March 25, 2014

Right Now


Right now I am:

Watching:  Nothing.  The TV doesn’t usually turn on during the day, and I’m nowhere near it anyway.  Side note:  anyone else seriously missing the old HGTV shows that weren’t all about house shopping?  Sarah Richardson, Candice Olsen, David Bromstad, Sabrina, Tanya, Curb Appeal, Backyard Rooms, (or really any landscape/gardening show) – where did they all go?  All I see anymore is the Property Brothers, House Hunters and Love it or List it….ad nauseum.

Eating:  Oatmeal with blueberries and brown sugar.

Drinking: Half-coffee, half-milk.  It’s my way of reducing the caffeine while also still enjoying my morning coffee.  Too much caffeine and Baby Sister does somersaults.

Wearing: Yoga pants (when am I not wearing yoga pants these days?)  and a teal ‘maternity’ tee that doesn’t cover my whole belly anymore and has sequins in odd places that look like dried, dribbled food.  A potato chip in the belly button would round out my look today.

Avoiding:  Doing some professional work while the sitter is here.  I have 1.25 projects to complete before baby comes (in 3 weeks? holey buckets…), but I just can’t quite bring myself to focus yet this morning.  So I blog.  And then I (MUST) work…

Feeling:  Irritable and tired.  “Good” nights are crappy these days.  Hauling my belly from side to side all night to alleviate rib/hip/you name it pain is getting really old, not to mention having to use the bathroom 2-3 times a night.

Missing: Having energy and motivation.  A clean-ish house.  Green grass/leaves/anything outside the windows.

Thankful for: A healthy pregnancy so far.  A sunny day today.  A husband who volunteers to be the one to sleep on the floor next to the toddler’s bed when she’s sick.

Needing: To get some work done.  To clean the floors.  To start some laundry.  To finish a final sewing project (which is due to ONE Ikea drape shrinking 5” shorter than the other – the snark will be unrestrained on that post).   

Dreaming:  Of the day when I don’t feel so far behind with chores and projects.  Of that moment when a brand-new baby is put into my arms and I’m surprised and overwhelmed and elated all at once, and all the pain and hassle of pregnancy and delivery melt away.


Alrighty, lovely readers.   I now must back away from the blog and get something done to earn my little paycheck.  More interesting posts are coming, I promise Smile

March 20, 2014

Oh, Hello!

My, my, it has been a while, hasn’t it?  Last I blogged, I’d just finished a booger of a professional certification and I was on Cloud 9 with spare time and a bunch of ideas to update the blog.  And then, a month later, I found out I was pregnant again and all the first trimester fun began.  Read: I had (relatively more) time to blog, but zero motivation.

Fast forward through months of undocumented projects and budget ideas (not to mention blogger’s guilt), and here I am: 9 months pregnant and eyeball deep in partially completed and unstarted projects.

For now, though, I’ll share a blog post a friend emailed me from  This post is close to my heart because saving money and continually tightening the budget are practically hobbies for me.  You know I love my budget, but what’s even more satisfying is ratcheting down the budget categories for reasons other than “We have to.”  As in, “We want to go on a big vacation next year.” “We want to pay off all our debt.” Or, “We want to pad the savings account so we can buy a _______.”  That’s where it gets really fun: when being a tightwad in certain categories means living large in others. 

So here’s the gist: how does a family of 3…or 4….or more live off a $400 per month grocery budget?  Is it possible?  How?

Obviously, you can go check out the original post and all the good ideas in the comments below it, but since we are a family of 3 (two adults and a toddler), and our grocery budget is $400 per month, I’ll share my own “comments” here.  Aren’t you lucky?

First of all, I try very hard to keep our “grocery” expenses under the $400 cap.  This includes food, cleaning supplies, drugstore stuff, paper products, the occasional trip to the post office, diapers, wipes, and random other things.  That said, I do go over budget some months (like when I have morning sickness and I’m starving but nothing looks good for more than a few minutes).  And then I rein it in to come in under budget in other months.  Overall, I do stay on track with an average of $400 spent every month on household items.

Sometimes I wonder if $400 is too low and I’m pinching that penny a little too hard.  Other times, I see and hear examples of families eating for even less, and I’m inspired to not only stick with the $400, but sometimes I’m tempted to lower it just for the challenge or so I can get a new spray mop or ironing board cover or some other equally glamorous item.

There are so many great ideas out there, but how do *we* do it?  Currently, this is how:

  • Meal planning:  This has made such a difference, but it’s an evolving process.  I plan on making four dinner meals per week, with leftovers making up the rest.  We also order pizza or dine out maybe once a week.  Lunches and breakfasts are mostly unplanned and revolve around staples like oatmeal, frozen fruit, and yogurt I keep on hand.  I’ll do a separate post on my meal planning strategy later, since there’s a lot to say.


  • Shopping “once” a month:  This one comes with a caveat.  I do one big shopping trip at the beginning of the month, picking up all non-perishables, freezables, etc, as well as any fresh items I need for that week’s meals.  This big trip completely fills a cart and usually costs around $150-$200.  But with a toddler, I’ve learned it’s really not feasible to shop literally once a month, because we run out of milk or eggs or whatever.  So I’ll go to the store a few more times in the month to get specific items we’re out of and any necessary fresh items for a given week’s meal plan.  This isn’t a regular weekly occurrence, since we keep a lot of apples and oranges, and other fresh items that last several weeks, but I don’t beat myself up for additional trips to the store.  I am very careful to not pick up impulse purchases on these additional trips.


  • A local “scratch and dent” grocery store:  One of my friends tipped me off to a tiny grocer nearby that sells (for lack of a better term?) “seconds” products.  Some items are expired, some are in damaged packaging, and I have no idea where or how they procure the rest!  The selection is much smaller than what a regular grocery store would carry, but they have a huge selection of boxed cereals at half the usual price, baking supplies, yogurt, and an absolute TON of fresh produce.  Much of the produce is stuff I don’t often use, and sometimes it’s a little (or a lot) past its prime, but occasionally I’ll pick up mesh bags of apples for $1 apiece, bags of Cuties, and just last month I scored with four pounds of organic blueberries for $11.   I go to this store just before I hit the big grocery store, so I can cross off some of my list there.  I also get many of our breakfast and lunch staples here, like yogurt cups and cereal.


  • Coupons:  I’ve slowed way down on coupons, but I do clip the ones I *might* use, and the store I shop at sends customized coupons every few months that are really handy.  (Free boxes of Cheerios, for example, since we buy a lot of Cheerios.)  I recently got our Sunday paper renewal notice, and I’m honestly not sure if the $60+ annual cost justifies the coupons I get.  I’m still pondering that one.


  • Keeping a price book:  This is the only way I’ve gotten a grip on what some of the best prices are on the items we use the most.  For example, I can get a 42 ounce container of Quaker instant oatmeal at the grocery store for around $5.  BUT…if I wait and keep an eye on the Walgreens ads, I can get the exact same  Quaker Oats for 2/$5.  And then I buy 4…or 6!  Same with coffee:  Folgers occasionally goes on sale for $6.99 for the 30+ ounce containers.  When it does, I buy 4 or 6.  Otherwise, the price is MUCH higher.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Someday soon I’ll show the new baby’s room and all the little projects that are helping it come together. 

July 8, 2013

Jumping on the (Chalkboard) Wagon

DIY chalkboard

Chalkboards were popular, like, 3 years ago.  I know.  I’m late to the party.  But three years ago, I had no need for a chalkboard and it would’ve been an odd little organizer with notes like “Next month: bread” or “Check milk box” literally every day of the week.

Now, though, I have a use for a chalkboard!  I have a munchkin, we have a summer mommy-and-munchkin “bucket list”, and I’m keeping track of our activities as we cross them off. 

And it was a cheap find too.  I found a $6 pink swirlygirly butterfly corkboard at HobLob…

Hobby Lobby girly girl corkboard

…painted the cork front and back with homemade chalkboard paint, slapped some (leftover from the porch bench) mustard yellow over the frame, sanded it down and roughed it up, swiped some Restore-a-Finish (to give it a little depth) on top, and called it good.

Turning this corkboard to a chalkboard

And, sorry, I’m not showing a whole lot of it at the moment, since it’s full of very identifiable places/things and I kinda like the idea that the whole world doesn’t know exactly where I live.  Or something like that.

Here’s a little bone, though:  I actually did something with the dining room wall, and I’ll show you in an upcoming post, including a full shot of the fancy schmancy new chalkboard.  I don’t think the wall is done yet, but we’re at least off the starting block.

Thanks for reading!

June 20, 2013

In Which I Return to the Keyboard…and Steampunk?

So…..HI!  I say that a little sheepishly, because I’m slightly embarrassed.  I’ve been away much longer than I anticipated. 


After my (shockingly distant) last post, I fully intended to start yakking at my favorite internet audience again.  Then at the last minute, I decided to pick up where I left off a couple years ago with a professional designation and try to wrap it up.  It took ALL my free time.  YUGG. 

But, for now, I DO have free time again, and the wheels are a turnin’.  Not to say that I have a ton of time, but Avery is getting a little more independent and able to play by herself a little more.  Today, I was even able to cut some fabric while she played!!! <GASP!>  She only takes about an hour nap each day, so things get done bit by bit.

I also have managed to start a cute, easy little project.  It started with a super clearance HobLob find and it just received its third coat of paint in the basement.  A little more paint, and it’s ready to go.

On a mostly unrelated note, I recently learned about the “steampunk” style, and I totally dig it.  I’m not sure it would work in my house…but I’m going to keep my eyes out for steampunk-y components for the garden (!).  Not sure how that will turn out, but we’ll see.  I figure it’s a good place to start.

Not familiar with steampunk?  Well, let me introduce you!  It’s a combination of Victorian elements and futuristic components in a sort of “machine” look.  Think classic literature like HG Wells’ The Time Machine, or Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  It’s the look of Victorian science fiction.  I’ve run into a lot of it lately, even including a steampunk book of clothing patterns at JoAnn yesterday.  To me, it’s cogs and gears, gauges, copper, rivets, pipes…and I’m not even sure what else yet!

Source: via Carla on Pinterest


Admittedly, a lot of it is pretty over the top.  But here are a few garden ideas that are more casual attempts at steampunk:


Pretty interesting, no?  Some of these pins come with DIY instructions, too.  I’ve recently discovered a cool flea market, so I’ll be keeping my eye out for old iron gears or wheels or implements or whatnot.

Anyway, welcome back.  To you.  To me.  Keep a lookout for my little paint project.  It’ll be done soon! 


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