Meal Planning & Budgets


I absolutely love cooking and I even love meal planning but budgets, those I am not such a fan of.

As a single person I didn't cook as often because who wants to do the work to downsize a recipe or who wants 3 days of left overs? I ate a lot of Kashi Frozen Waffles or Cereal. Easy. So budgeting for food wasn't very necessary.

In a dating relationship, especially one in which I was in school and work full time, cooking was something both Paul and I took turns doing. I love being in the kitchen and whipping up something new. In fact, I am not very good at repeating recipes. There are just so many meal options out there. Again I never worried about budgeting for food because the cost was share between Paul and I.

Now married. And not just married - but married and my income is decreasing quite a bit with changing positions at work and only working full time as I complete an unpaid internship for my master's degree. Now I have a number I need to work with each month for planning meals.

This week, I gave my first try and planning a weeks worth of meals, shopping for that whole week and staying in a budget.

I didn't do so great. Don't get me wrong, the food is pretty fabulous (minus one day so far) but money wise I may have gone slightly over - by a LOT! I just get so excited to be back in the kitchen. I lost that excitement the month of July with finishing work, completing a tough summer quarter, and of course planning the wedding. I guess I have been a little too on fire!

Here is what I've been whipping up or will finish whipping up this week:
Sunday: Grilled Veggie Wraps - this has been the only failure - the sauce just didn't bring much to the party.

Monday: Shrimp and Succotash - Delicious & Easy!

Tuesday: Stuffed Chicken Breasts: picture goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and asparagus!

Wednesday: Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Braised Chard with Chickpeas - this meal we had company over and it was an overall hit!

Thursday: Loaded Bowl: Quinoa with Black Beans, Tomatoes, cilantro, avocado with a garlic sauce.

Friday: Garlicky Mussels & Cornbread - can't wait!

I am looking up sales & discounts for next week - but as you can imagine... it will be a more simple fare!

I would love to hear ideas, suggestions, inspiration for how others plan meals on a budget!

Back in the Bedroom!


I promise I am not obsessed with the bedroom. Well, not completely obsessed!

First, this post needs an intro regarding marriage. Married life. Meshing two lives. It is kind of an interesting concept that no one seems to talk about. Or maybe they don't talk about the nitty gritty. What is the nitty gritty? Well - it can be an anxious time meshing lives. Well, at least for me it was the first week back after the honeymoon.

I won't lie - I cried. I cried because I felt so unsettled. We had just returned from a wonderful week in worry-free Hawaii. But in Seattle my clothes were in boxes and I had just moved to where Paul had lived for almost 3 years. I had paperwork to do and agencies to contact and unpacking to do. I felt stressed and unsettled. And I felt awful for crying when I felt pressure (my own) to be happy because how could I be sad? I just married an amazing man!

Thankfully since cry-fest 2010 I've talked to some other girlfriends who had either cried the whole way back from the honeymoon or felt stressed and angered during the transition. I didn't quite feel as alone or abnormal - the latter being the most important.

So last week, Paul and I made a list, we checked it twice and we made a plan. Suddenly the impossible To Do List became the possible.

This brings me back to the bedroom and also lets me share about how wonderful Paul is. Last week we bought a dresser and some bookshelves for the bedroom and Paul put them together. We basically put the furniture where the only empty spaces were in the room. And I didn't like it. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I think the room didn't feel balanced. I don't think Paul liked it either. He mentioned we could rearrange but that sounded like more work than was worth the effort. I wasn't sure how to express that I felt dismayed.

Paul continued to persist the idea of rearranging the room completely - and assured me how quickly it would be to change it back if we didn't like it - so we got to work. Twenty minutes later we had a bedroom. A bedroom that I love and that is ours. Not just a room I am adapting to - but a room that is now adapted to us. Every time I walk into the room I feel happy and relaxed! Sometimes I just go up and sit in the bedroom!

I love that Paul knows and works past my apathy - my willingness to just give in because the work seems too hard. I am very blessed! Now I have had my touch on every room.

Paul's house is now our home!

Poor Bedside Manners


It seems fitting to have the first posting of the Paul + Charity Show be about our bedroom. Don't worry - I'll keep this PG13.

Paul and I are fresh off the wedding altar - meaning about 12 days ago we got hitched. Prior to this we have avoided sharing a bed together and now... well it would be kind of odd not to be sharing a bed ;)

Here is the dilemma: In the past 28 years I have only ever slept on a twin size bed. Kind of sad in a silly sort of way I know. Growing up this was fine, and then in college I was upgraded to an extra long twin - because at 5'2" I need all the extra leg room I can get. After college I had a brief stint with a full size futon, but the relationship fizzled quickly. Then I purchased my very own twin bed.

Why a twin? It's great. Fits me like a glove. I can lay in the middle and touch both ends. You see, I am an edge sleeper. I like to be at the very edge of the bed and sometimes I hang an arm or a leg or both over the side. In a twin I can quickly roll to either side and see which one I am the most comfortable with for the night.

Enter marriage. I now have the right side of the bed. It's comfortable, don't get me wrong, but so much space. Paul and I tend to start the night sort of in the middle and then suddenly I have edged myself all the way to the edge, and I typically take the blankets with me.

Will it take me 28 years to change this habit? Hopefully not. However, It really is just one of many "adjustments" and learning curves that seem to come with marriage. Well, learning curves, here we come!