Friday, July 29, 2016

five on friday

Today is the last day of our quarter at work and it has been an absolutely insane week. I'm definitely glad it's Friday!

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{1} Chocolate chip cookie bars. You guys. I cannot even convey to you how delicious these are. My friend, Marge, had them at a meal she hosted months ago and I just assumed any ole cookie bar recipe would do. I tried one other and it was meh. She had mentioned at the time she had pinned it on Pinterest so I stalked her page (shout out to Marge for making it super easy by having a board called "Recipes I've Made") and texted Jon the recipe. He made it yesterday. The entire pan is now gone. We did share a few with our friend, Sam, who texted me late last night, "Um heeellooo these cookie bars *praise hands emoji* the *bomb emoji". So yes. You should absolutely make them.

{2} Happy babies. Yesterday afternoon the kids climbed into my lap and were both in a giggly mood so I asked Jon to take a picture of us since I can't remember the last time I had my picture taken with both my babies at the same time. I may have had to tickle both of them to get them to smile but it was well worth the effort.

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{3} Kitchen table. We bought our current kitchen set from Big Lots on Black Friday in 2009 for our future first apartment together. It was probably less than $200 for a 5-piece set and has served us well over the past 7 years. That being said, it is definitely worse for the wear (the chairs are particularly beat up and starting to fall apart a bit) so Jon and I are entertaining the idea of upgrading. However, our eat-in kitchen area is tiny so we don't have much space to work with, and we want to have 5 chairs instead of 4 since eventually Baby Turkey will need more than just a high chair. Between this and budgetary restrictions I think we decided on refinishing the table top and just buying 5 chairs to replace the ones we have. I like these (especially for that price!) and these, but I'm still running into the issue where I can only get them in even numbers. On second thought - praise the good Lord for IKEA! I'm thinking we may need to order 5 of these or these.

{4} 25.5 weeks pregnant: According to my Nurture app, the baby is 13.6" long, about 1.5 pounds, and the size of a large cucumber. I'm definitely grateful that my body isn't in as bad shape as it was at this point with Edith, but each day it's getting harder. My pelvis hurts most at night and first thing in the morning and I have developed the waddle. As of tomorrow only 100 days until my due date!

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{5} Meal planning. Jon and I usually plan our meals for the week on Saturday and do our shopping on Sunday. I decided to head to Pinterest for some additional inspiration and I think narrowed it down to the following:
Tuesday - leftovers
Thursday - small group 
Friday - homemade pizza night
Saturday - leftovers

Thursday, July 28, 2016

christmas in july

I know I'm technically 3 days late, but as part of our big budgeting overhaul we really wanted to buckle down on our spending at Christmas. Not that we go all out - last year we started doing a toned-down Christmas with the kids: 1 big combined gift (last year it was their playhouse) from us, 1 small gift per kid from each of us (we're talking Target Dollar Spot small), and about 2 small ($30 or less total) gifts from Santa (plus stocking stuffers).

Our reasons for dialed-back Christmas were twofold. As it stands, our kids are the only niece/nephew/grandchildren on both sides of our families and therefore get tons of gifts from others. Second, we recognize that not every family can afford to go all out (ourselves included, if we're being transparent) and we don't want our kids to unknowingly hurt the feelings of another kid if Santa were to bring our kids a "big" gift but not another child. That's why we chose to make the "big" gift from us. And between the handful of gifts that they got on Christmas morning and the stockings, there were no complaints at all about there not being enough.

In any case, since we started budgeting midway through 2016 (and we are still getting the hang of it) we already discussed what we will be able to afford at Christmas time. We have made the decision to do homemade gifts for all the extended relatives (our grandparents, cousins, aunts/uncles) and only purchase for our family unit, our siblings, and our parents. Since I don't want the gifts we will make to be a total last-minute bust that people will throw out anyway, I already created a whole private Pinterest board of things I think our families would genuinely like and use. I have made plans to start working on those pre-Baby Turkey so that I have any hope of actually getting them done.

As for the kids, we have discussed what our big gift for them will be. As it stands now, we have $100 budgeted for their big gift. Perhaps in the coming years if our financial situation changes that will go up slightly since we are adding another kiddo to the mix. But we feel really good about that number (probably because we got their playhouse for brand new at exactly that amount on Black Friday last year) and we decided that in the future as their interests diverge we could switch the big gift from a physical gift to an experience (something like going to one of the indoor water parks in the area for a day - a special thing we don't typically get to do) or something that all our kids would enjoy. This year I would LOVE to get the kids a 2-seater Power Wheels because Elden's little power motorcycle recently died as their big gifts. Unfortunately, I don't know how realistic that is since the cheapest one I could find online right now is this $200 one (which didn't get great reviews). I have considered giving them a used one--we are no strangers to used toys for the kids--but my fear would be that it would die more quickly than a new one. The next thought was to get them a teeter totter because there was one on the playground we visited in Delaware and Elden has been asking about it since. The latter choice makes me nervous, though, due to possible bodily harm. Suffice to say, we are going to be keeping an eye on the sales between now and Christmas so if you see an amazing deal on a 2-seater ride-along toy please let me know!

In the meantime, Santa has started his shopping, too. We already got Elden his birthday gifts (this and this) and Edith hers (this), so Santa can focus strictly on Christmas. There were some awesome sales on toys at Zulily a few days ago, so Santa got the following:
Learning Resources Human Anatomy Body Model Set for Elden
Munchkin Green Sponge Bottle Brush for BT
Aurora World Inc. Lil Raccoon Rattle for BT
Santa has about $8 left for Elden, $20 for Edith and $13 for the baby, plus $10/kiddo for their stockings. Elden is fascinated by the human body - hence the choice in toy - so Santa is also looking for a play Dentist set since Elden has also expressed an interest in something like that (Santa isn't having much luck). Santa has no idea what to get Edith since her interests are ever-changing, but right now he's looking at this or this (there was also a Circo playset she was obsessed with at Target but I'm not seeing it on their website). Santa will likely also get some teethers for the baby and maybe an outfit or two depending on what we may need. 

Budgeting has definitely helped me be more intentional in my spending and planning. Since we don't have much to work with I'm really trying to think about what each child would truly appreciate and play with. For their stockings, I will likely get them some candy, probably a Chapstick (they love their Chapstick...), maybe some temporary tattoos, and a small book or two each (I'm thinking a few from this series). Nothing too crazy but all little things I know they'd love. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

what's up wednesday

Linking up again!

What we're eating this week:

Vegetarian Fried Rice

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Jon's Homemade Potato Pierogi

What I'm reminiscing about:

One year ago yesterday was our first full day in the new house. I recently went through some of my nursery pictures from the old house and boy did it make me miss that place. There was so much character and we poured so much into bringing it from the dirty foreclosure it was into a home that we loved. The new house has been good to us--after all that work in a 3 year span on the old house, I was pretty worn out--and there's something about "move-in ready" that just rolls off the tongue, but I definitely miss the character from our old place.

What I'm dreading:
baby Elden two years ago. Hold me.
Preschool starting. We have about a month still, but we already bought Elden's supplies and have a picnic scheduled, as well as his meet the teacher/student assessment. The days of easy, lazy mornings will be behind us as we embark on having a school-aged child. I really hope he thrives in preschool and loves it, but I am so worried. That's normal, right?

What I'm working on:

My mom, sister and I have already scheduled a date in September to work on some Fall and Christmas crafts. We have a whole list of items (this, thisthis, this, this and this - to name a few) that I am dreaming about. Since we had to cut down two trees in our backyard this spring I have lots of wood for the wood projects which certainly makes it easier! We are also still working on finalizing Edith's new room before moving on to repainting Elden's. All that's left is to attach her wardrobe to the wall, trade mattresses (we are swapping the air bed that was in there with my parent's old guest bed) and hang pictures!

What I'm excited about:
More ice cream dates before preschool starts. We hit up Sonic yesterday and it was easily one of my favorite memories of this summer.

What I'm watching/reading:

Still haven't read anything except for magazines and compliance documents recently...

Not watching much, either. Jon and I did recently tap into some Drunk History on Hulu, though...

What I'm listening to:

Mayday Parade - on repeat. I fully intend on using some of my August fun money to buy the CD.

What I'm wearing:

Whatever I can squeeze into... mostly maxi dresses and leggings. 

What I'm doing this weekend:

We have swim class for the kids on Saturday--one of their favorite parts of the week.

Sunday I work in the toddler room during church. After church I am getting measured for the modifications to my bridesmaids dress for that wedding I'll be in the first weekend of September. After the kids' naps that day our neighborhood is having a Family Fun Day with a potluck and an inflatable slide so we also hope to go to that!

Since Sunday is jam packed we are hoping to have a relatively low-key Friday and Saturday.

What I'm looking forward to next month:
Elden's birthday party! He ended up deciding on a monster theme so I made the invitations on Picmonkey and got the plates/napkins/decorations from Oriental Trading. I'm definitely in the laid back party season of parenting, so we are not going all out. I realized last year that Elden doesn't care if he has a Pinterest perfect party or not, and all that was doing to me was causing me stress and costing me lots of money. For this party he requested we have it at our neighborhood pavilion (which we get to rent for free thanks to our HOA!) and playground with burgers and hot dogs. Done and done, kiddo!

What else is new:
We got a new dishwasher! Ours started making crazy noises basically the day after our home warranty expired (go figure), so we decided to bite the bullet. It took Jon a lot of fighting but he was able to install it himself and I am so grateful for such a handy husband.

We have just over 3 months until this baby is due and Jon and I are floored that it's getting so close.

I think we have officially decided on names after wavering a bit, so stay tuned on that.

We have been doing a so-so job on sticking to the budget this month. Overall it was WAY better than it had been pre-budget, so I shouldn't let myself get too discouraged, but it definitely stinks logging into Mint and seeing that big ole red bar!

Friday, July 22, 2016

six on friday: baby turkey catch up

I just realized that I never did blog about Baby Turkey's anatomical ultrasound! Poor third child. As such...

pic taken about a week ago
{1} 24.5 Weeks: As of today I am less than a month out from my third trimester. My sleep has definitely deteriorated but this is compounded by the fact that Elden is waking up multiple times per night (which I then use the opportunity to go to the bathroom). However, since I had such great sleep the first half of this pregnancy I'm not complaining. My lower back is starting to bother me and so is my pelvis, but again, not as bad as with Edith so I won't complain too much (yet). Baby is active and I keep seeing the kicks from the outside.

{2} Pityriasis Rosea: About a week before we left for vacation I noticed a large discolored spot on my right thigh. I didn't lend much thought to it--pregnancy does weird things to your body. However, it didn't go away and then a lot of smaller spots ended up showing up a few weeks later across the front and back of my torso. They were itchy. The NP at my OB's office wasn't sure what it was but afraid it might be PUPPP and did a lot of bloodwork to rule that out. That wasn't it, so I ended up going to a dermatologist for my diagnosis. I was somewhere around 16 weeks when the first spot appeared so I have a call into my OB to make sure I don't need to be worried about complications for the baby since the literature is mixed about whether this puts me at risk for pre-term labor, a baby with hypotonia at birth, etc.

{3} GD Test: Today I have my 1-hour gestational diabetes test. I will not make the same mistake I made last year and eat a large slice of red velvet cake 2 hours beforehand (totally worth it tbh). I've also scheduled my Rhogam and pertussis shots for August. Things are starting to move right along.

{4} Big brother and sister: Lest you think I have lost track of my elder children in the excitement of new baby, fear not! Elden and Edith have been talking more about the baby lately. Elden is especially excited--every night when I lay with him he says to me, "let's talk about the new baby!" He wants to know how small it will be, what it will do, etc. He says he thinks it is a boy and we will name him Cutie, but if it is a girl we should name her Ida. I'm not sure how much Edith really understands (or cares, frankly) at this point but the good news is she hasn't had a total meltdown the past 2-3 times I've held other people's babies and she claims she will give up her pacifier for the new baby. Time will tell...

{5} The weather: I have to admit, we have had quite a few unseasonably cool days. But I'm noticing a trend where I get pregnant and then it becomes the hottest summer in a decade and stuff. When I logged in to check the weather this morning and was met with this blazing headline I was not happy. Suffice to say, this just adds fuel to the no-more-bio-babies-for-us fire.

{6} Baby Turkey's Ultrasound!: Baby was measuring right on track--to the exact date and everything. We don't know the sex but I've been thinking girl and Jon is thinking boy as of last night. Baby was all curled up in a ball with the feet by the face--just like Edith was in her big ultrasound. It also kept playing with its feet (the top pic is it holding its toes with both hands). The head measured somewhere in the 40th percentile (praise the Lord!) and as far as they could tell everything was sound from an anatomical perspective. The latest my OB will let me go is 41 weeks, so hopefully we have a baby to take home no later than November 15!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

the isolation of being a working mom

I feel like I've written a post with a similar tone before, but lately I just feel so isolated. One of the major pros that working moms champion is the adult interaction you get in a work place that is out of the home. While I absolutely agree that this is a perk, I feel like it is often confused with adult friendship.

Sure, I like my coworkers a lot, but we don't hang out. Meanwhile, I am often included on group texts of my stay at home mom friends who are planning weekday play dates and I am reminded that I am not part of that. And it really sucks. Please don't confuse my sadness with the notion that I think they shouldn't have play dates--I absolutely think they should. I would be doing the same, too. It's just hard to feel like you are missing out on your friendships--because you are--and not be able to do anything about it. Play dates don't happen on weekends because the working parent is home and that's family time. I absolutely get it. It's this exact reason that I usually don't make plans at all with friends during weekday evenings or on weekends if I can't have my family there also. I already have so much guilt and sadness about being away from my family during my working hours that it is a huge sacrifice for me to do anything without them when I can be with them. So I totally understand why my friends just want to spend time with their significant other and kids during non-working hours.

But all this mom guilt and feeling like I should never be away from the kids, even if it's to nurture a friendship? It's exhausting. To hear your friends referencing stories and history they've already shared that you weren't part of is lonely. To see all the cute pictures of the kids playing and forging their own friendships tempts me to buy into the antiquated belief that a good mom is home with her kids and not in the workplace (even though we both know what complete and utter horse $*%# that is).

So I've really been struggling to find the balance. I love Jon and he is so wonderful, supportive and emotionally available to me at all times, but I can't always rely on just him. That's not his job and it's not healthy. I've always craved friendship. But I feel like I don't really belong anywhere. Not in the group of my friends who stay home with their kids. Not with my friends who don't have kids--mostly because I'm the jerk who is always declining plans with them since they often involve me not spending time with the family when I can be. And honestly, I don't think I really have many fellow working mom friends who have the typical Monday through Friday 9-5 schedule (I have several working mom friends who are in the medical/hospitality fields and therefore work different hours) so they are able to do the play dates with the stay at home mom group. It's just really lonely.

I'm not sure why I felt compelled to write this. Perhaps it's an apology for blowing off my friends without kids (I really am sorry--trust me, it's me, not you). Or maybe it's a plea to my stay at home mom friends to maybe consider a family-friendly play date on a weeknight or weekend so we can catch up (I've tried to organize a few but few people are willing/available). (It's actually both). But please don't mistake the adult interaction I get five days a week with friendship. Please don't forget to ask me how we're doing every so often since I didn't actually get to catch up with you at the park last week. Please don't be so quick to decline when I try to invite you and your family over for a weeknight meal. I miss you. I just want to be part of your life.

Friday, July 15, 2016

five on friday: budgeting edition

Since I've been on a budgeting roll the past few days, I figured I'd extend it into Friday with five other ways we have been working our budget to save money.

{1} Costco gas. This is hands down where we achieve the biggest savings on our Costco membership. We are fortunate that we have a Costco within 10 minutes of us and we have noticed the gas price there is consistently $0.20-$0.30 less per gallon than other gas stations in our area. For my 12-gallon tank alone we easily save around $10 per month on just my car by filling up at Costco. Include the van and that number is closer to $15-20. Total yearly savings = around $180.

{image source} Snagged this for Edith's birthday on Amazon Prime Day for $15 off
{2} Gift budgeting. We decided to try budgeting $100 for gifts a month. This will be for birthdays, holidays (Mother's/Father's Day, Christmas), anniversaries, baby showers and weddings. It seems like we have a lot of family birthdays between January-May and then again August-November. This means we have to be really conscious of how much we can spend on gifts and will require some creativity. This year we spent just about $30 on each of the kids for their birthday gifts with the hope of rolling the leftover (I initially planned to spend $50/each) into their Christmas presents. Since we really set the pace last year for Christmas (1 big combined gift from us with 2-3 very small gifts from Santa each) I am hoping to keep the Christmas budget reasonable, but we still need to look at the gift budget for the next 5 months and really hammer out what we can afford to spend on everyone. But since we have a set amount we can spend towards gifts each month that means we really need to watch our spending so we can afford Christmas.

Happy boy at our fav ice cream shop.
{3} Fun money. We budgeted $100/month for "fun money"--$25 each for Jon and me, and $50 for the family. Jon has decided he is going to save his fun money up for a new bike. I've been leaving mine in the pot because I want to do bigger things (for instance, our town's home days fair = that costs money) during the month and the $50 family budget will go fast. In an effort to make the most of our "fun money," we have mostly been using it to get small treats like doughnuts or ice cream. We classify any restaurant or excursion under this umbrella so it really does take planning to make it last the whole month.

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{4} Internet. We do not have cable. We have not had cable for a few years now. We do have a digital antenna we bought that gives us most network channels with great clarity. This means right now we only spend $25/month on internet and $0 on cable. Since we cut out the $50+ cable bill, we did "splurge" a bit on a Hulu Plus ($8/month) membership to watch our non-network shows. That being said, we use Bing to search and that means we earn rewards that can be cashed in for a free month of Hulu Plus from time to time.
An actual overview of where our money has been going this month.
{5} Mint. This isn't so much a budget as it is a budgeting tool. You can link it up to your bank and credit card accounts and set budgets. As you earn and spend money, the transactions show up in Mint where you can categorize it into its respective budget. This helps you see what you spend and where you spend it to really nail down a budget that you can work with. Something I discovered last month is you can actually split a transaction in Mint into different budgets. This is huge for me because one of the reasons I always stopped budgeting was I would make, say, a Target purchase that included clothing, diapers, groceries, and pet supplies--all of which are four different budgets for us--and I didn't know how to classify it. Now I can split it up into all those categories to really see where our money is going. This has been a major game changer and it's a great way to keep us accountable.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

budgeting 101: meal planning

I. Hate. Meal. Planning. Loathe, with the fire of a thousand suns. It is the bane of my existence. Because food is my love language and I have very real aversions and cravings on the daily. But being a spontaneous eater is not conducive to being wise with our spending.

So what does meal planning look like for us? We try to meal plan on Saturday so we can get any groceries we need that day for a meal for after church Sunday. We try to stick with something we can use in the slow cooker because we get home from church right at lunch and don't have much time to make anything. Sundays have definitely become Soup Sunday. We are kind of loose with our meal planning in that we will switch around the day we make the food based on what we are craving or what leftovers we still have. The meal planning is for dinner--lunch time usually consists of leftovers (Jon and I) or macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, sandwiches, chicken nuggets, etc. for the kids. For breakfast we usually eat cereal, bagels, pancakes or oatmeal. Our kids are oatmeal fiends. Jon makes it from scratch for the kids almost every day. I tend to opt for the stuff I can grab as I run out the door.

So without further adieu:

chicken, potato & spinach soup
Guys, I love Soup Sunday. For starters, there are SO MANY KINDS of soups out there. And then the prep. I am a big fan of the dump and go soup recipes (nothing kills a slow cooker buzz faster than finding a delicious recipe for the slow cooker and quickly realizing you have to do a million things to prep the food to be put into the slow cooker) of which there seem to be plenty. I can typically find a vegetarian soup that usually at least one kid will eat as well. It makes a lot for very little money. And I think my favorite part is the fact that soup is typically a delicious leftover--I can take it to work for lunch and not dread it. Here are some of my favorite soup recipes*:
Vegetarian Quinoa Chili - I am not a big fan of this but Jon goes CRAZY over it 
*Note: I modify a lot of these recipes to be vegetarian-friendly. It's easy enough--sub veggie broth for any meat broths and exclude any meat items (which sometimes involves doubling up on beans, when necessary).

To add a little variety to the week, we try to plan 1 vegetarian entree and 1 meat entree. This week Jon decided to make squash and kale for himself (I am not a fan of squash or kale) and I used some frozen ground beef to make burgers for the kids and spaghetti with meat sauce for me (which, to my shock, Edith actually ate). Some other vegetarian options Jon will make include pasta salad, farro with tomatoes, or spinach lasagna. Meat options that I make will be something like an Italian beef roast in the slow cooker, homemade chicken nuggets, or dill meatballs with egg noodles. We always make enough for leftovers.

We typically work on leftovers on Tuesdays. Sometimes if we really aren't feeling it we will opt for something like spaghetti with marinara sauce or frozen pierogies--things we keep on hand for days like that.

I don't like a lot of what Jon makes for himself so he usually has enough leftovers from Sunday/Monday that I will often make some sort of a meat entree for Wednesdays. Tacos, some sort of chicken dish, stir fry, etc. It really just depends on what we're in the mood for. That being said, if we didn't eat leftovers Tuesday we may also opt for them on Wednesday.

Once a week we get together with other young families from our church for fellowship and a meal. We rotate who hosts and whoever hosts typically provides an entree while the guests bring sides/drinks/desserts. We can't plan too far in advance for Thursdays (unless we are hosting) so I try to make something from what we've got once I know what the main dish is going to be. This week I am bringing puppy chow for dessert--the only thing I needed to buy was the box of cereal.

The only thing I like more than Soup Sunday is Pizza Friday! In a perfect world we would be able to afford carryout pizza every week. Based on our current "fun money" budget, we will be lucky if we do that once per month. Jon makes the dough from scratch at lunch time on Fridays so that it is ready by dinner. I will ask him for his recipe one of these days because multiple people have asked me for it. We typically make 2 pizzas: a small one usually comprised of just spaghetti sauce, cheese and pepperoni for the kids, and a larger one for us. Our go-to is a homemade sauce consisting of olive oil, garlic, salt, and Italian seasoning, mixed with a large bag of fresh spinach and warmed on the stove. We also add goat cheese and artichoke hearts to ours. This week we are actually doing a vegetarian taco pizza with a soy-free ground beef substitute that I found at the ~fancy~ grocery store mixed with taco sauce, Mexican cheese, sour cream, and lettuce. 

More leftovers--typically pizza from the day prior (no complaints here!). 

I'd be lying if I said meal planning isn't still somewhat tedious. It's hard carving out the time to sit down and really think about what we want to eat each week. But it has been amazing to me how much easier staying on budget is, and also not having the "wait, what are we going to eat?" conversation every single day. 

june, 1 second every day

...and finally caught up!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

budgeting 101: groceries

At the end of May we were faced with a pretty hefty chimney repair that took a decent chunk out of our savings. Even though I know situations like these are why we have savings, I hate dipping into it. In any case, a quick look back through our spending in the prior months and I realized just how much money we had been blowing on stupid things. That's not to say we were buying random gadgets that we would never use, but we certainly weren't being good stewards of our money.

Jon and I sat down and hammered out some numbers using our go-to budgeting tool. One of the main areas we had been incredibly wasteful in was groceries. The amount of food we probably had been throwing away was disgusting. The amount of food we had been buying was unreal.

We decided to budget $350 a month for our groceries. Historically, we had been able to eat well off that amount of money if we were smart about it. So far, we are on track to stay within our budget for July (we were over our budget by quite a bit in June; I partially attribute this to vacation). Only spending about $80/week for a soon-to-be family of 5 isn't the easiest, so here are my tips for watching your grocery spending:

1. Shop the meat sales. Jon is a vegetarian but the kids and I are not. We've found the best thing that works for us is to buy meat when it's on sale (the big ones I follow are the $1.99/pound for a family size pack of chicken breasts at Aldi and BOGO meat sales on beef at one of our other grocery stores) and freeze it. For the chicken breasts we will place each breast in its own small Ziploc and then put all of them in a large freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Even though the kids and I eat meat we are definitely not huge carnivores so the three of us can split a chicken breast and still have some leftover usually. We also freeze the beef we buy. This is good because it allows us to get the best price on meat and almost always have something we can turn into a meal in the freezer (to avoid dangerous spur of the moment grocery trips or eating out).

2. Meal plan. Those two words usually strike agony and trepidation in my heart. Even though I am a type A planner, food is my love language and I am hit by cravings often--even when not pregnant. That makes meal planning tedious because even though something sounds good on Saturday when I'm planning the meal it does not usually sound good the day I'm supposed to make it. Throw in the fact that we have two ridiculously picky eaters and one vegetarian and that just complicates everything. That being said, there is a clear relationship between our dedication to meal planning and the amount of money/food we waste. We've been planning about 4 meals a week (usually some sort of vegetarian soup/slow cooker meal Sunday, 1 meat and 1 vegetarian entree on Monday, leftovers Tuesday, another vegetarian or meat entree Wednesday, we go to small group with our friends on Thursdays, Friday is homemade pizza night and Saturday is leftovers) but I've discovered that 4 meals seems to be too many and we have been rolling over 1 meal that we planned for the prior week into the next. Meal planning gives us a clear vision of what to buy at the store to avoid unnecessary purchases and also motivates us to actually finish all of our leftovers during the week so that we aren't wasting food.

3. Shop smart. We have been huge Aldi proponents for years now. You just can't beat the prices. There is a different grocery store here that we affectionately refer to as the ~fancy~ grocery store that we try to avoid but it's just so snazzy. They also have a much larger yogurt selection than Aldi (Elden loves the mix-in kind of yogurt and Aldi usually doesn't have much up his alley in this regard). We try to do the bulk of our shopping--especially for canned goods, cereal, vegetables, etc.--at Aldi. If we need to get diapers from Target we will pick up some of our pantry staples there. We also have a Costco membership. Our big things from Costco are chocolate chips, fruit, milk (it averages less than $1.90 a gallon in our area), eggs, applesauce pouches, Babybel cheese, and rotisserie chicken. I buy my beef at the ~fancy~ store when they have their BOGO sales. There is another store comparable to Aldi that we like for a larger selection than Aldi has, but they don't accept Visa. Which brings me to...

4. Use cash. Jon and I are not fans of Dave Ramsey. At all. For a variety of reasons.* We also very rarely have cash on hand because we've noticed we actually blow through money quicker when we have cash than when we have to put it on a credit or debit card. That being said, one of the cheaper grocery stores out here (usually similar in price to Aldi, but has more selection) only accepts Discover or cash/check. We do not own a Discover card. We hate writing checks. As such, we would often skip this particular store in lieu of a more expensive grocer that accepts Visa. We decided to take out $100 of the $350 a month so we could do our shopping at this grocer when the needs we have weren't met at Aldi.

5. Kind of coupon. I will be the first to admit that while I love the idea of coupons it intimidates the crap out of me. I am by no means an extreme couponer, but I have found a nice balance with some electronic platforms. I use Ibotta when we shop at the ~fancy~ store, Target or Costco to get cash credit back for the purchases we make. I also use Cartwheel religiously for all of our Target shopping. Finally, we get these Red Plum mailers that have coupons that we usually don't use but I have seen the occasional cereal or diaper coupon that I have snagged to use at the store. Definitely nothing crazy but those little savings definitely add up.

I will likely do a follow-up post to meal planning since it is something that is so effective yet so intimidating. Feel free to share ways you save money on groceries in the comments!

*If you ever want to hear Jon talk a lot (since he is introverted), bring up Dave Ramsey.

may, 1 second every day

Monday, July 11, 2016

march, 1 second every day

I went to upload my 1 second video from June and quickly realized that I hadn't done so since February... so now I am playing catch up!

Friday, July 8, 2016

five on friday: edith's new room

We've been hard at work in Edith's room this week and it is definitely coming together!

{1} Painted! The way we chose the paint colors for the kids' rooms is Jon and I picked out a bunch of colors that we liked. We then let the kids go through and pick 2 each--1 accent wall and 1 for the remaining walls. Edith chose pink. Both of her colors are Sherwin Williams. The accent wall is Memorable Rose and the rest of the room is Charming Pink. We finished painting her room last night so now all that's left from a pre-decoration perspective is shampooing the carpet.

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{2} Curtains: I have a whole box of curtains we've accumulated through the years but none of them really went with the colors she chose. We found these for pretty cheap on Amazon. They are not nearly as green as in this picture--much more of a baby blue--but her flamingo comforter has lots of light blue in it so we will work with it.

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{3} Curtain Rod: Almost all of the curtain rods we owned were cheap ones from IKEA that I DIY'ed, and they all stayed with our old house when we sold it. We needed a new one for her room and this fit the bill nicely. 

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{4} Mattress Protectors: Since Edith has slowly started to potty train herself and we are investing in a new full size mattress for her room, we decided to buy the mattress protectors while we have some wiggle room in our budget. We have these for Elden's bed and they have done an amazing job in keeping his mattress accident free, so we decided to buy two full-sized one for Edith's room. I love them because a) they are half the price of the ones at the mattress store, b) they are quite breathable and not plasticky at all, and c) they do exactly what they are supposed to. I recommend buying two so that you have one on hand to put on the bed right away in the middle of the night. Elden has never had two accidents in one night but I don't want to take any chances with either of the kids' mattresses!

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{5} Bed Rail: We actually bought two of these before we left for vacation--one for each of the kids' beds--knowing that we would need two for Edith's new bed. They are compact but sturdy and I will sleep soundly knowing she won't fall out of her new bed in the middle of the night.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

summer haps

Coming back from vacation we have had very few plans. That was the Big Event of 2016 and while it was amazing it's equally amazing to have no plans at all so that we can just do whatever feels right. Especially if whatever feels right is a whole lot of nothing. So far, our summer has included a whole lot of:

-working on preparing the house for baby. This means getting Edith's big girl room painted and buying necessary furniture/mattress to move her from the nursery. She chose a pink flamingo theme.

-playing in the sprinkler, splash pad and backyard.
-going to the playground.
-going to parades.
-lounging around the house and trying to relax/enjoy the slower pace of life before baby comes. 

We also have my company's Cedar Point trip on the agenda, the kids are in swim class once a week, and our town has its home days in a few weeks so we plan on going to that one night. We go to the library, window shop at Target, and cuddle in to watch TV. I have definitely been soaking up every moment of this summer and I think this has been the best one yet.