November 19, 2015

Is Downsizing Right For Your Family?

blog pic downsizing

We downsized our home over a year ago and it was one of the best decisions we ever made.  In this time of “bigger is better” we decided that wasn’t what we wanted for our family.

We loved our home.  It was beautiful.  Over 3000 sq. ft., 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, a pool, large lot and a 50 foot bonus room.  Yep, 50 feet long.  It was awesome for having people over.

Now, a new family is enjoying our beautiful “old” house.

It all happened after one our “yearly budget meetings”.  Every year (usually sometime after Christmas), my husband and I sit down, take at a look at our money and expenses and see if we can be better stewards of our money.  How can we save more?  In what areas can we spend less?  You know the drill.  We are a one income family so we try to be mindful about where our money goes.

It wasn’t really an issue of not being able to afford our house, it was more of a realization during one of our “meetings”, that the electric company must really love us.  We always try to save on electricity, but with over 3000 sq. ft. and a pool, our electric bill was over $300 in the middle of summer.  Yikes!!!

Then it occurred to us that we had more “house” than we really needed.  With a bigger house comes bigger taxes, bigger utility bills, more insurance, etc.

Skip to 4 months later, we sold a ton of stuff (oh my gosh, did we sell stuff) and moved in to an 1800 sq. ft. house in a nice neighborhood with a ton of kiddos.   We have now been in our lovely new house for a year.

Not counting a house payment, here’s a snapshot of how our bills changed.

  • Electric – went down approx. $50 -$100 a month.
  • Gas – saved at least $60 a month ($60 monthly bill at the old house, no gas in the new house).
  • Monthly Home Owners Insurance – went down approx. $35 a month.
  • Water – went up $40 a month.  Boohoo.  It has to do with moving closer to town and not being considered “in the county” anymore.
  • Cable – went down approx. $25 a month.
  • Yearly Property Tax – went up $200 annually.  Again, because we are closer to town.

As you can see, it was definitely a profitable move.  We saved a lot of money and again, this breakdown doesn’t account for a lower monthly mortgage payment.

So, where does our new money go now?  Since my husband is self-employed, we mostly concentrate our savings in to our emergency fund and building our retirement.

This may not be the right move for everyone, but it was a great move for us.  We see the benefits in our bank account, our stress level at budget time and the smile on the face of our kiddo who’s grateful for all her new friends.

If you have a great money saving tip that has helped your family, please share it in the comments.

Love and less stress,


“Just Doing My Best” Tip of the Week – When we moved in to our smaller home we made a deal with each other.  We agreed that we wouldn’t spend our “savings” from one of our old bills on something else, just because we could.



November 7, 2015

Do These Jeans Make My Butt Look Big?

Blog pic jeans

Have you ever asked the question “do these jeans make my butt look big?”

Jeans can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  It doesn’t help that there are so many options these days; skinny, flare, boot cut, straight leg.  It can be overwhelming.   It also doesn’t help when the store clerk is 19 and weighs 95 lbs.

I have a lot of jeans and I’d wear them everywhere if I could.  Some make me feel skinny, some make me feel taller and some are so old I don’t wear them out of the house.  Ever!!

Here are a few simple tips to make your jeans feel more like a trusted friend and less like a back stabbing college roommate.

  1.  The darker the better.  Always look for dark denim.  They are more flattering and hide a multitude of sins.  When you wear light denim, it’s like shining a spotlight on your bum.  Do you really want that?  A nice pair of very dark blue jeans can be worn dressed up with a great jacket and heels or dressed down with sandals.
  2. Boot Cut.  I did not say flare (read below).  The boot cut style are universally flattering. The back hem of the jeans should be almost to the floor.  Wear them, with well… boots.  Not tucked in.  If you wear them with a shoe or a boot that has a slightly pointed toe you’re legs look longer and thinner (yeah).  NOTE – Since they are so flattering, get a few pair in different lengths.   Shorter for flats and a longer length for boots and heels.
  3. Straight Leg.  These are also great with a flat shoe or dressy heels for a taller leaner look.  The bottom of your straight leg jeans should also be almost to the floor.
  4. Skinny Jeans.  Anyone can wear a skinny jean.  Really.  The trick is a long top that covers your behind.  (Unless you’re a lingerie model, then forget everything I just said.)  Think of Skinny Jeans as leggings.  Tuck them into boots or wear with booties.
  5. No Flare, Boyfriend or Super Skinnies.  Frankly, I’m pretty sure I’m not cool enough to pull off any of these styles and don’t even get me started on Jeggings.  Yikes.  After all, our goal is to look good and feel confident in our clothes, not look like we’re trying to be 20 again.

2 BIG “don’ts” for wearing jeans:

  1.  NO BLING!!!  I know you’ve seen jeans with the crystals on the back pockets.  Stay away.  When we have sparkly stuff on our bum, it’s another spotlight.  People notice “sparkly stuff”.  They stop and look.  I don’t need that kind of attention on my behind.  By goal in life is to hide that thing.
  2. Avoid the tuck.  At all costs avoid the tuck.  Unless you’re sledding or ice skating and need to tuck in your turtleneck under your sweater, avoid tucking in your top.

Caring your jeans is easy.  Wash them inside out in cool water.  Add white vinegar to the rinse water to help them stay looking their best.  I dry them for just a few minutes on the lowest cycle and then hang them to dry.  Before hanging, pull on the inseam with both hands to stretch them and hang full length with clamp hangers.

I hope these tips help you be more confident in your jeans.  If you have any tips for jeans, please share them in the comments below.

Love and great jeans,



“Doing Your Best” tip of the week – Order your jeans and try them on at home!!  Send back what you don’t like.  No more curling up in a ball crying in a dressing room or taking advice from the college-aged store clerk.

For the past 2 years.  I’ve gotten all my jeans from the online styling service Stitch Fix.  (More on that later).  Check it out here.  Stitch Fix just sends jeans to my house using my specifications.  Makes my life so much easier and tear free!!!











October 29, 2015

5 Things I Know About Myself – Right Now!

Blog pic 5 things

I am not 20 anymore.  Thanks be to God!!  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my 20’s.  The clothes were cooler, my hair didn’t need to be dyed and I could eat whatever I wanted with wild abandon.  Oh the good old days!  Now, I’m smarter, more mature (most days) and my hair hasn’t seen its natural color in many years.

In our 40’s we are more relaxed and comfortable in our own skin.  If you’re like me, you’re also not losing much sleep over what people think about you.  Isn’t that a great feeling?  Admit it, we all lost A LOT of sleep over others opinions of us 20 years ago.  At this stage in our lives we still make mistakes and leave our “filter” at the house once in a while, but overall we don’t feel the need to prove anything.

Being a mom of a young one AND in my 40’s, lends itself to the whole “I don’t have anything to prove” mindset.  I don’t have time for it.

At this moment in my life, there are a few things I know that I either didn’t know or you couldn’t have convinced me of when I was 20.

  1.  In a great pair of jeans I can rule the world.  I’m not a fan of yoga pants/sweatpants in public.  Not a judgement, just me.  I admit I may have a few too many pair of jeans.  They are so versatile (more on that soon).  Wear them with sandals, boots and a killer jacket, heels and pearls.  The list goes on and on.
  2.  ……That doesn’t mean she’s mad at me.  Have you ever been to the store and saw a friend and she barely looked at you?  A few years ago you might have gone home and said “what did I do?”  “Why is she mad at me?”  Now I say “I need to call her and see if she’s OK”.  Maybe what you saw was a friend having a really bad day.  A call from a friend may be just what she needed.
  3.  Not everything my kid does is a reflection on me.  Kids do dumb things!  All kids!  I’m a good mom and I cannot and will not put all the blame for my kid’s transgressions on my own plate.
  4.  A great date with my husband may just mean staying home.  I’m not talking about sex (but that’s your call).  For us, we put it on the calendar, buy or make our favorite snacks and wait for the kiddo to go to bed.  We put on pj’s and then we binge watch Netflix, watch a movie or catch up on our DVR recordings.  We snuggle up and just relax.  Bliss.
  5. I don’t waste calories on junk.  We eat pretty clean at our house, but I have a bit of a sweet tooth.  That being said, if I’m going to fall off the proverbial clean eating wagon, it won’t be on grocery store cake or cheap kids snacks.  I keep junk out of the house for a reason.  I have no willpower.  NONE!!!  When it comes to sweets, I make it count.  Occasionally, I’ll order a fabulous dessert at a restaurant or swing thru Starbucks.  That way it’s one and done.  I may still feel a little guilty, but not as badly as if I scarfed down a handful of Halloween candy (in my closet after the kiddo goes to bed).

Bottom line, be comfortable in your own skin.  Love yourself and show love to others.  Call a friend today and show her some sister love!

Love and Chocolate,


“Do Your Best” – Tip of the Week:  If you like chocolate, buy really expensive chocolate.  Keep it in the freezer.  Reward yourself with only a piece or two at a time.  You can’t eat it too quickly because it’s frozen and you’ll be more likely to savor it because you know how expensive it was.

If you have a tip that can help us all be GREAT in our 40’s, let me know in the comments below.


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