I'm Obsessed

June 25, 2015

so after erin posted about it on twitter, i checked out kristin's post and loved the idea. so i stole it, naturally.  (thank you kristin.)  it's easy to say you're obsessed with something or totally in love with something, but what would your friends say?  if you asked them for 3 to 5 things you're obsessed with, what would they say about you?

i polled john of course and all my best friends.  aka anyone who was on gchat at the time.  sorry gchat guinea pigs.  and while kristin didn't have any on her list that 100% of her polled people agreed on, i sure did.

survey says:

15/15 - hawkeye.  i suppose i could have prefaced the question with 'besides hawkeye' but where's the fun in that?  there's people who love their pets, and then there's people who share water glasses with them, order them their own tacos, and buy them a water bed.  i'll let you guess which one i am.  not only was she on everyone's list, she was #1.  on every single list.  no shame.

15/15 - organization/some form of minimalism and owning nothing.  also on everyone's list.  3 people said straight up organizing, but tara said 'nothing (like really, owning nothing)' and john said 'throwing things away.'  same thing.  also john removed 6 garbage bags full of stuff from his room in anticipation of us moving in together.  i'm rubbing off on him.

10/15 - booze/drinking card games/jello shots. if they had been more specific, i'm sure most of them would have narrowed it to purse alcohol.  but yes, yes on all counts.  i like beer, i like purse alcohol, and i love making my friends play card games at the bar.  like last thursday, when megan and i played 2 person circle of death.  'seemed like a good idea at the time' is my life story.  and i always have cards in my purse.  i assume the jello shots were from people who came to my night of 1000 jello shots party.

8/15 - nachos.  i'm surprised it wasn't on more people's lists.  but to be fair, it was on the list of every person i regularly eat with.  it's rare that i order anything other than nachos.  heck it's rare that i go out to eat at a place that doesn't serve nachos.

7/15 - netflix.  i'm not sorry.

5/15 - kentucky.  this only came from my family and john.  the only people i constantly pressure to go back there with me.  (we have horses there, as you can see in this post, and i love it.)  plus 2 other friends, who are fellow kentucky basketball fans and who spend game nights with me in the fall/winter at the only kentucky bar in chicago, the pony.

5/15 - candles. 
the people who put this highest were my current roommate and my former roommate.  if i'm home, there's a candle burning for sure.

4/15 - street fests.  i do love drinking in the middle of the street in the summer in chicago for free.  so many favorite things wrapped up in that one sentence.

4/15 - country night on thursdays.  i haven't been in so long, up until last week.  but it was my weekly staple all throughout law school.  but my preferred bar turned super crowded and douchey so megan found us a new place to go to.  it'll probably turn into a regular outing again.

1/15 - nicolas cage.  this was only on john's list and he threw in 'and bad movies in general.'  fair.  i don't talk about nicolas cage much, but he is my favorite actor and i also made john watch left behind, joe, snake eyes, and rage, all within the last month.  and also san andreas and icetastrophe, which is why he says i have horrible taste in movies.  it's not that i think they're amazing, it's that i love bad movies.  you don't go into something named 'icetastrophe' thinking it's going to be an epic cinematic feat. kind of like the best thing on netflix, strippers vs werewolves.

1/15 - anything pink.  it spent years in the top spot as my favorite color.  almost my entire life (my mom says i liked green best as a kid, for a year or two.)  lately it hasn't been, or i haven't really procured anything pink, because it's trendy to like pink and i hate being trendy.  but all my purses are pink, and most of my shoes, so i can't say this is wrong.

things i'm surprised were on no one's list: iowa - dude, my dog's name is hawkeye.  halloween/costumes - i'm obsessed with throwing theme parties, for sure.  i love a good costume.  saving money - i'm 99% sure i'm about to start a year long shopping ban.  and i often turn down invites to go out or invite people over instead and i always say it's because i don't want to spend the money.  so i'm shocked this didn't come up at all.

just from reading this blog, would you have had any of the same answers about me?  what would your friends say about you?

The Purposeful Planner By Corie Clark (Review)

June 22, 2015

yes, i check out every new planner that i find.  it's what i do, i can't help myself.  anyway, i posted a picture to instagram when my purposeful planner first arrived and many people asked for views of the inside pages and for a review.  i didn't receive it free or anything, i'm just giving the people what they want!

it's brand new so check back in a few months if you'd like to know how it's going (she'll have new ones for 2016 i'm sure in december or earlier.)  but for now, here's my thoughts.  and i'm being careful to show just what's on her website, since i don't want to step on her toes and give away all the other details!  corie is super friendly and responsive on all her social media outlets, so if you want to see a page that i don't show here, i'm sure you could ask her and she could email it. (or i can email it if she gives the okay.)  there's a 'how to use it' page in the front as well as more long term goal planning pages, and a bucket list.

i got the daily view.  there's also a weekly version, but the daily version is what i was looking for specifically in a home planner.  and make no mistake - this is a planner you leave at home sitting on your desktop.  with a page for each day, it's much too big to be carrying with you.  i don't know how big the weekly is comparatively, but the daily is hefty.  it's got weight and size and thick pages that don't bleed through.  so don't think this baby is going with you on your errands, unless you're a person who already carries around a 6 lb purse chihuahua, in which case this would be like the same thing.  here's a size comparison with an erin condren.  (this is an erin condren notebook, not a planner.  the planners are thicker, but they are the same as far as height and width and ring size.  though i hear the rings on the newest version are slightly bigger.)

but that's what i was looking for, a home planner.  i like to sit down for 15 minutes each night and write down everything i'm thinking.  if anything needs to be done the next day, i put a note in my phone.

each month stars with the monthly view on two pages.  this is the page the laminated month tab is connected to.

the next two pages are the budget page and the menu page.  since i use ynab software to track my budget, i'll only be using the budget page to track big expenses (like months where i have a lot of birthdays.)  on the menu page you can list the 20 meals you want to make for the month along with the corresponding shopping list.

after that is the master task list and the monthly dreams and goals page.  the master task list has each room of the house for you to list your projects under.  i plan on using this space for major cleaning tasks (like door frames, baseboards, windows) and also for projects when we move into the new house.  i think with dreams and goals, i'll be using it as a month long to do list and also a place to list baby steps to checking off the rest of the items on my 101 list.

after those pages, it goes into the daily pages i showed at the top.  there's also a pocket in the front.

it's $48 and you can buy it here.  also comes in a floral cover version.  any questions?

My Dad Is From Mysore, India. And I'm Adopted.

June 16, 2015

that fact is true - my dad is indian.  he was born and raised in mysore, india, which is outside of bangalore.  (like naperville is to chicago.  bangalore is officially known as bengaluru, which is the capital of the state of karnataka.  which is southern india.)  this information seems to blow people's minds, and i suppose i know why.  not that he's an indian doctor.  that's not at all uncommon.  no, it's probably because of my blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale skin.

i personally love my dog's 'the shit is this?' face

and yes, i'm adopted, in case you didn't know.  which makes me awesome.  because, ya know, my parents were all 'yes we really want that one' enough to take me home on the spot and still be paying my cell phone bill 30 years later.  #familyplan #thanksdad #nevergrowup  you can read all about that here.

i don't doubt there will be lots and lots of father's day posts this week, talking about their wonderful dads and thanking them.  which is awesome, i'm pumped to see little kid photos of you all, and trust me i have all the same sentiments towards my bad ass dad, but my dad doesn't read my blog.  so instead, i'm writing a post about india.  and a brief history on my dad.  and then opening it up for questions, because there's always so many questions.  so here we go, linking up with helene for 'you probably didn't know...'

my dad was born in mysore in 1939.  the second youngest of 9, 2 brothers, 6 sisters.  sadly, he's got just 1 sister left and 2 sisters-in-law.  lots of nieces, cousins, etc. though, still there.  he's the only one here in the states.  the british still ruled at that time so his whole family was christian; samuel is a common christian last name in southern india.  he went to a christian british school taught by nuns, which is why he speaks english so well but also pronounces onion like on-yun and first like fust.  damn british.  his family was incredibly poor and i saw the dirt floor tiny 3 room house (3 rooms.  total.  not 3 bedrooms.) he grew up in.  crazy to think how much has changed.

he's kind of a genius and was super book smart (and is fluent in urdu, telugu, hindi, english, and spanish.  i can say 'i'm going to knock your molars out' in urdu.  that's about all he passed on to me in the smarts.) so he was always studying, while taking care of his family and being awesome in soccer and track.  he eventually went to medical school in mysore.

from when we went back to visit.  2005.

he finished med school at 23 (22?), becoming a pediatrician, and moved straight here.  well not chicago, here; he actually worked in philadelphia for awhile first.  then moved here.  so he accomplished more in 23 years than i will in my whole life.  #nopressure

he met my mom when they worked in the same hospital; she was a radiologist.  they dated for a few years, moved in together, finally got married in 1982 and got wonderful little me in 1984.  (i know you're looking at those dates and thinking that's a lot of years before getting married - he was married before and has 3 kids but i hate them and since that has nothing to do with my life story, i completely ignore it like the true only child i was born to be.)

i've been to india twice.  once as a baby, it's where i learned to walk.  i had to meet my grandma before she died (which happened just months after our visit.)  international travel wasn't quite so huge in 1985 so this little blue eyed blonde american baby almost got stolen a few times.  my mom wasn't pleased but i was a big hit.

the second time we went back, i was in college and freshly 21.  i was very excited to order endless tequila sunrises (there's no drinking age in india, joke's on you stephanie) and even more excited to find a channel, in english, that regularly streamed the american 90s version of legends of the hidden temple.  gold mine.  they also had pizza hut, but it was irrelevant because i actually love indian food, and that you're supposed to eat it with your hands there.  we visited all the family, my dad's best friend who's still there, went to the street shops and the super fancy mall, pretty much whatever we could pack into 2 weeks.

i'll say this now, because you're going to ask - did i like it?  no.  there were good parts, and it was cool to see where my dad grew up, but he and i both agree we do not like it there and won't be back.  my mom loves it.  strange.  for me it was mostly about the flights, but also just never feeling totally comfortable.  it's not very safe, which is no secret.  i did like the bomb dogs at our hotel, and i did get stopped by another american from iowa (because i was wearing a hawkeyes hoodie, of course) so that was cool.  cows roamed everywhere, as did wild dogs.  and monkeys, so many mean, mean monkeys.  i guess if you're a world traveler i'd say go for it - it's pretty wild.  but if you're a once every 10 years we go overseas person, i'd say your time is better spent elsewhere.  it is not a vacation destination that everyone will appreciate.  i hate to be negative to my dad's home country, but even he 100% agrees with me.

my cousins there are awesome though

so what do you want to know about india?  ever think about traveling there and want to ask me any questions?  or do you want to ask me any questions about my dad's life there, his transition coming here, his family there, his adopting me?  adoption in general? (people who want to adopt always worry how the kid will turn out - awesome, obviously.  and no, i don't know anything about my birth parents and i won't ever meet them.  my parents do have 'papers' on me, like a dog pedigree, with all their info.  i've never looked.)  there's always a ton of questions, and i'm an open book.  ask away!

thanks for hosting, helene.  (i'm early, the link up goes live thursday so get your posts together!)

Helene in Between

A Year Long Shopping Ban?

June 12, 2015

you might remember that i did my spending frost for a few months, to save money towards house buying.  i'd say it was semi-successful.  the months that i concentrated, i did really well.  but there were at least 2 months that i spent a lot.  but it's not over yet; my 10 months aren't up until september 1.  so i felt like i really needed to buckle down these summer months and assess what i've spent money on so far.

looking back at my spending recap posts, even the months where i did really well still weren't perfect.  i think that's partially because i gave myself an out with the word frost.  i did it intentionally, when i started, knowing that i had a lot of eating out habits to rein in and also knowing that i don't actually buy that much to begin with (i'm a minimalist at this point, i think it's safe to go ahead and label it.)  i also only did 10 months knowing that i would be spending money on moving costs come september.  i've been very successful in not buying things - clothes, candles, books, other clutter causing items - but i haven't been successful at (1) eating out less, (2) going out less in general (i don't spend much but i shouldn't be spending anything), (3) not taking cabs, and (4) tracking the little expenses (like a coffee, a pack of gum, an e-book.)  all those things together add up to more spending fails than i'm comfortable with.

i'm considering taking a page of cait's book and doing a full, year long, shopping ban.  hers is over this july and everything she's documented about it is pretty impressive.  she went a full year only buying the necessities - groceries, toiletries, a few other things she included on her list.  but she didn't buy: clothes, shoes, decor items, books, and a bunch of other things.  her blog is a great read if you're into personal finance, saving money, becoming debt free, all of that.  so definitely check it out.

of course my shopping ban would look a little different.  i'd like to cut eating out almost entirely (which means, in my world, twice a month.)  i would ban all things picked up at the last minute, like gum and magazines.  definitely no more ebooks that caught my eye on pinterest and are 'only' $4.  i'd like to really cut grocery spending down - john's portion, at least.  i pay $28 per month for my lunches and breakfasts combined.  i think that's pretty good.  (eat vegan!  it's good for the wallet!)  essentially, it would have many more details and rules than my spending frost.

i wonder if i could do it.  to not pick up starbucks when i pass one on the way to a street fest.  to not buy the pretty new lip balm, even though it's on sale.  to not order the book when the wait list at the library is 182 people long.  to not grab the cute shirt when mvb has a 50% off sale.  it's not that i spend $500 in one trip to the store, but those little things add up.  i'm just not that mindful when it comes to smaller spending.

it wouldn't start quite yet - i still have my lease ending at the end of august and i'll need to move.  (i think, things still aren't figured out, whoops!)  but i'm definitely considering it.  one the one hand, we'll be moved into a new house by (latest) next april/may.  we'll need new house things.  on the other hand, i've had a fully furnished one bedroom apartment for 12 years now.  plus john's things.  will we really need that much new house stuff?  maybe it'll be good to settle for awhile without buying things, see what we really need.  we have 4 flat screen tvs between the two of us for goodness sake, that's just ridiculous.  i think a shopping ban would be good for me.  you do not need 17 3-wick candles from bath and body works, stephanie.

while i ponder taking on a year long shopping ban, i am going to start with what cait suggested to me - a full month without getting take out.  meep!  i have done it before, right at the start of my 101 in 1001 list.  although, technically, that was fast food and i still went to normal, nice dinners out.  i'm going to make july my no take out month, and i'm going to make that include no dinners out anywhere unless it's (a) someone's birthday - i have quite a few july birthdays, or (b) someone else is buying, like my dad.  thanks dad.  so that will be a rough month but definitely a good taste of a year long shopping ban before i just dive in!

have you ever done a full shopping ban?  do you think you could do one for an entire year?

Frugal Chicago Date Idea: Lincoln Park Zoo

June 9, 2015

moving right along in my frugal and free month of june: date ideas.  well, you can't get cheaper than the entrance fee for lincoln park zoo - it's free.  my very favorite price.  it's clean, it's right on lake michigan, and it's a fun place for a date when you're trying to save as much money as possible.


tangent - some people are not fans of zoos.  which i understand, because you don't want to see the animals in small cages when they could be roaming in the wild.  and in an ideal world, it would be awesome if humans weren't poaching them and taking over all their land and we could drive down the interstate in wisconsin and not see some sad roadkill every 500 feet that feel the overwhelming urge over to get out and bury.  but that's not real life so my general thought is that they get fed and cared for in the zoos and in the wild, they'd likely be dead by now.  so realistically, i'm okay with zoos.  moving on.

there's so many exhibits to check out - lion house, monkey house, reptile house, zebra area.  i cannot even count how many other animals we saw.  wild dogs, warthogs, camels, otters, giraffes, sea lions, meerkats, rhinos, flamingos, even a farm with cows and horses.  it seems endless.  of course, i'm a sucker for anything fluffy and adorable so the red panda was the clear winner of the day.  i desperately want a red panda.

a word to the weak like me - i'm totally freaked out by the bird house.  i should preface that by saying that i'm totally freaked out by birds because my mom made me watch that hitchcock movie way too young.  'it's a classic' she said.  lies.  anyway, the bird house does not have screens or windows or whatever.  the birds fly free and that is just too, too much for me.  john thought it was cool though.  but he likes jurassic park and remember the part where they're in the pterodactyl cage?  that's what the bird house looks like.  no.  so much no.

they were building a new habitat for the cold loving animals, so there weren't any polar bears or penguins.  but the new spot that they were building looks really nice, so i can't wait to see it.  we'll be back zoo.  we'll be back.

money saving tips:
- take public transit to get there.  parking prices are outrageous, street parking is limited and the prices aren't much better, but the bus stops right in front and is only $2 a ride.
- don't buy food in the zoo.  for two adults, you don't need to spend a ton of time at the zoo and you can see the exhibits pretty quickly.  so don't plan to be there during a meal time.  have an early lunch and then head there, leaving before dinner time.  ask me if you need nearby restaurant recommendations.
- like anywhere else, bring your own water bottles.
- stay out of the gift shop.  you don't need anything in there.

other lincoln park zoo tips:
- it's open year round.  it's decorated for christmas with all kinds of lights so that's always fun.  but definitely go in the spring or fall to avoid all the kids and families.  if you really want to go in the summer, have a ditch day from work and go on a weekday - always a better bet than the weekend.
- despite it going in a seemingly manageable circle, the zoo bigger than you think it is.  wear comfortable shoes.  i think we hit 16k steps easily in just a couple of hours.
- don't try to steal the red pandas.  they frown upon that.
- if you do get the red panda, come to my house immediately.  i shall hide you from the law and we'll enjoy panda antics forever.

if you need more info or to download the visitor's guide, check out the zoo's website.

Choose Your Own Adventure [Link Up]

June 4, 2015

the very last link up, i can't believe it's arrived. thank you all for joining in, it's been fun seeing what everyone has worked on. personally, i've accomplished a lot. more than i would have if i didn't have to report back here every month, that's for sure. thanks for being lovely co-hosts, steph and ashley!

okay on to the may results - read month.  guess what?  i didn't fail!  reading hasn't been my thing for quite some time now but i'm slowly coming back around to it.  so my goals:

1. read (and comment on) the blogs on my feedly.  pass.  i'm behind on this week, but it's june anyway.  for the month of may, i did great!
2. read eat to live which i actually bought.  pass.  i love this book.  it's not for everyone but the vegetarian in me was pleased.  and not only did i finish that, but i also read marie kondo's 'the life changing magic of tidying up' and it was fantastic.  i donated 5 bags of things after reading it.  me, the girl who already massively decluttered her belongings.  great book.  weird in parts, but i recommend it.
3. assess my online library and amazon ebook wishlists.  pass.  i got everything off my amazon wishlists - nothing i wanted to buy, so i either deleted it or put it on my online library wishlist.  so the library wishlist grew but it's all things that i'm definitely reading once they become available.  it's a little long (for me - it's between 7 and 10), but it's organized!

hooray success!  it's nice to end this link up on a high note.  how was your final month?  can't wait to hear.

general guidelines:
1) if you want, follow your hosts not entirely perfect, life according to steph, and keeping up with ashley and cody.  (i like twitter, that way i can follow you back and tweet you encouragement throughout the challenge.)
2) link up your post about your results below for the month - we want to hear all about what you did, how you fared, what resources you used, what you'd recommend to others, etc.
3) please link to your actual post about your results.  links not having to do with the challenge will be deleted.
4) feel free to use this button, created by the lovely sarah at venus trapped in mars.

Not Entirely Perfect

Frugal Chicago Fun: Street Fests

June 2, 2015

ah, june.  it's definitely frugal month in my life and on the blog.  i'm supposed to be on a spending frost (more on that next week), but april and may were rough on me.  it's easy for spending to get away from you when you aren't paying attention.

usually summer bears the brunt of my spending.  it's not that hard to save during a chicago winter, when temperatures are single digits and all you want to do is stay indoors under the covers.  i think i even cook at home more during the winter, because i want to turn the oven on.  but summer is full of spending.  you want to be outside as much as possible, so you're paying for travel, food, drinks, and the various forms of entertainment that let you meet up with your friends you haven't seen in months.

so i'm dedicated, this summer, to meeting up with my friends in the most frugal ways possible.  the favorite for all of us seems to be street fests - you know, where they close off portions of a main road and fill it with stages for bands to play, food and drink vendors, and artisan shops.  so it's not that there's nothing to buy but if you're smart, you can hit up a street fest for almost no money spent.  they're free to get into; you just have to keep the wallet stashed while you're there.

money saving tips:
transportation.  chicago is pretty great about covering all its grounds with public transit. very few street fests aren't directly off a train line stop (all of the ones i listed below are right by a stop.)  a ticket only costs $2.25 each way and the fests all end at 10 p.m., plenty of time to make it back safely on train.

food. try to eat before you go.  personally, i haven't found any street fest food that's worth the inflated prices.  if you get hungry, there's cheaper options around versus trying the stands inside the fest.  try leaving the fest and walking a block or two, you'll find plenty of cheap places for chinese food or sandwiches.

drinks.  bring your own water bottles.  and purse booze, i'm a big fan of purse booze.  do you know how much a street fest beer is?!  just, no.  make a cocktail at home and put it in a water bottle.  public drinking isn't allowed in chicago, unless you're inside the confines of a street fest.  and in that case, you don't have to consume only what the vendors offer.

entertainment.  focus on the cover bands more than the vendors.  trust me, the vendors have adorable things and if you have a shopping problem, you'll find things you want.  stick to watching the bands - they don't charge!  i'm biased, but you should definitely go see my friends sixteen candles and stache.

you can find more than one street fest in chicago every weekend from may through october.  but some of my upcoming favorites are:

taste of lakeview, july 11-12
taste of river north, july 17-19
taste of lincoln avenue, july 25-26
retro on roscoe, august 7-9
wrigleyville summerfest, august 8-9
and my personal favorite, northalsted market days, august 8-9.

the amount of time i spend at street fests during the summer months is rather unreasonable, but hey, free entertainment!  if you're ever in town during one and want to meet up, just let me know.

so what about you?  a fan of the free street fests - are there as many in your hometown? are you with me on free/frugal summer activities?

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