Saturday, October 9, 2010

Our $100 3-Day Weekend

Hubby and I are currently in a hotel in Dunkirk, NY.  We are on a 3-day trip up to Olean, NY to go to my cousin's wedding.  My goal for this weekend (food & entertainment) was to spend no more than $100.  From what I calculated, we would have to buy: 2 lunches and 1 dinner.  Oh, and a lighthouse tour and several wineries.

Well, we are on day #2 right now, and we have spent:
$3 on wine tastings
$16 on lunch
$13 on drinks at the bar last night (Todd's doing)

I thought we were doing great until last night when Todd wanted to go check out the bar.  He was willing to spend his allowance money on our drinks (his 2 beers - my Georgia Peach.)  But, I thought that this is one of our few trips together this year.  We have really cut back on vacations this year due to trying to pay off our debts.  So, I told him that it was OUR treat. :-) 

I dont stay at a hotel unless they offer a continental breakfast.  For us, that is a $15-20 savings.  Breakfast is my favorite meal (actually, all meals are my favorite now that I think about it...) and it is normally always a big one for us.  This morning, we got up around 6AM, and we were at breakfast by 6:30.  The continental breakfast doesnt end until 9:30, so we will be grabbing a little something on our way out to hopefully hold us through for a little while.  It's normally not a problem for me, but Todd is borderline hypoglycemic, so he needs to eat often.

Today is the day of the wedding.  After we check out, we will go to the lighthouse tour ($14 for the two of us.)  The wedding starts at 2 which means we may need to have lunch before-hand. Yesterday, we saved money on dinner by eating lunch at 3:00, and a large one.  I brought mini-sandwiches and snacks for the trip up to NY. 

So, the question is, can we spend only $100 this weekend?  We'll find out shortly!

Movie: FrontLine: Sick Around America

Last weekend, I watched Frontline: Sick Around America on Netflix (originally aired on PBS.)  Wow.  I knew the healthcare industry was corrupt, but oh my goodness. 

I am an entrepreneur at heart.  I've always wanted to start my own business, and we currently have one in the works as we speak and I have another idea for a business jumping around in my head as I type this.  That being said, we will never be able to get private healthcare insurance.  Not because of Todd, but because of me.

It brought me to tears to learn about a girl who is my age that died of lupus because she couldnt get insurance from the private sector and couldnt afford to pay for the medications on her own (nor could her family.)  So, she died.  She passed away with over $900,000 in medical bills.

For me, I would not be able to recieve private healthcare coverage because of a stroke I had in 2005 at the age of 24 (they state the reason was from birth control.)  I have been on blood pressure medicine ever since.  Then, in 2009, I got H1N1 and was in ICU for 10 days and in a regular room for 7.  The stroke was over $24,000.  H1N1 was over $160,000 and still going up due to the doctors visits I continue to have a year later.  In 2001, I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia for 2 days which was over $9,000 in medical costs.  I am a health-care nightmare.

I also watched Michael Moore's "Sicko" several years ago and I was enraged.

So, even if Todd and I get these business' off the ground, one of us will always have to work to maintain healthcare that we can rely on.

Am I the only one this bothers?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Favorite Movies

I really like to watch movies.  This is a list of my alltime favorites:

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Pippy LongStocking

What are your favorite movies?

We Are Out of Town!

Todd and I are leaving this morning to go to upstate New York for my cousin's wedding. We decided that I would take Friday off (Todd had off Fri,Sat & Sun from work anyways), and we'd make a 3-day weekend out of it!

Last year, due to being sick, I missed the leaves change, so this year will be that much better!  We decided that we will drive up through Pennsylvania and hit the "wine trail" along with a lighthouse and stay the night about 2 or 3 hours away.  Then, oh Saturday, we will go to the town where the wedding is and check in there for the night.

I cant wait to see all my family (except my brother who is a Marine in Afghanistan right now, and my cousin who is in the Army stationed in Alaska).  I am hoping to post lots of pictures when we get back.  Be prepared! :-)

***I wrote this on Wednesday evening.  It is now Thursday evening and everything has changed.  I got a call from my stepmother that my father was admitted to the hospital this evening for a massive blood clot in his leg.  He wants us to go to NY for the wedding, but I am nervous (and worried) to go.  I called my mom (who was a Medical Assistant and is married to a doctor), and she said I should go.  He is in the best place right now and being monitored.  It was a blessing that he didnt get in the car and drive the 3 1/2 hours up to New York and THEN something horrible happen (stroke, blood clot in his lung, etc.)  But my mind is not at ease.  Mom says that even if we stayed home this weekend, we are an hour away.  If anything were to happen, it would be too late to get down to Akron.  I'm torn.


Todd and I like to watch movies.  A couple of months ago, we had a free trial with Netflix and really liked it.  It was so nice that we could watch a lot of movies through streaming video through our Wii. 

With Todd increasing our satellite package recently, I’ve thought about getting rid of the $9.68 monthly fee of NetFlix.  However, I TRULY enjoy the service.  So I am at a crossroad.  Do I keep it, or do I give it up?

With the Winter months coming, we are inside much of the time, whereas during the Spring & Summer, I am outside a lot with the animals and in the garden.

A great gift for the holidays is giving a 1 month gift of Netflix for $9.68 (after tax!)  We gave it as a wedding gift a few months ago, and the bride said it was one of the most thoughtful gifts she’d received, and one of the ones that she was most excited about using (I gave them the 1 month NetFlix certificate as well as a popcorn bowl with microwave popcorn and candy you’d find from the dollar store like LemonHeads, SweetTarts, Goobers, etc.)  So, if you are looking for a gift under $15 for someone – you may have met your match!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thrift Stores

I will admit it, I am a complete and utter slob.  It’s not my fault though, I swear.  God has given me a very large chest which catches any food that misses my mouth.

That being said, I cannot justify spending a lot of money on new clothes.  Todd and I WEAR our clothes.  They get dirty… fast!

Todd and I have a favorite Thrift Store we frequent.  When I say “frequent,” I mean 3-4 times a year.  We get most of our clothing from this store.  For me, I get my shirts from this store mainly.  Todd gets most everything because men’s pant sizes are pretty much universal.  My work pants and jeans are purchased from a regular store and I wear them until they are worn out (2-4 years.)

The Thrift Store offers ½ priced items based on the color of the day and what color the tags are on the items.  I have purchased shoes, dresses, shirts, skirts and even coats from this store.  Todd works in a dirty factory.  He buys his t-shirts from this particular thrift store.  We have a rule – no more than $0.50 for his t-shirts for work.  A lot of them have been a quarter!  Many of them look like they are brand new.

Todd decided that he’d go to his parents house after work one day, but didn’t have any civilian clothes, so he stopped by the thrift store and bought a whole outfit (including shoes) for $4! 

When people ask where I get my clothing, I am not embarrassed to tell them where I purchased them.  People ask if something is new, and I say, “It’s new to ME.”  The maximum amount I’m willing to pay for a shirt: $4. Nearly my entire wardrobe for work is from the thrift store…and no one would ever know it. 

Oh, and did I mention we spend less than $150/year on new clothes? When I drip tomato sauce on a light colored shirt, I may be a little peeved, but I have no problems throwing away a $1 shirt.  If it were a $15 shirt, I’d be mad. 

Because we shop this way, we are able to rotate our clothing quite a bit.  We are always adding and discarding clothes, so it is always fresh and new.  All on a budget!


I adore my car. 
Her name is Bianca (yes, we name our vehicles,) and I’ve had her since August 2006.  She is a 2007 Toyota Yaris 3 door hatchback. 

I decided to get a less expensive car 4 years ago with absolutely NO options.  The Yaris just hit the lots, and to be honest, I didn’t like the little 3 door hatchback.  However, the goal was to get a reliable, fuel efficient, vehicle at the best price.  Todd and I were talking about getting the 4 door, but he reminded me of my requirements of a less expensive vehicle with no frills.  So, after going back to the lot at looking at her again, I fell in love with Bianca.

Bianca has over 108,000 miles on her in only 4 years of ownership.  She gets approximately 40-45 MPG regularly.  In the Winter months when I have my snow tires, she gets around 38MPG.  I have to manually roll up and down my windows.  Power NOTHING. She is a standard, so not even her shifting is automatic!  I have to put my key in the lock to open the door.  She DOES have an MP3 jack which has come in handy.  I absolutely adore her.

She has had nothing done but new brakes after 70,000 miles and new tires.  We (meaning Todd) changes her oil every 5,000 miles as recommended.  He also gave her a 100,000 mile tune up with new air filter, new spark plugs and a good wax job.  She runs the same as she did 4 years ago, but looks a little more cute.  Todd bought me a spoiler for her one Christmas.  We have window tinting for her, but hubby hasn’t put it on yet (3 years later.) 

The best part?  She’s completely paid off!
I plan on owning her until she becomes unreliable.  I originally told Todd I’d like to see her hit 1 million miles, but for now, I would be thrilled to see her hit 250,000.  If nothing changes with my driving and employment , that would be in 5 years.

I enjoy looking at cars; however, there is no other vehicle I’d rather have more than my little Bianca.  She has been a great car thus far, and I’m sure she will be for many years to come.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rant : Dave Ramsey Caller

I listen to Dave Ramsey’s podcast on my drive into work every day.  This helps me to stay motivated with our “debt snowball,” and quite frankly, shows me that we don’t have it nearly as bad as others!

When I listen to some of these callers, I am in shock.  The one woman I was listening to today has an income of $30,000/year and a mortgage payment of $950/month!  Are you serious?  No WONDER you are broke. 

Another woman called in and states she has a $100,000 second mortgage on her house.  SECOND MORTGAGE.  She states, “Well, we got a new kitchen, and I have a car on it…”  Dave asks how much the car was, and she nonchalantly replies, “$38,000.”   When this woman stated she had a $100,000 SECOND MORTGAGE, I said, “whoah!”  And then, when she said she had a $38,000 vehicle, I was in disbelief.

I may be a bit biased because Todd and I bought our home at auction for $35,000.  We had to put in a $16,000 septic, $5,000 roof, and many repairs (that are still going).  Our total mortgage is less than one year of our gross salary.  Our mortgage is about a quarter of my take home salary. We could have easily purchased a home that was 3 times the amount of our current mortgage, but I cannot imagine the stress that would come along with it.  We have piece of mind knowing that if either one of us were to lose our job, we could live off of one income.

Onto vehicles: Does anyone really need a $38,000 vehicle?  Ok…I admit, I would like an all electric car.  There is a manufacturer in our area that makes them.  I cannot justify buying an automobile that cost more than our house.  We have two vehicles that were both $12,000 or less to purchase.  And guess what?  I bet both of our vehicles get better gas mileage than this lady’s $38,000 vehicle.  No, no one will ever come up to me and say, “Wow.  What a luxurious vehicle you have!”  But I have always had people ask me, “What kind of car is that?  What type of mileage do you get?” 

My point is, I am Ok with being mediocre.  Or as Dave Ramsey calls it, “weird.”  If that means I am able to become Financially Independent by not owning a $200,000 home, a $40,000 car, and making $100,000/year – then sobeit.

Wordless Wednesday

Enough Said
(purchased at a garage sale for $0.25 : Todd HAD to have it.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Review: Awakening

Awakening by Claudia Cangilla McAdam is a book about a teenage girl (Ronnie) who goes back in time and is able to witness (and possibly change?) the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus.  Is she able to change the outcome?

It is difficult to write a review on this book without giving too much away.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book from page 1 to page 150.   I couldn’t put the book down.  There were many “a-ha” moments in the book and the suspense made me stay up late at night to see what happened next.  This book also made me feel closer to God.  Even though I know that He died on the cross for our sins, this book really made it hit home.  I am 29 years old, and I thought it was great how modern the descriptions were in this book (there was the use of the word “skank” in the book that made me chuckle a bit.)  I believe this could easily be read and understood by teenagers – boys and girls alike.

There are several favorite parts of the book, but one that made me smile is about how Ronnie was named and the meaning of her name.  I would highly recommend this book to both adults as well as High School teenagers. 
I received this book free from Sophia Institute Press as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Your Money or Your Life

I have tried to read this book several times in the past, but it never really interested me.  Then, I got the book on audio from the local library, and it really hits home. 

Your Money or Your Life screams contentment and having “enough.”  It talks about “Working for a Dying,” which is what I feel like I do every day.  I absolutely love this audio book, and look forward to getting it again in a few months to drive home the principals.

The part of this book that I am on right now is about how much you are REALLY making in your profession.  I calculated how much I am making in my career, and it is nearly half of what my pay stub shows that I make.  For instance, my pay stub shows I make $19/hour.  When you take into account the cost of travel, the fact that I work an hour away from home, my lunch break, taxes, etc., I’m really only making $10.25/hour.  When I go out for lunch every Wednesday with a coworker, I am trading 1 hour of my “life energy” for that meal.

Todd and I really want to go on a cruise December 2011.  I figured that with the cruise and airline ticket alone, it would cost me 80+ hours of my “life energy” to take this trip.  That does not include any additional expenses we may incur, and that is just for ME.

Todd makes just a wee bit less than I do – so it will be about 100 hours of his “life energy” to pay for the trip.

When you put things into perspective like this, it really makes you think about what is worthwhile for you and what is not.

I strongly suggest this book / audio book (only 2 CD’s). 

The New Mortgage

Todd and I signed the paperwork a couple of weeks ago our refinanced mortgage.  Just to recap, we originally bought our house in 2007 – got a 20 year, 5.99% loan.  3 years later, we refinanced for 15 years at 3.85%.  We are cutting 2 years off of the mortgage, have a lower payment every month (not by much, but it still counts!) and will save over $25,000 in interest charges.

If we pay an additional $150/month, the mortgage will be a 10 year mortgage.
How awesome is that?  I would be 40 – Todd would be 50 if we were to pay the additional $150/month.  

We are on a debt payment budget right now, and strongly believe in Dave Ramsey’s teachings.  That being said, I am thinking about straying a bit from Dave’s teachings and pay the additional $150/month while paying down our other two debts (Todd’s vehicle loan and his credit card from BEFORE we were married.)  I am considering trying to start selling items on and making this extra $150 so that it does not effect the other parts of the budget.

Do you or have you sold anything on etsy?
What are your thought on this?  Are we doing the right thing?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce

This past weekend, I tried to make my own spaghetti sauce.  I had a ½ bushel of Roma tomatoes from the garden that I had put into the blender under “salsa” mode to keep it a little bit chunky.  I then emptied the contents into a large stock pot and brought to a nice simmer for about 8 hours.  I added some rosemary and basil from the garden, as well as 3 chopped onions, about 8 tbsp worth of minced garlic, Italian seasoning, hot pepper flakes, oregano and a little bit of sugar.

After 8 hours of simmering, it was about half the amount I originally started with.  I originally put some basil, rosemary, onions and garlic in the sauce, but I did not like how bitter the sauce was.  I called my mom to see what I should put in.  That’s when she mentioned the other ingredients.

I was planning on canning, but right now, I’m not so sure.  I am afraid to can.  I don’t know why, I just am!  I’ve got the mason jars (free from Freecycle), but I don’t have the wide-mouth caps and lids.  I’d have to go buy those.

I have a friend’s pressure canner, but it says right on the box that it is not to be used with glass stovetops (which is what we have.) Apparently, they can break the glass stovetop.

I had this idea that I’d plant all these tomato plants (which I did – we have 28 tomato plants) and we’d have enough sauce to last us through the winter.  Yeah…THAT didn’t happen.  I bet we would have about 6-8 jars of sauce from the batch I made.  Yes, we still have a lot of green tomatoes on the vines that may made up another ½ bushel in the next few weeks, but was it really worth it?

I told my FaceBook friends that I will not be planting that many tomato plants again next year.  But, after thinking about it, if Todd really likes the sauce, I will probably have another go at it next year.  Maybe not with 28 tomato plants (20 of which were Roma), but maybe 5 or 6 beefsteak tomato plants or another larger variety.

What has been your experience with canning?
Have you ever canned before?


Todd and I have allowances.  Yes, you read correctly, allowances.  Like children.

We decided to do this a couple of years ago because of the guilt I felt for going out to sushi lunches at work, and the resentment I felt towards Todd buying into some of his “bad habbits.”  Now, we both get $20/week of “play money.”  Mine always seems to be gone before I can accumulate too much of it because of sushi lunches every week with a coworker.  Todd is pretty good at accumulating his, but then blows it on either his “bad habbits” or toys.  For instance, he has a Netbook from saving up his allowances.  Just last week, he bought a digital AM/FM radio for work with his allowance money.

This has helped save our budget on more than one occasion.  Even though it’s not much, it is perfect for the two of us. OK, I’ll admit, the first Friday of every month, we get an extra $20 because Todd wanted an increase to $25/week.  I don’t carry cash, so we agreed that the first week of every month, we’d get $40. 

What works for you?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Recipe: Apple Cake (Healthy!)

Apple Cake

4 C chopped apples
3/4 C apple sauce (or oil)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs (I use egg substitute)
2 C flour
1 1/2 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 C chopped walnuts (optional - I dont use them : never have them!)

Mix everything together with a wooden spoon.
Bake at 325 for 50 minutes in a 13 x 9 pan.

So moist and delicious!

I Dont Do Pictures

I see people's FB pages and blogs, and everyone has all of these beautiful pictures.  I dont.
I love pictures - I love taking pictures.
I DONT like pictures of ME.

Todd and I have been married for 3 1/2 years and we dont have many pictures of the two of us.  If we do, they are self-portraits taken (and a little off center), but none of us in the last couple of years.  We have pictures of our wedding day, but I dont like any of them because of the fat marshmallow (oh wait, that is me) in all of them. 

I am not comfortable in my own skin.  I refuse to believe I look like what I see if photos.  So, maybe it's denial.  Whatever it is - I dont like what I see.  I NEED to get rid of this weight.  Not just for photos, but for my health. Why cant I stay motivated?


"He who does not economize will have to agonize"-Confusius


It Always Seems to Work Out

I work in a position where there are timelines.  I have to meet several of them within the day.  I also deal with problems that occur, or getting product to a customer that they THOUGHT they ordered 2 weeks ago, and they are about to run out.  So, needless to say, one minute, I could be lulling along in my job, the next minute, I’m calling from California to New Jersey to get pricing and find out our options.

There seem to be weeks that everything goes wrong.  This past week was one of those weeks.  I would fret, worry, bite my nails, etc.  I try not to bring work home with me (mentally.)  I don’t like to talk about work when I’m not AT work.  What happens in the office, stays in the office. 

What I realized this week is that even though 3 “catastrophic” things happened…they all get worked out...eventually.  I may have to be stern with vendors and push our requirements, but they get done. 

I have to remember this not only with my profession, but this happens in my personal life.  When things seem like they will never get resolved, I have to remind myself that they will all work out for the best.  Even if it’s not on MY time.

Recipe: Chicken Cordon Bleu

Todd and I had chicken cordon bleu on our wedding day, and I have made a mock chicken cordon bleu ever since.  This is how I make it:

Thick chicken breasts (we buy them fresh when on sale for $1.99/lb at the store)
Thick Slices of Ham
Swiss Cheese (we use mozzarella because we get it for a good price at Gordon Food Service)
Bread Crumbs

Preheat oven to 350
Cut the chicken breast in half – but not the whole way through.  Just enough to fold over.
Fold over the chicken breast, and place a piece or two of ham and a couple of pieces of cheese.  Fold the flap back over and secure with a toothpick.

Put some bread crumbs in a bowl, and roll the chicken cordon bleu in the breadcrumbs to cover.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until cooked the whole way through.


Book Review: Becoming A Woman of Faith by Cynthia Heald

The book Becoming A Woman of Faith by Cynthia Heald is an amazing book!  It would be perfect as a gift, for personal use as a devotional, or for study groups.  Each chapter is on a specific topic that directs you to Bible verses.  You are then able to write notes and favorite parts of a verse in the book to refer to later in the day, next week, or even next year. There is also learning material in each chapter to pull together what was learned from the Bible verse(s).

As a person who has struggled with my walk, this is the perfect book.  That being said, I think this book would be a great resource for those who are seeking our Heavenly Father or are unsure how to begin in their walk with Him.  It opens many doors of communication between believers and those struggling.  I also believe this book is a great reference to strengthen ones relationship with God.

I absolutely love this book.  It is a small book, but the content is exactly what I needed in my journey with Him.  I plan on reviewing this book over and over again to help me in my journey.  I believe many others could also benefit from Becoming A Woman of Faith and its teachings.


I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


I can sit here and honestly say that I am content with everything that Todd and I own and what we have done to improve our relationship with one another. That’s not to say there aren’t any things that I wouldn’t mind completed (like the house projects!), but I am content with how far we’ve gotten in the 3 ½ years since we moved in.

I would love to travel more, but this year, we really cut back.  There were no extravagant week-long vacations to a tropical island or two.  Instead, we had a few 3-4 day weekends out of town, used a gift certificate for one of them which cost us $14 out of pocket to stay overnight in the woods in a beautiful log cabin.  Another, we went to Washington DC to visit a friend of mine, staying the night at her house and eating out only once a day.

When people walk into our house, they oooh and aaaw about some the items we own.  Guess what?  We are cheap frugal! We buy items from garage sales, flea markets and auctions.  We get a lot of free furniture from his father who worked for a storage facility.  He would pick up items that people were throwing out and either keep them himself or give them to us.  Our kitchen lamp was a free find from Todd’s father. 

The only large furniture item we have purchased new since we’ve been married is our mattress.  Instead of getting a cheap one (as we both had before,) we got one that is top of the line from a local mattress company.  We couldn’t be happier. 

Somehow, because we merged my home with his, and then added from his parents and mine, everything all works out in our home! 

It is not just our home that I’m content with, but even our vehicles.  After getting married, Todd purchased a large conversion van, and then bought a beater car because it cost so much in gas for the van.  We replaced both vehicles with his 2008 Kia Rondo.  This is the vehicle I have been chipping away at the balance part of this year.  And my beautiful Bianca, she has over 108,000 miles on her, but I wouldn’t even WANT another vehicle.  I want to drive her until she doesn’t drive any more.  I don’t even think about what other car I’d want to own.  Bianca is perfect for me. I’ve been spoiled with her.  She is fuel efficient, inexpensive to maintain, reliable, and not to mention, ADORABLE!

Our neighborhood – I love where we live.  We live in a Township, just 3 blocks away from being “in town.”  This means no public water, and no natural gas, but it also means there is a little bit of land around us.  We live on a dead-end street with just 3 houses on it.  We own two of the three houses.  The last house is an 80 year old woman who lives about a half acre away.  Across the street – all trees.  Needless to say, it is extremely quiet where we live, until the wolves start to howl.  Yes, there is a family that owns 3 wolves, and they howl some nights.  The neighbor behind us used to own a deer.  Only in Newton Falls can you find wolves, deer and pigs within a country block.

So, all in all, life is good.  We don’t make anywhere near six figures, but we are happy.  We don’t like our jobs, but we know that we are taking the right steps to financial freedom where we can one day say “see ya later!” and find more fulfilling positions closer to home.  I think we are on the right track.