Thursday, June 20, 2019

Thrifty Thursday: Ways to Cut the Budget

We have a pretty big goal this year that we have been working on.  It requires patience, diligence, and saving money where we can.  It isn't always easy to save money, but we really started looking at what we spend our money on and if there was any way to cut our budget.
Saving money is a priority in our house.  Check out A Glimpse of Normal for some money saving ideas.
Today I want to share a few ways that we have reduced our overall budget so far this year.  Some of them might work for your family and some of them may not be for you.  I am just sharing ways that we have cut our budget.
  • Change Your Insurance - I will be the first to tell you that switching insurance companies can be a headache.  It is not a fun process, but it can save you a lot of money.  We had been with our insurance company for our home and autos for over 20 years, but the rates kept going up and up even though we have never had any claims.  We had heard when we moved states that the company that we were with was not the best-priced insurance for our state.  It became true.  It took hubby and I a few weeks of looking for the best prices with the right coverage for us.  We got lots of quotes, but eventually chose a company that is based in our state so they know the state laws well.  Switching insurance will save us a lot on our auto insurance especially when we add a teen driver and we have better coverage.  We also switched our home insurance to the same company.  Our house policy is a little higher than what we had before, but we have new benefits that we didn't have before so we feel that a little bit higher price is worth it.  We also got a big discount on all of our policies for paying them all at once rather than being billed monthly.  I figured up the weekly amount that each policy would cost us and then rounded up, then I set up a transfer to savings for this amount.  This way we have the money already sitting in our savings account when the insurance bills come due.
  • See If You Can Cut Costs in Your Mortgage - We have a home loan that is only about 2 years old.  If you know anything about mortgages you know that new loans require you to carry PMI.  This is an insurance for the bank that they will be protected if you default on your mortgage.  The amount of time you have to pay PMI varies and you can usually get it removed when your home reaches a certain value.  It is not fun paying this PMI because it is money that you don't get back and it doesn't reduce your mortgage.  So whenever we have had a home loan we make it a goal to get rid of that PMI payment as soon as possible.  There are ways you can do this without refinancing your loan if you just ask your mortgage company.  We were able to do this recently and it took over $40 a month off of our mortgage.  This is over $40 that we can still pay on our mortgage, but instead of it going to PMI, we can apply it to our mortgage and pay it down a little faster.  $40 doesn't make a huge dent, but every little bit helps.
  • Cut Out TV Subscriptions - We used to have a tv subscription to a company that starts with an N.  The price of this subscription keeps going up slowly, but it keeps going up and they kept changing their content to shows we just didn't watch.  At the same time that we had that subscription, we also have an Amazon Prime account.  Prime accounts already include access to Prime movies and tv.  You can watch the shows listed as Prime as part of your membership.  So it didn't make sense for us to pay for two TV subscriptions.  We decided to cut one and just use Prime instead.  It has plenty of tv shows and movies for us to watch and they are always adding other shows and movies.  It cut our tv subscriptions cost from over $20 a month to just $10 a month (the annual cost of Prime divided by 12 months).
These are the main changes we have made lately that have saved us money.  We are constantly accessing our budget and looking for areas to cut so I am sure I will have more ideas for you soon.  Do you have a money saving tip?  I would love for you to share it with me.

*This post does contain Amazon affiliate links.  This means I make a small commission from Amazon if you choose to purchase through my links.  Your purchase will not cost you extra to use my links. 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Always Learning Something

I am a total nerd, I admit.  I am one of those people that likes to learn.  I will admit that I like learning better when I get to choose my own subject, but I am also willing to learning about other things too.  There are so many things out there that I want to learn about that I will probably never learn them all, but it doesn't keep me from trying.  Lately, I have been educating myself on crochet, business, blogging, and baking.  These are all the things that fascinate me lately so it is what I have been studying up on.
Do you love to learn like me?  Find out how I have been learning lately on my blog, A Glimpse of Normal.
One way I learn is by listening to podcasts.  I have recently begun listening to a couple different podcasts for crafts.  One is on crochet and one is on crafts in general.  I really enjoy the B.Hooked podcast which is crochet specific.  Brittany of B.Hooked is a crocheter that I have followed for a long time on her blog.  Recently I was reading something on there and saw that she had podcasts (she posts a new one every week) and I took a look to see what she talked about in them.  I liked the topics so I started listening and I was hooked on them.  She speaks about crochet to other crocheters on many different topics from business to design to how to crochet.  I am always learning something through her series.  The other craft podcast I listen to is Crafting and Coffee from Amy Latta.  I found Amy's blog years ago and was always a fan of her projects and lettering.  Someday I want to do pretty lettering like her, but I am not there yet.  Anyway, her podcast is about crafts in general and features a variety of topics.  I appreciate her insights and wisdom.  There are lots of other great podcasts out there too that I want to listen to, but just don't have the time right now.  I do take the time to listen to a daily Bible podcast as well, Thru the Bible.  I have learned many in-depth things about the Bible through this preacher.  (I was not paid to advertise for any of these podcasts, they are truly just some of my favorites right now that I wanted to share with you.  To my knowledge none of these people from these podcasts even know that my blog exists.)

I recently signed up for some different webinars or summits and have learned a lot from them.  These webinars or summits are events put on by people who are "experts" in their field.  They usually have lots of experience and advice to give.  I know that it can be hard to catch these events live because I usually can't even watch it live.  That is why I am thankful when they offer a pass to purchase access to the recordings of the summit.  Then I can watch it on my own time.  I have watched them on homeschooling, being a mom, and I just recently purchased access to a crochet business summit.  Building a crochet business is a dream of mine and something I really want to pursue so it is worth learning about to me.

I also learn by reading.  When I find a topic I like, I read all I can about it.  I get books from the library, Hoopla, and Kindle Books (that is an affiliate link - I earn a small commission for items that you purchase).  I just like to soak it all in and read on the subjects I find interesting. 

I find blogs on the subjects I am learning about.  I have done this for years and years.  Wouldn't I be a traitor to other bloggers if I didn't look to see what they had to say?  I have learned a lot over the years from blogs and found so many great ones on so many different subjects.  I am subscribed to my favorite ones so that I get an email every time they create a post and I can read it when it works for me.  I love seeing what my fellow bloggers come up with.  I have too many favorites to list today, but maybe I will make that another post sometime.

Lastly, I learn by trying.  I think the only way I can figure out if a hands-on topic has sunk in and I have actually learned about is to try it.  I could read a bazillion things about baking, but if I never baked anything it would be a waste.  So I try what I learn in baking, crocheting, decorating...and all the other topics I learn about. 

How do you learn?  What are you learning about?  Do you have a favorite podcast, book, or blog to share with me?  I am always on the lookout for more to learn about. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

Summer 2019 Bucket List

We have been on summer break for a little bit now, but it hasn't really felt like summer break yet.  I've been running errands, getting things fixed, and getting us to appointments like the dentist.  So it hasn't felt anything like lazy summer days yet and I am so ready for some lazy summer days (as a mom a lazy day means spending the day at home not running from here to there).  This is why today I thought I would share some Summer Bucket List items with you.  Some of the items are fun and some are just necessary, but I am trying to find a healthy balance.
Do you have a list things that you want to do this summer?  I know that I do which is why I created my Summer Bucket list at A Glimpse of Normal.
  • Spend a day at the beach
  • Read 5 fun books
  • Sit around the bonfire
  • Go to a drive-in for a movie (I don't know if they even exist around us anymore, but it will be cool if they do)
  • Start and complete the Couch to 5k program.
  • Try 3 new ice cream spots.
  • Bake 10 dessert recipes
  • Blog every week
  • Enter projects in our fair
  • Create a school portfolio for each of my kids
  • Craft more items for my Etsy shop
  • List the items I have created in my Etsy shop
  • Teach my daughter to sew on her sewing machine
  • Plan out next year's school
  • Sell old school books
  • Finish painting several areas of the house inside and out
  • Attend more than one fair
  • Go to pick blueberries
This is my main list.  I am sure there are more things we will do, but these are the ones I can think of so far.  What is on your list of things to do this summer?

Saturday, June 1, 2019

June 2019 Menu Plan

Life has been crazy, hectic busy lately.  I guess it is a good busy because we are getting things done that we need to get done, but it feels like the days are flying by.  That is why I am happy that I menu plan.  Even on the busy days, I know that I have a plan for dinner and it is just a matter of if I will cook the meal on the stove, grill it, throw it in the crock pot, or let the Instant Pot do all the work.  Having a menu plan takes the guesswork out of one area of our busy lives.  In the meantime, I just remind myself that right now is a busy season and it won't always be like this.  Right?  If you are like us and find yourself crazy busy, feel free to just use our menu plan this month.
Check out my blog, A Glimpse of Normal, for a June menu plan that you can follow.
  1. Kielbasa and Potato Hash
  2. Mock KFC Chicken Bowls
  3. Slow Cooker John Wayne Casserole
  4. Tex Mex Grilled Chicken Salad
  5. Thai Veggie Quinoa Bowls
  6. Instant Pot Street Tacos
  7. Grown-Up Pizza Wraps
  8. Slow Cooker Cuban Beef
  9. Italian Orzo Spinach Soup
  10. Shepherd's Pie
  11. Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
  12. Slow Cooker Italian Wedding Soup
  13. Philly Cheesesteaks
  14. Stromboli
  15. One Pot Lasagna Pasta
  16. Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake
  17. Stuffed Pepper Soup
  18. Brazilian Skirt Steak with Golden Garlic Butter
  19. Meatballs & Minestra Stoup
  20. Easy BLTA Wraps
  21. Pizza Casserole
  22. Lentil Quinoa Broth Bowls
  23. Smothered Baked Chicken Burritos
  24. Subs
  25. Jambalaya
  26. Mexican Zucchini & Beef Skillet
  27. Cobb Salad
  28. Dutch Oven Pizza
  29. Chicken Bacon Crockpot Chowder
  30. Turkey Taco Lunch Bowls
That is what is for dinner this month at our house.  I will definitely be keeping our meals pretty simple since our schedule is so nuts.  I keep the recipes for these meals on my June Menu Plan board on Pinterest.  I also have extras on there in case you need to swap out meals.  What is for dinner this month at your house?

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Crochet Life Lessons

I love to crochet.  I am always learning something new and always expanding my skill set with this craft.  I push myself to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things with crocheting.  Recently I agreed to test a crochet pattern for a designer and I was very excited about it.  This pattern was cute and it involved making something I had not made before.  There was a firm deadline, but I had the time and I took a chance.  I signed up to test the pattern and the designer chose me as one of the testers.
Can a hobby really teach you life lessons?  Read about it on my blog, A Glimpse of Normal.
I had a week to get my piece done which seemed like something I could totally do when I signed up.  Then I had a couple of days that were a little busier than I thought which put me a little behind.  I was still plugging away on this piece.  I spent several hours one day working on my piece, gymnastics practice is always very productive for me.  Then I got home and started looking at my work compared to the other testers work and even though parts of my were measuring right, it didn't look right.  I realized my piece was gaining on the ends and it was all wrong.  I had to rip out (frog) 2 days worth of work down to row one of my pieces.  It made my stomach sick.  I was working as fast as I could and all of a sudden all of my work was gone.  My heart sunk and I knew in my gut, I was so far behind everyone else.  Throughout all of this, I was in constant communication with the designer and she was very helpful and encouraging to me.  I kept plugging away, but I was so discouraged and knew that even if I crocheted for 24 hours straight, I still wouldn't finish on time.  I started mentally beating myself up for my missteps on this piece.  I finally came to the decision that I had to tell the designer that I had failed at my piece.  She was very gracious and let me make a deal with her since I had been chatting with her all along.  I purchased the pattern since I didn't get my test piece done on time and I promised to get her pictures when I did finish.  In the meantime, I was still able to calculate size and yarn yardage for her since I did get 1/2 of the project finished in time. 

Back to mentally beating myself up....I was hard on myself.  I was so disappointed about not finding my mistake in my work sooner.  I felt guilty for the time I had spent on the work and the tasks I had put off to make such a tight deadline.  I felt stupid for continuing on with my work when I thought it was going wrong instead of asking about what was going on.  I felt crushed at having to rip out so much work.  I felt pressured as the deadline approached.  I felt inadequate and slow as the other testers were finishing their work in hours and not days like it was taking me.  I am telling you I really beat myself up over this one.  It threatened to defeat me as I continued to mentally count all the ways I was failing.  Enter my ever-wise hubby - he told me kindly that I need to let it go.  I could either keep beating myself up or I could move on.  I was trying my best to move on and the day I had to tell the designer I couldn't finish was a Thursday.  Thursdays are cardio drumming days for me and I desperately needed to take out my stress, frustrations, and failure on my drumming ball.  During class it hit me, I could either let this crochet mistake defeat me and steal my joy or I could chalk it up to experience and move on.  I chose to move on.  I had paid for the pattern so I could finish it on my timeline.  I put it to the side and picked up a project I had put aside to do the testing.  I picked up a project that was going well and worked on something I had been successful at.  A few days later, I picked up the test piece again and I finished it.  I knew that I couldn't let this project that had had so many missteps defeat me.  I couldn't let it steal my joy or my love of crochet.  I knew that I needed to conquer it and I did.  It turned out pretty and I finished getting the designer everything she needed.  Along the way I learned some good lessons:

  • Don't underestimate the time a crochet piece will take.
  • Don't ignore your gut - if you think you are doing something wrong, check your pattern and check with the designer they are happy to help.
  • Don't put too much pressure on yourself.
  • It's okay to mess up.
  • It's not okay to mentally beat yourself up.
  • Sometimes we will fall flat on our face.
  • You have to pick yourself up and move on.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Don't give up, even if you have to start over.
  • Try again.
I chose success over defeat and while I wasn't grateful for these lessons at the moment, I am grateful for them now.  I knew crochet could teach me a lot, but I didn't know that I would learn life lessons from it as well.  Who knew a hobby could teach me so much?

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

From our family to yours...
We are so thankful for those who gave their lives to earn and keep our freedom serving in our military.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Spring Cleaning: Outside

Spring is here in our neck of the woods.  The weather is getting better for the most part.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

We have had lots of rain, some sun, and we even had a little bit of late snow the other week.  I am really hoping that now we will start seeing consistent warmer temperatures and much more sunshine.  Sunshine just does the soul good.  Since Spring is here we decide to focus on getting some things done outside to clean up the place and get it looking better.  The hardest part of doing some cleaning up outside has been decided what areas and fencing to leave and what to take down as some of it is in disrepair.  Today I am sharing with you some of the work we have done outside lately...

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

 We have a small woods on our property.  We have lost trees this year due to storms and beavers.  So it was more than time to start cutting up the trees and getting it stacked for next winter.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

Once the wood was brought up to the front of the property, the guys got it all cut (I took a few swings - a girl has to prove she can chop wood too, right?).  We all helped stack it and now it is in the drying process.  This wood will be burnt next fall.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

Next up was the never-ending trailer load of mulch.  We spent almost a whole Saturday and a couple of weeknights moving mulch and fixing up our two main flowerbeds.  

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

The porch area needed to be cleaned up too and it was time to replant my metal washtub planter.  

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

Throughout all of the outside Spring cleaning, our kids have helped and worked right beside us.  They know how to work hard and work until the job is done.  I am thankful for that.  Now if the dog didn't dig so many holes...guess you can't win them all.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

There is still more to clean up and more to get done, but our property is always a work in progress.  We take it one day at a time.  Until next time...