Homemade applesauce with leftover Christmas stocking apples

I had leftover apples from Christmas stockings so I made some homemade applesauce (can’t have too much applesauce with a two year old in the house). I found a highly rated recipe from AllRecipes.com – I figure anything with over a thousand positive reviews on this site is going to work out.

Homemade applesauce – with the apple skin (can you even tell?)

I made one small change. When I cut the apples I left the skin on them – they are the most nutrient-packed part of the apple. The skin becomes so soft they just mold right into the applesauce. Just like the skin of a potato, the skin of an apple is the best part – good for your lungs and brain – preventing cancer and controlling weight. Rethink peeling your apples folks. I also used one less tablespoon of sugar and they were plenty sweet. The sweetness will depend on what kind of apples you use. This was so quick and easy – I should do this weekly instead of buying applesauce full of preservatives. #notime

Crash boom bang (goes the entryway closet)

Whenever George is doing anything destructive he yells “Crash boom bang!” – and our entryway closet definitely went crash boom bang. The closet “before” was an ugly (un)improvement that some owners decided was necessary for function, and it thoroughly closed off the entryway light from the rest of the house. Because…who doesn’t want a dark, small, claustrophobic entryway? Pscht.

The closet "before" was barely functional much less attractive.

The closet “before” was barely functional much less attractive.

We weren’t sure what (if anything) the wall was hiding on the kitchen side. There was a cut out for a fridge, but it looked like some wasted space above the fridge and we thought maybe it was hiding a surprise. Luckily, it could be broken wide open to let light, air and good vibes escape.

The closet comes down.

Closet/hallway view from the kitchen, mid-destruction.

Closet/hallway view from the kitchen, mid-destruction.

Once the hallway went away, you could see the beauty of the original staircase and entryway. It looks so much better now that you can view all the way to the back of the house through the kitchen.

The closet transforms back into a hallway

The closet transforms back into a hallway

Today, the hallways stands bare (but breathable) while we figure out under-stair storage. There are some amazing ideas on Pinterest and Houzz and I am having way too much fun planning – we may never come to a decision!

The open staircase hallway

The open staircase hallway (plus one cute dog – he’s part of the crew)

Budgeting before buying

We were very deliberate when planning our rental property business. The very first step was to actually run the numbers. It’s my belief you should never invest in a business without running realistic projections – and then also running worst-case-scenario projections. I created a spreadsheet which was probably missing a few expenses but had all of the ongoing (projected) expenses I could think of and revenues broken out quarterly, outside of the initial cost of the property and any renovation or remodel. I have a different sheet for each outcome – 2 bedroom, 3 bedroom, and the best case scenario – 4 bedroom. Of course there will also be months when incidentally no one lives there. Like the whole first year if we are renovating. Boo.

Our 3 bedroom rental scenario

Our 3 bedroom rental scenario

The expenses list includes:

  • Carpet cleaning/replacing
  • Touch up paint
  • Garbage services
  • Inspection fee to renew license
  • Per sleeping room license fee
  • Small repairs (appliances, yard maintenance, etc.)
  • Property insurance

Balancing this out over the projected revenues, I estimate an eventual profit, but only if the property is paid in cash and remodeling is paid in cash, therefore not figured in as expenses. Even then, profits are small (do not come anywhere near replacing even one of our individual incomes). There are years and years of financial losses if you factor in a business loan. That being said, this budget is built for a single-family property, and with a larger property the cash flow would be quite different. With full-time jobs, we did not imagine ourselves running a large rental business and assumed one small property would be enough of a challenge! If we turn a small profit, we will feel like we successfully diversified our funds, with our goal being to simply NOT lose our asses assets.

Assets being the cash we have worked hard to save for years and years. Both of us have a constant headache and heartache over actually spending our hard-earned savings. It feels good to have that money sitting there in a savings account and knowing it is right there if we need it. #slushfund However, it is also doing nothing for us sitting in a savings account with inflation slowly eating up the interest. We know buying a rental property is a risk – a carefully calculated one – but still a risk. We are going to work a lot harder (for hopefully bigger returns) than we are with money sitting in a savings account. Plus, we hope by diy-ing the remodel and improvements we can squeeze the most return from each and every dollar we spend. Free bin on Craigslist, anyone? #gross #haha #spookytoo Keep in mind,  projected budget numbers will vary with cost of living in your area so plan your budget accordingly, if you are following in our [insane] footsteps.

More exciting than the projected expenses are the projected profits. The more research I do into business taxation, I realize one of the biggest benefits the single biggest benefit to owning an LLC could be tax benefits. I need to dedicate a lot more time to researching business accounting and taxation. I understand we could just hire someone to manage our accounting but I enjoy learning, believe in life-long learning, and feel empowered the more I learn. How does the saying go – knowing just enough to be dangerous? That might be me.

We are certainly not expecting to get rich – we really just hope to turn a small profit and try a different investment outside of the stock market. It a decision we made together, and debated for years, so that we would not someday look back with regret. So away we go…#skerd

I talked to another landlord who started out in mobile homes…he said he didn’t recommend that due to shoddy construction, and he also recommended against buying a home built in the 70s or 80s as they were experimenting with new building materials. Luckily our home was built in 1912 so it’s built like a rock. I’ve heard you should never invest in something you know little about…but I’d argue a little research goes a long way. It’s great to ask around…knowledge is power!

George in his tax glasses, trying to eat your face. #totesadorbs

George in his tax glasses, trying to eat your face. #totesadorbs

Renovation required – flooring rehab

The entire house, with the exception of a small portion of the kitchen and the bathrooms, has real hardwood flooring – which is one of the best things about this house. However, most of it was covered with horrific carpeting in the 60s and 70s. Pink, purple, green and puke-color. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Gross.

Gross.

Some serious adhesive.

A few tips for removing carpeting… from the man behind the rehab (aka my husband Ross) – make sure to wear a quality mask and work gloves when taking up old carpet. Cut the carpet up in small pieces so you can easily haul it out if you are working by yourself. Ross was unpleasantly surprised by the amount of dust, dirt and animal byproducts hiding in the carpet. Eww. Carpet is nast.

Scrape. Scrape. Scrape some more.

Scrape. Scrape. Scrape some more.

We had to use carpet adhesive remover to get rid of the sticky pad over all of the beautiful hardwood floors. The product works fine, but, as Ross says, there is no easy way to remove carpet that has been glued down for forty or fifty years. He said it was easier to remove in areas where there was little to no foot traffic like the edges of walls. But there is plenty of square footage where the adhesive is not going to budge, which brings us to the most difficult part of the rehab.

The adhesive remover of choice required covering for a short period of time (not long enough to dry out)

The adhesive remover of choice required covering for a short period of time (not long enough to dry out)

One such high traffic area (threshold)

One such high traffic area (threshold)

On the high-traffic trouble spots, we were gauging into the floor trying to scrape up carpet adhesive. So we stopped and came up with another plan of attack. Next we are going to rent a drum sander which is a more aggressive method, and then an orbital sander to finish out the project. I cannot wait for this part.

Dining room floor area

Dining room floor area

The back bedroom addition

The back bedroom addition

Starting an LLC…and 5 reasons you might just pay an attorney to do it for you

I once learned enough about dentistry in one month to ghost write on behalf of dentists, so I figured I could manage filing for an LLC. I assumed it would consist of a quick form and probably $50 in administrative costs. I was a bit….optimistic. A lot of people pay attorneys to help them start an LLC. This is not a bad idea…. “You might be an….attorney-payer if:”

  • You don’t feel like reading 8 pages of IRS tax information…per day for a week straight. (I’m one of those people that read all of the fine print before I sign anything). Hell, I just like to read.
  • You are not particularly detail-oriented or you are, shall we say, low-energy. Kids anyone?
  • You are an attorney already.
  • You become so frustrated with this run-on sentence that you vow to track down whoever wrote it (oh no, just me?): For Minnesota sales and use tax purposes, charges to lease or rent a residential dwelling, including a home, cabin, condominium or similar building are taxable for a period of less than 30 days and for periods of 30 days or more if there is no enforceable written lease agreement with the customer that requires the guest to give prior notice of their intention to terminate.
  • You’re addicted to Snapchat and can’t put.the.snaps.down.

    My life in snapchat captions

    All the cute this snap can handle

    All the cute this snap can handle

     

[Thought-cloud here] So that run-on sentence…urgh…it is taxable for only 30 days? Changes to lease or charges to lease…do they mean fee charges? Why are they adding superfluous words here? A home or a house? A house is a structure, a home is a residence, whatever form that takes, right? Sigh.

So the actual paperwork bit was daunting. But I’m a stickler for details so I started making a to-do list. Or, more accurately, a to-look-into-further list. Along the way, I learned a lot of surprising facts about doing business in Minnesota, including the fact that you cannot use a PO Box for most government filings. So while a PO Box is a great option for bills and paperwork, government filings are always sent through a physical office or home address.

I learned you will need a tax ID from the state if you have a multiple member LLC or partnership – a must if you have employees. It comes in handy as an alternative to a social security number on LLC filings. Also, you are supposed to file use tax for any faucets or other goodies we buy online that are not taxed – one of the most overlooked details in filing returns. Detail-oriented for the win!

This is our command center slash home office.

This is our command center slash home office.

Not knowing how long it actually takes to set up an LLC, we didn’t get too far into the property-purchasing process until we had the proper LLC structure in place. We wanted to purchase our rental as the LLC, instead of individuals, for the following reasons:

  • It is clean cut and keeps your business separate from your personal life.
  • You are less likely to be personally sued because the house is owned by the LLC. Insurance policies help too, of course.
  • Your taxes should be more clean, clear and under control because everything is owned by the LLC.
  • We knew we were writing up formal leases, so it made sense for the ownership to be formal too (not renting to family/friends). We knew we were not doing short-term (30 day) rental terms.
  • We are sure there are also benefits to owning it ourselves as a second (personal) home, but we just wanted to keep it separate to add a layer of security between us and the business profit or loss.

Here is the checklist I used when starting the business (yeah for lists!). Do you love checklists too? (Is that strictly a female thing?)

 

Nadia Cakes…will change your life

How do you justify buying $7 cupcakes when you are frugal? Buy them as Christmas gifts…Secret Santa gifts…etc., then it suddenly makes sense to have one or two yourself.

So begins the story of how I landed at Nadia Cakes in Maple Grove three times in the last two weeks. First I stopped in for a Secret Santa gift, and bought a few cupcakes (…and a ‘California-style’ pecan bar – their words) for my husband to try. I may have eaten more of the cupcakes than he did. We both stared at each other with a mouthful of cupcake and said… “HOW do they make them so moist…how do they DO it!?”

They had fondant Christmas cupcakes out on display and my eyes slobbered all over them.

Too. cute. to. eat. Not too cute to give as dynamite edible presents.

I preordered fondant cupcakes for Christmas gift treats and that brought me in a second time. The third time was for my brother-in-law’s recent birthday. It is getting ridiculous and has to stop.

But if you are ever near Maple Grove, Minnesota or Palmdale, California, and you’ve never been to Nadia Cakes…GO. Right that wrong.

They also have a second location opening in Woodbury, Minnesota in February. I’ve been known to frequent Woodbury and I think they somehow found out. The cupcakes are stalking me. Nom nom nom…

This container was full. Then delicious happened.

 

Our family Christmas card (aww…)

Each December I feel fairly confident I’ve created an all-star Christmas card. Then the following year I look back at the previous year’s Christmas card and sigh in disappointment. Either I am grossly overconfident in my Photoshop skills or a year’s worth of judgement completely reverses my reaction to our family Christmas card. Either way, at this moment, I truly believe this is the best Christmas card I’ve ever designed. At least, until next December when I hate it and want to do something completely different.

My annoying fiscal responsibility doesn’t allow my to pay for Tiny Print’s designs or buy cards with embossing, die cuts or fancy envelopes. That little voice in my head sometimes even goads me to send out e-cards or not send out Christmas cards at all. However, I have balanced out my cheap compulsions with the holiday spirit by compromising at every level.

  • We take our own pictures. Once we included a professional family photo on the address-side of our postcard.
  • I use Photoshop to design the card – usually picking up a new skill or tool I haven’t used before.
  • By designing a standard-size postcard we save on stamps and don’t have to buy envelopes. Yes, they get a bit banged up in the mail, but who cares – it’s not like anyone frames them.
  • I always use VistaPrint to print postcards – usually with a coupon code for extra savings. I’ve tried Mixbook products too, but I found the quality wasn’t quite up to par.

I realize many singles, couples, seniors and even families with children don’t get into the holiday card-sending game, and for good reason. But when my mom calls me crying (bawling) (SOBBING…) over the Christmas card I sent her, it sure makes the long lines at the post office worth it. Happy holidays across the miles!

Peace Love and Joy via Photoshop and Vistaprint

Peace Love and Joy….via Photoshop and Vistaprint (do you love the snow effect or hate it?)

 

Who are we…and what’s this business about eggs?

I’m Jill and my husband Ross and I live in a suburb of Minneapolis. We are in our 30s and have a son George. We are blessed to live in a low cost-of-living area with low crime, great education, job opportunity and plenty of snow. Oh, wait, nevermind the last part.

We started thinking about a rental property a few years ago, and in the process of researching, learned a lot about money, preparation, real estate and investment. We learned so much online – there are so many bloggers that curate genuinely great information – and we wanted to join in on the fun.

Part of our reason for over-sharing is to encourage others to pursue their goals with bravery and careful preparation. We also want to epitomize the opposite of ‘easy money,’ because we believe it is a dangerous myth. Just like “lose ten pounds in three days.” #yeahbynoteating #eek

AllOurEggs brings it all together for us – our family, our financial goals, Ross’ and my interests and skills, our day-to-day struggles, our wins and losses, our laughter and how we are making the small steps count. Warning: anyone with rental properties will tell you having a rental property is not a cash cow! We can say with certainty that it is not for everyone – just like -30° weather. #minnesnowta

Family photo

-Ross, Jill & George