Money Money Money

Hubby and I spent a few hours one afternoon this past week working on a budget program.  We've sat down before to hash out a budget (one of the most intimidating things I've done) and have always scribbled it out.  I am a pen and paper kind of girl.  I like to see it.  However, that hasn't been working for us lately.  For starters, I spilled coffee grounds on my notebook.  Secondly, our living situation has changed since we made last budget (hello, cross-country move).  Finally, I was feeling like a failure with the whole thing.  I like to be able to review and read the budget frequently, and that wasn't happening.  Our life had some drastic changes, and we needed to re-visit where our money is going.  After the last few months of loosely watching our finances, we decided to take a closer look. 

I've read a few of Dave Ramsey's books and really like his outlook on money.  Reading The Total Money Makeover  opened my eyes.  It showed me how I could make a plan and take control of our finances.  It gave me some tools and assisted in making a budget and sticking to it less intimidating. Plus, it helps that I know several people that have used it to get out of debt successfully.  And I need all the encouragement I can get.  Eight years of college loans  (thank you expensive professional degree) plus hubby's four (or was it five?) years add up quickly...and that's just the beginning.

Recently, I have heard about YNAB.com.  (You Need A Budget)  A family member told me about it, plus I've seen the name mentioned in other web articles.  It has great reviews.  In short, its personal budget software you can download and tweak it to fir your needs.  We decided to download the free trial (7 days worth) and give it a go.  I feel like I need to move beyond pen and paper.  I am putting on my big girl panties, so to speak.  I'll give you an update once I have used it enough to form an opinion.  I sincerely hope it works for us.  We used many of Dave Ramsey's principles and his tool Gazelle Budget Lite to help us visualize the pieces of the pie.

Do any of you use budget software?  Any tricks that you swear by?  I like the cash/envelope system, but find it difficult to juggle.  It seems hubby has the envelopes and I'm the one at the grocery store, or we don't make it to the bank and use the debit card for three days.  They we aren't sure how much money to withdrawal.  I know these are just excuses, but its the truth!  I can't seem to find a good balance.  Let me know what works for you!



Princess:  "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!  You fissstik?" 

Me:  "What, honey?"

Princess:  "Fissstik, Mommy"  shoves book with ripped page in my hand

Me:  "You need me to fix the book?"

Princess:  "Fissstik, Mommy."


Vanilla Coffee Beans

I admit, I really enjoy Pinterest.  I am often jealous of the gorgeous things I see and wonder "why doesn't my house look like that?"  I finally did my first "project" if you can call it that.  I bought a few hurricanes and have been trying to figuring out what to put in them.  Fillers are expensive!  I have candles, but something was missing.  I saw a picture of a vanilla candle in a hurricane with coffee beans.  I can do that!  That's pretty simple and inexpensive, especially since I already have the candles. 

I love smelling the coffee when I walk by.  I love not having an empty glass hurricane.  Yay for simple decorating!  Now if only my kiddos will leave it on the table.

Have you implemented anything from Pinterest in your house?  Have you found inspiration somewhere else and made it work for you?


House Perfume

I love perfume.  I love scented candles and lotion.  I adore fragrant foaming soaps.  I enjoy my house smelling of tasty food, but I dislike all the work that comes with baking and cleaning up afterwards.  Fall fragrances are especially my favorite.  Since I now live in a climate that doesn't have much of a fall season, I decided instead of mourning for my favorite time of year I am going to make my house smell like it.  

So here is my recipe for a homemade house perfume:
  • Get a small saucepan and fill it 1/3 to 1/2 full of water.

  • Put in a few of your favorite herbs and spices.
I used two cinnamon sticks, a few shakes of nutmeg, cloves, and a bit of vanilla.
Don't tell my hubby I used real vanilla.
  • Turn the burner on low and wait for a homemade pot of simmering goodness to fill your house with a yummy fragrance. 

My house smells wonderful....just like an apple pie, but without all the work and none of the calories.
Obviously, I used straight from the bottle and didn't buy anything special.  I'm pretty lazy and its a great, cheap way to use up old spices.  The larger the pieces, the better it works.  Experimentation with different combinations can be fun.  I have used orange oil, rosemary, allspice, apple slices, and ginger, although not all together.  Citrus peels would work, too This is a great thing to start 30 minutes before a party or company.  I like to start it when I am going to be cleaning all day; it puts me in a better mood. 

Any of you tried this?  What are your favorite combinations? Anyone addicted to good smelling things?


Another To Do List

We have family coming in town this weekend, actually tonight.  Sometimes having extra people around can be stressful getting ready, but I am thankful  for the incentive to get some house projects done that we have been putting off.  Once again, I have created a list to help me stay on task and visually check things off.

  • laundry--fold and put away.
  • clean bathrooms.
  • sort mail and pay bills.
  • grocery shopping
  • sweep/spot mop floors
  • clean stainless steel and granite
  • put up fall decorations
  • do something fun with the kiddos---any suggestions for cloudy days?


Sunday Morning

Labor Day weekend my Momma came to visit.  We enjoyed some beach time that Sunday.  We were hoping to make in the morning before it got too crowded, but I was feeling lazy and it was late morning before we made it.  Nevertheless, we had a good time.  We only where able to take a few pictures before the batteries died.  Ooops.  Oh, well, my Princess is still adorable as ever.  The beach is somewhat eroded from the Irene a few weeks prior.  Basically, the beach is steeper and tide pools are more likely to form as the tide goes out.  We tried to make a little pool for the kids, but the tide was coming in and working against us.  Handsome also worked against us.  He crushed every pile of sand we built up.  Of course our goal was purely selfish.  If we had a "pool" the kids would play in it, instead of running all over the beach.

Princess loves to sit in the water, throw sand and splash about.

Not sure why the lighting is so different.  I think we messed with the settings but honestly I don't know what was changed.  Hubby is in charge of that.  Anyway, I'm happy we have a picture of the Princess smiling.
Needless to say, Princess found an umbrella.  It is meant to go on her little chair.  Handsome has one too.  However, umbrellas are not allowed up in front of the lifeguard stand.  (it affects visibility and accessibility when you have hundreds of them)  Kiddo umbrella chairs are no exception, so we tried to stow them away under the stroller.  Guess who found one and wanted to play with it.  Maybe she was hot or something.  So we quickly snapped a few pictures before confiscating it again.
And here is my only picture of my sandy handsome boy.  Isn't his dimple yummy?  I am simply blessed to have such adorable kids and VERY thankful for our beach nearby.



On my days off I am torn between playing with my kiddos and cleaning the house.  It seems like a no brainer, spend time with the kids, right?  Well, eventually the house needs cleaning too.  Unfortunately.  One afternoon, hubby volunteered to clean while I took the kids OUT.  I'm not sure who had the raw end of the deal, cleaning the house or two toddlers out in public alone.  Luckily, we all survived.  Once we got back, the kiddos asked for bubbles, so that's what we started to do.  Of course, we didn't get any pictures to prove it. 

 So that's the bubble bucket and wands.  Proof the evening was intended to be spent blowing bubbles.  Or at least 10 minutes of their attention span.
How handsome is this little guy?
And her face?  I'm impressed Hubby was able to capture the front of it!
I have no more words for him.
But this is what happened to two of the bubble wands.  The opening of that grate goes at least six feet down.  Its part of the water drain system (duh).  A whole lot of pine needles and leaves got shoved through as well.  Bubble night may not happen again for a long time.


Style Confidence

My three year old has entered the stage where she is VERY interested in what she wears.  For instance, at this moment in time she is wearing underwear (thank God), a blue and red polka dot swim suit, a long sleeved aqua blue pajama top with elephants on the front, a navy blue blazer style sweatshirt with white polka dots, and pink jelly sandals.  Of course, the sweat shirt must be COMPLETELY buttoned up.  I tried to take a few pictures.  Please excuse the messy house.  I am waiting for nap time so the the clean up will last for more than 5 minutes.

I find this stage adorable.  I love that she is expressing herself without screaming.  I am the mother at the grocery store with her child wearing a sweatshirt in 90 degree weather.  I am proud of her.  I love her independence and confidence.  I pray she can retain her individuality in her teens and early adulthood.  Isn't she beautiful?


The New? Me

First it was the move.  Then the change of address with the postal service and ALL the bills.  Then, we attempted to get car tags.  We waited for 30 minutes to discover the credit card machine was down and we left the checkbook at home.   oops.  A week or so later, we finally paid the taxes.  I waited 25 minutes in ANOTHER line to get tags only to discover we needed additional information and paperwork from KS about our electronic title.  Its a really long complicated story.  Longer than this one, yes, I know that's hard to believe.  Another week or so later, I trek AGAIN to the DMV and wait another HOUR to explain the situation to a new attendant.  She tarries on to help me get new tags in my new state FINALLY.  Yesterday,  I finally got my driver's license.  It took me an hour.  (that doesn't include the time it took for me to get my hair picture perfect AND find a shirt that doesn't highlight my sunburn.)

Now, I am officially a SC resident.  The only thing left tying my to Kansas is my phone number.  That may even change in a few months.  I haven't decided.  Its the last thing left that reminds me of my heritage.  Wanna know the main reason I want it changed?  It screams TOURIST when I call for take out.  For some reason, I place great importance in assuring others I am a local.  Yes, I realize this is really insignificant, but I'm being honest here.  I imagine the next time we renew our cell phone contract we will change numbers. 

But back to me.  Part of me is thrilled, elated, overjoyed in having my new license, despite the fact I am 5lbs up from my last stated DL weight.  Another part of me wants to cry and mourn the lost of my KSDL.  I mean, that was a good picture and I still had the new mom glow.  My face still shines in my new one, but it because of the humidity.  See my dilemma?  I know in another month I'll be over this,  however, that doesn't refute what I am feeling in the moment.  Moving evokes many emotions, some I want to savor, and some I want to hide.  This one I'm not sure how to categorize.


Happy Birthday Baby Brother #1

Its my baby brother's birthday today!  No this is not a repeat post.  I have another brother and his birthday is today.  It made for a fun Labor Day weekend when we were kids.  We had tons of sugar with cake and brownies and double the ice cream.  No, mine is not tomorrow.  My parents weren't that good.
Anyway, my middle brother is the ripe old age of 28.  Yikes. 
In keeping with the same picture memory lane from yesterday, here is a photo of my middle brother experiencing his proud uncle moment.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday.  I wish we could celebrate with together.  I might have to make a pan of brownies in your memory!



Happy Birthday Baby Brother #2!

Its my baby brother's birthday!  He is 26 and I guess you would consider him a "grown-up" for quite some time.  I  hardly consider myself a "grown-up"  so he really doesn't seem to the fit the bill for adulthood.  However, I found this picture that seals the deal.  Its from the day after I had my baby girl.  I love this picture of a proud uncle and his princess niece!

I guess this is one of the moments I realized I was an adult and my brother was too.  That was over three years ago and I was 26 at the time.  So while my baby brother doesn't have human children of his own, he does have a canine baby and is a professional student work in his PhD.   I guess that is adult enough, right?

I'm proud of you, baby brother.  I hope you have a wonderful birthday.  I wish we could celebrate together!




if I were a kid

If I were a kid, I may spend my days drawing in sand.  I might laugh gleefully, make art with my fingers, and dig my toes deeper into the wet sandy goodness.  I would run joyfully away from my parents and straight into the salty waves.  I would cry when we leave and beg to return every morning.  I might choose to wear my swimsuit everyday, even when it rains.

If I were a child, I might love to jump.  Especially jumping in things.  I might jump into holes and roll around, just for the experience.  Rolling around on different terrain might just be my new hobby.  I think I would prefer sand to hard wood floors, rugs, or concrete.  I have a hunch sand is always better.  Although, shells are pretty good too.  But aren't shells and sand essentially the same thing?