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Been awhile, huh?

Without going into too much detail, I will tell you three things.

1. Work has been picking up lately! Which doesn’t affect my home life, but it just means I have less energy in my down time for extra things. But that stops now.

2. My dear D has made a life change that means he works a different job that is more “shift” based. We’re not both on a 9-5 schedule anymore. (Which I think is sort of neat! More below.)

3. We got engaged! That’s right, guys. Two weeks ago while we were vacationing in New Mexico, D asked me to marry him, and I said yes. We don’t have details yet, but I am sure the blog will explode with DIY madness in the months to come. In the meantime, I am stocking up on all the sane, awesome, relevant, budget advice of the blog A Practical Wedding.

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So, more on why D and I working opposite schedules is a neat thing.

I clean better when my partner isn’t at home. We have a pretty even partnership around the house– we both cook, we both take care of the cats, we both clean and do the laundry. He is more apt to take out the garbage and do car maintenance, and I am more likely to do “deep” cleaning. But I just don’t want to do that when he’s home. Every have that “clean the bathroom” moment when a 15-minute quick scrub turns into a 2-hour ordeal with you surrounded by every tube of mascara you’ve ever purchased? Yeah, I don’t do that when he’s home. And we live in a small, one-bedroom apartment, where we plan to stay for the next several years while D goes back to school. We also have a lot of hobbies. And when I say a lot, I mean we camp, I can and preserve, he homebrews, I cook and collect cookbooks, he paints, we both are digital and analog photographers, he’s still building a boat, and we garden. Plus we have cats. This is a lot of activity for 700 square feet, and it takes up a lot of space.

Enter the June Home Cleanse, which I’ve closely modeled after the January Home Cure from Apartment Therapy. See, if I’m going to spend the next year making jam favors, DIY-ing centerpieces, printing my own invites, and homebrewing enough beer for 100 people, I need to make some space in my life to do those things. Did I mention my little sister is also getting married? And I am the maid of honor? No? Yeah, you see what I mean. I need to make physical room in my home for all the good things that are happening over the course of the next year. I also need to jump-start this blog, and I love a good project, especially one that involves making a plan and following a list of pre-set instructions. I’m halfway d0ne with the Couch to 5k running program, with no running experience, basically because it’s set up so that every day, the program tells me what to do. I’m just obeying orders. Somehow, this is easier for me. Plus, at the end of the June Home Cleanse, I get to throw a dinner party!

June may not be the best month for this, since I’m taking a week off soon to go out of town, but the program is actually 3 weeks, not 4, so I figure it will be easy enough to catch back up when I’ve returned from my trip. But this summer is so busy for my new fiance, as he’s taking 3 classes and working full time at a new job, so this seems as good a time as any to start making space in our home for all the good that’s entering our lives.

Day 1 starts tomorrow morning, when I’ll be walking through my home and making a list of small and large things I want to improve. Basically, you want to make a list as you slowly walk through your home of things you want to change. Then, sit down with your list and break it up by room. Edit the list until you have only 3-5 items per room, so you don’t get overwhelmed. We won’t be tackling all of these projects this month, so don’t worry. This is month 1 of a long-term plan to declutter our homes and make them more pleasant, serene places to be. I can already think of several things, but I’m going to post the final list tomorrow. See Apartment Therapy’s Day 1 post for more details, and let me know if you’re joining me!

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I’m not fully recovered from Christmas yet, so I don’t have any new projects, posts, or recipes for you. What I do have is what I’m eating this week! 

D and I are embarking on a financial cleanse this month, wherein the goal is to spend as little money as possible. We’re meal planning with whatever’s in our pantry and freezer, and aiming to spend as little as possible at the grocery store. (Bonus: our bodies get to recover from a solid week of delicious, rich dinners, sweet and decadent desserts, and way too much fast food on the road!) 

I keep track of our weekly dinner plan with a post-it app on my desktop. If you could scroll further down the post-it, you would see the grocery list, and some ideas for next week. (Singapore noodles!) Some of the dishes on the post-it look complicated or expensive, but that just goes to show you how much we have in the freezer that we need to eat! 

  • Monday: Nachos. A riff on spicy tequila nachos, but without the peppers. We’ll use pickled peppers instead, and add a sauteed onion for freshness. What I’m using up: The rest of some canned beans we opened last week; the last of the cheddar. 
  • Tuesday: Tomato pasta with bacon. What I’m using up: The remains of a can of crushed tomatoes from last week’s homemade pizza. 
  • Wednesday: Butternut squash risotto. I made chicken stock this weekend with some veggies and a chicken carcass from the freezer, and we still have a mountain of butternut we grew in our garden. 
  • Thursday: Teriyaki salmon. Ok, this isn’t teriyaki, per se, but I can read my own mind, so it’s cool. A long time ago, in a grocery store far, far away, we bought a huge whole salmon on sale and stuck it in the freezer. Then we forgot about it. This week, we find out if it survived freezer burn! We’ll roast some squash and cook some rice to go with it. 
  • Friday: Shrimp scampi pasta. Hooray for a buttery, starchy, fast Friday night meal, and we had the presence of mind to buy frozen shrimp on sale several weeks ago! 
  • Saturday, we have plans. We get to leave the house! 
  • Sunday: Homemade pizza, on which will go more of the butternut squash, plus a potato and maybe a leek. 

I have to say, even on our super low-budget meal plan, we are eating pretty well. This week isn’t super heavy on the fresh vegetables, but in my defense, we did conquer a whole head of cauliflower last week, and there is some sort of thing-that-grew-in-the-ground at every meal. It could definitely be worse. 

Pesto Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes
Serves 2
Note: These roasted tomatoes are delicious on their own, tossed with fresh thyme, basil, or oregano during roasting.

You will need:
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 lb. small pasta, such as rotini
1.4 c. pesto
1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese

Halve the cherry tomatoes. Toss tomato halves and garlic with 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast on a cookie sheet in a 450-degree oven for about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions and drain. Toss pesto, remaining olive oil, and tomatoes with pasta. Serve immediately, topped with parmesan cheese.

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