Saving Old Calendar

blog 012As much as possible I want to be creative in so many ways like decorating in inexpensive way.

blog 009 Last week,we went to Goodwill store and I found this picture frame for $1.99.At first,we thought we’ll put our family picture in it and hang somewhere.

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It was cheaper than the original price and I could tell it never been used.

blog 011Sometimes my husband accuses me of being a hoarder for saving old stuffs that I don’t need. Like last year’s calendar.There’s no way I will toss them when there are twelve beautiful and captivating photos included.Some banks(I think) run a photo contest and ask photographers to submit their professionally pictures taken to be included in their calendar.

blog 012And this what I got.Plus, my husband loves it and can’t believe how cheaply I made it.For only $1.99 plus a little creativity.

Being married to American

blog 007This is one of my personal posts and for sure won’t be the last.I woke up early today before 5 AM and I’m glad I enjoy this quietude while my family is still sleeping. I’ve been thinking of my family back home when reading the news about the typhoon.It hit our region first and they say they’re okay.I know the feeling when this calamity comes usually no power,flooding and a lot of cleaning to do after it passed.Sigh.

I miss home.

If only we have a lot of money I wish to go back there every year but having two little girls to haul (my husband doesn’t want to fly again,his back bothers him so much) it would be hard for me and to our pocket.How could we afford spending at least $4K in airfare alone in our current situation?

Anyhow, three more years will be soon enough for us.I’m excited to look forward for that day.A lot of thoughts and wishes I keep on thinking and this is what happens when you are thousand miles away from my family.Hard to say,this is one of the sacrifices you have to deal with when you marry someone of a different race.You move or he has to move.

In our case,I have to come over and live in America to start a family with him.I couldn’t picture of him living in the Philippines,we would need air conditioner in the house to keep him cool all the time.He’s scared to drive especially in Manila,he thinks there are lot of crazy drivers,I think this is an issue everywhere.I’m glad he behaved well in front of my family when we went for a vacation and he enjoyed the visit as he said.

Well.

What it’s like to be married to American?My friends told me how “lucky” I am to find him (okay,I really didn’t intentionally find him,the way we met was a fate).The word “lucky” won’t depict my marriage with him and “I would look so exotic when I get there”.The stereotype of marrying foreigners especially Westerners is overrated.Few months after we got married I was asked how come “I wasn’t building a house right away like other Filipina wives?”.I was astounded and didn’t know how to answer the question.

Finally the thought sank in,I tell them I have to earn it I guess.I didn’t marry him to be my money machine.I have plans that someday,if I will build a home,it will be from my pocket.A lot of stories I heard about this kind of hackneyed idea and I don’t want to be like them.

Before we even get married I faced comments like “I just want to come over to America that’s why I will marry him”,”Is your marriage for real?” and “WOW! (with unexplained face)” but what I’m gonna do when you encounter questions like those?.Some are genuine comments and some are I don’t know.

I thought I learned all but to my surprise I have to learn a lot and please don’t think I’m lambasting others,this is just my personal thought.

  • You have to work for money. This is everywhere.I work so hard to help our finances because we don’t have the high-paying job. Some are blessed to be a stay-at-home mom because their husbands can afford to support them on sole income.But don’t be surprised when you know somebody who does hard jobs like working at a packing house or nursing homes.They’re not easy to do and it takes a lot of courage to do them.For example,since we know working these kind of jobs means more money some go for it but I can’t.If I decided to work at the packing house there’s no way I could stay longer,the temperature is so cold and I needed a layer of clothes to keep me comfortable.
  • It’s not that easy as they thought. In our culture,it’s given that when you go abroad to live for good or to work for the rest of your life,family back home thinks we get it somewhere easily (like finding dollars on the street) but it’s not.A lot of emotional and physical pain we have to endure.I’m not talking in a morbid way but for those who do (tougher) blue-collar jobs just to support their family,they have no idea.There are times I miss my sisters so bad and I really wanted to see them but I have to deal it whether I like it or not.
  • Some are faking it. Don’t be jealous of all the pictures on their social media.Facebook,for instance,is the place where you can brag what you got,what you are doing and where you go.Okay,let’s be honest,we can take a throne for our love of “selfies” but for Pete’s sake,you don’t have to detail what’s going on to your life everyday like eating at McDonald’s or fancy restaurants, going to the dentist or to the gym and such.When we came back last year to see my family,my mother told me that “some are surprised to see me not that fancy”.I wasn’t loaded with tons of jewelries and expensive clothes or accessories,it was just so simple.I know some people just to look fancy they will wear things that are imitated.
  • English is only a language. I encountered few ladies who act like they so adaptive when it comes to speaking the language even if we (fellow Filipinas) are the only talking to each other,it always bothers me when they keep on speaking English and watch for the accent.Some are overdoing it.But this is reality,some American husbands who have narrow-minded don’t allow their wives to speak their own language.For what?For their fear of talking behind their back and that is scary.
  • A lot really don’t have money. Okay,I might be a little exaggerated here but don’t think all of us have money,living in Midwest we do have a lot of snow and that’s for sure. As much as possible I wanted to save more money but we are in the brink of financial challenge.I wanted to visit my family more often,not wait five years or so just to do that.We went back to the Philippines four years after I came over to this country.We saved money first which was tough because two little kids and a lot of expenses on our monthly list.It was tough.I can’t imagine some who do two or three jobs just to support their family back home because they want to show them off the money they have.I don’t think I have to treat myself as their slave just to please and support them.

I’m so thankful for being married to someone who understands where I came from.We don’t take advantage of each other,we’re not in “superiority-submissiveness relationship”.We do respect each other.And I am so grateful for being married to someone who doesn’t require me not to speak my own language,who doesn’t monitor my conversation when I’m talking to someone (because I know someone who does this),who doesn’t audit our bank account because he trusts me so much.My family is well-oriented right after I started living here.It’s not what they thought,you have to work for everything to be “lucky”.

I feel bad for some fellow Filipinas  (I personally know or not) who dealt and dealing with the opposite of my gratefulness.It’s not that easy.

More decluttering to do

blog 002My past time lately is very productive-decluttering stuffs and I have a big plan on doing this.I’ll work in every room,every closet,every cabinet and toy bins.I know it will take few days for me to finish this mission but it will help me keep my sanity of not being overloaded with stuffs.

I learned to become more organized and when you buy new stuffs,old stuffs either be tossed or donated to avoid clutter in your house.It depends how you look at it.I bought clothes to our oldest daughter but I kept her baby clothes for couple years and they were sitting in the diaper boxes and laundry baskets hoping someday I would have time to get rid of them.

I wasn’t sure where my mind that time,how come I kept them for so long when I could ask friends if they’re interested to take them or just donate.I even tried to sell online but it was a headache and I didn’t make money doing it,so I gave up.Until we held garage sale and only few clothes got sold and we ended up giving them to our friend who will help another friend.

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Like me,my husband likes going to garage sale too.He finds good stuffs like this pair of shoes for one of our girls and he only paid $1 on this.Too cheap for a beautiful used shoes but the thing is,neither one of our girls could use this for one reason-too small now for them.

blog 004I used these pants many many times during my pregnancy.Remember I got pregnant in two consecutive years?I didn’t bother to buy new elastic pants for pregnant women like me because they are expensive.I just went to go to Goodwill and found these pants that I can use during the course of my two pregnancies.And the money I spent on these really worth it.I can make something useful out of it but I can’t think anything and my choice is to donate these.

For less than $4 each,I felt I made money wearing these.I got them so cheap while wearing them over and over again while I was working and now it’s time to let go of them.It means no more pregnancy on the way.They will go back where I got them and this is the time to do it.

Or.

I could send these unused items back to the Philippines through balikbayan box.I know my family can use these but it’s expensive and it takes at least two months before it arrives and you can’t just send box just full of clothes,if I want to send something they will expect some goodies too!

Anyway.

This is the only beginning of my decluttering saga,so don’t be surprised I’ll be posting many times on this topic.

 

 

 

We already saved this much

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Last Monday I went to grocery shopping with our girls (normally I do it on Thursday or Friday) to save money on gas and time after their dentist appointment.It was a challenge but satisfying when you see on the receipt how much money we saved so far.

Currently,our total savings is $456.93!

We still have five more months to come and more savings are on my way.Last year I saved over $700 that helped our monthly budget so much.

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Food4Less sent me these coupons and I used few of them. Bread and pasta were on sale last week and it was a perfect time to use them.

I make homemade wheat bread but I got two (20 oz) loaves of bread for only $1.29 cents! I also started to stockpile on laundry detergent and some canned goods.And this is why I love shopping at this store,they treat me fair by sending free items or coupons to use.There are coupons I don’t need and what I do with them is to leave at the shelves where some customers can use them.

Aside from this,I earn fuel points to save on gas which is good until the end of the month. And usually they give me code on the receipt to do online survey and earn extra 50 bonus points.I’m doing everything to save on this and that because every penny counts.They might not look as much but somehow it really helps us.

Our Goodwill shopping was awesome

blog 014You will read many many times here on this blog how I profess my love for Goodwill hunting shopping.I always motivated to shop more often everytime I find good deals on kids’ clothes and my size too.My husband shops his own.

Last time we visited Omaha to our main destination-Asian market,we didn’t miss going to Goodwill store close by.

Why?

Whenever you are in a bigger city chances are- the bigger Goodwill store there is. A lot of people.A lot of donations.A variety of items.

That’s why I was so happy that day.

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Red tags are worth .99 cents on clothes that week as their weekly special.blog 013And I got this brand new Mossimo novelty jacket.Never used and tag was attached when I bought it. Maybe,a clothing store (Target)donated this or a very nice lady decided she didn’t like it.

Either way,I got it.

For .99 cents!

Yay Goodwill!

Beef stir-fry

blog 008I made this recipe last night.I have all the ingredients ready for obvious reason,we(including the girls) just got done grocery shopping after I took them to their dentist for checkup.I confess,I’m not a big fan of bringing them at the store especially when they’re under construction and few aisles were moved but their planogram is the same.

No matter what,it was a confusing shopping for me.I have to go back and forth just to find items half on my list.

Anyway.

I bought ingredients I needed to make Beef stir-fry and I was a happy camper.It doesn’t take much time to make this and the ingredients are easy to prepare.This is one of my favorite recipes to make (twice a month) because it’s one of my family’s favorite viands.

And who doesn’t?

When the taste is appetizing and a little bit colorful and you can memorize every ingredients and its measurements.I never thought I can cook this whenever I wanted to unlike before,I used to think how complicated to make this kind of dish.

It IS so easy.

Beef stir-fry recipe

Ingredients:

2 lbs. beef,cut thinly

4 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 bell peppers (green and red),cut into strips

1/2 cup cooking oil

Procedure:

  • Mix beef,black pepper,salt and oyster sauce in a large bowl.Mix thoroughly.
  • Add cornstarch.Mix well.
  • Heat pan then put cooking oil.
  • Fry bell peppers for 3 minutes and set aside.
  • Using the same pan and oil,put the marinated beef  and stir fry until mixture dries out.
  • You may add a little bit of water if the meat is not yet tender.
  • Combine the meat and bell peppers.
  • This is perfecto with rice!

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P.S-Did you notice the green peppers on the picture?They’re freshly picked from our garden.

 

 

Making “to-do-list” everyday

blog 004Making to-do-list is one of my favorite things to do everyday if I wanted to be productive.Too many times I just procrastinate and feel bad when things don’t get done.I always feel guilty doing this.

I started doing this list two years ago.On and off.

And I have to be consistent now because I feel better when I do a lot of things around the house.I’m not saying to turn myself to be a clock watcher just to cross off what’s on my list.This works fine to me.

blog 005I don’t want to sound like a “to-do-list freak” in the name of productivity.I take it easy and don’t stress myself.

I used to write everything on post-it notes to make sure I won’t forget to do something really important.Since blogging is part of my daily activities (usually five times a week),a lot of times, it eats my half day writing post,reading and commenting to other blogs.

I bought this notebook from Goodwill store for .99 cents.I decided to write down everything on here because couple times,I lost my post-it notes.I usually put it on the fridge or on a china cabinet.

And by doing this,I always feel I get things done accordingly.I don’t push myself to finish things in one day,if I get tired and get sidetracked by something or our girls need something,I put what on my list aside and it all depends on my priorities.

This is my guide everyday what to do but I don’t let this treat me like a robot and feel like tense because I have this “list” to finish.

I enjoy doing this,for me this is satisfying if at the end I see myself being productive even in small ways.It makes me feel organized too!

I’m working six straight days

blog 021Literally speaking,I DO have more work to do to my workplace,as usual.I started my week last Tuesday and will finish on early Sunday morning. Including the schedule variations,it was not fun at all.What I learned in life that works the best and applicable to any job is teamwork and thorough consideration with others.

I’m not a self-proclaimed workaholic because I am really not.I turned down many favors because I have another life to deal with.Besides, life is not all about working.

Last week,I worked 7 straight days.SEVEN.Too many for me and I salute those people who do this and I’m sure there are lot of them.Now,I’m gaining because it’s minus one day this week.

Supposedly,it’s my weekend off but my coworker has important family affair to go to. Although it’s not my fault if they have this but if it makes  easier for our team to handle this,why not step up on the plate,right?.

Admittedly,I’m not seeking for any promotions for doing this only pay raise but I know it will not be hard for somebody.Here’s our deal,we switched shifts.I took his two days work and he’ll take mine.Sounds really fair to me.

Some say,it’s my weekend off that his taking away from me.Then again,he’ll work for me too!My husband neither mad nor very unhappy about it.Why?Weekend is the only time our family does something when we’re going somewhere.I have to sleep in all morning on Saturday and take a nap on Sunday then get ready to go church.

That’s our game plan.

We go to church alternately every weekend.One Saturday night and Sunday morning the next week.That’s how my work schedule works.And this weekend my husband will take the girls somewhere,bonding time for father and daughters by going to garage sales and going to McDonald’s afterwards to give me time to rest.It’s hard for me to sleep during the daytime when they’re around.The TV is on,they play everywhere and they bother me and they can’t resist by doing it.

I will do my grocery shopping list,paying bills and decluttering our closets.My to-do-list starts to pile up too.I really wanted to do those things every afternoon but I don’t want to do anything but take a nap.The good news is,after doing this long workdays,I won’t be back to work until Tuesday morning.Monday is not really a day off for me,I will take our girls to their dentist appointment later in the afternoon and maybe will hit the Goodwill store to find clothes for the oldest daughter.

How are you going to spend your weekend?

I hate being late

blog 003How many times we heard or read these quotes about time.

Time is gold.

Time is money.

And when I was an elementary student,quotes like these were on the school room’s wall. Just to ponder.

And now,I hate the fact that sometimes I arrive late at work,at the parties or other activities.It is embarrassing and it should stop from now on.I know the importance of time especially when you are applying for a job,though you don’t want to arrive too early.

Just for the last two weeks,I was late twice. One was half hour late and the latest was only couple minutes late.Even if it’s only two minutes late or less than five minutes,still,it bugs me to come to work late. And I know,no matter how many thousand of excuses I come up with,I looked unprofessional on those two scenarios.

My half hour late.

It was my own fault.I didn’t go to bed early enough to get at least six hours of sleep.If you don’t know how my schedule works.It is weird.I work different shifts.A lot of times,I start at 4am until 11am,couple times a week I do 6am and for the next two weeks,I will do 11pm until 6am.It really varies.So,my sleeping habits are becoming terrible.

If I have to work at 4am,I set my alarm at 3:30am and this is when I already took a shower the night before.It’s very convenient that way and it only takes me fifteen minutes to get ready from washing my face to putting work clothes on plus I’m only three minutes away from work.Bonus!

That morning I was late,I turned off the alarm.I should’ve been hit the snooze button instead.Suddenly,my coworker called me nineteen minutes after my shift started.So,I have to get up and hurried to get to work.I didn’t only feel embarrassed to myself but to my other coworker who did the job that I supposedly been doing.I apologized couple times and I had to explain myself.And my morning started with full of guilt.My bad.

My couple minutes late.

I know it’s not that big deal but I’m working with some people who are punctual and I don’t want to be known for being tardy.They know I always show up to work and never late.This was the time when I had to go back and forth because I forgot to grab something (like meat to be thawed out or my work hat!) or when I’m just being sluggish for the day.

On these tardiness I have to make up for my hours,either to work half hour later or work fifteen minutes extra in two days.I don’t have problem with only two minutes,it’s easy to make it up but my main problem is,this habit should stop because honestly,it bugs me.

When I have to work at 6am,I never been late because I get up before 5am to do something while everybody’s still sleeping and with the fact that I got my full eight hours of sleep and I feel great.

And you know me and my husband came from two different worlds and cultures.And sometimes we have problems dealing with “time”.He’s an early bird while I’m not Johnny-on-the-spot,though,I’m trying to be always on time.

Like for example,when we go to church.He gets ready fifteen minutes before while I’m still busy fixing the girls’ hair then I have to take care myself,still,we arrive at the church five minutes early.I remember on our wedding day,he’s already dressed up three hours early before the ceremony.

He always tells me,he likes to arrive early because that’s the American way.

Hmm…

Should I tell him because I have my Filipino way?

It would be an unfair statement to generalize Filipinos when it comes to Filipino time.My grandmother doesn’t like being late either.Too many times,we’re scolded by her for preparing late like going to fiesta,church or an event.She just doesn’t like being tardy.She’s an old fashioned as she said.Well,she’s 81 years old and she likes to nag.She always tells us “do not start late when going somewhere,start early”. This should be the lesson I learned from her that I ignored growing up and now,although not struggling,I’m in the process to master my time-for not being late at any circumstance.

I know this is not funny to talk about my colleagues in college where we had to practice for our Greek mythology subject.We used to do that on every Saturday.The waiting time for other casts took longer than the real practice.We’re lucky we started an hour late.The one who comes late,makes the dramatic entrance.It’s fun for them but annoying to others.

This post is not about constantly clock-watching because it’s gonna stressful but this is the area of my life I have to focus on because for me,time is life.

 

 

 

Does American dream cost that much?

blog 003One of my favorite blogs to read is Joshua’s blog about minimalism. His latest post is very intriguing and it’s about the America’s national ethos-The American dream.Few times I asked my husband how he defines it?Then he answered, a nice home,nice cars,good job and good life because America is known for liberty and freedom and through hard work you can achieve prosperity and success.

Joshua talked about the USA Today’s article Price tag for the American dream: $130K a year!

Say what?!

If this is true,people in this country could barely afford  this dream.We don’t make this much but still,we feel we DO enjoy the American dream.

newnew 016Home ownership.They say the median cost to buy a house is  $275K (with a huge dollar sign). As you might not know,we do live in a two-story house that we bought for only $30K with 7-year mortgage payment.It’s an old house and we got a very good deal buying this which we are very thankful.But we put down 20% plus some renovation costs to make it more livable for us like replacing the carpet,heating pumps,water line and patio door.As a homeowner you will bear some costs like these.I know this estimate is really happening because I know people who have mortgage for a quarter million dollar home.It’s really a huge house for a family of four.I saw big houses with that price tag and there’s no way I could live in there.A big area to clean,a big electric bills and a big mortgage payment every month.So why need that kind of price tag?Yes,it’s because of American dream!

newnew 007Groceries. You might know how much our monthly grocery bill is?I try to keep it under $400 a month-for our family including two little girls.According to the article,they used the Department of Agriculture’s moderate-cost grocery plan for a family of four for a whopping $12,659 a year!Meaning,a family would cost $1,055 a month which is almost three times compared to ours.Let me iterate,we have two little girls-no formula or any baby foods.

We save a lot of money by making home cooked meals,using coupons,buying some store brands and watching different store sale ads.That’s how we save so much money on groceries.This figure is way too much for a family of four,just saying.

Cars. They used AAA’s estimation about owning one four-wheel drive SUV.It would cost you $11,039 a year.Hmm…And I’m sure it’s brand new,its license and taxes,premiums and maintenance costs. We have a very reliable cars but never have them as brand-new.All are used and it works great for us.Remember what they say?The moment you drive a brand new car off a dealer’s lot,it loses value.That’s a fact. Who needs fancy cars?The people who think they do!Some will think,I have to keep up with my income level and how I perceived by my friends,I bought a big house,so why not buy big car,right?I.Just.Don’t.Get.It.

Other expenses (health premiums,entertainment,internet,cellphone bills,etc). We’re thankful between me and my husband’s jobs we do get health insurance and what’s we’re working right now is how to keep our family healthy because it will cost TOO MUCH money to get sick and many trips at the doctor’s office.We don’t have expensive entertainment,although we love outdoors,we don’t own any camper,boat,ATV or anything to do for entertainment outdoor except fishing rod that we never used and a small red tent. And we do have cheap internet and cable,for less than $100 a month,our family enjoy watching our favorite shows (although I don’t have any). And no,our kids don’t have flat screen TV in their bedroom,but they do have small old analog TV that my husband got for them for $5 at the garage sale.No cable connected,for movie purposes only.And let’s talk about our cellphone.Some people will think we’re cheap for not owning Iphones or Android or smartphones but what we got is a cheap prepaid phones that only cost us $35.49 a month compared to $400 cellphone bill for a family of four.I’m not kidding,I talked to a lady who shared with me how much their family cellphone bill is-$400 a month for a family plan.Ouch! There’s no way I will work so hard just to pay this “necessity”.For me,it’s not a smart choice.

So wonder why American dream seems so expensive these days?It’s not because everything went skyrocketed but people choose to go with the flow just to “fit” in this society.We can still achieve this dream without the $130K a year income level,it’s all in our mindset that it should be expensive. And what’s the American dream when you will dig yourself in an endless debts just to get it?

The article made a clear statement that they took their estimates based on the bigger cities and since we live in Midwest,it will cost us much less.But it’s not only applicable to the people from bigger cities,even towns with less cost of living count too because people want to keep up with them.

For this price tag,you need to be very very successful in a certain field to get this,or spend many years in school and climb the corporate ladder to get promotions and be a big time in a company or you should have a very profitable business or working many hours and sacrifice your family and personal life.

And No.

Our American dream does not cost this much.