Thursday, March 28, 2013

Money Makeover

Been debating writing on this subject for awhile because we all know money issues tend to be a hush-hush topic. Also do not want people to feel judged in their situation or for me to feel like I am being judged.  So I am taking the plunge anyways and going to share my ongoing battle with this thing we call money.

A few months ago, I decided to read Dave Ramsey's book Total Money Makeover after hearing about it for months and months. Seriously, if you have never picked up this book you have got to read it!  Even if you aren't in debt it is so helpful!  It provides a clear and organized plan to get your budget on track and to really analyze where your money is going to every day, every week, and every month.  It's shocking what I used to waste my money on before I jumped into the program.

I need to give a little background information on what led me to where I am:

When I gave birth to our son 2 years ago our insurance turned out to be poop (lack of a better word). We walked out of there with $15,000 we owed. Mainly from having an emergency C-section and staying in the hospital for 4 days really racks up the cost. I don't regret it because my son is worth even more than that amount. But this is where the money pit started. 2 years and we finally paid that cost off. Hooray.

Then my first year as a brand new teacher, my  husband was admitted to the hospital.  Dale was in there for a week before doctors could figure out what was wrong with him. In the end, it was nothing too serious but a bad case of mono.  We walked out of there with $40,000 of medical debt. That's when our debt started to snowball out of control.  There was no end in sight.  

For many years, our money was used as a way to buy myself temporary happiness or just when I was bored. There was really no rhyme or reason to the mess I got myself in.  Target was my biggest weakness... I could go there for 2 hours at a time and buy $100-300 worth of stuff nobody really needs.  Just a way for me to get out of the house, pass the time, and then come home like I accomplished something.  So along with medical debt, I charged up the credit card a bit.

Also, my best friend and I would always find our way to a store and she became my shopping buddy. That's all we ever did when we got together.  Needless to say, when I quit teaching to stay home with our son last year my behaviors and way of living had to stop. We did not have the extra money for me to blow anymore. Last May I had to part ways with my best friend. Partly due to our shopping addiction and of course other reasons.  That was very hard to deal with since she was the only friend I hung out with ever.  But I guess that's the price you pay when you are serious about changing for the better. Sometimes you have to lose in order to get yourself back on track...

Starting Ramsey's program 3 months ago was the start to getting us back on track. The book says that step 1 is to get your savings account to $1000 and to not use any more credit cards. We did that. Then we were ready to start Step 2 and tackle the snowball of debt. The book does state that when you think you're on a roll, that Murphy's Laws seem to show up, and IT HAS--Big time! This month we were ready to focus on paying off debt and then our car needed lots of maintanence, our garbage disposal broke, my hubby had 3 dentist appointments, our A/C went out, and we owed a big chunk for taxes.  Great timing. We were able to pay for those things but it wiped our savings bone dry.  When that happens, the program says to jump back to step 1 until you have your $1000 emergency savings back.  That is where we are at. Probably God's way of seeing if we are really serious about staying on track with the program or not. HA

So we are following the steps and we use the envelope system.  Love it because it helps me resist those urges to splurge on stuff we don't need. It's so easy to swipe that debit card without thinking. With the envelope system, it only uses cash and really makes me double think if what I am purchasing is worth it.

I am eager to hear if anybody else is doing the Dave Ramsey program?  My reason for posting this is to share that I am not flawless and am sure others are in the same boat too. Along the way, I want to write some updates to encourage others and get feedback too.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pinterest Pal Exchange!

Oh my goodness!  Today I was in the middle of coming up with ideas on how to get together with some girlfriends.  And I had the brilliant idea of a Pinterest Party.  But then came another, even more brilliant idea... a Pinterest Pal Exchange!

Whose ready to get crafty and creative? 

Whose ready to make some new friends?

Here's the deal:

I have come across some amazing women that live out of state and would love to start a penpal/Pinterest Exchange through snail mail!

Every month, you will get paired up with a new Pinterest Pal. You will create a Pinterest-inspired craft or Pinterest-inspired recipe to send to her.  The ideas for this are endless!

The item you mail to your Pinterest Pal should be $20 or less.  Once I get the ball rolling, I will tell everyone a deadline date to mail out your Pinterest Pal box.  That way everyone knows an estimation date of when they should be receiving their package.

If you want to participate:

Since this is the first time trying this, I want to try to  hear from anybody who wants to participate by April 1st (no, this is not an April Fool's joke ;).  Then I will match you with a Pal.

If you want to participate, leave a comment with your name, email address, and state you live in.  If you don't want that made public then email me the info at

I hope this turns out to be a fun experience for everyone! Any feedback about this would be awesome since I'm still working out the kinks of this idea :) Thanks!

-Elizabeth Hermesch

Here are a few examples I got from Pinterest. Lets say I got paired up with someone and I make her some of these. You can put a few little items in the box or something like the bottom 2. Ideas are endless. Think outside the box

Simply Sandrolini

 These Bouquets Say A Thousand Words....

Something purely unique,
Something borrowed,
Something cherished...
A family heirloom

   When I came across Brooch Bouquets by Simply Sandrolini I fell in love!  I knew this would have to be the very first small business I would review on my blog. It is a fairly new business that was established last year in 2012.

In 2007 I got married to my best friend. My bouquet had beautiful, luscious, pink and purple flowers. The flower stems were wrapped with my Granny's handkerchief, with a brooch that my mother-in-law had given me.  If only I had come across Simply Sandrolini sooner... my bouquet would have been ALL brooches.

Every bouquet that is made by Simply Sandrolini is unique and special to the bride.  The bride-to-be can pick out her special items to put on her bouquet--it can be jewelry and brooches from her family, items she finds around town, or she can have Simply Sandrolini supply the items. Each bouquet can hold 50-80 pieces.

If you know someone who is a bride-to-be or you are getting married, check out Simply Sandrolini's website and consider this as an option for your wedding.  This is a wonderful way to preserve your wedding memories and be able to pass it down for generations to come.

To Contact:
Carolee Sandrolini (Designer and owner of Simply Sandrolini)
You can also reach her directly at 480.241.3310

Monday, March 25, 2013

Behind the Curtain...

Do any other bloggers feel like the wizard from the Wizard of Oz? Always behind the curtain talking, without readers really knowing who the person is behind the curtain (behind the blog).  With that in mind, I wanted to share a little bit about my life and some of the major events that makes me who I am. Lets skip childhood and go straight to when I met my hubby :)

My hubby and I met at church when I was in 5th grade. He was my brother's best friend. In junior high, I started to hang out with Dale's group of friends and started to get to know him a lot better. By the time I was 15 we were inseparable best friends and started dating in 2001.

In May 2007, Dale proposed to me at the Scottsdale Love statue.  Of course, I said "YES!"

Our wedding day was a cool, crisp day on November 12, 2007. It started out as a strange day though... 
The night before I had a dream that I was walking down the aisle and my hair was a fro, with no make up on.... Now, could that be a premonition of things to come? Who knows, but I will tell you that my make up artist NEVER arrived to do my make up on my wedding day. True story. So my hairdresser (who has never done make up in her life) took the plunge and tried to make it worthwhile. She did a fantastic job!
We got married at Stonebridge Manor and couldn't have asked for a more beautiful wedding.  It was the best day of my life. I have never experienced a day where I was soo calm and collected and just danced freely. Normally I am very conservative, second guess everything, and don't want to dance since people are watching. Not this day.  This day was perfect!

We had been married for about 3 years, and found out we were pregnant!  I think we got pregnant on the first try and were ecstatic! I wrote about it on this blog years ago. Follow the link for the story: Finding out we are pregnant.

Our son, Joshua Kalel (yes, his middle name is from Superman) was born on Christmas Eve 2010! 2 weeks early, and what a surprise :)  The best Christmas gift I could ask for.

Flash forward to current days...

We are still here and living the life!

Origami Owl GIVEAWAY

Origami Owl has Living Lockets that you can fit charms inside. They tell a story about you. Whether it be charms representing your family, career, hobbies, or passion in life. The lockets are customizable any way you like!

In October of 2012, I joined the Origami Owl team and am loving what I do!  Hearing the stories behind each customer's locket has touched my heart. 

So in celebration of revamping my blog and getting back into the writing world, I wanted to do something special.... 


Winner of the $15 Origami Owl credit will be announced on Friday, March 29 by email. The $15 credit will need to be used by April 12, 2013. Open to all U.S. residents. Winner will be selected using

If anybody is interested in hosting an Origami Owl jewelry bar, online party, or needs further information, please contact me.

If you are interested in becoming an Origami Owl designer, follow my link to sign up!  You will need my designer ID # to get started: 5170   Click here to sign up

Elizabeth Hermesch
Origami Owl- independent designer

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Menu Planning

Today I am blogging about what I usually do to menu plan for my family of 4 (hubby, myself, my 2 year old, and my mom who recently moved in).  I'm sure most of you have different ways to plan your dinners.  Personally, I have tried a lot of different ways to plan--some that work well and some that are very unorganized that you probably wouldn't even call it "planning". My problem is that if I don't plan dinners for the week then it usually means we are eating Ramen or cooking something out of a box of processed food.

When I have the extra time and will power, going through recipes is where I start.  If I need any filler recipes to get us through the week, "Feast on a Budget" has been my go-to for recipes that correspond with items that are on sale for the week (for AZ grocery stores).

Do I have any couponers out there? I LOVE couponing and have found it to be a little addiction of mine. Any time I can get items for FREAP (I think Sheryl from Cents'able Shoppin coined that term) it's like I just won at a game. "Freap" means free or cheap :)  So along with checking out recipes and Feast on a Budget, I follow Cents'able Shoppin's site to help me along.  That site is amazing!  Sheryl  finds ALL the best deals at valley grocery stores and tells us which coupons to use.  She pretty much does all the tedious work for us couponers in price checking.

There are times when I get burnt out from couponing so I resort to price matching. Every week, Cents'able Shoppin puts up a list of all items that can be price matched at Wal-Mart. That means I don't have to drive to all the stores to get all the best deals. I just take in the store ads, show them to the Wal-mart cashier and get items for the cheaper price.  This has saved me a TON of money in the end. Check out this week's price match list: Cents'able Shoppin Price Match List.

Recently, I created a Menu Planner (the one pictured below) to help with my endeavor to be organized and know from a glance what I'll be making for dinner that night. Also, this really helps to ward off the "What's for Dinner???" question that my family was asking me EVERY single evening--drove me crazy.

  I think I want to simplify and create a dry-erase Menu Planner like this one I saw off of Pinterest from The Cupcake Diaries.

Sometimes doing all the steps above can be a bit tedious most weeks, but I know that it encourages my family to be prepared and eat more healthy.  Just so thankful for the sites I have come across that help with the Meal Planning process. Feel free to ask me any questions pertaining to this whole Meal Planning concept. I enjoy the feedback :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Made for More

What would you do if a stranger handed you money, and it was completely unexpected?  

  I bet you are thinking, "Oh my! PAR-TAY!" or maybe "Who in the world does that?".  I'll have to back up and tell you what led up to this....

  My hubby and I were getting ready for church, and Dale announced that he thought the sermon was going to be on evangelizing or tithing. My first thought was a sarcastic, "oh, goody..."  First off, for those don't know me personally, I have grown up in Baptist and Non-denominational churches from the time I was born and am usually fine with any church topic....until the word "evangelize" or "tithe" comes up. Ever since teenage years, I would get tense any time those words came up. For example, I went on a junior high trip with a nearby church and was forced to go up to strangers on the beach and proclaim my love for Christ and try to convince strangers that God loved them. Honestly, sharing my faith that way does not come natural to me and I know when people pop up on my doorstep proclaiming their faith, it's a BIG turn off. I am the type of person who would rather share/evangelize by having a normal conversation with a person. If it feels like someone is asking a question or the conversation is naturally leading into the topic of faith, then I would feel comfortable sharing my beliefs.  Secondly, when it comes to tithing (tithing is supposed to be 10% of your income and you give it back to the church), most of my experience has been pastors guilt-tripping or making a HUGE deal about it. Recently, I have explained my whole take on why I feel the way I do about tithing and realized that I just don't want to throw money into the plate like a robot. There's a lot more to it, but don't want to write a novel on here, and am sure you don't want to hear my huge rant/revelation about it.

   So...I walked into church last weekend already tense and thinking the sermon would be a doozie. Boy, was I wrong!  The sermon was completely different than we thought. It was about "Being made for more". The pastor shared some experiences of people doing more than they were asked of. Have any of you heard the story about Billy Ray Harris?  If not, you NEED to watch this short video about the  Billy Ray Harris story.  After hearing more stories related to this and seeing how to apply it to our own lives, our church ended the service in an amazing way.

   The tithing plate was passed around and instead of us putting money in it, our pastor told everyone to take one envelope out of the plate. He said there was money in each envelope (some had increments of $5 all the way up to $100 each), and he wanted us to have it!  Can you believe that?!  Instead of us tithing, he wanted to give the money back to us. BUT the stipulation was that we have to GIVE the money to a stranger. This brought me to tears. I've always wanted to pay it forward and do something like this. Not only has this idea really smoothed over my resentful heart about the word "tithing" but it has shown me that we all can have a purpose. A purpose to help others and to use what we already have (maybe it's not money, but maybe we are gifted in other ways to help others).

   I still have not used my envelope money because I keep praying for an opportunity or the "right" person to come along. It feels really good to know that maybe I can bless someone and bring a smile to their face.  So who knows, but eventually the money will go towards someone/something important.

   So.... if you were given money and told to Pay It Forward, what would you do with it???

If you would like to hear the video sermon, here's the link: Made for More sermon

Monday, March 18, 2013

::Fill Up Your Jar::

   Have you ever had moments in your life when something keeps nudging at you?  Well, I had a few of those moments a couple weeks ago, and feel like sharing it with all of you.  It was around the time of my 27th birthday and my husband and friends kept asking me "what do you want for your birthday?"  Honestly folks, there's a lot of things that I want, but there's really nothing that I need. So with that in mind, I kept brushing them off. Later in the week at my MOMS group we got on the topic of how difficult it is to be a mom and to take time out for ourselves. Then, I came home to find that my favorite cookie lady posted a picture on Facebook (see picture above) related to "filling up your jar"... Ding, Ding, Ding!!!  Apparently, I needed this to be a topic of discussion because it somehow grabbed my attention three times that week. 

   Not only do I need to take the time to rejuvenate and fill up my jar, but I know it benefits everyone around.  Can you imagine doing everything for everybody else and never taking the time to relax or do anything special for yourself?  Maybe some of you know exactly what I'm talking about because that describes you to a "T". A lot of moms can relate because it seems like we are a home maker, a nurse, a teacher, a wife, a chauffeur, a coach, a circus ring leader.... all rolled into one person. At the end of the day, we have nothing to show for ourselves. We have a lot to show for what we did for everybody else, but nothing to show that we took time to ourselves. Don't get me wrong, family is important and being there for everyone else is important, but not to the extent of forgetting about yourself in the mix of things. If you're constantly filling up other people's jars you will have nothing left to contribute in the end.

   So with that said, take time to do something nice for yourself. Even if it's just going to get a pedicure or allowing your husband to draw a bubble bath for you. You deserve it. I think I will splurge by getting myself a cookie....

*Thank you to Jackie for letting me use her photo. Some of my inspiration for this blog post came from my favorite cookie lady. You can find  her on facebook or at her website