Thursday, December 31, 2009

Budgeting Fun

Irv and I have really struggled financially during our 37 year marriage. With medical bills, raising 3 active kids, being unemployed and underemployed…we dug ourselves deep into debt. We got out a couple of times by refinancing our house but then crawled right back in again. We don’t want to refinance again at this stage of our lives and in this economy, so what option do we have? Only one…it’s time to tighten our belts and bite the bullet.

Let me say that Irv and I don’t live a luxurious life. We have a tiny house, don’t wear fancy clothes, don’t drive fancy cars, but we do live beyond our means at times, and that is a problem.

We have always had the mindset that if we need or want it and don’t have the money for it, we’ll just charge it and pay for it when the bill comes in. Well, we follow through on the first part and charge it, and then we never follow through on the second part of paying it off when the bill comes.

Doing that over the course of many years digs you into a great big debt hole and that is where we always seem to be. It isn’t that we can’t pay our bills, it’s tight, but we can pay them, it’s just that we seem to have more and more bills every year. We really haven’t charged much in this past year except for car repairs, tires and our new dryer, but it will take a long time to pay that off.

I’ve been working for a while on a budget…one where we truly set limits for our spending. We would take cash out for weekly expenses like food and gas on payday and leave the debit cards at home. Then if we need or want something and don’t have the cash for it…we will have to think about whether or not it’s something we have to have right now or not.

Debit cards are a great way to see where your money is going, but it’s also very easy to overspend…oh, it’s just a cup of coffee, or it’s just a pair of shoes, or it’s just some carryout….when you add that all up over the course of a month, you may have spent hundreds of dollars you didn’t really have.

The first thing I would like to do is to set a food/household budget. Irv and I tend to buy whatever we need/want. We have no idea what we’ve spent at the grocery store until we get to the checkout. It could be $120 or it could be $170. Then on top of that…every Friday and Saturday night we get carry out. Nothing expensive, but it’s still $25-$30 a week. Do we really need to spend that much on food and household supplies a week? I don’t think so. It's just the two of us for Pete's sake!

I think we should be able to keep it under $150 total. So, my thought is that we take $150 with us to the store, pay attention to what we are spending….then if there is anything left of the $150…that is what we have for our weekend carry out.

I love my carry out so you can be sure I will be paying close attention to what goes in that cart. I also read once that if people looked in their cabinets and freezer they could probably eat for a week or two without buying anything but perishables. Think you could do that? I think we could. What a great way to save some money. Plan your menu around what you already have on hand!

The other thing we need to look at is our personal spending…all of the little junk we spend our hard earned money on….but my head is spinning and my vision is blurred by little dollar signs right now so I think that is enough for today.

How do you keep your spending under control?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I don't make resolutions. I really never have. What I usually do is to make a with a purpose. I don't wait until December 31 to come up with a plan, I'm always thinking and planning.

Most people make resolutions like:

I am going to lose weight.
I am going to save money.
I am going to find a better job.
I am going to quit smoking.

If you asked those same people how they were going to do those things, most of them would shrug their shoulders and say they had no idea...and that is why resolutions don't always work.

Resolutions are nothing more than unguided goals, and unguided goals normally end up in the failure column. That is why I make plans. Plans work best if they have steps or mini goals within the plan or goal if you prefer.

One of my personal plans is to eat better. Without some kind of a would I start? How would I make that happen? How would I be successful?

I plan to eat better by creating a menu each week for my meals, buying the right foods to prepare those meals, preparing certain things in advance and packing as much of my lunch and snacks as I can the night before. I already started that this week.

One of my business plans is to keep better track of my etsy earnings and spending. I have already started the process. I am doing that by opening a separate checking account with debit cards for me and Irv, and a separate joint savings account for the business. Paypal money will go into my business checking or savings. Etsy expenses will come out of etsy earnings and not out of our personal accounts. All income and expenses will be recorded in a monthly ledger which will make taxes SO much easier!

Get the idea?

I don't know about you, but in order for me to have success, I have to have something to follow and I like it on paper.

I also plan to start exercising more. I am working on that plan right now. It goes hand-in-hand with another plan which is for ME to come first in my life. That means making the time to do yoga, pilates, weight lifting and walking. This is going to be a tough one for me, because I live for etsy and my workshop.....but in order to stay healthy and be able to enjoy what I do....I need this plan to be successful.

That means putting ME before etsy, my workshop, my blog, my e-mail and Facebook. Like I said, this is going to be a tough one, but I am of the mindset that I can do anything that I really want to do, so it will be fine. Plans can also be altered or fine-tuned...they aren't written in stone. If I find that I got in over my head, I can tone it down. If the plan was a snap, I can step it up a notch.

So, do you make resolutions? If so, do they work for you? If they do, what do you do to make that happen?

I know a lot of people wait for the New Year to change their attitude and their life...for me it's an ongoing process. I think it's important to go into every year, every month, every week and every day with a positive attitude and a feeling of hope. I try hard to do just that.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hi Ho Hi Ho

It's back to work I go! After a glorious six days off, I am headed off to work this morning. The nice thing is that I only have to work two days and then I am off for four more!! That's a big Chee Hoo!

It has been a wonderful break, filled with fun and family, and even a little etsy thrown in. I've been able to organize my etsy shop, FourDogDay a bit, organize my workshop a bit and organize my life a bit. What more can one ask for?

Work should be quiet with no kids or teachers. I have some enjoyable projects to work on and then it will be time to celebrate the coming of the new year. I have put a lot of thought into my plans for the upcoming year, and I will talk about that later this week.

Do you go out to celebrate New Years Eve? We use to go out. After we got tired of doing that, we use to get together at some one's house each year to celebrate. After years of doing that we started to stay home and watched the TV celebrations together. Now Irv can barely stay awake until 9:00 and I can barely make it past the 10:00 news.... much less midnight. I can usually manage if I keep myself busy, but Irv doesn't even get close. We'll see how we do this year.

I did get a new tote bag finished up today and listed in FourDogDay, and I also finished one of my new clocks. I used the same fabric for the clock as I did for the one I made for myself. Here is mine.

The fabric placement is different on the etsy one. I'll try to get that photographed as soon as I have some good lighting and get that listed as well.

Here is the tote. I love the new style and I love brown and pink together. I have other fabrics to make three more like this one, fabric to make quite a few clocks and even fabric to make some of my new envelope back pillow covers. Yes, I had fun at Joann's and on etsy over the break!

Well, it's time to get myself going. Make it an awesome day for yourself and I'll chat with you soon.

Monday, December 28, 2009

When Old Friends Part

Did you ever love something so much that even when it was really old and really ratty looking and in very, very bad shape and you even got a new one to replace the old one...that you still could not bear to throw it away?

These are my beloved old slippers. My old slippers have holes in the bottoms, there are holes on the tops where little bows use to be, they have little splats of paint of them and they are just plain old wore out....and yes, I was still wearing these on a daily basis.

These are the new slippers I asked for and received for Christmas. My new slippers are beautiful. They are blue and soft and comfy and clean.

I started wearing my new slippers on Saturday. My old slippers were laying on the floor of my workshop. I actually picked them up and put them on one of the shelves because I didn't want Maggie to get them and chew them up. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? Chew them up? Look at the things!

I must admit that being a person that loves to reuse old things, I've been looking at them trying to think of a way I might be able to use them for something, but nothing is coming to mind.

So, today I am going to dig deep and I am going to throw my old slippers in the garbage. It's going to be sad as it always is when old friends part, but I think I can do it.

Have you ever had something you just can't part with? Spill it....I need some encouragement today.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Black and White Plaid Hat and Mittens Part 2

This post won't require many words. You will be able to "see" the fun we had when our daughter-in-law opened her Black and White Plaid Hat and Mittens. If you don't know the whole story behind the hat and here. Tresa ended up buying the hat for Bernadette and Irv and I bought her the mittens.

Bernadette was so happy with her new hat and mittens that she happily posed for a photo. She wanted to be sure you could see the mittens so she held her hands like this.

Michael made fun of her holding her hands up like that....

So, then she tried a new pose....with her hands down.

Michael decided that he wanted to see how warm the hat was....

and he liked it...

a lot.....

apparently a whole bunch!

Matt checking out the ear vents....

One happy girl playing wii in her Black and White Plaid Bomber Hat!

I spent a lot of time in my etsy shop, FourDogDay yesterday setting up my BIG end of the year Clearance Sale. Today I am off to Joann Fabrics. I need fabric for my new line of spring tote bags. Hard to think about spring when we got this yesterday!

Have an awesome day today and I will chat with you soon!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Beautiful Holiday

In spite of Michael's basement flooding yesterday, dogs trying to rip each other's heads off, forgetting ingredients for the nacho dip, Michael not realizing the stores would be closed so he wouldn't be able to get the sandwich rolls and burnt Brussels sprouts....we had one heck of a wonderful day! I hope you did too.

Matt, Rebecca and Moki fixing breakfast
Michael got his flooding under control and was able to get to our house by dinner. The dogs loved each other one minute and were trying to kill each other the next. I somehow forgot the taco seasoning for the nacho dip, but Irv found some at Walgreens of all places, and bought some small dinner rolls that worked for the sandwiches and the Brussels sprouts.....well, lets just say...they were pretty ugly!

Rebecca and Moki
Like I have always said, I don't get stressed over things like that. The dog issue is a bit unnerving, just because I wouldn't want any one's dog to get hurt, but they seem to work things out themselves as dogs usually do.

Chris, Tresa and Moki
Rebecca's little dog, Moki is about the funniest little dog I have ever seen. If the big dogs even look at her the wrong way, or what she interprets as the wrong that little 3 pounder growls and snaps and the dogs back off like she was a big pit bull. We have had more laughs over her BIG attitude this week.

Rebecca and Sparky
On Christmas Eve when Rebecca's flight was due in, we just kept hoping that the weather would cooperate and she would get here on time. Well, her flight from Grand Junction to Denver was delayed and she missed her flight to Chicago!! Thanks goodness they had added a flight and she got in an hour later than expected. The plane was almost empty and she had 5 seats to herself!

Tresa refusing to smile for a picture
I have saved some pictures for other posts, but here are a few from Christmas at the Kroll's.

Moki the Magnificent

Matt unwillingly trying on Rebecca's new scarf

Nice fit
Bernadette and Michael keeping an eye on the wii scores

Have a wonderful rest of the day! Chat with you soon.

I'm Here!

I didn't fall asleep last night until about 3:00 a.m. and slept really really late....8:00 a.m. I have lots of pictures to upload and stories to write about, but right now....I am headed out into the snow to get some bagels and Starbucks!!

I'll be back a bit later!

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you! I hope you have a wonderful day today. Remember to smile, hug the ones you love...and maybe even the ones you don't never know... you just might make their day. I hope your day is filled with family, good food with lots of laughing and lots of love. Make it the best day ever and I will chat with you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Christmas Eve!!

I almost forgot to post the awesome stuff I got in a little gift exchange I did. It was organized by Angela of Pickles on Pizza fame. I was so excited when I opened my package from Creative Coquette at Foxy Monster! Some little birdie told her that I LOVE socks, and she sent me these! They are just so soft and so warm....I could live in them.

Then as if the socks weren't enough, she sent me this darling gingerbread girl necklace from her shop. It is so cute. I wore it to work the next day and got tons of compliments on it. Isn't it just the best?

So, here it is Christmas Eve. I am cleaning house this morning and then just chilling out. We normally stop by Irv's nephew's house on Christmas Eve, but we need to see if and when Rebecca's flight gets in. The weather is suppose to be horrific over much of the country today so we are playing it by ear.

Later this evening, we will be popping in some frozen pizzas that Irv will work his magic on and just enjoy each others company. Tomorrow it will be a full house....full of family, food, fun and DOGS!

Enjoy your day and if you are celebrating Christmas today....I hope it is the best ever!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

He's Home

Matt arrived at 9:00 last night. He drove 8 hours on Monday afternoon and evening to get himself over the mountains and a little past Denver. That left 14 hours for yesterday. He managed to beat the bad weather and his trip was uneventful....just the way mommy likes it.

There were some nice big hugs, we introduced Luna and Maggie, Matt had a bowl of vegetarian chili and then off he went to see his brother. He stayed overnight at Michael and Bernadette's house and was heading out this morning to do some shopping.

Irv and I both took today off. My plan is to put on some Christmas music and do some baking. The weather is suppose to be nasty, so I'm happy to stay inside. Irv has some shopping to do. Rebecca's (Matt's girlfriend) flight comes in at 3:00 p. m. tomorrow. We are hoping the weather will be okay by then. That will also mean one more dog introduction.

Smile, be grateful for all that you have, hug someone you love, enjoy your day and I will chat with you soon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Deck the Halls

Little note: Matt decided to leave Telluride early because of all of the nasty weather that was about to descend on Colorado, Iowa and Illinois. He drove through a blizzard coming home one year and it was not fun, so I think this was a very wise decision. He called last night when he stopped for the night and he has 14 hours to go! That means if all goes well....he will be home early this evening!!!!! Chee Hoo!

Here are the last of our special Christmas decorations....

This little beauty was made by one of the boys....not sure which one any more...the initials on the bottom are MK...which could be either. It's made from a plastic bottle covered with tissue paper. The face is drawn on and then he has cotton sticking out of the top of the bottle as the white on the end of his hat. He has definitely taken a beating over the years, but he's hanging in there.

This lovely clay snow man was made by Tresa in 1982. He weighs a ton and he's full of cracks....but with very careful handling...he could be around for a while yet.

And last, but definitely not least.....the famous and infamous "Blue Angel". What on earth was I thinking when I bought this tree topper....and yes, I really did buy it. I thought she was so the time. The kids loved her though and every year they took turns being lifted into the air by daddy to place the wonderful little angel on the top of the tree. It was such an honor. She no longer graces the top of the tree, but does still get the respect she so deserves with a spot on the living room shelf!

Now we just have a big, clear snowflake that I wire to the top of the tree. I've never been able to find something that I really like, but I keep looking. One day I will find it.

What tops your Christmas tree if you have one?

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Feel Like I Am Back In Kindergarten.....

and it's Show and Tell time!! Here is what I want to share with you today.....

Irv and I did a fine job at the grocery store on Sunday. We had to put one of the seats down in the Prius to get it all in! All I can say is that people better be very hungry when they are here.

Remember the cute little candle holders I bought at IKEA for 49 cents each? Here is what I did with some of them.

I LOVE hot chocolate in the winter. I bought some of the little individual packages and put them out on the table for whoever might want some this week. I also included goodies that Irv got as gifts last week....candied pecans, fudge and chocolate covered pretzels. I'll add some cookies when they are done and I will also put out some holiday tea bags and then people can just make want they want and enjoy....and I won't forget the FLUFF!

Here is what I did with all of the little old ornaments that I didn't hang on the tree. Bern already checked them all out when she was here Saturday. She loved the idea.

Many, many years ago we had some friends that lived across the street from us. They moved to Mississippi...but one year when they were out Christmas shopping they came across this hard cover book. It isn't one of those books you have made to include people's names....this is a honest to goodness book....and yes, Kroll is our last name! Isn't that awesome? I display it every year.

My shopping is done, the gifts are all wrapped, the house is clean and now all I can do is wait.......

Are you ready?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Preparations

Yesterday was a wonderful day. I started cleaning the house and when it was time to take a little break, I made some hot chocolate and an English Muffin, put on some Christmas music and watched the snow fall. Then it was back to work.

In the afternoon, Irv and Bernadette met at the local park to introduce their Aussie Teagan to our little Maggie on "neutral " ground. It went well. Four dogs familiar with each just two more to throw into the mix next week!

Bern wanted place mats for her dining room table. She found a tablecloth and napkins in the fabric she wanted, but no place mats. She didn't want a tablecloth, but the smart little girl bought it along with the napkins and decided to make her own. She brought the fabric over and we figured out what size she wanted and how many she could get out of the tablecloth. She left and headed over to the fabric store to get the fabric for the backs and the thread. She'll get it all washed and dried tonight and as soon as we can, we'll get together, get them cut and sewn. The fabric was awesome and they will look fantastic when she gets them done.

After that I sat and put the finishing touches on the menu for Friday's dinner. We will have eight people.....two are vegetarians and one is gluten coming up with something yummy for everyone is fun and challenging.

I ended up with pork roast, roasted new potatoes, cheese and potato pirogi from a great deli, a broccoli cheese casserole if I can find gluten free cream of mushroom soup....if not, broccoli with toasted garlic and hazelnuts, roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans and a wonderful green salad. I am hungry just thinking about it.

We'll have lots of snacks, and I'm going to get some packages of gourmet hot chocolate in a variety of flavors and a great big jar of marshmallow fluff!!

Today we will be buying baby food and other baby things to add to the bags for our local food pantry. Haven't bought that kind of stuff in about 26 years!

Matti and Luna will be leaving Telluride early Tuesday morning. He will stop somewhere for the night and then finish the journey on Wednesday. I can't wait for him to get here. His girlfriend, Rebecca, is flying in on Christmas Eve. We are hoping for good weather so her flight gets in on time. We'll pop some pizzas in the oven and chat the evening away......

Is anything better than this time of year? I don't think so.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Past

I went digging through pictures yesterday to find some of my older Christmas pictures. It's so much fun to look at how the kids changed from year to year. I showed some of them to Irv and he commented on how great those times were....when the kids were little....and Santa came during the night and left presents. Such fun! I thought I would share some of them with you.

Tresa three years old in 1977

Tresa and a pregnant mom decorating the tree in 1979Tresa and Michael 1980

Tresa, Michael and Matt 1983
Irv, Tresa and Michael in 1983
Awesome! Electronic Battleship. Michael 6 years old in 1986
Oooooo....a fire truck! Matt three years old in 1986
Matt putting his new dinos on daddy's head in 1987
Matt and My Pet MonsterTresa hugging daddy in 1990 when she got her "Letterman's Jacket"

Matt the ham in 1992 at the age of nine
Matt in a cool warm up suit...Junior High age

Michael and Tresa in 1993 ages 13 and 19Tresa and Michael (1995 maybe) ages 15 and 21
It's just the most awesome thing to look back at pictures. Each one brings back memories of things that were happening in their lives at that time, what they enjoyed, who their friends were and little things about their personalities. Thanks for coming along on my trip down Memory Lane.

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