Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Recipe and Lost USB and NSS. Oh My!

We had a really great dinner gathering with an awesome family we met through our children.  As a parting gift they gave us a dozen fresh picked apples.  I was originally going to make large batch of crock pot apple butter...but my recipe needed agave...I didn't have agave.  AND, our gracious hosts had made a batch of their very own homemade applesauce.  So, I thought I'd give that a whirl instead.  I'm going to toot my own horn...it was freaking delicious!  Not sure if you can mess that up, but I'm sure someone has in the past.  Here's the step-by step:
Guess what these are?  Apples.
Using a peeler, peel the apples.
Using an apple slicer, slice the apples.
Dice the deliciousness. I did pretty small pieces because I wanted it to cook a little faster AND I don't own a potato masher or a hand held mini blender so I wanted these apples to just mush up on their own.
Throw all the apples into the crock pot on the HIGH setting.
Add in the goodness!!!  I did:
12 peeled, sliced, and diced apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 cup (drizzled all over) honey
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup water
Then you cook on HIGH for about 4-5 hours.  I opened the crock pot about 3 times to stir it up during the last two hours.  The apples mushed up perfectly and made some seriously scrumptious sauce:
Looks quite disgusting, but I assure you it's really good.  Thanks for sharing K Fam!!!

Lost USB:
I still can't find that thing.  It's got to be around here somewhere and I refuse to give up.  I was attempting to be responsible by putting ALL my blog pictures on this thing so I could free up space elsewhere.  Welp, that bit me in the *bleep*.  I'm hoping I can find it soon.

NSS Final Update:
Now, I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't cheat.  I did, I purchased a $2.99 book off of Amazon.  Felt guilty as all get out.  I stuck to my guns and didn't partake in anything that would cost me extra money.  I passed on Starbucks just yesterday AND today.  I DID purchase a cake pop at the Target Starbucks just this morning for Sweet Pickle.  She's been sick, had her finger poked and has YET to whine about it.  The ONLY thing she wanted was a flippin' cake pop.  Sue me.  AND, I DID take my niece out to a movie on Saturday - this was planned this past summer BEFORE I had decided to do the NSS challenge.  So, I used my own money that I'd been saving to have a special day with my niece...worth every penny.  I'm human, I'm going to slip.  Could I do better?  Yes.

My final conclusion on this experiment is that it was a success.  We managed to save a bit of money and also came under budget on groceries the entire month.  What will I take away from this?  Mostly, that I CAN go under budget on our groceries more often than not.  That wasn't the case before this-seemed like we always were going over...it's time to change that.  It was a huge challenge to come up with meals that didn't require additional ingredients, but we made it.  I believe that we will do better about keeping it under budget.  And who doesn't love saving a little money here and there?  I had a lot of people poking fun at me and this challenge, but to all you skeptics out there - BOOYAH!  Did it!!!  Call me "tight wad", "cheapskate" (all in good fun), but I just wanted to see if we could do this.  And we did.  Will I do it again?  Let's just see how next summer goes...

I will NOT be blogging next Tuesday.  I know, I know.  Don't cry, I'll be back on the 14th...hopefully with my freaking USB thingymabobber!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kids Kalendar & NSS Update

I'm not happy today.  I have lost my USB that holds all my blog pix...including the pix I was going to use for today to breakdown our DIY's for the laundry room update.  Sigh.  I've searched high and low, and even asked Sweet Pickle where it was (she's a little pick pocketing critter) - but have turned up empty handed.  Grrrrr!  I'll be turning this house inside out over the next week to find it.  I. Will. Find. It.  Eh, such is life.  Time to move on. 

School is in full swing at our home.  And a few weeks ago, Peanutty came home from school very upset with me.  Here's the convo:

Me:  Hey Buddy!  How was school today?
Peanutty:  Good.  Except that YOU forgot to put my library book back into my backpack for library today.  So I didn't get to get a new book.
Me:  Oh NO!!!  I DID completely forget to put that book into YOUR backpack after I was reading it.  After all, reading about the Pittsburgh Steelers is one of my favorite past times. (please feel free to insert an incredible amount of sarcasm here...I did.)
Peanutty:  Well?  How was I supposed to know to put it in there?!?!
Me:  Alright, how about we get YOU a calendar for your room.  And on that calendar, we can put down everything you need to remember for school and activities?

Which brings me to this:

I purchased a blank dry erase board as well as fine tipped dry erase markers.  All of it set me back (this happened in August-for the record) $15.  I wanted to find one that already had the calendar on it, but they were sold out...it was still back to school time, in a college town, so you snooze you lose.  I lost.

Did a little measuring and BA-DA-BOOM.  I give you a calendar!  I did do the calendar in permanent marker so it was easier to erase the dry erase marker.
I also wrote the days of the week in permanent marker.  I'm leaving it up to Peanutty to write everything down that he thinks is important.
We color coded it:  Red = lunches (we go through the menu at the beginning of the month and he chooses which days he wants school lunch and which days he wants to pack his own).  Blue = anything school related:  assignments, library book due date, book orders.  Green = extra circulars he may be involved in or any kind of sleepover, party, fun thing he's going to do.

Ta-Da!  There you have it.  He chose where to hang this in his room and it's proven to really help keep things in order.  He looks at it first thing in the morning.  It's made him much more responsible.  For us, it's worked...and guess what?  We haven't missed a library day again!

NSS UPDATE:  Still going strong in not spending any extra money this month.  We were treated to dinner out by my in-laws, which was DELISH!  I'm already craving a few restaurants, but I'm trying to keep it at bay.  And last Friday, I did have to ask a friend to talk me off the ledge because I REALLY wanted to shop, but I didn't.  Between not eating out and staying at home most weekends/days off - we've saved some - enough to be proud of.  Only 7 more days until the challenge is complete!

Here's just a little eye candy for you today, I was in awe of it when I saw it this summer:
All that stuff hanging is Washi Tape.  Be amazed.

Have a most wonderful week, wish me luck on my hunt for the USB thingy.  Until next Tuesday...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Laundry Room Makeover Part 1 - NSS Update

I've been thinking of re-vamping our laundry room for a while now, but needed to save up the money to execute it.  I had budgeted $150 for everything:  paint, supplies, decor, shower curtain, valance, light fixture, blinds, towels...the good stuff.  I managed to go $18 over budget.  Gasp!  Before you all roll your eyes and get disgusted with me (wink), I'll break it down for you.  But first, PICTURES!!!


I didn't bother cleaning it up to take before pix.  Why?  Because this is real life here.  This is what a laundry room looks like when it's being lived in.  I especially like the bathroom floor mats (from out other bathroom) on top of the shower curtain - they were drying.  Hey!  I had to hang them somewhere!!!  As you can see, it's a really deep hunter green color - which I adore.  But, fact is, there's only one small window in this room causing it to be REALLY dark in there, even with three lights on.  Not to mention the darker paint color didn't hide water splashes on the walls.  Not that we go in there, wash our hands and shake them all over the place...but we do have two littles that actually DO do that.  It's a long and narrow room that has purpose but I wanted to make it even more functional.  So, I did.  The shelving above the washer and dryer is essential for toilet paper, paper towels, ironing stuff (I had NEVER used this before I started sewing...my Mom gave it to me when I moved into our house 10 years ago...and I just started sewing over the past 8 months), detergents and such. 

After removing everything from the walls, we patched up the holes, and taped.  My god I hate taping.  I mean it.  Actually, I loathe anything and everything painting - except the end product.  I'm very fortunate that I have an awesome Aunt (thanks again AT!) that is always us for some painting and gabbing. Here's my favorite part:

 After two coats of Sherwin Williams, March Wind it's transformed to a whole different room.  Even after just the first coat, it was brighter and very inviting...to do laundry.  I replaced the mirror with a mirror we had received as a gift years ago.  It was actually a bronze and black mirror, so I took some white spray paint (actually my BFF BA did it for me) to it and it looks like a brand new mirror.  While I wanted a new light fixture, it wasn't in the budget (and clearly I had no idea how expensive they were), so Hubby just flipped it over to make the lighting a little less harsh and it's just the ticket!!!

Two homemade shadow boxes replaced the four framed pix above the toilet.  They hold our tp and facial tissue.  Plus a little pretty blue bird (thank you TS!) and my inspiration for the entire room is wrapped up in that little yellow bowl.  I originally wanted to accent with all yellow, but decided I didn't want that much of it.  So I did a mix of navy blue, kind of a mute mustard yellow, and the gray.  I got that little bowl at....Target for $3.99.

 Sigh.  This is one of my favorite parts.  The shower curtain and window valance were actually made from fabric purchased at Hobby Lobby for 40% off.  Yay!  And...I made them!!!  I was so stinking proud of these!  I learned how to do button holes and they're so easy!  Thanks to my Hubby, I can do just about anything on that sewing machine.  The man is a jack of all trades...seriously, I'm a lucky woman.

 If you remember, there were two almost full length shelves above the washer and dryer.  Originally, I wanted to make barn board shelving.  Well, after discussing my ideas with Hubs, he gave me a completely, FREE option.  Re-using the shelves, but altering them to how I wanted them to function.  My main idea was that I wanted to be able to hang items for drying without it partially laying on the dryer.  Well, he just switched the shelves and then down sized the bottom shelf to give me space to do just that!  The man is smart. 

And yet another one of my favorite things!  We now moved all the coats (we still have a coat closet at the front of the house, but the coats we will wear regularly will be put here), and backpacks into the laundry room.  Instead of buying hook racks, we made them.  We made 3 of them;  two for coats/backpacks and the other is by the sink for towels.  There are two Container Store baskets under the hooks.  One holds my purse, so I can drop it in there right when I get home.  The other is for Hub-a-licious' work clothes.  Before both work clothes and my purse were just thrown on the floor somewhere in the house, now, they have a place to go so they don't get in the way and also don't ruin my make over eye candy.  We put the hats/mittens shoe organizer on the inside of the door instead of the outside - it helped make the back door area much less cramped!

Aaaaah!  I'm in love.  I adore it.  Here's how the finances broke down:

$90 Paint - originally I had only budgeted for 1 gallon of paint, but I was wrong.  So, $45 of my budget went to an additional gallon of paint, causing me to cut down on my plans.
$25 Fabric - this was for the shower curtain and the valance.  WAY cheaper than purchasing them already made...and it was so FUN!
$53 Miscellaneous - this was for the wood to make the shadow boxes and hook racks, yellow paint to accent the inside of shadow boxes, hooks, cute bowl, two hand towels.

I left out the blinds and a new light fixture - which is just fine by me.  I can always do those later down the road, but for now, it's perfect!

There you have it.  I know there's one question that's just KILLING you to know...where in the world did she get the extra $18 when she went over budget!?!?!  Well, I stole it.  I pick pocketed a man at Menards - when a lady gets desperate, she'll do anything!  Of course, I'm kidding.  Do you remember that accordion file that I use to save money for random things I want to do?
If you haven't - that's too bad.  Shame on you.  Well, in the very back of this accordion file, I had been saving fives.  If a $5 bill comes into my hands, I do NOT spend it.  I tuck it away in the back of this file.  Well, since I've never established what I would do with those fives, I used 4 of them to pick up my budget over spend.  Speaking of spending...

NO SPEND SEPTEMBER is still in full swing!!!  You will be proud to know that I haven't spent a penny.  Well, I've spent money on groceries, BUT I'm happy to report that due to my pantry style cooking, we managed to save $50 on groceries since September 1st.  My hope is to save at least $125 when the month is over, but if cheese goes on sale for $1 again, it's game over.  The ONLY unplanned item I did purchase was a fall/spring jacket for Sweet Pickle.  Where we live, there's been some serious whiplash in the weather, so a jacket was a need, not a want.  I didn't feel bad about this purchase because:  #1.  The way we budget, we have a built in account to purchase clothing for the kids.  #2.  I went to a couple consignment stores looking for a deal only to come up short.  #3.  Sweet Pickle's warmth meant more to me than not spending a penny.

Tuesday I will break down one of the DIY's we accomplished with the make over, and the play-by-play on my 2015 planner.  I will tell you, it is in my possession...and it's oh-so amazing!!!

Have a marvelous week!  Until Tuesday my Sweatpants friends!!!

*Side Note:  THE sweatpants that were the inspiration for the name of my blog, passed away last week.  I mourned the loss while tossing them into the garbage can.  I can only hope they knew just how happy they made me.  Much like the sweatpants I'm wearing right now.*
**I'm not reading through this bad boy today.  Gots laundry to fold!**

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Confession...And Craft Supplies

Sigh.  I have already failed.  8 days into September, and I slipped.  Sigh, again.  I'm feeling horribly guilty.  8 days of doing great!!!  You may not know this, but I ADORE to read.  I could do it day in and day out if I have the right kind of book to snuggle in with and just read.  I love getting lost in a story while drinking a chai...who am I kidding, I just love chai.  Well, since it's NSS (No Spend September), I perused the free books on Amazon for my Kindle.  I snagged up a few good ones, but I came to find out that most of the one's I downloaded were the first book in a series.  Damn you Amazon!  Well played.  They get you hooked on a book with these characters you fall in love with and you just HAVE to find out what happens next.  Well...I caved.  Folks, I spent $2.99 on the second book (there's only two in this "series").  I IMMEDIATELY felt guilty and broke the news to my husband.  He 100% knew what I was going to tell him considering I had JUST told him that morning about how it was killing me not knowing what happened with Cole and Oakley.  The man knows me...too well.  He lectured me (in his "I'm going to rub this in her face because she already feels bad and in reality, I don't really mind that she bought the book" kind of way), and I promised to do better.  Which in reality, we've done great!  Now is when I slide in all the positive things we've done the past week, to cover up my slip:

  • We ate out of the pantry for the most part.  I did go to the store today to pick up some items that should get us through for the next 1.5-2 weeks with the exception of purchasing milk.  All together I spent $50.  When Friday rolls around, we will be $50 UNDER budget for groceries.  That's $50 we can throw into savings, OR we can leave it in the grocery fund to bulk it up for when we purchase 1/2 cow later or to simply stock up on meat.
  • We stuck close to home all weekend.  We did attend a wedding, but I had already purchased the gift a month ago.  It was actually a homemade gift that I'll be posting about later.  We also spent time with family and did a "bring whatcha got" potluck for lunch one day.  It was mah-velous!
  • I've avoided Target...until today.  I wanted to see if their school supplies was on clearance yet, some of it was but it wasn't anything I thought we could use in the future, so I passed on ALL OF IT.  Believe it.  I actually walked away with nothing.  BOOYAH!  In your face Target!!!
  • Peanutty was a little peeved about NSS.  He has saved up his money for a toy he thinks he wants, but I'm sticking to my guns about NSS (ALRIGHT!  ALRIGHT!!!  I feel guilty enough about the $2.99-get off my back) and told him to hold out until October.  Some days he's on board, some days not so much.  But, I have a feeling we'll have a very happy boy at the end of the month when he has saved MUCH more than he is thinking.
 This past summer, my kids and my nephew were playing with all our craft stuff.  It was a glorious mess...but it also made me realize that what I had going on needed to be revamped.  Again.  We acquire more and more stuff, but it's the kind of "stuff" I'm ok with being overwhelmed by. 

The Mess.
The caddy that used to be organized and is now a crazy graveyard for all things crafting.  It was time to re-vamp.

I originally had the cabinet full of containers with paper, stickers, tattoos, foam paper, craft caddy, coloring pads, coloring books and notebooks...you name it, it was in this cupboard.  Here's what I came up with:

Here's the supplies I worked with.  I found the white bins at Target for $1 each.  The dollar bins are the way to go when looking for something small to organize with.  For $4, I found what I needed and they're cute.  I also already had the hanging file folders and container.  I was using the container for holding my overstock of school supplies.  I since found a different container to use that I already had.  Just recycled a few of my container supply!!!
Here's the end product.  The hanging file folder is now used for all my paper items including: construction paper, drawing paper, notebook paper, tattoo's, foam sheets, coloring pages that have been printed off the computer, scrap paper (I keep the larger pieces, seems like we need just a little bit of this and that for certain school projects), and a miscellaneous folder for all the other "special" kinds of things that don't have a category and I have no idea what to do with it.  I used the white containers for:  crayons (we had boxes that were ripped, so I opened them and put them all in one container), stamps and colored pencils, markers and painting supplies.  Sweet Pickle has gotten into painting a LOT lately, so I thought it deserved a container.  

I will confess that the crayons do slip through the holes of these containers at times but it's a small price to pay for a $1 bin.  We color and create every day.  I'm not exaggerating.  Peanutty especially loves to make his own books.  Last fall I found that the dollar bins at Target had these gems:

These are 8x8 blank page books.  There were 8 in a pack for the small price of $3.  We had been just stapling paper together and that still works great, but these really inspired that little boys mind.  He blew through an 8 pack in a matter of days and had created a pretty rad series.  He LOVES theses.  So this year I was hoping Target would put these back in the dollar bins...YAY!  THEY DID!!!  I stocked up on them (I did this in August!!!  FYI) and have even spread the word to many others about these wonderful things.  I think they're the cats meow.  And finally here's the other find I found in the dollar bins:
I love these.  Not only are they cute, but they work so well for each kid to have their own few supplies if they're going to create other than the kitchen table.  We go downstairs so I can sew or do other fun work, so we pack these full of items they'll use and take it downstairs.  They love their own little caddy's that they can personalize with their own supplies.  Super cute!!!!

I feel much better having told you all of my spending slip, and I'm trying to think of ways to save that $2.99 that I had to spend (I would have spent it on October 1st).  Any suggestions on how to make up for the $2.99?  I still feel guilty...

Next week, I'm going to start a series labeled:  The Laundry Room Makeover.  Squeek!!!  I'm so excited to show you all!!!  I hope you all have a great week...until next Tuesday...

*Side Note:  I will not be proof reading this one.  I have to get a chicken in the oven for supper.*
**Side Note:  I will also be reading on how Cole and Oakley are doing in my $2.99 spending slip up.**
***Side Note:  I am awaiting the arrival of my 2015 planner...oh yes, I WILL be making Hubs take sequenced pix of me receiving the box, squealing over the box, opening the box, and then adoring what's IN the box.  Get ready.  I'm going to show you how excited YOU could be if YOU ordered one.  Worth it (she sang)!***

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jewelry EVERYWHERE!!! And An Update On N.S.S.

I'm first going to blog about a little solution I came up with for Sweet Pickles mess of fancy jewels.  This one is complete with photos so that will make this entry WAY better than me flapping my gums!!!  If any of you have been around a little girl that enjoys playing dress up (mine favors the super hero look as opposed to princesses and tutu's, but she dabbles in the accessory department [especially if said accessory is a Captain America shield]), you probably have seen the plethora of beaded necklaces and bracelets, watches, tiaras, and rings.  Here's what we were currently using to keep all of this stuff corralled:

This was a $5 bucket I picked up about 2 years ago at...Target.  Weird, I know.  ;)  It's been a wonderful bucket to us and has been the keeper of many things, but it wasn't cutting it for the beloved pretties for Sweet Pickle.  In her frustration, this is what it would end up like:
Yep.  Dumped on the floor and then would be left there for an unsuspecting parent to waltz in with an armful of laundry to put away.  Please note the tiara that has pokey beads and hair combs on each end...it'll bring you to your knees in a hurry.  Not like a Lego does, but pretty damn close.  I've been doing my best to recycle what we already have for my re-organizing ideas and I remembered something that I thought would come in handy:
BOOM!!!  Awwww yeah!  That's right, a silverware divider.  I thought with a little creativity, it'd be like her own little jewelry box.  Here's what I came up with:
YAY!!!  She has plenty of space for all her "pitties" (pretties) and she can see everything.  I must add that this photo is extra awesome due to her cute little feeties.  The tiara was sacrificed for the sake of organizing.  Kidding.  It just sits on top when on the shelf...what shelf?  Oh yeah:
The bucket is now used to hold all her Disney "action figures".  I wish I could say it all still looks like this right now, but I assure you.  It doesn't.  But a very easy fix for a mess of a bucket!!!

NOW, onto my N.S.S. (No Spend September) update.  Well, it's day 2 and I've already come up with a dozen ideas of fun stuff for me and Sweet Pickle to do...all of which COST MONEY!  Drat.  In all honesty, it's all going smooth so far, but like I said, it's only day 2.  Here are just a couple examples of how I've avoided spending money in just two days:

  • This morning, instead of heading to the zoo (it's a gorgeous day), we came home and played with a sticker book, painted our nails (both fingers and toes) and played the Wii together.  We'll be watching a movie during quiet time and heading to the park for the afternoon as well!  I make it seem like I've got a spending problem when it comes to entertaining my daughter-I don't.  We stay home most days that I'm off.  We do a lot of reading, watching movies, pajama days (we do this A LOT in the winter), have company over, play outside, ride bikes, water play, sidewalk chalk AND a lot of cleaning, she's pretty darn good at folding towels...the list is endless!
  • I was invited to go out to eat with some old friends from high school (can't wait you guys!!!), so I was honest in saying that I'd be eating before hand, but would love to come and visit while they ate...yes, I'm going to be like an annoying toddler asking for bites, but I'm sure they'll all oblige.  Kidding girls.
  • I am re-scheduling my September haircut for sometime in October.  My hair will be a mess by then, but again, I'm up for the challenge.  Since I'm one of those women that do their hair every day and NEVER puts it in a ponytail...hehehe.
  • Yesterday for the holiday off, we did some car cleaning, played outside, rode bikes, put together puzzles and flew a kite.  About the kite thing, we all walked to the park, got the kite in the air and I said "let's see how high we can get it!".  After it was about 18 miles in the sky, they decided they wanted a snack and went home leaving me to reel it in.  Took me 21 minutes because it was so windy.  But my point is, we found other fun things to do at home.  As a matter of fact, we stayed home the entire weekend with the exception of dinner with family.  We made our own fun, and got a lot accomplished!
Summary:  I don't think this is going to be too horribly hard.  I've gotten a lot of feedback about this plan and I've gotten a lot of:  "It gives me anxiety just thinking about it", "You're crazy", "Wow, wish I could do that", and my favorite: "In honor of your No Spend September, I'm going shopping" - that was on day 1.  BUT, I have gotten one:  "Good for you".  I love me a good challenge!!!  Again, I'm always looking for ways to save money or spend less, so please, send me your ideas!!!  I know I'm not the only one that loves to read other blogs about money saving ideas!!!  Or am I???

Hope you all had a safe and happy weekend!!!  Until next week!!!

*Side note:  I'll be going to Sweet Pickles room right after publishing this to tidy up her pretties.*
**Do you taste that?  It's the taste of that sweet iced chai...thank goodness I have a carton or two stored!!**