Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Polish Radio Station

Here is another great radio station where you can listen to music in Polish.

I have been listening to this station for the past week. It's a great station with upbeat music even though I don't understand anything.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hague Adoption Process

Poland is a Hague Adoption Convention country, which means that they abide by the rules set up by this convention. The Hague Adoption Convention sets up rules to protect the adopting parents and the children to be adopted.

Click here for a link about the process for adopting from a Hague convention country. It also includes a link that lists all the countries that are a part of this convention and a chart that compares non-hague with hague convention countries.

We are at the end of step 4!! Two more steps and our adoption will be complete.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Update: Provisional Approval

Here is another update on our adoption: We have provisional approval from USCIS. We are one step closer to bringing our seven year old home!

Now we wait for a court date to be set in Poland. That might take a couple of weeks, but we are unsure of any details at the moment. We might be packing our bags soon! Yea!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Adopt Debt Free: Grocery Budget

When adopting debt free, your grocery budget can be your best friend or your worst enemy.Your grocery budget is probably the most flexible line item on your budget. It took me about 3 years to figure out our grocery budget. We are constantly changing it, for the better might I add. So how can you eat well and stay in budget? Hopefully this post will give you some encouragement or ideas on how to make that happen.

How big is your family? How much do you all eat? How many leftovers do you throw away each week? How many times are you willing to go to the grocery store each month? Should you include personal items/cleaning products in your budget?

These questions have helped me figure out what our grocery budget should be each month. So let me tell you how we do our grocery budget.  

I start out with two lists, one for Sam's and one for smaller grocery stores. It is very important that I make a list because I get very distracted in stores and would spend way too much.

I only go to Sam's once a month. I write down everything that I need to buy in bulk for the month on that list. I don't buy everything that I need at the grocery store in bulk because sometimes it is not the cheaper solution for us.

Now for the smaller grocery stores, my list depends on the week. I like to shop once a week at smaller stores because I can figure out what to cook that week and what ingredients I need. I know some people who make one trip a month and buy everything they need for the whole month. I find it over whelming to plan a whole month of meals at the beginning of the month. I tried doing that and we always had way too many leftovers that we couldn't use because I needed to cook the other meals or the ingredients would go bad. And I find it cheaper to shop weekly because I can catch the store's sales and plan my meals accordingly.

I try to cook three to four meals a week and eat leftovers for the other days that I don't cook. I try to plan my meals based on what ingredients I have on hand and what items are on sale at the store. I mentioned earlier on this blog that I use Budget Bytes to help plan my meals. I am not that creative to be able to throw items together and it taste good. Beth, at Budget Bytes, helps me to accomplish this goal. When I plan my meals weekly, I find that I buy more fresh produce which is healthier than buying prepackaged foods. It does take time to fix meals for the week, but once it's done, you don't have to worry about it for a whole week!

We have saved a lot of money by buying just enough food for us to eat for a week. We do not throw out as many leftovers as we use to. We actually eat our leftovers! And sticking to a set budgeted amount for our groceries helps us to cut our spending and saves us lots of money.

How do you plan your meals? Do you shop once a month or throughout the month? Post your ideas below.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Update on Not Having Internet

Hey Everyone,

Back in May, we posted about how we are giving up the privilege of having to pay for internet access at our house. Here is a random update of how we are surviving still without internet.

In the last two months of not having internet access at our house, we have saved $66 which is incredible. But how are we managing/coping with the loss? We are actually doing better than before. We both got library cards (we have checked out a ton of books and dvds). We don't goof off as much on weeknights for no reason. The house is cleaner (haha). But most importantly we have made new friends and we are spending more time with them.

Of course I could tell you all the great things that we are doing in our spare time without internet and not tell you that we do miss having internet sometimes. The most thing I miss about the internet is looking up recipes online to cook. I have dusted off my cookbooks that have been sitting on my shelf for forever and started using some old recipes of mine that I have marked. I find that I miss having internet access the most is when I am bored, but then I look over at the stack of books I checked out at the library and realize I need to start reading them. Boredom quickly fades between the library books and our cat Merlin wanting attention.

Overall not having internet access at our house has been very manageable. We are able to get free internet access at the library, Tulane, and work. I think this might be a positive improvement that might stick with our family for awhile.

Monday, July 15, 2013

What type of music do Poles listen to?

If you didn't know by now, we are adopting from Poland. We are trying to learn all about Polish history, culture and language. We want to know what their culture is like before we travel (what type of foods do they eat or what kind of music do they like to listen to, etc...).

My mother-in-law stumbled upon this cool video last week and I thought I might share it here. It is a guy running around in a Bydgoszcz, Poland asking different Poles what they are listening to on their mp3/ipod player. This is a cool insight to see what kind of music do Poles like to listen to (if you are into the Polish culture).

Here is the link:

Friday, July 12, 2013

Adopt Debt Free: Budget Bytes Helps Us Keep Our Grocery Budget Low

One way of keeping my grocery budget low is with Beth is super creative with making cheap, really tasty food. She is a genius. On her website, she gives you the break down of how much each meal is going to cost and how much each ingredient costs. And since she is local (New Orleans), her prices can be very similar to what I pay at the grocery store.

When I am planning my meals for the week, I check to see what I need to use up and then check her website to see if she has any recipes that I could try. This website is a great resource and she is constantly posting new recipes each week.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

We have a MATCH!

Hey everyone that is following our adoption process!

We have some exciting news on our adoption process. In the last month, we have received some information on a beautiful 7 year old girl in Poland. We can't post much about her. We just received the official referral for her (in the last week or so) and we will continue the adoption process of adopting her. We do not know when we will be traveling (maybe 2-3 months??).

Currently, we are waiting for USCIS provisional approval. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for that paperwork to come back. We will keep you all updated as much as possible (hopefully soon?).

If you are new to our blog, check out our timeline. We made the decision to adopt debt free in July 2011 and started saving and fundraising. Two years later we have a referral and we are still debt free.


Homemade Foaming Hand Soap

Hand soap is definitely a grocery budget killer because you constantly have to buy it and it can't be recycled. It is also an item that you use every day. It is hard to find a substitute for hand soap that will clean your hands effectively. With prices skyrocketing in the grocery stores, Wes and I had to learn how to make more products at home, which includes hand soap.

For one bottle of generic brand hand soap can cost from $1-2 a bottle. And 1 refillable bottle of soap that is used to refill your soap dispenser can cost $6 or more, which is a lot for something that you will use up very quickly.

Let me give a quick disclaimer:
I really enjoy Bath and Body Works' hand soaps. They smell amazing, but they cost $12 a bottle. And yea, I know you can get them on sale for $6 a bottle. I will buy some from time to time if they are on sale or if I have a gift card. I mostly just wait till Christmas time to get them as gifts from friends or family members. This homemade soap version that I have created is in no comparison to Bath and Body Works' hand soaps, maybe later on I can play with some essential oils and create my own.

Foaming Hand Soap Recipe

Take your old foaming hand soap bottle. If you don't have one, Dollar Tree has them (with soap in it) for $1. Get your favorite smelling dish soap. I prefer the generic brand, hand renewal soap by Great Value at Walmart. Put 1/2 TBSP of soap in your empty recycled soap bottle. Fill the bottle up with water and Voila! You made foaming hand soap!

Here's the Breakdown:
One 8oz foaming hand soap: $2
One 8oz homemade hand soap: $.13 ($2 for 14oz. dish soap, with this recipe you use about .25 ozs, and it can make about 56 foaming hand soap refills)

I use about 3 bottles per month. With the store bought version, it would cost me $6 each month or $72 a year. Crazy! But with the homemade version it only costs $.39 a month and $4.68 a year.
That's $67.32 a year that I am saving by making my own foaming hand soap!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Polish Talk Radio

If you are adopting internationally, it is very helpful to stay up on the current events of that particular country. Listening to a talk radio or a news station (preferably in English) is a good way to get a better understanding of the country and culture you will be visiting. Find a good radio station that you can listen to that has daily reports/news on the country you will be traveling to. I found a great Polish talk radio by doing a google search.

Here is a great Polish talk radio that I have been following for the past couple of weeks (and yes it is in English):

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Questions to Ask Before You Travel

When traveling internationally or adopting internationally, it is helpful to know some basic information about the country you will be visiting. Before you travel find out what's going on in the country. Here is a list of questions/ideas to research before you travel to a foreign country.

1. What country are you going to visit?
2. What is the transportation like?
3. Is tap water safe to drink?
4. What type of weather will you experience while you are there?
5. Is your passport valid during your entire stay in that country? Do you even have a passport?
6. Are there any travel warnings or alerts? Click here for U.S. Dept. of State travel warnings.
7. Will you need traveler's medical insurance? Will your current insurance plan reimburse you if you have to go to a hospital in a foreign country?
8. Will you need additional vaccines? Click here for the CDC's recommendation for vaccines.
(If you are located in New Orleans, Passport Health has an office located in Metairie and you can get your travel vaccines there.)
9. What is the currency exchange rate? How far can our dollar take us? Click here to find out.
10. What is the voltage requirements? Click here.
11. Check the CIA's World Factbook about government, culture, geography, etc...
12. Do some research on to find out about different attractions and places to stay.
13. Know which common hand gestures that us Americans do that might be offensive to the country that you are going to. You don't want to offend anyone while you are there.
14. What is the government like? What type of government does the country have?
15. Listen to talk radio from the country you will be visiting. This will give you an idea of how the citizens feel about their country and what they are facing. This will also give you some current events information about the country.
16. Check out travel books on your specific country from the local library.
17. If you are traveling by plane, check out TSA's list of things to "know before you go". Click here.
18. What is the language or languages? Can you learn a couple of important phrases before you go?
19. Search for the local 911 number in the country you will be visiting, just in case.
20. What is the history of the country? Any famous people? Any well known wars fought in that country?
21. What is the Religion of the country? Expect dietary restrictions if a certain religion is the predominant religion and require certain dietary guidelines. Once again you don't want to offend anyone!
22. Is there something unique or special about this country?
23. If you know which cities you will be visiting, research the city to find out where the most dangerous areas of the city are located.
24. Is your credit card widely accepted in the country that you will be visiting?
25. Will you need a cellphone while your visiting? A sim card? Can you buy that beforehand?
25. Need advice on what type of clothing to pack? Women check this cool website out.
26. Most importantly, where is the U.S. Embassy located in the country that you are visiting? Make sure you have their contact information before you leave.

Do you have any questions that you research before you travel internationally? Please post them below.