Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Oh my goodness November is 2 days away.  How did that happen.  Next month is going to be a busy one: Thanksgiving, buckling down for winter and preparing for the holidays (we just bought our first Christmas gift this weekend!!), visiting in-laws and, oh yeah, NaNoWriMo.  Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (November 1 - 30th).  Sure, no problem.  I crank 50,000 words out on a regular basis.  I could probably do that in my sleep.
I am lying.  I am scared.

In preparation, I've been writing up characters and trying my hand at a new method: writing out a short summary of what I want to accomplish in each chapter.  So far this is working wonderfully for me, as I'm the type of person nobody ever wants to proofread because I write all over - I'll write some of the beginning, then I'll skip to chapter 3, then you'll just get cozy in chapter 3 and suddenly you're reading the very end of the book and WHY DOES SHE WRITE LIKE THAT (I don't know, the only reason I've been able to come up with is my brain kinda short circuits when writing, hence the jumping all over like a hyperactive flea).  I've also been realizing the way to a good story is not to start with a moral or lesson, instead, simply create your characters and then turn them loose.  And see what they do.  This is a strange concept for me, since I usually like things planned out well in advance (case in point: we're going down to Portland this weekend and I've been watching gas prices like a hawk so I know whether we should fill up now or wait until Saturday morning) but my writing is the absolute opposite: do everything at the last second, and edit it the second after the last second.  I'm excited to see where this goes, or at the very least what it will teach me (about writing, about my work ethic, about the benefits of caffeine).

Hey this is supposed to be fun, right?  I'll have fun with this if it kills me which it might.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Organizing Recipes

I love to cook and try out new recipes.  You know what I don't love to do?  Organize things.  This is what my recipe "file" looked like for months and months and months (like seriously, before I even moved into this house.  THAT WAS 1.5 YEARS AGO.):

Lately I've been playing with the idea of making my own darned recipe cards because 1. I have a lot of free time; 2. I have a husband who is really really, ridiculously good in Illustrator and 3. I can't find any recipe cards I'm in total besotted love with (that might be my own fault, I'm notoriously picky.  I can afford to be - I went to school for art!)

So the first step to this project was to figure out a way to organize everything (which I still haven't fully figured out), but a pretty reasonable place to start seemed to be the basic categories: appetizers, main dish, side dish and desserts.  At the end of it all, the poor appetizer category only had three (literally) entries, while the desserts section was so stuffed it was threatening to spill over into the side dish section.

Just desserts?  Moar like ALL DESSERTS.  Nom nom nom.

I'm thinking of breaking these down further into subcategories (like maybe "cakes", "candies", "cookies" etc for desserts) because I have more recipes floating around and eventually want to make a giant book of recipes I can pass along to friends and family.

Fun fact: There is not a single beverage recipe in this pile.  I'm not sure what that means.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I've been sitting on the idea of using coupons for a long time but haven't really gone anywhere with it because 1. it always felt like coupons were for things I never used (frozen dinners, diapers, candy, etc) and 2. I didn't want to be one of those crazy people who would spend 40 hours a week clipping coupons and filing them away lovingly in her coupon binder... weird (Jim Gaffigan)

Enter TheCouponProject, which is an awesome awesome site that basically does all the hard work for me - all I have to do is scan the sales to see what looks interesting, then dig up/print the coupons she's recommending.  Yes!  Someone to do all the boring work for me while I reap the rewards.

Soooo I finally realized I don't really have a reason to NOT coupon anymore, and did a test run with DM for some pasta (specifically, Ronzoni SmartTaste).  We printed out a $1 off 2 manufacturer's coupon from Facebook (because, you know, a pasta brand needs social networking) and found a sale at a local store that was not only holding a sale for this pasta (10/$10) but also had a doubler coupon (any coupon 1.00 or under doubles in value).  After some initial confusion (how many boxes can we get?  SHOULD WE FILL UP THE CART? (yikes)), we decided on 8 boxes of pasta and headed for checkout.  we ended up paying 5.60 (including tax) for 8 boxes of pasta that would retail for 15.92 at the store down the street that wasn't running the sale/promotion.

I ended up breaking even on this run because the newspaper to get the coupon cost me $2, however I went through the paper and found more coupons to use so I'm pretty sure I'm going to come out ahead in the long run.  Like pretty much everyone in existence I want to lower our grocery bill, I don't think it's unreasonable to aim for $250 for two people - $200 on the main run (done every 4 weeks or so) and $50 for the weekly runs we make for things like milk, bread and produce.  We eat 99% of our meals at home, so we need to cover 168 meals (28 breakfast, 28 lunch, 28 dinner for two).  I'm intrigued by the idea of stockpiling, though I would never want to keep canned goods in my bedroom (like the crazy woman on Extreme Couponing from TLC).  Mostly I think the trick is going to be isolating the products we'd actually benefit from stockpiling (pasta would definitely be one!).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pumpkins and Wii Fit

DM and I went to the pumpkin patch last weekend with some friends and the weather was amazing. I am leading off with the weather comment because if you live in the Northwest you know what it's normally like around here in October - cold, wet, foggy and did I mention wet?  But last weekend was sunny, warm (almost...too warm...!) and perfect.  We found some pumpkins along with super cheap produce (I mean, seriously - 1.50 for a cabbage bigger than my head?  SCORE.) and did the corn maze, which was pretty fun.  And a lot of seriousness, if you ask DM (though I can't poke too much fun since he actually navigated us pretty well through it.)  All in all, an awesome way to spend a Saturday.  And if these pumpkins are anything like the ones we got last year, they will last forever.  Seriously - we still had the pumpkins from last year when we moved (we moved in the spring - are you frightened yet?)

The last things our pumpkins saw...

I also wanted to share this photo with you, because it is a huge personal triumph for me:

I've pretty much been overweight my whole life from a combination of bad food choices (fast food, soda, etc) and a total lack of exercise (exercise is considered a profanity in my family...) About a year ago, I stepped on the scale and I was 170 lbs.  To put that in perspective, I am 5'2".  Of course I felt terrible and contemplated eating an entire pint of ice cream, but instead decided I was better than this and told DM I wanted to do something about it.  So being the awesome husband he is, DM got me the Wii Fit Plus/Balance Board for Christmas.  This thing is awesome - you work out, but you feel like you're playing games.  Not difficult games, either - these are games that are accessible for everyone.  Flap your arms like a chicken to fly.  Step on the balance board to simulate pedaling a bike.  There's also yoga (which has 100% helped me limber up and improve my balance), and strength training.

This is a screenshot from the game that shows my daily weigh-in progress.  I am less than 4 pounds from a normal weight, which is a huge deal for me, as (like I mentioned before) I've pretty much been overweight my entire life.  But what I really wanted to share was how much this little thing has improved the quality of my life overall.  When you change one part of yourself, the other parts of you can't help but shift in response.  We eat so much healthier than we used to - I remember a time when DM and I could eat an entire pizza together in one night.  Now, it's an odd thing if we go back for seconds.  We always have vegetables in our meals.  We eat smaller portions, and drink more water.  I work out every morning, and things feel strange if I don't.  I love the people we've become, and are changing into each day - it's amazing to look back at who we used to be; I feel like I'm looking at total strangers.  Have you accomplished something in your life that's changed the way you look at things?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Resident Evil 6 and TV Project Success

Where have I been for the past week?  Playing Resident Evil 6 and trying my best to love it (that's how long it took!!).  The bad news is, much like a petulant child throwing a tantrum in the candy aisle of the supermarket, sometimes RE6 makes it very, very hard to remember why you ever wanted it in the first place, let alone love it.  The good news is, those moments are coming less and less the more and more I play.  We've finished Chris and Leon's campaigns, and are 3/4 of the way through Jake's.  I REALLY LIKE MERCENARIES.  There.  I said it.  I was somewhat a fan of Mercs in RE5 but it wasn't really something I sought out on my own (unless, of course, I was out for bloodshed), but it is really fun to just pick up the controller and play some rounds in RE6.  I still say there is little in life that's more gratifying than grabbing the weapon of your enemy and turning it back on them.  Take that, riot gear zombie!

I forgot to talk about this (I think, I just took a quick glance at past posts) but we also finally managed to get our TV mounted above our fireplace with the help of some friends.  The end result is very nice (since now there's just one focal point - the fireplace and the TV above the fireplace).  The cord on the TV is too short and dangles in front of the fireplace, but we're aiming to fix that with an extended power cord (eventually).  We even managed to sell the sagging entertainment stand, so now everything is way more open.  We've been discussing making everything laminate (the dining room and living room flow right into each other) to really create open space, though we're not sure how the noise level would be (laminate + vaulted ceiling + dogs = ???).  In other news, I took this photo today and it makes me smile like crazy:

Sometimes it's easy to forget how much progress you make, unless you have something to compare it to.