Sunday, March 31, 2013


So, yeah, I kind of messed up my plan to be a better blogger this year, huh?  I have excuses, I'll even share them with you!  I was super sick and off my game for nearly 3 weeks in February, barely came near the computer.  When I got right, I had a week of catching up to do before I got the worst ear infection of my life at the beginning of March.  I was given no pain meds and wound up tethered to my bed for a week!

*sniffle*  Feeling sorry for me yet?  Haha, I didn't think so.  ;)   So here I am, with very little to report on the style front.  Unless you want to hear about my sick wear which was very uninspired.  No big shock there, hehe.

So, my news now is this, I'm writing another blog, I'm going to keep this one up and running and will update anytime I have something to say about thrifting/style/organization but for now, there won't be much going on there, since the Hubby is officially unemployed, as am I.  Scary.  Anyhow, there's no money to be thrifting for fun.

For the time being I can be found over here.  I'll be blogging about living on unemployment benefits (hopefully) until jobs are found.  :)  Wish me luck!

Friday, January 25, 2013

January is nearing it's end!

Can you believe it?  The first month of 2013 is nearly over already!  I shouldn't be surprised, the days and weeks seem to evaporate lately.

All in all this first month of the year has been a good one, busy, but good.

Style wise, I'm no closer than I was at the beginning of the month to my goal of getting some new stuff and trying it out.  I did go scouring the clearance racks a few days ago at Target.  I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did get a few ideas.  I still have 6 days left of the month to try out one of the trends I've been stalking, so I may still make it.  I have a picture in my head of what I'd like to do, if it comes to pass, I'll post a pic and you can see!

I haven't even been in a thrift store this month, but I'm hoping in February I'll make it.  There's one near the salon I frequent and I have an appointment the first week of the month, so, I'm pretty sure I'll get a few minutes to poke around.

I don't know that organizationally I had any real challenges this month and that's a good thing.  I think my goal for the next month will be to evaluate my master closet, it's the one closet that is kind of disappointing.  I need to sort through whats in there and find a way to make it neater.  It will be a minor challenge, but nothing I can't handle!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Settled In Full

So, with the new year and the changes it has brought, the focus of my blog is a bit more broad these days.  Of course, I'm still trying to find my style and get organized, but I also need to sort through my financial house.

It's been an ongoing battle, finances.  Once upon a time I was good with money and good at saving.  As I aged and many things in my life changed the grip I had on my finances slipped away.  Bad decisions, unfortunate situations and a million surprises all contributed.  So, for the past few years we've been working on being better, doing better and fixing our past mistakes.  It's more important now then ever, because the future is so uncertain.  For the last 15 years, even though times were rough, we knew he had a job and we had a place to live.  Now, with less security, it's imperative that we focus on how to make life work with the resources we have.

Yesterday, I received in the mail, a settlement offer for one of the bills I've been paying.  I've been paying it religiously, for a good long while.  They have offered me, in the past, settlement offers and I've wanted to take them, but never had the money when they made the offers and of course, they always have a time limit.  This one, like the others has a time limit and it's short.  I have less than 10 days to make the decision.  Because I have paid so religiously the offer they made this year, is much lower than last years and it seems possible that I can get the money to them.  This would free up a few dollars per month going forward and that certainly is a good thing.  I have a couple of questions about whether or not they can, or will, sell the "forgiven" portion.  If they do that, what's the point in taking the offer?

Either way, I'm on the fence about this.  I'm guessing that with the amount of interest that's been paid as I pay this off, they've recovered more than the original amount I owed.  If I don't take the offer, I'll be paying it off for another 2 years (interest charges and low monthlies are killers!), I believe that it will show as "settled in full" on my credit report which some would argue is bad for my credit, but honestly, it's in shambles at the moment now as it is, I can't see this making it worse.  We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Organizing an Unseen Mess

Today I decided to tackle a mess that I don't really see.  My kids have one of those cube set ups in their room.  Before we moved they had 2 and the bins were all cute in a checker board pattern.  Once we got to the new place, we appropriated one for our hallway and the boys were left with one cube shelving unit and all the bins.  Here's how it looked.  Not terrible,  but I knew what it looked like inside.
(Please try to ignore all the cords off to the side.  hehe)

The movers had chosen to just stuff a lot of the small stuff the kids had into these bins and then stuff the over filled bins into a large moving box.  Ugh.  Anyhow, I dealt with a bit of it, but not all of it.  Emptied it out and here's how it looked.

Not very pretty.

We went through and wound up with a full trash bag of stuff that needed to be tossed and a small bag of toys that will be donated.  I also found they had quite the candy stash.

In the end, after about 40 minutes of emptying and sorting, here's what we were left with.

Much better  :)  Yay for getting things done!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Recent Trends I'd Like to Try

Chevron stripes.  Sequins and sparkle.  Color pop.  Animal prints.  Lace.  Layering.  Scarves.

That little list are the trends I've been most recently eyeballing.  It seems that it would be simple enough to just go out and buy one of this and one of that and give them a try, but I'm a chicken!  I'm afraid I'll do it wrong, or look like I'm trying to hard, or worse look like I'm trying to hang on to my 20's way to long after they were over.  Hehe.

I think what I might do, though, is commit to giving one of these things a try per month.  Each month, I can bite the bullet and if it doesn't feel right, small loss, if it works out, I've added a good piece to my wardrobe.  Which, by the way, is in need of help.  I've noticed (when I went to look for certain things) that I got rid of quite a few items recently that I didn't like, which I now think could have been used as building blocks.  They might not have been perfect on their own, but I probably could have made them better with a little work. I also noticed that since I put a halt on my shopping (thrifting included) a few months ago, most of my clothes have gotten one heck of a work out.  I mean, a lot of it will need replacing soon.  Not really thrilled with that.  It's okay though.  I'll consider it a challenge and it will hopefully give me something to blog about along the way.  I know I've been rambling on recently with no apparent point.

So, there you have it.  Once trend a month to build my wardrobe and my confidence.  Now to figure out which to start with....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Organizing On A Budget

When I look around the web for organization ideas, I frequently find myself on pinterest.  The thing that strikes me most is that there are so many beautiful ideas for organization, but so few that seem budget friendly.  I know there are lots that have items from the dollar store, which makes it less expensive, but looking at some of the pictures, they've purchased 20 of this item, 10 of that item, 12 of these and 5 of those.  It adds up.  I don't know about you, but I just don't have the cash to spare these days.  Of course, I still want to be able to organize and have it look at least a little bit nice.  Using matching boxes and tubs would be great, but its not in the cards right now.  So what's a girl to do?

I'm going to closet shop and see if that gives me any options, the biggest problem with this is that after 2 garage sales and a massive purge, I'm not sure I'll have anything left that isn't already serving a purpose.  Hopefully I can find a few things that will inspire me, if not then I'm left with a couple of other options. The first one being, live with things as they are, neat and tidy.  The second is that I can try my hand at thrifting some storage options (my biggest issue here is that I sometimes can't see past what something is to what it could be.).  Last option is use the little bit I have left on an Ikea gift card to pick up a few small organizational items.

My goals are to better organize my little pantry.  To give you an idea of how big that space is, the door is 18 inches wide and standard height.  Obviously it's slightly more roomy inside, off hand I think there are 5 shelves.  To add some small storage both bathrooms (the master bathroom is the one most in need of this) and to give my little laundry room a greater sense of purpose.  Hehe.

Not really wanting to spend too much cash right now, I'll probably go with a combination of 1 and 3.  Who knows, maybe I'll go crazy and give all 3 a whirl!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Picking a Style or Switching It Up

So, do you use thrifting to keep up your style or do you use it to help you try out new styles without paying a fortune for it?

I keep telling myself that I'm going to use thrifting as a way to try new colors and introduce a bit more bold, but so far, I've been fairly unsuccessful.  Not because those things weren't available at my local stores, they were.  I just seem to lean towards neutrals.  Over and over again.  The closest I got was a dark pink/purple t-shirt that had an ever so slight puff on the sleeve.  So slight that you couldn't really notice it.  And it was a t-shirt, which is my staple.

Honestly, the most bold and colorful thing I thrifted in 2012 was my makeup bag.  Which I love, but I can't wear.

I know going in to the store I should have a good idea of what I'm looking for.  About half the time I'm on target with that.  Or maybe I'm half on target all of the time.  I can go in and know I'm looking for tops.  Or prints.  Or core pieces.  But I can't seem to go in and say, I absolutely must leave with a red top and something with print.  I think it's because I feel it's force.  On the flipside, if I don't force myself to try out this new stuff, I'll never really commit to being more stylish!  Ahhhh!  What do do what to do.

I'll keep my eyes open to see what's popular this year and I'll try and go in with a more focused approach.  I am always looking for cardigans (I never find any in a size or style that flatters) and I'd like to find scarves.  Everyone is wearing scarves now and I'd like to try it out, but not at $20-25 a pop.  So far, no luck there.

I have gotten a couple of great core pieces (brand new jeans, khaki skirt, khaki shorts and a jean jacket).  This makes me wonder, maybe I've got this thrifting thing backwards?  Should I shop the thrift store for the core pieces and leave the accessories and fads for other stores sales?  I hadn't really considered that before, but it seems like it could be a possibility.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Style in the New Year

Part of my goal in starting this blog last year was to find some personal style.  I've made some small steps, but I've still got a long way to travel.  I have a hard time seeing past single items.  I rarely see clothes in layers.  I see a v-neck sweater and I think..good with jeans.  Done.  Then I look around at style blogs and see people with 3 & 4 layers of shirts, plus accessories, bags and shoes to match and realize how far I still have to go.

There's nothing wrong with my casual t-shirt and jeans style, it works for me and the life I live.  Carting kids to school, cooking dinners, going to doctors appointments and the grocery store don't really require an involved wardrobe, but I'd still like more from my clothes.  Or from myself, I suppose it's not the clothes fault I haven't got it all figured out yet.  Hehe.

One of the issues that I seem to constantly struggle with is whether or not an outfit or style is too "young" for me.  Now, I'm not even bordering on old yet (I'm 36), but some of the fashions out there that are really cute, seem to be designed for someone much younger than me in mind.  It could be my imagination or it could be that I just see them in photos of women who look very young.  For instance, skinny color pop jeans.  They're everywhere!  I can't turn a corner without running into someone wearing a pair, that being said, I'm not sure I've seen anyone over 30 in them.  If I have, then they were very young looking!

Another issue with some of the more popular styles is that I don't ever seem to look right in them.  I'm talking about maxi dresses.  I've tried on a dozen of them and I'm always left feeling short and dumpy.  The seem to be better suited for wearing to bed then for wearing out once they're on my frame.  Maybe a maxi skirt is the way to go instead?

So, my options are to keep dressing the way I do and feel moderately dissatisfied with it or I can go outside my comfort zone, be uncomfortable, but slightly adventurous.  One thing I do know is that I won't be able to figure out these outfits on my own.  I'm going to be looking high and low for inspiration(pinspiration, really, since that's where I'll be starting my search)  It'll be slow, maybe one outfit a month, but that's probably a good pace for a fashion noob like me.  :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Its a new year and I know we all have many financial challenges ahead of us.  Here at our house, I'm always thinking of ways to try and save a few bucks.  I've read enough finance blogs, money saving blogs, thrifting and frugality blogs to make your head spin.  One common theme is that you need to track your expenses.  I have a general running idea of how much I'm spending and I've always considered that enough.  If we have a particularly tough month, I go ahead and write everything down and move on (I'm a total list maker and that adds to my pack rat problem, btw, since I don't ever want to toss the lists).

This morning, while it was still dark, I was wondering about how much money we actually spend on eating out.  Thinking about it pretty much killed any idea of going back to sleep.  I decided I'd log on to my checking account and go back to January 1, 2012 and start there.  One years worth of eating out, to include fast food, casual dining and Starbucks runs.  My bank has a nice tracking system (which I've never used, remember, not organized!) so I sat down in my dim kitchen and got to work.  I categorized all dining out expenses for the past 12 months.  Then I decided I wanted to know all of my food costs overall, so I went back and did all of my grocery bills as well.

The title of this post is $5101.23.  That is the sum total of my family's dining out purchases.  Can you believe it?  As it started to add up, I got a pit in my stomach.  I really didn't think we ate out that much, but the proof is in the pudding, eh?  That's roughly $425 dollars a month.  Where in the world is that money coming from?!  I know we don't have it to spare!  What isn't getting taken care of as a result of that spending?  Now, I know some of it likely comes from money we feel was "free" (even if it wasn't), like birthday/holiday gifts, taxes, etc., but come on!  *sigh*

Now, my goal, for my family of 4, in terms of groceries is $250 twice a month.  $500 a month for a total of $6000 dollars a year.  This does NOT take into account holiday and birthday meals and goodies.  Are you ready for my grocery total for the year?  Are you scared?  Maybe you should be.  $7419.  Just over $1400 more than I intended to spend.

This is a grand total of $12, 521.21.  On food.  FOOD.  Per person that's over $3100 dollars a year.

It's got me wondering, are my grocery goals unrealistic?  Is $6000 a year too small a budget for my family?  I shop the commissary, but I also use local grocery stores every now and then.  If I increase my grocery budget and bought a greater variety of things, would my dining out bill go down?   I'm going to be thinking about this all day.  Probably longer.  Today is the 5th of January.  I shopped yesterday and missed a few items on my list, so I know I'll be heading back out soon...I'm going to be very aware of my purchases.  I have no choice.  This is clearly an area that needs to be pared down.  It seems to me that it likely can be done with a little discipline.  Even if we still wound up spending $100 a month dining out we'd be saving $3900 over last year.  Maybe that should be the goal.  Increase the grocery budget but reduce the eating out budget.

Makes my head spin!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hair Styles

For lots of years (the ones since getting married and moving around so often), I've not had a steady stylist.  I'd try different places and never get inspired by what the stylist did with my hair.  I'd let it grow out til I couldn't stand it any more and then try again.  The end result?  Bad haircuts and worse, unruly grown out locks.

I thought I'd found my salvation in a small shop that was within walking distance.  She gave me an incredible cut.  Then I wanted to schedule my next visit with her, deciding 6 weeks would be fine.  She was confused.  Why would I want to come back so soon?  (This is not boding well...)  To maintain the cut, I told her.  She bristled, but took the appointment.  I went back, and wound up with a very different cut.  Hmm.  Didn't really love it as much as the initial one, but heck, she did great that first time, so I gave it one more whirl.  Six weeks later, I was back in her chair and this time, it actually felt like she didn't want me there.  Very.  Very.  Uncomfortable.  That was the last time I saw her.

The problem still remained, I now had a crappy cut and my hubby was returning from Iraq in a month.  Naturally, I wanted to look as amazing as I could (with my lack of style, I'm still searching for it, all this time later...and he loves me anyway).

I yelped and looked for places with decent reviews.  I narrowed it down to a couple of places and then hemmed and hawwed for days.  Finally, I took the plunge and committed to one.  It was a bit further away, but I picked it anyhow.  I got lost on the way, initially taking it as a sign that I'd chosen the wrong place, but I was now just days away from the hubs return and I needed a haircut.  I found my way and was only a few minutes late.

The salon was great, cute, stylish and fun.  So was Holly, my stylist.  She took the time to sit and discuss my hair with me.  In the end she gave me an amazing, current hair style.  She didn't find it odd when I asked for another appointment and five weeks later, she gave me the same amazing hair cut.  She's been doing it now for almost 2 years.  I've never been disappointed.  She's a rock star and I'm so grateful to have her!

Back in November, because of our financial crisis, I decided that I wouldn't get my hair done every five weeks until we knew we were in a better position.  Somehow, spending 50 bucks so selfishly seemed wrong.  I was practically teary when I asked Holly if she'd keep me on as a client if I went to appointments once every 3 months for the foreseeable future.  She was awesome (as if I'd expected anything less), we discussed my hair goals (which included continuing to try to grow it out some, talk about good timing) and what would be the best thing for my hair over a long absence from her care.  She gave me a cut, that involved taking off a bit of length, but giving it a new shape.  It's been a little more than 2 months already and it's held it's shape, it's curl and still looks every bit as good as it did when I walked out of the salon 2 months ago.\

I don't know if I want to make this long breaks between visits a permanent thing.  When we're doing better financially and don't have to be so thrifty, I'll be sure to go back to my 5 week schedule, other things I'll continue to do, like shop for bargains, thrift at goodwill.  But for now I'll stick to my 12 week schedule and be thankful that I found such a gem.  A stylist who is as skillful with people as she is with hair.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Clutter-Free Cabinets!

I've mentioned (and photographed!) my poor closet and cabinet organizational skills before.  It's been a problem for me for as long as I can remember.  Any place I can hide stuff away, I don't bother with organizing.  It's an issue I'm trying to deal with.  Regularly.  *ahem*

I can proudly say, though, that yesterday, during my son's therapy session, I had clutter-free cabinets!  I know, I know.  You're wondering why it is that my cabinets matter to my big guys therapy.  Well, I'll tell you!  At the moment he is working on learning life skills.  Simple things that we all do each day and don't really think too much about.  Yesterday he was learning his way around the kitchen to make a bowl of oatmeal.

Our kitchen was probably the area that took the biggest hit during the move.  I went from a huge kitchen to a tiny one, so I was forced to really take a good hard look at what I needed and what was just extra.  It was tough.  Agonizing, even.  But it got done and boy am I glad it did, because his therapist was giving him cues and clues on how to find things and using deductive reasoning.  I have to admit that when she opened up the first cabinet door, my heart stopped for just the briefest of moments.  I had that second of worry that something would topple out.  But nothing did.  Not from the second one either.  In fact, door after door, she swung open my cabinets to find clean, organized shelves.  Seriously, I wanted to dance.  I can't even imagine what would have happened in the other house.  I had so many cabinets and so much stuff that I just couldn't figure out how to organize it all.  So I didn't.

I worried, before the move, how we were going to manage with so much less space.  How we would fit.  How we would decide what was just clutter and what was truly needed in our lives.  I have to tell you, it was hard, but looking back, not as hard as I'd expected.  This move may have been the best thing to happen to me (as an organizationally challenged pack rat that is)!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Goals Moving Forward

Every new year we put a lot of pressure on ourselves (most of us anyhow) to do better, be better, look better and I'm no different.  I find it so easy to see all the places I'm lacking and start making promises to fix them.

I'm not sure that I want to make resolutions this year.  It feels a bit daunting.  Somehow, calling the things I want to do "resolutions" makes me wonder if I'll reach the finish line.  Is there a finish line with resolutions?  I suppose they should be ongoing things.  I don't really know.

I think I'll just have goals.  Things that would be nice to see happen, but my world won't fall apart if they don't.  I might even have a lot of goals, but that's okay, because nothing is going to go wrong if I don't reach them.  Goals don't expire in a year, they can go on (unless, of course, there's a time limit, haha) and on.

Here we go, goals that I'll be starting now and continuing til I see fit.

365 days of fitness.  This sounds like a bigger deal than it is.  I'm going to make it a goal of mine to get some sort of activity that will help me and my family stay fit for just 10 minutes a day.  It can be planned (like a hike or a run), it can be unplanned (an impromptu game of tag at the park), it can be boring (jumping jacks and sit ups) or it can be a blast (color me rad {did this over the summer with my son, what a good time!}).  I don't expect huge changes at 10 minutes a day, but it will keep all of us thinking about our health and fitness and that can't be bad.  And if I miss a day?  So what.  I get to try again tomorrow.

Photo a day challenge.  This one is inspired by fat mum slims blog and photo challenge.  The hubs and kids got me a camera for Christmas 2011 and it hasn't gotten nearly the use it should.  I figure with this challenge I may just learn to use my camera more and how to use all its neat little functions.  It'll likely be a slow process (the learning) but that's okay.  I love that the photo challenge has prompts on what subject to take pictures of, this takes the burdon off of me, which is good, because I'd probably wind up taking pictures of the same things over and over.  Again, if I miss a day?  No big deal, the world doesn't come screeching to a halt because I haven't taken a photograph.  I will be posting my pics here.  Maybe daily, maybe weekly.  I suppose it depends on the kind of time and motivation I have.

Making thrifting a reasonable part of my life.  I don't want to get into the habit of shopping just to shop but when it comes to thrifting, that's exactly what I did last year.  Sure, it didn't break the bank, but I think, moving forward, I'd like to thrift with more purpose.  I need to organize less than I did when I began this blog, but my personal style hasn't really gotten much better, so thrifting is still a great way to work on that.  I am still looking for things for my apartment as well, so I'll keep updating as those things get found.  :)

Cooking at home 6 days a week.  This isn't that much of a challenge, really.  I normally do it and plan to continue to do so, I'm putting it here because from November through the years end, we ate out a lot.  It was mostly due to the move, the holidays and being frazzled, but it's all done now and I think it's important to get back to normal.  Or whatever normal is around here.

Read a book a month.  This is a very small (almost lame, it's so small) goal.  I have always been a reader, I love it, I preach it to my kids, but for some reason I haven't been doing nearly enough of it.  So, I'm going to try to make it a goal to read one book a month (at least) this year.  Get back to doing something I love.  It'll make me happy and that bodes well for the fam.  :)

That's it.  Nothing earth shattering, nothing scary, just a few goals to make my life more enjoyable.  So what about you?  Any personal goals, resolutions and promises to fill?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome 2013! (And How I Got Here)

Happy New Year!  I bet today there are all sorts of blog posts from folks who had started blogging but got sidetracked away from it during the year (like me!).  I'm not making it a resolution to blog more, but I am going to try to be more on top of it.  

Obviously, the move in November threw me right off track.  It was a struggle in a few ways and so simple in many others.  As we left the house we'd lived in for the last 3 and a half years we worried endlessly about all the things we assumed we'd have to pay for.  Having heard numerous times that the management company was very unforgiving we couldn't help wonder what would be considered normal wear and tear, would we have to pay full price for the carpet replacement (which was certain to be needed in 2 rooms), even though the blinds were ancient when we moved in, would they try and hit us with that charge as well?  It was nerve wracking.  

I'm happy to report that after 4 days of exhausting (over)cleaning (my guys hated how much of a task master I was) we got  Our move out was amazing.  The final walk through took minutes, we turned over our keys and boom.  It was all done.  It's strange, you know, I've never walked away from a place we've lived and still lived in the same city.  When I got to pick Deac up from school (right across the street from the old place) I see it, with new cars in the driveway.  It's kind of trippy.  :)

As for the new place?  It's fantastic.  We lost a TON of space.  We had a little over 1600 square feet in the old house, plus a garage and a gigantic back yard.  Now we're in a 1000 square foot apartment, with a little patio.  You know what I found out?  Decluttering is not so hard when you have no choice but to decide what is worth keeping.  We wound up having 2 yard sales.  The first was a success and the second got me 30 bucks and I wound up giving the rest away.  It was a good deal really, someone hauled off all of my unwanted stuff in a matter of minutes.  That "free" sign is a bit of a miracle worker.  The movers came and packed and moved us and by the time everything was in the new place (boxed) we realized we hadn't gotten rid of enough.  Not wanting to pay for a big storage space we committed to paring down even more.  This was a little harder, since I felt I'd already gotten rid of everything I could.  Guess what, though?  We did it.  Well.  We have very little clutter, very little we don't need here.  Losing the storage space was hard, but we got creative.  

I'd like to say that moving forward I'm going to (for sure) have cute projects to work on, but it's uncertain for now.  The hubs is on terminal leave (wow!  so hard to believe his military career is done) and will be looking for full time work soon and I will have to start looking for something part time as well.  2013 is both scary and full of promise.  I do have a few goals in mind, though, so I'll be here, typing away, updating, decluttering (if it becomes an issue), thrifting, reviewing and planning.  

Welcome 2013!