Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Bad Decision Train

This is not a pity or a woe is me post. This is a "Now and Again in Life" post.

I've hit a point where their is nothing wrong, there is nothing to do, and there really is not much to worry about. When I hit these moments instead of embracing them and relaxing I usually try to find a project or I seek out problems to fix, usually where there is no problem.I love to be busy!

Over the course of October, I think I created my own problems so that when November rolled around I would have something to fix. October can be summed up in three words the BAD DECISION TRAIN. I even have a song and choo-choo train motions that go with the song! It is absolutely fabulous. Everytime I was about to or just finished making a irresponsible decision I turned to Nick and sang my song with the choo-choo motions. I think it made the decision even better :)
Now, let me put this quick caveat on this discussion- I don't regret a single decision I have made over the past month, but our bank account might feel a little different!

Everyone has different daily priorities in which they base day-to-day life decisions. At this moment and time, my priorities include: My Husband, Work, Finances, Fitness, and Food.  With all five areas chugging along why not spice it up a bit???

Husband- No complaints and celebrated our 4 year anniversary this past month :)
Work is awesome. Loving the job and my review last week was the best it could have been.

So now was the time to play with life and hop on the bad decision train!!

Fitness- Though I have kept up a decent workout routine, training for my half-marathon next weekend,  I have not seen the inside of the gym, in which I pay a membership, in 2 months. All my clothes are back to pre-workout tightness, oops!!

Food- Fast meals with no regard to calorie intake have been the norm for dinner and we have eaten out more times then I can count in October. We treated ourselves out to a fabulous dinner last week that was a five course experience all in itself :) We have gone out to brunch with friends, fed burger cravings after hikes, and indulged in pizza Fridays.

Financially- I have yet to balance the budget this month and lord knows it is going to be rough, but yet I am not dreading it and I know we over spent by a lot in October. Also, with the blog- yeah I haven't posted since October 8th, that's pretty lame on my part...

So, why do I get in these rut where I just say screw it and do whatever I want, even though I know I am making some irresponsible decisions?

Finances really wind me up pretty right, and now and again I just need to spin out!! It is irresponsible and financially detrimental. But now and again, sometimes making bad decisions really are the RIGHT decision.

This is not healthy, especially when in last four weeks. So my next step is to figure out how to integrate fun decisions into our budget, so every 6 months I don't hop back on the bad decision train without looking back.

November provides us with a clean slate and hopefully Nick and I can both get back on track. I am in the process of refocusing my priorities and trying to get back into some kind of routine that will allow for a better fitness and healthier food.

I'll let you know how it goes and please enjoy this month's review later in the week because we sure as heck enjoyed this past month!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Stuffed Pumpkin

Tis the season to cooked gourds :)

Nick will tell you that I am simply obsessed with all things squash at this time of the year. By the time we get through the Fall, if I even bring up an acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, or spaghetti squash I am banned from the kitchen :)

I finally found a recipe that fills my need for a dinner gourd and Nick's need to not feel gourd overload... The Stuffed Pumpkin!

1 3lb Pumpkin
1/4 lb of sourdough bread, cut in 1/2 in' blocks
1/4 lb of cheese (we use half cheddar and gruyere), cut into small 1/4 in' blocks
4 pieces of crispy bacon broken into small pieces
4 cloves of minced garlic
1/4 c of minced shallots
1 T of thyme
1/3 c Heavy Cream
Pinch of Nutmeg

Super simple recipe from Around my French Table by Dori Greenspan call a Stuffed Pumpkin with Everything Good 

I love how Dori writes her recipes in a story telling- Julia Child format, so it is worth clicking on the link above for her full recipe, but the quick run through is below:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cut lid of pumpkin and clean out- like a jack-o-lantern
Mix all other items, except cream and nutmeg, in a bowl
STUFF your pumpkin!! Keep squishing it in :)
Mix nutmeg and cream together and pour inside the pumpkin

Attempt to place your lid on the pumpkin!

Cook 2 hours, you can remove the cap with 20 mins left to help liquid evaporate

It is AMAZING :) Though it does take two hours to cook, it is a great plan ahead meal and can be served when ready. I am thinking pre-dinner party with friends or a lazy Saturday :)

Financially, depending on the cheese you choose to use, this can be a cheap or a treat meal! We did a bit of a more expensive cheese so this meal cost us around $14. It provided us 4 portions, so one dinner and one round of lunches- appx $3.50 a meal. Not too shabby for an amazing dinner :)

Happy Fall and enjoy your gourds :)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

AirBnB- The Good and Bad

I hope anyone reading this blog who is traveling somewhere looks into using AirBnB for accommodations. The AirBnB model is something I enjoyed when Nick and I were traveling in Belgium and now, as a host, I truly see the hard work many people put into providing these accommodations at a low rate. If you missed last week's post, check out our Financial AirBnB Breakdown.

When breaking down our AirBnB experience, Nick and I came up with the good, the bad, and- because this is the frugal optimist and not some negative Nancy blog- the fabulous.


·         Hearing about our visitors experiences. We got some really nice thank you letters, and one family even left us a picture of them at the Washington Monument. Nick and I took a hand's off approach with the AirBnB and gave people their space, but you could tell that some guests would have preferred to meet us, so in the future perhaps when we are in town we will try to swing by and say hello. 
·         New sheets, towels, and a lamp shade. In order to host we needed to get a few new things to spruce up the place. It was nice to come home to a few new towels and an extra set of bed sheets. These items even come in handy when we have family visiting. It was a great excuse to add a few new pieces to our linen closet and get a much needed lamp shade.
·         AirBnB offers a free photography service to hosts. They hire a local photographer to come to your apartment or home and take photos. These photos are then added to your host page and make your space look incredible. Nick and I are pretty sure this service was one of the main reasons we had success booking so many reservations!  

·         On Vacation, you're not fully on vacation. Nick and I had to keep our phones with us just in case there was a problem. We got called twice by the front desk to go pick-up delivered food from the lobby. We quickly realized that we needed to add a note in the welcome letter indicating the food delivery policy for our building :) 
·         Cleaning the Apartment. This makes having a BnB a job!! By the end of the process, Nick and I were not interested in having any one-night guest, and two nights was pushing it. Our favorite guests were those with 4-5 nights :) Cleaning an apartment you are not using gets to be tedious and frustrating.
·         Use of items, not met for Guest use. Nick and I unfortunately left out some wine and expensive beers during our most recent AirBnB stay and our guests decided that met it was for them. So, we did lose a few good beers, so that sucked, but it is only stuff.  This experience has put us on high alert to make sure anything we don't want touched is put away. 


·         Making money on an apartment not in use. This was a great way to use a space that we were already paying for and make it work for us. We have also learned that the rent we paid for the apartment during the days it was used can be a tax deduction. I am not sure how this works yet, but I will let you know!
·         A Clean Apartment!! Even when we came back to the house, most guests left the apartment in great shape. We only had two guests that left it a bit of a mess, but at the end of a month and a half our apartment was still just as clean as we had left it and it felt great to come home to a clean clutter free environment. 
·         An opportunity to travel and usually close to free lodging. It has made weekend getaways not only doable now, but enjoyable. We have gone out of town a few times and been able to use the money made on AirBnB to cover our AirBnB stay.

That sums up our experience with AirBnB in a tiny nut shell. We have kept our apartment up on the market and added days of availability as opportunities to duck out of town come up. We have been very fortunate to book almost all of our available days!

To all those looking to travel check-out AirBnB for a more frugal accommodation option, to all the AirBnB hosts reading- happy cleaning :) 

**Sorry for the lack of photos **