New and Improved Budget Binder

The old one…..

IMG_0164 I put this binder together in early 2013 after I took over paying the bills.  I needed something a little more than just putting bills in a bucket and risking not getting something paid on time.  It made my brain crazy to do it that way.  So I set off to print each month from iCalendar.  I created dividers out of scrapbook cardstock, packing tape, and “labels” that I just printed and cut out.  This helped tremendously to help me know when to pay what.  Also, I kept the bills for the year in case I needed go back and look at a previous bill for anything.

Now, with finances getting a little tighter, I need to better keep track of everything.  So I created some budget planning sheets.  I searched the internet looking for budget planners and none of them seemed to suit our needs.  We get paid weekly, but Berkley receives bonuses at different times of the year and it was just easier to create my own since not all our weeks or months are the same as the rest.

  • Monthly page to track our income and expense.
  • Detailed expenses for the month
  • Year in review
  • Money set aside each week to take care of bigger bills or unexpecteds.

Now, this is what will work for us (hopefully).  I’ve been keeping track  for a couple months now in just a regular notebook so I could make sure of how I wanted to design it.  If you think they will work for you, give them a try.  You should be able to save the image to print it.  If you like them but want them all blank, send me an email ( and I’ll customize them and email them back.

I also switched the binder (and dividers) to one I had used for a different project.  No sense using a boring ol’ black notebook when I have this pretty one not being used.  Also, since the “new” one doesn’t have pockets in the inside covers (the dividers have pockets) I used a binder clip to hold the checkbook in the front cover.  The only thing that could be better is if the “new” binder was 1.5″ instead of just 1″.  But I am not complaining, I did this all without spending money!  See, you can organize without for FREE!

My First…First Aid Kit

I’m actually not sure if this is a “first aid kit” or just a way to organize my mess of first aid components.

IMG_0143I didn’t take a picture of all of this mess under my bathroom sink because, well, ain’t nobody wanna see that!  Just know that it was both in and around the designated drawer for first aid things.  I also found that I had a full big box of band-aids that I didn’t know I had.  So there was more than one reason for creating this First Aid Kit.

  1. To Organize my first aid stuff.
  2. To have something quick to grab if we go on a trip or something.

Ok, so I guess there were just two reasons.  BUT they are both very good reasons.  I do love a good organization project.  And we are going down to The Keys this weekend and I figured I can just grab this kit and take it with us, instead of grabbing a few band-aids and the Neosporin.  Not like I plan on someone getting hurt, but better safe than sorry.

So as you can see from the picture up top, I had a mess.  I also went through the safety kits that I had gotten for Ayden when he was a baby and merged the items with this first aid kit.  I separated the items into piles and then got out small zip top baggies (from the craft store) and put the items in the bags.


Maybe one of my favorite parts was to use white mailing labels that I had on hand and a red Sharpie pen and I got to labeling.

Finished product looked like this.

IMG_0159IMG_0160Now I WAS planning on using the diaper wipe container.  Because it was white and I WAS going to put a red cross on the top with Washi tape.  BUT the stuff didn’t come close to fitting.  I could have make a “mini” kit in the wipe container.  But that would have defeated the purpose of having everything in one container.

Also, I really wanted to use a fishing tackle box like this…



BUT, I needed to find something that didn’t cause me to spend any money.  So I found the basket in my scrapbook room and shoved everything into it.  Maybe in the future I can update it to a tackle box.  I get way too excited about the separate compartments to NOT have one…one day.  Plus the fact that my husband is a fishes and it would just make sense!  I will be keeping my eye out for something cheap…err..uh…inexpensive!

Avocado Ranch Dressing

I am not very experienced in the making of homemade dressings.  I have experimented with the oil/vinegar types that we put sliced cucumbers and tomatoes in.  I have done different variations of that, but it’s pretty simple.  And I just put different flavors (or the same) to get the taste I want.  But for something like a ranch dressing, I had no idea what to do.  So of course, I looked to Pinterest.  Then I remembered that Clinton Kelly on The Chew mentioned that he had a recipe on their website.  So that’s where I got my main idea.  I made a half recipe since I knew I would be the only one eating it.  I bet the hub would try it if he didn’t know there was avocado in it.  It really doesn’t taste that much different than before I put the avocado in it.  Oh well, all the more for me!!!!!

I roughly threw the mayo and sour cream (not exactly “throw” just mean that I didn’t actually measure with a measuring cup, just the lines on my immersion blender cup).  I did measure the spices as to not mess up the ratios.

  • 1/2 tablespoon Parsley (chopped) I used dried and made sure to pinch it to break it up and release the oils.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Onion powder
  • 1/16  teaspoon Dried thyme (I didn’t have this so I put in a little Italian Seasoning)
  • 1/2  cup Mayonnaise (I used Hellmann’s with Olive Oil)
  • 1/4  cup Sour cream (I used Publix Light)
  • about 2/3 a Haas Avocado (the small blacker ones)


Now, are you ready for it???  The hard part???

I put the mayo in my immersion blender cup, then the sour cream.  I put in my spices (don’t forget to pinch the dry spices).  I blended with my immersion blender.  Tasted and added about 1/8 tsp of ground red pepper.  Then I put in about 2/3 of the avocado.  Why only 2/3???  Well, I don’t think it was all the way ripe, so I left out the part that didn’t look ripe.  Blend until smooth.  THAT simple.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can totally use a regular blender or a food processor.

Just talking about it, makes me want more.  Hmmm…what can I eat now that I can dip in the leftovers???

I think next time, I may want to try to use a buttermilk based dressing with the avocado.  And make some southwestern egg rolls!!!  Yum…


I think…(that’s a lie, I know) I have the cutest kid in the whole entire world!

I know I know, every mom thinks (knows) they have the cutest kid in the world.  And they do.  But I just have to share a snippet of why I think (know) my kid is the cutest.


Ayden is 2 years, 2 months, and 13 days old.  There are some days where he is definitely a TWO-YEAR-OLD!  But mostly, he’s just cute with a touch of the TWOs.  He’s been talking for quite some time, but I am just in awe at how much clearer it is getting.  I am also amazed at how much he understands.  I used to have to emphasize the key words of my instructions or explanations.  Now I just say them regularly and he understands!

For instance, if he sees something in the Jeep when I need him to get in his car seat, he gets distracted and then doesn’t want to get into his car seat, because he wants to play with whatever he has spied with his little eye.  Usually, I don’t mind him playing with whatever he’s found, but I need him to get in his seat so we can GO!  I’ll say, “sit in your seat, and you can play with the [whatever he saw].”  And he does it!  He gets in his seat, nicely and I reward him with the item.  (This works about 95% of the time!)  I just get so amazed that he listens and knows what I say!

Now, with all this talking, has come some of his key phrases.  You know, the things you hear millions of time throughout the day.  But I love his little voice and love that he is forming phrases AND that I actually know what he’s saying!!!  I really am his mom because I can understand him (most of the time)!

Now, all parents know (or find out, I should say) that our kids are mockingbirds.  This goes for words and actions!  It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad (only if you’re words or actions are bad).  But it always cracks me up when he does these “mockingbird” actions.  He will just say “like Mommy” or “like Daddy” whomever it is that he is copying.  (is that the right use of “whom”?  I consider myself to be good at grammar, but I think I confused myself just now…moving on!  A.D.D. you will not win!)

Take last night, I laid down on the floor, on my back with one knee bent and the other ankle crossed and resting on my knee.  Ayden saw this and laid down on the floor, “like Mommy” with this legs crossed too.  He laughs because he knows it makes me giggle when he copies me.  So…I conducted an experiment to see just how much he would copy me.  He amazes me at how intuitive he is.

As I am laying on the floor with my legs crossed, I switch my legs.  He switches his.  I do this back and forth a few times and so did he.  He even made sure he had the correct leg over the other, mind you.  Then I put one leg straight up and one down.  He does the same.  I switch them and so does he.  I put both legs straight up in the air…that’s right, he did it too.  Then I split my legs to the sides and SO DID HE!!!  I was shocked at how accurate he is.

Now, you experienced moms might chuckle at my amazement but remember, he’s my first kid so everything is amazing!  This is probably something he’s been able to do for a long time but I never thought to actually “test” it.  Anyway, we both had a good laugh.

I noticed this “like Mommy/Daddy” phrase quite a few months ago when we would walk the dogs.  If on the occasion that Berkley and I were home at the same time when the dogs needed to be walked, we would often all go as a family (one dog at a time though, usually as they get crazy when both of them are out at the same time).  I would push Ayden in the stroller and Berk would have the dog on the leash.  I would notice that Ayden was sitting forward in his stroller and waving his arm all over and saying “like Daddy.”  When I studied what he was doing, he was SWINGING his arm and saying “like Daddy.”  Because he was watching Berkley swinging his arm as he walked.  HA HA HA WHAT A GOOFBALL!!!

20140210-093946.jpg 20140210-094017.jpg

(yes, he is wearing two hats..have I mentioned his goofiness?)

He was saying “Dis?” and pointing to things when he wanted to know what they were.  He still does, from time to time, but now he points and says “right there.”  I just love how he says stuff.  It’s so stinking cute that it makes me pinch his cheeks together and give him kisses all over like I’m some sort of crazy person.  hmmm…maybe I am.

20140210-093835.jpg 20140210-093852.jpg

(fluff on his face)

I don’t know how many 2 year olds say “please” and “thank you” but I must say (brag) that Ayden is pretty good at it.  A few nights ago, we were watching Nemo (his firs time).  All of a sudden, he pops up and runs to the pantry, saying “cracker, please?” (more like “kah-kuh, peese?”).  Only, he’s not pointing to any of the cracker choices, he’s pointing at the peanut butter, Nutella, fluff, cereal section of the pantry.  In an effort to offer something with some sort of nutrition, I pickup the peanut butter?, “no no no, peese?”… Nutella? “no no no, peese?”…cereal? “NO NO NO, PEESE?!?”  Finally I pick up the marshmallow fluff and he delightedly says “cracker!!!”  I tell him it’s not a cracker and I’m not going to just give him fluff.  I tell him I will spread some on a cracker (yes, I know it’s not on the mom-of-the-year award list for toddler snacks, but with his eating habits, sometimes whatever he will eat, he will get, against my healthier efforts tho).  So, I spread a thin layer of fluff on a Belvita Brown Sugar & Cinnamon breakfast cracker.  (He ate almost two!)   As I hand him the cracker he says, “thank you” (pay-pyou) “you’re welcome” (can’t type the phonetic for that one, but it’s fairly close to the way it’s supposed to sound).  I’m still trying to explain to him that one person says “thank you” and the other person says “you’re welcome” but for now, I’ll take both and be proud!

(ok, this is the last one…no one want’s to read a year-long post about someone’s kid that isn’t their own)


“Watch George”

Ayden has taken to Curious George.  Thanks to the PBS Kids app on the iPad and iPhone and now we record them on the DVR.  And I must say that George is the among the least “annoying” shows to listen to and educationally and morally, I don’t mind him watching George.  This picture is just now while I am typing this post.  There is a TV that he is looking at.  I am at my (used to be) Dining Room table that has been pushed into the corner of the room and I now use as a “desk-like” contraption.  He is standing on his stool that he sets next to my chair.  He was eating yogurt, here (yes I have pix of that too) and asked to “watch George.”  Something that I hear often.  But, what I love about this picture (and it happens often) is that he leans on me while watching it.  I can do something that I want to do, he’s doing something that he wants to but we can still be in contact and I cherish it!

20140210-101637.jpg 20140210-102006.jpg 20140210-101958.jpg

one word…yogurt! (“ah-yoht”)

Ok, there are so many more cute things that he says that I will have to do another post.  I started making a list in my Blog Planner (post about THAT coming soon, very exciting) but I just don’t have enough room for all his cute phrases in the “post idea” section.  So I’ve started a Master List (what WHAT! a list).  Keep your eye out for things like “No, thanks” “Don’t cry” and “Booger…eew!”

I’d LOVE to hear the words, phrases, and other speaking developments you’re kids have had or are having!  Even the way they interpret words (before they figure out how to say it the right way).  Leave them in the comments below.  Aren’t babies amazing?!?

Christmas Recap – Crafty Edition

Above, you will see a LOT of pictures of all things crafty from this past Christmas.

When Ayden was born (November 2011), I did not go back to work.  Berkley and I were bringing in about the same income so that means we cut our income in half!  By Christmas 2012, I was trying to see if I could decrease our Christmas gift spending without sacrificing gifts.  (Yes, I know that Christmas isn’t all about the gifts, but I think part of what I gained from this experience helped to look at gift giving differently).  So, I decided to make everyone’s gifts.  I had made gifts in the past, but it was as I was inspired.  At this time, Pinterest was a great source of Pinspiration.  So, I got out some trusty notepaper (my BFF) and started my list (one of my strengths).

Off to Hobby Lobby I went, excited that I got to actually buy stuff while I was in there!!!

Boy, was I in for a surprise.  I had NO idea how much work it was going to be to make all these gifts from scratch (and no…I couldn’t just do one gift per person, it was like 2-3 plus a couple gift), while taking care of a house and a one year old.  Also, my parents stay with us when they come for visits.  Not only did I not have all my gifts made by the time they got here, I didn’t even have their gifts made.  So I was making stuff in front of my mom that was for her and had to tell her it was for my MIL.

Anyway, to make a VERY VERY long story just a long story.  I was way in over my head.  I had so much to do at the last minute and I also had baked goods on my gifts list and those can’t be done too far in advance.  Not to mention what I contribute to our family gatherings on Christmas Eve and Day.  If you would like to see more on what I made last year, you can click here.

Alright, fast-forward a little bit to June 2013.  I was so ahead of the game (mind you, I am the world’s BEST list maker and also BEST procrastinator).  I got my notebook, made my list of who I was making gifts for, make a list of the gifts, make another list for all the supplies I will need.  And I started watching the Hobby Lobby and Michael’s ads every Sunday for what anything I needed that was 40 or 50% off so I didn’t have to use up my weekly coupons.  I even highlighted the projects I could do early and get out of the way so that it didn’t all pile up on me with the things I had to wait to do.  I was doing so good.   If there was a few things on sale that I needed, I went, got them, got something with my 40% off coupon and stashed away.  A few months into this wonderful plan and we ran into some major financial hurdles that made me change my tactic.  I now had to wait until the 2nd week in December to purchase the rest of my supplies.  Didn’t have enough of one project to be able to start early..nope!

This is why the phrase “the best laid plans” is the story of my life.  Needless to say, this didn’t all work out according to plan or even close.  I think late November, I ended up changing the whole gift list and going from there.  I worked with what I had and purchased the rest.  On top of this stress, I found out that my parents (who usually come a few days before the holiday) weren’t able to come until very very late the 23rd.  Because of this, I did not want to be rushing around on Christmas Eve (which I always am).  PS, Christmas Eve is when our whole family (grandparents, in-laws, etc) get together for finger foods and gifts.  And this year, it was back at my house.  Not a good year to be behind on gifts again!  On top of finishing gifts, I had to get the house clean, prep food, and still manage to make sure that my son wasn’t eating Nutella out of the jar, sneaking sips of my coffee, or trying to hook the dogs up with extra food!

So what do I do?  I make another list, two actually.  One for every single task for every single gift I had to make.  And the other for every single other thing I had to do that wasn’t gift related.  This might seem like just more work (busy work) to some of you.  But for my undiagnosed attention deficit issues and scatterbrainedness (don’t try to Google it, I know it ain’t a word) it was the only way I could get through all of this.  My brain doesn’t have to think this way.  I just look at the list and do what I can do at that moment.

Believe it or not, I got everything done, and wrapped, early (never has happened for me, usually wrapping in my room while people are arriving).  So, feel free to take a look at the pictures in this post.  If you click on the picture, you can scroll through the gallery and read the captions.

I will always make gifts (maybe not all of them, but at least one per person).  I love the feeling of putting so much thought, creativity, and joy into the gifts and seeing the reaction on the receiver’s face when they open it.  I usually go for a tear, sometimes I get one, sometimes I don’t.  😉

Thanks for taking the time to read through what seems like chaos, still, in my brain.  Stay tuned for the other editions of the Christmas Recap; Gift Photo Blooper Edition and Food Edition.

%d bloggers like this: