Monthly Archives: December 2013

Windy City Wonders

IMG_4279Before I delve into all the budget planning for the coming year, I want to tell you about a special family day we had this month.  For me, wealth is being able to have family experiences that can be enjoyed without fear of a credit card bill the next month.  I will gladly go without a fancy car or designer purse to save for special outings.  My part-time job provides funds for our “wants.”

IMG_4259Every Christmas season we try to have a family day, such as going to the Nutcracker.  My husband is a peach about going where his girls want to go.  This year we went to Chicago for the all-out American Girl experience and holiday tea at The Peninsula Hotel. My daughter had intended to get the doll Molly as a Christmas present, but she was retired and sold out!  We were stunned but ‘Saige’ was the choice after a LOT of deliberation.

Children's Tea

Children’s Tea

The Peninsula Hotel is very walkable from American Girl place.  We tried to make a reservation in early October and they were already booked!  They added another seating and we lucked into a reservation.  The Peninsula is elegant, yet comfortable.  They offer a children’s tea along with the regular tea menu.  Gluten-free is also an option.  A wonderful thing about afternoon tea is the relaxed pace, which is usually elusive when you are used to dining with children.

Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula Hotel Chicago

Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula Hotel Chicago

Saige at the Peninsula

Saige Living it Up at the Peninsula

When you walk the streets of Chicago with a doll, you meet other doll lovers of all ages, races, and walks of life.  They all are eager to get a closer look, and know the doll’s name.  I tried to savor the experience, knowing that in the US, American Girl dolls are kind of the last stop in girlhood before the pre-teen years come knocking.  Three years from now American Girl will seem as far away as the days of Elmo and Cookie Monster do now.

If you are up for a little humor, see what happened when Conan O’Brien visited American Girl Place!


Back from my Blogging Siesta

A whole lot of eating going on!

A whole lot of eating going on!

Happy New Year!  The past few weeks have just flown by in a flurry of cookies, rich foods, and somewhat carefree spending.  We had an excellent Christmas.  My mom made my daughter an American Girl doll bed, which truly is the best bed in the house.  She also spoiled me with a retired American Girl item off eBay for my doll, Addy.

What are your plans for New Year’s?  We usually have a family movie and snacks in front of the TV.  We will also play our new game, Ticket to Ride, which was a family gift.  We are having great fun with it.


Ticket to Ride

My husband and I talked over our budget plans for 2014 and I will post about that soon.  It is so helpful to look into the year ahead and get a sense of where you need your money to be.   Writing down the goals is an important next step to keep your motivation up!

Questions you might ask about the year ahead:

Auto expenses… will you need new brakes, tires, etc.?

Debt expenses… do you have loans and what debt can you kick to the curb this year?

House expenses… how old is your hot water heater?  Dishwasher?  Furnace/air conditioning?

Health expenses… dental work?  Medical or health concerns not covered by insurance?

Kid expenses… sports teams, summer camps, tuition fees?

Vacation expenses… what can you afford in the coming year?  Will you need to travel to any weddings or family events?

“Wants”… are you saving for any other “wants” such as replacement furniture, hobbies, home improvement, clothing?

Those are the things we are contemplating as we plan for 2014.  Now back to the cookies…

Menu Plan Monday – Dec 2

This year I am all about the pink poinsettia.  I hope it survives the drafty house!

This year I am all about the pink poinsettia. I hope it survives the drafty house!

Here we are in December!  I need a menu plan more than ever this week because there is so much going on.  Our family Christmas celebration is in two short weeks at our house.

MondayPioneer Woman Chili.  I will make extra and have a meal for next week when party planning makes life even busier.

Tuesday – Eggs and ham, diced potato, and fruit

Wednesday – Quesadillas with lots of toppings

Thursday – Orange chicken and rice, broccoli

Friday – hoping to take my daughter and her “BFF” to see the Disney movie “Frozen”. I saved money out of my last check to pay for this early gals night out on the town.

This week for Flylady we are in Zone 1: Entrance, Porch and Dining Room.  I started by hanging my Christmas wreath and giving some attention to a hanging plant at the front door.

For more menu planning inspirations, visit

Revisiting the Christmas Budget

Now that holiday expenses are coming into full view, I am making a few notes for next year.  I will put them right on the front cover of my Flylady ‘Cruising Through the Holidays‘ planner.

  1. Next year, budget for holiday decor.  I should have set aside $ 100.00 for Christmas tree, lights that need replacing, and floral/plant decor.   Much to my daughter’s dismay, I usually come home with a Charlie Brown-sized tree that I can carry in with one hand.  Even those cost almost $ 30.00!
  2. Next year, set aside extra money in “Mad Money” for Black Friday.  By the time “Cyber Monday” hits I predict our mad money budget categories will be on Empty.
  3. Life in December would be much easier if I had prepared some freezer meals in November.  There are a couple of weeks that are chock-full of after-school haircuts, Girl Scouts, and work parties for the holidays.

Victorian-Santa-Image-GraphicsFairy-428x1024We managed to come out of last week with $ 50.00 left in our weekly budget.  We set the money aside for an Amazon Subscribe and Save shipment coming in December.  If you haven’t read Mr. Saver’s strategy for saving with Subscribe and Save, you can read his full coverage here.

Yesterday while our daughter was at a Christmas play, DH and I got out to Target for some Christmas shopping, and it is a wonderful feeling to come home and take the money for the gifts right out of our budget!