The Anything vs. Everything Battle

I have a hard time accepting that while I can achieve anything, I can’t have everything. For example, I want to work, side hustle, get decent sleep, and keep my house clean. Oh, and I want all of that in addition to not sacrificing a moment of family time. I don’t like accepting that sometimes something has to give, and in fact most times I don’t. This usually results in me taking on more than I can handle and setting unrealistic expectations for myself. It almost always culminates into one giant meltdown.

I almost had that giant meltdown this weekend while driving home from the grocery store. The pressure of everything that I needed and wanted to do was weighing on me. In this dark moment I considered quitting all my freelance and VA jobs. The idea of quitting those side jobs felt for a moment freeing, but then almost instantly I was overcome with the feeling that if I quit those jobs I would be quitting on my goal and myself.

My Goal

Since my son was born (almost  four years ago) I’ve wanted to work less. Not quit working entirely; I need the balance of both, but I thought a four day work week would be a good compromise. A few years and a new baby ticked by and here I am still working five days per week. After talking and talking about how I wanted to work less, last May I finally schemed up a plan to make it happen. Then I put it out there for everyone to see. My primary goal is to reduce my hours at my full time job by July 1, 2015. I figured that I could make up the reduction in income by side hustling. I even thought I could make more money and I liked that idea! I knew it would be difficult and challenging, but I was ready to try.

So here we are over six months later, and this weekend I considered giving it all up. Here it was, my weekend, and I didn’t feel like doing any side work. The very last thing I felt like doing in my very limited free time was writing x amount of words on a topic I couldn’t come up with. It was probably the lowest I’ve felt since starting this journey.

Hanging in!

I didn’t succumb to meltdown status. Honestly, I didn’t have time. I snapped out of my funk just enough to give myself a little pep talk with the reminder to just hang in there. I reminded myself that I only have six more working days until an (almost) two week vacation from work. This is time I get off from work every year during Christmas and the new year, and it’s always a nice period of down time. If I can use my time off wisely I can catch up and get ahead.

Also, I looked back at  the goals I set in May. I’m unwavering in my goal to have a four day work week, because more than anything I want an extra day at home with my kids. What I don’t want is an extra day home with my kids where I’m chained to my laptop all day. I considered which was more important to me right now: spending more time with my kids and possibly making less money or working to the point of stress for more money and hope there would be additional time to spend with my kids.

I’m not going to quit anything. I couldn’t live with myself if I gave up this early in the game. I’m going to forge ahead and try to be more organized with my time. In the next few months I’ll be extremely busy with my gymnastics side hustle and realize I could feel completely different about my freelance side hustle once that work dies down. In a few months if I’m still feeling this way I’ll just have to reassess and adjust my goals.

Do you ever struggle with wanting anything and everything? Have you been in a similar position before? How did you handle it?

Easy Peanut Butter Dog Treats (Recipe)

dog treats

What is it about this time of year that makes me crave cookies so much? Anyone else pining for a buttery sugar cookie dripping with icing?

As I’ve been planning my cookie baking for the holidays, I remembered another type of cookie I enjoy making. Dog cookies! Or you can call them biscuits, treats, etc.

This recipe is simple, quick, and my pugs go crazy for these treats. Although, I have to be honest, their standards are pretty low. Also, since there are just five ingredients in this recipe, they are an incredibly frugal treat (or even gift) to make for your furry friends.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cup hot water

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour and oats
  2. Stir in peanut butter and water
  3. Stir until dough forms
  4. Roll dough into balls and place on cookie sheet. I like to use a fork dipped in flour to press a criss-cross into each biscuit. Alternately, you could roll out the dough out and use cookie cutters.
  5. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Yields 3-4 dozen small biscuits.

What is your favorite type of cookie this time of year?

5 Ideas for Inexpensive Christmas Decorations

Inexpensive Christmas Decorations

I was really hoping to tell you a story today about how we scored a free Christmas tree right off our property. You see, there’s a spruce tree that sits in the corner of our front yard, and it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of our landscaping. So, we thought it would be really funny and super frugal of us to chop that baby down and use it as a Christmas tree this year. Alas the tree in question turned out not to be one perfect little spruce tree, but instead two spruce trees semi-merged together. So, it was off to a local farm for a Christmas tree instead.

In addition to putting up our tree this weekend, we began to decorate our house for the Christmas season. I really enjoy decorating, and I always expect by some sort of Santa magic my house will end up looking like the inner pages of a magazine. It has yet to work out like that, but maybe one day! I have to remind myself that as much as I like the idea of fancy and intricate Christmas display, I’m also a minimalist who breaths easier with open spaces and clutter-free surfaces.

Also, since I spend so much money on my buying presents (mostly for our kiddos), I’m not really eager to spend even more money on decorations. In fact, it pains me to purchase decorations for anything less than clearance price. Although, I have one exception to that rule. I did buy really nice personalized stockings for both kids.

I’ve read a few posts on “dollar store” decorations. You know, how to turn two cheap plates and a cup into a cake stand type thing, however those ideas don’t really appeal to me because 1. I don’t have time to get my craft on, and 2. I’m not really big on filling my house with cheap stuff from the dollar store.

Having said all that, I have found a few ways to make holiday decorating inexpensive as opposed to cheap. And today I present you with my favorite frugal ways to decorate for Christmas.

Hand Me Downs

Just like in my Inexpensive Halloween Decorations post, sourcing hand me down decorations is one of my favorite inexpensive decorating tips. Not only are the goods free, but they are filled with nostalgia and memory.

One of my favorite holiday decorations is this glass bowl. It belonged to my Nana. Growing up, I don’t remember this particular bowl, but my Mom recalls my Nana putting it out at Christmas and filling it with butterscotch bark. I love displaying this bowl, and I think my Nana would be pleased that it’s taken on new life in a new home.

Antique Red Glass Bowl

Use Existing Dishes

This is the one method I overuse, but I just can’t help myself.  Combing an ordinary glass dish with some holiday details and boom, you have an easy and classic decoration. You can fill a glass dish with holiday candy, stack bulbs in a vase, or put tinsel in a mason jar. Your options are endless! Just search your cabinets for your favorite glassware and fill them up with holiday-inspired decorations.

Christmas kisses

Display Greeting Cards

You’re bound to get a few holiday greeting cards, rights? Display them to put your house in the holiday spirit. I hang our cards with clothespins on a thin piece of string, however, there are a bunch of other creative ways to display cards.

Lights, Lights, Lights!

Strands of lights are super inexpensive. They go on sale before the holidays and their prices bottom out after the holidays. A simple strand of lights can really change the ambiance of a room, giving it a cozy and special feeling. The same goes for candles, just remember to be safe with an open flame.

White lights

Display Food and Nature

There are a number of inexpensive nature inspired holiday decorations. Poinsettias, wreaths, and pine cones to name a few. I’m also a fan of displaying food as a holiday decoration. I’ll put cinnamon sticks in a jar, clementines or pears in a bowl, and display frosted sugar cookies or chocolate fudge on a cake stand.

Do you decorate for the holidays? What are your frugal decorating tips?

Minted Holiday Card Review + a Giveaway

One of my favorite Christmastime traditions is mailing greeting cards to our family and friends. We’ve always designed photo cards; the first few years featuring our pug trio, and now of course our lovely kiddos. The pugs don’t feel slighted in the least, in fact they were getting pretty fed up with my antics. Like the Christmas before our oldest was born and I stuck them in the crib and captioned the card “Merry Cribmas”. They were embarrassed for me.

Anyway! What I’ve discovered over the years is that taking pictures of small cohorts, whether it be three apathetic pugs or two young children is no simple feat, and I’ve had to drop my creative standards a bit. What I’m saying is, as long as both of my kids are looking in the general direction of the camera with their eyes open, we have a winner!

It also helps to have a stunning card design. When you combine an average photo with an outstanding card design, it automatically elevates the entire look. Take for example the collection of over 600 beautifully designed holiday greeting cards at Minted.com. The following are some of my favorite designs. 

 This first one is my ultimate favorite.  It’s not only a Christmas card, but an ornament as well. Brilliant…and practical!

Minted Ornament Christmas Card

 I’m also a big fan of photo collage cards.

Minted Christmas Tree Card

 

Minted Stamps Card

Lastly, I like how this card also incorporates a “year in review”.

Minted Year In Review Card

Giveaway!

Minted is generously giving a $25 credit to one lucky Daily Whisk reader! There’s no hoop jumping with this giveaway, just leave a comment telling me either what you had for breakfast today or a funny experience you had taking photographs. I will randomly pick a winner Friday December 5th at 5 pm EST.

Edit: The giveaway is closed. Congrats, Robin! You won a 25 credit to minted.com

I partnered with Minted on a review of their holiday card collection, however all opinions are my own. You know that! 

November Goals Recap + Side Hustle Income

November Goals Recap

Image courtesy of Instagram user deekaybee3, my partner in office shenanigans

December 1st on a Monday?! It’s too good for a perfectionist with a penchant for fresh starts.

Let’s check in on November, mmk?

November Side Hustle Income: $267.20

A lower earning month compared to last month, but since I had some work wind down it was expected. I’m now entering the busy season for my gymnastics side hustle, and expect to pull in significantly more in the next few months.

How do I earn extra money? Glad you asked! I provide a variety of freelancing writing services. Staff writer, ghost writer, typewriter. What do you need? Let’s talk.

I also provide a bunch of VA (virtual assistant) services. Blog commenting, copyright free picture sourcing, Pinterest board management. Contact me at thedailywhisk (at) gmail (dot) com if you want more information.

Lastly, I have a cool and fun side hustle as a gymnastics judge and clinician.

November Goals Recap

I also made some November goals and am happy to report I crushed them. Pretty much.

Run through the month (outside in Vermont) – Check! I ran about two times per week this month. It was cold and it was dark at times, but I did it! The lowest temp I ran in was 29 degrees.

Break up with the cafeteria at work – Check! I reduced my spending from approximately $8/week to $13.95 total for the entire month. What kills me though, is that I had only spent $3.35 up until the last week of November! I plan on spending even less in December.

Practice gratitude daily – Mostly check. We did a fun little activity last month where we went around the dinner table every night and talked about what we were thankful for. I’m glad we took the time to express gratitude as a family, however I didn’t make enough of an effort to practice gratitude on my own.

December Goals

Yeah, I’m not making any! No formal goals anyway. I hope to make the most of the Christmas season with my family. I hope to keep running outside! I’m going to try my hardest not to get stressed out or bent out of shape. It’s December, let’s have fun!

What are your goals for the month, if any? Tell me one great thing about your November!

Thank you! and you..and you…

Happy Thanksgiving! Or, if it’s just a regular day for you, happy Thursday!

Along with it being Thanksgiving Day…it’s apparently wintertime too!

image

We have a full day of celebrating my favorite holiday, and also maybe a little shoveling. But, first I wanted to stop in and give a shout out to everyone who has commented on my blog so far this year. Seriously!

Your comments and support mean the world to me. I’m so grateful to be a part of a wonderful blogging community and making friends along the way. Cheers to you! and you, and you…

  • Crystal
  • Liz W.
  • Rachael
  • Holly
  • Allison H.
  • Josh
  • Kelsie
  • Becca
  • Liz
  • Karen
  • No Nonsense Landlord
  • Claire
  • Mike
  • DC
  • Michelle
  • Cat
  • Nicola
  • Catherine
  • Alicia
  • Amy
  • Laurie
  • Lauren
  • EL
  • Kirsten
  • Daisy
  • Aldo
  • Stefanie
  • Mom Cents
  • Marie
  • Morgaine
  • Ryan
  • Alexis
  • Mrs. Frugalwoods
  • Mr. Frugalwoods
  • Thea
  • Tennille
  • Kassandra
  • Jay
  • Erin
  • Tiffany-Anne
  • Kipp
  • Debs
  • Meghan
  • Robin
  • Shannon
  • Melanie
  • MMD
  • Chantal
  • Kel
  • Lyle
  • Tre
  • Brian
  • Jean
  • Brooke
  • Brandy
  • Chela
  • Femme Frugality
  • Katharine
  • Natalie
  • Jayleen
  • Kay
  • Lance
  • Kayla
  • Tawcan
  • Michelle
  • Mike
  • Myles
  • Traci
  • Emily
  • Syed
  • Allison
  • Jenna
  • Jessica
  • KBro
  • Petrish
  • Moneystepper

I probably inadvertently missed someone, so if that’s you I’m sorry! I love you, too! Please come back! Also, thanks to my non-commenting readers (assuming I have those). I appreciate everyone who actually visits and reads this little site. Thank you!

Keeping Thanksgiving Simple

keeping thanksgiving simple

I have an informal rule in my heart and in my household that we can’t celebrate or get all jazzed up about Christmas until after Thanksgiving. As I’ve gotten older Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. I love how simple and free of expectation Thanksgiving is. For my family, Thanksgiving is about spending time with together, giving thanks, and food-food-food. Every year I take delight in stuffing myself silly on turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes, and dill pickles. Seriously, I eat an embarrassing amount of dill pickles.

Initially I was going to post about Christmas spending today, but when I sat down to write that post I felt like I was in violation of my rule. So, that post will have to wait until next week, and instead I’m going to tell you how I keep Thanksgiving simple.

We have simple expectations.

Our Thanksgiving Day is primarily about visiting with both sides of our family. Although the type-A in me tries to keep a strict schedule in order to give both sides equal time, it never really gets followed. We get off schedule, the kids get car naps, and we all get uncomfortably stuffed or sugar high. By the time we get home at night we’re pretty worthless. But, that’s part of the fun, right?!

We’re Thankful

Although I try to practice gratitude year round, it’s just easier around Thanksgiving. It’s the start of the holiday season and I feel all sorts of cozy and happy. It used to bother me that we would cram two dinners into one day, and then one day I caught myself complaining and realized I was complaining about so many people wanting to see us and feed us on one day. Since then my perspective has changed and I feel incredibly lucky that we get to spend Thanksgiving with both of our families.

We freeload off our parents.

You know they wouldn’t have it any other way! Rather than hosting Thanksgiving dinner, we are guests. This year we have two Thanksgiving dinners on our schedule. We’ll go to my parents for a Thanksgiving lunch and Matt’s parents for a Thanksgiving dinner. Nothing says simple like only being required to show up with a bottle of wine. Oh, and our kids. We bring them too, of course.

That’s our approach to a simple Thanksgiving, which I’m eagerly anticipating!

What about you? Do you enjoy or celebrate Thanksgiving? What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods? 

A Day in the Life

I love “a day in the life” type posts and have been meaning to write my own for awhile now. Today is finally the day. Well, yesterday was, but you’re reading it today. You know what I mean!

5:50 am – I open one eye and see that it’s almost 6am. I suddenly realize that Brynn slept through the night! Awesome! I give myself a few more minutes to lay in bed and…

6:50 – What?! Its 6:50 and I’m spooning a pug. How did that happen?! Well the pug part happens all the time, but, whoops! I guess I fell asleep. I crawl out of bed and head straight to the bathroom to get ready before anyone else wakes up. I took a shower the night before, so my morning routine only consists of brushing my teeth, washing my face, moisturizing, and flat ironing my hair. I skip makeup 90% of the time. Today is no exception. 20 minutes and I’m done.

7:15 – I can hear Brynn talking in her crib, so I go scoop her up. She immediately pads down the hallway to the kitchen to request her morning banana. Every single morning she starts her day with a banana. I get her dressed while she eats. Then I let her wake Dad up. hehe

7:30 – Landon’s up. He slept late and he’s groggy, but in a good mood. He lets me dress him right away, so I let him play in his room while I get ready.

8:04 – We’re all dressed, bundled (it’s like 20-something degrees here today), and on our way to daycare. I don’t normally do drop off, but today I am. I do my best not to drive directly to work.

8:30 – I get to work and take the stairs seven flights to my office. Feel the burn.

This is the view from our kitchen at work. I make sure to take it in every single day I’m at work.

image

Hi Burlington! It’s prettier in person. You know how that goes!

8:30 – 4:30 – Work. Work. Work. What do I do at work? Lots! Today I’m preparing for an offsite conference which we are hosting almost 2 hours away.

image

Incredibly well organized and bland. This is where the genius happens.

 

Instead of giving you a play by play of my work day, here’s a fun list.

10 Interesting Things I Did at Work Today

  1. Finalized a catering order
  2. Assembled packets for our event
  3. General office shenanigans with my coworkers
  4. Drank 2 cups of tea
  5. Went on a quick BRISK morning walk
  6. Realized I’m saving more for retirement than I thought (long story, future post)
  7. Looked over my event logistics task list 100 times. Forgot something anyway, I’m sure.
  8. Printed name tags..twice…it was the printer!
  9. Considered joining LinkedIn. I’m still on the fence. Thoughts?
  10. Decided on my theme for our office decorating contest!

 

I’m a really fun and productive employee, hire me!

4:30 – I leave work and I’m off to get the kiddos.

5:15 – Everyone is home and happy.

6:00 – Dinner time. Fish sticks (YUP), rice, and broccoli. Since I’m not into plain white rice I make a sweet potato and eat the entire thing myself.

6:20 – 7:45 – Play time, pick up time,  laundry time, ice cream sandwich time. I clean out one of Brynn’s dresser drawers in an effort to declutter. Brynn pulls about 10 wipes out of a wipes container. Landon and I play “snowball fight” with them. Meanwhile, Brynn’s in the dining room hanging out with Dad.

8:00 – We get the kids ready for bed and I read “Firehouse” to Landon for the 86th time. Then, I put Brynn to bed while Matt puts Landon to bed.

8:30 – More laundry.

9:00 – I write this post! And, I research activity trackers. I want a really simple one, mainly just to track my steps.

10:00 – There’s about 20 things I could do, but I have to be on the road at 5:45 tomorrow morning so I’m going to bed!

If you made it to the end, I’m impressed! I’d love to read about a day in your life, so I encourage you to write a post like this. If you do, let me know so I can check it out!

The Work Ethic Experiment Results

work-ethic-results

On Monday, I shared that although I often feel busy, I don’t often feel like I’ve worked hard enough. I decided to pay extra attention to the effort I put into my work this week and share my results…or my thoughts…or whatever words fall out of my brain.

First of all, I received some really supportive and insightful comments that helped me put my situation into perspective. Thank you to everyone who weighed in!

Some points to consider:

  • You can be busy and or work hard, but not feel like you’ve accomplished anything.
  • Feeling like we’ve worked hard can correlate with how productive or focused we are, even if in smaller time frames.
  • Down time and rewarding ourselves are important, especially in avoiding burn out.
  • We all have our own best working hours in which we are more focused or productive.

And this one really struck a chord with me:

  • Just because we could always do more or even do better, it doesn’t mean we aren’t doing a good enough job or even our best job.

After taking the week to  assess my productivity levels, I discovered a few patterns:

  • Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I work my tail off.
  • Thursday I crash
  • Friday I drink wine
  • My phone is a HUGE distraction when I’m working. Sometimes when I’m working on my laptop I use my phone to look things up. Every single time it brings me down a path of distraction. Every single time! So, from now on when I’m working I keep my phone in my bedroom.I think I have unrealistic expectations and I need to balance them out a bit.

Obviously, one week isn’t much time to evaluate my work habits, but it was good for me to talk it out and notice some patterns. Yesterday I took a workshop on effective time management and learned a few helpful things I’ll be sure to share next week.

Have a great weekend!

5 Things I Hate Spending Money On

5 Things I hate spending money on

In general, I’m not a huge fan of parting with money. Who is, right? While there are some items I don’t mind spending money on (high quality conditioner, organic black tea, and even takeout pizza occasionally) there are a few areas in which I’m irrationally cheap and I thought it would be fun to share those with you today. You’re welcome.

Electricity

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super grateful for electricity. There’s nothing like a power outage that humbly reminds me how dependent I am on electricity. That being said, leaving lights on drives me crazy! I’m constantly running from room to room turning off lights that aren’t in use. It physically pains me to see a light on in a bedroom when we’re all at the table eating dinner. Even at work where I’m not responsible for the light bill, I’m frequently turning off the light in the copier room and secretly judging the previous occupant of the room for not turning the light off. I realize there are plenty of other ways to cut down on my electric bill, however for now being a light cop will suffice.

Greeting Cards

Buying a full price greeting card kills me. They are such a rip off! Before I discovered you could buy discount greeting cards at dollar stores, I would occasionally choose cards based on price. Isn’t that special? Gift giver of the year right here!

Checks

Who still pays with a check, right? Well, this girl does every Wednesday when the daycare payment is due. About a year ago, right after we moved to a new address I logged on to our credit union’s website to order new checks. I still had over 50 checks left, but thought I should update our address. Our credit union used to issue checks for free, so you can imagine my dismay when I realized they were no longer free. They were $12. Um, no. I kept on using the old checks until they were gone. I realize $12 is not that much money, but I was hung up on the principle.

Glassware

A few years ago I realized my glassware consisted mostly of freebie logo laden pint glasses. I resolved to buy a big kid fancy set once we moved. I spent a lot of time looking at glassware sets, but I couldn’t pull the trigger because nothing seemed like a good enough deal. That is, until the day I found a set of six blue mason jars at the Christmas Tree Shop for $9. Winner!

Clothing

This one is more of a love-hate relationship. I like clothes. I hate buying them. I rarely come across what I consider to be a good deal and I feel semi-tortured spending more than what I think is a good price. But, then I also find I have nothing to wear, so it’s a double edged sword. A few weeks ago I found a gorgeous Eddie Bauer running jacket at TJ Maxx. It would have been perfect for me since I’m planning to run outside through the month of November. Alas, it was $24.99 and I just couldn’t justify it. This is my life as a cheapo.

Okay, that’s my list. Now tell me…

What do you hate to spend money on?