Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why Does it Feel Like Friday Today?

Six weeks of not buying food while working and 24 no spends
-Yesterday I did not spend money while working
-Today I will not spend money while working (there's just no need to)

I am going to buy apple juice, bananas, salad dressing and yogurt when I'm done working. I'm shooting for little daily purchases for a bit. It's just easier for me and my spending average is way to high right now.

Exciting stuff. I hope you're all having a terrific week.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Past Few Days Spending Rundown

Six weeks of not buying food while working and 24 no spends
-Thursday was so long ago I can hardly remember what I bought but I know I purchased food while working.
-Friday I did not spend money while working.
-Saturday = NO SPEND day 14 of the year
-Sunday = NO SPEND day 15 of the year

-Further on the no spend front: I'm rethinking the 24 in six weeks goal. I cannot get my mind around planning well AND spending little. But I've been really overwhelmed with other stuff this month too. We'll see how it goes. Today could be a no spend day but I almost think I'm better off picking up a very few bare minimum essentials today and then doing the same tomorrow. My spending is just SO far up this month that I wonder if trying to get $10 or $8 worth of stuff a day would work better for me right now (it is what I am used to). This planning thing is biting me in the butt because I'm spending so much at once and then going back for more shortly after. I am just awful at shopping. For real. I suck. Sorry for the whinny rambling paragraph of bore. I shall conclude now.

Average daily spending for February: $19.76
SOOO disappointing!!! I'm quite glad that we're only 2 months into 2014.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

We Made a Train Track

I love it when my kid thinks I'm a some kind of a magician or a genius.

Free fun! (Especially since I did actually get the blue tape for free)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Berry Cookie

I'm quite proud of myself for this little fellow. Okay, in truth it was the easiest thing I've ever made but it's so pretty. Ever since I learned how simple it really is to make pies I've gone a bit overboard and my pants are feeling it. Today I tried using puff pastry for the first time. Instead of making an entire pie (and then eating at least half of it in a day or two) I used a small bit of puff pastry, two strawberries and a little sprinkling of sugar. Hooray for the strawberries finally going on sale again! 375degrees and 25 minutes later we had a "berry cookie." That's what my son is calling it. I only made one. We split it in half and shared. A little bit of sunshine during another blizzady day.

We've gotten a little bit of snow this year.

I take photos. Especially during the winter in Michigan. This year we've had a truly awesome winter but it's been frigged, with negative temps most of the winter, horrid wind chills and I have a 1 year old that is virtually always with me. As much as I've been longing to get out there with my cannon and capture some of the sights this year it has not happened. I cannot subject the little guy to this weather.

Our great Lake Michigan is more frozen then ever. The channel leading to the lake is frozen for the first time that I've ever witnessed. We've had snow storm after snow storm of beautiful sparkling fluffy feet of snow. Snowbanks are now covering buildings, fences, small trees, and our mailboxes are all virtually gone (buried). Some of my fellow Michiganders have been complaining like you would not believe but in truth we have had WEEKS of solid ice covering our roads, our roofs, our cars, and everything the eye can see. I actually had to chip over an inch of solid ice off of the entire seal of my car door one morning before I could get into the little bugger. At present people are climbing onto their roofs to shovel off 3 and 4 feet of snow that is causing roofs to leak and fall in. The photos filling facebook right now of failing roofs is staggering. It's been an intense winter, to say the least.

Since I am unable to do what I love and capture a glimpse of my world on film I decided to make a collection for you all of other folks photos from this winter on the west side of Michigan where I live. Call me a poacher... I've linked most of the photos to their source, otherwise given photo credit underneath.

Photo by Michelle Bos
Virtually every single morning this winter; freshly fallen snow everywhere!

I can't find a source on this one.
 This is a high school not too far from my city. Believe it or not alot of places are looking like this now.

Photo by Sue Smith
This is my home, at least a few minutes away from it. I walk here at least 30 times a year. Those people are all standing on water; Lake Michigan in fact.
This is what it looks like most of the year.

The beach? Really, this isn't what normally comes to mind when people think of the beach.
Home sweet home. It's amazing what wind and snow and cold temps can do, isn't it?

There is a mailbox in there. Look closely.

This is an overview of our frozen lake That crater is Lake Michigan. It is FROZEN and surrounded by huge ledges of ice and snow.

Photo by Kelly Goossen
It warmed up the other day; 40F! After this long winter it honestly felt like summer. "Come on everybody it's warm outside! Let's head to the beach!" This photo just tells it all. This winter has been cold!

I couldn't help but post this one even though I can't find it's source. It's really REALLY funny only because it is SO true!

We did get out a little bit this winter   :-)

I am very ready to see green. I'm looking forward to flowers, leaves and warm sunshine with sheer delight. But this winter has been fabulous, beautiful, and memorable for sure. "This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Quick Spending Update

Well February is still being... February. Blah!
Since I instituted a six week challenge for myself three days ago and I like to do quick daily updates along with such challenges AND it's been three days since an update: here I am.

Six weeks of not buying food while working and 24 no spends
-Monday I did NOT buy anything while working contrary to my plan of buying a cadbury egg. Don't fret I've had one since.
-Tuesday however I did spend money while working, 59 cents on a donut. I was feeling ill, tired, annoyed, and other such greatness. I had almost bought a 20 oz. coke plus some other $3 worth of food when I said, "NO little lady. Maybe your will power for buying a treat is none but that doesn't mean you have to spend $5." I'm actually quite proud of myself on that one. There's a big difference between 59 cents and $5.
-Wednesday I did not buy anything while working. Yay!

-On the no spend front: no news. I'm still struggling in that area. I've a lot on my plate this month and I'm finding it VERY difficult to plan as needed for no spends (and good spending). I intend before the night is up to sit down... that might not happen, anyway to squeak out a few minutes at a time for planning a good grocery trip and hopefully schedule a few well thought out no spend days.

Average daily spending for February: $18.64
I know, not good. I'm working on it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I LOVE March!

And it's less than two weeks away.

I'm feeling So, so, SOOO very inclined to complain about a million annoyances that are weighing me down, making me feel trapped, lonely, and hungry. Oh... I want to... nope! That would just be too long of a blog and not much good would come of it.

March ushers in spring. It's the month my son was born. I have an intense love of Ireland and get all giddy about St. Patricks day. It's almost here. It's almost here. It is just about here!!! Today I'm just going to hold onto that. Everything else, blah! Blah, blah, blah! What can one do but trudge their way through it.
I wish this photo was more accurate. We don't shovel very often so there is a minimum 6 inches of snow pack under my little guy's feet here. That is NOT an exaggeration.

$12 a day first annual fundraiser finale

$229.62 was donated to the family in Guatemala.

It's not $6000, it's not $600, but I couldn't be happier. It's $229.62 more than I could have given them all on my own. It's $229.62 more than they had before you gave. Thank-you to all who made donations. From the bottom of my heart: THANK-YOU!

The original post is here.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Might be About Time for a February-ish Challenge

I have not sacrificed health this month. Sometimes when I'm trying to save money I make sure to feed my son really well and then I eat a whole ton of cheese sandwiches on really cheap bread. We've eaten our fair share of lean meats, a nice variety of veggies, and fruits this month. And it's really showing in the budget BUT I've also been horribly relaxed about bringing snacks to work with me this February. $1.69 for a 20 oz. coke and $2 or $4 for a sandwich or some other such thing (I work in a grocery store; there are LOTS of other such things to choose from) can be killer when you let it get away from you. I think I've let it get away from me.

I'm not saying that buying something while working is totally off limits but for the next six weeks it is. I would like to go six weeks of not spending while working. I've done it before and I need to do it again. I've just been too undisciplined in this area and I know it's starting to take a toll on my daily average. With this one exception: I've been seeing the cadbury eggs in the backroom (I'm certain they made it to the sales floor this weekend with Valentines being over) and I am going to buy one while I'm working tomorrow. There's just no getting around that fact.

I've also lost sight of no spends lately. They honestly help me to save money. I'd like to challenge myself to 4 no spends a week for the next 6 weeks.

Six weeks of not spending while working plus 24 no spend days: February 17 thru March 28.

Average daily spending for February: $18.72
Although, I don't think I need to buy anything tomorrow (except an egg) which brings my average to $17.79.
We'll see.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Today the Sun Shines Bright

We heard birds singing this morning.

My son glowed, beamed from ear to ear while listening to their songs. He tried to imitate them and ended up making odd squeaky noises. We looked for them out the backdoor and found them filling a tree in a yard a few houses away. It was fantastic. This has been a BEAUTIFUL, long, snowy, bitterly cold winter. Birds!!! Oh, lovely fluffy, ethereal birds!

I have to say that one of the dreams I hold dearest for the life of my son is that he will love nature; that he will appreciate the beauty and wonderment that fill this fantastic world we call home. Watching him delighted at early morning bird songs... a tiny step in the right direction for a dream come true!

AND Spring is on its way!

Jessica, I believe I heard at least one of them singing "happy birthday to you" (in birdy of course).

Friday, February 14, 2014


I'm actually excited about going to work today!

My husband and I haven't done much (if anything) the past several years on Valentines Day. I think mostly because we can't justify spending the money on a "silly" holiday and because my birthday is quite close. BUT working in a supercenter/ supermarket/ I never know what to call Meijer I see hundreds of people (mostly men) scrambling through store this week trying to find the perfect flowers (okay lets be real, some of them just grab the first bunch they see and take off running) and candy and stuffed animals. It really is kind of silly, "It's February 14th. I better buy my gal some romantic stuff." But working in the stores and seeing the masses partaking in the silliness all at once is always a really awesome experience for me. Something about witnessing man after man after man and then a few woman here and there carrying large bouquets of roses through the store makes me smile and smile and smile again. I just love it. Knowing that millions of people all on the same day will be receiving gifts, sentiments of love, and FLOWERS... ooh, it's really neat.

Similarly I love the stores being "decorated" with thousands of roses all week long. Maybe the roses are placed all over everywhere because they are for sale but in my mind they are all there to make my path incredibly more beautiful and it makes me giggle.

Happy Valentines Day to you all, whether you celebrate the silly holiday or not, whether you claim to have a valentine or not, whether you will be receiving roses or not, Happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Itty Bitty Beauties (my mug)

Because in life it's the millions of tiny things that collide like droplets of water in an ocean that truly make each day worth living; a smile, a giggle, the smell of ash in the air...

I have this iridescent blue glass mug. At certain times of day it's a lovely purple. Something about this simple piece of dishware has always intrigued me. I can't say that I've ever thought any other mug beautiful but this one strikes me as a rose among... mugs.  Maybe some of it's appeal is because it was gifted to me after I saved a drowning surfer. A mug seems the appropriate gift, right? At least when the US government is involved. (but that was lifetimes ago) Even so every single time I pull it from the cupboard maybe if only for the slightest of moments I feel a flutter of life well up somewhere inside of me. The outside of my treasure is perfectly cylindrical with a slight lip. But the inside is octagonal with 8 matching sides and 8 little corners. It's octagonal insides not only allow the little vessel to catch and throw off light like crystal window art but (this is my favorite part) when you're mixing the cream into your coffee or stirring your freshly cooked stovetop hot cocoa the blue purple mug sings, like a wind chime! It makes me smile every time I hear it's music. "Ding, ding.... ding, ding, Ding!" I wonder if any of the Coast guardsmen hear the music when stirring their coffee in this seemingly simple piece of kitchen ware? I truly do. It brightens my day each time I use it (which because I am particularly skilled at breaking things isn't incredibly often). Oh, the little things, and dings!

$12 a day first annual fund raiser (update #6)

This is the last day for the fund raiser.

I'll pull the donate button off the blog at midnight.

Thank-you everyone


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wowzers I am struggling with will power this month. I made a stellar shopping list yesterday, stuck to my guns, only purchased what was on the list and today and tomorrow were scheduled no spends. Then I decided that I wanted to make chili tonight instead of meatloaf and ended up spending over $20 today... what?

Can I blame the major overage on eating much better food this month? I'll just do that. It's because we've had better healthier dinners. Lets not think about the 5th 20oz in two weeks and the unscheduled box of cheezits that I told myself I was not going to purchase.

Monday, February 10, 2014

And MORE Diaper Talk

I was determined to use cloth diapers with my little baby boy. Apparently not determined enough. There were a few dryer sheet incidents right at the start. I registered for the Bum Genius cloth diapers so I was very blessed to receive quite a few at my two baby showers. I was SO excited to cloth diaper. I had told myself that I'd use disposables for the first month just to get used to being a new mommy and taking care of little tiny baby. And so I started using the cloth diapers about a month in. We had never acquired enough to use cloth exclusively. I stopped at the diaper store a few times a month and picked up one more diaper here, and one there.

The first time I found the dryer sheet in with my freshly dried diapers I freaked. "OH, NO! What have I done?!?" The second and third time a dryer sheet showed up in the basket with them I just felt like an utter failure. The dryer sheets (and for that matter dryer sheet residue left on the inside of the dryer (which I hadn't known at the time)) basically water proof your diapers. So they become the opposite of super absorbent like they were designed to be.

I looked up "stripping" diapers and tried everything suggested several times but the diapers still leaked, still left my kid rashy, and still weren't coming totally clean. These three things are all supposed to be side effects of residue on the diapers. I kept washing them, kept trying to strip them, and kept using them on and off. But did I ever accomplish the cloth diapering mommy status as I'd originally dreamt of? No.

I've had my son in two diapers a day for about the past two months. He's been wearing one for his nap and one for bedtime. He's always been a very heavy pee-er at night and he's always leaked out of the cloth diapers. For the past month at least I've been using a cloth for naptime and a disposable for bed. I have not purchased any diapers this year and I do not intend to. We are down to our last thee disposable diapers so I went for it and put him in cloth last night. Success!

Very long (rather boring) story summarized I am so proud to officially be a cloth diapering mommy. So maybe my child is basically potty trained and it's silly to try and claim the title BUT he's not quite two and I'm done with disposables. If for no one but me that is an accomplishment. Woohoo!

Moral of the story: just don't even use dryer sheets. They are evil. You might as well not even stick your diapers in the dryer. Just hang them to dry. I've been hanging them to dry since about 3 or 4 months in. It's really not a hassle and just takes a bit more time. The end.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Average Daily Spending This Month

Yes, eight days in and this is my first financial update of the month. I've really been struggling. The time crunch involved with not having childcare has encourage us to eat restaurant food a few times already. Not cooking at home is a killer. I've bought pop at work at least 4 times (that's $1.69 a pop; adds up fast). And just about everyday I've picked up groceries but I haven't been having $5 and $10 bills. My "little" grocery stops have been around $20 regularly. Every time the total pops up I find myself standing there thinking, "why so much???" The simple answer to the question I've asked myself four times already during the first week in February as I'm trying to rush out of the store is that I have not been planning. I haven't been looking through the ads and making lists and planning my meals and purchases around what's on sale. I have just been running in, grabbing stuff like the toys R us shopping sprees we all dreamed of winning when we were children (don't tell me you didn't) but at the end of the race through the store I have to pay for all my goodies. It's not a pretty picture and nothing like winning every child of the 80's fantasy toy run. (shoot now I have to go to youtube and see if I can find that 80's ad for anyone who's starting to wonder what nonsense I'm rambling on about...)

I AM going to pull off a no spend day today. IF I can squeak through one tomorrow too then
my average daily spending for February is: $17.88.

I need to get back to skimming the ads and making lists. I'm honestly amazed at the difference in totals at checking out when you do and don't make a list before hand. If there's one thing I'm learning (and there are many more things than one) it's that planning and saving go hand in hand. All is not lost. We're only 5 weeks into 2014 and only 1 week into February. Time for this girl to pick herself up, dust herself off, and keep up the good work (or get back to it anyhow).

Friday, February 7, 2014

$12 a day first annual fundraiser (update #5)

With only five days left for my fundraiser several kind hearted people have donated a total $229 so far. A hearty heartfelt thank-you to you all!!! I am genuinely thrilled to be able to bless the family in Guatemala with this gift.

If you've $10 or so to spare in the next 5 days I'd love for you to consider sending it my way for the family in Guatemala. I will be wrapping up the first annual $12 a day fundraiser on February 12.

The original fundraiser post is here: http://mymoneystory.blogspot.com/2013/12/12-day-first-annual-fund-raiser.html

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Hats Are Feeling Rather Heavy This Month

February has thrown some added pressure into the mix. My mother in law comes over to our house for a few hours a few days a week to watch the munchkin. She's traveled to the other side of the country for the entire month; visiting with relatives, wine tours, whale watching, Chinese New Year celebrations and sushi. We can function rather well without her but not having that little overlap with our work schedules in the middle of the day means me working much earlier or later than usual, less time home together, and more one on one time with tired daddy and little Abe. I'm trying to be the nicest me I can be so hubby isn't entirely miserable from the extra "work" this month. Shoot, being nice is tiring.

I'm also stressing more than I should about the budget being really tight this month... probably all year and the fact that our van seems to have pooped out. We haven't taken it in anywhere due to lack of funds and we're crossing our fingers that it was just cold... hehe. I'm not so sure the brakes and power steering cut out just because it was 0 degrees outside. You know how sometimes things just weigh on your mind and drain you and make you feel weak and helpless? Well we're down a vehicle, down a baby sitter, locked in the house when the other adult is working, and short on cash. Fun stuff!

Balancing housework, spending time with Abe, sleeping (which I've been doing rather poorly since I'm stressing a bit), and work has just been pitiful thus far in February. I kind of think I need to take the advice of a good friend: make a list of everything I need accomplished and then just cross half of it off and let it go. Anyone want to throw a few hats in the fire with me?

The good news is that when I'm really tired, really stressed and short on cash I tend to throw abandoned to the wind and spend, spend, spend! Okay not good news; my spending is up this month and I'm not excited about it but I have been pretty disciplined. I don't feel like I've gone on anything even remotely resembling a spending spree. Just life I guess.

Blogging really is therapeutic. I think I'm going to light a lovely candle, turn on some pretty music, and make dinner now (while I spend time with my son who's popping bubbles in the kitchen). OH, he peed standing up today!!! That's something neat I think. Oh, my little man.

Now playing pretty music! 
Kari Jobe

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I Think I Like Being Frugal

Spending less money and wanting less stuff has really opened my eyes to the littlest of things. I can't say that I love this journey of pinching pennies and cutting corners and figuring out what I can get at the grocery store for three days with $8.63 (that's just an example) but I do like who I've become. You know how they say that people with disabilities have other heightened senses? A blind man might have hearing 300 times better than someone who can see... I feel like I'm unable/ unwilling to purchase "stuff" comparable to someone else in similar shoes but I find joy in the tiniest of things and the oddest of places. I don't believe that most people really notices as much hidden beauty.

Like the way the sunbeams hit the dust in the air and make it look pretty (and then you think to yourself, "how am I breathing with all that in the air?"). Or when the morning greets you with giant fluffy snowflakes falling to the earth in slow motion... a real life snow globe seemingly filled with jelly. Sitting on the floor reading books with your 2 year old, just overflowing with gratitude and knowing that this is the best life gets (it could not be any sweeter). Smelling something, ash in the air, and transporting 3000 miles to a place that makes your heart soar. Sitting down with a cup of hot coffee (brewed from the cheapest beans you could find) and listening to silence... golden! Driving to work with 7 foot snow banks hugging the path and realizing that for the first time in weeks there is no ice on the road. The sense of delight and absolute calm that can come from that tiny revelation; if you've been there I hope you've found joy in that moment. Hearing wild birds chirping outside... I've reveled in that sound more times then I could count.

Just one of the up-sides to an arduous journey.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Well It's Not Storage Shelves

But it serves it's purpose.

I would LOVE to purchase that 8 cube white storage unit for my son's room. It's not even that expensive but we do not NEED it and there are other needed things right now. I would like for each of his new Christmas toys to have a permanent home mostly so that he learns to clean up and organize. Later, later will come...

In the mean time I grabbed my 20 year old can of light blue spray paint (it's at least 8 years old anyway), an empty Maxwell house jug (coffee), home made mod podge (elmers glue and water), and scribbled on a scrap of paper. It's not storage shelves but the little guy already understands that the cars go in the blue tub. He cracks me up too. I asked him if he wanted to keep his cars in "this" and he shouts, "YAY, cars!!!" and starts jumping up and down. There might actually be one organized person in this family.

I'm pretty sure that all the spray paint is going to scrape off within a months time but that picture is snug on there. It might end up a truly ugly storage container but my mission is accomplished even so and I did not spend a single penny. Score!

p.s. All of his cars fit in the tub with the lid tightly in place. I stuffed the bottom with a big toy so you could see the cars in this lovely photograph. The tub is a game for him now too. He loves trying to get the lid off and on (which he's good at but it takes effort).

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Just Another Day

Taxes: Filed
Composting: Done
Blue color hunt: Finished
We have a color and shape of the week and try and do a color hunt every day. This week is blue.
Kitchen: Cleaned up
Two loads of laundry: Washed and folded
One craft: Accomplished

Go ahead and call me domestic.
I think it's nap time now.

There's so much snow outside the Christmas cactus
thinks its Christmas again already.

$12 a day first annual fund raiser (update #4)

There are 10 days left for my fundraiser.

Three fine folks have donated thus far and I'm thrilled at their kind hearts and generosity. If you've $10 or so to spare in the next 10 days I'd love for you to consider sending it my way for the family in Guatemala.

In a way this fundraiser is for me. I'm not keeping any of the funds but I've been wanting to send a monetary gift to this family for quite sometime and I just don't have the means (currently... hey, I'll be debt free someday!). So this fundraiser is a way for me to realize one of my dreams a bit earlier than I might be able to do on my own (the dream of gifting into the lives of others). If you've read much of this blog you're also aware that I dream of adopting and giving a home to children who don't have one. I hope that one day this will be a part of my life but in the meantime I'm cleaning up our financial mess and praying that my husband understand my hearts desire. I admire this family so much, as they are taking in children (families of children in fact) who are un-adoptable for legal reasons and giving them a permanent home (legally). These beautiful orphans now have a mom and dad and siblings when otherwise they'd be left in an orphanage or on the streets.

There's a lot of ugly in this world but there are many, many, many, really great people working to make a dent in the mess.

The original fundraiser post is here: http://mymoneystory.blogspot.com/2013/12/12-day-first-annual-fund-raiser.html

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Saving Money Oops

I ran out of face lotion a few days ago. I feel like I've had the bottle that just emptied for years. It lasted a long time and I loved the stuff BUT it costs $16. I actually spent a few days deciding if I'd purchase another for $16 or try something new for less.

I think you can pretty easily guess that I went for a cheaper face lotion. Ugh, the stuff smells like a 95 year old lady. It seems nice. My face was smooth and moisturized (I have fairly dry skin AND we're in the midst of dry, dry, dry, arctic blast winter of the century). But its stinks. My face smelled horrid all day after I used it.

The moral of this story is don't buy the "cheaper" stuff without smelling it first... although there was a seal on it. Hmm, still make sure you smell it first.

And a bonus photo from the snow adventure:

You'd Think I Bought Him a Pony

I sprung for the $3 (originally $6) shovel. It got all the way up to 21F today so we jumped at the heat wave and made a fort in the backyard.

We've gotten so much snow that we didn't actually have to build a fort at all. We just had to dig a hole in the center of the yard. He had so much fun this morning.

Of course mommy took the opportunity to do a full on photo shoot. It's the first time he's ever played in the snow though.
It's possibly the best $3 I've ever spent.

February stock up results

February stock up money: $84
Toilet paper
Laundry detergent
Bar soap (I found some on clearance so even though it's not needed I thought it a wise buy)
Gallon of organic milk for Abe
Face soap
Face lotion
Birthday present for my niece
3 pounds of frozen blueberries
2 boxes of girl scout cookies

I'm planning to spend $15 a day this year on everything I purchase. One of my new approaches is to take an average of $3 a day at the beginning of the month and stock up on some of my least favorite things that always seem to ruin my budget (I know, girl scout cookies are not really one of those things). Ideally I'll plan out gifts for the month from this money as well. After I've spent the stock up money that leaves an average of $12 a day for all additional spending.

I'm afraid I'm really going to regret not getting any pet food with the stock up money this month but I think I can make it to March before needing any more. Then I might just have to use all of the March stock funds for pet food... or at least half of it.

Here's to a fabulous month!