Friday, February 25, 2011

2 more debts paid off...

Heck yesssssssssssss!

Today I got to pay off those pesky two little credit cards that I have been working on for the last few months. It is such a relief to not have to worry about them anymore. AND, I got to put a big chunk on our final credit line with our credit union. With step #1 complete, we are steadily cruising through step #2.

Now, according to the fabulous Dave Ramsey, I get to snowball the payments that were being paid on the Lowes, Discover, and Mastercard to that credit line to get it paid off faster. Here is what Mr. Ramsey says are the 7 baby steps to get out of debt:

1. Start an emergency fund of $1000-this is so much easier than getting the 3-6 months of living expenses saved. The theory is this will give you a little cushion for emergencies so you don't accumulate more debt while trying to tackle old debt.

2. Pay off debts using the debt snowball-list debts, excluding the mortgage, and begin by tackling the smallest first. This makes so much sense to me because I really need to see the progress quickly. It helps keep me motivated. Pay the minimum on the other bills while you focus all the money you can on the smallest bill. When that is paid off, add that payment you were making to the second debt on your list....and so you are snowballing payments.

3. Build 3-6 months of expenses in a full emergency fund-this fund is to be used in emergencies only, like if you were to lose your job, or had a major illness. This should be much easier because you are already in the financial habit of socking money into something.

4. Invest 15% of your income into a Roth IRA and pre-tax retirement-this is the wealth building stage. You won't have any debt payments anymore, minus your mortgage, and let's face it....we won't be seeing any Social Security it is time to cover your rear. Dave also says not to invest more than 15% because the extra will be needed for the next steps.

5. Save for college funding- this step is to be done at the same time as #4. You have to have a goal for how much you want to save. Look into beginning a 529 plan to get the most bang for your buck.

6. Pay off your home early- self explanatory...

7. Build wealth and give-be gracious enough to help others. Save for yourself and save for others.

So there it is. It is really simple to follow in theory, and really easy once you get going. We are using it as a guideline for our finances and are not following it hard core. Of course, if we did, we would see success so much quicker. But, I can't complain about paying off the Lowes bill, Discover card, and Mastercard before March 1st. :)

I know we can have this FINAL credit line paid off in the near future. The only thing that will make it slower is the fact that the hubs has a truck that is 10 years old....and it has not been acting right for a while. He keeps patching things, but will need to save for a New-to-Him car.

I Love Dave Ramsey!!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lego balloon weights

Thank you, oh sweet Freecycler who was offering 11 mason jars and picked me to gift them to!!!!

Yay! Today I picked up 11 mason jars (from a fellow Freecycler) that will be transformed into Lego party balloon weights. Each jar will have a freshly painted lid (in black, red, blue, yellow, and green), will be filled with various size legos (duplo or lego...really, it's whatever I can find at garage sales because Lego sets are dang expensive), will have a piece of twine and a balloon tied to them, and they will placed all over our house for Jansen's party.

I tried a couple out with black lids (because that is what color I have on hand) and with two different types of legos (because that is all we have right now).

Here is the one with the duplo blocks...

And here is the one with regular legos....

I would prefer to have ones with regular legos, but I am honestly not too picky. We are going to need a TON of legos so in the upcoming weeks, I will be scouring garage sales and thrift stores for whatever I can find.

These are going to look so good with the balloons tied to them. :)
And the best part is, that the boys will be playing with these Legos for years to come!

Monday, February 21, 2011

10 years of wedded bliss....

My husband and I have been married 10 years this year. We started dating when in high school when I was 15 and he was 18, so all together, we have been together for almost 16 years. That is the majority of my adult life! Holy cannoli!!!!

Anyway, anyone who has been married any length of time knows that it is constantly a work in progress. We really have to work at it...WORK. Daily. But right now, it is paying off. And to celebrate, the hubs and I are going to spend the weekend in Lake Charles, Louisiana at L'Auberge du Lac Hotel and Casino. WOO HOO.

I am so excited!!!!!

For those of you who are not familiar with L'Auberge du Lac...take a look at these pictures....

The hubs and I agree that this place will have the most bang for the buck, with shops, lazy river, fancy restaurants, golf, spa treatments, etc....I just can't wait.

Ten years down...100 to go!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The tax man cometh...

...and he deliverith us a check! WHOOP!

Me no longer working outside the home really is paying off :)

As I mentioned before, we are doing a Dave Ramsey plan...not following it to a T, but pretty closely. So once we got this refund check, we knew just what to do with it. We divided it...1/3 went into our savings account, 1/3 went to pay down debt, and then with the other 1/3 we stashed a little for our upcoming family trip to Jellystone and for our anniversary weekend at L'Auberge du Lac, and used the rest to buy a couple new things.

We bought a trundle bed and mattress to go under Jansen's bed and bought a brand new living room rug.
That's right my friends...brand spankin' new. It is just beautiful. And better was a closeout special that was 70% off!!!!

And Josh even got a little bit more taken off because we were buying the trundle and mattress there as well. :)

So back to Dave Ramsey. It is not easy, but it totally has brought me into a better state of mind when dealing with our finances. Now with every bit of money I get...through selling things, paychecks, garage sales, bonuses...I think about how amazing it would be able to save/spend that money. And instead it all goes to paying off debt. I never want to be in this position again...a slave to debt that most cannot even be accounted for. It's the American way right?!

Happy tax season everyone. I hope you are blessed with a big fat return!

Friday, February 18, 2011


I just wanted to say....heck yes!!!!

I won a year's subscription to Better Homes and Garden's magazine!! How cool is that??? And who can I thank for this fabulous prize???

Christina at The Tattered Tag. :)

So head on over to her blog, if you haven't already and check out her great ideas and linky parties!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lego party...part 2

Ok, Ok...I know that I am making two posts in one day, but I am super excited about how the party decorations are turning out. You will have to wait until May to see it all put together in party form....but I am making everything when I have time.

Today, I had time after my fabulous new haircut. Basically, it's the same haircut, just fixed fancier since my stylist did it today.

I looked at my list to see what I could tackle and the next thing on the list was a bunting for the mantle and for the window by my dining table. As I was working on this, I realized that another one needs to be made for our little game room and I totally forgot. BUT, I only have time to make bunting #3 must wait until tomorrow.

Preciousness, your name is Lego.....

So all I did was hang a string of twine from my curtain rod. I made the pennants with an extra little tab on the top so that it could be folded over, and the flag could just be set on the twine. Same thing with the Lego man face. I traced his face on yellow card stock folded in half so he could be easily moved around on the twine to find the spacing I like best. Coloring in two eyes and a cute little mouth, and he is finished.

On to the mantle.

I had a pack of primary colored 8.5" X 11" cardstock so this was FREE. I cut some cardstock into smaller squares and left some traditional size. Then I punched out circles, wrote LEGO on them, and used double stick tape to attach them to the "brick". I love the way it looks 3D because of the tape. Then I just tacked it to the mantle. Super-de-duper-cute.

Jansen is getting really excited and he still has 3 more months until his birthday. Mommy is really excited too. I just want my boys to have parties they love and remember without Mommy and Daddy having to pay a fortune.

Cost for these banners (and the 3rd one I will make tomorrow)????? $4.97 for the twine, which I will be using for the banners, balloons, and pinata...and various other projects. YAY!!!

How simple can this be?!

Updated free!

Yet again, my mom has gifted me with something she no longer sees a use for. Prehaps she just doesn't like it...anyway, I gladly accepted it.

Yesterday, I went to my mom's house to help her hang a few things, do a little rearranging, and work on some of my crafts while the hubs slept. Did I mention that I actually like when my hubs is on graveyards? After the kids go to bed, I can veg out on the couch with the TV and work on my crafts :)

Anyway! My mom had a pile of things she was ready to donate to the local resale shop...but before she did so, I got to go through it. She had a retro-style, small tv/dvd player combo that is now living in Jansen's room! :) And she had this really dated pitcher. I remember seeing this in our house growing up and thinking that it just looked ancient.

It was in the donate pile, but soon found it's way into the back of my car. I don't like the design of it AT ALL, but I think it has some beautiful curves and lines. So I took it outside for a coat of glossy white paint.

Look how sad she was...

But now she is shiny and new...

I am still working on the bowl, so it's renovation is not in the picture. Now I just have to find the perfect spot for her and we have a brand new accessory for $0. YAY!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lego birthday prep...

Well, I pretty much have Caleb's birthday next month planned. We are having it at the bowling alley per his request, and we have everything ready. I like to plan all the details way ahead because my kids' birth months are so busy.

Then that leads us to Jansen's birthday in May. He chose to have a Lego party, which is cool with me. Over the next few weeks, I will be making as many of the decorations as I can because May is ridonkulous. I have Teacher appreciation week, my birthday, Mother's Day, Jansen's birthday, a friend's baby's birthday, our anniversary, end of school parties, Field Day at school, End of Year Teacher luncheon...the list goes on and on. Blah, Blah, Blah...I like to plan.....

So today, my project was to make the Lego name sign we will hang over the mantel and the balloon wreath for the front door. Here is how they turned out.....

I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE how this cute little wreath turned out. We will hang this on the door for both of my boys' birthdays!! This wreath cost me about $8: bought the straw wreath, 2 bags of balloons, and some floral pins. Word to the wise....leave the plastic wrap on the straw wreath and then pin the balloons on it. Very easy, and very inexpensive. :)

And the first Lego-themed accessory....Jansen's name sign....

It looks just like the Lego Logo... and Jansen loves it.
It was so easy and so inexpensive to make. It cost right at $5 to make this sign, because I used heavy duty red foamboard instead of basic posterboard. The font was downloaded for free and printed out each letter on one page. I colored a black border around each letter and then glued it to yellow posterboard. I cut around the edges of the yellow and then glued the whole name to the foamboard. How easy is that?!

Next few things to work on:
2 Lego buntings for the mantle and for the window in our dining room
Lego gift bags
Lego filled jars
Lego invitations

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Accent wall accents

Remember how I told you about our financial goals for 2011???? That means that we are Dave Ramsey-ing it.

Let's just say it, works. It is difficult to get started, but it is working. We just paid off our Lowes bill. Cut that credit card up baby and it's only February!!!!

That means that my craft/decorating allowance is next to nothing in the budget. Ok, so I can handle that. It is forcing me to be more creative, and BONUS...more green. Which means more GREEN in our pockets...err...put onto our debt. :)

When I finished the accent wall this weekend,(you can find that project HERE ) it sat for two days completely blank. I can't afford to buy anything new right now, so it was time to search the house for things to switch around.

I moved the table and accessories from the entry way to here, and moved this picture from another room to sit on top. I like it. It was free. I like it even more.

Now my entry way looks a little bare, but much more room for the kids when they are barreling down the hall to not knock themselves out on the table. :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines for teachers...

Family Fun magazine strikes again!!!

The boys and I made these cute little gifts for their teachers this year for Valentine's Day. I almost did hand sanitzer instead of lotion, but the weather has been unusually cold lately, so we stuck with lotion.

So cute and so easy. Disregard the mess of gift bags, cookies, backpacks and such behind them :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Couponing best....

Why oh why did I not take a picture of this glorious personal achievement????

Oh well.....

I coupon, but I don't COUPON. Frankly, I just don't want to spend all the time and organizational skills it takes. I also don't want to shop at 4 different stores, on 4 different days, shop weekly, or spend 3 hours in a store. Grocery shopping needs to be fast and as painless as possible, because I hate it.

So, I clip my coupons, I shop at one store (twice a month because it generally has the lowest prices), shop the sales, and we eat what is on sale. Did I mention that I also hate to cook?! Don't confuse this with baking. I love to bake <3>
  • 10 apples
  • 4 bell peppers
  • a bunch of carrots
  • 6 tubs of yogurt
  • 3 bags of shredded cheese
  • 1 pound of deli turkey (kids' lunches)
  • a bag of cookies
  • a jar of miracle whip
  • 3 cans of biscuits
  • 3 cans of crescents
  • butter
  • 2 gallons of milk
  • 1.5 dozen eggs
  • 2 pounds of bacon
  • 1 pound of sliced cheese
  • rice
  • gumbo mix
  • 5 cans of green beans
  • 2 cans of corn
  • 2 cans of Spaghetti O's
  • 5 pound bag of potatoes
  • 2 loaves of bread
  • 2 boxes of granola
  • 3 boxes of gummies
  • 2 bags of goldfish
  • chicken nuggets
  • 2 pounds of spaghetti
  • 2 jars of sauce
  • lots of broccoli
  • powdered sugar
  • veggie oil
  • 2 boxes of cake mix
  • tub of icing
  • 4 pounds of ground beef
  • 2 cases of Capri Sun
  • a large tub of mixed nuts
  • 2 tubes of Pringles
  • 2 bags of chips, individual 12 packs
  • frozen waffles
  • 2 boxes of flavored juice packets
  • a case of diet drinks
  • 2 boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • 1 box of Special K cereal
  • spices
  • taco packets
  • 5 of Caleb's favorite lunchables that were on sale for less than a buck each
  • toilet paper
  • ziploc bags
  • bag of candy for the kids' Valentine party
    • So with that I plan on making all the kids' lunches for school and breakfast, lunch, and dinner for us. On the menu for the rest of the month:

      • Sausage gumbo
      • Taco baked potatoes
      • Hamburger Helper
      • Fried chicken strips with broccoli and rice
      • Tator tot casserole
      • Hobo dinners with veggies
      • Breakfast for dinner (eggs, bacon, toast)
      • Cajun Mac and Cheese
      • Chicken and rice
      • Meatloaf and mashed potatoes
      • Taco Soup
      • Chicken-etti
      • Spaghetti with meat sauce
      • Calzones
      • Mini chicken pot pies
      • Veggie night
      • Grilled cheese and soup
      • Pizza night (twice)

      I try to think of about 15-20 dinners a month because we often have leftovers for either lunch or dinner the next day. Not bad for $127. Next month my goal is $120!!!!

      Saturday, February 12, 2011

      Finished accent wall

      It is finished. One tedious week later, and I am in love.

      This took longer than I anticipated because this week was nuts.

      So here it is, my labor of love....

      The stencil was very easy, and I just painted in between the lines with an OOPS sample paint from Lowes for $1.00. Yep... this wall cost me a whole dollar!!!! I am hoping to get a small table and mirror to go across this little wall.

      So here is the before...

      And the after....


      Monday, February 7, 2011

      Hold up, what???

      So things on the accent wall front are at a stand-still. My husband, in his infinite wisdom, awoke from his slumber from working a ridiculous amount of days on graveyards to the light pencil drawings on the living room wall.

      Then he said the thing that brought my total happiness and excited attitude to a full on WTH, sour face, head turning, "I KNOW you aren't talking to me" halt.

      "What is that? I really wish you would leave the walls alone."

      Are you kidding me???? Our walls are ALL THE SAME COLOR BEIGE!!!! Beige walls, beige couches, beige tile, beige fireplace surround, beige bathrooms, BEIGE. I seriously feel like I am living in a giant cup of cappuccino with too much creamer.

      I decided that he must be delusional from his lack of sleep and grumpy from his 8 days on, 12 hour day graveyard schedule, and tried to shake it off. But the sad fact is, I can't. Because right after this conversation, another argument ensued regarding his which I prickled...and yelled.

      Was that right of me? No. my husband sacrifices a lot so that I have the luxury of staying home with my children.

      So now I am left with a dilemma. To continue the wall because I love it....To continue the wall just because he told me not to (because unfortunately, that is my first instinct)....or to discontinue and paint over all of my hard work. My labor of love.

      I feel disappointed.

      Sunday, February 6, 2011

      Sneak peak #2

      Today I was able to work on the accent wall I have been planning for about two hours off and on. It is amazing how a job that should only take an hour, can taken double or triple that time when you add children to the mix.

      I have been wanting to do something with this wall since we moved in almost 4 years ago.

      Within the last few months, I have been looking at inspiration rooms, hoping to find a pattern that was interesting without being too fussy.

      Last night, I found it and I love it. That's right. Love, true love.

      Tonight, I finished much as I could without a ladder. Our ceilings are so high and I am dreading being up there without holding on. I need both hands to trace with this stencil

      Can you see the light pencil tracing???

      It is surprisingly relaxing once you get in the groove of tracing, but it is still pretty tedious. I cannot imagine having the patience to do this in a whole room.

      Anyway, that is where I stand. Tomorrow is such a busy day, I am hoping to get all the tracing done and MAYBE get to the store for a small can of high gloss paint. I think the extra shine will give it that little something special.

      Sneak peak....

      So here is a quick sneak peak at my most recent project for the week. Seriously, this is going to take a week to complete, no joke. With all the activities we have going on this week....well, it's a work in progress. In looking at it, my major decision currently is single or double?????????? wait, double. No, single. Yeah, single. Single is good.

      Friday, February 4, 2011

      Tissue pom poms

      The kids and I are stuck in the house today because of the storm, and on top of that, the hubs is on graveyards. So we have to find some quiet projects to do today.

      Traditionally, I am not a big Valentine's Day lover. I guess it's cool and all, but I don't feel all giddy inside like when I decorate for the winter holidays. Usually, I don't decorate at all for Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's day, but I do spruce things up for Spring and Easter.

      This will probably be the extent of my Valentine decor...pretty non-specific. No hearts and glitter, although I LOVE all the cute Valentine crafts out in blog land.

      So we made tissue paper pom-poms, and attached them to some small pillar candles.

      I love that they are so big to almost completely cover the candles. And there they sit, perched atop my mantle. :)

      Side note: my cute oldest son with Autism, Caleb, continues to learn many different social "rules". As I type, I hear the following from his room.

      THUD (Jansen trips and falls on his hand)

      Caleb: Oh, Jansen are you ok?

      Jansen: Yes, I told you I am always ok.

      Caleb: Yes, but Jansen when you fall down, I say, "Are you ok?" I do not laugh when you fall. It is not funny. You could get hurt. So, I will ask you again, "are you ok?"

      Jansen: Thanks Caleb. I'm ok. I think I will go eat lunch now.

      Caleb is so matter of fact. He always has to repeat a rule, or repeat the guidelines. We are now trying to teach him how to make a "mental note" of things, and let the rule play in his head but not out of his mouth. Work in progress ;)

      Thursday, February 3, 2011

      Kids and Valentines

      Both of my kids were given the choice of making Valentines for their class or buying them. Surprisingly, both chose to make them.

      So we went in search of fun and easy craft to make that included a little candy. It's a Free Food day at school, which means they can eat whatever they want that day.

      Jansen chose to make two different Valentines for the girls and boys. Butterflies for the girls and green aliens for the boys.

      We went with construction paper for him, because it is easier for his little Kindergarten fingers to cut construction paper than cardstock. Really, cardstock would have worked better, especially for the butterflies, but they turned out super cute anyway.

      Caleb chose cherry lollipops and cardstock flowers. We found these great glitter pages at Hobby Lobby and Caleb chose a pink version for the girls and a blue version for the boys. A little cutting, some glue, and they were finished. He was really proud of them.

      The lazy mom in me wanted to just go to the dollar store, buy a bunch of boxes of candy hearts and have the kids sign them. But the kids said no. Craft time it is!

      Glad they are done...there are a lot of kids in their classes!

      In other happenings, this Arctic Blast has made it's way down to the coast. They are forecasting snow tonight and tomorrow, and since we are beach people and have no idea to do with snow, school is closed tomorrow!!! The kids and I are going to play games in our jammies, drink hot chocolate by the fire, and bake cookies. No cookies for me because I am in a weight loss competition going on until mid March.

      Tuesday, February 1, 2011

      Backpack organization

      All over blogland I have seen great examples of organizational tools...and let's face it. I am organizationally challenged. But, I did make a little piece that marries form and function beautifully, if I do say so myself.

      Some of you might remember the HANGER that I made from cabinet doors from the corner shelving my mom gave me. Although I love hanging it in my room, I don't like the cluttered look it had from all of my purses. Now those purses hang neatly in my newly organized closet.

      And for a while now, I have been wanting to get rid of this....

      Just because that kind of clutter is driving me crazy. It is the first thing people see when coming into my house from the garage. Actually, our tiny and oddly shaped laundry room is what people see first, then this cluttered mess.

      This is the picture of said tiny and oddle shaped laundry room. Please disregard the laundry waiting to be washed on the floor.

      That far wall is seen when you walk into the laundry room from the house, but when walking in from the garage, it is hidden behind the door. Perfect place for some storage for the backpack issue.

      While I thought of creating a beadboard wall with hooks, and then I took a look at my bank account. I have to find ways to create for next to nothing. So I rummaged around through my house looking for something free or something that I could make on the cheap.

      Enter my former purse hanger :)

      It wasn't serving any other purpose than being a decorative item on my bedroom wall, and in the laundry room, it fits perfectly.

      Also, I went through my little sock basket. See this basket...

      This is where I put all my lonely socks. You KNOW you are always left with that stupid one sock that doesn't have it's mate when all the laundry is done. When this happens, I throw it in the little basket and after a month, I go through it and start matching. I can usually make about 5 matches. Today I made 6 and threw away 4 lonely socks. Actually, those socks go into my dusting drawer, but they are no longer taking up space in the lonely sock basket.