I’m the Hero of This Story on a Monday.

HeroHappy Monday! Here’s some motivation for you because it’s going to be a longggg week!:

Often times, I think that people are way harder than themselves than anyone else, which is crazy because why pile on top of what your critics already say/think about you? People will paint you in a negative light—there’s no reason for you to add to what people who aren’t your friends think and there’s certainly no reason why your biggest critic should be yourself.

It’s taken me a long time, the majority of my life, to get to the point when I don’t care what people say and I don’t participate in the criticism of myself. In fact, the only time I ever get blindly furious is when people make assumptions about my family and my childhood (and adulthood, really) — which is something my mother, sisters, and I currently struggle with, with regards to my father. Sounds really crappy of someone to bring up, right? Also, name an “ism” and it probably really angers me, because duh.

The hardest part of being kind to yourself is realizing that nobody can make you feel comfortable about your character and capabilities except for you. So, be your own hero…be your own Batman…Superman…Beatrix KiddoWednesday Addams…whoever, because at the end of the day you have to save yourself.

Also, let’s get some more awesome female superheroes please?

 

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Budget Like A Boss, Beginners Edition

BudgetGraphicI had a visit from my family over this past weekend which was so much fun. I finally got to meet my future brother-in-law and Mr. JD and I love love love him. While they were visiting I came to some realizations amidst all of the fun; I need to start saving for 1) my sister’s wedding in France (her fiance is from the French countryside) and 2) my mom’s inevitable retirement. Also—and somewhat related—I realized that people can be really disgusting, have zero integrity or accountability, and love to make assumptions, but that’s a story for a different day because I wasn’t going to let anything ruin my family being here :).

As I was saying, most people believe that their parents will spend their golden years with a robust retirement, but that’s just not the case for everyone—I wish it was! For example, because of my unaccountable (and estranged) father, my mother has very little savings and she’s past the age where she can technically retire. I want her to be able to stop working when she wants and live comfortably, so this is something I have to start budgeting for. Luckily I have help from my sisters, one is a vice president at a hedge fund and her fiance is an architect—my other sister manages creative content. We will all be in the position to chip in, but I also have to think about my in-laws and my sister-in-law, who has medical needs. Everyone needs help at one point or another, especially in retirement and I want to be able to provide that.

Because I want to be able to take care of my entire family and can only count on limited amounts of help, Mr. JD and I are going to do the best we can to budget more than we normally do.

Here are 5 easy step to start a budget or strengthen the budget you already have:

  1. Get Organized: At work, I have binders for everything and my budget is no different. I happen to like this free printable from Printable Crush—it has almost everything you need to get on track, including: monthly budget, expenses, schedule, and meal planner. The only thing is doesn’t have is something to track your student loans (which can be complicated, but we’ll get to that later).
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  2. Track It On the Go: Everyone has to have extra spending money for clothes, toiletries, etc. This can get out of control really fast so I suggest giving yourself a set amount of personal spending money and then track it using Trello. I make boards for line items in my budget and then as soon as I spend money I make sure I account for it so I know where I am at on a weekly basis. Trello also has an app, so you’re mobile on the go! And the best part? It’s FREE, which means it’s budget friendly.
  3. Pay Down Debt With High Interest: This depends on the debt you have, Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 11.09.34 PMgenerally credit card debt is going to have a higher interest rate than your student loans, but it really just depends. Paying your high-interest loans and lines of credit down will free up money to pay down other debts, make investments, or just save. I created this Student Loan Payment tracker because most of the time people have multiple loans with different interest rates. I always try to round up and pay at least $10-$40 more on each of my student loans every month.
  4. Save For Emergencies: Saving 10% of your paycheck is crucial, this way you will have savings on hand in case you have a astronomical vet bill, insurance premium payment, doctors visit, etc. There is no worse feeling that having your budget be blown out of the water and/or not having cash-on-hand in case of an emergency. Typically, Mr. JD and I save between 10% and 15% of our monthly income, but we will be bumping that up a bit so we can help our family in the future.
  5. Decrease Your Required Payments: This is important because low payments are so attractive when you really want something with a big price tag, but financing isn’t always the answer. Also, there is an opportunity cost that comes with everything. I was talking to my aea2447ce69e0692e17d5c686ad494d0sister over the weekend and she was talking about how she disagrees with people who have upwards of 8 kids (because she saw a gaggle of kids at a Museum we were checking out). Her argument is that, just because you can provide food, clothing, etc. doesn’t mean you can provide the attention and care that each child needs. This is where the term “opportunity cost” comes in, meaning, just because you can afford payments for something doesn’t mean you have the time to invest in it. My best suggestion would be to keep things you have to make payments on down to things that are invaluable to your everyday life…like a car, perhaps a house and maybe not-so-much a giant jet ski or flat screen tv. For me, this means putting some of the big projects that I wanted to do on hold, like an in ground pool. We can certainly afford to do it, however, we don’t have the time to fully enjoy it or take care of it…maybe in the next house we buy! 🙂

I hope these tips put you on the right track to budgeting, it’s hard work and takes time, but I know you can do it—it works well for us, in fact, we’ll send you a post card from Paris next summer. ❤

 

 

Take it, Use it, Rise Above it!

I know it’s a little late for some motivation for this Monday, but here’s something for the rest of the week.

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I nailed a very important appointment I had today, spent time with my husband, and worked out while doing errands (yes, I made a hair appointment while on my elliptical). I feel great and ready to tackle the entire week and while I hope you do as well, I know that Mondays can be tough.

Of course, there are always reasons to feel down, questions the caliber of person you are, and where you are going, especially when people (including yourself) plant those seeds. Use it as motivation, prove them wrong, and get. it. done! xo

Dreamy Houses in Old Line State

I am currently in Maryland on work/mini vacation with Mr. JD. We’ve only been here for a few days and one of them I had a project to finish up and the other Mr. JD had a huge, huge presentation that put him on track for a promotion. Needless to say, we didn’t do the whole “DC” experience. Maybe next time.

We did, however, see some beautiful houses, ugh…the houses! On every corner of the historic district in Rockville, MD (a suburb of DC) was a house of my dreams (with a hefty price tag, homes around here are easily half a million dollars for the same amount of space I have at my current house).

I digress…we’ve all thought about our dream homes, mine “has” the following:

  • Victorian or colonial-style house with a wrap around porch
  • A small pond with ducks
  • A skylight and solar power
  • A Christmas tree window (aka a window that splendidly displays your Christmas tree.)
  • At least an acre of land with a small barn so I can have chickens, goats, and an old horse that is happy to roam around my yard and spend his days chasing my puppies.
  • Willow trees, vegetable gardens, beautiful flowers everywhere.
  • A pool with a small pool house/office
  • A working fireplace
  • A florida porch

Tall order, right? Because my parents lost my childhood home, I always want to make sure I can, above and beyond, afford whatever house Mr. JD and I have. I am not a fan of living beyond or at your means (saving is important!), which is why instead of 1/3 of our monthly income which is the “standard” our house payment is a little shy of 1/5 of our monthly income. I realize this isn’t a reality for some people, but if you can’t afford/don’t absolutely need an extra $20,000 worth of house, why put yourself through the stress? Just settle for less and maximize your space! However, home budgeting/maximizing space is for a different post.

Back to my “tall order”—no matter how much we grind, work, and put in extra time (I wish I got paid overtime as a salaried worker!), we might not ever be able to get my dream house, but I can just look at these dreamy houses instead!

Sugar & Spice & Jedi Freaking Knights

I haven’t had time to post this week because I have a million things going on at work, BUT one of the things we have going on is this huge Comicon-style event (which I am really excited about). With all of the stormtroopers, wookiees, and trekkies walking around, helping us do promotion, my inner sci-fi nerd is geeking out!

Needless to say, when I was a little girl I always wanted to be one of the following over a princess, mermaid, fairy (okay, I kind of wanted to be a fairy or a lost boy—who doesn’t want to fly???) or damsel in distress any day:

  • Wednesday Addams
  • A Jedi Knight
  • The Karate Kid
  • Mia Hamm

The list goes on…so needless so say, I am loving this:

ALL GIRLS ARE

Here’s to all of the little girls and young women who choose to be the hero ❤

Here’s A Freebie For Your Monday!

I know it’s not Freebie Friday, but I needed to share this…mostly because everyone needs a pick-me-up on a Monday. The past week has felt kind of like a game of dodgeball, except I am on a team of 2 (my husband is my favorite teammate) vs 10 and the balls are hiccups in plans, passive aggressiveness, and exhausting amounts of work.

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This week, I need to be incredibly focused. I have a potentially life changing opportunity that I have to be fully prepared for and I can do without curve balls, comments from the peanut gallery, and probably just Facebook all together. It gets super negative, super fast, especially if you are reading political articles.

So, as I prepared for this week I decided to create some Monday Motivation after listening to my second favorite JEW album. I mean, if it’s good enough for Taylor Swift, it’s good enough for us all right?

Click here to open and save/print the poster. Hang it next to your vanity because you do everything you can…and don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say. ❤

Click to Download

Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake!

CORNERIt’s been quite the week so far! I got a really great promotion at work (woohoo Manager of Communications), we are so close to finishing up our living room project, Mr. JD and I just booked a much needed vacation, AND I found the most adorable old dresser at the thrift store that I will turn into a coffee bar (stay tuned for more on that). $9, solid wood—awesome!

To celebrate, I decided to make one of my husband’s favorite cakes, the classic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. I must confess, I snagged the ingredients to make the cake for my mother-in-law, who came to help us peel wallpaper (UGH!), but the recipe makes two, one layer cakes, so it was actually kind of perfect.

This recipe isn’t vegan (you can make it vegan with egg beaters and Earth Fare vegan butter), but it is super easy—I basically follow the boxed ingredients and make it slightly healthier and add a secret ingredient! This recipe is super flavorful and reminds me of summer, it’s also not too sweet and not too rich, which is great because I hate the taste of butter!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large jar of pineapple rings, plus juice
  • 6 maraschino cherries
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. light brown sugar
  • 2 tbs. vanilla
  • 1 box pineapple upside down cake mix
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg with yolk
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • Coconut oil non-stick spray
  • 2 round baking pans

Directions:

IMG_20160412_183317First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get out all of your ingredients. Next, open your can of pineapples and remove two full ring and place them in a bowl; leave the juice and the rest of the pineapple rings in the can. Next, open the bag of cake mix and empty into a large mixing bowl. Add two egg whites and one whole egg to the mix, in addition to 1/3 c. oil. Next, in lieu of water, add 1 c. pineapple juice. This keeps the cake super flavorful and moist, which allows you to cut some of the fat out of the cake (I like to use egg whites whenever possible). Mix the ingredients together with a hand mixer until completely smooth.

Next, in a separate bowl, melt the butter and the brown sugar. While this is in the microwave, spray your baking pans with cooking spray and get ready to arrange your pineapples. You can arrange these however you want, I like to take a knife and cut through the rings, essentially halving the pineapple rings and then arrange them in a pan so they will make a pretty design. Place three maraschino cherries in the center of the pan. Next, remove the butter and sugar mix from the microwave and add the vanilla, stir then empty into the two pans all over the pineapple. Next add the cake batter to the pan, making sure you spread the batter to the edges.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Each pan and oven is different, you’ll know when the cake is finished because it will pass the toothpick test and it will be a golden brown. Set the cakes to cool on a rack for about 40 minutes. Next, you are going to flip over the cooled cake after running a knife around the edges of the pan. Once you have flipped over the cake pan onto a plate give all sides of the pan a little knock with a spoon. This will help the cake loosen and fall from the pan beautifully.

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Last, enjoy with some orange spice tea (my style) or with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream (Mr. JD style). 🙂