Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mom's Day Out, Back to Back

Last week, Corey and I each received our new Fun Dollars on Monday. That night, he informed me that he was in need of someone to run an errand down to Scottsdale for him for work. He asked if I was up for it. I would have both kids with me and have never made the trip down to the valley alone with them both in tow. I assured him I would be up for the adventure.

After getting his very specific instructions, and double checking everything with him that he needed, I proactively packed the car for the trip the next day. After packing up all the snacks and loading both kids in the car we were off. Travelling down I17, heading south toward Phoenix, the was clear and beautiful. An hour and a half in the car, we landed at the oasis of Anthem, the Outlet Mall Mecca just on the outskirts of Phoenix. It has a giant food court, a play yard, shops, of course, and the best bathrooms a mom could ever ask for.

We made a potty and lunch break here. I brought the double stroller with me just for this pit stop. I proudly wheeled my two kids past other moms with children in their double strollers and headed for the luxurious bathrooms. Glistening pinkish tiles, a mother's lounge, and a deluxe changing station, complete with pink trash can awaited us. Carrick played with the toys in the mother's lounge while I nursed Lily.

After our fantastic potty break, we ate lunch in the food court. All three of us split a Lo Mien plate from the Chinese place. Sesame chicken with mixed veggies cost me $8.00 with tip (the guy was extra nice, so I gave a little love.) Next we went for a stroll just outside the food court to check out the sale at Carter's. The only thing that really made me want to part with Fun Dollars there was a pair of sunglasses for Carrick.

After spending about 20 minutes at the play yard, we packed up the car and headed for our destination, the Caspian Market in Scottsdale. I needed to find specific elements for the Persian New Year setting of Haft Seen, which includes dried fruit from the Lotus tree as just one of the seven items. Needless to say, I won't be able to find that at Safeway. The lady there was incredibly helpful. Carrick also wanted to buy a box of vanilla wafer cookies. He had the Fun Dollars, and I just helped him out with tax (which was only 45 cents, but we round our Fun Dollars to the next highest dollar, so I gave up a whole dollar for that.)

I also sprung for Wendy's frosties for Carrick and me on the way back home. Lily was asleep, so she missed out on that one.

The next day, I had scheduled on my calendar a girls' day out with a good friend I met through bellydance class. Neither of us take the class anymore, but we have remained friends. She had just gone through a lot of major life changes and I really wanted some one-on-one time to catch up with her. She lives in Clarkdale, a historic community about 15 miles from Sedona. We spent the day eating lunch, shopping in Old Town Clarkdale, and just hanging out talking in her garden. It was the most refreshed, rejuvenated and relaxed I have felt in a long time. I literally dropped Carrick off at school, spent the entire day with her, then picked Carrick back up from school. I so very much needed that, especially after taking both kids on a 5 hour trip the day before.

My afternoon of shopping found me the new owner of a cute yellow t-shirt with a phoenix on it as well as a pair of white leather gloves for driving. I know, it sounds old fashioned, but the summer sun can be BRUTAL on the tops of hand while driving in Arizona, even with sunscreen on. Also, the shop where I purchased these two items is the absolute cutest resale store I have ever set foot in. Vintage glam is about the only words I can use. Glitter, lace, rhinestones, and silk everywhere. Roses and delicate touches that brought out the most feminine feeling in me as I walked through the store. I was more than happy to spend $22.00 at this fine local shop.

Food at the Anthem Outlet Mall- $8.00
Sunglasses for Carrick at Carter's outlet-$5.00
Wendy's Frosties- $3.00
Help for Carrick's tax- $1.00
Shirt and Gloves at vintage resale store- $23.00

Balance this pay cycle- $0.00
Happy Spending!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Zero Dollar Activity

So, this is my last entry about my shopping spree at the Dollar Tree. It involves two things, a coloring book and a box of crayons. And with this purchase, I spent the very last of my Fun Dollars for two weeks, a record, just three days into the new pay cycle. (I am writing a little out of order here.)

So what am I to do without any Fun Dollars for the next 11 days? Zero Dollar Activities, like coloring with my son at the table, using the crayons I just bought him. Sometimes the best time we can spend together is doing Zero Dollar Activities. Coloring, walking, dancing, watching a movie in the family room, playing an actual board game are all examples of Zero Dollar Activities. They involve things that we already have, so we don't have to spend any money to do them.

A few favorites at the Sheridan house include Dance Parties and Evening Walks. Lately, we have taken to walking around the neighborhood after dark. We put coats on the kids and pull them around in the wagon. They each get a flashlight, and Corey and I have some uninterrupted adult time to just talk. We have had some amazing conversations lately.

The Dance Parties started back when Carrick was just beginning to walk. Corey came home one night and wanted to play this "really fun song" on youtube. Carrick, just starting to cruise the furniture started bouncing to "Boom Boom Pow". It later became the anthem for him and his best friend, as new toddlers, they would run in circles in the living room whenever it played. The one song turned into a request show of youtube videos (including "You Spin Me", 1980's version, which pretty much left everyone on the floor laughing hysterically.) The Saturday Night Dance Party became a regular thing when Carrick was about 2, and slowly faded away as Corey's work became more and more involving. But every once in a while, we will queue up the youtube videos and jam out.

And on this occasion of being out of Fun Dollars so early in the pay cycle, I took the opportunity to color with my son several times this week. He has been an artist on fire lately. He'll draw pages and pages filled with Angry Birds. He draws them in all different ways, telling stories about them as he marks the papers with lines and curves. So, when I saw an Angry Birds coloring book at the Dollar Tree, I couldn't pass it up. This kid jumped out of his skin when I gave it to him.

There are so many things we can do together that don't require us to spend any money. It's nice to be reminded of this fact. It is so easy to get caught up in the trappings of "I want" especially when there is money to be spent. But taking a step back and not spending money can give us a new perspective on spending.

Have your own dance party! 

Coloring book- $1.00
(Tax from all the Dollar Tree Purchases)- $2.00

Balance this pay cycle- $40.00

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Keeping Up Appearances

If there's one thing I take very seriously, it's my eyebrows, almost to the point of obsession. I tweeze, I shape, I pencil-in, I lotion, I trim. I don't know where it came from, but over the many years of wearing makeup, my eyebrows somehow became important.

And then I had kids. Children who chew on my eyebrow brushes, or walk around the house with my tweezers. This means that these items need to be replaced from time to time. And that time came when I was at Dollar Tree. A buck here for tweezers and a buck there for an eyebrow brush.  And while I'm at it, I may as well get an extra eye liner pencil for my purse. I have been putting on a lot of car makeup lately.

In that same vein of vanity, I also needed another hairbrush. Why spend $4.00 at Target when I can spend $1.00 at Dollar Tree? Walking down the beauty aisle I was reminded that my nail file was worn down and pedicure season is upon us. So I also sprung for a three pack of glitter-leopard nail files. That should last me for at least a year of pedicures. (I'm a DIY kinda girl when it comes to my toes.)

From personal appearance to domestic appearance: I bought two squirty bottles to use for cleaning purposes, a pink one for me and a blue one for Carrick. One of his favorite things to do while I am cleaning is to spray and wipe the windows on the patio door. He actually gets them clean, so I really want to encourage this behavior. Since I only had one squirt bottle, it made cleaning up time a little difficult, running back and forth, sharing it. Then recently, the squirt bottle I had stopped spraying. I think there might have been a one-year-old involved (don't worry, I only clean with lemons and vinegar in my squirt bottles.)

And as for the appearances of my children, they have finally reached a place with their wardrobes that they need to hang up their clothes. Lily has dresses that will just get wrinkly if I try to keep them in her drawers. Carrick is so big that his clothes don't all fit in his drawers. Gone are the days when I could cram ten outfits in one drawer. Hello, 5T! So, I bought three packages of kids hangers, blue for Carrick, pink for Lily and white for either.

Brow Pencil-$1.00
Brow Brush-$1.00
Eyeliner- $1.00
Nail files-$1.00
Hair brush-$1.00
Squirt Bottles- $2.00
Hangers- $3.00

Balance this pay cycle- $44.00

Happy Spending!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Easter Surprise

When I was growing up, my sister and I were the daughters of the Rev. Randy Robinson, the Pastor at the United Methodist Church in Camp Point, IL. Camp Point was a town of 1200 back then. We had no Mc Donald's, no stop light, and we shared a school with 6 other towns. There were 4 churches within the city limits of Camp Point, and almost everyone in town attended one of them. We're talking Heart of America, Old-fashioned values community. Oh, and everyone was related too. (Still are.) It was a quaint and idyllic childhood...except on Easter Sunday.

Every year, it was tradition that dad would take his girls shopping for an Easter Outfit, for as long as I can remember. After all, we were the preacher's kids, we had to look good on high holidays. He would take us out to Bergner's or JCPenny's to buy us each a dress, hat, shoes, tights, gloves and even purses. (Once we had our ears pierced there was jewelry involved as well.) But as the pastor, he supported his family on a pastor's salary, which meant that our clothes were our Easter presents. We would still get some eggs filled with candy to hunt for, and a hollow chocolate bunny, but that was the extent of it.

Like the bunny, I felt hollow every year as a child, walking into the Sunday morning song time before Sunday School on Easter Sunday. (Song Time is where the kids chatted and caught up on their week before singing songs like "Father Abraham" and "Jesus Loves Me"). It was during this time that I endured listening to all the other kids talk about their giant Easter baskets, filled with goodies. It was like Christmas painted pastel.

Poor Easter Bunny! With no sleigh to hold all those presents, I don't know how he could compete with Santa! But in my small town, there must have been some kind of wierd spacetime vortex that allowed the Easter Bunny to haul all the stuff that all the other kids woke up to on Easter Sunday. And as a child, I swore that I would not make my children go through the embarassment and torture of not having extravagant Easter Presents.

But the difference between being nine and thirty-two is remarkable. The wisdom and insight we gain as we become adults shapes who we are, leaving our past behind us. Some whispers of childhood guide our decisions, and others are lost in the time that passes.

This year, I have the two children (that I always planned on having, just two). My youngest is old enough to participate (on the most basic level) in an Easter Egg hunt, as well as open "presents" in her very own Easter Basket. As I walked into Dollar Tree this week, all those long-lost memories of my childhood came rushing back. And instead of feeling bitter towards my parents for not spending a small fortune on Easter, I was filled with joy at the opportunity to spend my Fun Dollars on my own kids.

I didn't go all-out, but I did drop $12.00 of Fun from my own pocket. Carrick already has an Easter Basket from last year (which we snagged for less than a dollar at a garage sale with his own Fun Dollars.) I bought Lily an Easter basket, a hat to go with her Easter Dress, grass for the bottoms of their baskets, couple packages of eggs and some candy to fill them with, a jump rope for Carrick's basket, and two glitter-light-up balls (my kids love those.) Also, for nostalgia's sake, I bought them each their own hollow chocolate Bunny. Some things never change.

Easter Presents/baskets,etc at Dollar Tree- $12.00
Balance this pay cycle- $54.00

Happy Spending!

Friday, March 21, 2014

In the Garden

Okay, I have a confession to make. As of Wednesday of this week, a new week of Fun Dollars, I have officially spent every single Fun Dollar for this pay cycle. Yes, all 100 of my Fun Dollars are gone. I think that's a record for how quickly I have spent them. How did this happen? Quite intentionally, actually. I went on my "date" with Corey, took a trip to Scottsdale (also for Corey), and had a Mom's Day Out planned with a friend. All of these happened three days in a row, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Part of my spending on Wednesday included a trip to the Dollar Tree in Cottonwood. (I know, insert eye roll here. How many Fun Dollars did I blow on dollar items?) I usually don't even step foot in dollar stores for that very reason. Dollar stores are like my fast food Achilles Heel. I have to really monitor my spending otherwise it can just go hog wild. The reason I found myself even in a dollar store was to find something Corey needed for work.

Lily was asleep, Carrick was at school, and I was free to wander the aisles of Dollar Tree at my leisure. I had $28 Fun Dollars left in my wallet. My total came to 27 and change. Literally, I spent my last dollar. But, I had no regrets. Until I went into that store, I didn't realize just how many little things I needed. (And a few things I bought were "wants".)

One of my Fun Dollars bought me a quality pair of gardening gloves. They had elastic at the wrists so that they stay put, a water proof coating on the fingers, as well as a cutie design. On my list of things to do with the kids this week was transplant the sprouts that were big enough out of the egg carton I started them in and put them into bigger containers. The weather here still gets cold at night, so I wasn't ready to put them into the outside beds yet. Maybe in a month or so.

Yesterday, I donned my dollar gardening gloves and let the kids dig in the dirt outside. I happily replanted my little sproutlings, as well as some plants my friend gave me on my Mom's Day Out. I had saved tubs and containers for exactly this purpose. The only thing that I had to buy for my project was the gloves. It was a Fun Dollar very well spent. The kids got dirty and I quite enjoyed myself.

The transplanted sprouts are now growing happily in our bathroom window. It's high up so that Lily won't get into them, it gets extra moisture from the bath tub, and stays warmer because that's also where our bets fish lives, so we keep a small space heater on. My efforts will be rewarded later this season when we harvest what our sprouts have produced. Sometimes, a little Fun Dollar goes a long way.

Gloves at Dollar Tree- $1.00
Balance this Pay cycle- $66.00

Happy Spending!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Still Dating

Mondays are a pseudo work day for Corey. He technically has them off, but since the rest of the working world has this day as the start to the work week, Corey often finds himself handling small matters of business. He might go in to the office for a couple of hours, make some important phone calls, work on the schedule and send some emails. This type of behavior used to bother me. I would get so upset that he would work on his day off. But after 5 years of this off and on work day/off day, I have become accustomed to it. In fact, I welcome it most Mondays.

Mondays had been my "Attack on the House" day. After a weekend at home, the place is usually untidy enough to drive me to action. So I would take the entire day, working from one end of the house to the other, picking up and putting away. This would make the house more pleasant to be in for the rest of the week as well as easier to clean (a different activity from tidying.)

This past Monday, Corey did go into the office and attend a short meeting and was home by 11. I was able to put away laundry and (thanks to our super-cheap cleaning lady, I had a clean house lying just beneath a layer of weekend toys. So by the time Corey returned home, Lily was down for a nap, Carrick was at school, and the grown ups got to go to the middle room for a "date."

Afterwards, I suggested we make it a real date and go out for lunch. He asked, "Who's paying?" and I replied, "My Treat." We went to Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen where my best friend, Niccole works. I love going there and chatting with her when she's on a shift. I usually order a lunch combo when I eat at Picazzo's. I get a slice of Puttanesca (artichokes, olives, feta and tomatoes topped with shredded basil. It's basically a Greek salad in a pizza crust. It's heavenly!) The combo comes with salad and a drink. We skipped the salad and just ordered a medium Puttanesca, because one slice would not be enough! The price of getting two combos is equal to the price of a medium pizza anyway.

Even though Corey had to spend part of lunch on the phone handling business matters, I was still on cloud nine that I was out to eat (even with just one kiddo in tow, it felt like a date) with Corey. We take every opportunity we can get to hang out together. After almost 10 years of marriage, it is still the little things that make all the difference, as well as a few Fun Dollars.

Lunch at Picazzo's (with tip)-$33.00
Balance this pay cycle- $67.00

Happy Spending!

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Where Does the Money Come From?"

It has to come from somewhere. I'm not talking about the paycheck itself. I'm talking about what we spend. (From here on out, I am talking just about the Sheridan house hold.) Back in the old days, before Fun Dollars, that was Corey's most used phrase, "Where does the Money come from?" meaning, "What part of our family budget is going to cover this expense?"

In our family, we have a general idea of our monthly expenses, and a specific budget for other expenses. For our general purpose spending (Necessities), like gas, utilities, phones, insurance, mortgage, we have a set amount that we know we are going to spend each month. Each week, separate from our necessities budget, we set aside $200.00 for groceries. We also have a monthly deduction that is automatic from our main account that goes into our childrens' savings accounts. When it's all said and done, we spend about $5000.00 a month as a family. Since Corey is the only one working, and we have such high expenses, I feel very strongly about honoring our family budget.

So recently, I asked the question back to Corey, "where does the money come from?" His iPad screen shattered a few weeks ago. Purchasing a new portable electronic device to replace it has been on his list of things to do.  It is also an added cost over what we normally spend. However, at his job, he made his monthly goal for sales in February. This meant that he won a chance to "spin the wheel" at the company meeting. Every month, the salespeople who make their goals put their names into a hat and one person is drawn out. That person gets to spin the prize wheel. In years past, Corey has won such things as $1000 cash and white water rafting in the Grand Canyon. One guy won a trip to Hawaii. (Pretty sweet.) So when Corey spun the wheel, guess what he won? $700 towards a new laptop/iPad!

While searching online for his replacement, he reviewed and checked and double checked many sites and sources. The replacement that he came up with (that fulfills all of his computing needs) cost almost double what the prize would cover. I asked him the question, "where does the money come from?" He answered, "This is two months of car payment that we no longer have to pay." Ok, I can roll with that.

We just paid off our second car (Corey's car). So that frees up about $350 each month. Since we are no longer paying that out, that money that we were used to "not having" because we were paying it can go towards something else. That's where his laptop money came from, still honoring our family budget.

So where am I going with all of this? Some of you might have noticed a discrepancy between this blog and my facebook page. Yesterday, I posted about my trip to Out of Africa Wildlife Park with my two children. Meanwhile, my blog had only $5.00 remaining for the balance this pay cycle. How can that have funded a trip that cost about $65.00? Where did the money come from?

Preschool. I asked Corey at our family meeting last week if we could use Carrick's preschool tuition for the week to fund a trip to Out of Africa over Spring Break. Some of my mom friends were planning a group outing while the kids are out of school. I wanted to honor our family budget, but also, I really wanted to take the kids to Out of Africa when some of their friends (and mine) would be there too. So, we found a way to make that happen, without spending anything extra out of what we are used to spending. The money has to come from somewhere.

Out of Africa (tips towards transportation and lunch)- $5.00

Balance this pay cycle- $0.00

Happy Spending!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Saturday Lunch With the Girls

Every Saturday morning, I wake up, eat breakfast, get the kids ready and head out for what I know will be an awesome day. Not that all my days aren't awesome, Saturdays are extra awesome. What makes Saturdays so amazing? Friends. On Saturdays, I get to hang out with my friends while Carrick is at gymnastics.

He has class from 10-11. While he is in the gym learning how to do backwards rolls and cartwheels, I am out on the patio with Lily and my mama friends. Some of the girls bring both kids, so there are little ones toddling around and playing while we chat and catch up with one another. If we stay inside to watch the class, the younger kids want to join the class with their older brothers and sisters.

After the hour of class is over, I have the best part of my Saturday right around the corner, Open Gym. Open Gym is a two-hour supervised  free-for-all at the gymnastics center. The icing on the cake is that the parents can leave!!! So us moms go out to eat lunch together.

It has become a standing ritual for us mamas to go out to eat lunch during Open Gym. We don't do it every week, but any time there are three or more of us staying for Open Gym, we make a point to go out to lunch. This is where a good chunk of my Fun Dollars has gone lately, and I am totally ok with that. It's not just another dinner that I didn't want to make, or a quick-fix fast-food lunch. It's quality time with ladies that I truly enjoy being with, my friends. It's given me a chance to really embrace where I live and who I know. I feel like part of something. It's a simple thing, eating lunch, but it really means so much to me.

Alas, our time with Gymnastics is coming to a close. The class runs for 8 weeks, and we are approaching week 7 this Saturday. Not only that, but we will be skipping gymnastics to attend the ever-festive St. Patrick's Day Parade in Sedona. So the week after next will be our last time. After that, I don't think I'll sign Carrick up for another session. We'll pursue something else for him to engage in. I might do the occasional drop-in for Open Gym, but our Saturdays will be filling up with other activities. But I digress... back to the Fun part of spending Fun Dollars.

This last Saturday, the moms headed up the hill to the Ghost Town-turned tourist/artist community of Jerome. If you haven't had the pleasure of experiencing Jerome, think of a typical wild west town, then perch it on a hill a mile above sea level. Add in the narrow streets of a European sea port, and you've got Jerome. For lunch, we ate at the restaurant where I used to work, Grapes. Grapes is names for the massive wine list that is the heart of the establishment. A curiously small bistro, Grapes has amazing food and the best views. We can look out on the Verde Valley and even over the ridge to the San Fransisco Peaks in Flagstaff, 60+ miles away. Talk about stimulating the senses, this place has it all; aromas wafting from the kitchen, taste buds tingling with the mojito and stuffed portabella I had for lunch, and incredible sights from the patio.

As a bonus, the patio was completely empty when we sat down. It is fenced in so the two one-year-olds who were along for the feast got to toddle around without bothering anyone. (Even the people that sat down halfway through our lunch thought they were too cute for words, so bothering still wasn't an issue. It can be tough eating out with a one-year-old, not to mention two of them. They feed off each other.)

At the end of our lunch, we raced back down the hill and across Cottonwood to pick up our kids from Open Gym. Yet another fun Saturday with the Girls.

Lunch at Grapes (tip included)- $21.00
Open Gym- $5.00

Balance this pay cycle- $5.00

Happy Spending!

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Little Things

Last week, I found myself in need of snacks while out and about. I don't like spending my Fun Dollars on snacks, but that is what they are there for. We are given our Fun Dollars so that we are not spending cash out of our general account for "Little Things" because the little things add up quickly. It's when we think, "Oh, it's just a couple of dollars at the gas station for a granola bar and an energy drink," that we actually end up spending more than what is budgeted for those things. So, it's a nice little reminder of why we do Fun Dollars in the first place when I do have those moments of  "weakness" and buy snacks. We do Fun Dollars, so that we are guaranteed not to exceed a given amount for those little things.

Last week, my Little Things list included:

-2 bags of Sun Chips @ Circle K
-Fountain drink (Dr. Pepper/Cocca-Cola mix for those of you who were wondering what my poison of choice is.) @ Circle K
-2 Odwalla bars @ Safeway
- Coconut water @ Safeway
- $1.00 to Carrick to cover the tax on one of his Fun Dollars purchases @ Goodwill

My total spent on these items was a whopping $9.00

Balance this Pay Cycle- $31.00

Happy Spending!

Sensory Stimulation at Safeway

At Safeway last week, I already had it in mind that I wanted to buy flowers with my Fun Dollars this pay cycle. We were set to have dinner guests later in the week, and I thought it would be a nice touch to the table to have some pretties on it. I had Carrick come with me to the floral department. Every week, when we walk by the flowers he asks me, "Mommy, do you want some flowers?" and many weeks, I tell, him, "Yes, I would, but I don't have my Fun Dollars." It's one of the sweeter interactions we get to share as mother and son. We will walk around the flower display, and he'll name the colors he sees, and I tell him what kind of flower it is.

But this week, I got to take him with me and actually pick out some flowers. I told him he could pick out any flower he wanted for mommy to buy with her Fun Dollars. He chose a bouquet of lilac-pink carnations. After returning home, I added some baby's breath from a birthday bouquet that was still good.

On the way out, my reactionary buying kicked in. DARN THOSE GIRL SCOUTS!!!!! It wasn't just any Girl Scout, either. The little girl camping out in front of Safeway, waiting to ambush innocent cookie lovers, is in Carrick's preschool class. She is super cute, and she says hi to me almost every day when I drop him off. So, of course I bought Girl Scout Cookies from her. She only had two of my three favorites left, Samoas and Tag-a-longs. I bought a box of each. I think the lowest point in my week last week was sitting down at the computer and eating half the box by myself, just because I could. No kids around to share with. It wasn't as awesome as I hoped it would be. THANK GOODNESS Girl Scout Cookie season is over.

Oh yes, I also bought pinwheels for the kids to play with while we grocery shopped. They were $2.00 each. Normally I don't buy stuff like that, but Lily was so enthralled with them and it kept her quiet. So, I bought one for Carrick and Lily. They now enjoy taking their pinwheels in the wagon when we go on our evening walks. Such simple pleasures.

Flowers and pinwheels at Safeway- $12.00
Girl Scout Cookies-$8.00

Balance this Pay Cycle- $40.00

Happy Spending!

Friday, March 7, 2014

So Good I Can Taste It

Despite my best efforts to be proactive in the kitchen, I still wanted to go to Plaza Bonita Wednesday night. I thought to myself during Lily's morning nap, "I'm going to be proactive and cut up the vegetables for tonight's  green curry stir fry while she's alseep." I did. I even organized the fridge with our left over rice and asparagus that would go along with it. I put the fresh veggies in a mixing bowl with the lid on and put all the components for the night's dinner next to each other in the fridge. I did the dishes so the counter tops would be cleaned off for cooking and the right pans would be clean and ready to go. I did all of this with no kiddo distractions. It also provided me extra time after school to take the kids to the playground. I was feeling like Supermom. Until we headed home.

I mused to Carrick in the backseat as we drove home from his school, leaving the sandbox and swings behind us, "Why do I want cheese dip?" He replies from the back seat, "Because you want Casa Bonita!" He still calls it "Casa" Bonita, even though the name has changed to "Plaza" Bonita. I said, "You're right! Do you think daddy will want to go there too?" Of course it was a resounding "Yes!" followed by a prolific monologue about what he would order, what we would order, and what would happen while we were there. Such is the way of a five-year-old.

I called my hubby at work and we confirmed a dinner date with the kids at Casa Bonita, even after I told him about how I planned ahead and had dinner all prepped and in the fridge. We couldn't argue with our appetites, Mexican was preferred over Thai.

I was in the mood to splurge. Chicken Fundido is my "usual", and really the reason I go to Plaza Bonita. Shredded chicken wrapped in a tortilla and fried, topped with sour cream cheese mixture and topped with melted cheddar. It's what I eat when I want some calories and cholesterol. It's so not a healthy thing to eat, but it's my go-to when I want something that isn't veggies and lean meat. With three of these grease-laden morsels on the plate, there is more than enough for me, Carrick, and one for leftovers, which I count on. The platter also comes with rice topped with a pork "sauce" which Corey loves, and he gives his rice and beans to Carrick. So we all play a game musical plates in which we swap and share with each other and we all end up with more than we can eat for dinner. Lily was quite content to sit on my lap and pick off my plate.


Corey and I also split a Patron Margarita on special, as well as a Mai Tai. We both wanted one more drink, but we still had to drive home and be responsible with our alcohol. so we decided to buy some sour mix from the restaurant, and get our own tequila next door at Basha's. $57.00 on dinner, with tip, and $3.00 for sour mix meant that my half was $30.00. I set aside $27.00 for dinner, so I was right around my budget for the night. I gave  Corey $10.00 for tequila. What kind you ask? Ever since we worked at Elote, our brand has been Hornitos Reposado.  


So we headed home, bellies full, doggie bag and tequila in tow. What a fun evening with the family, and no one had to clean up dinner.

Dinner, Drinks and tip at Plaza Bonita- $27.00
Hornitos Reposado at Basha's-$10.00

Balance this pay cycle- $60.00

Happy Spending!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Sound of Fun Dollars

Nothing, and I mean nothing makes me happier than listening to Mozart in the background of my day. Way back when as a college freshmen, I bought a CD called, "Mozart for the Mind." I listened to it during my study times. Not sure if it did much for me other than keep me focused, but the songs have been in the background of my life for 14 years now. Since then, I have purchased Mozart at Midnight, Mozart for Monday Mornings as well as a $9.99 boxed set at Wal-Mart. You'd think I'd have enough Mozart right? Well, that would be the case if I had access to my old hard drive.

 About a year and a half ago, our hard drive fizzled on our main computer. We were not smart about backing things up, so all of my music and all of Carrick's baby pictures were almost lost. Staples was able to save the data some how, but to retrieve it, we need to buy an external hard drive, as well as a tower to plug it into. Instead of getting those components, Corey and I each got portable devices, I have an Acer Netbook, and he has an ipad (with a cracked screen now, which means he needs a new one....)

Anyway, I still have the CD for Mozart for the Mind, and only two selections three selections are scratched beyond listening condition. Mozart for Monday Mornings only has four or five tracks that are playable all the way through, and who knows where my Mozart for Midnight CD wandered off to. The Boxed set was trashed a long time ago when Carrick was new to walking and grabbing things. I have sufficed with my Pandora station of classical music, but what I really want in an extensive Mozart playlist.

I found that playlist in the form of an mp3 download from Amazon yesterday; 100 songs to the tune of $2.39! I read the reviews of several extensive Mozart-only downloads and decided that Rise of the Modern Masters: Supreme Classical Masterpieces was the one for me. I absolutely love it! It has the complete works that my other CDs only featured one movement from. I can mix and match the songs into playlists, like "Slow Mozart" for going to bed, or "Morning Mozart" which is more peppy. Right now I am working on a playlist for Carrick called, "Baby Mozart". He enjoys the songs he recognizes from the Baby Einstein video of Baby Mozart.

Mozart - 100 Supreme Classical Masterpieces: Rise of the Masters

Happy ears, Happy home. The kids played for an hour while this music softly created a background for their imaginations. I am very happy with this Fun Dollars Purchase.

Mozart Download on $3.00

Balance this pay cycle- $97.00

Happy Spending!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Feast for the Senses

I rather enjoyed spending with intention on the last pay cycle. Having a purpose, a goal, and a plan encouraged me throughout the two week period to really consider where my money was going. As I looked back at my on going wish list, I found an interesting trend. Each item on the list is a sensory-related thing. For example, I have been wanting to go out to eat at the restaurant where my best friend works. I see her less often than I'd like, and surprising her at work to say hello would be fun. Not to mention, they have the best organic salads in town. I also added to my wish list "music". I have been listening to the same Pandora stations at home and the same CD's in the car. I need to mix it up a little. Also, there is a new tea shop in town that I drive by almost every day. I just want to go in there and smell all their teas, sample something and take one home that really entices me. And speaking of smells, all my candles are officially burnt down to a stub. I think a Friday trip to Bell's Outlet is in order.

Taste, sound, and smell. Stimulate the senses. I think touch and sight will come later, perhaps next week. I'll start with the things I am certain about, things on the wish list. Let the sensory feast begin!

Happy Spending!

Monday, March 3, 2014


With $4.00 Fun Dollars in my wallet, I bought snacks for Lily and me. We were out shopping later last week using birthday money and a gift certificate (also from my birthday.) Looking back, I think that was the most successful pay cycle of Fun Dollars I have experienced yet this year. I somehow managed to not spend  dime on fast food or alcohol. (The occasional bottle of wine comes through every so often.)

This time around, there was food purchased, yes, but it was thought out and not reactionary food. I knew we would be out shopping and knowing that, I set myself up to grab snacks at places other than fast food joints. Our last food purchase was at Natural Grocers. I tried out the seaweed "chips" and also bought a coconut water for myself. For Lily, I bought a mini bag of animal crackers.

I am very pleased with how this pay cycle went. It is a very rare occurrence that I succeed in NOT purchasing fast food, but I did it! Being proactive, thinking ahead, acting and not reacting played a big part. Beginning with the end in mind, knowing what I wanted out of my day and my shopping experiences also helped. And finally, putting first things first, prioritizing, and buying what was on my lists and sticking to it sealed the deal. No fast food, and I had more money in my pocket.

I hope that whomever is reading this was able to take something useful away from this little glimpse into the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. There are many more facets to what I discussed here. I only touched on the points that apply to my Fun Dollar experience. I encourage each and every one of you to pick up a copy and see for yourself what these Seven Habits are and how they might transform your world, money, communication, personal issues, whatever. Thank you so much for joining me on my journey in spending.

Snack at Natural Grocers- $4.00

Balance this pay cycle- $0.00

Happy Spending!