Friday, April 29, 2011

Perfection


Source

I thought that the Royal Wedding was gorgeous. I woke up at 5:15 today and was able to watch most of the wedding live. I loved her dress...it was so appropriate for the occasion and in no way tried to show up Diana's dress. Kate did not misstep for a moment and it seemed like a fairytale affair!

Did you watch the wedding? What did you think?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Royal Wedding


Source

I am so very excited about the Royal Wedding! Are you?

All my life, I have heard about how gorgeous and fun Lady Diana's wedding was, and I am thrilled to be able to experience such a fun time myself. I already love weddings anyway, and a royal wedding is even funner! The dress, the details, the food, the music, the cake...I love it all!

I am looking forward to seeing Kate's dress the most. She has such a great sense of style and seems do down-to-earth and pretty. I think that she will choose a traditional gown, nothing too trendy. I anticipate a full skirt and fitted bodice, but nothing as puffy as Lady Diana's dress.

I love celebrating little things in life just for the sake of celebrating...our animal birthdays, anniversaries, little accomplishments at work...enjoying these little moments make a fun and happy life. So, even though I don't know these people from Adam, I find it so much fun to enjoy all of the hype surrounding their wedding. Now I can celebrate the fact that I can tell my children about how much fun it was to watch the big royal wedding of my generation.

Are you excited about the royal wedding?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bare Minerals



Source

I wear make-up every day and after many years of faithfully wearing Clinique Foundation and Lancome pressed powder, I wanted to switch up my skincare routine. I was tired of putting such heavy makeup on my face and thought that I would like to try something more natural.

After some research, I decided to try Bare Minerals. I have heard so many wonderful things about the product, and after using it for a week and a half I have to say that I agree!! I went to visit my law school friends and while we were at the mall we came across Sephora in a JCPenney. I decided to buy the starter kit.

I am wayyy more impressed with the product now that I have brought it home and have been enjoying it. At the store, my face looked great, but I wasn't sure that the makeup was all that different than what I was wearing before. Once I got home, though, and actually started wearing the stuff, I realized how light the makeup feels on my face. Everything is fairly easy to use and I feel like my makeup looks a lot better now.

So far, my only complaint is that I don't have anything with which to touch up my face during the day. I have a feeling that most people who use Bare Minerals don't need a touch up because it stays on all day, but I touch my face enough that I need something to help red areas during the middle of the day. Thoughts? Should I just learn to keep my hands away from my face? Have you tried BM?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Grocery Adventures: Part 4

You all will be SO disappointed in me with my groceries this week. Can you believe it? I went over my budget. I am pretty ashamed myself. I do have an explanation, though!

This week I spent:

$94.00

If you do not include the wine I bought, I spent $84. But the issue is that I only had $84 in my budget for the entire month. I spent $10 extra. Plus, on Saturday, David had to run to the store to buy some last minute items for the Easter festivities and spent $11, which really should be added to the budget overage, meaning that we went over the budget by $20.

Even though I am disappointed in my final week of the experiment, I still feel that the new budget is extremely helpful and worthwhile. A few thoughts about the entire operation:
  • If I want to save money, I learned that I must plan. I did a good job limiting the mid-week grocery store runs, which can really kill your budget. If you want to stay on track, look at all of the ingredients in a recipe and decide if you can afford them that week. If not, save the recipe!
  • This also helps with weight loss. When I went to the grocery store, I decided to spend my money on items that gave us good nutrition, such as spinach, rather than things like chips. This helped me stay on track for eating well during the week.
  • Stores matter. Part of the reason that I spent so much this week was because I went to a smaller, more local grocery store rather than a big box store (like Target). Whenever I saw the prices, I thought to myself, "I usually spend so much less on this item! Argh!" However, I went shopping on Friday night on my way home from work, I was tired, hungry, and I just wanted to get home. I decided to pay for convenience, which I will try to avoid from now on!
Thoughts about stores:
  • Target: I had the best luck at Target. The produce seemed more expensive than HyVee, but everything else is cheaper. I paid $1.87 for a huge bag of frozen corn, and at other places the same size (store brand) was $3.50!
  • HyVee: HyVee had pretty cheap produce. The produce was the freshest and the best that I tried as well...bigger pieces of vegetables and fruit that lasted longer than Target's produce. However, the rest of the grocery items were a bit more expensive than Target.
Any observations, any more tips? Let's just ignore this past week because I definitely learned my lesson!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter 2011

I had a great time at Easter this year! Sadly, David did not join in any festivities because he is studying again. However, my studying is over so I went off and had fun!

On Saturday I went to my mom's house where we enjoyed a delicious meal, festive decorations, and the traditional lamb cake decorating:
We also played a pick up game of baseball. Luckily, my cousins are nice people and allow me to never strike out, so I scored quite a few runs! Fielding was not my strong suit, though.
After that was over, I came home. On Sunday I woke up early and ran, and then David and I went to Easter mass. We had to stand because it was so crowded. The priest was hilarious when he started his homily. He said something to the effect of, "It is so nice to see everybody here today, the place is packed, it is standing room only, and the nave is completely filled to the brim. All I have to say is...where in the hell have you all been since Christmas?" Haha. Everybody laughed so hard.

After mass we came home and enjoyed a meal that I cooked: we had honeybaked ham, potato casserole made my style (minimal sour cream and no cheese), brussels sprouts, pasta salad, and rolls. For dessert I made strawberry shortcake! Yum! Luckily, I went to yoga in the afternoon so I could work off some of that food! I relaxed the rest of the day, enjoying my holiday.

I hope you all had a great Easter as well!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter


Source

My favorite service of the entire year is on Good Friday. The solemn celebration is the most moving to me during the Easter season. During this service, I enjoyed singing many Easter and Lenten-themed songs.

I should add that I was asked to join the choir at my church that evening by a parishioner who I think must have been in charge of some sort of music group. Of course, I was thrilled and said, "oh no, I am not that good of a singer," because I am really not that good. After that, the person who asked me said, "well, we need young people and individual voices don't really matter. It is how they all sound together that counts! And I can tell that you REALLY liked singing."

So basically, I sing in at a loud volume and am so bad that a woman gave me a pity choir invite.

Happy Easter to you and yours! I hope that whatever you are doing, you are happy and enjoying the gorgeous springtime weather.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grocery Adventures: Part 3


This weekend, I received this bag from Target for Earth Day for free!

We are over halfway finished with the grocery adventures! I have one week left to buy groceries and I still have approximately $84 left to spend in the month of April. This is exciting because by now we are normally at around -$84 and still have to buy the last week's worth of groceries. Overall, I would count my experiment as a success. At first, I did not want to continue the $50/week goal for regular groceries, but now I feel that I will keep up the good work. Seriously, I spend so much less when I go to the grocery store with a plan and with my phone calculator out and calculating what I am spending for the week. It really makes you think, "Do I really feel like the name brand is worth $1 extra?" or, "Do I really need to buy the second can of tuna that I probably won't use?" and when I am cooking at home, "Should I just save this shrimp for another day, when we don't already have protein in our meal?"

Here is the breakdown for this week:

Dairy (Milk- $1.99)

Frozen (Corn- $1.89, Peas- $.99) = $3.88

Fresh (Bananas- $4.53, Apples - $3.99, Oranges- $3.99, Eggplant - $1.99, Cucumbers- $3.96, Potatoes- $1.99, Spinach- $4.00)= $22.46

Canned/Non-Perishable goods (Coffee- $6.64, Tuna- $1.02, Pasta- $1.22, Soup- $1.78, Chicken Broth- $5.38 (Note: This was a LOT of broth...I needed it for two recipes and it was over 12 cups in a huge can), Soup- $.75 (looking back, this was totally unnecessary for me to buy!), Olive Oil- $7.69) = $24.48

Unidentified objects: $3.89 for "Farmland" and $1.49 for "Green Giant". I have no clue what these were.... = $5.38

For a grand total of...

$58.19

And without the olive oil (which was an "outside" purchase stipulated at the beginning of the experiment):

$50.50

Yay! I think that is pretty good for the week. This upcoming week will be somewhat of a challenge because I plan to cook an Easter meal for me and David. Any ideas for cheaper holiday food?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Issues

Last week I got a pedicure, and stupidly decided to shave my legs right before the appointment.

While at the pedicure, I decided to pay $5 for a salt scrub.




I still have scabs and bumps from the reaction.

Yes, I paid to give myself a rash. As David said, "there's $5 we'll never see again!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holy Week

Source

We are in the midst of Holy Week, the week before Easter and a week of many rituals and celebrations of Christians. One of my favorite masses is Palm Sunday, which we celebrated this past Sunday (and not just because I enjoy carrying my palms around). Of course, my cats tried to eat our palms when we got home. Not so holy now, are we?

Last night I went to reconciliation. I started yabbering and with only a couple of sins listed the priest began absolving me. I had to tell him to stop and that I had more to say! He laughed and said that I could continue. I will take that to mean that I look pretty innocent.

Do you celebrate Easter? What is your favorite part? If you don't, are you simply enjoying this gorgeous weather and springtime fresh air?

Speaking of springtime fresh air, hop on over to the Fabulous Adventures of Mrs. Haid, our old neighbor, and congratulate her on her beautiful new baby girl! In the meantime, you can enjoy the pictures of a gorgeous baby.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baby Shower

I went to the cutest baby shower this weekend and had to share some pictures. Below are the cupcakes the hostess served. The baby's room theme animal is an owl.
Look at the baby mobile the mother made. Seriously...how creative! The mother also made a banner with the baby's name on it.
The baby shower favors. The owl theme carried into the shower:
An awesome three-crock pot dip tray. I love this idea and must buy it for my next party! Imagine the possibilities during holiday time:
The food spread:
Everything was so delightful and cute. The baby will certainly be loved by many! I had such a fun time celebrating with the mother and friends. She received so many wonderful gifts...the most memorable being a homemade blanket and baby crib bumper set. What a gift to be able to make such beautiful gifts!

On Friday I went to Columbia to see some old law school friends. We hung out, ate way too much, and enjoyed yabbering about law school and our lives after school. On Saturday we shopped and had a great time.

I hope that you had a great weekend as well!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday morning breakfast


Yesterday morning I woke up, ran, went to mass, and then went to yoga. After all of that, all I could think about was a delicious pancake breakfast with hash browned potatoes. The day before I stayed with a friend and she made homemade whipped cream that I dreamed about during yoga. When I came home, David told me that he found a secret stash of chocolate chips, so that sealed the deal. I made pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes, homemade whipped cream, and potatoes.

Everything was delightful. I had to use water instead of milk in the pancakes, but I definitely recommend using the milk because the water did not work very well.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Now is the time

...to enjoy Easter treats! I could not resist buying Robin Eggs this weekend in the grocery store. They are by far my very favorite Easter Candy!

This weekend I visited McArthur's Bakery in St. Louis and found these delicious petit fours:
How delicious do they look? So delicious that I bought a dozen. Luckily I had people with whom I could share!

What are your favorite Easter treats?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Our weekend

We had a great weekend. On Friday evening I met my family for supper at Flat Branch in Columbia, where I ate wayyy too much pretzel appetizer, crab cakes, and salad. That evening I drove to St. Louis for this:


The Go! St. Louis 5k! It was a lot of fun and I had a great time running around Forest Park in St. Louis. Sights on the race included the Science Center, the Jewel Box, and the Zoo. So much fun! Forest Park is a great place to visit if you ever visit St. Louis.

After that was over, we went out for breakfast and visited some family members. My mom bought me some cute sandals at Nordstrom and we witnesses Toms simply flying off the shelves. I debated buying another pair but decided against it as I figured that one was enough. My mom bought a cute pair, though!

That day I drove back home and went to mass. On Saturday evening we went out with David's family for a delicious barbecue feast. After it was over, we came back to our house for some treats and visiting. I was so tired that evening after such a fun day!

On Sunday I woke up, ran, went to yoga, and petted this lady:

We had an interior design consultant come to our house. I bought an hour of her time on Living Social and it was well worth the money. She had lots of wonderful ideas and used a lot of our existing accessories and pieces to make our house look better. I relaxed the rest of the day.

How was your weekend?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Grocery Adventures: Part 2

I went to the grocery store yesterday and had moderate success. I spent more than $50, but in my original post I mentioned some rules....specifically that the $50 was to cover weekly groceries, not big purchase items. This week I spent:

$70.24

The breakdown:

Candy: $2.66 (Robin Eggs...yum!)

Vegetables: $16.64 (spinach, bananas, oranges, onion, cucumbers)

Meat: $8.78 (ground beef and ground chicken)

Frozen foods: $6.63 (frozen corn and frozen raspberries)

Canned goods: $8.52 (Rotel, Enchilada Sauce, Taco seasoning, Black beans)

Pasta/Rice: $4.65

Possible non-budget items:
Almonds: $6.99
Justification: I bring almonds every day for lunch, but only bring 25 at a time. Each can of these almonds lasts me a pretty long time...ideally over a month. Maybe a fair thing would be to spread the cost of this can over the course of four weeks? I did create wiggle room for bigger purchases, when setting up our budget, however, and I think this may qualify.
Shrimp: $6.99
Justification: I am having people over this week and do not want to serve them black beans. I will do that to my own husband, but not to others.

So, without the possible non-budget items, I spent:

$56.26

and without tax I spent:

$52.46

Not bad, huh?

How would you classify the shrimp and the almonds? Do you think that I am chickening out on my $50/week goal by allowing myself to classify those items out of the regular budget?

Friday, April 08, 2011

ABCs of Chick in the Czech

I really wanted to complete this meme after I saw others doing it, so here it goes!

A. Age: 26...too close to 30...ugh.

B. Bed size: Queen, and it is always full with two humans and at least two animals. Paco takes up so much room!

C. Chore you hate: mowing. I really dislike mowing. I disliked it when I was growing up and I told David that we were either hiring it out after we got married or he could mow every single time. I have not mowed a lawn since I got married.

D. Dogs: Paco the dog! I like ours, but quite frankly I don't like other people's dogs very often. They are too big and I prefer cats.

E. Essential start to your day: Drinking a bottle of water. I always have a bottle right next to my bed and as soon as I wake up I down the bottle.

F. Favorite color: Blue or green

G. Gold or silver: Silver, but I really do like gold as well.

H. Height: 5'4"

I. Instruments: Piano, violin, oboe, clarinet

J. Job title: Attorney

K. Kids: None, unless you count our pets, which I do sometimes.

L. Live: Kansas City area

M. Mom’s name: Constance

N. Nicknames: Fair Maiden (David), Scrabby (my family)

O. Overnight hospital stays: none, thankfully

P. Pet peeve: When I think people are being snotty

Q. Quote from a movie: Welcome to the 90s, Mr. Banks!!!!

R. Right or left handed: Right

S. Siblings: One brother

T. Time you wake up: 5:30 a.m.

U. Underwear: yes please

V. Vegetables you dislike: I seriously cannot think of anything.

W. What makes you run late: I am usually late, unfortunately. It is a bad habit and I do not like it, but it happens. Usually I am trying to make myself prettier for the person I am meeting! (HA!) I am not late for really important events (like court), though.

X. X-Rays you’ve had: My teeth? Maybe my lungs when I had pneumonia when I was little?

Y. Yummy food you make: Chocolate cake with buttercream icing

Z. Zoo- favorite animal: Giraffes, zebras, the cats


And....go! You do this meme!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

What we've been eating

I wanted to share our suppers each week after the big spending freeze on groceries. I have had to alter our menus a bit, but overall I think that we are still eating pretty well.

First up: Lemon Pasta
After all of this gorgeous weather we have been having, I really wanted to make a Lemon Pasta. It sounded so refreshing! So, tonight, I made a box of pasta, sauteed onions, tomatoes, spinach, and eggplant together, and made an easy white wine sauce (white wine + chicken broth + olive oil....season to taste). After I combined all of the ingredients, I baked the dish in the oven for about 25 minutes on 400 degrees.

Overall, the dish was very tasty. In general, I would not have bought pasta for this dish...I would probably have made a risotto. Pasta is cheaper, though. I also would have added whipping cream, buying a small carton solely for the purpose of this dish and then allowing it to go bad. Another con is that I ate WAY too much...I was reminded of why I do not actually buy pasta very often. I can never stop myself from eating about 7 helpings of pasta.

Next....fried tacos:
After reading Pioneer Woman's delicious-looking fried taco dish, I decided to try frying my own tacos. This is why I bought the chicken thighs, and I have to say that I was not impressed. They grossed me out so much that I decided to make mine vegetarian tacos and added some black beans instead. David loved them, though, and now I have two extra chicken thighs for his leftovers, so it worked out just fine.

I sauteed onion, a leftover red bell pepper, and a can of store-brand Ro-Tel (no difference). I added chicken to David's and beans to mine and fried them just as PW's post instructs. They were SO good. I highly recommend this recipe. (Note: don't eat too many. I ate three (!) and my stomach hurt so badly after because I am so not used to fried food.)

Finally....black bean burgers and steak fries!
For my burgers, I used a recipe similar to this one and made homemade hamburger buns. I have to say that the homemade hamburger buns were super easy and way better tasting than store-bought. Even if you aren't trying to cut back on your grocery budget, you should try making that recipe.

We did pretty well, don't you think? David had plenty of leftovers for lunch and other evening meals, which I love!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Bluestem

We went to Bluestem on Saturday evening and it was delicious. I had a beet salad, bacon pasta, salmon, and cod. David dined on tartare, crab pasta, pork, and beef. He said that the pork was one of his top two dishes of all time.
The best part of the meal, though, was the dessert. The dessert was fabulous. David had a milk chocolate pot with beignets.

I enjoyed a dark chocolate cake with butterscotch layers, honey ice cream, homemade marshmallows, and a chocolate log. It was so. tasty.
Bluestem is considered by many to be one of the best restaurants in Kansas City. We can see why....the food was fabulous and we certainly enjoyed our experience. I would recommend Bluestem to anybody.

Bluestem
http://www.bluestemkc.com/

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Sushi Class!

This past weekend I went to a sushi class. It was a lot of fun and I had a great time making sushi rolls! I don't love mayo or cream cheese, so I get pretty picky with my sushi when eating out. Since we got to make our own at class, I left all of that stuff out and made my perfect rolls!

To end the evening, the teacher shared some delicious green tea ice cream and purple sticky rice. It was so tasty:
Class taken at:
KC Culinary Center
http://www.kcculinary.com/

Monday, April 04, 2011

Grocery Adventures: Part 1

Well, we went shopping on Saturday and the $50 a week plan seems to be working...somewhat. We spent:

$52.46

Pretty good, huh? If you don't count taxes, we stayed within the $50 budget. Check out our loot:
The Breakdown:

Dairy: $1.18 (eggs)
Grocery: $11.32 (canned goods, flour, bagels, black beans in a bag, seasoning)
Produce: $35.75 (apples, spinach, oranges, bananas, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, potatoes, lemons, and onions)
Meat: $3.64 (chicken thighs)

Our big spending items were spinach, apples, oranges, eggplant, and bagels. I learned a few things. First, buying bagged beans is cheaper than buying cans. I also learned to look for vegetables that are cheaper. Potatoes are really cheap and can be used to make semi-healthy dishes. Finally, chicken thighs (which I will boil and pull the meat off the bones).

I did forget two things, though. The first is bacon. I usually have bacon in my evening salads. The second is frozen raspberries, which I eat every morning in my breakfast smoothie. Too bad, though...we have already spent our weekly allowance and I am not letting myself go back since we went over the budget for the week.

Last night I made black bean burgers with homemade slider buns and steak fries. Yum!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Animal Antics

I had to post these two pictures. The first is of Thorina, our cat, trapping Paco in the hallway. She guarded the entry into our kitchen with her dear life. He attempted to pass several times, but she slapped him when he finally passed. I guess we know who the dominant animal is in this house:

Next, Thorina grew very distressed when David was gone last week. I woke up to this:She had drug out two leashes and had then on display for my viewing. I asked our friend Rach (a vet) about this behavior and she stated that Thorina knew that the disciplinarian was gone and that she could do whatever she wanted. Ha. Poor Paco waited by the door for David to come home every night. Poor pup!