Monday, July 30, 2012

Make: Quick, Healthy, Cheap Meals. (you're welcome)

I suppose I've been consolidating these sources for awhile and haven't been sharing (how rude of me). But I have gathered quite the collection of quick, healthy, and cheap meals via our BFF- The Internet. So without further adieu...

A Year of Slow Cooking

  • Whats that you say? You don't have a crock pot? GO TO TARGET NOW. NOW. NOW. Or craigslist. Whatever you do, get one asap because the >$20 investment will save you tons of moola in the end. 
  • Por Ejemplo: place frozen chicken breasts in crock pot. Cover with 3/4 cup teriyaki sauce. Cook on low for 6 or high for 4. EAT. This is what Im saying. Sundays have become my slow cooker day and give me at least 4 servings which I can eat for dinner or lunch the next few days or freeze for much later (like soups. Try taco soup. You will die. And its literally opening cans and pouring them in)
  • If you are really smart you can turn it on before bed and wake up with lunch for the next day! Or do it in the morning and come home to the house smelling of garlic chicken and all you have to do is EAT. 
  • All fresh, tons of healthy recipes, if you add a whole grain and steam some veggies you even get a double dose of healthy. 

  • Now I haven't tried this yet, besides making a big crock of vegan soup every once in awhile and freezing for nights when I don't have dinner (plus its cheaper and healthier then those low cal canned soups and $3/can), BUT I hear from valuable sources its time consuming for one weekend and then you're set for potentially even longer then a month depending on how much you eat. Wow right?
  • they have meal plans for all kinds of diets that come out every season and have dishes according to whats in season, do all the grocery lists for you auto adjustable by #of people, give you a schedule for your day of cooking to really utilize your time, and it covers almost 100% of meals (not just dinners). PLUS the meal planning everything is FREE, and the ingredients aren't expensive or difficult. 
  • they even have weight watchers plans, vegetarian, 10 day vegan, whole foods, and baby food. 
  • I know. Lets do it NOW. 

  • I found out about these from Hungry Girl which is an all around amazing site, but these suckers you literally just put the ingredients into some tin foil, wrap them up, and cook. Out comes a complete, delicious, healthy meal in usually less then 30min! 
  • Once again, if you want to add grains those are really quick and healthy to make even if you don't have a rice cooker
  • There are lots on her website, just search "foil pack". One could even make 4 at a time and have meals for a few days...just saying. 

  • This is highly recommended by Dave Ramsey, friends of mine, and even my family! We've been doing it for a few weeks now and love it. 
  • Pay $5/month for a month of weekly meal plans customizable by diet choice (includes low fat, vegetarian, no processed foods, low carb, etc.) for a week of dinners for 2-3 people at $50/week
  • Every month also connects to whats in season, gives you a grocery list, and connects the meals so what you buy you use throughout the week on more then one meal. Meals take less then 30min to make and we've found to be really creative. 
  • So lets see, if you're single and save the other half of the dinners for lunch, you do this and buy your snacks/breakfasts for under $20. Thats $70 or less per week on healthy groceries and meals!
Protein Shakes, tubs of plain yogurt, frozen fruit, almond milk...
I can't tout these breakfast life savers enough. Every morning I quickly blend my hemp protein with some unsweetened almond milk and half a banana or frozen fruit. Tubs of plain yogurt (soy in my case), the other half of the banana cut up in it, and a titch of agave I have around 10a. High protein and little to no carbs until dinner has greatly increased my energy at work too. Plus the hemp protein I use is $20/month...almond milk a few bucks...bananas $1/pound...and buying the tubs of yogurt instead of individual cups saves money too. I get away with about $1.50-$2.00 on my breakfasts/morning snacks this way! 

Frozen Chicken breasts, frozen organic veggies...
Whenever chickens on sale I buy a bit extra and just freeze it to use for another time. You can get a few meals worth of chicken for a couple of bucks. I try and keep some always on hand so a healthy meal is always an option instead of take out or easy but heavy spaghetti. Did you know frozen vegetables are often considered healthier then even buying local produce? Why? Because they are flash frozen right after being picked and retain more of their nutrients this way while the local produce had to be shipped and sit in the store. Whenever frozen organic vegetables are on sale I buy a few and when cooking grains in my cooker, just stick em right into the steamer on top. BOOM- DINNER.

Love for the BULK SECTION...
Find a local Sprouts/Henrys, co-op, or wherever in your area sells things in bulk because OH MAN does it shave off a lot of cost. Lets see, $3 for a tiny box of cous cous...or $3 for a HUGE bag of cous cous...lets do the math on that one. Also great for when you're baking and only need a little bit of something. I like to keep a big bag of brown rice and a cans of beans in my cupboards at all times just in case its toward the end of the pay period and I've somehow run out of food.

I am sure after boyfriend and baby cake come I'll have even more perspective since my time will be somehow even more limited. But for now these are all serving me rather well. Also keep an eye out for special "Ad" days, coupons, promotions, etc. Every little bit counts.  You're welcome.



Friday, July 27, 2012

A Home of Ones Own (Big News!)

Well some lovely things have occurred!! 

After not hearing from the potential room mates all week. And boyfriend beginning the paperwork for his extra off base pay he gets a month before he starts work January 10th, and again hinting, "well you could just live with meeeeeee". I finally made the decision I am sure you all knew was coming (but I didn't!!).

This winter, boyfriend and I have decided to live together. 




But heres what happened. I thought through the backlog of reasons I had for not wanting to...and realized I was being kind of ridiculous. So in an effort to explain myself, here are the reasons I initially didn't want to and how I rebutted them in the end (yay adult self).

Reason 1: If we live together our parents won't approve and we don't want to be disrespectful.
Over the last few weeks oddly enough both of our parents have separately suggested we consider living together to save money, help with baby cake, and prepare financially for our future. Just now I told my parents and they were a little worried about how things were going to go with the recent baby mama drama which is understandable, but then my mother said "well, I would prefer if you didn't live together" just based on their old school values to which I replied, "yeah well I'm almost 28...not 20...and an adult so..."

Reason 2: My friends and family won't take it as seriously when we get engaged and married.
This one is funny since it just suddenly occurred to me that I take ALL of my friends weddings seriously and am SO EXCITED about them pledging their love for a lifetime together if they lived together for 2 weeks before or 2 years this is a ridiculous reason. AND the only reason we're waiting to get married is that bf wants his two best friends there who are deployed until spring 2014 and we want to save money so we can have an awesome wedding. Perfectly valid reasons. Plus, if people want to be judgmental they dont have to come. People who really love you - aren't judgmental.

Reason 3: Boyfriend will already be adjusting to a new city, new job, having his son full time, and being back in America. I don't want to add another stressful element and risk ruining something between us. 
Now this one was very legit and my main reason for not wanting to live together before we were at least engaged (knowing I'd be engaged by the literally a few months after he gets here...hahaha). I told boyfriend this again recently and he really just laid it out for me. Made it so simple. Don't you think if anything it'd make it easier for me to adjust...having you to come home to?Already if I've had a bad day I call and talk to you about it and calm you will get to actually BE THERE. And it'd make our lives less stressful because we'd be saving money, not having to go back and forth, and you'd always be around to help with baby bear" etc. 

He was right.

When I let myself actually think about living with him? SO EXCITED. And when I vetted "the worst that can happen"...oh darn we break up and I have to move out? It would be hard, but come on, I have an adult job and can do my own thing if I need to. I have found learning to think and live co-dependently with him has been much harder then when its just me. Difficult for me to let go of my "I'm a strong single woman!" security blanket.

The hardest part actually wasn't telling my parents who hear me talk to him for hours every night, see how happy I am everyday, hear about our wedding plans, and met him when he was here in January. Nope, the hardest part was telling the girls. My girls who have never met or even talked to him I know must worry. I get so anxious thinking about what they must think about my "crazy" decision...but know its just their perspective. And its a valid one. Just from a place of love. And that they want the best for me. Plus they don't really ever say it outright in their out loud voice, so I know they are trying. I know everyone will love him though. I am genuinely not worried about it at all. And it seems so normal to bf and I to just jump right into all the social things I already do with everyone...we forget how everyone else is going to feel having never met him or spent time with us together. In a nutshell, its as awesome as I am alone...10x more awesome somehow. We have SO MUCH fun.

So since we decided yesterday (don't know how I made it through work all day) I've been looking at places we'll be able to afford now with both of our incomes, how much we'll be able to save each month (OMG SO MUCH), and made a big list of all the things we already have and a list of things we need to for sure get before we move in, then a list of things we can get soon after but aren't imperative. TOLD YOU I was getting my life organized. Now that I've decided to "sacrifice" and live at home for a few more months the money I get to save I can put toward all the things we need...the trip we want to take...paying off debt...savings...OH MAN! PLUS the thought just occurred to me that if we move somewhere walking distance to a train station I can take public transit to work everyday and we could live with one car to save even more money.


But besides money. Of course we are all lovey dovey about everything too. Waking up with him everyday...eating dinner together...talking in person, instead of skype...even just getting to watch movies together and snuggle. We don't take anything for granted. Simple things like that are so special to us because we haven't really been able to do them much over the last year. Plus all of our plans for trips to Palm Springs, Vegas, Arizona to visit his brother, Europe, Belize, Brazil...we have a long list that's completely doable to us. Even with baby bear. I am so happy.

I feel like everything was so hard for so long with my mom being sick, not being able to find work, money stress, family deaths, frustrated with my relationships with men. Just so many things. I am SO HAPPY now but struggle to ignore the nagging "don't get used to this. Its going to suck again soon". I am finally beginning to let it go and doesn't have to be can be ok and can really truly be beautiful. Not going to lie, boyfriend has helped a lot. Not because I finally have a real one...but more because I know when the shit storm does come again I have the emotional and financial support just in case. Security. But again, accepting it after being "single independent woman!" for so long is happening slowly.

Gosh, I should probably start writing more again.



Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I have been inspired!

After reading from a few friends about Dave Ramesy's amazing budget and how its changed their life, de cluttering your stuff so you are more efficient and happy, and adding a dose of watching The Biggest Loser I am inspired. (I promise they are all somewhat connected)

This weekend I have another lovely bridal shower to go to and then am dedicating it to spending some time de cluttering my room, car...and maybe even attempting the pile of boxes in the garage. I am also starting Dave Ramsey's budget plan to save and pay off my debt (boyfriend is on board too!) so we can have a life together soon that isn't stressed over money. My incentive is our wedding...wanting a house...being able to someday stay home with our kids because we won't have piles of debt to pay each month. And just less stress in general.

Finally, I have gotten a handle on my diet and cooking these last few days and am on board with weight watchers so I will be using part of my next paycheck to buy...wait for it...real running shoes.


I might try and start walk/jogging.

I wont say run because then I'll freak myself out.

So here is to being an adult!!!!

(most likely this will be followed by a post about how I epically failed and spent the weekend watching Dawsons Creek and drinking excessively...but lets have a little hope)



Monday, July 23, 2012

Sweet Things.

Oh my how the summer has just flown by. I can't believe its already almost August and the summer ending sales have begun. I will be sad to see the summer months go, but always look forward to September and October when the tourists leave and our real locals-only summer begins. Plus I can't lie that autumn and the impending change in weather just reminds me I am only 4 months away from my love being here with me forever and that is more than enough to keep me thrilled.

Of course theres been drama, wouldn't be dating a man with a baby mama and not have drama to talk about. Most recently it would appear that she stole boyfriends identity to get a cell phone and didn't pay the bill so when he tried to apply for a credit card and got denied...he was hit was a $2000 bill he didn't even know about. So theres a warrant out for her arrest. Which means if she gets pulled over for anything she'll be pulled in, and if any job or place run a check on her it will come up. Either way when it comes time to go to court in the winter and get custody- we can now for sure count on a win. I say this all with a heavy heart because...who wants to have to go through this? Its been so stressful for both of us, tough to stick with our decision to file the police report, and of course we always worry about baby cake. We're now really wondering if she's on drugs because of the constant lying and stealing...and hate having to HOPE she gets pulled in so boyfriend can come home and we can rescue that little bug. His family have been really helpful checking in with the little guy and already plan on having him stay with them if needed, so at least theres that. But its just a lot to take in. And always a lot for me to sign up for. But we push on and continue to make sweet plans for our future together once they are here. We can't believe we're down to four months. It's been over a year since I met him and we first gallivanted in Bratislava together. So other than her drama, we're always ok and happy and in love and can't wait to really start our lives together.

Lately boyfriend and I have even had baby fever! Even though I am on the pill, when our condoms broke while in Mississippi (like 4 of them, really?!) we got a bit "worried". Mostly because of the obvious, he already has a very unplanned son who although is the light of his life, would rather not have happen again. Then when I didn't get my period of course we were a bit more worried. But oddly enough, we started to let ourselves actually think about it and then being afraid turned into, "actually, that'd be awesome!" He wants a big family and I think is more ready than I am for one, probably because hes already got the ball rolling with baby bear and I have to admit...that little buddy IS awesome and made both of us crave more cakes together. Finally I just took a test that eased my mind and we both felt such a mix of emotions. We were glad that this wasn't how we had to have a baby...him being gone, not married yet, havent been together that long, etc. But also kind of sad because we'd finally let ourselves get a little excited. I am getting an IUD before he gets back so no more issues with condoms breaking and stress about it until we're really least not until we're married in 2 years. But hes so hilarious about it all, "well I am from the south, if we like something we knock it up obviously!" hehehe. It didn't help that yesterday my aunt and uncle had their baby!!!!

Isn't he so perfect?!?! A miracle I tell you! Obviously I sang him songs. I dont know why my face looks like I just woke up in the picture...oh yeah I do, because I drank 5+ gin and tonics the day before in the pool- win. 

After two horrible traumatic pregnancies before this one, all of us were holding our breath until he was out and ok and perfect. Everyone got a bit emotional. Hes already so sweet, doesn't even cry when hes hungry. He woke up toward the end so we got to see his big grey eyes and move around his little lips looking for dinner. Obviously this did not help said baby fever. 

But I am not ready- I want to do my career and travel more, enjoy my time with boyfriend before our lives change forever. So we'll put baby fever to rest for now and pick back up in 2 years after theres a ring on it...and my work will cover maternity leave. 

In other news, I went to look at a room in a house in my favorite part of north county yesterday! Two other professional people my age in a cute 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom granny flat type of thing. My room would be a little odd with almost all windows and no real closet...but its a BIG place, everything is fully furnished by them in the shared spaces, none of the rooms connect to each other so theres a lot of privacy, and theres a huge backyard with legit fruit trees and a BBQ area. Bella would even have a little doggie buddy and doggie door so she could just frolic and play. Really great opportunity- I hope they liked me. Only caveat is that I know they interviewed like 8 people the day who knows what other awesome people there were. So we'll see. For now I am just saving money and not stressing about it, if it works out it works out, if not then I'll just save and keep paying off debt until I find another good fit. Sometimes living with boyfriend when he gets back is SO appealing. And he really really wants me to. And MY PARENTS and HIS PARENTS even suggested we do it to save money! OUR conservative parents!! Ridiculous. I am just genuinely worried with his adjustment to his old job, being back in America and a new city, having baby full time, AND THEN adding a live in girl friend suddenly? Just seems like recipe for "how to end a perfectly good relationship in 1 easy step". But then he brought up the point last night, "but babe, don't you think it would help me to have you around supporting me? Helping me with getting things together? Helping me with little buddy? I dont see how anything bad could happen!". We'll see what happens. If I get this place I'm taking it, if not and I dont find anything else by then I might reconsider once he puts a ring on it. 

And so we conclude. More updates to come on if I get the place and what happens with cray.

Until then,



Make: Beverages

After gaining 10lbs over the last year or so and being in the process of getting back on track, I am continuing to really try and pump the water everyday to flush out toxins, keep me hydrated, healthy, etc. I will say that when I initially cut out diet coke, coffee, and pretty much anything else besides water and green tea I did lose a little extra water weight and had more energy! Now I think its been a few years and I've evened out, but other then a random diet coke now and then I've been on this water and green tea kick for quite awhile. But lets face it, water gets SO boring and I start to lose it by 3pm everyday at the office nowadays. I was literally falling asleep at my desk today. SO Heres some of my current favorite summer water fresheners! Enjoy.

Hope your summers been as sweet as mine.



Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Full Life.

While I lived abroad I sensed I missed my life back here in socal...but couldn't really remember what filled all of my time besides evenings making dinner and watching TV with Annie. Which, although fun from time to time, couldn't have possibly warranted me missing home so very much. But I just knew getting drunk and dancing with acquaintances every weekend wasn't enough. FUN?! YES. But real? Sadly, No. 

I suppose I eased back into it all being unemployed and poor which kept me from doing as many things as I'd like, but now I feel like I've just hit the ground running- my life is so full! After work dinners, movies, happy hours with friends or jazz in the park on Fridays...all of these weddings and pre-wedding activities fill my weekends, BBQs, movies in the park nights, family stuff, much! I haven't been taking nearly enough pictures to capture my sweet spring and summer back home, but spending time with everyone doing everything I've missed has been so wonderful. This is what I missed.

I finally crashed after this weekend and felt so overwhelmed by all of the laundry, cooking, errands, and cleaning I hadn't had time to do in over a week. Work has been busy and stressful with my bosses taking turns being out of town, BUT next week should be less hectic. I've planned less social things in the evenings and now that work is getting busier I need to be realistic about my energy levels after work and during weekends. Relaxing at home talking on the phone or skyping with boyfriend I'm finding I need to set aside time for otherwise I end up missing our talking time and get fussy by the end of the week. Doesn't help when our schedules are opposite for most of the rest of the month either :( I just can't wait until he is here. My life is so full and wonderful now, once he is actually HERE I can't even imagine how much more amazing everything is going to be! We have so much fun together. It's going to be so sweet to be able to take him with me to friend and family things- we're just thrilled.

Next Sunday I go interview a new potential house to live in! I found two young people my age looking to rent out a room in a house a few blocks from the Encinitas 101 area I'm dying to live near. It's right in my price range and the girl has a little dog who can be Bellas boyfriend too! They both seem very nice, normal, social, and fun people so I am hoping there isn't much competition and I can move in September 1st. Perks include an ocean view, big backyard with a BBQ, its all already furnished and has a tv and such so I don't have to buy anything else until boyfriend and I get married, the room is bigger than I've had in a few years, the guy works at a wine bar down the street, and the girl works at the little private airport! How fun are they?!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Make: Summer Salad

Let me begin with a YOU'RE WELCOME for the following aHmazing recipe for your summer repertoire. Its freakishly healthy, fresh, filling, easy, and cheap. So much so- I'll admit I was a little shocked at how tasty it is too!

Without further adieu: 

Mango Quinoa Salad


  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 mango
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 cucumber
  • avocado
  • 1 can of black beans rinsed
  • 3 Tb. finely chopped chives
  • 2 Tb. fresh lemon juice (real lemons! do it!)
  • Salt to taste
1. Cook quinoa according to directions (or in rice cooker BOOM!).
2. Chop everything then mix together.

I originally got the recipe here, but added the avocado and beans to make it a complete meal.  I also doubled everything so I could have it for lunches this week. If storing, I would put the "watery" vegetables and fruit into separate bags or tupperware and add to the mix right before eating so it doesn't make everything else soggy (cucumber, mango, tomato). I would also recommend making this the day you buy all of the ingredients and trying to get them as local as possible for freshness- this is FULL of flavor! Also, I may have a new obsession with quinoa, but see why from the all knowing wikipedia:

In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (18%). Nutritional evaluations of quinoa indicate that it is a source of complete protein.[14][15]Furthermore, it is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa also provides a significant source of calcium, and thus is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.[16][17] Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Mrs. Needy Pants.

As I've mentioned before, coming back home after my sweet time with Mr. Boyfriend has been tough. It's been almost a month and I still find myself tearing up in the car on the way home from something he should have been at with me. Or at these countless summer weddings I find myself at. Even couples being affectionate with each other tightens this growing knot in my chest. It wasn't this bad before I saw him and we had such a perfect time together. It was 8 unbelievable days of, "we get to do this for the rest of our lives?!" And then back to the reality of his internet not working...or the phones being the mail isn't working...I have to wait for him to call and if I miss it then thats it- because I can't call him back. We make it work and talk everyday unless something odd happens and we're both busy. But it never feels like enough. We'll fall asleep talking and wake up missing each other already. It's hard to explain. But it hurts. And 5 more months feels like years. I just want this part to be over. I guess being on the downhill has its disadvantages- seeing the finish line make it feel farther.

Tuesday night was rough. Due to our busy schedules (and the catch 22 of me trying to stay busy so I don't get sad, but then end up missing evenings usually spent talking to him) Tuesday evening rolled around and we hadn't gotten to talk for more then ten minutes here and there since Sunday. I was getting happy hour and then going out with friends when he calls. We were both drunk and SO EXCITED to talk even just for a few minutes until he tells me what he spent his day doing. I am missing him ALL DAY and usually we talk on the phone or chat at work but I hadn't heard from him. Then he tells me he spent the day watching "our show" with another female friend of his and drinking Slovak beer with her. I lost it. Not in a jealous way because I know they are totally just friends, but just in a why is that not me right now?! I HATE THIS- way. I outright told him I was jealous but was glad he was hanging out with someone since he doesn't really get along with anyone else there after his friend had to leave. THEN the next night he spent talking to her at a party they were hosting all night too. I know they're just friends but I told him this wasn't going a good direction. "Girls are crazy babe, even if you keep talking about your awesome girlfriend, don't flirt, and think you're just chillin it's not like that. She's going to think you're into her in a few weeks if you keep hanging out like this. I guarantee it." Come on- you know I'm right.

I chose not to stress about this. I know he loves me and doesn't think of her like that. It still has bothered me but I pretended like it didn't.

It took one day.

One day and I get:

"Hey baby, I've been thinking....and I am going to limit how much time I spend with this girl so she doesn't get the wrong idea. Because I love you don't want to mess this up. Ok?"

I was in Target at the time. I had to stop walking and teared up.

What did I do to deserve this man again? Who knows all of my needs without me having to say a word? Who loves me SO MUCH he is in a foreign country and still won't take risks. Who calls me when he gets home from going out so I know he's not with some girl. How am I this lucky again?