Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Budgeting 101 : Cash Confessional

Have you heard of Cash Confessional? I hadn't until recently. I saw it mentioned in a comment on Amanda's blog (also linking up with another Amanda) & immediately popped over because I'm nosy curious. Essentially each week a different person anonymously shares their salary, sector of the workforce, and where they're spending their money. It's fascinating.

You'll see $33,000 salaries spending with wild abandon, while those making $100,000 are frugal as can be. It's a Charlotte based website, which I find great for a cost comparison basis. But, I thought, given my current little budgeting series, it would be fun to track my spending for a whole week & do my own Cash Confessional.

If you missed it, I've already talked about 6 steps to making a budget that works + I shared my REAL budget - with real numbers, not just percentages.

If money makes you uncomfortable you can just dip on out now & I'll be back on Friday with my Friday Five, but, if it does make you uncomfortable, you're probably one of the people that needs to devote some time to your budget. Go ahead, think that one through.

The basics:
Industry: Materials Manufacturing
Position: Supply Chain // Warehousing
Yearly salary: About $61,000 + hard to guesstimate year end bonuses
Extra income: None
Who do you bank with and why? PNC for checking (easy to find physical locations in PGH)  + Capital One for savings (high interest rate for a savings account)
Savings: $1550 per month
Age: 26
Gender: Female

Monthly Expenses :
Rent: $350 (includes water, trash, sewage & Internet)
Number of roommates: 1
Neighborhood: West of the City
Utilities: $25 - $50 - we racked up a credit on our gas bill on the budget plan, so right now it's just electric.
Student loans (if applicable): None, I went hard on those student loan payments & was done in 2.5 years
Car payments: None!
Car insurance: $77
Transportation costs: $120 on gas
Phone bill: $0 - my Mom keeps threatening to make me pay & then never follows through
Health -- $35 per month
Renters – $150 a year, which is paid all at once.
Any extra costs not previously mentioned:
LA Fitness membership - $30
Monthly Massage - $40 (including tip)

Three financial goals:

1. Holler at that early ass retirement. The BF can retire from his job when he's 50 - but there are benefits to grinding it out & waiting until he's 53. Either way. I want to be on track to retire at that age (or earlier)!

2. Truck + trailer for cash in hand. I have dreams of a big pick-up truck that will tow my tricked out camper around the US to see all the National Parks - I want to pay cash for it all.

3. $1M net worth. I would love to say one day that I'm a millionaire, and it'll take a while, but I'm on my way!

Money Diary: How I spent my money last week

Day One : Monday

7:27 AM - After my 4th alarm has gone off, it's time to get out of bed. Rush around, leave late for work.

8:45 AM - Eat a black cherry yogurt I stole from the BF's house since I forgot my breakfast. It's meh. Drink free coffee from work. $0

11:01 AM - Considered eating lunch at 10, decided to hold out. As always, I packed my lunch. Penne + homemade pasta sauce (with tomatoes from the garden!) + chicken. $0

11:38 AM - Order 6 x 4x4" pictures from Walgreens from my New Zealand trip - Walgreens has 2 hour pickup, so I make the BF grab them on his way home from work. $2.50

5:01 PM - I am outta this joint. And hungry. I rush home & scarf down some leftovers before I start my meal prep for the week.

Total Spent : $2.50

Day Two : Tuesday

6:11 AM - Okay, gym time today. Hard boiled egg eaten on the way to the gym. $0

8:30 AM - Strawberry Banana smoothie for breakfast this morning. I make two at a time & freeze them. I would make 4 at a time, but I only have two blender cups. $0

12:00 PM - El Campesino. Boss Man took us out to Mexican since it was our intern's last week. Free lunch? Why yes please. $0

2:00 - More coffee. Because a belly full of chimichangas and siestas go hand in hand.

5:01 PM - Head home & eat dinner, can't remember what, probably some of the orzo salad I prepped Monday night. Orzo, edamame, blackened corn, tomatoes, peppers & cilantro + some chicken. $0

Total Spent : $0

Day Three : Wednesday

6:11 AM - Wake up for the gym

6:27 AM - Decide I don't want to go to the gym, get back in bed.

7:45 AM - Wake up for real this time.

8:35 AM - Late to work, head straight to the Keurig, it's gonna be a rough day. $0

9:00 AM - My breakfast smoothie is still frozen solid. Set it on the window sill in the sunshine to thaw. $0

11:53 AM - LUNCH TIME. My 11-1130 meeting ran long, but I had another at 1PM. So, I shoveled in a salad from home. $0

12:00 PM - Had to make a return to Payless @ the mall, but poked around JC Pennys on my way out & found some cute stuff. Including something called "Ponte Pants"? Apparently they're a thing. Think super thick leggings that you wouldn't feel weird wearing to work. +$17.00 from Payless - $71.98 from Pennys = $54.98

1:00 PM - More meetings.

5:05 PM - Leave work.

5:07 PM - 6:09 PM - Sit in traffic. $0 My sanity.

6:13 PM - Have a toddler style meltdown (read : Why the BF is the best)

6:20 PM - Drink wine. $0

Total Spent : $54.98

Day Four : Thursday

6:30 AM - Head for a run at North Park.

6:45 AM - Remember I have to stop at Panera for Bagel Club.

8:20 AM - We have "Bagel Club" at work, every Thursday someone from the club brings in bagels. There are 12 of us, so I'm on bagel duty once a quarter. $15.99

11:15 AM - There are 3 extra bagels this week. SCORE. People must be out on vacation. Pull out some baggies & freeze them for days when I'm feeling lazy.

12:00 PM - Time for a lunch salad. $0

2:00 PM - Mandatory "Competency Training" - I still don't know what this means. But at least there are cookies. Including toffee chip cookies, my favorite. I take two + a bottle of water. $0

5:30 PM - Get stuck at work late. My laptop won't connect to the Internet which means I can't really take it to meetings. IT can't figure out the issue.

6:30 PM - Hot dogs for dinner #lazy. $0

7:15 PM - Bake chocolate chip zucchini muffins with zucchini from the garden. Tomorrow is the intern's last day. $0

Total Spent : $15.99

Day Five : Friday

6:30 AM - Drive to the gym.

8:35 AM - Coffee. Eat one of my homemade muffins. Another lady from work brought in kolache. Yum. I scored one with bacon, egg & cheese. $0

10:00 AM - Another zucchini muffin. I do good work.

12:45 PM - Orzo salad + chicken for lunch. Still surprisingly good & fresh 4 days later! $0

5:15 PM - Stop for gas on the way home. Luckily the station on my route home usually has the best prices. $24.69

5:45 PM - Salad for dinner, topped with some orzo salad, chicken, HB egg, feta, this is a souped up salad! $0

Total Spent : $24.69

Day Six : Saturday

6:35 AM - Wake up, time to go running!

7:30 AM - Time for a group run with Pro Bike + Run. I debate between 5.5 & 8.5 miles.

8:05 AM - Get to the 5.5 mile turn around, decide 5.5 miles is good enough for me.

9:00 AM - Aldi run. End up with lots of impulse buys, and spend 25% of my total grocery $ on watermelons. #NoShame. $21.69 for groceries + $40 cash back for my massage next week. $61.69

11:42 AM - Write this post.

12:30 PM - Run to the Dollar Tree for a wedding card. My friend gets married today! $.54

1:45 PM - Write heartfelt things in said wedding card. Write check. Seal envelope. $50

3:15 PM - Drive to ceremony - it's hot out, and the ceremony is outside. Fan myself with random magazine from the floor of my car.

4:30 PM - Ceremony = done. My house is near the reception venue, so I head home to lay around for an hour & avoid a pricey drink at the hotel bar.

6:00 PM - Let the reception BEGIN! The BF & I take turns DD'ing. He had to work at 7AM the next morning anyways, so I don't feel bad that he took this one for the team. $0

8:00 PM - Dance, drink, dance.

11:00 PM - The fun is over, we say our goodbyes, the BF drops me off at home, but I'm stone cold sober, so I follow him back to his house.

Total Spent : $112.23

Day Seven : Sunday

9:01 AM - Wake up to the gentle sound of rain on the roof.

9:40 AM - Stomach won't stop making gurgling noises, so I finally get up.

9:45 AM - The BF left the coffee on for me. Pour a big ol' mug full. Eat leftover cookies from the wedding. $0

10:00 AM - We're hosting a cookout for his family this evening, so I've got to make pasta salad for 20. I get to work boiling water & chopping veggies.

10:15 AM - Dump a bunch of things I find in a pitcher to make sangria. Including a random can of peaches I found. It turned out really well. $0

11:45 AM - Suit up to go for a bike ride, but then the BF stops home for lunch, so my car is blocked in & it's raining again.

12:38 PM - Finally start my ride. I was planning on leisurely, but then this girl on a slick tri bike rides past and I can't help but chase her. I ride my fastest 10 miles in a while. She finishes her ride, so I make my last 5 miles a little lot slower.

2:00 PM - More cookout prep. I realize all I've had to eat is cookies. So I eat a zucchini muffin from earlier in the week & half a cantaloupe. $0

2:15 PM - Shower, and I needed it.

3:30 PM - BF is home from work. We toss drinks in a cooler and use ice we've been stockpiling for weeks, because we're both too cheap to buy a bag from the store. It's just water, after all. Then we drop my car off at the mechanic, this way we'll free up a parking space & save ourselves a headache later. My car needs new brakes.

4:45 PM - We told people they could start heading over around 5, so the first folks show up at 445 (Okay, so the first folks really showed up at 330, but we told them that when we said 5PM we meant it, and that they needed to go away. In what world does 5 or 530 mean 330!?).

5:30 PM - When it's all said and done there are 19 of us. Wow. Things went surprisingly smooth. We had plenty of food, plenty of seating & plenty of booze.

10:22 PM - Finally the last few folks leave. I'm beat. We scurry around to clean up the essentials & then it's bed time.

Total Spent : $0

Weekly Total Spent : $210.39

Am I surprised? Eh. I would say this is not quite a normal week for me. The clothes buying is out of character for me and obviously the wedding is an occasional one time spend. But usually one grocery trip + one tank of gas a week is about on par. I bring the majority of my meals to work, maybe twice a month I'll grab lunch out at Chipotle. But, I usually have gift cards since my Mom likes to gift me things she knows I'll use.

Where does the biggest chunk of your money go each week?
Do you usually go out for lunch // happy hour?
What are some of your money goals?

Also linking with Gretchen & Kristen.

Monday, August 29, 2016

I'm moving, again

Dear Internet Friends,

I talked back in January, when I revealed some of my personal goals, about how 2016 was going to be a big year for me. So here we are, it's September (what the hell BTW? How did this happen?) and big things are on the horizon.

A week ago I gave notice to my landlady that I'll be moving out at the end of September. EEK. So, where am I moving exactly? In with the BF. Double eek. I've spent the last week savoring every drive home from work, since my commute will just about triple once I move (15 minutes to 45 minutes), I'll no longer live near my favorite ice cream place, favorite grocery store location or favorite breakfast place. Don't even get me started on having to find a new Chinese takeout place with good Wonton Soup. AH. Tell me you all have been through this.

I'm sure about this. The BF is my person. We've talked engagement & marriage, and it's in our future. But, considering I've lived on my own (or with a roommate) for 8 years now, but never with a significant other, this feels pretty huge. I know there are details and things we need to figure out before I waltz in the door with a bunch of boxes. So I'm scouring the Internet for tips & tricks. What are yours?

What do we need to discuss before I move in? We've talked about money - who pays for what & how we'll split things, and pet peeves, because why that man leaves dirty dishes in the sink when the empty dishwasher is 4 inches away is beyond me. He also doesn't understand how I can leave dirty wet clothes on the bathroom floor, but obviously that's besides the point!

There's the obvious stuff, like who's bed will we keep (his), what dishes will we use (fingers crossed for mine), and how we'll divvy up the chores.

Then there's the not so obvious stuff, like, can I keep my granny panties? Do tampons go on the grocery list if I know he's shopping, or make my own private run? And how do I convey the fact that the drawers in the fridge are not beer drawers. They're for vegetables! HELLLPPP!

What if it turns out I hate him? I mean, he likes to come home from work and do stuff. And I don't mean eat dinner & watch Netflix. He does things like chores around the house, and cleaning. I don't understand when he watches Netflix. Does this mean I have to come home from work & be productive? Does this mean I have to wear a bra after work? I hope not. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Do we play Chinese Firedrill in the driveway every morning because the driveway is only one car wide - but street parking is kind of a no go? How do we have alone time when we're in the same house? A 1.5-ish bedroom house. Okay, technically two bedrooms, but I've seen closets bigger than that. And what if I want to just take a shit and read blog posts on my phone, but he needs to brush his teeth?

How does any of this work?
Laugh at me, commiserate with me, offer me advice.
Something. Please.

Panicked in Pittsburgh

Linking up with Holly & Tricia for Weekend Highlights

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friady Five #36

If you're a regular around here then first of all, you're pretty much my favorite. And second of all, you saw there was no weekend recap to speak of on Monday. When I sat down to write it my laptop was on the struggle bus, I had lots to do around the house & typing it all out on my phone sounded like pretty much the worst. So I said fuck it. But, I'm back.

In case you missed it : I posted my REAL budget on Tuesday - complete with real budgeted spending for each month. And apparently you all liked it. It was my most commented on post ever. That's good news, because I'll be back on Wednesday to share what a normal-ish week of spending looks like for me. Every purchase broken down.

So, back to our regularly scheduled Friday Five.

one // I applied to be a Legend Compression Wear ambassador and was chosen! My compression sleeves finally arrived last Friday night, so obviously I tested them out while I stockpiled some blog posts & laid in bed. I wore them again on Saturday & Sunday, but wanted a chance to run in them a time or two before I go writing a review. But, they're my favorite color. If you were already looking to order, you can use AmbFriend2016 for 15% off your order. But, I'll make sure to re-post the code again if someone is interested after they see a review.

Also, who's loving the kitchen flooring in my apartment? It doesn't get better than that folks. ;) That's genuine vintage laminate.

two // Today is National Dog Day! Since dogs are pretty much the best, I thought I would give a shout out to the two pups in my life. :)

If you've been here a while, you've seen Tuck pop up before. He's my former roommates pup, technically. Not related by blood, but we call him my neph-dog. He may be a "bully breed" - but don't bully my bully, because this one is a big softie. Let him sit on your feet or rub his belly & you've got a friend for life. He has a great handshake and loves to give high-fives. His favorite way to greet me is to collapse, immediately, belly up onto the floor & roll around until I pet him.

And then meet Buddy, he's popped up here a time or two for sure, he's my "Home Dog" - pun fully intended. He's no longer quite a "pup" as he turned 10 earlier this year. His favorite activities include softly barking until someone will carry him down the stairs. Only to run back up them & repeat. Following my Mom everywhere, laying on top of your head & chewing on dirty underwear.

three // Pumpkin Mania is coming soon. PSL's are set to be at McDonalds & Dunkin soon - also pumpkin glazed munchkins at Dunkin? Yeah, not gonna bother resisting those. And I'm sure Starbucks will be soon to follow. Anyone got a great make at home PSL recipe!? Link that right up in a comment, please.

four // I made Buckeye Brownies for the boss man earlier this week. He turned 50, so we all brought in things to cover breakfast & lunch. They're so simple. Boxed brownie mix - make it & bake it. Top it with your PB mixture (3-ish cups powdered sugar, 1/3 stick melted butter + PB until it's a light brown color. Maybe 2 cups? I don't measure a thing) It should be the consistency of playdoh. Then top it all with melted chocolate almond bark, or chocolate chips + butter, melted together. Ta-da!

 five // And finally a few funnies...

What are you up to this weekend?
What's your go-to homemade PSL recipe?
Or any pumpkin recipe - bring on the pumpkin!



linking up with Heather, Amanda, Andrea, Tif, Della & Katie.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Budgeting 101 : My REAL budget, with REAL numbers

Okay, so this is a scary one to type out. I'm going to share with you today my real budget, my real life spending numbers. I'll have a separate post soon about where my money is going, essentially a budget check in, a broken down version of where my "miscellaneous" expenses are going.

HINT : Target & wine (if Target ever starts to sell wine near me I am in serious trouble)

A few notes before I get started. This is where MY money goes. It goes there because I tell it to. I choose the aspects of my life that I can control carefully, so I can put my money towards things that matter to me. Travel matters to me, and it's evidenced by my spending. Clothes do not particularly matter to me, and you'll see that below too.

I get it, not everyone can have a budget like this, whether you live in an expensive city (NYC, I'm looking at you) or want to prioritize buying all organic (you go girl!). I am showing you what I spend each month, give or take, in the hopes that it might inspire you to cut some of your excess spending so you can spend that money in a way that's meaningful to you. Trim Starbucks spending to buy a new purse, or trim your grocery budget to go on a weekend getaway, rent a cheaper apartment so you can pay off your student loans faster. It is all up to you.

| side note | Haterz will not be tolerated, "This is impossible" - umm nope, here I am over here, living my life & this is my budget. Since I'm not starving or dead I'd say it's going well. Any more stupid statements?

You may see a few things "missing" from my budget below. Debt repayment - student loans or a car payment. I don't have one. I busted my butt from August of 2012 - December of 2014 paying more than quadruple my monthly student loan payment each month. I threw every extra dollar I had at making additional payments. I even spent March - June of 2013 unemployed, but my budget saved me. I've paid off over $40,000 of debt and while unemployed, avoided moving back to KY and back in with my parents.

A few more notes - no decimals, math is hard enough as is. And finally, these are budgeted numbers, I'll be back to show you how well I hit that each week // month next week. So, without further adieu, my monthly budget - WITH REAL NUMBERS.

Quick facts : Single female, living in Pittsburgh, PA, no debt, doesn't care about designer purses anything.

Monthly Pay : $2,965 (take home only - I put about 15% of my pre-tax monies into my 401K)
Rent : $350 (this includes my water, sewage, trash & interwebs)
Gas // Electric : $50
Car Insurance : $80
Groceries : $120
Gas : $120
Gym : $30
Race Entries : $50
Health Insurance : $40
Clothing : $250 // quarter = $83 // month (this includes running shoes)
Dining Out : $120
Misc : $100
Savings : $1550 (Monthly recurring withdrawals mean I don't even miss the money)

Now, if you're good at math you already noticed this, but my spending + savings adds up to less than my monthly take home pay. Why yes, yes it does. I like to keep a buffer of a few hundred dollars around in case I need something like emergency car maintenance, or quick cash from my checking account. Monday I paid for new front brakes for my car, and while not something that's fun to spend money on, it will have zero impact on my monthly budget. I monitor my accounts carefully, if my buffer gets above $500 or so, I transfer the remainder to my savings account.

But, wait, I said above I like to travel. And I do. I budget $5000-ish annually to travel. If I come in under that, okay, if I go over that by a little, that's okay too. Where does it come from? My "savings". Even if I only put $1550 away monthly, I save $18,600 annually. But, in 2015, I managed to "save" an extra $3000, just by transferring additional money to my savings account when my buffer went over $500. And this year, I've saved an additional $6K - which, if you think about it, covers my travel for the year, while leaving my net savings at $18,600. Is this confusing yet? Hope not.

I use my "savings" for things like stock market investment, Roth IRA contributions & just straight up as an emergency fund. I keep a certain amount of $$$ as liquid cash, and the rest funnels through my savings account to other things, like stocks, and adult-ness.

Like I said (probably 4 times already) I'll be back next week with real numbers - in case you were curious what I spent at Target last month. And considering doing a weekly or bi-weekly little post about my grocery shopping haul + meal plan. 'Cause cooking for 1 ain't always easy. Would that interest you?

What budget questions do you have?
Where do you prioritize your spending?

Linking up with Amanda to share + FunMoneyMom + Dare to Share + Best of the Blogosphere LovePastaToolBelt + SewCraftyAngel

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Five #35

This week has been pretty meh. It has been rainy and dreary, but somehow still super humid & hot. And if I'm being honest, I've been in a pretty serious funk all week. Because you know what, that's some real life shit right there. No rainbows and butterflies this week, friends. But that's okay, I'm confident some fun this weekend will snap me out of it.

My former roommate is getting married! Which is crazy, because I was literally there the instant they first met in person. And the BF & I are having a big cookout for his family on Sunday (so pray for sunshine!). What are you up to this weekend? What's happening in your corner of the world? Here's a little bit of mine...

one // I had a toddler style meltdown on Wednesday. Specifics aren't worth it, but, I was angry. And the first thing I did when I got home from work (after an HOUR in traffic) was stomp my feet and yell (at the BF). Who first started to hug me and ask me what was wrong, but quickly switched to "Let me open a bottle of wine". Which was received much better. I calmed down, and enjoyed a small bottle of wine I brought home from my Europe trip. But seriously, that man is the best. :)

two // For a while I was having a hard time deciding on anywhere in particular for vacation next year. Then on Wednesday I was poking around the interwebs & I found it. I'm still planning it all out, and it won't be until late Spring // early Summer of 2017, but here's the plan.
Fly to Berlin - train to Prague - (maybe a random stop at another Czech city) - train to Vienna - train to Bratislava - train to Budapest - Fly back to Pittsburgh. So, who has been here, what else should we see // do. We both love hiking, so I've been looking into how to incorporate some of that.

three // So I finally started caring about Instagram - maybe caring is the wrong word. Dedicating effort. There, we'll go with that. Checking out good hashtags for the things I'm posting, commenting and engaging with others, etc. But, I have to say, people who follow you in hopes of getting followed, only to immediately unfollow you make me want to scream. WHAT IS THE POINT. What are some of your favorite #hashtags? Are you using Insta Stories (I'm not, but I also wasn't using Snapchat, so here we are)

four // I haven't told a lot of real life people about ze blog. No real reason, except I seem to come off way less funny in type. I'm actually hilarious (and yes, someone besides my Mom has confirmed this). Anyways. The link to this corner of the Internet is on my Instagram, and apparently a few friends have noticed this week. So I've gotten some really sweet texts from friends who popped over & read a bit. If you're reading, and we're friends in real life, "Heyyyy".

five // And some funnies...'cause this post is a little low on the picture count...mostly 'cause apparently I didn't take any this week.

linking up with Heather, Amanda, Andrea, Tif, Della & Katie.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Day Trip Diaries : Lake Milton

One of my best friends texted me a week or so ago, she's moving to the UK. Permanently, or at least with no set move date back to the US. At the end of August. I had known this move was a definite maybe for the year 2016, but with a perfect storm, August 31st is now the day.

We were racking our brains for how we could hang out before she left, but neither of us had a whole weekend to spare. While Akron & Pittsburgh aren't terribly far apart, a 2 hour drive each way, just for one day of hang wasn't what we wanted to waste time on.

A quick Google search showed that Lake Milton was a pretty good halfway point. It's situated about 1 hour 15 minutes - 1 hour 30 minutes away from Pittsburgh & 45 or so from Akron. There are 4 wineries within a 5 - 10 minutes drive from each other, and a few others if you're brave enough to drive 15 minutes. We decided to pack some snacks to munch on & make a day of it.

The drive was easy. I took 79 North to the Turnpike - which I took to Ohio exit 218. It's a few short turns from there. Worth mentioning - tolls on the way there will set you back $1.75 sans EZ Pass (which is me), but the way back is significantly more expensive, closer to $9 - since PA charges $6.60 just to roll your tires on into the state. Because of this, I took an alternate route home, which only cost me about an extra 10 minutes of travel time.

As I mentioned there are 4 wineries all within a 5 - 10 minute drive from one another. Our first stop was Lil' Paws, which we picked because they opened at noon & allowed us to bring our own food.

We shared a flight to find out which wine we liked the best & then shared a bottle between us. Their wine selection was definitely more towards the sweeter side, and each was named after a dog owned by the owners, past or present. They also had house made beer on draft, though we did not partake.

We decided to share a bottle of their Riesling, also known as the "Rusty" - but unfortunately most of their other wines were lacking in depth of flavor. Like when you make dinner, but it's just missing something & you don't know what.

And lest you think I'm a wine snob, I'm not, I usually rock out whatever is cheapest at the State Store.

Lil' Paws
17574 Mahoning Ave
Lake Milton, OH 44429

Pros : Bring your own food, open @ noon on Saturdays, outdoor & indoor seating
Cons : Wine is meh
Tastings : $.50 each, or $6 for 8 tastings + you keep the glass

Before heading to the next winery, Hallidays, we wandered down to the water of Lake Milton. There's a "boardwalk" of sorts that parallels a bridge and a gazebo right at the waters edge along with a picnic table.

After getting sunburned down by the lake we hopped back in the car & headed down the road to Hallidays Winery. The inside was charming & featured lots of tables, but lacked AC. So, we opted to head outside after choosing our wines + sangrias (they feature 3 different types of house made sangria on the weekends). Their outside area features 15+ picnic tables spread out, many with a view of the lake.

While the skies threatened a thunderstorm all afternoon, we were able to enjoy most of our visit at a table overlooking the water. We dashed under a tent set up outside, and finished our glasses. Within a few minutes the rain had let up & we headed for a walk.

And finally, what might have been my favorite photo of the day. If you follow me on Instagram (@15minutes_late) you saw this one on Sunday, but I couldn't resist sharing again.

Halliday's Winery
2400 NE River Rd
Lake Milton, Ohio 44429

Pros : Lots of seating, direct view of the lake, good selection of their wine, + beer & sangria for non wine drinkers, has their own boat dock
Cons : A tad pricey (our Riesling was $20), can't bring your own food, no AC
Tastings : $.50 each for a small .5oz - 1 oz pour, or $6.50 for 3 x 2oz pours, which was what we opted for.

Finally, it was on to what turned out to be our final stop of the day. It's amazing how time flies with good friends. We both lamented we were hungry, and were shocked when we looked at the time it was dinner time, no wonder!

We drove next to Myrddin Winery. It was a 5 minute drive from Halliday's, but easy to miss if you're not paying attention. A turn off the main road led us to follow a small sign claiming "Winery" before we got to a small gravel parking area. This led to the entrance and a small gravel path through the trees to their tasting area.

A word of warning, this place did not seem handicap accessible.

We were instantly charmed by this place, a million tiny lights everywhere, and a path through the trees to get to this place. Unfortunately it was sprinkling when we arrived, but there was lots of outdoor seating, tables, chairs, comfy couches, and tents, all wound with lighting. After we taste tested & ordered a bottle of their Riesling - and waited for the rain to stop. It did, and they were quick to hop outside, set up lights and wipe off tables and chairs.

We took a walk down to the lake // dock before settling under a canopy on some patio furniture. No sooner did we get set up then the rain came down in buckets. We scooted towards the middle of the canopy, but eventually the wind prevailed & we were getting pretty wet. We made a break for it and headed back inside to pack up & head out.

I think a sunny day would have seen this place packed. No direct views of the lake, but with a fire pit, lots of seating & plenty of shade it was our favorite place of the day.

Myrddin Winery
3020 Scenic Ave
Berlin Center, Ohio 44401

Pros : Super charming, lots of seating options, can bring your own food
Cons : Limited parking, no good lake view
Tastings : $.50 each, no flight available

All in all this was the perfect day trip from Pittsburgh. If I did it all again I might try to find a short hike around the lake for the morning, but I loved how close all the wineries were together, and that 2 of the 4 allowed you to bring your own food. The rainy weather was a blessing and a curse. Most of the wineries were nearly empty, and all the bands for the day were cancelled due to the poor weather forecast, so we lucked out big time.

What was your last day trip?
Do you meet up with friends halfway?
Am I the only one that tries to re-route around tolls because they suck and I already pay taxes and shouldn't have to pay extra money just to drive on roads?
I’m linking up with Amanda, LovePastaToolBeltA Little R&R +  Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World for Wanderful Wednesday

Monday, August 15, 2016

Two Face 10K Recap

I had an internal debate a while back. There were 3 races I wanted to run and all of them took place on the same weekend. I ended up picking the Two Face 10K, a local race put on by my running store. It involves 2 x 10K. One on the road, followed by one on the trails. There is of course the option to run just one of the races, but if you run both you receive two medals, that hook together to make a better double medal. So, go big or go home, right?

The Two Face 10K took place at local North Park. It's one of my go to spots for biking, hiking, running and walking. Early registration was $40, if you ran both races, or $25 for just one. Packet pick-up was easy peasy the Friday & Saturday before the race, or race day pick-up on site.

I knew I would be running both races, but didn't know exactly how the weather would pan out. I originally planned to pack 2 whole outfits, but, left one at home, so my flat Jessie was a sad state of affairs.

Race day logistics were simple. Parking near the start line was plentiful, and since the race was all of 5 minutes from my house, it made for a stress free start to the day.

The 10K road race started at 730AM, and the local county police did a great job of blocking off the roadways & major intersections. My goal for the first race was two-fold. First, I wanted to run somewhere between 55 - 60 minutes, and I finished in 57:48. Second I wanted to run even pacing - I haven't synced my Garmin yet, but I do believe I nailed it.

The course ran around the familiar "Lake Loop" as the locals call it. After a flat first half mile, there was a 3-ish minute climb, followed by a descent to mirror it. The rest of the course is rolling hills. I made a game time decision to wear my hydration pack for the road race, rather than relying on aid stations, and I was grateful I did.

I finished just before 830AM, which gave me 35-40 minutes before the start of the trail 10K portion. I was able to drink some Gatorade (blue, the best of all the flavors) & water as well as eating a banana. After that, I made a beeline for my car to change my socks and shoes, and wipe the sweat from my eyes. Literally.

The trail race was a wave start. Runners were separated based off their 10K road finish. One wave, of 25 runners each was released each minute and I found myself in wave 4. I knew from my preview run that the first mile is very challenging and features some steep rocky uphill, which I planned to walk. I situated myself towards the back of my wave, but was pleased I was not the only one walking.

After the first mile, the trail is mostly single track, AKA not wide enough to pass easily. I spent some time stuck in a traffic jam, as there was nowhere to pass. Safely or otherwise. Pittsburgh got lots of rain this week so I was pleasantly surprised with the condition of the trails. Definitely some muddy spots, but nothing like the mud bath I had anticipated. I carried my hydration pack again, which was desperately needed.

The course is rolling hills, but somehow felt like I ran more up than down. The 6.2 mile course was very well flagged, while I knew the course from a preview run I didn't hear of any runners who were confused or lost, and there were volunteers at each major turn to direct runners. 3 aid stations each featured water & Gatorade for which I was grateful.

Miles 3 - 5 were slow going, but before I knew it after what felt like an eternity, we were down to 1 mile to go. I finished my first trail 10K in 1:19.51, almost a minute faster than the course preview run I did a few weeks earlier, on fresh legs. I planned to use that time as a gauge, so I was ecstatic to see I beat it!

Post-race refreshments included the usual, water, Gatorade, bananas, pretzels & cookies. But the best was the free shaved ice! I combined mango & margarita flavors for one of my favorite post-race treats ever!

The medals feature two faces, that magnet back to back to make one larger medal!

I've committed myself to spending the rest of the day on the couch, and am already scared about how sore I'll be tomorrow. But I had a great (and even enjoyable) day of racing! It was exactly what I needed after a few blah weeks of workouts.

Anyone race this weekend?
Ever done a race like this?
Shaved ice - what's your go-to flavor?
Best tips // tricks for avoiding DOMS?

Linking up with :
Holly & Tricia for Weekend Highlights 
 Marcia x Patty x Erika for Tuesdays on the Run

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Five #34

Happy Friday, friends. We made it! I don't know about y'all, but after a not so relaxing weekend last weekend, I am super excited for this one. Not sure it'll be any more relaxing though. I've got lots of plans.

But, I did get some exciting bloggy news this week...I'm this weeks featured blogger over at High Five For Friday (H54F) - a Friday link-up hosted each week by Tif, Della & Katie. If you've not linked up with them before, head on over!

grab button for Bright on a Budget 

In the meantime, what's going on in your world this week? Here's a little bit of what's going on in mine...

one // Is wine a good pre-race meal? What if you add cheese? I'm racing the Two Face 10K on Sunday. A 10K road race, followed by a 10K trail race! All before I dive face first into a massive pile of food, and a nap. But, first, I'll spend Saturday at some nearby wineries to meet up with a friend before she moves away. And, since it's only an hour from Pittsburgh, I'll make sure to get you locals the scoop!

Look for a Two Face 10K recap (or at least the first part) on Monday! I have no idea what to expect, so I'm excited & more than a little nervous. But I do hope to see a few familiar faces!

two // Olympics. Cue all the emojis! While this is the one time every four years where I wish I owned a television, I've been making due. As a former swimmer & rower, the summer Olympics are my JAM. I'm probably with everyone else when I say I have not had a full nights sleep ANY night this week.

three // My brother made it to Washington State. I can't thank all of you who have said a prayer, sent a good vibe, or a well wish enough. My very own baby brother has hiked his ass all the way from the super southern tip of California to Washington state. He has 600-ish miles left to hike to make it to Canada. But, there's no stopping him now!

If you're new here, he is thru-hiking the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail)! All by his lonesome, before he heads back to Louisville to start his big boy job in the fall.

four // Pickle - mania may be slowing down, but all that means it it's salsa time! The BF sent me a text to say he picked a few tomatoes & might make some salsa...imagine my surprise that this was what he meant by a "few" tomatoes...

 ...we canned 16 jars of salsa + a little fresh version to munch on last night.

five // And what would Friday be without some funnies...

In case you missed it :
I posted on Wednesday about how to get started making a budget. You can find it here. And I love all the great responses I got. I'm excited & nervous to share a post (hopefully next week!?) with my real budget numbers. Especially if you're generally nosy like I am, it'll be a peek into exactly where my numbers go. If you haven't already, check out my initial post.

What are you up to this weekend?
Have you ever tried your hand at canning?
What's your go-to wine - type or brand?
I always love trying new things!

 Also linking up with Heather, Amanda, Andrea

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Budgeting 101 : 6 steps to get you started

For some people budget is a big scary word that means you can't spend money on the things you enjoy. It's not true though! If you budget right, a budget is a big fancy word that means I have money to spend on things that are important to me. See the difference? Maybe not yet. But lemme break it down. You don't have to restrict yourself (unless you're spending more $ than you make) but rather determine what's important to you and send your dollars there.

In college I never had a budget, I wasn't spending tons of money, and I didn't think I needed one. Flash forward to my first job out of college, I was raking in seriously big bucks, driving a company car and didn't have a single worry about money. Until I quit. I couldn't take it. The job, the company, the people, were sucking my soul and it wasn't worth the money.

I was living on my own, in an apartment by myself, 5 hours away from my family. 100% unemployed, and with no next job lined up - but plenty of student loans to pay. So, I sat down, looked at my accounts, and made a budget. 

This was back in 2013, and I've been budgeting ever since. So much so, that I've got it down to science now. I usually know by rough guesstimates in my head if I'm over or under, and I don't track quite so religiously now.

I'll be back to share my budget, and some real numbers for spending in a future post. In the meantime, here are the 6 steps that got me started with a budget.

1. Decide how to track expenses

There are fancy apps, there are plain old spreadsheets, there are printables to use with plain old pen & paper. But decide on how you will track your expenses. Do what works for you. They all yield the same result.

2. Track your expenses

For a whole month - save every receipt, make note of everything you buy with cash. No purchase is too small to count. Add it all up, using your app, spreadsheet or pen & paper. Write it all down.

3. Determine your income

Figure out how much money you make each month. Since I work that corporate cube farm life, I know I get paid every other Friday, the same amount, give or take a few bucks, since dental comes out only once a month, not twice. For me, I add up those two numbers, and poof, that's how much money I make each month. I don't have a side hustle. I don't occasionally make some extra cash, that's it.

Your formula may be a bit more complicated depending on your situation, but sit down, take a few minutes, and figure out, worst case scenario what you'll bring home next month.

4. Figure out the necessities

In my opinion, the easiest way to do this is to take a look back at everything you spent the month prior & determine what you could live without. Not would want to live without. But, if you lost your job right now, what would you need to survive. Start there, with the basics.
Rent - necessary
New shoes - probably not necessary
Groceries - necessary
Starbucks - not necessary

5. Figure out the wants

This is where Starbucks & Target runs come in. Now that you know your income & your needs, you know if you've got some $$$ leftover to spend on the fun stuff. You probably will, but you may not. That's okay, there are ways to make it work. The important part is not spending more money than you make each month.

6. Adjust spending as needed

Now comes the hard part. You want to save up for an epic vacation, but you're having trouble finding room in the budget. Well, would you rather have your Starbucks or an extra $20 a week towards vacation? For some people, the answer might be Starbucks, for some people it might be vacation...for some people, they're saying I don't buy Starbucks, so I can't quit it & have an extra $20 (I actually fall into this category myself). The point is there IS something you can do without, if you want to, but you've got to find what that something is.

Do you budget?
Where do you prioritize your spending? 
Shoes? Starbucks? Vacation? 
Did your parents make learning about money a priority growing up?

Linking up with Amanda to share + LovePastaToolBeltA Little R&R 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Books I read in July (and whether or not you should read them)

I'm linking up with Steph & Jana today, to talk about the books I read in July...and whether or not you should read them. But first, a rant (ish)...

I go to the library last Saturday, all excited, I had 2 books on hold, ready to be picked up, including Me Before You! I hand over my card, whereupon the circ clerk tells me I have a HUGE fine ($26.XX) for returning a water damaged book. Umm, say what!? She told me the title, interestingly enough, it's one in this post & that she was actually the one to check it in. I told her I returned that specific book in the book drop on a Monday evening, along with 2 other books and that it was fine when I put it in. She said it wasn't her call as it was an inter-library loan book, but that I was welcome to call that library. I did - but was told they couldn't do anything, because their "Quality Manager" didn't work weekends. I'm upset at the accusation that I would put a sopping wet book into a book drop. The Circ Clerk said it was dripping wet when she checked it in on Tuesday morning. Did someone use the book drop as a trash can? Did it rain that night? I really can't remember. Furthermore, when did a paperback book cost $26. XX? I'm waiting on a call from the QM - so, we'll see how this one plays out. But looks like I won't be putting more books in the book drop any time soon.

Life According to Steph

Now on to the books I read in July...

The Problem With Forever - Jennifer L Armentrout : 5 stars

Well how's that for starting things off with a bang? 5 stars? Yeah. I went there. This is a YA book. It's long, but an easy read, and honestly I think would make a good movie.

Mallory runs into a ghost of the past, which makes her realize the past doesn't always stay in the past. This book tackles anxiety, crushes, love, and what happens when the past doesn't quite stay the past.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han : 3 stars

I had seen this book on so many blogs I figured I had to read it. But it was slow going and I almost put it down more than once. It's also a YA read, and I just didn't feel like I got to know the characters as much as I would have liked. I don't quite know how to describe the writing style, but it took me a while to get into.

The author writes love letters to get over old loves, but what happens when they get mailed out - they were never supposed to see the light of day.

P.S. I Still Love you - Jenny Han : 4 stars 

This is the sequel to To All the Boys I've Loved Before. I started this one right away after finishing the other, so I was more used to the writing style. I was dissatisfied with the ending, but sort of expected it, because teenagers. I was still longing to know more about the characters by the end and wish the author had let us get to know them better.

After I Do

After I Do - Taylor Jenkins Reid : 4 stars

I would call this a love story. Probably not in the traditional sense, but I liked how real it was. Husband & Wife try to save their marriage in an unconventional way. They take a year off from each other. It's about taking a step back & finding yourself again & how you fit into the bigger picture.

Six Years - Harlan Coben : 4 stars

It had been a while since I had picked up a good mystery book. I enjoyed it. I thought the author took a few leaps that took some thinking and a few extra minutes to catch up with.

Jake lost the love of his life 6 years ago when she married another man, but after her husband dies, he shows up at the funeral to find not Natalie, his love. The rest of the book is unraveling what happened to Natalie, where she is, and why no one has seen her in 6 years.

Still Missing - Chevy Stevens : 3 stars

Loved the beginning, got creeped out in the middle, disliked the end. Annie is kidnapped, this is her story as told to her therapist, long after the initial trauma has ended.
The kidnapper is not who you think, and the reasons behind it are not what you want them to be.

This book is creepy, though not quite scary, and more than a little screwed up. But, it's different that any book I remember reading, which I enjoyed, but after every chapter starting with her saying hello to the therapist, I was ready for that to end.

So, TL ; DR : Read 'After I Do' & 'The Problem with Forever'. Leave the rest.

Any of these strike your fancy?
What was the best book you read in July?