Grocery Shopping Tips

Do you find yourself at the store wandering around aimlessly trying to figure out what to buy and cook? Do you throw away vegetables and meats on a regular basis because you forgot they were in the fridge? Do you often forget something and have to go back to the store later to pick it up? Well, fear not. Below is a foolproof way to save money, time and energy by following a few simple rules before grocery shopping. Try it out once and you’ll never go back. Enjoy!

1. Have a small magnetic white board on your fridge so that you can write down things you need right when you remember them. There’s nothing more annoying then going back to the store to get that bag of sugar that you didn’t remember ran out last month.

white_board_grocery_list

2. Look through your fridge before you go shopping to see what food you still have that you should remember to incorporate in next weeks meals. Also, take a peek in your pantry to see if you are running low on staples (onions, garlic etc) and also what dry good you should try to use up.

2. Write a shopping list. I write on the top of the paper what I’m making for dinner for the week  and then the list of ingredients I need to buy below. If you want to get super organized, make three columns under your dinner ideas. In your mind divide up your grocery store into three parts (left, middle, right) and as you are writing your list write your grocery items in the appropriate column. This will actually save you a good amount of time while shopping so you aren’t running all over the store. Try it once and you’ll see…. After I’m done shopping I tuck that paper under my magnetic white board with the menu peaking out of the top to remind me what meals I planned on for the week.

grocery_list_menu

3. Start on the side of the store that has more bulky/sturdy items like bottled water. End up on the side of the store that has the fruits and vegetables so you don’t end up crushing your produce

4.  Put away items away in their respective categories. When you get home,  take out all the grocery’s out and put them on the counter.  Then put away the frozen goods first, then meats, dairy, vegetables and finally whatever isn’t refrigerated.

5. Write on your white board the expiration date for meat and a list of veggies in the crisper. Its good to section off a little space to write what meats you have in the fridge and their expiration date. That will help avoid having to throw expensive meat away because you forgot its expiration date. Also, write a list of the vegetables in your crisper so you can make sure to use those up before they go bad.

Hope this was helpful and will make grocery shopping a little less hectic and bit more fun. ;)

Hopes Wishes and Dreams

When I’m in a situation that I feel comfortable with a friend or family member I ususally like to ask, “So, what are your hopes wishes and dreams?” My brother-in-law Mike told me once that he knows if he comes near me that I’m going to launch into some deep conversation with him so he has to prepare. haha. Anyway, I like to figure out what it is at the core of people’s hearts. What do they really want for their life? What makes them tick? The findings are often extremely interesting. There are a lot of people out there that haven’t really given any dreams a second thought. They just want to live a comfortable life and enjoy the ride. Others have these gigantic goals that involve world travel, fame, fortune and all the rest. I don’t really think there is such a thing as a small dream or a big dream. Whatever your dream is, its your dream!

For me, I’ve always been a  dreamer. I’m always coming up with some scheme or goal to accomplish whatever it is that I’m after. And even though my dreams have changes, the core energy behind what has fueled my dreams has stayed the same. I have finally realized after years of chasing my tail that what I want for myself isn’t fame, fortune, world travel or a mansion to call my home. What I want is to really experience my life. I just want to refine myself, improve and constantly “level up.” I have no idea why this is so important to me, but it is. Whenever I master something, I create a new goal for myself before I’ve even appreciated reaching that milestone. And since I’ve learned this about myself recently its also brought about a sort of melancholy over my dreams. Because before when I would dream about something, there came that magical intoxicating infatuation with whatever the outcome would be. As if in the moment of achieving that specific dream, all my worries would melt away and I would have finally “made it.” But I’ve realized that doesn’t exist because there will always be a new dream on deck ready to make my life “perfect.”  My life is my life and it will always have problems because I keep creating them myself. If one has a goal it means that there is a perceived problem. And the only way for it to be solved is by working towards that goal. If I felt like we needed bigger place, for instance, then I’d work hard until we got it and once we got it I’d find another thing I needed (like a bigger car) and work towards that and so on and so on. There will always be a problem (life) that needs to be solved (goal). And being content with what you have doesn’t work either because then it leads to really depressing things like becoming complacent and stagnant which can only lead to therapy. So while my quest for all my current dreams hasn’t been halted by my recent realization, it has made me face a new level of maturity that I hoped I’d never have to face. And that is reality. Having dreams that are based in reality means that success will come quicker because there are no delusions or ego getting in the way. It also means that the magical moment that you hoped would happen when all your problems would disappear if you work hard enough is erroneous. The carrot is gone. In its place is satisfaction in a job well done and working hard to be a refined individual. Its not as glamorous but at least its honest. And to be fair, since having a family of my own a new magic has set in that I never expected or knew existed. So I find myself working harder than ever but having more joy in the little moments of the day. My baby makes me slow down and appreciate what is already around me. And I’m grateful. Very grateful. I guess I’ve grown up. So to end this I have to ask. What are your hopes, wishes and dreams?

p.s – After writing this I felt there was one more thing that needed to be mentioned. Many of my dreams have already been realized and life IS better and fantastic! But day to day the magic of achieving those dreams has worn off  and I seem to take things for granted. And therefore, any future dreams are really just icing on the cake. Dreams really do come true. But it takes a lot to relish in them on a day to basis. Okay, thats it for now…

Quitting Diet Soda. A 6 Step Program.

Even though I’ve quit diet soda it doesn’t mean that I have any judgements on those that haven’t. I drank it for so long (see figure 1 below) that I had my share of people warning me and wagging their fingers at my bad habit. Let’s be real, we all know diet soda is bad for you! Its not really a secret. So, if you have found this page because you are looking to quit, are curious or merely feeling guilty and wanting to see what other’s have done, then welcome! Whatever stage of your diet coke relationship just  know that its possible to have a successful break up if you want. I’m sharing what I did and hope that it helps those looking for a solution. Just for the heck of it I listed some additional adverse affects of drinking diet soda just in case there’s a few you haven’t heard. How cool would it be if in the future diet coke was only used to make explosions with mentos!?

a-gallon-of-diet-coke-straight-to-the-dome

Quitting Diet Soda. 6 Step Program.

1. Admit that diet soda is adversely affecting your health (see reasons below)

2. Make a commitment to stop drinking it completely and to never take another sip. (This step is important!)

3. Stop drinking diet soda

4. Stock up with replacement drinks that are aspartame free. Sparkling water naturally flavored with lemon or lime is great as well as Zevia (Zevia is sweetened with Stevia which is a natural sweetner). If necessary you may allow yourself to drink a little regular soda (like one bottle of mexican coke) to take the edge off in the beginning. I found this helpful since I don’t really like sugary drinks and am not in danger of overindulging.  However, if you feel this will result in another addiction then steer clear.

5. Keep caffeine pills on hand for emergencies. I know this also sounds like a recipe for another addiction but hear me out.  My hypothesis is that those that overdo it on diet soda aren’t the same people that overdo it on caffeine. Those are the energy drink/espresso drinkers. Diet soda people have more of a thing with eating and the caffeine addiction is a residual of that. Taking a little caffeine in pill form isn’t nearly as fun as drinking a diet soda and definitely not as delicious. So if you are putting off quitting diet soda because your concerned about your caffeine headaches then just take a little caffeine in pill form until you can wean yourself off. A diet soda has about 50 mg’s of caffeine. The pills I found are 200 mg’s so I just cut them in half and then in half again with a butter knife. Easy!

6. Congratulate yourself for your victory over diet soda and recommit daily to staying diet soda free!

Grocery List:

Zevia (found at Whole Foods or online. Their cola flavor does have caffeine in it)

Sparkling Water (I get a box with 12 can’s naturally flavored with lemon & lime)

Caffeine Pills (You can find this in any drugstore and most grocery stores)

Diet Soda Fun Facts!

Metabolic Syndrome results in some pretty scary symptoms. This was the least scary picture I found but if you google “metabolic syndrome” you’ll get the idea. Not cute.

diet_soda_metabolic_syndrome

Aspartame converts to Menthanol in your system which then turns into formaldehyde. Yikes! The results of this are:

Symptoms from methanol poisoning are many, and include:

  • Headaches
  • Ear buzzing
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Weakness
  • Vertigo
  • Chills
  • Memory lapses
  • Numbness and shooting pains in the extremities
  • Behavioral disturbances
  • Neuritis

The origins of aspartame are unfortunately just as suspect as aspartame itself. Here is a timeline of how and why aspartame was approved by the FDA. I hate to bag on the government as I know Washington is normally full of people with integrity (note sarcasm) but here are the FACTS.

Hope you enjoyed and please update me on your progess!

Looking back after 9 Years of Marriage

Nine years ago yesterday I married my darling-love-of-my-life Michael. You know, its funny to look back on that day because I remember being happy and in love but I was also young and making a huge life decision.  I was crossing my fingers I was making the right choice.  Its wasn’t that I didn’t know what I was doing, it was just that I had never been married before and didn’t know what to expect.  I made my decision based on Michael’s character and my hunch that he was going to turn out to be an A+ husband. But we were really young and inexperienced in life and so we had nothing to go off of except for faith and trust. I was 22 and Michael was 25 and we were just finishing up college at the time. Michael had spent 4 years in the Navy and when we met he was 6 month out of the Navy and 6 months into his college education at Brooks Institute of Photography. So here I was, a 22 year old making a huge life decision and even though I was madly in love with Michael I still felt a little bit of what I’d imagine people feel when they jump out of the airplane when skydiving. Like, “This is fun, scary and I hope it works out!”

So now nine years later its unbelievable to me that the decision that I made to marry Michael has turned into not only a successful marriage but a truly beautiful life beyond anything I could have ever imagined. God and my subconscious self knew way better than I did what I really needed in a life partner. I didn’t realize that I was attracted to Michael because he was a dreamer and a doer. He has the attitude that nothing in life will ever beat him and he had big goals for himself. I need that. I’m a big time dreamer too and I absolutely need to be with someone that fuels that in me. I didn’t realize that I needed someone that was a super romantic. Someone that knew the importance of taking time out to be together, to spoil each other with love notes, gifts and flowers. Someone that made ME a priority and someone that I could make as MY top priority. I didn’t realize that I needed someone that has the same interests as me and is creative and interesting to talk to. We seriously have the longest conversations about the silliest things sometimes (yesterday it was in great detail on the new Superman movie…) and never get bored with each other. I had no clue whatsoever that Michael would be the most attentive, excited and dedicated father. Sooooo attractive! And most importantly, I didn’t realize that Michael’s integrity, quest for good and perfect intentions would result in only good things. I didn’t realize the lottery ticket I was sitting on.

What I did realize at the time was that Michael had a heart of gold. I had someone that when he made a mistake he would fix it and not do it again. I had someone that had motivation and the ability to accomplish things. And the most important thing, I had a man that I loved. This is what formulated my decision and I had a good idea that I was right but only time would tell. Over the years I’ve been slowly scratching off that lottery ticket and only finding that perfect numbers beneath.

In nine years we have accomplished so much together. We both graduated college, built a successful business, had a beautiful perfect baby girl and have grown closer together than ever before.

So happy 9th anniversary to my perfect man in the world. You are perfect for me and as you always say, “We were made from the same batch.” I love you darling!

My Brother-in-Law’s “Man Date” that made it on the Radio

To try to even describe how fitting it is for my goofy, talented, energetic and charismatic brother-in-law to end up being the topic of a radio show is beyond my capabilities. Hank is a man all his own. I feel bad for anyone who hasn’t met him because its an experience that one could never recreate in life.  Hank is a rare character whose personality  rivals that of Mrs Doubtfire and Harry Carey. Hank was the host of a kids show called, “Imagine Island” which gives you an idea of his exuberance…(see photo below)

So when he happened to become the topic of conversation on the radio it was of no surprise to me whatsoever.  Hank is currently working at Cheesecake Factory as he is finishes his credentials to teach theatre. Evidently one night he was the server for a radio host named Gavin who also has similar interests and they  hit it off so much that they planned a “man date.” The whole thing was talked about on the radio and its pretty HILARIOUS. Even if you don’t know Hank personally this whole scenario is hysterical due to the topics it brought up such as: 1. What do you wear on a man-date? 2. Who pays? 3. Should I sit next to another dude in a theatre if I’m not gay? etc. Listen and enjoy!

This first clip is about their first “meeting” and the planning of their date:

Planning a Date with Hank

This clip is the “after-story” of their date:

How the Date with Hank Went

Hank + Gavin Forever.

Gavin_107.9

(this is Gavin BTW…)

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(Hank in the “Imagine Island” poster)

Is it weird that on the day after Father’s Day I’m looking to buy a BBQ for MYSELF?

charbroil_bbq

My husband LOVES barbecue, but I am the one that loves TO barbecue. I cook it, he eats it. And recently my BBQ died. It just won’t work anymore. This thing has more miles on it than an ox during the pioneer days. Seriously, I ran this thing into the ground. Even when one of the burners collapsed on itself because the metal was so corroded, I STILL turned that baby on a grilled with huge flames licking at my meat. Well, that’s all over now and its time to say goodbye and get a new one. I have been eyeballing the sample grills at Ace Hardware for awhile now. Oh how clean and sleek they looked compared to my old Jalopy! The thought of a brand new grill is making me so excited its like Christmas has come early. What should I get? What is the best? I spend a lot of time with my grill so I need a good companion that will be around for awhile. I haven’t made a final decision yet so any advice is welcome. Tell me your thoughts grill-lovers!