Thursday, July 31, 2014

New Year Resolution Updates and July Thursday Thankfulness

I saw these cool flowers on a walk.
So these were my new years resolutions and I'll let you know how I think I'm doing:

Exercise Four Times a Week and Stamp Every Day on My WiiFitU Calendar
Um. I stopped playing WiiFit because our neighbor went crazy on Hubs and said we were too noisy. My knee started hurting so I stopped running. I did discover that I had four paid for classes to use up at a local Yoga studio so I've been doing Yoga once a week. But, the only class that works with my work schedule is the gentle one, last week we didn't even stand up. I've started going on walks during my lunch at work in an effort to get up to 10,000 steps a day. I've also been using ClearSky's Pushup, Situp, and Squat apps. I will start doing more exercise after we move. I was so excited to read Ashliegh's post on the Darling Daily about Reflexion Yoga. I don't know if there's a Yoga studio in our new town so I'll sample their at home classes. 

Eat Less Sugar
Um. OMG so much stress eating and that's mostly sugar.

They do taste just like the girl scout cookies.
I did eat the whole box in one afternoon.
It was a rough day.

Use My Clarisonic Five Times a Week
I've been using it everyday I wear make up. So at least once a week.

I couldn't decide what dress to wear, so I wore them all.

Floss 80% of the Time
Oh. I am so off track in this department. Like, I don't even know what floss is anymore.

My 4th of July OOTD
The fireworks were postponed 'til Labor Day Weekend.
The filter I used made it look sunny.

Drink 8 Cups of Water a Day
I think I am meeting this goal during the week thanks to my trusty camel bak. I've stopped tracking how much water I drink. I guess I need to get one of these fancy cups so that I don't have to self report.

I wanted this so bad and I found it on eBay!

Practice Gratitude and Minimize Envy
Um. I've been so bad with my good things journal as you can see below. I do think that I am slowly coming to terms with that fact that I am poorer money wise than I expected to be by this point in my life. Although I've been having mini freak outs since my cousin-in-law told us she was expecting. I am now officially too old to have the four kids I wanted spaced two years apart.

I love this blouse. It is machine washable silk.

Moving is expensive and we are moving to a new more expensive house. Hopefully the fact that our commutes will be shorter will help. I will recalibrate our budget once we move in and figure out how much the utilities there will cost. The house is being switched from oil heat to gas so we have no idea how much our heat will cost this winter.

Try to Spend Less on Beauty Products
I've tried out Boots Expert Sensitive Hydrating Eye Cream, Maybelline® Instant Age Rewind® Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer in Honey, and e.l.f Mineral Face Primer. None of them irritate my skin. The e.l.f. primer is great for $6 and I will probably keep using it until after we've saved up for a house. I still prefer my tarte primer because it is more mattifying and it's made without "yucky" chemicals. When it comes to eyes I only care about what happens to my dark circles. Neither the eye cream nor the concealer seem to make my dark circles less noticeable over the long run, about a week. So I will probably test out a different eye cream after I use this tube up.

I'm also bummed because I've heard wonderful reviews of the Age Rewind Concealer and I'm not sure it will work for me. I actually like the applicator for the Age Rewind concealer, it seemed weird at first, but the color seems to be a bit too light for me and I am pretty sure I bought it in the darkest color offered. (And, I thought I was so pasty.) I can't try out a darker color and see if it works better. I think this might be perfect for me in February so I will hold on to it. What do you guys think?

My no makeup face!
Just the concealer in the same lighting.
My made up face in natural morning sunlight
and the morning fluorescent light of my office.
Is the concealer too light or is it just almost to light? I think it looks okay in natural light but hideous in office light. I've also tried layering my tinted moisturizer over it to tone it down a bit and that seems to work well but I had been applying concealer second to last so I have to rethink my beauty routine.

EDIT I've taken a picture comparing my old concealer, Lancôme Maquicomplet Complete Coverage Concealer in Caramel (right), to the new stuff (left).

Be Nicer to Mr. H.
I've been stressed out and mean lately. I really need to figure out how not to worry about the upcoming move and my parents.

This is a midday top underneath one of my favorite shifts.
I've had the top for years and haven't quite figured out
how to style it. I like it because it's like a sailor dress.

Don't Stop Myself Because of Fear
I have no clue. Hubs and I went to a presentation to learn about how to fill out the form to become foster parents.

I got this tweed jacket from the Talbots' Red Hanger Sale
(It's still happening and I think sale is 50% off!)

The Good Things I Managed to Capture in the Notes on my Phone this Month
June 27 - Quiet party in our apartment with friends.
June 28 - Maybe TMI! My period was unexpectedly heavy last night and I stained my new Lilly Pulitzer Lobstah Roll shorts. An overnight soak in oxy clean has them as good as new. I am so happy.
June 29 - I spent the day with Hubs and it was so nice. We saw X Men: Days of Future Past and I made muffins.
July 1- Hubs had dinner ready when I got home
July 2 - I had a fun day at work because everyone was in an incredibly sociable mood.

I loved the jacket so much I wore it two days in a row.
I work at a remote location with different people one
day a week so only the internet and I know I repeated it.

July 5 - There was a man withal parrot on his shoulder at the farmers' market.
July 6 - Hubs and I played Mario Kart together.
July 7 - I figured out what was going on with the templates on my work computer. I used terminal to I unhide all the folders and I found them and then I just changed that folder to be not hidden. So I can delete the templates that I make and do not like now.
July 29 - I found my pedometer in the couch. I thought I lost it at the beach.

My view right now. We start moving in to our new place tomorrow!
tabbar tabbar!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Review: Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover

I found his book incredibly inspirational. My parents' didn't teach me much about managing my money other than telling me to donate 10% of my income and talking about how they financed cars as opposed to paying cash for them even when they could because they wanted to maintain liquidity. So, I needed help and I found it in this book. I had been reading The Simple Dollar, which I've read almost since it began and this book along with Your Money or Your Life are two books the author often recommended. I could not get into Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez since it came off as incredibly preachy and it felt like it was written by two hippies.

via Walmart

So I read the Total Money Makeover and took notes after I started my first real job post law school. My two big take aways from Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover were that if you make sacrifices today you can be safe and secure tomorrow and debt payments are bad because you could be using those payments on things you wanted in the past for things you need or want now.

He recommends a seven step total money make over: (1) You start by putting aside a small emergency fund, (2) then you focus intently on paying off your debts, (3) once your debts are paid off build up a bigger emergency fund, (4) start investing 15% of your before tax income for retirement, (5) save for your children's college, (6) pay off your mortgage, and (7) then have fun and be charitable. I haven't followed his 7 steps perfectly.

via and flickr

We do not have a dedicated emergency fund but we maintain a large cushion in our accounts which serves the same purpose as an emergency fund--we have cash money that we can use if anything goes wrong. I'd recommend having two emergency funds--one for real emergencies like loosing your job or a bad injury and a replacement fund for things that you know will happen but are unpredictable like car maintenance or replacing your computer.

I also disagree with Ramsey about his absolutely no debt philosophy. He says you should rip up your credit card and only use cash. I think if you can you can you should have a little debt to build up credit and I think there are times it makes sense to have debt. If you're going to need a loan to buy a home or anything else you'll want to have a good credit score. Some employees and landlords will check your credit score and in order to have a good credit score you need to borrow money.

I also think that it makes sense to go into debt now so you can make more money later. Student loans are a great example. Hypothetically my BA and JD enable me to make way more money than I could if I only had a high school diploma. Car loans also make sense if you live in a rural area, like we do, and you need reliable transportation to get to work to make money. A mortgage makes sense if buying a home is over all less expensive than renting.

This was a very expensive purple hood and
velvet hat. Hopefully, I will have a good return
on my investment in this academic regalia.

I do think he is wise to encourage caution about loans. You have to be smart about taking out loans. My law school loans have higher interests rates between 8.5% and 6.5% and I borrowed more money than I needed since I rejected my parents' help to pay for living expenses. Student loans for undergrad seems to have far lower interest rates. But you shouldn't borrow any more than you need to get through school and I wish I would have paid interest on my law school loans while in school so the interest wasn't capitalized. You should look at your student loans as an investment so try to pick a field of study that has a high rate of return (computer science, not law school for example).

My husband has good credit so the interest rate on his car loan was low. He bought a used Prius with low milage so we save money on gas. We're paying extra on the car loan so we can pay it off faster. But we didn't do that with his student loans because he knew they'd be forgiven after he taught math in an underserved area for five years.

Filling up the Prius, a Rare Event

Some people say that if you have a low interest rate on a loan, less than the rate the market would return if you invested it, then it makes sense to invest that money instead of pay off the loan faster. I think it depends on what kind of a person you are. I am incredibly risk adverse so I would rather pay of debts that I have to pay off before investing money.

Ramsey's advice to go cash only is great, however, if you've had trouble with credit cards in the past. If you know you'll buy things you don't need and can't afford if you have a credit card then not having a credit card is probably the best thing for you.

This hasn't been a problem for Hubs or me. I forgot to pay my bill once then set it up for autopay and once I charged more than I could pay off at the end of the month (this happened during the most stressful time of my life a few months before the bar exam and I was engaging in so much needed retail therapy but I have better coping strategies now). Hubs and I both like using our credit cards because we don't charge more than we can afford and we get rewards (cash back, we were looking at a getting a card with airlines rewards) so it we get some of the money we spend back.

Have you read the Total Money Makeover? If so what did you think? What's some good finical advice that's been given to you?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Year in Review and Going Forward

I've been enjoying blogging so far. The only thing I stress about is sticking to Tuesday and Thursday posting schedule. I started blogging to try to feel less isolated while living in Maine and I think the blog is serving this purpose in that regard.

Froyo makes everything better. Including Blog Posts.

I had been thinking about changing up my blogging schedule and maybe posting once a week, I really struggled in June to meet myself imposed posting schedule, but after my crazy busy June was over (I was only home one whole weekend that month) I realized that I didn't have too much trouble getting two posts ready to go each weekend.

Planning ahead for my second year of blogging: (1) More pictures! If I don't get a new camera for my birthday I'll just have to use my phone and (2) Shorter posts! I'll have more things scheduled to post for those times when I get super busy. I also think more pictures and shorter posts will make reading the blog a little more enjoyable. I'll still probably be too long and wordy sometimes, I didn't go to law school for nothing, but I'm going to try to break up long paragraphs with pictures and break down events into multiple posts.

And, I'm going to try to remember: Perfect is the Enemy of Good! If I keep honing a blog post until it's perfect or I keep waiting to post about something until I get the perfect pictures to go along with it, I'd never post anything. So, I've got to try to post what's good enough to post and not wait until my posts are prefect.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My 100th Post & 1st Blog Birthday

Technically this is post 109 but there are 9 previous posts that I'm not counting so it's the 100th Real Post! Also, a year ago tomorrow my first blog post went live so I'm also celebrating my one year blogiversary! I've decided to celebrate by sharing 100 random facts about myself (except I stopped at 40 because even I don't know that much about myself) interspersed with the some of the more awkward pictures of myself.

Me A Long Time Ago
At least I am Pretty sure it's me and not E2.

1. I am allergic to bananas. I've vomited and broken out in hives after eating them.
2. I like fried plantain. They don't give me hives
3. I got food poisoning from watermelon.
4. Food is my absolutely favorite thing in the world.
5. My best friend and I ate most of a whole one-pound box of sugar cubes once.
6. I am a germaphobe.
7. But I will totally eat food off the flood.
8. I’m never too full for ice cream.
9. I am a snob and prefer maple syrup to pancake syrup.
10. I love pancakes.

I made my The Lion King, Hyena Costume myself.
11. I love doughnuts.
12. I’ve loved pickles and olives since I was a child.
13. I used to drink the brine black olives come in.
14. I still do so to gross out the Hubs.
15. I love listening to metal (like 80s Metallica, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath) because it is so epic.
16. I love 80s pop/dance music.
17. The first concert I went to was a Marc Anthony concert. (I convinced my dad to take me because he hoped it would improve my Spanish.)
18. I really want to start a gold charm bracelet.
19. While my sliver charm bracelet languishes in jewelry box.
20. I made up my own imaginary country with a language, history, and everything in Junior High.

Jr. High Class Photo
The face of someone who would learn
all about how to construct a language.
21. I took sailing lessons.
22. I miss Lake Michigan so much.
23. I am always too cold.
24. I would be so happy if it were 75 to 85 and slightly humid all the time.
25. I would miss the snow so much though. I love it even though I hate being cold.

5th (?) Grade Class Photo

26. I used to want to be a 1337 hax0r. Instead I became a lawyer.
27. I still wish I had tried harder to be an astronaut.
28. I am obsessed with chickens. When we travel some place with a lot of feral ones (like Hawaii or Key West) I take lots and lots of photos of them.
29. I have the best husband.
30. I have a diva cup. It is a life changer.

You didn't wear a pith helmet to your high school graduation party?
31. I hate it when I cut my fingernails too short.
32. I can’t stand long toenails so I cut them as short as possible.
33. I am so incredibly pedantic.
34. I think the law is like magic. You say some Harry Potter like Latin mumbo jumbo and abracadabra something about the world has changed.
35. I am continually amazed by how much my handwriting looks like E2’s.

I entered into a Beard Growing Contest in College.
Eyeliner is hard to get off when you smear it all over your face.

36. People have thought E2, E3, and I were triplets when we were young.
37. I am three years older than E2 and 5 1/2 years older than E3.
38. My wingspan, from fingertip to fingertip, is 6 feet.
39. I am 5’8” tall.
40. I wish I were shorter.

A series of facial expressions
All From My Recent Birthdays

The Best Chocolate Bars you can get for a $1!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

4 cups (or more) frozen broccoli florets
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
1 red pepper cut into thin 1ish inch stripes or diced
1 onion diced
1 clove garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2-3 tablespoons honey

Cook/defrost broccoli. Cook chicken in oil for about 5 minutes flipping halfway through. Add sesame oil, peppers and onions, cook a few minutes, add broccoli and remaining ingredients. Cook until the sauce thickens. Serve over rice.

This was so good that we've had it several times in the month since we discovered the recipe. I modified it a bit to make it easier and so I wouldn't have to buy things at the grocery store that I didn't think I'd be able to use in other recipes.

I found this recipe via the Advocare tumblr. I wanted to give the 24 Day Challenge a try so I wanted to try so more gluten free, sugar free (I guess honey doesn't count?), diary free recipes. I tried being gluten free for a month in law school to see if it would help my allergies and eczema, if I had a gluten allergy then that would make my other allergies and skin worse, the only think that happened was I lost weight because I couldn't way the free pizza at the law school or other stuff so now when I want to lose weight I go "gluten free" so I have a reason not to eat pizza or cookies. I don't mean to trivialize the concerns of people who have gluten allergies or have celiac disease and cannot eat gluten.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What I Keep in My Desk

Finally a post with a picture. I have one large draw at my desk. It's supposed to be for keeping files but it's too small for all my files so I use it for personal supplies instead. A happy eHa is a hardworking one. A hungry eHa is one who accidentally takes a nap at her desk or is too hungry to focus. So I stock supplies to keep me happy and to keep my tummy from rumbling.

For Food
I have Easy Mac and plastic utensils for when I forget my lunch (or just the utensils). I have raisins and peanuts in 4 oz canning jars for snacks. I fill em up and bring in a bunch am take them home one at a time. I also have Lara bars because those are the best.

I also have left over Advocare Spark! It's an energy drink powder and it works better than coffee or tea when I am really, tired. I have tea bags but no mugs to seep them in. (I am working on fixing that.) I have some Arnold Palmer instant drink things for when I want something sweet. I have bottle water for mixing the Spark and the Arnold Palmers in and for those days when I forget my water bottle. I also have a can of ginger ale and a drink coozie for if I have a stomachache (stress makes me sick to my stomach).

Other Body Needs
I wear contact lenses so have a spare pair of glasses and contact lens solution and a spare case. Once I scratched my cornea in high school and I had to drive home but I could only see out of one eye.

I take Allegra in the morning and before getting my allergy shots so I keep a small bottle of that at work in case I forget it in the morning or need to get my shots in the afternoon. I have tylenol for headaches. I also have lotion, hand sanitizer (not pictured because it's on top of my desk), petroleum jelly, and mouthwash.

I have spare pantyhose and RunFree to repair hose with small runs in them.

I also horde plastic grocery bags.

Other Things
I used to keep bandaids and antibiotic ointment in my desk draw but now I carry that with me in my purse. I also carry floss and toothpicks in my purse.

I also keep a fleece blanket rolled up on a spare chair that I wrap myself in when the air conditioning is too powerful or it's otherwise just too cold (everyday).

What do you find useful to keep with your at your desk?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Quick Tortellini Pasta Salad

Ingredients for 9 oz of pasta
Salad Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 9-oz refregerated cheese-filled tortellini
1 cup sliced carrots
1 1/2 cup frozen cut green beans
2 tablespoons diced onions

1. In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine all dressing ingredients; shake well. Set aside.
2. Cook tortellini, carrots, and green beans as directed on tortellini package until tortellini is tender and vegetables are tender-crisp. I put the frozen beans in pot as the water heats up because I like most of my vegetables well cooked.
3. Drain; return to sauce pan. Cover with cold water and let stand 5 minutes or rinse with cold water until cool. Drain well.
4. Place tortellini, carrots, and green beans in medium bowl; add onions. Pour dressing over salad; toss gently to coat.

Since I can only find 12 oz containers of tortellini here are the measurements scaled for use with 12 oz of pasta . . .

7 tablespoon + 1/3 teaspoon or 3.6 oz Olive Oil (about half a cup)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/3 t lemon juice
2/3 t sugar
2/3 t salt
1/3 t garlic powder
1/3 t oregano

12-oz refregerated cheese-filled tortellini
1 1/3 cups sliced carrots
2 c. frozen green beans
2 T 2 t diced onions

1/8 t + 1/4 T = .375 and 1/3 ≈ .333
1/8 t + 1/2 t = .625, 3/4 t = .750, and 2/3 ≈ .667
Or you can buy odd size measuring spoons on amazon. I added some to my Christmas/Birthday wish list.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

House Hunting

Maybe We'll Find a House Like this One

Hubs and I are moving and we're looking to buy a house. The further north and the further away from the coast you go in Maine the less expensive houses become. Our pidly downpayment savings will go much further near where his new job is. I am less than thrilled to be moving further into the wilderness but I am so excited about owning a home--the next step on the path to adulthood plus I'll really be able to decorate it and we can have a dog and we'll have space for a nursery.

Hubs is doing all the heavy lifting in the house hunt and to help him I gave him and incredibly long list of things I would like to have in our first home:

  • Dishwasher
  • No carpet (bedroom and stairs or anywhere)
  • Walk in closet
  • 1.5 or more bathrooms
  • Easy to clean surfaces
  • Double basin kitchen sink
  • Garbage disposal
  • Partially finished basement
  • 3+ bedroooms
  • Double oven
  • Central air
  • High celings (7 1/2' is too low)
  • Fireplace
  • Lots of large windows for light
  • Well insulated
  • Wash basin/sink in lanudry room
  • Drainage in basement
  • Attached 2 car garage (1 car is okay if I can park in the garage)
  • Not in a noisy location (reglular highway noise is fine)
  • Good schools
  • Near grocery store and hospital
  • Away from flooding concerns
  • Mud room
  • Pantry
  • On town water and sewer
  • In town so the mailman brings the mail to our door

Is there anything else you think I should add to the list? I'd love a Prairie School or Craftsman style home but it's not an architectural style that's common in New England as far as I can tell.

Any tips for house buying? We are complete and total newbies.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Blueberry Pecan Oatmeal Muffins

Muffins taste better when shaped like doughnuts.
I swear it tastes and smelled so much better than it looked.

4 eggs
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup skim milk
1 1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1 1/2 cups oatmeal

2/3 cup pecan pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Warm milk and apple sauce in microwave oven. Mix first group of ingredients. Let sit for 10 minutes so the oats will soften. Then gently mix in the remaining ingredients. Bake at 375º for 22 minutes. Makes approximately 30 muffins.

I used Multigrain Hot Cereal because Hubs bought some and then didn't like it and I didn't like it much either so I used it up in this mash up of my plane old boring oatmeal muffin recipe. I also mashed the blueberries because I don't like chunks of fruit. I mixed the frozen blueberries in with the warm milk and applesauce so they would defrost and I wouldn't have to adjust the cooking time.

3.1g added sugar