Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things: Lunch Time: Pack It Up!

A few of my favorite things…

Pack it up!


I'm actually a bit sad that I now work at home. Okay, that's a gross exaggeration. I love working at home, but I really do miss packing my lunch. Having a beautiful (yet cheap) lunch box packed with all of my favorite goodies. I still get to make Jon's lunch every day (complete with adorable notes- because that's what you do in lunch boxes), and occasionally I get to pack myself a lunch for an afternoon out, but it's just not the same.

So, I turned my longing into a collection of all of my favorite lunch related things. I pay close attention to prices in my blog related polyvore collections, so everything should be reasonably priced, but you should always shop around to ensure the best deal.

Hint: The Sistema collection (reusable plastic food containers) go on sale twice a year and are about 40% off. We use Sistema and love them. They hold up well, are reasonably priced even when it's not on sale and looks great. 

Special occasion coming up? You'd be surprised at the impact of a small present tucked into a lunch box. Nothing expensive, but something they can use when they're at work. New pens, Chapstick, a framed photo for their desk, magnet games... anything that can brighten someone's day unexpectedly. 

Lunch Time

Monday, July 28, 2014

Top 10 Favorite Snacks: Ready in less than 5 minutes!






              

Need a quick snack to satisfy grumbly tummies? I've got you covered! Here's my ultimate favorites that can be whipped up in less than 5 minutes.  Many are shelf stable and can be transported without a cooler to help keep you out of the drive through. 

1.Sliced apples and a spoonful of caramel topping (for ice cream), almond butter or peanut butter.

2. Frozen grapes. 
Just buy a bunch. Wash and freeze in a gallon ziplock bag. Pick off a few for a delicious frozen treat.


3. Microwave brownie.
Not your everyday snack, but if you're in the mood to indulge, far be it from me to stop you! Click here for the recipe.


4. Mozzarella string cheese dipped in marinara sauce. 
Kind of a quick knock off of mozzarella sticks. You can also freeze a jar of marinara in ice cube trays. Pop the ice cubes into individual baggies and you can heat one or two servings at a time for small snacks.

5. Poor man's cheesecake.
Graham Crackers spread with cream cheese and a bit of jam. This is heavenly and not too bad in calories. Certainly better than the brownie in a mug! 

6. Carrots and ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, hummus or hot sauce.
Seriously. Hot sauce. The place back home that we used to order pizza and wings from delivered carrot sticks seeping in the extra hot wing sauce. They were amazing. Which is why I now nosh on carrot sticks and hot sauce, even when I'm not pregnant. 

7. Bold and spicy almonds.
Technically this isn't a recipe, but I just discovered them this winter and can't get enough. 
I'm going to be trying out a DIY recipe for these soon. Until then, Diamond makes several flavors including habanero BBQ.



8. Trail mix.
Make your own: nuts, dried fruit and chocolate chips. Go nuts, try some with butterscotch chips!

9. Make your own chicken salad crackers.
They sell these in a package next to the tuna cans for almost 2.00 a package. You can easily make your own! Canned chicken or tuna, mayo packets saved from a lunch out, and crackers (Jon has been known to just mix the mayo in the can and eat it… We're classy like that).

10. Crackers, cheese and pepperoni.
Come visit my parents house and they'll offer you a plate of this... Every time. They're deliciously predictable and they know what works. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Reading Round Up...




































Are you a fellow book lover? I love the way it feels to curl up in front of the fire with an amazing book.
Staying up late because you can't possibly go to bed until you find out what happens next? I'm right there with you. On the off chance you want to take a peek into my library, Here's what I've read this month...

Don't forget to make your library your second home... Not only do they have free books, e-books, audio books, DVD's, but they also have downloadable magazines for your iPad, tablet, or even your computer! Read more about free digital magazines at your library here.



The One  (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass
I love teen sci-fi and dystopian novels. I also have a secret love of all things Bachelor. Cass brought my loves together in one excellent series. After the fall of the United States, A young girl enters a bachelor type competition to win the heart of the Prince. It's a fun, easy read.






A Shadow of Light (Shade of Vampire, Book 4) By Bella Forrest
I'm the queen of free. I haven't paid for a book in a long time. I blame Facebook for the $10.00 that I've spent on amazon for this series so far. Facebook kept advertising it on my feed and I noticed how many 5 star reviews it had. I was intrigued and bought the first book for the introductory price of 99 cents. It was only a few chapters and completely hooked me. I probably would have paid $20 for each remaining book if I had to. It follows the story of a girl kidnapped and brought to an enchanted island over run by Vampires (not the nice ones... no glittering here). There's one vampire that stands above the rest and falls in love with her. He begins to change for her. I realize how insipid this sounds, but if you're into teen sci-fi and you don't mind spending a few dollars (this series isn't in most libraries), you should give it a shot. Then you can blame me when you don't do laundry and dishes for a week because you can't put your kindle down.



A Castle of Sand (A Shade of Vampire, Book 3) By Bella Forrest
See above.


A Shade of Blood (A Shade of Vampire, Book 2) By Bella Forrest
See above.



A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest
See above.


The 100 by Kass Morgan

This is a teen sci-fi dystopian again. It was a great read, and it was a bonus to find out it's also a TV show that's already released 12 episodes. Sweet! After a nuclear war, the few survivors fled to a spaceship that hovers above earth until the radiation dissipates enough for earth to become habitable. 100 juvenile delinquents are sent down to earth to "test" the atmosphere and have to survive on their own. 





Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
If you've ever read a Sophie Kinsella novel, you know if you love her. I've adored her since I discovered Confessions of a Shopoholic. Like all of her novels, this was a fun, easy, light hearted read that had me smiling at the quirky characters and groaning at the predicaments they found themselves in. 




The Undomesticated Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
This was a re-read. Probably my fourth or fifth re-read, but it's one of my favorites and really speaks to my life right now. Samantha and I both went from a high stress all consuming job to a domestic nightmare. I can relate. Reading this made me appreciate what I have and remember where I came from. I ended up baking 4 loaves of French bread while reading this because I couldn't stand reading the sensual way she approached baking without getting the urge to join in. 


Spark (Sky Chasers #2) by Amy Kathleen Ryan
This is the second of a series that is fast paced, thought provoking and intense. Refugees from a destroyed earth are heading to new earth in two spaceships. After a generation of traveling, one of the spaceships attacks the other and kills or kidnaps all of the adults on board. Leaving children and teenagers to run the ship, continue the mission and attempt to rescue the remaining adults. What I loved best about this book is how you never really know who the good guys are and the bad guys. Everyone is a shade of gray working under extreme pressure.


Fire Study (Poison Study #3) by Maria Snyder
This series was a total surprise for me. Poison Study won me over with Valek (who next to Dimitri from Vampire Academy is my favorite literary boyfriend ever), but the series carried on with Valek as a minor roll. He would only appear in a few chapters. Snyder's writing is so compelling that I didn't even care. She draws you into a world of magic and crime and politics and you really don't have time to worry about what your literary boyfriend is doing. 




Curious as to how I managed to only read books that I love this month? I use good reads, a free website and app that takes books that you review and offers recommendations based on your prior reviews. It's ah-mazing. Seriously, I'm on my third or fourth month with four stars being the lowest rating I've given a book. Usually I have to read 4 bad/mediocre books for every great book when I use the hunt and judge by the cover method at the library. Check them out here... (And follow me while you're there!)


Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things: Laundry Organization



A few of my favorite things…

Laundry Organization
 

I'm not a fan of purchasing organization and storage products in an effort to organize yourself (read more about that here). I'm a firm believer in establishing the daily habit first and then "prettying it up". Meaning that when I hang my clothes up for tomorrow, they just get arranged on a hanger. It's been this way for months. Now isn't the time to purchase a pinterest worthy garment holder. I can do that when I don't even have to think about laying my clothes out the night before. Establish the habit then invest in it.

However, if this is an already established habit and your looking around for some good deals to spruce up your laundry room (or laundry closet if you're like me), check out my polyvore creation...

Click here for the original board where you can find stores and prices as well.

I love the Tide Bra Bags and have used them for almost 4 years now. I purchased two (each holds two bras) and with almost daily use, they've held up great. It makes it easy to wash bras in the laundry with your regular wash and have them stay perfect and well formed.

The retractable clothes line is a great way to save a little money in the summer by giving the electricity a rest.

The tabletop ironing board is great, especially if you have a front loading washer and can just leave it set up over the washer and dryer.



Head here to look at prices or to purchase...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Costco Membership for only a few dollars!

LOOKING FOR A GOOD COSTCO MEMBERSHIP DISCOUNT?

4 days left to grab a Costco Membership for a few dollars after gift cards and promotions... I've been debating this for a while and couldn't resist.

 

$55 ($104.47 value) for a Gold Star Membership

  • Includes $20 Costco Cash Card 

  • Coupons for a 48 pack of Kirkland AA Batteries, a Kirkland Signature Case of Water, a Rotisserie Chicken + $4 off Kirkland Coffee and Albacore Tuna

  • Valid for new members for their first year of membership only


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    https://www.livingsocial.com/deals/1013597-membership-bonus-costco-cash-card-coupons?ref=share-post_purchase-copy_box-web-deals&rui=194212395&rpi=149748659

    Monday, February 3, 2014

    The Chopped Onion Project. Is there a limit to cutting costs?


    Can you be too cheap?

    -the chopped onion project-

    Chopping onions to save a few dollars. Seems simple huh?


    I realized just how many onions we've been using lately. Rather than buying the 12oz bag of chopped frozen onions for $1.00 at Giant, I considered buying onions in bulk to chop myself. Wegmans has a 10 pound bag of onions for $6.99. I could use my mini food processor to dice them two or three at a time while I made dinner. "Easy!", I thought.



    As the tears poured down my face and my eyes burned so bad that I thought I was doing permanent damage, My husband kept saying "Are you OK? This doesn't look like a good idea". Then, when I noticed my 17 month old son rubbing his eyes on the floor next to me, I realized that I actually have limits to frugality. In total, It took me about 15 minutes to chop and package those onions to freeze. Those 15 minutes felt like about 10 hours and I still feel like all I can smell is onions when I walk through the kitchen.



    At the end of the day, I saved $5.81 for enough onions that will likely last me through three months. While a savings of 54% is pretty impressive on a whole food, it wasn't enough to endure the noxious fumes that plague me to this day. At the end of a year, I would have saved $24.



    We'll just live recklessly and buy the frozen chopped onions, 'cause you know, we're extravagant like that:)
    Don't be deceived by the ease of the mini processor... You're about to cry.

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    Time Saver Tip: Lay Out Your Clothes The Night Before



    Time Savers Tip:
    Lay your clothing out

    the night before

     



    If you know me at all, you know that I'm a huge fan of FlyLady. I fought a long and hard battle to become organized, I wasn't born that way. FlyLady was instrumental in that battle and to this day, I find myself repeating her mantras. My two favorites are "Imperfect housework still blesses your family" and "You can do anything for 15 minutes".  You can find out more about how Flylady changed my life here and you can head over to the Flylady's website by clicking here.


    One of the foundations that FlyLady teaches is to lay your clothes out the night before. Every once in a while, I cheat and don't lay my clothes out and the difference in the morning is considerable. There's something so motivating knowing you can safely click that snooze button for 10 more minutes, because everything you need is ready and waiting for you when you wake up. I shower at night, so I can get ready in 10 minutes. About 3 months or so ago, I started laying out my husbands clothes too. He loves having his stuff ready to go, and I love that the closet stays organized and easy to use (which actually makes laundry an enjoyable chore). Last month, I started stuffing t-shirt bags (So easy to make!... Click here for a tutorial) with gym shorts, a t-shirt, socks, underwear, and a towel to go running in.

    There are a million beautiful pinterest-worthy ways to lay your clothes out, but I'm a fan of free and easy. The most important thing is to make it a sustainable habit, after that's done, you can pretty it up with dress forms or garment racks.

    We keep it simple, we each have a hangar... at the old place, the hangars hung on two hooks on the back of the closet door. At our new place, we haven't gotten around to adding the hooks, so we just designated the center section of the closet for our hangars.

    We fold the pants over the bottom bar of the hangar, hang the shirt over top, hang sweaters, cardigans etc over that, tucks the socks into the shirt (the pressure of the shirt and pants keep the socks in place, boxer briefs usually get tucked in here as well), Bras and panties get hung over the hanger hook.
    Shoes get set out below the hangar.

    To give myself a break on the weekends, I normally take a few extra minutes and lay out clothes for the weekend as well (since my schedule on the weekends is more lax).

    Give it a shot! Then when you've made it a routine, check out these "pinterest pretty" ways to leave your clothes out the night before.
    Photo Credit: thelittlestthing.com
     
     
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