Monday, June 23, 2008


water lilies--sooooo pretty!
Closeup of one of the blooms.

It has actually been a pretty quiet and uneventful day. That's good. Everyone can use those kinds of days.

I was tempted to run to the west end of Wichita today to hit a used bookstore, but instead I stayed home and worked on the house. I can't say that I have gotten a huge amount done, but I am working towards getting some of the little things picked up and paper clutter tossed. I have noticed that paper tends to accumulate in our house, whether it be old cash register receipts, mail or even magazines and newspapers. I really need to come up with a better system for that.

I took a water gardening class at the public gardens here in Wichita on Sunday and really had a good time. I have a small one that we assembled sitting on the patio downstairs, but I am contemplating building a larger on that will accommodate a couple goldfish. I will look around town Saturday to see what options we have. I would love to have one situated where we can see it from the upstairs patio. I'll price liners and other things this weekend since that is when I am planning to do any errands I have. I am going to try to build this myself inexpensively. We got several really nice plant starts and a couple potted water plants in the water gardening class, so there is some $ saved. The instructor even gave us some water lilies, if we wanted them. This type gets REALLY large, so I will probably use one of the starts and take the rest to Oklahoma for my mom in law's pond--if she wants them. I am really looking forward to this. When I lived in Tulsa, my oldest son and I would go to the public gardens at Woodward park and spend the day. He was quite young and love getting a peek at the little goldfish as they went from plant to plant. The public gardens her in Wichita (Botanica) have huge water gardens with koi and bass in them. I love going there and feeding the fish. One day I am just going to bring a lunch and sit and knit the whole day. It's have to be in the early Fall though. I am not a heat loving girl...

With gas just at the edge of $4 a gallon for the lowest grade here in Wichita, I am cutting completely back on both my spending and any running that will eat gas. My reaction to the high gas prices has been to drop out of the consumer market as much as possible. Starting July 1, that will increase even more as I start my two months on "Mama's on the Compact".

My biggest goal this summer is to find things that focus on stying home, whether that be finally using the outdoor fireplace and making a seating area to enjoy it from, to getting my house decorated and organized with things we have. Some of the redecorating may involve an outlay of money when I buy fabric to reupholster or paint to spiff up stuff, but I think these will be tempered against the final result. I will be careful and I will use coupon for $ off on these things whenever possible.

Plans for tonight:

Make brownies for snacking . I bought the Duncan Hines mixes when they were on sale for $1 a box--actually they were advertised as 10 for $10--but when they are $1 a box, I'm buying a whole lot of them for times I am craving them but not wanting to make them from scratch. And let's face it, these are really good!

Gain a few inches on a pair of mittens I'm knitting for one of my boys.

Get books that I tore out while organizing actually organized. Or at least put in the correct place.

Good coffee and great friends to you and yours.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Budget busting..

Let's just say that this has not been the best day for the budget. But everything I bought will be needed, with the exception of a $12 book. I did use a 50% off coupon to get it at that price, but it might have been an impulse....

I am knitting a pair of colorwork mittens for one of my sons and discovered that I REALLY needed a larger set of needles to get gauge. The suggested needle size, which I have in my stash, resulted in a mitten that could double as a tourniquet. Since the outlay of time is going to be significant on these mittens, I really had to have a larger double pointed needle. I did use my discount at the yarn shop and got 2 different sizes so I don't have to worry about going back and getting another set. Since I will be knitting a LOT of mittens for gifts this year, the new needles will get a lot of use. I am classifying them as a need.

I also got some flat nosed pliers at a jewelry supply place-finally. I have been scrimping by with another type and had come to the reality that it will actually allow me to do my jewelry and stitch markers much faster if I use the right equipment. I am selling these markers, so they have to be well made and made quickly to make them cost effective.

The book was more of an inspirational reference. I probably could have easily done without it, so I am counting that as an "OOPS". I am hoping I turn to it for design ideas enough to justify the $12 expense.

I need to stay home for the rest of the weekend. I do have a water gardening class that I am taking tomorrow, so I will have to be out and about. I need to use a little self control and not wander into stores.

I did find a really irritating fact about myself though: if I have a coupon, I feel compelled to use it. I have 2 more 50% off coupons to JoAnne's Crafts stores that expire tonight and they are really burning a hole in my pocket. Luckily cute man took the car to a baseball game, so I have no way to get there. Yes, we have another car in the drive, but I really don't like to drive it, so I'm safe on that.

My goal for the rest of the week and right up to payday is to be a little more disciplined in both the wallet and the food prep arena. Last night I should have made pizza from scratch but we ordered out. That is pretty sad since it takes no time when I use my KitchenAide mixer to knead the dough. The only crimp was that the block of cheese was frozen. In the future I will pre-shred 1 pound baggies of cheese to freeze so that I can remove what I need and it will be thawed out by the time the dough rises.

I did get to the studio to throw some pots today, but I didn't get much as far as quality. I have been a little off on my throwing and that is irritating me. I need to go in and learn to focus more. I have noticed when I don't focus, I don't get anything decent. Throwing pottery can be a lot like meditating sometimes. It is hard to quiet the monkey mind and focus. I'll be working towards that.

How has your budget been going this week? I do think the warm up to my July 1st starting date of "Mama's on the Compact" has been good for me. I realized today that, while not totally perfect, I have been making a lot of headway on actually making do, using up and buying used--or doing without. That's a big step for me.

Well, good coffee and great friends to you and yours!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Posting for dollars...

Actually the title of this post should be "posting to save $" since I made myself write this instead of continuing to surf Amazon. com. I have more than enough books to read, but I always find more that intrigues me. Not good!

I helped man the "Knit in Public" booth at a show today and I must toot my horn that I went there, stayed for 5 hours and just knitted on a project I brought with me. I did a little looking at a beadshop booth, but decided I probably have or can get the same beads cheaper. Somewhere in the garage is multiple strands of seed beads, just waiting to be used. So I had to give myself a pat for not buying ANYTHING.

That said, hubby and I did spring almost $30 for pizza out when we really could have made it at home for 1/4 the cost. Two steps forward, one step back. I need to make sure I keep some frozen pizza dough in the fridge with a couple pounds of shredded mozzarella cheese so I can get pizza made quickly. I had a block of mozzarella in the freezer, but contemplated the fact that it would take a little while to thaw, so from now on it gets shredded before we put it away.

Friday night, hubby wanted to run into Wal-Mart to pick up 2 things. Since I can't "just pick up 2 things" in that store, I opted to stay in the car and not get tempted. It actually worked well. I keep a good book in the car so I got to read further into the book and didn't spend any money.

Little steps, but progress anyway. I think by the end of the month I will have an easier time of sticking to the Compact. I have been pretty creative on finding what we need and really asking hard questions on whether something is a want or a need. If it is a want, not a need, I am working on not buying. I won't say I've been perfect, but I am working on it and being very conscious of the cash flow going out. It is quite a change for me, I must say. Usually if I see something I like, I just buy it. Now I try to find it used, or not get it at all. Again, I'm not perfect at it all the time, but I am working in that direction.

Now I just have to figure out a way to cut the auto gas bill.

I'd love to take the bus into Wichita, except there is no bus that runs into our town. There isn't even a place to park and ride like there is in Atlanta. I would love it if Wichita had a bus/train system like Atlanta. I know Atlanta is a bigger city, but they do have a good bus/train system and I felt completely safe using it. When I am visited my friend in Atlanta, we took the train from the park and ride terminal and the bus from there. It was surprisingly easy and well thought out. Maybe Wichita will work towards that.

It's all good.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Things I would love to do....

I have decided to do a master list of 13 things I want to do by the end of 2009. Some of them are little, some of them are big. I am giving myself the goal date of the end of 2009 since some of these things will require saving some $$$.

1. Get an Etsy shop up and running. Establish a business out of my art and crafts.

2. Go to Mexico with Marita.

3. Install a wood floor in the downstairs. Easier to keep clean....

4. Look into taking parts of the house off the grid. Even one or two rooms like the kitchen and master bedroom would be neat. Not sure about the costs though. This is going to require some research.

5. Get my house totally decorated. All rooms.

6. Get chickens. Will have to build a chicken coop and make a part of the yard "cat proof" in order to get this goal done...

7. Take a week long writing class at the Iowa Summer Writer's Festival. (It isn't in the budget this summer, but I am targeting next summer..)

8. Lose 60 lbs.

9. Start entertaining more at our house. Get monthly soup dinners started with friends.

10. Have the recommended 6 month emergency savings amount in the bank........this one will probably be the hardest of all since it will require constant monitoring and deciding whether to buy certain things or make do...

11. Totally purge the clutter.

12. Reconnect with my older sister. We really don't see each other or even know each other very well.

13. Knit a coat and sweater for me.

As I said, some are little and some are big. All will require that I focus and do a little research. I fully intend to look for green ways to do all these. The redecorating part will entail looking for furniture that can be restored at thrift shops and garage sales before investing in new (exceptions will be mattresses and anything that will bw slept on...I don't do used bedding, especially after seeing a mattress get reconditioned..).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sleepin' in...........

This weekend has been a total wash as far as any real activity. Hubby and I did some grocery shopping yesterday and today--I am trying to get groceries for the week in one trip since multiple trips to the store tend to result in more impulse purchases than we should indulge in.
Unfortunately last night we went to Dillion's after the fish counter had closed so I am going to have to make a trip out tomorrow at some point. We had thought the Wal-mart in Derby had a fish counter, but that was a bust. Just frozen pre-packaged fish. ARGGGG. I need some more shrimp for meals. I was thinking about going to Sam's in the morning but I spend entirely too much when I go in there.

It is so easy to tip the checkbook over the mark in Wal-Mart! I pretty good at getting only what we really needed, but there were two impulse purchases: A wall sconce for one of my jar candles and a large self feeding dog food dispenser. I had thought I had picked up a water dispenser but I guess I wasn't paying attention. I'll take it back tomorrow and get my money back if they don't have the water dispenser. The water dispenser is definitely needed. The wall sconce is an impulse, but it will make it a little easier to light my candles and not worry about them getting knocked over when they are on the counters.

The game plan tomorrow is to take the kids to weight training camp at the high school then we're going to go to a museum afterwards and spend a little time downtown exploring. We have lived here for 11 years and there are so many things we have not seen! This summer I am going to be a tourist in our town.

Saturday I am planning to go to the Farmer's market on the west side of town and get some fresh things to cook for the following week. I picked up herb plants when we were in Kansas City and I am going to get some planter boxes to put them in and position them on the patio so I can snip as needed when cooking. I am hoping to get some goodies baked for the upcoming week tomorrow. I've been really tired this week from being out of the house all day during the day, so not a lot has gotten accomplished. I need to focus on getting back on both a sleep schedule and a time schedule.

I picked up a book at JoAnne's Crafts today (using a 50% off coupon of course!) on do it yourself upholstery. I have a chair that I picked up for free that needs some work, along with my recovering my dining room chairs, this book will come in handy! I will look at upholstery fabric at some point and get the dining room chairs done first to give me a little confidence. I am looking forward to retrieving the chair I found on the curbside with other trash in Stillwater. It has great bones and I am confident it is going to be spectacular after I get the chair stripped and stained in a light golden maple color. I had to leave it in my mom's garage in Stillwater since I couldn't get it in the little car. When my van is finally fixed, I will be picking the chair up and get down to business. I am envisioning this chair in our bedroom as a perfect sit and knit/read chair. I will take before and after pics when I get this project started.

So the focus for the beginning of this upcoming week is going to be:

1. Bake a pound cake to send to child in Iowa and one for our freezer.

2. Make some no-bake cookies for son and for here.

3. Send the goodies to son.

4. Unload a couple more boxes from the living room and bedroom.

5. Paint the guest bedroom.

6. Work on some mittens I am knitting for one of the sons.

If I get that list knocked out, it will be good. I have a lot of things to do here at the house so it is time to focus my energies in that direction. I have a lot of blessings, time to put then forward and utilize them to make a home.

Spending for the day:

Books: total $30 (this is more than I probably should have spent..)
Groceries: $165 (I will work hard at not spending too much more on food this pay period. It will be interesting to see how long I can extend the budget with what we have right now)
Brunch out with friend: approx $30

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Long Week

This has not been my week to please people. I would seriously like to have a do-over on this past week, but with the knowledge of who I should avoid and why. It would definitely save me some mental anguish when someone gets bitchy for no good reason.

On the money front, I did spring for some yarn this weekend in preparation for a mittens class that I am taking at Twist in July. I am really excited about learning mittens so I can make a whole bunch between now and Christmas. I am hoping to start a couple gifts this week so I can get done by the time Christmas rolls around.

Tomorrow I am going to utilize one of the recipes I learned in the cooking class I took in Kansas City and teach the boys to make paella. Since one of the boys really dislikes shrimp, we will have to put some extra chicken in it. I had not bought olive oil in a while and found out it is considerably more expensive than I had anticipated. The cheapest bottle I could find was $7. But I guess a little goes a long way, so that is good.

I am going to sleep in tomorrow since I have had to be at the yarn shop more than normal and have missed out on a lot of sleep due to storms. I am exhausted and it didn't help that there were some things that happened that made a ripe situation for miscommunication. I am really hoping next week is better.

Money spent this week:

Yarn and needles: $36 (there will be enough for at least three pairs of mittens, so not a big expense-I just need to be careful not to do this again this month).

4 Books from book club: $40 (this probably could have been avoided, but they are books I have been wanting to read and $10 a book is a real bargain)

Magazine: $6

Groceries: $102 so far (I still have a little more to get tomorrow)

Gas for car: $30

Eating out $45

Total: $249 so far. I will need to really watch it for the rest of the week if I am going to hit my goal and save even more than last pay period. The rest of the week I am going to make every effort to stay off It is toooooooo easy to hit the BUY button. Especially when I've had a completely crappy week like I have had this week. I tend to stress eat and stress spend--and this has been a really stressful week.

I have decided that I am going to spend more of my free time at home getting it in order and actually making a home that is comfortable and inviting. I am going to be shampooing the heck out of the carpets this week, starting tomorrow.

I will also be painting some art for the walls and actually hanging the stuff we do have. I have decided will spring for an oil painting class in August--I have always wanted to know how to oil paint. I use watercolors and acrylics, but oils are something I have wanted to do for quite some time. I have no problem using $ to pay for classes to learn something--I am going to focus on not spending on THINGS. The starting date of my "Mamas on the Compact" compact is July 1. It will be very interesting to see how well I do. I have been trying to be pretty careful lately and to make myself ask hard questions about whether a purchase is a want or a need. I have discovered that it is hard to make that distinction sometimes--especially when it is REALLY a want and I am trying to find creative ways to make it a need.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Monday, June 09, 2008

Back from The Big KC

Details from the Unity Church in The Plaza.

They have a vegetarian cafe inside called Edan Alley. Really good food and a really cool atmosphere. They also have a patio where you can sit outside and eat while people watching. Tip--use the parking garage next to the church. We originally tried to park on the street , but there was none. Once we spotted the sign on the church that said Edan Alley was inside (in the basement --FYI) we spotted the garage. Easy, free parking. Since The Plaza is the mecca for all the chic designer stores, the variety of people at any given time is immense and varied. Parking is "interesting". Thankfully we found this garage..Also, the bread and agave butter they bring you before dinner is so good it will bring tears to your eyes!! You can shop in the gift store while they are preparing your food. They have a lot of really interesting things from all beliefs and religious traditions.

This is the view from one of the hills right outside KC, MO. Actually Staci and I were riding around in a neighborhood of really huge houses. Mega million dollar houses. This is a view from an empty lot that was for sale. The houses on either side of it were easily 5,000 square feet. Damn! What do you do for a living to be able to pay the mortgage on a house like that?! Not to mention the fact that nobody in that area had a car that was more than a year old. Damn...
Above is the Chef (male) and the assistant for the Choux pastry class Staci and I took this weekend. I loved listening to this guy talk. He is from France and I think I'd pay just to hear him read the newspaper! The class was wonderful and I learned a lot! I will be making cream puffs and eclairs for the boys this coming weekend. The Quick and Healthy cooking class was also worth every penny. There are several recipes I will be making this week. They are quick, easy and really great tasting. An interesting thing the Chef did was to stop at the end and make us think about the fact that we were satisfied. Not gut busting full or still hungry, but satisfied. I guess we tend to eat on auto-pilot.

It was fun to be there, but Dorothy is right--there really is no place like home. Staci and I ran around and explored Kansas City (both the Kansas side and the Missouri side of KC) and a lot of points in between. One thing we discovered about KC and the 'burbs is that although you may start out on a street, if you proceed straight, with no curves, you will not be one the same street when you end..Several times we headed down one street, only to realize the street name had changed..WTF?!! The original street is actually a block or 6 away. Strange.

One thing that got a little trampled while in KC was the budget. I did a lot of buying and eating out always costs you out the wazoo. I was pretty conservative in the eateries, but it still costs. The hotel we were staying in had a fridge in the room so we did save a little by getting provisions at Whole Foods such as yogurt and milk for breakfast.

My only complaint about the Overland Park Whole Foods Market was the fish counter really smelled--I think they may want to investigate whether the ice under the fish needs to be changed. It should not have smelled that way and for that distance. Another thing I noticed was the dated on the milk in glass bottles are not being watched carefully. I bought some milk and it turned out to be sour. I hadn't noticed but the date was past. Since it had a really cool glass bottle, I just dumped it and kept the returnable bottle. I know, I lost the deposit. But the bottle was really neat. In fairness, the other 2 quarts I bought after that were not old and tasted fine. There is just something good about milk in glass bottles. It really does taste better. That is why I pay a premium price for milk in glass bottles here in Wichita. It's just better.

I did blow the book budget too. I have to get serious this week and get some stitch markers made up and put out at Twist to try to put some $ in the account to compensate for the damage.. I figure I will get at least 30-35 made this coming weekend. They work up pretty fast and are fun to make.

This trip was an excellent trip for inspiration. I found lots of great ideas for jewelry and other things that I intend to follow up on. The next time I go to KC, I want to go to the art museums and galleries. I think we are going again in August so the boys can take a cooking class and we can shop at Cabella's and Bass Pro shops.

Monday, June 02, 2008

MOM. I'm bored....

OK, so the kids aren't saying that. I am.

I have been surfing the web and contemplating going to the kitchen to make something sweet.

Preferably with some form of chocolate included in the ingredient list. Lots of chocolate...After the load of clothes in the washer finishes, I am going to have to go upstairs and make some chocolate chip cookies or some no-bake cookies. I like no-bakes a lot, so that is probably what we will end up with. Plus it will enable me to make a dent in the oatmeal and peanut butter population around here. I got several boxes and jars when they were on sale for $1 a container. Good price--as long as it gets used. I am trying to use up things I have and not buy anything else for the rest of the week. However I think I am going to have to cave in and pick up some additional groceries tomorrow. We are at the bottom of our canned goods and for some reason, hamburgers or spaghetti sounds good for tomorrow...

I found my older copy of the book "Kansas: Off the Beaten Path". I plan to look through it to get ideas on quirky places in our state to visit this summer. I was thinking about purchasing a newer copy, but I will just make a list and do an Internet search of these places to make sure they are still around. This is part of our attempt to stick close to home this year and explore places that will not cost us so much in gas. We are going to Iowa this summer to see oldest one and his girlfriend, but that may be the one big trip of the season. There is an "Off the Beaten Path" book for just about every state. Go check one out from the library. You will find things you never even knew existed! Some cool, some quirky, some just plain weird.

The boys have a friend spending the night tonight. Hopefully they are reasonably quiet and don't get too rowdy. One teenager and there is one brain. Two teenagers and they have half a brain. With 3 teenagers, there are no brains in the room. Nadda...Zip...

I ended up staying home today in order to save some gas. I will go to the pottery studio tomorrow after I leave the yarn shop since it will make more sense to go when I am already out. Hopefully I will get a couple decent pots thrown. My throwing and glazing mojo has been seriously off kilter lately. Time to get it back in line!

Addition to post: What is it about kids that they have to be kept amused? I had a roll of packing tape--as in the not cheap tape--on the table and discovered the kids friend unrolling it. The jury is still out as to whether this kids is a guest again.

Monday Morning Temptations

I would love to just run off to the craft store to peruse the bead aisle today.

Really I WANT to.

I just don't NEED to.

The fact that beads are one of my Compact exemptions is good, but I am really making an effort to maintain the spirit of the compact and only buy what I intend to use. No mindless consumerism. Although I don't officially start the Compact until July 1, I am going to practice getting the concept of not shopping early. My goal today is to get a handle on my kitchen and all the boxed that we have sitting around and in need of unpacking. There is a lot of stuff still in boxes, like my set of Prismacolor art pencils, that could be pressed into service if I just knew where the heck they were. I feel like our garage is the ending scene of an Indiana Jones movie. Remember the warehouse where they stuck the Ark? Yep, now you get the idea.

So, instead of shopping and burning valuable fossil fuel and cash, I am going to hang close to home and work on getting it under control. I may go to the studio later to throw on the wheel, but I'll see how the day goes. Ideally I should go tomorrow after I leave the yarn shop that I volunteer time at. It is relatively close to the studio and would make more sense to go then.

At the end of the week, a friend and I are going to Overland Park, Kansas. We are taking cooking classes at the Kansas City Culinary Center. Originally we had signed up for a gluten free cooking class since Staci is allergic to any form of gluten, but that class was moved to a different date and we had already committed to the hotel and Staci had time off, so we were already committed to the date. We are taking a healthy cooking class and a pastry class. Although Staci can't eat the pastry (gluten), she is game to take the class.

Another reason I am really trying hard to not spend any money this week is the fact that Staci and I are going to visit two Half Price Book stores. It is a chain, but they have great prices and a huge selection. I have decided to take some books to trade in order to soften the blow. I always find something great there. However I am fully prepared to ask myself a series of questions to decide if a book is really useful or just clutter.

I'll let you know how that works.

6p.m. update : Spending $0, not even on the internet...yeah!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Starting the Compact

Beginning July 1, 2008 I will officially begin the "Mamas on the Compact " for the next two months.

My focus for the next couple months, my focus will be on making our family a little more aware of how much we consume and how much we spend.

Starting in July, I will work on enjoying people and experiences that just can't be bought with money. I am hoping this helps me get creative on finding creative alternatives to the normal mindless shopping we do. Another focus I plan to add is to declutter what we already have--to edit and pare down so we are not spending so much time maintaining THINGS.

I think that this will be good for us. However here are exceptions to the rules on buying new:

1. Personal hygiene products. I have teenage boys who play sports. Need I say more?!

2. Supplies for my crafts business. I sell stitch markers and handmade crafts. I will focus on using what I have, but I will purchase supplies if I REALLY need. This also includes clay for my pottery class. I will use what I have and buy bags only as needed. Pottery gives me a tangible creative outlet and provides an outlet to relieve stress.

3. Supplies to maintain and build our garden and chicken house. Both of these will pay back in a reduction in food costs.

4. Biweekly dinner group dinners. Our group has been going out for a while. We will cook meals at home other than those dates.

5. Medicine. This goes without saying.

What is out:

1. New books - I will focus on reading what I already have or buy at used bookstores and secondary markets.

2. Yarn--this one is going to be hard. I volunteer time in 2 yarn stores and get a discount. I love yarn--badly...I will focus on knitting through my REALLY LARGE stash.

3. Random shopping -- Actually I will make it a habit to stay out of stores in general. I actually put this into practice today. I had suggested to a friend that we meet at a bookstore to hang out for a while. After thinking about it, I called her back and we met at her house instead.

This actually falls into line with what I have been doing anyway to offset the outrageous cost of gas. Another thing that is a thing of the past is getting in the car to run single errands. Errands are now bundled according to what side of town they are on. They are also examined to see if they are REALLY needed or if they can be eliminated.