Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Mr. Fix-It

Todd really should have been an engineer.  I swear, it’s his calling.  This man can fix ANYTHING!  I am constantly amazed at what he can fix, and what he thinks up. I cant imagine how much the home-improvements on our home would have cost if he couldn’t do them by himself.  So far, the only three things we’ve hired people to do are: 1.) Roof (because I wanted to make sure it was done right and had a warranty), 2.) Septic (required by the county to be one of their approved excavators,) and 3.) Cutting down huge trees that were too close to our home.

Todd installed the gutters on our home when we first moved in (there were no gutters when we bought the place!)  Ever since, we’ve had really bad icicles.  These never really bothered me, except for when they dripped on my head when I walked out the French doors.  Apparently, they’ve bothered Todd.  So…he went looking for a solution.

And guess what?  He found a solution!  He bought women’s pantyhose (he must have looked weird in WalMart looking at boxes hose) and a couple of jugs of the de-icer pellets.  Of course, if we didn’t have little critters running around, he could have gone for the cheaper salt, but this is pet friendly (thank goodness, because Lana was drinking out of the rain gutter yesterday!)  You fill up the knee-highs with the de-icer and tie the end.  He then tied several of them across the roof where we have the most icicles.  He made and tied 6 of them.  And it worked!  We had a really good snow, and so far, there are no icicles! 

He is such a fart smeller…I mean, smart feller!  (This is his joke that he’s said since we met…and now, I’ve acquired it!)

My Mr. Fix-It costs us a lot of money sometimes, but he sure does come in handy.  I love him to pieces.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Status of Todd's Car PayOff Plan

I got paid December 15th (Wednesday) and THOUGHT I was going to put a large portion of my paycheck toward Todd’s car; however, I decided against it.  The next payment on his car is not until October of 2012, and even though I want to pay his vehicle off by the end of the month, I wanted to get some other things paid off first.

I get paid on the 15th and 30th of every month.  That said, 4 times a year, I get an extra week’s pay.  Luckily, this paycheck had an extra $475 in it to help pay some things.  What did I decide to pay from this paycheck? 

1.)    The mortgage of $418.00 (due 01/01/11)
2.)     Propane Bill (not due until January 4th, but I didn’t want to push it.  We need gas to heat our home! This last fill-up was $120 more than I expected.  It ended up being $768 instead of $650!)
3.)    Every other bill we have (satellite, DSL, cell phones, Todd’s credit card, dog tag renewal (Lana is now legal through 2011,) septic renewal ($175: we are legal through the end of next year.)
4.)    Finished purchasing Christmas gifts (I had 3 gift cards to buy : and I was able to do it with this paycheck!)

So…we are paid up on all of our bills through the end of December!  Luckily, we did NOT get the invoice for our property taxes yet, so I can wait to pay those after the New Year. 

I allocated $300 for the rest of the month for groceries/party items for the two parties we will be having at the house.  I also allocated $150 for the two of us in gas as well as $80 total for allowances for the two of us through the end of the year. 

All else said, with my last paycheck of the year and Todd’s next 3 paychecks (every Friday through the end of the year,) we SHOULD be able to pay off Todd’s vehicle (current balance: $1,235.27) and have $450 left over by the end of the year assuming we don’t have any unexpected expenses.

One less revolving payment sounds so great right about now…

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I have always been very strong-willed, stubborn and independent.  I grew up believing in women’s rights, and “Girl Power!” Many girls dream of their wedding and babies.  Not me.  I was never going to get married (and this was BEFORE my parents got divorced.)  I was going to adopt a lot of children and “live off the land.”  I didn’t need a man in my life. 

When the time came that my parents got divorced, my feminism was still just as strong.  My friends, who led me to Christ, always talked about submission and following their future husbands.  I never wanted to be that way.  I never wanted to have a man tell me what to do, and how to do things.  I argued to no-end about submission and how degrading it was as a woman. 

Fast forward to today. I am really feeling the need to trust in God and to follow Him.  I am not well versed in the Bible, but I want to be.  I want to learn all there is to learn within the Word of God.  I want to be a God-fearing woman, and all that comes with it (including submission.)

I have not talked to Todd about this yet but I’m pretty sure he will pass out.  I haven’t talked to him about wanting to join a church, daily devotionals, prayer time, submission, or any of it.  We went to church together ONCE in our relationship, and that was after I got out of the hospital.  Todd didn’t like the church; however, I did. 

I’m not sure Todd would be as willing as I am to make a change in our lives such as this one.  But all I can do is pray, and follow the teachings of the Bible.

I’m starting to ramble.  The point of this post is that I am seeking references.  Does anyone have any suggestions of books that I can start reading about submission, or any great daily devotionals?    

I hope this post doesn’t offend anyone.  I’m really not quite sure how this will all work out.  Only time will tell, but I know whatever happens is His plan for me.

Ways to Save Money

I have been thinking alot about the New Year lately.  The New Year is like a new, fresh start, where I have all of these things that I want to do and learn. Some years, I fail miserably, other years I dont do too bad.  Not only do I have my "2011 Asprirations" already written out and ready to conquer, but I want to try to find ways to save money. 

Todd and I are pretty cheap frugal.  We do pretty well, I think, when it comes to alot of things.  However, there is always room for improvement.  We (aka Todd) spend money at times when we shouldnt or when we dont need to.  So, I've been thinking of ways to help save money into the New Year.

This is what I've come up with:
  • Start searching with Swagbucks while at work (I use Google to search alot and could probably get quite a few points throughout the year) and redeem them for Amazon gift cards to use for gifts throughout the year.
  • Bake more from scratch
  • Use the envelope system as Dave Ramsey teaches for our entertainment budget
  • Stay home and enjoy each other more doing things we already have or things we enjoy doing together
  • Make a small batch of laundry detergent from scratch and use when doing my laundry to help save on buying detergent.
  • Grow veggies that produce alot and take up minimal space (so I can can/freeze more veggies)
  • Buy apple trees when on clearance for our "home orchard."
I bought an adorable plastic coupon/envelope with dividers in it to help with our "cash envelope" system I'd like to put in place.  I was thinking about putting the grocery budget in this as well, but then decided against it.  I like that Todd can go out and pick up some things before work at WalMart if he needs for his lunch (alot of times, it's just lunchmeat) and I can track it with  I can see what we spend per month on groceries really easily using the program.  The main reason I wanted the cash envelope is because we (me) are short-changing ourselves out of the "fun money" we get every month.  We have $100/month to spend together to do fun things.  Well, many months, we dont even spend half of that.  But then I get cheap and tell Todd that we cant go to a baseball game, or a basketball game because I dont want to spend the money.  WE are entitled to go if we want to because we dont spend nearly as much as what's in our entertainment budget.  So...this way, we will accumulate our money throughout the year, and if we want to go on a night out on the town in Cleveland that may cost $250, and we've got the money in the envelope, there is no way I can say, "No, we dont have the money."  It will be right there for both of us to see.

Staying home and enjoying each other - I would like to do that alot more.  I have really been lacking in the bedroom with my husband (TMI!)  I would like to enjoy one another again openly and freely without any restraints. Maybe we can commit to one day a week, just him and I, in the bedroom, nothing else.  Breakfast/Lunch & Dinner in bed.  Not only in the bedroom, but also just here around the house.  I miss playing Wii Sports with him, or watching a movie with no interuptions (internet or animals.) I would like for us to start reading the Bible together and talk about whatever is on our minds.  I would also like to help Todd out with some of the home improvements around the house.  All of this, which costs nothing (unless we get pregnant.) 

I have made my own liquid laundry detergent in the past for the both of us to use.  Todd works hard, and gets REALLY dirty.  Not only at work, but around the house.  He has mentioned that he didnt like using the homemade detergent.  That is fine.  We wash our clothes seperately (most of the time) anyways.  So, I was thinking that if I make a small batch of detergent, I could use it to use my laundry and towels, and then we can use the regular detergent for his dirty, nasty clothes.  This way, we're not spending alot on detergent throughout the year, and I am a little more earth-friendly with my wash.

In 2010, I had a whole row on green beans.  We love greenbeans in our house.  Todd loves them fresh (I liked canned until I found out how great fresh can be from the garden this year!)  Those greenbeans took up a whole row in our garden.  I had planted bush beans.  The same goes for the roma tomatoes.  I planted a whole row, and then some of the larger variety on a trellis.  Those two things took up about half of the garden space I had.  I was informed that roma's were best for sauces.  Well, there were just too many of them, and they were alot of work.  So, this year, we will have lots and lots of tomatoes, but they will be on a trellis.  The same goes with the green beans.  I will buy the trellis variety this year and have several of them.  There is alot more room in the garden when veggies grow UPWARD instead of out. 

As for the trees, last year, we bought 1 apricot tree, 1 dwarf plum and 2 pear trees at a fraction of the cost (at the end of the season - Father's Day.)  We love apples.  Squiggy eats them, Lana eats them, we eat them...everyone loves them.  I'd like to purchase apple trees around Father's Day and plant them so that in a few years, we will have apples to pick.  We could have bought some in 2010, but I wasnt very comfortable with even the 4 trees we bought.  I didnt know how to take care of them, or if they'd ever produce fruit.  I'm not sure if the trees we bought will produce, but I know what I need to do to help them along.  What's another 2-4 trees, right?

While we are on the topic of fruits, I would also like to put in a row on blueberry bushes in the back of the house.  I want to be picking fruits/veggies throughout the whole season!  From Spring (strawberries) through Fall (Apples & Blueberries!)

Do you have any other suggestions on how we can save money in 2011?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday : Winter Wonderland

(Pictures taken 12/14/10)

 The house

Same picture of house with flash 

Our street  

Squiggy's Bachelor Pad
(the fence will be white next year) 

A tree that I thought looked cool at our "other" house next door.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Years "Aspirations"

Every year, I come up with a list of things I want to do throughout the year.  In 2010, I decided to keep it simple and had only 3 things on the list.  They were:

  1. Lose 25 lbs  (I failed at this one, by the way.)
  2. Pay off all debt except for house (another fail, but we are close to paying off Todd’s vehicle and then only $7600 left on his credit card.)
  3. Read at least one financial book each month (yet another fail.  I DID read a lot more in 2010 than I have ever read.  I read several financial books, because I enjoy those types of books, but now that I am a blogger, I have been reading books for several different publishers for their Book Review programs.  So I read many more than 12 books in 2010, but not all financial books.)

2010 was a year that I decided would be MY year.  After being so ill in 2009, I wanted to live life to the fullest, and to be honest, I think I did pretty well with it.  It was a great year for me.

I have been pondering my 2011 “New Years Aspirations” and came up with a lot more than just 3 things.  So, here they are:

  1. Become a Godly woman (daily devotionals and attending church regularly!)
  2. Spend more time with friends and family (make more of an effort)
  3. Lose 24 lbs (that’s just 2 lbs a month)
  4. Read 24+ books of my choosing
  5. Pay off the rest of our consumer debt, build a 3 month emergency fund of $6,000 and start investing in a Roth IRA
  6. Have a will made up
  7. Get both business’ up and running
  8. Make at least 1 crock-pot recipe every week
  9. Grow enough produce to be self-sufficient as long as we can throughout the year (can and freeze as much as possible)

What are your aspirations?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas 2011

Yes, I am already thinking about what I want to do differently for next year.  This year, I must admit, was not very stressful.  I don’t feel like we went overboard on buying gifts or spending too much money.  Actually, it seems like it will be a pretty simple Christmas this year. 

However, there are a couple of things that I want to do differently for next year.  I would like to make a few things for a few people on my list.  I used to love to do cross stitch growing up; however, haven’t done it in years.  I put about a dozen books on hold at the library that I am going to pick up in the next few days, and I will find patterns that I would like to make for people like my grandmother, my niece, my step-sister, a few friends, etc.

Also, in 2011, I would like for Todd and I to make several batches of wines and give them as gifts to people.  A cheap bottle of fruity wine (not the 2 buck Chuck which is too dry for us) is no less than $6 from what I’ve seen.  We can make a bottle of wine for less than $2/bottle.  We have plenty of bottles we’ve accumulated over the years to give some as gifts as well as to keep some for ourselves.  Everyone loves our wine, so I think this would be a great gift for my mother-in-law, my dad and his wife, my friend here at work, a few friends of mine outside of work, grandma, etc.  It will cost approximately $50/batch for the supplies and if we make just 3 batches for the holidays, it would be approximately 90 bottles of wine.  We didn’t make any wine in 2010 as we usually do, so we will probably make anywhere from 3-5 batches and give the fruity stuff as gifts and keep the ice wines for ourselves.

Lastly, I would like to make some of the Gifts in a Jar.  This is something my step-sister and my niece can do together in the Winter months, and I think it’d be a perfect gift for the two of them. 

Are you already planning for next year’s Christmas?  Or is it just my OCD?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Book Review: Angry by Laura L. Smith

Angry by Laura L. Smith is a book geared toward teens.  When I read this book, I could completely relate to the main character, Emma, and what she was going through. 

The book is about a teenager named Emma (16,) who overheard a suspicious conversation her father was having, heard her mother sobbing one late night / early morning, found some personal items of her fathers that were hid in his closet, and then found out that her parents were getting a divorce. 

Emma is one of six children, and being the oldest, a lot of the responsibility has been put on her shoulders.  That responsibility was tenfold after her parents announced their divorce.

I feel like this book was MY story 14 years ago when my parents divorced for the same reason.  And at the same time, that is when I found God.  Emma had known God, but hadn’t felt Him in her life the year leading up to the divorce.

Through the book, you could feel Emma's hurt and anger toward her parents, her angry remarks, her storming out of the room and yelling.  But Emma learns that God is always there for her, and He knows what she is going through and how she feels.  She learns how to give it all to Him.

This book is a great book for a teen going through something like this.  I felt so alone when my parents were getting a divorce when I was 15.  I blamed everything on my father, and I hated him.  This book would have helped to validate some of the things I was doing and the way I acted.  In the end, like Emma, I turned to God and am now happy that my parents divorced.  They are better people now than they ever were together.  And they created two pretty awesome kids through the whole ordeal.  Even though we are a split family - we are closer now than we ever were before.  Even though now, it's not the four of us, it is me and my brother (25) with my mom and her husband, and me and my brother with my dad and his wife.  We are a very solid family now.  Nothing could break us apart.

I received this book free from NavPress as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The Most Expensive "Free Trip" Ever

Todd joked that our trip to Florida last week was “the most expensive free trip ever.”  He was right.  I bet we spent a good $300 while on our trip.  I wish we wouldn’t have spent that much money, but we had a great time.

We have been working so hard on getting debts paid off that he hadn’t gone on any extravagant vacations.  This vacation wasn’t really extravagant, but it was at a nice hotel, and we went to a great football game and tail gate party before hand.  It wasn’t really our type of vacation, though.  There wasn’t much to do in Ft. Lauderdale but sit on the beach and watch the waves, and go to the Boardwalk.  We like to sight-see and experience a city when we go away.  Ft. Lauderdale has none of that.

But, it was nice to get away, meet some new people (professionally and personally,) and get away from the cold!