Thursday, April 29, 2010

I love triple coupons!

Harris Teeter is having triple coupons this week, and I scored some great deals.  You are limited to 20 tripled coupons per day, so I will make a second trip tomorrow for a bunch of free yogurt with Yoplait coupons that I have.  Here’s what we got today:

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Total value: $57.81 (before store sales)
Total Coupons: $38.56
Total Paid: $10.70

Savings: 81%

Items lost: one pacifier

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Toilet Paper Pictures

I was “inspired” to take these pictures when I saw some similar ones decorating the bathroom at the portrait studio.  They were all babies, wearing only a diaper, and playing with a roll of toilet paper.  “How cute” I thought!  It didn’t work out so well with Elaine, but we tried.  I usually just let the natural light come in through the windows.  I took the pictures first thing this morning, and apparently there wasn’t enough light.  Many came out blurry because I had turned the flash off.  They aren’t what I was aiming for, but I still got a few good shots.  Take a peek…

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“Is this the look you want, Mom?”

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“Okay, how’s this?”"

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“Look at the mess I made!”

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“It rips!  Cool!”

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“Can I eat it?  Please”

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“It tastes like…peas.  Can you tell from my face?”

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“Okay, I’ll pose again.”

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“I want to play with the hairbrush.”

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“I’m tired of sitting up.  Can I try to crawl again?”

(No, she hasn’t crawled yet…but she seems to be very, very close!)

Daddy’s Little Princess

Elaine wore this fabulous dress on Sunday, and she really did look like a princess!  I tried to take a picture, but she couldn’t keep her eyes off Daddy.  Here’s what we got…

Elaine 24 Weeks Princess Dress
Just a side thought…whose bright idea is it to make baby clothes “Dry Clean Only?”  You know they’re going to drool, and spit up, etc.  Good thing I only paid a buck for it!

We made it a total Daddy Day by letting Elaine help Daddy with the dishes.  She kept sticking her feet in the dishwater!

Elaine 24 Weeks dishes with daddy moby wrap

Elaine 24 Weeks dishes with daddy moby wrap

Saturday, April 24, 2010

No Spend Month

money With May just around the corner (already?!?), Ben and I have decided to do a “No Spend Month.”  I was inspired with the idea from a blog I enjoy reading, Small Notebook.  I especially enjoy this blog because the author and her family live in an apartment, and they enjoy a simple life.  Apartment living is definitely in my future for a while, and I love new ideas for organization, de-cluttering, and saving money.

Back to No Spend Month.  The challenge is to spend only $250 for an entire month.  We are doing this because we need to simplify some things, and save some more money toward our big move to Brooklyn.  We are leaving our debit cards at home, and we have $250 in cash.  When it is gone, it is gone.  Here are the details:

The $250 is for:3rd-no-spend-month

  • Food
  • Gas
  • Entertainment
  • Personal items
  • Household items

Not included:

  • Tithe
  • Gifts (already purchased)
  • Rent & bills
  • Medical expenses
  • Moving expenses (the moving truck, boxes, unexpected expenses)

We already have a trip to NY planned for May 15th.  We are attending a wedding and signing the lease on our apartment.  The money for gas, food, and hotel on this trip is already budgeted and set aside, therefore it is not included in the $250 either.

You may remember that in February we tried (and succeeded!) to spend less than $73 for groceries.  Many times during the month I didn’t think we would make it, but we sailed through with flying colors.  I am looking forward to the challenge this No Spend Month presents, and hopefully we will again be successful.  It will also help to prepare us for a life of less in Brooklyn.

Join me if you want (do you think you can do it???), or just watch and see how we do.  I’ll try to put up periodic updates, and I will certainly give the results at the end of May.  Part of the reason I am blogging about our goal is for accountability.  Now that it is published, I can’t back down!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I couldn’t resist…

Not to bombard with pictures of Elaine today (though I’m sure the grandparents don’t mind), but I couldn’t resist putting up another post.  I got some cute shots after I published my Wordless Wednesday.  So I guess this is the worded edition!

Elaine 23 weeks sitting up in tub
Elaine sat up in the bath by herself for the first time today.  She really enjoyed “touching” the water, splashing, and the floating rubber ducky.  But what she really wanted was my camera!  Anything that Mommy or Daddy is holding or doing becomes something in which Elaine wants to participate! It can be challenging, especially of liquid is involved!

Elaine 23 weeks sitting up in tub
I couldn’t decide which picture was better, so I had to put them both up.  You’d never know that yesterday she was a snotty, stuffed-up, cranky, teething emotional mess, would you?

Elaine 23 weeks Jean skirt 
I picked up this little jean skirt at a tag sale on Saturday.  I thought it was adorable.  But alas, I can’t take a standing-up picture and hold onto her at the same time.  I tried.  It doesn’t work!

And for something different (because I seem to be in a “different” mood today), here’s what we had for supper last night!

Matzo ball soup

I made Matzo Ball Soup from this recipe.  Sort of.  I cut the soup recipe in half because I didn’t have enough chicken, and I didn’t want chicken around for ages to come.  I had some matzo meal that I got on sale after Passover.  I wanted something different.  It was…okay.  The matzo balls were a little bland this time…they were boiled instead of fried.  And Ben said that it was good, “but I don’t want it very often because it reminds me of my dad’s turkey soup.”  I guess turkey soup isn’t a pleasant memory???  Ben seems to be picky in the soup department!  So, we are having leftovers tonight, and then no more Matzo Ball Soup.  For a while.

Hope you have a blessed, happy, sunny day!  Now that Elaine is already up from her morning nap I must get on with things here…

Wordless Wednesday: Twinkle Toes (23 Weeks)

Elaine 23 Weeks Painted toes

Elaine 23 Weeks Painted toes

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Smiles

Here are a few things to smile about:

:: Starbucks chai latte and vanilla scones for breakfast ::

:: Free Mary Kay facial and new makeup ::

:: Tag sales with 25 cent shoes ::

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:: Enough sun for sunglasses, but not enough for air conditioning ::

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:: Carrots for the first time ::

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:: Cupboards stocked with Special K for 89 cents a box ::

And if you need a reason to perk up, just consider this: you could have to clean THIS up!

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(yes, some of it did actually get in her mouth!)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: 22 Weeks

Elaine 21 Weeks Utz Addict

“What?  Starting on solids doesn’t include potato chips?  But they’re ‘Reduced Fat’!”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Brooklyn Apartment

We now have an apartment in Brooklyn.  We haven’t officially signed the lease, but they want us for renters and we want to rent from them!  It is on the third floor of a brownstone house in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.  This is not the same neighborhood as Bethel Baptist Fellowship, but it is within a reasonable distance.

The landlords live in the first and second floors.  It is a lady, her brother, sister-in-law, and eleven year old niece.  They have a cat named Rocky that roams the house.

Brooklyn Brownstone

These are the steps to the front door.  It enters on the second level.  There is another entrance under the steps to go down to the first level.  When you walk in the front door, the steps up to our apartment are immediately on the left, and a hallway with living room of the landlord is on the right.

Following is a video.  Here are a couple of notes to clarify things (I made the video fast).  When you come up the stairs there is a hall leading to the right and left.  At the end of the hall on the right is the small room.  If you are facing the small room there is a door on the left leading to the living room.  At the beginning of the video I go through a door to the left from the hallway – this door is immediately at the top of the steps, and leads to the bathroom, kitchen, and then you can make a circle through the master bedroom, dining room, and living room.

Brooklyn Brownstone     Brooklyn Brownstone
[Click to enlarge] The first and second floors (L);  We will live on the third floor (R).  The little window is our dining room, and the bay windows are the living room.

Some notes:  We are changing how we will use the rooms.  In the video there is a yellow room that I call the master bedroom.  We are going to make that Elaine’s room.  There is no closet, so we will likely get some sort of wardrobe to put in there for our closet, and maybe also use it for storage.  The room that I refer to as the dining room in the video will be our master bedroom.  There is a closet in that room.  Our bedroom will not be divided from the living room.  We will use the small room as our dining room.  Our bookshelves will also fit in there, so Ben can close the door and use it as a study.  The closet will be for my scrapbooking stuff and extra storage.  I hope that clarifies things. 

(please excuse the poor explanations.  My brain wasn’t working too great – we drove most of the night to get there.  I don’t refer to things with the right words, but maybe you can figure it out).

We were told the apartment was 1100 square feet.  Ben measured the rooms, but left out the closets, cabinets, etc.  He came up with about 600 square feet of living space.  The stairs and hallway were not included which should bring the measurement to around 900-950 square feet – a nice size for our price range.

There are several answers to prayer in this apartment.  The first is the price – it is at the bottom end of what we expected to pay.  Rent includes hot water and heat.  The second is the washing machine – a FULL SIZE WASHER!!! – in the kitchen.  The brother and sister-in-law lived in the third floor for 15 years.  They decided to leave their washing machine to be a blessing to someone.  There is a clothesline right out the window, so I don’t have to lug my laundry down three flights!  We will be blessed with Christian landlords.  Since we are sharing their home, they wanted to have Christian renters.  They have a sweet spirit and are always speaking of the Lord.  What a blessing to have good neighbors also!  They are leasing us this apartment without employment verification in hand.  They said to us, “The Lord will provide” a job!  They already have the outlets wired for window air conditioners in every room.

We can’t wait to move in.  Storage space is limited and everything is small, but I am so glad to know what I have to work with.  I am researching creative storage and organization possibilities.  We move on May 31st!

Outside pics:

Brooklyn Brownstone  Brooklyn Brownstone
[Click to enlarge] The “common area” porch; The view down the street.

Inside pics:

Bed Room 2This will be Elaine’s room and the storage room.  The windows face the back yard.

Kitchen 2  Kitchen 1
The kitchen

Second Bedroom 2 
The dining room/study

Bed Room 1
The master bedroom facing the living room

Now y’all come visit if you’re in Brooklyn!

Cleaning out the clutter

MoneySavingMom is having a “Clear out the Clutter” challenge in preparation for her annual garage sale.  The timing couldn’t be better!  I already have a garage (or “tag”) sale stash, and now that I know what my apartment in Brooklyn has to offer for space and storage, I can make better choices in clearing out my clutter.  Here’s what I accomplished yesterday…

My goal was to clean out from underneath our bed.  That will be pretty much our only storage space in NYC, and there are several unneeded items currently “living” there.  I also wanted to reduce my crafting supplies. 

I started in the living room and emptied these:
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It’s an entertainment center that we have been using for decor, and we are not taking it to NY.  I condensed, threw away, and moved the stuff into the cabinet under our bookshelf.

Scrapbooking and stamping supplies – from this: pict0028
(double wide four drawer cart)

to this:
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(single wide three drawer cart)

It was actually a trade off because I switched the scrapbooking supplies for Elaine’s items, but it better organized both of them, and the four drawer cart is in nicer condition to sit out in a room as a “dresser.”  The three drawer cart will fit in the tiny closet in the new apartment.

Eliminated:
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(wheeled scrapbooking storage).  Reduced supplies to fit into one bag instead of two. 

Rubber Stamps – from two of these:
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(tiny three drawer box) to only one. 

Emptied:
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(under the bed storage container).  It had yarn and crochet patterns in it.  I gave the yarn to my pastor’s wife, reduced the patterns to my favorites, and now the container is ready to be repurposed in Brooklyn.

And I also threw away three shoeboxes of sermon tapes!

pict0022Elaine: “Yay Mom!  You go!  But what are these strange devices?  I’ve never seen them before!”
Mommy:   “That’s because they’re outdated.  We use CD’s now.  Time to get into the 21st century!”

So…maybe it is strange to broadcast my clutter to all of my blogland readers and Facebook friends.  But I felt accomplished after yesterday, and like living in Brooklyn was just a little bit more attainable.  I’m not done yet!  But I probably won’t put up pictures of everything!  The under-the-bed box was filled with trash to be taken out at the end of my day.  What a relief!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Catching Up

I’ve been absent here for a little while…sorry.  We made a fast trip to Brooklyn on Friday night to view an apartment. Elaine 21 Weeks Shape Sorter Helmet

Wordless Wednesday Game
On Wednesday I asked you to guess what Elaine had on her head in the pictures.  I never posted the answer.  It is the top to her shape sorter that Grandma Godby purchased.  Denise Sweede guessed on Facebook, and got it right!  Here’s a picture…

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Apartment
I am 99% sure we are going to take it, but Ben has one other thing to check on first.  I will post pictures and a video once we know for sure.

FaithPICT0005
This apartment is both an answer to prayer and a rebuke to my faith (or lack of it).  I have been praying specifically for a wash machine, though I know it is a rare find in NYC.  We use cloth diapers, and while it is possible to do them at the laundry mat, it would be very expensive because of the frequent washings.  I was looking into a portable washing machine when people told me I was crazy to hope for one in the apartment.  So I still prayed, but I resigned to not having a washer, and I was okay with that.  Not only is this apartment a great price, a large size, and offered by a Christian family, but it also has a full size washing machine and a clothesline right out the window.  The landlord was going to remove the washer but decided to leave it because it “might be a blessing to someone”.  I think that someone might be me, and I just can’t believe God answered my prayer (though He has done it many times before and I shouldn’t be surprised at His goodness and expressions of love to His children).

Clearing out the Clutter
Now that we have viewed a view Brooklyn apartments, I have a PICT0009 better idea of space and storage…or rather the non-existence of them!  I am motivated to clean out even more non-essentials from our home, and I can’t wait to have a garage sale.  I am looking forward to getting creatively organized in a place where closets don’t exist and storage space is limited.  First thing I cleaned out…all of those sermon tapes we have been saving.  We don’t even have a cassette player anymore!  We saved a half dozen favorites, and let the rest go!  Next step…under the bed, and crafting supplies!