Puppy updates (“Pupdates”) & Life, In Progress

It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog entry, and since the last one was such a doozy (My Journey with “The Puppy Blues”) I really owe it to my readers to give an update.

 

First thing’s first: My Update on the Puppy Blues

Since I wrote my blog entry on my “Puppy Blues” (which was shared a ton of times with lots of visitors to my page- yay!) I had many people approach me and tell me how worried they were about me. Maybe it’s because I share so much on social media that tries to be positive and uplifting, but stopping and admitting that I wasn’t okay seemed to really upset people.

I also got several people who messaged me and sympathized with me, which was so nice! It made me feel like I wasn’t alone, and it helped me get through that tough initial time. Whether you extended a hand because you were worried about me or if you had a similar experience, thank you. The reaction over my last blog entry was more than I expected, and it helped me to feel that sense of connection as we adjusted to a new “normal”.

 

My Update on Cooper

Oh, Cooper. Our little black ball of fluff. Since I wrote the last blog entry, things with Cooper have been ten times better. He’s had some health issues (puppy UTI, tapeworm) from incidents along the way, but I’m happy to say that he’s healthy and a really happy, good dog. My phone has two sets of main pictures now: pictures of my garden and pictures of Cooper.

 

 

Everyone loves him….especially us.

We’ve been taking him to doggy day care 1x/week, puppy socializing classes 1-2x/week and family member drop-ins 2x/week. He’s such a good dog, and while we’re still working on his puppy behaviors (play biting- especially biting my husband), he’s so smart and friendly and a great companion. I know we are still adjusting, but things have definitely gotten better with Cooper since I last blogged.

 

 

I will say, though, that the past 6-8 weeks have brought out a new side of me. I can’t determine if it’s permanent or not. I have a balance of extroversion to introversion in my personality, and I’ve been much more introverted over the past few months. I don’t see the need for checking Facebook (unless it’s with my team of coaches or jaw surgery clients), and I don’t necessarily see the need for sharing my life’s journey at this time. Maybe I’m growing up, or maybe I’m going through a phase. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m now creating social media content for a large-scale organization, too (which is such an honor), thus taking my “creative energy” and re-directing it to another source.

 

I don’t know, honestly. But what I can say is that I’m going through a phase in my life where I don’t necessarily plan on sharing every little thing on social media. I love blogging, though, and plan to share my journey throughout the summer on my blog (subscribe if you want these updates!). I also plan to work on some creative projects for jaw surgery clients. But in terms of my health & fitness journey….I’m just so sick of seeing the quick fixes that it drains the creative energy right out of me. (Just being honest!) I’m going to keep following my nutrition plan of simple, easy eating; I’m going to keep exercising from home and being in great shape as a result; and I’m going to work with the people who actually want to see change in their life. If this sounds like you, then please message me, and we’ll link arms together this summer. Otherwise, you may see less of me than you used to.

 

Stay tuned on my blog for more Puppy Updates/”Pupdates” and my journey, and until then, have a wonderful first official week of summer!

 

In peace & good health-

Amanda



My Journey with “The Puppy Blues”

It’s early in the morning as I quietly type this in my bedroom. I don’t want to wake up our 14- week puppy. (He’s so peaceful when he sleeps.)

We’ve had our puppy (named Cooper) for almost 3 weeks now and i could definitely say it’s been an adjustment. Things have been pretty good overall! Cooper has his mischievous days, that’s for sure, but he is a sweet dog, deep down.

 

 

I just wish I would have known the immense undertaking it would take on me.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I was told by every person, “puppies are so much work!” “Puppies are like having a child.” “Oh wow, you’re getting a puppy! How are you going to take care of it?” which began to irritate me (“Why can’t you just say, ‘congratulations!'”). Nevertheless, I thought I was mentally prepared for the work it would take to raise our little guy. But what no one ever talked to me about was the immense emotional toll that has been rocking my life ever since.

 

The first few days were the roughest. We had Cooper confined to our dining room/kitchen area, and every time we went to the bathroom, Cooper would cry uncontrollably. The first time I left him to go to work, I’m pretty sure he cried the entire time. Since he’s so young, his mental development stage is growing (and will be for a very long while), so I’m constantly distracting him from teething, while also taking him out often to go potty. Typical puppy stuff.

 

But on top of the massive amount of things I do (a full-time job, multiple part-time jobs and professional projects), having our puppy need me for every other waking moment has been a prep for motherhood. I understand that. But things have taken a turn for the worse. I’m not eating as much, and I don’t have the energy to cook, much less exercise. It’s been a series of strange meals since we got our puppy.

 

Not only that, I’ve had several days when I just crumble under the emotional weight of it all. Little things like Cooper constantly barking to go outside (only to sit stubbornly in the sun for 20+ minutes) or incessantly biting my sweater has brought me past my emotional threshold. My husband’s been handling the puppy better than I have, and takes care of Cooper when I literally can’t function. In fact, he’s had to tell me numerous times, “yes, this will get better.” (I know he’ll have to keep re-assuring me of this.) I have cried more in the past 3 weeks than I think I have since I suffered from burnout in my junior year of college.

Having a puppy might be the closest I’ve ever come to a longer-term depression.

 

Last night, as I peeled myself off the couch after a notably bad evening of puppy-fueled tears, I desperately Googled, “depression after getting a puppy”, which felt incredibly ungrateful. I mean, who in the world becomes a shell of a person after getting something as adorable as a puppy?  It turns out that many people get overwhelmed with the new addition of a puppy into their life (even if they did everything to become prepared, like me). They call it “the puppy blues”.

 

It might sound paradoxical, I know. I can imagine you, my mom friends, reading this and screaming, “WELCOME TO MY LIFE!!!!” and I understand that risk comes with writing this blog entry. And I do not compare this to the same level of postpartum depression. But I feel so compelled to share my experience with “the puppy blues” because, until I Googled “depression after having a puppy”, I felt so alone. And so much of my life journey is helping people feel that they aren’t alone.

 

So I’m chronicling our puppy journey. I’m sharing my honest reflections as we go through our first year of puppy ownership: the good, the bad, and the emotional.

 

Have you ever had “the puppy blues”? Did you stumble across this article because you’re suffering from depression after having a puppy? If you are, that’s totally okay. You aren’t alone!

 

Helpful links for post-puppy depression:

Puppy Depression Website

Last Word on Nothing: I Got the Puppy Blues

 

The Labrador Site: How to Beat the Puppy Blues



[UNBELIEVABLE] Brown Butter Carrot Recipe

Lately I’ve been on a carrot kick. The carrots in my region have been so affordable! One of my local grocery stores had carrots for $.69 for a 3-pound bag. That yields a lot of vegetable servings for .69 cents! So I’ve been playing around with recipes and I think that this one, by far, is my favorite. I’m considering headed out to the grocery store just to buy more carrots and make it again. Does that sound a little crazy? Even if it does, I’m fine with it. This brown butter carrot recipe is that good.

Now, this is not a 5-minute dish, but in 30 minutes or less, you’ll have some tender, caramelized, savory carrots that you’ll eat before your husband tries to get some. (Oh, did I just say that? Whoops…)

 

Brown Butter Carrot Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Whole carrots
  • 1-2 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter) or regular butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Dried rosemary

 

Directions:

  • Wash, peel and dice carrots. (I strongly recommend a mandolin for this step, as a mandolin cuts down on cutting time exponentially.)
  • Heat pan to medium heat; add 1-2 tbsp of butter. I used clarified butter (ghee) for health reasons and for its nutty taste. (For more info on ghee, click here!)
  • Heat butter until it melts; wait until it begins to brownImmediately add carrots and salt. (For more info on browning butter, click here)
  • Cook carrots in butter, stirring consistently on medium to slightly medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until carrots begin to brown on one side.
  • Add rosemary for an additional few minutes of cooking. Enjoy!

 

 

Now excuse me as I go to the grocery store….I have more carrots to make.

Did you like this brown butter carrot recipe? If you make it, share it on social media with the hashtag #amandaplazek and I’ll check out your take on this savory, healthy, delicious recipe!

 

In peace & good health,

Amanda



The Cost of Jaw Surgery in the United States

Today I’m going to share my experience when it comes to the cost of jaw surgery in the United States, but before I do, allow me to introduce myself! So as many of you know, I got jaw surgery in February 2014. When I was in the midst of the jaw surgery planning process, I didn’t find as much support as I would have hoped. In fact, any documentation from jaw surgery were graphic, horrifying pictures of people post-op! It was enough to scare me out of the process entirely. As a result, I’ve worked to pay it forward and help as many people ever since. With my jaw surgery support group, The Smile Diaries (click here to apply), and my YouTube channel (click here to subscribe), I want to keep helping as many people as I can!

 

Let’s address the topic of the day. When it comes to documenting my jaw surgery journey, I get asked constantly: “What is the cost of jaw surgery”? “How much did your jaw surgery cost?”

 

The honest answer to this is…”I can’t tell you how much your surgery will cost!” Technology and methodology is completely different across the world. The cost of jaw surgery depends on too many factors for me to tell you how much yours will cost. But I’ve found that the cost of jaw surgery in the United States can be estimated depending on some crucial questions to your health insurance provider. And so, without further ado, I give you my most recent jaw surgery YouTube video.

 

In this vide I address things like:

  • Things to ask your oral surgeon
  • Things to ask your health insurance provider
  • Budgeting options for your jaw surgery
  • Is your oral surgeon in-network or out-of-network?

and more. I hope this helps! Watch and enjoy:

 

 

Do you want more videos like this? Then click here and subscribe to my YouTube channel!

Do you have questions about the cost of jaw surgery? Reach out to your oral surgeon and healthcare provider! They will help you best. Good luck!

 



the Financial Peace University Journey, Week 5: I Feel a Test Coming On….

We’re 5 weeks deep into our Financial Peace University journey and I feel as if I’m being tested every day! I truly feel like starting FPU at this time of year is a blessing and a huge challenge. You see, I’m a musician, and January-March are my lowest income months of the year. They can be very challenging. (As if the winter months aren’t tough enough.)

 

Let’s think positive first:

The Victories

  • My grocery  budget evened out in the second week! I still think we will need a bit more per week on a grocery budget, but all in all, I’m feeling great about the groceries we’ve been able to stock.
  • Here are some of my big deals that made the budget possible this week:
    • 3 lb. bag carrots: $.59 cents (I bought 3 bags!!)
    • 1 dozen eggs: $.69 cents (I bought 6 dozen, the max. allowed. One of the ways I stretch our budget is to make a frittata 1-2 times/week. But more on that later! 😉 )
    • Frozen veggies: $1.19 each (this is great and easy on the go)
    • 3 lb. bag sweet potatoes: $.99 cents
    • a big bag of dried black beans: $1.39. We used half of it this week on one batch and we ate black beans for days, at both meals! so cost-effective.
  • It looks like my gasoline budget is coming in lower than I estimated, but we’ll see how it plays out during the end of the month!

 

The Trials

  • We’ve been really good about not buying anything but groceries…..but sometimes the trivial stuff gets in the way too. A week ago our smoke detector started beeping. It drove me insane. Every 2 minutes or so, it would beep. I could hear it from our bedroom but my husband couldn’t, as he suffers from high-frequency hearing loss. (I hope that doesn’t come back to bite me in the rear once we have kids! HA!)
    Anyways, we didn’t have 9-volt batteries, which is the type of battery our smoke detector needed. I couldn’t handle the beeping anymore, and I caved. I bought two, 9-volt batteries for about $7 (with a coupon) at Target. I didn’t budget for this. But at least our smoke detector has a fresh battery in it!
  • We are also low on hand soap. Again, this doesn’t sound like a big expense, but when you’ve come in just under budget in the “grocery” category, you do everything you can to avoid breaking it. But alas, I got a huge thing of soap to refill our soap dispensers. $4.99 later, I’m full of soap but didn’t budget for it.
  • I’ve been pumping all of my extra here-and-there income into cash flow for a trip I’m taking in a few weeks. This program has actually made me second guess going on this trip (“look at all of the money I could be using to pay down my debts!!”), but this is a necessary trip for my Master’s thesis research. Unless something awful happens in the next 2 weeks, I’m going.
  • Lastly (and I know this sounds nit-picky): I didn’t budget anything for Valentine’s Day or my husband’s birthday this month. I sound like a horrible wife, I know! But believe me when I say that this is one of the toughest financial months of my year. There really wasn’t much left for wiggle room once I budgeted the essentials. (I’m griping over hand soap and two batteries, for pete’s sake!) So tonight I’m sitting down and figuring out where I can wiggle a little room out for his Valentine’s card and birthday gift (whoops, did I just say that?).

 

 

Summary

So far I’ve been really loving the Financial Peace University journey, I’m not liking the guilt that comes with buying hand soap and batteries. Seriously.

Next month: I won’t have an entire trip to cash flow; I will make a “misc. housewares” section in the budget; I will pray more and trust God more. He’s the one that’s gotten us this far!

 

Thanks for following my Financial Peace University journey! Tune in to see how we do next!

 

 



Baked Apple Oatmeal Recipe: an Easy Crowd-Pleaser Breakfast

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes for an easy breakfast: my baked apple oatmeal recipe! I bake this in the oven while I’m cooking other things and it gives me breakfasts for days. Plus it’s gluten-free! (NOTE: If you have Celiac’s disease, you must get certified gluten-free oats.)

Here we go!

 

Baked Apple Oatmeal Recipe

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  •  2 cups milk (dairy, almond, etc.)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar or pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1-2 finely cut apples
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients listed above.
  • Pour into pre-greased 1 1/2-quart Corningware dish, or any medium-sized baking dish. (I “pre-grease” with coconut oil spray or olive oil spray.)
  • Top with more cinnamon, if you wish. (I’m a cinnamon-aholic.)
  • Bake in oven for about 30 minutes.
  • Oatmeal should come out bubbling. I undercook mine just a tad because it continues to soak up the milk as it is stored in the refrigerator.
  • To reheat: add a few drips of water per serving before reheating in microwave.
  • Enjoy!

 

And that’s it! Would you try it? Feel free to share this baked apple oatmeal recipe with someone who would like it, too!

 



Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University: Am I a Budget-Buster?

As you know, I am currently following Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I feel like I’m out of my league when it comes to budgeting. I know that it takes 3 months to really get the swing of things, but this week was a struggle when it came to groceries.

 

If you know anything about me, you know that I love grocery shopping. I love picking out the foods that we can afford (because of Aldi, my favorite grocery store) and imagine what I will craft this week with them. But because I spent half of our weekly food budget on meats, I didn’t have much left over for the fruits, veggies, dairy and eggs that I get at Aldi.

 

Alas, and alack. I threw caution to the wind and I went over the weekly budget.

 

What does this mean?? I felt like a failure immediately, but I’m working on giving myself some grace. Here’s how I break it down:

I spent $126.95 on:

-10 lbs of lean ground turkey meat

-4 pounds of chicken breast

-a huge container of Parmesan cheese (thanks, Sam’s Club)

-a week’s worth of eggs (6 dozen, to be exact. yes, we go through 6 dozen)

-2 lbs of coffee grounds

-a week’s worth of fruits & veggies

-1 carton of almond milk

-2, 16-ounce containers of organic baby spinach

-6+ bags of frozen vegetables

 

…plus more. But there it is. A week’s worth of groceries (and more) for us. The meats will actually bring us through next week, which ate our budget plenty this week.

But let’s theorize that every single grocery item above is consumed this week. That would break down to:

 

$126.95 / 7 days / 4 meals per day / 2 people = $2.27 per meal.

 

If we were to remove one of the 5 lb containers of ground turkey that will not be eaten until next week, that breaks down to:

($126.95 – $12.95) = $114 ($14 over budget)

$114 / 7 days / 4 meals per day / 2 people = $2.03 per meal.

 

Is that too much math for you? It might be for me!

 

Either way, I’m over-budget this week. Rats.

 

I have to admit, I’m feeling a little bit like a failure on this first week of budgeting. I mean, come on! It’s the first week, and I’ve already gone overboard.

But on the same token, it’s just the first week. It’s given me a chance to see what we typically spend on our groceries each week. Next time I’ll know better.

 

I think this blog entry would be under “The Setbacks” section, but soon I hope it will be a “triumph”!

 

Onward and upward! Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is not conquered in one day.

Interested in what I’m doing with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University? Subscribe to my blog and see how I do in week 2!


Posted on February 10, 2017
By amanda.plazek@gmail.com

Filed under Dave Ramsey Financial Peace, Health
Comments Off on Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University: Am I a Budget-Buster?


Financial Peace University: Baby’s First Budget

It’s me again! So the hubs and I are 1/3rd of the way through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University system and we’ve created our own budget. (How embarrassing is it that I’ve never stuck to a budget? Look, I have no qualms about who I am. But I’m glad that I’m making this change in my life.)

 

Also- I secretly like that our first official budget month will be February because it’s the shortest month of the year! HA! Moving on….

 

We’re using “the envelope system” from Dave Ramsey which essentially directs you to put cash in envelopes for things like groceries, restaurant outings & “fun money” (i.e. Target runs for me). This is meant to make it hurt a little and create more mindfulness about how much we actually spend.

 

We are abiding by the envelope system and being more mindful of our spending.

 

The setbacks:

Realizing what a pain in the side student loans are. Yes, we’ve had them for awhile, but writing out a budget and seeing the percentage of how much we spend towards them is not fun.

The triumphs:

The system is like changing to a healthier lifestyle. You can go as fast as you like, with as much intensity as you like. Some people go to a drastic level and cut anything and everything extra for 12-18+ months. I’m using the same philosophy I use for my healthy eating; 70-80% healthy eating, with 20-30% of the indulgent stuff in-between.

What does that mean, financially? We are cutting some things, but we’re keeping a bit too:
1) we budgeted for a nice dinner out (for either Valentine’s Day or the hubs’s birthday, which is this month)

2) we are keeping the cable bill for now because it’s only about $20 extra/month, and my husband loves his sports!

3) we don’t plan to eat less, grocery-wise. We plan to buy our meats at Sam’s Club (which saves us 50% right there), our vegetables at Target and Aldi (which, again, I’ll explain soon), and use other money-saving techniques in-between. I can’t say we’ll be the “beans-and-rice” couple, but we’ll be mindful!

 

The next steps: 

Sticking to a budget for the month, especially for groceries! Will it be tough, or will it be do-able? Time will tell! Stay tuned!

 

Interested in following Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University? Click here and find a local class near you! (and no, this is not a paid advertisement for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I’m just a normal person who wants to document the journey and hopefully inspire others!)



My Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Journey

I love blogging, and I truly try to be an open book to you, my readers & followers. I’ve decided to share the next chapter in my life because I hope it inspires others to make a positive change in their lives, just like I strive to do with my health & fitness journey.

 

 

When 2017 began, I wanted to make sure that “my house was in order” in more ways than one: I am working on taking care of myself, and what that really looks like. I’m exercising regularly, I’m eating healthy 75% of the time, and I’m working on meditating and other personal care. But something needs to be worked on in my own personal life the most right now: my finances.

 

And so I’ve decided to follow Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and document my journey, just like I’ve done with other major life changes!

I will not share our personal incomes, but I absolutely will share the setbacks and triumphs of the journey.

 

 

The beginning stages:

I am so, unbelievably grateful that my husband has decided to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University with me. We are taking the class from home because my schedule is too ridiculous and I literally never have a consistent night off. So we bought the kit on eBay! Each week we pick a night that will work to completely devote to it. No cell phones, no texting, no Facebook-checking (which my husband has to remind me about).

 

The setbacks:

As a musician and someone who owns her own sales business, my income is really difficult to track. I’ve always used this as an excuse, but I’m following the correct tracking forms that Dave Ramsey suggests for people in my case. I will not allow this to be an excuse anymore!

 

The triumphs: 

I’ll just put it this way: I think every engaged couple should take something like this, because the husband and I have conversations that are open, honest, and exciting about our financial future! We didn’t have these before, and dare I say, this process will make us even closer.

 

What’s next:

Our first budget + using the envelope system!



How to Pick your Oral Surgeon for Jaw Surgery

Today I’m going to talk about jaw surgery prep from the beginning: picking your oral surgeon.

How do you pick the best oral surgeon for you? Shop around!  If you have the ability, ask your orthodontist for recommendations of an oral surgeon.

I consulted with 3 different oral surgeons when I was getting ready for my surgery. I came in with a list of questions that I wanted to ask them, like:

-“How long will I be in the hospital?”
-“What will my recovery time be like?”
-“How long would my surgery be with you?”
-“Would I be wired or banded shut afterwards?”
-“Would your services be covered in my network of health insurance?”
-“How long have you been doing surgeries like mine?”
-“Is there anything else I should know?”

These simple questions revealed a LOT about each surgeon.

1. My first surgeon was new at doing jaw surgery, but trained underneath the guy I ended up choosing. I just couldn’t shake his lack of deep experience.

2. The second guy had been doing this for a very long time….but his philosophy seemed very antiquated. He wanted me to give 1-2 pints of blood the week before the surgery “just in case I had a lot of blood loss” (????). He also said my surgery would be 6 1/2 hours long. “That’s longer than my dad’s kidney transplant!” I responded. I just didn’t get a good vibe with him.

3. The oral surgeon I chose was in-network, and the surgeon my orthodontist recommended. He was a little cocky, but in a good way: “Look,” he said, “I do this surgery multiple times every week. I have an even worse case to do than yours this Thursday. If you were to go with me, I can tell you that everything will be fine.” (This guy’s the oral surgeon that fixes the jaws of our NHL hockey team when they get busted during a game!)

Phew! That’s the first time I’ve ever shared my experience on how I chose my oral surgeon for my jaw surgery!

I plan to make a video about this soon, but in the meantime, I hope this helps!

To those of you who are already knee-deep in oral surgery prep: How did you pick your oral surgeon for jaw surgery? Did you even have a choice?

 

I hope to hear from you!