Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer First Aid Kit

We are nearing the Dog Days of summer now. The days are the longest and hottest. The kids and adults are outside more. And with all the extra time spent outdoors, someone, somewhere, is bound to get hurt.

That's why in the summer, we have a special first aid kit.

In it, we have everything we need to treat the summer bumps, bruises and ouchies.

Most importantly, we have bug spray. I love this Buggins stuff you can get at Walgreens. It keeps the gnats away and smells really good, for a bug spray. We also have some Jason natural bug spray.

Right behind the bug spray, the most important thing to have at all times in the summer is sunscreen. I like both the cream and the stick so I can get all over coverage. I love the cream for bodies, while the stick is so nice for faces. You don't have to worry about smearing it into an eye accidentally. This is extremely important when your toddler is trying to break free from your grip like a convict fresh off the farm.

Band-aids. Duh.

Pain relief antiseptic cream and anti-itch cream. Not a summer goes by when The Good Husband doesn't get poison ivy.

To soothe your sore muscles from all that hard summer work - muscle balm.

I have some extras on hand for summer illnesses - aloe for treating sunburns, lye soap for poison ivy treatments. But everything we need is kept in the summer first aid kit.

How is your summer going so far?

Monday, July 22, 2013

New Budget Worksheet - Finance Calendar and COUPON CODE

This is the sixth and final post in a series on the new budget worksheets I have created that are NOW available in my Etsy Shop.

I am so excited to share this template so everyone can bask in my anal retentive ways. I like to keep track of things. I don't think that is any secret. In fact, my therapist told me on the second visit, in a very nice way, that there was just no hiding it.

So I like to see, in detail and often, everything. In this case, monthly bills and when they are due. 

For me having a calendar like this is a great way to keep on top of all your finances. You can see when you will get paid, when bills are due. You can calculate how much will go out at the end of the week and how much will come in. It is also great to see if a payment due date falls on a nonbusiness day, so you can make it in advance and avoid all the late fees.

This worksheet allows you to write in the left column all the bills that are due for the month and then track them on the calendar on the right. It keeps all your finances in one spot and helps to never miss a payment.

So now you have seen all the budget worksheets I have designed that are included in the new *expanded* Budget Pack in my Etsy shop.  

Buy this pack, or anything else in my shop, and take 15% off your order! Use coupon code NEW15 at checkout.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

New Budget Worksheet - Checkbook Registers

This is the sixth post in a series on the new budget worksheets I have created that will soon be available in my Etsy Shop.

It seems I never shut up about how I pay bills.

It just never occurred to me to stop using that silly *small* and *ugly* checkbook register when paying bills and reconciling my statements and design my own *bigger* and *prettier* one.

So I did. It works great in my Household Binder. I can add a lot more transactions to the page and it stays in one place with all the other budgeting templates.

And I have both a horizontal and vertical one.

Come back tomorrow when I talk about a finance calendar!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

New Budget Worksheet - Safe Deposit Box Log

This is the fifth post in a series on the new budget worksheets I have created that will soon be available in my Etsy Shop.

It's a great idea to have a safe deposit box. You can keep your Home Inventory Log in there as well as other important documents, like original birth, marriage, death and divorce certificates. 

We have the important paperwork above as well as things like savings bonds, family jewelery, valuable coins in our safe deposit box.

So we need a good way to track what we have in there. This log allows us to know where the box is located, as in the actual bank, where the key is, any special instructions to access and the contents. We can log when we add or remove any items and we also have a record should anything happen with the safe deposit box. 

Check back tomorrow when I talk about checkbook registers.

Friday, July 19, 2013

New Budget Worksheet - Donation Log

This is the fourth post in a series on the new budget worksheets I have created that will soon be available in my Etsy Shop.

Each year we donate to several charities in our community. We have a rotating list of charities that cover a wide range of topics from arts and education to animals and the environment to women's issues. We also make several donations of physical goods - mainly clothes and food - to local organizations as well. A good way to keep track of these donation is with this log.

And with two kids that grow like weeds, I never have a shortage of clothes that could use a good home.

Since we claim these donations on our taxes, it is important to keep track of the amount as well as the receipts. The log helps to keep all the information in one place so I won't will be less likely to lose any paperwork. 

This log allows you to see the date of the donation, the organization, the value and description of the donation, as well as receipt received. 

Tomorrow I discuss my safe deposit box log.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

New Budget Worksheet - Daily Expense Log

This is the third post in a series on the new budget worksheets I have created that will soon be available in my Etsy Shop.

I have a confession to make; despite my actual job where I track money for a living, I am notoriously shitty tracking our family money. Or I was. I designed all these budget worksheets as a way to get my family's shit together and get out of debt. 

One of the biggest ways I found to lose track of money was to buy a bunch of little shit everyday. By keeping the totals within a cup of coffee range, it was easy to forget just what you spent. But that money adds up quicker than a hookers and blow habit. If you don't keep track of it, soon all your money could be gone.

So I designed this as a way to help keep track of all those little expenses. While I know the big bills monthly bills by due date, it was easy to gloss over the gas station trips or the beer runs.

You might not have enough daily expenses to fill out an entire sheet. If so, feel free to combine several days on to one sheet. The best way to keep on top of every penny is to sit down at the end of the night and fill this out. If you keep your receipts, it should be easy. Even if you don't keep your receipts, you should be able to log on to your bank's website and track your expenses there as well.

Once you get in the habit of reviewing your expenses (and income, hopefully!!) daily, you can see where your money goes daily.

Coming up tomorrow, I will go over tracking donations.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Budget Worksheet - Online Bill Pay Checklist

This is the second post in a series on the new budget worksheets I have created that will soon be available in my Etsy Shop.

I talked here about how I handle bill paying. It's a weekly process where I balance the books, write the checks and pay the bills online. Like most people, I imagine, a good portion of these bills are paid online. A good way to track all that is to use this tracker.

The tracker has spaces for the date the bill was paid, the bill, how it was paid (bank online bill pay vs company website), the amount, the reference/confirmation number and a spot for reconciliation.  

For me, the best feature of this tracker is the reference/confirmation number. Most of the time, I don't bother to print the confirmation page to help save the environment. Besides, most of the time I get a confirmation email anyway with the information included. But, my inbox is a hot fucking mess. I have 1000+ UNREAD emails in my primary email inbox alone. Shit. So having this tracker keeps me from having to sort through the piles of emails in my inbox.

If you have a lot of accounts that you pay online, you can use one sheet per account. Or if you are like me, you would save paper and use one sheet for the entire year. It might end up being two sheets at the end of the year, but that's okay.

Tomorrow I cover how to keep track of daily expenses.

Monster Birthday Bash! The Good Son turns ONE!

This post will be photo heavy, so excuse me as I slip into my attention whore panties.

I have had the pleasure of throwing four fabulous birthday parties for The Good Daughter, and I discover every time that I both love and hate it.

As an anal retentive, can't-see-the-forrest-for-the-trees type of person, I get caught up in the little things and love to make sure everything is matchy, matchy, fits the theme. And as a perfectionist, I kill myself to make everything as perfect as humanly possible, all while knowing I will never, ever get it the way I want.

But this year I was able to relax and enjoy everything. The meds must have kicked in. The theme for this year was Little Cute Monsters, since that's what The Good Son basically is.

I decorated the house with my standard door decor, pom poms and streamers.

We had a bounce house for the kids, as well as a wading pool and a monster can toss.

I continued the monster theme with cutouts for the tent and balloons in the party colors.

Pom Pom Monsters decorated the house.

As for the food, we had chips and dip, veggie pizza, fruit and dip, sandwiches, mac and cheese and deviled eggs.

I got cutesy as fuck with the theme and made eyeball toothpicks for the fruit tray. 

And made a monster box to hold the forks.

I also made a monster cake that featured eyeball cake pops. And try as I might, it was far from perfect.

TGS got his own smash cake.

I made monster treat bags for all the kids.

Each bad contained a monster sticker sheet, monster bouncy ball, monster duck and monster magnet craft.

The kids also got to adopt a monster plush.

 TGS was skeptical at first, unsure about the whole gift thing.

But soon enough, he warmed up to the idea.

Once we started to sing "Happy Birthday" to him, he was downright thrilled. 

And then cake happened.  

Overall it was an amazing day. All of the older kids were able to play on the swing set and in the bounce house and in the wading pools. The weather wasn't hot as fuck. Everyone was able to fill up on sugar and food and Holden felt the love of his amazing family.

Happy Birthday my little monster!!

~supply list~
Invitation: designed by me with clipart from Cloud Street Lab on Etsy
Decorations, food, cake and treat bags: made by me, inspired by Pinterest
Treat bag contents and plush monsters: Oriental Trading Co.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Budget Worksheet - Bill Tracker and Checklist

This is the first post in a series on the new budget worksheets I have created that will soon be available in my Etsy Shop.

Why budget worksheets, you might ask?

Well, because money management seems to be a lost art, something that most people don't really do - like cook or sew. My folks never once taught me about money management. In fact, my mom told me when I got my first paycheck and then spent it all at the mall, that "You make money to spend money." O.o Thanks Mom.

So a basic lack of planning and knowledge about money seems to be universal or at least among everyone I know. Add to the fact that while I was pregnant with The Good Daughter, The Good Husband was laid off. We were having a house built and a baby on the way and started to live on credit cards. Then TGH got a job, we moved in and TGD was born and we NEEDED all the new and shiny baby things and house things and everything else. Then we had to pay for daycare and then OOPS!! along comes The Good Son. Everything seemed to get out of control.

At the beginning of the year, we sat down and had a come to Jesus about our money. When it was coming in, where it was going out and how the fuck to get out of debt. We decided to do a debt snowball to be debt free within a few years. So I wanted different ways to track all our money and I created all the following worksheets. 

We begin the series with a spin off of two a popular budget worksheets, the bill tracker and the bill checklist. Currently, each serves a specific and useful purpose. And both kick ass while doing it. 

But sometimes concise is best, so I designed this worksheet as a way to combine both the bill tracker and the checklist. 

Here you can track each expense, the date they are due, the amount you paid each month and a handy checkbox to mark that bad boy off once you have paid. There is also space available for notes. 

The Good Husband and I plan to be debt free, with the help of these worksheets, in about 21 months. It sucks in the meantime but when we get to the end, it will be worth it to only have the house payment. Then we can save for the kids' college and I won't have to worry about TGD owing a pair of clear heels.

Come back tomorrow, when I will cover online bill paying.

Monday, July 15, 2013

New Budget Worksheets!

Welcome to my series of posts highlighting the new budget printables that will soon be are NOW available in my Etsy shop

Over the next week I will highlight seven NEW printables to help you stay on top of your finances. These include:
~Bill Tracker and Checklist
~Online Bill Pay Checklist
~Daily Expense Log
~Donation Log
~Safe Deposit Box Log
~Checkbook Registers
~Finance Calendar 

I will review each one, tell you how awesome and great they are and even get you a discount code to use in my Etsy shop


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sunny Summer Sunday Salad

b/c I love alliteration

This is another "Thanks Pinterest!" recipe I found. In the summer I hate to cook. I would just rather drink my dinner but I have two kids that need actual food. So I try and do as many stove free dinners that I can. This is a new one I found.

At first, I wasn't sure how good this would be. Avocado with fruit? That seems weird. Cilantro with honey? Ummmm, I don't know. But I bit the bullet and tried it and it was AH-MAZE-ING! The Good Son ate all my blueberries and The Good Daughter ate all the strawberries but I was able to stab their little hands back while I ate some. 

It was a light, refreshing dinner that would be great with a glass of sparkling lemonade. So, so yummy.

1 cup strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Italian dressing
Dash of lemon pepper
Pinch of salt

~Arrange strawberries, blueberries and avocado on a plate.

~Combine the remaining ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour over fruit and toss to coat. Enjoy!

recipe modified from: Chocolate Chips and Glue Sticks

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rainbow Layer Cake

While I might have had some awesome cookies for The Good Daughter's birthday, the star of the party was this six layer birthday cake. Six layers. Two different types of frostings.

Clearly, with that 17 inch layer of frostingS on the top, I was just trying to kill my family.

By far, the best part was seeing Abby's face light up when I cut into the cake. She kept jumping up and down and screaming about rainbows and that was before all the red food dye worked its evil magic on her. 

I found a recipe for a rainbow cake that used natural food dyes, but fuck that shit. Bring on the artificial color and bug shells. 

The funny thing is, when I was frosting the cake, I kept worrying I wasn't getting *enough* on the top or the sides. I didn't know until I cut in to this bad boy that I actually had a foot of frosting on the cake.

WHITE CAKE {Courtesy of Cooking Light}: 
3 1/2 cups flour 
2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1 3/4 cups sugar 
1/4 cup butter 
1 1/2 Tbsp oil 
2 egg whites 
1 2/3 cups milk, divided 
1/2 cup plain, fat-free yogurt, I used vanilla flavor
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
Wilton Food Gels

3 3/4 cups powdered sugar 
1/2 cup butter, softened 
1 tsp vanilla 
3 Tbsp milk 

2 cups heavy cream 
1/4 cup powdered sugar 
1/8 tsp salt 
1 tsp vanilla extract

~Cream the butter, oil and sugar. Add the egg whites and beat well. Add the vanilla, 1 cup milk and yogurt alternately with the flour, baking powder and baking soda.

~Pour six 1/2-cup portions of cake batter into separate bowls. Mix the food dye or gels, adding a small amount until the desired color is reached. I used a toothpick dipped into each color two or three times before reaching the desired color.

~Pour each 1/2 cup colored batter into a greased and floured 5 1/2-inch cake pan.

~Bake the cakes at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.

~Let the cakes cool for five minutes in the pan and then gently slide a knife around the edges and invert the cakes on a wire rack to cool completely.

~Mix the ingredients and beat for several minutes until a smooth, creamy frosting forms.

~Adjust the consistency by adding more powdered sugar or milk. 

~Beat the cream, sugar and salt at medium speed until stiff peaks form. NOTE: Chilling both the bowl and the beaters in the fridge for 30 minutes before hand makes the peaks form quicker.

~Fold in the vanilla extract. 

~Assemble the cake once the layers have completely cooled.

~Place the purple layer on the serving cake platter.

~Spread a couple of spoonfuls of buttercream frosting over the top of the layer, smoothing it until it is even.

~Place the blue layer on top and repeat the process until the red layer is on top.

~If necessary, insert four wooden skewers into the cake at 12, 6, 3 and 9 position on a clock to prevent the layers from moving. 

~If finishing with the whipped cream frosting immediately, place cake in the freezer for five minutes to let the icing set. If finishing the next day, place the cake in the fridge overnight.

~Using a knife, generously coat the top and sides of the cake with buttercream frosting, smoothing it with a spatula, making sure that it is completely covered.

~Top cake with whipped cream frosting, careful to get the sides and the top even.

recipe by: Kelesy, found on Hostess with the Mostess  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rainbow Cut Out Cookies

There were so many cute rainbow cookies I found while planning The Good Daughter's birthday. So many cookies that I thought I could just totally decorate in that professional way too.

Huge wake up call for me, despite making pretty cookies once or twice, I totally suck in the years it has been since. And I should know better, perfectionist I am, that I will never, ever be happy with anything I create.

I think the difference this time was I used meringue powder this time in the royal icing instead of egg whites and I guess meringue is a bitch. I did not know that about her.

But the cookies were semi pretty and tasted really good. I was able to beg the recipe from a baker friend. All credit is hers.

3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla.

~Whisk together dry ingredients. 

~Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg until well blended. Add vanilla and slowly add in the dry ingredients.

~Roll out and bake at 375 for about 14-16 minutes, depending on the size. Decorate once cooled.

NOTE: I used a drinking cup to cut circles out of the dough and then cut those in half. 

recipe: by Lauren