Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Favorites v.2

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, for those Americans reading!  Regardless of the controversial origins of the holiday, I always enjoy some time off to spend with my family.  I took the day off from blogging to do so, nut now I'm back sharing even more Friday Favorites that I've spotted online this week.

I was born into the wrong decade for dresses, but thankfully the internet has amazing reproductions and designs available!  (I recently ordered the first dress... perfect for work!)

The only time I really remember eating Snickerdoodles when I was younger was when my
cousins made them.  I was convinced they knew how to make delicious things because
they got to do 4H or something.  These look amazing.

Squee cat photos make me go squee.  (Source unknown, here's the imgur link!)

I love Anne Taintor so much I dressed as one of her creations for Halloween.
This flask is pretty much perfect.

The fact that a word exists in the Japanese language for this very real phenomenon
makes me smile with happiness.  Tsundoku!

+  SQUEE!  Munchkin the Shih Tzu walks on a treadmill while wearing a teddy bear costume.  Watch it now.

+  Rainbow chip frosting is my fav canned frosting, and thankfully I have Katy Perry on my side to try to bring it back!

+  The Sing-Off is coming back with a holiday special!  Bring on the puns, Nick Lachey!

+So many feelings after watching this!  Family hears son’s heart beat in Vietnam vet’s chest after life-saving transplant.

+  I'm pretty excited to see Into the Woods in theaters this winter, even though it breaks my policy of seeing a film version of a musical before I see it on stage.  I met the actress who plays Little Red when she was the lead in Annie on Broadway!

+  If you don't follow Anna Kendrick on Twitter, you ought to.  Check out some of her hilarious tweets.  She'll be joining Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling in my dream girl gang.

Flashback Favorite:  About a year ago, I did my very first "My Life in GIFs" post and felt so sassy!

Platters in the shape of every state?  YES!  Love this Indiana state dish!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Budgeting Bloggers: November 2014

November was not a heavy shopping month... but I already know that December will probably put me over my self-imposed budget given I can't resist sales and impulse buys.  I love everything I got this month!  It's all being worn and used, which is a great sign.  My closet is much more efficient and compact than it used to be, if that makes sense.

  1. Old Navy Quilted Zip-Front Vest in Forest Floor (originally $35, on sale for $30+ discount):  Yes, I have this in black.  I had $40 in Old Navy dollars to use, and I decided to use that, plus free shipping, to get some more basics for the fall/winter.  I wear my black vest so much, I needed another option!  Such a great layering piece.
  2. Old Navy Rockstar Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans in Rise (originally $35):  I am a pair of skinny jeans short after having to toss a couple of pairs, so these fill an important gap in my closet.  Mid-rise is my friend!  I can't stand low-rise pants anymore.  Until I hit my happy place in terms of weight, I'll live in Old Navy jeans instead of investing in pricier ones.
  3. Old Navy Terry-Fleece Skinny Sweatpants in Heather Grey (originally $27):  These just looked perfect for the cooler weather and lounging around at home!  I won't wear them out, but I included them here because, well, accountability.  (I'm not sure about the price of my Old Navy items after sale price and the $40 Old Navy dollars I had, because I did the math and then subtracted returns... and lost the calculations.  Sorry.)
  4. ELLE Eyelet Fit and Flare Dress in Flirty Pink (retail $68, FREE):  My Mom bought be a great pink dress on clearance at Kohl's... FREE to me, and a great savings!  It will get more wear in the spring, though I may try my hand at layering it this winter for a pop of pink.
  5. Lucky Brand Chain Tassel Necklace in Gold (retail $35, paid $21):  I broke the LOFT tassel necklace that I've worn for ages, so I had to hunt online immediately for a replacement!  Lucky won out among the rest because of free shipping; I saw one from another retailer I wanted, but shipping was $9!  I seriously couldn't get by without this go-to accessory; it's the one statement necklace I wear all the time.  This is a great necklace.
$85 spent - $24 sold = $61 total
$142 savings

Quarterly Budget: $400 - $176 October - $61 November = $163 remaining

I'm proud that I actively returned items that I didn't love this month...  it's a big deal for me not to just keep unused stuff in my wardrobe!  I have another big pile of things that will go to Goodwill too, and I'm putting items in my Poshmark closet for sale.  Lastly, I mailed off another bag to thredUP that should be paid next month.

I'm starting to think I might do something different about my quarterly budget next year.  I'm getting really into vintage-inspired dresses (think late 50s and 60s) and I am thinking of getting one beautiful dress per month, then leave a smaller budget per quarter for other things.  We'll see.  Mostly I want to buy some beautiful, quality items vs. lamenting that I didn't get one big purchase because of all the littles.

Check out the rest of this month's Budget Bloggers at the linkup at Franish!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

That time I cooked for 20 people

Twice a year, I am responsible as an officer of my American Legion post to provide our supper.  The cost is reimbursed, but I must admit... this first time cooking for 20 people was extremely intimidating.  Not to mention, our meetings are on Tuesday nights, and I work full time.  Plus, I cook in a small apartment kitchen.  Woof!

The first thing I did was plan the menu, almost a week in advance.  Since it was November, I decided a Thanksgiving-style meal would work best.  I decided on:
I made the green bean casserole and the baked macaroni and cheese on Monday night, minus the fried onion topping on the green beans and the panko crumb topping on the mac.  I kept both in the refrigerator and baked them when I got home before the dinner.

The turkey was almost a disaster.  The prep was easy; I rubbed a packet of onion soup mix over the whole thing, then poured melted butter on the top.  I planned to use my slow cooker for it, but when I went home to check on it, I'd had it set to a lower setting than planned.  My probe reading was still way too low, with just 3 hours to go before the dinner!  So I moved it to a roasting pan, stuck in an oven thermometer, and baked it until it hit the right temperature.  Because I watched it until it was done, vs. overcooking, it turned out to be incredibly tender.  In a pinch, a turkey breast actually bakes fairly fast.

While the turkey and casseroles were cooking, I made the stuffing and gravy on the stovetop.  Super easy.  Seriously easy.  I know this wasn't a healthy meal by any means, but it was a good meal that I was able to accomplish in the timing I needed.

The turkey breast was *just* enough to feed the 20 people.  The gravy and stuffing ran out before everyone got some.  There was just enough green beans, and the macaroni yielded some leftovers.  I got many compliments, and a few folks decided I should cook for them more often.  I was honestly tickled pink!

Also, outsourcing (store-bought rolls) and asking for help (the dessert) were great decisions that saved me a lot of time.  You'd be surprised how little things like that can make a huge difference.

I guess I'd say the moral of this post is, even when you're a busy person with a tiny kitchen, a little planning, help, prep, and some improv, you can cook a big ol' weeknight meal for a bunch of people.  I think I'll have to cook more meat, probably additional sides if I think they will be popular.  My next turn at dinner is in March, and since the weather will be nicer, there may be up to 30 people.  Anyone have ideas of what I should make next time?

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