Archive for April, 2012


(Don’t worry- no spoilers) I am sure most of you have either read or at least heard of this book by now because it seems like the world is talking about. And, now that I finished the first book, I know why. First I’ll give you a little background without ruining the story for you and then I’ll go into my commentary.

The story is about a young girl, fresh out of college who meets a ridiculously hot and insanely rich man who wants her. Too good to be true? Yep! It turns out that this man, Christian Grey, has some very particular sexual preferences. The book (in pretty serious detail) talks about their sexual relationship, the normal ups and downs, and the sacrifices or concessions you make in a new relationship and when dealing with another person’s baggage. This is actually a trilogy, but I have only read the first book so I can only comment on the beginning of the story.

What is so fascinating about this book is how it is unlike anything that most of us have read. This is a love story WITH sex. And, let’s be honest here, that’s what women want in a book, love AND sex. We might not have known this about ourselves before reading 50 shades, but we know now! Now, I don’t want to say that women are more sophisticated with our ‘pornography’ preferences, but what the hell- Women are more sophisticated with our ‘pornography’ preferences. (I am using quotes because I feel like porn has a bad stigma and this book is nothing like what the average person thinks of when they think of porn). Women are not impressed by the following: girl answers knock at door, it’s the pizza guy but she has no money for the pizza. How can she possibly pay the man? Oh, I have an idea…. Yadda yadda yadda…..rough degrading fast sex…..shows over. We want a love story with a strong female protagonist and a sexy man, oh yeah and sex (even kinky sex). Who knew?! This book provides that. It’s like porn for the strong independent female.

Since first hearing about this book, I have heard women talking about it EVERYWHERE! That is every author’s dream- to write a story that the world is talking about. Women of all ages are discussing this book. Your mom is probably reading this book! Why? Because it is missing from our lives. This is the perfect book for women in monogamous relationships and its the perfect book for single women too. We could all use a little sexual excitement. How is it that no one else has thought of or succeeded with this? This is a HUGE un-tapped market and I predict it won’t be un-tapped for long. I bet there will be a lot more books and movies coming out like this in the next 3 years. The market has spoken.

Now, I’m not blindly praising this book. It does have flaws. Some parts are a little repetitive and the writing is not great. I like beautiful literary fiction and this definitely falls short, but frankly I don’t care. It makes up for that in how the story sucks you in and you want to hear about what they are going to do next. Feminists might find issue with this book (and I usually lean a little feminist myself), but I don’t mind it in this story. Does the female character make sacrifices she is not thrilled about to make a man happy? Yes. But the male character does as well. They struggle to find their own version of normal the way that we all do. And it’s thrillingly voyeuristic to watch it unfold.

Read this book! Better yet, read it out loud to your husband. 🙂

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Couponing 101

If you are a seasoned coupon-er, this post is not for you. This is aimed at those of you have been wondering about coupons but don’t have a clue where to start.

I recently started couponing and I am really happy I did. I am usually the type of person that gets excited about something, does it for a month and then gives up. I can honestly say that after learning the tricks of coupons, I will never go back!

The Sunday Paper: You need to start getting a Sunday paper. This is where the coupons are at and therefore step #1. The coupons are in the middle of the paper along with all the weekly ads. These go hand in hand. The first thing I do when I bring the paper in is to compare the weekly ads with the coupons. For example, you may see that one of the deals this week at Walgreens is ‘Pantene products 2 for $6’. Then you notice that there is a coupon for $2 off, 2 Pantene Products. You can now use that coupon at Walgreens and get 2 for $4! It is very exciting and it happens every week.

Manufacturers Coupons vs. Store Coupons: At the top of every coupon it will say either ‘Manufacturer Coupon’ or ‘Store Coupon i.e. Target Coupon’. For example, you may have a General Mills Manufacturers coupon that is 50 Cents off 1 item and a Target coupon that is $1 off 3 General Mills items. You can use these coupons together at Target and get $1.50 off of 3 boxes of Cheerios. You usually cannot combine 2 Manufacturer or 2 Store coupons, but if you have one of each- you’re golden. *Tip: check the Target website before you leave the house. They have printable coupons on their site. I usually can find a coupon for upandup diapers/formula.

Buying when it’s on sale: To get the most out of your coupons, you want to use them when things are on sale. You want to always be on the lookout for the deals on the stuff that you already buy and buy it when it’s at its best price. If you wait until you need razors- you will pay full price for razors. If you buy them when you have a coupon AND they are on sale at CVS, you will save a ton of money.

Buy the smaller size/quantity: I know it has been drilled into our head that the best deal is the biggest size. Penny for penny it is cheaper to buy 25 paper towel rolls than it is to buy 1. This rule is NOT true when using coupons! If you have a $2 off coupon for Viva paper towels, it is a better deal to buy the smaller size. You get a bigger percentage off per roll. If you have a $1 off Jiffy peanut butter and you buy the small container that is normally $2.50, you are saving more money per serving. *The only problem with this is the increased amount of waste and packing material which makes me crazy. The way I justify this is that I recycle everything I can and commit to no waste!

Buying what you don’t need: This is what the companies that market thru coupons hope you will do. Once you start couponing you will be very tempted to buy something just because you can get a really good deal. It’s addicting! It feels good to get 30 vitamin waters for 30 cents! But, if you don’t like vitamin water, you are just wasting. Ignore the coupons on products you don’t use or haven’t been dying to try. Don’t get too caught up in the excitement of saving, or it will consume you. Have you seen the show Extreme Couponing? Those people are crazy. You don’t need a 3 year supply of laundry detergent no matter how cheap it is. *Exception to this rule is if it is free and you plan to donate it.

Things to never buy again without a coupon: These are things that you can almost always find a coupon for. Also, these are things that I almost never buy at the grocery store. They are way more expensive at Jewel, Dominicks than at Walgreens, CVS— Razors, deodorant, make up, soap/body wash, shamp/cond, feminine products, diapers/formula, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and lotion (even the expensive face products).

Websites: There are a thousand coupon websites that will do a lot of the work for you. These sites will tell you where the deals are this week and what you can get for free. Here are two that I like: www.krazycouponlady.com and www.couponmom.com . They also have links to printable coupons all over the web.

Dont be overwhelmed at the idea of using coupons. Start small and learn as you go. I promise it is worth at least 30 min. a week to go thru the paper. Once you start, you will not go back.

The Mommy Martyr

Mommy Martyr: the woman who continues to sacrifice her own health, happiness, and therefore sanity out of commitment to her family. She is often heard saying things like, “I don’t have time to work out, I have 3 kids!” Or, “The only books I read anymore are about potty training” Or “Why would I need to put on make up? I only go to Target and then home again.”

This of course is my definition, but I think it works. And, I tell you, there are a lot of them out there! Now this is not necessarily a good or bad thing. Anyone who plans to have kids should know that raising children requires sacrifice- no doubt about it. Mother’s are in a unique position with maternal instincts, societal pressures, and a permanently guilty conscience. I believe that no one but a mom could truly know how this feels. However, the martyr identity can quickly become a problem when the Mom forgets or chooses not to care about herself. Did we get the self-sacrifice gene along with our 2nd X-chromosome?

The problem with this way of thinking implies that mothers that do NOT make every possible sacrifice are somehow not doing a good job.

I used to argue that I didn’t have time to exercise but somehow my husband was making it to the gym 1-2x/week to play basketball. Well, we both work full-time and we obviously both have 2 kids. So, why did he have time and I didn’t? He’s not a jerk who thinks he’s more important. He was encouraging me to do something.

Why are we doing this to ourselves? We are either 1- Being selfless in the truest sense of the word, or 2- Playing the victim and using our mommy-ness as an excuse. Both are unacceptable!

In the first scenario, being selfless literally means having little or no concern for oneself. Your children are going to learn about self-worth and confidence from you. Do you want to teach your daughter that her identity isn’t important as long as everyone else is happy? Do you want to teach your son that he should expect his wife to make constant sacrifices for her family? And, as I’m sure you have heard on Oprah, you can’t take care of others if you cannot take care of yourself!

In the second scenario, playing the victim is even worse. You probably don’t even realize you are doing it. I didn’t! What did I get out of being the victim? I got to hear my husband say things like, “You’re the best mom” and I heard other people say “I don’t know how you do it all”. And, best of all, I got a believable excuse! I can tell you it is a hell of a lot easier to say you can’t work out because of your kids then to actually work out.

Are you getting a little defensive right now? Do you feel like I’m oversimplifying? I probably am, but my point still stands. I said it before in my ‘grind my gears’ blog, but your life is filled with what you are committed to. If you commit to living the lifestyle of the martyr, that is what you will become. Having kids IS hard! No one is going to argue that. But, kids should also enhance your life, not stop you from living a full, happy, healthy life. Take some control make a list of things you would like to do more (i.e. read, work out, see more movies, hang out with girl friends, start a blog!, etc.). Once you have the list make a plan, ask for support, and do it. I’m still a work in progress, but at least I am moving in the right direction now.

1. Jeeps with no doors: We get it! You are adventurous, you live on the wild side, you wave at other Jeep owners- amazing. How is it that I have to strap my children into the back seat until they’re 30 like we are about to travel thru a meteor shower, but you can drive in a car without doors?!?

2. Jared from Subway, Howie Mandel, and Sarah Palin: The first two I have no good reason to dislike. It’s a quality I can’t quite explain. The third one I don’t have the energy to explain. She bugs me on a level that few people in history have reached.

3. Vague, Whiny Facebook Posts: Oh, you’re bored? You had a bad day at work? Do you think your 465 FB friends need to hear that? And, what’s even worse than that is the posts like, “I can’t believe that just happened!” Or, “I got the worst news today!” If you are not going to explain what is going on, don’t post it! Don’t go fishing for concern on FB- it’s annoying. I know that sounds harsh and you might be thinking, “I don’t care about the 600 pictures of your kids.” That’s fair, but at least my kids make some people smile. If it makes one person happy, it makes me happy.

4. People who complain about all the drama: In my vast experience I have observed there is a direct correlation between people who complain about ‘all the drama’ and people who create drama. If there is one thing that I know to be true is that your life is filled with things you are committed to. If you commit to no-drama and happiness, that is what you shall have. If you commit to drama and adversity in your life that is what you will have. Whoa, that got a little deep. But, it is true none-the-less.

5. Throwing garbage out the car window: Are you kidding me? You can’t just leave it in your car until you get to your destination?!? You are so selfish that you can throw it out the window and think, “not my problem”? Shame shame shame. We should literally be allowed to rear-end cars that litter on the roads.

6. Pink: I know I already named celebs that annoy me, but I had to add Pink in a separate category. Sorry, Pink, but you are no different than all the other pop stars. Oh, you’re edgy because you aren’t as pretty as Brittney? You still sing lame pop music and your voice isn’t good either. I know that seems mean but I don’t think she is cool because she writes her own lyrics. “Have you ever thrown a fist full of glitter in the air?” No I haven’t. Frankly, that just sounds messy.

With all the debate and controversy over the health care reform in our country, I feel like I am going to lose my mind. There is so much BS and non-sense out there that I thought I would share my thoughts because I am sure you are all dying to know my opinion on ‘obama-care’ (there really should be a sarcasm font).

A little background information: The United States (at last ranking) was ranked 37th overall in health care. 37th! That puts us behind Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Cyprus. But some good news- we just edged out Slovenia. At the same time our rank is 37 for overall health care, we are #1 for health care spending. We’re #1! We’re #1! Meanwhile, we rank 39th in infant mortality. This statistic is absolutely outrageous! We should be appalled and marching thru the streets over this. All of those conservative pro-lifers should be up in arms! If you truly want to protect every life- lets provide health care for our pregnant women or help prevent pregnancy in the first place (but I digress..). And lastly, we are the only industrialized nation to not have universal health care.

So the health care reform calls for many things-some great things. For example, Insurance companies would not be able to deny your claim because of pre-existing conditions. I think most of us can agree that this is a good thing. The issue that is making the tea-party so crazy is the section that requires ALL Americans to have some type of health care. People are arguing that this is unconstitutional and the government is over-reaching, etc. The popular argument is that if the government can make you buy health insurance, what is to stop them from making us buy/eat broccoli? Yeah, because that is the next logical step.

Why do we make people buy car insurance? We have this law in place so that if someone hits you and it is their fault, you will be able to receive some sort of compensation. It protects the innocent driver that is not at fault and does have insurance. I know what you are thinking, “But not everybody has to drive. If you can’t afford car insurance you can choose not to drive.” I hear this argument all the time. Hate to break it to you, but it’s not that simple. Bottom line, you cannot choose to not have a heart attack. You cannot choose to not have a stroke. What happens if you show up in the emergency room with a life or death situation and you do NOT have insurance? The doctors are not going to ‘choose’ not to save your life. Our society/country saves people. Our doctors will save you, our paramedics will come pick you up and provide emergency medicine. If you don’t have insurance and you are poor, who do you think ends up paying your hospital bills? Everyone else! Hospitals jack up prices to cover the costs of those who can’t pay. It is a vicious cycle. As for the broccoli argument, if you don’t buy broccoli the cost of my broccoli doesn’t go up and I don’t have to pay for your emergency broccoli in the future.

I’m not even going to get into the argument of how having a cheap public option would bring down the cost of private insurance. That is a completely separate post. But I do feel like I need to address the morality issue here. Who are we?!? Since when did we become a society that cared so much more about ourselves than our fellow citizens? Why are we okay with people slowly dying from chronic diseases because they don’t have insurance? Why are we okay with people losing their homes because they can’t pay their medical bills? These are real people, real families. We have people all over the country choosing between dinner and their medication because they can’t afford both. This situation in the richest country in the world- we should be ashamed. The generations before us made sacrifice after sacrifice for the betterment of the country. All we did was become a bunch of entitled brats that think because we made something of ourselves that anyone else could have/should have too, and therefore it’s not our problem. This makes me sad. We need reform. We made a small step in the right direction and we could potentially lose all progress depending on what the supreme court decides. This isn’t a democrat thing, or an Obama thing. This is a human beings thing. We can do better.

My schedule is crazy! I mean REALLY crazy. I will try anything I can to save myself time during the work week. One thing I have started doing is preparing a couple of meals ahead of time on Sunday to save me during the week. Now, I know I am not the first person to have this idea, but I thought I would share what I prepared today and try to inspire some of you for next weekend.

First things first: Let the grocery store help you! Almost all grocery stores now have a delicious rotisserie chicken that you can buy cooked any day/time. These things are amazing and should be every working mom’s secret weapon. Today I bought two! (Sometimes you can even find the day old one that they shredded up, refrigerated and sell for a little less) When you get home from the grocery store, let the bird(s) cool on the counter while you put everything away. 20 mins. and they should be cool enough to handle. Now you just break those suckers down. I usually remove the skin to make the chicken a little healthier. Break the chicken up into little shreds and set aside. This will now be your base for the 3 recipes I have below.

Here’s the thing though: I never use recipes so these are more of ideas than instructions. I like to ‘eye-ball’ and ‘guess’ and throw in a ‘pinch’. All three of these ‘recipes’ are different every time I make them, but you’ll get the point.

Chicken broccoli Casserole: This one is so easy. Take a couple handfuls of the shredded chicken and throw it in a casserole dish with some cream of chicken soup (usually a can of soup and a can of milk-follow measurements on can), chopped broccoli (I buy frozen and microwave it about 2/3 thru), any cheese you like (I usually use some kind of combo like cheddar jack or mozzarella provolone), and egg noodles (cooked very al-dente b/c they will finish in the oven). Season with pepper, onion powder, garlic powder (I usually skip salt with this one because the soup usually has a lot of sodium). Mix all ingredients in the casserole dish (you could also add sour cream or mayo if you want to add a little more tang). Top with more cheese and bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 30 mins. Top with flat leaf parsley. Eat on Sunday night and re-heat for Monday dinner.

Mexican Chicken Soup: This name could be very mis-leading as I have no idea what would be in a mexican soup. That is just what I call it for lack of a more appropriate name. I buy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup. The kind I buy is in the organic section of the grocery store and I buy the low sodium kind. Combine the soup, shredded chicken, a can or bag of frozen corn, a can of black beans (rinsed), and a can of diced tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat. Bring to boil and then let simmer for about 30 mins. to let the flavors mix. Let it cool and refrigerate. This can be dinner on two of the week nights or a couple of lunches during the week. When you go to actually eat it you can add a dollop of sour cream and/or serve with tortilla chips.

Chicken Salad: This is my new favorite lunch!!! I have made this 3 weeks in a row now. Combine the chicken with red grapes-halved, toasted pine nuts or toasted sliced almonds (careful they burn really fast! 4-5 mins on a cookie sheet in the oven), finely diced red onion, light mayo, lemon juice (prob. not even half a lemon), and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. You can serve this over mixed greens, eat with crackers, make a sandwich, but I promise it is good enough to eat out of the bowl with a fork and nothing else. You could have this for at least 3 lunches.

So, with 1 hour of cooking on a Sunday you could make 4 dinners and 3 lunches! Obviously there are a thousand other possibilities with the shredded chicken. You could do fajitas or chicken noodle soup or wraps or just throw the shredded chicken on top of a salad. I promise these are all easy and delicious. A little bit of planning up front and you can spend a littlemore quality time with your kids or husband during the hectic work week. Hope this helps.

These books pretty much consumed my life in the short time it took me to read them. Now that I am done reading them, I find that I want to keep talking about the books. Here are some of my thoughts on what we should learn from the Hunger Games. Spoiler alert: If you haven’t finished the books, you may not want to read!

1. Don’t be so wasteful: Don’t be like the people in the capitol living a life of excess while others suffered! Take a couple of minutes to think about how wasteful we really are. How much food do you throw away because it goes bad before you eat it? How many times have you taken a long shower because it feels SO good? I’m no angel, I probably throw away more lettuce than I eat. But, since reading the books, I definitely think twice. If Katniss can have wild dog stew, I can eat my salad even though I am dreaming of take-out. We could all learn a little from the waste-not, want-not attitude of district 13.

2. Don’t become de-sensitized: Don’t let reality TV and the evening news make you forget that there are real people with real problems out there. Now, I am not talking about white girl problems. I am talking about the real suffering in the world. I know we hear about shootings and war all the time and it can be overwhelming. Don’t forget that people in Iraq and Africa love their babies as much as we do. People in Uganda want a good life just like you do. We are not entitled to a better life because of where we live.

3. Learn to be resourceful: How many of you thought while reading these books, “Well I’d be dead first!”? We are all so clueless because of the easy lives we have led. We live in this suburban bubble. This doesn’t mean that you need to learn to shoot a bow and arrow and kill your dinner. But maybe you can start a garden, or learn about your local environment. Are you fit enough to hike to safety in an emergency? Do you know CPR or how to make a tourniquet? Hopefully this will never be an issue for you and you stay in your bubble, but…..

4. A young girl can change the world: What are we teaching our young people- girls especially? Do they know-not only- their potential but also about their obligation to improve their world/community. I grew up with good parents in a good community and truly DID believe that I could do whatever I wanted. However, no one told me that I would be expected to sacrifice for the betterment of all (maybe they did and I wasn’t listening). That should be a lesson we all learn. Women right now need to step up and be the positive role models our young girls (and boys!) need. If not us, it will be all Snooki and Kardashians and god knows who else.

5. You DO have time to read: I have to give credit to my sister for this one. But how many of you think to yourself “I am a mom, I work full-time, I have no time to read”? How fast did you read the Hunger Games? I have a 3 1/2 year old boy, an 8 month old girl, a full-time job, and I just started a boot camp. I read all three books in 12 days. I can no longer use the excuse that I don’t have time to read. We are obviously just not prioritizing. I love when people say I don’t have time to work out but they have 3 hours a week for American Idol. You make time for what you want. Make time to read!

3-0-my!

Well today is my 30th birthday. It’s funny how different birthdays become when you get older. I went to work, then the DMV, and tonight I will go get my ass kicked at boot camp (now that will make me feel old). All day people have been asking me how I feel about turning 30. I don’t know if I am supposed to feel any different. I realize this is a milestone. It means my 20’s are over. But, honestly, I think I am more excited than anything else. I truly believe that my 30’s will be the best decade yet. If I really think about it: I’m married to a man I love more and more every day, I am DONE having kids, I am healthy, and I enjoy my life right now. To me this is way better than parties at college, or being super poor at 25 (I’m still poor, just not super poor), or the uncertainty of what next year is going to bring. I have learned to love the stability and consistency of my life. I wake up knowing my kids are going to be there making me smile every minute, I know my husband is going to come home and be a good man, and I know I have my own identy completely separate from that. I’m no longer trying to figure out who I am or what I really want and that is refreshing. Obviously I still have a lot to learn and am going to grow and change in ways I’m sure I can’t imagine over the next 10 years, but it is definitely more exciting than scary.

Finally!!!

Well, for those of you who know me, I have been talking about a blog for a LONG time now. Every time a random thought pops into my tired little brain I think, “Oooh, remember that for your blog!” After months and months of waiting we finally replaced our computer and now I can begin.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what my blog should be ‘about’. Should I write about kids, marriage, books, photography, politics, sex, etc? Well, since I am an expert in all categories I decided to break all the rules and write about whatever the hell runs through my head. (hence the title of the blog). So, my posts are probably not going to be very consistent, and definitely not well written, but hopefully entertaining.

I will try NOT to talk too much about my kids (even though are adorable and fascinating) in case it applies to everyone else. I will try NOT to bitch and moan about every day dramas (I feel like the more you talk about ‘hating the drama’ the more you are probably causing it). I will try NOT to be preachy (because that is just annoying). Feel free to call me out on any of these moving forward. Thanks for reading!