eat! craft! live!

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


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No Spend 2019

I debated whether or not to even post this, but I rather want some accountability, so I’m going to. Even just posting this will help me hold myself accountable.

So hi! My name is Laura and I’m not going to Buy Things* in 2019.

I have a lot of reasons for this. Mainly to do with trying to save money, but also about trying to consume fewer resources.

As a newly-single-income household, I’m going to need to pay even more attention than usual to where my money is going. I’ve always budgeted and I’ve never been a big spender (it’s…uh…never really been an option) but this year I’m really going to say “no” to most everything, spending-wise.

I have two major financial goals for the year:

  1. Pay off the kids’ summer camp before 2020’s summer camp payments come around
  2. Pay off my car (so I can afford to pay my rent come fall)

Summer camp…is expensive y’all. I don’t exactly make it easy on myself, financially, sending my kids to a summer camp they love (that’s more expensive) instead of the cheap one in town (that E hates). I don’t feel guilty about it though – they’ll remember it for the rest of their lives. My mom sent me to a fantastic summer camp that I know she couldn’t afford and I loved it and have incredibly fond memories of it to this day.

My car isn’t due to be paid off for another 16 months or so but in order to be able to afford rent on my own, I can’t have a car payment. (Or…some other payment. But the car payment is the only thing that I’m going to reasonably be able to get rid of.) The good news: a lot of y’all have been incredibly generous and I’m all set for rent for the next two months…at which point I will be done paying for aftercare for the school year… So! My goal is to pay off the car while I have no aftercare payments so that once they kick in again in August, that car payment will be gone. The good news: I have a tax refund coming at some point for an as-yet-unknown amount (but probably a lot) and I have a freelance job through at least May, hopefully September. Can I do it? Stay tuned!

Financial reasons aren’t the only reasons though. Lately I’ve been feeling really tired of consumerism. I’m trying to eliminate single-use plastics from my life. I’m trying to purchase mindfully. I’m trying to reduce, reuse, recycle, y’all. It feels cheesy to say so and I know that my own tiny actions aren’t going to save the world, but at least I can do what I’m able to. For instance, recently I ran out of cotton balls, which I use morning and night. I thought, “There has to be some reusable option for these…” and proceeded to buy some washable organic cotton rounds from an Etsy seller, made from scraps. I haven’t used them yet but I’m looking forward to trying them out tonight!

*My exceptions for my No Spend Year are that I’m allowing myself to buy necessities, replace things that break/run out/wear out/whatever, and purchase second-hand items, as needed. For instance, on a trip to Goodwill I found a like-new popover pan, frying pan, and curling iron. They were all things I’d wanted for ages and second-hand cost me under $10 for the lot. And those cotton rounds? I was either going to have to buy more disposable products or I could spend a bit more and have a reusable option for, hopefully, a very long time into the future. I make my own rules, yo.

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Operation Try New Restaurants: LOBSTER!

Ok, y’all, I know lobster isn’t a restaurant. But I’m claiming it for August because it’s notable. I’m a Mainer. I grew up here. I’ve lived here again for the past almost-ten years. I love seafood. But? I have never had a lobster. I’ve eaten lobster – in mac ‘n’ cheese, lobster rolls, ravioli… But never a whole lobster.

Do I lose my Mainer badge?

My First Lobster

(It was delicious.)

And the occasion? My BFF got married and I was one of the privileged few to be there. So much love!

Amy & Patrick

sunflowers at the wedding

always and forever


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Operation Try New Restaurants: June

I went all out in June. (Partly on the company dime. Thanks for coming, visiting researcher!)

In no particular order:

Firstly, Woodford F&B – this was the one I was lucky enough to have paid for. We went out for lunch as a farewell to a researcher who’d been with us for a bit. We each had a different type of Fancy Lemonade!

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So fancy!

I can’t even remember what was happening in my life at this point, but I do remembering a pressing need to eat vegetables, so I opted for a Cobb salad, which was delicious.

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Fancy vegetables.

And I took full advantage and ordered dessert too – something seasonal – a crisp involving rhubarb and perhaps other fruit with a honey ice cream that was to die for.

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Fancy crisp with fancy ice cream.

Next, we discovered a new restaurant just down the street from us – Blazes Burgers. It was new at the time and within walking distance of our house and across from the park/playground and they have burgers! And fries! And tots! And they’re attached to an ice cream shop too! So basically we ate here a lot over the summer. It’s decent, inexpensive, and a kid-pleaser. Thumbs up.

I took the kids to Flea Bites in Congress Square for some delicious eats. We met my mother there and took turns wrangling children in a busy downtown spot while trying to order food from various different food trucks. My main meal-like food item was this amazing sandwich from Nom Bai. Yes. Yes.

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We also got an assortment of donuts from Eighty 8 Donuts. I opted for a variety with CBD, and offered to share with my mom but she mis-heard me saying “CBD” and thought I said there was “seaweed” in them?

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H opted for a flavor coated in fruity pebbles and could not have been happier. I tried to talk him out of it. It did not work.

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That’s a monkey around his neck.

And the last food-I’ve-eaten-with-my-mom-in-June location was Empire Chinese Kitchen, which we went to at her request. She’d been trying to get me to go for ages – I just wasn’t sure how the kids would like it. Turns out I was mostly right to be wary. I loved it. They? Not so much.

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H dares to eat some bacon fried rice. Fried rice! With bacon! And corn! What’s not to love?

We got a variety of small dishes including: char siu bao (BBQ pork stuffed buns), bacon fried rice (the kids’ fave), honey walnut shrimp (my mom’s fave), szechuan cold cucumbers (which only I ate…and loved), and I think some Chinatown roast pork? It was all good. My problem with small plates places is I always want to try everything and then I end up with a stuffed belly and a decidedly un-stuffed wallet. I try to remember that I can just come back and try something else, but in reality the chances of me actually going back are pretty slim, given how much I get out. (I know. I went out a lot in June. It’s unusual.)

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These don’t even look like shrimp.

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Like pickles. Only not quite. Delicious nonetheless.

And that wraps up my adventures in New Food from last June! I swear I’ll finish this up before the summer.


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Operation Try New Restaurants: Danish Pastry House (and Popeye’s!)

In May, I was recovering from mono (fun!) when I went down to Tufts for a work event. During the previous week or two I had experienced such an awful sore throat and mouth pain (from the mono! fun!) that I had barely eaten at all. Even water was painful. The day I went down to Massachusetts started off no differently – I barely ate breakfast. (Did I eat breakfast? I may not have.) Around mid-morning, we were provided with the standard conference-fare-morning-snacks: muffins & yogurt & whatnot. I figured I’d try some and lo and behold I was actually able to eat something without excruciating pain!

And thus I ended up going across the street to the Danish Pastry House where the service was a little slow, the inside temperature was overwhelmingly hot, and my food was absolutely amazing. I think I got a salad and a little fruit tart, but I honestly don’t even remember. Also it is possible that I was so overjoyed to be eating solid food that anything would have been outstanding.

On the way home, I stopped at the Popeye’s at the highway rest stop because I’ve never been to Popeye’s. (Fried chicken joints are not A Thing I grew up around and still mostly don’t exist up here.) I had chicken tenders! And mashed potatoes that I’m pretty sure were instant! And gravy! And a buttery biscuit! The chicken was terrible but I’ve had it since and I think I got a particularly awful batch. Regardless, would not recommend, unless you’re on a road trip!


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Operation Try New Restaurants: April

OK, y’all, I’m a wee bit embarrassed about April’s new restaurants. After all the excitement of March, I guess I just had to tone it down a bit?

One new-to-me place we hit up was Goody’s Pizzeria, near the kids’ school. And truly, the only reason we went there was because there was some school function or other that required us staying near school instead of going home for dinner and coming back again. It’s within walking distance. They have mediocre pizzas and an assortment of salty snacks and sugary drinks. It’s not McDonald’s, which was the main draw. The inside was old-school charming and my kiddos got a big kick out the photos over every table and the tiny bathroom. It was perfect for what it was.

The other place we went in April was…99 Restaurant. Restaurants? The 99? I don’t even know how to refer to it. Basically the only big box, chain-type restaurants we go to are Chipotle and McDonald’s. But this whole casual style, eat in, chain restaurant thing is new to my kids! It was a family adventure – we met up with my aunt & uncle in their town and they took us out to lunch. I can definitely see the appeal of eating at a place like this with kids. Crayons! Coloring papers! Chocolate milk! Lemonade! Everything included in the kids’ meal, even dessert! (Which I’m fairly certain we never got and never mentioned because really how much sugar do my children need.)

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Everybody wants to sit next to Uncle Jim.


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Operation Try New Restaurants: New Haven, CT

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Oh, y’all. Back in March (yes, March! Again!) I went to so many new-to-me restaurants while on a work trip to New Haven. I was in town for the New England Archivists spring meeting (which was wonderful, by the way) so all the places I went to were new to me.

I picked Shake Shack for lunch because I’ve Heard Things about it. It was good, fine, tasty but nothing mind-blowing. I very much enjoyed my lunch. Crinkle fries!

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We had one dinner at Pacifico, where I dined solely on queso fundido since I wasn’t terribly hungry. I mean, if you can’t eat a dinner entirely made of cheese while on “vacation” then what are you doing with your life?

We had another dinner at Heirloom, which was truly wonderful. I chose some sort of soup, if I remember correctly, which the server really wanted to make sure I understood was soup. (I guess there were some issues where people didn’t quite get that?) It was delicious. You can’t go wrong at a place that serves this:

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I also opted for dessert – butterscotch pudding with a toasted marshmallow, sea salt & caramel milk jam. Oh, my heart. That was delicious. My zebras helped me eat it.

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Another lunch consisted of bubble tea (yum) and pad see ew (also yum) from Koon Thai, right near the conference center we were at.

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Zebras like Thai food too.

That evening I was lucky to be able to meet up with my sister (!) who lives near New Haven. It had been ages since we’d seen each other! I got to meet her partner, a Very Nice Young Man, and we got appetizers and drinks at the Cask Republic. It wasn’t my usual sort of place but my drink was great – some sort of fancy Moscow mule. Heck yes. (Zebras also like drinks.)

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From there we wandered rather aimlessly around town, looking for something for dinner. Most places had stupidly long wait times, but we found a table at Kitchen ZINC and ordered ourselves some kale! (And pizza!) It was a cozy little place with good food and good cider.

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Finally, on our last morning, we revisited a place we’d been to every day while there – Atticus Bookstore Cafe. This place was heaven. I got a fancy croque monsieur with asparagus that was incredibly delicious. This place satisfied my coffee needs every day, plus it was just such a pleasure to peruse. I ended up buying gifts for my kids there, as well as a few things for myself, and wanting to buy so much more than I could’ve carried home.

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Thus ends my culinary adventures in New Haven!


If you’re wondering about the zebras – they are the unofficial mascot of the Yale Center for British Art, which I visited while there. They also had a presence at the NEA spring meeting, where they were giving out these adorable little zebras. I got two for my kiddos, one of whom is now missing his legs. It was such a pleasure to visit a museum all alone! Highly recommended.

Another non-food honorable mention goes to the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. (See first photo.) It. Is. Amazing. You can visit this place! Don’t be intimidated if you’re not doing “research” – it’s OK! They have exhibits you can see and the facility itself is just breathtaking. Go. Now.

Finally, I wouldn’t be a proper knitter if I didn’t also give a shout out to Knit New Haven, where I snuck off to during lunch one day. It was a lovely little store with a nicely curated selection. I picked up a couple skeins of Spincycle Yarns in the most gorgeous pale blue/brown/multi colors. I’m in love!


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Operation Try New Restaurants: Ginza Town

Way back in March (oh yes! March!) I tried Ginza Town for the first time, which is another shameful one (like Bogusha’s) because it’s right down the street from my workplace. I’ll keep this brief since I haven’t been in some time (apparently they’re closed until mid December!) but it was good enough for me to make several lunchtime trips.

I believe on all occasions I opted for their lunch box special. For an excellent, budget-friendly price of $10.95 you get to choose four options: chicken, salmon, or beef teriyaki, or salmon matayaki; wakame or house salad; tempura or gyoza; and a sushi roll – California, Boston, spicy tuna, avocado, or kappa. I chose a different array of items each time and they were all lovely – and generous too! Definitely worth the price.

I thoroughly intend to go back once they’re open again!