Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Looking Up

Last night we accomplished another May goal, to lay out and look at the stars. We went out right after dark so more and more stars slowly appeared as we lay there. Little Abe learned that the "stars" that were moving were actually far away air planes. (there are a lot of airplanes flying around at night)

Shortly before heading in we both saw a shooting star. I'm always thrilled to see one and it was great to see one with my little buddy. He turns to me and says, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" I had to giggle (I do every time he uses that phrase). "I'm not sure. What are you thinking?" He replied, "I'm thinking we need to do this EVERY night!" Such a big smile on such a little guy's face.

In other looking up news, I spooked the mama Robin yesterday when I took the lawn mower  out of the garage which gave me just enough a window to grab my camera and check in on the nest. I have not been in there to check it since that first photo I posted because those Robin's are really top notch parents. They never leave that nest alone. Little Abe and I even camped out in the driveway for several hours one day waiting for a peek. Every time one of the two parents would fly in the other would fly out. They'd never leave the nest alone. I really didn't think I'd get another peek at it so this slightly blurry photo is like gold for me.

It's blurry because I had to stand on a ladder holding the camera over my head and the camera focused on the post instead of the nest. I was in a hurry to get out since I knew momma would be back any second. I didn't get anywhere near the nest really.

It turns out mama Robin laid three eggs. Robins are said to lay one egg a day (up to four eggs) and then the babies hatch one a day. This darling nest has two brand new babies and one unhatched egg. You can almost see that one of the babies is beak open facing upwards waiting for food, the other is newly hatched just laying there exhausted from the egg breaking struggle, and the third is almost certainly now emerged from that gorgeous blue shell (as I took this photo yesterday).

So much fun up, up, and away in the great outdoors!

Monday, May 30, 2016

May Numbers are in

Closing out April my average daily spending for the year was at $19.08. It's now down to $18.15 a day with an average daily spending in May of $14.53. Essentially I spent $4.55 a day less in May then I have the other 121 days of this year. 

While I had set a budget of $448 for the month, was trying really hard to stay within that, and thought I had, I'm pretty terrible with math and somewhere along the way missed something. I'm actually $2.41 over budget. The math doesn't lie so I'm over budget in reality but as far as I'm concerned I made budget this month. (I know, cheater cheater; I don't care. I'm extremely happy with where I landed).

Mission accomplished in May!
Average Daily Spending for May: $14.53

Groceries $320.74: that's an average of $10.35 a day
Food out $9.73: that's an average of 31 cents a day
Pets $27.55: that's an average of 89 cents a day
Stuff $7.60: that's an average of 24 cents a day
Toiletries $44.86: that's an average of $1.45 a day
Gifts $23.86: that's an average of 77 cents a day
Cleaning $3.54: that's an average of 11 cents a day
Garden $12.53: avg. 40 cents a day

Average Daily Spending for 2016: $18.15

REALLY looking forward to June, growth, and change


May 2016 Total: $450.41                 Goal $448
Cash spent $10    5.31
NO SPEND day 50    5.30
Groceries $16.26    5.29
NO SPEND day 49    5.28
NO SPEND day 48    5.27
NO SPEND day 47    5.26
Groceries $14.33 5.25
Groceries $19.38 5.24
Laundry detergent $3.54    5.23
NO SPEND day 46    5.22
NO SPEND day 45    5.21
Groceries $29.69 5.20
NO SPEND day 44    5.19
Groceries $27.52 5.18
NO SPEND day 43    5.17
NO SPEND day 42    5.16
NO SPEND day 41    5.15
Groceries $34.29 5.14
NO SPEND day 40    5.13
Two books for Abe $7.60    5.12
Lunch $3.50    5.12
Groceries $28.64 5.11
NO SPEND day 39    5.10
NO SPEND day 38    5.9
NO SPEND day 37    5.8
Garden soil $12.53    5.7
Dog food $27.55    5.7
Groceries $55.37    5.6
Toilet paper $25.61    5.6
Toiletries $19.25    5.6
Gifts $23.86    5.6
Groceries $13.67     5.5
Ice Cream $6.23    5.5
Groceries $17.97    5.4
Groceries $3.77    5.3
Groceries $41.50    5.2
Groceries $8.35    5.1

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reviewing May Goals Two Days Out

Out of the Ordinary to-do list for May for a pop of color

  1. Make paella (per my husband's request; I've never even eaten paella) I'm going to move this one to next month.
  2. Root through wardrobe. pt.1   Done. Yay!
  3. Get rid of a few things. pt.2 I brought seven things to Goodwill. One was a bridesmaid dress so I feel accomplished with this goal.
  4. Wear something I haven't worn in a long while. pt.3 This is not going to be happening. I don't have anything I haven't worn in a long while that actually still fits.
  5. Go on a long walk. It was more of a meander but the three of us went on a long walk together. Done.
  6. Enjoy a bonfire  Yippee!
  7. Find my straggler gift cards and use them (I know I have two different ones). I keep looking forward to this and just not getting around to it. Maybe this will be a mission for Tuesday.
  8. Re-purpose something in the house. Hmm, not sure what I was thinking.
  9. Lay out and look at the stars with my buddy (if there's a warm enough evening). We weren't out there for a super long time but it was so fun and we saw a shooting star. Little Abe was very impressed.
  10. Make something to give to someone. I sorted of cheated with this one. I had two extra tomato plants that I grew and I gave them to my neighbor. That counts, right?
  11. Call my dad. I am cheating with this one too. I did not call my dad but my brother had us all over this evening and my dad was there. Seeing him at some point this month was my intention behind the "call" so I think this goal was accomplished.
  12. Learn one phrase in Spanish each week (with little Abe). We worked on a phrase the first week but then I kind of forgot to add new ones.
  13. Bake some sort of new dessert with fruit. I baked an apple crumble recipe that I'd never tried and a banana cake with strawberry glaze. Totally accomplished this goal.
  14. Go into a store that I've never been in. (this one already feels weird... can you tell I'm NOT a shopper) I can probably do this on Tuesday while I'm embarking upon the gift card mission.
  15. Draw something. I can totally do this tomorrow. Like the walk, I should have had this done by now.
  16. Listen to music and dance. Little Abe and I did this awhile ago. It was fun (always is; should be on the to-do list all the time)
  17. Try and be girly for one whole day. (this one already feels weird too) I've thought about being girly for one whole day several times. This goal is proving to be challenging not because I'm a TOTAL tomboy but because I'm not sure how I want to define "girly" in order to accomplish it.
  18. Gosh darn it, try and do something thoughtful for all the birthday peeps this month! I failed on this one and it really upsets me because this is something I want to be really good at. I wrote four different people's names down on my calendar that I wanted to mail b-day cards to and I didn't send any. I have my niece and nephew their birthday gifts super late. Gah! Why is this so hard when it really is important to me.
  19. Tell stories with little Abe (like on the fly, made up stories. He loved this last time I did it) We need to do this tonight before bed (ideally while we're laying out looking at the stars)
  20. Take a Thursday off work and go watch little Abe at swimming lessons. I blogged about this the other day. I sort of accomplished this one... butt there was poop involved.
  21. Day trip, visit a neighboring town with hubby and Abe. There was a festival/ carnival in a close neighboring town and we stopped there for the morning. It was tons of fun.
  22. Listen to nature. We listen to nature a lot but one day we sat out in the backyard and took turns closing our eyes and then saying one thing we heard. It was so entertaining. The sounds of the city combined with nature are so intriguing. 

Average daily spending for 2016: $18.31
$10.59 left in May's budget (2 days)

I lucked out on this month's spending. My dad gave me birthday money today (very, very late; I haven't seen him since Christmas (and was not expecting a birthday card)) so I have $40 to spend out of budget. No, that is not cheating. That is called being very fortunate, lucky, blessed. Whatever it's called, it's a gift and I can spend it on whatever I want without counting it in the daily spending. Woohoo!!!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

You know those, "woke up on the wrong side of the bed days?" The weather today was perfect. I still have several days of vacation ahead of me. Little Abe and I have been having loads of fun together these past few days but today I woke up angry and the little black rain cloud never lifted. I was too grouchy to do much of anything outside. I was too grouchy to enjoy much of anything inside. I was way too grouchy to go grocery shopping (although we did run to the library). Today was a super duper OFF day.

Good news: today was another no spend. We ate sandwiches all day today and are actually all perfectly content (food wise). This evening's sandwiches (and sides) were part of an informal wedding social at the marina for a cousin. I guess it was nice to get out of the house... yeah no, not really. I just need to go to bed, probably drink tons of water first or take a vitamin or something, and wake up on the other side (not physically possible since my bed is next to a wall but you know what I mean).


Average daily spending for 2016: $18.32
$26.85 left in May's budget (3 days)

Friday, May 27, 2016


First time he's found a toad

After about an hour of running around with a toad in his hands I let my son eat a snack pack of mini oreos without washing his hands.

The little guy actually hopped away unscathed

Today ended up being an accidental no spend day. Accidental because I had planned to run to the store for a few things. We ended up being so busy all day long that it just didn't happen and we didn't stop anywhere for unplanned spending either (despite driving around quite a lot). Win, win, win! 

Average daily spending for 2016: $18.44
$26.85 Left in May's budget (4 days)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Accomplishing Goals

20. Take a Thursday off work and go watch little Abe at swimming lessons.
My husband and son left for swimming lessons as usual. I went separately so that I could surprise little Abe. He's gone through three different levels of swimming lessons (this is his fourth) and I've only gone once. He was really surprised and excited the last time I went.

As I was driving up (about five minutes after lessons should have started) I saw my husband and son walking out of the building. Hmmm... quizzical look all over my face, I can't stop wondering what is going on. I put in a vacation request three weeks early, took a day off of work specifically to go watch my son swim, and drum roll please... some kid decided it'd be a good day to use the side of the pool as a potty. I guess it was pretty messy and they had to close down the pool. Go figure. What are the chances? Haha!

Okay so maybe I need to change goal #20 to: Take a photo of little Abe at the Y with his swimming ribbon (from November). Yeah, I didn't need to take a day off of work for that but I can mark that one off today and I've been meaning to do that for the past six months.

I accomplished one more goal yesterday and one today. 

2. Root through wardrobe. pt.1
3. Get rid of a few things. pt.2

Last night I went through my wardrobe (well my closet anyhow) and came to a horrible realization. I have no clothes. I think somewhere in my subconscious I already realized this but it is now official. My closet is quite small but it has two sides. I put all the clothes that I absolutely needed to keep BUT that no longer fit me (genuinely for sentimental reasons (I know, wrong)) on one side. I took out some clothes that are hideous, like I actually wore them in high school and probably shouldn't have worn them even then. I parted with some things that are way too small and that if I'm being honest I will almost certainly never fit into again. Plus, it's been said that those "too small" clothes mock you every time you look in your closet. I think there's a lot of truth to that. And I removed a really fancy lilac bride's maid dress from over ten years ago. There's no way I will ever wear that again. 

What I was left with on the side with "clothes that fit" were four shirts, two dresses, and a ton of empty hangers (I hate wearing dresses). One of the shirts I don't like very much and one is actually way too big. That leaves me with a total of TWO decent non-t-shirts. No wonder I HATE getting dressed for things like weddings or church. I just don't own any clothes. I mean, it kind of looked like I did before I took all the stuff I don't wear out but nope, I don't.

For the record I am a through and through, all the way, no questions asked t-shirts and blue jeans girl. I have a decent amount of t-shirts so I'm not going to be going around naked or wearing one of four shirts from my closet but as of now my closet is basically empty. The clothes that don't fit and the bridesmaid dress are now at goodwill. Two more goals are marked off and, well, I probably ought to suck it up and buy myself an outfit come June. Maybe I should just stop accomplishing goals too. These past three didn't turn out the way I'd hoped.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Now begins a five day vacation! Yay! It's going to be a staycation but as much as I LOVE to travel I'm a serious homebody who relishes having time off of work to just hang around at home. Plus I'll get to accomplish another goal on my May to-do list.

20. Take a Thursday off work and go watch little Abe at swimming lessons.

That's specifically why I put in a vacation day for tomorrow and I figured I should just go ahead and take Friday off too but I'd forgotten when I originally planned my mini-vacation that Monday is Memorial day. Yes, I'm really on top of things. Now: five day vacation : )

Back to spending... I splurged today (a little). Work started out... hmm... annoying... frustrating... I had to buy a Twix (candybar) at my first break and that ruined the planned no spend day so of course then I needed to pick up groceries on the way out of the store. I'd came about as close as you can get to picking up a four pack of mocha frapp's on sale for $4.99. But I couldn't justify $5 for a few little jars of coffee. I did talk myself into picking up half and half and hershey's syrup so that I could make an iced mocha when I got home. That was the splurge. $1.49 for the half and half and $2.39 for the syrup. That $3.88 total is pretty close to the $4.99 for the four pack of mochas BUT I could use those supplies to make gallons of iced mocha instead of those four little jars so I'm considering it a splurge/ win. (I know, I've practically perfected odd rambles).

I did in fact make an iced mocha as soon as I arrived home from work and despite the sentimental attachment I have to those little glass jars of Starbucks mocha my at home version was better. Maybe it's all in my head but I really enjoyed it more. I'd say it was the perfect way to start my vacation.

I'm now embarking upon a five day vacation with very little money left in the budget for the month, a huge snickers blizzard craving, and lets be frank, not a lot of food in the house (but I have mocha). Guns blazing, I'm still in this!

Average daily spending for 2016: $18.60
$26.85 left in May's budget (5 days (if I spend nothing tomorrow; that's the plan))

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Watering the lawn while my child has the time of his life. That's multitasking (and free fun).

Little Abe: "I didn't like this last year. But it's so much fun now that I'm six years old! Yay!!!"
<he goes running back towards the sprinkler>
Me: "Honey, you're only four years old."
Little Abe <stops>: "Haha, oh yeah." <runs back towards the sprinkler>

He really thinks he's much older than he is and he did not like running through the sprinkler last year.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Spending Ramble

Today we were in need of laundry detergent (go figure; I run out of my stockpile right when I'm trying to spend next to nothing). I could have (probably should have) bought apple juice and milk but I only picked up the detergent. Luckily I had a $2 off coupon for it. I have some free meat coupons to use because I got a bad package of meat and called the company. I'll use those tomorrow and we can eat something like tacos or chili (my husband's two favorite meals). I picked up a super inexpensive pork loin and made stew (also quickly becoming a favorite of the hubby) over the weekend and it lasted for a few days. I'm going to keep a look out for another inexpensive cut of meat and make another batch. We have the carrots, potatoes, onion, and peas already and I make the stock from whatever meat I'm using. I'll just need a few more veggies and a head of garlic for that.

So far it looks like I'll be able to FINALLY hit my budgeted month's spending (for the first time this year). I mean I'm going to have to stick to my guns but I figured that with extra planning and determination I could do this. The two things that have been the biggest struggle these past few days are, A.) It finally warmed up and I have for years had this horrible ice cream addiction whenever the temps get anywhere above 75. For the past few days I've SOOOO wanted to drive over to the little ice cream shop and get a snickers flurry/ blizzard/ whatever it's called in your part of the world. I'm proud of myself for refraining but gosh the craving is awful. I'm now telling myself that I can get one in June. That's only a few days away. It's not like I'm avoiding ice cream or flurries for ever but right now that kind of treat is not in the budget. I could buy ice cream and make a flurry at home but that's not the same as soft serve from the ice cream shop and we try to not have ice cream in the house because we eat the whole carton so quickly anytime that we do. It'll just have to wait until June.

And B.) There is a toy that I really want to buy little Abe. I did almost buy it today but it's like $18 and he certainly doesn't need any more toys. It's just something that he wants and wouldn't you know that right when I'm buckling down and trying to spend less suddenly I feel this intense need to buy my son a new toy. You see that little devil, little angel me arguing back and forth on my shoulders?
"But it'd make him so happy."
"But you can get it for him later, he doesn't need it anyway."
"There's no point waiting, really, just pick it up now."
And so on and so forth. Ah, self control and restraint how I loathe thee!

So far so good.

Average daily spending for 2016: $18.72
$60.56 left in May's budget (8 days)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Flowers, Sunday, and Cake

Yesterday's gorgeous weather seems to have invoked flowers. The first bloom on the wild rose bush and the first gloriously orange poppy in our yard both opened today.

The little buddy and I spent even more time out of doors today than we did yesterday and the both of us enjoyed every minute of it. Lawn mowing, grass clipping, LOTS of water activities, bird watching, dog chasing, sunshine, sunshine, iced coffee and lounging! This weekend does NOT have to end. 

Oh, and cake! I had a banana I needed to use. Normally I'd make a half batch of mini banana muffins but I wanted to try something new so I baked a tiny banana cake with impromptu strawberry glaze. (I'm starting to use the word impromptu for anytime I bake or cook something without a recipe) Strawberry banana cake! That's how you rock a no spend day (#46 for the year). 

This was an absolutely perfect Sunday. Again, can this weekend PLEASE not end? 

Average daily spending for 2016: $18.83
$64.10 left in May's budget

Candles make any cake more special.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Perfect Saturday

Today is one of the most beautiful days of the year. There's an invigorating warmth in the bright vibrant sunshine that's been overhead since morning and there's also a chill in the air. The birds seems to be having an all day fiesta. The sparrows are practically dancing as they serenade the neighborhood with their giggling chatter. Little Abe played outside with the neighbor girl for three hours this morning while black birds frolicked in the distance and I sat (mostly) in my lawn chair.

Pardon me but I think this particular weekend was intended for doing nothing, absolutely, completely and totally nothing. I shall now resume that course and head back outdoors for more sun.

Average daily spending for 2016: $18.83
$64.10 left in May's budget (9 days (If I spend nothing tomorrow))

Friday, May 20, 2016

A rickety garage and its beautiful blue gems

Did you know that the American Robin is Michigan's state bird? Don't ask me why any particular state should have a state bird but ours is the American Robin. This bird with its bright orange chest is known throughout North America as a sign of spring. The American Robin and the European Robin are entirely different birds. It just so happens that way back when, a long, long time ago when some of the first Europeans journeyed to this incredible continent they saw the American Robin and it's red (orange) chest reminded them so much of the European Robin that they decided to call this "new" bird by the same name. The name has obviously stuck and so the world has two entirely different Robins.

The American Robin, being Michigan's State bird is a bird I have the pleasure of viewing in my yard daily. In my mind everyone in the world sees at least one Robin per day although I know that's not true. One of my favorite things about the great outdoors is listening to and watching all the feathered beauties that fly too and fro from morning to night. I'm in awe of the way in which birds communicate with spectacular song. They are such hard workers and yet if you sit and watch birds for awhile they seem to be playing and at least enjoying a large portion of each day. With their light frames and delicate feathers it's amazing that any bird ever manages to survive but survive they do. And they thrive.

We left the garage door open not much more than a week ago. The very next day I saw a Robin fly in and out again. A very short while longer I noticed the Robin return with twigs in it's mouth. Our garage is such a rickety old structure. It actually has a pretty significant lean to the East. We use it only to store our bikes, lawn tools, and the mower. It's also a wonderful spider habitat (yuck!). I realize I should have probably put a stop to this nest making project the minute I saw it begin but in truth I felt a bit honored that it chose our rickety little mess to make it's home.

I had to stand on a ladder and hold the camera up really high to get a photo of the eggs in there.

These delicate creatures do what it takes. It doesn't matter if life presents them with a leaky leaning garage. A bird will utilize that diamond in the ruff for it's needs no matter. I like to think that the Robins currently inhabiting a rafter on the roof of my tiny garage are quite proud of themselves for such a secluded spectacular find. They have certainly deposited the most beautiful blue gems within our rafters that our garage has ever or will ever see.

I'd like to learn a lesson from these two determined birds. We (I) tend to fret and worry, plan and plan, and make the biggest to-do about ultimately meaningless things. Sometimes (actually a good portion of the time) I'd like to just be like the birds, look at what life has to offer, make the most of it, and have a good bit of fun along the way. Often times it does no good to go on anxious about things that are out of our control anyhow.

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Matthew 6:26

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Spending... Grr... Goals

It's May. (I know, captain obvious) My average daily spending for last year was $17.94 a day. I achieved my goal last year and came in under $18 a day like I'd hoped. I'm pretty proud of the accomplishment. I set this year's goal at under $17 a day.

It's May (yeah, there I go again). I have yet to meet budget for ONE single month this year. Not one! In other words I've gone over my set budget every single month this year. Currently the average daily spending is at $19.04 a day. My goal for this month's spending is $448. There are twelve days left in the month and I'm at $357 already. That leaves $91 in my goal budget for the next twelve days ($7.58 a day).

Considering that I've spent an average of $19.04 a day this year, $7.58 a day for almost two weeks is going to be rough but I'm going for it. I really need to start hitting my monthly budget goals again, if not at least for morale for the bank account too.

Let the countdown begin!
Average daily spending for 2016: $19.04
$90.79 left in May's budget (12 days)

No Spend... I mean, No Jimmy John's Day

Yesterday I was craving a Jimmy John's sandwich something fierce. (this is not a sponsored post. I've never had a sponsored post) Yesterday was a planned no spend day which I'm in desperate need of because my spending is out of control this year. I cannot remember the last time I had a Jimmy John's sub but I came SO close to driving over there and getting one for me and one for little Abe (my hubby was sleeping).

I came to my senses and decided that I ought to nix the no spend day and go to the grocery store rather than give into my craving and head to Jimmy John's. Little Abe and I trucked over there just for sub fixings. Of course we came away with more then just sub stuff but it was a little win none the less. I would have spent about $12.49 at Jimmy John's on just sandwiches for me and the kiddo. Instead I spent $9.05 on sandwich fixings, enough for five or six really yummy big subs.

Lettuce $1.19
Tomato 37 cents
One pound ham $4.99
Six pack sub buns $2.50
We had all the condiments and TONS of cheese at home

It would not have been a catastrophe if I broke down and went to the sub shop for dinner. But you know what, I'm really happy that I didn't.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


It's been really cold here. It's Michigan. I know you can never tell what the weather will be but it's been really cold here. Three days ago it actually snowed. I've had these little tomato plants on my kitchen window sill for days that I need to get into the ground. I've hardened them off and their roots are getting too big for their egg cartons but the weather forecast keeps showing nighttime temps in the 30s. It's starting to drive me crazy.

The weather forecast finally showed 40 for last night and then it went up, up, up from then on. I took the plunge and we put the plants in the ground yesterday. I think it got colder then 40 last night but they look great this morning. (we are past the frost date for our area but at this point I'm not sure that means anything)

I put the one surviving Bidwell Casaba melon plant in the back bed as well (I had three). I had less hope for that surviving the cold temps then the tomatoes but it looks great this morning. I think I've got a keeper. I'm starting one more seed of that so the plants will be several weeks apart with growth. I will just see how both do.

Let the gardening begin! Carrots, Spinach, Tomatoes, Melon, Strawberries... Beans, Sunflower, and Pumpkin to come. Don't tell me you can't garden in a little city lot with limited space for garden beds. Woohoo!!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Comparison is the Death of Joy

We've seen some relatively young individuals going through some really rough times as of late. Specifically, a young thirty something friend of my husband's recently had emergency brain surgery. This individual was the bass player in my husband's longest running band and thus is a pretty good friend of his. The surgery landed our friend in the ICU for two months this year. Very thankfully he pulled through a really rough patch and is doing quite well. After several weeks at a rehabilitation center he is home with his family now and progressing well.

While this friend was in ICU my husband decided that he wanted to organize a benefit concert for him, get local bands together and take donations to raise funds for medical expenses, loss of income, and to show support for him. Nine local bands gathered yesterday for seven hours of loud rock music. I can't say, in all my years of concert going that I've ever seen such a good line up. Every band sounded and performed top notch. The concert goers had a great time. Almost $2000 was raised. My husband promoted with posters, a small local radio station spot, he had a banner made (donated), and t-shirts designed and printed for the event. I'm so incredibly proud of my husband for putting so much heart, so much effort, so much energy, and so much of himself into this event (he's never organized anything (except a surprise birthday party for me) before).

During the organization process someone fairly close to my husband, who was trying to poke at him and knock him down a notch made the comment that he didn't understand why my husband was putting so much energy into this event when, "bad things happen to people all over the place all the time." This statement did what it was intended to do and caused my husband to doubt for a little while. I don't remember how exactly he posed the question to me but it was something like, "do you think it's wrong that I want so badly to make this event great for him when people are struggling all over?"

Comparison is the death of Joy
-Mark Twain

We live such short and often futile lives. Each of our existences are a tiny exhale in the grand scope of living. The people we touch and the joy we bring to the world are much of what make that tiny exhale meaningful. Comparison makes that exhale as if it never was. As if we were nothing, just the same as anything that ever was, ever will be, or will drive a person insane while trying to be different, bigger, better, more... Mark Twain was right and I'm VERY proud of my husband for stopping to make a little difference.

The man with all the hair is mine :)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saturday Pie

Impromptu, no recipe, bottomless mini apple pie... now this rainy, seriously cold!!! Saturday feels complete. (I have serious food issues) I feel like a real baker!

I hope everyone in the blogosphere is warmer then we are and that you're all having a lovely Saturday.

Modern Conveniences?

There seem to be a lot of shows on air these days about people living on the edge of the world; people living in the wilderness who spend almost every waking moment of their day preparing. It's how life used to be. People had to hunt and fish and prep for cold, ect; to get by for practically forever until our only fairly new modern times. And now these rugged homesteading survivalists choose to live in the middle of nowhere and work, work, work, toilsome endless work just to exist.

I'm not one of the people who think they're too extreme or wonder what madness has overtaken them that they'd choose such a lifestyle. I'm a sympathizer, completely fascinated by their tenacity and passion and something deep within my bones yearns for that anything but simple "simple" lifestyle. But I know most people think they're crazy or foolish or any number of "what is wrong with them" thoughts. Why do they do it? Why do they live in the wilderness, on a homestead, or hardly surviving in the arctic?

I'm curious what your thoughts are on the subject: Why do you think they choose a very difficult somewhat secluded lifestyle of incredibly hard work when everything in their lives could be made so much easier by modern conveniences?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

This Doesn't Have a Title

Life is such a roller coaster. And as much as I love a good long day spent at a hot amusement park I really don't enjoy roller coasters all that much. The ups, the downs, the suspense, the terror, the neck jerking twists and turns; knowing that there's an adrenaline filled drop at the edge of the hill you've been slowing climbing, all the while listening to that ear assaulting clicking of the chain, ugh! Give me a nice long sit at the edge of a pond, please!

But the ups and downs and crazy twists and turns are part of what makes a nice long sit at the edge of a pond so incredibly delightful. Life is vibrant and wild and depressing and dull and fast and slow and... well so far so good.

We've been invited to a bonfire this evening on one of the nicest days of the month thus far. A perfectly lovely time awaits us four adults and three kiddos. I will finally be able to mark something off this month's to-do list: 6. Enjoy a bonfire.  (yes, it's been a bit crazy around here lately) And it couldn't have come at a better time. Hooray for good friends and really great people!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Can We Bring the Holidays Down a Notch? NO!

Shortly after St. Patrick's day a friend posted a link on facebook to a Huffington Post article. I read the article and my emotions went through the roof. I couldn't disagree more with the writer. I refrained from commenting on my friend's link because clearly she did agree with the article and there was no use in my disagreeing with her in type. Then I saw a few other posts on facebook with very similar messages. I've thought long and hard about this topic: Can We Bring the Holidays Down a Notch? and I still completely disagree with the article.
The article begins: This past Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday I had completely forgotten about until my oldest stumbled out of bed and into the living room at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday night while we were watching SNL.  “Can I help you guys hide the gold coins?” he asked. The WHAT?  “The gold coins. I know the leprechauns aren’t real. I know it’s you, like Santa. So I want to help you. I can make the leprechaun trap, too.” 
We told him to go to bed and then looked at each other with exasperation. Gold coins? A leprechaun trap? Is he serious?  When I was a kid we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by wearing something green. THE END. I had noticed that over the past few years, our kids were getting some grander ideas from school. But I didn’t think that we needed to replicate these experiences at home. 
Apparently, the children believed that we did.

Even though I really like St. Patrick's Day I see what she's saying but she continues by complaining about Christmas, and valentines day, and the list goes on. It seems that one of her main complaints is that "someone decided... that you have to..." But that's where you've got it wrong tired momma. Clearly she is exhausted. Most of us are. It sounds like she does not enjoy Elf on the Shelf, Advent calendars, and elaborate Valentine's gifts. I get it. Those things aren't fun for her. But then why is she doing them? And why do her children think that her family "needs" to do what all the other families are supposedly doing?

If nothing else holiday's should be about tradition and making memories. We never had much money growing up. The first Christmas after my parent's divorced we were one of "those" families, you know the ones that people sponsor. Strangers came to our house with all kinds of food and really strange gifts because... well I'm not sure why. I don't think my mom signed us up somewhere. She is a very proud woman. If she did sign us up that just goes to show how much it meant to her that holiday's were special for us.

Every Christmas we got to open our stocking from Santa (even though my mom raised us not believing in Santa but just saying it was a fun story) first thing when we woke up. The other gifts had to wait until everyone in the house was awake but the stockings first thing in the morning were an awesome tradition for us. For our birthday's my mom always had balloons waiting at the chair at the head of the table when we woke up and she always baked us a homemade cake. Valentines day usually greeted us with a few chocolates at the table in each of our places (except the year when our dog ate all our treats while we were all sleeping). And at Easter my mom always did a scavenger hunt for our baskets. Those scavenger hunts have left lasting memories that my siblings and I deeply cherish.

My mom didn't spent much on our holiday traditions but she made every holiday really special. The same goes here. I really try to bring holiday's up a notch (as opposed to the article's title) and I do not spend much in doing so. Children grow up SO fast. Traditions, memory making, and special days of childhood will soon be in the past. I think if I were just trying my hardest to keep up with everyone else's traditions then I'd be cranky too but holiday's shouldn't be about that.

The biggest problem I have with the article is the way it implies that she feels there are all these requirements of holidays. Holiday traditions are special because they are so unique between families and cultures. I don't like the idea of children (or adults) thinking that they need to do what everyone else is doing. I like to believe that if you have your own special traditions and you've raised your kids with such they wouldn't be throwing a fit about not waking up to gold coins on St. Patrick's Day. If they feel otherwise then sit them down and tell them right now, "that's now how we celebrate this holiday," or even "we don't celebrate this holiday." Don't tell me to celebrate less emphatically because you can't keep up. You're the mom to your kids and I'm going to be the mom to mine.

I don't do Elf on the Shelf and never will. We won't ever make bunny tracks in the front lawn for Easter. We don't celebrate Halloween at our house. We have a Thanksgiving tree (I don't know anyone else that does that) but I can't imagine writing an article that says, stop celebrating your way because it makes my kids want more. Come on! There are just so many things wrong with that... okay, I've gotten that off my chest.

Instead of trying to bring the holidays down a notch can we please stop comparing ourselves to everyone else, stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, stand firm in our own traditions, and make every day just a little bit special somehow for our children whose childhood's are flashing before our very eyes? I know you're tired. I am too.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Gardening Day!

At least it was for us. Ah, sunshine and dirt and water and mud and seeds and... what could be better?!

Today little Abe and I planted carrots seeds (I did actually plant purple carrots this year) and spinach seeds. Spinach is one of this year's new additions. When I decided to give gardening a try two years ago I chose to start out with just tomatoes and strawberries. Last year I added carrots, beans, and watermelon. Oh, and the giant sunflower. Last year was also the first year I grew all of the plants from seed.

This year I've added spinach, will possibly add pumpkin and switched from watermelon to the Bidwell Casaba melon. Getting the seeds outside and getting the tomato and bean bed ready to go was such a great way to spend mother's day. Okay, I did snap at little Abe a few times when he flung mud at me, almost hit me with the shovel, and started to flood the backyard with the hose. BUT we did enjoy ourselves and got a lot accomplished. I also put up a little fence (that we have had in the garage for YEARS) to keep the dogs away from the tomatoes and strawberries this year.

The tomatoes and pole beans will go in the ground but there are rabbits galore around here so I've found that strawberries, carrots and I'm anticipating the spinach in pots works so much better for me.

I had set this year's gardening budget at $25 and I'm considerably over that. Here's the rundown of my garden spending thus far: $17.52 for Peat and Garden soil and $20 for seeds. The bin that I have carrots in this year was given to me by my sister in law as she no longer needed it. I've been composting in the purple bin that I grew carrots in last year. I had the other three pots and the fencing on hand. I know, I spent a ridiculous amount on seeds. The problem was that I ordered them online, had to pay shipping and I went and did a second order when I found the Bidwell Casaba seeds. I spent $6.25 on the melon seeds alone. With the exception of the two year old strawberries, everything I'm growing is from heirloom seeds.

If this year's gardening endevour turns out half as well as last year then I'm more than happy with the $42.52 that I spent on the garden this year. Teaching little Abe about growing food while watching all the beautiful plants grow and fruit and then getting to eat food from our own backyard is worth SOOOOO much more than $42.52 to me anyhow.

Hooray for Spring!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Just a post about the weather

The siding on our home is tin. This feature makes the sound of falling raindrops very pronounced. When we first moved in it drove me slightly crazy. Over the past 10 plus years it's grown to sound a little musical.

I've been listening to the music of raindrops on the siding for days. There have been a few bursts of sunshine but for the most part it's been raining and raining and raining for what seems like forever. The gloom has gotten to me for a few moments here and there. I wish little Abe and I could be spending more time outdoors (we'd play in the rain if it were warmer). But the heavenly green that results from the seemingly endless rain is just priceless. I don't envision heaven to be all white with big fluffy clouds as it's portrayed in many a movie. Rather I imagine it's home to the most gorgeous blues and the most vibrant greens that any soul could ever wish to see. We get a little peak of that when it rains.

It hasn't been a downpour so the plants are happy, healthy and thriving. The birds are active. The gloom is there in the sky but there is so much beauty and music in the rain. Maybe I should add "listen to raindrops" for the May to-do list. I could just mark that one off now (or days ago).

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Heavy Haul

One of the stores I work at, it's my Thursday morning store is actually in a pretty nice neighborhood BUT it's butted up to one of the worst cities in Michigan. The violent crime rate in this tiny city ranks just below Detroit. If you were to assume that the vast majority of people living there are living well below the poverty rate you'd be correct. If you were to assume that drug use and crime are exponential there you'd be right. It's a city that everyone around here knows to just steer clear of. However, this neighboring city causes my Thursday morning store (in a pretty nice neighborhood) to have very high theft, interesting clientele, and I've seen many the strange scenario play out there.

A large portion of the customers walk to the store or take the bus. (There aren't any large metropolitan areas close to where I live so most people in my part of the world own/ drive cars. The people taking the bus or walking to the store in this particular scenario, generally aren't very well off.) Last week while I was leaving my Thursday morning store there was a man stopped in the entryway with three dark scruffy backpacks. He had purchased several cartons of pop and was standing there filling (I mean FILLING) his bags to the brim with the cans. He was an older gentlemen. He looked worn, tired. His clothes were a bit ragged and dirty. I'm being purposefully very descriptive for pondering's sake; he looked like he had a hard life. Even if hard meant less money then most, or uncomfortable living arrangements, or having been laid off and without work for too long; who knows what the case may be. He looked worn.

I walked to my car thinking, "That man enjoys pop so much as so go to the trouble to walk all the way here, load up those three bags full of it, and walk all the way back home with that weight on his back? Really? Is it worth all that trouble?" Even if he were taking the bus it would still require a lot of walking and carrying of those bags. I thought about this for quite awhile.

Just recently a friend and I were discussing our values, or more specifically what we value. If you value a collection, your home may be filled with trinkets and chatchkes galore. If you value simplicity your home may be open and empty. If you value spending time with your dog you may allot hours a day to going for long walks, grooming, and caring for you furry family member. Other people might have zero interest in dogs but may spend hours a day playing video games or watching and playing some sort of sport. I could give a million examples; our lives very much reflect what we value, even though often times we may not ever think about it or realize it.

Clearly the man in the entryway at the grocery store with three incredibly heavy backpacks filled with soda, who was getting ready to haul his stash home values pop. I can't see any scenario in my lifetime that would put me in his shoes. I don't drink pop (except on rare occasions). Even if I had to walk to and from the grocery store I would never go to the trouble of loading up several bags filled with heavy pop. The sight was truly shocking to me. The money he spent on it, the time it took him to go to the store and back home, the weight and inconvenience of his haul. He really values pop!

But there are things like this in my life, certainly. Maybe? I think there are for all of us. I imagine those cans of soda must bring him great joy. Maybe he needs one as the perfect accompaniment to watch a sports game? Maybe the pizza he planned to eat at dinner just wouldn't be enjoyable without that perfect can of pop to go with? Maybe he spends hours a day sitting on his back porch watching the birds and drinking soda? "Ah, perfection!" For all the trouble he was going to pop must really bring him joy. This sounds pretty silly and maybe even a bit mocking on my part. I'm not mocking him in the least. If he gets such great joy from drinking all that pop that he's willing to go to the trouble I only glanced at for a portion of a minute then I would never dream of begrudging him that.

It does make me think about my own life though. I wouldn't want to go to all that trouble for pop. I wouldn't want a sugary beverage to be that important to me. I DO NOT look down upon him; I almost respect that he'd go to so much trouble for something so simple. But I wouldn't want to work so hard for something like that. But do I? Is there something, are there things in my life that I sacrifice time, energy, portions of my life for, things that when it comes down to it really aren't worth the heavy haul? Hmm...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Out of the Ordinary to-do list for May for a pop of color

  1. Make paella (per my husband's request; I've never even eaten paella)
  2. Root through wardrobe. pt.1 
  3. Get rid of a few things. pt.2
  4. Wear something I haven't worn in a long while. pt.3
  5. Go on a long walk.
  6. Enjoy a bonfire (somewhere... Starr?)
  7. Find my straggler gift cards and use them (I know I have two different ones).
  8. Re-purpose something in the house.
  9. Lay out and look at the stars with my buddy (if there's a warm enough evening).
  10. Make something to give to someone.
  11. Call my dad. (I think the last time I talked to him was at Christmas)
  12. Learn one phrase in Spanish each week (with little Abe).
  13. Bake some sort of new dessert with fruit.
  14. Go into a store that I've never been in. (this one already feels weird... can you tell I'm NOT a shopper)
  15. Draw something.
  16. Listen to music and dance.
  17. Try and be girly for one whole day. (this one already feels weird too)
  18. Gosh darn it, try and do something thoughtful for all the birthday peeps this month!
  19. Tell stories with little Abe (like on the fly, made up stories. He loved this last time I did it)
  20. Take a Thursday off work and go watch little Abe at swimming lessons.
  21. Day trip, visit a neighboring town with hubby and Abe.

The past two months have been full on robotic, get through the day, survival mode. I'm ready for wiggle room and new experiences. Hooray May! (I hope work has actually calmed down) Granted the budget is TIGHT (when is it not tight?) but I can wiggle without money. Wait, limited to no money makes people wiggle anyway though, right. Yeah, yeah, you get what I'm saying.