life.hack:save.to.travel

The husband and I just returned home from just under 3 weeks in Ireland. And it was awesome!


See? Pretty.

And back in September I took myself on an epic birthday trip for 2 weeks in England.


See? Also amazeballs.

So many of our friends and acquaintances are just baffled how we are able to travel so often. We aren’t doctors (C’mon now – I’m a crafter!) and neither of us inherited large sums from Great Auntie Puddy Pop. So how we do it? Who does our budget? How long do we have to save for each trip?

Really. There’s no big secret. We just spend differently than most people. It’s super easy to save pennies which turn into dollars….which you can later turn into Euros, Pounds, Pesos, Krona, you name it!

  • Stop going out to eat so much. Food is one of the biggest places to save money. Really. Go out to eat on special occasions. Or when you need pho or you are going to die (the latter happens to me a lot). And when you do? Don’t go crazy. Do you really need an app and a dessert? Booze is way cheaper elsewhere. And soda in a restaurant? Please. Just set your money on fire with the candle on the table.
  • Make a menu at home and stick to it. Buy only what is on the menu. And when you are menu planning, take stock of what you already have. If you need to buy 17 things for that 1 meal, you already shot yourself in the foot.
  • Shop at Costco. Really. There are only 2 of us and we do 90% of our food shopping there. You probably don’t need the 4 gallon bucket of chili for 2 (Or maybe you do. I don’t know. I don’t judge.), but you can use the package of chicken breasts or the big bag of frozen peas. Buying the same thing at a regular grocery store costs more and you get less.
  • Stop buying your lunch. Pack that shit. Take leftovers to work. We cook enough for dinner that we each get leftovers to take to work the next day. Let’s say you spend a conservative $8 a day for lunch….That’s $40 a week. And $2080 a year. That could be an around the world airline ticket. For realz.
  • Don’t buy processed foods. They are more expensive than the ingredients to just make it yourself. And when you make it there aren’t all those preservatives and chemicals.
  • Stop buying things you can make. Why pay $3.50 for a jar of strawberry jam when you can spend $10 on strawberries and sugar and make 10 jars of your own?
  • Learn which stores are cheaper. Want super cheap yet huge quantity produce? Check your local Asian market. I bet you are surprised.
  • Cut the cable. In this day and age where everything is streaming, do you really need those 400 channels when nothing is ever on them anyway?
  • Slim down your wardrobe. It’s ok to wear the same thing more than once (even in a week!) and do you really need ALL those shoes? Invest in something you really love and wear it to death.
  • Go to the movies on the cheap night. Instead of paying $40 for 2 tickets and some popcorn, go on the discount night. Many theaters only charge $4 or $5 for the same movie you would see for $15 on another night. Here, we go on Tuesdays. And one of the theaters (only $3.50 anyway) gives a huge popcorn discount with their rewards card (a bucket for $4)
  • Stop buying books new. Now, I love books. And I kinda maybe hoard them…but no way am I buying them new. Shop the library book sale, your used book store or, *gasp* the library (That last one is free. Really.)
  • Make your own coffee! Do I really need to explain this one? $4 a day at your local coffee joint equals $20 per work week, and $1040 a year. That’s a ticket to Amsterdam.
  • Keep an eye on air deals. If you can be flexible with your dates and even your destination, you will get more bang for your buck. We have a list of 10 or so places we would like to go. If there’s a screaming deal, that’s where we are going!
  • Cancel those subscriptions you are only “meh” about. If you aren’t reading those magazines, why get them? I had a stationery subscription for $18 a month, and while the cards were super cool, I realized I have somuch stationery already. And $18 a month for a year is a good deal ticket to Boston!

I am totally not saying that we scrimp and save every penny. No way. We go out. We buy beer in restaurants, we splurge on things. But it’s not an all the time thing. Since our day to day expenditure is well thought out and pretty minimal, there’s money in the account to buy that plane ticket to Europe when it has to be booked within 48 hours (this happened this summer). And of course not all of these things will work for you. But every little bit helps. And taking a step back and looking at where you spend, helps you to cut costs and save for super cool things.

So, where are we going next? Who knows! But we will be ready!

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egg.water.plants.love

A quick tip to make your plants extra happy? Save the water you boil your eggs in and give it to your green things. Vitamins and minerals and good stuff comes from the egg shells when they cook, so by putting them into your soil, it’s a great extra boost for the things you are growing. 

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yoga.block.travel.hack

I did it. I cracked the code. I have finally figured out how to be comfortable on long flights when one has short legs. And you won’t believe how simple it is.

Sadly, not all airlines have those little foot rests that swing down for the plebeians in coach (that’s a first class perk – I’m looking at you Delta and Virgin Atlantic), and when one is a) short and b) flying a distance further than 30 air miles, it is nice and probably better for one’s health to be able to prop those feet up. Now, I know I should get up and move around more (yeah yeah yeah) but it seems that damn seat belt sign is always on or that drink cart is rattling around (I swear they time that thing to coincide with when I have to pee), so I spend most (all) of my flying time in my seat. This last trip took me from Seattle to London Heathrow direct (So. Awesome.) but that is a bit of a flight – a little under 10 hours. After digging through the house and the internet (last minute of course) to come up with something to prop my feet up rather than stomping my carry-on to death, I came upon my husband’s yoga blocks. I promptly kidnapped one and took it out of the country.

yoga-block

And you know what? It. Was. Amazeballs. That little foam block is the perfect height to bring my legs up to a normal almost level with the seat position, is light and (so far) TSA approved. Guys. The next time you fly you absolutely MUST pack a yoga block with you. And if you actually do yoga, I guess you could use it for that later too.

Oh, and you wanted to see some pictures from my epic trip too? Ok!

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kid.approved.chicken.fingers

I do not have children, but many of my friends do, and from what I understand, the struggle to get them to eat can be very real. There is apparently some sort of magic that must be conjured, or special candle that must be lit to get them to voluntarily eat.

When I was visiting friends in the UK a few months ago and the 4 year old asked what I was making for dinner I said ‘chicken fingers.’ His reply? “I don’t like those.” I know little dude – you don’t like anything. But you know what? When they hit the table he said “Oh! I like these.” And asked for seconds. When I made them last month while visiting again? He wanted more.

So, here you go. A picky kid approved recipe for homemade chicken fingers.

  • Cut 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1/2 inch strips (I mean really, who uses other chicken boobs?)
  • Mix 3 heaping spoon-fulls of flour, a generous shake of pepper, a few shakes of cayenne pepper and 3 pinches of salt in a dish and dredge chicken pieces – set aside

  • Allow the chicken to set for 5-10 minutes and dredge in flour again
  • Lightly wisk 2 eggs in a separate bowl
  • Add 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs to any remaining flour and generouslty reseason with peppers and salt
  • Dredge flour coated fingers in egg and then roll in panko, add to hot pan with oil and cook 2 minutes or so on each side until cooked

I bet your kids love them. And if they don’t, take them back to the kid store. You kept your reciept, right?

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milk.and.noodles

My dad has a few cooking specialties up his sleeve and this happens to be one of them – and my mom’s favorite special breakfast. Every other year or so I get the craving to make a batch for myself and today happened to be the day. I’m sure there is some fancy name for this porridge like “soup” but we always called it milk and noodles. 


I like mine a little on the salty side and my husband was dissapointed it’s not sweet. So feel free to snazz it up as you would like. 


Beeakfast was amazing and I hace leftovers for tomorrow. Woo hoo! 

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tortilla.chips

I am not the biggest fan of corn tortillas. I mean, I guess I like them just fine, but I prefer the flour tortillas myself (you know – closer to that whole bread thing that I love so much). So, when you have 3 dozen corn tortillas in the house and the main tortilla eater is leaving, you make chips. And yeah – I will eat the sh*t out of some corn chips. 

  • Lightly brush one side of the tortilla with oil and stack. 
  • Cut the stack in half and then cut in half again, so you have 4 equalish triangles of future chippy goodness. 

  • Lay evenly on a pan – oil side up – and sprinkle with salt.

 

  • Place in your preheated 400° oven for 8-10 minutes or until crispy. 
  • Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes to finish crisping up. 
  • Stuff face. 


And then maybe make some nachos with leftover chicken taco meat. Repeat last step of instructions. 

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uk.birthday

So, I am more little an little enamoured (ok, obsessed) with all things Tudor and England in general. With one of those milestone birthdays this year I am taking a trip to the land of pork pies and Henry himself. And while I would love to take all of you with me, I am celebrating with a sale in my Etsy shop instead. Huzzah! 

Use coupon code UKBirthday at www.anniepants.etsy.com through September 1st and save 20%. What?! Can I get another ‘huzzah’??

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