Big snow

For about a week, weather forecasters have been talking about this "big snow" supposed to come through this week.
Originally the system was to strike on Wednesday night ... which became Thursday. We were told to expect six to eight inches of snow. 
Guess what we woke up to? Nothing.
I had to laugh. All last night, the local TV station teased that its morning show would have all sorts of storm coverage. And then there was nothing. Working at a newspaper, we're obviously in a bit of competition with the TV station, so I found this totally hilarious. Can you imagine what the anchors thought when they woke up and saw no snow? I imagine it was something like "Oh shit, now what are we going to talk about for two hours?"
In all fairness, the snow is now falling ... way later than expected. I only have a little over an hour of work left for the day, then I'm going home and curling up in my flannels!


A day with my mama (recipes included)

One advantage of having our hours at work cut to 32 a week is that I have more time during the week to do special things I may not otherwise be able to squeeze in to my schedule.
On Wednesday, I spent the day with my mama, being domestic :)
When I was a kid, I'd help her can all summer long — pickles, green beans, tomato juice and more. Well, my parents raise cattle and my mom would always can beef. In the past year or so, I've realized just how awesome it is to have that canned beef for a quick meal. One of mine and J's favorite meals is just to open a can, cook it in a little EVOO, and mix in with some seasoned rice. So this time, I helped mom can it.
And it was so EASY! Seriously. What we had only made about 16 pint-sized jars, which isn't a lot to split between two people. But mom has friends who just use roast from the store.
So here's my plan: whenever roast goes on sale for $1 to $1.50 a pound, I'll buy up 10 or so pounds and cut it up. Then I'll haul it up to my parents' (since I don't have a pressure cooker) and finish it up.
Here's the super-easy recipe, though:
- Cut beef into cubes (about one inch)
- Pack as tight as you can into canning jars (we use pints)
- Pour 1/2 tsp. canning salt on top
- Add about 1/4 cup water
- Put lids and rings on as directed
- Put in pressure cooker. The manual has directions on how much water to add to the cooker
- Turn on the stove and once the pressure cooker starts jiggling, just let it keep at it for 75 minutes. Then you're done!

While doing this, I also made my grandma's homemade meatballs for lunch, and mom taught me how to make gravy. Here's the meatball recipe:

Mix the following:
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
- 2 slices bread, torn apart
- Chopped onion (optional)

Form into balls and roll in a flour/salt/pepper mixture. Brown in grease or oil (I use a cast-iron skillet.)
The meatballs can be served with spaghetti, gravy or as an appetizer. My mom likes a tomato gravy - you basically add flour to the leftover juice, then adds tomato juice instead of water and Kitchen Bouquet, then puts the meatballs back in. Delicious!



One of the bad things about working out?
It wears you out!
For the past couple weeks, I have been exhausted, pure and simple. The days that I'm able to sleep in, it's typically 10 a.m. before I get out of bed. And I'm not a night owl, either - lots of nights, I fall asleep on the couch during a commercial of the 9 p.m. show (and we all know I really don't want to miss CSI Miami, The Good Wife, the Mentalist, etc.)
After falling asleep before 8 p.m. last night, I decided this morning that enough is enough! I have to do something to get my energy back! So I went on a search for my vitamins.
I buy mine at GNC. I knew I had some when we moved, but had no idea where they ended up. After about 10 minutes of searching (and wasted energy) I finally found them. In my vanity. File that one under "what was I thinking?"
Anyhow, these are the vitamins I use. In the past, they've done an awesome job of keeping me on my toe s despite the extra exertion of energy.

According to the GNC web site, the four pills focus on: multivitamin support, mental sharpness, antioxident protection and energy enhancement.
These retail about 30 bucks, so approximately $1 a day.

Does anyone know what I'm talking about? Do you use anything to boost your energy when working out?


Menu Plan Monday: Jan. 24-30

It's Monday again! A cold snap is coming back through the area and I'm all about hearty but easy meals! So here goes:

Sunday: Stew w/leftover pork roast, biscuits
Monday: Chili dogs, French fries
Tuesday: Chicken enchiladas, black beans
Wednesday: Beef tips with seasoned rice
Thursday: Breaded chicken sandwiches, macaroni and cheese
Friday: Leftover enchiladas
Saturday: Dinner out. We're going to Strawberry's Barbecue!

Shapin' Up: Week Two

OK, so week two wasn't near as awesome as I'd hoped it would be. I'm going to blame a lot of it on my lack of self-control ... my friend had a hot tub party on Saturday night and while I kept the alcohol in check, I did not do so well with the eating ... especially when the chips and dip came out! And all that the night before weigh-in wasn't that great either. 
Still, I managed to have a small loss this week - once again, 0.8 pounds - so my total weight loss is 1.6 pounds. As long as I'm losing, I don't care how big or small :)
Plus, I can say that I know my body is changing more than just that pound and a half. When I look in the mirror after I get out of the shower, etc., I see that things are a lot tighter. Plus, I remind myself that I am still building muscle. 
One thing I'd like to do a lot better on is my extra cardio workouts. I only went to the gym one extra day last week - in fairness, though, I planned to go on Friday but forgot a T-shirt, of all things :) 
I plan to go today though, and made sure my T-shirt was packed in my workout bag. My goal is going to be three days a week, with an extra 30 to 45 minutes of cardio each day, in addition to The Shred. 
I'm also being a bit mean to myself to gain some extra motivation. 
It's been almost a year since I last had highlights and I'm hating how blah my hair looks. Well, I decided that I'm going to earn it, and won't schedule them until I've lost just over 10 pounds. I figure that will give me a good push to lose more weight. We'll see :)


I heart Express

Express is, without a doubt, one of my favorite stores.
The clothes are trendy but not just a one-season wonder. They're durable. And not that bad of a price!
Here in Southeast Missouri, there are no Express stores. So I didn't discover this little bit of heaven until my freshman year of college — when I also bought my first pair of Express jeans.
It only took me a couple of years to outgrow them. Sigh. But they remain in my closet.
When J visited me in CoMo, I introduced him to Express — which he, too, now loves. One time, the store was running an awesome sale, like buy two get one free, so he bought me another pair.
Lo and behold, my waistline got a bit too big for these. However, every now and then when I slim down, I can get into them again.
And this morning, I did just that :)
So I'm at work, feeling fabulous about my awesome self, wearing my Express jeans.
Yes, that's all it takes to make me happy.
Now if I can just slim down enough to wear the other pair ...


Rain, rain, go away

It's January, and we're under a tornado warning. How crazy is that?
It's been raining the last two days and I'm sick of it! The street in front of our office floods horribly, but I was lucky to find I left my rainboots in the car yesterday, thank goodness. I may have gotten some funny looks, but I don't care! At least my feet aren't wet and stinky!
Other than the rain, not much going on in my life. I've been working, working out and cleaning.
Wednesday I utilized the gym membership for the first time and did 35 minutes of cardio - 20 on the treadmill and 15 on a bike. We also did level two of The Shred ... so super sore today.
Here lately, I've been super tired.
No, I'm not pregnant :)
I think I'm just feeling a lot of work stress and the workouts are a lot on my body. So I may need to buy some vitamins ...

I'm making chili for supper tonight. That makes me happy.

Tomorrow is Friday ... which would make me happy, except I have to work Saturday morning. Boo.


My super-awesome shopping trip

I was so excited with all the deals I got while shopping over the weekend, I just had to share. 
I went to a total of five stores, and spent $50.33 for everything pictured below. Yes, I went over the weekly budget by 33 cents, but I don't care. 

A slight breakdown:
Everthin to the left of the table was from Wal Mart. I price matched the cereal and All and used coupons, so I paid 50 cents per box of cereal and $1 per jug of All. The tuna was free w/coupons and the Healthy Choice meals were just 88 cents each.
I have a lot of beans in the middle of the table. There's a closeout store in town that sells dented cans for cheap prices - I got the chili beans for 50 cents a can, about the price of Aldi but name-brand. I spent $4.40 there.
I stopped at Food Giant to get some yogurt, ketchup and Velveeta for just under 8 bucks.
And the right of the table is Walgreens. Five cases of soda, chips and dip, Wet Ones and neosporin lip health. I paid just over $13 out of pocket (using $9 I think in Register Rewards) and I got back $14 in RR. Plus I'm going to submit the food/soda for a $7.50 rebate :)

And here's Aldi (please pay no mind to the clothes "drying" on my table) All pretty much basic items. I did spring for the apples to put in with my pork roast tonight ... it's a new recipe, so hopefully it will be yummy :)


Menu Plan Monday: Jan. 17-23

Some of these are duplicates from last week ... that's because a few meals stretched out further than I thought, and we ended up eating out on Friday. So I promise I'm not in that big of a cooking rut!
Sunday: Homemade pizza
Monday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn
Tuesday: Pork roast and apples in the crock pot, potatoes and carrots
Wednesday: Leftover meatloaf
Thursday: Chili and peanut butter sandwiches
Friday: Stew made with pork roast leftovers, cornbread
Saturday: Chili dogs

Shaping Up: Week One

OK, Sundays are our weigh-in days.
Sunday was also Day Eight of The Shred! The exercises are getting much easier, but some soreness is sticking around ... I rationalize that I'm doing the exercises better, and soreness is good, it means I've worked hard! Plus it's not the really horrible kind of soreness - I can easily walk and sit down, thank goodness!
The results? I lost eight-tenths of a pound last week. Definitely not want I wanted, but at least it's a negative. Plus, I'm still working on the whole cutting back on what I eat, making healthier choices thing. We had leftover birthday cake, so I had a small piece four or so times ... and Saturday night, we were craving ice cream so each of us had a bowl. Then there was the delicious muffin tray sent to work last week and more. I know i could have done better, but it's baby steps, right?
On Wednesday, we'll start Level Two of The Shred. Then it will be back to the horrible soreness again ...
In good news, I found out last week my employers have a new wellness program with a local health facility so we can work out for free! I'm not certain how much I'll utilize it, since J and I are doing The Shred together, but we'll see. I'm considering going to the gym after work for 20 or so minutes of cardio, then coming home and doing The Shred with him. It's a 20 or so minute drive home, so that will give my muscles time to relax, but not tighten up too much :)


More goals

I received this e-mail a few days ago. It really made me think - and I believe it's something to live by not just in 2010, but in life. So I thought I'd share: 


- Drink plenty of water
- Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar
Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants
Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
- Make time to pray
- Play more games
- Read more books than you did in 2009 
- Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
- Sleep for 7 hours.
- Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.


Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment
Don't over do. Keep your limits
Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
Dream more while you are awake
Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with His/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present
No one is in charge of your happiness except you
Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.  Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
Smile and laugh more.
You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree... 


Call your family often.
Each day give something good to others.
Forgive everyone for everything..
Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of  6.
Try to make at least three people smile each day.
What other people think of you is none of your business.
Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch. 


Do the right thing!

Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
GOD heals everything.
However good or bad a situation is, it will change..
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
The best is yet to come..
When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.
Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy. 


I told you so

Or actually, I told me so.
In my opinion, the first week of working out is always the worst.
First, you're sore. And why wouldn't you be? It's a huge shock on your body.
For me, my anticipations are always way too high. I think I'm going to be like the contestants on The Biggest Loser and have huge losses.
So this time, I told myself I don't care how much I lose, as long as I come up in the negative every week.
Sunday was our first weigh-in. I had a few extra minutes this morning, so I stepped on the scale out of curiosity. And the number was higher.
Seriously? Yes, I know sore muscles retain water. And yes, I know muscle weighs more than fat. But could I have at least lost two-tenths of a pound to feel like all this agony is worth it?
Well, that's my rant of the day. Hopefully there will be better progress come Sunday.


Shredding off the weight

The past two nights, J and I have spent roughly a half hour doing this:

Yes, we've been working out with "TV's toughest trainer" trying to get into shape.
And my oh my, a 20-minute workout sure does a lot.
I'm sore. My legs hurt. My chest hurts. My shoulders hurt.
But it will all be well worth it.
Let me back up a little .. J and I used to go to the gym semi-regularly. We were the people who would be really into it, then slack off. Then our gym closed and we didn't feel like joining the other one in town. So between that, moving and the holidays, we've done nothing for the past three to four months.
Well, that all changed over the weekend. I was getting soft and could tell. Yes, I may have lost approximately 10 pounds in the past year, but I still want to lose another 10 - but more importantly, get rid of some of the jiggle. That's where Jillian comes in.
I really love the way she sets up her workouts. J and I are not only doing this, we're trying to eat a bit better, too.
We're going to track our weight with Sunday morning weigh-ins. I'll likely post my progress on the blog.
Once I get in the grind with Jillian, I'd like to do a cardio-focused workout DVD, until we can afford some equipment for the workout room. Suggestions?
Oh, and I also really want to brighten up the workout room and make it a happy place I enjoy spending time. Right now, the walls are just a light tan. The color is fine, I just need to jazz it up, so I'm searching for ideas for that, too!
In the meantime, I'm limping and downing lots of water!


Happy Birthday, Jimbob!

J turned the big 34 on Saturday! In our house, birthdays are like holidays, so he was treated like a king (in my opinion) all weekend!
Friday night we went to the Malco and saw Armored. We thought it was a good movie, but J didn't like the ending. Personally, I didn't like seeing Lawrence Fishbrune (Langdon from CSI) as the bad guy!

I had to work Saturday morning :( But my super-nice boss worked with me and made sure I got home early. After I left work, I picked up breakfast for J. I didn't eat all mine, so Hank got a leftover biscuit with some gravy. He loved it!

He even licked the plastic clean :)

Then it was time for presents!

With his birthday so soon after Christmas, it's hard to buy for J. But he seemed pleased with the odds and ends I purchased: Kenneth Cole Reaction cologne, pajama pants, a new wallet and a lunchbox (his old one had a broken zipper.)

J decided for dinner he wanted Shoguns - a Japanese steakhouse up in Cape. We had a delicious meal and tried saki for the first time :) The waitress snapped a pic of us before we left:

Since J had a bit to drink, I drove home. I guess he got bored, because he took a dozen or so pictures of the two of us on the ride. Here they are:

Once we got home, we sat in front of the TV to let our food digest until we had room for cake!

I figured out how to use the self-timer on my camera (I've only had it a couple of months) so we took a picture :)

After we stuffed ourselves with cake, we put on our pajamas, curled up under blankets and watched Terminator on TV. All in all, I think J had a great day!
I can't wait for my birthday in just under a month!

Menu Plan Monday: Jan. 10-16

I'd planned to quasi-participate in the Eat From The Pantry Challenge this month. J and I ended up spending close to $60 at the grocery store over the weekend though! However, that included 10 Healthy Choice meals (had to use the $5/5 coupon), which will do me for lunch for about three weeks, and we didn't go to Aldi at all last week, so I was out of milk, eggs, and some other items. Plus, shopping with J is always more expensive, because he's like a kid in a candy store!
However, we have a pretty full deep-freeze (thanks for all the beef, mom and dad!) so we're blessed that the only meat we typically buy is pork (which I buy at rock-bottom prices from Food Giant, a local store) and chicken breasts, which I also search for sales on. So all the shopping this week was very much stock up.
We're beginning to work out/watch our waistlines again ... so I'm trying to "healthify" some of our favorites. I also scored salad mix for 50 cents a bag, so we'll have lots of that to fill us up before the main course. Here goes:
Sunday: Leftover turkey noodle soup and PB sandwiches
Monday: BBQ pork steaks and parsley potatoes (leftover from last week) and a veggie.
Tuesday: Fish sandwiches with macaroni cooked in tomato juice
Wednesday: Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad
Thursday: The bridesmaids are going to see my friend Jessica try on wedding gowns! So I'll have lunch in Cape, and J will have leftovers.
Friday: Chili
Saturday: Homemade pizza - 1/2 pepperoni, 1/2 Canadian Bacon :)

For more menu planning ideas, go to I'm an Organizing Junkie!


This weekend :)

We'll be celebrating my love's birthday!
Tonight we're going to see a movie (Armored, I think)
I have to work Saturday morning (BOO!) but I plan to bring home breakfast ... either donuts or biscuits and gravy ... then take a quick nap and bake his cake.
Here's a picture of him blowing out the candles last year:

Saturday night, I'm taking him out to dinner, and have given him three restaurants we've never dined at to choose from - Strawberries, Ray's and Shoguns. Afterwards, we'll come home for cake - and I've invited some friends, too! We'll probably end the night with pool, darts, ping-pong and alcohol :)


First snow

Last night, southeast Missouri was blanketed with snow.
As for me, I'd much prefer 80 degree temperatures right now.
It's no secret that I hate cold weather. But if there's going to be snow, I think it needs to be one big enough to have fun, like have a snowball fight and build snowmen.
Then there are the dang SEMO drivers. Seriously ... it's like they see a snowflake and freak out. I'm not so scared of my driving, but the other lunatics on the road - which is why I left the house before 7 a.m. to make it into work.
After driving an average of 35 or 40 mph the whole way, I made it in about a half hour - just ten minutes more than my usual driving time. And before all the idiots made their way onto the roads.
This afternoon will be interesting ...

In other news, I was off work yesterday so I took down my Christmas decor :(
Why can't I keep it up year-round?


Looking ahead

This year, I put a lot of thought into my resolutions. It's not just the typical losing weight, managing money better and all that (although it's included). The common theme, I think, is just becoming a better me.
So here goes:
- Live a healthier lifestyle all together. This doesn't mean losing 5, 10 or 15 pounds - it's being the best I can be, feeling happy and secure with my body and loving every inch of it, and making a conscious effort to working out, walking more, etc.
- Save and pay down our debt. I had quite a bit of savings from my pre-college days, but wiped out a lot of that when buying the house. And now we have the house, I'm terrified something will go wrong and we won't have the cash to pay for it. So I'm pushing J for us to set up a joint savings account. As for myself, I'm going back to what I began last summer: each paycheck, I'll immediately transfer a set amount of money to my savings. I'll also deposit my mileage checks and any overage (from extra time worked). As I have a high-interest bearing checking account, I wait until I have $500 over my minimum balance, then transfer it to checking, but consider that untouchable. I also want to continue doing all I can to get the most for our grocery budget, pay off our appliances early, help J pay off his truck early, and pay extra on every mortgage payment ... to equal at least one extra payment a year!
- Spend more time with those I love. I've gotten in a rut where I only converse with friends online or via text. I'm pushing myself to leave the house more at night, have people over more, and just not be a hermit crab!
- Not let people get to me. Unfortunately, there are some people I with whom I have mutual friends and family who are just plain nasty and, to me, sent by God to test me. Six months ago, I would have retorted back and let it visibly bother me. Now, I've learned they are just sad people and I actually feel sorry for them! Not only that, I've learned to kill with kindness ... if I do that, all they do is end up looking like an ass. Sure, it still hurts sometimes, especially when people are so callous with absolutely no reason. However, since I've started this new way of thinking, I've found that I feel a lot more peaceful and like a much better person.
- Have a date night at least once a month :)
- Set a wedding date already, plan and execute!
- Keep working on the house and bargain shop 'til I drop to fill it and really make it a home without going into debt!
- Read more. Watch less TV
- Condense my closet. When you have a huge walk-in closet with a five-foot dowel rod tons of shelves and all your clothes still don't fit on your two-thirds of it, you have a problem. In my opinion.
- Try more new things.
- Be a better fiance, friend, sister, daughter, aunt, co-worker ...
- Try new recipes every month
And I'm sure I'll come up with more as time goes by :)

Year in review

2009 was a busy year! There were some big and small events in our lives! Since I'm using this blog as a sort of diary that I may consult to (or even print off for my own use someday!) I'm going to do a small review :)
January: J's birthday
The biggest ice storm EVER hit southeast Missouri. We lived on the same circuit as Wal Mart so had power back within a day, but some people went two weeks! During that time, I ran a "flop house" of people staying the night or stopping in for a shower

February: My 24th birthday :)
For Valentine's Day/my birthday, J took me to Memphis, Tenn. and we stayed at the Peabody. LOVED it!

March/April: Nothing sticks out

May: We went on our first real vacation to Florida. (St. Augustine to be exact.) While there, Jimmy proposed!
I became a real aunt when my niece was born May 11!

June: Our house search began

July: Fourth of July camping with J's family

August: Still searching for a house. We need land and have a few other specifications, and nothing that fits that is in our budget.
Labor Day weekend at Current River with friends :)

September: Finally get a contract on a house!

October: Working through all the crap of buying a house. Turns out part of the land (but not the house!) is in a flood plain, so we had to get a different type of financing. Grr!

November: My "nephew" Payton turned 1!
We closed on the house Nov. 20! And started moving the next day :)
We had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

December: I came down with kidney stones. Worst.Pain.Ever.
First Christmas in our New House
One of my besties, Jessica, married Justin before he went back to the army to be shipped out for Afghanistan. It was just a courthouse wedding and they're planning a big wedding for May 2011, so we'll have tons of fun planning that over the next 14 months!


Menu Plan Monday: Jan. 3-9

Due to the holidays, I've taken off from menu planning for a couple of weeks and just been swinging it. But I'm excited to get back into it!
Sunday: Baked chicken breasts and alfredo noodles
Monday: J will have leftover hamburgers while I'm out with a friend
Tuesday: Taco night! We load ours with refried beans and more, so that's all we have.
Wednesday: I'm going to finally use all that leftover turkey for a turkey noodle soup. We'll probably have sandwiches to go with them.
Thursday: Baked pork chops with gravy, mashed potatoes and corn.
Friday: Salmon patties with fried potatoes and noodles in tomato juice
Saturday: Jimmy's birthday! I'll take him out for dinner :)

Happy 2010!

2010. Seriously? It seems like it wasn't that long ago we were all scared about Y2K. Time passes by much too quickly!
J and I had a fantastic New Year's weekend! I was off work Thursday AND Friday, so it was a super-long weekend for me :) I spent the day Thursday cleaning, doing laundry, and grocery shopping/preparing food for our NYE party that night. We love our big "game room" basement so we were thrilled to have people over and have plenty to do, plus a dedicated space to party - and not have to drive! Now I'm just ready to finish up the bathroom so we don't have to go upstairs (or outside :))
After staying up until 4 a.m. or so, J and I got up around 11 Friday (we were surprised, too), had a big breakfast and went downstairs to clean up. The floor was a bit sticky from beer pong, but it only took a little over an hour to get everything cleaned. Then we decided to relax and watched movies all afternoon!
Saturday we did some work around the house :) We weren't really in love with our kitchen ceiling fan, and the two spare bedrooms didn't have them, so we bought a new one for the kitchen. J took it down, assembled the new one, and put the old one up in the office. We'll buy one for the guest bedroom next time Lowe's runs a sale. We still have one to hang in the living room, but that's a lot of work! While J was busy, I helped a little ... and also cleaned out and organized the laundry room plus the guest bedroom closet — both of which were places we just stuffed things while moving in. I also cleaned and mopped the kitchen :)
Sunday was another low-key day ... we relished the last day before we had to return to work. After a quick trip to Wally World for shelves for the laundry room, we went to Jimmy's niece's birthday party. She is 14!!! Oh, to be 14 again .... Then we came home and I clipped coupons while J sat on the couch.
I have a few goals for the new year ... but this is long, so I'll save my resolutions for another post!