Budget Planning Update

Lol, I love Grumpy Cat! The memes this cat has inspired are some of my favorites.

For some reason, it seems the word “budget” has a bad connotation. I can understand why – it usually means restrictions, cutting back, or completely giving things up. So let’s clear it up!

I’m doing an update on my budgeting plans that started several month back. I’ve learned quite a bit about money management, my own personal spending habits, and will power. Budgeting doesn’t mean restricting – it means creating a roadmap for financial success. A true successful budget doesn’t start by eliminating things. Here’s what I did…

  1. Write down total monthly income.
  2. Write down categories like Home, Auto, Utilities, Food, Savings, and yes, even Fun money.
  3. In each category, write the items that category includes. Example:
    1. Food:
      1. Grocery
      2. Restaurant money
      3. Kiddo’s lunch money
  4. Assign values to EVERYTHING: haircuts, weekly spending money, even that expensive coffee splurge – you have to account for ALL of it.

After that, I had a clear view of where my money was going and where it needed to go. I was able to shift things around so that I had a plan that made sense for my family.

Every month since the budgeting started, something has come up – car repairs, Christmas presents, etc. The Savings category has been there to cover all of it. The idea behind Savings, for me at least, was to save money, but it has mostly been a contingency fund. This has been a huge lifesaver since all these extra things have come up along the way.

So how has it been going? Well, I don’t have a savings stashed but I have been able to address random things that have come up with no trouble while not affecting the other parts of my budget. Budgeting allows me to compartmentalize my money so one thing doesn’t affect another.

So wipe out those negative thoughts about budgeting and ask yourself if compartmentalizing your money would make life easier. If so… try making a budget with categories and see if you can get your money moving where you really want it.

Living with Fibromyalgia

I don’t know where this picture came from… but it’s pretty accurate.

I first saw that picture on Pinterest. I don’t know where it came from or who owns it but it is pretty accurate. I’m 40 years old, but I feel much older than that. I don’t look my age so I hear a lot of “you’re too young to be in pain”. Living with Fibro… what a pain. Literally.

I was first diagnosed in my early 30’s but my symptoms were around for much longer. I have noticed they’ve gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I think the hardest thing about living with Fibro is getting people to understand how awful you feel.

So what is it like? Well… imagine you’ve been awake for 36 hours. Now imagine you run 30 miles without stopping and then push your car around the block several times. Add having the flu, a hangover, and a sunburn. You’re kinda getting close now. The problem with Fibro is the really extensive list of symptoms that anyone can experience at any time.

Here are the most common:

  • Fatigue
  • Widespread muscle/joint pain
  • Brain fog
  • Sensitivity in all of the 5 senses
  • Insomnia/screwed up sleep patterns
  • Depression

On a good day I wake up exhausted. On a bad day, I wake up feeling like I got hit by a truck the night before. I think anyone fighting this battle will agree the good days are few and far between while the bad days require every ounce of strength to just get out of bed in the morning, never mind going to work and being productive. I have learned, as we all have, to roll with the energy highs and lows. Last night, I fell asleep on the couch at 7:30 and then dragged myself to bed at 8:30. Tonight, maybe 9 or so but I did get a load of laundry done this evening. My sink is currently still full of dirty dishes.

My goal is not be super-mom. I work two jobs, I’m a single mom, my son is autistic, and when you add Fibro to that, well, there’s a whole lot going on in my house. Again, not trying to be super-mom. If I go to bed at night after accomplishing nothing, then so be it. If I manage to get a few things done, then so be it. It is what it is. My house is messy sometimes and I’m ok with that. My son is healthy and happy and that’s all I care about.

In the end, living with Fibro really forces you to prioritize your life. Every day, I wake up and ask myself “What is the most important thing I have to accomplish today?” and focus on that. If I get other stuff done, great. If not, great. Priorities. Priorities. Priorities.

It would be great if people really understood what Fibro does to a person, but the reality is that likely won’t happen. I don’t often talk about my Fibro because it’s so involved and the symptoms vary from day to day, that I would rather spend my time on what’s important: taking care of my son and taking care of myself.

For anyone out there fighting this battle… self care is so important. Whatever it is – massages, naps, warm baths… take care of yourself in any way you need to. Remember – it’s all about priorities.

4 Types of Toxic People & the Clutter They Bring

Mandy Hale has a point!

Ahhh toxic people. They can be hard to identify and even harder to break free from. The problem with toxic people is they are really good at taking: time, energy, emotion… but offer nothing in return except unnecessary clutter.

Decluttering has become increasingly popular over the years and there are many tips on decluttering home spaces, office spaces, vehicles, all the way to decluttering your email. But what about decluttering people?

We’ve all been there at some point. We have a friend, or two, who always seems to be interested in our lives and wants to get together for lunch or coffee. Unfortunately, once we’re there, we find the entire conversation about them and their problems. Nothing supportive comes from the conversation and we end up leaving confused and emotionally drained.

When I went through my awakening (not really sure what else to call it!) two years ago, I decluttered people from my life. It was a bad time overall for me, but I found that there were many people who were not being emotionally supportive when I really needed them. I felt like I had to be OK all the time around them when in reality, I was anything but ok. I cleared everyone from my Facebook page and slowly I started adding people back. I got rid of friends & family. It was hard, but I was so emotionally stretched, I didn’t really see any other option.

As of now, I still don’t have all those people back on my page and you know what? It’s completely fine. Toxic people not only drain us but they really do clutter our lives. I know my example may seem extreme to some but stop and think about all those people on your friends page. Are you really talking to all of them? Or are they there because you feel obligated to have them there?

Getting back to the title of the post: Toxic People and Their Clutter.

  1. The Frenemy.
  2. The Liar.
  3. The Drama Queen/King.
  4. The Narcissist.

I’m sure there are others 🙂 Let’s start with the Frenemy. This is the person who constantly corrects you and tries to change things about you but deep inside, they harbor jealousy for one reason or another. They present themselves as friend but behind your back they are presenting a different face. They insult you, spill your secrets, and never really compliment you on successes but rather imply that you ‘got that award because of pure luck’. You feel like you have to apologize for your successes instead of being proud.

The Liar. Hmm… this is the person who never seems to give you the full story about anything. They say one thing but then you find out the truth was either a little off their original story or something COMPLETELY different. You end up doubting them and wondering if what they are telling you is true.

The Drama Queen/King. This person is my favorite, purely because they tend just to be completely ridiculous. This person cannot handle mellow or laid back. There has to be action or something happening and if there isn’t, they create it. They get a rush from being in the middle of chaos. They don’t know how to operate without a problem consuming them. You end up constantly saving them from their own messes and nothing you do is good enough because… when that problem is gone… another quickly emerges. You may also encounter the Complaining Drama Queen/King who only wants to complain. They never seem to want a solution to their problems, or to do any kind of work associated with fixing them. They just want to use you as a giant ear. And don’t even bother trying to discuss a problem of your own.

The Narcissist. This one is complicated because they seem to be 100% invested in you but slowly you start seeing little things emerge that make you question yourself. A narcissist will never be responsible for anything. In every situation, they are either victim or hero, but never the person who caused any problems. Narcissists are especially dangerous. They will make you question your own sanity. They never seem to ‘remember saying that’ or ‘promising to do this’.

The bottom line here is we all need people in our lives who are supportive in our endeavors. We need our own cheering section. Decluttering people is harder than decluttering your bedroom but the concepts are still the same. Are these people adding negativity? Or are they uplifting and encouraging? Do they truly care about you and your life? Do they offer constructive advice hoping you succeed or do they point out all your faults?

Asking tough questions is the only way to identify the people who are just hanging around but not really providing much value. It also helps identify those friends who we should spend our time and energy on and those we should let go. And yes, this applies to family as well. While it might be tougher to declutter family, sometimes its necessary. I’ve been through this myself and while its painful to know that there are family members who do not support me, it’s reassuring to know that the ones I’ve chosen to keep have my back and want to see me succeed.

So how do you get rid of these toxic people? There’s no real right or wrong way. The goal is to invest less and less time in them until they stop bothering you. If you’re dealing with a narcissist though, I would advise cutting ties with them quickly. They may call you names or bad-mouth you to your circle of friends but those who really know you will see through it. You can’t help what others say but you can help how you react to it. Rise above and move on knowing that you’ve made a decision that will save your mental and emotional energy for something that really matters.

3 Top Homemade Gifts

I made a lot of gifts this year for Christmas. I list them all below and list my 3 favorites at the end of the post (no jumping ahead peeking!)

  1. Milk Bath. I found a fabulous recipe for milk bath using powdered milk, corn starch, and baking soda. The recipe also called for Epsom salt and essential oils but I left those out to avoid skin sensitivity issues.
  2. Lotion Bars. My hands get so dry with eczema during the winter time. I found a recipe using coconut oil, olive oil and beeswax for lotion bars. Again, you can add essential oils but some of the ladies these went to have skin allergies. I like the smell of the plain bars. They healed my eczema cuts fast!
  3. Lip Gloss. Another recipe using coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter. Essential oils can be added to this too but I left that out.

There are pictures below of each in various stages of completeness. I was very surprised at how easy it was to make the bars and lip gloss.

I also made dip mixes and flavored salts. All the recipes are below.

Matcha Salt

  • 1/2 Cup Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Matcha Powder

Coffee Paprika Salt

  • 1 Tbsp ground coffee
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt

Fiesta Dip Mix Spices

  • 1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried minced onion
  • 3/4 tsp dried chives
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Dill Dip Mix Spices

  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • ¼ tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp onion flakes
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes

Ranch Dip Mix Spices

  • 2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp dried onion flakes
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

Italian Dip Mix

  • ¾ tsp garlic powder
  • ¾ tsp onion powder
  • 1/3 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt

I have to say though the absolute favorite gifts I made were the books I made for my three nieces. They are 17, 14, and 11. For the oldest I made a book about adulting since she will be heading to college next fall. For the middle one, I made a book filled with beauty tips. Finally, for the youngest, I made a book about being an Empath and how to implement self care while dealing with the emotions of other people. Sadly, I have no pictures of these to share!

Each book had some doodles from me and funny memes. I loved putting these together. It was so much fun to exercise my creativity and put together really unique gifts. The two older girls messaged me thanking me for the books and I was told the youngest really loved hers as well.

I highly recommend doing something like this. It’s so much more personal and unique. Homemade gifts put the focus back where it belongs – on showing others how much you care about them and appreciate them.

4 Tips for New Years Resolutions That Stick!

Happy New Year!

It’s the last day of 2018 and while most people are thinking about the parties they’ll be attending tonight, tomorrow will bring a new year and new resolutions. Why is it that resolutions seem to last all of 45 minutes and then they’re forgotten? We’re back to our previous habits and disappointment in our lack of willpower quickly sets in. Resolution burnout combined with post-holiday blues makes January seem like a dismal month.

A quick web search for top resolutions of 2018 was very illuminating on how generic people get with their goals. Is it any wonder they don’t last? Why not change that this year? Below I list my favorite tips for setting resolutions in a way that they’ll last more than the first week of January.

1. Set SMART Goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive and is a very popular tool used in business. The problem most people have with goal-setting is not making them specific enough. Example: “I want to exercise more”. Ok… more than what? If you set a goal that has specific criteria and constraints, then you will know when you’re achieving it. How do you know you’re exercising more? If you change that to “I want to exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes each time” then you will know once you hit day 3 that you’re succeeding at your goal. The idea here is to remove any possible ambiguity that provides a “way out” of the goal.

2. Have an end goal in mind but set small goals that will eventually lead there. “I want to lose 50 pounds this year”. While a good goal, it’s also a large one and very daunting. Instead of focusing on this large of an objective, set smaller, achievable goals that create a road map to where you eventually want to be. “For the month of January,  I will work on removing sugary drinks from my diet. For the month of February, I will add vegetables to every meal.” Small goals that are less intimidating and easier to achieve but eventually add up to the overall goal.

3. Positive, not Negative. Most resolutions people set require giving up things. Weight loss requires giving up tasty foods; spending less money requires giving up frivolous spending like gourmet coffee; and so on. It’s very easy to get caught up on the things we have to give up to achieve our goals, which we then start to rationalize as too constricting and then the resolutions fizzle out. Instead of thinking about what we have to give up, focus more on the positive aspects. Spending less money also gives you a chance to get creative with budgeting. Losing weight gives you a chance to try new food and experiment with unfamiliar ingredients. The more positive you are, the more likely you are to stick to your goals.

4. Ask for help if you get stuck. We all need a helping hand now and then. Sticking with the weight loss resolution, if you find yourself eating the same things because they’re tried and true recipes, ask your friends for their favorite healthy options. Search online or Pinterest for new things to try. Keep it fresh and exciting and you won’t suffer burn out.

New Year’s Resolutions are a chance to start over and make improvements we’ve been thinking about but you don’t have to wait for a new year to implement any type of change. You can always choose to reinvent yourself in a new way. The first step is always the hardest, but it gets easier.

Happy New Year and Happy Resolution Setting!

Living with Autism

This post actually took me a really long time to write because this is so close to my heart.

My son was placed on the spectrum over the summer and while I was not at all surprised, I was very annoyed that it took this long for the diagnosis to happen. Several times, teachers recommended visiting the doctor about my son’s classroom behaviors and each time, I was told they do not test based on the recommendation of teachers.

Fast forward to 5th grade… I had to take my son for booster shots in April for middle school and the doctor we saw pulled me aside and asked if he’d ever been tested. I was so angry and she could see it. She responded by apologizing over and over. My only thought was “all this time he could’ve been receiving the help he needs instead of struggling”.

I’m writing this post now to encourage all parents out there – if you have any suspicion about your child, push the doctor until they agree to help. Even if the evaluations determine your child is not on the spectrum, it is better to know than to feel how I felt – that all this time your child could’ve been receiving help and accommodations at school but wasn’t.

Its easy to say “find a new doctor” but as any parent of an autistic child can tell you, it is anything but easy to change anything in their “normal”. Whether its food, or the person who cuts their hair, or the doctor they see – routines are very difficult to change.

This actually happened earlier today – something about my son’s normal changed and it took over an hour to get his mood to stabilize. He was angry, crying, confused and we spent almost 30 minutes sitting in the car at Target talking through all the things swimming around his mind. The only way I’ve found to work through these times is to list a solution or two for each item bothering him. Usually, it’s a landslide – one trigger opens up a storeroom of problems he’s been holding onto.

I’m very new at this and feel very alone – as I’m sure most parents do. However, I’ve realized that what needs to change is my approach to parenting. I have to keep reminding myself that he processes things differently than everyone else and how we work through the problems he’s having has to be different as well. I’m always on the lookout for tips on how to do this because some days, I will try anything.

For other parents out there going through this – I wish you the best. It is a daily struggle for me sometimes, but I know with God’s help, I can be an amazing mom.

All the Holidays!

In a previous post, I mentioned celebrating all the holidays with Kiddo for the month of December: Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa… Hanukkah is over and Yule is the next one on the list. Here’s what we did/plan to do:


  • Lit the menorah every night
  • Listed, starting on day 1, something we’re grateful for and kept adding to the list, so on the 8th day, there were 8 things to be grateful for
  • Said a thankful prayer after listing our gratefuls


  • I found a Yule prayer that Kiddo recites
  • We light as many candles as we have around the house
  • We exchange a homemade gift
  • We make bird feeders out of oranges and hang them in trees
  • We decorate with greenery

Yule prayer:
I am grateful for that which I have.
I am not sorrowful for that which I do not.

I have more than others, less than some,
but regardless, I am blessed with what is mine.

First, I am thankful for my health.
Second, I am thankful for my family.
Third, I am thankful for my warm home.
Fourth, I am thankful for the abundance in my life.

Christmas is pretty standard around here with the usual gift fest. Last year, we didn’t do much for Kwanzaa – I think we were both exhausted by that point, but we did exchange homemade gifts, do crafts, and talked about the seven principles & the importance of Kwanzaa.

We also donate to as many charities as we can during the holiday season and talk about why its important to give back to the community and help those who are not in a position to help themselves.

For New Years, we tend to do a full cleaning of our home. It’s a fresh start, so we get everything scrubbed and decluttered in prep for the new year.

So that’s how we spend our December. Leave a comment how you spend your holidays.

Homemade Christmas

It’s that time of year again! The air is cold, there are no more leaves on the tress, and my couch always seems to be covered in blankets. I love winter. I grew up in south Louisiana with perpetual summer so living in Pennsylvania, where the seasons actually change, is amazing to me. There’s something to enjoy about all of them.

Last year, Kiddo and I decided to try and celebrate a little bit of every December holiday: Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa.. all ending with New Years. We also added in sending out Christmas cards, something we had never done before. This year, however, we decided to do a more traditional route for the holidays that focus more on making gifts instead of buying them. I have a hidden Pinterest board (peeking eyes are everywhere!) that I will unhide after Christmas full of ideas for homemade gifts.

Today, I made a cardboard fireplace. I’ve done this before for hanging stockings. This time I sort of took the lazy way out and used a brown sheet to cover everything. Yeah, it’s not as authentic as the one I did last time, but its holding the stockings. The picture was taken at an angle so its crooked but it’s the best I could do.

I’m loving how my cat has claimed this thing for himself. Up until I put everything together, he’d been sleeping in the fake fireplace.

I will try to get better pictures of some of the homemade gifts I’m making. Stay tuned!


I’m sure at some point I’ll need to sort my posts because I can already tell they will cover a variety of topics, mostly in response to something I’ve seen or read.

This one is about forgiveness. I saw on my Facebook feed something that said “you can’t forgive someone who isn’t sorry”. I think people have this forgiveness thing backwards. It isn’t a reward for remorse. The purpose of forgiveness is to close a door for yourself so you don’t keep letting in something hurtful.

As someone who has had to forgive a lot of people for a lot of things, I can honestly say the following:

  • There is no right path to forgiveness.
  • The deeper the hurt, the longer it takes to forgive.
  • The goal is to get to a point where the thought of the other person or their actions no longer affects your current mood or emotional state.
  • It could very likely require therapy.
  • It will require changing yourself.

Read more

We ate what?!

Lol… almost to the end of week 4. My remaining funds are very small so all meals are whatever I can scrape together.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had plenty of food left in the freezer. Unfortunately, I’m not really a fan of reheated meat. I typically have to cook it for a long time for it to taste ok. Tonight I had a bag of leftover pork roast. I wasn’t really looking forward to it, to be honest. At the same time that was cooking, I was baking biscuits for breakfast tomorrow.

I decided to take a chance on something new and I’m really glad I did! A popular dish in this area is pulled pork sandwiches. I decided to use some of the biscuits to make pulled pork biscuit sandwiches. Wow! It was really freaking good. I will definitely be adding this to my future recipes database.

Just goes to show that unexpected things can turn out better than we imagine. I never would’ve tried this if my budget hadn’t forced me to.