28 April 2013

What I Wore Sunday (Vol. 17) and Dorothy Day

Linking up once again
Some outdoor pictures today! Spring might have actually finally arrived! That tree I had been mindlessly staring out the window at all winter has bloomed!

Tank top: Merona from Target // White denim blazer: American Eagle // Pants: NY & Co., thrifted and amazing (my size and petite length!) // Shoes: Old Navy // Necklace: Body Central // Purse: Vera Bradley Outlet Sale

Baby's clothes: Probably all from Carter's (gifted). Shoes: Robeez (also a gift)

Oh, and that is what my hair actually looks like. Those curls ain't happenin' again, sorry. And full disclosure: these were taken yesterday. Today has taken on rainy and dreary qualities.

I have always like this little rose pin detail on this blazer.

As for mass, we actually got to hear the entire homily, and it was great (Cora gets another A for mass behavior!). Monsignor talked about Dorothy Day the whole time. I knew a little bit about her before--mostly just that she was a convert and co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement--but he made me want to know more and read her autobiography. I just read her entire Wikipedia entry this morning.

I can't find one of the quotes our Monsignor used that I liked the best, but he also used this one:
"I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions"  - Dorothy Day
This made me think of politicians. Don't know why . . .

Anyone planning to join me for National Screen-Free Week? (I'm only doing it for realz for one day. Hey, it's somethin'.)

27 April 2013

Going Screen-Free

Did you know this upcoming week is National Screen-Free Week? I'm guessing not? I wouldn't even have known about this if they hadn't mentioned it at our library story time. It goes from April 29-May 5 (Mon-Sun).

It used to be called No TV Week, but times, they have a-changed. Screen-Free Week is a time to "turn off screens and turn on life," according to its website.

I think this is a fantastic challenge! I have definitely noticed how I use 'screen entertainment' way too much and sometimes even ignore my own child while trying to watch a show or waste time on the internet. I know I need to be more engaged with her, and now that she is walking and the weather is getting nice, we need to get out of the house and explore. I have a friend who made it a rule to not have the TV on when her child is awake, and I always thought that was great but not something I could do. (Disclaimer: I have a degree in Advertising and used to work in cable television. I am also a firm believer of "everything in moderation.") But going screen-free for one week? Let's try it. (In a modified way--I'm not a "jump in head-first" kinda gal.)

My resolutions for Screen-Free Week are no screens when my child is awake (and she's down to one nap, for the most part, by the way). That means no TV, no DVD's, no Kindle, no computer, no Wii. I don't own a smartphone so that's not an issue. We have Pandora on our Roku box, so I will allow the use of that since it's an easy way to play music. I'm also picking one day to go completely screen-free for the whole duration (I picked Tuesday). I might pick an extra day to do this too, depending on how Tuesday goes.

If you want to join  up with Screen-Free Week, read all about it here. If you're at a loss for how to fill your time, print out this list of 101 Screen-Free Activities. And maybe you even want to sign a pledge to keep yourself accountable? You can do that here. Have fun turning off the screen and tuning into the world around you!

24 April 2013

Househunting, Take 1

My husband B had Sunday off for only the second time in the past few months. Instead of wasting the day away, he decided we should go to some open houses to see what kind of real estate is around here.

Hooray for our first house-hunting adventure!

B printed off a list of open houses that were going on that day from Trulia. I didn't know it at the time, but he only picked "new construction" houses. This was kind of annoying, for a few reasons. It meant in each house, they were not only trying to sell us that house, they were trying to sell us any house. Sigh. It also meant that some of these houses were on roads that didn't exist until just a few months ago, so the GPS (on B's phone) couldn't find them. We had his laptop with us (no internet though), but the map was zoomed out too far to tell.

At one point, we gave up and just ended up just following a sign to an open house and seeing a 1999-built house that needed a lot of work. In total, we saw 4 houses and then called up B's aunt and uncle for a visit when we realized we were nearby where they live.

The house I where I grew up in Lawrenceville, GA. A custom-built in 1985.
No one else has lived here but my family!
I have now started a list in a notebook for our house hunt! B isn't very picky except for the location, so I guess I get to be the choosy one.  I have some "deal-breaker" features (open kitchen is a must for me) and some "wish-list" features (a dedicated laundry room perhaps?). We're still not sure if we're going to do a custom build or just buy something already built, but we have enough time to get either accomplished. (Our lease ends in November.) Even though it's still early days, we did sort of nail down which parts of town were acceptable. I'll call that a win.

Our current apartment (with 1-car garage on the bottom) in Fort Wayne, IN
This whole thing is still sort of blowing my mind. I know a lot of my non-military friends don't see what the big deal is. They bought a house right around the time they got married, and that was a preliminary step before having children. Some people that I graduated high school with are even on their second home now. But this is all slightly frightening to me. Kids are mobile, houses aren't. (Well, at least the kind we plan to buy.) The whole idea of buying a house just hammers home that we aren't just living here for 2 or 3 years. (I kinda sorta loved being a nomad.) The truth is that we have no idea how long we would live in this house. And even though I was raised in the same house from when I was a baby through my high school graduation, thinking 17 years into the future for my own daughter is just plain scary.

All that said, B is quickly approaching is 30th birthday, and I think that's a pretty good age to 'settle down,' plant your feet in the ground somewhere, and buy a home. I'm also excited at the prospect of a mortgage payment (plus insurances and taxes) that could be less than our current rent!

22 April 2013

Menu Planning Monday (Vol. 3)

I'm back!  I've been doing a terrible job of planning lately, but at least we keep our place well-stocked. Again, I'm doing what we ate last week, but you can pretend it's what's on the menu for us this week if you want. This week has not been planned (other than for tonight!), so I'm definitely going to be blog-hopping to get some inspiration. Big grocery trip is planned for tomorrow!

She's helping me write my grocery list! Start 'em young, right?
Monday: Meatball subs. I use the frozen meatballs and just cooked them over the stove in some marinara sauce. We put that on mini sub rolls with some mozarella and topped it off with a few leaves of spinach and a little more sauce. I think I served a salad on the side, but I seriously cannot remember. (This was a gym night, which means I had 20 minutes to fix dinner.)

Tuesday: Chicken Stuffing Bake. This recipe is from the back of the stuffing box, and it is awesome. I'm always unsure of what kind of side to serve with a casserole that contains bread, veggies, and meat, so I chopped up an apple.
It looks better in the casserole dish, but I totally forgot a picture because I was hungry.
Wednesday: (Another gym night.) Leftover stuffing bake. Ran out of apples, so we made smoothies instead. Our daughter is going through some sort of vegetable aversion phase and would only touch the stuffing, so we coated them in the smoothie and she ate them up.

Thursday: Steak Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce, served over spaghetti noodles. (The recipe is either from Betty Crocker or Better Homes & Gardens. Why are both of these books red?!)

Friday: I told B a bit late that he was in charge that night, so he decided we should go to Buffalo Wild Wings. It's really close to where we live, so we walked. However, it was under 40° so I complained most of the way. (See some more of my whining about cold weather in this post.) We found out through that meal that our child loves spinach and artichoke dip. (For now, anyway.)

Saturday: Turkey Burgers and mixed vegetables and tater tots on the side. I used this recipe for the burgers (with a few tweaks), and they came out decent. I really love eating burgers with some hard cider to wash it down. My current fave is this:
Yum yum!
Sunday: Leftover turkey burgers, mashed potatoes from a bag (I have no shame, and the tater tots got finished off the day before), and more mixed veg. We only had one hamburger bun left, but B was a good sport and ate his on a sub roll. I had another Woodchuck.

Oh, and I can't forget dessert! I tried something new this week, and it was fabulous. I made this Primal Fudge, and I highly recommend it! I'm used to using lots of white sugar in my desserts, and I still can't believe that these babies don't contain any.

Linking up with The Young Retiree

20 April 2013

On Winter and Discontent

Note: I started writing this post about 3 months ago and never finished it. Today, in late April, we woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground and our car windshields, so I think it is about time to post it.

This is a post about the weather. Well, it's sort of a post about frugality and moving around, too.

I have officially survived my first Midwestern winter. Or so said the calendar. We got a snow dump less than a month ago and woke up to the white stuff today, so, uh, Happy Spring, y'all!
Here is a whiny mess of a list containing most of the reasons I hate cold weather:

1. First of all, I am a small person. And I am half-Middle Eastern. My body was straight-up not made for this mess. I also grew up in the Southeast, and everyone freaked out any time it dipped below 40. Including myself.

2. Which brings me to my next point: WEAR ALL THE CLOTHES. Experiencing winter in the Midwest is pretty much the least frugal thing I have ever done. Let's just take a little comparison in pictures because the camera does not lie!

(I was slightly pregnant/mostly bloated here.)
My wardrobe for 10 months of the year in (northern) Florida consisted of a $10 tank top or shirt, a $15 skirt, and $10 flip-flops. (And a 2¢ ponytail holder.) That is ALL. Total cost of outfit: $35.02

I put on a brave face for the camera. Perhaps my daughter will learn it some day.
My wardrobe for at least 5 months of the year (possibly more!) in northern Indiana consists of $10 long-sleeve shirt, $25 jeans, $10 fleece-lined leggings, $120 coat, $70 boots, $8 wool socks, $15 gloves, $15 hat (and possibly more). Total cost of outfit: $273.
[Yes, I know some of you can find coats at Goodwill, but sometimes you need something in your size that actually looks half-decent.]

3. Not only do I have to dress myself, I have to dress my baby. A baby who hates hats, gloves, socks, or really anything. And who could blame her? She spent the first 7 months of her life in just a onesie and a diaper.

Also, it is a pain in the butt if it's really cold, because it's not as safe to put her in the puffy coat in the car seat. That means on the coldest days, I have to put the coat on her to take her to the car, take the coat off once we are in the car, and then put it back on before we get out of the car.

Time is money, people!

4. Another frugality argument: warming the car up. We have a one-car garage, and B is the rightful user of it since he leaves for work at 6am. So my car sits outside, and it generally needs to be warmed up before going anywhere. What a waste of money. And time! It takes like 10 minutes before I can actually leave the house on a given day.

Then sometimes I have to scrape the ice/snow off the car!

5. No matter how many times I put lotion on my hands, the cold and dry air makes my skin crack. And it hurts. I ended up with a band-aid on my thumb for a good week or two. We keep a bottle of Jergens up on our bar, but I always forget about it. Or I remember it right before I do something that requires hand-washing directly after.

6. I've hardly been outside since October. I want to train for a 5k outdoors, but I refuse to run if the cold kicks into my lungs. (Note: I don't actually like running. Plus it would require special cold weather running gear, and that's more $$$.) My whole family needs some sun-provided Vitamin D (the good stuff!) pronto.

On a positive note, the Powers That Be uncovered the pool at our apartment complex this week. (Then it snowed, and I saw geese swimming in it this morning.) The local zoo opened today. (We'll go when the temp gets above 40°. Eh, maybe 50°.) Also, we are proud members of the local Y, which features both an indoor track and a heated indoor swimming pool. (And, among other things, an outdoor splash pad if it ever warms up enough to be used.)

If you're tired of me taking the "win" out of winter, you should go read something uplifting and somewhat cute about cold weather from somebody living in even-more-frigid North Dakota. Check out Kinsi's guest post on Messy Wife.

But if you want to continue shaking your angry fist in the air at Ma Nature, see this post from Wife of a Sailor about the winter that made her start hating winter.

"Winter is nature's way of saying, 'Up yours.'" - Robert Byrne

16 April 2013

Giveaway: Vera Bradley Stuff!

I had the wonderful privilege of attending the Vera Bradley Outlet Sale this year, which you can read all about in yesterday's post. Now I am going to spread the love to my readers.

There will be TWO winners! This contest is in no way sponsored by Vera Bradley, and I don't make any money from my blog, so this is just out of the generosity of my own [Deco Daisy zip-around wallet] pocketbook.

Winner 1 will receive the small cosmetic bag in Priscilla Pink from the Cosmetic Trio. This is a fabulous little zip pouch, and I am almost having a hard time parting with it. I could just picture my little niece tucking her money and other fun finds (rocks, Barbie shoes, stickers) into this one. Or, you know, an adult could actually use it for, uh, cosmetics.
The picture makes it look huge, but it's 5" by 4"
Winner 2 will receive a Tune In pouch in English Meadow, along with 4 blank note cards in various prints. The Tune In is a cute little pouch that has an ear bud organizer inside. I was able to fit my small mp3 player in  mine, but you could also use this little zippered pouch for any small treasures or a few tubes of chapstick.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

15 April 2013

Vera Bradley Outlet Sale Recap

We moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, about six months ago.  Since then, I have found out there are only about two things Fort Wayne is known for. One is General Motors. It's not quite the Motor City of Detroit, but trucks are being assembled here every day by the fine hands of the United Auto Workers. (My husband could tell you more about that, though.) The other notable business around these parts is the queen of quilted handbags, Vera Bradley. Their impressive headquarters can be seen from I-69 as you come upon the city from the south.

Since I was never quite interested in a GMC pickup truck, I decided to explore the avenue more fitted to me. Vera Bradley has a multi-day outlet sale once a year, and I decided to dive in head-first and see what it was all about.

First of all, I had no idea that Vera Bradley had so many die-hard fans. Until Saturday, I only owned one Vera Bradley item, which was a Christmas gift from my husband. However, women come to town from all over the country to attend this sale. It's a huge boost to the economy here, since their main goal is to spend money! The outlet sale is at our Memorial Coliseum, which is where the hockey team and big music stars play.
My one and only Vera Bradley item, pre-Saturday.
I got there around 10:45am on Saturday, which was probably a huge mistake. They can only let so many people on the floor at a time, so we waited for over an hour. I was probably the only one there by myself. And I didn't bring anything to entertain me. Seriously. No smartphone, no book, no e-reader, no mp3 player, not even a rosary, and I wasn't really in the mood to chat up the people around me or do a rosary on my fingers. I just had to make due. When's the last time anyone my age did that, really? I played this game in my head where I thought of a famous person then had to think of another famous person whose name started with the first letter of their last name (i.e., Barry Manilow to Martin Van Buren to Vanna White to Whitney Houston, etc.) We had also been given a shopping guide that had the names, locations, and prices of all the bags available at the sale. I spent a few minutes circling the ones I wanted to look at (hey, I did bring a pen!).

After the long wait where most of us ended up sitting on the painted concrete floor, we were let into the sale! We noticed as we filtered in there that we probably had the longest wait. There were only a few people trickling in at that point, and they had changed how they did the lines based on numbers. I actually found out that my husband's aunt went on Friday afternoon around 3pm and said she didn't have to wait at all. Lesson learned.

I spent over an hour on the floor looking for awesome deals and pretty patterns. It was a bit overwhelming, but I took my time with it. Checkout was an absolute breeze, so that was a major plus. I impressively did not buy anything over $20. I wasn't really looking for big-ticket items, since as I've said I'm not a die-hard. But I did end up calling both my mom and mother-in-law to see if they wanted anything. I ended up buying a lot of Cosmetic Trios! Everyone is getting cosmetic bags!

Alright, alright, I'm sure you want to see my haul:
While I drove there, I heard an ad on the radio for the sale where a woman said, "It's not how much you spend, it's how much you save, right, ladies?" Yeah, we're gonna go with that logic today.

The Carnaby print bag (lower left) is now my 'baby/kid' bag that we throw toys and food in to take to church or wherever. (I have been keeping a diaper bag in the car for the past few months in case of emergency, but I don't really need to drag it everywhere any more.) The Espresso purse (top left) is my 'class it up' bag when I need to look more polished and it is my hands-down favorite buy of the day ($20!). Just a gorgeous bag! The column on the right is four sets of Cosmetic Trios, with the Priscilla Pink one at the bottom being mine. And the scarf in Portobello Road got worn yesterday to church.

Overall, I had a good time at the Vera Bradley Outlet Sale 2013. I will do a few things differently if I go in the future, though. First, I will find a friend to go with (I'm still working on making friends in this town). If that doesn't pan out, I will bring a book. I also won't go in the 10am hour on Saturday. When I was leaving around 2pm, it had really cleared out. The employees were still opening boxes to restock, though. I'm sure there are some cool things that go quickly, but most of it probably went to the die-hards who bought tickets and came the 3 days before. (I saw some headbands on another blog that I would have bought in a heartbeat!)

To top off my experience, I am going to give away some of my great finds! Come back tomorrow for your chance to win!

14 April 2013

What I Wore Sunday (Vol. 16)

The stars aligned and B finally had the same Sunday off in which registration for new parishioners was happening. We are now proud new members of St. Vincent De Paul Church of Fort Wayne, Indiana!

(Okay, B used to be a member 19 years ago, but that's neither here nor there.)

We also ran into B's aunt, uncle, and grandma, who were at this mass (his uncle was the second reader), so we sat with them. Cora gets an A+ for mass behavior! All it takes is a village, I guess.

She also gets an A+ for mass attire today, thanks to a beautiful dress from my mother-in-law.

Linking up with some lovelies.

Brown shirt: so old I can't remember // Skirt: The Limited via Goodwill // Tights: Target // Shoes: American Eagle via Payless // Watch: Fossil // Scarf: Vera Bradley Outlet Sale

Yep, I got to hit up the infamous Vera Bradley Outlet Sale yesterday! I bought a new purse (seen above in the collage), along with the scarf and some other fun stuff.  Come back tomorrow for a recap of my experience at the event and pictures of my haul. Oh, and there will be a giveaway of some stuff I picked up on Tuesday! So if you're a fan, definitely hang around these parts this week.

And as for that long brown mop on my head that hasn't seen a pair of scissors in 12 months?

Yeah, that had to go.

The salon was pretty empty (for haircuts anyway; the manicurists were busy), so I let the hairdresser do whatever she wanted to style my hair after she cut off a good pound or two. Curls! I feel like a true 1950's housewife today. This might actually inspire me to go buy a curling iron. And maybe a straightening thingy-ma-bopper. 

11 April 2013

5 Favorites

Because why not. I also have not had anything profound to say on this blog in 3 months. (If ever.)

1. Spreadable Butter

No, really, you don't know what you're missing out on.

2. Angry Birds RIO

I don't know why I like this game so much because I am truly, truly terrible at it. Yes, I have had to resort to internet cheating walkthroughs to help me out.

3. My Husband's New Car

It's a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, bought with 20k miles on it. Oh, and paid in full. A nice upgrade from B's former grandpa car, a beige 2003 Buick Century, that he had indeed been driving since 2003.

4. This video of my baby learning to walk

At 14 months, 1 week, and 5 days. Just when I was starting to think she would never do it. She's still not fully walking yet (video was taken Sunday), but making progress!

5. Kinsi's Coat

Awesome Easter outfit from Anima Kinsi.
Seriously, y'all. I think the floors are still reverberating from when my jaw hit it after I saw this. And that was four days ago.

I just realized that this linkup is actually a Wednesday thing, but it's open for submissions for longer than a day. So go check out Hallie's blog and her adorable new baby.

07 April 2013

What I Wore Sunday (Vol. 15)

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!

I have heard more than one person (including my husband) say that Easter is over. To that I say:
50 days, baby!
As for my mass attire, I didn't plan on wearing jeans to church. We didn't even think we'd be going to church last night, but it worked out so we did. So this should really be titled "What I Wore to Look At Cars After B Got Off Of Work."

Sweater: Croft & Barrow hand-me-down from MIL // Skinnies (in short length for my little stumps!): Old Navy // Shoes: Old Navy clearance rack score // Necklace: some cheapo store (Body Central) in the Pensacola mall // Trench coat: XOXO brand from TJMaxx(?) a few years back

I'm so glad we can actually go outside with more than our face exposed now. Although B did ask where the other half of my shoe was. Boys.
Hooray for link-ups!
And today you get a bonus. Since I was too busy celebrating my BIL's baptism and full communion with the Catholic Church and whatnot to post last week, here is what I wore to Easter Vigil, via selfies in the rain while Dad held the umbrella:
Same coat as above, a purse that didn't match but I didn't care, and a dress that I wore to a friend's potluck farm wedding 4 years ago.
Good ol' Dad in the background again.
This was my FB profile pic for a solid block of time.
Oh, and you know how I said we were looking at cars? Well, neither of us brought the checkbook (accidentally-on-purpose?), but B will be coming home with a new (to him) car tomorrow. We're paying in full. We're crazy blessed, I know. (But we're also both frugal cheapskates who are proficient at setting sensible goals and sticking with them.)

05 April 2013

7 Quick Takes: Easter Trip Photo Dump

Our trip back to my home state of Georgia, told mostly in pictures.

--- 1 ---
A total trooper on her first plane ride!

--- 2 ---
Enjoying the company of flowers, friends, and family.

--- 3 ---
A baptism. (Full immersion, baby!)

A confirmation.

And a really long and beautiful Easter Vigil.
It started at 8pm. 3 hours and 5 minutes later, it's time for the reception!

--- 4 ---
Easter morning.

--- 5 ---
Easter Sunday down in West Point, GA (on the Alabama border).


--- 6 ---
Can't forget the kibbeh. (It's an Easter tradition!)

--- 7 ---
The best photo of me EVER.

And a 19-year-old 3-legged cat.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!