Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hours Lost On Worrying

Just when I thought I was going to burst at the seams from all the uncertainty and worry that has plagued me these past few weeks, life adds another heavy load to my already heavy heart. I know I will not be given more than I can handle but between 9pm last night and noon today I was really starting to doubt that.

I was on the phone with our oldest having one of our bi-weekly phone calls(more on this in another post) and we were in such a deep conservation that I didn't even hear another call coming in. After I hung up with our son I looked down at my phone and noticed I had a missed call and a voicemail from my obstetrician. Having had some bloodwork done the week prior I knew it was about the results and called back immediately before even listening to the voicemail. If there was any chance there was still someone in the office at that hour I wanted to make sure I got them on the phone. All I got was the on call message center so I decided the only to do was listen to the voicemail, hoping it would give me enough information and reason for a phone call at such a late hour.

"Hi, this is Dr. Matty, I just wanted to speak with you about the results of your blood work. If you could please call tomorrow first thing that would be best, good evening."

I played that voicemail probably twenty times, trying to pick up on any clues I might have missed. Did the doctor sound concerned? Did he sound like it was just routine? Was that a hint of urgency I detected in his voice? I drove myself crazy listening and trying to decide what exactly the nature of the results were but finally I knew I had to stop and I would just have to wait to call in the morning.

I could not sleep a wink last night. My brain was running a marathon and my heart was gaining weight by the hour.

The doctor's office open at 8am this morning and I called at exactly 8am. I may have even been dialing at 7:59am and hitting the send button as soon as the new hour flipped over. The lady at reception could tell I was frantic so she sent me straight through to the doctor. Being hold was excruciating. When after ringing several times the voicemail picked up, I could barely utter my message my voice was cracking so much. Nothing to do now but wait for the doctor to call me back.

An hour and twelve minutes my phone was ringing and my phone display showed it was my obstetricians office. I had finally gotten myself to eat something but nearly spit it out when I saw the call come in. After nearly choking myself by trying to quickly swallow the bite I had just taken, I answered the phone gasping for breath. Finally I would I have my answer, or so I thought.

"Good morning, this Becca, Dr. Matty's nurse. Dr. Matty wanted me to call you and let you know that the results on your blood test came back abnormal and she needs you to come in this morning so she can discuss them with you."

"Can she just tell me over the phone so I don't have to wait?"

"No mam I am sorry, she insist on seeing you in person, can you be here at noon?"

I barely squeezed out a "sure, ok" before hanging up and nearly collapsing to the floor. Were the results soooo bad she had to see in me person?! What does this mean?! Is my baby ok?!

The rest of the morning was like a fog. I could barely get through my morning routine without being overcome with a sense of dread and worry. In the shower I just let it go, cried my eyes out and didn't hold back a tear or a sob. In the mirror I cleared away the fog from the glass and stared at myself, blood shot, swollen eyes, puffy face and obviously a heavy and breaking heart. I wondered, is this how I am going to look after I talk to the doctor in a few hours? Will the news break me down again and cause me to have another crying session?

At 11:45am my daughter and I arrived at the doctor's office. I told her I needed her to sit in the waiting room this time because I had to speak with the doctor privately. She seemed annoyed but thankfully didn't argue with me about it. I was called in almost immediately. The walk from the waiting room to the exam room seemed like it was a mile. Within a few minutes my obstetrician was in the room holding a large file of papers and pulling up a chair to mine. Oh my goodness this was it, she was going to tell me something horrible!

"Your quad screening we did last week to look for risk for some potential genetic conditions has come back and there were some abnormalities I want to speak with your about."

gulp...the knot in my throat was already forming

"...on the screening for neural tube defects such as spina bifida as well as the screening for Trisomy 18, you tested negative..."

Phew! That was good news, those were two of the "bigs" I was worried about, my heart got a little less heavy and the knot in my throat started to relax a bit. What did I test positive for though!?

" did however test positive on the screening for down syndrome."

Annnnd cue the emotion overload!

"....your risk ration is 1 in 93 chances of this baby having down syndrome. the normal range is considered is 1 in 270..."

Ok, down syndrome...that means my baby doesn't have some sort of genetic issue that usually causes early death or other horrible medical issues, that we know of anyway. I think I can deal with that. Breath breath....breath!

The rest of the visit with the doctor went well. I was able to swallow the knot in my throat away, I actually smiled a few times and the weight on my heart was mostly lifted.

As it turns out the blood work was just a screening. The results don't mean that my baby has a defect, just that there is a higher than normal risk that it might. It was also explained to me that of those with a positive for having a greater risk, only a very small percentage of those actually end up the defect. So really, odds were still in my favor, even if my baby's odds were slightly higher than the rest of the population.

Further invasive testing was offered and it didn't take me long to know that any test that held a small risk for miscarriage wasn't worth it, especially for something like down syndrome. We will love this baby no matter what. If the screening had shown a risk for a more serious condition that would require treatment in the womb or right after labor, I may have considered it because I want my child to have every chance possible. But as the doctor explained, with my results that simply was the case right now. In a few weeks I will have a extensive ultrasound to look for any "markers" of down syndrome and to check the overall health and development of our baby. IF something shows up on the ultrasound I can have a maternity 21 blood test where they test my blood to see if the baby does in fact have down syndrome. This test is only 90% accurate while the more invasive test are said to be 100% accurate, but for me 90% is enough.

Upon leaving the doctor's office I will admit I did feel a whole lot better. My heart is still a bit heavy but it has lightened significantly.

On the way home I kept asking myself, even in the results had been worse than they were, would the misery and emotional torture I put myself through this morning have changed a thing? The answer is obviously NO. Even though I know that now and knew that then, I still let worry creep in and steal apart an entire evening and morning. An evening where I could have been more engaged with my wonderful husband, a morning where I could have spent more time with my daughter, those opportunities are now gone.

I am not happy that I got abnormal results on my screening, I mean who would be..but I am thankful that it taught me a lesson on worry and how it steals your precious moments away. In the end there is nothing I can do about any of it. I just have to sit back and have faith that our baby will born healthy, whatever that means. I also have to realize that whatever turns out is exactly what is suppose to happen and in a small way that brings me some peace. I know I can't expect people to stop worrying but I would like to offer a bit of insight....worrying changes nothing except for the moments you waste on the act itself.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Menu Plan Monday-Another Cheap Week

Good Morning! It's Menu Plan Monday again over at Organization Junkie so head over and check out what other folks have on their menus for this week as well.

Last week was full of uncertainties and I didn't stick to my menu as well as I usually do. A few nights we had extra leftovers so we at those instead of me preparing another meal off the menu.
A few days our schedule got a bit hectic and we ended up having "fend for yourself" meals where basically everyone just makes themselves a sandwich, bowl of cereal, heats up leftovers or whatever they want. I hate those days but kids seem to enjoy it when Mom says they can have cereal for dinner.! hahaha

Due to last weeks issues, some of the meals I had planned never got made so I am moving them over to this weeks menu since I still all the ingredients for them. I spent a total of $47 at the grocery store getting what extra groceries I needed which wasn't much thankfully. Here is what is planned for this week....

malt o meal
french toast with fruit
eggs and toast
some repeated throughout the week

sandwiches(PB and Eggsalad)
salads with tuna or chicken
some on repeat throughout the week

hamburgers cook on the grill
spaghetti, salad, garlic bread(made from leftover hamburger buns)
spinach quiche
chopped steak, taters and brocoli and cheese
salmon patties, oven fries and cold slaw
Pancakes with fruit and either bacon or sausage
tacos with all the fixins and cancun salad

veggies with dip
crackers and cheese
homemade cookies

Friday, June 20, 2014

Frugal Friday-preparing for life's sudden changes

Today is Frugal Friday over at Hearts In Service and I am joining the link up once more. Stop by and see how others are being good stewards with their blessings.

To some, preparing for life's sudden changes doesn't seem like it fits into the "frugal" category. Truth is however, being prepared is at the heart and soul of being frugally minded.

Today's post comes directly from what is happening in my family's lives this week. With the economy and job market and such being what it is, I felt that perhaps others might be able in a similar  boat or even will be in the future.

This week has been really hard.

Earlier this week my husband came home with some potentially bad news. Without going into details, I will just say husband is upper management and often they are the first to go when there are issues within the company. As of right now, the future of his current job position is unknown. Unknowns are scary, especially when it involves your livelihood. For hubby to find another job it will mean relocating to who knows where too.

Also this week we got word that cost associated with the treatment of our oldest is going to be much higher than expected and we would need to start paying for that in a few weeks time. Still trying to figure out how we will make those cost as well. Either way, things started looking grim in our household this week.

Our family was in a similar situation some years ago and thankfully we learned some valuable lessons then that can help us now. Preparing for sudden change was one of those things. Had we had been more repaired then, we would have saved ourselves a boat load of money and warehouse full of stress and grief.

So, what are some ways to prepare for life's suddens turns and changes?

1. Be thankful!  Just because things in your life are not going exactly how you had planned or would like them to doesn't mean there are not lots of things to be thankful. Having a good attitude and thankful heart and not only required for those who are happily frugal but also essential for living a balanced and healthy life, both emotionally and spiritually.
So even though I can see all the challenges we may or may not face in the very near future I still know we have soooo much to be thankful for. This week when the worry and sadness started to slip its way into my heart and threatened to suck the life right out of me, I focused on all the blessings we have and how very grateful I am.

2. Get rid of life's clutter. Many of us have lives that are filled with different kinds of clutter. There can be the obvious physical clutter of having too many things but there can also be emotional and spiritual clutter and time clutter, the type that takes up all your precious time because you have too many things on your plate.
Start by really looking within and identifying those internal and spiritual issues that have your heart all cluttered up and choking for air. We have to address these most important matters before tackling other obstacles in our lives, so for myself this is always first on my list and honestly its an on going process, but thats ok because it is suppose to be.
Next, look at what all you have on your plate. Is it keeping you over scheduled and stress? Look at these things and compare them to your top priorities in life, dump the rest for the time being. You can't handle your most important duties in life effectively if your time is spread to thin on things of lesser importance.
Last of all, get rid of all that physical clutter. If your sudden life change involves a move or even having someone new come to stay with you, having to deal with physical clutter is going to make either one more stressful and complicated. Personally I have been in a situation where we needed to move fairly quickly and I was faced with packing a home with too much stuff. It was a nightmare to say the least. This was also costly as we had to pay extra for more moving boxes to move soooo much unneeded items. I highly recommend stream lining your things now to not only make your present life more enjoyable but also to be prepared for whatever life brings you in the future.

3. Get organized.  Having to make a sudden change is sooooo much easier if you know where everything is and have all your important resources lined out. Organize your belongings in a way that would make it easy to pack up if needed. Get your important paperwork and documents together in one place if possible. This makes it easier to grab and go if needed as well just keeps you sane during any type of life change. Update your address book and get your important contacts lined out as well. Once we had to move on the fly, I forgot about this and it took me months to try and recover some addresses and phone numbers I needed. It is amazing how much money being organized can save you, trust me!

4. Try to make some extra money. This kinda goes without saying for those of us who are thrifty but some people don't make the connection. Having extra cash stashed away for a rainy day is essential!!! You really never know when your family might need it for an emergency. There may be a case when someone you know has hit a tough situation and also needs a little help from you and having something set aside could be a great blessing to someone in need. Thankfully during our sudden move some years ago, we had just sold one of our vehicles and had a little extra dough in our savings. Moving is expensive and without that extra we had on hand I don't know how we could have afforded to cove the cost we had associated with uprooting ourselves and moving to hubby's new job opportunity.
Having a garage sale(we had no idea our recent job issue was on the brink when we planned our garage sale lol) is a great way to tackle decluttering, getting organized and making extra money. Even just placing some items on craigslist can bring in a bit of money. Depending on your situation you could maybe make things to sell, babysit, clean others homes, mow lawns, run errands, etc.... Finding ways to make extra money isn't always easy, but I believe it is essential to at least give it a go and see if there are any dollars to made.

5. Be realistic. When my husband first told me about the potential job issue this week I will admit I fell apart momentarily. I had built how things should be in my mind and when it seemed it might not be so, I was shattered. One particular thing that kept nagging me was preparing for the baby. If we had to move and/or we found ourselves in dire financial strain, how would I buy all the things a new baby "needs". In my head I was thinking about how my plans for making and preparing the new nursery would not be able to happen and that that would be a disaster. Realistically, a newborn doesn't need it's own room and it certainly doesn't care if its a perfectly decorated one at that. Realistically if we had to move and didn't have a space for baby right off, we could just share. We were planning on using a co-sleeper beside our bed anyway. If by the time the baby is too big for the co sleeper and we are still not in a situation where we can give the baby its own room, we can just do a trundle under mine and hubby's bed, Little House on the Prairie style. I really had to force myself to be realistic and see that I didn't need all this stuff I previously thought.
Sometimes we don't look at things realistically and we are caught off guard too. Not looking realistically at what your families needs are can cause some needs to go unfulfilled if your not careful as well.

Whenever have to do something in haste or are forced into a situation we are not prepared, it can wreck havoc on our finances and well being. Stay ahead of the game by preparing for whatever life may bring your way.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Yard Sale Time!

This is a busy week at our house as we are getting ready to have a yard sale! The last yard sale we had was when we moved cross country about three-ish years ago and sold pretty much everything that wouldn't fit in the moving truck. It is amazing how much stuff we have accumulated since then in a relatively short period of time.

We are now in a position where we need two big things before the new baby and space! Even though I am having this baby "frugal style" there are still things we need to make and purchase since this will be our first baby since our other children were adopted as young children and not newborns. When hubby and I sat down and put the pencil to the paper to figure out what minimum we will need to tackle the must do baby projects and to purchase the must have baby items, the number shocked us. Add the need for money with the need for more space and a more streamlined household and the perfect solution is a yard sale.

Growing up my family had a yard sale pretty much every summer. My mother and aunts would pool items to make a fantastic sale. I think my favorite part about it was sitting around visiting with everyone all day. Even though we lived in rural setting we still always had a crowd and sold out by the end of the day. We hung our sign at the church and the one tiny gas station down the road and it always seemed to bring in just the right amount of people to make the sale a success. A few times my cousins and I operated a lemonade stand as well, which is exactly what my daughter is hoping to do at our yard sale. Yard sales hold a lot of nostalgia for me and I am excited to be having one again.

One thing I am NOT excited about is the prep work for a yard sale. The week before a sale seems to turn my house inside out, piles and stack of items sorted through and priced take over. The kids have been instructed to go through every nook and cranny of their rooms and pull out anything that doesn't fit, is broken(for the trash not the sale) or they simply don't want anymore. As motivation for this we let the children keep all money made from selling their own items. This often results in big unorganized piles like the one pictured below, in various areas of our home.
This is my daughter's unsightly pile of clothes and misc toys and such she has decided to put in the yard sale. I did warn her that all clothes will need to be freshly washed and pressed before the sale so she still has a bit of work to do. lol

As for myself, I have lots of clothes to get rid of as well as books, home decor items, a few electronics and crafty stuff. I am struggling quiet a bit with my collection of pyrex and other glass kitchen items. I have sooooo much of it but since our kitchen in this home is so much smaller than previous ones, I simply don't have room for most of it. So, I am spending a lot of time this week trying to decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

All items that don't sell will simply be donated.

Yard sale week is a time where I relax my pickiness about the order of the house and just let it be since we don't have an extra space to just process yard sale items. It will be worth it when the sale is over and I know none of these things will be coming back into my house and I have a little extra cash in my pocket.

Anyone else planning a yard/garage sale this summer?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Menu Plan Monday- Making Meals When The Food Budget Is Almost Gone

It's Menu Plan Monday again over at the Organization Junkie and as usual I am joining the link up. Check out my menu then head on over and see what others have cooking in their kitchens this week.

We had some unexpected expenses come up last week and over the weekend and it pretty much wiped our grocery budget clean for this week. I have a tiny bit left over from last week so this week we will be getting by on about $25 cash and whatever is the pantry and freezer. Challenges can be fun and interesting if you let them be however and this week I choose to let it be a positive instead of a negative.

Here is what we are chowing down on this week.....

oatmeal with fruit
eggs and toast
cinnamon toast
*some will be repeated a few times within the week*

egg salad or PB sandwiches
loaded salads
soups from the freezer
crock pot mac and cheese with carrots
*some will be repeated a few times within the week*

spinach quiche with fruit
homemade pizza with caesar salad
veggie stir fry
loaded baked potato bar
falafels and salad
breakfast for dinner(pancakes, eggs, bacon)
hamburgers cooked on the grill with oven fries

I have most of what I need for the above menu except for some of the fresh produce, eggs, milk and a teeny bit more hamburger meat. I have a new large bag of flour so I don't have to worry about running out of ingredients to keep us stocked in sandwich bread, muffins, hamburger buns, pizza dough and pancakes. We bought lots of potatoes in bulk earlier this year so I always have potatoes in my basement along with with rice and usually try to to keep some frozen veggies in the freezer at all times. You can make several meals just from rice, veggies and potatoes and if you have a few extra ingredients you can stretch them even further. According to my price book....I really should do a post on that soon.....I can get everything I need for my $25 budget this week. Hopefully we won't get any more surprise expenses this week but if we do I know things will be just fine because I am choosing to have a good attitude. 

Whats on your family's plate this week?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Frugal Friday- saving money when you are away from home

Happy Friday folks! Today I am joining in on the Frugal Friday link up from Hearts In Service.

I wasn't able to post much this week because we were out of town on a business trip with my hubby. Even though the trip was for work we always enjoy a road trip and can make a mini vacation out of almost any situation.

Traveling can be expensive however, even when your husbands company is paying for gas, lodging and your husband's meals. I knew our biggest downfall in regards to staying on budget would be food. With only a microwave and fridge in our hotel room and a hotel policy that doesn't all for any type of other small cooking appliance, my options were very limited. It also didn't help that the only place to eat or buy food in the tiny town were were staying in was a local greasy spoon cafe and a gas station. Thankfully I had a plan.

One big budget killer we face whenever we travel is on the road snacks. I don't know what it is about sitting in a car all day that turns us into snacking maniacs, but we just can't seem to stop eating while on the road! This gets super expensive when you load up on snacks every time you stop for a potty break or refueling. Instead I brought the snacks with us. The day before we left we went to our local warehouse store and bought chips, nuts, bottled water and other snacks in bulk. Instead of paying $1.50 for a bag of chips at a gas station, we paid 49 cents by buying them in bulk. The day we left we loaded the cooler with ice and bottled water and juice and packed a bag filled with snacks. Not once during our entire trip did we purchase anything from a gas station or rest stop area except for fuel. This saved us a ton of money.

While at the hotel we continued to eat on some of the snacks but I also brought with me some microwavable foods. I wouldn't normally purchases these types of items but they were still cheaper than eating out at the greasy spoon or the very expensive restaurant within the hotel every day. I got some microwave burritos, hot pockets, breakfast sandwiches and mini pizzas for meals. I also brought plenty of fruit, crackers, cheese, cereal, bottles of milk and juice, granola bars and cinnamon rolls. I had planned on bringing potatoes and making baked potatoes in the microwave but I just plum forgot. hahaha I know none of these items are that healthy BUT they are better than eating out every meal at a place that only serves fried foods and soda pop. Amazingly I only spent a tad over my normal weekly food budget while we were on "vacation."

Entertainment while on a road trip can also be pricey so we stuck to the free forms. Our hotel had a very nice pool we partook in during the day as well as a private beach  where we spent some time collecting shells. The area also had a handful of public parks we went to each day and we even enjoyed just chilling in the hotel under the ac playing games, reading and watching movies. Most places have a variety of free activities if you just look hard enough.

All in all we had a nice time. We got to get out of our town, see some new things and spend time with each other and all without breaking the bank. All it takes is a little planning and a good attitude.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Frugal Friday- Transforming Cold Weather Clothing Into Warm Weather Clothing...with a tutorial

 Today I am linking up with Terri from Hearts In Service for Frugal Friday. Head on over and see what others are doing to be good stewards with what blessings they have. 

It is that time of year again when must transfer from cold weather clothing to warm weather clothing. Some people live in climates where the temperatures from season to season don't differ much and they don't have to make any changes to their wardrobes. For folks like us who live in a climate where we have very distinct seasons and temperature changes throughout the year, this isn't always a possibility.

Having to maintain multiple wardrobes is expensive, especially when growing children are involved. Today for Frugal Friday I will show you how we help cut the cost of changing seasons when it comes to clothing by modifying our winter pieces into summer pieces.

At the beginning of summer I have my kids try on all their clothes and whatever doesn't fit gets donated or taken to the 2nd hand store where we get store credit for whatever we bring in. The rest of the clothing that fits is evaluated to see which pieces can be used again next year (either for the same child or a different child) and which pieces are good candidates for some up cycling. Those that can be modified I transfer into warm weather clothing by simply cutting off the pants to make shorts, capris or skirts and cutting of long sleeved shirts at the elbows to make a new cooler shirt for the hot temps of summer.

My daughter was able to fit into most of her jeans when I did my evaluation this week. She had one pair of khakis, two pairs of blue denim, one pair of black and one pair of navy pants that fit. This is enough to get her through the summer easily so we got to work.
First thing I did was have her try each pair on again then she decided if she wanted them to be turned into capris or shorts. I then measured and mark each pair so I would know where to cut them off.
Then I laid the jeans out on my table and measured and marked again.
Next I fold the bottoms up and pinned them as shown above.
Make sure you don't pin the front and back of the pant legs together! I have done this numerous times and ended up sewing the leg holes completely shut. Always run your hand up through the leg hole to make sure you didn't make this mistake.
You can choose to cut the remainder off or leave it and go directly to sewing. I choose to cut it off because it tends to annoy me when trying to run it through my machine.
You want to sew about here where I am opining with my pencil. Once you have sewn all the way around and have removed the pins, simply whack any leftover material off and then fold back the bottom. Its best to press the seam at this point to get the results.
This is the end product. I have not pressed the seams yet in this picture but you get the idea. This technique is really usually for blue jeans that have that wonderful factory hem that is hard to replicate. Now you can't even tell they were ever long pants, they look as if they came from the store as a pair of shorts instead.

By the time I was finished my daughter had three pairs of shorts and two pairs of capris for her summer wardrobe and all for basically free. I didn't use the above explained method for each and every pair of pants I modified however. She wanted a few pair to have that trendy frayed looked so for those I simply whacked them off where needed then ran a stitch a little ways from the bottom to keep them fraying beyond where we wanted. After a few washes they will be perfectly and fashionably frayed.

 Here are five pieces finished except for the two pair that will get frayed in the washer later today. These with a few skirts I plan to make using some material from from fabric stashes, will be plenty to get my daughter through the summer which means I won't have to spend a dime on new shorts for this season. Free is about as frugal as you can get. :-)
I was also able to get some good scraps for my fabric stash! Not sure what I will use them for yet but I know something will come up. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Everyday I have so much to be thankful, too much almost. I can't possibly list them all but today on Thankful Thursday, I want to share with you a small handful of what I am feeling very grateful for this week.

#1....I am VERY thankful to have a husband that is so darn handy and such a hard worker. I have yet to find a single thing this man of mine can't fix, build or create. We have never had to hire work out because this guy can do it all. From rewiring a house to repairing sprinkler systems, my husband is the ultimate handy man. I also am thankful that he doesn't shy away from hard work either. He will work back breaking labor all day to take care of whatever needs to be done. I have known many women who have lazy husbands and I am thankful to the moon and back for my hardworking, capable, loving husband.

#2....I am thankful for friends who were willing to sacrifice their time to come by and take care of our pets and check on things while we were out of town. It was a great relief to be able to make our trip without worrying about having to put the pets in a kennel and also knowing that they were in good hands.

#3....I am thankful for mechanical breakdown insurance! Most people have never heard of this but for very little a year if your vehicle qualifies, you can get coverage for any breakdowns your vehicle might have. Over the weekend the engine cooling system on my car kicked the bucket and was overheating pretty badly. My husband was able to repair it himself but when he checked on the prices for the parts he would need, they were more expensive than our deductible for the mechanical breakdown insurance. For this reason we decided it would just be easier and cheaper to make a claim and let the professionals fix it. This saved us time and money.

#4....I am thankful we have two vehicles...for the above mentioned reason.

#5...I am thankful we were finally able to find a pet that meshed well with our daughter. She adores animals but for some reason animals don't always adore her back. This often leaves her feeling sad since she desires to be around animals so much. Thanks to craigslist we were able to find a FREE cat when we moved that was already spayed, micro chipped and had all her vaccinations. To our amazement the cat took right to our daughter and has made her very happy ever since.

#6...I am thankful for the lovely views of trees I get to see everyday when I look out my windows. We have lived in some very desolate places were greenery was a rare luxury so having a space of my own surrounded by lovely trees is very special to me.

#7...I am thankful for my mother and sister who have patiently listened and offered advice while we try to come up with a name for our new baby. My husband and I tend to be quiet picky when it comes to names so it has been an ordeal let me tell ya! hahaha.....and no we still don't have a clue what this little boy or girl will be called yet.

#8...I am thankful for the volunteers at our local community garden that take time out of their week to lead a children's gardening club and class that our daughter has enjoyed now for two years.

#9...I am thankful for the fact that I have enough food in my pantry and fridge, so many in the world simply do not have any food in their homes at all.

#10...I am thankful...extremely thankful....for this little life growing inside me that I thought I would never have. I am also thankful the little one is doing well and that my pregnancy has complication free thus far. We got to finally hear the heartbeat earlier this week and it was the most amazing sound I ever heard. Here in a few weeks we will get to find out whether we are having a boy or a girl and I am sooo excited!

What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Our New Homemade and FREE Coffee Table

Furniture can be expensive! Unfortunately every home needs a least a minimal amount of furniture. So, what do you do when you don't want to spend a lot of money on a new piece but you feel you do need a particular piece of furniture? You don't ever have to buy furniture from a actual furniture store, whose prices are usually marked up quiet a bit anyway. There is always resale shops, garage sales and craigslist. I have used these sources many many times to furnish our home and ended up paying way below retail for my items. At times however you would prefer to not spend any money though. When that situation comes up I often check out our local Freecycle group first to see if anyone is giving away what I need and to post a want ad for a particular piece. You would be surprised at what all people give away and it is much better to pass it on rather than things ending up in the landfill. When I decided I needed a coffee table recently all of the above mentioned sources were unable to provide me with one, so I decided to make my own out of thin air which means for FREE.

Thankfully I am blessed with a super handy husband that can pretty much make any vision of mine come to life. I am soooo not handy with tools beyond the basic screwdriver and even then I get frustrated at times. Together, hubby and I were able to use what was piled up in our garage to make our family a new coffee table that we could put to good use.

A few years ago my husband brought home some wooden shipping crates he got from his place of business. They are always throwing these out once they unpacked them so he brought some home. We both loved the industrial rustic charm of them and knew we would be making something out of the crates, we just didn't know what yet. After putting in some new wood flooring in our foyer area we realized we had about enough pieces left to make a coffee table top. The flooring we bought at our local Restore by the way and got about $500 worth of premium flooring for $12.00! I can't remember if it was myself or my husband that came up with the idea of using the shipping crates for the base of the coffee table but after barely an hour in the garage making leftover pieces fit, we had a brand new FREE coffee table!
Ta da!!! We still want to put some feet of some sort on it but we will wait till we come across a bargain for those, for now we are happy with it just sitting on the floor.

What I love about our new coffee table, besides being free, is that has that rustic quality about it that we love and also stands up to kids. The top is made of flooring so I don't have worry about what kind of abuse this table will surely take over the next several years. All the corners and edges are somewhat rounded and smooth so it is fairly baby safe as well. I also love that it has stamped shipping labels which I think adds character and a bit of whimsy to the piece.

I am in LOVE with the metal corners that came on the crate!

The top is made of flooring that is suppose to looked worn so it works great!

There are lots of ways to make your own coffee table. I have seen them made from everything to cinder blocks to wooden pallets and even an old car hood. I personally like unique items that are handmade over something anyone can buy at a big box store. If you keep your eyes peeled you can find all sorts of items for absolutely free that you can fashion into various pieces of furniture with spending little to no money at all. 

Here are some other examples of homemade coffee tables I found online, I think they are all amazing!
Made by putting simple wooden crates together

Old doors turned into a super cute table!

Pallets simply stacked and used as way cool table

An old window with a picture behind it and legs added makes this adorable coffee table

basic pluming parts and some old wood into an industrial chic coffee table
These are just some of the examples I found, if you look online there is no limit to what people are creating for their homes. I encourage anyone that needs a new piece to better server their family to first look around and see what you already have on hand to make what you need. It is very satisfying to know that you fulfilled a need for very little money while getting to flex your creative muscles.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Menu Plan Monday- week of June 2nd

Happy Monday! It's time for Menu Plan Monday over at the Organization Junkie and as usual I am joining in.  This week I needed to use what I had in the freezer and in the fridge as much as possible. We don't have much freezer space so I rotate my stock pretty regularly to avoid things getting freezer burn and such. Also I had some items in the fridge that needed to be used up before they expired so the first thing I did was make a list of all the items in my freezer and fridge that I needed to use up this week.
Ignore the messy handwriting lol
My goal also was to not have to buy any meat when I went and did my shopping for this week so I planned my menu around what meats I had on hand. I knew the frozen hamburgers patties and the chicken brats would be eaten up for lunches so I didn't plan on using those for my main meal so left a bit of chicken, a few pork chops and a few pounds of hamburger meat left to get us through the next 7 days. Here is what I came up with for this weeks menu.....

french toast
banana muffins
eggs and toast

hamburgers using the patties I froze
chicken brats
egg salad sandwich
tomato soup and crackers
pb&j sandwich
tuna melt sandwich

Bbq chicken and corn on the grill with spinach salad
loaded baked potato bar
chicken alfredo with salad
cheesy beef and rice skillet with sautéed green beans
veggie stir fry
crock pot taco pie and cancun salad
chicken and spinach wraps

veggie sticks
whatever homemade treats I make this week (cookies, muffins, granola bars, etc...)

I was able to do all my shopping for this week at one store which was a time and sanity saver for sure! My grand total for this week's groceries was $106.12 Down from the last week so that makes me a happy mama! I know it would have been a bit higher if I had to buy any meat for his week but I am still pretty pleased. Ideally I would like to get my food cost for the week down to $100 a week including meat so that is the goal I am currently working on. 

All in all my family seems excited about this weeks menu, there are a few meals  on there that we have not had in a while and are looking forward to having again and as my daughter has voiced, "Oh good nothing too weird on the menu this week!" hahaha

Hope everyone is having a marvelous Monday!