Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas

We went a little overboard for Christmas this year.  We still cash flowed it and mostly it was budgeted for, but I wanted to get a little more, so I used my business money.  It was only 1 quilt worth, so I am ok with that.

For 2 of our siblings, we got them a Harry and David tower - just a small one during the black Friday events.  Cost - $19.99 each

For 7 families, we bought them GreenMarket Purveying Co. Reed Diffusers on Black Friday as well.  These are wonderful!  A little pricey, but they last about 6 months and it smells wonderful - not perfumey like so many candles and waxes.  My favorite is the lemon and cucumber, but we got them a holiday scent.  We got them at $16.00 during the sale.

Oh, we also got the kids under 15 gifts, but I made them from my stash, so I am not counting the cost as it was absorbed last year.  It is stadium blankets personalized with their names.

For our mother's, I wanted to get them something special - the dad's were honored last year.  I LOVE Plum Paper and having been using their planner for 4 years now.  They have a new notebook, that is perfect bound and about 5 x 7, so perfect to slip into a purse.  I had them personalized and could choose the design.  I am putting a Frixion pen with it (they are erasable).  Something really nice and personal for $10 each! 
 


DS #1 - Since he is 21 now, he gets what he needs needs more than what he wants because needs are so high.   My husband likes to set them up with gift cards - gas, oil changes, food, groceries - about $200 worth.  I would like to take him shopping for some jeans and shorts for work - he has lost a lot of weight recently and all his pants are falling off of him.  I will spend about $75 more.

DS#2 - He is almost 20!  He has lots of needs and very little wants as well.  He gets the gift cards - same as above - around $200.  But we also are getting him a couple of wants - a graphite pencil, a book and a DVD - Magical Creature and Where to Find Them.  Total for wants - $40.

DD - She is 14.  She wants so many things, but only asked for one thing.  Itunes card.  So, that is what she is getting  - an itunes card and a Hot Topic gift card - both $100 each.  She buys bottoms at Kohl's, but I let her get fun tops from Hot Topic.  We are also getting her a really good heating pad.  $45 for the extra.

DS#3 - He is 13.  Although I am not thrilled he is a gamer, he programs games as well as plays them, so that helps.  He is good about it though - never complains when we ask him to get off.  So, we got him a Nintendo Switch with 1 game - that was around $350.  He is also getting a usb microphone and usb SD card converter. $35 for the extras.

Yes, DS#3 costs more.  The others get more throughout the year than this one does, just because his wants and needs are so low.  He never asks for anything.  My daughter gets all year.  She will be thrilled with her Christmas and no one has to know the disparage between the prices.

We have not bought stocking stuffers, but it usually consists of their favorite candy, a flash drive and socks.

Total $1,427.  We budgeted $1,200 and I supplied rest.  Next year, we are cutting back the Christmas budget to $800.  I will have more time to make gifts and we are cutting back on the kids.  This Christmas is the biggest they have ever had.  Like I said on an earlier post - I think some of it is our guilt for this being such a hard year on our family - losing 2 close family members, living in an RV.  It was a lot.

Oh the stocking stuffers, we already have the socks and usb - they were absorbed in the grocery budget (I know, but there was a great sale!).  We will get the candy from the grocery budget as well.

I cannot wait to see their faces Christmas morning. We still have the magic of Christmas is our home!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Working, working

Today is all about work.  Because you know, I am working like a fiend - seeing how I am blogging and all.

I really wore myself out yesterday.  I worked from about 8 am to 11 pm.  It was not all my job, but working with the kids, cooking, running errands.  I was wiped.  I had to get up early this morning to take K to the ortho.  I met with 2 customers while we he was getting adjusted.  Then I had my chiro appointment.  He told me my lower back was locked - worse he has seen with me - I am not surprised, I have been hunched over and in a lot of pain. After that, we delivered a couple of nightstands to another Harvey victim.

This is what I delivered today!

The 2 remaining quilts have been started - one I am laying out for approval today.  On the down slope now!


Monday, December 11, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan

This week is the last really crazy week.  Homeschool, work deadlines, vet appointments, Christmas errands, photo projects, etc, etc.

This morning, the kids had to finalize their A-Z photo project.  Let's just say, with a lot of my help, they finished 2 minutes ago.  Lost lists, formatting issues, printer issues, you name it.  We leave in 20 minutes to turn them in.

I have to make 2 quilts this week with all this - no idea how I am going to do it, but I have to.  We will see!

Anyway, here is our menu this week:

Monday - Roast, potatoes and carrots.  This was supposed to be yesterday, but we forgot to thaw the roast, so we had today's meal yesterday - tacos!

Tuesday - Mustard Chicken, lima beans, salad and beer bread.

Wednesday - Cajun Pork Loin, yellow rice, tomato-cucumber salad

Thursday - Sausage, potatoes and green beans

Friday - Pizza at home

Saturday - Steak, Baked Potato and salad

Sunday - Ham, corn, Mac and cheese w/ berry crisp for dessert. 

With leftovers from ham, I will make ham jambalaya and ham and potato soup.  I know lots of potatoes this week - for some reason, we are all on a potato kick!

I am off - have a wonderful day!

Friday, December 8, 2017

I'm dreaming of a WHITE Christmas...

First a few decorations in our home.  This is MOST everything, I did not take a picture of the nutcrackers.  I have not really found a spot for them.


This is the view I have from my chair!  I keep a pillow on my lap all the time.  Such a cozy fireplace - It got cold yesterday and it was the first time we had to turn on the heat.  We did run the fireplace all day - it is on the lowest level, so it is not burning too much propane.  It heats the house up about 1 degree.  I am not in love with our stockings - eventually I want to make them for us.  Even though one child has moved out, I just cannot stand to only hang 5.  He is with us on Christmas morning anyway.


This is the White House ornament for this year!  It is gorgeous - two-sided and actually the eagle is heavy!  This is one of my favorite ornaments from the White House collection.

Yes, we keep 3 trees!  This is the White House ornament tree.  I want to make a burlap or textured skirt.  All the ones in the store are way too big for this thin tree.



This is our family tree - the big one.  It has all the kids' ornaments from them growing up - some from our childhood as well and just ornaments we liked and picked up over the years.  The skirt was appliqued by my grandmother and I think it is at least 30 years old.  We have used it for as long as I can remember and she used it on her tree for years before me.


This is the other thin tree.  We use this one to display the ornaments from all the states we have been too as well as state and national parks.


A different day, but you can see the fireplace, the bookshelf where we put our nativity that my D's father gave us at our wedding.  It is a gorgeous porcelain set.

I love how cozy it feels.  We did not buy hardly anything except the red lanterns on the hearth.  Not only did I not want to spend a lot of money, but I wanted to get a feel for how we move in this house and what we wanted.  I don't buy decor every year, we use what have over and over, so I am a bit picky when it comes to decorating for Christmas.

BUT the real news of the day!  IT SNOWED IN HOUSTON!!!!

After L was done with her play (which, I have to say, she was fabulous!), we went to eat as a celebration.  It started snowing really hard while we were in there and it covered our car, so we had an impromptu snowball fight.  I nailed everywhere and got nailed in the eye!  LOL  It was a lot of fun.

Here are some pictures this morning from around our house.  It was already melting, but amazing!  It looked so Christmasy and festive!

The forest beside our house off the patio.

Our shed - the roof is green!  You can also see the deer blind.

Our home with a snowy roof!

All the bushes were covered with snow!

This is a tree we cut down - I thought it looked cool all frozen!

All the snow is already gone, but it was beautiful while it lasted!  We get it so infrequently and usually, it does not stick like this.  Made me just want to sit in a hot tub and drink coffee all day!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Taking a deep breath

I have a few minutes before I have to get my teens up.  I let them sleep in today.  D took a 1/2 day off from work today, originally to deliver furniture, but that fell through, so now it is just to take a deep breath.

Both of us are SLAMMED with work.  He has projects that have to close out before the end of the year and I have 2.5 more quilts to make really before next weekend. 

L (DD) has opening night tonight.  I am not sure Sunday could come fast enough - she has 4 full length shows of Little Women.   She is nervous and stressed, so I am letting her sleep as much as she wants - let her body heal itself and let her have a clear mind.  She is a teen after all.

My back has pretty much been out all week.  I am just starting to come out of it - slouched over and cannot stand up straight yet, but the pain is a bit less.

We got a barn cat last night!  He is a teen - only about 1.5 years old.  Very black - not one hair a different color with yellow eyes.  He will not come out of hiding just yet and runs away from us.  We are just letting him get comfortable with his surroundings.  It is WAY different than a forest.  He is in our 30 x 40 shed, so he has LOTS of space though.  He ate last night and used the litter box, so that is a good start.  His previous owners overfed him, so he is on the chunky side.  They gave him people food like pizza!  Um, no.  I may give him some pumpkin to flush him out a bit before his surgery.  He is getting neutered in 2 weeks, so he will be in the shed for that whole time and probably for another couple of weeks when he gets back from surgery.

I am mostly done with Christmas shopping - my nephew I am struggling with and I want to get my husband a little something.  I cannot say here because he reads the blog.  So, if you do read this sweetie - it is small - like stocking small!  Maybe socks!  LOL

We kind of splurged on the kids this year.  We don't usually - they are maxed at $100, but this year I think we went up to $200.  I think it was the rough year and the first Christmas in this house.  We just are excited! 

I will post more about that when I get these quilts done.

I hope you are enjoying some Christmas music, cookies and decorations! 


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Big Push Week

This week is a BUSY one - lots going on.  Where to start...

On Sunday, we delivered furniture to Harvey Victims in the morning - mostly it went ok.  We had 5 stops, and one gave us the wrong address, but I will drop it off when I go back down there next week.  It is really sad the dire straights some of these people have been in.

Also, the lack of general knowledge they have.  I never understood the disparage between the income with education.  I am not talking about math or understanding scientific reasoning, just basic household maintenance and repair.  Specifically, one family - the parents were in their late 40s, early 50s and had never heard of a L-bracket.  They did not know what a wrench was.  It was incredibly sad. 

Anyway,  DD's theater production of Little Women is this week, so we are in the throws of tech week.  Also, in photography class, they had an assignment to take pictures representing each letter of the alphabet.  They are a few letters short, so that should be fun trying to get along with long theater days.

Oh, she is also a part of a Secret Santa with her theater troop.  Only they told us the rules yesterday evening - 4 days of gifts!  Wednesday thru Saturday.  Geez - when did it get so complicated?  Her person is very picky and gluten-free, but does not like candy.  So, we are thinking about lavendar sachet on Wednesday, Starbuck's gift card on Thursday (her favorite drink), chocolate covered strawberries on Friday, and a stuffed puppy with reindeer ears on Saturday.  Not sure if I will make the puppy or not at this point, but hopefully I can to save money.  We will make the sachet as well.

As for work - SLAMMED!  I still have 3 quilts and a pillow to make.  I made one pillow already and 101 police fobs and one quilt.  The person that picked up the quilt ordered a pillow, but it is simple, so I can do it in 20 minutes or less.  The hand closing will take the longest.

I am going to try to get 2 quilts done this week.  It will be a stretch, especially with everything going on.  But that would leave next week with 1 left and then I can work on family things until the new year.  I have 2 already in my possession for the new year and the list for graduation quilts is piling up!  I am not advertising either!  Word of mouth ONLY and most are repeat customers.

Well, I am still feeling pretty good - even with all that is going on, I have been able to sleep until I wake up, which is awesome - it helps tremendously.

Already - grabbing a cup of coffee and getting to work!  Have a great day!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Numbers for month ending

I am slammed with getting quilts and such done.

BUT, finally getting some energy back - I am able to sleep until I wake, which is doing me more good than anything AND my allergy meds are finally kicking in - I only do a nose spray, so it takes just a little longer, but I like it better - I cannot handle ingesting the meds.  Side affects are killer for me.  I cannot take much (violently sick).

Anyway.  We are working hard to pay down debt and getting a bonus this month helped!

 Debts:

401(k) loan for land
October 2017 Start - $42,627
Current -  $42,227.50


CC#1
October 2017 Start - $30,400.81
Current - $11,660.90

CC#2
October 2017 Start - $13,943.95
Current - $13,646.72

CC#3
October 2017 Start - $17,279.17
Current -$17,020.17

CC#4
October 2017 Start  - $32,855.22
Current - $35,905.07

Truck
October 2017 Start - $21,753.52
Current -$21,753.52

Car
October 2017 Start - $7,013.68
Current -$7,013.68

Mortgage
October 2017 Start - $332,480.00
Current - $332,480.00

Total Non-Mortgage
October 2017 Start - $165, 874.09
Current - $149,227.56

Total Debt
October 2017 Start - $498,354.09
Current - $481,757.56

Ok, when I say we started October - it was mid to late month, so that is why I did not do a Nov. 1 update.  Couple of things - so much was paid off due to what we had saved for the closing.  Once we closed, we out aside $1,000 and paid down debt with the rest.  We also do not have a mortgage right now AND we received a bonus.

The increase in CC#4 is college tuition.  Sigh.  We will be back to a cash basis with that soon.  We cannot log on to see our truck payment (we have to call them on Monday), so I just left it, but I know it went down a couple of hundred.  Car payment has not been taken yet, but there will be a payment on the next check in.

The large payoffs will slow down in January, but a large chunk will be paid when I get my inheritance.  Come on 2018 - let's get out of debt (non-mortgage)!   It is unlikely that we will be able to get completely out debt in 2018, but we are going to try as hard as we can!

I am working, working this weekend to catch up.  My energy is mostly back - YEAH!!!  I am feeling so much better - sleeping is the best thing.

Hope you all are having a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Not bored yet

I know when I am feeling better by my boredom level.  Usually, I am a ball of energy - fidgety and constantly moving.  I am almost there, but the recover is slow and I am ok with that.  My voice is back and sounds smooth, so that is wonderful.  Having the ability to speak is highly underrated!

DD and I went and got our hair cut this morning.  I took a chance on a local lady that does it out of a little shed on her property.  Best haircut I have had in years.  LOVE IT!  We will start going to her exclusively.  She is not too pricey - $20 for a wash and cut.  I typically go twice a year, but I really like it shorter, so I am going to go every  2-3 months.  My daughter will like that better as well.

I have been trying very hard to take it easier - I did cut and layout a quilt yesterday.  It was approved and I have to get it done this week.  It is mid-sized, so a nice change from the HUGE ones I have been doing lately.

Other than that, I have just sat around.  Literally, I cannot think of anything else I have done.  The cold meds kind of keep me in a daze.

Maybe later I will take pictures of our Christmas decorations.  They are lovely - the kids run in the morning to turn on the lights - so cute how teens still love the "magic" of Christmas.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Looking forward

DH and I had a little heart to heart about things.   It was all joy, but what I lovingly call growing pains.  We don't yell or scream, it is not our style, but there was a healthy debate going on.

Right now, my cup is full so to speak - nerves are raw and I am frazzled.  Not a term the docs use - they liked the exhaustion thing, but there you go.  I am a little low in iron (working on that) and yep, I need to de-stress.

DH is a little stressed too, but I think his stemming from the debt and the pressure he feels.  I feel it too.  He is worried about me, too.

Basic Health Needs

1.  We bought a blood pressure machine
2. Iron Supplements for me
3. Water - I got lazy about drinking it when I am such a BIG water drinker - dehydration is a problem.  So, everyone is helping me.  The kids offer to get it when I am busy and I am making a conscious effort to drink more to get back into the habit.
4. Walking - I am struggling to get this back due to the schedule, but we did walk twice over the Thanksgiving break.
5. Stretching - for my lifelong back issues.  Nightly - it helps me sleep as well.

In addition to this, we have started back taking vitamins - a multi and vitamin D and Bs.  I don't see a great improvement yet, but I slept better last night, so hopefully it is working.

Work - my passion, my love

1. I am going to cut back.  This is hard for me because I am more calm when I am working.  This is temporary though and I can work as much as I want, just no marketing whatsoever - no pictures, no posts on Facebook or Instagram.

2. The compromise was that I will take in work if people contact me.  There are some I know are coming in the spring for graduation.  If they call me, then I will take it.

Homeschool

1.  Homeschool is not working as we are going right now.  I mean the job is getting done, but there is no fun in it and the kids are struggling, I am struggling.  Not in grades, in just being consistent.

2. We decided, for sure, to put them a small private school that is designed to work with homeschoolers.  They are going for their basics and we still get to do the electives at home.  The fun stuff like logic, health, driving, programming, etc.  This does not start until fall, so it will take time, but it should take a ton off my plate.

Home - mainly upkeep and repair

1. There is a LONG list of things that are waiting to be done.  Some items are on my mind, but not a ton of them.  The main one being the staining and sealing of the french doors and the front door.  DH attempted to do that, but it did not work, so I decided to hire someone to finish this work.  It is an expense, but I have 4 quilts due in 3 weeks, as well a pillow and 100 police badges.  I do not have time and we cannot wait because we are going into wet season and heavily fluctuating temperatures with dead, raw wood.  They need to be sealed.

2.  Everything else, we made a list, and it was agreed I would let it go.  As long as we are working forward and a little gets done every week, I am not going to worry.  It is time to pass the baton over to my husband and let him lead the home issues for while.


In our talk, I told DH that I was tired of "paying" for the time that I read a book or visited with friends.  I need to get to the point where I can enjoy something again, without the pile at home growing exponentially.  I think that is when it hit home for him how much I was carrying.

This won't happen overnight, but it will happen.  I feel good about moving forward now.  Amazing what a good night of sleep will bring.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday - not much better

Life is just too busy for me to recover.

I am sick again. No voice.  This is the 4th time I lost my voice in 3 months.  There is too much stress and so busy.  We are trying to lighten the load, but things keep popping up and life is just too busy in general. 

Having a child in theater leaves no room for rest.

Thanksgiving was OK.  It wasn't too bad.  I enjoyed watching the parades, but the dinner was not great.  I do not like Thanksgiving food, neither do any of us, so this is the last year of it.  The turkey on the grill was good though - DH did a great job with it!

Other days were full.

On Friday, we waited until 1pm, then went to Payless for the 50% off sale.  Hobby Lobby for a couple of things - like wrapping paper, bows and Christmas Cards at 50% off as well.  Some friends came over Friday night and it was a nice visit - I was tired though.

Saturday, DH and I ran errands for hours - it wore me out.  It seemed like every place we had to go was to pick up one thing.  It sucked, but necessary.  I did put on a soup that morning that was wonderful - a bean, turkey and sausage soup - it was fabulous with a spicy kick.  I could barely keep my eyes open after eating.

Sunday, we got up early and caught a morning show of The Man Who Invented Christmas - it was good and everyone enjoyed it.  I spent the afternoon grading and planning out the rest of the year in homeschool.  Then, started reading and collapsed early.

This morning, we got up early because the cleaners were coming.  I went through the cyber Monday deals and used one to register my son for a summer camp - $150 off was a fabulous deal.  Nothing else really grabbed at me.  I updated my calendar and started transferring to the new one coming up. Both are kept out right now because January plans are coming like wildfire.

I registered DD for the next semester theater auditions - Much Ado about Nothing, it includes a summer Shakespeare camp.

Also, DS#2 stopped by before heading back to college - he had been visiting his dad.  No voice is not fun when trying to say goodbye.

We sat outside with our new propane heater (gift card purchase) as it was a bit chilly while the cleaners were here.  The kids did their homeschool and I answered questions having to repeat frequently as the wind was often louder than my voice.

I also scheduled times to deliver furniture we are giving to Harvey Victims.  I think most of my life is really acting as a secretary.

Now we are back inside and I am exhausted.  We still have photography class today so I think I am done.  I need to get quilts made - like I am seriously behind, but it is no good starting when I am so tired, I will just screw up.  I will sleep in tomorrow and then get a good days work in.

There is so much more to say, but I will have to do it another day.  I need to get their photos printed and plan this week's menu.

I saw everyone had a great Thanksgiving - I hope this week is even better for you!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mind Dump

You all are the sweetest people ever!  My goodness - the love was felt!

 I was able to get some rest last night - I did not even make it to 10 pm and stayed in bed until I was ready to get up.  I never sleep through the night, but I felt like I got better sleep than the past few nights.

Slow is the name of the game today.  I need to cook a bit for tomorrow, but I am going to wait until -D gets home - we can do it together.  Today is prepare the sweet potato pie, bake the pumpkin cake, devil the eggs, and shop for the last minute fresh stuff.  Really not bad at all. 

I am still drinking some coffee; it is cool in the house and tastes so good (yes, water in between).  I need to eat a little, but my stomach is just not there yet.  While I was watching some fun gift idea vlogs on youtube, I did a sort of mind dump to get what is in my head out and see in black and white what is bothering me.  In my head, it stays sort of like a tornado - one issue bleeding into another issue, bleeding into another - so that it seems much larger and complicated than it actually is.  Very cathartic to do this every now and then - at least for me it is.

One good thing - our 401(k) is valued over $90k!  I know it is low for our age, but we are so close to $100k I can taste it.  We will be there very soon - maybe not this year, but very early in the new year!  This gets me super excited!

Back to mind dump

1.  Mostly a list of to-dos.  Things that really are pretty easy and -D can help me with.  They will take several weekends, but they are all weekend projects.

2. Homeschool vs. Business.  This is a big one.  I am not sure how to manage both or go without one or the other.    Something has to give though.  This is a major talking through.

3.  Christmas - gifts, cards, etc.  Again, a quick talk and moving on - it will be simple this year - I think people will understand.

4. My work to finish and gifts to make.  I have decided NOT to make gifts for Christmas, BUT there are a few things I need to make as promised - a quilt made from my grandmother's clothes for my cousin (she cared for my grandmother and was executor - they were close), and the wolves for my step-father in-law's family.  I also WANT to make my oldest a quilt - as I have made for all my other children and I WANT to make my husband a quilt as I have already started it and family contributed!

Really those are the main categories.

What I am thinking with my business. 

I need to make the 5 quilts that are in my office right now.  Quickly.  Then, I don't stop the business, but go to zero marketing.  If something comes in - I will take it, if not, I sew for fun. 

Homeschool is very important to us, but them being on a high school level is very time consuming for me as the teacher.  They are involved in activities on top of an intense load. 

So, this is a big one - balancing them.  There may not be a great answer and it may be something we consistently "limp" through.

Anyway!  Are you already starting to cook for Thanksgiving?  I hope you have a wondeful, drama-free, cozy day with those you love!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

It is actually Exhaustion

Yes, I have been diagnosed with exhaustion.  Seriously.  My blood pressure is up.  I am not sleeping well.  My nutrition is poor, but not because of my eating - my body is literally exhausted.

-D was getting worried about me being so tired, so I went in and yep, an official diagnosis.  I have to rest, eat well, take vitamins, exercise (but not to the point of exhaustion) and get the stress down in my life. 

So, I think for the rest of the year, we are not going to allow visitors. 

I am going to chill out.  Just spend as much time at home as possible, not booking early appointments if we HAVE to book them at all.  I am not going to take in any more work and Christmas is going to be low key.

I have to track my water intake and keep a food journal, but that should not be too hard. 

I was told to get a massage.  I am allowed to forgo blood pressure meds right now.  There was an unusually high reading for me, but it could be dehydration and the fact I am on decongestants.  So, we are waiting a couple of weeks and trying again.

Is anyone really surprised though?  I am not.  I know I have been running thin.  We need to have a family meeting though and really discuss expectations.  -D is going to freak, but we will get through this.

Let me tell you folks.  Clinical exhaustion is awful. It is beyond tired.  I am ready to be myself again.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Completely exahusted

The weekend was very long.  I love my elementary friends.  Don't get me wrong.  It was lovely to see her again after 21 years, however - it completely wore me out.

She did not want to do any of the things I had planned other than shop for Christmas items and decorate.  No antique shop, no movie.  So, we talked and talked and talked and talked.  Her interests are very different from mine.  She is extremely opinionated and our opinions are opposite.

She is not intelligent either and has no interest in learning, so it was difficult. I mostly just listened to her.  She wants to live in the past and that is just not something I am interested in.  However, it was nice to reconnect and talk about childhood a bit.  One day would have been good, but she was here for 3.  My whole family is just not used to that length.  I will do more in the future to curb that.

On to other things, my hormones are going CRAZY!  I am in peri-menopause and have been for about 2 years for sure.  I am very late and thinking I will skip this monthly visit.  We will see - no I am not pregnant. It still feels like I am PMSing though, so that sucks 2 weeks of PMS.

We did mostly set up Christmas decorations though.  The big tree needs to go up and I need to organize the Nutcrackers as well as get the outside wreath in shape.  The house really looks cozy with the 2 smaller trees, a garland on the mantle and the stockings. 

If I have not said before - we have 3 trees.  The big one is the family tree with all the ornaments from the kids and our lives over the years.  One of the smaller trees has ornaments from all the states we visited as well as the national parks and monuments.  The other smaller tree has the White House Historical Society ornaments that come out every year.  We have all of them.  They are gorgeous!

To recover, I am going to read and nap.  Probably nap first.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Company's here!

My sweet DS#2 come home last night.  DS#1 came to visit with him and they went riding around - ah, youth.  DS#2 came home sick, with a duffle full of laundry.  LOL

I stuffed him with soup, some medicine, the neti pot, helped him start his clothes, made him take a shower, then he felt better.  He said our new place smelled like home.  Isn't that just the sweetest thing!?!

I am letting all the kiddos sleep in this morning, so I can go a little slow.  I need to work, but I am having a hard time getting started because a friend from elementary is coming in this weekend!  I have not talked to her in at least 10 years and have not seen her in 25 years.  Should be interesting.  I am not sure what we have in common anymore.

However, she said she was willing to help me out in any way since I have been so stressed lately.  I am going to put her to work (not really).

Tomorrow, I think we will shop at an antique type store I have been dying to go to - their sign says, "If you like Chip and Joanna, You will Love Us!  We're cheaper!"  Cracks me up.  We went to Waco and stopped by their store - Magnolia.  It is very expensive and crowded oh man.  There was a waiting line to get into the store!

Anyway, I would go there, then to Hobby Lobby for a few Christmas things - taking advantage of the sale and coupon, then go see Bad Moms Christmas.  Having lunch along the way.  Then back to the house, for time in the hot tub and just visiting. 

Then on Sunday, I was going to have her help decorate with us.  Or make something for her grandkids (embroidery wise).

I am not a go-go-go out and about person.  I am a homebody.  

Luckily, we have a lot to catch up on, so I don't think there will be lingering lulls in the conversation. 

What all are y'all up to this weekend?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Morning "Coffee"

Well, this Morning "Coffee" with our homeschool is going brilliantly!  I have a cup o' joe and DD has a latte or hot chocolate and DS#3 has a hot chocolate or apple juice.

We start at 9 am, then go over history and literature because they are tied together.  Then we work on Latin.  2 days a week we add Science and Logic.  After group time, they do their individual work with math, vocabulary, writing and any work left over from the group time. 

The morning starts with low energy, moving slow teens, but after a few discussion questions, their energy increases and they are good to go!  Math scores have gotten better and their writing is is more mature. The Morning "Coffee" has given us much more than I ever dreamed!

There is a thing going around the homeschool community that has a Morning Basket - consisting of a devotional, prayer, poetry, etc.

Well, we are more secular in our home with school AND my teens want to be adults (like most teen do).  So, I thought Dad has morning meetings and most everyone brings coffee to the conference room, so why don't we?  It is like a morning-get-the-day-going meeting.  I usually have handouts - ie, weekly schedule, declension sheets, graded papers, etc.

It also keeps us on a schedule.  I am scheduling appointments and my day around this meeting.  Even if I have errands, we just make the meeting short - only doing history and literature, and then I leave to run the errands. 

So far this week, we have met every morning and it is getting easier for me and they are loving the consistency.  They don't know, but I am training them to get up earlier, eat breakfast and have a morning routine.  It is not as early as public schools, but I always hated that they started class at 7:20 am anyway.  9 am is good for all of us.

At this point, I love all our curriculum choices, but science.  It is the most difficult one to do and not because of experiments, it is just finding one that is secular and can be taught at home.  Textbooks are very dry and not made for homeschool, more for someone with a science teaching background.  Homeschool classes in the area do not teach secular science,  so we just have to push through.  Luckily, -D is doing the experiments with them on the weekends.  He lectures a bit, but it is good for them to get used to that!

Today is the first day this week that I am able to stay home the entire day.  DS#2 is coming in from college and I have work to do!  I am hoping to get 2 quilts finished today.



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Christmas Decor obsessed!

My need want to put up Christmas is overwhelming me.  I thought I was alone in this, but on Facebook several of my friends are beginning to put up their trees already!

Now, we are literally 1 week away from when I would normally put up decorations.  We ALWAYS put it up either on Thanksgiving or that weekend.  Since all my kids will be with me on Thanksgiving, I really think we are going to start decorating very soon.  I will put the tree up, but we will wait to hang ornaments until Thanksgiving Day.

We are not going to do much outside as noone can really see our house from the road.  However, I want to make the front porch charming!  What I would LOVE is a sleigh to prop in the corner, but they are so expensive - who knew?

My father in law talked about this once.  The years where people really go all out with the Christmas decorations tend to be the years that there are hard times.  This year is no different.  I truly believe all the talk about Christmas here is because of Harvey. 

I know for me it has been a very rough year - just the house building was trying enough, but 2 deaths - a whole generation for me is gone.  All my grandparents have now passed.  We lost one parent, so it is the start of another generation leaving.   I am still seriously underwater with things and trying desperately to catch up. 

So, Christmas, for me, is the brightness in this trying year.

How about you?  Ready to start decorating?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

House Pictures!

OK, I finally took some more pictures of the house.  There are still a few more things I want to show you, but not too much more.


 Cords and all - our living room.  The books are not all up yet and that is my heating pad draped over my chair.  There is so much room - this is the largest living room I ever had!  The picture doesn't show it though.



 BEAMS!  I LOVE these beams.  They are so rustic and gorgeous.  We were told that they came from an old Mennonite barn in Wisconsin.



Our stone fireplace.  I cannot have a house without it - this is the 4th house I have put a stone fireplace in.  We are going to do something about those wires - just no chance yet!



 Another view of the living room from behind the couch looking out to the patio.



 This is the front entry and part of my office as looking from the living room.



 This is my messy office.  The room is a different shape and smaller than what I wanted, but I am going to make it work.  Quilts on the ironing board, blue bags with more quilts to make.  The embroidery machine I have yet to turn on!



 This is the entry from my office.  These are raw doors that I have to stain.  My list is getting longer.



This is looking back down the house from the entry - the kitchen to the right and living to the left.  All our bedrooms are back this way.



 I think I mentioned back in August that I was able to take one of my grandmother's chairs and that it was interesting.  This is it!  It sits in my bedroom.  It is VERY comfortable and the fabric is growing on me.



 This is the best picture I could get of our bedroom.  It is not particularly large, but we do not need a large bedroom. 



This is a new dresser that we bought this summer. We are not using it as dresser, more storage and entertainment center, but I LOVE it - semi-rustic and about 4 1/2 feet tall. I got for less than $100 -That may be why I love it so much!



 The famous shower in the master bath.  Double rain heads and it feels like walking into a spa every day!  I literally cannot believe we own a shower like this - never before and probably never again will we have a shower this good.



This is the master bathroom looking from the door to the patio.  The shower is on the left, water closet at the end and clothing closet to the right.  We kept it smaller because we did not need lots and lots of space.  It is actually a very good size for the little time we spend here.



This is our master closet.  It is huge to us.  There is a motion light and what I could not get a good angle on is all the shelves - both to the left and right.  We have a seat on the left with an electric outlet that we charge our phones at night and can sit down to put on shoes, etc.  There is cabinet above the seat as well.  It is amazing.



 This is the view of the patio from the master bathroom door.  Our hot tub!  So far, we have used it about 3 times per week.  It is lovely.



This is the patio from the screen that blocks the hot tub.  Our outdoor living room.  It is so comfortable.  We all have taken naps out here and D and I have morning coffee on the weekends lounging on the sofa.


 This is the outdoor kitchen area - complete with sink, pull out trash drawer, soft close storage drawers and cabinet and a mini fridge.  This is the grill that we are cooking on turkey in.  It is hooked up to the house propane, so no more small tanks to fill!



 Our dining room - The table is 7' long and made our of reclaimed teak wood from a boat!  The iron work underneath is custom made.  The chairs are the ultimate, but they will do for now.  




 Our view from the patio and living room.  So far, we have sees roadrunners, rabbits, deer and a racoon.




 It was too dark to get a great picture and no still picture will do this justice.  This is our $50 water fountain!  It sounds gorgeous and D put a light in it so glows on the trickling water and sends a ripple light on the ceiling above.  Very relaxing.



 This is the custom stained glass we had made for the actual front door.  This is from inside on the patio - the colors shine into the living room in the evening before sunset.



 This is the front door of the house. 



 This is the mostly finished house!  You can see the rye grass and clover seed we spread out is already growing!  It looks so much better than the crappy dirt blowing and muddy!



This is the house and barn/shed.  There is a lot of work on the land to do, but we need to give it time to settle and let the land get fertile.  I am not sure trees would grow if we planted them now.


Well, that is it!  We love our little home.  I it about 2,200sq ft, so not super huge, but big enough.  I still want to show you the storage room, laundry room and loft area, but that will come in time.

OH - almost forgot!  We are closing tomorrow!  YEAH!!!  Finally!  It really is not closing, because we already closed in May, but it is a modification of the loan. We had to jump through the same hoops, so it feels like a closing.  Anyway, tomorrow we sign the papers and then we have a mortgage.  So glad to be moving forward now!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Chaos Reigns

I am finally done being sick - still a little drainage, but mostly back to normal.  I feel certain it is the new house smells and dust doing us in.  I am taking some time to air out the house, but we all have fall allergies, so it is 6 or a 1/2 of dozen.

All in time.

My work office is still not set up.  We have not unpacked any boxes in over 2 weeks.  We have worked on the yard, and setting up things however. 

The kids have photography class today and I have to run to the grocery store for the free turkey my son gets for working at a grocery store.  I still took advantage of the buy a ham, get a turkey - now we will be set for all the holidays.

Yesterday the entire day went to making a menu, writing a grocery shopping list, gathering coupons, loading coupons, grocery shopping and unloading.  It was a stock up time.  I did not have vinegar, spices, lemon or lime juice, flours, baking mixes, etc and most all of it was on sale.  We spent nearly 1/2 of our monthly budget on food, but I am not sure how it could be helped.  We saved close to 40%, so the bill would have been much more if I did not take advantage of the sale.  The spices were buy one, get one free - so that was major!  I cannot wait for a garden when I can grow most of this stuff.

We also bought as much as we could for Thanksgiving - things tend to run out here like heavy cream, eggs and baking mixes.

Speaking of Thanksgiving dinner:

Breakfast /Appetizers:
Sausage Balls
Cheese Ball with crackers
 Fresh veggies

Dinner:
Rotisserie Turkey (on our new grill, so excited about that!)
Stuffing and gravy
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Pie - YUCK!  I am doing this for my son, but I do not like it.
Fruit Salad with whipped cream
Deviled Eggs
Cranberry Sauce
Rolls

Desserts:
Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Before that though, DS#2 is coming home from college Thursday.  My best friend from elementary is coming to visit this weekend.  DD's play is premiering right after Thanksgiving, so she has more rehearsals.  We got behind in homeschool, so we are trying to catch up! 

We made a deal with the builder that we would finish the house if we did not owe him anymore.  Sigh - it is a bittersweet thing.  We are so strapped for time, but I have now have 3 raw doors that need to be stained and sealed.  Usually I do that, but I have 6 quilts to get done before Christmas, so I am really hurting for time. 

Good news about all this is that it keeps us from spending money!  LOL  I am too busy to spend money.

No word on the closing yet.  Tick tock.

Well, gotta run - questions to answer for homeschool!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Our temp to perm budget

We did sit down and hash out the budget last night.  We were tired, but pushed through.  There were bills to pay and 2 months of reconciling to do, as well as planning, etc.

There is not a long term plan as of yet - there is too much up the air still - closing on house, finishing with the builder, receiving the inheritance, the holidays, the yard, etc.

As of now, we plan on hitting CC#1 immediately.  We paid a little over $2,000 toward it last night, but held off putting all the savings toward it because of closing on the home.  We are waiting for that first and foremost.  They are in the final underwriting, so hopefully we close this next week.  I think we may lose our locked in interest rate, but we will see.

OK, that is the first step.

Second step - Waiting for the bonus and inheritance money to come in.  We decided to pay the 401(k) and CC#4.  CC#1, #4 and 401(k) are all the largest cash flow items and would be best to pay off as soon as possible.  We are not going smallest to largest, according to Dave Ramsey, because of the large amount coming in at once.  We decided to go with what would make the biggest cash flow impact.  We would like to have all three gone by the end of the year, but that would be VERY, VERY tight, so we will see.  I am done with Christmas gift buying, so it just may happen.

We did not go further really because we need to see how the rest of this year pans out.

However, we began saving for irregular expenses - which makes me feel so much more secure.

These include:  EZ Tag (toll roads), Home Maintenance/Repair, Medical, Birthdays, Homeschool, Vacations, Car Insurance, Christmas, Electric, Propane, Car Repair, Pest Control, Auto Registration/Inspection, HOA dues, Hair cuts, Clothing, Beef, Trash, and Summer Camps.

With these, we typically can cash flow most everything that comes up. 

Our budget will change heavily for a while since living in the country has different types of bills than in the city.  Auto gas is a little more, but we have no water bills or septic bills.  But, septic must be cleaned out every now and then and I have no idea how much that costs.

So, we have a budget now - feels terrific!  A plan for slashing the debt.  A beautiful place to live.  We are truly living the high life.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fridays Numbers

I am prepping for our budget meeting.  So many things have popped up - like Septic Walk Through, errands and just life. 

So, I thought we may have to actually sit down and do the budget tonight.  In getting ready for that, I decided to go ahead and post our numbers today.

Disclaimer:  I don't want anyone thinking this is how they should work a budget or follow in my footsteps - this is a lesson on how NOT to do your money.   I will not tolerate bashing of any kind.  We are both pulling up our big girl and boy britches and tackling this debt with a vengeance.   Also, I would not trade this house for anything - I love where we are right now and I am owning up to the debt that got us here - I don't blame anyone nor do I expect anyone else to pay it - ever.  We have a pretty big shovel (Dave Ramsey term), so here we go.

I will post our plan on Saturday or Sunday depending on when we hash it out.

Debts:

401(k) loan for land - $42,627 (nothing but a bunch of stupid - love the land, hate how we bought it)

CC#1 - 30,400.81   (life gone out of control)

CC#2 - $13,943.95 (some of this is college, some is car repair, and the rest is travel for the family deaths this year)

CC#3 - $17,279.17  (This is the RV)

CC#4 - $32,855.22 (This was mainly what we spent on the house build)

Truck - $21,753.52  (used, but we financed all of it)

Car - $7,013.68   (we bought a good used car, paid 1/2 in cash from what we got in the insurance settlement and had to financed the rest.)

Mortgage - $332,480.00

Total Non-Mortgage - $165, 874.09

Total Debt - $498,354.09

We do have an idea of how to tackle this, we just don't have the specific numbers yet.  Around $100,000 will be used to pay off debt by the end of year, between my inheritance, the amount we have saved for closing and a bonus we know is coming.  We are paying off the 401(k) loan first.  It needs a lump sum - you cannot put small amounts toward it (which sucks).  It gives us the biggest bang immediately both in future money and monthly cash flow.  CC#1-3 are next.  Then, we have to chunk away at the rest.  I won't know how much monthly will go toward it until January when we get the new balances on the 401(k) payoff and the social security adjustment.

OK, I came clean.  Now we move forward with intensity.  Our #1 goal is to payoff the non-mortgage debt by the end of 2018 while cash flowing college and life.

Let's get it going!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The No Days

This past week, although my posts have been about the exciting, have been no days.

We stopped homeschool.

I, mostly, stopped working.

The house is a big mess.

And not much has gotten done.

We are still sick.  K (DS#3) and I are almost done - the last vestiges of the hacking cough and stuffy nose.  We are still taking decongestants and sleeping with humidifiers, doing the neti pot and taking vitamins C & D. 

L (DD) is in the throws of it.  Poor thing.  She got it last.

D and I decided that this week is all about getting us better, so we are doing the bare minimum and getting rest.  I am not above thinking it may have something to do with the building dust.  We are going to change to the house filters asap and really work at cleaning this weekend - like vacuuming the walls and such, again.

Since we are just resting, we took our new to us care to get looked at.  There was a scrapping sound at the back wheel, the cigarette lighter did not work (could not charge cell phones), the windshield washer fluid would not spray, and the trunk could not open from the pull switch inside the car.  All of that is repaired now.  So, it really feels like a new, new to us car.

I know I keep saying it, but I am really starting to feel like me again.  I am home, things are normalizing, I have a kitchen... It really is bliss.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Putting together a Budget

After 10 months, we are finally able to put together a budget.  We decided yesterday that even though we have not closed on the loan fully, that we have a good idea of what the mortgage note will be and we are going to formulate a budget and put it into practice.

This includes our monthly budget, projection for 2018, thoughts on the next 5 years - everything!  I am beyond excited.

We have been living without a real budget.  It has been like this - spend as little as possible and save everything else, which has been insane with building a house.  Money has flowed like water and we cashed flowed a ton, ran up the credit cards a ton (not going to hide it) and just all around floundered.

We still don't know how to disperse the cash we have built up because we have not closed.  But, I will tell you that ALL that cash is going to debt when we do close.

Some things happened during this 10 months - my son's car, 2 family deaths (of which I am getting an inheritance with one), our car, and a major flood.  Things that by themselves cause turmoil and financial difficulty, but we got all that WHILE building.

And so it goes...

Time to pick up the pieces.

This coming weekend, we put on our calendar to work through this budget and get back on track!

2018 is going to be the year we get out of non-mortgage debt!  Through hell or high water - we are determined!

(numbers will come next week)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

New Kitchen!

The kitchen was clean this morning, so I decided to grab some shots before the kids made breakfast.  This house is such a mess, I am embarrassed to take pictures - stuff is just everywhere.  As I get things cleaned up, ie, unpacked, I will take more pictures.

The kitchen is a big one though.  I did not put much thought into the bedrooms.  The focus was the kitchen, master bath and outdoor patio.

Without further ado:

This is the main view of the kitchen.  All ceilings in the house are 10ft tall.  We decided NOT to take the cabinets to the ceiling, because 1) who could reach them and 2) we LOVE over and under cabinet lighting.

I decided on a U-shaped kitchen since usually there are 2-3 people in there at any time - this shape gives lots of space without taking up too much square footage.  Although the picture makes it look small - the island is 7 ft wide.

I did not get the arch in here; even though this is an open floorplan, we added an arch above in oreder to delineate the space. We echoed this arch in the island top.



I love drawers - like I have a very deep-seeded obsession with them.  They are so much more practical than lower cabinets.  I only have 3 lower cabinets (and one of those houses our trash and recycling bins), but I have 27 drawers just in the kitchen.  It is heaven and I do not regret it one bit.




The backsplash - funny story.  For 8 months I stressed about the backsplash.  When we renovated our LARGE home several years, I picked a backsplash and it made the countertop look neon green - it was awful!  Noone saw it but the installer and me because I painted a glaze over the travertine that made it look so much better.  I was nervous about a repeat of that and I did not want to make a bad decision.  

Since we had so much natural stone and wood everywhere, it looked odd to have a porcelain tile as the backsplash.  We thought stone, but it looked too busy, especially with our floors.  It was after all other tile had been installed and the builder said, "You have to make a choice" that I finally figured it out.  DH and I were walking through the house one evening and I noticed there was quite a bit of the tile we put in the kids' bathrooms left over.  I had fallen in love with that tile - a lot of movement - like stone, but it was a well done ceramic tile.  However - it was large - 24" x 12".  Great for a shower stall, not great for a backsplash. After much talking and translating, we decided that this was perfect as a backsplash - natural looking, but not busy and the tiler cut the large tiles down to 6" x 12" and laid them in a brick pattern.  You don't even really notice it - which is what I was going for.




The barstools.  I looked a long time for barstools that would be comfortable and swivel.  They were expensive, but I did buy them at a clearance store for less then 1/2 off - still pricey at $150 each, but these will last a very long time - they are heavy and very sturdy.



We ended up getting black stainless steel appliances at a very deep discount over Labor Day Weekend.  I love the color - it is a deep gray rather than black, but it does not fingerprint up like stainless.  They look sleek.



My jewel of the kitchen - a Farmhouse Copper Sink!  It is gorgeous and not hard to take care of.  Just don't leave dishes or food in the sink.  Only use mild dish soap for cleaning - simple.




This is my Grandfather's ice cream scoop from his restaurant he had in the 40's and 50's.




Ah, granite.  Yes, we ultimately decided on granite.  I think we were talking about soapstone, but I did not want the green coming out and we talked quartz, but I do not like how it looked - too fake to me.  We discussed concrete, but ultimately came back to granite over and over again.

This is Uba Tuba that was leathered with a chiseled edge and it is GORGEOUS!!!!!  It doesn't stain or show water marks, hides a little bit of the mess.  Even my husband, who was very leery and the builder - who fought me all the way, they both loved it.



My floors.  6 years in the wanting.  I found this company - Rustico Tile - years ago.  I ordered samples and carried them around everywhere.  Finally, I got them!  We have these saltillo tiles in the entry, kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room in the hexagonal shape.  Then we have rectangles on the patio.  They are Manganese Satillo Tiles that have been sealed.



I chose simple pendants over the island.  I did not want to spend a lot of money on lighting and we can always change later.



This island is HUGE!  I am completed thrilled that we chose to keep the island at counter height.  It looks expansive and we can do so much there - homeschool, plan, make cookies, paint - it is awesome.   Those that complain that water splashes from the sink - well, wipe it up!  It is not bad though - very little water gets on the countertop because the sink is really deep.



Ah yeah, now we are talking!  No regrets ever on this.  This is my ice machine!  Sonic ice anyone?


We went with simple bronze with copper accent knobs and pulls on the cabinets.  Nothing fancy.



There you have it!  Our new kitchen - dreamy? Absolutely, the best kitchen ever?  To us it is.  Our daughter summed it up pretty nicely - it is a small house with a mansion inside.  We did not want a lot of space, but we wanted what was in it to be nice.  I believe we accomplished that.