When inspiration strikes

It’s difficult to predict where inspiration will invade. And honestly, I’ve always believed it is less about the source and more about being receptive to the influence. This week I have found inspiration in two, rather traditional, places.

While browsing the new bookshelves at my neighborhood library, I picked up the book Young House Love by Sherry & John Petersik. Beautiful, full color photos with clear directions for turning your house into a home. The projects are often inexpensive and easy yet look finished and chic. Truth be told, this book looks like my DIY board on Pinterest but there is always something better about having a book to reference (that is probably just my inner librarian trying to break out of this new mold I have stuffed her in). There are several projects I am itching to try!

But first…

I need to get organized! Last year we donated an incredible amount of clothing, furniture, and other household miscellany. It was liberating and at the time it felt massive. Six months later it feels like more could be done. Scratch that… MORE CAN BE DONE! As I begin the second year of trying out this stay-at-home-mom thing, I feel crushed by my home and all the stuff in it. It is also time to take a look at what my future might be and let go of the things I think need to be kept for that uncertainty? eventuality?

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While cruising Pinterest this morning I happened upon a blog with 31 days worth of posts to help get organized. It is probably the most practical organizing blog I have come across (and trust me I’ve read a bunch of ’em). The suggestions are not only practical but cost efficient and look great, not cheap which is exactly the direction I am hoping to head. A few of the posts helped me to rethink my hoarding tendencies and what I’m teaching lil’ A about the accumulation of stuff.

With this guide I feel confident I can begin to make our home more of a useful, comfortable place and then feel ready to tackle to room by room decorating that I’ve been dreaming about.

Unstuffed shells… It’s what’s for dinner!

In an effort to eat at home more and save money in the process, I have been trying to make meals ahead to freeze and using my crockpot more. If I haven’t yet mentioned my current and deep love for Once a Month Mom here it is… This site is amazing! A ton of fabulous recipes that will meet any dietary restrictions from gf to dairy free to plain old anything goes. I just love how the recipes include photos and instructions to either prepare or to freeze.

Last week I made the unstuffed shells recipe from OAM, Lil’ A LOVED this dish proclaiming she wants to eat it every single day. This recipe was easy to make and was perfect for making 2 meals for my family of 3; one went into the oven and the other into the freeze.

Since I was feeling a bit under the weather I pulled out the frozen version of this dish for K to pop into the oven later. I had written all the instructions for preparing on the lid of the container making prep super simple.

I am pleased to report that our frozen version was just as delicious as the first go round.

Unstuffed shells

This is the perfect meal for a crisp fall day served with a salad and yummy crusty Italian bread. This will definitely make it into the monthly menu!

Get Paid {Thinking Positive}

My job search over the last 7 months has been frustrating. The frustrating it gets, the more negative I feel (the running joke at our house is that I should be able to collect disability because being unemployable is my disability).

So positive thinking goal 2 of 5 is to…

Get Paid!

I need to figure out a way to make my talents work for me. Several friends have been encouraging me to start and event planning business and/or start an etsy shop. All great ideas but I of course think of all the roadblocks and stay in bed. No more! I can do this. I can get paid while maintaining a home life balance that I have never really enjoyed. 

Honestly, I don’t really want to go to work for anyone ever again. I crave being my own boss, setting my own schedule, doing something that makes me undeniably happy and having the control to make changes I can’t when held to the constraints of an organization.

I don’t need to make a million but I do need to help make up the difference in the budget. Once Project Basement is complete, I will definitely look into using my new space to help me get paid.

Tomorrow… I think positive about getting fit.

Get Organized {Thinking Positive}

Getting organized has been an 11 year battle. When we got engaged in August 2000, I moved home to save money and my whole house full of stuff went into storage in my great-grandmother’s garage. A few months later, in April 2001, she passed away meaning I had until the end of May to move it all into a storage unit. Added to my possessions were some substantial pieces of furniture that K and I were inheriting and many surprises boxes. These surprise boxes were all the items that my grandmother and aunts either didn’t want or didn’t know what to do with (I just opened the last of the surprise boxes a few days ago).

When we married and finally moved in together in August 2001, we put my stuff, his stuff, my great-grandmother’s stuff, and all the wonderful gifts we received as gifts into a tiny 2 bedroom apartment on the 2nd floor. One bedroom was floor to ceiling unopened boxes. Fast forward 2 years and we move into a tiny cottage that had been his grandparent’s home for 50 years. We gained a bedroom and a sunroom and lost a bathroom. The sunroom became storage central. We were never really organized in the 3 years we lived there and unlike at the apartment, we couldn’t just shut the door to the chaos.

I had high hopes of finally getting it right when we purchased our house in 2006. This time we had 1,600 sq ft of space! No reason we couldn’t get our shit together. This time around it wasn’t space that got in our way but everything else and we let it. We closed late and moved in a week behind schedule. For some crazy reason we had agreed to host a surprise party for K’s mom now only 3 weeks from move-in day! Ack! 6 weeks after move-in we learned I was expecting Lil’ A. My pregnancy was awful and I spent all but about 4 weeks sick. Very little was accomplished during this time and really only things related to baby. Then it was baby and focusing on careers and now 6 years later I’m finally in a position to get organized.

Phew… with all that background out of the way…

Here is my first of five think positive goals

Get Organized!

I have been working on Project Basement since last week. The goal is to purge, clean, and organize. I want to be able to use this space rather than it be dedicated solely to storage. There will be 4 distinct areas… a play space for A, a sitting area with a tv that can double as sleep space for guests on the hide-a-bed, a studio/crafty space for me, and a laundry/storage space. There will also be plenty of room if K decides to move the home gym system from the garage.

Pinterest has been a huge source of inspiration! I’m almost down with the purging and cleaning stage and can’t wait to get started setting up and organizing.

Craft room inspiration!

Once Project basement is complete, I plan to finish organizing the rest of the house. The former nursery will cease being a playroom and become an actual guest room/dressing room for me. I’m excited about the ideas I have for this room!

Guest room inspiration                       LOVE these colors!

So now I have to stop thinking about how much work all this will be, how exhausted it will make me, how little help I’m getting from K, and the fact we have no money to do everything I’m dreaming.

I will think about how less stressed I will feel because the clutter and overwhelming presence of stuff will be gone, how useful this will be for my family, how much more comfortable my guests will be while visiting overnight, and how I can finally get to all the crafty projects I’ve been itching to do.

Happy thoughts!

Tomorrow… I think positive about getting paid.

Rethinking the budget

K would say I should have done this months ago but better late than never, right? I’ve been scouring the interwebs for ideas on ways to save pennies. Here are the steps we have taken so far…

Cut the cable – We talked about this one months ago but I was passive aggressively avoid it. I love me some tv watchin’ and just didn’t want to give it up. After doing a bit of research I feel much more comfortable with this decision and turned in the cable box on Tuesday.

  

We have had Netflix for over a year and have really loved it, especially for Lil’ A (great kids shows and no commercials!). It is an excellent source for past seasons of tv shows, documentaries, and some movies. We have the instant streaming option for $7.99 a month.

Hulu Plus is what sent us over the edge. Current seasons of almost all the shows I love to watch appear here within a day or so. No need to program the DVR or worry about storage. This is a great option for $7.99 a month. My only sadness is that all the Bravo shows I love so much are just not available here (or anywhere else for the most part). Guess I’ll have to learn to live without the Real Housewives. *Sniff*

Both Netflix and Hulu Plus are available on all of our devices – laptops, PS3, and Wii providing us with more viewing options than we had with cable.

Many networks also offer full episodes on their websites which will round out my tv watching (except for Bravo).

For movies we plan to continue using our local library which offers popular titles on Blu-Ray (I have Captain American and Thor waiting for me on reserve right now). If we are unable to score a movie via the library, Amazon offers the option to rent movies via the PS3 for much less than the OnDemand option our cable provider charged.

Savings: $70 a month

Cut the home phone – We haven’t used our home phone in years. This was an easy decision since we have exclusively been using our cell phones.

Savings: $25 a month

Thrifty shopping – Hitting up the thrift stores for clothing and other home items has been so much fun. The best buys I have found are on clothing for Lil’ A. Our local Goodwill sells kids clothing for $1.09 a piece. We live in an upper middle class suburb of Columbus so the clothing is generally name brand and in excellent condition.  She will only wear dresses which makes it challenging to outfit her with variety. I have been able to fill her summer wardrobe with cute, well made clothing for next to nothing!

Savings: approximately $75 a month

Menu planning – I usually do some sort of menu planning but now I’m taking a different approach. Inspired by the “No spend month” posted by Rachel Meeks over at Small Notebook, I’m trying to plan delicious, filling meals with this approach in mind. The first week I used this method I was able to keep my overall grocery bill to less than $50!

Savings: $200 a month!

Freeze the gym membership – It’s summertime and there are lots of options for outdoor exercise. We are so fortunate to live within walking distance to a park with walking paths. Plus my lovely friend Nikki has been posting great exercise tips and routines over at her blog that can be done at home.

If I reinstate before the end of the year I will get credit for the $10.50 I’ve been paying monthly toward the membership dues which can also be used to pay for the cancelation fees.

Savings: $28 a month

Host a yard sale – For years we have talked about having a yard sale and finally we are going to do it! We have boxes and boxes of stuff that was never unpacked when we moved in 6 years ago. Time to let go. Using the garage as a staging area, I have emptied out ALL of the boxes that were stored in our garage (probably about a dozen) and cleaned out the cabinets in my kitchen. It is so nice not to feel so crowded with stuff we never use. Next up the basement!

While this doesn’t save us money, it might make us a little bit of paper to help pay for some up coming events. More info to come if you live in Central Ohio and are interested in making my junk your junk! Actually my junk is really nice.

It’s a start. If you have any tips for saving money, leave them in the comment section!