New Clothes For Me?

Recently in my weight-loss journey I have come to the point where my clothes are starting to be a bit too baggy. The majority of my dress slacks are pretty expensive because of my long legs (I’m not super tall – only 5’10.5” – but I have long legs – 36” inseam). For my good slacks I’ve spent ~$100 per pair, therefore, I’m not throwing these out. I will have them altered when the time is right. But when is the right time? That’s the dilemma that I am currently dealing with. I still need to keep my dress standards the same while at work, I like to look good even when I’m working in the lab. I looked at myself in the mirror while in the restroom at work and thought, “Girl, you look frumpy. Those clothes are too big.” I have worn this outfit before, but not since my weight loss has begun to show.

Some people would say, that now I should begin purchasing new clothes. The thing is, I still have at least another 20lbs to lose before I get to my real goal weight. Because of this, I don’t think buying new clothes is something I should be doing, at least not a significant amount of money on new. So, what do I do?

I went to my mother for advice, because she has recently lost a ton of weight. It was due primarily to a horrible reaction to the prescribed medicine that she had after her first knee replacement and her inability to eat anything for 2-3 weeks. She told me of her clothing transition due to weight loss. Her first suggestion is to get rid of the items that are too big, unless I plan to go back to that size. Hello, I have spent $100 on 1 pair of pants. I only take them to be dry cleaned and are meticulously taken care of….I’m not giving them away. I’ll have them altered, but not give them away.

The second thing she recommended, was to wear clothes that are supposed to be looser or straight. Things that have stretching possibilities. She said that I should purchase things that are not too pricey – things on the clearance or sale rack. I’ve thought about this a lot, looked in my closet to see what is in there that fits that description, and I think this is the route that I’m going to take. I’m going to wear more tunic dresses,

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the maxi and midi dresses that I own, leggings (if I can find shirts and more kimonos that appropriately cover my hips),

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skirts,

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and pants that have elastic waistbands.  I’m thinking I’ll look for the inexpensive items at Marshall’s, TJMaxx, Amazon, and even Meijer (don’t sleep on Meijer y’all, I’ve found some really cute skirts, maxi dresses, and shirts there).  I also have to keep in mind that I don’t want to get too many things, because I’m transitioning and may end up getting smaller than my current size (hopefully).

Wish me luck guys in my search.  My goal is to continue to keep myself classically trending while I slim down.  I welcome any advice you may have and I welcome all stories of someone else’s weight loss journey.  Until next time.

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Another Goal Part 2….Finances

Last week I talked to you about setting and keeping to a budget.  This week I’ll continue with my Financial goal discussion.  So, I’ve set up the budget planner.  Another thing I decided to fix was my credit card and medical bill debt.  I had a major surgery back in 2015.  This surgery was supposed to be a 24 hour thing.  I have the surgery and the next day I go home and recuperate for 6 weeks and go on with my life.  We calculated the cost of the surgery and how much my insurance would cover and what I would owe afterwards.  I paid the balance 3 days before I went in to surgery.  It turns out that major surgery that was supposed to be a 24 hour thing ended up being a REALLY MAJOR surgery that required an extra 3 hours in surgery, an extra surgeon and an extra 6 days in the hospital.  As a result the money that I paid to cover my balance was not enough and it ended up costing another $5000.  Oh yeah….they didn’t tell me about those additional charges until a year later.  I began making payments on that bill in March of 2017 and will probably finish up by March of 2020; unless I find a way to kill this.  I also spent some time with a physical therapist because of some back pain.  This turned out to be a ~$700 bill.  I tell you, I’m over medical bills. 

I can’t begin to tell you what my credit card debt is/was.  It’s not that it’s super high, I just hadn’t figured out what it is/was.  I was offered a line of credit with a low interest rate so I took the opportunity to figure out the bills that I could easily take care of with the line of credit and those that weren’t going anywhere anytime soon – car payment, student loans (yep, I still have them), a high interest credit line with an unreal balance (I don’t want to talk about it), and medical debt.  I then looked at the balance of my credit cards and calculated what my total monthly payments to those lines of credit were.  I then looked at what a monthly payment for the line of credit would be if I used it to pay off the credit card debt.  I could do it and have some money to spare.  There were a few things that I knew would be paid off in a year or less, so I didn’t include them in the credit card debt – these included a line of credit from Paypal and the medical bill from my surgery.  Looking back, I should have included the surgery bill balance.  I spend $129/month on that bill, I could have paid it off and the extra expense to my loan payment would have been less than $30.  I wasn’t thinking on that one and missed the ball; I was only looking at the total monthly payment and what it would be and not how much it would be saving.   I tell you I had regretted that decision almost everyday until about a week ago.  I hope to tell you about that, but I don’t want to get side tracked.  I’m talking abut paying off credit card debt right now.  I was approved for the loan, and I paid off 85% of my credit card debt in January.  I can’t tell you how freeing it was to get an email from CreditKarma each time something was paid off.  It made me so happy and proud.  I know you are wondering why I said 85% and not 100%.  There were a few bills that I made purchases on after I got the loan payment – 1) was because my husband returned some items that I purchased for him for Christmas and what he exchanged it for was more than what I spent, so I ended up paying more; 2) I wasn’t sure what the balance was going to be on a charge and I estimated incorrectly; and 3) Zulily ended up having a great deal on New Balance one event and I had been looking at New Balance sneakers as a replacement for my gym and walking shoes, they have a plan with their credit cards where you can pay it off in 3 payments and I opted for that option – I’ll have that paid off this month.  The others will be paid off in two months.  It sounds bad even as I write this, but I’m telling you, I’m not sliding down that slope.  It will be done.  I will be credit debt free by May.  

A quick note about my surgery bill.  I first have to tell you about my student loans.  I am paying that loan on an income based repayment plan that I have to resign up for every year around the same time.  At the end of the year, I filled out my paperwork and submitted it and waited to see if I was approved and what my payment would be.  I was totally nervous, because I truly couldn’t afford for it to go up any more.  I’m in pay off mode, I can’t add any extra!  I got a response back in January saying that I was approved, but it did not tell what the payment would be.  I kept going back to my account to see if they would tell me and I got nothing.  Finally last week and got an email saying that I was approved and my payment starting in March would be…….wait for it……$0.00.  WHAT!!!!!  Thank you Jesus!!!!  Won’t he do it!  I now had $195 that I had budgeted for that I no longer had to pay.  Before you thing think I’m going to use that money to go crazy every month, think again.  I’m in pay off mode.  I have decided, that I’m going to divide that money up three ways.  $100 will go towards my surgery bill (Yep!!!! I’ll explain it in a minute), $50 going towards the student loan principle, and $45 will go into savings.  The months that I’m short, I won’t make a student loan payment or savings deposit; but I will always make the extra surgery bill payment.  You want to know why?  Because by paying the extra $100 each month, I can pay off that bill by September.  I no longer regret not adding that bill to my pay off loan.  Because it would have been an extra $30/month for 3 years instead of being done with the bill completely in 6 months.  I tell you God has a plan for you; you can’t always or even most of the time see it, but if you trust Him, He won’t stir you wrong.  This entire pay off loan was God driven.  I had rejected the idea of this type of loan for over a year, but kept asking God to guide me in how to move forward with my finances.  This offer kept coming up and I kept deleting the email.  He started yelling at me to take this opportunity at the end of the year.  I had to move on what He was telling and I’m so glad I did. 

Ok, lets talk about my savings plan.  I have 3 savings accounts.  Yeah, you read that right, 3 savings accounts.  The first is my primary savings that get $5 auto deposited every Friday and any purchases I make with my debit card is rounded to the next dollar and the difference is deposited into the primary account.  The second account is actually the “checking” account for my dba.  I typically deposit $10 each pay period.  The final account I have is something that I started a couple of years ago.  It is based on the $.25 savings challenge.

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I usually double the amount because I use half of it for my daughters 529 College Savings plan that I deposit a certain amount every month, then deposit the remaining balance earned by the end of the year.  The first year that, I ended up spending those savings on my fur-baby Sasha Fierce, because of course there has to be some type of emergency that takes your savings when you’ve accomplished a milestone.  Sad smile  I started that savings all over again last year and was able to keep the savings intake (if I took from it, I put it back in asap). 

The primary savings account is used when I’m running low in my checking account.  I try to keep a minimum of $100 in there at all times.  Not to say that I only have $100 in there; I’m saying that when it gets low I move things around when I get to $100. 

I think the $45 from student loan that I’m going to put into savings I should alternate between my dba savings and my $.25 savings.  That way I can build up both of the accounts.  

So that’s the gist of my financial goals.  Like I mentioned in the previous post, I plan on checking in with you guys about the progression of my goals.  I hope that I remembered everything in my post.  I’m going to be honest, I started this on day and finished it on another.  Part two was started on the same day that part one was written, but was finished a couple days later.  Some of my thoughts may have been lost in the wayside.  Having said that, if you have a financial goal that you are working on this year, comment below.  It would be great to hear of someone else’s journey.  If you have a suggestion for something that you are doing that has worked for you, let me know.  I’m always open to suggestions.  Until next time.

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My Third Goal

This weeks post is going to focus on another goal that I set for myself this year – taking better control of my finances.

The first thing I should mention is that I have always established a budget and for the most part I follow it.  Scratch that, I have always kept track of what I needed to spend money on and how much money I have to spend.  I usually sit down to do that every week on payday.  I have written out a budget, but I don’t usually keep to it strictly.  I tend to pay very close attention to what I spend weekly, but never look at the month and how I did as a whole.  Does that make any sense?  Ok, this is what one of the sheets that I create every week on payday looks like.

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Part of my goal is to go from that, to using a monthly budget sheet, checking in weekly to see how I’m doing, and at the end of the month do a review and see where I’ve succeeded, where I’ve failed and how I can improve.  Additionally, I want to save more – save for my Babydoll’s education (I have a 529 Savings plan, but I need to add more to it), save for things I want to do in the future, save to have a nice emergency fund (a real one – the one they say you should have but most people don’t).  Finally, I would like to get my credit card and medical bill debt to be gone.  I just feel like a lot of my income goes to those two areas and it hinders me from saving and spending my money the way I want to.  This is the year that I have set the goal to establish a habit of budgeting effective and efficiently. 

I’ve been looking online, watching YouTube videos, looking at books all in a attempt on what could possibly work for me.  Something that I can do and stick to.  I need to also have a way to be made accountable.  I read that it is a good idea to have a financial buddy.  Someone that you sit down with every few months to go over what you have been doing, are you sticking to your budget, where you stand with your goal, etc.  The thing is, I don’t have anyone to do those things with.  I have friends that are either keeping track with their husbands, or they’re not keeping track.  You’re probably wondering why I don’t do it with my husband?  We discuss our household budget, this is my personal budget and financial goals.  I guess, I’ll use this blog to be my financial buddy.  You guys can keep me honest and accountable.  I’ll check in every few months and let you know what I’ve been up to, how I’m doing with my financial targets, where I’m succeeding and failing. 

I had started the new year (and the ending of last year) with a mini Happy Planner trying to establish it as my budget planner.  I couldn’t find the mini budget extension pack to save my life. So I went about trying to find another way to establish my monthly budget.  I used an Excel spreadsheet that I had used previously, but found I wasn’t recording my transactions until the next week that I needed to set the budget. 

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I had the large budget extension pack pages, and used that to keep a record of my daily transactions.  I got lazy and stopped writing down the transactions around the end of January.  I needed to do better.

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One day while at Hobby Lobby, I found these small budget sheets. 

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I liked the way they looked and decided to use them in my mini “budget planner”.  Of course I couldn’t figure out how to insert it in to an established planner layout.  I needed something different.  During a planner meetup, someone talked about her monthly Happy Planner.  I had been thinking that I wanted a monthly spread and then a place to write out my budget; then a place to review it all.  I have begun to watch Shay Budgets on YouTube and her Erin Condren planner that she uses as her budget planner was similar to what I wanted.  Research revealed that the monthly Happy Planner would work for me. 

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Last week, I went to JoAnn’s to see what if I could find a monthly planner and luck was on my side!  I found one and it was clearanced out for ~$8!  I set it up like this for the month. 

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I decided to keep the pages that I got from Hobby Lobby because I like the look of them. 

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I like that I can keep track of things monthly and weekly. 

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I’ve decided to look for the same pages in a larger version so that it will fit in my new planner.  I’m going to figure out how to use the “Daily To Do” and “Notes” pages.  I’m going to use the goal page and the progress update page. 

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Ok…this post has gotten long enough and I’m not through with all I’ve done and am going to do in this financial journey.  I’m going to continue next week with those things in my next post.  As usual, I welcome your comments and suggestions.  Until next week.

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Planner Spread 2/18/2019

Hello,

I hope that everyone is doing great so far this week.  We are expecting some snow overnight and I truly am not looking forward to it.  Anyway, below is my planner spread for this week.  I was feeling purple and flowers.  I guess with all the gloom of impending snow, I wanted to see something spring like. 

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I saw something on YouTube that is trending that I may attempt for next weeks spread.  Using bargain stickers.  We’ll see if I’m up for the challenge.  Until next time.  Have a great rest of your week.

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Madeira Cake Anyone…

Am I the only one that is late coming to The Great British Baking Show? I had been hearing people talk about it for about 6 months, but just didn’t take the time to check it out. Which is crazy in itself, because I love to bake, and this show is completely about baking. A few weeks ago, I went to Netflix, watched 1 episode and have been hooked. I’m not able to binge like most people because I live with people who liked to watch tv with me and unfortunately, they are not a fan of the show.

Anyway, watching this show has inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and make somethings that I have not tried before. For example, I’m going to try my hand at making some homemade crackers, making ice cream out of coconut milk, Opera cake – had never heard of it, but saw it and now I gotta make it, and I’m going to go back to making Trifles in the spring and summer. All these types of cakes, pies, tortes, trifles, and such had me attempting something new last weekend. Madeira Cake. A Madeira cake is defined as a cake with a firm yet light texture. It is eaten with tea or (occasionally) for breakfast and is traditionally flavored with lemon. I love lemon, so this seemed like this would “pop my panties”.

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I remembered a few things from the episode of British Baking Show where the Madeira cake was made.

1) the cake should have a dome shape with a crack,

2) there should be candied fruit on the top that is crisp, and

3) the cake should be light, but dense

I made this cake based on a recipe that I found online, but decided to make mine a lemon poppy seed version, because I had sad earlier in the week that I was going to make a lemon poppy seed cake for the weekend.

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I took a page from the show and measured my dry ingredients.  One of the ingredients that the recipe called for was castor sugar.  Castor sugar is a superfine version of regular sugar  that does not go as far as confectioner’s (or powdered) sugar.  I decided to pulse my sugar in my mini chopper to get a finer grain for this cake.  Caster sugar is supposed to be easier to emulsify with the butter.

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I didn’t candy as many lemon slices as the recipe called for because I knew my family wouldn’t eat it.

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But I wanted to attempt candying my fruit, so I know how for a future food project to make sure that I can do it the way that Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood said it needs to be done.

Did the final product have the three aforementioned requirements?

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It did have a slight dome and a crack on the top. My candied lemons were not super crisp, they had potential, but when I dropped them on a plate, they did not “clink”. The texture of the cake was dense, but light. I can’t explain that better than to say it was dense but light.

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The lemon flavor is very pronounced, but not in a tart way, it taste almost like P2110037the lemon smells. I wonder if that is because the syrup that was used to candy the lemon slices was brushed over the cake. I enjoyed the cake and will make it again. I want to branch out and make different flavors and also make the cake without the poppy seeds to see if the poppy seeds had anything to do with the denseness of the cake.

Have you made a Madeira cake? Have you tasted a Madeira cake? Comment below to tell me what about it.

Until next time,

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1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup castor sugar (225 g)

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2 ½ cups flour (300 g)

2 ½ tsp baking powder

Zest and juice of 1 ½ lemons

3 tbsp poppy seeds

Candied lemon ingredients

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup water

2 lemons sliced ~1/8-inch thick

Preheat oven to 350o. Prepare loaf pan. Combine and whisk flour, poppy seeds, and baking powder and put to the side. Cream butter, lemon zest, and sugar on medium high until it is light and fluffy, ~3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tbsp of flour mixture after each egg addition. Fold in remaining flour and then lemon juice.

Transfer batter to pan and bake for 1 hour or until toothpick (cake tester) comes out clean. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and complete cooling process on wire rack.

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Combine sugar and water. Bring it to a boil, then add lemons in single layer. Cook for 15 minutes, flipping half-way through. Remove from simple syrup and place on parchment lined baking sheet to allow them to dry.

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Weekly Spread 2/11/19

This week is the week of LOVE!!!  I hope everyone is feeling it.  It doesn’t have to come from a significant other, it came come from a parent, sibling, pet, friend, or a child.  With that in mind, here is my spread for the week.

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See you soon,

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Weekly Spread

First I want to tell you that this post was written last week, and I was going to put it out there around Wednesday, but something happened with the SD card and it became difficult to get the pictures off.  I finally got everything fixed and decided to post it anyway even though it is days late.  I’ll add this weeks spread soon.  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  SO, without further ado…..

This week marks the beginning of February – the month of hearts and love.  I decided to go with the pink this week. 

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I have to share an experience that I had over the past weekend.  I had been admiring the Elle Oh Elle stickers that I had seen all over the place but could never find in the stores that I had been going to for my stickers – Michaels and Joann.  I finally got a chance to ask a friend where she purchased hers.  Hobby Lobby.  I had been meaning to go to Hobby Lobby, but they are not located really close to my home, so the trip to that store had to be planned, oh and they’re closed on Sundays.  I finally got there and found the Elle Oh Elle items on the endcap, and the only had one book of stickers left.  The seal had been broken and I’m not a fan of any item that has been compromised.  But it was the only one and I made this trip specifically for those stickers.  I had to get it.  Something made me look at the side of the sticker book and it looked like something off.  It was. 

Someone had taken out pages of the book!  I mean really….who does that.  The book was $9.99 and it was on sale for 50% off.  Just buy the book!

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I found an employee and asked if there were anymore in the back.  There wasn’t. I did get a raincheck for when the next delivery came in and the manager did give me 75% off the janky one. 

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Hopefully I can make the trip this weekend and there will be books that have not been molested.  Wish me luck readers. 

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