Accio Luggage!

Guys…the Raums are being spontaneous!

Last Thursday, I woke to a text from Jeff (he leaves for work earlier than me) asking if we had any plans this weekend. I answered negatively, and asked him why he was asking…to which he responded by asking if we had any plans the next weekend.  A bit exasperated (keep in mind I had just woken up three minutes earlier), I responded, “?? I don’t know. Why?? Are you going somewhere?”

Then came the big reveal: Jeff had tentatively planned a trip to Universal Studios Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the following weekend! He told me he had originally planned to keep the whole trip a total surprise – like, “Pack your bag, we’re going away” style – but thought better of it, not wanting to take the joy of researching things beforehand away from me (what he really meant was, “I know you’re a control freak and completely surprising you could be a disaster,” but to be fair, I do love me some vacation research).

It’s going to be a very quick trip – we’re talking, arrive Friday evening, spend the day at the park Saturday followed by dinner somewhere, go to bed, leave at the crack of dawn Sunday morning. The way he had originally booked things was to fly in AFTER 11 PM on Friday, but we ended up changing the incoming flight to put us there just after 6 (ahem…*control freak*). This way, we can at least spend some time exploring City Walk and our resort, rather than literally arriving and hitting the hay immediately. Ideally, we’d leave a little later on Sunday, but our flight options were limited and we’d need to check out of the hotel by 11 AM anyway (Jeff hates not having a “home base” when we travel). But we’re super excited – neither of us has been to the Harry Potter attraction, and I’ve never been to Universal Studios, period. We’re not really “theme park people” typically, but we both love Harry Potter and Jeff’s been dying to go for a long time (he sneakily had us watch all the movies last weekend during the most recent snow storm). Plus, it’ll get us out of the cold for a couple of days – I think it’ll be the perfect quick getaway.

So, we leave this coming Friday – we’ll be staying at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort (it’s a retro-themed resort with two huge pools and a lazy river – it’ll probably be a bit cool to swim at a high of around 73, but we won’t really have time anyway, so that’s okay), and Jeff purchased park-hopper passes for Saturday, which means we can go between Universal Studios – where Diagon Alley is – and Islands of Adventure, where Hogsmeade is located. The only attraction our tickets don’t include is the water park, but again, it probably won’t be warm enough, and we’d be a little short on time anyway. Jeff’s also excited to check out the Jurassic World exhibit, and I’m pumped for the Simpsons attraction. If anyone’s been and has “must do” recommendations, I’m all ears…we’re also open for dinner recommendations for Saturday evening. We’ll probably grab food at City Walk on Friday, but we’re undecided for Saturday – should we stay within Universal Studios, or venture out? What’s good in Orlando? Any and all recommendations welcome!

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A (Very Dumb) Dilemma

So, I have a dilemma. Remember how I’ve mentioned I’m obsessed with Rao’s Arrabbiata sauce (which, by the way, I need to google the spelling of every time I write it)? Well…it’s SO GOOD that I can’t NOT use it! Which sounds like…well, not a dilemma, but…I LOVE making tomato sauce! I’m definitely not above a shortcut, but I genuinely love long, drawn-out cooking processes, and no sauce that I’ve ever made is as good (and I’ve made some pretty delicious sauces).

I could use the excuse that it’s expensive (which it is), but while it’s almost $10/jar at most grocery stores in my area (which is, dare I say, ridonkulous), Target sells it for around $6, which makes it really not that expensive. So I use it basically any time a recipe requires any kind of red sauce…you guys, it’s JUST SO FREAKING DELICIOUS. Jeff loves it, too. Sigh.

Okay, this week’s edition of “Problems that are ridiculous even as far as the first world is concerned” is over. Thanks for tuning in.

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Happy Friday

This week was CRAY. An unexpected work emergency meant working frantically almost literally non-stop from Wednesday morning through late last evening, but we got through it and things are (hopefully) smooth-sailing now. Plus on top of that, of course there was the great “BOMB CYCLONE” – which just meant yesterday’s portion of my frantic work marathon was done from my couch (with a Harry Potter marathon playing in the background). I work this weekend, but I’m off today, and I’ll be rewarded with a 4 day weekend next week (which feels like such a treat so early into the new year)! Have a fantastic weekend, STAY WARM, and I’ll talk to you next week!

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Happy 2018

Happy New Year, friends – I hope your holidays were joyful, restful, and restorative.

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I just went to look back at my “resolutions” post from last year, and found that…well, there wasn’t one. So that makes my job easier today – no goals from last year to review progress (or lack thereof) on. Last year was a weird one…it felt very eventful, but I don’t feel like anything of much substance occurred in my personal life. Or maybe it just feels that way, since the previous few years were chock-full of milestones (engagement, wedding, new job, first trip abroad, etc. etc.) So, instead of reflecting on the past year, I’ll just move right along to what I’d like to accomplish in 2018.

I’m actually setting resolutions this year, which isn’t something I generally do. But this January, I’m feeling a little mentally cluttered and unfulfilled, and I know there are specific things I can do to remedy this…so I’m going to do my best to. I do want to note that I’m only going to include more personal types of resolutions – so, for example, I’m not going to include, say, re-doing our porch, even though that is one of my goals. These resolutions will be more about keeping myself happy, healthy, and sane, rather than little things I’d like to fix with my home (which will need to also involve Jeff).

So, without further adieu, here are my resolutions for 2018:

  1. Bring less stuff into my home/live with less/use what I have. Over the past few years, I’ve slowly developed a pretty hardcore online shopping addiction. It started somewhat out of necessity – I was truly lacking a lot of practical things that I needed – but devolved into buying all the things, just because they were on sale and/or pretty. Not only is this financially unwise, it’s created a lot of clutter in my life, and it’s starting to make me a little crazy. This was really hammered home after Christmas this year – Jeff and I went all out on gifts for each other (we figure it might be our last Christmas without any little ones to buy for), and while nice, it ended up feeling a bit self-indulgent, and I’m feeling overwhelmed with stuff. So, I’ve decided that this year, I’m only going to buy things that I really, truly need, and instead of shopping sales like a fiending crackhead, I’m going to invest in quality items that will last me years. This applies to not only clothes and accessories, but also home decor – I tend to buy lots of small scale things because they’re more inexpensive or seem like “great deals” in the moment, but buying a ton of tiny things just makes my house look cluttered and cheap. Instead of buying every little pretty thing I see, I’ll wait to purchase larger scale items that I really love and will complement the rest of my decor.
  2. Purge unwanted items. On a related note, it’s time to go through my storage, weed out things that I no longer need or use, and donate them (or throw away anything that’s not fit to donate). At this point, we’ve been living in our house for over 4 years, and there are still tons of things I’ve held onto since we were in our apartment “in case I need them someday.” At this point in my life, I’m lucky enough to be able to let things go, and if I really need them in the future, I’ll be able to replace them with upgraded versions that I’ll actually use. Examples include, but aren’t limited to: old, plastic picture frames from the dollar store, cheap square glass candle holders, undersized, mismatched throw blankets, cheap, outdated “placeholder” decor, damaged Ikea furniture, and the list goes on. Along with the purge will come a reorganization – somewhere along the way, I started throwing things anywhere they’d be out of sight, and I no longer have a dedicated place for everything. This is going to change in the coming months.
  3. Get our finances in order. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that the old Raum finances are kind of all over the place. We’re comfortable in the overall sense and aren’t struggling by any means, but we also don’t have a budget (at all – zip, zero, zilch), overuse credit cards, and never know exactly how much money we have at any given time (due to said overuse of credit cards). We could also definitely be saving more efficiently. I’d like to prioritize paying off any outstanding credit card debt and go back to paying cash for most things (only putting large purchases on credit cards for cash back/points, and paying the balance off right away), and working to combine our finances – with Jeff now making double my income, it no longer makes sense to keep everything separate (plus, we haven’t really functioned as though our finances were separate for years).
  4. Exercise consistently for stress relief. I’ve set fitness goals in the past, but this is different, and possibly my most important resolution: I NEED to exercise consistently (meaning at least 4-5 days every week) to manage my anxiety and keep my mental health in check. This isn’t about training for a marathon, or losing weight, or even being in shape (although that is important to me), this is purely for the purposes of mental health. This means, at the very least, moderate cardio – it has to be in addition to any strength training or core classes I take, and it has to be non negotiable. At this point I can confidently say that the vast majority of my anxiety and depression stems from periods of being sedentary, and I can’t deny it any longer – I need to stay active for my mental health. My end goal is to get over the hump where running is painful to the point where it becomes enjoyable, and then maintain it – I’ve been able to get there in the past, but I always trick myself into thinking I can let it slide for a bit and then I fall into a vicious cycle of not wanting to start up again. No more.
  5. Prioritize my health. It’s not that I’m NOT healthy, per se (I rarely get sick, knock on wood); this is more about maintaining my health with preventative care. I’m famously terrified of anything medical and NEVER go to the doctor, and if we’re going to start a family, this needs to end. I increased my medical coverage for the year, so now is the time to take advantage and start actually getting routine health screenings.
  6. Take care of my stuff. Just like I need to prioritize maintaining my own health, I need to start prioritizing maintaining my material possessions. I’m terrible about letting the condition of my things deteriorate until I simply re-buy it (for example, I bought outdoor furniture covers for our brand new patio furniture this year, but have yet to put it on after countless rainstorms and a handful of snow storms), but I’m 33 freaking years old and I need to cut that shit out. No more being wasteful – I’m going to start putting the work in this year.
  7. Be kinder to myself. As is everyone, I’m my own worst critic (can you tell? Ha!) – this fuels my social anxiety, since I feel like everyone is judging me just as hard as I’m judging myself (even though I know this isn’t logical or true). I need to start accepting myself for who I am and learning to recognize the awesome parts of myself as well as embrace my flaws. I also really want to get to a point where I feel comfortable sharing my true self with others, rather than trying to force myself to be a different version of myself depending on who I’m around. I know this is always everyone’s resolution, but man…self love can be tough, can’t it?

And there you have it…I have a lot to work on in 2018, but I’m excited for a fresh start. Cheers to what’s ahead!

Happy Holidays!

I know, I know – I’ve been totally slacking on the blogging front for the past few weeks. Holiday life took me by storm, and I have been B-U-S-Y! I probably won’t get the chance to pop in before Christmas, so I wanted to drop a quick holiday greeting before the big day. Can’t wait to catch up, and I hope your holidays are happy, cozy, and spent with loved ones.

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Things I’ve Learned as an adult

In honor of my 33rd birthday (which was yesterday!), I thought I’d share some lessons I’ve learned by …well, just living. So, without further adieu…here goes!

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  1. Sometimes snarky can come across as bitter. If you know me, you know I love a good snark session…but over the years, I’ve realized that not everything requires a dose of snark, and that constant negativity (even if intended as humor) can be draining. I don’t try to be Mary Sunshine, nor do I post inspirational quotes on my Instagram every morning (or ever), but I’ve put in an increasing effort over the years to have a lighter, more positive outlook on life, and it feels refreshing.
  2. You really can fake it ’til you make it (to some degree). I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve started something (a job, a project, etc.) having NO CLUE what I’m doing…in fact, I feel this way when I start doing pretty much anything new. But I do my best to stay confident (and obviously ask for help when needed), and 9 times out of 10 I end up successful, or at the very least, competent. I guess the moral of the story here is: don’t be afraid to go for something that seems intimidating.
  3. You won’t necessarily lose touch with your friends if you don’t speak to them every day. In my late 20’s and even early 30’s, I had this thing where I’d panic that I wasn’t seeing my friends enough – I’d feel guilty that I wasn’t “maintaining” my friendships, and that all of my friends would move on without me. In reality, we had all just grown busy with our own lives – work, marriage, kids, etc. You know, adult stuff. And guess what? Almost all of those friends are still there – I may go months without contacting some of them (or vice-versa), but when we do speak, we’re able to catch up right where we left off.
  4. That said, it’s okay to grow out of some friendships. Not every friendship was meant to be, and it doesn’t have to be a big dramatic breakup…these types of friendships tend to fade out on their own. I used to try to hold on to every friendship with everything I had regardless of whether or not it brought me happiness, but I recognize now that it’s just not necessary (and the feeling is probably mutual on the other end). If a friendship is fading away, there’s probably a reason for it. It’s okay to let it go (and if it comes back later, that’s great)!
  5. Life can be about whatever you want it to be. When I was younger, I’d worry that I wasn’t invested enough in my career, or I’d feel like less of a feminist because I genuinely enjoy domestic things like cooking and keeping my home looking nice. But now I realize…it’s my life, and I can value whatever I want. Just because I love making dinner for my family doesn’t mean that I believe all women SHOULD be shackled to the kitchen. I’ve realized that I value family and home life more than I value having a high-powered career, and that’s okay – it doesn’t make me any better or worse than anyone else, it just makes me me. Maybe someday that will change, maybe it won’t – and as long as I feel fulfilled with my life, that’s totally fine.
  6. It’s important to have views and passion, but it’s also important to know when to pick your battles. I have pretty strong political views and I care deeply about the state of our country and social issues, but I’ve learned to choose when to speak up – and social media is rarely (if ever) the place. It’s one thing to genuinely want to inform and educate people, but I’ve learned to pause and ask myself if what I’m about to post is truly for the good of someone else, or if I’m just standing on a soapbox and trying to sound smarter than everyone else. 9.9 times out 10, nothing anyone says on Facebook is going to cause someone to change their opinion, and it usually just leads to a ton of drama and hate speech. I find the better thing to do is to actually BE involved locally, show up for elections, contact your representatives, and speak up when you see something wrong IN ACTION, in the real world.
  7. But also, it’s not cool to be indifferent. 
  8. Genuine is better than “cool,” 100% of the time. This is one thing I’m still working on – my first instinct is to ALWAYS hide my excitement about things, not come across as too eager, not seem too “into” anything, not laugh too hard – basically just be chill AF, all the time. The problem is – that is one million percent not who I am. I’m extremely excitable, I get very into things, and I tend to be the one with tears streaming uncontrollably down my face if something’s funny. I don’t know exactly when I decided I need to be “cool girl,” but I definitely don’t pull it off and just end up seeming cold and standoffish. The real me is absolutely more likeable than this “cool” persona I try to pull off, and I’m putting a concerted effort into just being myself.

 

Happy Friday!

Plus some pics from the past few weeks.

Happy December! I’m kicking the month off with a three-day weekend (starting today), and I’m pumped to start decorating for Christmas. Aside from decorating, I have tentative plans to see Lady Bird with a few of my Lady Friends, and I’m looking forward to starting the yearly Raum tradition of cramming as many cheesy Hallmark holiday movies into the month as humanly possible. Have a holly jolly weekend, and here are a few pics I’ve snapped recently:

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Loving these little berry branches combined with a spring or two of eucalyptus

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The best old fashioned at one of our new (to us) favorite spots

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Thanksgiving tablescape

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Kicking turkey day off with a little cheese and boozy punch

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Thanksgiving spread (minus mashed potatoes, which were keeping warm in the slow cooker)

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Getting festive with some (very) boozy ‘nog

 

Easy solo dinner

Two recipes in one week – whaaaat?! You’d think I was some kind of food blogger or something. To be fair, this is more of a “non-recipe” than a recipe, and requires basically zero effort.

I eat dinner solo typically twice a week – on Tuesday nights, Jeff goes to Quizzo, which is near our office (we work in the same building), so he usually doesn’t come home before heading to the bar. And then on Wednesday nights, Jeff has a standing dinner date with his mom – I join them on occasion, but they typically eat before I even leave work, so I generally let them have some quality mother/son time alone.

I’m a huge fan of eating “non-dinner” when I’m by myself as discussed here (I love nothing more than a cheese plate, and I’ve been known to eat a full bag of frozen veggies and, like, some popcorn for dinner), but since it became a twice-weekly situation, I needed to figure out something a bit more nutritious and substantial. I went through a brief stint where I was working evenings on Tuesday nights and I’d usually stop by Honeygrow before heading home to finish work, but I’m back to working all days and I figure it’s a little wasteful to get takeout every week when we already eat out or order takeout at least once a week together, and I can just as easily whip something up.

Enter Trader Joe’s Cowboy Quinoa Burger. I originally grabbed a box of these as an impulse buy and didn’t expect much from them, but they’ve become my new favorite convenience meal. I rotate between these guys and turkey burgers (also from Trader Joe’s), but the cowboy quinoa burgers really hit the spot and are actually easier/quicker to throw together. Here’s what I do:

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Take a cowboy quinoa burger out of the freezer and pop it in the microwave for 1 minute. While it’s in the microwave, heat a little olive oil or cooking spray on med-high in a skillet (I like to use my cast iron for this). Separate a sandwich thin (Trader Joe’s makes decent ones, but I usually get the Arnold’s multigrain thins – I find the Trader Joe’s ones are harder to separate and tend to tear on me) and place it cut-side down in the hot skillet. After the minute is up, remove the burger from the microwave and place it in the skillet alongside the burger; season with salt and pepper. Remove sandwich thin to a plate (or paper towel, you do you) once toasted; flip burger after about a minute and top with a slice of cheese (my favorite for this is pepperjack, but I switch it up and use provolone or muenster every so often). Place 4 pickle slices on toasted bun; top with cheesed burger and avocado slices. Add a few dashes of hot sauce if desired. Devour.

I like to eat this with (defrosted) frozen edamame in the shells with sea salt, or sometimes I’ll nuke a bag of broccoli and eat that with it. It’s SO delish, it takes 5 minutes to throw together with practically no cleanup, and it’s relatively healthy. Win!

Instant Happiness

I swore that this week, I was going to start waking up early and hitting the gym before work. To the surprise of exactly no one, I haven’t succeeded in dragging myself out of bed in time to work out yet, but I did pull it together enough to suck it up and run to the gym for a quick workout during lunch today. And, you guys…it was like magic. Prior to leaving, I had been struggling to keep my eyes open and even felt like I had a cold coming on, but once I got moving, I felt like a totally new person. I’m still a tad bit sniffly (these things miraculously cleared up a cold in literally ONE DAY last week, so I’m going to whip them out when I get home), but I’m wide awake and in a fantastic mood now. I always forget how much simply moving my body can affect my mood and physical well-being until I do it, and after I’m always like, “duh!!”

A couple other things that can snap me out of a “blah” mood almost instantly:

– Listening to music

– Drinking a nice cup of hot tea or coffee

– Watching one of my “happy” shows (Sex and the City and The Kitchen are frequent go-tos, but I have a long list)

– A hug from Jeffrey

– Chatting on the phone with my mom

– Taking a long, hot shower and then wrapping up in my comfiest jammies

Pretty standard stuff, but exercise is generally the most effective – the hardest part is just getting myself to get up and get moving (that whole “objects at rest wish to stay at rest” deal is legit). Here’s to hoping I can keep it up throughout the winter to ward off the seasonal slump…

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