Monday, June 29, 2015

List: Ten easy ways to grow your savings account.

I am one of those people that's always looking for ways to save money!
No, I'm not cheap.  I work hard for my money so I don't enjoy throwing it away.
Every dollar we save on necessities is a dollar we can spend on something we want.
Every dollar we save on things we want, is more money spent on wants in the future.
Those dollars may not seem like much, but they will add up to a nice sum over time.
Those are rules to live by right there!  No worries, I'm going to help you get there...with a list!

Via - This totally made me laugh.


Ten easy ways to save your money.
I'll skip the obvious tip:  coupons.

1.  Automatic Savings Deposits
Contact your bank to have a set dollar amount automatically transferred to a savings account weekly.
Just make sure that you line it up with pay day!  You want to make this a thoughtless process.

2.  Overdraft Protection
Ensure that you have overdraft protection to help avoid unnecessary fees and delinquint accounts.
My bank links my checking account to a free line of credit as a "just in case" method.

3.  Cook, Cook, and Cook
Avoid expensive take out bills and empty calories by cooking yourself dinner on a nightly basis.
Is the cooking overwhelming?  Cook in bulk and freeze.   Pick one night for take out.

4.  Budget
Make yourself a budget to account for all expenses.  Take a percentage of what's left and save it!
I'm the budgeting queen!  If you need any help, reach out to me personally or read this post.

5.  Make Advance Purchases
Don't wait to buy predictable gifts.  Buy them for less while on sale with coupons in advance.
I bought everyone their Father's Day gifts with (2) months to spare and saved at least $40.

6.  Store Brands
Swap your expensive name brands for less expensive store brands.  Most products are near identical.
Do you need help seeing which store brand items are the same as the name brand?  Look here.

7.  Shop Weekly Ads
Before making any purchase, check out the store's weekly ad for deals and new ideas!
I won't even start my grocery list before checking the supermarket's ad.

8.  Pack Breakfast & Lunch
Instead of wasting cash on expensive breakfasts and lunches, invest in an insulated lunch bag.
My bag is always filled with hard boiled eggs, oatmeal packets, fruit, and a large salad.  Yum!

9.  Transfer Debt
Consolidate your debt by transferring balances to low or zero-interest lines of credit.
Interest rates make paying off debt near impossible.  Stop making the banks richer!

10.  Utilize Saving Sites
For a cheaper night out, search for good deals through sites like Living Social and Groupon.
These sites help you save money AND give you hot new ideas for a day/night out.

How do you help grow your savings account?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Wedding: One Month Marker


I can NOT even fathom the fact that it's been almost two full years since I got engaged.
I mean, where EXACTLY did that time go and how the heck can I get it back?!


Despite the fact that I only have one month left to get my act together, I haven't done much else.
Luckily for you all, that means you'll only have to suffer through one more wedding post after this one!

Bridal Party Attire
All of the ladies have picked up their gowns and began working on their alterations.
All of the men have been hunted down and measured for their tuxedos and shoes.
The ladies hair appointments have been set and their hair styles have been picked out.
The only one left is my little Mushy.  We're having her dress hand made.  I really need to get on that!

Rehearsal Date
The wedding rehearsal date has been set and scheduled in the church's appointment book!
The bridal party has been informed and they're ready to go.
It's scheduled on my man's birthday.  I forsee a cake directly following the rehearsal.  Yum!!

Readings
We met with the priest and went over all of our reading choices.
We picked our favorite two and noted them in the official matrimony book.
Now I just need to pass them along to our honorary readers so they can practice!

Wedding Dress Fitting
I had my first wedding dress fitting and I fell in love with my dress all over again!
Luckily, I didn't require any major alterations.  Just a gigantic hem and a few tucks here and there.
It was so weird standing for 3 hours while a lady cut out a dress around me to fit my body perfectly!

Wedding License
We gathered all of our original documents to prove our existence and headed to Town Hall.
We purchased our wedding license and we're ready to make it official!
...as I still debate about changing my last name...

This wasn't a real productive month, but I'll be seriuosly cracking for the next 30 days!
Let's all cross our fingers that I get done with everything in time for the big day!

What are your wedding planning tips for the 1-month marker?

**For those of you who keeping popping up through Google (I see you!) and sent me e-mails, I'm going to compile one giant wedding checklist at the very end.  You're welcome!**

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

List: Ten simple ways to just be happy.

I recently read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
It was an enlightening read, but it was more of a “how to” than a juicy story with a moral.


While this book may not have had me on the edge of my seat, it did get me thinking.
Am I really happy?  Maybe I’m content, but how can I be overjoyed?  Is my family happy?
That’s when I realized that we, as a society, are thinking way too much into such a simple concept.
Everywhere I turn there is a new article on “how to know he/she/wife/husband/dog is happy”.
I think that analyzing and worrying about your happiness will actually have a reverse effect.
No worries, Jax is going to make this whole “happiness” thing real simple for you!

Ten simple ways to just be happy.

1.  Don’t measure your happiness.
If you need to stop and think if you’re actually happy or how happy you are, you’re not that happy.
Happiness is enjoying the moment and the people around you without outside distractions.
A happy moment is something you will remember and reflect on as a pleasant memory without doubt.

2.  Surround yourself with only people you genuinely enjoy.
You know whose company you look forward to and whose company you dread.
Eliminate the people from your life that you consider toxic or just bring you down.
Being around that one person you dislike can turn a nice event into a horror show.  Cut him/her out!

3.  Don’t be a bystander and be involved.
Being happy means getting involved, having fun, and enjoying the moments life gives you.
Get up and dance.  Pick up the art brush.  Taste the new foods.  Play the game.
You totally get the point.  Don’t be the person lurking in the corner envying the people doing something.

4.  Realize the world doesn’t owe you squat.
Some people have this false perspective that the world owes them happiness.
You need to make your own happiness.  It won’t fall into your lap.  You need to go and get it.
The world isn’t dishing out vacations, boyfriends, or nights out on the town?  Go get them yourself!

5.   Fill your day with things you enjoy.
Your work days should be filled with the tasks of a career that you love.
Your free time should be filled with people, events, and things that you love.
If you aren’t content with large aspects of your life, these are the first things you need to change.

6.  Don’t live in the past.
We all have those days or years that were filled with misery.  Stop reliving them in your head.
These were experiences or people that helped you learn and grow.  Leave it at that and move on.
Living in the past makes people fear the future.  No one can be happy that way.

7.  Cherish your body as your biggest treasure.
Be healthy.  Don’t do drugs.  Don’t sleep around.  Wear sunscreen.  Let it rest and recharge.
Your body is the most important tool you have in life.  Preserving it is preserving happiness.
There are so many unfortunate events in life that can’t be prevented.  Limit these opportunities.

8.  Accept yourself for everything that you are.
We all have insecurities, but we should never let them get in the way of our lives or happiness.
Wear that bikini.  Dance without rhythm.  Snort when you laugh.  Rock those frizzy curls.
Hiding insecurities or missing out because of them will always hinder your happiness.

9.  Celebrate all of your achievements.
Not all of your achievements need to be huge in order for you to be proud of them.
You may not have graduated yet, but you passed that nearly impossible class.  Celebrate it!
Celebrating and acknowledging an accomplishment will bring happiness and create memories.

10.  Laugh.  Smile.  Enjoy.
You may not want to go somewhere or do that thing, but you’re obligated to anyway.
Don’t pout and be miserable.  Instead laugh with people, smile at the day, and enjoy what you can.
Happiness is all about your outlook on something.  Intend to be happy and it may just happen. 

How do you do happiness?

Monday, June 22, 2015

List: Ten unqiue ideas to bring to a BBQ.

Father’s Day was spent  running around from place to place.
We took my daddy out for a nice breakfast in the morning.
Then we went to my future in laws for a Cuban style BBQ complete with the pig on a spit.
After spending the day at the BBQ, we headed to Nanny’s to have dessert with papa.
After all that running around, I really could use just ONE more day off from work…

Throughout the Summer season, we are constantly going to BBQs.
That means that I’m showing up with a fruit salad or a bottle of wine in hand.
As you can imagine, I am SO sick of buying fruit salad and bottles of wine.

In an attempt to switch it up this year, I compiled a list of new ideas.
Did you really expect something other than a list?  I didn’t think so…

Ten unique ideas to bring to a BBQ.

1.  Homemade Red Velvet Cookies
The host will appreciate the time you took to cook them and that they aren’t a common treat!
These cookies are so yummy and very easy to make.  Recipe can be found here.

2.  Colorful Hanging Plant
This may not be something that can be served, but it certainly can be displayed!
Your host is sure to appreciate this gesture for way more than one BBQ.

3.  Sangria
This is a unique idea whether you make it yourself or pick up a bottle from the store.
If you make it yourself, you can get real creative and fun with how you bottle it.

4.  Quiche
A quiche goes with almost anything which makes it a perfect thing to bring on a BBQ.
This is such an inexpensive and easy thing to make.  My favorites are artichoke or zucchini quiche!

5.  Bottles of Archer’s Farms BBQ Sauce
It’s almost a guarantee that the BBQ will involve some sort of grilled meat making this a perfect idea.
I would pick a bottle of Sweet Pineapple and a bottle of Molasses & Cayenne BBQ sauce.  Yum!

6.  Homemade Guacamole
Everybody is sure to love this idea, just don’t forget to bring a bag of tortilla chips!
I plan on making two batches of this: one very sweet and one a little spicy.

7.  Water Balloon Kit
This is a guaranteed hit with the kids and occupied kids means very happy adults.
Call me a kid myself, but water balloon fights are totally a summer highlight for me!

8.  Fruit Kebabs
This is similar to fruit salad, but it’s way more fun and things taste better when they’re fun.
Not to mention, fruit on a stick makes for an absolutely colorful, gorgeous display!

9.  S ‘mores
A barbeque usually implies the use of an actual bbq which means it’s a green light for S’mores!
…and who doesn’t love the combination of chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers?!

10.  Wattamelon Friendly’s Roll
This is perfect for a BBQ because it’s sweet, refreshing, and totally delicious.
Besides, it really looks like a watermelon making it perfect to display on the dessert table!


What are your unique ideas to bring to a barbeque? 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Jax Seal of Approval: Renpure Hair Products

For a fun Friday post, I figured that I'd talk about one of my favorite subjects:  Hair
...and you thought I was going to bring up the Hemsworth brothers again.  Wait, I just did...

Being the Sicilian that I am, my hair gets disgustingly greasy VERY quickly.
That means that I wash my hair every single morning.
Sometimes even again at night if I'm going out.
Washing your hair daily is a terrible habit.
Your hair loses a lot of its natural shine and volume.

To make matters worse, after I wash my hair I blow dry right away and then use a heated styler.
Depending on my mood, it could be my straightening iron or one of my curling wands.
Using heated styling tools is an even more terrible habit.
It damages, thins, and breaks your hair.

I try to make up for all of my terrible habits by consistently using OGX coconut oil prior to styling.
If you remember from this post it was listed as my #1 favorite beauty product!
I'm getting to a point where this isn't enough.
I need to make a concious effort to give my hair a break at least once a week.
I need to force myself to get a trim consistently every 6-8 weeks.
I also need to invest in a shampoo that can help reverse some of the damage.
...and you all know how much I love my coconut shampoo...

Jax Seal of Approval:  Renpure Biotin & Collagen Thickening Shampoo & Conditioner

 

I headed over to my favorite store to ask their specialist a few questions.
The sales lady pointed me in the direction of Renpure and guaranteed that I'd love the results.
You can now add this to the list of reasons why Target is my favorite store!

While I wouldn't say that the shampoo/conditioner reversed the damaged, it did help.
My hair definately has more shine and volume than prior to using these products.
I've also noticed a significant increase in regrowth sticking out of my head.
Does anyone else welcome regrowth but get annoyed at their presence at the same time?!
Both the shampoo and conditioner are pleasantly light preventing your hair from being weighed down.
The smell is fantastic and the price is pretty reasonable.

Without further adieu, it's my honor to extend the Jax Seal of Approval to Renpure!

Have you or will you try any Renpure products?
**Please note that this was not a paid review.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that  Renpure does not even know I exist!**

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

List: Ten necessities for your tropical honeymoon.

As quickly as our wedding is approaching, so is our honeymoon!
We leave the morning after we are wed.  Eep!!
I’ve been preparing with shopping sprees and by strictly following those discussed healthy swaps.

The honeymoon is almost exactly one month away, but I think I’ve finally gathered all necessities.
That means that they are purchased, checked off my list, and neatly put away in my suitcase.
I mean, did you expect anything less from me?  My anxiety forces me to be as prepared as possible!
We will be going to West Palm Beach, Florida for a whole five days on July 27.
Talking about anxiety…I’m freaking out about leaving my Mushy behind!!

Ten necessities for your tropical honeymoon.
…minus the underwear, soap, and sexy sleepwear…

1.  A Multi-Purpose Dress 

I can rock this with heels for a dressy night out, or with flats for a casual lunch in the sun.
Can be bought here.  I can't wait to wear it!

2. Flattering Bathing Suits (at least 2)
This suit is flattering, cute, and gives me the support of a sports bra.  Hello, water sports!!
Can be bought here.  I even got it in this exact color.

3.  Sensitive Skin Sunscreen

Be prepared with a high SPF sunscreen that you know.  The last thing you want is an allergic reation.
Can be bought here.  I will personally vouge for this brand!

4.  Reusable Water Bottle
You'll want all your money to go to fun and delicious things, not water.
Can be bought here.  Hydrate in style!

5.  Practical Bathing Suit Covers (at least 2)
This covers up enough to enjoy a lunch at a casual restaurant and do some light shopping!
Can be bought here.  I got this one to match my pink bikini!

6.  Versatile Sandal
You need a shoe that's comfortable to walk in, matches everything, and makes you smile.
Can be bought here.  I loved these Cole Haans because they're comfy and GOLD!

7.  Travel First Aid Kit
You never know when something may happen and will need some handy medical supplies.
Can be bought here.  So I'll be borrowing Mushy's.  Sue me!

8.  Inexpensive Flip Flops

A pair of flip flops that are cheap enough to walk through sand, salt water, and totally ruin without care.
Can be bought here.  These matched my bikini perfectly and were only $2.50!

9.  Beach Towels (at least 4)
Don't waste vacation money on beach towels.  Buy stylish ones in advance with coupons and sales.
Can be bought here.  I chose these becuase they match both of bathing suits!

10. Versatile "Mini" Bag
Every girl needs a bag that matches everything and is small enough to lug around for hours.
Can be bought here.  I chose thise one becuase it's small, cute, and inexpensive!

What are your tropical vacation necessities?

Monday, June 15, 2015

List: Ten unique Father's Day gift ideas.

Unlike women, fathers are just that much harder to buy for!
You could always go with that ridiculously overpriced gadget or the usual shaving set.
In an attempt to be unique, I put together a list of different things that dad is sure to love.
I tried to hit all different price points to help out different people on different budgets.  Enjoy!

Ten unique Father's Day gift ideas.


1.  Monogrammed Whiskey Decanter
Dad is sure to appreciate this personalized and manly gift!  Especially if it comes with a bottle of Jack.
Can be bought here.

2.  Swim Trunks
Summer's officially here, so why not give dad a hot new suit to rock??
Can be bought here.

3.  Ben Bailey: Road Rage DVD
The comedian from Cash Cab is hilarious in his stand up.  A good laugh is a perfect gift!
Can be bought here.

4.  Sunglasses
Sometimes us women forget that men suffer from UV rays too!  Invest in a good pair for Dad.
Can be bought here.

5.  Bocce Ball Set
This is a great game for a bbq, to play with the boys, or to use as fun time as family!
Can be bought here.

6.  Daily Joke Calendar
Dad can sit this on his night table or his desk at work.  Either way, it's a great start to a day.
Can be bought here.

7.  Bath & Bodyworks Stress Relief Set
This is bound to get a few laughs, but the scent is masculine and the "stress relief" message is clear!
Can be bought here.
**Note:  My man will be opening this gift set on Father's day.**

8.  Customized Phone Case

It's a unique way to remind dad on a daily basis just how much you adore him!
Can be created and bought here.

9.  Garmin Vivoactive Fitness Monitor
This monitor does everything from tracking your fitness to telling you the weather.  You're welcome, Dad!
Can be bought here.

10.  Coca Cola Vending Cooler
This is just beyond awesome!  Well, assuming that it comes with ground rules.  hah!
Can be bought here.

What are your unqiue Father's Day gift ideas?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Life: Pinterest


Happy Friday Everyone!!!
I’m out for the day doing tedious errands that just really need to get done.
My hunny and I will be running around getting our marriage license and meeting up with an organist.
…and then, hopefully, we will indulge in a lovely lunch outside at a nice cafĂ©…

While we’re enjoying the very rare occurrence of not going to work, I have some news for you.
Raviolis & Waterworks is back on Pinterest!
You can visit and follow me here.

It’s been years since I utilized this tool, but I just rediscovered it and fell in love!
Talk about drool worthy recipes and gorgeous ideas for just about anything.
It won’t be long until Pinterest sends a message asking me to stop pinning the entire internet.

Do you or will you use Pinterest?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Discussion: How to diffuse a fight with someone you love.

My man and I recently finished our Pre-Cana classes through the Catholic church.
There were many aspects of this class that were very enlightening.
The whole atmosphere of the class was great.  I wish we could attend one EVERY week!

We learned many new communication techniques, tips, and topics.
We learned different key concepts to help better and strengthen a relationship.
We also discussed other topics like parenting, finances, and future in laws.
Not to mention, all of these lovely tidbits are ours to keep in the form of a text book.  Love it!

My favorite lesson was how to extinguish your inner anger with your partner during a fight.
When you are angry with your partner, meditate on ten reasons why you love them.
Ok, so the deacon didn’t actually say “ten” reasons, but my OCD loves that number!

Let’s practice!
Despite constantly begging, my man still got beard hairs everywhere, including my toothbrush.
This is when I would take a deep breath and reflect on the reasons why I fell in love with him.

1.       He’s an amazing father.
2.       He’s always there when I need him.
3.       He’s even there when I don’t need him.
4.       He tries very hard to make me happy.
5.       He picks up the slack when work takes over my life.
6.       He tries to helps me cook even though he HATES it.
7.       He always considers my opinion.
8.       He actually enjoys shopping.
9.       He drops anything and everything to be there for my family.
10.   He’s willing to sacrifice so we can shine.

After mediating on those 10 things, I realize that those beard hairs aren’t all that serious.
I calmly leave the bathroom and ask him to shave in the shower if he can’t clean up after himself.
We hung a mirror in the shower.  Now he don’t have to clean up and I have a clean toothbrush!  Double win.


How do you try to keep calm when arguing with a loved one?

Monday, June 8, 2015

List: Ten things you should keep in your purse.

I’m that obnoxious person that is overly prepared for anything that MIGHT happen.
That means that my oversized Dooney & Bourke bag is always filled to the brim with stuff.
Did I mention that I have a love affair with my purse?  Well, I really do!

There she is!  She's got a real full belly!

Ten essentials  that should always be in your purse.
Let’s skip the obvious things like credit cards, keys, tissues, or your phone.

1.  Travel Size Toothpaste & Toothbrush
Because you never know when you’ll be in the mood for a garlic knot!

2.  Tinted Lip Balm
Because you never know when  you’ll want to hydrate or give a hint of color to your lips!

3.  Hand Sanitizer
Because you never when you’ll have no choice but to turn that public door knob!

4.  Paper Toilet Seat Covers
Because you can’t easily squat and hover in just any high-heeled shoe!

5.  Tide To Go
Because spills and spatters happen everywhere no matter how nice your outfit!

6.  Nasal Spray
Because who wants to keep running to the bathroom to blow their nose on a date?!

7.  A Stocked Pill Case
Because you never know where or when you will get a headache/indigestion/allergy attack!

8.  Band-Aids
Because you never know when you will get cut or need a quick fix for a broken nail!

9.  Information Card
Because sometimes you can’t speak your emergency contacts, medical conditions, or allergies!

10.  Alcohol Wipes
Because you can disinfect almost anything at a moment’s notice!


What are your pocket book essentials?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Recipe: Macaroni and Chick Peas

Nanny is famous for whipping up a bowl of macaroni and chichita beans for an emergency dinner.
I had no idea that chichita beans are actually called chick peas in English.  Go figure!
She would make a bland, liquid, tomato based sauce to go with the pasta and beans.
As a child I found this dish comforting and delicious.  Now I find it boring and bland.

All that aside, I knew these few months would be hectic so I kept a couple cans of beans on hand.
Having little time to cook is not an excuse to indulge in unhealthy and expensive take out!
I’m glad that I prepared myself because last week I had to use my emergency chichita beans!

I was real determined to bring this emergency dinner back to life with a tastier recipe.
I scoured my refrigerator and cabinets for ingredients to bring the yum back to those chick peas.
It was difficult, but I have to say that I did succeed since my man yelled out “This is AWESOME”.


NOT Nanny’s Macaroni and Chichita Beans

(1) Medium Sized Yellow Onion
(¼) Cup Olive Oil
(1) Cup Parmesan Cheese
(1) Package Bacon
(2) Cans Chick Peas
(1lb) Pasta
Salt & Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta as directed.
I always do this first because my water always takes FOREVER to boil.

With your cooking scissors, cut the bacon into bite size pieces.  Put the bacon into a pan and cook until the it is crispy.  Meanwhile, dice the onion.  Cook the diced onion and the olive oil in a small pot until the onions are transparent.  Add the Parmesan cheese and stir.  Drain and rinse one can of the beans and add to the pot.  Add the beans the juices from the second can into the pot.  Add the cooked bacon and bring the “sauce” to a boil.
It almost, kind of, sort of, looked like an alfredo sauce!  Not to mention, it smelled amazing.

Drain the pasta.  Mix the sauce and the pasta together.  Serve hot.
Quick.  Easy.  Delicious.  You’re welcome!

Would you try this as an emergency dinner recipe?

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