Monday, December 21, 2015

Weekend Wanderings - Ikea Ferry

Had a really wonderful, relaxing and productive weekend. Composted, ran a few errands, and saw my cousins on Saturday. Sunday was a Christmas pageant at church and a lovely holiday party at Nora's. I was too busy experiencing this weekend to take many photos, but these are two favorites from the ferry ride between Ikea and my cousin's place in Manhattan. It was a little too cold to ride top-deck, but in December, that's really how it ought to be.



Hope you have a joyful few days before Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Weekend Wanderings - Brunch at Fulton Farm


Photo from: http://instagram.com/discerningdilettante


I had a really lovely brunch this weekend. It was beautiful out, and I got to catch up with some awesome people who I don't see often enough. It was the crown on a weekend of seeing lovely people and eating lovely meals. A moment I'd like to remember.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Holidays Around New York

Just wanted to post a few holiday photos from the past week. Now I wish I'd taken one of the tree this evening at the NYPL main branch. It's gorgeous!


Monday, December 7, 2015

Weekend Wanderings - Latkes and Advent

I had such a lovely, bracing walk this morning. It feels like the holiday season is really upon us now, and it was nice to have a break and enjoy some cold air before starting the week.


This weekend went by much too quickly, even though for me, it was a lovely 3-day weekend! I took a personal day on Friday to relax, collect myself, and get a head start on some work for the weekend. I got a fair amount done, enjoyed a maple steamer at a coffee shop near our house, and when I walked home around sunset, the reflection on a brick wall and the gilded edges of Greenwood Cemetery's fence was almost too beautiful to bear. The world was almost sparkling.


Saturday was more work during the day, and then latkes with good friends. Then pizza with the same good friends. Quite nice.


Sunday, of course, was more work. I'd left part of R.'s St. Nicholas Day gift at work, but still managed to leave two pairs of new socks and a citrus treat in his slippers, which I think he enjoyed. That evening, I went with a few friends to evening prayer at All Saints' Episcopal Church, and then to their Advent party after. It was lovely. For dinner, R. made a delicious chicken korma. More work that evening, but I still went to bed feeling calm. A good weekend.

For your listening pleasure: the WQXR Holiday Channel.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Monthly Spending in November 2015

Net Worth Change from Previous Month: +0%
Total Spent: $846.05

November wasn't a great month for spending. I ended up spending $172 on a medical bill that I was hoping would be covered by my insurance, who kept telling me the doctor was sort of in network. I also probably overspent a bit on gifts for friends ($167), but that's always worth it. I also went a little crazy at the Oxo sample sale ($56), but I'm glad to have a few new kitchen accessories, and some of that was gifts, too. And, you know. Way too much on food, of course. Part of that was for groceries, because we ran out of money in our joint account, and that's fine. But of course some of it was on meals out, and I'd really like to trim back a bit on that. I also bought tickets to see Fun Home ($122) with Danielle, which I'm really excited about, and she'll be paying me back for her ticket soon, so I'm not too worried there.

I'm still going back and paying down the categories that I'd refreshed once or twice, which still show up as red in my "all time" view on Mint.com's budgets. In November, I chipped away at what's left: food (now $1,063, down from $1880), and "home," which is actually what "cash from the ATM" used to be filed under, and which was also mostly spent on food ($4,927). In December, I hope to eliminate both of them with some freelance money that is coming in. I know it will feel great to start over at $0. 

I didn't bring in any freelance income in November, though I did try to sell one coat on eBay. In December I'll start getting checks from my two bigger freelance projects, so that will be a really nice boon to our savings. 

I've already taken out my $300 in spending money for December, and in the first two days, I spent nearly half of it on Christmas gifts, so, not great, but fine. We'll see how well I can keep to the budget after this. And from last month, but we still haven't done it, so it stays: We're also certainly going to buy our tickets to India, but we've already agreed to use credit card points for that, so that will be a fun new adventure. Otherwise, I'm really looking forward to the holidays, while still trying to stay on track with our budget!

How's your budget going? Did you meet any exciting goals this month?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

White Chicken Chili - Cooking with Kristin

I really love chili. I have my favorite red chili, I See the Stars Chili, and my favorite vegetarian chili, Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili, and this is probably my favorite chili overall, White Chicken Chili.  


I've probably mentioned my favorite cooking blog, The Culinary Couple, on here a million times, so really, you should probably just go start reading about Emily's adorable family and the amazing food she cooks instead of letting me be a fangirl about it all the time. But this is another one of Emily's recipes that really blows it out of the park.

We probably make this at least once a month, and it has enough that we can each have at least two lunches from it afterward. It's everything a chili should be: thick and hearty, a little spicy, and completely delicious! With winter on its way, this is the perfect food to enjoy on a cold night, maybe with a tasty winter ale.

White Chicken Chili (Adapted from The Culinary Couple)
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lb smoked sausage, diced (this is like Hillshire Farms brand, in case you're like me and never buy meat)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans (15 oz) great northern beans, drained and rinsed (or substitute more cannellini beans if necessary)
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) diced green chiles
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or less if yours is very strong, like mine)
  • 1 box chicken broth (or 3.5 cups of water - it'll still taste just as good!)
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • Monterrey Jack cheese, sour cream, and/or tortilla chips for garnish
Directions

Add olive oil to a medium pot and cook the chicken over medium heat until it is cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the pot and set aside.

Add onions and garlic to the pot and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the smoked sausage and cook for 3-5 more minutes.

As the onions, garlic, and sausage are cooking, chop the chicken into bite-size pieces. Add the chicken pieces back to the pot, along with the diced green chiles, cumin, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir everything together and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Raise the heat to high and add chicken broth/water and beans. Bring the pot to a boil.

While you wait for the chili to boil, mix together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Add this mixture to the chili, turn the heat down to medium, and simmer everything until it reaches desired thickness, about 20 minutes. It will look really liquid-y until you add the cornstarch and let it simmer, but it thickens up beautifully.

Garnish with cheese and sour cream and serve with tortilla chips for dipping.