Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: Property Brothers

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LSBW GRAPHIC

Well, winter has finally hit in full force here in Minnesota. Through Christmas and the New Year the weather was pretty mild. We didn’t get a ton of snow at that point. Now, however, we’ve finally gotten a coating of snow, and it’s cold. I always seem to get sick around this time of year. My job brings me in contact with lots of people on a daily basis, and no matter how often I wash my hands and use hand sanitizer, I manage to get sick. A few days ago, a couple people were complaining about having a cold, and sure enough, now I have a cold! It’s slowly getting better, which is awesome, but I’m pretty bummed out to be sick just in time for the weekend…

One thing about this cold is that I have had the hardest time concentrating! Writing blog posts has been taking me twice as long because I just don’t want to focus on them. Reading is out of the question. So, it’s the perfect opportunity for me to catch up on episodes of today’s binge watch pick: Property Brothers. It doesn’t require much thought, but it’s still entertaining and even educational!

Property Brothers is an HGTV show that you can currently watch on Netflix! It’s a reality home improvement show about two twin brothers, one who is a realtor, and the other who is a contractor. Each episode, they have a client looking to buy a new home. They always have pretty specific wish lists. The brothers bring them to a house that is move-in ready and has all of their “must have” items. After the people see the house and love it, they drop the bomb: the house is totally out of their budget! Sometimes, the house costs double what their budget is! It’s a tough love thing to do, but the point they are trying to make is that the client will need to get a fixer upper house, and renovate it. That way, they will be able to get the house they want, but they will also be able to say within their budget. It’s interesting how the couple reacts with the icky houses they go see. Then, when they decide between two houses and the design that goes along with them, you get to watch the renovation, along with all of the problems and unforeseen complications! But, in the end, you get to see beautiful finished products that seem like they were worth the extra time.

I love home improvement shows, even though I live in an apartment and can’t really use them. There are some really fun decorating tips though. This one is nice because it does kind of go into what to look for when buying a house. There is also some good information on how to get high end looking houses while being able to work inside a budget.

I recommend this show for people who like DIY or home improvement shows. I also think this show would be good for people who are thinking about moving or renovating. Netflix has a couple seasons of episodes, so I hope you check it out!

Let’s chat! Do you watch home improvement shows? What do you like about them? Any recommendations of things I should watch?

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Saturday Update!

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Happy Saturday, everyone! Yesterday was the last day of Blogging 101, and I have managed to get super far behind in posts and assignments. As one that does not give up without trying, I am still going to do most of the last few assignments that I have missed. They’re really good ones, so I’m pretty excited! I promise that I have a good reason for getting so far behind: image Meet Gatsby! He’s the newest member of our little band of misfits! We adopted him from the humane society last week, and it’s been great so far! We’ve been working to introduce him to our other cat, Scout, the right way. For those who are relatively new to this blog, here’s Scout: image Since Gatsby has needed to be quarantined because he had kennel cough, we’ve been able to make the kitty introduction gradual. I think it has really helped them both with stress since they are able to get used to each other and hopefully see that they aren’t a threat. Hopefully they will be able to officially meet in the next few days. It’s been sort of hard to keep them away from each other, surprisingly. I will let you all know how it goes! I have been active on WordPress however, even if it’s been in ways that don’t involve posting. I have been spending quite a bit of time in the Reader, discovering new and exciting blogs! Not only was this an assignment for Blogging 101, but it’s also something I really enjoy doing! One of the Blogging 101 assignments was to find at least 4 new blogs, comment, and write a post about it. I did find 4 new blogs that I absolutely love, and I hope you agree!

The first blog I found is Musings of a Strange Child. This lady is super awesome and loves Rockabilly and DIY! I commented on her post “Crafty AND adorable as hell!!“. This post is about these fantastic sunglasses she made. I would seriously buy some from her if I could. I really enjoyed reading about her childhood and how she was immersed in art. It was something I can relate to, and really made me more interested! I’m very excited to read more from her!

Another amazing post I found was actually a collaboration between hotchocolateandcream and Nearly a Princess, who are both wonderful lifestyle bloggers. In the post, they both give excellent tips on starting a blog. For anyone looking for tips, this is a great resource. It’s both honest and useful. I learned about Bloglovin’, which I am going to be checking out this weekend! One of the tips that was reallly great is that you shouldn’t compare yourself to other bloggers. You shouldn’t base whether or not you’re successful based on how other bloggers are doing. It is something I have struggled with, but the great thing about blogging is that it isn’t a competition. It’s a great way to build a vibrant, supportive community with people from all over the globe. Success mean something different to everyone, and what fun would it be if we all wanted the same things?

A third blog I found is The Rest is Still Unwritten. The thing I like about this blog is that it is really honest and genuine. I commented on her post “Whip It…Whip It Good!“. This post is a recipe for body butter to prevent stretch marks (like what happens to pregnant women’s bellies). Even though I am not currently concerned about that, it sounds like a really luxurious skin moisturizer anyway! I’m really excited to try it out! I love products that are natural, rather than full of chemicals.

The final blog I found is Instantly Jessi, which is written by a woman from Texas who has moved to Cincinnati, and writes about all kinds of things, like recipes, local events, and her upcoming wedding! It was one of her posts on her upcoming wedding that really caught my attention. Her post, “Changing my last name, Am I ready?” really resonated with me. In the post, she talks about being hesitant to change her last name after getting married. One of the reasons is that she does  ot want to lose her heritage and culture, which are built into her name. My husband and I will be celebrating our third wedding anniversary in a few short months (!!!), and this is actually the second time that I have legally changed my last name, so I do have a unique perspective on the topic. I shared my thoughts in a comment, which I will share with you now:

Without going into too many details, my Mom got remarried when I was in high school to the man who basically helped her raise me. So, he legally adopted me soon after. I was adopted and my last name changed partway through the school year. It was somewhat confusing and complicated, but mostly exciting. Since it was during the school year, one day my assignments had one last name, and the next day I was signing a new name. My English teacher that year was a really awesome woman whom I still admire. When I handed in my first assignment to her with my new last name, she did something that has stuck with me since. When she handed the assignment back, she had written a comment at the top of the page where my name was, which said, “You’re now….YOU!” I remembered this when I was preparing to change my name again after getting married. I don’t think I lost anything in changing my name either time. In fact, the opposite is true. I gained another layer to my identity. Especially in the case of getting married, I gained a shared identity with my husband, symbolizing that we’re partners in crime (like our vows said), and this isn’t something we intend to be temporary. I know many women that did not change their name after getting married, and they all had valid reasons. I simply chose a different path.

This has been a really great week for discovering new blogs and bloggers! Check out the four bloggers I mentioned in this post, they’re all awesome!

How I Learned to Meal Plan… And Stop Asking “What’s for Dinner?”

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meal plan title

After I started working my first “grown-up” job (Monday-Friday, at a desk, business hours… you get the picture), I had to put more time into thinking about what to put on the table for dinner every night. It is way too stressful for me to come home after a long day and then figure out what I am going to cook. Sometimes, my indecision about dinner was leading to me basically giving up and getting dinner out, more often than I liked. I love cooking. I love it to the point where I don’t always see a point in going to restaurants, because I will generally like what I have cooked more than what a restaurant will serve me, and I find cooking to be relaxing. I am weird like that. I love restaurants for special meals: celebrations and date nights, but not so much for the answer to “What’s for dinner?”.

Eventually, I get fed up with having to rush to put dinner together at the end of the day, and had to think of a better system for planning meals. I took to Pinterest, which is a great source for almost anything, and quickly found tons of resources on meal planning, and how it can help save time, money, and keep food from going to waste. These are all things I love. So, I gave it a shot! And, for the most part, I think it works great! Not only do I know what I am making for dinner well in advance, I have all the ingredients for those meals, and can move things around if I’m not in the mood for a certain dish on a certain day.

This is how I do it:

  1. I generally make my meal plan for Monday-Sunday on Saturday or Sunday morning, though it depends on when I go grocery shopping.
  2. I like to look at our family’s schedule for the upcoming week. Are there any nights where we don’t have to cook dinner (work events, friends/family, date nights)? If this is the case, I make a note of it so I don’t pick out more meals than we will be making that week. Also: are we having people over? If we are, is there anything I have to keep in mind about the meal (young kids, big groups, dietary restrictions)? Knowing this will help me pick out a meal that will make everyone happy.
  3. Then, I look through the pantry, fridge and freezer. If there is anything that needs to be used up, I make a note of that as well, so I can make something that uses that ingredient, and prevents it from going to waste! I also see if there is anything that is practically jumping off the shelf to get made. I also look at grocery store ads in case anything is on sale. It is cheaper to build a meal plan around ingredients that are on sale.
  4. Next, I ask if there are any cravings. Not just with me, but my husband too. Generally, he will say no, or tacos, or pizza. Of course. Those are the easiest meals to plan for, since it doesn’t take any searching.
  5. Once I get all that information, I look for recipes and ideas, keeping in mind anything from my list above (meals with others, food to use up, etc). I look for recipes in tons of different places, this includes cookbooks (did you see all the cookbooks I have in that first picture?), my recipe box, Pinterest, magazine, or this huge 5 subject notebook that I use to compile recipes I want to try or am working on. Note: I only meal plan for dinner, since my husband and I both eat breakfast and lunch at work. On the weekends, I will sometimes plan meals, but otherwise I just throw something delicious together.
  6. While compiling the recipes for the week, I keep a list of any ingredients I will need, which will be the basis for my shopping list.
  7. Finally, I strategically decide when to have which meals. If people are coming over, we will obviously be eating the meal that I picked for that night. Otherwise, I model my meal plan like this: If there is anything that is going to spoil quickly, I will make the recipe with that ingredient on Monday. I do easy recipes Monday-Thursday (it’s during the workweek, so I don’t want to come home and cook dinner for 2 hours). Anything special or time-consuming I do on Friday-Sunday. I also think of recipes that have excellent leftovers, and try to have those Sunday-Thursday. That way, thinking of what to have for lunch at work is easy!

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The picture above is my notebook that has most of the recipes I use in it (notice how the pages are all crumpled? That thing is well-loved). I use a planner not just to plan out blog posts, but also to plan out my week and the meals I’ll be making.

Once I have everything worked out, or, if I need help deciding when to make which meals, I will enlist the help of my husband. He likes being able to help me out, and it also makes him excited for upcoming meals we will be having. Once everything is set, I write my meal plan out on a board I created:

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I love this board….

This is how to make a meal-plan board:

I found a big frame that had 9 openings (actually, my Mom did, this frame was a gift from her!). Honestly, as long as the frame has 7 openings (or 5 if you just want to plan for the work week), it will work. In 7 of the openings, I put cute scrapbook paper, along with letters so I would know what day the opening stood for. I also put cute scrapbook paper in the 2 leftover spots. The top middle one has our last initial in it, and the middle one is used for further planning. I have used it to make prep schedules for the weekend before the week of the meal plan. Last week, I used it to write down what meals I would be making the week before the meal plan. That way, I was able to erase the board early, and have the next meal plan ready to go.

Since there is glass in the openings (it’s a picture frame, after all), it’s perfect for writing on. I used to use dry-erase markers, since they are so easy to use. They smudge, however, and that can make it tough to read, and look messy. So, I got wet erase markers, and I am so glad I did! The writing doesn’t smudge, and it’s easy to read!

Another nice thing about having the meal plan in a frame like this is that I can switch out the scrapbook paper whenever I like, to match the decor in our kitchen, or if I just want to change it for the season. I have had the same paper in mine for over a year, and I am not sick of it yet! I love that I can hang it on the wall, and it’s not only easy to find, easy to read, and is a functional decoration, but it’s also a conversation starter when we have people over! I have had people comment on how they love the idea, and comment on meals on the plan!

Do you have any special tricks when it comes to meal planning? Are you like me, and sometimes have a hard time keeping organized and sticking to the plan? Let me know what you think in the comments!