What Christmas is Over?!

Are you feeling the same way…Christmas snuck up on you and then you really never got a chance to enjoy it properly? Are you having Christmas music withdrawal? Well then you’ve come to the right blog…(Don’t worry you can keep your Christmas decor up till Super Bowl, we don’t judge) We’re going to showcase a few of the homemade presents we gave this year over the next few Sundays because now it’s finally safe to spoil the surprise! (Nearly all the presents have arrived to their final destination, minus two. Thanks UPS, grrrr!) The featured gift today was for my mother in law and sister in law to remember our family holiday vacation this year.


All in all these were really easy and simple to make…
Some twine
A couple small abalone shells(please buy in store, don’t go pick off these little ones in nature it’s illegal in California) ours were from an antique store in Monterey
A little sprig of wired pine garland from the dollar store (preferably with little berries or mini pine cones for an added touch)
Small piece of cork board or crafters wood
Hot glue gun and a glue stick for it

First cut and loop some twine through one of abalone holes.

Next write your message on the cork or wood that is cut to the appropriate dimensions for your shell. Then bend the piece of wire pine garland, do a quick dry run to see if the garland and cork/wood will fit the shell. Finally glue to the bottom edge of the shell the garland, then the cork/wood above it.

Super easy, quick and sea inspired Christmas ornament! See you next Sunday!


Don’t forget the adults! (Last minute Christmas gift ideas)

This Christmas has definitely felt the most hectic and craziest compared to other years. (And we don’t even have kids yet) Poor blog has felt a little of my Christmas burn out. Which is why sharing this last minute Christmas gift idea seemed appropriate…Santas “Survival kits”…

Because remember Santa is an adult too, but just in case there is the non-alcoholic version for the chocolate lover in your life…

Basically I started making homemade Mexican spiced hot chocolate powder this past month and created little pre-made packages to give to co-workers, friends, and family who need a little pick me up…These packages of chocolate goodness are easy to make and less expensive then cookies, breads, etc.
First find a washed little jar (baby food or pimentos). Then glue a piece of fabric to the top.


Next mix your ingredients for the Mexican spiced hot chocolate:
1/4 cup chocolate powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of chili powder
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Pour in your jar, put on the lid, then top it off with a piece of pine garland and twine. You can add your favorite mini bottle of almond liqueur, kahlua or even just a big chocolate covered pretzel to make it special. As for wrapping I just used left over stamped bags from our wedding with a monogrammed sticker.

All in all, a fun, quick, and inexpensive gift idea for the neighbors, co-workers and even that friend with the crazy family;-) Merry Christmas everyone.

Finally some Christmas Cheer!

With all these printables you probably thought we’d forgotten Christmas?…Nope! We may be on a tight budget but that doesn’t mean we’re Scrooges. Luckily decorating a house doesn’t have to break the bank. Most of our decorations were hand me downs from family and gifts from friends, which makes them all the more special. Although we still haven’t upgraded our “dorm room” sized tree, but the hubby ensures me it’s his favorite spot in the house to enjoy a Christmas cocktail. (He loves his vintage, “Mad men” chair) Here are a few pictures that will hopefully brighten your morning all via the iPhone. We’ll be back next week with last minute Christmas gift ideas. Happy holidays!








Our Busy People Series…The Busy Investor…And where are the dogs?

We are busy, busy people…We work very long hours and are dedicated to our careers. We run a blog, starting a part-time business, renovating an old home, and are parents to two high maintenance pooches. (Who are probably more toddler-like than the average toddler). Which is why I am constantly trying to find new ways to be better organized, efficient, and manage my time wisely. Hence the Busy People Series was born!

We kicked it off with the Busy Budgeter, and now we’re on to the Busy Investor.

Free Investment Printables Cover

Ugh! Investments! Yuck! Retirement! Those are words dreaded by many. Including my husband. His eyes will glaze over with boredom, and even try to sidle his way out of the room. While I’m definitely the number crunching, science, and business nerd in the relationship. I love it! In fact I’ve been part of a women’s investment group/book club for the last three years. (SHOUT OUT TO THE FAB LADIES OF LEAP!)

What I’ve learned from the group is that investments and retirement planning can be intimidating for many women. (Some of us came to the group knowing absolutely nothing about finance.) Yet you don’t have to be a day trader, financial whiz or number crunching nerd to be successful in investing. Which is why we wanted to share our system that is both time saving, organized, and easy to follow. All you need is a little time set aside every month or every 3 months to sit down and review your accounts. Here we go…

First free printable is easy…A cute cover…Unlike the last Busy Budgeter printables, these are meant to fit in a standard 3 ring binder. (Because who wants to trek around ALL their important retirement and investment info?)

Free Investment Printables Cover  Free_investment_printable_cover

Second are the money goals…Creating a short-term, mid-term, and long-term plan for your money is crucial to making your money work for you. We need money goals to help stay the course for where we want to be financially in the next 1, 5 or 20+ years. For example maybe a money goal for you is to buy a house in the next five years and you need to save for a down payment. Write it down in the time period that suites your finances best. Also have fun and go wild with your goals! You might end up hitting one or all if you stay the course. Even the free spirited, creative dreamers love this part!

Free Investment Printables Money GoalsFree_investment_printable_money_goals

Third are your asset and liabilities trackers…Use the printables to keep a running tally of what you have and what you owe. If you are using the Busy Budgeter trackers then you may already have this information readily available. Yay for saving time!

Free Investment Printables Asset TrackerFree Investment Printables Liabilities Tracker

Free_investment_printable_assets                     Free_investment_printable_liabilities

The monthly graphs allow you to track your progress on each. (Write your totals from the trackers on the vertical line for each corresponding month) Also don’t forget to write down notes of encouragement as you go.

Free Investment Printables Asset GraphFree Investment Printables Liabilities Graph

Free_investment_printable_assets_graph Free_investment_printable_liabilities_graph

Your goal is to see your Assets graph go up, and your Liabilities graph go down. I’ve found the graphs to be incredibly helpful in providing a visual of our progress. If you’re a visual person who hates number crunching these graphs are fabulous for staying motivated.

Now the next is MY favorite part…Its your Investment/Retirement “Buckets”…This is the easiest way to understand the concept of “Asset Allocation”. (And the part where my hubby’s eyes glaze over) In fact not even the financial gurus can fully explain how the concept works…But here is how it works for us. Essentially who wants to place all their nest “eggs” in one basket right? We have found it easier to think of our investment accounts as different baskets, or rather “Buckets”. For example we have a “bucket”/account that is conservative, one for aggressive growth, one for short term savings, one for balance, etc. (Here’s a visual example)

Investment Buckets example

You want your investments to “zig when others are zagging” or visa versa. When the market is good our conservative “bucket” will lag, and my balanced or growth “bucket” normally does great. Each bucket either resides in a specific type of account best suited for the tax advantages, borrowing options, liquidity…(Wait I know I lost some of you now)…Instead here is a great resource to learn more about types of accounts, advantages/disadvantages and terms at Investopedia.com (ie. IRA, Roth IRA, 401K, 403Bs, online brokerage, etc) Also when you access your investment accounts, there is a tab or field called the “year to date”, and normally there will be a return % available. You use this number to see how well you did in your investment account (the ROI or return on your investment).

Free Investment Printables Investment BucketsFree_investment_printable_investments

If you want to skip this printable be my guest. Basically this is just great practice for investing and understanding retirement. You don’t need to focus on the day to day gains or losses, but rather calculating, and being knowledgeable is half the battle. The Labor Department surveyed that only 42% of Americans have actually tried to calculate how much they will need for retirement. While USAToday stated 74% of the baby boomers are falling short, which doesn’t bode well for us youngsters. At least staying organized, tracking and creating money goals will start us on the right foot.

Lastly is the Statements and Correspondence cover…A great place to separate and store your account statements and letters from your investments. Basically the binder is designed to be your one-stop, central place for all things investing.

Free Investment Printables Statements and Correspondence CoverFree_investment_printable_statements

Have we lost you? Hopefully not. Instead we hope this post will help you as an early kick off to your New Years resolutions and a good tool for organizing that file cabinet. We promise in the coming Sundays we’ll be back to dogs, home and holiday cheer. Till then, Happy Sunday everyone!