"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philipians 3:13b,14

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Make Your Own (ADORABLE) Cash Envelope Budgeting System!

So, I have to tighten the reigns on my budget.

I am a fairly strict budgeter (budget-eer?) but I have gotten a bit sloppy over the last several months. One of the best ways for me personally to watch my money carefully is to use cash envelopes for my household spending. We have done this nearly all of our married life.(Because before we were married, we were...you know....in high school.) You can just go to the bank and get the money you have budgeted for each category of household funds and use that instead of an ATM card. (I am quite sure that there are people that are far more disciplined than I, that can use ATM cards with more care. I have learned that I am not really one of those people. Darn.)

If you need to start budgeting more carefully, or have trouble sticking to your budget and are interested in the cash envelope system, here's a cool article from Dave Ramsey's site on starting your own system:

Another thing I know, from lots and lots of personal experience, is this- when you make the stuff you HAVE to do more fun, you like it more. Hence, the cutesy envelopes!!

You'll need several sheets of scrapbook paper (however many envelopes you need is how many sheets of paper you'll need). You can use the thicker, card stock paper if you want the envelopes to be more durable. I will show you how to reinforce these with scotch tape too. You also need a bill envelope (the kind that comes with your bills to mail back), scissors, a pencil, adhesive tape (I REALLY like the permanent double stick adhesive tape they sell in the scrap booking section. It works even on card stock. I don't buy the dispenser, you don't need to, just buy the refill rolls, they're like 2 bucks. If you use card stock, use a ruler to lightly score the folds before you make them. If you want to make these and can't afford the paper and special tape, you could totally make some out of plain paper with scotch tape, and let your kids decorate them- I think that would be really cute!!!!!!

So, first take the envelope apart and open it up:

Then, trace it on the back side of the paper:

Then, cut it out! Do this for each of the papers. If you're using card stock, I don't advise cutting more than 2 at a time. If you're using thinner paper, you can cut several at once.

Now you're going to put the envelope together! fold the sides in first, then fold the bottom up.

Then fold the bottom back down and apply a strip of the adhesive tape to each folded-in flap on the side:

Peel back the other side of the adhesive tape to make it double sticky:

Then bring the bottom back up and press it on!! That's it!

You can then reinforce the sides and bottom edge with scotch tape: (Ok, come on, really?? Does the toe thumb HAVE to get into SO MANY shots?? Ridiculous.)

Now cut out small tags from the scraps, and write the categories for each envelope on them: (I would like to point out how lovely my hand looks in this photo. It's because you can't see my horrid thumb)

Then attach them to the envelopes! (I like to put a tag from a different paper on each becase then it looks cuter and stands out better) I use the adhesive then a glue stick to get the edges down (I just use the glue stick from the kids' art stuff):

(of course I made the most important envelope first)

Now you can either put the envelopes in the "dollar" section of your wallet, or make a larger cutesy envelope to hold them, or use one of those plastic sleeve-type envelopes that they sell at the office supply. I made this super easy (I CANNOT sew to save my life) simple cloth envelope to keep them in last year. (I have made a strict "I only sew straight lines" rule. One day I will tell you about the year I decided to make nightgowns for all the ladies in the family. It was a disaster. Mostly for them, because they had to act like they weren't awful.)

It used to have Velcro on it, but I used the stick-on kind and it fell off, and it's not really that important anyhow so I just left it that way.

I am really fortunate that I live next door to my mom, she has a serger and a sewing machine set up all the time, because she sews for a living. She makes quilts. :)

I also have an envelope for my coupons so I am sure that they are always with me! (This one is from my last envelope set, it actually survived! The others were trashed!!)

Ok, so now for the next topic- the grocery budget!! Like I said before, I have been sloppy about mine for a while now, and I am going to get back on track! So I want to keep my budget to $250 every two weeks. We don't eat out very much, and Wade takes his lunch other than the rare exception. Since my kids are homeschooled, that means all 3 meals per day for 4 (sometimes more if we have company) people.

I am really good about making a menu and using my grocery money well, I have just been buying extra things that "sound" good. I have also been careless about doing extra trips to the market for one item and ending up buying other items that I don't need. So I need to take my friend Bethany's advice and JUST take the cash for what I need!! This way I won't over spend!! (I know this, really I do. But knowing something and doing it are SO two different things)

Is there anything you could do to improve in this department? Do you need to start making a menu and a grocery list? Do you need to figure out exactly how much you are spending? OR are there any tips you can offer for others (including me!) if you have a special gift in household budgeting? I know that we are all in different financial and life situations, so not everyone will have the same experience- that's great! Then we can learn from each other! Please comment below (PLEASE! Your comments help keep me motivated to write this blog!) if you have any questions, tips, advice, or if you want to challenge yourself in this area too! Sometimes, honestly, it's just nice to not feel alone in the whole "sticking to the budget" arena! :)

Grocery day is today- so I get a chance to immediately test out my new challenge!! Wooo hooo! I wrote my favorite Spurgeon quote on my grocery list to inspire me....
"He is richest who is content with the least." Spurgeon

Have a GREAT day! :)


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Amish White Bread- The Photo Shoot

I have a sickness.

I keep taking photos of food.

My family mocks me.

I have to continually replace the batteries in my camera.

My memory card is full.

And yet.......still.... I snap away.

But this bread......it's so good! It makes GREAT sandwiches, and it's cheap, and it smells AMAZING while it's baking....... and it makes great sandwiches..(did I say that already?)

You can find the recipe in this post so that you can make a few loaves for your people to enjoy. Or, just forget about them. Make two loaves and polish them off by yourself. (Only don't really do that because then you will have to go to the gym like 17 times)

Here are my ridiculous photos. Christopher took a picture of his scrambled eggs yesterday and text messaged them to me, to make fun of me. Hopefully he won't see this post. ;)

Make Your Own Granola!

I love granola. I eat granola-type cereal nearly every morning. If I buy it, I like Kashi Go Lean Crisp, or Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Granola. I LOVE making my own though. It's WAY cheaper, and I can add the things I like to the recipe. I add either dry or fresh fruit when I eat it, depending on what I have. And I almost always have it with yogurt. Yum.

Here is what I put into mine, but the nuts, seeds, etc can be swapped for the things that you like:

  • 6 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned oatmeal)
  • 1 cup almonds (I used slivered)
  • 1 cup pecans (I used raw pecan peices)
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup flax seeds (I LOVE the golden toasted flax seeds)
  • 1 bag flaked coconut (I usually use unsweetened, 14oz bag, but this time I had flaked, sweetened on hand, so that's what I used)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

So, first put all the "stuff" ingredients in a large bowl (oats through the coconut)

Then, mix up all the other ingredients in a smaller bowl (brown sugar through the salt)

Then dump the wet stuff into the "stuff" stuff, and stir it all up, REALLY well, until all of the granola is coated evenly. Then, spread it into a large pan (I have a full sheet pan, or you could also use two 9x13 pans.)

Then, bake it in the oven at 275 degrees for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring it around every 15 minutes or so, in order to help it brown and crisp evenly. Then, I ususally take it and put it in the mixing bowl (which I've washed and lined with paper towels) to cool:

That's it! Wasn't that easy?? Now just store it either in Tupperware or Ziploc bags. Or just eat it all. Whatever works out best for you. ;)

Whole wheat pasta with grilled chicken and chopped tomatoes (maybe some basil and parmesan too)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baking Day Report

Are you sick of seeing photos of food yet??

If you answered "yes", too bad for you.........

Hee hee.

Here's what baking day produced at my house this week:

Homemade doughnuts (or donuts, which one IS it??)  These were gooooooood. I want to play around with this recipe a little more, then I'll blog it. I even made a few with sprinkles (gross) for Nicholas, and jelly-filled (gag) for Wade:

Chocolate Chip brownies:

No complicated from-scratch recipe, just a box mix (the 13x9 size, I stock up when they're on sale) and I add a half bag of chocolate chips.

Then I made these babies:

They are DELICIOUS. I added 1 roughly mashed banana, and about 1/2 cup diced, ripe strawberries. You should make a batch of these if you have all the stuff. They rock.

Then I made two loaves of
Which I had to sample. I don't want to feed my family food that doesn't pass a thorough inspection!

The things I do for the good of my family. I tell you, they are some lucky, lucky people.

Lastly, I made a batch of (a new household favorite)
These things are AWESOME! They hold a ton of filling without ripping, and taste wonderful. I made three batches last week and they were all gone! I need to just start doubling the recipe, because the boys wiped out half of today's batch already. Sheesh.

I tried to make some Meyer lemon curd, which was an epic FAIL! It looked (and smelled) burned, curdled, and separated. Gross. I may try again if I feel daring...... I found a different recipe. We'll see. Is lemon curd even good? Is it worth the effort of a second try? It looked really yummy in the photo, but I don't think I've even had it.

We also got back into the school routine, having been off for Spring break. While I like Spring break, all it really does is make me wish for summer. The long days, the BEACH, the smell of sunscreen, and eating dinner in the backyard....... I love the summer. :)

BLT sandwiches made with turkey bacon on Amish bread
Tangerines and Strawberries