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 (realsimple.com, allrecipes.com, myrecipes.com, skinnytaste.com, 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 myrecipes.com 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,

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Checking in...

Wow. I cannot believe that a month has passed since New Years Day. It's crazy how time flies when you are making changes!

Just wanted to write in a quick progress report. As you all know I am doing my 10 lb challenge with Newlyweds On A Budget (See the button on the top right of the page!) and am really impressed with my results so far. Now as you know I am a pretty busy girl, but have been doing small changes to my eating habits, like portion control and paying attention to what I put in my mouth. I had signed up for WW online to keep track of what I am doing.
I am not a crazy tracker though, for example this past weekend on a conference I didn't whip out my phone to count my points at every second, but I did pay attention to my portions and my choices.  :)
So far so good! I have lost 2.2 lbs since I started the weight tracker on Jan 16! Now if only I can get the exercise portion down I will be well on my way! LOL

I've streamlined my hostess packets and am working on a few new ideas I picked up at conference. Also alot of the girls said they way they are going green in their business is using a "Tablet" at their shows and emailing the receipts. GREAT IDEA... however I'm not a tablet fan - too many variables and not enough stamina - so I have modified it, I am going to bring my laptop and do it that way. :)

Business is Booming
Well January wasn't the greatest of months, but I am hopeful and determined to make a difference in my business. I have started making little adjustments and picking up the 300 lb phone ;) I am still planning to promote within Lia Sophia soon - by the end of summer, and this quote said it best...
"You've made the choice, 
          now make it happen!"
I'm working on it. ;)

Vacation Station
So we had already planned our Santa Barbara weekend for the anniversary, and now we have a few more on the docket. Santa Barbara in February, Vegas in March, Redding in April, Palm Springs in May, and San Diego in June. :) I cannot wait to get started on checking off those bad boys! :) hehehe.

Well, That's all for now!
Hope you all are succeeding with your goals!
All my best,

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ready, Set, GO!

I know that 2012 started a week ago, for everyone else but me! My career as a Creative Director keeps me busy the first week (1st - 7th) out of every month. So that means that life begins on the 8th, and pauses on the last day of the month. It's cool though, this is one of the many reasons I LOVE that I met my husband after I had my career set in stone... he's used to the deadlines.

This week has actually been pretty productive, despite the deadline!

Goal One: Healthy & Green
I used my elliptical 3 days this week, and have kept an eye on my eating patterns. I also got involved in "The Ten Pound Challenge" with several fellow bloggers this week! I know I wasn't worrying about a number, but this challenge gives me an extra incentive to stick with my goals this year. ;) Gotta love incentives!

As for being green, I ordered presentation folders for my jewelry hostesses - and have made up "Help me recycle, return this folder and any unused contents" stickers :) I am also going to laminate a few pieces that wont really change, so that they wont get weathered over time. We shall see how the girls do with that new concept. With the 'green' changes being made all over, I hope and pray that they are very receptive.

Goal Two: Business is Booming
As this is my Creative Director deadline week, I didnt get much done for the jewelry business this week, aside from the green folders above, however I did participate in my leadership call on Friday and got a few great tidbits. The homework in that class is challenging, but great for business. We were also reminded of our challenges and incentives for the next few months... :) Gotta love incentives! haha. I know, I said that already. I am usually not an incentive driven person, but its definitely nice to get rewarded for good deeds, going unseen (as they have in the past) is fine, because I KNOW that I did them - but having others notice too makes you feel good inside. I have some great parties scheduled the next few weeks, and then SUMMIT in AZ at the end of the month! :) This is my second business rally, and I learned so much at the first that this is going to be great. Plus, I love having the chance to get to know my team better. ;)

Goal Three: Vacation Smarter
Dovey and I planned our first 'weekender' vacation for our anniversary (I love that Dovey still calls it "Our Honeymoon") in Santa Barbara. It's close enough to not take forever to arrive at vacation, but far enough away that we don't feel sucked into our work vortex! LOL. Plus Santa Barbara is a romantic getaway, beachy sunsets, delicious restos... walks through downtown on State Street... itll be great!

We are also trying to plan a cohesive vacation with my parents, renting a house for a week in Ventura. It will be nice if it works out, since we exhausted our resources for Nor Cal trips last year, I went three times in three months! And the stupid Rapid Rewards credits arent working because they havent changed my maiden name to my married name yet! UGH. ((it's on the list of to-dos!))

Goal Four: Organize the Love Shack
No improvement here. Deadline week is when cleaning gets tossed by the wayside. The only thing we get done that week is laundry, and VOILA its done already. ;)

Other than that we have a plan of attack for this weeks meal schedule... and a forward thinking approach to the months to come. We chose our absolute fav restos and put them on a rotation for our date nights (every friday)... so we can hit each of them over the course of a few months. The more ritzy choices are what we rotate, so one month we will hit our favorite italian place, and the next we will hit our favorite steak place (out here.. Salt Creek is still a regular! We loved that place enough to get married there, lol.. its on the monthly regimine forEVER now. YUM YUM YUM.)

Great, now I am hungry again! LOL...
Here's to chipping away at the goal list! XO

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012... Here we come!

It's going to Epic!
Last week we worked out our resolutions. I teased you with them in my Christmas Blog, but wanted to go into a little more depth.

Be healthy and more "Green".
Part One.. Healthy
I don't want to put a number on my health goal this year. I was EXTREMELY bitter about last year, where my husband and I did the SAME workouts, and he lost 36lbs and I lost 6! We figured it out that it was because he had muscle when we started, and I did not.. so I was gaining muscle (which weighs more than fat) while losing the fat, which is FINE. I definitely SAW changes, but the numbers were screwing with my head... so THIS YEAR I am just goaling myself to Be Healthy and leave the numbers at the wayside. This was a concept that Dovey had trouble grasping. He asked me HOW MUCH do you want to lose, moments after I said that I didn't care about the numbers. LOL.
Anyhow, this goal is in effect. I wanted to be accountable by documenting my results, and decided to give WW online a try. My boss at the day job has been doing this since my wedding with great results. I like that it doesnt limit you from splurging here and again, but being responsible about it.. and that fruits and veggies are FREE! No meetings, Im too self motivated, and get psyched out by others successes and failures, so I knew (from past experience) that meetings wouldn't work for me. I have downloaded the mobile app on my phone (which I love) because it allows me to look it up as I go, and started following some "Skinny" blogs that have delicious looking recipes. :) I plan to blog my favorites as I try them, too. So, be ready! I've also DUSTED OFF the elliptical and have organized my schedule so that I will be using it several times a week ;)
Part two of this goal was Becoming Greener. 
As far as food goes, we eat only whole grain and organic foods mostly, because of my fibromyalgia I follow a no preservative diet - its good for our bodies and the environment. So in the kitchen, we are pretty green. One thing I have noticed about this business is that it has quite the papertrail. I have come up with a plan for my hostesses to return their unused items so they can be reused. :) With a few other changes, we are working smarter, not harder and doing our part to keep our Earth healthy for the future.

My business is BOOMING. My life is IMPROVING.
As you all know, I started a business last year in September - it was a little consuming at first when I was getting the hang of it so I didn't have much blog time... (sorry about that!) but now I have a better handle on it, and foresee some business-y blogs too. ;) I have reassessed my goals for the business, and am TRULY interested in helping others find success (financially, personally, etc) through my business. I have set sales, bookings and team building goals.. and GOD WILLING I will earn my ab-fab trip to the Mayan Riviera this year, and have made enough to pay off the student loan I am goaling to kill from the bill list in 2012. When I meet my goals, the bill will be gone, we will have earned a vacation for 2013 (FREE!), I will have a team, and a consistent second income!
Lots of good things in store for our family with acheiving this goal. A new house, an expansion in our 2-man crew... AND LET ME TELL YOU - I cannot wait to leave our, (best described by a fellow blogger) LOVE SHACK. This spacious one bedroom will begrudgingly be a part of our 2012... but I ASSURE YOU it will not be included in 2013. Manda needs an office with a door, and Dovey needs a garage for his MAN STATION. Plus Little Diva (chihuahua) could use a yard to burn off some of her energy during the day in, and my Morkalicious (turtle) REALLY wants a pond of his own. Plus we could use an extra bedroom if we indeed grow our family in 2013!

Vacation smarter.
We love a good vacation, and it was really nice to leave on a Wednesday, and return to work on a Wednesday for our honeymoon.. but we were definitely started to feel stuck and had worn out our 'vacation' mindset before it was time to come home. After several discussions, we decided taking several long weekend vacations would solve this problem. We get to see more places, do more things AND get a little break from our high-stress day jobs ONCE A MONTH! Instead of only having one big vacation for the whole year. I REALLY like this plan. We are going to make a plan in the next few weeks with where we hope to go and when the best time for the mini vacations are. ;) And if Dovey decides to rethink his anti-flying mentality, perhaps we can go a little further every so often.
He just decided NO MORE FLIGHTS last month when we took a weekend trip to visit my parents in Northern California. The flight home had a lot of turbulence and sadly I ended up with the WORST earache I have ever had. In the midst of this, I bit down quite hard and cracked a molar. I had to have an extraction the day before thanksgiving, followed by bridgework and implant discussions... that flight cost us SO MUCH money, and my mom had even paid for our tickets with her points! LOL. Needless to say, he wasn't happy!

Organize the "Love Shack".
As I stated on my Christmas Blog.. I bought an amazing book called "Organize NOW!" and plan to implement it in 2012. It gives you week by week checklists that you tackle each part of your home, business, life to get you more organized so that your life flows more seamlessly. I REALLY love this book. I have already conquered my worst spaces, the home office and the coat closet *(aka World's Largest Junk Drawer)* and am EXTREMELY HAPPY with the results. I hope to conquer something new each week and make our lives a little saner and our house a little easier to maneuver. :) Heck I even plan to attack the scariest part of our current setup, STORAGE. Where my unmarried life has been hiding for the last nine months! LOL. God bless me with patience and perseverance while I tackle the hard ones!

Well, that's what we have so far... lol. I'm sure that it will ebb and flow a little bit each month, but by 2013 I know we will have made VAST IMPROVEMENTS in all of these areas. ;)

Wishing you all a prosperous and goal-achieving 2012!
Happy reading!

PS. Do these goals sound like any of your goals for 2012? I'd love to hear how you plan to achieve them! :)