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.

simple tips to save money; easy strategies to save; how to build a savings account

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten easy ways to save your money.

Please note that I'll be skipping the most obvious tip:  coupons.  But, still use them.

1.  Automatic Savings Deposits
Contact your bank to have a set dollar amount automatically transferred to a savings account weekly.  Be 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 delinquent accounts.  Many banks will link a checking account to a free line of credit as a "just in case" method.  Tip - If you bank utilizes a line of credit, paying off your overdraft may help your credit!

3.  Cook, Cook, and Cook
Avoid expensive take out bills and empty calories by cooking yourself dinner on a nightly basis.  If cooking is overwhelming you can and totally should cook in bulk to freeze homemade meals.  For easy recipe ideas check out my recipe page.

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 and in lower demand.  The same goes for purchases that you know you'll need.  For example- If a child needs a fancy calculator for school, predict the purchase and buy it on sale way in advance.  I do this for everything especially the holidays and saved ridiculous sums of money!

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!  This is also a great way to pre-plan meals, ensure you have all ingredients, and work on improving # 3!

8.  Pack Breakfast & Lunch
Instead of wasting cash on expensive breakfasts and lunches, invest in an insulated lunch bag.  Try simple & inexpensive things to pack such as hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, fruit, or a large salad.  I was recently gifted with this lunch bag and I absolutely LOVE it.  I haven't gone out for lunch more than twice since.

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.  If you haven't paid off the debt before the promotional time period, just transfer again.  It's really simpler than you think.

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.  & we're all about money saving inspiration, right?

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

Related:  Also see these wedding posts -->

wedding to do list; wedding planner; wedding planning guide

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

What to do at: ONE MONTH until the wedding

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.

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 foresee 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.  Next we 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 an easy process.  You just stand still for 3 hours while a seamstress cut out a dress around you to fit your 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...

What's on your list for the 1 month marker?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

List: Ten simple ways to help achieve happiness.

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 if he/she/wife/husband/dog/etc. is happy”.  I think that analyzing and worrying about your happiness will actually have the reverse effect.  Did I lose you?  No worries, I'll explain better.

happiness project; simple ways to be happy; don't worry just be happy; effect strategies to achieve happiness

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten simple ways to just be happy.

You can check out The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin here.
My mother gifted me with the The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal by Gretchen Rubin.  You can check that out here.  This not only help me find happiness in simple things and be more content with life, but it also taught me about myself.  I often reflect with this journal and am surprised every time.

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 any 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.  It's OK to eliminate poison from your life.

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.  Tip:  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.

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 unique ideas to bring to a backyard barbecue.

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 I’m showing up with a fruit salad or a bottle of wine in hand.  As you can imagine, I am sick of making fruit salad and buying bottles of wine.  In an attempt to switch it up this year, I compiled a list of new ideas.

bbq gift; bring to bbq; give to a hostess;

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

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.  Homemade Sangria
This is one of my favorites to do because it's pretty to look at, tastes delicious, and shows that you really thought about it.  Make the sangria the night before.  Transport it with sliced fruit in a concealed container.  Come prepared with a pretty pitcher and a big spoon to pour it into upon arrival.  I have this pitcher that everyone always compliments.

Note- This makes a great gift!  Get all the ingredients for sangria, put it in a glass pitcher, and wrap.  Hello, amazing housewarming gift, especially for those who love to host gatherings!

4.  Quiche
A quiche goes with almost anything which makes it a perfect thing to bring on a BBQ.  This is an inexpensive way out but shows thought since it takes a little time to make.

5.  A BBQ Sauce Set With Flavor Variety
It’s almost a guarantee that the BBQ will involve some sort of grilled meat making this a perfect idea.  Whenever I go for this idea, the men always LOVE it.  This set makes the perfect item to bring.

6.  Homemade Guacamole
Everybody is sure to love this idea, just don’t forget to bring a bag of tortilla chips.

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!  I recommend this Bunch O Balloons set so you don't have to tie every balloon shut.  You should also bring your own bucket so the host doesn't have to dig one out.

8.  Fruit Kebabs
This is similar to fruit salad, but it’s way more fun and things taste better when they’re fun.  They also are a colorful addition to the table.  Not to mention, grilled fruit is totally trendy right now!

9.  S ‘mores
A barbecue usually implies the use of an actual bbq which means it’s a green light for S’mores!  This Hershey S'mores caddy has everything you need and just looks like a prettier item to pass your hosts.

10.  Wattamelon Roll by Friendly's
This is perfect for a BBQ because it’s sweet, refreshing, and totally delicious.

What are your unique ideas to bring to a barbecue? 

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!**

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

List: Ten necessities for your tropical honeymoon.

As quickly as our wedding is approaching, so is our honeymoon!  I’ve been preparing with shopping sprees and by strictly following my healthy swaps.  The honeymoon is almost exactly one month away, but I think I’ve finally gathered all necessities.  That means that they are purchased, checked off my list, and neatly put away in my suitcase.  We will be going to West Palm Beach, Florida for a whole five days on July 27.

what to pack for tropical vacation; Caribbean vacation packing list

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten necessities to pack for your tropical honeymoon.

1.  A Multi-Purpose Dress 
You'll need a dress that you can rock for a night out, for a walk along the boardwalk, or with flats for a casual lunch in the sunI packed this FABULOUS dress by Michael Kors because it was flattering, priced right, and goes really well with my sun hat.

2. At least two flattering bathing suits
You'll want a suit that is flattering, a little sexy because it is a honeymoon, and gives some chest support.  Without proper support, you can kiss any type of water sports goodbye.  I ordered this two piece tankini because it's sexy and functional.

3.  Sensitive Skin Sunscreen
Be prepared with a high SPF sunscreen from a brand that you're familiar with.  The last thing you want is an allergic reaction to dampen the mood of your honeymoon.  I use this spray sunscreen from Neutrogena because it's oil free and noncomedogenic.

4.  Reusable Water Bottle
You will need a refillable water bottle with a filter so that all your money can go to fun and delicious things.  My family and I bring our Brita Premium Filtering Water Bottle everywhere so that we can hydrate in style.

5.  Coordinating Bathing Suit Cover Ups
You want to bring something that covers up enough to enjoy a lunch at a casual restaurant and do some light shopping.  When you're on a tropical vacation, you'll always be wearing a bathing suit underneath.  I purchased two rompers just like this one because they are cute, mint, and gets the job done!

6.  Versatile Sandal
You need a shoe that's comfortable to walk in, matches everything, and makes you smile.  I got these shoes by Sam Edelman because they are all of the above PLUS they take up minimal room in our suitcase.

7.  Your Favorite Hat
The last thing you want is sunburn, skin damage, or wrinkles.  To avoid all of that, I always bring my favorite hat with me.  I use this exact straw woman's fedora because I like how they look on me, but for a honeymoon, you may want to invest in a personalized sun hat, like this one.

8.  Inexpensive Flip Flops
Your suitcase should have at least one pair of inexpensive flip flops in it.  You want a pair that are cheap enough to walk through sand, salt water, and whatever else to totally ruin without care.  Something like these flip flops would be perfect.  Keep an eye out for deals because I've scored them for $2.50 once!

9.  Sea Salt Hair Spray
You're tropical vacation is for natural wavy hair and low maintenance styles.  To do this effortlessly, make sure that you pack your favorite sea salt hair spray for the perfect beach hair before leaving the hotel room.  My favorite spray is this one because it gives texture and protects my already damaged hair.

10.  Wristlet
Every woman needs a small bag that matches everything.  The last thing you want is to worry about your designer handbag getting destroyed at the beach.  I love this particular wristlet because it matches everything, is small enough to not be a nuisance, and roomy enough to carry my essentials.

What are your tropical vacation necessities?

Monday, June 15, 2015

List: Ten unique Father's Day gift ideas.

Unlike women, fathers are just that much harder to buy for!
You could always go with that ridiculously overpriced gadget or the usual shaving set.
In an attempt to be unique, I put together a list of different things that dad is sure to love.
I tried to hit all different price points to help out different people on different budgets.  Enjoy!

Ten unique Father's Day gift ideas.

1.  Monogrammed Whiskey Decanter
Dad is sure to appreciate this personalized and manly gift!  Especially if it comes with a bottle of Jack.
Can be bought here.

2.  Swim Trunks
Summer's officially here, so why not give dad a hot new suit to rock??
Can be bought here.

3.  Ben Bailey: Road Rage DVD
The comedian from Cash Cab is hilarious in his stand up.  A good laugh is a perfect gift!
Can be bought here.

4.  Sunglasses
Sometimes us women forget that men suffer from UV rays too!  Invest in a good pair for Dad.
Can be bought here.

5.  Bocce Ball Set
This is a great game for a bbq, to play with the boys, or to use as fun time as family!
Can be bought here.

6.  Daily Joke Calendar
Dad can sit this on his night table or his desk at work.  Either way, it's a great start to a day.
Can be bought here.

7.  Bath & Bodyworks Stress Relief Set
This is bound to get a few laughs, but the scent is masculine and the "stress relief" message is clear!
Can be bought here.
**Note:  My man will be opening this gift set on Father's day.**

8.  Customized Phone Case

It's a unique way to remind dad on a daily basis just how much you adore him!
Can be created and bought here.

9.  Garmin Vivoactive Fitness Monitor
This monitor does everything from tracking your fitness to telling you the weather.  You're welcome, Dad!
Can be bought here.

10.  Coca Cola Vending Cooler
This is just beyond awesome!  Well, assuming that it comes with ground rules.  hah!
Can be bought here.

What are your unqiue Father's Day gift ideas?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Life: Pinterest

Happy Friday Everyone!!!
I’m out for the day doing tedious errands that just really need to get done.
My hunny and I will be running around getting our marriage license and meeting up with an organist.
…and then, hopefully, we will indulge in a lovely lunch outside at a nice cafĂ©…

While we’re enjoying the very rare occurrence of not going to work, I have some news for you.
Raviolis & Waterworks is back on Pinterest!
You can visit and follow me here.

It’s been years since I utilized this tool, but I just rediscovered it and fell in love!
Talk about drool worthy recipes and gorgeous ideas for just about anything.
It won’t be long until Pinterest sends a message asking me to stop pinning the entire internet.

Do you or will you use Pinterest?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Discussion: How to diffuse a fight with someone you love.

My man and I recently finished our Pre-Cana classes through the Catholic church.
There were many aspects of this class that were very enlightening.
The whole atmosphere of the class was great.  I wish we could attend one EVERY week!

We learned many new communication techniques, tips, and topics.
We learned different key concepts to help better and strengthen a relationship.
We also discussed other topics like parenting, finances, and future in laws.
Not to mention, all of these lovely tidbits are ours to keep in the form of a text book.  Love it!

My favorite lesson was how to extinguish your inner anger with your partner during a fight.
When you are angry with your partner, meditate on ten reasons why you love them.
Ok, so the deacon didn’t actually say “ten” reasons, but my OCD loves that number!

Let’s practice!
Despite constantly begging, my man still got beard hairs everywhere, including my toothbrush.
This is when I would take a deep breath and reflect on the reasons why I fell in love with him.

1.       He’s an amazing father.
2.       He’s always there when I need him.
3.       He’s even there when I don’t need him.
4.       He tries very hard to make me happy.
5.       He picks up the slack when work takes over my life.
6.       He tries to helps me cook even though he HATES it.
7.       He always considers my opinion.
8.       He actually enjoys shopping.
9.       He drops anything and everything to be there for my family.
10.   He’s willing to sacrifice so we can shine.

After mediating on those 10 things, I realize that those beard hairs aren’t all that serious.
I calmly leave the bathroom and ask him to shave in the shower if he can’t clean up after himself.
We hung a mirror in the shower.  Now he don’t have to clean up and I have a clean toothbrush!  Double win.

How do you try to keep calm when arguing with a loved one?

Monday, June 8, 2015

List: Ten things you should keep in your pocketbook.

I’m that obnoxious person that is overly prepared for anything that MIGHT happen.  That means that my over sized Dooney & Bourke bag is always filled to the brim with stuff.  It's filled with the basics.  That means cash, cards, phone, keys and a wallet.  But, it's also filled with something I'll refer to as "secondary essentials".  These are the things that you may not need every day like your keys but are super useful under the right circumstances.

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten things that should always be in your purse.

1.  Travel Size Toothpaste & Toothbrush
This is important to always have in your bag because you never know when you’ll be in the mood for a garlic knot.  I love this set from Crest because it's the perfect size and it's super inexpensive.

2.  Tinted Lip Balm
It's often that I look for some sort of moisturizer for my lips and it's often that I need a pop of color.  Tinted lip balm takes care of both of those problems.  My go to tinted lip balm is this one.  I always have one in my bag and for back up in my beauty stash. 

3.  Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is a pocketbook MUST, because you never know when you'll be caught off guard with a public door knob.  My favorite is Purell and this travel size pack is perfect for the cause.

4.  Paper Toilet Seat Covers
While I think to think that I've mastered the art of "squat and hover", there are times my heels are just too high.  For those instances, I always carry around Potty Shields with me.  This is my go to brand for travel toilet seat covers.  Note:  Now that I'm a mommy with little kiddies, these are even more useful!

It's often that I spill, splatter, or drip on myself.  I have no shame..  Because of this, it's practically mandatory that I have a Tide pen in my bag.  This is the exact stick that I use.

6.  Tweezers
Hear me out before you judge.  There's been many times that I found a rogue hair on myself that needed emergency plucking.  There was also that one time my son got a splinter.  Either way, I don't go anywhere with my mini Tweezerman tweezers in pink, of course.

7.  Motrin & Other Over the Counter Meds
You never know when you'll had a wicked headache, severe bloating, indigestion, allergies, or whatever common ailment you suffer with.  To get through this, invest in a small bottle of Motrin like this one.  Then add one or two medications to the bottle just in case it's needed one day.

8.  Band-Aids
You never know when you will get cut or need a quick fix for a broken nail.  That's why I always come prepared with travel case of neon colored bandaids.

9.  Information Card
For ease of mind, I always carry an emergency information card.  It's similar to a credit card so it fits nicely in your wallet, but has all important information such as my name, doctors, allergies, and an emergency contact.  These cards are similar to what I use.

10.  Alcohol Wipes
Alcohol prep wipes come in handy more than you would think.  Using ear buds?  I'll disinfect them first.  My phones getting nasty?  Let me get a wipe.  You scraped and cut your knee?  I got you covered!  Whatever the instance, you'll want to purchase these alcohol prep wipes to always carry around with you.

What are your pocketbook essentials?


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