Friday, July 3, 2015

Life: Happy Fourth of July.

Let's all take time to remember how great of a country we are fortunate enough to live in.
Let's also reflect on those that honorably serve our country to ensure our liberties.
As you celebrate our nation's birthday, remember all that deserves celebrating!
Can you tell that I'm proud to be an American?


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

List: Ten cheapskate ideas to help you save money.

Sticking to my money theme, I thought I'd piggy back off of my last post.
Growing a savings account is a huge part of reaching financial stability, but it's not everything.
You also need to incorporate creative life hacks to help you keep a little extra cash in your pocket.
Sometimes being a cheapskate is totally a good thing.  But, just SOMETIMES.  hah!

Ten Life Hacks To Help You Save Money

1.  Rent movies from the library
Ditch the monthly Netflix subscription, stop purchasing On Demand flicks, and never buy a DVD.
The library has almost every DVD you can think of from TV shows to movies to rent FOR FREE.
For free, people, for FREE.  Why would someone not want to do this?  I do it weekly!

2.  Invest in a to-go coffee mug.
Ditch the Starbucks drive through in the AM and invest in a coffee pot and a to-go mug.
That $2 coffee adds up to $14 a week and $56 a month.  That's a lot of money over time!
The Viking bought me a Keurig for my birthday a few years back, then wrote the math in the card.

3.  Invest in a reusable water bottle.
Water bottles are not only very expensive, but they are awful for the environment.
Save money and the world by investing in a stylish reusable bottle and a water filter.
Between the coffee and the water, I definately just save you about $100 a month.  I love it!

4.  BOGO with a friend.
Sometimes a friend may be looking for the same product or brand as you.
Wait for the buy one get one free sale and split the bill 50/50.
Playing "save money" is even more fun when it's with a friend.  I swear!!

5.  Cash in recycables.
In NY, we pay a $.05 deposit for every bottle or can we purchase.
Instead of putting them outside, go to the store and cash in your recycables.
That 5 cents adds up real quick!  One 24-PK of water is $1.20 alone.  Don't GIVE away your money.

6.  Save your extra Starbucks napkins.
This sounds crazy, but for some unknown reason, Starbucks napkins make AWESOME oil blotters.
Forget those expensive little blue pads and just hold onto your extra Starbucks napkins.
FYI for the men: oil blotters remove excess oil from your face without ruining your make up.

7.  Repair, don't toss.
Get into the habit of fixing the things that make sense to fix.
For example, before splurging $500 for a new TV, get a quote on how much it will cost to repair.
It kills me when I see people throw away the things that require just a simple fix!

8.  Pay with cash instead of credit.
Many places will give you a break if you pay with cash instead of credit.
This is especially true with small businesses, car maintenance, and filling up your gas tank.
Businesses need to pay a fee to the credit card companys to process the payment.  It's a win-win!

9.  Car pool when possible.
This saves you and someone else gas money and miles on your car.
Not to mention, this is a great tip to help save the environment from harmful emissions.
I used to car pool to work when I lived near a coworker.  It actually made the commute seem quicker!

10.  Attend "free" events.
There are many public events that are actually free to attend and a lot of fun!
Check with your town to see what's happening and if you get freebies for being a resident.
I'm constantly getting tickets and passes through my public library and the church.  

What are your cheapskate tips?

Monday, June 29, 2015

List: Ten easy ways to grow your savings account.

I am one of those people that's always looking for ways to save money!
No, I'm not cheap.  I work hard for my money so I don't enjoy throwing it away.
Every dollar we save on necessities is a dollar we can spend on something we want.
Every dollar we save on things we want, is more money spent on wants in the future.
Those dollars may not seem like much, but they will add up to a nice sum over time.
Those are rules to live by right there!  No worries, I'm going to help you get there...with a list!

Via - This totally made me laugh.

Ten easy ways to save your money.
I'll skip the obvious tip:  coupons.

1.  Automatic Savings Deposits
Contact your bank to have a set dollar amount automatically transferred to a savings account weekly.
Just make sure that you line it up with pay day!  You want to make this a thoughtless process.

2.  Overdraft Protection
Ensure that you have overdraft protection to help avoid unnecessary fees and delinquint accounts.
My bank links my checking account to a free line of credit as a "just in case" method.

3.  Cook, Cook, and Cook
Avoid expensive take out bills and empty calories by cooking yourself dinner on a nightly basis.
Is the cooking overwhelming?  Cook in bulk and freeze.   Pick one night for take out.

4.  Budget
Make yourself a budget to account for all expenses.  Take a percentage of what's left and save it!
I'm the budgeting queen!  If you need any help, reach out to me personally or read this post.

5.  Make Advance Purchases
Don't wait to buy predictable gifts.  Buy them for less while on sale with coupons in advance.
I bought everyone their Father's Day gifts with (2) months to spare and saved at least $40.

6.  Store Brands
Swap your expensive name brands for less expensive store brands.  Most products are near identical.
Do you need help seeing which store brand items are the same as the name brand?  Look here.

7.  Shop Weekly Ads
Before making any purchase, check out the store's weekly ad for deals and new ideas!
I won't even start my grocery list before checking the supermarket's ad.

8.  Pack Breakfast & Lunch
Instead of wasting cash on expensive breakfasts and lunches, invest in an insulated lunch bag.
My bag is always filled with hard boiled eggs, oatmeal packets, fruit, and a large salad.  Yum!

9.  Transfer Debt
Consolidate your debt by transferring balances to low or zero-interest lines of credit.
Interest rates make paying off debt near impossible.  Stop making the banks richer!

10.  Utilize Saving Sites
For a cheaper night out, search for good deals through sites like Living Social and Groupon.
These sites help you save money AND give you hot new ideas for a day/night out.

How do you help grow your savings account?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Wedding: One Month Marker

I can NOT even fathom the fact that it's been almost two full years since I got engaged.
I mean, where EXACTLY did that time go and how the heck can I get it back?!

Despite the fact that I only have one month left to get my act together, I haven't done much else.
Luckily for you all, that means you'll only have to suffer through one more wedding post after this one!

Bridal Party Attire
All of the ladies have picked up their gowns and began working on their alterations.
All of the men have been hunted down and measured for their tuxedos and shoes.
The ladies hair appointments have been set and their hair styles have been picked out.
The only one left is my little Mushy.  We're having her dress hand made.  I really need to get on that!

Rehearsal Date
The wedding rehearsal date has been set and scheduled in the church's appointment book!
The bridal party has been informed and they're ready to go.
It's scheduled on my man's birthday.  I forsee a cake directly following the rehearsal.  Yum!!

We met with the priest and went over all of our reading choices.
We picked our favorite two and noted them in the official matrimony book.
Now I just need to pass them along to our honorary readers so they can practice!

Wedding Dress Fitting
I had my first wedding dress fitting and I fell in love with my dress all over again!
Luckily, I didn't require any major alterations.  Just a gigantic hem and a few tucks here and there.
It was so weird standing for 3 hours while a lady cut out a dress around me to fit my body perfectly!

Wedding License
We gathered all of our original documents to prove our existence and headed to Town Hall.
We purchased our wedding license and we're ready to make it official! I still debate about changing my last name...

This wasn't a real productive month, but I'll be seriuosly cracking for the next 30 days!
Let's all cross our fingers that I get done with everything in time for the big day!

What are your wedding planning tips for the 1-month marker?

**For those of you who keeping popping up through Google (I see you!) and sent me e-mails, I'm going to compile one giant wedding checklist at the very end.  You're welcome!**

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

List: Ten simple ways to just be happy.

I recently read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
It was an enlightening read, but it was more of a “how to” than a juicy story with a moral.

While this book may not have had me on the edge of my seat, it did get me thinking.
Am I really happy?  Maybe I’m content, but how can I be overjoyed?  Is my family happy?
That’s when I realized that we, as a society, are thinking way too much into such a simple concept.
Everywhere I turn there is a new article on “how to know he/she/wife/husband/dog is happy”.
I think that analyzing and worrying about your happiness will actually have a reverse effect.
No worries, Jax is going to make this whole “happiness” thing real simple for you!

Ten simple ways to just be happy.

1.  Don’t measure your happiness.
If you need to stop and think if you’re actually happy or how happy you are, you’re not that happy.
Happiness is enjoying the moment and the people around you without outside distractions.
A happy moment is something you will remember and reflect on as a pleasant memory without doubt.

2.  Surround yourself with only people you genuinely enjoy.
You know whose company you look forward to and whose company you dread.
Eliminate the people from your life that you consider toxic or just bring you down.
Being around that one person you dislike can turn a nice event into a horror show.  Cut him/her out!

3.  Don’t be a bystander and be involved.
Being happy means getting involved, having fun, and enjoying the moments life gives you.
Get up and dance.  Pick up the art brush.  Taste the new foods.  Play the game.
You totally get the point.  Don’t be the person lurking in the corner envying the people doing something.

4.  Realize the world doesn’t owe you squat.
Some people have this false perspective that the world owes them happiness.
You need to make your own happiness.  It won’t fall into your lap.  You need to go and get it.
The world isn’t dishing out vacations, boyfriends, or nights out on the town?  Go get them yourself!

5.   Fill your day with things you enjoy.
Your work days should be filled with the tasks of a career that you love.
Your free time should be filled with people, events, and things that you love.
If you aren’t content with large aspects of your life, these are the first things you need to change.

6.  Don’t live in the past.
We all have those days or years that were filled with misery.  Stop reliving them in your head.
These were experiences or people that helped you learn and grow.  Leave it at that and move on.
Living in the past makes people fear the future.  No one can be happy that way.

7.  Cherish your body as your biggest treasure.
Be healthy.  Don’t do drugs.  Don’t sleep around.  Wear sunscreen.  Let it rest and recharge.
Your body is the most important tool you have in life.  Preserving it is preserving happiness.
There are so many unfortunate events in life that can’t be prevented.  Limit these opportunities.

8.  Accept yourself for everything that you are.
We all have insecurities, but we should never let them get in the way of our lives or happiness.
Wear that bikini.  Dance without rhythm.  Snort when you laugh.  Rock those frizzy curls.
Hiding insecurities or missing out because of them will always hinder your happiness.

9.  Celebrate all of your achievements.
Not all of your achievements need to be huge in order for you to be proud of them.
You may not have graduated yet, but you passed that nearly impossible class.  Celebrate it!
Celebrating and acknowledging an accomplishment will bring happiness and create memories.

10.  Laugh.  Smile.  Enjoy.
You may not want to go somewhere or do that thing, but you’re obligated to anyway.
Don’t pout and be miserable.  Instead laugh with people, smile at the day, and enjoy what you can.
Happiness is all about your outlook on something.  Intend to be happy and it may just happen. 

How do you do happiness?

Monday, June 22, 2015

List: Ten unqiue ideas to bring to a BBQ.

Father’s Day was spent  running around from place to place.
We took my daddy out for a nice breakfast in the morning.
Then we went to my future in laws for a Cuban style BBQ complete with the pig on a spit.
After spending the day at the BBQ, we headed to Nanny’s to have dessert with papa.
After all that running around, I really could use just ONE more day off from work…

Throughout the Summer season, we are constantly going to BBQs.
That means that I’m showing up with a fruit salad or a bottle of wine in hand.
As you can imagine, I am SO sick of buying fruit salad and bottles of wine.

In an attempt to switch it up this year, I compiled a list of new ideas.
Did you really expect something other than a list?  I didn’t think so…

Ten unique ideas to bring to a BBQ.

1.  Homemade Red Velvet Cookies
The host will appreciate the time you took to cook them and that they aren’t a common treat!
These cookies are so yummy and very easy to make.  Recipe can be found here.

2.  Colorful Hanging Plant
This may not be something that can be served, but it certainly can be displayed!
Your host is sure to appreciate this gesture for way more than one BBQ.

3.  Sangria
This is a unique idea whether you make it yourself or pick up a bottle from the store.
If you make it yourself, you can get real creative and fun with how you bottle it.

4.  Quiche
A quiche goes with almost anything which makes it a perfect thing to bring on a BBQ.
This is such an inexpensive and easy thing to make.  My favorites are artichoke or zucchini quiche!

5.  Bottles of Archer’s Farms BBQ Sauce
It’s almost a guarantee that the BBQ will involve some sort of grilled meat making this a perfect idea.
I would pick a bottle of Sweet Pineapple and a bottle of Molasses & Cayenne BBQ sauce.  Yum!

6.  Homemade Guacamole
Everybody is sure to love this idea, just don’t forget to bring a bag of tortilla chips!
I plan on making two batches of this: one very sweet and one a little spicy.

7.  Water Balloon Kit
This is a guaranteed hit with the kids and occupied kids means very happy adults.
Call me a kid myself, but water balloon fights are totally a summer highlight for me!

8.  Fruit Kebabs
This is similar to fruit salad, but it’s way more fun and things taste better when they’re fun.
Not to mention, fruit on a stick makes for an absolutely colorful, gorgeous display!

9.  S ‘mores
A barbeque usually implies the use of an actual bbq which means it’s a green light for S’mores!
…and who doesn’t love the combination of chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers?!

10.  Wattamelon Friendly’s Roll
This is perfect for a BBQ because it’s sweet, refreshing, and totally delicious.
Besides, it really looks like a watermelon making it perfect to display on the dessert table!

What are your unique ideas to bring to a barbeque? 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Jax Seal of Approval: Renpure Hair Products

For a fun Friday post, I figured that I'd talk about one of my favorite subjects:  Hair
...and you thought I was going to bring up the Hemsworth brothers again.  Wait, I just did...

Being the Sicilian that I am, my hair gets disgustingly greasy VERY quickly.
That means that I wash my hair every single morning.
Sometimes even again at night if I'm going out.
Washing your hair daily is a terrible habit.
Your hair loses a lot of its natural shine and volume.

To make matters worse, after I wash my hair I blow dry right away and then use a heated styler.
Depending on my mood, it could be my straightening iron or one of my curling wands.
Using heated styling tools is an even more terrible habit.
It damages, thins, and breaks your hair.

I try to make up for all of my terrible habits by consistently using OGX coconut oil prior to styling.
If you remember from this post it was listed as my #1 favorite beauty product!
I'm getting to a point where this isn't enough.
I need to make a concious effort to give my hair a break at least once a week.
I need to force myself to get a trim consistently every 6-8 weeks.
I also need to invest in a shampoo that can help reverse some of the damage.
...and you all know how much I love my coconut shampoo...

Jax Seal of Approval:  Renpure Biotin & Collagen Thickening Shampoo & Conditioner


I headed over to my favorite store to ask their specialist a few questions.
The sales lady pointed me in the direction of Renpure and guaranteed that I'd love the results.
You can now add this to the list of reasons why Target is my favorite store!

While I wouldn't say that the shampoo/conditioner reversed the damaged, it did help.
My hair definately has more shine and volume than prior to using these products.
I've also noticed a significant increase in regrowth sticking out of my head.
Does anyone else welcome regrowth but get annoyed at their presence at the same time?!
Both the shampoo and conditioner are pleasantly light preventing your hair from being weighed down.
The smell is fantastic and the price is pretty reasonable.

Without further adieu, it's my honor to extend the Jax Seal of Approval to Renpure!

Have you or will you try any Renpure products?
**Please note that this was not a paid review.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that  Renpure does not even know I exist!**

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