Monday, July 31, 2017

Blueberry & Almond Yogurt Parfait

The local grocery stores have had great sales on fresh blueberries for the past few weeks.  Really, really good sales on deliciously perfect blueberries.  Eating them fresh and by the handful is always an option, but sometimes it’s nice to come up with different ways to use them.

This yogurt parfait is incredibly simple, easy to make ahead of time for a quick weekday breakfast, and it’s delicious.

Blueberry & Almond Yogurt Parfait:

1 cup vanilla yogurt
½ cup washed blueberries, divided
1 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted*

Spread 1/4 cup of the blueberries in the bottom of a bowl.  Layer the yogurt on top.  Top with remaining 1/4 cup blueberries.  Sprinkle with almonds.  Enjoy!

If you’re making this the night before, just don’t add the almonds so they don’t get soggy.  Cover and refrigerate after the final layer of blueberries.

*To toast the almonds:
Preheat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add almonds, stirring constantly, for 2 - 4 minutes, just until they barely begin to darken.  It takes about two seconds for the almonds to go from not quite toasted to burnt to a crisp.  You don’t want to step, or look, away from them.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thrifty Thursday - The Realization That Something Needs To Change

We’ve recently decided to get serious about paying off debt and saving money.  A combination of things lead to this decision:

We’ve realized that we’re not in a position that allows either one us to take a job with much of a salary decrease.  Even if it’s a job that’s otherwise perfect, it just wouldn’t be feasible.  That severely limits options, and it’s not a good feeling.  Reducing debt would change that.  Even if it’s not something that we would opt to do, just the idea of being able to is empowering.

Without sharing stories that aren’t mine to share, we’ve had front row seats to what happens when you neglect retirement planning and saving.  It isn’t pretty.  And it’s definitely not a situation we want to find ourselves in thirty years from now.  We all know that time flies, so it makes sense to plan and save now.

And the more fun motivation is that we’ve realized we want to travel.  It’s something we’ve talked about, but only in vague terms along the lines of “wouldn’t that be fun/interesting/exciting”, but nothing beyond that.  Neither one of us have ever really been outside the south, and while we’re happy here, there are so many other places to see.

We recently spent an evening with some older friends, and they told us about their trip to Italy a few years ago.  It inspired us.  There’s a whole big world out there, and we’d like to see more than our tiny piece of it.  It’s not something that’s going to happen this year, or next, but we’ve set a major trip by the time we’re 40 as our goal.  We have yet to define exactly what “a major trip” means for us.  NYC?  Europe?  Alaska?  Some sort of cruise?   But we do know that it’s something we’ll have to save up for.  We’ll both be thirty-five by the end of the year, so we’re working on a five year plan.  It seems doable.  You have to have goals, right?

Long term goals seem to be harder sometimes.  Small steps can seem insignificant or pointless.  It’s so easy to get distracted or discouraged.  It can be hard to decide where to start.  Accountability helps.  At least it helps me.  So I’ve designated Thursday as Thrifty Thursday.  Every week I’ll share something that we’re doing to save, plug up the holes in the budget, or somehow reduce debt.

So what about you?  What are your long term goals?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dog Shaming - The Lasagna Edition

By now I’m sure just about everyone is familiar with dog shaming, where you take a picture of your dog wearing or holding a sign stating their misdeed(s).  Sometimes the pictures are taken in the wreckage of whatever they’ve destroyed.  The pictures are usually hilarious, especially when it’s not your house, dinner, car, etc.

Honestly, even when it is your dog, and your lasagna, the pictures are kind of fun.  After all, you’re (hopefully) not getting the lasagna back.  And there’s no point crying over stolen lasagna, so you might as well laugh, and get a cute pet picture out of it.

I don’t think Duke ever really feels any shame when he steals.  He seems to be more of the “I regret nothing, and it was delicious!” school of thought.  At least he’s cute.

This particular incident was a few months ago.  Lasagna is a big deal at our house.  I don’t make it very often.  It’s fairly time consuming, and it makes so much that we usually only have it when someone is coming over.  It’s also one of those foods that always seem to taste even better the next day, so leftover lasagna is highly anticipated.  We had well over two thirds of the pan left, so we wrapped it up with aluminum foil and left it sitting on the stove, and went outside for about two minutes to wave goodbye to our friend.

When we came back inside, Duke had his face firmly planted in the pan, and was just finishing the last few bites.  I have no idea how he managed to eat that much that lasagna that fast, but he did.  Fortunately, he didn’t get sick from it, and we’ve learned that you never leave lasagna unattended for even a moment.

So what about you?  Do you take dog shaming pictures when your dog is bad?  Have you lost anything tasty to a fur kid lately?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Has It Really Been Three Months?

I meant to write a blog post long before now.  I knew it had been a while, but I didn’t realize it had been over three months until I looked at the date on my last post.  Obviously I dropped out of the April A to Z Challenge. And then didn’t post for three months.  Time flies, right?

Life got a little busy, between pets, work, home, and yard stuff.  I think our biggest news is that we had to say goodbye to our cat Joey in May.  We had been battling various health issues with him for a while, and we had said we would keep on as long as he had a good quality of life.

He started losing weight, and stopped responding well to the medications he was on.  Our vet did a few non-invasive tests to confirm her suspicions of an intestinal tumor, and once that was confirmed we knew it was time to let him go.  Our vet was wonderful about helping us make the decision.

Joey was always a people cat.  He loved people, and other than demanding attention was very laid back.  Almost everyone who has ever been to our house has spent hours holding Joey.  He liked (and often demanded by tripping or clawing you) to be held like a baby.  He was very popular at the vet’s office because of his personality.

Once we talked to the vet about the results of Joey’s tests and made the decision to let him go peacefully rather than putting him through anything else, all of the vet techs came in to tell him bye, and what a good, sweet boy he had always been.  Even the vet cried when it was over, and she came to take him away.  She kept apologizing for crying, and saying she wasn’t being very professional.  Honestly, it made us love her even more.  When your vet cries with you over losing your cat, you know they’re invested in their care, and have done everything possible for them.

We’re finding our new normal now that we’re down to just three cats, and the two dogs.  We’ve decided to wait a little while before we add another fur kid to our family.  We aren’t actively looking to foster or adopt at the moment.  We lost three pets last year, one this year, and have been dealing with at least one pet having extensive (and expensive!) medical issues for a few years now.  For the moment, everyone is reasonably healthy.  We’ve decided to take some time to savor that.

We don’t have a certain time frame in mind as to when we’ll start looking to add another furry family member, but I know it will happen.  Knowing us, it will happen sooner rather than later, but we both think we need the break right now.

Other than that we’ve just been keeping busy with ordinary day to day things.  The garden is doing reasonably well this year.  We’ve almost completely finished reinforcing the fence, and Duke has been staying in the yard.

So what about you?  How have the last three months been?  Anything fun or exciting going on this summer?