Musings of a Museum Fanatic: April 2020

4.29.2020

Deep Covered Baker No-Knead Bread

Since we're stuck at home more because of Stay at Home I actually have more time to make more of the from scratch recipes we enjoy. I have made this bread recipe before but it's been a long time. It's a super simple recipe that uses one of my favorite Pampered Chef stoneware ... the Deep Covered Baker.

Even though the recipe is super simple it does take time for the dough to rise. Hence why we don't make it as much as we should because it's delicious. I made it Saturday and half the loaf is gone, I've only had one piece!
Deep Covered Baker No-Knead Bread by Musings of a Museum Fanatic #recipe #cooking


Ingredients: 
3 C. all-purpose flour
1-2 Tbs Pantry® Seasoning Mix or Rub
1 tsp quick-rising yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 C. water
3 Tbs canola or olive oil, divided


Directions: 
1. Mix flour, seasoning mix, yeast and salt in large mixing bowl. Add water and 2 Tbs of the oil to flour mixture. Stir until blended. (Dough will be slightly sticky.)

Deep Covered Baker No-Knead Bread by Musings of a Museum Fanatic #recipe #cooking

2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 6-10 hours or until dough is doubled in size.

3. Brush Deep Covered Baker with remaining 1 tbsp oil using Chef’s Silicone Basting Brush.

Deep Covered Baker No-Knead Bread by Musings of a Museum Fanatic #recipe #cooking

4. Place dough onto a floured Pastry Mat; lightly sprinkle top of dough with flour. Fold dough over itself three or four times and place in baker.

5. Microwave 2 cups water in Small Batter Bowl on HIGH 3-5 minutes or until boiling.

6. Place uncovered baker into a cold oven and place batter bowl next to baker. Close oven. Let dough rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Deep Covered Baker No-Knead Bread by Musings of a Museum Fanatic #recipe #cooking

7. Carefully remove baker from oven to avoid deflating dough. Remove batter bowl from oven. Preheat oven to 450°F

Deep Covered Baker No-Knead Bread by Musings of a Museum Fanatic #recipe #cooking

8. Cover baker with lid and bake 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 10-15 minutes or until bread is deep golden brown.

Deep Covered Baker No-Knead Bread by Musings of a Museum Fanatic #recipe #cooking

9. Remove baker from oven. Carefully remove bread from baker to Stackable Cooling Rack; cool at least 20 minutes.
Deep Covered Baker No-Knead Bread by Musings of a Museum Fanatic #recipe #cooking

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

4.17.2020

Ways to Stay Out of Debt

Now that Kevin and I have paid off our debt it's top of our list to make sure we stay out of debt! We've already wandered back into debt once and we're not going to do that again. Staying out of debt will allow us to do things like travel and improve our home that we wouldn't be able to do while we had debt.

I think staying out of debt might be a much harder process than getting out. It's like maintaining a weight loss. So I've come up with a few ways I think will help keep us and you out of debt.



Stop creating more debt
This seems really obvious but I think sometimes the most obvious things need to be said. Kevin and I have talked in detail about our mistakes that we made with going into debt for our cars. We discussed what we need to do in the future when it comes time to purchase new cars and what we will do to actively avoid taking out debt on them.

What are some ways that you actively avoid going into more debt?

Keep a detailed budget
For years we talked about actually budgeting and then at the start of our journey last year it just clicked. We started using EveryDollar Budget and it's been great. We make sure every dollar has a job each month.

Keeping a detailed budget every month will focus you and your finances. It will help when big purchases are on the horizon. You'll be able to budget and save for them instead of taking out more debt to purchase whatever it is.

Build an Emergency Fund
Stuff happens. Life happens. Sometimes it costs us money. Having an emergency fund will help when those life moments come up. I'm not talking about oh I want a new pair of shoes and I didn't budget for it. I'm talking about I ran over a bed of nails and all my tires blew out. Now I need to spend money and replace all my tires. An actual emergency.

Cut up your credit cards
I will admit this is something that I've had an issue with when it came to Dave Ramsey's baby steps. Kevin and I never take out a balance on our cards. We pay them off every month and don't put anything more on them than we have budgeted. While we haven't closed all of them we are closing most of them. 

I know that there are a lot of people who aren't able to be disciplined with their cards. That is how they end up in credit card debt. If you're one of those people cutting up your cards is the best solution. It keeps away the temptation of it. You only spend what you have in your account.

Keep learning about finances
Continuously learning about any type of subject will allow you to understand it better and become an expert. This is no different when it comes to your finances. Before last spring we knew we had to budget and do better but didn't know exactly what we should be doing. Well that's where resources like Financial Peace University, Total Money Makeover, The Millionaire Next Door and every financial article that popped up in my news feed came in.

I've been reading everything financial that comes across my plate. At this point I'm definitely not an expert but I sure know way more about finances and paying off debt than I did last year. Next year I'll know even more than I do know. We should always been learning and improving ourselves in every area. It can only benefit us!

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

4.13.2020

Chicago Food Hacks

For a long time people didn't think of Chicago as a foodie town but we've really become one of if not the best food city in the United States. I mean come on we're the home of such amazing foods like brownies and the pizza puff. There are lots of food choices to pick from here in the Chicago area so it can be quite overwhelming. I've got some hacks for you to make the most out of your delicious Chicago visit.

Chicago Food Hacks by Musings of a Museum Fanatic

Chicago pizza is more than just deep dish
Yes we know that our deep dish pizza is super iconic. Frankly most of us tend to not eat deep dish that often. Locals will enjoy a Chicago thin crust pizza more often. Our cracker thin, crunchy thin crust is a a beautiful thing. Check out my Guide to Chicago Pizza for some ideas to get you out of that deep dish rut.

Check out restaurants along the river and lake
The last several years Chicago has become known for our amazing rooftop bars and restaurants. While you can find some amazing views when you head to those restaurants I always recommend that people head a little lower for some great views. There aren't quite as many restaurants along the river and lake as rooftops but you'll find great food and a unique view that you can't go wrong with.

Head outside of the Loop
You'll find some great options inside the Loop but some of my favorite places aren't anywhere near the Loop! The West Loop is home to a crazy amount of high rated restaurants. You'll find the likes of Stephanie Izard's restaurant empire and other amazing places. Since a lot of my friends have lived in the Lakeview/Lincoln Park neighborhoods a lot of my favorites like Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba and The Galway Arms. Be sure to look at all your options before you visit.

Visit a food hall
Food halls have popped up all over Chicago. From Revival Food Hall to Eataly you'll find something that will satisfy your tastes. If you're looking to try a lot of different Chicago restaurants a food hall is the perfect place. You'll find Chicago institutions like Antique Taco, Smoque BBQ and The Fat Shallot along with tons of other options in one spot. That's just looking at Revival Food Hall! Try one or try them all.

Track down a food truck
Chicago is home to some great food trucks. From lobster rolls to perogies to cupcakes you can find a food truck that will satisfy any hunger you've got. It might take a bit of looking to find them but it will be worth it. My favorites are the Happy Lobster and Beavers Doughnuts.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

4.08.2020

How to Create a Routine

How to Create a Routine by Musings of a Museum Fanatic #improving


Most of us always have tons happening in our lives. Maybe we're married with kids so we've got tons happening in our spouse and kids' lives or maybe it's just us but we've got tons every month on our own schedule. Even with all of our simplifying tools around us it can be tough to create a a good solid routine in our lives.

Kind of like how I keep trying to start my meal prep routine which sometimes last two weeks but then schedules intrude and make it hard. I am still working hard to create routines in our life. Do you have any routines that you follow? Or a specific schedule you follow?

Routines have become even more important the past several weeks of staying at home. Kevin and my normal routine the first two weeks was a hot mess and we felt that mess! The last week of March we sat down and talked through how we can bring back routine to our lives.

Routines benefit you and everyone who is a part of your family even your pet! Here's how to work on creating a new routine.

Use a planner & make time

You can't really make a routine if you don't even know what your schedule is like right? Of course right! This is where having a good planner comes in. I've mentioned that I go the digital route but there are so many great paper options out there if you're a paper person. One way I create a routine with my work calendar is that I block out the time I leave every day. Since I work 7-3:30 which is an off schedule for people at my work people kept booking meetings past the end of my day. When I realized I could put in the calendar that I leave at 3:30 it made the routine much easier! So don't just use the planner book time for those tasks you want to make into a routine.

Prioritize your time

It's easy to slip into routines that don't actually focus on things that really matter to you. Do you find yourself overly focused on the routine of cooking for everyone in your house but never getting to really enjoy the time with them once your done cooking? Is making dinner really the routine that you should be prioritizing? Or is it spending dinner with your family?

Hopefully it's the second one. Although I know we could all use a break from family every now and then ha! Take a look at why you're spending your time on these routines. Make sure they they benefit you, your life and the goals you want to achieve. 

Change up "routines" that aren't working

Sometimes we think a routine is working for us but it's really not. I was getting into the routine of looking through my email and Facebook while I was lying in bed waking up every morning. It took me a little bit to realize that this routine was eating up valuable time in the morning. It was a bad routine and habit! Do you have any bad routines in your life? It's a good thing to evaluate all your current routines every now and then to make sure they're actually benefiting you.

Say No

Right now that's pretty easy for us since we're all supposed to be staying in our homes but I know before and when things go back to normal most of have crazy schedules. Having so much on our calendars and our plates isn't always a good thing. 

Sometimes we fill up our schedules with so much that we're not really giving the right amount of attention to anything we're doing. It can make our routines so crazy it's hard to keep track. The past year I've been slowly working on saying no and making my routines and schedules simpler. 

It's been things like instead of serving on the board of my sorority alumnae group I'm just enjoying being a member and going to the events. It allows me to still enjoy seeing my sorority sisters every month but not taking up other random time throughout the month.

Create rituals

Routines and rituals are pretty similar but I think sometimes when we make things a ritual it's more enjoyable. Kevin and I have developed getting ready for bed rituals where we brush our teeth and get ready together, we make faces at each other and talk about silly things. It seems a little rom com-ish but turning it into a special ritual made a big difference in us sticking to a bed time and a getting ready for bed routine.

Are there any areas of your life that you can turn into a ritual instead of just a routine?

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

4.03.2020

3 Questions to Help Declutter Quick



Starting to declutter can be tough if you've never really done it before. Like anything in life you don't always know where to start. When I work on going through and decluttering I always ask myself three questions that help decide to keep or get rid of stuff.

Is it broken?
This is a simple question that you would think we wouldn't need to ask ourselves but I've found it to be necessary. Sometimes we keep something that's broken because we think we'll fix it up. Sometimes we keep something that's broken because it is something that contains a lot of memories for us.

Are you really going to fix that broken item? If so then get on it and fix it right away! If not get rid of it. Keeping sentimental items is a little more tricky. If it's something like your grandfather's watch that he always kept with him but now it doesn't work that's something I'd be more inclined to keep than a random doll you had growing up that has no more hair.

When was the last time you used it?
If you haven’t used it in 6 months to a year it's gone. I used to be the queen of I might use this some day or I spent money it so I'm going to keep it. Am I the only one who feels like this?

I've learned the past couple of years on my decluttering journey that if I'm not actually going to use it there is no point to keep it. Best of all don't buy stuff like that in the first place.

Can it be digital?
As I go back through boxes with my graduate school papers and readings I've been working to digitize them. I only reference them about once a year so there is no reason to physically keep them but I don't want to get rid of the information. Another one is physical recipes. I'm working with Mom to go through her recipes and scan them. No more clutter in that one kitchen drawer and she can search and find the recipe super fast.

Do you have anything in your life that could be digitized instead of keeping the physical copy?

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

4.01.2020

Why You Should Pay Off Debt

It's been a crazy couple of weeks to say the least hasn't it? I've been in a bit of a sadness/grief with what's been happening so I've been quiet here on the blog. Trying to get my evenings back to normal so I wanted to write on some of the topics that have been in my head for a while.

Last spring Kevin and I kind of had a bit of a financial freak out during purchasing our home. Even though we weren't going over our budget for a home that combined with our debts we realized that it was nuts. We finally bit the bullet and took Financial Peace University. If you're not familiar with Dave Ramsey you should check out his book Total Money Makeover. It takes you through his principals of getting out of debt and building wealth. 
Why You Should Pay Off Debt by Musings of a Museum Fanatic


We realized that we had somehow wandered back into debt by taking out loans on cars when we really didn't need to. In the past we had tackled my student loans and literally had no debt! What were we thinking? It was too easy to go back into debt. 

Staying out of debt is really tough. It can seem so innocent having a car loan. You have to have a car right? Well there are some pretty important reasons to not have debt in your life. 

Reduce your bills
I think everyone can relate to the love of not having as many bills right? Well pay off that debt.Less debt equals less bills.  

You're spending more than you can afford
I think this is the mantra we had when we wandered back into debt. It's just X amount per month we can totally afford that. That type of thinking is what will get you in trouble. It's not about the monthly payment it's about the entire amount. You will payment yourself to death and deep debt. 

You're losing more money
This goes hand in hand with spending more than you can afford. You think you can totally afford a payment but have you ever looked at how much extra money you're spending by keeping all those payments? As we were working on finishing out our car debt I did the math on how much our interest was each month and it was like $60. That doesn't seem like a lot but it could be a nice dinner out! You don't even want to know how much extra you'd pay if you actually keep to the 30 year mortgage payoff. 

Have financial freedom
Have you ever been so worried about not making all your payments for the month? Maybe you realized a year into paying off something that it was just too much to handle. Having debt makes you beholden to those debts and the holders of your debt. This does not make for a happy life. 

It makes for stress and worry. Not having debts is a freeing experience. Turning in that last payment for our cars was so incredibly freeing! I can't wait to have that feeling when it comes to our home. Financial freedom isn't just a feeling though. It allows you to enjoy life. Without debt you're able to do things you've always wanted to do. Go on awesome trips. Give to others. Whatever you've always wanted to do but say to yourself if only I had the money. 

Increase your wealth
Having debt is a sneaky way to not have wealth. I always thought we were doing well since we could afford the stuff we wanted and could do things that we enjoyed. The more Kevin and I started to learn about debt and how it affects your finances the more we realized that really we were broke. 

It doesn't matter if you have savings if you have debt. They cancel each other out so you're actually in reality broke. This concept took some getting used to but when we accepted it we wanted to change that! Now moving forward we can work on our wealth building full force. 

Reduce risk
Debt is risky. You don't know what could happen in life. As someone who hit adulthood right as the Great Recession was starting I can attest to that. I'm not talking about just something financial. Nothing is ever certain. Who knows if you are still going to be at your current job. Maybe someone passes away. Who knows what things good or bad could totally change your life. 

If you're in debt this is a huge risk with all sorts of big life changes that could happen at any time. I believe this now more than ever. I'm so glad we don't have the car debt anymore. Who wants to deal with something that can be preventable risk?  

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!