Friday, November 29, 2013

Money Matters #2: Budget

Happy Black Friday everyone! Did everyone stuff themselves with turkey and delicious foods yesterday? How many of you are planning to brave the crowds and do some shopping today? Our plan is that we will, but since I'm writing this post in advance, who knows what will actually happen :)

Thank you for stopping by for week 2 of my new series! (Week 2 was actually supposed to happen last week, but I was sick so that didn't happen) If you're just stopping by, the first post in the series can be found here. As I'm going on this journey of being more conscious about my money, I thought I'd document my journey and hopefully I can inspire others out in blogland :)

So a lot can be said about budgeting; so much so that maybe this will run into 2 weeks instead of one? Not sure yet- just figuring out posts as the words come to me. I first set up a budget just after we got married and joined our bank accounts together. This can be very overwhelming, so I'll break it down into steps on what I did.

1. First, I gathered information on where our money was going. I tracked different categories for about 6 months to a year prior and kept totals going. Categories such as gas, electric/utilities, groceries, clothing, insurances, eating out, entertainment, etc. Create categories that are useful to the life you're living. But make sure each dollar spent goes into a particular category. I am weird and like to write things down on paper, but many banks and credit card companies have a breakdown of spending in your account information online. Once you have all your numbers calculated, figure out an average for each category, or a goal you want to stick to spending each month.

2. Next, figure out how much income you get each month. If you are salaried and it's the same each paycheck, then you have it a little easier :) If you're like me and get paid hourly, sometimes your paychecks can vary each time. I go off of the minimum amount I could make each month as my basis for forming my budget. If I make more than the minimum, theoretically the extra could go into savings, although it doesn't always happen that way. 

3. Once you have your spending and income figured out, you want to make sure all your spending does not equal more than your income. Simple, right? :) If only life were simple. Start off with the necessities; things that need to be paid each month. After you see how much is left, figure out how to split that among the wants. Sure, it would be great to spend $400 a month on eating out and not worrying about cooking each night. But if you only have $400 left after all the needs, could you cut back a little to make it work in other areas? This is definitely a trial an error step. We are still figuring it out! If after a few months you find that your guestimations aren't working out, then revisit your budget and see how you can adjust your categories accordingly.  

4. Stick with it! I said before how I like writing things down better than having it digitally, so a couple times a week I gather all my receipts and enter them in my budget sheet. The biggest thing here is holding yourself accountable! If you spent it, write it down! That way you can visually see which areas you are doing well and which need work.

Here is an example of what my budget sheet looks like. You can easily add or delete the categories to fit your lifestyle. (Let me know if the link doesn't work- it's the first time I've tried uploading a document!)

Let me know your ideas! What does and doesn't work for you in budgeting? As always, if you like what you see please follow me in Bloglovin or GFC! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'll keep this short, but I wanted to wish all my wonderful readers a very Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope you all have a wonderful day of enjoying delicious foods with the company of friends and family!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What I Wore

 This post could also be called the over-usage of boots. But it's cold weather, so it's okay, right?

In the pictures, this outfit doesn't look too bad, although I don't think the dress or these boots are going to be around much longer. You can kind of see how the boots slouch around the ankles in the picture- pretty annoying that they don't stay up very well. This dress a. I don't wear very much anymore (I got it at Old Navy a few years ago when I used to work there) and b. I'm a pear shape so things either fit on the bottom or on the top but rarely both and this dress is getting a bit tight in the skirt section. Oh well.

Dress: Old Navy
Tights: Target
Boots: Payless
Scarf: Pashmina from a farmers' market

These pants I'm wearing here are one of two pairs of colored pants I own- the others you've seen in previous posts. The color doesn't look it here, but it's more of a raspberry color, which I associate more with Spring and Summer. But they are super comfortable, like wearing pajama pants, so I decided to wear them in the Fall :) 

Pants: New York and Company
Top: The LImited
Scarf: Pashmina via etsy
Shoes: Target

It was a nice day, so we decided to move our photo shoot in our backyard! Zoe was going crazy running around, so the photobomb in the first picture :)

Pants: Gap
Button-up: Old Navy
Sweater: Target
Boots: Just Fab

 Sorry for these last pictures- it was really sunny outside, so we probably should have taken the pictures outside. And I look really tired. Oh well.

Pants: Gap (finally got a pair of black skinies!)
Button-up: Old Navy
Sweater: Target
Boots: Just Fab
Belt: Target or Old Navy

To keep seeing my weekly outfits, make sure to follow me via Bloglovin' or GFC!

pleated poppy

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

I made a really delicious recipe last week, turkey lettuce wraps. At first, hubby thought they'd be like the spring rolls I make (which is basically a salad and peanut sauce in a wrapper) and didn't expect to like it much, but he did end up liking them! Hubby approved :)

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup chopped onion (I used 1/2 a large onion)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 bag coleslaw (just the salad mixture; the original recipe called for broccoli slaw, but I couldn't find it; you could use either one)
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Full lettuce leaves (I had a full head of iceberg lettuce and tore off leaves as needed)
1. Brown the ground turkey in a pan. Once it's almost done, add the onion, salt, pepper, and garlic salt and cook until transparent and starting to brown. 
2. Add the coleslaw, teriyaki sauce, and sesame oil and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through
3. Spoon mixture into the lettuce leaves and serve
4. Enjoy! These would be good as an app or as a main dish with rice on the side

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekend Happenings

Happy Monday of a short week! We had a good weekend, nothing too exciting. Friday hubby had off and I only work 1/2 days, so we went out to lunch at Olive Garden, I had a caffeine fix at Starbucks :), and we saw Ender's Game. I really liked the movie! I had never read the books before, but hubby had and he told me a bit about them. But even so, I still got anxious during some parts!


Sadie found a new napping spot,

they started playing Christmas songs on the radio!! I got into the Christmas spirit and started a little decorating:

I also did a bunch of reading of the Hunger Games series (almost done with the 3rd book!) I am really excited to see Catching Fire, but we are waiting to see it until my birthday (Dec. 8- delayed gratification??). So I'm catching up on the books before that!

We don't have internet at our house (yet) so yesterday afternoon we hung out at my in-law's to watch Netflix and use the internet. I have this entire week's blog posts done and ready to publish! So I'm pretty happy that is done :)

Did anyone else do anything exciting this weekend to get ready for Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What I Wore

Welcome to another what I wore Wednesday! You may notice the quality of my pictures has improved- I'm now using hubby's nice, expensive camera instead of my cheap little point and shoot :)

Pants: The Limited
Tank: Old Navy
Turtleneck: The Limited
Sweater: Banana Republic Outlet
Shoes: Target

Dress: Target
Sweater: The Limited
Leggings: Target
Boots: Just Fab
Scarf: Old Navy

Dress: Old Navy
Sweater: The Limited (It's been getting a lot of use lately!)
Leggings (can't really see them here): Target
Pashmina: 2012 Christmas gift
Boots: Just Fab (These boots have been getting lots of wear too!)

And just for fun, here are some outtakes- hubby kept taking pictures- I was trying to model like a fashion blogger, but it wasn't really working :)

If you like what you see, don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin or GFC! :)

pleated poppy

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tex Mex Casserole

I found this recipe over at Honey We're Healthy and knew it was something I wanted to try. A protein-packed dish that's perfect for lunch or dinner!

  • 1 lb Jennie O lean ground turkey (mine was actually 20 oz)
  • 1 lb 94% lean or higher ground beef
  • 1 bag No Yolk egg noodles
  • 1 container cream cheese (1/3 less fat)
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese (2%)
  • 1 package taco seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Boil egg noodles for 8 minutes, then drain.
3. Brown the two meats until cooked through and drain off grease. Add the seasoning with a cup of water and let boil until absorbed.
4. Off the heat, add cream cheese and 1/2 cup shredded cheese and stir until mixed in. Add the noodles and stir until combined.
5. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish, top with the remaining shredded cheese.
6. Bake for 20 minutes. Enjoy!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekend Happenings and Bruschetta Recipe

Happy Monday everyone! Only one more week until Thanksgiving! Crazy!! I am definitely looking forward to a break from work, good food, time with family, shopping...

Friday afternoon, my younger sister came over with the intention of staying overnight. We did some grocery shopping for dinner at Trader Joe's, then came back to my hosue, did our nails while watching "Father of the Bride." Here is a picture of what I did (I don't know why all my nail pictures turn out so horribly!)

The purple and white are both from Julep- purple is Elie (I think- I took a picture of the color and can't read it now haha) white is Bunny (both from the It Girl collection)
On top of the white I used Boogie Nights from Ulta and used their X Dry top coat on top

Then we made dinner- bruschetta (recipe at the bottom of my post!) and a coated chicken salad. Yum!

We started watching "The Hunger Games" but I was getting a really bad migraine so she ended up going home and I went to bed about 7:30 and pretty much slept it off until 7:30 the next morning :/ 

Saturday I was still feeling a bit under the weather. Hubby got food poisoning from going out the night before, so we both just laid around all day watching movies and reading. I did get some grocery shopping done that morning, so I was a little productive.

Sunday we went to an earlier church, then I got together with some college/high school friends for brunch, then pretty much laid low the rest of the day reading, watching tv, pizza for dinner. We don't have many weekends where nothing is going on, but they are definitely nice to have, even if you're not feeling the best.

Here is the recipe for bruschetta. It's pretty much throwing things together; the ingredients don't have to be exact, so I'll just list what we used the other night.

  • 1 carton tomatoes (any type)
  • Fresh basil (a few leaves)
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Loaf of bread (a narrow loaf like French; I used an Asiago cheese)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil (about 1-2 tablespoons)
1. Dice your tomatoes and put them in a bowl with the basil (torn or chopped), salt, and about 1 tbsp or less oil and mix together until combined
2. Cut your bread into about 1 inch slices and either toast them in the oven or fry them up with a little oil in a pan (I fried them, but baking them would definitely be a healthier way to go!)
3. Top your bread with some of the tomato mixture and some of the parmesan shavings. Enjoy!  

The Weary Chef

Friday, November 15, 2013

Our Home: Before

Even though it's only November, I'm already starting to think about New Year's resolutions. (That, or I'm too lazy to do these things now, so why not wait until the new year??) One of my main goals is to get my home more organized and put together. I think I'm going to make it into a regular series on my blog just so it helps me stay on track and focused.

So leading up to when this new series will start, I will share with you what our home was like when we first bought it and some different projects we've done so far.

We bought our home a few months before we got married, in January of 2012 (we actually did our first walk-through the day after my birthday the previous month!) Our home was actually only on the market for 4 days when our offer was accepted. Right price and great location! (You go about 4 miles in either direction and hit either his parents or mine!) It's a typical 1950's rambler with an unfinished basement. Here are a few photos of what it looked like the day we closed:

The front door (actually 1 of 2 front doors)

Living Room (I set up that coffee table that night- we got Chinese food and had our first meal on the floor!)

Looking towards the back hallway in the house

Front coat closet in the hallway above

2nd bedroom

Awesome 50's blue bathroom!

Only door to the backyard which is located in the 3rd bedroom/current office

Other side of the office

Master bedroom


Dining area

2nd front door

Unfinished basement

So there you have the beginnings of our house! I will slowly show you some of what we've worked on since then so you get a basis of where I'll be starting from in January!