My sweet, generous friend offered me this ginormous old entertainment center. (She even offered to drive it to my house!) Despite all my downsizing, it's next to impossible for me to pass up free furniture. Now, I have to make sure it can be put to good use in my teeny, tiny house, of course. At an inch shy of 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide, I would have to really need this hunkin' piece of furniture. I immediately thought of converting it into a desk for the middle-Little, but she has the smallest bedroom. Not ideal for a large piece of furniture like this. My only other need is kitchen storage, so I had the boys set it down in the eat-in part of my kitchen that I use as an office and prep space.
Once I got to looking at the entertainment center, I realized I really didn't need to do anything to it to make it look like it belonged where it is. It didn't need to be painted because it looked good with the kitchen cabinetry. I just adjusted some shelves and started filling it with all the extra stuff that's been cluttering up my limited counter space and piling up around the kitchen. The only other thing I'm thinking about here is whether or not to move my microwave. I really think it would look fabulous and help the entertainment center feel like part of the kitchen, but ohmygod, I'm already done rearranging. (If I make that change later, I'll add an updated picture.)
The lesson here for me wasn't thinking outside of any box. Thinking outside of society's boxes is a part of being frugal, fabulous me. The lesson was NOT doing anything to the piece of furniture when I really, really, really wanted to at least paint it or build bins for it or something. Sometimes, things just fall into place without much effort. Amazing, I know.
Hidden storage for a few large canned goods and the dog & cat food.
Way sized down cookbook collection
Grocery bags and satchels
Basket of dish towels with some more canned goodies tucked in the back
All kinds of fabulous-ness- That's a cork board covered in happiness and some fabulous pottery pieces and that recent acquisition of wooden fruit for a buck.
Most of my small appliances fit in one cabinet. My redneck margarita maker and my stand mixer don't and are too heavy for the top of my fridge.
Finding a way to showcase that reproduction radio is the best part of this whole repurposing!
I know the sun is killing this shot, but the point here is to show how the entertainment center really feels like a continuation of the kitchen cabinets. And yes. We are stockpiling drinks for Armageddon. We call that "summer vacation" here.
We have so many fun, FREE, family festivities happening through the 4th! Feel free to leave a comment if y'all know of other fun stuff happening around town. Be safe and stay cool!
Oxford City hall hosts their annual parade, Wednesday, July 4, beginning at 10 am. Start of the parade is at Haygood Avenue.
Porterdale hosts its annual celebration on Wednesday, July 4th, in the Historic Mill Village starting at 4pm with a parade. AmeriCopia and Suite 253 will be playing in the alley from 4 pm until 7 pm. A wrestling match will follow from 7 pm until 9 pm and fireworks will follow at dark.
Social Circle has festivities starting at 10 am on Wednesday, July 4th, when an antique car show begins on E. Hightower Road. The car show ends at 3 pm and a parade begins at 5:30 pm on Cherokee Road. Fireworks will begins around 9:30 pm. The show cost $6,500 and was paid for by local businesses and churches. Music will be playing along with the fireworks show on WMSL 88.9 FM.
The City of McDonough will host its annual Fourth of July Ice Cream Social on Wednesday, July 4, beginning at 7 pm. The FREE event will include a medley performance of patriotic songs by the First Baptist Church Praise Team. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets for seating. The activity will last about an hour and will end in time for travel to local fireworks displays. Fireworks begin at dark.
to check out more info on celebrations around Georgia.
Isn't Pinterest just filled with win? I searched for ways to cover my outlet covers and BAM! Here's this fabulous tutorial
for doing just that- all within my skill set, using things I already have on hand. Win, win, win. Scrapbook paper, the plate, and homemade Mod Podge, baby! Woot, woot. Peace, B.
The reason I went looking for a DIY project like this was because my little-Little found a covered light switch plate at the store for ten bucks. I couldn't help but think we could do that for much cheaper.
Featuring fabulous finds from readers and more every Friday!
This incredible formal gown looks like Belle's dress, doesn't it? OFM reader, Pam, found it in the Covington Goodwill for just $10.91. (That's the everyday price for their formal dresses!) The dress is in prefect condition and fits her daughter like it was made for her. This fabulous find is a great example of how many of us live on really low monthly budgets while providing beautiful formal dresses like this for our Littles! Peace, B.
Do you have a Fabulous Find to share? Email a picture along with a description to mamabee@OneFabulousMama.com!
Make your own fruit and veggie wash!
It's good to wash store bought fruits and veggies with more than just water. Why? Because most store bought fruits and veggies are covered with bacteria, residue from pesticides, and a film that's all kinds of gross-ness. Unless you're buying organic, you'll wanna use a fruit and veggie wash. The kind you get at the store is crazy expensive, so I started making my own once I read about all the not-so-healthy stuff on the healthy foods I feed my family.
My tried and true homemade fruit and veggie wash is simple and inexpensive as can be. I mix equal parts water and white vinegar. That's it. Hard skinned fruits get a light spray and wipe while soft skinned fruits get a minute soak and light wash. It's easy and effective. The acid in the vinegar kills all the gross junk listed above and I don't spend a fortune making sure my family isn't ingesting gross-ness.
For more Thrifty Thursday fabulous-ness, go here.
Featuring wonderful ways from around the web to waste not every Wednesday... repurposing, upcycling, recycling, repairing... being frugal means learning how to make life fabulous by consuming less and reusing more.
This week's post features DIY
fabric storage bins using cardboard boxes!
I need storage bins. I mean a lot of them and I don't want to pay what I have in the past for them. Even on clearance, these little bins can run close to ten bucks. Given the amount of them I will need, there is no way I'm buying them. Plus, I really want to use this cool IKEA fabric I have for them. I started researching ways to make my own using cardboard boxes and it wasn't too long before I found this faboo little tutorial
over at I Heart Organizing. It's exactly the kind of project I love- easy peasy and done with glue that won't burn off three layers of skin when I get on my fingers. Bonus, I have everything including spray adhesive already on hand! Peace, B.
For more Waste Not Wednesday awesome-ness, go here.
Have a suggestion for Waste Not Wednesday? Send it to email@example.com.
I like to entertain. This is not to be confused with how entertaining I often am. I am entertaining on accident. I entertain on purpose. One is because of my Crazies. The other is because I am a social being.
Because I often entertain, I have an arsenal of yummy slow cooker recipes I can put on for an hour or so while I'm prepping other finger foods. I like using my slow cooker when I entertain because I can keep the dish warm right on the buffet table without using a chafing dish.
Crab dip is a favorite of nearly everyone in my family. I like to make some up when we're all at home to have when we're playing games together. I make enough to allow for leftovers because this is super yummy delicious cold, too.
Serve with crackers, celery and carrot sticks, or melba toast. I'm a fan of Wheat Thins.
You'll need the following ingredients:
two 8 ounce packages cream cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup grated onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
12 ounces crab meat
Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Give it all a stir. Cook on high for 1 and 1/2 hours, stirring a couple times.
Set heat to warm until ready to serve.
Q: Which one uses less water- taking a bath or a shower? Paula R.
A: You can Google all kinds of fun facts about showers versus baths but, the answer to that faboo question is... it depends. It depends on a few variables like the kind of shower head you have, how long you shower, and much water you put in your bathtub. I bet you just thought I was gonna say baths, right? Or maybe you thought I was gonna say showers? Well, here's the thing...
The truth about baths...
The average American bathtub (five feet by 30 inch) holds 50 gallons of water. That's filled to the tippy top. No one fills their bathtub to the tippy top because of a little thing called water displacement.
For example: I fill the tub a less than halfway for my little-Little and about halfway for me. Although I haven't measured the amount of water, I am guesstimating that we use about 15 gallons of water when she bathes and 25 when I bathe.
Now, my personal bathing habits are I take a bath when I want to relax or have aches and pains. I spend a ton of time in that water and usually refill the tub with steaming hot water at least once. When I do take a bath, I usually use 50 gallons of water... unless I'm using our garden tub and then... well... I'm ashamed to say those numbers are significantly higher.
Figure out how much water you're using when you bathe.
The truth about showers...
If you live in an older home that hasn't needed many fixes, you're most likely dealing with a shower head without a flow restrictor. That means your shower head is putting out close to or more than five gallons of water per minute. If you take a three minute shower, you're using 15 gallons of water. I don't know anyone (who isn't in the military) who takes a three minute shower.
I take on average a ten minute shower. My shower head was installed in 2005 and has a flow restrictor that allows for 2.5 gallons of water per minute. My ten minute shower uses 25 gallons of water. That's the same amount of water I would draw for a bath (if I only filled my bath once and didn't soak like a prima donna).
If you don't know how many gallons of water your shower head is providing per minute, find out. The older the shower head, the more likely you're using closer to that five gallon per minute mark. (I read that some older shower heads may even allow for eight gallons of water per minute!) Consider that you may be doubling your water usage PLUS the energy it takes to heat the water by not updating your shower head.
So what does all of that mean?
If you take ten minute showers using a shower head that has a 2.5 gallon flow per minute or a bath with the tub filled halfway, you're looking at about the same amount of water usage.
If you take really long showers using an older shower head, you are using a lot more water than you would use if you are bathing in a standard size tub.
If you take a bath in garden size tub rather than a regular size tub or if you refill the tub with hot water, then you're using a lot more water.
But what does all of that mean?
It means, friends, that you can save money by taking shorter showers, filling the bathtub halfway, and updating your shower heads.
My family uses about 3,750 gallons of water each month just on baths and showers. That number would be closer to 7,500 if we had older shower heads. The cost of that water (as well as the cost of heating it) depends on where you live.
Here is a really great website
that will help you see how much water you use. My Littles and I used it during some lessons once and it was eye opening.
Do you have a question that needs answering? Just email OFM at mamabee@OneFabulousMama.com! For more Magical Monday Q&A fabulousness, go here!
My monthly budget is $350. This includes food, medicine, clothing, cleaning supplies, etc. Everything for the care and keeping of my family comes out of that one pot of money. I use many frugal living strategies to stay under budget each month. Most people assume that being an "extreme couponer" is how I do it, but that's so far from the truth that it's laughable. I wish it were that easy!
This series of posts will help you learn how One Fabulous Mama rocks one fabulous budget
for her family of five. In part one of this series
, I describe how I use coupons and sales ad match ups to help keep my family under budget and living a fabulous life. In part two
, I explore how I use gardening to supplement my family's meals all year long. In part three
, I explain how frugal living and "deal" blogs inspire me (like I hope this one inspires you!), how to find them, how to tell the difference between crap and good advice, and I top it all off with a list of my favorites. In part four
, I describe how thrifting saves me a ton of money and makes me feel like a smart, fabulous chick, too.
In part five, I explain how we use cash envelopes
to stay on track and under budget every month. Peace, B.
A little too much information
It's hard to share how we do things without sharing too much, you know what I mean, friends? If you follow my blog, then you already know much of what I'm going to disclose here, but people get weird when you talk politics, religion, and personal finances. I'm not going to name a dollar amount when I talk about our income, but I am going to explain a few details of where our money goes and where we are financially. I wrote the following for a newspaper column once."I want my website readers to understand who my family is. We are a debt laden, paycheck to paycheck living family of five who have decided money isn’t everything. I am dedicated to staying at home, acting as the hub of our family. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll write a story or two while I’m growing my garden and my children. The information on my website is how I can lead the braless, shoeless, middle-class lifestyle to which I have grown accustomed. I want you to understand I’m not driving some fancy car or living in some fancy house. I’m just a middle-class mom who doesn’t give a flip what anyone thinks as long as she can be with her family. The most important thing for all of us is being together. The best way we can manage that is for me to be One Fabulous Mama."
If you want to read the whole column, you can do so here
I wanted y'all to understand where I'm coming from when I talk about how we do things. My husband and I have made many first world compromises in order to live the way we do. We drive one car when we'd rather have two. We live in a smaller, lower middle-class home when we'd rather have a big, old farmhouse. We don't take lavish vacations. We don't have cable or satellite television. The list goes on and on. We are able to enjoy our lives according to our own standards though and that's mighty important. I'm not trying to tell you that you can have two cars, a big house, satellite, etc living on what we do. I'm explaining that we're pretty happy people living the way we do on the money we make and using cash envelopes helps us stick to a budget.
What are cash envelopes?
Cash envelopes aren't rocket science. This is a simple yet extremely effective way to budget your non-fixed expenses. Divide your budget into categories and then, provide funds for each category. Each envelope represents a category. When you spend the money in the envelope, you have nothing more to spend for that category. The end. I said it wasn't rocket science, y'all.
Cash envelopes work for my family because they are easy to set up and use; we deal in cash only, not credit; they prevent overspending; and we're able to track our spending easily. There are so many great applications for establishing and tracking a budget. Those fancy apps make the cash envelope system seem pretty outdated, but it's amazing to have a tactile, real system of what you have left to spend each month.
For example, let's say you budget $100 a month for clothing. You put $100 in an envelope marked clothing and you can spend what's in the envelope and no more. During the month, if you need to know how much you have to spend on clothes, you look in your clothing envelope. At the end of the month, if you have money, you tuck that into savings.
*If you have trouble keeping up with how much money you have in the bank for different things, cash envelopes will help.
*If you find that you can talk yourself into purchases without really being sure you can cover them, cash envelopes will help.
*If you end the month overdrawn in your checking account (and this was a BIG problem for me), cash envelopes will help.
Wait! Some categories don't get envelopes...
You'll pay for a few categories directly from checking or savings accounts because those catergories are fixed amounts that are paid at the same time each month. Categories like rent/house payment; insurance; car payment, etc. You won't need an actual envelope for that category. UNLESS, you are UNbanking and work in cash only. If that's the case, then, by all means make envelopes for every expense you have.
What a month looks like for my family
You know how I talk about the concept of everyone figuring out what works for them and then, doing that? That means not everyone will do the same thing because we're all so beautifully different. The cash envelopes for my family will most likely look lots different from your own.
We get paid once a month, so our budget is pretty simple. We don't have to tuck away money each week (or bi-weekly) because it all comes from one pot with the exception of any money I make on the side (which sounds so salacious that I hate to admit it comes from writing and not anything else). If you are paid more frequently, you'll have to decide how much gets pulled from each paycheck for each category.
Every month, I pay our bills (rent, utilities, insurance, etc) and then, divide up my budget into the following envelopes:
Your envelopes might include hobbies, haircuts, cosmetics, vacation, gym, and many more. This is what works for my family. I should clarify that the Being Beautiful category is for any cosmetics or other frills my three daughters need/want/con me into buying. I rarely wear makeup. I mean rarely as in once in the last couple of years. A friend does our hair for us and we pay her far less than she is worth, but that goes into the Being Beautiful budget as well. My household budget includes any little thing I need/want for my home, from cool artwork to air filters- it comes out of that envelope. The experiences category is for concerts, excursions, and any other thing my family wants to experience together.
I do not include date nights and charity in the $350 monthly budget. Although these categories are very important, we can get by without them when our finances don't allow for us to spend money on either. That is, we can date for zero dollars and give of our time and talents when money is short. I also don't include gas because the amount we need fluctuates each month. Obviously, we can't go without gas... see what I did there?
Some months, I don't have enough money to fund a category at all. Such a first world problem to have to decide which to forego for the month- dining out or books? Using a cash envelope system helps my family understand what's available for which categories and what we are able to afford. Some months we require more money in one category and less in another. Cash envelopes help us stay on track and not overspend.
Cash envelopes are mighty helpful.
Using cash envelopes is the reason I was able to get our monthly budget to $350. There was no room for using more money. That's the beauty of the system. When the envelope is empty, the money is gone and there is no getting more. This simple scenario taught me not to spend more than we have and also forced me to stretch our dollars further. I can't stress how important for us cash envelopes have been as we've transitioned back to one income. I use cash envelopes because it keeps our whole family on track.
My favorite cash envelope story involves my middle-Little begging for a cold drink. Of course, I told her that if she was getting a cold drink, everyone was. At five times a buck fiddy, she was suggesting a serious investment into something I think is frivolous and wasteful, but I digress. I pulled out our cash envelopes and asked her which category we should raid for cold drinks. Should we take ten dollars from experiences since we were traveling home from a day in the city? Should it come from groceries since this was something we were consuming? Should I take it from dining out since we were indeed out (even if it was the QT parking lot)? All five of us saw that this kind of frivolous spending was going to make us cutback on other things we enjoy. Ten dollars is enough to purchase a new book, for heaven's sake. It's enough to buy several used books!
Now, some of y'all may be thinking that you can't believe I make such a big deal out of stopping for cold drinks, but that's you judging the choices my family makes. My family agreed that we would refill our water bottles and finish off the tea and that would be refreshing enough to make it the hour until we got home where cold sodas awaited without a ten dollar expense. Cash envelopes helped me illustrate to my middle-Little that everything we buy comes from some pot of money and those pots are finite. They also helped me show my Littles how being frugal means being thoughtful and patient.
The very best and unexpected result of using cash envelopes is the understanding my Littles have gained of personal finances, something my husband and I never learned as children. Even my little-Little who is 7 can get the concept that once the money is gone, it's gone and that's it until payday.
A word to the wise
At first, remembering the cash envelopes will be a pain. Don't whine about it. Just make it part of your new routine. It gets easier. Running out of money in a category feels like punishment. You know you have more money, so why not spend it, right? Stick to the system. You'll be glad you did when you see how much you save and how much you can do with the amount you've set for yourself. Recently, I really, really, really wanted a new book. My book budget was spent for the month. (I tend to go through that category rather quickly.) The book wasn't available for loan from the library. No friends had the book available for loan either. Guess what I had to do? I had to wait. That sucked in a very first world way, but I didn't die from waiting and when I had the money, I ordered the book. Cash envelopes helped me NOT spend what I don't have. Win, win, win, win, win!
A parting thought about how to set budgets for each category...
You get tired of reading about how no one is a better judge of your family's wants and needs than you, but it's the truth and that's why I harp on it so often. The key to a frugal lifestyle is to STOP worrying about what other folks have and what other folks think about what you have. The key is to take matters into your own hands and decide for yourself what it takes to make your family go. This is one of the reasons I decided not to disclose exactly how much I spend on each of my categories. Those amounts work for my family and aren't some magic number that translates to happiness for all families. If you are floundering when it comes to setting budgets for your categories, I suggest making a list of what you spend now (ballpark it if you have to) and then, jot down an amount to aim for as a goal.
For example, if you spend $100 a month on dining out now, try to budget $80 and see how that goes.
You may have noticed a ton of different cash envelopes pictured in this post. I Googled cash envelope systems and found these examples. I like durable envelopes, so paper doesn't work for me, but you can use whatever works for you, as simple or as fancy as you want to be.
I make this for one reason and one reason only. I love to hear my children say "boeuf bourguignon." It makes me giggle every time. If you need some help pronouning the name of this savory beef stew made with wine, go here
. If you aren't down with fancy French words (and ohmygod, why aren't you?), you can just call this dish beef burgundy because that's precisely what it is.
Okay, I make it for another reason. It's stinking delicious. I mean, we're talking about a dish with bacon AND wine. What more could you want?
Boeuf bourguignon hails from the same place as coq au vin (another popular dish with my family and of course, I love to hear them say it). This stew is a peasant dish. If you've seen Julie and Julia
, you get how fabulous peasant dishes can be and how cool folks feel for making them in their decidedly American homes.
An authentic boeuf bourguignon has mushrooms, but not everyone in my family eats mushrooms. I just omit them from my recipe and carry on with the deliciousness of what's left simmering in the pot. You could add them if you're so inclined. This recipe right here is a little Julia Child and a little OFM and that makes it a whole heck of a lot of good-ness. Where Julia's recipe takes a lot of work, I throw it in the slow cooker and come home to a pot full of win at the end of the day.
Serve this stew over potatoes, rice, or noodles. My favorite is with egg noodles, but my family likes boiled new potatoes best. I also like to serve steamed broccoli and a nice baguette
for a fabulous meal.
This is a particularly satisfying meal in the middle of winter, but my family likes it any time of year. I am fond of making it in the summer because I don't have to fire up the hot oven.
You'll need the following ingredients to make 8 servings:
1 tablespoon oil
6 ounces salt pork belly or chunk bacon cut into cubes
3 pounds beef stew pieces*
3 peeled and sliced carrots
2 onions, sliced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 crushed bay leaf
1 and 1/2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup flour
3 cups red wine (Burgundy if you can)
2 and 1/2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
*I buy a 3 pound beef roast and have Mister OFM cut it into little pieces for me. It's much cheaper than buying precut stew meat.
Fry up the bacon (or salt pork) in the oil. Drain and keep a couple tablespoons of the oil in the pan.
Brown the stew meat and then, place in the slow cooker.
Add carrots and onion to the skillet and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the spices. Cook for a minute or two.
Add flour and cook for another minute. Add the beef broth, the tomato paste, and the wine. Stir until the sauce is thickens.
Stir in the bacon (or salt pork).
Add all of this to the slow cooker. Give it a stir to combine everything with the stew meat. Cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours.