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This Y3W has a double meaning for me. First of all, my mom, Eva and I travelled over the highways to Virginia on Tuesday. I would love to say we were there for pleasure, but this trip was all business! We went there to search for a new place for our family to live once we PCS (for non-military people, that means Permanent Change of Station) this summer.

I was dreading this trip. Normally I am a 'rider' on long drives. Both my husband and dad like driving on long treks. Unfortunately, neither of them was with us, which meant my mom and I would be doing the driving. And to top it off, the weather was predicted to be rainy and gloomy for most of the trip.

When we got there, we quickly changed and got out and about looking at places. And we saw a lot in the 1.5 days we were there. In case you weren't aware, the housing market in Virginia is a little on the expensive side. (especially compared to our current home-state of Texas which is on the cheap side of the spectrum!) And since I'm not working, we have to budget our expenses off the small housing allowance we get from the Air Force.

So the apartments/houses that were in our price range were depressing me. They would be cute, but tiny and lacking storage. Or I'd have to sacrifice a bedroom and/or bathroom. Or they would be in a not-so-desirable part of town. So after 1.5 days of this, I decided to just make a spreadsheet of everything I saw, so my husband and I could look at everything and just pick the best available option. I was discouraged to say the least.

I had a couple more apartments left on my list, that I had ruled out because they were a little far from the base (or so I thought at the time). Yesterday morning, before we left, I decided to stop by these apartments on the way home. I mean, what could it hurt, right? Well, we only ended up looking at one.

Because it is THE one!

It is a 3 bed, 2.5 bath townhome, with washer/dryer connections, a nice sized patio, wood-burning fireplace and updated kitchen and bathrooms. The property manager was genuinely a sweet lady, and the apartments were well maintained, inside and out. originally I thought it was too far from the base, but it turns out, that it will only be a 15-20 minute drive, at most.

So I left Virginia in a great mood. And I returned to Ohio in an even-better mood. We were blessed with beautiful weather on the trip there AND back, and only experienced a couple light showers during our stay. The driving went much better than expected.

And NOW, I can finally focus on Eva's party, which is NEXT SATURDAY --- EEK!

Have a good weekend!


A Martha Stewart Remix...

So in my travels across the world wide web, I have found tons of pictures of beautiful homemade poms made out of tissue paper. And apparently, Ms. Stewart is behind them all.

I found this little tutorial and thought 'Oh! That looks easy! I've got to try it!'

Darn you Martha. Why do you do this to us? You make these awesome arts and crafts and homemade delicacies and do it with such ease that we think - 'surely I can do it exactly like she did, no problem.'

Um, no.

So, here's a picture of the beautiful Martha Stewart poms:

Here's how my attempt at a pom turned out:

Yeah - that's hot.

And in case you're wondering, I also tried it in the large version. I actually attempted the large one first, and got similar results to the above pics.

I was kinda bummed out, but started playing with the pitiful pom and came across two different options that I really like.

First, I stumbled across this little tissue-pom-turned-flower.

Since it's naturally messy, I found it hard to mess up. I even tested it out in a vase.

And secondly, I realized if I didn't pull out all the layers, I could make these cute little circles instead:

So I plan to use my new 'skillz' in decorations for Eva's party. I'm sure you'll see some flowers and some circles.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll finally figure out how to make a perfectly round pom as well!

Ah - don't hold your breath on that last one.



Remember this?

A couple weeks ago, I posted this little beauty:

Did you think I'd let Easter pass without attempting it? If so, you were very, VERY wrong. ;)

So here is my version below:

Of course it looks a bit different. I made several changes. First of all, I decided to only do a 2-layer, rather than 4-layer. The ingredients are kind of expensive, so I purchased half to save some dough. Plus, even as a 2-layer, it's a very rich decadent dessert, so I'm very glad for that change.

Also, I skipped the peanuts (I don't like nuts. Normally I may try to incorporate them somehow for people that do, but it was kind of difficult to do 50% with and 50% without for this dessert). I didn't whip the ganache for the sides, I just poured it all over. And I skipped the chocolate curls and peanut butter cups (on top), because other than being pretty, I didn't think they'd be missed.

Now, I must say that this is really good. It's also super rich and a small piece will do you for a few days. IF I make it again (I'll be honest, even cutting out some steps this is still labor-intensive and takes several days to complete) here are the final tweaks I would make:

  • Cut the caramel in half. It was just too much. This could be due to the fact that the cake was missing peanuts, but it was definitely caramel overload.

  • Cut the peanut butter frosting in half. As much as I tried to use it all, I still had about 1/3 cup left after I was finished.

  • Put more peanut butter cups in the cheesecake. I didn't follow this part to the 'T' and it definitely could have used more peanut butter cups.
So I hope I haven't scared you off from this tantalizing treat. I'm glad I tried it, it wasn't difficult, just time-intensive. And I'm saving it to maybe try in the future with oreos & whipped cream replacing the peanut butter cups and peanut butter frosting, respectively...


Y3W | Long blogging break

I'm soooooooooooooo sorry for the long hiatus. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm currently in Ohio. Why, you may be asking???

Next week my mom and I are trekking to Virginia so I can house-hunt. Then the week after that, we're having Eva's birthday party! So this 3-week trip to Ohio had a two-fold purpose.

Since I've only allotted myself 2 days to house-hunt in VA, I have been consumed with looking up homes and apartments online for the past few days. I want to fit in as many places as possible, and organizing it all is such a daunting task.

So that's why I've been away. I have some fun posts planned, and hopefully I'll be back into full blogging swing by this time next week!

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy your Easter ~ remember that Jesus is the reason for the season ;)


Take It Off Mondays

I'm kind of tired so this will be a short post.

I was discouraged after last week's weigh-in. But I'm happy to report that as of yesterday morning, I was down to 160. Which is especially great, since I was traveling on Saturday and didn't work out much last week. I was so busy packing and preparing for my trip to Ohio (more on that later) that I only was active about 3 days. But I'm finding that I only need to work out 3-4 times a week, and as long as I keep my eating under control I can at least pull a 1-2 pound weight loss.

Here's the stats at a glance:

Starting Weight: 167.5

Weight Loss this week: 2 lbs

Weight Loss to date: 7.5 lbs

Weight Left to lose: 5 lbs

First goal: 7.5 lbs (REACHED 4/4/2011)

  • Reward: A new craft organization box

Second goal: 12.5 lbs

  • Reward: A new bathing suit

Final goal: To fit a size 10 pant

  • Reward: A new outfit for my new bod ;)

Success: Not letting my setback last week discourage me

Set-Backs: Eh, I can't think of any this week

Exercise: Since it's pretty cold in Ohio, I'm just going to aim for 4 workouts per week using the Fitness channel on the cable. If we get out for a walk, that's a bonus.


11 months old!

Eva turned 11 months on Saturday. This post is a few days late. Who's keeping track? - if so, sue me.
Baby on the move!

My little princess is growing by leaps and bounds. She can still wear some 12 month clothes, but she's mostly in 18 month stuff. She's super active and is a pretty fast crawler. (crawler - is that a word?) She walks along the furniture. If her father or I try to hold her arms so she can walk, she wants nothing to do with it. In typical diva fashion, if she doesn't want to do something - she won't do it.
She also can understand simple commands like 'come here' or 'stop' or 'get down' (usually in reference to standing directly in front of the TV)

Eva loves taking everything out of the diaper bag. Especially my keys. Those are probably her favorite 'non-toy' toy. The only problem is she loves to stick them in her mouth. Like so:

Chilling on the slide with Momma

Our diva has become quite the picky eater the past few weeks. She's actually rejecting most table food now and nursing more often (just as I was ready to start the weaning process) I've been giving her bottles mixed with whole milk and breastmilk and slowly increasing the whole milk. Hopefully by the end of this week she'll be taking at least one fully whole milk bottle per day. Eva LOVES other babies and kids. She's not shy at all. Actually, she's a little bit of a bully, even with the older kids in our moms group.

She is so animated and makes the best facial expressions. This is one of my current faves:

Wait, I love this one too:

So pumped on the swing at the park, lol

Yesterday, I SWEAR she said 'Momma'. She was whining, but I promise you in the midst of her whines she said 'Momma' at least two distinct times. My husband disagrees. I think he's been sipping the haterade.

Little Miss Eva brings me mounds of joy daily and I thank God for the privilege of being her mom. I can't wait to celebrate her first birthday and look forward to watching my darling girl grow!


Take It Off Mondays

I didn't want to participate in Take It Off Mondays today. I had such a good week last week and to follow it up with this post is somewhat depressing.

BUT, I committed to publicizing my journey, which thus far, has helped keep me accountable. So I must continue, even though I'm a little embarrassed about this week.

I did well all week, and almost reached my fitness goals (minus one walking session due to the insanely hot Texas weather - it hit 100 degrees on Saturday!) And during the week I ate really well. But on Saturday and Sunday I managed to sabotage my good work. How, you might ask?

I had way too many liquid calories. For some reason both our milk and orange juice went bad the other day. We were out of water and my husband had the car most of the weekend and forgot to refill it. So I drank kool-aid all weekend. Which is so frustrating, because it's not even because of what I ate. But due to drinking liquid sugar for 2 days this is what I saw on the scale this morning:


I gained 3 pounds.

Now to make myself feel better, maybe one of those pounds is additional muscle, because I do feel stronger and I have been weightlifting regularly. But that can't account for all 3 pounds of gain, which I completely attribute to this weekend. It's sad because I had just hit a goal and was hoping to come close to hitting another one, but now I've taken two steps backward. I'm trying to use this as motivation to keep doing what I was the past few weeks. If anything, this proves that what I consume is more important than exercise, as this week was the most active for me since I started.

Okay, I'm done writing, because honestly I just am not in the mood anymore. Here's this week's stats:

Starting Weight: 167.5

Weight loss this week:
+3 lbs

Weight loss to date: 5.5 lbs

Weight left to lose: 7 lbs

First Goal: 7.5 pounds (REACHED 4/4/2011)

  • Reward: A new craft organization box

Second Goal: 12.5 pounds

  • Reward: A new bathing suit.

Final Goal: to fit in size 10 pants!

  • Reward: A new outfit for my new bod ;)

Success: Increased activity

Set-Backs: The liquid sugar that I was doing so well at avoiding...

Exercise: Keeping my exercise goal the same, hopefully I'll finally achieve it! I'm aiming for 3 walking sessions, 3 cardio workouts and 2 weightlifting or ab routines.


If you like chocolate and peanut butter...

I'm sure this would be up your alley:

My goodness! I lurve chocolate and peanut butter. If I were to make this, I would leave out the peanuts, but other than that, this looks heavenly to me. But I honestly can't think of any occasion coming up calling for an over-the-top dessert like that. Oh wait ~ Easter is coming up, right?



I don't mean to get political...

but I am sooooo aggravated with the current 'budget battle' in Congress. I think it's ridiculous that our 'leaders' can't just sit down and hammer it out. If a shutdown occurs that could affect military pay.

That's right. MILITARY PAY. The men and women who sacrifice so much to carry out the orders of those same politicians that can't agree on how to balance the national budget. I realize that it's more complicated than I'm making it out to be. But it burns me, just the same...

Since even before my husband joined the Air Force, I have had a problem with our government. Not necessarily who's there, but how they get there. The whole election system weeds out people who could be great leaders, but might not be the best fundraisers. So instead of voting for the best candidates, we end up casting a ballot for 'the lesser of two evils'.

Which is how you end up with situations like the one we're facing today...


Take It Off Mondays

This is the first time I've enjoyed the process of losing weight. I don't feel like I'm working that hard to do so - which I'm guessing is due to two factors: 1 - I am still breastfeeding and that helps burn some extra calories each day. 2 - this is the first time I've actually changed my eating habits and perspective on food. So often you hear it's about diet
and exercise and I used to only focus on the latter, while still eating high quantities of junk. And when I was younger, that method did have some success for me. But now that I'm older, I really truly need both. But guess what I learned? If you eat a sensible diet, you do not have to kill yourself in the gym. Case in point: I took 3 walks last week, and only did 1 short cardio session (I had Eva with me and after a short nap in the stroller, she was ready to leave the fitness room). So I didn't expect to hit my goal of 160 this morning. What did I see on the scale today?


I EXCEEDED my weekly goal. Can you believe it? First milestone reached, no - SURPASSED!

Another thing I realized this week was changing my idea of 'treating' myself. I can have daily treats, if I just change my perspective on what that actually is. Since I've been eating my greek yogurt every night for dessert, I don't miss the cookies, cake and candy as much as I did when I first started. Last night we went to a local ice cream shop that is self-serve, and you can add your own toppings. Normally, I would have gotten a large serving of vanilla and loaded up on the toppings. Instead I had a small serving of strawberry lemonade sorbet and it was sooooooooo good! And I think it was about 120 calories, which is AWESOME.

Now does this mean I have given up cookies, cake and candy for good? Heck no! But I now think of those as 'indulgences', meaning I'll eat them sparingly, for special occassions, holidays or birthday parties. I think it's totally doable, now that I've found good replacements for my daily/weekly 'treats'!

So here's the stats this week:

Starting Weight:

Weight loss this week:
3 lbs

Weight loss to date: 8.5 lbs

Weight left to lose: 4 lbs

First Goal: 7.5 pounds (REACHED 4/4/2011)

  • Reward: I've decided I need to organize my craft supplies before adding to them. :) I'm waiting on a coupon for Michael's, then I'm off to get my prize!

Second Goal: 12.5 pounds

  • Reward: A new bathing suit.

Final Goal: to fit in size 10 pants!

  • Reward: A new outfit for my new bod ;)

Success: Hitting my first goal!

Set-Backs: Not enough physical activity!

Exercise: Keeping my exercise goal the same, hopefully I'll finally achieve it! I'm aiming for 3 walking sessions, 3 cardio workouts and 2 weightlifting or ab routines.


Y3W | The Frugal Life

My mom raised me to spend less than I earn, to never pay full-price for ANYTHING, and to save up for a rainy day. And now that our family relies on one-income, those lessons are more important than ever.

Anyone that has children will tell you that one of the most annoying/expensive aspects of child-rearing is the constant need to rotate their clothes as they outgrow them and/or the seasons change. Last year, Eva went from newborn-6 month clothing in the span of 3 months. That was fun! <----insert large dose of sarcasm.

So to save money on clothes I shop at consignment stores and sales. This month I took some of Eva's old baby equipment to the local kids' consignment shop. I got store credit and used it towards some clothes and toys for the little one:

In this photo are Eva's new toys. Her clothes were actually FREE through our local SAMS (Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors) place. They take donations and enlisted military (below a certain rank) and their families can get up to 30 free items a month. We are very fortunate to be able to take advantage of a great program like this.

And I'm so proud to share the following with you. There's a national consignment sale company called Just Between Friends. (check out their website to see if there's a sale in your area) We didn't have any in Ohio - when I was there I shopped at The Big Red Wagon sales. But when we moved to Texas, I was so excited to see that there was a JBF here. (There's a TON in Texas - this state is huge!)

So this week I ventured out to the sale and here's what I came back with:

You're wondering what all is pictured? That's 6 pajamas, 10 shorts, 2 capris, 2 pants, 1 dress, 2 shirts, 3 matching outfits and a package of swim diapers. And how much did I spend????


Go ahead, rub your eyes and re-read that amount. $52.50 for a boatload of stuff. I was almost giddy this morning while taking the tags off in preparation to wash everything. Trust me, I could have done MUCH more damage as there was a ton of clothes there in her size. (and also toys, baby equipment and even furniture!) But I walked in with a pre-set budget of $50, so I'm glad I only went over by $2.50.

Oh, and did you notice the little girl in the corner playing with the hangers? Once she saw I was taking pictures, my little ham produced her award-winning smile:

Oh, ok Eva, if you insist, Mommy will take a picture of you:

Don't mind her crazy-hair. She always pulls on it in her sleep. ;)

How do you try to save money in this time of recession?