Cut Your Spending & Make Your Holidays Brighter

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The time of year where it seems as though money is literally flying out your window is quickly approaching. Regardless of whether you have tons of money saved up in bank account or you’re just living from paycheck to paycheck, watching your money go is never a joyous event. Fortunately, seeing the joy on someones face when they open a gift that you handpicked for them makes it all worth it. I’m sure at some point in your life you have had to come up with some creative ways to provide gifts for your friends and family. I, myself, did a lot of crafting in my college days. Amazingly, those were the gifts that mattered the most. Getting back to the point, there are many simple ways to cut back spending throughout the year to help give you some extra cash for the holidays. Hopefully these easy tips can help you sweat a little less next season. After all, it’s supposed to be a happy and merry season!

  1. Eat out less. This one might be tough for some people, but it is essential. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy a dinner out with your significant other or a lunch date with your friends, but the frequent visits to McDonalds or Starbucks (yes, coffee counts) can do a lot of damage to your bank account. When I taught elementary school, I would frequently go out to lunch because I didn’t have time to make a lunch. In reality, it took longer for me to leave work, order food, and get back to work than it would if I just brought my own lunch! To make things easier, after you finish supper pull out a lunch size container and prep your leftover lunch for the next day. When I make larger meals, like casseroles, I will divide half of it into lunch portions and stick it in the freezer for my hubby to take to work. Many people will find that eating in will save you at least $100-$200 a month.
  2. Cut out cable. I know I wrote about this in a previous blog, but I just want to revisit this topic quickly. Cutting out cable can be a HUGE money saver. It has saved us over $100 a month. Thats $1200 a year. You cant argue with that. There are so many other entertainment options in today’s world, that to me it just doesn’t make sense to have cable. Here are some alternatives: Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, HD Antenna, bunny ears, and buying your TV series at a used entertainment store. The costs of these options are minimal and some are just a one time fee! It’s worth it people!
  3. Buy used. This tip is helpful for everyone, but especially those with kids. I look around my house, my daughters room, and all of her toys and I can happily say that at least 90% of our belongings are used! It doesn’t mean they look worn or trashy, in fact most of our stuff is in great shape. It may take a little more time and effort to find specific items that you or your child are looking for, but why spend the extra money if something just as good is half the price. I also love that when you buy something used, it has a story. Whether it’s your own story about the bargain price you got it for or the previous owner telling you stories about where it came from. To me thats a lot more fun than picking it up for full price at a retail store.
  4. No Spend Week. My husband and I just recently started this routine. For one week out of the month we spend money only on absolute necessities, like gas, vets, doctors, emergencies, and necessary food items. We try to eat whatever we already have in the fridge and pantry, but on occasion you may need a few items to complete your recipes. Going out to eat and leisurely shopping is out of the question. Surprisingly it not only saves money for the week, but it also helps reel our consumerism tendencies back in. The weeks following we find ourselves constantly questioning if we need something or if we just want it. Trust me, it’s not as hard as it seems!

There are many, many more ways to cut back on your spending, you just have to find what works best for you and your family. Make a list of the things you typically spend money on, prioritize them, and decide how you can make adjustments. Spending less shouldn’t make you miserable, it should make you feel good! Making smart financial choices and starting early in the year can definitely make your holidays a little more merry and bright. What are some of your money saving tips? Thanks again for reading!

Malorie

Fun Fall Recipe: Creamy Salmon Stew

Fall Recipes

I thought to kick off this beautiful fall season it might be fun to share a yummy, warm fall recipe! One of my favorite things about cool weather is being able to enjoy all kinds of soups, chilis, and stews. As soon as the weather hits 75 degrees, I’m dusting off my crockpot and searching for new recipes on Pinterest and Google. I rarely ever follow one recipe exactly. Typically I will combine about 3 recipes into one, making it truly my own. There’s no shame in getting a little inspiration! If you aren’t a big fan of salmon you can change it up and add shrimp, lobster, or crab. Make it your own!

Creamy Salmon Stew

Creamy Salmon Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 5oz cans of Carnation Evaporated Milk
  • 3 cups of 2% or whole milk (more or less)
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 2 frozen salmon filets (thawed)
  • 3 Tbs of butter
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional
  • Pre-season the salmon with onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and thyme
  • Add about 3/4 cup of potato flakes to thicken soup
  • Shredded cheese
  • French's Fried Onions

Instructions

  1. Bring about 6 cups of water to a boil in large pot
  2. Peel and cube potatoes, then add to boiling water
  3. Boil for about 10 minutes or until tender (check with fork)
  4. Meanwhile, heat skillet with olive oil on medium heat
  5. Add salmon filets to skillet and cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through
  6. Once salmon is cooked, place it on a cutting board and cut into small pieces or shred
  7. Drain potatoes and return to pot
  8. Add evaporated milk and regular milk to pot (I poured enough milk to cover the potatoes by about and inch)
  9. Then add salmon, butter, garlic powder, and salt and pepper
  10. Cook uncovered on low/medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently
  11. Serve with shredded cheese and fried onions
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You can pair this delicious stew with some bacon sandwiches and cozy up next your honey and enjoy the crisp fall air! I hope you enjoy my recipe or maybe your own creation inspired by this one. See you again soon!

Malorie

We’ve got Egg Problems

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While homesteading can be a fun and rewarding experience, it like many other things comes with its challenges. Our most recent challenge (or should I say, mystery) is our chickens have ALL stopped laying eggs. With 10 chickens you would think we would get at least one egg a day! We are currently on our last dozen of eggs and I’m dreading paying $5, much less anything, for more eggs. My husband and I have been scratching our heads and hemming and hawing, trying to understand what could possible be happening. After ruling out a few theories we believe we have finally come to a conclusion. Unfortunately, it’s not a solution.

Our first guess as to why we weren’t getting any eggs was that something else might be getting to eggs first. We have already had issues with snakes and rats eating our eggs. The only difference this time is there is no evidence of any eggs ever being laid. The rats would normally try to eat the egg right out of the nesting box, leaving shell pieces and raw egg behind. The snake would typically leave some eggs behind and we found it was actually living inside the coop. This lead us to our next thought. Maybe they aren’t laying in their nesting boxes anymore. Several times we have found eggs hiding in the tall grass. We have ruled that one out by searching high and low with no luck. Unless the Easter Bunny is hoarding them.

Another possibility we thought, might be inadequate nutrition. Don’t worry, we aren’t neglecting or mistreating our chickens. We had recently decided to cut back on their grain feed to encourage them to forage for bugs and munch on plants. The space we have provided them is flush with weeds, wild flowers, and other plants. After much research, we found that pasture raised chickens are healthier and produce better, heartier eggs. It is possible that with our recent cutback it might have thrown them off. The only issue with this conclusion is we increased their grain to try to rule that. Obviously we haven’t seen any change.

Our last thought was that molting and a decrease in daylight may be the reason for our lack of eggs. Fall definitely came early this year and we started seeing more and more feathers on the ground. We thought for a while that the rooster and the male guinea might be picking on the girls, but we never saw any marks or blood on the chickens. A cold front came in about the same time we noticed we weren’t getting any eggs. There was rain for several days and very little sunlight. When chickens molt they are not able to lay eggs at the same time. Their bodies are restoring their plumage (feathers) and rejuvenating their reproductive systems. After the molting period is over the chickens should lay more productively. Unfortunately for us, the molting period lasts several weeks. I guess now it’s time to ask around for fresh eggs!

One thing I love about the homesteading life, is the opportunity to learn something new just outside your door. Between the chickens, goats, and the baby, we are constantly problem solving, trying to maintain a more simple and healthy lifestyle. I appreciate you taking the time to learn with us and I hope to see you again soon!

Malorie

Annabelle’s Birthday Bash!

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Howdy friends! Now that the confetti has settled, we are finally getting back into the swing of things. The party was an absolute success. For those of you who don’t know, we just celebrated our daughter’s first birthday. I have been slowly prepping for a few months now, shopping around at thrift stores and garage sales, thumbing through Pinterest, glittering, gluing, and spray painting. Needless to say I enjoyed the distraction. You know… from important things like laundry, vacuuming, and other house duties (gag). It was all worth it to gather good friends and family and watch my little one dig into her first cake. I thought in celebration I could give you a little peek inside the party and give you a few tips along the way!

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Theme

I can’t take all the credit for the planning of this party. A friend of mine has a daughter who’s birthday is the same week as Annabelle’s, so we decided to plan a joint party. After much deliberation we chose to go with a vintage theme using lace, teals, silver, and pink. We wanted the party to be dainty, simple, and girly of course! Our goal was to make the party the perfect setup for pictures, especially since she won’t ever remember it!

Tip: When choosing your party theme, you might consider something based on items you have already. Or find a piece that inspires you and work around that!

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Decorations

I spend a lot of time at thrift stores. Like, at least once a week. Most of the time I’m just browsing for good deals and interesting pieces, but the party allowed me to actually focus! I looked for lace, cake stands, candle holders, and any pretty knick knacks that could be repainted or revamped. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about where everything would go or how I would use it. I knew that I would be inspired along the way (or the day before the party). The most I spent on one item was $10! Most of my items were under $4. Even though I spent months finding decorations, I saved a lot of money and I was able to enjoy myself in the process. My last stop for necessities was Hobby Lobby and Walmart for plates, streamers, cups, and balloons.

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One of my favorite pieces we created with inspiration for the party, but also keep as a forever piece in our home was the beverage stand. It was a lot of fun to make. It all started on a weekly trip to Goodwill when I came across a nice wood changing table for $5. I couldn’t think of a use for it right then, but I just couldn’t pass up that good of a deal! I took it home and searched “Repurposed Changing Table” on Pinterest and came across the beverage stand. I spray painted it white and had a friend with that has a saw mill cut wood slats to line the shelves with. I tried a new technique that a friend recommended in order to make the new wood look aged. I used a steel wool and vinegar mixture. I soaked fine grade steel wool in white vinegar for 2 days and then brushed the liquid over the lightly sanded wood pieces. Slowly (a day later), but surely the color started changing giving it the perfect aged look! I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out, thanks to friends and the hubby we were able to finish it before the party!

Tip: When decorating, try to focus on one room or area. If you spread everything out it might look like you only have a few decorations here and there. If you put all in one room, it will look like you spent a lot more time and effort in your planning (even if you really only spent a week).

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Food

Food was one thing I wanted to keep simple for the party. We scheduled it for after lunch time, so we provided light snacks and lots of sweets of course. We made ham and cheese sliders, cucumber squares, and fruit and veggie trays. For drinks I went with pink lemonade (because it’s girly) and sweet tea.

Tip: Choose things that you can prep the night before or that will take less than 15 minutes to prep and cook the day of. There’s no shame in opening a bag and throwing it in a bowl. It’s not a rehearsal dinner 🙂

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All in all, I just wanted everyone (myself included) to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. Planning a party for a one year old can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. You can plan every little detail, but we all know things can change. Just keep in mind who the party is for. It shouldn’t be about the joy you get from successfully pulling off 3 month planned party. It should be about the joy in your baby’s eyes and the loved ones you are surrounded by. The rest is just a bonus. Thanks again for reading. See you next week!

Malorie

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