100 Happy Days? Count Me In!

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I can’t think of a more important reason to become #debtfree than happiness. Never do I ever want to owe anyone a damn thing (sorry- I get heated when I’m passionate!)

Money does not create happiness, but it can steal from your happiness. So  many people think that having student loans, car payments, mortgages and credit card debts is just how life is and that they have no control over this.  This couldn’t be further from the truth! You CAN be debt free and then, only then, will you know what it’s like to have complete freedom.

You deserve the happiness of living debt free. You are wroth. And you can do it.

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a website called 100 Happy Days and made a mental note to go back and check it out more thoroughly and what this is all about. This is actually a happiness challenge.

According to their website, only 71% of people do not have time to complete this challenge (note- I did not say competition!).

So what does this challenge consist of? Take one picture of something that makes you happy every day for the next 100 days. The end.

There is also more you can do like share your photos using certain hashtags and registering on the website. It’s up to you how involved you get. Or not.

I AM IN! I love that this challenge is not a competition, so there is no competing for who is happier and that it costs nothing. Plus, I think it’s a great reminder how happy you can be without a trip to Nordstroms.

Who’s joining me? I’ll be submitting my own photos every Friday (starting 6/26/15) in addition to my Tues/Thurs posts. I will also be featuring some fellow challengers pictures here as well… so comment below if you are up for me to share your happiness and I’ll send you the info!

BONUS: follow me on insta (@agoulette) to see more happiness and share your happiness with me!

More info on the challenge (which I take no credit in creating, etc) can be found at: 100happydays.com

Zucchini & Summer Goals Update!

Remember that post about growing my own food? I’m still working on it! And by working on it, I mean watering the plants once a day when I bring the dog out to pee.

Due to our backyard being a construction zone, I decided to transfer the seedlings from the empty egg cartons to some pots I found in the basement. This way, the plants can be moved around and not disturbed by that digging/pumping/blasting/etc that occurs on a weekly basis. Somehow in the midst of this, I managed to mix up the seedlings and had no idea what was growing. Of the four pots I transferred seedlings into, only two pots have things growing in them, and apparently they are both zucchini.

So much for cukes and tomatoes.

Here is an update on what the plants look like today… does anyone know how big zucchini plants get? And are flowers common on zucchini plants? Honestly, if I get one darn vegetable out of the entire deal I’ll be happy.

  
Is anyone else gardening this summer? What do you have growing and do you have any tips for me? I’m hoping to get more into it next summer when our backyard is not under any construction.

Part 2: Summer Goals

I’m so excited to have strike quite a few things off my list- How is your SBL going? Have you added anything or crossed anything off? Let me know!

1. Read more books! I’ve been reading like crazy and can’t get enough. Here’s what on my list:

The Nice Girl Syndrome by Beverly Engel

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Best of Me by Nicolas Sparks

Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

2. Watch Season 3 of Orange Is The New Black. No explanation needed! ps- if you haven’t already, definitely read Piper’s book!

3. Go to the beach! Seriously I live 15 min away from a handful of amazing beaches and didn’t go once last summer  Done! I’m considering buying a season pass for $112, I think I’d def use it! 

4. Run My First 5K. I’m signing up for a fun obstacle course run with my cousin in August, so looking forward to this!

5. Sit in my hammock and sip wine. Star gaze. Daydream. Cuddle.

5. Spend time with my BFF from New Hampshire. I haven’t seen her since December thanks to 173 miles between us and opposite work schedules.

6. Spend time with my nephews. My oldest nephew starts high school in the fall. 

7. Hike. J and I always plan one hike a summer which I complain the entire way and have at least one breakdown before get to the top. 😉 but it’s always so rewarding in the end! (Mostly when I’m off the mtn and eating ice cream)

8. Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard. This is a wild card, not sure it’ll happen. Neither Mr A or I have ever been, and I would love a long weekend away, so to be continued!

This Is What It’s All About 

  
Happy Little Friday, fancies! 

Due to my 18 hour whirlwind trip to northern NH, I’m posting super late so by the time you read this, it might even be Big Friday- bonus! 

This post is not about money at all- instead,  it’s about knowing that where  you are right now is where you need to be and trusting your path.  I want to share with you a moment I had today that spoke so loudly to me- and I would love to hear any of  your “ah ha!” moments that confirmed to you that you are on the right path.

Part of my anxiety that I spoke about on Tuesday was exacerbated by this trip to see my nephew graduate 8th grade. Due to Mr A’s work schedule he was not able to accompany me so I knew I’d be attending the ceremony alone, but that wasn’t the stressful part. 

For no particular reason, my brother and I had not spoken for a year and a half. The last time I saw him was in a less than ideal circumstance. We live different lives and are busy with our own stuff. He also lives in 1998 without any texting, email, Facebook, insta 😉… You get my point.

That being said, I feel very blessed and grateful to be part of my nephews’ lives as much as possible.

Last night, we stayed up until 11pm (on a school night!) making dubsmash videos and taking selfies. I even got the opportunity to drive them to school on their last day today. My heart was overfilled with joy and pride  to see how grown up they are. I may or may not have sat in the parking lot for an extra five minutes just watching them. 

These two little guys even let me take them out for a breakfast date this morning before school. 

After inhaling  a Shirley Temple and more bacon than one boy ever  should  , my oldest nephew shared something with me at breakfast that made me so incredibly proud and realize this is what life’s about.

 I’ll leave you with this. Real name not used. 

“Hey Aunt Ashlee, remember that kid Kyle that  everyone yelled and cheered real loud for at my graduation last night? Well, we always do that, my whole class. Kyle has some disabilities and everytime  he gets a problem right, even an easy one, or accomplishes anything, we always make a big deal. Because that’s the right thing to do Ya know? And we really are proud of him, he works hard” 

   

How I Save $320 This Weekend. And Spent $1300.

  
Disclaimer:  It’s all I can take to get this post out- but all my readers keep my going, so thank YOU! My anxiety has been crippling lately, I apologize if this post leaves a lot to be desired. Luckily I have an exciting few days coming up, with a possible announcement career wise, so let’s hope Thursday’s post is full of energy! Thanks for understanding! One day I will write more about this. Now on with the show…

Savings #1

I knew the day was coming… my 2008 white macbook was dying. She has been so good to me- we got through community college, undergrad, a wedding, three apartments and four fish together. She even forgave me when I spilled milk on her screen. I’ve replaced her charger at least six times at $120 a pop. Two of these chargers had to be replaced during Owen’s puppy “I’m chewing everything you own” phase.

However, in recent months  years, her battery stopped charging and just last week the track pad completely stopped working. Mr A and I decided that if we could fix her for $300 or less, we would do that. Much cheaper than a new laptop, which I need for grad school. An ipad would be a great (and cheeper!), but again, I need to be able to write papers.

Cue our trip the Apple Store this weekend. Initially I was torn between a refurbished 13 inch air or a new 13 inch air- turns out with my student discount I could get a new, faster air for just an extra $50.  BOOM. Done. I’m the new proud owner of a 13″ Macbook Air!

Savings #2

Remember that TMI post from the beginning of May? I’ve recovered. And I decided to do some more research about why my insurance is still charging me for co pays for my birth control that is supposed to be given sans co payment thanks to the Affordable Care Act. (Don’t worry- I will leave my personal thoughts about the ACA out of this blog! hah!)

Essentially, I wrote filed an appeal with my insurance company, citing the current legislature and asked them comply. 48 hours later, I got a call from a lovely woman who told me not only would they be waiving future co payments, I’m also getting reimburshed for all of my 2015 co payments…. $270 back in my pocket!

Misc. #3- the most time consuming!

Mr. A and I are seriously considering refinancing to a 15 year mortgage to get an even better interest rate- meaning we could pay off our mortgage in 9 years! What?! 36 years old and no mortage?

After crunching numbers into our fancy excel budget spread sheet, it’s totally do able. Stay tuned!

What good deals did you find recently? Have you ever refinanced or considered refinancing?

Thanks for sticking with me next week.. I’ll be updating Thursday morning, stay tuned for some personal pics that are about to grace the blog as well!

XOXO- A

5 Things It’s Totally OK To Splurge On

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Splurging is a must. Yes, everything in moderation. People often struggle with saving money without feeling deprived, which is normal in the beginning. At least until you see the results of your hard work!

In the meantime, taking care of yourself and your relationships should always remain a priority. Here are five things that I will ALWAYS splurge on and not feeling guilty about or regret.

How do you ‘treat’ yourself and stop to avoid going crazy? What are some non expensive items you splurge on?

1. J Crew. I know it’s funny but I’m serious!  I need clothes that fit me. At 5’1, I need a store that sells quality clothing and has petite sizes. Bonus: J Crew factory online. Somewhat less expensive clothing and because the sizing is so predictable I feel comfortable not trying things on. PLUS! I shop off season- hello, just scored an adorable knitted infinity scarf and cable knit hat for $17. Total.

2. Barre. I love my works outs- when you find something that works for you, the physical and emotional benefits are worth every penny.

3. Girls night. Every few months or so, my girlfriends and I get together a some local bars for a night of drinks, food and dancing. This ends up costing me some money, but it’s worth it to me, and I don’t feel guilty because I NEVER go out to lunch during the work week.

4. My dog. I will never, in a million years, sacrifice the care of my dog. My best friend. We work hard to provide him with real, all natural snacks/treats, quality food, quality vet care and even doggie daycare on a regular basis.  I will forever buy him his favorite toys, make sure his always taken care.

5. Waxing. I know it sounds silly but you just dont get the same results at home !

Summer Goals

It’s unofficially summer, fancies!

What do you have  planned for the sunshine season? Please share!

I’m determined to make this summer all about self care and being present… For the first time in two years I won’t be in school, so there’s one less stress. We just finished a huge house project and plan on taking a break for a while before we start anything new.

I have 94 days until I start an 18 month journey from RN to nurse practitioner so I’m all about enjoying my time now before it gets crazy!

Here are my goals/to do list for the summer to be done before 9/2/15

1. Read more books!  I’ve been reading like  crazy and can’t get enough. Here’s what on my list:

The Nice Girl Syndrome by Beverly Engel

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Best of Me by Nicolas Sparks

Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

2. Watch Season 3 of Orange Is The New Black. No explanation needed! ps- if you haven’t already, definitely read Piper’s book!

3. Go to the beach! Seriously I live 15 min away from a handful of amazing beaches and didn’t go once last summer

4. Run My First 5K. I’m signing up for a fun obstacle course run with my cousin in August, so looking forward to this!

5. Sit in my hammock and sip wine. Star gaze. Daydream. Cuddle.

5. Spend time with my BFF from New Hampshire. I  haven’t seen her since December thanks to 173 miles between us and opposite work schedules.

6. Spend time with my nephews. My oldest nephew starts  high school in the fall. Yeah- holy feeling old. I love these little guys and wish I could more of a presence in their lives- again, 200 miles  separates us and feels like a world away. I’d like to plan for us to go to water country in Portmouth NH.

7. Hike. J and I always plan one hike  a summer which I complain the entire way and have at least one breakdown before get to the top. 😉 but it’s always so rewarding in the end! (Mostly when I’m off the mtn  and eating ice cream)

8. Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard. This is a wild card, not sure it’ll happen. Neither Mr A or I have ever been, and I would love a long weekend away, so to be continued!

🌞🏊🍷

Summer is here! 

What’s For Dinner? Here’s A Hint- I Have No Freaking Clue

So tired of hearing this question.

Both J and I had been feeling like we were in a food rut lately. Honestly, I’d be happy with oatmeal or salad for dinner every night, but the Mr insists on eating.

Sigh.

Anyway, I went rogue and made all new to us meals this week to help get out this situation and things seem to be going well- I’m actually excited to eat what I’m making!

Before I get int our meal plan for the week- here’s a screenshot of a convo my cousin I had this morning about cooking… it’s all in good humor, hope you enjoy! Excuse the typos.And potty mouth.

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Side note: I seriously love this girl and would be lost without her.

Here is our dinner plan for this week (which, btw, thank GAWD is almost over)

Sunday- Baked pollock ($4.99/lb!) breaded with panko bread crumbs and a garden salad w/ strawberries. J had left over pasta from the night before too. We had enough for each of us to have for lunch the next day.

Monday- Shaved steak ($3.99/lb!) that I cooked on the stove top a with a little bit of olive oil, green and red peppers. J ate his on a toasted sub roll with American cheese and a side salad. I had the steak over the huge salad I made Monday without cheese. DELISH!

Tuesday- Left over steak/fish combo. J refers to this as ‘scraps’. As in ‘what’s for dinner, scraps?’. I like to call it ‘let’s not throw anything out’. You can pick which you prefer.

Wednesday- Buffalo chicken bites. I didn’t make the super healthy version but there is definitely potential. Nor did I manage to a pic of these tasty little treats, maybe I will get one tonight and post it!

Recipe:
one boneless skinless chicken breast, par boiled then shredded
1/2 cup your choice of hot sauce (I use Franks wing sauce)
one cup of shredded cheddar cheese (or to your liking
1.5oz cream cheese, softened
Mix all of these together in a medium bowl, use an ice cream scoop to                    make into little balls, place on baking sheet.

Next, get out three bowls to put one cup of flour in, 2 cups of crushed corn
flakes, and two eggs lightly beaten. Dip each ‘ball’ to make a fun crunchy              coating- flour –> eggs –> corn flake. Bake at 350 for 25 min. Delish!

Thursday- Scraps again. I have tons of errands to run so no time to cook and plenty of left overs from the chicken!

Friday- pasta w/ meatballs. I have a really simple meat ball recipe, which is one lb hamburg or ground turkey, one cup milk, half cup bread crumbs of your choice, salt, pepper, garlic gloves to your liking- mix in a bowl, make into little balls (seems to be a theme here…) and bake on a baking sheet for 20 min at 275. Add to sauce pan with jar homemade sauce and let simmer for how ever long you want, stir occasionally. Is this high end cuisine? No. Is it simple and delicious? Absolutely!

Thoughts? Critiques? Suggestions for next weeks meal plans?

Most importantly… what the heck are you having for dinner that I could make?