30 May 2014

7 Quick Takes on moldy coffee pots, Mom dates, and parents who want their teens to wear short shorts

1.  Last Sunday my Mom and I went to the see the movie "Moms Night Out."  Whoa.  I haven't laughed so hard in a movie in a long time...like we're talking laughing so hard I almost choked on a Milk Dud.  Do yourself a favor and whether you be a Mom or not, go see it!  You'll laugh, cry, and it just has a great message.
After the movie I convinced Momsy to take a selfie with me.  I follow Patricia Heaton on Twitter and told Mom I would tweet our pic to her.  So when she responded I pretty much felt famous amos.

2.  On Memorial Day,  we went to Kohl's for summer attire for the husband.  We stayed on our budget, didn't use a credit card, and got $20 of Kohl's cash.  Sounds good to me:)

3.  After making dinner one night this week, I was wiping up the counters after being up to my elbows in chicken salmonella remains from fajita making.  I glanced toward the direction of our coffee pot and was slightly horrified when I discovered this....
Nothing like some chunks o' mold to make you sick to your stomach.  No my husband and I are not animals; we bath and brush our pearly whites daily.  Jim is the only one who drinks coffee; I just had my first coffee drink from Starbucks this past November.  When he makes coffee he will re-microwave a pot for the whole week.  I guess this time he let the pot sit a little longer than a week.
BUT you can believe when I came home from work yesterday and saw washing the dishes (including this science project) I was a happy camper.  Mold free really is the way to be.

Shower shoes for college!!
4.  The season of graduation parties is upon me now.  I am currently working on some top-secret gifts for the graduating seniors from our youth program.  Along with the flip flops, I am giving each of them a poster for their dorm room.  Its black and white with an image of a light bulb and salt shaker.  Underneath it reads, "Be these.  Matthew 5:13-16".  I love making special, unique gifts and I hope they will love them as much as I loved making them.
5.  I had a parent meeting on Wednesday night with final details for a youth conference we are going to this summer.  Whenever I have these type of meetings there are always the "certain" reminders that need to be talked about: no drugs/alcohol, be kind, appropriate dress.
Well I started talking about the dress code; specifically talking about girls not wearing too short of shorts and no spaghetti straps.  We are going to a Christian conference so I didn't think I was asking anything too crazy. One parent said something to the effect of "but all the girls today wear short, cute lacy shorts"...and just went on from there.  I am not asking the girls to wear brown paper bags but the whole debate over short shorts we had was something I wasn't prepared for.  

6.  I had another young lady sign up for our World Youth Day pilgrimage in July 2016.  She is an alumni of the youth ministry program and she will be a great addition.  Even though its just over two years away, I am already totally stoked to get in some international traveling again.  We are currently at a merry band of 11 and maybe 12 (still waiting for another to confirm their decision).

7.  I am on Week 2, day 3 of Couch to 5K.  I'm really proud that its been two weeks and I'm still sticking with this.  Word on the the street week 4 and 5 are a tough adjustment, but I now I can do it...not to mention the whole physical exertion thing is good for overall health too.  I also went to my first Weight Watcher meeting in like over 2 years.  Sure I still weigh in weekly, but honestly I have been doing a half ass job for way too long.  I'm getting back to weekly meetings and it felt feel good (and humbling) last week to get back into the habit of it.

Go hang out with Jen and her weekly crew too!

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

28 May 2014

Birthday Cake Chocolate Chip Cookies

Birthdays were always sweet celebrations growing up.  But I like think you don't need to wait for a birthday for a celebration; enter in these cookies.  Birthday Cake Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookies...made with Cake Mix and Birthday Cake Oreos. be.still.my.beating.sugar.crazed.heart.  

I like cake.  I also happen to have a thing for cookies.  So combining the two together is completely earth shattering. 

Start with these little yummies...and have some extra on hand for snacking

Break them up and add to the batter...exercise great self control to not nibble at the cookie chunks

Throw some white cake mix into the batter

Along with sprinkles and chocolate chips

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cake mix
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sprinkles
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups chopped Birthday Cake Golden Oreos
1//  Blend butter and sugar together for about a minutes until light and fluffy. Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth

2//  With mixer on low add in baking soda, salt, flour and cake mix, stirring until mixture just comes together

3//  Add in sprinkles, chocolate chips, and chopped Oreos. Mix together until evenly distributed

4//  Preheat oven to 350°

5//  Line baking sheet with parchment paper and form dough into round balls, placing them about 2 inches apart

6//  Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes until edges are slightly golden

7//  Allow to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes (if you can wait that long) and transfer to to a plate where you're set to chow down

8//  Don't forget a cold glass of milk too

Minus the two whole sticks of butter, I cannot imagine making regular chocolate chip cookies again.

Celebrate good times. C'mon.

26 May 2014

When recipes don't turn out Pinterest perfect

I have been married almost two years.  At our shower, we got a lot of cook books.  I think guests were secretly trying to send me a message.  Oddly enough I have never even cracked the binder on any of those gifts, and really looked to the online world of cook booking (Pinterest) to help me become Suzy Homemaker.

When I follow the recipe, its highly likely about 85% the dish will turn out well and there will be happy, full tummies at home.  However 15% of the time, there have been some special incidents where it felt like the glamour of Pinterest cooking failed me.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars 1. Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
For Easter dinner, I was bringing a dessert and wanted to do something more fancy.  The flavor combo of lemon/blueberry was up my ally, not to mention cheesecake.  Need I say more?

The day before Easter I re-read the recipe several times and felt confidant it would turn out great.  Well once again I was reminded HOW closely one should really read the instructions.  The two packages of cream cheese needed to be room temperature.  Instead, I hastily mixed in semi-firm cream cheese.

After taking the bars out of the oven, they just looked weird.  Instead of that smooth, creamy looking cheesecake they looked more like curled cream cheese bars.  Thankfully, my stomach knows not ugly...but its definitely interesting explaining at Easter dinner that the dessert is "safe to eat".

2.  Healthy Banana Oatmeal Cookies
The "healthy" part should have tipped me off right away...I want to be healthy, but cookies I like better sweet and sugary.

I know I followed the recipe on this one, but when I took them out of the oven Jim told me the cookies looked like donkey turds.  Thanks dear, always free with the affirmations.
If that were the worst of it that would have been one thing, but the taste on these things was HORRIBLE. 
Like the horrible when you have to wipe your tongue down with paper napkins.  This one will never be a repeat.ever.

3. Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream
I had really, really high hopes for this one...homemade ice cream with chocolate and peanut butter? yes.please.  I did use a blender instead of food processor, but I don't think that would make that big a difference, would it? Who knows....

Anyways back to the ice cream making.  I blended and added what I was supposed too and though I was doing good.  At all the blending the taste was kinda bland, but I had hope that maybe throwing it in the freezer would help.
The picture for the recipe on Pinterest looked like this...

And my final product looked like this...
After putting it in the freezer for an hour, I tasted it (hence the spoon markings).  

Obviously it tasted like banana but that was all; the cocoa and peanut butter didn't do much for flavor.  I tried to pawn some off on Jim the next morning for breakfast, but that didn't seem to work.  3 days later I forgotten about it in the freezer.  Currently I am thawing out this banana-poo-like-substance so I can have my cereal bowl back. 

What has been your biggest cooking failure so far?

22 May 2014

The time has come...to kick debt out!

I've always considered myself more of a spender.  My parents encouraged me the importance of saving so much from each paycheck and such, but it never really stuck with me.  I remember even as a teen Mom teaching me the envelope system  to set aside my cash for all expenses and save the rest (she was doing things the Dave Ramsey way before it was popular;).
When a paycheck came, it seemed like the money was gone as quickly as it was deposited into the bank.

Fast forward a few years to college.  Even though I worked 2 jobs through college and my parents helped me, I still didn't have enough money.  $34,000 dollars plus a well loved Visa card made it difficult to transition to being financially stable after graduation...oh did I forgot to mention I actually took out a loan to go to Europe?!  Clearly I was doing just fine handling my money the way I was.

Then of course, a few years later I met my husband.
We dated, fell in love, and got hitched. 
Thankfully he had no school debt when we married.

After we got back from our honeymoon, the reality of being financially stable as our own little family hit me. and freaked me out. way.out.  I will honestly say up until know we were living paycheck to paycheck.  And that sucked.a lot.

Sure we were paying our bills, but we both were spending irresponsibly and neither one of us were sticking faithfully to a budget with gazelle like intensity .  I would harp on Jim saying we need to put money into savings so we can afford a house someday...but how can we save for a house when we have a total of $38,800 dollars in debt looming over us and we're not really doing much with it?

Last fall I signed up to take Financial Peace University at our church.  After two sessions, I felt overwhelmed and frustrated trying to do it on my own while Jim was crazily working through grad school.  So I put it aside and said we would come back to it when we both could commit.

Well that time has now come folks.

Two months ago I had the courage to pick up and read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.  Honestly, I think I had been secretly avoiding it since fall 2012.  What I read was mind-blowing!  I finished the book in over a week.

I went crazy with my highlighter & dog-eared half of it.  I would excitedly tell Jim all this stuff I was realizing for the first time in my life.  My friend Mary and her husband are really into Dave Ramsey and they paid of all their debt last July; her experience and reading this book with great furry gave me the motivation to take the jump.

Two weeks ago I paid off my credit card for the last time.  It be gone.  I'm a little embarrassed to say we have made our first official budget since getting married.  Our budget kicks off in June.  We went online and purchased some Dave Ramsey tools to help us figure out what the heck we're doing.  Of course this is all still new and we're learning, but after adding in all our debts (my car, Jim's credit card, my college loans) it looks like we could be debt free in summer/fall 2016. 

I am excited, nervous, and scared to death all at the same time.  Jim is really excited and likes using the online tools. I'm really thankful for that because when I get all crazy-overwhelmed-emotional about this stuff, its good to have him help ground me down to earth.

I already am anticipating there will be times I want to throw my Dave Ramsey book across the room, yell, curse, and will likely want to throw a hissy fit because saying no to my instant gratification doesn't feel good.  But you know what feels worse?  The worrying and uncertainty about money.
If we don't get our act together now, how can we provide and set a good example financially to our kids someday?

Its the right time to do this...to start living like no one else so later we can live like no one else.

16 May 2014

7QT: A leprechaun museum, good books, & being a competitive bear...

1. Sunday was a crazy, fun, loud day.  The morning started with my very first 5K, eek!  My Mom, sister, and I did this 5K together for ovarian cancer in support of a very special lady in our lives, my aunt.  Honestly, I was totally surprised how much fun it was!  We all had matching headbands "4AC" and met some amazing survivors who were hopeful and encouraging to talk too.  There was a lot of joy present, which was great for the three of us gals...cannot wait to have Aunt Carolyn there with us next year.  At one point the race officials asked if any survivors were present, and one woman kept her hand raised proudly for being in remission for almost 14 years, with her toddler son bouncing on her hip...what a miracle!  It was a gorgeous day, and have even decided to start training to run a 5K with the program "Couch to 5K."  I know I can totally do it and who knows maybe next year I'll do the 10K!? :)

Later that evening we went to my folks for dinner and the most insane.loud.crazy. game of Taboo I have ever seen.  I can get a wee bit competitive at times, and was lectured by mi madre for the unkind.mean. things I said to Jim...sorry for the sass dear.

Guess who's going to Ireland!?
After dinner, we unleashed a bomb of a Mother's Day present.  All us siblings and spouses decided to open up a savings account which over the next year's we will put money into for birthdays, holidays, etc. so in 2-3 years Ma and Pa Breen will have airfare covered to visit Ireland.  The three of us kids have spent a lot time gallivanting across Europe, and we all decided it was time for these two to go.  They were both shocked, we got em' good.  Mom cried, and Dad said he wouldn't let us...okay you don't wanna go to Ireland, I'm very happy to step in ;-)
In the end they agreed, and Mom is happily planning activities to do like visiting the Irish famine and Leprechaun museums.  Maybe we should start investing in a good tour guide now? I think so.

2.  With May brings the winding down of another year in youth ministry.  This year the youth leaders have been wanting give the youth room a makeover.  So after a few trips to Home Depot and a couple containers of chalkboard paint we were set to go.  We painted large area's around the TV with the chalkboard paint and each teen chose a brick on the brick wall to paint/design.  Then some teens wanted to put their hand print on the wall.  And then another one decided to put her foot print on the wall.  A ruined manicure and three hours later, things looked great!  It was a fun way to spend an afternoon together, especially with the seniors who are graduating in a few weeks.

3.  Along with the year winding down for the summer months, I am starting to interview teens for the leadership team next year.  I was reading the application of one young lady before she cam to her interview yesterday.  It made my heart smile when I read her answer to a particular question: "I want to be a part of the leadership team because at youth group I feel accepted, loved, and a part of something bigger than me.  I want other teens my age to have that same experience too."  There are certainly times where my job makes me want to pull my hair out, but moments like this make me feel honored for getting to work with and for the young church.

4.  I am not Polish.  I am Irish and Greek...though you would never guess that as I am lovely shade of pasty white.  One thing I like about the Polish culture is the food.  I am eagerly looking forward to enjoying a Polish festival tonight with Jim and a friend of ours.  Looking forward to enjoying some tasty Polish goodness.

5.  On Monday I'm getting together with a crew of Michigan bloggers to get together and chat about Jen's new book, Something Other Than God.  Its kind of cool to think these gals you follow in the blog-o-sphere, and now I'll be spending an afternoon with them.

book animated GIF
I.cannot.stop.reading.  I have always loved a good book, but once you stop watching TV I'm amazed how much time I find for other, more important things.  In the last month or so, I have finished 4-6 good books.  Right now I'm reading Jennifer Hudson's memoir; she was on American Idol and is a spokesperson for Weight Watchers.  It comes at a good time for me to motivate and encourage me to stick with food plan that has helped me keep a good amount off weight off...know I just need to really follow the plan.
If you're looking for some good books to read this summer, check some of these out!

7.  Thursday I grabbed lunch with 2 of the young women who went with me on our World Youth Day pilgrimage to Brazil last July.  It was the first time us ladies were together since coming home; it was great to catch up, share memories, and laugh at some of the crazy things we encountered while in Rio de Janeiro.  Every time I see this picture I cannot help laugh...I just look so crazed here. #funtimesinrio
American posers on Copacabana beach. typical.

11 May 2014

10 things I forgot to thank Mom for

Its easy to thank my Mom for the noticeable things in life like teaching me my faith, giving me siblings, and oh yeah that whole "giving birth to me thing" too...but I have been thinking about the other little, random things in between too recently.
Maybe some of you can relate? Grand:)

So Mama Cita thank you for....

1.  Putting up with my sassy girl ways over the years and frequent rolling of my eyes to you and/or Pops

2. Reading me with me every night before going to bed when I was growing up: my favorites were the Nancy Drew mysteries and Little House on the Prairie series

3.  Always telling me there is nothing I can't come to you with, than I can tell you anything

4.  Teaching me how the trick to finding the perfect shade of lipstick and how to pluck my eyebrows...oh and not totally freaking the freak out the time I royally screwed up my eyebrows in high school

5.  Teaching me how to clean well, especially the bathroom...your tricks of the the trade have done me well

6.  all.the.driving. School, going to the mall, games, rehearsals, concerts...all the years of shuttling us kids around

7.  Getting up in the middle of the night to help me change my sheets when I had an accident during my bed-wetting phase

8.  All those times on Sunday getting ready for church you reminded me to wear a slip and/or asked me if I was wearing one...its become second nature for me by now ;)

9.  Buying me that nasty-horrible nail polish to put on my nails to help me stop biting them...I attribute my healthy strong nails to you She She

10. Helping me love and talk nice to myself...when girls were mean/teased me in elementary school you had me go in front of the bathroom mirror and say positive things to myself

For these and much much more Momsy, muchas gracias! 

01 May 2014

Problems with pork loin and M&M obstacles...

pork loin, apples, honey and cinnamon - 7 hours in the crockpot.1.  Last Saturday, we had a friend over a dinner and I was thrilled to try a new recipe, a pork loin roast. The recipe sounded pretty easy: slice up pork loin roast, put apple slices between each slice, throw in dashes of honey/cinnamon, and let it cook in the crock pot for a few hours.  Well the meat was nice and tender, but apparently honey and cinnamon are not the most flavor packed spices.  It tasted decent, but at the same time was kinda bland.  Live and learn. At least it was better than the time I ruined the waffle maker or made cookies that Jim said looked like "donkey turds".

2.  Since saying farewell to Netflix, I'm fascinated how much time I don't waste watching TV and actually really don't miss it that much.  Less TV time, has helped me really get back into reading.  Since December I've finished about 7 or 8 different books.

I went to the library on Monday to pick up a copy of this book I have been wanting to read for awhile now.  Its the story of a woman who at a young age got into a successful modeling career which eventually took her to win the Victoria's Secret Fashion show in 2009 at age 19.  Along her journey, she became a Christian.  I was intrigued by this story line because I know sometimes I look at models/compare myself to them and think they have it all together, look perfect, and happy/successful women.  Kylie opens up and talks about the dark side of all the glamour: emptiness, loneliness, feeling you're never good enough--even when a size 2, and being objectified by an entire industry.  It was a great read; so much so, I finished it all on Monday night...late Monday night.

3.  Feeling angry?  Here are some ideas on how NOT to handle it...I've learned the hard way.  If you ain't kicking a hole in a door, you're one step ahead of me folks.

4.  Last night was special night out with my Mom, sister, and MIL.  Every spring a local church has a lady's night out at a local banquet hall: there's good food, drinks, shopping, and different women speakers speaking on a faith based theme.  This year the theme was 'Cloud of Witnesses' and women who spoke shared their stories of faith and perseverance.  One of the women who spoke was Amy O'Rourke, the wife of police officer Patrick O'Rourke from the metro Detroit community.  Almost 2 years ago, Amy's husband was shot and killed by man who eventually took his own life.  Amy's talk was SO inspiring: she speaks her their strong shared faith and how she forgives, and knows in the deepest part of her heart, her husband forgave the man who killed him.
Her faith, hope, sorrow, and message of forgiveness were incredible...and there wasn't a dry eye in that banquet hall.

5.  So Jen's book is officially out...mine came in the mail yesterday & I'm tearing into it like a monkey on a cupcake.  I'm REALLY excited to hopefully get together sometime this month with these lovelies: Jenna, Dwija, and Iris for an epic selfie picture with Jen's book & have a book release party together!!!

6.  I was pretty disappointed when I heard Verily magazine would no longer be in print...but another magazine I signed up for, arrived for the first time this week.
Relevant is a Christian magazine for young adults.  It covers culture, music, faith, international issues, and intentional living.  I was so excited when I saw my first issue in the mail box this week.  Its a great read, and has some thought provoking articles to make you think.
If you're looking for something to challenge you & open your eyes of faith more, Relevant is a great option!!

This picture sums me up SO.well.

Growing up, my version of trail mix consisted of picking out the raisins and M&M's...cause really we all know that's the point of the trail mix right?

Well this week Jim came home one day to find the trail mix totally naked of chocolate/salty goodness. All that was left was a bowl of picked over cashews and almonds....needless to say he wasn't thrilled.  And then I had to explain all the nut leftovers in the trash.... #longstory  #funtimes

Linking up with the official authoress herself!!

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