Frugal FinCon Fiesta – Let’s chat!

Frugal FinCon Fiesta

I’m not at FinCon this year, but I love me a fiesta like no ones business, so I’ve joined the Frugal FinCon Fiesta! The fiesta is a 3 day blog party where you can ask me just about any question (today through Saturday) and I’ll respond right back here in this post. Don’t ask me math questions though, okay?

Party on, Wayne!

Questions

1. What is Brynn’s middle name? Harper!

2. What is my biggest fear? Dying, especially because I have young kids. ahhhhh

3. What was my first car? A 1990 Saab 900s.

4. What’s your plan for teaching your kids about personal finance? Good question! I’m still figuring that out, but I think just having open and honest conversations with your kids about money is important.

5. So, do you bake/cook because you like it, or because you have to? What’s are a couple of your favorite quick meals? Both! I enjoy cooking and baking when I have the time, which feels like a rarity now. I get a thrill out of discovering quick and healthy meals. One of my favorite quick meals: Pour salsa over pork or chicken and cook it in a slow cooker. Then shred the chicken or pork for tacos, burritos, etc. It’s so easy and so good! Also, check out my Black Bean Burritos! 

6. What would be your dream frugal vacation? I think a staycation at home would be fun. Every day we could go on an adventure in our area (corn maze, apple picking, ride the ferry, Ben & Jerry’s factory tour, etc.) Every summer we go to Maine and spend a week at a friend’s camp on the lake. It’s a frugal, but super fun vacation!

7. What’s your #1 piece of advice to people who are preparing to have kids? I mostly like to reassure people that life after a baby returns to normal (new normal). I know for me, it was important to feel like I had my routine back and eventually I did!

8. What is one thing on your bucket list? I really want to go a big gymnastics meet. Nationals, Worlds, or Olympics.

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile-Blogger-Award

The most awesome Kassandra nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks, Kassandra!!!

I’m going to share 7 interesting things about me and then nominate 7 other bloggers to do the same and keep it going. Mmk?

1. I get distracted easily. I also have perfectionist tendencies. Together, those qualities make me one unproductive person at times. I’m working on focused and efficient writing, so in the spirit of that I’ve set myself to a strict time limit for this post. I have 19 minutes left. Let’s see how far we get!

2. I’m a little jealous of people who can function on little sleep. When I’m tired I can’t think, I can’t function, and I get emotional. For those reasons I put sleep higher on my list of priorities. Also, sleeping is awesome (can you tell I’m tired and fantasizing about going to bed?)

3. I was a pretty average high school gymnast turned even better high school gymnastics coach. I coached a high school team for 10 years and it’s one of my proudest accomplishments. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about life through coaching. I hold that time very close to my heart.

4. In 10 years I only missed one meet. I had my son the night before our State Championship (I was due the day of our State Championship). Luckily I wasn’t the only coach!

5. I get homesick super easy. I’ve always been that way, even as an adult! This is probably one reason I have no interest in leaving Vermont….ever.

6. I have three different degrees. An Associates in E-commerce/business, a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and a Master’s in Health and Wellness. I’ve done some academic wandering for sure! And, now I’m paying for it!

7. Over the last year I’ve become a country music fan. I don’t know how it happened. I went from liking a few country artists to all of a sudden liking most country artists.

One minute to go! Let’s get to some nominations!

Tennille of 2 Kids and a Budget

Liz of Budgeting For More

Robin you Thrifty Peach!

Aldo of Million Dollar Ninja

High Five, Frugal Hound!

Crystal of Discovering Me in Them

Liz of Because Mama Needs a Hobby

I can’t wait to read your lists!

Weekend Battles

Oh weekends. Two days where I have the freedom (usually) to do my favorite things; hang with my family, spend time at home, and wear yoga pants all day long. Ahh.

This past weekend I hoped to catch up on laundry, update our meal plan, and do food prep for the week. I also hoped to go through my kid’s outgrown clothes and had plans to run The Color Run. Here’s how those battles (and more) shaped up.

In the battle of The Color Run, it’s safe to say the color won. Seriously, though the run was a total blast. Great energy, great running temperature, and a really fun experience. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It amazes me though how the blue cornstarch made its way into my shoe, through my sock, and all over my toes. It’s still there!

In the battle of Kara vs. the laundry, I’m pleased to report I came out victorious! Although folding almost took me out (it always does) I remained determined.

In the battle of our kids vs. the stomach bug, the bug took home an easy victory. It hit the first late Saturday afternoon and the second early Sunday morning.

Kara vs. a new meal plan came out a stalemate. I made slight improvements, but nothing too exciting.

In Kara vs. food prep, Kara got a big old goose egg. I didn’t even rinse off our fruit.

However, I had an unplanned bout with our family room / playroom. I took advantage of nap time on Sunday and mega cleaned the largest room in our house. I organized toys and weeded out a bunch for donation or sale, I scraped playdoh off the floor, and I even moved our monster sectional and vacuumed behind it. Oh the treasures!

Also, I got about a third of the way through my kiddos clothing.

You win some, you lose some, but at least I got to be in my yoga pants the entire time.

How was your weekend? Any battles?

 

Weekly Blend #4 + Weekend Resolve

Happy Friday!

My life this week revolved around one theme: hot hotty mess! Since we were out of town last weekend and didn’t get to do our normal weekend routine (mowing, laundry, etc.)  it felt like we were behind on everything all week long! I’m all sorts of glad we have very little going on this weekend, so I can play catch up on a bunch of things. I’ve resolved to catch up on laundry, switch up the meal plan (it’s been pretty standard lately), and do food prep for the week. Also, I really want to go through both kid’s clothes, but we’ll see! Plus, I’m doing a color run 5K on Saturday!

What are your plans for the weekend?

Okay, without further delay let’s check out some great posts from the week!

Baking

Okay, technically from last week, but how could I not share this delectable looking Lemon Drizzle Cake from Nicola at The Frugal Cottage.

Balancing

I was very excited to see a post from Kelsie! She shared 10 Changes Since We Paid Off Our Mortgage

Budgeting

Laurie (via Frugal Rules) shared Five Fun and Frugal Fall Activities. Bring on the apple cider donuts!

Check out my posts from the week!

The Simple Things

A New Financial Season

Have a great weekend!

The Simple Things

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The monkey and the fireman.

Lately, the highlight of my kid’s morning is watching the school buses drive through our neighborhood. Their sheer excitement from something so simple serves as a good reminder that the simple things in life can bring us the greatest pleasure.

I started thinking about the simple things that make me happy:

  • Going for a walk or run all by myself
  • Playing outside and sitting on the deck
  • Visiting family
  • Organizing and simple home projects
  • Cooking dinner for the family (when we’re not rushed and no one needs me to hold them)

What simple things do you enjoy most?

A New Financial Season

This past weekend Matt and I went out of town for a friend’s wedding. It was beautiful and we had a blast!

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This wedding hit our wallets hard though! Matt was a groomsmen, so there were the associated costs that go along with that (tux rental, bachelor party golf outings, etc.), the two night stay at the resort, gas, meals, you know the drill. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. We were honored to be a part of our friend’s wedding and we’re beyond happy for the newlyweds.

But, now I’m doing a little celebration dance because we have no planned expensive events for the foreseeable future. Woot!

I feel like we’ve entered a new financial season and I can focus on some of our financial goals, including:

  • Increasing our emergency fund
  • Padding my student loan account
  • Saving/shopping for Christmas

Does fall feel like a new financial season to you? Tell me about a current financial goal of yours.

Weekly Blend #3 + Liebster Award

What’s up, Friday! Thanks to Monday being a holiday, this week just flew right by! Also, my boy started preschool this week!

Landon1st

In other news, I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Aldo at Million Dollar Ninja. The Liebster Award is shared among bloggers as a way to recognize new and up-and-coming blogs. Thanks, Aldo!

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Liebster Award Rules

  1. Answer the questions you are asked.
  2. Nominate 3 other new / up-and-coming blogs.

Questions

What made you start your blog?

I started my blog because I felt like I had some good ideas to share and I wanted to become apart of a community.

Do you have any special talents?

I can organize just about anything! I could even organize you! Hire Me!

What is your dream job/career?

Coloring in coloring books for money. Seriously, that would be amazing. Blogging about my home organization projects comes in second place.

If you were to start a band, what kind of music would you play?

80’s rock ballads!

Have you read any good books lately that you would recommend? (It doesn’t have to be personal finance related)

Ha! This is embarrassing. The only books I read these days are children’s book. Some current favorites are: Cindy Moo, Llama Llama Red Pajama, and Underpants Thunderpants.

My nominees for the Liebster Award are:

Here are your questions, ladies!

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What are your special talents?
  3. What is your favorite food or meal?
  4. What has been your favorite post yet? Share the link!
  5. What do you love most about the month of September?

As is the deal with the Weekly Blend, here are a selection of baking, balancing, and budgeting posts from the week.

Baking

The Daily Whisk’s 1st Guest Post! Chocolate Crazy Cake!

Balancing

Lauren at Write Budget shares how to get started in freelance writing – great tips!

Budgeting

Robin at The Thrifty Peach shared 4 Reasons to Travel in September

 

Also, check out my posts from the week:

August Goal Progress

Budget Tales: How I saved $18.99 on a Halloween Costume

Have a great weekend!

Budget Tales: I Saved $18.99 on a Halloween Costume

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A few weeks ago, under the enchanting fluorescent lights at Costco, I somewhat impulsively bought a Cinderella dress/costume for my daughter.

We had just picked up a raincoat for our son which he was thrilled about (it was fire fighter raincoat) and I was feeling like I should play fair and get her something as well. A few minutes later the sparkles and colorful tulle caught my eye and I was sucked in.

I justified my purchase by telling myself:

  • It’s only $14.99 – cheap for a princess dress!
  • She likes dressing up…I think. I mean, she likes putting necklaces, hats, and shoes on and walking around the house.
  • It’s her first Halloween! Okay, not true, but last year at 5 months she slept through trick or treating.

I was all happy and feeling justified with my purchase until the dress rang up for $18.99. Deal breaker. I know it’s only a $4 difference, but $18.99 wasn’t a good enough deal for me. I rechecked the sign and went to the customer service desk. They honored the sign price and refunded me $4.

Awesome! Right?

Wellllllllll, I guess that began a string of events in my mind about whether or not the costume really was a good deal. On the drive home I thought about returning the dress. Brynn actually didn’t even seem that excited about it. She was actually more interested in a book that I said we didn’t need and had put back on the shelf.

When we got home I tried the dress on her right away because I’m a nut like that. Guess what? It didn’t fit! I said I was going to exchange it for the next size up, but I think all along I knew I was just going to return it. And, I did (they didn’t have the next size up anyway).

I figured I would find a used Halloween costume for her on eBay or one of the Facebook swap groups I’m a member of. Then I forgot all about Halloween.

Until last weekend when a friend and I were chatting about Halloween costumes, and she offered to let us borrow a lady bug costume in Brynn’s size. Sold! Why didn’t I think about borrowing one before?

As for our son, we’re pretty sure he’ll want to be a fire fighter for the second year in a row. Frugal props to him for keeping the same interests and still fitting into last year’s costume! Kidding…kinda!

What’s your limit on kid’s Halloween costumes? What is one of your favorite Halloween costume memories?

August Goal Progress

Good Morning!

For anyone who is new here let me catch you up. I’m working toward a goal to reduce the amount of hours I work at my day job. I’m currently 100% FTE and I’d like to be 75% or 80%. I set my goal for June 2015, however realistically it would go into effect on July 1, 2015 as to align with the fiscal year. The work I do is grant funded and it would make the most sense to make the change with the fiscal year. I’m sorry did you fall asleep while reading that?

So, how was August?

Awesome!

I had a ton of successes in August:

  • I started working with Cat which has been an amazing experience. In addition to getting expert knowledge and support, her inaugural class has created this little community that I just love and appreciate so much.
  • I got a writing gig! That’s riiiiiiiiiiight.
  • I feel more connected to the PF community.
  • My Alexa rank is so close to breaking 200,000.
  • My traffic is up, my followers are greater. I’m so grateful!

I had a few challenges too:

  • The balance of work/blog/home can be difficult. Sometimes I wonder how in the world I’m going to make this happen and keep this pace sustainable. I keep reminding myself that I gave myself a year because I wanted to take it slowly.

August Side Income: $65

Goals for September:

  • Figure out more of schedule and organized way to work
  • Write a few guest posts

September will be without a doubt bigger and better. Stay tuned!

How did your goals fare in August? Tell me about a success and/or challenge. What do you have planned for September?

Guest Post: Chocolate Crazy Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Happy September! And, Happy Labor Day to my U.S. readers.

Remember those Birthday treats I  stuffed myself with last week? Well, the baker behind the cake is here to share the recipe! Welcome Meghan to The Daily Whisk to share her Chocolate Crazy Cake recipe.

My lovely friend and co-worker Kara gave me a little baking love shout out on her blog last week.  She suggested I do a guest post about some of my baking adventures.  So here it goes…I’m not much of a writer so please forgive me, but I think I’m kind of a good baker!  It was  Kara’s birthday last week, and I wanted to make her a cake for her special day.  For Kara I made a chocolate “crazy cake” and frosted it with whipped vanilla frosting.  This cake is amazingly moist and delicious.  The recipe came from my Mom and is a super easy go to cake for any occasion.

Chocolate Crazy Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 12 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups cold water

Frosting

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter(softened)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

To make the cake:

1. Measure dry ingredients into bowl (or 9×13 baking pan) sift or whisk together.

Crazy Cake 1

2. Make three holes in dry mixture. To the first hole add the vinegar, to the second hole add the vanilla and to the third hole add the vegetable oil, pour cold water over and mix with a fork.

Crazy Cake 2

3. If mixed in bowl add to cake pans. If mixed in 9×13 pan leave in pan and bake.

4. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

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Whipped Vanilla Frosting

1. Stir milk and flour in saucepan over medium heat until thick.  Set aside to let cool (I refrigerate).

2. Whip together butter and sugar until light and fluff. Gradually add cooled flour and milk mixture. Once blended together add vanilla.

Crazy Cake 3

Frost decorate and serve!

Crazy Cake 5

I promise this will be a hit.  I’ve also used cream cheese, peanut butter and chocolate frosting on this cake.  I hope you all enjoy!  Thanks Kara for inviting me to post!

Thanks, Meghan for sharing your recipe! 

Did you bake anything this weekend?