Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Plan of Attack...

You may have noticed my list of house projects from this post is quite long. And there have been several posts regarding the decorating schemes I hope to use for each of the three bedrooms. (See them here: Master Bedroom, Spare Bedroom, Nursery) So unhappy with my house :(

BTW, the list may or may not have gotten longer in the interim time frame. But ANYway, we were able to cross #s 1-3 off of our list...Fence was installed last August, the Driveway installed and Daycare space updated in September and the Basement renovation was completed in February. (The decorating is still underway...but we're able to live comfortably down there.)

Now, we are attempting to tackle the remaining projects on our list.

The major project being undertaken this summer is the Patios outside and refinishing the deck. However, these both are projects that require a great deal of labor and expanse of time...both of which we currently lack. So, we are looking into working with a contractor friend and a friend who is a professional painter to help us out.

But there are still a number of smaller projects inside the house that need to be addressed. And soon...and by soon I mean IMMEDIATELY. I've been living in "limbo" as I call it for 4 years. I want my home to reflect me and my hubs, not my in-laws, and I'm tired of white walls, no art and basic nothingness.

So, I've managed to talk hubs into alleviating this problem for me.
First, we took all the projects and listed out in a logical order various steps needed to be completed for the project to move forward. Right now it's about 5-10 per project. Once those are completed, we'll evaluate and add more. So, for clearing the clutter in the office, setting it up with our desk, as a spare bedroom and creating Dh's Man/NERD haven we have these steps.
  1. Clear space in the office for desk and clean carpet, walls and ceiling.
  2. Take desk apart, clean and re-assemble in office
  3. Organize filing and house paperwork
  4. Set up Computer
  5. Organize electronics and gaming paraphernalia (Dh is an online gamer)
  6. Sort, purge, organize Dh's Nerd gear outside of closet (we decided his games, cards, paraphernalia must fit inside the room's closet...right now it's all over the room like it exploded!)
  7. Sort, purge, organize Dh's Nerd gear INside of closet

Then, we decided we'd commit to 1 hour each weekday night and 2 hours Saturday and Sunday to complete one to two tasks on our list.

So for the office area, it should only take us about 1 week to complete.

Our plan is to do this in every room of the house, so that we can start re-decorating the house to suit us. But we need to de-clutter to see what we have, what we would like to get rid of and what we need.

So, that's our plan of attack right now. Hopefully I'll be able to post before and after photos as they occur...but don't hold your breath :)!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Planning Monday...

Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, toast, oranges
Lunch: Sanwiches
Dinner: Spaghetti w/sausage, salad, garlic toast
Snack: Yogurt & fruit, water

Breakfast: Oatmeal w/apple snitzes, milk
Lunch: Spaghetti w/sausage, mixed veggies, applesauce, milk
Dinner: Chicken burritos, mexican rice, guacamole, corn
Snack: Cottage cheese, peaches, juice

Breakfast: French toast w/plums, milk
Lunch: Chicken burritos, mexican rice, corn, guacamole, apples, milk
Dinner: Homemade pizza & French Onion soup, salad
Snack: graham crackers, juice

Breakfast: Cereal w/milk, OJ
Lunch: Pizza, French onion soup, green beans, melon, milk
Dinner: Leftovers
Snack Yogurt & Fruit, juice

Breakfast: Oatmeal w/raisins, milk
Lunch: Grilled cheese & tomato soup, peas, apples, milk
Dinner: Beef & Broccoli, couscous, salad
Snack: Veggie sticks, dip, juice

Breakfast: French toast, w/melon, milk
Lunch: Beef & Broccoli, couscous, peaches, milk
Dinner: Leftovers
Snack: BDAY Cupcakes, of my precious little DC kidlets turns 2 years old this day :) They grow so quickly!

Breakfast: Breakfast Burritos
Lunch: Mom/Step-dad's ??
Dinner: DCkidlet's Bday party
Snacks: Yogurt & fruit, water

Sunday, June 20, 2010


This past week, the hubs and I took a vacation. Nothing too extreme or extravagant. We couldn't go far, DH was needed back at work on Thursday and on call Friday. So, we took a short road trip to Williamsburg, VA to visit Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens.

We left early Monday morning (after daybreak of course...we're not ridiculous) and the ride down was pretty uneventful. Of course, you run into rush hour traffic around 8-9 am on Monday morning going around Baltimore and Washington that's annoying. But it was a beautiful and sunny morning and perfect for a drive.

We arrived at Colonial Williamsburg around 2:30 that afternoon and discovered to our immense pleasure and surprise that active members of the military and a certain number of dependents get in FREE...Yep my favorite four letter word :)! Score. I was planning on just a 10% discount, but free is EVEN better. Just make sure the military member has his/her ID and each dependent has theirs. Technically, to walk around Williamsburg, it's free...but in order to see the houses and take some of the need a I think it's worth the $39 adult fee, regardless. (This is for entrance into the Governor's Palace...I don't think it's worth it without seeing this too!)
Go to for more information. There are also online discounts and ways to plan your visit. We just toured and visited what seemed interesting to us...but there are shows, reenactments, and various other events that go on as well!

Unfortunately, we weren't able to take any pictures that day...since my camera had decided to be ridiculous and not work :( Bummer. The day was great. We had a good time and it was really interesting.

We left around 5:15pm and checked into our hotel...PS you CAN stay in the Williamsburg Hotel or one of the guest houses in the town itself, but since we were planning on going to Busch Gardens the next day...I didn't see the point. *shrug* Maybe next time.

We had dinner at the Seafare Restaurant in Williamsburg which was pretty tasty! 1 whole bottle of wine later and we called it a night.

Tuesday, we went to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg.
Again, it was free to active military members, with ID and up to 4 dependents. But you do have to sign up for their Hero’s Program...go to for more information.
Lots of things for kiddos to do..but at $51.95 for out of state visitors. ages 3-9 yo...I don’t see the benefit. Regular adult out of state tickets are $61.95; and I guess I can see where you'd get your money’s worth.
This wolf reminded me of my Banya dog...although Banya isn't so scary and scraggly looking :)!
One ride you HAVE to go on (as long as you aren’t afraid of heights) is the “griffen” !! DH made me go on it with him and I have to was pretty fantastic...shhhh!!! Don’t tell the hubby though!

PS there are passes you can get for all three tourist locales: Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA...It's like $125 and for a week you can jump back and forth between the three places...might be worth looking into for non-military members!

After Busch Gardens...we went to *Uno Chicago Grill* for dinner. Fabulous pizza.
By this time...I missed my puppers way too much and we left the next morning. I had a blast and would recommend this trip to anyone!
After we got home, we played with the pups for a bit...they were so cute...they missed us so much...although their Uncle Tim and Dh's dad did a great job taking care of them for us! Then we went to a matinee movie (The A*Team) and Sushi for dinner.
Thursday Dh had to work...I did NOTHING all day. Literally didn't get out of bed until 11am. *sigh* taking full advantage of being off work...yay!

Friday I did shopping and got a pedicure while Dh had some boy/nerd time and then I made dinner for us and Dh's friend W.
Saturday was more of the same as Thursday...nothing, sleeping in until 10...watched Food Network all day!
Today, my last day of vacation, I have to work. For one, I can't sleep. I've been up since 3:30am, we've got church at 9:30 and I have to do dishes, wash floors, vacuum carpets, and do laundry. Daycare starts bright and early tomorrow morning...I have a feeling 5:30am will come pretty quick! Can't wait. I've missed these kidlets so much! It's crazy how quiet it gets when then all go home and don't come back for a week!

Thanks to the Hampton Inn for a great hotel stay, clean rooms, sheets and towels and a great Continental breakfast! Thanks to the hubs for putting up with me and my neurotic ways...especially on vacay...and to our wonderful family for helping with the mutters so we could get away! :)

1 year ago...

1 year ago today, I became a Mrs.

I married my best friend, my lover and the most amazing man I know. He is kind, caring, generous, patient and the best husband a girl could ask for.

Thank you hubby for being you and for loving me. I can't wait for the next 50 + years and all that life has to offer. LOVE YOU!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pantry overhaul...

So, I'm not the most organized person in the world. I try...really, I try really hard. But, I guess I'm lazy at the heart of it, or don't have the time...yes, that's it. My excuse...I can't put things away properly...because I don't have time! YES!
One area of my house really lacking in organization is this pantry: Pretty HORRID, right? This space is pretty gross...and illogical. You can't tell from the above picture, but the first "shelf" (I think they're more like platforms, IMO) is about 3 feet off the ground and then each platform/shelf is roughly 20 inches above the next, and between 12-20" in depth. Now, keep in mind...I'm 5'3" tall and the back of the furthest shelf is 3 1/2 feet from the front. My arms don't reach that far! It's rather difficult to see everything in this space...let alone reach everything.

I am told these platforms are built this way because the basement staircase is directly below this and the wall behind said platforms actually comes up at a pretty steep angle. Add to that there is an attic access at the top and voila, you have weird platforms. Granted, this is pretty standard for the style and year of our house...but I've just never seen it before.

Although, we have a pretty large really has very minimal cabinet and counter space...making THIS space a "must-use" space for storage. In here must go: small appliances (food processor, Kitchen Aid mixer, blender, etc.) Bulk food storage (flour: 3 kinds, honey, sugar, corn meal, baking supplies, whole grains, etc.) The hubs' never ending supply of hot sauce...I counted: 42 joke. Various cooking accoutrement...mostly grilling items, oils and vinegar. Vitamins. Tupperware. Paper products (plates, cups, plastic silverware, etc.) Party trays/Beverage dispensers. Extra food bags, Saran wrap and Aluminum Foil.

At one time, this was an organized space...before I lived here and really started cooking. Now it looks like above. Or this scary wanted a close up, right?

AHHH...scary. Anyway, being on vacation this week and deciding that I just couldn't live like this ANYmore...I cleaned it out as best I could...without buying any new contraptions or shelving systems. Now, it looks like this.
Much better, right? Very organized: everything is in it's place. How long do you think it will stay this way? 1 week...2 weeks...a month? I personally think 2 weeks...give or take a few days. It depends on if I bake anything, I think.
Anyone have any ideas on how to make it better? I am not able to tear out the platforms...hubby's rule and I would rather keep the expense to re-do it low. Like under $100. Any tips, tricks, or products you think might be especially helpful...I'd appreciate your input.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Blog Find...

I recently stumbled across and started following a blog by the name of "Just Organize Yourself" written by mom of three boys, Joy.

I haven't read ALL of her posts but some of the more pertinent ones to my situation and domestic dilemmas. Organization and domestic routines are really simple...or they sound that way. What's difficult is finding what works for you and using it routinely.

Joy makes it very easy to understand how and why she does her habits and routines and how they might be able to be used by someone else.
She suggests a "MOMSpace" and having a household binder among other great ideas for making routines and holding yourself accountable.

I have had my home management binder in place for almost a year...but am now more energized to use it again! I did tweak it, clear out some clutter and add one new section. I now have a "MOMSpace" even though I'm not a mom, but it is MY area to keep track of everything daycare, plan menus, follow our budget and keep track of our projects and daily tasks.

Go check her out! See if her ideas could work for you!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Menu Planning Monday...


Breakfast: Oatmeal w/banana, milk
Lunch: Ham Sandwiches, mixed veggies, pears, milk
Snack: Veggie sticks w/dip, juice
Dinner: Beef w/veggies and potato stew, salad

Breakfast: French toast w/berries, milk
Lunch: Beef stew, carrots, potatos, oranges, milk
Snack: Rice cake w/pb, juice
Dinner: Pork chops, mac & cheese, peas, salad
Breakfast: Cereal w/milk, OJ
Lunch: Pork chops w/mac & cheese, peas, berries, milk
Snack: Yogurt & fruit, juice
Dinner: Summer veggie frittata

Breakfast: Waffles w/cantaloupe, milk
Lunch: Summer veggie frittata
Snack: Graham crackers, juice
Dinner: Spaghetti & MBs, bread, salad

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, toast, milk
Lunch: Spaghetti & MBs, mixed veggies, pears, milk
Snack: Cheese & crackers, juice
Dinner: Dinner out with friends

Breakfast: pancakes & sausage, cantaloupe, milk
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Snack: yogurt & fruit, water
Dinner: Grilled fish, rice, veggie, salad

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Root Beer Can Chicken...

Found in Cooking Light Magazine, June 2010
$9.92 for 4 servings

1 1/2 t Hungarian sweet paprika
1 t brown sugar
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t ground red pepper
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t ground allspice
3/4 t kosher salt, divided
2 (12 oz) cans root beer, divided
2 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 t cider vinegar
1 (3 1/2-4 lb) whole chicken, skinned

1. Prepare grill for indirect grilling, heating one side to medium
2. Combine first 7 ingredients and 1/2 t salt in a small bowl
3. Open both root beer cans; pour 18 oz. into a small saucepan. Set remaining root beer aside (in the can.) Bring 18 oz. root beer to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 20 minutes.) Remove from heat. Add remaining 1/4 t salt, butter and vinegar, stirring until smooth.
4. Rub paprika mixture evenly over chicken. Holding chicken upright with the cavity facing down, insert reserved opened root beer can into cavity. Plae chicken on unheated side of grill. Spread legs out to form a tripod to support the chicken. Cover and grill for 1hour 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into meaty portion of thigh registers 160 degrees, basting chicken every 20 minutes with sauce. n
5. Lift chicken slightly using tongs; place spatula under can. Carefully, remove chicken and can from grill; placing on a cutting board. Let stand for 10 minutes. Gently lift chicken using tongs or insulated rubber gloves; carefully twist can and remove from cavity. Discard can. Carve chicken. Yield: 4 servings (serving size 1 breast half or 1 leg quarter.)
Calories 371; Fat 15.1 g (sat 6.2, mono 5g, poly 2.4g); Protein 35.6g; Carb 21.4g; Fiber 0.2g; Chol 121 mg; Iron 19 mg;
Sodium 502 mg; Calc 32 mg.

I made this for dinner last night. Paired with steamed Brussel's sprouts, homemade macaroni and cheese and side salad. It really was as simple as the directions stated. Dh really enjoyed it. The magaize calls it a family friendly recipe, but the chili powder and red pepper make it a tad spicy for young children. If you're making this for children under 5 or 6 I'd adjust the seasonings to reduce the heat. Add a bit more onion powder and garlic powder and reduce the chili and red pepper powders. Oh, and make sure to check the temperature before you turn off your grill. I ended up having to put the chicken back onto the grill for about 20 minutes to hit the proper temperature.

Happy eating!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Week 3: Happy House Challenge...

Check in for the Happy House Challenge: Week 2's challenge was to empty your sink. Uh oh...I hate dishes...and even more when I'm tired. I'm lucky dishes make it to the sink. But I gathered my stuff together this week and pulled through with a positive score! YAY me.
Make the Bed: 7/7 AGAIN...go me, and Dh for doing one day for me!
Empty the sink: 5/7. Two nights I just didn't feel like it, so boo for those days...but 71% is still passing in my book.
**bonus task: Wipe down all appliances. Done Wednesday during my RDF! YAY!
This week (week 3) is Clear the clutter. Major trouble spot for me: the kitchen table. Being right off of the hallway and daycare room means lots of things get dumped there for "just a bit" and end up staying for an extended visit. This will be a good one for me!
After all it's all about routine, routine, routine...habit, habit, habit!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's really basic, cleaning, that is...isn't it? Pick up the things that don't belong, find them a home, wipe up dirt and grime and make it a routine.

I think my problem with cleaning is that it N.E.V.E.R. ends. I mean never. There is always laundry. There is always that ONE dish that you missed. There are always one toy not put away. Or JUST when your kitchen floor is it's cleanest and shiniest...the dogs come in with muddy paws...or the kids track in bits of dirt and grass from playing outside. Even if we all lived in our own little bubbles...we'd still have to clean that bubble. I just don't like to doesn't relax me, it doesn't make me feel good to make things shine, and it doesn't really bring me a sense of satisfaction...because well, the cleaning doesn't ever end.

I'm hoping a bit of a revamp in my cleaning schedule will help motivate me to get going and make cleaning a priority and a routine.

Laundry is still a daily focus. I've now proven to myself that doing a bit at a time, makes laundry less overwhelming and chaotic...and I'm less likely to "forget" that load in the washer for 2 days. I've switched up the days a bit but here's the new outline:

Monday: Darks
Tuesday: Whites
Wednesday: Sheets
Thursday: Towels
Friday: Colors
Saturday: Daycare
Sunday: Curtains (monthly)

I am still insistent that the Room-Daily-Focus is a good idea for me. It gives me specific goals to accomplish every day...and allows me a specific time frame to focus on the task at hand and then move on. I know I don't have to clean in one room for 2 hours, it's 30 minutes tops. When 30 minutes is over....I'm done. This means, for me, there's a light at the end of the tunnel! I've split the RDF into two weeks, because frankly, there's too much to be done in one week...and some rooms just don't need that weekly attention, IMO.

RDF Week 1:
Monday: Living Room
Tuesday: Master Bedroom
Wednesday: Kitchen
Thursday: Laundry & Cats
Friday: Daycare & Nursery
Saturday: Office
Sunday: Monthly Jobs 1, 3, or 5

RDF Week 2:
Monday: Living Room
Tuesday: Master Bedroom
Wednesday: Spare Rooms
Thursday: Laundry & Cats
Friday: Daycare & Nursery
Saturday: Entryway
Sunday: Monthly Jobs 2 or 4

I also wrote down the monthly jobs that need done routinely:
Week 1: Outside windows
Week 2: Garage
Week 3: Deck/Backyard
Week 4: Gutters
Week 5: Oven
These are mostly Dh's responsibility but when he's deployed or "conveniently" on TDY...then I need to incorporate them into my routine.

My Daily cleaning schedule will look something like this:
( I took some pressure off of myself and didn't assign times to the job, simply a certain number of minutes each job should take.)
LDF - wash (10 min)
Make bed(s) (5 min)
Tidy bedroom (10 min)
After shower spruce (Swish, swipe and spray) (5 min)
empty dishwasher (DW) (5 min)
DC Floors (vacuum/Hoover) (10 min)
LDF - dry (5 min)
after breakfast dishes - DW (10 min)

Mid-Day (DC nap time):
LDF - fold and put away (20 min)
After lunch dishes (DW) (5 min)
Up/Dwn Bathroom (20 min)
-- toilets, shower/bath scrub, sink scrub, wash floors, wipe mirrors/knobs/switches, wash walls, doors, trim
RDF - 30 min
-- dust/wipe down surfaces, wash inside windows, remove clothes/towels/bedding, Hoover/Vacuum, remove trash/wipe inside of can, wipe walls, doors, and trim, wipe knobs and switches
De-clutter (20 min)
Dog Piles (10 min)
Computer time (60 min)

After snack dishes (DW) (5 min)
After dinner dishes (DW & wash, dry, away) 15 min
Run DW (2 min)
Quick kitchen clean-up (15 min)
-- counters, empty/shine sink, stove top, appliance fronts, broom sweep/swiffer floor
Make coffee (5 min)
Lunch/Snack prep (10 min)
Walk Dogs (45-60 min)
Family Project (60 min)

Now, my duty is to get cleaning and USE the time I have wisely. Sitting on my butt, being a couch-potato is no longer acceptable!

Let's see if I can make it happen.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Time for the second installment of my "Wrap it up Wednesday" plan! There's also a Check-in reminder AND a schedule change announcement.

Last week, if you'll recall, my plan was to remove the cypress and take it and some other things to the recycling center, and plant my hydrangea. I got my hydrangea planted. That's all from the plan. I'd say that's a half-pass.

Well, I'm determined to do better. Even if I don't follow through on anything the rest of the week...I want one night devoted to crossing things off of my list!

So, this week, with Dh on board, we are taking a tarp and a Jeep full of lawn waste, including the cypress to the recylcing center, picking up a new recycling bin (we need a bigger one) and a compost tumbler. I live in such an awesome township...even if the give me crap on my daycare and make me pay outrageous least I see the effort back!

Plus, add to that is removing the carpet in the entry/breezeway and clearing all the clutter and dirt. That means, removing a dining chair that needs a new rung, boxes of books, random liquer and food items, and some yard ornaments.

Let's hope we can pull through!

Oh, and just a reminder: tomorrow is check in for the Happy House Challenge over at My Happy House! This week, I'm doing better than expected. I have trouble with dishes...considering I HATE them with a passion. Not just dislike...but HATE doing I can't even stand unloading the clean dishes from the dishwasher. I don't know why...I like clean dishes and the look of a clean sink and kitchen...I just can't make myself wash the dishes.
That said, this week so far since last thursday, I have had an empty sink 4/6 nights (this is not including the nights Dh has gotten up for a late/midnight snack and left his dirties in the sink when he was done...I count it as empty when I go to bed.) I still have to give my appliances a bath. The kitchen is my RDF for Thursday, so their bath will have to wait until lunch/nap time on tomorrow. Hopefully, Molly doesn't check in early! :)!!

Now for my schedule change reminder. Along the left hand column of my blog, you will find my daily and weekly cleaning lists: my LDF (Laundry Daily Focus) and my RDF (Room Daily Focus.) I still like the aspect of having one/two rooms to focus on and ONE type of laundry to run...usually meaning 1 to 2 (at the most) loads to wash, dry and fold. Unfortunately, I haven't been keeping up with my end of the bargain...and have decided to revamp the schedule a bit. I haven't exactly determined how, and what it will all entail...just stay tuned.

Hope your hump day is fabulouso!

Building our Savings...Post 1

Post one of the Building our Savings collection.

1 year ago (in three weeks) DH and I paid for a wedding. Our wonderful, delightful, exciting wedding. 95% of the cost of the wedding and honeymoon came from our joint savings account. Truth be told, most of it was from Dh's deployment in the early part of the year.

Then 6 months ago we started on a grand home remodel...creating double the amount of living space for ourselves, a second bathroom and a new laundry room, plus a wonderful new daycare space for the kidlets. These two endeavors wiped out most of our savings. At the last payment of the basement remodel we had a whopping $1000 in our savings. Keep in mind, we have plenty to live on...between my and Dh's incomes we have enough for our day to day expenses, our house and car debt and dc expenses. Then DH bought a new car in February...this means even less to go into our savings, and we just have kept right on spending. (don't get me wrong...DH needed a new car, his old trusty red Jeep was on her last legs, about to give out any minute. But she didn't have a car payment.) We got new draperies and hardware for the windows in the master, fabric and mulch for landscaping and many many plants for said landscaping. Clothes, shoes, toys, video games and trinkets top that list as well.

Now, I've paid off my credit card debt and am working on some late tax payments...a situation I should have rectified years ago, but was working under the misconception that ignoring it would make it go away...I have since learned my lesson and won't make that mistake again!

This summer we have a few big projects coming up that we MUST find inexpensive or DIY options for so we don't blow our budget.

First and foremost is our Patio projects. These SHOULD be relatively easy to complete, but we have absolutely no tools to use in completing these two items. Plus, with little to no help from DH's "best" friends (who really dislike doing anything that doesn't directly benefit them) and no prior experience with laying paver patios, Dh wants to hire someone to do the work. Unfortunately that is an expensive option...since most of the expense lies in the labor. I vote on doing it ourselves, but have learned that if that is the case, our lovely and needed patios will most likely not happen.

Next is the redecoration of the house. We were pretty lucky in the home department. The house we live in was Dh's Step-dad and Mother's house before they built their big one. They "rented" it to DH for years before officially selling it to him. This helped to create a large nest egg of equity that they took off the top of the sale price when he bought it. This means he paid much less than he would have buying it outright or from someone else, and we get more house for our money than we could otherwise possibly afford. That said, before MIL and SFIL moved, they decorated the house in their style and tastes and Dh being a single bachelor and frequent deployer never really made it into a home. When I moved in 5 yrs ago, I did so under the assumption that it was Dh's house and I never really did much either. However, once we were married, I had a complete thought reversal. Now, though, since we haven't really put much effort into decorating our home to reflect us and the destruction of two large and very energetic and active doggies we have much to do.
I've written posts regarding my designs for the three upstairs rooms: Master, Spare and Nursery. Also on the redecoration list is the upstairs bathroom, the office, the kitchen, the bar downstairs, and the daycare room. But, first among the house rooms to do are the breezeway (which will then be the formal entry to the house/mudroom/dog area) and the garage. Technically these are outside, but they are required to be completed to make the most logical completion of the others.

So, this year, we are most likely going to spend more than we save, but our plan is at least 10% of every paycheck (two weeks of my dc tuition fees - after taxes and expenses because Dh gets paid every two weeks) must go to joint savings. (15% of my daycare income automatically goes towards taxes and dc expenses.) This should help to build our savings even while we continually dip into the pot for fixing up our home.