Friday, October 30, 2015

Life: Friday Ramblings

Happy Friday, Lovelies!
Two weeks ago I introduced a new series called Friday Ramblings that will be posted bi-weekly.
I asked for feedback from my readers and I was glad to receive very positive comments.
Thanks again to everyone who participated in the survey to help me create this series!


Really, REALLY excited for…
My Mushy’s Halloween parade and party at her school!
I won the battle with my husband and the baby girl is officially going as Olaf.
Between the candy, desserts, and the pumpkin contest, this is bound to be a good time!

Stressing about…
All of the pimples that keep popping up on my face and won’t go away!
I don’t mean to brag, but I usually have decent skin.  This could only mean ONE thing:  Stress!
I’m stressing over the house buying process (EEP!), but the pimples from that stress are causing stress!

Can’t stop cooking…
With pesto!  I’ve been smearing heaps on everything and totally LOVING it!
It’s amazing how some pesto can turn a simple dish into something a little fancy and very delicious.
Last night I made baked tilapia fillets smothered with pesto sauce.  So easy and so yummy!

The big win for the week…
Is the amazing and hard earned ONE HUNDRED PERCENT on my Financial Management test!
Either my professor took pity on me, or all those hours of isolation and studying finally paid off.
Confession:  The test was only 2 questions.  But, it was 2 very CHALLENGING questions.  Still a win!

Obsessing over…
This past Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead!
I won’t give away any spoilers, but I don’t believe that what they made appear happen really happened.
Here’s to hoping that you know who is alive, well, and hiding under a heap of dead zombies!

Really, REALLY struggling with…
My healthy life swaps.  I went real strong for about 6 months and then my bad habits snuck back in.
I need to review my old goals and get myself back on track before all my hard work is in vain.
Besides, no one really wants to gain winter weight especially before the winter even starts!

What are some of your Friday Ramblings?

**If anyone is interested in making this series a link up, please let me know.  I'd be more than happy to set it up!**
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

List: Ten weekend activities to do at home that are practically free!

The past few weekends my family and I have found ourselves huddled inside our apartment.  In an attempt to hoard some last minute cash before our home purchase, we’ve been staying in.  I do love me some time inside to sip wine and catch up on housework, but we’re officially bored.  By bored, I mean complete cabin fever, scratching at the doors, DYING to get out, boredom.  When we officially couldn’t take it anymore, we started to enjoy some inside activities.  It was nice to have fun and spend some quality time as a family for FREE assuming we have all the supplies on hand.

free weekend activities to do at home

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 free weekend activities to do at home.

1.  Start, join, or manage a fantasy sports team.

A fantasy sports team can be real fun, especially when your competition is family, friends, or co-workers.  It’s amazing how a fantasy sports game can automatically make watching a game 10 times more intense.  This free weekend activity will create hours of fun between drafting your fantasy team, watching the games, and monitoring stats.

Idea:  To add more fun and competition make it so that the winner gets a medal like this one that they can display to rub in everyone's face.  The medal may be <$10, but you'll be surprised at how proudly they'll be displaying that award whenever you visit!

2.  Complete a 3-D puzzle.

Climb into the attic and dig deep into that box of puzzles.  Pull out the 3-D puzzle since it's the most challenging.  Clear a space in the house so that you'll have room to work on it in intervals.  This is guaranteed to occupy you for a whole weekend if not more.

Idea:  You don't have a 3-D puzzle in the attic?  This one is inexpensive, challenging, and pretty enough to leave out for some time to show off all your hard work!

3.  Fill up the freezer with pre-made meals.

I’m famous for always having frozen tubs of sauce & meatballs, different soups, and stews within reach.  This makes your life so much easier during the week and is great for those surprise dinner guests.  Pick a recipe and peel, slice, chop, season, and prepare as a family.  This free weekend activity is fun AND productive.

4.  Family manicures and pedicures.

Fill up the tub to soak your family’s toes in water and baby oil.  Then clip, file, & cut each other’s cuticles.  Don't forget to file off calluses on the heels of your feet.

5.  Binge-watch a whole season of a TV show.

Pick a series that you’ve been dying to see, and watch as much as you can.

Idea:  Not sure what to watch?  My favorite TV show EVER is Supernatural.  It has 15 seasons, so that's plenty of weekends at home with something to do.

6.  Play an intense game of Monopoly.

Rock the traditional game of Monopoly, but make the game all about an intense wager.  Winner gets to pick a movie rental?  Helllooo chick flick that I NEVER get to watch with the hubby around!!  This free weekend activity may seem lame, but I promise it's a lot of fun when there's a wager involved.

7.  Have a family dance party.

Learn how to do the Salsa, the Merengue, or any dance you like and practice as a family.  Youtube has plenty of instructional videos that you guys can put on your Smart TV to follow along.  As a double bonus, this is great exercise.

Idea:  Do you have a Wii that you haven't used in a while?  Dust it off and put in this game for HOURS of fun dancing.

8.  Complete a crossword puzzle.

It’s amazing how difficult crossword puzzles actually are and they’re real fun to do with a partner.  Cheaters that use Google during this have to do the dishes for aweek!

9.  Host a pot luck dinner.

Have your family and friends come over with a different dish, beverage or dessert.  This free weekend activity means enjoying people’s company and indulging in a gourmet meal without all the work.

10.  Make homemade candy.

It’s cheaper than buying candy at the store and way more impressive when you hand it out.  You can do something as simple as chocolate covered fruit or candied apples.  Or, you can do something as complicated as a homemade Snickers!

Idea:  This book will tell you all you need to know about candy making, including my favorite - chocolate fudge!  Don't have time for the book to ship?  Click here for the Kindle version.

How do you spend weekends at home?

Monday, October 26, 2015

List: Ten effective strategies to overcome a challenge.

This time last year I decided that I wasn't just a mommy.  That meant to start blogging again, to nurture all of my relationships, and to go back to school.  As much as I hate admitting this, I've been in college since 2008 and I still don't have a bachelors.  

Since being a mom is still a priority along with my job, I decided to take online classes to save time.  This past year I dipped my toes into the online college experience by taking easy classes to start.  This semester I submerged my entire foot into the water by taking a financial management class.  This class is, to say the VERY least, a challenge.  In a grand effort to save my GPA and to not waste more time/money, I'm accepting the challenge to pass!  Here's to any passing grade that my brain can grant me!

how to overcome a challenge and end with success

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.

How to effectively overcome a challenge.

1.  Identify the problem.
The first step to overcoming a challenge is to identify the problem.  & I don't mean admitting that there is one.  Identifying the problem means analyzing the situation and pin pointing one or two problems so that you can work on fixing it.  For example, the problem with my class is that I'm not dedicating enough time to learn the material which is causing me to fail tests and assignments.

2.  Set a goal with clear and attainable aspirations.
Overcoming a challenge is too broad of a goal with no clear end game.  Instead, set a specific goal and make sure that it's possible to do.  For example, I'd really like to pass the class, but my goal is to obtain a C+ or higher so that I qualify for tuition reimbursement.  This is both specific and attainable.

3.  Schedule time slots to accomplish this goal.
Analyze your goal and try to rationalize how long it will take you to meet your goal and overcome the challenge.  For long term challenges like my class, this could be a reoccurring time slot.  For example, in order to meet my goal, I'll need a minimum of 4 hours weekly to study and another 4 hours to complete classwork.  Going forward, Friday nights and Sunday afternoons will be dedicated to the class.

Idea:  If you don't already have one, invest in a stylish chalkboard calendar for the fridge like this one.  It will motivate you to commit to your dedicated time slots and it will help you communicate and remind your family to work around them.

4.  Find a place where there are no distractions.
Many of us have distractions lurking around our home.  It could be a spouse, child, pet, or lingering chores.  Remove yourself from there and find a spot that allows you to focus.  For example, I frequent the same nook in Starbucks where the only distractions are coffee and petite vanilla scones.  You may even learn that with focus your estimated time slots were exaggerated.  Get another cup of coffee and enjoy the quiet.

5.  Ask for help when it's truly needed.
Don't ever be above asking for help.  There's nothing wrong with it when it's done within reason and with clear expectations.  For example, I reached out to my professor via e-mail letting her know that I'm finding this class very challenging.  I was specific in my request and asked if she was aware of any YouTube videos that can help me learn the material.  She passed me along some online tools and even recommended a special calculator that was very helpful.

6.  Educate yourself on the topic.
No challenge is ever overcome without some hard work.  Take the time to research and educate yourself on the topic.  Being knowledgeable of a subject will make a challenge that much easier to overcome.  You may even find a tip or a trick that will help make it happen quicker or with less effort.

7.  Be as organized as possible.
Overcoming a challenge is difficult enough.  Don't make it harder on yourself by being unorganized and having to sort through a mess before figuring out where you left off.  Whether you use Excel to track progress, a calendar, or even post it notes, develop a simple process to help organize yourself and your thoughts.  For example, I highlighted and tabbed every page of my text, put notes in the margins, and made web browser bookmarks.  It helps me pick up where I left off without any rework and allows to me review important topics without digging for them.

Idea:  To remain organized throughout the day, I carry around a notebook like this one wherever I go.  I dedicate a tab to work, a tab to reminders, a tab to R&W, and now a tab for my class.  This system helps me overcome many challenges in life while making it look like I have the best memory ever.

8.  Recruit some support.
Support could be someone to motivate you.  Sometimes we find it easier to overcome a challenge when you tell people about it because failure is never fun to communicate.  Support could also mean asking someone to help clear your calendar.  For example, Madre and my husband have become constant cheerleaders and motivators for me.  Additionally, they will help will pick up the slack to ensure that I have the time I committed to.

9.  Constantly remind yourself why you need to overcome this.
If you don't have some sort of reward or reasoning for overcoming a challenge, you may find it difficult to be successful  Take the time to list the reasons for doing it and maybe even possible consequences.  If you adopted my notebook system, this could be the first page of your tab.  For example, The first page of my notebook section could say, "my GPA will suffer", "I'll lose tuition reimbursement", and "Bachelor degree will be farther away".

Idea:  When it's all said and done reward yourself with this inexpensive version of Amazon's Echo Show.  This virtual assistant will keep you organized, informed, and ready to take on the next challenge!

10.  Don't move on to the next step until the previous one is right.
Every difficult challenge comes with a great deal of sub-challenges and little steps.  Don't move forward until everything up to that point is right.  This will help ensure your success and will eliminate pot holes in the future.  For example, I won't move on to a different example until I get the answer right and understand how I got to it.  This will make sure that I know how to correctly answer this question on a future exam.  Then make a space for crumpled up paper!

What was your last challenge?
Friday, October 23, 2015

Recipe: An easy recipe for a hearty minestrone soup.

As you all know, I'm really, extra, super busy.  That is totally not a complaint.  I love being busy.  I also dislike eating out for health reasons and to save money.  In order to make this possible with my ridiculous work schedule, I cook in advance.  On a Sunday, you will find me in the kitchen cooking massive amounts of something.  This Sunday I happened to make my husband's favorite dish, homemade Minestrone Soup.

how to make minestrone soup with sausage

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.

Recipe:  Hearty Minestrone Soup

Tip:  Since this makes for a very large pot of soup.  I freeze the leftover soup for later.  Do NOT freeze with the pasta otherwise the pasta will absorb all of the broth.


Note:  Some ingredients to this hearty minestrone soup are a link to the products I use for reference.

2lbs Cheese and Parsley Sausage Ring
(1) 16oz Can Diced Tomatoes
(1/2) Cup Pecorino Romano GratedCheese
2.5lbs Potatoes
1 Bag Baby Carrots
2 LARGE boxes of Chicken Broth
2-3 Cups Water
1.5 Tsp Dried Oregano
2 Heavy Shakes of Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tbsp Dried Basil
Ricotta Cheese (Optional)


Cut the casing off of all the sausage.  Brown the sausage and separate it until it crumbles.  Drain and put in a large pot.  Peel and dice your potatoes and put in the pot.  Cut your carrots and place in pot along with all the other listed ingredients.  Make sure that all the ingredients are covered with chicken broth, if not, add 2-3 cups of water.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and cook for 2 hours.

I then boil a half pound of ditalini pasta and serve it with the soup.  Do not add the pasta to the large pot of soup because you will need to freeze the leftovers less the pasta.  This should make for 2-3 full meals depending on how many people you are filling up.  If desired, serve this hearty minestrone soup with a dollop of ricotta.  ..because ricotta makes everything just that much better!

What is your favorite hearty soup?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

List: Ten things that are scary about Halloween.

With Halloween less than 2 weeks away, I'm in full holiday mode!
I'm already inviting people to watch Mushy in a parade and I'm stock piling candy.
Not to mention, I also won the costume argument.  It's official.  Mushy will be Olaf per her request!
I have my autumn themed decorations through out the house and a pumpkin jar filled with candy corn.
We went pumpkin picking and all four of Mushy's picks are neatly displayed on the front stoop.
I also stocked my pantry with all the seasonal apple pies I could find.  Yum!!
But, as fun as this holiday is, there are many things that scare me about it.

Then things that scare me about Halloween.

1.  Fake rats sitting on people's property.
Nothing's worse than those very realistic looking rubber rats that everyone puts out.
Be honest, how many times did those toy rats make you jump?!

2.  All the missing eggs in the grocery store.
Every purchased egg carton on Halloween makes it that much more likely that you'll be egged the day of.
Have you ever been egged?  If not, believe me when i say it HURTS!

3.  All the delicious candy laying around the house.
I already went through half a bag of Pumpkin Reese's by myself, and I still got 2 weeks to go.
Ladies and gentlemen, my butt does not need those extra calories.  Get the candy away!

4.  Masked teenagers knocking on my door for candy at 9PM.
If you're old enough to be out at 9PM, you're too old to be trick or treating.
When this inevitably happens, you can't help but wonder if it's a serial killer at the door!

5.  Possible frost bite from standing outside trick or treating.
On Long Island, it's pretty freaking cold out in October, especially to be walking around in a thin costume.
Let's take a quick vote of who want's to move this holiday up a month!  Any takers?

6.  Candy that's clearly been tampered with.
It could be a simple rip or a manufacturer defect, but I'm automatically thinking it's poisoned goods.
Getting free food from strangers does not rank high on my OCD list.

7.  Teenage girls walking around in hoochie mama outfits.
Halloween is not an excuse to walk around looking skanky.
I'm all for a clever costume that's a little sexy, but walking around half naked in front of kids is not ok.

8.  The ridiculously overpriced Halloween costumes.
I refuse to spend more than $30 on a costume my baby girl will wear once.
Clearly the stores don't care about my refusal because they're all priced $50 and up!  Errr

9.  People lurking around my car.
Unfortunately, some people think of this holiday as a green light to damage people's property.
Put down the toilet paper, shaving cream, silly string, and eggs.  Now back away from my car...

10.  The men dressed up as decorations that jump up at you randomly.
It might be funny for you, but you get me and everybody else EVERY time.
Besides, you just made me pee in my overprice costume.  Not nice!!

What scares you most about Halloween?
Monday, October 19, 2015

List: Ten things that I'd like my daughter to know.

After watching a particularly upsetting Lifetime movie, I started to think about equally upsetting things.
This specific TV movie was about a woman who passed away and left behind a very young daughter.
I’m tearing up just thinking about this.  I can’t even imagine not being there to see my Mushy grow!
The daughter was very young when she passed.  The only memory she had of her mother was a picture.
This got me thinking, if something was to God forbid happen tomorrow, what would I want Mushy to know?
Sorry folks for the ridiculously depressing post.  I swear that I’ll lighten it up in a moment!

This one's for you, baby girl!

Ten things I want my daughter to know.

1.  Always keep the company of reliable people, but never rely on anyone.
Independence is key.  With it comes a sense of security and never the need to settle.

2.  Save your regrets for the things you did instead of the things you didn’t do.
Living like me and being cautious of everything makes you miss out on moments that you’ll never get back.

3.  Don’t live life counting every calorie, and once in a while, eat the damn cheeseburger.
It’s important to consider health but it’s also important to indulge.  Indulgences make life worth living.

4.  Always keep up with your appearance.
Being pampered will always keep you confident, motivated, and ready for a spontaneous night on the town!

5.  Periodically take time to re-familiarize yourself with yourself.
We change as we grow.  It’s important to know every bit of yourself inside and out at all times.

6.  Never put off a doctor’s appointment, ever.
Health determines your quality and length of life.  It’s vital to regularly monitor and maintain it.

7.  Treasure every moment you can, and forget the moments you can’t.
Life is way too short to live with grudges.  Find a way to move past things as quickly as you can.

8.  In every aspect of your life, always choose quality over quantity.
This is particularly true when it comes to companions, friendships, and shoes!

9.  Be content with what you have, but always have your eyes open.
As you grow so will your desires and needs.  Don’t keep at it just because you’re comfortable.

10.  Celebrate everything.
Every accomplishment, no matter the size, deserves a celebration.  Be proud of everything you do.

What ten things would you want your child to know?
Friday, October 16, 2015

Life: Friday ramblings.

Happy Friday, lovelies!
I asked what my readers wanted to hear, and you guys were amazing enough to answer.
I was shocked to learn that what you guys wanted to hear about the most was me!
Shocked may be true, but I was mostly flattered!!  I mean, you guys DO care!!
In an attempt to give what you all what you want, I'll be starting a new series called Friday ramblings.
It will be fun, light hearted, and filled with little snippets of my world.
In return, I hope to hear little snippets of your life in the comments section so we can get to know each other.
While I'll try to do this regularly, it will not post weekly.
I mean, my life isn't THAT interesting that you'll want a weekly play by play.  Trust me!

Without any further adieu, introducing R&W's first Friday Ramblings!
If you have any suggestions, requests, or if you just hate this series, please let me know.


Current Goal:

I want to fully potty train my little Mushy Face!
With the help of her school, we've been pushing this whole potty training thing full force.
She's rocking her pink Pull Up panties and is constantly asked "Do you have to pee pee?"
Tuesday morning we had a breakthrough!  She told ME she had to pee pee without my saying anything!!

Current Big News:

My husband and I are in the process of buying a house!
We found a nice home in an amazing school district within our price range.
We settled on a price, got pre-approved for a mortgage, and now we're writing up the contracts.
We're hopping to be in our new home before Christmas.
Although, we're refusing to pop a bottle of champagne until the contracts are signed!

Current Obsession:

My little Mushy dressing up as Olaf for Halloween.
I think she looks stinking adorable as Olaf.
She's also REALLY excited about this.  She's been begging to be Olaf for a month now.
Since we officially bought the costume, she keeps telling everyone "I be Olaf"!
Now to just get daddy on board.  My husband isn't too happy that she's dressing up as a "boy".  Smh...

Current Eye Candy:

Charles Michael Davis from the originals.
This actor is hot as hell with a voice that should be on a phone sex hotline!
While I'm completely obsessed with the show, he totally is the icing on the cake.
We've been watching The Originals every night, and every night he makes me swoon!
Oh please!  My hubby's swooning over this character's love interest, Rebecca.  It's totally fair!

Current Playlist:

I can't stop listening to Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony's duet, No Me Ames.
This song is in my head and I can't seem to get it out.
I've even been humming it to myself in my cubicle, in the car, and in the shower.
This is surprising because I generally dislike J-Lo's music, but I do love me some Marc Anthony!

What are some of your Friday Ramblings?

**If anyone is interested in making this series a link up, please let me know.  I'd be more than happy to set it up!**
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

List: Ten ways to get rid of zombie feet.

I just wanted to say thank you very much to everyone who participated in my survey!  I know, I know.  R&W is all about fun and not making my readers do extra work.  I’m sorry…  Your comments and ratings were helpful.  You should know that I’m taking them all very seriously.  I have some plans for Raviolis & Waterworks and I wanted all of you to take part in it.  If you didn’t take the survey, but would like to, you can access it by clicking here.

An anonymous person in the survey requested a post that I had to deliver with right away.  It is appropriate for the Halloween season and is definitely considered an emergency condition.

how to properly take care of your feet to make them look beautiful

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 ways to get rid of zombie feet.

1.  Cut your toe nails bi-weekly.
Every other week, take a few minutes to groom your toe nails yourself or get a pedicure.  This Revlon nail clipper is super inexpensive and gets the job done well.  A nail clipper is a must for adults.

2.  Moisturize your feet daily.
For maintained feet, one of the first things you should do after your shower is moisturize with cocoa butter cream.  Invest in a cute pair of slippers to stop yucky stuff from clinging to the cream and to avoid slipping.

Idea:  This product from Nivea is priced right and leaves my feet soft and smooth.

3.  Sleep with Vaseline and socks on your feet.
To get rid of zombie feet before the sun rises, slather Vaseline on your heels and protect it with thick socks.  The thicker the better because this allows for the Vaseline to really get in there.  Add "zombie feet" to the ailments Vaseline magically fixes..

4.  Let your toe nails breathe.
As much as most of us adore having fun colored toes, always let your nails go naked for a while so they have time to breathe.  If you don’t rock natural, unpolished nails for a few days a month, your nails could turn yellow.  Ew.

5.  Periodically soak your feet in treated water.
To keep your feet maintained, soak your them in the tub filled with water, apple cider vinegar, and baby oil.  This moisturizes your skin and makes it real easy to maintain your cuticles and scrape away dead skin.

6.  Invest in paraffin treatments.
Try to do this a couple of times a year, typically before sandal season and sometime in mid-winter.  The skin on your feet will feel it’s best right after the paraffin treatment is peeled off and it's magical.

7.  Don’t walk around barefoot.
Walking around barefoot is unsanitary and a great way to get things like foot fungus and warts.  This is probably the easiest thing you can do to get rid of zombie feet.  Don't like socks?  Invest in slippers and leave them at the foot of your bed so you remember to put them on as you get up.

Idea:  For the biggest joke ever get these zombie slippers as a reminder to wear them and what you're trying to prevent.

8.  Wear shoes that fit.
Believe it or not, your feet can shape themselves to your shoes.  Make sure shoes fit and are comfortable.  Sometimes slanted toes and horrible bunions can be attributed to tight and ill fitting shoes.  Unfortunately, this is difficult to fix after the fact and may even require a surgical procedure.  For the love of zombie feet, buy the right shoe size!

9.  Remove chipped nail polish.
You’re feet may be in mint condition, but chipped polish can still make them appear like zombie feet.  Invest in nail polish remover and use it in between fresh coats of paint.

10.  Stay away from zombies.
The most important tip of all is:  If you don’t want to have zombie feet, stay the hell away from zombies!

How do you get rid of zombie feet?
Friday, October 9, 2015

Discussion: The Official National Tears of Gratitude Association

Ladies and gentlemen, I learned of something real interesting the other day.
During Buddy and I’s monthly reunion, he suggested that we start our own business.
He told me about a new Japanese company and he wants to start an American version here.
We may no longer be co-workers, but we’re still friends and we’re still interested in Japanese politics.
Just to be clear, I gave Buddy’s business proposal a big, fat no.

Basically, you hire a sexy man to come make you cry and then wipe away your tears.
You have several different “types” of men to choose from including a bad boy or an older man.
Then you would set up a date to have this man come and make you cry with sad movies.
Once the tears start flowing, this sexy he-man will come on over and wipe away your tears.
The sad part is, these men are certified in the art of therapeutic crying.  It’s a real thing, no joke!
You can have this entire experience solo or with a group for the low price of about $65.

What does Jax think?
I see wrong nothing with this!  I mean, I’d rather get a mani/pedi for $65, but who am I to judge?!
Sometimes a girl just needs a good cry, so why not hire someone sexy to wipe away those tears?
Besides, this may make for one of the most depressing yet greatest bachelorette parties of all time!

What do you think about the Japanese company Ikemeso?