Howdy ya’ll!

My humble posting ground has been uprooted and moved over to www.souptowindows.com!!!  That’s right–it’s officially it’s own web address!!

For most recent everything along with posts from yesterday and all of the past, please go there and check it out!!

Can’t wait to hear from YOU!!  🙂

–The Mrs.

Budget Progress!

November 2, 2010

We all know that Casa Windows has been run by a very lose “budget” up until this point.  Our budget was spend, spend, spend..then figure it out.  Naturally, this wasn’t allowing us to save our money nearly as efficiently as we could have been.

When I decided to develop this budget I made a few key decisions that would make it easier for me to wrap my head around it.

First of all, this isn’t a business and we don’t work on a month-to-month or annual accounting schedule.  We get paid every two weeks.  So, I decided that I would set up our budget to go for two paychecks–or 28 days.  This is pretty close to a month.  It’s also how we pay our bills–each paycheck has certain bills that get allotted to it even before we had a budget.

So, our first round of budgeting started on October 14th and will end on November 10.

This has been CRUCIAL to me being able to understand this budgeting habit I’m trying to establish.  Without having the budget work this way, I’d have to divvy up our dinero by day and then month and frankly, that’s just moving outside of what works for us.

In the event that you’d like to start budgeting–this is my biggest tip for you–find a date range that works for you!  If you get paid monthly and establish your spending that way, do it that way.  If you get paid bi-weekly on a certain day of the week, set your budget up like we did.  It all depends on how you break up your spending!  This is the primary reason I never budgeted.  I just couldn’t make sense out of the fact that I got paid bi-weekly, but paid all of my bills monthly.  The fact of the matter is that I still paid all of those bills on a monthly basis, but certain bills were paid with certain paychecks.

So, on my budget, I have listed all of our reoccurring bills:

  • Mortgages 1, 2, and 3
  • Cars 1 and 2
  • Student Loan
  • Insurance (we pay our car insurance every 6 months, but I move the monthly amount into savings so I know we’ll have it when it’s time to pay it)
  • Cell Phones
  • Entertainment–Netflix and Internet
  • Water and Sewer (our tenant at Gilbert pays this, so we only pay 1 bill)
  • Electric 1 and 2
  • Gas 1 and 2
  • Trash and recycling (we pay this quarterly, so I move this to savings as well until we make the payment)
  • Life Insurance
  • Savings–emergency/regular and vacation
  • Misc Spending (fun money–this includes hair cuts, clothes, video games, baby shower throwing, etc.)

ALL of our reoccurring spending equates to about 87% of our income.  Granted, our “fun money” may change depending on what we are doing–we may save it one month to buy a more expensive item, etc.  But for the most part, this is all pretty solid.

The other 13% of the budget is allotted to groceries, going out to movies (we do this at least once a month), gas for the vehicles, eating out, and gifts for other people.

My biggest success with this is the amount of money we’re able to save every month now.  It’s still not as much as I’d like it to be, but it’s A LOT more than what we were doing before.  With the amounts I have in there now, it’s about 14% of our budget that we’re putting into savings.  I’d like for it to be more like 25%, but that will come with time.

So far our budget has served us well enough that I’ve already established a new spreadsheet for the next 2 paychecks (also, the next 28 days which I’ve decided is close enough to a month).

Do you have a budget?!  If you do, what’s your key to success??

If you have any specific questions for me, feel free to comment on this post or email me at kari_s {at} hotmail {dot} com!

Granite.

October 27, 2010

Ok, this post is about my kitchen.

No, we don’t have granite counter tops–I wish!  Frankly, there’s no way we would ever recuperate that expenditure, so we took an alternative route on that one (post to come!), but just so that I could say I have granite in my kitchen–and because, obviously, I love it–the kitchen sink we chose is one that is made of granite.

We purchased this sink at Menards (our house is a living, breathing Menards ad!), and I believe in it was in the neighborhood of $230 or so.  I didn’t look at or price any other sinks because this one had it all!  It wasn’t ceramic or stainless steel (nothing against those materials–just not my preference in this case!), it had a contemporary look to dress up the kitchen, and it was affordable.

The left side of the sink is 9″ deep and the right side is 7″ deep.

Some people have asked me if it stains, marks, or anything else…well, after more than a year of abusing it (hello, I decorate wedding cakes–pink food coloring stains EVERYTHING!), I can gladly say that not a stain can be found!  Sometimes it does look a little dirty, but it’s nothing that a little 3-minute scrub with Comet can’t cure.

The faucet is Delta brand.  I believe it was in $150 and we purchased it at Lowes.  I wanted two three things: a pull-out design (check!) and a matching soap dispenser (check!)…oh, and the price had to be less than $200 (check!).

I adore the soap dispenser.  It’s soooo easy to use and way prettier than a bottle of soap sitting on the sink!  The faucet is perfect because I use it to fill up my Brita pitcher and must have something that will reach (I hate putting the pitcher in the sink to refill it).

Overall, I’m super, super happy with this addition to our kitchen.  In the beginning of the remodel, the kitchen was supposed to be mostly left as is.  It just goes to show you how things can change!!

While I’m showing you this, please take notice of two things: my awesome, awesome back splash that I couldn’t live without and my under cabinet lighting–another non-negotiable item in the kitchen.  Posts on those things to come!

Also, don’t discriminate against my ugly window trim that desperately needs to be scraped and repainted…I’d gladly allow anyone who is handy and willing to come over and tackle that project for me!

Window Shopping.

October 18, 2010

Ok, I’m envious here.

A dear friend of mine just moved to one of my favorite neighborhoods in our town.  They’re still getting settled (and once they’re entirely settled I may have to beg to post pictures of their new habitat!), but I wanted to show you just what’s to envy about this neighborhood.

This house is listed at $1.2 million–yikes!  But doesn’t it look like a castle?!

This one is my favorite.

LOVE a red door!!

I changed my mind…THIS one is my favorite.  Although Mr. Windows would never go for it.  He hates houses that look “stately” like this.  But look at that pretty yard!

Maybe someday we’ll move here.  For now, we’re stuck with our ugly-on-the-outside ranch–and we’re pretty happy about that. 

Do you ever window shop for houses you know you can’t have?!

Quirks.

October 14, 2010

We’re all different, right?  Well, I mean, sometimes we have an identical twin, but we still think in different ways, prefer different things, etc.

We’re all a little quirky in our own way.

Ok, so the point of this post (as minimal as it may be), I prefer Pepsi.  Always.

I’ve never in my life had a time where I wanted a Coca Cola.  Ever. 

Some people, though, can’t stand Pepsi products.  These people baffle me (as I’m sure I baffle them as well).  For example, Mr. Windows’ grandparents drink a lot of Coke Zero.  This is a product I would never, ever buy.  When they come to visit us, they’ll only stay in a certain hotel and stop at certain gas stations because they know they can get Coke Zero there.

I have a confession: I’m the same exact way!

With Pepsi.

Mr. Windows mentioned the other day that he’d like to eat at a certain restaurant in town and was wondering why we’d never eaten there.  I looked at him and said, “Dude, they don’t have Pepsi.”

This statement is one that Mr. Windows has heard many, many times.

Early on in our relationship he learned this about me.  What’s funny is that when he goes out with other people now he generally asks them if they have a Coke or Pepsi preference before suggesting a restaurant to eat at.  One time he did this with his co-workers and they all looked at him like he was crazy for even worrying about that.  After he explained that my Pepsi preference is the reason why we eat where we eat, it made more sense to them.

I think my preference for Pepsi is the reason why I like Mexican food so much.  In my mind, the two just go together.  If a Mexican restaurant doesn’t serve Pepsi, it just seems wrong to me.  When we were visiting In-laws-Windows, we ate at a Mexican restaurant there that served only Coke products and frankly, it was the worst Mexican food I’ve ever had.  The salsa reminded me of spicy ketchup–eww.

Anyhow, this is my random way of saying that I really like Pepsi.

And if you ever come to my house and want a Coke, you should probably bring it with you.

Mr. Crackalackin

October 8, 2010

Well, I’m short on conversational topics today, so how about a picture?

Or a bunch of pictures.

This is my “wedding day look”.  My hair, my shoes, my veil, my dress, my everything. 

The most important photo in this collage?  The photo of my dad walking me down the aisle.

My dad is biologically not my father.  He’s been married to my mother since I was 4-years-old.  Although not every day spent as my dad has been a great one, he’s always been there for me.  I call him any time I need advice or help.  He’s not perfect, but I’d never want him to be.  I’ve learned just as much from his mistakes as I have my own. 

As I’ve matured, I’ve noticed that he respects me more.  He even asks for my advice sometimes (even if only about what brand of TV to buy–it still counts!). 

My wedding day was the solidification of nearly 20 years of our relationship.  The days since that day have been filled with hundreds of laughs and have filled my heart.

Without my dad, I wouldn’t have a driveway or my first love–my stealth.  I wouldn’t have early morning text messages saying, “Yo, what’s crackalackin?” or “Yo quiero taco bell…ok, El Chile Verde” (which translates to my dad being silly with his spanish…and not really wanting taco bell or El Chile Verde). 

Without my dad I wouldn’t be who I am.  I wouldn’t laugh as much.  I wouldn’t work as hard.  I’d know a lot less.  I’d have made many, many more mistakes.

I can’t even tell you enough how glad I am that he is my dad.

P.S. On Monday I promise I’ll have something exciting to talk about–like my FIXED driveway!!

This is a formal announcement.

Beginning now and until I say otherwise, I will still be offering cupcakes for any occasion!

Editted to add: I’m still refusing all non-cupcake cake orders!  This includes birthday cakes, weddng cakes, groom’s cakes, etc.  The only cake I will be offering comes with a cute little paper wrapper and generally will only serve 1 per person.  I wish I could do cakes, but just to give you an example of the time commitment–I’m working on a 4-tier wedding cake and a sculpted groom’s cake and after my full day of work yesterday I spent another 6 hours working on cake.  I’ll put in another 6 hours tonight, at least 8 tomorrow, and probably 4-6 on Saturday morning.  I just can’t do it all!

All flavors. Buttercream only. Decorations subject to my discretion (meaning I might love you to pieces, but I’m not going to build you a cupcake fortress if I just really can’t).

This means if you’re getting married, having a birthday, or just flat-out hungry for some cupcakes, you’re more than welcome to ask me!! 

The prices will be:

$1.25 per cupcake for any flavor cupcake with any color buttercream icing piped in a star shape or circle shape.

$1.75 per cupcake for any flavor cupcake with any color buttercream icing piped in a star shape or a circle shape AND including any color or shape of chocolate medallion on top.

$1.75 per cupcake for any flavor cupcake with any color buttercream icing piped in a star shape or a circle shape AND filled with chocolate mousse, raspberry mousse, or nearly anything else you can think of to fill a cupcake with (within reason).

$2.50 per cupcake for any flavor cupcake with any color buttercream icing piped in a star shape or a circle shape AND filled with your choice of filling as well as your choice of color and shape chocolate medallion on top.

Other toppings and fillings are subject to my approval prior to accepting orders.

For example, this set of cupcakes would be $1.75 each! 

The stand is also available for rent, but must be returned to me after use!  It holds about 150 cupcakes and I have another stand that is round and silver that holds about 40-50 cupcakes.

Cupcakes are also available for trade for products and services 🙂