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Monday, December 31, 2012

And Then I Knew it Would Be Good

     About two months ago, Tim and I had the privilege of being invited to a wedding** in a very large, very old (read: very gorgeous) Catholic church.  We sat very quietly for a few minutes, waiting for the ceremony to begin, and I started doing that Sinking Into The Pews Thing I sometimes like to do.

Sometimes, I like need church because it just gives me time to think.

About Jesus and how much He loves me.

About how much I love Cincinnati and am so thankful for the call to Stay.

About all those "I knew it would be good....things."

For example, I knew Aunthood would be good....but I didn't know it would be this good.

For me, those things are Marriage, and Lucy, and dog-ownership.

When God is this good to us, why do we angst over the idea that He's going to give us anything less?

Love and I don't know either.

What are some of your "I knew it would be good...things?"

**The bride & groom love The Reds....and the wedding was baseball-themed.  It was one of the best receptions, but- being the photographer that I am (Read: am NOT), none of my pictures turned out super-great.  Use your imagination!

Friday, December 28, 2012

But first, this.

I am trying to do a Much Better Job of Listening to My Soul.  I have stifled it for far too many years.  The Stifling has resulted in everything from over-eating to under-eating to anxiety to an I-can't-put-my-finger-on-it sort of discontent at various times.

For months, I thought my soul was saying, "Baby."

But then, on a whim, Tim ordered a ukelele for me.  I know roughly 4 chords, but the second my fingers hit those strings, a sense of peace and contentment fills my heart in a way I can't explain.

Perhaps it was my head- looking at the calendar- and realizing that the number of rings on my tree wasn't getting any shorter- that was saying, "Baby."

And all the while, my soul and my heart were shouting,

 "Music.  Make Music."

So, music is what we shall make.

For now.

Love and his name is Eddy Finn,

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cut your Grocery Bill by 1/4 (at least!) with one piece of paper.

     Originally, I just cooked up this plan to save time at the grocery store.  I had no idea that it would also help save us money in the end- Hooray for new-on-top-of-new-ideas. 

I hope it helps you, too! 

     First and foremost, I started my "plan" by making a chart that I wanted to use for a grocery list according to the lay-out of our nearby Kroger Grocery store.  When you enter our store, produce is to the right- meat, on the back wall, etc.  

    After printing it as a word document, I write my meal plan on the far right rectangle (the one with no label).  As I write a meal down, I then divvy out the ingredients I need onto the list (if I don't already have them at home).

     Next, I write the estimated price next to each item.  I try to account for tax, things that are NOT on sale, etc.  I also try to over-estimate the price by about 50 cents, just in case. 

In other words, I round up.  

     Then, I add up each category (produce, meat, canned goods, etc.) and put it in the corner of the "aisle box" (so if I'm spending 10 dollars on produce, I put a number 10 in the bottom right-hand corner of the produce box).  Then, I add up my estimated total and write it on the lower right-hand corner of the page.  

      As I'm shopping, I try to take a different-colored pen with me to mark down "real" prices.  I also continue to check the estimated prices.  If it is something I have under-estimated in terms of price- I usually don't buy it if I don't absolutely need it. 

      For example- if I mistakenly think hummus will be on sale that week, but it's regularly priced, I will probably skip it. No big deal.  

     However, sometimes- the stars align and I undershoot many items.  Then I spring for the hummus, avocados and expensive creamer...cause that's just how we roll.

      Finally, I add everything up and see how well it matches.  I might be way off occasionally, but as long as I'm under the $100 budget, I don't stress too much.

Below, is a list I've recently used.  The items I needed/meals I planned to fix are in blue.  The accurate prices are in orange.  This week's list was SUPER short because of the holidays.  I already had a lot in the stock (like the tilapia).  Plus we've eaten with family a lot and shared leftovers.  And we may or may not have started sleeping through breakfast...

     If I know I am going to be UNDER budget (like this week- yipee!), I toss in a gift card for us to use so we have some extra room in our entertainment budget OR I go home and transfer the leftover grocery money into one of our other accounts (emergency savings, down payment for a car, travel, etc.).  

     All in all, the list saves me time because it is organized according to the lay-out of the store.  It also helps hold me accountable.  

     I enjoy the splurges because I've prepared for them.  

Also, I'm content to say "no" to certain items because I know that will free up money for other items I might encounter as I shop.  

     For example, if I skip the almost $4 hummus- but later I see that holiday coffee creamer is on sale for around $2,  I'll pick that up instead.  

Just remember to do this in moderation.  You don't want to spend $20 extra just because you said "no" to one or two items.

     Using this method, I have been able to build everything from potted mums to wrapping paper to holiday decorations into our grocery budget.

     I know it sounds like a lot of work up front, but you really will catch your stride.  I usually spend about 2 full minutes tucked away by the dairy aisle- checking over everything.  Once you start to see the savings AND see how much time it saves you, it really will motivate you to stick with it.  

     If you want a copy of my chart/list that you can edit yourself, I can email you an attachment and you can re-type your own aisles and categories in.  


What do you think of the list? Did I miss anything?  How are you going to make it work for you and your family/budget? 

Love and one dollar avocados,

Merry Christmas!

Lots of great changes to This Here Blog.

Truly the best is yet to come.
Wishing you a Merry & Bright Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Love and The Comforter has Come.
T, H, S & N.