Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Goal update - September 2017

2017 is all about REDUCE. That is our word of the year. So far I think we are doing pretty well! Check out the first goal post of 2017 here.


1. Between all the members of this house, we will remove 1000 items from the house. This does not count as everyday household garbage. These items will be items that could be potentially donated or sold. I think I will NOT count items that I throw away. This will make it a bit more challenging. (I totally stole this idea from another blog, but I LOVED the concept!) Goal Accomplished!

Hot diggity dog! The man finally got motivated to go through his belongings, aka teaching supplies and electronics, and whoa nelly, we cleared that 1000 goal by a long shot! I did NOT count items, but let's just say that 1000 goal was easy peasy once he got started! Just by going through the garage he got rid of 16 boxes and 2 garbage bags for donation. Six bins were taken to his school to give away to fellow teachers. The items that I would not have counted but am just as excited about are the ten garbage bags that were taken to the dump. Our recycling can is also filled. Our home garbage can is just about filled as well. So, yep, goal met!

2. My goal is to have a yard sale this spring and make a little extra moula to put towards either the vacation, bills, Christmas, or home projects. I think I am  going to change this goal to just selling items in general. Yard sale was a FLOP!

The man sold one of his chinchillas this past month. I also snagged some of the things he was going to get rid of to sell. Fingers crossed they do!

3. This will be a big goal to accomplish! I plan on organizing the garage. I had it looking okay, but then the "boomerang daughter" moved back home and there went that garage again. It WILL get done this year...complete with shelves and such for storage!

See above. It is getting there! I hope by the end of the month it will be 90% completed. I will just need to get shelves made.

4. The garden. This is THE year I will get the garden established and actually benefit from its bounty.

Our first summer garden was pretty good. I still have a few tomatoes and peppers to glean from it. I started a fall garden and so far it is looking good! The collards and turnips are growing like crazy!

5. Travel to Finland for $1000 (not counting the plane ticket). I am traveling to Finland this summer with my dad, stepmom, and sister. The tickets are paid for already so the goal is to have the rest of the trip costing only $1000. This includes passport, luggage, and any other costs, like spending money while there, etc. This is totally doable, especially since we will be spending time with family. I originally wanted to have $1000 just for spending but I think I am going to include the cost of the passport and luggage too. Now, if I can score gift cards to help defray the cost, that is a bonus to the $1000.  Goal accomplished!

6. I plan to pay off heating cooling systems by the end of the year. This "should" be an easy goal to accomplish.  Goal accomplished!

7. Ok, this may just be the goal I list EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR until it happens. I plan to lose 50 lbs this year and if I do not lose 50lbs, I will be happy to be able to shop in the "regular" sizes again.

Psh, gained a couple of pounds, BUT I am still below what I started at!

8. Since we have been doing Christmas debt free for the past few years already, this year's Christmas goal is to have all presents bought or made by December for under $500. This does NOT count my husband's gift because I ALWAYS spend more than I should on him and him on me.  Bonus points if the gifts are wrapped before December as well!

I was able to score some $30 "treasure chests" for $2 each! They have Disney themes on them but I am going to spray paint them and put the homemade bath items in them for the nieces and nephews. Now to be on the look out for cheap towels! 

9. I plan to keep the grocery bill under $600 a month. I would REALLY like to keep it under $500 a month, but with my husband, that is just setting me up for failure.

I only spent $490 last month! It is good, but considering I was cooking from the freezers and pantry it should have been better. Fingers crossed October is just as good!

10. Work on some craft projects I have been putting off but want to complete. Mainly the cross stitch squares my mom started when she was alive. I'd love to complete them and make the quilt she was planning to make.

Yeah, not in September. There is always October....

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A decision has been made

There comes a time in one's life where a decision has to be made.

Do we go through our belongings (aka, clutter) and take the time to sell on the various online platforms or do we decide to cut our losses and donate it all and get a receipt that may, or may not, help us at tax time?

Well, we reached that time in our life and a decision was made. That decision was to purge. Oh what a decision it was!

Background story:
My husband and I married young. We had no money. He basically made minimum wage and I was in school. When we had a little extra money we would scour the clearance sections for items we NEEDED. When we had a little more extra money, we also sought out items in the clearance section that we WANTED, because it was a good deal, you know. So over the course of 25 years we bought, and stored, and bought and stored.
End of story.

Sure, we donated some and threw away some over the years. Heck, when we moved south we threw out, gave away, or donated almost half of what we had BUT there was still so much we had. Think hoarders, but clean ones.

Then my husband became a teacher. What do teachers loves? School supplies and teaching materials. Oh. My. Goodness. As a new teacher if anyone was giving items away, he snatched it. Back to school sales? Oh, you bet he was there. Limit of 5? Oh no, honey, he is a teacher. He can have a limit of 25. Who can resist 25 composition books that are a nickel a piece? Yep, if it was free or cheap, he took it. I mean, lets be honest, most of us would have done the exact same thing.

So you add the enormous amount of teaching supplies to the already large amount of computer and video game collections and you get this: (side note, this is after one day of cleaning. See that wall back there? Yeah, we haven't seen that wall in a few years. So, yes, improvement has been made)

To note, I am not an innocent partner in all this. I, too, have hoarded my share of items. However, the urge to purge hit me awhile ago and I have been steadily purging my things every so often. Matter of fact, I am going to go through a section in my bedroom later today. Oh and that garage? It is not all his. I have holiday stuff, canning supplies, and general household stuff that I will be going through today as well.

The man is a late bloomer. He finally got the urge a few weeks ago. His mass of clutter has him ridden with anxiety so we take it slow for him. A person needs to be ready to purge and they must be guided, not told what to do. He takes breaks throughout the day when he notices his anxiety rising. It also helps when you are motivated. The details of his motivation has changed over the past few weeks. His current motivation? A Nintendo Switch. (He is a gamer, so of course this would work). Hey, whatever works, right?  I mean, we have money saved so...

So why donate instead of taking the time to sell? Well, mostly because there is SO MUCH STUFF! Plus he tried having a yard sale (remember my goals post?) It didn't work out. Plus the longer stuff sits, the less motivated he will be. He had to be ready and he is most definitely ready. Yesterday alone we threw away 5 garbage bags and we donated 2 garbage bags and 6 boxes. He has another 4-5 boxes in his jeep to give to teachers at work (so they can start their own hoarding supply). Today we hope to have the garage completed. It may not be organized, but it will have been gone through. I am perfectly okay with that.

So, for us, donating is a better decision for us right now. It eases our minds to get rid of this stuff. In other words, it "reduces" our stress. Remember, our word of the year is "reduce". I like to think we are getting a bonus. By donating, we are quickly reducing both our clutter and our stress.

Less clutter in the house = less clutter of the mind, dontcha think?



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Goal update - August 2017

2017 is all about REDUCE. That is our word of the year. So far I think we are doing pretty well! Check out the first goal post of 2017 here.


1. Between all the members of this house, we will remove 1000 items from the house. This does not count as everyday household garbage. These items will be items that could be potentially donated or sold. I think I will NOT count items that I throw away. This will make it a bit more challenging. (I totally stole this idea from another blog, but I LOVED the concept!)

I have not really kept track but with all the crates of books my husband got rid of and the miscellaneous other items, I bet we are at about 500 easily!

2. My goal is to have a yard sale this spring and make a little extra moula to put towards either the vacation, bills, Christmas, or home projects. Goal NOT accomplished and will not get accomplished.

3. This will be a big goal to accomplish! I plan on organizing the garage. I had it looking okay, but then the "boomerang daughter" moved back home and there went that garage again. It WILL get done this year...complete with shelves and such for storage!

Not in August. I doubt in September either as the man has inherited some items from his father who passed and they may be taking up space in the garage for a bit.

4. The garden. This is THE year I will get the garden established and actually benefit from its bounty. 

I think I did pretty darn well! We enjoyed a watermelon (the birds enjoyed lots of them), plenty of peppers, a few tomatoes, and so much basil, cucumbers, and a few zucchini! I even managed to plan a fall garden. Hopefully that does well too!

5. Travel to Finland for $1000 (not counting the plane ticket). I am traveling to Finland this summer with my dad, stepmom, and sister. The tickets are paid for already so the goal is to have the rest of the trip costing only $1000. This includes passport, luggage, and any other costs, like spending money while there, etc. This is totally doable, especially since we will be spending time with family. I originally wanted to have $1000 just for spending but I think I am going to include the cost of the passport and luggage too. Now, if I can score gift cards to help defray the cost, that is a bonus to the $1000.  Goal accomplished!

6. I plan to pay off heating cooling systems by the end of the year. This "should" be an easy goal to accomplish. Mission accomplished!

7. Ok, this may just be the goal I list EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR until it happens. I plan to lose 50 lbs this year and if I do not lose 50lbs, I will be happy to be able to shop in the "regular" sizes again.

Well, I was down 30 pounds but then vacation happened and 5 of those pesky pounds crept back on. I am working again on the remaining 25!

8. Since we have been doing Christmas debt free for the past few years already, this year's Christmas goal is to have all presents bought or made by December for under $500. This does NOT count my husband's gift because I ALWAYS spend more than I should on him and him on me.  Bonus points if the gifts are wrapped before December as well!

I am still working on it. I have some very cool ideas!

9. I plan to keep the grocery bill under $600 a month. I would REALLY like to keep it under $500 a month, but with my husband, that is just setting me up for failure.

For the most part, we have been under $600. I have tried under $500 but no go...maybe September is THE month!

10. Work on some craft projects I have been putting off but want to complete. Mainly the cross stitch squares my mom started when she was alive. I'd love to complete them and make the quilt she was planning to make.

No craft projects just yet....

Pause of Operation Eat Up

Well, I had hoped to keep up with Operation Eat Up, but life happens. We had a death in the family so we made an unexpected trip "home" for that. Luckily, most of the time we have been fed by family so not much money out of pocket for us. We left the kiddos home to deal with the animals and house but I can bet they chose take out over ransacking the pantry and freezers. Ha! So, when we get back it will resume, for sure!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Day 5: Operation Eat Up: Turkey Dinner

Hey y'all! Tonight we had that turkey I found in the freezer. We even had stuffing to go along with it! I found the butts, or heels or whatever you call those end pieces of bread, in the freezer along with an entire loaf of wheat bread to use! Yay!

Add some mashed taters and some peas and dinner was served!

After dinner was enjoyed, I spent some time removing all the meat from that 14 pound bird. There was still quite a bit! I had enough to plan out at least two more meals.

Not much will go to waste with this bird! I made some bone broth and also had some scraps for the dogs to enjoy in the morning. Now to figure out a way to use up the leftover bones and skin and all will have been used!

What did you have for dinner?

- jess

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Day 3: Operation Eat Up - Sauerkraut and kielbasa

Hey there! Today is day three and I am still just as motivated to use up all the food I have accumulated! I sure hope the momentum continues through September or until the food is about gone!

Today I used up one of the very many containers of fermented sauerkraut I made earlier in the year. I put it in the crockpot with a package of polish kielbasa and voila! Dinner is served!

I could go on and on about the health benefits of fermented foods, particularly sauerkraut, but I will just point you to this blog post. It has gives a great explanation of all the goodness! It even has the recipe...if you want to call it a recipe. It really is just directions. It is also REALLY, SUPER easy!
What did you have for dinner tonight?

On a side note...those 7 half gallons of eggnog? Yeah, they got throw out tonight for garbage pick up tomorrow morning. The man thawed one out, took a drink, and promptly spit it out and said get rid of them. I pick my battles and didn't argue. Total loss - $7.  Lesson learned.

Until next time!!

-- Jess

Monday, August 28, 2017

Day 2: Operation Eat Up - Ballpark Meatloaf!

Day two: Operation Eat Up

Today I decided to use up some pork sausage and ground beef we had in the deep freezer. What better way than to make some meatloaf. I do love me some average ol meatloaf, but this recipe is for the best meatloaf EVER! Try it and let me know what you think!

Once upon a time, the man decided his wife could use a cookbook, or two, or twelve, for Christmas.

True Story. He found a GREAT deal and kept piling them into his cart. Twenty years later, this lone one from the pile survived the purge.
The man? He gets reminded of that Christmas every time I pull this book out. He then apologizes. I just like to give him a hard time about it. I honestly didn't mind...I did think it was strange, but I didn't mind. Its the thought that counts, right?

Anyhoo....I don't use this cookbook often anymore but there is one recipe we absolutely love. The ballpark meatloaf. I have changed it up over the years but the bones of the recipe is still there  So without further ado...


Ballpark Meatloaf (adapted from 365 Ways to Cook Hamburger and Other Ground Meats)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish with juices (I always add a lil more)
1 cup bread crumbs (I use gluten free)
1 egg (if they are smaller, I add in two)
1 small onion chopped (any kind works...I happened to only have red this time around)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 teaspoons brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In medium-large bowl, mix all ingredients (EXCEPT the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons mustard.
3. Form one large (or two small loaves..like I do) and place on those pans that have slots for drainage to a pan below (or just use 2 meatloaf pans)
4. Bake until the center is 155-160 degrees (has anyone actually used a thermometer for meatloaf?) Or just eyeball it like me. About 40 minutes, give or take a few.
5. In a small bowl, mix the remaining mustard and the brown sugar. Brush mixture over the top of each loaf and bake until it is glazed...about 5 minutes.
6. Let stand about 5 minutes before slicing.
7. ENJOY!!

Serves 6 people (on average)

This is what you get when you let your man bake it while you are at work. Slightly burned tops. It still filled my belly though! We froze the second loaf for another time.