Melissa Kaylene: February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Financial Goal Update - February

I thought it would be great to post on here periodically concerning my financial goals that I have discussed briefly a couple times in the past.
Last month I laid out a payoff plan for many of our bills and I tightened up our budget so that we can get our credit card paid off and continue to work towards my ultimate goal: A trip to Italy for my 30th birthday and financial Independence. (Read my January financial goals here.)
My first goal was to have my dental bill paid off in January - DONE!
Next goal was to have my husbands dental bill paid off in February. - it will be paid off March 10th! I did a little rearranging because.....
My April goal was to have our Expedition paid off....and I just sent my payoff amount in today! I'm SO happy and excited that we have paid it off early!
Things haven't been exactly how I wanted them to be, I've had to modify our budget here and there, but having a budget makes that so much easier to do. Starting out with the smaller bills in the beginning really has helped motivate me. Now we can really start chunking down our credit card bill as much as possible, and begin to contribute to our savings account for vehicle repairs, and emergencies. 
We did come short $330 towards my goals towards the credit card payments, but having the car paid off early will free up extra cash next month to hopefully pay extra.
Thanks for keeping me accountable!
Do you have any financial goals you are working towards? Any dream Italy vacations for you? I'd love to hear them!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

5 Tips to Plan a Successful Date Night In

5 Tips on Having a Successful Date Night In When You Have Young Children

  Never have time to go out? No babysitter? Too tired? Tight budget? If you answered yes to any other those questions, it doesn't mean you have to completely forgo 'date night'. In fact, my husband and I did this the other weekend. What did we do? We had a 'Date Night In'. Believe me, it’s not as grand as a night on the town, but it is the undivided attention and change in routine that makes it special.

Planning the perfect date night in really doesn’t take very much extra effort – so why don’t more people take advantage of date nights at home? The ideal perfect date night will vary from couple to couple, but prior to planning it both parties need to understand that it’s a date and should be treated like any other out of the house date. The phone rings? Don’t answer it. Your spouse is talking? Listen to them and don’t just nod your head.  Honestly the only thing that should distract you is if your kids unexpectedly wake up – and hopefully they won’t.

Here are some tips that you should incorporate to make your date night in a success:

1. Make the kids a "special" dinner. This doesn't have to be fancy! Just something kid friendly since you won't be eating dinner with them. My husband and I still sit with them at the table, and I usually make us some grown up appetizers so that we still have that family time together that we strive to have for dinner, while allowing the kids to have a fun meal.

2. Get the kids to bed at a decent hour, and the date begins! Decide ahead of time if you will both be preparing the meal, or if one will surprise the other with evening’s cuisine. Sometimes my husband and I like to browse through recipes and pick one together we have never tackled. Our last date night, my husband did the cooking and made two delicious bacon wrapped fillet minions - which are actually fairly inexpensive ($4-$6 a piece) compared to what you would pay in a restaurant. Whatever it is you decide to have for dinner, make sure it’s special and not something you eat frequently. Changing things up will make the evening more memorable.

3. Set the mood. Without too much effort, try and change the 'feel' of your house - so it doesn't 'feel' like your house! What makes those fabulous restaurants so....fabulous? (Besides the delicious cocktails and friendly servers?) The atmosphere. Lighting, music; it really does make a difference. Dim the lights, light some candles, break out your tablecloth, set the table with your nice china and turn on your favorite relaxing tunes. (I still adore Sinatra) Pour some wine while dinner is being made, or make a signature drink for the evening.

4. Dress up. Or at least get out of those sweats! Look like you are going on a date. Show your spouse that you care by taking the time to look presentable, and take date night in seriously. You will feel more confident about yourself too. Why not even take a couple of photos together like you would as if you were going out? Make your date at home as fun as you can!

5. Conversation.  Changing up your conversation has to be one of your priorities for the evening.  This has to be different from your routine topics. It may be hard not to be thinking about what just happened when you put the kids to bed or who did what at work today, but since you are having a date at home it’s imperative to get creative with your topics so your minds can venture away from the counters that need cleaning or the laundry that needs to go in the dryer. If you are really having a hard time thinking of things to talk about there are lots of conversation starter games that you can purchase – or seriously just Google conversation starters or dinner topic ideas if you need to. It may sound hokey - but just go with it and give it a shot.

We all love our children, but often times our marriage gets placed on the back burner while they are growing up, and there needs to be time and effort from both parties to continue to build a solid foundation. I encourage you to have a special date night with your spouse even if it is just one night out of the week that you have a dinner alone. Try it. You might like it. :)


Monday, February 25, 2013

My Weekend



This weekend my eldest daughter had the opportunity to go to a weekend cheer leading camp with her grandma, she came back today so pumped up and pretty much every response she had was in 'chant' form!

We decided to take the little ones out to breakfast on Saturday, and we are always up for trying new places. I had been wanting to try this little restaurant in downtown Mcminnville, called The Community Plate. Everything is focused locally, and it has a nostalgic rustic feel inside. The food was delicious, but it was their Carmel Macchiato that swept me off of my feet! $2.50 of love. I honestly was so impressed with the flavor.

Saturday evening I took Emma shopping with me for 'girl time', which is always a treat when you have a brother and sister to compete with. Noah stayed with daddy for boy time.

Sunday was a gorgeous day and I was lucky enough to stay home and not have a schedule. Those days are always the best days, and I cherish them! Today its back to the routine and I will be working night shift, but luckily only one shift this week. How was your weekend?


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Melissa Kaylene Bracelets

I've been busy creating a variety of new bracelets for my enjoyment and yours. If you have a minute stop by my Etsy shop and check out all that I have in stock. These bracelets represent my personal style, as they are simple, can be worn solo, or compliment one another as a collection. They are all in Earthy tones which match so many things.
~ Melissa
Melissa Kaylene
melissa kaylene



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Finding Contentment.

Back some years ago (and even a few months ago) I felt like being a mom just wasn't enough. I saw others who had pursued careers before children and had what I deemed as more "success" than I.

I don't even think I was conscious of this.

Maybe I hit my stress breaking point, maybe I've grown up more and grown into loving my "mom" job more.

Perhaps I quiet comparing. Stopped worrying about other peoples thoughts.

Whatever change has happened - I like it. There's a new peace inside of me.

I feel blessed in this hustle and bustle of raising kids. Life is not perfect; there are many ups and downs, but what I've realized is right now, I'm right where I'm meant to be.


I love her little face

The crazy clan at the ice cream parlor

enjoying the small things; play dates at the playground.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Samosas Recipe

Recipe how to make Samosas

I don't know about you, but I like to save recipes that I find in magazines with the intentions of trying them "someday". Well, I finally pulled out one of those recipes and tried it the other day, and it was delicious! This was found in the July 2009 issue of Woman's Day...yes, I've had it that long. I've adapted it just a little bit, and really, once you've tried the recipe once you can change things up a bit yourself. :)


1 box of refrigerated pie crust
1 cup diced potato
1/2 chopped onion
8 oz ground beef
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp minced garlic and ginger
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
1 cup frozen petite peas
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 large egg, slightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Heat oil in skillet on medium/high. Saute' potato and onion until tender. Add meat and cook. Drain any fat and return to heat.
3. Stir in spices, peas, chicken broth and cook until almost all liquid is gone and potatoes are cooked. Remove from heat and let mixture cool slightly. (very important to do!)
4. Unroll the pie crust and cut into wedges. Moisten the edges with water so they will stick together. Fill with mixture; leaving room to seal the edges.
5. Place them on a baking sheet and brush with the egg.
Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

The recipe says to serve with Chutney on the side, but really anything will do. I had chutney, my kids had ranch. :)
 Recipe how to make Samosas


Monday, February 18, 2013

A Story about Karma, and Paying it Forward


  The older I get, the more I have come to the realization that there are two kinds of people in this world, 1.) Givers and 2.) Takers. Seems pretty obvious, right? After years of helping many friends and family out, whether it be with loaning money, babysitting, paying for things, helping them move, even opening up my home for them to stay; it seems like I have taken my husband on a roller coaster ride of extra chaos because I am the kind of person that always wants to help and needs to feel needed.

   The only problem that comes with this, is eventually, at some point burnout happens; happened. When giving isn't enough anymore, when there is no reciprocal return. When I need help there is suddenly a very small number of people I can honestly rely on. Asking for help is not something I am good at. So over the past year I am the first person to admit I have become increasingly bitter about helping out, realizing that even though its wonderful to give, if it becomes to much of a burden or stress on my own family; its not worth it. My children and husband and our well being are number one. Mostly our stress is financial, like so many out there. We aren't struggling to meet day to day costs of living, we can pay all of our fixed bills and we always have food on the table. But we have managed part in poor spending habits, and part in helping others too much, to accrue a credit card balance that is much larger than should be. I wrote last month a little bit about our family's budget goals so we can pay off our debt as soon as financially possible and ultimately begin saving for my goal of Italy. (You can read about that HERE.)

    Long story short I have felt drained the past few months; felt like when I announced that I am trying to better myself and my family and I need moral support from friends and family...well, I felt abandoned. On a positive note it has helped my draw closer to my husband and children; our family unit.

  We had a wonderful relaxing weekend this last week with no schedules to worry about. Sunday afternoon we took the kids to the park and then headed over to Grocery Outlet to pick up a few things. I had already withdrawn the amount of cash from the bank that I wanted to spend there. But you know how shopping goes, especially with three children. The shopping cart had more things in it then my pocketbook said was allowed. So I stood there in an isle, adding prices up, and figuring out which items needed to be returned. If any of you have children, or have shopped with kids, you know how *relaxing* it can be ;). Anyways, my husband had about four items we decided to put back, and I headed towards the checkout.

I turned around to one of the checkers calling for me. She said,

"Excuse me ma'am, but someone just gave you this gift card for $25."

I was in shock.

   I didn't know whether to be grateful, happy, or embarrassed. All of the sudden I noticed others in the store glancing my way. I thanked the girl and accepted the gift. I didn't know if whoever purchased the gift card was still there watching. I was glad that I had an extra $25 to help out with our purchase, but there was a little part inside of me that was embarrassed, What did they think? Did they think that I can't pay for my own food? Did they feel sorry for my children? Accepting gifts is not something I do easily, and those negative thoughts crept into my head.

   But last night as I was laying in bed the day's activities were rolling through my brain, and a feeling of peace came into my mind.

   "Wouldn't you do the same if you were in the financial position to do so? It isn't about judging someone else, it isn't about feeling sorry for them. Its about paying it forward. It's Karma. It's life."

   The greatest gift we can do for another person is give them something that they need, knowing there is absolutely no way the favor can be returned from that person, no way they can thank you, no way you will get any reward or recognition.

   That small act of kindness that person gave me helped renew my faith. Knowing that there are others out there like me gives me the extra strength to keep plunging forward.

Whoever you are, thank you. Someday I will pay if forward for you.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Through a Child's Eyes.

preschool party
Their little smiles never cease to amaze me. The excitement and anticipation of Valentine's Day was so adorable. I was greeted at 0700 to giggles and joy, knowing that today they would be receiving many cards, and more importantly, exchanging candy. Noah got to join in on Emma's preschool party, while Anika had a card exchange in her big girl 4th grade class.

Life is beginning to have some normalcy again, after a couple month of chaos. I am looking forward to a low key week next week, and a three day weekend with the kids.

I just wanted to thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog. I love capturing life and writing about it, and I also enjoy writing about ideas and projects that I find interesting. If you aren't a regular reader yet, you can follow me via GFC, RSS Feed, and Facebook...I have links on the left sidebar. If Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram is your 'thang' you can stalk me @Melissakaylene.

But truly, I do appreciate you! <3


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to Plan a Girls Sleepover Slumber Party in 10 Easy Steps!

Sleepover Ideas

 Well, if you know me at all, you know I have planned a girls sleepover or two. As I was updating my blog the other night (finally) and looking around my site, I noticed that my Girl's Sleepover Craft Ideas was my most viewed post of all time, with quite a few inquiries. I thought that since this was such a popular topic that people wanted to learn more about, I would share with you the steps I go through when planning a slumber party at my house.

   Before I do I want to make sure the #1 thing you do is try to relax as much as possible, and have fun too! It's so easy to get stressed out with the extra kids and all of the chaos going on before and the day of the party. But don't worry. The kids aren't going to notice if you forget to do something or things don't go quite as planned. These girls will just have tons of fun playing, being silly, snacking, and staying up late!

#1. Set a date, Guest list, and times. Drop off and pick up times are a must! I have found parties usually go best if the kids come over right before dinner, and get picked up after a late breakfast (think brunch) the next day, so no one gets too tired and grumpy.

#2. Set a theme if you are going to. Totally NOT necessary, but if the sleepover is for a birthday party you probably already have a theme. A theme is also nice to have if you are the 'planning' type, as it does make is easier to keep activities and crafts that co-inside together.

#3. Invitations. You can buy these, make these, create online invites, or I have even been known to send a group text message out to the guest list. Make sure you have a date set to RSVP and also send a reminder out to all of the parents a couple days prior to the party.

#4. Meal Planning. I like to make a dinner that all of the girl's can get involved with (less work for me!) and something that allows the girls to make food that they will actually eat. Think a taco bar or English muffin pizzas. It keeps the girls busy, and you don't have to hear as many "I don't like this...." comments. Snack for nighttime are a must. Enlisting help for desserts is a great idea too. cupcakes and cookies are fun to make, but the #1 goodie fun would have to be ice cream sundaes. Again, the girls get to create their own! Have a couple flavors of ice cream, syrups, jams, and an assortment of chopped up candies for them to decorate! Breakfast generally goes like this at our house: early birds get cereal to tide them over, then I get up and make a massive amount of pancakes and bacon with orange juice and milk.

#5. Craft PlanningHere's a list of some of my top crafts I've made with the girls. Whatever you decide, making something that the girls will get to take home as a souvenir to remember the party.


#6. Plan any other activities that will be going on - mani pedis? Movie Marathon? Have at least an idea of what you will do to entertain them. Chances are they will come up with ideas of their own, but just in case, have a back up plan.

#7. Sleeping arrangements. Even when I remind parents to bring a sleeping bag for their child, someone forgets. Make sure you have lots of blankets and pillows available. Chances are even if you think the girls are going to sleep in a certain area, you will have them sprawled out in various areas!

#8. Have a designated storage spot for all of their belongings. Believe me, its so hard the next morning when all the parents are arriving to try and find socks, toothbrushes, pillows, etc. If you can, have the girls collect all of their stuff while you make breakfast - then you can double check while they eat.

#9. Remember to take lots of pictures, and a group photo. You can use these to print out thank you cards for the girls; they will be thrilled to open up their cards!

#10. As I said earlier, have fun and go with the flow! Sleepovers are one of the only times when I am the "cool" mom...and believe me, if you host a slumber party, its a title well earned!

If you are looking for even more ideas, I've found this book to be amazing! It's got over 100 ideas to inspire you - it's definitely worth a look!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Simple Cinnamon Roll Fun.

 Last weekend Anika was lucky and got to have a sleepover. When she gets to go do things (like big girls should) I try and do a little something with Emma and Noah, so they don't always feel left out.
I ran to the store after dropping Anika off to grab a couple things for dinner, and I had an idea. I saw some refrigerated dough and all of the sudden Cinnamon Rolls came to my mind.
It turned out great. It was quick and easy with the dough all ready for us. The kids got to help roll out the dough, then they got to help rub butter on, sprinkle brown sugar, nuts, raisins, and finally the cinnamon. Their big eyes lit up when they watched me roll it all up and slice it into pieces to bake.
We whipped up some cream cheese frosting and viola!
Simple, fun dessert and the kiddos learned something new.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Saying Goodbyes.

Last week we said goodbye to my dad and his wife. They stopped by for one last visit before their move to southern Oregon; a four hour drive from us. If you have been following along you might remember that Grandpa Howern passed away a month and a half ago (read about it here.) Well, shortly after my dad let the ball drop and told us that he would be moving to the same town where his inlaws lived.
He says he will keep in touch and we will have a place to stay when we go down, and that they intend on coming up for birthday's and events and such. I really want to believe it to be true, but I am having a hard time with it. My dad can no longer drive due to a condition that he has, so that leaves it all up to April, his wife; and her health isn't superior either.
They have good intentions, but my heart is heavy with sorrow for my children. They love their papa and nana so much, and they do not understand why they are moving away. The little ones can't comprehend it as much as Anika, but they do realize that they won't be seeing them as often.
Anika is having a rough time. She doesn't talk about it much, but she has been far more emotional lately and all I can do is try to be there for her. She understands that they won't be there for her soccer games this spring, or school functions.
I know everything happens for a reason, yet I'm not quite sure yet if I agree with their reasoning's for leaving. I myself cannot comprehend why anyone would want to be out of their kids and grand kids daily lives unless it was something they had to do (for work, etc.)
Kids grow up so fast. Change so much.
Now more than ever I feel like I have to be there for them. I don't want to miss a field trip, school function, sports game. They need me. As much as I wish there were others to help Wayne and I fill in gaps with raising our children; there's not.
I don't understand it.
I guess I have to accept the things I can't change, and move on.
I live and breathe for and because of my children. Things get rough, raising them isn't easy, but it's very very rewarding.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Instagram Love Lately

 I love Instagram! Probably because its just so stinkin easy to share pictures with my friends; and if you know me, you know how I love to take photos!  
follow me @ melissakaylene, and I'd love to check out your pictures too. :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Princess Tea Party Birthday Ideas

princess tea party treat ideas

Hello everyone! Happy February! This month is going to fly by super fast...considering its the 7th of the month before I even get around to blogging! I have lots of stuff going on right now, and I have some possible personal life decisions coming up over the next week, and I will have to sit down and figure out all of the pros and cons of the situation to see which path to choose. I'll talk more about it later. :)

Right now I wanted to show you some highlights from Emma's 5th Birthday Party last month. She had a Princess Tea Party theme, and we made some tea party snacks together and a few simple decorations that the girls absolutely loved.

We created red velvet cupcakes, complete with pink frosting and pearls and flowers on top! The flowers were created by rolling out gum drops and gummy rings! The girls really loved helping make those. 

tea party cupcakes
tea party cupcakes

Next, we made tea sandwiches, I bought a loaf of white, and a loaf of wheat bread, then used my flower shaped cookie cutter, and of all things a shot glass to cut the middles out of each flower! I then swapped the colors so the bread was flip flopped! We smothered them with cream cheese and strawberry preserves.

tea party ideas
tea party ideas
tea party ideas

We also made little baby skewer with meat, cheese and olives. The kids devoured them instantaneously (OK, the adults did their fair share too!)

tea party ideas

I don't have a good photo, but I also made a fruit platter with raspberries, cantaloupe and pineapple, and using a heart shaped cookie cutter  we cut out some very special heart shaped pineapple pieces. We opted for apple juice instead of tea, and we have a heart shaped ice cube tray, and I added raspberries to the water before it was frozen. Lastly over there in the right side of the photo are pickle wraps. I never thought anyone would like them until a friend of mine made them once.... so simple, diabetic friendly.... all it is, lunch meat, spread cream cheese on it, then placed a long sliced pickle in the middle and wrap them up. It really is good!

tea party ideas

I didn't have the best quality of photos because my camera screen broke, so for right now we are down to the smart phone! If you want to take a peek of photos from the rest of the party HERE.