The Chair

This chair was for sale in an antique store near Kenton, Ohio. It’s actually in a cute little town called Mt. Victory that boasts several antique stores.

I didn’t look at the price because it wouldn’t fit in the car but can’t get out of my head that I need a chair like this. Wouldn’t it make a great reading chair? Is it bad that I’m still drooling over this chair almost a month later? I’m in vacation saving mode now so there will be no chair acquisition in my immediate future but it’s nice to dream.

That exposed brick wall is awfully nice too.

It’s so important to have a great place to relax in your home. What’s your favorite room like? Tell me in the comments! I’m always looking for ideas to cozy up my home!

If you’re in the Mt. Victory area, it would be worth a stop to check out their antique stores! The drive-in theater with the great sign is nearby too!

No Spend Month Fun and Vegan Food

We’re 21 days into No Spend January and I have to say it’s been so easy that the prospects of ending it are not especially attractive. I’m thinking about continuing it for another month with a couple of small exceptions to the rules.

Weekends and most evenings have called for quiet times at home. I’ve had time to read, watch movies and catch up on chores around the house. It’s like a staycation every weekend.

Purging and organization projects have revealed some disturbing patterns. For example, just how many half used bottles of bathroom cleaner and conditioner does a gal need? I even discovered that I have two copies of Outlander Season three on dvd that I don’t remember buying.

Either of them.

The month began with a list of areas to purge like my sock drawer, kitchen cabinets and movie collection. About two-thirds of the list is complete. I also have a list of things to do instead of shopping or spending money but I haven’t referred to it even once. It’s going to sound weird but it’s sort of fun to just spend some time inventorying and appreciating what you have.

Cooking has been more fun this month and there’s been a fair amount of experimentation in the kitchen. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make vegan baked goods that resemble their non-vegan counterparts. Removing eggs and butter from the equation is harder than it sounds. While there is a vegan butter on the market, I refused to remove one processed food from my diet only to add in another.

Even with cooking more and experimenting a lot, I’m eating extremely well for less money than normal. Plus there’s been a lot less kitchen waste which is extremely pleasing.

I ran into Wal-Mart for cat food and also to TJ Maxx in search of a gift last week. I wasn’t tempted to buy a single thing and didn’t even buy the gift because everything just looked like cheap, unnecessary crap. A month ago I would have been all over the clearance section and would have walked out with a bag of stuff I didn’t need.

That, my friends, is a huge accomplishment.

For all this progress, there’s still much to do. First, I need to figure out this vegan baked good thing. And, at odds with this goal, is my desire to exercise more consistently. I’m still working toward that goal to run a mile. Perhaps another four weeks will get me there.

Are you interested in trying a No Spend Month? It doesn’t have to be as hard or as austere as it sounds. You set your own rules and have the ability to make a No Spend Month what you want it to be.

My rules are as follows:

  1. Pay all bills on time.
  2. Continue saving money for future goals including retirement, emergencies, vacation, etc.
  3. Buy groceries but attempt to use out of the pantry and freezer stockpile. Avoid buying processed foods by preparing fresh and healthy alternatives.
  4. Buy things that are needed. If I damage my work shoes, they need to be replaced but a cute pair of shoes that I don’t need aren’t part of the equation.
  5. Buy gas but make an effort to batch errands and to not drive unnecessarily.
  6. Seek free entertainment. For me, that’s hiking, photography, reading, play piano, movies and other hobbies.
  7. Write down wants and needs instead of buying immediately. So far the list doesn’t exist because I don’t need or want anything but the idea behind this is to delay gratification and to plan purchases.
  8. No more shopping for entertainment. No Amazon and no browsing for entertainment.
  9. Plan as much as possible. I can stop for gas but having a reusable water bottle and a snack in my bag means there’s no reason to go inside for a drink.

There were a couple of exceptions to the rules this month. Dinner and a movie with a friend (it was a delayed Christmas celebration), a retirement gift for a friend at work and retirement cards for some others were planned. I ate out a few times but, aside from that dinner with a friend, it was always because I had to while traveling for work. So far, I’ve stayed in budget and that’s ok.

If I continue this into February, there’s a comedian I want to go see and my mother’s birthday is in February. Other than that, there aren’t many reasons to spend money.

You can make up your own rules and make the exercise what you want it to be.

So who’s in? Anyone else want to try a no spend month? February is the shortest month of the year so it’s a great time to try!

Around here

It’s a three day weekend for me so today marks the halfway point rather than the end of the weekend.

I’ve accomplished some things this weekend and failed miserably at others.

Yesterday featured some cleaning projects. This was a requirement because the house was littered with cat toys and things that little Scout had knocked on the floor. Johnny Cash sang about killing a man in Reno just to watch him die. Scout knocks things over just to watch them fall.

But my work ethic didn’t last long. It was raining and cold so I ended up in a comfy chair, determined to finish this book so I could move on to some less traumatic material.

This book is graphic, emotional and compelling. The author expertly weaves the story of Emmett Till into the context of the Jim Crow south to create a narrative that’s impossible to put down and hard to stomach all at the same time.

How anyone could be so hateful, so intolerant or so so certain of their superiority over another group of humans is beyond me. And yet, it relates closely to a lot of the sentiments we hear today in this country about immigrants and still about African Americans.

Around here, I’m also doing some cooking this weekend. Today I’ll make a bean and veggie soup, pancakes for the freezer and some granola for the pantry. Yesterday I adapted an internet veggie burger recipe to meet my needs and to use up some odds and ends of leftovers in the fridge.

It was far better than store bought veggie burgers and I know exactly what went into the mix. Interested? Here’s the recipe:

Brandi’s Quick Break From Reading To Make Dinner Veggie Burger

1 can pinto or black beans (drained and well rinsed)

3 Tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 Tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat but use what you have)

1/2 cup cooked vegetables – I didn’t cook mine but ran them through the food processor so they were finely chopped. Mine were onions, carrots, corn, spinach and mushrooms

Run the beans through the food processor and mix well with the other ingredients. Shape into patties and place on parchment paper. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for nine minutes on each side or until a bit crisp.

This is an extremely forgiving recipe because it’s designed to use up what you have. Don’t have tomato paste? Use ketchup or maybe some salsa! Whatever veggies you have will do. Want to add a favorite seasoning? Go for it. Can’t eat them all right now? Freeze them.

It really is easy. My apologies for having no photo to share.

Instead, I will leave you with this image. I dared to move Scout’s tent from the kitchen to make mopping the floor a little easier. Here’s the aftermath. It seems there was some kind of riot.

Here’s hoping today is a good day for us all and that I make it back to the list of things I failed miserably at today!

Still Waiting For Snow

This winter has been extremely mild. So mild, in fact, that we’ve hardly seen any snow. Everyone is ecstatic except for me.

Ohio is bleak and ugly in the winter time. Trees are stripped of leaves. The grass is dead and things are muddy because we’ve seen lots of rain in lieu of snow. It’s depressing.

Snow makes everything look pretty, as though the world has been tucked in for a long nap under a fluffy white blanket. One of my favorite pastimes is stomping around in it with my camera, trying to find new ways to make the trees and hills of my yard look fresh and new in pictures.

I also enjoy hiking in it.

And, of course, spending a quiet weekend cozied up with a book in a chair where I can glance up at the falling snow Is nice too.

We often have snow for Martin Luther King weekend so I was hopeful. Nope. More rain.

So I continue to wait. . .

Problems And Fresh Perspective

This week has been challenging. I’m tired and haven’t felt well since getting a flu shot. Everyone needs something. Lots of people are picking at each other. Things just aren’t going well and obstacles have been the norm rather than the exception to the rule.

The key phrase yesterday was “you’ve got to be kidding me.”

A full blown tantrum has been on the horizon for several days.

But a work errand sent me to Columbus yesterday where I drove past Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House. There was a woman wrangling two small children outside Ronald McDonald House and it occurred to me there are people out there with real, life threatening problems.

So I took a big breath of fresh air and decided it best to appreciate the good in my problems. That’s not to say they aren’t real but my issues right now would fall into a category that should be marked “Headaches” rather than “Day-Shattering-Tantrum-Inducing-Crises.”

I’m busy because people need me and because I have a job. That flu shot was covered by my health insurance and may keep me healthy later. Those obstacles that keep screwing up my schedule? That could all be a plot by the universe to keep me alive for another day. If an accident happens in the blink of an eye, all these delays could be preventing something terrible from making matters worse.

Sometimes you just have to pause a moment and reframe things. A good gulp of fresh air and a new perspective never hurt anyone.

Let’s see what hurdles this day holds, shall we?

The Best Pizza In Wyoming and Plan B

We stopped for lunch in Lusk, Wyoming on the way to Rapid City. This picture represents a portion of their charming downtown area. I know it’s a bar but I liked the bike and all the colorful signs. More importantly, there was a promise made that the best pizza in Wyoming is made at a local joint here in Lusk.

Alas, that best pizza isn’t available over Labor Day weekend.

They were closed. Yup. Just my luck.

Since we had eaten a light breakfast, we were starving with few food options in the neighborhood. So we ended up at a gas station across the street where we found gas station snacks and “fresh personal pizzas.”

It seemed pretty impersonal pulling it out from under a warming light and it wasn’t especially fresh either. But it kept us from starving until we could get a real meal.

The moral of this story is that sometimes you have to adapt and come up with a plan b.

First though, we stood on the sidewalk outside the pizza place staring at the closed sign and debating what to do. It was reminiscent of the Griswold Family outside Wallyworld when they found it closed. It probably appeared we were willing the place to open just for us and for pizza to magically appear! After some initial whining, we eventually decided that we just needed to not starve and to move forward.

Things don’t always go as planned when you travel and that’s ok. Into everyone’s travel life some gas station food may come. It’ll make you appreciate the next meal even more!!!