Thursday, June 2, 2016

Good Morning Beautiful!

Are you awake yet? Have you started your morning routine? Mine is never the same. I have no set time to get up. I am very lucky that my husband wants to do the morning routine thing himself. And Miss Brooke is now definitely old enough to get herself up and off to work every morning. The Beau had lived the single life for 9 years before we were married. He had settled into a set routine of getting up at a certain time, how he proceeded to get ready, ate breakfast, and if DD2 was with him, his routine was set with her for 9 years already. When we were first married, I wanted to impress him by getting up, fixing breakfast for everyone, fixing lunches, etc. It just didn't work. He was so set in his ways and we all know, women are more flexible than men. Other than getting myself ready, I really didn't have anything to do in the morning except for maybe moving the girls along. He had to take DD2 to her bus stop since she was in a different school district and his work was right beside Miss Brooke's school while in middle school and just past her high school, therefor he just dropped her off.

As you may recall, I became very ill 4 months into our marriage and haven't worked since. The morning routine continued as it had been and I wasn't required to get up in the mornings. As I set, I have no set time to get up unless I have an appointment scheduled. I wake up when I wake up. My sleep can be very erratic so I may wake up and be up for awhile and then go back to sleep. However, when I do wake up, I try to maintain some sort of routine.

Before I ever get out of bed, I check my iPhone for all of the notifications I have received thus far. I get up and I wash my face and moisturize, brush my hair, and put on something resembling clothes. I usually will find something to eat for breakfast and then hit the computer. I will read and take care of emails and do anything the Beau asks me to do on the computer. He is definitely not computer literate! I keep joking with him that I am signing him up for basic computer courses. I start reading blogs and that usually takes up my morning. I know it isn't much and not very interesting but some have asked and I thought I would share here on the blog!

I should get more organized with my morning routine. I need to try to get up at a pretty set time and get out and walk (I wish I could run like so many of you) while it's still the cooler part of the day. I need to make plans for each and every day. I think once we get through with the painters (another story for another day) and get the carpet installed and it's time to start getting the house back into shape, I will be ready for a more routine day. What's better than making your house pretty and more like a home than just a house???

So what do you do for your morning routines? Any rituals to share? Set breakfasts you have to have every day? Leave a comment and share with my readers.

And most of all,

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Beauty of the Sea

"I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought."
— Helen Keller, Writer

"When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused."
— Rainer Maria Rilke. Poet

"The waves of the sea help me get back to me."
— Jill Davis, Writer

"A beach is not only a sweep of sand, but shells of sea creatures, the sea glass, the seaweed, the incongruous objects washed up by the ocean."
— Henry Grunwald, Journalist

"Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war."
— Loren Eiseley, Writer

"Limitless and immortal, the waters are the beginning and end of all things on earth."
— Heinrich Zimmer, Historian

Monday, May 30, 2016

Let Us Never Forget

Today is a holiday. On holidays, we celebrate. We use holidays as reasons to party and have a great time. However, certain holidays are for solemn reasons. Memorial Day, which we tend to use as our official kick off to summer, is an United States Federal holiday whose sole purpose is to remember the people that died while serving in our country's armed forces. Though solemn as this holiday may be, it does give us right to celebrate. We celebrate the lives that have been lost.

While enjoying your day at the beach or pool, or the "holiday weekend" or the big barbecue, make sure to take a few moments of silence and remember these brave souls. It is the reason for this holiday and the reason we celebrate.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Planning a Vacation?

With this weekend being what most Americans consider the kickoff to summer, many of us are starting to plan vacations. Many of you have already planned them.

Before I start talking vacation planning, let me share something with you.

According to the US Census Bureau, Beau makes an above average salary for the US but we are definitely in the middle class. I consider us living paycheck to paycheck because we don't spend beyond our paycheck. If we can't pay cash, we just don't do it! The only time we use our credit card is if ordering online, making reservations, or our Lowes card or my Belk card (ladies, you know the sales you get if you use your Belk card and those reward dollars!) if we can get a discount using it to make the purchase. The big difference, we immediately write our check to the credit card company and put it in the mail. Or if I am in Belks, I turn right around and pay that amount on my credit card to the same cashier! We live by cash and by cash alone.

I don't know how many of you are Dave Ramsey fans but Beau and I definitely are fans. There are some things he says that I question but overall, following his Christian based financial plan is putting us in a great position. And having no credit card debt helps!

Today, in my Facebook notifications, there were several from Dave Ramsey. One just happened to be on vacation planning. I was amazed how many of these we were already doing but some things we can definitely work on, and one I won't compromise on!

Here are Dave Ramsey's 7 Silly Ways We Waste Money on Vacation:

7 Silly Ways We Waste Money on Vacation

An overpriced bowl of oatmeal from room service. A hula-dancer accessory for your dashboard. A hat shaped like a lobster. These are just some of the silly ways we waste money on vacation.

We make such purchases because we have more carefree attitudes about spending while on vacation than we do in everyday life. But we shouldn’t let a vacation mind-set completely derail our money goals with overspending. What if you could tweak how you spend on your vacation and have just as much fun? It’s completely doable!

Here are seven of the silliest ways we blow money on trips, along with suggestions for putting that cash to better use.

1. Souvenirs you don’t use.
Sombreros and rubber frogs are fun to pose with while taking a selfie in the gift shop, but do you really want to spend a chunk of money for things that will clutter a shelf or get buried in your closet?

A better idea: Buy a keepsake you’ll use like a coffee mug or Christmas tree ornament.

Very rarely do we buy more than 1 souvenir. At our souvenir is always a Christmas tree ornament with the location and year written or printed on it. When our girls were younger, every trip included at least one educational outing and we encouraged their choice of souvenir to be something educational or something that had staying power so they would have a permanent reminder of that trip to go along with the memories. (BTW, when Miss Brooke was younger, we (my parents, Miss Brooke, and I) would take our big vacations during the school year. We would let the school know way ahead of time that this was coming and she would be approved for the leave of absence but would have to do something extra while on vacation. If we were going to Disney (back then we would do all the parks during vacation) we would make use of all the educational resources available. The requirements would change as she aged. One thing that was very fun was getting an Epcot passport. You have to find all the places among the different countries that were "passport stamp" spots and do an activity designed for that country and then get your passport stamped. She would then do an extended show and tell upon her return. Every Disney park as many education opportunities available to do on your own. On one trip to Universal Studios, she did a little paper on Dr. Seuss because of the Seussical area of the theme park. You can always find something education or historical to do on any vacation, and you may just be amazed at how much your children, even teenagers, enjoy it the outing.

2. Vacations that are too long.
Have you ever felt ready to go home near the end of a weeklong getaway? Probably. Staying anywhere for too long—and paying an average of $120.01 a night for a hotel room—makes it tough to fully enjoy those last few days of the trip.

A better idea: Return home after four or five days. You’ll leave when the fun levels off, get extra time at home to rest, and pay a smaller hotel bill. 

We do all major vacations for a week or more. Now that Beau and I do so many mini trips and with odd days, like maybe to the beach from Thursday until the following Tuesday or Wednesday. We have found with the type of schedule utilized on his job that we can build in his scheduled day off and holidays and get almost a week with him only having to use 8 or 16 hours of vacation instead of 40 which leads us to taking more little trips. However, unless there is an emergency, we never leave a vacation early or make it for less than a full week for a major trip.

Time to Take Control Now

3. Buying expensive treats.
Theme parks overcharge for treats because they know you love the convenience of grabbing a soda or ice cream cone between roller coaster rides. They also know you are willing to pay more if the kids are getting hungry and cranky.

A better idea: Eat a big breakfast and make frequent trips to the water fountains to keep everyone hydrated until the next meal.

Most theme parks now allow you to bring in your own snacks and water bottles. Think of things like trail mix and packs of Nabs to carry along. Avoid anything chocolate, especially in the summer. Also, include things like PopTarts. I know they aren't the healthiest but they can help fill a kid up for a longer period of time. We always check ahead to see what is allowed to be brought in. Bring insulated bottles as they will keep your water colder longer especially if the water fountains aren't all that cold. And think about this, if you were to invest in some of the more expensive insulated bottles like Yeti (and others that keep them colder even longer than Yeti), you will still spend less than all of the drinks purchased at a them park.  Be careful with fruit as it can attract insects and may start going bad outside in the heat. Use fruit to help satiate hunger in the morning hours.

Also check to see if there are meal tickets that you can purchase. For example SeaWorld parks (including their waterpark) has an all day meal ticket for $19.99 (at last check). You are limited to where you purchase food, but it is unlimited all day and drinks are unlimited.

4. Not checking for attraction discounts.
Museums, tours, and aquariums are great ways to fit a little culture or nature into your trip. But paying full price for tickets quickly adds up, especially if you have kids.

A better idea: Do some pre-getaway research for discounts and coupons to local attractions. Also, check for more deals at the visitor center. Collecting information gets you excited for the trip and can give you ideas for new adventures!

Also, check out free attractions in the area you are visiting. At our beach, there are great places you can go for free. Some ask for donations while others don't ask for anything. We have several museums that are free or discounted. In fact, only the aquarium charges an admission fee. 

5. Eating all meals at restaurants.
The average cost of the cheapest chain restaurant in America is $12.17 per person. Imagine spending that much, or close to it, 21 times during your stay. That’s enough to make you lose your appetite.

A better idea: Eat at least one meal a day in your room. Stop at the grocery store and pick up bread, fruits, pastries, lunchmeat and drinks. You can relax while eating and save your energy for the day’s activities.

I agree 100%. Although I like to consider vacation a time when I don't have to do anything in particular or mundane like cooking, it does save money. We are blessed that my family has had our little place at the beach since 1986. AND my parents purchased a timeshare that we have been able to make work. The original one we bought is now just used the week it was purchased for in late October and my dad or my parents go down and my dad fishes to his heart's content. We used to use it to travel to many different places including different places in Orlando. We happen to come across a resort that we fell in love with and timeshares had moved on to interval ownerships and used points instead of weeks for travel. And they purchased a place in Orlando that is not part of Disney but is the only non Disney property to back up to a Disney park. So 99% of the time, we have a full kitchen. Breakfast and lunch is always had at "home" if we are not on an outing. The type of vacation we are on will dictate dinner. If at the beach, there are 2 places we always eat, the rest of the time we grill out or cook something simple inside. If it is a big, full family vacation, each family group takes a night or two and is responsible for dinner. This includes the girls. In fact, Miss Brooke and her friends LOVE to cook for us. One thing we usually do in Orlando, and I think it is one of the best deals, if Dinner and a Movie at Universal Studios CityWalk. For a VERY reasonable price you get dinner and a movie. Only a select number of restaurants at CityWalk participate and most have specially marked items for Dinner and a Movie, but the food is always spot on and we can rotate restaurants. So your meal is included minus alcohol and your movie ticket to the huge theater at CityWalk is included. We always eat dinner together but then split up to see different movies and not necessarily by family group or age group. If Beau and I go somewhere that doesn't have a kitchen, we always make sure there is a mini fridge and microwave. We love trying new restaurants and avoid any type of chain restaurant. I'll change that last comment, we avoid any chain restaurant we can eat at at home. We usually have leftovers that can be headed up the next day for lunch in the room's microwave.

6. Doing too much.
It’s tempting to cram as many activities into a getaway as possible, especially if you go to a big city with a lot of famous landmarks. Just don’t try to do too much. You’ll wear yourself out and pay for things you won’t fully enjoy.

A better idea: Do one or two activities a day. When you’re done, you can either schedule something else or take the rest of the day off. Either way, you win.

Another one I agree with. Unless it is a trip of a lifetime, don't overdo. One, you'll be too exhausted at the end of the day and the next day probably won't start out well. Two, you won't enjoy what you are doing. And three, you'll come home needing a vacation to recover from your vacation.

Hopefully, most places you can always return to for another vacation. That's one reason we don't always do the theme parks or all the theme parks when we go to Orlando. Our resort, you don't ever need to leave unless you want. You are still on property going to the Publix grocery store.

When planning make a list of the must do activities and try to plan rest time in between outings. Lots of our beach trips, there are some things we feel we must do every time or it just doesn't seem like we went to our beach. We always plan a day of just beaching it between those full outing days. Always call and ask how long it takes to do an activity on their busiest of days. That gives you a better idea of how long you may need to fully enjoy the activity. If you finish early, then on to something else. Also, if many of your activities are outside activities, always leave a day or two available in case of bad weather where you can possibly change the day you were scheduled for an activity. 

My last piece of advice, try not to plan any major activity for the last day before you leave. Pack as much as you can early in the day and then just enjoy the rest of time you are there.

7. Purchasing plane tickets to nearby destinations.
We fly to save time. But if your vacation spot is just six or seven hours away by car, then spending an average of $377 per plane ticket only saves you a little time, but it costs you a lot of money.

A better idea: Drive. It’s less expensive—which leaves you more cash for the actual trip—and some of the best family-and-friend bonding happens when you have a few extra hours on the road.

Again, I agree! I love to fly, I may be one of the few. However, we generally drive. We have driven as far as the far eastern part of Connecticut, as south as Orlando, and as west as Chicago to the north and Birmingham to the south. (I live in central NC) I love road trips. I love seeing the beauty of this country. I many times hate the amount of time it takes. I love planning extra time to arrive at our destination and extra time to make it home. There just may be a sign for something I want to explore. Something that this may be the only time I will ever witness this location or this happening. It's all about making memories!

It’s fun to be silly on vacation, but don’t let things get so cuckoo that your money slips away. Plan ahead and be a little practical in your spending. You’ll be glad you did—because it’s a lot more enjoyable to eat lobster than to buy a hat that makes you look like one!

Regardless of how much you decide to spend on your vacation, make sure that you do it intentionally, and with cash. 

We have taken many trips to the coast for long weekends and week long vacations. Beau can't stand to be still, even on vacation. That comes with the exception of lying on the beach for a period of time or sitting on the beach enjoying the sunset before we are off to do something else. We have also had many wonderful vacations to other locations including a trip to Orlando to celebrate Miss Brooke's high school graduation/18th birthday/send off to college where she took a friend (my parents as well as my brother and his family and a friend of my niece) and then Miss Brooke's college graduation trip Orlando where 3 of her friends accompanied her (as well as the same as above, and DD2 and her friend). We even surprised ALL the girls with a day at Disney (we don't always hit the theme parks when we go to Orlando but some times we go to a park every day) and most of the girls with a trip to watch the Red Sox play the Tampa Bay Rays. We don't skimp on vacations and we make tons of memories, whether it's a full out family vacation or a getaway with just me and my honey. We live our vacations to the fullest.

I personally believe you will find that you can have an amazing vacation, making many memories, if you don't have to worry about coming home to credit card debt.

So what about you, what money saving tips can you share with my readers? Please leave a comment below and...

Friday, May 27, 2016

30 Days of Gratefulness

If you have been following me on Instagram (@beaufortbelle), then you know that everyday I have been posting a #30DaysOfGratefulness post stating something I am grateful for that day. It may be a picture or it may just be something like the above image, always with the #30Days hashtag.

Before posting the first one, I posted as to why I was doing this. A friend posted that he basically had been walking around in a funk lamenting about all he didn't have. Now, if you knew about him, you wouldn't believe he was even thinking these things. He went to a very prestigious, private high school, he followed his brother to Duke University where he was the manager on the Duke basketball team for 3 years. His senior year, he managed to turn that manager position into being a walk-on player for the Duke basketball team which won the National Championship in 2015. He graduated on time from Duke and he landed a job which many recent college grads don't.

Like him, we don't stop and think about what we have, we think about what we don't have. He decided that he would spend each of the next 30 days documenting things he is grateful for and he challenged others to do the same. I took him up on his challenge and that is why he is tagged in my #30Days IG posts. He is not posting what he is grateful for on IG but in his personal blog.

As I went to post my #30Days post earlier today, it seemed pretty generic. Today I am so grateful it is Friday. But is that REALLY worth being grateful for, and if so, WHY? If I typed everything, it would be way too long for Instagram, and probably too long for a blog post. However, the blog post was the way to go so I postponed that IG post until I post this blog entry.

Most of you probably came here from Instagram so you know the post. Here is how it started...

Day 11: I am so grateful today is Friday! It has been one very long week!

If you are a regular follower of my blog, then you may have noticed that I haven't posted since last Thursday. So much has happened since then. EVERYTHING upstairs except for Miss Brooke's bed, dresser and chest of drawers, and makeshift night stand and our bed, dresser, chest of drawers, makeshift nightstand for each of us and a chair are downstairs. If you think I am kidding, here's proof (I can't believe I am posting this):

This is looking down the length of our living room. There is just about a 2 foot width we can walk through. The furniture you see is Beau's childhood bedroom furniture, minus the bed which is in the attic. It was just sitting in the old junk office/craft room/storage room. It definitely needs a hammer and nails and some paint!!! Miss Brooke wants it but I have no clue what we will do with it in the meantime. I would love to get it up into the attic but we will see. The wire things came out of 2 of the closets. Every box has something from 3 of the bedrooms in it, including craft stuff! See how you can barely see the tv? That's because Beau's makeshift closet is in front of it and in front of the french doors, you can see part of my makeshift closet.

More stuff boxed up and our old bedding and drapes from the master bedroom, cleaned and ready for donation. This is from the hallway looking into the living room.

Now below is our dining room or Miss Brooke's temporary storage. Yes, all 3 pictures.

Hard to believe we have purged and purged and purged some more. I have a feeling that more will be purged (either trash or donation) as things get moved back up to the bedrooms. Not shown is Miss Brooke's bathroom/guest bathroom that has boxes from the upstairs hall closet and linen closet in it as well as the bathtub with all of our towels, beach towels, wash cloths, and bedding stacked up. Nor did I show you the kitchen which has everything from our cleaning & misc. closet as well as the coat closet downstairs. However, it will be a minimum of 2 weeks before stuff starts going back up. 

Now that I have embarassed myself with those pictures, let's get back to why I am so grateful it is Friday and the sub-reasons. As I said, it has been a very long week. At 8 am Monday morning, the painters showed up. I don't get up at 8 am UNLESS mandatory. (That will come in a future grateful IG post). The paint company is a family owned business, however they are Mexican. The owner has dropped by a few times but has not been on site for any extended period of time. If there is a foreman, I can't tell which one he is. The first day there was a young man who spoke wonderful English but hasn't been back. So I have been here all week with 3 men who don't speak English. I have had to be very creative in trying to communicate with them. So also making this a long week, has included me getting up at 7:45 every morning and getting dressed (no loungewear but tees and shorts that can get sanding debris and possibly paint on them) and quickly moving both makeshift bedside tables into our small master bath and covering our bed with an extra large sheet and the chest of drawers that has our cable box and all the cables on it covered with a sheet as well. They go back and cover with plastic but I want to be extra careful with these two things. I also have to move anything I may have taken upstairs the night before (book, phone, computer, drink, etc) back downstairs as well as my little furbaby and move us to that living room you saw above. Each day has lasted various hours. The first day was the only day they left between 5 and 5:30. They have been here as late as after 7 one day and as I type this (6:20 pm they are still here.) Depending on what they are doing decides what I can do. It's been hard to even get dinner ready. Today, I haven't been able to cook anything because they were sanding and then painting the downstairs hallway that opens into the kitchen. And making the week even longer is that all they have played is Mexican music and they play it loud!!! I joked with my husband that I feel as if I am sitting in a Mexican restaurant all day without the benefit of the good food or even more importantly, without the benefit of a good margarita!!! I'm generally stuck here. (Please no hating on anything I have said about Mexicans... I spoke a truth for one and two, they have done AMAZING work and I can't wait to share some progress pictures with you in a few weeks.) Once they leave each day, I am scrambling to "reassemble" the bedroom. Bringing back those makeshift nightstands, setting Beau's alarm clock, bringing the TV back to the bedroom and getting it all reconnected and then trying to get something together for dinner. And then heading upstairs to shower and get ready for bed as I am so ready to get out of that living room, all the while still smelling paint. And it is NO-VOC paint, but I can still smell it.

So yes, I am so grateful that it is Friday and this week is OVER! However, being grateful it is over leads me to being thankful for so much more I didn't think about this week. I am so grateful that we are able to do so much to our home at one time. Brand new crown molding throughout the entire upstairs (except the 2 bathrooms as they are not being touched right now. Another project for a later time. Hopefully sooner rather than later.) as well as replacing all of the baseboards were torn out and taller baseboards put in. Painting all 4 bedrooms (scraping off popcorn ceilings still left upstairs, painting ceilings, walls, trim and inside closets), painting the upstairs hallway (same as above), down the stairway, and the downstairs hall and closet. Also in this project is brand new carpeting in the 4 bedrooms (we have hardwoods elsewhere) which will be installed the 7-9 of June, and new bedroom furniture in our master (need to go pick the furniture out and have it scheduled for delivery). Yes, it's first world issues but our house needs it and I needed it for reasons I won't blog about at this time. 

That noise of hammers, sanders, paint sprayers, Mexican music, and Spanish which I don't know at all made me realize how grateful I am that I have the sense of hearing. Did y'all watch Dancing With the Stars? If you did, you know who one, if you didn't, the "star" who won has been deaf his entire life! Really makes you realize how grateful we are for the gift of hearing.

The smell I endure every night from the painting makes me so very grateful for my sense of smell. Sometimes I don't like what I am smelling, but other times, like the scent of my husband, the smell of many flowers, the enticing smell of my favorite foods, makes me so grateful for my sense of smell.

It is now 7 PM and the painters just left. I could add another grateful in that I am grateful that they are completely finished and won't be back until the next paint project (most likely painting the exterior after we put new siding on the house), but what I am actually grateful for is my eyesight. My eyes are sore and gritty from the dust in the air and have been all week, my vision is perfect and I can take in all the beautiful sights of this world. That includes how beautiful these rooms and halls look in their new coats of paint.

Did you ever think being grateful it's Friday could go so far beyond it actually being Friday?? Do you have something you are grateful for today that you would share with me? Please take a moment and comment on this post.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Has it seemed like a long week to you? It sure has to me. All rooms are basically empty except for the basics. The flooring in all rooms is the original underlayment from when the house was built! The 4th bedroom is completely empty, the 3rd bedroom has Miss Brooke's bed, a makeshift nightstand, and a litte table holding her tv. Thank goodness it is on the back of the house as we have a beach towel pinned up over the window. Miss Brooke's room has her dresser and chest of drawers sitting back to back in the middle of the floor so she can access her clothes. And last but not least, our bedroom is down to the basics. We still have our pull down roller shades on the windows. Our bed, 2 tiny makeshift bedside tables, the dresser and the chest of drawer. Oh, and an old chair that Mr. Beau sits on in the morning to put his shoes on. The closets are completely empty. Yesterday, we were able to get the cable moved and an outlet put in side by side  high on the wall so that we can mount the tv when putting the room back together.

So if your week has been as long as mine, the following may just help you get to Fri-Yay! a little bit quicker. I promise you will laugh then groan on almost all of these:

Told you they were groan worthy, but I bet you said Ba-dum-bum! at least once or twice.