Monday, February 28, 2011

Live like no one else...

When Kyler and I were in college, we were, simply, stupid. We didn't work for the first couple of years except in the summer so we could "focus on school"...which really translated to have the optimum amount of free time. So, we ended up taking out tons of student loans to cover tuition and cost of living. We were still living on a seriously, seriously small amount of money per year...enter credit cards. They are really the epitome of evil. I hate credit cards. I've been making payments on the same credit cards for 4 years and making sadly little progress. It's such an easy thing to get sucked in to. Here is all this "free" money, you can buy whatever you want, and you don't even have to think about it right now! Until you get the statement in the mail and realize you spent more than you could have imagined in such a short period of time.

At our worst point, we had over 10 credit cards combined. I wish I was joking.

While Kyler was at Basic Training, I went to a weekly Dave Ramsey church class with my inlaws. I don't really know why it's taken us this long to put what I learned there into effect, but this month, we are starting to follow Dave's plan.

If you take a class or read one of his books or watch his show you'll hear "live like no one you can live like no one else." In short, following his plan is not fun. You put as much as possible into debt as you can, you never buy anything unless you have the money saved up for it...but you know what is even less fun than that? Looking at your budget for the month and realizing you have very little fun money to work with because you have so many credit card payments.

So, this is what we're doing:
1) Making a monthly budget and strictly following it. We take out cash for the following categories: groceries, restaurant money, laundry, toiletries, necessities for our dog, and a Christmas savings-and put them into envelopes. When that money is gone, you're done! The point of that is when you use a debit card, it's so easy to just spend and spend and not realize where the money's going or how much you're actually spending. The idea is when you have to pay cash and physically hand over the amount and see the amount get smaller, you'll feel what you're spending and be more aware of it. And it's so true.

2) Putting $500 into a savings/"emergency fund" account. We can already check this one off the list-we just did this one today! It's so nice to know that if our car breaks down or we get a flat tire, or some other unexpected thing comes up, we have money right there to fix it without having to worry about where it will come from. If you have a higher income the recommended amount is $1000, and we'd like to get there eventually, but it's staying at $500 for now.

3) Paying off debt and NOT using the credit cards. If we weren't using our income tax return and Kyler's Army bonus on this, this one would be taking us ages and ages to finish. But we are hoping that once that money comes in (it should be any day now, please please!) we are buying the rest of the things we need for Keira, buying Kyler a grill and me a workout program for after Keira's here, and then literally absolutely everything else is going to credit cards. Yes, it's depressing to read and hear about all the really fun things other people are buying with their returns and bonuses...but I am psyched for this. We are hoping to pay off all but ONE credit card and free up over $300 extra dollars per month!!

4) You are supposed to "snowball" your, if you pay off one credit card, you take the payment amount for that one and instead of counting it as extra money, you put it towards your next credit card. You're also supposed to pay off credit cards smallest to largest balances no matter the interest rate, but since we're hoping to pay them all off at once this won't matter to us. And you're also supposed to put as much extra as you can per month. Right now, we aren't able to put any-but once we free up that $300, we'll be able to pay off the other things even faster.

I'm planning on us being debt free, other than student loans, within a year. We don't have a house and we own our car outright, so how amazing would that be to literally only have student loan payments. I'm so excited.

I'm going to read "the total money makeover" by Dave Ramsey to freshen up on exactly how this works, but there's the jist of it. Look this guy up if you are having money problems-it's not super complicated stuff, but it really works if you follow the plan.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Easy Lattice Pie Crust

I think I make a mean apple pie. It's one of my husband's favorite desserts, and that's coming from a guy who used to claim he doesn't like apple pie. I've been watching a lot of Pushing Daisies lately, and all the talk of pie had me wanting to bake (okay, and eat) so I surprised Kyler one morning when he got home from work by having one already made!

I love to put a lattice crust over it instead of just laying the top crust on, I think it looks so cool and like you worked really hard on it when really, you didn't. It is actually really easy-I swear!

First just roll out your pie crust on some wax paper. You can use a pizza cutter, which is what I normally do, but I couldn't find mine so I just used a butter knife and it worked out fine. Cut the dough into same sized strips, you can make them as big or as small as you want just depending on what you want your pie to look like. I make quite a few cuts.

Next, lay down strips vertically, even spaced apart-again, it all depends on what you want your pie to look like, so space it how you want. Now, just take every other strip and fold it back halfway.

Now, place a horizontal strip across...

And unfold the pieces back over it.

Now you will take the vertical strips that are running under the horizontal strip, and fold them back. Place another horizontal strip, and then refold those pieces.

You just keep doing this process-take the vertical strips that are running underneath the horizontal strips, fold back, place a horizontal strip, and refold until the crust is done!

Now to make the edges look pretty: trim off the excess from all of the strips. I wasn't able to do this very well because I used premade refridgerated dough and it wasn't big enough to where the bottom crust stuck out and had excess over my pan. But if you do have the excess from the bottom crust, just fold the bottom crust over the strips around the edge, and crimp it together.

The finished product! Only don't be a dweeb like me and break off some of the lattice by checking to make sure your apples are cooked. Oops.

Needless to say, the husband was happily surprised when he walked in and sniffed the awesome smell of fresh apple pie.

Please try this if you never have. I was really scared to at first, but it is really easy once you get the hang of it, and always a nice way to fool people into thinking you worked harder than you really did!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

US Army: Thank you.

Usually, I don't put forth any effort to hide my dislike of the Army. I am not a "hooah" wife. I hate the stupid rules, I hate my husband being called at 4AM on his day off and told he needs to come in within 2 hours to have a drug test, I hate the 13 hour work days that the pay certainly doesn't reflect, I hate that if there's a day we just want to go do something together or simply stay in he can't just call in sick. This isn't even counting a deployment, so I can't imagine how I'd feel about it then. While there are definitely positives, I have not been a big fan of this life and I've made no secret that Kyler and I both are looking forward to civilian life again. I am definitely counting down until his contract is up.

With that being said, lately I have been feeling thankful for the Army for one big reason. If Kyler hadn't joined, I would still be in school at KU and finishing my degree. In order to do that I would have had to take out at least $15,000 more in student loans, and we would have probably wracked up more credit card debt rather than paying it off. Kyler would have been looking for a job right as the recession hit, and who knows if he would have found one. Our finances definitely would not have been in a spot where we would have considered having a child-we probably wouldn't even be married yet. We wouldn't have been at the place and time we were for Keira to be conceived.

I never understood why he wanted to join. This was not something that had ever come up before-in fact, he would have laughed in your face if you told him he was going to be a soldier. It literally came out of nowhere and when I would try to ask him WHY so I could understand, he never really had an answer other than he felt like he was supposed to.

I think he felt that way so that we could have our little girl. I wouldn't be 8 weeks from seeing our first baby and holding her little hand, I wouldn't be able to hold my belly while she kicks at me to let me know she's okay in there, and I wouldn't be looking through baby books and almost crying when I think about what I'll write as all her favorites or who she takes after. So, God-I didn't understand why on Earth You compelled Kyler to feel the need to join the Army, but now I do: thank you for Keira.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Easy Omelets

I love to cook, but other than cookies, I don't have many recipes that I can call "mine". I guess an omelet is kind of a lame dish to have a recipe for considering they're so versatile and pretty much anyone could make a "recipe" for it, but me and Kyler love these omelets, they are super fast to make, and they can be tweaked to fit anyone's tastes. (Unless you don't like eggs, and then you're just screwed.)

I like to make sure everything is all prepped ahead of time, because these suckers cook fast. So I start with chopping veggies. Pretty much anything you like would be good in these. We had tomatoes, green onion, and bell pepper so that's what I used. Onions and mushrooms would be yummy in it, too.

Next I get the eggs ready. I usually like 3 eggs in my omelets but you could make as big or small of an omelet as you want. I would suggest at least 2 eggs or it won't work out super well. Put them in a bowl and season them up...again, you can season them with whatever you like. See a trend here? I use salt, pepper, garlic powder, and minced onion. Beat the eggs until everything is all mixed up.

Next get your pan ready. I use a small skillet, spray it with cooking spray to keep the eggs from sticking, and heat it up. A medium low heat is good, just make sure the pan is completely heated before you put the eggs in.

Pour the eggs in the hot skillet and let the eggs cook and harden a bit around the edges. Once the edges are cooked, lift the edge with a spatula and let all of the runny part still on top run underneath the egg where you are lifting.

Just keep letting the edges harden, lifting them, and letting the runny egg slide underneath until there is no runny egg left on top. Now you can flip!

Immediately start putting your toppings on once you've flipped, because it cooks fast. I usually use cheddar cheese but we were out today, so I used pepperjack. Lay the cheese down first so it gets nice and melty, then top with your veggies. I also usually add some crumbled bacon. Put all of your toppings on one half only.

Finally, just lift the side without toppings and cover the half with toppings, it should look like this:

Now you're ready to eat! Yum yum. I loooove eggs with salsa so I always top my omelet's with salsa. And there you go! Quick and easy breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Oh! And this is what you DON'T want to do-stick your wrist right on the super hot pan. Ouch. Now I look like an emo cutter. :(

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mil Spouse Friday!

So for some reason my computer or blogger isn't letting me paste...lamesauce, I will just type all the questions.

1. What is your favorite Milspouse blog?
I think my favorite is Carissa at Domicillary Artillery. I love reading all the things she does with her daughter, there are always tons of cool activities and healthy food, she inspires me to want to be a really good, involved momma.

2. What is your favorite perk about your s/o being deployed?
Kyler has luckily never been deployed. I can't imagine finding many perks in it, I hate when he just goes to work for 13 hours let alone being gone for a year at a time. I imagine the only perk I could think of would be you get more pay and tax free.

3. How long did you date your s/o before getting engaged and married?
We had been dating for nearly 4 years when we got engaged-he proposed on my birthday. Then we got married almost exactly a year after that, so 5 years before marriage.

4. What do you think your s/o would do if he weren't in the military?
This is an easy one. He would be a computer scientist buddying up with Bill Gates and making a lot more money ;)

5. If you could talk to the Secretary of the Army, what is one suggestion you would like to bring to their attention in order to improve the lives of military families?
Oh I could say a lot about this one. First of all, I don't know how many ladies I have heard have horrible experiences and I have had some bad experiences as well with the medical care. I realize that it's free, and that's wonderful-but please, hire competant people. We care about our health, too.

Second, housing needs major work. Instead of hiring the lowest bidder and letting the military families live in sub par housing (especially what's going on in Fort Bragg homes right now with infants-terrible), please give us some quality homes. When we moved into our new house, first day, there was literally scotch tape holding up our attic, and ripping a piece of paint from it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

MAC Giveaway

One of the top ways I waste time and justify not doing housework is visiting various Army wife forums. Shaka, one of the lovely ladies from one of my favorite forums is doing a giveaway for a $25 MAC Gift Card. I swear I have been hearing about this make up and wondering about it a lot lately, I've heard great things about the eyeshadows.

Anyways, check it out here:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dear doggie.

Look at our cute puppy. Isn't she adorable?

I call her puppy even though she's not a puppy anymore, but anyway.

Despite her extreme cute factor, she likes to scare the heck out of her momma when daddy is gone. She never does it during the day when the sun's shining and you could see any lurking predators and when daddy is there to protect me. Nope, she does it when it's 3 in the morning and mommy has no company in the house other than a fetus and dog.

I went to walk Chorizo (that's her name-mexican sausage, Chihuahua/Dachshund-get it?) in our backyard so she could go potty. Immediately she focuses to the left, gets her little butt in that "you're in my territory and I'll eat you" stance, looks directly at a bush in our backyard, and starts barking. She never barks. Ever. The only time she barks is when there's another dog around that she wants to sniff, or when there's a stranger. So unfortunately for her she didn't get to go potty, because I hightailed it back into our house, dragged her in, slammed our door and locked it.

We went upstairs, me with pepper spray in tow, and she sat in the entry way to our bedroom just staring down the stairs. Why does she do this to me???? This kind of thing only happens in the middle of the night when Kyler's gone, I swear.

I have 1 hour until he's home...which translates to one hour of me sitting here with my pepper spray, looking over my shoulder every 5 seconds, and getting a huge rise in heart rate every time our house creaks.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cooking PSA

Before I go to bed...this evening I made some chocolate covered strawberries. I looked up a recipe first because if I was just going by what I thought, I would just melt some chocolate and dip in the strawberries. The recipe I found said to use shortening but others said you could substitute butter for shortening.

So I waddle my happy pregnant butt downstairs, put the chocolate and some butter in a bowl, and microwave it. As soon as I took it out-uh oh...this is so wrong. I thought maybe heating it some more would help. Nope. I was just left with a bowl full of ruined chocolate that was so thick you couldn't even stir it.

Then I decide maybe I didn't heat it for long enough the first time and that it's a good idea to get a new bowl, new chocolate, new butter, and try again....not a good idea.

Finally I wondered if it was the butter. I melted some chocolate by itself and sure enough, 2 dirty bowls full of wasted chocolate later, I got my chocolate covered strawberries. My PSA for the day? Don't microwave butter and chocolate.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A rise in blood pressure later...

Holy moly! I need serious blogging help. I just spent a solid HOUR making my new banner. Sadly no, I'm not joking. I used and wow, I could not get anything to work. It doesn't even look that great! Lamesauce. I thought it'd be like a 10 minute thing.

Anyhoo, my blog is all re-pimped out. And now I'm going to try to fit the last 3 months in one post and not bore you (if there are any of you left) to death.

So the last time I posted we didn't even know what gender our baby was. Now I'm nearly 31 weeks pregnant and I can definitely see the finish line (if not my feet...or legs, really).

We took a trip to Atlanta to get a 3D ultrasound and a gender determination done. Apparently the 3D's creep some people out, so if you are creeped out by sharper image of skeleton baby, kindly turn your head for the next few pictures.

Introducing...Keira Colgrove! It's a girl!!!! She is so lady like, she decided to flip us the bird. I see this being a great "embarass you in front of your boyfriend" picture many years from now, along with nakie bathtime." I would have thought it was hilarious though, personally.

And here's a cuter one. She had no fat here-I was only around 19 weeks. I think it is amazing what they can do now, though. It may creep people out but how awesome that you can see your baby before it's born, with this much clarity?

Her name is Keira Jade. Not Kiera pronounced Key-air-uh, but Keira pronounced Keer-uh. We've already had problems with this so she's going to love us someday, with the last name too. Her middle name is Jade-this was Kyler's pick. I got to pick the first name, so he picked the middle name. Her and daddy will have the same initials :) Cute.

So the reason for my super long absence is that in mid December we had to move all of our belongings from Georgia to Maryland, then put our things in storage. For 2 weeks. Nope, not kidding. Then we went home to Kansas for the first time in over a year and it was amazing to be home!!!! I was a pregnant lady in heaven with the Gringo's burritos. Seriously, for such a gross place you would not think they'd have the best burritos ever, but they do, and I had been craving them for a solid 3 months.

But really, it was great to see my family and friends. I really missed them and still do <3

Miss Holly took our maternity pictures while we were home, and she did an awesome job. We got lots of great pictures, but here are a few of my faves:

I was so sad when we had to leave. I felt like an 18 year old venturing off to college again, only this time I don't get to come home every 2 weeks. I'm comforted, though, knowing that I get to see a lot of my family again in just a couple short months when Keira makes her grand entrance! Seriously I don't know how many times I've heard people say how they can't wait to get out of podunk Kansas, and I used to say it too, but now I would give anything to be able to just be home again.

That being said, we are now living in one of the coolest areas of the country (in my opinion). Maryland has so many historical things to see and so many things surrounding it, I can't wait for warmer weather so that we can explore. We did take a trip to DC when we first got here. It was FREEZING and really tiring for my 7 month pregnant butt waddling all over the place, but we did get to see Kumar in a restaurant. I don't have any pictures for proof because he zoomed by really fast, but I do have 3 other people that were there to back me up.

Here's a view looking up the Washington Monument, which we got to go up in and look out over DC.

Arlington Cemetary...I always think it's a really humbling place to see.

Me and the hubs in front of The Honest One.

Pretty cool to have just gotten here, and already be able to see a lot of neat things.

So anyway ever since then we have just been setting up house. This is our first time living on post, and I don't know how I feel about it yet. Honestly, this is the most crappily put together place we have ever lived in, and we lived in cheap college apartments. Our downstairs stays about 0 degrees while our upstairs is roasting, and the first evening I cooked we set off the carbon monoxide alarm because of our lovely gas oven being on for too many hours because it wouldn't ever completely bake a chicken.

That being said, we have a place to live and Kyler is really close to his work, which is nice.

I think that's enough updating for now. I'm sure I'm missing plenty of things but I doubt anyone has even made it this far. I could probably cuss you all out and no one would be the wiser :) I'm going to start posting some recipes as I make ones that turn out really well, and we are crossing every phalange we have that Kyler's bonus will come in by the end of this week so when that happens...I get my sewing machine!!!! I'm trying to decide what my first project is going to be, but I will post about it as it happens, and of course include pictures, because I'm sure it'll be quite a sight.

Happy Valentine's Day!!!! The Mr. and I don't get to spend it together because he has work all evening. Typical Army stuff. So I'm getting ready to go throw some laundry in, change into my pj's, make some chocolate covered strawberries, eat my Olive Garden leftovers, watch some movies, and then read my book later. Hope you all have a good evening!

It's too late to apologize?

This is a blog post simply to say: sorry!

I realize I have not made a post in nearly 3 months. Total blog fail. What with moving across the country, going home for a visit for the first time in a year, setting up our house at 7 months pregnant, etc etc things have been a little bit crazy.

Kyler works basically all evening tomorrow and I swear I will be posting regularly now, what with all the boredom that comes from the long evenings that he works. I'll have some new baby updates, nursery updates as we get that going, and I'm buying a sewing machine soon so everyone will get to read about all the disasters I'm sure will come of that.