Sunday, March 18, 2018

I Love Publix

Some of you may know or have learned that I am strangely obsessed with Publix grocery stores. When I first moved to Tennessee, I knew I wasn’t going to have my home go-to grocery store, Pick ‘N Save, and that was kinda sad. But it ended up turning out fine because PUBLIX IS EVERYTHING. When I tell you that I am obsessed with Publix, I damn well mean it. I have big love for Publix, and I would be one of those people wearing an I Love Publix apron, sipping from an I Love Publix coffee mug.

Reason #1: Publix has what is called Aprons Simple Meals. What is that? Well, allow me to enlighten you. Usually located not too far from the produce section is a small cooking prep area with a smiling, friendly associate who is cooking up something delightful for you to sample. Sometimes the recipe is dinner, sometimes it’s dinner and dessert, but whatever it ends up being, it is ALWAYS tasty. Second of all, there is a handy dandy recipe card you can pick up. It lists out the ingredients and the recipe you just sampled, including nutritional information.  Most Aprons Simple Meals take about 40 minutes or less to prep and cook from start to finish. Now for me, that’s very do-able on a weeknight. And although there is a featured meal, there’s an entire carousel of recipes to choose from if you want other ideas. Finally (and this is the best part), if you go just around the corner from the meal prep station, you have everything you need to make the recipe RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU! You don’t have to run around all over the store trying to find all of the ingredients! I’m talking veggies, meat, spices, bread, salad, dessert, wine—all the works are right there in this refrigerated little alcove! It’s glorious beyond measure.

Reason #2: Publix has everything you need—their selection is very diverse, and I never leave without something I have to get from another grocery store (I’m looking at you, Kroger!) Even the weird stuff you have never used or knew you needed before. When I come across a weird ingredient I have never bought or have no idea where it is located in the store (cough, cough, capers, leeks, ponzu sauce, barramundi filets), first of all, I Google it to see what it is and what type of packaging it’s in (can, box, or jar) to clue me in as to where I might find it. Then, I jump on the Publix app or website on my phone, and it will tell me what aisle or section of the store that ingredient is located in. One time I was looking for a salad dressing in the dressing aisle (obviously), and I couldn’t find it on the shelves, so I busted out the app and BAM! It was actually located in Produce. HA! How silly of me to look amongst the dressings.

Reason #3: The clubs. The subscription variety, not the booty shaking variety, BTW. You can become part of the Publix Paws, Wine, and/or Baby Club for no cost, and you will receive emails and snail mail flyers with special deals and coupons. Love this! I have learned so much about wine through their wine club emails, featuring specials and new releases, along with educational tidbits and recommendations. 

Reason #4: Speaking of emails, Publix emails out a weekly flyer with coupons you can clip digitally. Basically, you just enter in your phone number at checkout, and your clipped coupons will be activated. You can also save trees by electing to have your store receipt emailed to you, vs. printed out.

Reason #5: Samples. Especially on weekends, there is usually some sort of amazing sampling going on throughout the store, strategically placed in the deli, bakery, and seafood areas in particular. Especially around the holidays. So come hungry, leave happy!

Reason #6: The FOOD. Oh my goodness, if you haven’t had a #PubSub (Publix sub) or wrap from the deli, or even their fried chicken with sides for lunch or dinner, you haven’t LIVED! Their subs and wraps are always fresh and delicious, and you can put whatever you want on them.

Reason #7: Their bakery. I haven’t had a single bad bakery item from there, but their cakes are a favorite at my work amongst my co-workers and myself. Chocolate ganache cakes, cookie cakes, strawberry cakes, cupcakes, you name it—it’s all SO good.

Reason #8: Their customer service. Everyone is super friendly and nice (a la Chick-Fil-A style, minus the “My pleasure.”). They will even load up your shopping cart and take it out to your car and help you load up your car. I always have to fight them to say I will take it out myself! But I love the idea of it for preggo moms, the elderly, and the disabled, who just need a little extra help.  Need to return something? They also make it super easy on you. I had bought the wrong thing and was able to return it without a receipt AND receive cash back, no questions asked.

Reason #9: Their stores all have pretty much the same layout. This is helpful when I am in a hurry or am shopping over my lunch hour, because I know roughly where everything is that I need, so that I can plan my shopping course to be in and out quickly. 

Reason #10: They are festive AF. No matter the holiday, they have you covered with balloons, card, food to match, candy, decorations, etc. Superbowl? St. Patrick's Day? Easter? Fourth of July? ALL COVERED AND SO MUCH MORE.

So if you have never been to Publix, I invite you to visit one as soon as humanly possible, and experience one for yourself. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Meal Prep

This is my fourth straight week of meal prepping for 2018. This year, one of my many goals is I wanted to save more money and eat healthier, and this is the perfect way to accomplish both of those goals. You guys, I have saved SO MUCH MONEY by doing meal prep. I used to go out for lunch every day during the week and spend anywhere between $5-15 just on LUNCH. I took a look at my bank account and went, “DAMN, GIRL! WHAT IS YOU DOING?!?” It really adds up fast. I will be completely honest—the biggest thing holding me back from meal prepping was that it is work. Not necessarily hard work mind you, but it does take an hour or two to accomplish, depending on what you make. I am one of those people who likes to enjoy my Sundays and do a whole lot of nothing before Monday rolls around again (aka lazy—let’s just be real). Meal prep takes time, planning, and dedication. Especially because I have to know what ingredients I already have at home and what I need to buy, as well as if it’s a crockpot meal—I can’t start making it at like 8:30p, only to get up in the middle of the night to finish prepping. Nah, bruh. I started small and simple on the meal prep. Now I have a few different recipes I can put on rotation (with some of my own modifications) that I know are a guaranteed tried and true win. They are:

1. Greek chicken with basmati rice, cucumber salad, chickpeas, mini flat bread, and tzatziki sauce (hummus for a bonus too!): (I didn’t use onions or tomatoes because the onions made my breath so flippin’ ripe, and I hate tomatoes, so I used chickpeas instead. I also just bought tzatziki sauce instead of making it, in the interest of time. I also used chicken tenderloins instead of chicken breasts)

2. Curry tuna salad lettuce wraps with cucumber slices, hard-boiled eggs, almonds, grapes, and apple slices: (I used the following recipe for the curry tuna salad from the America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook: Combine 4-5 cans of tuna (flaked), 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 minced celery ribs, 1 cup quartered red grapes, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 teaspoons curry powder, and ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Scoop ¾ cup over 2-3 romaine lettuce wraps per meal prep container.

3. Shrimp or beef taco meat with corn, black beans, Mexican rice, avocado slices, diced tomatoes, lime, sour cream, and cheese (This one is suuuuper easy—just fry up the ground beef or shrimp in a pan, add the taco seasoning and cook per the directions on the packet, and then just throw the other ingredients into the container with the meat and rice. I used good ol’ Jell-o shot containers for sour cream, snack bags for the cheese (so it doesn’t get soggy), and lime wedges for flavor)

4. Chicken and rainbow veggies and brown rice: (I would actually add even more veggies next time—mushrooms and corn as well! Also used chicken tenderloins instead of breasts)

5. Beef, broccoli, and brown rice: (For the meat, I bought the fajita meat that Publix had, so I didn’t have to cut it up)

If you can devote 1-2 hours to meal prepping your lunches for the week you will save money, eat healthier, and have more time in the morning.  Meal prepping can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Here is some beginner’s advice to get you started:
  1.  The simplest first step you can take is to find some recipes you like and want to try, and pin them on Pinterest. That’s exactly what I did! I have an entire board devoted to lunch ideas. That way, I can try things out at my leisure.
  2. Invest in some good meal prep containers. I like the divided ones, but you can get plastic or glass ones from the grocery store, Target, etc. I bought 10 so that I never run out of them! Also check to see if the plastic ones are BPA free if you will be heating them up in the microwave. It’s also not a bad idea to get some Jell-o shot containers for dressings and sauces.
  3. Make the food! This is the fun part. I always plan to make 6-7 meals per week. This way, if my husband is home, he can try a few as well during the week. And if I have extras over the weekend, this makes a quick Saturday lunch as well.
  4.  Budget your time on Sunday. How long will the prep and cook time take in total? Don’t start cooking too late at night.
  5.  Keep track of what meals you like, and rotate them, so that you don’t get sick of eating the same food all of the time. I like variety!
What are your favorite meal prep recipes?

Friday, January 15, 2016

30 Life Lessons

Well hello there! It’s been a little long while. I know, I know—I have been slacking a bit on the blogging. Life’s been crazy! It’s been over a year and a lot has changed. And I mean, a LOT. I’ve been doing less documenting of life via blogging, and just more…living. Weird, huh? For one thing, I just got back from VACATION in the Caribbean, and it was amazeballs. Also, I am no longer in my twenties—I became a thirty year old on October 30th! That being said, I thought I would share my top 30 life lessons (in no particular order). The wisdom I am about to impart to you is all things I have learned through experience in some way, some are practical, some are weird like me, so I hope you enjoy them!

  1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. When people ask me why I look like I am barely 21 (I get carded everywhere), I am always ready with my classic line, “I moisturize.” But SERIOUSLY, it’s true! I have been religious about it since the 8th grade, when I learned about skincare in modeling school. I stay out of the sun (unless I have SPF 30 or higher on), I don’t go tanning, I don’t smoke, I drink lots of water, and these are all things that keep me looking young.
  2. Don’t go to bed mad. My mom always used to say this to my siblings and I, and it’s true. For one thing, it’s really hard to sleep when you are mad. But life is too short to go to bed feeling mad. What if you woke up and didn’t have the chance to apologize, or worse, you DIDN’T WAKE UP AT ALL.
  3.  Incorporate what you love into your daily life. You love The Walking Dead? Hang up a TWD calendar at work. Love your family and friends? Hang up some pics where you can see them. That way, when you need a little pick-me-up, you are surrounded by them!
  4. Laugh. A lot. I will admit that I laugh about the most random, silly shiggen. My partner makes me laugh every day. I’m weird, and I laugh at weird stuff, but it’s a muscle I work out every day! And (I don’t care how old I get) laughing at farts is something I will never, ever outgrow.
  5. Choose happiness. When you wake up in the morning, and stuff isn’t going your way—you are late, you’re all out of milk, you have a flat tire, whatever—keep in mind that you can CHOOSE to make the best of the situation. Happiness is a choice you make moment to moment, day by day. The more you can see the bright side, the happier you will be.
  6. Indulge! Just buy the thing that is out of your price range if it will make you happy. I dropped some serious dough on a Sleep Number bed this past year, and though it wasn’t easy to part with the cash, it was SO entirely worth it. I thought, well I sometimes have back pain, and I spend ½ my life in bed anyways, so might as well be in extreme comfort. I sleep better, and better yet—my bed has “underbody lighting” so that I don’t disturb my partner in the middle of the night, it is adjustable (raises up and down), it has massage settings, and it’s basically just amazing. I was kicking myself thinking, why didn’t I do this sooner?
  7. Give the gift of your time. Whether you volunteer, take a friend out to lunch, or just listen on the phone, your time is the most valuable thing you can give to someone. Spend it wisely, because in our busy lives, we can only give so much (without burning out). And not everyone deserves your time either!
  8. Remove the negative people from your life. I don’t just mean people with a negative attitude, but those who attract drama to themselves all the time, or have wronged you—perhaps more than once. You don’t need that drama in your life—those happiness suckers. I’m not saying you need to hire someone to kill them, but if they are an emotional drain, or piss you off when you talk to them, then just don’t waste your time or energy on them. Eventually, if they are smart, they will get the hint. Well, hopefully, anyway!
  9. Be open-minded. Try new things. I used to HATE country music. I don’t even really know why, because my grandparents loved it. Well, I liked a few select songs, but when I started listening it on the regular (reggo, as I like to call it), I realized it wasn’t actually all that bad. There is something to be said for not knocking something until you have tried it. Or maybe just enough exposure will make you like it!
  10. Don’t always say yes; don’t always say no. There’s a good balance to maintain your commitments. I have learned if I say yes to everything, I burn out. It’s a bummer to miss some things, but you have to retain your sanity.
  11. Make time for YOU. In this busy world, make time for some alone time. For me, it is going to the gym, getting a facial, pondering life on my work commute without distractions. Self-reflection is important!
  12. Don’t dwell on the past. Use it to learn and move on with your life. If you think always about your regrets or the way things “might have been,” you are depriving yourself of the good things you have in front of you right now. You can’t change the way things were, but you can change the way they will be. You have your whole life ahead of you, and many chapters to write.
  13. Listen to your gut. If you feel a certain kind of way about something, but you can’t really explain it, chances are there is some truth to it. Don’t ignore those gut feelings you have, because they turn out to be right so many times.
  14. Be kind to all. I cannot stress this enough, whether it is the CEO of a company or your waitress. You don’t know the struggles they have been through, and just because someone may not have the most glamorous of jobs, that doesn’t mean you should treat them as less of a human being. Also, before you react out of anger—stop and think about what you are about to say. People will remember your hurtful words, sometimes as long as they live, so don’t say something you might later regret.
  15. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I have this earring tree that holds like 100 pairs of earrings. It got knocked over accidentally by my partner, and earrings and earring backs were literally everywhere—all over the room. Some of the earrings even got broken. But rather than flipping out about the time it would take to re-organize it, or the huge mess or the broken earrings, I took a deep breath, and just cleaned it up. Because you know what? It wasn’t worth the energy to get angry, especially over something that was an accident! And he apologized and helped me locate the earrings. We bonded over me talking about my favorite ones, or where they came from. They were all cheap ones anyways. It’s just stuff!
  16. Take care of yourself. I mean eat healthier, get a little exercise in however you can. Walk. Dance. Move. I started going to the gym about 3 years ago, and wish I would have done it sooner, honestly. It’s hard to get started, but I sleep better at night, have more energy, am more aware of what I eat, I feel stronger, I like the way my body looks, and it’s a bonding experience with my partner, when we can go to the gym together. Don’t get me wrong, I love beer and wine and don’t plan on giving those up anytime soon, but just moderation, as with anything. You only get one health, so don’t throw it away. (I still hate cardio and probably will forever!)
  17. Save some money. Again, something I wish I would have started doing much sooner. Saving money is good for emergency situations. They say you should have about 3 months of your earning put away, but I think it should be wayyyy more than that. You never know what could happen! And I use some of the saved money on fun stuff, but I always replace it. It takes time to build it up, but the cushion is good to have!
  18. Pay your bills first, THEN have fun with what is left over. Unless you want to end up living at your mom’s house when you are 40. I know it sounds cliché, but be responsible with and about your money. After all, Mom isn’t going to be around forever to take care of your broke @$$.
  19.  Learn about another culture. Learn another language. Travel. See the world. It opens your mind and your heart so much. It allows you to experience life from a different perspective and more readily accept the differences of others. Overall, it makes you a more well-rounded and cultured individual.
  20. Don’t be afraid to fail. So many people are afraid of failure. It sucks. It hurts. It costs. But honestly, it teaches you so much. You come out stronger, wiser, and more humbled. Everyone needs a reality check once in a while. I don’t think there is such thing as a life fail. You can always find things to be grateful for.
  21. Tell the people in your life that matter that you love them, and tell and show them often. I wish I had said it more to my grandparents when they were alive. I would give anything to be able to get off work, go pick up my grandmother, and just drive around or go out to eat. Our time on this planet is so short, and life gets so busy that the time just flies and flies. Don’t become too busy to let someone know that you are thinking about them or that you care. A good friend of mine said to me recently that he remembered how I send actual mail to let friends know that I care about them. It’s true—call me old-fashioned, but snail mail is where it’s at. Plus who doesn’t love getting mail?
  22. Be generous. Hint: you don’t need to be rich to do this. Be generous with your time, your love, your happiness. It’s a good feeling to give to others in whatever way you can, and see them smile and brighten their day. Who wants to hang around selfish people who only care about numero uno? Or spend all of their time and money on themselves? Those are the people who end up alone and unhappy in life, full of regret.
  23. Give a crap about something. Have convictions, have beliefs, in whatever that may be! Don’t just agree with what everyone else says and go with the flow like a brain-washed cotton-headed ninnymuggins. Stand up for what you think in your heart is right, even if your voice is singular or unpopular.
  24. Don’t worry about what other people think about you. I have made my peace with this, and let me tell you—it has not been easy or fun. Everything you say, everything you do is going to be judged by other people who don’t even have the faintest idea about who you are. So let those haters keep on creeping on your social media, trying to piece together a you that they’ve built up in their own mind. Don’t worry your pretty little head about them. They’re just jealous and insecure about their own lives.
  25. Be a good communicator. I cannot stress this one enough, especially being a communication major. Listen well—that means putting your mobile device down and making eye contact with the person you are talking to. Let them know you care by being engaged, and acknowledge what they are saying—even if you don’t agree with it. When problems arise in your relationships, talk them out. Don’t play games—talk about how you feel and why. Don’t make someone guess that you are mad at them. And if there is ambiguity about things, clear it up, explain yourself.
  26. Be you. Stay true to yourself. If the friends you are hanging around or the person you are romantically involved with doesn’t like you for who you are, in all seriousness, they can go—there’s the door, don’t let it hit you on the booty on your way out. Don’t let anyone change who you are so that they can be happy. Don’t ever lose the things that make you who you are—those things that make you a weirdo. After all, nobody is a better you than you. And there is someone out there who thinks you are perfect just the way you are. Remember, a lion doesn’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.
  27. Always have something to look forward to. I am a planner, always planning the next get-together, the next vacation, etc. Having stuff to be excited about is always fun, whether it is hanging with a friend, going somewhere, or trying something new.
  28. Never stop learning. I loved school, and even today I love learning new things that I can turn around and teach someone else, which is why being a trainer is such a good fit for me career-wise. Whatever you are interested in, whether it’s architecture, animals, video games, history, food, or zombies…go learn more about it! (I will be one of those 90 year old ladies getting her 4th doctorate). Every person you meet knows something you don’t!
  29. Make a BAMF LinkedIn Profile and keep that shiggen up to date. If you make it REALLY good, then you only need to update it once in a while. Grow your network, make it fun and entertaining, and for goodness sake, do not make it a repeat or regurgitation of your resume. Have a professional pic of just you (no nudity, beer, drugs, costumes, questionable life choices, husbands, wives, children, pets, friends, etc.), use keywords, have a decent summary, and add some skills on there. Get some recommendations from former bosses also (assuming you haven’t burned those bridges). You just never know when your dream job is going to come around knocking. Hey, I got my last few jobs from LinkedIn recruiting, so that’s pretty promising!
  30. Take risks. I’m not saying parachute out of a 350 story building (cuz that’s flippin’ cray) but I mean—if you get a great job offer at another company, or you want to travel the world while you are young—just do it! There are some regrets I have of not doing things, and I would rather have taken the risk and had the experience!
You made it to the end! Wow, you are a trooper--thanks for reading! That’s all I have for now…and the list will continue to grow. Any others you would add? J