Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weekend To-dos

  1. Plant watermelon seeds out back.
  2. Tidy up the yard. DONE
  3. Really clean up the kitchen.
  4. Mail out one friendly hello.
  5. Start starfish pillow. DONE
  6. Finish starfish pillow. DONE
  7. Bake something... bread, pretzels, something fun and yummy but maybe not super sugary. DONE
  8. Catch up and keep up on daily Bible reading (trying to read through the Chronological Bible in six months).
  9. Clear off the buffet and dining room table (much bigger job then it sounds, sadly).
  10. Weather permitting, GET OUTSIDE BUNCHES! We spent a TON of time outside during April, not so much in May however and we need to get out there more again. DONE
  11. Look through June's budget and set spending goals. DONE

   12.  Tackle my bedroom closet; ooh, scaaaary!

7. Bake something

I finished number seven tonight. I was thinking of baking bread or pretzels but I strayed from the plan and started looking up donut recipes. I settled on THIS ONE for baked strawberry donuts BUT I don't have a donut pan so I ended up making mini strawberry glazed muffins in my mini muffin tin with the donut recipe.

I think this recipe turned out really well but I tweaked it quite a bit and I don't see how this mini muffin is anything like a donut at all. Maybe the non-resemblance is just because of the muffin shape but I tried to convince myself this was a donut hole and still no, totally muffin. It's a rather moist yet airy muffin and again I really liked the way they turned out but no resemblance to a donut.

In case anyone cares my tweaks were: coconut oil in place of the butter, apple butter syrup in place of the maple syrup, also apple butter syrup in place of the vanilla in the glaze and I added a little cinnamon to the glaze. I also halved the glaze portion of the recipe because 3 cups of powdered sugar seemed absurd to me for the amount of mini muffins I ended up with (one full mini muffin pan worth). Also, these glazed strawberry mini muffins are perfection topped with a fresh raspberry. 

5. & 6. Start and Finish starfish pillow

I'm not totally happy with how my almost entire days worth of work Saturday (or half a day at least) turned out BUT it's FINALLY done! I am happy about that. Side note: I can't use a sewing machine. Apparently I don't know how. Every time I've ever tried I end up spending more time monkeying with the machine then what I do actually sewing so I always sew by hand. I like sewing by hand anyhow but it sure takes more time.

I made a plain white insert for this so that the cover could be more easily washed/ thrown into a washing machine (instead of just making a solid decorative pillow) and this little project is the first time I've ever made a pattern or used a pattern for anything (except for a pair of pants I started to make for my sister once and never finished). But the insert is just a bit too small or the cover is just a bit too big so that the finished work of art is a bit more wrinkly than I'd envisioned. I purposefully made the cover just the tiniest big bigger because I thought if the cover and insert were the exact same size then it would be too snug. Sigh.

Well, I marked 6 out of 11 things off my weekend to-do list. I'll wrap up a few more tomorrow. Over half done isn't bad for me.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May Numbers Are In

I'm shooting for a no spend day tomorrow and officially wrapping up May. Here's my spending rundown for the month with average daily spending for each category. I honestly didn't try that hard and still this month was SO MUCH better than April.

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.76 < yep, back under that dreaded $18 mark

May Spending
$11.45 a day on Groceries. Total $355.16
$1.23 a day on Toiletries. Total $38.25

85 cents a day on Gifts. Total $26.22
$1.71 a day on Food out. Total $53.16
10 cents a day on Pets. Total $2.99

Average daily spending for May: $15.34
9 NO SPEND days

Once again the average daily spending for food is sticking around the $12 a day mark. My average daily spending for the year on groceries is $11.95
Jan. $11.36 a day groceries.
Feb. $11.53 a day groceries.
Mar. $12.83 a day groceries.
Apr. $12.56 a day groceries.
May $11.45 a day groceries.

My spending goals for May were: to get the average daily spending total for the year under $18 a day. Mission accomplished; WOOHOO! And to be in the low $16 a day range for the month of May, also a win. And to only spend in four categories. I spent in five categories but I'm currently tracking eleven categories (I add new ones when I find that I need to) and I only went one over my goal of four. I'm happy with that. I did not do great with no spend days but I am not going to start complaining about that. Financially the month of May is a total win.

We had mother's day this month, and there was a birthday for one of my nieces and for one of my nephews. I've never been great at planned gift giving but I'd bought a birthday gift for both of the birthday cuties this month back in January during the after Christmas toy clearance so I had pretty decent gifts for both of them AND didn't have to spend any money for that this month. A good friend gave birth to a beautiful little girl this month and little Abe and I picked up an inexpensive gift for our visit to meet her. I did buy my mom a very inexpensive on sale hanging basket of flowers for mother's day. And I have a $5.99 toy listed in my spending this month as a gift but I can't for the life of me remember what that was for.

Granted my food out spending is a billion times better than it was five years ago but when I look at the fact that I spent $1.71 a day on food out this month, I feel like I can do way better than that. One of the biggest culprits has just been picking up a snack here or there while working. If I just planned a little bit better for work or refrained from having a snack during my 5 hour shift I could spend way less in that category.

I will be needing to purchase dog food in June. We're out of laundry detergent. I know my spending is going to be higher in June then it was this month so my goal for June is simply to match what the current average daily spending for the year is. I'm not looking to spend $15 or $16 a day but if I can keep all of June at the $17.76 a day average that I'm currently at then I will be very happy.

There you have it folks. Another one in the books.


May 2015 Total: $475.68
NO SPEND day 48    5.31
NO SPEND day 47    5.30
Horse riding?/ Toy for little Abe $15.99    2.29
$2.18 coffee and a york    2.29
Hot dogs and squirt $4.98    2.29
Groceries $32.88    5.28
Lunch $4.26    5.28
Groceries $7.98    5.27
Groceries $15.54    5.26
Groceries $7.39    5.25
NO SPEND day 46    5.24
A gift and wrapping paper $10.87    5.23
(yep, I bought wrapping paper)

Groceries $29.10    5.23
Groceries $8.28    5.22
Groceries $6    5.21
Lunch and coffee $6.05    5.20
Joint medicine for dog $16.83    5.19
Groceries $18.28    5.19
Toilet paper $30    5.19
Groceries $22.58    5.18
deodorant $4.76    5.18
NO SPEND day 45    5.17
NO SPEND day 44    5.16
Coconut oil $12.98    5.15
Toiletry item $3.49    5.15
Groceries $32.94    5.15
Honey and beeswax $10    5.15
Groceries $5.78    5.14
Lunch sandwich $4.99    5.13
Dog treats $2.99    5.12
Toy $5.99    5.12
Groceries $27.64    5.12
The expensive vet dog food $47.99
Groceries $28.27    5.11
NO SPEND day 43    5.10
NO SPEND day 42    5.9
Groceries $26.13    5.8
Groceries $16.28    5.7
Newborn baby gift $9.36    5.7
Breakfast $3.05    5.6
Groceries $17.16    5.5
Lunch $7.76    5.5
NO SPEND day 41    5.4
Culvers $24.87    5.3
Groceries $24.97    5.2
NO SPEND day 40    5.1

No Spend Day 47; Shopping Extravaganza!

Today has been the very best kind of no spend day, the kind where I don't spend a single penny but still come home with a bunch of stuff.

Little Abe and I ventured out after breakfast. First stop the craft store. I promised one of my beautiful nieces a starfish pillow ages ago. One of her aspirations in life is to become a marine biologist thus she has an adorable sea themed bedroom (it's done very trendy/ classy, not little kid cute). I haven't started the pillow due to some serious procrastination issues and not having spare change to purchase supplies. My niece reminded me of my promise last weekend and I knew I needed to get on it. Quite fortunately a dear friend of mine had given me a gift card to a craft store for my birthday. Ta-da: pillow supplies and no money spent. And SERIOUSLY can you believe that fabric?!?!?! It's perfect!

Next stop: the grocery store. I know, I spend far too much time at the store but Little Abe and I were making an adventure out of not spending money while acquiring things this morning. We needed milk, and I had to return deposit bottles in order to accomplish the next no spend stop on our tour. I had a $10 store reward to use at the store, hence the milk, carrots, peanut butter, and B1G1 free goldfish. We also returned two small bags of deposit bottles so that instead of spending money at the store we got groceries and money back.

With the bottle deposit money we headed to Tim Hortons to sit down and enjoy two donuts together and a small cup of coffee for me. We could have easily gotten donuts from the grocery store but there's something special about making a stop at "the donut shop," sitting together at the little diner style table, and giggling together while we enjoy our special sugary treats. We've only been to Tim Horton's once before to enjoy a donut together. It really does feel special. There's sort of a novelty about it since it's a rare outing.

We stopped at Grammy and Papa's house for a very quick visit on the way home and now it's just about nap time. And I've a pillow to start sewing.

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.88

Friday, May 29, 2015

Three Big Happy Smiles/ Weekend To-dos

When a new friend brings greetings of cheese from a cheese factory tour in Wisconsin. <Enormous smile!!!> Everyone knows that Wisconsin is famous for their cheese. And everyone knows I'm in love with cheese (right? everyone knows that right?). SOOOOOO Yummy!!! (I only wish I'd have thought of an appropriate gift... however one can only do so much brain storming with a cloudy brain)

My carrots! Lovely, cute, glorious carrots! (tiny carrot toppers at least) I'd said there were about 30 in there. I've actually counted 60. I guess my estimate was off by a few.

The newly discovered money plants in our backyard have recently started to grow their famous money plant coins. I'm giddy, truly giddy! I really could not be more excited about a plant that just mysteriously planted itself in my back yard.

On another note, my last week-end to do list took over a week to tackle but posting it certainly helped motivate me so I'm posting a new one this week.

  1. Plant watermelon seeds out back.
  2. Tidy up the yard.
  3. Really clean up the kitchen.
  4. Mail out one friendly hello.
  5. Start starfish pillow.
  6. Finish starfish pillow.
  7. Bake something... bread, pretzels, something fun and yummy but maybe not super sugary.
  8. Catch up and keep up on daily Bible reading (trying to read through the Chronological Bible in six months).
  9. Clear off the buffet and dining room table (much bigger job then it sounds, sadly).
  10. Weather permitting, GET OUTSIDE BUNCHES! We spent a TON of time outside during April, not so much in May however and we need to get out there more again.
  11. Look through June's budget and set spending goals.
   12.  Tackle my bedroom closet; ooh, scaaaary!

Coffee and Horses

What a strange up and down day I've had.

82 cents - York Peppermint Patty 9AM
$1.26 - coffee at Starbucks 11:00 AM
$19.99 - toy for little Abe and hot dogs at grocery store 1 PM

I had to head into work about 3 hours earlier than normal to make two scheduled events I'd planned this morning, both of which would have been while I'd normally be working. While working I took a quick 10 minute break at 9AM and enjoyed a little pick me up with a York peppermint patty.

After heading into work early I got out of work early and zoomed over to the nearby Starbucks for one of those once in a lifetime rare opportunities where you get to meet a friend you've made online who lives 2200 miles away but just so happened to be driving through on a cross country road trip. She gave me the remaining amount on her Starbucks gift card and I ended up paying $1.26 for the new smores frapp that I've been wanting to try for ages (however long it's been on the menu anyhow). I've been quite proud of myself for resisting it thus far and well I think I picked the perfect opportunity to enjoy the new beverage. It was a lovely meeting! She and her husband are fabulous people and it sounds like they're having a wonderful vacation. Oddly, despite how awkward the idea of meeting a person for the first time that you've known for awhile is, I felt as though we've known each other for a lifetime and not that I was meeting someone for the very first time at all.

We had a relatively short chat and then I rushed off to pick up my little buddy and take him to a horse riding lesson. It's been sometime since he's had one. We arrived about 10 minutes late but his instructor was no where to be found. When I was informed that she had left for the day I was heart broken for the little guy. We drove 20 minutes for a lesson and he was as excited as a child could be and all for nothing but an enormous let down. He handled it well. I asked him if there was anywhere else, anywhere at all that he'd like to go instead and he said he'd like to go "to Grammy's house." I tried not to cry the whole ride back to town. The tears trying to escape were from too little sleep the night before (I am just not a morning person) and tired emotions being tugged at. Little Abe didn't cry at all. Sure, he was let down but he didn't seem heart broken. No one was at Grammy's house either so I took him to the store to pick out a toy in exchange for not getting to ride a horse today or visit with his Grammy.

When I got home and saw that I'd gotten the time wrong, in my head we were supposed to be having a lesson TWO hours later than when it was actually scheduled, I actually did start crying and had a very difficult time at stopping. Today was going to be very rushed but tremendously awesome. The first part of the day was truly great. Rushing to the lesson as fast as I possibly could with a three year old boy who was overflowing with excitement and then having to turn around and leave, well, I need a nap now. Too bad I can't nap, grrr!

I think I will try and brainstorm a really fun activity for he and I this evening (for when he wakes up from his nap). If only I can conjure up a little energy for myself... In the mean time I'm debating whether or not to include the new toy in my average daily spending budget. It was a pathetic swap for my brain fog and having missed the horse riding and I don't include activities for him in the average daily spending because I don't ever want to talk myself out of something fun or educational for him, like swimming lessons, gymnastics, or horse riding lessons because "it would raise the average daily spending" more than I'd like. There is a method to my madness and some things like Abe's activities (which I do not go overboard on) and medical expenses just don't make it into my average daily spending tally.

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.88

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Just Random

My carrots are growing along great. To be honest I'm being very impatient for them but as they say on Caillou, "you can't rush a raspberry." You also can't rush a carrot (or a bin of them). I want to pull one out each day just to see what's under the dirt but I am holding myself back. Right now the carrot tops are only about 2 inches high so there wouldn't be much more than a tiny normal looking root, not a carrot by any means.

I had planted carrots in a small portion of my back garden, about the same amount of surface space as the purple bin, before realizing that they would probably all be eaten by neighborhood wildlife. I planted the back garden carrot seeds at least a week before planting the bin. Well, officially there are TWO carrot tops poking out of the ground in the back bed whereas there are at least 30 in my purple bin. The rabbits got the ones in the ground alright. They didn't even give the things a change to get one inch high before nibbling them off.

Moving on, I've been struggling with depression quite a lot this month. It doesn't leave me debilitated or helpless but it sure makes life dreary and much more difficult. Drum roll please... I think it's finally moved on. It always does but waiting it out isn't exactly a cake walk. I cleaned the house two days in a row without the overwhelming feeling of needing to dig a big big hole somewhere and hide inside of it for weeks, which usually results in the house not getting cleaned and me trying to hide under a blanket instead. That's just one of the signs that I'm on the mend.

I did make the dandelion hand salve, yay. It's far too oily (I probably needed to put in a bit more of the beeswax) but being my first go at anything of the sort I'm very happy with the vibrant yellow color from the dandelion flowers, I do like the smell mostly from the coconut oil, and despite the oil factor it leaves my hands very soft once it's worked in. The recipe I followed did note that it would be oily so I should have expected it I suppose. Recipe here I took photos of my end results but I've apparently deleted them and I haven't the time to go take more now.

Well May is almost over. Not much has been made of it here, on my end, but my spending has stayed pretty well in check and that is always an upside.

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.95

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hm... Thoughts, thoughts, and more thoughts but not much to say.
At least its a three day weekend. Despite the noisy poppers (that's what little Abe and I call the pointless firecrackers that terrify my oldest dog) three day weekends are awesome. Also, my family had a gathering yesterday and that is virtually always an enormous highlight to my life. As always there's lots to be thankful for.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.11

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Strawberry Bucket

There are a ton of strawberries on their way.

I look out the kitchen window several times a day and smile each and every time at the sight of our beautiful strawberry bucket in the back yard. What a simple thing, what a truly grand thing. Little Abe and I are excited for bright red backyard strawberries! (I'm enjoying them just as they are in the meantime)

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.15

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Hoard

The city came and took away the hoarders treasures today (the outside ones anyway). Is this noteworthy? Not really. But he's worked so hard collecting all his junk. It's really junk too, he mostly collects things from the dumpster behind the thrift store; stuff other people didn't want, donated, and then the thrift store didn't even want it. The animals loved his outside hoard. Often times you'd see squirrels, cats, rabbits, and even very large raccoons running from the hills of stuff. I suspect he was hoarding trash too. Most of the items were packed tightly in plastic bags. It was the most unsightly mess ever, hundreds of plastic bags piled behind his home and next to his garage mixed in with other bigger things that couldn't be bagged.

He doesn't work. He doesn't seem to have a family. He doesn't talk to anyone... wait, that's just my neighborhood in general. He rides his bike around all day collecting things to pack his house with. Stuff is falling out the windows; it's packed! And now a good portion of his collection is gone. The city gave him three notices and the last one told him the date and time they'd be by to remove the unsightly mess if he didn't do it himself. The house is full. The garage is full. There was no place else for him to put it all. But now it's gone.

The fact that all his hard work was just trucked away, I feel badly for him. In fact I'm kind of sad. But I feel bad that he has this need to acquire too. He's ruined his home. But then there are those woman who have to have 20 or 30 or 100 or 500 pairs of shoes, or 40 handbags. They need a coordinating outfit for every single day of the year. And men who spend tens of thousands of dollars collecting cars or whatever; video games, movies, jewelry, there are plenty of things to obsessively collect. I think a good portion of our society looks up to and admires the types of "lucky" individuals who can pursue their every desire and acquire and acquire and acquire. The television sure makes an expensive hoarding lifestyle look like the American dream. Are they any better? Sure they're contributing to the economy and their lives are pretty (not like a hill of garbage packed in plastic bags behind a hoarders house ) but why do they need such excess? Why does the hoarder need such excess? Why do we need so much?

I'm not trying to be a judgmental minimalist freak, doling it out to everyone I can fit in my little rant but sometimes, actually often times the excess we strive for and mostly the need for it makes me really sad.

It's all gone. Just like that all his hard work is for nothing and I guess there's a warrant out for his arrest for failing to show up to a court date about the hoard. (Don't mess up my town folks. They will get you!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I just spent $30 on toilet paper and I'm actually a little giddy about it. What has happened to me?

If you were to look back through this blog you'd find that I mention many times that toilet paper is my very least favorite item to purchase. I hate buying toilet paper. I'm not prepared to use re-usable wipes (cloth wipes) and toilet paper is certainly a necessity but it's such an absolutely unappealing purchase for me. I feel like I'm just throwing money down the toilet every time I have to buy it.

The particular TP that I've finally settled upon that is my very favorite, Charmin basic, is on sale this week for $1 off; $10.99 for a 24 pack at the main store I shop in. If you spend $40 or more on this particular item (there are other items included in this sale but the TP is all I was interested in) then you get an instant $10 off. I had a $1 digital coupon too (only able to use once and only on one of the four packs) and when I spent $40 on paper products (TP included) I earned a $5 store reward.

I just spent $30 (that includes tax and minus the $5 store reward I earned) on 96 rolls of toilet paper and saved $20.84. I sure hate buying toilet paper but somehow saving $20.84 on it has made this quite an enjoyable purchase. I will say I did notice a few people at the store giving me odd looks for having a cart FILLED with only toilet paper but they obviously didn't know what I did. Your loss folks.

I have some toilet paper stocked up still from the last good deal I found on it so we might just have enough toilet paper to last for the rest of the year now. Oh, now that makes me giddy!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pinata Time

If you're not terrified of messes (like Sue) and have never made a pinata before I highly suggest gathering up some newspaper, flour, water, and a balloon and giving it a try. Little Abe and I made one together last year around this same time so I guess you could call this our annual pinata making time. The process takes several steps but it's so inexpensive and tons of fun, especially sensory wise for little ones.

1.) Inflate a balloon. You can tie it to a hanger or string it up somewhere in your house. Ideally it needs to be hung somewhere.

2.) Cut some newspaper into strips. You probably want to keep the strips under 2 inches wide and about half the length of a full page of newspaper.

3.) Mix up some flour and water (a little goes a pretty long way). I do not ever measure but I think one part flour to two parts water is probably a safe ratio. It really doesn't matter that much if the paste is a bit thick or if it's a bit watery but you're ideally going for a pancake batter consistency, maybe a tiny bit thicker than that.

4.) Completely cover one strip at a time in paste. I always wipe excess paste off each piece of paper by placing the strip in between two fingers and running the excess off. You really just want both sides of the paper wet. Of course the little guy isn't quite as thorough in his paste application. Layer the balloon with one layer of overlapping strips. This isn't rocket science but if you let layers dry in between layering on more wet pasty paper you'll get a better result. Once your pinata has three or four layers of strips it should be pretty well set. You can put as many layers as you'd like overall though.

If you want to add shape to your pinata (other than a round balloon) you can tape crumpled up pieces of newspaper to the paper mached balloon once it has two layers of dried strips. Then just add two more layers over top of the shape you've created (let one dry before adding another). You can pop the balloon when you're all done and you should totally cut a hole in your creation, fill it with treats, hang it somewhere and break it open with a bat or stick. I know, all that work just to smash it to bits... it's tradition.

This marks one more thing off my weekend to-do list and it was fun. We're quite proud of our paper alligator.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.04
No spend day 45 today.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Weekend gardening

Remember this little guy, just peeking his head out from the soil, ready to feel the sun on his green leaves and get to grow, grow, growing?

It's been exactly a month since I put the tomato seeds in dirt (pardon my enthusiasm but this is the first time I've grown plants from seeds since elementary school) and my lovely tomato plants are now in the yard. I put them in yesterday and they survived the night; I know, protective mother much? I really did rush outside this morning hoping to see my small plants happy and hearty and comfortable in their new spots, out of doors after their first night outside. (I know, I'm not going to deal well with my son moving out of the house some day).

I also lengthened this bed to make room for bean plants and planted the beans. Putting the tomatoes and beans in the yard checks two things off of my weekend to-do list. Little Abe and I have also worked on the pinata several times today so that makes a third thing that should get checked off the list. We're planning to paint it tomorrow.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.04
Today was no spend day 44 for the year.

Baking Powder Biscuits Recipe

I needed beeswax for the dandelion hand salve and since a friend of mine is a beekeeper I asked her if she had any from her hives. She did and said she'd bring it over but of course I'm not going to get beeswax from her and not order some of her fabulous local raw honey.

The first thing I do when I get honey from her is whip up a batch of baking powder biscuits (which is probably unwise because little Abe and I end up using a ton of the honey right away as we chow down on our honey covered biscuits). I love this recipe. It's super easy. The dough doesn't need to rise, or chill, or anything of the sort. It's just simple, quick, and yummy. It's a pretty rustic biscuit and we (little Abe and I) love it that way. I thought I posted this recipe once before but I can't seem to find it so this may be a repeat.

Baking Powder Biscuits

1 1/3 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut in pieces
1/2 cup milk

Preheat over to 425F and grease a baking sheet.
Sift the dry ingredients (if you like; I don't sift them if I'm in a hurry and am still very happy with the results)
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until you have coarse crumbs. I don't have a pastry blender but I do have a biscuit cutter that works wonders for both cutting the butter into the flour and for cutting out the biscuits once the dough is rolled out. So if you don't have a pastry blender but do have a biscuit cutter that will work too. I promise.

Pour in the milk and stir with a fork to form a soft dough. 

Roll the dough out about a 1/4 inch thick. Cut out your biscuits with a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter or heck use a glass if need be.

Place onto baking sheet. Bake until golden about 12 minutes. GREAT with honey, or with butter and chili, or with... oh, the possibilities are endless.

Making the dandelion hand salve is one of my to-dos this weekend and I've already hit a road block. It's only three ingredients:
dandelion infused oil (done)
beeswax (got it)
coconut oil... hmm

I ran to the store yesterday for coconut oil and found out that it costs $23. Okay, it was on sale for $17.89 but still. Woah!!! I knew that I'd seen the exact same one online for much cheaper. I picked up the $18 container, being the ONLY thing I went to the store for, sort of turned circles in the aisle for a few seconds, thinking out loud, "no, gah, yes, no, yes, gosh darn it, no!" I put it back on the shelf and we left. I really wanted to make the dandelion hand salve this weekend especially since I strained the flowers from the oil and it's ready to go now and I have the beeswax but I headed home to order the coconut oil online instead. I ordered the same exact thing for $7.99 with $4.99 shipping. So I spent $12.98 on coconut oil instead of the $18.96 (that's with tax) that I would have spent at the grocery store. Geesh, who pays $23 for that stuff?!?!?! Basically I saved $6 and have to wait a few extra days to make the hand salve.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Weekend to-do list; Clearing up some space in my head

The man whom I married bought me beautiful roses and other lovely bouquets of flowers while we were dating. Of course he informed me after we were married that he thinks purchasing flowers is ridiculous "because they just die." The man actually dislikes flowers. He's admitted to this. (just one of his many wonderful quirks) Geesh, this could have been a deal breaker.

Twelve years into our marriage I'm pretty sure he's bought me flowers once, maybe twice before this mother's day when he came home with these yellow mums. He insisted that they are not from him since he "does not like, or give flowers." He had my wonderful son present them to me. I actually cried, because 1.) my husband doesn't give me flowers but I love them so much and I was very touched and 2.) my son was SOOOOOOOO excited to give me this gift. (well jokes on you honey dear; these flowers won't die because they are potted and I can plant them in the yard, LOL!) The other beautiful bunches I JUST cut from our back yard. I'll just say I'm very happy with my kitchen right now. VERY!

Moving on. I have been overwhelmed as of late, partly due to work, partly due to the weather (cold, cold, cold), partly due to a million other things I shall not even attempt to list. This weekend I've resolved to clear up some space in my head and hopefully help my mood by making and checking things off a to-do list comprised of tasks I've been letting fall by the way side but the wayside is memo-ing my brain every few minutes throughout the day that these things need tending to. Time to tend and cheer up!

  1. Make dandelion hand salve. (the biscuits pictured about are a part of this task... I'll explain later)
  2. Send the last few remaining give-away items to Cindy. Yep, it's almost been a month and there are a few items not yet sent out.
  3. Deliver my sister's birthday present to her. (her birthday was the beginning of LAST month but to be fair she was in Guatemala over her birthday)
  4. Deliver my niece's birthday present. (closer than my sister's but getting rather late and she was not in Guatemala)
  5. Pay the dentist bill. (much more late than my sister's birthday present)
  6. Get the tomato plants in the ground.
  7. Dig up the spot for the beans, yeah, and plant those too.
  8. Finish up the pinata with little Abe that we started... a very long time ago.
  9. Mail out two things I've been meaning to for ages but alas, have not.
  10. Plant some flower seeds.
  11. Back up six more months of photos onto discs.
   12. Pack away little Abe's clothes that no longer fit. (I'm amazed at how many times one needs to do this in the lifetime of a three year old)

Yes folks, these are the sort of things that slowly drive me insane.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Life Lessons with a Three Year Old

I think I've created a monster.

For months in the beginning while I held my new born son in my arms and gazed at his tiny sleeping face and the adorable swirl of hair on his forehead (he has two very strong cowlicks) I dreamed about and contemplated so many things about him. I didn't know what his personality would be like. Gosh, I didn't even know what he'd look like a few months down the road. I couldn't imagine what his little voice would sound like when he first started to talk. But as a new mom I thought about all these things and many others. I knew there were a few things that I really wanted to teach this little guy. One such thing was an appreciation for the little things. I wasn't sure how I would go about teaching him this outlook on life but I knew I needed to.

I didn't want to raise a kid that was always thinking about stuff; about his next new toy or video game. I wanted my boy to enjoy the world he lives in and to make the most out of what's right here. We spend a good deal of time together, he's sort of my shadow. We both enjoy being outside and I am sort of obnoxious about pointing things out to him and asking him questions. "Buddy, do you see the bunny under that bush over there? Can you hear that noise (as a bird sings off in the distance)? What do you think that noise is? Oooh, come here and look what I found. Isn't this bug neat? How many different color flowers do you see? Do you know what kind of flower that is?" I mean I'm relentless but these constant observations are all done while playing a sport, or digging in the yard, or whatever else we might be doing.

Two times this week we attempted a bike ride around the block, once with his little bike and once with the big wheel. Both times he rode and I walked slower then I have ever walked in my entire life. Actually I don't think it's possible for a kid to ride any slower than he did either. My child wanted to "ride his bike around the block" but he had to stop and look at every single ant hill he passed. "Mom, look at them running around their home." He found a few really great sticks that he needed to stop and pick up and play with. He needed to point out at least four different robins that we saw flying by us. Of course he had to stop to point them out. The worst was when we TRIED to ride past the house on the corner that is notorious for leaving things all over the yard. He felt the need to point out every single hot wheel car, every piece of trash, anything you might not normally see sitting in someone's yard, he had to tell me about it (and they were home, and they had their windows open). One house had side walk chalk drawings all over the front walk and he was thrilled by them. "Mom, these are just so beautiful. Aren't they?" He noticed several tulips "just like ours." And I was getting so unbelievably frustrated with him the entire time for constantly stopping and moving so slow. I felt like I spent more time on our ride around the block standing in one spot then I did moving. He even some how noticed a rolly polly (pill bug) in the dirt while he was riding his bike that he thought he needed to stop and pick up, oh and a dead worm in a pile of leaves. (He loves rolly pollies and worms) How does anyone notice a dead worm in a pile of leaves while riding their bike around the block? Seriously.

I kept saying, "Buddy, we're going for a bike ride here. You have to pedal. Do you want to just walk home now? Come on, keep pedaling." He's not lazy. He's very active. He wasn't struggling at the task particularly he's just honest to goodness over observant. The first time we attempted the "bike ride" I got really frustrated with myself for getting frustrated with him. The second time I left the house telling myself that I needed to not get frustrated with him and I still did. I'm going to try for bike ride around the block part three before too long and this time I'm going to try and tell myself that we're not going for a bike ride we're going for a journey. I mean, that's how I'm teaching him to live his life, to notice all the little things along the way, to experience the processes of things not just the act in itself, to really take it all in. Getting frustrated with him for wanting to watch ants on our bike ride is beyond unacceptable. I'm a monster (at times) but this kid is slowly but surely teaching me patience. And to think I thought I'd be teaching him to appreciate the little things. Ha!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Our 2015 Strawberries

Last year I spent $11.31 on my lovely strawberry container garden. Here's our strawberry plants on May 18th last year. There are six plants in that metal tub.

This year I spent zero dollars on my strawberry garden and here it is today, four plants in the tub. These plants are huge compared to where I started last year. I moved two into a different container that I already had, and that already had dirt in it. Gardening is seriously fun stuff.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.09

Monday, May 11, 2015

Another Fabulous Spending Rundown

On April 30th I stated here: My spending goals for May, as of right now, are to only use four spending categories. Groceries is a given, after that I'm not sure what other three I'll need. Ah, pets will for sure be one of them too. Again, I want my average daily spending for the year to be under $18 a day. With an average daily spending of $16.90/ Jan, $18.10/ Feb, $16.20/ Mar & $22.46/ Apr; I'd like to be much closer to a low $16 a day average for May.

I'll admit that being eleven days into May (WAIT! ELEVEN already; wow) I have not been paying super close attention to my spending but my average daily spending for the month is only at $14.35 a day right now. So far so good anyway! My average daily spending for groceries which generally sticks around $12 a day is at $10.25 a day right now. I've spent in three categories so far this month: groceries, gifts, and food out (which I'd hoped to avoid but killed the third day of the month). We're almost out of dog treats so pets is inevitable. I give them dog treats when they come in from the backyard so I'm afraid the less intelligent of the two dogs would revolt/ become totally untrained if I made them go a month or two weeks without treats.

I guess that means, if I truly want to stay within four spending categories no cleaning, toiletries, garden purchases, or stuff. The other categories I track are easy to avoid. I'll be honest, food out should not have been one of the four and I'm probably not going to get away with not purchasing either a cleaning or toiletry item. We shall see. I won't pass up a great sale to stay within just four categories, that's all I'm saying.

Average daily spending for 2015:$18.05
^almost below that dreaded $18 a day spending. woohoo!

I did buy dog food from the vet today but I don't include that in the average daily spending around here (it's for our girl dog who gets bladder stones). I consider her food a medical expense and I don't put medical expenses in the average daily spending (well except for tiny things like bandaides). If we didn't feed her the vet food she'd end up needing more surgery down the road. So I figure the extra cost of the food is worth her not having to undergo more surgery and us not having to pay for more surgery.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I was explaining to him today that he's the reason I'm a mom.
He didn't really get it.
To him, "mom" is 100% who I am. What does he have to do with that?
Everything my son. Everything.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Robin Hood Men in Tights

Once upon a time my husband and my son watched Robin Hood Men in Tights at least five days in a row while I was at work. When my son asked me several times if I'd watch it with him (after he'd already watched it that day) I told him that I didn't really like that movie as much as he and daddy do. He assumed that boys must like Robin Hood Men in Tights but that girls do not.

If you can understand him, because he talks pretty fast like his mommy, he also is certain the he is going to get bigger and I'm going to get smaller (I actually hope that I do because I have some weight to lose but he's not aware of this little fact) and he mentions this fact. And once he's bigger and I'm smaller I can hide behind his back while he's watching Robin Hood, because he has quite perfected hiding behind my back when he doesn't like something.

He was talking all about it the other day so I got out the camcorder. Here you go:

Friday, May 8, 2015

My Grandmother's Money Plants

I was introduced to the money plant by my beautiful English Grandmother who had them in her many, MANY perennial gardens. As a kid I loved playing with the coins from the money plants in her yard. I couldn't even tell you, or give words to what made this particular flowering plant magical to me as a child but I adored them (it may have simply been it's name). I couldn't have cared less about the lovely little purple flowers in springtime, I just wanted those awesome coins!

Many of the plants around our yard were given to me by my Grandmother. All of my hostas, the now giant wild rose bush, those darn yellow flowers that ate virtually all the other perennials, a neat delicate perennial that I thought was gone but I managed to salvage when I was cleaning up the beds this year (I'll have to figure out what it's called), and two large bunches of Autumn Joy that I don't even cut back in the fall because I like the way it looks all winter (I cut them back in spring instead). I really cherish the plants in my yard that came from my Grandmother's garden.

Well, last spring a strange looking "weed" showed up behind our house. The leaves on it looked sort of similar to a pumpkin or squash type leaf but it was so hearty and bulky looking that I was actually a bit worried it was a toxic plant or that darn hogweed that showed up in Michigan quite recently. I left it hoping that maybe somehow pumpkin got planted behind my house. It wasn't pumpkin but this spring it came back in mass. I posted a photo of it online to a gardening shop around here asking what it might be before I tried to eradicate it. Well the shop never got back to me but two of my friends saw that I'd posted it and chimed in with their thoughts. One said she was pretty sure it was a money plant. I told her that it didn't produce any coins last year so that didn't seem practical. Then she told me that they only give coins every other year. The virdict is in and I absolutely have a big bunch of money plants directly behind my house.

These magical beauties are not from my Grandmother's garden but as she's looking down on me each year while I work away in the yard and try to preserve the plants she gave me I think she saw fit to put a patch of money plants behind my house after all, knowing how much I loved them as a child.

These were not here two years ago
Thank-you Grandmother
Money plant "coins" (photo from
Not only do I now have a plant that I simply adore in my yard, one that will remind me of my Grandmother every time I look at it, but it was free (seeing as it planted itself), and now my son will have the pleasure of growing up and playing with the coins from our money plants just like I played with the coins from my grandparent's plants. This is just one of those simple things in life that I find truly an enormous blessing and a thing to smile about for ages to come!

My grandparents and my mom's oldest sister

Monday, May 4, 2015

Big helper reward number four (I think)

The cotton balls in the big helper jar reached the line again today. I'm secretly really thrilled that the dollar store is my son's very favorite store. Today he picked out a squirt gun and since he already has one he and I spent a good long time squirting each other with water in the back yard this evening. It was so much fun. I am such a big dork!

Once we were through soaking each other with water (no, it was not super warm today BUT warm enough) he found a good line up of ant hills to attack. I think he spent 30 minutes ant hunting. I rather enjoyed sitting in the grass and watching him the entire time.

Today was a very good day. I think I might like big helper reward day as much as he does. I also think he said, "Mom I really like my new helper reward," about a hundred times this evening. A dollar sure can provide a lot of fun!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May I just eat at home please

Today was fun. Lots of yard work. A birthday celebration. And then... we went out to eat. Gah! I'd actually rather eat at home in almost all circumstances now a days. What has happened to me?!?!?! This was an after the birthday celebration family dinner for my husband's nephew where we all went out to eat but everyone paid for their own meal. I have NO problem with that, just would have rather not gone out to eat. I know, call me a scrooge; most food out is honestly not worth the price to me any longer but I'll chalk this one up to paying more for the experience and the time together for the cousins then to paying for the greasy burgers.

Average daily spending for 2015: 18.05

The cupcake isn't from the burger joint. I made a plain yellow cake cupcake from my go to recipe book this evening just for a little treat. Instead of frosting little Abe and I each topped our cupcake with a sprinkling of fresh cut strawberries. I guess you can call this strawberry shortcupcakes?

I hope everyone is looking towards a wonderful first week of May!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dandelions and an Earthquake

Since we don't get earthquakes (virtually ever) and since I've never experienced an earthquake I feel it notable to mention that we had the second largest ever recorded earthquake for our state today. It was very mild and we are 80 miles from where it hit (I don't know earthquake terminology so I hope that's proper) but the house shook for several seconds and boy was it creepy. Neither myself nor (obviously) my kiddo, or anyone else around here who felt it for that matter knew what it was until everyone on social media began posting about it. That was kind of a neat added aspect to the thing. Little Abe honestly thought a giant was walking past our house shaking the ground. He looked out the window to see if he could see it.

After the earthquake (its so strange typing that) we went outside to collect dandelions from the yard. I stumbled upon a dandelion salve recipe HERE and I intend to try it out. We haven't put down a grass fertilizer or any weed killer for a few years so our dandelions should be pretty healthy (that's hilarious right? Talking about healthy dandelions?). I purchased grape seed oil today to infuse the dandelions in oil and I'll have to buy coconut oil later but it was pretty neat picking dandelions from the yard to use for a really practical and neat purpose. I hope this stuff turns our great because I'm pretty excited about it. There is also beeswax in the recipe I'm following (yes I've substituted grape seed oil for olive oil) but it just so happens I know a bee keeper so she'll be getting me the 2oz. of beeswax. I don't think I'll be buying an essential oil for fragrance since the dandelions are good enough for me. We'll wait till we cross that bridge anyhow.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.15

World Naked Gardening Day

As I've been writing a lot about the garden and yard already this spring I thought I should let every know that today is World Naked Gardening day. NO I will not be joining in but just in case you hand't heard and were interested, HAHA!

I'm not making that up!

By the way DO NOT google it and click on the first link if you don't want to see pictures of naked people gardening. Oops

Friday, May 1, 2015

Free Fun. Installment number... eh, who knows.

For full disclosures sake I am in the worst shape of my life. Well, except for maybe middle school. I was horribly out of shape in middle school. The other day little Abe told me that he wanted to go to the beach and walk around in the sand with no shoes. Today I decided to fulfill his wish.

We headed to the beach with a cheap mini football (I think we got it from the dollar store) and our two selves. First we took a good long walk up and down the shore. We looked at little rocks and bits of shells, and sadly a lot of junk. The beach is still wintered so there were neat hills, mini sand dunes if I may, up and down the length of it. They were fun to climb and push sand down. There was also a smallish bulldozer flattening out the beach and getting rid of the mini sand dunes. If nothing else it was kind of fun to watch. But as well, along the half of the beach it had finished flattening their were huge bulldzoer wheel indents and triangle shaped hills of sand with peaks that were really fun for little Abe to hop over.

After our long hoppity walk along the sand we started throwing the football to each other which very quickly evolved into one of us throwing the football off in the distance and then the both of us frantically chasing it, tumbling down on top of each other when we reached it, getting sand stuck to every place one can get sand stuck to along one's body, and then laughing hysterically. We played this very silly game for close to an hour (maybe longer). I don't know that we've ever had so much fun. I don't know that I'm going to be able to walk tomorrow (my legs feel like jello). My kid is going to sleep fabulously tonight! It was completely free fun, completely effective exercise for this very out of shape momma, and such incredible bonding time too.

Free fun: head outside and enjoy each other!

One funny bit: we were sitting in the sand together. He was trying to make a sand castle. I had my feet under the sand. Um, pretty normal for sitting on a huge sandy beach. He accidentally grabbed my big toe, started to say, "what is this rock..." and then when I moved my toe he almost peed himself, jumped with a terrible fright and then started laughing uncontrollably as he very quickly realized it was my foot. Through his laughter, almost accompanied by happy silly tears he said, "I thought it was a snake." And then just kept laughing and laughing. I think all the other folks enjoying a quite evening on the beach (not a lot of people being only the first day of May) thought we had lost our minds.

No Spend Day 40

Today was a planned no spend... I've not been doing well with sticking to the plan over the past month.
We ran out of milk yesterday and milk is a must have here in the $12 a day home.
"Well there goes another foiled no spend. Or...
Ah ha! Return bottles."
I manged to scrounge up enough return bottles to purchase a gallon of milk which makes today a successful no spend cheat, and NO SPEND day 40 for the year.

We have to pay a 10cent deposit on all our carbonated bottled beverages. My household doesn't drink a ton of pop and my hubby who loves micro brews doesn't drink a ton of beer but we'll have one or two grocery bags filled with empty bottles once or twice a month. Since I already paid for the deposit and include it in the grocery tally I don't count the bottle return as spending a second time around when I redeem it. Yay!

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.24