Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Inspired by dinner out with some friends on Sunday night, I have to share this Pioneer Woman recipe with you guys. Side-note: did you watch her show on Saturday morning?? I didn't but I caught the new show with Jeff Mauro.  I was planning on going to church Sunday at 11, but lost track of time and watched some Food Network instead. Oh and also changed my car's headlights.

the evidence
 That was much more of a side-note than originally planned... Speaking of getting off topic- we had a history teacher in junior high and high school who took the best bunny trails during class. His off topic comments always turned into 10 minute stories. We heard about drug addicts who thought they were carrots, the best practices in turkey and deer hunting, and history lessons camouflaged as interesting stories.

In case you're curious, I am really proud that I was able to change the headlights in my car myself. The car shop I go to wanted $40!! I went to the parts store and bought the bulbs for $9.99 each and it only took me 30 minutes to do. Luckily, my car has a really simple design and there weren't a lot of things in the way of the headlight socket thingys. I had heard that I might need to take out the battery and unscrew some things to get to the lights, but it was much much easier than that.

OK, back to the Salsa. yes, restaurant salsa is the topic I started to write about 3 bunny trails ago... I've been eating more salsa lately because it's a great dressing and condiment when you're on a diet. We went to a local Mexican restaurant on Sunday afternoon that had some goood salsa. I'm getting tired of the chunky kind from a jar, and was curious about making my own. I thought for sure lots of chopping would be involved, but according to this recipe- all I need is a food processor or blender.
Picture from The Pioneer Woman
 I can't wait to try it. I'm planning on making tilapia this week, salsa would be perfect on top. What do you think? Do you make your own salsa? My guy adds lime and garlic to store bought salsa to amp it up. (which is a delicious option, especially with lime chips.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top 5 things I've learned about money

via here
I'll admit, I'm not in the best position to be giving money advice. I'm going to be pretty transparent here. I'm in debt. 

Yes, I have a pretty small student loan that I've been paying faithfully since graduation. What I'm talking about is the credit card debt I let pile up when I got sick. It turned out that I couldn't afford all of the doctor's visits, scans, and a hospital stay. I bought new clothes and things that made me feel happy when nothing in life seemed right.* Before I knew it I was in over my head and I just figured that I would pay it off when things calmed down. I learned really quickly that life doesn't calm down... First there were doctor's co-pays, perscription co-pays, medical bills for my insurance deductible, then came new tires, new brakes, and finally vet bills when Brody was sick.

In a perfect month, without any extra health, vet, auto or other costs, I have money to put into savings and a little bit extra. But life is far from perfect, and once you spend your savings it seems like it takes for-ev-er to build it back up again. I wish I could do the last two years all over again. (Oh wait, no..I really don't.) But do I wish would have heard it in a way that mattered to me before I got into this mess. I was arrogant and thought I knew better than all of the smart people who had ever given me advice about money. I didn't think credit card debt was something that could happen to me. (Does this prove any cliche about being young?) So here it is, for myself to never forget, and anyone this might benefit:
via here
5 Money Lessons I've Learned

1. Sometimes you can't afford even the basics
  • Just because I had a job, health insurance and was over 21 didn't mean I could do it all.
  • I thought since I had medical bills, I had to pay for them right away. So I would take out my credit card and pay each bill. WRONG! if you can't afford to pay for them with cash, do not put it on a credit card. I didn't learn this until I maxed out a credit card and then wondered how to pay the bills that kept coming in the mail.
  • Food might be necessary to live, but if you can't afford it, find a way to get it without going into debt. I rationalized my way into using my credit card for "healthy" food, into stocking up on things because they were cheap, into eating out because I couldn't wait until I got home... There are a lot of other options than the way I did it.

2. Ask for help
  • I didn't tell my family how much being sick was costing me financially. I figured I should be able to pay for it all since I had insurance and a full time job. I'm sure they would have had lots of support and advice to give had I asked for it. Don't try to do it all on your own!

3. Hospitals and healthcare companies will work out payment plans with you
  • I had no idea this existed for every day people (not just for those in true poverty situations). Even if you are able to pay, but it will make money tight for you, call and set up a payment plan. Credit card companies charge interest, health care providers do not.
  • Call as soon as you get the bill. I let several hundred dollars pile up in medical bills while I was stressing over how I could pay for them. By the time I called, several of the bills were months old and headed to collections.
  • The biggest bill I had was almost $2,000. I had no choice but to call the hospital and find out what my options were. I was so surprised, there were options and the person on the phone was not condemning. I set up a manageable plan to pay $200 a month until it was gone. 

4. Things cost 2 or 3 times more if you pay for it with credit (and don't pay off your credit card balance each month)
  • If you're buying something now because it's on sale, but can't afford it without a credit card- it's really not on sale. I'm still learning this one. A good deal, is so hard to resist. My idea of a "good deal" is changing.

5. The bad financial choices you make will catch up to you (quickly)
  • Even if your finances don't matter to you today, they will matter in the future. I thought I would have more time before I would have to deal with it all, but the bills come fast and the debt piles up.
  • If you can't afford it, don't buy it. This might be common sense, but I didn't think it applied to me when I was spending money I didn't have.

*I knew then that I was looking for comfort and peace in the wrong place, but it still didn't change the fact that buying a new pair of shoes or craft supplies made me forget how stinky life was. Sometimes I think that doing something special for yourself, like buying a new pair of shoes, can be a great reward, but I took it too far. Now I'm paying the price. Now every time I pay my bills and have little left over I'm reminded that God is my sustainer. He is the one who will give me sweet comfort, lasting joy and the strength to keep moving through life. (take a look at Psalm 46:1 and Mark 6:25-34)

Some links to bloggers who talk about money and wisely using it:
Faithful Provisions
Simple Dollar
Christian Personal Finance
Get Rich Slowly
My Coupon Teacher

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Delightful Phrases: a Judy Garland moment
P.S. Don't you think Judy Garland is just beautiful? A couple of weeks ago I went to the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Frist Center and there was a piece he did of images of Judy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Story of a Simple Dress

Let's say you buy a dress...

It's a simple jersey dress. It feels good, fits well and the color is just right. It's easy to layer for cool summer nights and early fall mornings:

Summer into Fall

Then it gets cooler, and you can't imagine putting the dress away with your summer clothes. So you pull out some comfy tights to go with your favorite boots...

Fall into Winter

When winter is almost over, your favorite dress still lifts your spirits with a few spring touches.

Winter into Spring

And when the summer heat is back and all you want to wear is a cool favorite, your sweet dress is still there...

Spring into Summer

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kitchen tips n.1

This post is mainly for me. I wouldn't call myself a great cook, but I like to cook. I'm still learning so much, and I can use all of the help I can get. I've run across some great tips lately, and I thought they'd be fun to share. I'll start today and finish in another post.

1. Keep track of your leftovers....
  • From Tammy's mom at Tammy's recipes. She makes a list of what leftovers get put in the fridge after a meal and crosses them off a list when they get eaten. Tammy also suggests labeling containers with masking tape with the date.
  • I have a dry erase board (like this one) on my fridge that would be perfect for this. I'm going to start writing down what frozen foods I have too.  

 2. Cake decorating tips aren't just for talented cake decorators...
  • This cake looks so pretty and hard to make, but Amanda at I am Baker shows how fun and easy it can be. 

  •  Sweetapolita shows us that pretty rose shaped meringues can be piped.

3. One thing that I try to do when I actually cook dinner is pack my lunch for the next day at the same time. If I'm making a salad for dinner, I also make one for lunch the next day. When I dish up my plate from the stove, I put another serving in a Pyrex dish for lunch. I'm sure lots of you do that too.

More another time!!