Saturday, July 28, 2012

And she's off to The Sunflower State......

I got to host another little shin-dig, but this one wasn't for a happy occassion... Ok, maybe I'm selfish, but it wasn't happy for me....   I very very very very close to friend is moving away.... This is the friend that I've hung out with since 7th or 8th grade, roomed with in college for 3 years, had her as a bridesmaid in our wedding, went shopping with more times than I can count, and have spent so many "girl's nights" with. We had her bachelorette party two weeks away and then realized how soon she would be moving, so we had to have one more "girl's night" before she loads up her car and moves to The Sunflower State. We hated it but one of our friends left for vacation and couldn't join us : (

Map and Sunflower centerpiece

Her state information

I framed a ton of pictures of all of us girls around my living and dining room

Each girl got a picture from the bachelorette party and driving directions from here to there.
She got directions from there to here. :)

We had a ton of food...

Watched the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics....

Gave her a framed photo....

And said our good-byes......

I've cried off and on for a week or two when the realization sets in that she is moving.... she is moving away.... She told us that we weren't allowed to get sappy and cry.... so I managed to stay composed until I watched everyone drive off.... She will be home some to visit off and on, but the 8+ hour drive from there to here will make it pretty difficult for very many visits. We all wrote her notes in a card, but she wouldn't read it at my house. She was determined not to cry and make it a sad night....  One of the girls said during our goodbyes that it's not a good-bye... It's an "until next time."

That's what I keep telling myself.... she's not moving to another country or leaving us forever....
Until next time....

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Living within our means....

Cameron and I recently took a deep look into our financial status.... If you're like us, it's something that you hate to do, but it is so necessary. I went through all of our bank statements for the last 3 months and hightlighted (color-coded of course) each expense as "Wal-mart/Shopping" "Eating Out," "Gasoline," "Bills," and "Entertainment/Other." I then found the average amount we were spending on each in a month..... It was eye-opening...very eye-opening. I found that Wal-Mart and eating out are our weaknesses. Because we don't know how much my monthly income will be from month to month, we want to try to live off of Cam's income and use mine to put back into savings..... with our spending habits, we weren't anywhere close to being able to do this...

Then began the googling of ways to save money in the household, reading about couponing and finding cheaper meals. If you know me, you know that making lists is what I do... I write everything down and have lists for everything,..... so the googling led to list making...

Here are the things we already do that are GOOD:
-buy generic foods and products
-make cleaners (I use baking soda, vinegar and dish soap)
-keep our thermostat set high (It's on 78 most of the time in the summer)
-don't buy many snacks
-price compare-- buy what I can at Dollar Tree if it's cheaper
-make inexpensive dinners (we don't eat steaks, pork chops, ribs, etc)
-entertain ourselves at home (we watch a lot of movies and TV to save money)
-make own coffee (Cam makes coffee in the morning (generic) rather than stopping to get an expensive cup)
-avoid late fees (I've only paid two late fees before and it was because I screwed up the envelopes and the payments got mailed back to me instead of their correct destination. I hate paying late fees!)
-don't have a land line phone
-use the library for movies, music and books
-unplug what we aren't using (toaster, coffee maker, fans)
-aren't members to any club, gym, or organization
-try to do our own repairs before hiring them done (our dads are really helpful with this!)
-don't get regular (or expensive) haircuts or salon treatments
-use running and exercise as a form of entertainment
-buy cheap laundry detergent
-don't have credit cards-- Cam has two that he barely uses and I don't have any!
-shop around for big ticket items

Here's where we are looking to change:
-I need to start meal planning and sticking to it... we eat out way too much!
-We have a programmable thermostat that we need to re-set so that when I go back to work this fall, it will automatically adjust during the day incase I forgot to turn it up when I leave.
-Price matching..... I don't know why, but this just makes me nervous. I feel as though it's cheating the company... and I just feel so nervous when I think about saying "I have the IGA ad for that one... it's $1.99... I'm working on it though. I've circled several things in ads that I have on my list for this week.
-Coupons.... I've studied couponing, and first of all, I don't understand how they make it all work... and secondly, I don't have 40 hours a week to do this, nor the money for the sunday papers at this point... But I've printed a few coupons for things that I do buy and can save some money on
-Swiping that card... I'm guilty of not really paying attention to how much I am spending when I'm just swiping the debit card, so I've started cashing my checks and using only what I cash I have with me... and I don't take much more than what I think I will have to have.
-Pack our lunches.... we are both bad about running to a restaurant to grab lunch and those prices add up quickly!
-Buy more fruit for snacks... this is better for us in many ways!
-Downsize Netflix... Cam is going to cancel the DVDs and only use the Instant
-Shop with a list and STICK TO IT
-Cut out impulse buys....I'm really bad about this : ( It's never anything expensive, but the little things add up.
-Watch expiration dates and use before food expires
-Track our spending more closely
-Wash dishes on the 'speed clean' or by hand

Do you have any suggestions of how you save money in your household??

Until next time...

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A busy summer....

This summer has been so busy. I think we've had something every weekend but two.

Cam got to meet up with Una, a foreign exchange student that lived with his best friend 15 years ago.
They were even prom dates. They had a lot to catch up on.

We had a family picnic at a State Park

Spent time with family

Crazy dust storm across from where we live

My brother, Chad, came home for a week and got to meet the newest addition to the family, Emma

We had two cookouts around the 4th of July

Always love spending time with baby Emma

Chad never gets to stay long enough :(

Emma had her first swim. The water was warm and she loved it. I was happy that I got to be there,
and night swims are always fun.

A dear friend is moving away, so we had her bachelorette party early. We had so much fun.
I'm not sure some of us have ever laughed so hard. You can read about it on my party blog.

We went dancing!

Girl's Day at my aunt's with Emma!

A couple of friends celebrated their destination wedding with a local reception.

Can you tell Emma is kinda a big deal in the family?? She looks just like her daddy who was a classmate of mine. I could smooch on her all day. She is just a sweetheart!

We celebrated Cam's birthday. I've made his cake for 6 years in a row... it's a tradition :)
He had guessed what his gift was... he always does that!
(yes, we have an official theater banner in our extra bedroom---aka--- Cam's movie room)

The summer is quickly coming to an end....still no word on a hire in the corporation that I work for, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.... but not too tightly. I'm working on my PGPs to keep my license up-to-date and waiting for a call....someday hopefully.   We still have our huge family vacation to look forward to and then I have some major work to get the house cleaned and organized before school starts again... I need to clean out closets, paint a room or two, organize our basement.... oh, the list could go on and on. I'm only going to have about a week, so we'll see how much gets done! haha

Until next time....

Keeping things simple.... In the kitchen

I hate cluttered cabinets...hate them! When we got our new house, I promised myself that I would keep the kitchen 'clutter-free.' It's not always clean and tidy.... we have mail layin' around and such, but I try to keep the 'kitchen stuff' limited.

I got this Vera tin when Cam got me an apron as a gift a while back. I use it keep my pretty dish rags in (that I oxi-clean to keep bright!). I love having a clean dish rag within an arm's reach. I added an extra lemon from the vase I have on display. I think it adds a sweet little touch.

The things we use most often. These sit on a ledge above my sink. (yes, my ring was off. I had been painting when I took these pics)

Double spoon rest--- LOVE IT... and all black utensils sit on my counter...

so that people don't see the chaos of THIS... a mismatch of colors, styles and quality

leftover containers are organized in $1 plastic bins. Each bin has a variety of sizes and shapes,
but should have both the lid and container, so that it's easy to find.

My toaster doesn't sit out. It's right inside the door and only comes out when it needs to be out. I've read that there should be no more than 3 appliance on the counter at one time, including a microwave. We only keep two out. Our microwave has it's own little counter area, and then we keep the coffee maker for Cam in another corner. I like to keep my countertops clear of eye sores.

How do you simplify your kitchen? Any space saving tips or tricks? Any suggestions?

Monday, July 23, 2012

My first Tutorial!

Check out my tutorial on DIY glittered clothespins! It's my first tutorial....unless you count the Tale of the Turquoise door! haha

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Decorating on a tight budget

Because I still don't have a full-time teaching career yet, Cam and I have to watch our money pretty closely, so I didn't have a lot to spend on decorations for our new house.... but I tried to make do with what I could find on my budget. Here's a glimpse of how I've made it 'homey' with very little money spent.

Forrest Gump is one of our favorite movies, and my husband is a nut for movie posters, so I allowed (yes, I actually used that word. I am not a fan of movie poster in the pretty part of the house) this one in the living room. The treasure box I won at a party, the finial I got from my MIL when we she was having a yard sale and the placemat that is covering up a sticker DH put on his surround-sound speaker in college that I don't think everyone in my house needs to see... yeah, that was on clearance for $1 at Wal-Mart last year.

A-Z bookends were free at Kohl's with Kohl's cash and I turn my books around to make a more neutral decor rather than all the distracting colors of the spines.

Lemons are from Target that I bought with a GC, flowers are Dollar Tree, easel is $3 from Gordman's, serving tray was a gift and the Vera napkin was a gift

Candlesticks were yard sale finds were $1 a piece, frame was on clearance at Wal-Mart with the zebra candle ($2), and the glitter candles were on clearance after Christmas at Michael's ($3 a piece I think)

Another finial from MIL, vase on clearance after Christmas at Michael's (I think it was about $5), flowers on clearance at Wal-mart for $3 and the biscuit jar was a gift from my grandma

Faux Anthropologie T that I made with a cardboard T from Hobby Lobby and paint, free printable subway art in a Dollar Tree frame that I've had for years

Another serving tray and napkin that I got as gifts, pitcher from a yard sale and the starfruits were from MIL

potholders were a wedding gift--- they are just for pretty.... we have dirty ones in the drawer that we actually use--- and the quilt piece was made by my aunt and I used a frame I've had for years

Frame is from Wal-Mart clearance (have you caught on to the fact that Wal-Mart in my area had a huge clearance last summer and I got tons of stuff right when we moved in! I got a ton of frames were $2-$4) The cross was $1 at Goodwill.

Remnant I got for less than $2 (and I love the raggedy edges... I know, some probably think it's tacky, but I like it)... candles I got as gifts and the candle tray was $2 at Goodwill

Place was bought for $8 at Gordman's and then I used my Cricut to make the T... Easel from Dollar Tree

Scott Mutter poster was a gift

Hammered metal frame from Wal-Mart clearance ($4 I think??)

Professionally framed Scott Mutter than I scored at Goodwill for $6.... yes, you read that correctly... SIX DOLLARS!

basket is from our wedding, candles from Wal-Mart clearance, tiger is a family keepsake of Cam's, towels and clock were wedding gifts, T finger tip towel was on clearance after Christmas for 2/$1, shower curtain was $12 as Gordman's... the orange frame sneaking into the pic in the bottom right was also from Wal-Mart clearance last year

What do you think? Have you found some amazing things for your home decor at Goodwill? Share them with me in the comments!           I will post more of the small details from inside our house soon!