Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cutting Corners Like a Boss - And a Pantry Challenge

MFD and I like to have our vacations and weekends away. We also like to do home improvement projects. Well, we like to pay someone to do them. And then there's the normal bills: mortgage, other bills, insurance, gas, groceries, bills, taxes, dog care and food, etc. etc. 

Just like you, right? Most people have a lot of expenses and also a lot of dreams and desires: things to do and experience, places to go and see. The regular expenses and the dream expenses come out of the same pot unless you are Richie Rich. Do you kids know who Richie Rich is?

Since I'm the Hausfrau-In-Charge of both our financials and our household expenses, I do what I can to cut costs so we have the money for the things we WANT to do. I mean no one WANTS to pay bills with their money, but this is real life, not Fantasy Island.  

While we all do different things with our money - and it's not anyone else's business as long as you're  self sufficient - we could probably all stand to cut some corners. Here are some things I do regularly, not just when money is tight:

1. I bring my breakfast and lunch to work. I am not dropping $10 a day on lunch, which is what you end up spending downtown. Sweet Brown ain't got no time for $50/week on lunches when I can brown bag it. For those of you with math deficiencies like myself, that's $200/month I'm not spending.

2. I get coffee at work four days a week and treat myself on the fifth. That's $2-$4 a day that I'm saving, depending on if it's hot coffee or iced. If you average that out to $3/day, that's $48/month I'm not spending.

3. Grocery shopping: I can manage to pass four different grocery stores on the way home from work depending on which way I go, and two on the way home from the gym as well. I shop the sales if the price differentials are worth the time to go to a different store.

4. Ninety percent of my clothes and shoes are purchased on sale. I also try to use Groupons and coupons when available and appropriate - I won't use a coupon to buy something that wasn't on my list anyway.

5. If I do go to see a movie in the theater (rare), I got in the morning when it's the cheapest. And I bring my own snacks.

6. I take the train to work - $155/month versus $300/month for parking, then gas on top of that. 

7. We don't go out to eat weekly - we try to keep it to once a month. I'm a good cook and unless we're going out with friends for a little social, it's nicer to create a meal and eat at home. Plus I hate waiting at restaurants. When we do go out just the two of us, we try to hit a BYOB or limit it to one drink. Restaurant drink prices are ridiculous.

8. I get my books from the library.

9. I paint my own nails every week and get a manicure maybe once a quarter to clean them up. I grudgingly paint my toes sometimes but I definitely get a pedicure on a regular basis.

10. I follow our budget as best as I can and I don't mind being the person who says, "We don't have the money for that." No one ever wants to be that person, or to say to a friend, "Eh, can't afford to do that right now." I don't give a shit. We're not doing it if we can't do it or if it's going to make us uncomfortable financially.

Do I fail and splurge on things? Sure. We all do. I am weak for makeup that I buy and don't use. MFD buys lives in Candy Crush (not kidding!). I don't cut corners when it comes to my hair. I'm a brand whore for certain items. And I spend $2 most weeks to have fresh flowers in a vase by the front door. That $2 goes a long way in making me happy. It's all about balance and what works for you and your family.

I try to envision myself on the vacation I'm saving for, or sitting on the new deck we want to add on to the house. It makes not spending willy nilly easier.

How do you cut corners? 

Helene also did a post on this last week, so check her post out to get more tips on saving cash to do what you really want to do.

AND, I invite you to join me in a Pantry Challenge - I got this idea from my friend Kate during a Words with Friends game. I am going to go as long as I can - and that is at least three weeks - just using what's in my freezer, fridge and pantry. I'm allowed to buy produce, milk, cheese, and bread when mine runs out. I'll be reporting back in on this in about a month. I'm excited about this.

p.s. someone push me off the ledge into cancelling our cable and live-streaming.

Linking up with Lisette for Just Because

Monday, April 29, 2013

the lovely weekend that was

I'm busting out my original TWTW format with everything adding up to TWTW.
Get ready for math.

Friday night: dog walk, neighbor talk, Body of Proof and The Americans on demand
Saturday morning: sheets on the line, top floor cleaned, Produce Junction run, 
avocado toast topped with an egg, caffeination and hydration
Sage smudge of the entire house and every occupant, even the furry ones, 
to rid us of bad luck and negative energy
Yard work. Using a manual lawnmower is all the exercise you'll need in a weekend. 
Trust me.
Also, cleaning up the clippings is a pain in the behind.
Or how often it needs to be cut in spring. It was just done Monday! WTF!
Thanks to Tony for the Monday mowing and my brother for weed wacking on Saturday.
I also mulched a flower bed and picked up sticks and other winter yard debris. 
Project Lantern: 
Red faded lanterns turned yellow and all set for the spring and summer season.
I just need to add citronella candles. 
Lesson learned: buy one more can of spray paint than you think you need. 
Regardless, I sort of like the yellow and red hybrid I have going on. 
First burger, hotdog, and fire of the season at the Sannelli's. 
I love when I can spend a night with framily wearing yoga pants and a sweatshirt.
Sunday morning: I slept in, then got laundry out on the line.
Gus likes to help by eating clothespins. 
Weekly food prep. Carrots and celery for snacks.
Zucchini pie for breakfast, Mediterranean quinoa salad for lunches,
black bean burgers for dinner this week, sauce for Sunday night's dinner. 
This blog was created from here. 
Magazines were also read here, and relaxing was done here. 
Sunday dinner: 
skinny taste chicken parm out of the freezer, over pasta with homemade sauce,
steamed green beans, garlic bread, and coffee ice cream for dessert. 
Sunday night crying time, TV catch up.
You know the drill. 

the weekend that was

I love a healthy mix of productivity, relaxation, and framily time. Fabulous weather never hurt anyone either. Nor did wearing yoga pants or yoga capris every day of the weekend. 

Don't let Monday grind you down.  Check back here tomorrow to see how I cut corners like a boss. 

Linking up with Join the Gossip for Monday Morning Gossip, Sami's Shenanigans for Weekend Shenanigans, Lipgloss & Crayons and Still Being Molly for YOLO Mondays, and Northern Belle Diaries and Postcards from Rachel for I Love Bloglovin'.

Friday, April 26, 2013

F is for a lot of things, including FRIDAY

F is for fair weather work. It's going to be 67 and 68 and sunny on Saturday and Sunday. I'm focused on getting a few key items taken care of outside, like mulching flower beds, picking up sticks, and spray painting lanterns.

R is for Relay For Life. This week I put out a call on the facespace that I was $70 from my goal of $750. My awesome friends helped me out and put me at $905. Now I'm thinking, why not raise $95 more dollars to get to $1000 raised that goes to kicking cancer's ass? Grandmom, this year is for you! I hope no one else has to suffer, and I'll walk and raise money until that is the case. If any of you would like to donate, please visit my personal page by clicking here

I is for I always have trouble spelling apocalypse. Which is followed by the thought, "Why am I using the word apocalypse so much?"

D is for deal - I got all of these earrings 50% off from Kohl's this week, and buy earrings was on my Spring To Do List. BOOM. Shaka laka. 

A is for At the center of your being...

Y is for You bet your ass I'm ready for the weekend. Bring it. 

Linking up with Joy for The Friday Five.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to throw a kick ass party

MFD and I do our fair share of entertaining. We love having framily over for special occasions or for no reason at all. I'd rather entertain than go out any day of the week.

I never get jacked up about having people over, whether it's two people for dinner, 20 people to watch the Flyers, 50 people for my birthday, or 100 people for our housewarming. There's a lot of things you can do to make party throwing stress-free. 

Food: set your menu at least two weeks before, do your shopping four or more days in advance, make as much as you can in advance starting three days before, and use post it notes on your counters and tables so you know that you have room for everything. Above all else, do not run out of food. That's a cardinal sin in my house. If people ask to bring something, let them! 

Booze: At the least, wine and beer. If you need to make a beer run mid party, make sure to do it before the distributors close. Ain't nobody got time to pay convenience takeout prices. Booze is also good to let other people bring - it saves them from making something, and it saves you from buying something. Entertaining is not cheap, and similar to the food mantra above, you do not want to run out.  

Props: A cardboard cut out of someone like Darren Daulton. Slap your friend's face who can't be there on a magazine cover and make people pose with it. Place bets on something. Employ funny cocktail napkins. Or just know that your funny friends will put empties in every cabinet that you have and call it a day. 

Accidents: Go into it knowing things may be dropped or spilled or broken. Be gracious. They're only things.

Hausfrauing: Don't go crazy. Pick up, vacuum, wipe down surfaces, and clean your bathrooms. The one thing I never do before a party: mopping floors, especially the kitchen. I spot clean it. I'm going to have to do it the next day anyway. 

Clean blankets: If someone's too drunk to drive home, give them a pillow, blanket, and a couch or the spare bed. Or at least a piece of floor. Everyone who comes to our parties always knows they should stay over if they can't drive home and many people plan on it. Bacon and eggs in the morning is optional.

Attitude: If you make it fun, it will be fun. As the host, you set the tone. Whatever happens, go with it! If a dance party breaks out, so be it. If people want to sit around on the couch and talk, let it be. The best times happen when you just roll with it. The most important ingredient to a party is awesome people. Surround yourself with people who bring something to the table, and I don't mean a covered dish, although that's nice too. 

What are your tips for throwing a fun and stress-free party?

Linking up with Steph at Bourbon & Glitter and Chelsee of Southern Beauty Guide for The Party Don't Start Til I Walk In.

Linking up with Jaimie and Jamie for Thursday Thoughts. 

Toby's Tails

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Engine Engine Number Nine Wednesday Wishes on the Line

I wish you all had lunch with Marla from Luck Fupus blog yesterday like I did, because she's fabulous. We don't live too far from each other and we finally met up for lunch at Continental Midtown and yakked it up for quite a while. The food was delicious and the company was great. If you're not reading Marla's blog, what are you waiting for?
Marla and me (why am I always hunching like a hunchback?), the awesome chopped salad, huge ass coffee, cheesecake, the iconic olive
I wish I was blind to photos of everyone's delicious looking frozen yogurt and various toppings on facebook/instagram/twitter/blogs, because every time I see these photos I am salivating. 

I wish my awesome reading streak would continue. These were my last three reads, and I mowed through them. Chanel Bonfire was difficult, but still not bad. Remember to check my Books Page to keep up with my reads. 

I wish people were more conscious of the environment, the waste they're putting out there, and their overall impact on the earth. 

I wish I could leave on the trip I just dreamed up for me and MFD tomorrow, but we probably won't get there until 2015: Carcassonne, Cinque Terre, Rome, Venice. I blame Gwen's travel posts for this new vacation plan. I asked MFD what his top three picks for Europe were. He has been blathering on about going to Carcassonne for years, it's on his top three list along with Venice and another city in Germany that doesn't fit in here. Rome is one of my top three, so a Mediterranean coast trip made sense. 

I wish I could work "cacaphony" and "visceral" into more conversations. Vocabulary is fun.

I wish L'Occitane would bring back Olive Harvest Body Milk. It pisses me off when companies discontinue products that are one of my obsessions. This was discontinued years ago and I'm still bitter today. You can't even get that shit on Ebay! Times are tough, you guys. 

I wish I was close personal friends with Stevie Nicks, and that I sang just like her. 

Hey Ren! When this hat flies in the air, you better get your butt in gear. Have a Footloose and fancy free Wednesday, everybody.

Linking up with Because Shanna Said So for Random Wednesday and Rolled Up Pretty for Whatever Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Face Time

Late in 2011 I started using the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) to wash my face. I was afraid of my face rebelling, but much to my surprise my skin was the best it ever was. I did it two to three nights a week at night, and in the morning I just washed my face with water and a washcloth. Some mornings I scrubbed my face with baking soda and a little bit of water. 

In February of this year, my face was dry as the Sahara. I panicked and instead of adjusting the ratios of the oil, I went back to commercial products. You guys, my face FREAKED the F out. So I went back to the OCM. 

My face was still dry. Instead of going berserk, I adjusted my oils and have been mixing them in the palm of my hand. Castor oil is quite drying, so for now I'm using only a drop of that along with jojoba oil. This time around, I'm incorporating rose seed oil because it's hydrating and it's good for scars as well as aging skin. I also add a few drops of tea tree oil. I tone my nose with some apple cider vinegar. If my skin is still dry, I moisturize with a bit of coconut oil after hearing many good things about it, including Angi's blog post on DIY beauty.  

These are my two standards. The Clarins is expensive, but it's the only self tanner I'm comfortable using on my face. It doesn't clog my pores or get streaky and oompah loompah-y. I've had the same bottle for a while! And sunblock is of course the best skin care tool you can use. Daily, even if you're not sitting in the sun!

I used Clinique All About Eyes for years, but I decided to switch it up a little earlier this year with Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Eye Treatment. I like it a lot. I also realized that I've been using a too yellow concealer for many years and corrected that last week with the Yves St. Laurent Anti-Cernes Multi-Action Concealer in pink beige. I look like I suddenly woke the F up, which is always a good thing. 

I've been unhappy with my mascara for a while, so I consulted my favorite go-to makeup lady, Jill, and she recommended a Nyx mascara. I ordered that as well as a Nyx eye shadow base from Ulta and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. Jill is starting her own blog soon so you'll all be able to benefit from her tips and recommendations too!

That's my face time update. What are you using? What are you looking for recommendations on? 

Linking up with Lisette for Just Because Tuesday.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The weekend that was

1. We headed to Pottstown to celebrate Gail's birthday.
2. Gail and I always bet on things, and we bet wine and slim jims. So I taped some slim jims to her wine for her birthday. 
3. We drank all the wine in Pennsylvania.
4. Cake! It was great to see Aunt Carrie & Uncle Jim, the Rhode Island Doyles, and Gail's friends. 
5. Me and MFD
6. MFD loaded up a bag with candy to take to bed with him. No lie. 

1. Coffee. Hangover.
2. The dogs missed us. Thank you Effing Warren for staying with them!
3. TV catch up: The Americans and Body of Proof, all day long. Except for an awful Hallmark movie with Jason Priestly and Bradley Cooper. AND Mr. Mom. I freaking love that movie.
4. MFD was whisked away by friends so I enjoyed a day of silence and ordering in. Mozz sticks were the winners.
5. I spent all day on the couch, and I slept there too. BOOM. I'm glad I got my chores done on Thursday night so this was a possibility.

1. Yay! My first time using my Christmas gift from Dad & Carol. I love hanging laundry out. Other hausfrauing: washing couches, wiping things down, blah blah. 

2. Weekly food prep:  black bean enchiladas on whole wheat tortillas for lunch, cucumbers and red peppers for snacks, spinach egg bake for breakfast. I sauteed some spinach until it was wilted, laid it in the bottom of an 8x12 pan, topped it with a cup of shredded pepper jack cheese. I whisked 10 eggs with some dry mustard and garlic powder, threw some salt in, and poured them over the spinach and cheese. I baked it at 350 for 30 minutes.

3. Nails: Zoya Happi and a little pink glitter accent nail.

4. Jenny & Evan's Sprinkle for baby boy Leslie due in May.

5. Sunday dinner: Roast chicken, brussels sprouts steamed with a few pats of butter and salt, and saffron rice for dinner. I rub my chicken down with butter, season with Lawry's Seasoned Salt, and bake at 350 for 20 minutes per pound. I don't open the oven until  it's finished. 

I need another day between Saturday and Sunday. Who can I talk to to make this happen?

Linking up with Join the Gossip for Monday Morning Gossip, Sami's Shenanigans for Weekend Shenanigans, Lipgloss & Crayons and Still Being Molly for YOLO Mondays, and Northern Belle Diaries and Postcards from Rachel for I Love Bloglovin'.

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