Cash Budget Newbie on a Mission

Let me start by saying happy Saturday, I have missed you all. My sweet babies are finally better although my little blog was neglected all week as a result of their bugs. Thank you so much for your well wishes. I am SO ready to jump back in to Let it be Lovely. Yay!

Like most of us these days, we are not as secure financially as we would like to be. So with all of the buzz going around about cash budgets, I thought I would give it a shot. It certainly couldn’t hurt, right? The concept was derived by Dave Ramsey, a financial guru of sorts, and is based on the idea that if you never actually see your money (in the bank) you are more likely to spend it than if you have cold hard cash in your hands. Wouldn’t you agree that it hurts a lot more to hand someone a $50 bill than to swipe your debit or credit card? It does for me.

To hear about the concept straight from the source head over to Ramsey’s explanation here.

I am not at all skilled in budgeting but have been pinching pennies fairly well in the last year or so. Still, it wasn’t good enough. I needed to figure out how to budget fun stuff in for our family instead of cutting it out all together. So maybe, just maybe, if I try this cash budget system, I can more actively save a little here and there for a fun little family date every once in a while. Whether it be Chuck E Cheese’s (cringe), a kid friendly movie, or going to the petting zoo, we need to get out and have fun together. There is only so much a family of four can do for free.

Enter the Cash Envelope System. I probably could have made this easily, but the thought of dragging out my sewing machine when Baby Bear is being Captain Distruct-o sounded positively miserable. Instead I went to my good, old friend, Etsy for assistance. There I found a blinding assortment of systems ranging from paper envelopes to laminate to designer fabric. Most of these had six or seven envelopes for dividing your cash into separate budget categories. Some had envelopes that were loose, some were attached in a wallet or organizer. And speaking of budgets, there was a set for every price point. Some of them were entirely too rich for my blood. I mean, people buying these are trying to save money right? It would kind of suck to go broke buying a budgeting aid.

Anyway, I picked out a winner that was reasonably priced and nice to look at from Brooklyn Accents. {Be sure to check out the shop and say hello}

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The seller, Brook, created the system in a customized color combo just for little ol’ me. The shop is very small and is just getting started, just like mine, so that was another selling point for me. I am all about helping out anyone who is a newbie, like so many people have helped me out along the way. Brook was very friendly and accommodating. A joy to work with. My cash envelope system, complete with a matching carrying case was ready in a snap and shipped quickly. As soon as I received it, I made some handy labels for each one and quickly realized that I need to order two more envelopes for my system. I have one for each of the following categories:

  • Groceries
  • Gas
  • Kid Stuff (diapers, etc.)
  • Household (light bulbs, cleaning items, etc.)
  • Entertainment
  • Eating Out

The two additional envelopes I am ordering are for Tithing/Giving and Extra to Save or Spend.

Now all I have to do is wait until payday to start using the system, as I thought it would be easiest to start at the beginning of the pay period rather in the middle. At that time I will calculate what bills I will be paying via Bill Pay or auto-payment and leave that amount in the bank, as well as enough to put my standard amount in to the kid’s savings accounts.. Everything else is coming out in cash and will be further separated according to the budget I will set up for the following two weeks, them put in to the correct envelopes for each category. I considered doing this on a monthly basis, but decided to try it one paycheck at a time for now, at least, so it is not too overwhelming, and not too much cash is floating around.

I hope this works out as well as I anticipate. I will give you an update once I get the hang of the system. I am so excited to try something new, and to have a little dough left over to spend on my family.

What budgeting tricks work for your household? Has anyone else tried the cash envelope system?

Sick Little Buggers

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Illness is running a three year marathon in our home. We were so fortunate not to have so much as a sniffle enter our home until Big E was nearly a year old. Since then, however, it seems like we are almost always sick. Mostly colds, a couple of bouts with croup, roseola, and only one minor tummy bug. Recently, however, we have been getting out of the sickness rut. That is, until about two weeks ago, when I received a call from E’s preschool saying he was throwing up and needed to be picked up as soon as possible. Poor little guy. I was so sad for him, but a part of me was glad for the excuse to cuddle with my normally bouncy boy. Thankfully, he was back to normal quickly.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning. Big E went off to school in the morning without a hitch. At about 11 a.m., I get a call from the school. Once again, he is throwing up. Surely this can’t be the belly bug again, right? I mean, he probably just gagged on his banana at snack time or something. Wrong! Poor kid looked like a wet rag on his nap mat in the classroom. Yep, this boy was sick. Now the real challenge began, keeping baby Bear from getting the bug. He was already quite sick with some respiratory wheezy thing. The thought of getting sick, myself, was even more scary, because if Mommy is out of commission, with the Hubby out of town, who would take care of my babies? Yikes!

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Big E spent the night loosing his “cookies” watching cartoons, fevering, and getting lots of huggles. Bear coughed his little lungs out so much I thought at least he would end up in Urgent Care, if not both of them. What a night. Let me tell you, we were missing Daddy a lot by the end of this mess.

Thank goodness, Mommy and Bear have not suffered from the bug other than mild fevers, although, my mother-in-law get a bad case of it. Sorry, Nannie! Needless to say the laundry/bleaching/Lysol-ing/disinfecting cycle started immediately after E came home from school and hasn’t really stopped.

Today, my big boy is back to school, and little Bear is on the mend. My house is a disaster, despite the germ cleaning, and I am way behind on writing {dang it!} but my sweet babies are smiling, playing, and eating again. As much as I hate seeing my boys feel yucky, I will always appreciate the job of chief hugger and caretaker when they are sick. Any chance I get to show them that I really am always there for them and I love them to the moon, boogers, vomit and all, I will take it.

Showcase: Teal Book Love

I actually had this post in the works for my Saturday Showcase, but was out of town and had trouble with the internet therefore, no post. Bummer! So without further ado, enjoy a little taste of Saturday, today!

Many Etsians (Etsy shop owners) have come up with a pretty neat way of grouping several vintage books together by color and calling them an “instant collection.” This is so handy if you are looking for a great accent to go with the color scheme in a certain area of your home. Teal everything is all the rage right now, and I think I’ve caught the bug.

Take a look at the great books I am currently swooning over.

Teal Books Instant Library Collection Decorative Books Photography Props Teal Blue Green Aqua  {Teal Books Instant Collection by SorryThankYou79}

1954 Summer is Here Childrens Book{Summer is Here Book by SitDown SetDown}

Green & Blue Instant Library By Color Collection Vintage Decorative Books Photography Props Aqua Teal Turquoise{Instant Collection by SorryThankYou79}

4 Vintage Childrens Books- Teal Home Decor - Photography Prop - Personal Library- Instant Collection{Vintage Children’s Books by Random Voyeur Vintage}

Antique Book - Primer of Physiology and Hygiene from 1885 - Antique Medical Book{Primer of Physiology and Hygiene at LittleVintageViolet}

Teal books 6 Instant Book Collection Photo Prop  Interior Design color teal grey black  Photo Prop{Teal Instant Collection at The Pantages}

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday Suppers {Blog Crush}

While gathering beautiful items for my Parisian Wedding post, I discovered Sunday Suppers, a stunning blog centered around cooking classes and event design in Brooklyn, New York. Once I was there, I couldn’t leave. I was absolutely astounded by the photography and styling by Karen Mordechai. She has teamed up with Lizzy Sall to create the type of blog you will want to visit on a Sunday morning while sipping a perfect coffee or tea. It will make your day start out so Lovely.

An excerpt from their site gives us a great description of what Sunday Suppers is all about:

Sunday Suppers are class-cooking-dining experiences, pairing friends and food. The classes are held in a waterfront loft in Brooklyn, NY and are taught by local Chefs. The food is market fresh, local and organic and the approach is to create seasonal and fresh meals together.

Read more about Sunday Suppers here.

Karen’s simple yet gorgeous styling and eye for real beauty is simply awe inspiring. Can’t get enough? You are in luck. Sunday Suppers has a shop where prints of beautiful photography can be purchased.

{The Fat Radish: Restaurant Review}

{Sweet First Birthday Party}

{Crystalized Lavender}

{Cinnamon Swirl Biscuits}

{Mini Chicken Pot Pie}

{Blueberry, Ricotta, and Arugula Baguettes}

Are you as captivated as I was now? Everything here makes my mouth water. I can’t wait to try the mini pot pies for my boys. They will love them.

Be sure to visit Sunday Suppers and leave them a little comment love.

Have a Lovely weekend!

Entryway Mail Station

Warning: The following photo is scary. Really. It gives me chills. Have mercy on me.

It is a picture of my mail hoard on my entryway table. I think there is about a week’s worth of mail and school papers here. Not good. It is a growing, steaming, paralyzing mess. The scariest thing is that I encounter this hoard regularly. I am famously pathetic at sorting the mail in a timely and orderly fashion. Bills be damned. Coupon expiration dates are in trouble too. Why do we have to get so much mail, anyway? So much for the paperless movement.

I had to get this disaster in order so when I was on my last Target run and saw their home office organizers on clearance, I decided it was time to make the change. I couldn’t just go through, sorting the mail like I always do; I had to start a whole new system.

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Enter: Organization. Below is a shot of the table with the empty organizers. I know, I know the décor doesn’t really make sense. Oh well. These items needed a home where I could see them every day so here they landed. Moving on.

The tray to the far left is one we have had for a while and is where we toss our keys. The tray in the center will be the “drop zone” for miscellaneous mail and school papers that come home with Big E. On the right, a typical mail sorter which I have labeled “IN” and “OUT.”

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Now for the action shot. Keys are nestled in their bed, catalogs and fliers take center stage in their lovely new home, and bills coming in and going out have finally a place to call their own.

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The handy dandy mail sorter has two little trays in front, which I presume are intended for paperclips or other small items. I decided they would be more useful to me as cubbies for the things I need to grab on the way out of the door. In one I have a Pier 1 coupon {Yay!} and the other holds a mini pad of sticky notes and a book of stamps. I also stashed a pen on the side under the mail. Pretty nifty, huh?

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Hopefully, this new mail station will be the ticket out of my hoard. I am excited to try it out.

Now it is your turn. How do you organize the never ending plethora of incoming mail in your house?

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Have a Lovely evening and happy organizing!

Wedding Wednesday: Parisian Splendor

Eiffel Tower. Champagne. Louboutin. Marie Antoinette. Dior.

What do these have in common? They are all iconic symbols of the city of lights, Paris, France. A city of wonder and style and romance. Paris has earned it’s place on to the bucket lists of many and in the hearts of millions. Thought the be the most romantic place on earth, Paris is a natural inspiration for brides everywhere.

Whether you are planning a wedding or not, a trip to France through the eyes of a bride is a sensory exploration like no other.

Join me in my own exploration as I share my discoveries with you today. Enjoy!

paris destination wedding {Wedding in Paris on Intimate Weddings}

The couple in the photo above only had two guests at their Paris wedding, but managed to make it a classy and beautiful event with timeless, stunning photography.

Design Fee - Vintage Passport Wedding Invitation (Paris, Europe)                              {Vintage Passport Invitation by Beyond Design} 

A themed wedding deserves quality invitations and décor to avoid being kitschy. These vintage-looking boarding pass invitations are perfect for an understated Parisian affair.

Emily Blunt in Dior Haute Couture, photographed in Le Raincy, outside Paris.      {Emily Blunt as Marie Antoinette in Vanity Fair}

Marie Antoinette’s over-the-top style is one version of Paris wedding grandeur. Pink, ruffled, candy-coated, floral fabulousness. Pure decadence and whimsy.

Photography-One-and-Only-LOHR Couture   {Lohr Couture Boutique in Paris photographed by One and Only Paris}

One the most appealing aspects of the Parisian culture is their Joie de Vivre, the carefree energetic enjoyment of life.

                                           {Fascinator by Skye Collections}

Fearless fashion is also a huge part of Parisian life. It is the center of the high-style planet.

       {Marie Antoinette Cake by Cake Coquette}

Parisian weddings can be full of splendor and extravagance like this incredible cake too pretty to eat….

  {Croquembouche by Karen Mordechai at Sunday Suppers}

…or traditional grace like this beautiful Croquembouche covered in lavender blooms. It is made of cream puffs dipped in caramel and is served as the desert centerpiece in French weddings. Wow. Sign me up.

french macaroons-wedding-dessert-ideas {French Macarons from Scissors Events}

Last but not least, the sinfully delicious French macarons. No Parisian wedding is complete without these little beauties. They make a perfect favor and charming edible décor item. I want need must have some of these lovelies.

I hope you enjoyed our Tour de France on Wedding Wednesday. Speaking of which, we have had a few of these themed days so far and I would love to know what you think. Leave a comment and let me know!

Have a lovely day, dear friends. J’adore!

Blogging is like Baking Bread

  Source

This morning as I teetered between awake and asleep, I envisioned my coffee cup in my hands, but could not yet actually get out of bed to make it a reality. So instead, my mind wandered. I starting thinking about the post I would write today along with a few dozen other things to do on my list. Now, keep in mind my mental status at this point. It was still dark, my babies were cuddling with me and we were all drifting in and out of dreamland. No algebraic equations were being calculated quite yet; my thoughts simply ran on instinct. Pure creativity. The kind we try to find throughout the day, but that often evades us.

What did I come up with in this moment of pure creativity and mental freedom? Bread. Why? No clue. What kind? Dunno. I just had this great dialog in my head about the similarities between the process of writing a blog post and the process of baking bread. Unusual, oui? The thing is, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The similarities passed through my head over and over again, even after I was up and about for the day.

So here we are. I figured if I didn’t actually write about this, it would take over all of my brain work-y-ness.

I might channel Julia Child here for a bit. Bear with me. Oh, and possibly Emeril. BAM!

semonlina bread  Source

Proof the yeast. Make sure the yeast is alive. Will it serve its purpose? You can’t have bread without good yeast. It will never rise properly and neither will a blog post if you don’t start out with a good topic. Do your research and find something to write about that will engage your readers.

Mix your ingredients. Baking is a science. Every ingredient is essential. If you forget the sugar or salt, it will taste awful. If you put in too much leavening agent (baking powder, yeast, etc.) you might have a big mess on your hands.

The ingredients in a great blog post are equally important. Rich content, such as pictures or videos, will make the post taste and look better. Repetitiveness (a.k.a. overusing your ingredients) will make a mess of your writing and readers will look to other bakers. I mean writers. I mean…uh…you know what I mean.

Knead the dough. The most iconic image of bread making is of the kneading process. This takes real elbow grease. You must work the dough until it is no longer sticky but instead has become smooth and elastic.

Kneading is like editing what we write. You cannot have one without the other. We must proofread our posts and tweak them until the flow is smooth and there is consistency in the finished product.

Allow the dough to rise. Biting in to bread that has not yet risen would not be a very pleasant experience. There would be no fluffy air pockets to sink your teeth into. Not very bread-ish, right? This step takes patience.

Patience is also needed when blogging. There are days when you won’t know what to say, or how to say it. There will be days when no one is reading. There will be days when you are stumped. Don’t give up and don’t rush yourself. If I write something I feel no passion for the writing, well, sucks. There is nothing there to hold it up. Nothing to sink your teeth into. The essential step in good bread making is allowing it to rise properly. Similarly, we must allow our writing to grow and change and be authentic. Not forced. Patience will make it grow. You even might grow as a person in the process.

Punch down, divide, and shape the dough. Gases build up in the dough as it rises. In order for the bread to have an even texture, you must punch down the dough to release some of this gas. If you are frustrated, let it out on the dough. It won’t fight back, I promise. Now is the time to divide it in to loaves and shape in to the desired form, whether it is a round loaf, rolls, a special braid or traditional rectangle.

This is your chance for any last minute edits and for tagging and categorizing your post. The right tags make all the difference in making sure your post gets to your target audience. You are shaping your post further with these tags by making sure they will be the right fit for your readers.

Baking the bread. Last but certainly not least, it is time to stick this baby in the oven. Bake it at the perfect temperature for just the right amount of time, and you will start to smell the aroma of success wafting throughout your home. Don’t overcook it or you will have a crusty, charred, unsavory mistake. Undercook your bread and you will be faced with a doughy, tasteless, ball of gunk that has raw eggs in it. Salmonella! Not good. Just follow your recipe and you will be fine.

In the same way that bread must bake properly, not too much, not too little, your post must be finished just right. Once you hit the “publish” button, you can sit there and do nothing but your post could become stale after a couple of hours. Networking is a vital part of blogging. Share your post with the world. Tell your friends about it, post it to social networking sites and don’t forget to comment on other blogs. This is good for both parties since they receive the support we all want/need and you receive more traffic and some valuable support of your own. On the other hand, don’t kill your self doing this. Don’t lose yourself in networking. Too much of a good thing can leave you burned out on blogging, with a bad taste in your mouth. Nobody wants that to happen.

Enjoy the finished product. I don’t know of anything that tastes better than fresh bread, hot out of the oven. Warm and gooey, sweet and satisfying. There is nothing quite like it. Enjoy it while it is fresh and you will see why it was worth all of the hard work involved.

When your blog post is a success, enjoy that too. Take comfort in knowing that you touched someone with your words today. It might have been just the thing they needed. A virtual hug. I have met some amazing people in the blogosphere who always know how to make me smile.

Now go out there and get cooking! Enjoy your craft and work it according to who you are and what you want to be known for. My blog is my canvas and my escape. What is blogging to you?

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