Musings of a Museum Fanatic: January 2016

1.31.2016

5 Tips For a No Spend Month


With the holidays long over and pocketbooks definitely feeling the crunch I thought February would be a great time to start one of the spending freezes off my 101 List. Being the shortest month doesn't hurt either! With me being the researcher I've quickly come to realize that there is definitely prep work that is going to go into this last week of January before Kevin and I can hit the ground running on February 1.

Set ground rules both of you can stick to
Kevin and I sat down and took a look at our February calendars. Luckily for us we don't have much going on next month. This makes things much easier!! To really make it a successful month you have to have rules that can be agreed upon if you have a spouse or someone else you live with, if it's just you it makes this step way easy!

Our biggest excess spending is on eating out. We decided there would be none of that in February. Yes we realize Valentine's Day is in there, but I have two lovely lobster tails and two bacon wrapped filets just waiting for us in the freezer. All of which was bought at killer prices at the super market within the past month or so. 

Another rule we needed to make was what is considered a necessity purchase. For my job I need to be wearing business casual. At this point I have three pairs of black flats, all purchased super on sale for like $10 a pop and they were very flimsy to begin with and are now literally falling apart, it's almost to the point of embarrassing. I've been working on finding a good, well priced pair of flats that I can wear and move in. Since this really is a necessity if I need to keep looking for a pair in to February that's OK. Buying a top from NY because it's so cute ... that's a no go.     


Plan Then Plan Some More
This is probably the number one biggest and most important thing that needs to be done before attempting a no spend month. Besides planning out the rules of your spending freeze you need to look ahead and plan things like meals or any events that you have. Luckily we have no birthdays or any gift giving events that we have to plan for. If you do, set money aside specifically for that event. Can you buy the gift using a gift card that you already have? Go for it!

For us we want to really step our meal planning game. By planning ahead for the week or even two weeks we'll be using the proteins that we definitely already have along with minimizing our weekly spending at the grocery store.


Research Your Butt Off
With Pinterest, other bloggers and just Google searches in general there are so many tools right at your finger tips. Don't just go into a no spend month blind. Take some time and research what other people have done. Hearing how people have gone through there month can keep your motivation up and give you great advice on what to do and not to do.


Don't Go Crazy Afterwards
Just because you end up completing your no spend month doesn't mean go crazy and buy all the things! Once you've gotten in the groove of cutting back on spending don't let that groove go. I'm hoping that once we get into our meal planning it will keep going and we will keep cutting back on our eating out. It's going to be tough to keep the little extra spending done after February but I know that those little purchases every now and the add up to extra "stuff" around the house and can really add up to money out of the bank account.

Don't Let a Little Mess Up Get You Off Track
You're looking at someone who is the queen of the little extra items in the Target cart without even really paying attention. My plan is to really avoid that mindless spending but if I accidentally mess up it's ok. If it's something I can return I'll do that, if it's something I can't it will get used or eaten. Then I'll learn from that accident. 

1.26.2016

Frontera Grill

This past weekend Kevin and I had a fun little Chicago weekend. One of the parts of the weekend that Kevin was really looking forward to was getting to go to one of the many restaurants that are still on our "To Eat" list. Since it was Kevin's turn to pick the restaurant he decided on Frontera Grill.

For a long time now Kevin has been saying we need to visit the Rick Bayless restaurant but the past number of times we've been in the city we've been in different neighborhoods. This weekend ended up being perfect since not only were we staying a 7 minute walk from Frontera Grill but it was also the start of Chicago Restaurant Week 2016. Going to a place during restaurant week has been a goal of mine for a while since the prix fix menus allow you to eat at some very upscale and popular Chicago restaurants for a great price.

I decided to go with the Restaurant Week menu, while Kevin decided on ordering from the regular menu.


I ended up really enjoying the Smoky Winter Salad. It was roasted root vegetables sunflower shoots topped with a cilantro mayo and smoked queso fresco. While there was a bit of heat, I think from the mayo the combination of everything was a perfect bite.


For Kevin's main course he enjoyed the Tacos Arabes. Which were grilled pork with caramelized onions and cucumbers. There was also a spicy chipotle salsa and creamy jocoque sauce. I ended up stealing some of the jocoque sauce and the black beans to use with my duck and they were both fantastic.


From my menu I chose the Duck Tlatonile.Chili rubbed with braised spaghetti squash and spinach. It was wonderful. The duck was tender and moist, just a little hint of heat from the rub. Served with tortillas to make a wonderful taco. Yes I went rogue and added the beans and sauce, for me I think they both helped to mellow out the spice.


We ended the dinner by splitting the Pineapple Sopa de Frutas. It was a lovely little refreshing bite to end our evening. Frontera Grill was definitely a hit with us!

Have you been to Frontera? What would you recommend?

1.21.2016

Off Scale Weight Loss Victories to Celebrate



When you're loosing weight sometimes it's easy to get depressed when the scale doesn't reflect the work your putting in. I've always been a big proponent of celebrating the off scale victories. Since I've been working the Weight Watchers program this past year and a half I've encountered some insanely great off scale victories. Here are some of my favorite of scale victories that I have gotten to celebrate and love celebrating!

You buy something totally awful in a guilty moment and then once you're home you end up getting rid of it. Without eating any of it. 

That moment your favorite shirt which fit nicely is now noticeably huge on you.

Buying a smaller size at your favorite store!

When you smile you can tell your neck and jawline look more defined 

You can fit both hands in the waist band of your pants.

Being able to get your pants off without unbuttoning or unzipping them.

Everyone has been saying you look thinner but you finally are able to see it when you look in the mirror!

What have been some of your best off scale victories?!

1.15.2016

50 thoughts people have had about David Bowie while Watching Labyrinth

- What is with this music? When do I get to see David Bowie?
- That’s David Bowie singing! Yeesssss!
- Man this chick is really whiny. Shouldn’t David Bowie be here by now?
- Seriously where is David?


- OMG it’s him! In all his glorious 80s teased hair goodness.
- Aw he brought her a present how sweet.
- AH wtf?! Why would he throw a snake her?! Not cool!
- Is that his eyebrows or his eye makeup I can’t tell?
- Whoa. I would like to just walk away and disappear that would be sweet.
- Darn kid is crying all the time what a crap baby sitter
- This place is a mess. How can someone so fabulous live in that mess.

- A David Bowie song!!! Dance Magic!
- Pretty sure I need a walking stick with a glass ball like he has.
- This song is so glorious.
- Ummm I don’t think those pants are appropriate for a kid’s movie …
- I feel like I expected more of his dance moves in this song.
- Why are you throwing that kid so high? Clearly that’s not safe.


- You underestimate her!! She will totally kick your butt.
- That’s kinda jerky. Why can’t you just let her try instead of being deceitful!
- David your pants!
- Sara gave it to Hoggle as a gift don’t be mean now. The bracelet is very nice.
- Is it just me or is there a little bit of sexual tension between David and Sara?
- Wait his name is Jareth? We’re almost halfway through the movie and we’re just now finding this out?


- So what if he is running to help her. Maybe Hoggle is a nice guy.
- Seriously he’s told you his name 6 times now. How are you still having issues?
- Jareth really is in to this bog of stench. It must be pretty bad.
- I’m digging this song but am a bit disappointed there is no David.
- Now he remembers Hoggle’s name. I’m beginning to think he’s being a jerk on purpose.
- Wait he gave her a roofied peach?
- That’s pretty sweet I wish I could do cool hand tricks with pretty glass orbs like that.


- Ooo that mask reveal. Liked that a little too much.
- Ok so seriously the look between Sara and Jareth there is totally something going on.
- Why is he so into her?
- I mean come on he’s pretty much stalking her around the room.
- Oh my. If David Bowie came up to me and started dancing with me like that I’m pretty sure I’d faint.
- When did he get blue highlights?
- Is it bad that I’m somewhat disappointed all the shots were above the waist in this scene?
- Oh look she’s not so dumb is she? Got to the castle didn’t she? Little afraid now eh?
- This is ridiculous now you really need to change your pants.
- Whoa. I feel really trippy yet haven’t done any drugs …
- What the heck? Now Jareth can just walk through people and shit?


- I guess it’s good since now he’s at least changed his pants.
- He still really seems way to in to her. Isn’t she supposed to be like 14?
- DUDE your pants AGAIN. Now they’re white. This is way worse. What is with your weird cape thing too?
- Rule her? What kind of 1950s mumbo jumbo is that
- Darn skippy you have no power over her. Feminism boom.
- So he’s a bird now??
- David and a gospel choir? I dig it.

1.11.2016

The Four People You Encounter Shopping


'Twas the season to encounter a million people where ever you go. With Christmas shopping and after Christmas returning coming to a close I'm sure you encountered a few of these people in your merry way. Here are a few of my "favorite" people. 

Attached at the Hand Person This person is always on their phone. Usually texting or looking something up, never actually talking on the phone because that would make them less annoying and we wouldn't want to do that.

This person is not to be confused with those of us who when texting in public step to the side and out of the way. OH no this person has to stop right in the middle of traffic, usually with  someone else right behind them who almost runs them down.

The Tourist The tourist does not mean someone from out of town in this instance, at least they have an excuse. The tourist is that person or sometimes persons who just feel the need to meander aimlessly pausing every few feet like they've never been to a mall or out in the world before. Resulting in a zigzag pattern that you can never quite get around, resulting in a 10 minute trek to that store on the other side that should only be 3 minutes. This is especially annoying and it seems you always encounter them when in a hurry.

The Spawn
I very much enjoy kids, you get me started on my nephew and I'll show you photos for an hour but the spawn you can encounter will drive you crazy. There is always that one kid in the adult store, who has clearly had enough but yet said spawn's parental unit seems to not even realize it brought along a kid that day.

This tends to result in one or more of these reactions, a massive temper tantrum brought on by wanting whatever item is near by and being told no, running around the store creating an insanely loud disturbance to which every one else in the store is staring at, or throwing items that will inevitably hit me, my cart or come darn close.

The Runner
I will admit to being one of those people who when they're out and about with a mission to being go, go, go. I attribute it to commuting for three years when I was interning at several of the big Chicago museums. Even though I walk like I'm on a mission I'm no where near as bad as The Runners.

At least I care about running in to people. With Runners it's like they don't even seen the people around them. People walking towards a Runner? You better move out of the way because The Runner is definitely NOT going to do the courtesy side bob as you come at each other. The Runner will mow you down.


1.08.2016

Music of the Early 2000's You Totally Forgot About

With most radio stations only playing the top 5 songs of the moment you tend to forget about those songs that you loved so much from just a few years ago. Needless to say who even remembers songs from 10 years ago these days?! There are some songs that stick out in your mind for sure but I know there are some killer tunes that you've probably forgotten all about. Here's a few from the early 2000's you might want to reminisce about. 













1.06.2016

5 Reasons Carrie Fisher is a Bad Ass

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens rocking the world right now means Carrie Fisher is back in full force and just as incredible as ever.

1. She doesn't take crap from anyone.





2. Her relationship with her dog Gary who has his own Twitter by the way.

3. Carrie's mom is the amazingly talented and just as hilarious. Besides her wonderful early works like Singin' in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown, have you seen her in Will & Grace and One for the Money? HILARIOUS. Now we know where Carrie gets it from.

4. She says stuff like this ...

"I think that's stupid. The father who flipped out about it, 'What am I going to tell my kid about why she's in that outfit?' Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn't like it. And then I took it off. Backstage."

5. This interview is everything. Seriously I've watching it almost a dozen times now. I die.

1.04.2016

My 2016 To Do List

Like a lot of people, I really try not to put the term resolution out there with what I'm working on. I'd much prefer to call it a 2016 To Do List. That sounds so much better doesn't it? Plus who doesn't love crossing things off their to do list? I know I do!

1. My adulting. This year both Kevin and I are really going to work on a number of items in this area of our lives. Organization and finances being the two big ones. I'm participating in #minsgame this month with Stephanie (and anyone else who wants to join in!). A late night chat New Years Eve also brought about some scheduling of areas to be purged. Kevin and I decided that if we put it on our schedules we would be less likely to bum around and not do it.

We also really want to take control of our finances this year. Next month we'll be attempting a spending frost! January will be prepping for said frost. Budgeting and investing are also on our 2016 to do list.

2. Not getting sucked into time sucks. Time sucks have been a big issue for me this year. I've not only let them suck my time but also have let them get my motivation down. As you can see by my total posts from this year as opposed to the previous years! I want to stop getting distracted and putting things off and take care of them right away.

3. Stepping up my weight loss efforts. Since starting back up on Weight Watchers over a year ago I've been slowly working on my weight loss. I've lost 25.4 pounds total! Which I feel really awesome about but I know the past few months I've been allowing myself to plateau and slack. I don't want to let myself get stuck on this plateau like I have in the past, it's not a fun place and it ended up getting me really discouraged then leaded to quitting.  

4. Be more present with friends. Because of the second half of 2014, 2015 turned into the year of the family. Kevin and I really spent a ton of time with our families, which is definitely not a bad thing! Although looking back I do feel like I wasn't as present with friends as I want to be. Therefore 2016 will be the year of the friend! Instead of talk about oh the next time we get together Jackie and I will cook, no we're going to say pick a date let's plan it!

What's on your 2016 To Do list?

1.01.2016

The #MinsGame Challenge {There's a Prize!}


Since january is land of the resolutions, I figured the best way to start my year was with a good declutter. Christmas brings an influx of new things so i like to clear out the old, get the decor into storage, etc etc. Per usual, Stephanie has talked me into doing some sort of challenge, where whoever lasts the longest in the 30 day minimalism game would get lunch/dinner treated. Pretty sure I'm going to win since I actually have stuff left to purge!

The more we talked about it and shared with other people the more people seemed interested in it, so here we are - Stephanie and I are hosting a de-clutter challenge and to the victor goes a prize. a container store gift card!!!

Starting today January 1, we're playing the #minsgame. Essentially it works like this - on day one, you get rid of one item. on day two, two items. all the way up to January 31, when you get rid of 31 items. (and get rid of means trashing, selling, or donating.) It ends up being almost 500 items, a major dent in your clutter stash. but don't worry, it won't be too hard. think of all the pens, junk mail, broken ornaments, magazines, perfume samples ... it adds up. Plus think about how much more ruthless you'll be when a prize is on the line.

So join us! We want to see your de-clutter. Use the #minsgame hashtag so we can see your progress on twitter and Instagram. tag me in your photos. Start the new year off with a beautifully de-cluttered house. (and then beautifully organize what's left with the gift card you could win.)

Some basic rules:
- The person who gets the most stuff out of their house wins the prize. pretty simple! I'll be following the challenge, 1 on day 1, 2 on day 2, etc, if you feel like you want to do it all in one weekend, you can do that too. What matters is your total count at the end. Which may mean going past 500 items!
- Re: sets of things. it actually counts as two. say you get rid of a pair of weights or a pair of shoes. that counts as two items. but not every individual scrap of paper. if you get rid of a manual, that's one item. or a folder of bank statements, one item. if you have any questions, ask in the comments and Steph will answer.
- Challenge ends at the end of the day on January 31. We'll be asking for your totals on February 1.

Oh and we're going on the honor system, because I know anyone who's going to be on board for this is a friend. I believe you if you say you trashed/donated what you said you did. pictures are always great though, so take a selfie at the salvation army drop off and tag us in it!

So who's in? Let me know in the comments!