Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sunrise Scribblings (Day 2-Part I)

I woke up stiff-necked and sore. With a decent ache from the dedicated, earnest effort needed for the rugged inclines of our completed treks, I'm reminded that I'm not as fit as I once was. The bed was comfy enough with plush pillows and cozy blankets. The room truly was a great, last minute find. (Thank you Mariah!) Yet, the mixture of the unfamiliar noises creeping about the hotel, the memories of the glorious day that had just ended, and the restless excitement of the day to come, all buzzed around in my head keeping me awake. Excitement and Caffeine must be cousins because both will do a remarkable number on you if you wish to sleep!

Easing the stiffness with some yoga stretches to loosen the ache, I'm already feeling a lot better. Mariah is still snuggled up in her bed with sweet slumber, so I'm doing my best to keep quiet. 

I have truly missed writing. It is a marvelous way to unwind. I am going to wrap this up and get a bit more rest before the second leg of our current adventure. Today we venture to the waterfall-of-waterfalls, massive, expansive, sheer power and awe of nature and God's artistry: Niagara.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Delve Into Ithaca (Day 1)

The lush green farmlands rolled along the horizon, kissed by the sun of a clear blue sky. With the tension of the recently concluded semester melting away as the miles extended on, Mariah and I were ecstatic to be on our way to some of the grandest hiking in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York. Just a brief two hour drive from our small Pennsylvanian town, the landscape transported us to an entirely new world.

Robert Treman State Park was the first stop on our adventure.
This park is known for its dense woods, refreshing, scenic waterfalls, and the majestic beauty of Lucifer Falls, the park's grand falls that cascades 115 feet down its rock face.

Mariah Climbing
As we began our hike at the lower end of the park, we were greeted swiftly by an intense incline of strenuous steps. The forest smelt of ripe moss, pine, and rich, wet earth. The air was humid and warm, eased every so often with a gentle, cooling breeze from the distant storms that bellowed hello to us with the rolling of thunder. Time disappeared in this wooded haven. We relished in the beauty of it all.  Numerous roaring falls, plenty of small trails leading to the stoned shores of the river, the elegant mummer of  teaming streams, all accompanied by the pleasant ease of great conversation. We even savored the rush of a little cliff climbing. I am grateful to have such a remarkable friend like Mariah to share these sights with.

Lucifer Falls

Lucifer Falls is an outstanding giant. I had seen the falls previously last year, but this time more strength erupted from its banks. The gift of warmer weather brought a greater amount of water to add to the power of this breath-taking beast. Rushing down layer upon layer of slate rock face, the falls cascades into a beautiful gorge with cliffs rising hundred of feet around, opening up to the seemingly endless treetops of the woods we just emerged from. After drinking in the incredible sight of Lucifer Falls, Mariah and I continued a mere quarter mile to the top of the gorge for a quick rest, and then retraced our steps down the gorge. Brief, refreshing rainfalls joined us off and on. A welcoming sensation on our warm shoulders, sweet kisses washing away the sweat and salt gathered from the satisfying feat of the miles covered in the past few hours. Savoring that feeling of triumph that swells deep within the soul, radiating out through smiles and cheerful conversation, we reached the lower gorge and packed up for the next trail.

Majestic Watkins Glen

Our next stop was an extravagant and endless feast for the eyes. Watkins Glen is an immensely majestic wonderland of stone, water, and foliage. It is surreal and unimaginable how such a breathtaking place could possibly exist this side of Heaven. This is one of the most brilliant places I have ever experienced and have been blessed to gaze upon, leaving me forever changed.  The splendor of the Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen, is bursting with abundant waterfalls, some fierce and powerful, many of which are plummeting down the gorge its water carved and created. Others located on the higher levels of the trail rain down with effortless elegance and beautiful form. We felt as if we had stepped into a scene from Lord of the Rings.

Fierce, Powerful
The trail is mark by a beautifully laid stoned pathway that hugs the hips of the river. The air hung cool upon us with the sunlight concealed behind the carved canyon walls and the white mist mingling in the air. Breaking out from beneath the cliffs and into higher, open path, the day grew warmer. Lush, green trees, shrubbery, and bright wildflowers adorn the gorge. Peculiar infant trees grow at odd angles out from the side of the cliff walls, a fascinating sight. One spectacular section of the trail is when it winds along the stone rock face and right behind one of the gushing falls. Thousands of gallons rushing right before you, filling you with awe from its mighty force. Leaning forward you can witness the water plummeting down into the depths of the gorge where it crashes with a power splash, and then continues its journey onward down the river. In comparison to our previous hike of steep inclines and declines, this trail was easier in the sense that it has a gradual, easy-going incline up until the last few yards. Do not be fooled, to reach the pinnacle of the trail we had to climb a brutal set of staircases known as "Jacobs Ladder". Mariah and I were left almost breathless, and needed a decent rest before the decent. The Gorge Trail is the number one thing I recommend venturing if you find yourself in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.
Breathing in the calming serenity that surrounded us, we rested along the shores of Seneca Lake to  wind down the end of such an incredible day 

Seneca Lake
 On the drive back to our hotel, we saw a Chili's which struck us with immediate excitement. Famished from the long and adventurous day, we feasted like kings on excellent food, humorous conversation, and great company.
Now it's time to tuck in a get some rest to recharge for tomorrow's adventure.

Venture On.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Negotiation Skill Level: EPIC (Furniture purchase!)

Slamming Deals Yesterday!


I need to just share what a great day I had yesterday saving money!


We have one of those free grocery rewards cards at our local grocer. I usually only buy my meats and produce at this retailer because their pantry, pet, baby, and household items are higher priced than Wal-Mart. So, even though I don’t spend a lot of money there, the purchases do add up in rewards points. The points system here translates to cents off of gas purchases. Well, yesterday I needed to fill up really bad.

I was beyond the “Hm.. I really should get gas soon” point and was about to hit the “HOLY COW I’m probably going to run out of gas six blocks from the gas station” panic. You know that panic. We all dread that panic…I don’t normally let it get that low, but I had been lazy, I won’t lie.

Thankfully, I didn’t run out of gas, and puttered into the gas station that accepts my grocery rewards points. I pumped my gas and went into the teller, handed him my rewards card, he scanned it, then saw I was pulling out cash. He informed me, that this place gives you extra discounts if you are paying with cash! Other gas stations here don’t do that, so I was blown away! I ended up getting my gas for $3/gallon!! That’s $0.65 off per gallon! Thankfully I filled up with that discount! What, what!

Next big savvy save yesterday rocked, just rocked! I was so pumped up from it, and I really made Hubby proud!

We’ve been married just about four years now and we’ve never had a bedroom set. I KNOW. CRAZY. Well, I decided this year is the year we’re going to get one! We hadn’t before because we knew we were going to move eventually, well that day happened! We have our new home, so IT WAS TIME.

We shopped around here and there and just weren’t finding anything worth the “deal” the sellers were offering.

I used to work as a finance manager for a furniture company after I got out of the USMC, so I knew the tricks, I knew the gimmicks, I knew the mark-ups, and I knew what an accurate offer was, and what was unreasonable.


 Example: We were interested in a particular bedroom set that was gorgeous. I asked the salesman what type of wood it was made out of. Want to know his answer was?

 “Hardwood.” .. … …  REALLY? Thank you Captain Obvious.

I held my tongue and proceeded. I then asked, “Okay, what type of hardwood is it?”

He threw out all these different types of wood, and then said he wasn’t entirely sure. Which happens, I understand.

I then asked if he would be able to look it up for me so that I could make an assessment on the durability and quality of the build.

He grew impatient, crossed his arms and huffed, “Well, I guess….” Add the dramatic sigh and cue temper tantrum. Sheesh.

In my head I thought, “Well, I guess you don’t want to make a sale buddy.” But, don’t worry, I held my tongue again.

He didn’t look it up and said we can continue to look around, and never came to check on us again. Needless to say, we didn’t purchase from there even though it was a gorgeous set.

My husband and I were not rude, not impatient, and not unreasonable. We just are well informed and needed information to make the best decision. Thankfully so.



Continuing on..



 Thankfully at lunch yesterday, a co-worker mentioned a little place a few towns over she picked up all of her furniture. We were worn out and pretty bummed, so we headed up to where my co-worker had mentioned. We walked in there and found a really nice set that was on sale for $1400. Now, I know they say “sale” and it’s still really marked up, so we haggled and haggled for a bit. We talked them down to $900.

Then I asked if they would do anything better if we paid-in-full cash, right now. This perked the salesman and owner, both were helping us. I mentioned that I know that any use of cards charges a percentage, even if it is a debit card. The card machine company charges a fee for the company to be able to use their card machines. (This is why a lot of places don’t accept AMEX because that company’s fees are nuts!) So, I whipped out my cash, and counted out $800. I said, “Well this is all I have. Would we be able to make a deal for $800?”

 They stood there and thought for a minute and then ACCEPTED!

We made out with an entire King Bedroom Suite for $800 flat! Shazaam!



Saturday, January 5, 2013

Frugal Tip: Making Your Own Laundry Soap Mix

Say What?

Yes! You can make your own laundry soap mix! It's super easy, takes about 10mins, and I know it will last us for months!

After reading that one of my friends made their own laundry soap to save a few dollars, it motivated me to give it a try too.  Now, I knew laundry soap consisted of Borax and Baking Soda, but I found a recipe on Pinterest that sounded a little more appealing to me, again this is just the one I chose! There are many ways to make your own! I chose this one mainly because the pinners mentioned how CLEAN their clothes were and how FRESH their clothes smelled after.

After giving this my own try, I agree! My clothes are certainly clean and fresh!

For $20 I bought all the ingredients and made this HUGE batch of laundry soap. The best part, for a large load, you only put 2tbs of the mix into your wash! That's it!!! I'm guessing that this large batch will last me atleast eight months, maybe longer. $20 for eight months+? YES PLEASE!!! I usually buy the Arm and Hammer Clean Scent Liquid Detergent. $7 for a bottle that I can usually go through in three weeks; a month if I really stretch it out. So, having a great laundry soap that cuts my spending by a ton? YES PLEASE!!!

So, are you ready? It's easy! You can stop by Walmart and pick up all these items!

(NOTE: You will need a cheese grater also)

You will Need:

Cheese Grater ( I bought one specifically for this. Dollar Tree has them for just a buck!)
1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax
1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean
2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Fels Naptha Soap
1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
1-2 (55 oz) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener (I picked the purple kind)
Large bucket to mix it (I just used a storage tub)

How To:

First I poured in the Borax, Super Washing Soda, OxyClean, and Baking Soda. I shifted the tub around to mix the ingredients after I gave it a quick "stir" with a large wooden spoon.
Next, pour in the Purex Crystals.
The hardest part really is just grating the soap. It can get to be a pain, but it doesn't take too long if you keep at it. Just grate the soap on top of the laundry mix.
Give it another "shake and stir"


I put some of the mixture into the empty Purex Crystals bottle to keep by my washing machine, so I can store the large tub somewhere out of site. Mainly, out of the way so I don't trip on it! lol.
Again, it's just 1tbs for small/med loads and 2tbs for large/extra large loads. If you keep the Purex Crystals bottle, the lid can be your guide!

NOTE: For best results, fill washer with water and laundry soap mixture PRIOR to adding clothes. It will not harm your clothes, just for best results mix with the water prior! :)

I hope this inspired a few of you to give it a go! I'm glad I did!

Happy Saving!

I did not come up with this on my own! This came from a Pin on Pinterest.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Pregnancy Update!

Hey Bloggers,

   I'm in my 20th week of pregnancy and we are doing great! Praise the Lord!
My husband and I were blessed to find out that in May we will get to meet a beautiful baby girl, OUR baby girl!!! We are so deeply excited!

I want to start blogging about my pregnancy and feel like now would be a great time to start. Maybe some day my posts will help another mother-to-be.

I am starting a new exercise routine and I just finished it for the first time, and I have to say I'm feeling great. Now, this works for me, PLEASE don't ever over do yourself during pregnancy. If you are unsure ALWAYS ask your doctor if what you want to do is safe. It's not worth it to injury or harm yourself, or worse, your baby. Listen to your body and your baby to decide what works for you.

Mornings: Walk with Pup for 5 laps around the loop in our neighborhood; a little over a mile.
                   Prenatal Pilates: 2(10min) routines
                   Prenatal Yoga: Energizing sequence

Evening: Walk with Pup for 5 laps around the loop in our neighborhood
                Prenatal Yoga: Relaxation rountine
                Prenatal Yoga: Guided Meditation

I won't lie, I've not taken the best effort I could have as far as exercise thus far into my pregnancy, but my doctor says I am healthy, so I am going to start exercising now to be strong for birth.

Nutrition: I have been taking a prenatal vitamin throughout my entire pregnancy and it has worked really well for me. I haven't experienced nausea from it, and when my tests came back, my iron levels were great. It also has the 100% of the folic acid requirement for pregnant women. WIN!!!

I am trying to improve on the amount of water I drink. I have rarely been drinking any soda. Every now and then I will have a small glass (resulting in about 1/2 cup-1cup of soda). This is just my personal choice. It is few and far inbetween, and honestly, lately I haven't the taste for it. I prefer water, apple juice, or my all time favorite right now, MILK!!! I have never had a greater love for milk than now! Haha, our little one is getting her Calcium! (NOTE: Always be mindful of how much milk you are drinking, mainly due to the SUGAR content in milk. Have you ever noticed HOW MUCH SUGAR is in Milk?? Crazy.)

I am incorporating more and more veggies and fruits each week. This week has been difficult because I am craving sweets. I am trying not to give in too much, but somedays, like today, I just give in. Eh, some how chocolate cake just tastes better when pregnant. LOL
The only thing my doctor says I have to keep trying to get more of is protein. I do eat protein, steak here, chicken there, but I am not getting all that they wish me to get EVERYDAY. So, I'm adding eggs to my breakfast and chicken/turkey to my salads and making sure meat is the main ingredient in our dinners.

FYI: Cravings? Haha, yes. I've had some.
The first trimester I could ONLY stomach HOT/Spicy food. Thai and Mexican were constant. I remember going to a local Mexican restaurant 10mins before they closed and begged them for a burrito (this place is great you get to build your own with meat and veggies and HOT SAUCE lol) and for a quesadilla..that I ate for breakfast the next morning, with an EXTRA helping of hot salsa to dip it in...best part, NO heartburn! WOO!
Second Trimester:
Now things get weird. I don't have regular cravings. It's things here and there. There were two weeks that I wanted NOTHING but Raisin Bran Crunch for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dessert. I can't tell you how many boxes I went through.
I also like mushrooms and sausage, not together, just in general. TWO Things I couldn't stand pre-pregnancy.

I can't fit in my jeans anymore, but after discovering maternity jeans, I may never go back to regular jeans... just saying... lol

I've gained 15 lbs and slowly increasing every week now. I am so happy and thankful that God is giving us a healthy baby girl!

I'm going to start posting more. I really miss blogging!

Baby girl is kicking my tummy right now! Time to go snack!!!

Ciao! Hope all of you are well!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Pepper Steak (Pix Included)

Hey all. As promised yesterday, here is the first of two Beef recipes I am making this week.


Slow-Cooker Pepper Steak

This recipe is a favorite in our home. It is my husband's favorite and it's really easy to make! Toss all of this in and cook for a few hours, serve over noodles or rice. It's perfect for a Sunday afternoon or a mid-week meal.

  I only made a half-recipe last night, so the photos will only show the half-recipe!

Here's How:

You Will Need:

- Large Crockpot
- 2 pounds beef sirloin, cut into 2 inch strips ( I used Cubed Steak meat this time)
- Minced Garlic to taste (or Garlic Powder)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cube beef bouillon
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 medium onions (chopped)
- 2 large green bell peppers, roughly chopped
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes, with liquid
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce (or roughly 3 to 4 packets from your fave Chinese diner! LOL)
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt

To Make:

 1)Start by adding the veggie oil to a large frying pan on High Heat and add meat.

 2)Brown on all sides

3) Pour contents of the skillet into your Crockpot, juice and all. It gives it a great flavor!

4) In a bowl, or I just use a coffee mug, mix hot water and beef bouillon cube.  Add corn starch. Pour in Crockpot and give it a quick swirl in with the meat. This will help thicken the sauce a bit.

5) Chop your veggies

6) Add vegetables, stewed tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, and salt to Crockpot and give it a quick mix.  

7) Cover Crockpot and put on low heat for 5-6 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.

Your kitchen will start to smell so yummy as it's cooking!

8) Once cooked, I always transfer mine to a different dish just so that it doesn't cook too much.

To assemble:

Place noodles/rice at bottom of the bowl

Then add your freshly made Pepper Steak!

Now it's time to enjoy this warming, delicious, and delightful meal!

Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Life-Update & Puppy Pomodoro: A Skunk Adventure

Hey guys! It's been a crazy week! Last night ending with a closing-shift and Pup covered in tomatoes.

I've got two recipes for you this week. I'm starting one right now and marinating the next for tomorrow. (posts to follow)

I normally work around 55 hours a week, so a girl gets pretty tired... That being said, I called in sick today. I do not feel well! I know it's just pure exhaustion. So I took a "me" day to relax, as much as I could, lol. I'm still doing laundry and vacuuming, but I baked a delicious pumpkin dessert, and cooking today is pretty relaxing to me.

                           Puppy Pomodoro
 Last night as we were closing up shop at my Part-time job, I get a phone call. My husband, in a haste to get the words out fast enough and express the urgency of the situation, told me that Pup got a skunk shower.
Now, I have never had this happen, the first thing I asked was, "Is he okay?!"
My husband confirmed that Pup was fine, just a little upset by the fumes. (Thank goodness he is okay)
 "Where is he?"
My husband then tells me that he is inside in our bathroom... As you can imagine, I was a little upset. Fresh skunk spray in our house!
Taking control of the situation, I asked him to move Pup to the guest bathroom and that I would run to the store and grab some tomato juice/sauce/SOMETHING tomato-ey to rid Pup of the noxious fumes. Praying it would work.
( I grabbed 4 cans of tomato puree {they were on sale!})

 Now, as soon as I pulled up to the house, I smelled the yucky skunk funk... I came inside and then we slathered Pup down in all four cans of tomato puree, let it soak in for about 10 mins, then we washed him with a little bit of Dawn dish soap.

Verdict: Tomato puree works great for getting rid of skunk smell!!! Puppy smelled great! The house.. well... the house wasn't bad, we opened all the windows and turned up the fans. But the bedroom, whew! Couldn't sleep in there! Hahhaa! Hubbs and I had to sleep on the couch for the night.

This morning the bedroom and house are sans skunk smell.

I hope Pup  has learned to stay away from the skunks, but who knows. He saw squirrels this morning and was in full chase! Oh, the life of an innocent Pup!