It's a good thing.  Let's embrace it!

Lately, I've been feeling a little uninspiried by my blog. 

I just felt that it wasn't really doing a good job of representing me anymore.

So, I decided to make a change:  I've moved my blog to Wordpress!

From now on you can visit me at adventuresoftna.wordpress.com

Come on over and check it out - it's pretty!


how to: store your necklaces

I like to think that I'm a pretty organized person.  Don't get me wrong though, I also have a messy/disorganized side of me.

My bathroom (now that I have my own and I no longer have to share with Hubby) looks like a tornado swept through it; hairspray, makeup, and hair ties are usually littered all over the counter.

I always lovingly fold and put away all the clean clothes in my dresser drawer, however, they never stay neat and tidy when I'm frantically pulling out and trying on different clothes in the morning.

So, let me fool you not: I'm not always super organized.

One thing that's always been disorganized is my jewellery box.  I've tried to keep my necklaces in separate little baggies to help keep them from getting tangled up together; but each day when I take off my jewels, the necklaces never seems to make their way back into the baggies.  They always just end up in a messy pile in the bottom of my jewelery box.  Not ideal.

When Hubby and I moved into our new home last year, we picked up a full-length bedroom mirror during one of our many trips to Ikea.  The coolest thing about the mirror? It came with hinges!

So, my handyman Hubby mounted the mirror to the wall using the hinges so the mirror can be pulled away from the wall, if you like.  Can we just take a moment to thank Ikea for all their wonderful storage ideas?

When he hung the mirror for me (a loooong time ago), Hubby suggested that we could buy some hooks so I could hang up all my necklaces behind the mirror.  AMEN, Hubby, you're a genius!

So, this past weekend, we finally got around to taking a trip to Home Depot to pick up some hooks for my necklaces.  Don't they look great? And the best part about the whole thing is that they're out of sight (so they don't look cluttered), yet they're easily accessible.  It's so easy to now just thow my necklace on a hook after I take it off.

If you think this might work in your space, give it a shot - I absolutely love it!

PS:  I decorated the back of the mirror (which was plain and ugly) with some extra 5X7 pictures that I had from our recent trip to Europe.  It's a nice way for me to enjoy the pictures, without having them in my face all the time.  It's kind of like having a highschool locker again!


follow friday - cupcakes and cashmere

With a blog name like "Cupcakes and Cashmere" how could this blog be anything less than fabulous?

I stumbled upon this blog a couple of days ago and I've spent hours perusing all the posts.  This blog is basically exactly what I want my life to be: simple chic. 

I love the "How To" posts, and because of them I will be making this Delicate Ombre Necklace and I definitely want to shuck my own oysters.  I always feel like I'm the only person who likes oysters so nobody wants to eat them with me, so why don't I just make my own?!

delicate ombre necklace - photo by Cupcakes and Cashmere

Don't even get me started on the recipes that Emily's created and collected.  The following have all been added to my "to make" list:

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad
Tomato and Peach Salad with Corn and Feta
Shrimp Spring Rolls
Watermelon-Lime Popsicles
Breakfast Pizza
Homemade Cheez-Its

homemade cheez-its - photo by Cupcakes and Cashmere

Check out this blog for some inspiration and eye candy.  If you're anything like me, you won't be disappointed!

PS:  Emily was also seen on "The Hills" (she worked at Teen Vogue during the filming of Season 1) - how cool is that?

PPS:  Hubby made a reference to "The Hills" the other night.  #ilovehimsomuch


february finances update (day 6)

This is harder than I had anticipated…and we’re only 6 days in. What we didn’t account for in our budget was all the unexpected spending that comes with being an grown up. For example, today we had to pay $45 for an Air Care inspection for our car. Something that wasn’t a luxury, something that HAD to be done, but something that also wasn’t in our budget. It was no big deal because we’re just pretending this month – but if this was not just a pretend exercise, but real life, I really don’t know where that $45 would have come from. But I can tell you where it would have ended up: on our credit card.

Ugh. I understand that credit can be a very useful and necessary tool, however, I just really hate it. I’ve learned my lesson on being fun and fancy free with credit and that’s a lesson that I don’t NOT want to have to learn again.

So, I guess it’s back to the spreadsheet to figure out how to incorporate an “unexpected expenses” category for each month. This is a good thing though, and just another reason why it’s such a good idea to test this new budget while we still have a safety net. I’m going to say it once: Hubby, you were right (that almost killed me).


february finances

2013 seems to be the year of finance.

Today, January 31, 2013, Hubby and I are starting a month long financial challenge.  We're cutting my income down by almost half (53% to be exact) and putting the remaing 47% into savings/paying off credit (we don't have much debt, so most will go into savings).

I know, we're nuts - but in a good way.

We're challenging ourselves to see how little we can really live on.

Can we really go with only eating at home, and not spending money on entertainment?

Can we really be disciplined enough to stick to our budget and not over spend?

We'll see, I'll let you know how it goes...


tofu tuesday

One of the things that I hate THE MOST about being a gown up is figuring out what to have for dinner.  Don't get me wrong, I love cooking and find it fun (for the most part), however, trying to decide what we're going to eat every week drives me bonkers.

We meal plan and grocery shop once a week, usually Sundays.  So Sunday morning/early afternoon usually consists of us sitting down and deciding on our meals for the week and writing out a grocery list.  Ugh.  What should be a five or ten minute chore turns into a hour long conversation of "what should we have for dinner", which always gets the response of "I don't know" or "homemade macaroni and cheese".  Sorry Hubby, I'm not feeding us macaroni and cheese once a week.  It's never going to happen.

What we really should do is make a list of dinner ideas and then just consult the list every week and pick out what we want to eat and shop for.  But that just makes too much sense.  Why would we make things easier on ourselves?

This dinner, however, is one that I made up and tried out a little while ago, and Hubby really enjoyed.  So it's now one of our staple "go to" dinners.  Not to mention, the fact that I can get Hubby to eat tofu and acutally enjoy it just blows my mind. 


This is a great weeknight dinner as it leaves you with a lot of leftovers, but not so much that you'll have to eat it for the rest of the week.  It makes enough for Hubby and I to each have a bowl for dinner (and for Hubby to have seconds) and for both of us to take it for lunch the next day.

2 handfuls of frozen shelled edamame beans
1 package extra-firm tofu
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup soya sauce
About 2 cups of carrots and broccoli stems, julienned (I just used a half package of broccoli slaw that I bought at Superstore - basically just add in any veggies you want)
Vermicelli noodles (about 1/2 package)

Start by cutting the tofu into chunks. Not too small, not too big. Heat the sesame oil in a large frying pan (or wok) over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook until golden on all sides.

Once golden, remove the tofu from the frying pan and set aside. Add the broccoli and carrots to the frying pan with the soya sauce. Cook for a couple minutes and then add in the edamame (no need to thaw first). Cook for another couple minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

While you're waiting for your veggies to get nice and tender, cook the vermicelli according to the package directions (the ones I use just need to sit in a bowl of boiling hot water for a minute or two).

Add the noodles (make sure to drain all the water first) and the cooked tofu to the vegetables. Give everything a good toss to mix everything together.  Feel free to add a tad more sesame oil and/or soya sauce, as needed.  I also like to give a generous grind of pepper and maybe a little garlic powder.  Whatever you're in the mood for.

Serve warm, but is also great eaten cold at your desk the next day while you're working through your lunch.


2013 budget tips

Welcome to 2013!

Yes, I do know that 2013 started 13 days ago, however, it seems that I'm just now getting back into a healthy, regular routine again.

Back to the gym.  Back to eating healthy dinners.  Back to not drinking every day.  Back to not spending money like we're millionaires.

I never really make New Year resolutions.  I find that they too often get broken before we even hit February.  So, I usually just mentally list out my goals for the year.  

In 2013 I want to:

keep living a healthy, active lifestyle
lose the last 15 lbs (always the hardest, see above)
save money so that when then time for a baby comes, we'll have a little bit tucked away

Pretty standard goals, right?

Hubby and I have had a budget for a number of years now, and, as with all good budgets, it's constantly evolving.  I mean, what's the point in having a budget if you don't actually follow it?

We were notorious for spending hours perfecting our budget in our Excel spreadsheet, however, we still always seemed to be living paycheque-to-paycheque.

Just recently, Hubby and I  recognized that the majority of our over spending was happening in the restaurant and entertainment categories in our budget.  It would start with us going out for sushi on a weeknight when we didn't want to cook, or had nothing in the fridge for dinner.  Then we'd go out and have dinner and drinks with friends over the weekend.  Before you knew it we were regularly spending three times our budget each month.  Not very productive in saving money.

In order to keep our spending in check, we implemented a system that goes something like this:

  • we created three envelopes (labelled groceries, entertainment, and restaurants) 
  • each time Amanda gets paid (twice a month) we put $100 into each of our restaurant and entertainment envelopes
  • each time Amanda AND Trevor get paid (works out to once a week) we put $100 into our grocery envelope
  • ANY spending we do on restaurants, entertainment, or groceries has to come out of our envelopes - period.  We're not allowed to use our debit/credit cards for spending in the categories
  • we are allowed, however, to use money from one envelope for another category (example: we can use the money from our entertainment envelope to pay for groceries that we're buying to host a dinner party
  • any money left over in the envelopes stays in the applicable envelope and we can take it out and use it for whatever we want

I cannot even begin to tell you how well this system in working for us.  We usually end up with money left over in the envelopes before we replenish them.  Plus, it's actually become a little bit for a challenge for us.  Do we really want to go out for dinner and spend they money, or can we just whip something up at home and save the money?  More often than not we end up just saving the money.  Plus, eating at home usually means that we eat healthier (which will also help with my first two goals).  

Do you think this might work for your budget?  Maybe give it a try!