Sunday, January 13, 2013

Teachers that make a difference...

Good Morning!

Last night, Jeremy and I discussed a lot of things about our childhoods. And during this conversation, I came to the understanding that thought parents have much to do with who we become in life, I can honestly attribute many of my successes to help received from my teachers. It was eye opening, and I wanted to share it with you.

Honestly, school was rough for me. I made mistakes left and right during my elementary years, I wasn't great at math or science, or any subject for that matter. I tried at everything, but always came up short. It wasn't until 5th grade when my teacher, Mr. Gravely (said Graahv-lee) somehow spotted that I had dyslexia that I started to shine. He taught me tips and tricks to somehow 'double check' my work (be it math or writing papers) before turning it in - or speaking aloud in front of my classmates - that gave me confidence and the courage to try.

A few years later in 7th grade, I was still doing well in school when my world started to collapse around me. My cousin (which I adored ) and my pseudo-grandparents (really the only grandparents I had known until that point) had all passed away within a matter of months. My spanish teacher, Mrs. Soto, noticed that I was withdrawn and worried most of the time - and when she asked what was wrong I doubled over in tears and told her. She was the first person to ask, and she was ready for it. She enrolled me in TAG - Teenage Grief classes, and even jumped through the hoops necessary to make sure that I could go to them, without ever involving my parents.

Those TAG Classes taught me so much more than I could have ever hoped for. They helped me to learn how to cope with any form of loss, and they gave me the understanding that I wasn't alone or without hope that I would need over and over in my lifetime. Without these classes, I am not sure I would have been equipped for the losses of my Daddy or my Best Friend that were looming in the distance.

Lastly, Gary Lindberg - though I had good grades and could have went on to do anything in my adult life, I really enjoyed printing my own designs in Graphic Arts. Art wasn't something that I had ever thought about as being a career, but with his help I came to understand that I could indeed do what I love, and prosper. He encouraged me left and right, and allowed me to 'do my own thing' and was impressed with my results. I was excited when I finally decided to do what I loved to do, and continue on to get my Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design, which lead me to where I am today!

Now these are three teachers that 'formed' my youth for the better - there are a few teachers that tried to set me back - one was a year or two before Gravely - her name has changed these days but I recall her thinking that all of her students were thieves and accused us left and right for stealing from her. She was quite persuasive too, and bullied some of my classmates into taking blame for things they did not do.

Another professor that I had in art school decided to tell me that i was wasting my time, that my goals were not high enough. Why spend all this money on schooling to do something that Joe Smith is doing in his home office right now... ? Well, one - to pay your salary lady! (though she should have been fired at that moment) and two, I am ACTUALLY doing exactly what I said I wanted to do in that forum, even without her belief in me.

She too was a bully, and her bullying may have worked on my other classmates, but she didn't know who she was talking to... and really should never have said those words to any of her students. That is what separates a good teacher from a bad, encouragement, and a desire to help others succeed, despite the challenges that come their way.

Was there a teacher that made a difference in your life? I hope that everyone has had someone in their life that motivated them, and encouraged them to pursue what makes them happy. 

If not, I can tell you that I do! I know that YOU can do anything if you put your mind to it and follow through. Baby steps or giant leaps... you really can. And there are other people in your life that believe in you, even if they don't make a point of saying it.

Best of luck in all of your adventures,

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Never underestimate the power of a plan...

Hello Friends!

I have been trying to reorganize my life since I have been married. There is just TOO MUCH to remember when you have others to take care of (in my case: husband, dogs) and too many things get overwritten in my brain. The most important (to my stomach at least) is Dinner. How often have you realized 30 minutes from dinner time that you didn't take out anything to thaw or you are missing an ingredient?

As I have mentioned before, I had been reading Organize Now! for awhile now - and one of the very last chapters in the book happened to be one of the first ones that I tackled, Meal Planning & Groceries.

Here's a sneak peak at how Meal Planning and Grocery Delivery has saved me from those mental lapses!

Meal Planning 101

Here are the basics:
• Pick a day to meal plan - (best if its the same day each week - and the day before you shop!)
 (I use Google Cal for everything - God Bless Reminders!)
 Make a list of your family's favorite meals, stuff they liked, and recipes you would like to try. 
(HAVE YOU SEEN MY PINTEREST? Seriously, this list would have been massive!)
 Separate meals by Weekday and Weekend Cooking (cook time determines this for me) 
• Pick a meal for each day!

Sounds easy right? Well, my first attempt WAS A FLOP. I tried to do it all by myself - and though I was eager, I made about 4 trips to the grocery store that week. EPIC FAIL.
I went back to the drawing board and tried to perfect it - when I stumbled upon a great time saving tool....

Why do I heart Pepperplate? 
It loads recipes from the most popular sites (,,,, etc) by just copying and pasting the link into their system.
{Hint. I know that all of your favorite recipes arent going to be online at one of these sites. You can also add your own recipe manually - but I just go to MYRECIPES.COM and copy and paste or type in my favorite recipes from cookbooks, other sites not offered, my memory, etc. and once its on it will populate into pepper plate.}
With a couple of clicks you can add it to your meal plan calendar. (above)
Another click will add the menu plan to your shopping list. (below)

The shopping list combines all of your like items together, gives you a proper count of what you need, and then breaks it down into what each recipe needs beneath.
It also lets you delete items that you already have on hand, and add to the list items not on the food plan (like candy bars or trash bags)
It also has a handy dandy app for your smartphone so you can see what you need at the grocery store, look at a recipe, etc while you are out and about. (or as I do - walk through the kitchen and cross off the items after ive populated my list! hehe) 

Once I am all done planning on PepperPlate - I post it on the fridge on a 2 week calendar board (it was a one week calendar board from staples dollar drawers - but I drew a line down the middle and split it into two.) This serves as my reminder each night when I am done cooking dinner, I pull out what's needed for the next day's dinner. (THAWED!)

Time for Groceries

First thing's first - to keep peace in my household, I have made a printable grocery list with all of our favorite and most purchased items listed with a little check box on the right. This list includes all of the products needed for the stuff that Dovey is responsible for - making coffee, feeding the pups, taking out the trash, etc - this way when Dovey uses the last of something, he can just check the box before he forgets. I print two copies a week and leave them on the fridge (that way if I am using one of them for any reason - he still has a sheet and wont get in trouble for not writing it down... lol) I generally pull this off the fridge once I am done Meal Planning and add the items checked to my PepperPlate list.

I used to go to the store once a week - when I meal planned that way, now I have been going once every two weeks - and it has been AWESOME. Just think what you could do with one whole weekend without grocery shopping duties! That's like 2 or 3 hours free'd up! I hurt my neck a few weeks ago, and that's when I started Grocery Delivery. It's truly been a Godsend. I get lots of this free time now!

I use VONS since there's one nearby and delivery is so easy. It's only about $10 more for delivery, and you don't have to shlep to and from the store or carry all the heavy groceries. I first go to the two different coupon menus to make sure that all of my savings are added to my rewards card - and then I knock off my shopping list one aisle at a time. I choose a delivery time that suits me (you can save money by choosing the least busy time frames - like 6$ off for Sunday from 11am-3pm... that makes delivery only $4!) Pay the bill and VOILA. Groceries just appear at your door when you want them to. They even substitute items that are out of stock with other brands/sizes so that you don't have to go to another store! {Dont worry! If there is something your keen on a specific brand/size you can mark those ones no substitutes}

So my dear friends. That is how I survive the "HOLY COW I FORGOT TO THAW DINNER AND DOVEY IS GOING TO BE HOME IN FIFTEEN MINUTES!" ordeal. Hooray  for having a plan in place THAT WORKS!

Do you meal plan? How often do you do your grocery shopping?

Monday, June 18, 2012

A letter to my 16-year old self...

So, I have been reading this book - it's a compilation of letters from some amazing people to their 16 year old selves.

It's been a great read - some are scrawled on a napkin, some came on letterhead from their fancy-pants jobs, some are typeset... but the jist of it is clear - DON'T GIVE UP. At sixteen, we can't imagine the amazing things that are in store for us. If I could go back in time and deliver a letter to myself at that age, it would probably go something like this....

Dear Manda, 

I know things are pretty crazy right now. Your world has been falling apart for the last few years, loved ones leaving you - parents breaking up, dad getting sick... right now SUCKS. And truthfully, it is going to suck for awhile. I wish I could push fast forward for you - but you learn so much at this time. You are going to change a lot in the next few years, simply from just getting up every day and fighting the good fight. Your friends will start to cycle out because they don't know what to say or how to deal. It's okay. You will reconnect with the most important ones. 

Daddy is going to get sicker... and sicker... and sicker. And one day, he too will leave you. And though you are the only one to see it coming, you will still be lost in a sea of broken dreams. It is going to hurt more than anything else in your life. Make every minute count - and take more pictures of him and you - those are the ones you will cherish the most.

In high school you will meet a boy - and he will break your heart over and over again. It's only when you finally say goodbye for good that you will be able to find out WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU WANT out of life. Follow your dreams first - the rest will come into place. You are an artist - and a damn good one. Embrace it! And when you get that job offer in a far off land where you know no one - TAKE IT. It is by far the best decision you will ever make. You learn the most about YOU when you are by yourself. Enjoy your yearlong sabbatical - and then come home and enjoy life like never before. 

Sadly, one of your closest friends will leave you far too soon, so make every moment count. Enjoy every laugh, every tear, every smile and every frown. She has been in your heart since the moment you set foot at CHS - and she will be your best friend until the moment she leaves you. Cherish her - and tell her she is special - she needs to hear it!

The next boy that steals your heart in one swinging hug... that's the one you want to hold on to. And wanna know the best part? He wants to hold on to you too. ;)

It's only been 15 or so years that have passed, but I can tell you that right now - You are happy. You are secure. You are hopeful. Trust me, your hope does come back - be patient. 

You're worth it.
And most importantly, I love you! 
Futuristic Manda

 Now if only Marty McFly could deliver it for me!
I guess she'll just have to find it on the internet! ♥ hehehe.

What would you say to your 16-year old self? 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mean Girls...

I was reminded today of some of the 'Mean Girls' I grew up with. Now, don't get me wrong. I know there are good and bad people, and a bit of good and bad in all of us. But whether it be their upbringing or circumstance, these girls were just plain mean.

Sadly, the worst offenders weren't from my school at all, they were from church. Whether they went to my church, or my bible camp. The ones that left the deepest cuts for me were the girls from that part of my life. Maybe it was because they didn't really understand the love that GOD teaches, or maybe they were just raised to be MEAN.

I distinctly recall a few of the girls that hurt my feelings the worst, going to the church's private school. Some of them stayed with me while touring for choir. Some of them were mean to me at camp. I was always amazed at how judgmental they were. I couldn't believe that they were being taught the same as I was in church (and school!) and could still say the things they did.

Don't get me wrong. I know I was poor. I know my clothes were second hand. I know that my house wasn't cool and my life wasn't the best. I KNOW THIS. But it hurts most when those you expect to be the most understanding totally let you down.

I am glad that I have had the privilege of learning how to be understanding and compassionate through my faith teachings. I wish that these girls would have had the same gifted teachers. I hope and pray that they have learned the kinder way of life... and that they can forgive themselves for some of the awful things that they said and did. I know that I have.

Forgiven, but not forgotten. The sting will never fully disappear, but alas. I do forgive you.

Did you survive a mean person, too?
If so, I am PROUD of you for overcoming it.
It takes alot of courage to take a beating and get back up. I commend you.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

As the World Turns...

Ok - So I suck at blogging. I only check in like once a month (or two) and my blogs just ramble about with no real direction. I apologize for that. I can't promise that I will be better, but I do promise to try!

There has been so much going on for the last few months, I completed the 10-lb challenge under goal (at 9.5 lbs! SO CLOSE!) and have signed up for my Diabetes walk in October! It's a great excuse to stay healthy, and its for an amazing cause!

Dovey has made some big changes this month - he left his job of 8 years (somewhat unwillingly) but after a new job fell into his lap and his interviews went smashingly - there was ALOT of thinking to do. It took him one week to weigh the pros and cons (seriously) and with a list that went on forever - he closed his eyes and pressed SEND on his resignation email.

Sidebar. YES - email!? I was totally confused. Somethings should NOT change that much! He is in IT and they are definitely all about the internet there - so he cc'd everyone that needed to know immediately, and then (after much coaxing) printed out a copy and laid it on the HR lady's desk first thing the next morning. I insisted that after 8 years, many traditions have changed, but that shouldn't be one of them!

Anyhow.. we made some big changes - and he has completed his first week at the new job. The first day was hairy. The second was a little easier, the third - bearable, and the fourth - golden. I knew he would get the hang of not working 24-7, it just took some time! He is still adjusting to the change, but is enjoying the benefits, like having time with his wife in the morning! (Wow!) and time to watch TV at night! and reading a book during his lunch break! (Ooohhhh!) and not having to check his email WHILE DRIVING so that he isnt bombarded when he gets to the next jobsite... (Aahhhh!)

Because he had grown with the company, he didn't see it as bad - (hmmm slave drivers maybe?) any way you look at it, it wasn't healthy. I am surprised he even had time to meet me and fall in love while working there... lol. Even when he had 4 weeks vacation time, and we were ON vacation, most of the time was spent on the phone, helping the office or clients or checking emails. It was just too much. and I am glad that he has made the move on to a 'normal' work environment. The new job is challenging, BUT HEALTHY. It's definitely a move in the right direction!

And now back to me. ;) Because of all of these changes, my goals have all been thrown in a blender and chopped to bits. I seriously need to reassess them. My jewelry business is going to be placed on the back burner (though I enjoy it immensely! and still will have 1-2 parties per month, it wont be my whole focus.) because Jeremy will be farther away and I need to be home at certain times to care for the pups... And I have decided that I might shift my 'part time' focus to doing more graphic stuff on the side. 

I know, I know... It should have always been my focus. It's what I love to do, and what I am best at! I was just getting burnt out the last time and needed a break. I am feeling more confident about my design these days, and ready to try my own dabbling.  I love my day job, I get to be creative and do what I have always LOVED doing - magazines! I am referring to side jobs... to subsidize our income and save up for a house. (as was previously goaled with the jewelry goodies - just doing something I am far more familiar with to get there!)

So here's to new adventures!
May your Summer be filled with them!

What new adventures are in store for you this Summer?

PS if you or someone you know needs a wedding/baby/birthday invitation, logos, business cards or just about anything else that's printed... Email me! I will send you the link to my portfolio. ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

8 week check in :)

Wow. I cant believe that March is almost over. As you all know I have been doing the 10-lb challenge with Newlyweds on a Budget, and I'm excited to report that today I weighed in 8.2lbs less than my starting point!


Its been kind of rough at times because Dovey and I have been doing the Monthly Weekender setup. Its really hard to watch what you eat when you are surrounded with amazing choices! :) Santa Barbara was AWESOME. We ate yummy food EVERYWHERE, caught a movie at the DRIVE-IN *yes a real old school drive in* and played on State street. It was an amazing weekend away in celebration of our first year together.

Fun little side note, on the way home we got a wild hair and decided to ADOPT a new family member! :)

Everybody meet Chance, he got his second chance at life when he was rescued from a random shelter on our way home. ;) Isn't he cute! So yes, our family IS expanding, but only in the furry variety. We'll leave the chitlins by the wayside for a few more years. ;P

This weekend we head to Las Vegas, (Sin City! lol) for Dovey's birthday. ;) The land of BUFFETS! haha. I am not sure how I will navigate those bad boys and keep to my diet, but I plan to fill up on veggies (because they're FREE on WW!) and tally every last point. We aren't big drinkers so it shouldn't be too bad! Dovey loves a good poker tourney, and all he wanted was to play play play this weekend... so off to Sin City we go. Not sure what I will be doing in the midst of all of this, but ITS VEGAS. There is always SOMETHING to do, right?

Not much else to report, but super excited to be only 1.8 lbs away from my goal! :) CANT WAIT!

Have a fabulous weekend everyone! ;) xoxo

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

4-week Check-in & Anniversary Goodness...

As you know Im participating in the Newlyweds on a budget 10-pound challenge to lose 10lbs in 10 weeks! Just to check in I have lost almost 6 lbs already! :) I hope that I can keep it consistent and continue to see change! This is by following (loosely) the weight watchers program and just being mindful of what i put into my body. I had originally planned to up the exercising, but my time has been quite limited this month - it's a goal to fix for the future. ;)

I still however have been partaking in yummy treats, all within moderation of course, but for Valentines day I had a wedding cupcake from lady dis with my hubby. :) And this weekend - for our first anniversary - we are going out of town to Santa Barbara. You can bet that I am not going to deny myself a celebratory sweet for making it thru year one!

As for what to get the hubby for our one year present.. I am at a loss - One year is officially a PAPER present, so I might just have to get CRAFTY for this one :) I wonder if I can enlist some help! :) hehehe. "Oh Valetta... ;)"
Im sure that I will figure something out :)

AND FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER - I am not going to plan ANYTHING! It'll be a "fly by the seat of our pants" weekend away. Much deserved as well!

Until we meet again,