Thursday, January 31, 2013

Looking Back at January and Forward to February

Day 28: Blackened Chicken with Cuban Black Beans and Rice, Corn and Bread. I thought it was delicious and Tim just thought it was okay (first time that's ever happened!). His taste buds must be impaired from the sickness. Just kidding... sorta.

I also took the opportunity to clean the fridge while it was low. This was a few days ago; it's even barer now!

We did it. We reached the end of our Four Weeks of Frugality and lived to tell the story. What started as a conversation in December ("Dude, we gotta save money") has been a wonderful success. But I have a confession: I'm not sure how much money we saved. I mean, there is definitely more in our bank account right now than there was at the beginning of the month but we don't have a set budget (yet! Stop yelling at me!) to see exactly how much we didn't spend. But, we did realize some pretty awesome things:

1. You don't need everything you want.

I know, this is a no-brainer. But really, we want so many things in life. I've been amazing by how hard it was to not go to McDonald's and get a Diet Coke or not buy a York mint at the checkout counter.

2. It's okay to deprive yourself now and then. It won't kill you or your family.
In fact, it might even bring you closer together.

The story is often told of Helen Hayes Brown (an American theatre actress) and her husband entitled "I wish they were peanuts". Read the sweet paragraph here. Going without is okay.

3. We are very richly blessed.

Self-explanatory really. We have so much to be thankful for. God has blessed us with jobs, money, food, friends, and love. What more do you need?

4. We can get really creative if we have to.

It was such a fun challenge to make dinner each night using just what we had on hand. I got very resourceful and made some fun (and sometimes interesting) meals. But we never went hungry and we didn't even have to eat the Ramen noodles in the pantry that have rat marks in them (why are we saving those?). We also got very creative on the Sewing Room, determined not to spend a penny. Leftover paint, donated furniture, and some clever decorating is turning into such a cute room! Just a few more finishing touches and we can have a Sewing Room reveal. YAY!

In conclusion, January was awesome. No, we didn't do it perfectly because we bought dog food and had to buy gas. But I'm choosing to remember the bright side. We worked towards a goal to save money and did it. Together. And that's something worth celebrating. 

What's next? Glad you asked!

Faith and Fitness February!

Yup, February is the time to whip out bodies and souls into shape. Rules are as follows:

  1. Attend the gym 5 times a week (or some outdoor activity such as running).
  2. Devotions every night together (28 days).
  3. One "Date Night" each week using the curriculum we got at our Premarital weekend at WinShape. (Yes, we haven't done our "homework" yet that we got 8 months ago. We're just so perfect that we don't need help. HA. Just kidding.)
I'm looking forward to this! (Well, maybe not to going to the gym...)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Six Months!!!

Today was our Six Month Anniversary! Time sure flies when you're having fun! It seems like just yesterday I was logging onto eHarmony each night to see if this cute guy from Milledgeville had sent me another message. And here we are married and living life together! Life is so much more epic when you finally get to live it with the person God made for you to experience it with! (Yes, I just ended a sentence in "with". Sorry.)

I wanted a super special meal for tonight so I've been hoarding our good things - we can have a super special meal without spending an extra penny! I got cocktail shrimp on sale at Kroger a few months ago (50% off!) and sparkling grape juice for only $1.25. We had steak that Tim's parents had given us and brownie mix I got for $1 from Dollar General. Add some veggies and you have a gourmet meal! Candlelight is absolutely necessary.

Mmmm, sparkling grape juice.

Everything (even brownies!) is better cut into cute shapes.

Tonight Tim and I spent a few hours working on the Sewing Room. I can't wait to post an update! Hopefully soon!

Only 3 days left of No Spend January. I'm so ready to buy cheese! I miss it so much!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Day 23

We are so close to the end of our month of spending no money. We can do this!

So I wanted to make some cookies using a recipe I found online: Cool Whip Cookies. And I had all the stuff on hand from couponing. Hooray. Well... except for powdered sugar. After some web research, people said that you can use a food processor and blend regular sugar and it becomes powdered sugar. So here's the ingredients:

I mixed it all up and it was like very (VERY!) sticky mousse. 

The directions said to roll it into to balls and then roll in powdered sugar. Yeah, right. I just kinda dolloped it into the fake powdered sugar and then kinda swirled it around. 

I dropped them onto a cookie sheet and sprinkled some more fake powdered sugar because the other was soaking into the dough.

When they came out of the oven, the fake powdered sugar had soaked almost completely into the cookies. But the bad part was that the sugar on the bottom of the cookies had crystalized and stuck the cookies to the pan.

I thought the cookies were just blah. Not quite sweet enough to be cookies, in my opinion. But Tim thought they were pretty good - he said they tasted just like Cocoa Puffs (which he likes). 

Tim had been craving Cinnamon Raisin Bread and so I whipped some up in the bread machine following this recipe. So delicious! This is a keeper!

Tim was in charge of making the meat tonight so he made pork chops in gravy. First time we had ever made gravy (and we were out of milk so we had to use evaporated milk). It turned out so yummy over mashed potatoes! Add some lima beans and a slice of raisin bread and it was the perfect meal!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mr. Amazing

So Tim can make anything. Which I'm realizing more and more.

We were cutting up the fallen tree in the backyard and Tim was dying to make some of the logs into something. So he grabbed one and made an iPhone charging station.

A few coats of polyurethane and lots of drilling later and here it is beside our bed:


And the back:

Yeah. Awesome.

Then the next day he was feeling particularly crafty again. First he took apart a broken motion light and made it into a normal overhead light for the Great Room (gonna get a picture soon...). Then he took another log and another broken lamp and made it into an epic accent lamp for the Dining Room.

And here's the aftermath in the Great Room. He even used part of a coat hanger. Wha-?

I wonder what he's gonna build next...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Food, food, food

It's Day 21 of Four Weeks of Frugality and we still aren't eating Ramen noodles (yet).

Monday night we had my favoritest meal: Taco Dinner. Every summer we spent weeks and weeks at my grandmother's lakehouse. 6 girl cousins in one room - so fun. But the best part was all the yummy meals each night. Taco Dinner was the best because it's easy to feed a big crowd and everyone can customize it to their liking. So here's the list of things necessary for Taco Dinner:

Taco meat (with red or black beans)
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Sour cream
Ketchup (I know it sounds weird - but it's totally necessary!)
Crushed Doritos (the best part!)

Layer all ingredients and enjoy!

We ate it Monday night but we sadly didn't have any Doritos (*tear* *sniff* *sniff*). We tried subbing mini Cheez-its - I thought it wasn't half bad but Tim loved it.

And York Pieces for dessert - yum!

Tuesday night we had delicious Brunswick stew (thanks Ethan!) and corn muffins. We didn't have any milk for the muffin mix but we did have evaporated milk in the pantry - added a little water and it was perfect!

Tonight we had a chicken casserole from the back of a stuffing box. It wasn't bad - but we had to use Kroger brand frozen chicken so the chicken was a little chewy. But the rest of it was pretty good. Add some cinnamon bread and it was a very yummy meal.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cabinet Before and After

So last week I went to help out at church and they had a white cabinet that was falling apart and they were going to take it to the dumpster. I figured Tim could fix it up (and then I could use to for sewing storage) and said I would come pick it up the next day. Well, when I got there the next day, they had already taken it to the dump but they had another cabinet we could have. Thanks!

Tim and I managed to squeeze it into my car and got it home. But it was kind of plain and boring so I wanted to spice it  up a little. At the suggestion of sister-in-law Lydia, I thought I could add wrapping paper to the back. So I did!

I had some wrapping paper that I got for half off at Hobby Lobby after Christmas and some spray adhesive that we had leftover from the Tardis doors in the living room.

Start by taking off the backing of the cabinet by removing all these little nails.

Once you have the back off, be sure to get out all the nails (even the ones you drop on the floor).

Go around and hammer all the spots where the nails used to be - mine didn't come out very cleanly:

Lay the wrapping paper down and make sure you like the look (I love it!).

Cover the floor with something to protect from overspray from the spray adhesive (I used shipping boxes). Spray a light coat of adhesive and then lay down the wrapping paper (giving special care to match the seams). Lay something flat and sorta heavy on top to help adhesion. Let dry at least an hour.

Trim the wrapping paper.

Hammer all those little nails back into the back of the cabinet.

And TA-DA! I *love* it! And I didn't spend a penny! 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day 18 of Four Weeks of Frugality

Thursday Night was so wonderful! We had friends over for a dinner we've been planning since Thanksgiving and finally got around to having! Daniel and Erin drove down from Athens, and Ethan and Paige and TC made our party complete.

Ethan and Paige roasted a delicious turkey they got on a crazy sale.

Tim made a green bean casserole he'd been wanting to make for a while.

I made some more bread and some honey butter (1 part honey to 2 parts butter and then whip it).

Daniel and Erin brought a salad (in a cute monogrammed bowl!).

Oh, and we mixed up some mashed potatoes from one of our many boxes.

And after dinner we all played games. What a fun evening!!!

Friday, I went with the church to Atlanta with 16 4th/5th graders and a few other adults (because one of their chaperones had to back out at the last minute). Despite barely getting any sleep, we had a fun time. The sad part was that I had to buy two fast food meals on the drive there and back. Sad day. Thankfully, we had a Visa debit gift card from Christmas so I didn't have to spend any money from the bank.

I came home exhausted on Saturday night and sweet Tim had cooked dinner - mac and cheese and weenies and a side of green bean casserole (because a veggie is a requirement) and a few cheese sticks. It was delicious.

For lunch on Sundays we usually go out to dinner after church with friends. Our favorites restaurants are Chinese and Mexican. Poor Tim has been craving Leiu's Peking so for lunch today, we heated up the frozen Chinese dinner I bought when they were buy one get one free. Add some homemade egg drop soup and it was a yummy meal for under $1 each.

We're headed to Small Group tonight and bringing some homemade bread. Small Group dinners are always great because everyone brings a dish!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Southern Supper Spectacular

Today was Tim's off day which is always wonderful! We went to church and picked up a free cabinet that they gave me. I'm planning on putting it in the Sewing Room. Pictures as soon as we get it out of the back of my car (it's pouring here!).

For lunch, we decided to go on a date to Longhorn (we had a gift card from Tim's sister - thanks Angela and Mark and Erin!). We both had soup and salad combos - so delicious.

For a late dinner we had a Southern Supper Spectacular: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, fried okra, and squash casserole. I got the recipe for the squash casserole from this website and halved it using a pound of sliced squash that I bought on sale and then froze. Thanks to Ethan and Paige we had some Ritz crackers too. Sadly, however we used the last of all our cheese. Hopefully we don't need cheese over the next two weeks! The meatloaf was a mix but it was quite tasty.

And no Southern meal is complete without sweet tea (for Tim) and lemonade (for me).

Oh, good news: We've completed 14 days of Four Weeks of Frugality! Halfway through!

Oh and I started fixing up some shelves for the Sewing Room that we stole from Tim's parents' house. They were just boring stained wood so I wanted to paint them nice and white.

I gave it a quick sand with a block sander and then started painting it white.

Can't wait to show the finished shelves!