Friday, August 30, 2013

Leftover Chili Dinner & My Favorite Mug

I made a TON of chili a few weeks ago.  I had a bunch of ingredients that were about to go bad (beans, tomatoes, etc.), and I realized - I can throw together a batch of "whatever I've got in the fridge chili!"  And it was pretty awesome.

I put half of it in the freezer, and I've been thawing it out and having it periodically for the past month or so.  It's SOOO GOOD.

I wish I could remember how I made it, but I can't.

I CAN however remember how I ate some of the leftovers!
I didn't have enough to make 2 whole bowls (I wanted to make it last for 2 more dinners), and I wanted to get my greens in there too.  So I decided to heat up my leftover chili, and dump it over a bed of arugula and warm brown rice.

But it was missing something.  Something creamy and delicious to top it off just right.

A fried egg!  YES!

Oh man, this is my new favorite dinner.  WAY yummy, and surprisingly healthy to boot!  You could make this with any leftover chunky chili, soup or sauce.  So easy!

On another note, how's this for a great way to start your morning?

It's by far my favorite mug 'cause it cracks me up every time.
Wanna buy one for yourself?  Click here!*

*Note: You may need to change the Content Filter to see all the products listed (including the Asshat mug). There’s a little tabby thing on the left. Just change the filer from SAFE to OFF (you'll need to enter your birthdate). :)  You're welcome!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Another new job? WHAT?

Hey gang!

What's in the news today?  Well I got ANOTHER new job!  Yay!
I just started working with Modern in Denver Magazine.  I'm going to be helping them part-time with social media, email advertising, writing & editing, blog updates, general office help, etc.  I'm so excited!

It's a little strange to be working two part-time jobs instead of just one full-time, but I think I might actually like it.  I tend to get tired of the same thing every day, and I like the idea of having things changed up a bit.  I should have a pretty set schedule soon as well, so that's AWESOME - and I'll even have WEEKENDS OFF!!  WOOHOO!!!  That made me so friggin' happy.

I feel so lucky and blessed that this all magically lined up for me (I really do think there was some magic involved), and I can't thank you folks enough for being so helpful and supportive during this whole process!  It's going to take a little bit of adjustment over the next month or so (I'm gettin' my feet wet - bear with me), but I think it's going to be really good for me.

I'm so happy to find positions that will not only A) be flexible when I do start school again, but B) possibly open up some opportunities in the future.  All about who you know, right? :)

And did I mention that I'll have WEEKENDS OFF???
Hehe.  I'm pretty happy about that.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Elizabethtown - it's all in the timing

I just re-watched Elizabethtown tonight.

It's not a great movie, and the first time I saw it I thought - meh, it's ok.
This time around I liked it a little more.

I'm not sure why, but it's been about 8 years since the last time I saw it.  Really when you think about it - a lot's changed in 8 years.  With me, with my life, with the world - all that junk.

It's funny how when we change, the way we see things change.  You can read a book, watch a movie, or meet a person - and everything is different.  You experience it completely differently than you did before!  It's certainly not something you think of at the time, but the second time around you think:  Man, I can totally relate to this movie.  Or man, this person GETS ME.  Or holy shit - why didn't I see this before?  It was right in front of my face!

Anyway, it's just funny.  Funny how things change.  How we change.

I liked this movie better the second time around.  The way they dealt with death.  With family.  With the insecurities that come with love - and the security that comes from finding someone who gets you.  It's kind of beautiful when you see it that way.

And it made me want to go on a road trip - really bad!  Ha!

You should check it out if you want a nice melancholy movie with a damn good soundtrack.  :)  It's a nice distraction.  Enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sunshine Project!

Last night I attended a meeting at a beautiful little house to talk about getting good food to people in Denver who don't have access to it.

I knew this was gonna be right up my alley.

It was only a small group of people, but we talked about the need for affordable, organic, fresh & unprocessed foods to be accessible to EVERYONE - especially certain "food deserts" in Denver (where there are no grocery stores nearby, no access to any foods except fast "foods").

It was a wonderful meeting, and I love how excited everyone is about this food program.  It started as a co-op, but they're now a full non-profit.  They need help with gardening, filling orders, reaching out to the community, and much more.  I am SO EXCITED.

This is just a sample of some of the amazing foods they sent me home with from their garden!

I can't wait to try them all!  :D

Click here to read a little more about the project (it's from last year, but still has good info).  I'm so excited to be a part of this program, and to be helping people who share the same passion that I do.  Getting good, local, organic, HEALTHY foods to EVERYONE.

It's time to change the world!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

School update & Spending Fast REDUX

Hey, gang.

Hold tight, 'cause this is gonna be a long one!
I've been through this before.  If you want to, feel free to read backwards through those posts and see how far I went in 2012 with my Spending Fast.  I paid off nearly half my debt!  It was amazing, difficult, liberating, quite a struggle, but so rewarding.

Then 2013 came.  And shit happened. 

My boyfriend and I broke up, and I moved out.  I suddenly had to pay a new deposit, a new rent, re-stock my fridge with groceries, pay for any moving costs (thank GOD I had friends to help though).  

I made excuses.  I spent money on things I didn't need to make myself feel better.  I went out to eat, I bought drinks, I ignored my troubles.   

I went on a vacation.  Although the vacation was done on a budget (which I'm very proud of), and it was one I'll never regret taking - it was still an expense.  An expense that I helped pay for by using my credit cards.

I lost my job.  Suddenly I had no income.  NONE.  I turned to my credit cards to console me, yet again.  I also still needed to eat, pay for gas, and everything else. I did get a new job relatively fast (which I'm unbelievably grateful for), but it's only part-time right now.  

I needed dental work.  Desperately.  My tooth was becoming so painful due to a filling that fell out that I needed to get fixed a year ago, and because I waited so long I had to get a crown.  Which cost me over $1,600 in money I don't have.  Add it to the credit card.  

I decided to go to school.  Orientation fees, doctor's visits, application fees - the list goes on & on.  And my financial aid would barely cover my tuition and other expenses - and yet, how would I pay for my credit card bills??  

I'm certainly glad that none of these things happened BEFORE I started the Spending Fast, otherwise I'd be in even more trouble now.  However...

...Remember my ending amount after the spending fast?  Here's a refresher of how much I accomplished in 2012:
$13,168.04 - Starting Debt at Jan 1, 2012
$7,169.78 - Ending Debt at Dec 17, 2012

Pretty amazing huh?
Well, guess where my debt is now.  I currently owe:
$13,829.64 - as of August 9th, 2013

I actually managed to rack up even MORE debt than when I started the Spending Fast the first time around. SHIT.

I guess it's not something you can just change overnight.  And getting out of debt is not about just getting DOWN your debt.  It's about getting COMPLETELY OUT of debt.  And SAVING money so that when the shit hits the fan, you can turn to your savings INSTEAD of your credit cards.

Well, here I am again.  Frustrated, dissapointed, and scared.

What to do now?  Well, get back on the horse that bucked ya.  Start over.

Therefore I have decided that I cannot possibly go back to school this year.  
This has by far been one of the hardest choices I've ever had to make.  I have been struggling with this decision, but it's the only solution I can find.  I can't get out of my debt while accruing more debt - especially at a school where the tuition is so ridiculously high.

When I finally realized what I needed to do, I was so upset I thought I would burst.  My heart felt like it was broken.  I sobbed until I could hardly breathe.

I did so much work to get to where I am.  I did all of the paperwork, spent hours submitting the proper forms & applications, hounded my advisers for help, got all of my appointments done, went to orientation, met all my requirement.  I literally spent months getting ready for this.

And now, with only one month from starting my next chapter in life - it's delayed.

This year has been a strange one.  They say that every handful of years or so we go through a "year of change".  Where everything is just a complete clusterfuck, you lose your place in the world, you go through some growing pains, cry a lot, and change a lot.  It's sucky at the time, but it brings about a new year of growth and hope.  I am pretty sure I'm in one of those years right now.  And it sucks.  But I know that good will come.

So here I am, trying to be brave.  Trying to embrace what life has in store for me no matter what.

Being an adult is fucking hard.

And so, with this, I'm beginning my Spending Fast for the second (and last) time.  This time, I'm not going to do it for a year.  I'm going to do it for as long as it takes.  As long as it takes to pay off my debt, and get my savings going.  As long as it takes to be financially secure.  And if delaying school for another year or two is what it's going to take, I'm going to do it.

I'm going to start blogging about my progress again too, which is why I'm making this public.  Yes, it's a shameless plug for support and encouragement, but hey, I'll take what I can get.  And if my struggle can help others become debt-free as well then that will be worth it.  We are not alone.  This is not just a problem I struggle with - it's a problem THOUSANDS of Americans struggle with.

If you haven't watched this yet, please check out the documentary film Maxed Out.

I believe it's still available on Netflix Instant.  I would highly recommend it.

One different thing I'm going to be doing this time around is that I'm going to get some professional help.  I'm talking to a Financial Adviser / Financial Planner who will help me get back on track.  I figure they know a lot more about this stuff than I do, and they can help me figure out my budget, how to get my savings going again, how much I can afford to put towards everything, etc.  I mean, it's what they get paid to do!

I'm also going to use this time to research companies, volunteer with cooking schools / non-profits that already do what I'm looking to do with my future in nutrition.  I'm going to find a school that can work within my needs, and help me reach my goals without costing me a small fortune.  I may need to hold off on pulling the trigger for a little while, but now that I know what I want to do with my life I know that will keep me motivated.

I have always been driven by my heart and sometimes it takes a little while for my head to catch up.  Sometimes diving in before asking if there's a safety net actually works.  Sometimes I land in a pile of rainbows and marshmallow fluff, and I'm so glad I took the leap of faith.  And sometimes, I hit the ground.  And it really fucking hurts.  But I have to deal with it, brush myself off and start over.

Last night I was talking to my friend Geneva about all of this.
Geneva: "So, do you feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders now that you've made this decision?"
Me: "Yes. I really do."
Geneva: "Then you made the right choice."

So here I go again.  Broken, a little battered, but not yet defeated.

If you'd like to start a Spending Fast as well, please check out the blog that inspired it all here.  Anna is an amazing person, and really knows what she's talking about!

Monday, August 12, 2013

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This month for Book Club we read "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman.  It is widely considered his masterpiece, and I agree!

This book sucked me in from the start.  It's about a man who just got out of prison (Shadow), and his encounters with "gods" all across America.  He is enlisted for help by Wednesday who is trying to round up all of the gods for an epic battle of old VS new.  

It's a fascinating story, and beautifully written.  Geneva said that the audio version is awesome too because they have different actors do each voice (which is always amazing!).  I loved reading it, and it was clear that Neil Gaiman went above and beyond researching gods, folklore, and the American landscape to create the novel.  Interesting that he's a British writer, but he painted such a strange and wonderful picture of America and what / why we believe things (or why we don't).  

Since most of the book had to do with the characters traveling across the country it illustrated the change of scenery from state to state, the changing weather and small towns, and the kitsch of road-side attractions and stops along the way.  It really felt like you were on a journey with them! 

I hope you get a chance to pick up this fantastic book.  I'm sure there was a LOT that I missed (there was a lot of symbolism and deeper meanings that we barely scratched the surface about at the book club meeting - people probably teach classes on it honestly!), so I'll probably read it again in the future.  

If you remember the name, Neil Gaiman also wrote "Stardust" and "Coraline" - more children's / young adult stories, but still a little dark and fantastical.  

And if you want to read an utterly hilarious encounter of the Bloggess and Neil Gaiman, read this.  I promise it will make you giggle. :) 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Golly I can't wait for Autumn

I know I've made like a bajillion posts about how much I love fall (like this one, this one, and this one), but hey, how 'bout another one? :) 

It's been so hot in Denver lately - upper 90's and just miserably toasty.  I've never been the type of person to enjoy the heat of summer (although it's a super fun season, man, I hate sweating), and I'm ready to take on some cooler evenings, scarves, sweaters and boots.  I just love changing seasons! 

Oh my gosh - one of my favorite things about fall.  Morning light, cool crisp morning air, and a warm snuggly bed.  I always miss the long days of summer, but the beautiful crisp fall days are a great trade off! 

Oooo - morning autumn hikes through the woods!!  LOVE THOSE TOO!  Seriously - I just love that time of year.  I'm so excited! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Brunch with the ladies!

Today my mom, little sister and I went to Mona's for some brunch!

It was so yummy - I got the French eggs Benedict (it had brie cheese on it, and came on a croissant - YUM!), and my mom and I split a huge blueberry pancake.  The coffee wasn't too shabby either!

It's my last weekend before I start my new job, and a lovely brunch with the family was a great way to do it.  I'm very excited to start my new position - and I gotta say, it's actually been nice to have some time off (even though it was so unexpected).  I've been getting caught up on school paper stuff, getting my apartment clean, catching up with friends, getting doctor's appointments done, etc.  It's actually been pretty busy, but good.

Funny how things turn out, huh?  And I really think this was the best thing for me - it's helping me move toward a new career and towards what I truly want to do, which is help people heal with nutrition.  And that makes me feel good!!

Hope you all are enjoying this lovely weekend so far!