Monday, October 12, 2015

31 Days of Thankfulness: October 11th 2015

Today I am thankful for time spent together as a family.  We had planned to go to Baugher's today and pick out a pumpkin, but they were nuts, so we decided to try next weekend instead.  Since I was off and we were already out, we ran errands as a family.  It wasn't exactly what we had in mind for family fun, but it was still nice to spend time together.  Usually Sunday mornings are Howard and Is alone time - we hit CVS, ALDI, and Giant, pick up lunch, and head home.  It seems like such a simple thing, but it was nice to have Joe with us.  With the busy and sometimes crazy season of life that we are in, I am thankful for any moment that we can spend together as a family of 3.

31 Days of Thankfulness: October 10th 2015

Today I am thankful for having an amazing 'free-standing' Dollar Tree in our town.  We have always had a Dollar Tree in Westminster, but it use to be located in the mall, and never had a large food section or freezers.  A few years ago it moved into a strip mall, and it's been the best thing ever!  It's larger, so it can carry a better variety of items, and it has cold cases and freezers.  The Dollar Tree is my first stop for a LOT of items, and sets the standard for my deal shopping.  I know what I can get there for a $1, so when couponing, I know if the Dollar Tree sells it, it needs to cost less than a $1 for it to be a good bargain.  They also carry newspapers on Saturday mornings, so instead of paying $2.50 each, I get them for a $1.  I love that the Dollar Tree carries everyday items, like allergy medicine, as well as fun splurges, like decor and craft supplies.  They can be a one-stop-shop most of the time, which with my busy schedule, I am very thankful for.

Friday, October 9, 2015

31 Days of Thankfulness: October 9th 2015

Today I am thankful for yard sales!  This weekend every year we drive from Westminster to Thurmont and hit all of the yard sales that are set up for Colorfest this coming weekend.  There are probably hundreds, we hit maybe fifty or so.  We buy some things for resale when we do flea markets, but we have also scored some awesome deals on things that we were in need of, like a second pack and play to use outside, for $10!  Yard sales are also how we supplement Howard's wardrobe after we weed through the hand-me-downs we are given, and stock his every growing library.  I am thankful for yard sales because they have helped us to provide for our families wants, and needs.

What are you thankful for today?  Are you enjoying this series?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

31 Days of Thankfulness: October 8th 2015

Today I am thankful for time spent alone with my son.  I love when Joe, Howard, and I can do things together as a family, which with the hours I have been working lately, doesn't happen too often.  However, the time that I have with just Howard is even less.  Every Sunday Howard and I spend the morning together running my weekly errands - CVS, ALDI, and Giant.  We pick up lunch on the way home and Daddy helps us carry everything upstairs before nap time.  It's a scheduled outing that I actually look forward to.  I enjoy being able to share something I love (couponing, shopping), with someone I love (Howard).  Today Joe had a funeral to attend, so it has been just Howard and I all day.  We enjoyed a morning of Magic School Bus, block playing, book reading, and a lunch of curly noodles.  It's nap time now, and I'm off to clean the house.  By the time Howard's up from his nap Daddy will be back home, and we can enjoy the evening together as a family, but for now, I am thankful for the morning I got to spend alone with my son.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

31 Days of Thankfulness: October 7th 2015

Today I got to serve a tea.  That seems a little simple since it is part of my job as the tea room manager and docent at the museum, but it is the part of my job that I enjoy the most.  I love being able to serve others, and make sure that they are having a good time and enjoying themselves.  It brings me such joy to make others happy!  So today I am thankful for the ability to serve others well.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

31 Days of Thankfulness: October 6th 2015

Today I am so thankful for ramen noodles, or curly noodles as I grew up calling them.  I know, you all think I'm off my rocker after yesterday's sappy post about the first 5 things I am thankful for, but stick with me.  When the weather starts to get that little chill in the air, like it is now, I crave comfort foods.  Many of these foods take a lot of time to prepare and a whole host of ingredients.  Ramen on the other hand takes three minutes and some boiling water, both of which I can manage.  These noodles taste yummy, and bring back memories of my Grammie, who would make them for our lunch often.  In fact, as I sit here with my bowl of curly noodles, enjoying their warm saltiness, I can almost hear her voice.

Monday, October 5, 2015

31 Days of Thankfulness: October 1st-5th 2015

I have thought about this 31 days series for a quite a few months.  There are many things that I could write about, but none of them really sparked an interest in me, if you know what I mean.  I have been trying very hard this year to have a grateful heart, and be thankful for all of the things I have in my life.  Maybe it was because I turned 30 last month, and I felt so upset about it.  Not upset about getting older, that has never bothered me, but because there were so many things I wanted to accomplish by that time, and I haven't even made a dent in the list.  So in an effort to make thankfulness a priority, I thought I would write about the things in my life that I am thankful for, for 31 days.  I read somewhere that it takes 30 days to form a habit, so by listing something that I am thankful for everyday for 31 days, it should foster the quality of thankfulness in me.  Joe, Howard, and I have been away for the past few days, so I am just getting around to posting this now, but for the rest of the month, I will be posting daily.  So, without further ado, items 1 through 5...
  1. I am so thankful for my loving, and caring husband.  He makes me laugh when I need it, and is always takes such good care of me.  Although we bicker sometimes, and have plenty of things we disagree on, I would not want to go through life with anyone else by my side.  He completes me, so to speak.  Even though the puppy dog love phase ended ages ago, I am still madly in love with him. 
  2. I am also very thankful for our son, Howard.  He is everything that I waited so long for.  Joe and I were married for 7 years before he was born.  There were two things that I have always wanted for myself, to be a wife, and a mother, and now I am both.  Being a mother is just as trying as being a wife, both require a LOT of work if you want to be successful at either.  But he is just like his father in that I cannot be mad at him for long.  He does something he's not suppose to, I correct him, and then not 2 minutes later he's doing something else that brings a smile to my face.  He fills my life with so much joy.
  3. I am thankful for our home.  Although it is not the house that I envisioned we would have by now, it is still our home.  It keeps us safe, dry, watm, and cool.  We lease our apartment, so we can't do anything to the horrid red goose 1980s wall paper in the kitchen, but I have found ways to decorate and make it feel welcoming and cozy.  I have some painting and decluttering projets planned for this winter, but after 8 years of living here, I am finally starting to be content with our little 'homestead.'
  4. I am thankful for full pantries and freezers.  There have been times in our marriage when the cupboards would give mother hubbard a run for her money, and other times when they are packed to the gills.  Right now, we are experiencing the latter.  I'm fairly profience in couponing, we finally got an ALDI nearby, and I'm still learning how to cook for three, hence the surplus.  However, I wouldn't trade it for the world.  Winter is fastly approaching, my bones can feel it, and I love having the ability to say, "it's too cold to go shopping, I'll just have Joe grab some milk and bread on his way home."
  5. I am thankful for extended families.  Our family is always there when we need them.  Our family has spoiled us to the max with clothing and toys for Howard, free babysitting, books, things for resale, meals after Howard was born, and so many other things I can't think of right now.  We are so blessed to have them in our lives.  I also get the benefit of having a grandfather, which I never had before I was married, and I still have a mom even though mine died a few years ago.  It's not exactly the same obviously, but I still have someone I can ask mom questions to, and talk to about things that only mothers understand.
 Come back tomorrow to read about what else I'm thankful for.  What about you, what are you feeling thankful for today?

August and September's Goals Update

August and September were such crazy months, that I am just now getting around to writing a goals update post for them both.  The museum has been crazy busy with weddings and picnics, we did a couple of flea markets, and I celebrated my 30th birthday!  We also went on vacation and did some outlet shopping.  They were two months fill with a LOT of fun, but I am so ready for some down time.  Here's how the goal area has played out so far this year...
  1. De-clutter the whole house in January, February, and March -- Done!
  2. Do a Deep-Spring, and Deep-Fall Clean in March and November  As well as keep up with my weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly cleaning chores. -- I managed to stay caught up on all of my cleaning tasks, as well as the laundry!
  3. Paint the Windows/Sills/Trim in the Kitchen and Nursery. -- Still hasn't happen yet.  I will have January, February, and March off this coming year (probably for the last time), so I plan to take full advantage of the time off and paint everything then. 
  1. Write a 'love letter' to Joe each month - I wrote him a card each month.  Joe really seems to appreciate this, so I will try to keep it up even after this year if possible.
  2. Take a trip to Maine in June with the hubby, and Howard.
  3. Take a Trip to Ocean City in August -- We went to Ocean City this year the last full week of August, and Howard absolutely LOVED it!  His favorite spot was the pool and splash pad.  We spent an entire day there, and went back a couple of other times, including the day we were leaving.  He actually dug his swim suit out of the dirty clothes basket and brought it to me that morning, so I decided that we would spend a few more hours at the pool, and he was so happy about it!  We also ate a lot ot delicious meals, that I didn't have to cook, which is always nice.
  4. Get together with family at least once a month -- We did spend the day with Joe's family twice, my dad on several occasions, and both of my nieces came to visit as well.  It was all just lovely!  I am hoping that maybe we can all get togther in October, but we'll see.  With my nieces in college, and everyone's work schedules, it's a lot to work around to get anything planned unless it's a holiday and everyone is off.
  5. Plan and Execute Howard's 1st Birthday Party 
  1. Have 2 Freezer/Pantry Challenges (January and July), post updates on the blog, and defrost the chest freezer 
  2. Post my Menu Plan, and Weekly Spending Report every week, along with at least 1 other post per week.  This may be an update, a reveal, a recipe, a shopping trip, some Aldi Deals, or a frugal find. -- This basically hasn't happened since like April or May.  I don't know why I even bother to keep it on here.  I do have a couple of frugal finds posts to share with you, but other than that, not much.  I've been working a LOT of crazy hours, like twice what I'm actually contracted for.  The big paychecks are nice, but it means I have less time for things I enjoy, like blogging.  I am hoping that I can get ahead on work stuff this year, so next year I won't have to work as many extra hours.
  3. Plan and execute a 31 days post for October. -- N/A
  1. Lose at least 20 lbs -- I have reloss the same 20 pounds that I lost last year, and holding strong.  I would like to add a little more exercise into my daily routine for October, but we'll see if I can make the time for it.  If I can, I can probably lose maybe 3 or 4 pounds next month, and that would be excellent!!
  2. Drink plenty of water, eat healthy, and do exercise of some kind everyday. -- This is something that I have been able to check off each month.  Now that the weather is cooling off, I am finding myself craving warm comfort foods, which are usually full of calories.  I am looking into some soup options that I can make ahead and stash in the freezer.  Also, I am finding myself wanting to go outside more, since it's not burning hot out, which means more walks for me and Howard!
  1. Do at least 5 Flea Markets throughout the year, and list at least bi-monthly on Amazon/Facebook Yard Sale. -- We sat up at two more flea markets, one in August, and one in September.  That brings us to 4 total for the year.  We have one more to do in October, and then that's it until January.  I did not get anything listed online during August or September, but with the holiday season soon approaching, I know that I need to get that done sooner as oppose to later.  I have 2 small boxes of books I hope to get listed on Amazon, and another small box of items to list on a Facebook page.  Then in November, I have 2 more larger boxes of books to list.  I am hoping to get most of the books listed on my next day off during Howard's nap time.  Amazon makes it super easy to list the books, so it really doesn't take that long once your account is set up.
  2. Earn Swagbucks everyday by completing the daily poll, toolbar log-in, and NOSO offers daily.  (Try to earn $10 a month) -- I FINALLY reached the amount of swagbucks needed for a $25 Amazon gift card.  It is SO much harder to get to that level than it use to be for me.  Once Joe and I update our phones, I can start using the apps, which should make things a little easier, or at least I hope it will.
  3. Set a monthly budget, and coupon and deal shop as needed to stay within our budget. -- I was able to stay under budget for both August and September with about $2 to spare, so I am really happy about that!  I posted my August budget update here, and September's here.  It always feels so good to look back over these posts and realize just how much I was able to squeeze out of our budget!
  4. Put at least an extra $100 a month on Joe's Credit Card starting in May -- We did this for both August and September.  I actually paid different amounts each month, but I did put a total of $200 towards this debt for both months, so I guess that is really all that matters.  I am happy that we are plugging away on this and I really would like for it to be gone next year, but we'll see how it goes.
  1. Scan the huge-a** box of photos we have had since my mom died two and a half years ago, and get them sorted to give to people, as well as put the ones I decide to keep in albums. -- I'm not even planning to work in this until later in the year,  possibly not until Fall, we'll see.
  2. Continue to work on Howard's baby book 
  3. Try something new at least once a month and blog about it.  I have a LOT of new recipes and crafts I want to try -- Did not happen again -- I am seriously considering putting this off until next year, but, we'll see.
How have your goals gone so far this year?

Menu Plan Monday: 10/05/2015

This week I am test running part of the 14 day menu plan I am working on, so, we'll see how that works out.  Otherwise it's going to be a pretty sedate week.  We are going grocery shopping this evening as a family to pick up a few needed items, but most of the food for the menu is coming out of our pantry.  Here's what's on the menu for this week...
Breakfasts: Waffles, Yogurt

Lunches: Soup, Leftovers, Quesadillas

Sunday - McDonald's on the way home from a Flea Market
Monday - Take-out while running errands
Tuesday - Beef Mac and Cheese (homemade Hamburger Helper), Vegetable
Wednesday - Crock-pot Chicken Fajitas, Mexican Rice, Corn
Thursday - Crock-pot Pork Roast, Sauerkraut, Mashed Potatoes
Friday - Tortellini in Alfredo Sauce, Broccoli, Sausage
Saturday - Frozen Pizza, Vegetable

For more AWESOME Menu plans, visit Org Junkie!

September 2015 Budget Update

This month I did a fair amount of shopping, and still managed to stay under budget!  I love it when that happens.  We spent the month eating through our pantry and freezer, so I mostly just purchased good deals to refill the items used and the needed items to make meals, and not a lot of extra stuff.  I also FINALLY earned enough swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card.  It takes a LOT longer to do that then I thought it was going to.  I'm going to try and earn another one before Christmas, but we'll see.  Here's how the month broke down...
  • Week #1: $94.93 oop, Earned $9 ECB's
  • Week #2: $78.95 oop, Earned $16 ECB's, $6 Saving Star Rebates, and $25 Amazon Gift Card from Swagbucks -- FINALLY!!!
  • Week #3: $103.97 oop, Earned $15.50 ECB's
  • Week #4: $19.81 oop, Earned $1 Saving Star Rebate
Total OOP: $297.66
Total Earned: $72.50
Total Remaining from September: $2.34