Friday, July 31, 2015

On Vacation


The first seven hours of driving went really quite well. My kid is a champ!

Turning off the computer now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Let's say I wanted to pose a challenge to myself to end this year with an average spending of $16.99 a day. I'm finding myself averaging out at little over $18 a day. I'm starting to hate that number. My desire each month seems to be to get under $18 a day and into the $17 range.

$16.99 a day sounds to me not only like a sweet number to end on but a triumphant number.

A goal of $16.99 a day leaves $2017.15 to spend for the rest of 2015, or in $12 a day speak that leaves me $13.36 a day. Considering that I'm regularly coming in around $18 a day THAT is a challenge.

Am I up for it... hm, I don't know but I have begun to ponder.

Average daily spending for 2015: 18.42 (Yuck)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Debt Quote Tuesday; Oh I can make that

Creativity is intelligence having fun.
-Albert Einstein.
If there's one thing to be said about the frugal life it's that as long as you keep your mind open you can have a lot of fun finding creative alternatives to spending money.

I've done a lot of brainstorming for this upcoming, long drive but short trip and way too much noticing things in the store that would be "just perfect." So far I've not done the greatest job keeping track of what's been spent to prepare for the trip but I haven't lost receipts so I'll add things up soon and I think I've done good.

I wanted to buy a cheap map so that I could keep track of our progress with little Abe in maybe 30 minute increments while driving 8.5 hours down south but, uh, maps aren't cheap. So instead I got foam-board from the dollar store and drew up a map with just our route on it. It will be a little geography lesson for him too. I want to place stickers along the route as we drive and it just so happens I had to work with labels for a project at work last week and I held onto all the blank ones instead of throwing them out so that I can make some stickers in the shape of little blue cars for our map. I could have easily got some cheap stickers somewhere but I like free better.

I've seen a few things you can hang on the back of the front car seat so that drinks, snacks, activities are more accessible or more organized for the kiddo in the car and I almost bought one today until it dawned on me that I could probably make a pretty good one myself with fabric I have on hand, a metal hanger, and a hot glue gun (I do not have time to sew one up right now) So I'll be working on that this evening... we'll see.

On a different note I've been wanting to get some sort of compost bin for ages but every time I look into them I haven't been able to find one that I can afford, or even afford to make, no matter how many of them say "inexpensive DIY" in the headline. I've finally found one that I can make myself for FREE. I'm going to give it a try maybe tonite or more likely after we get back. The "bin" uses three crates (I have one and I've already gotten one from someone who no longer needed it so I only need one more), you glue a lining in the crates (I have the exact lining used in the tutorial on hand), and then place newspaper in the bottom. The post talks about making a lid but I'm pretty sure I have something in the basement I can use for a lid instead. HERE's what I'm talking about. Yay! I'm finally going to have a FREE compost bin. I like this one too because there will really be no heavy lifting and it's super portable.

This is sort of a scattered post and I'm sure I'll post updates on all of these things sooner than later. For now no more talk of making ANYTHING until my kitchen is clean!

AND now, measuring in at just over six feet tall the "little" lady has all of her lovely petals on display.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Debt Quotes

It's possibly rather prideful of me but I've added a new label to this blog that I'm rather fond of. Many of my favorite posts fall under the title of Debt Quote Tuesday, something I've not done for awhile but very well may start up again. Whatever the case I really like all of the quotes I've posted on the many Debt Quote Tuesday's starting all the way back on Tuesday May 17 of 2011. I've wasted a great deal of time today going back and labeling them all but if only for my own sake I like to be able to use the labels to find old posts, such as prior debt quotes more easily.

If you've spare time, enjoy:

Debt Quote Tuesdays of Old

Sunday, July 26, 2015


I've been eagerly anticipating the bloom of my very first sunflower. When my sister in law gave me the sprouts she had no idea how big each flower would get, if they would cluster, or even if they'd be red or yellow. The seeds were a strange hybrid. She harvested them herself from one flower and has grown them before with all different results. The one sunflower sprout she gave me that survived the neighborhood wildlife (although it's enormous regal leaves have been heavily attacked by bugs) is now taller than me and has far surpassed how big I thought it would get. I'm in love with the giant thing and cannot wait to see it's flower. Today is the first time it's started to open. I probably looked out my kitchen window at least 100 times to make sure I hadn't missed the bloom. But no, the sun is now setting and the flower is not yet fully opened. Tomorrow then, right?

Additionally on the eager anticipation chart is our vacation. I am a little overwhelmed by it's rapid approach but very excited. The hotel rooms are booked, restaurants have been researched (mostly), caves in Kentucky have been thoroughly (internet) explored, and my wonderful lovely sister has been booked to stay at our house with the furry family members while we are gone. My to do list is extraordinarily long right now but I am so excited just to get away!!! (this is little Abe's countdown so that he has a better grasp of when the trip will be)

Sorry its so blurry; I'm too tired to retake this photo right now

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Garden

I am continually amazed at the garden. Today I took the pruning sheers to the tomato plants. They are covered in fruit and I read that side shoots (just stems with leaves that don't produce fruit) should be pruned off and that each piece of fruit should be in the sun, not covered and shaded by leaves. Well my plants are way too close together, were covered in leaves, and most of the fruit wasn't getting any sun. I hope I didn't shock the four big fellows but I can see all my fruit now and all of my fruit can see the sun. (also look at the growth of that sunflower in just 10 days!)

The fact that just a few months ago I planted these four small seeds in some dirt in an egg carton that sat on my kitchen window sill and now I have these enormous healthy plants that are covered in green roma tomatoes just astonishes me. I intend to keep gardening through the years and I wonder if the miracle of life that's contained in simple seeds will always seem so miraculous to me. I am thoroughly amazed by it. 

These are the crazy tomato plants up close

Monday, July 20, 2015


At the stores I work in this week:
Buy one Visa gift card for $100 or more and get an instant $10 off.
There's a $5.95 activation fee at purchase (no fees there after).

I did purchase a $100 Visa gift card today for myself to use for buying groceries.

The cashier said to me while ringing it up, "I don't really get it, I mean, I know there's the $10 off, but how much of a deal is that really when you have to pay a $5.95 activation fee."

I then said to her, "Well I'm not saving $10 but I am still saving $4.05 and I'm going to spend the $100 anyway. If someone handed you a coupon for $4.05 for something you were already going to buy wouldn't you be pretty happy?"

She honestly looked impressed and replied, "I had not thought of it that way," like I'd come up with some brilliant mathematical calculation and suddenly just made money appear.

Will someone please tell me when $4.05 became worthless? I'm happy about the purchase/ savings.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Trip To Nashville (Advice Please?)

"The Contract" hasn't been quite as fruitful as I'd hoped but there has been some good fruit. I feel like it's helped me to avoid several purchases. My husband has been eating out considerably less and I feel like he's reigned in his spending at work some too. I have started working out (exercising). I will gladly take any benefits that come from it and something is always better than nothing.
I feel like I've been looking at hotels online for the past four days straight but I still haven't booked anything for the upcoming trip. We'll be staying two nights and now that I'm a pretty frugal gal and haven't really vacationed in several years, about four, (and considering I'm horrid at making decisions about anything) this booking a hotel situation is driving me batty.

So I come to you all for advice:
First off does anyone have a favorite place to stay in or around Nashville, preferably not south of Nashville? 
How do you go about picking a hotel? (I've been using and I've narrowed my search to hotels with free breakfast, free parking, and a pool (we WILL use the pool)) 
Are there any attractions in Nashville that we must see? (remember we'll have a three year old along that I would like to keep entertained) And for that matter any favorite restaurants? 
Do you have frugal tips for eating on vacation? All the hotels I've looked at so far have a fridge in the room and I plan to bring snacks, take full advantage of the free breakfast (not like crazy advantage but you know), and pack food for the LONG car ride. 
Lastly, favorite ways to keep a small child entertained in the car??? We have nothing. When I say low tech frugal I mean, no cell phone, no tablet, no kiddie car DVD player... we have nothing! I need some creative ideas here, please! I am hoping to bum something off friends just for the trip but I'm not sure how successful I'll be in that.

This trip will be the end of this month. I know it will be great regardless of details and money. In truth, one of the reasons my husband and I had spent so much credit card money on trips in the past is that we enjoy each other so much and have the highest quality time when we're traveling (and we've never been luxurious travelers). We just like to get away I guess. We like seeing new things and new places together. We like spending time away from the ordinary with each other... the ordinary tends to distract us from spending time with each other at all (I know, we're normal, right). We like eating at new places and pretending we're highly paid food critics as we discuss our dinners with each other. Oh there will be bickering. There will be moments of intense frustration when we hit Nashville traffic and aren't entirely sure where the exit is for the hotel. There will be snappy comments in the morning when I've not yet had my coffee and quite possibly spent 3 hours the previous day listening to a 3 year old whine and cry and get beyond frustrated in his car seat (oh, I am hoping not though). But we will enjoy each other. We will get away, get to see new things, and we will remember this vacation forever. I've said it before, right, I LOVE TO TRAVEL! Four years is really too long (but the debt payoff is really important).

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Cat's Eye View

My thirteen year old cat has been outside probably four times in her life except that she was possibly born outside; I've no way of knowing how her, her siblings, and her mother ended up at the pound where we adopted her from. She was outside once when we brought her home from the pound, twice when she's been to the vet (maybe a few more times than that but not many) and once when we moved to the home we're living in now. I ask you to not feel badly for her though. She has less than zero desire to go outside. She enjoys sitting on the window sill in the kitchen occasionally but she's never once attempted to get out of the house or even stand next to an open door.

I have a VERY skiddish kitty that is tremendously fond of routine, safety, and familiarity. In her old age she's also becoming fond of snuggles and curling up on my lap. She doesn't get snuggles as often as she would like or as often as she deserves since a three year old boy happens to inhabit the same house as her and she happens to be rather fearful of (or in the least, dislikes) him. Two days ago during the three year old's nap time I decided quite on a whim that I would take the cat in the back yard with me to snuggle for a short bit. It was the most beautiful of summer days, bright hot sun shining directly over head, fabulous deep greens everywhere to be seen from a wonderful amount of rainfall we've had this year, a gentle cooling breeze blowing through the air, and birds singing all around.

I carried her out to the lawn chair I had set up and sat her on my lap. At first she was frightened (although she has always found tremendous safety in my arms). My poor kitty noticed nothing except that she'd been brought to a horrifying new world, a place she'd never been with sounds she didn't like and smells she didn't know. She pressed her head onto my shoulder and gave out a few timid scared meows. I spoke calmly to her and pet her head and back while holding her close to me gently. She meowed a few more times before she began to feel the hot sun on her back and notice the gentle breeze on her whiskers. If you've ever seen an indoor cat sunning themselves on the warm light spot that's beaming in from a window then you realize how much she enjoyed feeling the hot sun on her fur. Before long she picked her head up off my shoulder and placed her two front feet on my leg so that she could look around and watch the birds flying around. She began to purr deeply and happily and looked every which way with wonder. She settled down on my lap, her very favorite thing to do while she continued to purr, watch the splendid sights in this new world, and rest quite peacefully.

My son and I have spent hours each day since spring time this year in the very same backyard doing yard work, watching and listening to the birds, playing with mud and water, collecting bugs and playing sports yet I can honestly say the back yard has never been so beautiful as it was in those few moments when it was a brand new world and my delighted little fur ball took in all the newness of it for the first time. Every day goes by and there's so much normal, generally, about each and every one that passes. Yet something so simple as a cat bird watching in the hot sun for the first time or a child eating a certain treat they've never eaten before or seeing a flower you've never noticed can make a moment so new, so worthwhile, so alive. I seek out these changes of scenery now a days; to be in the same spot I've spent countless hours in but to look at the world around me in a new way, I relish that.

Friday, July 17, 2015

I want to live how they used to

Growing up I lived in a nice middle class neighborhood right on the edge of a very wealthy part of town. Everyone in town knew that South Shore Dr. was where the mansions were. South shore drive runs right next to the lake shore (nice private beach front properties) and there are some fabulously elaborate and enormous houses there. Several CEO's, Dentists, Doctors, and state Representatives and Senators live along that road. My house was only a few blocks from South Shore Dr. and I had a paper route as a kid so that I had to deliver news papers to many of them (none of them tipped by the way).

Today on the radio I heard someone say, "I remember the days when you could tell who was the richest person in the neighborhood by who drove the crappiest car." She was commenting about how wealthy people, truly wealthy people used to be very wise with their money and they didn't spend it on things like fabulous cars and enormous houses. In fact the wealthiest people drove the ugliest cars. Hearing her say that brought to mind of when I was young and sometimes when it was pouring rain, or there was an enormous Sunday paper, or there was four feet of snow outside my mom would drive me on the route. I remember pointing out to her the biggest houses and the nicest cars and I would say something like, "wow, that person is sooo rich." Without fail she would always say, "No [inserting my entire name here] chances are they don't have any money at all." As a kid I did not get it. She tried to explain what she meant to me but I did not get it.

I get it now. More often than not, people who spend $200,000 on a car or $5million on a house probably don't have much money in the bank and in fact they probably are severely in debt. That's just the way it works now a days. The bigger your income the more debt you can rack up. The bigger your toys the more likely you have enormous amounts of debt. Obviously households are run this way, more often than not, businesses are run this way, cities are run this way, heck countries (mine included) are run this way. We LOVE our debt!

I'm sorry but where did we go wrong and when did this happen? I want to live how they used to. I want to be the person on the block with a nice small house and a comfortable older car who has money in the bank, money that I can give to charity, money that I can pass down to my child(ren), money that I can use in case of an emergency without borrowing. I want to own what belongs to me, not owe some banker man who lent me the cash to make the purchases. I'm not saying by any means that I want to collect and horde money and never spend it on things I will enjoy. But if I travel (and I will) I don't want to ever stay in the $20,000 a night penthouse sweet on the top floor of any hotel. I don't ever want to pay $300 for a meal out. I don't ever want to just waste money because I can.

I'm working to get there. It's taking a long time but I journeyed down a long road of debt and borrowing before I started to see the light. Someday. Every day we're a little closer to someday and I choose to smile about that.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Buns, Dirt, and Watermelon

Made sandwich rolls/ hamburger buns from scratch for the first time last night; LOVE THEM!!!
(and did not attempt to clean up the cooking mess for the photo)

Caption: Who needs a sandbox when you have a garden! Sunflower to the left, beans under the sunflower, tomato plants in front of the kid (did you even notice the kid?).

I've yet to photo document the growth of those two little watermelon seeds. Here they are so far.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.07

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Oh What a Mess

We've been spending LOADS of time outside enjoying the sunshine and the green green wonderfulness of summer but boy oh boy is this house a disaster! I'm having one of those moments where I want to just scoop everything in sight up and toss it. I would never do such a thing but I can't help dreaming of how fun and liberating it would be...

Then I'd have to figure out what to eat dinner on as all of our dishes would be gone.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.04

Monday, July 13, 2015

Free Fun

Every once in awhile I like to post about some sort of free fun we've found. I have no super creative fun tips for this post but boy oh boy did the little dude and I enjoy a weekend filled with free fun.

Friday evening we spent several hours in our backyard playing with the neighbor girl who's the same age as little Abe. After the two of them played together quite well for a very long time they decided that it would be a grand idea to start spraying me with water from these super neat squirt-ers that he got from the dollar store for a big helper reward. The things hold a good deal of water and pack a punch. Then I thought it'd be a grand idea to turn on the garden hose and start spraying the two of them. (I got permission from her dad) We spent the longest time spraying each other back and forth. They would run away screaming and then "sneak" back and attack me (I don't think it's possible for three year old to sneak). Needless to say we three ended the day thoroughly soaked to the bone, exhausted, and very satisfied with our evening of fun in the sun and water.

Saturday morning after a great nights sleep little Abe heard the neighbor girl outside again. She's only here on the weekends so he begged to head back out there to play again. They spent several hours playing together in the sun at his water table (and transferring water from his table to a bald spot in the backyard where they made a very impressive mud puddle). I spent the morning, close to three hours, sitting in a lawn chair and watching the two cuties playing together. I LOVE watching my son play with other kiddos. There's something that just amazes me about the interactions. At one point he told her that he loved her. I giggled and she just batted her eyes and said, "awe." He was thrilled with the "awe" and I had to laugh some more.

Saturday evening after his nap I called a friend to see if she had food processor I could use for the carrot pesto. My blender wasn't cutting it. She invited us over to use the food processor and we made plans to walk our kiddos to the playground. Pesto made and boys drumming session marked off we headed to the playground so the boys could play together. We ended the day again exhausted and very satisfied with our many wonderful interactions.

Sunday morning I asked my husband if he would go for a walk with me and our son. He FINALLY said yes. (I've been asking him almost every day for a week) Then he called his sister and his mom and invited them along. We left the house at 11:30, walked down to lake Michigan, strolled down the boardwalk and made it to the end of the pier before half of our group (his sister, mom, and nephew) realized they were beyond tired. At that point my mother in law offered to buy us all frozen yogurt I think in an attempt to encourage herself and the nine year old to make it back up the boardwalk. We stopped for frozen yogurt, her treat (although the bill was huge so we told her we'd pay her back our portion come Thursday), when we got back downtown.

It was a great walk! Good exercise. Pretty fun time with my hubby's family. An absolutely beautiful day! And my kid enjoyed every single minute of it. Despite the adults having sweat out almost every ounce of liquid in their bodies somebody (my husband) promised the kids they could go to the playground so once we finally made it back to the house my sister in law and I had to stop at the playground (only a few houses away from us) to let the kids play. We got back to the house at 3:30. We went for a four hour walk with only a frozen yogurt stop and a tiny stint at the playground. WOW!!!! To be honest, my husband and I usually do the same route in ninety minutes. It's amazing how much slower you walk when you've a hobbling mom in law in tow. I hope she's okay...

To sum it all up I spent $1.50 this weekend on a box of rice and a head of garlic so I could make the pesto. This weekend was jam packed with totally free fun, wonderful moments with friends and family, laughter, and LOTS of sunshine. It was the epitome of summer.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

PESTO! Weekend of Carrots

Carrot Top Pesto (to be precise)

One bunch of fresh carrot tops (the green leafy part)
1/4 cup of olive oil
The juice of one lemon
2 cloves of garlic
As many fresh leaves of basil as you'd like (I used 6 medium size leaves)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and grind to a paste. Now enjoy!

I mostly followed the recipe HERE for this carrot top pesto. I wouldn't run out searching for carrot tops in order to make this pesto but I'm very happy with how it turned out. I love that I was able to use all the carrot greens from the carrots I harvested Friday and I had some fun experimenting with new tastes this weekend. Yesterday I put the pesto onto pasta noodles with a little Parmesan cheese and sunflower seeds. It made for a very scrumptious dinner. And today I've just finished snacking on this English muffin that I warmed in the oven with the pesto and some cheddar cheese.

Might I say it again, and again, I absolutely LOVE gardening!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Carrot Banana Mini Muffins; Weekend of Carrots

In keeping with the carrot theme this weekend I took THIS carrot banana bread recipe and made mini muffins out of it. That mini muffin pan I bought in January has become a great investment. I make banana bread mini muffins in it all the time. My kiddo LOVES them and they only take 15 minutes to bake instead of the almost hour that banana bread takes. Plus I always feel inclined to smooth butter onto a fresh slice of banana bread but the muffins don't ever seem like they need a little dollop of butter on them. It's just a win, win, win.

These carrot banana bread muffins turned out pretty good too. They were a bit less sweet then I'd imagined they'd be so I pressed the tops of the warm muffins in a bowl of sugar. I am currently out of coconut oil (which I use in place of the vegetable oil called for) so I used unsweetened apple sauce instead of oil. It's really a great substitute for oil in muffins or sweet breads. At this point in my baking "career" I think I'm incapable of following any recipe to the letter. But the good news is that my treats have all been turning out really well despite my many alterations.

In other news, while keeping on the subject, I'd mentioned about two weeks ago that I was making a goal to not purchase sweet treats/ sweets in general but instead any yummy dessert-y type thing I enjoy would need to be homemade. The purpose of this goal was two fold, to ideally lower my spending while not picking up a box of ice cream bars or a bag of m'n'ms or anything of the sort and to lower my sugar intake. I'm also cooking with mostly all organic ingredients now and coconut oil instead of butter so any sweet treats we're indulging in at home are considerably healthier sweet treats too. I did purchase a snickers ice cream bar the other day while we were shopping for a big helper reward at the dollar store but other than that I've been completely successful with this goal for almost two weeks. It hasn't been as difficult to avoid buying sugary stuff as I'd thought and I'm also not making as many treats at home as I imagined I might end up making. Additionally little things like banana bread muffins are working quite well to satisfy my sweet tooth (I have a pretty aggressive sweet tooth; we're talking like saber-tooth tiger aggressive). I can't even remember the last time I had chocolate (other than the snickers ice cream bar) or ice cream. I'm really liking this goal!

Carrot Chips; Weekend of Carrots

Carrot Chips

Two or Three large carrots sliced very thin... the more even each slice, the better.
1 teaspoon of olive oil

If you lay the carrot slices out in single layer, sprinkle them with salt and let them sit for several minutes they should dry out a little in order to crisp up better.

Then toss the slices in olive oil (I used grapeseed oil), lay the slices in a single layer on parchment paper or a silpat (I sprinkled them with a tiny bit more salt) and bake at 375F for about 20 minutes. You'll need to watch them at the end to make sure they crisp up but don't burn.

The carrots shrink up a lot. Mine didn't all totally crisp but my slices were pretty uneven. Still they are very yummy. They actually taste a good deal like a potato chip. I will certainly be making these again, although it's a pretty labor intensive little treat cutting all those thin carrot slices.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I Love Carrot Greens; Weekend of Carrots

Two leaves of Romaine
One carrot chopped
One entire carrot top (the green stuff) chopped
Sunflower seeds
A drizzle of grape seed oil
One tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
a little bit of salt
a few (like 4 or 5) red grapes sliced
and Gorgonzola or blue cheese sprinkles

One perfectly healthy and absolutely delicious single serve salad

I absolutely LOVE this salad!!! And I can say that with the utmost sincerity because I've been eating it (or a slight variation) almost every day for several weeks. Carrot greens are said to be bitter and fibrous but very good for you. My little secret is that I really enjoy them. The acidity from the balsamic, the slightly sweet addition of the grapes, and the bite from the Gorgonzola cheese pair perfectly with the bitter green carrot top.  The crunch and nutty flavor from the sunflower seeds is a perfect addition. I chopped up four fresh basil leaves for this particular salad since I happen to have a basil plant sitting on my window sill and it added a wonderful perfume-y hint, not too overpowering, but perfectly complimentary. It's heavenly! I actually crave this salad now. Okay, you got me that is not Gorgonzola cheese sprinkled on top but it wasn't in the budget today and I ran out. I wasn't about to bust the budget just for the weekend of carrots. (fingers crossed anyway; I found a few recipes I'd love to try but don't have all the ingredients for... just say no, just say no, just say no, haha)

The Garden; Weekend of Carrots

I'm declaring this the weekend of carrots. I was hoping to eat two or three carrots a day (and we have been) until they were all picked. Yesterday I noticed these little rust colored beetles in the bin. I don't know if they'd harm the carrots or not but they killed my beautiful basil plant last summer so I didn't want to risk it. I pulled up about half of the carrots that were left and I'll probably pull the rest of them Sunday or Monday. Now to eating carrots! (These grew so well in the bin)

As for the rest of the garden my tomato plants have gotten huge and they are doing grand. There are little green roma tomatoes all over them. These little green beauties make me so happy.

There are three bean plants (that I didn't snap a photo of) that seem to be growing VERY slowly but they look good. And the two watermelon seeds I planted have sprouted and look really good, tiny, but good (also didn't take a photo). The watermelon seeds threw me for a loop. I planted two and one sprouted. The other did not, until at least two weeks later. Maybe it's our region, maybe it's watermelon but everyone I've talked to says they never had much luck with watermelon. What I hear from most people is, "I tried growing them one year." The two plants look good though so right now I am hopeful. Our strawberry bins are done producing but I know the u-pick strawberry places around here are done for the season too so my little guys had a very good run this year.

My sister in law, who I grew some tomato plants for grew some sunflowers from seed for me. She gave me eight plants and thanks to the neighborhood rabbits I have ONE left. I've never grown sunflower before and this plant makes me so happy. Now that it's made it to this grandiose size the rabbits are leaving it alone (Also I surrounded it with used coffee filters that I weighed down with coffee grounds. The rabbits have stayed away from it since the day I put the filters down. My theory was they wouldn't want to step on them and it seems I was right). 

Seeing this regal thing with such a hearty strong stem and large course leaves that grew from the tiny little sprout she gave me is just, hm, in a way it's miraculous. I can't wait for the flower to open either. It's going to be SO big. I imagine it's very much a novice of a gardener type thing but I truly love looking out the kitchen widow at different times of the day and seeing the sunflower tilted and bending this way or that depending on where the sun is in the sky, attempting to soak up as many of the radiant beams of light that it can get on the top of it's sunflower head. Makes me smile every single day.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.11

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Debt, Debt Reduction, Positive Thinking

This year I've been trying so hard to spend wisely, chase sales, pinch pennies, and just not spend money on anything except for essentials. I have been struggling a lot to balance the budget each month. The credit card debt really does not seem to be going down BUT sometimes you have to push the day to day picture out of your mind. I've been letting it really get me down (I think about money/ money is on my mind WAY too often). In reality we are on track to pay off over $10,000 in total debt this year.

Our highest debt payoff year was 2011, when I started this blog. I paid off $9000 that year. In an odd turn of events I got pregnant that year as well. In 2012 we went considerably further into debt upon welcoming our amazing son into the world (hospital bills, unpaid maternity leave, and my husband can't cook/ I didn't cook or grocery shop for quite awhile after the baby came (I fractured my tail bone during delivery)). 2012 was the best year and one of the worst financial years at the same time. Since then we haven't made it much over $5000 in total debt pay off during one years time span.

In other words $10,000 in debt payoff in one year is HUGE for us. Here I am getting frustrated about income and out go and how slowly the credit cards are going down and truly I should be very proud of the progress we are making this year. And I am. I'm really excited about that $10,000 mark, REALLY excited. Our highest total debt was $147,000 in January of 2010. That included the mortgage, any car loans, and credit card debt; ALL debt. We started off this year $130,000 in debt. We should be under $120,000 in debt by January 1st of 2016.

We've a long way to go. Between becoming credit card debt free, building a real savings account (3 to 6 months of expenses), and retirement... we've a LONG way to go. But right now I am going to choose to be really, really, really happy about $10,000 of debt being gone in one year. The debt IS going down. I get all the bills paid every month. We eat good (and don't eat out anymore... at least me and little Abe don't). I enjoy cooking at home and baking lots of new things and gardening. I really enjoy gardening. This is a good year!

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.24

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

And Black Ninjas

I'm pretty sure I discuss money with the kiddo several times a week. I never say we're poor or short on money or anything of the sort. I never imply that we're lacking in anything. Despite not being able to buy some things I'd love to splurge on, I know that we are VERY blessed and we already have far more than is truly necessary. I do however mention on a fairly regular basis that an item is "expensive" and that we need to be respectful of that. For example, when he feeds our dogs organic graham crackers. We buy very good food for our dogs they DO NOT need organic graham crackers too!

Last night as my husband was heading off to work little Abe started to fuss and say, "I don't want daddy to go to work." This is a normal occurrence especially when the situation involves mommy leaving for work. I always tell him that mommy and daddy have to go to work in order to make money to buy things we need or want.

Last night I explained to him (again) that we have to pay money for the water that comes out of the sink (and so forth), we have to pay to have lights on in the house and we even have to pay for the house, and for the cars. And, as he fully knows, we have to pay money for the food we eat. He felt the need to add with the utmost emphasis and gusto, "AND black ninjas!"

"Exactly honey, mommy and daddy have to go to work to make money to pay for ninjas."

The ninjas are from the quarter machine at the dollar store. He gets one every time we go there (unless we forget to bring a quarter). They are truly a (silly) highlight to his little three year old life. It makes me giggle every time he says it but hey, I'm glad to know he has his priorities straight.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.14

Sunday, July 5, 2015

June Numbers Are In

I FINALLY got my June numbers added up, well sort of, and at least what numbers I could track down. It's not pretty!

Average daily spending for June: $21.43

$13.71 a day on Groceries. Total $315.33
$2 a day on Clothing. Total $45.89
34 cents a day on Toiletries. Total $7.50
10 cents a day on Garden. Total $2.49
$1.55 a day on Food out. Total $35.65
40 cents a day on Cleaning. Total $9.34
$1.23 a day on Pets. Total $28.42
$2.10 a day on Stuff. Total $48.33

I promise you I did not bow off the radar for a whole week and blow copious amounts of money but I did manage to loose track of my spending for an entire week. I get really frustrated when I do that too because chances are there was a no spend day and possible $2-ish type spending days somewhere in that week that could have actually helped my spending average but I cannot find receipts to fully calculate any of those days. When I lose track of a day I take it out of the average. So let's say I lost track of 21 days for 2015, I would calculate my average for the year based on 344 days not 365. That makes my financial month of June only 23 days long this year, at least for my average daily spending calculation. I haven't lost track of any days up until now. Blah!

Well June is over.

I'm hopeful for July. The Tennessee contract has been signed. I'm looking forward to keeping up my half, not buying anything but groceries, not going out to eat, or picking food up from anywhere. Ideally the contract will get us on track for the vacation in August but also will keep spending down a lot.

So far I broke the contract once when I picked up two markers and a piece of poster board for $2.10 to make the family tree drawing for my Grandpa. My husband broke it once to get himself ice cream from an ice cream shop yesterday for $4.02. At least the confession box portion of the contract is feeling important now.

Average daily spending for 2015: $18.34

Grr, I'm having a very difficult time shaking that $18 range for very long. I really want to keep it under $18 a day.

Seems I left someone out of the family tree

Yesterday I gave my 90 year old Grandpa the tree I drew for him. He was really impressed. I think I might have been even more impressed by his appreciation.

My Grandpa has been a man of VERY few words for the 35 years I've known him. Having been married to my Grandma for the majority of his life he never had much opportunity to talk; she'd always done the talking and on the rare occasion that she wasn't talking one of their eight children certainly was. I remember at her funeral, while thanking everyone for attending he actually made the comment that he was going to have to learn how to talk with people now. I gave him the drawing yesterday and he read every name, he followed each branch and was so impressed seeing his enormous family spread out before him on paper. He kept saying, "great, you got everyone on here!"

I included the scripture from Psalm 127: Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. He made everyone laugh so hard while he was reading the scripture and joked, "Yes, babies kind of are like arrows, their heads are so pointy when they first come out." He then looked around at everyone conversing and playing and swimming in the pool and he said, "oh my, my quiver is REALLY full."

After a little while he asked why my mom wasn't on the tree (this is my dad's dad I'm talking about). My parents have been divorced for 25 years. My dad remarried had two more children and has since been divorced a second time. I wasn't really sure how to answer his question. I don't even remember what I said, I mean I was pretty dumbfounded. My aunt later came up to me and said that my grandpa would really like it if I put my mom on the tree. She said that he asks about my mom all the time and that he's always really considered her a part of the family. My dad heard all that was going on and told me that I should really put my mom on the tree. It wasn't all dramatic or anything; I feel like I might be making it sound dramatic. I later asked my Grandpa if he would like me to add her to the tree (even though it didn't make a ton of sense to me since my parent's aren't married). He was so cute, he acted like it was my idea and said, "oh, it's okay, yeah, that would be a good idea."

I don't think I have words to express how touched I am by my Grandpa's heart. Twenty five years later, my Grandpa still considers my mom his daughter in law. If that's not a pure heart I don't know what is.

My 90 year old grandpa and my cousin, throwing balls for
my little brother to catch while he was jumping off the diving board

Friday, July 3, 2015

Quick Run Through of Random What's Going in My Head

Lemon bars in the oven; I've yet to purchase a sweet treat, as planned in my most recent goals. I've never made lemon bars before so this is another added recipe for the baking tally. On the goals front I did paint the stucco already (mostly) so I've been able to add a second goal to the home category.

I'm making a list in my head of what needs to be done before little Abe and I drive across state tomorrow for an overnighter for my dad's side of the family's big Fourth bash. My husband has to work. I don't ever take my kid on overnighters. This is going to either be very "interesting" or very fun. (Apart from possible gasoline costs this sort of trip costs nothing because we can stay with family and eat with family (and I'll pack snacks))

After years of planning to draw a family tree for my paternal Grandpa (he's my last living grandparent) I've FINALLY accomplished the task, except for the empty leaves and hearts that I'm waiting for correct spelling on. I'm sort of in love with family trees. This one for example, has my grandparents on the trunk and branches out to all of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Just looking at how two people have enriched the world with (I thinking I'm counting correctly) 37 lives is mind blowing to me. The hearts on the tree are people who've been adopted into the family. Seeing as I have been wanting to adopt kids ever since I was a kid I love that there are four hearts on this tree.

I wish I had updated financial info for you. I haven't even tallied June's spending yet. But I'm mostly looking forward to the weekend festivities and I don't intend to post (or tally) my June numbers before then.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and July 4th! May the fireworks not be too stressful (sorry that's a personal problem of min).