Saturday, May 31, 2014

Chocolate Deliciousness

Though I'm definitely not the kind of girl who likes flowers and jewelry, I do like chocolate! But I don't expect hubs to buy it for me since I can get it on sale with coupons and pay with gift cards.

So really it should say that the fastest way to my heart is inexpensive (if not entirely free) chocolate. The End. Good night.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Simple Dinner Dates

Though Howard and I very rarely actually go out on a date and eat at a restaurant anymore, I still get really excited when he comes home from work and we  can have our at home dinner date every night instead! It's much cheaper that way. Plus, when we eat food from restaurants, we find that we have to drink water all night long because of the amount of salt that's used because we aren't used to it. 

Tonight's dinner was really simple. I had defrosted chicken breast and needed to use it tonight, so I just cut it up into pieces and cooked it with a little bit of olive oil. I'm not Italian in the slightest, so I don't mind using sauce from a jar, haha. This was the Emeril vodka sauce. I also had to use two different sized pennes (one was Market Pantry and the other was Barilla) because I had a little bit in each box left from other recipes where I needed to measure the amount of pasta. For the veggie side, I roasted green beans.

It's definitely nothing fancy, but it was rather satisfying! Even the simple, inexpensive dinners with my best friend are still memorable in my eyes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cheating at Dinner

On the days I sub, I go home really tired and not always wanting to make dinner. It really depends on how the day goes and whether I'm with elementary or middle school. Today was definitely one of those days since my body has been achy and not feeling the greatest due to the abundance of tree pollen! Of course, our apartment is in the midst of a TON of trees, so we breathe in a lot more than we did before we were married. It's so bad that I often have to spray and wipe the windshield before I can drive in the morning because it's so thickly caked on! This is actually the hood of our car!

Unfortunately, I discovered last night that I also had a stye in my right eye. My mom said I used to get them a lot when I was really young, but it was still kind of surprising to find one yesterday. I actually had to look it up to make sure that's what it was. Hot compresses have definitely helped, and it's going away on its own, thankfully. Silly me didn't know why my eye was bothering me for the past two or three days. I thought I had smacked my eye or upper cheek and there was a slight bruise or something, haha, because it has happened before if I hit the clothes rack when going to the bathroom in the middle of the night or something.

Those reason were definitely enough for me to cheat at dinner tonight! Okay, to be honest, I definitely would have gotten this deal regardless of how I was feeling since I could go to the Target closer by school where they have a better variety of some grocery items.

This week there is a buy one get one free deal with California Pizza Kitchen. Each one is $6.39, but I also used a $1.50 manufacturer's coupon (on the CPK website) for each as well as a $1.50 off 2 Target printable coupon. I'll gladly pay $1.89 for both of them!

It was funny because when I was on the line getting ready to pay, the husband of the couple in front of me looked at what I was getting and asked, "Is that pizza any good?" I told him that it was pretty good but only when it's on sale! The wife turned around and said, "Everything tastes better when it's on sale!" I did say that they're small though because they really are. I would never recommend getting it for full price, but I can't pass it up when it's just $0.95 for each one! 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Making Envelopes

Since getting my We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board from Custom Crops last year, I admit that sometimes making the envelopes are more fun than making the cards themselves! Before I got the board, I made a few envelopes on a scoring board, but this one works so much easier and the end result looks so much nicer. 

Today one of my good customers texted me with an urgent request to mail her one of the graduation cards she had ordered. I had a set of 6 for her along with other cards ready for delivery, but she didn't make it to church that day. To mail it, I had to make an envelope for the card in the envelope! I used the punch board and made the perfect sized envelope after checking the size restrictions on the USPS website, which you can find right here. I also wanted it to be a bit sturdier, so I put the card between the extra piece of yellow cardstock.


Doesn't it look so professional? I will still definitely order A2-sized envelopes from ClearBags because it's not worth the time or the money to make them for bulk orders. However, when I need one for a uniquely-sized card, I'm glad I have the means to easily make it! Plus, it actually gives me a reason to use my 12x12 in cardstock that I don't use anymore since I use the inexpensive Recollections packs.


I walked to the nearest mailbox, which is close to where Howard gets off for the bus, so we coordinated times so we could walk back to our apartment together. Here's hoping it gets to its destination on time!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Freebies Make Me Smile

Here are two of the recent extra-special freebies I've gotten in the mail lately! First, Howard and I tried entering the sponge giveaway on the Libman Company Facebook site as many times as we could remember. We both won a free sponge from that! It's strange, but I got so excited about it (I actually posted it here when I got the notification that I was an instant winner) because living on our own means having to buy consumables like sponges. Getting two of them for free while being able to test out a company we've never tried before is definitely a fun win.

I was also able to get one item for my PinchMe box the last time free samples were offered. They had a few colors of Sinful Colors nail polish, but by the time I got through (I was subbing that day), there were only a few options left. I chose Anemone, and was happy with it since I don't think I have any other shade like this. It's kind of coral, but it leans more toward the orange side as opposed to the pink side. I was able to get a free sample box today as well when the items were offered at 12pm EST. I only got two, but one of them included another bottle of Sinful Colors in Ablaze, which looks somewhat similar to my wedding color but a little bit more watermelon than raspberry based on the few swatches I saw online.

This is an older freebie offered by Bath & Body Works. Back in March, I signed up for a free soap offer by giving my email address and the email address of a friend, so I sent it to my mom, my cousin, and of course, Howard. Once we got the bar code emailed to us, Howard and I picked them up at the store! I was able to get 3 total because I had actually gone by myself the day before and used the email I had sent to my junk email account. B&BW is notorious for not always sending emails out to all who sign up (I had to contact them via direct message on Facebook to finally get on the emailing list), so that's why I had it sent to my other account as well. These are their new formulas without the "antibacterial" part in it since people were complaining that their soap had triclosan in it, so they did eventually remove it. I guess they wanted everyone to give the new formula a try by giving soap away for free!

Lastly, this is also an older freebie. Whenever there are offers for dog food samples and other pet-related items, I request them for my sister-in-law. I don't know what her dog Smaugie eats, but I figure if it's free, I should just get them anyway and give them to her! I do the same for baby-related things as well since her due date is so soon!

Clearly you can see that it pays to follow the freebies sites online to actually get these items in the mail! Sure, there are a few that never came through, but based on the amount I actually request, I get the majority of them sent to me. Yay for fun mail!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dreaming about Disney

I woke up this morning from a dream I had that Howard and I were riding Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom. It was slightly different than the actual ride, but it was still recognizable. There were a few pauses during the ride, and we found that it was the best opportunity to get pictures when it's normally so difficult to get anything in the darkness. The photos were coming out so well on my little ol' point and shoot camera that I kept thinking about how great it would be to share them in a trip report.

When the dream ended and I got up this morning, I realized I had better finish my DISNEYMOON trip report! It's about time, don't ya think? I wrote 3 updates today and just have one more until it's completely done! I know there might not be any readers, but I'm writing it so that I can look back on all the memories. Then I can move on to a new trip since it definitely makes me happy to write a TR when we don't have any trips planned.

Leaving Animal Kingdom Lodge on the last day of our honeymoon.
Hubs, we should totally go back ...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Lord, the Sky's Still Blue ...

... for my hope is in You ... (anyone remember Point of Grace?)

These pictures are definitely not like the ones hubs takes of the sky, but I just had to snap these two quick pictures when we were in the car coming home from church. That sky was an insanely beautiful blue, and the clouds looked so fluffy!

The one above is right off the Manhattan Bridge, and the one below is when we're closer to home. I really thought it was amazing also to see how dark it looked underneath the clouds despite the bright shining sun above because they were so dense.

Despite how gorgeous it was today, I was very happy to be home a little earlier than normal because I ate a good amount of Chinese food yesterday at the wedding banquet. I easily get sick even when I eat a lot less, but I was hungry yesterday, so I ate more and also didn't have tea because I didn't want to deal with the caffeine issues. The pain I felt starting at the end of this morning's service once we stood up for the doxology was so severe; I haven't felt that way in a long time. There's really only so much that my body can handle especially as it functions without a gallbladder too! That can't be making it any better.

But at least the food was good, haha. I'm doing much better now, thankfully, but I think I'll have to go back to limiting what I eat when it comes to Chinese food!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

It's a Joke ...

There won't be a regular blog post tonight because I'll be busy as you can see in the picture below. 

I'm kidding. Howard and I don't drink anything other than water, lactose-free milk, juice, and some Martinelli's on special occasions. But we are at a wedding tonight, so that'll be our fun evening!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Onesies Banner

When I know ahead of time that I'm going to be subbing in elementary school, I try to have a craft project ready for the kids. I do this for a few reasons:

(1) I like having something to do with the kids just in case we finish the work quickly or the teacher didn't leave enough to do for the entire day. 

(2) I like having something with which I can bribe the kids, haha. I spoke to the class yesterday and told them that if we finished the work and everyone behaved, we could do the special project I had planned for them. We actually were able to finish 5 periods of work in 4 because they focused in the morning so we were actually done with the lesson plans before heading off to eat since right after lunch, there were only 2 periods left. For the most part, they focused on the work so we could have our "fun afternoon," which included celebrating a student's birthday at lunch, a trip to the book fair, and then the art project. By the way, let me just say that I did not in any way rush the lessons, haha! I still taught like I would on any other day, but they really didn't need the full 15 minutes to do the worksheets or answer the questions that were left for them to do after we went over the lesson. Once I saw all the kids were done, we immediately started reviewing it. I would never sacrifice instructional time for a project!

(3) By the end of the day, I am drained doing my best to maintain the structure and keep the kids with such a wide variety of personalities focused. The main reason why I like having a project is so that I myself can have a break! It worked out well yesterday too because the kids would not have been able to focus on work after spending a period at the book fair and seeing their parents. Many of them were also excited about the things they had chosen to purchase. If we hadn't done the history lesson about colonial life before we went to lunch, I don't think we would have finished the 7 or so pages of reading and the questions! 

The last time I did a project with the 2nd grade class, I had to go around and help many of the boys with the folding as they were having issues with my directions. I decided to do something simpler this time, but a lot more personal. 

This past Monday when I subbed for 5th grade, I had lunch with the elementary school teachers. I listened as the 2nd grade teacher talked about her baby shower and some of the ideas she liked (although her family members were telling her that she shouldn't have a say in how things were going to go for her shower!). She mentioned seeing onesies clipped on a string being used as part of the decoration and how much she wanted that for her own shower. I'm glad I heard that because that was why I chose to do this craft with the kids!

I used the onesie image from the B is for Boy cartridge and cut them at 6 inches. It was a pretty simple preparation as I only had to use 8 sheets of paper since I was able to get 2 from each 8.5x11 piece of cardstock. Then I used my Crop-A-Dile to punch holes through a bunch of them at once, so it was super quick. I brought white yarn so that I could string them together and hang them up after the kids were done.

As you can see, some of the girls got really creative and added baby heads to them, haha. They really took the time to make them nice. Since we don't know if the baby is a boy or girl just yet, a lot of them stuck with rainbow colors. Actually, I think one student asked for the colors in the rainbow, and my mom who is a para in the class went over ROY G BIV with them on the board. Thereafter, a lot of them decided to use rainbows!

Though they're not very clear in the pictures, I did have some favorites (ooo, a teacher has favorites, haha). The three worth mentioning are as follows:

  • One of the boys wrote "We are men" and "I am a big man!" on the onesie, which I thought was appropriate because of all the "little man" outfits for baby boys yet it was also still extremely funny to me!
  • One of the girls decided to put a cape on the back of the onesie, which reminded me of all the ones I've seen recently at Target for like Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
  • Lastly, one of the boys wrote "To the baby. I 'heart' the baby," which I thought was so cute!
Unfortunately, there were 2 kids who didn't complete a onesie since one of the boys was chatting up a storm and didn't finish it and another boy had SETSS and then was in the nurse's office. Even so, I think the onesies banner was a great project for this age group. I was hoping the teacher would enjoy the surprise, and she did! My mom told me that she was going to take it down and hang it up at home and possibly even bring it to her shower. I'm so pleased that she liked it!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rewarding Myself with a New Cartridge

Oh dear, did I have a rough day subbing! The last time I subbed for second grade, I had a fairly pleasant day. Today was a bit more difficult because the kids undoubtedly have spring fever! Though there were some pleasant memories of the day (it is still teaching, after all), the handful of students who were misbehaving really drained me. I just feel that there is an obvious difference between the kids who might need correction or encouragement to make the right choices and focus on the work and the kids who make the choice to be disobedient. The important thing right now though is that it's over, haha. Plus, I know that because I was willing to go in, my teacher friends wouldn't have to lose their preps to cover.

Yesterday when I got the email asking me if I could sub, I had already seen that was having a 30% off sale on cartridges. I was looking at the digital cartridge for Create a Friend (I'd have access to it in Cricut Craftroom and wouldn't have to use a physical cartridge). I thought it was $20, but maybe I misread it because this morning I saw that it was $27.99. Then I decided to check Amazon and saw that it was $19.99! I decided that it'd be my reward for going in and that it was worth spending part of my paycheck even though it technically isn't spending a dime since I did use a gift card to get it. Even though I didn't have to pay anything out of pocket, I'm still considering it my reward!

Howard was able to use his sister's Prime account for the free 2-day shipping, so it'll be here soon! Hopefully, by then I will be fully recovered from the stress of the day, haha.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Errands and Such

I had to run errands today since I haven't gone grocery shopping in two weeks. Since I've been using Swagbucks, I try to get things at Target if possible since I'll have gift cards that will cover the cost, but I still hit Pathmark and Stop & Shop for other items. I was super happy with today's purchases because I was able to fill the fridge with fresh vegetables. Plus, I got some treats for us as well in the form of Luigi's ice! Since we don't eat ice cream, we like ice once it gets warm out because our apartment gets kind of stuffy due to the fact that we only have one window. I also made a quick stop at Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up a wedding gift for this upcoming Saturday as well. 

Since I was busy with my "homework" in the morning (as in, clipping coupons and finalizing my shopping list) and then I was out for a bit in the early afternoon, I didn't really have anything planned for tonight's blog post. Once I got the message that I was needed to sub tomorrow, I started working on a simple craft project for the kids IF they behave, so that took up the rest of my time along with cooking a quick dinner. 

With that being said, I'm just going to post a picture of my really tasty lunch from this past Sunday at church! I had been craving "mapo tofu" for a while. It's a Szechuan dish that mixes tofu and meat in a somewhat spicy sauce. Isn't this a beautiful sight?

I actually think I might want it again this upcoming Sunday! Mmm ...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Banner Bird

One of my recent custom card orders was for 4 thank you cards for birthday gifts. Since I wasn't given any specifics in terms of images or anything like that, I had the opportunity to use a cut from the Birthday Bash cartridge that I've never used before. 

The sentiment is from Pink by Design's "Simply Everything" set, which is one of the first ones I ordered from Sarah because of the assortment of phrases. Even though these were thank you cards, I felt that it worked to use something else other than "thank you." Plus, I wanted it to be long enough to fill in the space above the banner. Oh, and I also can't find my Inkadinkado set with all the "thank you" phrases on it! I usually bring that to school when I sub and do art projects with the kids, so it's not with my other stamps in the drawers.

I had fun making them and choosing the bright colors, but I know that if I had to make these in bulk, it'd definitely take a lot of work! The orange pieces for the bird's legs are so tiny! Thankfully, the Tweezerbees make it doable.

Custom orders really get me to use a lot of the images I've never used before! I feel as if I should go through my handbooks to see what else I can cut ...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Celebrating Our 2nd Anniversary

In lieu of a longer blog update, I'm posting this one picture from our wedding day! We both worked today, and we didn't do anything special considering it is a Monday and all. However, my hubs knows his way to my heart as he didn't bring home flowers or jewelry for me because I'm not that type of girl; instead, he brought home a meatball hero and a shrimp parm hero from the city after calling my dad to find the right place to get them, and he brought home two cupcakes from Crumbs!

Isn't my guy amazing? I think so. Love you, hubs!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Happy 32nd Birthday, Gor-gor!

This blog post is dedicated to my older brother Jonathan who turns 32 today! Even though we're both married now and don't see each other that often, I know that my brother still and will always play the eldest sibling role.

Because we're only two years apart, we definitely have had plenty of fights when we were kids and even as teenagers. But since we're both almost in our 30s, I have to say it's easier to remember more of the fun times including all our family vacations to Florida and how we would squish together in the center of the backseat because we were afraid of the random thunderstorms and he would protect me. We'd also spend hours making a fort with my kitchen set and our blankets, playing with the toys we got from Happy Meals, building with Legos, and setting up obstacle courses in the backyard.

Nowadays it's more about the family dinners since we're a family of seven instead of five and all the conversations we have talking about our feelings. Haha, I'm kidding. He hates it when I joke about how we should do that. It's kind of interesting thinking that our family will potentially grow more in the next few years. Then we can all finally go to Disney World! Woohoo!

Happy birthday! May God bless you throughout this upcoming year as you do more for the glory of God!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Copic Refills Haul

As you can see, I've been doing a lot of crafting lately but mainly focusing on Cricut cuts. I know I STILL have to take out my Silhouette Cameo, but when I have custom orders to fill, I need to use the machine that I know backwards and forwards and not deal with trying to learn a new one. I still save all the free SVG files from certain sites and have even purchased a few as well, but I'm relying heavily on my dear ol' Cricut friend. I haven't even been using digital stamps that often either, but I did come across instances where I definitely needed my Copic markers for the Cricut images.

In certain instances, I've used the Copic markers to color in skin tone since I don't have the right cardstock. I was specifically working on a bunch of cute gnomes (I had to clarify and say cute because I know some gnomes can be creepy!) that Cricut offered as the free cut of the week. I was trying to color in parts of it when my E00 Skin White started fading a lot and getting streaky. It was definitely time to buy some refills.

When I initially bought my Copics from and Michaels, I knew that I'd need to buy refills down the road. That's actually one of the reasons why I chose the brand. I liked the idea of it being more environmentally-friendly since there'd be no need to create more garbage by throwing the markers away. Each refill bottle of ink refills a marker several times; it's supposedly 13 times for a Ciao marker (the round ones) and 8-10 for a Sketch marker (the oval ones). I have a mixture of both. 

This was definitely a big splurge for me though as each refill was $6.29! It's a little insane, but I guess if it can be filled many times, it's really only $0.48-$0.63 each time. I didn't buy a bottle for each of my colors but only the ones I really needed. I sat there testing each one out to see which ones were starting to streak and also chose a few extra so I could benefit from free shipping. The majority of this $102.75 order from Blick was covered with what I made from a large 50 card order, so at least I'm taking the money from that and putting it right back into the "business"!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Oven Quesadillas for Dinner

One of the easiest dinners that I make is quesadillas! It seemed like the perfect thing for tonight's dinner considering I had done a lot of organizing and cleaning in the closet so that I could put stuff away because things were getting a little cluttered in the apartment. I remember when I first started making quesadillas after we got married. It took a little longer because I did it on the stove and flipped the quesadillas and had to make each one separately. After doing that for a few meals, I looked up an easier way to make them in the oven and have been doing it this way since.

We buy family pack of chicken breast because it's the best deal, of course. I'll usually make something with one or two of them within a day of purchasing it, but I'll wash the rest of them at the same time and separate them into plastic bags for the freezer. All I have to do for quesadillas is pull out a bag of one large chicken breast and stick it in some cold water to defrost. Then I cut it into strips and cook it on the stove with a little bit of olive oil. In the past, I used to use the Perdue Short Cuts because it would eliminate the step of having to defrost, cut, and cook the chicken, but it's really silly not to just do it myself to save money. Plus, it tastes better when I cook the chicken myself. In the past, I've also cooked chicken breast with just a little bit of water in the crockpot for 4 hours on high. When that's done, the chicken can be shredded and then frozen although that sometimes gets a little bit of the freezer taste to it when used in salads (though if you heat it up in a pan with a bit of Frank's Hot Sauce for a buffalo chicken salad, it's fine!). That's an easy way to have cooked chicken on hand ready for recipes.

Once that's done, I lay out two tortillas on our largest baking sheet. We still have 2 packs of the flour tortillas in the freezer from the last time I stocked up and bought 8 packs when there was a sale and a great coupon. I'm glad I did that because I haven't had to buy them in months, and I know they're fine in the freezer. I've read that some people put wax paper in between them, but I haven't had any issues separating them even when frozen. 

I divide the chicken and lay it out on the two tortillas and then sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. I still have tons of bags of cheese too from the last great sale! I don't like getting it for more than $1.50, and recently I got the Kraft bags for $0.17 or so because of a sale and coupon too. They last a while in the fridge when not open, but they can also be stored in the freezer as well. That's why quesadillas really are a great meal because I typically have all the fixings in the fridge/freezer! The only thing I didn't have that would make this better was an onion. I don't cook the onion all the way down because we like the extra crunch in there, but I didn't have any to use today.

I put the other tortillas on top and just press them down a tiny bit so that the chicken and cheese are kind of the same thickness all around. I pop it into the oven that has been preheating at 400 degrees for just 10 minutes. I like the bottom to be crispy, but Howard usually likes it a little less crispy. It can go for a little less than 10 minutes since the only thing that really needs to be done is melt the cheese and warm up the tortilla, which doesn't take long. This was a full 10 minutes in the oven though because I knew there was more chicken. You can see in the picture below that the bottom gets nice and crispy without any oil that would have been required if doing this in a frying pan on the stove!

I'm sure it'd be better if they were in the oven for 5 minutes and then flipped for the remaining 5 minutes because then it'd be even on both sides, but Howard and I really aren't picky about it. Why complicate things? I'm sure that if I were making this for other people, I'd be good about flipping it, but when it's just us, it doesn't really matter. As long as one side is crispy, it'll hold up to the salsa that we put on top (and sour cream for me if we happen to have it!). 

I like having simple dinner "recipes" like this for the nights when neither of us want to spend much time cooking or we didn't prepare for a more complicated meal. It can be made somewhat last minute since the defrosting is really the only thing that must be done ahead of time. The best thing is that it's also cheap and somewhat "healthy" in comparison to any meal from a chain restaurant like Chili's or Outback, which is where we used to get dinner when we were dating. I anticipate making chicken quesadillas for dinner when we have little ones too!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Graduation Bear

Because it's already May, the time for graduation is here! It's kind of crazy thinking that at the end of the school year, it can feel as if the year flew by, but throughout the first 85% of the year, it seems as if it's just crawling. 

I had a custom order to fill that was for 6 graduation cards. Of course, I went back to the trust Teddy Bear Parade cartridge. I had actually seen other more basic cards on Pinterest that I wanted to try, but I figured they might be too clean and simple for a card order. 

As I've said before about this cartridge, sometimes it's strange seeing how there are so many unnecessary layers when cutting out the clothing items, but when they're put together, it makes sense because then the cut has a little bit of dimension instead of just being one flat piece. 

I thought about using the same layout that I used the last time I made graduation cards with this bear, but I don't have many sheets of the alphabet paper so I decided to change it a bit. I feel that the plaid was a little academic-looking while still being colorful, so I went with that for half of the base so as not to be too overwhelming. With some ribbon and an extra blue mat, the card was assembled. The last thing that was needed was a sentiment from Pink by Design's "Scripted Year."

Yay for completing another card order! Finishing 6 feels like an accomplishment, and it's just enough to typically utilize the full sheet of paper for particular layers. Now to focus on a large 50 card order once again!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

When We Said "I Do": Part IV

Being an overly anxious person who worried about the major and minor things in life is one of the reasons why I wasn't looking forward to our wedding day. I don't like new experiences and get really nervous about having to deal with them for the first time. I remember how I still got nervous for the first day of school even after teaching for a few years! The worries do tend to make it difficult to eat because I just lose my appetite entirely, but I know that if I don't eat anything, I will feel faint later on so I force myself to down a few bites of a bland item.

I was anticipating the anxiety the morning of the wedding and figured I wouldn't be able to eat until the ceremony was over. However, the strangest thing happened as I woke up extremely early to get my hair and makeup done. I felt fine! It was the oddest calm that I have ever felt when I should have been on edge! The only other time I was at peace like that was before my cholecystectomy, but I knew I was being covered in prayer the day I was to have my good ol' gallbladder removed.

It really was weird that as I sat in the kitchen getting all girly, I was actually willing to eat! My parents had purchased bagels and had cream cheese and avocado. I believe I've mentioned it here before, but due to my slight intolerance to lactose, I started smushing avocado to put on bagels after reading about it in an old issue of Reader's Digest. It kind of stuck and even my family does it now too! It was just the perfect thing to munch on.

Being able to EAT the morning of the wedding!

I know it's not a very attractive picture, but this actually became one of my favorite pictures just because I liked that my being able to eat was captured! Plus, I think my bridesmaid and cousin Nikki in the back is quite adorable with the rollers in her hair as she opened the fridge for a drink.

I have to say that I also really like the little hoodie that I wore the morning of my wedding too! I think I purchased it either at Walmart or JCPenney years ago. It was one of my favorite buys, and I actually used it as my light jacket at our church's retreat in July 2007. I just thought it'd be fun to post this picture on the last day of retreat when Howard and I were becoming really close friends once again after we broke up the year before. This is why Tuscarora really was a great place for hubs to propose because we really did have so many memories there.

Using it as my top on wedding morning was practical because then I didn't have to worry about taking off a t-shirt that might mess up my hair after it was done and it had some sentimental value as well because of the above picture. Even now that picture makes me smile!

(Read Part I, Part II, and Part III of the series)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bears Play Basketball

When I was working full-time, I knew that doing custom orders wouldn't really be possible because I knew they would stress me out. However, over the past year or so, I've come to realize that if I didn't have people requesting specific cards, I wouldn't be selling anything! Though I'm not into crafting for the money, I do enjoy what people ask for because it allows me to use cuts that I wouldn't normally use on general cards. This basketball bear (and really a lot of the other bears on this cartridge) is one of them!

My friend who requested this card said that the recipient liked sneakers (Jordan's), basketball, and poker. The only sneaker cut I had was on Nifty Fifties, so I knew that wouldn't work, and I didn't actually have anything that would work with the poker theme. If I get through these orders, I must must must pull out my Silhouette because then I would definitely have a wider range of images that I could use! For this situation though, basketball was it! I asked if a "cutesy" card would be okay, and it was so I immediately went for this bear on the Teddy Bear Parade cartridge. This 2012 birthday gift from the hubs is really getting a lot of use!

I actually made the bear bigger than I normally do because I knew I would cut out "30" to put on the front of the jersey since it was the recipient's 30th birthday. The normal cut has a "1" so I wanted to make sure there was enough room. It's really interesting how the pieces are set to cut. It seems as if there might be wasted paper since, for example, there's a red piece that's the size of the jersey and continues to the stripes on the sides of the pants. But after the cuts are adhered, I realize that the reason for that is to create depth. It wouldn't look as nice if the pants and jersey were just flat without any added dimension. The way it cuts makes the jersey come out more than the pants. Love it!

I decided not to pop the bear like I typically would but popped up the basketball instead. I really like how it turned out! It gives it a 3-D look, making it seem as if the basketball could be in play. The sentiment is from Pink by Design's "Birthday, Birthday" set stamped on a banner cut out using a die from Papertrey Ink.

It was really fun making this card also because I only made one, so I just planned all the cuts on the mat and had to cut just once. It's so different from mass producing, but I do love doing both especially when it's with this cartridge! I wonder if I'll ever use ALL the bears on this cartridge!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Celebrating Mother's Day

This past weekend, Howard and I celebrated Mother's Day with our families. On Saturday, we drove to his parents' house and then we all piled into the minivan to a restaurant in Flushing called Fu Run. Unfortunately, because it was a Saturday night, it did take quite a bit of time to be seated. It was longer than the wait for other patrons because we were a group of 6 and only a few tables would have been to accommodate our group size. We watched as the bigger groups just sat there looking at pictures on their phones even after they were done eating. Seriously? C'mon now! I know that there are some restaurants that don't mind people who linger, but I feel that Chinese restaurants have more of a "order-eat-quickly-move-on-out" especially when there are so many people waiting for tables that the employees are having trouble moving around all of us!

Despite the rather long wait, Howard and I still were able to have some laughs. The restaurant was next to a smaller shop where there were a bunch of men sitting outside on portable stools. One of them brought out this wooden box and opened it for the other men to see. We were making up scenarios as to what was actually going on, and we were entertaining ourselves with our silliness. That is, until a random pigeon decided to fly down from the top of the awning to under an apparently secretive spot under the awning. Then we began giving the pigeon an entire life story, haha. I imagine that we'll do these sorts of things with our kiddies in the future. I truly hope that Luke and Leia will have vivid imaginations and can entertain themselves if we have to wait anywhere (you know, like on line for a ride in Disney World) or sit in the car for a long time (you know, like when driving from NY to Florida for a vacation in Disney World). I'm not against technology, but I don't want it to prevent their thinking and wondering. They should be able to sit in the car and look out the window and have that be enough.

Anyway, we were finally seated around 8:30pm, which was strange since Howard and I are usually thinking about getting ready for bed during the weekdays since he gets up so early for work. The family decided what dishes to order including some of the restaurant specialties like the Muslim lamb chops covered in cumin. I think the funniest one was corn and pine nuts because I had never eaten corn with chopsticks before! They also gave these huge plastic gloves for the pork knuckles although there wasn't much meat on them. The thing I enjoyed the most was the seafood and tofu casserole, which actually came out as a soup. I had been craving tofu for a few weeks, so that satisfied part of the craving. What I hope to get soon is some rice smothered in "mapo tofu" although it is a spicy dish, which is really something I should avoid. Oh well!

After a bunch of us made trips to the solitary restroom, we left when it was already pretty late. I slept going there and returning to their house since I had woken up at 5:45 that morning and actually got out of bed around 6:30am. Once Howard and I actually got back home, we took showers and went straight to bed because we are an old married couple now and can't stay up too late, haha.

Yesterday we went to church and then we celebrated Mother's Day with my mom. After the events at church, Howard and I went with my parents BACK home to actually order food before driving out to my brother and sister-in-law's place. My grandma and Matt were already there because Jon had picked them up from Chinatown. It was nice getting out of church clothes into "home clothes" because it was a lot warmer yesterday than we had anticipated! I also slept in the car on the way to my brother's place. Wearing Sea Bands and closing my eyes to hopefully fall asleep is the best way for me to combat any potential carsickness!

My parents had ordered two specialty pizza pies and 5 entrees along with 2 sides of broccoli rabe from separate Italian eateries near us. I was happy to have some penne alla vodka because I haven't had it in a while along with the broccoli rabe since we don't have leafy greens as often as other veggies. I also devoured a slice of pizza. We had Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on TV, and it just made me so hungry that I was the first to want a slice of pizza to eat while we were watching, and that set everyone into dinner mode, haha. My older brother said he chose that show on purpose.

At one point, my brother popped in The Bible DVD, which originally aired on The History Channel. Last year, many of my 8th grade students would mention what had happened in the previous day's episode when we were in Bible, so it was interesting to watch it for the first time. My mom, sister-in-law, Howard, and I got into a discussion about how they had cast a good looking man to play Jesus, but my mom said that the Bible said that Jesus wasn't good-looking. I was like, "What? It says that in the Bible?" Haha, I was thinking I completely missed a verse that said like, "And thus God spake and said thou shalt not be good-looking" or something like that, haha. But my mom clarified that she was referring to a verse that said Jesus looked common just like everyone else. Today she sent me the verse she was thinking of, and it was the one in the latter part of Isaiah 53:2 that says, "... he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him."

It brought to mind the book The Bronze Bow, which is what the 8th graders always read before they graduate our school. It is an amazing book and probably one of the only books other than the Bible that legitimately changed my life and how I think. It really explains what that verse states, that Jesus didn't draw people to him because of how he looked, but there was still something so special about Him. The way that Elizabeth George Speare wrote these descriptive passages about how Jesus spoke and how intense yet kind His eyes were just wowed me. Definitely worth the read!

Anyway, even though many of the stories were combined in the episodes, I still think it's a pretty awesome representation of what things have been like back then and really makes things more realistic just because we could visually see things. Of course, I personally think that Jesus looked a bit too much like a "pretty boy" to actually be Jesus!

We were all stuffed with food, and we knew we were going to leave early since we had to drive back and people had work today. I did the dishes and gave the plates and utensils a good scrubbing because of how picky my brother is with washing dishes as evidenced in what his best man mentioned in the speech at his wedding! Once that was done and the food was divided (there were a ton of leftovers, and thankfully I changed my mind about taking the rest of the penne home because that was the base of our dinner tonight!), we said goodbye to Jon and Theresa and piled into the car to head home.

It was a lovely way to spend a weekend even though Howard and I don't typically have busy weekends. Now that my older brother and I are both married, it's interesting how we both have two other family obligations whereas in the past, it was a lot easier for plans to be made. I'm glad that it worked out the way it did and that I could spend more time with my own momsicles!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

I came across the following bit of humor on Instagram this morning on @whypayfullprice. My mom and I had quite the chuckle! It just seemed so funny considering I coupon all the time now, and my mom was really the one who exposed me to the world of couponing even though I had initially insisted I would never have the time or patience to do it myself!

On a much more serious note, I did want to wish my mom a Happy Mother's Day! She's been my best friend for as long as I can remember. I still go to her when I need encouragement or a listening ear. Even though I moved out almost two years ago when I got married and don't get to see her every day like I used to, I'm so lucky to live just 15 minutes away and to still go to work together once in a while! 

Despite almost being 30, I still look up to my mom, and there are plenty of areas of my life where I can only pray to be like her in terms of her compassion and dedication to the Lord. I am so grateful that she is my dearest darlingest momsicles!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Not Quite a Mom

When I subbed yesterday, the last class of the day was spent with the 8th grade. They were finishing up the dialogues they had written in preparation for their trip to a Spanish restaurant next week. Nearing the end of the period, there was a knock on the door. It was the new Pre-K teacher with all of the kiddos! They were going to each classroom and giving flowers to the teachers. How adorable!

Though I'm not a mother yet, I still feel that to some degree all teachers are moms in some way. It's not even because the students sometimes accidentally call us mom (haha, two years ago an 8th grader said, "Mommy, look!" to me), but it's because after spending so much time with them, they really do become "our kids." I know that even during this past year when I haven't actually been a full-time teacher at school, I still caught myself saying things like, "My kids ..." even though they're technically not mine anymore! There are times that I've been so proud of what they've accomplished or so happy when they show kindness, but of course, there were other moments when they just got on my last nerve! I guess it's all just preparation for my possible future, right?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Double Lunch Duty Day

I went to work today to sub for the Spanish teacher who is also the pastor who married us almost two years ago! I anticipated a fairly easy day since I actually still remember a lot of the Spanish I learned when I was in school (3 years in junior high, 4 years in high school, and 2 semesters in college since my college advisor kind of pushed to continue with it instead of starting a new language like I had wanted). Though I might not remember the words right off the bat if you were to ask me, a good chunk of it comes back when I actually see it written. Plus, it's still middle school level Spanish and not college level! 

The classes were easy for me and pretty straightforward as 8th grade was working on a project in preparation for their trip to a Spanish restaurant and 7th grade had lessons on "estar + adjective" phrases. I still remembered all the words except I did learn the word apurado (ex. "Estoy apurado" = I'm in a hurry). Those were the easier periods of the day. But then I also had lunch duty. Twice. Yes, I had to do lunch duty for both lunch periods!

First lunch is always easy as it's all the middle school kids and Pre-K and kindergarten. The assistant teacher is with the Pre-K kids, so they're always under control. A few of the kids in kindergarten might need a gentle reminder to continue eating their lunches, but other than that, they're also well-behaved as well. Middle school is the easiest. The only issues might be calming a handful of the girls who get a little loud, but other than that, they know the rules of the lunchroom and follow directions.

Unfortunately, second lunch is a completely different story with the 1st through 5th graders. The 3-5th graders are usually well-behaved, and even if they get a little rowdy, a simple correction or a nice "You won't have recess" threat gets them in line. The younger ones are a handful though as there's a constant need for "Sit down the right way; I don't want you to fall" or "Why are you out of your seat?" The elementary school kids also have higher pitched voices, so their voices seem much louder to my ears. 

Recess gets even crazier whether they're in the gym or outside. Since there was supposed to be rain, I kept them indoors so the chaos was a little bit more insane. I had to deal with a lot of reprimanding and dealing with minor injuries and a few tears (from a kid, not from me, haha). One of the boys had a sweatshirt that zipped all the way up to the tip of the hood to completely cover his face. He zipped it up, and I told him that he wasn't allowed to have his hood on like that in school, so he undid it. Just a minute or two later, it was zipped up again all the way so I told him to sit out because was disobedient right after I corrected him. Immediately, the pleading began. "Can I just have one more chance?! I promise I won't do it again!" No amount of begging would change the consequence, but once he sat down, he started saying, "Is it for all of recess? When can I get up? Can I go play?" No, kid, NO! The more he asked, the more it reaffirmed my decision for having him sit out for the rest of recess, which was really only 5 minutes anyway.

Besides, I had to deal with two of the upper elementary school boys who were arguing about accidental versus intention "tackling" when grabbing the basketball in their game of Knockout. I said to them that if they couldn't get over whatever happened, they could both just sit out and not play at all. Sometimes it's kind of funny noticing that more of the drama occurs with the boys than it does with the girls!

When the bell finally rang, I looked at my mom who has to experience second lunch every day and mouthed, "Thank God!" Phew, I survived. Haha, and the kids did too. Even though there are some kids who continuously misbehave and need correction, I also do love seeing the quieter ones or the helpful ones who make it easier on me. There were a few younger boys who were trying to protect a group of girls as they reenacted a wedding because some naughty boys were trying to mess with their pretending. Then there were two other boys who were helpful in getting all the balls collected and put back in the sack. I see the kids like that and know that their parents taught them well!

I was exhausted by the end of the day and eagerly awaited my return home! My mom and I stopped by just a few places on the way back to the house. One of the stops was AC Moore, but I didn't part with any of my money because I really felt that I worked really hard today to earn it! I did snap a quick picture of one of my favorite parts of the store. I just like seeing such a wide assortment of colors when it comes to the two widths of ribbon that I purchase. I was going to pick up some white or silver since those neutral colors work well for treat bags and such regardless of the cardstock color or pattern, but then I just couldn't deal with the idea of spending part of today's paycheck! I'll be back for them in the future when I need 'em! It just makes more sense to purchase it there as it always has the outlet pricing since I wouldn't exactly use 50% coupons at Michaels, haha.

But for now, I think the reward for a long day is going to be SLEEP. Oh, how wonderful that sounds, doesn't it?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Here's the Mail It Never Fails ...

With all the freebies I request online, getting the mail can be really exciting! Today was a fun day as I got my box from Sample Source, which included a pack of Eight O'Clock coffee, a sampling of Garnier shampoo, a Breathe Right strip, a Colgate toothbrush, and two kinds of Tums. I've mentioned it before, but I really enjoy trying new items through samples because I'm responsible for purchasing items like these for the two of us. Getting to test things out before shelling out any money makes it a lot easier to make the decision to buy later on. And of course, even if there are a lot of items that are similar, I am more willing to buy the one I had already tried so it's a smart move on the manufacturer's part!

This other freebie was really exciting! On National Pretzel Day, Auntie Anne's had an offer on their Facebook page. I just happened to wake up from a nap on that Saturday in time to sign up with my account and on Howard's Facebook account. Yay for two coupons for FREE pretzels! 

I wonder what will come in the mail tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bathroom Floor-ing It

I was dealing with so much pain today that it had me feeling so nauseous. I'm so grateful I said no about going to work today because I don't know what I would have done. I was fine pretty much all morning, but when I got up from a quick nap, I was hit with all of it at once. Spending time on the bathroom floor near the toilet and garbage was the only thing I could do until it passed. I just kept telling myself, "At least I'm at home; at least I'm at home" since Howard was sick last Monday at work and had to commute home! 

The acetaminophen I took finally kicked in a bit, and I started feeling better. Once I got back to bed, I just watched some itsjudyslife vlogs on YouTube until Howard got home. I was hungry at that point since I hadn't really eaten, and he so kindly made a sandwich for me and got some Vitamin Water for me. Thanks for taking care of me, hubs!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Five Months and It Happened

Alas, I knew the day would come at one point or another where I totally didn't post on the blog for the day. In the past, I've adjusted the time on updates that I was writing late in the night, but I never completely skipped a day. After proctoring in the morning and then helping with office work in the afternoon, I was just so tired by the time I got home. Combining that with the pain and fatigue I had started to feel earlier in the morning, there was no way I had energy to do anything. I took a shower and then went to bed. I didn't even eat dinner, brush my teeth, or dry my hair! The hubs woke me up at one point, but there was really no way I was even moving. I'm really glad I said no to subbing/proctoring today because it's just the Tylenol and me.

Even so, it's kind of a disappointment that I missed a day, so even though it's already Wednesday morning, I am going to post this as Tuesday. I typically like including pictures in posts, so I decided to use this one, which is my older brother and me at MGM long before it was DHS. Haha, our faces are hilarious. We're in Disney World; why are we not smiling?! The expressions just fit this update because it's like, "Did you seriously skip posting on time? We're so disappointed in you."

Monday, May 5, 2014

Looking Forward to the 5th!

Today is an exciting day not because it's Cinco de Mayo but because the 5th of each month is when Swagbucks pays out the monthly bonuses! As the new day resets, there's a Daily Goal set by Swagbucks. If you reach that goal, you get bonus SBs on the 5th of the following month. If you reach the second goal, which is called the Total Goal, you get even more bonus SBs! The great thing is that if you are consistent with attaining the Daily Goal, you can get winning streaks. For example, if you get your Daily Goal seven days in a row, you'll get an extra 25 SB. I know it doesn't seem like much because that's only equivalent to $0.25, but it's still $0.25 you didn't have beforehand! Plus, you've all seen how I've paid for CVS hauls with just pocket change like that! Then it's even better because reaching the goal for 30 days means an extra 300 SB/$3!

I went back to check my ledger to see how much I made in bonuses alone. I signed up for SB at the end of last August, but I really didn't do much other than the Daily Poll and NOSO. The reason why I started it was because I had a crafting/couponing friend who said she printed her coupons from Swagbucks because when they're redeemed, she would get 10 SBs. I figured I was printing coupons out anyway, and they were the same ones so I might as well see if it would do me any good. I didn't anticipate it turning into a great way to purchase the fun things I wouldn't have spent money on out of pocket (seasons of Top Chef on iTunes) and even the necessary things like groceries (Target gift cards)! At this point, I've claimed $265 in gift cards and am currently waiting on another $75. Plus, I have the equivalent of $34 right now that I haven't yet "spent." 

I've really taken advantage of the bonuses though, so that's why I really enjoy the 5th! Take a look at the last few months compared to April. From bonuses alone, I got the equivalent of $10.38 since each SB is pretty much worth one penny (unless you're getting those $5 Amazon cards that are only 450)!

I love that it has and is going to continue helping us pay for our groceries and also the gifts that we are purchasing for our friends and family members who are having babies. Of course, you know I'm going to have to end by including my referral link once again (click here to sign up!)! Thank you to those of you who have used that link to start earning SB too!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cuz I Married a Geek ...

... I am posting a "May the Fourth Be With You" update for today! I admit that I haven't watched all the Star Wars movies at this point. I have watched the original three a few times when I was a kid because either my dad or my older brother had it on the TV at home. However, I don't really remember everything from the movies, and I'm sure I didn't understand it all either! I think this 3-year old knows the plot better than I do even now! We've watched this cutie on YouTube so many times because she's adorable as she retells the story as she sees it.

One day I will watch the movies. Eventually. Maybe. Okay, I probably will since I totally promised Howard a long time ago way before we went on our Disneymoon during Star Wars Weekends. In the meantime, I'll just wear the one Star Wars-related merchandise I have, which is this bow from abowtiqueshop on Etsy and enjoy riding Star Tours over and over again in hopes of getting all the different scenarios!

Hope you all have a wonderful week!