Thursday, March 14, 2013

An "Envelope System" for the Modern Spender

I wish I could say I have my shit together.  A lot of things I do:  Me and my Mr are doing amazing,  I love our life-style moving around a lot (no we are NOT military), household, relationships, etc.  Things I don't:  My crafts (a bit disorganized, but hey you can't contain the creativity) & The Budget. Like most people I use my debit card; for EVERYTHING.  I also read a lot of articles/blogs/Dave Ramsey, on the envelope system.  In fact I just started a new board on Pinterest for Money Advice - yes it get it's OWN board!  I wish it would work for me, but I don't feel comfortable carrying that much cash for the month around with me, nor am I able to really plan how much might be needed.  So I continue in my old ways, swiping my debit card and over-spending only to be saved by the next weeks' paycheck.

I am always looking for better ways to budget and look at ours WEEKLY, but yet I can't seem to get it under control; UNTIL TODAY.  I think I have found a "system" that will work for me.  It all started because I pinned something, then decided to follow 4 other boards dealing with money advice, which lead me to board surfing and I came across this idea from Melissa over at A Bowl Full of Lemons.  To be honest, I didn't even read the blog post :| (oops) but I got this amazing idea, carry budget categories with me!  The printables are no longer available for free so I had to get creative.  I am fairly savvy with Excel, I use it for my budget and have played with all sorts of options.  It really wasn't too hard.  I played around with the cell size, margins, page layout (4X6 index card), etc until I got them to fit on my pretty note cards I couldn't pass up at Staples.  (There's a hint of my color obsession again.)

I created my categories based on how I spend money:
Groceries/Restaurant (I put these together because at the end of the month, if there isn't money left to go out to eat, clearly we would have plenty of food to eat at home)
Household/Personal Care (this would be my Target shopping, and Pampered Chef - being a consultant  I tend to add my commission back INTO my business)
Henry & Percy (These two are the loves of our lives and we tend to go crazy at the pet store on toys and treats, we need to budget in vet visits (shots next week!), boarding, food, and yes - more toys)
Discretionary (Everyone needs to have money they can blow on the little things that make them happy, helps keep you focused if you're paying off major debt {Like us-Thank you Student Loans.}  This can be $10, whatever might make you happy)
Entertainment (For us, this is our social fund - Drinks with friends, impromptu bowling and beer, movies, etc)
Gas/Maintenance (We are down to one vehicle with no payment [my Mr has a work truck] and this is my around town, visit friends, run errands and travel to see family-fund)

Yes, you could hard write these out and they would work just as well.  I was pretty proud that I was able to get them printed on the note cards, damn near perfect.

There you have it, my 6 categories.  I have suck a positive feeling about my new habit.  It won't take but a few moments back at the vehicle, or at home, to stay up-to-date on these modern-day-spender envelopes. 

Off to dinner to celebrate my new Budget! :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weighing in on the "Best Bars Ever"

So as I watch the second to last episode of The Biggest Loser I decided I wanted to make dessert.  Over the weekend we had a very down-played snow storm.  I didn't leave the house today, NOR did I get dressed.  The snow-day perk of being a housewife. (I will note: my Mr. rarely comes home to me in my pjs.)

My goal is to make supper with items I have already bought (buying very few ingredients to pull it all together), so tonight was Creamy Pesto Chicken with Linguine. It's from Pampered Chef, if enough as for it I will share the recipe, but onto dessert!

On Pinterest, when anyone claims "the Best _____ Ever"  I feel the need to challenge them.  This time it was "the Best Bars Ever."  I found the recipe at Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

I would like to petition Pinterest (love you, Pinterest) to add a search function that allows you to search YOUR boards.  Many times I know I have pinned something and want to have that exact pin but have to search through 100's to find it. And while we are at it, I would like to petition Pinterest to make subBoards.  Like Recipes: Desserts, Recipes: Drinks THEN make it super easy and fast to organize them into sub categories.   

So back to the "Best Bars Ever."  I tried the batter as I was making the bars and it was pretty damn good.  And my verdict?!?  You'll have to make them and judge them for yourself because when it comes down to it, it's all a matter of opinion, but I will be making these a regular at my house.  :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Color Obsession: Cloth Napkins

I love color.  Any day of the week you can find me wearing tie dye.  I couldn't decide on a single color of dishes so I am going with Fiestaware.  I just went to the website to get the link, BIG mistake, found out they have NEW products - soap/lotion dispenser!  NOT TO MENTION A NEW COLOR - Lapis, available in June.  I CANNOT WAIT!  It's a collection in progress.  I plan on getting this new color, along with MORE of the retired 75th anniversary color - Marigold. I love LOVE love my dishes.  They make a for a fun dinner party. 

My future sister-in-law LOVES color as much as I do, so much so that she added "anything rainbow" on her Christmas list.  My very talented Mom decided that she would find her cloth napkins (I should note we are a family of hippies, hate the waste of paper products.) Mom found a set of napkins but also found really cute material to MAKE her some napkins.  

Long ramble made short:  I WAS JEALOUS.  I just had to have some too!  I went to my local quilt shop and found these amazing fat quarters (a FQ is a half yard, cut in half)  
The Prettiest Fat Quarters You've Ever Seen
Mom came for a weekend visit, sewing machine in hand, and we went to work.  She looked up how to do a mitered-corner napkin.  She found her how-to over at Prudent Baby: Mitered-Corners.  Because of my color obsession, I couldn't decide on my napkins, so I have 14 different colors, times 2, so 28 napkins to make.  

**I will tell you of a super awesome trick Mom taught me during this process; it adds some time to the whole process but makes the ironing way less stressful.  On your machine, sew a 1/2" allowance all the way around the FQ, THEN 1" IN FROM the 1/2", sew another line all the way around the FQ.  When you get to your ironing board, all you have to do is iron, NO measure as you go, you already have it marked out.  You could draw your lines, would be faster and save on the extra thread but I don't have disappearing fabric pen and wanted to get my napkins started.  Also removing the stitches once ironed, you don't have to worry about the fabric pen washing out.**  (I have since adopted this trick for ANY time I have to iron a seam before sewing)

As you can see, I have a FQ sewn ready for ironing and one that is ironed. 

Here is an up close look at our work:

My first completed corner
Mom's purple, my green completed napkins

Nothing says finishing touch on a dinner party than matching NAPKINS to FIESTA PLACE SETTING :)  See, Fun Dinner Party.

This photo always makes me smile :)

I haven't completed my entire collection, like I said I have 28 to make.  As of today I have a solid start and have already used them.  No more jealousy here!


Yep! I already have an update:

1) If you're doing 28 of ANYTHING, I would invest in the vanishing fabric pen.
2) I found a trick after you iron so if your ironing isn't perfect it's nearly foolproof!

After you have the ironing done, unfold the 1", place napkin wrong side down, then fold the napkin over into a triangle, place a measure tool at the corner where the ironed folds intersect.  Make a mark 90 degrees to the fold, mine comes out to be 1 1/2".  I don't care for the step where you make a mark where the 1" fold lines up on the 1/2" fold.  I have found the dots don't always line up. 
Unfold 1" hem

Fold at corner, right side in

Mark for sewing

I hope this makes it quicker for you like it is already helping me out!