2 years ago today…

There must be something about the day after Christmas because 2 years ago today was the last time I posted anything on this blog. Here I am again, the day after Christmas, without an idea as to when the last time I posted was until I logged on. In short, I’M BACK!!!

I’m not going to pretend that I will pick up right where I left off because a LOT has changed in these past 2 years. For one, I’m married now, have a acquired a 3rd dog (I’ll have to tell you that story later), have moved back to Tacoma (which is something that I never thought in a million years that I thought I would do), graduated from USC and am now an MSW, a LICASW actually. I have a kid in high school now, too. Lots of changes.

Now that the holidays are mostly over, I find myself reflecting on what to do now. I am thinking about how I am going to clean up my diet after all of the cookies, pies, and other goodies these past couple of months. I am also thinking about how to clean up my finances because I don’t know about you all by I spent a lot of money on gifts this  year. I am grateful that we’ve been blessed with the ability to give nice gifts to the kids and our family members but still, it was a lot. Man, kids’ gifts get more expensive as they get older don’t they? On top of that, my grace period is ovnew year new me BSer and I have to start paying back my student loans (eek!).

Ok, now, please be advised that this is NOT a “new year, new me” manifesto. Those are annoying, no offense. I am making a promise to myself that I will do more of what I want to do from now on. What are those things? Well, cooking and blogging of course. Grad school kicked my ass and sadly I have not been cooking as much as I used to. No cooking, means no blogging. So there will be more blogging, too. Running. I have had “half marathon” on my list of things to do for about 5 years now. That’s just ridiculous and indicative of the how many excuses I have given for why I have not done it yet. This post is already getting long so I’ll spare you those. Travel. Now that I’m back in the PNW I have to make to Canada this time. I say this time because during the 12 years I lived here before I never went (I know, a shame).

For the first matter of business, I will be coming back with a new project to overhaul our finances like I was saying earlier. We are like most American families and have a ton of debt. Most of it is mine from student loans and I won’t tell you how much because I’m embarrassed to but I will tell you I should have about 6 master’s degrees by now with the amount of student loan debt I have. We also have a bit of credit card debt from our wedding. What does this have to do with food? The grocery bill, duh. I am super meticulous when it comes to tracking our bills but other than bills I am lazy when it comes to our spending and that includes groceries. So, to remedy this, I am considering going to the envelope method where I will budget out our expenses and put cash into the respective envelopes. I’m wondering who else have actually done this and have it work. I see a million Pinterest pins from people who explain what it is and how it worked for them to pay off a trillion dollars in debt in a year but are they for real? That can’t be real, can it? Irregardless (I know that’s not a word leave me alone) I am going to try it and see how it goes.

The budget for groceries for our active family of 4 is going to be – drum roll please – $500. Is that insane? No seriously, I want to know. I did a quick calculation in my head, and I think that’s about how much we spend. I am going to take out $200 every 2 weeks and use the last $100 as a buffer so we don’t go over. Whatever is left over I guess can roll over into the next month, or we can save for a nice dinner out or something.

Ok so that’s about it for now. You will be reading a lot more from me and could really use any suggestions on how to lower costs for food for a busy family. That’s if anyone is reading this… Oh well, if you’re not. See you soon!

Getting back into the routine

538405_10200211875682033_121956455_nOk, it’s day 2 of the new year and I’m starting out on a good note. It was a vegan dinner tonight made with a no-recipe recipe because they were almost all leftovers! Yes! On the right side of my plate, I have leftover couscous from the lunch I made on Saturday (see previous post). After I stuffed those acorn squash, I had a bunch leftover and I couldn’t let it go to waste. In the middle are some lovely green beans that I bought at Sprouts yesterday. I steamed them in the microwave (about 5 minutes) then melted some Earth Balance over the top and added salt and pepper. Then, on the left, are leftover Brussels sprouts and potatoes from our New Years Eve dinner at Union Public House. It was hearty and satisfying and delicious and I am feeling good about myself right now! After eating these Brussels sprouts tonight, it reminded me how much I absolutely love them. I am going to have to get some to make more this week.

 

Vegan Breakfast To-Go

Whether you are a breakfast-eater or not, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. I always try to eat something in the morning in addition to my coffee whether it is a slice of bread (bread not toast because toasting takes too much time on some hectic mornings), grabbing an apple and the whole jar of almond butter, or simply a few bites of cold left overs.

This morning, as many Monday mornings are, was hectic and rushed. I slept in a little later than I wanted to but I knew I still wanted the start the day of and the week off right witha nourishing, healthy breakfast. Cue: oatmeal made in the microwave. I used half a cup of whole oats and put them in a pretty big bowl with half a cup of hemp milk and half a cup of water. I cooked the oatmeal in the microwave for 2 minutes, swirled the bowl then added another minute. I then dumped the oatmeal into a plastic container (wish I had glass) and topped with chia seeds, dried goji berries, dried cranberries, chopped raw almonds, and a sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar mixture. Breakfast done in about 4 minutes – done! It would have taken more time in the McDonalds drive-thru to pick up a cup of their crappy oatmeal (did you know there ‘cream’ alone has 11 ingredients? – crazy!) and mine is much better.

Don’t know about Chia seeds? Well, they serve a much greater purpose than to make grass covered ceramic pets (remember ‘Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!’ ?). These little guys are packed with solubable fiber, protein, antioxidants, and the richest known plant source for omega-3’s. Sprinkle them on oatmeal and salads or add them to your next batch of granola. I used to buy them in bulk from Sprouts but now even Trader Joes is selling them (LOVE Trader Joes).

What about Goji berries? Also knows as the wolf berry, the goji berry has been used for thousands of years in China, Tibet, and India. They are full of antioxidants and have been linked to dozens of health benefits. Watch out though if you are on blood thinners, they have been said to interact with those medications. I buy them in the bulk section of Sprouts and I only get a handful that lasts me quite a while.

I ate my delicious, wholesome, and vegan oatmeal at my desk this morning but felt good that I was showing my body some love by making a point to eat breakfast. There is something about eating whole grains in the morning that make me feel really happy. Cheers to Monday! It is going to be a good week.