eat! craft! live!

Baking, crafting, mama-ing and taking photos of it all. When I remember.


Leave a comment

No Spend 2019: April-June


Areas where I was successful over the past few months:

  • I paid off my car! My goal was to get it paid off by the end of the summer (before I have to start paying aftercare again) and I did it!
  • Our bills, again, were pretty consistent and reasonable. I expect some of them to go down further for the summer – natural gas, electricity, gas for the car, tolls… No heat, no commute to/from school!
  • I bought a couple new summery dresses and a pair of sandals, because my wardrobe was looking a little scanty recently. Why is this good news? Because I purchased second-hand items – better for the environment, better for my wallet!

Areas where I could have improved:

  • We spent way too much money eating out. It’s one of the few luxuries we have, and I’m loathe to rein it in, but we really do need to cut back. The end of swim lessons will put a stop to eating at the Holy Donut every week, which is sad for my tastebuds but good for my budget.
  • I tipsily bought a handful of new enamel pins. They’re fun! They were on sale! Excuses.

Areas I spent more than expected, but mindfully:

  • I bought a folding stationary bike. I consider it money well spent, since it’s exceedingly hard for me to leave my house, without kids, to work out and I really need to invest in my health!
  • I paid for part of my trip to Rhinebeck in October. Could I not go and just save that money? Sure. Do I really need to get a way once in a while? Absolutely.
  • I spent a small amount of money on embroidery and cross stitch supplies. It’s my “summer craft” – portable, inexpensive, and not woolly! It does wonders for my mental health. Stitching in the hammock is pure joy.

All in all, not too bad. Now that my car is paid off, I’ve upped my retirement contribution and I’ll start saving money while I have it to save, because my financial situation in the fall will be very different, unfortunately!


Leave a comment

No Spend 2019 – March

Well.

Good intentions, AMIRITE?

To be fair, a lot of my spending in March was due to a trip* to Washington, D.C. I took for work and which I’ll mostly be reimbursed for. Also it was tax refund time and while I never go wild when I get an unexpected windfall, I did loosen up the purse strings just a bit last month.

That said… Areas where I was successful:

  • Regular bills – they don’t change much, we’re thrifty with our energy usage.
  • Home & garden maintenance – I purchased some seed starting materials, but that was about it.
  • I also spent way more on my car payment this month, which is the general idea of spending far less in other areas – gotta get that car paid off! Between budgeting and tax refunds, I was able to pay more than 4x the usual car payment…plus the actual car payment. Woo!

And then there were areas I was less successful:

  • Groceries – somehow I ended up spending far more on groceries, despite being out of town for a week?!?
  • Clothing – a series of unfortunate (and fortunate?) events led me to be at Old Navy unexpectedly. *ahem* I went searching for one particular dress I knew was there and in the process picked up a few more items on clearance. So it goes. I also bought new shoes for walking around DC and I’m so glad I did – I walked 10+ miles one day!
  • Eating out – Spent loads in this category last month. Again, due mainly to being out of town…but not entirely.
  • I also picked up a handful of things in DC as souvenirs. A giant pompom (which delights me to no end) and enamel pin from Fibre Space. An enamel pin from the Library of Congress.

There were also some expected, but irregular, expenses, namely:

  • yearly car registration
  • 6-month car insurance policy renewal (I pay in full)
  • dance recital tickets

It wasn’t the greatest month, with regard to the budget, but it wasn’t terrible either! I’ve done some math and I’m hopeful that I will actually be able to meet my goal of paying off my car by the end of the summer. Fingers crossed and belts tightened!

*The trip was to the Digital POWRR Institute and it was amazing. The whole training was fantastic, the weather was perfect, the food was great, the Library of Congress was awe-inspiring, the museums were phenomenal…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 


Leave a comment

No Spend 2019 – Jan/Feb update

So, now that it’s March, are you wondering how I did with my spending in January and February?

Probably not, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

It wasn’t until a little ways into January that I decided to be intentional about my spending this year, so there were a few purchases that slipped into the beginning of the month that I may not have made otherwise. (Some home stuff, a new [secondhand] dress, skincare products.)

Interestingly, my February spending on home improvement actually went up…by a fair amount. Oops! I bought some under cabinet organizers and a new toilet seat to replace our cracked one. My household bills were about the same – they really only change with the weather and it isn’t warm yet. I spent less on gas & tolls – entirely because of February vacation and not driving my kids to school every day that week. I spent slightly more on groceries and far more on eating out, which I also attribute almost entirely to February vacation. I spent much less on personal care (no new skincare products this month!) and clothing. I did end up buying a pair of leggings because I wear them religiously and my many pairs are starting to become hole-y. (See what I did there?)

It was also my birthday this month and I did choose to spend birthday money on fun* stuff instead of getting ahead financially. All work and no play, y’know… And thus, I now own proper bread proofing baskets, a fancy lame, and some lightweight lidded containers so I no longer have to lug around a heavy glass bowl. My bread today was fabulous, yes.

Screen Shot 2019-03-03 at 5.13.49 PM

Cranberry walnut sourdough. Amazing.

*I am now at an age where fun = bread baking supplies and storage systems. Yup.


Leave a comment

Operation Try New Restaurants: Black Cow

December was a busy month. (Isn’t it always?) E was in the Nutcracker and we had time between shows to grab some dinner. I opted to take her out instead of thriftily packing food, like I usually do. I thought she deserved a treat. We walked around the festively lit-up town, E in her wildly silly-looking bun, and I let her choose where we ate. Happily, she picked a new-to-us-both place – Black Cow!

IMG_6514

Nutcracker-ing makes you hungry.

She chose the grilled cheese and tomato soup, which were both divine. I opted for a cheeseburger and a house made orange cream soda. (I love anything that tastes like an orange creamsicle, after hating that particular flavor combination for years.) The cheeseburger itself was really good – but I was ever so slightly disappointed that they don’t really have any fun flavor combos for burgers, just your standard cheese-pickle-lettuce-etc. I got super spoiled living in Texas where it’s All Meat, All the Time and fun flavor combos to boot. (Pickled jalapeños & Monterey jack on a jalapeño cheddar bun! A fave from back in the day.) Nevertheless, would return! Next time I’m getting fries…

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 2.53.57 PM

A Very Serious Soldier.


Leave a comment

Operation Try New Restaurants: November

November came around and I…didn’t really try.

But I did hit up the Farm Stand in South Portland with H one rainy day while E was at an appointment. It’s not a restaurant but we did get food…so… They have an impressive collection of booze – lots of it local – and tons of fresh produce, meat, and other assorted goodies. We got cookies & chocolate & drinks.

IMG_6332

Delicious, post-Halloween sale chocolates.

We also tried out the Kennebunk House of Pizza while at my parents’ timeshare in Kennebunk. It was typical house of pizza fare – we had pizza and some really delicious loaded cheese fries that I’d eat again in a heartbeat. (If my heart wouldn’t stop beating afterward…)

H went to a classmate’s birthday party at 33 Elmwood where I didn’t really eat much (mainly H’s leftover pizza crusts and some birthday cake) but I sure wish I could’ve had some cocktails. If you’re unfamiliar, 33 Elmwood is a bowling alley/restaurant/bar type place. It’s large and spacious and while I can’t say the drinks are good, they sure look good. I mean, I would drink just about all of these with great pleasure. Apple caramel moscow mule? Yes please.

IMG_6379

I want all of these.

The pizza crusts I munched were tasty and the house made birthday cake was actually really good, though the frosting was far too sweet for my liking. This little dude really enjoyed bowling with his friends!

IMG_6380

Patiently waiting his turn.

I’d love to go back when I have cocktail cash, I’m not with a bunch of first-graders, and it’s not 10AM.

Bonus: they have these great IKEA chairs!

IMG_6381

They were so comfy I asked where they were from!


Leave a comment

Operation Try New Restaurants: Shindig

grilled cheese & tomato soup

Amazing grilled cheese. Amazing soup!

While on my nearly-yearly trip to New York for Rhinebeck, we ate at Shindig in Woodstock one evening. It was super cute, and tiny, and I had a grilled cheese and tomato soup that were amazing.

Delightful.

The whole weekend is always a great time. Friends, food, fiber. Last year was no exception.

And now for some photos!

The most amazing buttons!

These button! My heart.

Baaaa!

Sheep. What we’re all here for.

Falling leaves

Falling leaves at the fairgrounds.

YOU ARE

You are here. At Jill Draper’s, to be specific.


Leave a comment

Operation Try New Restaurants: Roots Cafe

I’d been watching the construction of the Roots building with interest – I didn’t know what it was going to be until it was nearly done, but it’s right down the street from us, so I was hoping for something good. I can almost see if it from my house. (I could, if it wasn’t for all those other pesky buildings in the way.)

First of all, Roots is very…slick. The building is new, the furniture is rustically chic, there’s wood and metal and glass. They have a fancy website. (Which, I know, isn’t an indicator of anything really, but in this day and age so many places still have horrible-looking, uninformative websites.)

Second, Roots is church-backed, though you wouldn’t know it by the website. And you may not even notice when you go, if you’re not paying attention. As someone who went to a religious college as a non-religious person and ended up around a lot of aggressively religious people? I noticed. Like, a lot. There’s a small book shop area when you come in that carries religious reading material. And the people…well, they’re perfectly nice. Very nice. Like in a really “Hey, I’m being nice to you!” kind of way. Ugh, I feel horrible for complaining about people being too nice? I mean, seriously. Who does that? Bear with me. It’s my baggage. I just can’t with the overly-nice “Christian” attitude because I’ve known it to be so disingenuous at times. I’d rather have someone be less “nice” and more honest, if that makes sense. (I know, “not all Christians!” but this is my experience, so bugger off.)

Anyway! Religious qualms aside, I wanted to try the place soon after they opened, but at the time they closed mid-afternoon and weren’t open on Sundays. (They’re now open later, though still closed on Sundays.) So one Saturday morning in September, I dragged the kids up the street and we got some breakfast. The kids got a smoothie to share and some muffin tops. I didn’t try them but they disappeared quickly, so apparently they passed muster with the elementary aged crowd. I got an iced latte (as I do) which was good – pretty standard latte. And. And. They had biscuits! and! gravy! Which I love. Love. And you rarely see biscuits and gravy on the menu up here. (Know where I can get some? Please let me know!) I ordered them with great anticipation, but…they were only OK. Meh.

IMG_6124

They did have really cute salt & pepper shakers all over tho…

I haven’t been back despite it being so close to home, because the atmosphere really threw me. I keep meaning to try it again but when Quill is only a little further away? I know where I’ll go.