My Eclipse Experience

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All I have heard about for the past month or so is how this solar eclipse was a once in a lifetime experience. I didn’t want Danyella and I to miss out on the experience so I tried my damnest to acquire the glasses that were safe to use during the eclipse but everywhere was out unless I wanted to pay hundreds of dollars just for a couple of pairs… I think NOT!

There were lots of tutorials on how to make eclipse viewers from home that were safe for your eyes so I decided to go with the tutorial using a cereal box, paper, tape and tin foil put out by the National Weather Service. It was super easy especially since we had cereal boxes that I needed to get rid of because my family decided to boycott eating specific cereals. (I hate wasting the food but you can’t force them to eat it.) We had a Star Wars lucky charms viewer, Honeycomb viewer and Boo Berry viewer!

As the eclipse started in Oregon, we watched on my mom’s tv (we have gone without cable for a year now and just run everything off of the internet) as the total eclipse made complete darkness on the West Coast. It was the coolest thing to watch as the total eclipse started and ended in one place and moved onto the next. By the time it reached Missori, I headed home because I wasn’t feeling so great.

The peak of the eclipse in New Jersey was happening at 2:45 EST so I laid down for a while and watched NASA’s livestream on Facebook. At its peak in New Jersey, 87% of the Sun was to be covered by the moon. As the time approached, the clouds rolled in over our area which made it super hard to actually see the eclipse happen.

This is the view I had from inside my viewer: Photo Aug 21, 2 45 47 PM

 

 

 

 

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One thing I learned from others that experienced the eclipse before me, use your selfie mode on your phone to take a picture without hurting your eyes. This is one of my views from selfie mode at the peak time:

 

 

 

 

One of the coolest parts of the eclipse was feeling the tempeture drop. I wish it would have dropped the humidity but no such luck. As I stood outside I could feel the nice coolness over my hot skin.

Here is an photo from the eclipse in Missori: 20935089_1921539227862865_5155357038067295748_o

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a better picture someone was able to take through their solar lens telescope from my area: 20914452_329140380879770_5259685681633691618_n

 

 

 

I might not have gotten to experience what everyone else expierence but at least I can tell my grandchildren and great grandchildren that we were able to experience at least. What was your experience?

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My Secret to Motivation

My Secret To Motivation

As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, finding the joy in everyday living has been a struggle or better wording has taken A LOT of work from me mentally, physically and spiritually. There have been days that I don’t work on my self-care and those days have been the ones that make me realize that I need to work twice as hard the next day.

About 8 years ago, I found myself in the biggest depression of my life. I was a single mom struggling to make ends meet. We had to have a funeral for my brother who had just lost this battle to drugs. I was in a toxic relationship with an alcoholic that I felt I needed to save from himself.  I had to hold it together because that is what I do.

I don’t know how I came across the books by Louise Hay but they changed my life. Reading her books, made me realize that I held my own power over my life not my circumstances or other people. I was the one who had to take a stand with myself, for myself.

After reading 2 of her books, I was focused and working on myself everyday for about a year. Slowly, I got away from the positive habits I had worked so hard to achieve and the old, bad habits started creeping up.

About 2 years ago, I was flipping through suggestions on Netflix and The Secret came across on my list. I had no idea what the movie was about but it looked intriguing so I watched it. Wow!! The things that the people in the video said spoke to me in ways that I didn’t even know I could be reached mentally and spiritually. I looked into the book and found it on Audible.com which is my latest way to “read” books when I don’t have the time to sit and read.

I began to listen to the words over and over again. Some of the chapters I have repeated after listening to them once then over again because there is a message in there that I need to stick in my mind and soul. I was so grateful for these words.

Nearly everyday, I start my day by listening to the audio version of The Secret because I am at a point in my life that when I am stressed out I need the reminder to be set back on track. Listening to the wonderful things they have to say, the affirmations that adapt for my life and the success stories keep me motivated to keep working on myself. If I don’t work on myself then no one else will work on me and I will end up back in the deep slump I was in before and I don’t want that at all.

The great thing about having The Secret on audio book is that I can listen while I am making breakfast, taking a walk, doing laundry… just about anything and anywhere (as long as I remember my earbuds and new adapter)! Listening to other people acheive their sucesses through self care keeps me motivated to keep on going. To take the time everyday to work on myself and love myself.

My motivation for all of you on this Solar Eclipse Monday is to watch, listen or read The Secret and take the time to work on yourself even if its 5 minutes everyday…. You are worth it!

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My Favorite Savings App

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With the hundreds of money saving apps out there it is hard to decide which one is worth your time to download and use. When I was introduced to the FREE IBOTTA app, I was clueless about how it worked but I was intrigued because my friend Erin raved about it. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose just to download it and try it…

One thing I had to learn was the Ibotta uses rebates which collect in your account and you can redeem for money or gift cards. (I will get into that later) Now please now that rebates are different from coupons because with coupons you get the money discounted at the register so pay less. With rebates, you get the money back AFTER you purchase the item.

I was right and super happy that I followed my instinct to try this app out. They have rebates for major stores and websites like Walmart, Amazon, Target plus other local stores which for me the big one is Shoprite. You can search for the type of rebate you want or browse through the stores they offer rebates.

Now please now that rebates are different from coupons because with coupons you get the money discounted at the register so pay less. With rebates, you get the money back AFTER you purchase the items.

Normally, I use Ibotta for my grocery shopping at either Walmart, Target and Shoprite. They seem to be the ones I get the most rebates for plus bonus rebates. (Yes I said bonus rebates…. just wait because it is cool) Honestly, I prefer Walmart because when you go to redeem your rebates all you do is scan the QR code at the bottom of the receipt instead of taking a picture of the ENTIRE receipt. With the other stores, at least so far, you have to take a picture of the entire receipt and if it is to dark or blurry then they reject it and you have to start all over. I just get to frustrated to deal with that sometimes.

After all of that information I am sure you are a little lost, so let me walk you through the process. You must begin this process BEFORE you go shopping because the rebates only count if they are selected before you purchase something! Select the store or rebate you want to look at, click the specific rebate you are interested in, click to get the rebate, complete either the survey or watch the video (its a pain but worth the rebates) and then you can check whether the item you are looking at in the store is qualified for the rebate (sometimes specific flavors or types of items are excluded), purchase your qualifying items, redeem your rebates then watch the money grow in your account.

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Let’s talk about the cool bonuses they offer! If you connect your account through Facebook then everytime one of your friends joins Ibotta they become part of your “team”. When you have a team of friends, you and your friends earn towards different levels of bonuses everytime you redeem a rebate. These rebates start at $1 when you personally redeem 8 rebates and your team redeems $10 in rebates. Then you have different bonuses from manufacturers, stores/sites or Ibotta boosts (the company will give you an added bonus for redeeming so many rebates in a specific time period). These bonuses are how I have really made some extra money.

The last bonus is the invite your friends bonus where you can make $5 for each friend that joins under your referral code. The bonuses escalate with each friend you have join under your code which can add up really fast. I have yet to have someone join under my code because I am not pushy at getting my friends to do the things I am doing. I will share it on my Facebook or Twitter once in a while but that is about it.

 

Last but not least the awesome ways you can redeem your rebates! First you can withdrawl the rebates for cash into your Paypal or venmo accounts with a $20 minimum. Or you can redeem your rebates for cool gift cards like Itunes, Uber, Walmart, Amazon, tons of restuarants and other stores. Each of these gift cards has a minimum that needs to be in your account before you can redeem them. Personally, I use my bonuses to redeem Regal Movies Gift Cards  because Danyella and I love to go to the movies. One $25 gift card is enough for us to buy movie tickets and then I just need the money for snacks. Photo Aug 20, 11 38 13 AM

So far, I have redeemed $271 in rebates over the past year and a few months! That is alot of movies we have seen just for buying things we use. Another nice thing about this app has been finding new foods or brands that I wouldn’t have normally tried but saw a good rebate so I tried it anyway and now have a new favorite. There is money to be made and fun you can have with this app so I highly recommend it. For the little time it takes to find the rebates, you can earn FREE money for the purchases you would be making anyways.

 

If you are interested in the Ibotta App here is the link to the website or you can find it for your smartphone in your itunes or android/google store. 85b1e55bab94bd80c698b64c678125f7

*For those of you that do not want to use the app there is a website version that you can add the rebates to your account but you need the app in order to redeem the rebates.

**Please note that is not a paid endorsement from Ibotta but a review with my own opinions and love for the app and company.

Half Way Done, So Why Am I Not Happier?

Half way done with my pregnancy and I should be doing the “Happy Dance” but I physically cannot because the pain in my back makes it hard for me to even walk let alone dance. Add to that, I woke up this morning with my feet so swollen that it hurts to put any pressure on them. The list could go on….

 

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I made the joke to my OB nurse/friend the other day when she asked me how I was doing: ” Eh, miserable like usual. I feel like I am experiencing every single negative pregnancy symptom with this baby”. Well, of course, since I put it out to the universe, the universe answered by giving me new symptoms to deal with and now I would be willing to deal with just the old symptoms like the heartburn, constipation and hemorrhoids. (Yes I know TMI but what do you think pregnancy and giving birth is… putting your whole body out there for people to touch, prod and poke so why hold back on what looks like just a cute baby bump everyone wants to touch.)

Now in my reality, my half way mark could have come and pass because of my history of preemies but I would like to keep Baby Evelynne inside her little incubator for at least another few months for her own good. I just wish these symptoms would let up just a little bit or at least have just one at a time. (lol the small things that you begin to appreciate)

In my baby group, another mom expressed the same thing of how she is just miserable in her pregnancy. No Glow, No Happy Moments just symptoms that make your survival through each day a challenge. For any other moms going through the symptoms of pregnancy, you are never alone! There is always other moms going through the same symptoms and feelings!

Something to look forward to is the big anatomy ultrasound on Wednesday (I know, I know we already know the sex but still getting to see how big she is compared to making sure my cervix is “nice and long will be a nice change). I know that I am supposed to count up with the weeks like next week will be 21 weeks, but I will be going the other way… next week is 19 weeks to go!

 

Feed Me Friday

8fdc36a50f3d37fbbf9dd7e4aab10df8 Now that I am limited duty bed rest, I seem to have a lot of time on my hands which makes wanting to eat after 4 months of horrible morning sickness, something I want to do all day long. One of my weaknesses has been eating out because when I crave something, it has been a salad from this place, a smoothie from that place, fried chicken, hamburger, fries or anything else that I usually never make at home.

Ok, let me be honest here…. I never make much of anything at home. Even before my pregnancy, if I would make something at home I would be so tired so the smell or look that I wouldn’t want to eat it after that. So, most times I would eat out or get the prepared meals from Shoprite or Walmart so all I had to do was pop it in the oven or microwave for a few minutes and dinner was done. My mother was the cook that made meals from scratch, I was the one who would just eat them and then have a happy belly.

Well, I think I have begun my nesting stages since being out of work because I have been cleaning and cooking…. from scratch! Danyella’s obsession with cooking shows hasn’t helped the feeling like I NEED to cook from scratch. We watch every Master Chef episode whether it is adults or kids version (that is where she found her first crush Riley) so she is always wanting to try to cook but I am that scared mother of letting her do anything in the kitchen. She is 10 and now is allowed to use the microwave and toaster which even then I am lecturing her on being safe. (Don’t tell her I said that she is as clumsy as I am when she isn’t dancing lol)

The latest show we started binge watching is Worst Cooks in America from Food Network on Hulu. First, we were not to happy that we could only watch 3 of 9 seasons and that whole thing doesn’t make sense as to why streaming apps do this. Second, it is so funny to see some of the food these people make and actually eat. Third, as much as I don’t want to cook I definitely not a Worst Cook! This inspired me to make 3 of the 4 dishes I am going to feature today.

First dish was homemade mashed potatoes! Yes, most people give me that weird ass look like I have 3 heads because I am 36 and have never made mashed potatoes from scratch. In my defense, they tasted so good when someone else would make them or if I bought the Bob Evans or whatever brand of pre-made ones from Walmart. Off to Pinterest I went to get an easy recipe and here is the one I found: Restaurant-Style Garlic Mashed Potatoes which seemed pretty simple and easy. I used the potatoes that I got from the local farm stand (buy local and support your farmers people!) and followed the instructions. It was pretty damn easy! I paired it with ham steaks and peas and yummy!! My food critics (Danyella and Doug) were even impressed and one went back from seconds.

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With one dish down, I thought hey I could make for from scratch so let’s make a plan for another meal but then I got the request to make Peach upside-down Cake because the one finalist on Worst Cooks lost the whole competition because he screwed that dessert up. So I pulled out the peaches from the farm stand and found this recipe on Pinteret: Peach Upside-Down Cupcakes The recipe was pretty easy to follow and all but one cupcakes came out the pan without an issue. Danyella absolutely loved helping to make these cupcakes and was so happy to share them with her grandparents when she went to their house for a sleepover that night.

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Since Danyella was going to be away for the evening, I could make something that Doug and I would eat but she wouldn’t…. seafood! I had a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer that I needed to find a recipe for and found this one: 10-Minute Honey Garlic Shrimp I will admit that I did alter this recipe a bit because with pregnancy induced heartburn there was no way I could do chili flakes without breathing flames afterwards. Plus instead of fresh garlic, I used Tastefully Simple’s Garlic Garlic blend. It was really good and someone else must have liked it because he finished it off! 3 successful dishes…. 1 more to go!

 

Last one to go came from just scrolling through Facebook and an ad was on my Newsfeed for mac and cheese…. the baked, homemade version. Well the picture looked amazing and I wanted it at 9 in the morning. I found this recipe on Pinterest: Baked Mac and Cheese So I had ran to the store to grab what I needed and later the day started to make it. The gooey-ness that made me so hungry before all of a sudden turned me off. Yes that good ole pregnancy nausea was back with a vengeance. I made it, ate it and then decided that when we ran to get dog food that Doug had to go to McDonalds for a Crispy Chicken Bacon Ranch salad. He was not happy about it but I didn’t care because I wanted my salad not the mac and cheese. He ate 2 dishes of the mac and cheese and loved it. The leftovers are in the fridge for him to eat before he goes to work overnights this week. So this one is a win/lose because he loved it but I did not but I blame the pregnacy nausua on that.

 

I haven’t made anything in a few days but I have plans for this weekend! Stay tuned to see what I make in next Friday’s Feed Me post!

My Day to Rant

Having a filter is something that has disappeared over time and experiences in life. I have learned to control how often and when I rant about things but like a steamer pot, eventually I need to blow some steam off before my lid explodes and people get hurt. That is why I am making Thursdays my day to rant over things that I have either experienced in my life, things I just don’t agree with or just something I want to rant about.

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I am hoping that if I keep my ranting to one day a week, I will start to feel the good things in life that I feel like I have missing out on. Listening to The Secret everyday has made me realize that I cannot focus on the negativity in life in order to live a positive, happy life. The reality of life is that not every experience is going to be a happy one so letting the negative things out is essential to keep me from going completely insane.

Today’s rant is going to just be a small one….

If you read my post yesterday, you know that it was my boyfriend’s birthday. My birthday shopping on a budget was done at Walmart because I could get all of the supplies for his gift and a card within my budget. Or so I thought….

Since being on a budget limited how much I could spend on him, I started off looking at the “affordable” birthday cards (cards are one of the most over priced things for a piece of paper) but they were either geared to children or just lame. So I went over to the “over-priced” card section. I see the banner that states “Birthday for Him” looking for a section that is birthday cards for Boyfriends. I see Husbands, Dad, Fathers, Grandfathers, Sons, Nephews, Uncles but NO BOYFRIENDS!

I guess corporate America doesn’t believe boyfriends deserve birthday cards personalized for them. Even in the Husband section, every single card had Husband printed on it somewhere so that wouldn’t work since he is still not wanting to marry me. I am sure if he received a card that said husband and I tried to cross out husband and write in boyfriend it was meant as a jab (not that thought hasn’t crossed my mind because the temptation was real).

So back to the cheap, generic cards I go…. instead of finding a nice, romantic card like I wanted, I had to settle for a funny card. The card was something that fits us but still left me disappointed that I couldn’t find what I wanted because corporate America doesn’t think we need cards for Boyfriends. In a day and age where more people are getting divorced or taking years to get married, you would think they would take advantage of charging $5 for a boyfriend card….

Ok rant for today is over! Now onto the positive things for the day…. Enjoy your Thirsty Thursday and if you are having a drink to celebrate have an extra one for this pregnant mama!

Birthday on a Budget for the Men

Photo Aug 16, 8 20 25 AMHappy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to my Baby Daddy, Happy Birthday to You!

I had to start my post out today with a special birthday shout out to my Baby Daddy aka my boyfriend. He is in the middle of inventory at work and finishing a job so I only got to see him as he got into bed at 6:30am and when I left at 9am but I still wanted to make feel special because celebrating others is something I love to do.

My Birthday Gift to HIM:

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Of course my idea came from Pinterest because most of my ideas are inspired by others on Pinterest. Doug loves Sharks so this tackle box filled with candy is just up his alley with a cute little saying for him. I headed to Walmart and purchased the tackle box (not sure that is the correct term because I don’t fish lol) for $2.44 plus Smarties (his favorite candy that has yet to make him any smarter lol), Gummy Lifesavers, Gummy Worms and Swedish Fish. All of this was under $10 and made a cute gift that he can snack on while he is at work plus use the tackle box after he done eating his candy.

Plus the candy (except Smarties because just yuck!) that didn’t fit made a nice snack as I assembled the box last night. Baby Evelynne and I were happy with our late night sugar rush!