Thursday, October 17, 2013

"I AM NOT A MILLENNIAL": Why I Hate Generational Labels

Ok. So here's something that's been on my mind for AWHILE. In the world of generational labels, I am, according to most sources, considered a "Millennial." My husband, born just the year before me, is in No-Man's Land, or according to some, Generation X.  While I do not think either of us are old enough to belong in "Generation X", I don't identify with being a Millennial. I was almost an adult at the turn of the millennium. I am not one of these super tech-savvy, live with my parents until 35, selfish typical millennial types. And why should I be grouped with people who are just teenagers now? Some sources cite millennials as being born up until the early 2000s. In the early 2000s, I was in college. What???? Do I have anything in common with people born in 2002? Absolutely not. We grew up in different worlds. Heck, I could be a parent to someone born in 2002!!!!

To understand this, and to truly drive home the point that there are "generation label gaps", let's take a look at how someone like me, who was born in the very early 80s, grew up, versus how someone who was born in, say, 1997, grew up.

I grew up watching things like PeeWee's Playhouse, the Smurfs, Garfield and Friends, ALF, The Cosby Show, Full House, and Saved By The Bell. Our concept of Nickelodeon dates from shows like Pinwheel and Today's Special to Clarissa Explains it All and Hey Dude (I think the latest I ever watched Kid's Nick, outside of seeing it because of my sister, was 1994. Nick at Nite when it was still good...well, different story!) Someone born in 1997...well....I can't even tell you what kind of Saturday morning programming or Nickelodeon they watched. I'd have to look it up. I was too busy, you know, watching the Seinfeld and Friends finales (1998 and 2004, respectively), and becoming an adult and whatnot. Oh yes, and I watched almost all of Seinfeld, from 92 on, and all of Friends, in their original runs.

We never, ever owned a video game console or single video game growing up. While I know that this is unusual for someone born five years before me, let alone the same time as me, it is the truth. My parents didn't allow it. And not many people that I personally knew in the late 80s had them, either. Kids born in 1997...well, it is more than likely they had one or all of the consoles available, unless they had strict parents.

When we were bored, we played outside. We read books (Babysitter's Club, Judy Blume, and Beverly Cleary were my favorites. I doubt many kiddos born in 1997 read the BSC.) We used our imaginations. One of the biggest characteristics that I have heard in talking about millennial kids is that their imagination and We played with Quints, My Little Ponies (the original ones), Sensation Barbie, dolls that didn't do anything fancy, etc. We rode bikes. We roller skated. We did fashion shows set to the music of 1992-era Madonna. When I see some of these lists for "You Know You're a 90s kid if...", I don't recognize half the toys. This is because I was born too late for a lot of 90s toys. I am a late 80s, early 90s kid. I am a mid-to late 90s teenager. I am a millennial adult. I am not the same as someone born in the mid to late 90s, and definitely not the 2000s!

I had my first cell-phone in 2000, senior year, and it was a giant brick that was kept in the car only. I had my second cellphone in 2003 and it was a HUGE deal that it sent and received texts. Yes, I remember life before texts. Someone born in 1997 likely had a smartphone as their first phone. Someone born in 1997 likely does not remember a world before text messaging.

On that note, we had one phone line. If I wanted to talk to friends, I called them. If I stayed on the phone for too long, I got yelled at for tying up the line. If I wanted to tell my friends something while I was in class in high school, I had to write a note. On paper. There were no texts. Kids born in 1997 are still in high school. You tell me if they can imagine a world like that.

I remember when my family got the internet. It was 1995, and we had an AOL account. It was dial-up. You had to wait what felt like hours to log on. There were barely any websites. You could only stay on for a certain amount of time before getting yelled at for tying up the aforementioned one phone line. I remember life before all of that. Someone born in 1997 would not only not remember life before the internet, but might not even remember dial-up internet. Forget about someone born in 2002, supposedly part of my generation!

Yes, I use Facebook. Yes, I occasionally blog. Yes, I use email. Yes, I internet shop. But compared to the kids of 97-on, or even early 90s on, I don't use social media half as much. I have no desire to ever get a Twitter. I don't understand it. I don't Instagram. I hate most of the YouTube craze videos (I love YouTube for watching shows and commercials of my generation, though!) I remember when there WAS NO YOUTUBE. Someone born in 97 was 8 when YouTube came to be. I doubt they much remember it not being a thing. I don't even pretend to know what Reddit is. And I most definitely disapprove of how technology-based society is. I use it a lot, but if I could go back to a simpler time when people weren't on their phones in social situations, when people looked at each other, when people weren't so rude, I totally would. And I remember such a time!!!!!!! Someone born in the early 90s, let alone the late 90s, probably doesn't remember much about a world like that. GET OFF MY LAWN, GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE!!!!!!!

Oh, and those "old people in college"? Yeah, I totally am one, now. The kids who are 18-19 all group together and don't give me the time of day, nor do I to them. The ladies who are about 40 talk to me and I talk to them. I am closer in age to them than to someone who is 18. Yet, someone who is 18 is supposedly part of my generation??? How is this possible? I also notice a huge difference in work ethic between people in class who are 18 and the older set. I fear for the future. GET OFF MY LAWN AGAIN!!!

In summation, there is a lot more that I could say on this subject, but I think I've made my point. I am not a millennial. People who were born in the early 80s should not be labeled as such. I'd rather be in the no-man's land that my husband often falls into. I think that anyone born from about 1979-85 doesn't really fall into Gen X, or Gen Y (Millennial). We need a new label. By the same token, people born from 87-93 should probably have their own generation, too, and so on. These generation labels are too "one size fits all," and I am tired of falling in between the "You Know You're an 80s kid" and "You Know You're a 90s kid" posts on the internet. End rant.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jumper Dresses...a shameful confession

Over the last several days, I have seen jumper dresses popping up here and there on fashion blogs, and I must admit, my heart started racing a bit. It is kind of embarrassing how much I used to wear this style of dress when I was about 12-13. I probably should not be happy that they are seemingly creeping back into style, but I am. What can you do? Old habits die hard...and this one will not die, even if I was at my most awkward while wearing this style. Haven't bought one yet, but have been browsing around for some inspiration. I need to dig into my garment bag which holds all of my handmade items, because my grandma made me one back in about 1995 that I might still have....Anyway, on with the inspiration! Note: some of these are shown by themselves, but for fall, you would layer them over a blouse and maybe add some tights and booties :-)


This cute little item from Derek Lam Nation is so perfect and so affordable (and so only available in my size) that it might just be fate...

 
This Zobha number is an edgy and modern take on the slightly dumpier version that I wore as an awkward adolescent. I like it...
 
 
I actually really like this one from So Brazil because of the pattern, the flare at the hips, and the fact that it's shown worn over a shirt, which is the look for fall. Throw it on over tights, too!
 
This one, from The Atomic Boutique, is everything to me. It is classic and reminds me of why I loved this look in the first place...it is very mod and 60s.
 
So, there you have it! I hope to jump back on this budding trend very soon. You saw it here early :-) Would you wear a jumper dress, or are they too preppy/little girl/reminiscent of your awkward days?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Quick, Delicious Fettucine Alfredo

Man, did I have a day today. My instructor for two of my classes will no longer be teaching us due to health issues, and I'm bummed. He was a nice guy and a good teacher, and I was just getting used to his way of doing things and settling into a routine. Getting two new teachers three weeks in is nothing short of stressful. Days like this make me crave comfort foods. Luckily, I had just the thing in mind, This fettucine alfredo recipe is from 100 Days of Real Food, and it is FANTASTIC. It also couldn't be easier, and is not too expensive to prepare. Heavy cream and butter are not the best thing for you, but in moderation they're totally ok.

Ingredients
1 lb whole wheat (you could also use regular) fettucine
2 TBS butter
2/3 cup Parmesan (I used Boar's Head, it is quality stuff)
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Boil water for pasta. Cook pasta as directed. As pasta is cooking, melt butter and 2/3 of the heavy cream in a saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon, and when it thickens a bit (after a few minutes) remove it from heat and set aside. When pasta is done, drain it and then add the heavy cream and butter mixture to it. Add the remaining 1/3 cups of heavy cream and all of the cheese, and heat on medium high for a moment or two. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with more Parmesan, if desired. Serves 4-6, depending on portion size :-) I also blanched some frozen green beans in boiling water for a few minutes, then sautĂ©ed them in a tiny bit of butter and seasoned them with salt and garlic powder. They served as our veggie side.

Now, not counting the veggies, here is my estimate as to how much this delicious recipe cost per serving. Keep in mind that I calculate the amount used from each item and not necessarily the total cost (for example, the pint of heavy cream I bought was 3 dollars altogether, but I only used half of it for this recipe, but the pasta, sold in pound boxes, was all used so I counted its full price.)

Pasta- $1.00
Butter- 16 cents
Parmesan- $2.50
Heavy Cream (Organic Farms)- $1.50
Salt and pepper to taste- let's call it 25 cents, even though it probably isn't that much.

Total- $5.41 for the entire recipe, we will get two dinners out of it, so call it four servings, so $1.35 per serving! When you think about how a serving of fettucine alfredo at a restaurant would likely be $9.99 or more, that's pretty awesome! Not to mention the fact that you are controlling the quality of the ingredients and the amount of sodium, and if you use whole wheat pasta you're getting healthy grains...

Sorry for the lack of pictures, we were in a rush this evening to get to an event and I didn't think to take any. Next time...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Healthy Lunch for Less!

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say that you can't eat healthily on a tight budget. This is the excuse that many people offer when justifying only shopping at Wal-Mart or buying processed junk "foods" for their family, and it really gets me going. If you know what you're doing, you can eat quite healthily on a normal or smaller budget and never have to step inside Wal-Mart. Keep in mind, I am speaking to my experience as a married gal with no kids...but I think even factoring kids into the equation that I would still be able to do this, because I always make food for an army (I'm Italian!) Anyway, bear in mind that this is my living situation, and I personally prefer to avoid Wal-Mart about 95% of the time. I would much rather our money go to smaller chains or even more preferably to local businesses when I can (our town doesn't have very many of those, unfortunately.)

Anyway, today I happened to stop at one of the few local businesses that we do have, that is very near us. It is a small produce store called Best Harvest and I love it. They have a lot of stuff that is not only USA-grown, but also some local stuff. This week I got some local organic golden beets. Best part of all...it is not at all an expensive store! Places like these are fantastic to shop at to feed your family healthily! So, I walked in to get some potatoes and Boar's Head cheese to make BBQ Pulled Chicken Baked Potatoes for tonight, and they had 5-lb bags of potatoes for 1.79. I decided that since my hubby loves taking soup for lunch and usually buys cans of Progresso Corn and Potato Chowder, that I would make him some from scratch. Got two ears of corn for 20 cents a piece and got to work. It is simmering in the Crock Pot as we speak. I will give you the recipe-ish that I used (I did this on the fly), and then compare how it stacks up against pre-made, processed soup.



Three large potatoes

Two ears corn

1 32-oz box lower sodium chicken broth (you could really get healthy and do organic but I just bought what the produce store had, which was Swanson's

3-4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced.

1/2 cup half and half

Salt, Pepper, Dried Parsley, and any other spices you might like, to taste. I added Onion powder and paprika, but you can pretty much put whatever you think would taste good.

I roasted the corn in the oven in its husk at 425 degrees for about 20 min. I cut the potatoes into small chunks. I shucked the corn and used a knife to scrape it off the cob. I minced the garlic. I put all of these things plus the broth and my seasonings and put in on high in the crockpot for 4-6 hours. It's still going now, but about 20 minutes before it is done, I plan to add the half and half to make it creamier and then let that heat through. Then, I will puree half of the soup with an immersion blender to thicken it. I will likely let it cool and refrigerate or freeze it, and voila, my hubby will have a work-week's worth of soup to eat.

Now, let's see how this compares to store bought soup. The soup my hubby buys is, if we are lucky, 2 for 4 dollars or 2 dollars each. Say he buys 5 cans for the week...that's ten bucks if it is on sale.

Total Cost Per Serving: 2 dollars
Total Cost Per Week: 10 dollars


 The soup he buys is not BAD for you persay, but I do like making my own. The sodium can be controlled, along with the fact that there are no bad chemicals or preservatives.

NOTE: The soup he buys has chicken, the one I made was vegetarian since I didn't have extra chicken on hand. You could add a chicken breast to the recipe, I would add about 1.50 to the total cost if you do.

Let's see how much the homemade stuff cost. The prices are costed to represent how much of the ingredient I used in this recipe.

Potatoes---approx. 35 cents
Corn- 40 cents
Chicken Broth- 2.49
Garlic- 10 cents
Half and Half- 63 cents
Spices- these were all on hand, but let's call it 25 cents over time...and that might be over-estimating. Salt and pepper and onion powder are dirt cheap, dried parsley isn't much either, and the paprika was a gift...

Grand total: 4.22

Total Cost Per Week: $4.22
Total Cost Per Serving: 84 cents!!!!!
Total Hands-on time expended: 20 minutes!!!

So, you can see that feeding your family from scratch meals does not have to be expensive. I bought almost everything for this meal at a local produce store. The only exception was the half and half, which I got a couple weeks back at a Kroger store.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Currently Obsessed With...

I got this survey from the fashion blog Because of Jackie and I was tempted to just go ahead and fill it out. I haven't done a survey in awhile and thought it'd be a fun way to get the writing juices flowing. So, here goes:

Reading: Well, I just went back to a full-time class schedule this past week, so much of my reading involves textbooks...bleh. That being said, I will be working on a big pile of Sophie Kinsella books (some later Shopaholic novels and others) that my aunt lent me. Her books are easy and fun to read and don't require much heavy thinking. Perfect for a college student...and the Shopaholic ones make me laugh, because I love buying clothes, but she's excessive and makes me feel better about my vice.

Watching: Like almost everyone else in the country (OK, that's an exaggeration, but still) I'm currently engrossed in and obsessed with Breaking Bad. If you haven't seen it, go now! Easily one of the best dramas ever written. That's almost all that we've been watching lately...we also watched Dexter, and the finale was last night. That show was REALLY good from Seasons 1-4 and kind of went downhill steadily after that, though.
 
Eating : Well, at this exact moment, I'm drinking coffee, but not enough yet...I keep hitting all the wrong keys, making typing this a pain in the bottom. I'm currently doing Weight Watchers, so I am good 6 days out of the week and allow myself a cheat meal or dessert on the 7th. I've lost about 9 pounds since going back on it in August...would have been more, but I slacked for three weeks when relatives were here and we were inundated with birthdays. We have been getting all of our dinner recipes from 100 Days of Real Food or Cooking Light. Last night my hubby made a Ravioli Lasagne (Cooking Light) and it was fantastic; tonight I will make BBQ Chicken, corn with herb butter, green beans, and whole wheat biscuits (100 Days...for the biscuit recipe.)
 
Planning: Well, hubby and I are planning to participate in the all- Breaking Bad trivia challenge on Wednesday. First place takes a cash pot. Here's hoping...but I have a feeling we will face tough competition, so I am not counting on it.
 
Dreaming: Short term, for fall weather. We had a short spell and it was amazing. I want it here for good...but we tend to go straight from 80 degree weather to winter here, overnight, so we will see. Long term, for the day I finish school and can have a job again. I miss working, but I am over and under qualified for anything but teaching, so gotta get another piece of paper...
 
Wearing: I am so obsessed with comfy right now. Bought a pair of Gap 1969 jeans when I was thrifting in July, and they were not very loose then...but now, they are, and I just want to live in them all the time. I roll them up like boyfriend jeans because at this point, they fit like them. And I have bought several (mostly thrifted or ebayed but a few new) Victoria's Secret tops/sweaters...the Pink raglan tees are calling my name, but it is still too hot to justify long sleeves, even those.
 
Doing : I have mostly covered this, but specifically, today I have to go on a couple of errands and then dive into a mountain of work for my accounting class. If I have time and energy left, I'd like to do some floor cleaning. Joy!
 
Enjoying : The cool air in here...is it going to be nice today????
 
Hating : A strong word, for sure...I guess I am hating the phrase "Life Hacks"???
 
Loving : My husband. I love spending time with him, even if we are sitting side-by-side doing separate things. I'm also loving my coffee...and loving that I'm not exhausted today when I need to be energetic (last week I had a couple of unfortunate days that made me as lazy as a 90 year-old, thanks, PMS!) Finally, on a material note, I am loving my Dexter Dexflat ballet slippers from Payless...literally the most comfortable flats I have EVER worn. I can walk for miles in them. Finally!!!!!
 
Smelling : Well, I scoured and disinfected the sink earlier...I'm probably still breathing Lysol fumes...not good.
 
Wishing : I was already done with today's work ;-)
 
Missing : No one, in particular, at the moment.
 
Learning : So many new things that I can't keep track. I've felt like a bit of an idiot lately.
 
Enjoying I feel like we've covered this in other sections. I will stop boring all 0 people who read this...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Inspiration from my Business class today...

I had my first business class today and it was a hoot. The teacher was hilarious and kept things moving. For those of you who don't know, I went back to school last semester. I initially thought I might want to make cooking or baking a full-time career, but I've rethought that now. Mostly because the hours usually suck with those jobs, and we want to have a family within the next few years...we're not super-young and can't wait too long! So, I really got to examining what it is that I like to do so that I could make up my mind for once and for all. I really don't want to waste any more time or to fall back into a physically demanding job with bad hours...I just left one of those! I want to find a job in an office setting because I've never had the chance to experience that before. After a lot of thought, I decided that I would like to work in a business setting, preferably with numbers. Something along the lines of accounting or payroll, because I've always been good with numbers...and for other reasons that I will get into in a bit. I really wanted to share the reflection that I just wrote for my homework, because I've had so many people ask why I decided to leave teaching, and I also feel like some people just don't understand why I would do such a thing. This should explain my honest thoughts...

I wanted to write about a slide that was shown in the powerpoint presentation today. It said something along the lines of, "If an organization is not effective, then people are not happy," (meaning its employees, obviously) followed by, "If people are unhappy in their jobs, their physical health can suffer." These two statements, as obvious as they may sound, really resonated with me. They reflect the primary reasons why I am back in school! I originally went to UNM and ended up getting my Masters degree in Elementary Education. I taught kindergarten and 1st grade for six years, and by that sixth year, I had had it! I could go on for days about how broken the school system is in America and how every year, this problem was ineffectively treated. We (teachers) found ourselves having to implement more and more strategies, interventions, tests, and what seemed to be new curriculum every year there at the end...all in the name of raising test scores. And, go figure, nothing was making these arbitrary test scores go up; in fact, they were going down because every year the standards were raised (i.e. a higher percentage of students had to be labeled as "proficient" to avoid becoming a school 'in need of corrective action')

Any teacher could tell you that this was due to a number of factors, not least of all the fact that the entire system was ineffective! Perhaps if we'd kept consistent with any one of hundreds of new strategies we'd tried (if something didn't work, it was almost immediately tossed away without giving it a second chance) one would have worked. More importantly, perhaps if value wasn't placed on test scores alone, we would have had more time in the classroom. People would be SHOCKED to hear how much time was wasted every year administering standardized tests. I would say a conservative estimate would be 9 weeks out of the school year (probably more for me, because I taught K and all of the tests were long and they were one-on-one because the students couldn't read and write yet.) Let that sink in. At least 9 weeks out of a school year...that's a quarter!!!!! Take away all of that time and stress on the teachers and kids and maybe, just maybe, the students would have shown gains, because, gasp, we would have had 9 MORE WEEKS to teach.

Compound that stress with the fact that every year, there were more and more severe discipline problems, and you've got a formula for disaster. Or, at the very least, a very stressed out teacher, and very stressed out students who have to deal with the kid who is throwing books or chairs, or choking other students, all while trying to learn and be tested more than they're actually learning. All of this added up to an ineffective environment and a very unhappy employee. This unhappiness in my job took a toll on my health, both physical and mental. I caught every sickness that came down the pike, even six years into teaching. More importantly, perhaps, I remember crying almost every day in July 2012 because I didn't want to go back in August. I started desperately looking for jobs and realized that I was either insanely overqualified (for places like Page One Books) or unqualified (for aforementioned office jobs, which I desperately wanted but which required associate's in business or accounting or bookkeeping.) I accepted this fate and went back, not wanting to leave my fiancé stranded with all of the bills while we were paying for a wedding.

However, once we were about to get married and all of our wedding and honeymoon was paid for, my husband told me that if the job really was making me that unhappy and sick (and he knew it was, he had to put up with my tears!) that I should try and do something else. He saved my sanity by being so supportive, and he helped me improve my overall health, and for that I can never thank him enough. I have a true treasure in him. Anyway, with his blessing, I left to go back to school and now, here I am, trying my hand with accounting and business. I am also taking a nutrition class, but although that interests me, it would take years for me to get another bachelors, which you need in order to be a dietitian, and as I said, we want to start that family and it'd be nice to have a second income for that.

So, why accounting/bookkeeping? First of all, these were the types of jobs I was wanting to get into when I was looking last year, but was unqualified for. I thought about when I was the happiest in my job. The answer was easy: it was when I was a shift supervisor at Starbucks. The hours sucked and the pay was nothing to write home about, and dealing with customers constantly for hours got tedious after a year or so, but I LOVED my coworkers and I LOVED the managerial elements of that job. I was happiest when I was in charge of ordering, calculating the employees' weekly tips, and doing the daily deposit. Numbers have always made sense to me. When I was 5, no lie, my parents could tell me a year, like 1865, and ask me how many years ago it was, and I could calculate it in my head. Having taught five year-olds, this is no small feat. Even still, doing that and other calculations in my head is fairly easy to me, and I can connect years to events like no one else I know, which is kind of a random talent, but still rooted in number smarts, I guess. So, this all makes sense to me, and hopefully it's the right path.

If you've stuck with me through this long blog, I appreciate it. Now you know why I did what I did...and knowing is half the battle!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Real Food: Granola

I recently stalled on my weight loss journey. I had lost about 8 pounds since I started back up in July, but then hit a bit of a plateau. I think my problem was a combination of factors. I do Weight Watchers, which is incredibly effective (and promotes healthy, slow, and steady weight loss) when it is used correctly. With an influx of birthdays and a week-long family visit, I was, however, being a bit lax with my splurges and assuming my 49 extra weekly points were covering those splurges. As a result, my weight maintained for about a week, climbed a fraction the next, another fraction the next, and another fraction the next still. Before I knew it, I was up three pounds and had only lost 5 since starting. Talk about counter-productive. So, last week, I talked with my leader, and she suggested (besides the obvious strategy of tracking everything) eating more points at breakfast, lunch, and midday, and fewer in the evening. And wouldn't you know: after a week of diligently tracking and following her advice, I lost that weight I had gained, and now I'm back to being down 8 pounds! Now, I just have to keep the momentum going. I found that eating healthful and hearty breakfasts and lunches did help me, if only because it kept me from getting too peckish around 3:30-5, which is a dangerous time of the day for me, usually. For some reason, it also kept me from craving sweets at night. The only time I had sweets was in the middle of the week when we went to get frozen yogurt, which compared to the splurges of weeks past, is just a blip on the radar.

This all got me thinking about the 100 Days of Real Food blog. I have been following this blog for awhile, and I thought that maybe for my next round of grocery shopping, I would pull my recipes solely from that blog. I am going to have to explain how we shop in another post because it works really well for us.

 I found their meal plans (if you "like" them on Facebook, you can gain accessibility to their 5 or so meal plans) and decided that the Summer and Late Spring plans were the best ones to start with, for variety and for our personal tastes. Everyone should check out their blog. I have to admit, I don't see us going 100% "real" (in terms of all organic) yet for financial reasons, but I did the best I could when shopping for the ingredients for this plan, bought organic when it wasn't too expensive, and think it might have a real impact on my weight loss. It also didn't seem to break the bank any more than a normal shopping trip...maybe a tiny bit more because I had to buy some staples like whole wheat flour, but not much. I have calculated the "points plus" on these recipes and all of them are reasonable. And, none of them have added refined sugar, white flour, or any bad, processed ingredients...that's the whole point of the blog. Seriously. Go read it if you're at all interested in this type of eating.

That being said, I want to share my experiences with cooking some of these recipes. I'm busy in the kitchen today, making four different recipes to prepare for my busy week.

First up: the 100 Days of Real Food Granola. Yum!!!! Granola can be delicious and healthy, but so many pre-made versions have lots of empty calories from added sugar. This granola is made with nothing more than  honey to sweeten it. I used a local honey, but Trader Joe's sells a honey that is recommended by these ladies. I bought it for when I run out of mine (I got mine at a crafts fair and decided TJ's would suffice for the rest of the recipes).  This granola takes only a tiny amount of hands-on time. You can find the recipe here. I made some small changes in that I didn't buy tons of cashews or pecans, so I lowered the proportions of those and upped the amount of sunflower seeds. You could probably add anything to this and it'd turn out well...personal preferences!

You take the oats, nuts, and spices from the recipe and mix them up first.


Then, you melt the butter and honey together on the stove, and when it is melted, add the vanilla and salt. *Don't worry, this recipe makes 3 pounds, so the 6 tbs of butter are spread out over many, many portions.*


Then, you mix together the luscious meltiness with the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula.


Finally, you spread the mixture on parchment paper-lined sheet pans and bake at 250 degrees for 75 minutes.


You let the granola cool and then break it apart (if needed) to store in airtight containers.There's an option for bars on this recipe using steel-cut oats. I calculated that a 1-oz serving of this granola, using the ingredients that I did (1/2 cups each of cashews and pecans, 1 cup sunflower seeds, no pumpkin seeds) is only 3 points plus. That's the perfect amount for a snack, or for topping greek yogurt, though if you're just eating this alone, I'd probably recommend almost doubling that for 6 ppts.

 I'm off to enjoy some now, before I get back into the kitchen to finish my work!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bloglovin!

I'm still trying to figure out the world of blogging...so this is just a post that may or may not enable my blog to be found and followed on Bloglovin'. We shall see if this works...back later with more outfits!

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/10144487/?claim=drrgyzgf4cz">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mixed Florals and Casual Coral

Mixed Florals (A mixed bag of emotions) and thrifting
 
Today, I wanted a comfortable outfit for shopping, plus I was feeling really blah, so comfort was key. I reached for an old trusty floral skirt that I've had for several years. My mom actually gave it to me, six years ago or so, so it is probably ten years old when you add it all up. It does not at all look dated, it is a classic, and I love that it is in black and ivory. I have paired it with every color shirt under the sun. However, I wanted to be a little more creative for blogging purposes, so I paired it with a floral tank. Mixing florals and other prints is a daring endeavor that I have seen be done on other blogs, so I thought, "Why not?" I am still not sure how I felt about the outcome. I didn't hate it but didn't love it either. It was, however, a nice comfy outfit for hitting up the thrift shop.
 



 

                                               Top: Arizona jeans, 2011, I like this mint green option
                                             Skirt: Old (I'm seeing lots of comparable items on ebay, like this
                                            Necklace: F21, Winter 2012
                                         Shoes: Old Navy, this option and more on DSW.com

So, off we went to our favorite thrift store. As I said, I have only recently gotten into thrifting. Before that, I was always kind of skeeved about buying used clothes, but I have gotten over it. I wash everything in warm to hot water with detergent and oxyclean when I get home, and it makes me feel better. Plus, this thrift store is clean and organized. Finally, I still refuse to buy used shoes, and obviously undergarments are also out of the question. That being said, I went in with a budget of 40 dollars and found about 80 dollars worth of stuff I could have bought. After whittling down my selections, I ended up with this pile, totaling 45 dollars. The extra five was for a Halloween dress that didn't count towards the overall budget, hee hee.

$$
So much good stuff in there! See the blue and white striped blouse? It was on my "must-haves" list, and I found it at the thrift store! That definitely doesn't always happen. This pile of clothes contains Target items (the blue blouse), Gap jeans, and more. That green number is a thick t-shirt dress that looks like it was expensive, although I did not recognize the brand straight off. I will have to look it up. And yes, that is a neon shirt right on top, also an expensive brand. There's a couple of Loft tops in there too! Anyway, these pieces will all be used soon, I am sure.

Day 4: Casual Coral
 
So, the next day, I decided to go ahead and wear one of my finds. This blouse is made of a gorgeous linen blend that is so comfortable! And the color...one of the prettiest corals I have found. It was all of five dollars. What a deal. I paired it with my comfy boyfriend shorts that I recently got from Old Navy, and a pair of floral sneaks that I picked up at Target last year. I wore the same sparkly necklace as the day before (I don't have nearly enough necklaces, so you will see repeats a lot.)
 
 




 

 
Man, I am in love with that shirt. And those shorts. And sneakers. Ha, this might be my favorite outfit of the project thus far! If I were to estimate, I would say this outfit cost me 34 dollars total!
 
Blouse: Thrifted, this is not far off!
Shorts: Old Navy Boyfriend, found here (I believe mine are Deep Sea Blue)
Shoes: Target, summer 2012;  here are some Keds that look similar
Necklace: F21, Winter 2012
 


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Neons, Neutrals, Lace, and Tiers.

I got this skirt from my sister, who got it from someone else and deemed it too big for her. The waist is a little too big for me as well, but it was wearable. I loved it and am sad that it will not fit me for long if I continue to lose weight. Paired it with a lace-backed tank from American Eagle Outfitters. I love this look and bought some lace-backed bras just for it off of Ebay. Cheap bras, but they did the trick for the day. If you're small-chested, which I am not, Target sells some cute lace bralettes for tops like these. I have to wear a strapless underneath them or else I look sloppy.

 
Tank: American Eagle found here
Skirt: Old Navy, old
Flip Flops: Montego Bay, old
Necklace: Old
 
 
Day 2: Neutrals and Neon
 
I am digging the resurgence of neon. I walk into any store and I feel like I have been transported back to my childhood. I am not usually one to shop at Wal-Mart, for so many reasons, but every now and again I have to go there for something I cannot find elsewhere. Trust me, it pains me. And even worse, the last time I was in there, I saw the best neon yellow shorts. I could not resist. I just couldn't. I've worn them several times this summer because they are so comfy, but I wasn't big on the almost Bermuda length, so yesterday I rolled them up a bit. I paired them with a neutral charcoal gray shirt and some white wedges, and my necklace had the same pop of neon. My camera washed out the shorts but they are very vibrant in  person and I got oodles of compliments.
 
I REALLY wish the color came through better here, but I will link to the shorts or similar ones to give you all (if anyone) a better idea of what they look like.
 
T-shirt- Old Navy Vintage V-neck (my favorite tees!) here
Shorts: No Boundaries, not available online, similar here
Shoes: Old
Necklace: Burlington Coat Factory
 
 

What I'm About...and a one year challenge to myself.

Hello out there, if anyone starts to read this blog at any point! I'm a 30 year-old who has returned to school for a new career. I can't wait to finish and obtain said career, so that I can finally hopefully have the type of job where you can dress nicely. My previous career was as a teacher of very young kids, and that job would destroy nice clothes. I'm recently married and have no kids yet. I have always loved clothes. When I was four years old, my mother would ask me what I wanted to wear, and I would give her answers like, "I want to wear my fuchsia shirt with my turquoise pants" (yes, it was the 80s, but that actually sounds like it would be cute today!) I've been inspired to begin blogging again after a years-long hiatus because of all of the amazing fashion blogs that are out there. I don't even expect to come close to the caliber of those blogs, but I'd like to do this mostly for my own records. I want to look back in a few months, and then a year, and see what I was wearing and also perhaps be inspired to try those looks again. However, I am the type of person who rarely wears the same exact outfit twice, so probably not.

I am a bargain shopper through and through. If you're looking for a high-end fashion blog with lots of labels, this will not be it. My favorite stores are Target, Forever 21, Old Navy, Kohl's, and anywhere with a clearance rack and a steal. I've actually recently gotten into thrifting, so if there are ever any fancy labels, that's probably where they came from. I'm going today, armed with 40 bucks, so I will share my finds later.

I also lost some weight for my wedding and then promptly put it back on, so I will be sharing any successes, struggles, and perhaps an occasional recipe on here. I want to focus primarily on clothing, though. That being said, since it is hard for me to stick to projects, I am issuing to myself a one year challenge. By the time I reach a year, I want to be able to say I've lost 25 pounds. I feel like that is a realistic goal. Any outfits shown here will unfortunately not be shown on me...when I get dressed, my hubby is not around to take a photo, so it is hard to take one of myself. I may buy a full-length mirror at some point to help me with that, but until then, I'm just going to take ghetto pics, Polyvore style. ... So here goes, until July 29, 2014, goodness willing.