Monthly Archives: January 2016

He is here!

  
At 12:04 AM on Saturday morning, Critter arrived. We have a son and he is 9 pounds and 21.75 inches long. 

Our world is forever changed.

Friday Food Round-Up!

You Guys.  We weren’t supposed to be cooking this week.  And yet, because of the borrowed time we got from Critter, here we were.  Cooking.  Enjoy this one because I have literally no idea what the Friday Food Round-Up! is going to look like for the next month.  I have set up some different strategies to make sure that we can still do some cooking, but you might just get snaps of avocado toast and stuff that other people made us.  It’s hard to know at this point.

Sunday – Blueberry Pie

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I made another pie, y’all!  Once again, I used Kirsten’s recipe for mixed berry pie and I used frozen berries.  Ultimately, the total cook time was 55 minutes, with tin foil over the top for the last 10.

The reason I made this pie was because we needed a “grain” for our Tu B’Shevat Seder.  Not a bad idea, right?

I may or may not have two more pie crusts in my freezer that I’m just saving for a rainy day.

Sunday – Olive Chicken, Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Mandarin Oranges, Grapes, Dates, and Herby Barley Salad with Butter-Basted Mushrooms

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On the list of things I thought we would not have the opportunity to celebrate this year, Tu B’Shevat (the Jewish New Year for Trees) was at the top of my list.  But like everything else in our lives post-due date/pre-Critter, suddenly we got to do this too!  So we did!  And even though I felt sort of cruddy on Sunday night, we whipped together a feast for our Seder.  Once again, we managed to get grain, barley, grapes, olives, pomegranate, and dates but totally failed at figs.  Next year, we will have all of the fruits.  I swear it.

Wednesday – Kimchi Fried Rice with Soft Fried Eggs and Steamed Broccoli

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Has it been ages since we’ve wheeled out this recipe?  Or ages August?  I’m thinking that I might have been creeped out by kimchi for a spell, but clearly that aversion is gone.   Now, I’m also wondering why we stopped making fried rice altogether instead of simply sending kimchi on a long-term vacation and substituting other things instead.  Hindsight.

What I’ve Been Reading

This month, I ran into the issue of having too many books all at once.  At some point, I’ll have to go back through what ended up being returned to the library to re-reserve what I actually do plan to read.  My life is difficult, I know.

Pretty Girls by Karen Slaughter

Pretty Girls

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Career of Evil

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams

Along the Infinite Sea

The Clasp by Sloane Crosley

The Clasp

The State of Our Financial Union: Stuff We Spend Money On

First off, y’all are actually reading these posts, which is really quite excellent.  When I decided I wanted to write about what we do with our money, I wasn’t sure if people would be into it or if they would be like OMG SNOOZEFEST NEXT PLEASE.  But, based on the messages and comments I have been receiving across the internets, this is something that is apparently at least moderately interesting.  I don’t have a ton left to say in the short term about our money, but I do have a few more posts in various stages of development, that way I can finish sharing what I think is important.  For now.  

With that in mind, if you have tricks and tactics you use to budget/spend/save/invest, please share them!  We are always looking for ways to improve our habits, and I know that other readers are too.  Also, if you have specific questions, feel free to ask.  I am happy to answer what I am able to or to get an answer out of Marcus!

At the risk of becoming insufferable, I thought that this week, it would be fun for us to talk about what Marcus and I do spend money on.  For all that we budget and save and do all of these (snooze) boring things, we do actually like to spend money too.  Marcus made an argument that at the risk of sounding like we’re too carefree with our spending, this week I should discuss what we don’t spend money on, and next week I should share this post.  I decided that we should talk about spending first, because it’s more fun.  He declared this to be “compromise.”  I guess you could call it that.

What are we spending money on?

We travel.  I don’t even know that I really need to explain this one.  When Marcus and I started dating, I had no idea that traveling would be such a big part of our relationship.  I don’t think he knew that either.  We seemed pretty much set-up to go on a European honeymoon, and I guess I sort of thought that we would probably go on one non-cabin vacation per year.  Preferably someplace warm in the winter.

As you all know, we have yet to go on that tropical getaway in the middle of winter.  But we have literally gone everywhere else we have thought of and we have most certainly traveled more than once per year.

We go out to eat.  Most of the time our “eating out” budget comes straight out of our allowances.  Outings with friends, date nights, a quick round of cocktails, those are usually the things that we’re up to, socially speaking.

Allowance aside, we have also been known to budget for once-in-a-lifetime eating experiences that you just can’t account for.  Like the meal we had last January at the now-closed La Belle Vie in Minneapolis.  We spent what I would absolutely describe as an inappropriate amount of money on that meal, but it was possibly the best restaurant meal I have ever eaten in my life.  Another amazing splurge meal was our dinner at Bouchon while we were in Las Vegas.  Now I can check Eat At A Thomas Keller Restaurant off of my culinary life list.

We fix our house.  On some level, this is a practical endeavor, because if you update your house properly, then you should also realize some sort of increase in the selling value of the property.  But our house is the place we spend the most time outside of work, so it makes sense that it should be a place that we want to be.  We also bought a glider last year for Critter’s nursery where again, I cannot even dare to speak the amount of money spent aloud.  But it is glorious, and covered in brown leather, and we will use it until the end of time.

We give to charity.  Probably the coolest thing we’ve been able to do over the past few years is add some serious $$$ to our charitable giving budget.  This is money that we never even get to think about until the point at which we give it away.  It exists in our budget and our bank account, but otherwise, we never really consider it to be “ours.”  When I pray, I often thank God for the financial blessings he has provided us with.  I ask Him to help us to steward those resources in the best way that we can while we are here on earth, and I ask Him to help us to discern where our money can do the most work for other people.  When we are able to give that money to institutions and causes that are making a real difference in the community we live in, that’s a really amazing feeling.  When we’re able to support friends who are making a difference in the lives of other people, that’s a really amazing feeling.

What do you like to spend money on?

Week 40 Update

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Posting today because I’m still pregnant today, and who knows…maybe I won’t be tomorrow?  Or maybe I will.

I am officially at Week 40 and 2 days.  Critter is still refusing to come out.  And when I say “refusing” I mean I honestly think I might have had two braxton hicks contractions this entire pregnancy and they were the day after Thanksgiving.

If Critter does not voluntarily surrender (we are in negotiations right now), I will be induced at 11:00 AM on Friday.  Which should give us a birthday at some point between Friday and Sunday.  I am really trying to avoid this if at all possible, but I am also really over eating pineapple (I had three cans in 72 hours).  I have been eating spicy food and exercising this entire pregnancy, so if those were going to induce labor, that would have happened months ago.

All of this aside, Not Having A Baby Yet has not been a bad thing.  Since we knew this was our last weekend of freedom, Marcus and I have had some really fun date nights together.  On Friday night we went to Revival for dinner and then stopped by the newly opened Milkjam Creamery for dessert.  On Saturday, we went to the Dangerous Man taproom so Marcus could enjoy some beers and then to The Anchor for dinner.  If you’re looking for something fun to do with your people next weekend, I would recommend both adventures.

In a just a bit, we’ll go out to brunch with my family.  Tomorrow night, Jillian and I have dinner plans.

The house is clean.  Yesterday I whipped up more pie crusts and have plans to action another pie today because it is delicious and I want to eat one.  We finally purchased the things we have really been dragging our feet on like a hamper for Critter’s clothes, and a little side table to sit next to the glider.  The side table was an internet-buy so we’ll see when that actually arrives.

I have meal planned for dinners that may or may not happen.  Our grocery list looks like it is straight out of grocery hoarders even though I know there are plenty of people (bless them!) who are planning to feed us.  But I decided it couldn’t hurt to have a bounty of butter, eggs, milk, yogurt, and canned fruit on hand.  Secret confession: I have a deep love of canned peaches.

So we’re waiting and honestly, it’s fine.  Besides the whole thing where I would really prefer to have Critter come out on its own instead of requiring any sort of chemical intervention, I continue to feel great.  This has probably been the most boring, most comfortable pregnancy in the history of earth and I am so thankful for that.  I’m just praying for a boring and healthy delivery for both Critter and me at this point and would appreciate yours as well.

Friday Food Round-Up!

If Marcus ever tries to tell you that we’re not eating enough vegetables, do not believe him!  The photos do not lie!  Or, maybe this week, I just upped our game a bit.  Even I know that December was the month of all carbs.

Meal planning seemed somewhat bizarre this week because I had no real idea of what I wanted to eat, and I had no real idea of what we were actually going to have the chance to eat.

Sunday – Chickpea Salad

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Once again, I actioned a batch of chickpea salad.  We were extremely short on garlic-stuffed olives, so I substituted kalamatas and it was actually quite a pleasant substitution.  I would HIGHLY recommend giving it a try!

Sunday – Raspberry Pie

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I had two more pie crusts in my freezer so I knew it would be perfect to action one more pie before Critter came, and it would be a nice offering to bring with to the Steelers playoff party we were attending.

This was the first-ever double-crust pie I have made, and I was Most Proud Of Myself.  Instead of doing mixed berries, I did raspberries because if I had to pick, I would say they are my favorite kind.  I used frozen fruit and was planning to thaw the berries until Kirsten informed me that I could use them frozen and simply needed to add another ~10 minutes onto the cook time.  I think we ultimately ended up adding 15, but it turned out perfectly!  She is a wise woman.

Monday – Dinner Salads and Corn and Green Chile Soup

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Simple meal, friends.  I’ve only made this soup twice now, but it is frighteningly easy to assemble and you can whip it up with ingredients that primarily emerge from bags in the freezer  (corn) or cans.  I think next time I would consider adding some diced potatoes just for a little extra bulk.

Wednesday – Mexican Chicken Salad with Taco Ranch Dressing from The Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook

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What I cannot believe is that we haven’t made this meal since summertime.  It just doesn’t feel like it was that long ago, but again it’s not like we have really been making salads like crazy either.

Thursday – Channa Masala with Steamed Broccoli, Rice, and Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan

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Truth be told, I was not entirely sure that we would get to make this meal this week when we were meal planning.  As it turns out, we did get to make channa masala for dinner.  And as always, it was one of our favorites.

Master Bathroom Renovation: We’re Done!

A full year later, we are mission complete on the master bathroom remodel.  From re-tiling the shower, to ripping out the world’s ugliest vanity, to re-painting, we are finally finished.

I don’t know where I got it in my head that I wanted our bathroom to be navy.  What I do know is thanks to Pinterest (which I RARELY use), once I saw some navy bathrooms with gray and/or white tile, vanities, etc. I knew that it was possible!  For paint color, we used Behr’s Durango Blue in a gloss finish.  I chose a gloss finish because as my mother-in-law pointed out, it was entirely possible that painting such a small space such a dark color could just ultimately end up sucking all of the light out of the room.

Without further adieu, the finished product.

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There are a few more small things we’ll do as time allows.  We’d like to switch out all of the outlets and switchplates so they are a pure white (versus the beige/cream that is likely original to the house), and install a full-length mirror where we currently have the half-mirror that is a hold-over from the terrible wrap-around vanity days.  These are deeply non-urgent matters.

And not to beat a dead horse, but so I can remember how far we have come, the before.

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It’s a miracle, really.