Monday, May 30, 2016

Life: Memorial Day



Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial day is not all about barbecues.
Memorial day isn't just about the paid day off from work.
Memorial day isn't just the day everyone opens up their pools.
Memorial day is not just another long weekend.
Memorial day isn't just an excuse to indulge in tri-colored pasta.
Memorial day isn't just an ok to start wearing white clothes again.
Ok, so maybe it's a little bit of those things, but it's mostly something else.

Memorial Day is a set day for American's to recognize and appreciate all the men and women who served our country.  These are the men and women who sacrificed their lives for the United States of America.

How will you be spending Memorial Day?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Life: Friday Ramblings.


Breathing better now that...
...we've had our chimney cleaned!  Seeing what was removed from there had me gagging.
Who knew what we were breathing in?!  It makes me want to invest in an air purifier.

In pain because...
...I slashed open my thumb pulling up my pants!  No, I'm not kidding.
That's what I get for not removing the dry cleaning tag and staples.

Completely swooning over...
...my baby girl and her "boyfriend".  They say that the love each other and they hug real tight!
We met the whole family at his birthday party and let's just say we were impressed.

Totally dreading...
...writing out the thank you cards from baby girl's birthday party.
How many more years until they do this themselves?!

Currently brainstorming...
...different father's day ideas that are totally budget friendly!
I'm pretty sure that as long as he gets a cold beer, he'll be happy.  But I need to impress!

Secretly checking out...
...my husband as he knocks down a wooden shed and breaks up concrete by hand.
We may have been together for 4 years, but I still think he's sexy!

Laughing out loud...
...at the scene in Frozen when Olaf talks to a rock pretending to believe it's Kristoff's family.
Yes, I actually find Frozen an enjoyable movie to watch.

Giving crooked looks at...
...the new guy at my job who first met me and called me baby.
Um, do I know you?  And did you really just meet her and call her sugar??  Barf...

Totally obsessed with...
...the show Containment on the CW!  Holy JUICE!
If you haven't watched it, we're only 5 episodes in so there's totally time to catch up!

What are your Friday ramblings?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

List: The ten rules of our home.

Every family has their own method to keeping the peace in their home.
It may be a method based around rewards or it may be based on punishment.
Some families prefer to be proactive while others rely on being reactive.
As long as your method works for you, we're happy!

My family recently hit a little bump in the road.
My husband and I were clashing on how we wanted to run our household.
...and let's not forget that my 3 year old had her own opinions to add...

Our resolution was to sit down as a family and set house rules.
We used bulletin paper and listed our 10 rules with the consequences of breaking them.
Not to mention my daughter is the first to call us out on breaking a rule!  Cop much?!

ten rules of our home,

Ten House Rules

1.  Do not yell, scream, or call each other names.

2.  Do not curse.

3.  Do not run in the house.

4.  Make all decisions together as a family.

5.  Do not ask the same question more than 3 times per day.

6.  Do not lie.

7.  Unless impossible, always eat together as a family.

8.  Always  respect each other.

9.  Clean up after yourself.

10.  Do not forget your manners including the pleases, thank yous, and you're welcomes.

**If mommy or daddy are to break any of these rules, they will lose their phones for 1 hour per offense.  If baby girl breaks any of these rules, she will lose her favorite toy for 1 hour per offense.
I guess I need to stop repeating the same question or I'm going to be without a phone!  Eep!

What are the rules and consequences of your home?

Monday, May 23, 2016

List: Happy birthday Madre!

On Friday, May 20th, my mommy celebrated her 53rd birthday!
...and by celebrated I mean she completely refused to acknowledge it was her birthday...

Typically we would all venture out to the Belmont Race Tracks to celebrate her special day.
My mama loves to rock the race tracks with a big fancy hat while betting on the horses.
This year all she wanted was pumpkin pancakes and to pretend it was just another day.
Shout out to my brother who took a day off to take her for the best pumpkin pancakes on Long Island!

My hubby was a little disappointed, but I totally get it!  I mean, I love me some pumpkin pancakes.
That got me thinking.  My mother and I have many different things in common that I refuse to admit.
Even if people tell us we look alike my mom will say to them "Don't tell her that.  She'll cry!"
In honor of madre's un-celebrated birthday, here are ten things I'm proud to have gotten from my momma!
Please note:  I'm not really ashamed to look like my mommy.  We all joke in good fun!


Ten things I'm proud to have inherited from my mother.

1.  We both have the constant need to be independent.
If we lost our ability to be financially, emotionally, or physically independent we'd go crazy!
Madre has always beaten independence into my brain.  She taught me to always rely on myself!

2.  We both have a great work ethic.
We will always get the job done quickly, alone, and to the best of our ability.
It drives us both completely NUTS when people don't finish what they start.

3.  We both are border line OCD with keeping things neat and clean.
We will forever live, work, and play in a clean and organized space.
It drives me crazy when people are able to live in complete filth and surrounded by a mess!

4.  We both like to fill our home with living things.
We find it very fulfilling to surround ourselves with living plants that we nurtured.
Her green thumb is something we definitely share!

5.  We both believe in a homemade meal.
I grew up eating a homemade meal  as a family every night.  This is still important to me now.
There is nothing comparable to a meal cooked with fresh ingredients and shared with family.

6.  We are both forever thirsty for knowledge.
While we may be interested in different lessons, we both need to be constantly educated.
I can't imagine a day where either of us are satisfied with the knowledge we already have.

7.  We are both loud with a lot to say.
While my mom may have a little more to say than me, she taught me to always speak my mind.
Let's just say that we don't know how to whisper.  A low voice is like a foreign language to us.

8.  We both know the importance of self maintenance.
While we both know it isn't all about the looks, one's appearance is always the first impression.
If you need a quick lesson on personal appearance, then watch a few episodes of What Not To Wear!

9.  We both refuse to throw away money.
While we certainly aren't cheap, we don't like to give money away either.  We believe in a good deal!
We also believe in spending extra for good quality.  It saves you money in the long run!

10.  We both will always put our family first.
We will always be present for every family event, Sunday dinner, and anytime our family needs us.
Madre also told me that their is no such thing as a best friend.  A best friend is family with different blood!

Please join me in wishing Madre a very happy birthday!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Life: Friday ramblings.



I fell in love with the lost art of...
...rocking my natural hair!  I'm so used to straightening that I forgot about my natural curls.
I'll forget about my hubby's scrunched up face and my God son calling me a poodle.  Hmph...

Annoyed that we had to dip into...
...our emergency savings account to fix an electrical hazard in the house.
Especially since my husband had to be practical and upgrade to 200 amp at the same time.

I'm super proud of my baby girl...
...for going pee pee in the potty!
We had to stop for a short while but now we're back on track!

Currently sipping on a glass of...
...my favorite wine!
La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir is the best!  It's so good  that I legit buy it by the case.

I'm real grateful for...
...my amazing husband that's been picking up lots of the slack around the house.
It's the time of year when I work real late and have time for nothing.

I've been studying real hard for...
...a trade exam to get a special certification in my field.
My amazing manager saw my nerves and signed me up for a prep class.  I will pass!!

I still absolutely refuse...
...to put anything in or take anything out of my kitchen cabinets.
Remember when I told you I got stung by a bee living in my coffee filters?  Well, it scarred me.

My weekends have been filled with...
...birthday celebrations!
First a work friend's 40th, then my daughter's boyfriend's 3rd, and now my aunt's & mommy's!

I "eep" every time my daughter...
...points and screams "I WAS THERE" while watching the castle at the start of a Disney movie.
I love the fact that she loves the fact that she was there!  Swoon...

I'm super excited to host...
...my first barbecue in our house!
Madre usually hosts Memorial Day, but we volunteered to take it off her full plate.

I'm real bummed that...
...we had to spend our extra cash this month on a stupid lawn mower.
I mean, seriously?!  What a boring horrible thing to spend on!

What are your Friday ramblings?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

List: Ten simple ways to grow your savings account.


Being an adult with grown up responsibilities means needing a savings account for emergency use.  The majority of us get our regular pay checks with a real small opportunity for extra cash.  While a set income may seem like a curse, it doesn't mean that saving is impossible.  With the right budget, state of mind, and a few easy tricks, your savings account will grow.


how to increase savings on a set income; how to save your money

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 grow your savings account.


1.  Set up an automatic savings deposit.

Contact your bank to have a set dollar amount automatically transferred to a savings account weekly.  Make sure that it's aligned with pay day and that it's 100% automatic.  This should be a simple, thoughtless process with as little opportunity for interference as possible.

2.  Create an overdraft protection account.

Ensure that you have overdraft protection to help avoid unnecessary fees and/or delinquent accounts.  This could be a link to a second account with funds or a line of credit.  Either way will work, assuming that you religiously pay off that line of credit before interest is accrued.

3.  Skip takeout and learn how to cook.

Avoid expensive take out bills and empty calories by cooking yourself dinner on a nightly basis.  Is the constant cooking becoming overwhelming?  I feel ya..  Try making several meals at once and freezing portions for future meals.  This idea will save you time, money, and probably some calories!

Idea:  If you're new to the cooking world, this is my absolute FAVORITE cookbook.  I use it regularly because the meals are thoughtless, quick, and healthy.  In fact, I love it so much, that I often gift a new copy to others.  Don't like hard copies?  Click here for the Kindle edition.

4.  Set a monthly budget and stick to it.

Make yourself a budget to account for all expenses.  Take a percentage of what's left and save it.  I use an excel sheet to track all past expenses and predict all future ones.  This lets me see how much I can spend with still having 10% leftover to save.  Once the Excel sheet is set up, it's real easy to maintain.

Idea:  Don't over spend on groceries by setting a weekly budget, browsing for circulars, clipping virtual coupons, and making a list of everything you need.  When I do a deep dive, I'm always surprised to see that the grocery store is where I dumped the mystery funds.

5.  Make advance purchases.

Don't wait to buy predictable gifts.  Buy them for less while on sale with coupons in advance.  I do this for everything and the savings is substantial, especially with the holidays and school shopping.  It could be a year in advance, but if there's a good deal, I grab it and save it.

Idea:  Often check the lightening deals on Amazon found on this link.  They are constantly putting items on sale with a huge discount for a short period of time.  This is where I get most of my gifting inspiration while saving tons of money in the process.

6.  Swap name brand for store brands.

Swap your expensive name brands for less expensive store brands.  Most products are near identical.  If you're unsure which products are worth the splurge or worth the savings, check out my post here where I do the dirty work for you.

7.  Always shop the weekly ads.

Before making any purchase, check out the store's weekly ad for deals and new ideas!

8.  Meal prep your own breakfast & lunch.

Instead of wasting cash on expensive breakfasts and lunches, invest in an insulated lunch bag like this oneDon't go all gourmet on it either.  Try packing simple meals like hard boiled eggs, fruit, and a salad with grilled chicken for lunch.  These are all things you can put together at the start of the week to grab and go.

9.  Transfer debt to one consolidated account.

Consolidate your debt by transferring balances to low or zero-interest lines of credit.  If you're debt isn't paid off before the introductory rate ends, transfer your debt to another new card.  There's no reason to ever pay interest on debt unless something terrible happened to your credit score.  Stop making the banks richer!

Idea:  For extra savings and to help increase your credit score, trying paying your bills on a credit card that accumulates points.  You can save money by setting up automatic payments for special discounts.  Additionally, those points can be turned into cash to pay off future bills or add to your savings account.  There's no harm in this assuming that you actually pay off that credit card just like you would your normal bills.

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 grow your savings account?


Monday, May 16, 2016

List: Ten things everyone must do at least once this summer.

The sun is finally shining and the coats are stored far away.
Although Spring was running real late in NY, I'm happy to say that she's finally here!
It's time to put away the electronics, throw blankets, and fuzzy sweaters.
It's now safe to replace those things with fun activities and plenty of vitamin D.
Summer also happens to be one of the shortest seasons so jam pack it with all the good stuff!

My family and I have spent the last two summers not doing much.
We were constricted with a baby girl, a tight budget, and very little time.
Our theory this summer is:  Make memories, not excuses.


Ten things everyone must do at least once this summer.

1.  Get wet without trying.
Whether it's a surprise smack with a water balloon or a sneak attack with a hose, get someone wet!
Anyone can jump in a pool.  It's way more fun when you don't expect it!

2.  Play until you sweat.
Play an intense game of basketball, tag, or even leap frog all while under the sun.
This is healthy and lots of fun!

3.  Grow a flower.
Find a place in your house, apartment, or back yard that gets lots of sun and watch it grow.
You may think this is silly, but every time you see it, you'll totally smile.  I swear!

4.  Read an entire magazine in the sun.
You can sit on a blanket in the park or on a towel in the beach.  Just read and tan.
...and, no, this is not just a girly pastime.  Smh...

5.  Toast marshmallows in a bonfire.
Once the sun goes down, gather family, friends, and a bag of marshmallows for a real good time.
Try not to laugh and enjoy while peeling off a toasted marshmallow shell.  Yum!

6.  Make a homemade popsicle.
All you need is wooden sticks, an ice cube tray, and your favorite juice!
Oh, and a freezer!  Don't forget the freezer...

7.  Enjoy a barbecue.
You can host the gathering or be a guest.  Either way indulge in a cheeseburger and some sun!
Attending a bbq and need some unique ideas to bring?  Problem solved here!

8.  Walk along a boardwalk.
It could be around your favorite beach, lake, or whatever.  Just enjoy the nighttime stroll!
While I live on Long Island with beach all around, I still prefer a boardwalk road trip to AC.

9.  Ride a bike.
Exploring is so much more fun when you're on a bike.
Unless your lucky enough to have a motorcycle then I totally meant that type of bike...

10.  Take a road trip to an unexplored town.
Pick a nearby town or village that you've never been to and explore every nook and cranny.
I love a good adventure in a town where you can park the car and spend hours walking!

What is an easy summer activity you must do each year?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Recipe: Jax's favorite salad.

There has been many times that I spent days planning, prepping, and cooking a killer meal.
After we all shovel it down, it's my stupid salad that always gets all the compliments.
I mean, that kills me!  It makes me want to scream "REALLY, the SALAD impressed you?"!

This happened to me yet again at my baby girl's birthday party.
I had trays upon trays of food and people were asking me for my salad recipe.
A salad recipe?  Really, people?!  It's lettuce with whatever you feel like putting on top!!!!

After years of dreading those salad compliments, I've decided to finally accept the fact that it deserves a recipe.
This salad has been my lunch daily for over 6 years!  It also appears during my fancy dinner parties.

meal planning, the best salad ever, healthy salad, easy salad
Please excuse the old picture.  I don't have many salad pics!

The best salad recipe.

**Serving Size- 8 People or 4 Personal Lunches**

(3) Romaine Lettuce Hearts
(1) Pint Grape Tomatoes
(1) Fresh Mozzarella Log (I only use Bel Gioso)
(2) Red Bell Peppers
(2) Avocados
(1) Bag of Ocean Spray Craisins

Clean and chop all the romaine hearts into bite size pieces of lettuce.  Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and cut into bit size pieces.  Clean the grape tomatoes and cut in half.  Slice and dice the fresh mozzarella log into bite size pieces.  Clean and cut the red bell peppers into bite size pieces.  Place each ingredient in a bowl or lunch container in that specific order.  Sprinkle with desired amount of craisins.
If you're OCD like me, count to make sure you have an equal amount of cheese and tomato bites!

Please note:  I do not use dressing, but for company I'll supply extra virgin olive oil and vinegar.
I eat the lettuce with pieces of the avocado bites and a crasin.  This way it doesn't need dressing!

How do you make your favorite salad?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

List: Ten things you should stop to be more successful.


The other day I was having a heart to heart with my amazing manager.  I expressed how I'm content but bored with my position and I'm ready to move on up.  See what I did there?  I expressed interest to grow while opening the door for expert direction.  He was super helpful in laying out a plan for my future career in this company.  He signed me up to take a test for a special certification and arranged a business trip to corporate.

After developing a plan of action, he started talking about the things people shouldn't do.  This was an interesting view of things.  I never thought about our actions that prohibit success.  People spend too much time planning what they need to do, and not planning what they need to stop!

how to be successful; how to grow corporate ladder; women breaking glass ceiling; stop whining; work hard

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 bad habits to break to gain success.


1.  Stop believing that you're irreplaceable.
No one is irreplaceable.  There is always a person ready and willing to fill your shoes.  Many times, there are even people willing to fill your shoes for a significantly lower salary.  The thought that you're job is secure because you think you're good at it, doesn't mean squat.  In fact, it probably leaves you with an entitled air about you that rubs people the wrong way.

2.  Stop thinking that anyone owes you anything.
Some people feel they're simply owed a promotion while successful people earn a promotion.  Length of time in a position does not mean that a company owes you anything.  Growth is reserved for those who apply for higher level positions and allow supervisors to mentor them so that they are molded into a qualified candidate.

Idea:  If you're looking to grow, then play the part.  Invest in a padfolio like this one.  It will keep you organized and looking professional.  In addition, save it to write down growth opportunities.  Keep it reserved for your career growth and watch it act as motivation.

3.  Stop doing the bare minimum.
While it's inadvisable to take on too much, successful people will always try to learn the step.  For example, you may have been tasked to take a project from steps 1 through 3.  Next is to learn step 4, just be smart enough not to own it unless it falls within your realm of responsibilities.

4.  Stop waiting for opportunities to fall in your lap.
The thought and desire to move up is not going to get you anywhere.  Express interest and take the actionable steps required to achieve it.  I'm always bewildered by those waiting for a promotion, yet they never even apply for the job.  Seriously.  This happens, like a lot.

5.  Stop being involved in workplace drama.
Stop the gossiping, sharing too much personal information, and bullying your coworkers.  Management will overlook your hard work if you're nothing but drama and trouble.

6.  Stop avoiding opportunities for education.
Don't avoid that webinar, sleep during that conference, or delete that e-mail regarding extra training.  "Learning as much as possible on our company's dime makes you an investment."  This is a direct quote from my current manager and it couldn't be more true.

Idea:  Invest in your career with The 100 Day Journal (click here for more information).  This journal provides the steps and motivation you need to complete that goal.  Start small and then re-use for the next goal.  For example, my husband used this to get all his certifications for the job he wanted.  He's now starting over and using it to get that job.  It's a great tool for such a low price.

7.  Stop milking unnecessary overtime.
Your direct report knows what overtime hours you actually need.  Only use what's necessary.
At the end of the day, all costs need to be accounted for and your specific OT shouldn't be a topic for conversation.  To be clear, I'm not discouraging overtime.  I'm only discouraging exaggerated overtime to beef up your check.

8.  Stop being overly helpful.
Stop making those spreadsheets for the computer illiterate coworker.  Stop cleaning the kitchen after your sloppy peers.  Stop volunteering to do tasks that really belong to someone else.  If you have the time to do things that aren't part of your role, use it to invest in your success instead of investing that extra time to someone else's success.

Idea:  Whenever I inherit a new employee, I make sure they have a written list of all their roles and responsibilities.  Keep your own and make sure it's updated often.  When you get tasked with something in a gray area, reference your list.

9.  Stop shying away from corporate visitors.
Stop hiding in your cubicle when upper management visits.  Make sure they know you're name and see your face.  At the end of the day, being appropriately sociable with people of power will do nothing but help you achieve success.

10.  Stop being a dumpster for unwanted tasks.
Don't allow yourself to become a dumping ground for brainless tasks.  Only take on valuable ones.  For example, let John Smith make his own folders because you're way too busy learning how to reconcile a new account.

How did you find success?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Life: Happy birthday baby girl!

On April 25th my baby girl turned from two to three.
While we celebrated with a trip to Disney World and a big birthday bash, I never officially said it here.
...and nothing is official until it's been said on R&W.  Duh!


Happy third birthday to my beautiful baby girl!
Mommy and daddy wish you another year filled with laughter, health, and happy memories.
Words can't express how proud we are of you and how each day we love you more and more!

I was going to write a detailed list of all the fun things I want my 3 year old to experience.
While brainstorming, I remembered that my baby is old enough now to speak for herself.
It's time for mommy to let go a little and let my miniature grown up speak her mind!

***************************************

How old are you now?
"Three years old." 

What is your favorite food?
"Chicken Nuggets"

What is your favorite toy?
"My Let it Go couch."

What is your favorite movie?
"Let it go"

Who is your favorite person?
"Mommy!"
...smart girl...

What are you scared of?
"A monkey."

Who is your favorite princess?
"Tangled."

What is your favorite fun thing to do?
"Bubbles."

What is your favorite color?
"Pink!"

What is your favorite song?
"Let it Go."

Where is your favorite place to go?
"I want to go to Disney World."

If you do anything in the world right now, what would it be?
"I want to go in the pool."

What do you want to be when you grow up?
"To grow into a flower."

I'm glad we did this because now I know how we should spend her 3 year old days!
We should have a pool day to swim, play, and then blow lots and lots of bubbles.
We'll eat chicken nuggets for lunch and then take a Frozen movie break.
All the while we will make sure we hire a man to fight off all the monkeys trying to ruin the fun.
The best part is, she'd be spending it with her favorite person, ME!  Just saying...

Please join me in wishing my baby girl a happy birthday!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Life: Friday Ramblings



It feels unbelievably good to...
...return back to my normal, every day life with a whole new outlook.
There's nothing like a great vacation to put a whole new spin on things.
Besides, I missed all of you.  I mean, R&W is my virtual home away from home!

I'm beyond relieved to report that...
...my daughter's third birthday was a huge success spent with lots of smiles.
We didn't let the rain stop us from throwing the birthday celebration she deserved!
Although I did hide my furniture and area rug in a locked room.  No rainy butt juice or spills for them!

You can officially call me a farmer because...
...we had a relaxing family day filled with lots of gardening fun.
The unwanted foliage was removed and replaced with real pretty landscapes and a huge garden.
Our family farm is filled with string beans, tomatoes, oregano, peppers, broccoli, and even a fig tree!

I'm totally in love with...
...what my daughter and I did with our bay window in the kitchen.
We filled this huge window with many fun and pretty things that grow real well with the extra sunlight.
We have basil for days, pretty flowers, and a shelf dedicated to my favorite decorative tea pots.

I'm completely skeeved by...
...the massive amount of bugs that decided to make our house their home.
The exterminator will be coming tomorrow to eliminate all the bees, spiders, and bugs hiding away.
I got my first bee sting this week by a yellow jacket sleeping in my coffee filters.  Bleh gag barf!

It's very freeing for my...
...little toes because I officially swapped my comfy boots for cute open toed shoes.
My feet are also real excited for all those summer pedicures they're about to be pampered with.
Fine, I'll admit that I totally enjoy those pedicures also.  It's not just my feet!

What are your Friday Ramblings?

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