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My Week in Food

June 30, 2014
Not going to lie, I've been having a pretty awesome summer so far!  Since I'm not working and my friend has the summer off, we have been cooking together.  This week the best thing we made was this turkey and spinach lasagna, which was incredibly tasty.  We even had to improvise by using extra spinach because we couldn't find any fresh basil at the store, but it still turned out great.  It's so nice having the extra time to cook!  I feel so much healthier when I eat a meal using mostly fresh ingredients.  Of course, I still love my sweets and did make some heath bar coffee cake for my friends, who had never tried it before.  It was gone within two days, so I guess that means they liked it.  My roommate also cooked a meal for my friend and I.  He prepared potatoes, green beans and bacon, rice, and fried cabbage.  I'd never had fried cabbage before that wasn't fried kimchi, but it was fabulous!   

Another cool thing about cooking here is that my friends have a Chop Wizard and a Nutri Bullet, which also means that now I have a Chop Wizard and a Nutri Bullet.  :)  I have been making a lot of healthy fruit smoothies.  Also, my roommate has a vegetable garden and some of the veggies are now turning ripe.  He planted tomatoes, snap peas, onions, and peppers, and a few of those things have already ended up in the meals that we've eaten.  It's safe to say that my summer is off to a delicious start.  

Speaking of all things delicious, my friends and I headed to Savannah to try out this restaurant called Green Truck Pub, which was suggested my friend's aunt.  His aunt lost over a hundred pounds and tried out the pub because she had heard about their veggie burgers.  Having been vegetarian myself for three and a half years, I appreciated that any burger on the menu could be substituted with a veggie burger.  When my friend's aunt went to Green Truck last week, Paula Deen was there eating and she got to meet her.  It wasn't an event or anything like that--Paula just likes to eat there.  I brought that up to our waitress and she said that Paula visited often and would also try to go back into their kitchen which isn't allowed, haha!

Green Truck Pub has won all sorts of awards over the years including Connect Savannah's Best Gourmet Burger, Best Veggie Burger, and Best Overall Restaurant to name a few.  Despite all the awards, the prices are still pretty reasonable with burgers ranging in price from $7 to $12.50.  The price includes your choice of either fries or coleslaw.   I opted for the "El Jefe" burger, which was topped with cheddar cheese, avocados, black bean and corn salsa, and some jalepenos as well as lettuce, onion, and tomato.  Don't judge, but I ate THE WHOLE THING, and my two friends both devoured their burgers, too.  We gave the place six out of six thumbs up.  If you ever get a chance to visit Savannah and are in the mood for a burger, I highly recommend Green Truck Pub.  

Another food experience I had this week was trying Bojangles for the first time.  This fast food chain is all over the South, and my sister's husband was in shock when I told him I hadn't ever tried their food. My friend and I went through the drive-thru for breakfast, and I got a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit which was similar to the ones at McDonald's except I thought it was a lot saltier.  I'll have to go back one day and try it for lunch, just because I am curious!

Another food related highlight was that my friend's former professor, John, invited us to meet him at the Gryphon Tea Room in downtown Savannah.  John told us that the tea room used to be a pharmacy, and that he would go there as a child and order cherry cokes.  He told us that the workers at the pharmacy used to make the Cherry Cokes in a special way.  They used to pour the Coke, take a few cherries, mash them up with their hands, and then add them into the coke.  Side note: John offered to give us a tour of Savannah and said that when he retires from being a dean that he would like to be a tour guide!  We are going to take him up on his offer and think that he would be an interesting guide.

The inside of the tea room is full of wooden bookshelves, has a mortar and pestle design (stained glass) running along the wall, and has a beautiful Gothic chandelier.  The tea room is now run by Savannah College of Art & Design and our waitress was a SCAD student who was very down-to-earth and polite.  What I liked the most about the tea room is that the waitress offered to pour our tea for us, we were provided with actual sugar cubes and honey to sweeten our tea, and that our snacks were brought out on a three tiered stand, which reminded me of having tea in South Africa!  John told us that the bottom tier should consist of savory snacks like finger sandwiches and that the snacks should get increasingly sweeter with every level.  We were served scones for our second tier and the top tier consisted of sugary pastries and desserts.   

I chose the Indian Spice Chai tea.

I'm so glad that I got to experience having tea @ the Gryphon and now I have somewhere neat to take my friends who come and visit me in Savannah! 

What was the best meal you've had all week?

Our co-host this week is Becca from Becoming Adorrable!

You can follow Becca here

Here are the rules to the link up:

1) Follow your hosts Rachael @ The Rachael Way and Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie as well as our co-host Becca @ Becoming Adorrable.
2) Share what you have been up to this past week and link your post up with us every Monday.
3) Hop around and comment on at least two other people's posts. 

4) Link your post back to us in some way. We have a cute button for you to grab. :)
5) Have fun reading about how other bloggers spent their week!

Ameliorer la Vie

My Summer Goals

June 26, 2014

* Apply for a South Carolina teaching license.
* Find a job.
* Lose 10 pounds.
* I own a lot of dresses and strappy sandals that I just didn't get a whole lot of wear out of in Ohio.  I want to change that since it will stay nice and hot here in Georgia all summer.
* Go to Charleston.
* Go to the beach at Hilton Head.
* Try boiled peanuts from a roadside stand.
* Go thrift shopping in Savannah.
* Finish reading The Book Thief.  (Yes, I started it MONTHS ago.  For some reason I just put it down for a loooong time and haven't finished it.  I started reading it by the pool, but it just seemed too dark to read on a nice, sunny day.  I guess I'd rather read In Touch or blogs by the pool!)  
* Read The Fault in Our Stars, Gone Girl, and Game of Thrones.
* Go out to eat at Sweet Potatoes.  I read that this restaurant serves typical Southern comfort food and it was featured on Man vs. Food for having the best banana pudding!  
* Buy new bedroom furniture.  When I moved, I left all my old stuff behind because I wanted to start fresh and pick up a whole new bedroom set from Ikea.  I could do that now, but I just feel too guilty spending that kind of cash without a job lined up, so right now I'm living out of a suitcase.
* Go out for drinks one night in downtown Savannah.  I haven't had a night out on the town in ages.  Ideally, I'd go out one night to celebrate finding a job. :)
* Check out this old movie theater that was recently renovated.  I guess it only has one screen and it's supposed to be really nice inside.  

What's your plan for the summer?

What I Have in Common with a Kindergartner

June 25, 2014
Today I'll be confessing some ways in which I'm just like a kindergartner.  People often suggest that I take a job in 4th or 5th grade if those types of jobs are available and ones in the early grades are not.  I know that my heart lies with the young kids in kindergarten through second grade, though.  Maybe part of the reason is because I have a lot in common with the students I teach!

*I like to color, as do the majority of kindergarten kids.  I can let my mind wander and just relax when I do it.  Usually I'm coloring a decoration for the classroom or an example of a craft that the kids can look to as they make their own, and since I'm attempting to find a teaching job there will likely be lots of coloring in my future. :)

* Rest time!  When I have to wake up really early, I find myself very sluggish right after lunch, which is when the kids at the school I worked for last year had their rest time.  On my days off, if I wake up early and am feeling tired halfway through the day, a short rest always makes me feel more refreshed.  When I was teaching I liked rest time, because it was a quiet time to monitor students' individual progress and to assess students' one at a time.

* I prefer shoes that don't tie.  All of my favorite shoes are flats with no laces or sandals with straps.

* I get excited over the little things!  I love how the kids get SO excited over little treats or fun units.  On the last day of school this year, the PTO provided a lunch for the kids and they got to eat it in their classroom with me instead of in the cafeteria.  When the students got to do that they said things like, "This is the best day ever!" or "This is so cool.  We never got to eat lunch in our OWN classroom before!"  I, too, get unusually pumped about things that might not be that exciting to other people like when I get a gift from a swap in the mail or get to try out a new restaurant.

* I thoroughly enjoyed Frozen and am not sick of it.  The kids were so obsessed with that movie, that some teachers asked them to stop singing the songs.  I didn't mind it at all when the kids sang them, probably because the songs were also stuck in my head!

* Snacking.  I usually eat regular meals, but I sometimes get light-headed or grouchy between meals if I don't snack.  I think there should be an allotted time for students to snack in every grade.  (Hello?  Hierarchy of needs!) Sadly, it is usually only done with the very young kids.

Me with some of my Korean kindergarten students.  You can see some of the decorations I colored in the background. :)  Also, yes, the parents went all out for their kid's birthday.  This pic was from a double birthday party since two of my students shared the same b-day.

* I always look forward to summer vacation.  Like the students, I work really hard and we all deserve some time for rest and relaxation.

* Corny jokes.  I find them to be really funny and even make up a few myself.

Co-worker: "I'm so glad there are no gnats here like the last place we worked."
Me: "Yeah, that would be gnat-sty."

I'm always up for a good knock-knock joke, especially if the students made it up themselves.

* Tattling.  Tattling can get out of control in kindergarten.  I'll admit it...I could be a bit of a tattle tale when I worked at the movies.  It's just that certain employees were told over and over AND OVER again to follow the company rules.  One of the rules was to not use courtesy cups behind the stand, yet I often found the workers back there eating popcorn out of them or drinking out of them instead of waiting on customers.  Everyone has their pet peeves, and that was one of mine!  It's because the workers were allowed to drink however much they wanted any time during their shift, as long as they brought their own cups and had them in this other room that was out of the customers' view.  I get that they would get hungry on their shifts, and I told them I didn't care if they ate the popcorn, as long as they went to the break room, but they would still be back there eating popcorn.  I would vent about this to my boss because it just looked so unprofessional!

* I like stickers and stamps!  It is so much fun shopping for them and I can't wait to start loading my students' papers up with stickers and stamps if they deserve them.

* I still am a Hello Kitty fan and probably always will be.

In what ways are you like a kid?

**Linking up with Kathy today for Confessions.

Why Do I Resist Technology?

June 24, 2014
I'm not the type of gal that you will see going all gaga over the latest I-Phone.  In fact, when there is something new that "everyone" has, I am usually very late to the game.  I've always been this way.  I remember when I was in middle school and albums were being released as CD's instead of on cassette tapes and my friend re-bought all of her favorite albums so that she could have them in CD form.  I thought to myself, "Why would she do that?  She already has all those songs on tape.  What a waste of money!"  I remember not liking CD's at first because they were more expensive than tapes, so I even continued to buy tapes for awhile.  Of course, I finally hopped on the CD train, but it took me a longer than average time to be convinced that I preferred them!  The same thing was the case with the flat screen t.v.'s.  I judged my boyfriend, who is a very frugal person, for spending so much on a flat screen.  My boyfriend is someone who went on a rant about laundry detergent being a huge rip off, and he wanted us to start making our own detergent to save money.  I was kind of annoyed that he was saying detergent was so pricey but he was willing to spend so much money on a t.v.  After watching shows and movies on the flat screen (that he has had for years) and then going back and watching a regular t.v., I now think that I would never want to watch t.v. on anything but a flat screen.  

When it comes to social media, I'm the same way and have always been hesitant about joining the various social media platforms.

MySpace: I only reluctantly joined that because the guy I was into at the time had an account and I wanted to see where he would place me and if I made is "top friends."  Ha! 

Twitter: I just made an account only because I started this blog and still don't have a personal Twitter account that my real life friends know about.

Facebook:  In 2007 when I was teaching in Korea, my friend Leann kept bugging me about joining Facebook.  I asked her why I would ever do that when I had a perfectly fine (and now deleted) MySpace account.  One night we went out for a St. Paddy's Day bash and she told me that she would be the photographer for the night and not to worry about taking pictures because she would e-mail them all to me.  She put them all up on Facebook, and told me if I wanted them I had to join Facebook.  She laughed and admitted she tricked me into joining!  I wonder how long it would have taken me to make a Facebook if it weren't for Leann's antics!

Some of the pics from that night:

Instagram: This is the latest one that people have been telling me I should join.  Truthfully, I signed up a couple of years ago, but just assumed that my profile would be automatically private like Facebook until I added people as friends.  I posted a couple of pictures and got some likes on them and it freaked me out because I didn't know that the account is public by default.  Also, the app would make my phone lag, so I just didn't bother with it, but since then I've gotten a new phone and have joined Instagram!  If you want to follow me, click here!

Here are some of my Instagram pics from the week so far:

Now keep in mind I'm just getting started with this...so my pics might not be that cutesy at first (or maybe ever, haha.) 

Something else that I didn't have for a long time when everyone else had one was a cell phone!  I only got a cell phone when I was 20 because I had to due to the fact that the French dorms I was living in did not have landlines.  It took me a few more years before I finally bought one when I came back to the States.  I did not like the idea of someone being able to contact me at all times because I don't really like to talk on the phone that much.  Now I love having a cell phone because I talk on the phone LESS and can just text! :)  I never even had a Smartphone until about three years ago, and of course I just had an Android.  When I arrived in Georgia earlier in the week, I was unable to use my phone because there was no available service through my provider.  Since I had to switch providers, I had to also buy a new phone, so I figured I would go ahead and FINALLY get an I-Phone since they were on sale.  As you may have predicted, I did not go for the latest phone, but bought the 4S.  After a day of using the I-Phone I knew I was hooked, but I really only got the phone because I was forced into buying a new one, anyway.  

I don't know why I am skeptical of new technology at first.  I guess maybe I just like others to test it out so I can read reviews.  I like to get feedback from my friends who own the products, and that way I don't have to waste my own money on items that many seem to not be too fond of.  I usually look into products that I'm interested in for awhile before I buy them so that I'll have more of an idea of whether or not the product might be right for me.

How are you in terms of technology?  Are there any forms of social media that you just don't think you'll ever get into?  What is a new, innovative product that you would like to have?

I'm in Love...

June 23, 2014
I haven't even been living near Savannah for a full week and I already know that I'm in love.  I've been in enamored since I initially laid eyes on this city a few years ago when I visited it for the first time. Sometimes you just know!  The city has a bunch of eclectic people, there are plenty of attractions, and it's full of unique, locally owned restaurants and shops.  The historic downtown has so many gorgeous buildings that are well maintained.  The layout of Savannah is that of a grid, so there are plenty of aesthetically pleasing squares in between many of the streets.  Plus, there is always excitement in the air, as tourists come from all over the world to see the city!

I've gone into the downtown three times so far this week, and I can't wait to go back and explore some more.  It's fun just to stroll around and check out the shops or to people watch.  One day we checked out Civvies, which sells recycled clothing.  We also stopped at the Paris Market, a store that carries everything from stationery to decorative items for the home to gifts for babies.  On Saturday, my friend Everett and I walked around town, stopped and got some iced mochas, and then went down to River Street.  We stopped at Savannah Bee Company, which sells all sorts of honey and bath and body products made with honey.  There is even a full honey bar so customers can try the different flavors available.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the weekend:

This week I also hung out with my roommates...We walked around a lake for some exercise, cooked a dinner of fish tacos and potato salad together, stopped for some fro-yo, went swimming at Everett's aunt's pool, and attended a fish fry.  

Everything would be great if the schools around here would start posting jobs I could apply to so that I know I'm able to stay!

Have you ever gone to Savannah?  What city would you live in if you could live anywhere?

Here are the rules to the link up:

1) Follow your hosts Rachael @ The Rachael Way and Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie.
2) Share what you have been up to this past week and link your post up with us every Monday.
3) Hop around and comment on at least two other people's posts. 

4) Link your post back to us in some way. We have a cute button for you to grab. :)
5) Have fun reading about how other bloggers spent their week!

Ameliorer la Vie

Roommates: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

June 19, 2014
When it comes to having roommates or sharing an apartment, I lived with about 20 different people throughout my college and adult life. I've lived with both females and males and also with people from different parts of the world like Hong Kong and Canada. Most of them were my age, but one was 7 years younger and at one point I lived with a man in his 60's. That sounds totally creepy, but he was actually a really cool guy and one of the best roommates I ever had. (He was a friend of a friend who was renting a room out of his BEAUTIFUL home that was featured on t.v. and was in the Parade of Homes!  It was one of the better places that I've lived in!) I've also lived with friends that I knew ahead of time, but I've also had to live with strangers. I was put in a situation where I had to find a roommate fast, and even had to meet someone off of Craig's List, which I would probably never do again. Most of my experiences living with others have been just fine, but the last roommate I had was so terrible that it made shudder at the thought of having a roommate again.  My most recent roommate and some other roommates I had made me think that living with others was something I should leave behind in my 20's.  Why?  Well, I once had a roommate who:

*bought a bunny one day without talking it over with me or my other roommate.
*chewed tobacco and then would spit it in the kitchen sink with our dishes.
* was soooo needy and would be knocking at my door "to hang out" every few minutes.
* had a boyfriend that lived with us.  When I mean lived with us, I mean that he stayed over every single night, yet he paid nothing in rent.  
* would binge eat food that did not belong to her.  She once ate 26 of my other roommate's cookies, ha!
*lost a lot of hair in the shower, which is fine except for that instead of throwing it away, she would wad it into a ball and "paste" it on the shower wall!!  (Kid you not!)
* had a hedgehog that hated and hissed at all girls, and it lived with four of them!

Of course there are far worse things that some roommates I had did, but I'll leave those to your imagination!  When my friend Everett approached me about moving into his place for a bit, I was hesitant because of the fact that I would, once again, have two roommates.  Not of all of my roommate experiences have been bad, and I certainly loved living with several of my roommates, but there's always a risk involved that one might not be compatible with the people they live with.  I have, on the other hand, always enjoyed living alone, so I had to give this some careful consideration.  In the end, I decided to go for it because the good outweighed the bad.

Here are some benefits to living with two of my guy friends:

*I'll never not be in good company.
*These guys are ones that I have known well for years and are not just going to turn into raging psychos (at least I hope not!!)
* They have the cutest dachshund, and I've always wanted a dog, but never could growing up and then it wasn't possible because I was traveling too much and too busy with grad school.  This will be a good opportunity to test the waters and see how I like it, yet not actually be committed in any way or have to deal with the expenses that come along with a pet.
* I won't be scared since two guys will be around.  Living by myself can sometimes be creepy...especially after watching a scary movie.
* One of the guys was born and raised in the Savannah area and is more than willing to show me around.
* One of them likes to cook!  I wouldn't mind doing some sampling! :)
* Everett is a really talented pianist who will fill the room with beautiful music.  
* And, of course, our bills will be a whole lot cheaper because the three of us will be splitting them.  Since I don't have a job lined up, this is surely in my best interest. 

The two pals I'm sharing a place with

One of my closest friends who is a former roommate of mine

What have been your best and worst experiences with roommates?  

Greetings from the South!

June 16, 2014
Some of you guys may remember when I posted about wanting to move to Savannah.  Well, I weighed my options and decided that it was the best choice for me.  I'm so excited about this fresh start in a city that has plenty to offer in terms of entertainment compared to the small town I was living in.  On top of that, it's  close to the beach...not to mention that I won't have to deal with another Ohio winter!  Now, I am a little nervous because I did quit my job, but I think that this was a risk worth taking for my future happiness!  So, last week when I mentioned how I needed a break from blogging it was because I had to have a serious talk with my boyfriend about this move and I needed time to pack.

Packing was crazy...I ended up getting rid of 1/3 of all of my stuff because I'm going from living in a three bedroom house to a small, two bedroom apartment with roommates.  I still ended up with quite the collection of boxes, but my plan is to leave those in Ohio until I score a job.  Then I'll fly back to Ohio, rent a U-Haul, and drive back down to Savannah.  My dad has kindly already offered to help me with this process.  (Shout out to Dad's & pretend I said something clever/mushy about Father's Day here.)

In between all of the moving preparations, I did find the time to hang out with a few close friends one last time.  They treated me to dinner, gave me a cupcake from my favorite bakery, and then we saw The Fault in Our Stars.  Definitely bring the tissues if you go and see it.  At one point, I swear that the majority of everyone in the whole theater was crying. I could tell by all the sniffling I heard!  I left the movie feeling more inspired than ever to live life to the fullest!

It was sad saying goodbye to my friends, but not too sad because I know we'll always be in touch.  The three friends I hung out with that night and I were already friends for over 15 years, so I know that I don't have anything to worry about.  I'll still be back to visit Ohio and they promised to come and see me in Savannah once I get settled.  The good news is that I'll actually be closer to one of my best childhood friends!  She messaged me on Facebook and told me that she was living in Atlanta, which took me by surprise because I had visited her in Philly a few years back.  She told me that she really wanted to meet when I move down, which is more than okay with me.  :)

I'm actually in the process of my move right now.  I left on Saturday and drove to Pennsylvania and spent the night at my grandparents' house.  On Sunday I arrived to North Carolina and am staying with my sister for a day and a half before I finally finish the last leg of my trip.  When I arrived on Sunday evening, my sister, her husband, and I had a lovely dinner on the rooftop of a restaurant called Captain Ratty's, which is one of her husband's favorite restaurants in town.

I should arrive in Savannah on Tuesday.  I'm going to live with my best friend for awhile until I find a job and whatnot, and he already has all of these fun plans laid out for us.  I think the first thing he wants to do is to take me to the beaches at Hilton Head, which is just 40 minutes away from where he lives.  No arguments here!

Did you ever quit your job without having anything definite lined up for the future?  

Here are the rules to the link up:

1) Follow your hosts Rachael @ The Rachael Way and Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie as well as our co-host Allison @ Because I Said So.
2) Share what you have been up to this past week and link your post up with us every Monday.
3) Hop around and comment on at least two other people's posts. 

4) Link your post back to us in some way. We have a cute button for you to grab. :)
5) Have fun reading about how other bloggers spent their week!

Ameliorer la Vie

Weekly Wrap Up + A Blogging Break

June 9, 2014
Happy Monday!  I hope that last week was a great week for everyone.  This week was a little different since it was the first week in a loooong time that I did not substitute teach!  I still worked at the movies, but I felt like I finally had ample time off.  Even though I worked the weekend, I had a few days off throughout the week, so that was a treat that I'm not used to.

On Friday I drove to my parents' house and took my mom out to eat for her Mother's Day gift, which is what she told me she wanted.  We went to a local diner that she loves.  I'd never been to that location, but we both had a great meal.  My mom kept thanking me saying that she enjoyed the company and the food.  Now I just have to think of a Father's Day gift for my dad since that is right around the corner.

Also, I had my last day of work at the movies...I think.  I told my boss not to put me on the schedule until further notice.  "Further notice" hopefully translates into never, and I was upfront with him about that, although he told me that of course he wants me to stay.  I only told one floor staff member that I'm leaving and just a couple of the managers.   I just wanted to keep everything very low key, though I did tell one of my best work pals that we had to get in a picture together to commemorate our time working together (ignore ugly background--we aren't allowed to have our phones on the floor in front of customers.)

I was busy this past week taking care of some stuff that I don't really want to blog about at this time.  I started thinking about it and decided that I need to take a blogging break.  I have ideas for posts, but I just have too much going on in my personal life right now to regularly schedule three or more posts a week.  I'll be back every Monday for Weekly Wrap Up, but for the next two weeks, I probably won't be around here much.  I still love blogging as a hobby, but right now I just have to put it on the back burner while I take care of more important things.  Sorry to be ambiguous, but I'll likely explain everything in a future post.  What's your take on blogging breaks?  Have you ever gone on one?

Here are the rules to the link up:

1) Follow your hosts Rachael @ The Rachael Way and Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie as well as our co-host Allison @ Because I Said So.
2) Share what you have been up to this past week and link your post up with us every Monday.
3) Hop around and comment on at least two other people's posts. 

4) Link your post back to us in some way. We have a cute button for you to grab. :)
5) Have fun reading about how other bloggers spent their week!

Ameliorer la Vie

This week our fabulous co-host is Allison from Because I Said So!

Link up here!

5 Meal Preparation Tips

June 6, 2014
When I visited my sister Denise in North Carolina, I was really impressed with her meal planning skills!  She had every single meal that we were to eat typed onto a schedule that she made.  The meals could be moved around, and of course she had some extra meals in mind just in case.  When I arrived, she had some meals ready to go and some were prepped so that we just had to follow a few more steps in order to have a delicious lunch or dinner.  I was amazed that she got everything she needed for the week in just one visit to the grocery store.  I am THE WORST with that!  I don't know how many times I've gone to get groceries, only to come home to realize that I forgot an essential ingredient to a recipe.  I told Denise that I couldn't believe how organized she was told her that I needed all the help I could get and that I might even write a post about this.  She laughed at me and told me that most all of her tips are just common sense, and I guess they are when you think about them, but they have really helped me out so far!

Just one of the meals my sister had planned for us during my stay

1) Create a Google doc for grocery shopping.  I saw my sister's document, and it's genius.  She has everything divided into sections like dairy, meat, produce, etc.  That way, when she shops she can just hit one section of the grocery store and pick up everything she needs.  She also sticks to her list, which prevents her from picking up a bunch of items she doesn't need.  When I would shop, I would just write down a random list and find myself walking back and forth and forgetting items altogether.  Sometimes I would just go to the store with no meal plan in mind whatsoever.  I would leave the store with several packages of processed junk and frozen meals, yuck.  Why would I do that to myself?

As my sister plans a meal, she will look at the ingredients and type them onto her list so that she doesn't forget anything, so that's what I've started to do, too.  The best part is that she saves the list so that all of the staples she needs to buy every week are already on there (milk, bread, etc.) Her suggestion made grocery shopping so much easier for me!  

2) Invest in a Chop Wizard.  My sister swears by this thing and said that it saves her so much time.  A Chop Wizard is on my wishlist because chopping and slicing up veggies is not a task that I find entertaining.  During my short stay, I saw her use her Chop Wizard several times for hamburger toppings, for veggies that were to be cooked in our omelets, and for the pico de gallo she made.  Personally, I feel like sometimes it is a hassle to cut up and slice fresh veggies, so I think that if I bought this, I would be more inclined to prepare meals with fresh produce.

Image courtesy of Bed, Bath, and Beyond

3) Make larger quantities and save the leftovers.  Denise told me that some nights she just doesn't feel like cooking, so she will make extra food the day before or earlier in the week, and then her and her husband will just have the leftovers for another meal.  Of course I have had leftovers from a recipe--who hasn't?  However, I don't think I've ever intentionally made a lot extra in order to get myself out of cooking another meal or two.    Now that she told me this it just seems so obvious, but this was something I was not doing before our little chat!

4) Plan accordingly so that items do not go to waste.  Sometimes my sister will have to change her weekly menu around because she'll notice that an item might be expiring soon.  Her husband says that he takes a lot of the credit for this one and that ever since they were more aware of this issue that they have saved a lot of money.  I've definitely done this before...especially with avocados.  I'll put off making guacamole and then by the time I'm ready to make it, my avocados will be bad, which is just plain wasteful and is throwing money down the drain!

5) Put together crock pot recipes and freeze them.  When Denise doesn't feel like spending a lot of time cooking or when she knows she will have to work over, she says that pulling a bag out of the freezer and putting it into the crock pot is the perfect solution.  The meals are tasty and require no prep time the day she makes them, since all she has to do is dump the contents directly into her crock pot.

I can never get enough tips in this area.  Feel free to share some of your own tips in the comments section--they will be greatly appreciated!

Weekly Wrap Up: Amish Country

June 2, 2014
This week was my last week subbing since the students' last day of school was on Thursday.  On Thursday, the class's regular teacher came back for the afternoon so that she could present the awards to her students.  She got up on the stage and thanked me in front of all the parents that came and gave me a plant and a Starbucks gift card. I was really touched and was not expecting that!  She said that with me in charge of her class she knew she could relax because the kids were in good hands.  It was just really sweet.  When the teachers got up there and started talking about their classes, they gave these speeches about how wonderful the kids were and started tearing up, which caused me to do the same!  They mentioned how much they enjoyed watching the kids grow in a year's time and how in their homes their own children knew about their students by name.  The whole event was really inspirational!  I'm thankful that I was able to student teach and sub in a great school district that had high standards for the students.

Since subbing is officially over, that means I don't have to work two jobs for the time being and I got TWO WHOLE DAYS OFF.  That's not even the best part...the best part is...wait for it... that my two days off were back to back!  They were also weekend days off: Friday and Saturday.  :D  It was glorious!  I got one small vacation that I asked off for so that I could go to North Carolina, but besides that, I would very rarely get two days off per week, and if I ever did, they were never in a row.  

On Friday, I went through my wardrobe again.  This time I found clothes that I want to try to sell at Plato's Closet for a tiny bit of extra cash.  I might as well try because they are in good condition and it's not like I'm wearing them.  Then, I went to my parents' house for a bit and we stopped and got ice cream at a local ice cream shop.  

That night, a friend of mine invited me to Bingo.  We both ended up losing, but it was still a good time besides that someone in there reeked and it eventually started making me sick.  

On Saturday, I met my friend Autumn and we drove out to Amish Country.  We had been wanting to go for months, but it just never worked out for us until now!  It was the perfect weather for it and it was the best day I had in a long time.  We stopped at an Amish restaurant and got noodles over mashed potatoes and of course a couple of pieces of homemade Amish pie.  

Then we spent the rest of our day shopping and walking around.  What I like about shopping in Amish Country is that not only are there traditional Amish goods for sale (such as jams, Amish dolls, quilts, and baskets), but there are also a lot of boutiques and shops that sell a lot of cute not-so-Amish items like adorable mugs and Pandora jewelry.  

They even opened up an ice cream/cupcake shop that had all these interesting types of pop for sale.  They had every flavor I could imagine and some that I would never have thought of in a million years, such as buffalo wild wing soda as well as bacon, peanut butter, and pumpkin pie pops!  There was even a shelf of pop with disgusting names like "kitty piddle" and "bug barf."  I'm SURE the kids in the 1st grade that I subbed for would have gotten a kick out of that.  I ended up picking up a bottle of Shirley Temple, just because my grandpa used to own a bar and I remember him making those for me as a child.

Okay, and while I was shopping, I must have seen about a hundred owl items.  Maybe I'm just more aware of owl stuff since one of my best friends chose owls as the theme of her baby girl's bedroom, but everywhere I turned there was something with an owl on it!

Here are a few more pictures from my Amish Country experience: 

Yesterday, a co-worker and I decided to head to Chipotle after we were done working.  Then we headed back to the movies to see Maleficent.  The best part was Angelina Jolie playing Maleficent...I could have done without those three little fairies, but I think they were trying to make the movie appeal to kids by adding those.

I would love to hear about your weekend if you want to link up below for Weekly Wrap Up.

Here are the rules to the link up:

1) Follow your hosts Rachael @ The Rachael Way and Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie.
2) Share what you have been up to this past week and link your post up with us every Monday.
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5) Have fun reading about how other bloggers spent their week!

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