Sunday, January 05, 2014

Back to School... *sad face*...2014 Goals

Today was officially the last day of Christmas vacation.  There is more snow outside now then there was on the first day of Christmas vacation.  There is not enough snow to call a snow day. :(  So tomorrow, I will make the trek to school.

So how does one spend their last day of Christmas vacation?  Trying to figure out when the next three day weekend is, of course!  Not really.  Today I finished cleaning the house and putting the Christmas stuff away.  My house looks very empty and plain now.  I would like to leave my Christmas tree up longer.

I also went grocery shopping today.  When I got home from the store, I made chicken noodle soup, meatloaf, and chicken & rice.  I think that we have enough food to at least cover lunches for the week.  I have a few ideas for dinners, so we should be good.


Since I blogged about my favorite parts of 2013, I figured it's time to share my goals for 2014.

1.  Take more pictures.  Ryan got me a new lens for my camera for Christmas.  I need to use it more.  Some of the blogs I follow the authors take pictures that aren't posed and fancy and they look great.  And they are recording memories.  I left my camera out to try and catch a few more photo ops.  Even if they are boring photos like my pretty jars of food rather than ugly boxes of food.  :)

2.  Track my spending (aka--don't spend so much).  I don't think I'm a really big spender, but, I know I could spend less.  One of the places I (we) tend to spend the most is eating out.  I'm going to try really hard to control that in 2014.  Five days in and we are winning.  We went to Ted's Montana Grill last night, but we had a gift card that covered the whole bill, so I don't think it counts as spending. :)  I bought a little notebook to keep in my purse and write down every time I spend money, whether it be a necessity like food, gas, etc. or a splurge like a new sweater or a pair of shoes.  The other day I returned something to Target and knowing that I needed to write down whatever I spent kept me from spending.  It's a small start, but hopefully we will reap the benefits of my tracking. :)

3.  Be healthy--this is pretty cliche' but a good goal none the less.  Included in this is take my vitamins every day, eat more fruits and veggies, work-out more, etc.  So far, so good. :)

Thursday, January 02, 2014

My favorite, quick recipe

I like when I can make something that both Ryan and I like that lasts a few meals.  One thing  I recently found is a recipe for Turkey Chili.  It's fabulous!  It's got some kick to it and it takes about 15 minutes to throw it together.

Today Ryan when back to work after being off for the holidays.  Since we got back from NE on Monday night, had a NYE gathering on Tuesday night and when to Ryan's parents yesterday, I haven't had time to really get some food made for his lunches.  Well, after making waffles this morning, Ryan came down and asked what we had for lunch.  I told him just go to the Prairie Dog today and that I would have stuff for him for lunch tomorrow.  As I was looking at the recipe for meatloaf (his favorite), I realized that I could throw this chili together while he ate breakfast and he would have some lunch.  So I did.  Kind of.  I didn't have the beans, but I had everything else for him. I cooked the turkey, mixed everything together and put it in a bowl for him for lunch.  

I'm working really hard on saving this year.  One way I know we can save more is to eat out less.  I set that as a goal for myself and then on January 2nd I was telling my husband to go eat out for lunch.  Face plant!  This recipe is definitely one of my go to recipes and I will be stocking up on the ingredients for it so we can make it regularly.

I made this recipe card to share with you, my dear blogger friends.  The actual recipe is pinned on my Yummy board on Pinterest, and came from AllRecipes.com .  If you follow the link, it will take you to the original.  The only thing that I've changed from the original is that I do not use the olive oil.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Goodbye 2013...Hello 2014!

Last year in January I set a bunch of goals...sadly I didn't accomplish many of them.  But, I sure thought about them a lot.  :)  Even though I didn't accomplish many of my goals, some great things happened in 2013.  I meant to blog about those great things yesterday, but I forgot.  So here they are, in no particular order.

My brother and his wife became parents and I now I have a beautiful niece.  Little Miss is my favorite thing about going to Nebraska!  She has beautiful sparkling blue eyes and a wonderful disposition.  I am grateful that every time I come home, her momma lets me watch Little Miss at least once while I'm home.

We went to Hawaii!  I made a goal a loooooooooooooong time ago to visit 50 states before I turned 40.  I honestly didn't think I would ever make it to Hawaii or Alaska.  However, we made it to Hawaii and it was beautiful.  We went to Kaui with great friends and got to be with them when they found out they were going to be parents.  Little M was officially made theirs through adoption on December 28th!

On our way to Hawaii we were able to spend a day in Seattle.  Checking Washington off of our list of places to visit.  It was a long day, arriving in Seattle around 9 AM and then departing the next morning for Hawaii.

I got a tattoo.  I've been talking about it for years.  I never thought I would actually do it.  I was with the right people at the right time, and the weekend of Thanksgiving I got my tattoo.  I love it!  I thought I would only get one tattoo, but soon after it healed, I started thinking about my second tattoo.  We'll see if I ever get it.

I attended my sixth National Youth Gathering and checked Texas off of my list of states to visit.  I met some more great people and we had a great time in San Antonio.

I'm sure there were many other great things of 2013, but they slip my mind right now.  Here's to many great things in 2014!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Denver Girls Night Out

About a month ago, some friends from work and I went out for a fun night in Denver.  We had purchased a Groupon for Manis and Martinis in September and decided that it was time to use it.

We met first for dinner before heading to the Beauty Bar.  I don't remember where we ate, but burgers were consumed. :)

The Beauty Bar opens at 7 PM and only does manis until 10 PM.  We headed there right at 7 to be sure that we could get our manis.  Now, if you are looking for all the bells and whistles of a manicure, then the Beauty Bar is not for you.  If you are looking for a quick polish change with a little shaping while you drink your Martini, then head on over.

The four of us got our nails painted and enjoyed a couple of drinks.  The Beauty Bar reminded me of a scene from the movie Grease.  It was decorated with glittery walls and 50s sort of decor.  If my nails hadn't been wet, I would have taken a couple of pictures.

After our manis were dry we headed for dessert at the D Bar.
The D Bar is owned by Keegan Gerhard and Lisa Bailey.  Keegan Gerhard has been featured on the Food Network many times.  It's a tiny little restaurant and every time I have been there, there has been a wait to get in.

The two times I had been there before, I thought that we had just stood in line waiting, so that's what we did this night.  However, after about 15 minutes and telling people they had to stand and wait and that there was no list, I learned that there was indeed a list.  Oops.  I don't know if that's a new thing, or if I just never knew we had put our name on a list when I had been at the D Bar before.  Oh, well, now I know.

As we were waiting to get in, my neighbor came out with a group of her friends.  The D Bar is a great way to spend a girls night. :)

Monday, August 05, 2013

I Heart eMeals!

I also heart e-mails, which is what most people think I'm saying when I talk about eMeals.

So let me tell you about eMeals, so that you too can heart them!

I <3 eMeals

I had heard about emeals about a year ago when a friend/co-worker sent me a Groupon about it.  I looked at it and thought, no, don't be stupid!  You can look up recipes online and you have a few cookbooks.  So I passed it up.

Then, in May or June Colleen was telling me how a friend of theirs was using emeals and how it was a great tool for them.  They own a business and have two small children, so emeals was making their meal planning and prepping a breeze.  Colleen mentioned that she was going to try it.  Then I saw the Groupon was available again.  So I sent her the Groupon link and she bought it.

I still wasn't sold.

After Ryan and Colleen had been using it for about a month I asked how she liked it.  I was at her house and she showed me the plan.  Holy easy batman!  Every week they would email her a plan of 7 meals AND A GROCERY LIST.  Along the right of the grocery list was the list of staples she would need.  It was pretty awesome.  Then she let me copy a recipe or two...I was sold!

But I had to do two things, first wait for another Groupon and second, convince my Ryan.  The second was the harder.

I Googled "eMeals Groupon" frequently while trying to convince Ryan.  I was hoping to get the same deal Colleen had got.  One year of dinners for $29!  A steal really!  Then a miracle happened!  Groupon was giving your an instant $10 off if you spent over $30 on a Groupon AND eMeals had a Groupon that was $39 and included dinners AND lunches for the year!  I was double sold.  Lunches and dinners for a year for $29!?!  How could I not?  I did it!

We've been using it about two weeks now and I love it  When the menu comes to my inbox I print it off.  I go through it and see if there is anything that I know we won't eat.  If so, I cross it off and cross off any of the grocery items related only to that meal.  Then I check my staples to make sure I have them all.  I also check my meat supply.  I buy a lot of chicken and pork chops when it's on sale, so I did have a pretty decent supply in my freezer.

We (I) chose the clean eating plan.  This past week for 14 meals I paid $100 in groceries.  Since returning from NE we have eaten out once, on Saturday, at the Movie Tavern.  If we ate out more than three times a week for dinner, we'd easily spend $100!  So getting 14 meals for both of us for $100 a week is pretty awesome!

Tonight as we were eating Chipotle Chicken Potatoes, I asked Ryan if he was willing to admit that eMeals was an okay investment.  His response, "I still don't know what it does that a cookbook can't do." So I told him he could pick, plan, and shop for the meals next week out of a cookbook.  The ease of having it all emailed and ready to go is worth it in my book.  Especially once school starts back up and I'm driving 45 minutes each way every day!  To come home and not have to think about what to make will be awesome!

New menus come on Wednesdays, so I would like to be able to go to the store on Friday nights.  Doing that allows the weekend to prep anything that needs prepped.  This week I prepped a few meals and had them in the fridge with sticky notes on them.  Ryan was able to finish up the process when he got home and dinner was ready!  That's fabulous!

I <3 eMeals

**eMeals did not pay me to promote them, all of my opinions are my own based on my own experiences.  If you click one of the eMeals pictures in this post you will be taken to my eMeals referral page and I can receive a 25% referral commission.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

San Antonio

At the end of June we headed to San Antonio for the LCMS National Youth Gathering!  This was the sixth gathering that I have attended and Ryan's second.  I volunteered as a CLB.

Being in SA was nice and different.  Most of my gathering experiences have been in Orlando or New Orleans.  My first one was in Atlanta.  I was glad to go somewhere different AND somewhere I had never been!

We arrived two days before the kids did.  I had two days of training before the gathering started.  I served in an Information Booth which was a lot of fun.  It was probably one of the best jobs I've had at the gathering.

We frequented the River Walk for meals and saw the Alamo.

We were so busy we really didn't get any good pictures taken.  We took a few here and there on the phones, but nothing fabulous.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happiness Happens Here

Today I invite you to click on over to Colleen's blog.  On the first day we were in Hawaii she and Ryan got some pretty great news.  Check it out.  But then come back...


Welcome back!  Okay, I think we're at Thursday.  We woke up around 6 AM, damn roosters, once again. 

Today we were going to head to another beach in the morning and then on to an ATV tour of an old Sugar Plantation.  This was recommended to us by Nicole and Tony who have traveled to Kauai quite a bit.  We headed out excited.  Colleen had told us if we wanted to drive we had to bring our driver's licence.  Ryan and I were both excited to drive!  

Once we got there Ryan and I stayed at the car slathering him with sunscreen.  When we got over the ATVs only Ryan and Ryan were driving.  I was pretty bummed by this, because being a passenger seemed like a boring thing.  We talked to the kind people at Kipu Ranch and they worked it out so that Ryan and I could have our own ATV and Ryan and Colleen had their own.  Happy dance!

We were given helmets and handkerchiefs.  I also took goggles.  The trails were pretty dry and full of the famous Hawaiian Red Dirt.  We had AWESOME guides, and I wish I could remember their names.  They showed us how to safely drive the ATVs and stopped to tell us some Hawaiian history throughout the tour.  Halfway through our tour we stopped and they had snacks, macadamia nuts, cookies, and water or juice.  
Stole this picture from Colleen so you could see how dirty one got as they drove/ride
 Along the way we learned about different movies and TV shows that had been shot on the ranch.  We got to see the famous rope swing from Indiana Jones and were given the opportunity to swing on the rope and drop into the river if we want.

Now, this next part is a bit embarrassing, so I want you to remember one thing as you read/laugh.

I was the first one to volunteer to swing on the rope. 

There was also a boy, who had Aspergers, or something, who also wanted to go, so I let him go first.  It was my turn.  I was taken back to my rope swing days at Camp Luther and super excited to drop in the river.  (I had wore my swimsuit in preparation for getting wet this time.)  Well, let's just say that my upper arm strength is lacking.  I fell in the river alright, just not out away from the bank like I was supposed to.  I dropped in the water almost immediately.  I think everyone on the bank was a bit shocked because they didn't know I planned on dropping into the water.  It was pretty great.

Ryan Oakes also went in and dropped into the water.   I decided to go a second time, and thought I'd climb up a rock putting me up higher so I could grab the rope better and swing out farther.  Fail.  I scrapped my foot on the bank and dropped WAY earlier than I planned and came up coughing and sputtering.  Ryan, Ryan, and Colleen looked in shock, saw I was okay and then busted out laughing.  Punks!  But remember...

I volunteered to go first!

And my Ryan and Colleen didn't even try it.  So embarrassing or not, it was also fun.  And Ryan and I got to sport these amazing water shoes for the whole adventure.  I'll let you guess who's leg belongs to who... (hint: One of us tans, and the other one stays a pretty alabaster.)  ;)

The ATV adventure was Ryan's highlight of the trip.  Really, when it was compared to cookie tossing took the gold immediately.  I had fun when I drove and the scenery was pretty awesome too!


A couple of things I forgot in earlier posts...

First, when we were on the sunset cruise, we saw dolphins in the water next to our boat  I was lucky enough to get this picture of one diving back into the water.  It was tough to capture them because you weren't ever sure where they would come up.  Once I got this picture, I stopped worrying about getting the picture and just enjoyed watching them.

Second, at the Smith Family Luau it was mating season.  We saw LOTS of boy peacocks strutting their stuff  for the ladies.