Holiday Excitement

First of all, I’m SO excited to cook Thanksgiving dinner this year for my brother and I. Since I’m pescatarian and he’s a foodie, I’ve planned a yummy, fresh and non-traditional feast with a great blend of fatty rich food, protein and lean veggies. And of course sugar for desert though I have virtually no sweet tooth. Here’s the menu:
Beer Cheese Soup (I’m adding broccoli to the recipe I found on a blog)
Cheesy Bread, courtesy of the bro
Shrimp and Cheesy Grits (w/ zucchini, cherry tomatoes, corn and smoked paprika)
Tricolored Bell Pepper Stir-Fry
and Maple and Brown Sugar cookies

It’s no accident that this menu calls for both beer and wine so that we get to enjoy the 75% that’s left over. We basically morph into 21 year olds when we get together. Well, 21 year olds who can cook and drink higher quality beverages than bud light and cheap tequila. Does that just make us run-of-the-mill alcoholics? Don’t answer that, we know.

Anyway, I’m so excited to have good company, good food and probably a 2-day hangover.

I’ve also already started thinking about and shopping for Christmas. I’m half-way done C.’s and my Christmas shopping, which means I’ve done a lot since I have taken over the shopping for everyone on our list. As far as our gifts to each other, I suggested that since neither of us really needs or wants anything major, it might be fun to just put together nice stockings for each other. C. was on board with the idea even though it probably requires more shopping and thinking about shopping than he prefers. I’m totally going to have fun with it, though, since it’s much easier to think of little things that he’d like but doesn’t think to buy for himself than a big thing (especially since I just got him Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare for an early birthday gift). I only managed to surprise him with that because I pre-ordered it and gave it to him before he knew it existed.
Happy Holiday planning, hope yours is as fun as mine has been!

What I’m Loving Wednesday

I’ve decided to add a weekly feature to my blogging, “What I’m Loving Wednesday”, where I’ll round up a few things that are making me happy this week, with photos. It’s a pretty common thing in blogger land to do this kind of thing, and I’ve always enjoyed those simple posts, plus it’s a chance to round up a few things that aren’t worthy of a whole post on their own, but brightened my week or day a bit.

1.

I'm clearly not the only one loving my brand new dining room table. It now has placemats, one of which the cats won't allow to remain on the table.
I’m clearly not the only one loving my brand new dining room table. It now has placemats, one of which the cats won’t allow to remain on the table.

2.

My re-organized and streamlined tupperware cabinet. SO much better.
My re-organized and streamlined tupperware cabinet. SO much better.

3.

95% biodegradable K-cups for when I'm not using my re-usable K-cup filter. Discovered these thanks to my little brother and love feeling a little less guilty when I want a quick cup.
95% biodegradable K-cups for when I’m not using my re-usable K-cup filter. Discovered these thanks to my little brother and love feeling a little less guilty when I want a quick cup.

4.

Finding a delicious craft beer that I never thought I'd find again, and it just happens to be the perfect flavor for this cold snap we're having.
Finding a delicious craft beer that I never thought I’d find again, and it just happens to be the perfect flavor for this cold snap we’re having.

5.

The strangeness of cat behavior. Always.
The strangeness of cat behavior. Always.

Visiting Virginia Family

We took the short-ish trip to the DC area to visit my sister-in-law and family this weekend. I got to see firsthand what being a mother of two kids under 4 looks like, and it basically looks like every wants and needs you all at once, most of the time. It’s a lot, especially when you figure that’s her time “off”, but she seems to juggle it all so well. I don’t know if I’d be as good at doing it all as she is, I would guess not. I mean she kind of does everything, works, sews, cooks, is mommy, is wife, works out on top of it all, and ya know keeps house, gardens, has a second job most of the time… I mean ?! It’s a good thing I’m not trying to measure up to all of that. Also, the kids are sweet and absolutely gorgeous.

I wasn’t surprised at how much kids need, and it in no way made me think twice about trying. The kids are so so precious and beautiful and their personalities are so distinct and freaking cute, I can’t wait to go back for Christmas. Anyway, that was most of my weekend. Other than that we bought and hauled up a new couch, an actual furniture-store couch for grown-ups before we headed up there. When we got hme, I ran out to buy some placemats for the table and some nice plaid flannel pj pants (Calvin Klein, even) for the husband since he’s heading to Michigan again and maybe Canada. Since I got my first real paycheck that was in the triple digits, I figured I’d make those little purchases. My SIL was nice enough to give me several tops and pants that are too big for her as well as a dress, so I don’t have to shop much more for nice things to wear to work. And since she’s short like me, they need no hemming, which never happens, even with petite lengths. So, that was awesome, and the clothes are chic, yet kindergarten-appropriate. When I go for Christmas, I’ll have to bring her the things in my closet that are a little small for me and the clothing swap will be complete.

Friday Nights Home Alone

Sometimes I question my decisions to repeatedly leave behind everyone I know, my hard-won friends and move to a new place for no reason in particular. Not that I questio it for no reason in particular, but I do it for no reason in particular. I am still friendless in Virginia, but that doesn’t seem weird to me since it took me years, plural years for real, to make good friends in Louisiana. It’s odd, having a group of friends in Louisiana, a single solid friend left in Maine, one in New York… I guess the thing is that people started moving on from Louisiana and those who were left I saw about once a month and it was great, but once a month is not enough to make the other days spent in a place that had never quite grown on me bearable. I could grin and bear it but I felt I’d done enough of that. I still feel like moving was the right decision and it has made visiting with my friends and family in Maine and New York much easier. Or, it did before I started working days a week, which by the way, I’m still waiting on HR to decide if it’s permanent.

As the weather cools off there are less things to keep me occupied in my off-time, not that I am ever that great about actually leaving the house and doing things. I was hitting the beach a couple of times a week for a run and going to the patio of Park Lane Tavern about once a week, but now it’s kind of cold for both of those, The tavern will probably not be an option anytimme soon, but I should bundle up and get to the beach again soon. i say bundle up and it’s like 50, so I’m a baby, but that’s four years of Deep South for ya.

Anyway, C. is finally coming home for a few days next week and even though I’m working we’ll have the weekend.It will be nice to have someone to do things with for a change. End ramble post.

I’m Either Rich or Grateful

C. and I have had a long-standing debate about whether or not we are rich. Spoiler alert: we are definitely not even close to being rich. The debate comes from my continuously saying that we are rich. Because I feel freaking rich, people. And this is not some sappy post about how our love makes us rich or blah blah. What I mean is that our (lower) middle class life feels like being rich to me.

I didn’t grow up poor, though we were technically. The real version of poor came when I moved out at 17. I had a grocery budget of $11-15 per week and I rarely ate out (if I did it was fast food dollar menu). I could, and needed to, make a dollar packet of noodles last for a couple of meals and when the need arose to buy toilet paper, that stressed my budget. Basically, every single purchase that I made affected every other needed or un-needed purchase. I never had my own apartment, always found some room in a shared house or apartment on craigslist, I bought used cars with cash that I saved by being extremely frugal. I struggled to pay rent and utilities, and worried when I had to drive out of my way because I hadn’t budgeted for the extra gas money. This is still how I lived when I met C., though I was making more ($1200/mo) and had sold my car and walked to school and work in an effort to put $300/mo into savings. Speaking of school, I paid for school up until that time by taking a minimum amount of loans and then putting the rest on a payment plan which would take another 300 from my monthly income. It was a lifestyle that I was used to, but was absolutely stressful. Any minor thing, illness that required a doctor, maintenance needed on the car, shit, an oil change, could set me back despite my trying so hard to save.

This is why I am convinced that we are rich. Since we’ve combined our finances in certain ways (cars, groceries, apartment) I never have to worry about running out of food or buying toilet paper one roll at a time. I told him yesterday how happy it made me when I ran out of tp to realize that there were 16 more rolls in the closet. I remain very aware and grateful of how fortunate I am. I drive a new car that doesn’t need much, but gas or an oil change never means I have to sacrifice something else and we have paper towels and I can afford the $6 package of 50 face wipes I like, the nice razor blades and body wash, pants for work when I need them. I can buy all of these things AT THE SAME TIME AND STILL EAT. It’s all just so much to me, I really do feel rich. My version of rich, I guess, is having everything you need. And I have even more than what I need, so yup, I will continue to feel rich.

We don’t own a house, but we have somewhere nice and safe to live. Rich. I’m not shopping at whole foods, but I can make myself nutritious meals. Rich. I don’t drive a lexus, but I drive very dependable and cute little car that has a great warranty, Rich. There is a lot that we don’t have and can’t afford, but the reason that I feel rich is because that list of things we don’t have and can’t afford is full of things that we don’t NEED. In that way, and in a lot ways, I want for nothing. This life is very comfortable and that means we’re plenty rich enough for me. Having enough to take care of whatever we really need and whatever may come up is something I’m so thankful for and it doesn’t hurt to remember how many people, my former self included, would love to be in our position, “rich” or not.

Trying to De-Bachelor our Pad

I think I’ve mentioned before that our apartment tends to look like a dark, cheaply furnished bachelor pad. I’ve been trying to work on this since we moved, buying and filling a beautiful china hutch, replacing our brown comforter with a white down-alternative (hasn’t been photographed but has really brightened up the bedroom) and my project this week has been to paint the cheap black particle board bookshelves that flank the pretty hutch, dragging it down with their drabness. I also ordered a new dining room table as we no longer have one and we’ll be picking that up next week.
I found a rug for 20$ to put under the table that I rather like despite its being yet another Big Lots piece. The table is real, actual furniture and I will be showing it off soon! In the meantime, here’s my bookshelf makeover. While I love the end result, it took a long time and a lot of coats and is highly prone to chipping, probably because particle board furniture is not meant to be painted. Is this why contact paper is a thing? Anyway, by the time I was finished with this bookcase I did not, and do not, at all want to go through the hassle of painting the other one, but I must! It kind of reminds me of the time I drove from Louisiana to Maine (32 grueling hours) and never ever wanted to make that trip again, but of course I had to. I had my car with me in Maine, and the both of us needed to get back to Louisiana, so I just had to suck it up and do the whole damn trip all over again. so, yeah I have to do this painting thing again. And buy a new roller and tray since I had no idea how to clean/store them and so I didn’t. Gooogle probably could have helped me with this, but instead I asked C. when we talked last night and apparently by then I’d missed my deadline to salvage both since it had been 10 hours.

before, but with the new rug.
before, but with the new rug.

 

The after picture makes me sigh with relief.
The after picture makes me sigh with relief.