Friday, November 30, 2012

Finances: Planning for the future

Have you planned for your loved ones’ later years?

Some say our golden years are the best of our life, and we all want to see our parents and grandparents living comfortable but stimulating later lives. With a bit of planning, we can rest assured knowing that our older loved ones are financially secure. For those responsible for planning their parents’ or grandparents financial future, it might be worth looking into equity release. This technique allows the elder generation to unlock a steady cash flow when they need it most, by releasing some of the money locked up in their property.

What to consider?

Many elderly homeowners find themselves property rich but cash poor. When you reach a certain age, having your money tied into a property is not ideal for your needs, and releasing this capital could allow you to spend a little money on the activities you have always wanted to try.

This could be anything from long and leisurely golf holidays to a trip to a paradise beach or regular cinema dates, dance classes and other entertainment-filled activities.

How much money is tied up in equity?

British people over the age of 50 are estimated to own over £750 million pounds of equity in various buildings. Equity release schemes are a great option for those that wish to unlock some of that hard-earned cash. Once this has been unlocked, your loved ones are free to spend it on anything they desire. It can also be a valuable option for those looking to downsize from a larger house to smaller, more secure accommodation.

There are a number of safe income plans available, many of which boast numerous benefits. It is important to aid your loved ones in choosing a system that can reduce the risk of inherent equity sums, so seek independent, qualified financial advice when making this decision.

Once the collateral has been released, the world becomes your oyster. Your parents and grandparents can concentrate on living their later years to the fullest, knowing that many years of work have finally paid off.

Helping your loved ones to follow their dreams is the best feeling; especially now that they have all of the time in world! Such a plan will allow them to reside in a comfortable home, whilst still being able to enjoy a healthy bank account.
*This is a post from McCarthy & Stone.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mom Down Situation

Hi everyone. If you follow me on twitter or Instagram then you know I've been under the weather. I mean I am beat down. Haven't been out of the house since before Thanksgiving. Complete Mom down situation.

Luckily, my soldier has been doing everything I normally do. Grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. During the day Sav and I have been taking it easy. Times like this remind me why it's good to live near family. I could sure use the help right now. One of the drawbacks of the military lifestyle I guess. Anyway. Just wanted to give you a heads up. I probably won't be posting as often I normally do until I'm 100% again. The pic below has been my view since about Friday.

- posted from my chic iPhone

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blogger Link Up: Sunday Social

Sunday Social

1. Name 4 jobs you’ve had in your life: Cashier/Bagger at Chick Fil-A (14), Shoe Sales at The Finish Line & Rack Room Shoes (16/17), Real Estate Advertising with The Washington Post (first job after college) and Admissions at The Art Institute (my last job before becoming a SAHM). 

2. Name 4 movies you would watch over and over: Coming to America, The Family Stone, No Reservations and It's Complicated

3. Name 4 places you have lived: The Carolinas, Maryland/DC, Georgia, Texas.

4. Name 4 of your favorite foods: Chinese Food, Mexican Food, French Fries and my Mother's Pancakes.

5. Name 4 things you always carry with you: iPhone, Wallet, Coupons and Savannah. 

 6. Name 4 places you have been on vacation: South Beach Miami, New York City, Orlando, Seattle.
This was a fun link up! What are some of your answers to these questions?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Regulating Sleep in Toddlers

I found this to be helpful. For everyone looking for help with their toddlers at night.

Regulating Sleep in Toddlers

Friday Funny

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving. I've been feeling a little under the weather so we've been staying close to home. Anyone going shopping today? Have fun and be safe if you are. Enjoy this week's Friday Funny, it's shopping inspired!

this is what happened when my husband decided to do his own laundry. once upon a time this sweater was a very soft and cozy XXL. it is now a shriveled up, hard, crunchy mess. it does fit Sav perfectly so I'll be trying to bring it back to life to use as a "play" sweater. funny.

- posted from my chic iPhone

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving: A Testimony of Prayer

I hope everyone is having an awesome Thanksgiving week so far. I've got my turkey defrosting in the fridge as we speak. I'm very excited about Thanksgiving. It has always been one of my favorite holidays. This year we'll be keeping our meal pretty small since it's only the three of us. We're also staying on budget so that cut down on a lot of the "extras" I would normally make. I was able to get all of the groceries we needed for this week and everything we needed for Thanksgiving for about fifty dollars. I won a twenty-five dollar gift card to Wal-Mart so I actually didn't even spend much of my own money. Isn't that the coolest blessing ever? 

This is a time of year where everyone reminds themselves of all the good that's in their life. We all have something to be thankful for. Even if our lives or situation isn't exactly as we want it to be there is still some good to give thanks for. I think about a message I heard during bible study one night about five or six years ago, "Be content with where God has you, but know that He isn't finished blessing you yet." 

I have taken that lesson and applied it to my life ever since. I am so thankful for all the good and not so great aspects of my life because when I think about it someone else would probably kill for my problems. As my soldier always says, "Things could always be worse." I am thankful for the power of prayer and the peace, positivity and security it brings into my life. I am thankful that the older I get the more I realize that there is very little I can do to alter God's plan for my life. Which is a good thing because praying and waiting is far better than fretting and worrying. Slows down aging too I'm sure.

So I just wanted to share a little something that's been on my heart lately. I don't know what higher power all of you believe in but I do know that this Thanksgiving I am truly thankful for God's continued favor and mercy over my life. When I think about it there is very little that I pray for that He doesn't provide. In those cases where something doesn't come through I know it really wasn't meant to be because He gives me so much good. I mean down to the tee. You don't understand. My prayers are specific.

 When I wanted to get pregnant with Savannah I prayed that God would allow me to get pregnant by the time I was twenty six.  Four days before my twenty sixth birthday I found out I was pregnant. That's what I'm thankful for. Knowing that I don't have to worry because if it's His will it will either happen or it won't. Be thankful for what you have and what you don't. Because like a young minister told our bible study class one night, "Being content isn't being complacent. It's being thankful."

What are you thankful for this year?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Witness For Fitness: Guest Blogger

Tighten Up After Baby

Going through a pregnancy and bringing a child into this world can be one of the most life-altering events you'll ever experience. While exercise maybe the last thing on your mind while nurturing your infant, it is extremely beneficial to be conscious of it and incorporate it into your daily routine. Exercise after pregnancy will help reduce the stress and anxiety of caring for a newborn, give you more energy, and get those muscles toned back up. While you don't need to jump on the treadmill immediately after birth, you should be thinking about starting or maintaining a fitness routine by the time the baby is a few months old, if not sooner.  Exercising doesn’t have to be expensive either.  There are a number of exercises that will target the areas typically affected by pregnancy- and on a budget!


If you had a natural birth, Kegel exercises are invaluable to getting your inner "parts" tightened back up to allow increased bladder control. Kegels are easy to do and virtually undetectable, so you can actually do them while out and about. Just squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as if you are trying to stop urine flow. Hold for three seconds or longer, release and repeat. Try to squeeze them in several times a day. 

Before starting exercises more intense than kegels, stretching, or walking, consider consulting your doctor. Your doctor can provide the best recommendations and advice for you when it comes to post-partum exercises. I had a great relationship with my doctor during my whole term; he was involved in helping me make optional decisions for my birthing plan, like pain medications, breastfeeding, cord blood banking, and immunizations, then was also great about helping me plan out a post-delivery diet and exercise plan.

Abdominal Strengtheners

Abdominal exercises are the best way to tighten up your unfit tummy. Pelvic tilts are a gentle way to work up to doing crunches or sit-ups. I’ve always been one to hate doing ab workouts, but love the results of them. Pelvic tilts are a great way to start back into ab workouts, but also a great one to continue when you work up to doing more vigorous exercises. Perform pelvic tilts by lying on your back with your knees bent. Inhale and tighten you stomach and bottom muscles while tilting your pelvis up and inward, keeping your lower back on the floor. Hold for five counts, then release as you exhale.

As your abs gain strength, you can progress to a crunch, which begins in the same position as a pelvic tilt. Place the hands behind the head or neck, elbows straight out. Be careful not to pull on your neck with your arms. Inhale as you slowly lift your shoulders a few inches off the floor, tightening your abs. Slowly release as you exhale. You can do crunches slow and controlled, or you can stay in the lifted position and pulse up toward the knees for 10 quick counts, then release. You can also work the oblique muscle by lifting one elbow toward the opposite knee, engaging the side abdominal muscles.

Thigh Strengtheners

Squats are an ideal exercise for new moms for a couple of reasons. First, they require no equipment so you can do them while chatting on the phone in your kitchen, or anywhere else. Second, you can do them while spending quality time with your newborn by placing the baby in a front carrier. Babies are often soothed by the up and down motion, and they love to be close to mommy. The next time your baby is fussy, or you are feeling like you need to blow off some steam, try a couple of squats.

To perform a squat, place your feet about shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Lower the bottom half of your body down and back, like you are about to sit in a chair. Squeeze your bottom and thigh muscles as you lift back up to a standing position. You can work different muscles by placing the feet a little wider apart and pointing the toes out, away from the body. Lower down into a squat, squeeze those inner thighs and lift up to standing.

With these exercises helping you work back into better shape, you will soon be feeling more energized and ready to move on to more strenuous workouts. You will be slimmed down and back to your pre-pregnancy weight before you know it and feeling healthy for yourself and your baby. 

“Katie Moore has written and submitted this article. Katie is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mommy. She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26.” 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Funny

Happy Friday! Enjoy the funnies below! Not sure what we're going to do this weekend. I think we'll probably start getting all the Christmas decorations out of storage. We normally wait until a little closer to Thanksgiving to put our tree up but since we don't have any plans this weekend I think I'll plan for us to do that. On a completely different note (and possibly random) I just saw a commercial saying that one of the large department stores are opening at eight on Thanksgiving Day. That's a little too much for me. A few years from now I bet stores will be opening at three. This whole Black Friday thing is a little out of control. (Says the woman who has never done or understand the sensation behind Black Friday.) Do you go shopping for Black Friday? What's been your experience?

- posted from my chic iPhone

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sleepless with Savannah III...

It has finally come to my attention that Savannah's sleeping is a direct result of our new schedule. This really didn't hit me until I was reading a post over on the blog Lipgloss and Binky. In that post, Mimi was sharing that her daughter's doctor thought that a child's routine helps them sleep. Even though I'd read this theory several times in parenting books it didn't really hit me until I read it on her blog.

After I thought about it I realized that Savannah's schedule has completely changed since moving. How can I expect her to sleep well when I haven't really put forth the effort to put her back into a routine? Before we moved Sav was sleeping every night from seven thirty to about seven in the morning. If she wasn't up by maybe seven fifteen I would calmly wake her up so that we could start the day. Since we moved she's been sleeping until almost eight every morning. That's got to change.

I also have to get back in to the habit of making her go to sleep at about eight. I've been letting her stay up later than I normally would and it's not creating an environment of healthy sleeping habits. During the day before we moved we were constantly doing an activity or meeting for a play group. Now that we are more settled she's started dance classes. Tomorrow we start Mommy and Me Pre-School. Like I said in another post, sometimes I have to remind myself she's only two. I can't expect her to adjust to new routines and environments easily. I have to do a little work. (Why do I feel like Iyanla Vanzant right now? LOL) I have to create her routine all over again and not deviate from it.

We were at a good place before and I know we can get back there. Waking up during the night and sleeping in my bed is no longer going to be tolerated. I'm cracking the whip and getting us back to our regularly scheduled program. Pray for a Momma.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping

I guess this is an addition to my Swiper Noooo Swiping posts. A few of you mentioned in the comments that grocery shopping is where you needed a little advice on saving. Now. Let's be real. I am in no way an expert on savings or budgets. I am not an "extreme couponer"or anything close to it. I'm just a regular wife and mother that has managed to save my family a little money by doing a little organizing before hitting the store.

Like many of you, I plan meals. I write down two weeks (or sometimes a week and a half cause we eat leftovers) worth of meals. If it's something that I am making for the first time I'll write down the recipe too. Then I go through the kitchen and scratch off what we already have. Non grocery items have their own place on my meal plan too. I only write everything down once and that's the only piece of paper I take to the store. 

Before I leave for the store I go through my coupons and find the ones I'll need for my trip. Since I don't buy anything that's not on my list I don't have to worry about taking all those coupons with me. When I get home from the store I put the list on the fridge to remind me of the meals that I've planned. As we eat one, I cross it off the list. It may seem crazy but this reminds me of what we have in the house. In those moments where I'm scrambling and I'm about to order takeout, I check the fridge. Nine times out of ten I'll see a quick meal that can easily be made. No eating out. Money saved. 

Now. Keep in mind (*resisting the urge to quote Erykah Badu) that we are just a family of three. So I don't have to make huge meals everyday. We normally have leftovers and we eat them. Food does not go to waste in my house anymore. Not since I started planning our meals. Another quick note I want to make is that we don't buy a lot of snacks. I buy fruit for Savannah and we always have at least two bags of tortilla chips in the pantry. (I make salsa on a regular basis) That's it. Hopefully this helped with some of the grocery questions. I know these concepts aren't new but I just wanted to share my grocery shopping and meal planning process.

Shopping list from a week and a half ago organized by meal w/ random items at top

I do not throw away inserts until I am absolutely sure I am done with it. It's probably at least eight inserts in that stack.
As you can see my grocery list isn't long. We still have a meal left. There's normally enough from each meal for us all to have three meals. Dinner, Lunch and dinner again. For some, I know that they couldn't imagine eating the same thing that many times in a row. There are times when I'll cook even if we have leftovers but I'll never have more than two meals sitting in the fridge at the same time because something will go to waste. Which is a waste of money. And yes, I do buy name brand products. Tide, Charmin, cereals etc. But I read the circulars to find who has what on sale and then apply my coupons. And no, I'm not driving all over San Antonio for an item here and an item there. I limit myself to the commissary on base, Wal-Mart and Target or another local grocery store. Three places tops.  Any thoughts or tips for me? Was this helpful at all? Can't wait to read your comments!

P.S. Even though the commissary is a military grocery store on base it does not save us tons of money. Meat and cheese is cheaper on base but you really have to "learn" your stores to know who typically has the best prices on certain items on a regular bases.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stylish Saturday: Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day everyone! We spent the morning in downtown San Antonio at the Veteran's Day parade. My soldier walked in the parade along with the other Sgt. Audie Murphy Club members. It was a beautiful windy morning and I was very excited about taking Sav to her first parade.

Once we got there I learned that they wanted the families to walk with him. I was cool with that but I felt bad because I wasn't dressed in red, white and blue. My plan was to stand on the side and take it all in. Apparently, I was the only wife with that plan because everyone else had on colors from old glory. Ah well. We'll get'em next year. Here are some self portraits of my outfit and a couple from the parade.

army tanks

these girls were gorgeous! 

Sav in a diva moment

clapping during the parade. i was pushing the stroller and snapping pics at the same time. Pow!

Now for my outfit...

this pic is actually for my hair. i was rocking a twist out that kept getting bigger and bigger the more the wind blew!

Sweater and Jeans - Express
Earrings - Forever 21 (very old) ... I can't believe they're still "gold"
Boots - Aldo 

- posted from my chic iPhone

Friday, November 9, 2012

MANICure Monday

I'm late for this link up again but thankfully it's open all week. This week I wanted to mix up my manicure by trying some polishes that complement one another. I went with OPI's Black Cherry Chutney (dark purple), NYC Park Ave. (lighter purple) and NYC Mulberry St. What do you think?

MANICure Monday

- posted from my chic iPhone

Friday Funny

Have a great weekend everyone!! I'm not sure what we're doing...Hopefully I can get a style post up this weekend!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dance Mom

Savannah attended her first day of dance today. It was probably the most intense hour of my life. She is in a class of about 10 other little two to three year olds. Bless that teacher's heart. There were little girls in leotards and ballet shoes running all over the place. There were some moments of focus and participation. Savannah decided that she would suddenly become extremely shy so she didn't do much today. The teacher said it normally takes a month for kids her age to open up. A month seems like a long time. I need to see her do some twirls or jumps or something before that so we can get our money out of this month! I know, I know I need to be patient. I keep having to remind myself lately that she's only two. One second she's being sassy with me and the next minute she's a baby again. You gotta love this age. Here are a couple pics from this morning...

ballerina toddler

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: Burt's Bees Intense Hydration

I received the new Burt's Bees Intense Hydration skin care line for free as part of a BzzAgent campaign. I really love this line. The clary sage leaves your skin with a fresh scent. If you are looking for a new skin care line that will moisturize your skin and fight fine lines and wrinkles this is one you should try. Have you heard of this new skin care line?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Swiper Noooo Swiping II

Well we made it to November. I can't say it was frustration free but we made it. This month we are staying with our cash only system. This new way of looking at our money spending habits has been so eye opening. In October I wasn't sure how I was going to make it. It's the fourth day of November and I have to say I am confident about conquering this month.

When we filled up our envelopes last month I had so much doubt. At the end of the month when there was still money left in the grocery envelope I felt such a strong sense of achievement. Knowing that I had saved my family money was a great feeling. I know this month will present it's own set of challenges. Thanksgiving is coming up. I'll be buying some food items that I wouldn't normally purchase. Christmas shopping has got to get done and I can already here that "retail devil" on my shoulder telling me to buy Savannah every cute little thing I see.

Luckily, I have come up with some pretty crafty (at least I think they are) ways to keep our spending in check this holiday season. I created a wish list on Amazon full of all the items that we plan to get her for Christmas. I have done price comparisons all over the web. For me, shopping online keeps me out of the stores and away from temptation. Between the decorations and the Christmas music I am a sucker for impulse shopping. When it's time to pull the trigger for her Christmas gifts I'll be going to her pre-made wish list, filling up my shopping cart and checking out. The "retail devil" won't stand a chance.

Yesterday, that "retail devil" was on back hard. I wanted to buy myself some clothes. Instead of heading to the mall with itchy palms I decided to clean out my closet. I organized all the like items together so that I could really see what I had. By the time I got finish doing that not only did I not feel like going shopping but the desire to buy new things had dwindled. I could clearly see in my closet that I had everything that I "needed".

Of course I want to get in on some of the latest trends for the season and now I know exactly which items I'm looking for. I was able to take an inventory and plan how I'm going to spend my money. I built outfits and made a list just like I would if I were meal planning and making a grocery list. This was a huge step for me. I'm learning that it's about more than limiting our purchases to a dollar amount. It's about giving value to the money that I am choosing to spend.

How has everyone else been doing with their switch to a cash only lifestyle?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Funny

I can't wait to start doing The Elf on the Shelf!!! Last year Sav was too young to understand but this year she'll get in on the fun!! Our elf's name is Stanley.

repost from Coily Locks

Have a great weekend everyone! We may attempt Sea World again this weekend depending on how Sav's cough is doing. Last week it was too chilly for her cough. If we don't go to Sea World that will be fine with me. I could use a weekend at home. I want to do some recipe research. I was watching $10 Dinners on the Food Network and I think I am going to give her shopping strategy a try. Anyone seen that show? She makes some amazing meals. Be on the lookout for my reviews!