Menu Plan Monday



Black and white version.  I struggle with the coloring on my photos, and I think that is why I am drawn to the black and white versions.  I am less distracted by all of the things that aren’t right and can focus on the subject.

Here is my menu plan for the week (which has already seen some changes):

Sunday: Lasagna Rolls Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup (too lazy to make lasagna)

Monday: Burritos, Spaghetti, Totino’s Pizza Rolls (The ground beef that I put in the fridge this morning had not thawed enough for me use it in the spaghetti sauce)

Tuesday: Spaghetti (Hopefully it will actually work out)

Wednesday: Tacos Out with Hubs (explanation below)

Thursday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Tacos (Already had grilled cheese and needed to move tacos somewhere)

Friday: Pasta Toss

Ok… I know we are trying to eat out less, but there is a day in there planned to eat out.  This was not in the original menu plan, but things have changed.  My grandma was admitted to the hospital with some internal bleeding.  My mom is heading out to be with her tomorrow as soon as I pick up Miss C.  My amazing sister has offered to step in on Wednesday and Thursday to watch her in the afternoons.  My sister’s house is very close to where Hubs works.  Since he works evenings, he doesn’t get to see Miss C before she goes to bed.  I will be close enough while picking up Miss C, that we will go ahead and just meet Hubs and have a nice family dinner out.  Since we had some leftover grocery money from this past weekend, we will just use that.  I know that probably isn’t allowed, but that’s how I am going to do it.

It’s a crazy week with meals already, and we just started the menu yesterday.  Sometimes things just don’t work the way we plan.

What are you planning on for your dinners?  


Sunday Night Chit Chat


This is a black and white version of a photo I put up for my ABC photography challenge.  I love both versions!  I can definitely tell that I am learning a lot about my camera by doing this challenge.  I have been loving coming up with photos each day too!

Here is my chit chat…

What are you…

Reading?  Nothing… still.  I did manage to read a magazine earlier this week when we had no electricity.  Besides that, absolutely nothing besides a few board books with Miss C.

Listening to?  The tv is on right now, and I can hear the dryer going in the background.  I also hear Miss C’s noise machine through the monitor.  It’s a pretty peaceful evening.

Watching?  The Amazing Race was on, but I haven’t really been paying attention to the television much this evening.  

Cooking/Baking?  I was planning on doing some lasagna roll-ups, but decided to go with an easier meal and do grilled cheese and tomato soup.  I really wanted to order a pizza, and was even willing to use some leftover grocery money from today, but I decided not to.  I feel like that was a huge step in the process of not overspending.  One of my biggest battles is choosing to eat out instead of making dinner.

Happy you accomplished this week?  I got to assist/second-shoot at a wedding yesterday!  It was a great experience!  I was able to learn a lot by being there and watching a real pro in action.  I had a lot of fun with my mentor photographer and really enjoyed the couple who got married.  It was a very sweet and simple ceremony.  I loved it!

Looking forward to next week?  Next weekend begins my busy season.  Usually September is a pretty busy month for my photography business, but it has been pleasantly slow.  I have a photo shoot next weekend with my cousin’s family.  We are exchanging services, as my cousin’s wife will bake Miss C’s first birthday cake.  She does amazing work, and I am so excited to see and taste the final product!  (The hardest part is figuring out what kind we want.)

Thankful for today?  Good friends.  Miss C and I had an ice cream date with one my first best friends in college.  It had been a month or so since we had seen each other, but it was so nice to catch up and see how she is doing.  Friends are the best!

*Bonus Question* What is the largest sum of money you have ever found?  I think it was a $20 bill.  Although I didn’t get to keep it.  It had fallen out of someone’s pocket who was ahead of us in line.  We were able to return it, which felt nice.  The largest sum that I have found and kept was a $10 bill.  My youth group was headed to an arcade place, and I looked on the ground and found it.  No one was around, so I was able to keep it.  Woo-hoo!

Your turn!  Answer in the comments or link up at Carla’s blog.


Feeling Loved

There are days when I feel like I am on my own.  I feel like I just go through the motions of the day and end up on the couch by myself (aside from Bandit) at the end of the day.  This is especially true when Hubs works evenings.  It is nothing that he can help, as he wakes up shortly before I leave and doesn’t make it home until after I am asleep.  I have been really feeling like this lately, and it scares me because I have been diagnosed with depression before.  It has been under control for the past 5 years, but it still worries me that I will be pulled under again.

Today, though, I was surprised by all the love that surrounded me.  There were a number of people who said things to me today or within the past couple days who have really shown me that I am cared about.  They may not have even known that what they said or did had that kind of an impact on me.  I only hope that I can show them the love that they have shared with me.  I wish I could share more, but right now I want to keep the sweet words and gestures close to my heart.  I need to let them soak in a bit longer.

In the meantime, here is one person who I want to make sure knows she is loved to the moon and back.  Image

I love those beautiful blue eyes!  She is just perfect (ornery, but perfect)!

Seasonal Temptations

I think fall is the season where I really lose focus on finances and get distracted by the “wants”.  I mean, think about it… fall means jeans, sweaters, boots, hot coffee, candles, fall decorations, coats, etc.  All I can think of is that I want so many new things!  I am really fighting this right now.  I spent some money on some new fall clothes a couple weeks ago.  Now, most of it was warranted… I only owned 3 pairs of long pants to get me through the fall and winter.  I did in fact NEED more long pants.  I did buy 4 new pairs of long pants and a few long sleeved shirts.  I bought them at a resale store, so they were much cheaper than if I would have gone to a typical retail store.  

I did also buy Miss C enough clothes to get her through the fall and winter.  For her, I went to a consignment sale to get them.  So, again, much cheaper than typical retail stores.  I also have a wonderful friend who passes on all of her daughter’s clothes to me.  I have so many things now for 18 months and 24 months.  I am hoping I won’t need to get Miss C much at all for the spring/summer.  

We did have a bit of another surprise thanks to the utility company.  Our bill came in the mail today, and it was MUCH higher than I was expecting.  It has been rather hot this past month, so I know that  had a lot to do with it.  I now have to go back and rebudget October, and am quite worried about how it will all turn out.  Looks like I need to get serious about cooking at home and not buying anything that is not NEEDED.  Wish me luck!  

I really need some encouragement the next couple of months.  I am stressed just thinking about everything that is going to be coming up:  October: Miss C’s birthday and a possible trip to the zoo with Hubs’ dad.  November: Traveling out of state for Thanksgiving.  No hotel, but we do have to pay for gas and food.  December:  Traveling out of state to visit our new niece! And Christmas.  So much to plan for, and so worried that it will not work out.  

In the meantime, I will share a picture of my cutie!  Looking at her always gives me inspiration to get things in order so that she has a wonderful childhood.


Time to Get Real

Yesterday I came home from work, and we had no electricity.  No, the power didn’t go out.  It had been shut off.  Apparently we did not pay the final bill from our last apartment… because we NEVER got it!  We got less than 24 hour warning before they shut off the electricity.  I got home and tried to call the utility company at 4:36.  Well, they closed at 4:30, so we were stuck for the night without electricity.  I was so upset!  I know this isn’t my fault, considering I never received the bill, but I felt very guilty that I had my daughter at home for the evening without any electricity.  Honestly, she didn’t care, and I am sure she didn’t even know the difference.  We were fine for the night.  We played outside for a while, then I fed Miss C.  I went to Taco Bell for dinner (as I did not want to open the fridge and let out any cold air, and we didn’t have a stove that worked).  I put Miss C down around 7:00, and then I climbed into bed with some magazines and a flashlight.  I read as long as I could until my eyes were hurting from the lack of light, then went to bed (around 7:45).

Today Hubs went to the utility company and paid the bill in full.  They came out and turned on our electricity around 10:15 this morning.  We didn’t have to pay any extra reconnection fee or anything like that, which was nice.  Just the bill and the late fee.  Hopefully it is all taken care of, and we are good to go.  No more surprises like that please!

We were able to pay the bill without any problems, but it made me realize how unprepared we really are if there were something major that we would have to deal with.  Since we have bought our house, I have not been as strict with our budget.  I have not been as good with saving and putting away money.  It is time to get real about staying on budget and being strict with our spending.  I think October will be “Nothing but Needs” month.  Of course I have one exception.  Miss C is turning 1 in October!  I have already budgeted $100 for her birthday.  That includes gift(s), food, decorations.  We are planning a really low-key get-together.  Just grilling out dinner and spending time with family.  I think if I shop smart, I will be able to keep it within budget.

I also have quite a few photo shoots coming up in the next two months.  All money from those will go to savings.  I had been putting some towards future photography gear, but since I just bought a new camera, I don’t really need any new gear any time soon.  Hopefully we will get back to a better place as far as savings.  Wish us luck! 

Monday Meal Plan

Happy Monday!  Even happier Monday because it’s almost over!

Here is my cutie hanging out with me this evening:

IMG_8372_edited-2I just love that cute, squishy face!  I am actually doing a photography challenge since I got a new camera.  You can check it out on my Facebook Page: j lancaster photography.

I did a little bit of upkeep around the blog here.  I updated my Resolutions page and my Goals page.  It had been quite some time (considering I hadn’t updated them since March!)  Oops!  I have some new goals for the month of October.  I could probably try to start them now, but I like starting things at the beginning… whether it is the beginning of a new month, week, year, etc.  This probably is what plays into my resolutionist tendencies.

Anyways, Hubs is back on the evening shift for about 2 more weeks.  He had been part evenings, part days while his coworker was recovering from surgery.  Glad she is feeling better, but sad to have Hubs gone in the evenings.  It is quite the process trying to cook dinner with an 11 month old crawling around your feet and demanding your attention.  I was able to keep her busy tonight with some measuring spoons and my singing and dancing moves.  At least someone appreciates them!

I also hate when Hubs is on the evening shift because I have to cook for myself.  I am fine just having a bowl of cereal, but that is not the most healthy option.  I do try to make things that he can heat up the next day or take to work and heat up for his dinner.  Here is the meal plan for this week:

Monday: tacos
Tuesday: spaghetti
Wednesday: lasagna rolls
Thursday: burritos
Friday: mac and cheese

On Friday I don’t have to make anything that will have leftovers, since he is home on the weekends with me.  At the beginning of October he changes shifts and will work 4 10 hour days a week, including working the weekends.  It’s going to be tough being on my own during the days on the weekends, but I think I can manage it!

My goal for this evening is to update our sidebars to let you see how we are doing with our debt reduction.  I still feel like we are drowning sometimes, but I know we aren’t taking anymore on.  It is just a slow process to get rid of it all!

What is on your menu for the week?


Back On The Horse


Time to get back on the proverbial horse and get back to blogging.  It’s amazing how busy life gets when you have an almost 11 month old, a full time job, a fixer-upper house, a photography business, two dogs, a husband, and try to maintain a personal life.  I think I have it somewhat figured out, but do occasionally feel like I am drowning.

To get my blogging life back on track, let’s begin with a little Sunday Night Chit Chat from Carla.

What are you…

Reading?  Nothing and more of nothing.  Life has been so busy that I don’t even have time to read magazines or blogs anymore, much less a book.  Maybe one of these days I will get to enjoy leisurely reading again, but not now.

Listening To?  The Emmys.  Right now it is the cast from How I Met Your Mother.  I love it!

Watching?  The Emmys.  I enjoy awards shows, and the Emmys is no exception.  I am snuggled under a blanket with Bandit next to me and my computer on my lap.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday evening.

Cooking/Baking?  I grilled out chicken kabobs on the grill tonight.  Again, another thing to get back on… cooking each night.  I need to get back on budget and eating out always seems to bite us in the rear.  Time to stick to the menu plan!

Happy You Accomplished This Week?  I have been doing a personal photography challenge, and I h ave stuck with it every day so far!  I also have a clean house!!  I am so excited about that.  My brother and his wife came in town this weekend, so it was good encouragement to get the house clean.  My current goal is to pick up after myself and keep it nice and neat.

Looking Forward to Next Week?  We only have 4 days with kiddos at school this week.  Friday is a meeting day, and I honestly do enjoy professional development.  It gives me time to collaborate with fellow coworkers that I do not often get to collaborate with.  I am also working a wedding with a fellow photographer on Saturday, and I am looking forward to that.  It will be fun to work with a photographer that has been in the business longer than I have.  I think I can learn a lot from her.

Thankful for Today?  The weather!  Today is the first official day of fall, and the weather was beautiful!  We were able to spend some time outside and have the windows open most of the day.  I love jeans and sweater weather!  I think fall is my favorite season!

*Bonus Question* Have you started thinking about Christmas?  Shopping yet?  Planning anything?  Actually yes!  My family exchanges names, and I already know what I am going to get my person.  I have also been mentally making my gift wish list to send out to my family.  I have also been thinking about what to get Cadence and how much is a good amount to spend.  I don’t know how Christmas will work this year, as my sister-in-law is due right around the end of the year, and they want me to do newborn photos.  We may be spending our Christmas in Illinois with a new baby!  How exciting!

Now it’s your turn!  Answer on your blog and link it up or in the comments section!  I love hearing from my readers!