Friday, July 29, 2011

Cafeteria Challenge Update: Day 12

Today marks day 12 of the cafeteria challenge. Last week was better. I had breakfast at work once this week because I was running late and didn't have the time to make my egg whites and turkey sausage breakfast. I also had a salad from the salad bar for lunch that day. That'll teach me for hitting snooze too many times. The rest of the week, though, I stuck to it. I saved $41.36 this week, for a running total of $92.50. That's scary. It's not always fun eating leftovers when there aremore tasty looking options downstairs (which I often get a sneak peak of when I go to refill my water). But it's worth it when I have the extra money we'd rather put toward other things.

In other news, have a house guest this week. My parents are in Seattle visiting my sister and brother-in-law, so we have their chocolate lab staying with us. it's been a bit of an adjustment. Emmy was anxious (understandably) the first couple of nights going to bed in our house and did some pacing. Yesterday when my alarm went off, she was right in my face at 5:30 wanting to play. She's such a sweet girl to have around though, and she certainly keeps Clover busy. I'm hoping I'll get to sleep in tomorrow, but I'm not betting on it - Emmy's got my dad trained to feed her early. But hopefully I'll be able to get a nap in.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gallery wall: check!

I finally got something done I've been saying for weeks that I need to do: my gallery wall. I'm really happy with the balance and arrangement, and it's put together in a way that stuff can be added later. Check it out:

I didn't do it quite the way I'd intended. I read on Young House Love that they made a newspaper template for each frame, arranged the templates on the wall with painter's tape for the proper placement, then measured and nailed so that each frame would hang precisely over its template. Great idea in theory, but it wasn't visual enough of the actual finished product for me. I had a collection of mix'n'match frames, photos from 3 occasions, and black and whites to balance out. So I laid all the frames out on the floor behind the couch to see what they would look like, and moved frames around to get everything balanced: no alike frames next to each other, no pics from the same occasion next to each other. Then I called Dan over to see what he thought because he's got a great eye for balance. We only swapped two frames and then got to nailing.

The great part is that this project didn't cost me much. The four wedding photos were a gift from my mom. The three large 8x10's from our This is Life Photography shoot were framed with Michael's coupons for a total of about $45, most of which I used a gift card for. The remaining 6 frames were bought for $4.49 each at Target, and finished with $2.50 mats from Joann Fabrics. Not bad for a display that I'm pretty darn happy with.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Show Us Your Life: Marriage Advice

I haven't participated in it in a while, but today's Show Us Your Life on Kelly's Korner seemed fun. Today's topic is marriage advice. Now, mind you, I've only been married 21 months and 6 days, so I don't know everything. But I do know a few things.

- Laugh a lot. We laugh all the time. Dan is a funny, funny guy. Sometimes he just gets in these moods and his only goal seems to be cracking me up. Those are fabulous moments. And keep in mind they don't have to be funny to anyone else. Some people just would not get our humor, and that's okay, because we do.

- Never go to bed angry. People debate on this one. Some folks think that if you're mad, you should just go to bed and rehash it when you're rested and the emotions aren't so fresh. We, however, are strong believers in not going to bed angry. That doesn't mean we solve everything before bed and that we don't have more to discuss the next day, it just means we get ourselves to a point where we can calm down and discuss things enough that we still want to cuddle up to each other.

- Be each other's best friend. I know, another cliche. But this one is so true. I've heard people say it annoys them when wives claim their husband as their best friend. I have some wonderful girl friends, but to me, Dan is everything a best friend is supposed to be. He listens, solves problems, is my rock, and my shoulder. He knows my secrets, fears, hopes, and dreams. He can tell me when I'm wrong and I can respect that. I trust him above all else, and know he always has my best interest at heart. He's the first one I call/text (we're more texters than callers) when something happens. He's my favorite person to do just about anything with. And I'm all of those things for him. I know that's what a spouse is supposed to be, but to me it's also what a best friend is.

- The last bit of advice is from a person I love very dearly, my late uncle. He passed away three days before my sister's wedding, and I shared this piece of advice in my maid-of-honor speech. He told me that marriage is a journey, and it's a long one. It isn't meant to be perfect. There will be good times and bad times. There will be times when love falters, and that doesn't mean you give up. At times, you may fall out of love, but so long as you never fall out of love at the same time, you'll find each other again. I know, it sounds kind of Debbie Downer for marriage advice, but I think it's a good thing to keep in mind over the life of our marriage. We can't expect that every moment of every day of our life together will be bliss. We've been fortunate that so far things have been wonderful, but knowing that sometimes there will be low points when one of us struggles makes me feel a little more assured that everything will end up okay so long as we never both give up on each other.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cafeteria Challenge Update: Day 4

I know I'm only 4 days into it, but I was just doing the math on my little challenge, and I'm amazed. I have only bought one thing from the cafeteria so far this week, and that was a salad today because I misjudged on my meal size last night, didn't have enough for Dan and I both to have lunch, and gave him the leftovers. Seeing as I have a cafeteria with relatively healthy options, and his non-leftover choices are fast food establishments, I'd say that was the best option for all parties involved.

Anyway, on to the numbers so far. I've saved $3.50 a day on sodas by bringing my own. Not to mention, I'm drinking less soda and more water, which is never a bad thing. I figured the average price per meal in the cafeteria is about $5.99, assuming a mix of salad bar days and hot entree days. That's just shy of $18 as of today. I tend to get a breakfast burrito once a week, and also do a weekly trip to Starbucks (makes Mondays better). Eliminating those saved another $9.60. Assuming I keep up the good habits tomorrow, I'll have saved $51.14 by the end of the day. Holy crap!

It's amazing to keep track and watch what's staying in our pockets because of making a solid effort to eliminate the cafeteria from my life. I've started dropping the daily savings into our savings account so I can literally watch my efforts add up, and that only adds to the motivation.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Cafeteria Challenge

For the first time in far too long, I connected my checking account to and started really looking at where my extra money is going. I was a little shocked at what I was spending on food in the cafeteria at work, especially considering that I buy plenty in groceries each week. My sodas alone were costing me about $3.50 a day (eek!) and I don't need that much soda anyway. It's rare to get out of the cafeteria with an entree for less than $7, unless I have a salad, and even then, salads here are for more expensive than they ought to be. And so, I made a mid-year resolution. My challenge for the next 30 days: no more cafeteria.

First, I went to Costco, and stocked us up on drinks. For 3 days worth of my cafeteria soda habit, I bought a 32 pack that should last me three work weeks, assuming 2 a day: on in the morning, and one with lunch. Comparable cost in the cafeteria: $56. Eek. I also stocked Dan up on Monster Energy drinks and Gatorade G2s. He drinks one Monster a day and 1-2 G2s with electrolytes to keep hydrated in the heat, so that should last him 2 weeks or more, as well. Savings to him: about $38. So if we're diligent and dedicated to drinking only from our little stockpile, we stand to save ourselves about $80 every 2-3 weeks. Scary.

On to the cafeteria food itself. It's convenient, but it comes with a price. It's expensive, first; and secondly, unless I get salad, I don't really know what's in it. And let's be honest, I don't want salad every day. I have some cafeteria favorites, but for the next 30 days at least (oh, panini bar, I love you), I'm challenging myself to eat only lunch that I bring in. The exception: I'm grilling chicken tonight for my own salads and I'll use the cafeteria's salad bar for some of the toppings. For $1.49 I can fill a small cup with egg whites, sunflower seeds, and olives. In comparison, a full salad would probably run me $5. I figured out that I can spend, on average, an extra $8 a week to make a large enough dinner to have lunch leftovers, and therefore save myself $6 a day. It's easy when put in terms like that.

Now of course, this is all stuff I knew. It's not like it's big news that I'll save by bringing in my own lunches compared to buying them. But it's a matter of setting a goal for myself and sticking with it. Amanda over at It's Blogworthy is doing an eat-in challenge - as in NO retsurant food - and, along with the evidence in my account, inspired me to challenge myself to something similar. Not to mention, the extra money in my bank account will be nice. My goal is to save an extra $150 a month, and this challenge will go a long way in getting me there.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And now, we wait

Yesterday was our appointment with the infertility specialist. I was anxious all day. I didn't sleep well Sunday night because I had a dream that I overslept and got to work late, then couldn't finish work in time to go to the doctor. So I was wide awake at 3am freaked out about over-sleeping. So yeah, anxious.

Basically, some things were as I expected, and some things were better. I had a feeling that our game plan would include working on Dan's numbers first. The specialist wanted to re-test him right away (like, this week) but we both feel that it doesn't make sense to test again before making improvements. Even if we saw a 10% increase in results, we'd likely have to make improvements anyway, so why pay for 2 tests (I have coverage, but Dan isn't on my plan, so we're out-of-pocket for him)? So we were given a list of vitamins and other supplements for him to try. We're thinking we'll test again in 10 weeks, as that's about how long it takes for sperm cells to mature, and we want to see the full effect of the changes we make. The doctor thinks it's realistic to hope that we could improve the counts enough to make IUI successful, which is exactly what we hoped for.

So basically, we get a break. And we're actually okay with that. It's been fifteen months of thinking about timing and testing and everything. The last month or two have had the added stress of worry about test results and what they mean for us. We agree that taking the next 10 weeks (or longer if we want) to just live life is best for us. Once we get started with whatever treatment plan we go with, things tend to get more stressful and emotional than just "seeing how things go," so we want to be in a good place.

And no, we're not at all thinking that "taking a break" will lead to pregnancy. As of now, if none of the vitamins or supplements or other lifestyle changes make any difference, we have about a 5% chance at spontaneous conception (as in, not in a cycle, but ever), and even with some (say 30%, which may or may not be realistic depending on the cause of the deficiency) improvement, our chances are still far less than the average couple, and we also have my issue to contend with. So please, I know people are hopeful and rooting for us and I appreciate that so much, but please spare us the "see, you stop trying and it'll happen!" We have options, and we'll get to those. For now, we just wait.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Do you ever have a moment where you're teling someone about something totally obscure and then realize, "holy shit, I'm a nerd?" Well, I've had a few of those moments lately, when I realize that I'm talking about people or things like I actually know them. That or I just realize all of a sudden that I'm spending a lot of time doing or talking about something. And then I realize I've become.... obsessed.

Example A:

Words for Friends. Since getting my new phone last month, I've downloaded some apps. Of course, I got Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Talking Tom (which Mrs. ESPN informed me that her 7-year-old daughter was already over). But one app that I was psyched beyond belief about was Words for Friends. I heard about it on Twitter, and didn't even know what it was, though it should have been obvious. It's Scrabble, y'all. Played in real time with friends (or strangers). So far, I've played some 20 games, and I've lost quite a few. But I'm pretty hooked on it. The downside: I'm pretty sure some of my friends think I'm dumb.

Example 2:

Poz and Infekt. This is our friend/wedding photographer's friends' band. They started out as a metal band with another name, and decided to do a comedic hip hop album as kind of a joke. Joke's on them though, because they got signed with a label for their album "Not Coattails to Ride." You should check them out on iTunes and on the Twitter (@pozandinfekt) because they're hilarious. Honestly, there isn't a bad song on the whole album. Back when Dan and I went to their concert(s) last month, we had the best time. They played a show at an outdoor venue, then got called by a bar to come do a set. We followed them to the bar, and my friend Nicole and I literally danced through the whole gig. THEN... there's more! We all decided to go to In N Out, and the guys put on an impromtu show in the parking lot. Seriously, it was a fun night.

Example orange:

Toddlers and Tiaras. It's no real secret that I love this show, but I found myself explaining the crowning process to a coworker the other day and realized I might have a problem. Yeah yeah, I know. It's "tasteless" and it turns little girls into prostitots in crazy outfits, but that's not even why I love it. I love it for the moms. They are cuh-razy. They cry more than the kids do. I also watch for the melt-downs, because there is nothing more awesome than 4-year-old Mackenzie screaming for her "ni ni." And when the kid I'm rooting for to win Ultimate Grand Centerfold Princess Banana Supreme, I feel happy inside.

Example 4:

Teen Mom 3. I cannot. Can. Not. Tell you how happy it made me to see that the original teen moms (Maci, Amber, Farrah, and Catelynn) were coming back this season. I love them. Trash box Amber, who dates guys she meets at "Wally" and pretty much obligates MTV to give info on domestic violence? Love her. Maci, who dates a guy who really does look slow but does pretty much right by her son? Love her. Farrah, oh dear sweer Farrah, who makes me love a good ugly cry and whose baby is lucky to have no broken a bone yet from being left alone on the couch? Love her. She needs some parenting classes or even just some old fashioned awareness at times, but love her. And Catelynn, who made the tough decision to give her daughter up for adoption and is part of the cutest and most mature teen couple in reality TV? How do you not love her? I just love the show, and I look forward to it every week. And maybe I follow all of them on Twitter...

So yeah, I'm obsessed with a pretty random mix of things right now. But hey, they keep me entertained and off the streets, right? What are you obsessed with lately?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Our fourth 4th

This 4th of July marked our fourth Independence Day together. We always seem to have good memories on 4th of July. There's always good food, some fireworks, and a relaxing day. It's like a little piece of heaven tucked in the middle of summer, just for us.

Our first may have been my favorite, just because it was the first. We had only been dating about 6 weeks. We went to Rustler's Rooste, a restaurant a couple miles from what would become our apartment, up on a hill overlooking the valley. It didn't dawn on us that all of Phoenix would decide it was the perfect spot, too. We only waited an hour for a table, but I found out later Dan hadn't eaten since breakfast. He was very quiet and now I know why - that's how he gets when he's hungry, and how I can tell we've waited too long. We hadn't been very affectionate to that point. I knew I liked him a lot after my birthday, and it was the first time we'd seen each other since my party at Dave & Buster's. A couple of times, I tried to put an arm around him, and though he didn't brush me away, he didn't reciprocate much either. Lucky for him, I saw something under the shy exterior that I really liked. It would only be a matter of weeks after that 4th of July that he'd come out of his shell and show me he was into me, too.

The next 4th of July, we were engaged. That's crazy to think about. Dan's brother and his girlfriend (now wife) came to town and we spend the whole 4th of July weekend swimming, drinking our favorite beer, and eating delicious food with the guys' friends. We packed up Paisley and stayed at my in-laws' the whole weekend. On the evening of the 4th, we all loaded up into the back of my father-in-law's truck and drove to an empty lot to watch fireworks. Our friends' son was in complete awe of the show and it was so much fun to watch his excitement.

Our third 4th of July was quieter. My brother-in-law didn't make his summer visit that weekend, so it was just me and Dan, the in-laws and some friends. More swimming, more good food, more tasty beverages. It was so hot, to the point where we didn't get out of the pool much and were content to watch the fireworks from the water.

Yesterday wasn't too much different from last year, except it was just us most of the day. We slept in and took our time removing ourselves from the couch. We went to lunch at a favorite restaurant, then came home and fell asleep on the couch, with the pups curled around us. After debating what to do for an hour or so, we loaded up the pups, packed our swimsuits, and headed over to the in-law's for steaks, Yahtzee, and swimming. The brilliant state of Arizona decided to legalize the sale of non-projectile fireworks, so we were treated to the sounds of neighbors trying to set their yards on fire for a good 2 hours before the actual fireworks started. We got home just in time to put on PJs and settle into bed. Our laziest 4th of July yet, but also one of the most content. It was wonderful to spend the day with my husband and top it off with the usual 4th of July goodness.

How was your 4th of July?