I just read an article – Seasonal Elegance – which intrigued me since I am on a mission to surround myself with a chic elegance that I enjoy while visiting a boutique hotel or local cafe. I have been visiting several hotels and restaurants lately thanks to my courses as I finish my degree in Meeting & Event Planning Management, and want to add some of the elements designers have carefully included in their decor to be part of my home, as well. My home looks nothing like a magazine as we are in the middle of construction, and probably will be for some time, but knowing I am choosing what I bring into my surroundings means I have given our finances a purpose in line with our priorities.
As the Halloween Season winds down and the Thanksgiving/Christmas Season winds up, it is important to clearly define the finances purpose. What do you want to see when the holidays arrive? What memories do you want to create? Do you want to encourage the entire family to get in on the gift-giving spirit and add a homemade element to your gift giving this year? Do you want to give one family gift? Before the season is well underway and the consumer pressure that more is better is repeated day in and day out, envision how you want to feel during and after the season of giving is done.
While the finances are maintaining a healthy balance, make sure you keep your physical and emotional self balanced, too! Schedule a do nothing day during the week, take time for your daily walk, make a cup o’ tea, read a book, and keep your kitchen stocked with the items on your Standard Grocery List for healthy meals and snacks.
While everyone is in busy overdrive mode, you can relax knowing you are taking care of you and how you spend your holiday season will reflect your priorities.
I have this nudging feeling I should sit down and convey a Hello to my Friends and blessings for a rich and beautiful Fall.
I love Fall and the signs of change. Usually, I buy new home office supplies while putting together my kids Back To School lists. This year it was my turn to also return to school so I now have notebooks that fortunately do not have One Direction members on it. My theory is I finally figured out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life after spending a year creating a lifestyle focused on habits of health. Better late than never! I saved a lot of money on shopping our stash of Back To School leftovers accumulated over the past few years. So naturally I bought a few pairs of shoes. Fantabulous! One must purchase a new pair of shoes when going on a new journey. A BOGO sale at Target with a Cartwheel coupon good for 20% off and the Target REDcard only helps.
So last week I celebrated my 40th birthday. A milestone some say. I didn’t dwell on looking back on all that went right or wrong over the last 40 years but I did take time to reflect on the crowning achievements that have taken me on various roads which have led to HERE.
HERE is a work in progress home with a fabulous partner in life and our three healthy-happy-talented children while being a volleyball Mom, Box Tops Coordinator Mom, Event Committee Mom, working part-time to attend school to attain the “dream job” in a body who lost 80 lbs Mom, ran 4 5K’s over the summer and ran a 10K last Saturday Mom, and training for 4 Half-Marathons Mom – first one is in January! HERE sounds busy but is actually relatively manageable – provided I don’t add any more events to my calendar. I’ve put away the crochet hooks and Knifty Knitter Looms plus fun reading until December 15th. (Yes, you’ll hear from me so buy more coffee and possibly a mug for your cup o’ tea.)
Routines continue to work, the slow roaster is being used nearly daily, and the Standard Grocery List has been fine tuned to include dairy free chocolate chips, unsweetened creamy soy butter, almond flour, coconut flour, and unsweetened almond milk. And I’ve added the Cartwheel app to my smartphone. And I’m thinking that there is a beautiful angel out there watching over our finances as it seems our piggy bank is able to pay for all of our needs and have a savings account that is actually growing. A miracle. I know. [Insert fist bump here.] But it just proves that a healthy lifestyle can be achieved AND maintained on a budget!
I do need new tires so I’m deal hunting. I’ve been spoiled with being able to use coupons along with the Cartwheel app and then the REDcard or creating separate transactions with coupons to earn RR (register rewards) and earn Walgreens points. Seriously, have you ever not smiled like you had a secret because you knew how to do all of these deals at ONE time? It’s like sipping the best ever cafe mocha prepared just the way you like it on a beautiful Fall day with music playing! I digress, in the end I’ll have a fully functioning safe vehicle but I will not be smiling as I leave the store. I hope I painted a clear picture of the differences. Therefore you’ll understand why I’m delaying spending money on new tires until I absolutely have to.
I leave you to a day perfect for making up a batch of homemade applesauce or this fabulous pear sauce thanks to the amazing sales ($.59/lb!) or pick-your-own (thank you to my beautiful friend for dropping off a bag or two!). I found this recipe on two peas & their pod and have freezer bags from the Dollar Tree to put about 2-1/2 cups in each bag and thaw as needed to go with frozen vanilla bean yogurt or a dollop of sweetened ricotta. A perfect Fall treat!
Easy Pear Sauce
Yield: About 4 cups
8-10 pears; cored (I don’t peel mine.)
1/4 cup water (try apple juice, too!)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine pears, water, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pears have softened, about 25-30 minutes.
2. Use an immersion blender to process the pear sauce until smooth. If you prefer a chunky pear sauce, mash with a potato masher. You can also transfer the cooked pear mixture to a food processor or blender to process, just make sure the pear sauce has cooled down.
3. Once the pear sauce has cooled down, pour into glass or plastic containers. Cover and store in the refrigerator. The pear sauce will keep in the fridge for one week. You can also freeze or can the pear sauce. (My pear sauce never made it this far!)
My summertime update seems fitting to fall on Fit Wednesday. Once the last day of school came and went, ran in my first 5K at the Rock ‘N Sole Run, and our family spent a week in Disney World, I have been flexing my financial, physical, and emotional muscles. With the kids summertime 10 Things I Must Do lists in hand we have hit the ground running and taking in some leisure moments, too. I do not want to turn the kids back over to their school until we have enjoyed as many summertime activities as possible!
I have been able to continue to save on groceries following produce and meat sales at Woodmans, Cermak Fresh Market, and Aldi. Breakfast has been a simple measured homemade yogurt parfait or a Toad In The Hole – melt a bit of real butter in the pan, use a slice of high fiber low carb bread with the middle cut out, drop an egg in the middle, and flip like a pancake when the egg begins to cook through. After flipping the Toad In The Hole put the piece of cut out bread in the pan to toast on each side. A few afternoon mealtime breaks the kids seem to gravitate toward is the all American sugar free PB&J on high fiber low carb bread with a piece of fruit or carrot sticks, hummus with fresh sliced veggies, or leftovers. It keeps my refrigerator cleared out and curbs the cafe style ordering.
Summer activities have included week long camps, day camps, tennis lessons, and volleyball lessons courtesy of the rec department and public school system. I have been very grateful to group buying sites for the membership and retail deals. We have visited Old World Wisconsin with our family membership, enjoyed a cookout with food provided by Usingers, and I have a few other activities in my “arsenal of fun” to use. We have also been taking advantage of the weekend Discovery World classes with our family membership and area museum FREE days. 16 quarts of fresh strawberries and 7 quarts of sugar snap peas were picked and are now stored in the freezer. Fortunately the weather has not been too unkind so we have spent as much time outdoors as possible.
I am signed up for my first 10K in September for my 40th Birthday and to celebrate a year of tremendous personal growth while meeting my weight loss goals. I am also signed up for my first Half Marathon – Disneyland’s Tinkerbell Half Marathon in January! The running schedule and training has begun.
I hope you have enjoyed a squirt gun battle, a BBQ or two, flown a kite, enjoyed music in the park, a lazy day reading on a lawn chair or taken a trip for a day, weekend, or week. However you have been enjoying the warm months of summer, I wish for you only health, wealth, and happiness as you create your summertime memories.
While training for my first 5K I have been finding muscles I never knew I had – or rather forgot about. I have also been learning over time I can do without more than I thought I needed to satisfy my menu or must-haves.
I have been purchasing four newspapers the last or first weekend of the month when papers carry multiple coupon books and actively use the internet for household and personal printable coupons (links available on my site). I can live without a hot sale on a processed food product if it does not reflect saving more to do more of what I want to do.
I want to have experiences like rock climbing or riding coasters with my kids!
I’m saving time and money not clipping that coupon or using printer ink to purchase that item which does not fit our nutritional needs even if I’m getting it for free.
If it enters your body it isn’t FREE. Your body will have to work harder to compensate for the decision to eat it. This may mean more time working out, feeling guilt, feeling uncomfortable, or begin a trend of eating poorly.
My weekly shopping budget has remained the same! I continue to divide $100 each week: $60 – groceries, $20 – pharmacy deals, and $20 – entertainment putting whatever is remaining at the end of each week into my Fund. Most of my grocery shopping has been at Aldi and Cermak Fresh Market while Woodman’s has become a monthly trip because of time. Pinterest and websites galore are readily available to provide FREE simple recipes, freezer meals, once a month cooking tips to help prepare, freeze, cook, broil, grill healthy meals on a budget without relying on over-processed food items or purchasing 5 cookbooks.
Buy healthy. Cook healthy. Eat healthy. Get Fit this Wednesday.
I took advantage of some cool sunny weather to weed a small patch for what I thought was going to be a maximum of 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes turned into a major weeding session with a shovel and rake to the front and side of the house which lasted 2 hours.
Lesson learned: The most difficult part is starting, but once begun it’s difficult to stop until you see the project through.
I have a client I am Health Coaching who wants to see what one month with Take Shape For Life fueled by Medifast will do for her health.
In the first month she is going to be enjoying the freedom of not having to grocery shop for each of her meals, will increase her water intake, begin moving, and begin learning the Habits of Health toward her Optimal Health while she loses 2-5 lbs for the first few weeks and 1-2 lbs thereafter.
She won’t lose her goal amount in one month, but she will have begun to take charge of her health and be on her way to Optimal Health and new lease on life.
Take a step toward your goal…Start the piggy bank…Begin walking…Change your health with Take Shape For Life fueled by Medifast…Try-It…Once you start reaching for a goal you’ll wonder what took you so long! Enjoy the journey!
I am starting my week with a construction crew to begin the middle phase of a project that has been a dream for over 5 years and a written plan with paid companies for the last year. When I begin seeing piles of anything out of sorts I have a mini anxiety attack, hide, and after several cups o’ coffee look for ways to manage the mess. Recently the ideas come from Pinterest, but I still enjoy going through magazines and pulling out pages that meet “my ideal.”
I am now looking for ways to box, store, showcase, and filter what was in a closet going to be turned staircase and items that were in a corner that contained stuffed toys, cars, and LEGOS that will eventually go up to their new living space. I am also sorting through hats, gloves, scarves, old backpacks, and coats to hand me down or donate.
Once I have downsized I can create my plan, write down the supply list, and armed with coupons and sales can tackle the chaos of piles into a beautiful organization system.
This week, look at a space in your home as if you are going to renovate or move and sort through your belongings and design your space after browsing websites and magazines. Apartment dwellers can do the same with the wide variety of organizers and wall systems.
You see that particular area daily…do it simply…make it enjoyable.
UW-Milwaukee Manfred Olson Planetarium located on the UWM campus is open to the public and has a variety of programming throughout the year. During the summer take the kids to enjoy FREE stargazing on select nights or check out a FREE show on a Wednesday afternoon. Afterwards, wander over to Oakland Avenue, North Avenue or Capitol Drive and enjoy the variety of eateries or meander down to Lake Park or the lakefront and enjoy a packed picnic. Lake Park has a year old gymnasium that has been rated by my kids as a must-do!
Join Kidz Days outside at the Marcus Center for FREE family programing Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from June 18 to August 15 at 10AM!
KidZ Days At the Center provides children of all ages the chance to experience live performing arts that incorporates an educational component and encourages interactive participation FREE of cost. Click HERE for the schedule.
For seating you will want to come early. I encourage you to pack a picnic although there are often food carts, Starbucks is located across the street, and a number of wonderful restaurants within walking distance. Check out Restaurant.com, GetMyPerks.com, HalfOffDeals.com, Groupon.com, and LivingSocial.com for various restaurant discounts.
This is one of my favorite freebies for the kids each summer. Kids Bowl Free!
Select bowling centers and schools around the country are participating in Kids Bowl Free program. This program is designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer.
Children under 18 are eligible to register for 2 free games a day, all summer long, courtesy of the participating bowling centers along with the schools and organizations. You can add a family pass for 2 free games a day for up to 4 adults for $24.95. I include my husband and adult family members who may be spending a lot of time with my kids over the summer. Once the names are added to the family pass they cannot be changed! Click here for more information.
In 22 days Milwaukee’s largest music festival kicks off – Summerfest! Here is the list of promotions to get onto the grounds for FREE.
I’m very excited to see there are a few family day events scheduled! Kohl’s Family Day June 30 get into Summerfest for FREE from noon-3pm with 3 nonperishable food donations per patron and Children’s Fest Day on July 2 from noon-3pm.
Children’s Fest Day is my favorite with family activities including the Map of Fun and select food vendors throw back the clock to offer discounts on food and beverage items during this limited time.