Model Homes

The other day MJ and I went looking at a new home community being built near our neighborhood.  Are we in the market for a house?  No, absolutely not.  I love our house.  I never want to move ever, even though my husband has already decided that someday we will.  Today is not that day, but I've had a thing for looking at model homes ever since I was a kid.  I was the one always begging my mom to stop and look at model homes anytime I saw a sign with an arrow pointing this way, for no other reason than because I loved the perfect decor, and imagining what it would be like to have my very own model home some day.  Being there at the model homes, by the same builder as our house brought back so many memories from our home buying journey.  The price sheet.  That new home smell.  The beautiful decor and brand new everything.  This time, it was just for fun, but back then we wanted a house so badly and looking at model homes was the same thing as looking at what we couldn't have.
Model Home viewing 2016-Love this room!!!!
I thought I would enjoy house hunting, but I didn't.  It didn't consist of leisurely strolling through perfectly staged model homes and picking out the one we want.  It was stressful.  It consisted of spending every waking moment scouring listings, viewing homes, and sometimes feeling like an intruder marching through people's homes while they quietly sit on the couch watching TV.  We only did it for about three months, but I could already see how time consuming and how impossible it was actually going to be.  A lot of people were still scared to buy, but there were enough buyers taking advantage of low prices, that you had to get there fast.  No matter how fast you got there, or how much over asking you might be willing to pay the cash offers were winning it all.  MJ was between jobs.  While not the ideal situation for getting financed, it helped that he had extra time during the weekday while I was at work.   After seeing disappointing house after disappointing house, I was exhausted and I was over it.  One day, it was a cluttered house that smelled like moldy cat.  Another day, it was a house missing the front part of it's stove.  It was starting to look like we had a choice between a fixer upper or a move-in ready condo, but we didn't want to do a lot of work and we didn't want a condo.  We found a large low priced, home with stately columns inside that we liked enough even though it needed work, but I don't even think we could find out the status.

One Sunday after viewing homes with our realtor, we decided to stop by a new home community close to where we were living just for the heck of it.  She'd mentioned it, but we didn't bring her with us, because it really wasn't an option.  We just wanted to look.  We went into the office that routes you to the model homes.  They handed us a printout of prices, and it was exactly as I expected.  Too much.  We marveled at the beautiful decor and breathed in the fresh new home smell.  It was exactly what we wanted, if only we could.  Upstairs laundry room, half bath downstairs, and double sinks in the master bathroom.  There were three models and each one, was a little bit smaller than the next, but they were all gorgeous.  I could see myself living in any one of them.  "Well, it would be nice.  But we can't afford it," I said with a sigh when we walked out.  It would be a miracle if we found a home at all, let alone a new one.

We continued searching MLS listings every day, and wondered if we would ever find the right one, let alone by our fast approaching wedding date.  We were crammed in a 400 square foot studio, planning our wedding, and house hunting.  Money was flying out of our bank accounts at an alarming rate and I was stressed beyond belief.  We put in an offer on a nice condo.  We didn't like the apartment style parking situation outside, or the high HOA fees but our options were limited.  We were also nervous about the commute, but we were running out of time and like most people in California on a tight budget we'd have to take what we could get.

It was MJ's idea.  "You know what?  Maybe we should consider the new build."  We wouldn't have to battle it out with ten other buyers.  By the time we paid hefty HOA fees at a condo, or paid over asking just to get in, we might be better off.  It was more than what I wanted us to spend, but I agreed.  We rushed over to the new build, and made a quick decision to do another credit check by the preferred lender so we could get in on the current phase pricing. 
The model of our house
A few days later we signed the final contract, and it was ours.  But what had we done?  The base price got us a builder basic square box with walls.  We hadn't even been to the design studio yet.  There were still hurdles that we didn't even know we'd have to jump through, but it was the moment the house was officially ours.  Nervous but excited, we went over to the model home again and viewed it with a different set of eyes.  Before, it was "Oh how nice, I wish," and a glimpse of something we couldn't have.  This time was different.  It wasn't just something we wished for, it was something that we had.  We'll have room for a king size bed in the master, and an oh my gosh walk in closet.  I ran my hand over the cool stark white bathroom counters and could hardly believe it. I was so excited.  "We did it," I said to him.  We hugged and kissed in the entry way, and it was a triumphant and happy moment for both of us.
Our growing neighborhood in 2010
We chose flooring and kitchen cabinets at the design studio.  We visited the ditches, which became the wood frame, which became our house every week.  After a few setbacks, we finally secured funding.  Back and forth we went to the model homes measuring rooms, and visualizing where everything would go as we shopped for furniture.  Three months later, and we had our very own model home.  Well, not exactly.  We couldn't afford all the upgrades, so we had to do some of them later.  It is not as exquisitely decorated.  Believe me I tried!   We don't live in a magazine ad, but we have lived there happily ever after for almost six years, and it all started with a walk through a model home.  Just for the heck of it.

Our home buying journey

Easiest Meal Prep Ever

We've been meal prepping for going on 12 weeks straight now, and I love it.  I wouldn't want to cook every day even even if I had the time, and this way nobody has to.  At first it seems like a lot of work, but it really isn't and it saves us a lot of time and energy, throughout the busy workweek.  I don't get home from work or to the gym until 5:30ish.  I don't finish working out until about 6:30-6:45pm.  I'm not out of the shower until about 7:15ish.  I do not have time to cook dinner at 7:15pm, eat, and be in bed by 9:00pm.
My lunch and dinner (snacks not pictured)
Grocery shopping is easy, because the menu for the week is simple and all set.  We buy similar whole foods every week and make enough food to last the entire week.  Things like seasoning, rice, almonds, peanut butter and string cheese are purchased with enough to last for a while.  We go back back for perishables, like fruit, veggies, milk, and more meat every week. We grocery shop and meal prep either Saturday or Sunday depending on weekend plans.  Sometimes the meal prep happens over the course of two days, and sometimes it happens on one.

A photo posted by Cece (@mahoganydrive) on

I do the easiest meal prep known to man.  The only thing that requires actual cooking is the meat, because neither one of us is eating rice right now.  It only takes about 2 hours in all.  In the amount of time it takes me to make one meal, we can make ten. We do the dishes and then we are done with the kitchen for the week.  I do insist that we stay on top of plastic container washing so we don't end up with an overflowing sink full of plastic containersat the end of the week.  We usually marinate chicken and cut broccoli on one day, and then throw the meat in the oven the next day.  Later on, we get back in the kitchen to dish everything out into the plastic containers, and portion out whatever snacks we need. Fresh broccoli is so much better tasting than frozen, and it's super easy to make.  Actually, we don't even cook it anymore.  Our house was literally stinking of broccoli!  It was MJ's idea to put a little bit of water in the meal prep container and microwave it along with our meat so that we are eating fresh crispy broccoli every day. Both of us opt for no cook breakfast's.  MJ has been drinking shakeology.  I eat two slices of Whole Wheat bread with peanut butter, which is my favorite meal of the day. 

During the workweek I just need healthy meals to put in my mouth and fuel me through the week.  It's kind of a blur anyway, so dinner doesn't have to be anything special as long as it's nutritionally balanced and keeps me satisfied.  I don't mind eating the same thing every day, but you don't have to be boring.  MJ likes variety and sometimes cooks Chicken and Turkey plus a pasta salad.  It would be much more time consuming, but another option is to make three separate meals, all at once.  I stick with chicken.  Chicken, chicken, chicken all day every day.  I am a slow cook, and even I can make chicken quickly.  I don't even set the timer.  A digital meat thermometer tells me when it's done.  The marinade powder we use is really tasty and if I want to spend a bit of extra time I can pan sear it before baking to pack in even more flavor.  I usually don't.  Even better, if MJ throws all the meat on the grill.  For lunch I eat chicken with baby carrots because they are easily transportable and don't require cooking.  For dinner I eat it with broccoli.

The hardest thing is figuring out how much you need of everything to last the week.  I eat 5 lbs of chicken by myself and it takes at least 7 heads of broccoli to feed us both for a week.  We were short on chicken this week, so we are still figuring it out. 

A photo posted by Cece (@mahoganydrive) on

We use Reditainer® - 2 Compartment Containers.I love having grab and go healthy meals all ready to go in the refrigerator during the week.  I don't have to worry about cooking.  We don't have to spend time thinking about what we will have for dinner, and we don't have to stop on the way home and pick something up.  It makes sticking to my specific meal plan really, really easy.  I am entitled to a cheat meal on the weekends so I have that to look forward to.  MJ enjoys cooking so he will want to cook something more exciting, at some point but during the weekdays our simple easy meal prep is perfect.

I'm not a cook, so if it's not easy, I'm not doing it and if I can do this meal prep anyone can.


I haven't done any confessions in a while....

I confess that we have a missing TV remote control that we've stopped looking for.  Luckily the remote from the extra room also works in the loft.  We have no dogs or kids to blame it on.  It's just gone.

I confess that I just bought a pair of tall black boots in the Fall and I'm probably going to end up getting rid of them.  I really, really hate wasting money, but they hurt and sometimes I even avoid wearing them. I am really careful when I buy shoes to make sure they don't hurt because I can't be bothered with uncomfortable shoes anymore.  There is something really weird about the shape of them that hurt my heels and the bottom of my feet and if insoles don't work they have got to go.

I confess that I cried during Katelyn and Tyler's wedding on Teen Mom OG.  I probably should have started this one out with just confessing that I watch a show called Teen Mom OG.  Ugh! But I'm addicted.  The wedding was gorgeous.  They are so cute together and I think it is amazing that they were high school sweethearts. got pregnant, gave that child up for adoption, had a second child and are still together.  Tyler's dad was out of prison. Their adopted out daughter and family were there,  three of the other Teen Mom girls were there, and it was all just so wonderful I couldn't help myself. Teen Mom 2 starts up soon.  I confess that I watch that one too.

I confess that I have no interest whatsoever in watching Fuller House.  I loved Full House, and I think it's so cool that they have reunited to revive the show.  From what I hear, I'm missing out, but I just don't want to watch it.  I'm really weird about committing to spend time on watching shows.  I watch Teen Mom, but won't want Fuller House....yeah.  Weird. 

I confess that I've been to Target twice and placed two online orders in the space of two weeks.  I'm a weird shopper.  I'm really indecisive, I agonize over deciding which size to get, and I always want the best deal.  So this is what happened.  I went to Target and purchased one item, and ordered two online that weren't in my size in store.  When the order arrived I realized that the striped version was sized differently than the solid versions.  I hate that!  I went to Target to return them and try on other cute things I saw online.  I wanted to try on for size, but then order online because there was a promo code for $15 off.  One skirt caught my eye that wasn't available on line so I purchased that in store and made a second online order for the rest.  Hopefully I will not need to return to Target for a while...but since they didn't have all the things in store for me to try on...I wouldn't bet on it. 

I confess that I am so tired I want to face plant into my keyboard and I've felt that way most of last week and every single day this week except for Tuesday.  I am very bad at sleeping.  Not that I don't try really hard to be good at it.  I'm usually in bed by 9 because I am so tired, but it either takes me a long time to fall asleep, I wake up before my alarm for no reason, or I can't get into that deep REM sleep that is necessary to feel rested the next day.  Sometimes it's a combination of all three, but I end up feeling like a zombie at work the next day.   So what was different about Monday nights sleep?  I wish I knew, but part of it could be that I had class until 9:55pm and it was a long day.  However, my level of exhaustion does not always make a difference.  Insomnia sucks.

I confess that I have been thinking about my cheat meal all week.  It's probably a sign that I haven't been getting enough carbs because I haven't craved a cheat meal like this in a long time.  I'm thinking a hamburger with fries will be just the thing.  It's going down tomorrow.

The Thing About Motivation

If you had told me a year ago that I would be doing Bikini Body Guide again I would not believe it.  The workouts are a short and sweet 28 minutes, but the sweat I was drenched in after each work out was anything but.  By week eight I was exercising six times per week.  Three circuits and three days of either steady state or high intensity interval cardio.  I was so tired and so done and so determined that I would never ever do anything like it ever again.  I like the workouts.  I'll incorporate them into my routine, but never will I ever commit to twelve weeks of that kind of suffering again.  That's what I said, but almost a year to the month later and I'm doing it again.  This time it's Bikini Body Guide 2.0 (week 13-24) and the craziest thing is that I'm actually excited about it.  Ask me how I feel in two months though.

I finished Bikini Body Guide (1.0 week 1-12) in June just in time for Maui.  I knew that I had done everything I could have done (except start earlier), and I felt okay but I wasn't satisfied.  Mind you, there is a good chance that I will never be satisfied with my body.  That's just how I am, but I still have hope that some day I will at least feel comfortable in my skin, and I wasn't even close.  Not one to give up, I kept exercising. Not with the vigor and consistency of BBG, but I was still in the game until I wasn't.  It wasn't even the holidays that did me in.  It was frustration with lack of progress and those muffin tops I couldn't seem to get rid of.  I felt like the only person in the world who didn't lose weight on Whole30 or have a magical transformation after BBG.  It was just a lot of things, but ultimately I gave up because for the last two years I'd lost the ability to control my body I so treasured.  I was damned if I did and damned if I didn't, so why bother.  Then the time changed.  The weather got cold, the nights got darker, and I went into hibernation.  It was too dark to walk after work, it was too cold to get out of my pajamas.  My motivation had completely left the building.

I quit exercising altogether in December, but come January I was ready to get back on the wagon.  I signed up for an 8 week exercise challenge on Instagram with @Ashley_Cavitt to keep me accountable and get me motivated.  I had no idea what the workouts would be or what I'd be eating, but I needed to be told what to do.  I had an exercise schedule, macro recommendations, and bi-weekly check-ins.  The rest was up to me.  There were lots of gym days with lifting and cardio.  I had to google almost every exercise before workouts, but I did it.  I figured it out and I pushed myself in the gym and did cardio afterwards when all I wanted to do was get home.  The circuit training exercises, that could be done at home took me anywhere from 40-60 minutes long to finish.  They were longer and harder than the Bikini Body Guide and I didn't think that was even possible.  I did five days a week for eight weeks.  I didn't miss a single work out and there was exactly one cheat meal and a few cheat items.  It was so hard to do it day in and day out when I saw no progress and was hopeless that I would, but that was nothing new.  It hurt my heart to pay good money to get my hair did on a Wednesday and sweat it out on a Thursday, but it had to be done.  I was chronically sore for the first 4 weeks.  I meal prepped.  I hit my macros.  I pushed myself and FINALLY started to feel like I was making progress.  It was not free and I'm 99.9 % sure I didn't win the challenge, but it was time and money well spent.  

Ashley kept saying the body will respond over time.  It is all about consistency and the changes you see physically that don't necessarily show up on the scale.  I'd heard it all before.  Blah, blah, blah in one ear and out the other.  It's always been about the scale for me so I never believed it before and I still didn't until I finally saw and accepted it for myself.  My measurements and body fat went down.  I could see the difference in pictures.  I have gained so much strength that I'm actually worried that my BBG workout schedule won't be challenging enough.  I probably shouldn't say that when I'm only on week one!  In one circuit I whipped out three sets of twenty burpees like it was no big deal and I remember how hard ten was a year ago.  The sad thing is that I think I gave up too soon last year after BBG 1.0.  My measurements went down, then too.  I was shocked, because I was so upset that I had accomplished nothing.  I did a side by side with my progress pics.  I saw the difference but I was impatient and blinded by lack of progress on the scale.  I believed that because I didn't have the kind of drastic transformation in twelve weeks that I see all over Instagram I failed.  If the scale did not drop significantly, I failed.  If I couldn't fit back into my size 25 designer jeans I failed.  It was that black and white for me.  Had I not lost all hope, I would probably be much further along right now, but that's fine because this is the journey that I am on.  It isn't going to be easy for me and I have to learn the hard way.  I used to consider exceeding 800 calories a day failure, so it is going to take me a little while to get where I need to be not just physically, but emotionally as well.

Motivation is one of those things that can't be forced.  Well, it can be but it's really just you forcing yourself and not motivation in the truest sense of the word.  Sometimes we need to be forced, but it is so much better when the drive is already there.  When you are willing to do what it takes and ready to take on the challenge.  I already know there will be plenty of days over the next 12 weeks where I will want to give up, but for now I will ride this wave of motivation as far into the sunset as I can.

I posted my 8 week progress pics on Instagram @MahoganyDrive.  Don't ask me how it's any different, but I'm not not posting them here!