Friday, September 26, 2014

Frugal Tips Via Jill Cataldo

I was recently reading an article that a friend shared with me. A newspaper columnist Jill Cataldo wrote in reference to saving money. Jill reached out to her readers to inquire about their money saving tips. Apparently, there was no shortage of ideas on how to cut corners.

I found the article to be interesting. Although a few of the ideas may be controversial. I learned a few frugal lessons that could very well pertain to my family. For instance,  Jill suggest to take beverages along with you in the car to avoid overspending on drinks during your outting. I am definitely an individual that must have a drink on hand. I make this mistakes often. If the family is with me, the price definitely climbs. One of the ways that I've been trying to curb this appetite to wet my wistle is by keeping both a cup for cold drinks and hot beverages at work. Fortunately,  in my office ice, water, coffee,  hot tea and hot chocolate are complimentary and readily available. However, you must bring your own container to take advantage of the beverages available. In addition, there is an overpriced vending machine that has welcomed my hard earned dollars on more than one occasion. Each beverage ranges between $1.50 to $2.00 a piece. I have reduced my dependence on that wonderful modern vending machine. The machine even accepts credit and debit cards. The convenience surely is thickening someone's wallet. I would imagine that I'm saving at least 3 to 5 trips a week by not visiting the vending machine. I'd say I'm saving a minimum of five dollars a week by having the convenience of my own personal cups. Now to avoid the gas station.

I completely agree with her idea of only shopping online if the store is offering free shipping. I like to occasionally take advantage of online deals. There are a few exceptions. I believe in small business and I would make an exception for Etsy, perhaps eBay. It just depends on the circumstance and where the money comes from. If I sell on eBay or Etsy, then I am more likely to be comfortable with paying for shipping.I generally stick to free shipping offers. I also like Amazon. You can purchase$35.00 of Amazon goods to qualify for free shipping. One year,  I purchased Amazon Prime to benefit from the free shipping. It depends on the situation but overall, I rarely pay for shipping outside of eBay and Etsy.

Jill mentions taking advantage of the dollar store.I definitely agree with this.I understand that the Dollar Tree stores now accept coupons, That is a bonus too.

Jill suggest bringing home extra condiments from dining out, fast food and such. I won't throw away an extra ketchup or hot sauce package but I've never shopped for free condiments. I don't know if I would play along with this idea. Naturally, I won't waste leftover packets but I'm not quite an "extreme cheapskate." Then again, have you noticed the rising cost of mayonnaise? Hmm, perhaps I should contemplate this one. My children did once go through an eight pound container of ketchup. (and that was before Master K. was born. [Plus Miss.B. did share the remainder of the bottle with our German Sheppard, Sable, at that time. Sable had a large appetite,  Lol. Imagine my surprise when I returned from the laundry room. Lol.] However, I must state that I wouldn't shop for condiments at a restaurant. Taking an abundance of condiments would be stealing. I will however bring home and save the extras given to me. I also know that others in my office save leftover condiments and share them with others by placing them in the break room.

Speaking of eight pounds of ketchup. Jill suggest avoiding the membership warehouse type stores. I'm not sure about this. I've heard that some people save money by purchasing in bulk. I imagine that it would be the impulse shopping that would be the issue. Debatable I guess.

Now for my personal preferences:

Jill suggest turning off the air conditioner and heater.It is also recommend to only use window units. Sorry,  that's not happening in Florida. Certainly not for a lady with a thyroid condition constantly making me hot, the Florida heat and humidity and let's not even mention the hot flashes. However, against my better judgment (Preference really) our air conditioner has been set at the same temperature for the last six months since our move.  We are saving $200 a month by moving away from a horrible electric company. We are also  saving energy by only using appliances during non peak hours at night. I'd still like to see this bill reduced. As far as window units,  not all communities allow them. When ut cools off, I'm not against window fans. In the future I'd like to consider a portable air conditioner to see how that would compare.

Jill or perhaps her readers, suggest ordering only one meal for two people if dining out. I guess this would have to depend on the location,  pricing, occasion and similar. If it is a special occasion I'd rather not. Dining out is an enjoyable outting. I do believe that there are ways to save but for me,  it would have to be a case per case basis. I do agree that it would save money to eat at home.

There is a handful of suggestions in the article. You can read the original article on her website. I recommend taking a peek at it.

How do you save money? Any frugal ideas? Are any of you extreme cheapskates? I'd love to learn of your ideas and suggestions.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A New Interest

I love it when I stumble upon a new interest!

Olá amigos! Eu quero aprender a falar português.

Translation: Hello Friends! I want to learn how to speak Portugese. Earlier this week, I encountered an issue with a service that a client had ordered. I realized that I was not equipped to handle the language barrier. However, I wanted to ensure the best possible service to the client. I decided upon utilizing the Google Translate to try to email the client. Much to my surprise, the email was successful. The client contacted me and we are handling the issue and nipping a possible negative situation in the bud.

I was really excited about the possibility of completing this international business deal. It felt great to help the client. Over the last two days, it seems that I have had portugese clients. Over the telephone, my company partners with a translation service. I was able to successfully complete a transaction with a portugese client in Brazil.

I came home from work yesterday and was thinking about the portugese clients. I wanted to learn more about the portugese culture, language and history. I was not aware that portugese was a commonly spoken language in Brazil. I decided to read about the history of the language in Brazil. I had previously thought that Spanish was spoken in Brazil and perhaps the majority if not all of South America . Obviously I was wrong. I'm now interested in learning more about South American cultures including the portugese language and Brazil. I was even surprised to learn that there was originally a Royal Portuguese Family in Brazil.

I love finding new and intriguing interest.  Although it is still a distance, every since I was a little girl, I have wanted to visit The Galapagos Islands. My favorite book shared animals from around the world such as Pigeons in Paris for instance and the Giant Galapagos Tortoise. Oh how I loved (love) Turtles. I would love to tour the Galapagos and make my way to Brazil. I'd love to visit and write about my experiences in Travel. Travel writing would be awesome. I have written about family travel as a freelance writer, It would be intriguing to write about Brazil and the Galapagos to name a few.

Anyway, I would like to learn portugese to help my clients at work and to enrich my life and knowledge as well.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weekly Plan Week Two

I'm happy about making a weekly plan. I think it helped me to know ahead of time that I wanted to do a few particular goals. I didn't complete everything on my list but no one is perfect right? So now for week two:

-Complete application for volunteer work.
- Help Miss.J. with completing College application #2.
-Telephone conference with the boys teacher.
-Complete order for Graduation announcements, Cap and Gown and Class Ring for Miss.J.
-Attend a Fundraiser community event.

-Go to work.
-Store a change of clothing in my locker.
-Stash a lunch or snack pantry safe item in my locker.

Work At Home:
-Write 5 blog post.
-Update Freelance Profile
-Work on Media Kit.
-Work in helping my daughter with a side business idea that we would like to develop.

-Get a newspaper on Sunday September 21, 2914
-Organize Coupons
-Get snacks for the children. We don't purchase many snacks but I like to try to keep some healthy items on hand with an occasional Happy snack.
-Organize my son's dresser.
-Clip doggy nails
-Unpack and Decorate our Autumn and Halloween Decorations.
-Clean out my sewing bag.
-Donate Sewing and craft supplies to a volunteer group that I'm joining.
-Remove the 5000 pound television that went out on us. This will be a 2 or 3 person project.
-Organize the pantry.
-Time again to clean out the refrigerator.
-Work on meal planning for a grocery shopping.

-Send in payment for school trip for Miss.J.
-Find out cost of Miss.A . school required gym uniform and/or pay for it.
-Send in deposit for Miss.J . Graduation and Class Ring orders.
-Complete rent issue resolution and payment.
-Make the call to start company 401K plan and stock purchase options.
-Apply for health insurance.
-Gather car insurance quotes (either my DH or myself)

-Get a hair trim
-Find my missing Thirty One bag to keep my change of clothing in for work.

-Complete the Halloween mug rug.
-Complete sewing portion of a Halloween Swap Project.
-Enter 50 Giveaways and Sweepstakes

Wish me luck! Enjoy your week!

Week One Plan Recap

Well I must say that I liked having a few goals to focus on this week. So it's time to see how week one stacked


☆Apply for a school Program that my daughter Miss.A. would like to join
☆Pay Event $ for a meal for Miss.J during a school event.
☆Send a Snack for event day for Miss.J.
☆Pack a Bag for Mr.K for swimming lessons this week

Fail:  We didn't Apply for for college #2 Between our schedules and Miss.J. catching a cold.
Complete Volunteer Application for Background Check


☆Go to work, it's been a challenge this week with health issues.
☆Prepare Clothing in advance.
☆Bring in a Coffee Cup & Cold Beverage Cup to keep in desk.
☆Remember to turn in Doctors Note
☆Get a locker

Fail: Leave a Change of Clothing in my work locker.


Wrote 4/5  Blog Post

Fail: Update Freelance Writing Profile


☆Prepare and Lay out Son's School Clothes
☆Reorganize the laundry room
☆Begin a Menu/Grocery list for grocery shopping next week.
☆Vacuum bedroom
☆Wash blankets/Linens from the weekend.

Fail: 1/2 I didn't finish re-organizing my son's dresser . However, his laundry of course was washed as I do this on my day off of work. I did get the school clothing wrinkle free and hung up in the closet.
I didn't Reorganize the pantry but it will only take a few minutes because it's basically in order . I'll do it soon.


☆$5 for Miss.J. plus snack
☆Plan debt repayment for a particular loan
☆Write checks for a loan payment and ☆daughter's end of the month payment for school trip.
☆Address, Stamp and label envelopes.
☆ Update family calendar with new monthly bills and due dates.

Fail: Call the financial service through work to create an online account to begin 401K Plan with the company and stock purchase options.
Rent issue causing a delay in proper payment. Working on meeting with payment person.


☆Make a dinner reservation for Miss.J for Graduation. It may be too early but it's worth a try. I did try but the restaurant was only taking reservations through March 2015. So, I also made reservations and plans for three other birthdays.


1/2 complete.
I did a little work on my first mug rug.
I entereed about 30 giveaways out of the intended 50 Sweepstakes/Giveaways.
I did begin working on the Halloween swap project for my partner. I also made a small halloween rag wreath.

Overall, it went pretty well. I didn't complete all of my intentional goals . However, I mostly feel alright about it . I'll add my incomplete list to this week's goals.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Halloween Small Rag Wreath

We spent a little time this evening crafting! I began working on a few projects for upcoming Halloween Swap events. I wanted to make a smaller Halloween rag wreath from left over fabric that I had to made my little mister a Halloween themed pillow for school nap time. I liked the fabric print so much that I bought the remainder of the bolt.

I made a door wreath with the same fabric alternating with two other printsva few years ago.I plan to unpack the Fall decorations soon . one of my favorite pieces is the rag wreath.
My little is excited about decorating.

This evening, Miss.A talked about crafts . She participated and planned crafts. Daddy worked on paper crafts making a pretty cool rocket craft. The little made several drawings and then he created a cute monster.

I dididn't get an opportunity to take a picture of dad's work.It blasted off before I could snapa shot of it. Unfortunately, it was a b bit dark when these pictures were taken. Anyway, it was a fun mini craft session!

An Alternative Lifestyle Tiny Home Style

While contemplating financial issues,  I stumbled upon an alternative lifestyle. It seems that there is a Tiny House Movement taking the nation by storm. The homes are charming,  small and an inventive alternative to committing to the long term mortgage.  A tiny house is a home that is extremely close to being a debt free home.

The homes can be purchased completely constructed,  as a kit or built by hand. The home scan be built with a regular permanent foundation or on a portable trailor bed. The most popular choice seems to be the later. The home can legally park in an RV park,  mobile home park or your own property. Naturally, I'd advise you to double check the laws, requirements and codes for the area that you may choose to live.

Tiny houses are categorized as recreational vehicles. They will require a vehicle registration. In addition,  the homes qualify for home owners insurance.

I've read articles,  blogs and stories about the building of Tiny Houses. I understand that they can be bought or built for a fraction of the cost of a traditional home. Many handmade homes average 10-12 thousand dollars. Tiny House enthusiasts rave about the freeing of stress, financial burden and the freedom associated with the lifestyle change.

The houses are really cute. I think this may be the answer to my hone ownership dilemma. I even stumbled upon a blog where the author actually shared a detailed budget of the home building journey. Simply amazing! The couple only spent $5,339.13 to build their home.  I must say that I am truly impressed!  You can read more about their experience at Tiny Revolution . It's a great resource for anyone thinking of building their own Tiny Home,

I read many accounts of families and couples making the move to financial freedom with the alternative lifestyle of the Tiny Houses Movement. I read about couples planning to retire in small houses. Families living happy productive lives.Twenty somethings utilizing small homes as starter homes . Communities building small houses for homeless individuals. A mayor in Oregon encouraging people to go small. People from all walks in life are downsizing their financial and material lives to upsize their quality of life.

Imagine the freedom of never having to pay a mortgage or rent . You can even temporarily reside in a small house to save or live rent free while building or saving to build your own larger home.

I think these are great homes for seniors as well. Simplify . Also there are countless reasons that this lifestyle is a green way to live. It is an excellent way to tred lightly on the earth. This is a beneficial way of life for the environment.

I love Tiny Houses! Now, to convince my family that this is a great idea for us. I would love to begin building a tiny house. I will update our plans and share them with you!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Our Financial Conundrum

I've spent a great deal of time contemplating our financial issues. I've been reading budgeting books, financial books, magazines, websites and blogs . I've considered educational options, learning more about the stock markets and retirement planning . I've sorted out a plan to pay off debt and to save. When it comes right down to it,  I know the core of our financial issues.

We try to make money working, doing odd jobs, a few business ventures, doing virtual assistant and freelance writing work and even by selling my handmade crafts. I cut expenses everywhere possible.We only use major appliances such as laundry machines after peak hours. We monitor our electric usage and have set our air conditioner ( must in Florida) at the same temperature year around. We have done these steps to reduce usage but yet the electric bill is high.Summer power bills climb regardless of use in these parts.

I've been reading a lot of tips on family blogs. I'm trying to do my best to improve our lives. I have an overwhelming wish, desire, want to own a home.I long for the stability and comfort of owning a home. I realize that opens a whole new can of financial worms. However, I hatetthrowing away money.

Our current rent is approximately $1100 each month. That is truly ridiculous.
 Power bill is $250, Gas bill $120, Car payment $301, plus insurance(s),phones, groceries, Gas, school fees, medications, personal bills etc.. Not to mention the upcoming holidays and $860 needed for a school trip.Ouch.Help.

That's a large monthly round up as far as I'm concerned. At least if it was our own home it would be money going towards our future. As it is, it's just being thrown away. I had an opportunity to purchase a home with a loan and it was something that I truly wanted. The decision to not purchase the home is very complicated. It was an opportunity that I've regretted financially but for reasons that are too lengthy to get into, one that was necessary and probably for the best in other areas of my life and relationships. It was an extremely hard choice that has brought me pain, Worry and stress as well as strained relationships and possibly burnt bridges as well. Either decision had serious reprecautions. I'm still in debt approximately $700 with the failed home purchase. This is on the top of my debt repayment plan due to interpersonal relationships that I wish to resolve.

So, I've been trying to"Bloom Where I'm Planted" (Author unknown to me) I'm cutting corners and trying to find my way through the financial maze. It's a mess.We are working hard just to try to keep our heads above water.

So, where do we go from here? We would love the American Dream. A nice home and the like . Naturally, that would require a down payment,  loan/mortgage and payments forever. So, what to do?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Swapoween 2014 Blogger Swap Excitement

Remember a few days ago,  I was searching high and low for online craft and Halloween swaps?  I am so excited to have learned of Chaotic Goddess Swaps! Iam excited to be participating in this fun swap!

I am really happy to have stumbled upon this Halloween Swap and community. I enjoy gifting to others and I love Happy surprises and mail!

Thank you to Chaotic Goddess Swaps for letting me join the fun!

I will share the Halloween fun that my swap partner sends to me with all of you! Oh what fun for a gal that loves Autumn. I love having the opportunity to let my imagination go wild with dreaming of the Halloween fun that I get to share and receive!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

This Weeks Plan

  • I'm a constant list maker.I keep a notebook full of my to do items.They are arranged in list specific to particular events like school shopping, Home organization and so on. Now that I've returned to the official workforce, I've been inspired by the  Moms Plans Blog to make a weekly plan. I love to see what kinds of goals that others have. For this week my plans are to:


  • Apply for a school Program that my daughter Miss.A. would like to join. 
  • Pay Event $ for a meal for Miss.J during a school event. 
  • Send a Snack for event day for Miss.J.
  • Pack a Bag for Mr.K for swimming lessons this week
  • Assist Miss.J. with applying for college#2 as I believe it's important to start early. 
  • Complete Volunteer Application for Background Check 

  • Go to work, it's been a challenge this week with health issues.
  • Prepare Clothing in advance. 
  • Bring in a Coffee Cup & Cold Beverage Cup to keep in desk.
  • Remember to turn in Doctors Note
  • Pack a change of clothing
  • Get a locker

  • 5 Blog Post
  • Update Freelance Writing Profile

  • Organize my son's dresser . Since I began work things have gotten all mixed up.
  • Prepare and Lay out Son's School Clothes
  • Reorganize the laundry room
  • Reorganize the pantry
  • Begin a Menu/Grocery list for grocery shopping next week.
  • Vacuum bedroom
  • Wash blankets/Linens from the weekend. 


  • Pay Monthly Rent
  • $5 for Miss.J. plus snack $
  • Plan debt repayment for a particular loan
  • Write checks for a loan payment and daughter's end of the month payment for school trip. Both to be paid at the end of the month. Address, Stamp and label envelopes. 
  • Update family calendar with new monthly bills and due dates.
  • Call the financial service through work to create an online account to begin 401K Plan with the company and stock purchase options.

  • Make a dinner reservation for Miss.J for Graduation. It may be too early but it's worth a try.


  • Complete my first mug rug.handsewn as I don't use a sewing machine at this time. I sure hope it turns out cute.
  • Enter 50 Sweepstakes/Giveaways
Of course regular housework, errands, laundry and mom taxi services will be completed yetnit on an aactual planned list . hopefully I'll get the extras complete and have time for some hobbies too.

So, there is my first planned weekly goal. I'm not sure if this list us weak or overdoing it. I'mlleaning towards weak . However,  with the past weeks health issues plus a full time work schedule it's hard to estimate. So we will see. What are you doing this week?

Thank you to the blog Moms Plans dot com for the inspiration! 

Stuffed Pizza Chicken Breast

Our family's personal chef (aka Dad) created a touchdown of a meal this week!  Yay, score Dad! He had the idea to make a low carb stuffed chicken dish.

Our shopping list included:

Boneless skinless chicken breast
Mozzarella cheese
Sliced peperoni
Pizza sauce

To prepare to stuff the chicken,  he gathered the necessary tools including a cutting board, knives, Deep pan for the oven, olive oil to coat the pan and seasoning for the chicken. He prepared the chicken by washing it off.

First, he placed the chicken on the cutting board. He sliced the chicken through the middle creating a pocket to stuff. He made sure to keep the chicken attached to where both the top and the bottom were still attached to one and another. Next, he stuffed the chicken with the mozzarella cheese and peperoni.  After each chicken breast was stuffed,  he sprinkled Ranch seasoning (The Hidden Valley Ranch packet) onto the chicken. The chicken was then baked at 375'  for an hour. ( Be sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked) The last 5-10 minutes,  he added pizza sauce to each breast and then a slice of mozzarella cheese. Once the cheese was melted, the chicken was ready. It smelled so good.

We served the ranch pizza chicken with a salad.

It was a delicious pizza tasting protein dish. We are planning to recreate the chicken with adding mushrooms and a variety of other vegetables. This was an excellent meal . The protein made it filling. To keep it extra low carb, a low carb low sugar sauce could be used. We used a regular but not overly sugared brand of pizza sauce.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Craft and Holiday Swappers Where Are You?

I've really been enjoying playing on Instagram. Today,  I stumbled upon a few pictures associated with a sewing swap. The theme was strawberries. The craft projects were reallycute.

It reminded me of happier days before making our cross country move.We lived in the country and I loved the environment. This time two or three years ago,  I participated in a Holiday Swap with a fellow crafter. We exchanged holiday and craft goodies.I even sent adorable little socks for her infant and a few items for her little boy.I probably went overboard but it was really fun!

I'd like to join some holiday and craft swaps to enjoy making new pen pal friends and have fun . I'd love to learn of any such events that may be going on . swapping fun here I come!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ready To Clock Out Please

It has been an extremely challenging month for this return to work mom. I miss the days of SAHM  but I'm welcoming the weekly paycheck with open arms. I can definitely see great benefits of having a job outside of the home. I've been enjoying talking with new coworkers and clients. It's been interesting to learn about the company I'm working for . It's an interesting company with nice benefits. I can definitely see the potential of a career within the company.

 However, it's been extremely hard to get into the swing of being on a schedule. I've never been one to like being on a schedule designed by someone else. I'm by far not a morning person. I have struggled with health related issues that cause fatigue. The Morning routine has been rough at best.I was hired on part time but the training period has been full time. It has been hard not to be accessible to my family. My home has suffered a bit with my time being so scarce. When I come home from work, it's homework and dinner time, time to put on my taxi driver hat, cooking and cleaning await.  I have been exhausted, plagued by headaches, lightheaded, stressed, and experiencing panic attacks. My health has issues and stress pushes the envelope. I haven't even been able to exercise over the past month. I was swimming 4 to 5 days each week. My body feels the change and it isn't helping my need to lose weight.

Anyway I have been having a rough time returning to work after a long spell as a SAHM, even though I did work from home. I am still available for creating Crafts, confetti, banners and similar with my Cricut Machine and Freelance writing, reviews,  and virtual assistant assignments. In some ways I'm thinking that working full time from home is a pretty good idea. So, one of the reasons I returned to work besides income and debt pay down was ti secure health insurance. Unfortunately,  I learned that the company that I work for no longer offers insurance for part time employees. This week, I complete my training and my schedule will (Thank goodness) be reduced to full time status. Although I have the ability to work full time, my status will be part time without the possibility of health insurance. I'm happy to only work there part time as with a young child and health issues, part time works best . However, I'm disappointed to learn that due ti governmental health coverage options aka Obama Care, part time employees no longer quality for health insurance. This defeats the purpose of taking a "real" job. I fee l stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Of course with additional stress and worry, My health issues have flared up including headaches, stressed, panic attacks and lady reproductive issues, thanks a lot job.

At least I can look forward to hopefully adding to the pantry, debt paydown and holiday health.