All posts by soñadora

About soñadora

wife. daughter. sister. mom (to a pup...). teacher. profesora. photographer. friend.

Sunset.

Sunset.

It’s almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream. ~ Bern Williams

Sometimes you have a day, or several of them, when you just have no idea what on earth you are doing or why things are the way they are. Spend 10 minutes watching the sunset. Let it bring peace to your day, knowing that you survived it, no matter how crazy it was. Let it give you hope that tomorrow will be another day. Dream about the future, because tomorrow, you can make it happen.

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Lunches made simple

I am NOT a morning person.  Which doesn’t really mesh well with the whole teacher gig.  So, I work really hard to make my mornings as easy as possible for myself.  If I wake up around 9, I can be showered and out the door by 9:45.  If I wake up at 5:30, I’m lucky to be out the door by 7.

So, about 3 years into teaching and waking up way before the crack of dawn, I decided I needed to stop attempting to throw a lunch together in the morning.  I started planning a bit in advance and now spend about 20-30 minutes on Sunday prepping lunches for the week, which literally makes it a “grab-and-go.”  Oh, and they are healthy AND delicious! Win!

All you need to get started are these Ziploc (or any brand) plastic containers (with 3 sections):

Click to find them on Amazon!

These are surprisingly durable and last a long time.  And they do not leak! (As long as you make sure to press the seal down tightly and they aren’t too old, sometimes they warp slightly after a while.)  I put them in my bag on their sides every day and have never had a problem!  I do hand wash them, so that probably helps.  We bought enough so we have one for each day of the week, that way we don’t have to make more lunches mid-week.

Ingredients:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrot mix (or whatever your veggies of preference are)
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Dressing
  • Lunch meat of choice
  • Fruit (we typically go with grapes or oranges, something that will last the week without browning or going bad).
  • Optional: hard boiled eggs

The key to simplicity is to buy the bag of pre-cut broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.  We used to chop stuff ourselves but when we found this bag at Sam’s Club for about $6, it was just as expensive and PRE-CUT! Whew.

We lay out our 10 lunch containers and start throwing stuff in!

We put the main salad in the large part – I put the lunch meat in the smaller section and then the fruit in the larger section.  My hubs does the opposite because he wants more protein.  We used to add hard-boiled eggs (with the shell on, peel them when you are ready to eat) but found we didn’t have time to eat them during our 20 minutes of *sometimes* uninterrupted lunch and we weren’t really that hungry after eating everything else.  We also used to use cherry tomatoes but they got super expensive so we decided to just load up on everything else.  But obviously, you can use any veggies here.

Finally, once they are all stuffed to the brim with food, we add a small fork.  These cheap-o forks are from Sam’s Club as well.  Yes, we bought 800 of them because they fit so nicely into our containers:

Slap the lids on them, and voila! Lunches are made for the week.  The hard part, is now finding room in the fridge.  We save one crisper drawer for some and then manage to squeeze the rest elsewhere.

So, in the morning, I grab my lunch, put dressing on, and go.  If you work somewhere with a fridge, keep dressing there and you can skip that step as well!

I cannot tell you how much this process has made my life easier! No more complaining about lunches in the morning! No more grabbing a granola bar or PB&J to hope it lasts me through the day. These are healthy, filling, and delicious!

The total cost to make 10 lunches is:

  • Spinach = $5
  • Veggie mix = $6
  • Lunch meat = $12
  • Fruit = $4-6
  • Total = $29 /2 people / 5 days a week = $2.90/lunch.  Throw dressing in there and make it an even $3.00. Worth it.
  • *We buy all of our produce at Sam’s Club. You may be able to find it cheaper (well, not buy as MUCH anyway) but it’s just easier for us.  Then we use the extra spinach and veggies as sides with our dinner during the week.

I dare you to try it for a week, you’ll be hooked.  And when you get tired of salad, there are a ton of other things you can try.  Sometimes we do stuffed pitas, chicken salad, or just regular sandwiches.

If you try it, let me know what you think! (And don’t be too jealous of my amazing green counters. )

Detoxing, Day 2.

I survived day 2, barely.  I have never really felt hungry, in fact I am not doing the “snack” smoothie as the dinner portion is usually enough for about 26-30 oz so I can make almost two full smoothies from it.  The one thing I have had is an intense urge to chew.  Especially around dinner.  I could have eaten all of the ingredients on my own, but having to drink them was a challenge.  As I was cutting up the mango and avocado, there is a good chance I snuck a bite, or two.  🙂 But  I still drank my smoothie.

My husband is really trying to do this along with me but it is not his thing.  He is drinking the smoothies but eating some stuff as well – as long as I’m not around to yell at him 🙂

One thing I wanted to share was in addition to the smoothies, I also made a flavored water to drink along with them.  I adapted this from this recipe on Skinny Ms’ Website.

I took a large pitcher of water, added 1/2 of a grapefruit cut into chunks and about half of a cucumber.  I made this the day before we started so that it would have a nice flavor the next day. It is wonderful! I can see myself making this on a regular basis.  It is really lightly flavored.  The recipe called for more ingredients that I didn’t really have on hand and didn’t feel like going out to buy.  I didn’t add ice because I just kept it in the refrigerator so that it would stay cold.  I made 2 pitchers full and this is all that is left after day 2, so I think it is the perfect amount for 2 people for 3 days.   Even though it’s January, this would make a great water to keep on hand in the summer, refreshing, lightly flavored, all natural, and delicious! 

Almost done!

New Year’s Detox

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014!  Who doesn’t start off January 1st saying they are going to do all of these wonderful things – eat healthier! – exercise more! – be a better wife/friend/sister… whatever.

Personally, I think New Year’s Resolutions are crap.  I’ve never done them and honestly – with being a teacher – find it easier to start “End of the school year” resolutions because I am significantly less stressed in June than in January.

Well, back in October I read about Dr. Oz’s 3 day cleanse and thought I wanted to try it. Not so much because I wanted to lose weight (although that would be a perk!) but I feel totally addicted to sugar.   Especially around the holidays, I have been eating so many sugary products that I just crave it constantly.  The only problem is it is 3 days and because they revolve around having 4 smoothies a day, I can’t exactly do that at school.  So, I kept waiting for a 3 day weekend – Thanksgiving wouldn’t cut it, so I decided after Christmas would be a good time to do it.  I just put it off until January 2nd.

Because my husband keeps complaining he needs to lose weight I convinced him this is a great way to kick start.  I went to the store and bought all of the ingredients – total of $90.00.  Which means it is about $15/day per person.  I did take some shortcuts (which I will describe) but overall stuck to the list.  Dr. Oz makes it pretty idiot proof because he makes a great checklist:

Dr Oz’s 3 Day Detox Cleanse

So, I am half way through day one.  The breakfast shake was amazing.  I usually drink a fruit smoothie for breakfast so it wasn’t much of a change from my normal.  The changes I made were:

  1.  Sub Blueberries for Raspberries: I bought a large 6 lb bag of frozen blueberries at Sam’s Club because the fresh ones weren’t looking so great, being January and all.
  2. I am going to cut way back on the Stevia – I used the 1 tsp  in the breakfast detox tea but could probably get away with using none.
  3. Sub Limes for Lemons: At Sam’s it was $6 for a bag of lemons and $3 for a bag of limes.  So, being cheap, I just bought a big bag of Limes, I didn’t need both, and am subbing lime for anywhere that it says “lemon” in the ingredients. Had I done my shopping at a normal grocery store, buying both wouldn’t be an issue.

After the breakfast shake, I got hungry about 3 hours later.  The lunch shake reminds me of gazpacho without tomatoes.  It is pretty much like a salad smoothie, but it isn’t horrible.   Definitely less exciting than the breakfast smoothie!  I stuck to the recipe but instead of plain pineapple I used another frozen blend of Blueberries, Strawberries and Pineapple.  The nice part about frozen fruits is it makes the smoothie colder – since you aren’t adding any ice.  Plus its easier to prep – and I’m all about easy and quick! Here is a picture of the Lunch smoothie – I forgot to take a picture of the breakfast one – I will do that tomorrow!

Lunch smoothie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, that’s where I stand right now!   I am pretty sure I can handle this for 3 days, but I’ll keep you posted… 🙂

 

The day I got rid of Cable.

I have been a Comcast cable viewer for decades. From the 1990s until 12.14.2013.  I have put up with years of frustration of signing up for a ‘promotion’ and then forgetting to call back 6 months later and seeing my bill skyrocket from insane to unimaginable.

No more.

The last few years we watched our bill for the triple play (internet, phone, cable) bounce from the $120s to the $140s.  I would call, threaten to switch to Direct TV (the only other option where we live), and they would magically reset our promotion for another 6 months.  It was a pain and a waste of my valuable time.  So, when the not-so-nice customer service rep offered to reset my price because “cutting cable all together is a very drastic decision” (his words) I politely declined.  At which point he told me if I chose to keep internet it would be $80/month.  At which point I stopped being polite and started getting real (thank you Real World).

Our monthly “entertainment” bill has gone from $140 (well, they just bumped it up to $170 for our upcoming bill…) to $68.  Savings: $72/month.

So, without further ado, here is my Christmas gift to you… how to cut cable

STEP 1: MAKE (OR BUY) AN HDTV ANTENNA

DIY HDTV antenna
DIY HDTV Antenna = $7

I am on a budget (obviously) and was feeling super crafty one weekend so I decided to build my own HDTV antenna.  It took about an hour to make.   Total cost: $7.

I followed the directions on this website.  It was super easy and fun if you are into cutting and painting.  And if I can do it, I’m pretty sure anyone can. You can’t see it from my picture but the back is all aluminum foil.

I get 8 over-the-air channels, in HD, for $7.  No monthly fee. No taxes or service charges or box rental.  Free.  And quality?? Last weekend we watched some NFL games and they actually looked clearer than they did with cable.  It was mind-blowing.

Just a few tips not included on the directions:
–  Find the most durable piece of cardboard you can.  I tried it with a paper box and it was way too flimsy.  So, I redid it with an old Amazon shipping box and it was perfect.
–  If you can find a place to hang it/stand it behind the TV, don’t waste your time painting it because no one will even see it.  If you do paint it – let it dry overnight.
–  Use a little hot glue when putting the pieces together. It helps it stay just a little better.

Mohu Leaf Antenna

If you are rollin’ in the money (or don’t feel like being crafty) you can purchase a pre-made antenna for $20-50.  This antenna (shown to the left) is the most popular on Amazon and what I was going to purchase before finding out how easy it was to just make one.

**Please note: in order for this to work you must have a TV with a digital tuner.  If you do not, you will need one of the Analog/Digital converter boxes they were giving away a few years ago.  Something like this

STEP 2: GET A STREAMING BOX

Roku 2 Streaming Player
Roku 2

If you already have a gaming system you may not need this but unless you have a new “Smart” TV you will need a way to stream internet through your TV.  We have an Xbox 360 but an annual subscription was $60 to be able to stream video through it and this amazing little gadget to your left is only $79 and won’t expire after a year!

Let me introduce you to the Roku 2. (There is a Roku 3 available as well but I didn’t feel the need to pay $20 more to play Angry Birds on my TV).  I actually got mine on Cyber Monday for $49.99, but the normal price is $79.99.  But keep an eye out for sales!  I have since seen it advertised for $59.99 as well.  The Roku lets you stream Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and a ton of other channels onto your TV (see the list here).  Most apps are free to download but some require a monthly fee (see step 3 below).  There are quite a few that are totally free!  And it’s cool to check them out.

It is SUPER user friendly and plays in 1080p HD.  It works kind of like the on-demand feature of cable, where you can pick your channel then what you want to watch from there.  You can add and remove channels based on what you like to watch.

While $79.99 seems expensive – remember next month you are going to save $70 off of your cable bill!! 🙂

STEP 3: TRIAL

Yay!!! You did it! Now before you run and give your cable provider a piece of your mind, try it for a week.  No matter what, don’t let yourself turn on the cable box!!  This will give you a feel for what life without cable will be like.

If you aren’t already a subscriber, sign up for a free trial of the following services:

  1. Netflix – You get an entire month free! (an increase from the previous 2 week trial period).  Note the expiration date because your credit card will be charged $7.99/month after the trial period if you do not cancel.    Netflix is best for movies, past seasons of TV shows, and documentaries.
  2. Hulu Plus – This is essential to watch current seasons of your favorite shows!  They show up the next day.  This wasn’t hard to get used to as I was used to DVRing everything and watching it later anyway.
  3. Amazon Prime – To be honest, we don’t stream much from here, but they do have an expanding library of movies and TV shows and with Prime ($6.58/month billed annually at $79) you get FREE 2-day shipping on most items.  Worth it.  The video library to me is just a perk! You should have this anyway!

Disadvantages:

  • Some shows/channels are not available streaming – probably because they are part of the cable monopoly.  For us we missed HGTV, History Channel, and NFL network (my husband… not me!).  Also – CBS doesn’t have new shows streaming on any of the services so you would have to watch them through the internet.  But there wasn’t really any CBS show’s we couldn’t live without – and we do get CBS live over the air.
  • (That being said some of the past seasons of those shows are available on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon for free.)
  • Knowing what to watch when – it isn’t as easy to just have the TV on in the background magically picking shows for you to watch.  You have to give it some direction.

STEP 4: LET GO!!

Did you survive the week??? If so, keep reading!

Call Comcast (or your TV provider) and tell them you want to cancel everything but internet.  They will try to convince you that they can reset your promotion – blah, blah, blah –  but stay strong!!

They will probably tell you to keep the current level of internet you have it is going to be $80/month.  That isn’t true.  Ask them to e-mail you a current rate sheet.  You can downgrade to the Performance Starter package and we are still able to stream on the Roku and have 2 computers surfing the internet at the same time.  At this time of posting, it is $49.99/month.  The Performance internet was $67.99 and I refuse to pay more than I have to.  I recommend trying the Starter package and I’m sure they will let you increase it later if you find it is too slow 🙂

If you don’t already have one, buy your own modem.  Comcast charges $7/month for a modem.  This one will pay for itself in a year.

Take your hardware back to Comcast (don’t forget your remotes!) and get a receipt.  KEEP YOUR RECEIPT! I have read a lot of stories of people being charged for a box they returned but couldn’t prove it because they didn’t keep the receipt.

Dance your way out of the Comcast building because you, my friend, have just eliminated the rate game from your life!! No more calling every 6 months, sitting on hold for 20 minutes, to have to throw a temper tantrum to get your bill lowered $15 bucks.    And remember – if you cut ties and realize you really can’t live without cable, you can always reinstate your service.  If you wait 6 months you will probably even qualify for a “new customer” discount since you went 6 months without cable.

SUMMARY: 

Initial Investment: $167

  • HDTV Antenna – $7
  • Roku (or other streaming device) – $80
  • Modem (if you don’t already have one) – $80

Monthly costs: $68

  • Over-the-air TV – FREE!
  • Netflix – $8
  • Hulu Plus – $8
  • Internet package – $50

Savings:

  • Monthly bill from $140 to $68 – $72/month
  • $72 x 12 months = $864/year!!!

Your Welcome.

*I was not in any way compensated by any company for the use of their products.  This is my opinion and based on my personal cable bill and plan.  Your savings may vary and internet packages can vary by region/provider.

It’s been two weeks since we have cut cable and I am loving it!  So tell me, have you been able to eliminate cable from your life?  Share your thoughts below!

Well, hello there!

I have been staring at my screen for about 5 minutes now.  Wondering, how does one start a blog exactly? Seeing as I couldn’t exactly figure out an answer, I did what any normal person would do… I googled it. And found this article on how to write your first blog post.  So… here we go.

1. Who are you? I am a 30-something teacher (of español) living on the east coast.  I am married with a dog, who might as well be my kid because I love her to pieces. Oh, and my husbands not too bad either!  I absolutely love learning and teaching… and I am constantly dreaming of all of the things I would also love to do if I had a billion dollars.  Most of those dreams revolve around traveling and meeting all of the amazing people that are in the world. So, my blog learn.teach.dream came about.  Three things you should never, no matter how old you are, stop doing.

2. Why are you blogging? For fun? I love my job and not a day goes by when I don’t sit back and laugh at the wonderful and ridiculous things I do in any given day.  Several people have told me they love my facebook posts so I thought I would expand a bit.

3. What will you be blogging about? You mean you haven’t figured this out yet? Probably about school, but don’t expect a daily recap of every day.  I don’t have time for that.  Moments I love and moments I hate will probably make the blog.  I will not post what I have for lunch every day (but I will some days).  I will probably also post pictures I have taken because, since I didn’t mention this earlier, I love photography.  I will also probably post a lot about my pup, because she is awesome.

4.  How can I leave feedback? If you are reading this blog and can’t figure out how to hit the “comment” button below… then maybe technology just isn’t for you.  Kidding.  But feel free to comment on my post.  I love feedback. If you have a funny story to share or have experienced something similar to my post, feel free to post it! It’s nice to know I’m not alone sometimes.

Well, that wasn’t so bad.  I leave you with a picture I snapped of my pup this afternoon while we were frolicking in the yard.  Ok, not really frolicking.  Just getting the mail.

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