Money Saving Monday–Taking the Bus

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I’m happy to report that things are finally settling down and I’m getting into a routine. Huzzah! Considering how the last several weeks and months have gone, it’s nice to be establishing something different.

Of course this weekend I’m attending a wedding, then the beau visits, and then its Thanksgiving but shhhhhhh! I’m going to live in a happy place called routine land for a bit longer…

Meal Plan
*Happy Herbivore test recipes are marked with an asterik*

Balsamic Roast* with Mediterranean Chard (Everyday Happy Herbivore) and bulgur
Tofu Lettuce Wraps* with Peanut Noodles*
Creamy Avocado Spaghetti Squash Pasta
Creamy Beet Salad*

Epic food week dontcha think?!

Spending Savings

Farmers Market: $15
Whole Foods: $19.65
Total: $35.00

Farmers Market: $10
Whole Foods: $8.35
Total: $18.35 (53%)

The farmers market is still matching food stamp benefits up to $10. So my $15 that I spent became $25! This is a wonderful beautiful thing.

Steals and Deals

Buy (2) Nasoya Extra Firm Sprouted Tofu, 16oz: $5.00
Use (1) $1.25/2 Nasoya products coupons (Sept/Oct Whole Deal)
Total: $3.75 or $1.88 each <—not the best deal BUT I have a cushy parking spot and wasn’t about to give it up to drive elsewhere!

Buy (1) Arrowhead Mills Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, 2lb: $3.99
Use (1) $1.00/1 Arrowhead Mills baking products coupon (NLA)
with (1) $1.00/1 Arrowhead Mills product Nov/Dec Whole Deal coupon
Total: $1.99 or $0.99/lb

Buy (1) Dream Non-Dairy milk, 32 oz: $2.99
Use (1) $2.00/1 Dream non-dairy beverage or dessert coupon
Total: $0.99 or $3.96/gal

I know this was short, sweet, and to the point this week folks but I figure you’re probably ok with it!

Until next time…

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

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Wednesday Revelations: The Big One

Life update that is! The one I’ve been needing to do for a couple of weeks now. Hold on folks, its about to get crazy. 😉

I realize that I’ve hinted at a lot of things over the past couple of months. I’ve had to tell this story over and over again, in various forms, to different people who I spoke with at different points in it. I literally have friends who don’t know what city I’m in right now. So this post is as much for my in-person friends as it is for the rest of my lovely readers.

First of all, let me clarify – I’m in Baltimore! I’m here until at least the end of the year, maybe longer.

The beau and I moved into a new apartment in the city in June. Our plan was to stay through summer and if we didn’t have jobs, pack up and head home to CT to bunk with family. However, come the end of July we both had a number of job prospects. And so the pattern continued. We’d be ready to call our management company and start looking for new tenants…a job prospect would pop up…we’d decide to stay for “just one more month”…and the job would fall through.

It was utterly exhausting. And soul crushing at times. Every time I had to prep myself to leave a city I was finally starting to feel comfortable in, only to have my heart broken. Rinse and repeat.

The beau eventually got a couple of side jobs and I picked up an amazing babysitting gig. I wish I could show you the babies because they are utterly adorable and perfect and my phone is filled with photos of them. But alas, I read an article a while back about face recognition stuff so I’m paranoid to post said photos. Moving on…

The side jobs floated us. We both kept busy enough and though the money wasn’t great, it was better than relying entirely on our rapidly dwindling savings. But come September, we agreed for good that we’d give it one more month. Because this decision was purely financial, it had significantly more weight than our previous ones. I began the full grieving process that came along with saying goodbye. I needed closure because more and more Baltimore was feeling like the home I so wished it were during my MPH year. I had community—my support group, the handful of friends still in the area, and my second family that I babysat for.

Then, towards the end of September, the beau found out about a dream job opportunity in NYC, our dream city In a matter of weeks he applied, had two interviews, received an offer and accepted. We were moving to NYC. We decided he would move up first and I would follow at the end of October. As we began working our way through his bucket list, I found myself struggling more and more. Quite frankly it didn’t feel fair that I had to give up what little I had down here. I almost lost it during every Zumba class I taught as I looked at my students and was overwhelmed with a combination of pride and sadness. The beau and I talked a lot during these weeks as we made the most of what we thought was our last bit of time in Baltimore.

But alas, things couldn’t be that simple. Our plan to move up together fell through. On the same day, a good friend in Baltimore offered me the one thing I needed the most: time. And so the beau packed up his stuff, we did a farewell bar crawl, and the day after Columbus Day he set off on his next big adventure.

Within an hour of saying goodbye to him I had a job.

Seriously, I couldn’t write a story this good. Movie rights are available for the top bidder. 😉 So I relished my last few days of complete freedom, spent an amazing afternoon with the kiddos at the children’s museum, and began packing up for my fourth move in a a year and a half.

On the second day of my job (aka two Tuesdays ago), I received the sad call from one of my besties. The beau came down at the end of the week to help me move to my new home on Saturday and on Sunday we made the drive to NYC so I could catch a bus from there to RI where the services were taking place. Monday evening I flew back and the rest of last week was a flurry of work, doctor’s appointments, unpacking, and other obligations. I was running on adrenaline and lots of caffeine.

In between all of this I started physical therapy for a sprained ankle, said goodbye to friend after friend as they moved to new cities for jobs, and was showing the apartment and selling our furniture.

And that brings us to now. I’m loving my new position and can see myself working for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for a long time. I’m in my third beautiful apartment in Baltimore and getting to know another neighborhood. My roomie has a cuddly kitty and our downstairs neighbor has a super friendly dog that I have permission to visit whenever. My ankle is doing slightly better and I’m meeting new people. Oh and my days have purpose – to help cure cancer.

In other words, things are looking up.

I’m terrified to make any definite plans, given how great that worked over the past few months. So for now I’m focusing on being grateful for the gifts I’ve been given, especially being able to stay with someone as I readjust to the loss of my biggest support person. The nightmare called job hunting showed me more of what I want out of my life. And if I learned nothing else, I know I’m resilient in ways I didn’t think were possible. There were many times this summer when I wanted to just give up. Quite frankly, some weeks I did. I would sit and watch hours of Netflix and just avoid everything because the pain was overwhelming. But eventually I’d put the pieces back together

And that’s all we really can do, isn’t it? Get back up, take what lessons we can, and create a better reality the next time.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Money Saving Monday: Welcome Back Edition

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Has anyone else missed these posts? Gosh knows I have! The past few weeks have been utterly insane and grocery shopping has been a luxury I’ve missed desperately. So today I committed to relishing in my trip. As I wrote in my Passion by Kait newsletter this week:

“Me? I’m going to curl up with a good book, a cup of tea, and the kitty I now share a home with. On Saturday I’m going to dance my heart out at a special Zumba class and indulge in a decadent breakfast afterwards. And Sunday I’m going to take my time at the farmers’ market, thoroughly experiencing my visit rather than rushing around like usual.”

I did all of the above this weekend, along with volunteering at a work event and getting to hang out with co-workers after. There was dancing, delicious food, practical jokes, cuddle time, and a boatload of beauty. And today there was epic grocery shopping. 🙂

Meal Plan
*I’m currently testing for the fifth Happy Herbivore cookbook. Test recipes are marked with an asterik*

Ragut* with Pineapple Rice (Happy Herbivore Abroad)
Belizean Beans* over baked sweet potatoes
Arugula Pear Salad (with Tofurkey slices and no cheese)!
Farro with Leeks and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Rainbow Greens (Everyday Happy Herbivore) with Curried Chickpea Salad and rice
Split Pea and Edamame Hummus
Non-Mexican Vegan Mac & Cheese

Spending Savings

Farmers Market: $30.00
Safeway: $27.32
Total: $57.30

Farmers Market: $5.00
Safeway: $24.08
Total: $29.08 (51%)

Ok so two things to note: 1) the farmers market is doubling all food stamps*. Huzzah! And thank you Kaiser Permanante for the grant that allowed this. So that’s how I saved my $$$. 2) I know I overspent. But because of point #1, I’ll still be able to stick to my budget for the rest of the month. #win

*After five months of job hunting, and though I did get a part-time job, I needed to look into options that would help me out. Though admittedly I struggled with a bit of embarrassment about this, another of my classmates bravely posted about her experiences signing up for both food stamps and Medicaid. I know this can be a polarizing issue but I also want to work to decrease the stigma around something that should carry no shame. In my opinion, asking for help is one of the most difficult and most beautiful choices you can make. I’m glad I did and ever so grateful that a system is in place to help those of us who need it.

Steals & Deals

Safeway is one of my fave places to shop. Their regular prices are nothing to write home about. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Whole Foods’ frozen veggies are cheaper. But their sales, the fact that they double manufacturer’s coupons under $1.00, and their Just for You (J4U) personalized deals make it possible to get some ridiculously low prices!

Herdez Canned Salsa: B1G1 free ($0.99 for 2)
O Organics 1 lb salad mixes: $5.00
GT’s Kombucha: 2/$5.00
Avocados: $0.95 (J4U personalized price)
Bananas: $0.59/lb
(J4U personalized price)

Buy (1) Libby’s Pumpkin (15oz), $1.99
Use (1) $0.50/1 Libby’s pumpkin, 15oz+ coupon
Coupon doubles
Total: $0.99 or $0.07/oz

Buy (1) Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (15oz), $1.50
Use (1) $0.50/1 Muir Glen canned tomatoes coupon (no longer available)
Coupon doubles
with 10% off any canned J4U promotion
Total: $0.35 or $0.02/oz

Buy (2) Blue Diamond Coconut/Almond Almond Breeze (32oz), $1.99
Use (1) $1.00/2 Shelf Stable Almond Breeze milks coupon (no longer available)
or (2) $0.55/1 Blue Diamond Almond Milk (SS 10/13/13)

Total: as low as $1.78 or $0.89 ea

Buy (2) Triscuits, $3.54
Use (1) $1.00/2 Triscuit crackers coupon (SS 10/20/13)
Total: $2.54 or $1.27 ea

Buy (1) Almond Dream Bites, $3.50
Use (1) $1.00/1 Dream Non-Dairy product coupon
Total: $2.50

Buy (1) Tofurky Peppered Deli Slices, $2.50
Use (1) $1.00/1 Tofurky product coupon (DC Vegfest)
or (1) $0.75/1 Tofurky item coupon
Total: as low as $1.00

Though my late-night trip to Safewy last week won (I saved  more than I spent), I’m happy with how this week’s trip turned out. I might not be a regular, but I couldn’t say no to the cheap avocados! If they give me that again, they’ll definitely have won my heart!

Until next week…

Yoga/beauty/savings,

Kait xo