Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The "Best-Of" Thrifty Date Idea List

I originally made this list as part of a wedding gift and I thought I'd share :)

I've been scouring the internet for a while for THE best cheap date ideas around and here's what I've come up with! Some of these would be perfect for a group date, with kids, or just the two of you.

I chose dates that don't require much planning or cash and seemed the most interesting and doable. Enjoy!
©   Take the awesome 5 love languages quiz! Make a goal to love your spouse in his/her love language this week:
©   Go on a “dessert only date”. Eat a simple meal at home and then splurge on a fancy dessert at your favorite restaurant!
©   Make your own fondue! Melt a bag of chocolate chips in your crockpot and dip fresh fruit, marshmallows, cake, cookies, or pretzels.
©   Take a walk around your neighborhood and discuss what your ideal home would look like.
©   Dollar date! Eat off of the dollar menu and then hit up the dollar store. Split up and buy something funny/meaningful that reminds you of your spouse.
©   Game Night! Pull out your board games and see who the games master is! Invite another couple to make it extra fun!
©   Homemade pizza! Make a pizza together from scratch! (Or almost from scratch!J)
©   Be a tourist in your own city. List the local attractions you’ve never explored, pick one, and plan an outing for FHE or a date night with another couple.  
©   Go to a thrift store and pick out an outfit for your spouse to try on. Be as outrageous as you like. Take pictures!
©   Have a picnic in a local park. If you don’t have time to prepare a full meal pick up a pizza. For cold weather, be sure to have a flask of hot cocoa!
©   Go to a play! Whether at your local theater or the local high school, there’s usually something going on. Afterwards discuss why you liked or disliked it.
©   Check out a local museum. Take a guided tour if possible. Talk about what you like and don’t like. Learn something new!
©   Living room campout! Take the mattress into the living room (or set up a tent!), watch a movie and roast mini s’mores over a candle! (Chocolate chip, mini marshmallow with a toothpick & life cereal.)
©   Volunteer for an hour or two at a soup kitchen, old people’s home, or somewhere else they could use a helping hand.
©   Ask a couple you know if you can babysit their children for an evening while they go on a date or to the temple. Practice your parenting skills!
©   Go to the Temple. Take your time and discuss things on your mind or things you learned.
©   Have a coupon date! Only do things you have a coupon for. Check out: and find your city!
©   Take a drive to somewhere pretty. Discuss the future family traditions you’d like to have.
©   Movie marathon! Find a trilogy or series you love. Start early and be prepared with snacks! Great ideas include Pride and Prejudice, LOTR, Harry Potter, or Star Wars.
©   Have a spa night. Learn how to massage and practice on each other. De-stress! Light some candles & play relaxing music.
©   Try a new restaurant in your area. Ask the waiter what he/she recommends and try the suggestion.
©   Get to know each other better with these downloadable 20 questions: Print them, take snacks and enjoy each other.
©   Write a bucket list. List things you want to do before you die and then go do one and cross it off!
©   Have a gratitude date. Talk about people who have positively affected your lives and write and mail them a note of thanks.
©   Go to the local arcade! Challenge each other, go solo, team up, then and buy something with the tickets you win!
©   Make a goals time capsule! Discuss your goals and write down 5, 10, and 30 year goals. Write the date when they should be opened. Store in an appropriate place.
©   Plan a restaurant-at-home date! Find a copycat recipe from your favorite recipe and make it together at home. Include a dessert, too, if you’re feeling creative!
©   Go for a walk. If it’s cold, wrap up have some hot cocoa waiting for you. If it’s hot, have smoothie ingredients ready to go.
©   Go to your local pool room. Spend an hour seeing who the real pool shark is and then get some ice-cream.
©   Go to your local library and check out your favorite movies as kids. Make your favorite treats from childhood and talk about what you wanted to be when you grew up.
©   Snuggle up on the couch and read together. Share your favorite book, a church book, or a Newbery award winner and take turns reading. 

I'm an Alien...

...I'm a legal alien. I'm an Englishwoman in Utaaaah..! 

It's that time again! Time to file my paperwork with the government... AGAIN. I'm so glad I have Sting to keep me company. Right now I'm a conditional permanent resident. After this round I'll be a permanent resident. If I so choose, citizenship is just a year or so after that. 

It's all very complicated and expensive. 

The other day I was filling out a change of address form and I wasn't sure which "date of entry" they wanted. (As a student or as a permanent resident?) So I called, got cut off, then called a couple more times, and then was told they couldn't advise me on that. 

It's quite the rigmarole.

On a more positive note, unless I go for citizenship (which I might for the sake of the next election, if my pride will allow it) after this cycle I won't have to worry about it for 10 years! Glory!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Life in Challenges!

FitSugar's Motivational Fitness Quotes
Recently I've been seeing my life in challenges. (In a good way!) Brian showed me the "Try something new for 30 days" in October and we each chose something to do for the rest of that month. Brian chose to read a primary literature article in his field every day, and I chose a few smaller things, like making sure I plan, stretch, and write in my journal daily. It went pretty well, and we definitely achieved more in those areas than we would have otherwise. 

Since then I've been seeing my life in challenges! The ones that come to mind right now are: "how long we can go without grocery shopping?" (aka the shop-from-my-pantry challenge); the "I-left-my-straightener-in-Idaho" challenge (lets see if I can make it to Christmas with only a curling iron!); and the "how long can I go still using cloth diapers?" challenge. 

It's kind of fun, and I think the thought-process changes otherwise difficult and potentially unpleasant tasks into goals. It creates more accountability too which is essential for tracking progress and personal growth. I think December is going to be a combo of exercise/Christmas prep/don't-gain-20-pounds challenges.

Have you guys ever tried a 30-day challenge? I'd love to hear how they went!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Once I was Famous (And other General Conference Reflections)

I can't believe General Conference was only like a month and half ago! I got to go to the Relief Society broadcast AGAIN this year! It was so, so great. Especially Sister Reeves' talk. Lovely.

Another great thing was that one of the official looking photographers was following us and I was just SURE we were going to be in the November Ensign... So (of course) as soon as it arrived I scoured the whole thing and, nope, me and my cute friends were nowhere to be seen! So gutting. Then I whipped out this old clip and I felt much better. Me and the brethren. I think it was October 2009, just after I got home from my mission. Good times! (By the way, feel free skip to about 2:20 to get right to my 4 seconds of fame:)

They sort of made out I came all the way from England, even though I told them I was a BYU student... honest!

Well, at least now I can focus on the talks! (And there's always next year!!) Just kidding... Well... mostly ;)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Black Bean Soup

This soup is great, and so easy! I've pinched it from these ladies (who have some great recipes but don't wear too many clothes). Thus the repost. Enjoy!

4 cans of Black Beans
1 cup tomatoes, diced
2 cups Vegetable Juice (tomato, V-8 etc.)
2 Tbs. Cumin
Pinch of Sea Salt
1/4 cup Jalapeno, diced
1 1/2 Tbs. Chili Powder
1 1/2 tsp. Oregano
1 Tbs. Coriander
1 1/2 tsp. Basil
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
2 tsp. all-natural, unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Tbs. Ground Flax Seed
1/3 cup Olive Oil
2 Onions, diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
Juice of 1 Orange
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar

In a skillet saute onions, peppers and garlic until onions turn clear. Add all ingredients into crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours. If desired, remove a portion of the contents of the pot and puree using a blender or a food processor. Stir the puree back into the pot for a smoother creamier soup ;)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Going Cloth

We realized it was time to switch to cloth diapers when at Isaac's 4 month check-up the doctor remarked "oh, wow, he's just about out of 3's!" As in size 3 diapers. (Size 4 is usually for 1 to 2 year olds, I understand, and even the cheaper brands are usually about 20 cents per diaper...!) 

And so for the past month or so we have been solely using cloth diapers. In another couple of weeks, they will have more than paid for themselves. Here are the pros and cons:

  • Cheaper. We spent just less than $60 for everything, which depending on size and brand could pay for itself in 1 to 2 months. 
  • MUCH less trash and thus more environmentally friendly, even given the extra laundry.
  • Way fewer blowouts that actually make it onto his clothing.
  • Once you get the hang of it, there are ways around actually touching anything gross, even during the laundry process.
  • Laundry must be done every day or two days.
  • More leakage (not too much more, but still more) = more changes of clothes and the occasional smell of pee (lovely!). Though I have heard of others who have no leaks; perhaps the brand makes the difference.
  • If you use trifold inserts it makes for a bigger booty and so some of his smaller pants, shorts, and onesies don't fit with those inserts. 

Honestly, the first week was GROSS. Getting the hang of cloth was like re-learning how to change diapers. -Not super difficult but learning the nuances meant some gross experiences. I also had only bought 2 covers, as you're supposed to be able to use them for multiple changes (which is true sometimes depending on your insert and how wet it is). I bought more.

Here's what I think the minimum actually is:
  • A washer & if possible a dryer (line drying would take a long time but if you have enough covers & inserts it could work). If you don't have access to a washing machine cloth probably wouldn't be the better option financially (and also in terms of time).
  • A wet bag (a waterproof zippered/drawstring bag to store soiled diapers until they can be laundered) and one that can be machine washed & dried. (This lady makes her own.)
  • At least 3 or 4 covers (and even then you may go through more than that in one day; be prepared to handwash so you'll always have a clean one.) 6 or 7 would be preferable.  
  • At least enough inserts as diaper changes per day plus 2 (if you can do laundry EVERY day. If every 2 days then double that number).
Am I glad we went cloth? Some days. Especially when I think about how much we're saving. There's always at least one day each week I wish I had a few disposables. I think I'll buy some for long car-rides, day trips, and for babysitters.

Have any of you tried cloth? I'd love to hear about your experiences and any advice! We also (more recently) switched to cloth wipes. Maybe I'll post about that another day. Let me know if you have any questions! :)
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