Monday, August 19, 2019

School Shopping

Every year I wait for Maryland Tax Free week to buy the kids school clothes and for some reason, I waited until the last day to buy everything!  I'd like to remind myself, if reading this in the future, to please go out on the first day because Target was out of all but 2 pairs of pants for Sam and one had to be stripped off the mannequin!  The sad thing is, I update the school's blog so I knew about the tax free week well in advance, blogged about it twice, and still managed to go on the last day!

Also, a note about Target Ads, just because something is advertised doesn't mean you will get it taken off at the check out counter.  You need to have the Cartwheel app on your phone, select the item, and scan the bar code when checking out.  I had to return the set of pants and re-buy them to get the discount.  On the website, the discount is automatically applied. Sigh, still love ya Target!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Downtown House - Garden One Month Update

It's been one month since we laid grass seed, the cheapest way to get a green lawn.  I couldn't see buying sod for a small back yard.  We had to dig out all the concrete, sand and rock that was in there from past walk ways that extended far beyond what we wanted.  We are trying to put as little money into the yard as possible because there are other more priority items needed inside the house and elsewhere so we've re-used found stone, brought over stumps and white fence from my mom's house, painted an old ladder and bought a few select plants that we wanted.  The prior owner left 6 bags of mulch that we've used throughout.  We've spent a little more than $100 on plants and seeds.

I know we've bought at least 10 bags of dirt for approximately $1.80 per bag for 40lbs:
$1.80 x 10 = $18

The plants were 3 for $10 and we bought these:
* 2 Jalapeno's
* 3 Bell Peppers
* 2 Tomatoes
* 1 Acorn Squash
* 2 purple flowers
10 total = $33.3

2 bags of grass seed at $8.88 each = $17.76

3 hanging plants for $2.00 each = $6.00 (they were originally $24.95!!  We brought them back to full flowering within a few weeks of watering every day.)

3 packets of seeds = $10

1 fancy plant that's missing from the photos below = $16.85

3 mums = $5.00

1 lavender = $3.33 (it died already)

1 hanging plant = $3.33

1 violet plant = $3.33

2 free plants for doing work on the church property!

Lettuce - free from mom's garden

Total spent = $116.90

I've been working since March to get seedlings to take off but I've had very little luck, which is surprising because last year I used the same grow light and had great success with butternut squash, but it was in the basement of my mom's house and more humid so maybe that helped.

Here is a link to how the garden looked on May 25th. 

And now for current photos!







We've had the flamingo's and aloe plant since Florida and rubber tree and amaryllis for many years as well.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Downtown House - Garden

I needed something for my acorn squash to climb because I don't want it traveling all over the yard.  Pinterest suggested ladders, so I found an old rickety one that my dad used for years and repainted it!






This is how small the plant was when I finished the ladder end of May.

Now check out my acorn squash!  I've added a hanging plant for color until the acorn is ready to travel over the ladder.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Frugal Living - May Edition 2019

We really blew our budget in May!  Too many trips to Farm and Family along with Lowes for home improvement supplies.  I tell myself it's an investment into the resale of our home so chill out on the budget for a bit.  In all actuality it was more the trip to Luray that squeezed us tight but I don't care, we've worked very hard in other months to budget so it's fine to miss the mark on savings for one month.  We still follow our rule of paying all bills within the month so as long as that's followed I can rest easy at night.

One thing we'd like to look into is a pull along camper that sleeps six.  We've been talking about it for several years and we finally have a vehicle that can pull one.  We're getting tired of expensive hotels and still not having enough room to sleep six and with growing kids we are having a harder time finding rooms big enough; many hotels will advertise a suite but it's still too small for three beds.  I told husband whatever is not invested is free to use for a camper so he's on the hunt.  Let's see if he can manage to find something before our trip to Texas!

We think it will save us in the following areas:

  • Food - eating out is expensive and I can only pack so much in a cooler, which is cumbersome to drag into a hotel and ice down every morning which gets many foods soggy.  We are up to $60 at Cracker Barrel and $35 at most fast food places.  With three days on the road, we can easily spend several hundred dollars on food before we reach Texas.  
  • Hotel rooms are costing us over $100 per night, many campsites are half this price or less.
We think these areas might cost us more:

  • More gas in pulling a camper
  • It will probably take an extra day to reach Texas because we can't go as fast
  • We will probably need to fix up a used camper, hopefully not too much
  • There are always unseen costs with a new to us purchase
In addition I'm looking for more than savings.  I find it very stressful to take 4 kids into a hotel room after a full day of driving and expect them to stay quiet.  Hopefully they can let loose a little more with a camper, at least we're not sharing walls with another family.  We are also tired of taking a huge pile of stuff into a hotel, unloading, reloading the next day and doing it three days in a row.  

Not sure what stress may come with a camper but right now it sounds like a good transition for us.


Monday, May 27, 2019

The Natural Bridge, VA

The Natural Bridge does not involve much walking to get to the bridge, it's about a hundred stairs to get to the bottom and then a short walk to the bridge which you walk under.  I think for the cost it's worthwhile to take the entire hike to the end waterfall, even though it's very far away and not easy to see.  There is the Monacan Indian village along the way that has people doing various jobs who teach their craft.  We found that very interesting.  In total we walked 3.7 miles! 







Sunday, May 26, 2019

Luray Caverns, VA


My brother invited us to go with him to visit Luray Caverns.  We're both sure we went as kids but neither of us can remember it.  Our dad used to take us on lots of road trips so we remember the places we went regularly but memories are starting to fade.

One of the reasons I blog is for my kids to have a road map of their childhood - "Hi kids!", if you are reading this one day! 

Luray Caverns is quite a vacation destination for the area, they have several free museums and a really fun rope park.  Thankfully they have free parking and plenty of it!  We brought lunch and ate at the picnic tables before going in.  













We walked 3 miles!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Downtown House - Garden

Our backyard is a small square lot and I don't think it's been domesticated in many years, there was a path but it had overgrown so badly it needs reset in most places.  While digging up the mess of weeds that served as grass we found a toilet brush, bricks, glass, rebar, and tons of small bits of trash.  These photos are after a few weeks of clean up, I look forward to sharing photos after the grass comes in, fence rebuilt, and plants have grown more.

Our canoe is in the process of being patched, this area still has some home improvement supplies that need to be brought into the house, there is a dog house and a board covering holes in fence.  Once this area is cleaned up, husband plans to put in a shed in this back corner.


In this area, we've added 4 tomato plants along the fence, lettuce next to the gnome and there are ferns behind the mushroom ready to come up.  I'm not fond of the tire with pot in the middle so this will be removed soon.  


This area is our stairs to the basement so we need to get this cleaned up so we can actually use the stairs, but there is no shed to put the lawn equipment, and basement is full so hard to imagine putting things down there.  Most of this will go into the shed once it's built.


This is the area in front of the porch, we put stumps from mom's house to serve as shelves for my amaryllises.  We plan to plant grass in the dirt area.