Books and Cupcakes

My mom and sister came to visit over the weekend and it was so nice to have a girls night!  It's been a long time since just the three of us have done anything together.  They got here around 3:30 and we headed straight for Barnes & Noble. 
We all love going to the bookstore, and it's always a mandatory stop because the nearest bookstore to them is about an hour away!  My mom was super awesome and told us she would buy us each a book if we found one we liked.  I chose this one:
My collection of writing how-to books is growing.  Writing a novel or short story has been something I've always been interested in doing...(or maybe it's just the process of dreaming up characters and plots-I haven't decided).  I found this one to be quite interesting and fun. 

After leaving the bookstore we walked across the street to the Cupcakery.  Anytime my mom visits, a stop for cupcakes is a MUST. 
This one was my favorite! I can't remember what it was called, and it isn't listed on the online menu...but it was DELICIOUS!  I love the colors too-so pretty!

We stopped at El Fenix after that for an early dinner before heading back to the apartment.  We spent the rest of the evening watching movies while nearly sending ourselves into diabetic comas from eating some of those cupcakes.  Seriously...those cupcakes wore us out!  We ended up calling it a night at about 10:00.  We had a big breakfast at a cafe down the street before they went on their way.  It was so nice having a day for just the three of us.  We definitely need to do it more often!  I'm off to read some of my book now!   

Currently / 5

It's becoming a routine to stop by The Original Cupcakery downtown when my mom comes to visit.  Soooo yummy!

Anticipating having a nap after going hiking today!

Planning on spending 30 minutes a day on my new bike and bike trainer this week!

Watching the newest episode of Game of Thrones tonight!

Missing my mom and sister.  They came to visit and we had a such a great time!

Loving how clean my apartment is right now.

Going hiking as soon as Matthew gets here to pick me up :)

Making Me Happy:  Everything is FINALLY green again.  I love Spring :)

FF #5

As part of my big plan to become one of those amazing people who work for themselves (YAY!), I've decided to bring back the much needed Frugal Friday series!  After ending the series last year, I fell off of my frugality routine and went back to the same old paycheck to paycheck style of living that I was on before.  Shameful I tell ya!  I've never really been all that great at creating a budget and sticking to it.  I'm working on it now though!  I signed up with (which is amazing by the way.  SO neat!), and it's made it so much easier to track where my money is going every month.  I'm ashamed to admit that aside from bills, most of my money was spent on "Dining Out".  No wonder I've gained 10 pounds over the last year!  Geeez!  So my Frugal Friday tip (and new goal for myself) is to cook more meals at home and spend less on fast food and eating out. 

It's so easy to fall into the routine of grabbing something on my way to work, ordering something for lunch with all of my coworkers, and then grabbing something quick on my way home from work.  Aside from the fact that I'm incredibly lazy when it comes to cooking for myself, I also don't pack enough snacks to keep myself from being super hungry by the time I get off work.  My shift is normally 10 hours with a 15 minutes lunch break thrown in.  When clock-out time rolls around, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking.

Instead of swinging by the donut shop (which in my case is directly across the street from my workplace),Starbucks, or any other quick stop breakfast place you can think of, make something quick and healthy at home instead.  Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Smoothies
  • Wheat Toast with (Almond or Peanut) Butter and Sliced Bananas
  • Oatmeal or Grits with Fresh Fruit
  • Good ol' Scrambled Eggs with Bacon
  • Healthy Cereal (my favorite is Cheerios with Sliced Bananas or Strawberries!)
Instead of spending the extra money on one-time meals with Co-workers, pack a lunch instead!  Here are some of my favorites:
  • Sandwich or Wrap with a side of Veggies & Dip
  • Soup & Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Tuna or Chicken Salad with Pretzel Crisps and Veggies
  • Leftovers from whatever was for Dinner the night before.
This one is the one that gets me ALL the time.  As I said before, I'm hungry by the time I get off work and the last thing I want to do is have to spend the time cooking when I get home.  The solution for me is going to have to be 1) taking more snacks to work, and 2) just DO IT!  So here are a few ideas for cook at home dinners that are quick & easy to make and inexpensive as well.
  • Pasta & Salad
  • Panini Sandwich with side of your choice
  • Baked Potato
  • Tacos
  • Stir Fry
I dont' know about you, but I absolutely love snacking.  I've been failing lately on bringing snacks with me to work...I don't know how to explain this-considering my love of snacks, but it's true.  Perhaps making a pretty sign to post in my kitchen will remind me not to forget them.  Here are my favorites:
  • Grapes with String Cheese
  • Ants on a Log (Celery Sticks with (Peanut or Almond Butter) & Raisins.)
  • Pretzels with Hummus
  • Trail Mix with Fruit of Your Choice
  • Yogurt
  • Boiled Egg
  • Nut Mix
So now that you have some ideas to start with, make a list for the week and make one big trip to the grocery store.  If I don't take care of everything in one trip, I'll end up making lots of trips...which means I'll probably make impulse buys each time.  Impulse buys = BAD!  :)

What are your favorite meals to cook at home? 

Escape Plan!

When I think about my future and what I would like for my life to be like...the most important aspect for me is being able to work for myself so that I can BE myself.  I crave a sense of living my life on my terms and not someone elses schedule.  It's gotten to a point where I just feel defeated.  I've been feeling trapped and unable to decide what it is that I actually want to do in order to make this goal a reality.  Over time, the two options that appeal to me the most and that I keep coming back to are Web Design and Photography.  Of the two, Photography is the one that I'm most passionate about and would like to focus my time on.

I've read and re-read Sarah's post on how she made the escape so many times that I've lost count...and I am so inspired by the life she's created for herself.  She's amazing.  So I've decided to take the advice she's given in that post and making a plan for myself!

What do I need in order to get started?
  • New Camera Gear
  • New Computer
  • Photoshop
  • Portfolio
  • Organized Workspace
  • Less Expensive Living Arrangement
  • Savings that will last me at least 6 months in expenses
So where do I go from here?
Well first things first, I have plenty to save up for.  The first three things on the list are NOT cheap by any means, but they ARE necessary.  That means I need to become very comfortable creating and maintaining a budget.  This in itself will be a challenge for me, but I can do it!  I hope to at least be able to save enough for new camera gear by August, because there's a course that I'd really like to take that begins that month.  While I'm saving up for the computer and Photoshop, I'll start practicing and building my portfolio by doing portraits for friends and family.  I just renewed my lease for another year this month, so this time next year, I'll be moving in with Matthew and my living expenses will be cut in half.  YAY!  Hopefully by that time I will have 6 months worth of expenses saved up, and can drop down to working part-time or less and can take on clients outside my circle.  I'll constantly be working on and revising this plan (which is very basic right now), but I hope to share much much more of my journey here on the blog.

Do you work for yourself or hope to someday?      

Currently / 4

A photo I took of a grasshopper a couple of years ago.  I'm saving up for a new DSLR camera and gear.  I want to get more serious about photography and be the best that I can be.

Anticipating a good nights sleep tonight. Tomorrow's gonna be a looong day.

Planning on starting my day with a green smoothie (I've never made one before!)

Watching How To Train Your Dragon.  Such a cute movie :)

Missing free time.  I have a feeling I'm going to have less and less of it over the next few months.

Loving my living room re-arrangement.  There's so much more room in here now!

Going to bed shortly.

Making Me Happy: Planning for change and dreaming up ideas for where I'd like to be in 5 years. 

Currently / 3

I decided to color my hair hair yesterday.  I used Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Color Black Auburn.  I didn't realise it was going to have so much red, but I really love the way it turned out.  My hair has gotten so long that I really needed to use two bottles.  I thought I had it all covered when I finished the bottle I bought...but apparently I missed a bit of the roots in the back.  I think next time I'm going to go all black :)

Anticipating episode 3 of Game of Thrones tonight!

Planning on going to the Rangers game Friday night!

Watching The Big Lebowski!  Jeff Bridges is a sexy beast! 

Missing my little brothers.  I'm hoping to meet up with them sometime soon for a Drive In movie night!

Loving this extremely lazy Sunday.  I love having days where I can just wake up late and stay in all day watching movies and catching up on a bit of reading. 

Going absolutely nowhere for the rest of the day :)

Making Me Happy:  Sprinkles and Brando being affectionate towards each other. They normally only tolerate one another. It's so cute when they play!