Friday, August 30, 2013

Celebrating 100 posts & 5 on Friday!

It's Friday again, and if the weekend isn't enough to celebrate in and of itself, I'm pumped that today is the 100th post on Thrift for Today!  And because there's so much to celebrate today, I'm also linking up with 5 for Friday today - woo hoo!

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And while it might not seem like much, I'm super excited about it and really thankful to those of you that have been around since the beginning and for those of you that have recently joined, or are joining for the first time now!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Two Girls and a Party {Linky Party no. 31}

I'm excited to be doing something a little different today (and interrupting the budgeting series this week) by co-hosting this link party with the ladies of This Silly Girl's Life and Life with the Crust Off! The party is open through Sunday and I'd love for you to link up any fun projects, ideas, or recipes that you've posted recently!  Once the party closes, I'll be choosing one link to feature for next week's party, so be sure to follow everyone for your chance to be featured.  You can find my follow buttons on the right side of the blog and you can find follow buttons for the party hosts a bit further down in the post.

And without further introduction, I think it's about time to get this party started!

We are excited to present you with this week's co-host! Woot woot! Please welcome Mary Leigh from Thrift for Today :

Check out a few of her most popular posts

 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Decorating the mantel for fall

Happy Monday!  (Of course, I hope all your days are happy, but it's the start of a new work week nonetheless.)

On Friday, I mentioned just how thankful I was for the weekend.  And I'm happy to report that this weekend did not disappoint.

I'm also happy to report that I officially began decorating for fall!


This started out with a Friday night date night to Chili's which just happened to be directly across the parking lot from Home Goods.

And they just happened to have all of their lovely fall decorations out.  And just like that, our mantel became very seasonal.

I haven't really spent much on seasonal decorations since I've always lived with roommates, and when we got married, I didn't want to buy too much for the apartment in case I wouldn't be able to find a place for it in our house.


Now that we have a place that's ours, I am so excited to be able to pick up things here and there to decorate and make this place a home.  Everything on the mantel cost less than $8 each except the "Family" blocks and I feel confident that they'll have a place in our home for years to come, whether it's on the mantel or shelves or tables in the future.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Helloooo weekend, I am glad you're here!

Happy Friday, y'all!  But really, can I get an amen on that one?  I don't know about you, but this has been a whirlwind of a week over here and I am so thankful for this weekend.

And I don't have a lot to write about today.  So, I just thought it would be fun to share pictures from last weekend.  I mentioned earlier this week that we took a mini vacay last weekend.  My parents are both teachers, one of my sisters is a teacher, and I work with college students and last weekend was our last before students came back to school.  So as is often the way plans are made, we decided on Friday morning to definitely go somewhere for the weekend.  And by that night we were at the beach.  

We had a great trip, albeit short and kind of rainy, but were able to pack in a couple walks on the beach, a trip to Medieval Times, and some yummy seafood while we were there.  


A quick word to the wise, take your sunglasses to the beach.  Even if it's rainy while you're there. You'll still most likely be squinting in the pictures without them.  Although, Miss looks totally normal. Maybe it's just me...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Budgeting Series: Part 2 | How we made our budget

Hey there, hi there, I'm happy you're back!  I'm excited to continue this budgeting series and am back today with Part 2:  How We Made Our Budget.  Just in case you missed Part 1 of this mini-series, you can find that here.

And now that you're all caught up and we're on the same page, let's get going with Part 2!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Re-potting the plants, take two

Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a nice and relaxing weekend!  I actually got to spend some time at the beach, which was super nice and I'm excited to share that on the blog soon.  

Remember a few months ago when I posted here about the aloe vera plant I got back in the summer of 2009?  Well, less than six months later, they are bigger than ever.  You can see below the two largest plants from back in March.  (The huge one on the left is the Mama plant...the original one from 2009.)


And here's a close-up where you can really see all the new plants.  There were 14 total new plants from the main one in there!  14!  And all of them were healthy!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Thrift Tip: Getting rid of cable tv

Happy happy Friday!  I'll be honest, I wasn't sure what today's thrift tip would be.  So this tip comes to you from my wonderful hubs who suggested that I write about something we decided to do immediately when we got married - to not have cable tv.  [By immediately when we got married, I mean we talked about it and decided it before and confirmed it when we told the installation technician that "we just don't watch that much tv" when he asked if we wanted cable after our internet had been set up. This wan't a topic of conversation on our wedding day or the blissful days following.]

And frankly, this didn't even occur to me to share with you all as a thrift tip because it has become so normal to me that we don't have cable that I don't even think of it in terms of being thrify.  But when you consider that cable tv can run upwards of $100 or more per month, I guess not having it is indeed thrifty and worthy of being shared.


I've always had cable television.  It's nice when you're living with your parents or when you're in college and live with roommates that split the bill.  And I'm not going to lie, I was a tiny bit sad to part with all the recorded shows on the DVR when we got married and I left the roommates.  

But at the end of the day, we couldn't justify spending that much money on television and it really hasn't been difficult at all.  We both work full-time, so our time at home during the week is pretty limited to begin with and we want to make the most of it instead of vegging out in front of the television every night.  

I should also be clear though that not having cable does not mean that we gave up television.  In fact, we have a pretty great television.  It's a 43" Samsung plasma television (I don't know the specs other than that) and it gets its fair share of use.  We've got an HD antenna that simply hooks up to the TV and allows us to get about 15-20 channels (depending on where we place it) that include all of the major broadcasting networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) and several country music channels, the Live Well Network (which is a personal fave) and random others.  

So, it works for us and it's saved us lots of money over the course of the past just over a year.  Not only that, but like I said earlier, it's helped us not check out when we're home together at night and on the weekends.  We are able to think of more creative and fun things to do.  And really, I don't think we're missing out on much.  

There are lots of options available too, if you don't want to limit yourself to an antenna.  You could also try streaming networks like Netflix or Hulu or YouTube.  Or for a little less than cable, you could have a satellite dish.  

So that's it.  Another way that we try to be thrifty and enjoy life.  Have you given up cable?  What has been your experience?

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Budgeting Series: Part 1 | Why do we budget?


Budgeting is something that a lot of people don't love to talk about.  Having [and sticking to] a budget means saying no sometimes to things that you want. And yet, having a basic budget, being familiar with it and sticking to it is really the first step to managing your finances well.

And now maybe you're thinking, "Ok, but do I really need to have a budget?"  (YES!)  or "Can't I just be sure to spend less than I make and let that be that?"   (YES, BUT...)

I could talk and talk about budgeting and why you should have one, but ultimately I realize that it really will be up to you.  To make a budget out of compulsion, or because some silly blogger is telling you to won't do much good.  You'll have to decide that it is something that you want to do because you see value in it. 

I've been thinking a lot about budgeting recently and have put together a 3 part mini series for you.  Hopefully this series will inspire you to create a budget, motivate you to update your budget, or give you the extra nudge to stick to the budget you've created. 
So to start, I thought I'd give what I consider to be the Top 5 reasons we budget.

We budget to be good stewards of the resources we've been given.
Having a budget is the foundation for strong financial management.  There are countless articles out there that speak to this (One of my favorites is "Who Needs a Budget?" by Forbes Magazine.)  That said, the basis for our budgeting is found in scripture.  The Bible is pretty clear that all that we have is a gift from God.  "What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you did not?" 1 Corinthians 4:7b

We want to be good stewards of what we've received.  This means that we not get too caught up on things of this life, but that we seek to bring glory to God in the way that we spend, save, and give our money.  Your budget reveals your priorities.  I've always heard that if you want to see what someone actually values, you should take a look at their bank statement...what are they spending their resources on?  By creating a budget, we are able to clearly see where our priorities lie and adjust them as needed.  We can also see areas that we can cut back on, or add more to depending on various circumstances or needs.   Having an attitude of stewardship and not ownership helps us keep these priorities in order.

We budget so we can create realistic goals (and a plan to meet them).
Early in our marriage, we began setting goals for things we'd like to accomplish.  Whether it was to buy a new (to us) house (which we did in March), or get a newer car, go on a fun vacation, or to have a plan in case one of us suddenly lost our job.  Our budget has helped us tremendously in creating these goals as well as allowing us to think of appropriate time frames for them and action steps to accomplish them.  We knew, for example that we wanted to buy a house, if we found one we could comfortably afford before the lease ran out on our apartment.  But, we also knew that one of our cars, had more than 180K miles on it and would likely need to be replaced within a year and a half or so.  (It's still going strong though...).  Our budget helped us see pretty clearly that we wouldn't be living in a mansion for our first home, and that we probably won't be driving a brand new luxury car when we do have to replace one of our vehicles.  But, it also helps us see that if we want to have X by a given date, we need to start saving up now.  And instead of just guessing how much, we know exactly how much we should be saving each month.

We budget to hold ourselves accountable.
Having a budget holds us accountable for our spending decisions.  Because we track all of our spending, and assign all of our purchases to their own categories (such as groceries, personal, home, etc.) there are really no secrets when it comes to our spending.  We go over each of our budget categories throughout the month and can see if we are spending more than we should in any given category.  I never  have to feel guilty for buying fun things just for me, and likewise for the hubs since we are aware how much is allotted for those purchases.  And if we want to buy something that puts us over, we have a conversation about it and if we agree to buy it, we'll both usually also agree to spend a little less on ourselves.

We budget to help us make quick decisions. 
I think this one is very important.  Having a budget answers the question, "Can we afford this?" before we even ask it and that makes our decision making so much easier.  We are able to enjoy ourselves and do fun things without worrying if there is money in the bank.  Likewise, we are able to say no and walk away from things when we know they do not fit in the budget.  And because we are certain that we can or cannot afford something, we don't have to deal with remorse of buying it or not.

We budget to avoid money-fights with one another. 
Finally, we budget to avoid money-fights with one another.  Financial arguments are one of the top reasons that couples fight (so we've been told) and we want to do everything we can to protect our marriage from that.  Having a budget that we created together and stick to together, talking about our goals and priorities helps us stay on the same page as far as our finances are concerned and really cause us to stick together like a team instead of each of us trying to get more for ourselves.  While we certainly have different spending habits (I don't think the hubs will ever care about frozen coffee or shoes or ice cream as much as I do), we know that we can trust one another to make financially sound decisions.  I know Bryce is not going to go blow the budget on something crazy and he knows the same of me.  And when we do need to cut back, it's something that we do together.



So that's it.  The top 5 reasons we budget.  I am certainly not a financial expert, but I enjoy learning.  Do you have a budget?  What made you decide to create it?

Next week, I'll be posting Part 2 of this series:  How we made our budget.  Stay tuned!!

Linking up:
here
here
here
here
here 
here

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bonus thrift tip: AWESOME back to school sales

For the second week in a row, I'm adding an extra post to the regularly scheduled MWF posts.  But, I am just so eager to share this bonus thrift tip and since it's happening right now, I didn't want to wait for it to post.  That said, have you seen some of the awesome school supply sales happening now?!

Like these pocket folders that were regularly $0.79 from Office Depot, that are on sale for just $0.01 this week through August 17, limit 10.  I'm not 100% sure if it's across all locations, or only specific ones, but if there's an Office Depot near you, I'd recommend checking it out to be sure.  Staples also has penny deals going on these days, too but there is a minimum purchase of $5 (this week, 1 subject notebooks are $0.01 limit 2 with a $5 purchase).



We don't have kids yet so we don't have those school supply lists floating around, but I am the daughter of educators and one of my sisters is a teacher, so I enjoy thinking of ways to easily help out their classrooms and local schools around us.

And for just $0.11 you can provide 10 folders to a local school or classroom.  I just think for so little, it's totally worth it to grab some of these things to give away.  (Or if you have kids to store up for them to use!!)

So, maybe these awesome deals aren't everywhere, but you should definitely check them out just to be sure!

What great back to school sales have you seen around lately?  Do you have any tips for saving on back to school supplies?

Stay thrifty!

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Yummy summer afternoon smoothies

Like I do sometimes, I picked up on this trend a little late.  Not that I've never had a smoothie - I used to stop by Planet Smoothie before class on the regular when I was in grad school.  And in high school, my friends used to make them when we'd have pool parties.  It's just that I never thought to make them at home for myself.  And what a mistake!

I'm an ice cream kind of girl.  Cookie dough or birthday cake will get me every single time and if you've got rainbow sprinkles, we've got a deal.  And then I started noticing lots of summer smoothies on pinterest, about the same time I started really using my Smart Stick blender for baking and saw how easily it blended fruit and finally realized how easy it would be to make delicious smoothies for myself.  (Now there's a run-on sentence for you...)
And because blueberries are a summer staple and we had some bananas around the house and because I decided to by frozen yogurt instead of ice cream (every little effort to be healthy helps, right?), this little treat has been a recent fave:  


And it is a cinch to make.  

BLUEBERRY BANANA SMOOTHIE

Ingredients
2 scoops of frozen vanilla yogurt 
1 banana
1-2 hand fulls of blueberries
a little bit (maybe 1/2 cup) of crushed ice

Directions
Add all that together and mix until smooth
Enjoy!

I was also able to make another this weekend that I just adored, but forgot to take a photo of without the blueberries - just bananas (and caramel & sprinkles).  That one tasted to me almost just like banana pudding, which is a southern classic and left me wishing that there were nilla wafers in the pantry.  

BANANA PUDDING SMOOTHIE

Ingredients
2 scoops of frozen vanilla yogurt
2 bananas
about 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce
about 1/2 cup of crushed ice

Directions
Blend ingredients until smooth
Top with whipped cream and sprinkles

*And I didn't have any, put some nilla wafer crumbs might just bring it home with this one. 

I'm on the lookout for more and healthier smoothies that include veggies that I can make on the go.  I even bought spinach from the grocery store today for that purpose.  :)  

What are your favorite things to blend up in a smoothie?

Linking up here, herehere, here, here, here, here, and here.
Stop by each of these parties for lots of creative inspiration! 
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Friday, August 9, 2013

Birthday celebration

My parents have had their hands full for a long time.  There are 4 of us kids and only 5 years total between all of us.  And in July, the last of us left our teenage years.  [And I think Mama and Daddy sang the hallelujah chorus when they laid down that night.]  

Brittany and Jeffery are twins, and they've really done everything together.  When Jeffery played rec league football, Brittany was on the sidelines with the cheerleading team.  And when he played in high school, she was cheering then too.  

They were in all the same classes through middle school (and had lots of the same ones in high school) and for a while, they went to the same college.  

And so it was weird to not celebrate on the same day for their birthday.  Brittany is home for the summer, so we celebrated on their birthday.  Jeffery was camping, so we just celebrated his last weekend.  

The parties were fun nonetheless.  Now that we've moved away from my parents' house, it's rare that we're all in the same place on weekends other than holidays.  But when we are, I try to soak in every bit of it.  






No matter when we celebrate though, my mom always makes sure to make separate cakes for them since they have separate tastes and to be sure to celebrate each of them individually.  And since J's favorite cake is strawberry, his is always pink.  

These two are fun.  I'm proud of all the things they've accomplished and am excited to see all the things that God has in store for them in the future.  

Happy birthday, again, guys!  I'm proud to be your sister.  

Love you!!


And the boy brought his dog!  He's just 3 months old, can you believe it?  What a sweet puppy!!

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Blueberry pound cake with greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is all the rage now, and I can't say that I'm upset about it.  I have recently started to learn more about cooking with yogurt and was really happy to find this recipe on pinterest for a berry swirl pound cake.  

It called for raspberries and blackberries, but I adapted it for blueberries only since that's what I had on hand.  The result?  This yummy blueberry pound cake.  Even hubs liked it, and he is not a sweets person. 


INGREDIENTS: 
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt, room temperature

DIRECTIONS:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter parchment. 

2.  In a food processor, puree blueberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar and set aside (you can strain them into the bowls if you don’t like the light bite of seeds that do not break down). (Note:  I used by Cuisinart Smart Stick to puree the blueberries without trouble.) 

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter (or oil) and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. 

5.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. 

6.  With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with Greek yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

7.  Stir 4 tablespoons of the cake batter into the bowl with the blueberry puree until uniform.  

8. Pour half the plain batter into the pan and dot with 1/2 of the blueberry puree-batter mix. (It will seem like it takes over all the plain cake batter, but don’t worry, it all works out.)  Swirl/marble lightly using a skewer or knife.  Repeat with remaining batter and remaining puree-batter mix, then again, swirl together, pushing skewer or knife all the way to the bottom for a full marble.

9. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing.




Love it!
I used the Cuisinart hand mixer for the batter and like usual, it worked great!



We received both of these mixers for our wedding and they have really come in handy.  They are easy to use, and easy to clean which are both big pluses in my book!  I'm relatively new to the baking from scratch thing, but I love being able to pull things together and make something really yummy!

Also, I don't think I need to say this, but I will, these opinions are mine, I don't think anybody at Cuisinart has seen Thrift for Today yet.  :)

My mom recommended that I bring this home for Christmas this year.  We'll see about that.  

As much as I'm trying to hold onto summer, I'm looking forward to some more baking once the weather starts to cool down!

This recipe is linked up here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here
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Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm a list person

I like to make lists.  I make a list every morning at work of things that need to be done and before I go home, I usually re-make the list and add things I need to remember the next day.  At home, we make lists of meals for the week, and shopping lists before we go out.

Lists keep me focused and are a good way for me to remember all the moving pieces floating around. And, I really like to check things off the list.  And for some reason, I don't write down a lot of my personal things or home things that I want to do.  I blame not having an agenda (I used to keep everything in my agenda) this year, but the fact is, I just haven't taken the time to write a lot of the goals down.

So in the spirit of list-making and of accountability, and because I was recently re-inspired by Abby over at Just a Girl and Her Blog, I've made a quick list of things I'd like to get done in August.  (Abby also has a free printable that helps get things organized, which is super helpful.  The hubs recently challenged me to write down the things I do during the day to help see how effectively, or not, I spend my time and it's really helped me to be more productive in getting things done.)



AUGUST GOALS

1. Have a regular quiet time.  It's too easy to push this one to the side, when in actuality time spent alone in prayer and in the Word have proven to be the single most beneficial thing I can do in a day.

2. Exercise at least 3 times per week.  I've recently started going to Zumba once a week with a good friend and have been reminded how badly my body needs exercise to stay fit (and to sleep well...)

3.  Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.  I think this is self explanatory.  I'm not as productive late at night anyway, and I really should just go to bed earlier.

4. Finish painting the trim and baseboards in the upstairs hallway, the master bedroom, and kitchen.  You may remember when I posted about painting trim here.  It's not a particularly fun project and not one that I can really ever get in the mood for, but a project part done, is also not something I enjoy and I hope to just suck it up and get it finished.  If I can accomplish this, I'll have the stairs, office, and guest bedroom, but I'm ok with leaving that (especially considering the office and guest bedroom need to be completely re-painted, so it doesn't make much sense to deal with the trim now anyway.

5.  Try at least 1 new recipe (and hopefully 2).  But I'll count it a success if I try at least 1.  :)  Do you ever feel like you get in a cooking rut?  You make those things that are just easy, simple, and don't require a "recipe".  Well, I'm there often during the week and want to start actually using those delish recipes that I've pinned.

6.  Continue to post at least 3 times/week.  I've been writing this blog for a little more than a year, but have only recently begun to post regularly and make improvements around here.  Every now and then I might post more than 3 times/week, but I've found that it's better to have a regular posting schedule and MWF has been working the past couple of months.  I'm hoping to keep this up.

7.  Find a cleaning routine for our home.  There are some chores I don't mind, and others that I just really really don't enjoy.  Bathrooms, anyone?  And this this post from Ruth over at Living Well Spending Less really challenged me to think about the house work in increments and doing small cleaning things each day to keep the house clean, instead of waiting for it to get dirty.  I've been doing some of these things, and hope to find a regular routine for our home.

And I think that's a sufficient list for this month (especially considering we're about a week in at this point.)

And, I'm getting a cold...is this normal in the summer?!?

What are your goals this month?  Do you write your goals down in one place?


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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Blog Hop Sunday

We are interrupting our normal schedule to bring you the Sunday blog hop happening over at Blissful and Domestic today!  This is a favorite of mine every Sunday.  There are lots of new blogs each week, which means it's a great place to find new fun blogs to read!  So if you haven't already, hop on over and check out some of the fun people linking up!

 photo sundaybloghopbutton.jpg

I'm also linking up Share the Love Monthly Blog Hop today.  This link up happens only once a month and is also a fun spot to find lots of new creative bloggers out there!


Happy hopping!

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Thrift tip: free samples

Happy happy Friday!!  I'm back today with another thrift tip.  This time, about saving money by getting free samples.  Companies often offer samples of new products and retail stores do the same.  I check Target and Walmart both weekly to find new samples that are offered.

Recently, I've gotten shampoo and nail products from Target (which I hope to share later once I use them so I can let you know how I like them) and recently, I got this new disposable razor from Walmart.


I am really excited about this one because I already use the Schick Hydro Silk Razors.  I've got pretty sensitive skin and got a couple of these razors (the non-disposable ones) back before we got married.  They have 5 blades and those little moisturizing beads are no joke!  Bed Bath and Beyond conveniently enough had samples in the gift boxes when gifts were shipped to us from our registry and I've been using them since.

Now, I've got this extra disposable and coupons for the next time I shop!

Do you have any sites where you find free samples?  What free things have you gotten in the mail?

Stay thrifty!

Linking up today here.  

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