Monthly Archives: January 2015

Goodbye to What You Thought I Could Use…


Hi friends…

I’ve been hard at work the past weeks using the bits of time before I go to work to declutter small areas.  One thing that has been bothering me about clutter is that is steals my mental energy.  Clutter, in my life, is items that a decision should be made about but that I have not taken action on.  Clutter might be a t-shirt that fits funny or shrunk, but I barely wore it!  Or maybe if I keep it another year it will fit my daughter…  Meanwhile, every time I get dressed it is there saying “You bought me are you EVER going to wear me?”

Gifts are also an area that can become clutter.  If the gift is something I haven’t really enjoyed, it just waits there for me to enjoy it to the level the giver intended.  One recent influence on me is the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.  In the book she encourages us by saying the power of a gift is in the action of giving, not the item itself.  “Presents are not things but a means for conveying someone’s feelings,” she writes.  No one  would want the gift they gave you to make you feel guilty or unhappy for decades!

One item that I came across is the massive COMPLETE book of Shakespeare’s works, given to me by a friend who went to teach in Japan 25 YEARS AGO!  It has been sitting in my laundry room for years.  I often thought it might be “worth something” until I looked on and and found them selling for $6.00 – 12.00!  I am grateful my friend thought I was the kind of scholar that would crack open a 2,300 page book, but I decided to donate it to my local library’s “Friends of the Library” book sale.  The library gives me so much joy in my life and I hope they can use the money from the sale of the book to make the library a joyful part of someone else’s life.

For more on Marie Kendo see this article.

Menu Plan Monday Jan 19/15


Monday – YOYO You’re on your own with football playoff game leftovers

Tuesday – Eggs, smoked salmon & bagels

Wednesday – Spaghetti and meatballs

Thursday – Best and easiest black bean soup with biscuits

Black bean soup - Dinner at home

Black bean soup – Dinner at home

Friday – Having some kids over for a skating party, pizza.

For more menu inspirations, check out!

American Girl Outlet, Oshkosh

American Girl Outlet Oshkohs My fellow budgeting, decluttering, and meal-planning friends, cast your eyes away while I take a moment to talk to American Girl doll bloggers about the American Girl Outlet Store, located in Oshkosh, WI near the Experimental Aircraft Museum.  When you consider the Wilmot Warehouse Sale, the Madison Children’s Museum doll sale, and the Oshkosh outlet store, Wisconsin is quite the location for AG deal-seekers to make a pilgrimmage. There are some deals to be had for sure, and other items at the Outlet are not priced far off the catalog.

These prices are nothing to get excited about

Some prices are nothing to get excited about

There were many huge boxes with Julie’s VW car, at the still-astonishing price of $ 350.  At the Wilmot Warehouse sale this same item was $ 175.00. American Girl Julie VW In fact, there were many Julie items, but none priced to move quickly.  noexif_IMG_5258_private


The best deal is the American Girl books, all generally 50% off sticker price.  This includes the illustrated historical fiction before they switched to the BeForever books, and activity and quiz books.

Two things got our attention recently. Saige’s welcome t-shirt, $ 2.50.  A nice price!  I also saw Saige’s wrap bracelet for girls which I believe was around $6.00. American Girl SaigeAnother find was Addy’s birthday dress, retired in 2013.  The boxes contained all items originally sold with the outfit, including the pointelle stockings and a brown and cream snood.  Price was $ 14.00.  The sewing detail on this blouse and dress blows me away.  This item came home with us, paid for out of my personal fun money of course!Addy Birthday

The sleeves are to die for!

The sleeves are to die for!

There were definitely a few Ebay folks there–some items at the Outlet do have limits on how many can be purchased.  I can see how this can be an income stream, but that is too much risk for my  taste.

Other items include Bitty Baby clothing, AG clothing for girls, (including Saige’s sweater and a number of BeForever clothing for girls’ items), and clothing for retired Cecile and Marie-Grace.

There are no dolls, of course.  The only place to buy those on discount is the Madison Children’s Museum sale.

If you are in the area, it is worth a stop to be sure.  Personally, I think only the Wilmot Warehouse sale has prices to warrant a road trip.

Stop over at our AG Doll blog “The Dolls Between Us”!

Extracting Joy

Use your beautiful precious things.

This is a life lesson that keeps presenting itself to me.

Our neighbor had a Corvette that spent 98% of the time in the garage. Occasionally it came out to be washed and waxed and back into the garage for another week. It wasn’t vintage… Nothing stopping it from a trip to the grocery store, except it was too precious.

A few weeks ago our neighbor died. When the people came to take the car to sell as part of his estate, do you know that car barely could make it down the driveway? A Corvette! It was all sputters and clouds of smoke.

Teeny problem with using our treasures… All that love can wreck them. I am a fan of Emma Bridgewater dishes from England. Some are hand-painted and limited production. My daughter flung herself on the couch and my “Winter in the Country” mug broke! She was possibly sadder than I was because she knew it was really special and not easily replaced. Then I felt bad that she felt bad! We both needed to hear me say the truth that if we put away our treasures so nothing happens to them, we deny ourselves the opportunity to love and enjoy them.

Are you saving precious things for future generations? The most valuable things to loved ones are the things that bear the marks of our own love for them. Mom’s cookbook with the handwritten notes and stains trumps a pristine cookbook on the shelf every time.

BeatrixPotterMy beautiful mug-with-no-handle is currently a chair for my Beatrix Potter friend Jeremy Fisher. It still brings me joy when I see it and my daughter laughed when she noticed him on the bookshelf.

Menu Plan Monday Jan 12/15


Last week’s menu plan included quiche, which was a huge hit with all parties.  It was even better the second day!  This week’s meals are a little less inspired because we have a number of things on our calendar this week. In winter we appreciate even a simple meal at home when it is cold and dark out.

Monday – Shrimp and twice-baked potatoes, broccoli

Tuesday – Brats and beans, salad

Wednesday – Sweet and sour chicken, broccoli

Thursday – Pizza and salad

Friday – We have a free take-out meal coupon.  Night off!

For more dinner inspirations, connect with other bloggers at

Meager Rations!

Oregon Trail Game

Oregon Trail Game

My daughter has been playing an old MS-DOS game called “The Oregon Trail” (play for free at Internet Archive). Her characters, whom she names “Axel” and “Emily Rose”, are constantly dropping dead from cholera, dysentery, and starvation.

The game warns of meager rations and that is how things look around our house. It’s been super cold here with negative temps and -25F wind chills. When it warms to above 0 degrees it snows and then it gets Arctic-cold again. It was a good week to have a solid meal plan and groceries in the house because I haven’t been anywhere except to work.

Our breakfast this morning was salvaged from a meeting at work yesterday. . .Oh yes I did! The muffins that had been out since 8 AM were looking like they were a heartbeat from the trash. This morning they were more appealing than plain Cheerios anyway.

We are headed out today on an all-family grocery shopping expedition and I’m almost giddy at the prospect of leaving the house.  “Axel” is harnessing the oxen and with a little luck we will cross the river without drowning!

Building Net Worth $6.00 at a Time

christmas-typography-graphicsfairy004Our daughter (soon to be 10) has the opportunity to earn up to $ 6.00 per week in allowance.  She is paid every Saturday night, which is when my husband and I “close out our budget week.”  We pay her the same way we get paid — electronically.  We tell her how much she earned and she can add it into her own personal budget spreadsheet on the computer.

Currently she is “funding” the following savings categories that she created:

  • Charity (this usually means buying items for Operation Christmas Child)
  • Church (she makes her own offerings as she sees fit)
  • American Girl
  • Animal Jam (online game – she has to pay for her membership or ask for it as a gift)
  • Clothes (for non-essentials, like earrings from Claire’s)

There is also a column for “Debt.”  She has been in debt to us before (for an Animal Jam membership promotion).  Dad does not accept only $1.00 in repayment either.  Debt is a bummer! This debt experience sent her looking for “extra” work around the house so she could have her allowance and have money to repay debt. This is what Dave Ramsey calls “getting yourself a second job delivering pizzas.”

Finally, there is a column for her savings account.

(Money allocated in budget + savings) – Debt = Net Worth, calculated right in the spreadsheet.

In nine more years she will be eligible for student loans, credit cards, and car loans! I truly hope her experiences now are giving her a foundation for making financial decisions down the road. My feeling is that the college years take you from making very few decisions about money to making money decisions that affect your financial health for a good part of adulthood… and THAT is a whole other post!

Menu Plan Monday Jan 5/15


Back to work and back to school this week.  I used my time off of work to get a meal plan rolling for the next two weeks.  I don’t think I have ever been disciplined enough to do that.  I usually am more prone to “wing-it” but between wintery weather and work, I knew I would be kicking myself if I didn’t buckle down and do this!

Sunday – Guinness Shepherd’s Pie – a new recipe for me.  Usually I don’t have Sunday in my weekly menu plan but I wanted you to see this recipe!

Monday –Pea soup and grilled cheese

Tuesday – Chicken Fried Rice

Wednesday – Chili (made and stored in freezer – woo-hoo!) and crusty rolls with honey

Thursday – Quiche using a new recipe and fruit.  First time making quiche for me!

Friday Taco night!

This is my English pie dish for Cottage Pie/Shepherd's Pie.

This is my English pie dish for Cottage Pie/Shepherd’s Pie.

For more dinner inspirations, connect with other bloggers at

Send in the Butterflies

cigcardfairybutterflyHappy New Year!

I have been blessed to be home for the past two weeks.  Today Mr Saver and our daughter took down the Christmas tree–hooray! Meanwhile, I was in our daughter’s room trying to do some cleaning.  I’m talking underneath dressers and beds kind of cleaning.  She has been working on her room a little every day, but there is a force in there that resists it ever looking much improved.

This force is… creativity.

As I was digging out home-made American Girl iPhones and tiny school folders for dolls from underneath the dresser, it hit me… I have a Flybaby in training.  Flylady is the home organizing system created by Marla Cilley.  Flybabies are her creative souls who weren’t “Born Organized” as she says.

FlyladyI present Exhibit “A” at right:  A container used to store Barbies has been turned into an “American Girl Washing Machine.” Creative right? Guess where the Barbies are?

Thing is, I’m no different. I can find myself getting Inspired on Pinterest while the dishwasher just needs to be started.  Or I am thinking about our next birthday party idea while the mail sits unopened.  We’re just too creative to want to pay attention to the boring details!

Why the butterfly above?  Marla says that butterflies flit from thing to thing, spreading beauty wherever they go.  Good analogy?  Yes, but I know that butterfly has a basket of laundry wrinkling in the dryer for sure. You can read her butterfly essay here.

This weekend I am working on getting our routines back in place so we can keep the creativity flowing but yet be able to enjoy the space and nice things we have.