Friday Food Round-Up!

I meant to write more this week and then it all went poof! But if we’re being honest, it doesn’t matter and we all survived.

ANYWAY.

I wrote and posted the recipes for Pizza Braid and Easy Slow Cooker Yellow Coconut Curry Chicken.

I also sort of decided that I didn’t want to cook this week and we needed to get some food out of our freezer anyway.

Things we ate from the freezer: Chicken Noodle Soup, Crockpot Red Beans and Rice, Slow Cooker Lasagna Tortellini Soup, Cheesy Turkey Mac, Corn Cheddar and Scallion Strata.

I made Easy Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Chili and corn muffins for a friend.

And we did eat a dinner I made. Once.

Thursday – Sheet Pan Chicken Sausages with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Wilted Spinach.

This garlic chicken sausage actually moved with us, from freezer to freezer to freezer, from the townhouse. So it was time to use it up!

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Friday Food Round-Up!

This week, more cooking on the stove! And a lot of leftovers that meant generally less cooking overall. While I was doing our meal planning for next week I realized we had just a ton of food in the freezer so my goal is to use some of that up!

Saturday – Spicy Chicken and Chips from Farmhouse Rules, Salad

This meal was a competition for Least Photogenic Plate.

Sunday – Sausage Pasta Casserole from Farmhouse Rules, Salad

This meal gave us two nights worth of dinners (shoutout for not cooking!) and a pair of lunches. Worth it.

Tuesday – Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja, Steamed Rice

Another Crockpot “dump” meal straight from the freezer!

Wednesday – Baked Potatoes with Chili, Salad

My sister-in-law joined us for dinner. I pulled the chili out of the freezer and poof!

Thursday – Slow Cooker Yellow Coconut Curry Chicken, Steamed Rice, Wilted Spinach

I failed at snapping this. Marcus ate it for dinner Thursday night, I am having it tonight. It will feed us both on Saturday.

Recipe for the chicken: ~2 lbs of chicken breasts, one can of coconut milk, one bottle of Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce. Cook on low in your crockpot for 6-8 hours. Shred chicken. Serve over rice.

Miscellaneous – Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

I had two bananas that needed to be used and some eggs to get out of my fridge.

Naptime is the Most Precious Time

Before Glitter arrived, I napped when Critter napped. Every single day.

This may have had something to do with the fact that I had a baby who didn’t sleep through the night until he was nearly ten months old or the fact that I was pregnant shortly thereafter but who knows, really.

Before Glitter arrived, I wondered how I would ever have time to pay attention to two children.

I still don’t know.

But the naptime hours are precious. While Critter is sleeping I am not napping with him because I have a little girl who is bright eyed and bushy tailed and wants to read her book about flowers, okay mom? Sometimes it’s her naptime too and for those hours in the day, as she sleeps on me, everything in my house is still. Her, me, him.

And then there are the sometimes mornings when Glitter sleeps in and Critter and I get to eat breakfast in peace with both hands and play choo choos and Hugglesaurus attack and sit and read in my lap. Nothing in my house is still, but for the shortest time, it is just me and my little bud again.

The State of our Financial Union: 2017 in Review

Why am I sharing this? As always, on the chance you are curious about what others do with their $$$. I’ll also share in separate posts what we are doing for 2018 and some tools or information sources I have found to be useful this year. As always, I’d love to hear what you are up to or any resources you want to share!

This was a banner year and I will just say outright I give thanks to the Lord every day for provisioning us. Marcus and I try to keep up our end of the bargain by being mindful of what we have, and by paying it forward to those who need it through financial donations and volunteerism.

Our post-tax savings rate (Roth 401(k)s, Roth IRAs, brokerage accounts, 529 plans, cold hard cash) was about 25% of our income this year. Pre-tax, we also maxed out an HSA (which we promptly spent most of having a baby!). Back pat, golf clap. What did we all do?

We saved some money.  Things that help us to achieve our savings goals: not spending our raises, living with my parents while we were trying to find a house. Other motivations: not wanting to worry about money. Ever.

We bought a house. Our overall cash stash decreased a bit this year because we were saving to purchase a house! That said, the down payment and repair/renovation money was always in its own silo if that makes sense? We always knew where and what it was going to. I will say that we greatly benefitted from the sale price of our home. There is a high demand in our market for “affordable” housing, which is what our townhouse was considered.

We sold some stuff.  Like the fan that was in the dining room of our house (who has a ceiling fan in their dining room?!).  The refrigerator in our basement.  The large sectional couch I should not have allowed into my house in the first place (it has a new life as a throne for a squad of Dungeons and Dragons players…seriously).  Our old patio furniture that does not fit on our new deck.  So we made a few extra bucks.  I also want to give a shout-out to Marcus for believing that we actually could sell that couch.  It took about three tries to find serious buyers but we did it!

We started using our Roth IRAs as a medium term savings vehicle. This is a longer story so it is going to be a separate post with some additional information so you can determine if this is right for you.

We pre-paid our 2018 property taxes.  To take advantage of current tax laws before the new tax laws go into effect for 2018. There is some debate about whether or not you can deduct these on your 2017 taxes. Either way we were going to pay the property taxes so this gives us our best shot at maximizing a tax benefit. If we didn’t pre-pay them our window of opportunity shrunk to zero.

We advanced some 2018 charitable giving into the end of 2017.  Again to take advantage of current tax laws before the new tax laws go into effect for 2018. We didn’t give anything we weren’t planning to already.

Friday Food Round-Up!

This week, We enjoyed the wonders of frozen meals, froze a few more single-serve meals, and I threw out all of our romaine on Thursday because apparently there is some sort of insane E. Coli outbreak. Now we own spinach.

Saturday – Egg Bake, Pigs in a Blanket, Kringle, Fruit

Mom actioned this brunch and it was so pretty I just HAD to include it. It was also tasty. Surprise. Please note the pigs in a blanket. Not a food I grew up with, a food my mom started making when I was 29.

Sunday – Pizza Braid

I had thought this recipe was already written up for the blog but it wasn’t so that is my project for the coming weeks. This one is easy and a winner!

Monday – Stuffed Cabbage without the Roll from Farmhouse Rules

This is me, actually cooking on my stove.

Tuesday – Slow Cooker Turkey, White Bean, and Pumpkin Chili from Skinny Taste Fast and Slow, Salad, Northern Cornbread from The Joy of Cooking

The corn muffins were a last minute add and I am glad I made them because I froze four for later and four went with our dinner later in the week!

Wednesday – Garden Pie, Salad

Freezer meal for the win!

Thursday – Green Chile Potato Soup, Salad, Northern Cornbread from The Joy of Cooking

We haven’t made this in FOREVER.

A 23 month/3 month update

Hey look. A snap of Glitter conducting Baby Business to get us into this. Also shoutout to Kate and Little C for loaning us their Bumbo since Critter never used one.

I suppose I should share some sort of update about the children since Critter turns two at the end of the month! Yes, that means I will be raising a glass to surviving four months of two under two!

December was a month of plagues for Critter. The virus/vomiting incident. The pink eye and subsequent antibiotic eye drop allergy. The grand finale was a plague cough with a VERY low fever that morphed into a double ear infection on New Year’s Day. I will be honest, at the end of that very long-feeling long weekend I was praying to God that the mystery plague was treatable with antibiotics. I am sick of my little guy being sick! It is not fun for anyone.

Is he going through the two year sleep regression? I think so! But we don’t let that bring us down!

With the encouragement of friends we signed him up for some parks and rec activities this spring. We’ll do six weeks of toddler t-ball starting in February and then in March the Dads are in charge of six weeks of toddler basketball one night per week. I have very low expectations but I think it will be fun for him and will help us to pass some of this terrible winter time.

He also alternates between counting items numbering over two or simply declaring them to be “so many.” It seems efficient.

Glitter is my darling dear. She is learning to use her hands and loves (LOVES) to “talk” to us. She is wearing nine month jammies and is still just the sweetest baby.

Her champion sleep has declined and she now wakes up 1-2 times per night like a normal baby (THANK YOU SLEEP REGRESSION) but with the pediatrician’s blessing we’ll do some sleep training after her four month appointment.

After the holidays, we are in desperate need of some routine and structure in our lives. ECFE is starting up again, daycare is back in session after a week off, library storytime is back after a monthlong hiatus. We are ready for all of it.

Every day at home with two of them is still The Most Exhausting, but also every day at home with two of them ends with a feeling of intense gratitude for these little creatures we have been entrusted to shepherd through this life.

My New Year Resolutions

I don’t have TONS of goals for 2018 (my children are little and I am not a glutton for punishment) but I have a few. Now that I am living in the light of (ideally) never being pregnant again, I honestly feel such a lightness and joy about getting on with my life. I still have little ones but I don’t feel like I am “waiting,” if that makes sense. Here is what I want to do!

  • Work on our photo album. We all know I am a bad crafter so it should also come as no surprise that photo books are just not something I can possibly get together. A photo album? Something I can do! We’ve been printing more and more pictures since having little ones so I want to go through ALL of our photos and get the ones we love printed so they can go into the album I ordered in December. It holds 300 photos. I think we might get close to filling it! And if we do, I’ll order another.
  • Exercise three times per week. Truth be told the only time I used our treadmill after moving (in my defense it was summer!) was the day I went into labor with Glitter. Generally I see myself doing some combination of hot yoga (or a workout video) once per week and a couple of power walking sessions. Once Glitter has a set bedtime (which she will by mid-February), this should be possible.
  • Buy new shoes. No seriously I am for real. I have worn through the soles of my running shoes, Critter ruined my moccasins, my Revas have holes in the soles. I was waiting until Glitter was born to see what size my feet would be. She is born, the time is now.
  • Get back into reading books. I feel like I lost momentum at the end of my maternity leave. I am a mentally healthier, more interesting person when I read. Shoutout to the Kindle for iPhone app and the Hennepin County Library eBooks collection for making that impossibly easy for me to accomplish.
  • Finishing my SHRM-SCP recertification. Boring, but due by the end of 2018 so it has to get done!