Thursday, March 31, 2011

Today's A&A


-subbing at a school this week where "cowboy steak" was the main menu item. This is just a fancy name for a hamburger patty on steroids that's covered in melted white cheese and bacon. I don't really think that anything with BACON on it qualifies as a "healthy choice." Come on, now.

-finding a note from an old friend hidden in a DVD case that I opened at school the other day. The friendship had a rather awkward, unhappy ending and there were definitely mixed feelings when I read the note. Even though it was sweet, it was still strange. At the time I am sure it was meant to make me smile, but it just made me feel.... weird. Plus, it's probably been there for over a year - since she hasn't set foot in my house in that long.

-zombie dreams. I had one last night and woke up utterly terrified. 

-incessant sneezing. Curse you, allergy season!

-leaving my water bottle in Mesquite last night at the jewelry party. The most awkward part: I drove the 45-minute drive again today to get it. I can't live without that thing! Seriously, it's a problem. ;)


-my camera has magically come back from the dead. :) Perhaps I was working it too hard and it needed a break! I have still been taking pictures, but it's a pain to upload them from my phone.... as a result: picture-less posts. Since we're back in business, you should be seeing more photos around here very soon!

-impromptu date night! We went to Logan's - I ordered steak and grilled shrimp... the hubs ordered ribs and chicken. Yes, this was intentionally so we would have 4 different meats. :) Then we just share it all  - mmmm meat ;)

-adult slumber parties! I can't wait to post about this after Saturday!!! One of our besties is having a party out at her home in BFE. All of my besties are coming with their men and their kiddos! It will be a day of grilling out and socializing, then we will all change into our PJs and stay the night! I really can't wait - this weekend will be such a blast!

-So, I've officially decided to give this A to Z challenge a shot. It seems like it's going to be hard to think up posts by the letter, and also a real challenge to post every day for the whole month of April. But I LOVE to write, and I know it will help stretch my creative juices.


"Huh? Salu-what?"
"Salutations! Salutations are greetings, and my fancy way of saying hello!"
"chin up, chin up
put a little laughter in your eyes
brave it, save it
even if you're feeling otherwise
twinkle, sparkle
let a little sunshine in
you'll be on the right side, 
looking at the bright side,
up with your chinny chin chin!"

So, I babysat for my bestie's 2-year old this week. And what did she want to watch? Charlotte's Web. Score. :) I haven't seen that movie in FOREVER, and I just love the little diddy above. Makes ya smile even when you don't really wanna. :)

Speaking of trying to keep your chin up, please keep the teachers of Texas in your prayers. Budget cuts are hacking up our education system, and it directly affects so many of us. I was watching the local news last night, and PISD recently handed out almost 350 pink slips... with 225 of those going to teachers. McKinney ISD is expected to let go of over 100 teachers as well, and this is just info from 2 north Texas school districts. I personally know a teacher with years of experience, excellent evaluations, and a genuine talent for teaching that no longer has a job in the Fall. Simply because, on her team, she is lowest in seniority. It truly breaks my heart. Not only that, I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I could walk and talk. Here I am, wishing I had my own classroom, and working as a substitute to get my classroom "fix" until something else comes my way. Let's face it, my confidence in finding a full-time teaching job in the fall is lying in the gutter. What is happening to our education system? 

Sigh, let's try and move onto more exciting things. Like spending time with family. :) I went out to Mesquite yesterday to spend time with my twin sister and help her cook for her jewelry party that night. Wendy, my sister, is an amazing mom of two who is recently looking into selling Park Lane jewelry as a supplementary income while she stays at home with her boys. Well, it's no secret that I LOVE jewelry, and I sure do love supporting my sister as well. 

So, meet Hooty. :) I love him soverymuch and cannot wait to have him and wear him for my very own! This is definitely awesome enough to include in my A&A post, but I thought Hooty deserved a little attention all on his own. :) I also scored some gorgeous earrings, for free!, that I won in the raffle. It's super important to support your loved ones ;), so I also bought other necklaces and earrings for birthday and mother's day gifts coming up. Can't beat sweet bling, a lifetime quality guarantee, and putting profit money directly into your sister's pockets. :) 
That's why I also bought this gorgeous piece for myself. 

It's a real good thing I get a modest paycheck of my own each month, and an even better thing that I called the hubby prior to the party and warned him of my spending potential. ;)

Me, stylish?

I'll take that as a compliment. ;) Even if the compliment is coming from a bestie who just loves me to pieces, anyway, ;) it's always an honor to be recognized. Beautiful super-mom over at Thoughts from Tiffani nominated me for a Stylish Blogger Award. :) Considering my little blog is still in it's infancy and has just a modicum amount of followers, this is really exciting for a crazy person like me! :):)

*To accept this award the recipients are asked to do a few things.*
1.  Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award. 
2.  Share 7 things about yourself 
3.  Award 10-15 blogs you feel deserve the award 
4.  Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award

Seven things about ME!

1. I started blogging because I talk too much. :) I ramble on and on when I talk, and my writing is no exception, haha. Blogging gives me the opportunity to spit out every little thing I'd like to say... and YOU don't have to read it unless you wanna. Works for me. :)

2. I am the crazy person you all stare at when stopped at a red light. You know the one - dancing and singing in the car at the top of my lungs, without a care in the world. :) I like to listen to my music uninhibited, so what? ;) 

3. I am really, really hoping that once this April tax deadline passes, the hubby will be able to take some time off of work. We really to get away... well, HE really needs some time away and I am always down for some vacation time with my man. :)

4. I have the most amazing tight-knit circle of girlfriends. I have been able to spend more time with several of them lately, and it only proves how blessed I really am. Most people can count their close, life-long friends on one hand... and yet, here we are, with our "crew" STILL celebrating birthdays and marriages, and all raising our kids together (my "kids" being our pups, of course).  Wen, Steph, Britt, Roxy, Tiff, Amanda - I love you girls more and more everyday! I am SO thankful that we have each other always!! :)

5. I am a lefty. :)

6. Cooking and Reading are the 2 things I do in my own free time that make me the happiest.

7. I am itching to be a mommy. :) Been with the husband for 7 years this summer, we will be married 3 years this fall, and I am ready to grow our family beyond the sweet, furry, 4-legged kiddos we have running around. I am so excited about our future. :)

Now for the hard part - to give this award away to 10 other deserving bloggers. Hard because I follow so many lovely blogs, and also hard because Tiffani and I love some of the same blogs, and she's already given it to some of my top choices ;0) (cough, Distinct Style, cough). Seriously, though, check out Tiffani's Stylish Bloggers as well as mine below... they are ALL awesome and definite "must-reads"!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

A&A on a GORGEOUS Thursday!

Well, hello! Wow, it's gorgeous outside! Chillin' on the patio with my laptop as we speak... er, as I type. Nothing awkward about today, so let's get to a few things that are. ;)


-completely flaking out on last week's A&A. But you know, I was with family and got so caught up, I didn't even realize it was Thursday. It wasn't until I got home Friday afternoon, logged onto my Dashboard and saw all your other posts that it even occurred to me! ;) I was getting some totally awesome family time, though, so I hope you all forgive me. :)

-My camera breaking AGAIN! The shutter won't open. :( Funny enough, it was in David's possession when it stopped working. Why is he always the one to lose or break my cameras? ;) Oh well, it just means he gets to buy me another. woohoo. It's really throwing a wrench in my daily routine, though! I am doing a 365 photo project and taking one picture for everyday in 2011. Without my trusty camera, my cell phone is being forced to substitute. Just not quite the same.

-Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" ringing throughout the 4th grade classroom I taught in on Wednesday. Grrrr.... I KNOW I put my phone on silent!!! Of course, the ringing is followed by a chorus of, "Ooooooh, Mrs. Martinez, we are not supposed to have cell phones!!!". Oops. Kids, I know the rules... it's my stupid phone that doesn't.

-the bug that flew into my Scentsy when the wax was melted, and me not noticing until today when I find a big, black spot hardened among the red of my Perfectly Pomegranate. Ew. Had to heat it, let the wax melt, and fish it out. Ew.

-Our FIOS DVR. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Verizon FIOS, but lately the DVR is giving me a headache. First of all, the % full gage thingy is wrong. Please explain to me how two 30-minute episodes of Jeopardy causes my DVR to be 86% full. You's a fool, FIOS. Which means that if I have more than 2 hours worth of programming in it, it reads as full and won't record any more. Boo. But today.... ooh, it made me mad. I recorded Top Chef last night and come home all pumped to watch it... All Stars season and they pick the final two for the finale. :) The DVR shows that it recorded a full hour of the show, awesome. BUT right in the middle of the episode, before they present food for the quickfire, it SKIPS straight to judging for the elimination challenge. HUH? I missed a food presentation, a judging, an elimination, the premise of the elimination challenge, AND the twist? Psshh... it completely cut out 25 minutes right in the middle of the show. Curse you, FIOS DVR!


-still lovin' my new, short haircut. Especially with the warm weather we've been having, I love that it feels light and easy!

-Spring nail polish! I am on my 3rd bottle (over the past couple years) of my favorite spring shade, For Audrey. Thank you, China Glaze! I painted mine last week. :) Rachel over at Distinct.Style also posted about her new love of this color - it's just too awesome not to fall in love with it! :)

--double awesome: I received my March "Pretty Little Lovely" and they are the sweetest earrings in, guess what color?? ;) They perfectly match my nails, haha! I love how April over at Funky Vintage Lovely seems to read my mind! For the second month in a row, she has sent me a piece in my favorite "color of the moment". Keep in mind, too, that in the "Pretty Little Lovelies" Club, April chooses your pieces for you. So her uncanny ability to send me probably the exact pieces I would pick myself... well, that is just too cool... and WAY awesome. :)

-I had a ROUGH day on Wednesday w/ the group of 4th graders I had. It wasn't a school I frequent, and by the end of the day I was ripping my hair out. I kept thinking how much I miss the kiddos at the school I am usually at. Especially the 3rd graders. They are TONS better behaved than the older group from the other school. I checked my phone while the 4th grade hooligans were in P.E. and, to my sheer DELIGHT, one of the 3rd grade teachers from my favorite school had texted me asking if I could sub Thursday. :) Oh yes, I needed that! Today was AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME. I love those kids so much, and they really know how to make my day. :)

-Increasing our carbon footprint. :) We are already avid recyclers, and I recently invested in a water Bobble since I refuse to buy bottled water. The hubs has been taking the DART train into work much more often, and we also haven't had the heater or air conditioning on since January. :) Our newest effort is carrying our own bags to and from the grocery store. Hubby LOVES this. HE despises the huge collection of plastic sacks that we've acquired, and it absolutely thrilled to see that supply dwindling with each weekly trip to the market. ;) YEAH EARTH!

-You know how much I love to try new recipes!!! The hubs and I LOVE Mexican food, especially enchiladas, but they can really take a toll on the daily calorie count. SO, I compiled a few different recipes and a few of my own touches to make... Cheesy Chicken and Zucchini enchiladas! The trick I used is to grate the zucchini and saute it with a little bit of onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin. Then I mixed it with the shredded chicken and other filling ingredients. So, we still get our Mexican fix, AND there's a green vegetable hiding in there! YUMMY! What makes it EXTRA yummy is that the hubs makes the enchilada sauce for me from scratch the night before... none of that canned stuff thankyouverymuch. :)

Mmmmm, speaking of food.... I am off to make dinner! Waldorf Chicken Salad is on the menu for tonight!

Not a happy ending

Remember last Tuesday when I lost my friend's dog? Well, they found her. Uninjured and safe at a somewhat local animal shelter. That, my friends, was nothing short of a miracle.

Since my last post, her owner stayed at my friend's house for the rest of Spring Break (the dog owner lives over an hour from where we are) to hang flyers and search local animal shelters. They hung over 70 flyers and the last one they hung was the rec center by our home. They DID receive one call about that flyer, from a boy who said they had the dog at the rec center but her leg was broken. When my friend showed up, no one was there. She had to assume it was a sick prank (WHO would do that??). She checked all the local shelters and was unable to locate her. By Friday, she eventually went home, resolved to the fact that her pup was probably dead.

Cut to Monday. :) A lady saw the rec center flyer and called my friend, telling her that they saw the dog on Wednesday in their apartment parking lot. Since the dog wouldn't let the woman near her, she called Animal Control and they took her to a local shelter (not one near our homes, though, that lil pup went FAR!!). 

Wow, I was SO relieved! Even more so to know that she had only been out on the street for one night and then was fed, warm, and safe at the animal shelter after that. My friend went immediately after work (once again, over an hour drive) to identify her dog at the animal shelter and make arrangements to take her home on Saturday. Her dog had been at that shelter when she went to check earlier in the week, but her pup had bit the animal worker that picked her up, so a 14-day quarantine period was required.

So, all is good, right? Pup is safe and sound, and all is right with the world. But remember the title of this post? Unfortunately, this does not have a happy ending.

Yesterday, she got a call from the Director of the shelter. Friends, you are not going to believe this. I was so shocked and appalled. They "accidentally" euthanized her dog. WHAT??? Unacceptable. The Director said they are investigating (blah, blah, blah) to determine what exactly happened, but the gist of it is that instead of clicking the "hold for pick-up" box on the computer, a shelter worker accidentally clicked the "euthanize" box. My friend asked if she could at least pick up the body and give her a proper burial, but the shelter no longer has it.

My heart is just broken for my friend. If it were my dog, I would be in absolute pieces that the hubs would have to scrape off the floor. My girlfriend and I sent flowers to her at work today, hoping to bring a little sunshine to a terrible, terrible situation. Please, blogger friends, continue to keep her in prayer as she deals with the loss of her little friend.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Break Wrap-up

Back to the real world! Spring Break is officially OVER! I know there are plenty of you out there that don't get the luxury of a week off smack in the middle of March, and trust me, I do feel very fortunate to be a part of the "teacher" group that does! It was a great week and I am heading back into work feeling refreshed and grateful!

It all started last Sunday when me, the hubs, and his family (all 10 of us!) hopped on the Green Line and headed downtown for a hockey game! Stars vs LA Kings (D's family is all from California, so we were the very few in Kings' colors!). It was a great game (Kings won) and then the whole crew came back to our home for dinner! I had tried out a new recipe (Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken) and it was SO delicious! I had mine with a bed of baby spinach and a little bit of brown rice, then topped it with the chicken mixture... it was tooo good! Apparently this recipe also freezes very well. I can also imagine it would be tasty as taco filling, too!

Monday and Tuesday were perfect days for me to sleep in a little bit, catch up on laundry and cleaning, and get some errands ran without feeling too rushed. It felt great to start my Spring Break all caught up and ready to relax with family and friends!

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I spent out in Mesquite with my family. David came out Thursday night and stayed as well, and it was so nice just being around everyone! I love spending time with my mom more than I can say, and I miss my sisters and nephews SO much! We played the Wii, laughed, cooked, and just really had an amazing time. 

My oh-so-talented twin sister also gave me a lovely haircut! I love it SO much! :) I was ready for something easy and quick to manage... especially with this Texas heat already beating down on us. 
Friday was a gorgeous day, so after I headed back to Carrollton, the hubby and I hit up the patio at Agave Azul. I love eating outside when the weather is nice :), and we are newly in love with this Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar. We have both tried something new each time we've gone, and there are still so many exciting menu items that we can't wait to go back and try! I also had this yuuuummmmy cantaloupe margarita on the rocks... not too sweet, very refreshing, and so delicious!

I had been looking forward to Saturday for months. CONCERT DAY! We started off the day making homemade tortillas for our family get-together on Sunday. It was nice spending the morning in the kitchen with my man, and we actually had success with the tortillas this time! Still not quite as good as my mother-in-law's, but at least these were edible. ;) 

Late afternoon we took the DART green line into downtown for the G. Love and Special Sauce concert. We decided to have dinner in the House of Blues restaurant (even though it's a little on the expensive side), because if we got our receipt signed we had the opportunity to pass the line and get into the venue before everyone else. Totally worth the expensive dinner. :) D and I were the 5th and 6th people to walk into the venue. :) We walked straight up to center stage and claimed an area that would fit our group of six. I LOVE seeing shows up close and personal. :) David has spoiled me in that respect. He has this uncanny talent of making friends with people down front that never fails to get us prime spots at every single show he has ever taken me to. Unfortunately for him, he will have to do that forever now. ;) 

It was an amazing show, as ALWAYS, and a late night for us all. I think I am getting too old for that late-night nonsense! ;) I crawled into bed shortly after 2:30 AM, and felt like I had been hit by a truck the next day! D and I even skipped out on our usual Sunday morning bowling adventures in order to snag a little extra sleep.

Sunday was both an emotional and exciting day. March 18th marked the 1-year anniversary of the day my Papa went to live with the Lord. On the day of his actual funeral, my nana (his wife of 50+ years) was also in the hospital and didn't get to attend the service. The weather was awful, as well, so we were not able to have a gravesite burial. In order to celebrate my Papa and commemorate him, we decided that his 1-year anniversary was a good time for us all to take my Nana to visit his grave. We all met at mom's for a Mexican feast then caravaned out to Cedar Creek. There were almost 20 of us... all of his kids, and most of his grandkids... his wife and his sister-in-law, too. We shared memories, laughed, cried, and prayed together all in the memory of my Papa. It was a cherished moment for us all, and I know my Papa was smiling as he watched us all from above.

D and I had almost a 2-hour drive back home, so before we hopped back into the car, we decided to explore a little bit. You could tell it was a very old cemetery, so we knew there was so much history to uncover there! I was sad that I had forgotten my camera at home, but was able to get a few shots with my phone (you'll just have to forgive their quality). Some of the people there weren't even born in this century, and had died as early as 1899! It was overwhelming the number of child graves that were there, and it definitely made me thankful for modern medicine!

One area of the cemetery absolutely broke my heart! What you see here is a mother's grave and the graves of her 3 infants. What I wasn't able to fit in the photo was the father's grave, located right next to the mother's. In the early 1900's, the first infant died only 4 short days after birth. A few years later, in 1908, another infant died only a week after birth. The third infant gravestone was from a few years after that, and the baby was born and died on the same day. :( Five days later, the mother died (I assume from childbirth complications). The father went on to live a full life, and died almost 40 years after his last child and wife. Wow, this was emotional! To think of this family, so many years ago... for a husband and wife to go through the loss of 3 babies, and then the wife to lose her own life... so sad!

The whole experience was, of course, sad... but it was also a moment to celebrate. To celebrate the full life my Papa lived, and how blessed we all are to have each other and continue to live our own full lives. There aren't many occasions where we are all gathered  as a family like that, and that was something to be thankful for all on it's own. It was the perfect end to my Spring Break. :)

I am looking forward to what this week has in store, and I am rested and ready for it! :) 

How was your week?


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Next Tuesday, I think I'll stay in bed

So, last Tuesday, I had this great day teaching first grade and then it ended with the horrible, terrible, no-good, very-bad news that I had missed the passing goal on my certification test by 3 small, tiny points. This Tuesday managed to deliver even WORSE news after a wonderful day. I did some shopping, had an impromptu date with the husband that was VERY nice... and then , around 8:30, it all went downhill. :( 

I managed to lose a friend's dog. Please, please, please say a quick prayer that the Lord leads Kristi the terrier's little feet back home safely, otherwise I am not sure what I am going to do with myself. :( Some friends of ours were out at the farm (over 2 hours away) riding horses yesterday and decided to stay the night. One of the friends had her 2 dogs in the backyard, and asked us if we would keep the small dog overnight so it wouldn't get cold or squeeze out a small hole in the backyard when her mama didn't come home. We are absolutely dog-people, so we didn't mind this AT ALL! The husband and I were already in pjs and house shoes, so we just went on over in that. D had to jump the fence and let me in through the garage... the next task was to try and corral this little pup. The bigger dog knew me, and would even allow me to pet him... not Kristi. :) Poor girl didn't know me OR D, and wouldn't stop barking or let anyone near her. Of course, the minute we were anywhere near making progress, she bolted off as FAST as she could... and that little dog can MOVE. Cut to almost 2 hours later... Dave is behind the wheel with his lights off, checking out the alleyways 7 blocks over (where we have followed her to this point), and I am in a full on sprint, barefoot (had to ditch the house shoes a few blocks back) and desperately trying to catch the female Speedy Gonzales. Needless to day, we eventually had to head back to our friend's house, and hope she could make her way back there. As we pull up to our friend's house, we see her just across the street!!! I can't believe she made it the whole 7 blocks back when this isn't even her house! Of course, she ran again the moment we got out of the car... there just wasn't anyway we were going to catch her. We continued to search a little while longer, then eventually had to head home. 

The ONLY thing that gave me any peace was the fact that we were able to spot her so close to "home" when she had wandered so far. My prayer was that she would be waiting on the front or back porch when our friends arrived home an hour later. But when I woke up this morning, my friend was about to head out again and continue looking for her. :( Please say a quick prayer that this pup finds it home safe. I feel absolutely terrible... if it had been MY dog I would be completely beside myself. I can't even imagine how I would handle that... I HATE that I am putting someone else through that pain. :( :(

My feet are terribly swollen and cut up from running through the streets barefoot for hours last night, and I still have no dog to show for it. :( I hate that there wasn't more we could do last night, but there was just no getting near that pup. We didn't want to chase her further away when we had spotted her so close to "home". I believe in the power of prayer and I am counting on all of you reading this to say a prayer for her safe return. Those of you that are pup-owners know that they are our little kiddos, especially to those of us who don't have children of our own yet. Jesus, bring this lil pup home!

I believe I am taking the hint and will be going to bed early next Tuesday, before anything else bad can happen. :(


Saturday, March 12, 2011

What's for dinner tonight?

First, let me preface this post by saying that I definitely do not claim to be an expert on any of this, but at the request of what few readers I do have, I will share my tips and process for cooking and menu planning!

Really, the first and most important thing is to commit to doing this. I have said forever that I want to menu plan, and even halfway did it for awhile... jotting down meal ideas and trying to shop for those items at the store. But, as usual, doing anything halfway really isn't worth doing at all. We would end up being "in the mood" for something else, or eating out if the few "go-to" meals we had planned didn't sound all that great at the time. With me being as OCD as I am, sticking to my typed-out menu gives me the greatest satisfaction, and so far it is working like a charm! 

So, how did I do this? What I did was sit down, armed with my laptop (access to my fav food blogs!!) and some of my favorite cookbooks, and went to work. The process for the whole month of March didn't take me more than 30 minutes, and it is already saving me TONS of time!

*I made the actual menu with some digital scrapbooking software I have called Printmaster. But there are TONS of monthly templates online you could print out and handwrite it in, and I am sure there are other programs that have the ability to create a calendar.*

First, make a mental catalog of your favorite "go-to" meals... you know, the ones that your family loves... that you can throw together without a recipe or too much thinking. We have several of these, but I didn't want to exhaust them all in one month, so I picked at least one night each week for a "go-to" recipe. David and I LOVE making Mexican and Italian food... so I set aside one night every week for both. I also assigned Thursday night as a "new recipe" night... so I can take all the goodies that I find on Food Network and food blogs and start to incorporate them into my monthly cooking. I also made sure that I had a big meal planned for both Sunday and Monday nights, so Tuesday could be our official "leftover" night, yet we would still have choices. I set aside Friday night as our "date night", since we usually go out to eat together after a long work week. Saturday I dubbed as our "grill night" or "craving night"..this night is for the hubby. ;) If he mentions something throughout the week that he is really wanting, I will jot it in for a Saturday. He also loves Food Network and finding new recipes to try, so he can also take over cooking on Saturday. Especially now that it is Spring and we will be grilling more, if we find something  that looks fresh and yummy to grill on our Saturday morning shopping trip, we will pencil that in for the evening. 

Whew...okay. So now you have the basic structure set out out for every month, and all you have to do is plug in the recipes. :) I will save each month on my laptop, to help me make sure I mix it up instead of using the same recipes every month (Of course, we do have our favorites that I am sure will make their way into every month). 

Where do I get my recipes? Various places. Many of them are ones that my mama taught me or Dave learned from his mother. My favorite cookbook is my Weight Watcher's Pure Comfort: 150 All-Time Feel-Good Recipes. Lots of great "comfort foods" made healthy. I also have several other "cooking light" type cookbooks and a few different Rachel Ray's 30-minute cookbooks as well. One of my favorite food blogs is Gina's Skinny Taste. I DO alter her recipes a bit to make them my own, but some of my new favorites lately have ALL come from something I saw on her site. I adore finding new food blogs, so please share if you know of a good one! Finally, as stated before, the hubs and I are both Food Network fanatics. :)

Another great tip that helps me quite a bit... have a few good basic recipes that you can just change the ingredients to. For example, I have a meatloaf recipe that I use... I made a mushroom and spinach version the other night, but by using tri-color diced bell peppers and some cumin instead, it becomes a "southwest" meatloaf. I also use the same basic lasagna recipe, sometimes making it a veggie lasagna, other times using italian sausage and basil to make a more traditional one. 

It's also important to still have a degree of flexibility. If there is a night I am just TOO exhausted to cook, I may make sandwiches instead of the planned meal. That's okay, as long as I don't let it happen too often, and as long as I make that meal on Friday or Saturday instead. In doing this, my real goal is not to waste ANY of the produce and groceries I bought for the week. D and I were shocked when paying for our groceries last week... we couldn't believe how much produce we bought... over $20 for the 2 of us for the week! But you know what? I used every. single. bit. of it. :) 

How does this affect my weekly shopping?? As the end of the week approaches, whenever I have a few spare minutes, I use my menu for the next week and peruse through my kitchen... compiling a list of ingredients I will need for next week's meals. We do all of our grocery shopping on Saturday mornings, and having my menu already planned REALLY helps focus my list and significantly cuts down on the time it usually takes me to work out a grocery list. I also haven't had to make a single mid-week trip to the grocery store since I started all this... sweet. :)

It really is worth the half hour (perhaps a little longer the first time you sit down to organize all of this) that it takes to make the dreaded "What's for dinner?" question a non-event. This is only my first month of getting it all on paper, but I can't wait until it becomes just another part of my routine! Cooking is definitely one of my favorite hobbies, and I am excited for all the variety that this new little tool will bring to it!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Shoreisms? and some A&A

Let me start this right off with my #1 awkward of the week... the last time I blogged was for last week's awkward and awesome. Am I losing steam or what? Life has been it's own jumbled mess lately, and even when I have a minute, I am having a hard time getting up the motivation to spell it all out for ya. Even when something happens where I think, "that would make an awesome post" or "let me jot that down so I remember to come back and share it", I still haven't made the brain-to-typing connection these past few weeks. Here's hoping that Spring Break will be just the refresher I need to get back on the blogging track!

There should be some blogging fun in store around the 18th, and I am also considering an A to Z blogging challenge in April if I can work myself up to it. I have completely fallen so far behind on the original blog challenge I was doing, that I may just scrap it and start anew in April with something else. We shall see. Perhaps I will change my mind and just catch up over Spring Break.

Okay, moving on. ;) 

-Perhaps this really is the future... how all the kids will be talking before long. As an English major, I really hope not, but it seems Jersey Shore has a further reach than anyone would like to admit. After watching last Thursday's episode, I couldn't keep myself from giggling at some of the ridiculousness I heard.

  --one of the girls describes herself as feeling "hystatic." What's "hystatic", you ask? No worries, she will tell you. ;) "Hystatic is, you know, when you're like, super happy, and like... really happy." Lord, help us all. ;)

  --Mike "the Situation" commenting on their filthy bathroom..."the smell was just permenating through the air... it is just not a good situation." Whatcha say? What was that? Did you mean "permeating"? Or perhaps "emanating"? Apparently it's a combination of both, as the ladies and gentlemen of G.T.L. aren't expected to understand the meaning of words. ;)

-me and the hubs both had weird dreams about cats... the same night. He woke up telling me about his crazy dream and the whole time I am thinking, wow, I had a crazy cat dream too! How does this even happen? We certainly don't own any cats.

-this awkward is my super-duper awkward of the week. I had SUCH an awesome day on Tuesday, and then I recieved this news and it was a huge bummer-bomb on my day. :( I took the 4th - 8th grade Science certification test on Monday. I missed the passing goal by 3 points. Three. That's less than 2 questions. I wish I had bombed the whole thing... but to miss it by 3 measly points??? Brutal. This is the 5th certification test I have taken and the only one I haven't passed, but it stings so much! Even D says not to be hard on myself... it's not like Science is my forte. BUT I can't take it again until May 9th and I was looking forward to using this as a way to make myself more marketable. Job fairs start in April/May and I REALLY hope to find a job in the fall, even with the crazy things going on in all the districts. Grrr.

-trying new things! Perhaps this is both awkward AND awesome because I surely looked awkward doing both of my new things this weekend.

1) First thing, yes, this is a picture of me on a horse! It's definitely not the first time I have done it, but it has been so many years since I have that I don't even have clear memories of riding horses. My bestie's little girl turned 2 this past week and she had a pony party! I got my baby fix AND I got to ride a horse... what a fun afternoon! We will definitely be joining them for "playday" so I can get more practice and maybe talk the hubby into getting up on a horse!

2) I swung a golf club for the first time... ever. :) Hubby was beyond itching to try out the set of clubs he purchased the weekend before, so we made plans to hit up Top Golf on Friday night. It's similar to a driving range, but you are aiming for different targets. It's actually a pretty cool place - each ball has a microchip registered to your name, so you can really tell how far your balls go and all that jazz. I couldn't get any distance to save my life, but I had a consistent, straight swing that kept hitting the same 3-point goal. I will take consistent, that works for me! I had a gnarly blister on my bowling thumb and some stiff shoulders the next day, but overall I actually had a really good time! I don't think I will be ready for a course anytime soon, but I am getting there. Plus, hubby is thrilled to pieces that I might be showing some interest in one of his favorite hobbies.

-another awesome: getting my March menu all planned out. Here it is, in all it's glory, hanging on my refrigerator. :) :) This really makes me happy! Compiling weekly grocery lists takes HALF the time, and I never have to stress about what to make for dinner. It only took me about half an hour and some perusing through cookbooks to get this going, and it's already saving me TONS of time!!!

-after my "bad news tuesday", a good friend called me up to meet her for a few beverages. I LOVE friends that never fail to come to the rescue when I am in a  sour mood. I got to go over to her house and spend time with her and her sweet, sweet little one, and all my troubles just melted away. :) I love moments like that, and I sure am grateful for people in my life that know just when I need it!

-Spring Break is next week. :) Only ONE more day of work until I get a week off AND I get to visit my family. AWESOME. Enough said. :)

-Looking forward to the St. Paddy's Day parade this weekend with great friends! Parade, then hot-tub time at the "Mansion" where friends are house-sitting. Lovely, lovely, relaxing Saturday!

-my final awesome of the week: my fitness pal app on android. This thing is amazing! It's pretty much an online food and exercise diary. The reason I like it so much is because it has TONS of food products and restaurants pre-loaded with nutrition information. So far I have not come across a single food that they didn't have. Plus, it also tracks your daily vitamin intake, water, exercise, etc. It's laid out so beautifully that you can tell, at a glance, if you've gone over the amount of carbs or fats that are part of your daily allowance. You can track either online or on your phone, and when you log onto either, it syncs up automatically (like if you enter your lunch on your phone and then dinner online, it will sync up to show both). Did I mention that it's FREE? You just pop in your height, weight, your weight loss goal, and how long from now you want to reach that goal... this precious little puppy spits out the according calorie count for the day. If you wish, you can even link it to your Facebook and Twitter to announce your progress (I probably won't be using that feature, haha!!). ;) I have been using it just over a week now, and I am LOVING it! It really does give you an accurate breakdown of everything you are putting in your body.

Hope you all have a fabulous Friday!!! What were your A&As of the week?


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Awkward and Awesome Thursday

Here we are at Thursday again! It's almost Friday and after that, only one more week until Spring Break! I am finally starting to feel like a human being again after being sick most of the week. I still can't manage to shake this cough, though, and the drainage yuck is no fun either! I have also lost steam on the blog challenge, and I'm sorry about that. It's just that days 16 and 17 are a little more serious and I just haven't been feeling up to it. I may just have to do a mega-post that rolls a fews days into one so I can get back into the groove!

First things first! Let's get to the awkward and awesome:

-starting days with Dayquil and ending them with Nyquil. Living on medication is NO fun... I HATE being sick!!

-still trying to shake my cough from being sick, and hacking up a lung for (what seems like) minutes at a time in the middle of a lesson. The kiddos just stare at me like my eyeballs are about to pop out from coughing so much!

-(this probably borders on TMI, but I am pretty sure the only male that reads my blog is the hubby, so you ladies will have to forgive me!) ...bra shopping. I hate it so much, I never know my real size, and it is the single most frustrating experience EVER. I had to break down and do it this week, and almost an hour into it, I was ready to pull my hair out. Eventually the clouds parted and in a sing-song ::hallelujah:: moment, I found the right size/style for me. But any shopping experience where I break a sweat and have to refrain from using foul language is a not-so-fun one for me!

-even though both me and my man were feeling awful this week, at least we stuck it out together. ;) I pulled the potato soup out of the freezer, and it was soooo amazingly yummy, even after a couple weeks in the freezer. I know you are all sick to death of hearing about this soup, but trust me, it's worth talking about! Plus, it's what my mom always made for us kiddos when we weren't feeling well, so it really hit the spot to have some all ready to go! :)

-shopping with the hubs on Saturday. :) Not only did I have him all to myself, he let me drag him all over town... we had a blast! He was like a kid in a candy store at the PGA golf store. We were there for over an hour and left with some golf clubs and a new bag... success! :) 

-Our other finds of the day were also quite awesome, so lemme share a few! 

I just love Ross. It's such a great store to find a good, cheap deal! In our visit this time, we found a gorgeous wooden cutting board (I have been wanting a nice one for awhile now) and the coolest tea tray for my beautiful cast iron teapot (D got me the teapot for our first Valentine's day together, back in 2005)! I got to use the wooden board to roll out my tortillas this week... it's so heavy and just a good, QUALITY cutting board! I love the different shades of wood in it! And I just a.d.o.r.e. the vintage world map on this tea tray! Together with the tea set, it perfectly compliments the bar area and makes it look so polished!

Another favorite "find a great deal" store of mine is TJMaxx. :) Look at the cute, cute apron Dave picked out for me! I LOVE it! I know the picture is bad, but the sun streaming in behind me hides the fact that I am wearing no makeup, so I am okay with the poor picture quality. ;) Let's just pretend it makes me look angelic, or something like that, k?
-another awesome: notice the sweet little headband in my hair? Can't see it? Here's a better shot of my new, little love:

Just HOW cute is that? I have another in a beautiful kelly green (except it's a sweet little bow) that I cannot wait to sport! I usually don't wear headbands due to the inevitable headache I get from where they pinch me behind the ears. These, however, are crocheted and go all the way around my head... amazingly comfortable and way too stinking cute!

-Speaking of lovely and cute, I received my first handmade "pretty" for the "Pretty Little Lovelies Club" TODAY! I am already wearing the ring and LOVING IT! I love that it's mustard yellow like my headband (can you tell I am trying to add that pop of color to my accessories?? I am sooo in love with this yellow)! Look, it was even packaged all precious just for me! I did a little happy dance at the mailbox when I saw it. :)

So there you have it, this week's awkwards and awesomes! I wish I could promise that I would be back in the next few days to catch up, but I am taking the 4th grade - 8th grade Science certification test on Monday morning... and let's just say I haven't done quite enough studying for it! So, most likely, I will return on Monday afternoon... hopefully with a post that will redeem my poor activity concerning blog challenge! Until next time, then! :)

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