Tuesday, January 16, 2018

SNACKY

Now that I am back at work and having to pump milk 3x while I'm there, I am committed to eating healthy, protein-filled snacks and meals while I am there. Don't get it twisted: I have a bowl of ice cream every night. But at work, I try to eat healthy in order to keep my milk supply up and have to consciously plan ahead in order to do so. Time is of the essence, so the easier it is to grab it from the fridge and go, the better.

I'm aware that pasta is not known for its nutritional value, but it's cheap and we happen to have a lot of it stocked up. So last week, I made a veggie pasta salad to take with me to eat along side my deli chicken and I REALLY liked having something semi-cooked to go along with plain slices of deli meat right out of the bag. So much so, I made another kind to eat this week and both recipes are winners. This might be my new weekly tradition. Because if there's one thing I need more of in my life, it's definitely pasta.

Last week, I made this Balsamic Roasted Veggie and White Bean Pasta from SkinnyTaste. What drew me in was the white beans. I love them but I would have never thought to put those in a pasta salad. As far as beans go, they have a decent amount of protein. I left out some of most of the vegetables (tomato, onion, mushrooms and peppers), but when I make this again, I will probably add shelled edamame (which have more protein than white beans actually). And possibly feta cheese. When it's not snowing outside and we can get to our grill, I might add some grilled chicken to this and skip the deli meat altogether.

This week, I made Edamame Pasta Salad, a recipe I found in my most recent Real Simple magazine. I do love arugula but I skipped it ONLY because I knew I'd be eating this for the span of a week and didn't want it to get gross. We squeezed the lemon wedges into the vinaigrette instead of as a finisher at the end. We had to look hard for shelled edamame, it's mostly sold in the pod, but we found it. I will add white beans and/or asparagus to this too next time I make it, and most likely some bacon. This would be amazing with bacon.

My other protein snacks: Justin's peanut butter packs (I eat it on a rice cake) and sheepishly, Rx bars. I was hesitant to get hooked on these because of their price, but I decided I'd rather skip something else and have a good snack to grab.

What are your healthy snack go-tos?

Monday, January 15, 2018

BUDGETY

Confession: since getting married, one of my greatest hobbies has become personal finance. Every time I go down a rabbit hole and start rereading old posts on this blog I want to find the nearest time machine, travel back to when I was 23--25 and tell myself GET ON A BUDGET!

When I first moved to Nashville 12 years ago, I was paying under $400/month for rent. STUPID cheap! In fact the most I ever paid for rent, including when I lived alone, was around $800. Now that was a chunk of my paycheck but there was still plenty left over. I never went into debt or spent more than I had, but what I did have, I spent. Usually at Target, Carrabba's or David's Bridal. I made sure to contribute to a 401k and that was about the only money I saved, because it never touched my bank account.

When Matthew and I got married, neither of us had lived on a budget. Again - no debt - but we both bought what we wanted and made do. But that changed when we got married and combined finances. In fact we were forced into action when three short weeks after our wedding, we were given the opportunity to buy the condo we'd been renting. Can you imagine getting that call 21 days after "I do?" We had to assess our fiscal picture and establish some financial goals pretty fast.

We were saving for a new home, beefing up an emergency fund and planning a European vacation, among other things. And now we were buying a condo. Quite a lot of balls in the air. I used Mint.com to track our money and a Google doc to try to organize our savings into "buckets" and was transfering money back and forth between our savings and checking accounts probably once a week. Within a few months (weeks, really), I knew I was done trying to use Mint and that sad Google doc. Mint had no problem showing us what we spent; it was what we WEREN'T spending that I couldn't organize. It was like driving a car with only three wheels: I was spending my time and energy trying to make it work, but we were getting NOWHERE.

I also tried the free version of Dave Ramsey's Everydollar and really liked it. But the free version didn't offer direct import, and even the paying version didn't sync to credit cards at the time (this was 2015, right when it came out). Matthew was very attached to his credit card because of the points, so I knew moving away from that PLUS asking him to enter transactions manually was not going to work for us.

Then I found You Need a Budget (heretofore known as YNAB).

I signed up in January 2016 and quickly, everything changed. For one, I didn't have to use the sad Google doc anymore - all of our money is right there, organized and ready to go as soon as we were ready to spend it. Whether it's something as boring as a year's supply of contact lenses, or a ten-night trip to Italy, we are able to point the dollars where we want them to go and park them there until they're needed. In fact, within a few months of using YNAB, we closed our savings account. Yup. Went back to the bank and everything. Because we no longer were constantly moving money out of our checking account and into savings (where it couldn't be debited away) our bank actually FINED us for inactivity. And now we are those textbook YNABers who neither have a savings account nor monitor their checking account balance. YNAB tells us everything we need to know. And I mentioned Matthew was attached to his credit card points: YNAB makes paying for things on a credit card SO easy. They have it nailed.

In 2016, we took that European vacation. In 2017, we bought a home and had our first child. Thanks to YNAB, we are able to do all of these fun and exciting things while also prioritizing the not-so-exciting stuff like new tires, those boring contact lenses or God-forbid, a real emergency.

In case you can't tell, I'm pretty passionate about this stuff. I plan to share a lot about budgeting and personal finance on here moving forward. It's amazing how finding the right product that works can change your outlook on money. If you had told me ten years ago that I would be so enthusiastic about budgeting, I would have laughed at you. I have tried to share my joy for YNAB with friends; so far I have made one convert (what up, Eric!) but I'm not giving up on the rest of you easily. Peace of mind is the best gift you can give yourself! I am so thankful to YNAB for providing that not only for me and Matthew, but now for our child too.

PLEASE email me (Lindsay@pearlsofwit.com) if you have questions about this program! I could talk about it nonstop.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

STRUCTURED

Well, my first week back at work/my son's first week at school has come and gone and ended quite dramatically: our first snow day! Indeed, parading across the bottom of the TV screen alongside classics like Grandmama's House of Tiny Town and Linda's Little Lambs (both real places) was our daycare, signaling that at least two of us would be staying in our pajamas yesterday. Partner that with being off work Monday and hello, four-day weekend!

We all survived our first week in our new normal, but if nightly intake of ice cream is any indication, my son is definitely handling the transition better than me. Speaking of ice cream, allow me to go on record here: Breyer's chocolate peanut butter ice cream is THE BEST ice cream in the history of ice cream. I should know, I tried them ALL while pregnant. Twice. But once I entered into this frozen nirvana I never went back. It can't be beat. Try it and tell me I'm wrong, I dare you. I don't even care if other ice creams are BOGO at Publix; I'll still buy this one and it'll be the best $5.49 I'll spend all week.

But back to the subject at hand. I cried and moaned and whined really hard before AND after this week dawned. But we're making it work. The days pass much quicker when you are pumping 3x a day, so I'm grateful for that. And anyone who knows me understands that predictability and structure are some of my favorite things, so while maternity leave may be over, at least I am back in my comfort zone of routine and order. The days may start earlier than they used to, but they start so much sweeter when bags are packed, lunches are made and dinner is planned.

I am really fortunate that my son is a very happy, very easy-going, very laid-back, very chill baby. I'm completely aware - and after that last paragraph, so are you - that he gets 100% of that from my husband. My greatest fear is that daycare is going to change that about him. Going from 1 of 1 to 1 of 8 has to be rough. What will that mean as far as expressing his needs and wants? It'd be one thing if he was already high maintenance when we dropped him off. But he's so sweet and happy. Yesterday his teacher said he was "cheerful" and I started to cry. I hope he stays cheerful, no matter what his circumstance, at daycare or beyond.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

FISHING

Lots of people have mentioned this blog to me lately. I don't know why, but it's been on my mind too. Maybe it's the new year; maybe it's the new chapter. I definitely miss writing, but when can I possibly find the time to keep it up? I'm about to have to pay to renew my domain, and it's time to either fish or cut bait.

I'm gonna try to fish, y'all.

But first, let's catch up.

February makes five years since I met my husband and what an amazing five years we've had. I will tell you about some of our adventures in some upcoming posts (if nothing else, it will make for some easy content when I have nothing new to post).

We recently bought our first home, so all of the homeownership stuff like decorating and saving for bathroom renovations is on our plates now. Thankfully, our home is in great condition so don't think I'm going full Chip and Joanna Gaines on you. It's all I can do to change the roll of toilet paper some days, let alone a real Project with a capital P. However, I did take some drapes to get hemmed the other day. Baby steps.

And speaking of baby steps, we welcomed our little boy this fall. Oh my goodness. Y'all should have told me sooner how wonderful babies are. I mean, I knew but I didn't KNOW. I was home with him for three months and last week I returned to work, sobbing all the way.

So it feels like I'm on the edge of a very wonderful journey ahead: working mom, new house, etc. etc. I think documenting it will do me good even if no one is reading it. What do you say, shall we try this again?

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