Thursday, May 21, 2015

How we modified the Dave Ramsey Plan to work for us...

One of the principles of the Dave Ramsey plan is to have a set budget. You also use cash envelopes to make sure you only spend what you have set aside in that category. For more information see: Financial Peace University.

We tried the envelope method, but it never worked for us. It was too time intensive. You had to go to the bank, get out cash in the right denominations, then split them up into the envelopes. Then when ever you wanted to spend something you would take money from that envelope (putting the change back in). We ended up not having that envelope with us, when we were out and about. Granted, you should plan for purchases, but it doesn't always work that way. You may not remember that you have to get a gallon of milk, until you are at work. To have to go back home to get the money, is a pain. I know I am oversimplifying it, but it just did not work for us.

So after trial and error and research, we have found a way that is working for us. It also took me getting a part time job, to give us extra cash to put into savings and be able to "afford" extras. But, here is what we have done.

Instead of envelopes, we have created different accounts.

For savings, we now use an online account, that we cannot get access to immediately. We both have money direct deposited from our checks to go into that account. We never see it and we never touch it. We are using it for long term savings projects. First one is getting into a house. Once we do that, we will save for a car for Hubby. Then a vacation, etc. It is a savings account for those long term goals, that you do not want to piddle away with "emergency" gallon's of milk that you should have budgeted for in the first place.

We now each have pre-paid debit cards for our fun money. We each get a set amount from each of our paychecks, deposited onto the pre-paid card. This money we can do anything we want with. If we want to buy gifts for each other, the other one won't see the balance from it or what was spent.

We also  now use a pre-paid gas card for all of our gas purchases. What was happening, was that the money I would give to hubby for "gas and fun" would get mingled up. He would not make it the two weeks needed. By having two separate cards, he now know, this one is for gas this one is for fun. I would also have my fun money going toward groceries and gas, and not keeping track of when I spent something on myself. Now we have a dedicated card, that also gets us a discount on gas. (We use a Walmart Gift Card. It gives us $.03 off each gallon and is easily reloaded when I buy groceries).

Our main account, where Hubby's check goes is dedicated to bill paying, rent, etc. His gas and fun funds, come from when he gets paid. Since I work most Friday's, I just reload the cards on my break. The rest is used for bills and if there is money left over, it is left to grow and build our bank balance. We also have a savings account linked to that account, so if after all bills are paid, we move all but $100 out of checking into savings. This savings account is our "emergency" fund for things like blown tires, etc.

My checks are deposited into a different bank. I use this account to fund my gas and fun accounts. It is also used for all groceries and eating out. If I work less then, our food budget is less. I have to make do with what we have. But if I can keep our food budget below what I have, then I can move the remaining amount into the savings account linked to it and we use that for things like clothes, etc.

I know it may seem complicated, but it really is working for us. We are saving money. Sticking to a budget and we don't feel guilty going to a movie, or buying a book, when it is our own "fun" money.

By having most of our money direct deposited into separate accounts, we don't have to think about it. The money is there and when it is gone it is gone. We don't carry around the debit card associated with the "Bills" account. That way we always have the money to pay bills and rent. We only carry our gas, fun and grocery cards. I know if I am at the movies, I pull out the fun card. If I am buying gas, I pull out the gas card, same thing with groceries. So it is like having an envelope, only electronically.

I know they say there is an emotional response to using cash. You tend to spend less. But in our cases, it seems like it would escape through our fingers. This way both hubby and I are aware of what money is for what purpose. So far it is working.

Some other hints and tips:
I do most of my shopping at Walmart (since I work there). I recently started using the American Express Blue-bird card. When you use the savings catcher and get money back, you can have it refunded back to your Blue-Bird card. I use this card as my "snacks" card while at work. I budget a certain amount for the two weeks of lunches and snacks and when it is gone it is gone. I get daily updates on balances.

For personal fun money,we use a Simple card. It allows you to set goals and "set aside" money that is not available to spend until you reach that goal. For those of us trying to reach goals, but find it hard, this might be a good option for you.

Prepaid gas cards. Most gas stations offer a prepaid gas card. You load money on it and are able to pay at the pump. For those of you wanting to budget your gas without using cash and having to go inside every time (it is hard to lug kids inside to pay cash), this is a great option. Walmart allows you to use your Walmart gift cards at the gas station associated with it. Ours is a Murphy station, but you need to look into what your's is. You can write with a sharpie on the card GAS, so you know not to use it for anything else at Walmart. You have to plan a little bit more with this one, since you will not always be near the Walmart gas station. That is when a Gas Station pre-paid card, might be a better option.

Get to know your bank/credit union. Credit unions have more options when it comes to things like loans. You are a member, not a customer and with that you have benefits. But I have also found that my personal bank is very personable and works with me.

I hope this post helps those of you not wanting to work on a strictly cash basis.

Weight Loss Picking Up - Goals

About 6 weeks ago, I started a new job. It is a part time job that I am doing in the evenings, to help us save up to move into a house. This job keeps me on my feet and involves lots of lifting and walking.
I had already made changes to my diet before this and had success losing about 15 pounds, but I was stuck. I knew I needed to get active, but I was so out of shape, that traditional workouts were impossible.

By HAVING to work hard, while on the job, I was able to work past that. I am now stronger and have more endurance. I can feel muscles that I haven't felt in years.

Beside being active, I also have a whole grocery store available to me for snacks while at work. I usually grab two pieces of fruit. Maybe some nuts or a cheese slice. There is also a Subway, so I get to have a turkey sandwich on those long days. In general, I am eating pretty healthy while at work. One more thing, I am drinking a ton of water at work. I don't know if it is because I am so active, or they suck every ounce of humidity out of the store, but I am so thirsty while I am there. Thank goodness for the water and ice machines.

When I set out to lose this weight, I had certain goals. One was to fit back into my favorite pair of jeans. I had been at a weight where I couldn't even get them above my knees. Now I am able to put them on and close them. They aren't all that comfortable to wear, just yet. But they will soon.

My other goal was to lose weight in 25 pound increments. I have lost 24.6 pounds so far, so only about half a pound until I reach my first goal. My reward for that is a fit-bit. I cannot wait!

My second 25 pounds will bring me down to the weight I was when my youngest was born. My husband and I have a personal reward for that goal being reached. One that we will reveal once it happens. We do not want to jinx anything. I will say that during the time I am trying to reach this second goal, I will start training to do a 5K. I am not a runner, but this has always been something I have wanted to do, to prove I could do it. This is huge for me. I mean, I used to pretend my leg was broken during gym class, anytime I had to run. I need to prove to myself that I am capable of running.

My third 25 pound goal, will bring me back down to about 200 pounds. This is where I was when I lost all the weight after having my youngest. I felt really good. I was comfortable in myself and liked how I looked. I was still overweight, but it was the lowest I had been since I got married. My reward for this goal will be a trip to a spa. Whole kit and kaboodle. Massage, facial, mani/pedi. Everything.

My fourth goal is to have a final weight of 175. This may still seem high to people, but I really am built of good German stock and big bones (despite being only 5'5"). The reward for this one isn't going to be revealed until it happens, but it will be a good one.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Adjusting and Keeping Up

A year ago I gave my notice to the company I had worked for, for nearly 8 years. It was terrifying. But I had a goal to be home with my girls, get a part time job and go back to school to become a teacher. I ended up taking nearly a year off from "traditional" work. I started a business. Tried another business. Developed my craft of crocheting. The time came where it was time to get that part time job.

I started my new job last week. I am working at a big box store as a cashier, in the evenings. This allows me to be with my girls during the day and not have to pay daycare. It throws off our schedule a bit, because they (along with my husband) were used to me being home at night. In the end, we decided it was the way to go though.

Adjusting to a new schedule:

I originally wanted to work only 20-25 hours, but after meeting with my new manager, we discussed working more hours. Knowing that I have a strict amount I have to come up with by September, this seemed like a good thing. I will now be working a set schedule of 4 nights a week from 5pm to midnight. Then on Sunday afternoons/evenings.

This means that instead of two-three nights a week of hubby having to hold down the fort, he has only one night a week where he doesn't have to "do it all". He works a full time job during the day. So he is having to wrangle the kids instead of being able to decompress. But honestly, there are so many single parents out there that have to do it, so I know he can handle it.

Our youngest is having a hard time adjusting to the new schedule with sleep. I usually put her to bed and she is wanting to stay up until I get home. This is not going to work. So Hubby is going to have to work on it while I am not home.

Keeping Up:

Normally I do all the housework during the day. I have dinner started by the time hubby comes home. Then after we eat, he supervises the girls bath time, while I put away dinner and have some down time. This schedule is changing and I am relying on hubby more to help "keep up" with the house. There is nothing worse than coming home at midnight and having the house trashed and everyone in bed.

In the end this is going to be a good thing for our family. We will be able to save the money we need to move into a house. We will have the money to replace Hubby's car. We will be able to get back on track and accomplish our goals. In the mean is and adjustment keeping up.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Will it be a tough week? Or smooth as silk?

This is the first full week of me working part time. Is it going to go smoothly? Will it be filled with happiness? Or will things fall apart?

Hubby has to take over some of the cooking and night time activities. He already does baths, so that is not an issue, but cooking and homework often throws him for a loop.

In the past, when I worked through dinner, he would just get fast food. This is not an option for us anymore. He has to cook. I am going to work to save money, not have it all go back out the "drive-thru window."

To try to make things run smoothly, I am creating a family chore list for the refrigerator. They are things that need to get done every night. Things like: unload dishwasher, scoop litter box, Sarah's homework, brush kids teeth, empty trash, etc.  Hubby likes lists, so I hope this one works.

I have menu planned things that are easy for him to cook. When I am able, I will prep all the food before leaving for work, as I will usually start at 5pm. Tomorrow is different, because I have to go to work earlier for training.

I am so grateful for having part time work. Hopefully it will be the answer to our prayers. We just have to stay focused on the end goal.

Wish Hubby luck this week. Hee hee.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What a roller coaster it has been.

This year started out tough, as I was finally coming to terms with my Grandmother's death. In doing so, I sunk into a depression. I was making bad decisions and we got behind on bills. It is now April and things are slowly coming together.

We started a new business, actually two under the same umbrella. We are doing a historical re-enactor garb and costumer resale store. We purchase garb and costumes that people are not wearing anymore and then we fix it up a bit, to be resold to someone else who wants it. So far we are doing pretty well in our first month. (see We actually had three separate sales of a decent amount in our first week of opening. Now we just have to keep up with supply.

I have also started selling my crochet work. I have a portion on the website dedicated to it, called ToCrochetIsToLove. I also have an etsy store under the same name. The crochet work I am doing, is working well as a therapy for me. I sold my first commission and am working on some more. So it is nice to be busy. Hopefully the money from the crochet will allow me to save up to go back to school and get my alternative teacher certification.

As I mentioned, we got behind on the bills. My husband and I stopped communicating and we ended up doing some stupid things. It is taking us awhile to get back on track, but we ARE doing it. We are doing everything we can to make up for the mistakes. We have sold a bunch of stuff, like books, DVDs, CDs, etc. I am even going to go through all of the girls stuff and see what we can purge. It is actually a good thing, so that we don't have to move it all when we are able to move into a house.

Along with the two businesses, I have gone back to work part time. I will be working about 20-25 hours a week in the evenings and one weekend day. This will bring in much needed money to get back on track and to put into savings so that we can move when our lease is up in October. We still plan to get into a house, but it will be a rental or a lease to own. Not a full out purchase. Either way, our kids will have a nice yard to play in.

My weight is in the downward spiral, which is good. But I do not think it is really from any hard work. I am just not eating as much, because our budget is so tight. Don't worry, I am eating, the kids are eating, hubby is eating. But we are all snacking less and making do with less. It was a horrible adjustment for our oldest, the snack queen. She still has her moments, but she is getting better. My weight is down to 257, down from 278 at my highest. This is awesome!

I am proud of us recently. We figured out we were going in the wrong direction and then worked out how to get back on track. It is a process, but one that is worth it. I am so proud that my husband and I and the kids pulled together this week to come up with the couple hundred we needed to pay a bill. It had to be paid or there would have been major consequences. We sold a bunch of stuff and paid the bill. There is no better feeling.

So that is the roller coaster we have been on. Tough times, filled with good times. Hope and faith that it is all going to work out. I am happy to be back at work, but mostly that it is a job that works around my need and desire to be home with the girls during the day. I am eternally grateful for it.

Until next time...

Monday, March 23, 2015

There are no shortcuts!

Since I had left my career in the automotive industry in May of last year, things had going pretty well. I left so that I would be able to be home with my kids and work toward my teacher certification. That is until I went off my path.

In January, I went down a path of shortcuts. I will not go into details, but basically, I stopped working toward my goal of becoming a teacher and started working toward a goal of making money as fast as I could. But life doesn't work that way. There are no shortcuts. No fast ways of doing something. You need to work hard and be persistent.

My original goal was to find a part time job to earn the money to cash flow my teacher certification and get us into a house. Instead of finding a traditional part time job, I decided to try something where I could work from home. But the amount of work and money that I had to put into it, did not result in any money coming in. We started to get behind on our bills. Stress and anxiety became the norm and it became clear I had made a mistake.

I have spent the past month in a severe depression filled with anxiety. I have contemplated returning to work full time. Full of doubt and scared of spiraling out of control, I sought help from a friend. She has helped me get through the rough points and guided me to have faith. I ended up praying a lot to God to show me where I had gone wrong.

What resulted was me having a dream that was very vivid. It showed me going back to work full time, back in the automotive industry. In the dream I was at work and I kept running around the cubicles crying and looking for my daughter. Every time I came up on a sign of her, she would disappear again. It was horrible! There was no way I could go back to that way of life.

I woke up and there was a voice in my head that said, "What was your goal that you have forgotten? That is what you need to go back to." It was like that light bulb moment I have been searching for the past month. My goal when I left work was to get a part time job and go back to school and get my teaching degree. My goal got lost along the way.

Becoming a teacher will fulfill my lifelong dream. Just ask my family, for as long as I can remember, that is what I wanted to be. Teaching, beyond fulfilling my dream, will allow me to have summers and holidays off with my girls. I will have the fulfillment of working and giving to people. It will not be easy. It will not make me a millionaire. There is no fast way to make money, it takes hard work, diligence and perseverance.

I will be getting a part time job as soon as possible. I will continue with our family business we have been working on opening (to allow us to participate in our hobby). I will go back to school as soon as I possibly can. I will use this as a lesson to make sure I stay on the right path.

So here I go, back on track to accomplish what it was that I set out to do, so very long ago.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Starting A Business Is Hard

My husband and I have been working hard (in the background) on starting a new business. It came time for us to stop planning and start doing. Let's say that it is both the most wonderful thing we are doing right now and the most stressful. Our ultimate goal is for me to be able to continue to stay at home, but also have something that is financially and emotionally rewarding. We want to be able to get into a house and not just live on the edge, but firmly on the other side of stable.
Out of desperation I made a mistake that I thought was right at the time, but turned out to take me away from what was our ultimate goal. I decided to take one of my other passions (essential oils) and turn it into a business. The promise of all that money, turned my head from being on track to a complete derailment. I ended up dividing my time between two businesses and everything suffered. My house fell apart. My three year old wasn't getting enough of my time. Money invested in one business should have gone toward the other. In general, we went backward in our goals.
We were hoping to move this summer and we are wondering if that will be a possibility or not. Going back home to pay my respects to my Grandmother, who passed in October, is not going to happen. My bill paying schedule is all out of wack. Things are getting paid, just not to avoid the dreaded late payments. I find myself not eating lunch in hopes of keeping a little more food on the table for the girls.
So there you have it. I messed up. Me and only me. Now how do I fix it?
Fixing It
With our finances being pulled to extremes, we are doing everything we can to make up for our little detour.
Attempt One: I am trying to sell shirts to make up the few hundred dollars we "lost". I am hoping that if people will buy some of the shirts, they will be getting something, but also helping my family. So far we haven't had any luck at all. However, the good thing is, if the shirts don't sell, we are not out of any money. They just don't run the campaign.
Attempt Two: I decided to swallow my pride and launch a gofundme campaign. I have gotten a horrible response on this one. Friends are telling me that of course you will go into debt to start a business. No way will I see a profit in the first year. So on and so on. But here is the thing; if there is a chance that I can get some funding without going the loan route, that is what I will do. I will either have to build the business slower (using cash) or not at all. I will not under any circumstances get a business  loan. It just isn't going to happen. I have too much debt already to add to it.
Attempt Three: We are forgoing everything and anything extra. We didn't go out for Valentine's day. My 40th birthday will go by with nothing special. We are selling anything and everything we can on our website (launching it earlier than expected), in hopes of bringing in any kind of money.
In the end, we have once again learned a really good lesson. We are moving forward and trying our hardest to come up with ways of fixing what went wrong. The important thing is to keep moving forward. Keep trying. Have faith that everything will work out as planned.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Progress for February

I have worked hard this month. My goals were to eat healthy, find some time every day for some sort of activity, get out and be with people, and try to stay on budget.

Eating healthy:

By shopping at Costco and getting frozen vegetables, stocking up on healthy meats and transitioning to buying as much organic foods as possible; I was finally able to kick-start my weight loss again. I starting at 278 and got down to 270 and hung out there a pound up or down for awhile. I have finally gotten down to 263. That is wonderful progress for me.

Years ago I had a basic formula for how my meals were laid out. For Breakfast I have a protein, a carbohydrate and a fruit or two. For lunch I would have a fruit, one or two vegetables, and a protein. For dinner I would have two to three servings of vegetables, a protein and a small amount of carbohydrate. I would fill in with snacks of nuts, rice cakes with peanut butter, or some fruit. I have worked hard this month to get back to that way of eating and it is working.


My daughters are helping me in this respect. Beside doing my chores around the house and walking the dog further than before, my kids are keeping me on my toes. Every day we have dance-a-thons. We turn on music and dance and dance. My oldest tries different gymnastic or ballet moves and I help her and show her.

I am also adding a few planks here and there throughout my day. I wish I could do squats, but they are forbidden with my knee the way it is. I do knee and leg lifts in the kitchen while I am cooking. The girls think I am nuts, but heck, it gets some activity there.

Organics and Natural Living

The more research I do, the more I realize that I need to eat organic. My family needs to eat organic. I cannot wait until the day that I have my own plot of land where I can grow my own vegetables and fruit. Have a bunch of chickens, a cow and a pig or two. Until then, I am at the mercy of my grocery store.

Each month I switching over from traditional to organic on a few items. By doing it a few at a time, I can ease into it financially. This month I bought organic flour. I love to make my own pizza's, so this will make me feel like they are a little bit better for us.

I have also stopped taking pretty much all over the counter medications. No more anti-histamines, acid reducers, pain relievers. I am still taking over the counter vitamins as I am extremely deficient, but I am on the search for some that are more natural based. I am doing research to see if the one's provided by doTERRA, will give me what I need.

In the end, I am feeling a lot better. I am not in such a fog as I used to be. I am losing weight. My PCOS is more under control than it ever has been before. Eating better, exercising and using my essential oils have gone a long way to improving my life.

Until next time....

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How to stop a panic attack.

I am stepping way out of my comfort zone tonight. I used to love hosting parties. But as my world of panic attacks closed in on me, I stopped doing stuff. I stopped going out. I stopped wanting to talk to people on the phone. I felt like I needed to create a big bubble around myself, so that no triggers were around me.

That is not a way to live. We need people. We are social creatures.

This morning I felt a major panic attack coming on. I am so nervous for this class tonight. I am more than prepared. I am confident in the subject matter. It is just my insecurities in myself and my panic attack triggers kicking in.

As my chest tightened, I felt dizzy. I wanted to curl back up under the covers and cancel everything. I wanted to call my husband and have him come home to watch our daughter. I just couldn't handle it right now.

Nope, that wouldn't work. I have people counting on me.

I walked into the bathroom, where I keep my oils. I put a few drops of Balance and a few drops of Citrus Bliss in my hands. I rubbed them together, cupped them around my nose and mouth and inhaled deeply. I rubbed my hands on my neck and chest. I inhaled the aroma from my hands again.

Ok, I feel a little better.

I took the dog out for his morning walk. I practiced awareness breathing. Inhale 5 counts, hold 4 counts, exhale 5 counts. Inhale, hold, exhale. Ok. Its a little better. Cupped my hands around my nose and mouth and inhaled deeply.

When I got in I felt like the panic attack was about 75% gone. Time for some brief meditation and more awareness breathing. I find that if I get on all fours and do cat/cows it helps. Inhale on cat, exhale on cow. Inhale on cat, Exhale on cow. I repeated this five times.

Phew...almost normal. Still a little anxious. Finish with a prayer. "God, I release these anxieties to your shoulders. I know that you are there for me and I am not alone."

Sigh. Much better.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why essential oils?

If you had asked me a year ago, if I saw myself wanting to do this for a living, I would have thought you were crazy. I never in a million years wanted to do "direct" or "Sales Marketing". As I have said before, I have tried other companies, but never had full trust in the product. I am an honest person and I failed miserably at those attempts, because I couldn't sell someone another piece of plastic that would just get lost in a month or two. I couldn't sell them an eye-liner or face cream, when I am happy with my drug store finds and for the most part do not wear make-up.

When I first tried essential oils, I did it halfheartedly. It wasn't until I really started using them that it made a difference. This is my experience:

I started out with samples of Balance and Citrus Bliss from the doTERRA line of essential oils. One night I was so desperate for help for my increasing panic attacks, I went searching in my drawer for a Xanax or something. Anything. That is when a little vial rolled from the back and called my name. It said, "Try me, really try me this time."

I tried it. I felt results almost instantly. I still didn't believe it. I went to the doctor the next week and got a script for my anxiety meds and Xanax. I still wasn't ready to give myself over to the oils. Those who know, anxiety meds are not an instant fix. They can take 2-6 weeks to kick in. I was given a very low dose to start, basically does nothing but warm you up for your proper dose. I was having constant panic attacks. The Xanax was supposed to be used during this "warm up" time, to help with the attacks.

I decided one day to not take the Xanax. I decided to give myself over to the oils and lay my faith in them. In deep throws of a panic attack, I reached for the oils instead of the Xanax. I put a few drops of Balance and a few drops of Lavender in my palm with some coconut oil. I rubbed it all over my feet and legs. Within a few minutes, I felt as if I had taken a Xanax. I was able to breath. To get on with my day, without fear that I wouldn't be "aware" for my kids.

This is what did it for me. I called my cousin and told her that I needed to do this. I needed to share with people how much these oils were helping me. I wanted to turn this into a business. One where I was able to fulfill my intense need to teach and help people. I wanted to do it to better my family's life financially, but also health-wise. I didn't want my loved one's to be without these "miracle's."

Tonight my youngest daughter was fit to be tied. Tired and cranky from no nap. Usually this leads to a lot of throwing and kicking and biting. Tonight I took some jojoba oil and lavender and massaged her legs and feet. Within a minute or two, she was a changed girl. She calmed down and I was able to put her to bed without screaming.  My other daughter wanted her legs rubbed down too!

Tomorrow I am hosting my first class with the help of an expert in Yoga and Essential Oils. She represents what I want to be. Even if I have one person show up to the class, I will be blessed to be able to share these wonderful oils with them. I truly believe this is only the beginning. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but it is work I enjoy. After all, if I can convert my husband, who called it snake oil, to become a person who puts on oils every night before bed, I can convert anyone! I just need to give them a sample and they will see for themselves. Heck, it took me a year to come to my senses. I have time, if it means someone gets the help they need.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Little changes over time...Vegetables

Last night I had a conversation with Hubby about how I have been making little changes over time, that are really having an effect on our health. Lets talk about our evolution of vegetables.

I used to buy canned vegetables. I would buy one can for each day to have with dinner. Peas, green beans, corn. I would buy fresh veggies, but more often than not they would go bad before I ever ate them. This was during our time of eating out most nights. The cans of veggies were about $.75 to $1.25 a piece. One can would feed Hubby and I.

Once we had our first daughter I realized that I needed two cans of veggies. This was getting expensive! I know, not really, but when you are on such a tight budget, two cans of veggies were really putting a dent in our funds. So out I went in search of a way to get more veggies, for less cost.
I found myself in the freezer aisle. I found bags of frozen veggies that would give us the equivalent of 2 cans, for $1.00. Yippee! Back on budget.

Although it wasn't just the budget that was my concern. I started to do some research on canned vs frozen. As I learned more about health, I found out that canned food is NOT good for you. It wasn't just added sodium, but the cans themselves. ( I wanted to get us away from eating as many canned foods as possible. Moving into the frozen food aisle was a way for us to have food on hand, that wasn't going to go bad if we didn't get to eating it that week.

The frozen vegetables tasted better and were better for us. With even more research, I decided that I wanted to move from conventional frozen vegetables to organic. The problem was, that if I wanted to expand into more "specialty" vegetable varieties, they cost a lot more. Instead of $1.00 for a bag of peas, you would pay $2-3 for a bag of "Mediterranean Mix", that has squash and broccoli. I knew there had to be a better way to get organic vegetables into our diet. Lord knows that fresh organic would break our budget.

A friend of mine told me about these great options at Costco. You could get a huge bag of vegetables for about $6.50. Most were organic and big and beautiful. Here are some of the ones I get and my reviews:


The organic broccoli comes in a big bag, with 4 individual one pound bags. The perfect size for a family. At a regular grocery store, you end up getting these tiny pieces of broccoli that are more stem than anything. These are nice sized florets. Steam them and they rival fresh any day. It is also the perfect addition to broccoli and cheese noodles or soup. My girls and I devour these!

Green Beans:

These organic green beans are long string beans and once cooked taste just like they were fresh. I get one bag for under $7 and it lasts the whole month. I will sometimes add some of them to the Mediterranean mix to give more variety. My favorite is to boil them for a few minutes, then drain the water, add a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon and they are fantastic!

Mediterranean Mix:

This mix contains yellow carrots, orange baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. I love this mix on its own or mixed with the green beans. I will steam these, then mix with some olive oil and garlic. My husband who hates broccoli will even eat the broccoli when I cook it like that. This one is not organic, but I like the mix.

Traditional Mixed Veggies that Kids Love:

Kids love the traditional mixed veggies, don't they? I wanted to go organic to make sure I was giving them a healthier option. These are once again under $7 for a huge 5 pound bag. So it is comparable in price to the non organic smaller bags of the Walmart brand, but better for you! I use this mixture in my Hamburger Minestrone Soup recipe and it is fantastic!

Stir-fry Veggies:

This fantastic bag is wonderful to have on hand for Stir-fry or on their own. I love the variety and one bag can make several dinners. I love that it has the water chestnuts in it along with the baby corn. Who doesn't love baby corn? Again, this is not organic, but it is a great option.

These 5 bags, for around $30 will feed us healthy meals for the entire month. I do buy a few fresh veggies and of course fresh fruit. But to have these bags on hand in the freezer, makes getting healthy meals on the table both budget and time friendly. By switching to these bags of vegetables, my family is eating a lot more veggies. In fact, my husband has lost 13 pounds in a few weeks.

I hope that this post helps those on a tight budget realize that you can have healthy veggies at every meal. I will be doing a post about saving money on meat too. You can eat well on a budget. It is something I am learning every day.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Vitamin Deficiencies

I have posted a million times about wanting to lose weight. In the moment I was all ambitious and sure that I was going to climb a mountain and accomplish what I hadn't done before. I was going to eat perfectly and get to the gym every day for an hour. Then nothing happened. I didn't go Paleo. I didn't become a Gym Rat. I became depressed. Days became more and more difficult. I was taking so many pain meds that it was getting unhealthy. All because I was in so much pain.

I have spoken before about my vitamin deficiencies. I have an extreme deficiency in vitamin D. There is so much research on what it does to the body, that I will have a different blog about that. The truth is, that I had stopped taking my supplements. I was so tired and weak from the deficiencies, that just getting out of bed was a feat. One morning I woke up and it hit me, duh Jenn, you need to get back on your supplements. Within a week I was doing so much better.

Vitamin D wasn't the only thing I started taking. I went back on Biotin for my hair. When you have PCOS, you have hair loss. I went back on B12 to help with energy and immune support. I take an iron pill (my levels are always borderline low). These supplements have made my skin smoother. My mood is more stabilized. I wish I could get all of these from the foods I eat. It is my goal to get as close as possible, For now, I am taking them so that I feel well enough to try.

Reflecting on what has worked in the past for me (in terms of losing weight), I discovered something. I discovered that it isn't about losing weight. It is truly about becoming healthy. Finding out what your body needs and fulfilling that need. If you are having issues, go and get a physical. Find out what your numbers are. See if there is something you are deficient in, that is causing you pain. We spend so much of our time covering up symptoms with drugs, that we don't try to find out the reason for them.

So for those of you who have been keeping up with this blog, it is in a transitional stage. I will be focusing more on the whole body wellness. Not covering up problems. Not ignoring them. But trying to find natural ways to be well and healthy. I might throw in a financial tid-bit or two...but for now, lets find a way to be well, together.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Menu plan from January 11-17, 2015

We were on an extra tight budget this week, so we utilized a lot of things we already had on hand. Our ultimate goal is to eat as healthily as possible, one day becoming 100% Paleo. This is a work in progress for sure. When you are working your way out of debt, one of the best ways to "find" money is to reduce your food budget. I feed my family a well rounded meal, watch our portions and try to make our traditional meals as good for us as possible.
Here is this week's menu:
Salisbury Steak, Egg Noodles, (potatoes for me), Green Beans
Chicken Parmesan, Angel Hair Noodles, Peas
Sweet n Sour Chicken, Rice, Mixed Veggies
Pork chops, Potatoes, Green Beans
Ham Steak, Scalloped Potatoes and Mixed Veggies

Sunday, January 11, 2015

In search of a good night sleep - Part 2

I have always been a poor sleeper. I have had insomnia on and off for years, even resorting to taking prescription medications to fall asleep. I tell you, some of those side effects are both wonderful and disturbing.

As you read in my previous blog post, I have started to make my bed every morning. This is leading me to WANT to crawl into bed at night. One reason is because it is a nice and welcoming place to go, not a place covered in clothes, or disheveled.

In this installment of my better sleep series, I am going to discuss the effect of routine. Since my husband and I both have sleep issues, we didn't instill good sleep habits in our children. They would go to sleep when we went to sleep. My oldest never was able to sleep in her own room. My youngest slept in her own room until Hubby lost his job. It was his job to put her to sleep at night and most nights they ended up sleeping on our sectional, in the living room.

When I became a stay at home mom, I decided that I would tackle this problem. In the beginning of the summer (when I became a SAHM), I ended up having both of my girls sleeping with me. Hubby took advantage of the girls bedroom and started sleeping in there.

This worked well, until I ended up getting very little sleep due to having no room in my bed. I needed to find a way to reclaim my bed. My oldest daughter has slept with me most of her life. She had several very scary events in her crib, that made it difficult for her to sleep alone. We both needed to sleep, so I ended up letting her sleep with me. Once we stopped fighting her to sleep in her own room, we all got a lot better sleep. That is all that really mattered at the time. Once you added in my youngest, the "good sleep", faded.

This summer I had a goal. I wanted my oldest to be in her own room by the end of the year. We talked about it and eventually she would bring it up on her own. I guess getting kicked in the kidneys all night by her sister, was a good motivator. So one day while she was at school I made up her bed. Put all the stuff she normally slept with all nice and cute in her room. After school I took her to the store and we picked up a toy that had multiple pieces. I told her that for every night she slept in her room, she got one of the pieces.

I was expecting a total breakdown and fight. The first night she went to bed no problem. The second night, she fell asleep in bed before I even went to say good night. A few nights she has come out complaining of a bad dream, but always gone back in for a full night sleep. She will occasionally come into my room and want to cuddle and say she wishes she could stay. But  I always take her back without a fight and she stays in her room. It has been a wonderful transition for all of us.

So now, our youngest sleeps with me. My hubby sleeps in her room and our oldest is in her own room. We have a long way to go to achieve my dream of everyone in there own room, including hubby with me. But that is what this series is about. It is about my journey of getting to a place of successful sleep for us all.

Check back soon....topics will include: essential oils for better sleep, nightly routine, finding the right mattress, how old is too old for bed sharing, etc.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Do you make your bed? - Search for a good night sleep series.

Do you make your bed every morning? Growing up this was a requirement. Pretty much the minute you got up, you were to make your bed. Once I moved into my own place, it was rare for me to make my bed. Sure, once a week sheet changing, but the daily bed straightening didn't happen.

This year I decided that I was going to make it a priority to make my bed. Why something so simple? Because it really does lead to a sense of accomplishment. By doing one simple thing in the morning, to make your room neat, sends you on your path for a more productive day.

I know, it sounds weird. Typing this makes me feel like some whack job. Honestly though, I feel different.

By making my bed first thing (and going to the respective rooms in the house to make the other beds), has gotten me more motivated in the morning. I walk into a room and smile. It has lead me to picking up a couple items here and there, helping me to maintain a cleaner house.

By making my bed first thing, I am also less likely to crawl back into it, when I should be getting up and about.

A bonus is that I find that I am sleeping a little better at night. Crawling into a bed that is made, makes it feel special. Your not searching for the sheet that slipped down to the end of the bed, the night before. You can snuggle in, feeling comforted.

So yeah, this is a weird blog post. But I dare you. For the next week, make your bed the minute you get up in the morning. See what it does for your day and night.