Life in 3 acts

5 EASY things to do RIGHT NOW to get your budget on track

 

I alluded to this topic in a post (link HERE) a couple of weeks ago, but as soon as the last of the Christmas fudge was eaten, the tree and stockings were taken down and stored in the attic, my husband and I sat down and had a “come to Jesus” budget meeting.

Budget meetings are not my favorite thing in the world, in case you were wondering. For many years, early in our marriage, we didn’t talk about our finances. Like, at all. You wanna know how well that worked for us? Not well at all. (And that’s all I have to say about that.)

Then, 9 years ago, we read the infamous Dave Ramsey book and finally sat down and talked about our financial situation. It was then that we decided to change our ways. Not even a year later, we were in a totally different financial situation. We were kind of thriving.

We’ve continued to thrive (and by “thrive” I mean not living beyond our means, while still being able to afford to do fun things and have sort of nice stuff too) financially over the years but in the past year, we’ve let it slip here and there ever-so-slightly. Little things have started to added up recently. I quit my small, part-time job; we bought a car; etc. So, we sat down a few weeks ago and assessed our situation and decided to get things back in control quickly before we spun out of control again.

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Life in 3 acts

Frugal Friday Favorites

Since we’ve tightened up our budget and, based on the responses that I got from my last Frugal Friday Favorites post (link HERE), a lot of you are in budget-mode too, I’m continuing on with free or inexpensive favorites this week. I’d love to hear yours too!

First up is my homemade facial cleanser. It contains 2 ingredients…yes, 2. And costs very little to make. Also, I love the way it makes my skin feel. Winning!

Ingredients:

Castor Oil

Coconut Oil

Depending on your skin, you might start with equal parts castor oil and coconut oil (this is what I do for my normal skin). If you have oily skin, you’ll want to do 1 part coconut oil to 3 parts castor oil. For dry skin, do 3 parts coconut oil to 1 part castor oil.

Here’s how I use it: I keep my jar of the oil cleanser next to my sink in the bathroom. I take a fingerful of the goop and smear it on my face. Then I brush my teeth, letting the oil sit on my face. After that, I get in the shower and use a how, wet washcloth to gently begin wiping the cleanser off. Along with it, the dirt and makeup comes off as well.

With all of this oil, you’d think that you’d get out of the shower feeling like a greasy-ball, huh? Amazingly enough, no. My skin always feels plump and hydrated (like after a facial) but not at all greasy. In fact, I’m typically ready to put my various night serums, lotions and potions on shortly thereafter.

Next up is a recipe that I made this week that cost me nothing to make! We had all of the ingredients on hand–and the family devoured it.

 

It also fed us for two dinners and was great for reheating for hurried before-after-school-activities-meals. Link HERE

Image courtesy of: http://www.5dollardinners.com/cheeseburger-skillet/

 

Finally, a workout program that costs only $2 a month:

Image courtesy of www.mommastrong.com

 

I’ve talked about Momma Strong before. It’s an online workout (geared towards women–moms specifically–but there’s also now a Papa Strong workout for the menfolk) that is only $2 a month. I’ve been doing the Daily 15 workouts for many months, but fell off the wagon over the Holidays (and, for only $2 a month, I didn’t feel too bad about jumping ship). At the beginning of this month, I was really ready to get back to the program. I started The Hook–a 28 day strength challenge earlier this month. It’s also a 15 minute a day workout. This, coupled with my daily dog hike, has gotten me back on track.

It’s also good to sign up for and honor a commitment. Another integral part of the whole Momma Strong community is an active Facebook group, where you can ask questions and get accountability buddies. It’s an incredible group of people who are supportive and at all different levels of health and fitness. Again…all of this is included in the $2 a month fee.

What are your current Frugal Friday Favorites? 

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Life in 3 acts

One True Love: Current Favorite Jeans

I’m a big fan of Megan and Wendy’s Long Story Short YouTube channel (as well as their corresponding blog). so I decided to jump aboard their latest monthly blogging opportunity. I’m late posting this one, but look for my other posts to go live the second Thursday of each month.

Image courtesy of: http://www.meganandwendy.com/

 

This month’s One True Love is jeans. Now, I’ve talked about my love for Kut From The Kloth jeans HERE before and, believe me, those are still the jeans that I reach for over and over in my closet. However, just in the last couple of months or so, I purchased a new pair of jeans (that get a lot of buzz on the internet) and, I have to say, they’re contenders for my One True Love.

A.G. “The Legging”  Ankle Super Skinny jeans (not sure what my particular wash is called–it’s a dark blue)

 

 

 

Crooked necklace, don’t care. Necklace from http://www.accessoryconcierge.com/

 

Now, i’ve tried AG jeans on before and never felt too excited about them. So, I’m not sure what possessed me to purchase a pair recently. Perhaps it was the deep discount that Nordstrom was offering (I don’t remember what I paid for these–but I’m thinking it was right at $100, which, for AG jeans, is a great price) but also the rave reviews all over the internet about these jeans. Peer pressure much? 

Oh, look! They come in white too! I love white jeans for spring and summer…


AG Adriano Goldschmied Women’s Legging Ankle Jeans, White

The things that I like the best about these jeans are the ankle length and the comfort. I guess I have shorter than average legs because almost all jeans are too long for me. I love an ankle length because you can wear them with any kind of shoes–booties, sandals or flats. And as for the comfort–I can wear these all day without wanting to pull my hair out. They don’t bind in the waist and they don’t stretch out in the bootie. I’m really pleased with these jeans and can safely say that i’m getting my money’s worth out of them. 

Image courtesy of: http://www.meganandwendy.com

 

If you’d like to participate, post your One True Love either in a blog post, video, Instagram or Facebook post and add the #LSSOneTrueLove hashtag. The official linkup date is the second Thursday of the month, but you can post any time and come back and add your link here in the comments! Looking forward to hearing from you! 

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Life in 3 acts

On sadness and anger in early sobriety

I was looking through old photos this morning–trying to find photos of me drinking that I could share with you (I’m not sure why, but it seems important to show you who I used to be).

Sadly, (or maybe fortunately) I couldn’t find much. I think that our photos from that time period aren’t on this computer, but what I found instead were lots of photos of me in those first few months of sobriety.

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Life in 3 acts

The Parent Party Scene

There’s something that’s been bothering me and I wanted to discuss it today.

I need to preface this post with a few statements: First of all, this post isn’t written from a  “sour grapes” angle. I’ve had opportunities to jump into this party scene and I’ve politely declined multiple times.

Also, I’m the first to admit it and my life is boring as shit. Sure, there was a time in my life when I went out late, drank a lot, had inappropriate conversations with people and did some things that I really shouldn’t have. BUT, I was also like 24 years old and didn’t have a family or children depending on me at home. I rather love my current lifestyle and, while I’m glad that I had (most of) the experiences that I had in my early 20’s, I wouldn’t go back to that pace of life for anything. ANYTHING. Give me my orthotic slippers, fuzzy pajamas and Bravo TV marathons any day. 

So, here goes…

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Life in 3 acts

5 things I get done before 7 a.m.

My weekday mornings begin early…I mean real early, girl.

My alarm goes off at 5 a.m. This is partly because I have to get my kids to the bus stop early and I need a few moments to collect myself before they wake up for the day.

Here’s what my average Monday through Friday mornings look like during the school year. All of these things happen before 7 a.m.:

1: Upon getting out of bed, I’m immediately met by 5 (6, if you count the fish too, who’s not pictured) hungry–obviously malnourished–pets, on the brink of starvation. They get fed first because they’re loud until they’re fed. Who owns who?

2: Before I do anything else, I take my multivitamin. I LOVE this multivitamin because it’s a liquid and it tastes divine (peach mango flavor). As soon as this stuff hits my system, I feel like I can take on the world. For real. I buy it from my local holistic health care practitioner, but Amazon sells it too. Link HERE

3: Next up, coffee. In between the vitamin and coffee, I guzzle a glass of apple cider vinegar/lemon water. By then, my coffee is cool enough to drink. I got Kevin this coffeemaker for Christmas and we love it. Turns out that, when you have a 12 year old coffeemaker, you’re drinking some shitty-ass coffee and you might not even realize it. This new coffeemaker has upped our coffee game considerably. Link to coffeemaker HERE

This photo was taken one morning last week when it was particularly cold here. Tino was questioning my bus stop wardrobe judgement.

 

A few things happen between coffee and taking the kids to the bus stop. Actually, a lot more than a few: I empty the dishwasher, do my blog reading, make breakfast for the kids and assemble lunches for the kids (they make their lunches the night before, but I pack everything into their lunch boxes for them in the morning). None of these things are particularly photo-worthy though…

4: After all of that, it’s time to go to the school bus stop at the end of our street. The bus comes at 6:30 a.m.–which is stupid early, but when my kids ride the bus, it saves me from making the 20 mile (roundtrip) drive to their school, which takes about an hour out of my day. The kids like riding the bus–it’s social hour for them–so that makes it easier.

5: As soon as I get home from the bus stop, I make all of the beds in the house (provided that my husband is up already–sometimes he’s not and so I passive-aggressively slam bathroom cabinets and turn on lights around him to show my jealousy and remorse that he gets to sleep later than me). #supermaturewife #alsowelladjusted

To be fair, I enjoy getting up early. I need quiet time to myself in the mornings to prepare for my day ahead. I don’t think that I could function as well if I had to start all of my “mothering duties” the minute that my feet hit the floor. So, this is what works for me and my family. 

What about you? What things do you get accomplished in the morning? 

This post contains affiliate links, which help to support the maintenance and upkeep of this blog. 

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Life in 3 acts

Friday Favorites–Frugal Friday

I don’t know about you, but we’re in a major “budget triage mode” around here, trying to contain the financial hemorrhaging that the Holidays caused.

I was working on a thrilling Friday Favorites post about my favorite underwear, which happen to be $17 a pop, when I realized that encouraging you to buy those undies right now didn’t jibe with my own, personal seasonal spending freeze–and maybe you’re experiencing the same thing.

Alas, don’t fret, Grasshopper, I’ll likely tell you all about these magical $17 underwear next Friday–but this Friday, I decided to highlight a few of my current favorite indulgences that cost very little (a Netflix membership) or nothing at all.

First up–a Podcast that I adore:

Image courtesy of http://boomama.net/

The Big Boo Cast is brought to you by Melanie Shankle (link to her blog HERE) and Sophie Hudson (her blog HERE).

Maybe it’s because I’m born and raised in the South, but listening to these two Southern ladies talk makes me feel like I’m having a long phone conversation with my aunts, my old middle school friends and my favorite adult friends, all at the same time, while also eating a giant vat of banana pudding. Their humor tickles me and they talk about the stuff that I’m interested in (spoiler: it’s not heavy stuff) and, honestly, it just feels like home.

I often save their new podcasts for my daily dog walks and find myself giggling while traversing the hiking trails in my neighborhood–looking like a bonafide loon, I’m sure. “Oh, you know Jenny?..The one who laughs to herself while walking the Weimaraner?”

Music:

I put on a Rest and Relax-type of station on Spotify one day and I kept finding myself running to my phone to find out who this one particular artist was whose music kept playing on the playlist. It was Jose GonzalezHis songs also appear on the The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty soundtrack.

 

Gonzalez’ music is great, ambient music that I can put on and just largely ignore while I’m cooking or working around the house. The rhythms and guitar playing are fabulous and it appeals to me in a very “Iron and Wine” way. Here’s the video for one of the songs from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty that I really like:

 

TV:

I’m surely the last person on the planet to finally watch The Crown on Netflix, but my husband and I have finally delved into it. Sadly, we’re only halfway through because we watch it at bedtime and, well, there’s something about staying up past 9:30 pm on a school night; dark and gloomy scenes from 1950’s England and mid-life that cause us to not be able to stay awake for a full hour of a show. BUT, don’t let this paint the series as boring–it’s not. I find it fascinating. And, now that I’m watching it, I feel like I know The Queen and her family in an intimate way–just like when I read The Royal We and felt like I was a close, personal friend of William and Kate’s from University (spoiler alert: I am, in fact, NOT).

Are you trying to reign in your post-Holiday spending? What frugal favorites do you have to share? 

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Life in 3 acts

Drinking at the gym

…and why it makes me angry. 

I joined a Crossfit “box” (that’s what they call a gym in Crossfit lingo) a couple of years ago. I was looking to challenge myself physically a bit more than my classes at the YMCA could provide for me and I wanted to maybe even meet some people; make some friends who were interested in a healthy lifestyle. 

So, I joined a box in my area and showed up for my first class. As the front desk person was giving me a tour, she showed me the refrigerator that was stocked with bottles of water for purchase. I also noticed that the entire lower shelves were stocked with beer. I thought that was odd, but chalked it up to the owner maybe enjoying a cold beer when she was up there doing paperwork or cleaning or whatever. Who am I to judge?

Then, I started getting emails about a special Friday afternoon Crossfit class that ended with a “Happy Hour.” The photos showed up on my Facebook feed of the class participants, still sweaty and dirty from the WOD (workout of the day) doing handstand/kegstand-type of maneuvers, guzzling beer like college students. This rubbed me the wrong way. 

Then, at the holidays, there were several social get togethers both at the gym and at the owner’s home where alcohol was predominantly featured–and I don’t mean a festive glass of wine–I mean jello shots and beer bongs. 

It was very common for my fellow classmates to show up for the Monday morning class hungover, reeking of alcohol from the weekend before, complaining (or bragging?) about how much they’d had to drink over the weekend and commiserating over shared weekend shenanigans with fellow classmates and even coaches. 

All of this really made me angry. 

First of all, I joined a gym to try and engage in a healthy lifestyle. I hoped to surround myself with people who were health conscious and maybe not still drinking like college-age people at my age (40-something). Some of these heavy-drinking classmates were also mothers like me. I knew that I absolutely didn’t want any part of that scene.

Also, I learned that the owner of the gym is a recovering addict herself. I can’t speak to her current sobriety, but she was prominently featured in all of the social media photos cheering on the shot-taking and jokingly holding the beer bong for other gym members at the Friday Happy Hour class. 

Long story, short: Due to a handful of factors, I canceled my membership to this gym. I’m not going to lie–the college student-like approach to drinking and socializing was a big factor, as was the owner’s laissez faire attitude about the drinking habits of the other gym members.

All of the drinking that was going on at the gym and with other gym members didn’t trigger me or make me want to drink–quite the contrary–but I did feel excluded. I had hoped to make a few connections at this gym, but it became clear to me that if you didn’t go out and drink with everyone else, you weren’t “part of the club” and this quickly became a “club” that I didn’t care to be a part of.

From what I see though, my experience at this “box” isn’t necessarily an isolated scenario. I see more and more gyms luring members with promises of social gatherings at local breweries and wine tastings and happy hour classes that end with drinks. I mean, there’s even a Wine Workout that someone came up with. I’m sorry, but…WHAT?

Image: www.greatideas.people.com

 

I’m not judging people who can drink socially but I’d really like to see a gym or a fitness professional NOT advocate drinking. Just for once. Not only is drinking your calories not a good idea if you’re trying to lose weight, but it’s also a dangerous habit to introduce to your members. 

Can we really not do anything without alcohol? Can’t we go for a few days a week without drinking alcohol, or is that unfathomable? 

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Life in 3 acts

What I’m Reading

If you saw my post about my 2017 goals, you know that I’d like to read more thought-provoking books this year. I typically read about 1-2 heavy-duty books a year and then “recover” with lots of “beach-reading” afterward. I guess what I need to do is find a happy medium so that I don’t need to binge read the fluffy stuff after a challenging title. 

That said, here’s what I’m currently reading:

The NestThe Nest is about a group of siblings who are awaiting the delivery of their “Nest”–the money they’re set to inherit when the youngest sister turns 40. This is a dysfunctional family and the characters are interesting and engaging. The Nest sucked me in immediately. I’m about halfway through right now and it continues to hold my interest.

What I’ve just finished:


Commonwealth

I started reading Commonwealth right before Christmas and it left me wanting more each night, as I struggled to stay awake to read just one more chapter. Toward the end, the characters got a little fuzzy for me (could’ve been the general overwhelm of the holiday season and how tired I was each night before bed) and the ending fell a smidgen flat for me, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

What I’ve read recently:


The Hating Game: A Novel

Holy sexual tension! Um, this book was engaging in an “it makes me feel kinda funny, like when I used to climb the rope in gym class”–way, so, that alone kept me reading it, but I found the ending to be predictable and one dimensional. It would make for a good in-flight or poolside read though.

 

The Blue Bistro

Criminy! Again with the sexual tension! Like all of Hilderbrand’s books, this one takes place in Nantucket and it’s a feast for your imagination with visions of perfect, quaint little Nantucket lives. This book was an easy read and very predictable–which is sometimes all I can manage. Another good book for a quick weekend read. 


The Nightingale

So, I read The Nightingale back in the Fall and I adored it but…it gutted me. It is brilliantly written and tells an important story but, manalive, it chewed me up and spit me out. I highly recommend this book but prepare a few fluffy reads for your recovery from this one. 

 

What are you reading these days? Please share! 

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Life in 3 acts

Friday Favorites–Lash Boost + Superhero

One of the things that I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that my eyelashes just don’t have the oomph that they used to have. I’ve tried lots (LOTS!) of different mascaras. I’ve sold my soul to Ulta and Sephora and still manage to walk out with puny, little lashes.

Just before resigning to wearing falsies for special occasions, I considered eyelash extensions for about 15 minutes one day–until I discovered the time investment in getting them applied (and then filled every few weeks)–not to mention the cost! And the upkeep! (No wearing mascara? No sleeping on your side or tummy? And no rubbing your eyes? So many rules…)

So, when Rodan and Fields launched their new lash serum, Lash Boost late last year, I begrudgingly handed over my wallet to my friend/R+F Consultant and put my sad little eyelashes in her hands (figuratively, not literally).

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