Packing Procrastination

A few weeks ago, we were really gung ho about packing and purging the apartment. You know what we haven’t done much of? Packing and purging the apartment.

I don’t know if it’s because the whole thing feels overwhelming or what, but after we squared away the back bedroom and pulled some stuff off the walls in the living room, our evenings have reverted back to complete laziness and lack of any progress. There are no good excuses. We have plenty of boxes and storage tubs.

At some point, we actually have to go through those storage tubs and do some repacking. Maybe that’s part of our problem. That alone feels like a big task.

We also have several things to list for sale, and I’m not sure which route I want to go. I’m part of a local Buy/Trade/Sell Facebook group, but I haven’t been super active. I’ve had decent luck with Craigslist in the past, so I may try that first. We don’t have a lot to sell, but enough that we should get rolling if we don’t want to haul those things.

I also have the fear that we’re going to pack something we’ll need later. I also don’t think I’m ready for bare walls. The decor gives me that sense of comfort at the end of the day. I’m worried that the lack of “stuff” will be unsettling. Then again, I think I need to decide which is more important: bare walls, or running around at the last minute trying to get things done.

We haven’t completely gone off track. We have several boxes packed and we’ve “staged” the back room to make the process easier. I’ve been through one of the totes to see if there’s anything to purge. That brought about a whole new question: do I throw away my old journals or not? I have a ton of them and they’re heavy. That’s probably a subject in itself.

In my head, I have the perfect scene of how this move will go. Everything will be packed and ready. We’ll have enough people to assemble a moving line and enough trucks to haul everything in one trip. We’ll finish clearing the apartment in record time, and we’ll use the same amount of time to take everything into the new apartment. We’ll celebrate with pizza, then we’ll dance under a shower of glitter and rainbows.

I’m sure none of that is actually going to happen. Except the pizza. We’re definitely thanking our helpers with pizza (hint hint, MHK friends…).

Question: What tips do you have for a smooth, drama-free move?

Bonus question: How do you counter procrastination?

A.

Book Review – Everything But the Posts: Tips, Advice, and Templates from a Blogger Who Has Been in Your Shoes

I’ve had this blog for a few years now, and I keep debating what I want to do with it.

Does it need more photos?
Does it need more focus?
Should I try to pare down my topics to one or two?
Do I want to monetize?

The problem with trying to answer these is that the second I think about making changes, I become overwhelmed and then do absolutely nothing.  One of my main concerns is the focus of my blog.  Other blogs have a main theme or a few main topics. My topics are all over the place.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I’d won a copy of Becca Ludlum’s Everything But the Posts: Tips, Advice, and Templates from a Blogger Who Has Been in Your Shoes. It arrived a few days ago, and I finished my first read-through last night. However, this isn’t the kind of book you can read, then set aside and never think about again. It’s a reference book for anyone who wants to blog or is currently blogging and wants to take it further.

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Everything But the Posts is easy-to-follow and engaging. Ludlum starts with information on popular blog sites and how to choose/find a name and layout. From there, she discusses making connections with other bloggers, social media marketing, and monetizing. There are even tips about what to do when you attend a blog convention. I didn’t even know there were blog conventions.

There were aspects of blogging I didn’t even know existed, including rules regarding compensation and how to build a media kit. Though there are several things I’m not yet doing with my blog, this knowledge is good to have. I particularly liked her information regarding contests and giveaways. It seems like every blogger out there is doing them, so it’s good to know that there is some small print to pay attention to if I ever get to that point.

One of my favorite aspects of this guide is that the author doesn’t talk down to the you. Being a blogger herself (you can find her at My Crazy Good Life), Ludlum uses language that’s clear and conversational. She emphasizes keeping a blog because you enjoy it, and she shares templates she uses for reaching out for partnerships and sponsorships.

Did the book answer my focus problem? No, but that’s not its purpose. It gave me the tools I need to make my blog bigger, if I so choose, and it highlighted some things I can do with my blog, regardless of content. It also made me feel okay to keep doing what I’ve been doing (re: blog for enjoyment!).  Everything But the Posts gave me some technical savvy while leaving the creative process all up to me.

You can order Becca’s book through her blog. My copy is going into into my reference library, and I highly recommend this book to any blogger. Even if you’re not looking to advance now, this book will be perfect for when you are.

All opinions are my own. I won the book via Becca Ludlum and FitFluential but received no monetary compensation for this review.

A.

Knitters are Yarn Magnets

I’m happy to report that I’m still picking up my needles daily, and the progress I lost from frogging my project has been made up. My decision was a good one. Knitting a project with no glaring mistakes makes a difference. 

Last week, a coworker asked if I wanted some yarn she’d inherited. Logically, I realize this is the exact opposite of the paring down I’m supposed to be doing, but as a knitter, I can’t say no.What if I declined and later found out I missed out on some prize yarn?

Being a yarn magnet is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because you’re always well stocked in stash yarn. It’s a curse for the same reason, unless you’re blessed with unlimited storage space. I already have two totes and a bag full of yarn, and my efforts at stash busting have been weak. Since we’re moving into a smaller apartment, storage is going to be a challenge.

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This gift also came with several pairs of straight needles, some circulars, and a set of metal DPNs. I think I might be more excited about the tools in this case, not because I need them personally but because I want to share them.  

I’ve had a few people ask me to teach them to knit, and one of my plans after moving back into town is to hold a monthly knitting get together. I like having extra yarn and tools on hand because the idea of letting someone take them as their beginner’s tools is appealing. They’ll upgrade eventually, but this gives them the chance to try it out without having to buy their own tools.

Plus, it has a “share the love” feel to it.

As for the yarn, some of it will be donated and passed on, but there is some nice acrylic yarn I’m keeping for frou frou projects (I’m  a fan of softer acrylics).

Now I just need to figure out where I’m going to store it.

Questions for my fellow yarncrafters: do you ever find yourself becoming a yarn magnet? Do you tend to accept or decline? Why? 

A.

Recipe: Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Any time I actually make dinner, it’s a pretty big event. Being in the kitchen makes me uncomfortable. I don’t multi-task around hot items well, and I don’t have the flair for seasoning and eyeballing amounts like Jon does. Therefore, he does pretty much all the cooking (even though I’m in charge of finding new recipes).

I pinned this recipe to my meal board awhile back (the original one from the Pioneer Woman can be found here). It looked easy enough, so I gave it a shot with a couple minor changes. The information below includes my changes, so refer to the links for the full, original recipe.

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Ingredients (I was able to pick up everything at Aldi, which is the cheapest grocery store in our area)

  • roll of ground turkey
  • 2 8 oz cans Tomato Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Egg Noodles (I cooked a whole 16 oz bag. It made alot. Half the bag would have been fine)
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1-1/4 cup Small Curd Cottage Cheese
  • Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Brown ground turkey in a large skillet. Drain fat (my turkey was lean, so I skipped this step), then add tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper. Stir, then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Add pepper. Add to noodles and stir.

To assemble, add half of the noodles to a baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, then sprinkle on some cheese. Repeat with noodles, meat, then a final layer of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted.

My food pics never look as pretty as the originals, but the food tasted good anyway!

My food pics never look as pretty as the originals, but the food tasted good anyway!

The original recipe says to pair with some bread, but I figured the noodles would be starchy enough. Though they are egg noodles. Still a starch, right? I don’t know. The meal was really filling without the bread.

Next time I’ll even out the noodle to sauce ratio by using only half a bag of noodles as instructed. Even with that little oversight, this turned out really well. I’m proud! Also, I managed to keep all kitchen anxiety at bay. I took my time, managed to do a few things at once, and even (sort of) cleaned up as I went.

My next mission? Tuna noodle casserole.

A.

Tea and Chocolate

It was a nice Sunday in that it was relaxing and I checked a few things off my to-do list. The weather was ominous though. I like a good rain, and I love a good thunderstorm, but driving around in it isn’t so fun. Still, we survived to do laundry, run some errands, and attend the Habitat for Humanity Chocolate and Tea.

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Jon received tickets through this work, and since we’d never been before, we thought it would be a fun new experience. Besides the chance to drink tea and eat chocolate goodies, there were also silent and live auctions. I took a bid number…just in case. There were several silent auction items that looked interesting, but nothing I couldn’t live without.

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The snacks were tasty. There was a chocolate fountain and an array of baked goods. Jon pointed out that I failed at Strawberry Dipping 101 even though I stood right there when the person ahead of me was being shown the right technique. I don’t get enough quality chocolate fountain time I guess.

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I’ve only been to a couple live auctions, but I’ve enjoyed every one I’ve gone to. I love listening to the auctioneer. This live auction had several neat items. One of my favorites was the handmade quilt pictured above. It wasn’t in our budget, but I’m not ruling out the chance of bidding on a quilt in a future auction.

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Funnily enough, I did win something. They were passing this ring around and no one was bidding, so I threw a bid out. I thought someone outbid me, so I kind of lost track of what was going on. They finally closed it and…whoop…I won! The ring is not my usual style, but I’m going to rock it anyway. Jon suggested I go get it resized. It fits on my left ring finger, but not my right. However, that might not be an issue much longer, since my other rings are becoming increasingly loose.

All the proceeds went to Habitat for Humanity. We had a good time, and since they hold this every year, I’m hoping we can go again next year and maybe plan ahead money wise so we can bid on more things.

A.

Hanging at Tulip Fest 2014

This year was my first year going to the Wamego Tulip Festival. I haven’t gone in the past probably due to a combination of not being around and not being able to walk all over the place, neither of which was an issue this year. I met up with a couple of friends and we joined the festivities.

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There were bouncy houses for days, and kids could get an all day pass to all the bounce they wanted for eight dollars. I’m ready for adult bouncy houses to be a thing. There were also booths of hand crafted items and homemade food.  I picked up a handmade necklace and earring set made from ammunition shells.

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The food court offered a few different things: asian noodles, BBQ, and italian sausage sandwiches. The turkey legs looked tempting, but…

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…I went with the italian sausage sammy. It was super spicy.  FB pointed out the face in my bun by asking me to tag it as a friend. Bun face and I could have been friends, I guess. But I ate him.

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Baby animals are the cutest. Besides these lambies, we saw baby chickens and ducks, a calf, and a goat. I’m not sure if the goat was a baby, but he was still adorable.

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We found this one lonely little tulip. A few minutes later, we found a few more, but the tulips didn’t seem to be plentiful this year. Then again, we may have just missed seeing them.

2014-04-12 13.33.15On the way to the beer garden and winery, I gave in to the call of the cherry limeade. It was delicious. If I’m lucky, they’ll have these at the Kansas Sampler Festival in a couple weeks.

Other than the expected sore feet, walking was easy peasy. Unfortunately, my body malfunctioned in other ways, and I ended up having to come home after just a few hours. I got a bit of a sunburn, despite using sunscreen, but it was worth it. It was a fun day with good friends, and I’m glad I went.

It’s going on tomorrow, too, so if you’re in the area, I definitely recommend checking it out.

 

A.

 

 

Fiscal Responsibility and Planning

I hate money.

I mean, I love it, but I hate dealing with it. I’ve had a few successful go-rounds with budgeting and planning over the years, but I always fall off the wagon. Up until recently, I didn’t even track transactions in my checkbook (I had a tracking method, it just wasn’t that one). So when Jon started his new job and we upgraded to a fancier pants apartment, I figured I’d better start acting like an adult. 

Our new living situation (which commences in July) came at us with a few challenges, and it was those challenges that made me realize I needed to handle our finances better. The first thing I had to tell myself was that whatever budget I came up with wasn’t going to be perfect. I’ve tried to do perfectly detailed budgets in the past, then the first time I wavered, I scrapped the whole thing entirely. Much like dieting, a strict budget is not for me.

I mapped out two months of a tentative budget, tentative because even though I know what our current bills are, I had to do some estimating as to our post-tax and post-loan income. However, instead of focusing on the money itself and all the of the little costs, I instead made a plan of how I was going to organize the money in a way that worked for us. 

First, I set up a couple new savings accounts. I use a credit union because historically, I’ve had way better experiences with CUs than banks, and my CU is great. I can do everything online, and as long as you start with $25 for each one, you can open extra share accounts. We already had one for travel, so I opened two more: one for housing and one for our car. These are going to be our two biggest payments, so the plan is to take a set amount out of each check, move it to each account, then use that money to pay those bills on their due date.

I’m sure other people have been doing this all along. Not us. I’ve been a member of the “take it all out of this paycheck” club for as long as I can remember, but we’re no longer going to be able to do that for various reasons. 

I also made a plan to start grinding down our credit card debt, which includes putting extra into regular savings and taking a big chunk out of those bills when we’ve accrued a set amount. Once those are done, we plan to apply the principle to some of Jon’s smaller student loans, a 401k loan, and eventually the car.  Besides that, we’re going back to eating at home more and packing lunches, which means going back to grocery lists and meal plans. We’ve done this sporadically over the years, but we always get caught in those fast food and delivery loops that suck money out a bank account super quick. 

In fact, since I’ve also started tracking all transactions in my checkbook again, I’m a little unsettled by just how quickly and easily we spend money. It’s so easy to do: a lazy dinner out here, social time with friends there, and before you know it, we’ve burned through anything we had leftover after bills were paid. Besides all the planning, I’m also trying to avoid that as much as possible. 

A lot of this will be easier when we’re living back in MHK. One of the reasons we eat out so often is that if either of us has a social engagement in the evening, there’s no point in running all the way home to make dinner, then coming all the way back to town. We’d spend more in gas anyway. Even cheap options are expensive. We can make meal for both of us for about three dollars. Each fast food meal ranges from 8 to 15, depending on what we’re in the mood for. 

Not to mention the fact that it’s really easy to get burned out on fast food, and while there are healthy options to be had, it’s not usually recommended for peak performance.

I’m hoping I can stick with this. My grandfather was great with money and always wanted me to budget, but I was a brat and never wanted to put the time into it. However, I do remember some of the things he taught me, so I’m hoping to implement some of those in the future. This is going to be a work in progress, but I’m hoping it gets us where we want to be. If anyone has any other ideas, tips, or magic spells we can use, please send them my way!

A.