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Archive for December, 2015

15 Things I learned in 2015

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Instead of dwelling on the events of the past I thought I would list out the lessons learned that I will carry into 2016.

  1. Embrace a challenge/try something new – This started with the Whole30 diet plan. It was really hard! It taught me that I can do the hard stuff if I want to. It pushed me into a pwpid-wp-1448047445373.jpgoint of discomfort and made it ok to challenge myself. This lead me to dip my toe in the water of blogging and eventually work towards starting my own cake business.
  2. Seek out what makes you, you.- In 2014 I knew something need to change. I needed to become more then just a mom and a wife. I needed to rediscover what I’m about. So I started this blog. It was a huge leap for me. But getting back to writing was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It has given me support, creativity, and a voice again. I also traveled back to NY where I grew up. Confronting the past and embracing the now was not as scary as I thought it would be.
  3. Accepting disappointment – This year was not without some disappointment. For example a job I really wanted, the job I pictured myself in, did not come though. In the past I would have beaten myself up over this. This year, with the help of this blog, I looked at it a different way. There is something I am meant for and that position was not it. I had to trust in Gods plan for me.
  4. “Bloom where you are planted” -This came out of the Money Saving Mom’s budget book and it really resonated with me. I was put on this path for some reason. I could spend my time wishing things were different, easier or more like someone else’s life. Or I could accept the gifts that were right in front of me and learn from them.
  5. Don’t try to do it all/ Stop trying to be Pintrest mommy – I wrote a post earlier in the year about not trying to do it all. I have been letting go if the picture of the mother/wife/person I thought I was suppose to be and try to accept the person I am. Which means a messy house and children who use electronics and eat fast-food sometimes.
  6. Appreciate my health – I don’t mean to interject Beachbody into everything but it has really helped me. I have grown to a much great appreciation of what this body can accomplish if I am consistent in feeding it right. I have found that I am much stronger physically then I thought , if I allow myself to be.
  7. Slowdown/ Be in the moment – Take a walk and appreciate the life you have instead of constantly waiting for some imaginary better thing and moments in the future. Savior my children, play and enjoy nature instead of checking off items on a to-do list.wp-1451440231899.jpg
  8. Put on make-up – I know it is a weird one to have on this list. At the beginning of this blog I posted an Instagram challenge. During this challenge I realized how much I hated having my picture taken. After listening to a makeup tutorial from Tiffany Lee Bymaster” Coach Glitter,” I felt I found a kindred spirt in her. She suffered from the same skin issues that have made me so self conscious my whole life. After hearing her on Periscope and following her tutorial I finally learned how to put on make-up and feel ok with being having my picture taken. Seriously check her out she is awesome.
  9. Let go of negative thinking and people – This year I have made a conscous effort to surround myself with positive, happy, confidant people. I came to realize I am somewhat of an empath in that I take in the emotions and energy of others. (I know I sound hippy dippy when I say this.) By surrounding myself with these people and letting go I the negative. I have learned I am capable of so much more.
  10. Stop watching the news – My husband loves to watch the news but I noticed it was making me angry, fearful and even hateful. Once I shut it off and found alternate information sources I was much happier.
  11. Use the Crockpot- I mean it was sitting there n the cabinet all this time but I had no idea how much of a healthy, timesaver it was. The Facebook Crockpot challenge I was involved in really brought this home for me and I have been using my Crockpot like crazy.
  12. What gets measured gets managed -This year I have attempted to get back to budgeting and keeping better track of my money. I have discovered that by not keeping track of investments I was throwing away money. Also, I discovered I needed to save more for retirement and learn more about investing. This will be ongoing into 2016.
  13. Your 9-5 job doesn’t define who you are – This was a tough one for me this year. I had always felt that what I did from 9-5 directly reflected the person was, how successful I am, and how others would judge me. This year I had to change my thinking and realize sometime a job is just that…a job. Sometimes it is not the road to a career. It doesn’t define you. You define you. I have discovered myself again though this blog. It has opened my eyes to so many other things that I am and can become outside of my 9-5 job. This has even brought me to a greater understanding and appreciation for that job. Who knew?
  14.  Build something that is just yours – I have expanded on my hobby of cake decorating. I still have much to learn but I’m having a great time learning it. In doing so I have taken some time away to attend a cake show this year. This taught me so much about myself and was such a positive experience I will do it every year. Everyone needs a hobby, a creative outlet that they do for no other reason then it brings them joy.
  15. Cherish and be grateful for those around you -After years of wishing to be wpid-wp-1446998950368.jpgsomeone else I have accepted myself and have accepted those that were put into my life. For most of my life I wanted to be different then who I am. But who I am has brought me these wonderful people, my amazing husband, and my fun, joyful children. At 40 I can finally accept I am exactly where I am meant to be an I would not change it for anything.

Here’s to 2016 and a new year of life lessons in balance and moderation!

 

Holiday Checklist: Recap

So how much did I get to on my holiday checklist?

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Photo from freerepublic.com. Christmas Grumpy Cat Movie

Well, somethings worked out great and brought holiday cheer. However, others did not work out as well. In any case, I learned some lessons along the way and know there are something’s I will do differently next year. So here is my recap.

  1. Decorate the house for Christmas. (This is one of my favorite things to kick off the Christmas season. We actually got our light up early this year.)
  2. Decorate the Tree. (This was wonderful. It really put our family in the holiday spirit.)
  3. Make Christmas cookies with the kids. (This also was a lot of fun. It was rainy outside so we were in the whole day and spent that time making cookies for our neighbors.)
  4. Make a Holiday Cake. (This was a large endeavor for me but it was so worth it. I learned a lot about time management and transportation.)
  5. Go to a local Tree Lighting. –Didn’t make it to one this year but it is definitely on my list for next year!)
  6. Make Holiday Crafts. (This did not go as well as I expected. Me and my son both got hot glue gun burns and my muffin tree was a complete failure.)
  7. Make Homemade craft with kids to give as a gift.( Even thought this was fulfilling it was tough to squeeze into our schedule. It didn’t help that I didn’t buy enough supplies.)
  8. Go on Holiday Lights Tour. (Going to Hoffman’s Chocolates for this was so much fun. This was one of the best Christmas experiences of the season.)
  9. Visit Santa (Also done at Hoffman’s and it was such a wonderful, community experience. It created a memory we will treasure.)
  10. Mail Letters to Santa (Done)
  11. Take Christmas picture at the beach or a park (I didn’t do this with the family but did have an impromptu visit with a work friend.)
  12. Finish Christmas shopping (Decided to take a day off with the hubby to get some shopping done and it was such fun, enjoyable experience we plan to do this from now on.)
  13. Drink Hot Cocoa. (Totally forgot to make it this year!)
  14. Stay on 21-day fix eating plan. For more information click here to see my post from earlier this month. (I got my workouts in but as Christmas grew closer and I stressed more my eating went off the rails. Back on track January 4th though. If you would like to join me. Leave me  comment!)
  15. Watch ELF (Best Christmas movie ever) –Since Christmas Day was a bit different with family in town I never got to watch my favorite Christmas movie 😦
  16. Play Christmas music (Listened to some in the car but the best was singing Christmas carols with the kids at Hoffman’s while my mom sang the wrong words. It was a lot of fun.)
  17. Teach kids about Random Acts of Kindness on December 13. You can to by joining izzyasabee’s  Random Acts of Kindness Event. (Although I still did some random acts of kindness I didn’t get to make it into a teachable lesson like I had hoped. Maybe I will try this again for Easter.)
  18. Not stress out about Christmas shopping, remember the spirit of the season.
#18…I most certainly did not accomplish that one this year. I stressed out big time. I felt unprepared through most of the week leading up to Christmas and I was not expecting my family to come over Christmas Day. Trying to get stuff done while still working a full-time was just to much for me and I freaked out. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family but having them over without ample time to prepare caused me to put so much pressure on myself and drove me insame.
So when Christmas came I did not have enough food prepared since I had no time to food shop. I was to tired from having been up late the night before (Totally worth it to play Santa thought!)
I spent Christmas morning cleaning my house in preparation for their visit, instead of playing with my kids. When family arrived I ended up having to break up family squabbles and cobble together last minute food prep. I didn’t really even get to play with my kids most of the day, which I regret more then anything. The kids, they still had a blast and on the bright side I got to visit with family I don’t normally get to see. However, I felt my Christmas was hijacked, hectic and stressed. Not how I wanted it to go.
I figure all of this happened for a reason. I need to learn what was necessary for me to have a better Christmas next year. So here is a list of things I will do differently next Christmas.
1) Take two days off instead of one. One of those days being the week before Christmas so I can have stress free preparation.
2) Plan more kid activates and less of the other stuff.The joy I had from Christmas mainly came from doing holiday activities with my kids so next year I will reduce other things and plan more holiday adventures with them.
3) Get Christmas cards and photo calendars done by November. This year cards were such a headache. Next year, I will have them done early.
4) Do not over do it. I made a three tier Christmas cake for my family to see if I could and it was a great learning experience…but it was too much to do and I would not do it again this time of year. Next Christmas scale it down.
5) Keep Christmas Day as a day relax. I was exhausted by the time Christmas Day came around. I didn’t even make it to church. I didn’t get to play with the kids and I never got around to doing the traditions I actually wanted to do. I will never give this day away to anyone else again. I loved visiting with my family but I needed to give myself the gift of a day off. I will not forget that next year.

Tea and Cake Tuesday

For Tea and Cake Tuesday, I will share with you my Christmas Eve cake. This is the first cake I (kind of) designed myself. Also it was the biggest one I had ever done so it presented quite a challenge for me time wise and transportation wise. It was a great experiment and I learned so much. Looking towards next year remember to keep challenging yourself.

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2016 Feelings Goals

emotion-clip-art-yio6krpiEYes I know it sounds odd to have a goal about how I feel. If you are like me and tend to go to extremes about things how you feel and react emotionally is no exception.  One of the points of this blog is finding a  way to balance irrational and emotions with rational thought.

It could be anywhere from irrational self doubt, too holding unneeded grudges. It might be carrying on about mistreatment or holding on to anger and well…over doing it emotionally. We all have these tendencies from time to time but when they are extreme they can impact and even feel like they are controlling our lives and decisions. Keeping us from truly being happy. So, I have decided to add a 2016 Feelings goal in an effort to help me recognize the times I may have these extreme emotions.

Goal #1- Practice Gratefulness – This holiday season I made a concerted effort to keep a grateful mindset. It really helped me to appreciate people and moments in my life a lot more. It helped me so much to find forgiveness and understanding where in the past I would have held onto hurt feelings an anger. I defiantly want to incorporate a daily ritual of gratefulness into my life. 

To help keep this mindset I want to finish reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. (Affiliated link)

Goal #2 – Let it go – Like Elsa said “Let it go.” Who knew there was so much wisdom in three little words. This year I want to stop holding on to hurt feeling. I want to be one of those people who can let poor treatment by others and hurtful actions go.

Rationally I know it is from hurt the other person feels and not necessarily something in me. However, the irrational side can not seem to let it go. I replaying the hurtful words or actions over and over and blame myself for actions I could not control in others. I do this a lot at work and I recognize most of the time these events have nothing to do with me. This year I will be more conscious of when I need to let these things go.

Goal #3 – Don’t be involved in gossip. – Gossip is like a virus that infects everyone it touches with bad feelings, anger and false information. I found this article on Wikihow that gives tips on how to avoid gossiping.

Main goal: Finding Balance – This is my over arching goal that this whole blog is built on. In 2016 I really want to dig deeper on what it means to find balance in my 4 areas of focus; food, family, finance, feelings.

The beginning of the month I was under the belief I needed to narrow the focus of this blog. That it was to broad. But after asking for some advice and feedback from all of you, I am confidant that I can serve you best by focusing deeper in on these areas. I am excited to continue to explore the triumphs and struggles in finding balance and moderation. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement during 2015. Here is to embracing this exciting journey in 2016!

Couponing: Is it worth it?

couponingThere was a time when you could save a ridiculous amount of money couponing. If your were strategic, organized and had the time you could fill your shopping cart with a ton of name brand products for free or practically nothing. Then TLC’s Extreme Couponing hit and the retailers caught on to how much money they were letting walk out there sliding double doors.  So things changed. Coupon wording changed. The deals we’re not as grand and the couponing became a bit tougher to manger.

I was once a Couponer. I stockpiled with the best of them. I had bottles of shampoo and body wash hidden in every nook and cranny of my small home. I had a tower of toothpaste tubes that cost a quarter or less.

There were trade offs however, my shopping trips would involved multiple stores. My trip to Target alone often lasted for 3-4 hours as I perused the aisles for deals and coupon matches. It was ok I had a  day off during the week and the trip was like retail therapy. I really enjoyed it and even looked forward to it in a conquesting mother sort of way.

Then mine and my husband’s schedule changed. The couponing trips became impossible to do with children in tow. I reduced my multi store trips to CVS and Target till that lessened to only CVS. Then that only became once a month. It lasted like this for 3 years as I went through my stockpile. Yes… my stockpile lasted for three years.coins

Now, I have gone through the laundry detergent, shampoo and deodorant. There is ample room under my sink and I have had to run out for toilet paper (The horror!) I figured I should start couponing again, but each time I find less of the deals I once did. This makes me wonder. Is it still worth it to coupon?

For me it comes down to this question, time vs money? Do I save enough money now to make the time commitment of printing, organizing and shopping with coupons worth it? On these extreme couponing shows the mothers are usually stay at home moms. They have also brought there kids and other family members in on the couponing adventures. But is couponing practical for the working mom with limited time?

The answer in my opinion is yes and no. Ok, I know that’s not really an answer. I think Extreame Couponing is totally not doable for working mom’s. The time we would need to invest would be time away from our children and family. Having a job outside the home already takes  so much time away from them that I am not willing to give up anymore.

However, small trips to say CVS or Walgreens can still be a good investment with coupons. You can still save a bundle on shampoos, body washes, air fresheners and the like. Also, a smaller trip like this can be squeezed into those margins of time like a lunch break and stop to buy milk after work.

If you have a Publix or supermarket that specializes in BOGO’s you can also make a quick trip here. But be warned this can easily get out of control. Locally Publix tends to be more expensive then other stores and can run you into a lot of money if you deviate from the BOGO plan. Also some coupons have specific wording that prevents them from being used to buy BOGO’s, so be sure to look at the fine print.

When I couponed I always saved big a Target. These days however, I just don’t have the time to invest in a long Target shop. For me this is something I can not longer invest the time in. If you have the time and ability to plan, check out the The Krazy Coupon Lady.com. They give great advice with clear and concise matchups for many stores including Target.

If I do use coupons for food items, I now use them at BJ’s Wholesale club. They have there own booklets of coupons that are free to members and they also accept manufacturers coupons. However since their items are bulk some coupons will only be useful if the items have individual SKU numbers. Refer to there coupon policy for me information. Keep in mind other bulk stores like Costco do not accept manufactureers coupons. For this reason I prefer shopping at BJ’s.

One final note on couponing. Most stores have changed their coupon policies to prevent extreme coupon deals. Likewise, coupon wording and acceptance has changed so be sure to read the fine print before attempting a deal. If the store gives you a hard time it is best to just move on.It is not  a savings if you leave the store angry and annoyed over a bottle of shampoo.

Happy Couponing! If you have any suggestions or story’s of your couponing experiances please share them. Would love to hear your thoughts.

 

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas to everyone. Today I am taking a blogging day off. (My son was up at 530 am) We were not only visited by Santa last night but also the Tooth Fairy. Our house was pretty busy. Have a wonderful day everyone!

Santa’s on his way

I just finished a marathon wrapping session after having a wonderful Christmas eve dinner with the family. For those of you still up, it’s officially Christmas… hope yours is a merry one. wp-1450576210628.jpg

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