Bare Bones Budget

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
 <random tangential* story>  I bought a pair of shoes from someone on Facebook (did you know Facebook had buy/sell/trade groups now? They're pretty fabulous). Tonight I met the girl I purchased them from in a parking lot (no it's safe, I promise...) she texted me "I'm in a white Lexus". I was immediately aware of what my car looks like. I don't often have those moments of feeling like an awkward middle schooler again, being immediately embarrassed of everything about yourself. Umm...I'll be in a rusty 20 year old Nissan with prominent hail damage that someone tried to buff out. Oh and I look like a hoarder/homeless person who lives in my car because I'm stage managing a show right now and we don't have permanent rehearsal space. So there are boxed of random props in my trunk and backseat. Most of those props are suitcases. I know I've used this illustration here before but it's just fitting for so many things! I pretty much felt like this:

Do you need a teapot? How about a pitcher?

How silly we are to be embarrassed by what we have/don't have. I'm perfectly happy with my little clunker, she's paid for and gets me from point A to point B. </random tangential* story>

  *Tangential is a real word, I looked it up.

Now back to the post I actually meant to write. One of our New Year's resolutions is to go back to a pretty bare bones budget in order to be able to pay even more on our student loans. I use the Gazelle Budget on the Dave Ramsey website to make our monthly budgets. He gives the percentage that ideally should go towards each category (basically to make sure you aren't spending 75% of your income on one category!).

 I thought it might be fun to pull up a side-by-side and compare our percentages to the recommended percentage. The budget will end up changing each month throughout the year depending on dentist appointments, car repairs, etc. This is just our basic budget. For the months that it varies we will put less towards our student loans and more to other categories.

 There are a few other categories in the outline that we don't build into our regular budget (clothing, car repairs, etc). If we have a car issue we put money towards it instead of putting so much toward the student loans but still paying the minimums. For clothing we just plan that for the next month, we don't really have clothing "emergencies", that just seems ridiculous.

So if we can stick to this we'll be living on about 40% of our income, I think that's pretty awesome. That means the student loans will go away quickly and we'll get to go to Ireland! That's our "heck yes we're out of debt, we are awesome!" reward. Trust me, we'll have earned it.

Good night!

Drink your fruits and vegetables...wait what?

Saturday, January 19, 2013
     Yesterday was a snow day, whoot! We decided to be productive, that lasted all of maybe 3 hours. Then we got sucked in by a couple of documentaries.

      Remember how I mentioned I wanted to eat more vegetables? Also how I mentioned I absolutely hate vegetables? Yesterday we decided we needed a juicer. Typically we don't follow through on our whims but this time we headed to Wal-Mart and picked up this juice extractor. We had a $30 gift card that Phillip had from Christmas so in theory it was only $20, at least that's what I'm telling myself.  We also loaded up on some fruits and veggies.

     Sometimes we don't like to read directions, we just throw ourselves full steam ahead and see what happens. That's probably not the best thing to do with making up juice recipes. Phillip's first attempt tasted an awful lot like grass. If you held your nose it wasn't too bad. He used broccoli, strawberries, and apple. Mine was a little better. I tried spinach, strawberries, celery, and apple.

    Last night after rehearsal we made one with celery, spinach, blood orange, and apples. It was kind of gross so we added some pineapple, that perked it up some.

   The one I made this morning is really yummy. 2 handfuls of baby carrots, 2 handfuls of spinach, an apple, 2 strawberries. I don't even have to hold my nose to drink it!

    We're using a lot of fruit right now, mostly to mask the taste of those detestable vegetables. Once we get used to it we're going to try to flip that so that it's mostly veggies with a little fruit thrown in for sweetness. Did you know that it gets frothy? That kind of grosses me out a little bit.

  One thing I've learned is that if I just hold my nose I can deal with it. It made me instantly think of my grandma, apparently when I was little and had to take medicine I thought you had to be "held down" so when it was time I'd say "hold me down grandma! Hold me down!" so she would plug my nose while I took the icky stuff.

   Have any good recipes or tips? I'd love to hear them!

Update: Acts of Kindness Days 1-3

Thursday, January 17, 2013

   I know I said I probably wouldn't blog about all of them but here's a short update from the first 3 days. I feel awkward posting what I've done because I don't want to come off as boastful or anything. I kind of look at this as a way to keep myself accountable and actually do these things which are out of my comfort zone!

  The first day (Tuesday) I couldn't find anyone to help. Is that not the silliest thing ever? I was super nice to my customers but I don't really count that. The only thing that might count is that when we woke up it was pretty chilly in the apartment so I put Phillip's clothes and towel in the dryer while he took a shower so they would be toasty. I'm not sure that counts so I'll probably either add a day on to the end or do 2 in one day.

 Wednesday I had to run to Kroger for a few things on my lunch break. I hadn't spent my fun money for the week yet so I decided to get a Kroger gift card and put it on someones windshield. Well it was raining, it's been raining since Sunday. So I just put a little "Have a nice day!" note on it and left it in the kid carrying part of the buggy (that's a shopping cart to my friends back home...I've adopted the local "buggy" because it's more fun to say).

 Today the weather decided to outdo's snowing!! You know what I love when it's snowing? Hot chocolate. So I assume everyone else does too. I picked one of the buildings in our complex and took over a box of hot chocolate for each of the 4 apartments. I dropped them on their doorsteps and hurried home.

 I started reading "The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers" yesterday and it's really awesome. I definitely recommend it, it's very inspiring. It goes into how he mixed his background of theology and psychology to create his TV show and make it a comforting environment for children. The author discusses his use of repetitiveness and consistency and how it had such a calming influence for children who may not have the best lives at home. You should go to your library and check it out. Unless we go to the same library...because I have that copy. :) 

 That's enough rambling for now! Have a great evening!

Kindness Begets Kindness, A New Kind of Challenge.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
     Our pastor mentioned something in the Sunday evening service that really hit the nail on the head for me. I don't remember exactly what he said but he brought up how anger is so out of control in our culture right now.

     Some of you know that I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. I've noticed a pattern recently, if I pay too much attention to the news my anxiety is intensified. Every time I hear of another shooting or attempted shooting it makes me want to crawl inside my safe little apartment and never leave. One quote that circulated after the Sandy Hook shooting started to help me see things differently.
 “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

   I'm  realizing (though it's been a struggle) that I have no control over what happens around me, so there is no point in worrying about it. However, I do have control over how I impact others. I've decided to challenge myself to do 30 random acts of kindness in 30 days. I may not blog about all of them, that would probably get boring for you guys. I'm going to try my best to get them done in 30 days but since I'm typically going straight from work to rehearsals I don't run into many random people! If it takes a little longer that's okay, I hope to keep doing it even after the 30 days are over. I think it's important to step outside of ourselves and serve others. 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35


I think I'm an old lady...

Thursday, January 10, 2013
 It might be the weather, but I feel like a little old lady sometimes. I'm pretty sure I'm not normal for someone of my age.

I feel like an adorable little old lady, but you know still old...

  I babysat 3 nights last week. When I was in college I did this 2 or 3 times/month and now I don't know how I managed it! I also had homework to do after the kids went to bed and hoped the parents would stay out until midnight or later (bigger paycheck!) and now my mindset is like "does it really take 4 hours to eat dinner?"

  I'm not really good at going to see movies anymore. They're loud, and really bright causes a bit of sensory overload. We saw Les Mis last week and it was a beautiful movie but I always forget that I hate going to the movies until we're actually there, then it's like...hmm yeah I'm ready to go home. I'm thinking the reason I hate action movies and fall asleep while watching them is because  my brain is like, "whoa Sunny, that's an awful lot going on and I can't keep up, it's nap time!" I'd much rather curl up on the couch with some seasons of Gilmore Girls or The Big Bang Theory.

   I stage managed at least 1 show/year in college. I started rehearsals this week for a new show, I'm really excited and it's going to be tons of fun but man..I'm pooped! In college it was pretty common for me to do rehearsal til 10 and then head to the Sign Language labs until 1 or 2 recording videos for classes or working on thesis. This is the first show I've done since we've gotten married (read: lazy and in a routine). We just started rehearsals this week and it's already shaping up to be a pretty hilarious show.

 I'll stop whining now. I'm sorry :)

Free Bates!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013
  We get less than 10 channels from our rabbit ear antenna. 1 of those is Jewelry TV, 3 of them are Daystar "Give us your money and God will make you rich like me!" channels. That leaves regular 4 local stations that we rarely watch, a DIY type station and our favorite, PBS. We're pretty darn stoked that Season 3 of Downton Abbey premieres tonight.

  So much so that...
This one is pretty cute too
And here's to hoping this works out

Cooking from Scratch

Thursday, January 3, 2013
  Last weekend we had a chance to go visit Phillip's cousins, aunt, and uncle. We played cards and had a lot of fun. Phillip didn't grow up around his extended family so we sometimes forget that he actually has cousins who live about an hour away from us!

  We made plans to go to an Amish market but Phillip was tuckered out so I went with his aunt and cousin. It turned out to be not quite as Amish as I thought it would be but still a really good trip! I brought home some wheat flour, wheat germ, raw sugar, and spices. Their prices were pretty inexpensive and from what we have used so far they seem to be a very good quality. I couldn't wait to use them! We had some friends come over for New Year's so I decided to try out some new recipes on them.

 I usually make our own pizza crusts with white flour but I decided to try this recipe which calls for some whole wheat and white flour. I added raw sugar instead of white sugar and also added some rosemary, oregano, basil, and Parmesan into the dough. It turned out pretty well but it did not taste good reheated! Yuck!

When I go home to visit, my cousin Gina usually requests a batch of soft pretzels. I decided to try it out with some whole wheat flour because it was kind of like having a new toy. I had the mindset of "I'm going to use this on EVERYTHING!!!" (I'm having the same problem with the wheat germ too).  

 For these I used this recipe, I used 1 cup of bread flour, 1 cup of wheat flour, and 1.5 cups of white flour. They turned out quite a bit more dense than usual. Now it occurs to me that this was a different recipe than I typically use. They were kind of spongy, I also used real butter to coat them instead of margarine and it didn't stay melted, it got kind of goopy. I think I'll stick to making these with all white flour. 

 The next morning I made some whole wheat blueberry pancakes and those turned out really well. This recipe is a keeper! 

  Have you tried any new recipes or twists on old favorites recently?

Christmas Recap

Tuesday, January 1, 2013
   This year we did something different and decided to make the majority of our Christmas gifts. I didn't want to share them before in case the recipient should see this :)

 These mugs were really fun to make, they went to Phillips siblings and their spouses. Michael's didn't have the pen I initially saw on Pinterest but Martha Stewart has a line of glass/porcelain paints that worked really well. I found the font I wanted, made a pattern, transferred it to the mug and painted it in. Then you bake them in the oven to set the paint and they are good go to! They're even dishwasher safe!

 Next I tried my hand at painting;

 Now I didn't say I painted well I just said I tried it! My newest baby cousin has a brown/pink owl themed nursery, the outcome wasn't too terrible but not what I had imagined. 

  These didn't exactly turned out as I had imagined either but I thought they were pretty cute. I also knitted them fuzzy scarves but forgot to take a picture of those.
   Everyone also got a bottle of vanilla extract, by far the easiest gift to make! Split vanilla beans and toss them into a bottle of vodka, shake every few days for 3 months and you have vanilla extract! I was trying to calculate how much vodka I needed so I'm sure I looked pretty silly standing in front of a wall of vodka with a calculator.

  I also made candy tins for the men in our families but didn't snap a picture of those. They were full of toffee, caramel truffles, potato candy, cheese straws, and rice krispy treats. Our nieces were really unsure of the potato candy but it's something my mom and grandma have always made so I think it's up to me to keep up the tradition! I looked into the origin a little bit and found out that it was a common candy during the Depression since potatoes and peanuts were able to survive the dust bowl and powdered sugar was inexpensive.

  I also re-purposed some mason jars from our wedding and made and a Country Oatmeal Cookie jar mix, I think those turned out really cute.

  Did you receive any handmade gifts this year?