April Updates

It is hard to believe that 3 months have already passed since I last posted on this blog.  Blogging use to be an all encompassing part of my life but I needed a break.  I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do with this blog.  It very well might be another 3 months before I post again.  I’m just not sure!   But while I’m here, let me share some updates from the last few months.  So much has happened!  Josh and I purchased and moved into our first home.

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It has been so fun to have a place we can truly make our own.  Also, the house is bigger than what we really need at this time in our lives, which means there’s plenty of space to shove the miscellaneous boxes I never felt like unpacking 😉 .

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Cooper absolutely adores his backyard and has developed a nasty habit of standing by the back door and crying until you let him out.  The backyard is his kingdom and what he says goes.  (It should be noted that the only things ever being said are “let me out” and “throw the ball”.)

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I started teaching at a new yoga studio closer to home and am now teaching warm and hot yoga classes.  I’ve also been re-developing my own yoga practice.  The first thing to go once I started teaching yoga just over a year ago was my own practice.  I’m teaching two to three times a week and am practicing two to three times a week as well.  It feels so good to have that part of me back in my life.

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I’ve also been putting a big emphasis on my spiritual development which had completely fallen by the wayside.  I have read Mastering Your Mean Girl by Melissa Ambrosini and The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein multiple times and I learn something new each time.  I also just started diving into A Course in Miracles.

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Journaling has been another re-introduction that has felt oh so good.

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Among all of these changes, I’m also starting a new job come Monday.  I am a recruiter and have spent the last two and a half years working for a staffing agency.  I’m making the switch to corporate tomorrow and am extremely excited to see where this new job will take me.

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Life is simply good.

 

Weekend Recap {1.15.17}

I woke up Saturday morning to this…

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Cutest snuggle butts ever 🙂 .  After (creepily) taking this pic while Josh and Cooper were sleeping, I made myself a green smoothie before heading off to teach two yoga classes in High Point.

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My smoothie included cool coffee, unsweetened almond milk, banana, strawberries, chocolate protein powder, ice and lots of spinach because I just love a bright green smoothie.  After teaching I headed home for lunch and Josh made us tune poke which was absolutely delicious.

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I am always impressed with Josh’s food presentation skills. 90% of the time… Josh and I start drinking around lunchtime on weekends.  It’s just what we so, I broke out the white wine and we watched reruns of Royal Pains.

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Later on in the day Josh put together a beautiful and delicious appetizer platter of meats, cheese, bread and basil.  Yum!

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I somehow forgot to take a picture of dinner but Josh made Ina Garten’s Filet Mignon with Basil Parmesan Mayo, and it was served with roasted potatoes and broccoli.  So good!

We also continued watching Goliath on Netflix which we started on Friday night and have been binge watching all weekend.

This morning I woke up wanting only one thing… WAFFLES!  I used this Greek Yogurt Waffle recipe using strawberry Greek yogurt for extra flavor and they turned out great!

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I only had one and decided to freeze the rest to enjoy later.  After breakfast we watched the Food Channel for about an hour and then got ready to head out to hot yoga.  I was ready to “find my balance”.

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It was an awesomely sweaty class and I stopped by Harris Teeter on my way home to pick up our pre-ordered groceries.  When I got home I showered and then Josh prepared yet another yummy lunch.  This time around he served up buffalo chicken salads.

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Currently we’re watching more Goliath… only one more episode left 😦 .  Dinner tonight will include pork chops, mac ‘n’ cheese, and broccoli.

Enjoy the day 🙂 .

The First Snow of 2017!

Happy Saturday and Happy First Snow of 2017!  I was a little doubtful that Greensboro, NC would actually get more than just a dusting but (shockingly) the weather channel was right!  It’s been snowing pretty steadily since last night and it’s still coming down.

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We’ve had a great day so far and it all started with a yummy bacon, egg and cheese english muffin.

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Then we snuggled.

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Did some #SNOWGA (…I just had to!)

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Had a “snowball fight”.

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And since we have officially made it past 12:00pm… it was time for a beer alongside soup and salad.

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Oh, and I “deep cleaned” (actually moved furniture when vacuuming) the “house” (living room and kitchen only… the bathrooms and bedrooms are still a disaster).  Something is ALWAYS better than nothing.

Enjoy the day 🙂

 

 

Let the spending… stop.

I recently became interested in the topic of debt reduction… admittedly because I am in debt myself.  It all started with a simple search of “how do I live off of <enter your income here> per year?”  What I found was that there were a whole lot of people out there blogging about how to live frugally, minimalistically, and debt-free.  Some of the articles I read were on the “crazy” side… like never buying condiments from the store and living off of the free packets you get at restaurants.  (That one was a bit much for me… although I do save spicy mustard packets from Chinese restaurants because the store versions just aren’t the same.)  But this simple search (eventually) brought me to Growing Slower’s post titled “How to Pay Off Debt Fast with a Low Income”  and it was an extremely humbling read.

This was a family living off of one income (around what I make in a year), with one baby, (and another baby on the way), and they were able to not only get out of debt, but thrive in their own minimalistic ways.  I finally realized that the problem wasn’t that I didn’t make enough money… the problem was that I was (carelessly) spending my money in all the wrong places.

My next search was “how do I get out of debt?” and that (somehow) led me to And Then We Saved where I learned about the “spending fast.”  In this post the blogger and author, Anna Newell Jones, shares her intentions to only spend money on needs for an entire year.  At first, it sounded crazy… but a part of me already knew I was going to do it.  I had Audible credits just waiting to be used and happily bought her (audio)book “The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living: How a spending fast helped me get from broke to badass in record time.”  I, like Anna did when she first started this journey to debt-free living, needed to do something drastic if I was going to make any headway in my much needed debt reduction.  So, I made my list of needs and put everything else in the wants (or will “not buy”) category.  Here are my needs and wants lists… with justifications for some of the gray areas.

Needs…

  • Rent and Renter’s Insurance
  • Utilities – water, sewer, electricity
  • Cell Phone (justified below)
  • Groceries – limiting to $400/month (this is a huge change since Josh and I easily spend $200 EACH per month now… goodbye filet, specialty chocolates and fancy nuts)
  • Food/Beverages at Restaurants/Breweries – $70/month (justified below)
  • Pandora – $5/month (justified below)
  • Doggy Daycare – approximately $240/month (quick justification: hyper dog, busy work schedules, need doggy daycare)
  • Dog Food
  • Gas for vehicle
  • Hulu and Netflix, but no cable
  • Medical Visits or Medication, as needed
  • Hair cut – only twice a year and no coloring/highlighting
  • 2 Audiobooks/month – $25/month (justified below)
  • Gifts – $300 for the whole year (justified below)

Wants… (aka things I will not buy)

  • Clothes (even when they’re a great deal)
  • Makeup
  • Home Decor/Kitchen Items
  • Community Events and Races
  • Health Clubs or Workout DVDs (I have enough workout DVDs to last me a lifetime)
  • Coffee at Coffee Shops
  • Dog Toys (sorry Cooper)
  • Movies (in a movie theater or renting… that’s why we have Netflix)
  • New Music
  • Specialty Foods (aka fancy dark chocolate or overpriced granola)

Justifications for the “Needs” Category

Justification #1 – Cell Phone: My cell phone bill (in my opinion) is outrageous!  It is a big monthly expense.  I looked into saying goodbye to my $20+/month iPhone for a $5/month LG phone.  The issue… I have not had my phone long enough to make an upgrade (or downgrade) and it would cost me money to (yes) downgrade my phone.  In about 6 months I will be able to downgrade (without any upfront costs or fees) and I plan to make the change then.  As for data, I use up every last bit of my data and even have to watch myself towards the end of the month.  I will make a big effort to use less data, but will only downgrade when I know it’s feasible and I know it won’t result in monthly overage charges.

Justification #2 – Food/Beverages at Restaurants/Breweries: I just can’t imagine life without it.  Josh is a big foodie and we love to try new places and just enjoy food without having to do dishes.  We use to go out or order food 3-5 times per week and would walk across the street to a local brewery here and there, too.  Cutting back to $70/month is actually a pretty drastic change for me.  Another big change, I can only go out if I can honestly pay for the meal with my debit card without screwing myself for rest of the week or month.

Justification #3 – Pandora: I teach yoga four to five times a week (weeknights/weekends).  In my opinion, a class without music is awkward.  I like for music to fill in spaces when I’m not speaking.  Pandora has two stations that I use every single time I teach (Yoga and Yoga Workout).  It is well worth if for me to keep paying $5/month to have a commercial-free playlist that I didn’t have to spend time creating myself.

Justification #4 – 2 Audiobooks/month: I love Audiobooks and 9 times out of 10 I buy books that will enhance my life… books on time management, leadership, finances, health, etc.  I always listen to them in the car to and from work, and they make my after-work walks with Cooper (exercise) much more exciting and enticing.  I can honestly say these so-called “self-help” non-fiction audiobooks make a positive difference in my life.  Also, I re-listen to books over and over again so they actually get multiple uses.  (I always feel like I take away something new when I re-listen to an audiobook.)  Since I’ve limited most other forms of entertainment that cost money, this felt like a fair one to keep as a “need”.  (PS… I use Audible.)

Justification #5 – Gifts: It just feels sleezy to go on a “spending fast” just before the holidays and announce that I will not be giving out any presents.  I have, however, put a very modest limit on gifts… $50/person for birthday and closer to $30/person for Christmas and I’m only buying gifts for my direct family (Parents, Sister, Fiance).  Sorry everyone else!

Expenses I had but have just recently cancelled…

  • Spotify – I told myself I had to choose between Pandora and Spotify, and (for reasons listed above), Pandora was the better option.
  • Time Warner Cable (Internet/Phone/Cable) – Until about a month ago, Josh was working from home so we justified the crazy fast internet with the crazy high price tag.  Of course, bundled into our internet was cable with channels we never watched and a home phone that we literally didn’t own.  When Josh changed jobs I was able to convince him that we just didn’t need it all.  We actually have internet built into our rent so it made sense to use what we were being forced to pay for.  It’s not the fastest or highest quality but it works… most of the time!  As for Cable, we swapped it out for Sling which we used via our Firestick and Apple TV.
  • Sling – When convincing Josh to cut out cable I ensured him I had an alternative.  I downloaded Sling’s free trial and we both agreed it was almost equivalent.   But…we also pay for Hulu and Netflix.  Having all three suddenly seemed excessive when I was listing out my “wants” and “needs.”  Josh agreed to give up his precious golf channel for one less bill each month.

One thing I purposely left off the list

Travel.  Josh and I have decided to stay home for Thanksgiving as opposed to visiting our respective families in Florida and New Jersey since we will have just seen everyone at our wedding at the beginning of November and we will be out of PTO.  We have, however, already made plans to go to New Jersey to visit his family at Christmas and to visit my family in Florida in March.  We will keep our travel plans in check and seriously weigh the pros and cons of any future travel invitations.

So… what’s next?

With the upcoming wedding and honeymoon I have enough on my plate.  I have become extremely mindful about spending money but I’m not starting the “spending fast” until after we get back from our honeymoon (Sunday, November 13th).  Once I get back, I’m committing 3 months but my hope is to extend that out three more times to make for an entire year.

 

No-Shows, Errands and Rom Coms

Happy Saturday!!  The weather has cooled off once again here in North Carolina and I’m loving it!  I headed out the door this morning with my pumpkin spice coffee in hand wearing yoga pants, a sweatshirt, and Uggs.  I was a happy girl!  I was suppose to teach yoga at 8:45am but no one showed.  I’m going to blame furniture market since the studio is in High Point.  I took that time to run some errands… like putting gas in my car since I was 18 miles till empty and dropping some bags off at Goodwill that had been sitting in my trunk for too long.  Those only took about half an hour and I still had time before I was suppose to teach my next class at 11:00am so I practiced some inversions.

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I’m definitely not ready to leave the wall but I do feel myself getting stronger and more comfortable.  My 10:00am class was also a no-show… again, blaming furniture market.  No biggy!  That just meant I could get a head start on my morning errands to include grocery shopping.  I am a big fan of Trader Joe’s (especially during the fall and winter seasons) but it’s a good 35 minutes from my apartment so extra time on the weekend is greatly appreciated.  On my list was a box of their Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup along with whole wheat bread and muenster cheese.

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First soup and grilled cheese of the season was a success!  

Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup and Grilled Cheese

After lunch it was time to bunker down and work on the seating chart for our wedding.  This was harder than I thought it would be but I tried to make it a game of sudoku.  We are going to take one last look at it tomorrow with a fresh set of eyes but then we’ll be ready to send it over to our venue and wedding planner.  It will be such a relief to have that done!  

Later on, and per Cooper’s request, we watched How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  

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Cooper and Josh love themselves a good rom com 😉 .   And while we watched we munched on some appetizers.  As the movie wrapped up we sat down for dinner, Chicken “Fried Rice”.  Josh does an awesome job with this meal and since we’re using less oil and rice it’s a much healthier option than ordering out.

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Post-dinner I cleaned dishes and got a load of laundry started.  And now….. it’s time to relax!  Goodnight!

Fall Bucket List 2016

It is finally FALL!  And every Fall I like to create a Fall Bucket List.  This year I want to…

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I haven’t watched Halloweentown in years but I saw it on someone else’s Fall Bucket List and I just had to add it to mine.

I’m realizing now that I should’ve added “make it through my wedding” to this list… but nah… let’s just not think all the planning that’s left to do.  Everything will fall into place somehow, some way.  And if it doesn’t… oh well 🙂 .  I’ll be on my honeymoon and far too busy relaxing to give it any thought.

Celebrations Recap: Bachelorette Party, 26th Birthday, and 6th (Dating) Anniversary!

October has been full of festivities!  It started with my Bachelorette Weekend in Asheville, NC.  It may not have been every girl’s dream of a weekend… but it was mine (including the fact I was in bed by 11:00pm each night 😉 ).  Friday included a few hours spent at Sierra Nevada which was such a neat experience.

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The food was amazing, the beer was on point and the scenery was beautiful.  I will definitely be going back the next time I’m in town.  (It’s in Fletcher about 20 minutes outside of Asheville).  Saturday included taking the LaZoom Band & Beer Bus Tour.

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The three hour tour consisted of a live band playing at the front of the bus and 30 minute stops at four breweries across Asheville.  I was super excited that Highland Brewing Co was on the list as it’s one of my favorite brews but I had never been to the brewery.  (I love the Gaelic Ale!)   The breweries even allowed us to use our own “Bride” and “Bride Tribe” cups which put a smile on my face.  (PS… I’ve done the LaZoom Haunted Comedy Tour and it was also an absolute blast.)  Lastly, Sunday morning consisted of delicious breakfast tacos via Taco Billy.

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Unfortunately, I ended up catching a cold a day or two within being back from Asheville.  I took a day off of work and took time off from teaching yoga, too.  The following weekend was my 26th birthday and although I was feeling better, I wasn’t feeling 100% just yet.  I was grateful that is was a rainy weekend and that curling up on the couch (or in bed with Cooper) was perfectly acceptable.

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In addition to couch-time on Saturday, Josh and I managed to get some wedding errands done like picking out our wedding bands!  On Sunday, my actual birthday, I opened some presents my parents had sent and ate a delicious breakfast thanks to Josh (eggs, turkey bacon, roasted potatoes and cinnamon toast).

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I ended the day with some Talenti Mediterranean Mint Gelato while watching Suits with Josh.

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To wrap this post up, on Friday (October 14th) Josh and I celebrated our 6th year of dating.

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I’ve spent the last two days drafting my vows and scrolling through old pictures helped me to remember how far we’ve come and how much fun we’ve had.

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Love you, Josh!