i’m still here …

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it’s been a whirlwind. in august i decided to go back to school. crazy. i must have been taking some kind of crazy pills that day. it really did all get decided in one day and then boom, after starting college …ahem… awhile ago i went back. i am taking digital photography and finally learning something i want to learn about. it’s every bit as hard as i thought it would be and more to take classes online and some in person, be a mom, be a wife, work part time from home and have a husband who is working two jobs and going to school full time.

it’s alot.

it’s just a season though and in march my husband starts student teaching and then he graduates in june. what a glorious day that will be. some kind of party is definitely in order i do believe. so we have a little girl now, no more baby, she’s a toddler 1 1/2 to be exact as of this week. she’s getting into everything. we found 5 gum wrappers on the floor yesterday after she had apparently decided to raid my purse and eat 5 pieces of sugar free gum. running around after her, doing my job and trying to squeeze in school and taking pictures whenever i can doesn’t leave room for much else like cleaning or writing here. i am doing some writing over here though, talking about going to school for photography and other stuff. i’m still here, i’m not giving up on this blog, i’m just trying to get through this season and learn all i can so we can go new places.

It’s Still Happening …

My husband is seriously on a roll with this cooking business. I am thrilled but almost afraid to be too excited in case it ever ends!

I’ve always loved eating out and it’s been hard for me to get excited about the seeming monotony of eating at home pretty much every night as an adult. I love to cook for guests and parties but as much as I hate to admit it I have never been great at coming up with an exciting week of menus for the home. I tend to get stuck on making the same things over and over which is funny because I crave variety in food to the point that a bowl of pasta gets boring and mundane to me before I reach the bottom. Give me a little of this and a little of that, a buffet, small bites that add up to an colorful and delicious plate. This however is a whole new world, the opposite of boring.

It reminds me of living with my Dad when I was growing up. He is a fantastic cook and was always coming up with something delicious and interesting … Oysters Rockefeller, Linguine with Clam Sauce, German night with Sausage and Sauerkraut, Mexican night, grill outs, Sunday suppers with chicken slow roasted in a clay pot. Whether he was cooking or teaching me to love raw oysters on the half shell at 8 or 9 years old food was never boring growing up with him. Not to mention I grew up in the South where food is almost a religion.

So I thought I’d share a little of what this has been looking like in our house. Just so you know we are most definitely on a tight budget and also trying to use up some things in the cabinet and make the most of leftovers. Here’s what we are having this week:

Monday – Mini pizzas, half with pesto and mozzarella and half with pizza sauce, red pepper flakes, pepperoni and a mix of mozzarella and provolone.

Tuesday – Marinated Grilled Chicken with garlic and herbs, Grilled Corn on the Cob & a Italian Salad

Wednesday – Homemade Fried Rice with Chicken

Thursday – Colombian BBQ Flank Steak Tacos with Aji and Guacamole

Friday – Mexican Taco Night with a friend coming over for dinner! (Utilizing the rest of the corn tortillas (which we always fry in oil and salt) but this time doing one of our old stand bys … typical Tex-Mex style tacos with seasoned ground beef, sour cream, cheddar cheese, tomatos, lettuce, olives and green peppers for extra flavor and crunch. You can never go wrong with Taco Night.)

Saturday – Watermelon, Feta, Steak and Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad with Arugula (utilizing leftover Steak from Thursday night)

Nathan made this Colombian Beer-Marinated Flank Steak with Aji and Guacamole with a Watermelon & Feta salad (pictured above with a Lime Spritzer I love to make … so easy just lime juice and seltzer water) on the side a couple weeks ago and it was seriously one the best meals I have ever had. We loved it so much he is incorporating and varying it in some other dishes this week. So this is how we are doing it. I don’t even miss eating out. I also love that fact that my little Byrdie just eats whatever we eat and is learning to love a variety of spices, flavors and textures! We are saving money, discovering new things, my husband is turning into an amazing cook and we are having fun in the process!

Working Mama

My little Byrdie turned one last week but I’ll tell you more about that later. For now I just wanted to say that I love my job. I love being a stay at home Mom and I am very blessed to have a little part time gig too. I work for Genre Creative – assisting on photo shoots, running our new photobooth The Soap Box, writing blogs, updating social media and whatever else my friend Robin needs help with. It can never be said enough … when you love what you do you will never work a day in your life. I love this job and having worked jobs I didn’t love by varying degrees I can truly say I that I am thankful from the bottom of my heart. Plus I am learning more about photography and I get to run a photobooth! I’ve come a long way since I wrote this. So between being a wife, mommy, work, my Etsy store and this blog … things are a quite busy! I will be posting here more often though so don’t give up on me. For today I leave with you a couple of fun pics from the photobooth at my little Byrdie’s birthday party.

goldiestereo on Etsy!

After 4 years or more of dreaming, making notes and lists, talking about it, thinking about it … it’s finally here! My Etsy store is up and running with vintage housewares and other items like retro board games and gift wrap. It may seem like a small thing but it’s a dream come true for me. I love going to yard sales, estate sales, thrift stores and finding treasures. Those things I want to keep for myself but just can’t justify or find the room. I can’t just leave them there so I am sharing them with you. Sometimes you go out and there’s alot of things you could buy but I try to only select things that I like so much I would almost rather keep it for myself. If you love mid century modern, if you love quirky kitsch then I hope you will love my store. Let me know what you think? Have something you have been looking for? Let me know perhaps I can find it for you. I look forward to hearing from you! I’ll be adding more items soon!



Pennies

The other day I was watching “The View” and they were talking about ways to save money, get things free, etc. Some of the ladies seemed a little embarrassed about using coupons. That surprised me. I have had an unusual life I would say. I’ve never been rich but there were moments of plenty growing up and times of poverty. For several years it was just me and my Mom and were were BROKE. It was a big treat for us to scrape together .99 cents to go get a Frosty at Wendy’s. You know what though? When we got that Frosty we savored every bite. That time in life taught me to appreciate what you have. We would go to the library and for free through books we could travel the world. We would make treats at home like putting Coke in a cup in the freezer and making our own icy treats. I would not trade those experiences for all the money in the world because they taught me to appreciate the little things and find the joy in the every day. I heard a quote from Kirk Cobain once that I’ve never forgotten. He said that having alot of money was really great in alot of ways, to be able to buy whatever you want but he missed going to a thriftstore and getting so excited over finding some treasure for a little bit of cash.

As a new Mom I hope to teach my daughter to appreciate things as well. Even if we had a ton of money I think I’d still use coupons. It just makes sense! Why spend more than you have to? Why pay more if you can get it for less. A friend of mine said her wealthy father always told her as she grew up, “You never have so much money that you can afford to waste it”.

I’ve started using coupons more and more. I’ve discovered that you can save alot with them and even get things for free! I love saving money, finding a deal and especially getting things free! There are already alot of really good sites out there that explain it, do it and show better than I could so I’ll just give you some links:

http:www.moneysavingmom.com

http://www.grocerycouponguide.com

At first I was really overwhelmed when I started reading about coupons. There are all these stories of women who stockpile and get $200 worth of groceries for like $40. It seems really complicated and time consuming at first. So I decided to just start where I am at, with very little time to do this and with my Sunday Paper and the Internet. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you really get deals when you use coupons for stuff that’s already on sale. I’m not a hardcore coupon Mom yet, planning my meals based on whats on sale but with minimal effort I’ve already gotten some stuff for free and some great deals! Basically sites like moneysavingmom.com do the work for you and show you what stores have on sale and what coupons to use to get great deals or free things. It’s awesome! I try to check the website for the deals that week before I go to the store and see if there’s anything I need.

For example, I got a ton of formula coupons in the mail after the baby was born. Formula is crazy expensive. However, one day I noticed that there were a bunch of cans of liquid formula on the clearance rack at the grocery store. (I have since realized that is a great place to find deals!). Those cans are normally over $4 each and they were marked down to $2.25 each. With my coupons I managed to get about a dozen cans for .25 cents! They were marked down because the brand was changing it’s packaging! Nothing wrong with them at all!

Not coupon related but I also got several really good quality bags of granola for $1 each. It’s been perfect for something I can eat quickly in the morning while my hands are full with a baby. I was able to get a package of noodles for free and a can of baked beans as well. Every little bit counts!

It actually kind of fun for me to find these deals it’s like a treasure hunt. I try not to overthink it or put to much pressure on it so it stays that way and doesn’t become stressful. This to me is what finding the beauty in every day life is about. Finding the fun in every day activities.

Do you use coupons? Any tips or ideas you want to share?

The Big Announcement

One week from today my little Byrdie will be 12 weeks old. One week from today is also the day I would be going back to work….if I were going back to work. That’s the big announcement. I have decided to be a Stay At Home Mom. I don’t have to tell you that it’s a huge decision to go from two incomes down to one.

So that’s the big announcement and here’s the big question…….how are we going to do it? When I started this blog I wanted to write about how to live a beautiful life without spending alot of money. Now here is my chance to really live it out. We are broke. I mean really broke. However, I am not afraid! I know this is the best choice for me and our family and I trust that God is guiding our steps and He will provide. I also know we have to be really smart about this and do our part.

So here we go. This is our new adventure. How do you go from two incomes to one with a new baby and still live a beautiful life. That’s the challenge and I want to document it here. So where do I begin?

Let me just say that I fully realize we have some advantages. First of all we live in the United States and for that we are blessed with alot of resources. Second of all we were able to save up some money while we were both working so we have that going for us. Another advantage is apart from school loans we have no debt (and let me tell you we worked hard to get to that place). Let’s get really practical. Earlier this year I was able to purchase a small freezer full of organic, grass fed beef from a local farmer.

How are we going to make this work? Did I mention my husband is working full time and going to school full time to become a teacher? Did I mention that very soon his class schedule will require him to quit his job and work part time? Did I mention that we will then have to figure out health insurance and go down to 1/4 of our original income? My husband has about a year of school left and then student teaching before he can become a teacher.

This is going to get interesting.

So in addition to the other things I’ve already mentioned in other posts, this blog is about our new adventure. Here’s a couple things we are doing. The first thing I did was apply for WIC. That process is a whole other post for another day! I am clipping coupons and trying to figure out how some women get $200 worth of groceries for $40! I’m also looking for something I can do from home to make some extra money. Who knows maybe enough people will read my blog that I can sell some advertising. (Please?!?!) I’m cooking at home and we don’t go out to eat nonstop like we used to (DINK!). I also still have plans for my Etsy store and for my photography. So there are things on the horizon.

It’s a new day. I believe very strongly in working hard and paying bills on time, we are just adjusting the way we do that these days.