Monday, June 29, 2009

Combatting Clutter

Isn't it amazing how quickly you can get your house in order if you have to? My parents got home from a cruise yesterday and since it was their anniversary and I thought they might not want to cook I invited them over for dinner.

My house was in a true state and in about and hour I had made a HUGE improvement. However, the clutter was really just shut behind closed doors. So, the problem still exists.

All this week I plan on going through the stuff and making a decision with it the first time I touch it. Donate, garbage or find a permanent home. I am under pressure as I can't have my kids room full of clutter when they come back in a little less than two weeks.

We have some things to post on Craigs List as well and I hope they will all sell before we go camping in two weeks!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Budget Update

The end of the month is coming up and I have to say this month the hubs and I did a lot better than in the past. We tried cutting our grocery budget in half and REALLY tried to not visit Starbucks so often as well as any money left from fun money went to savings.

I am happy to report the following...

Coffee - $52 (reduction of $135.64 from last month)
Eating Out - $76.55 (still high but a reduction of $31.58 from last month)
Groceries - $256 ($56 over out budget but $158.65 less than last month)
Gas - $156 ($16 over but we did a little more than normal driving this month and we still have a 3/4 tank)

The most incredible change is our savings account. It's a great feeling to be at the end of the month and not only have so much in savings but still have money left over. I didn't miss the extra channels we gave up when we went to basic cable either.

Savings - $410 ($385 more than last month)

We will continue this new plan for July since it seems to be working well for us. We are not starving on $50 of groceries for the week either. July we will see an increase in expenses because we are going camping for four days. However, the hubs gets paid three times next month because he get's paid every two weeks so that will help.

The big exciting news is my parents, in an effort to help us out, have offered us a no interest loan to pay off our credit card and personal loan debt. We will still have a car payment and student loan payment. Our plan with this is to pay them the minimum until we can get $5000 in savings. Then we will double the minimum payments which roughly represents what we are paying now in minimum payments plus extra. The loan will be for five years but we plan to pay it back in two and a half to three years.

So, its safe to say our debt free date will be, drum roll please....

July 2012 - now that is a GREAT birthday present!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I want to take a cruise!

Today my husband, our friend and I went and toured the MS Amsterdam. My husband works for Holland America and we were able to tour the ship as his guests as well as have lunch. First off was the art in the atrium. Every Holland ship has a different piece of art. This one is called the Astrolab Clock Tower. I just love all the gears and astrological references on it.

It chimes on the hour and at the top has a representation of the earth orbiting the sun. All four sides are unique.

This piece is 29.5 feet tall which includes a carillon at its base. It was designed by someone from the Netherlands and made by two artists in Italy. Its nickname is celestial mechanics.

Love the gears too!

We were able to tour different staterooms on board the ship. I so would love to cruise on board and stay in a pent house suite. One of the coolest things about the room is it has a butlers pantry with a separate entrance for your steward to come and go as they are preparing your food for you. The master bedroom has a king size bed.

To the left of the bed in this photo is a mounted flat panel TV.

To the right of the bed is the master bath with walk in closet, tub and separate shower and the toilet and bidet get its own room.

All the glass is a little unnerving. I certainly would have chosen tile. I'm not particularily fond of the gold either.

Yes, that is a round shower door. The closet may not be larger than my own at home but it has more storage complete with wooden and padded hangers.

If you care to have people you can entertain in the living and dining room or out on your personal veranda.

Love the chairs in the living room. On the opposite wall is a large flat screen TV and desk area which looks out to the veranda.

I won't bore you with photos of other staterooms because everything else pales in comparison. There is also a guest bath in this room. All around 1000 square feet. About three years ago my husband and I were able to go on board for dinner and spend the night. We had a slightly smaller suite than this. I certainly would not turn that down either.

A few of my favorite parts of the ship are the library.

There is wifi available and computers if you absolutely need to check your email. Nearby is the espresso stand. I love globes. This one came up to my chest.

If I were to take kids on board they have an entire area called Club Hal.

They have an indoor and outdoor area. The indoor area has video game terminals and all kinds of arts and crafts to do.

Have you ever seen a steel pineapple?

The main pool area has a cover that can slide over it in case of inclement weather. Kind of like Safeco field. Below you can see the glass panels that cover the pool area and ride on a track.

I love these deck chairs and you can actually purchase them. I need to budget.

Chess anyone?

Every day the elevators get new rugs. Just to make certain you know what day it is. No, I am not kidding!

They have a casino and a theater and several other restaurants and pools. There is even a sport court with volleyball. Never a worry losing a ball as there are nets all around it.

And of course, the promenade deck. Day spent on a cruise ship with lunch included (I even had caviar) - totally free (well, except for parking)!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

In honor of fathers everywhere but especially the hubs and my dad. I give you this...

I kinda happen to like it too. Click here for the article.

I need to excuse myself and go make biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Too bad my dad is on a cruise ship. I guess the hubs will get his share.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Does Jambalaya taste better in Fancy Pants china?

I am doing something I hope I won't regret. I am selling my nice red stoneware everyday dishes that I have had for a number of years at a yard sale on Saturday. In their place I will be using the china we received for our wedding over five years ago of which I have used a handful of times.

I am nervous because I really like my china and can't afford to replace multiple pieces if they get broken. I might have a death wish because I have teenagers. But I certainly would not do this with toddlers or younger children. We live in a small condo and do not have formal dinner parties so owning a set of china for twelve seems a little - outdated.

They are dishwasher safe and we have been using our nice flatware for months now. It makes sense to the practical side of me who doesn't really understand why she registered for china in the first place. I have also freed up room in my hallway closet for storage of items that don't have a home.
It's hard to see in the photo above but the rim is grey with a silver scroll pattern. We chose these because at the time the hubs and I both had china from our grandmothers which ironically went well together and we thought this pattern was nice and would be a good neutral to go with the other china.

We got rid of the other china years ago, right after we sold the china hutch I always wanted and just had to have. Who wouldn't want a huge glass of ice cold milk in an iced beverage glass like this?

So in answer to the question if Jambalaya really tastes better in fancy pants china? Not really. It still makes me nervous.


One of my favorite bloggers is back. She used to have a blog called Escape Brooklyn. Well, she did escape brooklyn and is now living in the house she ahd her hubs bought in Minneapolis. They call it the Mansion. Go check her out at Moneyapolis!p

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy 40th Anniversary Mom & Dad

Last Saturday my sister and I arranged a 40th anniversary party for my parents. For their actual anniversary (the 28th) they will be on an Alaskan cruise. The weather was perfect and a lot of friends were able to make it.

Some of the friends that were able to come they have known for over 40 years. Even one of my mom's bridesmaids was able to come.

Of course my niece was a hit that night.

Doesn't my brother look like Will Sasso? It's creepy - they have the same mannerisms and everything!

My styling hubs and the dog.

SD needed a quiet place to read.

Dad at the end of the night. I just realized I did not get a photo of my parents together at their own party. In fact - I don't have one of my mother. Yikes!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Last Friday we were able to put $42 of mad money in our savings account. Total for the month so far, $110 and we are only half way through. Also, we have spent right around $20 on coffee. Normally by this time of the month we would be closer to $100. Cutting our grocery budget in half has actually been pretty easy and that has allowed for more money available for extra debt payments and savings.

I accomplished a few things around the house this weekend that I had wanted to do for a while. I finally made an outfit I bought fabric for last summer and I seeded the bare spots in my backyard. Now I just have to vigilant with watering for the next couple weeks so the grass will grow. I had planned to plant my topsy turvey as I thought they provided you with seeds but you actually have to buy a plant so I still have to do that. I think Roma tomatoes - yum!

An interesting development in the world of personal finance. My parents have offered us a loan. I heard low interest and my husband heard no interest. In any event, we would still have the debt but we would save money in a minimum payment every month. Our credit score will go up and our debt to income ratio will go down. We will be able to take advantage of the low interest rates right now and refinance our condo to get out from under the interest only loan. We still plan on paying the loan off earlier than the five year agreement but this will first allow us to sock some money away in savings for emergencies which is something we have not had in a while.

They also offered us a week of their time share so we can finally take a honeymoon vacation next year. We plan on going somewhere warm and we think aside from airfare and car rental we should be able to be pretty frugal on the trip as we will have a condo with a kitchen to cook in.

Need to hustle after work all week to get ready for a yard sale this weekend!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mystery Project

The weekend was spent relaxing and I did not get my mystery patio project started. I had budgeted $10 for this and discovered I may have everything I need at home which means no expense! I pulled together all of the items tonight so I can start working on it tomorrow.

What do you think I am going to do with six panels (two yards each) of silk sari fabric, a half dozen garden steaks and a handful of cup hooks? The photo above doesn't give the best representation of color. From top to bottom I have a dusty purple, turquoise, dark celery green, light celery green, midnight blue and pewter.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Starting in the month of June the paisley penguin household is going to tighten the belt another notch. We have already taken measures to save $109 in expenses every month. Now we are going to be very tight fisted with our weekly mad money. Whatever doesn't get spent gets transferred in to our savings account at the end of the week.

We started with $90 and tomorrow we will be transferring $68.

In the past two days I have been tempted four times. I would track categories of how much we were spending but after the past couple of days my eyes are really open to not only where its going but what brings about the wants.
  • Wednesday some co workers were going out for Greek food for lunch. If you know me even a little you know that I love Greek food. It was tempting to be social but I ate the lunch I brought with me.
  • Wednesday evening the hubs and I went down to the boardwalk in the cooler evening hours to walk the dog. On the way down I was craving ice cream. The hubs said we could stop on the way home and get some. On the way home I decided the ice cream would do nothing for my waistline and I would rather have the money in savings.
  • This morning I woke up with the beginnings of a headache (and no not from red wine, beer or vodka). On the way in to work we stopped at a grocery store so I could pick up some Excedrin Migraine as I didn't want it to escalate. On the way in to the store a woman was walking out with a nice big grande iced mocha. I wanted one so bad and did cave in to the chocolate craving by picking up a cliff bar for the hubs and I.
  • This evening the Seafair Pirate's were having a fund raising event at the Outback steakhouse. A friend and co worker of the hubs is a pirate and we really wanted to support him. I hope that next year we will be in a better position and this event is on our list of "things to do when we are debt free". We probably won't be 100% debt free but our credit card debt will probably be gone by this time next year.
Total we could have spent is probably $49. Before we would have done all of these things without question. After all, we were working our debt reduction plan. We were allowed to have some fun right? That is usually our reasoning behind the things we decide to do.

Tomorrow we start over with another $90. The hubs wants to go to the BMW picnic on Sunday and he will need a little gas which might be outside our gas budget. It will also cost him $10 to attend. I have a planned project for my patio that will require a few things but I think they will be pretty inexpensive. I am budgeting $10 for that. I meet my walking friend on Sunday morning and afterwards we go to Starbucks and I get a drink and breakfast then get the hubs a coffee before heading home. That will be another $10. If we don't go to Starbucks on Saturday then I think we should be able to put another $50 in savings next Friday.

Wish us luck!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Its June

Not much to post here for the day. work was crazy as it usually is on the first business day of the month. Check this blog post out though. It is one of my favorites and this post really hit a soft spot for me.