Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Posing for the camera...taken by Em on 5/25/08.

Monday, May 26, 2008

It's official!

Woohoo..."B" and I are now officially engaged!
As my friends & family know, we recently surpassed the 3 years dating mark have been talking engagement/marriage/ring for a while now. So, as of noon time on Sunday, May 25th, "B" got down on 1 knee, shared his sentiments, and proposed to me. We both got a little teary-eyed (something I wasn't sure would happen since it wasn't a surprise, but he was just SO sweet). And I accepted! I'm grateful for "B"s concern that I should absolutely love my ring and his insistence that I should choose the ring I want. We ended up doing a lot of shopping, he had input, and we did A LOT of research on diamonds...a step that I highly recommend! In the end, we got a fantastic ring that fits me perfectly, in size, style, and personality. We both think so."B's" family has been impatient for this announcement, so "B" decided to have a little fun with it. On Sunday we went to a BBQ at his sister's house. I put the ring on the other hand and turned the diamond inward...because you know where they were going to look first!!! Then, when everyone got settled, I put it on my left hand to see how long it would take before anyone noticed. It took awhile but, when everyone found out the questions and excitement started to fly and "B" was so proud of himself that he fooled his family. :-)
At this point, I must give all thanks and praise to God for His faithfulness, even through my impatience. I can see some of the things God has been doing in "B" and I to fine-tune us and prepare us for marriage and for a lifetime with each other. But I guess it's always easier to see these things after the fact. Not so easy to see while your in the midst.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Frugal Friday - Something Intangible


When you think of being "frugal", what do you immediately think of? Right, $$$$ (cha-ching!) As my life gets more hectic with about a million things going on (okay a slight exaggeration, but that's what it feels like), I keep thinking about how I can be more frugal with my TIME. I haven't always been a good steward of my time, spending it watching TV, playing computer games, or just doing non-productive stuff. Now that I'm working long days at work including a long commute, house hunting, taking care of a foster kitty, etc, life is getting more busy and I find that when I don't use my time wisely, I feel frantic.

So, my Frugal Friday tip this week is about time. How can I make myself more productive (other than making about 3 clones of myself, that is)? The first step is to identify personal "time-wasters". That will likely be different for everyone, though we may all have some in common. Mine are as I've just mentioned: (1) too much TV time; (2) too many computer games; (3) not doing other other things when I'm on the telephone; (4) being inefficient with how I run errands. I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Next step is to determine a plan of action for how to minimize personal "time-wasters". I'm not saying cut them out completely as, just like food, that can cause a compulsion to "binge". My plan of action for each is as follows: (1) gradually reduce TV time time and computer games; (2) be productive while on the telephone (e.g. wash dishes, iron clothes, clean the toilet, the possibilities are endless); and (3) write down my errands each week and determine what I can group together to be more efficient.

So, that's my plan. What's yours? Oh, added bonus: depending on what your time-wasters are and your plan of action, you may find that you end up being more financially and environmentally frugal as well. Example: by combining errands, I can save gas and a little less pollution; by watching less TV, I can reduce electricity consumption.

Don't forget to check out Dirkey's blog for all the other Frugal Friday tips! I hope everyone has a fantastic and relaxing holiday weekend (in the U.S., that is :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

This is me at work for the past few weeks. This long weekend can't come soon enough!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I've been tagged by Dirkey to list 10 weird or random facts or habits about myself. So, here goes...
  1. My last year of college I played on the Women's Rugby Team in the position of hook, more affectionately known as the "hooker". We had a fantastic year and made it to the Regional championships, where I believe we came in 2nd. I wish I would have joined the team earlier because it was a great experience.
  2. I didn't get the joy of going to a theme park or riding a roller coaster until I was 22, on our Rugby team's trip to Six Flags Great America in San Jose. I have since had a love affair with roller coasters and try to get on them at least once a year.
  3. I'm a pretty crafty person, but my all time favorite craft is crochet. There was a period a year or so ago that I crocheted around 7 or 8 blankets in the course of a year. When I decided to take a few months off, I actually went into withdrawals!!! Well, at least it's a healthy addiction:)
  4. In the 30 or so crochet projects I've worked on over the years, the only thing I've ever made for myself is a washcloth...and that was just a few weeks ago.
  5. I, like MamaK, LOVE shoes!!! I used to be a straight loafer girl, but then I found DSW and it's all been downhill from there. Now I can't get my feet into enough pairs of fun shoes. My favorites are Steve Madden (for his classic funk) and LifeStride (for their comfort).
  6. I love to cook for others (my boyfriend, friends, family, etc.), but no so much for myself. I hate spending a bunch of time cooking a meal, then eating it by myself.
  7. My all time favorite food is Mexican. REAL Mexican, not Tex-Mex, or Southwestern...I'm talking handmade tortillas and the like. Authentic Mexican restaurants are difficult to find on the East coast, but I've lucky enough to find a few...yummy!
  8. I hate, no, absolutely DETEST the game of Monopoly. We had family game night when I was a teen and I was made to stay up till all hours of the night to play Monopoly, which I knew I wouldn't win (I don't think I ever did). So I doubt that I'll ever play Monopoly again until, perhaps, when I have kids and I can play the non-wheeling and dealing type of game:)
  9. I love to travel to other countries and experience different cultures and different kinds of food. I've had the great privilege to try all sorts of different foods, albeit not always so tasty. I've had zebra, eland, crocodile, horse, goat, lotus flower, octopus (sort of), and lots of other weird stuff. And in every country I visit I absolutely MUST try the ice cream. My favorite ice cream was in Italy...gelato...mmmmmm!
  10. I love to paint rooms in houses. I don't know why, maybe it's the fumes, but I find it relaxing and fun.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Frugal Friday - small savers


This week I just have a couple quick small savers. Neither of these will save oodles of $$$; however, if a bunch of small money savers are implemented, it can make a big difference over time.

When to use cash and when to use credit at the gas pump?
Well, it depends. If you use credit to purchase gas, make sure you are using ones with rewards programs (like cash back or frequent flyer miles, etc.). Otherwise, it actually saves you more to pay with cash, if the station offers a discount for paying cash. For example, using Discover can actually save you at least 2x what paying cash would because of their cash back program.

So, when is it better to pay with cash? If you spend a lot of time on the road and use either a debit card or credit card without a rewards program then you could probably save more by paying cash at the pump. Even though using your debit card is the same as cash, it tends to be treated as credit, so you would end up paying more $$$. I typically pay for just about everything using "cash" (physical cash or debit) and save credit purchases for larger or online purchases. I'm going to switch to cash for now so I can save the few cents each time I fill up. Since I have over a 30 mile commute each date (one way) and I visit my boyfriend every other weekend, who is over 80 miles away, and I visit friends once in awhile who also live a bit of a distance, that all adds up. I figured that with my basic weekly driving alone (not counting visits to friends or special trips), I could save around $100/year by doing this. I'm also going to look into switching to a credit card with a better rewards program.

It's funny that Dirkey's post was along similar lines of paying cash. I started this last night, then debated whether or not to post but I decided to go ahead. My brain is too tired to try to think of another Frugal Friday tip:)

Home playdough & cookie cutters:
I don't have many memories of my maternal grandmother, but one of my favorite memories is her making us kids her homemade playdough. Just writing about it I can smell it. Why pay for playdough from the store and all the nifty cutters, when kids will be just as thrilled to have homemade playdough with cookie cutters. I found some great playdough recipes on line. My grandmother always made uncolored playdough, which was great. But I love that the recipe on the link actually has ways to color the playdough. BONUS - Not only will you save a little $$$, but homemade playdough is easier to clean up than store bought and you will know what's in it!

Again, I realize neither of these tips is going to save you oodles of $$$, but every little bit counts, right?!?

Weekly Weigh In

I'm a little bummed that I didn't lose anything more this week. I still have 9 lbs to go to meet my goal of 10 by June 15. My weekly update is about the same as last week (except no cookie binge this week), so I really need to work on those areas I'm struggling with, which are:
  1. Exercise abs and arms 6 days a week: I only did this once this week. I WILL do better next week!!!
  2. Resistence exercises at least 2 days a week: I have a program that has worked fabulously in the past, but I've been struggling to be motivated to exercise in the evenings (long work days and all!) I think if I could get into this habit, I will see the best results.
  3. No more than one bite sized candy per day: I caved on this a bit this week...lots of chocolate cravings, so I think I had ~2-3 a day.!!!
I'm still doing great in the following areas:
  1. Walk (briskly) at least 3 days/wk (total of at least 2-1/2 hrs/wk): Exceeded this goal this week, despite having a few rainy days, like today (yuck!).
  2. Eat more fruits and vegies: I'm still eating LOTS more fruits and vegies. Ate salad for lunch all but one day this week but, I gotta say...I'm getting tired of salad. I need to get creative in how to get my raw vegies in without eating a salad. Any suggestions?

I'm hoping for some better results next week and am committed to meet more than just 2 of my weekly goals.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

A collage painted by my sister...beautiful!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

For all the Moms out there, this one's for you

I heard about this article on the radio today. Although many (if not all) of my regular readers know that the value/worth of a mother is absolutely priceless, I think it's worth sharing this article. It's interesting what has done. They have calculated what SAHMs and working moms would get paid for their "mom" duties...IF they actually got paid. LOL.

Read the whole article and you'll see how many hours moms work each week. It puts a little perspective around how much the moms out there (working and stay at home) actually do for their families and children. This is just ONE of the many reasons we need to celebrate and thank our mothers on Mother's Day!

I have always believed that the most important job in the world is being a mom. I'm not even a mom yet! Although this article is just concrete dat and doesn't capture all of what any mom does, I'm hoping that by sharing it here we can open the eyes of the people who think SAHMs have it easy.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Keeping it Simple - new recipe

I stumbled on a recipe this week and, in the process of making it created my own. The recipe was for Salmon with potatoes, peas, and tarragon. Well, I didn't have any tarragon in the house (can't remember ever cooking with it) and I reduced the amounts, but didn't keep track so the potatoes and peas turned out a little funky. Still working on that recipe and will post once I have it perfected.

However, I decided to use the seasoning for the potato/pea combination and put it on the salmon, substituting dill for the tarragon. All I can say is...YUMM-EE!!! Best salmon I've ever made! So here's what I did...measurements will depend on # of fillets you cook.

6 oz salmon fillets
minced garlic cloves (~ 1/fillet)
lemon zest
dill weed (fresh or dried)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Mince lemon zest and combine in a bowl with garlic and dill. Salt and pepper the salmon to taste. Pat the lemon/dill seasoning on the salmon.

3. Put olive oil in a stove top AND oven-safe skillet or dish. Heat oil on high until nearly smoking hot. Put seasoned salmon in the skillet and sear on both sides.

4. Put the salmon in the preheated oven and bake until cooked through (6-10 minutes, depending on # of fillets).

This is an incredibly quick and easy recipe that is scrumptious and healthy! Doesn't get much better than this.

Food for thought

Over the past month, I've known or heard of so many people who have been experiencing loss, struggles, and/or pain. Then today I received a random forward from a friend, with quote:

'When You're Down to Nothing, God's up to Something'

I just thought it was pretty cool, and oh so true.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Use what ya got


My Frugal Friday tip this week is somthing I'm trying to do more of. It's simply this...when planning your menus, use what you have and/or only buy ingredients that will get all used up. This will also avoid waste. Before I started focusing on this, I would find a recipe that sounded yummy, I would buy the stuff to make it, and there would be leftover ingredients which would ultimately spoil because they were not ingredients I commonly cooked with.

Try to avoid planning menus that use ingredients that you'll only use for one recipe. Leave those recipes for special occasions, entertaining, or making a special dinner for your special someone. Instead, cook using "core" foods in your pantry, in your fridge, and buy only those ingredients for which you can plan additional menus to use up any remaining portion. I like what says about using as much as possible that is in the fridge.

If you want to kick it up a notch try to "coordinate" your menu so that you end up using similar incredients in some of your dishes. It's kind of like coordinating your wardrobe so you can mix and match.

1 down, 9 to go

I've lost 1 lb since Friday, May 2nd. It's not much but it is one step closer to my goal to lose 10 lbs (or 1 dress size) by mid-June. So how did I do on the weekly goals? Here's the tally:

The good:
  • Walked 4 days for total of 2 hrs, 40 minutes
  • Ate LOTS more fruits and vegies, vegies being a huge feat for me. I ate salads for lunch M-F and kept it interesting by varying the kind of salad.
  • Only ate a couple bite-sized candies through the entire week, but see the "ugly" below.

The bad:

  • Only did abs and arms 2x this week (yikes)
  • Didn't do any resistance exercises (double yikes)

The ugly:

  • Even though I did well with the bite sized candies, I ate 3 homemade chocalate chip cookies today...bad, bad, bad!!!! I had no self-control, they just looked too good.

All in all, with the exception of the cookie-fest today, I have exercised more self-control, will power, and improved eating habits than in most of my life. If I can keep this up and improve on the resistance and toning exercises I think I'll be in line to meet my goal.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hopping on the bandwagon

My close friends KittenMom and Dirkey have both been working on trimming up. With a short vacation to Florida coming up in June, I've decided to hop on the bandwagon. I'll be weighing in on Fridays, along with the others, with the goal to lose 10 pounds (from my weight on May 2) or 1 dress size by June 15th. That may seem like a small amount but the pounds don't just melt off me, even when I'm doing everything right. So, I'm going to be tracking myself against the following weekly goals:
  1. Walk (briskly) at least 3 days a week for a total of at least 2-1/2 hours per week.
  2. Exercise abs and arms 6 days a week.
  3. Resistence exercises at least 2 days a week.
  4. Eat more fruits and vegies.
  5. No more than one bite sized candy per day.
If I follow the above diligently, hopefully I'll be successful in meeting my goal.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Welcome Sheba!

Welcome to my new furry friend, Sheba!
I've only had her a few hours, but she has already stolen my heart. Sheba has adjusted very well and is making my home her own. She is curious about all the new sounds, sights and smells and she's quite the mouser.
She is EXTREMELY affectionate and I would definitely have to classify her as a lap cat. We're enjoying some bonding time now. Makes it a bit tough to type this out on my laptop, though:)
Isn't she sweet? And just look at that precious spot on her nose!
If you know of anyone who may be looking to adopt a cat, Sheba would make a perfect pet!

New Addition!

It has been a very lonely few weeks in my house without my "Copper" around :( So, now that the overwhelming grief period is over and I've experienced the joys of mice, I finally signed up to be a foster parent to a cat. I get my first foster cat tonight and I'm so excited that I'll have a furry friend again.

She is a 9-month old female calico named Sheba. It's actually a bit eerie because my aunt had a calico cat named Sheba...WEIRD!!! She just got spayed last week so I'm not exactly sure what to expect, but I'm still excited. I hear that she is very lovable, my favorite kind:) When I get her, I'll post pics and a little more about the organization.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Frugal Friday - brown bag it


My Frugal Friday tip is a quickie that most of us know, but many times either get too busy or plain forget to actually implement...bringing a "brown bag" lunch to work.

Brown bagging it can save loads of $$$, especially if you work in an expensive area. I work in Center City Philadelphia where the average salad can costs ~$10!!! I'm typically very good about packing my snacks but I've gotten a little lazy about packing my lunch. So now I'm on a mission to pack a lunch at least 4 days of the work week...I'll allow myself a "treat" on the other day.

In addition to the $$$ savings, when you pack your lunch you'll find that you will eat healthier. You have greater control over portion size and content which for me are the 2 biggest factors to maintaining my weight and eating healthy. So, if you work outside the home don't forget to pack your lunch.

And thanks to Dirkey for her Frugal Friday favorite so far. I, too, have been on missions trips and have seen the unthinkable, but I find myself constantly slipping back into the daily humdrum of life and forgetting the emotional impact of seeing people who literally have nothing. Thanks for the reminder Dirkey!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Tall & the Small

Today, as usual, I took a walk at lunch. I was walking at my usual brisk pace when I noticed a man up ahead. He was absolutely ENORMOUS. Not too much overweight, just incredibly tall. At my slight height of 5'0", most everyone is tall. But this guy must have been pushing 8 feet tall! As I got closer, I noticed that my nose came up to about his waist and the tops of his legs were probably at about my shoulder. As I was walking next to him for a minute or so, I realized how funny it must have looked with the two of tall and one small. What struck me as even crazier is that, even with his legs being about twice as long as mine, I still passed him!!!

So it got me thinking about how we all see the world a little differently, from our own perspectives. When I climb on a stepladder or a chair, I get to see the world from a tall person's eyes...the physical anyways. So I thought how much different the world must look from the eyes of a "giant". Just a little food for thought.