton of calories but we explored our neighborhood together and we had a great time.

Picked up sticks, broke them, and used them as swords
Said hi to neighbors and the mail man
Jumped on our shadows and played shadow tag
Found ant holes and watched the little guys racing in and out
Got to watch a few garbage trucks collecting trash close up (Abe LOVES garbage truck day)
Felt the bark on several different trees and looked for bugs crawling in the "tunnels" (I learned that tree bark has tunnels)
Watched a squirrel eat his lunch
Walked down our alley and got to look at our backyard from the other side of our fence (the new perspective was really fun)
Jumped off tree stumps and rocks and the occasional weed in the middle of the sidewalk (not much of a leap but still fun)
Played "I spy"
Talked about the names of different streets and started to learn our address
Got down on hands and knees and looked at dew drops on blades of grass (he got to pop the drops with his fingers and get his hands all wet)
Had the simplest of adventures!

Sure it wasn't much of a "work-out," sure there was a skinned knee, sure we walked around one or two blocks twice, sure we didn't get anything new or keep any of the treasures we found but my little guy had so much fun on our walk (I did too) and he learned a lot also. Life with a two year old is constantly new, constantly fun, and so easily adventurous. I sheepishly admit that going for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood where we noticed and explored nature was surprisingly very new and adventurous.

Like I'm always saying, you really just need to remember to look. There is SOOOOO much lovely out there just waiting to be experienced and noticed. It's almost always found in the simplest things.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tons of Free Dutch Fun With the Kiddos

Don't ask me how the Dutch have fun... I haven't the foggiest.

I asked my sister in law if she'd want to get the kiddos together at a park today. She suggested we go to the Dutch heritage village in her town instead. It would have cost me and little Abe $13 (or maybe $8 if he's still too little to be charged, not sure) but she lives in the town so she gets in free. We just rode with her.

Her two oldest children were in school but little Abe got to spend the morning playing with his cousin who's only 6 months older than him and he got to visit a tiny bit with the baby of the family. There was a carousel for the kids to ride, a neat veggie and herb garden that the kiddos were allowed to water with little watering cans, chickens and peacocks to look at (and talk to), a nice play ground set, an old Dutch Organ that we got to listen to (his cousin danced the cutest little dance to the music), a large windmill from the Netherlands we got to go into, and there were horses in a pasture to look at. I'll mention the flowers and landscaping that covered the entire grounds on my own behalf. I can't say my little one was super impressed with them but the village has some great gardeners working for them. The flower beds were spectacular.

I extend a hearty thanks to my sister in law for visiting with us this morning, for coming up with a great adventure, and for getting us in free. Free adventures always leave me feeling so accomplished and satisfied! Now I'm off to work for the day.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rambling About Dinner

One of my goals for spicing life up last week was to make a new dinner. I sort of marked that one off the list today. My husband is NOT a fan of "different" meals so I made one of his absolute favorites and switched it up a little bit. I made mini chicken meatloaves, garlic and parmesan mashed potatoes and carrots, and corn on the cob. I've been trying to think of creative ways to use the tomatoes so I cut my meatloaf in half, topped half with mashed potatoes, put tomato slices on top and then did the same layering one more time. I topped it with shredded cheese and melted the cheese in the oven. My husband does not like casseroles so we never eat them. I considered this little creation a casserole of sorts (yeah, I know, not the same thing).

Those are all tomatoes from my garden.
For dessert I made bread pudding with vanilla custard. My husband loves bread pudding but I was not raised on it so I've never much eaten it let alone made it. Frugally challenged over at Trundling Through Life mentioned a "summer pudding" in her latest post. I had to google that to see what it was and although it's a totally new food to me I was somehow inspired by it to make a bread pudding for my hubby this evening. I will tell you I'm so glad that I did. It turned out great, so yummy and the vanilla custard is amazing!

I love that I'm 34 years old but I can still find totally new things to do and totally new things to experience all the time. Happy and full here right now! 

August Numbers Are In

The below list is a simple summary of all our cash outflow for August minus my husband's spending (which includes his lunches and any spending strictly for himself; ie going to lunch with a friend, picking up beer for band practice, video games he buys, ect). Each of these categories has several things inside of them. For example home expenses includes the mortgage payment (and escrow), and equity line. Vehicle expenses includes the car payment, gasoline, and car insurance.

Home expenses $1145.96
Vehicle expenses $560.75
Utilities $350.47
Credit card payments $545.68
All spending $561.72

Average daily spending for August: $18.12

I would LOVE to have come in under that $18 a day mark. I think I did really good this month considering I purchased a $20 toy for my kiddo, we had a birthday party we attended this month, we went out for a nice dinner last night, I purchased a book and some "school supplies" for little Abe (we're working on learning letters right now), and I spent $20 on blueberries we picked. I really did watch all of my spending closely this month so I am proud of myself.

January $15.66 a day
February $20.27 a day
March $17.01 a day
April $19.99 a day
May $20.55 a day
June $17.05 a day
July $17.88 a day
August $18.12 a day

Average daily spending for 2014: $18.23

I really didn't know where my daily average would end up this year. I hadn't included spending for my son in my daily average before this year. I'm starting to think that if I end 2014 under an $18 a day average I will have done really well. I was hoping for $15 a day but it's looking farther and farther off the radar. I might just revise my goal to $17 a day for the year. That sounds like a decent challenge.

Well September, here we go!