IZEA Valentine’s Day Swag Bag

izea swag bagI got a very cool surprise in the mail today.  @IZEA the company that pays me to tweet and blog sent me this very cool swag bag.  The Unicorn is very cool, I will probably keep it as is on display.  The swag bag had all this candy that I shouldn’t be eating anyway, but I enjoyed a few pieces anyway.  Pixie sticks, Wonka’s Fun Dip and Sweet Tarts Hearts, Hershey’s Kisses, chocolate hearts, Tootsie Rolls and I don’t even know what else.  There was also a neat heart-shaped eraser with a smiley face and a heart-shaped stress ball with the @IZEA logo on it.

This swag bag was such a cool surprise.  Thank you IZEA for sending it out to me.  That is so awesome!

izea ball and eraser

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Valentine’s Day is a legitimate cheat day

cupcakes

Since my diet (new healthy lifestyle) began, I have completely sworn off candy, cakes, ice cream, cookies and anything that has a lot of calories and sugar.  I have made adjustments though so I can eat certain sweets as long as they are made out of healthy ingredients like oatmeal, fruit and peanut butter.  I normally have to cover my peripheral vision when walking through the seasonal, ice cream and cookie aisles at the grocery store to avoid temptation, but I have a mental block in my mind that I simply don’t want to eat junk, so I can look at it and not care about it.

Valentine’s Day was yesterday and I went to the store with the intention of buying some junk food because one day is not going to ruin my weight loss progress.  I didn’t find anything that I liked, so I bought the Valentine’s Day disposable cupcake tins with cupcake paper cups with hearts on them and some cupcake sprinkles.  I went to the cake aisle and I was going to buy the sugar free cake mix and frosting, but they we’re both sweetened with Splenda.  Most people would grab those because they have less calories, but I didn’t because Splenda gives me mad cramps in my stomach and I just can’t handle that.  I bought the Duncan Hines white frosting with a packet of Strawberry Shortcake flavor to mix in and a box of Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix.  That made 24 cupcakes.  I gave 1 of the trays to our tenant because they have 3 people living there, so they each got 2 cupcakes.  They were thrilled.

Besides eating cupcakes all day long, which I only had 6 (YIKES I know, right?), I also ate some chocolate covered strawberries which I had to skewer and freeze so I could dip them into Magic Shell chocolate which hardens when it comes in contact with something as cold as ice cream or say frozen Strawberries.  Those were good.  We actually still have a bunch of them in the fridge.

Of course I wasn’t a bad boy all day, I had my regular healthy bowl of cheerio’s with 1 banana and some soy milk for breakfast and my weight watchers frozen dinners for lunch and dinner.  I am allowed to have 3 snacks throughout the day, so I exchanged my healthy snacks for the cupcakes and the chocolate covered strawberries.

My day wasn’t a total bust, I only went over my calorie budget by a little, so I technically still had a good day.  I weighed myself when I woke up and my weight didn’t go up, it actually went down.  Although it will probably take a day before the cupcakes kick in, so I will just have to be extra good until my next cheat day which will be my birthday.  I don’t plan on cheating at all during Easter since I don’t celebrate it despite how much I love Cadbury eggs lol.  I will resist temptation since I have a mental block on it.

Writing on and putting up walls

brick wall

I think as a human being we all have the right to our own happiness, right?  I mean, it’s what I would love to believe.  So when I write something silly or even stupid on my Facebook wall, blog and/or Twitter, I’d like to think that I shouldn’t get criticized or yelled at for sharing random personal information about myself.

When people start talking down to me and I have never even said boo to them, I build walls in my head and they usually never come down.  I like to think that I give people enough chances before I put up this wall.  After 42 years of having people treat me like dirt, the amount of chances a person gets goes down.  You have heard of the three strikes law right?  Well, I used to give people 3 chances.  But then I’ve heard the saying “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”  So screw 3 strikes, if you are rude to me a second time then that’s it, I’m done.  And believe me, when I say to you “I’m done” at the end of an argument, that means I’m finished with you.  I may not unfriend you, but I will remove you from any streams so I can’t see what you are saying and I will restrict you from seeing what I say in the future, that way I don’t give you any chances to be rude to me.

Why is it that people are always rude to me though?  I never say or do anything bad to anyone.  I’m never rude or belligerent with people on purpose.  I don’t tell people how to live their lives, so why do people do that to me?  I don’t get it.  This is my life, I pay the rent, I pay the bills, I buy the groceries, I am who is responsible for my life, not other people, so why do they feel the need to criticize me when I say something that is meaningless to them?  I never talk down to people because who the heck am I to do that to them?  So who the heck are people to talk down to me?  Screw them!  Who needs them anyway?

I have built so many walls that if I were building a house, I would have at least 1 floor of a 2 bedroom house completed.  I’m not joking either.  It sucks that I have to live this way.

I am just venting… sorry you had to see that.

The best sugar-free Strawberry Jam is homemade

homemade peanut butter and strawberry jam

I have been eating peanut butter and jelly/jam since I was a kid, as most everyone has.  We normally buy whatever is the cheapest because of how pricey they are these days.  It never crossed my mind until recently that I could actually make something that I have enjoyed all of my life and it would be not only cheap, but low cal, sugar-free and actually taste good.

I’ve been making my own peanut butter for the last week and it’s been fine, but I didn’t make the strawberry jam until yesterday.  It has sat in our pantry for the last 24 hours because, well, the person in the instructional video said to give it 24 hours lol.  Also, I was kind of afraid of how it might taste.  Why?  Well because I have bought sugar-free strawberry jam and they don’t taste good… at all.  I mean, they’re okay, I guess, but they aren’t great.  When we came home from the movies today I had myself a half of a sandwich, just because I was curious and I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually good.

So I got the recipe from the Ball website, but I had to go to SparkPeople to type in all the ingredients and servings to get the calories and it came up to 2.3 calories per 1 tablespoon, that’s if 1 8oz jar has 16 tablespoons, which according to my food calculator it does.  Although the recipe says that 4 cups of strawberries makes 6 jars, I did the half recipe to make 3 jars and it actually only filled 2, so I had to adjust it for that missing jar and the calories only went up to 3.4 calories per tablespoon.  So at least when you look at it from a caloric perspective, it’s basically just a big bunch of nothing, so eat all you want.

The recipe calls for 4 cups of strawberries, 1 cup of unsweetened white grape juice (which I couldn’t find, all the store had was light which is what I used to calculate the calories) and 3 tablespoons of pectin.  That’s it.  If you made that recipe you’d end up with 4 jars, even though Ball says 6.  4 jars makes 64 servings.

Yesterday I was thinking that perhaps I made a big mistake and that it’s probably not going to taste good at all without any sugar and that I would make the sugar recipe, but it actually tastes like real strawberry, and that is all you can taste.  Real strawberry jam with a ton of sugar is good and all, but you’re not eating strawberries since half of it is pure sugar.  You might as well pour sugar onto your bread.  At least with this recipe you are getting the strawberries.  And you can make it as chunky as you want, or if you don’t want any chunks you can just mash it all up.  Either way it’s the way you wanted to make it.

So yeah, I will never ever buy peanut butter and strawberry jam ever again for the rest of my life.  I am even thinking about making strawberry and banana jam, see how that works out lol.  Can you just imagine how good that would be?  If you figure that the recipe calls for 4 cups of strawberries, just use 2 and 2 cups of bananas.  Mash most of the bananas up, but then cut half of one of the bananas up so you get some chunks.  Although I haven’t tested that theory, but you bet I’m going to lol.  When strawberries aren’t in season I’m going to make some other jams, like maybe peach, apricot, blueberry, blackberry… and whatever other fruits they have that would make a good sugar-free jam.

I love it when I have good ideas that work out.

AVON by Tabitha Vavrick

avon

Do you remember when the AVON lady came to your home with a giant case filled with AVON products?  “DING DONG, AVON CALLING!” was the slogan back then.  Well, although the AVON lady no longer comes door-to-door, you can still enjoy her products via their website.

If you don’t already have an AVON representative, please consider my cousin Tabitha Vavrick.  You might think that AVON must be really expensive, and why should you buy from a website when you can go to your local grocery or drug store, Target or Wal-Mart, well, these are good products and they are cheaper than you might expect.

The huge 24 fl oz bottles of bubble bath in the back are typically $8, but they are almost always on sale, or they have a buy 2 for $10 deal.  That’s the deal I got with this order.  The 3rd one you see is from a previous order, the 2nd one that came with that is currently on the side of the bathtub.

Those 5 fl oz bottles of shower gel that you see are typically about $6.  I know, shocking considering how small they are right?  But get this, I almost always get them on sale for $1.89.  You have to admit that that is a really good price.

Those little 1.7 fl oz bottles of deodorant are typically $1.25 each, but I almost always get them on sale for only .99.  I mean you can’t beat that price.

I haven’t taken a bath since I was 9 years old when I was told that I was too old to take a bath.  I can’t tell you how much I have missed just sitting in the bathtub soaking in the hot water and relaxing my really tense back muscles.  My back pain is from my spinal disease, but sometimes the muscles attribute to some of the pain, and the hot water really helps.

One bottle of bubble bath might last me more than a month and the body wash, believe it or not lasts a few weeks.  You really don’t need that much.  Just squeeze a little bit into your shower sponge and start washing and you will see that it has enough soap to clean your entire body.

The reason I like to buy those deodorants is not just the price, but also because I am so sick of using a “manly” stick.  It’s dry and it rubs and pulls my hair and it just doesn’t feel good.  These roll-on deodorants are wet, but they dry really fast.  They don’t just make them for women, they make them for men too.  In fact, they have a whole section just for men, so I tell you men, don’t be afraid to buy some AVON for yourselves.  Don’t you deserve it too?

Just to note, the total price of all of the products you see in the image, with the exception of one of the bottles of bubble bath, was $21.31 with shipping being $3 and tax $1.82 for a grand total of $26.13.  They almost always have a free shipping coupon code when you buy $30 worth, so if you spend a little more than I did you could get all this and more shipped to your house for free via UPS.

So remember Tabitha Vavrick the next time you are ready to buy some makeup, skin care, bath & body, perfumes and hair care.  They make great gifts too.

Light Strawberry Jam – Ball Recipe

strawberries

I have been on a canning kick lately.  I’ve made my own homemade peanut butter and homemade applesauce and those were a success.  But now for the hard part, sugar-free or low sugar strawberry jam.  As I was Googling the recipe, the first thing in the results was from the Ball website.  It only has 3 ingredients.  Strawberries, Unsweetened White Grape Juice and Ball® RealFruit™ Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin.  That’s it?  Oh well besides 6-8 oz preserving jars of course, which I have.

light sugar strawberry jam nutrition facts SparkPeople has a wonderful recipe calculator which you could use to find out how many calories go into any recipe.  I went there, added all 3 ingredients.  I figured out with an app on my phone that 8 oz is equal to 16 tbsp.  So I went to my calculator and multiplied 16 tbsp by 6 jars and I got 96 servings.  I went back to SparkPeople and typed 96 servings and my jaw nearly hit the floor when it said that each 1 tbsp serving of this jam is only 2.3 calories.  How?

I wanted to make my own sugar-free Strawberry Jam because of how expensive it is in the stores.  Have you seen those prices?  People who are diabetic can’t get a break anywhere.  If you have a special diet, you are going to have to pay a heavy price, and I just won’t do it.  I can’t recall the exact price, but a little 8 oz jar of sugar-free strawberry jam must be like $5 or $6, somewhere around there.  With this recipe, all I need are 2-1 lb baskets of strawberries which is basically what the recipe calls for, 4 cups worth, and right now they are 2 for $4.  So right there I’ve already saved money with just that.  Basically, I bought 1 jar and I am getting the other 5 for free.  Of course I am not counting the pectin which I already have, but that is only 3 tbsp and I’ll need 1 cup of the white grape juice.  If you think about it, the 3 tbsp of pectin and the 8 oz of white grape juice makes up and maybe another 50 cents for that 1 jar.

Why didn’t I ever think of doing this before?  I mean, how can I ever buy strawberry jam again for the rest of my life knowing it is this easy and basically has no calories?  All your calories in a regular jar of Strawberry Jam is from the sugar and high fructose corn syrup or whatever the heck is in your jam.  All my calories are basically from the strawberries and the grape juice and that’s it.

Do I even need to convince anyone besides the price and very extremely low calories?  I can’t wait to make this.

You have the wrong number!

wrong number

You know how maddening it is when you get a new phone with a new phone number and people keep calling you because they still think their friend has that number, but they don’t because they lost it when they stopped paying for their phone.  I have been going crazy since mid-December when I got my new HTC One V from Virgin Mobile.

They don’t call me everyday, but sometimes they do, and it’s always a recording in Spanish.  Since I don’t speak Spanish, I could never figure out what the recording said.  When the recording ended, the phone would go dead.  I didn’t spend too much time waiting for that to happen because it was a long speech every time.

I called the phone number and got a person and asked who they were and they told me they were a school.  I told them what happened and they said they were sorry and they would fix it.  Weeks went by and I continued getting these phone calls every few days, mostly in the evenings, and sometimes twice a day, one right after the other.  I would just hang up and deal with it, and it wasn’t as annoying in the beginning as it was toward the end when I was ripping what hair I had left out of my head.

I called them another 2 or 3 times sometimes almost yelling because I was so frustrated.  They explained that it was an automated system and that they were searching for my phone number, and of course I had to give them my name and number so they could search and call me when they found it and removed it.

The phone rang at 6:30am on Monday morning and woke me out of a dead sleep.  I was FU-RI-OUS!  I tried going back to sleep, but I just lay there fully awake for the next couple of hours.  I didn’t call them until the next day because I didn’t want to end up being too angry and yelling.  After all, it isn’t their fault this is happening, it’s the fault of whoever owned my number previously who never called the school to give them a change of phone number.  When I did call, they already knew it was me before I even told them.  They told me that they have been working hard to find my number and would call me.  I wasn’t angry, in fact I was laughing and I had a smile on my face.

I did figure out how to block that automated number from calling me.  I had to add them to my address book and then hit block, but that only keeps me from hearing the phone ring.  The recording leaves a message so the phone still chimes when I have new voice mail.

The phone rang at 9:20am this morning and it was the school, but it was a live human and not a recording.  They were calling me to tell me that they found my number and were able to remove it from their system successfully, they told me that if I got another call to just call them back and they will find out why.  I can’t tell you how happy I was to receive that phone call.  I was laughing and I had an ear to ear smile.

I got my phone on December 23rd 2012 and today is February 5th 2013.  Why did it take so long to get my number out of their system?  Well, I really don’t care, I am just glad that it is out and I never have to hear recordings in Spanish again.  That is until I have to get a new phone number again.  I better do what I can to keep this phone number lol.