weekend review

This weekend Mr.C’s mom came to visit. We had a fun time hanging out, shopping, playing card games, going to the movies (“Kingsman” was quite good!), and eating our way through the menu at Mozza Mia.

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On Saturday, Ryan enjoyed some mother-son time while I went wedding dress shopping with my friend, J.

Three stops and some delicious Rusty Taco tacos later, J found what she was looking for. Girlfriend’s gonna make one pretty bride!

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Fast February

This month has definitely flown by! But, it’s actually been a pretty quiet one.

We’ve just been settling into our new routine with Ryan working first shift – lots of family dinners followed by a quick game or two of cards or Ticket to Ride. Plus, we’ve been able to hangout with friends more now that our Friday nights are available.  We’ve been apartment hunting too although we wouldn’t move until August. We’re hoping to find a place in Bloomington or somewhere more central to shorten Ryan’s commute.

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I’ve finally been tackling some home and computer organization projects. Feels nice to check things off the list! I also had a girl date with my pal, Nicole, at Paint Nite (a social, booze-filled, two-hour art class where an artist leads the group through the process of painting a specific picture) which was really fun. Ryan and I ended up celebrating Valentine’s Day twice – once with an impromptu romantic dinner at home (sparkling juice on ice anyone?) and later at Outback Steakhouse (our favorite).

On the books for next week: wedding dress shopping with my friend, J, for her ceremony this fall and celebrating Ryan’s birthday – he turns 26!! This year he’d like a puppy… but sadly that’s out of the question with our current living situation, so he’ll have to settle for kisses from our friends’ furry creatures for now.

Hope you all have a great rest of the month. Can’t believe March is right around the corner!

$ Let’s Talk Money – Part 8: Food for Thought & an Update

click here to catch up on the rest of the series

Around The Web:

Below are a few articles I’ve read lately.

Just some financial food for thought!

Status Update:

Below is where we stand on our debt payoff journey.

On the way…one penny at a time!

Student Loan: $6,043.96

Car Loan: $11,450.00

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Living LEAP: Phase 6 Continued

Don’t know what LEAP/MRT is? Missed the start of this series? Click here to catch up.

As I mentioned in my last update, I have moved into the final stage in my MRT/LEAP journey known was Phase 6. Phase 6 is basically where you’re on your own. You’ve learned how to eat and what to eat and now you just live your life!

You can start to test out your highly reactive foods (red) and see how you respond to them.

All my results are posted here – but as a refresher:

My highly reactive foods and additives (red) are crab, lecithin, lemon, salmon, sesame, and spinach.

My moderately reactive foods and additives (yellow) are beet, cabbage, cashew, cheddar, codfish, coffee, dill, egg, red #40, garbanzo, green pea, maple, oat, pear, pinto bean, rice, salicylic acid, sodium metabisulfate, spelt, and strawberry.

So far I’ve tested lecithin, lemon, egg, and dill. All left me feeling under the weather. And, although they’re actually on my green (safe) list, mushrooms really bug me too (we assume because of an underlying mold allergy). Pineapple isn’t listed there either, but I get a bad stomach ache if I over eat it. I haven’t tested typical Bartlett pears yet but have tried Asian pears a few times and seem to tolerate those just fine. I’ve also successfully tested parsnips, chia seeds,  flax seeds/meal, and green and tulsi teas.

It’s just important to remember to that it’s all about variety and making sure to keep your diet diverse. If you do this, and make sure not to eat the same things day after day, you are more likely to not over-consume certain foods/food families to the point where you could possibly lose a tolerance for them or even develop a new sensitivity.

What I’ve been eating lately:

blogfoodcollagefeb15 Sweet Potato Havarti Soup
Apple Spice Pork Chops
Parsnip Fries
Slow Cooker Turkey Chili 
Turkey Mozzarella Meatballs
Bacon Asparagus Soup
Lovebean Fudge
Chocolate Coconut Fluff
Bacon Green Bean Bundles with Brown Sugar Glaze
Vegan Brownies
Egg-free Potato Latkes
Corn Casserole
Chocolate-Pomegranate Bark

What I’ve been using lately:

Argan Oil – just great another oil to add to my stash since I already love using jojoba, rosehip seed, grape, castor, and coconut. Argan oil is luxurious, light, and extremely hydrating.

Primal Pit Paste Happy Pits Sensitive Stick – I’ve been using this for little over a month now and love it! Since it’s baking soda free my pits are not irritated at all. Sure, I can be a little stinky by day’s end sometimes but that’s a small price to pay for keeping away from aluminum and other chemicals. Plus, I could always reapply during the day if I thought it was a real issue. I’ve noticed if I wipe a bit of apple cider vinegar or witch hazel on my underarms after washing or showering the deodorant works even better and I hardly smell at all after 12 hours of wear. I’ve found a few other baking soda free deodorants I’d like to try but for now I’m very happy with my Primal Pit Paste.

What I’ve been reading lately:

Nourishing Picky Eaters

Do You Know What’s Really In Your Tea?

Is Your Gut Bacteria Controlling Your Appetite? – What To Do About It

8 Things My Family Learned When We Gave Up Processed Food For 100 Days

10 Skincare Mistakes

6 Reasons Cancer Rates Have Skyrocketed Since Your Grandparents’ Day That You Can’t Ignore

Natural v.s. Artificial Flavors

How I’m feeling:

Good. I’ve put on a few pounds thanks to the holidays, being lazy with meal planning, and adopting a more hermit lifestyle (hello cold weather, cozy couch, and Gilmore Girls marathon). I’ve also have been over indulging in the sweets lately too. Nomnomnom! But, nothing hopping on the elliptical, geocaching, and refocusing my eating habits can’t cure.

Wishing you all good health and happiness!

Life Lately

Hi everyone! It’s been awhile since I last posted about what we’ve been up to so I figured it was high time to play catch up.

Things are going well in the Carty household!

I’ve been slowly simplifying our belongings and organizing the place. We’ve gotten into a better routine when it comes to laundry and dishes. We recently transferred our budget over to Google spreadsheets and, since it’s now accessible to us at home, work, or on the go, it is much easier to track spending and stay on top of our goals. We’re also trying to meal plan more to keep our grocery budget under control and to set ourselves up for success health-wise. Our student loan debt is now down to $8K. Here’s hoping we can keep kicking ass and get it down to zero in May!

We’re also excited to announce that Ryan is finally on 1st shift. For real this time, guys! Some of you may remember us sharing the same news back in July when he was promoted to Operations Supervisor. Unfortunately the job requirements changed shortly after Ryan moved into that role and the day shift option was taken off the table. So for the past 6 months, we’ve felt pretty grumpy and discouraged. He’s worked 2nd shift (12 pm – 8 pm or later) since we got married and moved to Minnesota three years ago.  It gets old. We’ve been so ready to carpool, have family dinner, attend trivia night, go out on a Friday, and actually talk to each other in person during the week.

Thankfully, after many candid conversations with his managers and some shifts due to company growth, Ryan was able to step down from his supervisor position, move to 1st shift, and become the company’s new Returns Administrator. Monday was his first day working 8 am – 4:30 pm and so far, it’s as great as we hoped. Ryan’s re-energized about the company and his career and we’re both thrilled to start spending more time together.

Ryan said I better brag about myself a bit so I guess I will. I’m doing well at work too and have gotten some nice praise lately in addition to making a few placement bonuses. I’ve been helping management prepare for a conference presentation coming up in May. I’m also heading up our new website redesign project and creating it myself using WordPress. It’s a large undertaking but the end result will be so worth it (and is long overdue!).

In addition to being busy at work and getting our homelife in order, we’ve been making time to have fun as well.

We hosted game night and went to the movies. I met up with some of my blogger pals to celebrate a friend’s birthday. We also attended Ryan’s holiday party which was a blast.

Holiday PartyHis company hosts a grand get together every January to show their appreciation. This year it was held at The Depot Renaissance Hotel downtown Minneapolis and was Great Gastby themed. Hundreds of employees and their guests attended! They had delicious food, a photo booth, hoppin’ dance floor, and a bunch of casino games for entertainment.

It was a great night and a nice way for us to celebrate Ryan’s new role and the beginning of a new chapter for us.

So, that’s what’s been going on around here. Hope you all are doing well!

Cheers to a fantastic February!

My Travel Essentials

Over the last four months I’ve traveled a lot! I spent four weeks trekking around Europe with my mom, a weekend away celebrating a friend’s wedding, and then back-to-back trips home for holidays. After being on-the-go so often, I think I’ve finally honed my list of travel “must-haves”.

I know many of you are getting away this winter (lucky!) and escaping to warmer climates, so I thought I’d share some of the items I’ve come to rely on.

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Peppermint oil – I buy mine from Veriditas Botanicals at my local co-op and carry two different versions. One, a diluted version, is in a roller bottle for easy application to the forehead for headaches, chest for congestion, or the stomach for GI discomfort. I dilute 10 drops of peppermint oil with jojoba oil (my choice of carrier oil) since peppermint can irritate the skin when used alone. Then I carry a small bottle or vial of pure, undiluted peppermint oil. Place a drop on the back of your hand and lick to combat heartburn, over-eating, nausea, and sinus congestion. The method also works to freshen your breath!

Gin Gins Hard Candy – I cannot rave about this product enough. I’m obsessed. These candies have gotten me through winding road trips, bad dinners, boat rides, and bumpy flights. I have them littered throughout my kitchen, purse, car, work desk… you name it, there’s probably one hiding there. Gingery miracles, I tell ya!

Evian Mineral Water Spray – A little expensive but this luxury item is worth it on hot days for a quick cool off or to freshen up after a long flight or car ride. It definitely came in handy during warm hikes and rushed train transfers in Italy. If you’re looking to splurge, this mister is very refreshing, has a soft spray, and comes packaged in travel size.

Refresh Classic Eye Drops – I seem to only be able to find these on Amazon.com, but they are by far my favorite eye drops. I love that they come in individual vials; perfect for travel or to leave a few at work or in the car. I can even use them while wearing my contact lenses. They are always sterile, never sting, and don’t leave dried flakes on your eyelashes or cheeks.

Belkin Travel Charger – Between my phone, iPod, kindle, and camera, I need room to charge everything at the end of the day. This compact surge protector rotates 360-degrees, has 3 outlets, and 2 USB ports. Charge all your gadgets in the same place and never worry about fighting over hotel or airport outlets again.

eBags Packing Cubes – These are fantastic. Great for saving space, organizing clothes, and corralling cords or other small items. You can pack a lot in them! I could fit about six regular rolled-up t-shirts in each bag (more if the clothing item was thin or I really stuffed it). Strong zippers. This youtube video shows you how to make the most of your packing cubes.

Eating Utensil Set - This came in handy on my trip to Europe. I used the ring to attach the silverware to my backpack, pants loop, camera bag, etc. Easy to clean! When I’m not traveling the set lives in my car. Perfect for picnics, farmer’s market finds, or meals on the go.

Ear Plugs –  I cannot stand noise when I’m trying to sleep so these really save me. They are comfortable, inexpensive, effective, and are good for multiple uses if you make an effort to keep them somewhat clean. Say good bye to the disruptive sounds of a chatty seat mate, snoring partner, noisy neighbor, or nearby traffic.

Thermarest Compressible Pillow – Soft, highly compressible pillow that’s perfect for airplane travel, camping, backpacking, or snoozing in the car. I even use it when we stay in hotels or at my in-laws. What can I say, I love an extra pillow! This one rolls up tight but fluffs up well – all while providing comfortable yet solid support.

Pacsafe Day Pack – I bought this for peace of mind while traveling through crowds in Europe but came to love it for many other reasons. Sure, it has great anti-theft features, like zipper closures, slash proof straps, and hidden steel mesh lining. But it’s also water proof and has padded shoulder straps, a laptop sleeve pocket, extra pockets inside for your passport, snacks, sunscreen, or reading material, and two side pockets that are perfect for water bottles or an umbrella. It’s small and lightweight but carries more than you think. And one of the shoulder straps detaches so you can wrap it around a table leg at a restaurant, allowing you enjoy your meal without worrying someone is going to steal your pack. I use the day pack instead of a purse when flying or traveling,  I’m out geocaching, and every day when I walk to work.

Tortuga Travel Back Pack –  I was tired of my roller luggage and clunky bags. They were awkward; always ripping and breaking – not to mention the nightmare of maneuvering them when the terrain is not airport-floor smooth. Thankfully I stumbled on the Tortuga bag and I’ll never go back. I love it! It’s so nice to only have to worry about one bag  and not have to hassle with dragging a wheeled one on cobblestones streets or lifting it up the steps of the train. It could have fit a smidgen better but I am a 5’2” woman with a short torso. The padded hip belt was great and the small pockets there were so useful; nice for quick access to plan tickets or extra change. The laptop sleeve (accessible from top) was my favorite! Perfect for laptop, folders, or a folded jacket – it packed down flat and was quick to reach without opening up the entire bag. I was able to fit everything I needed into the bag and then some. My only complaints would be that the chest strap should be a little longer and should have a bit of padding to make it more comfortable. Other than that, I adore my Tortuga and plan to use it for many years to come!

Other must haves… music (never go anywhere without good tunes!), snacks (jerky, larabar, honey), and chapstick.

These are just a few of my favorites! What have I missed?

What are some of your travel essentials?

2014 in Review

It’s unbelievable how much can happen in just 365 days! If you’d like – take a trip down memory lane with our recaps from 20112012, and 2013 or keep reading for our review of 2014.

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This year…

 It’s been quite the year! Can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring!