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More new meals and eat-it-all progress

August 2nd, 2017 at 04:31 pm

We tried the vegetable soup last night. I didn't follow the recipe exactly, just used what veggies and fresh herbs we had, but it turned out pretty great. It's vegetable soup, not something anyone in the house would be excited to do very often, but it tasted good and served its purpose of getting rid of a bunch of veggies. I cooked some macaroni to drop into the soup. The kids weren't crazy about it but managed to finish so they could have sweet treats. Smile So that's 35 meals tried, 15 to go!

Last night I prepped some various pickly things for tonight's dinner: I pickled some beets in malt vinegar, salt and sugar; marinated all but 3 of our cucumbers in white vinegar, salt and sugar, and sliced up 3 jalapenos and put those in apple cider vinegar with salt and sugar. This will go with black eyed peas, white rice, green beans and red cabbage slaw. We're having the neighbors up and possibly another friend over so hopefully we can eat down this food. If not I'm determined to finish it as leftovers! We do have two big containers of the veggie soup from last night too, but some of this will keep into next week so I should be able to eat it for lunches.

Anyway, once I cook tonight's green beans the only old veggies left in our fridge will be 3.5 cucumbers and about 5 stalks of celery. Those are things I can get the kids to snack on.

But today after work I pick up our next CSA box, so we start over again! However, this time I don't ALSO have the remains of two parties, so using up this batch will be a walk in the park, more like what we're used to with CSA season.

We'll have to spend a bit more on groceries this week than last. We almost got away with spending just $9.05 on groceries! But a recurring razorblade order went through for $16.38, taking us to $25.43. A tiny bit more than the $23 I was hoping for, but not bad at all! I get to put $118.37 of grocery money toward the shared spending deficit. It's a drop in the bucket, but I'm proud of us for pulling it off. This coming week we're starting with $170, so maybe we'll be able to put a similar amount toward shared spending.

A couple unexpected shared-spending things came up: The girls are going away for their first non-daycare sleepover tomorrow, so I need to get them sleeping bags. And I need to buy note cards to write some notes for my alma mater. So the grocery push didn't reduce the deficit much, but at least it's holding a bigger deficit at bay. Some kind of progress anyway!

August 2017 debt payments

August 2nd, 2017 at 04:17 pm

All our mortgage payments hit:
US: $701 to principal
UK1: $181
UK2: $39
UK3: $40

All told that's $961 paid toward debt for August.

I looked at next month's mortgage payment and it doesn't seem to be going up, even though our homeowner insurance went up by over $50 per month. Maybe they'll do another escrow shortage thing the next time they assess it. I'm not going to ask them about it anymore, because I'm pretty sure if they assess now, they'll stretch our current shortage over another 12 months plus add on to it. Let's get this shortage made up (should be over in December) and see what the next one looks like.

Current household debt now stands at:
US Mortgage $394,671
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $34,299
UK Mortgage 2 $7,230
UK Mortgage 3 $7,614

TOTAL DEBT $452,814

Retirement goal progress

August 1st, 2017 at 05:46 am

Goal: $494,743 by 2019

As a reminder, this is just an incremental goal along the way to 8x income by retirement. This mini-goal aims to get us to a milestone by the time I turn 45 and AS turns 40.

The milestone (which changes whenever our salaries change) is to get me to 3x my current salary, which is now $68,291, so $204,873; NT to 3x his, which is now $62,100, so $186,300; and AS to 2x hers, which in 2016 was $51,785, so $103,570)

Current balance: $344,108

June 2017 balance: $335,025

Progress: $9,083

Man, if we had progress like this every month, we'd be on track to hit our goal! (At least it looks like we'll pass our 2017 mini-mini-goal of $350K before the end of the year!)

To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 19 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $150,635 -- $7,928 per month -- to reach it.

More eat-it-all progress

August 1st, 2017 at 05:19 am

Phew! I've been busy tonight, cooking vegetable soup for tomorrow and black eyed peas for Wednesday. Both have to simmer for another half hour at least, so I've got to stay awake. Smile I'll wait to count these two meals toward the new-meals goal until we actually serve and eat them.

I've got our use-it-up list down to 15 items. A few of them are frozen or could be if we don't use them soon. The last remaining veggies I have plans for: a sugar-vinegar cucumber salad, pickled beets and pickled jalapenos for Wednesday's meal; cucumbers and celery sticks and grapes for the kids to snack on this week. Oh and we've got one tomato from the garden that I'll probably just cut up and share with the kids at some point.

Other than that, it's mostly things that can wait until next week if necessary. We did throw out a few pieces of watermelon, a bit of chopped cilantro and some green onions tonight. So there has been some food waste this week, but not nearly as much as if I hadn't been tracking usage and planning meals. At least we have composting so it's not like the tossed food isn't serving any purpose.

When we get our CSA Wednesday, we can start planning the following week. We've run through some staples but still have a few things, so I'll see what we can manage to not replenish until the week after next. My hope would be to use some of the grocery money toward our shared spending deficit. Even though it's just a drop in the bucket, it would help, and it's just a good exercise to see what we can do when we need to get creative and thrifty with grocery spending.

New meal, AS gone again and the eat-it-all goal

July 31st, 2017 at 09:56 pm

Sunday for lunch, we had the spicy Thai carrot soup I made the other day. We had it while the kids were at a playdate because I wasn't even going to try to get them to eat it. Smile I liked it, NT didn't have much to say one way or the other, but to my surprise, AS -- who doesn't really like soup, doesn't like spice and has no strong opinion about carrots -- loved it and had two big bowls! 34 new meals down, 16 to go!

AS headed out this morning for another trip. This one is 10 days, but it doesn't come with the stress of worrying about a family member's health, or AS's state of mind -- it's just a work trip -- and it has a definite return date, so that's a lot less stress on my end too.

On the eat-it-all goal, we used some stuff up this weekend (many veggies and seitan and satay sauce -- in a stir-fry and a slaw and by snacking) and threw out a bit (a handful of basil that was too limp to save). Tonight I'm going to make a soup for Tuesday using as many veggies as I can--I think I can use everything not slated for another meal, except cucumbers (which I'm hoping the kids will eat up as snacks, but I may use some to make a cucumber salad...) and beets (which would turn the whole soup purple ... maybe I'll pickle them like I did last time I had beets...). I'll leave aside some garlic and onion and one carrot for other meals we have planned, but other than that I want to try and use everything in the soup. (It'll be very green-bean heavy, but oh well!) Then hopefully we'll have a clean slate in terms of fresh veggies, just in time for our next CSA delivery Wednesday!

Grocery spending so far

July 29th, 2017 at 08:33 pm

So our goal was $23 for groceries. NT stopped at one store Friday and picked up coffee (came to $6.56 instead of the $10 budgeted) and milk ($2.49 instead of $3). Total: $9.05

NT decided he could do without granola this week and found some probiotic in the fridge so didn't need Activia. And it looks like he's making do with iced tea instead of lemonade. So, this may be our only grocery spending this week!

We're running out of some staples/supplies, so I've been adding them to the list. But if it seems like we don't NEED them next week, I may delay buying them as long as possible.

We've crossed 21 things off our list of stuff to use up, and only two were because we had to throw stuff away. (And it wasn't much that got tossed -- a slice of cake and maybe 5 leaves of lettuce.) We still have 30 things on our list but we've been working our way through some of them, just haven't finished them off completely.

The kids have gotten into the spirit of it and now we've got a name: Team Eat-It-All. Big Grin

A $23 weekly grocery shop: Can we do it?

July 28th, 2017 at 02:45 am

I tried to make a completely shopping-free menu for the coming week! I did for dinners, but there were a few staples it would be unpleasant to live without.

Here's the menu:
Friday: tofu meat/cheese sammiches, veggies, fruit, chips
Saturday lunch: grilled cheese sammiches, chips & fruit/veggies
Saturday dinner: seitan, potatoes, snap peas, green beans, bell peppers in satay sauce over rice
Sunday lunch: Thai carrot soup & bread or rice
Sunday dinner: veggie burgers/dogs, red cabbage slaw
Monday: spaghetti & red sauce, fresh veggies
Tuesday: black-eyed peas, rice, red cabbage slaw, corn
Wednesday: neighbors cook
Thursday: garlic toss pasta w/CSA veggies

And here's our grocery list:
lemonade $2.00
coffee $10.00
1/2 gallon milk $3.00
granola $3.00
Activia $5.00

Total: $23.00

As a point of reference, our grocery budget is $170 per week in the summer, but we usually try to go under that (and sometimes go over). We went over budget last week, so we have $143.80 left. If we manage to keep our grocery spending to $23, that will give us $120 to put toward the shared spending deficit.

Wish us luck! Smile

Lots of expenses

July 27th, 2017 at 04:01 pm

One of the reasons I'm dead set on eating through the fridge is so we can hopefully skip grocery shopping for at least a week (and do minimal shopping the following one). Our shared spending is now deeply in the red.

We have plenty of time to make it up before we'd have to pull from savings, so I'm still hoping we can pull it off. I think we will.

Recent expenses that have thrown us out of whack:
- It started in June with a $150 medical bill and an outdoor spigot that needed fixing, $625
- Then came AS's additional trip after the planned one--between her necessary spending and my and NT's extra spending due to routine being thrown off, maybe $2000?
- The two parties, about $425 for food and beverages
- Our anniversary dinner, an absolutely incredible experience that came to $415 plus Lyft rides to and from
- Spending for the August trip to Va.--I was thinking about trying to bunk with family and borrow a car from them, but decided it was worth the expense to save the hassle and get a hotel and rental car. About $1500--and we'll have food, entertainment and gas expenses while we're there.

All things considered, the fact that we're "only" $3200 in the hole isn't too bad. Without the unexpected medical, repair and travel costs we'd be almost breaking even. And I've been still putting a third of AS's net income into savings for renovations.

AS has been booking work steadily since she came back from her travels. She's traveling again for 10 days starting Monday, but it's a work thing where she expects a lot of downtime, so she's been booking jobs that she can work while she's there. She's just agreed to another job that may be small or big--we're waiting to hear how much time it is and what it pays (but it's with a place that's always generous, so she agreed to it either way).

So without that, which could be anywhere from a couple hundred to a few thousand, and another place that's probably going to give her $1000 job soon, she's already got nearly $5K of work booked. With these other two factored in it could be closer to $7500. I always take off 36% for taxes and retirement, which would leave us with about $4800. If I put a third of that into savings, that leaves $3200--exactly what we need to make up the deficit!

We don't have a ton of other expenses coming up that aren't budgeted for.
- School supplies and clothes will be a couple hundred, probably, now that both kids are going.
- Vacation spending in Va. will add up but I don't think it'll be outrageous.
- State Fair has already been budgeted for, thank goodness--we like to go a couple times and sample a ton of food.
- And NT's spending while in the UK will come out of UK savings (which is our EF, but he won't use it all and we'll replenish easily enough with rental income).

If we can avoid too much grocery spending for the next couple weeks, we can apply that budget to the deficit. Plus I have a small ($500 or so) budget surplus in September that can help offset it too. And of course AS will continue to book more work.

So, it'll be a bit of a slog, but I feel good about being able to eventually make it up without withdrawing from or slowing contributions to our savings!

Trucking on using up food; new meals goal

July 27th, 2017 at 05:52 am

I took Carol's advice and made a big list of perishables, and I've become addicted to crossing things off it! We've been winging it with meals, but making sure that we eat something from the list every time.

Tonight I made our first organized meal in about a week: roasted veggies and vegan brats tossed in spices and mixed with pasta. It went over pretty well and, more importantly, used quite a few veggies! 33 down, 17 to go on the new meals goal!

Tonight I stayed up late getting some cooking done. I made the chard, kale and collards we have from our garden and the CSA into chips (AS and I ate some of them but there are plenty for low-cal snacking). I also turned the Chinese eggplant as well as a bit of the garlic, parsley and cherry tomatoes into baba ganouj for a mini-potluck tomorrow at work, and I'll take the gluten-free crackers that someone brought to my Sunday BBQ.

Then I made a Thai carrot soup using up 2 lbs. of the many many carrots that had somehow accumulated in our fridge. We still have probably another pound and a half left! It also used one of the onions and some garlic. Hopefully we'll be able to eat it for lunches or something.

We took in a whole new load of veggies today thanks to our CSA, but I added them to the list and intend to keep going. With fewer events planned I think we can go back to the menu plan to some extent, though there are a fair number of social things coming up so it might be a quick and random meals week. But with our list, we should be able to avoid food waste and hopefully not have to get many groceries.

It's been fun, but weird, to not have a meal plan and to have such a crazy abundance of veggies! (Click image to see it right side up.)

New meals goal and other ramblings

July 23rd, 2017 at 02:49 am

We are halfway through our crazy week, and AS and I decided to skip the fireworks tonight. The kids didn't even know they were happening; I must have sensed I might not be in the mood, so I didn't tell them our plans. NT's work decided not to host a viewing party this year, and the thought of finding a place out in the crowds was uuuggghhh. NT is at a show tonight so it would've been me and AS. And they don't start till 10 so the kids would have another late night. They've had two recently (last Friday for a sleepover and Wednesday for the Torchlight parade), so we figure that's enough for now. So AS and I are having a quiet night at home and I must say it feels like a FABulous decision. Smile

So our crazy week started Wednesday. The pre-parade kids' festival was awesome (SL had her first pony ride!). I spent less than $20 for game tickets and snacks. The parade was great; the kids were really into the lights and the fancy pageant floats and the music. We saw dark clouds gathering and left a few minutes before the end. Had to walk a ways to get a bus because they'd been diverted for the parade. Got the bus and the heavens opened while we were on it. So we only had to endure a one-block mad dash in the rain, and AS had thought to bring raincoats for the kids, so it wasn't too bad. But it was almost 11pm, so a late night for them!

Oh, and AS brought our dinner: pizza pockets made with Pillsbury crescent dough. They were yummy and we'd definitely have them again! So that's 32 meals tried, 18 to go.

Thursday my work party was tons of fun. Lawn bowling, talking to people about stuff other than whatever we're working on, delicious drinks and OK snacks. Oh, and the morning of that day, I decided to finally broach the subject with my boss of wanting some kind of advancement in my career! She seemed on board though she's newish and doesn't know how that all works; we'll be talking to HER boss (who used to be my boss and is wonderful) soon, I hope. So fingers crossed! I had a great time chatting with him at the party (I didn't bring up the promotion thing), and he opened up and showed me photos of a baby he recently fathered for some friends of his, a lesbian couple. So sweet!

Friday our home party was wonderful. About 15 to 20 people as I'd predicted, but spread out (some early attendees left just as others were coming) so it always felt small and mellow. Which is actually what we were in the mood for vs. a loud party, so we had a great time. Tried several new recipes, but none of them were a meal so I won't count any. But we did strawberry-honey-lime-chili popsicles, a lemon basil olive oil cake, a vegan creamy-cheesy buffalo "chicken" (jackfruit) dip, and pea-mushroom-garbanzo flour fritters. Oh, and two punches: one was ginger-rum-tea-lemon and the other was lemon-vodka-basil-cucumber. Everything went over really well. I had the kids make fruit skewers and it kept them busy as well as provided another snack for guests! Smile

I stayed up until about 3am and drank quite a bit, so needless to say I was a bit slow-moving today. I did a grocery order for tomorrow's BBQ, did a bunch of dishes and walked the kids to the library and then to a coffee shop. And that was about it!

Tomorrow is the alumni BBQ event. I'm not expecting a big turnout but I bought enough food in case every RSVP actually does show up. I'm just going to try and relax and have fun even if there's a poor showing.

Monday I'm still planning on seeing the country music act in the park but I no longer have to entertain a client beforehand, so that's good. She's coming in two weeks, when my schedule isn't quite so busy.

Tuesday is my and AS's 20-year dating anniversary, and I got reservations at a very in-demand restaurant. I confirmed they would be able to accommodate a vegan even though there's nothing vegan on the menu. Sometimes those are the best meals, when the chef gets creative just for you!

Nothing on Wednesday, but the following weeks are pretty eventful too: AS has a happy hour Thursday, we have playdates with different families on Friday, Sunday and possibly Saturday too. Then AS and I have a concert Sunday night (the 30th), and the very next day she leaves for Tahoe for 10 days! She gets back in early August and is home for 2 days before we leave for Va.! Then it's a couple weeks of school starts (SL starts kindergarten!), Labor day weekend, and State Fair (which is an all-day event that we like to do twice). A few uneventful days after all that, then NT heads to England for 11 days in September.

Whew! Anyway, back to this current week.

In light of the crazy schedule, I did something we probably haven't done in over 10 years (except when we're on vacation): We didn't plan a meals menu! We didn't even come up with potential meals. I made sure we had rice and pasta and bread and canned tomatoes on hand, and we have tons of CSA veggies plus extras we bought for Friday's and Sunday's parties. It's a lot of veggies so I hope we can get through them all without a plan and without letting any spoil!

Spending for the two parties was pretty high: Nearly $300 for the Friday party and $122 for the Sunday one. We did stock up on booze and will have quite a few leftovers. It would be lovely if we could eat through our pantry for a week or two and contribute our grocery budget to mitigating our shared spending budget, but we'll have to see how it goes! At least the second amount counts as a charitable contribution on my tax return.

So our shared spending deficit is pretty dismal now. I see several factors that are going to make it a while before we're back in the black:

- Our anniversary dinner Tuesday. (I do have some money set aside for it, but I'm expecting to exceed that.)

- Our vacation to Va. in August to visit family, which I've saved zero for and haven't even factored in a rental car expense or hotels. (We might be able to get away with borrowing a car from family and crashing at their houses, but I was hoping to get our own car and at least a couple nights at a hotel because too much sharing with family can get exhausting. We'll see what I feel like in a week or so.)

Things that don't seem too bad:

- NT's trip to England in September. A) he'll be spending time with family and at a wedding, so his expenses shouldn't be too bad. B) we'll just have him take from the UK savings account, which is our EF. It will replenish automatically with rental income, so it's OK if he uses some of it. So that won't affect our shared spending.

- AS's trip to Tahoe in August. All expenses will be paid and/or reimbursed by the college that's bringing her out there, so that won't affect our shared spending either.

Things that may not be a go:

- My niece's wedding in October. I'm just not sure the budget or the paid-vacation amounts I have left will accommodate it.

- A warm weather vacation after Christmas or after New Year. This is an idle idea that's come up a time or two with NT and with the kids. (Can't remember if AS has been part of those chats.) It would be awesome but it will really depend on how we make up our shared spending deficit once the anniversary dinner and Va. trip are done and fully accounted for.

OK, I think I've rambled enough!

Biggest CC discrepancy ever

July 19th, 2017 at 03:27 pm

So I was suspecting that my tracking of CC spending would be off this month. It usually is on months where there's a lot of spending -- and if it's a couple bucks I just figure my finger slipped on the calculator at some point during the month, and I just add or subtract the amount of the discrepancy to/from the shared spending budget.

And with this being the CC statement that would house the spending during AS's stay with her mom, I knew there was more room than usual for error.

I didn't expect a $185 discrepancy!

I downloaded the transactions to Excel and compared against my manual tracking of CC spending and found a full NINE transactions unaccounted for in my budget tracking. I added them up and they didn't match the discrepancy--off by about $18--so I probably made a calculator error or two on top of missing all those purchases. Jeez!

Three of them were personal expenditures by me and NT while AS was out of town, and the rest could be chalked up to shared spending (hardware, drugstore, more spending by AS while in Va.). This takes our shared spending deficit over a thousand. Dang!

We won't likely see another time period like that soon, where there was stress and disruption of routine on top of tons of spending. So I hope that's the biggest discrepancy I ever have to come to terms with.

But just in case, I should probably come up with a more idiot-proof way of tracking CC spending during the month. Hmm, maybe there's something I can do with a separate spreadsheet tab ...

31 down, 19 to go!

July 19th, 2017 at 02:24 am

New meals, that is.

Tonight I tried a new recipe to use up more CSA beets: beet burgers! They also had lentils and brown rice in them. Also onion, garlic, thyme, fennel, mustard powder and breadcrumbs.

They turned out really well! All the adults liked them, and the kids tolerated them (mainly because I made tiny ones for them molded into custom shapes Smile ).

I attempted a new room-temperature pickling recipe for some cucumbers and it ... did not go well. I had to toss two cucumbers' worth of yucky pickles. Frown

Still, at least the beet burgers were a success! We had them with traditional fixin's and fries.

I had an exciting discovery the other day: Hellman's makes a vegan mayo now! I may switch to them from my favorite vegan mayo. Theirs is pretty good, and cheaper.

Increase in UK fund value

July 17th, 2017 at 03:54 pm

This is partly a note to myself so I make sure to change it on my next net worth update! One of NT's retirement accounts (the one I call FL) sent its annual report, and it has increased from 5534 pounds in value to 6462. Not bad for such a small fund!

One of his three pensions also notified us that it was being transferred to a different company. As it happens, that company holds one of our other pensions. So that reduces the number of companies we have funds with to two. This should make it easier to combine the three into one, which is something NT and I keep meaning to do.

Crazy week coming up!

July 16th, 2017 at 08:07 pm

We've spent the past week sort of dazed and getting back into the rhythm of our regular life now that AS is back home. Wednesday we went to the annual ice cream social at our closest park, and Friday-Saturday we had two kids over for a slumber party. (We invited four but it was kind of a relief that only two could make it!)

Our shared spending is almost a thousand bucks in the red. It's more annoying than anything; we have over $10K in the renovation fund so could pull from that if necessary, but I like to pretend that money isn't there and see if we can make up the deficit with money coming in. Between AS's unplanned extra days in Va. and having two unused plane tickets (she had to buy a third, much more expensive one when it was finally time to get home), and all of us spending a bit more on eating out than usual as a result of our routine being off, plus just the higher spending of summer fun, AS's freelance checks haven't been able to keep up. She booked some new work already though, and still has some checks expected from work she did before her travels. So I think it'll even out.

But first it might get worse, if those checks don't come soon. I looked at the calendar and realized I have quite the week coming up!

This Wednesday there's a parade we like to go to if we can, the Torchlight Parade. There are lots of pageant floats from small towns and (as expected) lots of torches. That shouldn't cost us much at least; I've asked AS to make portable pizza pockets for dinner and meet us there. There's a small kids' fair before the parade that I might take the girls too, but the games and snacks are usually pretty cheap.

Thursday is my work's outing, which is going to be lawn bowling at a nearby British-themed pub. That one won't cost me anything, and I get to leave work early to go to it!

Friday we're having a party at our place; we invited everyone we know and have about 35 yes and maybe RSVPs, which makes me think 15-20 people will come. So we'll need to make sure we get enough food and drink for everyone.

Saturday night is the Aquatennial fireworks display, which is usually better than the 4th of July fireworks in Minneapolis! We used to watch them from NT's work's balcony on the 33rd floor; they moved a few blocks away and are now on the 50th floor. I'm hoping we can watch them from there, although I think NT is at a show that night. But we know enough of his work friends that I think we can still go and not have it be weird.

Then next Sunday, I'm hosting a BBQ lunch at my place for college alumni and a few current students who are interning in Minneapolis. Attendance is typically very low for these events so I'm not going to knock myself out on food and drink, but I do need to lay in some supplies. I'll pay for them myself and claim them as a donation to the school.

Monday the 24th I want to go to a pretty close-by park to see an old-timey country music performer that I used to go see and haven't for years. I'm hoping I can get a couple of friends to come with me, since I've been to several shows alone recently. It's fun, but it's more fun to be with someone. It's free, so that's a plus!

Tuesday the 25th is my and AS's 20-year anniversary of dating! I need to figure out babysitting so she and I and NT can go somewhere nice for dinner. I emailed one place that looks great but doesn't have any vegan options to see if they could accommodate me; typically fine dining places will do so, especially if you give them notice so they're prepared. Whether we go to that place or another, we are expecting to go somewhere pretty fancy and run up a fairly big tab.

Our calendars do seem to fill up lately, but that's a really busy week even by our standards! At least it's a lot of variety and all fun stuff.

New meal & other news

July 10th, 2017 at 12:46 am

I'm on a roll thanks to the CSA! NT and I used a spiralizer to make summer squash noodles, which I lightly sauteed and mixed with a homemade spaghetti sauce with fresh basil in it. We've had spiralized zucchini noodles, but only as a raw preparation with raw tomato or alfredo sauce. It was nice cooked; not as yummy as pasta I must admit, but pretty good.

I believe that's 30 new meals tried, 20 to go. Glad I'm making progress on this goal since some of my others have stalled!

AS called Saturday morning in tears. They were talking about not releasing her mom until Monday. She'd been thinking of Monday as her coming home day, so the thought of staying another day or two to help her mom settle in was too much.

Later in the afternoon she called back. Decision made: Whether or not her mom was out of the hospital, she was coming home Monday night. The stress is getting to AS and she's been having chest pains herself. Plus she's unable to conduct her freelance business since her mom's second hospital stay caused her to camp out at my sister's home most of the time instead of at her mom's apartment as planned. My sister's family is great but it's really hard to concentrate on work when you're in an unfamiliar setting.

Besides, her mom has been getting stronger every day; this incident wasn't a setback in terms of healing from her surgery, so she's in much better shape already than when she came home from the hospital the first time.

I was so relieved! Then this morning we got even better news; her mom got released today and was home by the early afternoon. That gives AS about 24 hours to get her mom settled before she comes home.

I confirmed AS will be leaving town again July 31, but we'll have three weeks together this month, starting tomorrow night, and I'm going to appreciate every second!

29 down, 21 to go on my new meals goal

July 7th, 2017 at 06:14 pm

Last night I did another big salad to use up CSA veggies. I wanted to change it up, so I made rice to go in it, and pickled beets, and a kind of quick sauerkraut-esque cabbage called krautsalat.

The rice was cooled and tossed with bell pepper, green onion, cucumbers, and a simple vinaigrette with fresh basil. The beets were pickled in malt vinegar with sugar, salt and pepper. The cabbage was soaked in boiling salted water, then pressed and tossed with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.

We also had romaine lettuce, Napa cabbage, spring onions, more cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and toasted cashews, pecans and almonds.

It was a really good salad! I'm having some more for lunch as I write this, minus the nuts and beets which were all eaten last night.

In other news, no definite return date for AS, but her mom is in the step-down unit and doing better every day. They found no sign of stroke in the MRI, and her appetite is much better than before the seizure (so the fear of low blood-sugar, the likely cause of that incident, is lessened). AS floated Monday as a possible return date! That's assuming she can get her mom to a point where she can take care of herself with some help from home-visit nurses and physical therapists, which should all be covered by healthcare. She is feeling really good about it, so fingers crossed it's for real this time!

Time keeps dragging on

July 6th, 2017 at 04:14 am

Long whiny post ahead ... feel free to skip over. Wink

Well, AS's mom continues to improve; they still aren't 100% sure what happened to her but they do get more and more confident that whatever it was wasn't as serious as it first seemed.

The rough outline right now is MRI tomorrow and hopefully moving back to a "step-down" unit. Then ... ???

My timeline -- which is 50% based on actual evidence and 50% wishful thinking -- is that she moves to step-down tomorrow, the MRI shows nothing wrong, she continues to improve, they discharge her Friday afternoon, and by Saturday afternoon AS is confident enough in her mom's ability to take care of herself that she books a Sunday evening flight home.

Considering how much her mom will have to manage -- diet and exercise and pills and appointments, let alone regular stuff like housekeeping and bills -- this is probably quite fanciful. But a girl can dream, right?

Tomorrow will mark 2 weeks apart, the longest in at least 15 years. Actually we probably passed that milestone a week ago. I know, I'm exceedingly lucky that we never had to do this before now...

Luckily the hospital isn't too far from my sister's so AS has gotten to spend her time there when not at the hospital. Actually she hasn't been at the hospital much, though she calls several times a day to check in with the nurses.

My sister left for Kenya today, and most of her family follow on Friday. But my brother-in-law will still be around. He can be a difficult guy to get along with but he's still family, so I'm glad he's there for AS.

NT and I are getting on with things, but I feel like I'm in a holding pattern. The thoughts of converting the basement for my friend to live in, my creative writing, frugal behavior, no night snacking and cutting back on wine, those are all sort of out the window. At least we're still cooking every day -- the CSA veggies dictate that or else they'd go to waste.

And work is going well, though my heart's not in it as much. I was gearing up to hint at wanting a raise or promotion before this all happened, but for now I'm just doing the work that comes in. Oh, and I've kept up on my walking routine and morning strength exercises. I only don't hit 10K steps about once a week, and most days I get more like 12K-20K. For me that would have seemed like a lot even just a couple months ago, so I'm glad I'm in this new groove.

The kids are doing great. They live in the moment a good deal of the time, so they don't suffer too much having an absent parent. Though SL, who's very physical and affectionate with AS, has been very cuddly and kissy with me, so I imagine she's compensating for not having that with AS. I can't complain about that anyway! The morning routine getting the kids out the door hasn't been as bad as I feared; I make them lay out their clothes the night before and I hide all the iPads and remotes in our bedroom, so they know to get ready and not get distracted watching a show. It's been working out and we might actually keep this routine going once AS gets home.

I'm looking ahead at the calendar and really hoping AS gets home by the 14th, when we have a sleepover planned with a few of AA and SL's little girl friends. And really really hoping she gets home by the 25th, which is our 20-year anniversary of being together. I wrote to a fancy restaurant just to see what their prices are and whether they could do a vegan meal for me. If not, I'll start to look at reservations elsewhere. I'll proceed as if she'll be home by our anniversary.

I also remembered looking at the calendar that AS is maybe scheduled to fly out to Tahoe on the 29th for a week and a half at a college she does distance teaching for. If that's still on, I really-really-really hope she comes home in time for us to have a couple weeks together before that happens.

Whatever happens, she'll be back in Va. Aug. 12-20 for our family vacation out there. But at least we'll be there too!

Writing all this down I do realize what a baby I'm being about the whole situation. I think I'll snap out of it once AS has a new return date for sure. I just hate the being in limbo part most of all.

If you're still here, thanks for listening! Smile

AS update

July 4th, 2017 at 08:23 pm

I'm not in a good mood today. No energy whatsoever. I think mostly because AS is still gone and we don't know when she'll be home.

She had her travel booked for Wednesday (tomorrow) and we didn't know that she'd secretly switched it to Tuesday (today) to surprise us by coming home a day early; her mom was doing that well.

Then on Sunday, she went to do some laundry and came home to find her mom lying on the floor unresponsive.

She called an ambulance and took her mom to the hospital.

It seemed really really bad to AS, but so far tests have not turned up much. It seems that she was dehydrated, or had an infection, or low blood sugar led to seizure-like reaction.

So hopefully, her mom will get to go home soon. Hopefully she'll not have lost progress on recovery. Hopefully AS will be home soon. Maybe this weekend? We just can't be sure.

Spending has been meh. Obviously AS has had to buy food, and Lyfts, and stuff for her mom. NT and I have been spending a bit more than usual too. AS did get a couple big freelance payments which helped the shared spending deficit. I haven't saved anything for travel expenses during our August trip or NT's September one, or for my and AS's 20-year anniversary dinner. Hoping I can fund all these things without dipping into the savings I've been putting aside for renovations. Hoping no other unexpected expenses come up once AS is home. But again, just can't be sure.

July 2017 debt payments

July 4th, 2017 at 08:14 pm

All our mortgage payments hit:

US Mortgage: $699 to principal
UK Mortgage 1: $183
UK Mortgage 2: $38
UK Mortgage 3: $41

All told that's $961 to principal.

Current debt:
US Mortgage $395,372
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $34,480
UK Mortgage 2 $7,269
UK Mortgage 3 $7,654

TOTAL DEBT $453,775

Retirement goal progress

June 30th, 2017 at 04:59 pm

Goal: $494,743 by 2019

As a reminder, this is just an incremental goal along the way to 8x income by retirement. This mini-goal aims to get us to a milestone by the time I turn 45 and AS turns 40.

The milestone (which changes whenever our salaries change) is to get me to 3x my current salary, which is now $68,291, so $204,873; NT to 3x his, which is now $62,100, so $186,300; and AS to 2x hers, which in 2016 was $51,785, so $103,570)

Current balance: $335,025

May 2017 balance: $330,279

Progress: $4,746

An OK bump, but not as much as we need to gain monthly to reach our interim goal. (At least it looks like we'll pass our 2017 mini-mini-goal of $350K before the end of the year!)

To reach the goal by our birthdays in 2019, that's 20 months, so we'd need to contribute (or have assets appreciate) $159,718 -- $7,986 per month -- to reach it.

I could just use the same title as my last post, but add cat pics!

June 29th, 2017 at 04:35 am

We tried a new kind of tempeh, black bean tempeh made by a local company. I sauteed it and coated with storebought BBQ sauce. I wasn't blown away but it was nice tempeh, much more tender than regular. However I think it's about twice as expensive as the more commercial tempeh, so I don't know how often I'd get it. I also made drop biscuits (AS is the biscuit expert so I just looked for an easy variation). They were OK but would never compare with hers. And we had coleslaw and sauteed chard using CSA veggies.

But anyway, new tempeh, new biscuit recipe, I think that counts as a new meal! What's that, 28 down, 22 to go? I forgot how the CSA veggies sort of cause new meal attempts to happen naturally.

Spoke to AS again. Her mom is sleeping a lot but otherwise seems OK. AS says it's like having a newborn; pills every couple hours, exercises every couple hours, weigh-ins, blood pressure and glucose checks twice a day. All about checking boxes and keeping to a schedule. She's not getting much sleep but it's obvious her plan to come down when her mom got home was the correct one. The aunt hasn't called at all since AS's mom kind of told her off over the phone after she'd left. That's good because I can tell AS is very emotionally fragile with the exhaustion and responsibility and homesickness and lack of sleep.

AS is working on getting the home nurse set up. She also set up some follow-up appointments for Tuesday that she plans to accompany her mom to. So it looks like at least another week apart.

It was easier when she was in NYC because she was always happy when we spoke; tipsy and happy when we spoke at night. Smile I was happy for her and not worried about her. Now of course, I'm very proud of her, but worried and wishing I could do something to ease her burden. She looks thinner on FaceTime and seems on the verge of tears most of the time. I think it'll get easier as her mom is able to stay awake more often and starts to take charge of her own routine more. Also AS is trying to catch her mom up on laundry and housework, but she'll catch up on that and have less to do in a few days. And she's got a couple freelance assignments she planned to do while away, but little free time and no good Wi-Fi signal, so that's stressing her out.

But we're getting through. Fun activities planned for Thursday night, Friday night and Sunday evening. Would have been more fun with AS, but we'll make up for lost time when she returns. We're hoping for Wednesday. We'll make up the budget too; we're now about $1300 in the red on shared spending. But lots of freelance work that AS is expecting checks for any day now, so I'm not going to worry about that.

Anyway, to end on a fun note, I realized I never shared the cat portraits that I got made as my birthday present! Here they are! They're very small, 5 or 6 inches square. NT hung them up in a corner of the living room for me. They're very accurate portrayals of our sad-eyed, flop-eared, many-toed, overweight doofus Whiskey and alert, pretty little girl Clue. They're both such wonderful cats in their own ways; I'm really happy we immortalized them in paintings! (PS, the file is showing up sideways in the post, but clicking on it brings up a version that's right side up.)

New meal and missing AS

June 28th, 2017 at 01:58 am

Tonight was a meal designed to use up some CSA veggies. Smile We had a big salad and I basically put all the ingredients in separate bowls and let everyone make their own. It had:
- CSA Napa cabbage
- CSA Romaine lettuce
- CSA sugar snap peas
- CSA cilantro
- storebought avocados
- storebought tomatoes
- storebought mangoes
- vegan chikn strips
- roasted pumpkin seeds with soy sauce
- leftover soy-lemon dressing from the other night

Not exactly setting the world on fire since we've had similar meals before, but not this exact combination of ingredients so I'm counting it as 27 down, 23 to go! Big Grin Anyway, it was delicious and I had seconds ... and then ate up the last bits of vegan chikn with more avocado and pumpkin seeds ... and then mashed the last of the avocado and had it on a tostada with a bit of leftover refried beans and hot sauce. Needless to say, I'm stuffed! Oh, and the kids ate it up no problem, so that's always good. Letting them leave one or two ingredients off made it more of a curated experience for them, which always goes over bigger with kids.

We spoke with AS on FaceTime tonight. She's in Va. now, at her mom's apartment. I'm proud to say that my family has really stepped up to the plate: My sister drove AS's mom home from the hospital and also all over to get prescriptions etc., and also stayed with her to help her get settled in. My dad picked AS up from the train station and drove her to her mom's apartment, and even offered to loan AS one of his cars (she doesn't drive and her mom shouldn't be driving for a while, but it was nice of him to offer).

Nevertheless, she's missing home and us and the kids and the cats and her routine, and we're missing her. She got a bit teary at the end of the call. Hopefully her mom will progress to the point that AS feels OK coming home sooner rather than later.

New meal tried and things looking up

June 26th, 2017 at 03:24 pm

Thanks everyone for the sympathy on my last post! I'm happy to report that things are going better for AS. She talked to nurses, her mom and my sister, and those three voices were able to balance the scales against her aunt's hysteria. So she's still in NYC and having a good, guilt-free time with one of my old college buddies who has become her dear friend too.

Here's one funny anecdote that illustrates what was going on so perfectly: She talks to her aunt who says "They tried to have your mom sit in a chair, but she couldn't handle it! She got so exhausted that they had to move her back to the bed!" Then AS called the nurses to ask how it was going. "Your mom's doing great! She actually wanted to sit in a chair for a little while! When she got tired, we moved her back to her bed to rest." So, there you go. Two ways to look at one situation.

My sister confirmed after a visit (as did snafu from her own experience) that AS's mom didn't really want visitors. And AS's aunt went home, so she's less of an "authority" now that she's not hanging around the hospital.

AS's mom got moved to the "step-down" unit, which is halfway between ICU and a regular hospital room. She confirmed that AS's aunt was being a real pain with her attempts to raise alarms about every little thing. (She couldn't really say it before because the aunt was in the room. Big Grin )

So that's all looking good. NT and I are hanging in there with the girls, although the housework has slipped a bit. (In our defense it was a really busy weekend and we were barely home.)

Saturday night I tried a new meal. It was going to be pasta with a spinach-garlic sauce. But then I saw that the CSA had given us a much smaller bunch of spinach than I'd expected, not nearly enough for the recipe. So instead I chopped the spinach really small and cooked it with some garlic and herbs. Then I tossed with spaghetti and sauteed broccoli.

It was basically a modified version of this garlic-toss pasta that we do, but it was a nice variation. Simple and healthy. The kids finished it no problem. So I'd do something similar in the future.

So that's 26 meals tried, 24 to go!

Halfway to my new meals goal, and other thoughts

June 23rd, 2017 at 08:23 pm

Our CSA vegetable delivery has started up again, so I'm trying to look at it as inspiration for new meals. The first one I tried was roasted asparagus, chickpeas and shallots with a soy-lemon dressing. It was pretty good! I don't know if I'd go out of my way to make it again, but we all liked it. I served it over rice with a spinach-lettuce salad that had roasted pumpkin seeds and balsamic vinaigrette. (I usually just mix oil and vinegar for that, but this time I actually read a recipe and added salt, pepper and a little brown sugar, and it was delicious!)

So that's 25 new meals tried, 25 to go. I have another new meal planned for Saturday night.

AS left today on her travels, heading to NYC first. I haven't posted much because everything feels so up in the air. Trying hard to "go with the flow," which includes scheduling as well as money irregularities. And a good deal of emotions.

So AS's mom had her open-heart surgery Tuesday to repair a valve. She could have had her breathing tube removed and been out of sedation that day, but every patient is different. Doctors kept pushing it back until today, when AS was finally able to speak to her on the phone. She sounded groggy but OK. AS's sort-of plan is to stay in NYC until her mom is ready to leave the hospital. Her reasoning is her mom will have round-the-clock expert care there, but could use AS's help more (and just enjoy her company more) once she's headed home.

But then there's AS's aunt. Who has her own opinions and is trying to ram them down AS's throat. Namely that AS should have been there for the surgery (which was not a risky or uncertain procedure and is actually quite routine) and after. She's at the hospital now and freaks AS out every time she talks to her. Trying to tell AS that her mom is hiding things (all of a sudden her aunt reveals that she has suspected for a while that AS's mom "drinks." To excess? Who knows; she's very vague but worried and disapproving. But if she thought it was a serious thing, why hasn't she told AS before?). Trying to insist that AS's mom needs to go into a rehab facility for several weeks, that the doctors and nurses are more worried than they're letting on, that AS's mom sounded really bad when she came to and could only say "yes" or "no" with no sign she understood what was going on. (AS knows that is not the case because her mom was able to respond more than that even on the phone call they had right after she woke up and had the breathing tube removed.) Telling AS that she'll need to make several visits out there.

It's a big stew of manipulation, mistrust, judgy-ness, lifelong sibling conflict (between AS's aunt and mom) and attempts to get her way, for all of the above reasons. AS knows her aunt, knows she can be unreasonable, paranoid and inflexible. But still, when her mom's health is involved, it's hard to stay dispassionate in the face of all this.

So anyway, she's going to talk to her mom again tonight when she's had more time to clear her mind from her aunt's latest barrage (and when her mom will have had time to perk up after being sedated for four days). She'll talk to the doctor. She may talk to my sister, who's in the area and has visited a couple times. She'll try to decide if she is needed there sooner than she thought. My feeling is if her mom seems despondent, scared or lonely, that would be a good reason to come early. If not, there's no medical or practical reason to hurry down there. This is all due to her aunt's emotional blackmail.

I hate to think of AS having to take calls from the aunt when I'm not there, because they rattle her and I'm usually able to help her calm down. I'd like her to enjoy a couple days in NYC as planned before heading down. But I don't know how that's going to pan out.

I also don't know how long she'll be gone. She's been thinking a week or two in Va., starting next Tuesday or Wednesday.

I also don't know how much this will all cost. It's not that expensive to fly to Va. from NYC, but AS has also mentioned hiring additional help if the insurance-provided caregiver doesn't seem sufficient. So I know that could be a huge expense. And then there's the flight back from Va. to MN.

And then there's just the worrying. Me worrying about AS, her worrying about her mom, and what her aunt thinks of her, or might try to do.

And just missing her. We were separated for up to a month at a time when she was in college because she'd go home on breaks sometimes while I stayed in MN. But we haven't been apart for more than, probably, 5 days at a time since then. Our 20-year anniversary is coming up, so it's probably been over 15 years since we've been apart longer.

Plus, it's a luxury, but it's so nice to have three parents and I've gotten used to that flexibility and ability to cover for one another, so it's gonna be weird to be just me and NT. And the fact that AS works her own schedule, from home, gives her more opportunity to watch the kids if they come home sick, or wait for repairmen, or do little errands and chores that need doing during the work week.

So, I'm just trying to be supportive and flexible and get through the next unspecified number of days/weeks with relative grace and calm. It goes against my pro-planning, routine-loving self these days, but I know I have to try, and that it could be much worse.

My 10-year blogoversary!

June 22nd, 2017 at 03:23 pm

OK, OK, technically it was yesterday.

I put it on my calendar a long time ago, reminded myself to post even during the day yesterday--and then just plumb forgot. I'm a bit off my routine at the moment.

Anyway, here I am 10 years later! Since my blog is largely numbers-focused, I thought I should do a snapshot of then and now.

My estimated debt was $457,714. It included $305,544 in mortgage debt on two homes, a $7,000 loan from my dad, $5,000 projected for a trip to England, $72,365 in education debt (this included $40,000 projected debt for NT's undergrad that was about to start), and a horrifying $72,808 in credit card debt!

I didn't calculate our assets for a few months, but in August I estimated them to be worth $507,550. That included $445,000 of home values (though one of them ended up being overvalued by about $40K) and $62,550 of retirement funds.

So technically taken together, we had a net worth of $49,836. If you took out the overvaluation of our condo it would be less, but then again if you took out the $45K of "estimated future debt" for our trip and NT's education, it would then come to about the same. So I'd say we had about $50,000 net worth together.

Our monthly net income from paychecks (including an estimate for NT because he was a temp at the time) was about $5,400.

Fast forward to today:
Our debt is actually almost the same, just a tiny bit lower, at $454,735. The difference is it includes $0 in personal loans, $0 in student loans, and $0 in credit card debt. It's all mortgages on two homes (one of them a multifamily), except $9,000 owed to our downstairs neighbors, which will get converted from a debt to their down payment if we ever complete an agreement for them to purchase their unit of the home.

Our assets are $974,945. This includes two (much more realistically valued) homes and $335,164 in retirement funds. That puts our net worth at $520,210.

Our monthly net income (again an estimate because now AS is a freelancer) is about $9935. So it's $4,535 more per month, almost double, and that's with increased retirement, healthcare and daycare withholdings.

So, our debt hasn't gone down much, but our "bad debt" has been wiped out. Our retirement funds are up $272,614, our total assets have increased in value by $467,395, and our net worth by $470,210!

All in all, it's been a great 10 years. We've made some mistakes, had some setbacks, but I'm pretty proud of my family for sticking with me through it. We've all changed in the way we look at and talk about and use money. I hope the next 10 years will be even more fruitful!

Thank you, SA family, for always being willing to listen and advise. I feel like I wouldn't be in as good a place without you.

Couple of checks

June 18th, 2017 at 12:28 am

And just like that, AS's freelance check drought broke! She got $1800 from one place and $2500 from another. Our shared-spending deficit is gone.

That win might be temporary, with Father's Day festivities coming up tomorrow, and AS's trip to NYC that will probably get a trip to Va. tacked on to it. Oh and we need to get the outdoor spigot fixed. But it's still nice to see us in the black for a bit! And she's still expecting a couple more checks this month, so hopefully we won't get badly behind again.

Eventful week

June 17th, 2017 at 12:07 am

Earlier this week (gosh, I can't even remember what day) AS got a call from her mom. She was in the hospital because she'd been getting dizzy and out of breath while on a walk.

Turns out she had an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia?) and they wanted to do this procedure where they shocked her heart to get it back on track. They also wanted to examine her more closely and figure out the right medication, because she'd never had an ideal mix.

A couple days later she had the procedure, but they'd turned up a leaky valve and a stiffening artery. They said she would need open heart surgery.

At first AS was very scared and upset, but the more she learns about it the better she feels. She was thinking she'd need to go take care of her mom, but her insurance will cover a nurse, and she doesn't seem that worried.

To complicate matters, AS's solo trip to NYC is coming up next Friday-Wednesday, and we didn't get trip insurance on that one. AS was trying to figure out whether to skip it entirely, to fly to Va. from there, or what. The date of the procedure kept changing, so that was adding to the uncertainty.

But today things seem to be clearer. The procedure is probably happening this Monday. AS's mom is insistent that she doesn't need her by the bedside during/after surgery. She'll be in the hospital a few days and then will go home.

So at present AS's plan is to go to NYC as planned, but instead of coming home afterward, to fly to Va. and stay with her mom for a week or two. (Just saying that is weird to me -- I haven't been away from her that long probably in about 18 years!)

The great thing about being a freelancer is she can bring her laptop and not miss a beat work-wise.

I'm glad this is happening after the school year ended; AS does all the getting-kids-ready stuff in the morning while I get myself ready for work, and it's less stress if I just need to get them to daycare vs. to the school bus stop at a certain time!

It'll take a lot of other adjustments too; we're creatures of habit, and while we're used to covering for one another during short absences, I'm sure there are lots of things we don't even realize AS takes care of until she's gone!

So it'll be a bit of a drain on our funds, but overall it doesn't seem as bad as it was seeming (health-wise or money-wise) earlier in the week!

Our shared spending is in the negative because there's been a big drought of freelance checks. I would really love that to get back in balance before all this starts up!

24 down, 26 to go on new meals goal

June 14th, 2017 at 05:03 pm

So last Thursday I made tostadas for what I believe was the first time. Basically hard flat tortilla shells spread with refried beans and sprinkled with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, salsa. It's funny because Mexican is a staple that shows up almost every week for us, but I'd never thought to do these. The kids loved them and even had more for snacks the next day. AS wasn't a huge fan because she prefers soft wheat tortillas, but I can easily get a pack of those the next time I make tostadas. We also had corn and Spanish rice with the meal.

Sunday I made "grilled cheese rollups" from the damndelicious site where I got the Korean beef bowl idea. The kids like regular grilled cheese and tomato soup so I thought they'd find this fun, but they didn't seem to be very into them. So I'll probably just stick to regular sandwiches in the future.

Beautiful little house!

June 11th, 2017 at 07:09 pm

Our neighborhood is mostly big, early 1900s single-family or multifamily homes, interspersed with (non-high-rise) apartment buildings. There are these three darling little houses that we pass a lot on our walks, and we've always thought we'd love to own one and make it a rental property, preferably renting to a good friend of ours. They're only a couple blocks away from us.

We never thought they'd ever go on sale, but one of them did, just two days ago. $225K for a 900-square-foot home. It's a reasonable price for our neighborhood.

If we'd sold the UK flat this year I'd totally consider making an offer! But alas, we won't be listing our UK property until next spring at the earliest.

I see that this house is already "pending," and it's only been on the market 2 days. Sigh. I know a duplex would make a lot more sense as a rental property, but I just have such a crush on these adorable houses.

https://www.edinarealty.com/homes-for-sale/1212-w-33rd-street-minneapolis-mn-55408-4840710#/

22 down, 28 to go on the new meals goal

June 6th, 2017 at 12:41 am

We tried three new meals in the past week or so, so we're getting close to the halfway point on my new meals goal!

First, I decided to make a "breakfast wrap" with a burrito tortilla, stuffed with my go-to tofu scramble, veggie bacon, cheese, and sauteed peppers and onions. We had it with watermelon and potato chips; I'd planned it to be able to be taken on a picnic if the weather was nice (it wasn't). It was tasty, but I prefer a breakfast burrito (refried beans etc.) so I wouldn't go out of my way to make this again.

Then, AS made mushroom Swiss burger melts, with veggie burgers (and vegan mozzarella instead of Swiss for me), sauteed mushrooms and onions, and melty cheese, served with fries. A tasty twist on the usual veggie burger meal; we'd definitely have it again.

And tonight I tried the Korean beef bowl that Monkey Mama posted about! I used vegan ground beef but otherwise followed the recipe, and served it with white rice and sauteed broccoli. It was a big hit with the adults (NT and I spiced ours up with Sri Racha) and even the kids finished it with no complaints. It was super easy, so I could see this becoming a regular weeknight meal. Thanks Monkey Mama!

So that's 22 new meals tried, 28 to go for the year!


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