Saturday, January 11, 2014


I have started up a newer, cooler and hopefully easier posting/blogging styles over at I have already started exporting my files, posts and comments over to the new page; I am not quite sure how I like it yet but I am hoping I will like it more and more as the time goes by.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read/comment and support me as I started, stopped and re-started this blog over here. You can continue to keep up to date with everything here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Living Intentionally - I already made a mistake

I recently read a post from another blog Frugal Beautiful about how frugal doesn't mean being cheap.

Before the weekend, I signed up for this 'super-sweet offer' from a magazine company. For $39.90 (every 2.5 months and charged to my credit card) I can get 4 of my favorite magazine titles (which equals about $3.88/week), but after 72 hours I am locked in to this contract for 48 months. 48 MONTHS!  Um, what? I can't cancel? I am locked in for the entire contract?  'Well, we offer over 300 different magazines, so if you get bored of the ones you originally order, you can change it up and get 4 new, different ones,' they say. Hmm. So over the weekend, I did some research. Apparently many people are dissatisfied with the service, have had bad experiences with harassing/rude phone calls and have had to make complaints about the company at various state's Better Business Bureaus. Yikes! (Not to mention that I did this without discussing this with the hubby - something I am trying to do better with and more of).

It might not seem like a lot of money -  to save $40 every 2.5  months should be easy. And if it is for you - great! For me, in my current financial situation, saving for a few magazines to come to my door is going to be hard. After much research and hard thinking about this 'suddenly-in-my-mind-stupid-decision' - and not the first one I will ever make either! -  I decided to cancel that new subscription. Alas, I had to wait to Monday but it got done!

The main reasons I came to this conclusion:
1. We visit the library practically EVERY weekend. I almost always hit the magazine section and borrow 1-two past issues of my favorite magazines. And they are FREE.
2. One of my intentions this year is to pay cash for things I want (exception of big-ticket items). Charging my credit card every couple of months DOES NOT fulfill that intention. Sorry, but a charge card is not cash.
3. The library has FREE books and magazines to read. Past and present issues.
4. I went ahead and assumed I would have the extra money every so often to do this; most likely scenario? Do I pay my credit card bill or put gas in the car? Honestly, money is tight for us/me right now and I would rather put gas in the car so I can get to work.
5. Did I mention the library? That card is getting a TON of use, and we've only been here 3 months!
6. Reading this blog and all subsequent posts relating to this.

"Being savvily frugal is about putting your money where it matters & putting consciousness into your consumerism."

Quote is taken directly from this post.
She rants about frugality versus being cheap. And some of, okay, most all of what she writes about is in direct line with how I am trying to shape my life by living intentionally. Here is a few paragraphs from her post:

"I don’t think the issue with frugality is necessarily that we won’t buy high end items- it’s just that we need to direct our way from the impulse shopping, the cheap purchases that really add up over time.  It still amazes me how much my experience around shopping changed when I saved up for a pair of Christian LouBoutins, a MacBook Pro or a silver necklace from Tiffany & Co.    As soon as I curbed my “cheap” purchases- the costume jewelry, the shoes that I only bought because “it was on sale,”  or the obligatory nights out with overpriced martinis,  my spending was ready for the big fish and it felt damn good.
Frugality means buying less, but having more.  I have less junk now, and more shoes that I still swoon over- months later.  It’s authenticity.  When you wear a designer handbag- it may be the only one you own, but it’s bought and paid for- truly, authentically YOURS. When it’s not a debt, but it was paid for without someone (a lender) chipping in, you lie to no one about who you are."

The question came down to this: Would I rather shell out $40 for magazines I can get for free at the library (see? The library is famous!) or try to save that $40 for the Coach purse I have been drooling over for about a year now (pretty much since last Christmas but I feel is too expensive to just go and purchase outright without some major saving)? I'll take the Coach purse!
What do you think?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Two videos I think you need to watch

A few things:
One, I think this woman in this video was on my plane from Boston to Dallas/Ft Worth when I was coming back from visiting my family over Thanksgiving. I am not entirely sure this was her, but I noticed her for obvious reasons. And I am ashamed to admit that I did, indeed, have to look away because her outward appearance is 'different'. At first I wanted to keep looking at her. (Some people may call it staring; I call it curiosity-with-un-moving-eyes). But then I thought about all the other people in the terminal and how they also might be looking at her and I felt that adding me to the mix would make her uncomfortable. So I stopped. Then today I saw this video (making it's Facebook rounds) and I had to watch. Don't watch it if you are just trying to keep up with the latest craze of videos. Watch it to remind yourself that the words 'beauty' and 'ugly' are two liberal, over-used words our society uses to make ourselves feel better. She has overcome odds (in birth and in life) and she is a great reminder about how our actions can uplift others, rather than tear them down.

I am noticing this video in our everyday lives more and more. Someone very close to me recently suggested I upgrade my phone to a smartphone or something with all-the-time-internet-capabilities (even if I only use it for the GPS). I have a cell phone. I like my phone. It can connect to the internet, but a. the screen is so small and b. I choose not to. My phone serves it's purpose: I can call and text and sometimes even take a picture. I want to go on Facebook or Pinterest, post to this blog or search the internet? I can wait until I get home from work to use the computer. I need directions? Stop and ask, or look it up before I go out. I want to listen to Pandora?Well, how about that radio? Or the Ipod?

I must admit, sometimes it would be easier to have a smartphone. Better pictures, more text message storage space, I can do Facetime from my phone rather than having to use Skype or some other program via my computer. GPS at my fingertips - wow that would be so cool (hello to never getting lost and winging it again! Wait, isn't that part of the fun? I discover so many new places I never knew were there before!)

I also admit that sometimes being out with friends or another certain someone who is 'checking' their phone for updates, weather etc etc can be a bit annoying. Like when we are in a restaurant, having dinner or whatever - we are supposed to be talking, laughing, sharing and you 'need' to have your phone on the table? On more than one occasion I have asked others to put away the phone. If I wanted to see what the latest app was, the weather (just go outside!) or who is posting a new picture to FB or Instagram every five seconds instead of spending some quality-in-the-present-moment time with you, I would have stayed home, plunked down in front of the computer.

So watch this video. If your life continues like this, how long do you think those relationships will last? (On either side?) Maybe this will cause you to pause and think about your current life - are you making memories with the people you love or too worried about the next stat or picture?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Dinner Last Night

Smokey Corn Chowder
Hands-on time: 25 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes Serves 6

8 oz sliced bacon, cut in half
1 lg sweet onion, chopped (I just used a yellow onion)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp smoked or regular paprika
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 10oz pkgs frozen corn (I just used one)
3 c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
1 c half and half
Salt and black pepper
2-4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 baguette, sliced and toasted (optional)

Cook bacon in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until crispy, 6-8 mins. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
Spoon off and discard all but 2 Tbsp grease and return pan to medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5-7 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, paprika and red pepper and cook, stirring about 2 minutes.
Stir in the corn, broth and cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 mins. Transfer half of soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to pot and stir in 1/2 tsp each salt and black pepper.
Divide among soup bowls and top with scallions and bacon. Serve with bread if using.

*I used a light rye bread from the bakery for the bread and did not toast it so the juices could be soaked up.
I also pureed once, poured it back in, took out some more and did it again for a second time before re-joining it all back in the pan. Andrew doesn't like corn so I figured this would make it easier to eat the slightly smaller kernels. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello 2014!

Gosh, can you believe it? 2014! Already? So much has happened this year in our lives - exploring all around Alaska as the last few months flew by around us, packing up our house and saying goodbye to close friends we have made in the last three years, traveling by car through Canada and parts of the US we have never been to, making new memories, settling into Colorado Springs, surprising family for Thanksgiving and enjoying the holidays in our new apartment!

I don't really like the idea of  'resolutions' for the upcoming year - mostly because I tend to break them. I attended my first heated yoga class at Cambio Studios yesterday morning, and the instructor started off the class with a little 'farewell to 2013, hello to 2014' quip and one of the things she said - she is going to be pursuing intentions rather than resolutions. Intentions. I like that. Making a resolution for the new year is setting you up to fail - after all, isn't the word itself sound so final? Intentions is more flexible; if I don't succeed, then there is room to grow and change and make the goal more suited to how life changes.

A few posts ago, I wrote that I want to live a fuller life. What does this look like? To me, this means living more simply, more compassionate, more servant-like. I am not going to be perfect and that is okay with me.

Some of the ways I have brainstormed to help make this overall intention succeed:
Read/listen to one book a month (List coming soon)
Volunteer in the Church's nursery
Experiment more with new recipes; find a couple of new favorites and make a rotating schedule
Sponsor a family for the 2014 Holiday Season
Spark my creativity - see tab under '52 in 52'
Attempt to stick to an allowance for myself every month (not that I spend a lot of money on myself anyway) - The point here is to use CASH for coffees, snacks, little purchases, stamps etc. When it is gone, it is gone. The Question becomes: What is really important to me? Do I really want to give up those $4 for a fancy espresso drink? P.S. The answer is almost always YES!
Attempt to only purchase/acquire clothes etc for the house from second-hand/consignment stores like Plato's Closet, The Salvation Army, Airman's Attic, Warrior Warehouse etc.
         *Exception to the intention (because there are always exceptions): Underthings, workout clothes, gifts given to me. If I have a gift card, intend to only shop the clearance/super-marked-down racks. Sneakers and shoes (special condition of the feet needing good support). The ONLY other non-second hand exception comes from super-discounted sales (like the one Old Navy is having right now to get rid of all their winter stock - Hello l/s shirts for less than $3!!)
Save for something of quality; rather than having lots of quantity. If I can save up for something and use cash to purchase it - it is authentically mine and I am more apt to take better care of it.

There are, of course, financial intentions for the upcoming year as well; some I may talk about on here while others I may not. Mostly because financial information within my immediate family is none of anyone's business except between Andrew and I, but I may share some of the frustrations that come from not reaching those goals or lessons I am learning along the way.

There are many other ideas and thoughts floating around in my mind on what it will mean, what it currently means, and what I have imagined it to mean, living a fuller life. Intentions will (and should) change as the year progresses but as for now, I am excited to see what this new year will bring!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dinner Last night

I've been trying out new recipes via my Pinterest Dinner board. There are so many yummy dishes all around, sometimes it is hard to choose just one! I wanted us to shy away from having chicken all the time, so decided to try a shrimp dish. It was Delish! Simple ingredients and simple process. Even Andrew liked it (he doesn't always like the new dishes) and said we should make it again.

Orzo with Feta, Basil and Shrimp
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more, to taste
3 cups orzo
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, snipped into small pieces, plus 4 to 6 whole leaves
1/4 lb. feta cheese, crumbled

In a bowl, stir together the shrimp, the 1/4 cup olive oil, the paprika, red pepper flakes and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. *I only let it sit for about 20 minutes and it still tasted great!

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo, stir well and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Drain the shrimp, discarding the marinade, and add the shrimp to the pan. Cook, turning once or twice, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp and any pan juices to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Drain the orzo and transfer to a warmed serving bowl. Add the shrimp and their juices and stir several times. Add the snipped basil and cheese and gently stir again once or twice. Garnish with the whole basil leaves and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

*For the Feta Cheese, the variety I used was tomato and basil. I only put in what I thought looked good, rather than a 1/4 lb. 
*For the basil, buying fresh is really expensive here, so I put in 1/2 tsp instead.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A few pictures from our last nine months in Alaska

Although most of our photos are on Facebook, I decided to share a few of the pictures we took during our last 9 months in Alaska so you can see what we've been up to! (not in any particular order).

Talkeetna, where Mayor Stubbs lives.

Moose at Kincaid Park

Hiking to Snowbird Hut

Doing Puzzles with the Mitchells.

Trying out the Hookah

Andrew's re-enlistment (June 2013)

Rick & Sheryl came to visit

Denali National Park

Beginning Gull Rock Trail with Alex and Danielle

Andrew's Marathon

Cross country skiing at the golf course

In Fairbanks/Chena Hot Springs

The ice museum

Apple martini in a glass cup!

The "Ice Bar"