So, I’m a sucker for a good raffle. I mean, you have the chance to win something cool AND you are helping a worthy cause or organization with your dollah billz. It just so happens that I share this love with my mother. But for years, her method of filling out tickets (you know, the important contact info so they can call you and tell you that you won) was a little embarassing….she always has extra return address labels in her wallet. And what do you know – they come in crazy handy. When I was filling in all of my tickets purchased at the fair last weekend, I was wishing I was more like my mom. (And yeah – you can totally tell her I said that.)
So now I will definitely be stashing some labels in my wallet. You never know when they will come in handy!!
The husband and I just returned home from just under 3 weeks in Ireland. And it was awesome!
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!
Every summer the salmon run and we do our best as good Alaskans to get our share of the fish. I have patience issues, so the whole ‘stand in the water with a line and a little hook for hours and legally take 1-2 fish a day’ thing doesn’t work for me. I instead love the resident only method of dipnetting. Take a giant 5 foot net and put it at the end of a super long pole with a handle, stand in the mouth of a river (sometimes up to your chest) and wait for the salmon to swim in. Some people don’t think it’s very sportsmanlike, but whatever. I won’t be having them over for dinner. And if I did, I wouldn’t be serving any of our amazing salmon.
The trip this year started with a bad omen…a fishing report suggesting that commercial boats would be cleaning the run out of the inlet…then a report coming in saying the fish were slammed. So, we put all of our gear into the VW and powered up and out. We got about 2 blocks from the house before there was a literal and actual fire in the van. No major damage (except for the bar bill afterward), but we were a bit mopey and unsure if we would get to fish this year….And then another report came in. So many fish, and no one is taking them. So we loaded our gear again and jumped in the pickup. A 3 hour drive and we had our nets in the water by 9pm. Fished until 11, and had 6 pretty sockeye to show for our efforts and a totally soaked me. A trip to the Wal Mart (I hate to admit that I went, but it was midnight…what can you do?) and I had dry duds, some snacks, and a blanket to sack out in the pickup.
Fast forward past a 3 hour nap, and we had our nets in the water at 6am again. After a full day of steady fishing we pulled 35 salmon.
We now begin the task of processing these tasty beasts. Almost all are filleted and the bellies are brining to faux dehydrate. But look at the teeth on this guy! As the salmon spawn out their jaws grow and teeth become all crazy and scary. I’m so glad they don’t bite as I had 2 nail me while in the water – full speed projectile salmon hurt!
The husband did an awesome job as well. Despite only having one boot. Somehow in the loading and unloading process one went missing. (People can be so rude, right?) But he padded around like a true Alaskan trooper and slayed the fish regardless. He also does all the gutting (I fillet) for which I am eternally grateful (I stand over his shoulder and announce loudly whether “It’s a boy!” as he zips each belly).
It’s a ton of work, and everything on my body hurts, but we did it. We kicked some fishy ass. And it’s going to be delicious all year. But first, I need a nap and a massage.
It has taken me a really (really) long time to process the photos from our trip to Peru. This one seemed to really take a lot out of us. There is a difference between vacation and travel, and travel can be tough. This is not to say that we didn’t have an amazing time – it’s just that it was a lot of work.
However, I have finally gone through the photos and it was so awesome to relive the trip one picture at a time.
More can be found in a flickr album here. It seems I shot a lot on my cell phone, but I definitely made better use of the hard body camera this trip vs. Japan. I win. Now give me a cookie.
It seems it has been forever since I’ve updated (actually, it has. Really.) and part of that delay is that the husband and I were off gallivanting again. This time we went to Peru! A new continent and country for both of us and it most certainly did not disappoint. We switched things up a bit by meeting my parents down there and was a fun dynamic. Why the family reunion? As it happens my dad was in South America in 1969 and has always talked about going back. In addition to that, our family hosting an exchange student from Lima my freshman year in high school and we wanted to be sure to see my Peruvian hermana too. It was fab to see her and her amazing family, and bonus: built in tour guides!
My favorite of the fruits were the little orange fruits (aguaymanto) and I even broke my “no chain restaurants in a foreign country” rule to have a McD’s ice cream sundae with these fruits as the topping. Love it!
A cemetery I could have spent days in – mausoleum style with ‘shadow box’ style markers.
Dad’s first anticuchos in over 40 years (and he’s been talking about them for just as long). They did not disappoint! In fact, my husband declared that we have anticuchos again before leaving the country lest he “pull a Larry” and crave them for 4 decades. And the girl in the back? That’s Ale – my Peruvian sister. She’s going to kill me for posting this.
We were able to take this photo for 1 sole (about 30 cents). This woman comes here every day to pose for photos but I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only ones to totally lose my shit over the adorableness of the baby llama.
The altitude in Cuzco was no joke. Mom and Galen had blue lips, and neither my dad nor I were feeling all that awesome. Asking the hotel front desk for oxygen in Spanish was a first for me.
It’s still pretty surreal to say that I saw this…this view of a place we have all seen photos of our entire lives. The only thing to ruin it were people and their stupid selfie sticks. Ugh.
Tipon archaeological complex. This was an agricultural testing ground for the Incas and it was pretty amazeballs.
I have yet to offlaod the rest of the photos from my camera. I seem to have brought some sort of bug home that I can’t quite shake and I’m not firing on all cylinders. But I hope to A) process the photos soon and B) feel better. Because feeling better is good.
You can see the rest of the photos from the camera on the flickr page. I haven’t laughed this much in possibly ever. Well played Japan. And well played Tonino family.
It’s true. We are total foodie travelers and often plan parts of our trips around meals (because why not?!) and the food in Okinawa definitely did not disappoint. Not a single bad meal (or even convenience store snack) was had during our 9-10 day stay.
The sushi was of course amazeballs and super fresh. I stepped out of my comfort zone to try a quail egg and yam puree roll, which was pretty tasty, though I’m not sure I would go for it again (a texture thing…). We checked out a sushi-go-round where when you ordered off the menu a little race-car ran down the belt holding your order. Conclusion: so cool. We also did a pretty good job destroying a ton of plates.
The ramen was also something straight out of the self help section. And by that I mean it was pretty life affirming and life changing. None of this ‘just add hot water’ stuff…this is the real deal. We sampled more than a few bowls at different restaurants and I’m still hard pressed to choose my favorite. The broth is always thick and full of over the top meaty flavor (& you can add miso! Heavenly!!) and additions like bean sprouts, hard boiled eggs and even more green onions are totally encouraged. I kinda want some more. Right now.
We checked out a few local markets where you could get everything from the oink of the pig, to seaweed, to still moving shellfish. One of these markets on Kokusai Street in Naha was straight out of an Anthony Bourdain episode (…which is from real life, I know. I just want to BE him.) where you could take your freshly purchased, still moving food upstairs to one of the many little family run restaurants and have your fresh catch immediately turned into dinner or a snack.
I also ventured to try this funky ice cream in a balloon (someone needed to do it). Banana was the flavor of the day and despite some obviously dirty references (which totally made us laugh) it was pretty yummy. I felt a bit like a jerk walking through the market with this balloon thing hanging out of my mouth, but you only live once, right? (hashtag yolo!)
Japanese curry was also a winner despite my pretty severe dislike of anything curry related (I don’t like coconut and curry powder is icky). It’s a totally different taste and not what I expected at all. And don’t get me started on the gyoza! Even the worst of the batches we inhaled were better than what we can get around here. So yeah. Now I’m super hungry……pass the ramen please! And some gyoza. Don’t forget the gyoza…!
The husband and I just returned home from an amazing trip to Okinawa, Japan where we visited friends and got the best tour we could have asked for. Hotel Tonino totally gets 5 stars from us. The food was amazing, the company was great, and I don’t think I offended anyone too badly, in addition to laughing more in 9 days than I have in years.
We checked out a cherry blossom festival which was pretty amazing. Not only did I see the largest spider I’ve ever seen outside of a pet shop (and I’m told it was only a baby…) but we were able to sample some super delish food (meat pockets are omg good) and I saw a baby goat wearing a pink dress, diaper and diamond bling necklace. I would say that all of that made my life ultimately complete, but the fun didn’t stop there.
There was of course tons of amazing sushi at our finger tips and I am proud to say that I tried some new things….the raw quail egg with sweet potato puree was a step outside of the comfort zone for me (you know how much I love quail eggs, so it had to happen). We also checked out the funky sea grapes, ice cream from a balloon (yeah, I totally ate that in public) and sampled the famous habu sake. The sake contains dead habu snakes and venom and was actually pretty tasty despite destroying my insides for 2 days afterwards. We checked out a snake show with these snakes (alive of course) which was insane – the demonstrator slapped a cobra. Twice. Wow.
There are of course more updates to follow as I have yet to process the photos from the actual camera….brewery tours, beach combing, glass making, ramen eating…..the fun didn’t stop!!
Upon returning home from our trip abroad I find I have a ton of things to do. I would say that might be a gross exaggeration, but it’s not too far off the mark. So what did I do today? I edited photos from our trip and uploaded them to the internet. I am continuing along the theme of “unnecessary at the moment” by posting this right now. Most of the photos from the camera are from our drive around the perimeter of the country and there are a lot (a lot) of sheep pictures….but the sheep made me really, really happy.
I think this looks like a George and Rhonda. What do you think?
I was very concerned how these rural folks got their mail as I couldn’t seem to find any mailboxes, or figure out if they would have rural delivery? A PO box? How far did they have to drive? You know I’m a mail nerd, so these things are kind of a big deal if I’m going to move into one of the amazing picturesque farms right at the base of a fabou waterfall…..This was the only rural mailbox we saw.
You can find some more of the photos offloaded from the camera in the Flickr set here.