Friday, May 31, 2013

Book View- "7: An Experimental Mutinty Against Excess"

Happy Friday!


Mr Sunny McSunster has not been making very many appearances as of late here in Minnesota, but he has decided to visit this morning.
How dang splendid of him!
I may have to go have a quick chit-chat with him to let him know he is welcome anytime.
Apparently this slipped his mind, as we have had very few days of sunshine for the past 2 months.
I have started to wonder if a Vampire-apocalypse is upon us?


If you have "liked" my page over on Facebook : House of Views,  you would have seen that yesterday I revealed a crazy little secret.....wait for of me wants to live in a smaller space. Much.Smaller.
Not a juicy secret but not something I guess I have ever revealed before, hahaha!
I posted a link to a blog I recently discovered about a family of 5 living in 665 square feet, a very charming, 665 square feet, might I add.
Click here to check out her blog. You will not be disappointed.

This blog got me thinking about how much we live with, that we could actually live without.
Then to my surprise & almost as if someone plopped it right in my lap, I received an email about a book:

If I had to sit down and judge myself, I wouldn't say that I have an excessive amount of material things. 
I do like things. Especially pretty things for my house but I would never consider myself a person of material excess. 
Clothes & Shoes? Eh, I could take 'em or leave 'em but they tell me I have to wear 'em so I do.
However, I keep both of those categories very simple and limited, because I do not enjoy shopping for either one.

If I really take the time to look at everything around me though, I know that compared to the world as a whole, I am a person of material excess.

I am not sure why I am being led in this direction?  Maybe it is the 3 toilets I clean on a regular basis or the 2000 square feet of carpet I vacuum 2 x's per week.... but I am running with it. 

Please don't take this the wrong way by thinking we are packing up shop and moving to a 1 room shack.
I am certain the B'Dog is not giving up his 3 car garage anytime soon, but just daydreaming about less stuff is enough......for now. 

I anxiously await the arrival of my book and plan on sharing my thoughts about it with you along the way.

Enough rambling... I am going to go take advantage of something that has not been excessive lately....Mr. McSunster.

Have a great weekend and always.......

Enjoy your View~

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Budget View- Part 5.0- I certainly am in a bind(er) now!

If you have been following along we are now on Part 5 of the Budget View series.
If not, and you need or want to catch up, here are links to all the "parts":
Needs vs Wants7 reasons to have a budgetThe Emergency Fund, & The Freedom Account.

Every once in a while I will throw in a random money saving tip/idea that will be typically listed under the Budget View, like : Why I don't have a smart phone....right now.

But today I am going to try and explain the "system" I use to keep track of our finances.
As you can see from the title of my blog post is Part 5.0. Reason being, I don't want this post to get too long and obnoxious, so the binder system will come in Parts 5.0 and 5.1.

This is NOT a high tech system. This is a system that works for my family. It may or may not work for yours. If you implement it and it works GREAT! If not, please know that there are several "systems" to keep track of your finances and budgets out in the World Wide Web. My suggestion is to find one that works for you. I am not a professional anything, so please do not sue me if my tips and ideas do not meet your standards."

OK, let's get on with this, shall we?

Materials I use for the "system" :

One 2 inch ,3 ring binder. 
You can find these in a lot of stores. I got mine at Target or if you shop online check out The one I use has pockets on the front and back inside cover. This is where I tuck my bills until they are due.

1-3 sets of  tab pocket dividers. There are many different brands of these. 
The amount you will need depends on how many bills you pay.
You will have one divider per company.

1 package of sheet protectors. 
I keep my insurance policies in these at the back of the 3 ring binder.
This way I know exactly where they are if I need them in a hurry.
Again, you will find all different brands depending on the store you go to.

A highlighter. 
I use this to highlight the bills on my printable calender when I have paid a bill for the month.
Fine point Sharpie marker.
I use this to write the name of the company that I will be paying my bill to on the tab of the pocket dividers.
A fine point pen would work as well.

3 ring hole punch. 
I use this to punch holes in my bills after they have been paid so I can file them under the corresponding pocket divider. I also use it on my free printables(see below) so they fit correctly in my 3 ring binder. 
This way the 3 ring binder stays very organized and the papers are not just floating around.

I have found some awesome free printables on some very helpful websites.
FYI: I have not created these myself. That is way more high tech than I am at this moment.
Just click the links and it should lead you to a version you can print out for yourself to have in your own binder. The ones I use are:
#1- Annual Bill Schedule
#2-The Freedom Account Page - I posted about that here.
#3-Monthly Budget
#4-Monthly Calender
#5-Birthdays & Anniversaries
#6-User Names & Passwords

Part 5.0 is all about the Materials I use in the binder system. Part 5.1 will be how I set up & use the binder system.
It really is super easy! And Yes, I know there are computer systems that are probably just as easy to use that basically do the same thing, but for some reason keeping it to pen and paper seems to keep me extra organized. I am not a real "techie" person, so I like to keep it simple.

I hope you are finding some of my tips helpful. I learned a lot of this financial stuff by reading other blogs, books, and Facebook pages.
It's fun to share what seems to work for my family. Hey,who knows, maybe what I share will help at least one of you out in bloggyville.

Enjoy the View~

Friday, May 24, 2013

BeautyView Friday- Wouldn't ya gnome it?

After a weeks worth of rain and dreary skies, my yard is in full bloom. So So pretty.
Now let's remember I am still fine tuning any skills I thought I might have with a DSLR camera.
I have none folks, nada, zilch.
So excuse some of my photos today, because it was cloudy, very dreary, and almost dark in a lot of these shots, and apparently I have no idea about there ya have it.
I was only going to do one shot but I want to show you what is blooming over at the homestead.

This is a little bush in my back yard that turns all firey red when it is full. Anyone know the name of it?

Here is one of hundreds of blossoms on my apple tree that I pray turns into hundreds of apples! Last year we got one lonely apple off of our tree because of a high wind storm that came through in June and took our other apple tree out. Of course it was the tree that had all the apples on it! Try not to notice the bad exposure in this picture, lol!

These are the flowers from my flowering crab apple trees. I have 3 of them. All white. I wish you had smell-e-vision...they smell delicious! The only down fall, they attract tent worms and I spotted a small nest yesterday at the top of one of the trees. Have to go clip and burn those little gross monsters today!

Last year we didn't get any lilacs. It was a very warm winter and things started blooming very early in Minnesota. Then we had a frost and it stunted all the lilacs and they never bloomed. Which is sad because they are so beautiful and fragrant.

Another thing that has sprouted up...little bitty Gnomes. Yep they took up residence not too long ago. They are pretty quiet neighbors, but I think they need to do a little sprucing up around the house. Their "chippy" little house has a lot of character, but their lawn needs to be mowed!

Speaking of lawns, ours dang near had to be bailed yesterday after a week of not being able to get out and mow it because it was too wet!
Everything is green and beautiful though, just like Minnesota should be!

Have a safe and blessed Memorial Weekend. Take time at your BBQ this weekend to remember all the Men and Women who sacrificed their lives for our country and to also.......

ENJOY the View~

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Budget View- Has anyone smelled my Burner phone around?

Before you start to judge, hear me out.....I am NOT carrying this around :

But I kinda think it would be funny to pull one of these suckers out in a public place, start chattin' it up and see how many people stopped to stare. Especially the generation that has NO idea what the heck it even is!
The good ol' phone in a was so 007 at the time, wasn't it?

But I do carry this(when it's charged):

To those with an untrained eye, this is NOT a smart phone{insert sarcasm here}.
It is a prepaid Tracfone aka Burner phone(as a lovely friend of mine once referred to it).

Let me list a few of the reason why I do not get "smart" about my phone.

#1- I cannot stand to be in "contract" as a customer. 
The contract concept has been a thorn in my side for years. I think it is ridiculous that we, as customers, are slaves to one company's service for 2 years! These companies act like they are doing us a favor?
UM excuse me BUT doesn't the consumer pay for your BILLION dollar mansion?

#2- Dude! I got bigger fish to fry. 
OK so everyone has different fish to fry. 
My main fish, is to get and keep my family debt free!
We have 2 debts(car loan & camper loan) yet to pay off besides our 2 mortgages(one is a rental property, one is our homestead).
I am not sure what the going rate is for a data plan/cell bill on a smart phone, but I am guessing an average family that have smart phones, in the USA, pay $100 or more a month for these plans?
If I had to make an educated estimate on how much we pay as a family on our 2 "burner" phones, I would say about $250 total per year.
That brings me to a $950 savings that we can put towards our debt! 
And yes, if you are wondering, we do pay more than the minimum payment required on the 2 debts I mentioned above. 
I just cannot justify a high monthly cell phone bill, especially if things get tight in the finances from month to month. 
Right now it is just not on my needs list.

#3- I would be an addict.
Yep I know my limits. I would be on that dang smart phone all.the.time! And some days "those" people, really irk me.
In all honesty though, smart phones are sooooooo cool.
I literally cannot believe that we have all that technology right at our fingertips if we so choose.
Talk about 007!
And we totally take it for granted. I mean, I literally hear people gripe about how slow their smart phone is running. SAY WHAT? Who the? What the? Yeah, I got nothing for those people.

I'm not saying we will never get a smart phone. Who knows, tomorrow I may wake up and think "Hey, today is a great day to become a slave to a smart phone!" and run out to the nearest mobile phone store and purchase one. B'Dog says I am fickle like that, remember?

When that day does come I will search high and low for a phone plan that doesn't consist of signing a 2 year contract. I know they exist even with data plans.
But as of right now I have not found the need for it.
You can be certain when it becomes a "need", I will be doing my research to find the best option for our family.

Remember to put your neat little smart phone away once in awhile and.......


Monday, May 20, 2013

Food View- Keep Calm & Make Coffee

I love the taste, I love the smell, and I love the warmth.....

I wouldn't say I am coffee dependent, however I would say I like a good cup of Joe in the morning and sometimes mid afternoon to perk things up a bit.
Honestly though, I think it is a comfort thing. 
It just feels home-y. 
For all you coffee drinkers out there, I suspect you know what I mean?

And the real good news here, there are supposed health benefits, besides an energy boost, to drinking coffee!
Don't sue me if these prove to be untrue in 20 years, but after some reading these are the "bennys" I found:
Lowers my risk of death from heart disease, diabetes, prostrate cancer(this is not a big concern to me, but if you are a man this is a great benefit), and endometrial cancer. 
Also, coffee drinkers are more likely to resist development of dementia and Alzheimer's. 
Apparently these benefits are linked to the high antioxidant levels in coffee.

Beware: What you add to your coffee can make it into a cup o' crap!

In the past I was a coffee creamer junkie. Seriously, we could whip through a container of this within a week:

Even though I loooovvvveee the taste, I wised up a bit, read the label, and decided I wanted to cut down on my chemical consumption. 
Here is a chemical ingredient label for the coffee creamer I use to use:

Non-Dairy Product Ingredients: Water, Cane Sugar, Corn Syrup, Palm Oil (Adds an Insignificant Amount of Fat), Contains Less than 1% of Less of Each of the Following: Carrageenan, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Mono and Diglycerides (Adds an Insignificant Amount of Fat), Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (Adds an Insignificant Amount of Fat), Salt, Dipotassium Phosphate, Polysorbate 60 (Adds an Insignificant Amount of Fat), Sodium Caseinate (Sodium Caseinate is Not a Source of Lactose) (a Milk Derivative), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Artificial Color.

Um, what?

So I stopped using my beloved, chemical & sugar laden coffee creamer, and started drinking my coffee black. 
And it was just fine black, but I was missing my creamer.
If I didn't have a mild dairy allergy, I would have just switched over to real cream, and not the fat-free stuff either! FULL FAT BABY!(click here to read about my view on healthy fats)
But dairy was not an option unless I really wanted to be in pain the rest of the day :(
BOO to food allergies!

Then I was introduced to Full-Fat, organic coconut milk(click link to see where I get this brand)!!

Get a load of the ingredients:
Organic coconut milk (organic coconut, water, organic guar gum).

Just a tad healthier? I would say so! 
I can actually pronounce and recognize all the ingredients. SCORE!

Now in the morning(and/or afternoon) I take my coffee with 2 Tbsp of Organic Coconut Milk. 

I, myself happen to like the taste of coconut. I know not everyone likes the flavor but in all honesty it really is mild in taste.
*Just a note, this is unsweetened. 
After a week or so I lost my craving for sweetened creamer after I quit adding the chemical laden creamer to my coffee.
If you really need  it sweet, try out some Stevia or a smidge of organic cane sugar.

Take the time to pour yourself a cup and......

Enjoy the View~

Friday, May 17, 2013

Food View- whats a weekly grocery shopping trip looks like up in here?

I am quite certain that the first grocery store I ever stepped in was Red Owl, owned by the Huber's at the corner of Church and Meridian Street here in Small Town, USA. 
Isn't this such a cool vintage photo? Even though it is not the Red Owl I use to know, it still brings back some memories.

It kind of makes me sad to think that kids of this generation will only know grocery shopping at Wally World or Target Boutique(said with a French accent), and not really get a home town feel when they walk into their local grocery store.

I admit, I have shopped all the big box stores for groceries and still do once in awhile. Lately though I have been trying to keep it smaller, more local. It is a challenge to find small & local, but it's there, and it can really be worth it. 
I try to keep my grocery budget at about $150 a week, give or take(mostly give) a few dollars. Unless we are having company or a special occasion then I usually budget for more.

My first local stop was Cedar Summit Farm. This is a great organic farm! They raise grass fed beef and have a store/creamery right there on site. They carry a nice selection of meat & dairy products with a few extra things tossed into the mix.
You are probably wondering if grass fed, organic products are more expensive?.......Yes they are. 
But here is the pay off, they are super high quality, high in essential fatty acids, high in CLA(conjugated linoleic acid) and very low in chances of contracting E.Coli. I also do not have to worry about my daughter getting any added hormones through food. Lord knows, we don't need to add to that brewing disaster!

Here is what I bought at the Farm:
1/2 gallon Whole,Grass fed Milk-, 2 dozen pastured chicken eggs( jumbo, and xtra large), 1 bottle of local maple syrup( total splurge @ $10.99!), Ferndale Italian sausage(Turkey) , 2 lbs of grass fed ground beef, 1 lb of Kalona grass fed butter.

Farm Total: $42.09

Next Stop: the local Coborns. 
Lately I have been finding myself doing most of my "non Farm" food item shopping there. They have a great selection for a small town grocery store. Yes the prices are higher than Wally World, but when it comes to the price of gas and the price of my sanity, I think staying local is a great choice! 
Now, before you try to bust me out, I do still purchase some craptastic foods. It's not all organic or "real". We are not perfect, never will be and sometimes it is hard to get a B'Dog to do new tricks....if you know what I mean. Honestly I can't blame it all on the B'Dog...I like chocolate(all kinds) and Lily likes....well...anything with sugar. It's a total work in progress folks!

OK let's get on with it:

Produce: Bananas, Strawberries, grapefruits, snap peas, kale(going to try making kale chips per my cousin Kristi), green onions, and red potatoes.

Bread: 100% Whole Wheat(Bruce & Lily) & Ezekiel bread(for me)
Meat: 1 bag of shrimp, 1 package of sandwich meat, 1 package of Applegate bacon, 
3 packages of Bare chicken breasts
Staples: Rice vinegar, corn starch(I was looking for arrow root powder because I want to stop using corn starch but the store did not have it. Will have to look online for it), long grain brown rice, long grain white rice, and cashews
Home made pizza fixings: Turkey pepperoni, and Mozzarella cheese. 
I am on the hunt for healthier versions of both.

Junk Snacks: M&M's and peanuts to make trail mix, Food Should Taste Good multigrain chips, Annie's white cheddar bunnies, and plain ripple generic potato chips.

Coborns TOTAL: $109.92

For a Grand Total of  $152.01!

Not too bad, right? I know I could work on getting a little more of the super junkie processed stuff out of our diets and finding better alternatives. I am trying, really, really hard. Isn't it scary that this is a vast improvement from how we use to eat?
Maybe next time I will have some substitutions included. Provided I can find them :)

I always love to peek in and see what other are doing for meals....maybe sometime down the road I will include what our menu looks like for the week. Would that be something that interests you?

Thanks for visiting my kitchen.

Enjoy the View~

Food View Friday (cue the Marky Mark music please)- Ya Oil ready for this?


Yep, this week I am changing it up a little bit.
Usually it's BeautyView on Fridays and for anyone that is new here BeautyView is where I take out my fancy-nancy camera(that I am learning how to use and still not real good with) and look for something I find beautiful that week and post the snap shot.... BUT  I only had my camera out once this week(shameful, right?) and it was to take pictures of Miss L at softball practice.
I know I  never get tired of seeing pictures of her, but she's not yours.....and I don't want to wear out her welcome.
Of course she will make more than just one appearance here, no worries :)

 Instead I am posting about the cooking oils I use in my kitchen.

Disclaimer: I have a long way to go as far as weight loss, getting in shape, and true healthy eating...but I am taking steps that are working for me. Adding healthy fat back into my daily diet is one step that has worked in my favor. Since I have quit counting fat grams and stopped eating low-fat/no-fat foods, I have lost 10 lbs!!

How can that be, you ask? When the SAD(Standard American Diet) tells us we need to be eating low fat to curb the obesity epidemic? Maybe we have been misinformed all these years?

There is so much information out there, and it can be quite overwhelming, but I found that replacing certain oils with healthier versions has worked for me. Another huge benefit when I added healthy fats back into my diet: I stayed full longer! Apparently this leads me to eating less...what a brilliant concept!

So out with the unhealthy oils like: vegetable oils, Crisco, and any non-butter spreads or sprays like "I can't believe it's not Butter".

Disclaimer: I am not going to go around pretending to be a health expert because clearly I am not. And I won't pretend I NEVER consume vegetable oils because obviously if we go out to eat, I have little to no control over what kind of oils the restaurant uses. But I do have the control to use healthier versions when I cook at home, right?

And that brings us to the oils I always keep handy in my kitchen.

Oh I love my coconut oil! So many uses and benefits. In my kitchen I use this for baking, cooking, and sauteing.

I use this for marinades, homemade salad dressings, and low heat sauteing. 
This particular EVOO has a very strong, distinct flavor so when I make a homemade salad dressing or marinade I usually mix it with my next go to oil #3:

I use this sparingly because it mainly contains Omega 6 fatty acids, which we get too much of in our SAD(Standard American Diet). When I run out of sunflower oil I am going to try avocado oil next because it has less Omega 6 fatty acids & more Omega 3's!
I like sunflower oil because it does not have a strong flavor, which makes it great for homemade salad dressings and marinades. 
Once in awhile I will use it to saute things if I do not want the EVOO or Coconut oil flavor. 
I would use butter but because I have a mild dairy allergy I try to stay away from butter when I will be consuming the food I am making. 
BUT that does not mean I don't use butter in my kitchen for B'Dog and Miss L.

Who doesn't LOVE butter?
It has gotten such a bad rap over the past couple decades but butter is making a HUGE comeback, as it very well should! 
I use butter mostly for my family's benefit by adding it on top of pancakes & waffles, on toast & sandwiches, on steamed veggies, in homemade baked goods, ect.
As I said before I do have a mild dairy allergy, but on occasion I will still consume butter, even if I pay for it later...naughty me!

And THAT'S IT! Those are the oils I use. 
Pretty simple, pretty healthy, and pretty dang tasty!
Do yourself, your family, and your taste buds a flavor favor...add the healthy fats back into your kitchen!

Happy Friday Y'All!

ENJOY the View~

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Budget View-Part 4-The Freedom Account

Today is part 4 of my budget series. So far we have covered:

Today I would like to touch on The Freedom Account.
It is a bit of the Emergency Fund and a few other categories rolled into one.

I got this great idea from Kimberlee at The Peaceful Mom
Her blog has so many inspiring money saving & budgeting ideas. 
If you are a nerd like me, you could spend hours there! 
Her family of 6 lives on $28,000 a year (Click the link and check out her series on this subject.)!! 

I don't think living on $28,000 a year is for everyone, however you may just find one gem in a blog post that helps you manage your money a bit better like I did when I found her post about The Freedom Account(click this link to read all the details on how to start your own Freedom Account).
This is Kimberlee's system for managing regular and irregular expenses. It has really helped me maintain a successful budget from month to month.

There are a couple things I do differently:
#1- Kimberlee suggests having 2 checking accounts. I have a checking account and a savings account at the same bank so I can transfer money to and from each account with ease.
#2- I have my Emergency Fund listed as one of my Freedom Account categories.
#3- I use this account for all my irregular expenses. The categories I have listed right now are:
Emergency Fund, Car Maintenance & Tabs, Tires for Vehicles, Vacation, Garbage Pickup(every 3 months), Braces(Miss L gets them on this summer), Medical Expenses(co-pays & bills), and Christmas.

These are expenses that could break my budget if I didn't put away some money for each category with every paycheck. Realistically, I don't put away money every  paycheck but I do try to stick some money in my Freedom Account every month and disperse it evenly. 
I am working towards the point where I am disciplined enough to do it every 2 weeks.
Just remember your categories might be completely different than mine.

Just like My Emergency Fund, the Freedom Fund brings me complete peace of mind that I will not have to be a slave to credit card debt! 

I plan to show you my bill paying system in my next Budget View post. I know a lot of people use a computer program to keep track of their bills, but I find putting a pen to paper helps me to keep things organized better. Who knows maybe someday I will upgrade to a more technologically advanced system but for now, I'm keepin' it old school.

Enjoy your View~

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Food View...I roasted a chicken and I liked it....the taste of its tender breast meat

Are all of you singing that blog title?
I know I was when I finally, for the very first time, roasted a whole chicken, by myself!

Yes, I am at a certain age where everyone who is anyone probably wonders: "She's never roasted a chicken?"
Nope, No I have not thank you very much.
Until a couple days ago.
See I use to never even eat meat with bones still in it.
Until I got "edumacated" on how much goodness all the bones hold.
Do I eat the bones? 
Um, no. 
Because that would be totally crossing the line for me.
However when I have used up all the chicken meat, I throw them bones into a pot of water with some onions, carrots, celery, garlic, salt and a little Apple Cider Vinegar(to extract the goodness from the bones) and make a killer pot of chicken broth. I will save all the details on my chicken broth for another post. It definitely deserves it's own glory!

So let's get on to this fabulously simple roasted chicken and the recipe I used.....just in case you are in the same boat as me and have not taken the step to roast your own.

I start with a whole chicken, preferably organic, pasture raised.
Make sure it is completely cleaned out on the inside. They already do that for me where I purchase mine, THANK THE LORD!

I then put the chicken in a pan deep enough to roast it and to catch all the juices. I rubbed the inside of my chicken with 2 garlic cloves and 1 TBSP of Italian Seasonings. 
If you do not have a mixed Italian Seasoning use 1 tsp of thyme, 1 tsp of rosemary, and 1 tsp of oregano.
Then I rubbed the outside of my chicken with Olive Oil, salt, and pepper. I made sure the breast side was face down. I heard somewhere that it stays more tender that way(and it did).

At this point I already have my oven preheated to 450 degrees. 
Roast chicken at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes turn your oven down to 400 degrees and roast your bird for another 35-45 minutes(for a 2-2 1/2 lb-er) or 60 minutes (for a 3-5 lb-er).
I also made sure the breast of the chicken had an internal temp of 165 degrees or more when I took it out of the oven.

And this here is the finished product Folks. 
Crispy and Juicy!
For our family of 3 this can turn into at least 2-3 meals. So I don't get too wound up about the price of my organic, pasture chicken. 
You can serve it with a side of rice, baked potato, or fried potato & veggies.
Turn it into chicken salad sandwiches the next day or add it to salad greens with any type of fixings you want.
Then for the final meal I make soup: chicken dumpling, chicken noodle, or chicken & rice.

It is super easy, super simple, super economical, and super delicious.
If you have not tried it, go for it!

And while dinner is roasting, kick your feet up and.............

Enjoy the View~

Friday, May 10, 2013

BeautyView Friday...the most beautiful thing I ever had a hand in making....

There is nothing I find more true as we approach Mother's Day.
I may have made a lot of mistakes in my life, but being a Mom was not one of them.

Last night was my daughter's music program at school. I pulled out my fancy-nancy camera and caught a couple candid shots of her laughing and playing her recorder for the program.
The shot of her laughing cracks me up because it is totally her! In all her natural, goofy, crooked toothed glory. She gives the world beauty every time she laughs.

The program was great, even if there were a few notes squeaked out at the wrong time.
That Girl amazed this Mama at how quickly she can learn something new.
Reading notes never came easy to me.
If you ask my BF Paula, she would tell you that she had to write the letter of the notes on all of my sheet music just so I would play the right one when it came to playing the recorder and guitar in school.

When I was pregnant with Miss L, I imagined that she was going to do great things in this world.
I still do....because everyday she does.

Thank you God, for picking ME to be Miss L's Mama!

Happy Mother's Day!

Enjoy your View~

Monday, May 6, 2013

Budget View- Part 3- The Emergency Fund

Even if you are on a limited budget and only have a few pennies left over when all the bills are paid for the month, you can still create an Emergency Fund so you do not have to rely on credit or go into debt when an emergency presents itself.

Remember that the point of this Budget View series is to help anyone who wants it. These are the things that work for my household. It may or may not work for yours. Take what may apply and work for your family and leave the rest.

Dave Ramsey is a well known finance coach, and has authored a great book called:

Lots of great advice on how to get out of and stay out of debt.
I read this book a couple years back when I checked it out at my local library. It really changed the way I looked at our financial situation and how to really take control of it. If you have the time I highly suggest finding a copy and reading it. You may find something to implement that will help you and your family find financial peace.

One of the steps from Dave's book that I immediately implemented was his Baby Step 1- finding a way to get $1000 into an emergency fund. 

About 4 years ago we decided to not have a major credit card any longer. We never let our credit card debt get away from us BUT we were at the point in our lives where paying that payment every month and never seeing the balance budge was just a bad reminder of money mistakes we made over the past few years. When we got our tax refund that year we paid off the entire balance and cut up the card for good! 

Building the $1000 emergency fund was not necessarily a quick process but we tried to build ours up as quick as we could in case something unforeseen popped up and we needed access to quick money.
It really is not a matter of IF  an emergency situation will happen it is a matter of WHEN  it will happen.

Having an emergency fund will soften the blow a little bit when things like unexpected job loss, a medical emergency, or home & car repairs happen.
This way you will not be creating any new debt by taking out a loan or using a credit card. 
If you are in debt you will have a feeling of security with an emergency fund in place because you know you will not be adding to the debt you are working so hard at paying off.

The best way to begin is by opening up a savings account and have it taken out of your pay check automatically. This will give you pretty quick access to your money when that emergency does arise.
If you feel like you are not much the saving type, start small. 
Let's be honest we don't miss the $5 we spend at the local coffee shop a time or two a week for our morning pick-me-up, do we?. $10 a week or $20 bi-weekly adds up faster than you think and you hardly notice the difference in your pay!

Remember building an Emergency Fund is a great way to break the cycle of debt. It also gives you a better chance at having a budget that really works for your household and brings you the peace of mind you deserve.

Enjoy the View~

Friday, May 3, 2013

BeautyView Friday- a tree...and it's buds

It's that time again..... Beautyview Friday!
This is all about taking the time to look around and find something I think is beautiful during the week and capture it with my fancy-nancy camera(that I still have no idea how to use, but am reading up on it).

I think this is especially important because most of us live in what is considered a fast paced society.

Remember slowing down and really drinking in the beauty that God provides for us is not only polite(to the Big Guy) but it's FREE.

This is a little red maple tree in my front yard that gets most of its glory in the fall when the leaves turn a vibrant shade of red.
I never took the time to notice how beautiful the buds were in the spring on this same exact tree. 
They look like miniature flowers and that makes my heart happy today!

Have a great weekend and.....


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Budget View Part 2- Budget isn't a naughty word and 7 reasons to have one

WHAT? You mean to tell me you don't have one of these growing in your backyard? 
Apparently my parents didn't either. I heard the phrase, "Money doesn't grow on trees kid" more times than I care to admit. 
So I decided things were going to be different when I grew up and had my own yard. 
I was going to find that elusive money tree and make sure I planted a grove of them......guess what? 
Things are not so much different now that I have a family and I am the grown up PLUS  I never found that dang tree. 

Instead I had to figure out how to make our financial situation work for my family. My husband would rather bring home the bacon and leave it to me to figure out how to fry it up in a pan. (I know people of a certain era are singing the Enjoli perfume commercial right now). So I have been designated the CFO of our family.

With that title comes a lot of I had to think of some good reasons to actually have and try to follow a budget to the best of my abilities.
When I really thought about them these were the seven I came up with: 

#1-Take Control-
I hate to admit it, but I would be lying if I didn't, I am a bit a control freak. When it comes to the control freak spectrum I am on the very low end of it and most of the time it is about things that are out of my control anyway.... BUT you can see how this "TAKE CONTROL" reason for a budget would be very enticing for a self-proclaimed control freak, right? 
Taking control of your budget means that your money no longer controls you! It puts you back in the drivers seat. If you happen to have a spending problem this will help you avoid overspending.

#2-Prepare for Emergencies 
Surprises & emergencies are inevitable in life. And in the financial realm emergencies usually equal finding a source for quick money. The source is either a credit card or a savings account. I like to call the latter an emergency fund. We all know where credit cards take us...usually right down the old highway to hell if we are not completely disciplined to pay the balance off at the end of each month. But having an emergency fund is like a little security blanket that keeps us all warm and fuzzy at night knowing it is there for the "just in case" moments. I will talk more about the emergency fund in a future post.

#3-Reduce Arguments
I have always made it a goal to try and never argue with the B'Dog about money. Have we had a 100% success rate with this goal? 
I will say this though, the arguments are few and far between and I give credit to the budgeting system we have in place. I have heard that money woes are the #1 reason marriages fail.....I wonder how many marriages could be saved if both parties sat down and developed a budget that worked for them?

#4-Get more shut eye
How many times have you or your partner lied awake at night worrying about money, resulting in lost hours of precious sleep, which Americans get to little of anyway? 
Lack of sleep leads to crabbiness, crabbiness leads to arguments and we all know where the arguments lead....sometimes if left unchecked they lead to D-I-V-O-R-C-E(if you are married that is). 
Using a budget will hopefully give you the peace of mind so you are not lying awake at night and wearing crabby pants in the morning.

#5-Help Save Money for Fun Stuff
I told you that budget should not be a naughty word. 
And following one should never prevent you from having fun.
Typically because we have a budget we become more conscious about how and what we spend our money on. Impulse shopping becomes a thing of the past, but if we slip up once in awhile, a budget lets us quickly see where we are overspending and we can correct it quickly.
This in turn leads to being able to afford all our needs and freeing up some extra cash to spend some money on our wants. It could be a family vacation you have always dreamed of, or a new golf club you have been eyeing up. How about the massage your back has been screaming at you to go get or the 2nd new motorcycle tire of the year that you want to purchase before the season comes to an end? 

#6-Work Less
I know some people that work 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet. I understand that this has become more commonplace in the past 5 or so years because of America's economy. But honestly in a lot of cases if we all would  just take some time and create a budget and do our best to follow it, we might not have to work so hard. Wouldn't you rather spend time with your friends & family, and have fun doing all the activities you love? 

#7- Give More
I know that sometimes we all feel like we should be someone else's charity case because we can't seem to find two nickles to rub together BUT consider this....I was once told that if you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world. 
Now, I don't know how accurate that is, but if it is true, that means YOU and I, are richer than 5 BILLION people! 
I'll let you sit on this for a second...........
There are soooooo many opportunities to give. 
I will admit, I really need to work on this step too. 
I give, when I am presented with an opportunity to give, but sadly, it is rarely at the forefront of my mind.
If you are like me, then you want to know that every cent of your charitable contribution is going toward the cause and not the President of a non profit organization or a corrupt foreign government. I make sure if I am giving to organizations that I do a little homework on them to find out how the money is allocated.
There are many people who can benefit from our generosity in our own community.......families affected by cancer that cannot pay their electric bill this month, a Dad that just lost his job and now the family has to resort to the food shelf this month to feed the kids, a young  Mom loses her husband in a tragic accident and struggles to get through her daily grief much less make their children dinner that night.
I have had loved ones benefit greatly from wonderful, giving people and it meant the world to them and helped them through a very difficult time. 

My challenge for all of us this week is to find a cause that tugs at our own heart strings. Make a donation, And don't tell anyone what you did. Let that warm feeling of giving be enough applause. We don't always need a pat on the back for the good things we do. 
Just remember $1, $5, or $100...Every.Little.Bit.Helps. 

I hope one of the reasons I listed above strikes a cord with one of you who is on the fence about creating your own budget. Or try to find your own reasons to budget for you and your family. Once you find the freedom it gives, you will wonder why you waited so long.

Enjoy the View~

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Simple View of my skin care routine

At the beginning of the year, instead of the good old New Year's Resolution I decided to instead try to apply A Word to my life......

It's not that I think my life is complicated, by any means.... but there is always room for improvement and elimination, even if it is something small. Stream lining my skin care routine is one way to make life a little more simple AND affordable.

As of right now, I use 3 very well working, economical products, that are super easy to use.

All descriptions have links listed to take you right to the particular product.

1. Norwex Body Cloth (click link)
This is a dual task performer! As you cleanse you are exfoliating as well. I really love this cloth.
Norwex also claims their microfiber has antibacterial qualities because a silver agent is woven throughout the fabric. TRIPLE PLUS!
If you do not have a friend or family member that is a Sales Rep for Norwex you are more than welcome to contact mine: Amanda @

2. Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap (click link)
This is a very mild soap made with coconut, olive, hemp, and jojoba oils. All of the oils used in these products are certified organic. Dr. Bronner's has a large line of products and many different "flavors" of Castile soap. 
I happen to like this one because it is fragrance free which works well for people with allergies and sensitive skin.
Pair this with the Norwex cloth & a little water and it takes water proof mascara off beautifully!
I have also seen this product at Target in the natural skin care isle.

3. Coconut Oil (click link) 
(I transferred from my store bought jar to the little purple lidded Tupperware container pictured above, because I also use a lot of coconut oil in the kitchen and I didn't want any cross contaminating going on, that would just be GROSS!)

OH Folks, I could go on and on about coconut oil and it's amazing benefits for days BUT for this particular post I will just talk about how I use it as a moisturizer for my face.
My first thought when someone suggested I try Coconut Oil on my face was like "There is NO WAY I am going to put oil on my face...I have break outs lady, my skin is oily enough! Eeeekkk!"
So I did what I always do, and I googled it. 
I was in full on research mode. 
After the 125th review I read about how this is a "must-have product" for your skin care routine, I headed out to my local grocery store and purchased this "fountain of youth in a jar".
I am happy to report that I now have fewer break outs than I did pre-coconut oil. I give all the credit to the anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties that it possesses. 
One of the best things, It is ONE ingredient! Unlike the other moisturizers I have been using all these years that contained 20 or more ingredients that I could not pronounce. 
*A word of caution, make sure you are buying PURE & Unrefined coconut oil. This will ensure you are not going to have problems with your pores clogging and causing break outs.
Great for ALL skin types!

See, so simple! 2 basic steps: Cleanse/Exfoliate with Norwex cloth and Dr Bronner's Castile soap, and moisturize with coconut oil. 
Not only are these products VERY affordable, but they are all free of harsh chemicals and very earth friendly.

Keep in mind, the last thing in life that needs to be complicated is your skin care routine. 

Take a a really good look in the mirror today, appreciate what God gave you, and.....

Enjoy the View!