Saturday, July 26, 2014

10 Amazing Sam's Club Buys

Warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam's Club can be hit or miss when it comes to saving money. In some areas, it's simply not worth the trip (I think one of the reasons Nate doesn't like shopping with me is because I walk around saying, "I can get this cheaper at the commissary/Target/HEB with coupons."). If you're using a warehouse club, do yourself a favor and steer clear of things like boxed cereals, sodas, detergent and other cleaning supplies. You really can get them cheaper somewhere else. The produce is also hit or miss because local grocers change their ads once a week, which means one week HEB is cheaper, the next Sam's Club is cheaper. It requires a lot of attention to detail, which doesn't happen with E, so I kind of use my best judgment (FYI - $1.50 for a pound of strawberries is a good price). 

However, there are some things that I tend to buy exclusively at Sam's Club. Paper goods (because I'm too lazy to look for coupons/deals and we're very brand loyal) and some other items. I thought I'd share some of the "other items" with you since they're almost always a bargain at Sam's.

Vanilla Extract: If you look on Amazon, you can find this for about $10. At my local grocery store, it's about $6-7 for 4 ounces. This bottle, at 16 oz, is a steal in my opinion. I especially like to buy this around the holidays because I never have enough vanilla.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Growing your own organic food

Freshly picked acorn squash and cucumber. 

It's been awhile since I've posted anything remotely crunchy so I thought that today I'd highlight my husband's efforts in the crunchy department.

One of the ways he works out stress is by gardening. However, he doesn't have a typical garden. He's created an aquaponics garden on our patio. He literally put in blood, sweat and tears (OK, maybe not tears) to create this awesome garden that provides us with organic fruits and veggies year round.

So what is aquaponics, you ask? It's a self-sustaining water garden. No soil required. Basically, you have a fish tank (ours has tilapia, catfish and we recently added koi) and the dirty fish water is sent to your grow beds where the dirty water fertilizes the plants. The plants then send filtered, clean water back down to your fish tank. All you have to do is feed the fish (although we have an automatic fish feeder now) and trim the plants. Oh and when one fish starts to get too large and dominate the tank, you take him out, throw him on the grill and enjoy a nice meal. Seriously.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Stitch Fix: Spruce Up Your Wardrobe

Several weeks ago, I cleaned out my closet - when you look through your clothes and see college t-shirts, nursing tops and old work clothes you know you need a new wardrobe. Even Nate agreed that adding a few pieces here and there would spruce things up (hey, I have to attend his work events. I can't look raggedy and I can't wear the same thing every time). So as a reward for cleaning out my closet, I joined Stitch Fix.

A friend of mine (hey, Jenn!) had posted about her experience on Facebook a few times and she was so pleased with the service I wanted to give it a shot. If I had to describe it in five words, I'd say it's a personal shopper monthly subscription box. 

For $20 a month, a personal shopper takes your sizes and preferences and picks out boutique clothes and accessories that are trendy and fit your personal style. The stylist picks five items, puts them in a box and mails them to your door. You try on the five items, pick out the ones you want to keep and mail the rest back (within three days). If you choose an item, the $20 service fee is put toward the cost of that item. If you pick all five items, you get a discount. If you pick zero items, you're still stuck with the $20 service fee (hey, they have bills to pay too).

When I signed up they were so busy that I couldn't get my first box for six weeks. And much to my delight, my first box showed up yesterday! Here are a few photos. 

This would be perfect for a work event or even more casual with jeans.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Unexpected Poop

Yep, that pretty much sums up my day. Let's break it down, shall we?
  • Poison control. This morning, E decided it would be a super idea to eat some of Nate's deodorant. And before you get onto me about watching him better, I was standing right there. Apparently while I was brushing my teeth, he was "brushing" his with a finger full of blue deodorant. At first, I thought he was only playing with it and then I got a whiff of Old Spice coming from his mouth. Sigh. Made a call to poison control and she told me not to worry and not to feel bad. Apparently, they get this call all day long. Not sure if she was trying to make me feel better or if that's true (either way it made me feel better). And no, we can't childproof the drawers because we're renting and have no desire to buy new cabinetry. Hopefully the taste was deterrent enough for the future. Ugh, poop. 

Monday, July 14, 2014


There are days when the only place E wants to nap is on my lap. Usually he starts out in his crib, wakes up about halfway through his nap and wants to snuggle for another 30 minutes to an hour. I really enjoy that time together because we get some extra bonding in (he is SO peaceful when he sleeps) and it forces me to sit down and relax. Forget the laundry, the dishes and yes, even my workout. It's time to put our feet up.

One other bonus is that I can catch up on my television shows. This is great because I rarely sit down to watch primetime television anymore (hooray for on demand). In the summer, it's not such a big deal because programming sucks, but in the fall it's my link to Scandal. Right now, I'm only watching Naked & Afraid and Ladies of London so the other day I went searching for something new to watch. I stumbled down the E! rabbit hole and wasted several hours (not all at once) of my life watching #richkidsofbeverlyhills. Yes, there's literally a hashtag in the name of the show. That should've been the first red flag.

Because it's kind of a train wreck. The people on the show aren't "kids", but rather adults in their mid-20's to early 30's. Oh and they are legitimately loaded. Most of them are spending their parents' money, not their own, but either way they are rolling in cash. Are they part of the famous Instagram account? This must be where they found these people.

There's not much of a plot to any of the shows. They host a blood drive in one. They take an anniversary trip to Cabo in another. They have fights (fake fights?) about itemizing the bill after a night out (seems a bit cheap, doesn't it?). For the most part they sit around drinking or go out shopping. The people are...quirky...but it's a contrived quirkiness for sure. When I watch them talking it's like they're behaving how they think reality stars should behave. I should say XYZ because it's expected or because it's funny (it's not) or because I want to play to the camera (bingo).

But I keep watching because a) there's nothing else on television and b) the way they spend money is obscene and I can't help but watch. The amount of cash they drop on a whim is totally nuts. Thirty grand on a purse? Or a night out at the club? Or to rent a yacht for a few hours? The frack. It really shows you how the other half lives. Then again, are their parents (the ones who actually earned the money) spending cash that way? Somehow I doubt it. The rich don't get rich by blowing all their cash on handbags and champagne.

At least when I waste time watching the Ladies of London there are some charity events thrown in the mix (their tiny blood drive barely counts) and they have real jobs. I need to find better programming to watch. Any suggestions? Oh look. Abbey Lee Miller has a new show where she saves dance studios!

Why yes, I would like to watch this episode from June.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Reinventing breakfast: Chia Pancakes

If you've been following my blog, you know that E has become a wicked picky eater (sigh). If he could eat ham at every meal he'd be one happy camper. I thought I had found a new option for breakfast with the oatmeal cups, but he's recently started turning his nose up at them (or rather, pushing it away with his hand and saying "ba", also known as "no"). However, he loves pancakes (who doesn't?) so I decided to make our recipe a bit healthier so I wouldn't feel so guilty about feeding it to him (it has to be better than bagels, right?).

First, start off with Heart Smart Bisquick. If you want to get really crunchy, you could make your own pancake base and keep it in a sealed container in the pantry. I'm not there yet (man, I love Bisquick), but let me know if you have a good recipe and maybe I'll try it out (maybe). So, 2 cups of Bisquick, 1 egg and 1 1/4 cups of almond milk (we prefer the vanilla almond milk).

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Upcycle your clothes

My closet is was a wreck. Nate thinks that I'm a hoarder (I'm not. I've seen the show) and to be fair, I do have a tendency to hold on to clothes. I don't know if I think they'll come back in style or if I might need them someday because my weight fluctuates...the excuses vary. He could've picked out any item and I would've had an excuse to keep it (but the color! the fit! the memories!) even if I hadn't worn it in years.

But no more. After going through a pregnancy, there are certain things that will never fit again (and that's probably for the best in some cases) and it's time to update my wardrobe. So I went through everything in the closet and made piles - keep, donate, sell.

Unfortunately, I'm horrible at selling things. And I know that using eBay is "easy" but it's just not for me. I don't want to post something there and then keep track of it and worry about shipping it if it sells. Drag a toddler to the post office? No thank you. And I know you can print labels from home, but I don't have a scale and I don't want to stockpile flat rate boxes (the color! the fit! the memories! - excuses, right?). Instead, I decided to "upcycle" my clothes by selling them to a website that specializes in used clothing.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Toddler-Friendly Day Trip: Waco

Now that E is doing better in his car seat, we've started venturing farther out on the weekends. About two weeks ago, we decided to take a day trip to Waco (an hour away from our house). I'd read about a farmer's market online and wanted to check it out, although we went cautiously since we've been burned before (I'm looking at you "farmer's market" in Austin).

Right, so the farmer's market website made it sound amazing was! One of the best features is that the market is run on an 80/20 ratio meaning that 80 percent of the products being sold have to be agricultural. This is perfect for us because while I don't mind skimming a handmade soap booth, I really go to the market for food (much like our dog, this is one of my primary motivators). 

The market is also in a great location (downtown by the water) and they had several food trucks throughout the area. We stopped for crepes (Nate got the seasonal peach one and it was amazing. My blackberry one was just OK), but there were other hot options like a brick oven pizza (literally saw an oven there), breakfast burritos and a tempting bakery truck. We also picked up a basket of peaches, some blackberries and a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. There was something for everyone, especially if that something falls into the organic meat, wine, sweets, tamales or kimchi arena (yes, even kimchi).