Monday, January 30, 2012

A Tour

I finally remembered batteries for my camera and decided to show off the main level for you guys.  As I've said before I have no desire to show you some warped version of what my house (or life) really looks like, so I took this in the middle of the afternoon - Henry had been playing in the living room for a while and there were still dishes in the sink and way too much stuff on the kitchen table.  (There's no talking, but you can hear Henry babble if you want to.)


video 

 Since the point of this blog is show ways of "Making Do" I thought I'd highlight a few things to help emphasize that you don't need to go out and spend tons of money to have a nice home.*
*Going out on a limb here hoping that at least one person thinks that my home is "nice" and doesn't look horrible and patched together

 Mantle "Stuff"
all free from the consignment store
Picture - 
The only decent thing I painted in my college Painting class that my mother framed years ago and then gifted us when we bought the house.
 Toys
90 % Second Hand, 5% Home/Hand Made, 5% Gift
Quilt
Homemade Baby Gift from Relative
Poster
Souvenir from Concert, Pants Hangers from Goodwill
 Items in Top Middle Frame - 
WWII Allied Currency from Italy, brought home by my Grandfather
Other Frames - 
Souvenir Postcards from "Honeymoon" to Portland
Books - 
Classics (many gifts from our childhood or from relatives), Photo Albums and Family Bibles
Flowers -
Wooden Roses (an anniversary gift) in vase from Goodwill
Cross Artwork - 
Bought from an actual store ... on super clearance
Hammer and Nail Tins - 
Been sitting on the counter for two weeks


Book Shelf - 
Thrifted
Orange Lamp - 
Hand Me Down
Plant - 
Hand Me Down - The Hospice Gift given to my husbands family when his Grandfather passed, given to us when we moved into the house.
Children's Chair -
Christmas Present from Family - Thrifted
Lazy Boy Chair (you can see the top of it) - 
Hand Me Down
Flower Pictures
Store bought, Buy One Get One for a Dollar Sale + 30% off coupon
Girl in a Green Hat Picture -
SCROLL DOWN FOR STORY
Couch
Consignment Score purchased on a 50% off Store Wide Sale
Ottoman -
Hand Me Down and in the bags some thrifted clothing waiting to be washed
Hutch -
Hand Me Down

Really, save for books and a few odds and ends, there is little in this room that wasn't owned by someone else before us - whether we purchased it or it was given to us.  
And lets be honest, my home will never be shown on any fancy "design" blogs and absolutely nothing matches or even comes close, but I'm still house proud - We have a comfortable, cozy little place to call our own and we've done so without spiraling into debt or consuming extravagantly.

I share this little view into our world not to brag or make anyone feel bad (there's too much of that in the blogging world already, both intentional and unintentional), but rather to show you what can be achieved with a little patience and little of the old "Make Do" Spirit.  I hope you've enjoyed it!

Girl in a Green Hat Story - 
This is actually a picture of yours truly, when I was in 5th Grade.  My Grandmothers children's Library was putting on a "Fashion Show" with vintage clothing and I got to be in it.  I didn't get to wear what I wanted and was in a bit of a bad mood.
Unknown to us there was an artist in the room doing sketches.
About a year later my Grandmother attend a gallery showing of a local artist and there glaring staring at her was her granddaughter.  I don't know why see chose to make a picture of me, but there it was.
My grandparents arranged to purchase the picture - the original - for me and I "officially" took possession of it when we moved into this home.
It's a great little piece of family history, except that when I look at it all I can think of is a grouchy little 5th grader.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ups & Downs

Since there are still a few more days left in the Frugal Challenge I thought I repeat last weeks "Ups & Downs" -
  • Up - Received last utility bill to double check budget and things are still looking up.
  • Down - We've been pretty lax about the budget over this first month and a half; not enough to get us in any sort of predicament or extra debt just not as good as I know we can.  We've had holidays and all the little things that come with setting up a new home, some budget redecorating, a growth support and a little wardrobe restock that needs to be done.  I'm hoping my March we'll be back on track with our miserly ways.
  • Downs - Had to do a little wardrobe restock for the hubs - he doesn't have a lot of luck at the consignment shop - as he puts it "Guys like me, who are my size wear stuff until it falls apart" and it's seems to be pretty true seeing as most of what we find that could fit him easily fits into the "my girlfriend/mother/great aunt bought me this and now I'm getting rid of it".  This all means that we usually have buy from directly from the store which equals $$.
  • Up - I also needed a little wardrobe restock, but have tons of luck at the consignment store because my size falls into the category of "Ooh this is on sale and if I don't breath or ignore that numb feeling in my toes it'll fit" so I luck out a lot.  
  • Really Up - The boy also seemed to have a growth spurt last week and need a few things to tide him over until the whether warms up (and in Iowa that could be until May), but luckily his expenses were covered by store credit once again.  Cheap clothing is good, free clothing is better.
  • Up - Due to slightly wacky schedules and family dinners with relatives we still had quite a few "meals" leftover and unprepared from last weeks grocery trip so this weeks trip was filled up wit a few restock necessities and some non-groceries items.
  • Up - Husband is on board to help us decrease the fresh food waste in the house.  We both dislike not having lots of fresh veg and fruit in the house, but we want to stick to what we know will be eaten and if this means the ice box is a little more bare then so be it.  Hopefully by this time next year a lot of our frozen produce will be fruit and veg I bought and froze during the summer and fall - improving the quality and decreasing our waste a little more.
  • Down - I'm still relearning how to cook for less than 6 people and we're still wasting a lot of veggie side dishes at the end of the week.
  • Up - Seeing that I had some cabbage I was bound to forget about this week and throw away by next Saturday I made a large batch of cabbage and noodles to serve as a side dish and lunch for the week - used up a whole cabbage, onion and 2 boxes of noodles that have been sitting in the pantry.
  • Up - Also made a fresh batch of Granola - still getting the cooking temp and time down for my own kitchen and remembered to let it cool completely this time.  Hubs declared it delicious!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Where did the week go?

Um... well... this is awkward.  I have no idea where my week went.

So for a quick "I'm still here" kind of deal a few quick updates -

What I'm :
  • Reading : A Discovery of Witches, for the second time; it's like Twilight if it had been written about mature adults and, you know, written well.  She kind of throws everything and the kitchen sink in and it's down right cheesy in many parts but I love the whole evolution/science/magic element she's added to the genre and I found the fact that she has mature adults (who are eventually "married" in the book) abstaining from marital relations, for reasons I'll let you discover, and not immediately jumping each other is refreshing. Plus, the first half of the book takes place in a library - be still my heart.  And have been really enjoying some of Jennifer Fulwiller's articles (here and here) over at the NC Register - sometimes Mrs. F is a bit much for me, but sometimes she writes some great, straight forward posts about motherhood and faith and forgets about trying to convinces people that she's knows so much about being Big C.
  • Listening to:  After my Ipod had a run in with my sons leaking sippy cup I've been sans portable music for a while.  However, I dug out an older, smaller non-Apple mp3 player I had been given a few years ago and after ordering a new usb chord am back in business.  I was particularly pleased to see that I could transfer my Itunes music and Podcasts so I've been reveling in some of my old and new favorites - Django Reinhardt, Andrew Bird, Gaelic Storm, Crooked Still, Born Ruffians, Flogging Molly, The Morning Benders, Gillian Welch  (Eclectic enough for you?)
  • Planning:  Birthdays, Baptisms, Meals, Budgets, Vacations - just about anything you can think of.
  • Taking Time to:  Rediscover my hobbies and enjoy my little one's last few precious days of baby - ness - it's breaking my heart while it swells in size.
  • Hoping: To remember to buy batteries tomorrow so I can have pictures on this darn thing again.
  • Proud of:  I correctly used the terms, voltaic and flabellum, in a conversation.  The same conversation, in fact it was in the same sentence.  And people say you'll never use that GRE vocab!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Silent Sundays

In the last year I've definitely learned to appreciate quiet; true, peaceful quiet and tonight is one of those few and far between moments when it's achieved.  The boys are upstairs asleep and I'm down in the living room catching up on life as we know it.  There's still a meal plan to be made for this week (luckily tonight was a leftover night!) and groceries and errands to run tomorrow before a dear friend comes to visit.  We had house guests last night as well, so a little peace and quiet is just what this introvert needed.

So far the to do list for the week looks pretty light:

  • Get back on top of Mt. Laundry
  • Send out email & paper invitations for a 1st Birthday/Baptism
  • Read more
  • Crafting
You know what one of the most horrible things I was told when I first got pregnant?  You won't finish a book for five years.  Honestly, that right there triggered the first of many pregnancy panic attacks and one of the reasons I try to be careful not to tell new mommy's in my life that life as you know it ends when you have children.  I'm proud to say that I've finished quite a few books in this first year and still make a point to read at least a couple pages a day of something.

Also I was pleased to discover this week that the little one is now firm enough on his feet and in his play that I can get out the thread and things once again.  Of course, I find that keeping a couple distractions close by helps when his attention wanders back to mommy (scrap paper is easily switched out for my pattern with little fuss!), but I glad to be back to a point where this is possible, for the moment of course.

How was your weekend?  What's in the cards for this week?

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Return and the Frugalness

I'm back!  The test is behind me, I've passed (unless there is some major flub) and am considered certified and fulfilled my job requirements and now have a little bit of life back.  Sadly (or perhaps to my benefit) this was a reminder of how important it will be to budget my wisely when do decide return to school in the future.  Though the best thing that came out of it was the knowledge that I know, officially, have a "skill" in the eyes of the job market.  I developed a lot of skills in my form career-life, but I now feel like I have a safety net.  I can go back to school, and job search in that field (eventually), but if the job market ever takes a nose dive again I have a qualification in skilled work that would hopefully keep me above minimum wage!  It might not sound like much, but to me it's the world.

But enough about that, I'll save my "everyone should have a clearly marketable skill" rant for another day. 

In lieu of a big post on a particular subject I'd give you a peak into the real world of our attempts to be frugal - it's ups and downs.

  1. Up - Still Meal Planning, and successfully avoiding the call to go pick up some pizzas as we had leftovers and quick (homemade) meals available last night.
  2. Down - We're still wasting too much fresh produce for my liking.  I think a change in strategy is at hand - perhaps having the hubs stop for fresh lettuce, etc. on his way home on nights when I know we're absolutely going to eat them.
  3. Up - With our final tally on our mortgage payment and our first utility bills having arrived we've got our preliminary budget set up.
  4. Up & Up - The budget, currently looks better than I had thought.
  5. Up & Down - We need to budget in a programmable thermostat into the household repairs before next winter and sign up for our utility companies "budget bill" systems as soon as we qualify (for those who don't have this option it's when the company charges you a flat fee based on your average usage to keep bills consistent during the year and the are refunded or charged the difference at the end of the year)
  6. Down - Had to restock up on socks for the little guy, who at 11 months old has been wearing size 5 shoes for months and desperately need warm, fitting socks.
  7. Down & down - These socks came from the dreaded W*mart - I'm still working on relearning to live without this store and it's proving to be a longer process than last time.
  8. Up - Sorted thru the box of "too big for now" clothes I have on hand and have a good idea of what we still need for the summer and next fall.  Will probably do a little consignment shopping this weekend at the 50% off winter sale to stock up for next year. 
  9. Up - Officially finished decorating and arranging my living room and kitchen with the help of my fabulous decorator of a mother (I'm rather decorating impaired).  With the help of some great sales and free consignment credit we added some pictures, decor items, small rugs and a little baby safety all for under $100.  I feel like I have a real, grown up start to my house and often find myself standing in my living room just enjoying its prettiness.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I'l Be Back

So I kind of sort of have to take my certification test for work on Thursday.  This is kind of sort of a big deal seeing as how it's important in keeping my job and getting a raise and well, you know, keeping my job.

So no big deal right?

Yeah not so much.

I'll be back in a few days my friends, feel free to leave me wonderful stories of your exploits over the next few days to read upon my return or when I need a break from the allegation medial method, how many grains are in a grams and learning how many of the things I can come into contact with can make you sterile*... yipee!

*Just kidding, kind of.  I don't work with chemotherapeutic agents directly and don't plan on doing so any time soon.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Early Riser

One of the strangest ways motherhood has changed me is that is has made me an early riser.  I used to work in theatre - we're night people by definition - and the thought of getting up before 9 or 10 a.m. was ghastly and if you went to bed before midnight you were most likely seriously ill.

Now, thanks in part to the baby and job, the idea of sleeping until 7 a.m. is blissful and staying up past 10 is risky.

I've quickly come to love being a morning person - the quiet and the calm of being up before the rest of the house and the joy of being able to finish errands before most people are out of the shower.

 

This morning, as calm and quiet as it is, has a long to do list.  The house needs tidying up and the larder is getting quite bare (meal planning, ho!) and there's quality time to be spent with family and some cuddles to be had.  All in all shaping up to be a good morning, even if it's finally looking like winter outside.

 Dexter and Gustaf, only some of the few decorations left by the previous owner, are quite the troopers!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dramatic Baby is Dramatic

My poor son never had a chance, his parents met while they were both studying theatre at university.
He can be quite the little drama queen. 
When he does this I like to imagine that his babbling is actually a monologue that he picked up in utero while Mommy worked on this, this and this.
What do you think he's saying?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Big and Small Meal Planning

As promised a quick rundown of our meal planning tactics.

For those who don't meal plan and turn their noses at the idea... I've been there so hear me out.  There are three main benefits to meal planning, they're quick to show their results and unlike fad diets and the like the results stick around.  Meal planning gives you these:
  1. A balanced food budget, if not money left over.
  2. Less food waste
  3. A sense of ease when confronted with cooking from home on a regular basis.
Since we moved into our house, and I had complete control over our grocery shopping and meal plans, I've been using THIS template from Life... Your Way.  Just a basic weekly planner with room from a small grocery list and then once a week I sit down and figure out the next week, planning on grocery shopping on Saturdays using these steps:
  1. Looking at the week ahead a I make a mental list of our work schedules and any known get togethers with family, friend or other constraints on our time.  If we're meeting someone for dinner that goes ahead in the calendar.
  2. Breakfast and lunch is the same old thing in this house, unless a fancy french toast day slips in on a holiday.  I keep a regular selection of cereal, yogurt, granola and fruit for breakfast and lunch is almost always leftovers, sandwiches or a macncheese treat for the little guy.
  3. Once I've seen the pattern for our week I can start doling out the recipes.  Busy days get assigned "Small" meals which are often premade homemade soups, salad, baked potato bar, etc.  Meals which can be filling and healthy without a lot of elbow grease.  These meals take up 3 dinner slots a week, also insuring that at least three of our meals a week are not meat based meals (which not only cost more, but often take more time)
  4. The other days get assigned appropriate "Big" Meals, these almost always have a meat component and require a little more work in the kitchen and currently someone on hand to lend a little baby supervision.  We get "Big" Meals 3 days a week also.
  5. One day, usually Saturday, gets reserved as a free day.  My husband works every Saturday so it's nice to have this as our planned "no plan" day where we can arrange our meal as we see fit.
  6. Once this list has been completed I can get our pantry and fridge for supplies, update a grocery chart and head off to the store to stock up for the week.
From my unofficial calculations I've been saving between $30-50 a week by planning our meals ahead of time (including money saved by not buying lunch) and who wouldn't love an extra $100 in their pocket.  That kind of savings also means I don't have to be cheap on brands or quality!

As a working mom I don't want to have to scrimp the quality of the food I serve my family, and meal planning makes coming home and whipping up a healthy meal a lot less daunting!


Word to the Wise:  On our "Big" Meal days I always make more than we'd eat during that evening.  Part of this is a hold over from the last year when I was cooking for 4-6 full sized adults and part of it is to help us save money!  My best tip for cooking more without spending hours in the kitchen is simply"
  • Make a large batch of your main course (double what you'd normally make) and let the seconds cook while you're having dinner.  Making a casserole, quiche or baked meal - whip up a double batch and stick the second in while you're sitting down.  Most likely the seconds will be ready to come out of the oven by the time you're doing dishes and you'll have fresh "leftovers" ready for the next day!
Now before I go I will touch on the "big" item I left off of my planning list - recipes.  Over the last 3 years my husband and I have naturally developed a nice rotation of recipes that we enjoy on a regular basis.  I would guess that we have about 12-15 "go to" Big recipes of varying complexity that we draw from. Which, going by our current "Big and Small" System means we have about  months worth of meals to choose from.

If you're having trouble adding variety lets see if you've got your basics covered.  In my own humble opinion everyone should have the following recipes and seasonings in their arsenal, adjusted to personal/family taste of course.  If you're missing one, look around you might be missing that key, quick "go to" meal!
  • Chicken Noodle Soup - everyone should have a homemade chicken noodle soup recipe.  It's a great way to use up the left over veggies before the spoil, not to mention leftover chicken from a previous meal!
  • Taco Seasoning - I'm ashamed to admit, but until a few years ago I thought only a select few new the secret to taco seasoning and it was a well guarded secret.  Turns out it's so easy to make and so much better when you can control the amount of salt and preservatives that go into it - a great basic seasoning can be used on any "mexican" meal you can think of!
  • Seasoning Salt - another quick, easy to make from the stuff in your cupboard.  Again, it's great to be able to control the salt and other "stuff" that goes into the prepackaged stuff.  Perfect for making a great batch of oven fries (I'll be sharing my recipe in the future) or spicing up anything you imagine grilling!
  • 5 Ways to Make _______ - Fill in the blank with your "go to" side dish ingredient like rice, potatoes or pasta.  Have on hand enough variety to make 5 meals worth of potato side dishes without getting too repetitive... you know aside from the 5 days of potatoes thing.  One thing we've lost in America is the staple food that a diet revolves around, most cultures across the world all have one key ingredient to their everyday foods that easy to prepare, high in nutrients and versatile to avoid too much repetition!
  • Homemade Pizza Dough - Pizza can easily become a healthy meal with the right ingredients and a good way to start is homemade dough - starting from the bottom up can give you inspiration to branch out and try more toppings than you might order from the place down the street (says the girl who's single handedly keeping pepperoni supplies in business).
  • Casseroles - Okay, you can laugh as this is a very "midwest" type of thing but the right kind of casserole can be a quick, healthy way to feed your family in a hurry.
  • Word to the Wise - Want a quick way to make a meal healthier?  Use this simple idea to inspire you to branch out.  If you buy it in a package or box at a store, ask yourself if you know what's in it; most likely you'll have no idea what you're putting on your noodles from that "seasoning packet" and well, when you think about it that's a little like playing "let's drink what we find under the sink".  Most likely if it comes pre-made in a box it's not that difficult to make from scratch and lets face it - how hard can it be to make "Butter and Herb" Noodles?
 I hope this gave some of you "Meal Planning" freshmen something to think about and if my style doesn't suit you, just give ol' Google a search of a variety of different ways - there's even a 6 week master plan out there somewhere!

Do you meal plan?  What's your best trick of trade for making it work for your family?  Do you see savings when you stick to it?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Frugal Challenge and Real Life

One day I'll get this blog on schedule thing down.  But Monday saw a little boy who was very content to play and have lots of cuddles while his mommy watched the Masterpiece Theatre version of Jane Eyre and that seemed like the best way to spend the day.  We're almost on the mend from this post- Christmas cold thank goodness - Saturday saw both of us in the QuickCare for a potential ear infection (nope!) and a prescription for cough syrup with codeine for mommy!  Anyone know any great "natural remedy" books?

I've got posts on Meal Plans and Small House Living in the works which I'll hopefully get more time to work on after bedtime while Daddy is at Kumdo (so proud of the hubby - 2 weeks into the New Year and going strong!), but for now don't miss today's "Frugal Challenge" post over at Frugal Sustainability; Andrea has compiled a great list on how to save money without scrimping on the quality of your food - one of the best lists I've seen that doesn't assume you're sitting on a small gold mine already!

Feel free to leave a comment to let me know you stopped by -Anyone else have any frugal or simple living goals they've been working on this year?  How are those priorities coming along?  Seen any good movies lately?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Frugal Living Challenge

Each day of the Frugal Living Challenge Andrea is giving her participants something to think about and ruminate on.  I hope to share a few of my thoughts on these topics on a regular basis throughout the challenge as well as sharing my own little bits and bobs about how we (try) to keep things simple here in Chateau Make Do.

Daily Goal: Reflect upon your thoughts surrounding frugality. What are some misconceptions that you will need to overcome? How has materialism and useless spending held you in bondage?

  •  I'm proud to say that I got out college without a lot of extraneous debt.  I had my student loans of course, but had "made do" with only a small credit car with a $1500 maximum.  In my field of study you were expected to work during the summer and that always meant footing the bill for your travel expenses, almost always by plane.  I almost always was able to payoff the expenses by the end of the summer by utilizing a companies free living arrangements.  But, once out of college, I still had to travel... a lot.  I was making 2-3 work related flights a year, on top of traveling to see my parents.  I had a wedding that I ("we" the couple actually) now had the responsibility to pay for, and jobs that didn't really pay a lot... at all.  In fact before this last year, after my "career" change I had never made over $25,000 in a year and I don't think I ever reached that amount - that was the life of a theatre worker.  I was always living paycheck to paycheck and still had to keep up with everything.  I feel lucky that we never got completely out of control with our spending - though there were times we could have used better judgement and there were times we had to pick affordability over safety for our living arrangement.  But, after having to foot the bill for a cross country move in 2009, we took a moment to add up that extraneous stuff - our still, relatively, small credit card bill ($2000), our wedding and our car and we didn't like that number; in total it was over $11,000 not counting our student loans.  That was a lot of money to us, particularly if you looked at how much (on our tiny salaries) we could have to spend each month if we didn't have those bills!
  • I feel fortunate that we came to our senses quickly and came up with a plan that would see us, by the end of 2011 free off all that debt, making progress with our student loans, savers of a 10% house down-payment and owners of home and parents all before we turned 29.  But it didn't come without it's challenges.  Even now it's hard not want to run out and charge up a credit card (we still have it, nothings on but it's there for an emergency) to beautifully furnish our new home, or go on fun trips.  But after almost three years of penny pinching (and a very generous offer to stay with relatives for a while) to pay off our debt we know that it's more enjoyable to have money available than to be using it to payoff something you bought or did months or even years ago.
  • Like I said, I think we were lucky.  Perusing personal finance blogs across the web has showed me that we made a good call in getting out of the credit and loan trap when we did and now so many of our spending habits are old hat that we find ourselves saying things like "We'll buy our next car with cash only" even if that's in 10 years.  It's nice know that each piece of clothing we own, the food we eat and the things in our home our actually ours, completely and 100% ours.
  • Is it hard - absolutely - I fight constantly with the ideas that the elusive "they" demand that I always have fashionable, new clothing ( I used to make costumes for a living - I like clothes!) or that there must be something wrong with us for not having the latest gadgets and gizmos; sometimes I just can't explain why we don't have cable and why I haven't seen that movie yet.  It was really hard for me during the last year when I found myself explaining that we were two married adults with a child who were living with relatives - for awhile I felt like it was a stamp of failure.  But then I look at what we do have and what we've achieved it gets easier, if just for a little while - we have a home of our own, we can choose good food over cheap food and we're working towards being able to care for ourselves, financially, as we get older and those are just the big things!
  • Frugality, making do and simple living aren't just buzzwords to me - they're ways of actively living your life in order to make said life a little better.  True sometimes it comes with a little sacrifice and sometimes it means doing things the hard way - but it can also be incredibly rewarding and in the day in age where rewards come so quickly, yet the effects are rather fleeting it's nice to do something that helps that warm, fuzzy feeling stick around a little bit longer.

My goals for this weekend are to see what I can make do with that already in the house.  I'll be doing my weekly meal planning and hopefully won't need to run out to the store for more than a little fresh fruit or vegetables.  Stop by on Monday for a post on how we use meal planning to keep us frugal.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Life as it is

I've been up since about 4:30 a.m.

I worked a full day at the job, plus the 1 hour it takes me to get to and from work on a non-daycare day (tack on 20 minutes for daycare days).

I came home.

We went to the bank.

We went to the grocery store.

We had grandparents stop in for a quick hello.

I made dinner while the boys played.

Ben went off  to what will hopefully be his first practice at a new dojo in years - working on that #1 priority.

Henry and I had some seriously fun playtime even though a part of me wanted quiet and a good book.

I put the baby to bed; it was a complex process tonight.

Ben won't be home for a little while still so I'll put away dinner, do the dishes, pick up the toys and probably crawl into bed and try to get in some of that reading.

Tonight is a lucky night, I get to stay up until 10, 11 if I want to push it because I start at 7 instead of 6 tomorrow.

I'm tired and still kind of sick, but in the middle of a really good book so I'll let you guess what will win out in the end.

There might be a pile of laundry that needs doing.

I'm going to ignore the last sentence I wrote.

I still have thank you's to write and bills to put in the mail and a stack of random junk in my bedroom corner that needs attending.

This won't be happening tonight.

Life is hard, it's messy, it's exhausting.

My life is probably a lot like your life.

Life is good.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Frugal Challenge

Starting January 6th I will be taking part of the 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge.  After a crazy December of buying homes and loosening our pocketbooks to share the holidays we need to buckle down again and get with the program so I'm participating in the 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge:
 

I will be open with you about our successes and failures for the rest of the month - where we saved a penny and where we blew it.  Hopefully this month will give me the chance to try out and share some of the frugal living bits and bobs I've been wanting to try out for a while!

Though the challenge hasn't started yet I'll share a little frugal-ness going on in my house.  Today I'm off to take two boxes of "stuff" to my favorite consignment shop!  One box is stuff we've set aside from the move and the came out of my closet recently!  (Not too bad considering I might have brought a few things into my closet yesterday... oops)  Everything taken at the shop, when purchased, turns to store credit for me allowing me to purchase things for the house and the family without batting an eye (can we say FREE! because it's a great word).

The shop has a huge 50% off sale in a few weeks - last year I used the same sale to stock up on winter clothes for Henry and plan to do the same this year in preparation for the next.  I already used some store credit and a 20% off sale to get his winter outerwear for next year.  3 coats (in the Midwest you always have extra coats, particularly for children) and a brand new (still has the tags) set of snow pants for FREE.  More on shopping the sale and tips for clothing children on the cheap-side later this month.

How has the New Year fared for everyone else.  Are you sticking to your new goals or priorities?  Or have some resolutions failed in spectacular ways?

Also anyone want some tuna casserole - I still can't remember how to cook for only 2 adults and made enough to feed a small army last night.  Oh well, another week of not eating out for lunch is always a plus!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Wish for the New Y ear

My hopes for you in 2012 perfectly put by a true master storyteller.

It is about 9 p.m. as I write this and I am making good on my grand New Years plans by going up to a well turned down bed, a plate of Double Stuffed Oreos and plan on breaking in my new hardbacked copy of an old favorite (as I've read my paperback to a good book demise).  I most likely will be asleep by midnight when this posts ... like I said - I'm a ball of energy covered in glitter and lipstick who's getting over a nasty cold (I can speak again, though it sounds like I eat 3 pack of cigarettes a day and wash each one down with a shot of bourbon!) and a day long migraine.  I'm that kind of awesome and apparently 93 years old.  Happy New Year!