Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Meal Planning Hassle {Home Life}

The never-ending necessity... It's like Laundry; you do it one day only to have to do it again the next.  It's exhausting. Especially when you have to fit it into a budget.

It makes me tired just to think about it.

What's for dinner?

If you can wing it with contents of your cabinets, freezer, and fridge then power to you! I need to have a plan. I cannot just wing it. It stresses me out.

And trying to decide what to make?! I still have issues like I talked about in this post from over a year ago. Do I cook for something I will enjoy, or something everyone else will? Granted, the family needs to eat too.

I gave up and stopped planning. What we spent on groceries pretty much doubled. We ate fast food and processed pre-packaged way more than we had been. Of course, at the time I wasn't focusing on the budget too much anyway. But, I needed to start figuring out food and lowering the expenses there because it was starting to hurt expenses in other areas.

Trello

I needed to get back to meal planning. I needed to have an easy answer for the "what's for dinner" question. So I started using the meals we were making and created a list in Trello.


As we went through the meals I would check them off so we had some variety until we ate from the whole collection and then uncheck them and start over.

It worked for a while. But I quickly grew tired of the process. I wanted to not have to be the only one making the decisions, but none of the meals sounded good to the other members of the family.

A friend had posted, on Facebook, about a freezer prep and planning site with meals to make for the month. I could fit the subscription into the budget, but the number of meals to pick from overwhelmed me, and fitting food for one month into the budget of half a month was not an option. I would have to at least go every two weeks.

Meanwhile, the question still lingered. Every day. What's for dinner.

These are the things I have started using to help alleviate the meal planning hassle recently and it's been working for the last few months.


I came across another meal prep option, in video form. The people were prepping meals in 30-45 minutes for the entire week. I watched several videos in a row and was impressed. The concept was similar, the price was the same. I decided to give it a try and if we didn't like it I would cancel the subscription.

The meals were pretty good. It was different than we were used to. But they fit into our normal (not inflated) paycheck budget. Plus we've tried new things. Things we wouldn't have even thought to attempt before! Just this weekend we had salmon. Both of us have had bad experiences with salmon. It was not something we would have thought to try. But we did, and we enjoyed it!

Even the husband was joining in on the prepping of the food! If you want to check it out, it is 5dinners1hour.com.

The question was still there. What's for dinner?

But the kids enjoy looking through the pictures and help planning the meals. They like helping do the work on prep day (we do it on Sundays). Sure it takes us longer to prep 5 dinners than an hour (we use mostly fresh ingredients), but it has been amazing.





I started using Ibotta again to help with the costs. Since it's a rebate program, the return is not as fast. Plus a lot of the items are pre-packaged which does not make it into our home as often. But, with snacks for the kids, cereal in the morning, toilet paper, and craft supplies it does indeed add up. I've had a few gift cards come through for Walmart, and used to buy things we needed! It's not points based but actually change. I prefer that so much more!



You can check it out through my referral code https://ibotta.com/r/vvggcw another bonus is it doesn't cost anything to sign up!


Have you jumped on board the Zaycon train yet? We first got some ground beef. It was amazing. The meat comes in 40lb increments, so make sure you have room! It was yummy meat.

They just had a 99 cent per pound chicken sale. I had to jump on that. When you pay regularly 1.99 per pound, 99 cents is amazing!

Check them out through my referral code: https://zayconfresh.com/refer/zf341341 
I only get credit if you buy something.

Click List

Our local Fry's Foods (Part of the Kroger family) offers click list pick up. 

I don't use click list to order my food. I use it when I am planning to make sure I stay within budget. It keeps a running tally of the price. I can see whether items are on sale with the ad. 


Then when I am in the store I have the app on my phone and it has them listed in aisle order in the store. Perfect to make the trip go smoothly and quickly. I just go in order of the aisles as I shop! It's been life changing!

What do you do?
I'm still working on ways to keep my budget down or to stay in my budget. It's a constant learning game. What are some strategies you use to stay within your grocery budget?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Tear Paper Craft: The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli {Read and Play}

"Mommy, can you read this book to me?" ... or from the toddler ... "Read a book?"

Day after day after day, book after book after book. 

I love my kids' enthusiasm for reading.

I just don't love doing it all the time. the same book after book, over and over again.

And now that it is summer, it is the perfect time to get some crafty, playtime ideas together. 

Our MOPS group is bringing back Kids Book Club from when I was creative and activities leader and I am super excited, I had to jump in! It needed to be something summer-esque like watermelon or ice cream.

Ooh. Making Ice Cream would have been perfect too. 

We are not making ice cream. I'll have to file that for later.

I went searching the library and came across a few watermelon books. Have you seen how many watermelon crafts there are on google? I didn't even try Pinterest. We love some tear-paper art here. Can't go wrong with having kids tear their own pieces of paper.



"You mean I'm allowed to be destructive?" As their little faces beam with every satisfactory riiiip of the construction paper. Hey, It's good fine motor practice for those little fingers too.

You need:
half a paper plate
about a quarter to a half a piece to a full piece of red construction paper
about a quarter to a half piece of green
liquid glue
q-tips to dab glue
black paint for seeds (little fingers make cute seeds)
         or black construction paper circles cut from a hole punch if you don't want to brave the paint. We just ended up using construction paper



Kids tear and glue to make a slice of watermelon. then glue the black seeds down (or paint the seeds) on the red. Super easy, super cute, and the kids love tearing the paper.



We read "The Watermelon Seed" by Greg Pizzoli to go along with the craft. It's all about swallowing a watermelon seed. It made me laugh a little given my current state. The kids didn't quite get why I  thought it was funny.

I'm super excited that the big guy has enjoyed reading this book multiple times over since this activity.

What are some watermelon crafts you have done with your littles?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sewing a Mini-Capsule: Update {Self Care}

At the end of March, I shared with you my plans for sewing a mini capsule. Or rather, filling in the holes of what I currently have. Now that it's the end of Me Made May, I'm ready to share my updated mini capsule.

And, now you know our big news you can understand my need for a mini capsule! One of the reasons I have been kind of working on the wardrobe is I had gotten rid of a bunch of my maternity wear way before baby 4 was even close to coming. I was fighting through this winter with elastic around the button of my only jeans that didn't kill my hips until I *finally* made my Love Notions Maternity Sabrina Slims and a friend giving me a pair of rtw skinny maternity jeans (among other awesome items).

I used the book The Curated Closet By Anushka Rees to help me out a little bit too. Mostly colors and what kind of items. I have way more than enough skirts for my lifestyle. Even if they are super comfy in the heat. You can read what I had to say about it here.

Here was the plan (using the 4x4 wardrobe sheet from Vivienne Files)...


And what I have now...

<img 4x4 update>
Added Items:
Ponte A-Line Skirt
Grey shorts
Mint Tank
Purple Tank
Maxi Skirt
Denim Capris

Ponte A-Line Skirt


Using leftover fabric from the navy Ponte pants I made a while back I made a knee length A-line skirt. Instead of gathering the waist of the skirt I decided to go with about 2" box pleats. They are far from perfect, don't sew pleats when the kids are awake and messing with you. Trust me.
 I've been wanting a pleated skirt for a long while. I would have preferred it in brown, like a faux suede, but that wouldn't fit in with my clothes and probably wouldn't ever get worn. It may be better in a woven material than the knit, but it didn't require any extra purchases! It's not a "love it!" item, but it is sufficient for now. I discovered this fabric pills horribly after several washes, so this is just going to be a seasonal item. 


Grey Shorts


I was given some grey shorts and decided to add those in place of the pinstripe grey pants! They are super comfy, and perfect for our southwestern desert heat. I'm super excited to have these and have worn them quite a lot recently.


Mint Tank



I used some leftover fabric from Halloween this last year and made myself a knit top using Pattern 4 Pirates Layer Me Up Shirt cut as a tank. It is so nice and cool in our really warm weather though I don't know how long it is going to last since I had to get creative about cutting it out of the leftover fabric. (shame on me, I know) ... I have had a really bad case of forgetfulness and ended up having to restitch the neck binding on twice! I don't know what I was thinking messing up the ratios as bad as I did. No matter how hard you try quartering the binding is not going to match up with the shoulder seams. Gapped in the back and super stretched in the front just looks so bad! I almost didn't fix it, but so glad I realized there was just no pulling off a poorly attached neck binding.


Purple Tank

This fabric is leftover from a project I had intended to make for the girls but ended up not for some reason. It's from one of those buys where you just get yards upon yards and then never use it. But it was perfect for this project, and I have room to grow. It's the Pattern for Pirates Free Spirit Tank. Super comfy. Super slinky, and super stretchy. I might make another top out of this material. Goodness knows I have plenty of it!

Maxi Skirt


I switched out my mint cardigan for a flower print maxi skirt. I got this from a LulaRoe seller who was closing up shop and selling everything discounted (IMO that's the best time to buy LLR pieces because they are way too expensive!) And I love the material. Perfect in the summer heat!

Denim Capris


I traded out pants for these capris. I am thinking I would much prefer shorts. These, I thought I got rid of, came from a time of my life when I disliked showing off my thighs in public and refused to wear shorts. I have since discovered how much more comfortable shorts are and have gotten over my thigh insecurities.

I'm super happy with how these outfits are turning out so far... (forgive my not so good phone pics, I was rushing through naptime)


Seriously!? So many outfits from a 4X4 Wardrobe from Vivienne Files! And that's not even all of them! I missed the ponte pants with a couple of the shirts! I am impressed. Now to just work on styling with jewelry, changing out shoes, and my hair (cause I am so tired of a bun and so want a haircut!)! 

Now what?

I'm thinking the cardigans need to be switched out for something else. Just one was not enough and I don't need them for the weather we have now. At least that is what I am thinking. Another top in that color, or a tank so I have a sleeved and non-sleeved option. I will need to sit on that one a little bit more. But now that our temperatures have hit a high where layering is just too much with the heat, I am thinking switching them out will be best. A lot changes in two months! I need to work on these things faster! LOL!

Although, I did pick up some cute leafy green patterned olive semi-sheer knit (mystery, it was from Walmart).  I am thinking it would make a perfect kimono. I assume that would make a cute layering piece and if not a cute swim cover. Not that I ever go to the pool. I added it into the plan, but with the gray. I think it should change places with the cream. But isn't it lovely?


I am also thinking of trading out my ponte pants for another pair of shorts. I haven't been wearing those either, it's just too hot and I can't handle the heat right now!

Had you been working on some self-care sewing?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Read a Book: Curated Closet by Anushka Rees {Self-Care}

You walk into my closet in the morning and look around at all the clothes hanging, waiting to be worn. You blink a few times before deciding on something to grab. Only thing is, you don't want to wear any of the clothes in front of you. Or you go through multiple combinations before finally deciding on something to wear for the day, feeling completely dissatisfied with the selection you ultimately made. All the pieces in your closet were cheap easy buys you made because it was cute, or you liked it for the moment only to discover they don't work with anything else you own or you don't really like it as much as you thought.

Yeah. I've been there.

I'm still there. Kind of. It's getting better. Slowly. My capsule has helped a little bit.

I'm still searching out tips for working on your wardrobe. The hardest part is not having the budget for it, so I am limited. But that will not always be the case. At least I hope not. For you all, I hope that is not the case. It's fun going clothes shopping. Usually. Without kids.

I read this book recently. Curated Closet by Anushka Rees. I picked up the e-book from my library after having it on hold for forever!



I have to say, I really enjoyed it. I was going to try to move through it quickly (seriously the wait line at the library for it is so long!) and a friend was next in line. But this is so full of information for the wardrobe obsessed individual it makes it hard to just read. I had to take notes. I have a Trello board dedicated to the notes I have from this book.



And I feel that I need to go over it again. I haven't performed all the exercises she goes through in this book. And some I need to be more thorough with. The above picture is outfits that I have pinned in my summer and winter inspiration Pinterest boards. I still have yet to create a "mood board". It seems like a lot of work, but I think it may interesting later.

One of the activities is comparing the outfits you have to the typical activities you do during a 2 week period. These are a rough estimate for now. If I pulled everything out and categorized my thoroughly it would be more accurate. And if I created a section for costumes, because I kept all the Halloween Costumes from over the years, it would be more accurate!



Seriously. I go nowhere except pick up and drop off for the kids, and grocery shopping during the week! Maybe the occasional play date if I can get the kids out of the house in time. My life is so boring! I had to back it out a month because I *sometimes* am able to make it to a house evening with the girls or a quilt guild meeting. Though that would still count as "daytime" outfits and not necessarily semi-fancy as I have it sorted for the purposes of the above pie chart. (I did this in google sheets, super excited I figured that out!)
The current wardrobe is an interesting thing, especially in comparison to what I actually do during the day. Granted it is not as accurate as it could be. It includes dresses I have worn for weddings, clothes that I never touch, clothes that don't fit that for some reason I still cannot get rid of, and the small number of clothes that I actually wear (making a case for a capsule for myself I think?) I still have clothes from my working days; I stopped working to be a SAHM back in 2013! It's been 5 years! I am laughing at myself at the moment...

After looking through the outfits I would actually wear, and the clothes in my closet I do wear and using her book, these were the colors I came up with. After doing this it made me feel better about my mini capsule choices (read about it here and here).


I seriously had fun with working through the outfit formulas too.


Now, this would all be amazing if I took the time to actually discover all my different outfit combinations and ways to style them. She even talks about that too!

I think my most exciting takeaway is that this book gives you strategies to help build a wardrobe despite the trend of fast and cheap fashion. I have fallen to the ills of fast fashion with almost all of my wardrobe buys. I hope that this book and the strategies she suggests help me when I am at the store.

All the rest of the book is probably way more hassle than it's worth. But, I have enjoyed it!

So far I have not made any clothing purchases in the last few times I have been to the store because none of the items worked for my lifestyle or what I already have in the closet. I call that a win!

Do you have a wardrobe you love, or do you wish you could vamp it up somehow?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Making an Announcement {Motherhood}

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission only if you were to make a purchase at no extra cost to you. All views expressed are my own.

I have managed to keep this secret (kind of) from the social media world. Mostly my general facebook account and other media outlets. Yes, it has come out in some of the groups! It is so hard keeping something like this a secret! Especially when it feels so exciting! How long have you kept something a secret?


It was the beginning of December when I first suspected. It was way to soon to really tell, but I had a feeling. My husband just laughed at me when I told him, but I could see the wheels in his head turning.

We told the kids New Year's Eve. We weren't just celebrating the coming of a new year, but also celebrating...

the coming of a new...  Baby!


We are beyond excited!

We found out the gender a little over a month ago, and we couldn't be happier the baby looks healthy. The most important thing is a healthy baby.


I know Nikolai is beyond words excited he is getting a little brother!



2 of each.


Our little guy is due to arrive on or around August 24th.

I figured I should probably say something if I wanted to share some new items I am working on for a mini capsule (and the need for it since I got rid of most of my maternity clothes!) Oops!

Yes, I made the kids shirts! How could I not?! Especially after how much I loved these!


Nikolai's

GYCT Primary Tee. size: 6 in width and 8 in length. It is perfect.

Samara's

GYCT Tinley Tee. size: 4. I made it with the flutter sleeves and without the waist binding.

Kiera's

GYCT Tinley Tee size: 2 taken in a little in the width. Also with flutter sleeves and plain hemming.


Baby Boy

PAB Rompalls. size: newborn. Pants length. It seems so tiny and yet so big for a newborn!

I used a freezer paper stencil to make the design on the shirts (though I am wishing I had a machine that worked to cut some htv!).



I love these so much! I'm hoping we might be able to use the baby boy's as a going home outfit or something. Either way, I'm excited!

Bonus! GYCT is having a summer sale until the 20th! Perfect time to pick up the tinley and primary tee!


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Labyrinth Lap Quilt: Finally Finished {Quilting}

I have about 4-5 posts scheduled to go live on this blog. The only thing those posts are missing is the pictures to go along with the writing. Sadly, my little boy is not cooperative after pick-up from school. I am assuming he's just overtired. After all, it's been a long time since they got a break even with the recent teacher strike that went on. And some of the things I have to share are dependant upon the one post with the kids! I might need to rearrange the posts!

The Berry Bunch: Labyrinth Lap Quilt {Quilting}

I realized after the kids were making a fort because they used it, that I finished one of the quilts I set out to finish this quarter as part of the Finish-a-long! You can check out the goals I posted here. And I needed to take some pictures of it to share it with you! The camera was charged and ready to go! Pictures are going to happen!

The Berry Bunch: Labyrinth Lap Quilt {Quilting}

This pattern is called Labyrinth (not to be confused with Labyrinth Walk) and you can find it here. My mom picked it up to sew my brother a queen sized for his bed. I decided to give the lap size a try since it was simple. A selling point to this pattern was no y-seams or diamonds. At the time (over 5 years ago now!) I had not known how to do y seams. Yes. This has sat unfinished that long...

It's a great easy sew. All half square triangles.

The Berry Bunch: Labyrinth Lap Quilt {Quilting}

I attempted to get some up close of the quilting. I used it to practice my free motion quilting. I am going to have to practice more than once every few years if I plan or hope to make any improvements! Ha, but my writing is shaky enough as it is, there is probably not a ton of chance my movements with the machine will smoothen out!

The Berry Bunch: Labyrinth Lap Quilt {Quilting}

My favorite quilting was in the gold square surrounding the star and the purple parts to the star.

The Berry Bunch: Labyrinth Lap Quilt {Quilting}

The back shows the quilting a little bit better than the dark purple thread on purple...

The Berry Bunch: Labyrinth Lap Quilt {Quilting}

I did not originally plan on using this fabric for the back of this quilt. It really didn't have a purpose when I bought it, but I was not a fan of the two patterns together. For the sake of completion. I decided to go with it anyway. It's interesting. It's growing on me.

The Berry Bunch: Labyrinth Lap Quilt {Quilting}

But I think it contrasts well with the front even if I would rather not have used it as a backing.

The Berry Bunch: Labyrinth Lap Quilt {Quilting}

I hand stitched the binding too! Something I have practiced more than FMQ and it is so hard not to hand stitch a binding down. I think the finished look is just so much nicer! At least for me! Ha, squiggly binding anyone? No?

The Berry Bunch: Labyrinth Lap Quilt {Quilting}

The next morning (since I finished it after midnight) the kids had commandeered the quilt and promptly put it to use making forts. That tells me it's a win!

What finishes do you have so far this quarter?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Budgeting Back to School {HomeLife}

I kind of have been working on the back to school budget. Woah. Back to school what?!? It's only May!



I know. I actually worked on the budget back in February.

It was the "kinder round up" which prompted me deciding to start it then. Especially since Samara starts kindergarten in the next school year!

Our school year here in Arizona (and I am fairly certain it is most of the state) starts at the beginning of August. The district in which we live starts in the middle of July. It is a modified year-round, so our summer is shorter, but we get longer breaks.

Starting the budget for it in February gives 5 months to save up for buying the supplies, clothes and other necessities. It is easier to save earlier than to start saving later. Plus it is a bonus to plan for the cost non-sale items and have money left over.  I think after this next year I'll start saving right after the start of the year instead of only the 5 months I gave myself this year (this is all in theory anyway. I may forget! Ha!).

I'm fairly thankful our school has the supply shopping lists for each grade posted on the website. I don't know what my parents did in the time of no internet. I remember getting the shopping lists at school, was it at the end of school for the next year or at the beginning of the school year I do not remember. But I need so much more time than that to plan. It must be my type A personality. I'm just thankful I can access it anytime.

I used the list from the website and entered each item into a spreadsheet. I used google sheets because it's easy to access from my phone and computer straight from my google drive. The columns from there are the total of the item, running total to spend, what I spent per item, running total spend and the difference. Here is an example of the columns...


I did this for the optional items as well. If we can save up for those we would try, but I am not too worried about those.

To find the cost of the items, I went online and checked out Walmart, Office Max, and Target for their current cost of items. I'll be honest, some costs carried over from previous years and I didn't bother to check those. I tried to make it as up to date as I felt necessary. I'll see next year how much it changes.

I took the final tally and divided it amongst the paychecks between then and the start of the school year. And each kid has their own budget, they each get their own line.

It helps to keep up with what you spent the previous year. I did this for when my first started kindergarten as well and discovered I underbudgeted for some of his clothes. The difference for things like his backpack made up for the amount I was short (I only spent half), but I have since adjusted those overspent amounts. Tabs at the bottom help keep track of it.


This year I plan on working on keeping the kids with a capsule wardrobe (yup. love those things) to limit the number of clothes they have and so I do not need to spend too much money on things for them (and don't forget not having loads of laundry). Luckily, for now, they still have shirts that fit. Pants, shorts, and undergarments will be the biggest expenditure for clothes.

I'm excited. I love shopping for school supplies and new clothes.

I'm sure the way I do it is either harder than it has to be or too simple.

How do you budget for the school year?