Monthly Archives: December 2012

2013 Resolutions

Well, 2012 flew by surprisingly fast. My big accomplishments for the year were establishing an emergency fund, paying off one of my credit cards, passing my written exam, finishing all the required courses for my program and running a half marathon. And since I’m a goal oriented girl, I hope to accomplish even more in 2013, largely along the same lines. My main resolutions:

  • Lose 15 pounds
  • Run a full marathon
  • Publish my first journal article
  • Pass my oral exams
  • Pay off my last credit card

Five things. Let’s see what I can accomplish and still have time for family, friends and fun. What do y’all plan to do in the New Year?

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The First Year

A year ago today (or yesterday, depending on when this actually gets posted) I published my first post, The Mission Statement. It’s both hard and easy to believe it’s been a full year, as cliche as it sounds. I’ve made great strides on the road to fiscal responsibility, focused my academic career, and had some fun. Along the way I’ve been surprised that while it has been challenging, I’ve rarely felt deprived; instead I feel in control and ready to take on the world. I’ve also been touched by how willing my friends are to make cheaper plans and how generous they can be. Fortunately, I’ve also had plenty of opportunities to share as well, giving of what I have, which makes me feel richer.

According to my stats, the posts that were the most popular surprised me.

5. Strawberry Vanilla Jam

4. Sweet Pickle Relish

3. Homemade Deodorant, Updated

2. No Sugar Blackberry Jam

And far and away, my most popular post:

1. DIY Scarf Hanger

Clearly you guys like my craft and canning posts. Seems I’ll have to record more of my efforts to do it myself. Seriously, though. Y’all apparently really love that scarf hanger, 5 of the top 10 search terms that lead to my blog are related to DIY scarf hanger. Also quite a few of you have issues with rash from homemade deodorant, because that shows up 4 times in the top 20.

Anyways, thank you for reading. Thanks for the advice. Thanks for making me feel like a friend.

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A Belated Weekly Update: December 21

Whoa: it’s been a whole week since I last posted. My internet decided to crash on me on Friday afternoon but I wasn’t able to deal with it all weekend since I spent most of it singing at concerts. My service provider finally got things up and running yesterday afternoon when they realized that somehow they were sending too much data (?) for my connection to handle so they cut my data in half and said that not only would my router stop crashing, but my bill would be cut too. Yay! Of course, an hour after I got back online, I was settling into my couch to catch up on blogging when I heard a loud pop and everything went dark. The electric company said I would be power-less for at least four hours, so I packed up some craft supplies and headed to a friend with lights and heat. We decorated Christmas ornaments, baked and ate cookies until I was a little sick to my stomach. Now I’m back home with the magical combination of electricity and internet. Yay!

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A Very Classy Christmas Party

So I am the Social Chair of grad student club for my department. One of my “duties” is to organize our holiday party. The last two years, I arranged a nice get together with appetizers, cookies, wine, etc and both years the same three people were the only ones to come.

This year I decided not to stress about this party: I’ve got several deadlines to wrestle with and no money in the student account. I do, however, have a Groupon that’s about to expire for an old school sports bar & grill right by campus. So, this year I invited everybody to meet me there and I’ll buy a round of nachos and cheese fries as well as a pitcher of PBR.

Y’all, I have had so many people reply yes. Apparently dive bars are the key to my classmates’ hearts. Who knew?

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Pumpkin Stew with Dumplings

Way back in the dark ages before I became a vegetarian, chicken and dumplings was one of my favorite dishes. When I gave up meat I didn’t really miss the chicken part but I did miss the dumpling part. I decided to combine some classic flavors from southern gardens to make a new hearty vegetarian dish worth of my beloved dumplings. It’s probably not how you’re used to seeing pumpkin or dumplings used but believe me, you’ll love it.

This time around I used a short cut to make the dumplings, but if you’d like a homemade recipe for dumplings, let me know!

Pumpkin Stew with Dumplings

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree, or 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups baby lima beans (frozen is fine)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups Trader Joe’s whole meal baking mix (or equivalent)
  • 2/3 cup milk

In a large stock pot, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat then sautee onions under soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add pumpkin, tomatoes, beans and broth and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 30 minutes or until the squash has cooked through (if not using precooked squash). In a bowl, mix baking mix, milk and remaining 3 tbsp oil. Plop tablespoon-fuls of the dough into the boiling soup (don’t worry: they’ll expand!) Bring back to a boil if it’s cooled off, cover again and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8.

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Cosmo Vox Box

So, thanks to Being Zhenya, I recently got hooked on Influenster, which lets me review different products, which we all know I love. They recently sent me a Cosmo Vox Box filled with products to try out. Yes, I received these things for free, but my opinions are all my own. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing

  • FriXion by Pilot Pen
  • Ghiradelli Gourmet Milk Sea Salt Escape
  • Gillette Venus Embrace AND Venus & Olay Razor

In addition, Zhenya will be helping me out by reviewing Forever Red Eau de Parfume by Bath & Body Works. While I love free products, I do not love migraines so she’ll be letting y’all know how fabulous she smells.

Cosmo Vox Box

And if you’re interested in trying out Influenster for yourself, let me know and I can invite you!

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Weekly Update December 10

I hope that everybody had a great weekend. After my crazy weekend my house is decorated, the family fruitcake is soaking in brandy and my dog is happily prancing around the house in his beloved jingle bell collar. I picked it up for $1 a few years ago, thinking it would amuse me for a few minutes before taking it off. However, the little bugger freaking loves it and when I take it off him, he stands under the shelf and whimpers until I put it back on him or distract him with a walk or toy. Anyways, enough mocking my poor pup and on with my weekly update!

Moolah

Spending: Ugh. I went to Costco and stocked up on baking supplies, then got sucked into a fundraiser for my chorus group and bought nuts and See’s chocolates. I solemnly swear that I won’t buy any chocolate, cheese, butter or nuts until I use up everything I currently have in my pantry, including all 7 (!) pounds of chocolate.

Saving: I’m counting the following as savings. When I went to my dinner party this weekend, I brought a homemade baguette and some cheese from my stash instead of picking up some prefab appetizers. When I invited a friend over to help me decorate, I made a giant crockpot of soup so it would be ready when we got back, rather than picking up takeout. While shopping this weekend, I opted against spending a giftcard I already had since I didn’t really need anything from that store.

School

This week I took a few breaks from writing to prepare giving a seminar this week. I’m really excited about the content of what we’ve accomplished so far, but nervous about getting it right in front of a group of people who probably understand what I’m talking about better than I do.

Health and Fitness

I walked, walked, walked, ate lots of vegetables, drank a lot of water, said no to seconds and tried not to inhale the entire dessert table on my own. That’s got to count for something, right? My thighs certainly hope so.

Meal Planning

Lunch: rice with aloo gobi & dal, pizza with whole wheat crust and a salad

Suppers: pumpkin stew with dumplings (recipe tomorrow!) stewed lima beans with sweet potatoes & greens

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