Saturday, July 19, 2014

Beauty All Around Us

I love, absolutely love dirt on my hands and green green grass between my toes. In a strange sort of way I'm falling in love with the tomato plants in the backyard. They're so beautiful. The fruit growing on them seems almost a miracle to me. Additionally the little strawberry garden causes me to smile every single time I look upon it.

I love that yesterday while the backdoor was open an aroma was wafting inside that smelled exactly of my Grandparent's home in Indiana that my parents would ship us kids off to for a week (or a few weeks) in the summer. Smells are probably the closest our race will ever come to time travel. I was back in Indiana as a child at my Grandparent's 32 acre wilderness while that aroma was making its way into my home. I couldn't for the life of me tell you what it smelled like, only that it smelled exactly like my Grandparent's place.

I love that I saw a bird sitting in the middle of my backyard yesterday with a bright red head and brown body, small like a sparrow, beautiful like a flower that I've never seen before in my lifetime. I think it was a house finch (I googled it). How fabulous to see a "new" bird after 34 years living very close to this very same spot on planet earth.

Beauty all around us? Yes indeed. Yes indeed!

Average daily spending for July: $19.60
$796 goal for chiropractor payment: $0

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Twenty Dollars Can do Amazing Things

Last week was my son's last gymnastics class. He really loved gymnastics. I paid $50 for the course at the Y and he enjoyed every single minute of it. His favorite part was jumping on the trampolines but hanging from the bars came in as a very close second. A day or two before his last gymnastics class I told him that "in a week" he would be getting to ride a big horsey, for real, at a farm. I booked a horse riding lesson for him about a month ago. A friend of mine has a stable with several horses and she does lessons with small kids (usually a bit older than him but she said she was willing to give it a try). I should have waited at least two more days before I gave him the big news because he was CERTAIN there was going to be a "big horsey" at his last gymnastics class. First thing when he got there he asked coach Sarah where the big horsey was. Needless to say she was really confused. I know he's only two but I'm wondering where he thought they'd put a big horsey in the gymnasium.

I had to tell him every single day for a week, "you have 7 more night nights before riding the horse." Then 6, then 5, and so on. He would not stop talking about it. I paid $20 for him to ride the horse yesterday. He got to hold the rope and instruct the horse to back up. He learned how to tell the horse to walk, "kiss, kiss, walk." He learned how to tell the horse to stop, "woah". He LOVED every single second of his hour long class. There was a goat, a dog, other horses, and chickens running all around too. He's only two. He's most likely not going to remember his first horse riding lesson but it was one of the best days of his life so far.

We hardly ever buy my son new toys. I've been collecting kids books since 1999 when I taught in a learning centered daycare center so he almost never gets new books (and anyway there's always the library). 99% of his clothes are hand me downs from other people's children and I'm very okay with that. This kid is NOT missing out on anything though. I like to think I chose my spending opportunities for him very wisely. I'd say that was a very well spent $20.

Average daily spending for July: $17.38
$796 goal for chiropractor payment: $0

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NO SPEND Beach Day

Yesterday morning a friend and I rode bikes to the beach with our littles. We spent a bit over an hour at the lake building a sand castle and digging a large hole for my little guy to jump in and out of and then we buried him. Hehe, getting buried was his favorite part of the beach actually. Neither of us spent a dime during our outing and it was fabulous the entire time. (except when riding the bikes uphill... out of shape)

I struggled more at work wanting to buy random stuff but I did not buy anything. I only worked for a few hours but I was grouchy. I'll tell you what, it is much more easy to waste money when you're tired, grouchy, angry, ect; Emotions are such drainers. I got my three in a row NO SPEND days in. Hooray! Now back to buying groceries. Ugh!

Average daily spending for July: $18.05
$796 goal for chiropractor payment: $0

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Excited About Rose Hips

Call me ignorant but I didn't know I could eat the fabulous little seed pods from the incredible rose bush my grandmother transplanted for me from her yard at least 8 years ago. I love my rose bush. First off, each time I look at the beauty it reminds me of my adorable English grandmother (who's passed as of several years back).  I marvel at it's frail pink flowers each year. I thought it was enormous at over 5 feet tall until I just read they can grow to 10 feet. I think my neighbors despise it because it spreads like wildfire. I pull up the little plants in my yard every time I see one sprout but they've totally ignored the ones that have sprung up in their yard (it's directly next to my fence). So they have a scraggly jumble of incredibly pokey wild rose plants all huddled together on their side of the fence; neighboring my lovely rose bush. I would actually LOVE to grow another bush next to the current one but that would increase the amount of annoyance plants on my neighbors side of the fence and in all honesty the woman who lives there is very mean. I don't know if she would yell at me (even more/ she's yelled at me a few times over other things) if I caused additional pokey plants to spring up in their yard. Okay, I'm running off on a bunny trail here.

I saw on one of those wild Alaska shows people harvesting rose hips and I was like, "hey, I have a load of those in my back yard!" It says on Wikipedia that rose hips are incredibly high in vitamin C, that they also contain "some vitamin A and B, essential fatty acids, and antioxidant flavonoids." Also that they contain a good amount of lycopene which is a strong antioxidant. People use them to prevent colds and the flu. They're good for your skin. You name it, rose hips are like magical fruit. Who knew? Not me.

I'm totally harvesting my rose hips this year! I can promise you the bush is totally organic too. My Grandmother never used chemicals. I've never touched it with a chemical or plant food or anything; it's as organic as they come. Do any of you know about them, have any advice, or harvest rose hips yourselves? I'm hungry for some good info on them. I'm thinking at the very least I'll put them in smoothies. It appears the best way to use them is raw because drying them out or saving them for much time diminishes the vitamin C. But Rose hip tea is supposed to be excellent for skin. Any input would be great!
It was in full bloom a few weeks ago. But it's about ready for a second round.
I intend to pin a plethora of rose hip ideas in the near future but for anything I find without a photo I will be linking it here for easy reference.
rose hip tea
I really like this write up about them too

Financial Goals, Confessions, and Update

My debt/ financial journey thus far has been one of ups and downs and ups and downs and so on. I've used the metaphor of being stuck in a hole that I'm trying to climb out of. Then there's the "climbing" a mountain metaphor. Sadly I think both are accurate; I seem to be stuck in a hole at the bottom of a mountain. I need to climb out of the hole and then scale the mountain. On the other side is total debt payoff and financial peace. Not that finances are ever easy but there is a place of financial responsibility that many climb into with hard work and perseverance. That place is on the other side of the mountain I'm trying to climb.

I started out this year really ashamed because we'd fallen quite a ways down the mountain/ hole (I'm really not out of that darn pit yet). 2012, welcoming our son into the world was the best thing ever but a real financial set back. With hospital bills, new baby expenses, un-paid time off of work, and less hours going back to work, my budget was hit hard. 2013 wasn't tons better but at least my brain had started working again. I would do it all again and again even if it meant not getting to the top of the mountain for 10 years longer than it should have taken. I started this year out thinking that if I could just really focus on my spending again, like I'd done a really great job of in 2011 (my how the years go by) then I'd be happy with that... financial payoff goals on hold. Thus, you have heard VERY LITTLE about my debt and financial matters, other than spending updates this year.

I really admire those faithful Dave Ramsey folks that sell all they have, live off of rice and beans, and hardly leave their houses until their debts are paid off. Every time I'm listening to any of them telling their stories on his radio show I totally tear up. It's amazing how they do it. In the beginning of this journey I'd imagined I could be one of them too. And to be totally honest I think I could be one of them but my other half will never be. It's pretty much set in stone that I have to work with what I've got and what I've got is an amazing man who I adore (and can't stand sometimes) who is NOT keen on thinking about money, talking about money, or being wise with money. I implore you to not be to harsh on him with your judgments. Truth is, I'm noticing more and more in life, that more people than not are crap with money. My husband is just one of those people. He'd make an excellent politician.

So, I'm trying. I really am. Sometimes when I'm trying to figure out how to balance things out, when the car breaks down, when the basement floods and I notice the walls are wet at the bottoms in my upstairs bedroom I use credit cards again. And unfortunately those times are big uses and they do set us back a lot and it makes me slightly crazy and it pisses me off but I'm working with what I have. In many ways I am one of those crazy Dave Ramsey folks but in a marriage, I am really only half a person and the other half of me is very much not apart of the Dave Ramsey crowd.

This is in no way meant to be a "woah is me" complaint post. It's more of a confession. I continue to share my story with you, even though I've slid seemingly so far down the  mountain because I do believe the other side is attainable. I'm trying to get there. Your support truly keeps me going.

I want so desperately to accomplish baby step one (in the Dave Ramsey plan) and fully fund a $1000 emergency fund but truly I'm terrified of doing so. Every single time I have we've ended up using it for a legit emergency only a few days later. I hate that darn emergency fund. I am setting one little goal today, apart from the average daily spending goals that I shoot for and little no spend day goals. I want to save up the money I need for the next two month's payments to the chiropractor. I need $796 for the next two months and I have been toying with the idea of charging it. That's ALOT of money for me to try and come up with but every penny I don't charge I think will make the insides of me smile all the more. There it is. It's a goal. And although it's not technically a debt payoff goal it's a debt reduction goal of sorts as it would cause my debt to not rise.

After all that jazz the good bit of news is that our overall debt has continually, however slowly been going down. For the first 6 years of of marriage it was only ever going up; and skyrocketing at that.

Average daily spending for July: $18.05
$796 goal for chiropractor payment: $0

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Simply Splendid NO SPEND Saturday

Little Abe and I went for a nice long walk this morning with his Aunt Nikki (she's really just a friend but he's been calling her "aunt") and Nikki's little son. I said nothing about a no spend day or not spending money and she bought me a coffee and little Abe a cookie anyhow. It was so nice. It's been cloudy all day and it started sprinkling a bit while we were walking but there was something refreshing and comforting about the gentle summer rain.

I cooked up a Jack's frozen pizza for dinner. It's one of the cheapest frozen pizzas you can find but I picked some fresh basil from out back, gave it a little chop, and topped the pizza with it. I also added some sharp cheddar to the pizza.

To finish off the day I baked some apples with a toffee caramel center and a crumble topping. Very simple but really thrown together (nothing measured/ no recipe followed). Just apples, a bit of apple juice in the baking dish, flour, butter, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and chili powder in the topping, and butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and chili powder in the toffee center. SO YUMMY!!! It was the perfect finish to this dreary, cloudy, summer day. You could say that I experience a tremendous amount of joy through food and you would be absolutely correct. hehe

NO SPEND day 44 of the year was a total success!
Average daily spending for July: $18.05

Friday, July 11, 2014

Groceries, YAY!

WOW I just spent money!

I shelled out $398 to the chiropractor this morning. That's a month's payment (of very regular, like 3 times a week visits) at a slightly discounted rate. After three months of care I should go about once a month and I think that only costs $40. I am SO happy with this chiropractor. I just started seeing him when I injured my back on June 30 (have not been happy with two previous ones). He actually took x-rays and told me exactly what's wrong with my neck and back and he told me exactly how he's going to go about correcting issues. I feel a billion times better than I have in years, already, after only 4 visits. Back issues are very genetic in my family. But our insurance does not cover chiropractic work. I cringe and double cringe at a $398 payment but it's the happiest I've been about spending money in a very long time. I feel like this is just for me; that I'm actually doing something to take care of myself. I've had headaches and back pain for years. I'm not great at focusing on me. I tend to pay attention to everyone and everything else before myself and I usually don't get around to taking care of me. Anyway, there's $398 gone. Yikes!

I picked up cat food and dog treats for $24.50. Flea drops for the dogs for $37. I'm not including the flea drops in the average daily spending budget because I am considering them medical. I spent $26.42 on household items and $64.57 on groceries. I haven't spent $152.49 on any shopping trip probably in years. Whoa it feels weird. I should be able to squeak out no spends for the next three days. And even though I just spent more money than I've let go all at once in forever my average daily spend (with 3 scheduled no spends) really didn't go too incredibly high. I was anticipating it'd be somewhere around $25 a day. My, oh my I do NOT like shopping!

Average daily spending for July: $18.05
Above average considers the next 3 days as no spends

Happy Un-Birthday

Little Abe brings my husband and I at least 20 different birthday presents a day. The gifts are generally one of his little toys wrapped in a towel or an old envelope or in his blankie. He always hands the gift over and shouts, "Happy Birthday Mommy (or Daddy)!!!" with a huge smile on his face and so much enthusiasm. Yesterday morning he was playing by himself in the kitchen while I was getting breakfast ready and I overheard him talking to himself. Quietly he was saying, "on you birthday, have cake, have candles, and presents, hooray!"

I decided yesterday would make the perfect un-birthday for him so when I got home from work he and I mixed up a little cake from scratch (he LOVES baking), and some chocolate frosting (that I could never recreate because I totally did not measure anything). After dinner I set him at a side table and asked if he wanted our special cake to be a birthday cake with candles... I should have video taped his reaction. He was SOOOO excited! My husband thought it was silly but he went along with it anyhow. We sang him "Jesus Loves Me," which is his favorite song instead of "Happy Birthday" since it's not actually his birthday. Then he got to blow out the candles. It was awesome!

The coloring page idea worked out quite well too. I still haven't bought him his first coloring book but he really liked coloring in mommy's hand drawn Mickey Mouse. If you really use your imagination you can see how he actually tried to color in the lines.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Free Stuffs The Best!

My kiddo is sitting on the couch eating a dumb dumb sucker this very moment. I went into the bank this morning before work to pay the car payment and I made sure to swipe two suckers for the little guy. He's making loud lip smacking sounds and sporadically exclaiming, "yummy!" And his little giggle (which is always accompanied by this silly vibrating entire body shake if he's really excited) when I gave him the sucker was just priceless. "They" say the best things in life are free. I think "they" totally had bank candy in mind when "they" first said this.

This day is a little more than half over but I think I can safely declare this no spend day a success. It was even more difficult than I'd anticipated. I didn't sleep very well last night so my resolve was extra low. I wanted to buy a Coke so badly. I also passed by the oreos while working and it took everything within me to not pick a package of them up. I saw a coloring book I really wanted to buy for little Abe. I haven't gotten him a coloring book yet (we just scribble on plain paper) but he's old enough now that I think he'd just love one. On that note I think I might freehand some outlines of his favorite cartoon characters with a black sharpie and let him color them in: homemade coloring pages. For a two year old that would be just as fantastic I think. I also saw some clearance PJ's that I really wanted to pick up. The candy bars were calling my name all day long; sure makes it sound like I have serious mental issues. But, victory! I bought nothing and still came home with suckers.

Average daily spending for July: $13.72
My average daily spending should spike tomorrow because there are several things we need but for now I will smile vehemently about $13.72!

Boring Pep Talk, Check

I'm planning a no spend for today. The main reason I do these (no spends) is so I don't buy pointless things while working; a soda pop, snacks, some random item we "need" for home. This no spend is going to be a bit difficult as there are a few items I'd really like to pick up today. They can easily wait for tomorrow though. Tomorrow is going to be a big spend day. I need to pick up cat food, flea drops for the dogs, toilet paper (my least favorite purchase of any), plus food, food, food. Today WILL be calm, spending free, no spend day 43 of the year... fingers crossed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Strawberries and Matos

We got a Siamese twin berry today
We've picked 36 strawberries from our container garden so far. They all were yummy. They mostly all were beautiful. The count would be higher but my little Maggie girl discovered the neat little pot in the backyard had edible stuff in it a week or so ago and started scarfing up the ripe berries. I watch the dogs when I let them out so I've stopped her since but we lost a few berries in the interim. It's practically bursting with berries right now.

This is insanely exciting to me as well. Look at that darling little guy!!!
I spent $4.03 today after deposit bottles; mission accomplished.

Average daily spending for July: $14.99


Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
-John F. Kennedy
If I can spend $4.09 or less today then I'll be at $15 a day spending for July so far. I think I can manage that. I'll take back a few deposit bottles too and that will give me a little cushion in the spending. This is the direction I head in today. It's little but it's something.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

June Numbers Are In

The below list is a simple summary of all our cash outflow for June minus my husband's spending (which includes his lunches and any spending strictly for himself; ie going to lunch with a friend, picking up beer for band practice, ect).

Home expenses $1133.28
Vehicle expenses $376.35
Utilities $270.42
Credit card payments $667.19
All spending $511.70

Each of these categories has several things inside of them. For example home expenses includes the mortgage payment (and escrow), and equity line. Vehicle expenses includes the car payment, gasoline, and car insurance.

Average daily spending for June: $17.05

I wanted to spend a ton less this month but I'm pretty happy with $17.05 a day. It's my 3rd lowest spending month this year and I think it's the first time this year I've put more towards credit cards than what I spent for the month. For July I'm hoping to at least come in between January's $15.66 and March's $17.01. Looking at the pattern that's developing my spending this month should be over $20 a day BUT it doesn't have to be. Try, try, and try again. Ahhh, life!

January $15.66 a day
February $20.27 a day
March $17.01 a day
April $19.99 a day
May $20.55 a day
June $17.05 a day

Average daily spending for 2014: $18.31

This was at Shedd. It was the munchkins favorite part of Chicago.
He's his father's son for sure;
loved the 4D movie more than anything else in the big city.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Brand New Children's Book Coming Soon (there's an intense amount of sarcasm in many of my titles)

It's like one of those "if you give a mouse a cookie" books. What do you all think, would anyone read it?
After I typed this all out I realized I have to put in a disclaimer: the following is graphic and disgusting. Proceed at your own risk.

If you injure your back badly enough you'll end up crawling through the house in pain.
While crawling through the house you might vomit that one banana you ate for the day all over the floor.
After throwing up on the floor you'll beg your 2 year old to fetch you the dirty towel over there to at least cover up the mess.
Because you were crawling to the bathroom, left the door open while trying to get to a towel, the dog ate the bathroom trash.
After the dog ate the bathroom trash he got sick and started pooing all over the house. (combination of horrible weak nerves because it's the week of the fourth and fireworks are the end of the world for him and he gets sick when he gets into the bathroom)
I need to start a new chapter: After injuring your back your husband gets really upset/ let down because you had plans to attend a concert in Chicago with him (tickets bought and hotel room pre-paid (no cancellations)).
You go to Chicago anyway because of the pre-paid hotel room and spend way too much money on the trip because you don't want to further frustrate the husband. (couldn't go to the concert because there's NO WAY I could stand that long... Mother in law came along to help... that's a whole other story but actually kind of funny).
And instead of walking down to the real fireworks (the pain in the butt ones that are slowly killing my dog that my neighbors have been setting off for a week I just don't even consider fireworks anymore) last night me and the little one watched them from the back yard and I got stung by a bee. Yep.

Okay, it's a crap children's book and kind of thrown together. I could have included so much more but it got depressing after a bit. Needless to say I've had a LONG, LONG, longest week of my life it feels like, week. And now we're on our way to Detroit for a party with my Dad's family and my dad is upset with me for something stupid... For real I feel like I'm being punched in the face from every direction, metaphorically. I want to find a cave and hibernate for at least a month! Anyone know of available caves right now?

I found an amazing chiropractor though. I've done a lot of praying. My back feels a billion times better than last year when I injured it not nearly as bad. So in the grand scheme of things I'm doing great but I feel like I was in a car accident, like everything is just weak and stiff and shaky and my head is a little foggy. Also my brain isn't working too well.

I was trying to not dump this all on you guys but I caved. Sorry.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Sweet Peas in July

The constant boom of fireworks is telling me that it's really July already but I'm having a difficult time believing it. My oh my how time flies! Might I add however the sweet peas in July are as lovely as can be. Chain link fences aren't the most gorgeous sight to behold but they do look pretty snazzy with climbing pink flowers growing all over them. My husband's grandma planted these decades ago (we bought his grandparent's house when they passed). These beauties are hardy little buggers!

Happy July 4th to all my fellow Americans!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Strawberry Yum

Average daily spending for June: $17.64

Yikes! At this point I think I'm going to be happy to have the average daily spending for the year under $20 a day. Sigh. My goodness I'm not doing well this year... but trying still!

Another yikes: the cheap eggs at the grocery stores I shop in just went up to $1.99 a dozen. I now feel like I'm robbing my new egg lady. She's selling her free range, GMO free brown eggs for $2 a dozen and the grocery store is charging only a penny less for their bottom of the line factory farm eggs. That seems crazy! Want to talk about inflation? The cost of everything just keeps going up, up, up! And I haven't gotten a raise in just about forever. I feel SOOOOO blessed to have my husband working close (we're talking 3 minutes away) to home again!

It's probably super lame but I'm keeping count on the strawberry garden. We've picked 14 beautiful strawberries out of it thus far. The little garden cost $11.31 and it's been a source of gorgeous fruit, incredibly good learning for Abe, daily fun (checking on it and watering it), and is covered, just covered in berries right now. TOTALLY worth every penny and so much more! Even if you have virtually no yard you could plant a little strawberry garden like ours.
(the yellow flowers are behind the container not in it)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

We Have Babies

That title is considerably less exciting than it sounds.

Aren't they darling?

I picked some basil today from our backyard and put it on my grilled cheese sandwich. I felt like a real chef... it was really good! My husband passed on the idea for his sandwiches but I made him taste mine. His exact words, "I see how someone could think that tastes good." He's such a dork.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Can Tomorrow be Friday Please (or Saturday Even)

Today I worked.
Took little Abe to gymnastics.
We FINALLY got rid of the van.
I spent a few moments going over bills/ budgeting.
Oh, we ate two more strawberries from our little garden.

I'm going to have to just call today a victory based on the above and think about numbers some other time.
(I'm fearful of jotting down and adding up the numbers from the past few days)

Monday, June 23, 2014


The boy and I happened upon this little fellow on one of our walks (The bunny. Not Chesterton.) More and more I'm finding such serenity out of doors. Does that have to do with aging? Birds ceaselessly chirping, warm or cool breeze brushing over bare skin, vegetation growing as it should but so beautiful still, the whoosh of waves in the lake, the feel of sand on toes, and wildlife; bunnies, rabbits, chipmunks making their way in our world but almost living on a separate planet. My life has such little, almost no interaction with theirs but we're both here, living. That we have in common. For some reason I smile at that. I'm truly happy when I'm outside noticing nature and paying it the respect I think it deserves. There's so much almost waiting, inviting us to enjoy it's very existence without any requirement to capture or obtain anything. I wish to desire less. Is that an oxymoron?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Longest Day of The Year

Today I feel like a pioneer woman! That's a gross exaggeration but still; we ate toast with homemade strawberry rhubarb jam on it this morning. Then we headed outside. I rotated the soil in the compost pile and then brought some of it to the row of tomatoes out back. I put compost soil on my tomato plants! Come on, when have I ever been able to say that before? <smile> My kiddo and I spent most of the morning at a park by the water (it's a very comfortable walking distance from our house) where we did a nature scavenger hunt with my nephew. I wrote a list up of: leaf, stick, stone, feather, flower, acorn, seed, and you decide (my nephew picked a wood chip). We found everything plus a baby snapping turtle, a cray fish, a huge snake skin, minnows, dragon flies... We taped the eight items to the paper (not the animals). It took us considerably longer to find everything then I'd anticipated but my nephew had tons more fun then I'd imagined as well. It's been a pretty awesome natural nature-y day. Happy Summer Solstice everyone!