Thursday, May 3, 2018

Our Renovation Part 1

 I've been putting off finishing this series of posts because there is always a project that we are working on. I'm realizing that there is always going to be ANOTHER project and I want to make sure I document this season.

 Our process has moved a bit slower than some because we have done a majority of the work ourselves. We also are paying cash as we go! When we purchased this home we new that we would pay cash for every part of the renovation. The only debt we have is our home loan and we made an agreement early in our marriage that by God's grace and a lot of hard work we would never take out a loan for anything else. That commitment has been a huge blessing in our marriage!


As we slowly finish up the final details around our house I am attempting to compile all of our cell phone pictures that we have taken. 
I'm going to start with one my favorite parts of this project........the P O O L! 
When we bought the house we knew the liner was old and would need to be replaced soon. However, we were really hoping to not have to replace it this year. Two weeks after we purchased the home we stopped by to drop off some building supplies and we went out back to check on the pool. The former owner had been trying to clear up the water for us and we wanted to test it. 
The first red flag was that the water level was considerably lower.... To make a long story short, there was a big tear in the bottom of the shallow end.
We had to try and keep the hole covered over the winter so that rain water wouldn't keep seeping through. One of the pics below is of me getting ready to help Daniel attempt to temporarily seal a rip in the liner. It was a miserable cold night of slipping a sliding in that nasty pool. :) 




We contacted several pool companies to see how much a replacement liner would be. $$$$ #ouch
Pool companies only redo pools in the warmer weather because the liner stretches better when it is hot outside so, that gave us a couple of months to shop around for the best deal. 
Also, thanks to the budgeting habits we have developed from Dave Ramsey we were able to set aside enough to get the pool up and running this year! 






Of course like just about any project you do there are unexpected things that come up. :)
There was a considerable amount of sand work that had to be redone and we had to work on drainage in our courtyard to prevent future liner issues. Daniel needed assistance with that project so last Saturday and part of Sunday was spent putting together a drainage system. I felt super accomplished. :P  

We are still working on landscaping but here are the most recent pics of our pool area!






Thursday, February 8, 2018

Beans And Rice Or Rice And Beans?


My husband Daniel has traveled to many different countries over the last decade doing various kinds of mission work. Of all his travels one of his favorites was visiting Nicaragua. After a confusing conversation with a waiter at a local restaurant, he finally learned that the waiter wasn't teasing when he asked, "Do you want rice and beans or beans and rice!?" Turns out, beans & rice are served mixed together and rice & beans are served separately. Not confusing at all, right? 😂

That timeless duo are two of the main foods people joke about when you bring up eating frugally. While I personally could eat them everyday there are many other $$$ saving meals that you can choose from.

There is an endless supply of bloggers and recipes out there to help inspire you with meal planning on a budget so I will only be sharing one "recipe" today.  I often hear that you can't eat healthy and still be frugal. It can be hard but it is definitely doable! 
Also, I grew up cooking and baking for a large family so I often prefer simplicity over complicated meal planning! Less time in the kitchen is a huge plus for busy mamas! 

Below are some tips that we've learned a long the way that help you stay on track with your grocery budget.....


1.) Use C A S H to grocery shop! You are more likely to put back items that are impractical if you are handing over your hard-earned cash. Set a reasonable amount for your budget and stick to it!

2.) When you prepare a meal, fix a serving and immediately pack away the extras for the next meal. You won't be tempted to over-eat and you will be getting a jumpstart on future meals. 

3.) Restaurants need to be a treat and a rare occurrence when you are working towards financial goals. Daniel and I saved eating out for special occasions and if we had to eat out we often shared meals.  Example, we love Chipotle bowls so we get one and add all of the toppings so that it makes it enough food to share! It is a healthy, delicious and frugal date night option!

4.) Use what you have in your freezer and pantry! This a first world prob but we often are guilty of buying items that we let go bad or just sit on the shelf. It may not be a Pinterest worthy spread but you will be proud as you cut down on waste and use your creativity to throw a meal together. 

5.) Cut back on the meat. You don't have to have it every day.  Yep, this is a tough one for a lot of people but it is true. Not only will it cut your budget big time but there are also a lot of health benefits to cutting back on meat. 
However, learn to cook with meat in a frugal fashion. You will be surprised how far 1 chicken breast can go...Get creative! When I cook a pound of ground beef, turkey or buffalo I always divide it and put the extras up for future meals. 

6.) Make your treats and favorite drinks at home. Not only will you have fun learning something new but you will save countless $$$$. I heard a young adult say that she had never actually made her own coffee because she liked for someone else to do it for her. That attitude is what is keeping us from getting ahead in our finances!

7.) Shop where your money goes the furthest. Aldi is my number one place to shop. Find where you can stretch your cash and learn to build your meal planning around what they sell. 

8.) Meal plan. Don't wander aimlessly through the grocery store. Make a quick list of the items you want to have on hand and only buy those items. If there are certain food items you like to stock up on, watch for sales but try to avoid impulse buying! 


Clean Out Yo Pantry Chili 
Black Beans
Pinto Beans
Lentils 
Corn 
Diced Tomatoes
Taco Seasoning 
Ground Beef (optional!) 
Tomato Sauce
Serve over rice
There are no amounts listed on purpose. You can't really mess this up! 

This is a fun meal to do if you are having company. 
Have friends bring a topping (sour cream, shredded cheese and/or tortilla chips.) You can still be social while budgeting! Simple gatherings in your home are just as much fun (if not more fun) than going out! 
A good rule of thumb with hospitality is that you are trying to bless NOT impress! 

Get creative and have fun! 
My husband and I both enjoy working in the kitchen and we have had a blast coming up with simple and cheap ways to feed our little crew. 

XOXO

-mckenzie gentry

Monday, January 15, 2018

Just $45 In His Pocket

This blog has been quiet for quite a while now and I feel the need to "blow the dust off" and write again.
Beginning a post is always the hardest part for me...wondering where to even start!

There have been so many times lately that I've been told that I need to be documenting these oh-so-crazy days. I grew up blogging and I treasure those old posts, but as a busy mom I really struggle trying to find the time (and the Q U I E T) to sit, gather my jumbled thoughts and put them down in an organized way.

 My man is in Atlanta today for a meeting so I am going to take advantage of this quiet Monday to start my next blog series.
Here goes...

A topic that I have been discussing a lot with my peers is FINANCES. Yep, I'm weird and I get really nerdy when it comes to budgeting, saving, learning to live on less and anything Dave Ramsey. It's 2018, a new year and one of my personal goals is to continue to learn to "live like no one else".

Growing up my parents really encouraged me to be wise with my money. They taught me the importance of living frugally so that I could give generously.
As a Christian I believe that we should strive extra hard in this area. Time and time again I have observed  that you cannot give generously of your time or resources to others if you are not financially free.
Of course, I understand that we live in a broken world and poverty is a part of that...however, so many people live in bondage because of poor choices and a lack of discipline.

I want to share our journey (so far) towards financial freedom in hopes that it encourages even just 1 person to start making intentional decisions to be financially free! IT IS POSSIBLE!
We are still learning so much from people who are further in this journey and we are so grateful for the ones that have stopped along the way to encourage us!

I'll never forget a phone conversation I had with Daniel before our wedding.
It was a chaotic afternoon just a couple weeks before the big day and my phone rang. Daniel said that he had something he needed to tell me. He started the conversation by asking if I wanted the good news or the bad news first. :) I told him I needed some good news...
He went on to tell me that he was debt free! I was pretty sure he didn't have a lot of debt but it was good to hear that after graduating with his bachelors from a private, Christian college ($$$$$) he did not have any debt. Daniel applied for scholarships and worked his way through college. #shamelessplugforbae
Then came the bad news... he told me that his savings consisted of about $45 in his wallet.
I sat there and tried to make words come out of my mouth.

Before I go any further, you need to know that I am a huge planner, have a type A personality and up to that point, always had a pretty good emergency fund.
When words finally did come I told him that I needed to go process that information and then I would call him back. My mind was whirling....I had turned down a full-time position when I got engaged in preparation for moving to North, GA. I did not have a job lined up there and Daniel's job didn't guarantee 40hrs a week.
Y'all, I was worried. Really worried...I mean do you even know how much I can eat!? :)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing how we as a couple manged to buy groceries in those early days, places we've lived to save on rent, side-jobs that we've done that have enabled us to make large purchases with cash in our hand, how we have avoided debt, how we began to save $1000 a month on a low-income budget, creative ways to continue to go on dates even when you are broke and lastly our home renovation project!
 I want to be transparent about the struggles and the successes all the while praying that God uses it to encourage you!


Here's an oldie from back when we was skinny and broke... :)


Please comment or message me some of the ways you are hoping to become financially free this year. I really would love to hear from you!


 -mckenzie






Friday, June 30, 2017

Dear Elizabeth

Happy 1st Birthday, baby girl!
What a wonderful year it has been. You have been a joy since day one and it is hard to remember what life was like before you were born.

I've decided to write you a letter each year for your birthday, print it out and keep it in a book for you to read when you are grown. I want you to know how much you are loved and treasured by your daddy and me.


You adore dogs, avocados, walks, swimming, and playing peek-a-boo with daddy.
You have an adventurous side (you get that from your daddy) and if I'm honest, it terrifies me sometimes . ;) You love people and you never meet a stranger.

I've been thinking a lot about your future today. As I see your little personality emerging, it gives me a glimpse of the person you will become.

Elizabeth, I hope and pray that you love and serve Jesus with everything you are. In a world that is becoming less tolerant of the true believer, I pray that you will boldly serve the Lord and seek Him with your whole heart.


I love that you are so trusting and that you genuinely love people. Right now you are sheltered from evil, cruelty and meanness...you only see good. One day when I can no longer shield you from those things, I hope that you will still choose to look for the good in people.
May you be confident in the person Jesus has made you to be and never feel the need to hurt someone else in order to feel better about yourself.
I pray you will always be kind.



I love how you wake up every morning with a smile on your face. You have been happy and content since day one! Your little smile has already blessed so many.
I pray you will grow up to love life and choose joy.





Elizabeth, you have a very determined spirit. I pray that your daddy and I are wise and guide you well these next few years. I hope we can help you channel your determination in a godly direction. May you accomplish all that Jesus created you to do and do it with excellence.


 We are and will continue to be imperfect parents but I hope you realize that from an early age. We are on this journey with you and we too are learning as we go.




Happy Birthday, sweet Lizzie girl!
I am excited about your next year of life and I'm glad I get to be with you every step of the way.

Love,
Mama


Thursday, March 16, 2017

time/minimalism/simplicity



I couldn't think of a title for this post because I wasn't really sure what I was going to write about. I "blogged" a lot during my teen years (Click Here)  and some of my favorite post to go back and read are the ones where I simply rambled. As a twenty-three-year-old mama it is fun to read the thoughts of my fifteen year-old, ambitious, slightly opinionated self. :) :)

Pregnancy is going well so far...almost half-way!!! Whaaaattt???!!!! I can't believe how fast it is flying by.

With the craziness of Daniel's work schedule, growing side businesses, working on our land, preparing for baby # 2, etc. we have had to make some changes.
Productivity, organization, and creativity are very important to Daniel and I and we recently discussed how we could do better in those areas. For me I find that I do better in almost every area when I feel like my life is in order. Obviously, much of life is unexpected and perfect order is not going to be attained all the time. I'm sure when I have a newborn and a thirteen month old my home will not be stellar 24-7. :) However, the more mama's I talk to, the more minimalist writings I read, the more I blunder through this homemaking thing,  I am learning that it is much easier to be successful when I have LESS!
 So...I am now a self proclaimed addict to selling my belongings on on-line yard sales. :)
Seriously though, it is a wonderful feeling to empty your life of unnecessary stuff. When I look back over my children's childhood, I don't want to see all of the time I spent shuffling our things.
I have meaningful belongings that I will always treasure and hope to pass along to my family one day, i.e. handmade quilts, old pictures,  hand-crafted furniture from family members or close friends, and a few special gifts...



Someone recently told me to go through my house and not to look for things to get rid of but decide what I absolutely couldn't live without. That was a bit eye-opening. I think a lot of people (myself included) hold on to things that we really don't care anything about.

Here is a list of things I have let go of:

old clothing items
* I am huge fan of creating a capsule wardrobe!
If you don't love it...sell or donate it. 
 http://www.today.com/style/how-create-capsule-wardrobe-t34931

useless kitchen gadgets and matchless tupperware
There is nothing more annoying than opening a cabinet and a bunch of useless crap falling everywhere!

furniture
If you don't have room for it pass it along to someone who can use it!

baby items
If it is worn out or not being used, let it go!

household items
old lamps, rugs, and out of date clutter!

old magazines
:/ :/ :/  

teenage treasures and college junk
All those "treasures" that just sit in the storage room or attic...pitch it!
I understand keeping a few sentimental things but we had a so much stuff in storage that neither one of us cared anything about.
I was amazed at what I unearthed while clearing out closets and junk drawers. :/ :/ :/

After we went through all of the physical clutter that was slowing us down we took a hard look at time management. That can get super convicting.
 Daniel and I purpose to have "thick skin" in our marriage and to receive constructive criticism well. The longer we are married the more we see how beneficial it is to our marriage and our personal well-being. We've slowly gotten to the place where we ask each other to point out weak spots. Sometimes I will have an idea about what he is going to point out and other times I have been blind-sided. BUT...it is good...sooo good to have someone who loves you enough to be willing to point out your shortcomings, all the while braving the fact that you have evil, preggo hormones raging through your body! :)
 Y'all my husband is a brave man. ;)

I have posted before about some of our thoughts on social media. We love it and we hate it...well, we hate it mostly.
I enjoy the fact that I can connect with people far away but I hate how it has replaced so much of face-to-face interaction.  I really hate how it has started defining relationships, controlling how people view themselves, and watching people abuse it.
 If I'm honest, one of the biggest time wasters for me was having the FB app on my phone. Inspired by one of my favorite lifestyle, mommy bloggers, I deleted the app from my phone. I would have called myself productive before, but it was insane how free and accomplished I felt just one day being completely disconnected from it. Our account is still open because of business purposes but it will be quiet for a while...
So, for the friends that don't see us posting much, we're good! Just taking a break from the daily "feed" to learn how to live life a little bit better.

-mckenize gentry

Oh, one more thing!!! If you blog, I would encourage you to occasionally print out what you write and tuck it in a notebook. Another writer encouraged me to do that and it is such a neat way to preserve your thoughts for the future.







Sunday, February 26, 2017

snakes, snails and puppy dog tails...

Daniel, Elizabeth and I are so excited to announce that baby number 2 is a boy!!!! 
We are overwhelmed by the Lord's goodness to us and we look forward to meeting this new little one. 

***A huge thank-you to my sister for helping take these pictures to capture this exciting time in our lives.
 


Our family of 3...soon to be 4! 


"I wish I had met you sooner so I could love you longer."



  

 

"Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court."
 Psalm 127:3-5


-mckenzie gentry 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Imperfectly Perfect

 I woke up yesterday feeling overwhelmed. Daniel has been working out of town for the last two weeks and my house was turned upside down. We had stacks of dirty clothes, luggage that needed to be sorted through, cleaning that sorely need to happen....
We had just finished breakfast and I was standing in the middle of my kitchen wishing Mary Poppins would walk through my door and start snapping my house into shape. Then I saw Elizabeth sitting on my table, mayonnaise in hand, watching me ever so intently. 
 I'm not sure what made me get my camera out with my house being such a wreck, but I'm so glad I did. I've always loved taking pictures. There is something about looking through my camera that makes me see life differently. You see those beautiful details that most people might miss. 

Here's a glimpse into my perfectly imperfect morning.






 Watching the way Daniel loves her unconditionally and the way she loves him so fully brought tears to my eyes. She has a wonderful man on her side... and I think she knows it.



 These two are my world.

 I'm thankful for these pictures that will be there to remind me that these are truly the best days of my life. The mess, the craziness, the unknown....all of it. These will be precious memories-my memories.



  My daily reminder not to get lost in this fast-paced world...



 Until next time...