Friday, December 30, 2016

December grocery budget recap

I started keeping track this past February. When I begin to feel down about how much my monthly total is, I just look back at February and feel better...haha! 
So here are all the previous month's totals along with December!
Here it is: The previous monthly recaps: This is for, on average, a family of 4 adults.

February:Groceries=$1287.95. Eating=$51.67. Total-$1339.62
March: Groceries= $573.20 Eating out= $138.42. Total-$711.62
April: Groceries=$411.40 Eating out=$99.19. Unknown-$41.41 (All I know it went to food). Cash left-$48. So all this equals $600.
May: Groceries= $640.56 Eating out=$211.71. Total-$852.27
June: Groceries=$776.41 Eating out=$509.77 Total-$1276.18
July: Groceries=$779.57 Eating out=$381.53 Total-$1161.10
August: Groceries - $691.43 Eating out - $93.27 Total=$784.70
September:Groceries - $470.49 Eating out - $29.92 = $500.41
October: Groceries - $626.06 Eating out - $220.00 = $846.06
November: Groceries - $506.78 Eating out - $96.70 = $603.48 

Now for December:
We had a harder month. Since I am the main person who cooks and buys the food, when I am down, the budget suffers because we get take out more often. I got sick with some head cold exactly on December 1st. It is the 30th and I still have an occasional cough but I feel so much better. I was down and out for almost 2 weeks though. In addition to that, our fridge broke. It was about 13-14 years old and original to the house. The freezer works great and I thought that the man had fixed it, but it broke again. It is probably something as simple as the fan, but he really is not mechanically inclined and our friends were selling a newer one super cheap so we went ahead and bought that one. I will say though I am super glad we have a garage fridge! That saved our food from spoiling! I thought about stocking up on baking supplies, but by the time I was feeling better most of the sales were done with so no stocking up was really done. I did do some baking and we did splurge on holiday snacks and that brought up the grocery amount. Anyway, on to the totals:
December: Groceries - $612.12 Eating out - $213.47 = $825.59
Overall, much better than I thought it would be....and I think that is partly due to my MIL living with us and buying some stuff and my daughter living back home and buying stuff too. Still not as bad as it was when I first started keeping track!

End of the year 2016 update of goals

A Dozen Goals For 2016

1. Pay off two car payments
I REALLY did not expect this to happen but it did!! Well, kinda, almost. So, we did pay off one car in August, I believe. Then, we decided to trade in the one jeep that had several thousands of dollars of equity. The man took that equity and turned around and got me a another car to drive. This happened about 10 days ago. We still owe about $2000 on the "new" car, but I will have that paid off in two to three months!

2. Cut spending and figure out ways to cut spending even more
This we accomplished as well! We switched our cell phone carrier and saved about $100 a month! We also signed one car over to one of our girls and made her get her own car insurance. This dropped our monthly insurance bill around $100 too!  
3. Lower the grocery bill and reduce our eating out substantially
This we have really worked on over the course of the year. We have made much improvement but we could always improve!
4. Turn our junk into money
We have sold some items but there is so much more we could sell! I hope to have a yard sale this coming spring to sell some items.
5. 12 house projects in 12 months
Well....this one we could really have done better on...there is always next year!
6. Vacation on the cheap
We did not go on any vacations this year so this was not accomplished. HOWEVER, I am going to Finland next summer with my dad, stepmom, and sister. Dad started looking at plane tickets back in August. They dropped a few hundred dollars this past week and we snagged them. What I thought was going to cost $1300 ended up being about $1050. Now we did end up spending extra to get from where we live to JFK in NYC, and we probably could have gotten a better deal on those tickets, BUT since we saved quite a bit on the main flight, we chose just to book and get it all done and paid for. The whole flight to and from Finland still came under $1300. 
7. Have Christmas gifts made or paid for before December
Most of the gifts were bought before December. I did not get a chance to make gifts before December but I did get them done and I save money! Most of all, the gifts were very well received! Yay! I am already thinking of Christmas 2017!
8. Lose 50 pounds in 2016
9. Declutter, organize, and decorate the house
Ok, so I was able to declutter and organize some parts of the house. Decorate, not really. 2017, I hope, is the year we really declutter and organize...fingers crossed!
10. Learn more about blogging and keep up with this one
There is always next year...
11. Learn new one new thing a month
Ya know...not sure if I did this or not. Forgot about this goal....
12. Put forth more time for family and friends
More time for family, yes. Friends, not so much. I am such a homebody that to spend time with friends is hard to do because I would much rather tinker around my house. I think I am going to try to do better in the coming year.

How did you all do with your goals? Have you made goals for the new year yet?? I am working on mine!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Nana's nisu

Nana used to have nisu and coffee, at the ready for when visitors came over. She would spend a day making a batch and then freeze most of it to be able to pull out when guests arrived. As I grew, I would help her during different stages of the process and remember how the smell of cardamon would fill the kitchen....mmmm. When I became an adult, I visited one day and had her show me from start to finish how to make a batch of nisu. I brought with me that day a blank (well, almost blank) recipe book that she had given to my dad and sisters (which we had never really used until that day) and wrote out the ingredients and directions for how to make this family favorite. That is one memory I will always cherish, spending the day with my nana making nisu! Enjoy the recipe below and maybe you will make some cherished memories while making a new family favorite, Nana's nisu!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

September and October grocery recap

I have really tried to lower the grocery and eating out budget over the past 9 months. 

Monthly recap:
February:Groceries=$1287.95. Eating=$51.67. Total-$1339.62
March: Groceries= $573.20 Eating out= $138.42. Total-$711.62
April: Groceries=$411.40 Eating out=$99.19. Unknown-$41.41 (All I know it went to food). Cash left-$48. So all this equals $600.
May: Groceries= $640.56 Eating out=$211.71. Total-$852.27
June: Groceries=$776.41 Eating out=$509.77 Total-$1276.18
July: Groceries=$779.57 Eating out=$381.53 Total-$1161.10
August: Groceries - $691.43 Eating out - $93.27 Total=$784.70
September:Groceries - $470.49 Eating out - $29.92 Total= $500.41
October: Groceries - $626.06 Eating out - $220.00 Total= $846.06 
This included a little over $50 for alcohol and about $125 for food for our Halloween party so overall I think we did pretty good! Also, about $120 was for my oldest daughter and son in law's birthday breakfast (instead of dinner).

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Our new blog!

So, I have blogged on and off and have finally decided to make it a go...again. Family members "may" even join in on some blogs posts! It is OUR hodgepodge home afterall.

I decided to not only blog, but I thought to try vlogging too. A YouTube channel was created and I hope to add some videos to. In addition, these other family members may also add to the channel! The man and girl2 have a project they have been working on and I may have convinced them to make a video about it.

There is also an instagram page, but only one or two pics are there for now.

There is a Facebook page, but again, not much is there.  Feel free to check it out and like it for when I do post on it!

Time people, give me/us time, and hopefully there will be more!

So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show...or blog...or you know....

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Possible midlife crisis?

So the man and I went to the beach this past week for a wedding. I LOVE the beach. Now, the man, he has never really cared for the beach, but he agreed that it was relaxing. I was telling the man how I could just live there always. He surprised me by saying that he would move there.


I immediately began searching for houses on the market thinking for sure that I would never find any we could afford. I mean if I was going to move to the beach, I was going to move within walking distance of the beach, ya know?  I was not going to uproot my life if I could not walk to the beach, I mean lets be real now.

I FOUND ONE! It is a foreclosure. It is super weird. Whoever was trying to remodel the house had a vision. I am not quite sure of the vision, but they had one. That is for sure. It is the strangest house I have ever been inside of. They liked doors...and fancy light fixtures...and mirrors....and shutters. Such a strange house. I LOVE IT!

It is almost double the size of our current home. It is three blocks from the ocean. It is also cheaper than our current home. I've done some investigating and the water prices would be higher and I am sure the electricity would be higher since it is bigger. I am most certain insurance will be higher, with it being close to the ocean and all. But it is a wonderful place. I am trying desperately not to get excited about it...too late.

The man and I decided that if it is God's will, it will be and we will move. If it is not God's will, we will stay put. We love where we live now. We have settled....but the ocean, oh the ocean!

The man knows someone who lives there and looked into a job and there are plenty in his field. I also applied for a job. One that would probably give me a bigger salary too. We shall see. I think the most difficult obstacle would be selling our current home. I think it will sell, but we need it to sell at a certain price. Plus our two youngest kiddos would have to move with us unless they could find a place they could afford, which is doubtful. That means they will have to find new jobs too. There is a lot to fall into place for us to make the move....which is why we are leaving it up to the good Lord above. If it is His will, he will allow the pieces to fall into place as they should. (I am hoping it is His will, but I will accept it if it is not)

Life is an adventure, isnt it?!?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Monthly grocery shopping trip for August

This a long one so grab a cup of coffee and read on.

Since my husband and I only get paid monthly and pay day was this past Friday, I decided to do shopping for the month. I spent all day Saturday paying our monthly bills and developing a budget.

I also went through the sales ads for the local grocery stores. There are three that I looked at ads for: Kroger, Food Lion, and Harris Teeter. I decided to do the majority of my shopping at Aldi and make a price list based on their prices. If I can find something cheaper elsewhere, then I will buy it there.

I then made a menu for dinners for the month and wrote down breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas for the month. I discussed it with my husband and we both agree we saved the most money when we did created a boat load of frozen meals so that was our plan.

I coordinated the days I worked with a frozen crock pot meal. Days we will be busy, I also planned a frozen meal. Really, there are only a handful of days that I will actually be cooking dinners.

This morning I set off to a local coffee shop to clip a few coupons and plan my attack at the local stores. I started off at Aldi and loaded up my cart while writing down prices and sizes of items for the price list. The total spent there: $290.84. My husband had just got done with an Uber job and met up with me to take the groceries from there home. I only have a 2 dr jeep wrangler and I needed the room for the rest of the stops! Plus it was 100 degrees here in NC and I didnt want all the ice cream goodies to melt! No Dairy Queen trips for us this month!!

I then headed over to Harris Teeter for their super double sales. I stocked up on toiletries and paper goods for a total of $34.29.

Off to Kroger (one of my faves!). I decided to walk the aisles looking for additional bargains as I had my coupons with me. They had chicken breasts on sale for $1.79/lb. That is really good for the area so I stocked up! I bought three pounds of sandwich pepperoni which was not on sale and a bit pricey, but my husband will use it to make a large amount of pepperoni rolls for lunches for the month so I figured it will save us in the long run. No fast food runs!! I did splurge and buy four 6 pks of Hershey bars. They were 2 packs for $7. When we crave chocolate, he will go to the local convenient store and get us candy bars so even though it was a splurge, it will save us in the end. Total spent there: $138.18.

The last store. Food Lion. They had top round london broil on sale for $2.99/pound. We have decided to grind our own beef for burgers and such, and this price is cheaper than ground beef anyway! Total spent: $66.90.

The way I figure, the only grocery runs we will have to do for the month of August will be for milk and bread and for my husband's birthday celebration. So, for the month of August, we have spend $530.21. I only budgeted $600 but honestly there will be meals for September too so we are ahead!

Friday, July 29, 2016

July 2016 update of goals

A Dozen Goals For 2016

1. Pay off two car payments
Well, one is paid off!  We just got the title in the mail!

2. Cut spending and figure out ways to cut spending even more
I am back to doing a budget. Oh I hope I can stick to it!  I think cutting out some pet items will help. I am going to keep searching for more ways to save.
3. Lower the grocery bill and reduce our eating out substantially
This has been tough for us. I am hoping to get back on track in August.
4. Turn our junk into money
We have gone through our DVDs and have sold only a few. There are a few other items I need to get posted to sell too.
5. 12 house projects in 12 months
Umm...we FINALLY got the pool up and it is WONDERFUL! It is just a pool from Big Lots but I am enjoying it nonetheless. We bought some designer bricks off of craigslist and are working on a retainer wall. It will look good when we are done with it.

6. Vacation on the cheap
Well, I did have some money set aside for next summer's trip to Finland, but we did not budget well and it got spent. UGH!
7. Have Christmas gifts made or paid for before December
I have yet to start on sewing some gifts, but I am still collecting ideas.
8. Lose 50 pounds in 2016
Yeah, I think I gained weight actually. I have started to work out some. I would LOVE to join a gym but there are none that do month to month so I have decided to just use the pool and youtube. 
9. Declutter, organize, and decorate the house
Um, yeah. I had the garage looking decent and a girl moved back in and took over the garage. ARGH!
10. Learn more about blogging and keep up with this one
Nothing done with this goal. I actually thought about deleting this one but I decided to just keep it around for my own knowledge.
11. Learn new one new thing a month
I am sure I learned something but no clue what it was right now.
12. Put forth more time for family and friends
Family, yes, friends, not so much. I hope to change that in August.

July's grocery totals

July's totals are ready. I did better that I thought I did! Still not as good as I have done in the past but I am figuring out a budget to control spending. Anyway, here is a recap of the previous months and at the end, July.

February:Groceries=$1287.95. Eating=$51.67. Total-$1339.62
March: Groceries= $573.20 Eating out= $138.42. Total-$711.62
April: Groceries=$411.40 Eating out=$99.19. Unknown-$41.41 (All I know it went to food). Cash left-$48. So all this equals $600.
May: Groceries= $640.56 Eating out=$211.71. Total-$852.27
June: Groceries=$776.41 Eating out=$509.77 Total-$1276.18
July: Groceries=$779.57 Eating out=$381.53 Total-$1161.10
August budget - Groceries - $600. Eating out - $200. This is doable. I actually hope to spend less than what we budget. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Reducing pet care costs!

In an effort to start paying down debt, I have decided to figure out ways to curb pet care. We have many a pets and finding cheaper ways to care for them is now a must for me.

First, the hens and ducks:  They don't take much to care for. Two bags of feed a month which cost about $36 total. I am contemplating getting rid of a few ducks to lower the cost of feed. I'm still debating though as I really do like them...and they give me eggs.

The chinchillas: These are really not a major cost. I spend about $40 every 5 months or so to feed since we buy the food from Amazon in bulk.

The dogs:  This is where we can try to save the most money.

  1. They eat a specific food and I do not want to vary from that. One of the beagle boys has a sensitive belly and is doing well with the food. It is pricey though. A huge bag lasts us one month but costs us about $42. I will be on the look out for coupons and check the price at the two pet stores, plus Amazon, before I buy. 
  2. Plus we have their heartworm preventative medicine (which I am HORRIBLE about remembering). I am going to really look for a cheaper source as, if I remember correctly, I pay about $100 for three months for three dogs. I may be totally off on this though. I am going to investigate this. 
  3. The yearly check ups and shots also cost me several hundred dollars. Here is what a dog really needs each year, or three. I think I am going to ask around for the best price. 
  4. The last cost is grooming. Our oldest dog is a Poodle/Pomeranian/Pekingese/Shih Tzu mix. I used to get her groomed about every three months but recently moved to every other month for a total of $36 a visit. I had tried to groom her in the past on my own and was not really successful. I think I may try it again though. Worse case scenario is that I end up taking her to get groomed after all.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Our direction in life

I've been doing much thinking about things lately. Most of it being the direction of things in our life. We have finished one part of our lives. Tomorrow the boy turns 18. We are done raising our kiddos.


I mean, he finished high school back in December, he graduated in June, but since he was still 17, it felt like we were still raising him. This past week, it feels complete. Well, to me it does. We are done. A part of our life, the raising kiddos, is done.

So what now??

That is what I have been thinking of as of late. What now?  Just about everything I have done since high school has been about raising kids. I picked a career and shift to work so I could be available to my family. It was never a career to me, really, because family ALWAYS came first in my mind. Nursing was a job. Now that my kiddos are grown, it can be a career. (Although, I am not sure I want it to be, but alas, it will be...for the time being).

I have begun to question everything. Now that the kids are raised, do we really need to have all these birds outside?  Yes, I know, I had to have the chickens, but I never had interest in the ducks, that was the boy. He has not expressed interest in them in quite awhile now. Should we keep them?  Should they go? They are the only ones producing eggs, so actually they are worth more than the hens, so as of now they will stay.

The direction my mind has been traveling in and doing some major focusing on has been retirement. Yeah, yeah, I am still YEARS away from that, but I want to start to think about that now so that when the time comes, both the man and me will be ready. Ideally, I want to retire in my mid 50s. I have a chronic illness that at anytime could progress and leave me not enjoying life how I want to so I'd like to retire early to enjoy life to the fullest. I have been reviewing what kinds of things we want out of life. I like to do some traveling, but overall I am a homebody. The man, he would be happy if he never left the homestead. So, it has been decided that we will make our home our oasis, one that we never have to leave if we do not want to.

In order to do this, we need to get out of debt to then be able to use our money for what we want. We have toooooo much hanging over our heads, lingering like a spider's web, waiting for us to get trapped in it forever! I want to take a large broom and get rid of it!

We are in major debt reduction mode. So yes, that is what I will be focusing on for awhile. Our budget, how to make money, how to save money, etc. I reviewed our goals and it looks like I was already heading there already. So, if you have read this far, maybe you are interested in seeing how a middle aged, middle class couple with grown kids living in a middle class housing development out in the country gets out of debt, begins to simplify their life, and gets prepared for the next section of their life! Keep coming back for more updates. Oh and if you want, check our the facebook page. Our Hodgepodge Homestead  I may post there little things here and there that arent on the blog...mainly cuz I am lazy!

Monday, July 18, 2016

With summer comes laziness

I have been lax about updating this blog, and lax about everything as of late. Its summer!! We have blown the grocery budget the past two months but I am not stressing, since stressing only does harm to the body and accomplishes nothing at all.

I have been reading some great books and blogs to motivate me back to frugalness. Steve and Annette Economides books are ones that I have chosen to glean some info from. They are easy to read books and although I did not learn many new concepts, they are motivating me to tighten the reins and get back on track.  I have started making a budget binder so that I have it on paper instead of just on the computer. I need to get the man more involved in this budget business.

Speaking of the man, he recently started making some side money by becoming a driver for Uber. In his first 2 hour session, he netted about $31! He started out with one and kept getting pinged for a total of 5 drives. This morning he is already out on a drive. We have decided that this will become his spending and gas money which save the budget and gets him even more spending money that he is used to. Anything to keep him away from the money...haha. Seriously though, this will save us a decent amount to be able to put towards another bill. I am actually a little jealous! I want to be able to earn a little extra cash too!  Uber isnt for me because I do not have a 4 dr car, plus we decided it just isnt something I should do even though it seems safe enough. I guess I will just have to come up with another way.

We finally got the pool up and we have been enjoying it! With our yard sloped, it was difficult to level so we bit the bullet and paid someone to level it for was pricey, $250! We decided that it was worth it to be able to enjoy the pool. It still only cost us one year of a pool membership that we know we would never use. We decided that since the man is a homebody, we would create a home oasis for us to enjoy and the pool was a must!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Graduation money savings!

The boy is graduating high school this June and we are super duper excited. Also, he is my last to graduate so I am really really excited! 

Today we are talking graduation savings. This can be high school, college, whatever. I am specifically thinking high school though.

Graduation can get so expensive but it does not have to be. This post I am thinking the senior pictures and the announcements.

These darn pictures can get pretty expensive if you let it. I choose to not let it. With our oldest, we went early to take advantage of the specials the photographer place had. Since we were new to the area, we just used who the school suggested. We ended up spending a few hundred dollars.

With the middle girl, we pretty much procrastinated and never got them done. The plan was to have the man with his fancy camera take her pictures. Yeah, that never happened. I did get some pretty ones when we were getting her ready for prom so I just claim that as her senior picture.

With the boy, he had no interest in senior pictures and I was secretly thrilled. I had wanted family pictures to be taken and the man knew someone who takes them relatively cheap and then gives the pictures on a CD after she touches them up. We print them. We had her take several pictures of him alone and, voila!, senior pictures taken!  

On to the announcements. 

Back in the day, one had to order announcements from the school. And they were a bit pricey. And formal. Nowadays, you can order them from anywhere. And they can be as formal or as casual as you want them. They can be as expensive as you want them to be. I choose to be frugal...ok, cheap.  

What I did for each of the girls was make my own announcements. For the oldest, I had many wallet sized pics made and then bought a card/invitation kit and printed all our own announcements. Somewhat formal, very nice.

With my middle child, I found the most cost effective, casual way to make graduation announcements. I loved it so much that I also did it this way for the boy. So, what I did was take my favorite "senior" picture and then found a free "paint" program online (I cannot remember which one I used...I asked the kids..haha) and then I added the information for the graduation party. When all the information was placed on the picture where I wanted it, I sent it to a local Walgreens and printed the amount I needed. This year I only did 12. I opted to make an online announcement with the picture file and made a facebook party announcement for our family and friends. So, if I dont count the cost of the actual picture, the announcements cost me less than $5.  Win!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April's grocery rundown

Here is April's run down. I took out $600 to use cash towards groceries and eating out. Not a good idea for us to use cash, I have realized. I mean, if I was the only one doing the shopping, it would work out perfect, but alas, I am not. The money that was left in the envelope was $48.00. Now there should be change, but I think the man took it for his coin jar. Argh! So, this month is just an estimate since there were rarely receipts saved and we ended up using the debit card a few times when we forgot to bring cash. The actual total may be a bit lower since I "think" I took money out of the envelope to "repay" when I used the debit card, but not sure at what times. Yeah, cash is not a good system for us. In May I am planning on sticking to debit cards with an index card that will subtract the amount as we use it. Even if the man forgets to save his receipt (which he will, he always does), I can just check online. A bonus this month is that my mother in law has come to live with us and she insists on buying some groceries every once in awhile so even though we may not have made any progress due to our experiment with cash, we have plenty of food and I should not have to do major grocery shopping for at least a week, maybe even two!
So here are the results:
February:Groceries=$1287.95. Eating=$51.67. Total-$1339.62
March: Groceries= $573.20 Eating out= $138.42. Total-$711.62
April: Groceries=$411.40 Eating out=$99.19. Unknown-$41.41. Cash left-$48. So all this equals $600.
April was a disaster. On to May!

April 2016 update of goals

A Dozen Goals For 2016

1. Pay off two car payments
I'm kinda tired of not making progress on this, but it is what it is.

2. Cut spending and figure out ways to cut spending even more
Yeah, this didnt get worked on either. 
3. Lower the grocery bill and reduce our eating out substantially
Well, April was a disaster for the grocery budget. Not that we spent more, but our tracking system SUCKED. Cash is NOT the way to go for us. We will go back to using debit cards and tracking online every few days. I will have an envelope for receipts and and index card to subtract what we spend from the budget. May will be better.
So here are the results:
February:Groceries=$1287.95. Eating=$51.67. Total-$1339.62
March: Groceries= $573.20 Eating out= $138.42. Total-$711.62
April: Groceries=$411.40 Eating out=$99.19. Unknown-$41.41. Cash left-$48. So all this equals $600.

4. Turn our junk into money
We are working on that. I am slowly going through things to get ready for a yard sale. I dont believe we sold anything of large value this past month. I did make some egg sales though. 
5. 12 house projects in 12 months
With the help of my mother in law, I installed the new showerhead! I also organized the man's den. It looks AMAZING!  Ive been working on the garage now!

6. Vacation on the cheap
So, it wasnt a vacation, but I traveled back north, again. This time was for the funeral of one of my uncles. I took my sister with me and we split the cost of gas. I also saved money by not eating out often while up there and minimally eating while on the road. Did you know you can use your own coffee cup and refill it very cheaply at gas stations? Much cheaper than using their own styofoam or paper cups, in fact. Win!
7. Have Christmas gifts made or paid for before December
None have been made but I did score a few items from a church yard sale for parts of a few gifts.
8. Lose 50 pounds in 2016
No clue if I have lost weight. The clothes still feel as they did last month so I dont think I gained any back. 
9. Declutter, organize, and decorate the house
So I am on a roll with this goal!  I organized the man's den and have started on the garage. The screened in porch is about done as well. Slowly but surely the house is getting done.
10. Learn more about blogging and keep up with this one
Yeah, not so great this month. 
11. Learn new one new thing a month
Installing the showerhead was so exciting! I never realized how much I depend on the man. 

12. Put forth more time for family and friends
Boy did I accomplish this goal!  I spent time with a friend but mostly it was reconnecting with family in April. My uncle died so my sister and I traveled north for the funeral. I got to spend 5 days with my dad and stepmom, my little sister since we traveled together, my baby sister, my nieces and nephew, and countless relatives from our mother's side. I started a family facebook group for us as well to keep in contact. The postings were so plentiful last week and, as predicted, have died down as we all have gone back to our lives, but we vow to have a family reunion next summer...we shall see. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

From the den to the garage...

Motivation has hit the house...ok, it has hit the house.

After organizing that monstrosity that is now my husband's den, I felt the need to continue on in my quest for a clean, organized home.

There were several areas I could start working on, but I chose to tackle the biggest, most cluttered area first. 


We have lived in our house for over two years now and the garage has never been touched. NEVER.

I lie. The man did touch the dead mice as he threw them out.

So, I have spent about 7 hours today getting started on that big project and when you look at it from the steps, it looks like I accomplished absolutely NOTHING. 

However, when you venture deeper into depth of the garage, you can see the floor!                                                                               ...and lots of mouse poop.

I have one more day off to work on it but I cannot devote all day like I did today. (sad face)

Did I ever mention my goal?  Probably not. Here it is. My goal is to get all the outside stuff completed before summer hits, aka before the heat hits. I have noticed the past two years that we wait until the summer to start outside projects because that is when the man has off of work, you know being a teacher and all. Well, the problem with waiting until summer is that it is HOT. Who wants to do outside work when it is hot? Not me. Not the man, Nope, no way. So I am pushing to get it all done before the heat kicks in.

The garage is one of those "outside" projects. Who wants to work in a heat filled box? Nope, not me, so I want to get it decluttered and mostly organized before June.  I think that if I spend maybe 2-3 hours on it tomorrow and then also this weekend, I can get most of it done. The part that will be left is the man's domain. (He's a hoarder...mainly of teaching supplies and video game pieces and parts and wires and junk). 

So, hopefully my plan for tomorrow and the weekend works out and then I can post some more before and after pictures!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

From mess to marvelous! The den.

So the man took over one of the bedrooms upstairs for his office, den, man cave, whatever.

He HAD to have it. He needs a space of his own, so he says.

We have an extra room, so it was settled. All his crap would be in that room. Yay, I thought. No more of his stuff cluttering up the house. I was all in!

Then, his stuff began to take over other areas of the house. His side of the bedroom was a cluttered mess. The back area of the living room that I wanted to be a nice reading area, ended up being a video game haven and of course his stuff accumulated there too. We haven't even touched all his stuff, mostly teaching supplies, that have yet to be unpacked and are currently in the garage.

ARGH!  I want to be organized and decluttered! So after much, much, MUCH thinking, I decided to start to get him orgainzed. He was afraid I was going to throw things out and the mere thought of it, freaked him out. Every time I looked in the den, I freaked out.

Then I had an epiphany! Why throw anything out? I would just organized EVERYTHING that was in the room. THEN, he can go through it and purge. It is win-win. He has been wanting to purge but whenever he looked at the huge clutter, he would become overwhelmed and walk away. I wanted the room organized so when I begin to go through other areas of the house and get to his things, I have an organized place to put the item.

I had 3 days off of work to get it done. The first day was just spent looking over the plan and buying bins and relaxing for the work days.

Here are the before and after pics!
The hallway before.
The hallway after!

The left side of the room...disaster!
The left side of the much better! Oops, the left of the pic is at the door.
The right side of the room before
The right side of the room after

The closet before...not even used!
The closet after. Office supplies all organized!

It took about 16 hours, over a 2 day period, but it was so worth it! My next day off, I think I will either tackle the items he has in our bedroom or the back half of the living room, or maybe both! I'm on a roll now!  I cannot wait to get to the garage and get it organized!

My overall goal is to purge, purge, and make some money off what we purge!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

March 2016 update of goals

A Dozen Goals For 2016

1. Pay off two car payments
Well, we are getting closer to this goal. I have one car down to less than $2000. I'm really hoping to have it paid off by summer. Now, getting the other car paid off will be tricky due to some of the home projects I want to do, but I am still gonna try!

2. Cut spending and figure out ways to cut spending even more

The man was able to knock about $40 off of our phone bill this past month! Yay! I've been debating on canceling our garbage service but probably will not. I am thinking of getting rid of recycling and just taking that myself. I want to look into different services in the area to see if any are cheaper. 

3. Lower the grocery bill and reduce our eating out substantially
This we made some headway on in March!  Recapping February: Groceries = $1287.95 (a third of it was when we bought half a pig for the deep freezer) and Eating out was $51.67. 
For March: Groceries = $573.20!!! Eating out = $138.42. We did more fast food this in March simply because we were lazy a few days. Plus, I traveled north to bring my mother in law back down here and fast food was eaten during the trip.
My goal for April is to get the eating out portion lower. I have decided to take out a certain amount of money from the credit union and that is what we will use for groceries and eating out. When it is done, it is done.

4. Turn our junk into money
We have been slowly selling off different items around the house. I have convinced the man to put the money in a jar so that we will not spend it unnecessarily. I am hoping for this money to be spent on home projects.
5. 12 house projects in 12 months
I painted the deck!  It is complete! Yay! I feel so accomplished with this! I also painted the outside bench. It looks so cute! It went from a faded barn red to multicolored pastels! Now onto more projects!
6. Vacation on the cheap
I had a mini vacation at the end of the month when I traveled north to bring my mother in law back down. I only made necessary stops and allow my dad to buy me dinner one night. Bonus!
7. Have Christmas gifts made or paid for before December
I am slowly adding to my collection for one gift. Although I think the apron gift is a great idea, I do not think everyone will appreciate it so some I have decided against it. When I was up north, I went to a store with my sister and scored several gifts for a niece and a couple nephews. I also scored one for the man, the boy, and one girl. Yay!  I think this goal will be met easily!
8. Lose 50 pounds in 2016
No clue how much, if any, I lost. I do know that I can cinch my belt a notch tighter! I'm now on the third hole in!
9. Declutter, organize, and decorate the house
This is one goal that I need to accomplish, for my own sanity. I've decided to go room to room and organize it. I've got my closet organized for the most part. My bedroom is over halfway completed, I feel accomplished with this! (Now if I can just get the man to clean up his area). I have been so focused on him going through his belongings to get rid of things that I cannot focus on anything else it seems. I think now I am going to focus on just finding a place for everything and then he can go through it when he goes through it. It at least will be somewhat organized.
10. Learn more about blogging and keep up with this one
Oh how I have slacked on this the past month! I like this monthly goal update, but I need to add some detailed posts in between too.
11. Learn new one new thing a month
I learned how to stain a deck, and how big of a pain in the but it is. 
12. Put forth more time for family and friends
I have done this! I was able to see my dad and other family members up north in March! I also had some friend time too!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Luffa Lady

I have been racking my brain trying to figure out ways to make extra money to put towards debt. Where I work, it is difficult to work overtime, there just aren't many shifts available. I also have a 'no competition' clause in my contract so I cannot just simply work elsewhere doing what I do. 

What's a girl to do to make some extra money?!?

If I start a part time business, that could bring in money. I then thought, what could I possibly do for a business that is not going to take up lots of time?  I would want to WANT to do this as well. What to do, what to do?

I thought about opening up a yard greeting company. Then I thought, "I like sleep too much". Then it hit me. I am starting to garden. Why not have some part time business that has to do with gardening? I thought a bit longer and I got the idea. 

The Luffa Lady

I just ordered a packet of luffa seeds. I am going to grow luffas and then make them into things like soap and back scrubbers. It isnt going to make me rich, but it should provide me with a little extra money. I think it will provide me with some Christmas gifts too!  

Where will I sell these? Oh who knows. Facebook groups, maybe etsy, maybe craft shows. I think it will be fun!

So far I have invested about $3.50 for seeds. I cannot wait until they arrive so I can plant them!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Garden beds revisited

After doing all that research, the man and I decided to use what we already had on hand. We have fence boards that we got for free a couple of years ago. We have decided to make due with those for a few years until we are in a better financial situation to switch them out with something else. He made one already and I think it is going to work out how I want it to. It will "step" down the slightly sloped yard, which is what he wants. Win Win for both of us!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February 2016 update of goals

A Dozen Goals For 2016

1. Pay off two cars
Yeah, right. We spent too much on groceries to get anywhere on this. However, I do have some money set from the study I am in and a surprise payment from the electric company. We got our deposit back. Yay!  I will deposit those checks and write a check towards the one car in March.

2. Cut spending and figure out ways to cut spending even more
I was able to save money by fixing the hem on two of my work pants. Of course they are work pants I bought from the thrift store so I was able to save again!

3. Lower the grocery bill and reduce our eating out substantially
Well this month started out great! Then came the bill for half the organic pig that I had forgotten about. I decided to go in on the pig with a friend and totally forgot.  Not sure how that happened!  It totally blew the grocery budget for the month. 
$1287.95(groceries) + $51.67(eating out) = $1339.62 - $350 for the pig = $989.62
I guess this isn't so bad since we were about starting from scratch. We had staple items we needed to buy and the deep freezer was about empty. We still have plenty of meals left, and of course, pork to eat. I plan on making more freezer meals and then will only have to buy breakfast, lunch, and occasional snack items. I REALLY think we can beat the budget next month. 

4. Turn our junk into money and find new ways to bring in extra money.
We have not started this yet, hopefully in March.
5. 12 house projects in 12 months
I was able to pressure wash the deck. I was going to stain and seal it, but it rained.  :(   I did get the kitchen shelves up for the cookbooks. Thanks hunny!!

6. Vacation on the cheap
We tentatively have a NYC whirlwind weekend planned for June. The man and I were discussing it and he is thinking of selling our concert tickets and forgoing the weekend. I mentioned it to our girls and the reception was not great!  I am thinking he should go with the girls and I will stay home. Plus our son in law is not even sure he can get leave for that weekend as he will have just started a new post. If we decide to do that, then that is two tickets we can get money back for. The price of one ticket will be given to our son in law as it was his birthday present. The cost of my ticket will probably go towards the trip. If only the man and the girls go, then it can truly be a whirlwind experience. Drive up on the day of the concert, attend the concert, sleep at a cheaper hotel, then drive home in the morning. Only one hotel room would be needed. Still only a thought though at this point.

7. Have Christmas gifts made or paid for before December
I now have 3 paper napkins set aside for one of my stepmom's gifts. I hope to get one for each month/holiday. So far I have Christmas, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day. I also found a great deal on some silicone tea infusers for the stockings too!

8. Lose 50 pounds in 2016
I am able to cinch my belt one notch tighter! Woohoo!

9. Declutter, organize, and decorate the house
I finally got the main tv area cleared out and somewhat organized!  This has been 2 years in the making. Since we had several people over the other night, I was able to convince the man to clean up his stuff.

10. Learn more about blogging and keep up with this one
I am not sure I have learned anything, but I sure am keeping it up better than I have!

11. Learn new one new thing a month
Does learning how to pressure wash count? I think it does!

12. Put forth more time for family and friends
I spent an afternoon with my middle daughter this month. We went to the local pottery/glaze store and each glazed a piece of ceramics. She did a cat. I did a cool ladybug to add to my front yard display!  I hosted a painting party this month. It was so fun and only cost us $10 plus snacks and wine for everyone. I got to spend time with family and friends and made some artwork for our house too!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Decisions about garden beds

I think I am one of the most indecisive people out there!

Tonight I have been thinking about garden beds. I know where I am putting them. I just cannot decide what to make them out of. I have it narrowed down to 3 choices. Just when I think I have the decision made, I change my mind. I think I need to leave it to price. Let's take a comparison, shall we?  Now I am sure that as soon as I do this, the local prices will change and my mind will change again, but I'm gonna humor myself. So let's say I want a bed that is 50 feet long and we will say 2 or 3 feet wide. Let's figure out how much each of the following will cost...without any of the extra supplies.

Corrugated steel roofing sheets
-- 8 ft long and 25.75 in wide.
-- $11.92 each sheet.
-- I think that if I can cut the sheets in half, it would be perfect!
-- There is additional cost of screws and corner posts.
-- The approximate total without the additional costs for 48 feet would be about $83.44 plus tax. This would be for 7 sheets, providing I can get them cut in half.

Cedar planks
-- 8 ft long and 4 in wide
-- $8.42 each plank
-- This can get pricey because I would need 2 planks for each side.
-- There is additional cost of screws and either braces or brackets for support.
-- Cost without the additional costs would be about $ for 48 ft long is $218.92 plus tax. This would be for 26 planks. 12 for each side for 24 and then 2 more to half for each end.

Cement blocks
-- 16 in long and 8 in wide
-- $1.42 each
-- I like this idea because it is simple. I just lay the blocks and that's it! I can add an additional layer on top anytime I want.
-- Total cost $147.68 plus tax for 104 blocks

Friday, February 19, 2016

The forgotten pig, the dryer, and the jeep = Broke

So it is the 19th and we are already about broke!


I thought we were doing okay, but I guess we are not.  I need to balance the checkbook again to see where the money is going. I "think" the man is mostly responsible, but who knows.

We were doing great with the grocery budget and I really thought we would easily break that $800 budget I had planned for the month. Then I was reminded of the pig. I had planned on going in with a friend on an organic pig. I really do not remember saying for sure I would, but I must have because I get a text stating the pig was ready and I owed her $350.  CRAP CRAP CRAP. There went the grocery budget for the month. I not only used up the budget, but I went over. ARGH!  Oh well, on the bright side, we have enough pork sausage, pork chops, etc to last awhile!

Why dont they make appliances like they used to?  I mean seriously!  When we were maybe 5 or 6 years into our marriage, my nana wanted a new washer so she graciously gave us her old one. Her avocado green one from who knows when...the late 70s maybe?  When we got it it ran perfectly and it was already over 20 years old. It lasted us several years before we got a new one. Honestly now that I think about it, I think we only got a new washer because the dryer went out. I think we purchased a set. The darn thing probably still worked when we got rid of it!  When we moved to the south 7.5 years ago, we bought a new set that could be stacked.  It has only been 7.5 years and they are sputtering out.  The washer functions fine, but leaks at times. The dryer?  That thing is possessed. It will begin to beep in the middle of the night, the middle of the day, while it is drying clothes, whenever. It only stops the random beeping when we unplug it. Now it doesnt ALWAYS beep. It may go a few days or even a week before a random beep escapes, but that is rare.  Besides the random beeping, it decides how long it needs to dry clothes and that decision isnt always accurate. This past week I had to turn the darn thing back on 5 TIMES and the clothes were still wet!  I was not about to go out and buy a new dryer. I was going to get that thing drying or else a laundry line was going to be installed, by golly!  I was watching Youtube videos. I was googling answers. The plan was to diagnose what was wrong (like it was a patient of mine or something...haha) and then fix it.  After spending over an hour researching, the man go into the laundry area, unplugs it for a minutes, plugs it back in, and turns it on. Thirty minutes later, dry clothes.  I did not know whether to kiss him or give him the stink eye!  Whatever, The clothes got dry.  Crisis diverted!  For the time being.

In addition to the forgotten pig, the possessed dryer, we have the jeep.  Well, the man's jeep. The check engine light has been on for most of a year now. Normally he wouldnt care, but it is inspection, tax, and plates time for it. It wont pass inspection with the engine light on. He had an idea what was wrong since he has replaced a few other things it could have been without success.  That darn catalytic converter.  He went to one place and they tried to "trick" the jeep. Nope, its too smart. Then they gave him a quote for $250. He decided to get a second cost from another place (a national brand place at that).  They quoted him $1600, Ummm...really??  I guess it all has something to do with where they get the part.  I think we will stick with the $250 quote.

So THAT is the reason we are broke and it is only the 19th.  I mean I have reserves we could dip into, and we may have to, but I was so trying to avoid it!  Maybe I can get the man to help me list some things on Craigslist?  I'd rather sell some stuff and declutter than dig into the reserves!


Maybe next month will be easier?!?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Renew on a nickle

I've been watching Fixer Upper and Design on a Dime on Netflix lately. I'd rather be watching Breaking Bad, but that is the show I watch with the man so HGTV shows it is when he isn't home.

I've decided that after living in this house for a few years now, I am ready to make it more homier. Of course, I am also ready to be out of debt so how do I decorate with a non-existent budget?

1. I scour for free items on Facebook groups and Craigslist.

2. I also snag up items that friends are throwing out.

3. Another idea is to reuse what I already have, and being a reformed hoarder that hasnt completely gotten rid of her hoard, I have plenty to pick from!

4. Thrift stores are also a great way to score some goods!

Since even the budgets that Design on a Dime has is too rich for my blood at this point in time, I've decided to rename my redo as "Renew on a Nickle"

Like it?  I got a good giggle from it.

Now, to decide what area to do first!