New Year’s Resolutions

Last year, I regaled you all with my resolutions goals for 2013. I think I kept many of them (except the whole “stress less” one…its kind of tough to do that when you’re preggo or when you’ve got a newborn in the house). But I do think I did pretty well (even though there are still books on my classics list I have yet to get to).

This past year was a big year for me (and Huff the Hubs). I got promoted, became a mother, traveled to London, and FINALLY got my book 100% finished.

My sister that teaches fourth grade and I were talking about New Year’s Resolutions. She said she doesn’t really make resolutions, but she is going to talk to her students about it when they return to school. She showed me an awesome project she’s going to do with them:

I may color mine.

I may color mine.

For each number, there’s a direction:

For the 2: Name the two best things that happened in 2013.

For the 0: Name something you want to STOP doing in the New Year.

For the 1: Your one wish for 2014.

For the 4: Four goals for 2014.

Two best things that happened in 2013:

1. Hermione.

It was literally one year ago today that I found out I was pregnant. I was shocked, obviously. Mostly because I didn’t think it would happen so fast. It was a whirlwind; scary at times, but its been so worth it.

Don't I make cute babies?

Don’t I make cute babies?

2. Getting out of debt.

Huff the Hubs and I had been aggressively working toward getting out of debt from the moment we got married. We both had student loans we needed to pay off and were very serious about taking the shackles off. And we did! Our reward? London, baby!

Hands down, best Abbey ever.

Hands down, best Abbey ever.

Something you want to stop doing in the New Year:

Worrying.

I feel ya, Dr. Cooper.

I feel ya, Dr. Cooper.

I’m a worrier from way back. And, if at some point I’m not worried about something, I worry because I’m basically waiting “for the other shoe to drop”. I hate living like that. I’m ready for some peace of mind, yo. I have been to counselling and I’ve read some good books (like this one!) and its really helped me A LOT. But I still wake up in the morning terrified of the potential bad the day could hold. I want to wake up in the morning feeling excited about the possibilities, not terrified. So that’s the goal: STOP. FREAKING. WORRYING.

Your one wish for 2014:

Health.

Well said.

Well said.

I don’t just mean physical health. I mean mental health (i.e., the stop worrying thing), emotional health (keeping my mood up), spiritual health (spend time with God each day and not because I feel like I have to), relational health (making sure my marriage, familial relationships, and friendships are nurtured) and environmental health (be more mindful of how my choices affect the planet, its people, and animals).

Four goals for 2014:

 1. Lose the baby weight.

Either way, I'd be happy.

Either way, I’d be happy.

Before I got pregnant, I was working toward maintaining my weight and maybe even dropping a few pounds as my clothes weren’t fitting me as well as they had been (holidays and all), but then I found out I was with child and weight loss went on the backburner (as it should have). Now that Hermione is 4 months old, I’m healed and recovered from childbirth and my milk supply is established, I’m ready to work on losing those last 9 pounds of pregnancy that are sticking around. And, to be honest, I’m not too concerned with the number on the scale. I’m more focused on how I feel and how my clothes are fitting me.

I know a lot of people will say: “You had a baby, be proud of that!” And I am. But I also don’t feel like myself with the extra weight. The holidays with its endless mountains of sweets and the stress on our schedule has made me push my health to the wayside. I want to get refocused on my health. Plus, my clothes are still tight and I’m too cheap to buy new ones—ha!

2. Stop the “fat talk”.

Thanks, Abey.

Thanks, Abey.

Sometimes, without even thinking, the words: “Gah, I’m so fat!” will come pouring out of my mouth. Or, “I can’t wear this, I look fat!” will pop into my head as I look at my reflection after picking something out at a store that looked cute on the rack, but hideous on me. I know it may seem hypocritical to say I want to stop the fat talk in the same blog post describing my desire to lose weight, so let me make myself clear.

I want to stop the negative talk.

I don’t want Hermione to talk to herself the way I talk to myself. I want her to be healthy, to enjoy being active, to eat good foods, and feel confident in who she is. How can she do that if she doesn’t have the proper role model? I want to be an example of being healthy and fit while still loving who I am and being proud of my body.

3. Put down the devices.

Put down the phone!

Put down the phone!

Every night before I fall asleep, I do the same thing: pick up my phone and look at Pinterest or Facebook (or both) for about 45 minutes. Huff the Hubs will say something to me and I’ll grunt in agreement or say, “That’s cool” even though I’m not paying attention.

When I go places with people, a lot of our time is spent with them or me (or both!) on our phones, looking at pointless stuff. I want to get into a habit of putting the phone down, looking people in the eye, and actually listening to what they’re saying (gee, what a novel concept!). I don’t want to be a slave to my phone (HtH already calls my phone “my kidney” because I can’t function if I don’t have it).

4. Finish my 30 by 30 list.

Really, a lot of my goals are on my 30 by 30 list. I am determined to finish that list by the time I’m 30. I know some stuff may be difficult (like going to Italy with my sister) but you better believe I will work my hardest to get those things knocked off that list! I’ve already signed up for the OKC Memorial Marathon!

Sack up, Jess!

Sack up, Jess!

 

Do you have any resolutions? Goals? Reflections on the past year?

I hope you have a safe and happy New Year! (And please drink responsibly!)

Try It Monday

Happy Monday!

Wait. That’s sort of an oxymoron isn’t it? Happy Monday? No such thing, right?

WRONG.

Because today I’ve got a yummy Try It for you, just in time for your New Year’s par-tay!

Its pretty simple and REALLY good!

Every Christmas, my parents get a tin with the three different flavors of popcorn. Typically, the caramel one goes first and everyone gets all butt hurt because they “only got a handful” of the sweet treat. Well hold on to your hats! I’m about to save the holidays.

 

Caramel Corn Puffs! ("Gotta have my Pops!")

Caramel Corn Puffs! (“Gotta have my Pops!”)

My mom and sister made these the other night and they were BANGIN’!

Here’s what you need:

2 sticks butter

2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. Karo (light)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 package Cheetos butter flavored corn puffs (Chester’s Puffcorn)

In a large saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar and Karo to a boil for 5 minutes, but be sure to stir it a few times. Then, stir in vanilla, salt and baking soda (the mixture will bubble; don’t worry, this is supposed to happen).

Sweet caramelly goodness.

Sweet caramelly goodness.

Meanwhile, pour the corn puffs into a large bowl. Next, pour the mixture over the corn puffs and stir until well coated.

Ooohhhh yeeeahhh....

Ooohhhh yeeeahhh….

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring the mixture every 15 minutes. When time’s up, place the dishes on a cooling rack.

Caramel popcorn at its best; hot and fresh from the oven!

Caramel popcorn at its best; hot and fresh from the oven!

Then, try not to eat the whole thing. You’ll want to, trust me. Its THAT good. They seriously taste like Corn Pops and I lurve Corn Pops!

Holiday Wrap-Up

Happy St. Steven’s Day, everyone! What? You don’t celebrate that? Me either. But since Hannukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa’s passed, I had to think of something. I took the past week off because of the holiday and thought I’d also give myself a break from the blogging. 

How was your Christmas?

Mine was AMAZEBALLS!

My Maryland family came to town and we went to see The Nutcracker:

Yep, they're related to me. Adorbs, right?

Yep, they’re related to me. Adorbs, right?

Now I can mark that off my 30 by 30 list! Woo!

We had FOUR Christmases—no, Reese and Vince were not there. But, I did got some AWESOME swag! Here are a few of my faves:

From Huff the Hubs:

Hubs knows me so well!

Hubs knows me so well!

 

From the in-laws:

Dobby approved.

Dobby approved.

New Try It Tuesday ideas!

New Try It Tuesday ideas!

From the sisters:

"Hey Mista J!"

“Hey Mista J!”

“We did it, we bashed them wee Potter's the one, and Voldy's gone moldy, so now let's have fun!”

“We did it, we bashed them wee Potter’s the one, and Voldy’s gone moldy, so now let’s have fun!”

From the parents:

The Holy Grail of can openers.

The Holy Grail of can openers.

(Not going to lie; I may be most excited about this. I’ve broken many a nail, cut many a finger, and injured more than one joint with my crappy can opener. But THIS one is AWESOME.)

What were some of your favorite gifts?

Its that time of year again…

…time to refill my Xanax.

 

I don’t know why but ever since Thanksgiving, I’ve been feeling a little blue. Maybe its the weather, maybe its that yet another year has come and {almost} gone, or maybe its the fact that this is typically the time of year when I get all wistful and start getting nostalgic for days gone by.

But its Christmas! I should be happy! I should be like Buddy the Elf and spazzing out about all the crazy-awesome things this time of year brings. But I find myself sitting around, worrying myself into a pit, too focused on the gray skies and naked trees to enjoy the holiday season. Except when I’m able to stuff  my face with all of the yummy goodies made by family members, friends, and Russel Stover. Then, after about 30 pieces of chocolate, I look back at my day and realize I haven’t done anything except keep the baby fed and maybe eat lunch. Which sends me into an anxiety-spiral.

anxiety cat 4

 

Surely I’m not the only one, right? Clearly winter blues is widespread when there’s an aptly-named acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder (S. A. D.; and yes, I realize it may not be grammatically correct…I didn’t come up with this, okay?).

But, luckily, I have found some things that help to keep me smiling!

1. Don’t just stay inside all day. 

I know getting out and about this time of year can be more terrifying than comforting sometimes, what with people pepper-spraying people just to get their hands on a Furby, but staying cooped up will only add to the blues (and possibly make you crazy).

bmo gif

 

2. Eat healthy. Well, as healthy as you can. 

When you eat good food, it makes you feel good. I know that this is the time of year when everybody at work brings in their latest Pinterest creations and treats basically fall from the sky like snowflakes. But if you eat well, you’ll feel well. I’ve been trying to at least eat a good breakfast, full of protein, and a good lunch. Then I divulge in the holiday treats.

buddy the elf

 

3. Stay connected. 

Whether you’re texting, calling, or Face Time-ing, its important to stay connected and in contact with people you love and care about. And studies show that even a short, 5-minute conversation with a loved one can boost your mood! So don’t just surf Facebook, call up your pal!

cher

 

4. Get some exercise.

Believe me, this is the LAST thing I want to do in the winter. When its cold out, I just want to put on my sweats, lay on the couch, and binge-watch Four Weddings on Netflix. But I know that working out will get my endorphins up and help me to make better choices later. If its not too chilly out, you could take a quick walk around the block, hop on your bike and ride down to the store, or call up a friend and walk around the mall! Just MOVE!

exercise

 

 

Do you find yourself getting blue around the holidays? What do you do to make yourself feel better?

Lego Lurve

Sorry there was no blog post yesterday. My Maryland family came in to town and pretty much life as we know it was halted so we could all bask in the adorableness of my niece and nephews (and so the new aunt and uncle could meet their new niece).

They also brought their advent calenders, which not surprisingly, are Lego-themed.

My oldest nephew, Noah, is a Lego FANATIC. The kid has about ninety sets. Yeah, you read that right: NINETY. Luckily, his uncle lurves Legos just as much, so they can spend hours building, tearing down, and rebuilding all kinds of things.

I really think that one day, Huff the Hubs or Noah will build something like this:

Isn’t that insane?!

Its made entirely of Legos! It took the guy about 20 months to build and it runs on compressed air. How awesome would it be to drive up to the premiere of The Lego Movie in that thing?

Try it Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, Tryers!

Yesterday at work, we had our Christmas party. And, in the grand tradition of work parties, everyone had to bring something. So, what did I do? I consulted Pinterest of course! I wanted something easy to make, easy to transport, and tasty!

That’s when I found this:

apple pie fries

This is actually a pretty easy recipe! All you need is apple pie filling and a pie crust!

IMG_3523

Here’s what I did:

First, I preheated the oven to 350*.

Then, I sprinkled flour on the counter-top (I found that out the hard way when the crust stuck to it. Then I thought: Oh, I guess I should’ve put some flour down! 

Anyway, after that, I put the apple pie filling in the blender and blended it until it looked like this:

IMG_3518

Then, I spread the filling on the crust and placed the other crust on top.

IMG_3519

 

 

IMG_3520

I got my pizza cutter and cut the crust into strips. I didn’t have the fancy pastry cutter like the person in the original pin. Let me tell ya, I wish I did! It was tough to press the sides on the strips so that the filling didn’t spill out. That’s why I made my strips wider than the “fries” in the pin.

IMG_3521

Anyway, after that, I sprinkled cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar on top and popped them in the oven for about 15 minutes. They smelled DELICIOUS!

After the apple pie sticks were done, I let them cool and dug in!

IMG_3524

 

OMG, they were SO good! They weren’t the prettiest-looking things, but they were tasty! I want to get a pastry cutter and try to make these again (only less janky-looking).

Treat Yo Self: Mission Accomplished

So, a few weeks ago, I blogged about what I would do if I could have a Treat Yo Self day like Tom and Donna from Parks and Recreation. I wrote down my “dream day”; stuff I would do if I could have a day of pampering and fun. Well friends, yesterday my dream came true!

That’s right, Huff the Hubs let me have my very own Treat Yo Self day! When HtH first proposed this idea to me, I said: “No, that’s okay. I don’t need to do all that stuff.”

To which he replied: “You carried our baby, you birthed our baby, and you keep this house running. You need this.”

I still said it wasn’t necessary. But then I thought back to the 18 hours of labor and my last trimester with the back pain and sleepless nights and thought, “Yeeeahh…I’m doing this.” (Ha!)

So yesterday morning, we dropped our Little Gryffindor at Nana and Papa’s and set out for TYS. I was very excited.

This is also my "Harry Potter World Face".

This is also my “Harry Potter World Face”.

What did we do?

We had brunch:

First time EVER to have Eggs Benedict!

First time EVER to have Eggs Benedict!

Treat yo self.

 

We got massages:

Ooohh yeeeahhh...

Ooohh yeeeahhh…

Treat yo self.

 

We splurged on stuff we’ve always wanted to but never did:

90% of HtH's stuff was edible. Seriously.

90% of HtH’s stuff was edible. Seriously.

 

We didn’t just treat ourselves, either. I told HtH that if we were going to treat ourselves, then I wanted to do something for someone who isn’t able to treat themselves. So I thought about something we could do. I decided I wanted to get a goodie bag together for someone and, when we saw a person that seemed to need some help, we’d give them the bag. I bought a bunch of practical stuff (thick socks, gloves, snacks, hygiene items, water bottles, etc.) and after our adventure, we delivered the bag of goodies.

We also treated our babysitters to some yummy chocolates from Godiva!

After we picked up the baby, I went to get a pedicure. When I got back, Huff the Hubs showed me his TYS project:

"Doc, are you telling me you made a time machine out of a DeLorean?!"

“Doc, are you telling me you made a time machine out of a DeLorean?!”

I was seriously looking forward to yesterday more than my birthday and, honestly, more than Christmas (maybe because TYS was also a joint b-day and Christmas gift). And it wasn’t because of the material things. It was so nice to be able to spend an entire day with just me and Huff the Hubs. We get so busy that we forget that we still need to carve out time for each other. And not just those shorts moments in between dinner and passing out on the couch during the 10:00 news, or during the commute from home to the grocery store. I mean time that is centered on us as a husband and wife and as friends.

It was nice to have no schedule and no place we “had to be”. I highly recommend doing a TYS day at least once a year. Whether you’re married and you want time with your spouse or single and want to go get pampered, I blatantly steal from Nike when I say: “Just do it.” Save your pennies all year and then splurge when the holidays come around. I know I’m not the only one who feels as though the days from October 31st to January 1st go by in a blur.

After we put Hermione to bed last night, HtH said: “Yeah…I think Treat Yo Self is going to be a new tradition with us!”

Seems like Tom and Donna were right:

Preach.

Preach.