Monthly Archives: July 2013

On Paying off the Mortgage…

“For the next 6 or 7 years, we did everything in our power to pay off our mortgage, and to the extent I can point to a specific time when my aversion to debt became a life-altering force, this is it.  I could not stand having that debt; it felt burdensome beyond all reason, like a whole-body flu I couldn’t shake.”- Ben Hewitt in ‘Saved: How I Quit Worrying about Money and became the Richest Guy in the World’

I had to share that quotation with you.  If you are on the journey to be debt-free, and are ‘gazelle intense’ you will understand this statement with every fiber of your being.  We feel the same way about ever taking on any type of debt again.

I requested this book from the library after Fiscally Fit Chica mentioned it a few weeks ago.  I am enjoying the book, but the chapters about the monetary system are a little too much to contemplate while sitting at swim team practice.  I am gaining the most from the author’s personal stories.

Have you read any great personal finance books this summer?

Menu Plan Monday 7/29

vegiscabbage-graphicsfairy009Happy Monday!  Some menu plans just write themselves.  This was not one of those weeks!  I had Monday locked down but the rest of the week was a quandary.  Here we go:

Monday:  Orange Chicken, Rice, Broccoli

Tuesday: Jamie Oliver’s Curry.  A solution for the abundant kale in the garden.  We make the curry vegetarian with chickpeas, cauliflower and kale.

Wednesday: Received a coupon via email from Pizza Hut for large 1 topping carryout for $6.55.  Sounds good to me.  Arugula salad from garden.

Black bean soup - Dinner at home

Black bean soup – Dinner at home

Thursday: The Best (and Easiest) Black Bean Soup. Cornbread.

Friday:  Breakfast for dinner, which could be eggs, turkey sausage or pancakes with blueberries

If you are in need of meal planning inspiration, head on over to!

What I Did This Week to Save Money 7/27

Tissue Paper flowers for Grandma

Tissue Paper flowers for Grandma

This week I definitely enjoying slowing down and staying home more.  It gave me time to work on the to-do list, enjoy the cool summer weather, and make use of the food we have at home. My daughter seemed to need the slow time too to recover from our late night block party and swim team events.   To save money this week we:

  • ate simple meals at home and took advantage of the free food a friend gave us when she left on an extended vacation… eggs, cottage cheese, fruit, organic lettuces will not go to waste.
  • took advantage of an offer from a car insurance company (AAA) to pay me $20.00 if they could give me a quote on car insurance.  It took 5 minutes and my check should arrive in a month.
  • my daughter and I made my Grandmother some tissue paper flowers for her 92nd birthday gift
  • listed a high-end kids clothing item on Ebay (I had gotten it at a rummage of course!)
  • cashed a rebate check
  • followed up on a medical bill that our insurance did not pay.  The insurance rep suggested that the doctor’s office go back and look at the codes submitted on the claim.  I will follow up on Monday to make sure they have resubmitted the claim.
  • worked on a new system to track grocery prices.  I will share this with you next week.
  • watched an American Girl movie (Chrissa Stands Strong) from the library on a rainy day when I was feeling tempted to roam at the mall with my daughter.   Great movie on bullying and ‘mean girls’.  I recommend it as a conversation starter with your daughter.

All the staying at home and eating at home resulted in a nice amount of our weekly budget money left at the end of the week.  Most will be put towards savings but we are also stepping up efforts towards Christmas expenses.

Hope your week was a good one!

Day 2, ‘Appreciate and Maintain What You Have Week’ and I am loving it!Daylilly

So far . . .

I put away the 8 different sunscreens on the bathroom sink, left one out for convenience, and found a spot for a garden lilly.

The Lego Friends’ Village has been relocated!  A handful of legless and armless Disney figures have also found a place to hang out other than my living room floor.

My daughter and I had lunch and “tea time” on the front porch both days.  We used my Emma Bridgewater tinware and made a regular lunch a little more fancy.

Garden Lunch

My husband has been having breakfast in our sunroom the past few days, enjoying the views of vegetable garden, flowers and trees. It’s a great feeling to use all of the rooms in your house and not be paying for more space than you need.

Sometimes when I slow down a little, it helps me feel more energetic and creative.  I sent a few emails out and a neighborhood “Ghost in the Graveyard” (tag) game will be underway tonight. Look out XBOX, here comes an ‘old school’ game.

JamieOliverI reduced the tower of magazines under the living room end table, and moved my cherished Jamie Oliver magazines to the bookshelf.    It looks so wide open now!

Most of our dinner tonight will be free.  I had to switch up my meal plan after receiving free items from a friend going out of town.  We are having frittata with kale, green onions, and potato; sourdough bread, and citrus fruit and apple salad.

Living simply is not about living in poverty or self-inflicted deprivation. It’s about living an examined life where one has determined what is truly important and enough … and then just let go of all the rest. – Duane Elgin


A Simple Holiday

I am celebrating a new holiday today — and no Hallmark card is required.  I’m calling this ‘Appreciate and Maintain What You Have’ week.  I’m in the mindset to:

Stopping to smell the roses....

Stopping to smell the roses….

  • Stay home
  • Eat the food we have at home
  • Clean counters of the things we aren’t using
  • Bring some zinnias in from the garden to beautify our space
  • Sort items under the end tables and move the few magazines I am keeping to the bookshelf

Some of my feelings this week have their roots in Voluntary Simplicity.  Instead of looking for more and different why not start by working with the bounty that is already here, and already paid for?  The other part of my feelings can be summed up as ‘Will someone please put away the Lego Friends’ City that has taken over my living room for the past week?!?!’

I’ll let you know how this goes!  I hope wherever you are you are enjoying peaceful surroundings.

Menu Plan Monday 7/22

Free-Downloads-Vector-Vintage-Stove-GraphicsFairy-redWell, here we are on Monday again!  It is looking like a busy week with swim team pizza party and other summer fun, so I am keeping the menu a bit simpler.  This menu leans towards vegetarian.

Monday – DH is off, so no particular dinner planned.  We’ll see where the day takes us.

Tuesday – Black Bean and cheese quesadillas, seasonal fruit

Wednesday – Pea soup and sandwiches

Thursday – Chickpea Sambhar, adapted from Healthy South Indian Cooking: Expanded Edition.  I’ve been on a bit of an Indian cooking kick ever since coming home from Santa Fe, and chickpeas are always a hit at our table.

Friday – My favorite – take out sushi and salad at home so we don’t have to buy so much sushi!  I’ll look forward to this all week.

For more menu inspirations, head over to orgjunkie!

Magic Mike and the Economics of Exotic Dancing

You know your Dave Ramsey, money-saving ways are really ingrained when they interfere with your enjoyment of a mindless ‘chick flick’!

The Movie:  ‘Magic Mike’ – about a Chippendales-style dancer by night and construction worker by day

The Conflict:  Wants to start his own furniture business, can’t get a loan

The Economics:  Movie implies he clears $300 a night, apparently not paying taxes, works construction by day.  Net = $ 90,000+ a year

Savings:  $ 13,000, cash

Mike is an experienced dancer and over 3-4 years of dancing he is averaging 4% savings or less!  Awful.  Dave Ramsey would say he has a lifestyle problem, not an income problem.  Magic Mike, time to sell that expensive pickup truck, you don’t need it to impress the ladies.  Fix your credit and start paying Uncle Sam his portion of all those ones and fives you are bringing home every night.  Get yourself a written budget and start packing a PB&J along with your stars-and-stripes thong when you go to work at night.  Cut back on the club scene drugs and relax with a Microsoft Excel budget and some wine-in-a-box after a night of dancing.  Now, that’s a story-line I can get behind!

Summer Minestrone Soup

When life gives you basil.... and zucchini...  and beans...

When life gives you basil…. and zucchini… and beans…

This recipe is adapted from the wonderful book Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes from the Author of The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas.  It is a great way to make a dent in your garden veggies.  The recipe is super flexible.  Free free to use ingredients you have or prefer.

Serves 6

1 can drained and rinsed beans, such as garbanzo or kidney

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 TBSP cooking oil

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1/4 cup diced carrots

1/4 cup diced celery

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1 cup green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces

1 1/2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes

2 cups sliced or diced zucchini, any color

2 cups water

3 cups stock (chicken, vegetable, whatever you have)

1/4 cup basil leaves, torn or cut into strips

1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, rough chop

OPTIONAL:  Small pasta like ditalini, red chili pepper flakes, 2 inch piece parmesan cheese rind to flavor soup, lemon slices or olive oil to garnish

In your soup pot, saute the chopped onion in oil with a sprinkle of salt over medium heat until translucent.  Add garlic and saute briefly.

You can also do 4 hours in a Crock Pot

You can also do 4 hours in a Crock Pot

Add water and stock to the onion mixture in your soup pot.  Add beans, carrots, celery, red pepper, green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, and parmesan cheese rind if using.  Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.  Add parsley, basil, and a pinch of red chili pepper flakes if using.  If the soup seems too thick, add additional stock.  Cover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.  Taste and add additional salt if needed.  Remove cheese rind.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil or a squeeze of lemon if you like.

Bon appétit!

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Perks for Kids

We were out and about this afternoon redeeming a free sub sandwich coupon my daughter earned through our library’s summer reading program and happened to discover another summer reading promotion.  Barnes and Noble has a program whereby children read 8 books and can redeem their Reading Journal for one book off of a list selected by Barnes and Noble. The program appears to be for 1st – 6th grade.

My daughter hopes to earn the newest American Girl Caroline mystery by the wonderful writer Kathleen Ernst!

Meal Plan Monday – 7/15


Santa Fe Farmer’s Market

Ah, it feels good to be back in the ol’ meal planning saddle this week!  While on vacation I read the book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good by Mark Bittman. The premise of the book is to greatly increase vegetable, fruit, and whole grain consumption and decrease dairy and meat, while not giving up anything completely.  The book piqued my interest because I am always interested in increasing veggies and beans in our menus.  I will be adding a few VB6 style recipes in the menu in the coming weeks.

Monday – Make your own French Bread pizzas, cooked pea pods

Tuesday – Baked Ziti with Vegetables and Cheese – from the VB6 book.  If the recipe is a winner I will post the recipe later this week as I don’t find it on the web.

Wednesday – Grill out chicken breast with barbeque sauce, sauteed veggies

Thursday – Summer Minestrone soup from the wonderful book Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes from the Author of The Vegetarian Epicure.  This is a fantastic, frugal soup if you have a garden or a farmer’s market.  The recipe is posted here.

Friday – Leftover Chile Colorado burritos.  If you are making the recipe for the first time I recommend cutting the beef bullion by half, or more.  This is one of the few recipes I love in the crock pot.

What’s on your menu this week?  For inspiration, head on over to orgjunkie!