Posts

DIY Cinder Block Garden for Small Yards

Isn’t it always that you get your house just how you want it and then you move?  I literally just redid my backyard last summer.  This was supposed to be my first full gardening season with the garden.  Of course though, we will be moving in the middle of the season.

I started making my garden by removing the grass in the area of the rock garden and cinder block garden.

In only the rock section, I laid out some weed block.  In the cinder block garden, I wanted the roots to be able to go low into the ground.

I had just completed landscaping my front yard when I started this project so I used all of the rocks I took out of the front yard for this project.

To finish off the rock garden, I added a nice bench with some stepping stones and a few raspberry plants.  I decided to dig some pots into the ground for the raspberry plants.

And now for why you are here:  The Cinder Block Garden!

I measured and planned exactly how I wanted the garden to look prior to buying the blocks.  I actually used legos to see exactly how many blocks I would need.  The graph paper just wasn’t doing it for me 😉

I decided to add a few stepping stones to make sections so I could reach all across.  There are just two square stones in each section.  They just have a design that makes them look like four.

The last touch I added was some white little rocks along the outside border of the garden just to make it look extra cute.

I’d call my first year of gardening a success!  I got a fair amount of strawberries and raspberries and a ton of basil, tomatoes, and zucchini.  I didn’t have any luck with green beans or broccoli but I will try again!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

House Update #8: Main Floor Design and Decor

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Super Simple Teriyaki Beef

Welcome back to the blog!  Today I have a super easy and quick recipe for you.

All you need are the four basic ingredients and your choice of spices.

Ingredients

Beef
Rice
Broccoli
Teriyaki Sauce
Spices

I wasn’t kidding when I said this is easy.  Cook the rice per the instructions on the bag or box.

While the rice is cooking, cut up the strips of beef and cook on the stove.  Add any spices you desire.

Also, steam some broccoli in the microwave.

At this point, you are rocking multitasking!

Once the beef is fully cooked, pour some teriyaki sauce over the beef.  I switch teriyaki sauce every time I buy it.  Choose whichever brand you like!

Once the teriyaki sauce has warmed and you’re rice/broccoli is cooked, you are ready to put the meal together.

Just add some of each to a bowl and eat with your favorite chopsticks!  Enjoy!

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

How to Use Cubes as a Shoe Rack

*This post contains affiliate links.

Hi Everyone!

Have you also been wondering what to do with all of your shoes?  It took me a few years of having shoes all over the place or ugly shoe shelves against my walls to realize this!

Cubes make for great shoe racks.  You can pick multiple divider sizes or bins if you want the shoes completely tucked away.

I chose to use one half divider and one quarter divider since my shoes are smaller than Nick’s.  We have our main shoes facing out as pictured above.  Shoes we don’t wear as often are to the side in another set of cubes.

Do you have any different type of storage that you use for your shoes?  Let me know!  I’m always looking for new ideas because even though the cubes look cool, they can be a little clunky.

Here are the pieces I use.  I use all espresso for the cubes I have but in the new house I’m going to switch to the weathered look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

9 Nostalgic 90’s Items

I keep seeing nostalgia posts everywhere and they make me so happy.  I love remembering all of the fun things from my child hood. Here are some of my favorites.

mini beanie babies

These were the coolest things growing up.   I played with them all the time but not how you’d expect.   The beanie babies had to be the small ones because I’d throw them up onto the blades of the fan then turn the fan on and watch them fly off.  Over and over again.  It was one of the best games.

catch a bubble

Catch a Bubble and the weird smelling little plastic bubbles in the squeezy tube were the coolest things.  We’d blow them in the basement and watch with amazement while the plastic like bubbles didn’t pop.

 

POGS

Pogs were one of those things that you just had to have but made no sense.  I remember having a pink case and a clear slammer with a flower.  I never remember doing much with them though.  Something about using the slammer to flip the pogs to win them.

 

sky dancers

Sky dancers have recently made a come back after.  I had a few sky dancers, but my favorite was one like the one in the photo.  The foyer in the house I grew up in was open to the loft.  We would stand at the bottom and fly them up to the loft.  One of the friends would be at the top to catch them.  It was so much fun!

 

 

Baby All gone

I’m not sure on the actual name of this doll but I remember it very well.  The jar had a cherry sent and the spoon had a lever that made the cherries appear and disappear when the baby ate.  Another one of my favorite dolls was one where the food went from the dolls mouth to the backpack.  It was quickly recalled though after a girl’s hair got stuck in it.

Tomagotchi

There were quite a few toys like this one.  I had a white and blue tomagotchi and I had a yelllow giga pet.  I remember the day my Tomagotchi ‘ran away’.  I was devastated before the school day even began.

 

Sega Genesis

Sega in my opinion is the best gaming system.  It’s simple yet fun and doesn’t make me dizzy.  This is the only toy from the 90’s that I still have (and use).  Gotta love controllers with only 5 buttons on them.

 

The last two items aren’t toys but they are things I remember vividly from the 90’s.

squeeze pop

Every time we would go to the gas station, I would get a squeeze pop and I got to put the stamp on the rewards card.  I loved the blue squeeze pop but all of a sudden I couldn’t find them anywhere.  For years squeeze pops were still around in my area but the only flavor available was the sour apple which I didn’t like.  Hopefully this candy comes back.

Reward Stamps

I have not seen stamps like these since the 90’s.  For some reason I have so many memories centered around these stamps from Subway and Diamond Shamrock.  Now, companies use stickers, hole punches, or completely digital ways of tracking rewards.

What are your favorite nostalgic items from the 90’s or 80’s or any other time period?

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

February 2017 Blog Income Report

This Month’s Top Post: Ready to Eat Freezer Meals – 326 Views

This Month’s Runner Up: January 2017 Blog Income Report – 304 Views

This was the first month that I didn’t write any new posts.  Well, I did film one video and edit it this month.  But, other than that, I had all of my posts ready to go.  I am so glad I did that because this month I needed all of my free time to go towards getting ready to sell my home.  I’m so ready to be just living my life as normal in the new house.  But, one step at a time.  For the next few months I’m just going to hobble along in blog land.

February 2017 INCOME STATEMENT

Revenue
Ads – $169.93
Sponsored Posts – $0.20
Total: $170.13

Expenses
Tailwind – $10..00
Domain – $1.26
Hosting – $6.99
Etsy – $1.00
Total: $19.25

NET INCOME: $150.88

VIEW PREVIOUS BLOG INCOME STATEMENTS HERE.

Last month, I mentioned that I was going into a slower time for me.  Haha.  I was definitely mistaken!  I was still able to complete both of my goals though!  I had a goal of joining 18 new Pinterest boards.  I joined 21!  This month I hope to see an increase because of all of the new groups.  But I am a bit behind in scheduling posts so we will see.

I also got some new Etsy downloadables posted. They are the pink kitchen recipe cards and labels below.

My goal for March is to maintain the blog.  I need to get all of my posts for April ready and make sure to get all of my Pinterest posts scheduled.  This month is going to be crazy with having to drop everything at any moment to show the house.  Wish me luck!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

House Update 7: Pre-Drywall House Tour

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Forward Budgeting and the Cash System

slide14

This post is part of a series.  To start the series from the beginning, click here.  To browse through the series, click here.

Forward budgeting, also known as the ‘forward roll’ is also a three-step process.  Each month, you project your expenses and savings.  At the end of the month, any funds that weren’t used will be transferred into your savings account.  This process repeats each month.

Envelopes

The envelope system can be used in a similar method to reverse budgeting.  The only difference is that you don’t put a set amount of money into the Savings envelope at the beginning of the month.

Instead, allocate the money into the spending envelopes.  At the end of the month, move any money that is left in the envelopes to the Savings envelope.

envelopes

Paper

Using a printable is a fun way of tracking your finances.  There are many budgeting printables online that would be a great solution for your spending tracking and savings rollover.

Computer Spreadsheet

A computer spreadsheet is very helpful when using the forward roll method.  The main point of the forward roll is to maximize saving potential.  A computer spreadsheet can help you to project your savings over time.  This is very useful when saving up for a large purchase like a house or a car.  You can find multiple examples of tracking the forward roll method with a spreadsheet here.

Apps/Programs

Apps and programs are a great way of tracking spending but can become very complicated when tracking cash.  I recommend using either a paper tool or a spreadsheet to track cash finances.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Ready to Eat Freezer Meals

*This post may contain affiliate links*

I have been seeing so many posts about freezer meals recently.  One thing that has surprised me the most about freezer meals is that they take a lot of work!  All of the posts make it seem easy and time saving but I’m not buying it.  You take hours one day to prep all of your meals and put them in the freezer.  Then, when the time comes to prepare your meal, you still have to find the right cookware and thaw and cook it which could take just about as long as just starting from scratch.

I’ve been doing my own version of freezer meals for years.  The difference is that I completely cook the food before I put it in the freezer.  I remember being young and my mom would do this with things like chili, spaghetti and meatballs sauce, and sloppy joes.  She would freeze portions for one family meal already cooked and just needing to be reheated.

Now, I don’t have ‘family meals’ in my household because Nick and I are hardly every home to eat at the same time.  So, I prepare all of the meals for the week or longer on one day and then All we have to do is microwave and put the container in the dishwasher.

One thing to note is that I only do this with foods that work well freezing and reheating.  I use two types of tupperware for my meals.  The larger tupperware are the ones that come with lunchmeat in the deli section.  The smaller ones are in the image below.

The Tupperware I use (I have these in Red and Teal)

The food

I thought I’d share an unedited photo to show that this is not a perfect process. Portion size is different for Nick and I but this made enough food for each of us to have 16 meals.

The Meals:

Turkey Noodle Casserole
Spaghetti
Oven Chicken with Tomatoes
Honey Soy Pulled Pork
Teriyaki Chicken
Turkey and cheese Wraps
BBQ Uglies
Cinnamon Rolls

In the back left, there is a stack of small and large tupperware.  These have turkey noodle casserole made with left over turkey and spaghetti.

The middle tupperware have  Oven Chicken with Tomatoes.

The two stacks of tupperware on the far left have Honey Soy Pork and some Teriyaki chicken just made with a store-bought sauce.

I used Ellie’s recipe to make a dough for all of the items in the front.  One thing to note is that I did not let the dough rise for a second time for any of these meals.

On the far left front, There’s wrapped leftover turkey and cheese.

The two wrapped meals in the middle are both BBQ Uglies just made in a different shape.  For the left ones, I used a large muffin pan and for the right ones I used a small pastry press.

Of course, I had some extra dough and decided to make cinnamon rolls.  These were not part of the freezer meals but definitely part of my reward for doing all this cooking in one evening!

Do you make freezer meals?  If you do, do you cook them before or after you freeze them?

Thanks for visiting!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

How to Create Blog Photos Using PowerPoint

My How to Make Your Own Blog Photos post shows the steps that I use to create my images.  Today I’m going to go into a bit more depth and show you how I do some of the editing.  So, if you haven’t read the other post, go check it out and then come back to this one.

One thing to note before diving into the editing.  I like to take landscape photos when I’m creating a collage of images.  I will show you why below.

Setting Up PowerPoint

The first thing I do when I’m getting ready to create a blog photo is set up my template in PowerPoint.  This is really simple.  I just open a new document and change the slide orientation to portrait.

TAB: Design SECTION: Customize OPTION: Slide Size –> Change Orientation to Portrait

Once I have the size set, I delete the text boxes that are on the slide.

Inserting the image

I copy and paste one of the images from my collection into PowerPoint.   At this point, the image only fills part of the slide.  I resize the image by dragging the corners out until the top and bottom align.  The right and left side will be way out of the canvas.  This is what you want.

Setting the Image

Once you have the image large enough to cover the canvas, crop the left and right sides of the image.  You will be able to see the slide edge when cropping and the photo should snap in place.

When the edges are set to the canvas, you can then drag the photo left and right until you have the perfect section. Click Crop again to complete the crop.

Basic image fixes

I only do a minimal amount of editing to each of my photos which usually only consists of a adjusting the brightness and contrast.  Sometimes I will adjust the sharpness as well.  On rare occasions, I will use a different editing program to create a blur or other effect.

Select the image by clicking on it.  Then go to Format, Corrections and hover over the images to see a preview.  Select the one you like the best.  I typically like 20% Brightness / 20% Contrast but occasionally I choose a different option.

Inserting the text box

To insert the text box, go to the Insert Tab and click on Text Box.  Drag the text box onto the photo.  You can always adjust placement later.  Write the text for your image in the text box.

Highlight the text and increase the font size until it is large enough that to fill the photo.  We will adjust this again later.  The initial increase is just to be able to read the words.

Designing the text box

Click on the outside border of the text box.  Click to the Format Tab and open More Fill Colors for Shape Fill.

I usually fill white with a 10% transparency (opacity) but you can choose any option you want.

Editing the Text

At this point, I usually move the text box to around the area I want it to be.  Change the colors and fonts any way you would like.  I’ve even downloaded some additional fonts from Google.  Don’t forget to add your watermark.

Finalizing your image

Once you have your fonts how you want them, you need to finalize the image.  Your project is currently a PowerPoint file so you need to create the image file for your image.

To do this, go to Save As and then choose the PNG option.  There are other image files such as a JPG but WordPress doesn’t play nice with JPG’s.  So, if you may ever switch to WordPress, use PNG’s.

The End Product

Congratulations!   You’ve now created a pin-worthy image by using PowerPoint!

If you have any questions, please reach out to me.  I’m more than happy to help!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

How We Met – Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Now it’s time for a love story. 🙂

Nick and I met in 2008.  I don’t remember the exact day or even the season when we met because at that time I didn’t know he was the one.  Actually, I didn’t know he was the one until years later.

This is the only photo we have from around the time that we met up until we started dating.  Picture quality on phone’s has really improved over the past almost decade!

In 2008 I was in my first and second years of college and was still hanging out with a lot of my high school friends.  I had a few different groups of friends that overlapped a little in high school.  After graduating, I re-connected with one of the people who was also in a few of the different groups of people I hung out with.

When we reconnected, he had a new group of friends.  I started hanging out with all of his new friends when I went to hang out with him.  This worked well since they all shared an apartment which they called ‘the fortress’.

One of the roommates was Nick.  He was a nice guy but at the time I was very focused on school and was so far away from considering dating.  Not long after, everyone moved from the fortress and my high school friend and Nick no longer lived together.  Nick and I had become friends while he lived at the fortress and we hung out on our own from time to time.  Usually because I broke a computer and needed it fixed.  😉

Over the next five years, we hung out off and on when our schedules aligned.  Nick is the only one I keep in touch with from the group because everyone moved out of state.  Nick also moved out of state when my high school friend moved and they lived together all the way across the country.

I remember right before he moved.  I finally had finished school and had just bought my house.  I had a good job and for once considered myself to be stable.  Even though we only saw each other every once in a while, I felt quite bummed when he moved out of state because I was just learning that I had feelings for him.

I decided to go with the old saying and let him go do his own thing and didn’t tell him about my feelings.  If we were meant to be, when the time was right, we would be together.

A while after he moved we started video chatting almost daily.  We would also play a game similar to Risk on Google Plus Hangouts.  Nick never let me win.  During these chats, I knew my feelings were growing stronger for him.  I watched as he dated different girls just waiting for the right time for us to be together.  I knew that the next move in my life would be to settle down and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t rush anything.

You know that giddy feeling you get when you talk to your crush?  I had that every night when we video chatted.  One day, I finally decided to tell him how I felt.  I wish I could say I vividly remember that day but I don’t remember a thing.

I convinced him to come and visit me around Christmas time in 2014.  I knew that it was make or break it at this point because friendships don’t usually last if the relationship idea is thrown around.  You either start dating or lose touch.  Luckily, a few weeks later, he packed up everything he could into his car and drove across the country.  He’s been with me ever since. 🙂

 

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

House Update 6: Framing

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

DIY Pink Vanilla Sugar Scrub

Happy early Valentine’s day everyone!  I recently made this sugar scrub and I love it.  It’s very inexpensive and can make a great gift.

Ingredients

Sugar (any kind – I used granulated sugar.)
Oil (any kind – I used coconut oil)
Extract or essential oil (I used vanilla extract)
Coloring if desired (I used one drop of pink food coloring)

directions

Put some sugar into a small bowl (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup).  Slowly add oil and mix.  If your oil is a solid, melt it in the microwave or stove before adding it into the sugar.  Keep adding oil until the mixture is a liquid but still has granules.  If your sugar dissolves, add more.  The granules are what make it a scrub.

Once you have the right consistency, add your desired scents and coloring.

Next time I make this I’m going to use an oil that is always a liquid because my scrub hardens after each use and I need to melt it a bit before using it each time.  If I had an oil that did not turn to solid when cool, I wouldn’t need to melt the oil each time.

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

January 2017 Blog Income Report

This Month’s Top Post: How I use Smart Things for Home Automation – 329 Views this month.  Originally posted in January 2016

This Month’s Runner Up: 2016 Review and 2017 Goals – 294 Views

This month I hit quite a large milestone!  5K Followers!  I’m now officially half way to my goal of 10k.  I also had more income than typical and I have no idea why.  I just got lucky I guess!

January 2017 INCOME STATEMENT

Revenue
Ads – $216.40
Sponsored Posts – $5
Total: $221.40

Expenses
Tailwind – $10..00
Domain – $1.26
Hosting – $6.99
Etsy – $0.80
Total: $19.05

NET INCOME: $202.35

VIEW PREVIOUS BLOG INCOME STATEMENTS HERE.

Last month, I said that my goal was to get ahead in January because I was going to have a busy year.  What I didn’t realize is that January was going to be my busiest month in my day to day life.  Surprisingly, I was still able to get ahead!  I got all of my posts done for February and March except the house updates.  I’ll make those as new things keep happening at the house.

Since I’m ahead and now I’m headed into a bit of a slower time in my home life, I plan on focusing a bit more on growing the blog.  In February, I plan to join more Pinterest groups.  I’m currently in 18 groups.  It would be nice to double that this month.  I also plan on making some new content for Etsy and determining how frequently I want to add content.

Looking forward to a good month!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

House Update 5: The Foundation


Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Reverse Budgeting and the Digital System

slide13

This post is part of a series.  To start the series from the beginning, click here.  To browse through the series, click here.

A digital budgeting system utilizes credit cards, checking accounts, online interfaces, apps, and many other technological opportunities.  All your budgeting and tracking is kept in digital form and you are responsible for sticking to your budget without having tangible money to stop you from over-spending.

Budgeting Tools

Envelopes

Envelopes are a great budgeting option for the digital system as seen above in the cash system.  The main difference here is that the envelopes are digital and act mainly as a tracking device rather than a place to hold the money.

The digital envelope budget tracking downloadable is a great tool to use to track your budget one month at a time.  Start by allocating each portion of your paycheck to an envelope and noting the amount allocated on the top of the envelope.  When each bill comes due, note the actual amount of the bill and subtract from the allocated total to determine how much is left in that digital envelope.  Note that throughout the whole process, the funds will all reside in a savings or checking account.

Once you have your amount left, you can transfer the money to and from envelopes as needed.  This envelope tracking system can also be printed to track your budgeting.

Yes, you can use a printed tracking tool while having a digital system such as a bank account for storing your money.

Digital Envelope Budget Tracking

digital-envelope-budgeting-tracking

Check Register

If you are using a checking or savings account to store your money, chances are the bank has provided you with a check register.  This isn’t the best tool for breaking down your budget into separate categories but this is a great tool for making sure you don’t spend more than you have.

Every time you make a transaction, note the transaction in the ledger lines of the check register.  You will always know how much you have left in your account as long as you make sure to note every charge and deposit.

Computer Spreadsheet

Computer spreadsheets are a great way to track your digital funds.  This helps you break down your finances in any way that works best for you.  A computer spreadsheet is by far the most personalized method for budget tracking.

You can find budgeting spreadsheet tutorials here.

Apps/Programs

Apps and programs are also a great way to track digital finances.  Most banks have an app where you can see your funds instantly.  There are also other apps that can connect to your bank and create different graphs and spending charts.

Apps and programs are not as personalized as a spreadsheet and typically only show past finances rather than future finances.  Because of this, it can be difficult to create your budget for each category every month.

On the plus side, many apps and programs take virtually no time and you can see your breakdown of spending and saving instantly.

If you are interested in learning more about apps and programs, do a quick search in your platform of choice.  Example: For apps, search the Windows app store, IOS app store, or the Google Play store.  For Programs, use your preferred search engine.  One of the main programs for personal finance is Quicken which works much like a physical check register but can quickly draw up charts.

 

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

2017 Garden Plan

Hello everyone!  It’s about gardening time again!  I made this plan last year for the 2017 gardening season and of course I’m moving right in the middle of it.  So, I’m going to skip the onion this year and do as much as I can before we have to move.  I think I’m going to use a lot of pots instead.  Either way, I hope you enjoy the cinder block garden plot. 🙂

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

/ 5 Comments on 2017 Garden Plan

How I Saved $40k by the time I was 21

Hi everyone and welcome back!

Every month, I share a post on my series about how to stop living Paycheck to Paycheck.  Budgeting is something that is learned and it is my hopes that this series will provide some great stepping stones to help people.  The series will run through June of 2017 but if you want the whole book now, you can get it here.

Growing up, all of my friends thought I had no money because I rarely went to the movies or bought random crap at the gas station.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  I was saving my money.

Learning Young

From a young age, my parents taught me the importance of saving.  I remember being really young and receiving $4 per week allowance for doing simple tasks like making my bed every morning.   Out of these $4, I could spend $2 and I had to put $2 into my savings account at the bank. My parents had started this account for me when I was either born or really young and it already had included a small amount of funds from gifts.

As I got older and was able to do more chores, my allowance increased to $10 per week and the same rule applied.  $5 could be spent and $5 had to go to the bank.

Now, $5 doesn’t get you very far so I also had to save the spending money in order to get something from the store.  Over and over again, I would save up and by the time I would have enough money, I either didn’t want the item any more or I had saved so long that I didn’t want to see the money go.  So, most of my spending money ended up in the bank.

Working

When I was 12, I started babysitting.  This is when I really started saving.  My first year of babysitting I was making $3/hr watching one child or $5/hr for two children.  The first year of babysitting I made a little under $1000, all of which I put into the bank.  I continued babysitting and saving until the kiddos I babysat were old enough to stay home alone.  This was around when I was 19 years old.  My fees had gone up to $10/hr for one child and I didn’t have any jobs with two children at that point.

In addition to babysitting, throughout high school, I worked the concession stands during the games, helped out my neighbor in her dental office, and got my first job in a retail store.  I also helped neighbors with house-sitting or other house projects like painting.

I remember one day when I was around 16 where I had three babysitting gigs in one day.  I worked from about 9am to 9pm with only enough time to go from one house to another between.  As much work as it was, it was so rewarding!

When I was 18, I landed a job that paid very well considering I didn’t have a degree.  This job was fun and flexible around my school schedule.  I stayed with this job for two and a half years.

Living at home

I lived at home until I was 21 even though some days I thought it was going to kill me.  I definitely had the fear of being the boomerang kid who moves out too early and can’t make it on their own.  So, I made damn sure I was going to be successful when I finally did move out.

The entire time I lived at my parents, I saved all of the money I earned.  When I was ready to move out, I started looking for a home to buy.  I knew I never wanted to rent an apartment.  Of course though, that purchase fell through and I ended up having to rent.  Anyways, good thing I had extra money saved up to put towards rent right?

 

I always knew that there were going to be large purchases ahead and that by the time I turn 28 that I would have definitely need a new car.  I knew that I was also going to buy a house.  This is what kept me motivated to save and kept me from buying novelties.   I will be turning 28 in April of 2017 and am very happy that I saved early on.  I am now able to sell my house and purchase house #2 where I will start my family.

While not everybody may be able to live at home until they are 21, there is always a way to better your situation.  Saving money towards a larger goal or saying goodbye to living paycheck to paycheck requires the motivation to work hard to have a better future.

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

House Update 4: Low Voltage and First Meeting

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Honey Soy Pulled Pork

*This post may contain affiliate links*

I have been loving crock pot meals recently!  I usually cook multiple meals at once and store them for individual meals because Nick and I aren’t both home for dinner at the same time.  The crock pot allows me to cook multiple meals at once with one in each crock pot, one or two on the stove, and some in the oven as well.

For this meal, I tried a new recipe.  I recently bought sticky rice and used a small crock-pot to cook the rice.

The crock pot I used for the pork

While cooking the rice, I used the following ingredients to make the pulled pork

Ingredients

2.5-3 pound pork roast
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Directions

The directions said to include everything except the corn starch into the crock pot and cook until the pork is ready to pull.  Then, add the sauce into a sauce pan, add the cornstarch, and cook for about 4 minutes until the sauce is a thick consistency.

But, we all know I never actually follow a recipe to the tee so I just added the corn starch into the mixture when I first put it into the crock pot.  It worked out great and I had less to clean up!

 

This pork is easily one of our favorite meals now!  I’d probably do long grained rice next time though instead of sticky rice.  You can also add any vegetables you want to the meal.

Let me know if you make this recipe and which method you used for thickening the sauce.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

2016 Review and 2017 Goals

Happy New Year!  I can’t believe 2016 has ended and 2017 is here already!  This is going to be such a huge year for me!  It’s my 10 year high school reunion year (although I don’t think my school does reunions anymore).  It’s also the year that Nick and I get married and move into our house!  And of course, what you are all here for, it’s another year of growing the blog and getting to know all you blog lovers!

2016 review

2016 was the first full year of posting on this blog.  At the beginning of the year I was quite naive about how the blog was going to do.  I didn’t want to be overly optimistic so I ended up setting goals that I thought were attainable.  What I didn’t realize is that the goals were way too simple.  I accomplished all of my 2016 goals within the first two months of the year.   You can find all of my 2016 goals here.

The most notable successes from 2016 were completing my Media Kit, Increasing my post schedule to twice per week, and reaching 1000 followers on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. I also created a mid-year review for the end of the blog’s fiscal year.

2016 Top 6 Posts

How to Complete Your To Do List in 5 Steps3338 Views
BBQ Uglies Recipe Review – 1866 Views
How I Use Smart Things for Home Automation – 1248 Views
Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: The Basics of Income – 1020 Views
10 Must Haves in My Next Home – 919 Views
The Ultimate List of Blogging Groups on Facebook – 789 Views

2016 Achievements

  • I completed the Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck book.
  • I created a blogging planner downloadable linked at the end of this post.
  • I began posting every other week on YouTube.
  • I increased my posting volume from once per week to twice per week.
  • I started using Pinterest with Tailwind.
  • I increased my following by over 700%.

I’ve been tracking my stats for income, pageviews, and followers since I started this blog.  I recently added a trendline to each of the graphs.  The trendline (pink dotted line) is a prediction of where my stats will be from now until the end of June.  It will be interesting to see if I follow the trends.  The teal line shows my monthly stats.

Last year, I was way off with my goals so my goals for this year are going to be a bit different.  I am very clear on my goals for my blog but trying to split them apart into smaller chunks is a bit hard.  Because of this, I am going to create broad goals that don’t necessarily need to be completed in 2017.  As long as I’m making progress towards them, I’d call that a success.  I will revisit the goals periodically and make changes as necessary.

Social FOllowing Goals

  • Reach 10,000 Cumulative Followers
  • Reach 5,000 Pinterest Followers
  • Reach 1,000 YouTube Subscribers
  • Reach 1,000 Blog Subscribers

BLOGGING GOALS

  • Obtain an average (over 3 months) of 10,000 Page Views per month
  • Earn an average (over 3 months) of $1000 per month
  • Gain traffic direct or through social channels without participating in Facebook threads

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

DECEMBER 2016 BLOG INCOME

This Month’s Top Post: House Update #2 – 268 Views

This Month’s Runner Up: Paycheck Series: Choosing Your Budgeting Direction – 266 Views

It’s interesting to watch the sinuous waves of blogging stats.  Last month I had huge growth in followers but not much income.  This month, my income was almost triple last month but my follower growth was less than a third.  Progress is progress though.  I know that I can’t focus on too many pieces of the puzzle at once or things will fall apart.  Here’s how the stats looked for December.

DECEMBER 2016 INCOME STATEMENT

Revenue
Ads – $131.69
Affiliate – $8.50
Sponsored Posts – $61.60
Total: $201.79

Expenses
Tailwind – $10..00
Domain – $1.26
Total: $11.26

NET INCOME: $190.53

VIEW PREVIOUS BLOG INCOME STATEMENTS HERE.

Last month I mentioned that my goal for December was to maintain.  I have done just that.  I focused more on the content, scheduling, and routine rather than trying to grow.  I’d say this definitely paid off.  I noticed that the more solid I have everything, the more people want to view the site.  I had my largest amount of page views in a month (not including one month where two posts stumbled like crazy).  I’m hoping I can continue this trend.

My plan for this month is to get ahead.  I have a lot going on this year.  This year marks my 10 year high school reunion.  Less than a month after that is closing on the new house and the wedding.  All of that on top of my every day life is a lot plus I have to get my house in tip-top shape to sell it.  I’m hoping the timing works out well so we don’t have to move twice but we will see.

I’ve already started preparing the blog.  I have an outline of posts I’d like to write through March and with any luck, I’ll have all of February and March’s posts done by the end of January.  Of course, I’ll have house updates to add in throughout the month but hopefully this will help me stay afloat.

Happy New Year!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

House Update #3: The Design Center

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Reverse Budgeting & the Cash System

reverse-budgeting-the-cash-system

This post is part of a series.  To start the series from the beginning, click here.  To browse through the series, click here.

Let’s recap on reverse budgeting and the cash system.

Reverse Budgeting

Reverse budgeting is a three-step savings process.  The first step is to determine how much money you want to set aside each month for savings.   If you aren’t ready to start putting money into savings yet, no problem.  You can still use the model and implement saving when you are ready.

You will also want to create your spending goals or budget for each category at the beginning of the period.  A period can be a pay cycle, a month, or any time period that fits your budgeting needs.

Your budget will need to be reviewed periodically and adjusted as necessary.

Budgeting Tools

Envelopes

The first budgeting tool we will discuss is Envelopes.  You can either use digital or physical envelopes for your budgeting system.

Create an envelope for each of your spending and saving categories.

These are the expenses from the previous example.  Note that with the cash system, there is no use of credit cards.  Instead, we will change the credit card bill to a miscellaneous envelope.

Rent – $500 – 1st of the month
Electricity – $75 – 10st of the month
Water – $50 – 15th of the month
Phone – $50 – 15th of the month
Miscellaneous – $200 – 20th of the month
Internet – $50 – 20th of the month
Total monthly expenses: $925.00

In this example, we will create seven envelopes.

Cash System

The cash budgeting system is cash only.  You shouldn’t use credit or debit cards with this system.  Of course, you can still use bank accounts to store your savings or have your paychecks deposited if you would like.  The main point of the cash based system though is that you cannot over-spend because you physically don’t have the funds to do so.

envelopes-1

You can also note the amount due for each envelope.  Determine your savings goal based on your income.

The income from the previous example is $562.20 every other week.  This means that on a month with two paychecks you make $1124.40.  A good savings goal is $150. This gives you a little wiggle room of around $50 but still ensures that you are saving.  Note that twice a year you will have three paychecks and will need to adjust accordingly.

Rather than dive right into budgeting in two week periods, let’s start with something more simple.  Using a month as a period is the most straight-forward for planning.  At the beginning of the month, plan out the budget for each of your envelopes.

envelopes-2

Since you have about $50 extra as a buffer, you can choose where you would like to put these funds.  You can add them into the savings, add them to another envelope, or just hold them off to the side to use in case you over spend a bit.

Yes, it does sound counter-productive to overspend in a category but habits are hard to break.  Just because you have a budget doesn’t mean that you will be 100% faithful to your budget at first.  It is good to have a little buffer to help smooth the transition into budgeting.  Once you are past the learning curve, you can opt out of having this buffer.

Now that you have your envelopes labeled, fill the envelopes with cash.  Throughout the month, use the cash from the corresponding envelopes.  At the end of the month, you should be left with the money in the savings envelope.  If you are lucky, you will also end up with the buffer money that you can add to your savings envelope.  Well done!

 

A two-week period uses the same technique as the month long period.  The only big difference is that you need to plan your budgeting out a bit more in order to have enough money at each billing date based on the date you get paid.  Use the money from your paycheck to fill as many envelopes in chronological order as you can.  Make sure that the next pay date is before the next envelope without money.  This way you will be able to fill that envelope with the next paycheck prior to the expense being due.

You can also have a digital envelope system.  You can create envelopes like the ones in my example with a simple graphic.  Write your budget on your digital envelopes.  This time, instead of filling the envelopes, put your cash in a safe place and only take the amount you need at a time.

Let’s say it’s time to pay the electricity bill.  Take $75 out of your money stack and put it towards the bill.  Note on the envelope that the money has been spent by using an X over the funds.

This technique is a bit harder to track, especially with the miscellaneous folder.  The most important thing is to be pro-active.  If you are going grocery shopping, take a small amount of money out of your stack and note the deduction on your envelope.  If you don’t spend as much as you planned to, you can add the money back to your stack and add the amount back to your digital envelope.

 

Paper/Check Register – Printable

There are many ways to create a register.  You can use a register booklet typically found in the top of a checkbook.  You could also make your own tracking sheet by using a way to track your finances that makes the most sense to you.

There are many sites online that explain how to balance your register booklet so I will not be going into the details.

Instead, I will focus on some customizable options for tracking your spending.

The best place to find budgeting printables is Google Images.  There are many in a variety of different colors and formats.

Here are two very different styles.  The first tracking device is more of a checklist.  To use this, you would plan your budgeting at the beginning of the period and update the amount of each expense.  Once you make the payment, add the date to the date paid section.

budgeting

This form tracks a bit more information.  Start by creating a line for the starting date for your savings amount. Put that amount aside the total how much cash you have on hand.  Remember, this is the most important part of Reverse Budgeting, saving first.

Every time to take money out of the stack, write down what the money was for and how much.  Then, subtract the amount from the previous cash on hand balance.  This helps you know exactly how much cash you have left at all times.

budgeting-2

Computer Spreadsheet

We just created a tangible tracking sheet for your spending.  If you prefer, you could create the exact same tracking sheet in a spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel or Google Docs.  This would allow you to check your budget from the computer or even on your phone if you have cloud based documents.

Apps/Programs

It is definitely possible to use apps and programs with a cash system.  However, for many, the apps may be too complicated or have too many options.  For this reason, I am going to leave forgo the topic of apps and programs for the cash system.  Not to worry though, I will be discussing apps and programs in the digital section.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

How to Automate Your Media Kit

how-to-automate-your-media-kit

In my last few Blog Income Reports, I’ve mentioned that I was working on creating an automated Media Kit.  I am very happy that my media kit is now complete!

Before you read the post, open my media kit in a new tab so it will be easier to follow along.

The header

I began the post with a simple image header.  The image includes a photo of me on the left with a short bio on the right.  I created this image as one graphic in PowerPoint.  Clicking this image takes  the reader to my About Me page.

Social interaction

This is where it starts to get exciting.  I went back and forth so many times trying to figure out how to get a live count of my followers.  Really, I made this more complicated than it needed to be because I wanted to use my own graphics.  I tried a table where row 1 was the image and row 2 was the count.  This looked great in desktop mode but not mobile.  I eventually landed on using the image caption.

I use a plug-in for the plugin Social Count Plus to generate the live counts.  This plugin will allow you to use social icons they have pre-loaded or if will allow you to generate a short-code for just the count.  I used just the count and added the short-code to the description of my image.

*This taught me that you can use HTML in the image caption!  Fantastic!

My social interaction also has a basic image that I created for my blog income reports and a link to the page where I have them all compiled.

General Info

The next section is pretty simple.  I created two graphics in Power Point and uploaded them to the page.  The services graphic links to all of the webpages where I’ve been featured. My Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck series is linked in the image about the posting schedule.

Stats

This is the part that probably took me the longest to figure out.  I was originally trying to use advanced coding to show my unique users and pageviews.  These are the most often used stats in the blogging world it seems.  It ended up being way to complicated though so I settled on a live image of sessions.  Sessions still gives a general idea of how to blog is doing plus I post my exact page views and users each month in my Blog Income Reports.

Two plugins were needed to get this widget onto the Media Kit.  The first plug-in is Google Analytics Dashboard.  This is the plugin I used to create the widget.  I chose to show the last 30 days of traffic.  The second plugin is Widgets on Pages.  This plugin allowed me to display the widget on the page by using short-code.

Have you also automated your media kit?  If so, I’d love to see it!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

O’ Christmas Tree

christmas

wp_20141129_16_36_46_pro

wp_20131121_002

wp_20161119_11_53_47_rich

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

House Update #2

 

 

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

/ 7 Comments on House Update #2

Stuffed Tomatoes

stuffed-tomatoes

 

Welcome back to the blog!

Today there’s a recipe for stuffed tomatoes.  Growing up, we used to have stuffed peppers all the time.  I loved the filling, but not the pepper.  Now, my body can’t even seem to process peppers.  So, I decided to try to use a tomato instead and it worked!

Cut the top part out of the tomato like you would cut the top off a pumpkin.  Then scoop out the insides.  Be sure to use a pretty large tomato.   The recipe calls for 6 large peppers.  I used 8 medium tomatoes.

The Filling

1.5 lbs ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup Minute rice
1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
salt/pepper/Italian seasoning/garlic to taste

Brown the ground beef with the onion then add rice, seasoning, and tomato sauce to the mixture.  I like to leave some sauce out to the side so I can top my stuffed tomatoes with it before I put them in the oven.

Fill and top the tomatoes then bake at 350 – 375 for 20-30 minutes or until the skin starts peeling off of the tomatoes.

Try it out and tag me on Instagram @keepitsimplediy.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

/ 8 Comments on Stuffed Tomatoes

Best Cat Litter and Litter Boxes

cat-litter

**This page includes affiliate links but all opinions are completely my own.**

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now but something very odd has happened.  I love the Omega Paw self cleaning litter box.  This litter box is so easy to maintain and you don’t have to scoop!  I used this litter box for years with multiple kittens.  I did notice though that this litter box works best with Tidy Cats clumping litter.  The Tidy Cats Litter didn’t stick to the bottom of the box as much as other litters did.

This bathroom is such a hit that there wasn’t a line outside of the bathroom.  There was a line in the bathroom!  When I had four kittens in my home, I had two of these and one Automatic Litter box.

I used the Nature’s Miracle litter box for about six months.  I noticed once again though that the litter I used with it needed to be Tidy Cats.  Even the Nature’s Miracle brand litter didn’t work that well with the litter box.  The only thing I didn’t really like about this box is that the automatic cleaner was so loud!


Something very odd is that my newest little kitten member is unlike any of the other kittens and doesn’t like something about either the Tidy Cats litter or having a roof over his head in the bathroom.  I’m working on trying to figure out which this is and hoping he stops peeing on my carpet before we move into the new house.

I decided to buy a cheap IRIS litter box and some Cat Attract litter to see if I could solve the problem.  I believe Benji doesn’t like Tidy Cats.  He no longer pees on my carpet downstairs but I keep smelling urine upstairs.  I am now using the IRIS litter boxes on both floors.

So, ups and downs.  I now have to scoop the litter instead of using the Omega Paw.  And I’m trying to find the best odor eliminating litter that is easy to maintain.


And now for some cuteness!  My kittens favorite toys ever are Nerf Darts and Ping Pong balls.  Not even cat toys!  Of course, their next runner up is anything small with cat nip in it!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

10 Blogging Mistakes I’ve Made

10-blogging-mistakes-ive-made In the year and a half that I’ve been regularly blogging, I’ve learned so much.  Of course, part of the learning process is making mistakes.  Mistakes, while annoying at the time, are a tool for growth.   Today I’m sharing 10 blogging mistakes I’ve made so far hoping that this will help you grow without having to make the mistake.

I didn’t create pinterest worthy images

For the first six months of posting on my blog, I didn’t create Pinterest worthy images.  I didn’t see why the images mattered since the content was what I was trying to promote.  Little did I know that the way you promote the content is with the eye catching picture.  I’ve now finished going back to old posts and making images.

I switched to the wrong wordpress

How many people have done this?  I started my blog on Blogger and knew that I needed to make the switch to WordPress.  Problem was, I didn’t even know there was a .org so I registered with WordPress.com.  Then I had to switch everything over to WordPress.org.  Switching twice was such a pain!

I updated my theme file without having a child theme

Yes, this was quite painful.  I did quite a bit of customizing to my theme and CSS file.  For quite some time Child Themes didn’t make any sense to me and I didn’t even think about using a plugin.  So, when my theme updated, all of my changes were lost.  I eventually found that there are plugins that create a child theme for you.

I added two sets of google api tracking code

This was an interesting one.  I was working on my Media Kit  and trying to show live stats.  I decided I’d try some plugins to see how they worked.  One of the plugins worked pretty well but my stats seemed off.  One major red flag was that my bounce rate was 0.  I then realized that the plugin added tracking code to my site so the code was then being tracked twice. Deleting the new plugin to resolve the issue.

I deleted my blog’s pinterest board

While working on Pinterest images for my old posts, I uploaded some pins to my blog’s board.  The pins wouldn’t load properly and I decided to delete the pin and try again.  I ended up moving too quickly and deleted the board without realizing what I was doing.  There is no way of getting the board back so I had to re-create it and add all of the pins one by one.

2017-blog-planner

Get your FREE 2017 Blogging Planner

I used categories as tags and didn’t use tags

Categories and tags didn’t make any sense to me at first.  I ended up adding a ton of categories and decided I would use those instead of the tags.  Once I was a bit more versed in WordPress I learned that categories are a way to sort your posts and tags are more for SEO.  I had to go back and re-categorize and tag all of my posts.

I didn’t use Yoast SEO

SEO is yet another thing I didn’t know anything about.  Actually, I still don’t know much about it.  But, I do know now that I need to have an optimized focus keyword the post needs to have good readability.  I look for those green dots!

I didn’t set a featured image

The featured image showed up looking a bit off when it was displayed on the post so I didn’t use it.  When I created my pages that automatically show posts in each category, I realized that the featured image was needed to show an image for the post.  After a bit of research, I found that there are quite a few plugins that allow you to choose if you want to display your featured image on the main post or not.

I burned myself out

When I started my blog, I decided to post three times a week.  This was way too much!  In the beginning, there’s a ton of behind the scenes webpage design.  This makes it hard to have time to create great posts.  After about two months of blogging I was completely worn out and took a three month break.  When I started up again, I decided I would only post once per week until I was ready to post more.  Now, i post twice per week.  I knew I was ready when I had so many ideas for posts that I didn’t know when I would be able to post them all.

I didn’t have any group boards on pinterest

This wasn’t exactly a mistake.  I just literally didn’t know how to add a group board.  I’d found many group boards but I was at a loss for how to add them.  One day I had a light bulb moment though and I clicked into other bloggers pages to see which boards they were part of.  Many of those board has instructions at the top of the board giving contact information to request addition to the boards.

There we have it.  I know I will continue to make mistakes, learn, and grow.  Hopefully this post causes you to avoid the troubles that I went  through.

Let me know in the comments what your biggest mistake blogging has been.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

House Update #1

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

/ 1 Comment on House Update #1

November 2016 Blog Income Report: Affiliates Wanted

november-blog-income-report

Hi Everyone!  I have big news!  The Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck book is here!  The series will run through June of 2017 so get the book and have all of the amazing knowledge 7 months early!

Affiliates Wanted!book-cover

Yes, I’m also looking for affiliates for both of my books.  Check out the books here.  Affiliate commission is 25% of the sale.

TO APPLY TO BE AN AFFILIATE:  Click here or  go to the Store Affiliates link by hovering over SHOP in the menu.

I will provide a free copy of one of the two books to each affiliate by email and provide further instructions manually once you subscribe.  I look forward to working with you!

 

Now on to the stats!

This Month’s Top Post: Blogging Vulnerability (Vlog) – 264 Views

This Month’s Runner Up: We’re Building a House! – 263 Views

This month was a huge month for me in terms of follower growth.  Not so much for income though.  I turned down quite a few sponsored post opportunities this month because I wasn’t too fond of the product.  I want to make sure to only promote products I would use.

November 2016 INCOME STATEMENT

Revenue
Ads – $101.89
Sponsored Posts – $3.50
Total: $105.39

Expenses
Tailwind – $10..00
Giveaway Buyin – $10.00
Post Supplies – $8.97
Total: $28.97

NET INCOME: $76.42

VIEW PREVIOUS BLOG INCOME STATEMENTS HERE.

november-monthly-updates

Last month I mentioned that I had made a trendline to project my follower growth.  I was quite impressed when my following grew by 375 last month to put me at 3804 followers.  This month, my projection said I would be at 4500.  That’s 700 new followers and I definitely didn’t think it was remotely possible.

Excitingly, I gained 903 new followers this month putting me at 4707.  How crazy is that!  I cannot believe the growth!  Thank you so much for supporting me and my blog!

My goals for this month were to work on the Paycheck series and do a bit more on YouTube.  I definitely succeeded on both of these tasks because the Paycheck series is complete and I have a ton of new YouTube ideas!  Yes, this month my first vlog got the most views out of any of my posts.  I am going to be posting updates on the new house and the building process starting in December!

My focus for December is to maintain.  I’ve had a lot of growth over the past few months and I want to make sure that everything goes smoothly with gaining affiliates and maintaining my posting schedule.  I definitely don’t want to grow too fast and let the details slip away.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

How I Made Over $1500 Blogging!

how-i-made-over-1500-blogging

**This post contains affiliate links**

Today’s post is a very exciting one!  I began blogging in July of 2015 and by the end of October 2016, I had made over $1500!  I began this blog because I thought about it one day and realized that I no longer had any hobbies.  I had previously been in grad school, working 50 hours per week, and buying my first house.  This definitely left me no free time.

A few years after life settled down, I was working 40 hours per week and had no side obligations.  I thought about creating another book but I wasn’t really in the mood for a long drawn out project.  Thus, I began the blog with no idea what I was going to write about!

In November of 2015, I made my first $9 on Izea. I think I just got lucky with this one.  I hadn’t been trying to make money blogging at this point but I did know if was something I wanted to look into.  At this point I decided I was going to take my blog more seriously in 2016.

The first steps

The first step I took towards monitizing my blog was to become self-hosted through wordpress.org.  I made this transition at the end of 2015 and in January of 2016 I added Google Adsense.  Adsense has been by far my most consistent income source.

Here is a rough breakdown of my income sources.

Ads – $1020.00
Freelancing –  $410.00
Affiliate –  $15
Sponsored – $140.00
Product Sales – $8.00

Ads

Ads have been by far my largest income source.  I use Google Adsense and Media.net but I’ve only made about $4.00 from Media.net.  The rest comes from Google Adsense.

I do have a trick for Google Adsense.  The more present I am on my blog and social media, the more money I make.  There are quite a few Facebook Groups that I use to gain interaction through my site.  As long as I’m consistently participating in these threads, I see the reward.  One thing to note is that you cannot ask anyone to click on your ads!

Freelancing

Earlier this year,  Izea had a survey for Ebyline, a company they bought that creates product descriptions for Ebay.  I participated in their projects for two months and earned over $400.00.  I haven’t had any freelancing work since.

Affiliate Programs

I’ve heard a lot of great news about affiliate programs but honestly I haven’t been that impressed.  I’ve made about $15 in affiliate programs and could list all of the ones I belong to but, I wouldn’t recommend using any of them.  Plus, it just adds a bunch of unnecessary selling to a page which could turn off your readers.

Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are something that just starting working for me!  Early in the year, I had a couple of small sponsored posts through Izea (roughly $10 total).  Once I hit 3000 followers, I was able to sign up for Linquia.  I have now participated in two campaigns and have made about $120.  Something to note here is that I also turned down two campaigns because they didn’t align with my blog or my opinions.

Product sales

This area is one of my goals to improve over the next year or so.  I have a couple digital products on Etsy and I have my book.  Once I finish my Paycheck Series, I will compile the posts into a digi-book.  At this point, I haven’t seen very much activity or income generated from Product Sales.

Something else to note is that I don’t have a large following.  I get roughly 3000-4000 page views every month.  This stat also just increased from the 2000-3000 range a couple months ago.  Anything is possible.  Best of luck to all of you bloggers!  Let me know if you have any tips as well!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Choosing Your Budgeting Tools

choosing-your-budgeting-tools

This post is part of a series.  To start the series from the beginning, click here.  To browse through the series, click here.

Choosing your budgeting tools is one of the most exciting parts of budgeting.  This is where you begin to fit your budgeting to your style.

There are so many different types of budgeting tools to choose from.  Before picking out the types of tools that would be best for you, take a step back and think about your daily life.

Do you find yourself on the computer often?  If so, what types of things are you doing on the computer?  Do you use the computer just for games and chatting or do you also use the computer for emailing, school work, or for your job?  What is your comfort level with the computer?

Now that you’ve begun to think about the tools in your daily life, think about your comfort level with those tools.  Is using the computer a chore to you?  Or, do you enjoy the computer?  This could be a big hint as to which tool you should use.

 

Some of the most common budgeting tools include Computer programs, Computer or Phone Apps, Spreadsheets, Printables, and Envelopes for money storage.

These tools are not to be mixed up with the budgeting system you chose (Cash or Digital).  You can absolutely mix and match the systems with any type of tool.  For example, you can create digital envelopes or tangible envelopes.  You can also use an all cash banking method but use a digital tool to track your finances.  Or on the flip side, you could use a hand written register to balance your electronic funds.

 

With any tool you choose, make sure that the tool fits your lifestyle and that it will not cause you to go out of your way to use it.

 

Still haven’t quite decided on your tool of choice?  Consider your phone usage.  Do you have a smart phone? If so, do you use your phone for mobile banking currently?  Do you use an app to track your grocery list?  If so, an app may be a great option for you since it will fit in well with your routines.

Not comfortable with apps or computers?  A handwritten register or a printable may be the best option for you.

Once you decide which tool or tools you want to use, use them for a few months.  If you find the tool annoying or too time consuming, feel free to switch to another tool.  The point of budgeting is to make your life easier, not harder.

 

Join me in Part 4 as we talk about how to put it all together.  I will go into depth on all of the different budgeting directions, systems, and tools.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Host the Perfect Holiday Party with Stella!

stella

What better way to start the Holidays than with a family get together?  I’m proud to be partnering with Stella Cheese for this post to kick off the holiday season!

Stella cheese feature a rich flavor that goes great in so many combinations!  My holiday party tray was inspired by my fiance who works in a wine bar.

I was getting ready to make a cheese platter with pepperoni, crackers, and cheese when he completely changed my mind.  The platter is now more elegant and fancy, perfect for the holidays!

Purchase Stella Cheese for your upcoming holiday parties.
stella-cheese-bears

My cheese platter features Stella Fontinella cheese, three colors of apples, crackers, bread, and honey.  While it may sound like a bit of an odd pair, the honey brings out the richness of the cheese and is so delicious.  Just spread some honey on your bread and top with cheese.  MMM.

It’s also your lucky day because Stella is hosting a contest to win a trip to Napa Valley, California!  For more information on their contest and to enter to win, visit Stella here.

Stella makes your holiday party planning stress free because you know you will have a snack everyone will enjoy!

stella-platter

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing

crock-pot-chicken-and-stuffing

This crock pot chicken and stuffing recipe has been my go to meal for the last few months. I originally saw the idea on Pinterest and noticed there were quite a few variations.

This recipe is super simple and great for the winter!  Also with Thanksgiving this week, adding turkey instead of chicken can make a quick Thanksgiving meal!

Ingredients

Chicken or Turkey Breasts
Cream of (your choice) soup
Boxed stuffing mix
Instant potatoes

Directions

  • I line the bottom of my crock pot with thawed chicken breasts (usually 3) then season as desired.
  • I then pour one can of condensed soup over the chicken.  This can be cream of chicken or any other creamy soup.
  • Next, I prep the stuffing.  In the images above I added 2 cups of water with chicken bullion in it to the boxed stuffing mix.  I’ve since adjusted the recipe to only one cup of water without any extra flavoring.  The first go around was a bit too salty and the stuffing was more watery than I desire.  Feel free to adjust the water until the stuffing comes out just how you like it!
  • Once the water is all absorbed into the stuffing mix, I dump the stuffing into the crock pot so it evenly covers the chicken.

I’ve gone back and forth about adding the potatoes into the crock pot or making them separate.  I’ve been using instant potatoes which are super quick to just boil some water in the microwave then mix.  In the pictures above, I kept the potatoes separate but recently I’ve been adding them to the pot.  It turns about about the same either way.

Hope you enjoy!

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Blogging Vulnerability

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Cash For Christmas: 2016 Giveaway!

cash-for-christmas-giveaway

As I grow into my blog, I’m getting to participate in more and more things!  Today I’m participating in a Giveaway!  There will be multiple winners for cash prizes.

Enter as many times as you would like below!

To get that Holiday spirit started, I’ve decided to reminisce a bit.

Merry Memories – Christmas Caroling

In high school and college I was very into choir and my Christmas Caroling group.  One of my fondest memories in choir was performing with my show choir on the stage in Magic Kingdom Disney World.  As great as all of my choir memories are, my favorite memory from my school days is caroling.

When I was in elementary school, one of my friend’s brothers needed to earn a badge by doing something good for others.  His mom suggested caroling and they invited me to go along.  We went to a nursing home down the street to carol.  This was my first experience with this kind of a performance and it was amazing!

Everyone knew all of the words and was able to sing along.  The pure joy and happiness I saw on all of the resident’s faces was amazing!

I specifically remember one lady in the Alzheimer’s unit who had a baby doll.  She had such a blast singing along to her doll.  You could tell that she was having one of the best days she had had in a long time.  This is when I decided I wanted to carol every year.

We continued to carol every year until about mid high school when friendships began to change.

~~~

I decided that I could not let the magic of caroling be lost because of a lost friendship.  I gathered up a large group of friends, planned the event with the nursing home and even had a couple rehearsals prior to the day of caroling.

The caroling group changed a lot over the schooling years.  My fondest memories of caroling are from my college days.  Everyone in my caroling group was a music major except myself.  This left me a bit out of the loop but, my business major came in handy with coordinating the events.

We performed multiple times at the Zoo, multiple Botanical Gardens, and of course quite a few nursing homes.  One of the nursing homes even paid us!  Of course, in the spirit of Christmas, we donated the money to Charity.

I have a few videos from a set part of our caroling.  This was in the dining hall of one of the nursing homes.  After the set performance, we were able to walk around and sing with all of the residents.

The Holly and the Ivy/Up on the Housetop mashup was one of my favorite songs!  We start out traditional, then speed up the beat, and then transition songs in harmony. (don’t mind the camera quality from a decade ago)

Here’s another one of my favorites.  Much more traditional than the Holly and the Ivy.

As I’ve grown, I haven’t been able to coordinate a group of singers every year but I’ve done decently.  After moving across town and into a new neighborhood, I was able to find some neighbors on Facebook to carol with.  This brought back all of my fond memories but just wasn’t the same.  Everyone had a million different things on their minds that took away from the overall experience.

I am determined though to get back into caroling.  It is such a rewarding and enjoyable experience and I can’t wait to share the experience with people who come into my life.

On to the Giveaway

2016post
Are you getting geared up for the shopping season? Do you need extra cash for Christmas?? Don’t we all!

We are so excited to be giving away $330 in cash prizes for you to use starting Thanksgiving weekend. Here are the prizes:

1 – $100 Amazon Gift Card
1 – $75 Target Gift Card
2 – $25 Walmart Gift Card
1 – $25 Kohls Gift Card
3- $10 Starbucks Gift Card

There will be 8 winners in this giveaway. Each winner will receive a gift card code to use on the online store or in the actual store.

Now its time to meet our wonderful co-hosts who have made this giveaway possible.

Cash for Christmas

Starting at the top row we have:

Terri – Christmas Tree Lane, Melissa – The Farm Girl Gabs, Christine – Your Strong Tower, Audrey – That Recipe & Munofore, Dana – Goods Giving Back, Tammy – Creative K Kids, Trish – Creative Simplicity by Trish Sutton, Kim – Shopping Kim and Enter Online Sweeps, Ali – Home Crafts by Ali and Ali’s Book Nook, Kelly – Typically Simple, Kim – The Resourceful Mom, Katie – The Ramblings of an Overtired Mama, Angie – God’s Growing Garden, Sarah – Devastate Boredom, Karen – Raising Little Superheroes, Gina – Money Savvy Living, Beverly – Eclectic Red Barn, Melissa – Deliciously Savvy, Beth – Our Pretty Little Girls, Meredith – The Mom of the Year, Laura – Michigan Saving and More, Debbie – Heartbeats ~Soul Stains, Carol – The Red Painted Cottage, Tiffany – A Wandering Vine, Monica – Mommy & Love, Holly – Keeping Life Sane, Sinea – Ducks ‘n a Row, Cindy – Simple Steps for Living Life, Tammy – My Life Abundant, Kari – Keep It Simple DIY, Danielle – Dancing with My Daughter

Please stop by and say hi to these wonderful ladies and their blogs.

The giveaway will end midnight on Wednesday, November 24th, the night before Thanksgiving. You will have 48 hours to respond to the email claiming the prize. If you respond right away, we will get you the gift card code promptly so that you can shop with it on Black Friday! If we don’t hear in 48 hours, we will choose another winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

We’re Engaged!

were-engaged

Hello readers!  I have some very exciting news today!  Nick and I got engaged!  Actually, we got engaged on October 1st.  Since I make my posts a month in advance, my timing is a bit off.  But, this gives me ample time to soak up every exciting moment!

Everyone always asks how the guy proposes!  So, here’s the story.

We’ve been looking at rings all year.  Literally, since like January.   We weren’t seriously looking though until a few months ago.  The big event that got us really looking to find ‘the ring’ was that we decided to build a house!

For us, each new step of our relationship is a step we want to take together.  So, I was definitely not surprised by the proposal.  Quite the opposite actually.  I was included in the planning!

Since my ring is more expensive than Nick’s, I bought him a drone.  And, of course because we’re building a house and the footage will be amazing!

Luckily, we finally found a ring that I liked since I don’t really wear jewelry to begin with.  Once we had the ring in tote we went over to our new property to capture some drone footage.

Nick walked up to me, got down on one knee and then looked at me.  I looked at him and said ..”what?”.  Fully knowing what he wanted to say.  I told him he has to actually ask for me to say yes!  haha!  His reasoning was that the drone doesn’t have a microphone so it wouldn’t be recorded!

So, take two was really cute.  He said that he can propose in any way and then lifted the ring out of the box towards me and asked me to marry him.  Of course, I said yes!  This was just perfect to me.  It was simple and cute.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

/ 5 Comments on We’re Engaged!

October 2016 Blog Income Report

october-blog-income-report

This Month’s Top Post: 10,000 Cupcakes Challenge – 253 Views

This Month’s Runner Up: Why I Don’t Buy Bottled Water – 225 Views

Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween!  I’m drafting out this post while handing out candy.

This month I started off to a great start!  I got all of my posts planned for November and December and even created most of my Pinterest art in the first week of the month!

Speaking of Pinterest, who else was irked by the layout change?  Since my old board covers no longer fit the new layout, I created all new ones!

While I was being productive, I decided to make all of the pins for my #TBT posts.  I was able to get all of November and December’s art done.  This means that I’m now done creating Pinterest art for older posts!

I noted last month that I was starting to write a bit more personally.  I now have a few posts about my life and all of my new excitement!  I am both thrilled and anxious to be sharing my life on the internet.  Either way, I’m diving in and  hoping for a good outcome!

OCtober 2016 INCOME STATEMENT

Revenue
Ads – $153.85
Sponsored Posts – $58.20
Affiliate Programs – $1.81
Total: $213.86

Expenses
Tailwind – $10..00
Etsy – $0.50
Post Supplies – $3.85
Total: $14.35

NET INCOME: $199.51

VIEW PREVIOUS BLOG INCOME STATEMENTS HERE.

october-monthly-updates

This month I was able to grow my following by 375  people!  What’s interesting with this finding is that it completely follows my trend line.  Last month I created a trend-line on my followers graph just for fun.  The amount of exponential growth seemed unrealistic to me (and still does).  But, this month, I was on point with the projections at 3804 followers.  (3800 Projected)

Last month I mentioned that my plan was to focus on my Paycheck  series.  I was able to write three sections for the series last month.  One was posted in October, and then one is for November and the other December.  Next month, I will continue to work on this series as I am hoping to be able to put the series into a digital E-Book at the beginning of the year.  I will then continue to publish one section per month.  **Eek.  Here’s to accountability.  I hadn’t written this goal for the public yet.  This just means I need to wrap it up!

Next month I also plan to do a bit more with YouTube.  I used to really love making YouTube videos when I was younger and I’m excited to get back into this and share a bit about myself and all of my new adventures.

Thank you all for your continued support!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

We’re Building a House!

slide3

I have very exciting news!  Nick and I are building a house! We’ve been looking at model homes for about a year now.  Our intentions weren’t necessarily to purchase a home but one came up that is just perfect for us!

The new house is double the size of our current house and was a lot cheaper than we were expecting.  The housing market is crazy high where we live right now.  We got lucky because I bought my current house when the market was low so my house almost doubled in value!

Our lot line goes from the yellow fire hydrant to somewhere on the other side of the neighbor’s foundation.  Not quite sure yet.

snapshot-2

A few months ago, I created a post of the 10 Must Haves in My Next Home.  When we move into this house, it will have 9/10 of the must haves.  The only one missing is the movie room in the basement.  We plan to finish the basement on our own when we are ready.  Then, this house will be a 10/10!

The building process will take ten months and I know I will talk a lot about each part of the house.  For now, I will mention my favorite part about each level.

Next to the pantry in the kitchen is a little nook that I am going to use for my blogfice.  I typically just blog on the couch so I don’t need much room.  Did I mention it’s close to all the snacks?

slide1

My favorite part about the upstairs is that we have a walk-through shower!  Yes!  I had never seen a walk through shower before seeing one of this builder’s homes.  This is perfect for us.  The shower is out of the way and we don’t have a lot of dead space in front of the sinks.

slide2

Nick and I are so excited for this whole process and I’m excited to document along the way.  We will be taking drone footage and trying our hand at editing and may even attempt to vlog the building process.  We shall see.  I don’t talk very naturally to the camera.

Stay tuned!  So much excitement to come!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Choosing Your Budgeting System

choosing-your-budgeting-system

This post is part of a series.  To start the series from the beginning, click here.  To browse through the series, click here.

Once you’ve determined which budgeting direction you will use, you need to start to layout the specifics of your budget plan.

One of the fundamental parts of creating your budgeting plan is to choose between a cash budgeting system and a digital budgeting system.

These are not to be confused with budgeting tools such as envelopes, check registers, and other types of tools.  All of the tools for budgeting can be customized to fit the system you decide to use.

A cash budgeting system is exactly that.  It’s cash.  No credit cards, just cash.  Of course, when you get to the point of saving, it could be a good idea to open a savings account rather than keeping a large supply of money around, but we’ll get to that later.

A digital budgeting system utilizes credit cards, checking accounts, online interfaces, apps, and many other technological opportunities.  All of your budgeting and tracking is kept in digital form and you are responsible for sticking to your budget without having tangible money to stop you from over-spending.

There are many benefits to both a cash system and a digital system.

Cash Budgeting

Cash budgeting is great for you if you like being able physically hold your money that way you know exactly how much you have at all times without having to log into an app or account.  Cash budgeting is also a great option for you if you dislike or have trouble with technology.  The system you use for budgeting should easily fit into your lifestyle.  If you don’t like being on the computer or phone, a cash budgeting system may be best for you.

Digital Budgeting

Digital budgeting is also a great budgeting system.  This system is good for you if you enjoy technology and find it easier to look in your app to see what your balance is.  While the digital world makes so many things easy for us, you need to pay special attention to your spending.  Unlike the cash system, where you literally can’t spend anything more than you have, the digital system shows no boundaries when you pull out the credit or debit card and run a transaction.  On the other hand, with digital budgeting there are a ton of options for charting your spending so you can analyze where all of the money is going.

Whichever budgeting direction you choose, make sure it fits in with your lifestyle and your budgeting needs.

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Halloween Kittens

kittens

spider

benji-pumpkin

lola-spider

pumpkin-benji

halloween-kittens

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

The Teal Pumpkin Project

teal-pumpkin

A few years ago I came across the Teal Pumpkin Project while searching online.  The Teal Pumpkin Project is a way for neighbors to show that they provide treats for all children including children with food allergies.

Placing a Teal Pumpkin on your front porch on the night of Trick-or-Treating shows that you have treats that are not only food products.  Some ideas include spider rings, tattoos, stickers, and other fun trinkets that children love.

This project was especially important to me because for over five years I had a ‘mystery diagnosis’ so to speak and I was unable to eat anything milk related.  It was so severe that I couldn’t even eat something that had been touched by a utensil that had also touched any milk product.

My mystery has been solved and now I am happily back to normal, but not everybody is so lucky.

For the kiddos who don’t have a choice and have nut, milk, gluten, or any other allergies, the Teal Pumpkin project is a great way to show your support and offer them their treat on Halloween!

I am in no way affiliated with the Teal Pumpkin Project but here is their link if you want more info!

Have you participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project?  Tag me in your photos on Instagram!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

10 Things to Know Before Becoming a Homeowner

homeowner

Becoming a homeowner is a very exciting time.  The freedom of having your own home and being able to make any changes you want is very fulfilling. With this freedom comes a whole lot of responsibility.

  1. You have to put the trash out on trash day. Unlike apartment living where there is always a dumpster to throw your trash, neighborhoods have trash picked up once per week. If you miss it, you will have to store your trash an extra week which quickly piles up.
  2. You need to own fire extinguishers. Granted, you should also own a fire extinguisher if you live in apartment. I never thought of it before owning a home though. I have two fire extinguishers in my home. One on each floor.
  3. You need to maintain the lawn. This is a big one for me. Many of my neighbors do a horrible job at maintaining their lawn which makes the neighborhood not as pleasant to live in. Nobody wants to be going on a walk and have to climb over your grass and duck under your trees that are impeding the sidewalks.
  4. You need to shovel the driveway in a timely fashion – be sure to own a shovel before the winter season starts is you are in an area that gets snow. In many cities it is mandatory to remove the snow from the sidewalk in front of your house within 24 hours of the snowfall ending.  This is for the safety of everyone walking. It is typically not required to shovel your driveway but it does make your home look more presentable and helps avoid slipping on the ice.
  5. You need to change the filter in the furnace monthly – You should change the filter in the furnace each month. I have to admit, this has probably been the one thing that I still struggle with remembering to do.  But, it is very important because it helps provide clean air for your home and can prevent fires.
  6. You may need to blow out your sprinklers – If you live in an area with freezing temperatures in the winter, you need to blow out your sprinklers and exterior pipes for the cold season. Otherwise, the water in your pipes will freeze and expand causing the pipes to burst.  But, you won’t know they’ve burst until it’s warm again and you go to use the pipes.  Then you are in for potentially a huge mess and the pain of repairing the pipes.
  7. You may need to disconnect hoses in the winter – This is for the exact same reason as blowing out the sprinkler. If you leave a hose connected to the spout, the pipes are more likely to freeze.
  8. You need to trim the trees – As a neighbor, this is one of the things you can do not only for yourself but for your neighbors. Of course, a trimmed tree always looks better than a tree that hasn’t been maintained but have you walked around your tree and noticed if it’s covering anything?  Is it going over your neighbors fence or hanging onto their driveway?  Does it hang over the sidewalk blocking the path or making your neighbors duck?  Nothing is more annoying than being on a peaceful walk and having to duck or maneuver to avoid a tree that hasn’t been maintained.  Well, mosquitoes are more annoying but this is still pretty high on my list.
  9. Neighbors can still hear your loud music – Just because you live in a house does not mean your neighbors can’t hear your music. Yes, we can still hear your loud music even if you live down the street and our windows and doors are all closed.  Please be considerate and keep the music at an acceptable level during acceptable hours.
  10. Having two fridges makes it easier – This one is very helpful! I’ve had two fridges most of the time that I’ve owned my house but for a majority of the time I only used one of them.  Now, it’s a habit to use both and it is so helpful!  No more freezer Tetris!

What tips do you have people who want to become homeowners?

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Crock Pot Hot Wings

hot-wings

 

Welcome back to my Blog!

I am very excited about this post because I have been obsessing over all things hot wings recently!  I came across this extremely simple way of making hot wings at home and had to try it!

The first step here is to buy chicken wings.  I’ve tried multiple kinds of wings and I’ve realized that I like the King Soopers brand the best.  They may not be quite as cost efficient as the Costco brand but I like them better because the skin is thinner.

This recipe is literally as easy as 1, 2, 3 as cheesy as that sounds!

Step 1: Drop as many chicken wings as you would like into your crock pot.  Add enough sauce to the pot  to lightly coat the wings.  If your chicken wings are frozen, just set the temp to high and give it about 6 hours or so.  If your chicken wings are not frozen, you may need to add a bit of water to the pot.

crock-pot-hot-wings

Step 2: Once the chicken wings are fully cooked, remove them from the crock pot and put them on a foil lined cookie sheet.  Brush the tops with another coat of sauce and pop them into the oven at 450 degrees for 5-10 minutes.  This step is of course optional but makes them taste so much better than straight out of the crock pot because it dries them out a bit.

oven-hot-wings

Step 3: Serve and devour!

hot-wings

I’ve also been obsessing with Anthony’s Pizza’s Cranberry Habanero wing sauce.  Has anybody else tried it?

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Zucchini Boats and Casserole

zucchini-boats

 

I’ve mentioned in a few past posts that this year was my first year trying my hand at gardening!  I’ve shown some recipes I’ve made using basil and scallions from my garden and here is a great recipe I’ve been making from my zucchini plant!

I actually made this recipe with a store-bought zucchini prior to starting my garden this summer.  The zucchini from my garden are so much larger than the store-bought zucchini!

Seriously!  Huge!  Banana and Benji for reference. 😉

zucchini-benji

This recipe is actually quite simple.

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
medium sized zucchini (or one really large one)
cup of your favorite cheese
cup of marinara sauce
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
Italian seasoning, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder

directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*
  2. Brown the ground beef on the stove
  3. Cut the zucchini in half long ways and scoop out the center to make a boat
  4. Grease a baking pan and add the zucchini to the pan.
  5. Add the center of the zucchini into the pan with the ground beef
  6. Add the breadcrumbs, marinara, and cheese to the ground beef
  7. Add seasoning as desired.
  8. Add the mixture to the boat.  Cook any extra meat mixture in a side dish as a casserole.
  9. Cook until the zucchini is soft.

This has become one of my favorite meals!  It also makes a great freezer meal for the crock-pot.  For the crock-pot variation, I chop the zucchini instead of making boats.  I pre-cook the meal and add the cooked ground beef, chopped zucchini, breadcrumbs, seasoning, and cheese to the freezer bag.  I put the marinara in a sealed sandwich bag prior to adding it to the large bag with the rest of the ingredients.

When I’m ready to make the meal, I let the bag sit out long enough that I can get the ingredients out of the bag without difficulty and I add everything into the crock pot together.  The general rule of thumb is 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

Have you made something similar?

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Why I Don’t Buy Bottled Water

Bottled Water

bottled water is expensive

I am quite cheap and spending a dollar or more or even $4 in airports for bottled water is just absurd to me!  Water from the sink and water fountains is so much cheaper that the amount of water you drink from those sources is practically free!  Also, airport trick, empty a reusable water bottle prior to going to the airport and fill it up once you are through security.

bottled water tastes gross

I’ve heard many people say that tap water tastes gross and in some places, yes, I agree.  Where I live though, the tap water tastes fine.  If I get water from my fridge it is also filtered.  For some reason bottled water just has a distinct weird flavor to.

bottled water takes up so much space

I’ve seen people with their shopping carts in the stores with stack upon stack of bottled water and I wonder where they store it all.  Even with two fridges I still don’t know where I would store much water.

bottled water fills creates too much waste

Ok, yes, these bottles are recyclable but they still take up a ton of space.  We are each supposed to drink 8 – 8oz cups of water per day.  What is this?  about 6 water bottles per person on average?  In a house of 4, this would be one entire case of water each day or 7 cases each week.  Imagine the recycling bin full of seven cases of empty water bottles.  There wouldn’t be room for anything else.

bottled water is not more convenient

I take a water bottle with me everywhere I go.  Literally everywhere.  Before I go to bed at night I fill the water bottle and put it in the fridge (on workdays only).  Then I just grab it in the morning the same way I would with a bottled water.  Filling the water bottle is about as much work as opening the package, taking out a water bottle, and putting it in the fridge.  Also, if I’m out and about I can just find a water fountain and fill up.  Otherwise I would need to find the  water in the store, bring it to the register,  find the appropriate money, and complete the transaction.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

September 2016 Blog Income Report

september-blog-income-report

This Month’s Top Post: Pineapple Island Teriyaki Chicken Legs – 293 Views

This Month’s Runner Up: August 2016 Blog Income Report – 173 Views

Last month I mentioned that I was quite burnt out from the blog and that I had taken a little break.  That break ran through the beginning of September but I regained my energy and was able to get my posts planned for October.

September was more of a learning month for me.  I studied my analytics and follower trends and I dug deeper into the ins and outs of Pinterest.

This month, I also completed my Media Kit.   This is one of my favorite pages because it is completely automated.  It took me a few months to get it how I wanted while being optimized for both mobile and web interfaces.  I am so happy with how it turned out and am excited to share how I made it!

In September I actually turned down a sponsored post because I didn’t want to overload myself.  This made my  income be lower than usual.  Overall though, the knowledge I gained about blogging is far more valuable than an extra few bucks would have been.

September 2016 INCOME STATEMENT

Revenue
Ads – $78.50
Total: $75.50

Expenses
Tailwind – $10
Etsy – $0..60
Total: $10.60

NET INCOME: $67.90

VIEW PREVIOUS BLOG INCOME STATEMENTS HERE.

september-monthly-updates

I mentioned that I was diving into learning Pinterest above.  One of the very valuable lessons that I learned is that I should first pin my posts to my own board and then share them to others so it acts as a re-pin rather than a new pin.  I had scheduled all of my pins from my blog directly last month and it brought my page views down a bit.  I also noticed that each pin had to see how it fared on its own from only that one board I pinned it to.

Here are my views that came from Pinterest since I started using Tailwind.

JUNE: 153   JULY: 239   AUGUST: 658   SEPTEMBER: 444

My plan for October is to focus on content, especially my Paycheck  series.   I also am going to start writing a bit more content about my personal life.  This is something that I hadn’t done previously because well…nothing going on was interesting.  I’ve been doing the same thing for years and you run out of things to write about.  Unless you guys really want to hear about cleaning the litter box every day.  Wait…blog post idea! 🙂  Stay tuned!  I have a lot of exciting things coming up that I am so excited to share with all of you!

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

10,000 Cupcakes Challenge

10000-cupcakes-challenge

As many of you already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and every year there are a ton of amazing opportunities to hep support the Cure!  There are many ways to get involved from participating in the Susan G Komen’s Race for the Cure to baking cupcakes and sharing them online to Cook for the Cure.

Breast cancer has affected quite a few people I know and is something that runs in my family.  Like all types of cancer and other diseases, breast cancer is devastating to a person and family.  It takes a toll on your mental and physical health and leaves everybody feeling helpless.

Thankfully,  there are many people out there searching for the Cure and we can all help them!

slide2

I am very excited to be teaming up with Kitchen Aid and their Cook for the Cure 10,000 Cupcakes Challenge.  

The way this challenge works is that for every original picture you of a cupcake you share to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtags #10000cupcakes and #donate, Kitchen Aid will donate $1 towards finding the Cure.

This challenge is so fantastic because Kitchen Aid will donate up to $10,000, so share those cupcakes!

slide1

To learn more about Kitchen Aid’s 10,000 Cupcakes Challenge and to enter for a chance to win a KitchenAid stand mixer, visit the Cook for the Cure website here.

slide3

I’d love to see all your cupcakes!

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

25 Questions Tag

This post is quite different from all of my others.  I remember back in the days of MySpace before Facebook was popular.  We did survey after survey and so on for hours on end.  I love nostalgia. 21 Questions
25 QUESTIONS TAG!

Question 1: Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have two cats. Lola and Benji.

Christmas

And, I can’t forget my Grayson who passed away last year at just a bit over a year old from FIP (Feline Infectious Peritinosis).  It’s a very rare disease that is always fatal.  There are two types of the disease, wet and dry.  Grayson had the dry form which only 1/4 of the cats that get it have.  It was just bad luck for my poor little guy.  He was my first little kitten and I miss him so much.

Grayson

Question 2: Name three things that are physically close to you.
Laptop, bowl, spoon (there used to be cereal in the bowl)

Question 3: What’s the weather like right now?
Dark – It’s nighttime.

Question 4: Do you drive? If so, have you crashed?
Yes I do.  I have not crashed into anything or caused any crashes but yes, I’ve been in a few.

Question 5: What time did you wake up this morning?
I woke up at 7:30.

Question 6: When was the last time you showered?
A few hours ago

Question 7: What was the last movie that you saw?
Secret Life of Pets

Question 8: What does you last text message say?
It was a picture message.

Lola

Question 9: What is your ringtone?
I have no idea.  It’s one of the pre-programmed ringtones.  My text message tone is a cat meow though.

Question 10: Have you ever been to a different country?
Yes, I’ve been to Mexico once.

Question 11: Do you like sushi?
Nope.

Question 12: Where do you buy your groceries?
King Soopers – a branch of Kroger

Question 13: Have you ever taken any medication to help you fall asleep faster?
No.  That just doesn’t sound healthy

Question 14: How many siblings do you have?
Zero

Question 15: Do you have a desktop computer or a laptop?
I have a laptop but I connect it to a monitor sometimes and use it like you would a desktop.

Question 16: How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
28.  Reunion year!

Question 17: Do you wear contacts or glasses?
I have glasses but I don’t wear them because my site isn’t that bad.

Question 18: Do you color your hair?
I used to religiously color my hair but in the past two years I’ve stopped.

Question 19: Tell me something you are planning to do today.
Go to bed.  It’s getting late.

Question 20: When was the last time you cried?
I teared up during an emotional video today.

Question 21: What is your perfect pizza topping?
Has to be all three together.  Cheese, pepperoni, and black olives.

Question 22: Which do you prefer, hamburger or cheeseburger?
Cheeseburger, with an over-medium egg on it.

Question 23: Have you ever had an all-nighter?
Yes, I once had a job where we had lock-ins at night so I had to stay up.  I also had a couple all-nighters with friends in my early 20’s.

Question 24: What is your eye color?
Hazel

Question 25: Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke?
Yes.  Pepsi is sweeter than Coke.  I took the Pepsi Challenge at Water World (local water park) once in my tween years.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

/ 2 Comments on 25 Questions Tag

Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Choosing Your Budgeting Direction

Choosing your Budgeting Direction

This post is part of a series.  To start the series from the beginning, click here.  To browse through the series, click here.

Deciding between Reverse Budgeting and Forward Budgeting is one of the first things to do when creating your budget.

Reverse Budgeting in three steps

    • Determine your savings goal
    • Save a set amount each month to reach your goal.
    • Revisit your goal and adjust as necessary

Reverse Budgeting is good for you if any of the following apply:

  • You have a hard time sticking to your budget.
  • You succeed with a strict and well planned structure.
  • You know how much money you will need and when you will need it by.
  • You prefer to have clear goals

Forward Budgeting ‘Forward Roll’ in three steps.

  • Project your future savings.
  • Roll over extra funds at the end of each period
  • Repeat

Forward Budgeting is good for you if any of the following apply:

  • You are disciplined with your money
  • You succeed with a flexible schedule
  • You prefer fluid goals

Take this quiz to see which budgeting type suits you best.  Feel free to use a made up name. Or, if you prefer to take the quiz by hand, the questions and scoring are listed below.

Which Budgeting Type is Best for You Survey

1. You earn $100 extra cash.  What do you do?

  • a. Put it towards rent or other bills
  • b. Put it in a savings account
  • c. Buy something for yourself
  • d. Enjoy a night on the town

2. You are saving up for a new car and need $5000 more.  What do you do?

  • a. Put a set amount into savings immediately after each paycheck
  • b. Watch your spending carefully and spend as little as possible
  • c. Work overtime and put as much money into savings as possible
  • d. Get discouraged and give up

3. Which of the following best describes your five-year plan?

  • a. I live life one step at a time. Plans will change so why make plans?
  • b. I have specific goals and have strategized how to achieve them.
  • c. People actually plan that far in advance?
  • d. I know where I want to be and I will take whatever path presents me with success.

4. How do you prepare your grocery list?

  • a. I don’t, I shop each time I need to cook.
  • b. I prepare a shopping list before and only veer from it occasionally.
  • c. I don’t write a list but I have a general idea of what I need when I go.
  • d. I eat out, so I don’t grocery shop.

5. How do you handle household chores?

  • a. I write a to-do list and check each item off the list as I complete it.
  • b. I let it go as long as possible then clean right before company comes over.
  • c. I have a routine that I follow to keep me on track.
  • d. I don’t clean unless I have to.

Scoring

Add one point for each of the following options you chose.

    Question 1: a or b
    Question 2: b or c
    Question 3: a or d
    Question 4: b or c
    Question 5: a or c

Results

1-2 Points: Reverse Budgeting – You thrive in a structured environment.  You like to be in control of what happens and would prefer not to encounter many unknowns.  You’ve realized that money is not the most important thing in life.  Reverse budgeting is best for you because it allows you to create a structured budget to follow but still allows for carefully planned changes.

3-5 Points: Forward Budgeting – You are organized and proactive.  You know that there are multiple ways to reach an end goal and that as long as you keep moving forward, you will get there.  You are also responsible with your money which allows for some flexibility in the budget.  Forward budgeting is best for you because it gives you the freedom to make changes to your budgeting strategy at any time.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

My 11 Favorite Blog Plugins

My 11 Favorite Blog Plugins

Throughout my blogging adventure, I’ve had many times where I thought of an idea that was absolutely fantastic but had no idea how to make the idea a reality.  Each time, my Google searches have brought up a plug-in that can do just what I’m wanting to do.  In no specific order, here are my 11 favorite plugins.

One Click Child Theme – It took me over a year of blogging to create a child theme.  Not because I didn’t know the importance of the child theme.  Trust me, I definitely lost my site design in a Theme update once.  My temporary solution was to save a copy of my Stylesheet in a word document so I could just copy and paste it at need be.  I didn’t create a child theme because I had the hardest time figuring out how to do it.  I searched multiple times on multiple days and I kept finding posts about how to do it manually by adding the three files in manually.

The idea of that was quite overwhelming because I have also messed up the files and had to restore to a previous version when editing before.  Since then, I tell myself not to edit the files directly even if I have a saved copy of the originals.

The final search I made for a child theme brought up this plugin which I had to try.  This plugin was simple and got the job done correctly.  I first saved the text from my Stylesheet and Custom CSS page into a word doc, installed the plugin, and pasted the text into the new child theme files all within WordPress.  After I set up the child theme, I still hesitantly updated my Theme.  This time, success!  My website design did not change.

Editorial Calendar – WordPress has a section that lists all of your past and upcoming blog posts but I found that this was hard to navigate when scheduling my posts.  The Editorial Calendar is a calendar view of the posts and is very helpful for scheduling.  It shows a visual of when each post is scheduled.  It also allows you to drag and drop the posts to change when they will go live.

Display Posts Shortcode – This allows you to show most recent or specific posts by adding shortcode.  I use this plugin on my home page to show the most recent post for each category that I write about.  The plugin has directions for how to write your shortcode and is very user friendly.

Display Posts Grid, List Without Coding – This plugin does basically the same thing as the Display Posts Shortcode but has a user interface with a preview that helps for planning out the layout of your posts.  I use this plugin for my Pages so I can show all the posts in a category on one page and have it automatically update each time I publish a new post.

Popup by Supsistic – This plugin adds a pop-up to my page to try to encourage people to become a follower.  I’ve used this in a few ways.  When I first downloaded the plugin, I used it to show a freebie and a subscribe field.  When I started trying to increase my Facebook following, I changed the pop-up to a Like button for my Facebook Page.  This plugin has many options for what, how, where, and when your popup shows.  I have also had other bloggers directly ask me which plugin I use for my pop-up and then I’ve seen it later on their blogs.

Revive Old Post – This plugin automatically shares your old posts to Facebook and Twitter.  I only use this plugin for Twitter because the post frequency needs to be the same for both social sites and I don’t want my Facebook page getting cluttered with old posts.  You just set how often you want your old posts to cycle and then it does the work for you.  This is fantastic because I don’t have to use a scheduler to repost the old posts.  The plugin will just do it all for me.

Simple Download Monitor – When I started my mailing list, I knew I wanted to have a free download of my book for anybody who subscribes.  This download is very simple and lets me do just that.  I can set a link to go to a specific download page or I can set a link to automatically download.  On the back end, I can see stats for how many times each download has been downloaded.

Social Count Plus – I just started using this plugin and have found it so helpful.  I’m working on my media kit and I didn’t want to have an extra task of changing my social follower counts each month.  I’m using it to just show the followers count by an image that I’ve custom made.  You can also use their pre-made social icons with follower counts.

Widgets on Pages – This one is pretty self-explanatory.  This plugin allows you to put any widget on any post or page that you create.  This is fantastic because it opens up so many opportunities for what you can put into your post.

Sassy Social Share – One of my biggest pet peeves with social icons is when a blog is not consistent with the icons.  There may be one style of share buttons on the side bar and a different at the bottom of the post.  Or even worse, two different sets at the bottom of the post.  I’ve often seen blogs have one set of share icons for Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest at the bottom of their post and then directly under it have another set of icons that have many more options.

This plugin includes a more button so you have all of the social sites.  You can also customize your icon shape and color.  In addition, you can show a share count.  I have mine set so the share count on the side bar of icons shows the total count of shares.  The share counts at the bottom of the post shows the total shares per each social site.

WP Post Signature – I’ve noticed that many people share links below their posts and I’ve always thought it would take a lot of work to copy and paste the links onto each post.  Of course, they don’t actually post the links on each post, they use a signature.  I downloaded the WP Post Signature plugin to try it out and it did just what I wanted.

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Garden Scallion and Cheddar Cornbread

Cheddar Cornbread

This is the first year that I tried my hand at gardening.   I saw a post showing how to regrow scallions and I decided to try it out.  After buying a bundle at the grocery store last May, I’ve been regrowing the scallions ever since!

I found a recipe that was just about what I was looking for and substituted out quite a few ingredients.  The only thing that I didn’t consider was the quantity.  The batch was huge!  It filled up one 12 cupcake tray, one 24 mini-muffin tray, and one tortilla tray.

Print Recipe
Garden Scallion and Cheddar Cornbread
Course Breads
Cook Time 25-35 Minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course Breads
Cook Time 25-35 Minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a second bowl.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients slowly.
  5. Fold in half of the cheddar and scallions.
  6. Pour the batter into any greased pans and top with the remaining cheddar and scallions.
  7. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean

I also made some basil butter to put on the cornbread.  Post coming soon!

Basil

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Garden Basil Butter

Basil Butter

This summer I tried my hand at gardening for the first time!  I haven’t posted about the process yet but posts are coming!

I started my basil inside in early May.  It was a slow start.  The sprouts were so tiny and fragile and I definitely thought they weren’t going to grow.

Well, I was very wrong.  I transplanted them outside into a pot while I was still building my garden base.  They looked so pathetic.

Within a week or so, they got much stronger and I had a few little sturdy basil sprouts.  About two inches tall.

I transplanted the basil once again, this time into my garden and it took off!

I have had more basil than I’ve known what to do with.

Here’s one of the recipes I’ve made this summer.

Garlic Basil Butter

  • 1 Stick of Butter
  • 8 basil leaves chopped
  • Lemon Pepper Seaoning

The recipe is very simple.  Let the butter get to room temperature then mix in the basil and seasoning.

Enjoy!

Basil

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Favorite Features of the PC Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Windows Anniversary Update

Windows has been rolling out updates for the one-year anniversary of Windows 10 and I am so excited about the new features!  I’ve always been a fan of the Windows operating system on all devices including the Windows Phone.

There are so many new options with this update but here are a few of the improvements that caught my eye.

 

Quick Assist

This is the new feature that I am so excited about!  I am always trying to explain how to do something to my mom over the phone and it is a nightmare.  By the time we are a few minutes in we are both completely frustrated and haven’t gotten anywhere.  I’ve used products like TeamViewer in the past but even to navigate to the address bar was tough because she usually uses Google or Favorites to get around.  This program is very simple to use and I’m certain it will be very helpful!

Calendar App on Taskbar

This is fantastic!  I can now easily view my calendar events that are synced to my phone by clicking on the taskbar calendar.  I am always using the calendar in the taskbar to count weeks and days and plan for scheduling and the addition of the events is perfect!

Start Menu Apps List

I had no qualms with how the menu has been laid out in any of the previous versions, but after this update, the menu is the easiest to navigate that I’ve ever seen.  I have my favorite programs pinned as tiles and all of the programs are listed on the left.  This is very similar to the layout on my Windows phone with the only difference being that I scroll over to the right on the phone rather than looking at the left on the computer.

Smart Sticky Notes

At first I wasn’t very fond of these smart sticky notes because the ‘smart’ section covers up some of the note.  Most of my notes had a note and a web link.  Then, I was sitting at my computer and I thought of something that I wanted to do at a later time.  Typically, I would then pick up my phone and schedule a reminder in the calendar.  Instead, I decided to try using the sticky notes.  I wrote the reminder on the note and then clicked it to schedule to the calendar.  It was so easy!

Answer calls from PC

This feature hasn’t been rolled out to my computer yet, but Windows says you will soon be able to answer calls from the PC.  I can already text someone from the PC and the computer lets me know if I missed any calls.  I’m very excited to see how the phone call part works.  I did notice that the texting wasn’t the cleanest app and I had some troubles loading and knowing if the text was sent.  I haven’t tried it in a few months though.

Windows Ink

As a blogger, this is the one that I am most excited about.  Windows Ink is currently an over-app experience and it seems that you can’t save the ink.  The Windows Insiders are currently testing Windows Ink in the Microsoft Suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, others.  This gets me very excited because I create all of my graphics in PowerPoint.  This will make my customization so much easier!  I’ve already played around with the new feature over the screen a few times and the ruler feature is just perfect for making straight lines.

 

I am always so impressed with all of the cool things Windows creates.  I love all of their products (and no, I’m not sponsored or an affiliate for Windows).  Last year I actually switched to an Android phone for about two months to bridge the gap between one phone breaking and a new phone coming out and I absolutely hated it!  I complained every day about something and of course, switched right back to the Windows Phone as quickly as I could.

The seamless connection between the phone and computers and all of the great features on both products makes my blogging life and personal use so much easier!

Windows Phone Features

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

New Etsy Shop Blogging Graphics: + Coupon Code

New Etsy Graphics

Hello everyone!  I’ve been working on my Etsy Shop recently and have some new graphics for you!

use coupon code: “Newgraphics” for $2.50 off any order

Now until October 31, 2016

Blog Planner

Blog Blog GraphicsMint Icons White Icons

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

August 2016 Blog Income Report

August 2016 Blog Income Report

This Month’s Top Post: Laundry Hack: How to Put Away an Entire Load of Laundry in Minutes – 447 Views

This Month’s Runner Up: Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: The Basics of Income – Published 2/27/2016 – 282 Views this month

This month was a very crazy month for me so I took a bit of a break from the blog.  But, to my readers, you probably didn’t even notice!  In July I worked on my blog every day.  Yes, every single day.  Participating in Facebook groups, sharing on Pinterest, and creating posts.  August was not at all the same.  I was just a bit burnt out and needed a break.

I mentioned a while ago how I like to plan my blog posts and create them early which really helps when I run into ruts where I’m just exhausted and ready for a break.  I had actually created all of my posts for August during July that way I didn’t have to stress about creating posts when I didn’t really feel like it.  I’ve always used the blog as a hobby and a way to express myself and have fun so whenever I”m in the mood to write or edit or create graphics, I create as many as I can during that time.

Of course, since I wasn’t in the writing mood during August, Septembers posts are not all created.  i do have enough for one each week but I’ve been posting twice per week.  I’m not sure if I will try to create more posts to stick with my Tuesday and Saturday schedule yet or if I will just go for Saturdays this month.

 

In other news, I created my first LInquia campaign this month!  It was definitely a success!  I also figured out how to create a part of my Media Kit that I’ve been working on for over a month.  Now there is just one more part I’m stuck on and then it’s done!  Hopefully by the end of the year I will have it complete.  I’m really taking my time to make it perfect!

I also finalized my new 2017 blogging planner early this month!  Check it out!

2017 Blog Planner

This month, I saw a large decrease in Ad revenue which is directly related to the break I took from sharing my posts.  But, sponsored posts increased and brought me right back into my $100-$200 range that I’ve been in most of this year.

August 2016 Income Statement

Revenue
Ads – $86.67
Sponsored Posts – $60.00
Total: $146.67

Expenses
Tailwind – $8.72 (pro-rated)
Etsy – $0.80
Blog Photo Supplies – $2.87
Post Supplies – $3.00
Total: $15.39

NET INCOME: $131.28

View Previous Blog Income Statements here.

August 2016 Monthly Updates

This month’s big achievement is that I hit 500 Pinterest follower!

Last month I also mentioned that I had just started using Tailwind and I have seen a huge difference!  I started using Tailwind toward the end of July.

Here are my page-views that Pinterest referred over the last three months:

June: 153                  July: 239                  August: 658

I am so excited that I’m able to see growth even when I take a huge break from the blog!

For September, I plan to keep afloat.  I think August was a great break for me but I don’t want to over-do it.  Hopefully I will be able to figure out the last part of my Media Kit so I can make it go live too!  I can’t wait to show you!  Hopefully I will also be in the mood to work on Etsy downloadables.  I have a lot of great ideas!

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Pineapple Island Teriyaki Chicken Legs

Pineapple Chicken Legs

We have recently fallen in love with these island teriyaki chicken legs.  They are super simple and taste great!

I start by thawing the chicken legs.  Once they are thawed, I put them on a greased tray and then bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour to an hour and a half depending on the size of the legs.

Once the legs are almost completely cooked, I pull them out and cover them with the Soy Vay Marinade & Sauce, Island Teriyaki, add a few pineapple rings, and put them back in the oven to bake for another 15 minutes or so.  In the last couple minutes, I add a bit more sauce to the legs.

The chicken legs are great with spinach although since I used the legs for lunches at work, I had to reheat them which caused the spinach to cook.  Next time I’ll keep the spinach separate.

Do you have a favorite sauce for your chicken?

 

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Budgeting Basics

Budgeting Basics

This post is part of a series.  To start the series from the beginning, click here.  To browse through the series, click here.

Creating a budget is necessary in order to maintain financial freedom and live well within your means.  If you don’t have a budget, how would you know what ‘within your means’ really is?

There are so many different ways to budget and each person needs to budget in a way that works best for them.

One thing to think about is whether you will use Forward or Reverse Budgeting.  Reverse Budgeting is where you determine your savings goal for a future date and plan your savings based on that goal.  Each paycheck, you put aside the money for savings first and then divvy up the rest for other expenses.  Forward Budgeting or the Forward Roll is where you use projections to estimate your savings at a future date and you roll your extra money into savings at the end of the month.

Another aspect of budgeting is the budgeting system.  There are many different types of budgeting systems, but to keep it simple, there is a Cash System and a Digital System.  The cash system is exactly as it sounds.  All in cash.  No cards, no accounts, just cash.  The digital system similarly is all in savings accounts and credit/debit accounts that are primarily accessed digitally.

With either direction or system, there are many different tools that you can use to support your budgeting plan.  Some tools include the envelope system, the paper system, computer spreadsheets, and computer apps and programs.

Finding the right options for yourself can be a daunting task, but with some guidance, the right system can be chosen to maximize your productivity and potential success.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Low Carb Taco Lettuce Wraps

Taco Lettuce Wraps

I’ve recently decided to start eating less carbs to help flatten my stomach for swimsuit season.  So, I took to the internet to see what great foods you can make with minimal carbs and I found Lettuce Wraps!  Simple, yes.  I’ve learned so many things to do with a lettuce wrap being substituted for a bun.

My favorite Lettuce Wrap currently is to make a taco in the lettuce wrap.  I’ve got cheese, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, and ground beef with taco seasoning.  The one thing I found odd about this recipe is that I wanted all of the items to be more stuck together than when making a regular taco so I cooked all of the items in the pan together.  I also typically do not use black beans and avocado in my tacos but I figured why not since it was all going into one pan.

What great lettuce wrap’s do you make?

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

How to Make Your Own Blog Photos

Make Blog Photos

Creating your own blog photos or photo stock is very easy and inexpensive.  This is great news since photos can get quite pricey.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Buy some blogging goodies.  Things like paper clips, clothes pins, note pads, and anything else you would like to see in your photos.  My favorite place to get these things is at Target in the front $1-$5 section when you first walk in.  Other places you can check are the dollar store and Amazon.
  2. Find a suitable background.  I happen to have a white table and a white desk that I use as my background.  You could use designed paper, styled wrapping paper, the table or counter, or any surface you would like.  If you don’t have a white background, you can always use a piece of paper and just scale smaller.
  3. Create a collage out of your goodies. This is the fun part.  Lay out a set of goodies and take pictures at them from different angles.  Switch out the goodies as you’d like.  With just a couple dollars worth of items, you can create thousands of different pictures.
  4. Edit your photos. There are many photo editing programs and apps out there that can be a bit confusing.  I like to use PowerPoint for editing my photos because it’s so easy.  I usually edit the brightness and contrast of my photos to one of the pre-set values.  Sometimes I adjust the sharpness of the photo.
  5. Crop and Design. Once your photo quality is where you want it, you can begin creating your blog photo.  Use the entire photo or crop any portion of the photo to be the background for your graphic.  Then, just add text boxes, opaque backgrounds, and fun fonts and colors

There you go!  A very fun and inexpensive way to create your own unique blog photos.

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

The Fried Puppy Chow Experiment

Fried Puppy Chow

I had a fantastic idea the other day while thinking about fun munchies.  In the summer, funnel cake is the most amazing thing ever.  In the winter, I’m a huge fan of puppy chow, also called monkey munch by some.

So, onto the fantastic idea, Fried Puppy Chow!  Of course if you have two amazing things and you put them together you have one fantastic snack!

I call this recipe an experiment because I learned a few things in the process.  I’ll explain what I did and then I will explain what I think will make it even better!

Chex Mix Ingredients
3 cups  Chex
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/6 cup peanut butter (2 2/3 tbsp)
1/12 cup butter or margarine (1 1/3 tbsp)
1/3 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar

First, I mixed up a small batch of puppy chow.   I combined the chocolate chips, peanut butter, butter, and vanilla in a microwave safe container and microwaved for about 45 seconds, mixing every 15 seconds.  Then, I poured the mixture over the Chex as you normally would for puppy chow.  My original idea was to add the chocolate to the Chex before frying and then add the powdered sugar after frying.

Then, I mixed up the batter ingredients in a separate bowl.

Frying Batter Ingredients
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons  milk (I used soy milk)
2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 quart oil, for frying

For frying, I heated the oil then did a test with the frying batter to check the temperature. Then, I took a spoonful of the Chex  and dumped them into the batter.  I made sure to get them fully coated with batter then took them out a couple at a time and dropped them into the oil.  Once they were cooked, I took them out of the oil and set them on a paper towel to dry a bit.  Lastly, I dusted them with powdered sugar.

The fried puppy chow turned out delicious but there wasn’t as much of the chocolate peanut butter flavor as I had hoped for.  Here are a few suggestions to make this treat even better!

  • Use chocolate Chex and fry before dipping in the peanut butter mixture.  Once the chex have been fried, drizzle with the chocolate peanut butter mixture and powdered sugar
  • Double the chocolate peanut butter mixture, fully coat the chex, then freeze for thirty minutes before frying.


Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

7 Ways to NOT Become Rich

7 Ways to Not Become Rich

Now we all know money can’t buy everything. In fact, sometimes money can be more of a hindrance than a help.  So, for those who say they never want to be rich because of the headaches and hassles that come with the territory, here is how you make sure to succeed.

Don’t sign up for 401k – Employers who offer 401k will match your contributions up to a certain percentage. This is a sure way to at least double, possibly even triple or more because of stock and bond increases.

Don’t create financial goals – Financial goals can cause stress and confusion.  Might as well live for the day and not worry about tomorrow.

Don’t track your spending – Tracking your spending shows you where each dollar goes.  It can bring on buyer’s remorse and can cause you to decrease your spending habits.

Don’t clip coupons – Coupon clipping can save a ton of money but can also take some time. Is all that time really worth it?

Don’t live like you are poor – Spend all of the money you earned and enjoy your spoils. You earned it. Now go relax with a drink.

Max out your credit cards – What a concept, using tomorrow’s money to pay for today’s fun.  And since tomorrow never comes, the credit card bill won’t either right?

Eat fast food or at restaurants – Let’s face it, food that somebody else prepares tastes so much better than the standard home cooked mean.

Now you may be wondering if I’m crazy for suggesting all of this. Well yes, I am crazy but if you remember the basic fundamentals of how we were all raised, you will understand. It has been engrained in many people since childhood to go on their own path and not follow the norm. Or, simply, do the exact opposite of what people tell you to do. Especially if those people are your parents. So all we need to do is mix the signals of what is the norm and what is being unique and we create success.

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Aloha Obsessions

Aloha

Almost every summer day when I get home from work, I make a smoothie.  Each day they are different and recently I’ve found a new love for Aloha products.  I recently purchased the Superfood Smoothie Kit and could not be more impressed.  (Click here to enjoy a free sample)

I begin to make my smoothie as I usually do with a cut up frozen banana and some soy milk.  I cut up the bananas prior to freezing them to make it easier to chop up in smoothies. Then I add the Aloha product of choice.

Aloha Smoothie

Thypically, I avoid all things vanilla.  Especially milky type of products.  But, I was very pleasantly surprised with the Aloha vanilla protein mix.  It was my absolute favorite out of the bunch!

Aloha Packets

 

Shop ALOHA Online

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

Ragu Homestyle Chicken Pasta Parm


Here in Denver, there’s been a recent cool front which is much appreciated since there has been so much heat!  This cool front also brings the first hint of fall weather with the cool air and warm sun.  The slight breeze and cool evenings.  This is the perfect weather for a Homestyle meal!  When I think of a Homestyle meal, I think of a cool day and night with a warm and hearty dinner.  The foods that make you feel cozy and content.

So this brings us to today’s great recipe brought to you by Ragu and their new Homestyle  Pasta Sauces!

Chicken Pasta Parm

I’ve always loved Spaghetti and Chicken Parmesan.  I’ve also always made them for completely separate meals.  This time, I figured I’d try something I’d never tried before and make them together.  Can’t go wrong!  Two amazing Ragu Homestyle meals in one dish!

The recipe for this is very easy:

Ingredients

  • Ragu Homestyle Pasta Sauce
  • Your favorite Pasta (I used bow-ties and only used about 3/4 of the box)
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (a heaping handful)
  • Diced Chicken (I breaded mine but the recipe would be just fine without breading too!)
  • Parmesan Cheese

Directions

Boil the noodles and drain the water once cooked.

Noodles Ragu Homestyle

In a separate pan, sear the chicken until fully cooked.

Chicken Cooked Ragu Homestyle

Add the chicken to the noodles.

Ragu Homestyle Chicken Cooked

Pour Ragu Homestyle pasta sauce over the chicken and noodles and mix then top with cheese.

Ragu Homestyle

And there’s a fantastic way to spend the upcoming cool nights.  A warm home cooked, homestyle meal.

I made this meal with enough to have leftovers for lunch a couple times throughout the week and was so impressed with the Ragu Homestlye sauce!  Honestly, I usually go for the cheapest canned sauce I can find but after tasting the Thick & Hearty Traditional, I just may never go back to canned sauces again.  This sauce has the perfect amount of flavor and just the right amount of sweetness.

 

Like what you’ve seen so far?
Join the mailing list to be the first to know when a new post is published!

JULY 2016 BLOG INCOME REPORT

July 2016 Blog Income Report

This Month’s Top Post: DIY Upcycled Garage Shelving – 300 Views

This Month’s Runner Up: 1 Year Blogiversary – 288 Views

July was definitely a surprising month. My page views went up and my unique users went down.  The views on my top posts were low