Monday, December 19, 2011

Life Update: December 2011

Oh, my stars. I think today's weather is the yuckiest I've witnessed since I moved down here. There's a small monsoon taking place right outside my window, in case you're wondering. This picture really does it no justice:

But that's the view from our balcony. Thank goodness I finished running errands before the real nastiness began! Ick.

I realized I haven't done a blog post over just our daily lives in a while. Mostly, I don't write about the daily stuff because, well, we're boring. hah. But with the weather as gross as it is and a long list of projects waiting to be completed, now seems like the perfect procrastination tool opportunity to write!

Here are a few things we've/I've been up to lately:

1. We've been saving money.

I discovered Tom Thumb has a clearance aisle full of dented and "damaged" goods. I seriously only thought dented cans were discounted in the movie world (Big Daddy, anyone??), but I'm OK with the fact that I was wrong. (I mean, I don't make a habit of it, so I'll let it slide this time.) I had to go into Tom Thumb for some last-minute ingredients for a dish I was supposed to take to a party (go ahead and gasp that someone would want one of my dishes. You can continue reading after you put your jaw back in place), and I noticed the clearance aisle. I normally do my grocery shopping at a popular one-stop-shop retailer who shall not be named because I hate love hate love hate them, but Tom Thumb was the closet and I was in a hurry. favorite store. There are approximately 6 grocery stores within a 15-minute drive from my house, and I consider myself fairly familiar with 5/6 of them. Apparently, I had been missing the clearance aisle at Tom Thumb, though, because this was new to me. It just so happened that they had about 5 cans of green beans for 50%, so I snatched them up. We eat green beans all the time... they're zero Weight Watchers points (if you're the point-countin' type), they're veggies, they're delish...what more is there to say?! I also snagged two bags of Hamburger Helper for like, a dollar. (For those of you that are concerned, I checked for expiration dates, holes, anything weird, and general ickiness before buying. They were as clean as a whistle and as cheap as...well, a dollar. hah. No worries!) So Tom Thumb became my new favorite grocery store. (This proves what I've been saying for years: the way to my heart is through my tummy! ...But not through my wallet.)

2. We've been planning. After Thanksgiving, J and I sat down and did some meal planning for the next 6 weeks. It took about 10-15 minutes to decide on dinner dishes for the next month and a half. I mean, seriously, if you don't meal plan, you are missing out! I personally hate to cook (for several reasons, which you can read about in this post called "A Visit From the Burn Fairy"), but meal planning has made cooking 2395305 times easier and less-stressful for me. I purchased a customized meal planning calendar from iHeart Organizing's Etsy Shop, but there are a ton of free meal planning tools available online. I liked Jenn's use of color and, I like personalized stuff!  I never get tired of seeing my new last name! :) In any case, we planned all the dinners, and then I sat down and itemized a grocery list. The grocery list is what takes the longest (in my opinion), but even so, I was done in under an hour. I organize my big shopping trip lists by sections so I'm able to get all my bread products at once, all my canned products at once, etc. It's much easier (and faster!) than haphazardly going through the store. ...In any case, I got all the ingredients in one shopping trip, and it didn't even take up one month's budget money (we dabble in the Dave Ramsey envelope budget method)! I felt like happy-dancing right out of the store. We have extras in the freezer in case we have company, but those extras can also be applied to our next round of planning. When I cook dinner in the evening, I just look ahead to see what's for dinner the next night. While tonight's dinner is cooking, I take the ingredients I'll need for tomorrow's dinner out of the freezer and put it in the 'fridge to thaw. There's no hassle to rush around and find something that's thawed enough to cook, and there's no stress to try to figure out what the heck we're eating that night. I'm telling you: meal planning is GENIUS!

3. We've been lazy. Um, two weekends ago, we literally left the house once. It. Was. AWESOME. Below is a picture of the moments right before the one time we left the house... Obviously, we were concerned about our looks. (For those that are wondering, I only took this MySpace-esque bathroom shot because J requested it. He thought he looked cool in his Bears helmet. I let him wear it when we're in the house, but he has to take it off before any door to the outside world opens. *shrug* Pick your battles, wives!)

4. I've been crafting. OK, so I'm not entirely sure that this dinky little project can really be considered "crafting," but it's my blog, so I call it what I want! :)

I found this craft on -- what else? -- Pinterest. They're paint chips that I cut and stuck together in the shape of a Christmas tree. I only made two because I felt a little weird taking paint chips (yes, they're free, but I didn't buy anything while I was in the store, so I felt like I really wasn't entitled to the free products!). Once we move this summer and I have to buy a ton of paint, I might stock up on a few more green and brown chips for Christmas '12. I saw this in a picture somewhere, so I can't take credit for this idea, but my plan is to punch a hole in the top of the tree, affix some red ribbon, and call it a gift tag!

5. I've been organizing.  I decided our house was much too disorganized, so I've made it my personal mission to fix it. This mission is a mixture of 1 part Pinterest + 1 part OCD-tendencies + 1 part new laminator. (If this was Twitter, I might hashtag this section #YouKnowYoureATeacherWhen....) I'm slowly moving through the process and keeping a record for you guys (you lucky reader(s), you!). The first post is called "Operation: Organize {Part 1}."

6. We've been Christmas-y. We've gotten several Christmas cards already -- thanks to those of you that sent us one! -- and they're hanging nicely around our kitchen bar. After the season is over, I plan to punch a hole in each one, loop them all into a ring of chicken wire, and create a "Christmas Cards, 2011" mini-memory book. I can't take credit for that idea, either. My friend Allison (who runs Our Vintage Love) posted about it somewhere (blog? Facebook? Who knows!) and I loved it enough to borrow it.

This past Friday, we went to J's brother's house for a Texas Christmas. Our niece was the cutest thing that night. Every gift was "SO COOL" to her, and it made me happy to see how happy she was! Ah, to be a kid again!

On Saturday, we went to J's work Christmas party. It was hosted at Trail Dust Steakhouse -- yum! Afterward, we went over to Snuffers to meet some friends. While we were waiting, I tried to take a picture to send my mom, but I just didn't think it looked good enough (sorry, Mom!):

My sweet friend, M, said my hair looked too good not to have a picture of it (see why I love her?!), so she took another one:

Ignore my squinty eyes. The stupid flash went off + I have naturally squinty eyes anyway, so...this is what we get. Notice the red necklace I'm wearing -- J surprised me with it on Saturday afternoon! :) I curled my hair with the curling iron, and, for once, it looked almost perfect. Not too hair-sprayed, not too was like Goldilocks: juuuuust right. But you can't really see it in this picture, either. Oh, well; that's an excuse to do it again in the near future. :) Anyway, take THAT, [ex-] hair idiot!

Also on the Christmas-y front: we took a drive through the town square, which was all lit up with Christmas lights. I don't know who is paid to hang up all those Christmas lights, but he/she surely does not get enough! Here's a verrrry small portion of it:

I suppose that's all for now. If you're still reading, thanks! You probably deserve some sort of nice reader-prize, but I'm too poor right now to offer anything, so I'll give you a smile. :)

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