Monday, March 17, 2014

Fabric Fun

Way back in May, I mentioned our guest bedroom in this post, and said that I'd share it with you once it was finished. Well, it's still not finished. BUT, I did make some progress in there over this past weekend, with a little help from my lovely mom. I thought you might enjoy a little hint of what's to come....

Color! It makes me happy :) Stayed tuned for the finished product. Hopefully it'll be complete before the next 10 months or so...

Oh, btw, happy Monday!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Money Saving

In case you didn't already know, this is me:

If you don't understand this reference, stop right now, go watch Home Alone, then come back and keep reading.

Alright, I'm not quite that bad, but money saving has been on my mind a lot lately. Saving money was my #1 new year's resolution this year, and so far I've done a pretty good job of sticking to it. So, I thought I'd share with you guys some of the things we've found to be helpful when it comes to saving money.

Saving on Food:
This is by far the hardest part for me, but it is also the change that is making the biggest difference in our finances. We used to eat out all the time. Every. single. day. I hated grocery shopping and I hated cooking. We'd go to the store only once or twice a month and drop anywhere from $200-$350. Then we'd throw away half the stuff we bought because it would go bad before we got around to eating it. Such a waste of money and perfectly good food. So, I knew I had to make some changes. 

I started meal planning, which looks like this:
Every Friday I find five recipes for the next week and I make a grocery list of everything I'll need. I try to find recipes that utilize ingredients that I already have at home. (This happens a lot with tortillas. I usually buy a 10 pack of tortillas because they are the cheapest, but after taco night, we've only used 4. So the following week I'll make enchiladas because I know I've already got the tortillas at home and I don't want them to go to waste). Then I scour my pantry and fridge, just to make sure I don't already have something on the list. Now I'm fully equipped with the most efficient list possible, it's off to the store I go. Once there, I keep an eye out for replacement ingredients that are cheaper. (Last week, the turkey was on sale for $2.99/lb. so I bought that for my spaghetti instead of ground beef like I had planned because it was $5.99/lb.) I also buy generic brand for pretty much everything. Honestly, you can't taste the difference if you prepare your meals properly. Except with noodles. Don't buy VALUE brand noodles from Kroger. They are tough. Like Ford tough. Anyway, with this plan, I've got enough for five dinners and the leftovers serve as lunches for both me and my hubby to take to work. Since January I've been averaging $65/week at the grocery store. This is so much cheaper than what we were spending before when you consider how much we spent at restaurants. 

Saving on Gas
I buy my gas from Kroger, because we can get discounts depending on how much we spend on groceries. Each time I fill up, I save anywhere from 3 cents/gallon to $1.00/gallon. If at all possible, share a shoppers card with your friends or family. Your rewards will stack up quicker this way. (I share a card with my mom and she grocery shops a lot more than I do, so the gas savings are worth it for me, and she never fills up there anyway!)

Saving on Electricity Bills
I'm going to start signing up for short term contracts (like 3 months) because you can get a much better rate that way. This is especially important during the summer! 

Saving on Travel
Use Groupon. We bought our hotel for our anniversary trip to California on Groupon and it was a great deal and a wonderful experience. (Read more about that here.) Also, if at all possible, travel in the off season. Again, our trip to California was in February, not exactly peak travel time for wine country. But it was significantly less expensive and still gorgeous! BONUS: There weren't crowds everywhere we went. Lastly, don't eat out for every meal while traveling. When we went on our honeymoon, we filled up the mini-fridge in our hotel room with lunchables! So much cheaper than going to a restaurant every day for lunch. 

Saving on Home Improvement
Basically my entire blog is about this. But you should definitely go read this post for more details.  

Cut back on "extras"
Everybody has splurges here and there, but consider if the value you are getting from these "extras" is really worth the cost. For example, we recently decided to cancel our gym memberships. We live in a wonderful area that is very conducive to walking, jogging and biking. Besides, I really enjoy exercising outdoors more than inside a gym anyway. We've also got several work out DVDs and hand weights at home, so there is no reason why we can't work out for free. This change alone will save us $140/month (we were paying for two memberships, and for a personal trainer which was great when I was training for my half marathon, but afterwards it wasn't really necessary).  

Am I forgetting anything? Do you have any tips to make life a little less expensive? 


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Master Bathroom Cabinets

I don't think I've ever shown you guys our master bathroom, but I'm too lazy to go through my old posts to verify that. I'm sure you've all been dying to see it though (not), and guess what?! Today is your lucky day!!! Here it is, in all it's glory. 

Lets be honest. It pretty much sucks. It's just a standard, 1980's bathroom. Although I do like the floors, and the fact that the toilet is in it's own separate little room (a little privacy goes a long way, #ifyaknowhatimsayin); this is actually one of the biggest "problem areas" in our home. It's pretty small and there isn't a ton of counter top space. Also it bugs me that there is no natural light in here either. Also, the shower is kinda cramped and I really really really want dual shower heads. I have grand plans for a major overhaul, but since money is unfortunately a large factor, I've settled for simply painting the cabinets to make the space feel a little more updated for now. This also marks an important milestone... we officially have no more oak cabinets anywhere in our house! We've done the kitchen and all the bathrooms! YAY!!! I feel like that is cause for celebration. SIDE NOTE: For some unknown reason, one of the previous owners (or more likely, one of the previous owner's offspring) spray painted a white line across the middle drawer of these cabinets, which I'm happy to say is finally gone. See picture below:

Goodbye white line and dirty brown spot. I will not miss you. 

Here is the after:

The best part of this make over is that it was free! I just used left over paint from when I redid the cabinets in the half bathroom

So, the bathroom is still cramped, there still isn't any natural light, and I still wish we had more counter top space. It is however, slightly prettier, and our wallets aren't any emptier (is that a word?). I'd say that is a victory, wouldn't you?


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Recipe Roundup

Happy March! Spring is around the corner, but you wouldn't know it by this icy weather we are having here in Houston. I've been doing a pretty good job of keeping up with my new year's resolution to cook more. My husband loves how often I've been cooking, which makes it much more fun. I thought I'd share with you guys some of my favorite recipes I've found. These are all from Pinterest and a big shout out goes to these creative ladies who came up with these delicious meals! Click on the name of the meal and it will take you to the original site with the recipe.

 Chicken Potpie
This was seriously yummy and perfect for a cold night. I didn't make my crust homemade, I just used pre-made from the store and it worked out wonderfully. The hubs added some melted butter to the crust. 

So easy, perfect for a weekend meal and it makes for great leftovers. The store was out of spicy sausage, so I used mild and added some chili powder. Tasted great!

Seriously, so delicious. Way better than any Chinese take out we've ever had. The sauce smells really weird at first (bc of the Apple Cider Vinegar) but it ended up so delicious! We did it on 350 for 50 minutes instead of 225 for an hour because we were hungry and didn't want to wait so long! Chicken was cooked perfectly!
One of the most delicious things I've ever made in my life and probably my new favorite recipe. We didn't want to wait an entire hour to eat so we cranked the oven up to 350 degrees and they were done in 45 minutes. YUMMY!!

Garlic Bread Pizza: Without the Garlic Bread from @amandaformaro

This is yummy and easy! So much nicer than a frozen pizza! We added sausage to ours as well. 


 Burgers without having to use a grill? Yes, please! Delicious and juicy. We cut the secret sauce recipe in half and its still plenty for the two of us. Works great as leftovers too. 

 creamy white chicken enchiladas
 I've tried more than one white chicken enchiladas recipe that I've found on Pinterest, and so far this one is my favorite. The sauce is creamy and wonderful. 

So if its healthy meals you are looking for, you probably want to go elsewhere. But if what you want is delicious, then you really can't go wrong with any of these! I hope you enjoy trying these recipes!

Thanks for stopping by!