Thursday, November 25, 2010

What Do You and Pizza Have in Common?

Today, Thanksgiving Day in the US, happens to also be our four year wedding anniversary.


We are obviously thankful for each other, blah, blah, blah. But here are some other things we are thankful for:

  • Pizza
  • Asher
  • Google
  • Beer
  • Hot baths
  • Money
  • Down comforters
  • Fleece
  • Central heating
And, most importantly, YOU, our family and friends who we love so much!

Here at Curious Souls Headquarters, we wish you a very merry thanksgiving! Kisses!

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Thank you to the fabulous D'Lynn for the photo of us!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lazy Loaf

I need to come clean about something: I use my KitchenAid stand up mixer for kneading my bread.

My Breadmaking Guru* (Rich) taught me how to use it to make kneading painless and it is a vital part of my breadmaking process. It's so easy, I just put the bread hook on, set the mixer to knead for awhile and sit back and drink a Buried Treasure**.

Sounds great, right?

But what if you don't have a KitchenAid stand up mixer? Or......you're just feeling lazy?

Enter Lazy Loaf, courtesy of Nigella Lawson. This loaf sounded perfect for days that I just want to mix and go but, really, is it any good?


I decided to try it out. 



It certainly sounded easy. Just a few things to mix together and then a couple of hours in the oven. Truly for the lazy at heart.  


Honestly, without any kneading or rising I was worried it would turn out to be a brick. And I was half right. This puppy is dense.

But toasted with butter and jam? Awesome. And as sandwich bread? Pretty darn good.

So, in case you don't have your own stand up mixer or are just feeling lazy, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups whole wheat bread flour (I just used regular whole wheat flour)
2 cups best-quality oaty unsugared muesli (do not use granola) (I used 1 1/2 cup oats, 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds)
1 1/2 teaspoons (1 package) rapid-rise or instant yeast (I used regular yeast that I proofed before using)
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup 2% milk
1 cup water

Instructions:

1. Mix the flour, muesli, yeast, and salt in a bowl, then pour in the milk and water and stir to mix. It will be a thick porridge.

2. Transfer to a greased silicon 2 lb. loaf pan (one that's deep and short rather than shallow). Put this in a cold oven, turning it immediately on to 225 degrees F, and leave at this temperature for 45 minutes.

3. When these 45 minutes are up, turn on the oven temperature up to 350 degrees F and leave for 1 hour, by which time the bread should be golden and cooked through. Slip it out of its pan and although dense - it is that kind of loaf - it should feel slightly hollow when you knock it underneath. You can always slip it back in the oven, out of its pan, for a few minutes if you think it needs more baking.

4. Remove to a rack and let cool. 

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* I would recommend everyone finding a Breadmaking Guru.
** This drink is the shit.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Baguette Success!

I made some French baguettes yesterday using this recipe. It's kind of a long process with a lot of steps which made me nervous but I'm really excited about the result!

Check these babies out:


   

Now all we need is some fancy cheese, good wine and the Eiffel Tower!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Catching Up: Going on a Wadlopen in Holland!

Now that we are settled in our new home, the plan is to post about the places we visited but did not blog about. It may take some time but we are determined to get caught up!

~~~~~~

After Henk Jan and Fleur's wedding,


a bunch of us went on a Wadlopen in northern Holland.

We took this boat:


to this island (which is really just a big mudflat that goes away during high tide):


and met up with Dr. Emmett Brown.

 

We put on some silly shoes,


did some walking

 

and learned about all of the creatures that live on these islands.

  

We visited the only building on the island where a bird watcher lives, 

 
(When the tide is high, the water goes up the bottom of that house!)

and then we got back on the boat and went in search of the only restaurant in the area that was open late that night.

 

This trip was truly one of the highlights of our time in Europe - a huge thank you to HJ, Fleur and all of their awesome friends and family for including us in this very Dutch experience!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Asher the Grocery Mule

We are super fortunate to live a half mile (0.8km) from a neighborhood grocery store*. Usually, I bike there (with panniers and bike trailer) but on grocery shopping days when Jon has time and I haven't yet walked Asher, the three of us will walk.

Yesterday, anticipating a large load, we put Asher's backpack on him so he could help us out.


It worked out great! He didn't mind at all and we were able to get all of our groceries home without any additional gear (i.e. a personal grocery cart).

Thanks, Asher!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* We actually split our grocery shopping between Beavers (the neighborhood grocery store) and the Fort Collins Food Co-op. The Co-op is awesome for bulk food and household items like spices, flour, shampoo and laundry detergent but Beavers is cheaper for other items like veggies, meat and canned goods. Fortunately, I pass right by Beavers on my bike route home from the Co-op so it's quite easy to do both spots in one trip.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Sew Like I Cook: Slooooooowwwww

Because our bedroom feels about 5-10° cooler than the rest of the house, I decided to sew some insulated curtains. I mean, I decided to buy some curtains off of Craigslist and sew some insulation into them.



 

It was a good decision to start with pre-made curtains because sewing four rectangles of insulation into four curtain panels took...drum roll please...FIVE hours*. Hey, it's harder than it looks. Also, I'm slow.

Anyway, the insulation also acts as a black out material so we can sleep in as long as we like now! See, check out how well it works:


~~~~~~~~~~~

* For those of you who have actually seen me sew, you are probably wondering how I did in it only five hours. My little secret is my Mom who helped me plan it all out, cut, pin and sew. Thanks, Mom!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Difference Between Rain and Snow

When it rains at night, you know it is raining. You hear it on the roof and the sidewalks and the roads. But there are no auditory cues to tell you that it is snowing. I woke up to this beautiful and silent scene this morning:


Fortunately, Jon and I bought snowboots last week...

Yes, I am wearing short pants and no socks.

I thought I would be annoyed at the cold or the inconvenience but it is as though I never left Colorado. The snow feels as right as breathing and I am giddy by the sight. And look at how blissed out Asher is!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Limited Time Offer

As you all know, I am a HUGE fan of Mvelopes and credit this program/system/software for every single financial goal we have reached (paying off all of our debt, saving up a bunch of money, quitting our job and traveling, working for ourselves, etc).

If you have been considering trying them out, now is the time. Today I received this offer in my inbox:


If you are interested in this offer, let me know and I will forward the email to you as sign up must be through the embedded link. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Update: Leanne asked a great question that I should have addressed in the post. I currently pay $39.60 quarterly. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Tale of Two Drying Racks

Please raise your hand if you have ever owned a drying rack that looks like this:


I think it is required by law for all American college kids to have this in their first apartment. I sure did and honestly, I really hated it. It didn't hold that many clothes and that stupid top fastening piece always came undone when I was putting clothes on it. Not a very positive air drying experience.

I didn't hang on to it (haha). Instead, I ended up drying most of my clothes in the dryer and hanging my delicates over the shower curtain rod. Not good for my clothes and not good for my electric bill.

Then I went to Europe and met this beauty*:


We promptly purchased one as soon as we got into our Fort Collins house and so far, we love it. We are able to get two large loads on it at one time:


The only thing that doesn't fit on the rack are sheets. We're being a little creative with drying those:

 

Hopefully, this will positively impact our electric bill. We need more money for beer!

~~~~~~~~~

Every single one of the friends we stayed in Europe had one because every one of our friends over there air dries their clothes. All of them. As in, they don't own an electric clothes dryer.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

September and October Recap



It's been awhile since we did a month re-cap so I thought I would hit a couple of highlights from the last two months.

States passed through: Fifteen
Cars gifted to us: One
Number of days said car was in our possession: Six
Length of story about that: Long
Things wrong with the van: Overheating, slipping transmission, broken back door
Number of times broken down on the side of the road: ZERO


Monnaies

I only have reliable numbers for October. Why? Because I hate Mint. Also, because when I went back to Mvelopes, I had to delete a bunch of transactions because I was so far behind and thus lost the data for September. So, anyway, here's what we spent in October (which included some time in Phoenix, our drive to Colorado and getting set up in our house in Fort Collins).


Comments:

Food: Ouuuuccchhh. Eating out just kills us. That is all.

Auto: Thank goodness we will get a break from this level of gasoline purchasing for awhile!

Lodging: We were fortunate to only have to get a hotel once in the entire trek west. Thank you to everyone who hosted us!

Allowance: CHECK OUT how much I spent this month out of my allowance! I'm awesome, yes? I think I'm getting the hang of this non-consumerism thing!

Not included in this summary: Expenses related to the gifted car (we made that money up when we sold it on craigslist) and the security deposit fees for our rental house.

Moving Forward

As you all know, I feel strongly that budgeting is the key to financial freedom. Here is our projected Living In Fort Collins monthly budget.


Comments:

Utilities and such: I estimated what our natural gas, electric and water bills will be based on worst case scenarios I got from the utility companies about past usage at this address. Jon and I are being fairly frugal with our usage (i.e. the Selective Flush and air drying our clothes) but with winter coming, we may just go crazy with the heating. We'll see.

Auto: Yes, that is not a typo. I have budgeted only $100 per month for gasoline (the insurance is rolled up into the State Farm bill). We are so far having great success at getting around by bike or bus and I feel relatively confident that we can get by this way most of the time. Of course, we'll see what happens when winter comes.

Vacation/Travel/Savings: You may have noticed that there is no budget for these. That is because we are living on much less than we are making right now in the hopes that not only will we be able to have money to live on between consulting contracts but that there will be leftover money to use for travel and retirement savings.

Freedom

This is what it all means for us. Every dollar that we stretch gives us that much more opportunity to continue on the path of self-employment. We are now quite fond of having total control over our time and plan to continue on this path as long as we are able (forever, we hope).

All togther now:

Hell No, We Won't Go (Back To Regular Full-Time Employment)!

Monday, November 1, 2010

This is Why I Never Sleep Naked

Last night our house tried to kill us.

At 1:30am, we were woken by an odd sequence of chirping from our carbon monoxide detector. We stood by an open window while Jon confirmed that the chirping was, indeed, an indication of elevated carbon monoxide levels and I confirmed that carbon monoxide exposure can, indeed, kill us.

Slightly alarmed (and highly impressionable), I suddenly noticed a tightness in my chest so we gathered the dogs (we were dogsitting my parents dog, Gracie), scarves, hats and shoes and rushed outside. A call to the Fort Collins non-emergency line resulted in this:


Video

It was fortunate that the Fort Collins fire department people were so nice because we ended up spending over an hour hanging outside with them while they checked the carbon monoxide levels and talked to the gas company and waited for the gas company to arrive, diagnose our problem and shut off our gas (heating and hot water).

The whole process took about two hours and at 3:30am, we finally fell back into bed covered with every blanket in the house.

Here is what we learned from this experience:

1. Technology > Our House's Desire to Kill Us. Thank goodness for the carbon monoxide detector. Everyone should go out and buy one immediately.

2. Never sleep naked.

3. Everyone in Fort Collins is so nice! Even at 2am in the morning! We love it here!*

*Perhaps you've heard this before.