My goals for 2023 revolve quite a bit around self-care and doing things that make me happy such as cross-stitching, gardening, puzzles, hanging out with my family and reading. I am also trying to make them pretty open ended so I don’t feel to rigid […]
2022 was a year with mixed results for me. As I reflect on my 2022 goals post from March of this year I am struck by how different my year turned out from where it started. I started the year gung ho about my career […]
It’s that time of year again for goal setting and reflection. I am hopeful for 2023 and one of my focuses will be self-care. I love puzzles so I am setting a goal of working on my puzzles for 2023. I was very inspired by Karen Puzzles on YouTube (link here) with her journey towards the puzzle championships. I had no idea there were competitions!!! I have not found any in my area yet but I am definitely keeping an eye out. All puzzles mentioned in this post are listed at the bottom so if you are here for my 2023 list feel free to scroll on down.
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I started my 2023 puzzle journey in 2022 with some practice puzzles. We have a bunch stashed from over the years so I dug through our pile and started puzzling. I timed my first one which was Grandpa’s Garage at 300 pieces and it took me 1 hour, 18 min and 56 seconds to complete. If that seems fast to you, this was a super easy puzzle with large pieces. For comparison, in 2022 at the World Jigsaw Championship the fastest times for this 500 piece London Postcard puzzle was 34 min and 25 seconds which is amazing!
Next I tackled the 1000 piece The Craft Cupboard by Colin Thompson. This one took me about eight hours but, huge caveat, I had help from my husband with sorting for the first four hours which is when everything is the most difficult. No doubt if I had done this on my own it would have taken way longer. I loved this artist and I’m already thinking about which ones to add to my list for the future. I would really like to do the massive 18,000 piece Magical Bookshelf but one, it is super expensive and two, I have no idea where I would put it to keep it safe from dogs and kids. I am sure it is the size of my living room (or bigger) and logistically I don’t know how it would work.
I pulled this 500 piece Home for Christmas Puzzle out of our stash and it was unopened. We got this one out of one of those random Woot boxes many years ago. Did you ever do those? My husband was really into them for a few years and we did get a few good things out of them but it was mostly stuff we gave away. I will put a photo of the box below but I could not find this one on Amazon although it looks like you can find it on Ebay if you are interested.
I found a similar one on Amazon here. I didn’t time this puzzle because my daughter really wanted to help with it and honestly if she had not helped me it would still be sitting there undone. The quality on this one was not great and it was hard to tell if the pieces fit together correctly and with the glare I was having a really hard time seeing the colors. If I did another one of these I would try to change the lighting up a bit and see if that helps.
Lastly I started this 500 piece Golden Gate Bridge puzzle of unknown origin from my family room. This is the brand Costco carries so we probably got it from there. I had a great time sorting this one and had it sorted in a record 15 min into edges, the bridge, some sky and then the rest of the pieces.
Unfortunately I quickly remembered why we don’t buy this brand of puzzle any more. The pieces do not fit well together and I really struggled to get the edge put together. I gave up after about an hour and started working on the clouds. I am really glad I didn’t time this one because it will probably take several hours. My kids have been helping me a little bit but they are also discouraged by how difficult it is to see if the pieces actually fit together. I will post a photo here on my Instagram when I finish this one, hopefully before the end of the year!
To keep track of my puzzles I will be filming as much as I can and posting it here on my YouTube channel. I have created some boards on Pinterest linked here and below. The completed list is currently blank but as I work on my puzzles I will add them to the completed one. For now, I am finishing up what I have started and trying to pry out of my kids which puzzles they bought me for Christmas. Ha ha!
Happy holidays and puzzling everyone!
World Puzzle Championship Individual Puzzle:
The Grandpa’s Garage puzzle is a Goodwill find and I could not find a copy but here is an interesting 300 piece substitute:
September was an expensive month for us as far as groceries go. All of our stock up trips seemed to happen this September and that caused our grocery total to be higher than usual. We also have been trying to eat healthier which of course […]
We continued to work on our grocery budget for August 2022 with a goal of $600. I wasn’t sure if we could make it this month but we came closer than last month at $709.79. We definitely ate better this month and a large chunk […]
We were out of a lot of staples for July so I knew we would have an expensive month for groceries. We are still working hard at keeping our food budget well under $1,000 by watching prices more carefully, eating up what we have and reducing our food waste. Our ultimate goal is to keep it under $600 a month for our family of four plus our oldest daughter who is out of the house. She comes over very frequently for meals still and we love to have her so I include her in our grocery budget as a partial member.
We were having a hard time tracking our spending with both of us going to the store since we buy groceries from Costco, Amazon and Target a lot and they all have purchases mixed in the total. In June I set up a Google sheet that we could both enter the grocery portion of our purchases in and it is working amazingly! It is easy to check my total when I am making videos and we can see how far off we are from our goal pretty easily. We are also working on making as few trips to the store as possible so that we don’t get there and find lots of extra items. I am particularly guilty of this during our Costco run. I love Costco and I am easily swayed by fresh produce and new things to try. I am working on it though and we have been doing better so we will continue our efforts in the hopes that by the end of the year we have a streamlined frugal grocery routine.
Our first grocery haul of July was so big I had to film it in three parts. I went to Franz for our periodic stock up and we did a gigantic Costco run. Lots of our regular items were on sale at Costco this month and we stocked up on what we could. Looking back I think the reason our July grocery total was so large was mostly due to this stock up. We really didn’t spend money on too much the rest of the month. We won’t do a large stock up like this one for a while so hopefully we will be able to stick to our $600 budget going forward.
We went back to Costco again a couple of weeks in to get a few things Costco was out of and that we forgot the first time. This run was pretty expensive for what we bought but we did need a bunch of jerky for our kids to eat during camp. They really only get it regularly in the summer so it is rare enough they eat it at camp for a good source of protein. We also had to buy Luna bars to stock up on as well from Amazon.
We did a small haul at Costco and Grocery Outlet towards the middle of the month as well to pick up some fresh fruit and ingredients for a recipe. I didn’t end up making the chicken tacos. My husband was the one to make the recipe and he does not use pre-made taco seasoning so it was made a little bit differently than I had originally intended but I am still going to try and make it myself in the future. I realized my crock pot is way too big to just make a couple of breasts and it was too hot to use the oven for a long time. I will try that recipe again this fall.
Overall we spent a lot this month. We did end up trying the free lunch pickups a couple of times but they mostly had the same food every day and my kids were not huge fans. I felt really bad for the kids that relied on these meals over the summer since there wasn’t really a lot of variety. Universal Free Lunches are over in our area so we won’t be able to participate again in the fall when school starts up again. I guess a lot of families were shocked to hear they weren’t being continued into the fall for everyone. It will be a huge hit to many family’s budgets. We saved probably $200 a month picking up the 5 day meal kits and towards the end of last school year it was so much food we really couldn’t keep up with eating it. We still have a lot left but my goal is to eat through it by the end of the year.
I am proud of our progress these past few months with how we are paying much better attention to our grocery spending. We are getting better at using what we have and not doing much impulse spending. Thank you for reading!
Our June grocery goal was to eat through our fridge and freezer as much as possible and for the most part we reached this goal. I am super proud of our progress! Up until the last week of June we kept our spending under $300 […]
We are working on our grocery spending for 2022 and our goal for May was to do a low spend month. Unfortunately we ended up a little bit swamped during the middle of the month and we both spent too much money and I did […]
Our 2022 spending goals have already gone a little bit sideways with me leaving the workforce in March. I left my job for both health and family reasons and it has thrown our budget into a hurricane of uncertainty. For now our goal is to spend as little as possible across the board so I can continue to not work through at least the end of the year. I read over our 2022 Spending Goals and for the most part we have been sticking to them except for me bumping up my 401k. June is a good time for us to review and revise our goals and this year is no exception.
Below are our goals for the year with a new recap:
- Max out IRAs – Mine is done. My husband still needs to max his out but we may have to wait until we get his bonus next year.
- Increase our 401k contributions – We increased my husband’s by 1% in March and hope to keep it there until the end of the year. I no longer have a 401k since I am not working.
- Save, save save. We reinstated our automatic savings, upped our investment amounts and increased our kids’ college savings amounts. Now that I am not working we may have to reduce our regular savings BUT we do have a nice chunk in our cash emergency fund already so it should be ok.
- Decrease our grocery spending – We have been working on this all year. We did both a pantry and freezer clean out, tried a no spend month and meal planning. This is still a work in progress but we are doing another freezer clean out for June and are making progress.
- Be more mindful of our spending – We continue to work on our mindful spending. I have been resisting the urge to buy clothes for the kids and trying to do laundry more often but they are growing so fast it is hard to keep up. We are also not shopping as often which greatly reduces the temptation to pick things up randomly.
We are also taking advantage of the last couple of months of free universal lunches and breakfasts. I linked our latest video below and here. This program ends in June but I firmly believe that all kids should be receiving lunch at schools for free without the stigma that is attached to it when only low income kids receive it. Getting lunches from the school has helped our budget out tremendously and as I discovered this week, they are giving tons of extra food to help families out over the summer when the program is no longer available. I am really hoping another bill passes so that all kids can have free meals again. Grocery prices have increased significantly over the past year and a lot of families that do not qualify for assistance are struggling.
Our budget resets every July since we pay tuition for the kids only 10 months out of the year. We usually don’t get a tuition statement with the exact amount of the payments until mid-June. I put an estimate of the amount when we get the tuition amounts in February and look at our spending for the rest of the year. This year since I am not working we do qualify for a little bit of financial aid but we are still going to have a very tight budget. We knew this though when we decided that I would leave my job and have cut our spending on vacations and activities with the kids (not their regular sports yet). We also did not sign up for summer camp every week of the summer which saved us nearly $5,000. Summer camp is super expensive and this year the prices definitely went up.
Instead of taking a bunch of expensive trips we are going to be doing day trips and camping out at my dad’s house on Whidbey. Camping out there is nearly free and I absolutely love that the kids are growing up helping my dad build his cabin and develop a place for family to hang out for years to come. We are putting them to work helping with clearing the land and planting some crops for my dad to harvest later. My oldest is also starting her cabin building out there this summer so the kids will help with that as well.
Some of our day trip ideas so far include hiking, the beach and visiting local parks. Mr. Oscoey has a bunch of PTO to use up so he is going to take some time off as well this summer so we can do some trips as a family during the week when everything is less crowded. I may break down and find a couple of days down in Oregon later this summer but it will depend on how we do for our spending in June and July. For now we are planning on staying local and as frugal as possible.
How are you cutting back your spending this year?
Our goal for May of 2022 was to spend as little money as possible on groceries for the month. We are using our local free lunches and breakfasts for the community as well as eating through our pantry items and just supplementing with items from […]