Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I'm really hoping it doesn't rain today while the kids are trick or treating.  Last year was Hurricane Sandy and in 2011, it snowed here on Halloween.  It was too dangerous to be out because the leaves were still on the trees and the snow/ice was weighing them down, as well as power lines.
Murphy has a Halloween party at Camp Bow Wow today - LOL.  I wasn't about to spend $ on a dog costume so off he goes (not happily) with my old Osi Umenyiora jersey on.  I'll have to check their cameras on their website to see whether or not he keeps it on - ha!  Poor pup.

The face kills me.  Ears down = not happy.
Have a fun and safe Halloween!  I'll be resisting the urge to have some Reese's & Take Five today.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: The Honeymoon

Welcome to another Wedding Wednesday post!

Our honeymoon is booked!  Before we were officially engaged, we talked about where we would go on a honeymoon.  We looked into Barbados, Grenada and a few other "different" places.  Said places are very pricey (almost double what we ended up booking) and don't have many direct flights from NY.  We didn't want to spend two whole days out of seven just traveling. 
So, that being said, we're going to the Riviera Maya, Mexico!  A quick 3 hour flight from NY - we'll arrive by 10am and be at the resort by lunch time.
The resort has amazing reviews - 4 & 1/2 stars and 4,437 reviews on Trip Advisor.  Our travel agent whose Mom has also been a travel agent for several years, told us it was one of her most favorite resorts EVER.  My friend who works in travel also highly recommended it.  Technically, it's a part of Cancun but it's not in the busy hotel zone.
I can't wait to plant my butt on this beach for 7 whole days with my soon to be husband!

 Lastly, it's 6 months away.  I'm already nervous!  An excited nervous that I'll be the center of attention that day.

Are you nervous?  Were you nervous?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

One Year Since Superstorm Sandy

A year ago today, Superstorm Sandy slammed into the East Coast, causing severe damage to the NJ shore, Staten Island, Manhattan, DC, New England, etc.
Thankfully, we had no damage to our house but we had a few huge trees and tree limbs fall down.  The wind that night was so scary.  I thought for sure a tree would come crashing down onto the house or through a window.  Last year, I posted this recap, including photos.
We lost power for 4 days but we didn't lose hot water.  We played lots of Scrabble and drank lots of wine that week.  Stores were closed and without power for days or even weeks.  It was such a weird feeling.
A year later, people are still affected from this gigantic and devastating storm.  Over the summer, I drove through parts of the NJ shore where I spend a lot of time in the past; mainly my teens and early 20s.  Some of the houses look like they were picked up from the wind and slammed back down.  They were completely destroyed.  Some other houses only had one or two walls standing up.
We can only hope something like that never happens again!
Were you affected, or know someone who was?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Recipe: Crockpot Apple Butter

Yesterday, while in Trader Joe's, I decided to grab an apple tote to make apple butter.  Tonight, I plan to make healthy *almost paleo* muffins, using said apple butter.  Prior to this, I've only had Musselman's jarred apple butter which is tasty.
You can use apple butter on muffins, toast, pancakes, eggs & bacon, crackers, etc.  I bet it would be good on top of a water cracker with brie cheese!
12-15 medium sized apples; peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1/4 cup raw organic honey
2 tbsp agave nectar
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup water
Place apples in crockpot first and then pour the rest of the ingredients on top.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.  Mash the apples.  Cook on low for another 2 hours.  Mash some more and then blend in a food processor for 3 minutes.
This made 3 pints:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Great Week!

Another week zipped right by!  On Monday I posted about it being support staff week here.
It was really NICE and fun!
This morning we were given certificates to take a half day whenever we choose from now until Dec. 13 to go holiday shopping.  Amazing and very generous!
We might be getting out early today as well and if so, I'm planning to get a manicure.
I'm hoping Saro gets out of work on time today.  On Sunday he worked 6 hours, Monday-Wednesday, 12 hours and yesterday, 16 hours.  Today is his store's grand reopening.  He works so hard.  I can't imagine working 70+ hours in one week - and a lot of what he does is physical, lifting, moving things, etc.  I worked with him for one day and was pooped.
So hopefully tonight we can relax and even more so, I hope he's off tomorrow with me but we're not sure yet.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: 6 months to go!

Well, 6 months and 2 weeks but who's counting? 
Yesterday, I submitted my time off (9 work days!) for a total of 13 days off!  Time is flying for sure.  Last Friday, I tried my dress on and today, it'll arrive (I had it shipped).  I can't wait to try it on again & again!
One thing we have to do soon is find an officiant to marry us!  Last night I had a dream that it was the day of the wedding and we didn't have anyone, so our friend Bill had to marry us because he got ordained online - ha!  Funny the things you dream about when they're on your mind subconsciously.
A few recent things that are done:
Centerpieces purchased
Guestbook purchased from Etsy
DIY favors purchased
Personalized paper products for the reception
Some items for hotel guests
2nd large deposit sent to venue
To some, it seems so "early" or like we have plenty of time but the months are flying by.  Plus, before the actual engagement, we knew a lot of what we wanted and had been discussing things for a while, so it makes it a little smoother.
I think the next 6 months are going to fly by, especially with the holidays around the corner!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Recent Savings

I've posted a few couponing trips before and wanted to share some more.

On Sunday, I saved $33 at Stop and Shop and spent about $60.  They had a few coupons in their weekly flyer, plus I had a few manufacturer's coupons.  I threw out the receipt but here's what I got (estimating the prices for some items):

20 roll Scott TP for $8.49.  Their flyer coupon was for $9.99 and then I had a 75 cent coupon (which doubled), saving an extra $1.50.
Red seedless grapes for 88 cents/lb with their flyer coupon
Ground beef for $1.99/lb with their flyer coupon
2 lbs chicken thighs $3
1.5 lbs thin sliced chicken tenders - $4
2 Dole bagged romaine hearts $4
7 honeycrisp apples (they're a little pricey but I love them)
2 lemons
2 Land O Lakes quart sized half and half - I had a $1 off 2 coupon so it was about $3.50 for two.
1 dozen Land O lakes eggs - 50 cent coupon = $2
1 5lb. King Arthur whole wheat flor - $3
1 avocado - $1.50
1 Talenti gelato - $4

There were a few more items but I can't remember now!

My CVS trip:
1st transaction
(2) large Colgate toothpastes for $9 - $5 extra bucks issued

2nd transaction
(1) Tide 100 oz
-$5.00 extra bucks
-$2.00 off one Tide (manuf.)
Roughly $5 and $3 more Extra Bucks issued

3rd Transaction
1 more Tide using the $3 extra bucks and another $2 off Tide coupon

My Harmon's Trip:

(3) Large Kleenex boxes
(2) Aussie hair products
(1) Covergirl mascara

I had a 50 cent, $1.00 and $1.50 coupon for all 3 items.  I also had a $5 off $15 bed, bath and beyond and one 20% off one item.  It came to $13 and I saved $10.


Phew...good deals the last few days.

Do you agree?  Is it worth the time?  To me it is.  I usually spend less than an hour couponing each Sunday morning.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Staff Appreciation Week

This week at work, it's Support Staff Appreciation Week!  I am part of said staff :)

Today, we came in and everyone had a gift on their desks with little makeup samples, balloons and we had a brief meeting with breakfast.

Tomorrow is coffee and cupcakes.

Wednesday is lunch and then bowling after work.

Thursday is Bingo and dinner at Capital Grill.

Friday we can wear jeans and we're having a baby photo contest.

Not that I've had many jobs but this is by far the most I've felt appreciated at a job anywhere.  I've only been working here for 7 months and there have been so many tokens of appreciation in that short span.

Do you have fun events at your job?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Randomness

TGIF!  This is a great Friday because I'm leaving work early to try on my wedding gown at RK Bridal in the city!!! (they had no Sat. appointments until next YEAR and they're only open 11-5:30 M-F, how convenient - not!).  Then I'm having dinner with my cousin and Matron of Honor!

I also had a great night last night seeing my great Uncle and Aunt who are visiting from Chicago.  They're just amazing people.  My great Uncle is my Grandpa's brother.  My grandpa passed away when I was 3 and I don't remember him at all.  By pictures and I've heard personality wise, they're very similar, so it's almost like a piece of my grandpa is with us when we visit with him.  He and my Aunt make it to EVERY family function which is part of what makes them amazing.  They're in their mid 70s but they make the drive to NJ or NY for weddings, big parties, or just for the heck of it.  Here's a photo of us last night.

Gram, Uncle, Me, Aunt
If you read yesterday's post, I mentioned that I wish I had pictures of my Mom's handmade Halloween costumes from the 80's.  Well, last night I found one!

I remember wearing this one!  Loved it.
That's about all I've got for today.  Have a great weekend!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween Costumes

Growing up, my Mom made me the best Halloween costumes.  I wish I could find the pictures.  I was a Hershey Kiss, an m&m, Wednesday from The Addam's Family.
Fast forward from the 80's & 90's to Halloween 2009, Saro and I were invited to a Halloween party at a local pub.  We couldn't figure out what to be that wouldn't cost an arm & a leg.  So, we came up with this:
Heidi & Al from Home Improvement!
Do you like to dress up for Halloween?  What's a fun costume you've worn?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Centerpieces

I'm linking up for Wedding Wednesday again!


Today, I wanted to talk centerpieces.  I *think* we're opting out of floral-only centerpieces.  I am thinking lanterns or big glass hurricanes with large candles on top of sand or rocks.  Here are some similar things as to what I have in mind. 

The lantern would be higher up and not as many flowers.

Not Christmasy, though :)

We definitely want great looking centerpieces but ones that are budget friendly.  Keep in mine we probably need 15 and large floral arrangements can start at $200 each.  I saw the large lanterns online for less than $25 each and I also check Ruffled Blog. for gently used items that brides don't need anymore.

What do you think?  What did you do for your wedding or what would you like to do?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Grass Fed/No Wheat/No Dairy Debate

Happy Tuesday, all!  I woke up this morning thinking it can't ONLY be Tuesday.  Last night I had that moment where I was too lazy/relaxed on Sunday to do 5 loads of laundry so I put it off until Monday.  Monday night came and I had to force myself.  If I didn't have to dress up for work, I'd probably do laundry twice a month.  Or, if I had a larger wardrobe - ha.

Anyway, today I'm wondering about this whole grass fed/no wheat/no dairy diet that seems to be everywhere lately.  I've come across a few blogs and Facebook pages of people who follow this "diet" aka the Paleo diet.  Eating only meat, fish, vegetables and fruit.  Whatever the cave men ate!

I actually do try to avoid OVERLY processed meat, bread, pasta, too much sugar and dairy.  I've been doing so for close to a year.  Sure, there are the occassional splurges and I do use cream in my coffee (1 tbsp).

A lot of cows are corn fed and apparently corn is one of the most processed "foods" out there, not to mention starchy.

I've read a lot about this stuff recently, but I don't have enough knowledge to preach.  I was just wondering if it's all hype.  I mean, I don't think so by looking at the obesity and diabetes rates in the U.S.

There's always something "new" in the news.  Eggs are good, eggs are bad.  Whole wheat is good, whole wheat is bad.  Nuts are healthy, nuts are difficult for your stomach to digest.  Heavy cream/whole milk is fattening but not processed so it's better than skim milk, & the list goes on & on.

I read something just last week that said there has been an 70-80% increase in the amount of product in a supermarket versus 50 years ago.  This seems about right.  Years ago, they had small markets, butchers, dairy farms, etc.  Now, I go into Stop & Shop and get lost.  It's so big, you can barely see the other side of the store from one end.

So, what's your opinion on this?  Do you eat this way?  Do you read the ingredients before throwing something in the shopping cart?  Do you buy organic vs. regular?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall Decor & Deer Sighting

If you follow me on Instagram (rayac1221), you've probably already seen these but if not, here's how we decorated for Fall.  I don't love many Halloween decorations (think ginormous blow up things on people's lawns that just freak my dog out - sorry if you're a fan of them), but we have a few knick knacks and a wooden pumpkin ghost my Mom let us borrow.


Second, Murphy spotted a family of deer in our neighbors yard.  I was in the bedroom watching TV and he kept looking out, then looking at me for a good 10 minutes or so.  Finally, I looked out and saw 3 deer grazing.  He knew they weren't dogs or else he would haev been barking his head off.  He was SO quiet.

Lastly, Tux adores Saro. 

Have a great week!  Enjoy the day if you're one of the lucky ones off of work today :)
Do you decorate for Fall/Halloween?

Friday, October 11, 2013

5 on Friday!

I can't stop eating this peanut butter with an apple.  Every.  Day.  It is so good.


These TWO are driving me nuts lately; especially if they're making noise before my alarm goes off at 7:20.  Kill me.

This is Tux on my night stand.  No idea how he fit there, on top of all of my magazines.

Guilty face.  He's so spoiled and I know it's all my fault.
I have more details on my back issue.  My L5S1 disc is herniated and it's pushing down on the Thecal Sac.  If I don't try to "fix it" by doing physical therapy, I could have permanent nerve damage/lose leg and bladder function.  Well this is just lovely.  NOT.  Not being able to run or even do high intensity workouts is definitely part of this funk I've been in for a couple MONTHS now.  The changing weather isn't helping either.  I do love Fall but I just feel very blah lately.  This could also have to do with my thyroid issue which I'm currently trying to find an endo who takes my insurance.

No plans this weekend which I'm actually starting to enjoy.  Nowhere specific to be at a certain time.  These free weekends are going to come in handy once the wedding gets closer!


I think I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as far as my student loan goes.  I still have YEARS to go, but my payments are a little bit less now.  I try to pay more than the minimum so I guess that has helped!

That's about all I've got.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: The Many Dresses I Tried On...

...but didn't purchase.  I won't be revealing my dress until after the wedding!  I really had NO idea what kind of dress I wanted so I tried on A LOT.  Most of them were my size so that made it even harder to decide.  Here are most of them:

No to the pleats.

This was okay.

The feathers.  No, just no.  Lol.  But, I liked the skirt.

I didn't like the straight neckline.

Again, the straight neckline.

Flattering, budget friendly and slimming - This one was a favorite until I tried to sit in it and couldn't.

Also flattering and slimming; even more budget friendly.  I didn't love the flower on the shoulder (which they tucked in).

This one was okay.  By now, I know I do not want a straight neckline.  They could have ordered this with a swooped neckline though, but then I didn't like the attached belt.

Loved this one!  It was so comfy and FUN.  I've seen it frequently on a few wedding blogs I read.

Don't I look thrilled?  Lol, I didn't know my Mom was snapping the picture in some of these.  I also loved this one but NOT the bow.

Simple satin.  My Mom liked this one but I wasn't a fan of the material.

What style dress did you wear or think you would like to wear on your wedding day?  Do you mind how comfortable it is?  Apparently I did! :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Important Fall Poll: Pumpkin or Apple?

I used to like apple but I now prefer pumpkin (probably because it's generally less sweet and "healthier").

I had THE most amazing pumpkin flan at my cousin's restaurant last night.  I so badly wanted to finish it but I saved half so I can have more today.

I've also been on a pumpkin muffin kick.  Homemade only.  Store bought are full of sugar and are roughly 500 calories each.  Mine came out to less than 250 :)

So, which do you prefer?  Pumpkin or apple? Anything - pies, muffins, etc.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Random Monday Things

Happy Monday, all!

Nothing too exciting this weekend so here are some random things.

1)  I treated myself to a new Michael Kors bag (I used a coupon at Macy's, of course) and I didn't want to spend the same amount on a new wallet, so I went to Kohl's and got a light brown one to match (for $15!).

Perfect size with interior pockets.

2)  This morning, I'm embarrassed to say that I'm a NY Giants fan.  Not really but, they're 0-5.  I mean, really?  We have tickets to a game next month so I'm looking forward to that.

3)  Our Save the Dates went out this weekend.  Less than 7 months now!

4)  My mom and coworker both gave me a great coupon for Dunkin Donuts.  Free medium iced coffee every Monday, starting today for 8 weeks.  So I COULD get one in the morning and the afternoon if I wanted to :)  They're about $2.50 each!  The little things in life...I'm also being really cheap lately.  Refer to #3 above ;)

5) We're almost done with Season 4 of Breaking Bad.  We watched 4 epiodes last night (yes that's about 4 hours of TV which is rare for me).  It's so good!  Did you watch it?

6)  I received all of my Pampered Chef stuff from the party I hosted.  I made meatballs in the deep covered baker last night.  Just threw them in there with a little sauce for 30 minutes @ 350 and viola!

Have a great week!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

BYO Breakfast & Lunch = Save $

Happy Thursday!

This week, I've been on point with having breakfast at home (since I started the new job 6 months ago, this is easier for me as I have an extra hour in the morning) and packing my lunch and snacks for the day.

I have one egg cooked in coconut oil with Frank's hot sauce and maybe some avocado and either a green fruit smoothie or recently, my homemade applsauce.  This keeps me full from 8:00-11:00.  Around then, I have an apple or pear with peanut butter, or nuts.

This week, I've packed a small side salad each day with my homemade dressing on the side and my leftover gluten free eggplant parm or chicken & roasted veggies.

By doing this, while it takes more time, I save about $7-$10/day.  I also haven't been stopping at Dunkin Donuts for coffee in the morning or during my lunch so this saves another $2-$3. 

$13/day x 20 work days in the month = $260!

If I had to estimate how much the eggplant parm, chicken, veggies and salad cost, I'd say $30.  We also had the eggplant parm & chicken and veggies 1-2 nights for dinner.  So $30 for lunch and dinner from Mon-Fri is a win I'd say!

My breakfast calculation is $0.70 for coffee (one k-cup and incl. cream), $0.25 for 1 egg, $0.40 for 1/4 of an avocado and it's hard to estimate the fruit smoothie since there are a lot of ingredients but I'd say $1 (handful of spinach, 1 cup almond milk, 1 banana, handful frozen berries, tsp flax seed, tsp cinnamon) = $2.35 for breakfast versus $2.50 for just ONE coffee at a coffee shop, no food!

We have a cafeteria at work and their food is decent but it's usually $7/meal.

What do you do on a normal basis for breakfast and lunch?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - My Bridesmaids

Happy Hump Day!  I'm linking up with Kristyn & Mary again for Wedding Wednesday!

Today I'd like to "introduce" the girls of our wedding party!  I didn't do a fancy thing when asking them to be in the wedding.  I'm sure some of them knew they'd be in our wedding one day.  So no fancy cards or gifts, just an old fashioned "will you be in our wedding?"
The girls will be wearing long strapless chiffon gowns from David's Bridal.  Color: Guava.
Nuritza - Saro's younger sister and my soon to be sister-in-law.  She and I have become good friends in the last 6-7 years.  One of the funnest times I've had with her was at her bachelorette party in AC :)
Heather - My cousin & Matron of Honor.  I was Maid of Honor in her wedding.  Growing up, we bickered a lot & would always compete.  To this day, it's an ongoing joke.  We are definitely more like sisters.  She's a Social Studies teacher and is great at what she does.
Angela - Some of you may know her :)  Friends since pre-school.  She's our Maid of Honor.  Ang is a great friend.  She hates pirates and the Fall season (but loves football Sundays and her goddaughter & nephew born in Oct).  She's the 1st person I'd call in a crisis.
Floriana - Bridesmaid; My friend since kindergarten.  She hates to be called "Flor" but I continue to do it anyway.  She comes from an Italian family and her Nonna makes some of the best Italian food I've never had.  Flor would come pick me up at 3am if needed.
Jessica - Bridesmaid; My friend since middle school.  I was in her wedding also.  Jess loves to cook and bake and can whip something up in a matter of minutes.  We like to have wine nights.
Nahira - Bridesmaid; My friend since middle school.  I was in her wedding also.  We don't see each other as often as we'd like but she's a great friend.  She has two kiddies who keep her on her toes :)
Saro's daughters might also be in the wedding party.  We'd like them to be.  We're going to take them dress shopping during their next visit.
How many bridesmaids did you have or will you be having?  How did you ask them?