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A NEW RACE ON THE HORIZON


Now that my life feels like it’s back to normal I’m ready to get back into running regularly and eating healthy. There’s been so much “special” stuff going on the last few weeks which means I’ve been doing a lot more drinking and junk-food-eating than is normal for me and I’m ready to be done with it.

Last night I went out with some girl friends for Happy Hour to celebrate my birthday and it resulted in me drinking two awesome beers, one beer that was just okay, and eating nothing but fried food for dinner with the closest thing to a vegetable being a (fried) pickle.

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Ross actually joined us towards the end of the night and the conversation between he, Lynn, and I turned to the triathlon that we’ve got our sights set on. Lynn and I have been tossing a few dates back and forth for our next race and we’ve finally got one picked. All three of us are so ready to get back to training and feeling good about our bodies again!

Team Kick-in-the-Pant’s next race is going to be the Small Texan Triathlon on July 28th!

It’s an international distance triathlon, which is the same distance as the Toyota U.S. Open that we did back in October, which we’ll be doing relay style (I run, Lynn swims, and Ross rides). The exact distances for each of us are a 10k run, 1.5k swim, and 45k ride, which is basically a 6.1 mile run, 0.9 mile swim, and 24.9 mile ride.

This past Sunday was the 14 week mark until the race so I made that Day 1 of my training. I’m going to be doing 8-12 weeks of base training again and then I’ll really start focusing on adding some distance and some speed to my runs in the few weeks leading up to the race. I used yesterday as my off day since it was my birthday so tonight will be Day 2 of training. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and running!

Ross thought it would be a good idea for us to both take pictures of ourselves as we look now, and then take pictures again in two months to check our progress. While I’ve been trying to eat normal and healthy during the week we’ve both been eating utterly crappy foods and drinking quite a bit on the weekends so neither of us is in top shape right now.

Before 04-29-13

 

Doesn’t Ross’s picture look kind of like a mug shot? Haha! Other than that I think that he looks fine but he insists that he’s “fatter” right now. Pft, whatever. I agree that I’m not looking my best right now either, but what’s more important than how I look is how I feel, and I feel sloppy.

Anyway, we’re all pretty pumped up about this race and really looking forward to be training again. I’ll keep you all updated on my training progress and then update you again with a picture in two months to show you our (hopefully) totally fit and sexy bodies!

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VEGAN BUDGET PROJECT: LET’S RESUME (Week 4 update)


I have to say that I’m really proud of myself. This whole spending less on groceries is really not as hard as I thought it would be. I stuck to is consistently for 4 weeks, then our wedding happened and messed me up for 2 weeks, but now I’m ready to get back on track! As I talked about in these two posts my goal is to spend less than $100 on groceries each week. Here’s what my spending has looked like since I started:

  • Week 1 – $90.31
  • Week 2 – $91.43
  • Week 3 – $105.92 (oops…)
  • Week 4 – $84.69
  • Average – $93.09

The first 4 weeks went really well and then our wedding happened and things got tricky. I estimate that for weeks 5 and 6 I spent about $75 each week, mostly because we had a lot of family in town that we were going out to eat with the first week, and then we were out of town the beginning of the second week (I did buy groceries when we were out of town to reduce the eating out). I wish I had kept track of our spending to know for sure but with everything else that was going on saving grocery receipts just wasn’t a priority for me.

I did keep track of everything during week 4, even though I never got around to writing a post about it. So, without further ado, here’s my Week 4 Update.

What we bought at HEB: 

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  • 2 bunches of bananas – $2.48
  • 8 organic apples – $4.72 (On sale!! Wish I had gone back for more!)
  • vanilla extract – $4.12
  • 2 boxes HEB cereal bars – $4.50 (Ross did NOT like these)
  • 2 packages Gardein crispy tenders – $7.30
  • Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread  – $2.28 (this stuff is $2 cheaper than Earth Balance!)
  • 2 boxes popcorn – $3.36
  • 100% Whole Grain Bread – $2.14

Total: $30.90

What we bought at Sprouts: 

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  • 1/3 lb coffee beans – $3.33
  • Medjool dates – $5.52
  • 1.7 lbs organic rolled oats – $2.52
  • 0.85 lbs raw cashews – $5.09
  • Miso – $8.99
  • 2 packages Firm Tofu – $1.98 (this is my favorite tofu! I wish it was organic, but at least it’s non-GMO and cheap)
  • Not-Chicken Bouillon – $2.69
  • canned diced tomatoes – $1.49
  • Dijon mustard – $1.99
  • Honey mustard $1.99 (Cheaper than buying honey mustard salad dressing and a lot less calories)
  • 5 lbs carrots – $3.49
  • Fennel – $2.99
  • 4 lbs oranges – $2.01
  • 5 red potatoes – $1.89
  • sweet yellow onion – $0.76

Total: $46.73     

What we bought at Whole Foods:

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  • 0.12 lbs whole cloves – $3.60
  • 0.17 lbs cocoa powder – $2.38
  • 0.06 lbs dried basil – $1.08

Total: $7.06

Now that I’m back to normal life (is there really such a thing?) my hope is to keep tracking my weekly grocery spending and continue to tweak is so we’re spending as little as we can on groceries while still eating healthy and enjoying what we eat. This project isn’t about deprivation for me, it’s about planning ahead before shopping, reducing impulse purchases, and making use of what we already have before buying anything else, thereby reducing wasted food.

I would also like to start working some Farmer’s Market produce into my weekly haul. While things can definitely be more expensive at a Farmer’s Market than at the local grocery store I think it’s really important to support local farmers. My biggest hang up with this is actually making time to get off my lazy ass and GO to the farmer’s market. I love the atmosphere when I’m there and am never disappointed by the trip (unless I’m hoping to buy a specific item and no one is selling it) but somehow I still don’t go nearly as often as I’d like.

This week’s regular shopping is going to a little tricky. Today is my birthday (I’m 27!) so I’m meeting friends for drinks after work. That means my normal Monday shopping trip is going to have to be postponed or reduced to shopping on my lunch break for non-perishable/shelf-stable items only. I want to try to go shopping tomorrow after work but I also have to fit in a 45 minute run (team Kick-in-the-Pants is training for another triathlon!) and a gym workout with Lynn.

I will update you all with my progress as well as a recipe of some kind and maybe even some pictures of what I’ve been eating! Meals lately have been really simple and don’t seem that picture/blog-worthy but I guess if I like eating simple things sometimes then you guys might too, so I’ll try and share it for some inspiration!

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RECOVERING FROM THE WEDDING


Hey guys, I’m back! Ross and I got married on Saturday so I took off of work starting at noon on Thursday to spend time with family and get things done and I’m finally back today (Wednesday).

I have a lot of posts that I want to write for you regarding the wedding, the food we had, updates on the Vegan Budget project, what my plans are for running now that I’ve got some more time on my hands, etc. For now, though, here are a couple of pictures from this weekend to tide you over.

The wedding was perfect and better than I ever imagined it would be!

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Me and Hannah (my maid of honor) getting ready for the rehearsal dinner.

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Me, Hannah, and Mattia (my new sister in law – Ross’s brother’s wife) at the rehearsal dinner.

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One of the groomsmen made me a kale bouquet from his garden for the ceremony rehearsal! I loved it!!

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Putting my makeup on was not easy because the lighting in the bridal dressing room was awful.

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Mattia got some cute candid shots (that look completely posed and professional) while our hired photographer was shooting Ross and the groomsmen before the ceremony.

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I think that my bridesmaids all looked absolutely gorgeous that day and I couldn’t be happier with the dresses that they all picked out.

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After we did all the group photos I needed a bit of time to myself before the ceremony started.

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Look at all those beautiful purple flower poms!!

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WEDDING: DECIDING HOW MUCH ALCOHOL TO BUY


Ross and I knew right away that we wanted to have alcohol at our wedding but we wanted to keep it simple and affordable (i.e. wine and beer only). Back in June I had a wine tasting night with my bridesmaids to help decide what kind of wine to buy. Each girl was charged with bringing a bottle of wine that was less than $10 a bottle (the cheaper the better) and we tasted them all and voted on our favorites. A month or two after we selected the wine for the wedding I came across and article discussing boxed wine and bottled wine. I don’t remember now where I found the article or what it was called but it insisted that boxed wine is just as good quality-wise as bottled wine, and it’s much more affordable due to the way it’s packaged.

I was officially convinced. My girls and I scheduled a new wine tasting night and everyone brought some boxed wine instead. The white was a really easy decision but the red was a close call. Here are the two kinds we decided on:

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Once I had the wine picked out I started to stress over how much we would need to buy. About two weeks later A Practical Wedding posted this post that pretty much spelled it out for me!

Source: http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/01/calculate-alcohol-for-wedding/
Source: http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/01/calculate-alcohol-for-wedding/

After I read this post several times (which I really recommend you do if you’re planning your own wedding) I made my own breakdown and formula to help me figure out how much we’d need to buy. Click the image below to enlarge.

alcohol

 

 

As for the kegs for the wedding I left that completely up to Ross to decide. We both agreed that we wanted one local beer and one beer that would please just about anyone. In the end he decided on Shiner Bock (from Shiner, Texas) and Dos Equis. Which reminds me that I need to get limes when I’m at the store today!

That’s just a quick post for those of you who might be wedding planning and stressing over alcohol. I’ll update this post after the wedding with how much alcohol we had left over or if we ran out!

 

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WEDDING: LIKES AND DISLIKES OF WEDDING PLANNING


With just THREE DAYS to go until our wedding I thought I would share with you some of the things I loved about wedding planning and some of the things that I hated about wedding planning.

What I LOVED About Wedding Planning

  • Having the BEST bridesmaids in the whole freaking world. They made the whole process fun and we’re all there for me when I needed them. I am so lucky! 
  • Planning a big party for friends and family
  • Having an excuse to make out-of-state and out-of-town friends and family come see us
  • Having DIT craft sessions with my best girl friends every two weeks. I loved having an excuse for all of us to HAVE to hang out. (DIT = Do It Together)
  • Having several wine tastings with my girl friends to pick out what wine we wanted for the wedding
  • Trying on wedding dresses
  • Writing my vows and imagining me reading them to Ross in front of our friends and family. I teared up every time.
  • Working with my officiants (who happened to be two of my best friends) and creating an amazing ceremony.
  • That my officiants didn’t ask me a million questions about what I wanted. They took my ideas and ran with them, relieving me of the burden of having to think about it anymore.
  • Cake tasting!
  • Hearing people tell me that I’m organized. It made me feel like I wasn’t screwing everything up or doing it all wrong.
  • Knowing that no matter what things go wrong the day of the wedding Ross and I are still going to get married! I get to spend the rest of my life with a really awesome guy and I’m so excited for our future together!

What I HATED About Wedding Planning

  • Menu planning. I’m vegan and Ross isn’t. I do not come from a family of picky eater but Ross does. How do you really make sure you have enough food for everyone and that people are going to like it?
  • Having to take SO MANY different people into consideration while planning a special occasion. It’s not easy. 
  • Having to plan and plan for months and then try be organized enough to hand everything over to other people the day of the wedding  and pray that it’s all going to be okay. There are SO MANY details that I have to remember to pass on, like who ever puts out the crackers needs to know that the gluten-free crackers cannot go in the same basket as the regular crackers.
  • Having to make decisions about details that I didn’t give a shit about (envelope fonts… who cares?).
  • People not listening when I say, “This is what I like but you can take the idea and run with it” and them still asking me to approve all the details. I do not like to micromanage people, I like to trust competent people to get the job done.
  • People telling me that my wedding registry wasn’t good enough.
  • When people would criticize the decisions that I’d made – verbally or silently (You may be biting your tongue but that leaves an awfully pregnant silence in our conversation).
  • People trying to make me do things I didn’t want to do, register for things I didn’t want to register for, or not listening when I said I wanted to keep it simple.
  • People making me feel like the things I wanted weren’t good enough for a wedding.
  • When people would refer to the wedding as my big day or being all about me. NO! This wedding is just as much about Ross as it is about me, damn it!
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WEDDING: THE TIMELINE


There are a lot of things about wedding planning that stressed me out that I didn’t think would. Making the timeline/schedule of events was one of those things. I started making the timeline a few months ago to give my out-of-state officiant an idea of what to expect for that weekend. It was pretty easy for the most part, until it got down to figuring out how much time would be needed for things like hair appointments and pictures.

I agonized for a while and luckily some other blogs put up some posts (like this one and this one) that helped me to figure things out a little better. Once I had that down I was still left with the task of figuring out what time I wanted to do things during the reception like special dances, toasts, cake cutting, etc.

I searched and searched for ideas online and finally settled on what I think is good. Then when I told Ross my plan he scoffed at it a bit, but I held firm that the decision had already been made! I couldn’t take stressing over it any longer. Here’s what I came up with (click on the images to enlarge).

Timeline for Friday

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Timeline for Saturday – before the ceremony

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Timeline for Ceremony and Reception

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Even with it already typed out and sent to people I’m still stressing over it, wondering if everything will go smoothly, if I’ve allotted enough time for pictures, if guests are going to leave before the cake is cut, etc.

On another note, do you want to know what I’m not stressing over? Decisions that Ross and I have made that other people don’t agree with. Some people don’t think it’s a good idea for us to make s’mores and roast hot dogs later on in the night. Some people think it’s tacky that our slideshow is going to be displayed on a white sheet hanging on the wall. Some people think it’s crazy that we’re not doing a bouquet toss or a garter toss. Some people don’t think we should see each other before the ceremony.

Even though I’m not stressing over these things I am tired of people telling me how they feel about them. At this point in the process, if you don’t like something then just tell someone else behind my back because I’m not really sure I want to hear it. The only exception is if it’s going to cause a serious problem in the night (i.e. If I was planning on having sparklers but you know it’s against the rules for our venue).

Speaking of opinions… If a bride says, “I’m making paper mache penguins for the decorations. Which penguin do you like better?” she wants to know which one you like better, not that you think penguins are stupid. All that’s going to do is piss her off and make her not want to ask your opinion in the future. If you’re really against the penguins the best way to approach the situation is to make a helpful suggestion. “I like this penguin the best. Ooooh, but you know what? I bet flamingos would be even better! What do you think of that? Oh, oh, or maybe humming birds. They’re so tiny and romantic!”

If she likes your suggestion she’ll take it, or maybe this will get her thinking about other options, or maybe she’ll still go with penguins anyway because it’s her wedding and that’s what she wants. At least this way you probably haven’t pissed her off.

Now, with all of that said, if any of you have experience with weddings and have a suggestion about the timeline (not the events on there but the actual timing of things) let me know. Those are the kinds of suggestions that I find helpful! : )

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WEDDING: 10 DAYS TO GO


Holy shit, I’m getting married in 10 DAYS! It just doesn’t feel real to me. I have the same feelings in my stomach this week as I did in the final days leading up to my senior prom. I knew that it was a once in a lifetime event and I’d spent months (uh, years really) thinking about that day and idealizing it in my head. What would it really be like? Would it live up to all my expectations?

When I first starting writing posts about my upcoming wedding I thought they would be a lot of How-To posts about all the cool DIY stuff I was doing for my wedding (kind of like this blog). It turns out that I have no desire to teach you how to do the things I did for my wedding. I’d rather just sell it all to you on Craigslist after it’s over (seriously, when I post pictures let me know if you see anything you want, including my dress).

I do want to show you the adorable flower girl basket that I made!

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The heart looks black in this picture but it’s purple. I’d also like to show you how adorable my nephews are going to look as ring bearers.

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So stinking cute I can barely stand it!

There are lots of details about our wedding that I’m excited about and want to share with people for potential inspiration but I just don’t have the desire to photograph them all myself. I will be sure to post the professional pictures of the (what I think is) cool shit and kinda-sorta tell you how to do it.

I know that I said this in my last update but I want to say it again: I am so tired of planning this wedding. It’s going to be a wonderful day and I’m sure I’ll cherish it forever but right now I just can’t wait for it to be over.

I don’t think I really have much left on my to-do list! Let’s take a look.

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I feel like I’ve gotten a lot accomplished and like I’m finally almost done. especially when I look at my original checklist (click to enlarge).

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My bachelorette party is this weekend and I’m ready to leave NOW! I’ll be back with more specific updates on things like how we figured out how much alcohol to buy, how I decided on a wedding timeline, plus whatever other fears pop into my mind between now and then! Stay tuned :)

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VEGAN BUDGET PROJECT: WEEK 3… OOPS


In case you missed the first few posts in this series you can find the original Vegan Budget Project post here, the Week 1 update here, and the Week 2 update here. I also submitted this to Healthy Vegan Fridays!

I was nervous about Week 3. The first two weeks were a breeze for me because I had so much food in my pantry that I could eat my way through. By week three my shelves were starting to look a little bare and I knew that it was going to take a little more willpower for me to be successful at keeping our weekly spending under $100.

Week 1 spending: $90.31

Week 2 spending: $91.43

Week 3 spending: $105.92

If you use the law of averages then I’m still doing pretty good. Our average grocery spending for the last three weeks is $287.66. There have been times in the past where I’ve spent this much in a single week! That’s crazy, I know. That’s why I started this project.

I don’t really want to rely on the average to balance everything out though. What I really want is to keep our spending under $100 each week, no matter how much we spent the week before or how much we think we’re going to need to spend the following week.  Of course if we have something special going on like a dinner party that we’re hosting I will take that into account. Although, for someone who likes to cook as much as I do I host a surprisingly small number of dinner parties…

I know exactly what we purchased this week that we did NOT need and if we had avoided them then we would have come in right on budget. Before I get to that, though, let me show you everything we bought.

Here’s what we got from HEB:

  • Frozen Corn – $2.48
  • Gardein Crispy Tenders – $7.30
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes – $1.03
  • 2.8 lbs White Seedless Grapes – $5.62
  • 2 Bunches of Bananas – $2.30
  • Cilantro – $0.28
  • 2 Cucumbers – $1.48
  • Red onion – $1.41
  • 1 bunch of kale – $0.98
  • 5 organic pink lady apples – $8.20
  • Balsamic vinegar – $2.86
  • 1 can diced chipotle tomatoes – $0.75
  • Wing sauce – $1.58
  • 2 pkgs Quaker Rice Cakes – $4.00
  • Multi-grain bread – $2.14
  • 100% Whole Wheat Tortillas – $2.18
  • XL Tortillas – $2.84
  • Unsweetened Almond Milk – $2.00
  • 100% Whole Wheat Penne Pasta – $1.00
  • 100% Whole Wheat Spaghetti – $1.00
  • 2 boxes popcorn – $3.36
  • Kashi cereal bars – $5.96

Total – $60.75

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Some of this shopping was a little over zealous, as we still have the following: all of the whole wheat tortillas, 1 of the cucumbers, most of the kale, one box of spaghetti. But those are things that will help reduce our spending for this week!

Ross went back to HEB by himself to get the following:

  • Large canister of Gatorade – $7.68
  • Shot Bloks – $1.25
  • Sales tax – $0.74

Total – $9.67

The things that we could have done without that would have saved us from going over budget? The two packs of rice cakes and the shot bloks. We had a pack of shot bloks at home that Ross didn’t know about and the rice cakes were just fun snacking. Unfortunately these items were purchased on Monday before I knew what the rest of the week’s shopping would look like.

Here’s what we got at Costco: 

  • 2.5 lbs spinach – $4.29
  • 2.5 lbs peanuts – $4.99
  • 3 half-gallons of almond milk – $7.69
  • Organic spring mix salad – $3.99

Total: 20.96

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Here’s what we got at Whole Foods:

  • 3 lbs frozen blueberries – $9.99
  • ¼ lb organic coffee beans – $2.53
  • Tiny bag of cocoa powder – $1.02

Total: 13.65

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I am going to have to start buying coffee in larger quantities than 1/4 of a pound. That will last one week if I don’t drink coffee on the weekends with Ross, but if I do (like I did this weekend) then it only lasts us a few days. I’ve heard that Costco has really good prices on organic coffee beans so I think I’m going to check that out the next time I’m there!

Here’s what the breakdown looks like in my nifty spreadsheet:

groceries

And here’s what we ate this week:

Monday: Breakfast: green smoothie. Lunch: leftover chickpea and quinoa salad. Dinner: Me: more leftover chickpea and quinoa salad and leftover rice/beans/mushroom burrito filling without the tortilla. Ross: Pasta with marinara sauce

Tuesday: Breakfast: Cereal (3/4 cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup granola, ½ cup oats, 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, 2 tbsp raisins, ¾ cup soy milk). Lunch: leftover chickpea and sweet potato curry. Dinner: we ate the same dinner – chipotle chikin mac n cheeze (click here for the recipe) and salad.

Wednesday: Breakfast: green smoothie. Lunch: leftover chipotle chikin mac n cheeze and salad. Dinner: Me: more leftover chipotle chikin mac n cheeze (I love that stuff!) Ross: Gardein wrap and a salad

Thursday: Breakfast: Green smoothie. Lunch: leftover chickpea and sweet potato curry. Dinner: Me: Huge salad and toast, Ross: Gardein wrap and a salad

Friday: Breakfast: my favorite cereal. Lunch: a twist on the chipotle chikin mac n cheeze with the leftovers (I added black beans and salsa) Dinner: Burgers and fries from Elevation Burger for $14. They have a vegan burger that’s really good (and you can see  the vegetables in the patty!). See the ingredients below. We also got some ice cream for $9, keeping us under our $30 date night budget.

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(I can definitely make a better veggie burger at home (and actually the fries I make are better than theirs too) but it was nice to be able to go out and get a pretty decent veggie burger.)

Saturday: Breakfast: pancakes. Lunch: Hannah and I went to Texas Veg Fest! We ate so much good vegan good! Dinner: ordered pizza at Hannah’s house from Promise Pizzza.

Sunday: Breakfast: Two bowls of cheerios and two pieces of toast. Lunch: chips and guacamole, and a Mexican salad I made (recipe below). Dinner: Leftover twist on the chipotle chikin mac n cheeze.

This week it was really nice to have some frozen leftovers on hand! I also have a couple of servings of leftovers from things I cooked this week that will be eaten next week, which is great. I felt like I ate a lot of crap this past week (albeit really great tasting crap) so I am going to try and do a better job this next week. I also really need to incorporate more veggies! I’ve really been slacking off on the veggies lately.

Mexican Black Bean Salad

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups)
  • 1.5 cups frozen corn, thawed but still cold
  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried kamut wheat berries or brown rice (sometimes I even use a can of chickpeas instead)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • juice from 1-2 limes (taste and decide)
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1.t tsp cumin

1. Kamut is a very chewy grain (reminds me a little of barley) and I love it in this salad! I buy it from the bulk bins at Whole Foods but Bob’s Red Mill sells it too. Soak the kamut overnight. Rinse, add to a pot with 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let summer until tender (about 45 minutes). Pour off extra water. If you’re like me and never remember to soak things overnight you will need about 3 cups of water and the cooking time will be closer to 2 hours. I actually cooked mine in a pressure cooker, which takes 3 cups of water and 35 minutes without pre-soaking.

2. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Serve chilled.

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WEDDING: 17 DAYS TO GO!


I cannot believe that I’m getting married in two and a half weeks. The biggest “wow” for me right now is thinking about having a different last name. I’m completely okay with changing my last name and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do but as it gets closer to actually happening it feels a little weird. Not bad, just weird.

In case you’re wondering, I am so tired of wedding planning. It’s been fun but I’m over it. Making most of the decorations ourselves has been awesome and it was really nice getting to spend so much time with my bridesmaids and other friends leading up to the wedding. I had people tell me that I was trying to do too much and that I would end up stressed out before it was all said and done. For the most part that hasn’t been the case. For me the tiring part is in all of the details…

Figuring out who is going to be in charge of each aspect of decorating the day of since I’ll be getting my hair done and whatnot; making sure that people know things like not to put the gluten-free crackers in a basket with the wheat crackers, or that when it appears the boxed wine is empty it’s not; making sure we have a babysitter for the childcare room or servers to work the reception (we want them to be people we know. That’s not as easy as it sounds); wondering who is going to make sure all the decorations leave the hall at the end of the night and don’t get thrown away or destroyed since I want to sell a lot of them on Craigslist after the wedding…

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I also have questions going through my head like whether or not I need to have a spot picked out where we’re going to take all of our photos or if my photographer will figure that out. Also, how do you know the order in which people are supposed to walk down the aisle? I have Googled it and haven’t really come up with a specific order. That means I can do it however I want, right? We have a flower girl and two ring bearers. Who goes first? My guess is the boy with the rings, the boy with the sign that says, “Here comes the bride” and then the flower girl. Yes? No? So all the bridesmaids come before them? I don’t want to groomsmen to escort the bridesmaids so is it okay for them to escort female family instead?

It can also be tough making decisions and sticking with them no matter what other people’s opinions are. No, I do not want to do a bouquet toss. No, you may not read the ceremony before the wedding. Yes, Ross and I are going to spend the night together the night before the wedding and see each other all dolled up before the ceremony. Yes, we’re going to play our slideshow on a white sheet no matter how tacky you think that is.

Ross and I are going to serve lots of appetizers in place of a meal. I’m pretty sure that we’re going to have enough food but we’re using two different caterers so it’s a little hard to tell. Should we serve the appetizers in shifts or all at once? Ross and I did a cake tasting but we didn’t taste the appetizers from either caterer, we just picked what sounded good. What if we don’t like it?

I know that none of that stuff matters, it’s just really easy to get hung up on. You know what matters? Ross and I went down to the County Clerk’s office yesterday and picked up our marriage license! At the end of the day, no matter how many things go wrong, no matter what gets done or what falls between the cracks, he and I will me married!!

Here’s what I still have left on my To-Do list. I’m sure there’s a lot more that I have to do but this is all that I can remember right now. Oh, I also have to find dessert for the rehearsal dinner. That’s not on the list…

wedding

This weekend is our last DIT session and then next weekend is my bachelorette party! I can’t believe it’s all so close now. What am I going to do with all of my free time (as well as my empty dining room and spare bedroom) when the wedding is over?

I am so excited for me and Ross’s future together! We’re going to live frugally and invest money, have babies, pretend we know how to garden, retire early… It’s going to be great!

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Uncategorized

VEGAN BUDGET PROJECT – WEEK 2 SUCCESS


For those of you who missed the first few posts, you can read about my goal for the Vegan Budget Project here and the week 1 recap here. All of these posts are also being submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays so you can check them out there too!

I am so excited that week two of this project was a success! I had no doubts that I could make it work for one week but I knew that two weeks in a row would be a little harder. I know that it is definitely possible to follow a healthy plant-based way of eating on a smaller budget than what Ross and I have set. For me this project is more about changing my habits, my ways of thinking about food costs (as in I never used to think about them at all and now I do), and what I feel we need versus what we actually need.

Total spending for Week 2: $91.43

Costco:

  • 2 boxes of Cheerios – $5.52
  • 2 boxes of Raisin Bran – $7.48
  • Clif Kids Bars – $10.45
  • 2 lbs Brussels Sprouts – $3.99
  • Organic Spring Mix – $3.99
  • 2 jars organic salsa – $7.49

Total – $38.92

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Ross eats cereal for breakfast everyday so it makes sense for me to buy it at Costco. The only thing from this pictures that we’re completely out of one week later (I went shopping last Monday) is the Organic Spring Mix but we’re also really low on the Clif Bars so I’ll need to get more of those this week too. Ross eats those in between training sessions when he needs some energy but doesn’t have enough time to eat some real food.

Here’s what we got from HEB:

  • 1 bunch of kale – $0.98
  • 5 lbs bananas – $2.39
  • 1 sweet potato – $0.57
  • 1 bulb of garlic – $0.67
  • 4 pears – $1.60
  • 6 lemons – $2.22
  • 2 avocados – $1.00
  • 1 lb collard greens – $2.50
  • 1.5 lbs organic raisins – $4.34
  • 5 organic pink lady apples – $6.71
  • 2 boxes popcorn – $3.36
  • PB2 – $4.97
  • 2 bags Gardein crispy tenders – $7.30
  • XL tortillas – $2.84
  • Multigrain bread – $2.14
  • 2 beets – $0.74
  • 2 turnips – $0.72

Total – $45.05

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We ate the sweet potato, pears, apples, bananas, Gardein crispy tenders, popcorn, and almost all of the bread and tortillas. We still have half or more of everything else.

Here’s what I got from Sprouts:

  • 1/4 lb coffee beans – $2.61
  • 1.75 lbs turbinado sugar – $2.92
  • 2.8 lbs whole wheat flour – $1.93

Total – $7.46

Sorry, I don’t have a picture of the items from Sprouts. We buy whole coffee beans and grind them ourselves and this was the perfect amount to fill our little coffee canister at home. I’m going to track how long it is before we run out again so I know how long coffee lasts us. Ross prefers unrefined turbinado sugar in his coffee, which we used to buy at HEB. It’s ridiculously expensive there so we buy it in bulk now from Sprouts.

I also bought 3 bottles of Banana Boat SPF 30 (Ross is a redhead so we go through a lot of sunscreen) and a box of tampons. I had $7 in coupons for the non-food items so it only came to $19 something for those. We also bought some cat food bringing our total to $24 and change. (click chart to enlarge)

groceries

Tips for eating on the cheap:

  • Survey what’s in your pantry and try to think of what you can make with it. I saw that I had some jasmine rice, coconut milk, and chickpeas. One of my favorite curry dishes is made with a sweet potato, some chickpeas, coconut milk, and basil. I usually serve this over brown basmati rice since it packs more of a nutritional punch than white jasmine rice, but I knew that a substitution like that isn’t “bad for me” and it would allow me to use things on hand without much additional spending. All I had to buy was the sweet potato. In hindsight I wish I would have also bought some fresh basil rather than using dried. Oh well. 
  • Cook large batches! I had about 2 cups of dried chickpeas in the pantry and knew I really only needed about 3/4 cup for this particular recipe. I cooked them all anyway and then made a point of using them in other meals throughout the week. I added about 1/2 a cup of chickpeas to my salad one day to make it a little heartier and I loved it. I also had a little bit of quinoa in the pantry and decided to make a quinoa and chickpea dish (recipe at the end of this post).
  • Make substitutions. I already mentioned that I subbed in jasmine rice and dried basil for the curry dish because that’s what I had on hand. In order to use all of the chickpeas that I had from batch cooking I had to make more substitutions. In week 1 I made a taco filling using brown rice, black beans, and mushrooms, which is my typical way of making it (it also usually has tomatoes but I haven’t bought any in a while). This week I had mushrooms like I needed but instead of brown rice I had leftover wild rice in the fridge and instead of black beans I had chickpeas. I made the substitutions and it still tasted just as good!
  • Keep it simple. I find that it’s cheaper for me to throw together simple meals than it is for me to make elaborate dishes. It’s not that recipes from my cookbooks call for more expensive ingredients it’s just that I lack some willpower. If I browse my cookbooks to find some good recipes for the week that call for reasonable ingredients, two things happen: 1. I end up selecting more recipes than we can eat our way through in a week and end up buying more food than I need. We don’t need a different recipe for each day of the week. We’re just two people and most recipes feed four. Plus, Ross doesn’t even like most of the foods that I do so he usually doesn’t help me eat them and that’s even more food that I have to eat on my own. I love leftovers and am not afraid of freezing a few servings so I can have that dish again the following week or two weeks later, but it still results in me buying too much food. 2. Buying foods for new recipes doesn’t allow me to use up all the extra food I already have in my pantry. Until I have all of my extra food used up (which should be in the next week or two) I am going to avoid new recipes and just throw together things that I think taste good based on what I have on hand. Or I’ll make recipes I’ve already made before that I know I have most of the ingredients for.

My pantry is starting to look more bare lately which I actually see as a good thing! I’ll keep sharing with you the things that I’m cooking that come from my pantry but I’m really excited to attempt to buy things for recipes and keep myself in check, and also to be able to really test my budget when I don’t have a full-ish pantry to rely on.

Here’s what we ate last week:

* Monday: Breakfast: Cereal (3/4 cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup granola, ½ cup rolled oats, 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, 2 tbsp slivered almonds, ¾ cup soy milk). Lunch: leftover lentil dal and a salad. Dinner: Me – sauteed black beans, mushrooms, and brown rice with seasonings, salsa, and avocado, burrito style. Ross – Gardein crispy tender wrap and a salad.

* Tuesday: Breakfast: green smoothie. Lunch: leftover rice/bean/mushroom mix topped with salsa and ½ an avocado, no tortilla, and a salad. Dinner: Me – tofu sandwich and a bowl of raisin bran, Ross – wild rice and fish.

* Wednesday: Breakfast: my favorite cereal (same as Monday but with raisins and no almonds), Lunch: leftover wild rice and a salad, Dinner: Me – sweet potato and chickpea curry served over jasmine rice, Ross – two bowls of raisin bran and a salad.

* Thursday: Breakfast: green smoothie, Lunch leftover curry and a salad, Dinner: Me – Gardein crispy tender wrap, Ross: leftover fish and wild rice

* Friday: Breakfast: I have no idea… I had the day off of work so I can’t remember. Lunch: Green smoothie. Dinner: Zorba’s Greek Restaurant and spent $24 including tip for both of us.

* Saturday: Breakfast: my same go-to cereal that I love! Lunch: Shredded Brussels sprouts and kale topped with pumpkin seeds, raisins and honey mustard dressing. Dinner: Chickpea and quinoa salad (recipe below).

* Sunday: Breakfast: sauteed chickpeas, mushrooms and wild rice with Mexican seasonings, topped with an avocado and salsa on a tortilla. Lunch: Leftover chickpea and quinoa salad. Dinner: farro, sauteed cabbage, and roasted veggies with blackberry-apple crisp for dessert (at my parent’s house for Easter).

I’m a little nervous about this week’s shopping. I feel like there’s a lot that I need and it’s going to take some real will-power to not buy extra things and stay on budget! Stay tuned for next week’s update.

If you want to see how Week 3 went (spoiler: it was harder!) then go to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday and scroll down to my submission!

CHICKPEA AND QUINOA SALAD RECIPE – serves 4

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa 
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1. Add the quinoa and water to a pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes. 

2. Combine quinoa and chickpeas in a bowl. 

3. Combine all other ingredients and whisk together. Pour over chickpeas and quinoa and stir well. 

I like this dish best when it’s slightly warm – not hot and not cold.