In between overdoing it

Archive for January, 2016

Finding Ways to Save on Food:Part 1

shopping-cart-1427585So the results of last week’s poll are in and 40% if Inbetweenmoderation readers said their biggest financial struggle is “Finding ways to save.” Overspending came in second with 30% saying it was their biggest financial struggle. For the next few weeks we will explore ways to save money and moderate spending within the four areas of this blog. We will explore ways to cut down and save on your food cost and grocery budget. We continue with ways to carve out additional savings for retirement, cut interest charges and save for college in the finance area. Then we will get into savings as a family. Finally, we will dive into the emotions of saving and the feelings that might be holding us back from saving for our futures.wp-1452884053054.jpg

This week we will start with 5 ways to cut down your grocery budget.

  1. Start a garden (or go to a farmers market) – Growing your own food is a great way to save money. It cost so much less to have home grown vegetables then to purchase ones from the grocery store. Plus, the nutrient content and fresh ness of home grown can not be beat. These are some of the reasons I wish I could maintain a garden. But am one of those people who are known as a brown thumb. Yes, I kill plants. The most I can manage is an herb garden. (Still a savings thought) For the rest of my veggies, I got to a local farmers market where I get over $45 in produce for under $20. Look for one by you on LocalHarvet.org.
  2. Have a shopping list- This is something I am starting to explore in more detail. By planning out your meals and having a list you can save money by not buying extra ingredients that you really don’t need. It also cuts down on impulse buys while you shop.
  3. Limit trips to the store – Having to very active kids made it difficult to food shop. TO compensate I started food shopping on my lunch break at work. This became a very costly habit as I was running out to the store almost everyday during the week. A short trip for some milk and bread turned into a $50 shopping trip each time. Yes, it was costing me much more then it was saving me in time. Now I only head to the store once every 2 weeks for the essentials. I also do a bulk shop once a month.
  4. Shop in Bulk – People are on the fence about shopping in bulk. I mean who really needs a 5 lb jar of pickles. Well, it really depends on what you buy. For example if you are a pickle freak and eat them on a daily basis then it might save you a bundle to get a 5 lb jar. The key is to examine what items you use most and purchase only those. Don’t fall prey to gimmicky bulk package savings unless it is something your family actually uses a lot of. If you couple this with in-store coupons, this can save you.
  5. Amazon Subscribe & Save  (Affiliate Link)- This is a service that has saved me money on items such as organic cereals, which can cost almost $5 a box. I have also purchased my husbands protein bars and kids organic snacks at a discount. You can change your order each month based on what your family needs. If you order 5 subscribe and save items you save and extra 15%. Also Amazon frequently runs coupon specials on many of these items. If you stack these coupons with the %15 saving your can save a ton. Plus the variety of what you can find on Amazon is almost limitless.
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Social Media Support

free_social_media_icons_image_ubersocialmediaI have to write this post about a phenomena I have been experiencing over the last several weeks. When you start anything new there is a learning curve to it. There is a period of time that is exciting and scary. The uncertainty of your skills seems overwhelming one minute and exhilarating the next. I have been feeling this recently with the new adventures in blogging, Beachbody coaching and cake decorating. These have been so much fun and exciting to learn about, but they have also created a bit of anxiety and fear. Fear? Yes, it is the fear of not knowing what I am doing. It is also this same fear that makes the learning process so much fun.

Ok, let me back up a little. For a long time I was stagnant, not really moving forward. Only existing. I think this is kind of a numbness you fall into after having kids. Your days are busy, tiring and full of love and growth. But in caring for others, you often forget about you and your needs. Not only did I forget about my needs and forgot about myself pretty much entirely.

Then I had an awakening. This awakening was brought about by the words of a friend. Her words helped me to overcome my fear and start this blog. The words and teaching of another friend encouraged me to venture into the art of cake design. The encouragement of yet another friend helped me try the 21 day fix. These things have brought so much happiness and fulfillment into my life. But I would never have done any without the encouragement of these friends.

encouragement-and-words-of-kindness

Picture from quotesvalley.com

 

So back to this phenomenon I have been talking about. Well, since I am progressing into the next stage of learning in these new ventures. I have felt a great amount of fear in my own abilities. To help me deal with this fear I have reached out to these communities through social media. I can not put into words the wonderful, unexpected and genuine support I have received. I mean most of these people know nothing about me. They have no reason to want to help or encourage me. To them, I am only a screen name and some pictures. Their kind words and encouragement have not only helped me move through my fears, it has also reminded me that there are good people in the world.

We often hear about how social media is disconnecting people, making them one-dimensional, shallow and vapid. I have experience just the opposite. I have felt goodness, kind heartedness and genuine caring. When I posted my fears on social media, I never expected such an overwhelming amount of support and encouragement. It was amazing how people took the time out of their day to say some kind words, sympathize and relay their story.  I am forever touched and grateful for the interaction of people such as Joyce with Toxic Sweet Shop, Jessica Winnett from Scope Mamas, my Beachbody up-line, Melissa Ely, Fit Theme Queen,  Kathleen with The Blogger’s Lifestyle.  I am really blessed to have come across these people.

So if you are feeling fear, trepidation and anxiety in starting a new venture. Reach out to those around you that have been there. In most cases, they have been there and can offer great information. You might find, as I have, that their encouragement is just what you needed to hear to move forward.

Vibrant sweets

In response to the Daily Post Phot Challenge “Vibrant,”

 
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My kids at Dylans Candy Shop in NYC.

I Have Value

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How much is what you produce worth? This is a question that can be taken many different way in a myriad of circumstances. For example, an attorney values his time enough to charge you for every second that you spend talking to them. Their knowledge and expertise in the area of law is of great worth. However, a stay at home mother who runs a household handles a budget, cares and teaches children is considered less valuable. Since their worth is not linked to a monetary hourly amount society does not express value I their skills. (Sad.)

Most jobs have a set amount that you are paid for a set amount of work you do. In those cases if you do more or less you still get paid the same amount. However, if you are an entrepreneur this doesn’t apply. You have the potential to give more value to others and in turn increase your value as a business. You get out what you put in. In this circumstance a lot of thought goes into the value you produce and how it is priced. If you are someone who is wrestling with self doubt you might undervalue the goods and services you provide. This is based upon your own feelings instead of the feelings of your customers. We are surprised by what other people will pay for. But why? Why do we find less value in our skills and products? Why do we assume what we produce is not worth something? If we put out heart and soul into producing something why do we think others will not see value in that?

To answer this question we must look inside ourselves. What is driving this feeling? Why are we undervaluing ourselves? Whether you are a stay at home mom, a business owner, a craft maker, or a hourly worker, we all need to recognize the value in what we produce.

When I first started this blog I was full of self-doubt. I thought no one would care or find anything useful in what I had to say? We create an imaginary scenario in our head that is completely irrational and we talk ourselves into devaluing our work until we are afraid of producing anything. This is what I did with this blog for a long time. If everyone thought like this nothing would be created. So how do we quite self-doubt?f54f13a44ac005c99afb7fd04022d9f9

Recognize your own uniqueness. No one can produce what you produce in the way you produce it. Your ideas, your manner, your talent, your creativity. They are unique to you. Someone might produce something similar, but not exactly the way you do. That uniqueness is what makes your work something of value.

When you undervalue yourself think of what you are trading to remain wallowed in self doubt. You never submit your book idea. You never achieve that raise. You undercharge  for the products you create. There are trade-off to these undervaluing actions. After toiling away on a product, taking time from your family, do you really want you give it away for nothing. By never bringing your value to light, your boss gives your raise or promotion to another. By never submitting your book idea you pass on a life long dream. All because you did not find value in yourself and what you produce.

I know it is hard to change this mindset. For me personally, it is a battle. I am making small strides towards recognizing I have something unique to contribute. My work does have value. It is ok to recognize that and ask for compensation. So going forward remember to tell yourself. What I produce has value. What I do has value. I have value.

Meringue Candy Cookies

cookie

This is a recipe that developed by happy accident. I bought a large container of powdered egg whites to use in a cauliflower pizza crust recipe. Well, that recipe was a resounding flop. I came to realize I just don’t like cauliflower pizza crust. So the dilemma became what was I going to do with all this powdered egg white? wp-1453643486595.jpg

When I googled egg whites recipes, meringue cookie recipes kept popping up. I figured I would give it a try. Meringues are just liquid egg whites whipped up with some sugar. Why would powdered egg whites work differently? So I gave it a go. This recipe is adapted from one I found on Food.com.

4 tsp egg white powder

4 tbsp. water

1/2 cup sugar or granulated stevia

1/2 tsp of extract of your choice. I used vanilla.

You could leave the cookies here and eat them just plain. But I went the extra step.  I still have leftover candy from Christmas so I decided to use some of them up and the reslts put this cookie over the top!wp-1453643549253.jpg

4-5 fun size candy bars, chopped

Mix first 4 ingredients in a bowl and then get to whipping. I used a hand mixer this time but it took what felt like forrrrreverrrr to get to stiff peaks, (about 7-8 minutes.) Next time I will try the stand mixer and see what happens.

Once stiff peaks are formed, slowly and gently fold in candy pieces. Drop onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 55 to 60 minutes and 275 degrees. Low and slow people! the tops should be lightly browned.

The result is sweet, crunchy and melt in your mouth yummy. wp-1453643292032.jpg

 

 

Organizing Month 1: Kitchen

 

As I have mentioned previously I am working thorough the book “One year to an Organized Life” by Regina Leeds. Month 1 is all about the kitchen and your emotions. One of the things I really love about this book is that it addresses the emotions of mess. The book doesn’t start off where you would think a book about organization should. No, you are not dividing items into keep, donate and get rid of piles. You are not holding an object to your chest and sending organizational vibes out to the universe to set it free. It starts you off with a journaling notebook. Yes, a plain loose leaf notebook. This is now your organizational journal.

As I have mentioned in prior posts, before anything in moved or organized the first step was to establish a new habit to prevent the mess from returning. To start off I decided to select the habit of loading and unloading the dishwasher everyday.

Our sink is small and our dishes are always overflowing. Adding this habit to my daily routine helped me more then I ever thought. Now we are never scrambling to find the kids water bottles.  Emotionally, it has helped me find more clarity and inspiration in the kitchen. I am cooking more often. The faucet is now easily accessible instead of crowded by dishes. This has helped me up my water intake. Who knew? Having a sink free of dishes has also prompted me to want to keep the counters free from clutter. It is true that one small change can have a big impact.

The kitchen organization month starts off with some emotional exploration into your organizational journal. Here you dig deep to discover your organizational history. Are there habits you learned in childhood? Is there an emotional connection to your chronic disorganization and lateness. What are your feelings regarding time management? What goals and changes do you want to make? There is a lot more emotion to tap into then I ever expected when I initially picked up this book  I really appreciate the authors perspective in this area. It is a totally different approach then anything I have seen before. One area that was really impactful for me was the discussion of saying “No.” I will expand on my feelings regarding this in an upcoming post.

The 2nd week goes into how to reorganize your time and invest in a calendar. I went into this area in my post “Planning for Days.” In week 3,  we actually get into the cleaning and organizing. Here we are introduced to something called the speed elimination. I had technically done this right after New Years so I was in pretty good shape heading into week 4. Here is how I broke down the rest of the month.

Step 1 – Pare down – Since I am a hobby cake decorator, I had cake decorating supplies coming out of every possible space in my kitchen. I could not open a drawer or cabinet without a cascade of pans, fillings and sprinkles falling out. If I was going to make my kitchen usable for my family this would not do. So I had to pare down. I went thought all of my baking supplies to get ride of everything I did not use on a regular basis. I also designated an entire cabinet for cake decorating supplies only. This was magical!. Suddenly I had space. I discovered I somehow had acquired three rolling pins and a large piece of PVC pipe. No wonder I had no space.

Step 2- Clean up – Here is where the literal dirty work began. I started off cleaning the pantry. Then moved to the fridge. (Which had not been cleaned since Thanksgiving, eww). I even cleaned the bottom of the oven. I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal but honestly, I just never took the time to give it a good cleaning. Go ahead judge…I’m ok with it. On that note I also never tackled under the sink.wp-1453571362409.jpg

Ok… here is the story… When I first moved into this house, my Beagle/Jack Russell somehow managed to pee inside the form batting used to insulated the dishwasher. (Gross I know) Unfortunately, we did not know this at the time. But every time we used the dishwasher out house became filled with this awful burnt tire stench. (Yes, it smells just as you would imagine it!) Being unable to determine the source of the smell we decided to replace the dishwasher. When we removed the bating we discovered the dog had marked inside the dishwasher. (Yes, I can’t imagine how he configured his fat beagle body to do this but he did.)

Well, since that time I have not cleaned out under the sink ( I think the pee incident scarred me) and yes, it was gross. I really just never gave it a thought. It holds cleaning supplies, dog treat, plastic bags. Who ever really thinks of cleaning that out? That is one of the biggest things I learned from chapter 1, the forgotten areas.

surround-yourself-with-beautiful-thingsStep 3 – Make it pretty- If the area is visually appealing then you will be more likely to maintain it. I learned this from the dishwashing habit at the beginning of the chapter. So I proceeded to paint the inside of my panty, purchase some organizing items and put up some decorations. Using some of the suggestions from the book I bought a step stool so I no longer have to steal one from the kids. I also purchased a tote from under the sink and some nice holders for the kids snacks.

Yes, it was a lot of work. However, I am so happy with my month 1 progress. I feel that my kitchen is more clean, organized and usable then it has ever been. Likewise, the emotional exploration helped to put in place a process that will help to maintain these new habits. Next month on to the garage and laundry room!

Below is a list of affiliated links of products I used to reorganize my kitchen:

One year to an Organized life  OXO Pop Top Storage

Magazine Rack (Used as a holder for aluminum foil and plastic wrap)

How to balance working with a sick child

mooWhen your child is sick at home you want nothing more to leave work and care for them. When you stay home with your sick child you feel like you are letting your work team down. This is a struggle that 9-5 mom’s have faced since they entered the workforce. Us mom’s feel we have a responsibility to be everything to everyone.

We feel like we can’t let anyone down. It is in situations like this where we feel guilt at ever turn. “I’m a bad mom for going to work and not caring for my sick child.” (Even though he is home with daddy.) “I’m a bad employee if I stay home and I’m letting down my co-workers, leaving them short handed.” How do we balance these feelings? Is any choice the right one? How do we moderate the emotions of a working mom and a sick child.

It’s easy to say my children come first, and yes they do. However, in being a working mom we also take on a reasonability to provide a function. Our work “family,” depends on us to do that as well. Logically, most employers understand a mom’s need to be with a sick child, but us mom’s still feel the need to please everyone.

In the same respect, even if you find a family member or daddy to watch the sick child, you still feel guilt. Y ou know they are in good hands and are being taken care of but mom’s feel that no one can care for them like mommy. Also, we ask ourselves are we being a bad mom by working while our child is sick? In our head there is no happy medium for this mommy guilt.

Here are three ways to get in your head and not let this guilty feeling overtake you

  1. Be where you are needed most- Sometimes that is work, sometimes that is with your children. If your child is energetic and sleeping well, don’t feel guilty about sending them to school with a cough or runny nose.tissue-box-1420439
  2. Don’t abuse your sick time – If you have sick time don’t feel guilty when you have to use it in times like this. That is what it is for. As long as you are abiding by your works policy, don’t feel bad about taking a sick day to care for your child. Be aware if your guilt is coming from a different souce. Maybe you have used your child as an excuse to take a day off when they where not really ill. Your guilt might be coming from your abuse of sick time not from your feelings about your child.
  3. Ask for help when needed –  Part of our guilt generates from us feeling like we must do it all. Be a great mom a la 1950’s, be a 1990’s career woman, and still have the energy to do crafts, get our hair done, complete the TP reports,  and be everything to everyone.  It’s ok to let dad be dad and take a day off to care for the kids. We don’t live in a age where child rearing is just the mother’s job. It takes a team. So when you feel overloaded ask grandma to step in. Talk to your boss about your work arrangement. See if you could work from home for a few days.  We have all heard horror stories but most employeers are more accommodating then we give them credit for.  Give others a chance to help you.

 

 

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