Monday, March 31, 2014

The 30-Day Living Well and Spending Less Challenge

Earlier today I was reading one of my favorite mommy blogs, "Living Well and Spending Less", and I saw something about a no-spending challenge. I'm always looking for new ways to save money, so I checked it out. The plan on the LWaSL blog is for 31 days and only allows for spending on absolute necessities. I talked it over with my husband and we decided to do it for 30 days (the entire month of April) and to only spend money on absolute necessities plus a few time-sensitive extras (we need to pay to ship my sister's wedding present and we need to get 1-2 of Liam's birthday presents because his birthday is in the beginning of May and I hate to get his gifts last minute).
I'm really excited to start this challenge, and not just to save money for Liam's birthday party in May. I think that going one month without spending money on dining out, excessive trips to the grocery store for non-essential food *ice cream, chips, alcohol, etc.*, entertainment, and things like that will help us realize what we really need vs. what we think we need. Nate and I put money into a savings plan monthly, which is good, but we need to reign in our spending and be a little more frugal. I'm not saying by any means that it's going to be easy. I'm going to miss my Dunkin Donuts iced coffee like crazy. You don't even know. However, I really feel like this will be good for us in the long run.
As we progress through the month I'll post updates on how we're doing. With a little bit of support and a lot of will power (I still love you, Dunkin Donuts coffee! Mama will be back eventually!!) I think we can rock this challenge!

31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero.  Freeze your spending.  Change Your Life.  Awesome way to reset your spending patterns or kick-start your budget!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Economy Meals: Grilled Peruvian Chicken and Asparagus

Time for Economy Meals: Grill Edition! Tonight we're having Peruvian chicken and asparagus cooked on the grill *yum* I love this quick and easy (and cheap) marinade for chicken, and it's good cooked on the stove top too if you don't have a grill or don't like to grill. I have no idea how to properly operate our charcoal grill, but that's what my husband is for.

Peruvian Chicken and Asparagus

Ingredients for Chicken

  • 4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts (I cut mine into serving size pieces)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tbs. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
Ingredients for Asparagus

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Mrs. Dash Steak Seasoning (I use the salt free version to control sodium content in my food)

  • In a large ziploc bag mix oil, lemon juice, and spices. Add your chicken, zip up the bag, and then massage your chicken to mix it all up. Place your bag into the fridge for about 2 hours or until you're ready to cook. Make sure you take your chicken out of the fridge 15-20 mins before grilling so your meat doesn't seize up. 
  • For the asparagus, make sure to give them a good wash and then dry them. Cut the tough ends off, and then cut your asparagus on the bias into 2-2.5 inch pieces. Toss them in a little olive oil and then add the steak seasoning to taste. I also add a scant amount of salt. *SIDE NOTE*- This steak seasoning is great on veggies of all kinds. I like to grill a vegetable mix of brocoli, onions, whole garlic cloves, asparagus, carrots, and occasionally mushrooms. Fresh pineapple spears mixed in with the vegetables is also quite tasty, and it really brightens them up.-

  • Next step, fire up the grill! Cook your chicken on the grill until done (165 degrees internal temp). You can grill your asparagus in a grill basket like we do (see the easy way*) or you can make little foil packets to grill them in if you prefer. Your asparagus will only take about 8-10 mins to cook, depending on how you like them. We prefer ours still a little crispy (soggy asparagus are gross in my opinion). If you like yours a little smushy add on 5 mins to your cook time.

I have to say thank you to my wonderful husband for manning the grill! Thanks, Nathan!
  • After you remove your food from the grill allow the chicken to rest for a bit before you cut into it to keep it from getting dried out.
We had this for dinner tonight, and it was a crowd-pleaser. Add on a starch of your choice and you have a balanced meal. I love this for a week night dinner in the spring/summer because I usually have all the ingredients in my spice cabinet for the marinade, so it's super easy. Also, grilling veggies is a fast and tasty way to change up routine vegetables. You can only steam, roast, and sautee so much, ya know? Anywho, I hope you enjoy the recipe!

Monday, March 24, 2014

One Month In

It's been a month since Owen was born, and it's passed by in a blur.

Owen at 1 month old!

Sometime in the last month my little Liam was potty trained by my Mom and husband (with a little help from me). He's not so little anymore! I can't believe my sweet boy is out of diapers. However, I also have to say WOOHOO! No more buying boxes of expensive diapers for us! And, believe it for not it took us less than a week to potty train him. Liam had a meltdown the first day and acting like sitting on the potty was torture, but after he got over it potty training was a cinch. He caught on so quickly, and he's even been dry at night. Liam's so proud of his big boy underwear, and it's adorable.
Liam's potty meltdown on day 1 of potty training

While Liam and I concluded our diaper journey together, Owen and I have just entered the wide new world of cloth diapers. I started CDing Owen after his circumcision healed and his umbilical stump fell off (about 3 weeks ago today). So far, we've been doing pretty well. I've developed quite an obsession with cloth diapers; learning about them, learning how to properly wash them, brand comparisons, and shopping for them. Every time I start talking about pocket diapers vs. covers and prefolds or what brand I want to start buying my husband rolls his eyes and sighs. But really, what did he expect? This is ME. Market research queen!! Plus, this whole cloth diaper thing was his idea in the first place. He only has himself to blame.
My new Rumparooz cover! Adorable!

Today my husband goes back to work and I return to my work at home job as well. Managing the home, handling the kids, and going back to my part-time WAH job is going to be a challenge. I feel up to it, though I am realistic: it'll take us all a little while to get into a good routine. Wish us good luck!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Breathe Through the Pain. Right.

We have a new addition to our little family! Our baby Owen arrived February 24th (15 days early). My husband was overjoyed and my Mom came all the way from VA as soon as she heard I was in labor. She got to the hospital 30 minutes after Owen was born, and she stayed with me in the hospital until I was released. *shout out* Love you, Mom!
Owen was born after 18 hours of labor, and let me tell you that was the longest 18 hours of my life. I (in my infinite wisdom) made a spur of the moment decision NOT to get the epidural that I had planned. Every birth is an intense experience for parents, and not getting an epidural made it all the more intense for me. I'm not sorry about the decision that I made, but I can honestly say that if my husband and I decide to have another baby a few years down the road, I'll probably get an epidural. I'm glad that I experienced childbirth without drugs, but I can't say that I'm super excited to do it again. Talk about pain! Ouch! And let me just say, people telling you to "breathe through the pain" should be smacked.

Owen  6lbs 11oz 19 inches long

Liam is adjusting pretty well to Owen's arrival. At first he acted like Owen was a figment of our imaginations. He completely ignored him. Now he's asking to hold him, and he'll pet him occasionally. He's going to be a great big brother.
Liam holding Owen for the first time!

I started cloth diapering Owen after his circumcision healed. So far I'm CD during the day, but still using disposables at night. Late night changes are hard enough when you're exhausted; I haven't built up to using cloth at night yet. Owen looks so cute with his fluffy little butt though!
Owen's first cloth diaper! I used a cotton prefold in a Bummis newborn cover.

Now it's time for me to capitalize on Owen's nap time while Liam is also asleep and spend some time with my husband. Alone time is so hard to come by.