Monday, January 31, 2011

10 Minutes a Day

After watching an episode of Oprah last night, I had an aha moment about something she said. The episode was talking about 'happiness' and she instructed everyone to take 10 minutes each day to sit in complete silence. I have never been one to meditate or sit still for long, but I am going to give this one a try. I am hoping to either start my day or end my day with 10 minutes of silence and meditation for myself. I want this time to be about reflection, being thankful, and being kind to myself with my thoughts. All throughout the day I deal with stress and I am often very critical of myself. I want this 10 minutes to be nothing but kind words and warm thoughts for myself and my life. I also hope this time with help me manage my stress and expectations of life and therefore bring more happiness to my life. This idea pairs perfectly with my current book club book 'the happiness project' which is all about bringing more joy and happiness to our lives. I plan on trying this 10 minute idea tonight and can't wait to see how it goes...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

One Week Tilll Game Day!

With only one week to go until Super Bowl Sunday, it is time to finalize our party menu and start planning for the party. We are having a small get together with close friends and plan on serving lots and lots of food and enjoying a great game and hopefully some hilarious commercials! I love putting together all of the details of parties and so far, this is what we have planned:
  • our adorable football invite went out a few weeks ago
  • making this amazing chili and serving up bread bowls & all the fixin's
  • trying out some great new recipes
  • these adorable touchdown cupcakes would be great for dessert
  • and of course we will have our usual party snacks available... chips and salsa, salty popcorn, ice cold beer, and some delicious dark chocolate brownies to end the evening with.
We are excited to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday with our great friends and can't wait to have a great time!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another Great Pantry/Freezer Challenge Recipe

Throughout the month of January, I have been focusing on using up ingredients in our pantry and freezer and making some creative and easy recipes instead of spending additional money at the grocery store. Last night I made a great dish of chicken, artichoke, and spinach penne pasta. Here was my ingredient list:
  • frozen chicken tenders (thawed and cut into one inch pieces and browned in the pan)
  • half a bag of frozen chopped spinach
  • half a jar of artichoke hearts
  • box of penne pasta
  • jar of alfredo sauce
  • parmesan cheese (the kind in the green can)
I cooked the pasta and set aside and then in the same pan that I browned the chicken, I added the jar of alfredo sauce, the chopped artichoke hearts, and the frozen spinach. Let everything come to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Then serve your sauce over penne pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. This dish made dinner for me and my husband and 4 containers of leftovers! That is a ton of food and the best part was that I had everything in the house to make this recipe. My original goal for the month of January was to spend less than $150 on groceries and instead use what we have in the house, and so far I have only spent $103.67 on groceries and the month is almost over. Hope you try to create a new recipe in your house, using what you have on hand in the pantry or freezer. Enjoy!

Vegas Trip Booked!

I am so excited for Vegas! We just booked our 3 night stay at Treasure Island and have decided to stay Friday night through Monday. We found an incredible deal for our room and only paid a total of $340 for all 3 nights! With about 8 weeks to go till our trip, I need to kick-up my workout routine and start working on getting a tan. I am really looking forward to spending a great weekend with my girlfriends and celebrating my 25th birthday in Vegas!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Love the New Book!

I started reading my new book club selection this past weekend and I absolutely love this book! "The Happiness Project" is a great self-help book about finding the happiness is life and striving to be more happy and embrace 'being' happy. I have read about 3 chapters and have loved every page so far. I have really connected with this author when she talks about not only finding the happiness in different parts of our lives but also learning to truly enjoy the happiness we already have. I continue to be amazed at the blessed life I live and this book has really opened my eyes to focus on enjoying the happiness that I already have and then focusing my efforts on finding happiness in other areas of my life and in small simple ways. For example, I am incredibly happy to be able to work full-time in a career I love, enjoy the beautiful home I live in with my handsome husband, and have the freedom to enjoy fun activities and time with friends and family. This book is challenging me to think differently about my happiness and I have assigned myself some homework for this week... I need to be able to define being happy at any weight, whether I weigh 164 or 184. I am sick and tired of attaching my happiness to a number on the scale, so this week I am going to work on finding my happiness in other ways and accepting my weight at any number and still being able to say "I am happy".

Friday, January 21, 2011


After a really long week, I am so thrilled it is Friday! We are headed up to the mountains tomorrow for a night away with my husband and in-laws and I am looking forward to some great snowshoeing and some relaxing time in the hot tub at the cabin! I am also wanting to start my new book club book this weekend and hopefully get a few hours of relaxing reading time in. I can hardly believe that it is almost the last full week of January, but I look forward to staying on track with the budget, sticking with my workout plan, and continuing to pull together ideas and details for our Super Bowl Party on the 6th and my Cupcake Party on the 13th. Hope you are all having a great Friday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Made It! $15,000 in Retirement

I am so excited and incredibly proud to announce today that I have met my goal of $15,000 saved in retirement before I turned 25! As of this morning, I have a balance of $15,019.05 saved in retirement! I can hardly believe that I was able to save this much before I even turn 25 years old. I am so incredibly proud that I have been able to be diligent about saving for my retirement and by starting so early, I can't wait to enjoy a comfortable retirement 40 years from now. Another goal/challenge to cross off my list... yeah!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Super Bowl Party Recipes

With our Super Bowl Party less than a month away, I have been pulling together my list of party snacks and recipes to make. So far my list includes:
And of course we will serve chips and dip and maybe even a big bowl of chili with all the fixings. Sounds so yummy!

Even though our favorite teams are not playing in the Super Bowl this year, we are still excited to get together with friends and enjoy the game and commercials while indulging in some great food!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pantry Challenge Recipe: Peach Cobbler

I have another great recipe to post today and it fits perfectly into my pantry/freezer challenge for this month. This Peach Cobbler recipe came from one of my favorite blogs called Culinary Concoctions by Peabody.
The reason I chose to bake this recipe this weekend was because I have had 2 homemade jars of sliced peaches in the pantry that a friend gave me and I haven't been able to decide what to do with them. I have never made peach cobbler before, so this recipe was a first for me! And the best part about the ingredient list was that I had everything on hand except the chopped pecans (which I used chopped walnuts instead because they were on sale for $1.49 for 1/2 cup). This recipe fit perfect into my challenge of using up ingredients in my pantry and freezer, because I also have cool whip and vanilla ice cream on hand to top the cobbler with. I can't wait to enjoy this peach cobbler tonight while watching some tv and relaxing with my husband. Enjoy!

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Book Club Book: The Happiness Project

As always, book club was a blast last night and we had a great time discussing our book and choosing the next book club selection. We chose a book called "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin and this book is a story about her year long journey to find happiness and to test out varies theories on finding happiness. The girls decided that a self-help book was the perfect selection for January, since this is the time of year that we are all making lots of resolutions. I can't wait to start reading this book this weekend and I will be sure to post updates over the new few weeks!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cupcake Ideas!

With my Valentine Cupcake Party just around the corner, I have been searching for adorable ways to decorate cupcakes and delicious cupcake recipes to try. My favorite one so far is this adorable milkshake cupcake idea from Bakerella.
Check out these cute things!
I can't wait to try to make these with my friends and family at the party. I have also found some great recipes to try... check out these links for the recipes and pictures.

Tiramisu Cupcakes from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
Red Velvet Cupcakes from Eat Drink Pretty
Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes from What's Cookin, Chicago by Joelen

Enjoy browsing these blogs for some great recipe ideas and adorable ways to decorate your valentine cupcakes!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Quick Freezer/Pantry Challenge Recipe

Here is another great recipe to use up some ingredients that you may have in your freezer or pantry. This recipe is for quick pesto salmon filets with spinach and cheese mashed potatoes.

The ingredients you will need are:
  • fresh or frozen salmon filets (I buy these in bulk at Sam's Club or Costco and you can get 8 filets for about $23... a great price!)
  • half a jar of premade pesto (or you could make your own)
  • olive oil (I use extra virgin, but any kind will do)
  • lemon wedges
  • half a bag of frozen chopped spinach
  • potatoes for mashing
  • shredded cheese (I tend to use parmesan, but use what you have or a kind you like)
  • spices out of the cabinet (use your creativity and play with what you have on hand instead of buying new, and often expensive jars of spices)
You will want to thaw the salmon and then baste with the pesto mixture and bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes until cooked all the way through. Garnish with lemon slices and enjoy! For the potatoes, make your usual mashed potatoes and then add the thawed frozen spinach until warmed through and garnish with shredded cheese (any kind you like). You can also add spices to your potatoes like garlic salt, fresh or dried parsely or thyme, or just salt and pepper to give them extra flavor. Hope you enjoy this delicious and easy recipe and start using up those ingredients in your pantry... you would be amazed by what your creativity can come up with and the money you will save!

Super Bowl Invite

With our Super Bowl Party just around the corner, I put together this adorable invite to send to our friends. We are planning a small get together with close friends, lots of food, and hopefully some great football and even better commercials. Check out this fun invite!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Changing a Challenge

I just took a look at the remaining list of my challenges to complete by March 23rd and I have decided to change one of the challenges. I have had the goal of learning how to sew on a sewing machine for some time now, but I have still not learned this crafty skill. Part of the problem is that I don't own a sewing machine and the other part is time, not enough time to learn a new craft when I barely have time to focus on my current crafting projects. So, I have decided to take this challenge of my list and instead replace it with another fun party to plan. Over the past few years I have found that I LOVE planning parties and entertaining in our home, which means time to plan another fun party. With the superbowl right around the corner, I have picked "planning a superbowl party" as my replacement challenge. The superbowl is on February 6th, which means I have less than a month to plan a great party with invites, decorations, food, and fun... stay tuned for my party planning details in the next few weeks. And maybe I add the 'learning to sew' challenge to a future list down the road...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Valentine Cupcake Party!

I can hardly believe that I am already planning a party for February, when we just started the new year a few days ago. I have been wanting to throw a themed valentine party for a few years now and the cupcake idea seemed like a perfect fit. The invites are going out tomorrow to friends and family and I can't wait to decorate our valentine cupcakes and spend some time together! Here is the invite:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pantry/Freezer Challenge Recipe

I have a great recipe idea for you to use up some ingredients that almost everyone has at home and create a delicious and easy meal for you and your family. These are the ingredients you will need:
  • fresh or frozen chicken (any kind... I use frozen chicken tenders or chicken breasts)
  • canned bread crumbs or stale bread to make bread crumbs (if you do not have stale bread, just set a few slices out over night to harden up)
  • parmesan cheese (the kind in the green can in the fridge)
  • salad dressing (I prefer ranch, but you could use any kind of creamy salad dressing)
  • and a few dried herbs from your spice cabinet (I use dried thyme, garlic powder, or italian seasoning... just choose spices you have on hand and ones that will pair well with your dressing choice)
Let your chicken thaw out and then create a breading station for yourself. You will coat the chicken in the salad dressing and then coat with the breadcrumb, cheese, and spices mixture and place in a baking dish. Bake at 350 degress for 25-40 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken.

This recipe is a great way to use up frozen chicken, leftover bread made into bread crumbs, and those half used containers of salad dressing that we all have in our fridge. Some variations of this recipe include using real shredded parmesan cheese, crunched up fried onions, or the bottom of the cornflake cereal box. The salad dressing helps keep the chicken moist and tender and the breadcrumb mixture gives the chicken a nice crunch on the outside. Serve this chicken recipe with a rice or potato dish and a veggie and you have a complete meal put together!

Take an opportunity this week to look in your kitchen and see what recipes you can create, without going to the grocery store and without spending money!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pantry/Freezer Challenge

With the new year finally here and my resolutions written down, it is time to save some money this month... which for us means a cooking challenge using up all of the ingredients and supplies in the house. We usually average about $250 each month on groceries and I am challenging myself this month to bring that number down to $150. I know that number sounds small, but my freezer is packed to the brim, we have tons of leftovers in the fridge, and my pantry is full of staples like cereal, rice, pasta, and pasta sauce. This month, I am challenging myself to get creative and use what we have in the house and therefore saving some money on the grocery bill. Now I am challenging you to do the same in your house... how many meals can you create with the ingredients you already have in the house? And how much money will you save this month on your grocery bill? Stay tuned throughout the month as I post unusual recipes and ways of using your pantry and freezer supply before heading to the grocery store!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Can You Believe It... 2011!

I can hardly believe that 2010 is over and we have started a new year. This past year has gone by so fast and has been filled with incredible blessings and so many great memories! I love the beginning of the new year, because it feels like a fresh start and new beginning. I have always been one to make tons of new year's resolutions and this year is no different. I have a list about a mile long of things I would like to accomplish this year, life changes I would like to make, and new things I would like to try. It would be impossible to write down all of my resolutions here, but I am going to post a few of my top priorities for 2011. Here goes:
  • Stay Healthy- which means dropping a few more pounds, staying active, and focusing on good solid nutrition throughout the year.
  • Save Money- my husband and I have some lofty goals this year and in order to meet those we need to keep saving our money, which means watching the budget, paying down debt, and putting any extra money away for our goals.
  • Live Simply- pairing down life to what really matters, which for me means that I need to simplify my house, focus on experiences versus things, and maintain a sense of balance between work and play.
  • Have Fun- this year is already full of plans to travel, exciting parties to plan, and fun experiences to share with family and friends.
I hope this year is as amazing as 2010 and I look forward to another 365 days of a truly blessed life. Happy New Year!