donut muffins

Friday Favorites

It’s good to be back with some Friday Favorites for you all today! This week, I have a podcast that I look forward to every week, a fashion item that pulls together an outfit like none other and a recipe that blew my skirt up indeed.

Watch What Crappens Podcast:

I’m proud to admit that I’m only watching a bit of trashy Bravo television these days. Real Housewives (of Beverly Hills) is a perennial favorite and I’m anticipating the return of Real Housewives of New York next month. Oh, and I’m also looking forward to the return of Southern Charm. But, aside from those shows, I’ve cut back significantly on “junk food” tv.

That said: I LURVE the “junk food” tv that I do still watch. The bad news is that no one else in my real life watches the same junk as me. What’s more fun than watching “junk food” tv? Talking about it with your friends! Enter: Watch What Crappens.

I don’t remember how I found this podcast, but it’s two guys who completely rehash each episode of most every Bravo tv show a few days after it’s aired. The guys are hilarious and spot-on on their assessments of what’s going on on these shows. It’s just like having these wonderful gay friends who share your passion for Real Housewives to chat with every week.

I treat myself to this podcast when I’m walking the dog and I often have to stop, mid-walk, to double over and discretely grab my lady-bits so as not to wet myself from laughing so hard at an impersonation of a Housewife or other snarky comment from the episode. Watch What Crappens is often the highlight of my day. And this is everything that’s wrong with my life.

Kendra Scott “Elle” Earrings:

I can hear a collective groan across the internet right now. “Is she REALLY talking about earrings that were popular, like 7 years ago?” Yes, yes I am.

I bought my Kendra Scott Earrings about 4 years ago and have worn them so much. They go with everything and they make an outfit “pop” like none other. Now that my hair is short, I wear them even more because they’re easily seen. And, say what you want about my out-of-style earrings, but I get complimented on them almost every time I wear them. So there!

I like the “Elle” style because they’re a bit smaller, but I know lots of people who prefer the Danielle because they’re bigger and look better with long hair. I will tell you this: I rented the Danielle earrings in cobalt blue from Rent The Runway one time and thought that my ear holes would tear, they were so heavy! I know that you can buy special support earring backs from Kendra Scott, so that might’ve helped but the Elle style is much more comfortable for me and appropriate for my hair length and face shape.

Here they are in a pretty mother of pearl color (if you click on the link, you’ll see many of the colors that they’re available in):

Kendra Scott “Signature” Elle Gold plated Ivory Mother-of-Pearl Drop Earrings

(Affiliate link above)

These earrings come in every color under the sun. I’ve rented the magenta Kendra Scott earrings from Rent The Runway a couple of times and I really love them too. In fact, I wore them to a wedding in the fall and a woman came from across the other side of the church to comment on them. It was flattering and very sweet, however, I was certain that everybody and their dog knew about Kendra Scott by now?

Dress and earrings from Rent The Runway. I adore Rent The Runway…have you tried it?

 

Lastly, a recipe that rocked my world:

Old Fashioned Donut Muffins

My Jack and I are obsessed with the Old Fashioned Donuts from Starbucks. Before he started school, we’d often drop Anna off at school and then go to Starbucks for a treat. The Old Fashioned Donuts were always our favorite. Now that we’ve tightened our purse strings a bit, we haven’t been to Starbucks for a treat in probably a year, so when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I had high hopes that it would offer a bit of a treat for us.

It did not fail to please. It was easy to make and tasted so dang good. I’m not going to lie and tell you that, because these have the word “muffin” in the title that they’re healthy, but I will tell you this: They’re delicious and use ingredients that you probably already have on hand.

I would make these for a brunch spread or even as a treat to take to a neighbor after an illness. They’re portion-controlled (assuming that you can eat just one) and great with coffee or after dinner. Make these and you won’t be disappointed! Promise!

What are your favorites this Friday?


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donut muffins

8 date night ideas that don’t revolve around alcohol

Before I quit drinking alcohol, back in 2010, a typical date night for my husband and I meant dinner (plus drinks) and drinks. Oh, and then drinks after dinner. Then, if we still had anything left in us after the date, more drinks at home after the kids were in bed.

Especially after we had our first baby, when we got a rare date night, we didn’t want to waste our time doing anything but drinking our new-parent frustrations away and trying to find the “old” us that was hidden under layer upon layer of sleep deprivation and Elmo-induced brain atrophy. In fact, back in those days, a date night activity that didn’t involve alcohol felt like punishment. Why even bother?

A rare date night out, sans babies, circa 2009. Lots of drinking going on here.

 

Then, I quit drinking, and I remember feeling very lost when we got our first, long-overdue date night. What the hell were we supposed to do on a date night now if I couldn’t drink? I’d be lying if I said that I remember what we did on those first few sober date nights, but now that I’ve been doing sober date nights for awhile, I feel like I have a better-stocked arsenal of date night ideas that don’t involve drinking.

So, here are 8 date night ideas that don’t completely revolve around alcohol, in case you’re a teetotaler (like me), maybe you’re pregnant and miss being able to drink on date night or maybe you’re just looking for ways to have fun without the hooch every now and then.

1: Go to the movies: There’s a new wave of movie theater “experiences” that incorporate drinking into enjoying a movie. We have Alamo Drafthouse where we live and fancier-versions in the larger cities nearby, but I enjoy a good movie on a date night. I think it’s a real treat to go and watch a movie that I choose, that doesn’t involve a Pixar character, nor an animated version of Justin Timberlake singing top-40 hits. Plus, I’m all about getting candy or another sweet treat that I don’t have to share.

2: Play mini-golf: Going to play mini-golf WITHOUT your kids might seem cruel, but nobody said that you have to tell your kids where you went on date night, right? I think that mini-golf is all kinds of fun. You want to know what makes it even more fun? When you can get fiercely competitive with your partner and play your heart out without having to give up a shot for your kid or wait, as your 1st grader takes 52 shots on a par 4.

3: Costco run: Lame, right? But, imagine this: Costco After Dark. Way less crowded than your usual Saturday, at 11am Costco run. Plus, you and your partner can carefully critique the differences between the latest and greatest televisions that Costco has to offer. You can wander around, gathering samples without having to bite your Kirkland-brand peanut butter cup into 4 equal portions so that your toddler and 4 year old don’t lose their minds in the middle of the store. Better yet? Pick up the toilet paper and kitty litter that you’ve been putting off purchasing and have your spouse load it in the back of your minivan for you. Now, that’s what I call foreplay! Meeeeow!

4: Go to the museum: Many museums offer an after-hours happy hour every month or so. Yes, booze is the primary focus of these events (because, of course it is) but you can take the opportunity to see the museum without the large crowds who are usually there during normal business hours. Typically a museum membership is required to attend these events, but museum memberships are awesome for families to take advantage of anyway. They always pay for themselves in just a couple of visits and they afford you the luxury of going to the museum on a rainy day to see the one thing that you kid cares about seeing and then leaving directly after. No need to try and get your money’s worth out of a single day ticket.

5: Linger at a coffee shop: Since I quit drinking, coffee shops have become a favorite place of mine. I never cared to have coffee after the hours of about 10am before, but now, an after dinner coffee is a pretty great special treat. Coffee shops are also good places to go and have a nice, uninterrupted conversation with your spouse. I love to people watch there also. All good things…

6: Take in some community theater: Most communities–no matter how small or large–have community theater. Some of the productions are really, really good and some of them….well, aren’t. But, on date night, it doesn’t matter. You’re out of the house, sans kids. There’s often beer and wine available in the lobby of these productions, but it’s not pushed on you like it is in, say, comedy clubs. Go check out a local production and remark at how talented (or not!) your neighbors are.

7: Church activities: I know, I know. Now that we’ve found a church that we like, we’re becoming “those people.” But, most churches have opportunities to be social with other couples every now and then (if not more often). I’ve heard great things about “small groups,” that give you the opportunity to meet other people from the church outside of services. Our church has classes and seminars as well that would be good to do on a date night.

8: Shopping: There’s something rather appealing about going shopping with your spouse without the kids in tow. To leisurely browse on your own time and look at what YOU want to look at, without having to divide your time watching the kids play in the indoor mall playscape while the other runs quickly into Sears to grab a refrigerator filter and a new shirt. Use date night shopping as an opportunity to pick out new dress clothes or new granny panties–whatever makes you feel good. Or, shop at a furniture store for your (perhaps fictitious) dream house. No purchase necessary.

I used to see date night as more of a “treat yo self” night. A night that I could escape my day job and drink to alleviate the stress of parenthood. Every time though, I’d end up feeling like a worse parent–especially when I was hungover the next morning and unable to properly perform even the simplest of parenting duties for my kids. Now that I’m sober, date night is truly a recharge night for me. I get to enjoy my husband’s company and then wake up refreshed the next morning, ready to do this crazy job called “parenting” to the best of my abilities.

What about you? Any sober date night ideas to share?

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donut muffins

Am I a hypochondriac?

In the past year, I’ve legitimately thought that I was dying on at least 2 separate occasions.

Does this make me a hypochondriac?

Backstory: My thyroid started giving me trouble a couple of years ago. Long story made shorter, I went to the emergency room with heart palpitations, thinking for sure that I was having a heart attack. After a litany of tests and bloodwork, it was determined that I wasn’t having a heart attack but that my thyroid was going crazy–which was causing the heart palpitations. Whew. Call off the undertaker.

Prior to this event, I could’ve count on two hands (I’ve had 2 pregnancies) the number of times that I’ve been to the doctor’s office. I’m a healthy person. I don’t get sick. I take good care of myself. So, the day that I went to the ER with heart palpitations and tingling in my left arm, I was certain that I was dying. It’s a strange feeling to feel something new and unfamiliar. My brain spun out of control.

After the thyroid diagnosis, I got used to the feeling of having heart palps. I take medication to help, but I still experience them and, knowing what’s causing them has put my mind at ease. Until January of this year.

I was having my usual heart palpitations, but this time, a new-found ache in my chest coincided with the heart palps. I had a lot on my plate during this time. My daughter was involved in a stage production that week and we had family and friends coming from all over to see it. I was also involved in getting her to and from rehearsals every night and trying to figure out how to do stage makeup that would make her best look like a “blue bird.” (Spoiler: I’m not a makeup artist)

So, I largely tried to ignore the chest pains and heart palps, as a busy mom does…until I lay awake in the middle of the night–the night before her first performance–going over the guest list of who we were expecting to visit for the performance, how to do bird makeup again and maybe there are some new YouTube tutorials that I haven’t seen yet that will make it all clear and, oh, yeah….that nagging heart thing.

All I could think about was if I was dying. If this was a heart attack. I knew better than to Google “symptoms of a heart attack” because, on any given day, I think it’s safe to say that any of us could firmly convince ourselves that we were having a heart attack (or maybe my imagination is just more active than most). Also, guess what? Laying in bed, working yourself into an anxiety attack over heart palpitations does not make you feel any more confident that you aren’t IN FACT DYING. It even got so bad at one point, that I was legitimately concerned that my kids would be the ones to find my lifeless body also, who would do the damn bird makeup if I died?

Finally, after realizing that I wasn’t going to get any sleep this way, I woke up my husband and told him that i was going to go to the hospital to get it checked out. The whole drive there, I went over in my head all of the possibilities. Best case–I’m not dying and they’ll admit me to do whatever they do after one survives a heart attack. Worst case: I was about to die.

How would Kevin raise my kids alone?

Would they even miss me?

He’ll never know all of the little things that I do around the house.

I’ll bet he won’t know to mush the cats’ wet food up a bit to help them eat it easier–especially Tino and his wonky teeth.

All of these thoughts are going through my head during the 1am drive to the hospital.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I did not, in fact, die that evening in the ER. As usual, everything checked out totally fine and I was given a baby aspirin and sent on my way (to the tune of a $5000 medical bill. But, I would’ve paid $10,000 just to know that I wasn’t dying.).

Getting old is funny like that. When I look back at everything that I did in my younger days: The bad decisions that I made. The questionable people that I hung out with. The risks that I took. Dying was very seldom something that I thought about.

Maybe it’s because the stakes are higher now that I have a family but dying is something that I’ve thought about more this year than ever before.

So, maybe I am a hypochondriac...and maybe I’m not, but one thing is for sure: These “brushes with death” have made me think about my life in a different way. Feeling like it was all about to end–like the rug was about to be pulled out from under me–has made me so grateful for everything that I have. Even the little things. Getting a shopping cart with smooth, fully-functioning wheels at the grocery store. Making it to the gas station with plenty of gas before filling up. Having made the decision to stop drinking, all those years ago, before I hurt myself or my family.

What about you? Have you ever felt like you were dying? 

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donut muffins

Frugal Friday Favorites

…in which Jenny tells you about all of the stuff that everyone else on the internet has been raving about for months. You’re welcome. 

(Also, this post contains affiliate links, which help to support the care and upkeep of this blog. Thank you so much!) 

La Croix Peach-Pear:

I’d heard about the La Croix peach-pear sparkling water, but hadn’t tried it until this week. I saw it at my grocery store and, since my kids really like sparkling water and will sometimes choose a sparkling water over a soda when it’s time for a weekend treat, I thought we’d try this flavor. Oh my word. LOVE IT. It’s perfect on its own, or, you could be like me and add a splash of orange juice, for a sweet afternoon treat before heading to the bus stop. My kids are similarly obsessed with this flavor of La Croix. I’m going to go ahead and declare it to be The Official Spring Break Drink of The Jurica Family. Try it and I promise you’ll love it too (unless you don’t like peaches or pears or, you know, joy in your life).

Soap and Glory’s Sugar Crush:

I saw Megan and Wendy talking about Soap and Glory’s Sugar Crush body lotion in their February Favorites video this week. Needing some new lotion in my life, and being a sucker for cute packaging, I found myself with a bottle of this stuff shortly after viewing the video.

Soap And Glory Sugar Crush 3-in-1 Body Lotion 500ml–$12.00

Two things have me crushing (Ha! See what I did there? Sugar Crush?)  on this lotion: First of all, the formula is good. Real good. I don’t like a thin lotion that soaks into your skin immediately, leaving you feeling as dry as you were prior to lotion application. This lotion is just thick enough for my sensibilities but not so thick that it feels heavy and gross.

And, most importantly, the scent. Cheese and crackers, you guys! I can’t even describe how much I love the scent! I don’t typically like to smell like food, but the lime scent is perfect and it has a musky, vanilla undertone too–just enough to keep it from smelling straight-up like key lime pie. I used this lotion before bed the first night that I had it and then laid in bed and sniffed myself for probably an hour. I haven’t been this excited about a lotion in a long time! I think that the price is very reasonable for this lotion too. At $12 for 16 ounces, it feels like a much more expensive lotion. As a result, these items are next on my list to purchase:


Soap And Glory Sugar Crush Moisture Extreme Body Buttercream 300ml


Soap And Glory Sugar Crush Fresh And Foamy Body Wash Sweet Lime Fragrance 500ml

 

And lastly, Blogilates:

Image: www.blogilates.com

 

I’ve been doing Blogilates for my morning workouts this week. Truth be told, I’ve gotten bored with my usual workout routine and needed to change it up. Blogilates has a zillion workouts, all with different target areas or workout styles. I’ve been enjoying the more Pilates-style workouts (holy ouch!) and then the other day, I did a 12 minute long stretching video, which was much-needed and really helpful.

Best of all, her videos are available on YouTube (link HERE) and are all FREE. I also really like that I can chose to do a quick workout or a longer one, based on how I’m feeling that particular day. Yes, Cassey is extremely perky and cute (perhaps a smidgen too perky and cute for 6:30am) and the music is a little too “pop” for my liking, but whatever. I love the versatility of the workouts. It’s just what I’ve needed to get me motivated after just “going through the motions” for the past month.

Hooray for Spring and new sparkling water flavors, workouts and lotion scents to obsess about! Tell me what you’re obsessing about these days!

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donut muffins

One True Love: Loungewear

(This post contains affiliate links that help to support the care and upkeep of this blog. Thanks!)

Loungewear and pajamas are my love language.

As I’ve probably told you before, as soon as I walk in the house, I go directly to my bedroom and change out of my “regular” clothes and put on my pajamas or loungewear. The older I get, the less I can tolerate being uncomfortable–especially not in my home–so loungewear is my favorite.

I picked up a pair of these loungewear pants one day during the Christmas season at Costco.


Felina Ladies’ Drawstring Lounge Pant–$18.00 on Amazon

Costco had them on sale for $9.99 (down from a regular price of $12.99). I took a chance–I mean, they were cheaper than the box of fruit snacks that I was buying–and threw them in my cart.

The particular day that I purchased them was cold and rainy. As soon as I got home and had unloaded my Costco haul in the cold rain, I wanted nothing more than to take off my jeans and sweater and slip on something warm and cozy. I decided to try out my new pants.

It was all over, folks.

These pants are the most comfortable pants I have put on my body in a long time.  They also wash well.  I was concerned that they’d shrink or pill, based on the material (they feel sort of cashmere sweater-ish) and the price point. After treating them with kid-gloves in the laundry the first few washes, now I throw them in with whatever and fry them in the dryer too. They’ve handled my abuse like a champ.

The next time I was at Costco, I purchased a second pair at full price ($12.99–gasp!) because I was having trouble dealing when the first pair was in the wash and I didn’t have a backup pair (#firstworldprobs).

These are the pants that I wore the most this winter. They’re my “wubbie”–my security blanket–the pants that I reach for as soon as I get home from somewhere; the pants that I put on when I’m feeling under the weather. Heck, I even wore them to the emergency room recently (no big deal. Just thyroid-related issues.).

As I was researching these pants for this post, I saw that Amazon also has a pair of the same brand pants in a style that looks a smidgen more “wear out of the house”-ish. These might be a good item for carpool, bus stop runs and even grocery store trips.

Felina Women’s Weekend Warrior Classic Lounge Pant, black $17.40

Tell us about your favorite loungewear! 

If you’d like to participate, post your One True Love either in a blog post, video, Instagram or Facebook post and add the #LSSOneTrueLove hashtag. The official linkup date is the second Thursday of the month, but you can post any time and come back and add your link here in the comments! Looking forward to hearing from you!

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donut muffins

Feeling excluded

Feeling excluded was a common emotion that I experienced when I first stopped drinking.

Now, let’s be clear: It certainly wasn’t anything anyone did on purpose. But it was the nature of the social scene. When people get together–specifically moms of young children–drinking is the main event. When I stopped drinking, I struggled to find things to do socially that wouldn’t make me feel uncomfortable. But it also made me very aware of how much alcohol plays into social events.

Continue reading “Feeling excluded”

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donut muffins

What it’s like being an introvert

I have people ask me often “how do you know that you’re an introvert?” I addressed that in THIS post, but I thought I’d talk a bit more today about what it’s like being an introvert–some of it might surprise you!

Believe it or not–I enjoy being social:

If you met me, you might find me to be rather social. I enjoy talking with people and can carry on a conversation like a champ. In fact, I can even be energized by good social interactions. However, BAD social interactions set me back. Certain personality types turn me off to a degree that I have trouble recovering and often close up my “shell” in the presence of those types of people. One step forward, two back.

I need alone time, but not TOO much:

I’ve started trying to save Mondays just for myself. If possible, I don’t make appointments or commitments on Mondays, so that I can spend some good time to myself, writing or just doing things around the house. But, I don’t think that I could do this for more than 1 day in a row. I’d be lonely if I had to spend multiple days without interacting. I know….I’m a mystery even to myself.

I really enjoy going out for coffee or lunch with friends:

Granted, two hours before I’m due to meet up, faced with changing out of my beloved jammies and putting on (gasp!) real clothes, I often consider canceling, but once I’m committed to going, I am typically excited to talk and socialize with friends over coffee or lunch. Some of my most invigorating days have been spent having long conversations with friends over lunch.

Truth

So, that’s my introverted life in a nutshell. I don’t believe that anyone is 100% on either end of the introvert/extrovert spectrum all of the time but I’m definitely more introverted than extroverted most of the time.

What about you? Are you more of an introvert or more of an extrovert? 

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donut muffins

Frugal Friday Favorites

I haven’t been this excited to share something with you in weeks…WEEKS, I tell you! I hope you’ll share my enthusiasm.

I have found a podcast that I’m obsessed with.

Unfortunately, there are currently only 3 episodes available and I blew through the first two, back to back, then waited (with baited breath) for the release of the 3rd this past week, then listened to it early in the morning, on my daily dog walk.

Have you heard of Missing Richard Simmons?

It’s currently the number 1 podcast on iTunes and, no matter how you feel about Richard Simmons (I honestly hadn’t considered his existence in years) it’s captivating and engaging.

You see, I wasn’t aware of this, but Simmons hasn’t been seen since February of 2014. An active part of his community and a regular on talk shows, Simmons simply disappeared into thin air and no one has heard from him since. It’s bizarre and (apparently) completely out of character for him. This podcast will leave you hanging on every word and theory about his whereabouts. Listen to it and then let’s talk!

A laundry item that gets my heart rate up:

The next item isn’t nearly as exciting as a missing flamboyant fitness guru, but it did get my heart pounding and my knees shaking when I saw it at Wal Mart:

It’s a laundry basket on wheels. I declared it “treat yo’self” day when I saw this for $9 at Wal Mart. (Link HERE–although, online, they’re sold in packs of 4 only–but check your local store to purchase a single).

One of the worst parts of doing laundry for me is transferring our overflowing laundry basket to the laundry room (first world problems for the win). When I saw this laundry basket with wheels, I visualized how much easier it would be to get from one side of the house to the other with a full basket. Also, for $9, I figured that there was room in the “Jenny’s Mental Health and Wellness” budget to justify this purchase.

If my laundry hamper was only halfway full, like in this picture, then it’s not time to do the laundry. My hamper always looks like this:

Also, Stewart likes to help on laundry day…

“Dis napkin here. Wash it!”

 

(By the way…did you know that Stewart has his own Instagram now? Follow him HERE for daily photos of his goings-on. It hasn’t been easy, going from a privileged life of private jets, visits to Uncle Elton John’s Feline Day Spa and trips to Tahiti to…well, sitting in a laundry basket).

Homemade “Febreeze”

And, lastly, I made a homemade “Febreeze” kind-of-stuff that worked nicely for me this week.

A quick backstory: My house has been stinky lately. Generally speaking, I’m a clean person, so I don’t let our house get too far out of control, but something has occurred in this house in the past couple of weeks that has resulted in a stinky house situation. Now, this is not a fly-infested, Hoarders-type of thing–it’s just a subtle ick that I’ve noticed.

It smells like someone fried a lot of bacon, deposited a few pairs of dirty socks under the couch and then brought in a few really dusty old rugs to scatter about the living room. I’ve been washing all of the bedding, washing the dog’s bedding (which, let’s be clear–the “dog’s bedding” is actually also “our” bedding because she considers our bed to be hers) and opening the windows for fresh air whenever possible, to no avail.

This week, I tackled the kids’ bedrooms. I cleaned and purged and rearranged dresser drawers (partially inspired by Wendy’s “Clean With Me” video…link HERE). While I was up there, I decided to fumigate, in case the mystery smell was coming from their rooms. I didn’t have any Febreeze, so I decided to make my own. Here’s what I found on Pinterest:

Image courtesy of: www.removeandreplace.com

Link HERE

I made my homemade Febreeze using this fabric softener and I think it really took it up a notch (affiliate link ahoy!):


Caldrea Pear Blossom Agave Fabric Softener, 32 Fluid Ounce

This stuff smells good and it helped to freshen up the house. This recipe made a whole spray bottle-worth of homemade Febreeze too. I plan to use it often and mix up new batches as needed.

So, what about you? What’s blowing your skirt up this week? Any favorites to share? 


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donut muffins

Making friends when you’re a teetotaler

I’ve been asked many times how I make new friends as a woman (specifically a mother) who doesn’t drink.

On the surface, this might sound like a stupid question to someone who doesn’t think much about alcohol. But, in our culture of “Mommy Juice,” and PTA meetings that end with tequila shots at the taco joint next to the school, it’s a formidable question.

The shorts answer is that…well, it is difficult–I’m not going to sugar coat it.

Part of this is likely due to my introverted personality. I would much rather be a fly on the wall at a party than be actively moving about the room visiting and getting to know people.

Also, if someone is part of a recovery community, they’ve got a built-in safety net of people to socialize with.

I didn’t have this at my disposal.

When I was a drinker, meeting people was a bit easier because alcohol allowed me to be more open and friendly. I took more chances and I didn’t quietly observe the room quite as much as I do sober. I could also tolerate certain personality types when I was drinking that I typically couldn’t have tolerated sober.

When I stopped drinking, I had a wonderful home-base of lady friends. When I told them that I was going to stop drinking, they were supportive but also largely non pulsed, which is just what i needed at the time. It was no big deal and they loved me regardless of my drinking habits.

Then, we moved away from my friends and I was faced with making all new friends.

So, I started mixing and mingling with people in our new community. When my drinking status came up in conversation, I found that it was usually met with 3 possible reactions:

Oh, okay…that’s cool.

(Then I’d be watched closely to see if I exhibited any overtly religious behaviors, which might explain my teetotaling. Spoiler: If you’re around me for more than about 15 min and hear my potty mouth, you’ll quickly learn that I’m not fanatically religious)

Oh, wow! That’s so interesting! I want to hear more!

I love this response, because, it not only shows that the person cares about who I am and getting to know me better, but it also gives me an opportunity to share a bit of my story with others who might benefit from hearing it.

Oh. My. God. Are you kidding me? I could NEVER give up my wine! You’re crazy.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but this is my least-favorite response and generally lets me know pretty early on that: a. this person and I aren’t going to jive and b. this person might have a bit of an issue with alcohol herself.

I have an acquaintance who still–every time she introduces me to others–says this, “This is Jenny. She doesn’t drink!“. This can be at any setting at all, be it a place where that explanation is necessary (say, at a winery tour) or absolutely not necessary (at a funeral). She’s definitely one of those people who blurts things out all the time and her mouth often gets her into trouble, but I find it so telling that that’s the thing that she choses to tell people about me. Not, “This is Jenny. She’s the mother of 2 kids.” Or even, “This is Jenny. She has 4 cats, a dog and a fish.” Nope. Every time, it’s, “This is Jenny. She doesn’t drink…not even wine! Can you believe that? I could NEVER give up my wine.”

There have been instances when I’ve met someone–a potential friend–and when they find out that I don’t drink, their face falls and I notice that resigned, “Oh, and I really LIKED her” look go across her face. It makes me sad but I also know that I USED TO BE that person too. In my drinking days, when I met someone who didn’t drink I’d often mentally cross them off of my list of potential friends. “Clearly, we have nothing in common.” I feared judgement from non-drinkers. I assumed that anyone who didn’t drink wasn’t my people. So, I totally understand how people feel when they meet me.

And, all is not lost when first meetings don’t go well. Often, once someone gets to know me and sees that, in addition to being sober, I’m also funny, self-deprecating  and wildly inappropriate, they forget that we differ in our drinking habits and they accept me anyway. That’s really all that I typically hope for.

I also work hard (perhaps harder than I should) so that my friends feel comfortable drinking around me. The thing is, just because I can’t drink doesn’t mean that they can’t. I’m not here to judge but I am here to be an example of what a sober woman looks like.

If you’re a teetotaler, have you found it difficult to make friends? 

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donut muffins

4 things that I’ve learned by NOT dining out

Right after the New Year, we decided to tighten up our budget and one of the first things to go was dining out. We vowed not to eat out for the entire month of January. It worked out so well for us, that we’ve just kept on going. As of today, we’ve eaten in a restaurant exactly once (as a family) since January 1 (and we were treated to that meal by my father and stepmother).

Here are a few things that I’ve noticed since we quit dining in restaurants.

1: Restaurant food can be pretty “Meh”:

…but the company is good

If you allow yourself to be honest, restaurant food just really isn’t that great all of the time. When I sat down and thought about it, I realized that 9 times out of 10, I walk out of a restaurant thinking, “Well, that was pretty good.” That’s not an acceptable reaction to just having paid anywhere from $50 to $100 for a meal for 4 people. Now that we’re not eating out as much, when we do eat out, we will choose only the restaurants that we know are a home-run for us–the ones that never disappoint.

2: Overeating is (mostly) a thing of the past:

Here’s what a typical weeknight dinner serving looks like at our home.

How many times have you walked out of a restaurant and felt almost sick because you’ve waaaaaay overeaten? We don’t overeat as badly when we eat at home. That one restaurant meal that we had in January was Mexican food. While Mexican food certainly isn’t known for being a “light lunch” this particular meal was super heavy. I ordered some gigantic burrito, smothered in cheese. The first few bites were delicious, but then, after a while, it began to feel like a chore to eat–which is CRAZY to look back on and think about. Why didn’t I just stop eating? When I eat at a restaurant, for reasons too many to name, I feel like I need to clean my plate if possible. Being a people pleaser by nature, maybe I dread the waiter looking at my half-eaten plate, asking, “was your meal ok, ma’am?” I also have a weird relationship with taking home leftovers from a restaurant. There are precious few meals from restaurants that actually reheat well at home the next day. Many times, my half-eaten restaurant meal sits in the fridge for a days, awaiting its ultimate demise in the trashcan. Such a waste.

3: “Making do” and getting creative in the kitchen:

“Making do” in the kitchen is how my now-famous homemade pizza recipe was born–our new Friday night tradition. Recipe HERE.

 

When eating out isn’t an option, we’re much more willing to figure out something for dinner. The best part is that I’ve finally come to terms with the idea that we don’t all even have to eat the same thing! If there’s a dab of leftovers, a can of soup and a few frozen chicken tenders in the freezer, we can eat “potluck” style–which actually makes everyone happy. We can also make a killer gourmet grilled cheese sandwich in a pinch. Not only does it feel good to be utilizing our groceries, but it also clears space in the fridge and pantry for the new grocery items that are on my list to be purchased during the next shopping visit.

4: Wearing jammies at the dinner table is a real possibility

Valentine’s day dinner at home, in our comfy clothes

When you’re eating at home, there’s no need to dress up. There were many times in the past that I gritted my teeth when it was time to go out to eat and I had to change out of my comfy “house clothes” and into something a bit more presentable. These days, since we’re eating every meal at home–I get to stay in my comfy jammies if I want. This probably makes me happiest of all.

The funniest thing to come from this whole ‘experiment” is that, while it was only supposed to last for the month of January, we’ve decided to make it our personal mission to see how far we can go with it. The children are even on-board with it. It’s changed the way that we think about the money that we spend dining out and it’s made us be more conscious of how much stuff costs. It’s been the ultimate “reset” for our family. I highly recommend trying a similar experiment out for yourselves!

Have you ever tried to reign in your dining out habits? Tell us how it worked out in the comments below. Or, do you have any tips and tricks for those who are currently trying it out? 

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