Friday, April 30, 2010

Winner of the Homedics Digital Bathroom Scale

I'm finally feeling better - and I finally have use of a computer. I had a head cold that turned into a sinus infection. Unfortunately, this yucky cough is still sticking around. And then my husband's paper for his capstone class was due today, so he's been monopolizing the computer for the last few days. But, the paper's written and I'm feeling better, so here I am! And, on a happier note, my husband is officially done with school!!! Now we can move on to bigger and better things!

Anyway, it's time to announce the winner of the Homedics Digital Bathroom Scale. I used Random,org and the winner is comment #11!

Schmidty says, "I want to lose weight because I've hit that point in my life that I really, truly, never thought would get here. I've slowly picked up a pound here and a pound there until I'm carrying 15 too many and have realized the longer I wait to take them off the harder it will be. :) Thanks for the chance to win!"

So, Schmidty, email me at with your address and I'll get the scale mailed out to you!

Thanks for all the comments! I know that you'll all be able to achieve your weight loss goals!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Still Under the Weather...

I haven't been around for the last few days because I've been feeling horrible, still! I think my cold has turned into a sinus infection and I'm hoping to get into the doctor tomorrow. I have very little energy and my brain's pretty foggy. Trying to come up with comprehensible blog posts is pointless, so I'm just going to take a couple days off.

Thanks for sticking around! Hopefully I'll be up and running again soon!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Heavenly Cheesecake Brownies

I know this goes against everything that has to do with eating better and being healthy, but I just had to share these. After all, everyone needs some to die for recipes in their repertoire, or just some good comfort food!

There is an actual recipe for the brownie part, but I've just used a brownie mix and it turns out amazing. You could use any other brownie recipe you have too, if you don't like the box mixes. This is the recipe as written. I wish I knew where I got it but I really can't remember. It's just something I added to my electronic cookbook.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Nonstick spray coating
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. For chocolate batter, in a saucepan melt the unsweetened chocolate and butter over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in the 1-1/3 cups sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Cool 15 minutes. Beat in the 3 eggs and the 3/4 cup flour.
2. For cheesecake filling, in a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, the 1/3 cup sugar, 1 egg, 4 teaspoons flour, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.
3. Spray an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with nonstick coating. Spread two-thirds of the chocolate batter in the pan. Spoon cheesecake filling over batter. Dollop with remaining chocolate batter.
4. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate pieces. Bake for 12 minutes more. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Makes 16 bars.

Like I said, I've just used a box mix, which is usually enough for a 13x9 pan. So if you use the box mix, you need to decrease the temp to about 325 degrees and up the time to about 45-55 minutes. Then mix the cheesecake filling and finish as directed. If you want to make them prettier on top, you can swirl the dollops around with a knife.

These are SO good!!!

Time out Thursday: A Call for Home Remedies

I'm dying over here, ladies. The sinus pressure in my head is so overwhelming that it kept me awake for part of the night last night. I've had a sore throat for about a week now. And it's not a horrible sore throat, it's more annoying than anything. I can still easily swallow and talk (though I sound very nasally), though there's some constant "pressure," if you will. . So I don't think it's strep throat. That was my first inclination when the sore throat stuck around, but I've had strep before and this does not feel like a strep-like sore throat. My nose is stuffy and runny off and on and I've got a very productive cough to boot. I just feel like crap - and I'm miserable. I haven't had a fever, so that makes me feel better.

What kills me is that I have an AMAZING immune system, but I got my butt kicked by illnesses this winter. My immune system is literally the best ever. Every year my husband gets some stomach bug for about 48 hours. From the time we were dating up until now (almost 6 years), I have NEVER, EVER gotten it. I usually get one or two colds a year with the change of the seasons, but this year has been awful. We all got the flu in October (thanks to some very inconsiderate people at school, which is a rant for another day) which is what started it. I haven't had the flu since I was like 12! There must have been something horrible in the new strains this year. And then literally 2 days after I felt better, I started with another sore throat and had another cold that stuck around for like 2 weeks. I think I felt horrible for like a month solid. And I've had another 3 or 4 colds since then. I know having the flu weakens your immune system, but geeze!

What kills me even more is what my husband said to me yesterday. He just started getting sore throat on Tuesday.

"You know what confuses me? How I always seem to get sicker than you do," he said.

Pretty shocked, I retorted, "No, that's not true. I just deal with it better than you do." You big baby, I thought to myself.

"No, I don't think that's the case. You don't ever complain about it like I do. I get completely miserable and dou always have the energy to just keep going. You don't get sick like I do."

"Ummm, you want to rethink that one? I don't have a choice - I still have responsibilities to deal with."

He walked away muttering something under his breath. I was a little furious though. I don't get as sick? Ummm, no. I just don't get to sit around whining about how crappy I feel. I still have a house to clean, and a little boy and grown man to look after! I don't get days off. *Sigh*

Anyway, my real point is to ask for any home remedies that help you feel better when you're under the weather. Are there any miracle medicines you've come across? I'm willing to try just about anything! And is there anything you do to strengthen your immune system? Herbs, vitamins, supplements, anything? Thanks!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

MLM is now on Twitter!

So for the past almost year, I've been a loyal Facebook user. But I've decided to expand my horizons and join the Twitter family! You can follow me by clicking on the button below or by searching for MyLifeMakeover.

I'm still getting used to it, so bear with me as I get it going. But I've love to see you over there!

Follow MyLifeMakeover on Twitter

Weightloss Wednesday: Strengths and Weaknesses

Unfortunately, when it comes to eating habits, exercise, and the like, my weaknesses greatly outweigh my strengths. So here's the good, the bad, and the ugly. We'll start with the ugly first. You have to know where you need help in order to know where you can improve.

  • Carbs - all forms of breads, pastries, and ooey-gooey goodness
  • Snacks - salty, sweet, and anything in between!
  • I'm not very fond of many fruits and vegetables
  • I don't like exercising. I don't think I'll ever be one of those people who looks forward to going to the gym...
  • I don't like the mess that cooking makes, so I accept every opportunity to eat out
  • I like baking, despite the mess. But that means I have muffins, brownies, and cookies laying around all the time...not good!
  • My husband's job - he works at a restaurant. Enough said!
  • The fact that I'm an emotional and stress eater
  • I don't drink soda, so it's not something I have to try and cut out
  • I drink mainly water, so getting the suggested daily amount is not hard
  • I don't like much candy, so it's not a temptation
  • I do actually like cooking
  • I have meal plans and buy so that I can make complete meals
  • Probably the biggest one - I have the desire to be healthy!

So how do I work past my weaknesses and avoid temptation? That's the challenge. Whether or not I actually every enjoy exercising, the big thing is changing my eating habits. Otherwise I'm still going to be stuffing my face with junk and I'll never get where I want to be. So, I need to change what I actually bring into the house. The means I need to stop buying the junk food and I need to stop getting the ingredients to make the ooey-gooey goodies. Things like chocolate chips and brownie mixes need to stay at the store. I also need to stick to my meal plans and just say no to fast food and restaurants. Whenever I'm tempted to eat elsewhere, I need to think about the amount of calories, the chemicals, and unnecessary fat and sodium that's in all that crap. It is truly CRAP! Why would I want to put that in my body? Because it tastes good? When I'm tempted, I need to take a step back and look at the big picture.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you avoid temptation?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Time at Home Tuesday: Doing the Dirty Work

I'd have to say that the bane of my existence is housework. I have so many other things that I'd rather be doing - so many! But, alas, it must be done. I really don't want my house looking like the ones you see on reality TV shows like Clean House, Hoarders, or whatever other ones are out there. We don't actually have cable, so I'm not sure if those are actually shows - but you know which ones I'm talking about. So unfortunately, the housework must be done. Oh, and just to clarify, that is NOT my house. That's from some TV show called "How Clean is Your House?"
Before my son was born, I was really good at cleaning. I would set aside one night a week to do the bigger cleaning jobs (bathroom, vacuuming, etc). Usually I did it because I was bored and because my husband was at work anyway. But once I got pregnant, things started to change. I had less energy, I couldn't move around as well, etc. I could list lots of excuses! But that's exactly what they are - excuses.

One of my biggest pet peeves concerning housework is that it just keeps getting dirty again! I finish doing dishes (no dishwasher here) and 10 minutes there's another pile of dishes starting. I pick up the clothes and start laundry and an hour later my husband's underwear is laying on the bathroom floor, AGAIN! I've given up on folding my son's clothes, because his daily routine includes pulling them out and strewing them about the floor. Do you see where I'm going here?

So, one of my goals has been to be a better housekeeper. But I don't like to see myself as a "housekeeper." That makes me feel like Alice on The Brady Bunch. And even though they treated her well, thinking of myself as that kind of housekeeper makes me despise keeping my house clean. I also don't like to think of myself as having chores to do. That brings back some not so fond childhood memories about chore charts and such.

So, I'm not a housekeeper and I'm not doing chores. I am simply choosing to have a clean house! And I'm starting small and involving my son. One of the things I want to pass on to my children is the ability to clean. Not OCD cleanliness, just the ability to recognize messes and clean them up. Frankly, that isn't my husband's strong point and I don't want THAT trait to be passed on to my children.
So, small steps! Here's what I do to make my life a little easier, and cleaner.
Everyday, my son and I do dishes together. He LOVES being able to "help" and play in the water and I love making him happy. So seeing him happy is a motivator for me. We've been doing this for about a month or so now, and he's even started asking to do them. If we haven't done them by the time 3 or 4pm rolls around, he starts asking about, "help didtes." He knows that we pull the chair up to sink and he gets various dishes (clean, of course) with which he can play. So far, this method has been successful in keeping my sink and my kitchen, in general, cleaner. I'd say out of the last 30 days, we've only missed maybe 5 days. And those are usually because we've been too busy. What I love the most is not having piles of dishes to wade through. Dishes have always been my most hated cleaning job. Even before I got pregnant, I'd have a sink full of dishes. As sick as it sounds, I'd just gotten used to washing a few dishes when I needed them. You know, pull a few dirty ones out of the sink and clean them? Don't try to tell me you've never done that before.

Also, I use my son's bath time to straighten up the bathroom. I've got to be in the bathroom anyway, so why not make good use of my time. Of course, I also occasionally use this time to pluck my eyebrows or read a magazine. I don't use any of the really smelly cleaners while he's in the bathroom, but it helps keep my bathroom more tidy!

We don't have a playroom, so toys are usually scattered about the house during the day. But, I make sure that they're picked up and put away before my son goes to bed. I love being able to walk out of his room and hear the sound of silence and see a clean floor. I despise waking up in the morning and seeing the same mess that was there when I went to bed.

So, I'm slowly getting back into my routine of cleaning. I don't want cleaning to over take my life, but I want to be able to welcome people into my home without doing the mad cleaning dash. To be honest, I'd rather know that I've spent my time playing with my child(ren) than cleaning. I've always heard that kids remember the time you spent with them, not how clean your house was.
What do you do to help minimize your time spent cleaning? Do you have any tips to make cleaning easier?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mommy Moment!

My son definitely keeps me on my toes! So much so that I'm not sure how I'd ever manage having more than one child. Anyway, he has been quite the mess maker lately.

This afternoon, for lunch, I gave him some leftover mashed potatoes. He's never had a problem eating them before, but today he decided he wanted to smear them all over his face, his hair, and the high chair. Luckily they didn't fling too well so the mess was pretty well contained.

However, dinner rolled around and I gave him some spaghetti - which DOES have a good flinging range. I put him in his high chair, made sure he had his drink, and decided to pick up the house a bit. We don't usually have dinner together because of my husband's work schedule, so he was eating in his high chair watching Sesame Street. I noticed he had a small little pile of spaghetti on his tray, which didn't bother me. I walked into my bedroom to gather up some clothes and start a load of laundry. He wasn't making much noise, which should have been my first indicator. As I stepped out of the bedroom and headed into the laundry room, I felt this slimy little piece of something land on my cheek. I quickly flung it off my face, thinking it was a creepy, crawly spider (my arch enemy), but when I looked down I discovered it was *just* a spaghetti noodle!

That's right. My son managed to fling a fork full of spaghetti 15 feet across the room. I looked over at him with my frustrated mommy glare and he was staring right back at me with his mischievous little boy grin. Not only was his tray covered in spaghetti goop, but so was the floor around his high chair. He'll usually start playing with his food when he's done, but he also usually will tell us, "all done" when he's finished. He hadn't said a word!

I was tempted to be upset, but it's hard to be mad when my little man is giggling and looking at me with those baby blues. Fortunately, most of our apartment is tile. And fortunately I'd rolled up the rug earlier in the day because I'd planned on mopping and hadn't put it back down yet. Even more fortunately, I hadn't mopped yet because I forgot I was out of cleaner stuff.

Had I put the rug back down, not only would have I have had spaghetti sauce stains to try and remove, but I would have been digging those little Angel Hair noodles out of the rug for not only the next hour but I still would be finding them a week later! The rug is a mixture of browns and creams and they definitely wouldn't have been easy to find!

This is most definitely his biggest food mess. I sure am not looking forward to the terrible twos!

Mommy Time Monday: Educational & Creativity Tools

Right now, my main focus is helping my toddler love to learn. It's important to me to find activities for him that are both educational and fun. And they need to be fun for both of us. I don't want it to feel like a chore to be doing these things with him.

Most of the everyday things that we do with our children are teaching them things anyway. My son loves to "help" with dishes, so while I wash on one side of the sink, he gets to practice pouring and stirring on the other side. He's still at the age where pretty much everything he does is a learning experience, but I wanted something more - something to keep us focused on learning.

Here are a few resources that I've come across.

Fisher Price
One site, in particular, that I love is Fisher Price. Did you know that they have a Games and Activities section on their website and that there are activities geared towards infants and toddlers too!

They have games that infants, toddlers, and preschoolers can play online and even coloring pages you can print. One of my son's favorite games is the Infants ABC Zoo game. This particular game lets you hear and see different animals when you push a button on the keyboard. We like the infant version a little better because all he has to do is push a button and it will make the sound of the next animal. The toddler version is great too, but the animal you see and hear is based on the key that you push. So if you push "A" you hear about an alligator. Right now he's not so focused on picking a button to hear a certain animal - he just loves to push the buttons! They've got lots of other great online games too.

Besides the online games, they have a section called Play and Learn Family Activities which has ideas for learning activities you can do with your child. You're able to pick the age of your child (Birth to 6 years) and they give you a list of activities you can do. You can also click on each activity to get an explanation.

How cool is that? And it's all free!!! has some great ideas for learning activities you can do with your toddler. They also talk about other topics too, like potty training and discipline, which is helpful.

Their activities section has ideas for learning ABC's and 123's and Shapes & Colors, different Games you can try, Printout pages for coloring time, Rainy Day and Holiday ideas, and ideas for Art & Craft time. also has a lot of online learning activities and ideas for offline games for children from newborn to about age 12. I really enjoyed the ideas they had for Toddler Games. Most of their ideas can be done with things we already have around the house or are easily modified to work with what you have.

Of course, this site has a lot of advertising that you have to weed through, so be careful when you're clicking around. is geared toward young preschool- and toddler-aged children. The activities they offer are based around themes (holidays, seasons, etc).

Craft Stores
Also check out your local craft stores. I know that Michaels Arts & Craft stores have special classes geared toward children. Some of them cost, but they also have a lot of free "Make & Take" Activities in their stores. Those usually happen around holidays. They even have a crafting program geared directly towards parents and teachers to help children enjoy crafting called The Knack. In fact, they have a lot of free Mother's Day activities coming up. You can check them out on the Events Page. Be sure to check throughout May for more Mother's Day activities (send your hubby with the kids) and June for Father's Day activities. I worked at Michaels for a while and know that these events are supposed to happen in each store, but be sure to check with your local store to confirm times and dates.

If you have a large enough Joann's Fabric and Craft store, I think they also do some events and classes. But ours doesn't do them, so I have no idea what they're like. Click here to find out what's happening at your store.

Local Library
Besides online resources, you can also check out your local library for reading "groups." Most libraries have different times or activities for different ages. I'm a huge advocate for reading and we love taking trips to the library. Our library doesn't allow children under 3, but a neighboring city's library has a special toddler time. So if you're willing to drive a bit (it's only about 10 minutes for us), then make sure to check your neighboring cities.

Do you have any special websites or books that you use to facilitate learning and creativity? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Marketing Mondays

It's time for Marketing Monday which is hosted by Trendy Treehouse! Be sure to link up for some free advertising.

If you're looking for the Homedics Digital Bathrooom Scale Giveaway, click HERE to enter!

The Trendy Treehouse

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spiritual Sunday: Making Scriptures into a Workbook

Earlier in the week I came across an AWESOME idea for making scripture studying more meaningful. For me, it's not just about reading the words on the page, but about feeling the meaning behind them and getting the inspiration I need to be a good mother and a wife.

The Creative Homemaker has found a great way to do just that. She's turned her scriptures into "Picture/Work Book Scriptures" If you were LDS as a teenager, you might remember glue-ins. Her idea is a spin-off of those! With this method, she covers the pack of the picture so it's plain white and then uses that space to write down her thoughts. I agree with her that the margins just don't give you enough room to make significant notations. And this way, she has room to write but she also gets to feel the power and message of the pictures.

As a side note, her post has inspired me to make another sort of quiet book for my little guy using pictures from the Ensigns. My mom has a stash of Ensigns (a magazine published by the LDS church) from probably the mid 90's that she's been looking to get rid of. So I think I'm going to take a few off of her hands. So be sure to check back to see what I come up with!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

PR, Advertising, and Sponsors Welcome at MLM!

Mommy's Life Makeover (MLM) is open to reviewing and/or holding giveaways for products that are relevant to the blog. This includes, but is not limited to:
  • Weight loss, exercise, and nutrition products, books, or tools
  • Products designed to help in finance management
  • Products designed specifically for parents or families, especially those for learning or crafting
  • Products for use around the house
  • Any products or books specifically for Latter Day Saints

If you feel you have a product that fits with the theme and ideals of MLM, please feel free to contact me at

Advertising & Sponsorships
Mommy's Life Makeover (MLM) is open to advertising and/or sponsorships on our blog. If you would like your service or product represented at MLM, please feel free to contact me at to discuss the possibilities.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Finance Friday: Lawyers

**Disclaimer: I am not certified to give legal or financial advice. This is simply an explanation of my process. The ideas contained here are my own opinions.**

I had a reader post a comment, in reference to my bankruptcy post, asking about how to find a good lawyer. This actually isn't the first time I've had to go though the process for finding a lawyer. The first time was with some legal issues that my husband had. But, we still went through the screening process to find one we wanted to work with. I tried responding with a short comment, but after about 4 paragrahs, I decided to just make a post about my process. Then I could add in other details!

I feel very fortunate to have immdiately found a lawyer that I felt comfortable with for my bankruptcy. Not only am I admitting to this person that my financial skills have failed, I'm revealing all sorts of personal data to them. By the time you're done, they have a copy of your driver's license, Social Security Card, pay stubs and bank statement for the previous 6 months, a copy of your credit report, and just about everything except your first born child!

My process was pretty simple. I opened up to Bankruptcy Lawyers in the yellow pages, wrote down a few names, and started Yahooing (like Googling, but only with Yahoo) them to find out any other information. Some bigger law firms have websites which allow you to do everything online. Secretly I was hoping to find one of those. I don't think I was ready to admit out loud that I was a failure. I didn't find exactly that, but I found a small website and an email address for a local lawyer, so I decided to do the rational thing and email him. A day or so later, he emailed me back and told me he wasn't taking bankruptcy cases anymore. He then referred me to a friend that was doing bankruptcies.

I had to summon all the courage I could in order to pick up the phone and call this guy. I'm not sure why, but talking to strangers on the phone gives me mini panic attacks. My hands start shaking, my voice cracks, you get the idea. Just picture a 13-year-old boy trying to talk to the cute girl he likes at school. That should about sum it up! Maybe it's because I've been trying to avoid creditors for years now? A sort of Pavlov's Dogs type thing? I've talked to so many creditors (strangers) over the years that calling strangers makes me freak out?

I finally did call the guy (without a dial-and-hang-up fiasco) and was able to just leave a message. Phew! Bullet dodged. Anyway, he eventually called me back and we set up a consultation appointment.

The first thing I noticed, and liked, was that he was very good-natured and made a very awkward and uncomfortable situation into an easy going but still serious meeting. We even laughed! So when you're screening lawyers, make sure to ask if they offer a free consultation. Most worthwhile lawyers will. In my opinion, if they don't, then move on to the next guy. With bankruptcies, the initial consultation is to see where you're at to see if filing bankruptcy is really necessary. At my consultation, my lawyer told me of a guy who was living on Social Security and wanted to file bankruptcy because he couldn't afford to pay his debts anymore. He told the guy that he shouldn't file bankruptcy because he was judgement proof - Social Security wages can't be garnished and the creditors wouldn't be able to do or take anything. He should save his money for something else. To me, that was pretty cool that he would tell the guy not to do it, even though he could have taken the guy through the process just for his own profit.

Unfortunately, for most people, it comes down to price. How much does the lawyer charge? How much am I going to have to fork over to some yahoo who may or may not do what I want him to do? Very few people, whether facing criminal issues, divorce, bankruptcy, or anything else, have the ability to shell out $1500 - $4000 as a retainer fee. And, as with any product out there, higher price doesn't always mean higher quality. You need to know, upfront, how much they're charging you. And, after they've used up the retainer, what are their fees? I'm not sure if you know this or not (I didn't when we started the legal process with my husband) that the retainer is not expected to cover all of their services? That's their upfront fee and then you have to pay them for everything else after that. After the $2000 retainer fee we paid for my husband's lawyer was used, we still owed almost another $2000!!! They charged for every minute of every phone call and even the simple intake of any paperwork we sent them. Those are things that I/we didn't know about.

You're also more likely to find better rates if you go with a single, more unestablished lawyer rather than a law firm. For instance, the lawyer I have right now doesn't have to worry about costs for renting or owning a building. Instead, he borrows the conference room of a local law firm. Those savings get passed on to me, in the form of lower retainer fees, filing fees, etc.

During your consultation and at anytime with the lawyer that you choose, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS!!! They've spent years going to law school and you're paying them a small fortune. You have every right to ask questions - no matter how silly you think they think you are. You need to be informed about every aspect of your case. Make sure to get copies of all documents and forms.

Talk to others about reccommendations - good and bad! Finding out the bad is just as important as the good. Like I said before, this is someone you're trusting with very personal and confidential information. You need to feel comfortable with them. And you don't want to get stuck with someone who's going to screw you over.

A couple of side notes directly related to bankruptcy cases. You can handle the bankruptcy yourself or work with a "pro-se," or someone who is qualified to help you through the process. You still do the work and the filing yourself, but you get a little help along the way. However, the bankruptcy process is very technical and must be done in a very exact way. You can read more about filing for bankruptcy without a lawyer at

Also, beware of scams claiming that they can erase your debt, even when they claim they can do it "legally." Beware of companies who claim that they will negotiate with your creditors for you. There are a lot of companies out there that will claim they're working with your creditors, that you should pay them, and then they'll distribute your money. Chances are, they're just going to be taking your money on a monthly basis and you'll continue getting calls from creditors.

Do you have any additional tips for finding a good lawyer (for any type of legal case)?

Friday Follow

It's time for Friday Follow! Link up find new blogs to follow!

Friday Follow

If you're just popping over from the blog hop, be sure to look around! Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a Homedics Digitl Bathroom Scale!

Leave me a comment telling me that you stopped by and I promise to do the same for you!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Weighloss Wednesday: Why Lose Weight?

I think everyone had their own personal reasons for wanting to lose weight. My reasons may not be the same as yours, but I thought it would be good for me to list my reasons - so that when I just do not want to drag myself to the gym or go on a walk, I can remember this list. I guess I'm hoping it will be a motivator for me.

I've struggled with my weight since I was about...8 years old. EIGHT YEARS OLD!!! Looking back at pictures, that seems to be when it all started. I was tall and skinny until then - and then for some reason, the weight just started packing on. Back then (16 years ago) they didn't have the selection of plus size clothes that they do now, so by the time I was about 10 or 11, I had to shop in the MEN'S section for most of my pants.

Once I got into junior high (7th grade), I decided to go out for track. I did track in 8th grade also, and then in 9th grade I made it onto the basketball team. By the time I was in 9th grade, I was down to a size 10 or 12! I looked awesome! If I do say so myself! :) Though, I have to be honest here. Looking back, I think I had a little bit of an eating disorder. Most of that weight loss was because I was really only eating 1, sometimes 2 meals a day. But, that's not the issue here, lol.

I think most of my weight gain since then has been because of emotional and stress eating. We moved to Utah right in the middle of high school - the summer before my Junior year. I had to leave all of my friends, my mom had just gotten remarried, and I did NOT want to start a new school. I tried out for basketball again, but my new school was VERY cliquish and I didn't make the cut. In fact, the coach told me he didn't want me on the team because he didn't know me. Not even caring about the fact that I totally whopped on the girl that was supposed to be the best. Anyway, I digress again.

Since I wasn't playing basketball, I decided to get a job. I didn't really have any friends, so I didn't want to spend all my time alone. As a high school kid, pretty much the only place that will hire you is fast food restaurants, so I started working at Taco Time. Again, I still didn't have many friends to speak of, so I worked full-time after going to school all day. Eating fast food every day was NOT good for my waistline. By the time I graduated, I was back up to a size 16/18. In 3 short years, I'd gotten fat again!

Since high school, the weight has just continued to slowly pile on. I worked in fast food for another year, and then started working in an office. Even though I wasn't surrounded by food all day, I wasn't moving around as much. I met my husband in 2004, and by that time, I was probably a size 18/20.

By the time we were married in 2006, I was about a 22. Now, almost 4 years and 1 child later, I'm wearing a size 26. Do you have any idea how much I hate myself right now? I really can't blame it all on pregnancy. I only gained 7lbs over the course of my pregnancy and my son was 7lbs 9oz. I actually left the hospital weighing less that I did before I got pregnant!

There were some major emotional issues that popped up while I was pregnant. My husband got into some legal trouble and I know it weighed heavily on me. They're not anything that I was to get into right now (since that isn't what this post is about), but the things that were going on were a huge contributor to my stress level and emotional eating.

I've watched my mom struggle with her weight her whole life. She's gone as far as to have a gastric bypass about 10 years ago, but even since then, it's still been a roller coaster for her. Right now she's really struggling. I DON'T want to be like that. I don't want to have my child(ren) watch me suffer and struggle with my weight. I don't want them to have issues because of me. I don't know if it's directly related to my mom, but she's struggled with her weight her whole life and so have myself and my two sisters. Coincidence? I don't know. But I feel like if I can really get it under control now, then my children will have a better chance of being healthy themselves.

I also want to have more children, but I don't want to be fat while doing it. While I was pregnant with my son, I never got comments about how cute my belly was. Why? Because I was fat to begin with! Even my best friend told me, "You didn't get big when you were pregnant. You could hardly tell you were pregnant. You were so lucky!" Lucky? Umm, no I was just too fat to tell, lol! I don't have a problem with gaining weight while I'm pregnant, but I want to have a cute little baby bump! It's hard to have a baby bump when you're fat. I also know that having children at my size puts me at an increased risk for complications. Things like high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, etc would be harder to ward off. Even while I was pregnant with my son, my BP started steadily rising after about 20 weeks. I was induced at 39 weeks because it was getting too high and they were afraid of pre-eclampsia. After my son was born, I nursed for 16 or 17 months. The first 12 months he was exclusively breastfed and trying to eat less or work out more made my milk supply decrease, which meant my son had less to eat. I couldn't do that to him and didn't want to have to buy formula, so I stuck with breastfeeding and just gave up trying to lose weight. Sad, huh? Anyway, I want to have more children, but I'm not going to do it until I'm healthier.

I also don't feel attractive anymore. I HATE how I look and I HATE looking in the mirror. All I see is fat! It's quite depressing. My husband tells me all the time how good I look or that he still finds me extremely attractive, but all I can do is think, "Yeah, right!" I have no idea how someone could be attracted to someone who looks like me. Logically, if our roles were reversed any my husband was overweight, I wouldn't think any less of him or be any less attracted to him. I just can't believe that he would feel that way about me. He's never told me that he think any less of me or even that he thinks I'm fat. So me wanting to lose weight is not because my husband wants me to, it's because I want to. I want to feel attractive and look good!!! Is that so much to ask?

The biggest reason though, is so that I can just be healthy and have more energy. I don't have near the amount of energy I should. I don't have the energy to run around and play with my son like I want to. I dislike walking anywhere (instead of driving) because I get worn out. I know that if I don't get my weight under control soon, I'm going to have a myriad of health issues to deal with. I don't want to deal with all of that!!!

I want to be healthy, feel better, and look good!! I can do it!

For a woman that is 5'11", I should be between 139.5 - 170.5lbs. Right now, I'm at *cringe* 325lbs. That means I need to lose AT LEAST 155lbs - and that's only to barely get into the "ideal range". Yikes! If that's how much extra weight I'm carrying around, that means I'm carrying around 1 whole extra person! How sad is that?

If you're interested in calculating your ideal body weight, I used this website. In a nutrition class I took, we were given the following equation for finding your ideal body weight range.

Allow 100lbs for the first 5 feet, then add 5lbs for each additional inch over 5 feet. Your ideal range is +/-10% of that number.

Allow 110lbs for the first 5 feet, then add 6lbs for each additional inch over 5 feet. Again, the ideal range is +/-10% of that number.

But the calculator that the above website uses is totally easier and hurts my head a little less. And it was totally accurate compared the equation. It told me I should be 155 (100 + (11 x 5) = 155) and I was able to derive the range from that.

Anyway, hopefully remembering this post and referring to it will help keep me motivated and on the right track. How much do you have to lose? What do you do to keep yourself motivated? Do you put pictures (of your skinny- or overweight-self) up? Leave notes for yourself to find? What works for you?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Time at Home Tuesdays: Creating an Electronic Cookbook

I get stuck in food ruts VERY easily. Throughout my almost 4 years of marriage, it's gone something like this: I find something my husband likes to eat, he asks for it each week, it becomes one of the main staples in my weekly menu plan. Currently, it's hamburgers and chili dogs. In the past it's been tater tot casserole, corn dogs, and various pasta dishes. In my opinion, avoiding food ruts is a REALLY good read to start menu planning. And if you do menu planning on a weekly basis, then it's even easier to avoid food ruts.

One of my goals is to create healthier meals and to try new foods. So over the course of a week, I sat down and went through every magazine, cook book, and recipe I had stashed away in my cabinet. Back when the Kraft Food Magazine was free, I was a subscriber. The magazine came out 4 times a year and I had about a dozen of these, and other, magazines. I would flip through the magazine and see things that looked good but then the magazine was set aside with the plan to go through and collect the recipes one day. I also had a small collection of regular cookbooks, which I must say is nothing compared the amount of cookbooks my mom has!

As I went through the books and magazines, I dog-eared or stuck a post-it to pages with recipes I was interested in. After going through them, I sat down and start typing them up. Each new recipe went into it's own document. I set up a system of folders on my computer that goes something like this:
  • Appetizers
  • Beverages
  • Breads and Rolls
  • Breakfast
  • Casseroles
  • Dessert
  • Dressing & Sauces
  • Entrees
  • Holidays
  • Miscellaneous
  • Mixes
  • Pasta, Potatoes, and Rice
  • Soup & Chili
  • Veggies & Sides
All of the above are their own, individual folder, which is in a larger folder, simply called "Recipes." Each recipe is filed in the appropriate folder. When I need a recipe, I pull it up on the computer and get to work. We have a laptop and tons of counter space, so I can easily move the computer into the kitchen where it's visible while I'm working.

I could have also removed the recipes from the magazines and cookbooks, but I didn't want to have a bunch of loose papers laying around right now. We don't have a lot of room in our little apartment (but we have tons of counter space) so having all my recipes on the computer make my life easier.

Eventually, I'll probably have to print out the recipes and compile them into a 3-ring-binder. We don't plan to have a laptop forever and it won't be very easy to move a desktop computer around. And I really don't want to be running back and forth from the computer to the kitchen while I'm cooking. For now though, I love the ease of having the recipes on my laptop.

What's your method for storing recipes? Do you have an overstuffed cabinet with various books and magazines that you're going to eventually go through? Do you use the old recipe card method and simply flip to your favorite recipe when you need it?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Marketing Mondays at Trendy Treehouse

The Trendy Treehouse

It's time for another Marketing Monday over at Trendy Treehouse! Hop on over and either add your own links or check out other blogs that have been added!!

Mommy Time Monday: Attempts to Get Out of the House

I'll be the first to admit it - I don't exactly like being outside. I never really have. When I was little, I had a few scary (for me) outdoor experiences. We lived in South Carolina and the dragonflies there were (they might still be - haven't been back yet) HUGE! And they didn't really care where they flew. They would fly right in front of my face and scare the crap out of me! I lived in South Carolina from the time was 3 until I was about 10. So for a child that young, you can imagine how scary that was. Also, when I was about 6 or 7, I was playing on our screened-in porch (it was somewhat protected by our carport) by myself, and this bird flew through the carport and slammed into the screen around the porch. It made this horrible noise that I'll never forget and scared me so bad that I cried for like an hour. Oh, I was also attacked by ants when I was about 8 and I was chased by a mean goose when I was about 6.

I also, just in general, dislike bugs and being dirty. I can feel when my hands start getting dirty and I just can't stand it. Might be a little OCD, but oh well. And I don't consider myself a girly girl, except in that area. I also can't stand being too hot (I get really bad migraines) or too cold. And in Utah, there's only about 2 months out of the year that aren't too hot or cold.

So I know my son needs to experience the outdoors. I know I shouldn't let my experiences keep my son from creating his own opinion of the outdoors. But it's hard for me actually enjoy myself when I'm outside. I don't ever just go outside to enjoy being out there.

That said, I do make attempts to get outside and play. My son LOVES being outside and walking around, jumping on our neighbors trampoline, or playing at the park. He would spend all day out there if I let him. I know in a world where most kids spend the day in front of video games, that I should foster that love of the outdoors and let him learn to love it.

Up until recently, I used the snow and cold as an excuse to stay inside, but it's finally starting to warm up and Spring is springing. I haven't yet met my goal of going outside EVERY day, but I've been better about it. We've gone outside to jump and walk around just because! We also went to the zoo (just a little one) and to a little fair/park activity with lots of animals and other activities. My son LOVED every minute of it all.

One problem that I run into though, is that my son doesn't ever want to come inside. No matter how long we're outside, whenever I say that it's time to go in, he starts screaming and crying to stay outside. I hate dealing with that part - it makes me feel like some horrible person for having other things to do besides let him play outside all day.

So, please tell me I'm not the only person out there who doesn't love being outside? If you're like me, what do you do to make yourself get out of the house? If you love being outside, what do you like to do? I need some ideas to help us get out of the house more often!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ultimate Blog Party 2010!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

It's time for the Ultimate Blog Party 2010 hosted by the two awesome ladies over at!!!

Hello to any new readers out there in blogland! I think everyone that will be reading this post is new to my blog, so let me explain a little bit about what's going on over here.

Some time ago, I decided that I was unhappy. Not depressed-need-to-be-on-meds kind of depressed, just unhappy with what was going on in my life and unhappy with myself. Though, please don't be offended by that previous statement if you are affected by depression. My best friend, my father, my sister, and brother-in-law, and other various people in my life ARE affected by depression, anxiety, etc. It's not something I take lightly. I just didn't want people suggesting that I see a doctor.

Anyway, it seemed like every day I would make this mental list of the things I wanted to change, but everyday I would realize that even though I did this the day before, nothing had changed. That was the point - NOTHING WAS CHANGING! Why? Simple! I wasn't doing anything to change it.

So this blog is my outlet for all of those things and my journey to improve myself and to make my life into what I want it to be. I thought, surely there are other women out there who feel the same way I do? They want to lose weight, be better mothers and homemakers, be more financially secure, have a more spiritual self, or just break out of their shell and find a more confident self. I couldn't possibly be the only person who wants any (or all) of those things! So, if you're looking for any of those thing, along with a little bit of humor, then you've come to the right place!

You can take a peek into the things that I hope to accomplish and be sure to check out my first giveaway here!

So please take a look around. Feel free to leave any comments or tips for me. I'd love to hear from you!!

Now, onto the party! I would especially LOVE to win any of the Blog Design packages!

But I would be equally as stoked to win:

Get fit pack
Any of the Amazon Gift Card
Tupperware prize pack
Be My Guest Certificate
Shutterfly Gift Certificate
Itty Bitty Bookworm Curriculum
Letter of the Week Preschool Curriculum

So head on over to the Ultimate Blog Party and link up!!!

Finance Fridays: Taking Control & True Confessions!

***I wrote this post last night and scheduled it to post next Friday, but for some reason the schedule feature didn't work, so it's already posted. Oh well, I guess. You get to enjoy it earlier!***

Since we were married, I've been the self-proclaimed budgeter. I've been in charge of over seeing and balancing our budget. It's been pretty darn easy, if I do say so myself. My secret? I haven't really done it! Ooops! I should explain that a little more though.

When we were first married, we were both working and had *some* disposable income. We didn't make outlandish purchases or go overboard with our spending by any means. But we never sat down to make an official budget either. I take that back. I did make one before we got married to prove to my then fiance that we could make it work financially. I think I still have that spreadsheet somewhere, but I likely wouldn't be able to find it again. Back to the present. My husband has said multiple times over the years that he would like us to plan our budget a little better and that he'd like to *GASP* start saving and possibly *GULP* start investing. I would tell him I had it under control and then inwardly cringe while making a subtle topic change. I never followed through with creating another budget.

My reasons for not including him in the money are, quite frankly, embarrassing. Here come some true confessions! I had some old debt that I was still paying that he didn't fully know about. And after our son was born, we had a pile of medical bills. We were uninsured and, for some reason, didn't qualify for Medicaid. I wasn't cleared by the doctor to go back to work until 12 weeks post-partum and I didn't want to go back to work. The thought of leaving my baby kept me awake at night and gave me severe anxiety and depression. I just couldn't handle the thought of trusting someone besides my husband or my mother with my child. But my husband was going to school full-time and working full-time. We couldn't arrange our schedules so that when I worked he was home and vice-versa. My mom also works full-time during the day. In order to keep the job I had, I had to be available to work mornings and weekends. And in order to do that, we would have to find a babysitter. I did my due diligence and looked into childcare for our son, but it just made sense to stay home. I was previously working about 20 hours a week making about $8.00 per hour.

So 20 x $8 = $160/week - $30 for taxes = $130/week. The babysitters I looked into were going to charge around $75-100 a week for a 3 month old. So $130 - $100 left us with an extra $30 a week, if we were lucky. I was also nursing our son and pumping was NOT working, so we would have had to switch to formula. We did participate in WIC and I received food benefits for nursing that could have been switched to formula. But then we wouldn't have received the food benefits and would have had to start paying more for groceries. It just didn't make financial sense for me to go back to work. I either needed to find a higher paying job or we needed to cut costs. We'd both said that we wanted me to be able to stay home and care for our child(ren), so we decided to see if we could manage on one income. It was working during my maternity leave, so I made the decision not to go back. I started looking into doing childcare in my home. I interviewed with a few people over the last year, but it hasn't worked out for one reason or another. So I've been cutting costs as much as I can. I've also been doing surveys and product reviews to bring in some occasional cash (maybe an extra $400-500 per year). Of course, all of these decisions were made before I started getting calls from creditors asking about their money.

Anyway, I tell you all of that as a bit of background for our financial situation. I avoided telling my husband about our looming medical bills and my past credit debt because he would freak out. He would probably insist that I find a job and even now, almost 20 months later, I still get very anxious and upset about leaving my baby with a sitter for more than a couple hours. But I've recently made some HUGE financial changes.

On March 1st I was served with a court summons for the bill from our pediatrician. I spent a couple of days agonizing over what I was going to do. This wasn't what I expected it to come to. I don't know what I really expected it to come to, but this wasn't it! I thought about moving in with my parents so that we could start making a serious dent in our bills, but it was still just too much. Everyone wanted at least $100 a month from us. My OBGYN even wanted $300 a month. We couldn't afford all the monthly payments and, most definitely, couldn't afford to be sued for these bills. One night I was scanning my junk mail for any important messages that were wrongly directed and saw an email from "the bankruptcy experts." It immediately caught my eye. It wasn't something I'd considered or even thought of. It's not like I'm a bad person and intentionally made sure we couldn't pay these bills. The bulk of my debt comes because we were uninsured when I got pregnant and couldn't afford the outrageous bills. I had also incurred some debt from when I was traveling for work. I had to pay for it up front and the company would reimburse me. They did reimburse me, but I was also trying to go to school, so I used that money for school and living expenses instead of for paying off the travel expenses. Stupid mistake, I know. What's crazy is that some of the stuff I was still paying for is debt I incurred in 2003 and 2004! I'm still paying on it 6 or 7 years later! That's pure insanity!!!! I WANTED to and INTENDED on paying these bills, but the math just wasn't working. I considered, researched, and did some major praying about filing for bankruptcy. And I finally came to the conclusion that this is what I needed to do for me and for our financial situation.

My credit was a wreck - the bad far outweighed the good. I didn't even bother looking at my credit report or score. I knew it wouldn't be pretty. I also knew that some day we would want to have a house of our own, we'd eventually need to get a bigger car, etc, etc. These things wouldn't be possible if my credit score was 0! But if I could start over and start rebuilding my credit, we would have a very good chance of being able to have these things with decent interest rates and monthly payments. So, I took the plunge and found myself a very decent and respectful lawyer to take my bankruptcy case. I officially filed less than a week ago and it's been a wonderful decision so far. I don't have creditors calling 3 or 4 times a day! I don't get a nervous twitch every time my phone rings. In fact, I can actually turn the volume up and not fear that a creditor is going to call and my husband will answer and end up talking to them. It's such a relief. It wasn't an easy decision and hasn't been an easy process. I had to make a list of every creditor and I had to actually get a copy of my credit report. It was hard, but not as hard as avoiding debt collectors or lawsuits! The process isn't over, but I'm on my way to getting a fresh start. And it feels wonderful!

In fact, it feels so wonderful that I actually sat down the other night and made up a spreadsheet for our budget! How awesome is that. What's even more awesome is that without all the debt payments we'd have to make, our budget actually balances and we have enough left over to start saving. It's a small amount, but it's something. It felt so good to be able look at the numbers and see that we weren't going to go broke!

I know financial issues can cause a rift between partners and is one of the leading causes for divorce, so I just want to urge you all to get your finances in order. It's something you need to do whether you're married or not. Learn to live within a budget Do what you need to do to make your budget work so you're not living off credit and incurring more debt in the process. Live within your means! This is something that I've been taught over and over, and now I have a chance to make it work.

So my plan, to keep me accountable, is to update about how the budeting is going. It will just be a once a month post (either at the beginning or end of the month) to see where I'm at and make sure I'm actually using the super awesome spread sheet I created. We wouldn't want it to go to waste, right?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Time Out Thursdays: File Folder Games

In my quest for new learning material for my son, I came across this awesome website called Mormon Chic! The writers over at Mormon Chic offer some amazing ideas for just about anything you can think of!

One of the things that I fell in love with were these File Folder Games. In my opinion, they're about the cutest thing ever and I have so many different options and ideas floating around in my brain now too.

This is the Noah's Ark version that they offer. One sheet prints out with just the ark and water. The other sheet lets you cut around the animals (2 of each) and Noah. I think I did mine a little differently than they intended though. Before I had them laminated, I glued one of each animal to the ark, and then then had one of each animal laminated separately so that my son can practice matching them up. Also, their directions don't say anything about lamination - that was my idea so that they can be used for a longer period of time. I also did the shape matching game and the family tree.

After I glued one sheet onto one side of the inside of a file folder, I took everything over to FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos) and had them laminated. I have to say, I was a little disappointed in the quality of the lamination of the file folders. There are air bubbles in the middle (which make them look deformed) and some of the other things I had laminated (Quiet Books - next week's post) didn't seal correctly. I definitely think I'll be finding someone else for any future lamination needs. But that's another story.

After everything was laminated and trimmed, I used some double sided tape on the animal cutouts. I don't recommend double sided tape though. Since there are air pockets, the folders don't lay evenly, so the tape doesn't stick well. Luckily I had some blue tacky stuff that works even better than the tape. The tacky stuff raises them off the folder just a little bit which makes it easier for little, uncoordinated fingers to remove and replace.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with them. My son's already used them at home and enjoys going over the name and sounds of each animal and trying to match them properly.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Weightloss Wednesdays: Keeping a Food Journal

One of the first goals on my weight loss journey to weight loss is to keep a food journal. In almost every weight loss program I've looked at, the first thing they recommend is keeping a food journal, so there's got to be some merit to it, right?

I started keeping a food journal on Thursday of last week. And it's already been a very hard undertaking. The first day of writing down everything I ate was eye opening. You know how in the movies or on TV people will have a devil and an angel appear on those shoulders. They're supposed to be imaginary, right? Well, mind are NOT!

The first temptation was to just not write something down.

My Devil coaxed, "What will it hurt? No one will know? It's not like there's a camera watching you?"

Then my little angel piped up with, "But YOU will know. And you're only hurting yourself by not being truthful."

And this was just about what to write down! I succeeded in choosing to be honest about what I ate, but the next day, a new temptation was presented to me. I'd gone through and calculated calories for the first day and, though it could have been worse, I wasn't very happy.

As I stood in the kitchen trying to find something for breakfast, my little devil interrupted with, "Well if you're going to insist on writing everything down, then you need to make sure to choose only the healthy things."

And, though this is starting to sound a little backward, my angel cut in with, "What's the point in writing down what you eat if you're not going to eat what you normally eat? You'll just be skewing the results! You need to be truthful!"

What's a girl to do? Of course, I've compromised a little bit. I decided that it's okay to throw in some healthier options (because it just is) but that, at least for the first little while, it's okay eat some of the extra, unhealthier options. It's a learning process and I can't just expect myself to go from eating french toast slathered in butter and brownies dotted with M&M's (not my fault, my mom made me take them home - curse you Mom!) to nibbling on carrot sticks and apple slices. That's just a little unreasonable.

I have learned something in the few days that I've been doing this though. I'm now VERY aware of everything I eat. Before I eat something, I'm actually asking myself, "Do I really want to have to write that down?" There are so many things that I would just pop in my mouth because I was bored, I was in the kitchen (you gotta test while you're cooking, right?), or I was annoyed with my husband! So, if nothing else, holding me accountable for everything I eat will help cut out some major calories.

I thought about creating a spreadsheet form (you know my obsession with those) to print out for each day, but I decided I didn't want to waste the printer ink. I have plenty of pencils and paper sitting around - and they work just fine! Right now, I'm using a small binder (I think it's the 1/2" size) with lined paper and a pencil to record what I eat. I divide it by 3 meals, allow a spot for snacks, and then record how much water I drink (by estimating how many ounces I take in). I don't drink soda and I rarely have juice or fruit drinks.

So far it's taken a HUGE amount of will power to continue keeping the food journal current. Easter was a horrible time to try and start it, but I have to begin somewhere, right? Every time I sneak a piece of candy I'm tempted to just ignore it. I'm sure I'll never quite get over the temptation to eat those kinds of things, but at least I'm more aware of what I'm putting into my mouth now.

Do you have any tips for keeping a food journal? How do you overcome snack time temptations? Email me at and you might see your tips or stores featured in the future.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Time at Home Tuesdays: Menu Preparation

In my opinion, one of the easiest ways to save money on your grocery budget is to plan your menus ahead of time. You can plan your meals on a weekly basis, for every two weeks, for ever month, or every year. I've even seen menus rotated on a seasonal basis! That makes a lot of sense if you're getting a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and want to make sure they're in season. Personally, I LOVE the idea of having a general menu planned for a whole year. That's my ultimate goal!

Creating a Master List
The first thing you should do when planning your meals is figure out what your family likes to eat. It's okay to find and try new recipes, but you should start with what you know will get eaten. I've seen this list referred to as a Master List. When we were first married, my master list was pretty pathetic and made up of mostly pre-packaged and processed foods. Since then, I've expanded my horizons and have added many new meals to our repertoire. Creating your Master List will probably take some time, but be sure to think about everyone in your family. If they're old enough, ask them what their favorite meals are and be sure to include them. Don't feel bad if your list is as pathetic as mine was! That's where meal planning comes in handy. It gives you the opportunity to search out new recipes and find things your family will love.

You'll also want to divide your Master List into sections. Things like:
  • Main Dishes (could be divided into sub-categories like beef, chicken, pork, etc)
  • Pastas, Potatoes, Rice
  • Vegetables and Salads
  • Breads
  • Desserts
  • Beverages

As you try new dishes, be sure to add them to your Master List. If your tastes change, feel free to cross something off the list. The most important thing is cooking things your family will eat so you can avoid wasting money by throwing things away or letting them spoil.

After you've created the list, you're ready to get started on creating your menus!

Planning your Menus
There are various ways to go about planning your menus. Some people like to write it out according to each day and stick to it no matter what. Others like to have ideas and figure out what to buy, but leave each day flexible. Either method will work no matter how far in advance you plan.

Planning a Week in Advance
For now, I plan meals on a weekly basis, depending on what's on sale in the stores, what we already have on hand, and what my family likes at the moment. When we were first married, I created a spreadsheet that I could print out, laminate, and then keep on the fridge. Unfortunately, that was 2 computers ago, so I've recreated another spreadsheet that's pretty close to what I use now. It's just a basic spread sheet with meals across the top, days along the side, and boxes to write down your meals. I laminated mine so that I could easily erase instead of printing out weekly. Also, even though I assigned days, I don't always stick to the meal I write in for each day. I like to be flexible and change my mind.Go here to view the spreadsheet.

Each week, usually on Tuesdays night when the new sales fliers arrive, I go through the sales fliers and figure out what's on sale. After looking at what's on sale, I assess what we have on hand, and then figure out what sounds good for the upcoming week. I erase my laminated menu planner and write in meals for the upcoming week. I then go back an make a grocery list so that we have everything on hand. I do my grocery shopping on Wednesday or Thursday of each week. And I don't have to worry about having enough meals or enough food for another 7 days. When I start thinking about dinner, I look at the menu, choose what sounds good, and cook accordingly.

Be sure to keep in mind your daily activities and any busy days. You don't want to try and overload your schedule for the sake of food. If you work late on Thursdays, don't plan an intensive meal for Thursday nights. And be sure to plan to use any leftovers! Leftover nights are wonderful! If there are any new recipes you want to try, make sure to write those in.

This same method would for for planning 2 weeks in advance also. You'll want to shop either on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, depending on how much room you have to store food. You'll probably end up shopping each week for perishables anyway like milk, bread, fruits, etc.

Planning a Month in Advance
For this method, you'll probably want to find a cheap calendar or print off a monthly calendar to write out your menu. You could use the same method as the weekly planner and laminate just one month and then reuse it each month. You won't have the exact dates, but you'll know the days of the week.

Be sure to consult your master list for ideas and to balance meals. Start with the easy things. If your family LOVES a certain food and you want to have it once a week, fill that in first. If you work late every Tuesday, pick an easy meal or make that leftover night. If Sunday dinners are a big deal in your house, then write those down and get it out of the way. If you go out to eat or have a date night once a week/month, write that down too. Don't forget to add in any new recipes you want to try. Pretty soon you'll see that you don't have to pick out too many extra meals.

You'll still probably need to shop on a weekly, or bi-weekly basis. And you can still use your sales fliers. Flip through them to see what's on sale and buy accordingly. When you see something on sale that you use frequently, buy extra and put it in storage/the pantry. Refer to your menu to plan your shopping trips(s).

Planning a Year in Advance
This task seems a little daunting to me, personally. But, I would LOVE to be able to do this. Someday when I have more money and more space to store food, I'd love to plan for the whole year and buy food for the whole year (as expiration dates permit) when it's on sale. Wouldn't it be awesome to know that you're going to need X amount of cans of Cream of Chicken, bags of spaghetti noodles, etc? But, that's not going to be happening anytime soon. It's an awesome idea though.

I watched an Internet clip a while back about a lady who planned her meals a year in advance. She used a big binder and kept her Master List in the front. She had a monthly calendar for each month and then went through and wrote out her plans for the whole year. She updated her master list as needed. And she also kept the Master List recipes in the binder too.

To me, that sounds divine! But it will have to wait, at least for me.

Other Tips
  • If you have picky children, be sure to include them in the menu planning. Children are more likely to eat something if they know what's coming and if they help decide. This is more useful on a weekly basis though.
  • Be sure to include children in menu prep. Along with helping to pick out what to eat for the week, children are more likely to eat something if they've helped to cook it.
  • When using your sale fliers, know that things usually rotate on a 12 week basis. That means that about every 12 weeks, you'll see hamburger (or pork, etc) on sale. Plan to stock up when you see something on sale so that you don't have to pay full price for it. You'll save even more money doing this!
  • Refer to your menu to plan your shopping trips. If you've planned 3 meals and snacks for each day, you shouldn't need to buy any extras. You'll save money by avoiding impulse purchases!
  • The most important thing is to find what works for your situation and your family.
  • If you're busy and afraid that you don't have the time to cook every night, look into once a month cooking or find meals that you can make extra batches and stick into the freezer. That way your busy schedule doesn't seem so overwhelmed by cooking.
  • You don't need a fancy laminated paper or a binder to be a successful meal planner. You can simply use a new piece of paper and a pencil each week and write it out by hand!

Good luck on your menu planning journey. I guarantee that the upfront effort will save you money, time, and sanity in the end. You'll be able to cut out unnecessary trips to the grocery store or unhealthy trips to McDonald's.

Do you have any other tried and true tips? What menu preparation method works for you? Feel free to email me at and you might find yourself featured in the future!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Marketing Mondays at Trendy Treehouse

If you're looking to increase trffic to your blog and get some free advertising, then head on over to Trendy Treehouse every Monday for Marketing Mondays!

MckLinky Blog Hop

The Trendy Treehouse

Giveaway: Homedics Digital Bathroom Scale!!

As a way to kick off my new weight loss goals, I'm giving one lucky reader their very own Homedics Digital Scale! Whether you're just starting out too or if you've been trying to lose weight for a while, this will be a great addition to any weight loss plan!

So, here's how you can enter to win your very own Homedics Digital Scale!!!
  • Simply leave me a comment telling me why you want to lose weight!

For extra entries, you can do any of the following. Just leave me an additional comment saying that you are either a follower or that you blogged about it.

  • Become a follower of Mommy's Life Makeover
  • Spread the word by posting about this giveaway on your blog

I'll choose a winner on Wednesday, April 30th at noon!

Mommy Time Monday: My Mommy Goals

I love being a mommy. I absolutely LOVE it. I have all of these ideals and dreams about being a good mom. I'm not saying I'm a bad mom. But I could be better. I see other moms and wish I could be more like them. Although a lot of my listed goals will help me be a better mom, these are specifically about helping myself to be a better mother.

Plan More Activities Out of the House

I'll admit it, I'm not a huge fan of the outdoors. I don't like bugs or dirt. I don't like being hot or cold. I prefer to stay inside where the temperature is even and I can squash every single bug and vacuum up the dirt. I know my son needs to be exposed to the world outside - and he LOVES it. He loves to just go walk around. So I need to start now, by taking advantage of the SPRING and get used to being outside.
  1. Take Andrew outside at least once every day when the weather permits. (This is Utah, we just had snow this last week and it just melted).
  2. Get some toys for playing outside.

Plan More Creative Activities at Home

I'm not a person that plans "structured activities" for my 19-month-old. Nothing goes as planned, and he often has meltdowns because he can't do everything himself. The most art that we do is coloring with crayons or Tadoodles. I haven't been brave enough to attempt doing many bigger art projects.

  1. I have a set of books that have ideas for activities for toddlers and preschoolers. I need to go through these books and find activities we can actually do.
  2. Use the Internet to find appropriate activities
  3. Do two bigger creative projects each week.

Research Learning and "Preschool" Type Activities and Do Them

I feel very strongly that much of my child's learning and development should take place in the home, with his parents. This is one reason I want (and am) staying home with him. I want to be the one to teach him! I've even considered homeschooling, depending on our situation. But I shouldn't wait until he's "school age" to start the learning process. I know there are activities and things we can do to help foster a love of learning and help put him on the right track for the rest of his life. This is pretty self-explanatory. I just need to do the research and implement the activities I find.

Set Up Play Dates Once a Month to Create a More Social Environment

I'm definitely an introvert. I dearly love my friends, but it's hard for me to step out of my comfort zone and make new friends. It's even hard for me to try to do activities with my current friends. I guess I don't want to be presumptuous and think that they want to spend time with me. I don't want to be a bother by asking them to do things. Does that make sense. It sounds so silly when I say it that way, but that's how I feel. It's not that I think they should be the one to initiate and maintain the friendship. I just don't want them to feel pressured to see me/us. I know that I don't feel that way when it comes to other people asking to see me, so I should remember that when I think about asking to see other people. If they don't want to see me they'll say no. So what do I have to lose?

  1. Start by making play dates with moms I already know that have kids about the same age as my son.
  2. Start with one a month, then gradually increase the frequency.
  3. Find local mommy groups and join them. If there aren't any, look into starting one.

Do you have any tips for stepping out of your comfort zone? And ideas for finding other mommy groups? Email them to and I might feature them in the future.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spiritual Sunday: Easter Edition

I have decided to take this Easter Sunday off from blogging and instead enjoy listening to the LDS General Conference and spend time celebrating Easter with my family.

You can find the archives of General Conference by clicking here and choosing your language.

I also wanted to share this wonderful video with you. You can hear the Prophet and other Apostles testifying of Christ. He Lives

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Social Time Saturdays: My Social Goals

I'm a very shy introvert. I've been this way all my life. Less so when I was in high school surrounded by all my friends. However, I had to move half way through high school and I think that's when my inner introvert started taking over. So I need to learn to step out of my comfort zone and be more social.

Invite One Family Over For Dinner Each Month
  1. Start with a family that we already know, to get used to having people over.
  2. We can invite them over or invite them to join us if/when we go out to eat.

Plan, Prepare, and Carry Out At Least Two Parties in 2010

  1. The parties can be for birthdays, holidays, or just because.
  2. I need to invite at least 2 other families.

Set Up Play Dates At Least Once a Month

This is the same as one of my mommy goals, but play dates are as much for moms as they are for kids. If it weren't for play dates, I'd probably only see other adults on Sundays! So I need to take the initiative and get play dates started.

  1. Set up play dates with other moms I already know who have children the same age as my son.
  2. Start with one a month, then gradually increase in frequency.
  3. Find local mommy groups to get to know other moms. If there aren't any in my area, then look into starting one.

Are you an introvert like me? Do you have any tips for overcoming your social fears? Email me at and I might feature you in the future.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Finance Fridays: My Financial Goals

Since my original post with the outline of all my goals, my financial goals have evolved a bit. They originally included the following:
  1. Continue budget shopping, using coupons, clearance sales, etc to be able to cut our grocery budget by another $10 over the course of the year.
  2. Save for a new car seat for Monkey Man.
  3. Save for new tires for our car.
  4. Cut out all unnecessary expenses from our budget.

But now, I'd like them to look like this:

  1. Continue using coupons. clearances, sales, etc to cut our grocery budget by another $10 over the course of the year.
  2. Start a savings plan. Specifically to save for new tires, car repairs, a home, and a new car.
  3. Cut out all unnecessary expenses from our budget.
  4. Plan and follow a written budget.
  5. Include my husband in the financial aspect of our lives.

Why the changes? Well, we already purchased a new car seat for our son. It was a necessity. He was very close to the limits on his old car seat and it was just plain uncomfortable for him. I ended up compromising a bit and going with a car seat that was still safe, but wouldn't last as long (height and weight wise) and was cheaper. The one(s) I wanted ranged from $140-$170. They would have let him rear face until about 35 or 40lbs and then lasted him front facing until he was about 5. The one I ended up getting will last him until he's about 3, he'll be able to rear face until he reaches 30lbs, and I only paid about $40 for it using a coupon at Kmart.

Also, I decided that it was impossible to eliminate unnecessary expenses if I didn't know what they were, so I felt that taking steps to create a written budget needed to be added to the list. I've also felt that saving is especially important, so I added that too.

So, I'll be moving forward with my new Financial Goals!

Continue Using Coupons, Clearances, Sales, etc to Cut Our Grocery Bill by Another $10 Over the Course of the Year

Right now I spend anywhere from $30-$50 a week on groceries, depending on what's on sale and what I need to stock up on. That also includes diapers, paper goods, hygiene needs, cleaning products - basically everything to make our household run. In my opinion, this isn't bad. I've known and heard of other people that are spending upwards of $100/week to run their household - and their household is smaller than or the same size as ours. Before we had our son, I really wasn't too worried about staying below a certain number. I bought what we needed. We had two incomes and had plenty. I don't think I ever spent $100 or more, but I was usually between $60-75 for the two of us. My husband was actually surprised to learn how little we were spending considering how much food we have.

Start a Savings Plan

There are many things that we'd like to have that we don't have the money for immediately. Larger things, like a house or bigger car, are not necessary at the moment. We're not at a point in our life where we can settle down with a house or that we need a bigger car. But these are things that we can start saving for. By the time we're ready to buy a house or a bigger car, we most likely won't have enough to pay cash, but we can have a large enough down payment to ensure a better interest rate or enough to bring our monthly payment down.

Specifically, we'd like to save for the following: a house, a bigger car, new tires (will be necessary very soon and our car uses a rare size tire which are expensive), future car repairs.

  1. We were set up with a savings account at our bank. We have the ability to automatically transfer money directly from checking to savings. I'll definitely be utilizing this.
  2. I need to create a budget to figure out exactly how much we CAN save.

Cut Out All Unnecessary Expenses From Our Budget

We don't really have a lot of unnecessary expenses, but I'm sure there are still things we can cut out.

  1. Create a budget to help figure out where are unnecessary expenditures are and where we can cut back.
  2. Track spending for 1 month to help aid in finding unnecessary expenditures.
  3. Eliminate them!

Plan and Follow a Written Budget

Pretty plain and simple. Though in order to create an accurate budget, we need to track every single penny that we spend for at least one month. That way we're not planning on spending less than we should, or more than we need to.

  1. Create a preliminary budget for now.
  2. After tracking expenditures for 1 month, reevaluate and recreate a more concrete budget.

Include My Husband in the Financial Aspect of Our Lives

This might seem a little silly, but there are some things in my financial history that I'm not so proud of that I've avoided telling him. It's not that he's not good with money, but he just trusts me to do it. He doesn't ask many questions and that's okay. But I'd hate for something to happen to me and have him not know what's going on with our finances. If he already knows where we're going and what I do on a regular basis, then that's one less thing that he has to worry about.

Do you have any tips for creating a budget? Any reasons why you thing saving is a necessity? Any finance tips to offer? Email them to and you could be featured in an upcoming post!