Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cleaning and Cake

Today is "we're all coming over to your house for cake" day because "you're not allowed to not throw a party for your kid" apparently.

I honestly don't like hosting, at all. Maybe I would if it was less obligatory every time and... I'll just stop there. I write all of this not to complain as much as to say my house is so nice and clean now! That's the best part of hosting, I think.

So that's my happy note for today. What a lovely clean home I have! <big smile>
(I'll post photos of the cake later. That's of course another happy part.)

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Month of Things I Love

In keeping with the theme of Valentines day I thought I'd do a whole series of posts about "Things I Love" this month. My goal was about five posts a week. Easy peesy, right? It wasn't as easy as I'd hoped and not because I was in a time crunch (but a little because the winter blues kicked in this month). I started looking around my home for these "things I love" and I found very little. Don't get me wrong, it was a fun revelation that I don't own very much stuff that I adore but a revelation indeed.

Whenever I'm cleaning and de-cluttering and trying to unload stuff from my home I have such a difficult time parting with "things." Mostly it's because I hate the idea of a useful thing (however little use it may actually own) ending up in a landfill. It's not so much the "getting rid of" that I struggle with as the "what to do with" that really stumps me. I'm losing my train of thought now... I thought I had a stronger connection to stuff than I actually do.

I like that I'm not in love with my things. In fact, after I wrote the Grandmother's Honey Jar post I realized that any "thing" I love in my house has an intense amount of sentimental value and almost always it's correlated with a very special person or an experience in my life and there really are very few of these things inhabiting my home. I also learned that the majority of things that mean a great deal to me are tucked away and are not in use, much like the honey jar. I didn't realize that I was protecting the stuff I actually care about to the extent that I do. It's making me re-evaluate some of my stuff and I'm trying to come to terms with actually using the things that I do actually care for. It seem silly to have things that actually bring me happiness and spark good memories packed away out of sight.

I love our home, but not so much that I'd be devastated to move out of it. Our love our furry kids; one cat and two dogs. I love my husband and son and our extended family... my side is cooler though, hehe :)
I love Jesus and our Heavenly Father and definitely reading the Bible. I love experiences I've had; traveling; Ireland, Guatemala, NY, Georgia, all of my one west coast trip and the ten different years of camping for a few days in Bushnell IL (in the middle of a huge piece of empty land out in the country) for a Christian music fest where my husband and I first admitted our crushes to each other... the list goes on. These are the highlights I guess. I love being outside, breathing fresh air and feeling the wind, staring at stars, getting dirt on my hands and under my nails and in my finger prints (I'm really bad at wearing gloves when I garden). I like making things; I love creating art. I truly love food and eating. I will not start to list all the food I love but chocolate and pizza top the list. I love to read but don't do so often enough. I love history; learning about history. I love music (but odd stuff most people haven't heard of). I'm starting to realize that if I keep going this post will end a very long time from now. But in the end, after all is said and done, there aren't a whole lot of literal "things" that I love.

This is the lesson I learned this month. Maybe I should have already known this little tid bit about me but I didn't. You learn something new every day right :)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

February numbers are in

Here's my spending rundown for the month with average daily spending for each category. My average spending for the month is up, coming in at $18.10 a day. But I hit my goal for the year so far, coming in under $17.50 a day like I'd planned. I hope to be closer to $17 a day by the end of March.

There are two days left this month but I'm done spending (and I have some birthday money; call it cheating if you must but I'll be using birthday money for anything else I might need or want to buy these next two days; cake fixins)

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.47

$11.53 a day on Groceries. Total for February $322.80
72 cents a day on Toiletries. Total $19.98

71 cents a day on Gifts. Total $19.96
$2.80 a day on Food out. Total $78.55

43 cents a day on School supplies. Total $12.23
40 cents a day on Pets. Total $11.02
less than a penny a day on Christmas. Total 36 cents
7 cents a day on Clothing. Total $2.14
$1.43 a day on Stuff. Total $39.89

Average daily spending for February: $18.10

The interesting thing, and without even trying, maybe my average daily spending is no where near $12 a day, as I titled the blog on January 1 of 2011 but my average daily spending for groceries has been just under $12 a day for the past two months. Ideally, I'd like it to be lower than that but at least my blog title is still relevant in some sense.

I'm not going to delve into the daily spending averages for each category like I did last month. I'm too tired. But I still enjoyed compiling them. It really is pretty neat to see a categorized "daily spending average." Like pets: 40 cents a day this month and $1.90 a day last month. That brings my yearly average for spending on pets to $1.18 a day. Maybe I'm slightly insane but I really enjoy seeing that number; all the categorized spending numbers. It's pretty fun!

Now I must return to trying to cleaning my house as best I can between, you know, working and taking care of my kid and husband, and baking a cake for the company that invited themselves over this weekend for the birthday party we said we weren't having... gah, some people's parents! I really hate cleaning... I hope everyone had a splendid February and managed to stay warm. I didn't do so well in that arena. I think I've been cold for two months straight. Well, I bet cleaning the house is going to warm me up. I also promised myself some stove top hot cocoa when I retire from cleaning this evening. Okay, okay, enough rambling. Back to life!

February 2015 Total: $506.93

Groceries $39.00    2.25
Milk and beer $10.47    2.24
Birthday breakfast $14.59    2.24
Crazy bounce $18.00    2.23
Juice and a toy $8.58    2.22
Breakfast with a friend $4    2.21
Groceries $25.48    2.20
Cat litter $7.99    2.19
Groceries $3.43    2.19
Lunch $3.40    2.19
Groceries $13.49    2.18
Groceries $10.17    2.17   
Other dollar store shopping $8.42    2.17
Dollar store school supplies $3.18    2.17
Big helper reward $1.06    2.17
Groceries $21.89    2.16
NO SPEND day 17    2.15
Groceries $8    2.14
TP and wipes $14    2.14
Groceries (including a few valentines items) $15.95    2.13
Valentines Pizza $13.77    2.13
Groceries $11.89    2.12
lunch $8.51    2.12
Groceries $12.64    2.11
Playdough and a timer $4.89    2.11
Preschool workbook $2.47    2.11
NO SPEND day 16    2.10
NO SPEND day 15    2.9
NO SPEND day 14    2.8
Groceries $53.90    2.7
School supplies $6.58    2.6
Groceries $5.48    2.6
Christmas craft 36 cents    2.5
Coffee and sandwich $3.38    2.5
Groceries $9.24    2.5
Socks $2.14    2.4
Groceries $10.02    2.4
Dollar store chores reward $1    2.3
Groceries $3.35    2.2
Coffee and a donut $2.88    2.2
Dinner at Five Guys $28.02    2.1
A gift for my kiddo and one for my nephew $18.90    2.1
Vitamin E for kiddos brittle nails $5.98    2.1
Dog treats $3.03    2.1
Groceries $67.40    2.1

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Weekend ends

I've had a lovely four day weekend. Calm. Pretty lazy, but lovely. It's still super cold here. It's still super snowy. Spring is no where to be seen BUT the Cadbury eggs are in stores now. Hmm, whether that's good news or bad news I can't yet say. I love them so!

I've $39 left in the budget for the month in order to meet my "under $17.50 a day" spending average goal so far this year. There are four days left in February (I know, weird; February is almost over) and not a lot of food in my house but I'm pretty sure I can get by with $39. Yay! I do get excited about meeting these little goals.

That's it for now. Back to being lazy before the work week begins again tomorrow.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Weekend Spending

What a weekend. But first, how is March only one week away? That'd be March of 2015, right? I'm apparently in denial about the passing of time. It seems to me like it should still be the beginning of January.

Yesterday I went to breakfast with a friend again (again, meaning for the second time this year). I spent $4 at breakfast.

Then in the evening we attended a surprise party (my husband and kiddo and I) for a friend. Food and pop were included. My husband bought beer but I'm not taking that out of the spending budget. That goes into his spending category. We also didn't bring a gift but my husband is giving the birthday guy a gift later... we tried to bring a gift but I had car issues. Nothing major but I didn't make it to my destination. Darn it I feel the need to explain now. I was driving to a local music store to get a gift card but the car started acting up and it felt like a flat tire. There wasn't a flat. The heat shield under the engine busted and was dragging on the ground. I was able to drive it home fine but I took back roads. We can just remove the heat shield for now once I figure out how to get under the car with all this snow everywhere. Anyway, the car is okay but we didn't bring a gift to the party.

My husband has this week off of work, just to use up vacation time. He decided that we needed to go to the mall this morning. First of all we don't go to the mall anymore. We used to go to the mall often enough. But it almost feels like a foreign land to us now. I think he just wanted to get out of the house during his "vacation." I was scared of how much money might flutter away during the outing but none the less, "okay hunny." He said he wanted new shoes.

We went to the mall. Walked around a good bit. Got to tour a million campers that were set up inside the mall. Oh, and I overheard a sales man say, word for word, "yeah, yesterday a couple stopped in here to buy a pair of shoe laces and they bought a $25,000 camper from me instead." Wow! I can't even imagine... It was fun looking inside all the campers. My husband bought a fruity drink for little Abe that cost $3 something and then since he was promised a toy if he was a very good boy we decided to leave the mall and go to a sort of dollar store across the street so he could pick out a toy. He got a dinosaur transformers type toy for $5 something and our entire journey came to an end (after walking to Barnes and Noble so little Abe could use the potty).

I had zero no spend days this weekend but went on three outings that cost a total of $12.58. That's probably some kind of a new record for me. Oh, and when we made the bathroom break in Barnes and Noble I REALLY wanted to stop at the Starbucks and get a mocha of some sort. I did not but I was SOOOOO close to caving. And on the way home from the mall my husband said he wanted to pick up food but as we couldn't decide on a place that sounded good he suggested we go home and "just make eggs." Wow, I'm increasingly more and more proud of this man. Win, win, win! We didn't buy any shoes either.

I took the next two days off from work since my husband is on vacation and we don't spend a lot of time together and because of my birthday coming up so the official weekend is coming to an end but my extended weekend still has two days to go. Maybe I can get in a no spend day? Haha! I honestly don't think I'm going to.

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.90

Saturday, February 21, 2015


DON'T READ THIS; IT'S BORING! All in caps with an exclamation point, just in case the title wasn't off putting enough is a blog that's so boring I don't even know how to tell you what it's about. And yet this horribly mundane blog has close to three hundred declared followers; of course we all know this is no real reflection of how many regular readers a blog has and thus there will be several hundred more people who stop by regularly.

Maybe these hundreds of folks are all just as boring themselves but more likely they find the author of this blog to be incredibly entertaining with her quirky (in a good way) sense of humor and plethora of different subjects she lets us all in on. The author of this blog known as "Sluggy" to a wide circle of bloggers not only writes a great deal about her ancestral quests (which I'm utterly fascinated with seeing as I am enthralled with family history), she also takes us all along on her many traveling adventures across the country. She's an unbelievable bargain shopper and if you're in any way interested in learning how get a great deal you must stop by her blog for a visit. She shares her finds and deals AND does pretty regular give-a-ways with some of the great deals she hunts down. She's a top notch saver and from that I find a great deal of inspiration for this frugal, financially responsible path I'm attempting to traverse.

We, her many readers, look forward with gleeful anticipation to the next update on the current journey across country she's embarking upon as if we were right there with her. We love to see the pile of useful stuff she's accumulated for next to no cost. I'm encouraged by the savings updates (even if sometimes a little humiliated by them). The ancestral posts are unbelievably interesting, entertaining, and informative as she regularly shares details as to how she came upon the new find. And she's only related to like 50 of our former presidents and or their wives. Despite how boring this blog is, I'm unable to list with much accuracy all the other interesting things she writes about. But I dare say most of us who read Sluggy's blog quite regularly, feel as though she's a really close friend.

In conclusion DON'T READ THIS; IT'S BORING! is delightfully entertaining, often very informative, and has a really great united group of readers who feel they somewhat belong to a community of Sluggy's fellow slugs.

Stop on by -> DON'T READ THIS; IT'S BORING! It's the most fun boring thing I know of.


In the "Blogs I love" posts this month I'm simply giving a little shout out to blogs that I find myself commenting on most often and that tend to encourage me or make me smile. I'm absolutely not trying to exclude anyone. There's a world of wonderful bloggers out there. I follow many of you and love your blogs too.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Life at the North Pole

I think it's too cold to blog. The air in my home is warm enough, at least the thermostat says so but I feel like the bones of my home are frozen; the floors, walls... I could put refrigerated food in my kitchen cupboards right now and it'd stay fresh. It's too cold to think straight folks.

For the record it is the same temp here as it is in the city of North Pole, Alaska; not the actual North Pole but still, COLD! Single digits (Fahrenheit) is just too cold.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.01

Thursday, February 19, 2015

No Spend Day Rigamarole

My no spend day "every other day" average for the month has been decimated. I can quite truthfully declare I've been horrible at planning and anticipating things which is key to no spend days. Yesterday I'd planned a no spend and I ran out of coffee filters. Today I planned a no spend and after cleaning the cat's litter box this morning there is actually no litter left in it. I certainly can't leave an empty little box sitting in my kitchen and I won't even try to go without coffee. These are just two examples of my poor planning so far this month.

Plan, plan, plan! There's no better way to save money, spend less, and stick to a budget. I need to get my act together, pronto!

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.92

I'm at four no spends so far this month, with a total of 17 so far for the year.
How many of you fine folks keep track of no spends and I am curious, where do you stand so far during this grand year of 2015?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Big Boy Birthday Party

Good money dilemma update: We've FINALLY decided on the "birthday party" for my kiddo. So, some of the tax refund has now been spent.

I'd hoped to do a smallish family party at our house to celebrate our big guy (our families combined make up a lot of people). The facts that we really did want to get people together to celebrate our little man and that he has an impeccable memory would make a party really impactful for him. He still vividly remembers his birthday party at our house last year (when he turned two).

Well, without going into too much detail there were a few too many cooks in the kitchen so to speak and the birthday party planning became absurd (I'm not referring to my husband). After a few weeks of bickering (I am not joking) I decided, that as much as it hurt me, we really needed to throw the towel in and scrap the party. A day of the three of us together doing fun things sounded like the best plan to me. My husband was not on board with this as it would upset the other cooks more than he cared to.. ugh.

By the grace of God last night a commercial came on tv for an event that apparently my husband has been wanting to take little Abe to for about a year now but he'd forgotten (and never told me about it). So we purchased three tickets online for Disney on Ice for the day of Abe's birthday and the party is officially called off. <Deep sigh of relief> It was a little more than I'd hoped to spend but A.) We will have some great family time together, the three of us, on my little man's birthday doing something very out of the ordinary. B.) It's still way less money than the fantastical party my husband was theoretically planning. C.) My little man will LOVE it as all of his favorite Disney characters will be there ice skating in a fun live show... he's going to have a blast!

I'll bake a cake for the three of us to enjoy and he can blow out his birthday candles while we sing him happy birthday at home. We'll get him some birthday balloons and he'll get to open his gifts from us.

Food I Love - Veggie Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those awesome foods in life; a food of which I've never met a person who doesn't like it. Yummy! I found this recipe for veggie lasagna years ago and although I am a meat eater through and through this lasagna is my families very favorite lasagna (my family meaning me, my hubby, and little Abe).

I apologize ahead of time for the horrible photo. This might be one of the very worst food photos on the world wide web but what can I say, I am not a food photographer... chipped plate and all. This is still super yummy, one of my favorite meals in fact!

9 Lasagna noodles
10oz. frozen chopped spinach (thawed)
15oz. cottage (or ricotta) cheese
1 cup plus 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil OR 1 tsp dried crushed basil
2 cloves of garlic minced OR 1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups of sliced mushroom (I use baby portobello)
1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup diced roma tomatoes
2 cups Spaghetti sauce or Alfredo sauce

Preheat oven the 375F

I never use oven ready lasagna noodles so the first step would be to boil the noodles.

While the noodles are boiling add a little olive old to a saute pan and saute the garlic, mushrooms, onion and tomatoes. I always cook up the garlic, onion and mushrooms a little before adding the tomatoes. Saute the garlic, onion, mushrooms and tomatoes for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl mix together the drained/ pressed thawed spinach, cottage cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella, parmesan, egg, and basil.

Once the noodles are done run them under cool water if you're going to roll them.

Lasagna rollups: The recipe calls for "Lasagna rolls" which means you lay out a boiled noodle, spread some of the cheese mixture on the noodle, then spread some of the cooked veggies on. Roll up the noodle and place into a 2 quart rectangular dish with a thin layer of pasta sauce coating the bottom. You'd repeat this until all the noodles are filled and placed in the dish. Then you top the noodles with the remaining pasta sauce. The "Lasanga roll" method makes for cleaner serving but is considerably more labor intensive. I make it both ways depending on what type of mood I'm in at the time. 

You can also make a traditional flat noodle lasagna with three layers of noodles if you'd prefer (that's obviously easier). The traditional flat noodle way is just as yummy but it does not hold up as well when serving as the rolls do because the veggies cause this lasagna to be more moist then a regular meaty one.

Traditional Method: For the traditional method, coat the bottom of a 9x13 pan (I only have a 9x13 and it leaves a little room. If you have a pan that's a little smaller that'd be better) with a thin layer of the pasta sauce then three noodles. top the noodles with half of the cheese mixture and then half of the veggie mixture. Layer three more noodles, remaining cheese mixture, and remaining veggie mixture. Then top with three more noodles and the remainder of the sauce.

Bake your delicious Veggie Lasagna for 45 minutes at 375F. After 45 minutes top the lasagna with 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 5 more minutes. Then enjoy. This lasagna is also my very favorite thing to eat as leftovers. I feel like it's almost tastier the next day.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday, and that's about it

I think the winter blahs have finally caught up to me. I usually get them way before now... hm, maybe it's facebook too. I took the month of January off from facebook and had an abnormally upbeat and productive month. Now I'm back to normal life and back to having the winter blahs.

It's REALLY cold outside right now. There's a lot of freshly fallen snow to accompany the bitterly cold temps. BUT the sun is shining brightly and the deep freeze winter wonderland postcard out my window is fabulously picturesque to say the least. I wish it were warm enough to go out and play without our faces freezing off though.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.21

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A good money dilemma; tax refund time

Once a spend-aholic, always a spend-aholic? Maybe?

At present I most certainly feel as though this frugal woman must be a recovering spend-aholic. We've gotten back the bulk of our tax refund. It's not enormous like some folks I know but it certainly isn't small either. Having that much money in the bank all at once feels a bit like winning a lottery jack-pot even if it is just a small sum of our money we paid into the government that's now been returned to us... basically as if we let them hold onto it for us for the year.

I have a swirling whirling storm of thoughts colliding within my brain that's almost debilitating as I try and decide where this money is going to go. Best answer: savings then debt. Period. Right... But...

Oh my gosh, the front stairs need repairing, we've been meaning for ages to put block windows in the basement, the garage is falling over (no, our house is not crumbling around us but there are repairs needed). The car definitely needs a tune up and yet that's the last thing I want to spend the money on. We're hoping to do a nice birthday party for the upcoming 3 year old. Then there's the fact that I have one pair of blue jeans that now have holes in the knees (yep, my only pair of pants except for my work khakis and then the maternity corduroys that I do actually put on if we're going somewhere nicer... it's embarrassing but no one knows except me). This sad state of affairs pretty well describes my entire wardrobe at present so I could spend some money on that for sure. Luckily my husband has NOT chimed in with all the ways he wants to spend the return. This is abnormal. I am truly waiting for him to dump a big "need" on me but he swears he hasn't one in his mind so in truth I'm super proud of him. I'd actually forgotten about needing to replace the basement windows and that's been his only suggestion so far. (That's truly not a "whoa is me" thing on the clothing situation. I despise clothes shopping so much even if I were rolling in dough)

We've agreed to put $1500 in savings. I'm scared to though. It sounds like superstitious nonsense but every single time I fully fund the emergency savings about a day later something breaks that requires all of the savings. It's not that things are breaking here and there all over the place all of the time. It seems it's only when we put a good chunk of money into savings. Ugh! Is there a way to trick the savings troll? Like maybe if I just stash cash in my underwear drawer instead of putting it into the "savings" account...

After putting money into savings we're left with enough to do one nice thing. Needless to say this is a good dilemma but it's kind of driving me crazy none the less. The biggest reason for the "dilemma" is that we're REALLY good, almost professionally good at nickle and dime-ing away our tax refund every year. It's so easy to do. I'm already doing it in my head. I just need to get this money divvy-ed up on paper and then we need to agree on the divvying and then we need to get to it. I wish I was better at decision making. I am not!

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.13

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Blogs I love - Pieliekamais

The author of Pieliekamais is a dear friend of mine and for no other reason than that I think this blog is totally worth stopping by. However she is also a fabulous individual who writes a very uplifting blog that highlights some great recipes and presents absolutely beautiful posts that could brighten anyone's day.

This blog is written in both English and Latvian as the author is a lovely Latvian woman. But please don't let the language issue deter you from stopping by. The author of Pieliekamais is in fact an accomplished world traveler with an eye for beauty. I feel like the photography alone on the blog reflects that and is able to enrich the lives of those of us who maybe haven't seen so much of the world. This author has spent time living in the US (which is how we met in the first place). She grew up in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. She now lives in the Scandinavian region of Northern Europe. She's also traveled to Spain, France, Ireland... I'm pretty sure I've lost track at this point.

In conclusion this blog is written by a dear friend, an absolutely beautiful and sincerely genuine individual who has a good deal of life experience to share with the world, and at a rather young age. She likes to notice the lovely things about the here and now, something I highly appreciate doing and her blog reflects all of that. This in another in the very short list of blogs that I can say I've actually read every post.

Stop on by and feel free to let her know I sent you.
linked here -> Pieliekamais

In the "Blogs I love" posts this month I'm simply giving a little shout out to blogs that I find myself commenting on most often and that tend to encourage me or make me smile. I'm absolutely not trying to exclude anyone. There's a world of wonderful bloggers out there. I follow many of you and love your blogs too.

Just Wednesday

I kind of got carried away today. I was going to spend about $10, only not really, because I had a $9 store reward. That means I was planning on spending about a $1 today. That was my plan. I needed to buy some taco fixins for dinner tonight and some sugar. I ended up buying playdough, a kitchen timer that was on clearance for $2.39, and a preschool workbook for my little guy, along with more groceries that I'd hoped for. Yikes! Talk about no self control. I spent $20 today, only $19 more than planned. There goes the three no spends in a row that I just pulled off. Hey, you win some and you lose some...

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.04

I've a goal of coming in under $17.50 a day average for the year by the end of this month. That leaves $248.23 in the spending budget for the rest of the month. That should be pretty easy to pull off. Now to plan, plan, plan, and prioritize!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Basement Adventures Part 3

I told you my basement was gross. Yes, that's a shower and it's just hanging out in the open on one of the walls in the basement. In fact it was the only shower in this house until my husband had one put in the upstairs bathroom for my birthday awhile after we moved into the house. The broom is part of the shower because once you were done showering you had to sweep the water to the drain in the center of the basement floor. Ah, the memories. The thing that baffles my mind is that my husband's grandparents and his mom and his aunt used this shower for as long as they lived here. Yuck! Oh, and the windows down there are neither covered or foggy. You can see right into that basement from outside.

This I found in my grandmother's sewing table. It appears to never have been used. I think it's cute. I googled it and you can buy a more modern version still but they don't appear to be very popular little machines. It seems like it'd be difficult to hold or at least that it would give you a hand cramp. I'm going to see if it works and give it a whirl though. Hey, I don't call these basement adventures for nothing.

This is one of my favorite finds so far. I could never imagine re-webbing lawn furniture but I come from the "have it your way, right away" generation of folks. We don't fix things. We throw things out and buy better ones, most of my generation that is. I love this. It just reminds me/ reaffirms that there really used to be a culture of take care, really re-use, and fix what's broken. I want to be like that! I want to take care of what we have. I want to make due and find new uses for everything. I want to be the odd ball who re-webs lawn furniture like they used to do in the old days (that's totally metaphorical though because we don't own any lawn furniture). I'm either going to make a shadow box for this and hang it on my wall or find some really creative use for it.

That ends today's basement adventures. Thanks for stopping by!

No Spend day 16

Are there support groups for people who are incapable of keeping their kitchens clean? I believe I have a problem. This is day three of my no spend sprint and I've got it, but I want to order a pizza so badly simply because my kitchen is a disaster and I just don't want to clean it today. There's something about the daily battle of getting the kitchen back up and running that can be so overwhelming to me. I try and clean it as I go, I do, but sometimes I think it turns into a monster behind my back. I HATE CLEANING THE KITCHEN! HELP!

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.75

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday Funday

Today was day 4 of learning with sheep. I did a craft with little Abe that involved working on shapes, colors, crafting, a little bit of exercise and counting. I laid out a bunch of shapes on a chair in the kitchen. I drew the outline of a sheep on a sheet of newspaper at the table. Little Abe got to "pick out a green circle" from the chair, climb up at the table, put a drop of glue on the sheep and glue the green circle to the sheep. We did this for a long time with the different shapes and colors and he counted all the shapes when he was done gluing them on. He LOVES using glue! He's also doing great with identifying shapes.

Our cat enjoyed the craft too

Later we went for a walk around the block (which ended up taking 30 minutes). There's a lot of snow out there right now and today is pretty cold but it's sunny and not windy so I just bundled him up good. It's always good to get out of the house especially since there's apparently another arctic blast heading our way. He enjoyed walking on the mounds of snow between the sidewalk and the road. He enjoyed cracking ice with his feet where there were thin patches of ice on the sidewalk. We found different foot prints; prints from people, dogs, cats, and bunnies. We even found bunny poop and bunny fur. He also collected some sticks, a flower, and a leaf while we walked. I hadn't expected it to take as long as it did but it was a fun adventure.

Today is NO SPEND day 15 for the year. I'm hoping for another no spend tomorrow too. Fingers crossed.

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.75

Things I Love - Wall Drug Mug

After my parents separated and my mom moved us away from my childhood home I always felt displaced. I honestly loved the home I grew up in. I still have fond childhood memories about countless places scattered through that home. My brothers and I carved our names in places our parents would never find them. We had hiding spots for favorite toys. We had escape routes through bedroom windows and basement windows (and we practiced our escape plans). There was the awesome climbing tree in the front yard that my dad planted. There was the row of forsythia bushes all along the side of the house that my bedroom window was on that blazed with vibrant yellow in early spring. My mom always planted annuals in the backyard along with peppermint plants that I adored. My parents had made or backyard into a childhood adventure land for us kids with a raised club house that my grandpa built by hand, a huge above ground pool, and a trampoline that was the envy of all the neighborhood kids... remember my parents were good at using credit cards too. Our driveway was lined with a long row of raspberry bushes. We lived in the city but we had all the fruit in our yard a kid could dream of to eat during raspberry season. All of my good family memories, playing with neighborhood kids memories, and feeling home memories are attached to that house. My parents bought it brand new so it was truly our home.

We moved away to a neighboring city when I was about 12, out to the country onto a seven acre property. I felt more at home alone off in the back part of our lot in an odd little patch of tiny Christmas trees that had apparently been part of a Christmas tree farm at one time then I ever did in that new house. The Christmas tree lot was riddled with briers and I made it my mission to eradicate them. I was 13. I knew nothing about getting rid of wild thorns. It was a lost cause that I fought for years... my mom knew nor cared one bit about this mission of mine. This house is the same one I've mentioned a few times when talking about our "hoarder home." I hated it at the new house. It wasn't home. It was filthy, it was cold, it was moldy (all due to us, we turned it into a rotting mess), it was depressing and it was not home.

I had a strong core group of friends in the city I grew up in. I wasn't quite old enough to drive when we moved away and my dear childhood friends kind of went on without me. Life goes on. I didn't make new friends, real friends until years later at the youth group where I also met my hubby. (In full disclosure I had one pretty good friend at my new school and I became great friends with an exchange student my sophomore year; I also think I would have made more friends at school if I hadn't been so depressed) By the time I became very involved with youth group I could drive and I spent considerably more time away from my "home" then I ever spent at it. My home was gross. It was sort of falling down/ crumbling. It was really smelly. I had a firm rule that even if friends came over they were only allowed in the yard to go swimming or for us to enjoy an enormous bonfire. No one under any circumstances was allowed in that house. I actually made my friends pee in the woods. Truly. That home made me feel homeless.

I started going for road trips with my closest friends (one in particular) I think shortly after graduating from high school. I hated feeling homeless but taking to the road and adventuring seemed to remove that feeling from me, at least for little bits of time. We road tripped to Niagara falls in Canada one day. If I remember correctly we came up with the plan early morning and left mid afternoon. One time we road tripped "as far south as we could drive and still get one friend who had to work the next day home in time." We made it to Kentucky before having to turn around in the middle of the night. I drove off to Nashville all on my own once. I also kind of didn't tell anyone I was leaving or where I was going. I worried a few folks.

The best road trip I ever took was with the other half of my brain, an amazing friend from youth group. We were franky and mikey. I was the right brain and she was the left. We worked fabulously together! We were in agreement about our top destinations: Ireland, Alaska, and Seattle. Since Ireland was considerably out of the picture and driving to Alaska would have probably killed whatever car we took we chose Seattle. We took off one day with some clothes, some snacks (that I vividly remember including a canister of premixed kool-aide powder and lots of cheezits), a little bit of money, a map, and a AAA hotel guide. We drove just about 1500 miles the first day. I've never felt so free. I never felt more alive. It was by far one of the best times of my life.

There's an entirely other blog post involved if I were to detail the awesomeness of that road trip. We did end up driving through the snowy mountains of Montana with no wiperblades (they broke). That adventure involved me wrapping a sweatshirt around my arm, rolling down the window, and driving with my arm out the window. I had to hit the wiperblade back onto the windshield with each swipe as it was shooting all the way off the window and acting like it needed to hit the snow in mid-air next to our vehicle. I remember Seattle smelling marvelous, of fresh flowers and coffee. Idaho was beautiful! We drove to the Pacific ocean on our way home to see the ocean for the first time and there were jelly fish covering the shore. Oregon was the greenest place I've ever witnessed with my own eyes... a bit like a chunk of Ireland in the US. We stayed in some neat little hotels/ motels...

Both ways, there and back, we witnessed about a billion signs for a place called "Wall Drug." They were mostly all hand painted, oddly placed, pieces of board spread all along the route. I was beyond fascinated by them and once we arrived near the highly marketed destination we had no choice but to stop for a visit. Turns out it's a huge tourist destination but neither my friend nor I knew this. It didn't seem much of anything to us; just a very big drug store/ souvenir shop (drug store like a pharmacy, candy and soda shop; not a place drug dealers operate out of) but we were also both very tired from driving. We spent some time there and were thrilled that we finally found out what all those signs were about. I purchased a mug there. It was cheap, maybe like a $1 but about 15 years later it's one of my absolute very favorite things I own. Every single time I see it, every single time I drink some Irish breakfast tea or heavenly black Guatemalan coffee out of it I'm reminded first of my dear friend, the other half of my brain, who now lives nowhere near me and of one of the best weeks of my lifetime.

I LOVE my wall drug mug!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Things I Love - Every minute of my son

Little Abe and I just started a month of learning with sheep. I promised myself that I was not going to post every minute of our fun to the blog. But he finished the first sheep craft the other day and I am so in love with it that I've been having to hold myself back from posting it.

I waited "patiently" through eleven years of marriage for my kiddo. When he was born it was as if my every dream had come true. Even so I had postpartum depression (combined with sleep deprivation) pretty badly. I remember a few times holding him and bawling uncontrollably because my baby would be gone soon. Just looking at the sweet tiny baby face I'd waited so long for and knowing that he was even in that minute growing up was tearing my heart up. I wanted to keep him, that baby boy, the one I'd waited all my life for but he was going to grow up. Yeah, it was hormones and wild after birth emotions, and a whole world of craziness going on inside of me but I was heart broken that my perfect baby would soon be gone. "Time goes by too fast." Everyone says it. Everyone knows it.

I don't know if we'll have more children. It'd be a dream come true. But as it is we have one perfect son who's growing with abandon. It can be pretty easy when boxing up clothes he's grown out of to feel the loss of the years gone by (I know, we've only two years behind us). I cherished every moment of those years. But I am far beyond what words can express happy with the little boy I have in my life right now. I loved the baby he was but I don't miss that baby. I'm excited about the youngster he'll become but I am not eager to know what he'll look like or how he'll be when he's older. My kid right now is amazing; he amazes me, just as much, if not more than his brand new little baby self did (and that's saying a lot!).

And now I give you my son's first sheep craft because I'm in awe of this kid and I absolutely could not refrain from posting it:

I helped him with the placement of the head and I moved each of the legs a tiny bit. He did the cotton balls and the eyes and the tail all on his own. I should have let him do the legs on his own too. I just love that the tail is floating out in space.

I love every minute of my son!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Plan, plan, plan

My son is napping right now and I basically just spent the last hour writing out a shopping list, looking through the ad online, trying to stay in the spending budget I drew out for myself, mixing coupons with sale prices with deals, and I am now exhausted. We should have a very successful shopping trip when he wakes up but I feel like I just spent the last hour doing homework for school or something. If I don't pull off three no spends in a row after today I will be a very grouchy woman.

Have I ever mentioned that I HATE shopping! Grr

Projected average daily spending for 2015 if today and the next three days go as planned: $17.75

Update: I'm back. I spent $53.90. My goal was $54. I saved $23.21 and I earned a $9 store reward (that's basically $9 cash to spend at the store in the future). Now onto those no spend days!

Friday, February 6, 2015

People Tend to Believe What They're Told

On January 14, 2011 I posted the following to this blog:

When I was a kid my brothers believed that I had magical powers and I could make m&m's appear in empty m&m wrappers. I used to save about six candies in my wrapper. I'd crumple it up and make it seem like I'd eaten them all and then I'd ask if they wanted me to magically make more. Of course they loved the trick and they'd always eagerly await the spectacular show. I'd slowly uncrinkle it while thinking really contemplatively and wha-la m&m's would "magically" fall out of an "empty" m&m wrapper.

What I find fascinating is that total strangers, actually people we never even see tell us that we NEED a new car, a bigger, better, faster nicer vehicle and we tend to believe them. We're told by clothing companies, and magazines and by our friends (usually it's an unspoken message in this last case) that we NEED nicer, cooler, more fashionable clothes and shoes and all the accessories. The television ads and big bill boards are constantly telling us that we NEED a better cell phone and everything else under the sun. I think it's crazy that we believe them. I don't think we need any of that stuff. These things may improve our self esteems (but we do NOT need them for that); they might (and that's a tiny might) add a bit more convenience to our busy lives; these things will almost definitely give that exciting rush of the NEW purchase... but that wears off.

The truth is I can't make m&m's appear in empty wrappers. My brothers occasionally would find a wrapper or bring me their empty one and I would have to put on a good show inspecting it and deciding that it was defective before they'd let me off the hook but they never figured it out. They never saw through it. As far as they were concerned I had wonderful magical powers.

The truth is that those people who are telling me that I NEED all kinds of "new" stuff, they can be pretty dog gone convincing but they're wrong. It's all just a show.

I just wanted to re-post this for myself as a reminder.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.20

Blogs I love - The Hawaii Plan

The Hawaii Plan is a blog I love because this woman knows how to prioritize and get things done! The author of this blog is a hard working mom who puts a lot of time and energy into doing really well in the workplace and at home. She's able to work, get her kids to soccer practice and spend great quality time with them, runs marathons, and fits in date nights with her husband. And she meal plans like a boss. I know people who are considerably less busy and yet they "need" to eat out all of the time because there "just isn't enough time." I am encouraged and feel a bit more motivated every time I stop by The Hawaii plan.

I personally never feel like there's enough time in my day and truth be told she's juggling about 100 more things than I am and yet she manages to tackle and conquer some pretty impressive goals on a regular basis. I also love that she takes time out to really focus on herself and on her health. I think that health often times takes the very back burner in our busy lives (I know I act like it's the last thing that matters) and I find intense encouragement from her that I can take care of me and get everything else done just about every time I read through her posts.

I love this blog and would encourage anyone to stop on by for a visit: The Hawaii Plan


In the "Blogs I love" posts this month I'm simply giving a little shout out to blogs that I find myself commenting on most often and that tend to encourage me or make me smile. I'm absolutely not trying to exclude anyone. There's a world of wonderful bloggers out there. I follow many of you and love your blogs too.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

This and That

I've filed the taxes. Woohoo!

I'm falling behind on my no spend average. I'm shooting for an every other day no spend average. I came pretty close last month but this month I just keep picking up little things here and there. We're 36 days into the year and I'm at 13 no spends. That puts me 5 days behind. Okay, so that's not so bad but it's not good either.

As for the rest of my first quarter goals for the year I'm doing great with the "bake ten new things one." I'm at seven now. But I need to step it up on the other goals: learn some Irish, read some books, and clean out the basement. In fairness though the basement looks awesome but as far as the list I outlined for the basement clean up goes, I've hardly anything marked off of it. So I need to address that list on top of all the cleaning, de-cluttering, de-junking, de-spider webbing I've done so far. The last goal: get $1500 into the emergency fund, we'll see. I should be able get that in there after the tax refund but we plan that every year and... we'll see. The easy one, dadada, I have not cut my hair. That goal should be cake.

And Friday is round the bend!!! I'm starting little Abe on his first day of homeschool preschool tomorrow. He is still only 2 so it will be a test run/ fun learning with mommy/ pretty laid back go at preschool BUT I've got big plans so I'm excited. During the first weekend of March there's a free sheep shearing day event at a local farm. It will also incorporate demonstrations on how wool is used by local fiber artists. Abe and I are going to be working on counting, letters, music, memorization, colors, and really fun crafts all surrounding sheep for the next few weeks. I'm now scrambling to get neat books about sheep from tons of neighboring libraries transferred to ours so we can read them together this month. Plus I will be incorporating social time into his preschool adventures so I need to start setting up at least weekly play dates for my little guy. (That will probably be one of his favorite parts of his little guy at home preschool)

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.37

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Love my family - The music man

My husband gets a pretty bum rap on this blog. (Sorry honey) He's not great with money so we butt heads on that and since that's where this blog started I've expressed my frustration with him many a time on here. But truly the spending thing is his only vice. He's a good man; quirky, goofy, and has a habit of trying to get under people's skin but he's a good man.

He's also a fabulous musician. He's a self taught bassist turned guitarist, singer, songwriter. We met at our church youth group. We didn't go to the same high school. He was the bassist in the youth praise band and I was one of the back ground vocalists. We went to a big youth group. It sounds silly to me that there were background vocalists in the youth band but, yes, there were. We first acquired a crush on each other when we were in high school. The youth group took a yellow school bus all the way from Michigan to a youth retreat in Oklahoma. On the way home from the retreat while everyone else was asleep, he and I, while sitting in neighboring seats were awake listening to songs by different Christian bands with the head set on his walkman.

We didn't end up dating until much later because he had a girl friend at the time. Years later he professed his love to me at a Christian music festival in Illinois that we'd gone to with a big group of our friends. It was totally unreal. He had just gotten back from the midnight show of one of his very favorite bands (a band we've seen together countless times since then). I was sleeping in my mom's van that we'd driven all our friends down to the festival in because it was way more comfortable than the tent with the horrid lumpy ground beneath. He woke me up to ramble on about how great the show was and this and that. He was really excited and incredibly happy but he wasn't making a ton of sense and I was half asleep. I was just sitting there with my eyes partially closed, nodding my head in agreement and wondering why he was in my moms van. Apparently he was trying to tell me that he liked me. Eventually I figured out what he was saying and we planned to go on a date when we got back from the festival (he was my first and only boyfriend). Needless to say we stayed together and music is a very big part of who we both are.

My heart goes out to him because the man I married is in love with music. I honestly believe there is music playing in his head at all times. Sometimes when he's not listening to me I know he's listening to that darn music playing in his brain. When we first married he was constantly dreaming of becoming a 'real' musician someday. The dream fades more and more with time but it's such a big part of who he is. It's a wonderful part.

He's been in several garage bands. His longest running one, which was his baby was really, really good. When they disbanded I think is when he started to stop dreaming. His bands have always played bars, coffee shops, little venues where the audience consists of all people who've been personally invited by the band members. His current band doesn't play out very often which I know hurts him because that's what he loves to do; to be heard. His longest running band played at some venues in Chicago a few different times. One time (one of the only times that I didn't go) they were scheduled to play at a bar they'd never been to. When they got there it was a very dark bar with a mostly all gothic crowd. He said the guys in the band were joking about how odd the place was. They are absolutely not gothic, just really basic rock guys. The band members were sitting at the bar before they started to play and one of the strange individuals sitting at the bar alongside them leaned over and bit one of the band member's arms. As you could imagine everyone was quite startled. Turns out they were at a vampire bar. The people there all considered themselves vampires. Yes, this type of thing exists. Needless to say my husband has had some "fun" musical adventures.

I am in love with the music man I married. I don't want to see that part of my husband fade anymore than he does. I think a big goal that I need to have, one I've overlooked for along time is to support him more. He might need to redefine what being a 'real' musician is. I know to him it's always been the picture of him standing on large stages with big audiences listening to his music but I also know that in his heart it means people hearing and liking his music. His heart truly doesn't have a quantity set on how many people need to be listening. I can at least be a voice of encouragement, of support, maybe of some new ideas here or there, and I don't think I've done much of that over the past few years. I love my music man!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Big Helper Jar

The cotton balls in my little guy's big helper jar reached the line last night. So today we made a trip to the dollar store. I told him that he could pick any ONE thing in the store as his reward for being such a big helper (he's feeding the dogs two times a day on his own and he helps pick up his toys in the evening; those are his chores right now).

We walked in the front door and he saw something immediately that he wanted. He pointed to the shovel right inside the door that they were using to shovel their sidewalks, "oooh, how about that!" I laughed. "Um, I guess you can have ALMOST anything in the store." He does love shoveling.

He picked a ball covered in a graphic of the globe with almost all the countries labeled. I love this jar idea. He was very excited to get the cotton balls to the line. So far he's been very proud of feeding the dogs all on his own. This has been a fun way to introduce chores.

Average daily spending for 2015: $19.25

Food I Love - Citrus Cupcakes

One of my dreams in life is to become an awesome experienced baker. You really didn't think I'd leave out "food I love" from my month of "things I love" posts, now did you? 

These citrus cupcakes are the yummiest 'from scratch' cupcakes that I've ever made. They're sweet, tart, and if a cupcake can be refreshing then they're that too. The frosting is something I stumbled upon in a Martha Day recipe book. Although it sounds kind of complicated to make it's really neat and incredibly delicious, plus it doesn't have gobs of butter, or heavy whipping cream like most frosting recipes so we can pretend it's healthy too.

Makes 12 cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cups sugar
grated zest of one lemon
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl beat together the eggs and sugar until thick and lemon colored.
Beat in the lemon zest and juice, then oil.
On low speed beat in the flour mixture a little at a time.
Spoon batter into 12 cupcake cups.

Bake for 25 minutes (until knife comes out clean).

For the frosting/ Icing:
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons of cold water
1 egg white

Mix the sugar with water and stir over low heat on the stove until the sugar is dissolved. Then boil until the sugar syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.

Beat the egg white until stiff. Add the sugar syrup in a thin stream beating constantly. Continue to beat until the mixture is very thick. Frost cupcakes once cooled. And then enjoy. Yum!

I always stream the hot sugar syrup right into the beaten egg white. I'm not sure if it makes any difference what temperature the sugar is at when you combine the two. I figure the 240 degree sugar must cook the egg white so I'm not worried at all about bacteria. For this recipe I grated a tiny bit of lemon rind into the sugar water mixture as the sugar was dissolving. It was probably less than 1/4 teaspoon but it gave the frosting a great zing. I love these cupcakes!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Free Fun - Animal craft for a toddler

I LOVE crafting with my kiddo. I really wish we spent more time on arts and crafts but it's so much easier to do other things instead. I just need to sit down and plan crafts for the week or the month and I fully intend to! Even so we have tons of fun when we get around to it. I had it in my mind that I wanted to go through all my pins on pinterest this week and get some creative juices flowing. I had an older pin with a craft that was too difficult for him that I decided to transform so that he could still do it. The transformation made it so simple but he had a ton of fun.

The original craft had an outline of an animal on paper and the idea was to fill the outline in with paper strips. There isn't a sufficient link attached to the pin otherwise I'd link it for you. We will most likely do something of this sort together when he's a little bit older, but for now, at just 2 years old (I'm holding onto that until the day he turns 3) our version worked out much better.

This was a "free fun" activity because I cut two cardboard pieces off of a box I received a package in. I used a catalog to cut the strips (junk mail). Apart from the paint brush I had in a drawer and the elmers glue that I also had, there's nothing I would have needed to purchase for this craft. I put a very small amount of elmers glue into a small bowl and added about 2 times as much water. I'm guessing my solution was 1 part glue 2 parts water... maybe even more water. The ratio isn't super important. Little Abe used the paint brush to paint one piece of the cardboard with the glue water. Then he got to cover the cardboard with paper strips, much like with paper mache. We continued to paint the paper strips with the glue water as we put more and more on. You want to cover each paper strip with the glue water so that it will both lay flat on the cardboard and so that any strip that gets laid over that piece also has glue to adhere to.

This is our finished and dried part one masterpiece. When it comes to a 2 year old the simplest things can be loads of fun. He really enjoyed doing this craft. I asked him which animal he wanted to turn this into and he picked an elephant. I drew an outline of an elephant on the second piece of cardboard (from that box I cut up) and cut the outline out. Then I just glued the elephant piece on top of little Abe's paper strips masterpiece. And whala! It looks pretty good hanging on his bedroom wall beneath the alphabet letters and he's proud of his hard work.

Average daily spending for 2015: $19.25

Things I Love - Grandmother's Honey Jar

When I was a kid my parents shipped my siblings and I off to my Grandparent's house for at least a weeks time during several different summers. My Grandparents lived a six hour drive south of our home on a 32 acre property in Indiana. Because of the long drive (and my parents having four young kids to not want to travel with) we didn't see my Grandparent's very often. Our summers spent at their house live vividly in my memory.

There were two fabulous ponds on their property, the larger one for fishing in and the smaller one for swimming in. My brother's and I swam like fish so we spent a good deal of time in the ponds. The ponds were filled with fish and tree stumps (the only thing I ever remember snagging with my line) and hovered with dragon flies. My Grandparents always had a large vegetable garden next to the house. My grandpa had a work shed behind the garden that always smelled of saw dust where he did carpentry projects. At dusk fire flies filled the air. I'm pretty sure that the fire flies were my absolute favorite thing about Indiana. They were so magical. My brother's and I tried to catch them but we didn't want to kill them and smear them on us like other kids would do. We'd just catch them for the fun of it and then let them go so they could continue to glow.

I was in love with my Grandparent's property. We lived in the city and they lived in what seemed to be their very own fairy tale land. To me 32 acres of wonderful wilderness was a city of it's own. I'm almost certain that my love of nature began in Indiana at my Grandparent's house. I was in love with their house too. It always smelled of Indiana clay, the cigars my Grandpa smoked in the garage, and cooked carrots. My Grandmother who sewed, gardened, and cooked non-stop was always in one of three locations related to these tasks. I remember her mostly in the kitchen though. It was connected to their garage so the kitchen smelled always of a strong mix of the clay, cigars, and carrots.

In the center of their kitchen table was always this fabulous little honey jar shaped like a bee hive with a tiny metal honey bee set on top. We would eat breakfast in the kitchen but the other meals were eaten at the table in the screen room. Breakfast was more laid back and I don't remember being scolded for bad manors or my brother's getting a stern talking to from my Grandpa for wearing their baseball caps to the table. In truth I loved and still look back fondly on how proper my Grandparent's were but we weren't scolded at the kitchen table so it remains a more friendly place in my mind than the dinner table in the screen room.

The honey jar is one of those child hood things that my little self was absolutely in love with for whatever reason. I don't remember ever touching it or even if I ever saw it used by anyone but I loved it dearly. My Grandparents sold the house in Indiana when I was about 12 years old. My Grandpa died during the move. My Grandmother moved into a house directly next door to us to be near my mom who had just gone through the bad divorce. When my Grandmother passed over a decade later and the many many relatives were going through her things I grabbed the honey jar before anyone even had a chance to discuss it (or notice it). I took a few odd little things in this manner and felt a bit like a thief but I just had to have it. I doubt anyone ever loved it as much as me (at least in my mind this is the case). It currently lives in my baking cupboard. I haven't ever used it; I think because I don't want to create new memories with it. I want it to remain what it was, but maybe it deserves to be used. Either way it is one of the things in my home that I really truly love. It is a little bee hive shaped jar, the color of honey, with a tiny metal honey bee set on top that instantly brings me back to childhood summers spent in paradise in Indiana with my very English Grandmother and very American Grandpa. There's not many things more valuable than that.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What I could have done with $28.02 instead

My little family has officially gone out to eat this year. It took a whole month before it happened and for that I'm pretty excited but we paid $28.02 for three burgers (one was just a patty with cheese/ no bun), two small fries and two small pops. We went to a new burger place in town. It's one of those where you order at the counter so there's no tip involved and we still spent almost $30. It was nice to get out with my boys. We enjoyed the time away from home together. Unlike when we used to go out all the time it was a treat to be dining out. But $28.02!?!?! Am I losing my mind or is that obscene?

I just can't help but consider what I could have done with $28.02 instead of spending it on one greasy meal away from home. I'm using sale prices on everything for these examples because this is about how much I end up paying for these particular items that I do generally purchase on sale.

Scenario one: Let's start with dinner. I could have bought a cheap frozen pizza, none the less one that we really like ($3) and we usually top it with some extra mozzarella so I'd pick up 2 cups of shredded cheese for the pizza pie ($2). Since we don't ever buy pop but my boys are big guzzlers I'll get a gallon of milk ($3) and a bottle of apple juice ($2) to go with the pizza. That's a cheap but pretty sufficient dinner and I've only spent $10 so let's also pick up some supplies for lunch. Maybe hot dogs ($2) and buns ($1) and a bag of organic baby carrots ($1). Moving on, now that we've hit $14, how about breakfast too, a carton of eggs ($1.79), some bread ($1.79) for toast or even to make french toast with the eggs and milk I bought earlier in this scenario and a bag of apples ($2.50). Well we've $7.94 left to spend so how about I buy a box of organic kids yogurt ($3). We freeze it and my little guy eats yogurt popsicles regularly. I'll get a box of granola bars for another snack ($2) and since I've still some money left over how about I pick up a box of dog treats too ($2.50).

I've now spent $27.58 on an entire day's food, I came in under the $28.02 budget AND apart from the frozen pizza we started out with I've got cheese, milk, apple juice, additional hot dogs, buns, carrots, apples, eggs, bread, yogurt, granola bars, and a ton of dog treats left.

Scenario two: How bought I just stick with dinner this time? We'll try and eat what we did at the restaurant. I'll pick up two pounds of ground beef ($6.18) and two bags of hamburger buns ($3) two 2 liters of pop ($2), maybe a coke and a vernors. A 3 pound bag of potatoes ($2.69) and a box of butter ($2,50). I'll grab a 2 cup bag of shredded cheese so I can make cheese burgers ($2). And how about I make cookies for dessert? I'll get a bag of flour ($1.69), a bag of sugar ($2.50), two cups of chocolate chips ($2.50), and a carton of eggs ($1.79). I've already purchased the butter to fry up the potatoes earlier in the scenario.

I've now spent $26.85 on enough meat, cheese, buns, pop, potatoes, and cookie supplies to feed a pretty large group of people or make this same meal for ourselves several times. I've a $1.17 left in the budget but let's just say that's how much we spent on condiments for the burgers because I've plenty of ketchup, mustard, pickles, hot sauce, miracle whip, mushrooms and onions in the fridge right now anyhow.

In conclusion I don't think I'm losing my mind. I think $28.02 is an obscene amount of money for three people to spend on dinner out at a burger place. But we weren't the only people there. I mean there were at least six other tables filled with people dining out and spending similar, and in reality more money than we did. Do I want to stop eating out... uh... no. I don't. But it's not as fun as it used to be. And definitely not as enjoyable. Those burgers and the experience out weren't worth the $28.02 for me. We won't be going back there. And I don't think we'll be eating out much this month either.

Average daily spending for 2015: $19.26
The average did not jump this much just from eating out. I just bought a load of groceries and two more gifts as well; one more for my kiddo's birthday and a birthday gift for a nephew (I have lots of nieces and nephews). I'm taking full advantage of the clearance toys right now.

Blogs I love - Trundling Through Life

Trundling Through Life is one of my absolute favorite blogs. It's a fairly new blog so I shouldn't put too much pride in the fact that I've read each and every post the author has made but it is one of the few blogs I'm able to say that about.

Frugally Challenged over at Trundling through is not only a fabulous writer but she often brings her readers back to a time when people were more connected, the world wasn't so busy and techy, and when people just paid more attention to what matters. I've found many a moment of inspiration reading about her writing a thank-you note to a store manager for one of his staff going the extra mile, or during her wonderfully written original stories at Christmas time; and I can't help but smile each time I stop by her blog for a visit. You will always find a simply charming beauty there. I almost always leave with a bit more happiness in my heart and also feeling that I'd like to be a better person.

Although the posts can be anywhere from here to there (just like most of the rest of us); about a mending project she's undergoing on her stuffed bear Bobo, or a stroll through the park, or receiving the latest letter from a pen pal, or summer pudding (had no clue what that was prior to reading), I can't help but smile and enjoy reading every bit of every story. Frugally Challenged is certainly leaving her mark on the world through her fabulous blog.

I for one recommend stopping on by and giving her a hearty hello: Trundling Through Life

In the "Blogs I love" posts this month I'm simply giving a little shout out to blogs that I find myself commenting on most often and that tend to encourage me or make me smile. I'm absolutely not trying to exclude anyone. There's a world of wonderful bloggers out there. I follow many of you and love your blogs too.