Notre Dame….without the destruction

With the recent destruction and devastation that occurred in Paris last week, I thought I would share my photos of our visit to Notre Dame Cathedral.  I had planned to share this photos anyway, but I had planned to post in the order of the things that we did each day.  Notre Dame was one of the last places that we went to during the trip.  But alas, I’m going to the pictures share sooner and I will show the others in future post.

20190326_13301720190326_133021

The outside of the cathedral was beautiful.  The detail even around the doors.  There are “faces” of all types of saints molded into the arcs.  It was so beautiful.

P3260127P3260128P3260129P3260130

There were several statues of different saints inside the cathedral; I decided to take pictures of two that I knew: Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc.

20190326_134647

20190326_134505P3260148

There was this long display of all of the times that Jesus appeared doing His works.

20190326_135207

P3260152P3260153P3260154

This is the cross that they were able to salvage from the fires.  I was sitting in the pews when I took that photo. 

20190326_141650

Other shots from the congregation area.

P3260173P3260176P3260175

The stained glass in this place was amazing.  I wish I had of taken more pictures. 

20190326_134547

20190326_141701

P3260142P3260143P3260155

There was an opportunity to go into a treasure room.  I don’t know if there are more than one of those rooms, but we were in this one.  There were so many treasures inside, and I attempted to read/interpret as much as I could; but I just took pictures of things that looked interesting.  I hope all of this survived the fire.

P3260156P3260157P3260158P3260161

This picture was really interesting.  I can’t remember exactly, but this was a statue made after a priest was persecuted and eventually killed because of his believes.  This is him holding his head symbolizing like him not being separated from the church.   There are other things on all sides at the top, but I can’t remember what they are and the glare is keeping me from seeing.  I apologize for that, but I do remember how “tripped out” I was upon reading the story.

P3260164P3260167P3260166P3260168

Of course there were tons of other statues, confessionals, and places where you could light a candle and pray for someone/something.

P3260169P3260141P3260170P3260145P3260171

Leaving the cathedral, we were amazed at how massive it looked even being close to a block away from the entrance.  There is also the spire that was seen collapsing on news reports.

20190326_14230620190326_142309 I have more photos, but I figured I needed to end this post at some point.  Babydoll and I were talking about it last week.  We said when they rebuild; we hope they are able to convey the history – with it being new, hopefully it won’t look new. 

Until next post, which will probably be about the desserts that I make for Easter dinner – I’m hosting dinner for my family.

signature_thumb

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Just Living

Bonjour, Mon Amie!

Yep, we did it, we went to Paris.  It was something that we had been wanting to do for awhile, and my husband found out that our city recently started having direct flights to Paris that aren’t terribly expensive.  So last year around Christmas he announced that we were going to Paris for Spring Break. 

I would like to point out that although our city now has direct flights to Paris, we did not get one of those direct flights.  This may have been because my husband has a habit of waiting until a couple of weeks before we are going to make a trip before he actually books the trip.  I cannot seem to get him to move any faster than that on vacation plans and after over 20 years together, I don’t trip on it anymore.  I just wait for the confirmation email so that I can know what date and time we are leaving.

Before we left, there were all sorts of opinions shared about the city, the most prevalent ones were that the city is dirty, the people are rude, and there are pick-pockets everywhere so be on the look-out. I’d like to talk about them.

Lets address the first – the city is dirty.  The city was no more dirty than any other major city throughout the US.  It was not different than New York or Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Unless you consider the beautiful old buildings and cobblestone streets that speak to the history of the country as dirty, then I’d say that is an inaccurate statement.

 20190325_172329

The second thing that was said was that the people are rude. I speak a little bit of French, and understand a little bit more.  Babydoll is currently in her third year of French; and I had seven years of French, (but if you don’t use something you really do lose it) I can piece together what to say and what is being said; but we aren’t fluent by any means.  Having said that, we never encountered any rude Parisians.  Once they figured out that we were not fluent if they could speak English, they were all too happy to converse with us.  My husband insisted that we use Uber to get around if we couldn’t walk.  If our drivers did not know English it was usually a quite ride, but they were never rude.  We even had one driver use a Google app to allow us to converse with her and she with us.  Keep in mind it is a busy metropolitan city and it’s fast paced, not unlike New York or Chicago; so there was no stopping on the street for a friendly chat and they just walked past you to get to where they were going.  Although occasionally you would run across some elderly people strolling down the street having discussions and enjoying the day or walking their dog.

20190324_144633

20190324_144634

Pickpockets…..we didn’t encounter them.  I can’t said that I could attribute that to use or the lack thereof; but we didn’t run into anyone shady.  My husband and I both grew up in the inner-city what we call “the hood”, and because of that we are very mindful and watchful of our surroundings all the time.  Between the two of us and what we have tried to instill in Babydoll, you gotta be really good to get one over on us.  It may happen one day, but as of my 46 years on this earth, it has not happened yet. 

20190323_173044

There were tons of street vendors around the Eiffel Tower, but even while we were in awe of the magnificence of the structure , we weren’t messed with.  They wanted you to buy, buy, buy as you were coming and leaving and that was about it. 

I loved the city and I wish I had of had more time there; and I’m totally looking forward to going back.  I can’t wait to share more pictures and stories in the upcoming weeks.  Until next week,

signature_thumb

2 Comments

Filed under Just Living

Just a little caramel

This past Christmas and every Christmas, my parents hosted the family brunch – usually the Saturday before Christmas.  This allows their offspring and their offspring to be able to fulfill any in-law obligations without stress.  Between me and my siblings, our spouses and children and in some cases their children there are over 20 of us.  We have aunts and uncles and cousins that come as well.  It’s times like that when my parents 4000 sq. ft. house makes sense.  I’m straying off topic – and it’s early in the blog.  Ok…focus.  My parents had us over for brunch and one of the desserts that was made was a Caramel cake.  My mother had been asking me to make her a caramel cake for a while, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it and there have been so many request from her that come in, that I didn’t prioritize the caramel cake.  I guess she got tired of waiting on me, so they (my father made the cake and she made the caramel) made the cake.  My Babydoll loved the cake and has been on me for a minute to make her a cake.  Recently, I decided to make the cake, but with a twist – I was making cupcakes. 

P3190072

Cupcakes are so much easier to deal with and a lot easier to distribute.  The key with these cupcakes is finding a way to include the delicious caramel filling into a cupcake.  I decided to poke holes using a kebob skewer and allow the caramel to seep into the cupcakes that way. 

20190317_153146

I was thinking that I should leave the cupcakes un-iced and let the caramel goodness speak for itself, but esthetically they weren’t very pretty.  I had some caramel sauce left over,

20190317_153200

so I added about 1 cup of powdered sugar to it and whipped like my live depended on it, then quickly spread it on the cupcakes. 

20190317_154925

Why was I quickly spreading the icing on the cupcakes you ask?  Because if you have ever worked with a caramel icing, you know that it sets quickly. 

When it was all said and done, I had these amazingly delicious caramel cupcakes. 

P3190073

P3190071

I gave two to my parents to compare with the awesome cake they had made for Christmas.  My mother told me that she ate hers and was giving my father 24 hours to eat his, or she was going to assume he didn’t want it and she was going to eat it.  Smile  My Babydoll was very happy with the outcome, although she was very hesitant at first.  

The recipe for the cake is a basic yellow cake recipe that I use for most yellow cakes that I got from blog I used to frequent regularly, but haven’t had a chance to look at recently – iambaker.com.  The caramel recipe is one that I use with an Apple Caramel cake that I usually bake in the fall.  The caramel portion of the recipe is so easy  and good that I use it whenever I need caramel.  I prefer it to cooking sugar, then adding cream or standing over a pot until the caramel comes to the perfect temperature using a candy thermometer.   I hope you guys enjoy it.  If you have an easy caramel recipe, please share it; I’m always up for trying something new and my family and friends will thank you for it. 

signature_thumb

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking

Planner Spread for Week of 4/1/2019

Hey guys,

So sorry to have been MIA for the last few weeks, there has been a lot going on and I will be telling about it soon.  Today, I’m going to show my planner spread for this week.  Now, I had said before that I was going to show my planner spread each week, but had not been doing so mostly because getting the picture before I start writing in it has been something that I have forgotten to do.   So without further ado here is the spread.  It’s April so I wanted to flower it up (even if we had snow on Saturday after having sun and 60 degrees on Friday).

P3310206 

P3310205

I’ll hope to have something more later this week.  Until then, have a great week.

signature_thumb

Leave a comment

Filed under Planners

New Clothes For Me?

Recently in my weight-loss journey I have come to the point where my clothes are starting to be a bit too baggy. The majority of my dress slacks are pretty expensive because of my long legs (I’m not super tall – only 5’10.5” – but I have long legs – 36” inseam). For my good slacks I’ve spent ~$100 per pair, therefore, I’m not throwing these out. I will have them altered when the time is right. But when is the right time? That’s the dilemma that I am currently dealing with. I still need to keep my dress standards the same while at work, I like to look good even when I’m working in the lab. I looked at myself in the mirror while in the restroom at work and thought, “Girl, you look frumpy. Those clothes are too big.” I have worn this outfit before, but not since my weight loss has begun to show.

Some people would say, that now I should begin purchasing new clothes. The thing is, I still have at least another 20lbs to lose before I get to my real goal weight. Because of this, I don’t think buying new clothes is something I should be doing, at least not a significant amount of money on new. So, what do I do?

I went to my mother for advice, because she has recently lost a ton of weight. It was due primarily to a horrible reaction to the prescribed medicine that she had after her first knee replacement and her inability to eat anything for 2-3 weeks. She told me of her clothing transition due to weight loss. Her first suggestion is to get rid of the items that are too big, unless I plan to go back to that size. Hello, I have spent $100 on 1 pair of pants. I only take them to be dry cleaned and are meticulously taken care of….I’m not giving them away. I’ll have them altered, but not give them away.

The second thing she recommended, was to wear clothes that are supposed to be looser or straight. Things that have stretching possibilities. She said that I should purchase things that are not too pricey – things on the clearance or sale rack. I’ve thought about this a lot, looked in my closet to see what is in there that fits that description, and I think this is the route that I’m going to take. I’m going to wear more tunic dresses,

clip_image001

clip_image002

the maxi and midi dresses that I own, leggings (if I can find shirts and more kimonos that appropriately cover my hips),

Image result for leggings with tunic

skirts,

clip_image003

Image result for pencil skirt with boots

and pants that have elastic waistbands.  I’m thinking I’ll look for the inexpensive items at Marshall’s, TJMaxx, Amazon, and even Meijer (don’t sleep on Meijer y’all, I’ve found some really cute skirts, maxi dresses, and shirts there).  I also have to keep in mind that I don’t want to get too many things, because I’m transitioning and may end up getting smaller than my current size (hopefully).

Wish me luck guys in my search.  My goal is to continue to keep myself classically trending while I slim down.  I welcome any advice you may have and I welcome all stories of someone else’s weight loss journey.  Until next time.

signature_thumb

Leave a comment

Filed under Just Living

Another Goal Part 2….Finances

Last week I talked to you about setting and keeping to a budget.  This week I’ll continue with my Financial goal discussion.  So, I’ve set up the budget planner.  Another thing I decided to fix was my credit card and medical bill debt.  I had a major surgery back in 2015.  This surgery was supposed to be a 24 hour thing.  I have the surgery and the next day I go home and recuperate for 6 weeks and go on with my life.  We calculated the cost of the surgery and how much my insurance would cover and what I would owe afterwards.  I paid the balance 3 days before I went in to surgery.  It turns out that major surgery that was supposed to be a 24 hour thing ended up being a REALLY MAJOR surgery that required an extra 3 hours in surgery, an extra surgeon and an extra 6 days in the hospital.  As a result the money that I paid to cover my balance was not enough and it ended up costing another $5000.  Oh yeah….they didn’t tell me about those additional charges until a year later.  I began making payments on that bill in March of 2017 and will probably finish up by March of 2020; unless I find a way to kill this.  I also spent some time with a physical therapist because of some back pain.  This turned out to be a ~$700 bill.  I tell you, I’m over medical bills. 

I can’t begin to tell you what my credit card debt is/was.  It’s not that it’s super high, I just hadn’t figured out what it is/was.  I was offered a line of credit with a low interest rate so I took the opportunity to figure out the bills that I could easily take care of with the line of credit and those that weren’t going anywhere anytime soon – car payment, student loans (yep, I still have them), a high interest credit line with an unreal balance (I don’t want to talk about it), and medical debt.  I then looked at the balance of my credit cards and calculated what my total monthly payments to those lines of credit were.  I then looked at what a monthly payment for the line of credit would be if I used it to pay off the credit card debt.  I could do it and have some money to spare.  There were a few things that I knew would be paid off in a year or less, so I didn’t include them in the credit card debt – these included a line of credit from Paypal and the medical bill from my surgery.  Looking back, I should have included the surgery bill balance.  I spend $129/month on that bill, I could have paid it off and the extra expense to my loan payment would have been less than $30.  I wasn’t thinking on that one and missed the ball; I was only looking at the total monthly payment and what it would be and not how much it would be saving.   I tell you I had regretted that decision almost everyday until about a week ago.  I hope to tell you about that, but I don’t want to get side tracked.  I’m talking abut paying off credit card debt right now.  I was approved for the loan, and I paid off 85% of my credit card debt in January.  I can’t tell you how freeing it was to get an email from CreditKarma each time something was paid off.  It made me so happy and proud.  I know you are wondering why I said 85% and not 100%.  There were a few bills that I made purchases on after I got the loan payment – 1) was because my husband returned some items that I purchased for him for Christmas and what he exchanged it for was more than what I spent, so I ended up paying more; 2) I wasn’t sure what the balance was going to be on a charge and I estimated incorrectly; and 3) Zulily ended up having a great deal on New Balance one event and I had been looking at New Balance sneakers as a replacement for my gym and walking shoes, they have a plan with their credit cards where you can pay it off in 3 payments and I opted for that option – I’ll have that paid off this month.  The others will be paid off in two months.  It sounds bad even as I write this, but I’m telling you, I’m not sliding down that slope.  It will be done.  I will be credit debt free by May.  

A quick note about my surgery bill.  I first have to tell you about my student loans.  I am paying that loan on an income based repayment plan that I have to resign up for every year around the same time.  At the end of the year, I filled out my paperwork and submitted it and waited to see if I was approved and what my payment would be.  I was totally nervous, because I truly couldn’t afford for it to go up any more.  I’m in pay off mode, I can’t add any extra!  I got a response back in January saying that I was approved, but it did not tell what the payment would be.  I kept going back to my account to see if they would tell me and I got nothing.  Finally last week and got an email saying that I was approved and my payment starting in March would be…….wait for it……$0.00.  WHAT!!!!!  Thank you Jesus!!!!  Won’t he do it!  I now had $195 that I had budgeted for that I no longer had to pay.  Before you thing think I’m going to use that money to go crazy every month, think again.  I’m in pay off mode.  I have decided, that I’m going to divide that money up three ways.  $100 will go towards my surgery bill (Yep!!!! I’ll explain it in a minute), $50 going towards the student loan principle, and $45 will go into savings.  The months that I’m short, I won’t make a student loan payment or savings deposit; but I will always make the extra surgery bill payment.  You want to know why?  Because by paying the extra $100 each month, I can pay off that bill by September.  I no longer regret not adding that bill to my pay off loan.  Because it would have been an extra $30/month for 3 years instead of being done with the bill completely in 6 months.  I tell you God has a plan for you; you can’t always or even most of the time see it, but if you trust Him, He won’t stir you wrong.  This entire pay off loan was God driven.  I had rejected the idea of this type of loan for over a year, but kept asking God to guide me in how to move forward with my finances.  This offer kept coming up and I kept deleting the email.  He started yelling at me to take this opportunity at the end of the year.  I had to move on what He was telling and I’m so glad I did. 

Ok, lets talk about my savings plan.  I have 3 savings accounts.  Yeah, you read that right, 3 savings accounts.  The first is my primary savings that get $5 auto deposited every Friday and any purchases I make with my debit card is rounded to the next dollar and the difference is deposited into the primary account.  The second account is actually the “checking” account for my dba.  I typically deposit $10 each pay period.  The final account I have is something that I started a couple of years ago.  It is based on the $.25 savings challenge.

image

I usually double the amount because I use half of it for my daughters 529 College Savings plan that I deposit a certain amount every month, then deposit the remaining balance earned by the end of the year.  The first year that, I ended up spending those savings on my fur-baby Sasha Fierce, because of course there has to be some type of emergency that takes your savings when you’ve accomplished a milestone.  Sad smile  I started that savings all over again last year and was able to keep the savings intake (if I took from it, I put it back in asap). 

The primary savings account is used when I’m running low in my checking account.  I try to keep a minimum of $100 in there at all times.  Not to say that I only have $100 in there; I’m saying that when it gets low I move things around when I get to $100. 

I think the $45 from student loan that I’m going to put into savings I should alternate between my dba savings and my $.25 savings.  That way I can build up both of the accounts.  

So that’s the gist of my financial goals.  Like I mentioned in the previous post, I plan on checking in with you guys about the progression of my goals.  I hope that I remembered everything in my post.  I’m going to be honest, I started this on day and finished it on another.  Part two was started on the same day that part one was written, but was finished a couple days later.  Some of my thoughts may have been lost in the wayside.  Having said that, if you have a financial goal that you are working on this year, comment below.  It would be great to hear of someone else’s journey.  If you have a suggestion for something that you are doing that has worked for you, let me know.  I’m always open to suggestions.  Until next time.

signature_thumb

Leave a comment

Filed under Just Living

My Third Goal

This weeks post is going to focus on another goal that I set for myself this year – taking better control of my finances.

The first thing I should mention is that I have always established a budget and for the most part I follow it.  Scratch that, I have always kept track of what I needed to spend money on and how much money I have to spend.  I usually sit down to do that every week on payday.  I have written out a budget, but I don’t usually keep to it strictly.  I tend to pay very close attention to what I spend weekly, but never look at the month and how I did as a whole.  Does that make any sense?  Ok, this is what one of the sheets that I create every week on payday looks like.

P3020063

Part of my goal is to go from that, to using a monthly budget sheet, checking in weekly to see how I’m doing, and at the end of the month do a review and see where I’ve succeeded, where I’ve failed and how I can improve.  Additionally, I want to save more – save for my Babydoll’s education (I have a 529 Savings plan, but I need to add more to it), save for things I want to do in the future, save to have a nice emergency fund (a real one – the one they say you should have but most people don’t).  Finally, I would like to get my credit card and medical bill debt to be gone.  I just feel like a lot of my income goes to those two areas and it hinders me from saving and spending my money the way I want to.  This is the year that I have set the goal to establish a habit of budgeting effective and efficiently. 

I’ve been looking online, watching YouTube videos, looking at books all in a attempt on what could possibly work for me.  Something that I can do and stick to.  I need to also have a way to be made accountable.  I read that it is a good idea to have a financial buddy.  Someone that you sit down with every few months to go over what you have been doing, are you sticking to your budget, where you stand with your goal, etc.  The thing is, I don’t have anyone to do those things with.  I have friends that are either keeping track with their husbands, or they’re not keeping track.  You’re probably wondering why I don’t do it with my husband?  We discuss our household budget, this is my personal budget and financial goals.  I guess, I’ll use this blog to be my financial buddy.  You guys can keep me honest and accountable.  I’ll check in every few months and let you know what I’ve been up to, how I’m doing with my financial targets, where I’m succeeding and failing. 

I had started the new year (and the ending of last year) with a mini Happy Planner trying to establish it as my budget planner.  I couldn’t find the mini budget extension pack to save my life. So I went about trying to find another way to establish my monthly budget.  I used an Excel spreadsheet that I had used previously, but found I wasn’t recording my transactions until the next week that I needed to set the budget. 

image

I had the large budget extension pack pages, and used that to keep a record of my daily transactions.  I got lazy and stopped writing down the transactions around the end of January.  I needed to do better.

P3020064

One day while at Hobby Lobby, I found these small budget sheets. 

P3020062

I liked the way they looked and decided to use them in my mini “budget planner”.  Of course I couldn’t figure out how to insert it in to an established planner layout.  I needed something different.  During a planner meetup, someone talked about her monthly Happy Planner.  I had been thinking that I wanted a monthly spread and then a place to write out my budget; then a place to review it all.  I have begun to watch Shay Budgets on YouTube and her Erin Condren planner that she uses as her budget planner was similar to what I wanted.  Research revealed that the monthly Happy Planner would work for me. 

P2260050

Last week, I went to JoAnn’s to see what if I could find a monthly planner and luck was on my side!  I found one and it was clearanced out for ~$8!  I set it up like this for the month. 

P2260051P2260052

I decided to keep the pages that I got from Hobby Lobby because I like the look of them. 

P2260055

I like that I can keep track of things monthly and weekly. 

P2260056P2260057

I’ve decided to look for the same pages in a larger version so that it will fit in my new planner.  I’m going to figure out how to use the “Daily To Do” and “Notes” pages.  I’m going to use the goal page and the progress update page. 

P2260058P2260059P2260060P2260061 

Ok…this post has gotten long enough and I’m not through with all I’ve done and am going to do in this financial journey.  I’m going to continue next week with those things in my next post.  As usual, I welcome your comments and suggestions.  Until next week.

signature_thumb

Leave a comment

Filed under Just Living