Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Making Progress

There has finally been some progress made this past week in our home! It seems things are still moving at a snails pace but I will take a little progress over none at all.

 I have been trying to declutter and organize for the past few months now, both because the minimalism bug has hit me and also because of hubby's job situation and the possibility of a move in our future. Of course it could just be the nesting kicking in early too I suppose, either way things are getting done.

One of the first areas I tackled last week was our coat closet. I have no idea how it gets as bad as it does but it is like a magnet for all things misc. Even if I had a before picture I would not share it with you all. lol! There were coats and jackets crammed in from wall to wall so the first thing I did was take them all out and really look at which ones were needed and which ones could go. I ended up saving a light jacket and a heavy coat for each person, that is all anyone really ever needs anyway. The rest I donated along with the extra pairs of hats, gloves and scarves that were filling the space. All the shoes, and bags and random misc got sorted through, donated and what was left I returned to their proper area of our home. Now all I have in the closet are the coats and jackets I decided to keep, my carpet vacuum and my little hard floor vacuum, a bag of pet items(leashes, doggy coats, water bottle, etc...), a basket of the hats, gloves and scarves and a package of lens cleaners. 

Feeling satisfied with one closet I moved down the hall to another closet that was also turning into a black hole.
This linen closet has never been used for linens. For one, even though it is on the main floor and across from the main floor bathroom and bedrooms, we don't use the bedrooms on this level as bedrooms. We have never had that many bathroom items so what we do have fits just fine in the little bit of storage the bathroom offers itself. This linen closet because another catch all pretty much the day we moved in, if we were not sure where to put something we put it in this closet. I was surprised when I started cleaning it out how much was in there and it was obvious that various members of the family had been stashing randoms things in this closet over the past year. I threw away two grocery sacks of junk and the rest was able to donate or put where it belongs. Eventually what I ended up with  was a top shelf filled with boards games we still like and then our box of geocaching supplies and our weather radio on the very bottom. I was so excited about THREE empty shelves! If we don't have to move before the baby is born however, I have plans for those three shelves....more on that later. :-)

In addition to cleaning out the two closets I managed to donate EIGHT bags of clothing to a few families in need and about SIX large boxes of random items to a benefit garage sale they were having down the road. I also sold a few electronics that we were no longer using, a bike that I have now accepted is too tall for my short legs and a bag of expensive construction toys that my kids are done with. I ended up making about $150 which ended up being just what we needed because hubby got invited to a job interview in our home state and we were required to pay for meals and rental car(they then reimburse) while they paid for the flight cost and such. If I hadn't sold those items we wouldn't have had enough money to pay these upfront cost and hubby could have missed out on a great opportunity. 

Speaking of the interview, it went fabulous! I was super excited to hear the report from my husband when he called and told me how well it went however my excited was brief as I learned where we would have to live if he took the job. While it was much closer to family being a 5 hour drive instead of the 24 hour drive we have now, the area is very dangerous and the climate very harsh. Crime is rampant, health care is horrid and hubby would have a very long and fairly unsafe trip to work and back each day. It has become pretty clear that this will probably be an opportunity we should pass on which saddens me but at the same time we want our family to safe above all else. 

One final comment about progress being made in our home this past week......I have finally reached the point in my pregnancy where my feet have completely disappeared! hahahaha! I hadn't notice until last week I was looking down to see if my shoes were free from mud that I had just walked through and realized I couldn't see my shoes at all. This made me laugh but also made me smile because it was sign that our little girl was growing and my due date is getting closer. 

This week I plan to continue making progress although I have come to terms with the fact that it will be slow and that is ok so long as I am moving forward. My tentative plans for this week include.....

Going through homeschool stuff and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of
Going through books and narrowing down our collection
Starting a box of hand me down items I want to keep for the new baby
Going through craft supplies and pairing down 
Getting the office cleared out as much as possible
Creating a home management binder...again

What are your goals this week?

Monday, July 28, 2014

I know what I am.....and I know what I am not....

This week I had an epiphany. I have been struggling lately with being what I think others want me to be, what society says I should be and what those around me think I should be doing. According to society, as a woman I should be consumed with shopping, make up, making my home the envy of the neighborhood and all things that glitter and sparkle. According to society I should be valuing material things and always striving to have more and bigger and better. According to society, as a parent I should be focused on giving my children everything they want, dressing them to the nines to impress others and filling their days with countless planned activities and over the top birthday parties. 

As a woman pregnant with a little girl, I am constantly receiving emails from others showing pictures from Pinterest of massive bows and cute outfits and nursery decor that I SHOULD be preparing for my future little "diva" or "princess". Guess what? I don't want my daughter to be a little diva, I don't want to treat her like a dress up doll and sacrifice her comfort for the sake of a giant, heavy, itchy bow on her head. If this means I don't love my child as much as the mothers on Pinterest love theirs then I say "Ridiculous!"

I am tired of pretending to be what society says I should be.  

I know what I am......

And I know what I am not....

And I am perfectly happy to be me.

Me, that is simple, that doesn't care about fashion trends, who has yet to see the value in diamonds and things that sparkle. Me, who doesn't think treating her children like royalty is whats best for them and who wants to adorn them with values instead of stuff. Me, who could care less if I drive a Ferrari or a beater so long as it gets me from point A to point B safely. Me, who finds it pointless to spend time and money decorating rooms in my own house for the sake of impressing others. Me, who finds over extravagance silly and prefers simple things.

So, I am sorry society. I am sorry to all my friends and family who want to drag me along their consumer driven paths filled with goals aimed at vanity rather than the heart. Thats just not me and I am no longer ashamed to admit it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Frugal Friday

Our cutie patootie pup "helping" hubby mow the grass
Yea its Friday! I love Friday's because it is the last day of the official work week and I know we can all relax this evening knowing we don't have to get up early the next day. I do love my sleep in days when they come around. hahaha!

This week has been a bit slow in the frugal department since we are still getting over being sick but I managed some money saving so here is what I was able to pull off this week....

1. Made my own homemade fly catcher instead buying fly tapes and traps from the store

2. Sold a few unused electronics that were basically gathering dust

3. Set up a deal to trade our old inefficient stacked washer and dryer for a newer separate set

4. Found a great deal on some used baby items on craigslist

5. Used some coupons to score some take out pizza for cheaper than I could make from scratch

6. Did a DIY gender reveal/maternity photo shoot (its tradition in my family to have these professionally done)

7. Decided to sell some items in the garage sale that I was reluctant to give up before

8. Made my own salad dressing

9. Remembered to turn off the automatic sprinklers when we got a few days of rain

10. Made my last payment on a huge medical bill I had slowly been chipping away at for the past 2 years. Now I can use that money to start paying on other debts.

What were some of your frugal accomplishments this week?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Figuring Out What Living Simply Means To Our Family

This week has left me feeling a bit conflicted, confused and at times a little down. I suppose I should throw in frustrated too. Thats ok though, I have decided that all of this that is happening right now serves a greater purpose and I just have to be patient and see what that ends up being. In the meantime I have been left to ponder on things in my life that I feel maybe need some defining and even a direction change.

With hubby's job situation being up in the air right now, we have been forced to look at other possible futures for ourselves other than the one we have always envisioned. We have been busy redefining what we feel we need to be happy and what are finding is that while we currently do live a fairly simple life, things could be a lot simpler and as a result a whole lot happier.

Some things we realized could be a lot a simpler are.....

Hubby's job-While he does enjoy his job it is very stressful. He is literally on call 24/7 365 days a year. Also he has mentioned several times how he really misses being out in the field rather than in the office all day. 

Our House- We have a lovely home that we are very grateful but with it comes a lot of lovely upkeep and maintenance that requires quiet a bit of time and money. As we aspire to live more simply all the time we are beginning to realize we don't need the amount of space we currently have, what we need is to get rid of the useless stuff we have that necessitates having a home this size. The home's layout is another issue, as a split level it can be a bit confusing. I prefer having everyone on the same level and right now we are so scattered about it really gets to me. When the baby arrives I would greatly prefer to have a much simpler layout as well.

Our Stuff- We have a lot of stuff! Compared to most families we do own much less than the norm but it still feels to us like we are drowning in what we do have. It takes a lot of precious time managing everything and taking care of it all, the saying is true, you don't own your things your things own you!

Our Time- This kind of falls under the above mentioned items but we spend a lot of time maintaining the house and items we own and hubby spends a lot of time at his job so he can pay for it all. We would love to have more time for hobbies, spending time with each other and helping out in the community. 

Our Relationships- This is a tricky one. Locally we have very few "relationships" so technically it would seem that it is as simple as it could get. The issues however lies with our relationships outside our local setting which is about 98% of our relationships. Our entire family and most of our friends live in our home state which is nearly 2,000 miles away. We miss them all dearly and maintaining that closeness is becoming very difficult. I have a niece that will soon be a year old that I have never met and it truly tears me up inside. To visit family is a huge undertaking! We have to plan for a major road trip which involves getting funds together as well as finding time off to make the trip. The packing is a pain and the hurried shuffling to make sure we get to visit with everyone while there is a nightmare and leaves us with a feeling of inadequacy every time. Also, because all of our friends and family are so far away there is nobody here for support when we  need it. There have been many situations come up where we need someone to watch a child quickly for a few hours because of an emergency we need to handle and there is nobody. If we need someone to give us a helping hand for whatever reason there is no one. Its very stressful to go at it alone.

After looking at the list we decided what we should do is find hubby a less stressful job that is closer to family, get rid of stuff so we can live in a smaller simpler home and pay off debts so we can afford to live with a lower paying job. Of course with a lower paying job we would have to live in a smaller home anyway so its a good thing we decided a simpler home would be best! lol 

This seems simple but it is proving to be anything but. All the jobs leads we have had thus far have not produced any fruits. This whole time it seems we have struggled to move up and now we are struggling to move down. How can this be? 

We know we can be happier with less income living a simpler life but what bothers me is that the less money we have the less we can give to others. Donating money to those in need has always been a huge driving force behind our living frugally. If hubby takes a less paying job, how will we do this? Then last night it kind of just came to me. Money isn't the only way we can help others. If we have an even simpler lifestyle than we do currently, we will have more time to give to others and time can be just as helpful as money. As it turns out the only thing we can give now is money because our time is completely taken up with other things. 

Another issue that bothers me is that I hate getting rid of things I think I will use later. I mean reusing what I have has been the cornerstone of my frugal ways for years. If I need a gift in a pinch I raid my craft storage boxes for supplies to make something, if someone outgrows a piece of clothing I hit my fabric drawers to make a new piece or mend an old piece. With school age children at home we go through lots of school supplies and again I have huge stockpile of school items I got on sale that we can pull through. How can I live simply and frugally without my stockpiles of raw materials and items that make doing so so much easier? Where would I put it all in a smaller home? My husband does all our repairs and building himself, he has to have tools and place to store them right? How can this fit into getting rid of stuff of living in a smaller space? In my head everything is conflicting with everything else it seems. :-(

What I do know is that I don't want my husband to work such crazy hours at a stressful job all the time. I want our family to have more time for each other, our hobbies and working with the community helping others. I want to not have to spend hours and hours a week taking care of material stuff and maintenance on a big house and yard. I want my children to be able to grow up knowing their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins by being able to have them apart of their daily lives. I want to be able to visit my family without it taking half a year to prepare and gather funds. I want to be able to pay for our needs and have stability and be at peace with the rest. I want to be able to breathe, and laugh and just be, one moment at a time.

I am not sure how I will accomplish these things when so many other issues seem stacked up against it, when I am struggling to identify what simple living is for our family. All I know is I have to take one small step at a time a day and see where the path leads and be ok with whatever surprises may lay around the bend. Perhaps living simply isn't even about the physical world and situations, perhaps it as simple as being a state of mind instead. I hope to find out.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Free $4 A Day Meal Plan and Recipes!

Since the fourth I have been down with some sort of cold. I have never gotten sick in the summer so this is quiet new and a little depressing to be honest. I am guessing it has something to do with my immune system being suppressed some due to pregnancy, either way, all this coughing and sore throats and such is not making for a very pleasant week.  I did however find something that really cheered me up and I would like to share that with you all today.

The Grocery Outlet is having an Independence For Hunger food drive this month and during this time they have a free downloadable menu plan with recipes that will feed a person on only $4 a day.
What I really love about this meal plan is has the cost of each ingredient and serving broke down for you. The prices come from their own store(which I have never been to) but they seemed fairly comparable to what I can find in our own local stores. The recipes are simple, no frills but many looked yummy. I won't say they all fit into some diet plans but for the most part they are pretty universal and should be able to be enjoyed by most.

To download the $4 A Day Meal Plan, click here or simply check out the Grocery Outlet website.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

Hope everyone has a safe and happy forth of July! We are off to the river for some good old fashion fun and fireworks!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Menu Plan Monday-except on a Tuesday lol

Yesterday was busy busy and I was not able to write my usual Menu Plan Monday post. Even though the menu this week isn't too terribly excited I figured I should go ahead and post it, even though it is a day late. lol

I decided to make a few splurges on the menu this week since things have been kinda glum here lately but I was able to save in other areas and it mostly made up for it.

cinnamon toast
toad in the hole
*some on repeat*

grilled cheese and ham sandwich
baked tater and cheese stuffed ravioli
loaded salads
PB and Jelly sandwiches
*some on repeat*

steaks on the grill, baked taters and salad
homemade pizza with salad
Fish with fries and macaroni salad
loaded tuna salad sandwiches
spaghetti with garlic bread and caesar salad
oven tacos with southern rice
baked beans, potato patties, pea salad

veggie sticks/slices
homemade baked treats(muffins, cookies, etc...)