Wednesday, March 26, 2014


We're finally back online! Terry and I have survived without Internet and TV since Friday, and I'm grateful to be reconnected to the rest of the world. Honestly, though, this week has been so busy that stepping away from the electronics was more a blessing than a burden.

The big event this week has been unpacking as much as possible whenever we can. Sometimes it's deliberate, hour-long endeavors to unpack a specific room; other times we just realize we need something and unpack a box in the process of finding it. But ultimately, we're getting pretty close. Now that the Internet is set up, we can finish setting up the living room. Hopefully by next week I'll be able to snap a few photos that aren't just empty rooms with boxes.

Naturally, in the midst of the chaos, we've strayed from our usual routines. Instead of relaxing after dinner, we're back up in the kitchen or bedroom to unpack. This week is also unusual because I'm still getting over being sick, Terry just came down with (most likely) what I had, and Terry has a weird work schedule that required him to be up at 4:30 am a few days. I'm hoping that by the end of next week (maybe earlier for me) we'll feel settled enough to get back into our regular exercise routine, because I miss it!

This week's meals have been all about ease and convenience, too. We're doing great on our budget, though I'm missing the variety that comes from being able to buy whatever looks good (instead of what's on sale). You can see from today's meal that we're still keeping it interesting, though, and I'm excited to visit my parents this weekend because we always eat well up there!

So here's what I ate today for WIAW:

Breakfast--two scrambled eggs with a splash of milk and some pepper jack cheese, wrapped in a tortilla

Forgot to take a breakfast picture, so here's an old one of me
eating a breakfast burrito, which is also awesome

Snack--banana plus yogurt, peanut butter, and honey (my recent favorite snack)--also no photo (I was really rocking it today)

Lunch--leftover refried beans from last night's dinner on corn tortillas, with pepper jack cheese and greens

Snack--two mandarin oranges and some trail mix (sunflower seeds, almonds, and raisins <--I am so sick of almonds and sunflower seeds, so the raisins were a nice way to mix it up while I get my protein!)

Dinner--Italian chopped salad (this one had artichoke hearts, mozzarella, salami, turkey, garbanzo beans, red onion, roasted bell peppers, and lots of greens tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper)

Dessert--a hunk of Brix chocolate, a gift from my brother and sister-in-law from Christmas that we've been savoring slowly, while chatting with my friend Jenn, who just started her new job (congrats, Jenn!). YUMMM.

Of Possible Interest:
Since I'm in a bit of a rut as far as creativity for meals (apparently I can do a budget OR I can be creative, but not both), I checked out some resources online and found a wealth of ideas for cooking on a budget. Terry and I have never budgeted for food before (we cut back elsewhere instead), so it's new territory for me! We still want to eat healthy, varied meals, so I'm hoping these sites will help me think outside the box.
Hope you had a great day!

Monday, March 24, 2014

New Home

As you might imagine, I've been away for a few days while packing, moving, and settling into our new place. We don't have Internet yet, either, so I had to wait until I found some Wifi before I could post.

Anyway, the last few days have been a blur. Friday night Terry and I enjoyed one more date night and walk in our lovely little neighborhood before moving. We walked to Wahoo's (fancy, I know, but it's always been one of our nearby favorites), and we also hopped into Westwood for a Diddy Riese ice cream cookie sandwich.

Our last night in the apartment was tough for me, and when I complained that I couldn't understand why I felt so sad, Terry said, "It's because this was the first place that's felt like home." He was right, of course. I got all choked up thinking about the million memories we made there:

  • Watching Scout mesmerized by the squirrels and on our back patio

  • Terry carrying me over the threshold after our honeymoon
  • Coming home to dozens of generous gifts from family and friends after our wedding
  • Creating some of our favorite recipes together--it's where we learned to make homemade pizza, boeuf bourguignon, and dozens of others

  • Walking to our local farmers' market and some of our favorite restaurants
  • Training for our half marathon--we ran almost every training run together in that little neighborhood

  • Spending the first three years of our marriage in very tight quarters, which has made me appreciate so much about my husband that maybe I wouldn't have seen in another place.
As I packed the last of the boxes yesterday, I looked around our 650-square-foot, one bedroom apartment and thought we must have been crazy the day we signed that lease. But I'm so glad we took the risk. Living in a small space is not for everyone, but we ended up loving it. And now that we know we can make that work (for three years!), I feel even more confident about any future homes. 

Mostly, I know that home is wherever Terry is, wherever we are together as a little family. And so we said goodbye to our first real home together and moved on to the first home we'll share with our little addition in June.

And that little addition will have a whole lot of SPACE! We had viewed the condo twice before signing the lease, but even after two days of living there we're baffled by the size. It's not huge by normal standards, but it's huge by our standards. My FitBit confirms that I'm nearly doubling my steps, just walking around the apartment. Scout is thrilled to have so much more space to run (that cat loves to run), as he sprints from our bedroom all the way to the other corner of the place, his little paws pitter-pattering across the floors.

In fact, there's a lot I'm loving about our new place, and I'll share more as we slowly set up. For now, thanks to everyone who wished us luck and congratulated us on our new place! We are excited to make it feel like home!

What is your favorite place you've lived? 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sick on a WIAW

This week has been a bit of a blur. I'm on Day Four of a pretty rough cold (body aches, runny nose, sore throat, cough, fatigue), but I'm hoping all the sleep, rest, and fluids I've gotten over the last few days will do the trick. Plus Scout has been helpful.

We got to see an ultrasound of the baby, but actually I started to feel woozy while on the table. I got all clammy and couldn't focus on the screen anymore, so I told the doctor I wasn't feeling well. Luckily, he said it was completely normal and simply told me to roll over to my left side.

Pregnant women are supposed to avoid lying on their backs because the increased size and weight of your abdomen can cause obstruction of the vena cava, a vein on the right/posterior side of the body. So my position on the table for even a few minutes was apparently enough to cause me to feel faint! Thankfully I'm totally better now, but it was similar to feelings I've had when I've donated platelets and plasma before.

I'm a little bummed because I wasn't able to focus all my attention on the baby, and we weren't able to snag a new picture of the ultrasound images. The next ultrasound isn't for eight more weeks, but at least we know all is well. I was concerned about my weight gain because I hadn't had much of an appetite lately, but my doctor is still very happy with my progress.

I've been feeling pretty awful all day, so tonight's WIAW will be a quick one. Still, I hope you had a great day of delicious eats!

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, bread (our toaster's shot), and chamomile

Snacks throughout the day: Homemade Lara bars, which I just made into bite-size pieces

Lunch: leftover beefy pasta

Snack: banana with peanut butter

Snack: Almonds

Dinner: sausage, cheese, and broccoli quiche with a sweet potato

Dessert: milk and more Lara bar bites!

Here's hoping for a healthy day tomorrow!

Of Possible Interest:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Highs and Lows

Tina's post today inspired me to follow the same format, so I'll be sharing highs and lows with you! It's fitting for this week with everything that's going on around here.

A super productive weekend of packing. Terry got a TON done over the weekend (since I'm not able to lift anything heavy or stand on chairs, he's doing about 75% of our packing), and I tried my best to help as much as possible while also taking time to rest. Our house is definitely getting there, and I'm confident that this move will be one of our least stressful ever!

Being sick. I came down with a cold by Sunday morning, and today I feel pretty awful. I'm sure a variety of factors led to being sick: my dad was sick when he came to visit (my mom got sick once they got home), the time change plus subbing multiple days last week that required 6:30 am start times, and general stress. So yesterday I woke up feeling less than stellar, and today I have a cough, some sniffles, and some minor body aches. Since I can't take any medication, I'm sipping chamomile tea like crazy to soothe my throat and hoping for lots of sleep this week.

Feeling the baby kick! Our little one is all over the place in there, and I am thrilled that he or she is so active. I can feel those little thumps almost all the time now, and I love knowing we've got a healthy baby so far!

Our budget. We set a somewhat arbitrary spending limit for our grocery budget last week and managed to come in under target! I'm sure the excitement will wear off rather quickly, but it was fun to challenge myself to find creative ways to cook healthy, varied meals at home while still finding good deals. Again, let's just see how long that lasts...

Moving. The moving process itself is going well, and I know we're going to fall in love with our new place once we're in, but I am so sad to leave our apartment. It's small, but it was our first home as a married couple, and it was a truly great place to live for three years. We keep trying to tell ourselves that it's good to move forward and that our new place will be so much better for the baby, but I think it's okay to be a little sad, too. Luckily, the reason I loved this place so much was because we made it a home together, and I know we'll do the same for anywhere else we live.

Our menu this week. We're still aiming for a sensible budget, which works perfectly with our goal of cleaning out our cabinets. As Terry packed up the kitchen, we found a bunch of items we can incorporate into this week's meals. You'll notice we're planning on making bigger quantities of meals and using them as leftovers so that we have more time to pack (and perhaps relax a little) during the week. Here's our menu:
  • Monday and Tuesday: Spaghetti bolognese with wilted spinach, homemade sauce, and a side salad
  • Wednesday and Thursday: Sausage, cheese, and veggie quiche
  • Friday: See what we have left or eat out for our last night at the apartment
Here are our lunches:
  • Monday and Tuesday: Quinoa Greek salad (I made it last night while cooking dinner, and it made for a super easy morning)
  • Wednesday: Probably PB & J or something else easy
  • Thursday and Friday: Tuna salad (similar to last week's)
Breakfasts and snacks throughout the week:
  • Eggs--scrambled, fried, whatever sounds good
  • Fruit (we have some mango and oranges leftover from last week, plus new stuff from today's grocery shopping)
  • Yogurt (usually mixed with honey and/or nut butter)
  • Cottage cheese with fruit
  • Smoothies
Since we've packed away most of our specialty cooking items, like the stand mixer, waffle iron, crock pot, and almost all the baking supplies, I don't see a lot of homemade baked goods in our future until we're settled in at the new place. We'll be enjoying a lot of leftovers this week, which I know some people hate, but I absolutely LOVE leftovers and how easy they are to reheat and serve! Perfect for such a crazy time. 

This one's a bonus, but I found out something CRAZY last night! At our birth class, Terry and I were talking to our teacher about our due date, because she has emphasized multiple times how doctors' estimated due dates can be several weeks off. During our conversation, she asked if I had noticed any symptoms immediately upon conception that might have indicated the day I got pregnant. Well, remember when I ended up in the hospital and was diagnosed with colitis?

I had always suspected there was a link between getting so sick and getting prengant, and our teacher thinks I was right! She said it's most likely that my colon reacts to hormones, which is why my stomach went crazy. The good news is that we can more accurately guess our due date, and luckily we agree with the doctor that the baby should arrive within the first week of June. Isn't it crazy what our bodies do?

Any highs or lows for you today? 

Of possible interest: 10 Ways to Buy Organic on a Budget

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fay's Bridal Shower

On Saturday we still woke up early to grab more boxes (how is it that you can never have enough boxes and packing material during a move?), but we were able to take it pretty easy the rest of the morning. Terry got a ton more packing done, I packed a little and napped a little (yep, I pulled the pregnancy card), and then we each got ready for our respective afternoon plans. I had a bridal shower in Culver City, and Terry represented both of us at a party for his coworker's three-year-old.

Fay's good friend Jen organized the intimate bridal shower at Bar & Garden, a cute wine, beer, and spirits shop with a focus on mostly organic alcohol. The back of the store has a small space for private tastings, and we had two staff members dedicated to our little party. Fay didn't know the details of the party, so she got to experience a little surprise about who was there (friends from out of town she wasn't expecting!) and what the party entailed.

Jen did an incredible job of throwing this gorgeous shower. Her style is chic, trendy, and totally "with it"--she kept the decor extremely simple (the key is to find an awesome venue that doesn't require much dressing up, like this one!), gave small vases of succulents as favors, and picked up mini cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake.

I was especially impressed by Bar and Garden's willingness to serve me some nonalcoholic beverages. The server was actually excited to create some fun concoctions for me! My first drink was a drinkable balsamic with sparkling water (it tastes like balsamic, but somehow it was perfect for drinking), and my second drink was a mix of Meyer lemon, cranberry, and Douglass fir. I was thrown off by that last one, but Shrub & Co. makes these natural extracts that work surprisingly well in combinations. I actually really enjoyed the Douglass Fir extract! I told the server it tasted like I was walking through a forest. Which was weird, but I think he appreciated the sentiment.

I had a wonderful time at the shower, and it was especially great to catch up with some folks I don't normally see. I chatted a lot with Fay, her sister Janou (who reads the blog! Hi, Janou!), and Molly, who is married to an old friend of mine. I especially loved getting new blog suggestions--I can't wait to check out their favorites! Here's what they suggested:
Molly also clued me in about Houzz, a decorating app/website, once I explained that I have no idea what to do with "so much space" in our new apartment!

Fay's birthday is today (Sunday), so Jen brought a candle for one of the cupcakes!

What a fun, beautiful day of celebrating the bride to be. I can't wait for the wedding in less than four months!

Congratulations, Fay! You're going to be a stunning bride!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! I've come down with a little cold, so I'm hoping to keep this week mellow. Fat chance, given that we're moving on Saturday, but I can try!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Packing Day and Moving Tips

Terry and I both had the day off yesterday, so we planned to spend as much of it packing as possible. We woke up early to pick up boxes (Trader Joe's is the best!), but then Terry had an appointment to donate blood at UCLA.

After his appointment, though, we managed to get a good chunk of the packing done. I've noticed that a lot of people--my husband included--absolutely hate moving, but I don't really mind it. Over ten years and no fewer than--are you ready for this?--eleven moves to various dorms and apartments since starting college, I have learned a few tricks that really help save time, money, and frustration. Here are a few (keeping in mind that all of our moves have been local):

Plan ahead as much as possible. Unless you have very little notice, it's usually possible to plan at least 30 days in advance. So you have plenty of time to start packing early, hire movers or arrange for helpers, and gather materials. Pack up things like books, movies, frames--anything you won't need until after the move.

Go through the post office to forward your mail. For one dollar, the post office will forward all your mail for one year. It offers a back-up system in case you forgot to change your address somewhere, and it saves you the hassle of figuring out where your mail might be.

Get free boxes from grocery stores. In my experience, grocery stores have been more than happy to give away boxes. Simply call or ask while you're there to see what their policy is and then pick them up as you're ready. No need to pay for boxes that you'll just end up tossing.

If you can swing it, hire movers. We always rented a moving truck until our last move, when we finally decided we just had too much bulky stuff to move all in one day. The movers we hired were incredible, and the entire process took about four hours! In my experience, a full move usually took at least 8-10 hours, and we were exhausted at the end of it. But with movers, our stuff arrived safely and quickly at the apartment and we spent our energy unpacking instead of lifting and moving. It's expensive, but for us it was worth it. (Even with our recent budgeting, we're making room for movers, especially because I'm pregnant and therefore unable to help.)

Try to overlap move-in and move-out by at least a few days. If you have to be out of your current place on the same day you get the keys to your new place, you add a lot of stress to the situation:

  • Making sure there are no problems actually getting the keys.
  • Having to clean (and possibly get an inspection) on your current place after all the moving is done.
  • Feeling like you have to do everything all in one day.
If you can overlap by even two days, you take some of the stress off. You can move one day and clean the next. This method can also help if you're not using movers; spreading the move itself out over two days provides a little wiggle room.

Use items you're planning to pack as cushion for fragile items. Instead of buying (and wasting) tons of packing paper or other cushioning materials, do your best to make use of sheets, towels, throw pillows, and other soft items. You have to pack them anyway, so why not?

Stay organized. Label every box as you pack it, and try to make sense of how you arrange each box. It may be tempting to throw in whatever fits, but that method can get frustrating when you are looking for something specific later (before you unpack completely). Similarly, be sure to think about items you'll need first at your new place, and make sure those are easy to access. 

Plan meals. It's so easy to skip this step, especially once the kitchen is packed up. But try to plan out and even make meals ahead of time. No matter how organized you are, moving day gets stressful, and hunger does not help ease that tension. Most important, eat breakfast (ideally a big one!). Then pack portable snacks like trail mix, whole fruit, and simple sandwiches that you can grab and eat throughout the day. Once you're in your new place, it may be easiest to just order in that night, but again be sure to plan ahead so it's not 10 pm before you realize you haven't had dinner.

Any tips for moving? We have one week left before the big day!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Italian Burgers

Thanks so much for the encouraging and helpful responses on Monday's budget post! I'm feeling super motivated to be creative with our budget right now, but we'll see how long that lasts.

Yesterday slipped away from me a bit once the evening rolled around. I spent the afternoon tidying up and washing the previous day's dishes (oops), and then I did a little prenatal yoga while Terry jogged around the nearby park. When he got back, we took a lovely, long walk through our neighborhood (and passed right by Matthew Broderick! There was eye contact. It was cool)--but didn't get home until almost 8 pm! That time change totally threw me off, I guess, because I thought it was much earlier when we left for our walk. Sunshine at 6:30 pm is so deceiving.

Anyway, thank goodness we had some delicious and easy leftovers for dinner, so it was on the table in about 12 minutes (and devoured about three minutes after that). Here's what we made on Monday:

- Ground beef (~20 ounces, because the package was from Costco) mixed with 1 sweet Italian sausage (casing removed), 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and some salt and pepper
- I mixed up the meat and spices, created 6 (!) patties, and grilled them on our indoor grill pan (we didn't think the smoky flavor of the BBQ would work with these flavors)
- To assemble: I topped the burgers with mozzarella cheese (on Monday we had leftover Burrata...yummmm), heated up some store-bought marinara sauce to slather all over, and used whole wheat toast as buns

I have a few thoughts about these "Italian burgers" that I think I should share with you: 1) They are incredibly tender, and the flavors are like a meatball sub; 2) I'm SO glad we used a little extra meat to make 6 patties instead of 4, because now we scored three meals instead of just two; and 3) While I recognize and appreciate the need for variety in our diets, I wish I could eat one of these every day for the next month.

To sum up: I was a fan.

So after those spectacular burgers, cleaning up, and our pregnancy exercises, I was beat! We staggered off to bed for another 5 am wake up call today.

And that's where we'll pick up this WIAW. The major "event" going on around our house this week is our new emphasis on a mindful budget, but we still stocked up with some awesome foods for the week. Here's what we had today:


1 fried egg (oh, yeah, I dropped a carton of eggs on yesterday and broke several, so we already only had two left this morning) + one piece of whole wheat toast with smashed avocado and cottage cheese and a sprinkling of pepper

My parents actually introduced me to this toast-avocado-cottage cheese combo, and I LOVE it. It's high in protein and hits three food groups, which is unusual for me for breakfast!

Snacks eaten throughout the morning:

Banana with sunflower seeds and two Mandarin oranges and more sunflower seeds


Terry found this recipe for tuna salad with white beans (we used Great Northern instead of cannellini), and I added it to a giant handful of mixed greens. Unfortunately, I forgot the lemon wedge AND the dressing that are supposed to go with the salad, but it still worked, and I added cucumbers (not pictured above). (By the way, this salad took me about 5 minutes to make yesterday morning! SO easy!)


Leftover burgers (described above). I used one piece of toast and made an open-faced sandwich, and we had some greens on the side mixed with oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper (the eggplant pictured was devoured Monday night with no leftovers). I'm just so sad those burgers are gone now.


Food Babe's almond butter brownies (I added 1 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the batter this time to give them more of a brownie color, and I actually love the flavor even more, so I recommend it!) with a glass of milk

And here's a new triceps and chest workout for your Wednesday enjoyment. I made it for Terry and completed a very toned-down pregnancy version (below) myself. As always, be sure to warm up properly before you get started! This one would be perfect to add on to a Tabata workout or other short, intense cardio.

  • The idea here is to complete each superset twice (the cable triceps pulldowns, cable chest press, and plank knee-to-elbows are the first superset, so do that twice through), then complete an exercise (dips or push ups, respectively) to fatigue (and only once). Then you're done!
  • It's short, so aim for moderately heavy weights to challenge yourself. The last few reps should feel difficult, but save your energy and good form for those fatigue sets.
My pregnancy version:

  • Completed three sets of each superset
  • No skullcrushers for me (since I can't lay flat on my back), so I did overhead tricep press instead
  • Omitted the core exercises
  • Skipped the fatigue sets
Be sure to check out the other WIAWs!

I'm hoping to get some extra sleep tonight since this time change has been killer. So with that, I'm off to bed!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Better Budget

I'll admit that Terry and I aren't exactly experts in budgeting. We have both been employed full-time for about five years, and we lived comfortably without needing to make major sacrifices. We even managed several pretty spectacular vacations, like Europe (three times!), Turks & Caicos, and a few cruises. We eat out now and then (we choose to eat in most of the time for health reasons), we enjoy fun outings around LA, and we try to give generously to our alma mater and our friends and family for birthdays and other celebrations.

But this year we hit a triple-whammy budget-wise: I left my job in anticipation of a relocation for Terry's job, which never happened; we got pregnant; and, because of said pregnancy, we are now moving to a slightly more expensive apartment. While these changes were all--thankfully--made by choice, we still feel the need to create a more mindful budget so that we can continue to live comfortably and so that we can provide a financially stable future for our little one.

The thing is, though, once we started looking for ways to cut back on our expenses, we realized we don't have as many easy cutbacks as we thought. The good news: We're already doing a lot to save and spend in a responsible way! The not-so-great news: Nothing we do will make drastic changes to our budget. So we looked at several articles for budgeting suggestions and found that we already follow a lot of the ideas. For example:

  • We already don't belong to a gym and spend virtually nothing on fitness.
  • We rarely eat out and cook almost everything from scratch.
  • While we do own two cars (and therefore pay insurance, registration, etc. for two cars), we carpool to work almost every day we can.
  • We don't drink coffee and almost never go to coffee shops like Starbucks (it's funny how often this one is suggested as "an easy way to save $4 a day!").
Recent changes we've made to avoid needless spending (we had to be creative! A lot of these suggestions weren't on any of the lists we read, but we have found them to make a slight difference):
  • Alcohol. Terry loves craft beers, so this one is a major sacrifice for him, but he is such a champ that he doesn't seem to care much at all. We have a nice stock of liquor in the cabinet, and he'll fix himself a drink maybe once a week. We also canceled our wine club shipments, since Terry wouldn't open a bottle of wine just for himself while I'm pregnant. And of course, I don't drink at all right now so that saves some money too!
  • Beauty. I got a manicure and pedicure in Vegas with my friend Amanda (actually very reasonably priced!), but otherwise I've skipped nail care, waxing, and hair coloring. Hair coloring isn't super safe during pregnancy anyway, and I've heard that breathing in the fumes at a nail salon isn't awesome, either, so I guess it's all for the best. This one isn't too much of a sacrifice for me, because I really don't look forward to these types of appointments (unless my sister-in-law Ashley is cutting my hair, which is just the greatest experience and you should all be jealous).
  • Clothes shopping. For a few months, I was on a shopping spree! Once my belly started to show, I had a blast buying new clothes. I think it was the most interested I've ever been in fashion. But since then, I've cut myself off and will make do with my awesome new wardrobe for the rest of the pregnancy. Luckily, a lot of those clothes also came from shopping with my mom (thanks, Mom!) and gift cards.

  • Diving. Terry loves diving, but it's a very expensive hobby. I'm hoping he'll be able to go at least one more time before the baby comes, but it does add up quickly: taking the ferry to Catalina, renting a tank, paying for a hotel room, and buying or maintaining equipment. Terry has again been more than willing to sacrifice, even though I hope he can find some opportunities to dive again soon.
  • Eating out. We really didn't eat out that much before, but now we're even more motivated to plan ahead, grocery shop, and make food at home. On the occasions we do eat out, we choose sensible restaurants that don't break the bank so we can enjoy instead of pinching pennies.

  • Eating in. Even eating in can get expensive, but there are ways to eat healthy and on a budget. I spent some time looking through Lisa's posts about 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget, where she fed her family of four on a tight budget for 100 days. She has some helpful ideas, like skipping meat (use cheaper sources of healthy proteins) and dessert (ha!). 
  • Entertainment. I mentioned this one, but we recently cut our cable. We just weren't using it, and it felt like a huge waste of money. Several people I know (or "know" in the case of fellow bloggers) said they've cut cable and experienced virtually no withdrawals, and I'd have to say the same! We did, however, subscribe to Hulu, and I've been watching some of my favorite shows there. We also have (for several years) only gone to movies using our free passes, which we earn from donating blood to our local blood bank. 
What we refuse to sacrifice (and are willing to work hard to keep in our budget):
  • A safe, comfortable home for ourselves and our baby. We must have looked at 25 apartments over the course of a month to find our new place, but it was worth the effort. We will have space to spread out, a safe location, and even a fireplace and mantle for our baby's first Christmas!
  • Gifts and celebrations for our friends and family. We have lots of exciting events for our friends and family this year--weddings, baby showers, birthdays--and we want to make sure we are able to participate and give as generously as possible. These special trips and gifts don't factor into our budgeting. And while it's certainly not necessary or expected that we spend a certain amount on our loved ones, I like to try to find the perfect gift without the self-inflicted pressure of spending a certain amount.
  • Our health--specifically our food quality. It took us several years to get where we are now in terms of healthy living, and I'm adamant that I don't want to take any steps backward to save a few bucks. We will continue to buy organic as much as possible and purchase brands that make good choices (non-GMO, for example).
  • Similarly, supporting brands we trust and respect, like The Honest Company, for all other needs. 
So today I went grocery shopping, and I experimented a little with budgeting. I think I normally do a decent job of keeping our purchases reasonable (buying only what we will use, avoiding impulse buys, etc.), but there's always room for improvement. For example, instead of only stopping at Trader Joe's, I also needed to go to Costco for some paper products, so I started there to see what I could cross off my list for food, too. I was able to buy a lot of produce and meat there instead of buying them for a higher price at Trader Joe's, and a lot of it will likely last us into next week.

Anyway, we're interested to see what these (admittedly minor) adjustments make in our budget, especially while I'm still in limbo between jobs. But even when I am working again, these habits will be great for saving, so it's good to get started now!

Any tips I'm missing? How do you establish and maintain your household budget? Any tips on the best ways to save on baby-related budget items?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Time Change Weekend

Hey there sports fans! Hope you had an awesome weekend. Mine was wonderful, especially today. I actually kept the camera tucked away for most of it, but here are some highlights.

On Friday, after work, my parents arrived at our apartment for dinner in. We kept it simple with homemade pizza (one was pesto with mozzarella and tomato; the other was marinara sauce, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, and sausage) and salad. My parents also both got to feel the baby kick! I'm glad our little one cooperated. 

Saturday morning, we met up fairly early for a hike out in Malibu. It was the same hike Terry and I did on Valentine's Day, and unfortunately the "waterfall" wasn't too much more exciting this time, but we still enjoyed the walk.

Next up, we went to The Apple Pan for lunch, as I mentioned we would. Since it's counter-seating only, I worried we would struggle with finding four stools together, but we had no problem and were in and out within about 20 minutes! Terry and Dad each had the Hickory burger, Mom and I split the Steak burger, we all had some fries, and Terry and I split a slice of banana cream pie. Amazing!

We spent a good amount of the afternoon hanging out by the pool (it was a HOT weekend in LA!), and I even swam a few laps. Then we walked over to a nearby mall to see if we could find a bridesmaid dress option for Jenn's wedding. She's letting us choose our own dresses, but given the circumstances--the fact that I'm currently six months pregnant and therefore can't try on any non-maternity clothes; the fact that I hope to be nursing and don't know how my body will change; the fact that I will want to take my time getting back to my normal body and therefore don't know how clothes will fit two months post-birth--makes the whole thing a bit complicated. Still, I'm looking whenever I get the chance, and hopefully I'll just fit when the time comes. 

Saturday night Terry and I took my parents to Westside Tavern, which I've written about before. We had to wait almost an hour, which made me feel bad, but they agreed it was worth it. That place is just so tasty!

Today we all agreed to sleep in. Dad was fighting a cold all weekend, and we needed some rest. When we finally did get together, it was for an early lunch at Terranea in Palos Verdes. We chose Nelson's, and it was an absolutely gorgeous day to eat outside!

My meal: turkey chopped salad

Terry and Dad's meals: BBQ pulled pork sandwich

Mom's meal (I was so proud): burger with Burrata

And look at the view!

And then...the big news for us: We signed a lease! After seeing almost 25 places, we finally found something suitable for the next year. We'll have more space in a quieter neighborhood, and we might even have less traffic. I really think this place will be awesome for us, and I am feeling much less anxious now that we have our home secured for the next year.

Terry and I finished up the weekend with our second birth class, some leftover pizza and salad for dinner, and quality time with our TV. It was a wonderful weekend. I know that 5 am alarm clock might feel miserable tomorrow, but I'm so relieved to have this whole living situation taken care of that I don't care!

Do you love or hate the time change? I think I love it. When we left our birth class and it was still light outside, I felt all sorts of excited.