Monday, September 9, 2013

DIY NO-STICK SHREDDED CHEESE

Helllllloooooo, Birdies! I hope everyone had a beautiful and fun filled weekend! :-) Today, I thought I'd quickly share with you a trick I have been using for a few years now. I love to shred my own cheese but I detest how,after time, it can all stick together. Ugh! Do you hate that too or am I the only one?





I choose to shred my own cheese because:

* Blocks of Cheese Are Typically Cheaper Than Pre-Shredded
* You Get More Cheese Out of a Whole Block Than a Bag
* Fresh Cheese Melts Better and really...isn't that the point? ;-)

 So how does one get the best of both worlds? The yummy cheese minus the icky extras? I'll show you....

1. Start out with a big block of all natural cheese. This particular hunk was quite huge so I cut mine in half to make it easier to shred.


2. Pull out a glass container and sprinkle in the tiniest bit of all natural, organic flour or powdered milk. Close the lid and shake so the flour/milk dusts the sides. Open the lid and pour out any excess flour, set aside.

I ended up only using about a quarter of this flour. 
3. Get to shredding! Once shredded, fill the container layer by layer. In between each layer, sprinkle in teeny-weeny (yeah, just typed that) amounts of the same flour or powdered milk. Then SHAKE it up and you're done!!!


After a minute or two of putting in some elbow grease, you end up with freshly shredded, delicious cheese. I don't think I will ever go back to the pre-bagged alternative since I've been doing this. Just so you know, the flour does not add any texture or additional flavor to the cheese (especially if used sparingly.)


The batch pictured is only about a half a block of cheese and should last for quite some time. I just wrapped the other half and popped it back in the freezer. You can do the same. Simply defrost when ready then shred away!

I hope you find this tip helpful and if you would like to see more posts like this in the future, please comment below!

What kind of cheese do you normally buy? Do you think you will try this method? 

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Friday, September 6, 2013

2013 Favorites: August Edition

Heyyyyyy Birdies!!! Can you even believe it is September?? It seems like summer just started last week. Believe me! I am not complaining. This means I am just that much closer to Fall (one of my fave's) and even more importantly...{drum roll please} CHRISTMAS!!!! Ooooh, even typing that gave me chills. But before I let myself get carried away with seasonal excitement, I thought I would introduce you to something new I am wanting to try. I thought it might be fun to do a monthly favorites list. I am a YouTube junkie and "Favorites" are always some of my top videos to watch. Typically it is the internet beauty guru's that go over their favorite beauty or beauty related items from each month. For my favorites, I want to be a little more broad. Beauty products, home products, websites, recipes, clothes, moments, books, songs...really, anything that made an impression on me. Take a look! :-)



1. FAVORITE BEAUTY PRODUCTe.l.f. Liquid Liner 
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Being an eyeliner snob, I wasn't sure if I would care for this inexpensive alternative compared to my pricier fave's. For being only $1 (yeah....ONE DOLLAR), this liner packs quite a punch. Traditional black is my go to and e.l.f. black in #4203 does not disappoint. It has great color pay off and stays on all day long. It is very easy to apply as well! The only thing I don't love is that it tends to be a bit messy during application. I find random specks on my hand after putting it on but I can live with it for the price. Nothing a little coconut oil on a Q-tip can't fix. Don't get me wrong, I love my fancy schmancy gel liners but through August this guy was my go-to and most likely will be through September. They have some other colors which look appealing for fall so I am definitely trying them. Sidenote: You can find e.l.f. products at Target, Christmas Tree Shoppes, and online. If you know of another place to purchase this brand, let me know in the comments. :-)

2. FAVORITE BOOK: 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way by Sarah Mae

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I mentioned the 31 Days to Clean in this post and let me tell ya! I LOVE this book. Sarah Mae, the author, encourages the reader to clean....but not just clean. She implores that we look inside and ask why we clean, why we want a tidy home. The daily lessons are short and sweet but that is not to say they don't get right to the heart of the matter. The verses Sarah shares along with her own personal stories really touched me and I highly recommend this book to anyone for any reason. Whether you want a monthly cleaning schedule, to simply read a good book, or to have your spirit uplifted, I would say to download this e-book. You can click on the title or the picture to pull up the web link or you can download it directly to your Kindle (or most e-readers) by going to the "Store." Also, be sure to check out her blog www.31daystoclean.com for more tips!

3. FAVORITE VERSE: Jeremiah 31:25

"For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul." 

So simple but so beautifully strong. You may read this as being in the past tense but for me I see it as eternal.....this verse states what God has done, what He is doing, and what He will do. Not to say that I or my family are exclusive in our struggles, we are not, but we have really gone through a lot. The past 2 years especially have been so full of ups and downs....sometimes more downs than anything else but through it all God has satiated our weary souls. He has replenished us. He has renewed our strength and shown us new grace every morning. Through His mercy and love, He has made us able to get through the challenges with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts. Although there have been days where the heaviness of the situations have seemed overwhelming and heart breaking, the Holy Spirit sweeps in and causes us to sing our Savior's praises. Because of His replenishment, we have been able to see even more how good God truly is. If you are going through a time that seems unbearable....like you don't know how you can move forward, please know that God loves you and is ready to lift that burden. He wants to replenish your sorrowful soul and fill you with joy.

4. FAVORITE YOU-TUBER: Louise from Sprinkle of Glitter 

I may not do this category every month because Louise may always top the list. Lou is from England, has an adorable family, fun fashion & beauty style, and a personality that definitely sparkles! She has a main channel called "Sprinkle of Glitter" and a vlog channel called "Sprinkle of Chatter." I love both but am partial to the Chatter channel. It is fun to see how things are so different or so similar in other parts of the world. Louise is one of my favorites because she is so open, fun, and encouraging. I feel a real kinship to her somehow like if she lived in my neck of the woods we would probably be b.f.f. (Marie, you lucky-international bff-duck!) It is amazing how this person I have never met can motivate me to look on the bright side or try things, even if I feel a bit nervous to do so. She is a curvier girl and about a month ago she did a "look book" video where she modeled various outfits that she loved or felt were flattering for her body type. She looked great and made me realize that I can still look good even if I am not a perfect size. Please, please check her YT channels and blog out. You will not regret letting this sunshiney soul into your life! And if you don't believe me that you will like her, check out this video of her too-cute-for-words-daughter dancing. ADORABLE!

5. FAVORITE MOMENT: Family Trip To Lake Michigan

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Unexpectedly my mom called, with an excitement in her voice that I haven't heard in a while, that my cousin Rob was letting us stay in his lake house for Labor Day weekend! This was a hugely kind and generous thing he did. Once I heard the news, I instantly sent a text asking for that weekend off and prayed that it would work out. It did and soon enough we were Lake Michigan bound! The weather may not have been perfect for our stay but I cannot complain because what the weekend provided wasn't based on temps and storm clouds alone. My family and I were able to completely rest. We slept like babies, ate like kings (if kings eat turkey burgers, that is), and lounged around like we didn't have a care in the world.











These are just a few of the pics I snapped on my cell phone. My dad was really the photographer of the weekend so I will have to ask for a some of his photos so I can share them with you!

August of 2013: More than just make-up. Definitely full of heart. Of course so much more happened: surprise visit from niece + nephew, trips to Cincinnati, weddings,a surprise baby shower then about a day later one of my besties had twins!! All in all, a good month. How was yours??

I'm sorry this was a rather long post. If any of you would like my favorites but in vlog form, please let me know! Oh! And I would LOVE if you would share with me what some of your favorites from August were. Share via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and of course here!!

Thanks for reading!! HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!!!
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

31 Days To Clean: Asking Why

Hey, hey, hey! I'm starting a new challenge tomorrow and, to tell you the truth, I am pretty excited about it! I am reading "31 Days To Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way" by Sarah Mae. The author's book actually comes from her blog 31 Days to Clean. Be sure to check her out for she is the mastermind behind all of this! This book is all about cleaning but not just how to clean. Sarah focuses more on the "why" of cleaning. You may be wondering, "Why ask why? It's just cleaning." But I think it is important to ask yourself "why?" from time to time. It puts things back into focus, it helps you to root out the bad and to plant the good. The author says she is not naturally a person that is drawn to cleaning. I, on the other hand, am. For the most part. I am not going to say I have some picture perfect Martha Stewart-esque home. I don't (not yet at least....muahahaha) but I actually enjoy cleaning and I like things to be in order as much as possible. And hey! There is always room for improvement, right?

So if that is the case why am I reading this book and why am I excited about it? Well as much I like breaking out the broom, duster, and vacuum I don't feel like I have a good rhythm, if that makes sense. I have a 40 hour work schedule but the times I work vary from week to week. Literally, no week is ever the same so I feel like I don't have a balance. Some weeks I feel like Superwife and other weeks, eh...not so much. For about a year now that has really bugged me and it honestly gets me down. I feel like I am not being the me that I want to be. Lately I have been getting better as I have made a schedule but even still some days certain tasks fall to the wayside and then what happens is I rush around on my days off trying to get everything done and by the time 5 p.m. rolls around I am exhausted and wondering where my day went. AND on those days off I will sometimes become irritated at myself and bitter at the chores. Is that the heart and attitude I want to be walking around with all day? Do I want to be the wife that stresses herself out because she is running around, being busy-busy-busy and not greeting her husband with a smile because she has stretched herself too thin? Absolutely not! So I am wanting to dive into this book, not only to help myself integrate a solid cleaning schedule but to also reflect and ask God to change my heart to where I am content in Him, what I have, and what He asks me to do....whatever that may be, even if it is laundry.

I downloaded this book about a year ago but have always pushed it to the wayside but the other day I cracked open my Kindle (not quite as catchy as cracking open a book, eh?) and found it. I thought it would be the perfect time to read and take on the Mary/Martha challenges since we are entering into a new month. The really fun part is that I mentioned this to my mom and she said she wanted to do it as well. Then she told my aunt who told my cousin and now I think they are on board! It will be great to have the support and accountability. August is becoming my 31 Days to Clean Challenge month. I have a whole notebook dedicated to this and in the beginning of my notes, I have my mission cleaning statement written down. Sarah encourages the reader to think about why she wants a clean home, write down those reasons, and then to create a mission statement. She even says to print it out all fancy, maybe even frame it to where you can see it on the daily. At first I thought maybe that would be a little corny but then I realized that I won't get anywhere with that attitude so I have my mission statement created. By the end of August, I may tweak it a bit depending on what I have learned from the experience then I will jazz up my final copy. Would you like to read the rough draft??

               "By finding the balance of 'have to' and 'want to', my heart's desire is to have a house that others walk into and instantly feel at home. To create a space where goals are able to be reached, rest is abounding, order is the norm, and where I can become the woman God wants me to be without worrying about what I have to do next."

I would love it if you joined me on this journey! Download Sarah's book "31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way" here or directly from your e-reader, read the intro along with the first chapter, and start asking yourself why you want a clean home. Create your mission statement and feel free to share it with me. It would be great to see where everyone is coming from with this topic! Then tomorrow is DAY 1! I am going to try to update you all as much as possible either here, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram so be sure to follow me to see the good, the bad, and most certainly, the ugly.

Thanks for reading, have a good night, and let the cleaning begin! :-)


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Monday, July 29, 2013

Deal of the Day: Essie Nail Polish

Hey Birdies! Did you all have a great weekend? I hope so! I just wanted to stop by with a quick hello and to let you know about a deal that caught my eye.

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If you've ever been on Pinterest, you've seen samples of Essie Nail polish and if you've been out shopping, their stands are popping up all over the place. You can find them at stores like Target, Kohls, & CVS and for good reason! They cover so well, the colors are highly pigmented, and the coats last a long time. Little did I know that Christmas Tree Shops also offered them! A few things about this place that I should mention: 1. They do not sell Christmas trees. Well I am sure they do during the holidays but not year round. They are like a nicer version of a dollar type store. Or imagine if a Dollar General and a T.J. Maxx met, fell in love, and had a baby. Christmas Tree Shops would be their love child. They have home decor, toys, furniture, food, cosmetics, etc. 2. They are only in 21 states so be sure to visit their site to see if they have one in your area. I hope, for your sake, that they do! Anyway, I said all of that to say this...normally, Essie nail color runs around $8. Say what?!?

Feast your eyes on this baby! Love at first sight...except for that price. Yowza! via


But this week Christmas Tree Shops has them on sale for $2.99!!!!!

Oh yeah! Much better. via
Normally, nail polish for $2 or less is more my cup of tea but I also have to think what I am getting here. A top drawer nail polish for over 50% off. I can stock up for myself or better yet, stock up on these as gifts. Keeping your eyes peeled (most disgusting expression ever by the way) like this all year round is an amazing way to give quality gifts that impress without having to break the bank. Oh and p.s. Christmas Tree Shops does accept coupons but only in the beauty department. Keep that in your memory bank for down the road.

Do you think you will check out this deal? Have you found any other gems? What is a way that you like to stock up for gifts?? 

Thanks for stopping by and have a great night!!!


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Monday, June 24, 2013

8 EASY Ways to Save at Target

Aloha, Birdies! Hope you all had a great weekend! Ready to dive into the week? Yeah, me neither but maybe talking about Target (cue the Hallelujah chorus) and how to save there will put a little pep in your step.


Target is like the mothership of awesome and is one of my all time favorite happy places, if not #1. Once I step through their doors, I am instantly jazzed and ready to shop. I love everything about Target...their layout, their swag, their selection. Yes, I love everything except maybe their prices. For home decor, you can't beat their deals. You get chic items for much less than many top designer stores, however, for the everyday items a family needs to get by, I usually search elsewhere....until now. Here are my top 8 ways to save BIG at Target.

1. Target Coupons

Target provides plenty of store coupons for both name brand products and for their own brands like Up & Up. The site is very user friendly which I always appreciate. You can search for coupons based on brand name or store section and also by newest to oldest (i.e. coupons that are soon to expire.)

Visit www.target.com, scroll down, and you will find the coupon link on your left.


After your print, get to clipping.


2. Manufacturer Coupons




They also accept manufacturer coupons. One of the great things about this is that you can stack a manufacturers coupon on top of a Target coupon. For example, if you have a Target coupon for Sensodyne toothpaste that is $1.00 off AND you have a Sensodyne coupon for $.75 off then you can save $1.75 on that toothpaste total. Now imagine if there is already a sale on the toothpaste....let's say it is on clearance for $2.00 then you could end up paying only $.25 for sensitive toothpaste! Yowza!

3. Cartwheel

Cartwheel is a fairly new program for Target but it is one of those things that makes this store even more awesome and saving money all the more possible. Why so weak in the knees for Cartwheel? Well, once you are on the site you can look up items either by brand name, type, or choose one of the prefabricated categories like "Healthy & Beauty", much like on their coupon page. A huge selection will pop up ranging from 5% off of Up & Up Facial Cleansers to 20% off of Sensodyne toothpaste and more!! Instead of working like coupons where you get a dollar amount off, you get a percentage off instead. When you first begin you can select up to 10 items. Once those items are selected, you print a page off showing the items you are planning to save on and in the upper right hand corner there will be a bar code. At the register, along with your sale items and coupons, hand the cashier your Cartwheel page, they will scan said code and the savings will instantly appear on your receipt. This service is also very interactive which adds a fun flair! You can earn badges which equals to more money off! Use your Cartwheel bar code for the first time and you immediately get a badge. Holla!

Visit the Cartwheel site by clicking HERE




Print this page and take it with you on your next shopping trip.


4. Target Sample Spot


By simply typing in "sample" on Target's website you will be led to a new page where there may be samples available for you to try. Or click HERE. From my experience, there are only 1-3 items listed at a time. Don't be disheartened if you don't qualify for a sample. They base availability on area so you may not be eligible for each sample but when you are then feel free to let out a "Woohoo!" and do a little jig (Ashlee Simpson style). It takes about 30 seconds to click on an item and fill out your info. Wait a few weeks then your sample arrives, usually along with a Target coupon for that item. I just received my free sample of Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil and to my delight a $1 off coupon on any Essie item. Seriously, this program is so easy and low maintenance and the rewards are great for the amount of effort you put into it...which, again, is almost nothing. Give it a go, Friends!

5. Target Coupon Alerts





Click HERE and follow the instructions at the "Coupon Alerts" section. After that is done, your phone will receive text messages about once a week including sale info and additional coupons. There is a link in the text that you need to click and then a web page will pull up with around 15 items either on sale or with a dollar amount to be taken off. Like Cartwheel, this will have a bar code that will need to be scanned. Some of these deals are the same as what can be found online but some are not. For example, they had a coupon for $1.00 off produce. I searched high & low and could not find that coupon online. I marched into my happy place with the coupon ready and my eye on a great sale...four ears of corn, 4 for $1.00. That's right, I used my coupon plus that sale to get four ears of corn for free. I don't know if it was the veg itself or that I fact that I paid nothing for it but I promise I have never had tastier corn on the cob!

6. Clearance!!!

If you haven't checked out Target's clearance aisles, get on it!! Typically, they have a clearance rack or shelf in each store department but many times I find the real goodies on the end caps. I'm telling you to not underestimate the power of an end cap. One time they had my mom's hair color on sale for $3.25 and, if I had my coupons with me like a good couponer, I could have used my $2.00 off coupon getting her tried and true {but not granny blue} hair color for a whopping $1.25. Missed the boat on that one. Sorry, Mom! You may have to dig a bit because some of the shelves might be a bit random but good things are worth fighting for. And unlike me, don't forget to bring your coupons! P.S. I don't leave home without them now.

7. Gift Card Promos


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Many times Target will offer gift cards if you purchase multiples of a certain brand or item. It is like getting paid to shop! This is great because you could either divide your purchases up in a single trip and use the cards towards the next transaction OR you could collect your cards. Stockpile those puppies and use them towards a big purchase, buying multiple sales items, or getting yourself a little something extra.

8. Dollar Bins

I think they call this section "Dollar Spot" but I am not exactly sure. Mainly because I am like the Tasmanian Devil swarming through that little corner. I love this section because you can find so much for so little. I love getting gift bags from there - so colorful & stylish! They also carry some great seasonal decor and snacks. Be on the lookout for sales here as well. Sometimes an item that was a regular price on Monday will be half off on Thursday. Half off in the dollar section?!?! Deal. Literally.

Another cool thing I just noticed on their site is called "Bonus Black Friday." By entering your name and e-mail they will start sending you alerts on sales and deals before the general public. Fun, fun! Click HERE to read more.

So there you have it! Not 1, not 2, not 3 but EIGHT easy ways to save at Target! I hope you enjoyed these tips and hey! If you have any, feel free to share with the class. :-)



Thanks for reading and have a great night!! :-)

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Restaurant Style Grilled Chicken

Hello, Birdies! Do you smell that?? Ah, yes. The scent of gas and charcoal grills alike are being lit up for another season of burgers, hot dogs, and {my personal favorite} chicken with those famous grill marks. Mmmmm! Nothing like this time of year. Because I was sick of the wicked winter we had, I embraced the warm temps by firing up our Weber. My wonderful in-laws gave us our Weber grill as a wedding present so it has been a staple in my spring and summer cooking from day one and without fail, every year, my husband will ask for my grilled chicken.
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This marinade is easy, healthy, and saves me from cooking over a hot stove in an already humid environment. Bleh! Who wants to do that? Not this girl. Why does he request my chicken you might ask? You all know how great restaurant grilled chicken can be, right? Like just the perfect amounts of tang and spices and grilly goodness? Well one day I needed a quick dinner so I kind of just threw a whole bunch of stuff into a plastic bag, tossed in some chicken, and hoped for the best. To my surprise and to my husband's delight it was like we were eating that fabulous "restaurant" chicken we adore. It had just the right amount of everything and ever since then I have made it as soon as grill season rolls around. You can too! Here is what you need:

Lemon, Sea Salt, Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Light olive oil, Bay Leaves, chives, chili powder, pepper, garlic salt, and red pepper flakes.

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (I prefer it thinly sliced; if you can't find it thinly sliced, pound it out with a meat mallott)
3/4 cup of Light Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp - 1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1/2 of a lemon, just the juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 -1 Tbsp. chives, chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 or more Bay leaves

1. Heat up your grill to at least 400 F.
2. Pour all of the ingredients, except the chicken and the lemon, into a gallon sized plastic bag.
3. Squeeze the juice of the lemon in the bag.
4. Place chicken in the bag and seal it while removing as much air as possible. Next, massage the chicken with the marinade {through the bag.}
5. Allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes but preferably for several hours or overnight.
6. Once the grill is at the appropriate temperature, with tongs lay your chicken breasts on the grill. I try to make sure I get at least one bay leaf on each chicken. (Be sure to remove those suckers before eating!) Close the lid and allow each side to cook till there is no more pink in the middle. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of at least 165 F..
7. With a clean set of tongs, remove the fully cooked chicken onto a plate and allow to rest. Do not cut into the chicken right away or else it will dry out. While it "rests" it absorbs the juices and flavors making for a more moist piece of meat.

We like to eat this chicken with our favorite fruits and veggies! Our top choice is usually grilled corn. For that, I lightly butter up some corn on the cob, place it in a foil pouch, fill it with the same seasonings as my chicken, seal up the pouches and grill for about 10 minutes. Delish!

I actually measured this out for you all because normally I just wing it, sprinkling as much as I think I will need. Feel free to do the same. These measurements are just to give you an idea. Be careful placing the chicken on the grill because it might flame up at first....at least it does for me. Fire + Anna = not always a good combo. I will actually make a few pieces at a time even though Eric and I will only eat one piece each. I reserve the other pieces for salads, sandwiches or soups. This marinade provides so much flavor that it can add pizzazz to any meal like these wraps!



Mmmm! Now I'm getting hungry. Time to fire up the grill! What is your favorite thing to grill out? I am thinking about grilling some peaches and using them as a garnish for vanilla ice cream....has any one ever tried that before? I hope you enjoy this marinade as much as we do. Let me know what you think! 

Thanks for stopping by! HAVE A GREAT DAY!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cash Envelopes: A Budget's Best Friend

Hello, Birdies! Sorry for the several weeks absence. I have been fighting off tonsillitis since Easter which has been a real treat......nope, that's a lie. It has been AWFUL. So between working and the regular grind, I haven't done much of anything. Anything clearly including blogging. My apologies but rest assured I am ready to dive back in! Are you? :-)

So previously we looked at how to make and use a budget. You can find that link here and download the free budget form here. I also teased about using cash envelopes. Some of you may be wondering what exactly cash envelopes are. The money you plan to spend for the month (which is decided based off of your budget) is divided into the appropriate categories and then placed in envelopes. I got real deep there, I know. Using this type of system isn't anything new. People have done it for generations, until the past few decades that is. Apparently financial guru, Dave Ramsey, saw that decline in the concept and brought it back to the mainstream. Through taking his course, Financial Peace University, I first learned about using cash for my monthly expenses. Now Dave is big on not using credit cards and I agree but I thought, "Surely I can just use my debit card for everything." Eh, not quite. Maybe some people have more self discipline than me but I have found that I am likely to spend quite a bit more with the swipe of my card as opposed to pulling cash out and handing it to the cashier. My husband and I pay the ol' bills online but for our everyday purchases we use cash. We have practiced using cash envelopes pretty much since we've been married and I think it has made all the difference to our finances. Here is why:

1. Using cash envelopes keeps you organized! 
They coincide perfectly with a budget by keeping the money where it needs to stay. Instead of considering your money being thrown into one big pot where you just grab it when you need, you see that your money has a specific place to go. The grocery money isn't the same as the gas money and the hair cut money certainly isn't the same as the entertainment money. If you go with the money pot mentality, every time you look at the "pot" you may think that you are fine because it is still full until you finally reach your hand in there and realize there are no more bills to grab. Seeing your money in specific envelopes and seeing those funds shrink through the month keep things in perspective.

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2. It empowers you to use your money wisely! 
Before getting married, I used my debit card for EVERYTHING. I rarely carried cash. Am I the only one?? Because of this I was constantly running through my funds in no time flat! It's like I wasn't thinking when I used my card. Every purchase kind of became an impulse buy. Now when I want something I really evaluate the choice, "Do I need this? Could I get a better deal?" Sometimes I tell myself to wait then, many times, I find that I have completely forgotten about the thing I "had to have." Other times I realize that whatever item is something important to me so I will save up and/or find the best deal possible. I owe that to the cash system. If I were still addicted to my debit card I don't think I would be as happy with my finances or purchases.

3. It gets you closer to your goals!
Because this system keeps you organized and helps you keep things in perspective, it gets you closer and closer to your BIG PICTURE goals. Personally, it is so easy for me to say "I want this" or "I need this" or "why don't we have this yet?" but then I take a step back and look at the big picture. If we had always used our debit cards or started using credit cards, never made a budget, or never used cash envelopes, my husband and I would never even be close to where we are now. If we had stayed on the old path we would be even further from our big picture goals.

If you feel disheartened with your financial future, I encourage you to take the plunge towards financial freedom. First step, make a budget. A REALISTIC budget. Second step? You got it. Using cash envelopes. I have a challenge for all of you. Try those two things for 3 months, along with couponing, and see where this path takes you. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Do you use cash envelopes now? What do you think about the idea of using cash for the everyday expenses instead of using a card? ARE YOU READY FOR THE CHALLENGE? 

Thanks for sticking with me! I appreciate you stopping by my itty-bitty area of the blogosphere! HAVE A GREAT NIGHT! :-)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Budgeting 101

Hello, Beautiful Birdies! Although I inspired Spring in my heart on Friday, the snow still came on Sunday {sigh} and apparently more is to come today and tomorrow. What the what?? It is March, right?  Almost April? Well I am going to put my big girl pants on today and get over it! Time to move on the next adventure....SPRING CLEANING!

Since the weather isn't exactly moving me to break out the duster and to open all the windows, I thought I would share with you a different way to spring "clean."  Most people tend to think of this time of year as a great time to freshen up the house and, although I agree, don't forget to spruce up your spending habits. The great thing about this "clean up" is that it has long lasting effects!  With some simple addition and subtraction + this budget form you can completely transform your money! Wanna see? Check-check-check it out!



BREAKDOWN:
1. Total up your monthly income. In this example, I put in $5,000.
2. Next, add up all your bills (i.e. water bill, cable, etc.)
3. Subtract your total monthly expenses from your monthly income. The remaining amount will be divided a few ways.
4. Total up your regular monthly expenses outside of your actual bills, like groceries and entertainment.
5. Subtract those expenses from the "remaining amount" listed above. EXAMPLE: $3,115 - $1,060 (EXPENSES) = $2,055.
6. Take that final amount ($2,055) and split it up into categories for savings. For fun, figure out the percentage. This gives you an even clearer idea of exactly where your money is going. To take it all a step further, multiply these amounts by 12 (as in 12 months or 1 year). I guarantee you will get pumped once you see how much money you can have by the end of the year. EXAMPLE: $1,745 x 12 = $20,940.

I made this budget form for my own personal usage but also to share with all of you. You can download it by clicking HERE. Don't worry, it's free. ;-) Creating a budget really helps put things into focus and makes saving money even easier than before because now you have set limits and goals.

A budget isn't something to hold you back but rather something to launch you forward into a brighter future. With this budget form, I tried to give you some ideas of how to fill it out but keep in mind, this is your money we are talking about. Add to it as you need. For example, if you have a credit card bill you want to get rid of, add it to your list of monthly payments and chip away it. Before you know it, that debt will be gone!

You may have noticed the middle section is about dividing up your money for cash envelopes. Yep, rockin' it old school! Next week, I am going to give you a break down of using cash envelopes for your monthly expenses (outside of actual bills). The benefits are many and using that system is the perfect compliment to a budget so be sure to stop by next Monday to learn more about cash envelopes!

Do you use a budget now? What about cash envelopes? Have you recently reached a financial goal??  Keep up the good work! :-)

Thank you for reading and be sure to come back for more! HAVE A GREAT DAY! :-)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Oh Spring, Where Art Thou?

Hey, hey Birdies! Brrrrrwinkles, it is cold out there! Well at least it is in my neck of the woods and let me tell you.....I AM READY FOR SPRING! Last year around this time it was in the 80's and today the high will be  barely 40. True, better than the 32 it was yesterday, but there is still snow in our forecast. SNOW! Ya' know, the white flurries that fall from the sky when it is freezing outside. Oy! I could let cabin fever do it's dirty work and make me a crazy lady but I am going to fight it by blasting happy, Springy thoughts all over the blog today. Join me, won't you?

First order of business is MUSIC. I am thinking my Jack Johnson station on Pandora will be the soundtrack for my day. Light and easy going, Jackie Boy brings just the right amount of Hawaiian warmth to my otherwise chilly surroundings.

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What next, what next? Ah, I think my bubbly toes need a pick-me-up! Loreal Colour Riche Tangerine Crush to the rescue!!! Just the perfect blend of coral, orange, and pink. Super sweet, feminine, and cheery....just what this  girl with the winter blues needs! It looks darker in this photo than what it actually is but take my word for it! It is springtime perfection!

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So I've got my music and my nails covered....next I think I need to smell fresh and spring like. I have just the thing! Ok, so maybe this body spray is a little more summery but I am going with it. When I spritz this on, I feel instantly happy.....except when I see that my bottle is almost empty!!! Ack! Oh thank goodness for Amazon! To get this scent, click HERE.

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My face needs a little love too (no comment from the peanut gallery) so I am breaking out my Hot Mama eye shadow and blush combo! I got this little gem from Birchbox a few months ago and have used it a few times. Seeing it in the palette you may think it is very strong in color yet, although heavy in pigment, it has a wonderfully velvety texture and so it just glides on with minimal effort meaning you don't need to use a lot to get a great effect! Once again, the pic doesn't do it justice. It is a fantastic blend of peaches and oranges with a slight shimmer....super fun! If I want to get into a toasty temps frame of mind, this product will definitely need to make an appearance on my lids today. Find a shade that instantly perks you up and see if it does the trick!

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And because I am unconsciously covering the senses in this post why not add some flavor to the mix? Sounds good to me....um.....er....I mean tastes good to me?!? I have some kiwi in my fridge that has my name on it. Mmmmm!

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Ah, I feel much better already! I think these little additions will hold me over till the actual warm front hits. You can do this too! Just envision warmer temps, wearing fun clothing, and doing your favorite things you love to do when mid-70's are the norm and not 40. C'MON SPRING! I'M READY FOR YOU!!

Are you a lucky duck that already has warmer temps or are you stuck in a gray, bland world of freezing degrees like me?? What do you do when you need a pick me up?? Try a few of these tricks on for size and see if they lift your spirits. I have been loving the comments lately, keep it up! :-) 

Thanks for stopping and be sure to follow the blog by clicking the follow panel to the right! And don't forget about good ol' Facebook, I'm there too! :-) Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Even More FREE Apps to Save You BIG

Hey, hey Birdies! Happy Monday!

So far, my 12 FREE Apps, Big Savings post has been my most popular so in the spirit of savings, I thought I would share with all of you lovely readers another set of apps that may save you money and time!

GeoQpons
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This app is pretty great because it shares with you deals according to Brands (like: Aeropastle or The Container Store) or according to your location. Like the Gas Buddy app, GeoQpons uses your phones GPS technology to locate where you are and then finds business's around you. I selected "Local" and found that a realtor was giving a $250 at closing and a cleaning service was offering $30 off. Quite a variety which always makes saving a few bucks even more fun!

Grocery Pal


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This really can be a shopper's pal....dare I say, even a shopper's bff?? Break out the friendship bracelets! What this little nifty app does is allow you to make a shopping list in several different ways. You can manually type in your list of things to purchase or you can select from a list of stores and the deals they are offering. Example: I clicked on "Specials", chose Aldi as my store, found that they had a deal on a pecan pie then selected "add to list" then guess what happened? It added to my list. Amazingly simple, I know. The reason I like the idea of this is because some days you aren't running to just one store. You may be running to several so to have access to some of the top deals you are looking for is a total lifesaver when you are in the thick of things. Also, you can select the option of  "Coupons", choose if you are looking for "printable brand coupons" or "loyalty card coupons" then     pick the category like "apparel." It will then populate a list for stores in your area that may be offering store coupons for their apparel items. Example: I clicked on apparel and it showed me that Rack Room Shoes had a $10 off coupon. Once again, I simply chose "add to list" then tadah! It was on my list. So on a day I am running to multiple places but don't want to carry multiple lists then this app becomes my hero and makes my life a little easier.

Mint.com
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Mint.com is a great site that also happens to have a great app as well! This website is really cool because it keeps track of all your money, helps you create a budget, and shows you ways to save even more! Mint.com pulls all of your accounts into one place as well so no more clicking all over the web to get the info you need.  Oh and in case you live in fear of forgetting to pay your bills, the app notifies you of upcoming payments. Fear banishes and you see your savings increase...not too shabby.


Out Of Milk


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Out of Milk is a pretty popular app and for good reason! It operates quickly and is extremely user friendly. You also make a list for this app and can add store deals to it but you can also use a built in scanner. If I am running low of yogurt and want to add that to my list, I take my last container, scan it, and the item is immediately added to my list. From there I can effortlessly swipe from store to store to see what deals they may be offering on the yogurt I scanned. FABULOUS!

Retail Me Not


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This is a website with an app. I tend to like that combo because when a website company makes an app they tend to make it more content and feature rich for the user. Case in point, the Retail Me Not app. After I had downloaded it, I pulled it up and it instantly populated some savings and showed me if those savings were available in store or online only. With online shopping being more popular than ever, that feature is spot on! Retail Me Not provides various categories to choose from so while playing with it I chose the gifts category and it gave me options for companies like 1800Flowers, Build a Bear, and Quebec Chocolates. Perfect if you almost forgot someone's birthday and need to send them something STAT.

Shop Kick


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Holy smokes this app is fun! You start out by choosing what gift card you are shooting for (i.e. hope to get). I chose a Target gift card, of course. But they have a load of options like Old Navy, Starbucks, and even Tiffany's....."I want to go to there." 30 Rock, Anyone? Ahem, sorry. Liz moment. Moving on, from there you can choose stores to go to then Shop Kick gives you items to scan. You don't have to buy anything but by being at the store and scanning the item, you get points a.k.a "kicks". The more points you earn the closer you are to that {Fill In The Blank} gift card. How easy, right? I mean, we are already out shopping. Might as well get rewarded while you do it!

Slice

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Slice is like an online purchase concierge. It keeps track of all of your online purchases so you can save time and money! I can see this app being super helpful during the holidays when online shopping becomes more and more of a go-to. Instead of going from site to site to track all of your purchases, it groups them all together on the app. Plus, by keeping track of that, it shows you how much you spend in a year with buying things online. If you've ever wondered how much you actually spend with Amazon, Slice will take the guess work out of it for you! The less I have to think, the better. ;-)

In this world of technology we live in, saving your hard earned mula has never been easier or more fun! Crack open your app store and explore the possibilities!

Have you tried any of the apps I mentioned in my original post? Do you use any of these apps now? Let the rest of us know what apps you are digging right now! :-) 

Thank you for reading, be sure to comment and follow! Have a great night! See you Wednesday! :-)

Note: This was not an endorsed post. These are services I have on my phone and have had success using. It is your responsibility to download and to enter the information the apps/sites require.