Nico's Room
I came under budget after my 18 days of travel & I celebrated by buying this shoe rack & dumping my shoe bin. 

I came under budget after my 18 days of travel & I celebrated by buying this shoe rack & dumping my shoe bin. 

Not shopping for a whole year made me picky! I only spent $10.70 buying these two items on my second hand shopping trip today! #fashion #thrift (at Clothes Mentor)

Not shopping for a whole year made me picky! I only spent $10.70 buying these two items on my second hand shopping trip today! #fashion #thrift (at Clothes Mentor)

July 11-18

Mike the Tiger habitat visit, taco dinner, Louisiana poetry reading
Saturday afternoon walk to the record sale + double date with Jim & Claudia at Le Bon Temps for Fried Green Tomato BLT + microwave popcorn, fruit popsicles, & The King’s Speech
Sunday daytrip to Akers, LA for fried catfish at Middendorf’s
Monday impromptu coffee with Muriel & Iku + Tony’s pinto & andouille stew + walk around the city park lake
last day in BR restaurant week dinner at Leroy’s (pot roast poutine, shrimp & grits, beignets) & sunset by the LSU lakes
flight back to DET
oil change, where my car received a clean bill of health!
CCHS alumni happy hour at Bar 145 with Amanda + tea date with Jamalle!

Weekend Wishlist:
Art
Polka dots!
Birthday party/Filipino foods
Finishing touches on 18 days of travel
Returning to my own bed!

June 27-July 10

Weekend spent trifling around my house for three straight days unshowered in workout clothes while I wrote my final paper for the summer seminar.
Dismantling & vacuuming every inch of my bedroom.
Made pizza dinner with Sandra
Full on spa day Monday
Long, walk around Ox to scope out some living spaces
USA/BEL match on the big screen at ASC
Packing for my 18 day trip!
Commence 18 day vacation by picking up le Tony at CVG
Dinners with Ramstetters at the Montgomery Inn & Primavista, Cincy Zoo date
to Cleveland: burger bar, hotel pool, +fireworks from the balcony; Brunch at First Watch x2; JASON & KELLIE’S WEDDING!
To Toledo: dinner at the docks with Amanda, tour of Michael’s garden, dinner with Bri & Steve
To Baton Rouge: rows 6 & 2 success on our flights; dinner (duck & sausage gumbo!) at the Chimes with Muriel; rogue organizing le Tony’s house; grocery store investigating (Winn Dixie is VERY impressive!); downtown riverfront exploring + 20-monthiversary dessert & games at the Breakroom at IPO; spontaneous trip to Mr. Ronnie’s donuts after reading a rave review in 225 Magazine

Weekend Wishlist:
Mike the Tiger
Putt putt golf
Poetry
Double date(s)
pancakes, tacos

*I didn’t bring my laptop on this trip. Although this is a decision I am happy with overall, some things, like using tumblr, on my phone/kindle have proved tiresome. I will adamantly say that kindle might be the worst device! Its apps are a mess & ability to connect to wifi has been unbelievably spotty! I have also missed my laptop when it comes to keeping up with my fave tv shows, as the kindle proves utterly useless for running a whole episode (though the netflix app works well).

Zoo date! #cincinnati  (at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden)

Zoo date! #cincinnati (at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden)

Tags: cincinnati

My 2-week Netflix Fast

Two weeks ago I decided to stop watching Netflix for a week. The plan was to listen to a Podcast every time I would normally gravitate toward killing 45 min-an hour/3 hours watching something, or three things, on Netflix. I had several things in mind when I made this decision:

  1. I had a project deadline coming up at the end of that week and I wanted to shut down one of my avenues for procrastinating. 
  2. Watching more than one episode of a TV show in a single day made me feel so lazy and guilty!
  3. I had been having some trouble sleeping all that week before, and I had this idea that the light from the screen had been messing with my melatonin production. 
  4. I was slightly annoyed by the 700+ unplayed podcasts in my iTunes library. 

Turns out I’m really fidgety when I only have audio. Prior to this, I had primarily listened to podcasts only when I was walking to/from the gym. I found myself doing a bunch of stuff while I was listening to these podcasts––sometimes just doing yoga stretches, wanting to write in my journal, cleaning and organizing my bedroom, cleaning and organizing my computer files, among other things.

One day, I sat down and also organized my podcasts. I unsubscribed on all but three of probably 15! I kept Kimberly Wilson’s Tranquility Du Jour and two yoga podcasts. Then, I searched for something new, with particular functions: The Jillian Michaels Show to listen to en route to/from the gym, KCRW’s Good Food to listen to while cooking/eating, The Wardrobe Code because I wanted a fashion advice one. 

I extended the Netflix Fast into a second week because I felt really good at the end of that first week. I was sleeping better, yes. I was using my time better, sometimes. I was learning so much from listening, getting inspiration, and accomplishing so many things - like organizing and decluttering (inspired by tranquility du jour episode on tiny living & the Wardrobe Code). I also thought it’d encourage me to use my time well as I was writing my final paper for my summer course this past week/end.

Tonight, as I think about returning to my Netflix Queue, I am feeling kind of hesitant. Do I really need to find out what happened next on Twin Peaks? 

Now that I am running out of writing steam, I realize this post isn’t very exciting… I’ll think about some way to jazz it up in the next couple days. LOL

» Easy Black Bean Dip | Two Peas & Their Pod

In my efforts to eat up everything I in my house before vacation, it has come down to having a bunch of tortilla chips left and having NO salsa, cheese, hummus, or otherwise appropriate dips to eat with them. Lucky for me, I typically have 3-4 varieties of dry beans on hand. I searched for a vegan bean dip recipe (because I’ve only made them full of cheese before & I don’t have any cheese). I found this, which was easy to adapt to dry black beans. 

Using only 8 oz of beans, I have more dip than I’ll need for the chips, but the spices on this are just right, so I can use the rest for rice & beans for a lunch or dinner over the next few days. 

Maybe my next 365 day (or maybe a 52 week?) challenge will be the decluttering, simplifying, & downsizing one. What might be good parameters for that?

As noted in my financial visions post, I plan to move into a 1BR place next summer & that means I will say goodbye to such storage possibilities as the basement & garage in the 3 BR house I share w/ roomies. In the year ahead, I would like to just get down to the essential THINGS because I have so many things that just take up space in my life and serve little to no functions.

Possible rules:

  • Do not buy any more: hats (all kinds/seasons), scarves, gloves; shot glasses; coffee mugs;
  • Weekly give away/throw away?

For today’s decluttering:

  • I boxed up my 4-cup Mr. Coffee machine & the filters. I bought a miniature French press several months ago which I’ve primarily been using to make coffee for one anyway. It actually makes 12 ounces which is two modest, single servings. So, if anything, if I have a guest having coffee with me it encourages us both to have normal portions instead of the popularly super sized portions. It’s time to let go of Mr. Coffee, who has been moving around Ohio with me since 2008. 
  • I recycled 4 of my 6 souvenir cups. These are from baseball games & bars. I use these for keeping water near my bedside table, filling the water tank on my humidifier, & for brushing my teeth. They’re bulky, they can’t go in the dishwasher, & at any given time only three are in use, anyway. I kept my Detroit Tigers & Toledo Mud Hens cups.
  • I fated four of my dresses an old LS workout shirt into my Goodwill bag. 
June 20-26
  • Financial vision board/planning
  • Working, working, working
  • Profession development strategizing/collaborating with Dinidu
  • Gym 3x
  • Farmer’s market
  • Lots of blogging
  • Culinary experiments with the little remaining foods in my house
  • Dinner with Alex, Mac & Joe’s outing & goodbyes :) / :(
  • Organizing/Decluttering my life 
  • Last day of summer seminar! 
  • Drafting, drafting, drafting
  • Running errands in Hamilton
  • BB 16 premieres! 

Weekend Wishlist: 

  • finish seminar paper
  • gym/farmer’s market
  • blog post on Netflix fast 
  • laundry + packing for July vacation
gonola:

There are versions of Bread Pudding made all over the world but the basic preparation is simple: stale bread is soaked in a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, spices and oftentimes dried fruit or nuts and then baked to create a moist cake-like dessert. To up the sweetness factor, the pudding is usually topped with a sugary sauce, ice cream or whipped cream. With access to some of the best French bread in the world, New Orleans restaurants often feature this popular dish on dessert menus as a ways of not wasting day-old bread. But New Orleans and its food are known for being unpredictable and these five restaurants have managed to come up with their own unique versions of bread pudding that stray far beyond the traditional.

Commander’s Palace is famous for its Creole Bread Pudding Souffle with Whiskey Sauce (Photo by Emily Smith)

Seeking bread pudding for my Louisiana vacation this July!

gonola:

There are versions of Bread Pudding made all over the world but the basic preparation is simple: stale bread is soaked in a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, spices and oftentimes dried fruit or nuts and then baked to create a moist cake-like dessert. To up the sweetness factor, the pudding is usually topped with a sugary sauce, ice cream or whipped cream. With access to some of the best French bread in the world, New Orleans restaurants often feature this popular dish on dessert menus as a ways of not wasting day-old bread. But New Orleans and its food are known for being unpredictable and these five restaurants have managed to come up with their own unique versions of bread pudding that stray far beyond the traditional.

Commander’s Palace is famous for its Creole Bread Pudding Souffle with Whiskey Sauce (Photo by Emily Smith)

Seeking bread pudding for my Louisiana vacation this July!

I got the idea for a financial vision board from an interview on Tranquility du Jour, #233: Mindful Money Management. It took me a couple weeks to sit down and do it, although I had so many ideas for it. As such, my first couple drafts of this had TOO MANY specific goals, the kind of specific that dooms me to fail. In this final draft, I have narrowed my vision down to four major goals. Although these look specific, they are long term, whereas several others I initially had were very short term and unpredictable (ie. $XX limit on eating out monthly; or $XX for gas each month). So, I took some broader goals like “pay off CC debt” or “save money” and made them specific enough that I actually do it by some kind of deadlines. 
Budgeting, the low stress way: Starting in July, I would like to spend no more than $900/month total. (I live in Oxford, Oh where the cost of living is LOW, so I apologize if this number is shocking to you!) I use the Mint app to track my spending. Although in both May and June, I have exceeded $1000 in spending for the month, in the months prior to that my spending was averaging $750-830 and was putting extra money in my savings account at the end of each month. As a compromise, I set my number at $900. I am brain storming right now a reward system I might put in place for the months I am under budget and a “punishment” for going over budget.      One thing I considered is making an extra deposit into my primary savings account for the month if I am under budget (maybe $10?); and, if I go over budget, moving $10 from my primary savings into my goal setter savings account.     Suggestions welcome!
Saving: beginning in September 2014 (when my regular paychecks resume at my new pay level), I will adjust my monthly savings numbers to be $100 into my primary checking account first thing on every payday and $84 into my goal setter savings account.       [The goal setter savings account is one that is set up so I cannot take money out of it. It is connected with my bank’s rewards CC; whenever I redeem my CC rewards into the account, I get a 10% bonus (ex. $50 —> $55). I also get an interest bonus when the account reaches its goal.]      My goal is $2000. My mom told me I should have some money saved for a down payment on a car if I might need one soon. I plan to move to the big city, Cincinnati, in Summer 2016, at which point I would commute to Oxford to teach (probably) a couple times a week. My goal is to avoid buying a new car until then (because I think my 10 y.o. Chevy Blazer is doing okay).  
Eliminate CC debt. I currently have a balance of $1272 on my Bank of America Visa Card. This is a consolidated amount of all my CC debt that I transferred to this card on an interest free deal. That deal expires with the bill I will receive on May 10, 2015. My plan is to pay this off in full by then and also not to acquire any other CC debt in the meantime. I am currently paying this at the rate of $100/month, and in Sept. I will increase this number to $120. At that rate, on May 8, the balance should be $0. Then I am closing that account, bringing myself down to just two CCs—my Costco AmEx & my bank MC with the great rewards program.
I have a plan to have $500 saved specifically for the purposes of any security deposit I might need to put down on an apartment. After much contemplation, I plan to move into my own place next summer. Although I like my roommates, I have also never lived alone and I think Oxford is an affordable and safe place to really try that. I would like to try it out so that in 2016 I’ll have a better sense of what kind of living situations work best for me.       Over this year, while paying off that CC debt, I will have lots of time to explore the housing options in Oxford. I hope to avoid the big complexes and find a reasonably priced 1 BR with decent amenities, in a good area (not too near undergrads, not too close to train tracks, etc), with good manager/landlord. 

I got the idea for a financial vision board from an interview on Tranquility du Jour, #233: Mindful Money Management. It took me a couple weeks to sit down and do it, although I had so many ideas for it. As such, my first couple drafts of this had TOO MANY specific goals, the kind of specific that dooms me to fail. In this final draft, I have narrowed my vision down to four major goals. Although these look specific, they are long term, whereas several others I initially had were very short term and unpredictable (ie. $XX limit on eating out monthly; or $XX for gas each month). So, I took some broader goals like “pay off CC debt” or “save money” and made them specific enough that I actually do it by some kind of deadlines. 

  1. Budgeting, the low stress way: Starting in July, I would like to spend no more than $900/month total. (I live in Oxford, Oh where the cost of living is LOW, so I apologize if this number is shocking to you!) I use the Mint app to track my spending. Although in both May and June, I have exceeded $1000 in spending for the month, in the months prior to that my spending was averaging $750-830 and was putting extra money in my savings account at the end of each month. As a compromise, I set my number at $900. I am brain storming right now a reward system I might put in place for the months I am under budget and a “punishment” for going over budget. 
         One thing I considered is making an extra deposit into my primary savings account for the month if I am under budget (maybe $10?); and, if I go over budget, moving $10 from my primary savings into my goal setter savings account. 
        Suggestions welcome!
  2. Saving: beginning in September 2014 (when my regular paychecks resume at my new pay level), I will adjust my monthly savings numbers to be $100 into my primary checking account first thing on every payday and $84 into my goal setter savings account.
          [The goal setter savings account is one that is set up so I cannot take money out of it. It is connected with my bank’s rewards CC; whenever I redeem my CC rewards into the account, I get a 10% bonus (ex. $50 —> $55). I also get an interest bonus when the account reaches its goal.] 
         My goal is $2000. My mom told me I should have some money saved for a down payment on a car if I might need one soon. I plan to move to the big city, Cincinnati, in Summer 2016, at which point I would commute to Oxford to teach (probably) a couple times a week. My goal is to avoid buying a new car until then (because I think my 10 y.o. Chevy Blazer is doing okay).  
  3. Eliminate CC debt. I currently have a balance of $1272 on my Bank of America Visa Card. This is a consolidated amount of all my CC debt that I transferred to this card on an interest free deal. That deal expires with the bill I will receive on May 10, 2015. My plan is to pay this off in full by then and also not to acquire any other CC debt in the meantime. I am currently paying this at the rate of $100/month, and in Sept. I will increase this number to $120. At that rate, on May 8, the balance should be $0. Then I am closing that account, bringing myself down to just two CCs—my Costco AmEx & my bank MC with the great rewards program.
  4. I have a plan to have $500 saved specifically for the purposes of any security deposit I might need to put down on an apartment. After much contemplation, I plan to move into my own place next summer. Although I like my roommates, I have also never lived alone and I think Oxford is an affordable and safe place to really try that. I would like to try it out so that in 2016 I’ll have a better sense of what kind of living situations work best for me.
          Over this year, while paying off that CC debt, I will have lots of time to explore the housing options in Oxford. I hope to avoid the big complexes and find a reasonably priced 1 BR with decent amenities, in a good area (not too near undergrads, not too close to train tracks, etc), with good manager/landlord. 
I am going on an 18-day vacation starting next Wednesday, which means attempting not to go to the grocery store from now until I depart and to use up every inkling of fresh produce I’ve got in the next 11 days.
I got mushrooms last week on manager’s special, at less than half their normal price. Perfectly fine mushrooms, as far as I can tell, too. I only had one dish in mind as I purchased the 32 oz package. But, that’s a lot of mushrooms. I made the mushroom chicken as planned, I snuck them into my meatloaf recipe, I made an omelet. What else was I going to do with these mushrooms? 
I also had 4 leaves of kale in the drawer going on their third week. And I had some week three celery, too.
My search in Yummly yielded Baked Risotto with Mushroom, Kale, & Leek and I went for it.
I had to make some substitutions, naturally, given that I am trying to rid my fridge and pantry of almost everything. First, I don’t keep white wine on hand for cooking (though I will start, it seems only right since I do keep a $4 dry red on hand for that), so I just did an extra 1/4 cup of broth. Second, I bought leeks for a dish once and it was absurd how many other leek dishes I had to make in order to use them all up, so I’ve never bought them again. I just used extra celery instead. Third, the only rice that matters to me is Jasmine rice. It worked just as well, as far as I can tell. And last, although there is a bottle of that cheap powdered parmesan that Americans I know put on their spaghetti in the fridge, I was like goat cheese. I’ve longed to make my own goat cheese risotto since last summer when I ordered a bland salmon dish that came with the most divine goat cheese risotto at a fancy schmancy restaurant. Although I am fairly frugal, I am also fairly bougie, and so I almost always have goat cheese on hand (or, it is one ingredient I would have made a trip to the grocery store for because on day 11, if there is any left, I would eat goat cheese with a spoon like it was yogurt). 
This may be the best decision I made today.

I am going on an 18-day vacation starting next Wednesday, which means attempting not to go to the grocery store from now until I depart and to use up every inkling of fresh produce I’ve got in the next 11 days.

I got mushrooms last week on manager’s special, at less than half their normal price. Perfectly fine mushrooms, as far as I can tell, too. I only had one dish in mind as I purchased the 32 oz package. But, that’s a lot of mushrooms. I made the mushroom chicken as planned, I snuck them into my meatloaf recipe, I made an omelet. What else was I going to do with these mushrooms? 

I also had 4 leaves of kale in the drawer going on their third week. And I had some week three celery, too.

My search in Yummly yielded Baked Risotto with Mushroom, Kale, & Leek and I went for it.

I had to make some substitutions, naturally, given that I am trying to rid my fridge and pantry of almost everything. First, I don’t keep white wine on hand for cooking (though I will start, it seems only right since I do keep a $4 dry red on hand for that), so I just did an extra 1/4 cup of broth. Second, I bought leeks for a dish once and it was absurd how many other leek dishes I had to make in order to use them all up, so I’ve never bought them again. I just used extra celery instead. Third, the only rice that matters to me is Jasmine rice. It worked just as well, as far as I can tell. And last, although there is a bottle of that cheap powdered parmesan that Americans I know put on their spaghetti in the fridge, I was like goat cheese. I’ve longed to make my own goat cheese risotto since last summer when I ordered a bland salmon dish that came with the most divine goat cheese risotto at a fancy schmancy restaurant. Although I am fairly frugal, I am also fairly bougie, and so I almost always have goat cheese on hand (or, it is one ingredient I would have made a trip to the grocery store for because on day 11, if there is any left, I would eat goat cheese with a spoon like it was yogurt). 

This may be the best decision I made today.

Today in impulsive buys & procrastination: home organizing.

Photo-array #1:

  1. T-L: cube shelves from the Wal-mart clearance section, $14; it took about an hour for me to put them together. I set them up in our garage where we’ve been piling things haphazardly when we run out of room for them in other parts of the house. 
  2. T-R: I’ve gotten into the habit of cycling books off the shelf and into boxes in the basement to save space (since there are always more books). I ran out of the great book-boxes that I was using, which I always line with trash bags just incase, so thought I’d look for similarly sized plastic bins. Found this Steralite 50qt at Wal-mart for $5.97. I plan to buy two more in the future (maybe one at a time) to replace my cardboard box/trash bag storage strategy. 
  3. B-L: Scarf hangers. I found these guys at TJMaxx for $3 each. They have five rings and I’ve been putting two scarves through each & all my scarves fit perfectly. The brand is InterDesign if you’re interested in finding them online or elsewhere (TJMaxx isn’t quite reliable). 
  4. B-R: Woven baskets. I don’t now why it took me almost a year, but today I was so frustrated with my socks and undies getting so chaotic in the drawer that I was inspired to go out and buy all this organizational stuff in the first place. I bought 8 of the woven baskets to begin with, for $1 each at the Dollar Store. I can fit four in each drawer, it turns out. 

I actually went back out and bought a few more organizational and storage bins and baskets…

Photo-array #2: 

  1. More woven baskets (I got 10 total by the end of the day), set up on my bedroom shelving (which I put in last month when I got rid of my desk). I’ve got one for keys, phone case, wallet; one for checkbook and monthly receipts; and one for my 8 pairs of sunglasses. 
  2. The white one is a bin I bought at Wal-mart for $5 a couple weeks ago and I repurposed it today to hold my many, many pairs of tights. Behind, are two purple storage bins about half the size of that white one, that I picked up at the Dollar Store for my boot socks, furry socks for wearing around the house. Finally, I found an empty shoe box in the basement which I decided to put my summer swimwear in. All of these fit perfectly underneath my bedside table, which normally doesn’t have anything under (what a waste of space!). I used to store all of these in an ottoman, which wasn’t bad, but sometimes was major chaos. 
  3. Miniature laundry basket to store clean linen on the rack in the closet. I used to just pile them up and they would often fall down and get disheveled because of their shape. It’s a weak basket, since it’s from the Dollar Store, so I don’t think it’ll be put into use the way my other basket is. 
  4. I bought a couple packs of these mini baskets (3/pack) for small things: nail polish + tools, lipsticks, stationary cards, sticky flags, and miscellaneous items I keep on my bedside table. 

Summer solstice cleaning, I guess. 

  • Total (procrastination) time: 4 hours.
  • Cost: $47.
  • Level of satisfaction: very high.

I’m officially obsessed with the single lady pancakes recipe! I’ve made them every week since that first post. This morning: apple cinnamon! Tip: marinate the chopped apple overnight in lemon juice & as much cinnamon as suits your fancy, with a tablespoon of brown sugar if your apple is a tart variety. Add nutmeg & ginger, too, if you’re into that. You only need 1/4 cup of the apple mixture for each serving of the pancake recipe. I plan to use the rest in my yogurt or oatmeal tomorrow :)

June 13-19
  • mostly failed hummingbird cake
  • Post-workout Farmer’s market feast 
  • late night mac & cheese + catching up with Amanda
  • Hueston Woods Arts & Crafts Festival 
  • Sawyer Point/Newport exploring with Amanda + dinner at the Rookwood + BSB! at Riverbend (with Avril Lavigne as opening act)
  • broken phone & surviving the Verizon store
  • Presentation on Jane Jeong Trenka’s The Language of Blood
  • Lasagna dinner at Sandra’s 
  • Gym 3x 
  • Read for class: My Brother by Jamaica Kincaid

Weekend Wishlist:

  • Sunshine? 
  • Professional development meeting
  • farmer’s market
  • paper drafting
  • Filipino food & friends
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