Weekend Style

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I’ve been asked more than once if I dress Jeremy. The answer is no, I don’t. “But you at least pick out his shoes to buy, right?” Nope, I don’t do that either. The truth is, Jeremy is a grown-ass man completely capable of dressing himself. And, in fact, I find that when I try to impose my own sense of style on him it falls flat or looks forced in comparison.

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But I do love it when his ensemble coincidentally coordinates with one of our nephew’s outfits.

I just caught news that it’s supposed to blizzard tomorrow. My skin is sunkissed from a weekend full of bare shoulders and highs in the 70s – it was as if Spring paid us a surprise and temporary visit just to say “how do you like me now!?” Now I’m having to shift gears and make sure we’re stocked up on food and other various blizzard supplies (like blankets, board games, wine and beer). I suppose Winter has its perks too.

Weekend!

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It’s a beautiful spring day (in the middle of winter) here in Oklahoma. I think I’m going to spend the rest of my afternoon working in the backyard, soaking up some sun and making lists for my weekend.

This weekend might include:
• Getting lost in the woods with my nephews
• Beers and sweet potato fries with friends
• Sleeping in
• Rock climbing
• Stretching and painting a canvas (or 2)
• Cooking up a new recipe

What do you all have planned for the weekend?

Money | Matters

Budget

I’ve been asked a few times, in real life and on the blog, about matters regarding money, budgets, investing, etc. And while money can be a touchy subject I’m happy to share what works in my household. I also think it’s so important for women, especially, to talk about money matters – it’s been a subject deemed appropriate for men and taboo for women for far too long. And guess what, it’s 2011 and we’re still not being paid equally.

On the flip side, though, I do believe in the wise words of Notorious BIG Mo Money Mo Problems. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve stopped measuring my success in terms of dollars. I’m not interested in keeping up with the Jones’ or running in some sort of rat race. Money matters but it’s not the most important thing – not by a long shot. I live comfortably and within my means – which is what allows me the freedom to not worry about making ends meet.

So, all of that said – let’s get into the nitty gritty.

Budget
How we budget our money.

We’re not super strict with our budget. In fact, I kind of hate the word budget. It makes me itchy. We don’t have designated envelopes for our expenses. There is an ebb & flow when it comes to money and what we spend it on. Some months I’ll do a little more shopping and a little less eating out at restaurants. Other months we’ll have to spend a good chunk of change on incidentals like getting new tires on our cars. It also complicates things that I’m freelance and don’t have a steady or reliable income. Anyways, this is a general overview of what works for us:

SAVINGS
A big chunk of our money goes to savings (almost half!). But we keep it all in a high-interest checking account yielding 3.5% interest. This is a great way to make your money work for you – and it affords you a nice meal each month. Once we save enough this money goes to buying investment property and/or vacation(s).

MORTGAGE
When you own a home, especially right now when interest rates are so low, it’s like putting money in the bank. We put 20% down on our home to avoid paying PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) – that saves us about $100 a month in unnecessary fees.
* This budget does not include investment property mortgages – as that is usually covered by tenants.

GROCERIES
Americans have been bombarded with advertising that makes us expect our food to come cheap. Eating organic and local isn’t always cheap but it’s important to me. I cook at least 4-5 nights a week and we eat on leftovers for lunch. I should also note that I cook a meal for 6-8 of my closest friends every week – connecting and laughing over food is worth every penny.

RESTAURANTS
We like to eat at nice-ish places with our friends. It’s how we socialize and entertain ourselves.

ALCOHOL
I was shocked (and a little embarrassed) to see so much of our budget going towards alcohol. What can I say – we drink nice beer and wine. And we always buy enough to share with friends too.

GIFTS/DONATIONS
One of the things I love about Jeremy is that he’s frugal (not cheap, there’s a difference) but at the same time very generous.

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MONEY TIPS
Along with our budget I’ve picked up a few tips along the way that I would like to share:
• Get a high-interest checking account. And if you can, find a credit union to bank with.
• We like to put all of our expenses on a credit card that gives us reward points (for things like new kitchen appliances). We pay it off in full at the end of each month so that we don’t have to pay any interest. Meanwhile, our money is sitting in the bank gathering interest in our high-yield checking account.
• Invest in a 401k. If you work at a company that matches invest up to the maximum amount they will match.
• Invest in real estate – especially if you live in an area where real estate is dirt cheap. Like Oklahoma. Being a landlord can be challenging at times but it’s not as hard as you might think. Kelly at Tearing Up Houses is an incredible inspiration and resource when it comes to real estate matters (and she manages to be hilarious at the same time).
• Don’t buy new cars. The truth is – I really want a new car right now. But when I consider the payments, insurance and the environmental impact it takes to produce and drive a new car it’s just not worth it.

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So I’d like to hear from you all. What sorts of things do you do to leverage your dollars? Any money tips?

I’m going to continue to expand on this new “matters” series. I’m an open book, so let me know if there are any other life/beauty/money/marriage/food/etc. topics or specifics you’d like me to dive into. Help me figure out what to talk about next!

Breakfast for Dinner: Indian style

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A few nights ago I was craving breakfast for dinner but I was also craving Indian food – so I combined the two and came up with this meal. The parathas were the shining star of this meal. I’ve been attempting various Indian quick breads for a while now and this has been the most successful batch I’ve made. I was inspired by a recipe I found at Holy Cow! Vegan (one of my favorite food blogs) but found the recipe here super helpful.

I made the potatoes by cubing a boiling .5″ – 1″ chunks of potato until soft. Then I heated some oil in a pan and added the potatoes and spices to that – I found the spices were clumping so I added a bit of water to the pan to get them to disperse a little – the water boiled off and when the potatoes were browned a little I added a bag of spinach to the mix and turned off the heat.

And yes, I get the irony that I’ve linked two vegan blogs in a food post that also features eggs. As of right now I’ve cut way back on dairy and for whatever reason I’m not as disturbed by (local) eggs. I’m usually an all or nothing kind of gal but I’ve found being more moderate in my part-time vegan approach to work for me. But more on that later!

Anatomy of an Outfit: Crazy Legs

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Have I ever told you guys I’m not really a cat person? I’m not. I never had any growing up – we always had dogs – the first being a sweet German Shepherd named Ralph. And the truth is, I’ve been a little dog crazy lately. I want a big dog that could rescue me off the top of a mountain but also spoon me next to a fire. However, I don’t see this happening any time in the near future – so instead I’m trying to teach Mister Scooty Boots how to love me like a dog would. To let me kiss on him, give him a good scratch him behind the ears and get him to come to me on call. He’s still warming up to the whole deal.

Boots – Report (I’ve had these for about 10 years now – I’m finding all of my favorite clothes to be from the turn of the century)
Leggings – Olive and Tweed (I think a big dog would go nicely with these)
Tee & Scarf – Urban Outfitters
Cardigan – Target