Saturday, September 24, 2011

Simplifying = Less Trips to Starbucks = Sadness = Cracking the Salted Caramel Mocha Recipe = HAPPY!

How's that for a title?!

ok, so (as you probably know) we moved into this apartment 4 months ago. Now, just down the street from this apartment (like literally only five minutes walking) is a Starbucks.

4 months ago I weighed 15 pounds less.

4 months ago I spent *maybe* $10 a week at Starbucks, sometimes not anything at all.

Clearly there is some need for simplifying here. One thing I need to simplify is my diet. Another thing I need to simplify here is my wallet. Recognizing these needs, I made a few adjustments. First, I went back on my unofficial weight-watchers diet this week, which includes tracking all of my calories consumed and burned. (I do this at! If you're a member there, look me up!) I did really, really, REALLY good. So did the husband. :) The next thing we did was not go to Starbucks. Like, not a single time this week. Not at all. Not even when, as I was driving past it, I could hear the espresso beans calling my name in sweet harmony.

Being a true fan of Starbucks, and really just all things espresso, we have our own stash of ground (decaf) espresso from the big old evil coffee chain (HELLO ~ you get a free tall drink with every coffee bean purchase!) Naturally, we're going through withdraw. We've had homemade frap's this week, and then tonight I really wanted a Salted Caramel Mocha. I have cracked the recipe. AND, if I dare say it, I think I may have made the recipe better. *GASP*

Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha
This recipe serves 2, but can be easily modified to serve 1

What You'll Need...
*2-4 Shots of brewed espresso (I use decaf because it would be bad if I drank real espresso in the quantities that I do!)
*4 tbs of Caramel Coffee Syrup (I use Torani, Sugar Free - available at Kroger in the coffee aisle)
*2 cups fat free skim milk
*2 packages of hot chocolate mix, or two servings of homemade hot chocolate
*Sea Salt

What You'll Do...
*While brewing espresso, heat Milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat, wisking constantly.
*Wisk the cocoa mix into the milk, while continuing to heat. For extra salty flavor, add a small dash of table salt to the cocoa/milk mix. Once thoroughly combined, remove from heat.
*Pour 2 tbs. of the caramel coffee syrup in the bottom of each coffee/latte mug. Add espresso (I use two shots, you could use one.) Evenly split cocoa/milk mix (about 1 cup) to mug and stir.
*Top with a dash of sea salt, and voila!

If your espresso machine has a frothing device, you could use that and add the cocoa mix to the espresso.

You could always add whipped cream, if you'd like, and a swirl of thick caramel sauce. I did it this way though, keeping it low cal/low fat. You can also use reduced fat or fat free hot cocoa mix.

If you give the recipe a shot, I'd love to hear from you! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Nearly four months later...

Here it is! The picture proof that I actually did complete my closet project! Two weeks ago I vowed that we would not do anything over that weekend until the closets were done - and we stuck to it. Our biggest need was to clean out our storage closet, so that we could store things in it! As you may remember from earlier posts our storage closet started out looking like this, evolved into this, but I am proud to say that it now looks like this...

Now, I have to admit, a *few* things have made their way to the closet since it's completion (a baby car seat for the little one I watch during the week, and a couple of school computers that are awaiting UPS to take them back to Connections Academy) but it still pretty much looks like this. And I think that is something to brag about, considering it's previous state. Many things were given away, thrown away, and so what you see here is actually a combination of what we kept from in this closet AND from the master bedroom closet, and even a few things that I had jammed into the front coat closet. All the things I need access to are easily in front, and all the things that we really are just storing until we have a bigger space are toward the back. Success!

On to the master bedroom closet. I think I purposely didn't share my most recent pic of the master bedroom closet before the clean out, but let's just say I couldn't walk into it - which totally made having a walk-in closet pointless! This, this, and this show what the master closet was early in our move in process. This is the master closet now...

It looks a little sloppy here, a few of the boxes shoved in the back there still need to be gone through, and the one toward the front has a new home in the husband's church office. Other than that though, that side of the closet is finished! Now on the other side, we moved all the games that were hidden in the back of the storage closet and it is actually now a very functional space! See...

Wanna see some of the things we decided to give away? (AND I did actually drop them off at Goodwill within days of this weekend closet project!)
(the give away stuff-minus the cooler)

Of course there was a garbage pile, but this is honestly only half of it...

So, yes, we're feeling much better about our storage closet these days. Every single thing now has a place in our smaller space, and that makes me feel so much better about our downsizing.

Now, on to some shoe related news :) remember when I shared my obsession for shoes? Well, while cleaning things and such I found the match to one of my very favorite shoes! Once again, swoon with me if you will...

Aren't they just gorgeous? In other shoe news, I found a replacement for my beloved. They aren't everything to me that the other shoes were, but they'll do...

And with that, I do believe I'll wrap up this post, this part of simplifying my life, and move on to newer (and more exciting???) things!

Any suggestions on what to simplify next?

Friday, September 16, 2011


Not much to report this week on the food waste front - because I have none! Of course, when considering what I shared last week, it would be pretty bad if I did.

Especially since we forgot to pull that stuff out of the fridge when the husband took out the garbage that day...
and the next day...
and the day after that.

Yeah, it took a while to take it out. BUT we did take it out!

I'll be back in a day or two (or so I hope) with a post on just how gorgeous my closets are! Dare I say that we're pretty much settled? Which leaves me wondering, what simplifying project can I tackle next?!

Friday, September 9, 2011

oh dear...

~*~*~ WARNING! Incoherent babbling possible. I'm exhausted! ~*~*~

I haven't done one of these in a while.
Of course, I haven't been consistent in my blogging in a while.
And, actually, I haven't been much of a food waster for a while.
However, that has all changed this morning.

My pictures are rated PG this morning, because I'm exhausted (slight bout of insomnia last night) and really, I don't think I could handle looking closely at this food today! Honestly, I'm not even throwing this junk away right now. Our apartment complex only has one ginormous trash compactor, located at the front of the complex, and I'm not walking this stuff up there! I won't throw it away, because what if it stinks up the laundry room? (That's where the garbage can is.) So, I'm hoping the public pictures of the garbage in my fridge will motivate me to dump it all in the garbage when the husband takes the trash out this evening.

Without further ado, my waste...

So, from top to bottom we have... some egg yolks, homemade tomato sauce,  green beans, chili sauce??? (it's better to let it remain a mystery!), a package of lunchmeat turkey, some strawberries, which will be featured further below. Then toward the front we have a bowl of whole wheat spaghetti, a package of lunchmeat ham. And there's that bottle of water in there, too, which is left from one of the kids from a few weeks ago when someone bought it for them (I pretty much refuse to buy them bottled water ~ can you guess why?!) Now, it's quite possible the lunchmeat could be edible, but I'm pretty cautious when it comes to those kinds of foods and I've decided it's best to assume the worst in those foods today.

Strawberries. They really were. Let's take a moment to be thankful for the condensation built up on the plastic wrap...

Lastly, as far as pics are concerned anyway, we have this unfinished homemade mocha frap, which has been sitting in my freezer for a few days and I'm guessing would taste pretty much awful at this point (and besides, I just sent the husband over to Starbucks for a pumpkin latte, so who needs homemade mochas this morning? Not this girl!)

A picture that did not make the cut ~ and trust me, you're glad it didn't! ~ would be of the two zucchini sitting in the drawer of my refrigerator. I'm really disappointed in myself for letting them go bad. I heart zucchini. :(

ok, I think that should do it for now. I'll be back to update our labor days ~ a little preview: I cleaned and conquered!!!

Happy Friday!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Days - pt. 2

I told you I was serious.

Progress is creeping along. Due to the ill positioning of various boxes and objects, I am, no joke, confined to either my bedroom or the storage closet. I have successfully located AND cleaned off the game shelf, moved it on top of the new (to us) book shelf in our master closet. The husband is stocking said book shelf with books - and since that is really a one person job, and I've no where to go, I figured now is a good time to update with more incriminating pictures.

Now, just to make it clear, I actually do keep a fairly clean home. I know that that truth may not be evident in my past postings. I thrive on cleanliness and organization, I really do. This picture was taken just a few days ago at the start of another day of school. Imagine how the cluttered closets have been ruining my ever cheerful disposition! 

Just a peek of what my master closet spewed out into the bedroom...

The beginnings of organization. I can just hear the heavens rejoicing!

I will return with a final update soon!

Labor Days

Seriously. I thought this blog would keep me accountable to what I need to accomplish, but I seem to avoid it as much as I do my closets. Not good, people. Not good at all.

Yes, yes, I'm still alive. Alive, breathing, walking upright, spending (countless) hours in front of this very screen I look at as I type this out - but no time on this blog.

Somebody find a stick and poke me with it. I mean, WAKE UP LADY!!! You have far too much that must be done to be doing nothing about it.

le sigh

So what have I been up to? Well...
*My boy started football. He practices a lot, and his games are weekly. He's really not too bad (if I do say so myself) and he loves it. So that keeps us busy.
*I've picked up an extra day babysitting. You know, getting your baby fix via someone elses baby is genius.
*I've been diligent in my time with God. I'm not bragging, just sayin' that what may have been lacking at times is growing in me again. I love Him so much, how can I not spend more time with Him each day?
*Two of my four kiddos had August birthdays, so we had some nice celebrations.
*We (those in the church plant) participated in our first community outreach as a "church" ~ and it was REALLY great to get out into the community and bless people with a cool treat on hot summer night!
*I've gotten back into my workout routine.
*We started another home schooling year. That in and of itself is time consuming!
*I've had car trouble (HUGE SIGH) and just got my van back today from it's second week in the shop this summer. We've put about $700 into that thing this summer ~ please God, let that be enough for now. (Not to mention that the husbands car will be dropped off next week for a brake job... it just never ends I tell ya!) Having car trouble meant HAVING to clean out both vehicles though - which means...
*The husbands car is no longer stuffed full of things from our storage unit! YAY!!!

ok, enough excuses. I'm honestly back on here tonight to share something exciting... are you ready???

Labor Day Weekend = Cleaning out the closets!!!!
It really does!
In fact, I got a head start on the work tonight. I've went through ALL of E & E's drawers and closets, pulling out the clothes they've outgrown, throwing out the undesirable socks and undies (you know how it goes), and restocking their drawers and hangers from our hand-me-down stockpiles (praise be to God for older siblings and cousins!) I have one box of girl clothes in great shape for a friend, one bag of boy clothes in great shape for my nephews, and one bag of clothes ready to make a trip to either Goodwill or The Salvation Army (whichever I happen to take everything once we're done this weekend. I haven't decided yet.)
I'm feeling accomplished and I'm feeling motivated. No need to poke me with that stick after all. The husband and I are on a mission now (well, I'm on a mission, and I'm dragging him with me!) We will get through our closet, the storage closet, and the older girls closet this weekend. We really, really will!

Now, just to keep myself feeling it necessary to make my way back here in a timely manner and share my progress once the weekend is over, I have decided to thoroughly embarrass myself. You remember how that game shelf looked in that storage closet after we had "organized" it?

er... wait. No, you don't know about that. Because I kind of forgot to post the pics here when I did that. Oops. I really am a crappy blogger.

Ok, well this is what I'm talking about...

See?! Nice, clean, semi-organized.

But, this is what happened to it...

I mean, where did that shelf of games even go? I know it's back there somewhere!

And gosh... no wonder I avoid this blog. I'm feeling all embarrassed now. Yuck.

Alrighty. I think that's enough sharing for now. I'm going in... if you don't hear from me within a week, call the police! And yes, I realize that my recent lack of blogging would make you reluctant to react so quickly - I mean surely you should give me at least a month to return victoriously BUT SERIOUSLY!!! Do you not see that disaster? I must redeem myself, quickly!