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Just a little update on my life and most of the things that I have going on at any point in time. :) So many things, so little time!! I...

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Vegan Lifestyle?? - Transitioning kids from Vegetarian to Vegan!

Over the past year I have transitioned from being a meat eater to vegetarian. I had always known that was the best way to be and I had already cut out beef and pork from me and my children's diet. We still ate chicken, turkey, and seafood up until earlier this year when I stopped buying any and all kinds of meat. I still bought milk, eggs, cheese, and yogurt until recently and not 100% when I will stop entirely.

I recently started back with an almost daily yoga practice. Something that I have loved to do for years but never did more than once a month after initially starting. In doing yoga and following tons of yogis on Instagram, I came across many, many vegan yogis.

The other day I posted my lunch on Instagram, featuring broccoli, cauliflower, and avocado. It was delicious I must add. I always hashtag myself as #WannabeVegan and a friend of mine commented. It made me realize that I have rarely eaten cheese and have not brought milk into the house for weeks!!

I was subconsciously transitioning to vegan!! So I might as well make it a conscious effort like I did with being vegetarian.

My 18 year old sister didn't really get the point of vegetarian or vegan lifestyles and my kids got it but they were not 100% there yet. I decided to show them the films that made me want to change my eating habits completely in hopes that they would want to change as well.

This past Saturday I started them on Vegucated. This documentary follows 3 New Yorkers who went vegan for 6 weeks. During that time they were also educated about the meat industry and how cruel and inhumane the animals are treated. That alone was enough to open my sisters eyes and make my kids not ask for cow milk anymore.

I had been buying almond and coconut milk and they claimed to not like it. I went to Trader Joes and got soy and rice milk as well to see how they felt about those and I think they are happy with the Vanilla Almond and Coconut milk!! Yay!!

I also stocked up on tons of beans, fruits, and veggies for everyone to eat. I more so lean towards a high carb vegan/vegetarian lifestyle. One thing about this so far is that there are times where I cant control what the kids eat. My kids go to school and there are lunches provided. They also hang out with their friends who do not eat like we do at home. They can ask for salad at school or bring lunch from home, but I can not say that they are absolutely not eating what is being served. And often the salads have ham and cheese of top.

Although, I would love for them to be completely vegan all the way around, I am not militant about it. The other day my daughter went to a birthday party where they had pepperoni pizza and wings, and sausage and eggs for breakfast. I made sure she went there with a watermelon, strawberries, grape juice, whatever she wanted to take, just so she could have the healthy options. I am sure she ate the pizza as well as everything she brought along.

I find that kids are very open to things like this and if they say they don't like veggies then they are eating the wrong ones! Its all about preparation. I find that most veggies taste better if they are cooked just until al dente OR NOT AT ALL. You don't want mushy broccoli! Your kid wont eat it! But if its cooked just right with the right amount of seasoning, they will love it!!

I do not buy any meat at all and I will not be buying anymore milk or cheese either. I do need to find good brands of fake cheese and yogurt though... I just love it too much to completely let it go.

My kids love veggies because they have been exposed to them since birth. If you assume your kid doesn't like veggies and therefore do not give them on a regular basis or only give them in very small portions then how do you expect for you kid to like them??

I have always cooked with meat being a small part of the meal. It was actually quite easy to get rid of it completely! Why do meals have to be centered around meat??

I have successfully been eating vegan  off and on for a while now and have been consistent for a few weeks! I might have had cheese once a week or 2 ago. I am not 100% if I will ever be completely all around vegan, but I will try to get as close as I can.

Chobani, chocolate, and my leather/suede shoes are not out the door just yet. Although I will probably not be buying anymore leather or suede I am definitely not getting rid of anything that I already own. Not yet anyway...(Read: Expensive!)

The Chobani I have cut down on how often I buy it, but I cant say how I will feel next time I walk past it in the store. :)

Best wishes to all the vegetarians, vegans, and wannabe vegans out there!!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Container Garden 2016 - Seedlings and things

I am starting my container garden on time this year!! Even though I do wish I would have started even earlier, I have lots growing in my sun room right now!! Take a look...

Last year I was much better at keeping track of what I grew. This year I figured what the hell... Just plant it and see what happens!! 

The only thing about this approach that may be a concern is the plants needs for certain things. But I figure I could just re-pot them as they get bigger.

This last video was recorded May 22nd.

I started a ton of tomatoes and peppers this year!! I am not sure what I am going to do with them all as of yet. I do not want to grow anything in the backyard because they will not get much sun back there. I have trees and the house blocking the sun for majority of the day. 

The front yard gets sun from noon till about 8-9pm everyday, so I think that is much more sufficient. The front is where I grew all my pots last year and my flowers. I planted Tulip and Daffodil bulbs last year and nothing has come up yet. My Cosmo seeds were eaten by all the birds last year so I will be surprised if they come back on their own.

I am thinking of going ahead and planting out my tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers in the front yard! Once they reach a certain size, of course. I will have to ammend the soil a lot because what is there is absolute trash! I have this huge ugly bush next to my porch that I would really love to chop down! I think it would look great with that gone and sunflowers and tomatoes in its place!

Sounds like a plan to me!

Meanwhile I will continue to grow everything that I have in the sun room and probably may have to get some CFL bulbs to supplement any that may not be getting enough light.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Beginning Credit Repair - How I jumped +100pts in 3 months!!

My credit profile is frankly less than stellar. I have actually never had a credit card and after an identity theft incident, student loans, and my own neglect my credit score was in the toilet!!

I just started rebuilding in Jan of this year. (2016) My scores started in the low 500s for all 3 bureaus. I was around 515-530. My goal is to reach 700 by the end of the year and 750 by the end of next!

I have a bunch of student loans which I unfortunately defaulted on to the point I started getting my wages garnished. I had been unaware that my loans were being held by multiple creditors, among other things. I thought I had previously taken care of it but the creditor who held a large sum of my loans snuck up on me!
The garnishment was very substantial!! 15% of my income. As a single mother with 3 kids, this was just not acceptable.

I decided to consolidate my loans because of the garnishment. Consolidating is the fastest way to stop your wages from being garnished. The other option was to enroll in a forgiveness program in which I paid them on a monthly basis and after 5 payments the garnishment would be lifted. After a few more months depending on which plan you sign up for the late payments are removed from your credit report.

Other than that I had 1 judgement for other tuition costs, 1 recent late payment, and 1 collection reporting. The only negative item that shows on all 3 bureau is the judgment. I am currently working to get this removed as I was not notified of this at all. 

The late payment was from a utility company who reports your account every single time you are late! I paid them for 2 months and the account was removed completely. This gave me a significant boost in my scores! +55pts!

The consolidation helped my scores a little but I would have preferred to do the forgiveness program to have all the late payments removed, but alas... +30pts

I then decided to start with a secured card that doesn't do a credit check and went with the OpenSky. Starting balance $200. I used that for a few weeks until I got the itch for a new card.

I went ahead an applied for the Capitol One Secured and was approved with a $50 deposit! Starting balance $200. The next day I applied for the Discover It Secured and was approved for that as well with a $200 balance!

I checked my scores on Credit Karma not too long after this and they showed that I had a very good chance to be approved for the platinum and the quicksilver1. I was skeptical so I did a pre-approval on their site which this time it actually showed that I was approved for the platinum!!

I went ahead and applied and they approved me for a $2,000 limit! Huge difference I must say!!

The next day I applied for the QuickSilver One and was approved for $2,000 as well!! If you ever apply for one of these cards and are approved, apply for the other right away so you don't get hit with 2 triple pulls. I was afraid to push my luck since the limit was a huge jump compared to what I already have and compared to what other people are given when they first start building,

I consolidated my student loans in January, applied for the 3 secured cards in February, and in March I applied for the 2 unsecured Capital One cards.

  • Student Loan Consolidation - Removed current Student loan accounts with recent late payments and created new account with positive history so far. Old late payments from closed loans are still showing but due to the fact that those late payments are 6-7 years old the effect is much less substantial to my score.
  • Opened 1st Secured Card - This I believe opened the door for me to get other cards. I did get a score boost when this posted along with my 1st few payments.
  • Opened 2nd & 3rd Secured Cards
  • Paid Utility on time for 2 months - Doing this removed the account along with the late payment completely. If they are not willing to do this on their own you can try sending a good will letter.
  • Opened up 2 Capitol One cards - The higher limits on these cards definitely help with utilization! They will also help me get better starting limits when applying for other cards in the future.

Whats left to remove from account:
  • Collection Account 
  • Judgment
  • Attempt to have lates from student loans removed with Goodwill letters.
Right now I am working to have the judgment removed from my credit report. The collection I have not decided what I want to do with as of yet. It is from 2010 I believe so I don't have much longer before it ages off. I could also do a pay for delete, but I would not offer them much more than 10% of what is owed.

Not too long ago I knew nothing about credit and I would have never imagined jumping over 100pts in just a few short months! I would love to see how high it jumps once that damn judgment and collection removed!!

Starting Scores 1/16 low 500s All 3
3/16 Credit Karma Transunion: 601, Credit Karma Equifax: 551, Experian: 548

4/16 Credit Karma Transunion: 604, Credit Karma Equifax: 606, Experian: 604
5/3/16 Credit Karma Transunion: 635, Credit Karma Equifax: 638

The Hair Diary and Future apps

I am always working to make something better.

Although my kids, full time job, yoga, gardening, and lampworking have been taking up most of my time currently, I have been working as much as I can to complete the new version of The Hair Diary app for Android and iOS.

I also have an amazing idea for a new app that I will be working on in conjunction with The Hair Diary. I had been having an issue coming up with a name but I think I have it now!!

More on that later as I am not revealing anything anytime soon. But I am working on this and THD. I hope to have THD done soon.

What you can expect from this app:

  • Updated Material Design
  • Completely revamped layout
  • Cloud Data
  • Website login
  • Social Sharing
  • Overall better user experience
Everything in time. I need a vacation so I can really get some work done!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Getting Back into Yoga

Funny thing, at my job we had a yoga class and of course I am all for it having sparingly done yoga here and there over the past 12 years. I started doing it when I was 18 when Inhale with Steve Ross was on Oxygen. I recorded the shows with my DVR and did it every night before I went to bed. I loved it!

I haven't been as consistent with it since then and do it whenever I need to relax or after running or a really hard workout to stretch my muscles. I haven't done it enough to be able to do a proper down dog, split, or anything remotely advanced. I would consider myself somewhere between beginner and moderate in terms of flexibility.

Anyway, I went to these yoga classes at work and the instructor taught the MELT method and Yoga Tune Up! I immediately fell in love!! I have a bad back and issues with my hands from years and years of doing hair. I have slowed down on doing hair significantly but am still having issues.

The melt method you are massaging your hands and feet with these soft or firm balls. They definitely help me to release the tension in the muscles in my hands. The balls are made to massage the fascia and help ease pain caused by repeated motions.

The Tune Up balls do the same thing but for other parts of the body in addition to the hands. The size of the balls change the intensity or deepness of the massage. Tune up has 3 other sizes, that I will probably buy soon, larger than the ones I have pictured. I bought 2 sets of them so that I could have them where ever I am. I carry the pictured set around with me everywhere. As you can see the letters are wearing off because my kids and I use them so much.

I started back doing yoga daily again. I want to build back my strength and flexibility again. I signed up for Daily Burn and so far I am loving the instructor Briohny. The was she explains everything and how smoothly she moves into the poses is just fantastic.

I strive to be as good as she is.

My flexibility issues are in my legs and groin mostly. I can do pretty good back bends, twists, and arm stretches. One of the hardest poses for me is probably Supta Virasana. I can barely lean back in that pose.

Downward Dog I am getting much better with, although I still cant put my feet flat to the floor. I am slowly getting there & learning to accept my bent knees... and working to straighten them!

I have always followed a few yoga youtube channels. YogaYak being my favorite. I recently came across KinoYoga and honestly I am appalled at all the hate that she gets!! They criticize her clothing, her style of yoga, just EVERYTHING!!

I started following her on periscope and love just watching her practice. Her flexibility is ridiculous!!

I want to do Yoga videos(maybe) but I dont think I would be that great to watch lol. Definitely not instructional...

Ughh... Anyway. All this to say Yoga is great! and I am hoping to continue to do it daily and build up my strength and flexibility, as well as finding more inner peace and happiness. :)

I'll talk more about it later.

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