Back in April, someone told me that I could propagate African Violets! Who would've thunk it!!
So, I cut one healthy leaf off of a plant that hubby had bought me a couple of years ago, stuck it in some dirt, and voila! Fast forward 4 months and look at what I have now...
That big leaf in the top left is the original one that I had cut off and look at all the babies that have sprouted... love! I hope that once it gets big enough that it will bloom beautiful flowers just like its momma plant does. I've now just done 2 more cuttings today so here's to hoping that these will be just as successful! I love free plants!
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Back in April, someone told me that I could propagate African Violets! Who would've thunk it!!
and all our money is leaking through it! Come on, already! Someone send me some savings account super glue!
We have a 2006 Toyota Rav4.
---------> Spent $1300 last week to get the rear wheel bearings replaced, rear brake pads and rotors filed down and turned, and an oil change
---------> Took the car in today because all the check engine kind of lights were on...Was just told that we need to have the ECM (the car's computer) replaced and that will be another $1200!!! Haven't told DH yet -- he's going to freak out.
We have a 2003 Toyota Sienna.
---------> This poor van has been neglected for so long in regards to routine maintenance. The tires are so bald (we don't drive it except within town to run errands so we've been putting it off). The dealer is having a tire sale next week so we've scheduled an appointment to have 4 new tires put on and for a well overdue oil change done. Estimated cost will be around $350.
Has anyone been adding all this up? If not, that's ok, cause I've already done it for you and it's a whopping $2850 in a few weeks time for stupid car maintenance issues. Aacckkk!!!
Some of you have asked so here is the scoop...
Purchased in 1997
Ranch style, (no basement or upstairs)
approx 1000 sq ft
Small but corner lot in a tight subdivision
Purchased in 2001
Ranch style, (no basement or upstairs)
approx 1600 sq ft
Large (to us) 1/3 acre lot in a nice subdivision, backed up to farmland so was nice and private
House #3 CURRENT HOUSE
Purchased in 2006
3 story house, main living space on first floor, all bedrooms are upstairs, finished full basement
approx 2600 sq ft
.67 acre lot
So, our current house #3 might look to be a great step up for us, right? Well, not quite...
House #1 was our starter home when we just got married. It was a great little house but we got tired of the really, really tight subdivision. All the houses were so close together --- no privacy at all. So, we sold it and moved across town to House #2. This house was the smallest in the neighborhood. Most of the other houses were 2 story homes that looked really big compared to our house. But, we loved the flat lot of our house, the floorplan really worked for us, and it was a really good fit for our growing family.
Then, we moved 4 hours away, from the flat lands to the mountains, for a new job opportunity. We realized quickly that housing prices in the mountains were quite higher than they were in the big city that we came from. Also, the houses here were mainly multi-level homes since they were built alongside hill banks. We had only 2 main criteria when looking for this home: 1) I wanted a garage with main level access. I didn't want to haul groceries from a basement entry garage up stairs to the kitchen. I'd say 75% of homes here all have their garage in the basement. 2) I wanted a large lot with trees. Having lived in the city, we didn't have a lot of natural wooded areas. I thought that was what I wanted. So, we bought House #3 because these 2 main criteria were met and now 5 years later, we just hate the house. We had never lived in a multi-level home before so we didn't realize how much we would hate having to go up and down stairs all the time. We had never lived on a wooded lot before so we didn't realize how much we would hate having to pick up fallen limbs all the time. Ugh, ugh, and ugh. I guess it's one of those situations where the grass really isn't greener on the other side... all along we thought those bigger 2 story houses in our neighborhoods were so nice and roomy. Blah! We so miss our little ranch style homes!!!
So, a summary of all the things we hate about our current house:
1) Stairs, stairs, and more stairs!
2) All the trees! It gets windy here alot and those fallen branches are a pain to deal with
3) Hillsides! No flat place for the kids to play
4) Open floor plan of living space! Our 'great room' consists of the living room, kitchen, and dining spaces... all in one big open area. Now, I know this is all the rage in today's real estate market, but now that we actually live in this kind of living space, we just don't like it. It's really noisy!!
5) No air conditioning! As a mountain home, it is not common to have A/C here... or so one would think! The houses here just aren't built with A/C as standard. It gets pretty hot for just about one month out of the year but gosh, that one month nearly kills us each year!
So, those are the top 5 reasons why we hate our house. All these reasons were things that we just didn't realize would bother us until we actually bought the house and started living in it. We learn what we like and dislike from each home we live in and we certainly know what to look for in our House #4... we just need to sell this one first!
This morning, someone that works in our office comes to ask me to help her with her personal finances. This was completely out of the blue and I feel so honored that she would trust me with her money issues. She said she was thinking last night of who she could ask for help and thought of me... (after she got a denial yesterday from the local credit union for a new credit card account). Now, I'm on a quest to get her all squared away and you guys can come along on the journey. Here's her situation:
Married with 2 children (one in college and one in high school), but not a financially sound marriage ever, apparently... DH is a banker of all things but he apparently doesn't have his head on straight when it comes to their own money. He wants to keep everything completely separate in their household so the wife just deals with this (even though he makes probably 4 times what she does). For the major expenses, he covers the mortgage and utilities. She has to cover the groceries for the house.
OUT categories we've identified thus far =
*groceries/eating out for household
*car payment on her car
*gas/maintenance on her car
*half of the household cell phone bill
*medical bills for household
*dog -vet/grooming bills
*multiple credit cards (highest balance is around $5k on one of them)
*three outstanding medical debts
She had her highest balance credit card statement with her and said she thought the interest rate on it was 90% (gasp) and I was like, um -- doubt it? So, I looked on her statement and showed her where the interest rate was indicated which is something like 25%. As you can see, she doesn't even know how to read her statements. She's a college graduate but when it comes to money and math, she's clueless and knows that is why she's in the trouble that she's in.
I gave her homework for the weekend -- I've asked her to write down exactly what her interest rates are on all the credit cards and their current balances. I told her to call each one of those credit card companies and ask for a lower interest rate. She also needs to identify exactly how much she owes on those outstanding medical bills and to estimate how much her other monthly expenses total up (she had no clue how much she spends on groceries, for example).
Next, I asked her about her paycheck. Since I have access to payroll, I looked up her check and all her deductions. She has zero withholdings and I asked if she gets a tax refund each year. Apparently, she just gives her W-2 to her DH each year and he does all the tax stuff. She does know that for 2009, they got back around $1500 total and then she got fussed at from her DH that it wasn't enough. He wanted the refund to be even higher and implied that she must not have withheld enough from her checks (jerk!). He keeps their refund and does whatever with the money even though it's "their" refund. I told her that was crazy. I calculated what increasing her withholdings to 1 and 2 would be, an additional $58 and $103 respectively, in each paycheck... Basically, by just increasing her withholdings to 1, she would have an additional $700 each year in her paychecks that her grubby hubby wouldn't have access to come tax time. She said she's all about having her withholdings changed to 1 now. Yay.
Anyway, I'll post more as we keep ironing out her budget...
Just to give a bit more info on this corner of my house...
The table was FREE. I saw it at the county dumpster site (we have a swap shop there). I had to literally fight a lady for it because I would be darned if I didn't leave with it --- I saw it first!! The table was in absolutely perfect condition and I didn't have to do a thing to it.
The books were FREE. My mom bought a boxful of books at a yard sale for like a buck. She gave me a few and voila.
The rod iron basket the balls are in was $1 at Goodwill.
The metal tray the books are on was $1 at Goodwill.
The 2 wooden candlesticks were just $1 at Goodwill.
The little jack-o-lantern thingys (I think they are luminaries?) were $3 at Goodwill... it was a brand new box of 12 of them and they are so blasted cute, that I had to buy them. I put a couple in this corner and I think it looks good.
The small pumpkins you see were FREE. A coworker gave me a basket of pumpkins and gourds a few years ago when she was cleaning out her stash. Love it!
I know you can hardly see it, but there is a huge rustic basket on the bottom shelf of the table holding our magazines. I bought a lot of 5 baskets at an auction recently for $1. So the cost of this one, I guess is like 20cents. I love this basket.
The Woodwick candle and Bath and Body Works candle below it (wrapped in jute twine) were FREE. I got these as gifts a few years ago.
There you go... proof that decorating doesn't have to be expensive.
Remember my last post where I gave you a preview of those 2 ugly plates? Well, with a good coat of black paint, I am now using them (along with cheese domes) as cloches -- (before I knew what the word meant, I had to google it so don't feel bad if you have to as well). Perfect fit for the 2 cheese domes I had laying around - I had glass plate bases for these but the black plates just gives it more substance, ya know? Not bad for a 50cent plate!
The Christmas 2008 frame now houses a monogram (simply printed from the computer) of our last name... doesn't it look nice!?
The old ugly bronzy picture frame holder got a good coat of black paint and voila... looks much better (It's holding up the 'F' picture frame. That picture frame started out HOT PINK but again, black paint to the rescue-- same with all the other frames you see.)
Oh, and see that mirror in the background? Not the cheap $1.50 one I got this past Sat. but this one is much bigger and is another thrift store find from last week - priced at just $20 but I was able to talk down the store manager to $12! It fits perfectly above our mantle.
The cheapo, but new pillar candle I got for 0.25cents, looks nice on top of the $2 tall rod iron candle holder I got from Goodwill last week!
More to come with all my other goodies from the yard sale find this weekend... but in the meantime, look what I found at Goodwill today for just 0.50cents each --- aren't they purdy!? NOT! Just wait to see what I plan to do with these...
I don't normally go to yard sales just because I usually don't have any luck finding anything cheap enough around here (where I live, yard sale prices are crazy) and I don't like driving around aimlessly either -- so I tend to stick with shopping at thrift stores. But, anywho, we were heading home from our soccer games Sat morning and I noticed a big "indoor yard sale" sign at a local Moose Lodge. It was about 11:00 so I knew they were probably going to wrap up soon, but I figured why not? To my delight, they were letting everything go at 50% off sticker so I grabbed up some stuff and spent a whopping $6! Here's what I got:
*a fairly big mirror in great condition - just needs cleaning up
*a darling stuffed bear picture (but I really just wanted the frame)
*a brand new picture frame (sticker on it said $14.99 from Kohls) -- of course the matting says Christmas 2008 but again, just got it for the frame
*2 small wood shelves
*new pillar candle - I have just the spot for this baby
*candle stick and hurricane
*large glass vase
*2 small votive glass holders that I hope to do something cool with
*3 brand new boxes of Christmas candle stuff: votive holder, 2 votive candles, and small pinecone/berry mixture in each box
*brass picture frame/plate display holder
*bag of green grass/moss stuff for crafts
**a black rod iron cool candle holder thingy (my DH claimed this one ASAP to display one of his little collectible figurines on so it's not in the pictures below)
I think I scored pretty good with my $6! Stay tuned for what some of these items will be transformed into!
Busy, busy, busy...
I helped my mom with the 4th and hopefully, final yard sale of the season on Sat. We made $422 total. She kept $200, gave me $200, gave my oldest DD $10 and my youngest DD $12 (she sold $2 worth all by herself). My sis and her hubby was visiting and we all camped out in my mom's yard... gosh, it got COLD overnight, like bone chilling cold. We knew it would be cold so we covered up the kids pretty good but we didn't do so well for ourselves. At around 6am, DH and I decided we had enough and went in the house and slept for a few more hours. The next night, the girls slept out in the tents again but DH and I didn't even attempt it so we stayed in the house like the chickens we are. Sunday, we had DH's family reunion to go to as well. All in all, a very busy weekend, but enjoyed all the family time.
Today, I took my $200 cash and spent it at the local thrift store. I had been looking for a treadmill and/or elliptical machine for months now -- looking at craigslist, newspaper classifieds, and thrift stores. Lo and behold, this thrift store which is on the other side of town and one that I hardly ever go to, had a ton of exercise equipment -- and better yet, a big sign was up that said "1/2 off Exercise Equipment". Yahooie! I got an electric treadmill for $75 and a small elliptical for $40. I think that is a good deal for both pieces... sure, they aren't the most lavish machines but they do the job and are in great shape. Now, I have to figure out where to set up my new "home gym" in the house.
I have recently gotten way into "vintage" home decorating as well. There are a ton of great blogs out there that I am now addicted to... showing lots of great pictures of projects people do with thrift store finds, crafting projects, broken and old furniture, and basically, other people's trash. I have always enjoyed going to thrift stores but it was mainly for clothing deals. I always looked past the home decor stuff but now it's got my attention. I've bought several small pieces at Goodwill and look forward to tapping into my near-nonexistent creative side! I figured I would try to start with some simple Fall decorating ideas and see where that might lead me. Stay tuned...
I'm starting to get interested in revamping old stuff and really getting into estate sales and auctions. At the last week's auction, I bought a box lot of stuff that I just really had no idea what everything was... but for $2, it wasn't a huge risk. There were some cool finds in the box -- here is the smallest desk fan I have ever seen. Isn't it the cutest thing?! I took the picture with a ruler next to it for you to see the size... barely 5 in' tall. Love it!
Both DH and I get paid on the last working day of each month... that means that our next payday is Aug 31. Don't you guys hate having to wait til each payday? It's torture sometimes!
We will be getting some "extra" funds this week though which will help. $227 from my employer as travel reimbursement and $480 from my flexible spending account. I so underestimated our needs for the spending account this year... I elected for just $480 for the entire year and we ate that all up in one month's time. What I didn't account for was that our youngest DD would need glasses which cost a fortune. Oh, well - better some than nothing, I guess. So, that's an additional $707 that I will get to play with this week and that will hold me until payday. I just like to "book" the monthly contributions to our various accounts in my spreadsheet and can't do that until we get paid each month. I'm such a dork!
We are interested in renting out a small booth at a local antique mall to get rid of some of our junk (but good stuff). The rental fee per month is $65 and the store management gets a 10% commission from every sale. We can just go month to month without locking ourselves to anything long term. Unless I've done the math incorrectly, we would need to sell at least $73 to just break even each month which I do think is very doable ($73x0.9-$65). The store takes care of everything and we just need to keep up the inventory, pricing, and presentation. What do you guys think of these kinds of things?
Today is the first day of school for the kids (and DH since he's a teacher). I am so thankful! Money goes out the window during the summers because they (DH and the kids) eat out nearly every day for lunch. It drives me batty... since I work all year long, DH takes the kids and runs errands and whatnot in town and stops at a fast food joint just about every day. During the school year though, I pack them lunches so we save a ton of money on food while school is in session. We've spent so much money this summer so I am very glad to see some "normalcy" come back into our financial lives.
Ever felt blah with life? That's me, right now... just blah. We just got back from a week at the beach and you would think that I would feel refreshed and whatnot. But, instead, I feel blah. Maybe, it is because of all the money we spent -- not on stupid souvenir junk -- but on food! We went with DH's entire side of the family so there were 13 of us total in a 4 bedroom condo. We split the groceries 4-ways but I think we got the short end of the stick... see, our little family of 4 don't eat much, especially when it comes to condiments. I know that sounds strange, but DH's family wanted and bought 2 big tubs of butter, jelly, cream cheese, ketchup, mustard, whip cream, hot fudge, nut toppings, fancy flavored coffee and fancy flavored cream for their coffee, etc... and then there is the junk food. They bought boxes of Little Debbie cakes, tons of donuts, several bags of chips, cakes, cookies, etc. No wonder they are all plus-sized! Geez. I always knew that they loved to eat, especially butter, but this was one of those in-your-face moments, you know? So, for a week at the beach, we had to spend almost $100 for just groceries --- that we didn't eat but just a little of! Yes, that is right--- it was nearly $400 for all the groceries that was bought for the entire family! Outrageous! And then, DH's mom always has to eat dinner at a restaurant each night (not fast food or Subway kinds of restaurants). So, even though our little family tried to eat reasonably, we still ended up spending an average of $40-$45 each night for 6 nights! So, for a week at the beach, our family of 4 spent about $350 for just food! No wonder I'm feeling blah right now.
Oh, and I just have to share... one night we made ice cream sundaes. Great summer treat, right? I proceeded to make our girls a small bowl of ice cream. DH's sister makes her kids these gigantic bowls of like 4 scoops of ice cream smothered in hot fudge, whip cream and nuts ON TOP of apple pies. Now, believe me, I'm all for having a treat... but I added up the calories for this outrageous concoction... it was over 1,000 calories! She made one for each of her 3 kids, herself, and DH's parents. They ate every bite of it!
So, I helped mom with her yard sale (continuation from a few weeks ago, see earlier post) on Sat, July 3. We were open from 7am to 2pm and made a grand total of $489! She gave me $300 and she kept $189. We have one more to do this year at her place of employment scheduled for Aug 7 so hopefully we will get rid of all our stuff that day.
Friday night - our youngest DD had a campout at school. It was DH's turn to do the camping since I did it when our oldest went through it a couple of years ago... it turned out to be a great night for everyone as I had a super time with our oldest just by ourselves. We rented The Blind Side and snuggled in with some popcorn, while DH spent the evening with little DD roasting up smores with all the kids.
We took the kids to see the musical "Wicked" on Saturday -- none of us knew a thing about the story but boy, was it a show! We absolutely loved it! Great music and the story was fantastic. The 2 hour drive to get there and the $300+ price tag for the four of us to see it was absolutely worth it.
Sunday was spent with my entire family -- sisters and their families were up for the Holiday weekend... had fun eating and just hanging out with each other.
All in all, a wonderful weekend but now, back to a boring no-spend week (since we spent a lot this weekend).
On April 17, I posted the two week picture below of the cucumber seeds we planted using the method suggested by cptacek... here is the pic again:
And now 5 weeks later, on May 24, look at my beautiful cucumber plant!
The smaller pot on the left contains the seedlings from tomato seeds I planted a couple of weeks ago.
I've never had luck with seeds until now so thanks so much to cptacek for giving me the idea to do it this way.
I have cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelon coming up so far and look forward to June when I will transplant these guys outside.
Ok, my parents just came back from an international trip. Dad lost his wallet somewhere along the way. He had $26 in cash, 2 debit cards, his social security card, medicare card, and both his and mom's drivers licenses in the wallet.
Cash - gone but not a huge loss
Debit cards - called the banks, no weird activity noticed, canceled the cards
SS/Medicare cards - ordered replacements
Drivers Licenses - ordered replacements
So, the question is this. Should we report the lost wallet situation to the credit bureaus? If we do, will this mess up their credit situation, i.e. make it difficult for them to get future loans if needed, and if so, for how long. It is unlikely that they'll need any kind of loans, but just in case, you know? My parents have absolutely no debt, no mortgage or loans of any kind, and do not use credit cards at all. They don't speak much English so I will have to call the credit bureaus for them -- is this something I can do online for them instead of over the phone?
What do you guys think? Any suggestions would be appreciated!
Ok, so the house that we were interested in went under contract last Friday --- after just 7 days on the market --- knew it was priced well! I didn't want to get into a bidding war of any sort so we just stepped away from it altogether. Probably for the best anyway as rash emotional decisions are the most dangerous ones!
Now, as I've posted, we have been looking for investment properties for about a year now. Nothing really pushed our buttons until one that we saw a couple of weeks ago. This little house on .75 acres is listed at $119k. If we can get it for $95k, I think it would be worth it to get and rehab. We are estimating about $12k in renovation costs. Then we could rent it or sell it, either option would be good for the neighborhood it is in.
What do you guys think about this little house?
Ok, we've been looking for the right house to buy as ours sits on the market. All the other ones thus far have been a bit out of our price range (if we had to keep our current home) and had more cons than pluses. However, one just came on the market the other day and our realtor showed it to us today. Wow, it fits the bill so nicely. What should we do??? It's priced super well as the sellers want to sell it quickly so I'm afraid it will be gone if we don't act soon. In just the two days it came on the market, they've had 4 showings already. Here are some pics:
Front of house from end of driveway
Fenced in backyard
Our main criteria has been a level yard/lot close into town and this one has both. It just needs some cosmetic updating inside (like removing wallpaper) and the kitchen appliances need to be updated quite a bit, but overall, the house is in superb condition.
This house is 45 years old and is nearly 5000 sq ft big! There is a mother-in-law 2-bedroom apartment with full kitchen/laundry/etc on the lower floor that we could rent out to offset our mortgage. The area can be completely closed off to the main house with its own entrance and so forth.
The main drawing point is the location!! It's literally where we were wanting to be and the neighborhood is so nice. The fenced backyard is a huge plus for our dog.
Ok, so the dilemma is that we haven't sold our current home. We could buy this one and then if the contract is accepted and so forth, we could do a massive price reduction on our current home to try to get rid of it quickly. What do you guys think?? Aaaghh! I wouldn't worry so much except that the house is priced so well for the area that I'm afraid it will be gone...
basement/living room with fireplace
front of house - another view
back of house
I can't remember who blogged about this, but I took the tip about recycling a plastic bottle and pantyhose and look at what has come up already. This is about 2 weeks worth of growth from cucumber seeds! I've never had this much luck growing from seeds before so thank you to whoever it was that posted this process!
Also, just for the fun of it, I have a small Christmas Cactus that I bought in January (I think) and it's blooming. It's pretty so I thought I'd share.
We filed our taxes back in Feb and just got our state refund this week. The state is in such a cash crisis that I really didn't think we would've gotten it this "soon" actually. Not complaining though! There are still quite a few coworkers that are scrambling to get to the HR Block or whatever today during their lunch hours. Geez -- talk about waiting til the last minute! Hope you guys out there have already done yours by now.
DD had to play in a soccer tournament yesterday at the local university. DH dropped us off at the gate and went to park. After the game, we went to the car and found a parking citation on the windshield. The place was packed so DH had parked on the curb along with several other cars thinking that it was legal but guess not... $30 fee!!! That's outrageous! Since it was issued by the University police system, is it a "real" ticket? We'll pay it and consider it a donation to the school, but curiosity had me going. If someone doesn't pay a parking ticket from a campus system, is that ticket on their background checks, etc.? Anyone know?
Wow, what a sale this week at Lowes Foods. Mt. Dew is on sale for $2.10 for a 12 pack here. I've gotten 10 packs so far and will go back for more. I haven't seen 12 pack sodas this cheap in YEARS, maybe even decades. I know soda isn't good for us but DH is addicted to the stuff unfortunately and drinks about 2 cans a day. This sale will last us for months and months... yahoo!
Ok, drum roll, please...
The total as of today, April 6, 2010 is $11,300!! I was hoping he'd make the $10,000 mark but he's surpassed that already and is still going strong. He still has quite a few of "A" pieces left to sell so who knows how much we'll end up totaling after it's all said and done.
I'm so proud of him!
DH just transferred another $1500 from his paypal account to our savings account! That makes a total of $7,000 so far that he's put into our household account from his sales of "A". He thinks he can get $4-$5k more before he's done. I'm so proud of him!
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