To Fall, or Not to Fall?

I can’t believe it’s September already you guys! It seems like only yesterday it was June, and now it’s  fall…sort of. When I see what month it is, I get visions of pumpkin spice lattes, long sleeve shirts, boots, and all things fall in my head. Then, I look at the weather forecast, and I come crashing back down to reality.
 
The calendar may say fall, but Texas weather has another thing in mind. We are still firmly in the 90s. At least we’re not in the 100s? This brings up an inner turmoil for a lot of Texans this time of year: do we decorate for fall and just pretend it doesn’t feel like an oven outside, or do we wait at least until it is no longer 90 degrees outside? We can’t wait until fall weather arrives because that’s not until late October/early November, and by then it’s almost Thanksgiving. We wouldn’t have even decorated for Halloween yet! I’m pretty sure this is firmly in the first world problems category, but maybe it’s just Texas problems?

So, as all of you living up north start seeing the foliage change colors and feel the briskness in the air, please keep those of us in the south in your thoughts as we struggle through this seasonal dilemma (I kid, I kid…sort of). We’ll just keep dreaming…

Date Night with a Twist

Last night, my husband decided to take me on a date to celebrate us being together for ten years. Because we didn’t feel comfortable getting a babysitter just yet, we also brought along Owen. Date night with a baby is a little different than date nights in the past.

For instance, if the place we went to had an early bird special, we would have been all over that. We went to dinner at 5:00. Back in the day, we would have gone around 7:30 or 8:00. Luckily, my husband chose a place that not only had cute decor and a yummy menu (the only way I can describe it is southern with a little refinement), but it was also kid friendly. It seemed like half of the restaurant brought their kids with them. However, I’m pretty sure none of the kids had Owen’s mad spoon skills.

  
 He definitely kept us on our toes: lots of playing and cuddling going on in addition to eating. However, I’m glad he came. My husband hadn’t seen him for at least three days before Sunday, so he was soaking it up and loving every second of having Owen around.

We rarely go out to eat, so this was a rare treat! In fact, it was the first time just the three of us went out to dinner together. We’ve gone out with groups of people for a rehearsal dinner and a couple of larger family meals when people were in town, but never just the three of us.

For an appetizer, we had black eyed pea hummus, for our main, I had the Zinfandel pot roast and Ben had the chorizo meatloaf, and for dessert, I had the peach crisp and Ben had the créme brûlée. Delicious! Owen had some of the black eyed pea hummus (impressive because it had a little spice) and some of my buttermilk whipped potatoes and beef. He also had some puffs and yogurt bites…had to have a few favorites on standby while waiting for food. I’m looking forward to going back when he’s older; one of their dessert options is warm cookies and milk.

Overall, it was a really fun date, and Owen behaved so well! I was really proud of him.

Self Doubt

I just started checking out Periscope, and Thursday one of my favorite bloggers, Mandy from House of Rose, did an impromptu video. It was as if I was meant to see that Periscope because everything she talked about pertained to me: giving yourself too many to-dos in one day, feeling like a failure, and not feeling good enough.

Talk about the story of my life! I’m a huge Type A personality and a perfectionist. So, I’m always making giant lists every day and then feeling like I failed at life because I only got like 5/20 things checked off the list (on bad days? none). Or, I’m constantly second guessing myself because I’m not sure what I’m doing is good enough. Should I really be blogging? Am I interesting enough to have a blog? Should I post on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter? Does anyone really care? Or, even worse: Am I a good enough parent? Am I doing what’s right for my family? It goes on and on… I’ve started getting better at silencing my inner critic, but it’s definitely a process.

As for the blog: is it perfect? Nope, not at all. I still need to do a lot of Googling to figure out how to make it look like I want it to, and I need to post more often and more confidently. I also need to find a new connecting cord for my hard drive, so I can get all of the pictures off of my nice camera and not constantly rely on my iPhone pictures. However, if I were to wait until the stars perfectly aligned for this, well, it would never happen. I just needed to take a deep breath and jump in. Life isn’t about to wait for me to start a blog so I can document it, and my memory is not getting any better to remember it without writing it down.

Am I interesting enough to blog or post on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter? At this point, I don’t really care. I think it’s time to stop caring so much about other people’s opinions of me and just post what I want to. They’re my platforms, not theirs. Plus, it’s sometimes the post that you think is least significant that will actually leave an impact on that one person who actually reads it.

Am I a good enough mother/wife/daughter/granddaughter/you name it? Well, maybe, maybe not. I may never know the answer to that. However, I try my best to do what’s right for my family, and that’s really all I can do. Every day I try to make sure I am present with my child, loving towards my husband, and send love to the rest of my family as much as I can, and every day is an opportunity to start fresh should the last one not have worked out as intended. I just need to remind myself to give myself a little grace.

How do you kick self doubt to the curb?

Shopping on a Budget

And you all thought I wasn’t going to do Frugal Friday because I already posted. Nope! Today is a two posts kind of day.

After you finish meal planning for the week, it’s time to go shopping! Other than the obvious ideas of using coupons and shopping the weekly deals, I also suggest three other ways to save yourself some money, whether immediately or long-term:

  1. Buy in bulk, but only when appropriate. I’m all about buying toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning products, beans, rice, oatmeal, canned goods, and even eggs in bulk (we’re a big egg eating family), but some things actually are not necessary. For instance, There’s no way I’m going to use a four pack of cucumbers before they start going bad. I love me some cucumber, but that’s a bit much. Make sure you will actually use what you’re buying before the product goes bad. I buy a lot of frozen veggies, meat (so I can stock up our freezer), and dry goods when I go to Costco.
  2. Use the bulk bins at your normal grocery stores instead of getting items from the packaged food aisles, when available. I’ve found that I actually pay less when buying from the bulk bins than I do if I bought the same thing pre-packaged in aisle 5.
  3. A lot of the time, stores will cut prices when a product is closing in on it’s expiration date. I’ve found a gallon of organic milk for $1.99 (originally $5.99) multiple times at Sprouts when its expiration date is only a couple days off from the milk that hasn’t been marked down. My husband is a milk fiend, so that sucker gets drunk before any sourness has a chance to appear. In Target, I’ve found meat with $3 off coupons attached to them because the date was a couple of days away. Not a problem if you just throw it in the freezer. I’ve stocked up on some really great priced meat by keeping an eye out for those stickers. A lot of the time, if you ask an employee at your favorite store, they’ll tell you what day of the week they mark certain items down, so you can plan accordingly.

Whether you’re getting your freezer stash of meat started, your pantry fully stocked with bulk canned and dry goods, or you’re just finding great deals for a week’s worth of food, hopefully you find a tip that helps save you a little extra for your family’s budget.

10 Years

10 years ago today, two crazy kids decided to start dating.


I’m not sure where the time has gone, but, along the way, we’ve had some amazing adventures together.

   
  
  
We’ve played beautiful music together.

  
We had a gorgeous wedding.

  

And a perfect baby boy.


And, through it all, we’ve been inseparable.

  
  
  

I can’t imagine my life without this wonderful man by my side, and I’m so glad that I said yes to dating him all those years ago.

A First

Today marks a first for me: this is the first time since I was three that “back to school” did not mean I was going to school in some form or fashion. For 26 years, I have either been in preschool, grade school, college, teaching private lessons, substitute teaching, or teaching every year and anticipating the first day of school.

Today, it was surreal to see my husband leave to work for his new job (even though he has been teaching since August began because, well, that’s what people in our field of teaching do), and I was still at home. For once, I wasn’t rushing out of the door, tea in hand, anxious to get the day started. No, instead, I made sure my husband had his lunch for the day, kissed him good luck, and watched him leave.

Talk about new beginnings! I have been doing the stay-at-home thing since school ended in early June, but I think it truly hit me today that I’m really doing this. Instead of teaching hundreds of kids one subject throughout the day, I’m teaching one kid, my kid, about life all day, every day. I’m making sure he grows up well rounded, developmentally appropriate, with good manners, and he is not that kid once he becomes school age. No pressure, right?

Meal Planning

After one of my friends asked to hear my frugal hacks a couple of posts ago, I started thinking. I came to the realization that I do a lot of stuff to save money, most of which I don’t even have to think about anymore. It has just become a lifestyle change. I was originally going to do a post about my money saving tips, but I realized that it was going to be the longest post ever. Because of this, a new idea formed: Frugal Friday.

Every Friday, I’m going to blog about one of the money saving tricks that I have up my sleeve.

Because this first one saves us so much money, I had to start with it: meal planning. I know, I know…every blogger and her mom has talked about meal planning. But, seriously, when done correctly, it saves you a ridiculous amount of money. Even though it takes a little bit of extra time, it is so worth it.

Before meal planning, I make sure to “shop” my fridge, pantry, and freezer to see what I have available. I also take note if something needs to be used up before it expires (another big money waster is allowing food to spoil and having to throw it away).

Once I know what I’m working with at home, I decide what recipes I want to use for the week. These may be old tried and true favorites, Pinterest pins that I’m especially excited about, recipes I’m trying out from a cookbook, or just general things like “baked fish, potatoes, and green beans” where you give a guideline and then decide how you’re going to fix it the day of. My meal plans usually end up being a little bit of everything.

For the sake of our budget, I usually go meatless at least one day a week, if not more. To remember, I do Meatless Monday. What can I say? Catchy names help me remember to do things. I also like to do at least one day of some kind of fish, so, yep, you guessed it, I do Fish Friday (Usually. This week, I bumped it to Saturday because of my husband’s work schedule).

I use an awesome printable I found years ago to write down my meals for the week. Because I literally use it every week, I framed it with a cheap Ikea frame, so I didn’t waste a bunch of ink printing it off every week. Instead, I write on it with dry erase markers, so I can reuse it indefinitely. Please excuse the third grader handwriting.

I’m not bothered with eating the same thing for breakfast, and, for lunch, I more give myself a guideline since I’m terrible at eating lunch. Half the time, I just make myself a meal replacement shake and call it good (not necessarily the best, but at least it’s something). For my husband, I pack his lunch. He’ll either get a sandwich with string cheese, fruit, and baby carrots, or he’ll get leftovers.

Once I decide what my meals are and write them down, I go back through the recipes and mental inventory of my kitchen and make a list (on my printable, to the right of the menu) of what I need to buy for the week. I then transfer that list to my phone’s shopping list and erase the items one by one when I get home with the purchases. Why this extra step? Sometimes technology and I don’t get along, and I’ve been known to accidentally erase stuff and not notice until I don’t have an ingredient in the middle of cooking. If you’re better with your phone than I am, feel free to skip the last step.

Another perk of having my menu and list on dry erase is that I can erase the meals once I make them and have a running list of things we need on the next shopping trip.

I usually do all of my shopping on Sundays, although it varies depending on our schedules. However, I only have to go once a week unless we run out of something crucial: like bananas, one of my son’s favorite foods.

Meal planning allows you to think out your meals ahead of time, looking at your calendar to make sure you plan around any crazy stuff in the evenings. Late night? Something fast, crockpot,  or leftovers. People coming over? A bigger yielding recipe, a roast, or BBQ. I also like to take into account the sales for the week and whether I can use an ingredient in more than one recipe, if one recipe won’t use the entirety of it.

By planning ahead for the week, not only will you not have a “There’s nothing to eat. Let’s order takeout.” moment, but you also won’t buy unnecessary food that ultimately goes to waste, you save on gas, and you will also have more time to do the things you enjoy…not go grocery shopping multiple times a week. Added bonus: a detailed grocery list makes for a fast shopping trip and less likelihood of my baby getting squirmy in the shopping cart. I also find that we eat healthier.