Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Downside of Debt

In January, we took a loan out for the RV we purchased.  I justified the purchase at the time (we always do when we really want something, don’t we?) but when the first payment of over $1,000 was due in February, I was reminded of how much I hate debt

The day we signed the loan papers on the RV was the day that my husband was let go from his job of over 8 years and therefore we went without a paycheck for nearly 3 weeks until he was on payroll with his new position.  The very next week after his first paycheck I was informed that my hours (and therefore pay) would be cut by25%!  

It has been over a month, and we are still juggling our income and expenses to get on some sort of regularity, but the budget has really been kattywampus.  Part of the reason is that extra $1000 payment that is being sent out each and every month on top of a decrease in income.

I mentioned in the post about our RV that we will be paying off the house by October.  I have changed my mind about that.  I want the RV to be paid off – AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! I do not like the uncertainty that this $1000+ payment brings to our lives.     

To me, debt feels like I am trapped, suffocating and out of control with uncertainty peaking its head around every corner.  Debt has made our 6 month emergency fund a 3 month emergency fund and this is unsettling.

My new goal for this year is to have the RV paid off by October and I never want to be in debt every again (except for a (very small) mortgage if we choose to settle down in one spot again in the future).  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Bartlett Soap Company

This time last year, I decided to try to take on a “No ‘Poo” challenge.  After a couple of months shampooing my hair with the baking soda and water paste solely, I decided to go back to using shampoo.  Late last year, I started using Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (Lavender Hemp) and though I enjoyed the scent, it left my hair feeling greasy even though my hair was styling just fine. I thought maybe it was because of our well water.  I decided to stick it out because after all, I had a lot more to use until the bottle was empty!  I was perfectly content in keeping up with using Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap until afriend of mine told me about a local woman who makes her own soap, lotion and shampoo. 

I looked at the Bartlett Soap Company’s website and loved the scents listed.  At the time, we were trying to save some money so I didn’t place the order right away.  It wasn’t until several weeks later that I emailed Jennifer to ask her some questions and placed my first order.

Jennifer, the owner of Bartlett Soap Company, is the nicest person you will ever meet: helpful, accommodating and an inspiration.  Jennifer started Bartlett Soap Company in her home October 2013 and was so successful she opened up a storefront in January because she spent most of her days delivering soaps locally!  As soon as I received my order, I found out exactly why her soaps, lotions and shampoo bars were doing so well in Tennessee.  The product is amazing!

About the product:
 Each bar is organically made using plant based oils like coconut, palm, avocado, olive, caster and shea giving the bars the rich soothing and cleansing properties needed to give your skin the pleasurable experience of fluffy lather, moisturizing, and the smoothing qualities that it deserves.

As soon as I opened the mailbox, the scent of the soaps came pummeling out.  It smelled soooo goooood!  I am sure the mail lady loved delivering this package! I used the shampoo bar a few days later and was pleasantly surprised at how clean my hair felt after just one use!  The greasy feeling from Dr. Bronner’s Soap was gone instantly and the light scent the soap left on my hair was very pleasant to get a whiff of throughout the day.  My hair styled no different than ever.  I was impressed from the very first time I used the shampoo!

My first order with Bartlett Soap Company
(Left to Right) Lotion Stick, Mens All-In-One and 3 Shampoo Bars
The sliver on top is the shampoo bar I have been using since the beginning of January!
They last a long time!!

The soap is the same way.  I purchased the men’s all-in-one soap to use as shampoo, soap and shaving…for myself!  I like masculine scents and this all-in-one definitely has a pleasant aroma.  The lotion stick is really thick and lasts a long time!  I use it as chapstick as well as on a dry patch I get behind my knees in the winter and it works wonderfully.

Now to the fun part: the giveaway!
I am so impressed with Jennifer and her product that I wanted to let everyone know about my new favorite soap and shampoo as well as give away one of her shampoo bars to one lucky follower.

Please note that her shampoo bars sell FAST!  I have been waiting for several weeks for more to be available, and they are available this very moment - but only 5 are left!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner to be chosen March 23rd at 12:00AM EST and announced on FB and Twitter shortly thereafter.

Good luck!!

DISCLAIMER:  I was in no way compensated for this review or giveaway.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Planning the 2014 Garden

Each year I say I’m done with gardening but when spring rolls around, I am ready to start planning for the year’s garden.  In years past, I have gone crazy with the amount I have tried to grow and it lead to me feeling overwhelmed and eventually I give upand let the weeds take over.  This year, we are keeping it simple!

Todd despises spring because he knows I will have requests for the upcoming garden.  He stated that the best part of last year’s garden was when he got to mow it down!  So while having dinner in early February, I sprung it on him that I wanted to try pallet gardening.  He immediately rolled his eyes and sighed.  “But wait,” I told him.  “Hear me out!  I only want to grow 4 vegetables this year.”  That got his attention.  After thinking about it for a couple of minutes and my promising that he wont have to do too much work to prepare for the garden this year, he was on board.

So, what does pallet gardening look like?
You can go to one of my favorite blogs, One Hundred Dollars A Month and take a look for yourself.  Mavis is an awesome gardener!

PHOTO CREDIT: One Hundred Dollars A Month
Please check out this website to learn exactly how to pallet garden!

What we are planting this year:

We are planting only 4 varieties of vegetables this year.
  1. Squash (zucchini and yellow squash) by seed
  2. Yard Long Green Beans by seed
  3. Cucumbers by seed
  4. Tomatoes by seedling

Supplies Needed:

  • Pallets
  • Compost/Soil
  • Seeds/Seedlings
  • Trellis

The only expenses we will have this year for the garden will be a half cubic yard of  soil (approximately 1,000 lbs) and the seeds/seedlings.  I expect to pay no more than $50 for the garden this year.  We have pallets that we got for free last year from Todd's place of employment.  We have also been composting, so we have some great compost to add to the soil we will purchase.  For our climbing vegetables (green beans and cukes), we will be using pallets!


Please note: the pallet garden is great for vegetables with shallow root systems.  For tomatoes, we will be stacking 3 or 4 pallets on top of one another to create a taller raised bed for their root system.

One great thing about the four items we are growing this year is that these vegetables (yes, I know tomatoes are not considered a vegetable!) are prolific.  I have a hard time sticking with something that I cannot see results quickly.  With this produce, we will start to see results fast and a lot of them!  The first garden Todd and I ever had was a raised garden and it was the best garden we have ever had.  I am hoping that we can duplicate those results this year with the pallet garden while keeping the weeds away!

Plans for the Established Fruit
We have several fruit trees, bushes and grape vines.  My goal this year is to begin transplanting the fruit to the house next door so that when we are at our home base in the RV, we can enjoy the fruits of our labor.  This will include transplanting blueberry bushes (right now, they are just twigs!), red raspberries, blackberries, and cultivating concord grape vines from clippings off our established vines.

This year, I really want to focus on providing our fruits and vegetables with the nutrients they need to grow well and provide us with an abundance of produce!

What are your plans for the garden this year?
What vegetables are you going to grow?
Are there any fruits you will add to your garden?