Friday, August 24, 2012

Save A Penny!

We've talked a lot about ways to get money recently here and today, I'm keeping it up! It isn't a foreign concept to have a coin jar or a coin cup, so I'm sure many of you already have one going.  We did, too. It was a lovely big gulp cup from high school.
Problems - the cup didn't match any decor so we didn't have it on display. Then, out of sight, out of mind set in. Another issue we had was that the cup isn't see through, so we didn't know exactly how much money we had unless we opened it up. 

So,  I grabbed a jar from the collection I have stashed in my kitchen cabinets for storage, pulled my stickers out, and got to it. I chose beige letters to keep it neutral and allow me the ability to move it from room to room without worrying about clashing with anything.

See that difference?? Now, we not only put our coins from our pockets (or coins we wrangle from the ground) in the jar, but I have also made it a habit to put the coins from the bottom of my purse and in my coin pocket in my wallet in there (since I don't put coins in my pockets).

We have rules for the coin jar. Once it goes in, it doesn't come out until we are depositing it in the bank. Not only does it let the jar grow faster, but it keeps us from buying things on a whim - like a soda from the vending machine. The money from the jar goes to "fun" purchases. Right now, we are saving for The Mister to get a new amp. Having a goal motivates us to put the money IN THE JAR!! It doesn't help to have a coin jar if it doesn't get used. And, having a goal keeps us from buying something too quickly- "We have the money and I would like a new amp. what if we got one this Thursday?" kind of conversations don't really happen anymore.

And the lovely, simple jar sits atop our dresser, reminding us to save our pennies. I look forward to sharing more about our current money adventures soon. We have been pretty serious about saving recently. Any one have some creative ways to fill their coin cup? Or have alternatives to a coin cup?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Finding Money on the Bookshelf

As you lovely readers now know, I use to be a full time student, but since the end of June, I am now a full time RN. It's awesome. Not only is it super cool because of the additional paychecks in the bank (and of course getting to help people), but I also get to rid myself of my most hated text books.

I LOVE books. Love them. I have an e-reader with a few books on it, and we have many books (but not nearly as many as I would like to have) on a book shelf in the living room. I agree with Cicero when he said "A room without books is like a body without a soul." But, my text books drained me of my soul!

You may have seen me share this photo when I was cleaning out the shelves.

There was a mix of reads from when I went through my hardcore feminist phase, when I was  Med Humanities major, old devotional books, books I read once and didn't love, and many, many nursing school books. I hesitated, honestly, to rid myself of the text books at first. If you find yourself to be doing the same thing with your academic books, think about the field. I realized that medicine is ALWAYS changing. Always. And praise God that he continues to open man's minds to the wonders of our own bodies and the world around us. Because of that, my text books will be out dated in easily 5 years. So, why not make a bit of money while I can sell them?

If you have books around and would like to get a little extra cash in your pocket, sell! Recent grads can sell your textbooks back to students who are still in your program. Package them together at a competitive rate to the book store and starving college kids will flock. Big bookstore also but back textbooks for good prices. I used Barnes and Noble. You have to do it online, but you go on to their "Sell Your Textbooks" page, get a quote, decide if you want to take it, and then they give you a shipping label.

You can also try to sell for a bit more at a place like (affiliated with EBay) where you state your price. I have used for some things, but with this shelf clean out, I didn't want to wait around for a buyer to bite and then have to go to the post office, get a shipping label, and send it off.

For books that Barnes and Noble didn't accept, I sold the rest at my local Half Price Books. You can find many local places to sell back your books. Just look!

I made about $140 on books I just didn't want to have around anymore. This money started our super strict and serious savings fund. There have been some good things happening here in the financial department and I can't wait to share the details with you guys. It's pretty exciting.

What else have you guys done to rid yourself of those unwanted, not so loved books?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Favorite Details: Tea Pot and Mills

I want to share with you some of my favorite little details throughout our home. So I am going to start out with some pretty things that sit atop our kitchen counter top.

Before we had cable, we watched Netflix. Because this was all we had, I usually picked a show and just watched all of the episodes of that show. Anyone remember Ally McBeal?? Well, she believed a house wasn't a home until there was a coat rack. I had the same kind of feeling, but about a teapot. I was shopping around for the best teapot that matched our personalities and out home.

THEN- a dear, dear friend returned from London with a beautiful stone tea pot in navy blue. I LOVE it! And, there was a large box of Christmas tea bags - seriously, it sells just like Christmas. I'm excited to brew those buddies.

Isn't it cute? You see the tea pots neighbors in the above picture - our salt and pepper grinders. I had wanted wooden grinders in a bright color, but I saw these and realized that seeing the peppercorns and the large chunks of salt is pretty and more organic in and of itself.

Do not be fooled - these mills are not acrylic. They are glass and steel. We purchased them from Target for $14.95 a piece. I love them. And they look so nice with our tea pot from across the pond. Don't you agree?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Amateur Photography

My best and most beautiful friend, Lauren, is getting married. And I am stoked. You know me and my man are penny savers. Why would you expect anything different from my favorite female?!?

Let me tell you a bit about this couple. Most of their relationship has been long distance. Most recently, Lauren was in China. Most of their pictures together are on their phones. So, to help save them money and to help give them more pictures that are not on a cell phone, I offered to take photos of them together.

I am in no way dubbing myself even a novice photographer. I'm just a girl who loves my best friend and wanted to help her out. So, I read many tutorials on how to take photos of people. Because, people, lets not fool ourselves - taking pictures of people is a lot different than taking pictures of pretty trees and mountains and whatnot. Plus, I really was worried that I would take a ton of photos and Lauren and Ross (he is the lucky guy getting that pretty blonde in the pictures you see) hated. Or make them look ugly. Because they are not. Ugly, that is.

My goal as we spent just about an entire day traveling around to different places and snapping shots was to have photos that were true to who Lauren and Ross are. The Mister and I had all of our engagement pictures taken outdoors in nature or by old buildings and bridges. It would have been weird for us to be in formal wear and dancing in a ballroom or in cowboy boots on a tractor. In the same way, I wanted to be sure and stay true to my friends and who they are. This led us to a park, the lake, big trees, a yogurt shop, and some cool urban areas like a sort of train station.

I also wanted to be true to their personalities. This meant much hand holding, googly eyes (as Chris calls it...), and laughter. They also brought clothing that they liked themselves in - pieces that their friends and family would expect them to wear. I wanted to capture moments, not create them.

What was really funny about this day was that it was a blazing summer day all morning... then came huge wind, clouds, and rain. We wanted to retake a few lake shots so we went out when it seemed to clear up. Then it started to just spit some rain again. I got super creative and fashioned a trash bag I had in to what reminded me of those old timey black sheets that photographers would climb under. But my white plastic trash bag did its job - protected the camera so we could get a few more good shots in.

So, if you are getting pictures taken of yourself, remember to be yourself. And have fun. And if you are taking pictures, remember to encourage the people you are working with be themselves. And everyone relax. Aren't my wonderful friends precious? It was an honor to be trusted by them. I hope I did their sweet hearts justice!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pesto Cubes - Save your herbs!

We have an issue that I think many people our age have - it is difficult to eat all of our herbs before they go bad. It tends to be more cost efficient to buy in bulk for fresh herbs (and in the summer time I take advantage of fresh as opposed to dry). But they can come in some pretty big bundles. And after a bit you can get sick of eating that same herb on everything. We even tend to buy a couple at once - usually basil, cilantro, and parsley. So 2 people with bushels of herbs who really only eat dinner at home. So when I saw multiple postings on Pinterest suggesting freezing pesto, I went for it.

Here is the scenario. I came across some parsley that was on its way out when I was sorting through leftovers in the fridge for lunch (We love leftovers in our house! They tend to function as second dinners and lunch the next day for me. Leftovers never go to waste). The entire cast of character includes parsley, lemon juice, Romano cheese, olive oil, and a little salt. All of these things went in to a food processor until they were pesto-fied (that just means smooth and mixed well).

I then poured that pesto in to our deep silicone ice tray and let freeze for 4 hours. Then they were placed in a freezer storage bag with the date and details, waiting for a day when we had no clue what we wanted didn't want to make anything super intense... Then came dinner last night. I was tired, The Mister was tired, but tilapia was ready to be dressed for dinner. 

I threw 2 cubes in to a nonstick pan with 2 Tilapia. Cooked and shredded the fish and placed some rice beside it. Veggies of your choice on the side.

 My favorite thing about this idea is that you can do this with any herb, really. And you can make several different kinds of pesto to throw in any dish - pasta, veggies, proteins of your picking.

Chris LOVED this meal. He said it was the best fish he has had. Honestly. And it was so easy to make. So get to saving your herbs that are a day away from the trash can and freeze some pesto!

Here is the recipe for my pesto (super flexible! add almonds, more garlic, other spices, switch up the cheeses...):

Parsley Romano Pesto with Lemon

1 cup parsley (curly)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 medium lemon
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup grated Romano
Pinch of salt

1. Put ingredients in your food processor until the consistency you prefer - I pulse mine for about a minute.
2. Freeze in your preferred container (muffin tin, ice cube tray...) or serve right away!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Hutch - Revisited

Lets talk about that hutch again.

We told you guys about our hutch before - here, here, and here... Remember? We had BIG plans! This was our latest to do list:
  • Glass in the doors - Hubby wants to find some antiqued glass
  • Magnets to keep doors closed (so we can nix the twine)
  • Resquare and support doors
  • Resquare and support lower desk
  • Line drawers with pretty paper
  • Repaint due to my staining fiasco and messy rag handling
  • Wax up those drawer guides

  • Well, things have changed. We wanted to get all of that stuff done to put it in our new place! But, we are living in this place and have decided that the hutch would just take up a lot more space than we are willing to give up and it isn't necessary anymore because of all of the cabinet space we have in our kitchen. In our old apartment, we had a total of 4 cabinets and a pantry. Now we have more than triple that.

    We don't want to be those people who allow beautiful pieces to waste away so The Mister is finishing the list and will sell it in his Etsy shop! The base is a saved, antique desk and the top is a custom, hand built piece. And let me tell you it is coming along nicely.

    I look forward to showing you guys where this goes! The list has already dwindled down, so it shouldn't be too much longer... see:

  • Glass in the doors - Hubby wants to find some antiqued glass
  • Magnets to keep doors closed (so we can nix the twine)
  • Resquare and support doors
  • Resquare and support lower desk
  • Line drawers with pretty paper
  • Repaint due to my staining fiasco and messy rag handling
  • Wax up those drawer guides

  • Whoever decides to purchase this will have a unique, custom, sturdy piece built with lots of love.

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Road Trip!

    5 days off for The Missus and available vacation time for The Mister meant a vacation was in store. We threw around several ideas - fly to New York, go to D.C., visit family on the coast... but we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been before. This is how we went on a road trip to Tennessee.

    What I wanted from this was relaxation and Chris wanted adventure and relaxation. The original plan was to make stops in Little Rock, AK, Memphis, TN, and Nashville, TN. My favorite part of what actually transpired was that we made it super flexible so things could change easily if we wanted them to. We kept it flexible by not booking any hotel rooms or making any appointments. This is definitely not THE MOST cost effective way to plan a trip, due to the fact that it is usually cheapest to book any trip as far in advance as possible to save the most money, but it kept our trip spontaneous!

    We went hiking in Arkansas, visited Beale Street and the Gibson factory in Memphis (and ate some delicious BBQ), then decided we really wanted to go back to Arkansas, but instead visit Hot Springs, we didn't have anything to move around or cancel. Lola came with us so we found pet friendly hotels and locations, and made sure to pack her crate, food, bowls, and toys.

    We had an amazing time that was totally us. I learned more about my mine and he learned more about me - and I'm still surprised by this because of just how long we have been together!

    Here are our tips to having a fun, memorable road trip:
    • Remember that the amount of planning you put in determines how flexible your schedule can be. Try to pick out 1 or 2 things you DEFINITELY want to see/do and then gear your time around that.
    • If you are crossing state lines, stop at their welcome centers. They usually all have maps and lists of the top attractions to visit while you are there.
    • Always look at the times your desired activities are available to you! I really wanted to take a soak in the baths at Hot Springs, but we were there on a Sunday and they all closed early in the day. Don't make my same mistake!
    • Pack snacks and drinks and entertainment for the drive! But take advantage of the local cuisine.
      • Things you already have at home are best because they will cut down on unneeded expenses.
      • Entertainment can be songs (don't always rely on the radio!), recorded books, lists of random questions to learn more about your travel buddies, stuff for hobbies you may have like knitting, taking photos, drawing, reading... but don't do some of these things if you get car sick like yours truly. We stuck to questions, recaps on our favorite memories, stories from our childhood, and music.
      • A cooler is always a great thing. Pack things you already have that may even go bad while you are gone. If you would rather not pack all perishables that may go bad while you are gone (we didn't pack our cilantro - there was no need for that on our road trip) give them away or throw them away so you do not come home to a stinky kitchen.
    • Never forget cell phone chargers, a charger for your camera, clothes for all sorts of weather situations that you may run in to, and a first aid kit.
      • Things we packed that were specific to where we were going, like hiking for example, are bug spray, sunscreen, fishing poles, a picnic blanket, a travel pillow, hiking shoes, hats, sunglasses, and a ball to play fetch with Lola.

    I hope you all are turning over potential road trip destinations in your mind right now. If you would like more details, I am sure I will share them here soon. But specific requests will receive specific responses!! Happy planning.