Sunday, September 30, 2007

Car Woes

In 2001 I got fanatical about getting out of debt. We sold our new truck that I absolutely loved, because the payment was $587 monthly. It was stupid for us to buy the thing anyway, but because we got a deal through my husband's employer our good sense flew out the window. I got that feeling when the loan manager told us what the payment would be. You know the feeling one gets when they know they're doing something wrong and stupid. At that point, it was very hard to walk away from the deal plus, the new car bug consumed me. After selling the truck, I drove a 1991 Eagle Talon(an extra paid for car we had at the time). One day the timing belt broke and did serious damage to the engine. It was too costly to fix, so what did we do? Financed a new used car that we didn't have the money for. That car was $16,000 and after looking over the paperwork today I noticed we put down $1500! I could have paid cash for another car with that. Two years ago, my husband got a better paying job and wanted a new used truck. Because he was working so hard(about 60hrs/wk), I agreed to it. This year he wanted a used Z06 Vette. I gave in again. You know that feeling? It rushed over me, again. Some people never learn. We have since sold the Vette...much to my husband's dismay. The moral of this story is we are never going to get ahead owing a bunch of money on cars. We have one decent car payment(oxymoron)now(the truck) that I want to pay off in 24 months. I know we can do it with a little self discipline and hard work. I'll save those topics for another day!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Second Showing and Photography Practice

While outside this morning I notice my Coleus was blooming again! I bought two of these beauties in the spring for the planters outside my front door. As I had never planted these before, I did not know they would actually bloom. I just liked the color of the foliage and decided to give them a try. To my surprise in mid summer they bloomed and this week they bloomed again!

Look how big they have grown since spring! So, after reading these tips on photography
I thought I could give a few of them a try.

The idea for this pumpkin basket(which is really a planter) came from here. The miniature pumpkins were a gift and I thought they looked so sweet on my front step.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Better Budget

I've heard it said that a budget can be your friend. Well, I need a friend. Every month I write out the bills that I know are coming and their due date. On payday I send the bills that are due that next week. The problem is I always have an unexpected expenditure come up that was not in the budget. Therefore, I am always behind. I tried using Budget Simple and I think it would work, but I am more a paper and pencil kinda girl. After reading this at No Credit Needed I decided to give this method a try. My husband and I sat down tonight and did out budget for October in about five minutes. I realized very quickly I need to work some extra hours next month (bummer). We weren't able to fill anything in the savings category and Christmas is coming. We did base the budget on the lowest income we could expect, so I will hope for a better month than our worst. How do some of you budget? Any ideas? I am bound and determined to make a balanced budget. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pumpkin Bread

Since I went crazy and bought 8 cans of pumpkin at Aldi(.79 a can),
I started my fall baking with the best pumpkin bread recipe I've ever made.
Pumpkin Bread

2/3 c. shortening
2 2/3 c. sugar
4 eggs
1-lb can pumpkin
2/3c. water
3 1/3c. flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp.baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2/3 c. chopped pecans/walnuts
1 c. raisins(opt.)

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time. Add pumpkin and water. Blend in dry sifted ingredients. Stir in nuts and raisins gently. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. This makes two 9x5 loaves.
Tip: After greasing the pans then sugar them as you would if you were flouring the pan. This makes the crust of the bread even more yummy!

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Can See Clearly Now

The old adage "out of sight out of mind" holds true in my kitchen

when it comes to containers. Juice made in colored containers goes

bad before it gets used because my family can't see what's in there.

Bags of beans lay unused in the bottom of my cupboard because

frankly, I forget about them. So, my solution is to make a gradual

change to clear containers. I picked these up in one shopping trip

to the thrift store. Glass is my first choice for storing dry goods.

But these clear Rubbermaid containers will work great for liquids.

I made OJ in one of them and my husband actually drank two glasses

one evening. So my theory that if it can be seen it will be consumed

is already proving true. Also, check out the clever uses for glass

containers at thehomespunheart.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pickin' up Pine Cones

Pine cones on the ground means fall is in the air. The pine cone is so natural and so pretty. I have some of the biggest pine cones in my attic. Ones I painted silver for Christmas years ago. I picked them up on the side of the road on my MIL's street. A few days ago, while in Wallyworld looking for candles, I noticed they had bags of pine cones for sale for $3.97. It never dawned on me pine cones were a consumer good. So I came home and searched the net. Sure enough, any type and size of pine cone one could want is available online. Now mind you I wanted pine cones to fill this basket, but a short walk to a pine tree in my neighborhood resulted in an overflowing bounty of free pine cones. Everyday since then my 3 year old asks "Mommy, are we going to pick up more pine cones today?" I think we made a memory.
Tip: Add a few drops of essential oil to your pine cones and place in a storage bag for a few days. Place them in baskets and/or bowls around your house for a fragrant treat.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not So Thrifty Secondhand Finds

I love to find good deals at thrift stores. I found these candleholders for a very nice price. The large one was 1.99 and the two round ones were .99 a piece. Great deal, right? Only if I didn't need to buy the candles for them! $26 later, my $4 deal turned into $30.00. I looked for the cheapest candles that I could find too. The dollar store didn't have the sizes or colors I needed so Walmart was my next option. At those prices, I don't want to light them! I guess that way they will last a long time. Mental note to self....don't buy pretty candle holders unless you have the extra dough to fork out for the candles to fill them. Or, I could learn to make my own candles!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Freecycle Finds

I have only recieved two items from freecycle. The first was a burn barrel. The second, this Coleman gas grill! Out last grill was a freebie from out neighbors, but after years of use it caught fire one day and I was scared to ever use it again; so I gave it away on freecycle. As it turned out, the gentleman who was giving this grill away only lived a few neighborhoods from mine. I was too excited to wait for my husband to get home (he has a truck), so I called a friend to go with me to pick it up since it was a man giving it away. Well, good thing I took her and her teenage son because the thing was REALLY heavy and it didn't fit well in the back of my SUV. Determined to get this grill home, we tied the back door closed and her son had to hold it to keep it from falling out. We drove home about 10mph to prevent it from busting out my back glass. The saying "you might be a redneck if" kept coming to mind while we trying to get it in my vehicle. Oh well, I have a new used gas grill!