Why can't we have a fort?

Have you ever, just for the fun of it, made a blanket fort? If you haven't do it as soon as possible. It's way too fun to put off. My husband and I were sitting around playing with our daughter and we determined she loved crawling under the blanket with us when we played peekaboo, and had a ton of fun when the whole family sat in the floor under the blanket so we wanted to make her a REAL fort. We made one this last weekend with the help of a few friends, a bunch of sheets and blankets, a lot a twine, a tall easel, a couple boxes of binder clips and one screw. In addition, I think there were perhaps 20 or so pillows involved. We started in the corner of the basement room with the pole as one anchor, the pin on the hinge of a door as another anchor. The third anchor we attempted as a command stripe and hook, but the weight of the blankets was just too much for it, so we decided to go for one screw in the wall to make sure it didn't fall. The ceiling was attached to command strips and did just fine that way.
This tent fort is huge, it has all our seating in it, a coffee table for playing games or having a picnic on, our TV and entertainment center (so it feels a bit like a really cramped movie theater) and piles of pillows for our daughter to jump in  (see her having fun there). It had a tunnel entrance and a separate 'crow's nest' in the corner too. We have played in it every day since it went up, but it has to come down for a party this weekend so, it's been fun (we decided to leave the screw in case we needed it back soon:) ).
Have you done anything silly and fun lately? If not, I highly recommend it.


Projects for fun/freelance and an update.

I've been rather productive the last few weeks in all areas that have been more or less volunteer.
I have completed an awesome bridal shower invite (turns out I managed to work in the bride's favorite pattern- so that was great), a blog's logo and word mark in addition to their header (check it out), a wedding invite set (for a different bride), and a logo for a friends of a library group. I love doing projects that allow me to flex my creative muscles (in addition to my normal job- since I am a designer in that capacity as well).

It's been nice being able to do these creative projects that are a bit more fun as I have a little more personal options on them so that's been nice especially to get my mind off of our financial goals.

We had a bit of a setback with our financial goal in that our water heater died. Talk about frustrating. 15 days into the new year and we had to shell out a little under $1000 so we could replace our water heater (the old one was leaking, and frankly...I like at least warm showers). If you remove that from the equation (as the broken car ended up being a faulty item that got replaced easily) we've been doing wonderfully- Only have spent $71 on every none-billed item (including food- which is less than $40 of that). If we keep this up we will be right on track for doing well with our pay-off goals. Go us!

Now if the house/car and other emergency fixes would just play along we might just be able make a good show of it for 2012. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. I can't decide if I want to divulge the entire debt payment process or if I even want to admit to the world what I owe on things. So I'll get back to you if I decide to share.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the little projects and creativity.


Goal for the Year!

Sorry for the massive delay in posting. Just got back from a WHOLE week vacation to visit family. My hubby and I determined we have never been on a vacation longer than 7 days in the 7.5 years we've been together. In fact this break from work for Elliot was 11 days off in a row- so we felt pretty spoiled! The vacation was nice and we saw lots of family and friends, but in the back of my mind I am always in full time mini-panic mode because of work or finances or a combo of both. Work for me has been a bit slow the last few weeks so I have been stressed about that- so I worked for about 2 hours while on vacation because the work came in, but let's be honest- two hours in 11 days, not so great.

Don't know what it is about the winter that makes the printing industry slow...I guess the clients are recovering from the holidays (and since they generally have ordered their holiday cards by November that seems like the last thing to do for the year).I must admit this time of year always gives me the winter blues. All the holiday decorations come down (I have put out a few valentine's decorations to brighten the house a little bit), but overall it's not nearly as festive, and with the stress of lack of work and surprise car repairs that I am waiting to hear about (Elliot's car broke down on the way home last night...go figure) I've been a bit out of it anyway. I've never been much for New Year's resolutions- especially since I always manage to break them and then disappoint myself, so I try to set goals for the year as I take stock of the previous year.

This year, Elliot and I are going to try our best to get as much paid off as possible so these dry spells of work for me don't potentially cause financial disaster. We are very careful with the funds we have and haven't ever missed a bill, but the issue we run into is that things break, need fixing, or just aren't working out anymore so once we pay off something we roll that money towards some new project instead of paying off what we already are paying off quicker). This isn't really a huge deal...most of our debt is really low or no interest, so by making the payments to avoid interest (so you know those promotional balance things where it's same as cash within X months) all works out hunky-dory, but in the back of my mind the what-ifs are driving me crazy. In actuality, if we manage to pay off everything this year, I wouldn't need to work, but all my income could be saved up for projects and retirement since neither Elliot or I receive benefits through our jobs, so we really need to get on that. (See what goes through my head constantly...wouldn't it be nice to not worry about this stuff)!

So here's what we are going to try to do: We have made a deal with each other that we won't buy extras throughout the year. For example- I'm a sucker for going to the grocery store and buying items that aren't on my list (even though I arrive with a list). That should be a big money saver (especially because I already have 4 bottles of bbq sauce in my pantry because I remember while shopping that the bottle in the fridge is almost empty)!So we are going to try to stick to lists and get back into the habit of doing menus and buying only what is needed for the menus as to not waste resources (You wouldn't believe how often I end up throwing out produce that was well intended, but remained in the back of the drawer well past prime).

We already have the cheapest cell phone plan, the cheapest internet, the cheapest car insurance, health insurance, etc. available (and we don't have cable or other paid TV , but do subscribe to Netflix (to avoid the cost of going to movies and other expenses associated with date nights (no babysitter, movie-theater snacks, gas, wear and tear on the cars, dinners, and of course the cost of the tickets)). We also live in a great city for free entertainment (all the museums and zoos have free days/times) so we don't have to worry to much about entertainment for us- especially since we seem pretty content just hanging out.

Other money savers I'm going to try to do are running the dishwasher only when I can't possibly fit another thing in it and the same for the washing machine. We already don't use any extra electrical items (all our large entertainment stuff and anything that pulls a current when it's off, is on a power strip which is off when it's not in use). In addition, we do cloth diapers for our daughter (with a high efficiency washer it is about $3000 savings compared to disposable over the course of time a kid is in diapers if you have diapers that grow with the kid like we do) as well as made my own cloth wipes to use with them so we've got that going. In addition, I have containers in the toilet tank to reduce water consumption with every flush). I also, don't use the dry setting on the dishwasher to save a few cents there as well as the standard CFL bulbs in place of incandescent. Our new windows should definitely help with the heating/cooling bills and I was even contemplating doing this with the dryer (don't worry-our's is an electrical dryer so no toxic fumes).

I look forward to trying to compare our costs from this year to last year- (I admit that I keep my calculator in the games portion of my computer, because I love figuring out math/accounting stuff) and seeing if we saved overall...(I'll definitely be able to tell if we did, by what's paid off as well).

Do you have any other brilliant ideas as to how to make everything last longer/be more efficient? The catch is, I can't buy anything to make it happen. I want to see how much we can save- it could be fun! (though I fear it will negatively impact my crafting...hmmm).

(I know this blog post is more serious than normal- so here's the last of the Christmas presents I made :) )

Here is a treasure box I made for one of my nieces (I made one for her older sister when she was 2, so now the younger sister has one as well to stash all the fun finds in. She seemed to like it.

This is a wooden box with a clasp that I painted with metallic acrylic paints, both inside and out. I was informed her favorite color was pink, so I did all the flowers in pink, the box itself in blue, and the vines and insides in green with highlights of pearl-white on the name and centers of the flowers.

Turned out cute:)