DIY Counter in Laundry

So Jay’s been busy building some tables that we’ve actually been selling on craigslist (woo hoo for handy husband’s with carpentry skills!) and while he was fiddling with those, I asked him, pretty please if he could create a counter top for the laundry room since we’ve had virtually no storage in here for the past 18-months. It was time, as Rafiki would say. He’s a wise baboon, no? (I blame my 2-year old for any Disney references on this blog)

Y’all saw our current laundry room (and upstairs hall) in last week’s post, but here is a quick snap shot in case you’re like me and forget anything that didn’t happen in the last 30 minutes.

Laundry_Closet_Design_Ideas

So while Jay was building away, he crafted this little counter, which has a few notches in the back to account for the electrical and plumbing behind the washer and the dryer.

These are just 10″x10′ pine boards y’all – to the tune of $9 each at Home Depot, so this entire project was under $30. Woot!

DIY_Laundry_Countertop

So although we DID account for the notches we had to make in the back, apparently we did not account for the fact that there was a wall on either side of this sucker cause y’all – ummmmm – our walls be looking rough after we got this thing (finally) wedged into place. We probably should have just taken it downstairs and cut an 1/8th inch off the side but I (true to form) was rearing to go and wanted this in place without hauling out the saw (again).

Luckily it was mostly just scuffing (there was a staple on the end of one of the wood pieces, doy!) and with some paint touch up it looks fine, but I was a bit stressed out about it during install. Jay can attest to that 😉

DIY_Laundry_Room

We used a vinegar and steel wool concoction that is a natural way to age wood quickly. We just used this tutorial and overall, we’re super happy with the way things turned out.

DIY_Pine_Counter_Top

This did require a lot of experimenting, and I’d highly recommend testing it on scrap wood before you go ahead and put it all over your entire finished piece. It’s a bit of a science experiment, and will come out different each time you do it (based on how much steel wool you use, and how long you let it sit, etc) so test it out before hand. You can always dilute it to get a slightly less dark look.

DIY_Pine_Countertop

And a wider angle view so you can see some of the color variation on the counter.

Inexpensive_Laundry_Updates

Over time I’d love to add some shelves but it took us a year + to get around to the counter, so don’t hold your breath on an update any time *too* soon in that department 😉

Pine_Counter_Top_DIY

Super easy, darn cheap, and heyo – chic too! Pretty happy with this upgrade for a weekend, a saw, and thirty bucks!!

One last look at the improved space.

Farmhouse_Laundry_Room

And the before!

Renovating Small Laundry Room

Life Takes Courage

courageous

Y’all, life comes at your kinda fast sometimes. Case in point – pregnancy #2. It didn’t even feel real to me you guys, I just knew, based on peeing on a stick that another baby was in route. So I go to the first ultrasound, of course (for me at least) these interim steps of a pregnancy are always pretty stressful so naturally you sigh a relief when the baby measures alright and the heartbeat is there and they check all the proverbial boxes. A few days later I went in for my routine visit with the Dr. after the ultrasound and she sorta chortled that my medical history was so insignificant that we were all good to go, see you in a month, yada yada. As she was leaving the room, she mentioned that a student would be coming in to tell me about a research study. I’m just thanking Jesus the pap smear is done and kinda absentmindedly nod my head at something else that sounds routine, and frankly, sorta like a pain (ahh research hospitals, if you’ve delivered in one, you know what I mean…)

So this young grasshopper of a Dr. comes in and tells me all about a research study they’re doing where they’re testing women for something called CMV – essentially a cold that won’t go away that can be potentially dangerous to the nugget growing in utero. It’s totally free to participate so I say what the heck, sure, I’ve basically had a cold since I delivered my first one 2-years ago (so. many. germs) and I think nothing of it. She tells me they’ll call me in 2-3 days if I test positive and not to worry – that like.01% of the women they test pop up and get flagged for having a primary transmission (or first time of getting the virus), while pregnant, or immediately prior to becoming pregnant.

A week goes by and life is so busy it’s completely out of my head y’all when I start getting calls from Chapel-Hill (where the research hospital is located). I don’t recognize the number, so I let it go to voicemail – forget about it – and a day later, they call me 3 more times, the third time I answer. The research nurse goes right into it – within the first few sentences I’m starting to feel my heart drop y’all. Shit, I think. I know you. I know who you are. I’m thinking back to my conversations with the research assistant the week before and the words 40% transmission rate and neurological damage are sticking out, like hot, glaring, neon danger signs in my head. So I hear maybe 10% of what she says and I try to piece together some brain cells to process what I need to do next – and to what degree I should panic. So she sets me up with a high risk OB at my medical system and off I go to get an ultrasound and learn more about what to do – which is basically – sit around and wait for the fate of this little baby.

I had a full day to read the internet before my appointment, so of course, that provides ample fodder for basically the worst possible outcomes. I learned some positive things, like first trimester pregnancy have a lower transmission rate (20% – since umbilical cord is not fully established) but also some really scary things, like if the child tests positive, a first trimester infection has a 24% chance of leading to severe hearing issues (deafness) and a 32% chance of leading to neurological issues like mental retardation, cerebral palsy, blindness and seizures. Reading over reports you see things like “If contracted in the first trimester, patient should be consulted on pregnancy termination options” – so yes – this is pretty real deal stuff we’re dealing with and a pretty big pivot from my pregnancy with H which was healthy and uneventful and full of frozen pizzas. Ok, the frozen pizza part will probs remain unchanged (let’s be honest).

I’m *lucky* in the sense that the research team that approached me about testing my blood for the virus is also looking at a randomized treatment option, which has been studied for nearly a decade, and shows significant promise for curing and preventing infection of children in utero. It’s frustrating however, since the treatment option is completely randomized, I only have a 50/50 shot of receiving the CMV hyperimmune globulin (HIG), and a 50/50 shot of getting a placebo. The results are nearly unanimous that this treatment works, but the sample clinical size is still too small for them to proceed with offering this in anything other than a trial form. It’s humbling, and scary, to be at the mercy of a large, bureaucratic, and broken health care system. I think about things now like – will this child have a pre-existing condition at birth? What will that mean for them? What will that mean for us?

So right now, we’re tracking the pregnancy closely, and once a month I will go to UNC hospital and receive a 5-7 hour infusion treatment where they (God willing) administer the HIG (vs. placebo) into my blood stream, and I’ll sit there and think about this baby – and wonder about what they’ll look like – and who they’ll be – and how this world will impact them and how they will impact this world. Testing positive for this virus is actually so rare that I am the only participant in the region that is actively pregnant – so I will be the only patient receiving treatment for it at present. Only 10-15% positive cases will exhibit symptoms in an uttrasound, so unless I get an amnio done around 21-weeks, we won’t know if we’re looking at a positive or negative diagnosis until birth, and even then, if they test positive, they could be asymptomatic at birth and lead a very normal, healthy life. If they do exhibit symptoms, that could put them on a much more difficult trajectory with potentially severe disabilities including compromised neurological function.

Y’all Jay and I have talked a lot about this, obviously, and it’s been a heart breaking week for us. So much uncertainty but also so much hope that this child is meant for this world and is meant to be a positive agent of change within it. Sobbing through tears of anger and disappointment and fear this week – I looked up at Jay and told him, I don’t want a child that’s severely disabled, I don’t want a vegetable that lacks an ability to interact and explore and understand and impact this world. But more than that, I feel this deep, deep calm within me that this child IS meant for this world and it’s not my job to decide or intervene in that process, rather, as their parent, it’s my job to tell them, from 11-weeks out, that I believe in you child. That I am your biggest advocate, that I’m always in your corner and that I know you are fierce, I know you are strong, and I know that you are capable of fighting this (and any other battles that come your way in this world) and of persevering through to join us come February.

I keep seeing in my mind, the ultrasound image of this child kicking and moving so healthy in my womb. I have a little profile shot of them ready to go for my desk come Monday – I can already see my little H in the profile. We are family, and families stick together.

A few facts on CMV for woman who are, or are considering becoming pregnant:

  • Did you know you have an up to 50% chance of contracting this virus if you have a child under 2 in childcare (germs!) 😉
  • You’re not supposed to kiss your kiddos while pregnant (lol, right) or share food with them – apparently the germs can be transmitted this way (I can think of a few slobbery smooches that came my way that may have been the culprit)
  • Wash your hands extra vigilantly when pregnant, always a good policy – but taking extra precautions when pregnant never hurts!
  • Most woman of child bearing age have contracted CMV before – if it’s not a primary infection (first time you’ve had it) you’re incredibly less likely to pass along to fetus (like less than 1%). If you’re considering becoming pregnant, you could ask for a test from your OB to see if your CMV negative, and have never had the antibodies. If not, you’d want to be extra vigilant during pregnancy

Laundry, These Days

So y’all saw some of our laundry room in this post – it was actually our first project here in the house where we installed some subway tile and dark grout (my first time trying a darker grout – I like it!). Here is a progress shot of that room, probably about a year ago now, right after we installed the tile.

Subway Tile Slate Floor Laundry

And if you want to go way back – here it is when we moved in. This green color was in all the rooms upstairs and y’all, it had to go 😉

Laundry Room Closet Renovation

Here’s what we’ve been rocking for 2017 so far.

Laundry_Closet_Design_Ideas

The tops of the washer and dryer do act as a counter more or less, but there are gaps all over the place and I’ve been wanting to get something in there there was more finished (ie a real counter top).

High_Efficiency_Laundry_Sale

One thing I really love about the laundry room / closet (?) is this hanging rack which is where we try to air dry as much clothing as possible. I swear with a child I feel like I’m constantly doing laundry and I wanted to think of small ways we could make a dent in our utility bill so we’ve been air drying most shirts and all bed sheets. I’ve found that sheets actually dry *better* on our stair railing (within 30 minutes if laid out enough) than they did in the dryer since they’d always get tangled up with other articles of clothing and come out moist after an hour + of drying – so if you haven’t tried air drying some of your laundry you should definitely do it!

Drying_Rack_In_Laundry

Notice in the inspiration board below that there are a few elements still missing from our room? While Jay and I (mostly Jay) have been working on a counter top and y’all – spoiler. it turned out great and was insanely cheap. Details next week! (that much closer to a finish space!)

Here is my inspiration board for reference.

Laundry Room Mood Board

Lovely Little Cottage

Y’all – I had to share the gorgeous little cottage that popped up down the street from us. It’s listed as for sale by owner, and the couple listing appear to be photo profs, so instead of crappy MLS photos, I give you … some serious gorgeousness coming right up 😉

Charcoal Front Door

I’m obsessed with this light fixture – classic.

Bamboo Chairs in Dining

Cozy Living Room

Perfect light and bright touches throughout the entire house.

Console Table Styling

Eat In Dining Room

Because all of our kitchen sinks look like this (obvi) every day 😉

Farmhouse Kitchen Sink

I love how this budget kitchen renovation looks like a million bucks. It just shows that classic details always make a house look so fine, and really don’t have to break the budget. (butcher top island, less expensive range, etc)

Budget Kitchen Renovation

Open Shelves in Kitchen

Office in Kitchen

Smallish bedrooms, but I’m all about bedrooms as utility space (you just sleep in there, so if there is enough room for a bed, it checks the box for me)

Master Bedroom

Lots of character throughout the house, little details like the antique mirrors in the bathrooms help to ramp up the awesome factor a bit!

Antique Mirror in Bathroom

Another less expensive reno in here with a hex floor tile and subway tiles. They made it look high end with custom details like the bump out (ins?) for shampoo and that linen shower curtain (love it).

Subway Tile Shower

Guest Room

What is it with this fam and sick mirrors. This is their laundry room. Sigh.

Antique Mirror in Bath

Mud Room Styling

If the house wasn’t sweet enough, they have a shed out back that is used as an office. I’d add a bath and rent that thing out til kingdom come :) Isn’t it adorable!

Finished Shed for Office

Sure has a fixer upper vibe, right?

Wood Beams in Office

Fixer Upper Style Office

Pretty sweet little shack, huh? I’m ready to move in! 😀

Raleigh Real Estate

When One House To Reno Isn’t Enough

Every time I type this, or think this, or say this my armpits get sweaty and I question my sanity. You guys – we’ve hard core branched out of our comfort zone and bought ourselves a whole other house, with a whole other mortgage. And for most people that have read this blog for a while you’re probably thinking – you’re moving again?! And for once, the answer is no – we’re not. We’re just becoming landlords.

Sayyyy whaattt?? I know – I know!? It’s crazy. But when one house to renovate just isn’t enough to make your heart happy, y’all, you go out and buy another one. Right? Oh – I’m the only one that does that?? 😀 So long story short, we bought the cutest little townhouse down in Cary, NC, which is a hop skip and a jump from our abode here in Raleigh. Overall, this joint is cute as a button, updated and ready to move in right now – which is great, because frankly with a two year old and our own renovations always swirling, we were not looking for a tear it out and replace deal.

Cary Townhome

Out of privacy for the people that live here, I’ll not be posting a ton of photos of the new place but will definitely include any updates we do to it here on the blog. In the next few years I’d like to renovate the bathrooms and do a few other things here and there over time. Ultimately, if y’all remember this post, here, where I discussed some of our longer and mid-term financial goals, we’re hoping that this investment will helps us to move toward a future where we can call the shots a bit more and have an income source beyond the 9-5. That’s LONG TERM though folks, so for now, we’re just crossing our fingers that someone signs on the dotted line to pay the mortgage each month.

Now we did not go into this decision lightly – we talked about it and thought about it and sat on it for a few months before we contacted our realtor (who is amazing, if you live in Raleigh or want to live in Raleigh let me know and I’ll hook you up) to help us find a place.

Cary Greenway System
Luckily we live in a county that has an influx of 64 people a day right now by some estimates, so it’s been growing quickly and the demand for rentals is very high as people relocate from out of state of different job opportunities. We’re excited about this locale in particular since it’s very close to downtown Cary and is easily bikable via their greenway system into the heart of their little town which has an increasing number of shops and restaurants and breweries and is really becoming a fun little town! We pretty much bike or bus everywhere in our house, so it was important for us (personally) to buy a property that we felt someone could live a car light lifestyle in. We’re excited to get to know it better over the years of owning this property.

The Pharmacy Bottle Shop

One thing for sure – this is totally new territory for us! Wish us luck you guys – we’re going to need it! Anyone else out there branched out into landlord/rental world? Trying to decide if I’ve totally lost my marbles (leaning toward yes?)

Farmhouse Table + Flowers

Our house was pretty landscaped when we moved in a year ago, and with a 2-year old, and an interior I wanted to get cracking on, we’ve literally done nothing – like nothing – to the outside of the house. Well I guess Jay did trim the bushes once last year – ha! But that’s been it! Oh and he’s built this table, which I’m obsessed with. Plan from Ana White, here.

Farmhouse Style Table

So this planter and been growing away over time … by now, it’s a bit overgrown. We had some basil in there that we transplanted into a small planter we keep in the kitchen for cooking.

Brick_Planter_Landscaping_Before

I’ve always loved the look of houses with tons and tons of hydrangeas all over the place. That or peonies but now that I have a kiddo and ants like never leave my life (ummm food crumbs all the time), the thought of a plant that attracts ants is not something I’m mojoing for too much.

We have a tiny little courtyard around our house, so I’d really like to give it a bit more of “us” character over time, and get rid of some of these tall wacky trees we have planted all over the place.

Tall_Bushes_Landscaping

These are some of the images that I swoon over when thinking about designing our backyard space.

Couryard_Patio_Plantings

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Do you think I could get away with turning our house into a tree, a la the photo above? I think Jay might fa-reak out 😉

Or what about turning the house into a bush, like this photo? Maybe I should just paint it green with a faux finish 😉 Something about that ivy/plantings growing over the wall just makes a space look old and lived in, I think. I love it!

Courtyard_Plantings

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Or this one (that table is a bit too weathered for my liking), but the droves of hydrangeas is definitely something I can get behind. And that charcoal shed tucked in the corner – mmm hmmm. Nice. Hydrangea_Backyard_Courtyard

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So one small step toward this oh so lovely vision was to turn our planter introduced at the beginning of this post, into a small spot for some hydrangeas to grow. We picked up two from Home Depot this weekend, and y’all I am so excited to watch these babies grow. Down here in NC things do grow pretty fast, so hopefully they take off quickly!

Hydrangea_Bush_Starters

I’m desperately hoping I don’t kill these beauties – I found this article helpful – and others attempting to grow hydrangeas may as well!

Next up, a porch swing (?) and some dark navy paint perhaps a la this photo. It hurts my heart I love this photo THAT much.

Outdoor Porch Swing

{Source}

When I Feel Like Spending Money I Do This Instead

Frugal_Living

So I thought this would be a fitting follow up to the post last week on our financial goals because y’all, the biggest secret to staying on track with our money goals is hands down not spending money. I know – it’s not super exciting and it’s rather straight forward, but that’s the long and the short of it.

I mentioned in the last post that I’m a firm believer that there are seasons in your life and I think we all know – some are more expensive than others. Not going to lie, the day when my first born starts kindergarten will be a bittersweet day. I mean, my child will be five – he will be more than a quarter done with his days living under my roof – but he will also be out of daycare, and yo, that place is expensive. Seasons where we’ve spent more money than others include: renovating our houses, moving across the country, birthing and raising our children – but I’ve looked to all of these as investments – one way or another, they all paid off in spades.

I’ve learned that there are a few ways to set yourself up for success with money and there are ways to bite it. I’ve actually turned the challenge of not buying things into a bit of a game. Sure – I could go to Chuckie Cheese and make the kid go coocoo for coco puffs or I could go to the park and play basketball with Henry! Sure, I could go out and buy a special dessert for tonight since the weather is so beautiful and it feels like the best idea EVER, or I could look around our cabinets for ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies. Or, I feel like my house needs something, I want to go out and buy throw pillows – but instead I’ll wash the floor (lol – does this just make you judge me? Legit, y’all I KNOW if you read this blog that you know that I sometimes go out and buy those throw pillows) 😉

In all seriousness though – it’s truly about finding ways to be happy with what you’ve already got, and challenge yourself and ask – Do I really need X. Or even, do I really WANT X – and the answer to each is totally fine if it’s yes, because truth be told, y’all – I enjoy shopping. I like get a little buzz like the rest of America when I go out and get things. It’s fun! But saving money is super fun too, and there are ways to stretch out your dollar as far as possible by being critical of every purchase you make. Give yourself 24 hours to wait it out for anything that falls into the category of non essentials. And if throw pillows fall into the category of essentials any given day – y’all – I do not judge. 😀

Here is a list of 40 things you can do, without spending ANY money. Get it girrrrlll (as my best frugal friend, would say xoxo)

  1. Go outside! Walk/run/stroll/skip – enjoy your surroundings
  2. Clean your house
  3. Call your mother. (just do it)
  4. Find something fun to eat/make with ingredients in your house
  5. Explore a new part of your city
  6. Go to the library
  7. Learn how to make something new
  8. Talk to your kids
  9. Write down goals
  10. Do yoga (youtube has free yoga!)
  11. Organize your closets
  12. Weed your yard
  13. Read a book
  14. Find a frugal blog and get inspired
  15. Change the oil on your car
  16. Go window shopping (but don’t buy)
  17. Ride your bike
  18. Purge items you don’t need
  19. Call your dad! (just do it)
  20. Scan pinterest for DIY ideas
  21. Play with your child (get down on their level and PLAY!)
  22. Go through/clean your coat closet (check pockets for goodies)
  23. Organize your garage
  24. Think of ways to make money – write down 5 ideas
  25. Walk the dog
  26. Build something
  27. Do a family plank challenge
  28. Dust the furniture
  29. Organize your junk drawer (you never know what you might find!)
  30. Look around your house for things to sell
  31. Volunteer
  32. Sip Wine on the Porch (does this count as spending money – probs – I cheat when it comes to wine)
  33. Do 20 squats (werk off that wine, y’all!)
  34. Meet your Neighbors
  35. Build Something
  36. Try a New Hairstyle
  37. Clean your fridge
  38. Plan a Frugal Vacation
  39. Write in a journal
  40. Meditate

Life By the Numbers

Best_Budgeting_Advice_Millennials

Y’all do you ever feel like you’re so clear on something that it’s just your marching orders and your life calling card. The last few months I’ve been feeling like that about our finances. On. A. Mission. Working our butts off to create the future we want. And 6-months or so in to our new regime (we started the beginning of the year), I’m feeling fairly obsessed with our modifications. Have y’all heard of Mr. Money Mustache? He’s a fairly famous lad with the frugal nuts of the world and his personal tale is one where he saved a significant portion of his income and essentially retired after 10 years of working.

So literally, my new {personal} life mission is to create a life where we can be on our own watch as soon as possible. IE not working for the man, unless we feel like it. :) Frankly, I love my job, so I’m not in a huge hurry to trade in my cards in life. But then, I love my bambino, and I think he’s pretty awesome as well – so, it’s all about finding that balance right?

I’ve been feeling inspired by some of the changes we’ve been making here around our house that are (hopefully) setting us up for a really solid financial future, and I wanted to share a few things with y’all that we’ve found really have been game changers for us. So starting January 1, we started making sure we had atleast half of our income, 50% of it, going straight into retirement account. We’ve always tried to be really good about saving our money, but when I sat down late last year and did the math, I realized we were only saving about 15% of our income, and the more I read blogs like Mr. Money Mustache, I started to realize that was whoafully insignificant for what our financial goals are.

I think different seasons of your life, have different needs. Our first 6 or 7 years as a married couple we were all star savers in many respects, but the money was always going toward saving up for a house, or buying a car, etc. Now that we’ve got those things – ie house, car – we feel like those boxes have been checked for us and we’re able to move on to different things.

So there are some upsides to aggressively saving for retirement, namely the ability to use all the contributions made to a 401k, 457 plan and IRA as tax deductions. So for every $1 you put into these accounts, you’re off the hook on that amount of taxes each year. So that’s sweet (basically brings your tax bracket down). The downside (IMO) is that almost all this money is not truly utilizable until you’re 65, or 62 or like – when you’re OLD basically. It will be a long while before we can touch that moola. I’m lucky at my work that I have something called a 457 plan, which enables you to use those funds as soon as you leave your place of employment – ie, if I “retire” from my current job at 40, we could start drawing down from that fund as an income supplement. But even with traditional retirement assets (if your employer doesn’t offer a 457) there are ways to diversify your retirement savings so that you have liquid assets to grab when you want or need. For us, that’s our Roth IRA, which is the retirement account we’ve been contributing to since we were married. At any point you can use your principal from that account for anything – since it’s put in post tax, the principal is your money to use whenever you want it.

So anyway, blah, blah, blah – woo hoo, saving money is great. But how in bloody hell do you get to a point where you can save 50% of your income, you ask. Extremely valid question, and grasshopper, I’ll tell you, I think it took me a solid 7 years to get to this point, but the basic premise is don’t buy stuff you don’t need. Patent pending on that nugget of life advice, but you guys, sometimes the simplest answer is all there is to it. Some tools I’ve found pretty helpful for our household.

  • Create some type of budget or expectation of where you want your money to go, and stick to it by allocating the remainder into your savings account. 

Not particularly revolutionary or sexy, but y’all, if you don’t have an idea of where your money is going, I can guarantee you, it’s not going to the right places.

Anything that doesn’t go toward our monthly expenses and retirement goes into short term emergency fund – which right now is only like a hundred bucks each month, so all and all we keep things pretty tight (purposefully) which keeps us as accountable as possible. So I actually don’t track against what we spend each month in each category – persay – I just know each dollar we spend since in all honesty, we don’t spend all that many. Like our grocery shopping is done once a week – I know if I stay under $100, we’ll be on track for my (general) goal of $400 a month. So I don’t obsess over it, but I am very aware of it.

  • Autodraft money to go straight into your savings accounts (ie retirement, stocks, bonds, wherever).

Treat that money like it was never yours to spend – and you’ll never miss it. In fact, you’ll gleefully watch as it turns into more and more money – much better than spending it! :)

  • Identify triggers that you know are going to mess with your budget.

Going back to the grocery shopping example, I try to meal plan and only run to the grocery store once per week. I find it easier to track the expense that way and we don’t get nickle and dimed with this and that and the other thing. $20 here and $30 there adds up quick and will blow your “$400” grocery line pretty quick.

  • Buy EVERYTHING used

In all honesty, I could get better in this category but I’ve found that there is virtually no reason to buy 99% of what we use new. Other than food (obviously) our clothes, furniture, bikes, cars, house – all used with very few exceptions. It encourages you to be more methodical about your spending and also makes me wait for stuff I really don’t need. Things I know we will need (like 4T clothes for my 2T tyke) are always things I buy as far in advance as possible. So plan ahead for necessities and everything else you just got to wait for :)

  • Be easy on yourself

Set manageable goals and don’t beat yourself up when you screw something up. Y’all, I remember the first year of our marriage – ya know zero money saved up, student loans coming from every angle and just the stress of a brand new marriage – I lost it over forgetting to use a coupon at the check out lane. I like thought the world was going to end. But you know, it didn’t, and I was out like a dollar. Maybe even fifty cents 😉 I wanted so much to be able to stick with my plan that I lost it over that slight deviation. But you guys – the thing is about this frugal path Jay and I chose is that it’s about the long view man. I didn’t know that when I was 22, but that’s the truth. You can’t fret about small blimps along the way, you just get true to that path and you’re fine. Things happen with finances – you have good days and bad days, more abundant years and really tight ones. It’s all about laying the groundwork with the right mentality and a solid foundation.

Whew – so that was sorta long, but I hope a smidge helpful to at least one person out there! I’m curious to hear what others do to keep their financial goals on track. Do you guys have any nuggets of information that y’all have found really helpful for your household in making the numbers work each month, or different strategies you’ve used to save more? Would love to hear!

There are some really great blogs if you want to start to fine tune your finances – my two current faves are Frugal Woods and Mr. Money Mustache.

 

Library Lights

So for all of you with an eagle eye, you probably noticed that although our dining room is much improved from before, that there are still something missing from the picture below:

Built_In_Bookcase_Dining_Room

If you noticed that a million dollars sitting out on display on our fine new buffet line was missing, I noticed that too, but alas this is not the item from the picture that we’re talking about replacing on today’s post. Bummer.

It’s the light sconces missing from above the bookcase. Notice it? Yeah, those fancy electrical boxes chilling up above our new crown.

I’ve hunted high and low and up and down for some good old library lights so our joint could look snazzy, like this picture. Swoon.

Builtin_Bookcase_with_Grasscloth

Or this one… wish I had the guts to paint our trim dark blue – amazing (but perhaps a tad darker would be even better – more charcoal?)

Blue_Painted_Builtin_Bookcsae

So since I’ve looked all over this green earth for lights, I thought I’d share with y’all some of the best (and most affordable) options I stumbled across during my hunt. I noticed that two of them popped up over $50 (must have been on sale when I started the search), but these are all super affordable options compared to some of the fancier brands out there where a library light can run well over $300 (!)

Affordable Library Lights

Electric LeClair LightVintage Retro Cage LightIndustrial Edison SconceClear Glass Shade Swing Arm Sconce | Brass Finish 1-light Wall Sconce | Modern Vintage Industrial Loft Sconce 

Right now I’m leaning toward the 5th one. Any thoughts/votes? I want it to compliment our existing light fixture in there, and I like how it would bring out the brass details! Decisions, decisions! Help me decide!

Drum_Chandelier_Dining_Room

 

Ipsy Glam Bags

Y’all I have just never been a) good at or b) all that inclined towards makeup. I think it’s the pragmatist / minimalist in me that just thought, meh, I’ve got a tube of mascara – I’m good! And truth be told, even to this day that’s pretty much still my mentality, haha. But my older sister, who is better with these beauty things than myself, got me absolutely hooked on ipsy. I’m selling it to myself as still being pragmatic / quasi minimalist because it’s only $10 a month and you get 5 samples every time, so I’m like in the category of never having to ever buy make-up again, other than ya know, my $10 per month hit.

Has anyone else heard of this thing? I feel like subscription / send stuff in the mail is the millennials answer to the previous generations shopping mall (that and amazon, duh…) but I get irrationally excited about this bag each month and obsessively check to see when I’m going to get my sneak peak email to get a glimpse at my monthly goodies.

So I’ve only been doing this for 4 months now, but this is my loot to date.

February_Ipsy_Bag_Review

I use the powder every day (and have been since February) and still have most of it left. The mascara has become a pretty much daily use for me too, and I’ve found I enjoy putting lipstick on for nights out!

March_Ipsy_Bag_Review

I love the deep conditioner for my hair, and use the blush every day. Wasn’t crazy about the tarte lipstick (it was too matte for my taste).

 

April_Ipsy_Bag_Review

In April, I loved the dry shampoo (I’ve never used that before), and the liquid eyeliner has been great, too.

So far, my favorite thing about ipsy is that I’m getting nicer stuff than I’d normally buy for myself, so it feels like a mega treat to get my bag each month. Since I’m not a pile it on makeup girl, I’ve found even the sample sizes (which some are smaller, not full sized) last me a few months. I try to space out my consumption of the goods, so if I get a travel sized deep conditioner, I use that once per month, and so far it’s lasted me for over 2 months, sweet! By the time I use up one sample size of a product or brand of a particular item, I usually have a replacement come from a different brand – so it works out perfectly!

Plus I get to try new things that I would not usually buy myself, so it’s encouraged me to try different products. Like lipstick!! OMG, I’ve never, in my 30 years of life ever worn lipstick. It’s actually hilarious when I put it on now for a date night because Henry just STARES at my lips and says “Red”. Like he’s speechless and that’s all he can get out, lol. Like something’s different about this lady… Are you my mother?

Anyone else out there use ipsy?? For $10 a month, I think it’s my new favorite bang for the buck thing!

One more fun thing about this subscription (does Birch Box do this, I’m not sure?) is that each month they have you rate your items so that they better match up with what you’d like (aka – I hated that color of blush or that bronzer was a-mazing) and after you get a certain number of points, you get to choose additional items to add to your bag! Huzza!! Or if you have friends sign up, etc, you get points on your account! *Disclaimer* If y’all subscribe to ipsy using the link, I’ll get referral points placed on my account! 😉