Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Years Eve Glitz & Glam

We will be ringing in 2016 from home this year. . .and likely be asleep long before the ball drops! Is anyone else as lame as I am? These days, sleep is just way more my style than staying up late partying.

However, a girl can still browse the fancy dress department, even if she is 28 weeks preggers and has no where to go! These are just a few of the dresses I'd love to be rocking on New Years Eve. Maybe next year!

New Years Eve

For sources or to shop click here.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

We wish you all the best for a very happy holiday and healthy new year! 
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Holiday Home Tour 2015

Hi friends! I'm popping in real quick today to share a little glimpse of our main living area all decked out for the holidays. I just love decorating for Christmas! It always makes our home feel extra cozy.

(Lyric Wall Tutorial Here)

Do you go big or keep it simple when it comes time to decorating for the holidays? You can see how our house, kids and decorations have changed a bit since the last time I shared our home at Christmastime. And if you're looking for some more cozy inspiration and easy decoration for your kitchen, check out my Hot Chocolate Bar post from a few years ago! And, hold onto all of those Christmas cards you get this month, here's a great idea on how to up-cycle them!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Baby No. 3 Gender Reveal

The waiting is over and the results are in! Sharing baby number three's gender today!

My ultrasound was originally scheduled for October 23rd, so when the doctor's office called me earlier this week to see if they could reschedule for October 16th I said, "heck yeah!" I immediately decided to get a little sneaky and not tell my hubby and kiddos! I surprised them when Addie got off the bus with balloons and a fun little family photo shoot. Addison, of course, was up for the challenge. Mason, on the other hand, lost interest mid way through! So, without further ado. . .

Sorry boys, you're officially outnumbered! 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fiscal Friday No. 4: The Road to Financial Freedom

Depending on your circumstances, the road to financial freedom will vary from family to family. Ours is a long, hilly road with lots of pit stops and detours. But, on the way, we've stayed the course and will stick to our plan to reach the end.

Here are some things that have really helped us stay the course. . .

1. Plan Your Road Trip

It is important for Sean and I to sit down once or twice a month to talk finances. We check our budget and make sure we're sticking to our plan. If unexpected purchases come up (i.e. we need a ladder to clean out the gutters) we find a way to fit it in or make it a priority for the next month's budget. Just seeing how we allotted our money for the month is a nice reminder of how hard we are working. 

2. Only Use Cash

Even though debit cards provide direct access to money in your checking account, you're a lot less likely to spend money when you have to hand over a crisp $20 bill to the cashier. 

3. Stay Fueled

Read books, blog posts or magazine articles about how other families became debt free. What works for one family won't always work for another. Stay motivated and educated on how to best help your family. 

4.  It's a Detour, Not a Road Block

We can't predict everything. Life doesn't always go as planned and you may have to set aside savings one month to pay for things up front. Or you might get "lost" and overspend when your favorite store has a sale. That's okay. No one is perfect. It is going to happen. We've done it too. The important thing is that you get right back on track and refocus your efforts on paying off your debts. Believe me, you'll have plenty of cash when this is all said and done to go shopping with!

Our goal of being completely debt free will be met in just a few more months! One more school loan and a credit card and, BOOM, we're done! Interested in doing the same? Check out the last few posts (here, here and here) and start your own debt-free journey! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fall Finds 2015

Hi friends! Sharing my Fall Finds for 2015 today. . .which means I have officially said goodbye to summer. With a growing baby in my belly I'm looking to accessorize this fall with cute boots, nail polish, scarves, vests and jewelry.

Fall Finds 3915

For Sources Click Here

The majority of my fall and winter wardrobe consists of black and gray clothes. This year I'm trying to bring in a little color with varying shades of blue, purple, red and green. Now I just need to find a winter coat big enough to cover the baby bump!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

She's off to School

It's hard to believe that it's already been a month since I've sent my sweet baby girl off to school on the school bus! I knew it was going to be a tough day (for mama) but no one prepared me for the crazy tears...we're talking snot out of the nose, flushed cheeks and convulsion kind of tears! My baby girl. On a bus. Out of my sight. Out of my control. Woah. 

This girl of mine was more than ready, she was ecstatic. And her excitement for school is still running strong. In fact, I had to keep her home for two days (thanks to a sweet fever and head cold) and you would have thought the world is going to end. "But, mama! I am going to miss so many new things to learn at school!"

As is our tradition, Addie got her annual school cone on the first day filled with school supplies and yummy goodies. You can see last year's here! Last year Addie wanted to be a pediatrician and a vet. Now, she'd much rather be a farmer. At least there's a trend with the animals!

It is going to be one busy year for this little lady! Ballet, tap, hip hop, riding lessons and scouts. Phew! I'm exhausted just thinking about her schedule.

And then there's this. "Stop crying mommy." Lord knows, I tried! I'm going to credit all these tears I'm shedding to the crazy pregger hormones! 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fiscal Friday No. 3: Cash Envelope System

Stopping by quickly today to share how we keep track of our money using a cash envelope system. Using our zero balanced budget we figure out how much cash we can allot to a variety of things that we need to spend money on each month. When we first started out we carried big envelopes with us everywhere we went. . .but now that I have this amazing wallet I have enough room for small dividers to keep track of our cash. {Seriously, best wallet ever. It also fits my phone! Perfect for the mom on the go!}

I used regular binder dividers that I cut to size and used washi tape and a black sharpie to make the labels. Easy peasy! 

We have six categories:

1. Spending Money 

2. Kids

3. Family Fun

4. House + Lawn

5. Celebrations

6. Car + Truck 

Sean and I each keep track of our own spending money. It's what we use for clothes, Starbucks, or anything else our little hearts desire. We can save it up across a few months or spend it all in one month...but the pot doesn't get refilled until the next month! 

For the kids we budget money for things like clothes they might need, ballet registration, new shoes, or even toys and games that we want to get them. 

Our family fun money is for going out to restaurants, strawberry picking, carnival rides or just ice cream after dinner. Basically, anything we do for fun as a family. 

To help with small projects and maintenance around the house we budget accordingly. Things like a new lawn mower propeller, curtains for the living room, new air filters, etc. are all planned for and can only be purchased with these funds. If there is money left over we might score some decor pieces from Target or HomeGoods! 

We also set aside some cash each month for "celebrations." This is to buy gifts for people's birthdays, anniversaries or retirements (there are always a ton of retirements in the education field!). We leave this envelope a little cushioned throughout the year and use what we save for everyone's Christmas presents too! 

Least exciting to me, but most important for my master mechanic of a hubby, the car and truck fund! A monthly expense for things like oil changes, maintenance, and of course every car cleaning and waxing product under the sun! 

If you missed the last few post in my fiscal series you can catch up here and here! How is your journey to debt freedom coming along? 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fiscal Friday No. 2: Zero-Balanced Budget

I'm back this week to share how creating a zero-balanced budget really helped us to buckle down on our extreme spending. If you missed last week's post on getting started and cutting up your credit cards, click here to catch up. Setting up your zero-balanced budget is pretty simple, but here are a few things you'll need to help get you started and to keep you organized:

1. Monthly Calendar

2. Calculator 

3. Notebook

4. Highlighters, pens, pencils and whatever else 
your little organizational heart desires!

Okay, ready to get rolling? Start by jotting down all of your monthly expenses (bills, payments, etc.) as well as your monthly income. Don't forget to include things like gas and groceries. Look back at the last three months of your bank statements to get an average of what you spend. 

Next, subtract the difference between the money coming in and the money going out (income minus expenses). Anything that is left over still needs to be accounted for. This is where the zero-balanced budget became such a game changer for us. Before we took a closer look at our money we didn't account for e v e r y  s i n g l e penny so it was easy to just blow our extra income on silly things that we didn't really need. With a zero-balanced budget we account for everything. So, we make an allotment for family fun, going out to dinner, car maintenance, household items, clothes, etc. This also let's us better manage our money so that we can make bigger payments on the things we owe, like school loans and car payments. 

Need a better explanation of how this all works? Check this article out. Want a fancier way of keeping track of all of this? There are tons of downloads and printables available on Pinterest and Etsy, if that's more up your alley. Dave Ramsey also has a great program to help you keep track of everything (monthly budget and debt payoff) here. You have to pay for it, but for us, it was worth every cent! 

Good luck setting up your new budget! Let me know how it goes! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

7 love habits

Last week my hubby and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary! While we may still be considered young birds compared to other more veteran couples out there I still think that it is something to be celebrated. Plus, isn't seven a lucky number?

Life can get crazy and hectic and overwhelming and stressful and sad and depressing. Having this guy by my side keeps me going. He is my rock. And he is also the biggest goofball I know. I'm not a marriage expert, and Lord knows I am not a perfect wife, but today I wanted to share our seven love habits. These are just little ways that we remind each other that we still love each other. . .even amongst all the crazy we juggle between kids, work, family, friends, and life.

1. Never go to bed without saying goodnight. Oh don't get me wrong, one or both of us might be angry about something but we always kiss and say goodnight. It doesn't make the anger go away but we at least subliminally agree to table whatever it is we are arguing about until the next day when we are more likely to communicate more pleasantly.

2. Leave love notes for each other. Before we were married, Sean would leave post it notes hidden all over our apartment any time he went on a work trip. It would take me the entire time he was gone to find them all! When we moved back to New England and lived in the city Sean put a note on my steering wheel before he left for work every day for two years! They started off as little love notes to me and eventually grew to include morning hellos for both of his girls after Addie was born! We've scaled back a bit since then but we still find time to leave notes for each other. Need some ideas? Use a dry erase marker to leave a note for your loved one on their bathroom mirror, stick a note in their lunch, car, wallet or jacket pocket! It doesn't have to be fancy, just meaningful.

3. Serenade each other. When a good song comes on the car radio, turn it up and belt it out to your loved one! The kids love this and think we're nutso when we start singing to the other person!

4. Snuggle. In bed at night. On the couch watching a movie. At the park on a blanket while the kiddos run off and play. In private. In public. Just snuggle...come on, who doesn't love a good snuggle?

5. Hold hands. Hold hands whenever and wherever you can.

6. Let it go. You don't always have to have the last word or always be right (even if you are!). Sometimes, you have to just let it go. It's not worth it. At the end of the day is it really horrible that he left the dish in the sink and not in the dishwasher? Did your marriage really suffer because he doesn't fold the towels in the same direction as you? Exactly. So let it go. It's not worth getting into an argument. And if you do argue, see No. 1.

7. Talk. The big things in your life shouldn't be communicated through text messages and emails. You need time each day to connect and talk, especially if you have littles around. It's important to tell each other about your day. Be specific; "My day was fine, how was yours?" does not count. "My day was great because..." or "It was awful because...." We've even got the kids in on this and every day we go around and share our favorite part of the day and our not-so-favorite part of the day. It's a great way to get conversation rolling and it allows us time to really connect with each other.

How do you and your loved one make time for each other? I'd love for you to share in the comments below!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fiscal Friday No. 1: Getting Started

I'm so excited to kick off this new series on getting (and staying) out of debt! It's going to get pretty personal but I want to share my journey with you all in hopes that your financial health can change for the better too. Since beginning this last fall, Sean and I have seen drastic changes to our lives and have way more financial freedom than ever before! And, just to be clear, this isn't a "you can never shop again" or "you have to make your own soap and laundry detergent" kind of a plan (unless you're into that...than by all means, go for it!). This is all about making smarter choices when it comes to that hard earned paycheck of yours. It's about budgeting. It's about planning ahead for larger purchases. And, it's about giving you and your family more freedom for fun! 

I'm not ashamed to admit that I've pretty much drank all of the Dave Ramsey Kool Aid. Don't get me wrong, I was a little skeptical at first. I mean, this guy is super wealthy and I just paid him even more money in royalties to read about his wealth. I dug in a little deeper, did some research, and even went to one of his events to learn more about his story. I'm not saying that if you read his book you'll become a millionaire. But, I do wholeheartedly believe that reading this book will shatter some of your beliefs regarding loans, credit cards, and saving for things like college and retirement. Plus, I am not an expert. He is. 

If you have kids, I highly recommend you read the book he wrote alongside his daughter, Rachel Cruze as well. For links to both books click here. It gave Sean and I some great ideas on ways to teach our own kids about money, buying on credit, college savings and their future financial health. 

So, if you're ready to get started and want to take the first steps towards getting out of debt I highly recommend that you start by reading these books. If you don't have the cash to buy them, check them out at your local library (or you can borrow mine!). If you have a spouse or partner it's super important to get them on board to read along with you. Dave refers to his "baby steps" throughout the book but essentially his philosophy breaks down to this: cut up your credit cards, put a little money aside as an emergency stash, and start paying off debt before you focus on things like retirement or college savings.

What? Cut up the credit cards? You must think I'm crazy, right? Trust me, it was scary for us too. What if something happens? What if there was an emergency? What if I need money, fast? Those were the same questions and hesitations we had too. My recommendation. . .check those credit card statements and see how many transactions were for T R U E emergencies. Did you really need those new shoes, or did you just want them? Could you have borrowed a crib from your cousin or did you need to buy a new one for baby number three? Did you really need to charge up your grocery bill, or did you just blow your budget on other non essentials last month? Did you need to go away with the girls for the weekend or could you have mustered up the courage to say "no, it's not in my budget right now," and invite them for a night in at your house instead? Yeah, that's what I thought! And I was totally guilty of all of this too! (We are in a judgement free zone right now!)

This week I challenge you to cut up those credit cards! Its scary, I know. . .but you can do it! You'll even feel empowered knowing that you are one step closer to paying off your debts. Don't have credit cards? Hooray for you, you're already one step ahead of the rest of us! The rest of you, stop making excuses (insert loving and smiley face here).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pineapple Crush

Did you know that pineapples are the international symbol for hospitality? I've been searching high and low the past two years for the perfect pineapple knocker for our front door. In my quest I've realized that pineapples are the new "in" thing. . .I see them everywhere (except on my front door) and I love it!

Pineapple Crush

For sources or to shop click here

It's neat to see how decorative trends change from year to year. The starfish, crabs, anchor and nautical color themes from summers before had a good run but now pineapples, flamingos and bright pops of color are taking over.  Do you have a pineapple crush, too? 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

About ten months ago Sean and I had a long heart to heart about where we wanted to be five, ten, fifteen and twenty years from now. We scribbled out our dreams of having a fence, new deck and patio, a finished basement and attic, a hot tub,  a vacation home, a week long trip to Disney or Bermuda or Aruba, new cars, new clothes, new furniture, new adventures. You know, all those materialistic things! We talked about travelling the country in an RV with our kiddos, saving for them to go to college, saving for our own retirements, moving south, moving north, or moving to the next town over. 

Then we took one glance at our finances. Car payments, mortgage, school loans, credit cards, bills. We felt like we were stuck between a rock and a hard place. The amount we owed seemed overwhelming. Where was all of our money going? We paid all of our bills on time and provided for our family. On occasion, I did a little shopping but that wasn't what was preventing us from getting ahead with paying down those school loans, car payments or credit cards. How the heck is anyone supposed to get ahead? 

I started talking with friends who weren't afraid to get personal and talk about money. We shared tips and articles and budgeting ideas. These same friends had joined in my retail therapy challenge from last summer. And eventually, I came across Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover
B e s t. P u r c h a s e. E v e r. Seriously. I know it sounds silly, even Sean asked, "Why are we spending money on something to learn how to save money?" But friends, this book is a major game changer! You can read more about it here and here

Sean and I read the book together and immediately put ourselves on a zero-based budget. We started in October and within a few short months we were able to pay of thousands of dollars in debt. Since my brief mention of this we've paid off even more. W a y. M o r e. We officially own both of our vehicles and have paid off two credit cards! If we stay on track (and if I did my math right...which is always questionable) we'll be completely debt free by the end of 2015! 

People get a little funny when it comes to talking about money. But if you feel like you're stuck between a rock and a hard place I challenge you to follow along for a little mini series here on the blog that will focus on becoming more financially healthy. Over the next few Fridays I'll be sharing our journey as we said goodbye to using credit cards, paid off our car loans early, and budgeted our way to financial freedom! It's not a one size fits all plan, but a little change here and there can really add up! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mermaid Flower Paris Party |Part Deux|

Hi, friends! I'm back again today to share a few more pictures from Addison's Mermaid, Flower, Paris 5th Birthday Party. If you missed yesterday's post click here. I can't wait to see what she dreams up next year!