Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dollars and Sense

For those of you unaware, my days are spent doing accounting. I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a numbers nerd. Everyone has different talents, and math/numbers have always been one of mine. Back in 2010, my company switched our pay periods from semi-monthly to bi-weekly. As this was a change in the timing of my money coming in, this caused a change of when my money could go out. After saying we needed one for the longest time, this change made it necessary for us to suck it up and grudgingly create a budget.

I was hesitant to create a budget. One reason was I was scared to see where our money was going. That was intelligent, no? The other reason was that I truly didn’t want to be limited. Smart, right? But going from Zach and I getting paid on the same days, to having 4 different pay periods per month, a major purpose of the budget was so that I would know in what pay periods to pay our different bills.
I didn’t know where I wanted to start but once I got going, I actually LIKED the budget. Can you believe it? I had to modify it for a few months to get it where I wanted it. At the beginning of 2011, we participated in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Since we had already prepared our budget, we had that part of class easier than most. I kept hearing people say they didn’t know where to start or how to do it or keep it up.

We didn’t have a lot of debt, fortunately, but we did have some medical bills from kids, car payments and a student loan from my Master’s degree. Since this class and the use of the budget, we’ve been able to pay off a significant amount of debt. The only remaining debt we currently have is our home and Zach’s truck. I feel as though our use of a budget enabled us to make these changes and reduce this debt.

I’ve blogged about our recent stint of doing a “no spend month”. We drastically reduced our budget, and surprisingly, we haven’t found it hard to live in the confines of these lower amounts. The extra money we’ve had at the end of two months has been amazing. If you don’t budget, I would HIGHLY recommend it.

That being said, I’ve become somewhat passionate about what budgets can do for finances. The things I’ve consistently heard from people is that they don’t know where to start or they aren’t financially minded so they are unsure how to set up a budget. Well, after a lot of prayer and consideration, I’ve decided to offer services to help people with their finances. I TRULY believe that just getting started is the hardest part. I want to help people with that. With the condition of the current economy, we all need all the help we can get.

These are services I will be offering:
  • Budget set-up
  • Debt payoff schedules
  • Budget check-ups for accountability
  • Upkeep of budgets
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If there are areas of your financial life in which you are struggling or just need guidance, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would like to share what one person shared with me after their experience working with me:

"holy cow! this is AMAZING!!!!  i am SO excited! can't wait to show J******. it looks SO good, sarah!
i have to be honest and tell you that when we first started, i had no idea what to expect...but this is FAR beyond what i could have imagined. i cannot even tell you what a blessing this is (and will be!) to us. thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
all in all, i felt like it was a VERY beneficial experience. i am NOT a "numbers" person AT ALL, but you explained things in a way that i was able to understand and we will definitely utilize this budget tool in our day to day life. i can't WAIT to tell you the positive changes that come from it!  :)"

If you are interested in any of the services I can provide, please email me and I'll provide pricing information. If you think this is something you would benefit from or even if you just have questions, I would LOVE for you to be the next person I can help!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Notice something different?

Eeeeek!!! Do you see my new design??? Isn’t it awesome?? I have obviously needed to make a change for a while, seeing as how Reed is almost a year old. So, we are no longer Adventures in Ava-Land. We still have those adventures, but we really are living Happily Edwards After (you know, except for those days when we might be Grumpily Edwards After!). My awesome SIL, Leslie, suggested this name a while back, and you know I debated about including our name. But after struggling to find something else I loved just as much, I realized nothing else fit!!
Our new look is courtesy of Jenn at Munchkin Land Designs. Jenn is all the rage on Twitter. She has designed countless blog designs and she is SO talented. I’ve been working with her on coming up with a look that was perfect for us! She took my vision, ran with it and this what we have! I LOVE it! I cannot say enough great things about Jenn and her work. If you are in the market for a new design, work with her!!!
I hope you’ll be back soon to follow along and keep up with us! Have a happy Tuesday!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

29 and holding!

Saturday was my 29th birthday! I’m officially in my last year of my 20s! I had a good day with my little family.
That morning, I was unloading the dishwasher and turned around for a second. When I turned back, I saw this.IMG_5215He had been attempting this for a very long time and we’ve always caught him. He was finally faster than me. :)
Zach’s school had their annual tailgate game and his kids were performing. They have food, drinks, and other things so I took the kids out there in the morning to watch Zach’s performance. Ava got her face painted and saw her best friend from school!
IMG_5217
After the game, we headed to the mall to exchange some stuff and we decided to have a quick lunch there. While Zach was dealing with a massive blowout by Reed, Ava and I took pictures!IMG_5218
After lunch, Zach took the kiddos home and I went out for a little shopping by myself! It was wonderful! It was nice to just browse at my leisure and have a little me time. I got a new pair of jeans, a new pair of shoes, and a couple new necklaces. Successful afternoon!
We had planned on dinner out but the kids were incredibly cranky. Reed took a very late afternoon nap and we decided to chance it. However, the place I wanted to go had a really long wait and with two kids who were hungry, it wasn’t happening. We ended up at another restaurant I enjoy but never go because it’s not one of Zach’s favorites.IMG_5233
My yummy birthday dessert!IMG_5238
After dinner we came home and the kids played a little bit before bed. Reed kept crawling under Ava’s chair and thought it was funny to be stuck!!!IMG_5244
I had a great birthday spending it with my three favorite people. Right now the thought of turning 30 really doesn’t phase me. I hope that continues. :) I’m planning on year 29 being fabulous!!! :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday!

I am a couple days away from turning another year older. It seems like lately there are so many reminders of how short life is, and because of that, I’m focused not on getting older, but on how blessed I am.
For these things I am thankful:
* A husband who loves me unconditionally, who encourages me, supports me, and teaches me daily what sacrificial love is.
* Two beautiful, HEALTHY children who make every single day an adventure. Smiles from these two make any day better.
* My family and extended family. Zach and I both grew up with so much love and support from those who love us and I’m so grateful we have so many people on both sides of our families who are such integral parts of our lives.
* Friends. I’m so grateful for the people who listen, pray, vent, laugh and do life with me. You can’t be time with a good friend!
* Our jobs. While I’d love to be at home with my kids, as far as jobs go, I’m blessed. I work with fun, awesome people, have a great boss, and work for a company who gives much back to its employees. Zach has a great job too and with hard times, I don’t take it for granted.
* Reed’s sweet teacher from his baby class who still takes pictures and videos and texts them to me b/c his new teachers aren’t quite into that yet.
*  The new carpet that was installed in my office this week. Hoping that helps me not freeze anymore!
* My iphone and ipad. Just keepin’ it real.
* Living another year. Like i said, we aren’t promised tomorrow.
* A roof over our head, clothes on our backs, food in our bellies, beds to sleep in, cars to drive. All of our needs are satisfied.
* Health insurance.
* A wonderful school where our children grow and thrive.
* That Jesus loves me.
* Unsweet tea.
* Weekends!
What are YOU thankful for today??

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend life

We had a QUIET weekend which was MUCH needed after our busy week last week. Friday evening we ran to Sam’s. We ended up coming across a great deal on a new booster car seat for Ava so we got it. Zach put it together and Reed decided the box was a great toy to play on. IMG_5095
Apparently he also thought it was a great tool to climb. IMG_5096
Saturday morning we woke up to cloudiness and RAIN! It was dark outside and we were all in bed until after 8. This NEVER happens at our house. One of our kids is usually up a little past 6, and NEVER after 7:30. We certainly enjoyed a late morning sleeping in. We worked around the house and did our grocery shopping. Last night we watched a movie and ate pizza. Nice and low-key and perfect.
We went to church and our kids were so good this week which is nice for a change. This morning, Ava was acting sassy and needed a time out. Reed wanted to make sure she was ok. (i promise she has on panties. Also, the looking down was just for effect. I’m pretty sure until I walked over there she was touching Reed. IMG_5109
This afternoon, I took some food to a family with a new baby. I stopped at Target on my home. I picked up some new shoes for Reed and I needed to try them on him. I asked Ava to go get me a pair of socks. She came back with some of her frilly socks. We made it work. :) Isn’t he cute in his football jersey and fancy socks? IMG_5120
And finally, a video of Reed using his walking toy. I had NO idea he could do this until I put it in front of him one day. I couldn’t believe it!

I love weekends when we have lots of down time and can get things done around the house and spend time together. Can’t beat it!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Let's just be honest...

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It’s time for me to get some things off my chest:
  • I’m so glad it’s Friday I can hardly stand it. This has been a LONG week!
  • While I love seeing my family at home over the summer when I come home for lunch, I am always happy when school starts again and I have a little more “freedom”, for errands, lunch dates, etc. I can do those things in summer, I just feel guilty not spending the time at home.
  • Our AC broke yesterday. It cost $500 to fix. If it’d been just a little cooler, I may have said no thanks right now. So much for all we'd saved this month.
  • Last night Reed woke up crying (darn teething). I've had several nights where I've gotten up to tend to him, and not fallen back to sleep for hours, so I kicked  nudged Zach and told him to go deal with him. And then went right back to sleep.
  • The thought of taking a long weekend trip with just Zach has me giddy. I love my kids but a weekend with no diapers, no getting snacks, drinks, wiping noses or bottoms sounds blissful.
  • My birthday is next weekend. It's my last one in my 20's. Surprisingly, the thought of turning 30 next year doesn't really bother me. Life has only gotten better as I've gotten older and I'm thankful for each day I'm given.
  • I gave up Diet Coke. For good. It's gone. I'd cut way back to maybe one every couple of weeks. And now I'm done. My drug of choice is now unsweet tea. And I may have a regular old Coke every couple of weeks.
  • Ava is celebrating her birthday in a couple of weeks with her cousin. I'm thinking I may not do a birthday party with her for her friends this year. She has so many cousins who are her friends, I'm not sure she'll miss it. Is this bad?
  • I plan on being lazy this weekend. Anyone with me?
Happy Friday, y'all!!!!!



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back to School 2012!!

Monday morning, Reed started back to school. He has a new classroom, two new teachers and to him, a whole new world!! He has been a little hesitant in the morning and misses his favorite teacher, but I know he’ll love his new teachers just as much! Sweet boy before heading to school!IMG_5026 IMG_0772 IMG_5030
That night, we had Open House for Ava’s class. She took all her school supplies and got to meet her teacher. She’s been a little hesitant about being in a new class and having a new teacher. She told me the other day, “I’m sure I’ll like my new teacher, but I like my old teachers, like Mrs. B, too.” :) Sweet girl. IMG_5031
Today was the big first day! She was really excited last night!IMG_5043
She woke up pretty excited. She did really well, even though she told me, “Mama, I might be sad and miss you when you leave.” Aghhh! I cannot believe how grown up she looks!IMG_5059
It was Zach’s first day of school too!!! :) IMG_0782 IMG_0787She looks so unsure here! IMG_5062 IMG_5063 IMG_5065
The looks of terror on her face make me so sad, but I know she had a great day. She didn’t cry (though I’m waiting for it – last year she didn’t cry the first day, but did on later days). She came home happy though we had to pull details of the day out of her. It’s first year we haven’t gotten a daily report on her and I miss it, so we’ll just have to make her talk! I’m sure it will be a great year for all three of my people!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Last week I spent an afternoon with my mom learning how to make the cinnamon rolls we grew up having. She learned from my grandma, who learned from my great-grandma, and so on. I’m going to share the recipe with you.
 
Cinnamon Rolls
 
6 tablespoons Crisco
1 cup milk
 
Heat Crisco and milk on stove top, stirring until the Crisco is melted. Remove from heat and let cool.
 
¾ cups sugar
2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons salt 
2 packets of yeast, or if you buy in bulk, 2 heaping tablespoons 
4 eggs
 
Add the sugar, water, salt and yeast to a bowl and mix slightly and let sit for yeast to activate. When the mixture looks bubbly, add the cooled Crisco and milk mixture. Sift in flour (no exact measurement… just dump a couple cups in the sifter and add it… & you may need to add more, it just depends on the consistency of the dough) and mix with a spoon until it reaches a cake batter consistency.
 
Then add the 4 eggs and beat with a mixer until fairly smooth. Then continuously sift in more flour until a dough forms (you will be able to use a spoon at first but will have to use hands at the end. And once again, there are no exact measurements. My mom said that she ends up using around 4-5 cups total flour in the first step and this step).
 
Then beat & knead the dough to get out air bubbles and work it into a large ball form.
 
Once all the ingredients have been mixed, pour just a small bit (no measurement again) of oil in a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Work the dough around to get it coated with the oil and place the oil covered side face up in the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise. Once the dough has risen (after a couple hours more or less), knead and punch down. Cover with the towel and let rise again.
IMG_4911
 
After the dough has risen a second time, it’s time to form the rolls. Melt some butter (no measurements again! Recognize a pattern?) in a pan and have it melted before you start.  Spray pans with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle flour over your work surface. Using your hand, pull the dough up out of the bowl and use a knife to cut a portion of it off.
 
Spread the dough out on your work surface being careful not to push it down too much, but rather just shape it. IMG_4920
 
Spread your melted butter out over the dough.IMG_4921
 
Then cover with brown sugar. IMG_4922
 
Sprinkle with cinnamon. IMG_4924
 
Roll your dough into a log and then cut off rolls. Place them in the pan, filling your pan. After your pan is filled, let them rise for a bit in the pan.IMG_4925IMG_4935
 
Repeat until all the dough has been used. I think the batch we did made 5 pans of rolls.
Bake at 375 degrees until the tops are a light brown (approximately 15-20 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool. IMG_4940   
Once all the rolls have been baked, mix together powdered sugar, vanilla, and water to form a glaze (and again no measurements, just to taste! the glaze should be slightly runny to allow it to go over the rolls easily). Drizzle over your rolls and voila! IMG_4943
These freeze well and are great to give people around the holidays!
 
Another plus: If you can get the dough made, you can use it for dinner rolls too! My mom often makes up a batch and does a couple pans of dinner rolls and then the rest as cinnamon rolls. Two for the price of one! I’m nervous about trying these on my own but excited to know how!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Days at home

The kids school was closed last week for cleaning and professional development so I spent the week at home with them. It was SO nice to spend some extra time with them. Zach had professional development all last week as well, on top of evening rehearsals, so he left around 7:30 in the morning and didn’t get home until 8:30 – 9:00 every night. The kids would see him for a few minutes in the morning and Reed would be alseep by the time he got home. The days were long days, but I was SO SO incredibly thankful to have them.
Tuesday we hung out at home. The kids were so good and even took naps at the same time!IMG_4879 That night we took Ava to a new gymnastics class. I hadn’t been overly impressed with the place she’d been taking and we tried somewhere new. It was MUCH better and she learned more in one night than in the 2 months she’d been at the other place.
Wednesday I took Ava to get her hair trimmed before school starts. She likes getting anything done that involves primping/pampering! In fact, every morning, we played makeup shoppe while I got ready.IMG_4901
Ava also worked a little on her letters and her drawing.IMG_4905 This is a drawing of our family. Can you guess which one is Reed? :)
After Ava’s haircut, we headed to my mom’s to learn to make cinnamon rolls. I’ve wanted to learn how to make the recipes that she and my grandma make. They’ve been passed down for I don’t know how many generations and I was excited to learn to make them.IMG_4943 I’ll have a post on how to make these soon!!
Thursday we went to visit my great-great aunt and the kids great-great-great aunt! IMG_4952
Ava took this picture – not too bad! IMG_4957
Friday we had a play date with some of Ava’s friends. They are starting preschool at her school this year and she is excited they will be there even though they will be in a different class. I had a voucher for Great American cookies that expired in 2 days, plus a coupon I found online so instead of just getting cookies I thought a cookie cake would be cute.IMG_4981 IMG_0770
Friday evening was so nice and comfortable out. We let the kids play outside and they had so much fun! I see many more evenings like this in our future!!!IMG_4991
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am so thankful and so blessed to have such a great job. However, days I get to spend with my babies are the most precious days to me. I’m thankful for the days I do get to spend with them.

The Edwards Family

The Edwards Family

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