Archive for the 'Frugal Living' Category


Getting Organized

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that life was getting crazy, but in a good way. Funny, but my household runs so much better when we are fully engulfed in activities and chaos. That being said, there are a few things that really do seem to help make life run a little smoother and there are a few things that I am considering adding to my organizational systems moving forward.

Current Systems:

Dry Erase Boards: I currently have two. One which has columns for each of us and rows for each day so that we can list our activities. The other is a to do board which I put chores and notes to the kids (their favorite-sarcasm, totally)

Google: I love my Google Calendar which I have two that are intertwined. One for work which is attached to scheduling software and the other which is for family/kid stuff. My other favorite Google app-Keep. I can create lists for EVERYTHING. Groceries? Homework? Errands? Karaoke songs? Gift ideas? Yep, chances are I have a list going.

Other: I am a creature of habit. Some things are just accepted in our house. Tuesday nights, we watch tv and I do laundry. Wednesday nights, we put cans out for Thursday pick up. Sundays, we play catch up.

New Introductions:

Car Organizer: I got a new car a couple of weeks ago and have just started to realize the lack of storage space in the console. I spend a lot of time in my car during the school year waiting on kids and doing homework. I am looking for an organizer that I can keep post-its, highlighters, pens, snacks, my coloring book and pencils-basically everything a three year old needs on a road trip because I am that mom.

An old school planner: I purchased an old school paper planner a week or two ago. Honestly, even with my current systems, I felt like I was floundering. There is something great about being able to write stuff down and mark things off. Not sure I am not in organization overkill, but giving it a try. My girls both got new planners, too.

Stocking my work lunch room: Trying this for the first time this week. I purchased my sodas (yeah, I should quit), frozen lunches, oatmeal, and snacks when I went shopping over the weekend. Now, I am not having to run out and take time away from my desk and I should save a bit-a winning situation.

Other good ideas that might eventually be implemented:

Planning outfits: I should be that girl. I am not. My mornings would run so much smoother. I might get there eventually.

Keeping a packed gym bag: This could easily happen. This should easily happen. It does from time to time, but I think if I kept one ready to go, I would sneak a workout in now and then during down times.

So that is where I am at the moment-in the midst of chaos, loving it, but preparing for when it gets worse or I just am not feeling it quite as much. Any ideas on other things I can do to prepare and keep life running smooth? What works for you?


Resolution Time!

It is finally a New Year and, of course, that means it is time for resolutions. It has been a while since I took a bit of time to write, so I figured I would document my goals and what I am doing now to reach them.

I guess I will actually start with what I am doing to keep track of my goals. I am starting here because I am super excited over my recent discovery of Google Keep. This app allows you to create lists and have them accessible on the computer and phone. I use the app for everything. I keep every day errand lists, grocery lists, lists of projects for around the house, big ticket purchases that I want to keep an eye out for, and now my resolutions. I figure if it is somewhere I see every day I am less likely to forget and have goals go to the wayside. I can mark things off as they are accomplished to which I LOVE. My other reminder is old school. I have stuck notes to myself on sticky notes to my computer at work for both my work goals and personal.

So what are my goals? It is a very random mix this year….
*Cut out soda
*Complete a Get Fit Challenge that is being offered at my school
*Complete a 100 mile/100 day challenge
*Participate in a Color Run
*Lose 50 lbs.
*Complete camper renovations
*Get camper legal for the road and learn to drive hauling
*Save money to be able to set up camp for the summer
*Pay off credit cards
*Refinance house
*Complete Associates Degree-walk in May!
*Start working towards Bachelors Degree
*Begin working towards work certification
*Develop old film

As you can see, this is a very random list. Luckily, however, I think it is very doable. I am two classes away from my Associate’s degree and have my final semester starting next week. I have already been accepted to a local University and plan to start my Bachelor’s in the fall. I thought about starting this summer, but really want to enjoy some time with my kids.

This summer should be fun! I hope to complete my camper renovations and have her road ready before I graduate. Then, I want her set up so that we can head for the hills after I finish a work week. I was working a second job to make this dream a reality, but that fell through. My new Plan B is just to be frugal and do what I can do. The being frugal deal will also help with my accomplishing the goal of paying off my credit cards. I will check into refinancing soon.

The other big goal for me is losing 50 lbs. I have had diet goals and fitness goals before. Heck, we all have. This year though, I feel a little more confident about it. I signed up for the 100 mile/100 day challenge being offered through our local parks and rec with a couple of friends. We are each doing it individually, but knowing they are doing it too helps. My college is doing a Get Fit Challenge which looked intriguing; I start that adventure next week and can win prizes for working out and losing weight. It is a win-win! I have to meet certain criteria to win such as a minimum number of work outs, weekly weigh ins, etc. It should help me to stay motivated. The Color Run is in April; I will sign up for that shortly. My friend is also doing a virtual 5k in February which I will likely do as well.

I purchased a Camel Bak and I am trying to wean myself away from soda. It is so hard! I have also decided to stop buying lunches out. I figure every month that I do not eat out for lunch I can set aside $20 and then, come summer, hopefully I will be at 50 lbs lost. Once I hit that 50 lb goal, the money I have saved will go towards a tattoo. I don’t have any right now, but I really want one!

It seems like a lot, but I am pretty excited and think that everything is going to fall into place nicely. I love having a busy schedule-it keeps me out of trouble! I would love to hear what others do to track their goals-what are some things that work for you? What are you working towards in 2015?


Pictures for Christmas

As I was putting dates on my calendar this week, I realized that I do not have a free Saturday until December 20th. Needless to say, no free Saturdays does not thrill me, especially with the holidays coming up. I decided that I need to get my rear into gear.

In addition to not having a ton of time on my side this year, I also do not have a lot of money. I have too large of a family to just go out and throw caution to the wind. I started debating on what to do and while my Christmas list is far from done, I think I have taken care of a good part of my family just this morning.

A few weeks ago something crazy happened, we were able to get most of our family together. As we have gotten older, it has become quite the chore to get us all in one place. Somehow, with one random family cookout at my house, everyone showed up. Needless to say, my mom was thrilled and we decided to take advantage of the moment. We took pictures.

We were able to take pictures with each of my sibling’s family units with only one nephew missing. We took pictures of all of the siblings together and with my parents and my siblings. No Olin Mill’s for us. Our casual attire backyard photos are as good as we get. I decided that these would be the perfect gifts for each family, my parents, and my grandmother.

Yesterday, on my lunch break, I ventured into Ross where I was able to find boxed frame sets to make a gallery-ten frames for $10! I picked up two, one for myself and one to separate for gifts. I will likely go back for another today to ensure I have enough to give everyone. I figure I will do their individual family and then one with our parents/siblings to each of my siblings. I will give my parents a large picture of them with their kids, and then do a collage frame or gallery for them of each of their kids with their family and maybe sprinkle in a few random cute pics I have of grandkids.

I, personally, love Shutterfly and downloaded the pics onto their site where I was able to designate which sizes I wanted for each photo. I found a coupon code allowing for 30 free 4×6 prints which knocked down the price a little. Bing, bang, boom! My siblings/their spouses have a gift and so do my parents and grandmother. I will likely do more, but I at least have a start towards Christmas and at a reasonable price. I will likely end up with $30 in frames and around $15 in pictures with that covering six gifts; I think $7 a gift is pretty darn awesome!

Now, if only I can get so lucky with my kids’ Christmas gifts….


Homecoming on the Cheap

Back to school time sucks. The supplies, clothes, activities, blah, blah, blah. Usually, with a little planning, I make it through okay. This year has been rough. It has been mainly due to poor planning on my part, but some has been out of my control. Homecoming was one of those things.

Homecoming was almost a month earlier this year than it was last year and it came up on us fast. Despite my attempts to plan, I was really wondering what the heck we were going to do. We had little time to shop with our crazy schedules and then even less money on top of that. Despite all of the odds, I have to say that Homecoming 2014 turned out okay. Here is a quick rundown on how we made it happen.


The Dress
Needless to say, this is one of the most important things when one thinks of homecoming. It can also be one of the most expensive. This year, however, we got lucky and a friend of mine had a couple of bridesmaid dresses that she no longer wanted. One of the dresses fit rather well and with some alterations it looked great! Total cost for the dress: $25 for the alterations.

I am an accessory girl; I spent years working in retail management for an accessory store. I know the value of some great bling. We hit up the mall one Saturday morning with only about an hour to shop. During that time, we managed to score a pair of sparkly shoes for $17. We purchased a card of earrings (at least nine pairs) for around $7 from H&M and got a nice simple, but blingy, necklace from Claire’s for around $10. The shoes and jewelry are all reusable-even if she doesn’t want to, little sister is coming up fast behind her.

Really, I cannot take credit for the hair. My teen searched the internet and found a couple of great ideas. From there, my sister took over. We spent an evening playing with her hair preparing and determining the best style. Then, my sister came over the day of and took over. Gotta love free!

It really is all in who you know! In this case, it was my mom, who was previously a nail tech. While my sister was doing hair, my mom had control over the mani and pedi. Can we say my daughter is a diva?

My daughter did not have a date, so we had to pay for a ticket which was $15. Normally, we would have to pay for dinner, but she went with a group of friends which met and went together. The group met beforehand for pizza and refreshments. They took pictures together saving us from the “professional” pics offered through the school.

In all, Homecoming 2014 cost us less than $100. The kid looked like a million bucks and had a great time which is priceless. I doubt we could have done any better. I can only hope to do so well next time.


Keeping Sane in Chaos

Two posts in a night?! What is that Ornery Dame up to?

Life has been off the hook crazy over the last few weeks and our hectic schedule has got me thinking about my own sanity. It is time for me to make a few changes. Some have already been in the works, but others are new, and some are yet to come.

• I need to free my life of unnecessary drama. Some people make me crazy. Really, it is on me for letting them affect me so negatively, but if I remove myself from the situations, it eliminates some of the crazy. Prime example: I deleted Larry’s ex from my Facebook friends list and already feel better. I deleted people that air out a lot of their drama and I hid people that post political crap that drives me crazy.
• I have asked Larry to move out. We are just not able to blend our families successfully and I am miserable because of it. Things will only get worse the longer we wait; especially with Alvin wanting to live with his father.
• It is time to re-evaluate my spending. This girl has got to get back into a budget! First up, my cell phone bill is off the hook-shopping for new providers this weekend.
• Meal plan! It is amazing how much better I feel when I have a plan for what we will have for dinner daily. Preparing warm up breakfasts is an amazing time saver and keeps me from hearing kids complain about nothing to eat. And, finally, I need to keep lots of snacky things on hand for lunches and, well, snacks.
• Make time for studying! This semester, I am taking two classes. So far, I have worked out the following schedule: I get up early during the week to do my virtual gym class. I read on my lunch breaks and sit down to work out math problems after the kids climb in bed.
• Find ways to vent. Last week, I went out to sing karaoke with one of my oldest and dearest friends. Tonight, I went crazy cheering for our football team. Frankly, it was awesome.
• Blog more. This has been on my mind a while. It is time for some changes. It is time for more posts and more of the real me. Confession time: names have previously been changed to protect the innocent. I originally renamed many of the people in my life: my kids, my boyfriend, his kid, and our families. I am kind of over it. I will not be changing everyone; I prefer not to cause drama with Larry and the ex. But my family and my kids will be the real deal. Added bonus for a somewhat full disclosure; I can post more pics and let you all see more of my real life!

Now is a great time for some of the changes that need to take place. This three day weekend will allow me to catch up around the house, shop, organize, and next week will be a better one.


Making Progress

Love when I feel like things are moving in the right direction. I had the best weekend for getting things accomplished. I know it was only last week that I posted about all of the projects I had going on, and I still have quite a few things that I want to do, but I feel like an update is due given everything that was completed over the weekend.

• I finished the afghan for my new nephew. I forgot to take it when I saw the little booger yesterday, but it is done!
• I got crafty with spray paint and painted some containers for the camper.
• With the kids assistance, we were able to make/freeze 12 Canadian bacon and egg English muffins, a few biscuits with egg and Canadian bacon, and a batch of chocolate chip granola bars
• We switched out Jeanette’s small chest of drawers with a larger one that we had in the attic for more drawer space
• Kids assisted with laundry, ironing, and cleaning of the family room
• And overall straightening and cleaning of the casa (not that anyone can really tell now)

Overall, it was not a bad weekend. Still lots to be done before school starts again, but we are definitely making progress!


Frolic Remodel/Restoration #2

It has been a while since I posted on the progress we are making with Maybelle. Probably because I really did not feel like we were making much. Really, though, I was surprised last night when we finished working on a project and I took a picture and compared the before and after. She is slowly coming along!

After the roof was sealed and the air conditioner put back into place and sealed, we moved on to the front end. The front end was a little scary. The main issue was that the outside panels had pulled apart allowing us to see inside the old girl. And we could see some old yucky wood. On the inside of the same area the leak had damaged the wall.

To get to the boards we needed to replace, we had to remove the inside wall. New boards were added and then Larry was able to slowly ease the panels back into place and reinforce everything. Pretty impressive.

Then, we had to put a new board inside. A curved board. We went with an ugly paneling which is not a big deal since I will have to paint eventually. We measured countless times since it was an odd wall. Once we got the board back inside we were in for a surprise. It was an inch too short on either side. How? We will never know. Rather than starting over, I decided to find a trim that could cover the gap and was able to find a bendy lattice piece that worked at Lowes for next to nothing.

Once the wall was in place, we had to decide what to do with the bunk. While I liked the idea of having the ability to sleep additional people, I decided that the bunk really would not be that functional for us. We took the piece that normally faced out that had a ledge to hold the mattress in place and made it into a shelf and put it back in the place where the bunk would normally go. It is pretty amazing how much it really opened the area up and I do think the shelf will be much more functional for us.

The front end projects have definitely proven to be difficult and taught me that I am not nearly as handy as I ever thought I was. I have become slightly frightened more than once at Larry who I am pretty sure hates me and Maybelle some days. Really, though, I think he has impressed himself with his handy work.

Larry did make sure to mention to me yesterday that my camper will most likely not end up looking like the campers I swoon over online. Really, that is okay. I am looking forward to seeing the finished project and having a camper that meets my individual needs.

Next up, I think we are going to look into getting some professional help. We found as we started poking around that all of my gas lines have been messed with and cut and closed off and who knows what else. The plumbing is kind of in the same boat. Pretty scared of what that mess will cost me. We will rebuild the dining area and such after that is complete since storage tank and heater are underneath the seats normally and lines will need to be run.

In the meantime while I try to prepare myself for the next challenge, I am nesting big time. I found a great picture to put inside and super cute, and cheap, dishes. I am going to have to get crafty soon and make curtains and cushions somehow. I am not great with a needle. I did manage to buy a sewing machine over the weekend-for only $10! Maybe with some luck I can make something cute.

Ultimately, I am hoping to camp in some fashion, with or without gas and water, before the end of camping season. Fingers crossed!



During; tearing up the wall

During; tearing up the wall

After.  New wall and shelf installed.

After. New wall and shelf installed.

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