Weekend Recap on Wednesday

Pardon my lateness, but I had a lovely weekend. 
Friday after work, I ran a few "errands" in the fashion district. My favorite midtown fabric store did not disappoint. Projects to last several, several Saturdays.  

Saturday the weather was beautiful and Brooklyn was in rare form, hosting the Renegade Craft Fair. I only had to walk down a fourth of one aisle of tents before I was so overwhelmed by the talent that I was near tears. Beautiful creations. It was a bit surreal to find myself talking to the talent of Son of a Sailor, Claudia Pearson, Little Hip Squeaks, and enormouschampion.

Followed it up with a walk through Smorgasburg and landed in front of Dumont's booth. Yummy slider, vanilla shake and fresh kalamansi juice.

 I parked a few blocks away so I could enjoy the scenery. 

Sunday started out the way it usually does, breakfast and the Good Book for some final preparation for Sunday School. This Sunday, not only did I get to "teach" the adults, I got to spend an hour with our only Sunbeam, Tommy. We talked about how we can do hard things like David who slew Goliath and made a video with his phone (his mom's old one) of us singing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. All while wearing project 1 from my Friday spoils. This lovely coral variegated knit was perfect for this tutorial I found on Simple Simon & Co. So comfy and easy!  

Fiscally Fit

Last night I had a dream that I was explaining my budget plan to…someone. Who I was talking to wasn’t clear, but what I was saying was very detailed and I woke up thinking about finances. I’ve been meaning to write about my financial journey for a couple years now, dating back to the time when I had a goal to focus on physical and fiscal fitness. (btw, I'm definitely looking forward to the day that there will be space for a yoga room again!)

While my physical fitness regime seems to fluctuate based on geography, the season and the amount of free-time I get, I have learned that my fiscal fitness doesn't have to. Gaining financial independence became a driving force in my life and thanks to a very supportive husband (supportive not enabling), I'm on track to paying off a hefty debt by Christmas (a debt that doubled over five years due to compounding interest and then sat stagnant for several more years as interest only payments were made just to keep things afloat). I know too well the feelings of bondage, anxiety and low self-worth that accompany overwhelming debt. And like anyone in recovery, I am all too enthusiastic about sharing what I've learned over the last fifteen years of my adult life.

I gratefully realize that part of my success with what I often refer to as "the super skinny debt reduction plan" has to do with a somewhat unique situation. We are a dual income household and even though the Captain is technically a student, we are able to live off that student income because it is supplemented by the G.I. Bill and he moonlights like a champ on his days and nights off. This makes it possible for all of my take home pay to go straight to the bank (and to God—He still gets 10%). My past bad choices are greatly benefited from the Captain’s good choices. Another part of that success is due to hours and hours of emotional and psychological work overcoming a deep seated shopping addiction. Our relationships with money can be so emotional and powerful. My attitude towards money has completely shifted (I’m more than happy to write about that process too, if anyone is interested, or maybe I'll write about it anyway).

We are making sacrifices all the time. I sacrifice my desire to eat organic, free-range chicken and eggs and grass fed beef, for example. I try not to think about the GMO crops my meat was fed on or the hormones it was likely pumped with. Ugh. I'd probably do better to go vegetarian for now. The Captain's watch broke on our vacation and I could see the sadness in his eyes as we discussed its replacement. Buy a crappy watch now and start saving your slush fund, my dear!

With that said, now we can get to the good stuff. What to do.
*Note: there are a gazillion theories and programs on money management. I'm just sharing what seems to have worked for me. I've also included a few books at the end if you'd like some help finding a new frame of reference.

ohohoh Mexico...the sun's so hot I forgot to go home

It's my second full day back in the office and one of my bosses asked if I was out of vacation mode yet. Was I zoning? Ugh. I won't lie. I want to go back.

My family met up in Mexico last Monday to meet the new additions that came with my dad's recent nuptuals. The Captian and I couldn't bare the thought of a wasted weekend, so we flew down a couple days early. So glad we did because I definitely would have felt shorted even more than I did when we had to leave.

We didn't take many pictures with our own camera, so I'll have to borrow a photos. Until I get permission to do so, just be satisfied with a few camera phone shots from our first two days in Cancun.

We passed Hard Rock, Chili's, Planet Hollywood, Coco Bongo, even a Ruth's Chris. Then we found El Fish Fritanga, a little taco stand next to a mini mart. It was exactly what I was looking for.
Al Pastor for 9 pesos (Taco Bell prices circa 1995). I ate three plus one con pollo, but I wish I had just made it four al pastor.

 Round two for lunch the next day. This time was a burrito and it was really good.
Walking back from church. A guy on the bus was so surprised when we told him we were going to church in the area where the "locals" live. He kept trying to get us to go to the Catholic church downtown. Then the bus driver tried to drop us off at the Masonic temple. Sorry, wrong building. 

In the "locals" part of town. You're so trendy, Mexico!

The quiet before the chaos :). But, I wouldn't have it any other way!

 Our shuttle from the airport after meeting up with just a portion our a party of 23 to the resort in Playa. Three rows of good times. I love my family so much. The hardest part about being around them is having to say goodbye at the end of the vacation. More on this fun bus to come.

Rawlicious Halva

Forgive the cheesiness of the post title, but this is one really rawlicious recipe. You may remember from my birthday novel that I had halva on my goat milk lavender honey ice cream. Well, it was so good that I decided to try my hand at it. There are some pretty complicated versions out there, but this one is pretty simple.


1 c raw, hulled seasame seeds
2-3 T raw honey or agave
2 t vanilla
1 T coconut oil (*optional for a softer cookie)


Grind up the sesame seeds into a nut butter texture. I used my handy coffee grinder that has never been used for coffee. It's super nice to have around for spices, nuts, flax and chia, ingredients for random potions and the like. Stir in honey/agave, vanilla and coconut oil* until well blended. Press into molds or a wax paper lined square pan/dish. Set in the freezer. If in a pan, cut into squares. If in molds, pop out and enjoy. Crumble on ice cream for a nice treat.

One Fun Birthday Weekend

Recipe for this topping coming soon...
I love birthdays and I think they are-slash-should be a big deal. The biggest! I mean, my mom and dad deliberately chose to bring me into the world (I may have been two of six who were not a pleasant surprise...ahem,  I was "planned"). Even if I only got to be a baby for four months before my younger brother was on his way (see what I mean by pleasant surprises?), I am still extremely grateful for my birth and the siblings that my parents gave me. And even if your parents didn't make a deliberate and thoughtful choice to conceive and birth you, you are a miracle! And that miracle should be celebrated. Every year. For at least a weekend. Maybe a week. I have the great luck of sharing my birthday weekend with Memorial Day...so it's extra long.


In my search for safer personal care products, I stumbled on Jessica Alba's new endeavor, The Honest Company. They just launched in January of this year and this week have opened up their product store. Before, you could only purchase a bundle (diapers or family essentials) which auto-ships each month.  

I ordered the Discovery Kit and it came yesterday. For just the cost of shipping, it includes samples of their healing balm, hand soap, shampoo & body wash, face & body lotion, and laundry detergent. Are you dying over their packaging as much as I am? Being a sucker for good design, I was drooling over each piece, starting with the box it was all perfectly packaged in down to the thank you note.

I'm debating staying on the auto-ship ($35.95 for five items) or canceling and just purchasing as needed. Either way, I want to try their sunscreen. It has to be easier than making my own--which I tried last weekend in preparation for a week in Mexico with my family c/o dad and new wife. Quite the messy process. The sunscreen making, not the week with my family (fingers crossed at least).

I'll keep you posted on the products as I use them. Honestly (wink), I'm excited to find an affordable and safe alternative to setting up a potion lab in my kitchen (the Captain called my juicer a caldron the other day ;) ).

Flash Back: DIY Wedding Venue & Food

Choosing the reception and caterer: I had always dreamed of a garden reception. Always. Lots of greenery, lots of flowers, Italian bistro lights (sigh) over a wood dance floor. Getting married in January in Utah? Ugh. Where do you hold the ultimate indoor party on a dime? I won't even go into the list of places I "looked" at (online).

As the fates would have it earlier in the year, Emily (aka: younger sister who used to be mistaken for my twin) and her associates held the Bijou at Southworth Hall for the first time. She suggested that I check it out.
photo credit: Brown Brothers
 It was the exposed brick and art deco ceiling tiles that sold me. They also have a catering company onsite, Brown Brothers, with competitive pricing. So, chairs, tables, basic linens were all included with the venue and the food.
All other photos: Jenna Rammell

Making a good thing better

Trying to avoid refined sugars and flours has severely limited my enjoyment a lot of sweet things. When you take on this dietary challenge, there are a couple of stances you can adopt. More on this in a bit.

Take a break from my diatribe and make some "better for me" (I don't know if they are better for you) no-bake cookies.

 Sorry for the iphone photos.


1/4 c. coconut oil
3/4 c. granulated xylitol (this was my first experience cooking with this sugar substitute)
1/4 c. cacao powder
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. all-natural nut butter (I use peanut)
1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds
1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
3 c. oats


In a saucepan on medium heat, melt coconut oil, xylito, cacao, and vanilla, bring to a boil for about a minute. Add peanut butter and stir until it melts. Remove from heat and stir in sunflower seeds, coconut, and oats. Spoon onto wax paper and let cool and set.

Note: The normal recipe calls for 2 c. granulated sugar. I made my first batch with 1 c. xylitol and it was too sweet. You may have to play around with this one. I don't LOVE the xylitol taste, but the consistency created is the closest to the normal recipe that I have found. Now, I don't mind mine a little gooey, so I'll probably keep making my no-bake cookies with agave in the future.

Now, back to my ramblings.

In Honor

of my father. Who is getting married today. I hope the day is perfect and lovely and that you have found marital bliss!

Cheers to you and your new bride and to a week in Mexico to celebrate!