Tuesday, February 16, 2016


A couple quick peeks at what we've been up to ...




D has been insanely busy at work, so we get very little time together lately, which has been especially hard since we normally nest hardcore after a move. I've been doing lots of little projects on my own and we were lucky to get some time on Saturday to work together and knock out some of the things on our list. We have a weird division of labor that happens in our house and I'm embarrassed to admit that I never, ever, ever hang shelves or hooks or anything on the walls. I'm just not patient enough for the entire process of measuring, leveling, etc. I hate it. It's not that I'm not handy - I like fixing things and happily spent part of Saturday taking apart our vacuum cleaner to figure out why it had stopped working, even though that took longer than the shelf hanging would have. I'm selectively impatient, I guess. Anyways ...

1. I am so lucky that D enjoys creating custom organizers for our kitchen drawers and he's done it for every place we've lived. You can only see the top layer here (and a peek at the second layer) but this is a three tier drawer organizer that holds basically all our kitchen utensils. We lay out everything, organize it by priority (most used gets top layer billing) and then he goes to work with sturdy cardboard and a hot glue gun. The finished product always amazes me. This new kitchen has a ridiculous amount of drawers, so being super efficient wasn't even really necessary, but it's still nice to have everything neatly organized. These old kitchens tend to have super deep drawers, so if you don't make organizers you're just fishing around in them.

2. The fridge is right next to the stove, and I wanted to get some use out of the space. Oddly, there aren't a lot of magnetic bar options out there, so I opted for a DIY version. This is a Grundtal rail from Ikea that I attached to the fridge using some super strong magnets. Even with the crazy magnets, this is only going to work for relatively lightweight items, but that's all I needed it for and it stays in place really well with no sliding. For extra friction, I cut small squares of nitrile from a glove (you can also use latex from a balloon) and placed it between the magnets and the fridge and the magnets and the rail attachment. I used these magnets but they are 1.75" wide which means they stick out on the edges. If I did this again, I'd probably get something a little smaller, like these 1.5" ones or these square 1.5" ones or maybe these bars, which would probably look the neatest (I might actually order these right now - I'll get back to you if they work better). EDIT - if you're thinking about doing this and using the Grundtal rail, do yourself a favor and get the bars instead of the circles. They work great and they fit so neatly. I switched mine out and love it way more now.

3. The other big project we got finished was installing a dog door for Circe (no pictures, so you'll have to accept this one of her supervising me while I clean the porch instead). She hasn't had one before so most of the weekend was spent training her that she can, in fact, go in and out at will. At this point I'm pretty sure that she is fully aware of how it works but is pretending ignorance so we'll continue to bribe her with treats.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Skincare situation


I have skincare confusion. Ever since I turned thirty I've been feeling like I should have a more strategic skincare system. But figuring it out felt like such a barrier that I managed to put it off for over two years. My skin is fine. It's dry but not particularly sensitive and for years I've just been washing it with Philosophy's Purity face wash and then using a lotion with SPF during the day and a thicker lotion at night. I'm definitely noticing more lines and dark spots as I get older and this fall, in a fit of good intentions, I buckled down and read a bunch of articles online and then came up with my own plan. I researched options, loaded up my various online carts* and bit the bullet (wincing at the cost - apparently looking ageless comes at a price, which isn't really surprising).

I stuck with my little routine religiously for two months, but when I started running out of stuff I just switched over to slathering coconut oil on my face twice a day and you know what? Works just as well, as far as I can tell, except that it does a better job moisturizing and a $5 jar will last me an entire year, probably.

I now wash my face nightly with Purity, then put on a generous layer of coconut oil and let it sit while I brush my teeth, etc. I wipe off the excess gently with a washcloth before I go to bed, but only because I have bangs and prefer not to saturate them with oil while I'm sleeping. I don't soap my face in the morning, but I do wipe it down well with cold water, then rub in a thin layer of coconut oil and let it sit before putting on my moisturizer with SPF (still using that Aveeno stuff pictured above although I might go back to Neutrogena Healthy Defense once it's out).

Once a week I use the Microdelivery Peel system from Philosophy (I've actually been in love with this product for years but was never consistent about using it before) and follow it up immediately with a thick layer of coconut oil.

I was afraid initially that straight oil might clog my pores but I haven't had any issues with it and it's been three months now. Of course, your mileage may vary. As I mentioned, my skin isn't sensitive or prone to break outs, but it is extremely dry. Yay for cheap solutions!

I'm still open to suggestions, though, if you have anything you couldn't live without ...

* If you're curious, here's what was on my shopping list, what I ended up purchasing, and how I liked it:

A serum (with vitamin C, which is supposed to help with dark spots) - I picked Philosophy's When Hope is Not Enough serum and then bought their Vitamin C powder that you can mix in. Verdict - I went through the entire bottle of this and didn't notice any difference. Bummer, because I normally love their stuff, obvs.

A daytime lotion with brightening agents (vitamin C or soy) - I got Aveeno Positively Radiant in SPF 30. Verdict - it's fine, although I think I had an adjustment period where this made my face slightly red immediately after application (it would calm down within 20 minutes or so). I don't think this is the most moisturizing option, but when I'm pairing it with the oil it's fine. I haven't noticed the brightening effect, though.

A nighttime lotion with retinol (for fine lines) to use a few times a week - Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair. Verdict - I used this for a while several years ago and definitely noticed that my skin looked brighter and tighter, so it was a no brainer for me to go back to it. I haven't been great about using it the last few months because it's been so dry that I'm reluctant to risk making my skin any drier. I also don't love the feel or the smell, but as soon as the weather calms down I'm going to suck it up and try again.

An eye cream with retinol (ditto) - RoC Retinol Correxion, based on online reviews. Verdict - I've been inconsistent with this for the same reason as the lotion. It feels fine, though, so I'm more likely to use it nightly.

Weekly facial peel - I've been using Philosophy's Microdelivery peel every once in a while for years and looove it, so I stuck with it and just resolved to do it weekly and not feel guilty about it. Previously I was hoarding it but it's easier to justify the ridiculous expense when my other main facial product is coconut oil.

Not originally on my list, but I got it with my Sephora points at checkout and it turned out to be a lifesaver - Josie Maran's argan oil. Verdict - amazing, but the insane cost per ounce is what pushed me to give the coconut oil a try. I honestly don't find there to be a huge difference between the argan oil and the coconut oil in terms of outcome. The argan oil absorbs more quickly and you use less of it, but they ultimately moisturize equally well for me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The weekend, briefly

It's been a while since I did one of these posts!


sunday cooking




We're still getting settled into the new place, and I'm deep in nesting mode, but we're really loving it. We haven't had much time to explore the neighborhood yet, but we took a walk on Saturday and then I went for a run with a friend on Sunday. My favorite way to check out any new place is on foot, of course. I also got a lot of kitchen time in, which was lovely (feels nice to get back to a full size oven). I treated myself to flowers and then got a ton of meal prep done for the week. Which I ended up being very grateful for when the week got off to a crazy start and left me feeling frazzled. Life, right?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Once a month meal planning - February

And on to February! I planned this out super early because I knew that the last thing I'd want to do the weekend we were moving was handle a massive grocery list. I did, however, manage to convince myself to hit the grocery store on February 1st for our big shop and I was pretty impressed with myself because what I wanted to do was lie in bed and order take out (full disclosure - we did go out with friends on Monday and then order take out with them on Tuesday, so we're not exactly starting this month off strong but when your dear friend is only in town for a few days, you take advantage).


I stuck with my basic formula for this month, with weekly lentils and crock pot meals and I'm still hitting the sweet potato bolognese pretty hard. I keep thinking one week I'll realize I'm sick of it but it hasn't happened yet.

Recipes for this month:

Lentil and garlic sausage cassoulet - new to me recipe, only making a 1/2 batch because otherwise we'd be eating it forever. I couldn't find slab bacon so I got a small piece of pork belly instead. Maybe that's the same thing, now that I think about it?

Cashew nut chicken - Using the other half of the sauce that I froze last month (next time I might make a triple batch of sauce - it was so lovely to just dump everything together in the morning).

Spiced butternut squash, lentil and goat cheese salad - new to me, looks so good.

Crockpot beef stew - just realized I don't have the recipe for this posted anywhere. My mom always made it growing up and it's super easy. 1 lb beef stew meat, a couple potatoes, some carrots, some celery, all roughly chunked, 1 can of V8, 1 tbsp of sugar, 2 tbsp minute tapioca, ~ 2 tsp salt, cooked in the crockpot on low for 8 hours. I always consider looking for a fancier recipe, but this one never fails and it is so easy.

Canal house lentils - new to me, looks simple and delicious. Skeptical about the eight servings, though. In my experience, a cup of dried lentils usually equals four servings. Maybe it's meant to be a side dish?

Chicken enchilada soup - always.

Black lentils with caramelized onions - but just once this month.

Sweet potato and black bean chili - again, using up the odds and ends of the spiralized sweet potatoes. Last month I couldn't find ground chipotle so I just used some canned chipotles in adobo sauce (not a whole can! they are spicy) and it was delicious. I froze the other half of the can so I can do it again this time around.

Sweet potato bolognese - again, no real recipe. It's just 1/2 lb ground beef, 1/2 lb hot sausage, 1 jar marinara and 2 large sweet potatoes that have been spiralized. (spiralizer post is here).


The worst part of this for me is figuring out the grocery list with this many meals in the mix, but I assume I'll get better with that. I just jot down the ingredients for every meal, then consolidate them on a single page, keeping them roughly divided into categories (produce, meat, canned goods, etc). I check the pantry to see what I have and cross those things off. I usually then split the list into what I need from each store, but this month I lost energy at that point and it was fairly well divided anyways. I get my produce from Jons (best produce prices + selection around here) or the farmer's market, meat from Whole Foods, odds and ends from TJs or the regular grocery store. What surprises me is that once I get it all boiled down and consolidated, the major shopping trip really isn't that huge or that expensive! With perishable produce I also note down the week I need it (and make a note on my actual meal planning sheet), so that I can just get it that week.

I don't know - is my scribbled out grocery list the weirdest thing I've ever posted? Maybe next month I'll remember to take a picture before I write all over it and wad it up in my bag to take it out to multiple stores.

Previous once a month meal planning posts - January planning and January execution.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Once a month meal planning - January revisited

You guys, I loved having all my meals planned for the month. Looooved it. Front loading the "real" cooking on M/T/W worked really well for us because it left us a lot of flexibility at the end of the week but ensured that we always had enough leftovers to take to work for lunches. Grocery shopping was super minimal week to week, which makes me happy. We also came in below our usual grocery budget, which is probably because we weren't at the store as often and there was almost no food waste, which makes me happy (totally guilty of being overly optimistic while shopping and buying more produce, etc, than we can actually use - I've been working hard to improve this).


I did adjust as necessary (see all my scribbles - I was trying to keep track of how it played out) and we almost never needed our Th/F quick meals because we usually had leftovers. But it worked out well to have the ingredients because we used them for weekend meals and ate out less.

Even with the move thrown in there things didn't get too hectic. I just cooked as scheduled M/T/W and then as soon as I was done cooking on Wednesday I cleaned up and packed our entire kitchen other than the bare essentials (two bowls, two plates, two cups, a skillet and a smattering of utensils). I knew we'd have enough leftovers to get us through the rest of the week so we'd basically just be microwaving and cooking eggs.

I was so excited about this system that I got my February meals planned well ahead of time so that I'd be all ready to jump in on week one despite our move. Those will be up tomorrow! Fair warning - it will be almost as boring as this month.

Which leads me to this question - did we get bored? Nope! I was afraid we would, but it turns out we're just really hungry when we sit down for dinner and the fact that we ate something two weeks ago doesn't even register. I'm relieved because am I the only one who sees those fancy meal plans and thinks people are crazy for being willing to make a different breakfast, lunch and dinner every day? I love the idea of that much variety but in practice it is way too much work for me. That said, I did search for a few new lentil recipes to try out in February because I don't want to push my luck.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


We survived, by the skin of our teeth. Neither of us could take any time off work and we had a very quick turn around. We were moving out of our little house on Saturday and the new tenant was moving in on Sunday. Since she's a friend of a friend we wanted to leave everything perfect, so I literally mopped my way out of the house and then left the keys with our friends and said a tearful goodbye (we're only moving four miles away, so it's not like we won't be seeing them, but it still feels sad!).




We hired movers, which was a life saver. They ended up running a couple hours early which threw off our schedule. I was literally just throwing things into boxes as they carried stuff out of the house. It wasn't my finest hour. Moving brings out the worst in me anyways because I get a little panicky seeing all our stuff gathered in one place. What is all this stuff and why do we own it? Should we consider giving up all our hobbies and just watching TV instead? Think of the space savings! It would be so much easier to move if we weren't also hauling around my sewing, baking, crocheting, macrame and paper goods supplies, along with D's ceramics and woodworking tools and bikes and surfboards and our camping equipment and our books, etc, etc, etc.

We didn't accumulate anything new this year other than a camping tent, which means that everything we owned (and more! we pared down when we moved last year) used to fit perfectly well in our old 600 sf apartment, but you wouldn't have known that if you saw the insane pile of boxes in our new house.

I could barely sleep on Saturday night because I was so wired from the day. I was up at the crack of dawn on Sunday and unpacking. I was a beast. I didn't stop until all the boxes were emptied and I paid for it the next day when every single muscle in my body rebelled.

But we're in! We still have some work to do but it feels so good. More pictures to come, as soon as I'm actually home while it's light outside and can take some. I'm also busy rearranging everything in the kitchen over and over again, so we'll have to see how that settles out. Those cabinets though!