Recent Posts

July Favorite of the Month

July Favorite of the Month

Welcome to my favorite of the month! I select ONE item from my beauty/hygiene products (all hair, skin, and makeup) that has really stood out to me as being the top item. The reason I do this is to appreciate what I have. Aside from […]

Marquette Weekend Getaway

Marquette Weekend Getaway

In my last post, I mentioned that we had traveled and spent a bit more than we meant to. One of these weekends was Travis’ and my Marquette weekend getaway. Honestly, I’m okay with us overspending because this was our first long weekend away together […]

July Budget Recap – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

July Budget Recap – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This month involved some tough learning for us in the budget department. It was a bit of a slap into “don’t get too comfortable” reality. I want to end on the exciting positive, but first some guilty admissions. I might sound a little dramatic. We didn’t have any emergencies occur, just plain overindulgence. Maybe this is why I haven’t been posting as much? Because I knew we were living in a way that didn’t feel right? I’m not sure, but we’re definitely going to get our booties back in gear. 

 

The Bad

It’s July 25th, and I have that feeling. The lurching in my stomach of not knowing how much money is in our checking account. The thought that I think we get paid this week, but that I know we have bills left, and we need to buy groceries. The the guilt of “how did I let myself feel this way?” There is reassurance in our savings account(s), but the weight of guilt that we really shouldn’t be touching those funds. When we were traveling home, we needed to withdraw cash to pay a toll (this toll ONLY takes cash) and it was the middle of nowhere so cash back checking wasn’t an option. Quickly, I decided to swallow that fear and logged into our bank account. There was only $87 available. This is technically a good thing on a zero based budget, but we had a much bigger buffer intended than what we’d ended up with. We also had to pay a stupid tax: an ATM withdrawal of $20 cost $23.50. The ATM charged us $2, and our credit union charged $1.50!

 

The Ugly (and Embarrassing)

In short, we overspent beyond our budget a LOT this month. There was travel over two weekends that we didn’t really budget for. We just sort of went and didn’t worry about it, thinking to ourselves that we did up our restaurant fund. Which is true, we did this, but not nearly enough. I also didn’t account how much more gas money we would be going through, or the fact that we’ve had the air conditioning on every day. In short, we slipped up. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but we totally did. In fact, the story of overspending got much worse when I went to log into my work’s “view my paycheck” application. I was thinking that my quarterly bonus would be coming up soon. My heart sank and my stomach felt sick the moment the webpage lit up. My bonus had already come with the past paycheck. Scratch that. My bonus had already come and gone. I felt sick. That was about $600 that didn’t have a name, wasn’t in our budget, and “magically went away.” We ate and drank our way through my bonus without even realizing it. Shame doesn’t even begin to cover how I was feeling. That should’ve been included in our budget to go towards our Baby Step 3 goal, and we didn’t even realize it was there! I beat myself up about it, but this was a wakeup call that we need to keep ourselves in check.

 

Another thing we have really (and I mean really) been struggling with is not knowing what we want in a future home. Specifically, the location of a home. Housing is at an all-time high right now, and we aren’t sure we can afford what we really want or how timing would work out. So then the question becomes: should we rent longer? Or should we buy a starter home? Honestly, I don’t really want to buy a starter home (quick disclaimer: yes this would be with a proper down payment per Dave’s recommendations etc.). It seems like a decent amount of risk and I’m not sure about the area in general. We want to ideally purchase a fixer-upper on a lake (ON. Not near.) which still don’t come cheap. So basically, we are really conflicted, and not knowing what we want makes it harder to focus on saving. When we were in Baby Step 2, the goal was 100% clear: PAY OFF ALL DEBT. Be debt free. We were gazelle intense and had a goal with a finish line that was far away but obvious. Baby Step 3 is pretty clear too: Enough $$ to cover 3-6 months of expenses. But this house goal? It isn’t clear. We don’t even know where we are running. Do we need a $10K down payment? Or a $100K? Do we tighten our budget back to nothing again to buckle down on a down payment? Do we live relaxed and happy with renting? We don’t know. Do we attempt to flip a house and move? Could that cause us to be stuck in a home we don’t love? We don’t know and it’s causing us to spin our wheels.

 

The good budget news? Yes, there is some good news!…

We still made progress on Baby Step 3 and we are officially HALFWAY to our (newly increased) goal fully funded emergency fund! We decided to raise it up a couple thousand because we have such a cheap rental and can’t count on rent always being this low. This is really exciting and is giving us some more motivation to get through Baby Step 3. After that? Well, you read my thoughts. We need some time and thought and discussion to decide what we want for our family.  If you have any helpful tips or stories about buying your first home, please let me know.

 

With Motivation,

Rachel

Note: there are no affiliate links in this post. Just some shame and embarrassment.

My Wavy Hair Wash and Go Routine

My Wavy Hair Wash and Go Routine

There are zero affiliate links in this post. I am SO excited but yet so nervous to post this. I have a few “hair troubleshooting” posts partially written for how I figured out my routine, but honestly I was getting too frustrated to post them! […]

Climate Change and Social Media: A Rant

Climate Change and Social Media: A Rant

Disclaimer: this is a rant, not a scientific journal. Take my opinions for what they are…opinions. About a month ago, the Paris Agreement was a huge deal. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the world of social media has an influx of environmentalists like I’ve never seen […]

The Organ Donation Process Experience

The Organ Donation Process Experience

When I was in my final semester of college, I took a class called “Psychology of Death and Dying.” At that time, I took it because it was an easy class and I needed an elective credit. My degree is in Materials Science & Engineering, and to me any Psychology class was a welcome breather. The discussions ranges from death, to suicide, to organ donation and many other topics. The class was easy, but it was always very thought provoking. Unfortunately, it has also been a class I’ve had to use the information from. In November 2016, I received a call that my dad had a stroke. This was only two weeks after he turned 51 and he was in-shape and healthy. To say this came as a shock would be an understatement. I also had a gut instinct from the moment I was called that he would die. Of course, that sounds morbid, but it’s what went through my mind. Call it intuition, call it God, call it what you will but I knew. The people on the other line told me he was doing well and should become conscious shortly. Within 24 hours the diagnosis went from “full recovery,” to “he will not survive this.” All of this, I should mention is when I live thousands of miles away. I was able to get there as soon as I could, knowing at that time he would not make it.

I remember arriving to the hospital, and walking into his room in the ICU and being awestruck with how calm and peaceful he looked. He looked like he was sleeping on our couch, just with some tubes in his mouth. Sometime within my first visit the neurologist gathered the close family in a conference room to talk about the “options.”

The Organ Donation “Talk” with the Doctor

I have never been so grateful that I took a psychology class on a whim. So many of the terms said by the neurosurgeon were exactly what we had discussed in my class. While my family members looked overwhelmed (understandable), I actually felt I had a good grasp of what was happening. That didn’t make the situation easy, but it did make the decision easy. My dad had almost no brain stem activity, but he was doing the basic functions of breathing etc on his own. He was the perfect organ donor candidate. That is how the neurologist put it, and thankfully, my family all listened. My mom and I knew that my dad absolutely would’ve wanted everything donated. He would’ve been happiest if he could donate his organs to others, and the remaining body to a university to study. He literally told us throughout my life that he wanted his body “donated to science.” We didn’t know how some of the other extended family would react, but thankfully, they were glad his body could help others too. So in a relatively short time, my mom had signed that he could donate. We were just waiting for a couple of other family members to arrive to say goodbye.

After Organ Donation Was Set Up

Something I didn’t know before was that with this organ donation company, from the moment the paperwork is signed, that company covers all medical costs. I do not know if all organ donations are like this, but it was a nice relief for my mom as well (her insurance ended up covering almost anything regardless, but at the time it was unknown). Unfortunately, my dad ended up having a massive stroke while unconscious, and became a less suitable candidate for donation. Instead of “everything” his viable organs would be he corneas (eyes), heart valves, and skin/tissue. That was hard to hear at the time. It went from thinking of several people my dad would save to only a couple. The organ donation worker assured us it was still life-changing for those people, and that the heart valves would be going to a baby. This brought some relief.

I’ll save the details beyond this to keep this post from becoming a novel itself, but he died on November 11th. I stayed in Alaska through Thanksgiving, and sometime during this time we were notified that his corneas and heart valves were used, and his skin/tissue was used as well. We returned home for Christmas, and by then my mom had received a more detailed letter about one of the donations. His corneas had given a man the gift of sight again. A 70 year old man. I’m going to be very blunt here and say that I was not very happy about that organ recipient. A man who was almost twenty years older got my dad’s eyes. Yes, he might live twenty more years, but I had really hoped they would go to someone younger than my dad. It was a sharp reminder that my dad died fairly young for a healthy man and that he will miss out on so much.

Seven Months Later

I took a trip home in July 2017 (I’m actually here writing this), and recently a couple of recognition things for my dad happened. The hospital has asked for my dad’s name to be engraved on a wall of donors, and a medal was given to us by the organ donation company. It’s a beautiful bronze medal that my mom has displayed and reads “Gift of Life Donor Organ Eye Tissue Donation.” I’m glad she gets to have this beautiful reminder because it does make things seem better knowing his body helped others.

organ dontaion
the beautiful medal that my mom has displayed

I’ll forever be grateful to that psychology class for helping me be informed at a time where it was key. I’m still grieving over the loss of my dad, but I’m (mostly) happy that he was able to help others. I plan to be in organ donation and tissue donation if that is an option for me when my time comes. I think everyone should look into knowing some basics about death and dying so they have some informed consent in case the worst does happen. Organ donation is a beautiful way to give life when life is lost, and I’m grateful that the process was as easy as could be for our family. For more information about organ donation in the United States click here. I sincerely hope no one reading this ever needs the information, but knowing made the process much easier.

-Rachel

First DevaCut Experience: A Full Review

First DevaCut Experience: A Full Review

About a week and a half ago, I decided to take a trip home for one of my good friend’s weddings. I don’t think I’ve come out and said it, but my hometown is in Anchorage, Alaska. Yep, surprise! So trips home are few and […]

Using Gel in 2B Waves: Troubleshooting Hair Episode 1

Using Gel in 2B Waves: Troubleshooting Hair Episode 1

I called this page the “Natural Hair Journey” because, well, it’s a process and I haven’t quite figured out my struggles. I am trying something new today (that will be the next troubleshooting post) and it made me realize I should write about what I’ve […]

Multi-Store Grocery List 6/25/17

Multi-Store Grocery List 6/25/17

 

Okay quick story about this multi-store grocery trip, my husband woke up and at 8am decided he was going to go grocery shopping. He was trying to get a jump start on our day. It helped some but he REALLY overspent on the food he bought compared to if we had bought it at Aldi. I was both grateful he did the shopping, but annoyed that he has no clue about price differences. He doesn’t pay attention when the cashier rings up the items. He spent $13 on two spaghetti squash (!!!) because he didn’t realize they were $1.99 PER lb. But he was being helpful, and we are in Baby Step 3 so it’s okay;) So he did that at 8am, and I went around 11am to the other two with Riley.

Local Grocery Store – aka hubby’s food haul

  • Spaghetti Squash x 2
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • carrots
  • eggs x 2
  • bacon
  • chcocolate chips
  • Kombucha x 2

ALDI

  • Salsa (Whole 30 compliant! Garlic Medium heat. VERY tasty!)
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Baking Soda
  • Fruit 

I chose cherries because they were on sale. I pretty much always do this with fresh produce. Whatever is the most on sale is what comes home with me unless I need something very specific for a particular recipe.

  • Two dish washing brushes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tortillas (for Travis)
  • black beans (for Travis)
  • A fun money “splurge” to myself – a 2 gallon glass drink dispenser. More on this later! I brew kombucha at home and I got this to do a continuous brew system. The glass dispenser was only $12.99! Score! The cheapest I’ve seen a glass one prior was $25. I’m so excited!

 

Meijer

  • Draino x 2 – hubby fixed our shower thank goodness!
  • Toothbrushes
  • Loofas X 2 – one for Travis, one for me
  • Acne pads (the round pre-medicated type)

 my shoulders have been breaking out since I changed my hair routine and I’m sick of it. These are too harsh for my face, but deal with body acne just fine.

  • Shaving Cream
  • Tomatoes

I didn’t have my receipts while I was doing this, but I think that’s everything! We had SUCH a productive day yesterday. For the past two weeks or so, we have been in a slump as far as cleaning and meal prepping. My mom visits soon for three weeks so we really had to get it together. And we did! Essentially the entire day was working on chores, cleaning, and meal prepping. But this morning I got to wake up, have a cup of coffee in a clean home with a fridge full of prepped Whole30 compliant meals. So I’m grateful for that. Maybe I’ll even get my booty in the gym!

With Motivation,

Rachel

DevaCurl Celebrate Wavy Kit Review

DevaCurl Celebrate Wavy Kit Review

Well, I’m almost three months into my natural hair journey (see my hair background here), and I’ve had to buy a new set of products since I used up the set I began with: the DevaCurl Celebrate Wavy kit.    Honestly, I began my natural […]