City Budget

It’s no secret that Adam and I love traveling. It’s also not a secret that traveling is expensive. And while Adam and I are very lucky to have good jobs, it’s still a stretch sometimes to pay for these trips. But as we say – we work so we can travel. Here are a few ways that we say money in other areas of our lives so we can put more cash in the travel fund.

Groceries

Adam and I have recently become much better about cooking at home and bringing our lunch to work (or having lunch options for me at home). I’ve written about Emeals on my blog before, but we’re currently getting the Paleo recipes (not practicing full-on Paleo eating, I just find this to be the most healthy option that Emeals offers).

On a typical week, I’ll visit 3 different grocery stores – Stanley’s Fruit Market, Aldi, and Trader Joe’s. For those of you in the Chicago-area, you KNOW Stanley’s Fruit Market. For those of you who don’t, it’s a small store that’s almost exclusively produce and the prices are insane. Like a case of 12 packs of blueberries for 99 cents. It’s crazy. I try to stick to their organic selection as much as possible which is still hella cheap. Then I drive on over to Aldi and take advantage of their large organic selection, too. This is not the Aldi of yesteryear (and I know cause I’ve been shopping there since I was a kid with my mom). They have organic produce, milk, meat, snacks, pasta, cereal – you name it. Finally I go to Trader Joe’s for the items Aldi doesn’t have – namely their delish cold brew coffee.

Gym

Luckily Adam and I live in an apartment building with a free gym, so that’s automatically a cost that we don’t have to incur monthly (I mean, I guess we’re paying for it in our rent). I have been dying to get a personal trainer, but they’re crazy pricey, so instead I found a workout app called Skyfit that’s essentially a personal trainer on the cheap ($9.99/month). You can choose from lots of different workouts (elliptical/treadmill/cycling/strength training/yoga) or even just an “outdoor running” workout if you don’t have access to a gym. They play the music (my faves have been the boy band and Miley Cyrus-themed workouts) and an actual personal trainer talks to you and tells you when to sprint, cool down, etc. It’s actually very motivating and I’ve never sweat more at the gym!

Books

That’s a picture of our actual library – jealous?! I’ve loved going to the library since I was a kid, and now that I live in a major city, I’ve hit the jackpot of libraries. Usually once a week during lunch, I’ll walk the mile or so it takes to get to the Harold Washington Library and peruse their miles of bookshelves. With Adam and I both in book clubs, getting books at the library is a major cost saver. We also get travel books, cookbooks, and the latest best-sellers. And as Adam can attest to, my interests change so rapidly (he calls them my “flavors of the week”) that it’s best to get free books at the library about my latest interest (like composting), than spending the bucks at amazon.

Dollar Store

Get thee to a Dollar Tree – that’s my advice to you. There are certain things that you should never buy at a dollar store (we can all use our best judgement for that) but then there are some crazy awesome deals you should definitely be taking advantage of! Here are a few of my fave things to get for one dolla – craft supplies, trash bags, tupperware, storage bins, party supplies, gift wrapping supplies, light bulbs, first aid supplies, socks, cleaning supplies. Seriously, the options are endless. And don’t be tricked into going to a dollar store where stuff costs more than $1 – Dollar Tree is where it’s at.

Well, those are the items that Adam and I save on so that we can travel! Nothing too crazy but it definitely saves us money in the end! We’re getting ready for our big trip to Italy in October, so I’ll definitely be looking for more ways to save!

 

 

5 Years in Chicago

Today is the 5 year anniversary of Adam and I moving to Chicago! Sometimes when I feel like time is passing too quickly, I try to think back to everything I’ve experienced in a set period of time and I realize just how many memories I created in that time period. Adam and I were 25 and 24 when we moved to Chicago. Now we’re 30 and 29, older than the contestants on the Bachelor and the athletes at the Olympics! I took some time to sort through our pictures and remember the good times of the last 5 years in the city and I’ve highlighted a few below!

Family Time

One of the best parts of the last 5 years has been that we’ve gotten to spend more time with our families than we thought we would!  When we first moved here, Adam’s brother and his wife lived in a nearby suburb, then they lived in Istanbul for 4 years, and now they moved back with their 2 daughters! My sister and her family lived in a nearby suburb for 2 years (and we moved out there for 1 of those years). And my little brother went to college the last 4 years at Northwestern (just north of Chicago). Thanks to O’Hare being a major airport, my older brother and his family traveled through Chicago many times on their way to and from India. And our parents have been able to make the trip many times. Here are some pics of these great memories in and out of Chicago.

Adam and his brother after running the Shamrock Shuffle (8k)

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Easter with my family

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Adam and his brothers-in-law at Book of Mormon

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Hosting my sister’s baby shower

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Adam’s parents visiting for his 30th birthday

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And all of our visits with our nieces and nephews!

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Traveling

Adam was most excited to move to Chicago so that we could live near O’Hare. In fact, the first Friday night that we lived in Chicago, we took the train out to O’Hare just because Adam wanted to. Five years later, we’ve made our fair share of train rides out to O’Hare! Here’s the list of places we’ve traveled to since living in Chicago:

International – Turkey (Istanbul and Ephesus), Austria (Vienna and Salzburg), Czech Republic (Prague), Greece (Athens and Santorini), Germany (Berlin), Japan (Tokyo, Nagano, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Hakone), China (Shanghai)

Domestic – Hawaii, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Napa, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Yosemite, Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington DC, Marco Island, Orlando, Traverse City, Door County Wisconsin, Atlanta

My Work Trips – Paris, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Boston, Orlando, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Washington DC, New York City, Dallas, Tampa, Raleigh, Charleston, San Diego, Atlanta

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our trips.

At an outdoor movie theater in Athens

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Sunrise tour of Monument Valley

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Paris business trip

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New Year’s Eve in a San Francisco tree house

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Friends

Living in Chicago has allowed us to make new friends, strengthen old friendships, and also host many new and old friends here in Chicago. Here are some of our happy memories with our friends throughout the past 5 years!

Running the Hot Chocolate 5k

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Summers together

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Winters together

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Roadtrips

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Weddings

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College reunions

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Well, there are our five years in Chicago in a nutshell and the people and places we’ve spent those years with. We may or may not be in Chicago for the long haul, but we’ve had a lot of great memories so far and I’m sure we have a lot more ahead of us! And if you haven’t visited us yet, come on by!

Weekend in Indiana

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Adam, Tobias, and I hit the road this weekend and headed to Indiana to visit my parents and grandfather. Our last few visits to Indiana have been in the winter, so it was nice to visit at the height of summer with the corn stalks high and the sunsets long. Going back this weekend was a nice reminder of the goodness of the Hoosier people (minus Mike Pence…) and the origins of my poor eating habits (pork tenderloins and elephant ears anyone?).

We started the weekend off visiting Bloomington (home of IU) where my parents grew up and I lived until I was 10. We grabbed lunch at a quintessential college-town restaurant with it’s own local brews (and the most unfortunate name – Quaff On). Here’s the pork tenderloin, truffle potato chips, and blonde brew I indulged in.

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But our main objective for going to Bloomington was to visit my 97-year-old grandfather. That’s right, 97. He’s the heart and soul of the paternal-side of my family, and we all love him so much.

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He’s a living history book! Below is a picture of him in World War II – if you know what my brothers look like – you can definitely see a resemblance!

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Here are the most adorable, candid pictures of my grandparents goofing off and loving each other (and now you can see me and my sister’s resemblance to my grandma)!

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Together we all spent hours looking at albums full of old photos like these and he still has new stories to tell (his sharp mind no doubt a result from his decades upon decades of poker strategizing). When I listen to him, I get the same feeling I got when I visited the Grand Canyon a few years ago – each individual’s time in history is short and inconsequential, but together, with family and friends and all of humanity, we are part of a grander, more meaningful existence.

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We had lots of fun catching up with Grandpa and I can’t wait to see him next!

Then on Sunday, we did as all Hoosiers do in August – go to the Indiana State Fair. I grew up going to the fair every year – one year I threw a fit until my parents bought me a cowhide purse (I won that battle), but Adam has only been a handful of times. Most notably when we were in college and went to the American Idol concert (Jordan Sparks’ year). Here’s a flashback photo of us in 2007 (yes, we made those t-shirts).

Not much has changed at the fair in the last 9 years. We ate the same delicious junk, saw the same cute cows and pigs (not cute enough to make me go vegetarian though), and engaged in the same high quality people-watching. Here are some pics from the sweltering day this past weekend.

My favorite fair treat – elephant ears!

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Adam’s favorite fair treat – slushies!

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I found a giant recipe card for my favorite pie – Sugar Cream Pie (the official Indiana state pie).

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Adam and I under the Midway sign.

We had a full Indiana weekend! It was great to remember the happy times from the 2 years that Adam and I lived there and my childhood/teenage years spent in Bloomington and the southside of Indianapolis. Now if only Hillary can win Indiana in November, I’ll be really proud to be a Hoosier 🙂

 

Golden Age of Television

TV is so good these days and Adam and I can’t get enough. Believe me, we’ve tried to limit ourselves to only a few shows per night or a few hours, but it never works. We try to balance our nightly TV-binging by waking up early to workout, read, and do house chores – so we’re not total degenerates.

Here’s what’s on our tele these days:

Mr. Robot

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This show will make you want to update all your usernames and passwords and put tape over your laptop webcams. Yowza. Computer hackers take down evil corporations (and each other) in this disturbing and compelling show. Think House of Cards meets Wikileaks. We usually have to watch an episode of 30 Rock or The Office after each episode because I’m totally creeped-out. And it’s on the USA network… isn’t that the network of Baywatch and Sweet Valley High? Who knew you had it in ya, USA network?

UnREAL

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Adam and I must be in a creepo TV phase cause this is another crazy show on another lame network (Lifetime). It’s a scripted, behind-the-scenes look into the filming of a Bachelor-type reality show. The creator of the show is a former producer of the actual Bachelor and apparently some of the happenings on UnREAL are straight from the Bachelor (like locking contestants in closets until they go crazy). But don’t be fooled and think this is some cheesy Lifetime POS, this show is a dark and twisted masterpiece. Constance Zimmer, of House of Cards fame, is the leading lady (on the left in the pic) and she’s so brill she’s nominated for an Emmy this year. Go Constance!

Crazy Ex Girlfriend

Last Fall there were tons of Crazy Ex Girlfriend billboards in Chicago and I ignored them cause it looked like a throw-away CW show. Then I was watching the Golden Globes in January and the star/writer/creator of the show, Rachel Bloom (sitting on the giant pretzel above), won the award for best actress in a comedy. That sparked my interest (same when Gina Rodriguez won the year before for Jane the Virgin! BTW… Gina confirmed that Jane finally loses her V-card this season… yay!). Crazy Ex Girlfriend IS cheesy, but it’s cute, funny, and clever. Plus they sing and dance in it (a nice departure from the creepy shows we watch). Oh and it’s on Netflix so no excuses not to watch.

Well TV network executives, thank you for your tireless work to entertain the masses! Of course I didn’t even touch on our Bravo obsession, but that goes without saying! God bless you, Andy Cohen!

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Goodbye, Gideon :(

Gideon

Last week my parents’ sweet dog Gideon passed away. His breed, Great Pyrenees, is nicknamed the Gentle Giants. That nickname perfectly describes Gideon and his precious personality (and impressive 150 lb weight). He was a happy guy – always smiling and putting his paw up for us to hold.

His happiest memories were in my parents’ backyard. Rolling around in big dirt piles and sleeping in the shade. He had lots of backyard friends – the squirrels that would taunt him as they scurried across the top of the fence, the (live) mole he carried around in his mouth until my dad rescued the rodent, the skunk that sprayed him one year on Christmas day. But his favorite times in the backyard were when we’d be out there playing with him. He played defense during many of our family backyard basketball games, ate a few of our croquet mallets, and loved catching sticks and Frisbees that we threw his way. In one of our favorite memories of him, he got stuck in the swing set. Like in a swing. Swinging and howling as his legs kicked underneath him. He earned the affectionate name of Gideon the Gideot after this incident.

I’m going home to Indiana to visit my parents this weekend and it will be the first time since my dad brought him home that Gideon won’t be there to greet me with his big goofy smile and giant white paws. A bittersweet reminder of the unconditional love that few humans can offer us but that we always have from our pets.

We’ll miss you big guy!

 

Podcast Playlist

I actually don’t listen to a lot of podcasts, but the ones I listen to, I love. Here’s what’s on my playlist.

The Diane Rehm Show

Hands down my favorite hour of radio everyday. This NPR podcast delves into the relevant political, social, and economic issues of the day and Diane Rehm masterfully moderates a panel of journalists and experts through the discussion. If you love politics and current events, you gotta listen to this. If you wish you knew more about politics and current events, this is your podcast. Or if you don’t know where you stand on certain political issues or current events, tune in to hear both sides of the argument.

And talk about a boss lady. Diane is queen.

Bitch Sesh: A Real Housewives Breakdown

If you are a Bravo diehard like me, you’ve got to listen to Bitch Sesh. A friend told me about this podcast a few months ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. Casey Wilson (from Happy Endings and SNL) and her comedy-writer friend Danielle Schneider are meaner versions of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as they breakdown every Bravo show from the week before (not just the housewives) with an unapologetic sarcasm. Plus they try out all the housewives products and give reviews (Dubrow skincare, Gunvalson perfume, Lady Morgan Prosecco). Listen and be prepared to LOL.

Invisibilia

Invisibilia rode the wave of the post-Serial NPR podcast boom. (I won’t even list Serial as a podcast I listen to because it’s just too obvious – minus season 2 – WTF, Koenig!?) Invisibilia is hard to explain, but the tagline says its about “invisible forces that control human behavior.” Sounds boring, I know. But once you get into it, it’s fascinating. Like there’s this one episode about this dude who had meningitis and lived in a vegetative state for 12 years, yet 2 years into this coma, he became mentally aware but no one knew. He lived like this for 10 YEARS until he was finally able to communicate to his family that he was aware. Can you even imagine? I get bored with my own thoughts after 10 minutes. He finally got out of the coma, got married, and lived happily ever after. Dang.

Mambo Italiano

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I have a work trip to Italy in October (Milan to be exact). Adam and I have been trying to figure out if he could meet up with me after my event so we can explore Snookie’s homeland. Luckily the airline miles gods blessed us and we were able to get Adam a roundtrip ticket fo’ free (well, minus a few dollars in taxes that the airlines trick you into paying with miles rewards). Cha-ching!

We haven’t made plans yet of where exactly we’re headed, but we’re thinking Milan, Venice, and Rome in the 6 days we’ll be there (we prefer busy vacations unless we’re on a beach).

I’ve compiled some gifs to express what I’m most excited for in the land of pizza, Pisa, and Pauly D:

Milan Fashion

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The Pope

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Eating Pasta

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Drinking Wine

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Eating Pizza

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Yum, can’t wait for the carb overload!

If you’ve been to Italy, please let me know if you have recommendations for us! And stay tuned for posts about preparing my Italian fashions!