Tuesday, August 19, 2014

You Put Your Scraps In It

Last weekend I went to Goodwill and bought the most perfect container!  It is a container to sit on our kitchen counter and hold fruit and veggie scraps that will eventually be dumped into our compost bin out in our back yard.  The previous container was a large plastic pitcher and it usually took two hands to open it, which was no good when you were holding a handful of eggshells or something gross that you didn't want to set down on the counter.  So I was on the lookout for a container that you could easily open with one hand and spied this awesome Rubbermaid canister thing.  I have no idea what it was originally, so I'm guessing it's a canister, like what you might put your flour or sugar into.   
New compost container!
This new container sits next to the coffee maker and has been a total dream, easily opening by pressing down the plunger and pulling up, all with one hand.  And it's nice and wide, which is great to hold all the rinds when you're cutting up a melon or pineapple.  Or if you're just lazy like me and rarely empty it. 

Oh, and another feature I really appreciate is that it's not clear.  Previously we had an awesome and big canister container that you could open with one hand, but it had a clear body, so once things got gross in there (as raw food scraps are wont to do), you could see that yuckiness through the sides.  Ugg.  With this container, all that messy-gross is "behind closed doors". 

All these great features in a single compost container?  That rocks my world.  And it only cost $3 at Goodwill?  Even more fabulous!

Wanna Chat?

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of August 18

I was glad this last week was nice and quiet after the somewhat-busy week prior.  Nothing too hectic before, but quiet is always good.

I noticed later that we ate primarily vegetarian dinners last week, we only had fish one night.  And we kept up our new tradition of eating in the dining room at Sonny D's request.  And I snuck some veggies in on Sonny D by making cheesy garden tots, which was shredded zucchini mixed with shredded cheese, an egg, and spices and then baked in a mini muffin pan.  I think he ate 6 that night! 
Cheesy garden tots

Sonny D and Husband Jeff were out walking to a construction site a few blocks away.  Sonny D doesn't like to walk and would prefer you carry him or ride on your shoulders.  Jeff was trying to convince him to walk on his own. 
Jeff: "It's not too far."
Sonny D: "It's not three far either."

This Week

Sonny D doesn't have preschool this week since it's the week between "summer camp" and "fall semester".  Those are somewhat sarcastic quotes there, seems silly to refer to it by those traditional school terms when it's only a touch more advanced than a standard daycare.  He'll get to spend time with his grandparents instead, so that's nice.

We've been pretty good about eating foods from the freezer, but we still have a ways to go before I'll be satisfied.  I found a second bag of cooked brown rice.... after already using up one.  So there are still a lot of things we need to eat. 
  • Monday - dinner out
  • Tuesday - dinner out
  • Wednesday - pasta with red sauce or maybe pancakes (from the freezer!) 
  • Thursday -  Finishing off the two partial packages of brats and sausages that I discovered in the freezer plus whatever bag of frozen veggies we can find. 
  • Friday - Persian turkey kofta kebabs, rice (maybe with frozen peas mixed in), and yet another bag of frozen veggies. 
  • Saturday - I think we have breakfast plans with friends, but I'm not sure, probably should check on that.  In the afternoon we are going to a four-year-old's birthday party, which will probably be loaded with lots of excellent food so we probably won't need dinner that night. 
  • Sunday - In the morning our standard visit to the nearby farmer's market, hopefully to get delicious spring rolls!  Then midday is the always fun Ride The Drive event where they close down some streets and people ride their bikes all over.  This time it will be on the east side in a new location, so it'll be neat to experience the beautiful quietness of a car-free space.  Then in the afternoon there is a thing in the ballpark near our house called Curdfest, it'll have a bouncy house, petting zoo, music, other entertainment like games, and of course fresh and fried cheese curds. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Warby Parker Glasses Update

After asking friends and blog readers to chime in with their votes for the best Warby Parker frames, it came down to the Linwood and Wilkie frames as the two top vote-getters.

Here's a refresher of the options. 
Click for a larger image.
I like both of the frames but I've also got some more frames that I like so I'm going to request another box with more frame options.  I'll show those once I get them and maybe we'll do another vote if I need help. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Help Me Pick Out Cute Glasses (That Don't Cost An Arm And A Leg!)

Last Monday I read about Warby Parker on the Yes And Yes blog post, How to be a Grown Ass Woman: Health + Personal Care in reference to cheap glasses.  I think I'm behind on this since Warby Parker has been around for a while but I had never heard of them.  Warby Parker sells discounted trendy prescription eyeglasses (frames AND thin polycarbonate lenses with anti-scratch and anti-reflective coating) for $95. They also offer prescription and non-prescription sunglasses for $95. Here's my experience figuring everything out.  If you want, you can skip to the bottom to see the pictures of the frames and tell me which one(s) you like best.  Thanks!

Research (Google Search!)

I've been thinking about getting new glasses for a while and have saved some 50% off JC Penney ads from the Sunday paper to remind me to go check out what they've got.  I was there about six months ago and found only one pair I even cared about but didn't totally love.

I thought Warby Parker sounded neat but wasn't sure what to really think of it since this was the first time I remember hearing about it.  I did some more research and found that they sound like a great company.  They own the manufacturing plant that makes the glasses and so they can sell you glasses for much cheaper.  Most glasses are really expensive because they're all made by one big company, Luxottica, and they can charge as much as they want since it's essentially a monopoly.  And any other companies left over charge the same amount, because they can.  Warby Parker is also nice because for each pair of glasses you buy, they help people in developing countries get new glasses as well.  It's particularly cool because they let those people select their own glasses, so they can get something really stylish, rather than old donated ones. 

I was impressed by Warby Parker and figured it was probably a pretty decent way to get glasses since my vision insurance only covers glasses or contacts every other year, not both.  I wear contacts every single day, so that's was I always get with the allotment.  But I could really use some new glasses.  I did some calling around and found that I've had my current 2 pairs of glasses (purchased on the cheap at Sears 4 years ago!), I figured it was time to get some new ones.  Plus my prescription had changed enough to warrant something new.  With my vision insurance I can buy things out-of-network and get reimbursed.  It's confusing, but it looks like I could be eligible for getting back $30 on the price of the lenses. 

I've got a stronger prescription, officially referred to in the eye care biz as "Coke-bottles", so I'll have to spring an extra $30 for the thinner high-index lenses, but that is still a TOTAL steal.  And my vision plan reimbursement of $30 is great since that at least covers the cost of the thinner lenses. 

Picking Out Some Options

My Tiny Noggin

I searched through the frames that work well for narrow or medium face widths and that interested me. They have very few for narrow faces but a lot for medium faces.  They have a nice filter so you can search by material, color, shape, and width. 

Available For Try-On

I then narrowed it down even further based on the ones that were available for home try-on. There's no way I 'm going to buy glasses that I can't try on first. Of course they have a great 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy so you could easily buy them and return them if you don't want them, but I'm so picky that there's no way that I could deal with the hassle of all of that.

So after looking through the options and narrowing it down to the ones available for home try-on, I had a short list of 6 possible frames that I liked best.  Since you can only get 5 sample pairs to try on at home, I removed the most generic choice in an attempt to stretch my style to something a little newer and fashionable/trendy (In the last few years I've been trying to branch out to new/different/interesting choices).

They have a virtual try-on, either using one of their models or you can upload your own picture. I loved being able to upload my own photo since it was a little closer to seeing what they might look like on you.  I also loved that they showed most of the glasses on a model with a rotatable view since they might look great by themselves, but appear totally different on a person's face. 

Requesting The Contenders

I entered my details to create an account and gave them my credit card number as a deposit for the glasses they'll send to my house. I really liked that in addition to the style, I could also pick the color of the frames, so they won't be all heavy black or weird green or whatever. You get 5 days to try on the sample frames they send.  If you don't like any that you selected, you can send them back and get another set of five frames . 

I received a cute shipping notice on Friday and was excited that I would be getting them on Monday, but there was an awesome surprise in Saturday's post, the Warby Parker home try-on box!
Tell me which one you like best! (click for a larger image)
Click on the image to see it larger and please email me to let me know which one(s) are your favorite! I've got a couple I'm leaning towards but I've also found a second set of four frames I really like and might get a second try-on box sent to me after I ship these back. 

How To Order

Once you've figured out which one you want, you go online and order them with your prescription information from your eye doctor.  The only thing is when it comes to ordering glasses, you need your pupillary distance, which is a measurement of the distance between your eyeballs so you get the 'sweet spot' of the lenses right in the middle.  For some reason most eye doctors in the US don't measure it during your eye exam (in Canada it's mandatory).  It's only needed when you order glasses and the optical department usually measures that at the time when you select your glasses. You can go to most optical departments to have it measured or Warby Parker has a neat app to measure your pupillary distance. How handy is that?!

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of August 11

Last Week 

We went to dinner with Jeff's new boss Derek and his wife Sonja.  They were really nice and we had a good time chatting with them and eating great food at Louisianne's. Husband Jeff had the crawfish etouffee and I had the catfish Louisianne with a mustard cream sauce that was so mustardy and good!

The next night I went to dinner with my new friend Heather from Zumba class.  It was another great night out chatting, this time enjoying some sushi.  I was impressed that about 1 year ago they moved to Madison from Oregon state in about three weeks when her husband received a call that he had gotten a job at the university here.  Wow!  And they didn't rent a moving truck at all, they put everything they had into a single PODS container and then drove here in their car(s).

I sneaked shredded zucchini into pancakes for dinner.  Turned out great!  I love making pancakes on my electric skillet.  Now that we have the new banquette, Sonny D says he loves eating in the dining room and seems to want to eat there for every meal.  I like the dining room too, but I would prefer that we still eat breakfast in the kitchen every day since it seems like we spend a lot of time getting up to make coffee, grab more cereal or oatmeal, throw bread in the toaster oven, retrieve forgotten vitamins, etc.

We had lunch with my step-brother and his wife at Nora's II on Saturday.  We were kind of hoping for a fun adventure at a roadside tavern, but it was pretty quiet and uneventful.  The only scandal was that they wouldn't let us order breakfast at 11:30 even though they said it was offered until noon.  The excitement for the day was Sonny D, Husband Jeff, and my step-brother all working together to win a little stuffed dog from one of those claw games.  Apparently my step-brother is a pro at them.  I suggested that Sonny D name the dog Nora in honor of the restaurant where he got her and he seems to like it. 

Throughout the week we cleaned out some more things from our office, mainly books from the bookshelf (and the bookshelf itself!), but a few other things as well.  On Sunday we attempted to take a load of books to Half-Price Books, but they insist you stay at the store with your books while they're getting priced.  I was trying to get several chores done before we had to head home for a nap and didn't want to stick around, so we'll do that another day.  But we did manage to drop off a few bags of things at Goodwill and I went inside to shop and found us a larger kitchen steamer and a new compost bin for the kitchen countertop.  It feels so good to clean things out and pare down.  For fall I'm planning to take out all of my clothes from the closet, dresser, and underbed container and assess everything, getting rid of the extras, anything I don't love, etc.  

I'm also making a tiny bit of progress in my home decorating.  I put a coat of golden metallic glaze on a piece of furniture (was my toybox growing up but now it holds blankets and we sit on it to put on our shoes).  I also came up with a redesign for our entryway closet, my plan has a high hanging rod for long coats, a lower hanging rod, and one side wall set up with storage for shoes.  I don't know if my design will work, but I'll sketch it up and see what's possible.

This Week

Yay!  A quiet week, should be nice.  I'm hoping to do more random organizing and cleaning out around the house.  For food I'm still trying to get rid of things from the freezer since it's so full.  Plus that's where all my glass Pyrex containers are! 
  • Monday - pasta with red sauce and eggplant and garlic bread.  I might roast the eggplant and puree it to go in with the red sauce.
  • Tuesday - scrambled egg tacos with sesame green beans.  I've got Zumba and I'm trying to convince the guys to go swimming while I'm class.
  • Wednesday - oven-fried fish with garden tots (made from zucchini!)
  • Thursday - cheese ravioli with cream sauce (hoping to hide more zucchini here) and frozen Trader Joe's spanakopita.
  • Friday - fried rice (carrot, zucchini, peas, and egg) along with frozen egg rolls and pot stickers.
  • Saturday - no Core Fusion class because it was cancelled.  
  • Sunday - Northside farmers' market visit.  

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I'm Crafty: Made A Puzzle Holder

We're attempting to sort through the stuff in our house and get rid of a lot of things that we don't need, use, want, or have the space for.  We definitely need to cull our possessions down, we have too much stuff.  But it is so hard to get rid of things that you think you'll want later.  Like I love cookbooks even though I mainly use online recipe resources.  A few months ago I went through all of my cookbooks and got rid of the ones I didn't want, but there are still quite a few in the "keep" pile and I feel like I can't remove any more.  Maybe that's one of my few indulgences since I love food so much and I'll just keep all of the ones I've got right now.  

But anyway, on to this awesome idea and how it connects with getting rid of stuff.  Sonny D has some big wooden puzzles that have thick pieces, which makes them difficult to stack on top of each other because they end up in a tippy pile.  I pulled out all the pieces and put them in a bag separate from the puzzle bases, but it seems like he doesn't use them at all then since he has to locate and dig out all the pieces from the bag.  So I was looking for a solution to deal with this little problem.  I've asked Husband Jeff to make a custom puzzle rack, but he has so many other projects and this wasn't at the top of his list. 

So after cleaning out our office a bit and getting rid of a bunch of old magazines, we had a few extra cardboard magazine files with no purpose.  I saw an idea on Pinterest of taping together shipping boxes to make a puzzle holder (I typically search on Pinterest to see if I can find solutions to my random problems), so I followed suit.  
Inspiration: Priority Mail boxes taped together.
I pulled out the clear packing tape and strapped all of the magazine files together. I didn't do a pretty job, but I don't really care since I just want something to hold the puzzles together and didn't care what it looked like. 
My Version: 5 magazine files, taped together
After wrapping all three of the closed sides with tape, I pulled out the puzzles and put them in the slots.  Perfect!  Now I need to track down all of the puzzle pieces and put them together and then we've got a complete, organized puzzle holder! 
With puzzles added.
If I eventually feel like jazzing it up, I can add some sticky shelf paper (Contact paper) to cover the layers of tape. I picked up a small roll of shelf paper at the dollar store with the intention of using it to make cute labels for my Tupperware storage in the cupboards and pantry, but I like my masking tape labels for right now.

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of August 4

We tried to go to a new splash park on the east side of the city but it's not open yet (opens Friday).  So we headed up the road to a nearby town's splash park, only to find out that Sonny D didn't want to get wet.  We played on the little playground instead. 

My Thursday Zumba class is cancelled and I'm trying to find a replacement exercise class.  I think I should start weight lifting, so I'm trying to figure out the best way to do that.  I know that I won't be motivated enough to plan it all out myself, so I want a personal trainer to tell me exactly what to do.  There are a couple gyms nearby and a quickie 24-hour fitness place, but the cheapest and closest option is the nearby community rec center.  The best deal would be to pay the $200 membership fee for unlimited visits for a year and then at least $200 for the personal trainer sessions.  The personal trainer is actually a mom from our Korean adoption group, maybe we can work something out

We took Sonny D to his second baseball game of the season.  I don't think he cares about baseball much, but he certainly liked the home team mascot, Maynard Mallard.  He would look around and demand, "Where da duck?" It was pretty cool when Maynard came over for a high-five and pretended to drink all of Sonny D's cup of water.

For Me & D night we picked up a package of Ivory soap and put a bar in the microwave, which creates a huge fluffy mound of soap.  Sonny D likes to play with it in the bathtub, which is a great way to spend a lot of time. 

On Sunday we ate dinner in the dining room at our new banquette that Husband Jeff built. It was lovely!  Now we need to get the paint for the rest of the dining room and put up the window treatments and then the dining room should be finished. 
New banquette, painted and ready to use.

This Week

  • Monday - We're going to have salads, leftover sesame green beans, veggies with hummus, etc.  This is a repeat of what we had on Sunday night, a random selection of veggies from the farmers' market and the garden. 
  • Tuesday - It's the National Night Out event and for us that means there will be police vehicles and equipment at the nearby park, so Husband Jeff and Sonny D will check that out while I'm at Zumba class.  For dinner I'm aiming for quick and easy, so hot dogs, pesto pasta, and roma beans.
  • Wednesday - Husband Jeff and I are going out to dinner with his new boss and his wife at Louisianne's.  This will be a good lead-in to our trip to New Orleans since they serve Cajun/Creole food.
  • Thursday - I've got a girl-date with Heather from my Zumba class, we're going for sushi at Takumi.  She's really nice and we seem to hit it off pretty well so I asked her to join me for sushi.  I thought it would be cool to hang out with her to see if we can be friends. I was kind of nervous about it, how do you make friends with a random person that you only see at exercise class? 
  • Friday - I think I'm going to go with pasta with red sauce and garlic bread.  I might use jarred sauce or get motivated to try Marcella Hazan's amazing-looking tomato sauce with onion and butter.  I picked up a fancy can of imported tomatoes so I can make this any time, but of course since we're just getting into tomato season here so I should use fresh tomatoes.  Hopefully it's so simple and beautiful that I can convince my guys to eat tomatoes.  This is also Me & D night, maybe we'll go with another bath playing with loads of fluffy Ivory soap. 
  • Saturday - I've got Core Fusion class in the morning and then we're meeting my step-brother and his wife for brunch at a tavern called Nora's II out in the middle of nowhere (it happens to be between both of our houses).  I've always wanted to go there and I've heard good stuff and not-so-great reviews about this place, I figure it'll be an adventure no matter what. Would be nice to see if we can make it to that new splash park sometime this weekend.  Dinner might be soup and sandwiches, or maybe I'll actually remember to defrost some meat ahead of time! 
  • Sunday -We'll walk up to the nearby northside farmers' market for our Sunday morning ritual.  I'm also trying to convince some friends to meet up with us for dinner at one of the two Mexican restaurants between our two houses.  

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!