Monday, August 28, 2017

Money Saving Monday: Life After a Terminal Degree

I was so blessed to have gone through my undergraduate and graduate degrees without the need for student loans and the accompanying debt.  However, I was not as fortunate when it came to my Ed.D. I took out loans to finance my degree and now it's time to pay up. The amount of debt incurred to make my dream a reality is sobering.  I could buy a small house with the amount of student loan money I owe.  Or go on a really amazing vacation.  Regardless of the amount, I need to pay it back.  The sooner the better.

I come from a long line of thrifty folks.  I enjoy finding a bargain and saving money.  I also LOVE thrift stores.  I'm not going to lie - some of the stuff that people donate belongs in a trash pile.  But a lot of good, usable stuff goes to thrift stores and I am happy to give some of those items a new home. My favorite day to shop at our local Goodwill is on Sunday.  That's when their clothes and sundries are $.99 for a certain "string" color.  On my most recent trip the items with blue strings were on sale.  I shopped ONLY for items with that color.  This allowed me to focus on what I was buying instead of being overwhelmed.  I was able to purchase all of the items below for less than $15.00!

Cleo did not want to get off the unmade bed for this very high end photo shoot.  Since she's cute, I let her stay. ;-)
Clothing was the big item of the day.  I have been using a lot of black and white in my wardrobe since returning to work a couple of weeks ago and I have been loving it!  It requires minimal effort on my part when it comes to deciding what to wear and I can use accessories to dress up a look.  The first item I purchased was this Jones New York blouse.  It was a bit large on me but I thought it would look nice as a jacket over a tank with a pair of black or white jeans.
Jones New York blouse $0.99!
The next item I went back and forth on before finally making the decision to buy it. It's a polyester jersey fabric and I wasn't sure how the fabric would look on my middle aged body but I'm glad I bought it!  I can't remember the brand (and I'm too lazy to go look at the tag) but I know it is a Walmart brand.  I loved the red mixed in with the black, white, and gray so I put it in my cart.

I think the brand is George. Again, $0.99!

While the first two items I purchased are for fall, this one is perfect for the heat of August and September in Virginia.  And it has polka dots.  I love polka dots.

White blouse with black polka dots Venezia brand $0.99!
The sweater I purchased will not win any fashion awards, but when I tried it on in the store I knew I had to have it.  I could see myself curled up with a hot cup of coffee on a cold day all snuggly in this dark green sweater from L.L. Bean.  This is one of my favorite brands because of the classic pieces and durability.  So when I found this with a $0.99 tag on it I snatched it right up!

L.L. Bean Cardigan $0.99

The last clothing item I purchased for myself was a pair of pajamas. I am trying to wear actual pajamas instead of a 25 year old college t-shirt with holes in it and threadbare leggings so that The Hubs still finds me somewhat attractive.  Granted these pjs won't get his blood pumping but I figured they are better that the holey t-shirt. Right? They are also really thick so they will be nice and warm this winter.

Jockey Pajamas BOTH pieces $0.99 (that's less than $0.50 for each piece!)
Now I simply cannot go thrifting without looking at cute stuff for Babycakes and my recent trip did not go without something cute for her closet too.  My first find was her Christmas dress.  This is the time of year that I start looking because no one else is even thinking about those cute pictures of their littles with Santa in August.  Except me.  I love and treasure our visits to Santa each year.  And I love searching for "the dress" that will grace our picture for years to come.  I also realize I have a six-year-old daughter and that life is messy. So I don't want to spend $50 on a dress that she spills paint on and is ruined.  Nor do I want her constantly worrying that mommy and/or daddy will be mad if she ruins an outfit.  So when I found this little red corduroy jumper from Ralph Lauren (with the tags still on it!!!) into my shopping cart it went!

Ralph Lauren jumper $0.99
The other dress I purchased for Babycakes was one I debated on for a while.  It's a black velvet jumper with a sequin swirl pattern.  I couldn't decide if black was appropriate for a little girl.  Then I pictured her in it with a white turtleneck, white tights and black patent leather Mary Janes and into the cart it went!
The Children's Place $0.99
The last piece of clothing I purchased was a pair of capri pants.  I wasn't sure Babycakes would like them, but I have a niece who is two years younger and could grow into them.  Babycakes tried them on and into the basket for her cousin they went.  They were cute pants, but they didn't "feel good."  I am not fighting that battle.  But here they are in all of their cuteness.
Kid's Capri's $0.99
The last few things were not included in the $0.99 sale but were things that I wanted needed.  I have been searching for a set of speakers for my computer at work.  I didn't want to spend a ton of money on them, but I really needed them to show videos to my students (Kid President anyone?).  I finally found this set, still in the box for $2.59. I tested them out this week and they work perfectly!

Picture frames are some of the best things you can buy at thrift stores.  My mom had gotten Babycakes a horse picture for her room, but I had yet to find a frame.  I found this oak beauty for $0.59 and it looks great in her room!


The last thing I picked up was this caddy.  I have plans for it, so hopefully I can get myself together and get my craft on one night.  I loved the setup of this little caddy for outgoing bills and mail.

Mail Caddy $1.99
And that, my friends is a thrift haul! As you can see from the receipt below all of this was less than $15.00!
I will say that I was shopping by myself this day.  I could never do this with The Hubs or Babycakes along.  They are both waaay to impatient to wait on me while I dig through the racks.  I enjoy the process so it's more like a hobby than a chore.  How about you? Do you enjoy thrifting?  Leave me a message in the comments about your favorite thrift store find!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Wilted Acres Update

The other day I sat down and did a massive Brain Dump at work.  I had what felt like a million thoughts racing around in my brain and I could not focus on all of the things that I needed to finish. So I sat down and made two lists - one for work and one for home.  The one for work was massive - but not shocking.  The one for home surprised me. In dumping out my thoughts I realized how much I miss blogging.  It's my journal. It's my outlet, and I miss writing.  I don't know if anyone reads what I write, but I enjoy looking back at my old posts.  I wrote a post back in February that I honestly have no memory of writing.

In my defense, I have had a terrible time uploading pictures from my iPhone to my computer.  And who wants to read a blogpost with no pictures?  It wasn't until The Hubs took Babycakes out for a couple of hours this morning that I took the time to figure out the problem (user error).  So here I am.

Babycakes isn't a baby anymore.  She is now a big bad FIRST GRADER!!!


I am in the midst of year 20 as a proud public school teacher!


I have finished the requirements that I needed to add school administration to my state teaching license.  All I need to do now is submit the necessary paperwork.  I plan on looking seriously for administrative positions for the 2018-2019 school year.  But for now, I am enjoying my work in the classroom as I teach my sweet group of 6th graders!

The Hubs has also joined the Dark Side  middle school education.  He is in a neighboring county on the other side of the mountain teaching agriculture.  This will be year 24 for him!




On July 4th of this year, Hubs and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary!  It was the first time we had been out to celebrate in several years so we lived it up by enjoying a dinner at Red Lobster. That's fancy eating here in rural America! (LOL!)


So between being a wife, a mom, a student, and a teacher things have been a little crazy around here. Now that I have figured out my phone (Praise the Lord for Google!) it is my hope that I can begin a regular blogging "schedule."  

Until next time! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I'm Not Dead!

One Year, Six Months, and Nineteen Days.
81 Weeks and Two Days.
569 Days.
13,656 hours (give or take).

Regardless of how you break it down, I have been absent from my blog for a REALLY long time.

I didn't plan it.

I don't have an excuse, but I do have an explanation.

After I completed the requirements for my doctorate I was in a funk.  Nothing felt quite right.  I felt like an overeducated, underpaid, special education teacher. I started to pursue my endorsement in school administration.  Then I quit.

Then I realized I couldn't apply for any of the jobs I was interested in without an endorsement in school administration. So I took the rest of the classes. I continued my learning - reading, writing papers - the exhaustion continued.

It wasn't until I contacted the graduate librarian at my university about an unrelated question that I realized what was wrong with me. Postdoc Depression.  I doubt that you'll find that in the DSM-V, but for me it has been very real.  I achieved something that I have wanted since I was about 10 years old. I should be happy. Proud.  And I am, but (you knew there would be a but) what do I do now?

I celebrate this...
At my Hooding Ceremony with my younger brother and sister. (Yep, I'm the oldest!)
And I remember the important things...


My AMAZING Family!
Yes, I am a Doctor of Education. But the most important titles I hold are Wife and Mommy.  I can't forget that.  Being a woman is tough business.  It hasn't even been 100 years since we have been given the right to vote.  Women with families have only entered the workforce during my lifetime.  There are no instructions.  There are no rules.  We have to make it up as we go along.

So right now, I am working everyday to be the best mom, special education teacher, and wife that I can be.  Sometimes  Often, my role as wife takes a back seat to my other roles, and that is not something I am proud of.  But it's true.  

I often think of my now 95 year old grandmother and the choices she had at my age.  By this point she had six children who ranged in age from (around) 20 years old to an infant.  My grandfather had a good job as an accountant, but what options did grandma have?  I'm not sure daycare centers were even available in the early 1960s.  I try and remember that I am doing things many women have not done before.  There are no instructions, no hard and fast guidelines on how to "have it all."  

I have what I want.  


And this, for now, is enough.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Where I've Been and Where This Blog Is Heading

Wow. Three months since my last post. I shouldn't be surprised as that seems to be normal for me, but I don't like my sporadic posting schedule. (If you can even call it a schedule!)  I'll get to my ideas for this blog in a minute, but first, I want to update you all on where I've been.

As most of you know I am a full time special education teacher in addition to being a wife, a mom, and a doctoral candidate. With all of the budget cuts education has faced in recent years, my workload increased significantly this past school year. From April through June I struggled to keep my head above water. Add to that the pressure to finish my dissertation and prepare for my defense on July 1 and I wasn't sure I was going to get everything finished. I will admit that I was not the ideal wife or mother. Of all the hats I wear, wife is the one that seems to be the one that has taken a back seat. The Hubs has been amazing and really patient with me as I struggle with all that needs to be done. I truly don't know where I would be without that man.

I seriously don't know where I would be without this amazing man.  I feel blessed to call him my husband!

 On July 1st I (successfully) defended my dissertation and became Dr. Wilt! Despite that brief victory I had a massive amount of corrections and revisions to make to my work so that I could resubmit for my committee's review. I can't begin to tell you how sick I am of looking at that blessed research paper. I hope to be on the tail end of finishing so that I can have my life back!

What's up doc?  Me with my amazing (and very patient) committee.


Of course, now that I have finished, I have decided that maybe school administration is where I want to be so I start more classes in the fall to add that endorsement onto my license. I'm pretty sure I've lost my mind, but I really believe this is the path I am meant to follow.

Babycakes is no longer a baby. This independent-minded little girl is now FOUR!!! I seriously feel it has gone by so quickly. She gives us a run for our money but I love spending time with this little lady.

I can't believe this kid is FOUR!!!
Now that I am wrapping up my doctoral work I want to spend more time on my blog. I've been thinking about what I should blog about (other than my awesome little family). I picked up Emily Matchar's book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity at my public library and found that I am really enjoying it. (A lot more than I expected too, actually.) I have always enjoyed what folks these days call the "domestic arts." Ever since I can remember I have enjoyed things like sewing, cooking, organizing and crafting. Some things have come with time (canning and gardening) while others have never appealed to me (spring cleaning anyone?).

Over the past couple of months years I have really let my house go. I mean, the cat actually runs from her own furballs! Not really, but it's pretty gross. I can't stand living in chaos. I feel like everything I am responsible for is in a constant state of disorganization. Oh who are we kidding? I am in a constant state of disorganization. I mean, look at this...

In my defense, I had dumped the tub to go through all of the stuff.
That dumped tub has been under my desk, waiting for me to go through the contents for at least 18 months. I can't claim time because I have plenty of time to sit on my patootie and watch YouTubers clean and organize their spaces, but heaven forbid I do anything like that here!

I also have a terrible habit of buying planners. I think I currently have 5 different "systems" I keep juggling between in an effort to get myself organized. Clearly it's not working. I miss stuff because it's written in another planner and I clearly need to focus on one and get on with it. But my planning woes are for another post.

Back to Matchar's book (blogger ADD anyone???). One chapter is about blogs that are dedicated to what the author coins, "the new domesticity" and their increasing popularity. One quote that resonated with me was this, "blogs can give emotional value to housework." Maybe that's what I need to get myself together, some sort of value on what I need to do. So I started thinking, maybe I can blog my disorganized self into a more organized life.

There are certain blogs I started following and enjoyed until they got to the point where it seemed more like a magazine than someone's actual house. While they are fun for getting ideas, I prefer blogs that are written by folks who live in REAL houses with REAL messes. I don't discredit those folks who have beautiful homes that appear to be professionally decorated. I might have a home like that too if circumstances were different. But I have different goals, dreams and a much tighter budget than some. I love me some Restoration Hardware but I don't live anywhere close to one and couldn't pay for that stuff even if I did.

So here are some of my goals for this blog...

1. Post weekly about my journey to reclaim my house from all of the junk I have accrued.
2. Admit my mistakes and failures so that you can see I am human and will (hopefully) make you feel better about making your own mistakes and helping you to move past them.
3. Provide budget friendly ideas for cleaning/organizing your homes.
4. Have FUN!

I hope you will stick around as I begin this new phase in my blog.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Small Scale Spring Cleaning

Spring is finally beginning to make an appearance here at Wilted Acres! That being said, I wanted to share a quick organizing project with you. 

We have a tv cabinet in our master bedroom where we store all of our DVDs. Babycakes loves to get in there and play or "clean."  Our TV cabinet ends up looking like this...



After a quick trip to Dollar Tree and an investment of less than $10 our tv cabinet now looks like this...


Babycakes helped me organize this and loved every second of helping me. While I know it won't last forever (the organized cabinet or my little helper) I plan on enjoying it while I can!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Time to Tighten Our Belts...

      When the hubs and I started dating in late 2004 I immediately fell in love with his house. Wood floors, oak trim, metal kitchen cabinets, old house charm. He was told it was built in 1952, but when I did a little research, I found that it had actually been build around 1946. Right after the end of WWII when the house boom was in full force. While I am not a big history buff, I find the 1940s to be one of the most interesting time periods in American history. So much change in the world and there are still people we can talk to (like my beautiful Grandma) who can remember what is was like to live in that day and age.  But I digress from the purpose of this post - belt tightening.
      Unfortunately, time and water have wrecked havoc on our little house and is now in need of some serious TLC.
Here you can see the paint peeling off of the wall. There are also some white crystals growing on the wall as a result of water filling the chambers in the cinder block of the walls. Apparently it's not harmful, just gross.

Here is an idea of the bowing the walls are encountering.

And the cracks that are going along with the bowing.

This is the worst area in the basement. It's in a corner and until the Hubs called someone in to look I had never seen it.

This REALLY shows the bowing of the walls.
      We have had several companies come in and give us their opinions on what to do. Estimates have been upwards of $60,000!!! After speaking with a structural engineer we have a plan - steel I-beams to reinforce the walls, a backhoe to dig around the outside of the house, power wash and seal the outer walls, and backfilling with a material other than the clay soil that is currently surrounding the house. That being said, we have to come up with the cash to do this.
      Like many folks in today's housing market we are upside down in the mortgage of this house. Unfortunately we are also upside down in the mortgage of the house I bought before the Hubs and I got married.  After meeting with a financial planner and discussing our options we have decided we are going to have to sell the house I own and am currently renting out. Here's the rub, I owe WAY more than it would sell for (think about $35,000 more). We are struggling with how to handle this. The Hubs is one to face a problem head on and deal with it ASAP while I tend to bury my head in the sand and hope it will go away (even though I know this just makes it worse!). So we need to combine forces, take our time to research the options available, and make the choice that will work best for our family.  
     We considered selling our current home and moving into the house I am renting but decided that was not what we want for our family. After all, this is where our family began. Our first date was a BBQ the Hubs invited me to held here at Wilted Acres. Not only that but we have a host of family memories here!


                                        We had our wedding reception in the backyard....



                                This was the house we brought Babycakes home to live...
                                                


                                     We had our first family photo taken out by the pear tree...       
                     
                                      



                         We laid my old friend to rest in the backyard when it was time to say good-bye...


celebrated LOTS of holidays...


Halloween...


...Easter...



...and Christmas.

And then there is just everyday living...



....storytime with Uncle C,



....a summer day with my favorite girl :-),

...or just swinging on the back porch.


      So while this old house has brought about some stress, it has also forced me to really look at all that it has provided to us. I have a tendency to complain about how incredibly small this house is and it's failure to meet our needs. However, I have come to realize this house has become a part of our family. As a member of our family, we need to take care of her and give her what she needs. So it's time for us to tighten our belts and live with less so that we can give this old house what she needs. I'm going to try and start a "Frugal Friday" series. Hopefully this will be a way for me to document the frugal changes and choices we need to make so that we can repair our house.

 So tightened your belts! It's going to be quite a journey!
   




Saturday, January 3, 2015

Who Has Time for New Year's Resolutions???

I just finished reading one of my favorite blogs, Homemakers Daily. In it, Patty shared that she doesn't make resolutions because "her plate is full" right now. I don't know why this resonated with me, but it did.

Since the week after Christmas folks have been posting their resolutions/goals/"word of the year" all over social media. I've seen great resolutions and goals (I really can't grasp the whole "word of the year" thing, but kudos to those who make it work!). Despite a lot of inspiration nothing has really resonated with me as far as resolutions. Sure, I have goals...blog more, get in shape, eat better, be a better mom, be a better wife, etc. - but nothing measurable. Nothing I want to make a full blown resolution.

I've noted some things that I need/want to do to make better use of my time. The biggest thing has been giving up my knitting hobby. While this may not seem like a big deal I can't recall giving up a hobby as an adult. I've boxed up my yarn, needles, everything to give to a family member who is just getting started in the hobby. I'm not going to lie, it's going to be hard to send all of that stuff out the door because I spent a lot of money on it.  But it was getting to the point that I didn't enjoy the craft anymore. Unfinished projects loomed over my head and I had a hard time getting myself into a mentality where I enjoyed picking up my needles to knit. Life is too short to waste time on something that doesn't bring me joy.

I've also pared down the blogs I follow. Each time I fired up my laptop I would see 400+ blog posts I hadn't read. That stressed me out. It felt like one more thing I was falling behind in doing. I read blogs because I LIKE them. They shouldn't cause me stress. So I pared down my RSS feed to five blogs. That doesn't mean I don't read others, I just couldn't manage the number of posts on my feed when I was following 25 different blogs. Next on my list is to reduce the number of channels I follow on YouTube.

So what about you? Do you make resolutions? Goals? Have a "word of the year?" I'd love to hear your thoughts on my resolution to not make a resolution. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year!

Nena