Thursday, May 31, 2012

Picnic Lunch with the Girls (and Cayden)

The week before I left on my trip, some of my girlfriends and I met up for a little picnic lunch in the park! 

We used to go to Illegal Pete's for burritos all the time, but since I'm on this no-spending-kick and it's been so gorgeous outside, everyone was more than happy to do a picnic instead. 

I love - LOVE that just about every one of us rode our bikes to get there.  How great is that? :) 

Mmmmm - lunchtime!  I love how everyone brought such healthy lunches too - my friends definitely know the good stuff! 

Mister Cayden - the only guy allowed to join us that afternoon! :)

Katy playin' with little Cayden.  He was being all squirmy, and she kept saying "No!  You will cuddle with me!"  It was hilarious.  He giggled and squirmed more and we all laughed. 

It was a wonderful way to break up our work day!  Always nice to see some friends and enjoy some beautiful weather during the week. :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spending Fast Update - 5 months down, 7 to go!

Well, I just got back from my trip to Pennsylvania, and I have many many photos to share with you all!  

Not yet though, that will take a little bit o' time to sort through. ;) 

But here's my recap for the month of May for my Spending Fast!!


Date Not buying Approx $ not spent Total $ Saved
5/1/12 Derby Dues $50.00 $50.00
5/1/12 Lunch w/ Katy & Kat in the park (instead of going to a restaurant) $8.00 $58.00
5/2/12 Was running late today - almost decided to buy lunch instead of bring it! $8.00 $66.00
5/4/12 Dinner at the Garvey's (instead of going out to dinner) $25.00 $91.00
5/6/12 Cayden - 2nd b-day gift (gave him a b-day balloon instead!) $10.00 $101.00
5/13/12 Taryn's Graduation - couldn't get a gift, so threw her a party instead $25.00 $126.00
5/19/12 Outlaws Game (Ryan gave us free tickets!) $32.00 $158.00
5/19/12 Money NOT spent on booze at the Outlaws game $15.00 $173.00
5/14/12 ALMOST bought fake eyelashes at Sally's (but didn't) - that was hard! $12.00 $185.00
5/24-28/12 Many lunches / Dinners in Pennsylvania (thanks mom & dad!!) $100.00 $285.00
5/28/12 Shoes (that I resisted buying, amazingly) $30.00 $315.00

I did have quite a few moments this month where I spent when I didn't need to spend.  That was frustrating, and I felt guilty afterward - but I enjoyed it at the time!  After doing some quick calculations I realized that I'd spent about $100 this month on non-need stuff!!  ARGH!!!  I SO could have put that towards my debt.  And what kills me is that it was for a coffee here.  A drink there.  A $10 dress.  Little things that I could have resisted with a little will power to get me closer to debt-freedom.

Sigh.  Baby steps.  

At least I'm more aware of it now!  I had my fun, and I'm going to correct it.   

The GOOD news though, is.... I'M UNDER THE $10K MARK!  WOOT!!!

That means I've paid off just under $3,500 worth of debt in the past 5 months. 

I was hoping to be a bit further along by now, but I’m still pretty thrilled by that number. Sometimes shit happens though, and my money needs to go to car / bike / scooter repairs, health needs, un-forseen events, etc.  Also having more income would be a HUGE help because I could put more money towards everything each month without screwing myself – but that ain’t happening just yet.  Workin' on it. 

I just need to keep plugging away, as I always do! 


As always, thanks for your love, encouragement, and support. :)  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vegan Enchiladas!

Firstly, please let me apologize for these ridiculously terrible pictures!  I had a very pretty plate all done-up, and thought to myself "Hmmm, should I take a pic of this?" - but I was so hungry I just dove right in. 

Then after John and I realized how AWESOME these were, I was kicking myself!  Haha!  

Ah, well - you should still TOTALLY make these anyway.  They're so unbelievably good, and totally vegan.  They're creamy and yummy and amazing - you won't even miss the cheese!  I think John's first words after trying them were, "OK, you're definitely going to have to make these again!"

That's always a good sign.  :) 

Serves about 5-6 people, but we're going to enjoy the leftovers! 

1 package extra firm tofu (drained)
Nutritional Yeast (about 1/2 a cup)
Soyrizo (veggie chorizo), 1 sleeve (they come in a pair)
1/2 an onion (minced)
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
Garlic salt (1 tbsp)
Taco seasoning (2 tbsp)
Refried beans (1/2 a can)
Daiya cheddar cheese shreds (optional)
Corn tortillas (you'll need about 10-ish)
1 tomato (diced)
Black beans (1 cup cooked, or 1 can)
Enchilada sauce (we used the red kind) or green chili (1 can or jar)
Avocados or guacamole (optional - for serving)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees, and get out a large baking pan or casserole dish.  Ours was about 9x13" in size. 
In a large bowl, mash up the tofu.  Mix in the nutritional yeast, the Soyrizo, the minced onion, the lemon juice, the garlic salt, the taco seasoning, and the refried beans.  Be sure it's well mixed!

Plop about 3/4 a cup of filling into each corn tortilla, fold the sides over, and place seam-side down into the baking pan.  Repeat until all of the fillings and tortillas are used.  

Dump Daiya cheddar shreds on top of your enchiladas (this is completely optional - it's great without them too!).  Sprinkle the diced tomatoes over everything, and then sprinkle on the black beans.  Lastly, dump the enchilada sauce or green chili over everything (be sure all the tortillas are well coated). 

Place pan in the oven for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. 

Remove from the oven and served with sliced avocado or guacamole! 

You could easily pre-make this filling too, so that it's ready to go for dinner the next day!  The tofu is very resilient, and super easy to store beforehand.  

This looks a little destroyed in the picture, but it's just 'cause John sliced the enchiladas the wrong way when he was getting them out of the pan.  HA!  Silly boy. ;) 

I will DEFINITELY be making this recipe again - it was SO good, totally addicting (we both went back for seconds!), and much healthier than the average enchilada recipe.  I think next time I may add some chopped zucchini as well, and maybe serve with a side of fresh corn salsa as well as the guac! Yum. 


Annnnnnd I'm off to Pennsylvania for a long weekend to visit my grandparents and my aunts!  My mom and dad and I are going together, so it'll be quite the family excursion.  Hopefully I can make it through the humidity.... I'm planning on bad-hair-days the entire time I'm there.  HA! 

Have a great rest of your week!  See ya when I get back! :)  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Backyard Decorating - short-term results!

Remember how I was looking for outside decorating ideas in this post for my sister's graduation?  Well apparently a LOT of other people have been looking for some inspiration, 'cause that post has gotten a lot of hits!  Fun! 

Glad I'm not the only one needing help in that area... 

But I did get my backyard decorating done (on a very tight / nonexistent budget, of course), and here are the results! 



Now, I know it's not a HUGE difference or anything, but I was happy with what I could do for my sister's party!  The picnic table has been wonderful - although I still need to paint it, it was a great find (Craigslist, $40)!  

The cloth banner is all thanks to Kendra - she used it at her wedding, and lent it to me for the party.  It really helped tie everything together, and I think it looked super cute!  

I would love to get some more permanent-ish furniture out there (as opposed to camping chairs), but these did for now (donated by my lovely parents).  

My dad even gave us some rad little Chinese lanterns on a string to hang alongside the house - they really looked wonderful, and the glow was warm and lovely at night.  

And of course, the fire pit helped with that too once the party started dwindling down to the last party-goers...

I know everyone looks bored here, but this is actually "relaxed".  Or "drunk" - one of the two.  Haha! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekend Fun & Bein' Productive

This weekend was full of all KINDS of awesome stuff!

Did I mention that I'm going to be doing an online cooking show?  Oh, well, I am. :)  I found these guys on Craigslist, and we're doing a whole vegetarian / vegan cooking show together!  My show is called "My Meatless Kitchen", and on Saturday morning (bright & early), we filmed the first two episodes. 

This is the kitchen we shot in!

One of my first items that I made - quick sticky buns!  I adapted it from this recipe here - it's one of my favorites, and ridiculously easy to make.  For the first two episodes we did breakfast foods.  Fun fun!

Look, ma!  I'm on TV!!

A close-up of the quick sticky buns - the crew went crazy for them, and John was bummed when I came home without any to share with him.  Haha!  I'll post a link when the website / videos are up & running!  It was pretty darn fun.  I was a little nervous at first (I've never done anything like this before!), but eventually it started to feel a bit more natural.  The crew was awesome too - they were a huge help with getting me where I needed to go, and guiding me with what to say.

Also, it was a pretty rainy / cold / dreary Saturday, so it was kind of perfect for filming indoors!

Saturday night I surprised John with tickets to the Outlaws Lacrosse game.  It warmed up a bit finally, but there was still a chill in the air.  My friend Ryan gave us his season tickets for the night since he couldn't make it, and DANG were they close!!  It was pretty great!  


I lent John my uber fashionable scarf since he was cold.  I should've probably told him to wear a coat - it was kinda cold!  Whoops. ;)  Luckily we snuck in some pocket shots of rum & whiskey to spike our cokes with.  That helped keep us warm. 

Best part of the night was me getting to dance for the Jumbotron!!  I stood up and did a little boogie for the crowd.  The guy in front of us turned around and said - "Oh my gosh, you are awesome."  HA! 

We stopped for Thai food on the way home, and ate it in front of the TV.  It was a great end to a great night!

The next morning John and I got up late and hit the Farmer's Market for the first time this year.  It was super fun!  Not much produce yet (it's a little early in the year to harvest just yet), but we did get a few things.  

We also FINALLY got seeds for our own garden at home!!  

That's me plantin' seeds like a pro.  Well, a very confused "am I doing this right?" really-hoping-that-I-don't-mess-up-our-first-batch-of-veggies pro.  :)  

My little seed-planting set-up!

Grow up BIG and STRONG, lil' guys!

While I worked on the seeds, John went to work on the garden.  He's been working his booty off with cleaning it up, raking, tilling, and getting the soil ready to go.  Our compost should help to fertilize too.  He did an awesome job! 

After we finished our work on the garden for the day (it's barely started, but at least we got things going finally), I cleaned out the fridge and the cupboards.  I mean, REALLY cleaned them - I emptied everything, wiped off shelves, condensed things... it felt AMAZING when I was finished!  

Then I decided to make some Coconut Scones.  I pinned these a little while ago on my "Sweet Recipes" page on Pinterest, and I have been dying to make them ever since.  Also after my cleaning adventure, I realized I had all of the ingredients I needed!  WOOT!  Love when that happens. :)  

Here is where you can find the recipe with step-by-step instructions.  The only differences from mine is that I substituted soymilk for heavy cream, and I used whole-wheat flour for regular flour.  

I'm not kidding, folks - these things are DELICIOUS.  I had mine with a cup of tea, and a side of strawberry jam.  I enjoyed it SO MUCH and it was a wonderful treat to wrap up the busy weekend. 

 Hope you all had a wonderful weekend too!!    

Thursday, May 17, 2012

No Impact Man!

I rented the documentary film No Impact Man from the library recently, and last night I watched it.  If you haven't heard of it, it's about a man and his family living in New York City that decided to waste less and go without their regular luxuries for an entire year - not only to see the impact that it made on the planet, but how it would effect others - and to see if it was even possible to live that green!  

Here is the trailer: 

Honestly, I thought the film was very inspiring.  I think a lot of people are intimidated by making green choices in their lives, and they think that they need to go to the extreme like he did.  But really, it doesn't take much.  And after watching this film, I realized I could be doing more. 

I have been doing things little-by-little to make my life more green, and to tread lightly on the earth.  
Here are a few things that I've taken on over the past 5-years or so (that you could do too if you feel inspired!): 

- I went vegetarian (Meat production is one of the biggest pollutants on the planet)

- I stopped driving my car so much (I try to bike / walk as much as possible, and if I need to go farther ride my scooter)

- I bring a to-go cup with me to coffee shops and have them fill it (instead of wasting a paper cup)

- I always carry a re-useable water bottle

- I bring my own bags to the grocery store at all times (even if I have to walk back to the car because I forgot them), and if I don't have a bag with me I still ask for no plastic bag (and try to shove everything in my purse instead)

- I try to turn off lights and unplug appliances as much as I can (I'm always following John around the house and switching off lights as I go)

- I've started buying beans, rice, and other foods in bulk to save on packaging 

- I go to the Farmer's Market during summer & fall for all of my fruits & veggies, and buy local

- Most of the time I follow the toilet-flushing rule of "yellow, let it mellow - brown, flush it down" to cut back on water waste

- John and I have started composting our food scraps

- I have made the move to washable cloth handkerchiefs (instead of tissues, even though John still thinks it's gross)  

- I try to shop at thrift stores or do clothing exchanges instead of buying new clothing and accessories 

- We use cloth napkins, cloth dish towels, and sponges as much as possible (instead of paper towels)

- I buy natural cleaning products (although after watching this film I realized it's frustrating that we can't re-fill  them, and I'm still using a lot of packaging)

- I make my own vegetable broth now instead of buying the packaged kind with our leftover veggie scraps.  I keep them in the freezer in a container until I have enough to boil, then after using them I put them in re-used glass jars, and compost the scraps!

Just to name a few things! 

But after watching this movie, I realized there's still more that I could be doing.  I mean, I know that I work hard at being green and not being wasteful.  As the film pointed out, we're a consumer culture - and right now we have all been taught since childhood to throw things away because it's unsanitary not to.  We're a disposable culture, and it's killing our planet.  

No Impact Man (Colin Beavan), and his adorable little girl!

I guess it made me think of the other things that I could be working on more.  I need to stop using the damn plastic bags that are provided for bulk products, and for produce.  Ugh - plastic everywhere!!  For something that we make so disposable, why do we make it out of PLASTIC - that NEVER decomposes!!  It doesn't make any sense.  I'm going to get mesh / cheesecloth bags to bring with me from now on instead, and just keep them with my grocery bags.  

Also, even though it takes a while for us to use them, I hate that we still get paper towels.  We could easily get some more dish towels and re-use them over & over - just wash them in between!  I'm going to work on that too. 

I want to ride my bike / walk more.  I already do it a lot, but I'm going to make less excuses about it.  I want my scooter to be last resort, and I want my car to be VERY last resort (I mean, hailing or a freakin' snowstorm. Or if I'm being chased by bears).  I want to take the train instead of driving, and carpool more as well. 

I also would like to work on buying less packaged goods.  I feel like I've made a big step over the past few years with making the move to non-canned beans (and cooking them myself from bulk), but I'd like to move towards also making my own spaghetti sauce (which is pretty darn easy), and my own soups more often too.  It's not hard to do these things, it just takes a little planning!  And I'm pretty good at planning (most of the time). ;)

And last (but not least), I would like to work harder at eating seasonally, and buying locally as much as possible.  I am pretty good about this with fruit as I usually don't even like how fruit tastes when it's out of season.  But I could be better about my veggies, and learn how to love my root veggies in the winter time, and wait for the peaches when they come in season!  

Now, if only I could figure out how to get John to cut back on eating so many bananas! ;)  

What are YOU doing to help the planet, and make things better for the next generation? 

Here is a link to the No Impact Man blog for more information!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I gave my hair an update - a bit of Ombre!

Remember how in this post I was talking about hairdye inspiration? 
Well, last week I totally did it! 

I tried to get a good picture of it, but it's kind of hard to see.  It looks GREAT in bright sunlight 'cause you can see the contrast between light and dark.  And I love the way it looks when I put my hair up in a quick messy bun, with all the little light ends sticking out!

The word "ombre" has been thrown around on Pinterest a lot lately, and I'm just catching on.  It's basically when one (usually darker) color fades into a lighter color - and usually refers to haircolor.

Well, according to Cosmopolitan magazine, this style is already on it's way out.  Although, when have I ever listened to Cosmopolitan? 

I know my ends look a bit split right now, but I'm conditioning the heck out of them to get their shine back.  I just used Feria bleach-blonding kit, and saturated the ends.  Yes, this is how light my hair gets with bleaching - it's pretty darn dark!

I think I'm going to do another session when my hear gets a little stronger.  Right now, I really like how subtle this is.  And I don't want to totally fry my hair just yet. ;) 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Flowers that brighten my path

Lately I've been walking in to work.  I have to get up a little earlier to make the trek (it's about a 35-40 min walk instead of a 10 minute drive or bike), but it's totally worth it.  Not only is it a great way to get more movement into my day, but I say hello / good morning to people I pass by, I listen to music or a podcast or a book, and stop to smell the flowers. 

Yep, it's a great way to start the day! 

I have been noticing all of the flowers coming into bloom lately along my path to work, and I thought I'd share them with you!  

I think these are cornflowers?  I'm not sure, but I absolutely love them (and their color).  They make me smile every time I pass them! 

I love the color of these ones too.  Gosh, I kinda wish I knew the names of all these flowers!  I know the roses of course (haha), and I could guess on some of the others.  But it would be cool to be able to identify all of them! 

I LOVE this one. 

This is one of my new favorite photographs. :) 

I caught that little busy bee going to work on that flower!  How cute is that little guy??  Poor bees, they get such a bad rap.  They're good lil' buggers. 

Sometimes slowing down before you have to attack your day is a nice way to keep things stress-free.  I know that I always feel so much more relaxed after my morning walk! :) 

What do you do to stay relaxed?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yoga Beautiful

I came across this video a while ago, and I finally found it again.  It's so beautiful!

Isn't it amazing what our bodies can do with training?
I think that our bodies are so beautiful when they are strong - inside and out.  Not thin.... STRONG. :) 

Kendra and I were going to a free yoga class once a week at a local college, but unfortunately they just ended due to summer break (doggone it)!  I guess we'll have to figure out another way to mooch free yoga classes now, huh?  Haha!

Of course we aren't anywhere close to where this girl is (shoot, I can barely do a headstand, let alone a handstand), but it's nice to dream isn't it?  :) 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Pie & Taco Dinner

Friday night, John and I went over to Ryan & Amanda's place for dinner.  
I told them that we would make a dessert since they were making dinner, so I pulled out my new favorite pie cookbook that I got for Christmas last year, and picked out a recipe! 

I decided to go with the Chocolate Pecan Pie, because it sounded decadent but simple at the same time.  

Seriously, I'm in love with this cookbook!  So far I've made 3 different pies from it (Bean Pie, Coconut Pie, and this one), and they've all turned out utterly delicious.  I love that they're really not terribly complicated to make, and she always gives a brief description of the pie's history & origins.  You get to learn while you cook!  Yeah!! 

Look at that FILLING - doesn't it look amazing!?  It's basically butter, chocolate, sugar, & corn syrup - then you add in the eggs and vanilla.  I think mine got a bit screwy because I realized we only had margarine left (not real butter), and I had about 1/2 a cup less corn syrup than was required.  I think that caused it to be a bit "liquidy" in the end, but everyone still gobbled it right up!!

The leftovers were even better the next day - straight out of the fridge. :)  This pie would be AH-MAZING with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream too - or even better CARAMEL ice cream.  *drooling... 

For dinner, Ryan & Amanda made tacos, and they were SO GOOD.  

Just sauteed veggies (meat for the carnivores), salsa, tomatoes, black beans, freshly made guac & cheese.  They were scrumptious!!  


John always knows how to make a picture perfect! 

 Amanda & Ryan! 

After dinner we had pie, and daylight turned into twilight - then into evening.  It was a totally gorgeous and perfect evening, so we sat out on the porch & started playing cards! 

A friendly game of "Oh Hell" to be exact.  We played it all the time when I was in Florida with Garvey & Amanda a couple of years ago - it was super fun.  You have to bid on how many "tricks" you're going to take for each hand.  It's really fun (and hilarious)!

I apparently forgot everything about how to play the game (and lost miserably the first round), but started getting the hang of it again, and came back eventually.  We laughed, and talked, drank wine, ate pie... all in all, probably one of the best ways to play a beautiful Spring evening! 

My empty pie plate.  Yeah, it was pretty darn good. :)