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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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

 

Leftover Love

If you’re like me, you’re probably getting a liiiiiiittle sick of Thanksgiving leftovers by now. I could probably eat pie for the rest of my life, but I’m starting to feel a little weighed down by all the butter I’ve been consuming, and one can only eat turkey and green bean casserole for so long before turning the color of said beans.

Quick side note: not to toot my own horn or anything, but I make the best leftover turkey sandwiches on EARTH. My secret? Mashed potatoes. COLD mashed potatoes. Also, I keep things simple. I grab a leftover dinner roll (I never have sandwich bread in my house, and dinner rolls work just as well, if not better), split it, spread COLD mashed potatoes on that sucker, and top with cold turkey and a sprinkle of kosher salt. That’s it. I ditch the stuffing (I don’t like it…plus, why put bread on bread? I love me some bread, but that’s weird, right?) and I’ll occasionally add some cranberry sauce, but it’s perfection with just the turkey and taters. Yummmm.

Anyway…I hate to waste food, but Thanksgiving leftovers in their original form have a hard stop after about 3 days for me. After that, I need to get a little creative. My favorite way to use up leftover turkey? Turkey Tikka Masala. The warm, creamy, spicy sauce works just as well with turkey as with chicken, and I serve it over – you guessed it – mashed potatoes in place of rice. It’s delicious, it uses up a good chunk of all that turkey, and it tastes COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than Thanksgiving dinner! Not the lightest dish in the whole world, but I figure it’s better than loading my plate with scoops of mac & cheese and marshmallow covered, butter loaded sweet potato casserole night after night.

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Turkey Tikka Masala

Ingredients

3 Cups leftover turkey (I like to use white meat, but I’m sure dark meat would work just as well or better if you like it)

3 Tbsp butter

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (I love Trader Joe’s ready to use ginger paste – it comes in a tube)

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

Salt & black pepper, to taste

1 cup whole-fat coconut milk (you can also use heavy cream)

Leftover mashed potatoes, or cooked basmati rice

Cilantro, chopped – to garnish

Instructions

Melt the butter in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened; 5-7 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and continue cooking until fragrant; 1-2 minutes. Add sugar, spices, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup water. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes; add coconut milk and turkey and simmer until warmed through. Serve over mashed potatoes (or rice, but mashed potatoes are SO GOOD and you probably still have some sitting around, yes?) and garnish with cilantro.

 

 

 

A Black Friday Exchange

Jeff: Want anything from Dunkin?

Me: No thanks.

Jeff: You sure? Coffee, breakfast, hot cocoa…anything?

Me: Nah, I’m going to eat pie for breakfast.

Jeff: Did you say you’re going to eat pie for breakfast?

Me: Yeah.

Jeff: That’s sexy.

 

Ahh, the holidays. Let’s get this party started.

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Oh…and happy shopping! I’d do a recap of the best sales, but it’s way too late and also every other blog on earth did that. Google it, you’ll see!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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The world is essentially a garbage fire in 2017, and yet, I am thankful. I’m thankful for my home, I’m thankful for my friends and family, I’m thankful for my livelihood, I’m thankful for husband who always keeps my smiling, and I’m thankful for my fluffy white little nightmare of a pup. I’m thankful for the enormous privilege that allows me to have it pretty damn good, despite everything going on around us.

“I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.”

Is it in poor taste to quote a Kevin Spacey monologue at this present time? Eesh. Anyway, I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving, and don’t forget to actually, y’know, be thankful. Because even though things may suck, they probably suck a whole lot worse for someone else. ❤ ❤ ❤

Official Thanksgiving 2017 Menu

Happy Monday, friends! I may be a bit on the absent side this week – lots of shopping, cleaning, pie baking, and cooking to be done around here. I figured I’d at least pop in to share my finalized Thanksgiving menu, though (with links to recipes, when applicable) – and then if I get a few free minutes, I may just drop in with a few other little things. So, without further ado, here it is: our 2017 Thanksgiving Menu.

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Simple Roast Turkey (NY Times – I’ve used this dry-brine recipe every year I’ve hosted, and it’s by far the best turkey I’ve ever had)

Mashed Potatoes (I’ve never previously used a recipe, but I’m going to try this method from The Kitchn this year)

Turkey Gravy (No recipe here – I just work from what my mom taught me)

French Onion Zoodle Bake (Climbing Grier Mountain)

Macaroni & Cheese (No recipe here, either – I tend to combine about 5 different recipes to taste.)

Green Bean Casserole (I’ve used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe every year until now, but I saw Ree Drummond make her recipe on this kitchen this year, and, well…she uses bacon. And cheese.)

Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows and Pecan Streusal (I’ve tried fancier sweet potato/squash dishes, but everyone prefers the good old sweet stuff – who am I to argue with tradition? I’ll be putting in a couple little spins to elevate things a bit, though – orange zest and fresh ginger, to start.)

Cranberry Sauce (No recipe – I just throw in whatever sounds good at the moment.)

Traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing (Stuffing’s difficult for me, because I don’t like it -*GASP* – and Jeff’s mom makes him his favorite stuffing each year. I always feel like I should make stuffing for everyone else though, because Jeff’s is a pretty specific recipe and it’s not for everyone…I’ve tried a few different recipes, but I figure I’ll just stick with this basic recipe from Averie Cooks this year. Can I say recipe again? Recipe.)

Rolls (Keeping it real – I usually use frozen parker house rolls and brush them with butter, herbs, and sea salt before serving. I’ve thought about making them from scratch, but…just, why?)

Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo and Sherry Vinegar (Serious Eats)

Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie (Smitten Kitchen – this recipe is a bit more laborious than other pumpkin pie recipes, but it’s so good that it’s the only recipe I ever use.)

Chocolate Pudding Pie (Dinner a Love Story – I may or may not spread a layer of peanut butter over the crust before adding the pudding. Shhhh!)

And that’s it! Well, minus one additional pie that’s yet-to-be-determined-but-needs-to-be-decided-on-within-the-hour-because-that’s-when-I’m-leaving-to-do-my-grocery-haul. I’m thinking some kind of apple crisp/pie/cheesecake combo. Also, I feel I should mention that this menu is to feed FOUR PEOPLE. I repeat, this menu featuring a 16 pound turkey, 10 side dishes, and 3 pies will be feeding FOUR PEOPLE as of right now – my parents may make a hail-Mary drop in, but even then it’ll only bring the count to six. God help us.

Off to buy all the groceries – if we don’t speak, have a happy, cozy, and delicious Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Friday!

And a great one it is! Today is my last day of work until next Friday, and I’m pumped to kick off the holiday season. This weekend will be spent mostly preparing for the holiday rush – deep cleaning and shopping and such – and I also hope to enjoy bit of relaxation before the craziness sets in.

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A couple friends & I went to Joe Biden’s book tour in Philly this week, and celebrated with cereal-flavored ice cream and cocktails.

I’ve also decided that instead of ditching the gym from Thanksgiving until Christmas like I usually do (which would be impossible, since I haven’t gone to the gym in months…oops), I’m going to make an attempt to head off the 15 pounds of cookies (and eggnog, and wine…) I’ll consume over the next 2 months by hitting the gym THROUGHOUT the holiday season. Maybe I’ll also try to get a few hikes/outdoor runs in before it gets too frigid. I figure this might set me up for success throughout the rest of the year, and maybe chase the seasonal depression monster away. Wish me luck (I’ll need it)!

Start a Holiday Savings Account.

YOU GUYS. This is my weekly “I work for a bank” lecture (just kidding, it’s the first and hopefully last). OPEN A DANG SAVINGS ACCOUNT FOR HOLIDAY GIFTS (and other assorted gifts throughout the year).

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All this crap was purchased worry-free.

Look. I know not everyone has a ton (or any) extra money to save. I GET IT! I do. But hear me out: if you’re going to buy holiday gifts anyway, that money’s coming from somewhere. Right? Right. So why suffer during the most joyful time of the year when you could have some cash money stocked away with which to purchase all of your tidings? Even if it’s just $5 a month…okay, that’s only $60, but it’s a start! In all seriousness, cut out one coffee each week and you’ve practically quadrupled that monthly $5 right there.

Here’s my own personal example: up until…I don’t know 4? years ago, I didn’t really plan for the holidays, and I’d typically just charge Christmas gifts and spend the first half of the year paying off credit cards. It sucked. It was stressful, and every time I’d purchase a gift it hurt a little…and that blew, because I FREAKING LOVE GIVING GIFTS! I decided enough was enough, and I started saving $100/month towards Christmas gifts. Listen, I know $100/month may seem excessive….that comes out to 1200 whopping dollars come December (or it may seem underwhelming…I don’t know, I don’t have kids yet). And it may BE excessive for you, depending on how many people you buy for and what types of gifts you exchange (and probably is for me, considering I buy for a total of like 5 people). BUT! I also allocate some of these funds to buy holiday related decor, sometimes to supplement my insane yearly cookie baking, and for gifts throughout the year (ahem, baby showers? Wedding gifts? 1 year old birthday parties?!!!) It usually ends up working out just about perfectly for me, and if I have any left over I can just roll it over into my general savings (or save up for a KICK ASS gift for someone the next year). And now come Christmas each year, I’m legitimately STRESS-FREE (well…monetarily, anyway). It’s wonderful. I can enjoy all the eggnog and wassail and merriment and what have you til the cows come home. OH, AND I DO.

So…that’s it. Open a holiday savings account. Do it. DO IT NOW. Actually, you know what? I’m going to plug Capital One’s 360 Savings, because this is my blog and I can (this isn’t sponsored or anything, I just honestly think it’s a great account.) No fees, no minimums, decent interest (it’s at .75% APY at the moment)…click here and get some cash to start you off. Go. Do it (even if you open an account elsewhere – I won’t be mad). Jessi out.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween has finally arrived! Since we got most of our celebrating in over the past couple of weekends, tonight will be spent on the couch, handing out candy (assuming any kids show up – our track record has been pretty hit or miss, despite my efforts of supplying full-sized candy bars each year).

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Speaking of candy, what’s your favorite Halloween treat? I always liked a solid mix of fruity candy and chocolate (although when push comes to shove, chocolate reigns supreme 100% of the time in my book). My all-time favorite is the humble Milky Way bar, which people talk a lot of smack on (“it’s like a Snicker’s, only worse.” “Booo-ring!”), but I think there’s something to be said about its smooth, creamy simplicity – take your gross peanuts and kick rocks, Snickers! Also, your nougat is inferior. Yeah, I said it.

Ahem, anyway…I think if I was to choose a top 5, it would go as follows:

  1. Milky Way
  2. Twix
  3. Sour Patch Kids (although the Halloween size is admittedly pathetic)
  4. Skittles
  5. Reese’s pumpkin (I’ll also take a full size cup in a pinch)

As a small disclaimer, I’d like to clarify that if Reese’s Fastbreak wasn’t impossible to find (and possibly discontinued?!!) it would take number one EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Best candy bar ever to exist. The nougat is PERFECT, the texture is exquisite, and the salty, slightly grainy peanut butter complements the whole thing like a dream. It’s frankly tragic that this miracle of a treat isn’t more celebrated.

Welp…that was a lot of candy bar talk from someone who claims to not really even like candy bars (I eat MAYBE 2 full candy bars a year, but don’t worry – the amount of random candy and chocolate I eat in other forms more than makes up for my lack of bar consumption). I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween, and gorge yourselves appropriately!