Monthly Archives: October 2017

Together Tuesday: Halloween Round-Up

Happy Halloween, Y’all.

Since I will be busy with work all day and then my Baby Girl’s first trick-or-treat experience this evening, I wanted to keep this post super simple. Pop on over here to read about my Baby Girl’s first Halloween or here to read about her second.

If you’re interested in thematic planning for Halloween – especially with regards to navigating the holiday with a little one –  revisit (or check out for the first time) my Thematic Thursday  post on Halloween.

And finally, if you’re looking for recipes, yesterday’s spooky favorites should get you inspired!

Have a fun, safe, and spooky Halloween everyone, and we’ll see you again tomorrow when things (hopefully) return to normal!

Menu Monday: Spooky Favorites

Once upon a time, when I did not have a daughter or a husband, I threw a Halloween party that was decently attended. And when I threw this party, I made some really awesome food (because of course I did; I wasn’t even working at the time, IIRC, so what better use of my time was there than to make Halloween treats?). And since then, I’ve made some pretty awesome food for Halloween parties at work, too. I’d like to share some of those recipes with you today. I won’t be able to make it to our Halloween party at the main campus this year, sadly, but I will be there in spirit. 

First up, some amazing pumpkin cream cheese cupcakes muffins at Thrifty DIY Diva. I’m pretty sure when I made them, I skipped the candied pumpkin seeds and frosted them with a vanilla frosting.

And also: some dark chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. This isn’t the original recipe I used but it’s a close approximation: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling

 

Savings Sunday: Budgeting on the MicroScale

We all know we need to have a budget, right? Track spending, set limits, etc. But that’s on the macro scale. What about the micro scale? When you have an event, a holiday, a trip, or a desperate need (such as winter clothes for the kids), do you do a budget work-up for that, or do you just try to shove it in wherever it will fit?

I have tried my best to budget these things separately. Obviously, I have the main budget, but usually, unless things are really dire, there is some money left over in the budget for “other.” And at this time of year, there is SO. MUCH. OTHER.

Last month, the other was Baby Girl’s birthday. This month, Halloween AND my anniversary. Next month, Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping (if I don’t start it this month.)

So, I find or develop planners. For Halloween, I use this one, which I devised myself. (It’s a rather large file and may be difficult to handle for some older model printers. If you find there are printing errors, try splitting the print job into pages 1-8 and 9-13.) For my anniversary,  this year it’s just been a sticky note on one of my regular budget pages, because we didn’t plan much for this year. Thanksgiving … Well, in the past, Thanksgiving has been a nightmare amalgamation of many different planners. With any luck, I’ll have time in the near future to streamline that.  I have planners for trips and birthdays and all sorts of other events. And, of course, I have a giant Christmas planner that could damn near be its own binder entirely.

What things do you find yourself planning on the micro scale? Have you been able to find or make a planner to suit your needs?

Self-Care Saturday: Clothes

What do you like to wear?

I have heard … well, I believe I’ve heard every single woman in my life tell me that they take off their bra as soon as they hit the door.

I don’t do that. Or at least, I didn’t until I had Baby Girl. Even now if she isn’t scrambling to nurse when I get home, I’ll leave it on until she does. Some nights I’ve actually managed to forget I was still wearing it until it was time for bed…

I also don’t change into my pajamas when I get home. That one comes up less among my friends and colleagues, but that does still come up.

So what do I like to wear?

I like things that make me feel pretty or  cute. Obviously nothing too terribly uncomfortable, but I have been known around my workplace as the girl who wears heels. People will literally  stop me in the halls and ask if I’m feeling all right if I’m not wearing heels.

I like things that match. I don’t know if it’s OCD or just a weird obsession with symmetry and balance, but if I’m wearing pajamas, they had better match. I will dig through my drawers for the right pieces for forever. It drives my husband nuts. Even if it’s something no one will see (like my bra and panties), if I can get them to match, I’m much happier.

Some things you won’t be able to get away from. For example, you pretty much have to wear clothes of some description. And some of you may have dress codes or even uniforms. But today I challenge you to find something you can do that makes you like the clothes you’re wearing better – even if it’s just an new pair of pretty, frilly underwear.

Flashback Friday: Halloween 2.0

So, last year at Halloween, Baby Girl was still too young for trick-or-treating. I’m not sure I’d even let her have sweetened applesauce yet! But we still had a family set of costumes- we were the Flintstones!  The costumes were actually super simple to make; Baby Girl’s was just a green onesie and a pair of shorts, though I did have to dye it because I couldn’t find a plain green onesie. I also painted the triangles on with fabric paint.

The other thing that was awesome about last year’s Halloween was that we got to go to my work Halloween party. Every year the library I work for has a Halloween potluck and I decided that since no one at the main campus had seen my daughter (other than my best friend who happens to work for the same university that I do), it would be a perfect time for everyone to see her. There aren’t many occasions where the 100+ employees of the library gather at one time, and it certainly is the most relaxed event we would all be at.

Everyone adored her, of course, and the marketing coordinator even snapped some pictures of us as a family. Which turned out to be great, because we ended up not getting any other pictures of us altogether. I was very relieved that she had taken them, especially after we’d taken something like two dozen for Baby Girl’s first Halloween.

Let that be a lesson for you – make sure you budget in/schedule some time for pictures, even if it’s only a few. Don’t be convinced (like I was) that because you have your picture taking device with you at all times, you’re going to remember to take them in the course of the evening.

Thematic Thursday: Halloween!

I almost didn’t write this post because today is my anniversary, and I was going to cop-out and just write a two-sentence post about that and be done, but it looks like I beat that horse to death already, and anyway, I’ve already confessed to post-dating my posts, so instead we’re going to talk about one of my favorite holidays: HALLOWEEN!

Yes, we’ve already talked about the beginning of the holiday season, and we’ve talked about Baby Girl’s first Halloween (and a post on her second Halloween will be tomorrow),  but we haven’t really talked about Halloween at my house this year.

I got my decorations up the first weekend of the month. During Baby Girl’s nap on the 1st, I put up my gravestones and hanging ghouls and goblins and put my skeleton and brooms on the porch. I have a pressure sensor that screams when you step on my welcome mat (that says Enter If You Dare, by the way), but I won’t turn it on until Halloween  night, after the littlest kids have trick or treated – they’re usually done by 5 pm.

We’re also going trick or treating ourselves this year, as a family. We’ll be dressed up as the Addams family (sans Pugsley) and I’m super excited about it. Baby Girl is still a little young though, so we’ll be going as soon as trick-or-treating starts (we have official start times in our area), going through as many houses as we can in 30 minutes or so, and then back to the house to hand out candy for the rest of the trick or treat time.

I’ve also been waffling back and forth about whether to decorate my library for Halloween. My students are all grown ups, so I probably shouldn’t…. On the other hand, I’m going to miss the big Halloween potluck at the main campus…. So… maybe just a little?

We’ll see!

Working Wednesday: It Gets Better

.. And then worse again, and then better for a while, and then… Well, that’s life, isn’t it?

I have had what feels like a rollercoaster of a semester. If it’s not new policies and other announcements from the administration, it’s frustrations over my employee and her suddenly inflexible schedule. I’ve tried my best to come up with a couple of projects that are completely independent of the university and all the inherent issues (aka, no need for travel or time off, like article proposals), but mainly I’m at their mercy.

I am here to say, though (and to remind myself) that it does get better. Every job has growing pains and there’s no reason to think otherwise. There will be new bosses and new employees, budget crunches and budget surpluses (oh, one can dream, can’t they?) and you just need to try to ride the wave. For the most part, these things will happen with you or without you, and the every day functions of your job won’t change much. (A friend of mine calls it white noise.) Take a deep breath, practice self-care, and let it all happen.

That being said, I don’t want you to think that means that you have to stay there if you feel like you’re undervalued or underpaid. It can be scary to try to venture into something new even when you don’t have a family relying on you, but remember: if you do things politely and professionally, there will not be any hard feelings if you decide to move on from your job. At least here in the U.S., it is almost expected that at some point you will work for someone else; that’s why we have things called “entry-level” jobs. I have gotten a lot of strange looks from people when I tell them I plan to stay working at this university until I retire, especially because I don’t have family in the area.

At any rate, looking at job listings isn’t going to hurt anyone, and it might even help – you can get a feel for what it means to stay current in your field and brush up on those skills even if you aren’t planning to leave.

Together Tuesday: Anniversary (without a Babysitter…)

This is one post that is actually having to be written at least semi-contemporaneous to its posting, because it is about this weekend that just happened. My anniversary is still two days away, but on Saturday my husband and I did the bulk of our celebrating; we’ll still go out to eat on Thursday, but since it’s a week day, we didn’t want to try to shove anything else into the day.

We spent Saturday at the state park where we got married, taking some pictures and just walking around. We’re doing this whole anniversary thing on the cheap like I mentioned on Sunday, but we still got some great pictures even without a photographer. Baby Girl was with us and I got some extra cute shots of her running around, too! 

She even met a little girl about her age and managed to disrupt not only our photo shoot but theirs as well. Luckily the other mother was a good sport about it, and now our kids are in each other’s photos. Not quite sure how I feel about that, but as they say, shit happens. Hopefully they’ll have the sense to keep those pictures to themselves as much as possible. On the bright side, we don’t know each other’s names and at least they won’t be traced back to us by our kids’ future employers. (Not that they were bad pictures or anything, I’m just anxious about creating an online identity for my child before she’s old enough to contribute to it.)

Baby Girl did fall over while the kids were playing though, and bumped her head pretty bad, so we headed home early. I’ve been keeping an extra eye on her just in case, but so far she has acted perfectly normal.

Husband and I did get to spend some time together alone later in the evening, too, so that was nice. All in all a great anniversary experience, and we still have dinner to look forward to.

Menu Monday: Pork Problems

So, my family eats a lot of chicken. It is probably the number one protein we consume (especially if you also count eggs. Baby Girl can tear through some eggs.) But I like to break up the monotony sometimes with other stuff – like sausage, or beef, or even some ground turkey. Occasionally we might even have a meatless meal.

Enter pork. Specifically loin or chops, though any actual cut (as opposed to ground) tends to be a problem. We just don’t like pork very much, but it can be fairly inexpensive and I don’t like to write off a whole category of meat just like that. So, I’ve been trying to find new ways to use it, that might get us a little more excited about it.

I’ve found that honestly the best way to use pork is to make Asian-inspired dishes. So far our family favorites are this Korean-style BBQ (which I make a double batch of and then use half for this pork fried rice later) and sweet and sour pork. I use the breading and sauce from this dish that originally called for chicken and then toss it with some stir fry veggies for a dish that honestly made everyone much happier than I expected. My husband did ask that I cut the pork into slightly smaller pieces next time, though. Not sure if that was  because they were actually too large or because he wanted more breading, but I’m not opposed to implementing his suggestion.

That all being said, I did try out this pork souvlaki dish, just because my husband and I love Greek food, and it was not too bad at all.

What do you do with pork (if you eat it at all)?

Saving Sunday: Anniversary on the Cheap (ish.)

As we talked about on Thursday, my anniversary is coming up, and it’s quite frankly hitting us at a bad time financially. We aren’t broke by any means, but I am seeing the writing on the wall with regards to some major expenses coming up (Christmas, for one – though we’ll talk later about keeping that frugal as well) and am trying to build up our savings as a buffer against that. So we’re going super cheap for our anniversary.

First, we are going to a restaurant that has a lot of coupons available – and I clipped one to make our night a little more enjoyable (it’s a free appetizer.) That being said, it is still a steakhouse, which is basically all my husband ever wants in life and I do not remember the last time we splurged and went to an actual steakhouse. (He won’t order a steak anywhere else and I can’t say I blame him.)

Second, like I said in my other post, we’re not doing presents. We have a major gift giving holiday coming up, and my birthday, so we don’t need an excuse to get each other gifts. What we are going to do instead, though, is spend time with each other and go back to the place we got married. (It was a state park, so it’s free other than the gas money to go there and back.) We’re going to walk the trails and take some pictures, weather permitting.

Finally, at least on my end – I found a coupon for American Greetings cards. I was going to go really frugal and make him a card from the craft stuff I had laying around (and boy do I have a lot of it), but with Halloween coming up, I was concerned I wouldn’t have time to do something really nice. Maybe next year?

How do you celebrate anniversaries? Have any other tips and tricks for keeping the budget in line? Share them in the comments.