Friday, June 29, 2012

Budgeting 101 : How I MOMage My Day to Day Expenses

I have had a TON of questions asking me to share how I organize my finances and I've been putting this post off for a while, mainly because the way I organize my finances is not necessarily a "one size fits all" kind of solution like my file planner system is. That point aside, this way of managing money is another one of those big-lightbulb-over-the-head-life-changing-sanity-saving kind of things. 

Lets first start this out with me stating this: I'm broke :) 

No seriously, we live on a very tight budget with little room for extravagance or errors. I have a REALLY hard time managing money...I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very financially comfortable home where money was never discussed and I really didn't understand that there was a "Bottom of the pot." Let me tell you what a giant shocker it was that first time I reached my own "bottom of the pot" ..... and my electricity & water got shut off....not because I was living beyond my means, but because my financial management skills were just plain awful. I had no idea how to prioritize my expenses and I would constantly talk myself in to purchasing things I didn't have money for with ridiculous justifications. When the BF and I moved in together, Money was a hot topic for us (as well as the source of our first argument) as goes the typical relationship standards: hes a saver, I'm a can see how this can be hard for someone like me who pretty much never heard the words "no." After one too many arguments about money, and one too many times of having to ask to be bailed out we decided something needed to change because these money fights were getting pretty brutal. So last year when we got our tax return in, instead of doing what we had done every other year (Take a new furniture...go on a shopping spree... basically live like kings for 6 weeks until the money ran out and we were back to living like paupers) we decided to do something different: We saved the money. By saving our tax return money we were able to completely revamp our household budget. We both wanted a feeling of control over the money so we decided the best way to split things up was for the BF to manage the Bills (Mortgage, utilities, car payments, etc) and I would Manage the day to day expenses (Groceries, Gas, Lunch money, Clothing, etc) 

This system has totally changed our outlook on money. We stopped fighting. Bills were paid on time. I felt like I had freedom to spend my money at my own discretion without having to ask permission (which would then make me feel resentment towards him) And he got to pay the bills in a timely manner and allocate the money to paying off debt however he wanted to. 

Now I'm not saying you need to have a sit down with your hubs and say "your paying all the bills and I'm keepin my paycheck" but maybe you sit down and figure out how to manage your money best...Maybe your the "saver" and you like to pay bills and your man is the one who buys groceries and fills the cars up with gas. To each their own. 

The key to making this system work is that you mustn't meddle in each others financial long as you are both upholding your end of the bargain, then how it is handled is not on the table for argument or discussion. Another key element: you have to give yourself realistic expectations. Yes I would absolutely love to feed my family of 4 on $100 every week but that's just not happening and having to keep to those kinds of boundaries full time would put a lot of unnecessary hardship on me (This is not saying that it can't be done...there was a time when I was young momma and just getting started and I remember thinking we were doin' pretty darn good if we had a full $60 to spend on groceries for the week) Take a look at your family budget and figure out just how much you want to dedicate to "day to day expenses" also decide what you consider to be "day to day expenses" Is getting the oil changed part of your money or his? What about paying for date night? TALK THESE THINGS OUT AHEAD OF TIME!!!

Once you settle on a number for the day to day expenses for a month, head to the bank....and take out that amount of money ( might not be able to do this right away, having that kind of back up cash or up front money isn't always possible, you could certainly make this system work for you if you break it down to weekly increments until you are able to grab a big windfall check around tax or bonus time) 

I always leave $40 in my bank account on the rare occasion that I have to send a $12 check to school for picture day or what not or if for some strange reason my bank decides to charge me a random fee....this is my NSF buffer money.

Then I do something silly....I tell the bank teller to give me the full amount in 20's except for $100...and to give me the $100 in $5's and $10's.............she gives me a crazy look then hands the cash over. and I'm out the door and done with my banking for the month.

Once I get home I sort out my money in another one of those silly ways...I separate the $20's in to piles of $100, then the $10s, then $5s.......After figuring out how many weeks are in this month (typically 4) I start dividing the money evenly in to 4 separate piles....placing the "remainder" money in to a 5th pile (for example, if I had $60 in $10's...I would put 1 $10 in each of the 4 piles, then the "extra" 2 $10's would go in the fifth pile...get it?) Once my money is evenly divided I count it all up. This 5th pile is my Stash....Through the month, its not to be touched unless its for an emergency...but If I can make it through the month without needing it I get to put it towards a treat :) Knowing the money is there if I need it is great for piece of mind, but its even better knowing that if I DON'T need it, I can get a new out fit or go out for an extra nice dinner at the end of the month. 

As for the 4 piles of weekly money...they get put in to individual envelopes that are placed inside each weeks planning folder.This also keeps me from spending impulsively, or digging in to next weeks money because its all the way back home.

Wanna add weekly money envelopes to your file folder planning system? Check back next week for a tutorial on how I make mine :) 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cherry Cheesecake Dip **a cross post from my old blog**

Have you ever thrown something out in to the world, only to come back a few months later and realize its kinda big time now?

have you seen this pic floating around pinterest?

yup...that grainy iphone pic was curtosy of yours truely late one evening before my daughters school pot luck. I posted it to my old blog a few months back and silly me, I forgot the log in to the email account that was attached to that blog. Lost forever in the interwebz I figured I would just sit there and watch it show up on my pintrest feed and think "HEY! That's my unmanicured hand scoopin up that yummy quick dip!" But I was finally able to get in to the blog, and redirect everyone back over here (I can't believe I'm going to say this...but this single post on that blog, was getting an average of 2000 views DAILY....gee thanks pinterest)

So for those of you who haven't yet seen it, and maybe your looking for something quick and yummy to take to a 4th of July Picnic next week I give you:

My Cherry Cheesecake Dip

that's all your going to need! Just 2 tubs of cool whip, a tub of marshmallow fluff, a softened block of cream cheese, a box of graham crackers and 2 cans of cherry pie filling...this will be enough to fill 2 8x8pans or one  8x12.

Crush one sleeve of your graham crackers and evenly distribute them in  your pans, do not pack them in to the pan. 

In a large bowl, mix your fluff, both tubs of cool whip and your cream cheese VERY don't want a big bite of fluff or cream cheese with this...the secret to this tasting just right and not taking forever to make is making sure the cream cheese is reeaaaallllllyyyy soft when you start to work with it.

Once you have everything mixed together (and you've tasted it to make sure its just right (if its a little too sweet you can add more cream cheese if you have it on hand, if its too cream chees-y add a little powedered sugar, but keep in mind the cherries will add another level of flavor) Take a clean spoon or spatula and GENTLY spread these in to the pans, work from the inside out, making sure you are spreading large amounts of filling at a time. Take your time with this step, otherwise your going to end up mixing your cracker crumbs in to your filling.

Next empty a full can of cherry pie preserves on to each dish and your all done! Break your leftover crackers up in to fourths and start dippin!

This is one of my tried and true, go to dishes...You can take it to a brunch or a birthday party or teacher luncheon! its super yummy, so easy, and it keeps well in the fridge for 2 days so you can make it ahead of time if you have a big event coming up! 

Another MOMager approved dish for sure! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

My organized Craft Storage

I'll be the first to admit that I don't craft nearly as much as I would like to. But there are certain times of the year (Christmas, My girls bdays & Cheer Season) that I find myself stocking up on paint, glitter and other craft accessories. Over time my little collection has been stored in many different closets, in under bed containers, in 500 different small plastic bins...I've tried quite a few different solutions, but last year I finally found something that worked.

In the office of my cute little rental I had a small IKEA Malm dresser in my office that I used to hold all of my craft supplies, everything was easily accesible, the drawers were large enough to hold most of my supplies and the piece worked well as another flat surface to use when crafting (if your a crafter, you know the llittle dance you do when you are trying to find a space to allow your works to dry or cure without invading your current work space)

So when we moved here, and my oldest daughter said she would rather use a cube style dresser than her standard white one, I decided I would take over her white one and use it for my crafts again. Lets go for a little tour of the drawers shall we :)

The top drawer holds all the messy stuff...its out of my 2 year olds reach for very very good reason :) in here I have my paints (seperated by fabric or craft...the ones that are laying on their side are small cans of spray glitter) these are stored in an IKEA fabric drawer can buy these in packs of 10 and they come in various sizes, the largest bin in the set is being used to hold my paints in this picture. to the right I have my stamping supplies, fabric flowers, pony beeds, small craft accesories (brads and gem stones) as well as all of my glitter...this storage box came from target a couple years ago, unfortunatly I don't know what brand it is and I'm not even posititve if its still in production, I bought this and the "mini dresser" on top of my craft dresser on clearance. I used the open space to hold rolls of tape and vinyl.

The next drawer is a bit difficult to see, but this gives you a better idea of the cloth organizing cubes..the back left cube is holding all of my "cheer crafts" ( needs its own bin lol) to the right of that is my cricut things, and then on the far right is all of my liquid adhesives (modge podge, spray adhesive, tacky glue, etc) the front left bin holds all of my glue guns and sticks and next to that is a box holding "projects in progress" (I know I'm not the only one with a half finished project or 10 laying around the house)

 The third and forth drawer hold my fabric, sewing notions, trim, ribbon and spools of tulle....I'm not really big in to sewing (i'm a "straight line seamstress" if you know what I mean) but there was a time many moons ago that I had a craft fair booth at a local trade fair and i sold tutus, hairbows, and little girls boutique style clothes. a lot of this is run off from those days. 
And lastly, my bottom drawer holds some fiberfill bags, sewing paterns, and large pieces of fabric that I used for backings of big sewing projects.

My craft table has all of my machines plugged in and ready for use, that is a Xyron on the left, my cricut and my sewing machine....nothing fancy. and like I said earlier, all of my scrapbooking stuff is stowed in that green rolling tote under the desk, I am still in search of the "right way" to organize all of that stuff. 

My last little box is the small white box on top of my filing cabinet...I bought this at target along with the other two white organizing boxes. this holds all of my tapes, glue sticks, extra blades, and small crafting tools. 

I'm dreaming up solutions for my scrappin' stuff as we speak...I've taken on the GIANT task of putting together my daughters school scrapbook for next year so I am going to need all of that stuff to be well organized and easily accessible. Can't wait to show y'all what I come up with :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The MOMager Cooks! Crock Pot Chicken Fajita Burritos and Cheesy Mexican Rice

I am a Texas girl through and through. So aside from sweet tea, big steaks, and good BBQ, I absolutely L.O.V.E good Mexican Food. 

Now let me clarify...What I actually love is good TEX-MEX. Like enchiladas and tacos and queso and refried beans and fajitas and all that lard laden, deep fried, gooey, melty, bad for you goodness.

If its ever left up to me to pick where we are going for dinner, I can assure you, I'm going to pick Mexican food. (if you are ever in the DFW area and are in search of some darn good texmex food...hit me up and I'll point you in the right directions!)

Well when I came across these pins on Pinterest:



I just knew I had to give them a try! 

I made a couple changes to her recipe since I knew I was going to be making burritos so I wanted this to be a very moist meat. I added more chicken broth, more onions & a small can of diced green chilies 
after it cooked on high for about 4 hours I removed it from the crockpot and shredded the meat, once it was sheredded, I added a little more of the cooking liquid to the meat mixture for added flavor and moisture. 
While the chicken finished up, I made the cheesy mexican rice (I followed that recipe to a tee) 

I laid out all of my favorite burrito fixins: Tortillas (I really wished I would have had some fresh bought just doesn't do it for me) Cilantro, Pico de gallo, Guacamole (excuse the big bite out of the guac...dinner was running a little late and momma was hungry LOL) extra lime juice, tortilla chips for snacking and some shredded cheese. (I also had some sour cream but I forgot to put it out with the other stuff)

After heating the tortillas under a moist paper towel in the microwave for about 45 seconds I started adding all the goodies to this monster burrito...I even decided to throw the cheesy Mexican rice in to the mix. then with a final sprinkle of cheese and cilantro it was ready to eat!

It was SO good. and VERY filling (the boyfriend and I both agreed that we should have made smaller burritos since we couldn't finish a whole one) The only change I would make next time is to put a little less rotel in to the rice and add some corn (traditional texmex style rice typically has corn in it) and I would have liked some boracho beans either inside the burrito or atleast on the side.

Other than that, it was a winner! The chicken recipe is a keeper for sure, I'm not one to pick chicken when it comes to mexican fair, but this stuff was gooooood. Next time I might even add about half a bottle of mexican beer to the crock pot for another layer of flavor.

Either way. I call this recipe, MOMager Approved :) 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My New Office!

If you follow me on Facebook you would have noticed that I made a spur of the moment decision on Friday to paint my office :) The BF is home on Fridays and the big girl was at Vacation Bible School still so I figured it would be a perfect time for a little project!

Remember this space: 

Office Before
My "Momma's Always Last" hodge podge of an office?

Well Now it looks like this:
My new office!

Swoon. Gasp. Flutter. Love. 

Ugh. Seriously I'm in big time love with it. This is the one space in the whole house that gets to be M.I.N.E. Nobody else has a say on how it looks or the way its laid out. its all mine and I'm simply in awe of it. Now granted, we are only about 75% done...there are a few finishing touches to be done such as:

- Window Treatments
- New Lighting
- Cord coverage for the front of the desk (see those little white squares? I used to have a piece of material velcroed to the edge of the desk as a sort of "skirt" to keep from seeing the cord cluster...I'm sure I will do something similar to that again.)
-Get my Scrapbooking stuff organized (its all crammed in to that lime green rolling tote shoved under my craft desk right now)
-Make some kind of inspirational quote or wording for the wall above my desk

But for now...its very much so workable :) Wanna see how we did it? 
Valspar Urban Sunrise, Valspar Vintage Grey, Valspar Woodsmoke

After taping off the room and putting some tarps down, I painted some swatches on the wall to figure out exactly which shade of grey was going to work in this room. Now here are some words of wisdom: Grey is the new "in" color...and I have painted many a room many a shades of grey and my biggest piece of advice is to ALWAYS paint a test swatch in your room to see what the color is going to look like on your wall. I don't care if it looks like perfect silver grey in the might get home and see a lavender-y/smoke color...I don't care if your neighbor just painted her walls the perfect slate color, it might turn in to cinder block grey for you. TEST. TEST. TEST. and save yourself the trouble of having to repaint. Grey shades have a lot of different undertones, most of which are blue, green or purple...but some can come out with a brown undertone as well. Don't trust your swatch, trust your eye, in your home with the swatch on the wall at the time of day that the room will be utilized the most.

Next I employed The Green Lantern  my extremely cute nerdy bf to remove that hideous chandelier that I have hit my head on no fewer than 20 times. We temporarily replaced this with a small, builder grade light that we had on hand from switching out some of the hallway fixtures...once I find the perfect light piece i'll let you know :) 

Then I put on my grungy clothes and got to painting! While I was working on rolling the walls, the bf was on my tail doing the edging and trim work (he has a much steadier hand than me) 

Then he pulled down those TERRIBLE motel style hanging blinds. and patched the big holes.

And we were all done! we spent the rest of the weekend moving the furniture back in and sorting out all the junk that was inhabiting the space and giving new homes to all my crafty things.

My Desk (its from IKEA) 

This desk packs a big time storage punch. with 8 large cubbies (4 of which are under the desk) even "hopelessly disorganized" people can follow the rule of putting similar items in to the same cubby!

My craft dresser

Directly behind my desk is a dresser that I stole from my older daughters room after the now houses my craft and sewing supplies. I'll take you on a tour of the drawers later this week! On top of the dresser is my mini dresser that holds scrapbooking stickers, a magazine file folder that has all of my blank label pages and my paper cutter and 2 hole punch. These are on here because that height is perfect for me to slice and punch things without having to bend or stoop. above the dresser is my supply grid that has some scrapbooking tools and my cricut mats and then my big rod & bucket system that is full of my pens....I have a strange love for pens :)

My Sewing table

This table and chair are OLD. As in...from my parents house when I was a kid old....they have been through all 9 of my moves, painted about 5 times and just generally beaten and loved. This is my surface that I don't mind when it gets paint stains or sticky spots from glue. Its a crafting table and is meant to be  used as such.
My New Command Center

Ok I'm not going to go in to too much detail about this because I have a bunch of big huge posts coming up about it later this week. But OMG. if I could have only had one tiny space in my hole house, and it was this. I would have been satisfied. This is like 6 sq feet of heaven for me. its still a work in progress and I can't wait to show you the afters. :)

Momma might always come last, but sometimes you have to save the best for last :) 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Open for Business! The MOMager Shop is back in Business!

After learning a couple lessons, and making some adjustments I am happy to say The MOMager Shop is re-open!!!! 

I am working on adding new listings for the fall seasonal planners and I have a super cool Summer kit I am excited to share with y'all very soon :)
(The Daily Sheet)

(The Menu Planner)

Come check the shop out! Its got all of the printables available for purchase and 2 awesome bundles to get you started on your very own MOMager File Box System! 
(The Week at a Glance)
(The Weekly Checklist)

Want a custom system? No prob! I am happy to help with custom purchases with a minimal upcharge!
(The Monthly Goal Sheet)

(The Monthly Calendar) 

Happy Shopping :) 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm dreaming of a pretty flower bed: Front Yard Landscaping Plans

I have a lot of natural talents that are generally considered to be "domestic" ................. however, there are two things that I have ALWAYS failed miserably at: Baking & Gardening. If Duncan Hines doesn't walk me through half the process I can assure you that you will end up eating something that resembles a kitchen sponge in both taste and texture....and there isn't a hint of green in my thumbs.


That being said, I knew that I was in for a challenge when a storm blew in a couple weeks and shredded one of our trees. I had NO clue how to remove a tree...not to mention I was kinda icked out by what creepy crawlys could be living in the ground around said I called a pro :) 


YardPro if you will ... A good family friend of ours runs a wonderful landscaping company in my area and he came by and told us exactly what we needed to do. Because we are newbie homeowners, we are lacking when it comes to lawn equipment so the YardPro crew came by the next morning and did the dirty work for us. We also decided to take that time to do some big time clean up on our landscaping. 

We got rid of the big lollipop Holly tree in the front, trimmed all of the hedges and had new mulch laid.


That made a HUGE difference.


We are no longer totally intimidated by the task of making our flower beds pretty! As a matter of fact, we are planning on adding our first little DIY touches to the house this weekend in the form of some pretty flowers and sweet potato vine, just to brighten things up.


The lesson learned here: Know your limits. After seeing the huge mess (as well as the huge axes and saws) the YardPro crew had to clean up after removing the two trees and trimming the bushes...I know that I made the right choice not to try to DIY that project. Its just not something that I feel is in my realm of knowledge. Not to mention, I never could have made it look that good. :) So when starting a new home project, if there is something that is particularly overwhelming, don't let your DIY pride get in the way of asking for help when you need it. 


Whats next for the front yard you ask?

- Remove the metal border
- Put in a raised stone border
- Plant some new hedges along the windows
- Plant Crepe Myrtle Trees on both sides of the house
- Plant some seasonal flowers in the front points near the entry for color
- Plant 2 large trees in the yard that will eventually grow in to shade trees (this probably won't happen until next spring, Texas summers are brutal when it comes to trying to make new things take root and grow)
- Install flood lighting 
- Paint the Front door
- Change out all the hardware on the front door and the screen door
- Get a new Welcome mat
- Find some seating and a small table for the front yard so we can enjoy visiting with neighbors while the kids play 
- Change out the light fixture
- Change the house number display

There ya go! Our first DIY project list! I can't wait to get to work and show you the progress as we go! And don't forget that we have a disaster of a back yard as well :) we have HUGE plans for the ugly deck and hot tub, I'll update you all on that sometime next week!

Are you in the DFW Metroplex? Check out YardPro for all your landscaping needs!

(I was not compensated for by YardPro for this post, all opinions are from my personal experience)