Category Archives: Just Talky Talk

Out with 2012….In with 2013

This is the obligatory New Years Eve post that I am sure most bloggers will post today or tomorrow.

Let me first recap how 2012 went…..

– I watched 192 different movies this year.
– I read 24 books (down from my usual 45-50 books per year).
– I started a business.
– I got a great part-time job.
– I managed to work a full-time job, a part-time job, volunteer and attend part-time graduate school.
– I visited Savannah for Christmas 🙂
– I kicked up my cooking fun.
– Made a kick ass new friend 🙂
– Stopped drinking caffeine.
– Started this blog!

I know that a lot of people think it is foo-foo to make New Year’s Resolutions.  They call them wishes, hopes, intentions, whatever you call it, it is still a resolution.  You’re not fooling anyone by calling it something else.

Yes, I am aware that I probably won’t keep all of my resolutions 100% but that’s no reason to not try.

In 2013 I resolve to…..

– Complete my graduate thesis (expected no later than April 2013)
– Graduate with my Masters in Forensic Science (expected May 2013)
– Cook more adventurously.
– Be more active.
– Find opportunities to Pay it Forward more.

What about you?  Are you too afraid to make resolutions?  Don’t be a chicken, tell me what they are.  😉

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

– Jennifer

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Product Review – Rachael Ray Oat-Tastically Good Instant Oatmeal

We am spending the holidays back in my hometown of Savannah, Georgia.  It has been great!  One of the good things about being “back home” is all of the food that we cannot get where we live now.  There are certain restaurants that I miss terribly and crave but cannot get in DC.  The problem with that is…..it is SO unhealthy.  In an effort to try and get some semblance of healthy food into my system I went and picked up some oatmeal.  I usually get the no sugar added oatmeal from Wal-Mart but they did not have that option at the Wal-Mart I was closest to. 

While searching for the perfect oatmeal I noticed that there was a new brand.  The Rachael Ray Oat-Tastically Good Instant Oatmeal.  I am only a brand name snob with certain products (ie: toothpaste, shampoo) so I wasn’t necessarily looking for the brand name.  When I noticed that the Rachael Ray brand was on sale and only 20 cents more expensive than they generic, I decided to give it a try.

Rachael Ray Oat-Tastically Good Instant Oatmeal

Rachael Ray Oat-Tastically Good Instant Oatmeal

This morning I had the my first bowl and I loved it.  The apples tasted fresh.  The flavors were perfect.  It wasn’t artifically flavored and too sugary.  

Ingredients:  whole grain rolled oats, whole grain rolld wheat, rolled barley, whole grain rolled rye, evaporated cane syrup, dried apples, oat flour, flaxseed, sea salt and natural flavors.  No artificial flavors or preservatives.

If you like oatmeal I would highly recommend giving Rachael Ray’s Oat-Tastically Good Instant Oatmeal a try!

-Jennifer

Book Review – The Happiness Project

First and foremost, I hope that everyone had a wonderful and safe Christmas.  I had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by family, love and great food, none of which will be posted here because oddly enough I didn’t cook a single thing!  My mom and sister handled that. 

Once in a while I will blog about something other than food.  Today I am blogging about a book I just finished reading.

Photo Courtesy of The Happiness Project

I don’t know about you but as the year ends I tend to reflect on what the past year was like.  What I did well, what I slacked on, what wonderful things happened, and what lessons I learned.  The beginning of a new year is filled with such hope and feeling of new beginnings that reading this book at the end of the year was perfect! 

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin is a realistic attempt to test different happiness hypotheses.  They were manageable and realistic.  I won’t get into the nitty gritty here, because I want you to actually read the book, but it also makes you realize that you too can do the happiness project.

Rubin even provides a resolutions tracking chart, and a guide to beginning your own happiness project so that you too can participate.  For Christmas, Garrett gave me the accompanying One Sentence Journal by Rubin.  It is a 5 year journal where you write one sentence that sums up your day.  It is not to be confused with the gratefulness journal that Oprah talks about, once you read the book you’ll see why it isn’t a gratefulness journal.  I am excited to see what the next 5 years hold and look forward to January 2018, when I can sit down and reread the past 5 years.  What will happen?  What will change?

I bounce back and forth between setting goals and resolutions for the new year.  I have a few ideas and will be posting them on New Years Day.  What about you?  Do you set resolutions?  Do you usually keep them?  What is the wildest one you have ever set?

Until we meet again, I HIGHLY recommend The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for anyone…no literally ANYONE.

Paid It Forward

So today was the day that I planned to Pay It Forward.  I do this from time to time because it is just so much fun and you put some good karma out there, which is never bad.  I’ve always had great experiences doing this and plan to do this as long as I can.

Today I was stuck in traffic for a lot longer than normal.  The McD’s that I usually go to was completely blocked by traffic so I took another route and went to the McD’s closest to work.  At first no one got in the drive-thru lane after me and then one appeared.  They were my Pay It Forward people for the day.  Regardless of their total I would be paying for their breakfast. 

I have to admit that when I first saw the car pull up behind me my first thought was “Oh uh-uh not them.”  Why?  Because it was a huge white Mercedes SUV.  My train of thought was, they obviously have money.  They don’t need the Pay It Forward, they obviously have enough money.

And then I had the following thought process….”How do I know how much money they have?  Just because they have a Mercedes doesn’t mean anything.  What if that was the only thing she got in the divorce?  What if she has no home and actually lives in it?  Her children might be ill and need medical bills paid.  Who am I to say just because someone “has money” they don’t need or even deserve a Pay It Forward.  EVERYONE deserves a Pay It Forward.  What if this is actually a snooty rich person who is mean to people and stingy with their money?  Then wouldn’t they, of all people, deserve a random act of kindness.  Maybe this will turn their heart if they are a jerk.”

So I did it, I paid for their meal and drove off.  I am disappointed that I had the knee jerk reaction to not want to pay for it.  I think maybe this Pay It Forward actually benefited me more than the other person.  Don’t judge by the outside and remember you never know someone’s situation.

Did anyone else Pay It Forward?  If so, comment here and tell us how it went.

-Jennifer

Pay It Forward

As I posted on my personal Facebook page, this was one long week and I am excited for it to be over tomorrow.  So let’s do something fun.  Let’s have tomorrow be PAY-IT-FORWARD FRIDAY.  This means you do something out of the way nice for someone tomorrow and make it so they cannot thank you.  Anonymous Angels if you will.  I usually go through the drive-thru and pay for the person behind me because while they are finding out I am already driving off.  Do something nice for a stranger tomorrow!

Who’s in?  Post in the comments here if you are going to participate and come back tomorrow to let me know how and what you did!

Cannot wait to see how everyone feels!

-Jennifer

 

Oprah’s Not the Only One with Favorite Things Party

My friend and colleague, Leah, hosted an “Oprah’s Not the Only One with Favorite Things” party last night. 

Here’s how it works:

Everyone invited picks one of their favorite things that has a value of $10 or less.  When they come to the party they are to bring 5 duplicates of their favorite thing. 

Each person who brought items places their names in a hat/box 5 times.

One by one, each partygoer stands up and explains their favorite thing.  They then pick 5 names out of the hat/box and those 5 people win that person’s favorite thing.

At the end of the night everyone gives away 5 of their favorite thing and goes home with 5 different favorite things from other people.  The only caveat is that if the total number of people participating isn’t a number divisible by 5 then someone is going to get double of one gift.  I was the one who got the duplicate last night and let me say that it was the best outcome because I got double of this wonderful dark chocolate covered caramel with sea salt.  MMMMMM!

Awesome concept right?  Well not only was it an awesome concept, it was SO much fun. 

Not only did Leah supply us with an evening of fun and friendship we also got to chow down on some amazing food.  Leah loves grilled cheese so she made multiple variations of grilled cheese for everyone along with tomato soup and tortilla soup.  While they were all quite delicious, my favorite was the pear, apple and bacon grilled cheese sandwich.  LOVE! 

It was a fantastic night, with delicious food, great friends and some cool stuff to take home. 

grilledchz

Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Cooking

Some of the group

Some of the group

food

Some of the delicious food

The Amazing Tupper

Now go call your friends and set up your own favorite things party!

-Jennifer

Meal Planning

One of my favorites weekend activities is planning our meals for the week.  Weekly meal planning saves us both time and money.  With a plan we are able to limit impulse buys at the grocery store, and do our best to avoid last minute meal stops at fast food restaurants. 

So how do I do it?  It is SUPER easy and I encourage y’all to give it a shot.

Step 1:  Print my weekly meal planner
Step 2:  NextI think about my week and if there is anything planned or anything going on that would not leave enough time to cook that day.  If there is anything, I add the that to the meal plan.  For example:  Wednesday, Dinner with the Smith’s or Wednesday, Dinner – Eat Out (class)
Step 3:  Then I go through all of my cabinets and fridge/freezer to see what I already have.
Step 4:  Once I find out what I have I try to find recipes that require the ingredients I already have.  I find most of my recipes on Pinterest and the Food Network
Step 5:  I cook enough so that what we have for dinner one night has enough leftovers for our lunch the next day.
Step 6:  I also try to make sure if a recipe calls for an ingredient that I don’t normally keep on hand that I can use it in another recipe.   Let’s be thrifty here folks!
Step 7:  As I go through each recipe I write down the ingredients that I do not have so I can pick them up at the grocery store.
Step 8:  Time for my 2nd favorite thing….GROCERY SHOPPING

You will notice that my printable meal plan does not account for breakfast.  I don’t really “cook” breakfast so I don’t really count it in the planning.  Don’t worry, I eat breakfast.  Usually just cereal.

Make it fun, and try your best to stick to your shopping list. 

If you give this a shot, let me know how it works out.

– Jennifer