October Repayment and Half Marathon Musings

Hi everyone!  Since we’re fairly close to October’s end, I thought I would give a brief update on my debt repayment.  This month didn’t have a flurry of September birthdays, but there were a couple more wedding payments (florist, DJ), which resulted in a repayment of $272.  Michelle at Shop My Close Project posed a Black Friday Debt Payoff Challenge (to get rid of one bill), and I’m ready to get rid of the credit card balance once and for all.  I wasn’t too worried about paying it off completely as I did with other credit cards earlier since this one is sitting at 0% interest through the end of the year.  But, to keep things simple and since it will be end of the year before I know it, I’m committed to paying that off on Black Friday.  Is anyone else doing her challenge? 🙂

Another thing I’ve been mulling over lately is signing up for a half marathon.  Another PF blogger is practically forcing me to sign up for it (I won’t mention her name, but her blog rhymes with Mudget and the Meach)… I mean, look at what she wrote:

“Love the medal!! I don’t love the price either but wanted to do a big race. YES, I’m for sure doing it! DO IT!”

Did you see the big capital DO IT?!  If that isn’t compulsory language, I don’t know what is! 😉

Okay, so obvi she isn’t forcing me… but I have been seriously considering it for the following reasons:

1) Awesome medal and schwag!  Some gals love bling, I love me some race bling, and this one is in the shape of a surfboard!  My favorite is the earthy look of Big Sur‘s, but this would easily take its place.  I also love the race tee since it’s the trifecta of what I love most – long sleeves, v neck, pink!

2) I was going to sign up for a local one, anyway.  I don’t know where we got the idea, but B and I are starting to talk about purchases that cost more than a given limit (as in, run things by each other).  I already got the go-ahead from him with a local race, but it ended up being the weekend of my bridal shower so I put the kibosh on it.  So this just kind of transfers?

3) Tonya’s running it, and Michelle and Kathleen are running another race the same day!  What cooler way to hang out with another PF’er than a running event!  It’s like being able to go to FinCon… except nothing at all like it.

However, now that I’ve learned some things from the PF-blogosphere, here’s some cons to it:

1) It’s pricey.  It’s really expensive for a half (especially since a full is only $10 more), plus I’d have to consider transport costs since it’s not local.  Lodging I’m not too worried about since I have family around there, at least.

2) I’m so close to no races this year – while technically the race isn’t until 2014, I’m paying for it this year.  I also get concerned that if I allow myself this, would I revert back to my old ways?  I don’t think I would, but thoughts like those are always in the back of my head.

3) This is 100% a want – as I had an extreme rush of excitement at the prospect of signing up, Shannon’s post on “How to Handle the ‘I Wants,'” quickly deflated that excitement as I realized I was on extreme emotional overdrive and tempered it down.  I do feel I would have recognized this prior to actually making the payment, but it was kind of trippy how timely that worked out in reading that article!

So, I’ve decided to just give it time, muse over it for a few days, and then decide with full rationality and consciousness that this is what I want.  Hopefully it won’t sell out by the time I decide, but even if it does, then that’s just a part of how things work out sometimes.

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Wedding Update: Cupcakes and Coordinators

Hi everyone – I’ve been couch-surfing these past few days as my cold ended up being acute bronchitis, but I thought I’d give another wedding update!  I talked about the retreat during the last post, but here are the other things going on this past month:

Envelope flaps drying out so they don't get up in each other's business

Envelope flaps drying out so they don’t get up in each other’s business

1) Website finalized and invites sent out!  My dad endearingly asked who my calligrapher was for the invite envelopes, and because I lack a mouth-filter with him I replied George Washington’s grandma if she’s available.  Thankfully, he knows my humor… but our invite isn’t really formal, so I just ran the envelope through the printer.  We also opted to use Wanderable instead of Honeyfund (no affiliates), since I thought the design looked cleaner and more fun.  Plus, I love throwing my support to women entrepreneurs.

2) Cupcake decision made!  We’re going with a 6″ topper and multitude of cupcakes, and for the flavors we chose dark chocolate with fudge icing and tiramisu with latte and italian swirl butter cream.  As much of a chocoholic as I am, I actually loved the latter more, and I know my guests will love it.

3) DJ still pending – this was actually a tough decision since originally we asked a friend who is going to be a guest to DJ, which he wanted to but he doesn’t have equipment.  I then had a homey hook-up, but he kind of gave ‘tude to Ben and no one talks to my boo like that!  So we’re still figuring it out… we went to a bridal bazaar and there was a pretty cool female DJ there, so we might go with her.  I’ve also figured out off-peak is the way to go, since every DJ seemed to have a discount.

4) Rehearsal dinner place picked!  B spearheaded the choice and he picked an excellent spot.  We wanted to go to Old Town at a Mexican restaurant where we first met, but parking is usually a nightmare, never mind for a bunch of us.  The place he chose is super close to the church, reasonably priced, pretty Cathedral windows, great food – gold star for B!

5) Confession: my bridal beauty budget is kinda high since I need all the help I can get (though still trying to aim for ~$500, including trial runs).  I’m planning on having a make-up air brush artist, hair stylist, eyelash extensions, and mani/pedi.  Except for the occasional deep tissue massage (love the pain!), I rarely get any of those things and won’t probably ever again, so I’m splurging (okay, I know this isn’t really great PF thinking, but I’m okay with it. :)).

6) Confession part deux: I’m kinda glad that Harry at Your PF Pro (great site and guy, btw) is hiring a wedding coordinator, as we are, as well.  As you can see from the envelopes above, we’re having quite a few guests (and their +1’s and possible kids), so while we’re doing everything we can to work on the things leading up to the wedding, we’re also planning to hire a day of (like two weeks and day of) coordinator so we can truly enjoy the day.  This was actually a bone of contention between B and I, as he didn’t think we needed one.  But after hearing some feedback from some of our friends, as well as me finding one at half the rate of an original quote, he agreed (well, acquiesced if we’re being honest).

That’s it so far – I still have to get on the ball with a florist, wedding bands, etc.  I’m curious to see how many people had coordinators or are thinking about getting one, and what are the “must do” priorities for their checklists versus bridal party duties (I kind of don’t want to put a lot on the latter, since I view them more as guests that I want to have fun).

Weekend Retreat

Hi everyone!  I just came back from my weekend retreat and though I was going to post about it in a wedding update, I felt it deserved a whole post of its own.  Even if you aren’t Catholic or religious, there were some parts of the retreat that I thought were great for any couple vowing for a long-term commitment (well, and I suppose if you want children), so I thought I’d share.

First off, the conditions were unfortunately not ideal going into it – the week before I was fighting off a cold, work was busier than usual, I started a management/training course for the year, and people were starting to call with wedding questions.  Well, the cold I was fighting decided to come to a head during the weekend, and with the super long days lasting past 10 p.m. (and coming from one that usually sleeps at 9), things health-wise were the suck.

However, these retreats were booked, and the next time there were spaces was during the wedding weekend, so I womaned up and just prayed I wouldn’t get worse.  There were 2 married couples there, and the format for most of the sessions (about 9 in all) was a presentation which usually consisted of a really personal (and vulnerable) story from the couple with the priest interjecting words of wisdom, we would separate as a couple and write answers to the topic questions, and we would meet up with our partner to share our answers and discuss.  There were some religious-based sessions, but most were really important to couples who are looking to marry, as it discussed family planning (and what if one isn’t able to conceive), how to deal with conflicts and forgiveness, and, of course, finances.  If people are interested in some of the discussion questions, let me know and I can post them, though the finances questions were pretty basic, such as how much debt does the other have, are you going joint vs. personal accounts or a combo of both, how do you feel about borrowing money from parents, how would we handle child care expenses, etc.

What I loved the most about the weekend were two things – the Saturday night prayer and the betrothal pledge.  Saturday night, in the candle-lit chapel, each couple was asked to face his/her partner, join hands and pray “The Hands of the Bride and Groom.*”  B, ever the playful gent, wanted to play the hand-slap game in the beginning (O_o), but after awhile became serious and we really listened to the words.  Perhaps it was because it was read with an even tone and with so much intention by one of the couples, but when I listened to those words and looked at B’s hands, I became absolutely overwhelmed with emotion.  I think it was candidly the first time that I felt we’re not only making arrangements for a wedding in order to marry, but we’re entering into something sacred and special.

The next day, we also had to write a betrothal pledge, which I suppose is somewhat like a love letter and written vows to each other.  This part was extremely meaningful to me, as well, mostly because I’ve spoken before how B doesn’t really say or do romantic things, but I know he loves me through his actions.  Well, at first he wasn’t really taking this part seriously, so I told him there are some times to be serious, and to please be serious this time.  So we separate to write our pledges, and when we met and he read his, I absolutely bawled (with happiness).  I’ll keep it confidential as to not embarrass him, but I have never been so certain that I knew I wanted to marry him as I did during that moment.

He also cried a bit during mine, too, which I have never seen.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and though it was a requirement by the church, I’m honestly glad I went as I felt so much closer to him, as well as more sure that I want to marry B.  If anyone wants to know more about it, let me know. 🙂

*I understand that the gender roles during this prayer are somewhat traditional and possibly antiquated to some, but I still feel the underlying meaning/message is pretty darn special.

Four Reasons Why I Still Love The Big Bang Theory

One of the shows I was looking forward to for the Fall lineup was the return of The Big Bang Theory.  It began its seventh season, and so far the three new episodes have not disappointed.  Considering it has a following of 17 million viewers, I’m not the only one that loves this show, and here’s four reasons why I love this show so much.  Check out my reasons on Economag!

I’m Over Budget in My Pants – Fall Slim Down Challenge

Not gonna lie, kinda the wake up call for this challenge

Not gonna lie, kinda the wake up call when my cousin posted this on FB

Over the summer, I got a bit too accustomed to wearing looser tops and dresses, which I loved in terms of comfort but now am feeling some of the repercussions of it.  Now that it’s Fall (minus the leaves turning gorgeous colors… but still, it’s closed toe shoes time in SoCal) and I’m now wearing more form-fitting sweaters and jeans, it’s feeling too snuggly-wuggly for my taste.  In some jeans, there’s muffin top action going on, so apparently, I’ve been slipping up with my eating.  And, if I’m honest with myself, with my workouts, too, as I’ve shortened my workouts in order to get into work earlier.

Though I know it could possibly change as various stages of life go on, where I’m at now, I’m still in the school of thought that the answer is to not buy the next size up, but rather work with what I have in terms of clothes and trim down.  It’s kind of like working with a, oh hey – budget! 😉  So that’s exactly what I plan to do – challenge myself to slim down and trim up during Fall.  Nothing crazy, probably 10 or so pounds, though I’m more focused on getting leaner than numbers.

Since it’s still way too dark for my comfort level even at 6:30 a.m., I’m going to do most of my workouts at the gym.  Also, since my wedding dress is pretty arm and shoulder baring, I’d also like to focus on more upper body strength training since I’d like the event to be part-wedding, part-gun-show. 😉  So in order to accomplish this, I’m going to follow Jamie Eason’s program.  If you don’t know who she is, Jamie Eason is a super knowledgeable and motivating fitness model, who is so incredibly inspiring (she beat cancer) and likable, that it’s hard to not have respect for her.  I’m going to go ahead and skip to Phase 2, though, since Phase 1 has no cardio so I suppose I loosely followed this last month.  I like the workouts in Phase 2, as it has a hybrid of cardio and strength training, plus it’s with the frequency I usually do workouts, anyway – I just now have a set plan each day rather than winging it (and half-assing it).

More importantly, I’m following the diet plan, since workouts are important, but it’s more so what you put in your mouth the other 22-23 hours outside of working out!  I’m not worried about giving up booze or going out to eat (if I do, there’s a lot of healthy options these days), though sweets will be a challenge.  It’s also interesting to know that my friends who are pregnant but have gestational diabetes (it sounds like it will go away once they give birth, though) follow a program similar to this, so I suppose I have a nutritional support network there of sorts!

I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be posting updates on this, but I will at least post again after Phase 2.  I’ve previously had struggles with getting too obsessive with this kind of stuff in the past that I won’t bother rehashing, so this is the main reason why I don’t want to think/post about it too frequently (plus, it gets kind of boring).  Still, though I know I’m not obese, I do know what it’s like to not be at my level of feeling really confident, so I’m going to give this a shot.  B, who is pretty muscular and stocky but apparently blames my cooking for him putting some pounds on, also wants to look smokin’ for our wedding, so he’s all for this challenge (though he does more advanced workouts).  He’s actually already slimmed down like 5 pounds within days, which makes me want to stab him (lovingly, of course ;)).

Anyway, if anyone else wants to do this or some variance of a Fall Slim Down Challenge, I’d love to know.  It’s always nice when someone out there has the same goals as you.

A Few Ways to Save on Room and Board During College

It’s no secret that college can come at a hefty price tag, not only with increasing tuition and student fees, but also books and supplies, transportation, living expenses, and housing.  While on-campus housing can be convenient by reducing commute times and an opportunity to become socially connected to your school, it’s also expensive at an average of $9,315 in on-campus room and board fees for 2012-13.  Here’s a few ways below on how to save on room and board fees while obtaining your education.  Read the rest on Economag!

Winner Winner, Kalua Pork Dinner

Happy Friday, everyone!  I wanted to share a recipe that I asked from a friend and tried a couple of weeks ago, which is a hit at potlucks (provided the attendees are carnivores).  The best part is that there’s barely any ingredients and it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Kalua Pork

Ingredients:

Pork shoulder

Liquid smoke (located in bbq sauce section)

Hawaiian sea salt (I bought this at World Market)

Cabbage

Steps:

1) Place the pork in your crock pot, and sprinkle in some liquid smoke and Hawaiian sea salt.  I tend to like the “wing it” method when it comes to cooking, but I would guesstimate that I probably use a couple teaspoons or so (we’re not huge fans of salt).

2) Set the crock pot on low for 24 hours.

3) Shred the cabbage, and take out the pork and put in said cabbage into the crock pot.  I should’ve probably fully cleaned out all of the meat before putting in the cabbage, but I’ll do so next time.  While the cabbage is stewing, shred the pork (since it’s been in the crock pot for 24 hours, this part was super easy).  Stew the cabbage until it softens, meanwhile swatting away B’s grubby fingers from the meat as it cooks.

That’s it!  I like to serve it over rice, rice baby (dun dun dun dun, dun dun dun dun), but it was also delicious on a roll, especially Hawaiian sweet bread.

IMG_20130920_172745_324-1

If anyone has super easy meals like this, especially in a crock pot since it’s the best treat to have everything ready by the time you get home from work, I’d love to hear them!