Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Future Expenses Printable for Household Budget/Management Binder

My Household Budget/Management Binder (view here) is something I use every day (sometimes multiple times a day).  It keeps our current expenses and any information we need to keep at our finger tips nicely organized.  However, it lacked a place for future expenses.  As the summer has flown by, I feel like every day I have another future purchase to remember for the start of school.  I decided to make a future expense page for the binder to help me remember where our money needs to go in the upcoming months.  Now, when I sit down to budget I already have a list of "extra" expenses for the new month.  It is just another way to keep surprise expenses from...well, surprising me!

As expenses pop into my head, I write them down for the correct month along with how much I think they will cost.  For example, August has "school supplies" "school clothes" with the amount of money I plan to spend.

Feel free to print and use.  :)

Elizabeth

** After clicking (click here to print), you will be sent to a Google Doc page.  From there select "file", then select "download".  The image will download to your computer and then you can print from there.








Monday, July 29, 2013

A Wonderful Weekend Away

Last weekend, we took the kids to one of their most favorite places...Koyote Ranch.  It is located near Medina, Texas.  It is a small resort for RV's and travel trailers.  However, it also has the cutest log cabins.    The kids just love sleeping in the cabins.  We kept the mini trip a secret until two days prior to leaving.  I hid clues (the letters to spell Koyote Ranch) around the house for two days.  The kids had a great time finding the letters and trying to figure out where we were going.  My oldest made it a point to tell me that next time I need to give the letters in order - not mixed up.  I told him that takes all of the fun out of it for me! :)

The resort has two small fishing ponds, a recreational hall, a restaurant called The Mercantile (best fish fry on Friday nights) and a beautiful infinity pool.  Here are a few pictures from our weekend (the fishing was their favorite part).

** Typically, I would have my camera with me at all times, capturing every moment.  But for some reason on this trip I decided not to take it along.  Now, looking back I wish I had grabbed it.  Oh well...

Love them so much

Getting ready to fish outside Pappy's travel trailer

Heading to the pond after waiting alllll day

Not far behind

"Hey boys, don't forget me!"
(My mom made her a make-shift tackle box from a casserole carrier, so she wouldn't feel left out.)

Getting the bait ready



I wish I knew what she was saying in this picture.

So serious... :)

He does have patience!!!! :)

I just love every part of this picture.

Pappy, Daddy, and the two boys

So handsome

Beautiful evening sky


This is my favorite picture from the weekend.  The kids decided to eat breakfast together on the balcony of our cabin.

It was so nice to get out of town.  We had a great time and the kids will talk about it for months!

Elizabeth

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Cup, A Cup Cake (from Steele Magnolias)

I don't think I have ever explained where the name of my blog came from.  I LOVE the movie, Steele Magnolias.  Actually, the word "love" is not strong enough.  It is by far my most favorite movie.  I think I know every line and could act out any scene at the drop of a hat.  I thought the words, "a cup, a cup" would be great for a blog title because there are so many "cups" to life.  Also, the movie always gives me warm fuzzy feelings about the important women in my life.

I have been wanting to make the "A Cup, A Cup Cake" for quite some time.  Some people say, "Cuppa, Cuppa Cake" but that is not how I hear it.  The cake recipe comes from the beauty shop scene when Shelby is getting her hair done for her wedding.  Truvie recites the recipe out loud: "A cup of flour, a cup of sugar, a cup of fruit cocktail (with the juice), then you bake til gold and bubbly."  

So, I decided to give it a try.  I will admit, I have never made a cake that did not contain a single egg or butter.  I had such a good time repeating the movie lines while I was making the cake.  I will say, it has an odd texture (I think because it doesn't have any eggs or butter) but was really good with cool whip!  Everything is better with cool whip!

There is no reason to re-type the recipe, just recite the movie lines. :)  I baked the cake at 350 degrees for what seemed like forever.  It took 40 minutes for this tiny cake to bake!  I think I cracked the oven door and peaked in at least 10 times.  :)



Here's to the title of my blog and the best movie EVER!

Elizabeth

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

To Yoga Pant or Not to Yoga Pant...?

To yoga pant or not to yoga pant?  This is a question that pops in my mind every morning.  I LOVE my yoga pants.  I probably own more pairs than one woman should admit, but they are so wonderful.  I can exercise in them, sleep in them, lounge in them (if I knew what lounging actually was), get groceries, make crafts, organize my house, the list is absolutely endless.  Most importantly, they make me feel loved when I am having a fat day! :)  They are so forgiving, never making my waistline feel as if it has expanded an inch or five. :)  They are my friend... Okay, that may be going a bit far but you have to admit you will love anything that makes you feel better on a fat day!

But here is my question, when are they really appropriate to wear in public?  I love What Not To Wear and I am pretty sure Clinton and Stacy would not approve unless I was physically in a gym.  However, there are just days I can't resist.  I think they actually call my name. :)  I can justify just about any reason to wear them.  For example, yesterday my kids had swim lessons in the morning and tae kwon do in the afternoon.  I knew I should probably put on a nice pair of shorts but...then again, I would just be sitting in the heat at swim lessons.  So, this is how I justified wearing them.  I told myself, "If I put on full make-up and a nice ponytail, add a dressier t-shirt (which is code for a vintage tee from Old Navy) then my yoga pants will be completely appropriate".  Can you believe I went through that entire process just for yoga pants?  Oh yes, and if I wear a pair that is not faded then I am really dressed up! :)

The downfall comes when I see other moms looking super cute and well accessorized.  Then I begin to feel like I didn't put much effort into my look.  A couple of weeks ago. I tried every morning to do complete hair and make-up (as opposed to the half make-up and ponytail look).  Let me tell ya, I looked good and felt great about myself but man was it a lot of work!  Plus, I was confused as to what I was suppose to be wearing when we were not out and about.  Was I suppose to keep the nice clothes on while I did my housework and cooked dinner?  Was I suppose to just change back into my yoga pants until we needed to leave the house again?  It was just too much!  I SHOULD HAVE JUST PUT THEM ON IN THE FIRST PLACE!  Hey, at least they are not "mom jeans"!  I know better than that.

 I would love to hear your view about yoga pants.  Do you always look nice when you are out of the house or do you let things slide?  Do you justify your yoga pants with good hair and make-up?  

**If anyone would like to nominate me for What Not to Wear I would be more than happy to go to New York for one week (by myself) and be forced to spend $5,000.  I promise I would not buy one pair of yoga pants! 

Elizabeth

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

10 Important Time Saving Tips (from a mom who likes to manage time a little too much) :)



Let's face it, if you are a mom your life is crazy busy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  It doesn't matter if you work outside of the home or work from home, YOU'RE A MOM!  I can say that because I have done both.  I taught high school dance for ten years and now I am a stay-at-home mom.  Both jobs are busy and exhausting.  I have always felt that one of my strong points is time management.  I think that is due to my drill team background.  Nothing teaches you time management like drill/dance team! :)  I thought I would share some of my favorite things for managing time in my life and household.

1.  Kitchen Command Center - The kitchen command center is home to my trusty dry erase calendar.  EVERYTHING that is happening in our family must be on the calendar.  My husband even knows to check the calendar! :)  It is also duplicated with the calender I keep in my purse.  I am in the process of making a Kids' Command Center before school begins.

2.  Household Management Binder (view here) -  EVERY cent of our monthly income is budgeted and logged into this binder.  The binder also contains cash envelopes, important dates, upcoming home projects, user names and passwords, etc.  This keeps everything house related in one place.

3.  Mom's Journal - I keep one journal or notepad on our kitchen counter.  In this journal are my daily "to do lists", important notes, etc.  I use the same journal until every page has been filled.  This helps from the endless sticky notes that use to be cluttered around my house.  Also, it takes several months to fill a journal.  If I need to remember something from a month ago I know I can find it in my journal.  It really helps to keep everything in one location.

4.  Backwards Time Management - What is that???  This is something very simple and I have used it since my eight year old was born.  If we have to be somewhere by a certain time (let's say 9am) then I count backwards.  How long will it take to get there (taking traffic into consideration)?  How long will it take to load the kids and everything in the car?  How long will it take to get everyone dressed and served breakfast?  How long will it take me to get myself showered and dressed?  As I answer each of these questions, I subtract that time from our arrival time.  This lets me know exactly what time I need to wake up and get everyone moving.  It works without fail 99.999% of the time. :)

5.  60 Minute Speed Clean - I have recently added this to our home and boy has it made a world of difference.  I set the timer for 60 minutes and clean like crazy.  I do this Monday-Saturday.  In my opinion, God does not want us to clean on Sunday! :)  That means I am cleaning my house 7 hours a week!!!  I can guarantee that before I started this system my house was not getting 7 hours of attention.

6.  Laundry is a Must - Ugh...I hate it but it is a necessary evil.  I have to do 2-3 loads of laundry per day or I will never stay caught up.  And, yes I was able to do this when I was teaching.  It wasn't easy but I got it done.  Again, Sunday's are excused!

7.  Monthly Menu and Grocery List (view here) - This one is crucial for time management and budgeting.  About two days before the start of a new month, I sit down with my laptop, cookbooks, calendar, and kitchen management binder.  I make a menu for the entire month.  I make sure that our daily activities match what is planned for dinner.  If we have several things going on then it is not a good day to make lasagna from scratch (we would probably have frozen pizza).  I also keep a grocery list template ready at all times.  Throughout the week, I add to the list.  The night before I go shopping, I reference my menu and finish the list.

8.  Groceries During the Week - I always shop for groceries on Thursday or Friday night.  It is not exactly the "coolest" thing to do on a Friday night but you would be amazed at how much time you save.  Nobody is there!

9.  Stair Basket - I keep a large basket at the bottom of our stairs.  At least once a day I grab the basket and dash through the house picking up odds and ends.  Then I take a few minutes to put everything in its proper place and take the basket back to the bottom of the stairs.

10.  High Fives - My kids know their morning and evening routines by heart.  They know they are not allowed to do anything else until the routines have been completed.  I recently re-named the routines, High Fives, after reading a great blog post last week (view here).  It has put a fresh spin on things and the kids are getting their routines done in record time.  This is teaching them time management.  If they want to watch cartoons or play they need to get their High Fives done quickly.

Our home does not run this smoothly every day but for the most part it is a well-oiled machine.  I have learned that I am a much happier person when my life feels somewhat organized.  I would love to hear if you have any time management tips.  I am sure there is something I could do more efficiently.

Elizabeth

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Good Morning, High Five!!!

With a new school year fast approaching, I am ready to get our morning / bedtime routines back on track.  We have definitely gotten a bit lazy this summer.  Out of our three children, only one is a morning person.  He bounds out of bed with energy, a good mood, and loves to cuddle.  The other two... let's just say it is best not to make eye contact or speak to them before 9am.  However, because they have a hard time getting motivated in the morning I have to constantly stay on top of them to make sure they eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, etc.

 Every year I try different routine lists.  I post them in the bathroom, at the kitchen table, on bedroom doors, etc.  They work to a point but I still sound like a broken record, constantly nagging at the "other two".  I say that in the most loving way, of course. :)  I was excited to stumble across a fresh idea to the dreaded routine list.  Erin over at  Home with The Boys, put a refreshing spin on this much needed part of our morning and evening routine.  She calls the list, The High Five.  Her kids know what five things they need to accomplish before they can have free time.  Once, they have completed the five tasks they get to slap a hand print ( a real high five).  I approached my kids with this idea and they seemed amused at the thought of slapping the wall once their tasks are finished.  We still have a good six weeks before school starts which will allow me to work out the loopholes my children may come up with.  They are very creative... :).

This is what we came up with:

Morning
Prayers
Brush Teeth
Eat Breakfast
Get Dressed
Make Bed

Evening
Clean up toys
Take Shower/Bath
Brush Teeth
Pick out clothes for next day
Prayers


(I had each child give the bedroom door an official high five so we would know exactly where to tape the handprints.)

(This one belongs to our youngest son.  He is learning to read so I wrote A.M with a sun and P.M. with stars and a moon.  For our daughter I just did the sun and moon.  For our oldest child, I only wrote A.M. and P.M.)

I am going to put this plan into place tonight.  I will give it a few weeks and then give an update.

Elizabeth



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Burlap Curtains (No Sewing Required)

***This post has been featured on Living Well Spending Less.  Stop by this wonderful site to view other great ideas from the Thrifty Thursday Link Party!

My husband and I are currently updating our kitchen.  He has been sanding, painting, sanding, painting, sanding, painting (okay, you get the picture) every night after work until midnight or later.  He is seriously a work horse.  Where he gets the energy is beyond me!  My job has been been analyzing and re-analyzing exactly how I want to decorate the kitchen.

 Last week, I made a curtain for the window and then this week I decided I didn't like it.  It just wasn't right but I couldn't figure out exactly what I didn't like about it.  My mom suggested using burlap since we made a fun coffee bar and used burlap with it ( I will post pics of the coffee bar later).  I searched Pinterest this morning for ideas and found about 200!  It was one of those moments where I couldn't find the bottom of the Pinterest page.  Before I knew it, I had been looking at burlap curtains for over 30 minutes.  Overall, I decided it looked easy and inexpensive.  So I loaded up the three kiddos and headed to Hobby Lobby.  I found a great burlap with black fleur de leis accents.  I used the 40% off coupon which made the two yards a little over $7.00.  I also picked up a roll of Stitch Witchery to make sure sewing would not be needed.  By the way, two yards was more than enough.  I can use the extra burlap for  projects, gifts, crafts etc.

DIY No Sew Burlap Curtains

Step 1:  Gather supplies (burlap, straight pins, scissors, Stitch Witchery)


Step 2:  Lay fabric out over a large surface.  Measure fabric and determine if you want one or two panels.  I decided to go with two panels so I can open the curtains from the center.  I did not make the panels full because I did not want the gathered look at the top.  I wanted it to fit the window almost exact.

Step 3:  If you are using two panels, measure and cut down the center.  Then decide how big you want the fold at the top (where you will put the rod).  


Step 4:  After making your large fold, also fold under the bottom edge.  Secure everything with straight pins.  The tiny green dot above my finger shows the straight pin.  I pinned every few inches.

Step 5:  Run the Stitch Witchery under the bottom of the fold (you should not be able to see it).  This is where you want the fabric to adhere to itself, making a hem.


Step 6:  Fill your iron with water and place on the "wool" setting.  Press the iron over the fabric and Stitch Witchery.  Do not slide the iron across the fabric, only press and release.  I also folded the bottom of the curtain to create a bottom hem and used Stitch Witchery to adhere it.  This made a nice finish on the top and bottom of the curtain.


Step 7:  Pull a couple of rows of string out of the burlap.  This will keep the unfinished edges from fraying.  You could run a hem around all four edges if you wanted to.  I decided to go this route, it was faster and I like the look of it.


Step 8:  Using a tension rod, hang the curtain in the desired position.
(please don't judge the water spots in my sink :) )

I love how the large weave of the burlap allows a lot of light to come through but there is still some privacy.  It took about 30 minutes and less than $10, I call that a success!

Elizabeth











Monday, July 8, 2013

Kitchen Management Binder with Free Printables

A couple months ago I posted my Household Management Binder (click here to view).  It has worked out so well that I decided to make a Kitchen Management Binder.  I love to swap recipes with my mom, family, and friends.  After years of exchanging, I have accumulated a lot of really great dishes.  In the past, I have shoved them into a binder but really never took the time to get organized.  When I first started to plan this binder, I had several categories but the more I thought about it, organizing is best when it is easy.  So, I cut the binder down to five main categories:
  • Starters / Snacks
  • Breakfast / Brunch
  • Main Dishes
  • Side Dishes
  • Desserts
At the front of the binder, I decided to add my monthly meal menu and grocery list.  I love having everything together!



"Kitchen Management Binder"
(This font is really hard to see in a picture but looks great in person.)

Each section has it's own tab.

This is how I organize my monthly menu.  I list the date, activity or appointments for that date, breakfast/lunch, dinner, extras.  I create a new menu for each month.  This helps make my grocery list and keep us on budget.

This is the grocery list I use each week.  It is broken down by category.  I found this grocery list at Organizing Home Life.  She has a lot of great ideas and was my  main inspiration for my home management binder.

Each section has a title page.  I originally had different dividers but the page protectors covered the tabs.  I had to cut the tabs (above) off the the dividers and then attach them to the page protectors.  This was a bit annoying but what is the point of having a tab if it is covered?

I wasn't sure what to do with the recipes that are on cards.  I decided to sort them by category and then place in a zip top baggie.  I punched holes in the bag and secured it inside the binder.

I have included the category sheets (printables) if you would like to print them for yourself.


* After clicking (click here to print...), you will be sent to a Google Doc page.  From there select "file", then select "download".  The image will download to your computer and then you can print from there.

There appear to be huge gaps between each printable.  This is due to the background color being white.  When you print the page it will fit 8.5X11 paper.  Also, the font is hard to read on the screen but looks great on paper.
















I hope you found this useful.  :)  Happy organizing!

Elizabeth










Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy 4th of July!!!

Happy 4th of July!!!  This day happens to be my oldest son's favorite holiday.  He LOVES it and everything about it.  All day long he talks about how amazing it is to live in America.  Yesterday, he asked me how other countries celebrate the Fourth of July.  I told him we were the only country since it is the day we gained independence.  He was shocked!  He couldnt' fathom that other countries ignore this amazing day.  It was such a cute moment.

For the past five years, we have celebrated at the Texas State Aquarium.  It is the best view for the fireworks in our town.  They shoot them off the U.S.S. Lexington on the bay; it is gorgeous!  We always pack snacks, a blanket, glow sticks, and a soccer ball.  The kids have a blast running around until the fireworks begin.  I sit and take pictures the entire time (which makes me very happy).

The funniest part of the fireworks is watching my husband.  When we get to the aquarium, he drives around the parking lot trying to determine and plot which parking space will allow us to get out the fastest.  We ALWAYS back into the spot, this shortens the end time of having to back out of the space... :).  Then we make our way to our picnic spot.  I can always sense that he is worrying about how far we are from the car.  It is always a pretty good distance since we sit on the grounds of the aquarium but we have to park at the far end of the lot because this gets us out the fastest.  Let's not forget our main goal of the fireworks (how fast can we get out of the parking lot).

About five minutes before the fireworks begin we organize and repack our things.  The only item left out is the blanket (thank goodness).  This year he actually suggested that we take everything back to the car and then sit in the grass for the fireworks.  I think he realized I was not going to go for that.  Once the last firework was mid air he clapped his hands twice and hopped to his feet.  He was literally picking up the blanket while the children were still on it.  I thought to myself I had better move fast or I may get left behind.  I frantically threw our camera bag on my back, picked up my large bag, grabbed our soft-sided cooler and two hands (thank goodness they were the hands of my children).  My husband rolled up the blanket (I counted three kids so I knew everyone made it out of the blanket) and swooped up our daughter.  Off we went, we were flying.  You really aren't suppose to run so we were doing that awkward walk almost run thing.  It is embarrassing and hysterical to watch when you are behind my husband who is 6'2" and not petite.  At this point, I realized that the soft-sided cooler was hanging around my neck swinging back and forth.  Don't forget, there is a major goal at the end of all this...  I think I actually saw people laughing at us or maybe they were in awe of our "sleek system".  I am going to go with the second option.

Well, we made it to the car in record time but then got caught in major traffic due to the road closures.  Oh well, it makes for great memories.  He actually told me that the rush to the car is his favorite part.  Oh my...

Here are some pictures from our evening.  No, there aren't any from the rush to the car.  I would have lost a kid if I had taken the time to take a picture.

Such a peaceful picture. :)

Our oldest son loves to take our picture.  

This is how my husband played soccer with our main monkey hanging off his back.

I was quite impressed with her skills...my dreams of ballet may be gone. 

She loves her strawberries!

Any time I ask to take his picture I get something like this,

or this...
(He really is quite handsome)

Out of the three, one child understands how happy I get when they give me a good picture.  He is getting so old!

G.Q. pose!

We don't have pictures of the fireworks.  If you remember, we have to pack everything up before they begin.  :)

Happy 4th!
Elizabeth

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Little Glimpse of Progress Goes A Long Way

As I have mentioned before, my oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD, General Anxiety Disorder, and Impulse Control Disorder.  He was also born with CHD (Congenital Heart Disease) and underwent three heart surgeries within the first 21 months of his life.  He has definitely had his share of obstacles to overcome.  Things that are easy and often taken for granted by other kids and parents are major milestones (and areas of stress) for our family.  This is because on the outside he appears to look like an average, healthy child.  However, his brain and emotions function on a completely different level.  This makes life very difficult.  When you see someone in a wheelchair, you do not expect them to get up and run.  However, when you see someone with ADHD, ICD, anxiety, or many other mental / emotional disorders, they don't look any different; therefore, most people have a hard time changing their expectations.

Something as simple as going to camp would seem fun and exciting to most children.  However, for our family it is filled with stress, anxiety, and the endless hours of waiting for a phone call to pick him up.  I do not sign my kids up for every available camp just so I can get some "me time".  Camps to me equal stress and anxiety of my own.  I have been called countless times to come pick up my son because of his behavior.  It took me a long time to realize that the organized chaos and noise level at most camps is just too much for him.  Last summer I told myself we were not going to do any more camps.  However, when both of my boys caught wind of this "awesome samurai camp" (held at their martial arts school) they begged me to sign them up.  My husband and I discussed all of the "what if's" but when it came down to it we knew they were super excited and decided to take the plunge.  We thought that maybe since it was at their martial arts school and they knew all of the instructors maybe that would make things easier.  Besides, both boys deserve to give it a try.  You never know, this may be the camp that is enjoyable and fun.  I would hate to deny that to either one them.

So, yesterday was the first day...  They were both very excited when I dropped them off.  My husband and I went over our strategy in case one of us got "the call".  We went the entire day without any phone calls!  In fact, the couple of times I received calls from telemarketers I had minor heart attacks.  When I picked them up I got a not so great report about our oldest.  Long story short, he had a lot of anxiety about being separated from his little brother (divided by age groups) which he displayed as acting out.  Ugh....here we go again, I thought.  All of my emotions from the previous school year came flooding back.  So badly, I wish he could just go with the flow and enjoy life.  So badly, I wish I knew what it felt like to drop off my child and feel confident that he will have a great day.  If that were the case, I may actually makes plans with my girlfriends or enjoy some of that much needed "me time".  But no, I will glue my home phone and cell phone to my body.  I even take them into the bathroom (sorry, is that too much info).  

My husband and I discussed if we should even attempt going back for the rest of the week.  Today's schedule also included a field trip to go roller skating, of all things!  I am sure that sounds like fun for most but to me it sounded like throwing my child into a pit of hungry wolves.  All I pictured was him standing in the middle of the rink, loud music, blaring lights, kids bumping into him, and his emotions running out of control.  I prayed and prayed about it last night.  At one point, I told God that I didn't even know what to pray anymore.  I just want my son to be able to enjoy life like other children.

To be honest, the ADHD and anxiety has been much harder to deal with than the heart disease.  I am sure that sounds strange.  With heart disease, the surgeons and cardiologists gave us a clear path and plan that we needed to follow.  I felt like we had an instruction manual.  But, ADHD...anxiety...NO MANUAL, NOT A CLEAR PATH IN SIGHT.  As a parent, you constantly feel lost.

As I drove to the school (to pick them up) my hands began to get sweaty and the nervous stomach was kicking in.  I wasn't sure what kind of report I would get.  However... when I walked in I got a glowing, superb  report.  He did it!  He made it through the second day of camp.  He apologized to the instructors for his behavior the day before.  He gave rollerskating a great try.  His instructor even told me he got a bit frustrated but he never gave up.  He did it!!!  It is a tiny glimpse of progress like today that will keep us going for a long time.  He did it and we are so proud of him!

We always knew he is capable but now he got to see it for himself.  Tomorrow is pajama day and they are not taking a field trip.  Thank goodness!

**We always thank God for trusting us with him.  He (God) must really believe in us! :)

Elizabeth