Mar 27, 2014

What Gives You the Right?

Today I'm going to let out something that's been on my mind and I might catch a lot of crap for it.

I've been seeing an abundance of Facebook posts and articles bashing people who are a size 0 lately. I read two this morning that said "I may not be a size 0 but at least I have curves..." Did you know that I wear a size 0 and have since 8th grade? That doesn't mean that I haven't gained any weight since then. It also doesn't mean that I'm squeezing myself into jeans that are too small. What it does mean is that every time I hear someone talk about how disgusting a size 0 is or how they need to eat a cheeseburger (or any of the other stupid things that are said daily), I take all those things to heart. It's as though you were saying them directly to me.

I don't know if any of you have paid attention to my pictures lately but I sure don't lack in curves in at least one department! I also struggle with different parts of my body, just like any other size does.in high school (and even now) I was constantly teased about my size. I really struggled with how my body changed when I finished sports and I started to get out of shape. You may not notice it through my clothes but underneath things sure look a lot different than they used to! I have to eat every few hours because my stomach is small. It fills up fast but empties even faster. It really sucks when you can't enjoy a full meal because you're stuffed to the point of being uncomfortable. People tell me I need to eat more or that I'm not eating enough because they only see a sliver of my day. I carry snacks with me because if I don't eat between the larger meals, I get shaky and sick. I don't exercise like I should and I eat as much as my body allows, so why is it okay for you to talk about my pants size like it's something I choose? Did you go to the store one day and say "I'm going to be a size x today," and bam, you were that size? I didn't think so, now stop acting like I did.

I understand that there are people out there who's body types are at both extremes. That doesn't give us the right to talk negatively towards them any more than it gives them the right to talk badly about you. One of the many problems about shaming someone of any size that's different than your own is that you never know the circumstances. Maybe they have a disease that causes them to gain or lose weight. Maybe there are underlying issues that they are running from. There will always be someone who is more in shape or more out of shape than you are! Every body, even within the exact same pants or dress size, is different than the next! Some people look small but are very unhealthy and out of shape, others look larger with clothes on but underneath they're toned and healthy.

STOP! Just stop judging people by their size and stop judging yourself. As long as you are happy with how you look then who cares what the tag in your pants or the scale in your bathroom says. And for crying out loud, stop making ignorant comments about other people and just live your life! It's just too short to care so much about all of this size crap. Tell someone they look beautiful today and mean it, then tell yourself the same thing. Stop caring so much about what other people think and start looking at your own heart for your happiness!

Then:




Now:




Love,
Mandy

Mar 25, 2014

Chicken Parmesan Soup


Awhile back I had a craving for chicken parmesan. I pinned a bunch of recipes including chicken parm sliders and chicken parm soup. I have attempted to make the original many times but still haven't quite figured out how to get a crispy breading on the chicken (it always turns out sort of mushy). It still tastes delicious but hasn't quite had the desired effect.

Since we've been stuck in the never ending winter, I wanted to make some soup last night. I decided it was time to try the chicken parm soup recipe to see if I was any better at making that! I loved the recipe and my friend Samantha encouraged me to post the recipe after I posted the above picture to my Instagram last night. It's hard for me to post the exact recipe I made because I eye-balled some of the ingredients and I loosely followed the original recipe. If you decide to make the recipe, you make have to tweak it to your tastes or follow the original recipe. I cooked mine on the stove but the original recipe is for a slow cooker.

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1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup Great Value pasta sauce (I think I will try tomato juice to replace this next time)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 cups chicken broth
2-4 cups water (depending on how strong you want the soup to taste)
Dry onion flakes (I sprinkled a generous amount in)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese + extra for topping
1 teaspoon basil (I used dried basil)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 box pasta, uncooked

Add all ingredients except pasta and chicken, cook on high heat until boiling then simmer. Chop chicken into bite size pieces and cook separately. Once fully cooked, shred and add to soup mix. Stir in uncooked pasta and cover. Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until pasta is fully cooked. Top with parmesan cheese if you'd like!

It was pretty simple to make but as I said, I eye-balled some of the ingredients and had to guess about how long to cook since I made this on the stove instead of in a slow cooker. If you have more time to cook, you can add the chicken to the soup mix immediately and cook in the soup instead of separately. I found the original recipe through Pinterest here if you'd like to check it out and compare. Hope you enjoy!

Love,
Mandy

Mar 24, 2014

Why I Suck As A Friend.

I've come to kind of a hard conclusion over the weekend. Lots of alone time to think about what's going on in one's life can do that to a person.

I suck as a friend. Well, at least lately I have.

You see, for the last 6 months my life has been in a pretty constant state of unknown. Changing week by week it seems. That has made it pretty hard to keep track of what's going on with me let alone my friends. I've tried to keep up with their lives at least a little bit but since M came home for Christmas I've slacked. When he came back, obviously he was my sole focus for those two weeks. Then once he headed back to good ol' Fort Leonard Wood, I started looking for a job. I stumbled on that job pretty quickly and started within a few days of finding it. Since then, I've been adjusting to working full-time and seeing what being a grown up really feels like. It's still a little weird to comprehend some days!

M came home from AIT about a month ago and that blows my mind. Time has been slipping through my fingers! One of my love languages is receiving gifts which means I most frequently show my love to others by giving gifts. I love to bake a huge batch of cookies or bars knowing I probably won't eat a single one. I pack them up and head out to see several friends, dropping off a little gift to each one. I had made it a pretty regular habit but honestly, the last time I did that was during finals week in December. Hello, it's almost the end of March.

I try to text a lot of my friends but it's hard to have a steady conversation or a meaningful one through text. Since I haven't been making these regular visits, I haven't really talked to many of them in depth since December. That really breaks my heart! I think about my friends and for most of them, I don't know what they're dealing with. I suck!

Lately I've been feeling really frustrated that I haven't heard from my friends. Feeling left out and upset for the most part. I kept thinking "why don't they ever invite me anywhere? Why don't they ever text me or just stop by?" The more would dwell on it, the more upset I got. I'm really weird about friendships in that I don't have a ton of friends, just a few friends that I fiercely cling to consider close. I get really hurt when I don't feel like they include me in their lives! Probably way more hurt that I really should. I work by myself all day which leaves me feeling pretty lonely (I love my job, don't get me wrong).

With my birthday coming up, I've been feeling extra upset because I have no plans with anyone (except my brother and sister-in-law, hi guys!) to celebrate. It's a big one but I have less plans than I've ever had. This really got me thinking about why my friends haven't been in touch. I've come to one conclusion. I haven't been in touch with them! I haven't made the effort to see what they have going on because I've been focused on all the stuff I've got going on. I get frustrated because they don't ask me about my crazy life. In reality, I'm sure they all have just as much stuff going on that I haven't asked them about. I'm doing just as bad as every person I've been mad at. I also can't be mad at them if I don't tell them I'm mad and why. They aren't mind readers, that I'm aware of, so I'm sitting here mad and they don't even know it.

So friends and family, if you're reading this: I'm sorry I've been slacking lately! I've been feeling hurt and in turn I've closed myself off to everything but my own life. I promise to make more of an effort to see what you have going on! Just promise you'll invite me over so I can get a chance to ask you! Just because I might say no this time doesn't mean the next time I will too. We're all busy but I want to see you! Also, this married girl still needs girl time so don't count me out! I miss each and every one of you, I just don't get a chance to tell you.

This was almost two years ago. Yep, I miss this!
And now I'm going to bake a ton of cookies or bars and get to work!

Love,
Mandy

Mar 14, 2014

Money doesn't always suck..

When I decided to stop forcing myself to follow the crowd (college) one thing I knew was that we'd be paying off student loans much sooner than we'd expected. For any of you paying off student loans, you know how scary that thought is. It's good because the sooner you start paying them, the less interest you will end up paying. It's bad because you're forced to realize day in and day out just how much debt you racked up and it's disgusting to think about. Some of you may not know this but you have 6 months post-graduation/stopping school before you're forced to start paying those off. Those months are passing much faster than I'd hoped and I'm nervous to get the first "bill" of sorts.

As I talked about the other day, I'm so thankful for the full time job I landed. Especially because now that M is home, his Army pay is drastically less than while he was gone (reserve pay is different than active duty pay) so our bank account would have taken a huge hit without it. To prepare us for having to pay these loans off soon, we've tightened up our laxed budget quite a bit. Before, as long as our balance stayed above a certain amount after paying bills, I didn't really have a set amount that we stuck to for things we bought. I used mint.com to make a budget but we never really payed attention to it. I blame that partly on doing our finances by myself while M was away. I took the easy route and now we have to pay for it. It's pretty gross how easy it is for "just a few dollars" to add up throughout the month without you noticing. I'm really sad that I didn't force myself to pay more attention because we could have a lot more in our bank account than we do. My parents taught me all about money, I've had a checkbook since I was a teenager, but I thought I didn't need a budget because we usually stayed above that bottom line I'd set.

A few months ago I talked about meal planning but I didn't really get into it until the middle of February. We don't always make what I planned for but each week we get better at it. I was grocery shopping every Saturday for the next week but recently I bought 3 weeks worth of groceries for the same amount I'd spend every week. And that was without any coupons! It's insane how much planning out what we need has helped me avoid buying random foods because we might need them.

I've also been wanting to try the envelope system since I read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover but I was scared to start. We rely very heavily on our debit cards which became apparent when we had some fraud charges on our account and had to wait a long time for our replacement cards to show up. When I see a bunch of cash in my wallet I think it needs to be spent immediately which is obviously a problem. Growing up my parents always said "that cash is burning a hole in your pocket, isn't it?" Obviously if we used the envelope system, I'd have to get that urge in check.

So a few days ago, I researched the envelope system. There are many different versions but I decided to mix and match to find something that worked for us. We needed some help with categories to get started and then we added some of our own. We sat down separately with a list of categories and the amount of money we had left to "spend" on average after our bills were paid. I say on average because my pay is hourly and every week is different for me which makes it very hard to budget ahead of time. I took the lowest amount of hours it would work in a pay period and multiplied it by two since I get paid twice a month. That way, we would always have at least that amount to work with every month.

We compared our numbers together and came to a consensus on what we wanted to spend in each category. We bought a TV after I got paid the other day which took a big part of my check. I divided the rest of it up pretty equally between the categories besides groceries since I have those bought for the rest of the month. I had almost the right amounts in every category to get us to the next paycheck. Once I get that check, I will put the full amounts in each envelope. 

I have a feeling it will take us a few months to get the hang of it but I can honestly say I'm excited about a budget for the first time ever! We paid off all our credit card debt a little while ago and that was so exciting! Now to build up soMe savings and pay off those loans. If things go well, I hope to be talking about this more in the future. Wish us luck!

How do you budget? What are you willing to splurge on, even when you're on a budget?

Love,
Mandy

Mar 12, 2014

Leaping To My Happy Place

Here I am, almost three months into this thing called following my heart and doing what makes me happy. Almost two months into my first full-time job! For the first time in so long, I wake up every day and I'm not stressed out to the point of tears. When I get home from work, I can choose to lay in bed with my husband all night with zero guilt because there is nothing else I have to be doing like homework or reading stacks of textbooks. I smile every day because I'm not miserable when I think of what the next few years hold for me!

Especially if it includes lots of puppy snuggles!
I truly am so unbelievably happy with this choice I've made! It wasn't easy to go from having a few years of school left and knowing what followed to no plans for what was next and no job lined up. I think I was in denial for the first few weeks. The decision was made around Thanksgiving and by Christmas I was no longer a college student. It all happened so fast and then I was distracted by M being home for a few weeks. When he left and I was alone again, I really started to panic. What if it was the wrong choice? What if I hated working all the time or I couldn't find a full time job?

I was so lucky to find this job so quickly and I've been feeling so blessed! Not to say that it wasn't a huge adjustment (hello, taking care of a little human is hard work) but at least I'm doing something I love to do. Though I'm sad I don't have much time for photography lately, I'm still finding time here and there to get stuff done! I feel fortunate that I found a full time job without a degree when there are so many people out there with degrees that can't find work. I never knew I would be in the position that I'm in at my age! I always thought I'd go to school, graduate, get married, have kids, stay at home or work. God had other plans for me though and I feel so blessed that He lead me to where I am now.

Thank you to all of you who have encouraged me and are there to vent to whenever I need it! This little place of mine has turned into a blessing all on its own. Y'all are amazing friends to me!

And M, thank you for taking this huge leap of faith with me. I love you! I couldn't have done it without you!

Love,
Mandy


Mar 4, 2014

Journaling Life

Since M has been home I swear time has sped up! I feel like every day is packed full of things to get done and when it's not, I just want to spend time with my husband. Can you blame me? Every day flies by and I feel like I never get a chance to just sit still for awhile and reflect on my life. I started this blog to help keep track of the memories but let's be honest, not every day is blog post worthy. It's also turned into a place for me to vent frustrations or even discuss things I'd never thought about before.


I'm the type of person who can write for hours when I sit down and get to it but I often get distracted for a long time first. I love to write with a pen and paper! It may take way longer but I'd rather sit down and write snail mail than send someone an email any day. I often wondered if I'd be able to write a blog post easier on paper than on the computer because I'd be without all the distractions just a click away. Turns out, I can!

I bought a cute spiral notebook from Target and I've been trying to sit down whenever I get a free minute to write for awhile. I also got another notebook and filled it with journaling topics that I'd really like to write about! I mean, I bet I have 100+ topics and I'm still adding to the list. I don't have to wrack my brain for something to write about every time I want to write which is usually what stops me from writing in the first place!


I encourage you to take some time to reflect about your life! Past memories, current worries, future goals. It's amazing how therapeutic just writing down your feelings truly can be! If you're struggling to type it out, get out some paper and try it that way! If you can't think of anything to talk about, try looking up some journaling prompts. Those ideas may lead you to a whole list of your own!


How do you express your feelings? What are your favorite notebooks?

Love,
Mandy