Frugal

Going Old School Update

This is what remains of January. Whew! It was a close call.

I’m not gonna lie…I made it through by the skin of my teeth!

The challenge was a $300 pay cut in household expenses for the month. So…we got food, basically. And animal food. Gotta feed the critters too. Instead of having a nice fully funded month I had to get crazy creative with meal planning and shopping. And not eat out. Like, ever.


A normal month is:

$450 for grocery and house

$150 for animal food and supplies

$50 for eating out

$50 for entertainment

$100 for online Going Old School (again)purchases (using a debit card and tracking each item)


In January I got:

$250 for grocery and house

$50 for animal food and supplies


Yeah… wanna know how it went?

Well, the first thing to go were all the extra categories like eating out and entertainment. Then the fun began…


Week 1- feeling good about myself and carefully putting together a meal plan and eating soup for 2 meals a week 🙂

Spent $50 at Grocery Outlet….avoided looking Wal-Mart in the eye and sped by Starbucks

Spent $30 at Restore on bunny cages (they were $5 each!!!)


Week 2- feeling OK about it all, still confident I’m gonna really show my husband my amazing will power.

Spent more than I wanted on the week’s groceries . Only $63 left! Oops!

Had to stock up on animal food. For.all.of.them. So I basically took food from our mouths to keep our animals alive. It’s ok, we’ll be fine.

$0 in the animal category. It’s midmonth ya’ll.


Week 3- Taco week! I visited my cousin and she gifted me some grass fed frozen hamburger. Worth its weight in gold! Grocery outlet had taco kits for 99 cents. Boom! Week made.

Unfortunately, the cats need more litter…..ugh! Animals steal $20 from groceries….


Week 4- I refuse to go to the store even though we are out of many of our staple items. We will make it!!!

Animals have totally had to be supplemented at this point. $50 just isn’t enough in this category.


 

Final verdict:

We went over budget for a few unforeseen incidentals (nonfood items) but on the edible items I stayed the course! I had $5 left for edibles so it is totally possible to cut back on food items IF you are decently stocked with items at home for 1-2 meals a week

We also found some good hay and bartered eggs to bring animal feed down just a bit- another savings!

We got a few sales and side jobs that were above our normal income and were able to have a night out after all! Yay!


20180127_142514.jpg
The humble casserole-another budget friendly meal!

What I learned:

If you stock up on items that are a great price then you save more (duh) kinda basic but it’s worth repeating.

You need a chest freezer. Close to date items that are discounted can be frozen for later and you can buy more meats when they are in sale and save a TON.

Stay.out.of.the.store. Yeah, it’s pretty simple but it works!

When you shop – stick to the list! Simple. Effective.

Use coupons or other money savers (rebates) if you have them. If not, just know your prices and aim for 50% off every item you buy. Think clearance, buy one get one, etc.

Don’t have a “I deserve to splurge” attitude. Know what you want (in my case a new kitchen) and recognize that it is worth the temporary self denial

It’s actually a wonderful way to teach yourself discipline. Really, it is. You don’t need a pastry every Friday. You don’t have to get a $5 coffee every morning or to eat lunch out every day. Really, you’ll live!

If you have to cook it you kinda lose the desire to eat so much. If you don’t have many snack available (snacks add up) you eat healthier and it takes a bit more effort to get something between meals. My kids made themselves a lot of quesadillas! I just didn’t really snack much and I actually didn’t miss it since I am a boredom snacker.  I just had to do something else instead of snack.

You appreciate what you have. I knew I could start over in a month and be “fully funded” but the challenge was set and I really wanted to “win” …yes, I’m silly competitive like that. Funny thing is when is had less I needed less. I stopped feeding the consumer bug and it just quit bugging me!

Overall, I feel like this challenge was a success even if we did overspend on animals and non edible grocery items.  I can definitely cut back when I need to and I feel a sense of control over our spending again.

Here’s to a new month and a new budget! Happy February!

Get Happy!, Life

Thankful 365

pexels-photo-273011.jpegThis post began the first day of 2018. The goal is to keep a “attitude of gratitude” all year long. We all get thankful in November but its a year round life people! I originally intended to post a whole year but that would be one monster post!:0 I’m going to do a daily note and then post at the end of the month instead 🙂


JANUARY 2018

Jan 1 – My husband has the day off. LOVE!

Jan 2- Sold 2 dozen eggs and got a super sweet deal on some rabbit cages. Also cleaned the chicken coop. Farm livin’ at it’s finest!

Jan 3- My sweet co-worker surprised me with a gift bag for making her lunch yesterday. How nice! I honestly love cooking for people so I’m blessed twice!

Jan 4- Ok, to be honest I forgot..oops! But I know we had a church service that night and I am really thankful for our “home church revival”. I think it’s just what we need to really get things going.

Jan 5- I’m thankful it’s Friday:) also, we now have a play kitchen in the classroom and after studying “community helpers” we have been role playing restaurant /waitress/waiter and the kids LOVE it. Added bonus * they get extra word practice and build vocabulary when they write down food orders. Teacher win!


Jan 6- The day finally came! We have the certificate to prove it! My husband is retired from the National Guard! #sorryunclesamhesminenow

Jan 7- I’m thankful for my kids. This afternoon my daughter had a friend over and all around the house were giggles, giggles, giggles. I love that! As we were getting ready for bed my 8 year old wanted to snuggle and kept saying “I need you, I need you, I need you to love me”. Really, does it get any sweeter than that? No, it doesn’t!

Jan 8- Woke up to a beautiful sun making it’s way over the mountain. I live in a gorgeous valley. #blessed

Jan 9 – My son got into the welding program we were hoping for! I’m thankful he will be getting proper training in something he loves.

Jan 10- The day has just begun but as I looked around my house before leaving for school I was just so glad I get to live where I do. Our farm is a dream come true.


Jan 11- Chicken tacos. #hungrymama

Jan 12- It’s Friday. That’s all.

Jan 13- We are officially starting the kitchen reno today!:DExcited/Nervous

Jan 14 -17- We got a little busy with the kitchen remodel so I missed a couple of days but I am so thankful it went as well as it did! Lots of light and SOOO much easier to clean without the wall in the way!

Jan 20- The kitchen wall is down and the support beam is up! Thankful for a hard working husband. And for girls craft day (I escaped the mess!)


Jan 21- Well, I’m thankful for a God who knows where I’m at. My husband has mild PTSD and though he is able to do all the things that keep a house running our lives have been forever altered by it. I’m glad I serve a God who knows and cares about our struggles. He proved to me again today that I’m still His girl even in times of frustration.

Jan 22- Noah starts welding class! Praying for angels to go with him.

Jan 25- I’m thankful I am home with my little girl…even if she is sick :/

Jan 26- I’m thankful for my silly little students. They are a goofy and fun loving bunch.

Jan 27- I’m thankful for the beautiful new fallen snow. It’s the prettiest thing ever.


Jan 28 – I’m thankful for our houseful today. We have company and its a good thing!:)

Jan 29- I’m thankful for getting a few things crossed off the list and for learning something new. And for my family and teamwork and that I didn’t have any plans today at all. Not one 🙂 #homebody

Jan 30- I’ve had my mind set on a couple of goals and it’s funny how God will use the simplest thing to give you confirmation. #morningroutine #5minuteworkout

Jan 31- I’m and day early but I can’t wait…..I made it ! Budgeting, I mean 🙂 all the way through baby!


What are you thankful for today?

DIY

Toothpaste DIY *Super Cloves*

I’m really bad about measuring ingredients. Like, terribly bad. I like to adjust recipes while I’m making them. This puts my more precise friends in a state of agitation so I usually keep up a stream of chatter as I cook to avoid scrutiny. But today for the sake of being able to replicate I am going to get exact (ish) measurements for my toothpaste recipe!
***I am not making any medical claims, use at your own discretion***

10-20180129_101941*Edit* for some reason the actual recipe and photo captions didn’t save so I am updating with the information that should have been here all along.


BASIC TOOTHPASTE RECIPE

1/2 Cup Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Ground Cloves

1/4 Cup Baking Soda

1/2 Teaspoon Spirulina

1/8 Teaspoon Salt ( I used coarse salt and ground it in my coffee bean grinder)


*Back Story*>Why bother with toothpaste? Well, during my husband’s deployment I neglected my teeth. Bad, I know. But when you are single mommin’ it with three kids and you find yourself passed out on the couch after skyping half the night (because time zones don’t care if you’re tired) you’ll understand how these things happen.  Anyhow, I had painful, bleeding and receded gums. One tooth had turned an awful dark gray color and was fairly loose. Ugh, no. So I went to the dentist and they not so gently cleaned my aching mouth and sold me a $14 tube of toothpaste that was supposed to decrease sensitivity. No support for the receding gums or dying tooth though. I tried the gunk, I mean, toothpaste and it was awful. You basically rub a thick slime on your teeth at night and wash it off in the morning. Um, not gonna work.

I just decided to go back to what had helped before. I treated my bad tooth with clove oil in hopes to heal it. It actually has regained a more normal color and isn’t loose. Yes!

For my gums I did a quick search on oral health and saw that a lot of tooth powders contained minerals of some kind, usually in clay. I happen to have lots of odds and ends on hand and this is the recipe that I like best and use daily. My teeth feel stronger and are less sensitive with regular use. And no more bleeding gums ! Double yes! While travelling I decided not to fuss with my toothpaste and just bring a normal travel tube. ( I can just see me trying to explain that mess to TSA…ha!) But….my teeth started to ache again in just a few days. I could almost feel them weakening…weird. I’m no dentist but I know when I do/do not have pain. I’m taking this stuff with me on every trip!

An added bonus* that baking soda is nice and scrubby so you end up with a brighter smile! Another added benefit is that the coconut oil seems to have a little bit of the “oil pulling” effect and I have noticed more congestion issues when I am not using my DIY paste. This one is a win all the way around! I hope you try it as see how it works for yourself. (Best results are with regular use)

20180129_102449-1525227859.jpg
Melt your coconut oil and add to a pint jar (or any other 1-2 cup container with a lid)
20180129_102523-1503423734.jpg
Add 1/4 cup baking soda to the oil
20180129_1025451480529986.jpg
Add 1/4 cup cloves to your oil and soda
20180129_1026431619600971.jpg
Add 1/2 teaspoon spirulina (for minerals) to your mixture
20180129_102140-2115276917.jpg
If using coarse salt you can grind it up before adding- this makes a nicer paste
20180129_102741-478233605.jpg
Add 1/8 cup salt and mix! That’s it!

If you prefer a more liquidy version, my friend Jackie makes this one. I’ve used it before and it does work well. (I just prefer the scrubby)

Life

Direction

My cloudy view from my room this morning. It’s a good day for hot coffee!

My son complains I drive too fast. As a new driver he is hyper aware of speed/rules/infractions. He might be right about about the speed but I see no point in getting somewhere slowly unless you are just taking in the scenery. I cannot believe life is all about the journey. The journey is just what happens while we continue living. We need direction in our lives. We are all going somewhere whether we purpose to or not. It is up to us to turn our feet in the direction we intend to go and live so that our steps bring us closer to the desired destination.  The older I get the more I know that our time on earth is so very short. I don’t want to get so busy living that I forget where I’m going. I want to reach my destination!

Home

More Kitchen Happenings

My husband is amazing when he gets on a project. Really! As soon as I got the kitchen cleaned up he brought in my new lower cabinets for the island and office desk. We decided to do a counter height desk that would match the rest of the kitchen as we now have one huge room for cooking/dining/office. We spend most of our time here and it’s all one room now so it made sense just to keep it all in the same style.

I still have my lovely door countertop but eventually it will be a beautiful island 🙂
Very bad lighting and messy due to the lack of shelving but here is our in-kitchen “office”

Our new kitchen is coming along piece by piece! I rather prefer it this way as I can try things out and adjust as needed before things become permanent.

Yay for progess !

Home

Kitchen Reno Update

This is what currently remains of our kitchen/dining room wall!
Here is a view from the dining room looking into our kitchen. You can see our “faux island” topped with a door. (it’s temporary, I promise!)
The view from kitchen to dining room.
The view from the entryway

We are still in the early stages but I am so happy with it! There is more light and it feels cleaner (despite the uneven flooring)

The next step is installing a beam and completely removing the 2x4s. So this is what my husband decided to tackle after work today. Like they say, you can’t keep a good man down!

Life

More Than Enough

I was talking to a friend the other day and we were discussing life in general.  The main theme was “subject to change”.  We are all here and living our lives and at any time could be caught up in a complete whirlwind (literal or figurative).  We are subject to the storms of life just like the rest of humanity.  We are so human.  Despite our differences there is so much more that unites us than divides us.  We are more the same than we realize sometimes.  We hunger and so we eat.  We are happy and we smile.  When we hurt we cry.

Life will pull the rug out from under all of us at least once.  It’s up to the individual how to adjust and carry on when things go topsy-turvy.  During a hard time someone once told me that I can handle it because I am strong.  Maybe, but I am human.  The more I live the more I know that I am really inadequate in so many ways.  This fact is only highlighted midst of the struggle.  It’s ok though.  I know that my needs and weaknesses are nothing for an all powerful God.  I can rest assured that I am enough.  In fact, with God I am more than enough.

pexels-photo-173665.jpeg

Get Happy!, Life

Keep On Singing!

blue-sky-merge-clouds-675977.jpegMany of our friends and family know of my father in law’s recent passing. I’m still experiencing “pockets of grief” now and then.  Like a plane ride that sails smoothly and then out of a clear blue sky you hit a little turbulence.  The other day I was driving and fighting off an ugly cry. I made it through the day just fine but as my little one snuggled up to me for our nightly chat she began to talk about missing our little beagle who passed last year.  Guys, I couldn’t help it. The sneaky tears that I held in slipped out unbidden one after another.  With her worried little face looking into mine, my daughter demanded in a whisper, “Mommy! Don’t cry! Mommy, please don’t cry!”

I wiped my face and then we sang.

“I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my pain. I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord”

As I sang I felt the weight lift and the heartache eased some.  Words and melody wiped a few more minutes away in the passage of time.  Time heals all wounds they say.  As I sang I thought of David before he was king.  He would sing to Saul.  When Saul was tormented, David sang away the troubles of the man he was to replace.  Words and melody wiping away spirits that plagued.

I remember a time when I was scared to death.  I won’t go into detail but we were in a spiritual battle.  I sang “The Name of the Lord is a Strong Tower”. It was the only church song I knew all the words to!  I can’t say that single song won the war that day but we came out victorious in the battle and eventually (after prayer and fasting) won the war too. There is something powerful in our praise.

Keep on singing!

DIY, Getting Girly

Hair

I have been working on my hair for a while now. I have naturally thin hair and fine  strands.  While it is silky and quick to fix I began to worry that I may not have much to work with in my later years. I cut out sulfates a couple years ago.  I use heat sparingly.  My new tactics include using a WHOOOLE lot more oil. I now oil the last 6-8 inches before and after washing.  I have added a weekly hair mask to my routine.  It must be all those farm grown eggs that did the trick- my hair loves it!

 

Photo on 2017-10-16 at 09.03
Here is my hair this fall. I wanted to test my hair improvement practices first before posting. I needed results.

 

Photo on 2018-01-08 at 09.28 #2
Now it is January and I can see a difference. A bit more thickness and lots more shine. Plus, the silkiness….oo-la-la!

The second picture may not be very obvious but I wound it a bit tighter and still had more thickness so I know there was an improvement.

Photo on 2017-10-16 at 09.01 #2
Here is the BEFORE on the hairline. This is the area that I notice the most. I have to be a bit creative at times when styling my hair because it can be pretty bare :/
Photo on 2018-01-08 at 09.42
Same area a couple months later. I’m thinking I’ll keep the egg masks coming!

I have been cheating just a bit.  I am at heart a lazy girl and I totally skipped the prewashing and now I apply my mask to dry, unwashed hair.  I’m going to wash out the mask anyway so I saved myself the trouble.

I have been using an argan oil for my pre and post shower oil but you could easily use olive oil for a less expensive product.

The basic hair mask I use can be found here and it can be altered a million different ways.  Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil or give yourself an extra treat by adding a fancier oil/conditioner to the mix.

Stay beautiful!

Food, Project Feed Me! #hungrymama

Project FEED ME chicken tacos #hungrymama

This meal was actually made for dinner but I had leftovers for lunch the next day. It was so stinkin’ fast (and good) that I’m thinking it might need a permanent spot on my regular weekly menu.

First off, my Wednesday schedule leaves me with very little time to make a meal. We had instituted “pizza night” for Wednesday and that was awesome but now that we are cranking down on the budget the pizza had to go. Sad, so very sad.

Here is my Wednesday:

6:30 wake up, do chores, eat breakfast, COFFEE, not kill anybody while trying to get everyone out the door and to school on time. Yes, I go to school too. (I’m a teacher though);)

3:00 School is over! Go directly to daughter’s allergy shot appointment.

4:00 (ish) Home we go! I have a whopping hour and 30 minutes to make food, feed people, make sure everyone is appropriately dressed and stay sane 🙂

5:30 Go to practice followed by church.

9:00 (ish) Go home,and go to bed….*ah*

So when I whipped these chicken tacos together I was shocked, amazed and astounded to find that I was EARLY to practice! It’s true! ( even if there wasn’t anyone there to witness it!) I didn’t keep tabs on the time but I’m certain it was less than 30 minutes in all. Of course, I did precooked the chicken.

The stars of this meal are…

The amazing, incredible time saving wizard…it’s the INSTANT POT!!!

I prepped my chicken in the morning so it was all cokked when I got home from the allergist.

The modest but multitasking jem of the kitchen…it’s the KITCHEN AID!!!

I tossed the cooked chicken in my trusty Kitchen Aid. I set the mixer to low. In about a minute I had shredded chicken. Yesssss.

It chops! It dices! It minces! And more….it’s the ECOCHOP!!!

Cilantro, lettuce and onions each got their turn in here. It takes less than a minute to chop with this thing. Im not a gadget person but I LOVE this one! You can contact me if you would like more info or look up ecochop from BONcook.

Now all I had to do was crack open a can of rotel and set out the, sour cream and shredded cheese. Oh, and taco shells!

Ready for assembly!
Don’t mind if I do…do…do…