Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkins Picked

We went to The Farm at Swan's Trail in the Snohomish river valley with some friends on Satruday! It was such a fun place. I don't really enjoy going the fair, but this is what it felt like a fair should be. There were animals to see and pet, tractors and swings to ride, duck and pig races, pumpkins, cider, and super good corn dogs.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thoughts on Bookshelves

What is the best way to organize books? Author? Publication date? Genre?

Does anyone ever truly have enough bookshelves?

Who has time to put a series in order?

How do you know what books are worth keeping?

Why do we have such uninteresting books on the bookshelves? I mean, who needs Vector Algebra for Engineers or How to Enjoy Calculus?!

What do you do when you have some bookshelves you like, but Ikea quit making them in your color scheme? Do you get new ones all around? Do you just go with more in a different color? Do you scour Craigslist daily, hoping for some in your preferred color?

Oh my.

And did I mention I put the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew up on the shelves OUT OF ORDER?!?!?! Yes. I did. I don't like it, but I did it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ten on Ten: What We Do On a Monday

ten on ten button

I love this little ten on ten project. Yesterday was the day, and it happened to be a Monday. So here ya go. It was a day full of menu planning, grocery shopping, cleaning, severe downpour, and more running around.

Friday, October 7, 2011


I am currently extremely angry at a bit of chocolate cake. Here's the train of thought that got me there:

The cake isn't ours. Somehow it just came home with us after a prayer group last night. I don't want to eat it, and it turns out neither does Tom. This means we need to get rid of it. This makes me a little bit upset because its large non-recyclable container is going to take up space in our small garbage can. Yes, there is space right now, but I have that space reserved for house project junk. Ok, so now I have to separate the container parts and the cake for garbage and compost. SNAP. POP. POP. POP. It's loud. Halcyone wakes up from her nap, scared from the noise and starts screaming, a whole hour early. Oh, and now my Dexcom is beeping. Not the high beep, but the low insistent one that says, "Excuse me, deal with this now. Your blood sugar is too low!"

Alright, now I need to calm Miss H down and take care of this blood sugar. And I realized I'm also mad at PCC for putting the stupid cake in such a loud container. Hmm. Yes, low blood sugar does make me a bit irrational. Just ask Tom. For some reason all I can think about at this point is squeezing my shower in before I get Halcyone out of her crib. So I wander into the bathroom and take my insulin pump off and find a towel. Oh wait! My Dexcom is still beeping, reminding me of something... something... my low blood sugar. And yes, I can tell it's low. That's why I'm so confused about what I should be doing. So I grab a can of Coke (which reminds me I'm also not very happy with whoever finished the juice, probably me) and go rescue Halcyone. The poor girl is not having anything to do with more napping now.

Ahhhh! My shower! My nap-time-clean-the-house-up-routine! My blood sugar! And the cake is still not taken care of.

How can something so insignificant derail my day this much? Why did I let it consume my brain? Well, partially because of the low blood sugar, but also because I wasn't meditating on the blessings God has given me. He has provided a house, a beautiful little girl, a prayer group for our friends in Africa, a Dexcom to let me know when my blood sugar goes awry, the ability to stay at home with Halcyone, a husband who loves and cares for us, and so much more.

So what am I thinking about now?

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Food Budget

Part of the October Eat-In is a test of our new budget.  It will also be an opportunity to take meal planning to a new level.  My wife is a quite excellent cook, and a wonderful planner.  Our calendar occasionally has meals planned out days and even weeks in advance.  This allows her to have a running grocery list, and purchase items in bulk or on sale rather than last-minute.  In the past, our food budget has been adequate and functional, but there is always some question if it is reasonable.

There are two government resources to gauge food expenses.  The first is the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion website, which provides a number of basic but great resources for budgeting, meal planning, and cost estimates.  After working through their Home Food Cost Tables however, I was a little aghast at the amounts they predicted.  Using their August 2011 numbers, our household would spend (178.50 + 158.70 + 90.81) * 105% = $450 on eating at home using their "Thrifty" plan, and an astounding (350.60 + 313.90 + 168.40) * 105% = $875 using their "Liberal plan."  I may have read the table/done the math wrong, but this was a little dismaying.
I have previously mentioned the Bureau of Labor Statistic's website, which provides consumer expenditure reports.  They report that households most representative of mine spend an average of $280 per month on "Food at Home."  This is a lot closer to our number of $300 per month, and is also offset by their prediction of $230 in restaurant expenses.

We have also asked friends what they spend on groceries.  The goal is not to judge, and their answer should not result in our pride or jealousy, but the information allows us to ensure we are being good stewards.  Some people don't quite know what they spend on food.  Others responded with numbers very similar to our own.

On the whole, it seems that our current amount is reasonable for the time-being, but we'll see how the rest of the month turns out!  The main takeaway from this comparison is that through planning, discipline, and creativity, you can eat delicious, healthy food with comparably little expense.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Halcyone picked her first shoes yesterday! Yes, she picked sparkles over pink, the only options in her tiny little size. She's started to stand and think about taking steps, so I knew it was time to move beyond the leather soled Robeez.

October Eat-In II

Ok, so my mind was just blown.

I found the website for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  They provide a set of tables that break down consumer expenditure by all sort of categories and age.  There will be more posts based off this wealth of information, but I found the site looking for average restaurant expenses.

According to the 2010 expenditure table (1), the average household with consumers our age spends $230 on eating out each month.  This is for a roughly 3 person household that spends $46.6k annually.  Additionally, this does not include alcohol, which adds an additional $40 to the monthly expenses.

It is easy to see how you could arrive at this number pretty quickly.  Assuming a 'standard' espresso drink of $3.77 from Starbucks, this would be 1 per adult, per day.  At an establishment like Red Robin, where every dish has the same price, you could buy two people dinner ~9 times.  As the quality and price of the establishment increases, getting to $230 is even easier.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October Eat-In

This month will be a little different.

This month we are not eating out.

You could call it drastic, you could call it a test, or you could call it a fast.  We think it will be interesting, and possibly a little fun.

The rules are pretty simple, for the month of October: no fast food, no eating out: no coffee, snacks, or impulse food.  There are exceptions of course.  We will still grab coffee or lunch with freinds.  Going to lunch or dinner for dates is still just fine.

The reasons for doing this are several:

Health will improve.  We eat a pretty healthy diet to begin with, but this can only help.

Less money will be spent on food.  Groceries and dining out are one of our largest discresionary expenses.  This month we may save a substanital amount by planning ahead and prepairing our own food.

More quality time will be spent together.  Of late, we have not been on as many dates as we would like.  By making dinner out contingent on a date-night, it will encourage us to go out together, while also making the trip just a little more special.  Additionally, more meals will be spent together as a family rather than on-the-go.