Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spicy macaroni and cheese

Last night Jack and I made one of my favorite macaroni and cheese dishes ever. I found this recipe on made by a user named pureice23,  it has become a staple in my family. It was actually one of the first recipes I made when I decided to learn how to cook. I make this frequently for family get togethers and parties and it is always a hit. I even made this once for my speech class when I had to do a "demonstration" speech. I taught the entire class how to cook it and then fed it to everyone they all loved it!

The recipe is very easy to make, the ingredients you will need are:

1 pkg medium shells
10 or more slices Turkey bacon we tried the recipe with regular bacon it is not nearly as good
1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 C of heavy cream
1/2 cup of half and half or you can use only half and half for lower calories, that's what I usually do
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Step 1: I usually start by cooking the bacon or at least getting it started. After it's been cooking for a couple minutes I put the water on to boil.

Step 2: When the water is boiling I pour in the shells and get started on the sauce.

Step 3: pour the entire bag of cheese in a small sauce pan set at medium to high heat, pour in the cream, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Continue stirring until all the cheese has melted and there is a creamy texture. *you want to make sure you put the paprika and cayenne pepper in at the very beginning. The recipe says to wait until you pour it over the shells, we tried this and it led to chunks of paprika and cayenne pepper in the shells which did not taste good at all*

Step 4: After the shells are cooked and the sauce is ready pour the bacon into the sauce then put it all on top of the shells and mix until evenly coated.

Jack has actually rated this one of his top 10 favorite meals that I cook. If you are nervous of the spiciness don't be, because it's really not that spicy it's more just a flavoring. Now however delicious this recipe is it is not low in fat and calories, however, it's not scary unhealthy either. The nutrition values are as follows based on one recipe having 5 servings, and that you use half and half compared to heavy cream:

661 calories
23g of fat
4g of fiber
30% of your protein
0% of your iron
62% of your calcium

If you'd like to add more nutrition to the meal you can use Ronzoni smart taste macaroni or penne, they don't offer Ronzoni shells. Ronzoni provides for 9g of fiber per serving so it is definitely worth it.

 This meal is great as an appetizer, a meal, a potluck, or a side dish at a dinner party. If you're looking for something easy and delicious to make this recipe is definitely a great idea.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kittens and heels what could be better?

Could possibly be the greatest photo ever. Kittens and heels two of my all time favorite things.

Easy Brunch Bake

Realizing how hard it is going to be to cook with a new baby I have been on a desperate hunt for meals that will allow me to cook away from the oven with a baby strapped to my chest. I have found several, but my all time favorite right now is the Easy Brunch Bake. I discovered this on Pinterest, of course, under a pin called 40 breakfast casseroles. This is by far the easiest and most delicious breakfast casserole ever. The best part is you can put any veggies you like in it. We stick to onions, garlic, and spinach and we find it's pretty perfect that way. To make it you will need.

1 pkg of stove top stuffing mix for chicken
3 cups of fat free milk
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry
1 cup KRAFT shredded sharp cheddar cheese (we usually add more)
4 whole eggs
4 slices OSCAR MAYER bacon crumbeled (again we usually use about 6-8)

After cooking the bacon you put all the ingredients in a giant casserole dish. This is going to look extremely soupy. You pop the dish in the oven that's set to 350 degrees and cook it for 40 minutes plus. You want the center to be cooked and the top to be brown. 

This is basically just a giant omelette, but the stuffing adds an incredible taste to it, it's like having eggs and toast in one dish!

Another amazing thing about this dish is it's pretty healthy for you too. If you split it up into 6 servings these are the results!

313 calories
16g of fat
2g of fiber
21g of protein
15% of your iron 
48% of your calcium
(If you're wondering where I get these calculations I put the recipes into my fitness pal and it gives me the results!)

My amazing friend Sam also made some good suggestions switching the regular bacon to turkey bacon and using egg whites instead of the whole eggs. The original recipe calls for two eggs and two egg whites.  I switched these things in my handy dandy calculator and the results are amazing!

267 calories
13g of fat
1g of fiber
16g of protein
12% of your iron
33% of your calcium

This is the website for the other 39 breakfast casseroles if anybody is interested.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fabulous and Free getaway

Jack and I had an amazing weekend. We had been wanting to take a trip and stay the night at a hotel so we could spend some quality time together before the baby gets here, but that involves money and with a baby on the way we need to save all the money we can. So we decided to instead drag our mattress into the living room, light a fire, and stay up all night watching movies. 


It was honestly so much fun we kept the mattress out all Saturday and watched all of the X-Men movies. Even though we were just staying in our living room it was still a blast, because it was different from the norm.

Bootsie also had fun at our sleepover in the living room.

Sunday was also fantastic as we had Jacks brother, sister, mother, and father over. His dad's birthday was this past week so to celebrate we had him come over so they could watch a Raider's game together something they rarely get to do, but possible now that we have the Sunday ticket. I made buffalo wings for the game, which was much more difficult than I originally planned. I wanted to make them in the slow cooker, because frying them would make a huge mess and take more standing around time something I don't have the energy to do these days. It took me forever to find directions on how to cook them, but I eventually figured it out. 

I used the same buffalo sauce recipe I used when making the buffalo balls. Since I was making twice the chicken i just doubled the recipe. I took a stick of butter melted it, then I sauteed some garlic, threw in a huge bottle of Frank's red hot, and this time I added a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. I put the frozen wings into the crockpot and poured the sauce on top.


Now the directions I found said that it was going to take 5 hours to cook so I put them in at 12pm to be ready for the 4 o'clock game. Well I'm not sure how those people were cooking it, but they did not take 5 hours to cook they took 45 minutes. I thought for sure it was going to be a total disaster, but every one said they came out delicious so I was very happy. The sauce smelt incredible, but I don't recommend cooking the wings this way. If you have a crockpot that has low/medium/high settings cook it on medium for the five hours unless you notice it's cooking too fast then turn it down to low, but if you have on that just switches from cooking to warm it will only take an hour to cook.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Here are some great photos to bring a smile to your face and to end the last ten minutes of your Friday right.

Mothers are amazing.

A mother and her babies

Three men who never met until a couple of years ago

We are the world

I know this is going to sound really cheesy, but I've noticed that there is more and more hate in the world everyday. It seems like with the rise of every sun people are coming up with more reasons to hate other people. Now, with all the social media I feel like it's getting extreme. People hate others because they are republican or democratic or rich or poor or don't know the difference between your and you're. It's honestly driving me mad. People are so cruel to others and why? Lord knows. I'm not going to pretend I'm innocent on this one either no one is. We all seem to hate some one for some thing. I'm not just talking about different groups of people either I'm talking about countries hating countries races hating races religions hating other religions. I know that things like war and hate are just in our nature and there's really no one to blame for it, but I wish that for just one day, 24 hours, we could all just put aside our differences and say "hey we are all in this together, we share this world, so let's take the day to appreciate each other, enjoy the presence of those we may hate, and maybe just maybe learn to not hate them as much as we do.

Last year I came up with this idea that I would love to make a reality, but realize that since I'm no celebrity and have no large connections it would be very hard to do. However, I might be able to get it going on a much smaller scale. My dream is for a huge group of mixed people to get together, hold hands, and sing "We are the World".....okay so maybe we don't have to sing "We are the World" but the holding hands thing is a must. 

I have it all pictured in my head to; Romney and Obama will hold hands and on Obama's other side will be a republican and on Romney's other side will be a democrat. Hipsters will have to hold hands with the 1%, every one will have to hold the hand of those they hate the most. Just for that day they will forget about why they hate the other and instead learn more about them rather than the fact that they make 1 billion dollars a year or are have a different political view. We'd all learn about those we hate and maybe we would learn not to hate them so much. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Confidence is key

Found this amazing quote today.

Birth Plans

As my due date is quickly approaching I decided it was time to create my birth plan. I assumed that this would be a fun and exciting adventure, but let me tell you it was the complete opposite. I'm not entirely sure what expecting parents are doing these days, but some of the options are absolutely out there.

I use an App called Baby Bump and it's actually quite an amazing app for expecting mothers. 

It gives you updates every week of your pregnancy to let you know how much your baby has grown, what the average size is, and what is developing now. It also gives health tips every day to help you be more aware of what's going on with your new pregnant body. 

The app also has a journal where you can jot down what you're cravings are what makes you sick so on so forth. It has a kick counter so you can keep track of the babies kicks in the later months. It has a whole slew of baby names to help you pick out the perfect name, and also has a birth plan where you can choose exactly what you want to happen in the delivery room and either print out or email to your doctor. 

Be wary when looking through the birth plan section I was in complete shock when going through it. It starts off simple enough asking who you would like in the room with you when you deliver. Then it goes to the monitoring section asking whether you want continuous fetal monitoring or not, asks about whether you want photos taken during labor and birth "ummm no actually if you could ban cameras from the hospital during that time it'd be great". It goes on to ask about pain relief (whether or not you want an epidural), then circumcision. Then it gets real good and completely horrifying, there is an entire section called tearing and episiotomy if you do not know what this is I highly recommend you never try and look it up, because you will never want to have kids. One of my favorite things on this part of the checklist is it asks whether or not I wanted to deliver on all fours. "Do I want to deliver on all fours??....Do people deliver on all fours?" The idea of this just gave me a slight chuckle. 

It's a very long list that goes on for ever asking about labor, c-section, Induction, and Delivery. It also has a section called Delivery aids such as a stool, chair, squatting bar, birthing tub, labor ball, and bean bag chair. I am so tempted to ask my doctor how one would use some of these things. The tub I get the bean bag chair and squatting bar not so much. However, then I go to the next section and it solves one of those riddles by asking if I would like to try a squatting position. "Oooooh.....oh...oh wow, well no I would like none of that, but thank you"

It finishes with asking about cutting the umbilical cord; whether or not I want my partner to cut, whether or not I want to wait until it stops pulsing. That's great and all, but the thought of a pulsating umbilical cord is not pleasant. "Yes I guess I would like to donate the cord blood if possible considering storing it for yourself is over $2,000 and what new family has an extra $2,000 we sure don't!"

Needless to say I was in complete shock with all the options I had. I assumed it would be basic questions like whether or not I want an epidural not a ten page checklist. I am very glad I read through it though because I might have been a little horrified if my doctor suggested one of these things while in the delivery room.

And for those expecting mothers or soon to be expecting mothers don't let this horrify you. Just be very aware that when you're in the delivery room it's not going to be some magical moment where glitter falls from the ceiling and angels start to sing. Though that would be quite awesome if that happened, I might just see if I can arrange that.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Humor

These are my two all time favorite youtube videos. Trying to add some humor into this Monday afternoon.


I absolutely love this quote, it goes a long fantastically with my post about trying to reach a false idea of perfection.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Are you a shopaholic?

Found this article that lists 7 different signs that you may be a shopaholic thought it was pretty funny and conveniently online one day after I mad an entire blog post on my favorite shopping sites. I think I may have a problem, I definitely said "yes" to most of these things.

7 Signs You’re A Shopaholic

It’s one thing to surrender to the occasional impulse buy — that watch gleaming from behind the display case, or a pair of black shoes that will add the perfect dash of sophistication to your favorite business suit. But when your purchases shift from impulsive to compulsive, it’s the first sign that you might be grappling with a more serious condition: a shopping addiction.
Researchers estimate that up to 6 percent of Americans are so-called shopaholics. And with retailers ramping up their promotions on TV and even more intensely online, this number is likely to rise. In our society, the phrase “shop till you drop” translates as frivolous and fun, but when spending presents a real problem, the glamor fades.
Psychologists call it Compulsive Buying Disorder, which is characterized as an impulse-control issue – just like gambling or binge eating – and has the potential to create a whirlwind of emotional and financial distress.
In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson reveals some of the telltale signs of shopaholics and explains what they can do to curb their spending. Check it out, then read on for more…
Are you or a loved one a shopaholic? Here are seven signs of a potential problem. For a more complete analysis, also check out the Compulsive Buying Scale, developed by psychologist Gilles Valence and his associates.

1. You have many unopened or tagged items in your closet

We’re not talking about the sweater your aunt gave you last holiday season, but about items you selected on your own that sit unopened or with their tags still attached. You likely even forgot about some of these possessions – boxes of shoes lining the bottom of your closet or jackets that have never seen the light of day.

2. You often purchase things you don’t need or didn’t plan to buy

You’re easily tempted by items that you can do without. A fifth candle for your bedroom dresser, a new iPod case, even though yours is fine…you get the idea. You’re particularly vulnerable if you’ve admitted to having an “obsession,” like shoes or designer handbags. Just because your splurges tend to stick to one category doesn’t make them any more rational.

3. An argument or frustration sparks an urge to shop

Compulsive shopping is an attempt to fill an emotional void, like loneliness, lack of control, or lack of self-confidence. Shopaholics also have a tendency to suffer from mood disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse problems. So if you tend to binge on comfort food after a bad day, studies suggest that you may be more likely to indulge in a shopping spree too.

4. You experience a rush of excitement when you buy

Shopaholics experience a “high” or an adrenaline rush, not from owning something, but from the act of purchasing it. Experts say dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure, is often released in waves as shoppers see a desirable item and consider buying it. This burst of excitement can become addictive.

5. Purchases are followed by feelings of remorse

This guilt doesn’t have to be limited to big purchases, either; compulsive shoppers are just as often attracted to deals and bargain hunting. Despite any remorse that follows, though, shopaholics are adept at rationalizing just about any purchase if challenged.

6. You try to conceal your shopping habits

If you’re hiding shopping bags in your daughter’s closet or constantly looking over your shoulder for passing co-workers as you shop online, this is a possible sign that you’re spending money at the expense of your family, your loved ones, or even your job.

7. You feel anxious on the days you don’t shop

It’s one thing to feel anxious if you haven’t had your morning cup of joe, but if you’re feeling on edge because you haven’t swiped your debit card all day, be concerned. Shopaholics have reported feeling “out of sorts” if they haven’t had their shopping fix, and have even admitted to shopping online if they couldn’t physically pull away from their day’s responsibilities.
If the characteristics above sound a lot like you or someone you know, don’t worry just yet. And if you’re on the fence about whether you really have a problem, even figuring out why you’re always shopping and how you can change could be a big relief – for both your well-being and your budget. Fortunately, as Stacy explained in the video, there are some simple ways to help you kick a shopping habit:
Find a new activity. Jogging, exercising, listening to music, watching more TV – any of these activities could potentially substitute for shopping and would be a much lighter burden on your wallet.
Identify triggers. Take note of what’s likely to send you off to the nearest department store – whether it’s an argument with your significant other or frustration after a business meeting. When these feelings overcome you, resist shopping at all costs and find a healthier way to work it out.
Remove temptation. It’s no secret that you shouldn’t walk through your favorite boutique if you’re trying to curb your spending. Try to limit your shopping trips and go only when absolutely necessary. If online shopping is your weakness, resist the urge to surf your favorite stores’ sites and even consider keeping your laptop out of reach.
Carry only enough cash to buy what you went for. Leave your debit and credit cards at home. Create a shopping list with estimated costs, and stick to it when you’re at the store.
Ask for help. If you’re still struggling with compulsive spending, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can start with self-help books or by asking a friend or family member to help keep you in check, but it might also be wise to enlist professional help. Consider therapy, resources like Stopping Overshopping, or support groups such as Debtors Anonymous.

More from Money Talks News

Refinishing furniture

Finally finished Mariah's dresser and am so excited about how it turned out. 

This is what it looked like before we got started. My mom refinished this dresser when she was pregnant with my sister, it was then handed down to me, and will now be handed down to Mariah. I love the history that goes a long with this dresser. I'm hoping that we will be able to hand it down once more. 

This was the top of the dresser. It looks pretty nasty,  but obviously I had it through my entire childhood which essentially means I did everything in my power to destroy it.

That even included practicing my penmanship at 4 or 5 I'm not sure how old, but I clearly did not know how to spell my name yet.

My childhood friend also practiced on this dresser. It was a little sad destroying that history, but it had to go.

Jack started the process by sanding the dresser down. I was a little sad that I couldn't help more, but we didn't have any masks which meant there was dust going everywhere.

When he was done sanding it looked like this. Jack started with 80 grit sand paper to take off the previous finish and finished it by using a 220 grit to smooth it out. However, he suggests using a belt sander for this process as it didn't come out as smooth and consistent as he wanted (I think it looks perfect even if it is a little rough, but what do I know)

We used a mahogany stain to get it this dark color (we just purchased the cheapest brand and it came out great). To give it the glossy finish we used a polyurethane super gloss finish again just purchasing the cheapest brand which worked fine.

Hooray! we are finished and it looks amazing!

These are the knobs I chose at Ace Hardware that I fell head over heels in love with. They were kind of expensive at $2.99 a piece so altogether they cost us $24. 

This is the gorgeous antique lamp we bought her at a garage sale for $10. I wish it was pink to match her room better, but the lamp was so pretty I had to buy it.

It was so exciting to bwgin putting her clothes away and Bootsie kept close watch.

Now that it's getting closer and closer to the due date everything is becoming so real. Feeling her kick around and move everyday is getting me so excited to meet her, only 15 more weeks!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Online shopping

I spend a lot of my time online shopping, it's actually a pretty bad addiction. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of money to buy all the things I find, but it's fun to "window shop." Now that I'm pregnant it's more like day dreaming about the things I will buy after baby, much after baby. Anywhoo, I am always on a mad search for cheap online shops that sell unique and attractive clothes and accessories. Here are some of my favorite websites: is one of my all time favorites, the clothes can be expensive, but you can find some really adorable and cheap items. The dresses are so unique and absolutely stunning. 

Like I would die for this dress and it's only $38. I am hoping it's still for sale after I lose my baby weight, but I may be out of luck.

Another website is Lulu', they have some really adorable clothes at affordable prices. is an amazing place to find unique vintage clothes, but it can be pretty pricey. 

This dress has been my favorite for so long. It is over $60, but I obsessed. It's also been on the website for well over a year.

This is also cute and only $45. is another great website they are a little expensive if you buy the things at full price, but if you wait until they go on clearance you can get insane deals. I bought a pair of knee high boots from there for $20!!

Now, for my all time favorite....drum roll Who ever invented this website is pure genius. If you are every looking for a specific thing like say, a pink blazer, you can search for it on this website and it will search every clothing website out there. You can narrow it by price and you can even choose what stores you would like to search from. 

Well, those are my top favorite online shops I am always on the look out for more.

Friday, September 14, 2012

"I have confidence in sunshine"

On my ride to work today I started thinking about being perfect and what it takes to be a perfect person. I know that all of you have met or seen that girl or guy and have said to yourself or a friend "oh my gosh I hate that person she's just so perfect" Or "how does some one get to be that perfect?" Well, first off I want to say Good for that person for being perfect in the eyes of some one else, because that's everybody's goal right? People want to be that girl or guy that every body says is perfect. Well news flash that person is not perfect in every body's eyes heck they may not even be perfect in their own eyes, because the idea of perfection is different to every person. Think about all the books you read in middle and high school about trying to create Utopia's, they never worked out right? That's because there is no generic Utopia that fits what every body dreams about. What may be perfect to one person may be completely heinous to another. Before trying to be perfect you must understand this idea. You will never be considered perfect to every single person that you meet, but that's okay as long as you are happy with the person that you are, you are perfect. 

I've spent a majority of my life being unhappy with myself, not just the way I look, but my actual self. I wished that I was smarter so I could do better in school, I wished I was more social and could have more friends, I wished I was thinner and could be a size two. There are many things I wished I was that I just wasn't. I spent my life from age 12 to age 23 being completely unhappy with who I was and wishing I was somebody that was impossible to be. Finally one day I woke up and realized that I'm not ever going to be what society considers being "perfect", but I could be what I consider perfect.

 My first problem to overcome was my self image. I was dying to be a size two when I needed to realize that the way my body is built I will never be a size two. Not even if I starved myself for a year would I be a size two, because I tried that when I was 15 and the lowest size I got was a size 5 in juniors (or 4 in adults). 

This is a picture from my senior year in high school I was a size 6. I still thought I was fat, because of what my pants size said never actually looking at the mirror at what my body actually looked like. 

Let's flash forward a couple years to my sophomore year in college....

Here I am a size 8. I remember being so nervous about wearing that costume, because I thought I looked morbidly obese. I look at it now and think "ummm what the hell was wrong with you??" I wasn't actually looking at my self I was looking at the size of my pants and thinking about the fact that my hips were 40 inches around. Instead of seeing myself in the mirror I saw what society claimed was supposed to be a size 8. 

All those years it never occurred to me that my body would just never look like Megan Fox's or other stick thin celebrities, I'm not built that way. My body has natural curves, my hips will never be smaller than 38 inches around, and I will never again be smaller than a size 6. I had to come to this realization before deciding what I wanted to look like as a person. 

The second problem to defeat is being unhappy with who I am. I've always wished I was smarter, had more friends, and was funnier. You know what some of those things I just can't be. So I'm not the next Einstein and no I didn't get all A's in college, but I did try my hardest and I did graduate with a B average and I'm happy with that now. I could make more friends if I could get over my shyness and be more outgoing, but it's okay if I don't, eventually I will meet people who I will get along with, who like me for me, and think I'm perfect the way I am, and that's fine by me. 

A major step in your journey to your own personal perfection (I want to emphasize that, you will never be perfect to everybody, but you can be perfect to yourself.) is having confidence in yourself. This is HUGE when it comes to how others see you. I'm sure that sounds cliche, but it's the God's honest truth. If you don't have confidence in yourself others will see that and it will be harder for them to see you for who you really are. I want to share with you two stories about how having confidence actually works.

I had a friend back in college who had a very low self esteem. He was always upset that when he went to parties girls never seemed to notice him. Finally, I said "well of course they aren't going to notice you you walk around the party like you're the ugliest kid there, because you think you are." We were headed to a party that night and I said to him "look just for a night try to be confident in yourself, go to that party and walk into it like you are the hottest guy there and that every girl should want to be on your arm...Don't be cocky about it, but be confident and I guarantee you by the end of the night you will have a girl on your arms." Sure enough at the end of the night he had two gorgeous girls hanging off of him and following him around. It was fantastic, I had never seen him so happy. 

Another time, I knew a guy who would always say that having confidence is the sexiest attribute a girl could have. He told me how he was working at a store once when three girls walked in. Two of the girls were very pretty but kept their shoulders low and their heads down, while the third girl who was a little overweight and not as attractive as the other two walked in with her head held high and her shoulders back. He said how every guy at the store only noticed the one confident girl and didn't even remember the other two. 

These things just go to show you how important confidence is. Be ware of cockiness though. I love this quote by Mila Kunis...

This quote just perfectly describes what this post is about. You have to know who you are, realize that some goals are just unattainable, be happy with the person that you are, and you will be perfect in your own eyes and even perfect in the eyes of some others.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Okay guys so on Pinterest a while back I had pinned a recipe for something called Buffalo Balls. I finally decided to test these little guys out and oh my goodness are they the most delicious things I have ever had. I have been making Chicken meatballs for a long time and usually eat them with fettuccine alfredo, but never did I ever think to put them in buffalo sauce. 

I discovered the recipe for chicken meatballs on and fell in love with them. The best part about them is they are so much healthier than their ground beef counterparts. They taste delicious with tomato sauce, but they taste delectable in alfredo sauce it's like alfredo sauce was made for 
these. I would give you my recipe, but I tend to just throw ingredients in it until it looks and smells right so I'm going to attach the recipe to this post so you guys can follow it from there. It's easier this way until you get the hang of them. 

If you need to look them up they are called cheesy chicken meatballs on

On Monday Jack and I decided to test out the Buffalo Balls recipe I saw on Pinterest. Since we already knew how to make the chicken meatballs we used our own recipe rather than what they gave and we decided to make our own buffalo sauce and I am so glad we did. 

For the sauce I took a small sauce pan and melted half a stick of butter. After the butter had melted I threw in some chopped up garlic and let it cook for about 1 minute. I then poured in about 1/4 cup of franks thick red hot and 1/4 cup of frank's original red hot and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Oh my goodness it literally turned out to be the most amazing buffalo sauce I have ever had. 

We cooked the chicken meatballs and put them into the sauce. We decided that we wanted to have a buffalo chicken salad and we chopped up some veggies and lettuce, put the meatballs on top, and poured ranch dressing over it. It was very good this way, but I think these Buffalo Balls would be served best as an appetizer (ESP during football season) with a side of ranch for dipping.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Seeing the doctor

I apologize again for not making a post in years, but I've been dealing with moving on to the third trimester and have not felt my best the past couple days. Today's blog I wanted to talk to you guys about making sure you get yourself checked out if you think something is wrong with your body. 

About a year ago I started noticing that my heart was racing very frequently, it would happen at the same time everyday and would make me lightheaded and delirious. Not only that, but any type of physical activity would send my heart rate through the roof even just going to the bathroom would put my heart rate at 164BPM. My heart was also palpitating two to three times a day for 30 seconds at a time. This, of course, was very concerning for me. I went to my doctor who just said it's anxiety. A month went by and I was still experiencing all these symptoms and again she just said it's anxiety. I did not believe her as I've suffered from anxiety all my life and it's never been like this. After a week I called her and basically said I'm not accepting "anxiety" as an answer and I want to see a professional heart doctor. She set me up with a heart doctor conveniently named Dr. Love who gave me a heart monitor to wear for a week and every time I was having a symptom I had to press a record button to record the symptom. This was, needless to say, a pain in my butt. It had stickers and wires I had to attach all over my chest that would leave giant red welts every time I took it off. After the week was over they reviewed the results and just told me "Lauren your heart rate is a little fast at times, there's nothing wrong" This was not enough for me I knew there was something more than my heart rate being a "little fast" A decently in shape person should not be out of breath with a racing heart after going up one flight of stairs. I called Dr. Love, the heart doctor back and let him know that answer was not okay with me and I wanted him to run more tests. He decided to use and EKG machine to look at my heart and make sure all the valves were working appropriately. Every thing looked great and he said nothing was physically wrong with my heart. I knew he was going to once again say I was fine and said "well we need to do something else then" He then hooked me up to an overnight heart monitor that I had to wear for 48 hours straight that constantly monitored my heart. After I returned the monitor they reviewed my results and called me in. Finally the doctor had some good news. He said after reviewing my reports he could see that my heart rate was never dropping below 85 bpm even when I was sleeping (the average resting heart rate is 60 btw). At multiple points during the day it was jumping to 160-175bpm which led him to only one conclusion. I had a very rare condition called inappropriate sinus tachycardia syndrome. A condition that mainly appears in girls in their 20's and can last anywhere from 6 months to two years, but wasn't dangerous and only meant that I had a super powered heart.

I was so relieved by this information I cried in the office. Finally they knew what was going on and I knew that it would have an end. I finally didn't feel crazy anymore. I got pregnant not too long after finding out and my symptoms just went away. Recently though my heart is starting to race again and there sending me back to get some medicine, but I'm okay with that, because I know there isn't anything wrong. 

I'm telling you all this story just so if something is ever going wrong with your body that doesn't feel natural and your doctor says your fine, but you don't feel their right don't give up. Keep going until you find an answer you know your body better than your doctor and you know when something is wrong. So keep going back until they give you an answer you're okay with. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Spending Habbits

Back in June Jack and I realized one day that all the money in our bank account had vanished, or at least it seemed that way.  Desperate to find out where it had run off to I decided that we needed to start keeping track of our money. I printed off our entire bank history for the month of June and was shocked at what I found. Over the course of a month we had spent $310 on eating out on the weekends a lone, $116 at just dunkin donuts, $245 on miscellaneous things, $230 on new clothes (which were needed as I was not fitting into my clothes), $535 on groceries, and $335 on gas. I was literally in shock $310 on weekend meals was absurd, that's over $75 every weekend on just eating out. Clearly we needed to change our spending habits and with a new baby coming a long we needed to do it fast. 

I started keeping track of my spending by creating an excel spreadsheet (I know I'm seriously addicted to them, but they're sooooo helpful) I created a list of spending categories and put them into columns on my spreadsheet. The categories are as follows:

1) Fast Food
2) Necessities
3) Groceries
4) Gas
5) Bills
6) Restaurants
7) Misc.
8) Income
9) shopping

Everyday I print out my bank history from the day prior and put what I spent in the appropriate category. So for example if on my statement it says that I spent $43 at Hannaford I'll type that in to the groceries column. I then total it at the bottom. I create an equation by totaling all my spending categories and subtracts them from my income. So if my paycheck was for $400 and all I spent was the $43 from Hannaford then the equation would say =sum(400-43) and would reveal that I had an extra $357. 

For the month of July I didn't do this, because we were in New Orleans for two weeks and our spending was out of whack so there was no way I would get any useful information from it. I did do it again in August and was honestly shocked at what I found.  After being more aware of where our money was going we were able to seriously drop down our needless spending. Eating out went from $426 to $373, Miscellaneous went from $245 to $73, and Shopping (or clothes) went from $230 to $84.On just those categories we were able to save $371 a month that's $4,452 a year just by being more aware of where our money is going. Not only that but I've only been doing this for two months I'm so excited to see what Septembers spending is going to look like. 

If you don't like the idea of having to type up everything and spend the time every day tracking your spending there is also a great website/app called Mint 

It's really fantastic and I highly recommend it. The only thing is if you're one of those people who doesn't like to give their information out it's not the product for you, because you have to give it your username and password for every bank account, loan, credit card you have. It is very safe though I did a lot of research before giving it all my information and there were no complaints and I have not had any issues (hopefully that's how it still stands) Definitely do research on it before you sign up. If you do decide to use it though you will not be dissapointed. It does all the hard work of creating a budget and listing out your spending habits for you and puts it all in a nice pie chart!

You can create your own budgeting rules or you can ask it to make suggestions for you. It actually takes your monthly income amount and makes recommendations for what you should be spending each month on certain categories such as shopping and groceries. It lets you know if you're getting close to your monthly budget and let's you know if you've gone over. 

One of my favorite parts about this app is it tells me what my balance is on all my credit cards, student loans, and car loans. It also tells you how much or how little you are in debt and compares it to your monthly income ,so it is actually calculating your debt to asset ratio for you. This app is pretty much having a financial adviser in your pocket, but with out all the fees. There are so many more things that this app does, but you should seriously look it up for yourselves because I could write an entire post about each individual thing. 

I loved this app but found it more useful for me to use my spreadsheets only because I'm so picky about things and I like to put in what I spent myself. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Monthly meal planning

On Pinterest I've been seeing all these things about menu planning for a week or more commonly a month. When I first saw them I didn't think twice about them even though they claimed it would save me so much money. In my head I was thinking "It's only Jack and I, this is unnecessary." However, over the past couple of weeks Jack and I have thrown out an insane amount of food. I was just going to the store and buying things I thought I might make and never did.  For example the other week Hannaford was having a sale on chicken so of course I made him buy $20 worth only to realize a day later that the taste of chicken was nauseating to me. Realizing that our grocery list was coming to almost $100 every week when we were only eating at max $50 I decided enough was enough and that we needed to start planning more efficiently. 

I took a second look at all those monthly meal planning pins and decided to give it a go. I looked through all my saved recipes to find ones that I might be willing to eat and that would be easy and cheap to cook and made a list. I tried to come up with at least 2 weeks worth of meals, planned it out for two weeks, and sort of did a repeat for the next 2 weeks. This helps for a couple reasons, One: it makes it a little easier to plan, because instead of coming up with 30 different meals you're only coming up with 14 and Two: I can highlight the non perishables and buy enough in the beginning of the month so that I use it all by the end of the month. This makes it so I don't end up buying an entire thing of peanut butter to use once and not touch for several months. 

I created an excel spreadsheet stating what week it was at the top then on the Y axis I listed out the three meals: Breakfast, lunch, and, dinner and on the X axis are the days of the week. Underneath each day is a list of all the ingredients that I will need for the meals during that day. It came out looking like this:

I apologize again for the quality of the photo, but at least you get the picture. After making the template for this I just opened new sheets and copied and pasted for the weeks during that month. The sheets are at the bottom of the excel spreadsheet 

To create one you just click on the very end one that has a little star on it and then to change the name you double click it and type in the name. I printed out each week and I also keep it on my computer in case I need to change anything. 

Now, I just created this yesterday so I haven't even really had the chance to use it yet, but I am extremely excited about it. Next month I will be able to tell you guys how it went for me and if I'm going to continue to use it!

Tomorrow's blog I'm going to tell you guys how I came up with a budgeting plan on monthly spending so that  we can better track our spending habbits and don't blow our money eating out and other unnecessary things every month!