Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Happy 16th Birthday

This boy...
Happy Birthday CJ!  A Glimpse of Normal
...he is AMAZING!!!  I know we are totally biased and that is okay, but stick with us.  He loves Jesus, his family, and his friends.  He is hardworking, diligent, and loyal.  He is smart, funny, and kind.  He has his faults too, but overall he is pretty easy going.  He is our firstborn and has taught us more than we even know.  God has truly blessed us with him and we are doing our best to raise him for God.  We are thankful for him and love him very much.  Today we celebrate him.  16 years old!!!
Happy Birthday CJ!!!

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?