Thursday, October 8, 2015

Number 22

22. Give out 15 compliments in one day. (preferably to 15 different people)

I've been slowing working my way through the 31 happy to-dos I wrote out for this month. I saved number 22 for today because, well frankly I like more of the people who work in the stores that I had to service today.

I did not accomplish this goal today. Although I'm determined to do so this month. I did however go out of my way to give compliments to a handful of people and it was really rewarding. The compliments were genuine. Each person I complimented was really grateful to have received my sentiment. I think I brightened the day a bit for a few different people and I've returned home from work feeling really good about today.

One of the things that is really hindered by the debt situation is the ability to give. I think more often than not giving is done monetarily. Today's little task helped me to realize more fully that there are so many ways to give without having to come up with the finances or even in today's fast paced world, very much time at all.

I look forward to attempting this to-do again another day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October Budget

We're almost a week in and I've yet to set down a spending budget for this month. Yikes! Today is the day. I've been flying by the seat of my pants for six days so back to business.

I'm setting a high spending limit for myself this month. I'm hoping to do some Christmas spending so that December isn't financially crazy. I've already had some large (for me) spending during these past six days. I want to get a few more pairs of pants, a sweatshirt, and one or two new PJ's for little Abe. Wait for it... I am going to go to a thrift store/ second hand store before I look at getting brand new clothes; inspired by the Money Secrets of the Amish book I recently read. I am NOT a fan of thrift store shopping but I'm going to give it another go. I also need cat food this month (didn't end up getting any in September), already purchased a bag of dog food, and pretty sure we're going to need shampoo and conditioner for the first time in a very long time. Don't you just hate it when your stock pile runs out!?!?

My budget for the month is $577.74 which leaves $377.78

Monday, October 5, 2015

Oh Monday, Monday!

Today did NOT start well. Between hacker problems (or a huge glitch on MSN's part) and leaving for work without having had any coffee, and starting work without having had any coffee... can you sense how great my morning was?

It's ending quite well though. And I love lists. Have I said before how much I love lists. I made my 31 happy to-dos list yesterday and today I was determined to at least mark one thing off of it. It was a gloomy coolish day all day. When I got home from work my little Abe was very wide awake (should have been napping (Oh Monday, Monday)) and in a really good bubbly mood. I made an executive decision to skip his nap, call over to his Grammy and Papa's house, and see if Papa would be willing to teach him how to shoot his bow today. I bought this bow and arrow set on clearance, 50% off at the beginning of last month. Today is the first time I've given it to him. He was in shock. Number 31 on my 31 happy to-dos for October is now marked off. And my kid is on cloud nine!

Little Abe with Grammy and Papa

For a child who wants to be Robin Hood when he grows up today was amazing. He is very, VERY proud of himself for learning this new sport. He actually got one arrow in the ring right next to the bulls eye. At first he thought it was a miraculous feat. Then he emphatically exclaims, "Hey, I'm almost Robin Hood now." You cannot help but laugh at that. Right? Haha!

Loving lists on this Monday Monday! I also see an early bedtime in the near future and some hot cider, first of the year. Oh, how I love hot cider!

31 things to Spice up this October

My list is complete.

I've been inspired by Anne in the kitchen to make an October to-do list that's less of chores and needings to be done and more along the lines of things that will make me happy. There are a few things on here that I want to get accomplished this month but I think I've put together a pretty decent list of things that will add a bit of happy spice to this October 2015. Will I accomplish everything? HA! Maybe half if I'm lucky but here's to a happy month of hot beverages, leaves changing over to their most beautiful vibrant colorful hues, nights growing longer, temperatures growing colder and APPLES! Wishing everyone a very lovely October!
  1. Create a new Pinterest board for this month of October. DONE.
  2. Capture some beautiful moments in photo. DONE.
  3. Pick out a toy with little Abe to gift to a friend of his.
  4. Bake a pumpkin pie from scratch.
  5. Leave quarters w/ a note at the quarter machines with little Abe.
  6. Go apple picking.
  7. Draw something.
  8. Fill the house with lit candles and drink hot cider or tea.
  9. Have a bon fire.
  10. Get together with a friend.
  11. Read one book for me.
  12. Read one chapter book with little Abe.
  13. Dream up a fabulous vacation all details included, just for fun.
  14. Invite someone over for a snack.
  15. Take the dogs for a walk (they usually just run in the backyard).
  16. Have a date night.
  17. Make a new lunch or dinner.
  18. Visit my dad.
  19. Make a trip to the post office. DONE.
  20. Use Olive Garden gift card. (Find Olive Garden gift card)
  21. Do a pretty debt payoff doodle.
  22. Give out 15 compliments in one day. (preferably to 15 different people)
  23. Listen to music and dance.
  24. Start collecting leaves.
  25. Hike the dunes.
  26. Craft something. (thinking altoids tin dollies/ a Christmas present)
  27. Put a box in the kitchen for Dee. (our cat)
  28. Take a walk as a family. (the three of us)
  29. Do a REALLY messy craft with little Abe.
  30. Go out of the way to help somebody.
  31. Shoot bow and arrows with little Abe. DONE.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

October Spice

Anne in the Kitchen over at "New Happenings at the table and whatever" has posted a fabulous 31 to-dos in 31 days list for October. She made it her mission to post a to-dos list of things that would bring her happiness. I LOVE her list! I particularly like numbers:

1. Remind myself of every good thing that fills my life
3. Send a "just because I care" card
7. Introduce myself to someone new.
17. Go alone to a movie in the middle of the day
24. Listen to Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Suite
31. Wear something in a color I never wear. (This might or might not bring joy.)

There are a ton of great things on her very creative list and I think this is a fabulous idea. I'm going to attempt to make a list of my own. I'm excited about this new month. New beginnings are always fun. I'm glad we have 12 months to begin a new with each year. I think filling this start to Autumn with a bunch of extra spice and happiness is a phenomenal idea!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

There's movement at the hoarder home again

All morning I've been walking to my kitchen to glance out the window at a crew of guys who are pulling piles of rubbish out from the hoarders windows (two house down from mine). Someone is standing at the hoarder's backdoor literally shoveling this man's belongings out the rear of his home. He's filled it to the brim with his collection. There have been items trying to squeeze their way out from virtually every window in his house for months now.

I'm glad someone is dealing with the mess. It needs to be dealt with. The city is talking of condemning the home. At the same time I see a pirate, a conqueror who spends his every waking hour sailing the seven seas of concrete on his bicycle collecting treasures a plenty. His secret hide out has been infiltrated (by a relative of his) and every last precious gem (or at least everything he's been able to pack into his kitchen) is being thrown haphazardly into an ENORMOUS dumpster that was dropped off onto his driveway yesterday. The dumpster is just about full now after a morning of hard work by a now dirty crew of guys in dust masks. And I don't think the kitchen is completely emptied.

I know it's a disease. I know there's something in the brain that needs to acquire, that needs to keep, that needs to possess. I know that hoarders, like my neighbor have a problem. This is a problem that reaches a little too close to home for me. I'm not a hoarder. Like me, I think most American's have hoarding tendencies hidden deep within but aren't actually hoarders. We're constantly being sold something. We're constantly being told we need something else or something newer or something bigger. We place an awful lot of self worth and identity in our things. We find joy and jubilation through the acquisition of stuff. We might not ride around on bicycles collecting discarded items on street corners but rather use our debit cards and credit cards to purchase shiny new treasures.

Watching the scene unfolding two doors down is a terrific motivating factor for me in my desires to live more simply. If someone came into my home and discarded all of my belongings where would that leave me?

Friday, October 2, 2015

And then she splurged

You know how when you have a really stuffy nose and then it clears up you end up getting this wonderful sense of delight just from being able to fully breath through your two nostrils? You know how when you're really really thirsty and you get to a tall glass of water practically your entire body says "ahhhhhh" as you indulge in the simple clear liquid? You know how when you have a horrible headache, or sore throat, or aching back, the kind of pain that won't allow you decent sleep, sits on your mind at almost all times, and picks away at you like torture, when that pain lets up and your head feels normal again, your throat has no ache in it, your back regains its strength you feel like a million bucks just from feeling normal?

The $10 a day challenge was really good for me. I WAY held back on spending during it and I am very happy that I got the overall average daily spending for the year down a good bit. Yesterday our kitchen cupboards, freezer, and refrigerator were wiped! I went to the store hungry (which my mom always says you should never do) AND after having just spent maybe 20 minutes on pinterest (this of course means that I was interested in trying out the recipes for cinnamon roll pancakes, pineapple bars, and pumpkin cheesecake monkey bread I had just pinned). I did not have a shopping list written up and I was planning to splurge.

After 10 days of really limiting my spending I came away from the grocery store with Oregon chai tea mix and almond milk (to mix with it), a bin of mint chip ice cream, candy corn (FINALLY) and store brand oreo cookies (to put in the ice cream). I think it's been a few years since I bought that chai mix. I NEVER buy almond milk. Of course I bought other things too like food and tissues that my husband requested because his nose is stuffed up right now. Little Abe specifically asked for bacon which I thought was crazy since we basically never eat it. Apparently he had some at his aunts house the other day when him and my husband were visiting over there.

I was terrified as the cashier was ringing up the groceries. I mean like imagining the total would be close to $200. When the total came to a whopping $46.46 I was not only relieved but impressed that although I was totally splurging I had also apparently practiced an unknown to me large amount of restraint. Yay! When I got home I heated up the almond milk and chai mix on the stove. Now, I'm a really big fan of hot beverages. Hot cider, hot coffee, hot cocoa, hot tea; these are the sort of little pleasures in life that make everything vastly better in my world. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a hot beverage as much as I enjoyed that cup of hot chai. I drank it feeling proud to have accomplished my mission with the challenge, proud to have not spent $200 at the grocery store, and really happy to be treating myself with absolutely no guilt associated. ahhh.

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.91

It's up again BUT under $18. I bought dog food today and spent money on Christmas. I'm very okay with a $17.91 average right now.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Super Duperly, Incredibly Awesome Soap Giveaway

My friend over at Rock Creek Soaps who donated to my first ever (and only) giveaway is doing her own giveaway now.

It's really easy to ENTER and you could win some great soap!

This wonderful small business was just starting up (they actually hadn't even launched yet) when I went to them and asked if they'd be willing to donate a prize for my giveaway back in March. They also sent me several small sample bars so I could test out the gift they were donating for my giveaway. Their soaps are awesome. Not only do these soaps look really neat with a plethora of different colors and swirls but they smell AMAZING!

Rock Creek soaps uses incredibly high quality natural ingredients, essential oils, and many of the soaps have beneficial additives like the Stardust soap with activated charcoal, which is tied with the Black Raspberry Vanilla as my very favorite of the ten soaps I got to sample. I LOVE those two soaps.

This is a very small family owned business that is just starting up, although they already sold a lot of their wonderful soaps at craft shows over the summer and are selling in some shops now. Yay! They may be new to the scene but my oh my they are cranking out an amazing product with LOTS of options already to choose from.

I'd encourage everyone who has a minute to enter their giveaway. Again, you could win free soap. Entering is pretty easy and it would show support to a little mom and pop business who very eagerly donated a wonderful prize to my first ever blog giveaway.

Okay details, details: Rock Creek Soaps has just received five new fragrances: Lumberjack, Alpine, Lemon herb, Rose Garden, and Sweetie Pie. The giveaway is asking that you comment on their blog post with which fragrance you'd most like to see made into a new bar of soap for their line, and you should get creative and comment which colors you'd like to see in the soap and if you'd like there to be additives in the new bar. After you've commented they're asking that you post a link to your facebook page telling others about the giveaway. Pretty straightforward right?

enter the giveaway here:
Rock Creek Soaps Giveaway

Oh, yeah it's a short little giveaway that ends in two days so you have to hurry over there and enter.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September Numbers Are In

How is there only one day left in September? Wow!

I'm shooting for a no spend day and thus posting September's Numbers now. This month I had ten NO SPEND days. That's the most no spends I've gotten into a single month since March. The $10 a day challenge for ten days really brought my average down and kept my spending for the month on the low end. I am very happy with how this month turned out financially. Now my biggest challenge is going to be not having an enormous upswing for October. My spending usually goes up and down from month to month. Two low spending months in a row makes me a little nervous.

Our average daily spending for 2015 is $17.65 a day

Average daily spending for September: $14.98

September averages and spending categories:
$10.76 a day on Groceries. Total $323.25
44 cents a day on Toiletries. Total $12.99
86 cents a day on Food out. Total $25.52
$1.19 a day on Christmas. Total $35.83
15 cents a day on Gifts. Total $4.5313 cents a day on Cleaning. Total $3.99
21 cents a a day on Pets. Total $6.29
$1.24 a day on Stuff. Total $36.91

The average daily spending for food groceries for my family is still sticking around the $12 a day mark for the year. My average spending so far in 2015 on food groceries is $11.88 a day.

Jan. $11.36 a day groceries.
Feb. $11.53 a day groceries.
Mar. $12.83 a day groceries.
Apr. $12.56 a day groceries.
May $11.45 a day groceries.
June $13.71 a day groceries.
July $13.21 a day groceries.
August $9.83 a day groceries.
September $10.76 a day groceries.

September 2015 Total: $449.31
NO SPEND day 76    9.30
Groceries $23.03    9.29
A gift $2.39    9.29
NO SPEND day 75    9.28 
Groceries $10.10    9.27
NO SPEND day 74    9.26
Soap $10.40    9.25
Groceries $8.42    9.25
Groceries $11.73    9.24
NO SPEND day 73    9.23
NO SPEND day 72    9.22
Groceries $26.16    9.21
Cat littler $6.29    9.21
NO SPEND day 71    9.20
NO SPEND day 70    9.19
Groceries $37.10    9.18
Detergent $3.99    9.18
Groceries $15.01    9.17
Lunch $1.06    9.17
Lunch $16.20    9.16
Blue bird $2.14    9.15
Groceries $25.08    9.15
NO SPEND day 69    9.14
NO SPEND day 68    9.13
A new toothbrush for Abe $2.59    9.12
Coffee grounds $21.96    9.11
Groceries $35.33    9.11
Groceries $13.57    9.10
Christmas present $23.85    9.10
NO SPEND day 67    9.9
Groceries $14.96    9.8
Frozen drinks on our walk $8.26    9.7
Groceries $8.65    9.6
NO SPEND day 66    9.5
Groceries $30.70    9.4
Doggie joint medicine $16.83    9.4
Groceries $22.22    9.3
Compound bow $14.23    9.3
Christmas present $11.98    9.3
NO SPEND day 65    9.2
Groceries $19.23    9.1
New pan $16.68    9.1
Book $6    9.1

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Day nine of $10 a day (for ten days)

One more day to go! I need to buy cat food and dog food pretty much first thing next month. I'm kind of excited to go grocery shopping for real and not just pick up four or five essential items that I need in order to make a few meals. But I'm really happy with how this $10 a day challenge turned out. 

I did not go into it with the cupboards and fridge all stocked up and still I was able to buy a few items here and there and get really creative with what we did have. One of the main things I changed these past nine days was eating considerably cheaper proteins and we had a few unintentional vegetarian days. We ate kind of a lot of eggs, I found that pork for $1.58 a pound which went a long way, and we had a few different meals with canned tuna fish. I am going to try harder from now on to incorporate more inexpensive and good sale proteins into my grocery trips. We really eat a lot of $3.99lb ground turkey which obviously shoots up my grocery bill.

I also did not buy any food while working and I did not eat out. Even though I never spend very much on food while working, not spending anything does bring down that daily average.

The $10 a day spending was not just essential food items. I did purchase cat litter, some pricey bar soap, a small gift for a friend, and I brought home two boxes of ice cream bars (totally a luxury food). I was still able to buy some essential to us food that is a bit more on the pricy side. Little Abe loves string cheese, which I purchased twice. I pretty regularly buy him organic yogurt (Stonyfield is our favorite) in the tubes, the kind they sell specifically for kids which I then freeze and he eats as popsicles. I try and find the yogurt tubes on sale but I did purchase one box (I'm pretty sure it was at full price) while doing this challenge.

All in all this challenge was yet another discipline exercise for me and I learned a few things from it. I'm planning for a no spend day tomorrow but I have $1.48 left in my budget so I'll probably get myself a treat while I'm at work tomorrow.

Spending rundown today: $23.03 on groceries and $2.39 on a small gift for a friend.

My budget for the month is $450.79 which leaves $1.48

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.65

Monday, September 28, 2015

Day eight of $10 a day (for ten days)

Pork stew is on the stove (for the second time; I didn't make it the other day when I was planning to).
Today I'd planned to buy butter, raisins, and cheese sticks and then ended up not getting anything.
I still haven't gotten any candy corn.
There are two days left in September. That's kind of crazy, right?
I'm sort of in love with one of the Christmas presents I've been working on. I suppose that could turn around and bite me though. If I love my gift more than the recipient, hm, not an ideal situation. It's totally not for me though. I am making it very specifically for my eight year old niece.
And that pretty much wraps up Monday.
Time for dinner.

Spending rundown today: $0, NO SPEND day 75 for the year.

My budget for the month is $450.79 which leaves $26.90

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.68

Fun on the beach

Yesterday around six o'clock the little guy and I headed to the beach for a Sunday evening stroll. We brought his football and my camera. The two of us spent an hour together walking on the beach, chasing the football, playing in sand, looking at tiny shells and feathers. There was a little bit of seagull chasing and lots of giggling. He insisted on making a "sand castle" in the middle of the beach with dry sand. I didn't have the heart to tell him that his pile of sand wasn't a castle. He was so proud of his sand pile.

We live really close to the beach but we don't head down there super often. There are usually a lot of people there and honestly the beach is not nearly as fun or memorable when it's covered in bodies. Yesterday was perfect! It was an overcast evening with just enough slit in the clouds for a beautiful pre-sunset glow. The cool (but not cold) breeze seemed to be keeping the people away. Or maybe people have just stopped visiting the beach since it's officially autumn now. The waves were small but the sound of them was just loud enough to carry away every stray thought and calm ones mind. The sounds of seagulls calling to each other on the beach (or yelling at each other; seagulls are very feisty birds) and waves breaking on the shore are some of the most calming sounds I've ever known. It was the perfect evening. 

This little dude kept telling me, "this is my best day ever." He's very easily entertained but it was really a perfectly wonderful evening. Truly the both of us are pretty easily pleased. A beautiful sky, the soothing sounds of nature, calm quite fresh air out of doors by the lake, and fun, good quality time spent together; THAT is the most perfect of free fun!

The sky was overcast most of the evening. No one here was able to see the beginning of the eclipse but the clouds broke just in time. Shortly before the moon turned red there wasn't a cloud to be seen. My husband was at work but little Abe and I watched the red eclipsed moon together. Even though he does not understand what he saw it was pretty special.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day seven of $10 a day (for ten days)

One of the Money Secrets of the Amish is to "Use it up, Wear it out, Make do, or Do without." If that's not a frugal principle then I don't know what is. Lorilee Cracker the author of the book points out that one of the aspects to this principle is "shopping your own home." I decided to do this while brainstorming Christmas crafts. I went upstairs (sort of a giant storage area for us right now) and brought down a ton of boxes full of things to get started with. I knew that I had a lot of fabric and different colored threads to work with but all the other treasures I found are still astonishing me.

My Christmas gifting ambitions are going through the roof now. I may need those of you who are praying folks to say a few for me. Out of the six nieces and nephews on my side I've decided what I want to make for four of them. I think I've come up with some pretty neat ideas BUT I'm not very good at following through with my lofty plans. As it stands right now I should only need to purchase one very small item for one of the four gifts. I have everything on hand otherwise. And ideally I will be able to get the one missing item from Jo-Ann with the remaining balance I have on a gift card from my birthday. Woohoo!

I think I also might need to purchase a Christmas presents and Christmas cards scheduling planner to keep on the ball... I'm totally joking about that BUT some serious organization, planning, and time management skills need to kick in here. EIGHTY NINE days till Christmas!

Spending rundown today: Milk, eggs, coffee filters, apples, and bagels: $10.10

My budget for the month is $450.79 which leaves $26.90

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.75

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day six of $10 a day (for ten days)

The pork stew on Thursday turned out awesome. I decided I was going to make it again with the pork I have left but needed more onions and garlic. Yesterday while picking up the onions I learned that a 3lb bag of onions for $1.99 was buy one get one free this week. "Hm, what in the world will I do with 6lb's of onions?" I grabbed two bags and figured I could always give some away if need be.

When I got home I decided to look into making some sort of onion soup. We're not real big soup fans. (I do not lump a stew in with soups) Often times soups are high in sodium and my husband has been managing high blood pressure for years. He also gets debilitating migraines from MSG*. Broths and stocks either have loads of MSG added to them or mask a naturally occurring kind (which should not give him a migraine but he's ruled out eating any sort of stock or broth or anything made with one regardless).

Now onto my soup. I chopped up an onion, caramelized it in some oil and butter, then added two minced cloves of garlic. Once the garlic was cooked a bit I added some flour to the pot and made a rue. Then I added water, salt and pepper. A potato was quickly peeled, chopped and thrown in. I also added a small amount of balsamic vinegar. The whole concoction simmered for a half hour before I threw in a handful of frozen corn. And whalah, onion, potato and corn soup with no broth, stock, MSG, or seasoning packet thrown in and it turned out really well.

Baking and cooking has become quite the adventure for me. Between trying to cut food costs, having a garden during the past two summers, and delighting in the beautiful transformation of food as it cooks or bakes I'm learning to make so many things truly from scratch. When I began this debt payoff journey my husband and I ate out all the time. That seems so long ago that it's almost hard for me to remember living that way but eating out regularly was our way of life (our very expensive way of life). I love how much we've changed during this journey!!!

A huge bonus: when the pork stew was simmering away for two hours on Thursday my entire house smelled just like my Grandmother's kitchen in Indiana, the way I remember it smelling when I was a child. The aroma of the stew instantly transported me back to wonderful memories, very old but not forgotten wonderful memories. It was a delightful surprise to happen upon that fabulous aroma while making dinner in my very own kitchen so very many years later. My grandparents have been gone for a great deal of time and the smell of the stew was sort of like receiving a heavenly hug from the both of them.

Spending rundown today: $0, NO SPEND day 74 for the year. I did however purchase soap online, from my friend in Montana @Rock Creek Soaps yesterday. That adds $10.40 to my spending tally. Totally unnecessary purchase but I could not resist. Really, I couldn't. Plus, I'm very very pleasantly surprised at how far I'm stretching our food and how creative I've been getting with meals during these past six days. Other than milk and eggs I actually don't think I need to purchase anything tomorrow either.

My budget for the month is $450.79 which leaves $37

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.78

*MSG - mono sodium glutamate is a known trigger for migraines. My husband has dealt with very bad migraines most of his life. He used to get several a month. He slowly started to identify foods that he thought triggered them. When he learned about MSG as a likely trigger he also discovered that ALL of the foods he identified as triggers had MSG in them. That's when he totally cut MSG out of his diet and his migraines stopped. He gets one on occasion and it's always after he's eaten something new that he either wasn't able to read an ingredients list on (like at a small restaurant that can't find an ingredients listing) or the new food had something in it that masks MSG and on virtually every occasion he's second guessed if he should eat said food or not.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Day five of $10 a day (for ten days)

I put candy corn on my shopping list today. I was so excited. And then the store I was working in today only had the name brand/ didn't have the store brand. The name brand candy corn, on sale this week for $2.99 is at least twice the cost of the store brand. I couldn't do it. I can't tell you how long I stood there staring at the $2.99 package of little orange, yellow, and white triangle delights. I wore a look of absolute defeat on my face. I was looking forward to that purchase all morning. (yes, I have issues) The good news is that while in my miserable state of doing whats right (not getting the $2.99 candy corn) and feeling so let down (by not being able to get the cheaper candy corn) I resorted to another seasonal candy. I bought three boxes of candy canes on clearance after Christmas last year for around 15 cents a box. There are now four candy canes left out of those three boxes and while they don't evoke that same autumnal delight that the wonderfully addictive and sugar comma causing candy corn do, the peppermint goodness is still very enjoyable.

Spending rundown today: $8.42 on groceries.

My budget for the month is $450.79 which leaves $47.40

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.81

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Day four of $10 a day (for ten days)

Today was difficult, resolve wise. Thursday's are pay day. I'm coming off of two no spends in a row. It feels like we've been surviving on crumbs (we haven't but food is limited). I did NOT go into this little challenge all stocked up, on the contrary. I really wanted to spend, spend, spend today.

Instead I bought a few groceries and flour (one of the many things we're out of) after accidentally making brownies yesterday; I started to make chocolate chip cookies and only had half the flour I needed. I already mixed up the batter when I realized the flour was almost gone so I put all of the flour in, added about 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, and put the batter in a small glass baking dish. We ended up with some pretty decent brownies instead of cookies.

Tonight we're going to eat some awesome pork stew (I haven't made it yet). I bought a pork loin for $1.58 a pound. Considering that we mostly eat ground chicken or ground turkey which I have a difficult time finding for under $3.69 a pound and we've eaten a lot of eggs over the past three days I'm super duper looking forward to this soon to be pork stew.

I'm went over budget today by $1.73 and I was already over by $2.45 so I'm getting a little ahead of myself for this challenge but the month is not over and my spending is definitely down. For now that's a win.

This little ten day challenge has really gotten me thinking. There have been so many things that I've refrained from buying already in these first four days. We've eaten some even cheaper than normal meals (like two days in a row of eggs and leftover mashed potatoes fried). Mostly because of comments I've gotten on other posts, there are times when I'm typing out these updates I feel like people are reading this and wondering why I'm torturing myself, or picturing me really struggling. We're not struggling. In the first place I could pay some of the remaining September bills a few days late and all would be well. I don't want to. In the second place challenges like this really do grow my resolve, help instill needed discipline in my life, and they open my eyes even more to realities that a lot of people face every single day, the reality of not having enough money for food. I'm not necessarily comfortable trying to buy $10 worth of groceries when my fridge is almost empty but more good then anything results from times like these.

Off to make some pork stew! (I've never made pork stew before. I'm just going to do the same thing I did with the goose, but I have potatoes to add this time)

Spending rundown today: $11.73 on groceries.

My budget for the month is $450.79 which leaves $55.82

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.84

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day three of $10 a day (for ten days) AND CHRISTMAS

Yes, Christmas. Ah, Christmas, tied for first for my favorite of all Holidays. I LOVE that it's not just a holiday but an entire season. I LOVE that it's a time to celebrate the most important and most special birthday of all time. I LOVE that it really is a time for giving and the simple fact that it's an entire season means many different wonderful gatherings with loved ones. Oh the music! Oh the decorations! Oh the snow. (I really like snow)

I know, Halloween isn't even here yet. Why am I writing about Christmas? Well I'm pretty sure that my strongest love language is gift giving. But gift giving at Christmas drives me batty, can get me a little depressed, overwhelms me beyond belief and as much as I love to give gifts I walk away from the wonderful Christmas season each year feeling that I did not hit the mark. Still, after all these years, after the frugal hurdles I've scaled, after the penny pinching tests I've passed I am never satisfied with my own Christmas time gift giving. No one else that I know is really frugal like me. I do not think they truly get me. It's a serious area of pressure for me. I have a big family and there just isn't money in the budget to give extravagant gifts to everyone, or anyone for that matter.

Last year I bought dollar store gifts for my nieces and nephews. The game that we played with them was really fun, there were a lot of smiles and laughter and they seemed to enjoy themselves a lot but I felt like a cheapskate. I did not buy gifts for my dad or his two kids (we don't see them very often but they ended up being at the family Christmas party and it was awkward not having gifts for them). My sister is one of the greatest people on the planet and I never feel she gets a sufficient gift from me. The year before last I tried to make neat crafty gifts involving cash and candy for my nieces and nephews. I think they were too young. Only one of them even seemed the least bit interested in the presents. Because my family is on the larger side I never even get gifts for any of my friends or co-workers. Seriously, gifting at Christmas is a huge area of let down for me. I have one living grand-parent. I send him a card but I don't think I've ever given any of my grand-parents a Christmas gift. That seems a very odd thing to even type. Nope, never have. That's weird. How did my mom and dad never encourage us to give presents to our grandparents? Okay, this is a strange later in life revelation I'm suddenly having.

I'm thinking about Christmas right now because I want to be mentally and giftedly prepared this year. I'm attempting at this very moment to scrap all the expectations I put on myself. Yes, I love gifting but perfection is NOT attainable. Repeat that 10 times. "Perfection is NOT attainable." I can't buy any of my nieces a pony. I can't buy my nephews those big kid cars that they can actually sit in and drive around. I'm not going to spend $80 or $50 or $30 on some awesome doll or toy or the latest hottest craze. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. (I haven't see the movie so the song is not stuck in my head now)

After having just read Money Secrets of the Amish I'm opting to go the Amish route this Christmas. I'm going to put a tremendous amount of thought into my gift giving, probably a tremendous amount of energy and effort and very little money. I'm going to try and gift homemade things that I love. And I'm not going to beat myself up about it not being enough, not being good enough, not being... perfect. Okay, this last part is probably the main reason I'm writing this post IN SEPTEMBER. I don't want to beat myself up about Christmas gifts this year. Why do I feel so much pressure about this?

Spending rundown today: $0, NO SPEND day 73 for the year.

My budget for the month is $450.79 which leaves $67.55

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.87

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Day two of $10 a day (for ten days)

I spent the first two hours of work talking myself out of candy corn. I saw the little candy gems in the back rooms at the stores about two weeks ago. They've been on the sales floor for at least a week already. This morning the autumn craving hit me. "I need candy corn!" I just kept thinking, "I'm already $2.45 ahead of where I should be, what's another $2?" Oh the struggles...

Spending rundown today: $0, NO SPEND day 72 for the year.

My budget for the month is $450.79 which leaves $67.55

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.87

The cause of most of man's unhappiness is sacrificing what he wants most for what he wants now
-Gordon B. Hinckley

Leftover Smorgasboard

This one's for you SAM! Over at A New Frame of Reference SAM just posted about using stuff up, not wasting food and getting creative with leftovers. During one fridge clean out not to long ago I was appalled at how much I threw out. So I've been in using up left over mode, again.

(sorry for the ugly photos) Today for lunch I made eggs and fried mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were from dinner several days ago. There wasn't a lot left and I didn't really want old mashed potatoes as a side to our eggs but making little patties out of the mash and frying it up (probably added un-necessary calories but) gave them a subtle crunch/ crust and really revived the old dish. Sidenote: I make our mashed potatoes very thick, we like substance to our mashed potatoes. And I almost always boil carrots or sweet potato along with the regular spuds. This particular mash had carrots in it.
This was a very yummy hot lunch.
This evening I attempted to use up a rather brown banana (which I would virtually always make mini banana bread muffins with but our oven is on the fritz). I saw this banana, peanut butter, chocolate treat on pinterest and tried it out once before. VERY scrumptious! Okay, it's better with a not so overly ripe banana but this was still a nice treat this evening and that brown banana has now been eaten.

Melted chocolate chips on top of a mini peanut-butter-banana-sandwich

Another leftover favorite which I had just a day or two ago involves taco meat and mac noodles. I stumbled upon a homemade hamburger helper of sorts when I threw some taco meat into my cheesy noodles awhile back. I actually have a strong aversion to hamburger helper. I think my mom stocked our house with every variety of it and we ate a lot of it as kids. But homemade hamburger helper... that I can do!

To preface I make a very simple, very quick, very basic mac'n'cheese that both little Abe and I love. I just boil one cup of macaroni noodles, drain, and then put a little butter in the hot noodles, about 1/2 a tablespoon, or less. Once the hot noodles are coated in butter I throw in handful of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (a handful is somewhere between half and one cup of cheese). Mix together, cheese should completely melt and then eat. It's way too easy and way too cheesy and oh so good! Well I did this the other day but added about 1/2 cup of frozen corn to the boiling noodles once there was about three minutes left. If you do this, crank the heat up to high so you can bring the water back up to a boil quickly. Then I drained the noodles and corn together, put in the little bit of butter, stirred in the cheese and then added my left over taco meat. You can then add anything you like, sour cream, a little bit of sliced tomatoes, anything tacoy that floats your boat. This was far yummier than I'd imagined it would be. I might end up using old-ish taco meat this way on a regular basis now. 

I hate throwing away food. Finding yummy ways to re-purpose leftovers is the best way for me to keep the food in our tummies and out of the trash. Win, win, win this week!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Day one of $10 a day (for ten days)

Spending rundown today: $6.29 on cat litter. Yes I started the $10 a day challenge needing cat litter. I hadn't realized I needed it but alas it's a necessity. Today I bought off brand litter for the first time though in an effort to save some money. Here's hoping I don't regret purchasing the off brand. I spent $26.16 on food groceries. My goal was $30 for the shopping trip today and two no spend days following today. I went $2.45 over my goal so I better at least knock out the next two no spends.

Today was really hard. Honestly though, every time I present myself with a challenge things seem to get harder. I think it's my mind's way of telling me, "You don't like the pressure. Just quite before you even start." I desperately wanted to buy some candy while I was working. Necessity? Absolutely not. But it sure would have been nice. What's that? Did I just say I sucked at delayed gratification? Well, I didn't buy the candy.

I also really wanted to pick up a toy for my kid. Okay, that's completely off limits during this challenge but I kind of sort of hurt my back at work last week and was pretty out of commission this weekend. Which means the little guy asked me considerably more than once if I'd sit on the floor and play with him to which I told him each time that I couldn't. Ugh, a horrible weekend for me sitting around trying to give my back a rest, drinking copious amounts of water, and trying to do some stretches every hour or so. And I felt that I let him down too. One of his toys broke today and he asked me several times if I'd get him a new one. Oh goodness he does not need any new toys but boy oh boy did I want to pick something up for him.

I didn't get him a new toy. Normally that wouldn't even be on my radar but of course I just presented this challenge to myself, just told myself that the rest of the bills weren't going to get paid late this month, just decided I was all in and then, bam! Want. Want. Want. Well, so far so good, except for that $2.45 over my goal spending for today.

My budget for the month is $450.79 which leaves $67.55

Average daily spending for 2015: $17.87