3 Cheap or Free Date Nights

Anyone else on a budget in 2024? I put myself on a budget to help work towards some big financial goals this year. These are my favorite cheap or free date nights to have with my husband.

Indoor Rock Climbing

We tend to be a more active couple and are looking for things to do around activities. We both enjoy indoor rock climbing. Lucky for us, there is a facility nearby. Bonus that they regularly run Groupon deals. This is a great activity to have other friends/couples join you as well.

Our kids also enjoy climbing and regularly ask to go. An additional bonus, you work your arms, shoulders, and back during climbing.

If harnesses aren’t your thing, you could try bouldering as an option. It’s similar but the walls are built differently. Plus, the walls don’t go as high. There are large mats below to catch you as well. Check it out as an option.

Hiking

We like to hike year-round and regularly visit state parks. One of my favorite hikes was right before Covid shut the world down in 2020. We ventured to a new to us park, tried a hard trail, and followed it up with a lunch in my college town.

Literally, a week later we were in lockdown and the world changed. Getting out and hiking was one of our go-to activities during Covid as well. Being outside and enjoying nature was good for all of us.

Getting to sit here and listen to the water over the rocks is soothing. There are several videos on my phone of this for those times I need to reset.

If you’re wanting to hike regularly, I encourage you to look into some hiking boots. You can find some for $80-$100. Also, look into a good pack you can take with you. Do you need them for every hike? No, but definitely for hikes that could be over an hour.

Minor League Sports

Indianapolis is home to minor league baseball, hockey, and soccer teams. We are getting an indoor football team as well in 2025. Tickets are reasonable for a date night and provide great entertainment.

We will hit 1-2 games each season. Look for promotional nights or additional specials to get the most for your money.

The crowds are great. Lots of engagement and giveaways. How can I ride on the back of the Zamboni? It’s on my bucket list.

Bonus Idea

My husband and I play Pokemon Go together. I started in 2018 as a way to get Porter and I outside, staying active, and something free. As a mom, I like that you can’t message “friends” in app. We have explored parks and interesting parts of the city by participating in challenges in the game. While you do need to engage with the app, they do encourage a lot of walking.

My son learned math and negotiation from playing. It’s been nice to have this as something the four of us all know about.

Now, my husband and I play together. We chat strategy and make time to get out during challenges. It’s cute and fun, plus free.


Do you have any cheap or free date nights you enjoy?

Favorite Baby Quilts Created in 2023

I need more babies in my life.  The snuggles, coos, and adorable smiles melt my heart.  Then, I remember that my kids are both functional without me.  Basically, functional.  They still need the parents for a few things, like car rides.

For a while, babies were happening all the time and I would keep a stash of baby quilts on hand at all times.  Now in my 40’s that has slowed down.  I miss it.

Baby quilts are still my favorite size to make.  They are fast and easy to store.  Plus, they make great gifts.

Let’s take a look at my favorite baby quilts from 2023:

Jade and Pink Irish Chain

One of my favorite activities is to dig around in my stash and put together color ideas.  I grabbed a pink solid and this jade print from Art Gallery.  Before I decided to make a quilt, I did find the backing fabric.  A lovely floral the coordinates so well.

The dark pink binding is was an Instagram favorite.   It works so well with this color combination.

Porter helped with the photography of this quilt.  He was my measurer, but his arms weren’t quite long enough.

boy holding the bottom of a quilt

The Irish Chain is great for scraps and I adore a two-color option for a baby quilt.  Look for more of these in 2024.

 

All Scrap Improv Gender Neutral Quilt 

The Irish Chain can be quickly made.  A scrappy improv quilt takes more time.  You will need many scraps to balance out the colors if you’re going for a color palette like I did.  I recommend pulling more than what you will use.

a pile of scraps

I paired the prints with gray, white on white, and low-volume scraps to create the blocks.  I started the blocks in strips and then cut into strips.  The strips were then sewn together.  Some were long, some short, it really depended on the fabric pairing.

When piecing them together it’s best to lay out a number at a time.  This will allow you to visually see the balance of the colors.  Scrappy doesn’t have to mean haphazard, you can be intentional.

Having balance makes the quilt more appealing.  I did have to dig back into my scraps and stash to round out the quilt top’s balance.  I had too many oranges at first.

a pile of scraps

The quilting is just straight lines, but creating squares and rectangles along the way.  I did one show in 2023 and took my machine with me to work on the quilt.

sewing machine with quilt

Here is the finished quilt.

The backing was large scraps I found during my pulls.  I love being able to great a fully scrappy quilt.

pieced back of a quilt

The quilt is ready for a new home.  Anyone having a baby in 2024?

If you are looking for other handmade gifts, head over to my Etsy shop.

Word of the Year | 2023 | Follow Up

lake in the winter

After sharing my word of the year for 2023 I’ve been doing more thinking.  I’ve been jotting down notes and things to look at.  While on a walk the other day it hit me that my Amazon subscription is coming due.  Sure enough, it renews in February.  Will I renew it?

Amazon

Going back over my last few months of credit card statements, it’s full of Amazon purchases and returns.  Looking over my wish lists I started asking if this item will bring me any added value or joy?  If not it’s okay to stay there for now.

I use my credit card instead of my debit card for the sheer fact that returns can take days to process.  Also, using my credit card was just easier.  Sometimes that doesn’t feel like real money until you see the total for the month.

My Target purchases link to my debit card, and those are felt immediately.  Amazon is not.

So, do I switch to my debit card?  Do I cancel Amazon?

No and Yes.

Yes, it’s time to cancel Amazon.  They changed the Amazon Music platform and it’s no longer enjoyable for me.  Most of the additional things with a Prime Membership are not something I want to use.  Plus, it’s just too easy to swipe and order.

I have Target and their shopping and brands have expanded over the last couple of years.  Plus, I like their customer service so much better.

Will I still shop on Amazon…likely for some things, but I can pay to ship when necessary.

With Amazon out…what is in?

Libby – the app that connects to my library for audiobooks

Pinterest – it’s nice to help plan and dream.

Pinterest for me is about ideas, recipes, and design.  It’s stimulating but doesn’t create FOMO.  Everything on there is curated, hell I curate my pins on there.  Like Instagram, we only see the positive.  This platform feels differently for me.  It’s a search engine, not social media.

The Calendar

Having a calendar printed out for accountability has helped.  I can see how many days I’ve gone not purchasing anything that isn’t essential.  I’m working to define what exactly is essential still.

Porter is doing soccer this spring and it’s his only sport.  Some could argue it’s not essential, but in this house it is.  He needs to be a part of an activity.

Most days have been easy to not spend anything.  The weekends are really hard.  It’s important to remind myself why I started this challenge, to break habits.  So, even if I do spend, it’s okay.  The goal is to get me to pause and think about it.  It’s working.

I do still want to live my life and have fun.  Maybe I don’t spend $40 for an activity.  Instead, I opt for something cheaper.

This is going to take some habit changes.

 

Word of the Year | 2023 | Content

We are a few days into 2023 and I’ve put my updated goals into place.   I tend to have a focus for the year, not a resolution or a set goal.

For 2022 I focused on growing my savings and having a comfortable emergency savings account if needed.  That was achieved.  As I turned my focus to 2023 I started thinking about how can I build upon what I just worked on.

My word for 2023 is Content.  Not making more content, but being happy with where I am and what I have.

Let me go back a couple of years and give some backstory.

Reprioritize

In 2018 I got divorced and started really digging into my finances.  Well, I had to in order to make everything work.   I realized that money was tight but things were manageable.  It was challenging to be in my mid 30’s and have $20 a week to spend on extras.

That felt like my college budget and it was not fun then.  Watching my friends that were thriving, live their best lives sucked most days.  I had some serious FOMO and was jealous.

Getting divorced makes you reprioritize things and assess what is more important.  I spent most of 2019 figuring out if something was truly important, a want, a need, or just a trend I wanted to be a part of.  Doing the work is no fun when you’re in the moment, but is gratifying later.

Early 2020 hits and we start hearing about Covid happening on the other side of the globe.  As it hit the US and closed us down, I was actually ready.  My work was already remote, using video platforms to connect with customers, and I had already prioritized what I really needed in my budget.

While others were struggling to adjust during that time, not much changed for me except for the kids being home all the time.  Chick (my Plott Hound) and I were no longer ladies of leisure during the day.  We snuggled while I worked.  There was constant noise and disruptions.  I digress.

New Beginnings

I decided it was time to sell my house and start fresh.  It sold quickly and left me in a good spot financially.  I purchased my current home later that year while interest rates were LOW.  The house has everything we had on our wishlist:

  • Cul de sac
  • Granite countertops
  • Extra bedrooms
  • Big backyard

We have been in this house for over 2 years and I’m still in love with it.  There are some changes I want to work on this year, but they are aligned with my goals.

I took a new role with a startup a few months after moving.  The decision to leave the job I had grown so much with was challenging.  Looking back, it was the correct career move for me.

This new job allowed me to focus on savings in 2022.

New job, new house, and a blended family…things are so much different from where they were in 2018.

Change of Habits

With all of these changes, it’s encouraged me to pause and look at my habits.  This started in 2016 when I gave myself a $100 Fabric Budget for the entire year.  Since then I’m not as in a hurry to buy fabric and try to utilize what is in my stash.  I love looking at all the new lines that come out and what trends are happening.  Temptations get the best of me sometimes, but for the most part, my habits haven’t changed much after that exercise.

When I only had $20 per week to spend, it really made me look at what I could/should spend my money on.  As I noted above this was hard and made me envious of what others were doing.  However, it helped me realize they were not in my situation.  To help I curated my social media to focus on things that brought me joy and removed those that fueled any envy.

Towards the end of 2022, it became apparent that impulse buys were becoming a challenge.  Since I can spend more than $20 per week now, I have been.  But why?

Has that instant gratification been worth it?

If I’m being honest…NOPE.

Goal for 2023 – Content

I can point to the moment in 2022 that set the course to work on being content in 2023.  My husband and I both had the day off work.  I had been pining over a blacked-out Range Rover.   We went to test drive one and learn more.  LOVED the car, but hated the financial side of it.  It really put some numbers into perspective.

  • Is my Kia Forte sexy and fun to drive?  No.
  • Does it have a ton of features?  No.
  • Is it paid off and has affordable maintenance?  Yes

A Range Rover or a new car has been realistically moved into my LONG term goals.  I can still appreciate what I enjoy about this car and not have the price tag hanging over me.

It’s time to look at what I already have.  Enjoy it and try to not just add to it.  I truly want to enjoy my home, my family, and not feel the pressure to keep getting more.  It’s not a healthy place for me.

It’s hard when we have so many apps easily on our phones.  With just a swipe you’ve placed an order and items can be here within hours.

Actions

Here are my actionable items to encourage me to be content with what I have:

  • Track my spending.  I’m looking at days I didn’t spend money on non-essentials
  • Before buying, check what options I may have other options here at home (looking at you fabric stash)
  • Add items to my cart and wait 24-48 hours before completing checkout
  • Not reading sale emails from companies
  • Clean out my social media to those that inspire me (I try to keep this really curated)

Over the next few months, I plan to read more, get in more exercise, play in my studio, and enjoy time with my family.  This puts the focus on what I have, where I am, and who I am instead of what could be.

Let’s circle back to who I am.  As I was listening to The Financial Diet’s video on Being Radically Content, the speaker mentioned this.

Go and listen to this episode.  Pay careful attention around the 12:33 mark.  Chelsea notes that she has accepted no one can have it all and that the aspirational lifestyle is fake.  You have to pick.

Jamie’s response really hit home.

My actions are for me.  I’m sharing to help keep me accountable and tell my story.  There is no shame if you and I are not on the same path.

 

Favorite Indy Candle Makers

With craft shows and businesses hosting events I have found some wonderful candle companies local to Indy.  I have found three locally made candles that you have to try.  We enjoy candles at this house.

These live in my home or have been given as gifts.  Rave reviews all around.


Night Lights Company

bellini jar candle from night lights company
Image used with permission

Night Lights Company offers hand-poured candles designed with luxury in mind.  The display she had at a local show was perfect for experiencing the smells of her candles.  Chelsea covers her candles with a glass lid.  It was not overwhelming when you lift the lid and you can have a pleasant smelling experience.

If you’re unsure which scent to select, a Discovery Scent collection is offered.  Four 2-ounce samples are included in the set.  If you’re opting for the gift set they can select their favorite scent and get a full-sized candle at no extra cost.  This is a wonderfully innovative idea if you’re unsure.

I’m excited about the Holiday/Winter collection being back in stock so I can enjoy the Merry & Bright.  The scent captures my favorite smells from winter.  Honestly, I’ve kept the candle and frequently get wafts of my favorite scent even with just a tiny bit of wax in the jar.

Friends and family will probably get one of these in their stockings this year.

Company Info

Website:  Night Lights Company 

Woman-Owned

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nightlightscompany/


Sage & Bloom

black jar candle in a pepper scent from sage & Bloom
Image used with permission

During an event at the nearby Indy Beauty Room, they had sample candles from Sage & Bloom.  I brought home my Peony & Nectarine candle and instantly fell in love with the scent.  Then, I started following them on Instagram.  The aesthetic and overall look was lovely.  I was hooked on this brand.

They have introduced an Artisan Candle Collection that includes a colorful floral wrap.  I’m going to be adding one to my candle collection very soon.

After our wedding, we wanted a gift for those that were a part of our day.  We had not found the perfect thing for our parents during our honeymoon.  However, I did find a concrete Bigfoot my dad would have enjoyed.

I reached out about making custom labels.  For my maid of honor, it was named Chokehold & Veil.  That’s another story.  For our parents, Love & Support.  They got the Pink Pepper & Vetiver scent pictured above.  Everyone has raved about this candle and loves it.

Company Info

Website:  Sage & Bloom

Family – Owned

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/sageandbloomco/


MDK Handcrafted

Image used with permission

This exact candle is currently in my bathroom and I love the scent.  It’s fresh and fruity.  I met this brand, MDK Handcrafted, at one of the few vendor shows I’ve been to recently.  Did you know they just launched their candles this year?

They offer a variety of bath products and I also bought a sugar scrub.  The summer is coming, my skin needs some love.  If your skin needs some love, be sure to check out their line of bath products.  They use simple, natural ingredients in their products.

What truly drew me to this company was their packaging.  The color palette, logo and their labeling was amazing.  I even asked about it, that’s how much I loved it.  Those little details always draw me in.  Then, I learned this is a husband and wife team working together to build a business.

Company Info

Website:  MDK Handcrafted

Family – Owned

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/mdkhandcrafted/


If you purchase any of these products, please come back and let me know.

3 Things I’m Enjoying This Week 4.22

Happy Earth Day Sunshines.  Are you thinking about your impact today?  I am reflecting on how my hobby can full consumerism and waste.  However, it does have to be with the right resources and knowledge.

Scrap Quilts

Saving your scrap fabric and using those scraps for an upcoming project can give new life to your fabric.  The key to scraps is storage.  There is no right or wrong way to store your scraps.  Find the method that works the best for you and encourages you to use scraps.

If you don’t want to keep your scraps, you can always sell them.  Lots of quilters shop #thegreatfabricdestash on Instagram.

I make a number of scrap quilts so I keep scraps organized by size so I can quickly make pulls and sort fabric choices.  If I’m ever stuck I check my Pinterest board for ideas.

Look for a number of new scrap quilts coming soon.

Spring Weather

It finally feels like spring in Indianapolis.  We did have freak snow on Monday, but I hope that is all past us know.  Time to spend as many hours as possible outside.

They are yelling at us from the top

Family Time

We spent time with our families this weekend and it was amazing.  It was a great reset after so long months at work and busy schedules that are coming our way.  Hello, baseball and soccer mom duty.

There was a game of Uno that lasted at least 45 minutes with no winner.  I got to thinking about the games I played as a kid.  Tetris, Uno, and Yahtzee were my main go-to games.  No wonder I’m a Project Manager.

In Tetris, you have to make everything fit especially as the game speeds up.  With Uno, you have to be focused on what’s happening in the game so you know how your play will impact the next person.  Yahtzee is all strategy on what’s your best bet for that hand.  Thanks Mom & Dad.

I’m looking forward to more family time with the nice weather and being outside.  It is the best reset button.