Super Fast Life Update

Oh hey! I bet y’all thought I gave up on blogging again didn’t you!? Nope. I’ve just been omgsobusyican’tseestraight. But in a totally good way! We have been having SO MUCH FUN this summer and I can’t wait to share with y’all! I had a “life update” about half way written but obvs it never got posted so here’s a super short rundown of what’s been keeping me away from the blog!

1. I’ve been keeping super close track of our household budget!
Sometimes I get really nervous and think we’re spending way too much money but this time when I went back to my budget I found out we’re actually doing pretty well! YAY! And summer is generally a really expensive time of year because it’s so much more fun to get out and DO when it’s not 10 degrees outside!

2. Playing with food!
Y’all! I have so much to tell you about all the food stuff I’ve been doing lately but there are lots of (unedited) pictures so it’ll have to wait. But as a teaser….I’ve been making more cake pops lately and started experimenting with royal icing this past weekend! This year’s Christmas cookies are going to be awesome!

3. LOVING and living life!
The past few years my hip has really kept me on the sidelines during the summer. But now that I’m all healed I can do all the running and biking and being outside I want! It has been so nice to not be restricted in what I can do!

I promise to be back with some real posts ASAP! :)

Was It Worth the Money?

Yesterday was supped to be my day off. I’m scheduled to work all day Saturday which means I get a whole day off during the week. However, due to vacation schedules and 2014 work ethic (hi, Dad!) my bank found itself with only 3 of it’s necessary 6-7 bankers yesterday morning. So while I was in my pajamas watching Pretty Little Liars (don’t judge), I got a phone call from work asking if I wouldn’t mind sacrificing my day off to help out. The conversation ended with my boss reminding me that all of my time worked would be overtime. I told him I would be there in an hour. ;)

As I was getting ready I contemplated what I would do with all of my “extra” income. Save it. Get my hair done. Spend it on my vacation in September. Save it. It’s not like I won the lottery or anything but there will be a little cash in my pocket come next Friday.

When I got home yesterday evening looking tired and slightly disheveled, the husband asked if sacrificing my day off was worth the extra cash. My first thought was “HELL YEAH!” but as I lay on my bed checking Facebook and decompressing from the day I started to make a pros and cons list…just to be sure. ;)

PROS:
- extra cash
- I didn’t spend any money (I had originally planned to go shopping)
- I didn’t lay on the couch in my pajamas all day
- it looks really good to my bosses that I willingly came in to help

CONS:
- I’ll now be working 6 days this week and 5 next week before my next 2 day break
- I didn’t make that much extra money
- I didn’t lay on the couch in my pajamas all day
- I didn’t get to enjoy my day off doing what I please

Honestly for me it was worth the extra money. All I would have done yesterday was lay around, go shopping, and possibly spend an hour or two washing clothes and cleaning. Ever since switching careers a year and a half ago, I’ve been working to recover my previous salary so I generally take any opportunity to earn some extra money. And it’s not as though yesterday was a day of particular importance or that I cancelled any really spectacular plans to go to work. So for me, it was definitely worth it. Oh, and my boss is buying me lunch today. :D

Have you every turned down the chance to make extra money at work because it meant sacrificing time off? Why or why not?

July Goal Review/August Goals

Better late than never…

July Goal Review

1. Use reusable grocery bags and coupons when shopping (especially for groceries).
Um, yeah. Didn’t do this. My grocery bags have been hanging out in my kitchen since the beginning of the month. :/

2. 5X OR LESS FAST FOOD
OMG I completely forgot about this. I probably had fast food 5x last week….

3. Hit 1000 miles on my bike and run over 30 miles.
Almost! I ran 16.81 miles and crossed over to 1000 miles on my bike on July 24! I even posted a photo on Instagram when I did. :) Anyway, I’m counting this one as a win. (And just to clarify, I did not ride 1000 miles in July, I was hoping to get to 1000 total miles with my bike. I’ve had it for about 3.5 years and have tracked practically every mile I’ve ridden on it.)

4. Blog about makeup/beauty stuff 1x per week.
Geez. This goal should have just been to blog 1x per week…period. Hmmm, maybe I’ll consider that for next month.

August Goals

1. Bike 125+ miles & run 20+ miles.
According to my favorite cycling app I biked 122 miles in July and I’ve already done 61 miles in August!

2. Blog twice per week.
I’ve really missed blogging this month. I keep thinking of all these ideas for posts but not taking the time to sit down and write. This month is another busy one so it’ll be a challenge to keep up!

3. Take more pictures!
I’m considering a Flickr account for when I take photos. I don’t want to overload to blog especially when there’s not a story attached so I thought that might be a fun place to post my pictures (when I get around to taking them that is). ;)

July 4th Weekend Recap

A few weeks ago we decided we wanted to go camping over the 4th of July holiday. The husband took the whole week before off work and went down to the campground early to get us a spot because we thought sure it was going to be packed on the holiday weekend (it wasn’t). He and Ella went down Wednesday morning and Louis and I followed Thursday evening after I finished work.

ellalouis

The first night was fun, albeit a little mosquito-y. We had a nice fire and I had some delicious marshmallows and s’mores. It even got a little chilly overnight which was nice because I got to snuggle down in my sleeping bag without sweating.

The next day we decided to do a little hiking and it was awesome except for a giant hill I could barely walk up and mosquitos. We literally passed through swarms of mosquitos. Yuck. That afternoon we headed back to the campsite and were not super pleased to find our entire campsite swarming with mosquitos also. Fortunately, our tent has a little attached screen room (thanks, Dad!) so we just relaxed in there until it was time to cook dinner. Even though we were covered in bug spray (which is disgusting in itself) we got practically eaten alive by mosquitos while we were cooking. We even went back to the screen room after dinner while we waited for our dessert to cook. We were making this super awesome apple crumble thing. It was delicious!

IMG_3154

While we were hiding in our screen room enjoying our apple crisp and trying not to scratch our limbs off, we decided to head home a day early. Unfortunately the bugs were so bad it was just not worth trying to stay for an extra day. That night (Friday) there was a crazy rainstorm and when we got up Saturday morning the bugs were even worse! :( I piled on as much bug repellant as I could stand (I honestly think it made me a little sick) and we packed up as quickly as possible. By about 11am we were headed back to civilization in our bug free cars.

When I got home and got out of the car I was kind of surprised by the bug free air! I told the husband that even though we weren’t camping I absolutely wanted to have beanie weenies for dinner so we cooked baked beans and hotdogs on our stove in our air conditioned house. ;)

Sunday we woke up and decided it would be a good time to head to the pool in our neighborhood for the first time. Early in the afternoon we packed up our towels and headed to the pool only to find a line of about 30 people just waiting to get in! And through the fence we could see that there were already so many people there. I guess it being over 90 degrees on a Sunday would make it pretty crowded. So we decided to head back in the early evening when surely there would be fewer people. Not so much. At 5pm there was still a line of people waiting to get in!

In the meantime we had gotten the bright idea to build a fire pit in the backyard using some left over paving stones from a garden project we completed last summer. It took a lot of work and most of the day…but look what we ended up with!

IMG_3168 I am so excited and of course insisted we roast marshmallows and make s’mores! I mean, I only got to have one s’more on our camping trip so it was basically required! As much as I love our fire pit now, I am even more excited to use it in the fall when the days start getting shorter and cooler. I see many roasted marshmallows in my future.

IMG_3170

 

It’s Monday!…

…and I’ve decided to scrap the Summer Self Love Link-Up for the time being. It seemed as though it wasn’t really very popular so I’m going to put something else in it’s place. I haven’t decided what yet but I’ll have that worked out by next week. Hope y’all have a great Monday!

I’ll be back tomorrow with something fun! :)

5 Tips for New Runners

newrunners

As I’m sure most of you know, I’ve been running a ton lately and LOVING it. But I know that starting out when you haven’t been a ‘runner’ before can be sort of intimidating. Honestly, getting back into it even when you have been a runner can be hard! SO here are my five tips for those of you considering becoming a runner! Come on in, the water’s fine! ;)

1. Use intervals.
 It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to head out the door and run 4 or 5 or 13 miles straight off. In fact, both when I started training for my first (and only) half marathon and recently as I’m coming back from surgery, I started out not being able to run a full mile (or even more than a couple minutes) without stopping. Intervals allow you to be able to run for longer and build up your stamina slowly. Most recently, I started with a 2:2 interval (i.e. jog 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes), moved to a 3:1, then to a 5:1, and now I’m running continuously!

2. Invest in good shoes.

Find a blog post about running essentials and you will find a blog post that tells you to invest in good shoes! I started training to the half marathon in a $45 pair of shoes from Kohl’s. They worked for a while and my feet didn’t fall off. However, the shoes I wear now make my feel about 100x happier. Find a local running shop, have them fit you for some shoes. I did buy my first pair from that running shop for about $110. BUT now that I know which ones I like, I’m able to search around for a good deal. My second pair (same brand, same style) I found on clearance for $60 because the ‘new version’ was coming out soon.

3. Hydrate.
This is my biggest struggle as a runner/cyclist/active person. But I promise you, the better hydrated you are, the easier things will be for you. I can tell a huge difference in how I feel during a run depending on how hydrated I am.

4. Set goals.
There are some who can just run and run with no goal in mind. But for most of us, and especially those just starting out, I think it’s a good idea to have a goal in mind. The first goal I set for myself when I began training for the half marathon was to run 1 mile without stopping. Right now my goal is increase my mileage slowly until I reach 5 miles. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, as long as you have one. Then once you achieve it, set a new one!

5. Have fun!
For me running is fun when I have a goal. Some people enjoy it because they get to be outdoors. Everyone has their own reasons and motivation. But whatever your motivation is, losing weight, running a faster 5K, running 100 miles this summer, etc., let it excite you and make you happy to jump out of bed to get your run on! :D

Unexpected Ways to Save: Grow Your Savings Account with New Savings Options

You’ve cut out trips to the coffee shop, discontinued magazine subscriptions in favor of online versions, and started packing your lunch instead of buying it every day. So, why isn’t the money in your savings account adding up as significantly as you thought it would? Little changes like these do make a difference over time, but there are some additional savings options you might not have previously considered. Finding these savings and investing them can help you reach your savings goals even sooner. Check out these suggestions for finding unexpected ways to save.

  1. Revisit insurance policies

When it comes to insurance policies, you might think you’re done after initially meeting with insurance agents and signing up for the policies best fitting your needs or those of your family. But, with many insurance companies, some seemingly minor factors can end up resulting in savings. For instance, most home-owner policies reward you with lower rates if you install a security system. The same goes for cars with anti-theft protection. You may also receive a discount if you have multiple policies with the same company, or haven’t submitted a claim in several years. As you go through your insurance policies to find these savings opportunities, it’s a good idea to also look at competing insurance carriers to see if there’s an opportunity to receive better rates elsewhere. The amount you save monthly by switching carriers or finding these additional discounts may seem somewhat minor, but it adds up in the run long.

  1. Find discounts through local businesses and memberships

There are plenty of hidden discounts offered in local communities that aren’t heavily publicized. The trick is knowing where to find them. From oil changes to haircuts, retailers offer discounts, daily deals or loyalty cards if you’re a frequent customer, senior citizen, member of the military, student, teacher, or belong to another specific demographic. You should also look into special discounts offered as a benefit from your workplace, school, or as part of a membership of services like AAA. You’d be surprised how much you can save by just doing a little research and asking the businesses you patronize what they offer.

  1. Reduce utility bills

Everyone has personal preferences for their ideal home temperature, but regulating the thermostat can save you a great deal of money throughout the year. One way to do this effortlessly is with a programmable electronic thermostat. If you don’t already have one, it’s worth the investment. If you do have one and aren’t using the programming feature, start doing so! It’s easy to forget to adjust the thermostat before leaving for the day or going to bed. Programming it to raise or lower the temperature during these times will keep the air conditioning or heat from coming on unnecessarily. This will help lower your utility bills as well as conserve energy. You can also implement a rainwater collection system to water your lawn and install a timed shut off in your showers to reduce your water bill.

  1. Track and invest your savings

When you start taking advantage of these and other unexpected ways to save, begin keeping track of the money you’re saving each month. Then, make that money work harder for you by putting the monthly savings in a high-interest savings account, money market account or certificate of deposit (CD). Accounts like these yield a greater amount of interest than a typical savings or checking account, and will therefore grow your funds more quickly. Before you know it, what seemed like a minimal amount of money each month will turn into something much more substantial.

 

Sponsored content was created and provided by RBS Citizens Financial Group.

June Goal Review & July Goals

junereviewjulygoals

OMG it’s July! (How many times have you already read that this morning? Probably too many.) But the beginning of the month for me is the perfect time for a goal review and some new goals! I used to do two separate posts but I decided that’s superfluous so I figured I’d go down to one and see how I like it. ;)

June Goal Review

1. Start using my re-usable grocery bags again.
I used them about half the time so I’m going to give this one a fail and try again in July!

2. Use at least 1 coupon per week at the grocery.
Hm. Kind of a fail. I used them about half the time. And on Sunday I ‘clipped’ a bunch of online coupons and forgot to print them out and bring them to the grocery store. Oops.

3. Prepare Emergency Kit for basement (for severe weather sheltering)
Yeah, kind of forgot about this one. But we’re trying to clean/reorganize our basement to get rid of stuff for a garage sale so maybe I’ll do it then! (Since I need the space.)

4. ‘Graduate’ from physical therapy. 
OMG I am so close and this is not even my fault. LOL. I think I literally have only two ‘approved’ visits left and I think my PT is determined for me to come to all of them.

5. Decide when/where we’re going on vacation.
!!!!! We totally did this! We decided we’re going to Moab, Utah for a week or so later this summer! I could not be more excited! It’s gorgeous out there and so different from anything I’ve ever seen before! I’d better start practicing my landscape photo skills!

6. NO FAST FOOD
Ok, I didn’t end up writing more about this like I meant to but basically as a part of my whole taking better care of myself thing I decided to try and go the entire month without any fast food. Ok, well I totally didn’t go the whole month BUT I did make it until like the 15th (and the first time I cheated I kind of forgot I wasn’t supposed to be eating fast food) and I only had it about 5 times the entire month. So I say, WIN!

July Goals

1. Use reusable grocery bags and coupons when shopping (especially for groceries).
This is (obviously) a bit of a repeat from last month but I’m really trying to help our budget a little bit by saving money where I can. I’m also curious to see how much one can actually save by being a ‘casual couponer’. I keep meaning to start a spreadsheet…

2. 5X OR LESS FAST FOOD
I don’t know why but I felt like this goal needed to continue to be in all caps. So here’s the deal. Sometimes I get into a rut where I eat a LOT of fast food, I’m talking 5x-7x per week between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know it’s getting really bad when I eat 2 meals out in one day…and then eat out for breakfast the next day. It’s a sickness. First, it’s usually not healthy food at all. Second, it’s not healthy for my budget either. SO, I’m going to give this one a try again and see if I can do even better than I did last month.

3. Hit 1000 miles on my bike and run over 30 miles.
My bike and I have been together for over two years now. I started off thinking riding 10 miles was just about impossible and worked up to riding my longest ride of 41 miles last July. My bike and I have currently seen 921 miles together and I’d love to cross the 1000 mark this month! Now on to running. 30 miles in one month is, to most runners, a joke. BUT let’s remember that I had surgery in January and May 29 was my first run in about a yeare…AND I had not run over a mile in about 2 years because of my hip. I just crossed the three mile mark the other day and am SO excited about it. I’m hoping I can get some ‘good’ mileage in this month! :D

4. Blog about makeup/beauty stuff 1x per week.
I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but beauty blogging is pretty time intensive. For me (and most people who blog about beauty stuff) there are usually photographs to be taken and editing to be done and lots of links to add. Then there’s the actual writing. BUT I have so many awesome ideas/products that I want to share (and also some OMG-ew-don’t-but-this-ever)! We’ll see how it goes!

 

Whelp. I think that’s enough out of me for now. Sorry for the long post but apparently I had a lot to say. ;) Oh! And one more thing…what do y’all think of the Summer Self Love Link-Up? I really like it but I’ve had zero link-ups so far. If y’all like reading it I’ll keep it around but if not I’m going to use that Monday spot for something else. So, if you want to see the Summer Self Love Link-Up stay let me know, otherwise it’s history! :)

Summer Self Love Link-Up: June 30 Edition

Happy Monday everyone! Hopefully most of you are looking forward to a short week (those in the US at least) since we have a holiday on Friday! :) If you’re new to the Summer Self Love Link-Up, welcome! If not, welcome back!

Every Monday, I host a link-up that’s focused on what you’re loving about yourself or what you’re doing FOR yourself this week! I think it’s really important for women especially to remember what you love about yourself and to remember to do things just for you!  :)

summerselflove2014

 

 This week I am…

…going camping! (Well really, this weekend.) This girl is desperately overdue for some unplugging time! I can’t wait to relax, read, and hang out in the woods. ;)

…trying out a new nail polish that I wasn’t sure would look good on me. Consensus says, I love it!

…still trying to stick with that whole ‘healthy eating’ thing. It’s tough sometimes but it’s literally making my insides feel so good! :)

…loving how confident and happy I’ve been feeling! For me, exercising is about more than just being fit or losing weight, it’s a psychological necessity. More exercise = better mental health. Yay!