Organizing for food storage

I’m making dinner. I’ve got my casserole almost ready for the oven, and then it happens… I’m out of that last, vital ingredient I need. You know which one I’m talking about. It’s the one item that makes or breaks the meal. I run down to my basement, flip on the light, and there it is… the one I so desperately needed. I do a little dance, and run back to the kitchen with a smile on my face. Dinner is saved.

I love the idea of food storage. I have roughly a 3 month supply of food in my basement. I don’t know what I would do without it. It has saved my family more than once over the years. This subject, to me, lies in the gray area where minimalism is concerned. Yes, I really want to have less stuff. I am slowly making my way through my belongings and getting rid of unused and unwanted items. Food storage, however, is something that I will not compromise on. I want to be prepared… emergencies or whatever other circumstances come my way.

It is extremely important to be organized when it comes to food storage. Having too much, isn’t necessarily a good thing, and neither is not having enough. Decide how far ahead you want to be, and start planning. Plan out menus for the month. Start with the meals that you know you have the ingredients for. As you get to the meals that are missing items, write them down. You can then look through your weekly ads every week until you find your needs on sale. This is where inventory lists come into play. You will know exactly what you have and what you need. I use separate sheets of paper for different categories and subcategories of items.

The categories/subcategories I use are:

FREEZER: meat, vegetables, whole meals, breakfast, desserts, and other.

PANTRY: potatoes/rice, pasta, meat, vegetables/fruits, beans(legumes), sauces & dressings, soups, cereal, peanut butter/jelly, snacks, desserts, whole meals, flours, sugars, add ins (coconut, chocolate chips, raisins, etc), juices, spices, and other.

PERSONAL HYGIENE/CLEANING: hair (shampoo, conditioner, hair spray), paper products (toilet paper, paper towels), laundry products (laundry soap, fabric softener), kitchen/cleaning (dish soap, cleaning products), personal hygiene (bar soap, tooth paste & mouth wash, floss, feminine products, deodorant), band-aids & other first aid items.

Obviously, you can pick and choose what to add and to eliminate in the lists I have here, but they are a good guideline to start with. Under each subcategory, I write what I have, what size, and how many. I try to keep these lists on my fridge so I can refer to it when I’m looking through recipes. I also check off items when they are brought up from the basement so my counts are (hopefully) correct. I have included PDF’s of my lists in this post. Personally, I write down all my specifics… (green beans, corn, etc), on my lists, and then laminate them. Then I can use a dry erase marker on top and simply change the quantity. Easy. I hope these help you!

FREEZER INVENTORY LIST 1

PANTRY INVENTORY LIST 1

PANTRY INVENTORY LIST 2

PANTRY INVENTORY LIST 3

PERSONAL HYGIENE INVENTORY LIST

These lists help me tremendously when I’m going through the grocery ads. I know what I need, and what I don’t need. I can keep an eye out for items that I’ve used. I complete an inventory of my goods every three months to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything.

Rotating your food storage is a must! I use the CanSolidator rack system for my canned foods. These help take the chore out of rotating. All I have to do it load them up, and the oldest gets used first. There are labels included. They’re adjustable for different sized cans as well. I absolutely love these babies. They are a little bit of an investment, but they really do help keep me organized. CanSolidator

So there you have it… Meal planning, creating and taking inventory! Your effort on these will help you make the most of what you have, and save you so much time and effort in the long term. LET’S DO THIS!

 

My love/hate relationship with credit cards

Once upon a time, I had credit cards… A LOT of credit cards. I had one for every store in town, plus the Costco card, several visas, and so on. I could get one, so why not? I used every single one when there was still month at the end of the money. The splurge for having a great day… It didn’t take long until not only was our income not quite enough, then it became MUCH less than enough, with the credit card payments added in. It’s the worst feeling in the world… when you have to decide which bills are going to be lucky enough to get paid that month. Should I pay my car insurance or buy groceries? That’s when the depression sets in, and the stress and worry takes over.

Fast forward several years, and my credit cards are finally all paid off, thanks to some very creative financial means. I have closed several of my credit card accounts. I want to close them all, honestly. They’re nothing but trouble for me.

This is where my love/hate relationship comes into play. Credit cards have their place, and there are so many things in our lives that require one… rental cars, hotels, online shopping, among a variety of others. My problem, however, is that I have a very hard time finding balance when using them. I have them stashed in a secret place in my home. This way there is no way for temptation when I am in town. Online is a whole different thing entirely. I have given myself an allowance every month. I got a prepaid visa credit card from Walmart.  This card gives me peace of mind when I shop online, and doesn’t allow me to go over my budget. Along with that, if by chance my information gets stolen, there are limited funds available. It depends on which card you choose, but, the one I chose has a $3 monthly fee, along with a $3 fee when you have funds added. For me, $6/month is a small price to pay for piece of mind and control of my spending. My address is assigned to the card, so any online purchases are possible, unlike prepaid visa gift cards.

The one thing that my husband talked me into was the Amazon rewards credit card. I was hesitant. I didn’t want another credit card. I made a deal with him. We were going to be making a larger purchase on Amazon, and getting this card would not only give us $70 off that large purchase, but also pay us 5% back. If I use it for gas, I get 3% back. Anything else, I get 1%. That was hard to pass up. I closed several of my other credit card accounts to offset this one. Some say that closing accounts can damage your credit score. Some say that it doesn’t. I really don’t care either way. Honestly, I’m not planning on making any big purchases for at least the next 5 years, so I’d rather close them, and build my credit back up. I don’t intend to use it for everything. I will however, use it for my Amazon and gas purchases. I get points that I can use on Amazon on the next billing cycle. walmart-moneycard-preferred FREE MONEY! I’ll make it a point to pay that credit card every week, if it has been used. If I don’t have the money in my account to pay cash, I won’t buy it. Period.

I get an offer to open an account at every store I go to.  I’ll save money, they say. As hard as it is for me to say no when they dangle the carrot of savings in front of me, I simply say, “No thanks. I get in too much trouble that way”. They smile knowingly, and then the little impulsive, hazardous moment passes. Whew!

What it comes down to is this…  If you have credit cards, that, in itself isn’t bad. When they start to become a habit and a necessity, that’s when problems start to arise. I urge you to take a step back and really look at your financial habits. See if there’s an alternative method that can better your financial future.

YOU ARE IN CHARGE of your financial future.  Make it work for you!

 

Grocery store gift cards: Why I invest in them

I have a set grocery budget every month. It works well for me. I am able to get what I need, and a little extra for storage, when the money allows. That’s the issue, isn’t it?  WHEN THE MONEY ALLOWS. Sometimes, there just isn’t anything left. I would cringe at having to pass up the incredible deal because it just wasn’t in the budget. That’s why I came up with this idea. You have to have some self restraint, but it will help you in the long run.

Once a year, when tax time rolls around, I pick my top two stores I purchase from, and invest in gift cards. It definitely depends on my refund, but I try to get $500 for each store. (You could definitely divide this money between more stores if you wanted to, but I have two main ones that I use.) I set these aside, and only use them when I find incredible deals on items for my food storage. I am very picky about what I acquire when using these little beauties. I am going on year 3 of using this method, and I’m liking how it’s turning out. I checked with my preferred stores to make sure that the gift cards wouldn’t expire on me, so if there is an extended period of time before the card is empty, I wouldn’t lose any of my funds. The last gift cards I purchased are still going strong. I still have nearly $300 between the two, and it has been about 14 months since I got them. I LOVE the fact that the balance of my gift card prints on my receipt! I write the new balance on my card with a sharpie, so I don’t forget what amount is available.

I have extras of all my essentials. These items include: dishwasher detergent, hair spray, deodorant, canned food, flour, sugars, ketchup, toilet paper, dog food, shampoo and conditioner. I only purchase these items when they are on sale… a VERY GOOD sale. I stock up, and then wait until there’s another “very good” sale. I use my gift cards for these types of stock up items. They give me the freedom to stock up on those daily use items without sacrificing my grocery budget for the month. It’s a good feeling knowing there’s some extra in my basement. I’m not going to run out. It helps me breathe a little sigh of relief.

I am going to point out the obvious here. Sales are great. Super sales are amazing. These sales AREN’T great if it’s NOT something you use. Items that end up being free are awesome, HOWEVER, if it’s something you aren’t going to use, don’t get it unless you’re planning on donating it. I personally feel it’s unnecessary, and a bit on the greedy side. I love getting things for free, don’t get me wrong. I resist the urge to get all the free stuff. Sometimes it is so hard! I literally talk myself down… I won’t get it because I know I’m not going to use it. I will only get if I know someone or some place I can give it to. Please keep that in mind. Donating to your local food banks, or homeless shelters is a big help to those in need. Use your money saving skills and do your good deed for the day. Let’s find all those amazing sales and stock up!

Gift cards for stocking up

 

Resources! Save time and money

First off, let me announce if you didn’t know already, that today is Wednesday, and Fred Meyer’s weekly ad is now being run Wednesday through Tuesday instead of Sunday through Saturday. That being said, MILK IS ON SALE THIS WEEK in the Willamette Valley. Half gallons for .99 – limit 10. Just thought you should all be as excited about this as I am!

I have quite the collection of apps and websites that I use to help guide me to sales, coupons, and overall deals. Some of them I sift through, other ones I let them do the work for me. My essential apps that I use the most are shown below. I try to use them as often as possible.

I love loyalty cards. Nearly every store has one, and I have quite a few. One of the best apps that I have found is called Key Ring. This app lets you take a photo of your loyalty cards, front and back. You can then take all those cards out of your wallet, or off your key chain, and let your helpful cashier scan the bar code that comes up directly from your phone.  It is awesome! (You can usually enter your phone number as an alternative, but I feel very “techie” when I use the app. Ha!)  Not only do I use it for loyalty cards, I use it for my library card, my Bi Mart card… the possibilities are endless. It helps keep me organized AND clutter free.

Fred Meyer is my main store with a loyalty card, and app. I seem to find the best deals for my household here. They issue a rebate coupon quarterly, based on my total purchases during that time period. Free money! I love that I get gas rewards as well. I’m all about that little extra savings. There is a time limit on the rewards, but I try to let the savings build up a bit to make sure I’m getting the best deal possible. When I know it’s going to be an extra big discount on gas (in .10 increments off/gallon, with $1 discount max/ gallon I believe), I’ll have the hubby go down and fill up his truck, since his gas tank is much bigger than my little Mazda. Safeway has a good user friendly app. They also have gas rewards, which is great!

Flipp is another great app to have at your disposal. It enables me to see all the weekly ads in one handy place without having to purchase the paper. I can see all the deals as soon as I get up in the morning.  A nice perk to Flipp is being able to enter specific items in the search box and the app will show you which stores have sales currently. You can create a shopping list in this app by clicking on the items within the chosen store. I, however, have the Our Groceries app that I love. This lovely app lets you create shopping lists by store. You can list all your items, categorize them by department, add the amount of products needed, etc. Very handy! What I like most though, is that multiple people on multiple devices can log in and add to your grocery list. The syncing is incredibly fast and very user friendly. (Thanks bro for the suggestion!)

The Target app now has their Cartwheel portion built in to their program. If you have a list for Target, check the app and search for your items. You can find coupons, percentages off, or gift cards for purchases, making your shopping trip cost a bit less. Unadvertised specials are also posted throughout the store. Text a specific word to their dedicated # and get a coupon. This comes in VERY handy around Christmas!

Checkout 51, Ibotta, and SavingStar are apps that give back to you after your purchase. They have advertised items on their apps. You highlight them, buy your product, (not necessarily in that order) and in most circumstances, take a photo of your receipt. The app verifies that the products you purchased are the ones from their list, and you get rewarded. It’s a simple process. SavingStar is a newer app that I just started using about 2 months ago, and I have made $5.25. It’s not a ton of cash, but I’ll take free money! I started using Ibotta in 2013. My lifetime earnings are $66.82. Sometimes there will be a few months where there’s nothing in there I want or need. Other times there’s multiples. The cash you earn doesn’t expire, but, for the most part, there is a $20 minimum before you can “cash out” your savings. The majority is paid with digital gift cards, but they also offer PayPal and Venmo options. (Also, think Christmas!)  Checkout 51 will send you a check once you have reached $20.00. I’ve had this account for about 6 months, and have earned $16.51. All in all, between the three, I’ve made $88.58 for buying items that are already on my shopping list… and doing nothing but punching a few icons on my phone and taking a couple of pictures.  Woo hoo!

I have a decent amount of websites, some of which are also apps, that I subscribe to. I have a designated email strictly for these subscriptions. It’s much easier to sift through! Fabulously Frugal is one of my favorites. Not only do they email me info on deals that are free, or heavily discounted, they tell me exactly what I need, where to go, and what to do to get the deal. See? They do the work FOR me! I don’t always have every coupon, because I don’t get the Sunday paper with the coupons, BUT I don’t have a mountain of clutter and recycling to go through and dispose of.

Krazy Coupon Lady is another one of my favorites. They have an amazing coupon database that takes the hassle out of searching for specifics.

Raise (discounted gift cards) is a great app/website for purchasing store gift cards at discount prices. I love using this site around the holidays. It is a great way to get more bang for your buck.

Coupon Mom, Ebates,  RetailMeNot, Coupon Cabin, and Smart Source are also great for finding printable and online coupons and coupon codes. (And if you’re going to buy online, go thru the Ebates website. Yet once again, free money back in many instances, at websites you were going to buy from anyway!)

Honestly, I could go on and on for days about all the different websites and apps. It amazes me how much information is out there! The older I get, the more respect I have for my parents and grandparents clipping all those coupons to get a deal all those years ago. Granted, driving all over the San Gabriel/Pasadena, CA area to save .50 doesn’t amount to much considering the cost of gas, BUT it’s the principle of it all, right??  There’s not a lot that gets me as excited as getting an incredible deal on something… just ask my daughter, she usually benefits from my money saving adventures. I’m sure there are so many more I have missed. If you have any to suggest, please comment! I would love to get the word out!  HAPPY SAVING!

 

Apps that rock

Milk: the most expensive item on my grocery list

I am a firm believer in the cash envelope system. It has really made a difference in the way I spend my money, whether it be groceries, personal spending, or bills. It has DEFINITELY helped me stay on budget when it comes to groceries. When the money is gone, it’s gone. Done. I tend to freak out a bit, when I see my grocery money dwindling, so I am diligent about keeping track of my purchases.

Anyone who knows me and my family knows that we go through A LOT of milk every week. When my two kids still lived at home, we went through 14 gallons a week. Yes, you read that correctly. Fourteen. It was very expensive. We had a refrigerator dedicated to milk. (and still do, I might add)  I learned to get creative with my milk purchases. For quite awhile, Rite Aid had a markdown day every week. Milk would be marked down to half price if it was within 5 days of the date printed on the jug. I was overjoyed. My milk budget dropped by about 33%. Milk at Rite Aid normally wasn’t cheaper than my normal grocery store, but with the half price discount, it became a bargain. I also discovered that we can drink our milk until about 5 days past the date on the jug. It seemed that on day 6 past the date, the milk turned sour. I did this for over a year, and I rejoiced. (I remember cashiers repeatedly asking me why I didn’t just buy a cow. I suppose I could have, but, I just don’t have time for that. Haha). Then came a merger/buyout of the company, and my milk prices went back to normal. UGH. I shopped around and managed to find fairly reliable, low prices at Wal-Mart and Winco. I worked my grocery budget over and had a separate, dedicated fund strictly for milk. Heh, I literally had milk money.

Fast forward a couple of years…  My children have grown up and moved out of the house. Now, my husband and I live by ourselves, and we go through about 7 gallons of milk per week. That’s still a considerable amount of milk. What can I say… WE LIKE OUR MILK!  So, I’m still constantly looking for a great deal. I set my milk budget for $80/month. For the most part, I have it figured out. Fred Meyer. Their milk is on sale fairly routinely. It seems to be every 2-3 weeks. Sometimes it’s gallons, and sometimes it’s half gallons. Honestly, I don’t really care which size is on sale, as long as it’s cheap! When gallons go on sale, they’re usually $1.99/gallon. When the half gallons are on sale, they’re $.99/jug. I can live with that, since milk is usually anywhere from $2.69 to $2.89 depending on where you go. (Let me note here, that we usually buy skim milk, regularly priced at $2.69.) Saving 70 cents on every gallon adds up. It saves me  $20/month, or around $255/year. Woo hoo!  When the half gallons go on sale, they limit you to 10 per purchase. I’m sure I could buy more at one time and do separate transactions, but, I feel scandalous when I do it that way. I’m not sure why, I just do. Honestly, I’d rather go early in the week, and then later in the week (and I bring my daughter so she can buy milk for me). This way the dates on the jugs, hopefully, are staggered, so they last longer at home. My mother-load of milk usually lasts us until milk is on sale again, and then I do it all over again. Sometimes when I go in to get my milk, I get a lovely surprise… the unadvertised sale. Nothing makes me more giddy than to see that special yellow tag. I hear angels singing from the heavens as I fill my cart full of gallons of milk priced at $1.29. No limit. I call my hubby and find out how much room we have in that beautiful dairy filled fridge and stock up. The best part about these glorious sales is that the expiration dates are normal ones. It’s just milk.. Even better! 

My milk budget works for me. When I find that extra sale, I still have money in my envelope. I have this little thing I do at the end of every month. Whatever money is left in that envelope, I divide it up. Half of it goes into my Christmas fund jar, and half goes back into my envelope, just in case a sale takes a little longer to come back around. I have it covered.  It’s usually not an adsorbent amount, but it keeps me within my spending guidelines.

Buying milk in bulk isn’t for everyone.  I’m pretty fortunate to have room in my garage for my extra refrigerator. I realize that not everyone has that luxury. If you can swing it though, I highly recommend it. We originally started out with a three foot tall mini fridge in our basement that worked for quite awhile, until the growth spurts happened… Oh boy!

  Do your research, and figure out the sales trends. Your budget will thank you!

Getting more out of life

I go through life one day at a time, just like you, I’m sure. I wake up, go to work, come home, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day. Anymore, it seems that’s all I do. There seems to be little or no time for the things I long to do. My days, evenings, and weekends are full of chores and things I HAVE to do. After awhile, I feel like my routine is so…. routine. I realize that I’m taking so many things for granted. I’m taking EVERYTHING for granted. I would lay awake in bed dreading getting up in the morning to go do the same things… again. I needed a change.

Then, something amazing happened last summer. I had dinner with some of my music friends one evening. I’ve known these lovely ladies since high school, and even though we didn’t see each other all that often, it was always like no time had passed at all. We sat for hours talking about getting a music group together. Mind you, we have lightly touched on it in the past, BUT, this time was different. We wanted it… BADLY. We wanted to be a part of something inventive and creative. We wanted to have fun. We wanted to be a part of something special. We sat and wrote down page after page of ideas. We made plans. We made time commitments. That was the spark that changed something in me. 

We all lead busy lives. We all lead stressful lives. We made time in our busy, stressful lives to meet EVERY WEEK for a few hours. (Okay, I think we’ve missed 4 in the last 9 months, but that is nothing to scoff at!)  We work on exciting music. (And someday soon, we’ll figure out how to put it all together!) We talk about anything and everything… and I do mean ANYTHING. We vent. We cry. We laugh hysterically. We have an amazing friendship. We have a support system. These wonderful women challenge me, and hold me accountable for all the things I say I want to do. Together we have a vast amount of knowledge and connections. They make me want to do more with the gifts I’ve been blessed with, and they know how to help make it happen. My life has changed.

When we first started getting together every week, I felt a bit guilty. I left my hubby and my doggies at home, and went to our meeting. I felt bad about getting home a little later than I probably should on a “school night”. I mentioned this to my other half, and I was surprised by his reply. He told me that he had seen a change in me. He said he could see that I seemed to be happier. I’ve been in a better mood.  I’m enjoying being me. He doesn’t mind that I go. In fact, he insists that I go. That is incredible.

I have a lot of hobbies. I love photography. I love music. I love being craftsy. I love writing. I feel like I have accomplished more in the last 9 months, than I have in the last 20 years. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and put myself out there. I truly feel that I am getting more out of life. 

My challenge for you, is simple. Put yourself out there and do all those wonderful things you’ve been meaning to do. Start with one simple thing. Make time for yourself. Learn something new. This is such an amazing time to be alive. Knowledge is at our fingertips. Even the littlest of things can change your attitude. It can change your whole perspective. It will make you feel alive.

Shadow dancer

GO AND GET MORE OUT OF LIFE.

Getting rid of clutter

There is nothing more frustrating than getting my hands on a potentially informative “how to” book, only to find upon completion, that I have learned absolutely nothing new. I have high hopes that there will be great insight for making my minimalist hopes a reality. I need an easy, realistic, virtually pain free, “baby steps” process to make all my dreams come true. I need something to be spelled out for me and tell me exactly what to do. I look around me, see all the stuff, and immediately say, “Nope. I can’t do this”. I have failed before I have even started.

I am definitely NOT a hoarder. I have, however, inherited the pack-rat gene. (Obstacle #1) Yep, it’s true. Admitting the problem is the first step to recovery, am I right?! It has taken me a very long time to get a grip on it. At first, I was in denial. I couldn’t possibly do what my parents AND grandparents did. Then, through some in depth soul-searching, my eyes were opened, and all my stuff stared me down and slapped me in the face. Oh. My. Gosh. I hold onto stuff, “just in case”, exactly like they did. I didn’t think it was a problem, until it WAS a problem. At that point, I decided I needed to dig in and get rid of things. Obstacle #2- I have a great deal of emotional attachment to my stuff. I have good reason to be this way. I have a pretty small family, and both my parents have passed on. I am so afraid that if I get rid of things, I am going to forget all the memories that go with them. Most of these things have no real value to anyone but me. Obstacle #3- I have things set aside for all those amazing creative, craftsy ideas that are floating around in my head. I have A LOT of great ideas, and they always reveal themselves when I lie down for bed, or wake me up at 2:30 in the morning. Seriously. So now, I have piles, bins, and baskets stuffed full of these projects in various stages of completion. Ostacle #4- I also have piles of broken things that I feel I can fix. I am a handy person. I love to fix things. I’m good at fixing things. I SHOULD fix the things.

My tips for MY obstacles seem to work for me. I would love to think that they will work for everyone, but, we know how that goes. If you haven’t tried them, by all means, give it a try. It might surprise you.

Obstacle #1- Admitting you have too much stuff is a HUGE deal. You’ve recognized it. Now you notice all that stuff sitting around.That’s good! It’s time to watch it go away.

Obstacle #2- When it comes to MY emotional obstacles, I decided that taking a digital picture(s) of the item, and getting rid of the actual item will still allow me to recollect the memory associated with the item without actually having the item IN MY HOUSE. It works, and I love it.

Obstacle #3- This one was one of the hardest for me. I have these visions of amazing projects becoming even more amazing things I will cherish forever….  HA! I have such a giant pile of projects, I don’t think I’ll be done by the time I’m ready to retire. Having said that, I have become very brutal with my decisions of what to keep. Honestly, I threw away probably 100 projects I wanted to do. Why? I have had some of these projects since before I moved into my current home… 18 YEARS AGO. Yep, you guessed it. Buh-bye! It’s not going to happen if it hasn’t by now.

Obstacle #4- This obstacle very closely resembles obstacle #3. Most of the items in my “to fix” bin have been there for years. My intentions for wanting to fix these things is warranted, but, obviously, I haven’t missed it enough to bother with fixing, so, out it goes. It feels good, doesn’t it? I’m breathing a deep sigh of relief right now.

I am going to spell it out for YOU and tell YOU what to do. I have two ideas that will rock your world. The first one is “5 things”. I want you to commit to getting rid of 5 things a day. That isn’t hard to do. It could be as simple as those sad socks that lost their mate a year ago, or the ink pen that writes terribly but is oh-so cute. Seriously, throw it away. Just let it happen! 5 THINGS will change you! If you started today, by the end of the year you would have 1,825 less things! Really!

Here’s idea number two… My friend introduced me to a little pot of gold… two simple words…  POWER HOUR.  This may not seem all that great, but, this will soon be your best friend. Imagine an entire phone free, facebook free, snapchat free hour, listening to your most motivational music, focusing on one thing, and taming the beast. Throw things away. Clean. Organize. Exercise. For one incredibly focused hour. Then, at the end of your hour, look around at what you’ve done and celebrate! You deserve it! By all means, if you feel like continuing, do it! You don’t have to though, and that’s okay. It’s progress.

My take on the “how to” of decluttering works for me. I have gotten rid of so many things! I literally breathe a sigh of relief when I look around and things have a home. I feel less stressed. That, my friends, is what it’s all about.

The learning curve

I have never been an overly computer savvy person. I have known this for a VERY long time. I know enough to “fake it ’til I make it”, but sometimes even that is a struggle. Fortunately for me, I know people who do this for a living, so if I bribe these people with enough baked goods, they will give me some sound advice. (Kindly insert angels singing, and rays of sunlight shining down on me!)

As I attempt to set up my menus, links, and extras, I am feeling several emotions running through me. First and foremost, I feel excited. I am giddy with anticipation of what the future holds. I have so much to share with all of you! Following very closely behind excitement is sheer frustration, and the very real urge to cry. Why did I think this blog thing was a good idea, when all I want to do is throw my computer out into my back yard right now. As I have revisited the same screens repeatedly for the 20+ time, I figure I should write down what I have done, so I know how to get back to that spot. I know as I become more familiar with everything, it will become easier. It just needs to happen much faster.

What I am really hoping will come out of this particular challenge is more patience, knowledge, and appreciation. I have a fair bit of patience, but evidently I need more. It is extremely obvious that I could use the knowledge. Practice, practice right? Eventually, that practice will turn into my appreciation for figuring it out.  I WILL figure it out. I am determined and stubborn.

Think about those words for just a moment…  Stubbornness. Determination. Patience. Knowledge. Appreciation.  Any time we decide to change things in our minds, hearts, and lives, it’s hard. Stubbornness creeps in and tries to take over. Habits don’t want to be broken. They sure won’t be broken overnight. Our determination to make changes within ourselves will help us gain the patience we need to succeed. As the days and weeks pass, we learn how to cope with our struggles. We learn how to meet our goals and have more success. And then, my friends, comes the appreciation… for the hard work, and the learning curve.

It is my hope that together, we can make some changes (even if they’re little ones), and make our lives a bit better. Get your determination ready!

~And so it begins~

I have toyed with the idea of a blog for many years. To be honest, it seems that I start one, and then I lose interest after some time. Embarrassingly enough, it doesn’t seem to take all that long. Evidently, my attention span for my previous blogs is about 2 minutes. It disappoints me so much. I love to write. I always have. I love to discuss topics that I am passionate about, doesn’t everyone? And then, as I was chatting with my dear friends a few weeks ago, it became so apparent as to why my other attempts have failed. I like to do so many things. That in itself is not a bad thing. However, the list of things that I am truly PASSIONATE about, is not nearly as long.  Did you see the light turn on above my head? I consider myself to be a reasonably smart woman, so why this took me so long to figure out is beyond me.

My intention is to share my knowledge with those who want a different perspective. I realize that the subjects that fascinate me might not be as interesting to others, but, maybe I can at least get you to visualize a different way of doing things that could be beneficial. I try to be honest. I try to be insightful.  I try to have good grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I have realized though, that I sometimes will compromise just a bit to make sure that my personality and opinion shines through. It will manifest itself at some point!

Let’s go on a journey together and make a difference! That difference for me is my own sanity. Let us begin!20160926_070847-1