2012 in Review

Monday, December 31, 2012
 I hope everyone had a great Christmas, we definitely did. We've both had a nice long vacation and were able to travel to Missouri to visit our families. I just wanted to take a minute and kind of reflect on what's happened in the past year and make mention of our goals for the upcoming year. So pretty much what everyone does on December 31st :)  

 Personally we've had a pretty eventful year. In April we got married, combined finances, and started learning how to live together. I'm not really a mushy person but I have to say I can't imagine what my life would be like without the mister. I'm so blessed to have married my absolute best friend who understands me and makes my heart turn to mush. Okay that's enough of that. Moving on!

  I started a new job in July and Phillip transferred departments last month. We both really enjoy our new positions. I don't have nearly as much stress as I did before, I mean I'm not worrying about someone dying while we're out on an outing or running away from me while we're shopping at Target. I do miss some of the people I worked with but I'm able to leave work at work and not worry about it while I'm at home. Phillip is now doing Web Development, so he's able to be a nerd for 8 hours/day and doesn't have to take phone calls from people who have let their loans go into delinquency and yell at him because they "don't have the money" even when they have an income that's higher than ours. His stress level has dropped a lot too. 

  Around July we got pretty intense on paying our student loans back and sticking with a budget. We have deviated from that a little bit in November and December with Christmas shopping and such but we paid everything in cash. This morning I got a little curious so I added up everything we've paid on our Student Loans this year.
Sallie Mae - $8,379.63
Chase - $1,709.90
Fedloan - $3,596.49
WellsFargo - $3,115.51
Total - $16,801.53!

  Considering half of that has been paid since September/October I think that's pretty darn awesome! 

  We haven't completely finished up our 2013 Resolutions but we are going to go back to a pretty tight budget and see how much we can knock off of our student loans next year. We're also going to switch back to eating a whole foods diet as much as possible, we've gotten pretty lax in this area as well. My personal goal is to try to like vegetables. Because essentially I'm this kid: 
   I did eat some celery the other day. So that's a start right? 

  That's enough rambling for today, time to start getting ready for our New Years Eve festivities. Happy New Year!!!

Weird side effect...

Sunday, December 2, 2012
    So.....we've been pretty boring recently. Sorry 'bout that.
    We have been attending a new Bible Fellowship class for young married couples, last night we went to the annual Christmas party. It was a lot of fun and we met a lot of the people in the class we hadn't talked to before. Each person was asked to bring something for the White Elephant exchange. Remember all that decluttering we did? It was hard to find things we weren't using! I did dig up a Bedazzler and wrapped a cookbook for Phillip to take.

/tangent,  back to the point. The hardest adjustment to this new job was only being paid once/month instead of biweekly. I think we've finally gotten the hang of it though. My initial fear was of using up the check too quickly and not having enough to last until the end of the month.

    The system we have started doing is pretty popular with people who use the You Need A Budget software (we don't use that, I've just seen a lot of references on the Total Money Makeover forums). You basically arrange things so that you're living on your income from the previous month. You can read about that here. It does take out a lot of the stress, knowing that you have that buffer in case something happens.

   I never thought I'd say this but...it also makes it kind of fun to pay the bills. We still have a long way to go but tonight as I went through and paid all of our student loans payments it was with more of a "we can do this!" attitude rather than a cranky "we're never going to get these paid off!" perspective. That could be my massive mug of hot chocolate talking but I don't think so. Since we've started taking control of our money and budgeting we've really felt more content with the things we have and have less of the "I wants". It's super cheesy but following FPU really does make it possible to feel peaceful about your finances, even if you have a mountain of student loans left to pay off.

   On a lighter note...I have a pretty fabulous pinstrosity to share after Christmas. It was intended to be a Christmas gift, we're going to try to salvage it. We'll see how that goes!!



Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
    My favorite thing about cold weather is heading to Starbucks for a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. I only get about one/year because I don't like the $4 price tag! Thanks to Pinterest and Google you don't have to pay that much anymore! I read several recipes and decided to go for it! This is a mash-up of a few Pinterest recipes I saw.


 1 cup of milk
 1 and 1/2 packets of hot chocolate mix
 2 tsps caramel sauce (like you'd put on a sundae)
 Pinch of sea salt (to taste)
 whipped cream (optional)

 I'm finicky, I heat my milk in one cup and make the hot chocolate in the other. It dirties and extra mug but I find that it's easier to mix milk into the hot chocolate powder than the other way around.

 Heat the milk in the microwave until warmed to your preference.

 In your other mug add the hot chocolate mix, pinch of salt, and caramel sauce. When your milk is hot pour it over the mixture and stir. Add whipped cream, and if you're more graceful than I am you can drizzle some caramel on top. I knew that I would end up making a mess so I skipped that step!

 Let me know if you like it :) I think it's pretty awesome!


Still Making Progress!

Monday, October 29, 2012
 Yesterday we decided that if we went to bed super early (which ended up being 9:30) we could get up early and be productive before heading off to work. It was kind of successful...

 We made a new spreadsheet of all of our student loans, how much the beginning balance was on everything and how much we owe now. We are under the original balance by $1.02. We've been paying on our student loans since 2010 and as of this morning paid off all of the interest that had accrued. Gross! 

 It was August when we started really following our budget and budgeting any extra money to go towards our student loans. We've paid 2 small student loans plus throwing quite a bit at another one and our minimum payments. We calculated how much we've paid from August-October and came up with:


We were pretty excited, that averages out to $2785.66/month going towards our debt. $919/month of that is our minimum payments, the rest has been what is left over after we've budgeted for the month. 

Two things that has really helped us out to start making some headway. First, Phillips boss realized he's been working in 2 departments but they never updated his pay rate so he received some back pay for that, and now he receives a higher rate when he works over in that department. Also if you remember I started a new job back in July, so I'm earning more now as well. Even though we're earning more than we were when we first got married we haven't changed our standard of living. We did raise our grocery budget to $75/week but we usually spend closer to $60 and carry the rest over, we also raised our tithes to match the 10% of our income.  

 I think the biggest change we've experienced is that when we budget for things and stay focused finances aren't scary anymore! It's actually kind of fun to track your progress and know where everything is going. 

Have a great day!

Free Books & Movies!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012
      A few months ago I really wanted to watch 'Winter's Bone' but I didn't want to order it from Amazon since we recently purged most of our movies. Then I remembered that I had a library card, and the library is really close to work, also that they have movies! Since then we've been having free date nights with movies from the library. We're nerdy like that.

I checked out 'Chicago' for us to watch tonight. This is probably how Phillip felt...

   I'm so glad I rediscovered that our public library is pretty darn fabulous. I grew up with my nose in a book, I'm pretty sure that's why my vision rivals that of a 70 year old grandma. Guess what else the library has?

I know we just donated a ton of books but this was just too tempting. Besides, don't I need to fill up the empty space on the bookshelf from the books we got rid of?
                                           Fairly random collection but it was really cheap!
 Ted Dekker: The Bride Collector $1
 Ted Dekker: Adam $1
 Francis Chan: Crazy Love $1
 Makers of the Theological Mind: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: $1.50
 Marc Aronson: Witch Hunt $2.50
 Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - Free section
 Freedom Writers Diary - Free section
 Vernon Can Read: A Memoir - Free section

 Total: 8 books for $7.50!

This concludes the nerdiest blog post I've written to date. You're welcome!

Weekend in the Mountains

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
 My family came to visit for the weekend! We made the loop around Cades Cove 4 times, ate waaaayyy too much food, and enjoyed our visit. We rented a cabin right on the Little River.
These are are our gold diggin' clothes. We found a few sparklies but nothing to write home about.
Moonshine Holler

My husband, the gatherer. Good thing too. It rained that night and the river rose! 
2 large black bears in Cades Cove
John Cable Grist Mill
Elevation: 5,560 feet Tennessee/North Carolina Border

That's our lovely weekend in a nutshell!  Have a great night! :) 

This could have been a Pinstrosity...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
 This morning the first words I heard were: *chuckle* "Well Sunny, your bread dough has risen."


  Last night I planned to make pizza roll for dinner, I made it a few times over the summer and it turned out really well but last night I couldn't get the darn dough to rise! We have the heat/air off right now so it's staying around 68 degrees, which apparently isn't warm enough to thaw frozen bread dough and make it rise.

 So when Phillip came home from work and saw a frozen lump of dough on the stove he decided it would probably be better to just go out for dinner. I forgot all about the dough until this morning.

After I cut off the ends that dried out and punched the air out of it this is what I had to work with:
That's more like it!
 So I went ahead and got dinner ready for tonight. This is a really easy recipe I stole from here, but I changed it up a little bit.

I love my giant cutting/rolling out stuff on board and rolling pin!

Mix 1/2 container of ricotta with herbs. I used Oregano, Basil, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes

Sprinkle with whatever shredded cheese you prefer, cover with pepperoni.

Ta-Dah! (which is short for Da-da-da-da!)
You get nerd points for knowing that reference....
 There ya have it! We'll see if it actually worked once I bake it for dinner tonight, I'm not sure if the dough will be tough from having expanded so much.
Ingredients+cost breakdown:
 1 loaf of Rhodes frozen bread dough $1
 1/2 container of ricotta cheese $1
 1 cup of shredded cheese $.50 (Still using the cheese I got at UGO!)
 1/2 package of pepperoni $.50 (on sale at Kroger, 10 for $10)
  Spices - on hand/negligible 

 Total: $3! ($3.50 if you want to head up a little bit of pizza sauce to dip it in)

 Hope you all have a great day! It's Wednesday, yay!!!

Birthdays and Pictures.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

 We went to Gatlinburg for my birthday last weekend, this is the only picture we ended up with:
Boring! It's not even a pretty picture! Here are a few from last years birthday to make up for leaving the camera in the car: 
Yes, we do have matching hoodies. It's adorable, stop laughing! 
I've actually been this tall for every fall since about 8th grade
Oh yeah, we got engaged too :)  
This year we finally did one of the touristy things I've wanted to do since I moved here. The Ghost Walk of Gatlinburg! It was actually a lot of fun, more historical than spooky which is exactly what I hoped it would be.  

I got a gift card from Mama Sue and Papa Gary (Phillips parents) and wanted to show you what we did!

 We pulled up all of our vegetable plants and replaced them with mums and ivy, I love it! 

Pinterest Part 2 - Garlic Pull-A-Parts!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
   Now I can leave the sweetness of the hot chocolate behind and move on to some savory, garlicky, goodness!

   I had a very specific recipe I wanted to use for these. Then I lost it. I was sure I had pinned it somewhere but it just disappeared! So I went based on what I could remember and made up my own recipe! Please don't judge my pictures too harshly, we only have fluorescent lighting in the kitchen!

1 can of buttermilk biscuits (not the flaky kind!)
1/4 cup of butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup parmesan
Dried Oregano
Dried and Fresh Basil
Minced Garlic.

 Preheat your oven to whatever degree the biscuit package says.
 Take out your muffin or cupcake pan and spray it with oil (I used olive).
 Put your butter and garlic in a microwave safe bowl, heat until melted and you can smell garlic.
 In a small bowl mix the flour, parmesan, and dried herbs together.
 Pop open your can of biscuits and cut/tear each biscuit into 4 pieces.
 One by one roll each piece into a ball and dip it into the butter.
 Roll into the flour/cheese mixture
 Press into the muffin tin.
 Repeat until your muffin tin is full!
 Sprinkle with finely chopped fresh basil.
 Bake until golden brown, I think it took around 8 minutes  

These were pretty much amazing! They were also super easy to make as well, we will definitely be using this recipe again!

Pinterest! Part 1 - Hot Chocolate!

  On Monday night I decided to try my hand at 2 pinterest recipes that I'd had my eye on for awhile. I was a little chilly which means it's perfect weather for Hot Chocolate right???

Stolen from: Honey and Fitz

   It's super easy to make in a crock pot, just dump in 2 cups of chocolate chips, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1.5 cups of half and half, 6 cups of milk, and vanilla. Turn on your crock pot and away you go! If only it were that simple...

  Apparently I have a much smaller crock pot than the gal who made this recipe. Unfortunately I didn't find that out until it was time to add the milk and everything else was already in the pot ready to go. Can't turn back now! So the mister and I sat down and watched some Firefly to wait for the chocolate to melt. We waited...and waited...and waited. The recipe said 35-45 minutes, it was more like 2 hours. When it was finally done I ladled it out and gave it to Phillip without tasting it first. Bad idea. Because I wasn't able to add all of the milk the recipe called for it was like drinking sludge.

    So I cut the cup with milk, heated it in the microwave and the results were much better!! I really thought this was going to end up being a Pinterest fail but it was a win after all! I dumped in the rest of the milk and stashed it in the fridge overnight, took it to work the next day and reheated it in the office. It got a thumbs up from everyone!

    Final verdict: This recipe is awesome if you have a big crock pot and have lots of people to give it to. Otherwise I would suggest cutting the recipe in half.

    I'm going to post the second Pinterest project in a new post, it's for garlic knots and something about hot chocolate and garlic knots together makes me a little queasy!!

Get Paid for Cleaning Your House!

Monday, September 24, 2012
I mailed out this package today: 

 When Phillip and I put all of our stuff together we realized we had a lot of it. Apparently during our teenage years we amassed quite the CD collections. It was kind of cute to find out we had a lot of duplicates. I was really attached to my collection in high school, I would organize them at least once/week and every allowance pretty much went to buying new ones. Now several years later here we are with Pandora and Spotify. I haven't really touched my CDs in years except to move them from one place to another.

 We also amassed quite a few DVDs that we didn't watch very often. So we toted them all off to our yard sale and sold what we could. Then we brought the rest home. Most of my CDs went untouched by our yardsale patrons, apparently no one listens to Hanson or Clay Aiken. *shrug* I'm sorry you're not as awesome as me.

 So last night I did what I hoped I'd be able to avoid. I went through the pile and checked out the Amazon.com trade-in program. I entered every. single. one. individually. It was a pretty slow process and there were quite a few items that they were not accepting at this time. What you see in the picture above is the stuff they accepted. So what was our payoff?
 $49.50 in Amazon credits! 
 This works out well because we're crafting some Christmas gifts and were planning on buying the supplies from Amazon anyway! Also the Amazon program offers free shipping, you can choose how you want to ship it (UPS, USPS, or FedEx) and print a prepaid label, tape it on an you're ready to go!

 I'm going to try to sell the rest of the CDs to secondspin.com, they don't pay as well as Amazon and you have to wait to be reimbursed for shipping but I'm going to see if it's worth it. If it isn't they're going to Habitat ReStore. 

Now I'm off to make dinner! Trying a new recipe from Pinterest tonight, we'll see how it goes! 

Our Little Garden

Sunday, September 23, 2012
   Did you know that if you ask nicely you can get away with an awful lot? Also it helps if you pay your rent on time and bake treats to take the ladies in your apartment office. Plus have an obnoxiously adorable name makes you memorable and they think of you as "that sweet couple that just got married."

  I digress. Back in the spring before we became Mr. and Mrs. T (and started pitying fools together), Phillip decided he'd like to start a gardening project. We set a budget of $50 for plants and various materials we would need and set off the the rental office to ask for permission. Since I'd be moving into his apartment after we got married we asked to put by his building. We explained a layout of what we wanted to do and they called us on Monday with the go ahead.

 So off we trekked to Lowe's, we really knew nothing about when to plant stuff. We just assumed "if it's for sale it must be time to plant it!" This is actually not true. I suppose it's like "Hey it's September, Wal-Mart has Christmas trees for sale, we should put one up!" We had 2 frosts after planting our little patch but they somehow survived.
So cute!
We decided to plant tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, basil, and mint. Everything has flourished except for the strawberries, our basil even started dropping seeds and making new plants. I'm not sure if this little adventure saved us any money but we haven't bought tomatoes or peppers all summer! We've also had plenty to share with friends.  Next year we probably won't plant so much, and will definitely put our tomato plants in cages because they got a little unruly.
This is what happens when your plants become teenagers, partying it up in the garden. For shame. 
 We have a few green tomatoes left but after they either burn or turn I think I'm going to clear them out and consider them finished. They're so ugly!!

  Once we get a house we're hoping to do a bigger garden

First Day of Fall!

Saturday, September 22, 2012
We celebrated our first day of fall by heading to the zoo! In Missouri we always went to the St. Louis Zoo so I would say I'm pretty darn spoiled. I took some pictures to share with you guys, enjoy!
This guy was waaay bigger than anything we've encountered biking in  the mountains! Thanks goodness! 

Just in case the raccoons have learned to read...
I'm pretty sure this guy would have let me hold him if I had some food for him!
Phillip is going to kill me for posting this. Shhh don't tell him I did it! :)

The reptile enclosures were awful , it didn't even look like there was any way for the snakes to stretch or move around. I did have to stifle a giggle when a lady next to me looked at the corn snake and turned to her husband "it's pretty but definitely deadly". No...it's not. Many people keep them as pets, but that baby copperhead that you're calling cute? Yeah, that one's actually dangerous.  

We enjoyed ourselves for fairly little cost. I bought our tickets at Kroger for BOGO $20 plus we paid $5 for parking. Did you know the St. Louis Zoo larger with better exhibits and it's free? I mentioned I was spoiled right?

Autumn Air & Envelopes!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
 Yeah so Autumn Air and Envelopes really have nothing to do with one another, they're not even an alliteration, but we'll let that slide. The weather has been really awesome here (minus the past 2 days of constant rain and flash flooding!) here are a couple of picture of the sunrise from Saturday morning, we were on our way to finish setting up our yard sale:
A few days later that field flooded and became a pond. The geese were swimming, so cute! 
And that's why we call them the Smokies :) 

 It's nice to come home and open up the back door and all of the windows! It just feels so good outside! I work in a fish bowl and if we crane our necks we can see outside, today it was very difficult for me to fight the urge to go lie in the grass somewhere on campus.

  Enough gushing about my favorite season...on to the envelopes!!
 An integral part of using the Financial Peace University play is paying cash for certain items in your budget. We've been doing this for awhile and used ugly bank envelopes that got grimy and fell apart, when we got our FPU kit in the mail it came with an envelope system, but they're not pretty at all! So I took matters into my own hands. I took my scrapbook paper into the office one day and had an arts and crafts session. Here is the end result!
I used a tutorial found here
   By using cash for groceries and our spending money we don't have so many miscellaneous things on our bank statement which makes it easier to go through at the end of the month to see how we need to edit the budget for the following month. I am finding that having to spend cash for things I want really does make me think twice about purchases. I know that once I break a twenty it's as good as gone! When using the debit card I was nowhere near as disciplined and spent way more than I intended to!

  Have you used the envelope system? Has it worked for you?

I smell like feet...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
I kind of feel like this: 

And I'm pretty sure I smell like this:

I decided to ride my bike to work today! Well I rode my bike halfway to work today (4.4 miles each way). I also didn't think very much about packing my backpack this morning. My work flats smell like feet (because that's what I put in them), I stuffed those and my cardigan down in the backpack. So when I got to work guess what else smelled like feet? My happy pink cardigan :( I wore it anyway, it's really cold in our office! 

I didn't so much enjoy the ride to work, it's mostly uphill and it took about 45 minutes on my 1-speed cruiser. The ride back to my car was much better, it still took about 35 minutes but I was going at a pretty slow/meandering pace. I also stopped for about 5 minutes to watch a juvenile Great Blue Heron. 

I added it up and if I were to do this 5 days/week it would save $8/week on gas which adds up to over $300/year. Not a whole lot but I'd also get my exercise in and enjoy this beautiful fall weather we've been blessed with this week! I also know that I won't be able to keep it up because I'm a wimp and I don't do cold well but I think I'll enjoy this while it lasts!

Biking also helps out my hip, I have developmental dysplasia of the hip (yes like dogs get) meaning my acetabulum is too shallow for the head of my femur to fit properly. I'm a little gimpy, and I can't run/walk long distances at all without feeling like my leg is going to fall off but biking makes it feel better! 

Today I made crockpot potato soup from this recipe, I've not calculated the cost but it's cheap and will probably feed us for awhile.

I hope you're enjoying this awesome weather! I'm going to go sit outside and eat my soup!

$3.98 Dinner for 2 - Pesto Chicken Paninis/Baked Fries

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
In an effort to get into the habit of cooking at home instead of opting for convenience, I've decided to start breaking our meals down into cost of the meal or cost/serving in hopes that seeing how cheap it is to cook for ourselves rather than to go out and eat. For example tonight our dinner cost $3.98, if we were to go out it usually costs at least that much for one of us.

This is a variation of this recipe from www.bunsinmyoven.com
Makes: 5 sandwiches + Oven fries

You'll need:
   1 boneless skinless chicken breast ($1.94)/cooked and shredded
   1/2 loaf of French Bread ($.84)
   1 potato ($.45)
   2 tbsp Pesto ($.40)
   1 cup of cheese ($.35 - Still using the 5lb bag I bought last month!)

From your Cabinet:
  Dash of Oregano/Basil/Garlic Powder
  Olive Oil

  Preheat oven to 300 degrees, drizzle oil over cookie sheet. Slice potato into whatever size you'd like. Sprinkle with herbs and place in the oven. Cook until golden brown.

  Slice French bread into 10 slices.
  Spread butter onto on side of the bread and place onto preheated griddle.
  Spread pesto on the inside, layer with some of the shredded chicken and cheese.
  Place second slice of buttered bread on top. Grill until both sides are brown.

 Total Cost = $3.98

 They ended up being pretty tasty! If you try them out let me know if you like them!

These were pretty good and we had some chicken leftover that I'll be using for fajitas later this week.

Progresso Recipe Starter - Final Review

Monday, September 10, 2012

I used the Progresso Parmesan Basil Recipe Starter to make chicken similar to this recipe. If you remember my last post about shopping at UGO I mentioned that I picked up some Kraft Parmesan Seasoning packets. I used that on this recipe as well.

Here's what I ended up doing:

1 boneless skinless chicken breast/halved 
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 packet of Kraft Parmesan Seasonings - Tuscan Herb
1 can of Progresso Parmesan Basil Recipe Starter (Divided)

Pour about 1/4 of the can of the recipe starter into a shallow bowl.
Sprinkle parmesan seasonings into a second shallow bowl. 

Heat olive oil in your skillet on medium heat. 
Coat the chicken breasts in the recipe starter then roll in the parmesan seasoning. 
Place chicken in preheated skillet. 
Cook until seasoning has browned and chicken is no longer pink. 

While you're cooking your chicken bring a pot of water to boil and add your noodles. Use the remainder of the Recipe Starter as sauce for your noodles. We made baked sweet potato fries to go along with this also.

The Verdict:
   We both liked the chicken a lot, the  starter plus the parmesan coating seemed to make it really moist and added a lot of flavor. I didn't really like the starter as a sauce for the noodles, it's pretty thin tastes a little bland, I prefer mixing a bit of alfredo sauce with pesto. 

Would I buy this product?
  Possibly, some of their recipes using the other flavors of starters look pretty good so I might end up trying them out. 

 I'm looking forward to my next BzzAgent Campaign! 

New BzzAgent Campaign! {Glade!}

Saturday, September 8, 2012

    So I still haven't used that can of Progresso, it is destined to become lunch tomorrow.  I ended up cooking quick dinners last week instead. So I'm going to put that aside and move forward!

Instead of sending actual products for this campaign I received a booklet with a voucher for a free oil diffuser and a free spray starter kit. I had looked for these products before at WalMart but they only had the pineapple mangosteen scent, I already had this in our office at home and wanted something different. I decided to look for them at Kroger and I picked up the diffuser in the Juniper Berry and Lavender scent and the spray in Cotton & Italian Mandarin.

 The oil diffuser is $5.99 at WalMart and $8.49 at Kroger.
 I believe the sprays at Walmart were $2.99 and they were around $4.99 at Kroger.

Kroger was also running a promotion on the products, buy 1 Glade Expressions product and get $2 off your next order. Even though I had the BzzAgent coupon that made these free I still got coupons worth $4 off my next purchase. Pretty sweet deal!

   I tried out the spray as soon as I got home from the store and I love it! I've always been a fan of their linen scent but this wasn't as overwhelming. You really can't smell the mandarin but it's a very nice light scent. It seemed to stick around for awhile too.I wish I had been able to get the oil diffuser in this scent.

 I took the diffuser to work on Thursday, it was too strong of a smell for my tiny office. I really couldn't smell any of the lavender. We decided if it didn't calm down by Friday we were kicking it out. When I came in on Friday morning I expected it to still smell super strong...but I couldn't smell it at all. The box says it's supposed to last 30 days so I'm not sure if my nose was just accustomed to it or if it really did fade so quickly. Not really impressed with this product at all, the scent was just too overpowering, one of my student workers compared the scent to a fresh urinal cake, I really can't comment on that but I'll take his word for it!!

  It would be nice if the Cotton and Italian Mandarin were available in the scented oil warmers. I find that I forget to use the sprays and I really didn't care for the diffuser. I'll probably just stick with their scented oil warmer refills instead. If you have some coupons that make these product free they're worth a shot but otherwise I would save your money and use the warmers instead. They are less expensive and the scent lasts  a long time. If you're looking for a really nice fall smell I recommend Cashmere Woods, it's my absolute favorite!

 What's your favorite way to make your house smell pretty?


Friday, September 7, 2012
    Last week I spent some time making a pretty adorable chart of our loan disbursements from smallest to largest. Today we get to cross one off!

   Phillip and I sat down and looked everything over and submitted an online payment to FedLoan servicing to pay off my smallest student loan. This morning they took it out of our account, I should recieve a paid in full letter in about 30 days!
  Tomorrow we're sending off a check to WellsFargo to pay off one of Phillips loan disbursements. I hate that we can't do an online payment because I feel like mailing in a check is going to take forever to process. So we'll get to cross off another one soon!

 Between those 2 payments we will have paid off $3600! Pretty exciting stuff :) This frees up $75 a month from the minimum payments to put towards our disbursement which should take less than 2 months to pay off. It feels pretty good to see some progress made!

New BzzAgent Campaign! Progresso Recipe Starters

Monday, September 3, 2012

BzzAgent is a website where you can sign up to receive invitations to try new products. This month I've received invite to 2 promotions, I'm pretty excited about this one!

 As I've shared before, I love getting cool stuff in the mail! I'm excited that my newest BzzAgent materials arrived today.

This is a new product from Progresso called Recipe Startes Cooking Sauce. 
The sauces come in 5 different flavors:
      Creamy Parmesan Basil
      Creamy Three Cheese
      Portabella Mushroom
      Roasted Garlic
      Fire Roasted Tomato

The one I'll be trying this week is Creamy Parmesan Basil. You can find lots of recipes. The info I received states the suggested retail price to be $2.49 and they can be found in the soup aisle. These are available at Kroger. You can find lots of tasty recipes using the starters here. I think I'm going to try this recipe for Crispy Garlic-Parmesan Chicken. It looks pretty easy and We'll have enough leftovers for Phillip to take some to work for his lunch! Keep an eye out for a follow up post!

 If you'd like to try new products for free head on over to www.bzzagent.com and sign up! If there is a referral option please tell them that sunnybunny86 sent you :)

 Have fun!

Mug Swap!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012
 This post is a little late because Phillip had our camera with him while he was out of town last week. I can finally share the cute mug that came in the mail!

The card was absolutely adorable! My mug came from Sara over at

Now for the mug!

So cute! I love Paisley print, this color scheme is just so cheerful! 
I also received another surprise:
I saved it in the proper direction, not sure what's going on!

I love fancy/local coffees! So excited to try these!
Her blog has some awesome cupcake recipes! Head on over there for some sweet inspiration, her Beach Cupcakes are completely adorable! I can't wait to try some of her recipes! 

Breaking up is hard to do...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012
  Dear Stuff,
      I'm sorry, you have to go. This isn't working out anymore. I don't have time for you and you're impossible to organize. You see, the less of you that sticks around the faster I'll be able to clean and I'll be able to actually find what I'm looking for because you haven't been piled on top of it. You in my desk, closets, dresser, every time I turn around there you are. I really need some space, you're smothering. If I don't stop this now we're going to end up on Hoarders and I really don't want to embarrass you. Trust me this is for the best.
                       <3 Sunny

I like stuff. You see in my family we're "collectors". When I was little I collected rocks, then Barbies and their accessories, then Beatles and Smiley Face stuff. I went through many phases of collecting things. I'm pretty sure my parents still have a bucket of rocks in the basement from when I was 5.

When you combine 2 households your stuff seems to multiply. Right now our office is in shambles because we're getting ready to have a yard sale. This weekend we are going to be doing some deep cleaning/purging.

 Here are the rules for clearing things out, stuff is getting kicked out if:

   1. If we forgot it existed.
   2. If we have multiples.
   3. If we haven't used it in the last 6 months.
   4. Clothing - if it's a summer item but it hasn't been used this season it goes.

We're separating into 2 piles to begin with:
   1. Yard Sale
   2. Garbage

Anything that is not media that doesn't sell in the yard sale is going to the Habitat store. Media items will be sold via secondspin.com/amazon.com. All $$ from items sold will be thrown at our student loans. 2 birds, 1 stone. Genius!

After the purging of unnecessary things then we will organize what's left. I'm pretty excited about that!

 Do you have any fabulous organizing tips?

Inedible Experiment #2/Powdered Laundry Detergent

Thursday, August 23, 2012
 I really wanted to wait until I ran out of Gain before I bought the supplies for the homemade soap but I went to Wal-Mart today and decided to go ahead and get the stuff.

Borax: $3.38
Super Washing Powder: $3.24
Fels-Naptha Soap: $.97
Total Cost: $7.59

 What I didn't realize was that it makes a really small batch. For 1 Fels-Naptha soap you use 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of washing powder. I also added some Purex Crystals for scent.

The Borax has 9.5 cups in the 76oz box so it costs $.35/cup.

 The Super Washing Soda has 6.8 cups costing $.51/cup.

 One batch of detergent costs approx: $1.83. Using 2 tbsp per load it works out to about $.07/load.

The Gain detergent I usually buy costs $15 for 96 loads which ends up being nearly $.16/load. I typically make it last 192 loads because I use half the recommended amount. When you do that it works out to be $.07. I'm not sure this laundry detergent will save us any money but I just had to try it .

Shopping at the United Grocery Outlet:Tips

Saturday, August 18, 2012

So UGO is like Big Lots but for food. At least that's how I've explained it to my mom. Which means their stuff is typically a really random assortment but there are some things you can always count on them to have like bread and a variety of dry goods like pasta, oatmeal, and spices. There are a few things you should watch for because you don't want to waste money and buy stuff that you didn't realize would spoil the next day. Here's what I've learned so far:

Watch the expiration dates

 For example: the cheese and butter had a sell by date of 8/16/12. Since they 'expired' that day they were marked down quite a bit. As soon as I brought them home I wrapped the butter in freezer paper and separated the cheese into freezer bags  and popped all of it into the freezer. The cheese will last us a little more than 5 weeks so I put it into 5 freezer bags, I can just take one out each week. The butter will last us quite a bit longer. the only problem is it's a solid pound rather than sticks so we'll have to cut it up to put in our butter dish. 

Know how much things cost at a regular store.

 Sometimes they raise the prices on name brand items and they are actually a little more expensive than you would regularly buy. For example; their Special K cereal was marked to $2.99 but the Great Value brand at Wal-Mart is only $2.50. Their popcorn and nuts are the same price or higher as a regular store also. 

Pass on most of the snacks. 

The main reason I went here in the first place was to grab some snacks for this weekend. They are way overpriced. Phillip really wanted some Doritos, at UGO they were $3.99/bag. I knew that was really expensive so I ran by Kroger on my way home and grabbed the same bag for $2.38 on sale.

Look at the surrounding items.

For some reason things are marked at different prices even if they're the exact same item. The $1.00 Kraft Parmesan seasonings were sitting next to another box of the same seasonings marked for $1.29. Same brand/flavor/expiration date.

  If you're wondering if there's a UGO near you, check out www.myugo.com/locations

  Have a great weekend! 

What can you get for $20?

Friday, August 17, 2012
  Yesterday I ran into UGO after work to grab some snacks for our little weekend mini vacation. Their snacks were way overpriced but I did manage to snag some good deals on items we like but are usually more expensive than we want to pay. What did I bring home?

     Not the healthiest grouping of groceries but I don't trust their produce/meat. Here's the rundown:

  Red Gold Salsa: $.69 (x4)
  Philadelphia Cream Cheese Indulgence: $.59(x3)
  Breakstone's Cottage Cheese: $1.00
  Kellogg's Big Mini Wheats: $1.44
  Kraft Parmesan Seasoning Blends: $1.00 (x3)
  Land O'Lakes Butter Blend: $.79 (x3)
  Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread $1.29
  Sara Lee Dinner Rolls $1.29
  Land O'Lakes Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese 5lb $6.99
  Total: $21.91

  Here is what regular stores charge for those same items:
 Salsa: $1.49 (we usually buy the Kroger Brand)
 Philadelphia Cream Cheese Indulgence: $2.48
 Breakstone's Cottage Cheese: ? No clue
 Kellogg's Big Mini Wheats: $3.99
 Kraft Seasoning Blends: $1.99
 Butter: $2/lb
 Bread and Dinner Rolls: ? We usually don't buy that brand but I know Walmart has wheat bread for like   $1.99
 Cheese: We usually buy our cheese from Aldi @ $1.79/8oz which works out to $3.58/lb
 Total: $49.21

 Total Savings: $27.30 

 Not too shabby! Later I'll be posting some tips on keeping your eye out for a good deal and avoiding the things they tend to overprice.

Happy Friday!