Weekend Links

I loved this home tour on Design Sponge. Small, clean, and yet still cozy and inviting. That is all I ever want my home to be.

I really want to try this egg salad recipe by Elise Blaha. She’s not a food blog per say – mostly craft stuff – but I love everything she posts. And her pancakes are divine.

Great advice for setting habits. 

A few words on spending your time wisely (at least, that’s how I interpreted it for myself). From my favorite minimalist blog.

And last but not least, the honesty of the role money management plays in relationships.

How We Paid Off Debt

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“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” ― Dave Ramsey

I’ll never claim to be a financial guru of any sort, not before the day where I’ve gotten my MBA and become an accountant. However, I think it’s important for every day average people to share their personal financial journeys, for 1. to keep them (aka me) accountable, and 2. because talking finances in our society has become such a taboo thing to do. Maybe that’s why so many of us are in major debt. We feel like that must be the norm because GOSH the credit card marketers sure aren’t keeping their mouths shut!

Of course, the first step in sloughing off debt is to realize that you actually WANT to be rid of it. That it’s not a good thing. It’s weighing down your life, always sticking in the back of your mind that you owe someone else money. Thankfully, this particular step wasn’t much of an issue for me – I have a healthy phobia of credits cards developed at a young age from watching other people make those mistakes before I had the chance. If you’re fine with having a ton of credit debt, maybe check out this article by Dave Ramsey to examine another perspective.

Yes, I said Dave Ramsey. I usually pass on “self-help gurus,” but I feel differently about Dave Ramsey. His system has WORKED for us. Watching his seminar as a couple gave my person and me a united vision we were both motivated towards. We’ve worked together on this vision, and we feel SO GOOD about our finances!

I’m sure you’ve heard about Dave Ramsey’s seven baby steps. You can read up on them more here. We’re getting ready to check the first two off our list (1000 in savings + all debt paid off). The third step is saving a fully-funded emergency fund (3-6 months of living expenses). A helpful system for us has been to plan a reward at the end of each step. These first two have gotten hit together, and our reward is to plan a road trip to see my husband’s family down south. We’re hoping for something even bigger for our fully funded emergency fund – a trip to Hawaii or maybe even Spain (disclaimer: we have family in both of those places).

People often gripe about Dave Ramsey’s severity when it comes to credit cards. But regardless of how you feel about that, you can still appreciate the integrity of his system as a whole. (Credit cards are only ONE part of it!) As for us, I think that we will continue to keep our cards for large purchases and simply pay them off every month. I see no reason to pay someone else interest just so I can build credit.

But if it’s hard for you to resist using your credit card irresponsibly, you might seriously consider taking Dave Ramsey’s advice. He has a lot of articles on credit cards and building credit, so take a look at his website.

No promotion here. Just good ol’ honesty about the difference having a united vision has had on our finances. There’s no secret to it: it’s self-control, vision, and most importantly having a budget.

Have you found a financial system that works for you? How do you feel about credit cards?

photo credit

How to Write a Blog

"Road to the Sun" by miakaplanstudio on Etsy
“Road to the Sun” by miakaplanstudio on Etsy

My person and I have a “meeting” every Sunday where we sit down together (or lie down, depending on how late it is), inventory out the coming week, and go over our individual and family goals/needs. Tonight, as we were talking over my own goals, I mused out loud that just maybe I should start blogging regularly (I won’t say again because I’ve never really been consistent at it). Of course, my person said, “YES, you should! Your writing is awesome.” And I know he’s biased. But it’s still encouraging to hear that from someone.

I enjoy writing. And therefore blogging. But what I’ve realized is that I think too much about it. Every time I consider writing consistently, I stop short because I’m not sure what the heck I should write about. Do I write about…DIY? Crafty stuff? Raising my family? Being a stay at home mom? My faith? Just random thoughts and musings? Plus the fact that I’m not super confident in my ability to write something engaging and entertaining like I know I enjoy reading. And I get really confused/frustrated and just don’t write anything.

Of course that is NOT the way to start writing a blog. As my person says, you’ve just got to quit thinking and start WRITING something. You’ll narrow down the nitty gritty of topics and smooth out your writing style over time. In the meantime, consistency is what matters.

Okay, maybe he didn’t say all that exactly. But what he said was encouraging, and added to this post about consistency by a very successful blogger I follow, I’ve realized what I need to do.

I don’t really know how to write a blog yet. But I do know how to not write one, and that’s by…NOT WRITING. So here’s to consistency. Vision. And spewing out thoughts onto a page one week at a time.

Successful Nursing

My sister shared an article with me recently called “How to Succeed at Breastfeeding Without Really Trying” (it’s from the Whole Mothering Center, a non-for-profit based out of Texas). Here’s a link to the article:

http://wholemotheringcenter.org/2014/08/28/how-to-succeed-at-breastfeeding-without-really-trying/

I really like the message it sends. It’s how I’ve, unwittingly, tried to breastfeed Quinn. Sometimes it IS tempting to second guess myself and worry. Why isn’t she eating often? Why is she eating SO often? Is she eating enough?? So many doubts. We’ve gone through phases where Quinn will cry when my milk lets down and refuse to relatch. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it’s probably because my flow was SO heavy that she can’t handle it. For a while there our feedings were only about 20 or 30 seconds long at a time. And there was this little voice in the back of my mind that questioned whether or not she was getting enough to eat at that rate. BUT I did my best to ignore it. The rational me knew that if she weren’t eating enough she wouldn’t be gaining weight as well as she is, and she would be MUCH fussier.

Basically, when it comes to breastfeeding, our momma doubts abound. Heaven forbid we moms do something RIGHT in our minds. But, like the article says, “More than likely, things are normal…so normal.” Of course, there is always something to be said for mother’s intuition. But often, especially with our first baby, we tend to psych ourselves out. When in doubt, I’ve found it’s so helpful to reach out for support to women who have been through all of this before, and who can reassure me.

Fellow mommas, we can do this! Breastfeeding is hard. It’s killer, sometimes. At first it’s painful and half the time we have no idea what we’re doing. BUT our bodies were also made to feed our little ones. Isn’t it amazing that we can sustain another human being for up to a whole YEAR alone on what our body produces?! Our society treats nursing as a taboo topic sometimes, but let me tell ya. I think it’s a miraculous blessing.

And honestly, this is my favorite part about nursing. The closeness with my little babe.

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May Ipsy Bag

One of my Facebook friends posted about Ipsy a few weeks ago, and I had to try it. Basically, it’s a beauty subscription where you pay them $10/month, and they send you a beauty bag with 4-5 full size beauty products in it each month (generally they’re full size). It can include all kinds of products – lipsticks, nailpolishes, BB creams, tanning lotions, you name it. The nice thing about it is that when you subscribe, they have you fill out a profile quiz so they don’t accidentally send you something you hate. Like tanning stuff for me – I think it’s ridiculous, I would never use it. So they most likely won’t send it! Yay!

Basically what I want to do in this post is share the contents of my May bag with you, and do a price comparison with the actual cost of buying the products separately. Here goes!

The first item in my bag was a Yaby concealer refill. I LOVE this thing. Concealer is huge for me because I have naturally dark under-eye circles, and without it people ask me if I’m sick. Seriously. The coverage is fantastic, and the color is very forgiving.

If you buy this from the Yaby brand website, it runs at $4.85. In my opinion, that’s kind of a lot for a teeny little 3.5 gram refill! BUT I didn’t pay that much for it, now did I?

The second item in my bag was a Zoya nail polish called GeiGei (not sure where the name came from…). I love the color, though. Generally I’m not big into pinks, but this is a nice shimmery pale pink that grew on me after I wore it for awhile. And the two thin layers I applied to by fingernails haven’t chipped at all, though it’s been a several days.

If you buy THIS baby straight from the brand, it’s a whopping $8.00. I know this stuff is high end, but it’s still way to much for me to ever buy stand-alone!

The third item in my bag was an Anastasia mini clear brow gel. And it does it’s job – it holds those girls down! Not too much else to say about it, though. It’s an unassuming product, but it does its job. No clumping, good hold.

I couldn’t find this product on its own since it’s a mini-size. However, I did find it at Sephora as a set along with a pair of tweezers all priced at $10. So…if I had to guess, I’d put the gel at about $6.00.

Another product in my bag that I simply am LOVING is Mirabella colour sheers lipstick in Daydream. I’ve always been more of a no-lipstick-unless-I’m-really-dressing-up kind of girl, but this stuff manages to look natural and glamorous all at once. It’s similar to my natural lip color, but bright enough to make me feel done up without being self-conscious.

This piece of goodness runs at *gasp* $22.00 from the Mirabella website. I love it, but I simply could never afford to spend that much on one piece of makeup!

The last item (it’s almost over, promise) is probably the one I love most. It’s called Island Vanilla, and it’s a perfume roll-on by Pacifica. This stuff smells like heaven, and it lasts all day long. I even wore a shirt for half a day, and a few days later the scent on it was still strong. It’s not a perfume-y smell, but a warm vanilla with a hint of floral. I’m loving it. Hubs is loving it, too. That’s all I ask for 🙂

This product isn’t actually priced too expensively for the quality and quantity that you get. It’s just $12.00 from the Pacifica website.

SO. To wrap up. This month’s product total would have been just around$52.85 if I’d bought each product separately (and that’s not even including the price of shipping).

Instead, I paid $10. For all five products, and this cute bag they came in, and shipping. That’s a savings of about $42, give or take (probably give). Of course, I don’t expect that every product I get every month will be something I love. But at the price, it’s worth it! I’m still having fun experimenting with my new products, and the next bag will be here within a month!

DIY Bulletin Board

My FIRST official DIY home improvement project! Well, it may not seem like much of a “home improvement,” but to my brown 70’s paneling 400 sq. ft. apartment, it is QUITE an improvement. It makes me smile every time I walk past it (which is every time I leave my bedroom).

I started thinking about this project when I stumbled across this picture from Jody at Homey Home Design.  It was a very small part of a larger project for her, but for me it’s inspiration to being one step closer to loving where I live. She basically just covered her board with some burlap, lined up a thumbtack border, and added cute flowers for color. I could just envision my board looking so nice!

So here’s what I did. Excuse the pictures. They were taken with my iPod in REALLY bad lighting (we live in a basement). Here’s what the board looked like at first:

And there’s my super hot husband 🙂 Oh wait… SO! I asked him to hold it up because I forgot to take a before picture before I unscrewed it from the wall. Whoops! As you can see, the board sort of melds into the wall in a very unattractive way, and we’ve never actually used it for anything because neither of us liked the way it looked.
I ordered a canvas drop cloth from Amazon to act as my burlap. I also ordered a bunch of tacks thinking that I would make a similar border as my inspiration, but it didn’t end up working out that way. If I’d thought it through better, I could have saved myself a few dollars in thumb tacks, but hey…can’t ever have too many tacks, right?!
Here’s the start of cutting and measuring the canvas:
I basically just laid it upside down on the flat canvas, and cut out the shape with a few extra inches on each side.
Since the edges on this board aren’t quite square (they’re rounded a bit), I cut out a square on the point of each corner so that the fabric wouldn’t overlap and cause it to bunch up. That sentence sounds really confusing, so I hope you know what I mean…
Next, I ironed the canvas with a HOT iron. This is a really important step, since the canvas was still really creased from the package. (Like my cute little table-top ironing board on the floor? 🙂
Then I laid it out smoothly, centered the face of the board on it again, and started tacking down the corners snugly. Here’s the back when I finished tacking:
I recruited James again to hold up the board while I screwed it back into the wall. The only sad part about this is that the screws were on TOP of the fabric. You can’t tell in this picture, but it sort of ruins the look I was going for. How to remedy…
Aha! I could hot glue some buttons over the screws! I went through my give-away pile and found an old moldy coat that had the perfect navy blue buttons. Thanks to a friendly gal from church, I was able to borrow a hot glue gun and finish this project same day. Thanks Kristina!
It was going well, but I had a dilemma. I didn’t have enough matching buttons to cover up all of the screws. And I’m WAY too much of a perfectionist to have my buttons mismatched. I looked up some cute flower DIYs to cover up the two screws that were still bare. I adapted ideas from these tutorials:
All of these tutorials are very straightforward and easy to do. Most of them call for felt, but you can honestly use most any materials as long as they have a similar thickness. It took a few hours for me to make all of the flowers, but honestly it was a ton of fun and I watched some fun gaming while I did it 🙂
Here’s my finished project! I didn’t end up doing a thumbtack border because, with the buttons, it would have just looked funky and been visually overwhelming. If I hadn’t had the screw issue, though, I totally would have!
Here are close-ups on the flowered parts so you can see better…
I added on some random buttons from my miniscule button collection (that I didn’t remember I had). Honestly this project was such a thrill to do, even though it may seem small.
Hope you enjoyed! What fun DIYs do you have in the works right now?

 

Married People Problems

It’s one of those sleepless, lay-here-musing-until-I-decide-to-do-something-about-it nights.

First off, I love being married. My person is my best friend and always does his best to take care of me in any way he can. I don’t know how I ever lived without him.

Yet…since I’ve been married, I’ve begun to feel more and more isolated. It has nothing to do with lack of spousal attention. For all I know, my person feels this way, too. It’s more about…entering this married world where it appears that most other young people are really just concerned with spending time with their spouse. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. I love being with my person. But…we aren’t just couple creatures. We’re family beings. We need each other, we need socialization.

So…I know this issue exists. I’ve talked with other young wives who feel the same way. We’ve lamented to each other about our mutual lack of friends and group time (or call it girl time). But…none of us has done anything about it. We’ve ranted, then gone our separate ways. I don’t have any idea why. It makes no sense. Somehow, in the process of entering married life, we’ve all neglected life outside of the couple world and forgotten how to just make friends.

I know a lot of it has to do with the fact that we all have this one best friend now…This is a connection I won’t ever have with anyone else, and I don’t want to. But, no matter how hard they try, spouses can’t fulfill every need. Am I making any sense here? I guess what I’m saying is, we married people still need friends. Not just to see in class or in church, or occasionally at the grocery store. Real, true, close friends we can count on. But…I guess I don’t really know how to make friends as a couple.

Any advice?