Monday, August 29, 2011

My BIGGEST Love Hate Relationship

Do you work out? Do you like working out? Or are you like me and sit on the couch with your snack as you "preview" your latest workout dvd you got because heaven forbid you do a workout without knowing what you are about to get yourself into, right?

I consider myself an athletic person. I enjoy moving around, having fun, playing some sports or running. But when you talk about the w word or more commonly know as working out, I cringe. For me the goal of working out would be to see a result different from what my current look is. But did you know that when you work out you don't get to see the results right away? Why is that. I like to see the fruits of my labors... like yesterday. Not tomorrow, or a week later, but NOW! I know this post could take a whole different directions into how to have patience, but that is another day.

So back to why I like to sweat. Well, obviously I don't but I committed to something and there is just no backing out. Eric and I are doing insanity for 60 days. WHAT?!?! I know, I'm crazy. But by putting the 2 month goal out there and more importantly having Eric by my side, I'm going to work it out baby and see how it goes.

Have you heard about this workout? If you have, you can feel my pain. If not, check it out....

I have the hardest time each night getting all fired up to do this. Eric has to drag me into. And seriously 3 minutes in my legs are screaming at me to stop. But you know what? When I'm done I feel AWESOME BABY! I want to do it again, well not really, but you know what I mean.

So what do you do to make yourself motivated to workout?
Oh, by the way, I'm a week in AND I'M DYING!! Wish me luck, only 7 weeks left.

Snickerdoodle cupcakes

Some people like to cook, some like to bake, some just like to eat. Me personally, I like the last two the best. Baking is so much fun for me, and who doesn't like a sweet treat now and then. The funny part is, I actually don't particularly love sweets, and I don't like chocolate at all unless it is lightly tucked inside a chocolate chip cookie, but I love making desserts of all kinds. Weird, I know, but if that shocks you then we need to get to know each other better.

So as I am starting my latest collection of family favorites I thought I would share with you the creations and if they look good maybe you can make them for your family. To encourage this endeavor I have requested to be in charge of Sunday night dessert for my family (including my parents) so hopefully for their sakes I can whip up some yummy and edible treats.

After wrapping up a way to long (and by to long I mean more than a day) of eating healthfully, cutting out the good stuff like carbs and sweets, I decided it was time to indulge. While I was being health I missed 2 awesome deals at my favorite cupcake shop in town so I tried to make up for it on my own here at home. Out came the mixer and spices and I picked out a nice fluffy looking cupcake, the Snickerdoodle cupcake.
As they started to bake, the house filled with that sweet smell of cake and cinnamon, something it had been missing for far to long. Yum!
Now for the BEST part, the frosting. I saw people suggested various kinds of frosting online to top these light pieces of heaven, but I went with my favorite, cream-cheese frosting, and added a a twist.

Yep, perfection. Eric, who really likes being in the kitchen with me grabbed the icing bag and asked to do the honors of topping the cakes. He piled on that cream with easy and with a pinch of cinnamon sugar on top from me they were complete.
And yes, they tasted as good as they sound. I was only going to have one being mindful of all the hard work I had done on my "diet" but before I went to bed I had eaten 3. Don't tell Eric though, he thought I only had 2!

I saw this recipe as I was searching around online from Bakerella who always has great ideas like this Snickerdoodle-Duo I am excited to try! What could be better than a stack of snickerdoodle? I really can't think of any. I might even have to try it tonight if I think I can have a little better self control. Reviews coming soon!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole milk

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons sugar + 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 28 muffin tins with paper liners.

2. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with additions of milk, beating until combined after each addition.

4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake about 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

5. Prepare frosting: In a medium bowl, use electric mixer to blend cream cheese and butter. Add sugars, vanilla and ground cinnamon. Spread onto cooled cupcakes, or scoop into piping bag and pipe on the frosting decoratively. Place sugar-cinnamon mixture in a fine sieve and tap it lightly over the cupcakes to give them a light sprinkle.


*The cake part of the cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months in an airtight container.

Source: -cake adapted from Martha Stewart

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Happiness is Where the Animals Are

It is no secret our boys love the zoo. They would like them in the rain or snow, in the heat or in the water. Oh my goodness, I obviously read to much Dr. Seuss to the boys today, can you tell? But seriously, animals = pure joy for my boys.

Back in May I had to run out to Wisconsin for a wedding and I took Brodie. Before we left we were visiting my sister as she graduated from CSUN. I left the older 3 with Eric and my sister in SoCal and warned Eric strongly that there would still be 3 kids that looked like a Lawrence when I returned. And no, he couldn't trade them :)

So what would 3 boys, their dad and their aunt do for fun while having fun in the sun? HIT THE ZOO of course. A zoo is a zoo is a zoo. Always fun.

Apparently they put Austin in charge....
There were several photos that I found like this when I came home. He took his job very seriously.

Lions and tigers and bears... such fun. They didn't even miss me. And to my relief I didn't see any news alerts online while I was half way across the country about a boy stuck in a tree with a monkey or swimming in the flamingo pond, so all was well.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cash Only Budget

Eric and I have tried various different ways of budgeting and paying the bills over our almost 10 years of marriage. Some worked out pretty well, others not so much. We have learned a lot about each other during this process but it has also made us stronger as a couple as we work together to reach an end goal. Often times money can be such a difficult topic for couples and even though I admit there have been times where a conversation or two has become more heated than I'd like but in general I am blessed to have a husband who really is a partner in this with me.

So recently I wanted to try to revamp our system once again. Our current one had been working for about 3 years, but I wanted to find one to allow us to save more aggressively while still having money for other things. I started reading away on different types of systems and got stuck on the cash budget idea. Eric had reservations because in the past we have lost/misplaced or had cash just full on disappear (I'm talking hundreds of dollars) but the overall system seemed appealing so he agreed.

I first came across this idea on Money Saving Mom and this is her post about how to get started. I looked at various blogger's sites who have also started on this adventure to get an idea on how they worked it out. You can read some of the sites I found info about it here, and here.

Eric and I spent one night going over all the categories we could think of that we wanted to include in our budget. This is what we came up with.

  • Food
  • Date Night
  • Gas
  • Family Fun/Eating Out
  • Diapers
  • GNO (girls and/or guys nights)
  • Home
  • Gifts/Birthdays
  • Clothes: $/per person
  • Vacation
And like the theories suggest we will continue to pay our monthly bills like phone and gas and water etc with our checking account. I have our monthly bills charted out to where I know about how much they will be monthly. Obviously it changes a little but I tend to round up on the ones that do fluctuate so when it is a higher month I have it covered. And, if it is a lower month for monthly bills but I have it budgeted for higher months I leave the extra in that account because it never fails that some bill will pop up that I wasn't expecting. We call that checking account our bills account (original right) and transfer all other money out of that account to not confuse how much will be coming out that month for bills.

Our second checking account is our family account where all other money use to go, but now with this cash budget I think I will only leave $100 in there for emergencies. Then we have our long-term never ever ever touch it savings account and then a regular savings account where we save money to help where needed or for special things or whatever.

And the rest goes into the envelopes. I debated how I actually wanted to do the envelopes. I am slowly sewing a wallet insert with cloth envelopes with magnetic closures, but like I said, that is happening very very slowly. I didn't like doing just plain white envelopes, because lets face it, those are no fun. But then I found this post online on a DYI envelope system. LOVE IT!

So we are going to start on Sept. 1st with the guidelines we have set up. I am assuming there will be a little adjusting as we go, but hopefully it works out. I'll keep you updated on the status. So now I have to keep working on the cute new envelopes before the end of the month.

What system works for you and your family?

Fallen Leaf Camping

Vacation really throws a wrench into my mojo. I was all about the blogging thing again, then we did a week trip to Tahoe for camping with my fam and boom, mojo gone. School starts soon and I am hoping that makes things start rocking and rolling around here again.
But while I have a quick second (even though I have already had to get up 6 times and I have only written how many sentences?) I wanted to post our picks from our camping trip. Fallen Leaf is probably one of our favorite spots ever to vacation let alone camp. My parents always secure THE BEST camp site and the place it self is spectacular. I can't recommend it enough. Besides being literally across the street from Lake Tahoe, it has it's own little (big) lake that we ride bikes to or hike around. So much fun.

Can't you just see the joy on their faces. My boys are outdoor boys 100%. What kid wouldn't love being able to get as dirty as they wanted without getting in trouble?
And even more fun than getting dirty is Austin's make-shift bath that was actually for Brodie, but Austin hopped right in too. It became a nightly to do for him.

We did lots of hiking. It is fun having the older two old enough to walk around and explore while the little two are happy being in the backpacks. And Eric just had to teach the kids how to chew on grass like he use to growing up in WY. They thought they were soooo cool.

Brodie tested out our bear alert system I had in our tent. It was just me and the boys for the first night cause Eric had to stay and work, so you bet I had something to let the entire campsite know if a bear dare try to mess with me or the boys in the middle of the night.
Isn't Brodie such a love. He is such an easy flow with it baby. I really lucked out.

My dad's friends came up that he has know since high school. Dave and Cindy quickly became by boys favorite people to hang out with. Plus they brought their dog grace who was the perfect amount of fun and energy for the boys.
Danica and I of course had to have a moment. My dad sent this photo to his sister and said this is the real reason we are sending her off to DC (not because she is getting her masters). She really looks uncomfortable in this photo. HA

And we ended the trip with a day at the Lake. Tahoe is always the perfect spot. Brodie found his place in life that day at the beach. He was all smiles and couldn't have been more content with the day. The older boys were in and out of the water, playing in the sand and running, always running around.

Another success camping trip 2011. Can't wait for the trip next year.