State of the Blog May 2017

Welcome to our State of the Blog report for May 2017. In May we celebrated Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, a beach vacation, and track out. We had bonfires, went to the movies, and read a bunch.

What I didn’t do was write. I dragged my seven-year-old laptop to the beach fully intending to write, but it was so glitchy I couldn’t use it. I’ve known for a while it was on its last legs, but at home, I use a desktop. The glitchy laptop just hasn’t been a problem until last month.

Oh, and I also managed to drop my phone into a lake. It spent a couple of nights in a bag of rice and seems to work okay, but I’m glad I was planning on replacing it anyway. A new phone is on the way, and it should be a lot better than just good enough: A 5th Generation Prime Exclusive Moto G Plus. I’m excited to be lgoing to a phone that won’t have me deleting apps just to check my email!

Blog Stuff

Thanks to those of you who answered my survey a couple of weeks ago! I’m getting a better feel for what you like and I’m hoping to turn some of those ideas into posts. Which would be good, because I’ve struggled for ideas. Most of the ones I’ve come up don’t really fit in with the types of posts that you guys say resonates with you.

Which is evidently the State of the Blog. It’s probably my easiest post to write each month because I just ramble on about what we’ve done. A few of you have mentioned wanting to see a bit more about financial literacy lessons for Little Bit. That’s on tap, as soon as I can get her to unplug from Minecraft and YouTube long enough to answer some questions.

As expected, in a month we didn’t post much, our numbers have dropped considerably. On the other hand, I got to sort out some incredibly misogynistic spam comments. Never had that before! But since it was the same comment 6 times, I figured I shouldn’t take it personally.

Since not much happened on the blog, here’s the rest of our month:


Little Bit tracked out of school mid-month, so we headed to our favorite NC beach, Holden Beach, for a week to enjoy the warm weather and preseason rates. This year, we split the cost with my inlaws, who joined us for much of the week.

Needless to say, it was a heck of a lot cheaper than our Disneyworld trip last year.

While we got a bit more stormy weather and rough water than we’d enjoyed in previous years, we still managed to get in walks and swim time every day. I even managed to find a whole sand dollar on the beach and a small intact conch, two things I’ve never managed to find before.

Besides having our vacation before the summer rates kick in, we do a few things to save money.

  • Since we had a full kitchen, we mostly fixed our own food and snacks. We brought food from home and also bought some at a grocery store before hitting the cottage. I won’t say we never went out to eat (of course we did!) but we limited the eating out to two dinners and an ice cream.
  • We picked up boogie boards at Five Below before we went rather than at the souvenir shops, and brought sand buckets from home. Of course, the old sand buckets broke, and we ended up buying inexpensive ones at the souvenir shop anyway. But we brought all our chairs, beach towels, kites, etc with us.
  • It’s the beach. We were happy to just enjoy it rather than spending extra for other entertainment.

And Other Cheap Activities

At four weeks, the May-June track-out is Little Bit’s longest of the year. Essentially, we’re on summer break. So we’ve had a fair amount of fun stuff going on, both planned and unplanned.

Jon took Little Bit to the Wake County Library Sale to load up on books. They spent $6 and brought home 2 large boxes of books on the last day of the sale. While there weren’t a ton of kids books left, Jon found a fair amount of reading material and even brought me a few things home.

Little Bit got us to go to the LetterLand event down at Pullen Park. (LetterLand is a phonics program Little Bit uses at school.) It was a full day scavenger hunt event, and we managed to meet up with one of her best buds. We made it to two other parks last month, too.

On the way to and from the beach, we met up with different family members to eat lunch and break up the trip. Jon and I got to visit, and Little Bit got to play with cousins and get some good activity in on a day that otherwise would have been mostly riding in the car.

We’ve also gone to the library, went to a matinee of Guardians of the Galaxy, and went boogie board shopping.

How Does Our Garden Grow?

Ever since we moved to our current home, we’ve tried to grow at least a little food on the back porch.

We’ve tried to grow things in our back yard before, as well. Unfortunately, anything planted in the back yard has gone to feed the deer rather than us. (They even ate our apple trees!) So, mostly we’ve managed to grow herbs, and mostly in pots on our patio. In April, we broke out our pots and potting soil and launched our container garden.

Lo and behold, this year, we’re having some success. Not only did we actually get a few blueberries from our blueberry bush (though not as many as the birds got), I see some tomatoes forming on the tomato plants, and our carrot plants seem to be doing pretty well. The zucchini grew so well it threatens to take over the entire patio.

So far, only our pepper plants seem to be struggling, and that mainly because some caterpillars got into them. Meanwhile, we have already enjoyed of fresh basil for pasta and salad, and mint for mint water.

So while in previous years, our gardening attempts have cost us money, this year we might just break even.

If you’re curious, you can read more about my gardening efforts and see more pictures in my Tales of a Wannabe Gardener post.

Mint Water?

Yep, one of my favorite summer beverages is mint water. Take a pitcher of water, and throw in a handful of mint leaves. Leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours, and you should have a nice refreshing cheap no-cal summer beverage.

Even Little Bit likes it. So if you have a mint plant (and they tend to grow like crazy for me) and a pitcher, you’re all set.

State of the Blog May 2017

The To-Do List

To recap, my goals for the year were to:

  • Live Healthier
  • Increase Financial Health
  • Improve the Blog
  • Do Good Things
  • Get Rid of Excess Stuff

Live Healthier

I still ate too much sugar. I need to get back to my no sugar during the week routine.

Beach week was terrific for exercise, with great walks and swimming every day. Admittedly, some days swimming meant “Stand in the water and let the waves knock me around while I play lifeguard for Little Bit and her newfound beach buddy.”

And I’ve gotten more exercise at home, but less than I would have wanted. Little Bit has pushed me to do some dancing, but not to daily exercise. I guess I need to sign up for a class.

Increase Financial Health

I let my advisor know I’d be moving my money but decided (after I’d procrastinated most of the month) to wait until after June 1 to do it due to some pending payments. On the agenda for this week!

Grocery expenses seem to be back on track. Since we paid for our vacation earlier in the year and didn’t spend too much during it, our actual expenses stayed low.

Improve the Blog


Do Good Things

I worked the school store before Little Bit’s track out and volunteered for Bible School at our church. I’ll be back to the school store when Little Bit goes back to school at the end of the week.

Get Rid of Excess Stuff

We didn’t go through the toy totes, but I did get through my sock and accessories drawers. I cut up a few t-shirts for cleaning rags and gave one away to a friend who really loved the band, even if the shirt itself was pretty worn.

Toy totes are still on the agenda.

I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpWhile I’m never going to fold items perfectly, it had some good lessons on letting go of gifts and sentimental items and dealing with non-minimalist family members I needed to hear.

Jon and I discussed getting a storage unit for a month or so to help him clear out the garage and basement.  I called around, and it was way more than he bargained on.  We both feared that we might need it for more than a month. We also discussed getting a storage shed or turning our carport into a garage.

Wrapping Up May 2017

Looking back, May was a month of rest and restoration for us. 

Thanks for coming by. If you haven’t taken our survey, please take a minute to go fill it out. I’d love to get your feedback. You can follow us on  TwitterFacebook. Pinterest,  Google+ and StumbleUpon. Also feel free to let us know if you have a topic you’d like us to cover. or just want to say hi!

How did May go for you?

The John & Jane Doe Guide to Money & Investing is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

34 thoughts on “State of the Blog May 2017

  1. Good to hear you got some rest and had some fun! Great tip on the mint water, thanks. May was good here and Mother’s Day was wonderful. We are having some great weather in Michigan now. Sunshine always makes things better. Wishing you a great June!

    • Thanks, Amy! Glad you had a great month. Sunshine and warm weather help my mood a lot, and we’ve had a good mix of sun and rain to keep plants healthy.

  2. Oh I am so jealous of your blueberries! Beautiful! My mother-in-law always finds she has more zucchini than she knows what to do with – something about zucchini, it just does well in seemingly any garden. It’s the mint of garden veggies. Make some zucchini bread – that’s the only way my kids will ingest it! lol!

    • Yeah, Little Bit’s not the biggest zucchini fan either. I like to cook it with onions and use it for veggie tacos or enchiladas, but Little Bit pretty much only likes it roasted with parmesan or fried. I haven’t tried zucchini bread and may have to do so. It’s certainly thriving more than a lot of our other items.

  3. I love cheap vacations. It’s great to be able to prepare your own food and enjoy simple, free attractions. That’s why we always head up to the family cabin in Maine (although we won’t go this summer because it would be too much with the twins). And after the vacation is over, you have awesome memories, with no credit card regret 🙂

    I’m happy to hear that you had a nice, restorative May. Hope it’s just the start of an amazing summer for your family 🙂
    Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope recently posted…Monday Medley: Moving Forward As A Family Of SevenMy Profile

    • Thanks, Harmony. Your Maine cabin sounds lovely, but a big road trip with twin infants probably would be a bit overwhelming for all of you.

  4. Nice to see you back and feeling refreshed, Emily. Your vacation at Holden Beach sounds wonderful. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that your laptop was glitchy.

    Would you consider checking Craigslist or asking around for someone who might be looking to rent out a garage as storage? Some people do that as an extra way to make money and charge much less than storage goes for.
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…Why You Should Avoid Compounding Interest On Your Student Debt While in SchoolMy Profile

    • The glitchy laptop may have helped, Mrs. G! Certainly, it gave me a great excuse to spend all my time reading, playing on the beach with Little Bit, and shooting the breeze.

      Jon’s idea was to get a POD or some other storage that would be on site, figuring that would make it easier to use (and he’d be more likely use it for a shorter period of time if it was not out of sight.) I think he really likes the idea of turning the carport into a garage, but that’s a heck of a project to take on when we have so many others.

  5. Sounds like a fun trip to the beach! I love saving money on food by doing some of our own cooking on vacation too!

    I wish you continued good luck with the garden! There are so many great zucchini recipes out there, you won’t have any trouble using it up. Did you know you can make mock apple crisp from zucchini?

    I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up too. I liked it and have applied it in some areas (photos in particular). I really did try to fold my clothes in the drawers, but it only lasted about 3 weeks. I don’t know, it just feels so time consuming!!!
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…An inside look at how we manage moneyMy Profile

    • I did not know about the apple crisp. Sounds interesting.

      I tried the folding thing one day. That was enough. I probably could take a little more time folding clothes, and I understand the idea behind filing your clothes instead of stacking. But I couldn’t make it work at all. But permission to get rid of some gifts from others by acknowledging the intent without keeping the stuff…that feels really good. And the idea of looking at all like items at the same time has been really helpful.

  6. Glad you enjoyed your beach vacation…it sounds wonderful. And congrats on getting your porch garden to produce. We tried that on our patio (until the HOA told us we couldn’t) but nothing really grew for us. We love to eat zucchini, and my wife just found a new recipe for a zucchini, walnut and dill soup that sounds delicious. I too have the challenge of needing some storage space so I can get through the clutter, but renting it is out of the question (plus it’s too tempting to keep, if it’s off-site and out of mind). I don’t know what the answer is for us, but it sounds like you’ve come up with some good ideas for your house.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…Invest in the Right Season of the Stock Market CyclesMy Profile

    • Ooh, will have to look for the soup recipe. That does sound good. It’s too bad your HOA won’t let you even grow a few things on the patio! That seems ridiculous to me! We are happy enough not to have an HOA right now.

      I hope the storage issues work out. It would be nice to be able to shift a few things around to have room to sort what we still want from what we don’t.

    • I think we got 7 blueberries this year, and none of them were completely ripe. We may have to try some netting next year, but at least we know the bush is producing!

  7. Mint water sounds like something I need to try. A week at the beach is my type of vacation. Sounds like a relaxing month. Hope the time away and survey brings the clarity you need!
    Brian recently posted…Net Worth Update: May 2017My Profile

  8. Mint water and mint lemonade are two of my favorite summer drinks! I usually don’t even add sweetener. Just squeeze in some lemons and add mint leaves. Sounds like things have been treating you well! Can’t wait to hear about your new phone.

    May was a bit bananas for me between finishing up the school year and being sick. Definitely looking forward to a simpler June!
    Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies recently posted…Summer Money: Setting Goals for JuneMy Profile

    • I hope you find a simpler (and healthier) June, Penny.

      I’ll have to try the mint lemonade. Of course, I may also have to make some Mojitos to enjoy all that good mint as well!

  9. Happy to see you back! I am going to need a few weeks break too. Just too much going on! We did rent a storage unit as we prep our house for sale and as the house we are going to downsize into is being remodeled. We set a time limit though – and I hate paying bills like that so I think it won’t be a problem. Looks like your summer has started – we are still in school for 13 more days!
    Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions recently posted…Ignoring Frugality To Maintain Our SanityMy Profile

    • Little Bit’s back in school today, so our summer schedule will be back to normal until the end of the month when we get a week between 1st and 2nd grade. Then 6 weeks of school before another summer break beginning mid-August. So I’ll think of you enviously when you kick off your summer and retirement!

      The break has been pretty good. I have my next week’s article in mind, two other ideas I need to follow up on. It’s been a while since I had so much in mind!

  10. That sounds lovely!

    While I love your whole State of the Blog posts, I would love having more regular updates (weekly or bi weekly?) on specifics like gardening and how you would advise a beginning gardener not to waste too much money in the first gardening season. I’m trying to think way ahead to when we get started with our own. And thanks for the mention of the mint – I wouldn’t have remembered it but I adore the scent of fresh mint.
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…Net Worth & Life Report: May 2017My Profile

    • Hahaha, I’m not sure we’re the best sources on not wasting money with our garden. Like I said, we’ve done a better job of feeding the local deer population than on feeding ourselves. On the other hand, I don’t mind sharing a bit more on our efforts. But mint grows like crazy, and I’ve always had good luck with it, so it’s a good choice for even those of us without green thumbs!

  11. Nice job, Emily. I love to read about the family things the three of you do together. I have almost cut all the sugar from my diet, too. For my birthday I had a sliver of cake and that was it. I do have a weakness, M&M’s and Swedish Fish. I only buy a little of one or the other each trip to the store. Sometimes I just skip both so I can get a frappe at Mickey D’s! I spent most of May working on the yard. I trimmed all of the trees and shrubs except the big live oaks! I am working on my little garden by the front door. For my Bday, Jim took me to buy a load of concrete edging (scalloped) to put around the walk where it meets the garden. They were huge, about 18 inches or so long, and had six scallops on each one. Too big for the tiny garden. So a trip to Wally World and we found the same edging with the same size scallops in the three scallop size and with nice curved ones as well. They were interlocking, which surprised me. We hired a man from the Sanctuary, like we always do, to help. Burying that stuff is not an easy task!!! However, when finished it was lovely. We used the longer edging on the other side of the house in front of the shrubs. The house looks so much better. Uncle Jim bought a riding lawnmower and turned it over the first day. About five people saw him do it and all ran to his aid. He has a badly skinned elbow, but didn’t break anything, whew! I am trying to write a little now, as I need a sequel to help the sale of my first book. I love it, but could not spent the day on the laptop anymore (arthritic hands). I got a voice recognition program for a great price on eBay. I really enjoy using it. That’s all for now.

    • The pics of your yard on Facebook were lovely. Glad Jim didn’t get hurt too badly. That had to be frightening. And I hope your writing goes well!

  12. I tried container gardening w/out success this year. Maybe I needed bigger containers?

    I love the beach and would be perfectly happy with a beach vacation that involved the sea, sand and a good book.

    • Some plants need bigger containers, some are happy enough with smaller ones. It just depends on how deep their roots go. I’m using smaller pots for herbs, and larger ones for the zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes. That seems to be working okay.

      Sea, sand and a good book is my perfect vacation. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


CommentLuv badge