Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Come on Spring!!!!!!

This is what I love about Spring....
too bad it has been rainy and overcast for about 3 weeks. I need some sunshine in the worst way!!!! My spirits are depressed, and I need to have some light to get me in the Spring Cleaning and Beautifying mood :)

Our winter has been short, warm, and rainy. I am so over it! Let's move on shall we?!

Friday, February 24, 2012

More grocery store progress

Last month, I was so excited to share my grocery store success, spending $162.

Today, I continue to make progress with shopping the sales and using coupons.

My haul today came to a grand total of $113!!!!

This didn't really include toiletries, mainly because I shopped at HEB today and it is tiny. It never carries the shampoos, conditioners, body washes, razors, etc that we like the most.

Score 1 point for this mom!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A miracle or a milestone...not sure which....

I am sure that most of you couples out there have mates that are very different from you. There is always one person who is the saver, and one person who is the spender. In our family, I am the saver and my husband is the spender.

It is always difficult to get the other person on your side....probably as difficult as it would be to get you on their side. But yesterday, after 11 years of clicked. Yesterday, I brought my husband to my financial spreadsheet and he bought into it. We openly discussed our finances, our income, and our debts, and we collectively came to an agreement on how we are going to tackle our debt.

Often times people fight about money and it never really goes anywhere. That has been us. We don't really fight about money because we don't really talk about it. And THAT has been our downfall. It's very difficult when the couple is not on the same page....but when you see it in black and white on is a real eye opener.

Yesterday, we updated the spreadsheet, got our refund, and paid off our Dell bill, our couches that we bought last year, and a credit card. It's nice to see that we can come together and work toward a common goal. Miracle, or milestone....I don't care, it is progress!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Filling a camper

Now that the camper is tucked away at home, we are ready to go camping. My husband will be working graveyards all of Spring Break, except for the last three days of it. Those three days, we are planning to take a quick trip back to Jellystone for the camper's maiden voyage.

Now, what are some things that you would need to keep in a camper? Basically, all the same things you need in your home. It is your home away from home, after all. And since we have spent all our money on the down payment, I am left with a teeny, tiny supplies budget.

Thank goodness for our local facebook page: Beg, Barter, Buy, and Sell in Brazoria County. This is an online garage sale site for our area, where I can sell our unused items and purchase other things we might need.

So this weekend, I have been selling a few things that we no longer need, the kids have outgrown, etc, and have found several things that we need for camping.

Here is my list:
  • Queen sheet (we only have a king size bed at home)
  • 2 pillows
  • Queen comforter and sheets
  • 2 twin sheets
  • 2 blankets
  • 2 pillows
  • towels
  • BBQ utensils
  • silverware
  • plates
  • bowls
  • cups
  • pots and pans
  • potholders
  • toaster
  • bath mats
  • welcome mat
  • laundry hamper
  • one of those long lighter thingies to light the stove and oven
  • toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, dishwashing liquid, extra shampoo, etc)
So I have been browsing the site and came up with many things on the list for a very, very inexpensive price. The rest I am hoping to scavenge some things in our closets, long forgotten, and what's left, I will be taking a trip this week to a few of our resale shops to look through their selection. One of our resale shops usually has a pretty extensive selection of kitchen items...but I have never noticed how much plastic ware they have.'s how you roll in a camper!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Proud owners of a travel trailer....

Oh my goodness....we are now the proud owners of a Sprinter travel trailer!

My husband came home from graveyards at 6am and was up at 8 to head to League City to pick up our new home away from home. We are very excited!!!

Josh did a great job driving it home and getting into my parents' driveway. They are so generously letting us store the camper there until we can decide what we are going to be doing...either pouring an extra driveway here at our house, or paying a monthly storage fee.

Here it is!!!

We are already planning a quick trip at Spring Break to Jellystone, and will more than likely be taking the new camper to Canyon Lake this summer for our vacation.

Feeling blessed and happy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

And it's Valentine's Day!

Oh baby!

Good morning to my Valentine boys.....I made the boys a quick Valentine breakfast this morning before heading to school.

Both children got Star Wars plush's with a bag of conversation hearts from Mom and Dad.

Each boy got heart shaped peanut butter toast and bananas :)

Then at school, they participated in Jump Rope for Heart....
and Caleb won a t-shirt :)

After leading my PTO meeting, I got to spend a little time with Jansen in his class "party" before taking Caleb to his doctor's appointment.

What a busy, loved filled day!

And the hubs and I are going to be getting a couple's massage on his next day off...who knows when that will be. I will take a massage over a bouquet of roses any day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine Rice Crispy Treats


Who doesn't love rice crispy treats?

And who doesn't love chocolate?

These were so difficult not to eat as I made them.

And PS, I cheated. I made them the ultra easy way. For the life of me, even though I can bake really well, I have never been able to get my rice crispy treats to turn out right. They are either too dry, or way too gummy. My original plan was to go buy one of those Rice Crispy Sheets that I saw at Walmart around Christmas time, cut out hearts, and dip them in chocolate.

Well, Wallyworld...I am disappointed. I try my best not to go there unless I absolutely have to, and the day that I went just to buy the didn't have any. But, you did have a giant box of 40 individually wrapped rice crispy treats for $8.

Done deal! They were already the perfect size and I only needed 24. The kids can have the rest of them for their lunches.

So I unwrapped each treat, melted some chocolate, dipped half in, threw some sprinkles on the top, and put them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper to refrigerate for about 20 minutes.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valentine Oreo treats

For Jansen's class Valentine's Day non-party (they can't call it a party) I decided to make dipped Oreo's.

Seriously, if you are looking for something really easy that still packs big punch...this is the treat for you! Lazy moms...errr, BUSY moms unite!!!!

Ok, here is what you will need:
  • Oreos
  • chocolate melts (white, milk, or dark...totally up to you)
  • Valentine sprinkles

If you are looking at the Oreos and notice a gap in the cookies, yes, I did eat one. It was broken, alright??? SO I ate it.

Melt the chocolates according to the directions either in a double boiler or in the microwave. I am a microwave woman.

Drop your Oreos in the chocolate until they are covered and then I fished them out with a fork to let the excess chocolate drip off.

Set them onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and sprinkle with Valentine's sprinkles.

Pop them in the refrigerator for a while to set, and they are done. Super cute. :)
Tomorrow I will be working on dipped rice crispy treats. Same theory, almost the same process, just another kind of sugary sweetness.

Friday, February 10, 2012

More inexpensive Angry Birds party favors

I am not sure how many kids will be coming to Caleb's birthday party next month, so I wanted to give the kiddos a couple of options....without breaking the bank.

So I ordered several dozen large lollipops from Oriental Trading...several because they were on sale for $4 a dozen, and because I can use them for Jansen's party in May and add bowling themed cut outs.

I printed out some cupcake toppers from HERE onto card stock and then used a glue dot to adhere it to the lollipop. Then I just finished them off with some leftover curling ribbon from Jansen's birthday party last year. That curling ribbon has been the best buy! I have used that stuff for everything! Balloons, wrapping gifts, Lego party decorations, gifts, Josh's birthday, etc.
They turned out really cute, and cost me a grand total of $20 for Caleb and Jansen's favors.

Quick Angry Birds centerpiece

Like I said in a previous post, Caleb's 9th birthday is next month and he will be having it at a sportsplex in town. The only thing I am able to decorate is one table...the cake table.

Caleb loves the King Pig, so we got him some King Pig favors....

And he also is obsessed with getting the golden egg, on the game and in "real life".

So as a table decoration, I came up with this...

It is basically these materials...

I filled the inside of the Bomb Bird box with styrofoam,
and then lined it with some sheet moss. I found a small grapevine wreath at Hobby Lobby that I used as the bird's nest, and then took one of our plastic garden eggs and painted it using left over gold paint from our marbeled ornament project a couple months back.

Caleb was so excited. He totally thinks it is the real golden egg. Well, whatever works for you kiddo! This will be on one side of the table, and the party favors will be on the other side, with the cake in the middle.

I love my kiddo's birthday!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

So we bought a camper

That's right! We purchased a camper! I am so excited.

Today we went to the RV show in Houston thinking we would get some ideas about floor plans, costs, etc. The first camper we went into had a price tag that was too good to be true for the features. We double checked and the woman said that it was the RV Show discount, and that it was a really great deal. We pretty much thought she was just saying that until we went through the rest of the campers at this show.

We must have gone into 75ish campers and each one, we looked at each other and said...No way. They all had less features for more price. I take that back. Most of the them did. There were several that had the same floor plan, and were comparable, but none had the IT factor that the first one did.

As we started to walk out, I asked to go into it just one more time. By the time we went in, my husband was already figuring out the financials in his head. It was everything we wanted in a camper. So we sat down with the rep, Connie, to figure out how much we needed to put down, payments, pick up, and ask all the questions we could think of. It was a good thing we got started on the paperwork, because another family came in with another rep and were wanting to start paperwork on our camper.

I say "our camper" because I had determined in my mind that it was mine, and I suddenly felt my chest tighten as I became very territorial. Caleb told the lady when she walked into the bedroom that this was his bed, and she said, "Well you haven't bought it yet." And then I bristled.

Our rep came back seconds later and said, "Let's go sign. You just bought a camper!" and the other family's rep asked her if she had just sold it to us. She said, "Yes, I just put the SOLD sign on the outside!" YAY! Evidently, the price was reflective of their supply. That family has to special order another one!!!

So we left the show full of anxious excitement. This is a big purchase, and while it makes me really nervous, we are all so excited to think about all the places we can go in it. We can even take our dog with us, and not board her every time we go somewhere.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Turbo Tax, you are my friend!

Yes, this is a true statement! I have always been very intimidated to do my own taxes, simply because all those forms, lines, and columns make me break out into hives. Seriously, hives. For the last 10 years, my husband and I have gathered all our forms together and taken them to Collins Tax Services for our accountant Desiree.

Unfortunately, we got a letter in the mail a few weeks ago that hurt my feelings. For real. Desiree was retiring and closing up shop. I literally yelled in the car, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Josh and I debated whether or not to find a new tax preparer. Should we do one of the big companies, or should we bite the bullet and do it ourselves? I created a Turbo Tax account and did a quick practice run, just to see if I could handle all the forms, lines, and columns. To my great forms, lines, or columns.

Oh my gosh, this was so easy! Everything was mapped out for us in a simple checklist. I could see the timeline at the top of the screen that displayed my progress, and was soooo comforted by the conversational nature of each question. It was like I had an accountant right there asking me, "Now Amber, do you have a form that says 1099-INT? You do? Great! Write that number right here."

So I did. We were also very happy that the software searched for errors, found a mistake I made in entering the numbers, and helped me fix it. Once it displayed our refund amount, I compared that number to last year's refund and happily noticed that this year's was in the same ball park. Not exactly the same, but within the same time zone, if you will. I would have been scared to death if it was like $2000 more or less. That would be bad.

Anyway, 2 seconds later, our taxes were e-filed and we are currently awaiting the direct deposit of our refund. The whole process took me about an hour and a half, just because I went really slowly because I didn't want to make any mistakes. Next year should be a breeze!

This is going to allow up to pay off several of those smaller pesky bills that are just annoying. A medical bill, our computer, the sofa and loveseat we had to buy in October when our old couch broke, some savings, and then give both my husband and I a little spending money. I think I am going to get really nice haircut, a couple of things for our vacation, and put the rest onto our final credit card. I will weep for joy when that card is finally paid off. I may even sing a song of happiness...but I will warn you first.

Happy Tax Season everyone! (and the world heaves a collective sigh)