*SECOND* New Job!

I know, I know: I keep apologizing for the lack of updates.  Things have been so crazy for me recently!  We finally got settled in our first student house and BAM!  There was the flood and the mold and we had to move (and yes: a good amount of our stuff in still in boxes…)  I started working at the toy store and I *loved* it!  I got to do so many great things: I got to play with sparklers and confetti cannons, I helped grandparents pick out their gifts for their grand-kid’s first birthdays, I talked to tweens and teens about anime and manga, I helped mentors pick out end of the year presents for their mentees…the list could go on and on.

Sadly, thanks to my auto-immune issues I discovered that I am not physically able to keep up with a 40 hour/week schedule of constantly walking/moving/lifting.  It got to the point  where I would sit down in my car at the end of my shift and I wanted to cry I hurt so badly and I would drive home, take an extra B-12, soak my feet with Epsom salt for an hour, and then fall asleep on the sofa.  So one Saturday towards the end of my shift I had to tell them that I couldn’t make the job work for me full-time, despite my best efforts (and I had really, really been trying to make it work).  They were super supportive and understanding and worked with me, which I honestly was not expecting at all.  So, I still work at the toy store (yay!), just not very often (boo!).  I now do most of my work at a church – which I am super excited about, too!  I have done church work for years (and love it!) so I am grateful that I have been given this opportunity.  I obviously won’t be talking about the specifics of my church job very often here for privacy reasons, but I might share resources/printables that I create.

Life has been good.  Crazy, and busy, and unexpected: but good.  ❤

Operation Zero Debt – The Beginning

One thing that I would like to start talking about on my blog is how we have been working to pay off all of our credit debt while Andrew is in seminary.  The goal is to have all the credit cards and our two cars paid off by the time he is done with school, which is only 2 years from now.  I am not going to lie: we are not in a good situation financially right now.  However, in the last year we have made such tremendous progress that I am pretty amazed when I think about it (and tip!  If you are currently paying debt off like we are take the time at least once a month to take a few moments and think about how much progress you have made financially!  Even if it has been a not-so-great month.  Find the positives!  It helps re-frame everything, I promise.).  

Since moving back to Texas a year ago we have built an emergency fund and paid off over $20,000.00 in debt.  We currently have $31,661.40 remaining in credit debt, and unfortunately this does not include things like our cars and my husband’s student loans.  I wish at this point that I had some advice about how to pay off debt.  We paid off the $20,000.00 last year by massively downsizing our lives, throwing all of our extra income at the credit debt, and selling everything we no longer used.  We took a Financial Peace course, which was great for getting us to start working together as a team.  

However, we decided that the Debt Avalanche works better for us than the Debt Snowball.  We do small things to maintain our motivation since the Debt Avalanche is slower going at first.  I print out a new debt thermometer for each debt we are currently paying off and we make a big deal every month about the progress we have made towards filling the thermometer.  When the thermometer is full we have a special dinner at home complete with a sparkling juice toast to being closer to being debt free!

We definitely still have progress to make.  We still struggle with actually sticking to the budget every month and buy small things we don’t need.  We go to restaurants entirely too much.  I am still trying to work things into our budget that I used to be in denial about: like Christmas and the fall back-to-school expenses.

This month we will be starting to work on paying off our third credit card, and we currently owe this one $5,621.00.  We should have this debt paid off by the end of this year.

Questions:  Are you on a budget and/or paying off debt?  If so what methods work for you?  What didn’t?  Did you do things like extreme couponing, work a second job, or set up online stores?  I would love to hear some success stories!  

I would also love to hear what you think would be helpful to talk about if you are currently paying off debt, like me.  A lot of blog posts I read seem to say the same things like, “Don’t buy coffee!  Take all your lunches to work!  Become an Uber Driver!  Open a Fiverr store!”  Which is great advice: the first time you read it.  I would love to get your input/stories!

New Job + Things I Love

I started a new job!  When we moved back to Texas I decided to take a bit of a sabbatical to help the kiddo and Andrew both adjust to their new school schedules, and I am very thankful that I was able to do that.  But when I saw that our favorite toy store was hiring, I stopped by and filled out an application the next day!  Everything went really well so I am currently in the first few weeks of training at my new job at the toy store!  So, posts here will probably be pretty scarce the next few weeks while we are all adjusting to my new work schedule.  I haven’t had a full-time job (officially, anyway) since before the kiddo was born.

My name on the work board!

My name on the work board!

❤❤Things I Love❤❤

Fredericksburg peaches | Geoflux | Bob’s Burgers | Purple nail polish | Spa days with the kiddo and my best friend | This Gund bear (we named ours Marshmallow) |  Having a Trader Joe’s in town.  We got really used to this store when we lived in California!| Manic Panic (I am thinking my hair might be turquoise pretty soon) | Loquat season | Lazy weekend visits at my dad’s house | Finding a coffee shop that has almond milk as an option | Chameleons!  I want one so bad, but I know it’s not practical right now…

Loot Crate Review – April, 2015

We signed up for Loot Crate recently, so the kiddo and I thought it would be fun to do a review of the April, 2015 Loot Crate which boasted the theme “Fantasy”.  Since we mostly signed up for our tween, I thought I would let her write the a review about her overall impression of Loot Crate, too.

“Overall Loot Crate has been excellent, and I have enjoyed every box!  This month (see photos) was “fantasy” themed.  Initially, I was very excited about the fantasy theme because I myself, love fantasy. I expected it to be like, faeries, elves, D&D: things like that. However, it was pretty much all “Game of Thrones” and I do not watch this show. They had one Harry Potter luggage tag, and that was almost  it in the way of not GOT.  Otherwise, Loot Crate has not let me down. They always pack quality items, and they are all nerd/geek related.  Loot Crate has always been something that I look forward to and when it gets to my house I am always excited to open it. Each month has a theme and they send items that are related to the theme. Every Loot Crate includes a catalog that shows you everything you got and what it is/how to use it  (this comes in handy a lot when you get something that seems confusing, or is taken apart and you have to put it together.)  In the catalog you can also see some pictures that were posted online by other Loot Crate recipients of them with what they got and most enjoyed last month (if you put a picture online don’t forget to use #lootcrate to get a chance to be in the catalog.)  The boxes always have awesome stuff, ranging from comic books to t-shirts to board games made out of the crate itself.  I think Loot Crate is worth the money, and that y’all should try it out.”

Review of April, 2015's Loot Crate - Fortpoppin.com

April, 2015’s Loot Crate, minus the t-shirt.

Laine’s notes about the April, 2015 Loot Crate box : this box was very Game of Thrones-centric, which isn’t our family’s geekery at all, so we were a bit disappointed with this month’s box.  The Princess Bride cards were cool, *but* we already have a deck because we participated in their Kickstarter (and of course, we had picked the same exact deck).  The only thing we were super excited about this month was the Harry Potter bag tag, which we could have snagged off Amazon.  There was also an inflatable crown (that doesn’t fit any of us) that we will add to our photo booth prop box, but again this is something we could have purchased ourselves.  Andrew got a kick out of the dragon and dice themed bow tie.

Review of April, 2015's Loot Crate - Fortpoppin.com

T-shirt in April, 2015’s Loot Crate

Past Loot Crates we have gotten have had a more diverse theme, and I had high hopes for a pretty diverse box with the theme of “fantasy”, but that being said we’ll still be getting May’s Loot Crate to see if this box was simply an anomaly.  Generally we have been really pleased with our boxes, I know that subscription boxes can’t make everyone 100% happy all the time, and based on our friends and family we are actually in the minority as far as Game of Thrones goes.

Interested in trying out Loot Crate yourself?  Sign up today!

Youth Group Dinner – Breakfast for Dinner

This week our family had signed up to provide the dinner for our church’s weekly youth group meeting.  I love to cook, but it throws me off when I can’t get specific information about an event (mainly the number of people I will be feeding), so I had been putting it off.  After much self-induced food planning stress, I finally decided that 15 youth and teachers would show up, picked a date to provide dinner, and went from there.

I decided on a breakfast casserole (made vegetarian) along with hash browns and a basic fruit salad.  Everyone loves breakfast for dinner, right?  I made 2 casseroles, and I more or less followed this recipe, with a few changes.  I used about 1/4 cup of water instead of milk in the eggs (that’s just my preference), I used vegetarian sausage, and I cooked the casseroles for 30 minutes instead of 15.  However, I will say there were a few spots where the dough was slightly under-cooked, so I might be updating this recipe a bit more: stay tuned!

Youth Group Dinner - Breakfast for Dinner via fortpoppin.com

Action shot of the breakfast casseroles!

List of Supplies & Cost

  • Biscuits (w/ coupons)                                     –   6.48
  • Vegetarian breakfast sausage                     –   3.99
  • 1 dozen eggs                                                      –   4.99
  • Shredded Cheese                                             –   3.79
  • 3 packages of hash browns                          –   5.97
  • 1 pound grapes                                                 –   2.99
  • 2 bananas                                                           –   1.50
  • 2 apples                                                               –   1.58
  • Two disposable trays                                     –   2.00

        Total Cost = $33.29 or $1.85/person

18 youth and teachers showed up for the meeting, so that put my total cost at $1.85/person, but  I am sure that you could lower the cost a little more if needed.  I know I spent a little bit more on the biscuits as well as the eggs.  You can also use casserole dishes you already own.  You may or may not decide to include a fruit salad: that is what I had the most left-overs of (but I thought that might be the case going in).  Definitely do not skimp out on the hash browns!  I calculated 2 hash browns per person and those were the first thing to go!  ^_^  There was about 1/2 tray of casserole left-over as well, and it re-heats well, which means we have breakfast and/or lunch figured out for us for the next few days as well now.

Overall, the youth group really enjoyed having breakfast for dinner, so I will definitely keep this in the rotation.

Vegetarian breakfast casserole - Fortpoppin.com

Vegetarian breakfast casserole!


Oh my goodness, the “joy” that can be student housing.  Things have seemed off at our house for about 3 months now in a way that is hard to actually describe.  Yesterday my husband received a call from the head of maintenance informing us that there are major plumbing/sewage issues and we needed to get out of the house.  Now.  So I spent the afternoon opening all the house windows to let some fresh air into house and then frantically started packing us up, pets included.  Oh, I also had to pack up Easter because the Easter bunny still needs to find KK this Sunday.

Crookshanks exploring our temporary housing.  - Fortpoppin.com

Crookshanks exploring our temporary housing.

Thankfully, the seminary has mission housing that they are letting us use for the moment so we have a nice, furnished space to vacate to.  Maintenance guesses that we will be here for about a week, and it looks like the seminary might let us move to new housing as well, so things are going to be a bit wonky for us for a little while.  But, talk about a curve ball!

There may not be posts to Fort Poppin for the next couple of weeks as we are figuring out our housing situation.  But I will be back as soon as I can!