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...)