Weekend Update

Feels weird to post about our weekend knowing so many people went to bed on Sunday likely reflecting on their own weekend, and woke up to their world turned upside down. I wrote this post on Sunday night before hitting the hay and as we crawled in bed we smelled smoke. I headed to the kitchen to make sure all the burners were off and we hadn’t left the oven on. We had no idea we’d awake to the terrifying news of widespread fires throughout the North Bay on Monday. We’re so grateful Roberto’s parents who live in the area are fine, but the number of people who have been displaced is devastating. If you’re looking for ways to help see here.

On Friday night we celebrated my stepdad’s birthday at local South Indian restaurant, Dosa, which was amazing! We had only been once before and were stuffed before we even got to the main course (yes samosas, yes lamb sliders, yes yes yes). The cocktails were excellent as well; I ordered their Gin & Tonic and Roberto got the Steph Curry, but we ended up trading 😬.

I slept in again on Saturday which is super out of character. On weekdays nothing can get me out of bed (#chronicsnoozer), but on the weekend I’m typically up and at em at least 3 hours before R. Once we got going we went for a run down along the Marina Green and got to see all the setup for the Fleet Week festivities. After we whipped up a quick breakfast (let’s be honest, brunch) and got cleaned up we headed to my friend Marissa’s for the airshow. She is the hostess with the mostess and had the best view from her roof! I’ve seen the Blue Angels more times than I can count growing up in San Francisco and it never gets old or less impressive. The weather always manages to be perfect and it’s such a great weekend out.

After taking in the airshow we got in our grocery shopping and headed to the movies for the first time in a long time. Roberto loves scary movies and we really wanted to see ‘It’, but there weren’t any seats available at Kabuki so we headed to our local theater and saw ‘Battle of the Sexes’. It was so excellent!!! I wish I had daughters to take to it. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know much about Billie Jean King and her story, but it was so inspiring… highly recommend! ‘American Made’ is on our list too. We ended the evening with a nightcap at California Wine Merchant. Perfect little date night!

On Sunday, we got all our cooking done early and headed to another friend’s roof to take in one final showing of the Blue Angels (like I said… never gets old!!!). Roberto whipped up some Frosé using a recipe similar to this one and it was delish. The cherry on top of a great weekend? Postmating a Sunday night burrito from Tacobar… YES.PLEASE.AND.THANK.YOU.

Menu for the week:

 BreakfastLunchDinner
Monday 10/9K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
R - Leftover Moussaka
K - Sushi (not in the original meal plan 😬)
K - Leftover Moussaka
R - Jerk Chicken Tacos (1/5)
Tuesday 10/10K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
K - Leftover Moussaka
R - Greek Turkey Meatballs and Shepherd's Salad (1/4)
Jerk Chicken Tacos (3/5)
Wednesday 10/11K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
R - Jerk Chicken Tacos (4/5)
K - Work Lunch
Work Event ❤️
Thursday 10/12K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
K - Jerk Chicken Tacos (5/5)
R - Greek Turkey Meatballs and Shepherd's Salad (2/4)
Pistachio-Crusted Salmon (2/2)
Friday 10/13K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
Greek Turkey Meatballs and Shepherd's Salad (4/4)Cal Game!

Whole30 Moussaka

We made this Whole30 fave moussaka last week and of course had leftovers since it makes a ton of servings and I may or may not have splurged on CMG Friday which is becoming our best/worst payday Friday tradition (yes we’re geeks and refer to our lunch spot by ticker 🤓). We gotta stop the bi-weekly burritos and the nerdy abbreviations.

Turkey Meatballs

Roberto made up his own recipe, but this zucchini one from Gina is excellent. I think he just put onion, oregano, Italian seasoning, and lemon pepper in his. He made his usual Shepherd’s salad with fresh tomatoes from our friend’s family garden (thanks, Roscoe!) and cucumbers, olives and feta. I eyeballed some greek yogurt sauce from this recipe.

Jerk Chicken Tacos

This recipe is from Gina’s first cookbook and I’m including it below. We made it in our latest obsession, the Instant Pot, instead of the slow cooker and it worked perfectly. It took about 8 minutes in the Instant Pot, but if you only have a slower cooker it will take about 2 hours on high.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2tbsp Jerk Seasoning
  • 1tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

Season chicken with a little salt and jerk seasoning then toss in slow cooker/Instant Pot with the liquid. She includes a mango salsa, but Roberto isn’t into sweet and savory so we’ve been sticking to our homemade aioli. You can whip up a quick mayo using light olive oil, an egg, and an immersion blender (recipe here). From there I use a 3 to 1 ratio of mayo to Sriracha. Roberto is obsessed and thinks it’s some magic secret sauce but it’s literally just a few ingredients. We have the mild version of the jerk seasoning and it’s still super hot so don’t forget some avocado to keep your tacos cool and creamy!

Pistachio Crusted Salmon

Another super simple easy recipe. We have this little food processor that has stood the test of time, but we’re debating upgrading our gear to a bigger processor like this or this. We’re pairing the salmon with asparagus and sweet potatoes for a complete meal.

Bullish On: September

I was thinking about a couple posts I wanted to squeeze into the month of September this week and how I only had a couple days left to sit my butt down and write them. But… it’s not September and I actually have zero days left… how the heck is it already October? Last month was a complete blur between a couple trips back east and some extra long work hours. We were finally home for more than 24 hours last weekend and it was delicious. We tried out the new sushi spot in our neighborhood, Mamanoko, on Friday night (miss you Umami 😢) and after a week of sleep deprivation, I stayed in bed till practically noon on Saturday. After resting up, we headed out for a night full of sports (hoorah!). We headed to a pre-season Warriors game (which don’t get me wrong I love) and then to our friends’ house to watch the Cal football game (womp womp). On Sunday we got all our meal prepping done early enough to enjoy a walk around the neighborhood while the sun was still out and it felt like things were finally getting back to our usual routine. I didn’t get our meal plan up this week but it was a bunch of old classics: turkey burgers, moussaka, & Instant Pot salsa chicken tacos. We’ve got some birthdays to celebrate this weekend and I’m hoping we get some of that San Francisco summer weather to enjoy some Fleet Week festivities! Here’s are the things that kept me smiling last month:

Blessings

There are two versions of this song (the other one is here). I love both. Roberto listened to Chance the Rapper’s whole album beginning to end on our redeye flight out to D.C. last month. I can’t remember that last time I did that (JK I totally can and it was when I bought a p.h.y.s.i.ca.l. copy of Taylor Swift’s Deluxe Red album from Target #notashamed). We were completely awed by his SNL performance last season, but I never took the time to listen to more of his songs (I know these aren’t new!). So glad Roberto brought these into my life cause they’re bringing me major happiness and gratitude every time I hear ’em.

Simple Things to Simplify Your Life

We got two game changers for our kitchen last month. Number one: a tea organizer like this one. Ever since we did Whole30 we try to opt for tea instead of wine on weeknights. I feel like I pick up a new box to try every week and our cupboard was becoming a serious leaning tower of boxes and bags precariously stacked up. We got a little organizer and it has saved us so much space and made the cupboard way more organized. My favorite flavor currently is the TJ’s Organic Peppermint Herbal Tea. Roberto sticks with his tried and true “Well Rested.” Word of warning: we both tried the Yogi Bedtime tea and it gave us nightmares 😱(I never remember my dreams). Freaky deaky stuff. Promise we aren’t crazy… I mean at least about this 😜.

Item number two: this simple spice rack. We got this spice rack as a wedding gift and it’s awesome since it doesn’t take up too much space and all the jars not only came labeled but pre-filled. The problem? My husband really loves his spices so we had at least twice as many as fit in this rack. We were previously storing them in a drawer, but since they weren’t labeled on the top it was always impossible to find what you were looking for without pulling out every single bottle. We got this simple rack and I absolutely love it for overflow storage since I can see everything and it’s so space efficient. We didn’t even nail it in since we aren’t even using the pull down feature.

Living Proof PHD Dry Shampoo

I am a hardcore Drybar Detox enthusiast. I absolutely love the smell and always come back to it, but this Living Proof dry shampoo has me potentially changing my tune. It smells equally amazing sans the white powder that plagues brondettes like me. One thing I’ve learned? There are two general types of dry shampoo that accomplish different things. If starch comes before alcohol in the ingredient list (i.e. Drybar), that formula is best for soaking up that post-gym sweat/oil. If alcohol comes before a starch like Living Proof? That’s great for re-upping your volume. Never one to give up the search, I just grabbed a travel size version of the Ouai foaming dry shampoo so I’ll let ya know how it goes. If you have another fave, please let me know!

The Evolution of Women in Stock Images

One of my favorite feel good articles from last month which I’m needing more and more of these days…

Teeny Tiny Hoops

I don’t think I’ve worn hoops since junior high, but I picked up these sparkly ones in rose gold during the big Nordstrom sale this summer. I was digging them so much that I went back and grabbed these teeny tiny ones for my second piecing and I haven’t taken them out since… kind of has me wanting a third…

 

Weekend Update & Meal Plan

Phew. Last week was a short one, but it was a w.e.e.k. After being gone last weekend it definitely felt like we were running on fumes and just trying to keep up. Case in point: I called Roberto midday on Friday to discuss the impending tax deadline (and our unfinished return) and he told me his life was on fire 🔥 and that he’d talk to me on Monday 🤔 (just to confirm… he did speak to me this weekend). We’ll also be gone next weekend and the weekend after so for that reason we kept this weekend super low key. I had to pack up my whole desk on Friday since they are changing our seating layout and I literally found baseball cards from the Melky Cabrera/Brian Wilson days (such a pack rat). I, of course, had plans of going through everything deliberately but ended up just dumping things in boxes at the last minute so as you read this I’m probably frantically searching for my things. By the time I was done packing and Roberto was done with his work for the night it was 8 pm. We walked home which is our favorite way to decompress at the end of the week so we didn’t get home till 9 pm. We ordered sushi for the second time in five days and essentially crashed. We slept until 11 am on Saturday which was glorious and much needed. Once we got moving, we spent the rest of the day getting serious about researching our next big trip and meal planning & grocery shopping for the week ahead.

After finalizing our research the day before, we finally pulled the trigger on the plans for our next trip yesterday! We’ve been talking about it for almost a whole year and now we’ve got another adventure to look forward to. We have our major flights booked so now it’s a matter of filling in some of the little gaps. Roberto is the research king and puts so much time and energy into putting together the perfect trip and I’m so grateful 🙌🏻. The points/price situation for this expedition so far is insane and I can’t wait to share the whole strategy with you guys! Once we got our itinerary in order and Roberto wrapped up some (non-travel agent) work we headed to Off the Grid Presidio Picnic to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I brought some spicy watermelon margaritas and I’ll share the recipe soon (my other favorite spicy marg recipe is here). There were endless choices for lunch, but we went with the lobster roll from Sam’s Chowder Mobile. I wasn’t sure it could compete with the one we get from Cousins at La Costa every year, but it was chock-full of lobster meat and didn’t disappoint.

Last week we didn’t meal prep and since we started calculating the cost of our meals it made me extra aware of how much we spent! For example, the salads we bought ranged anywhere from $15-20 😱. What made one of the salads so expensive was adding chicken which cost us $5-6 for the single portion. That’s how much it costs us for four servings of chicken from the grocery store, so you can guess how I felt about that one. Don’t get me wrong… I absolutely love splurging on a meal out, but I felt like we easily could have recreated a lot of what we purchased last week at a much lower cost. I’ll save those dollars for the beignets at Spruce thankyouverymuch.

Since we’re both out of town this weekend and I’ve got some extracurriculars this week we’ve only got three recipes on the dockett. Here’s the plan:

 BreakfastLunchDinner
Monday 9/11K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
Skillet Chicken Cordon Bleu with Roasted Zucchini (2/4)Slow-Cooker Banh Mi Rice Bowls (2/4)
Tuesday 9/12K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
Slow-Cooker Banh Mi Rice Bowls (4/4)K - Giants Game
R- Blackened Tilapia Tacos (1/4)
Wednesday 9/13K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
Skillet Chicken Cordon Bleu with Roasted Zucchini (4/4)K - Movie Night with Friends
R- Blackened Tilapia Tacos (2/4)
Thursday 9/14K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
Blackened Tilapia Tacos (4/4)K - Dinner at SFO!
R - Client Meeting
Friday 9/15K - NYC
R - Tahoe
K - NYC
R - Tahoe
K - NYC
R - Tahoe

Skillet Chicken Cordon Bleu

Roberto loves this recipe and I used to make it for him all the time. It only has a few ingredients and comes together really quickly so I’m bringing it back.

Cost/Serving: $2.66 (excludes all the stuff I have in my pantry… flour, dijon, etc. etc.)

Cals/Fat/Carbs/Protein: 258 cals/10g/6g/37g

Slow Cooker Banh Mi Rice Bowls

I think I am most excited for this recipe out of all of them. We’ve been into the chicken bowls we’ve been doing recently (Chicken Shawarma Bowls from a couple weeks ago and Chipotle Chicken Bowls from two weeks ago) and this is another spin on that. We hardly ever (if ever?) cook with Vietnamese flavors so I’m excited to do something new. If we weren’t pressed on time or were cooking for guests I’d make these spring rolls too. I bought the pre-shredded carrots and used our mandoline to slice thin radishes rounds (instead of matchsticks). I tried out the slow cooker feature on my Instant Pot and it worked like a charm. Word to the wise: I checked on the pork 4 hours in and it was plenty done so keep an eye on your meat cause it may not need the full 6 hours that the recipe suggests.

Cost/Serving: $3.49

Cals/Fat/Carbs/Protein: 353 cals/5.5g/46g/29g

Blackened Tilapia Tacos

I was first inspired by this recipe from Cooking Light, but the basil-lime mayo was a little more than I’ve got the energy for this week (I know it’s like three ingredients, but cut me some slack). So instead I’m falling back on this oldie which is super simple and has perfect seasoning. This is the only thing I don’t already have prepped, but it should be quick since all I need to do is mix up the spices and grill the fish (we make our own hard shell tacos in our toaster ovenusing the little corn tortillas from TJs). The jalapeño sour cream is delicious if you have time, but pre-made salsa and chunks of avocado are just as great in a pinch and what we’ll be going with. We’ve also got leftover carrots, radishes, and cabbage from the Banh Mi Bowls for some crunch.

Cost/Serving: $3.68

Cals/Fat/Carbs/Protein: 380 cals/11g/32g/40g

Budgeting 101: The Personal Escrow Account


escrow ∣ noun ∣ es·crow ∣ \ˈes-ˌkrō\

Escrow is a financial arrangement whereby a third party holds funds in safe keeping pending the completion of a contract or other obligation

When we talk about escrow it usually has to do with real estate transaction. When a buyer hands over their money they want to ensure the seller doesn’t receive those funds until certain conditions are met and the transaction is completed. This could mean that the transaction is pending until an inspection can be done or the buyer confirms that they can obtain a mortgage for the purchase (if you read my post on buying your first home you probably already had your pre-approval letter 😉). The funds are deposited into an escrow account where an escrow officer is responsible for overseeing them until both parties agree that all conditions have been met and the funds can be released to finalize the transaction.

Today, the escrow officer in charge of your funds is your future self. And instead of setting these funds aside for a real estate purchase, we’re setting savings aside for lumpy purchases.

If you haven’t read my last post on budgeting, hop to it 🐰. Before we can get your escrow account all set up, I want you to have at least a rough idea on what your monthly and annual spending is. It doesn’t have to be perfect… your finances are a moving target! But we need to separate out those regular monthly expenses like rent, groceries, Netflix, etc. from items that aren’t so regular, but that we still need to plan for.

In my household, the lumpy items are:

  • Gifts 🎁// We tend to spend more on gifts around the holidays and in the fall (we’ve got a strong Libra ⚖️ & Scorpio 🦂 contingency between my and Roberto’s family).
  • Haircuts and hair color 💁🏽 // My hair color doesn’t happen every month and even then I alternate between root touch-ups and refreshing my balayage so the cost varies. (I see color queen Olivia Fadda… worth every penny)
  • Big box stores 🛒 // We consider big box stores to be places like Costco and Target. We don’t visit every month, but when we do we’re normally stocking up on household items in bulk or doing seasonal spending on holiday decorations.
  • Car registration & insurance 🚗// Once a year
  • Property taxes 🏡// Twice a year

Once you figure out what those lumpy bumpy items are at your house we’re going to come up with an annual total and divide by twelve to figure out what we need to set aside each month to ensure those obligations are met. I’m a fan of setting up a separate checking or savings account to house these “escrow payments”. Take it a step further and automate your life by having either this portion of your paycheck direct deposited to your escrow account or setting up a monthly transfer so it all happens without you having to lift a finger.

Now that ‘contract or obligation’ that we’re waiting to be fulfilled? That would be spending in any of those lumpy categories that you’ve been setting money aside for. Gotta pay your car registration or go on a Costco run? No stress… you’re ready for this. Reimburse yourself out of your escrow account and keep chugging along with your regular monthly budget. Your future self will thank your past self for planning ahead!

How do you normally handle quarterly, bi-annual, or annual expenses?

Cuba Travel Guide: Santa Clara

        Guys, I originally planned to lump in Santa Clara with my Cayo Santa Maria Post, but here we are. We were only in Santa Clara for a hot second, but there is a lot to see (and I’m long-winded) so I decided to break it up. I promise this is the last Cuba post!  Like everywhere else we visited (whole itinerary here), I wish we had more time, but I’m glad that we got a chance to see even a glimpse of Santa Clara.

Stay

Casa Itaca // There was a little mix up (surprise surprise) and our original host was double booked so she arranged for us to stay with her friend at Casa Itaca, which ended up being fabulous. The owners couldn’t be sweeter and their little boy, Ulysses, is adorable. In our short time with them, they prepared us an amazing breakfast and made all the necessary arrangements to get us transportation to the airport. Such amazing hospitality in this country!

See

A lot of what there is to see in Santa Clara are memorials or tributes to Che Guevara. The revolutionary led his men to fight and win the final battle of the revolution in Santa Clara, which is why the town is still known as “the city of the heroic guerrillas.”

Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado // This site marks the location of the final battle of the revolution. Che and his men used a bulldozer to remove 30 meters of tracks and subsequently captured the 350 men arriving on the 22-car train. The bulldozer they used remains as do the train cars which are littered with bullet holes.

Mausoleo del Che Guevara // The outside of this site contains a monument and other statues dedicated to Che and his life (this is the location of the first picture too). You can also visit the indoor mausoleum where Che’s remains are housed along with those of 29 other soldiers who were killed in an uprising in Bolivia in 1967. His body was returned to Cuba in 1997 and Fidel Castro lit an ‘eternal flame’ in memory of the fighter. There is also a small museum with Che’s personal belongings and diary entries which were interesting to see.

Parque Vidal // We wandered over to this main square after arriving relatively late on our one and only night in town. It was buzzing with young people who had all gathered to hang out (and get online). When we returned to the square the next morning, rather than teenagers we found old men chatting on park benches while small children took turns riding around in carts towed by goats. This little guy was yelling “Caballo!” to spur his goat along (which means horse for those of you who are little rusty on your español). The same phrase was muttered all day by our guide in Viñales, so it was pretty adorable to see a little cowboy in the making.

MelaÍto Murals // If you walk over to the Mausoleo del Che Guevara from Parque Vidal you can’t miss these murals along the way on Marta Abreu between Iglesia Santa Clara de Asis and the bus station. They are regularly updated by staff members from MelaÍto, a local graphic artists’ collective. When we were there, the majority of the artwork was focused on peace.

Mercado Agropecuario // We stumbled on this gorgeous little farmer’s market as we wandered around near the Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado. It’s down a tiny trail right off of park or you can go around the other way and find it at the end of Buen Viaje off La Cruz.

A couple others we didn’t have time for:

Statue of Che Guevara Holding a Child // If you haven’t gotten your fill of Che lore, you can head up the road from Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado to see this famous statue. There are mini statues within the larger one.

Teatro La Caridad // Wish we had time to take a peek at the beautiful interior of this theatre.

Fabrica de Tabacos // We visited a cigar factor in Trinidad, but this one is supposed to be excellent as well.

Eat and Drink

We arrived in Santa Clara at about 8 pm and had to be at the airport by noon the next day so we didn’t have a chance to actually visit any restaurants in town. We ate dinner at the resort in Cayo Santa Maria before departing and then had breakfast at Casa Itaca the next morning. The below are famous spots that were on our list, but that we didn’t have time for:

Restaurant Florida Center // Famed as the best restaurant in Santa Clara. Bummed with didn’t have the time to try this place out. The lush courtyard looks absolutely dreamy.

El Alba // Cheap prices (in CUP not CUC… you can read about the difference here) and the cartoon covered walls had this place on my list early on. Give it a try for me if you make it to Santa Clara won’t ya?

Cafe-Museo Revolucion // A little bar filled to the brim with artifacts from Cuba’s history and the revolution. Next time my friends!

Club Mejunje // This club is legendary and we were so disappointed we didn’t get to see it for ourselves.

La Marquesina // Another famous bar that we didn’t have a chance to patronize.

That wraps up our trip to Cuba! If you are thinking of going and have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Weekend Update & (No) Meal Plan

washington-dc-weekend-update-mlkHappy Wednesday! Hope you had a nice long weekend and survived the first day back at work yesterday! We took a red eye out to D.C. on Thursday night so we could spend some time exploring our nation’s capital before a wedding in Baltimore on Saturday so ours was extra long. I hadn’t been to D.C. since 8th grade and I definitely have a much better appreciation for the history of our country returning as an adult. To me, Washington D.C. is like New York City… I can’t imagine that it ever gets old or less impressive. When we saw people out jogging I couldn’t believe that all these amazing monuments are the striking backdrop to their daily workout. We also had the best meal of our lives in recent memory at The Dabney so overall I’d say the trip was a great success. As usual, we were short on time so we quite literally spent Monday morning running from monument to monument in an effort to see as much as possible and get a workout in (we were clearly inspired by the locals). In addition to being squeezed on our sightseeing, we had more recommendations on places to eat than time to visit (or room in our bellies), so I’ll summarize them all in a separate post.

The bride was from Baltimore so it was a treat to visit her hometown even if it was a quick visit. Their wedding was on the waterfront and it was a truly breathtaking view. I rented this dress and it was absolutely gorgeous, but also a complete fashion tape obstacle course (we made an emergency cocktail hour run to the drugstore in full black tie). We were only in Charm City for about 24 hours so we barely scratched the surface, but, of course, we managed to squeeze in a baseball game at the famous Camden Yards. Given that our stadium in San Francisco seems to be permanently fogged in, we were previously unfamiliar with the concept of watching America’s favorite pastime while soaking up the sun… what a treat! We’ve decided our goal is to hit all 30 (soon to be 31) stadiums in the US by the time we’re 50… think we can do it? We’ve hit 6 so far so we’re 20% there.

We got back late on Monday and despite the fact that I dutifully came up with a meal plan and grocery list on the flight back, we just didn’t feel like shopping by the time we left the office last night. Because it’s a short week, we’re just going to make it work with what we have in our freezer and buying meals out. My $16 salad for lunch yesterday definitely stung, especially since we started calculating the cost of our meals and I know I could have made the same thing for a fraction of the cost (I got the Peach & Goat Cheese Salad with Grilled Chicken from sweetgreen).

Sooo check back next week to see what I had planned for this week… I’m super excited about a new recipe we’re planning to try!

Have a great (short) week!

Bullish On: August

Rabbit rabbit! Happy September! I cannot believe it’s officially fall (a.k.a. when our summer starts in San Francisco). This month is gonna be a crazy one for us, but it’s all fun stuff so lots to celebrate! We’ve got a couple weddings (we’re in D.C. and Baltimore for one right now) and my mom and I are doing a girls weekend in NYC later this month! So much to look forward to.

Here’s a roundup of everything I loved in the month of August:

How I Built This

Roberto and I have gotten really into this podcast the last few weeks. We’ll put it on while we cook on Sundays and it’s an inspiring way to get ready for the week. Each episode highlights an entrepreneur who tells the story of how they started their business and made it to where they are today. I’ve started with the stories of brands I love myself (many of which were founded by women💪🏼): Spanx, Drybar, Rent the Runway, Dermalogica, Kate Spade, etc. I also loved Barbara Corcoran’s story… real estate tycoon #goals. Highly recommend a listen!

Ozark

Don’t get me wrong, I am still loving the Americans (hello real life the Russian embassy is burning intel… at least that’s my theory after a lot of spy TV), but Ozark has been the show Roberto and I can’t get enough of this past month. It’s a dark drama about a financial planner who gets caught up in a money laundering scheme. Highly entertaining on your television, but as charming as Jason Bateman is, a criminal advisor is likely not what you’re looking for in real life.

Slice

I.love.this.app. I use TripIt for travel since it organizes my itinerary without any action needed on my part, and Slice is the same thing for tracking packages. It scans your email for shipping notifications and organizes all the information so you can see what is coming and when. It will also let you know if the price drops on something that you’ve ordered so you can request a price adjustment. I just bought these earrings and Slice let me know the price had dropped days later. Requesting a refund was pretty much as easy as pressing a button… they draft the email for you with all the pertinent information so all you have to do is hit send. Brilliant.

Blue Belle Headband

I’ve been trying to stay on my skincare routine and got this cute lil thing to replace the old headbands I used for keeping my hair dry and out of my face while I wash my face and do my makeup. It has Belle in the name and is blue like my site… how could I not? Cheap thrills and it makes my nighttime routine feel a little less like a chore. Comes in pink too if that’s more your style.

Stop Counting Other People’s Money

Love this article from Liz Weston with a message that’s essentially what we all learned in kindergarten: worry about yourself. You should be focused on your own money and not what your peers are doing with theirs. It’s where I pulled my “You can have anything you want. You just can’t have everything.” quote in my post on budgeting last week. She also references a behavioral economics professor at my alma mater, USC’s Marshall School of Business so double points right there ✌🏼

Weekend Update & Meal Plan

Happy Monday Tuesday! This weekend was jam packed, but a good one. On Friday evening we drove up to Petaluma to surprise Roberto’s mom for a very belated birthday celebration. Roberto’s dad was the perfect accomplice, sticking to his undercover role even after we had arrived: “I have no idea what he’s doing here! He almost gave me a heart attack!” An Oscar for Oscar! We went to dinner at The Shuckery in Petaluma and it was awesome! I honestly wanted one of everything on the menu, but we stuck to oysters, ceviche, and calamari for starters and Roberto and I split the Poke Bowl and Fish tacos for dinner.

On Saturday morning we headed back to the city so I could get changed and ready for Roberto’s cousin’s fiance’s bridal shower (ya follow?). It was so beautiful and great to see some of his extended family that we don’t see often. Can’t wait for their wedding this fall! I got her this baking set since I have a real-life obsession with those non-stick pans. Then I headed back to the city just in time to do a quick grocery shop and catch the big fight (whew 100 miles in 12 hours)! Our friends graciously hosted a bunch of us and this Irish lass was really hoping for a McGregor win despite the fact that everyone said it was nearly impossible. All the experts were right, but it was a blast to watch with friends. If you haven’t seen this video, I highly recommend it to pump yourself this week.

We had a lazy Sunday morning and continued powering through Ozark. After promising we’d only watch ‘one more episode’ at least three times, we pried ourselves away to get our prepping for the week done. Once we had most everything cooked up we decided we had to get outside so we went for a quick run before meeting up with friends for dinner at Delarosa (is it even the weekend if we don’t eat here at least once?). Our pals are getting married next week in Baltimore so it was so nice to be able to steal some of their time especially in the midst of their busy week. If you have any recommendations for DC or Baltimore let us know!!!

 BreakfastLunchDinner
Monday 8/28K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
Chipotle Chicken Bowls with Cilantro Lime Quinoa (2/4)K - Birthday Party Potluck (Bringing Watermelon-Tomato Salad)
R - Work Event
Tuesday 8/29K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
Chipotle Chicken Bowls with Cilantro Lime Quinoa (4/4)Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Asparagus and Zucchini (2/4)
Wednesday 8/30K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Asparagus and Zucchini (4/4)Spinach Feta Turkey Burgers (2/4)
Thursday 8/31K - Broccoli, Turkey, Green Onion, and Goat Cheese Frittata
R - Arugula, Fried Egg, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies
Spinach Feta Turkey Burgers (4/4)Dinner at SFO
Friday 9/1Baltimore & DC!Baltimore & DC!Baltimore & DC!

 

Watermelon-Tomato Salad

I’ve already fangirled over this, but it really is that good. After a particularly foggy couple weeks, it’s going to be over 70 here in SF this week and this salad just tastes like summer.

Cost/serving: $1.15

Cals/Fat/Carbs/Protein: 99cals/5.5g/10g/3g

Chipotle Chicken Bowls with Lime-Cilantro Quinoa

I’m clearly really into my new Instant Pot… love that this recipe used practically zero dishes and was so quick. It was also delicious… I could not stop snacking on it while I packed everything up so here’s hoping there is still plenty left in Roberto’s lunch. We used chicken breast instead of thighs since that is just our preference and Roberto made some fajita veggies instead of corn for his bowls (picky picky). We also skipped the tomatoes… mostly out of laziness (just didn’t feel like chopping them up at the end of our prep). We’ve done shredded salsa chicken before, but I feel like the chipotle paste was a game changer (we got ours at Sur la Table).

Cost/serving: $3.96 (my way a.k.a. double the corn)

Cals/Fat/Carbs/Protein: 598cals/93g/13g/54g (my way a.k.a. double the corn)

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Asparagus and Zucchini

No, we aren’t having this two-weeks back to back (although that isn’t out of the question). We made the mistake of not prepping it on Sunday last week and surprise surprise after getting home late after work we didn’t feel like cooking so we had a frozen pizza (or two).

Cost/Serving: $2.11

Calories/Fat/Carbs/Protein: 186cals/5g/8g/32g

Spinach Feta Turkey Burgers

In another episode of things we didn’t prep ahead of time and didn’t end up making was the stuffed turkey bell peppers from last week. We ended up grabbing some bison on the fly and making burgers. I like this simple recipe and added some homemade BBQ on top. This week we used the turkey to make… more burgers. If you check-in weekly you know these are a go-to. Roberto puts his own spin on them, but the one linked above was the original inspiration.

Cost/Serving: $1.59/serving

Calories/Fat/Carbs/Protein: 196cals/4.1g/5.3g/34g

Have a great week!

Budgeting 101

Budgeting sounds really simple in practice: track your spending and make sure it’s less than your income. But if it were that easy, the average American wouldn’t have over $16,000 in credit card debt and we’d all have plenty saved for retirement. Budgets have gotten a bad rap as being synonymous with restriction, but if you’ve read my ‘About Me‘ you this is not a blog about extreme frugality or coupon clipping. Money is a limited resource so budgeting just comes down to choices… you can have anything, but not everything. Your budget shouldn’t scare you, it should empower you. Your goal is to be in charge of your money and not vice versa.

The first step is to ensure you have a good grasp on what your true take-home income is. Unfortunately, that salary that you negotiated for (you did negotiate right?!) isn’t what you get to take home with you. After taxes, social security, healthcare premiums, 401(k) contributions, etc. you may be bringing home a lot less bacon than what you expected. This is just another friendly reminder to ensure that your tax withholdings are up to date. If your taxes are under-withheld (i.e. you pay less than you owe) you’ll end up having to write a check that you may not have budgeted for. On the other hand, if you pay more than you owe and get a refund, you may be bummed to find out that you could have afforded that girls weekend you skipped after all.

Once you have a good idea of what you get after taxes and deductions comes the hardest part: doing some detective work on where that money goes. There’s no one way to do, but I think fewer and fewer people are balancing a checkbook as technology advances. Personally, I absolutely love Mint, but I know it’s not the only option out there. I’ve also tried Personal Capital and I’m currently testing out You Need a Budget (YNAB). I’m planning to compare and review them all in the near future so stay tuned. The most important thing is to pick a system and stick to it. The easiest expenses to nail down are those fixed costs that don’t change month to month; for example, you probably already know what you’re paying for rent, that Netflix subscription, and your gym membership. On the other hand, items like groceries, dining out, shopping, and your gas and electric bill may vary seasonally. Ideally, I’d take at least a 3-month look back and in a perfect world, I’d use a year. Why? You want to capture lumpy items such as increased spending for gifts around the holidays or maybe more travel in the spring, etc. to come up with an annual average.

Once you know what your income is and what you’re spending you’ve got a few questions to answer. Are you spending less than you’re making? If not, no sweat, just the fact that you’re starting to organize your finances is a step in the right direction. Your next task is to figure out where you can reprioritize your spending, which leads me to my next question which is much more objective: are you spending your values?

When I meet with clients they often want to know if their spending is “normal.” The problem with that question is that there is no right answer. What is important to one person may not matter for another. For example, travel may be incredibly important to Eliza and she may be willing to pack her lunch and skip a cable subscription in order to take a couple fabulous trips each year. On the other hand, Angelica may prefer to make her clothes last a few extra seasons in order to eat at the best restaurants in town and have that iced caramel macchiato every morning. Neither of those is better or worse than the other they are just different and a reflection of each person’s values. Now if you tell me travel is really important to you, but you haven’t taken a trip in a year and your detective work tells you that you’re spending a good chunk on a morning coffee it’s time to course correct. Or maybe you’ve decided that craft cold brew really is something you can’t give up. That’s totally fine so long as you know that it may be at the expense of that weekend trip to Sonoma. The choice is yours to make, and you’re in charge!

With all that said, I don’t necessarily think spending is a total free for all. If Eliza wakes up at age 65 with a passport full or stamps (hoorah!), but has zero savings and is going to have to work until age 90 and doesn’t have medical or disability insurance I’m not into that. I’m personally a fan of the 50/30/20 approach which dictates that no more than 50% of your after-tax take home pay goes to necessities, 30% goes to flexible or discretionary spending, and 20% goes to savings.

Necessities (50%)

Think your home, utilities, food, transportation and clothing for your job (notice I didn’t say for brunch), insurance, and minimum debt payments, etc. These are the things that you absolutely must pay for. As with everything, there’s wiggle room… you may be willing to rent a studio instead of a one bedroom so you can buy lunch at work rather than bringing it. But I also don’t think you should live here and eat all your meals at Saison. Or maybe you’d rather take Lyft to the office instead of the bus, but that means you’re grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s instead of Whole Foods (but actually I love TJs and think I would shop there even if I had been the Powerball Winner). Of course, this 50% is the maximum amount so by all means you could spend less on necessities and save more.

Discretionary (30%)

This is where the fun stuff comes in! Vacation, shopping, meals out, cough*Warriors games*cough. Now there are some items in this category that I would consider a gray zone or near necessities like a cell phone. You might need one for work, but you certainly don’t need a huge data plan so you can stream constantly (as Roberto likes to remind me whenever we get a friendly alert from Verizon). You’ll also notice I included meals out which I do treat differently than the necessity of groceries or grabbing a sandwich for lunch at work. Everyone may have a different view on how to delineate those wants vs. needs, but it’s up to you to create your own rules and follow them. This is the category where Roberto and I’s “allowance” or “fun money” comes in (if you haven’t read about how we merged our finances see here). The majority of our discretionary spending is on joint items that benefit us both: vacations, date night, entertainment, etc. But we also have an allotment that is ours to save or spend however we please. I have no idea what Roberto spends his on (jk jk I do, it’s totally watches), but mine goes to my gym membership which Roberto doesn’t categorize as a need since he just runs outside, getting my hair done, dinner and drinks with just my girlfriends, etc.

Savings (20%)

Last and most definitely not least is savings. Here’s the dealio: you should be saving for something for your future and in some cases this may mean saving yourself money on interest by paying down debt. I’m going to talk more about savings once we move past budgeting but it could be for anything from an emergency savings, to a down payment, to retirement, etc. This doesn’t mean that when your emergency savings is fully funded you get to spend this 20% either. Start saving for something else. Also, while the 50% and 30% recommendations for the categories above are intended to be the maximum, nobody is stopping you from saving more! So by all means skip the Uber, walk to work, and tackle your student debt if you’re able.

 So a few questions for you:

  • Are you spending your values?
  • Do you feel like you know what you spend?
  • What’s your favorite software/app for tracking your spending?

Cuba Travel Guide: Cayo Santa Maria


Cayo Santa Maria is one of many islands in an island chain off the northern coast of Cuba. It was our last big stop in our itinerary and we were so happy that we had organized our trip to end in some good old R&R. We stayed at the Royalton Cayo Santa Maria which is an all adults-only all inclusive resort (like many on the islands). Upon check-in, we were greeted with a welcome drink at the bar and introduced to our ‘butler’ who showed us around the property and assisted us with dinner reservations.

We were at the resort for two nights (after having to cancel our third night due to lack of funds😬) and spent 100% of our time doing our best rancho relaxo. We arrived in time for lunch on our first day and I immediately ordered the burger (forgive me travel gods, but it was excellent 🙏🏼). For the rest of the afternoon, we just lounged by one of their the pools and I continued to devour The Handmaid’s Tale. That night we ate at Eggsellence (yes that is the name 😂), which is the more casual of the two restaurants at the resort. Here we met our favorite waitress, Dianelis, who was thrilled to have a Spanish speaker in Roberto (99.99% of visitors at the resort are Canadian… more on that later). After dinner, we enjoyed a rum and a cigar and watched the entertainment for the night: a Michael Jackson themed dance show. Roberto used this time to make friends with one of the employees and get caught up on the Cuban National Series (I hear it was a nail-biter). That night they were having a ‘white party’ in town that sounded like a blast, but we headed to bed to rest up for another full day of relaxing.

The next morning we headed down to the island’s famous beach and it did not disappoint; the white sands and crystal blue water are hands down the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. We went for a quick little jog along the water to check out the other resorts and agreed that our beach and view were best. After breakfast and freshening up we headed into ‘town’ to pick up some sunscreen for the day.

Now, this town is not a real town. And because I had just watched Westworld and couldn’t stop making references to it I insisted that this town looked like Sweetwater. It’s full of pastel buildings that are identical with big generic signs: “Gym”, “Spa”, and our soon to be favorite: “Bolera.” It was a trip. We visited a couple shops for souvenirs and a few odds and ends but didn’t spend much time here. If you were staying at the resort for longer and got sick of their restaurants you could come here for other cuisines such as Sushi or Italian at the ‘Trattoria’ (the closest real town, Remedios, is about 45 minutes away). This fake town gave me the heebie jeebies a little (if you want to see pics see here). We found a little “Market” and were promptly informed that it would be 25 CUC for sunscreen. That was roughly the cost of a meal and we were still hoping to make our little remaining funds last for the next 24-48 hours so we skipped it. I’ll let you guess how that turned out. Be better than us guys (everything you need to know is here).

We spent the rest of the day relaxing at the beach, alternating between taking our chances with the sun, hiding in the shade, and dunking in the cool blue ocean. Pro-tip: the quesadillas are an excellent afternoon snack you can grab right from the beach bar along with your Cuba Libre. Also pro-tip: the noseeums on the beach are no joke. Do not underestimate these invisible buggers. I think if Roberto had known that we’d itch for weeks following this trip he would have broken his ‘no checked bags’ rule just so we could bring bug spray. So come prepared! I’ve also heard taking Vitamin B for a few weeks beforehand works, but who knows. When we couldn’t take the sand anymore, but still wanted to enjoy the view of the beautiful turquoise water we took advantage of the free catamaran rides the resort offered. It was so much fun and such a great way to see the whole coastline!

That night we ate at the fancier of the two restaurants, Senses, which was supposed to have more of a global flair. The service was excellent which was what we had come to expect from everyone at the resort. We mentioned to our waitress that we loved the glass of wine we were served with dinner, and when we returned to our room found that they had sent a bottle for us to enjoy. Such nice attention to detail and a sweet little touch. After dinner, we headed into town for a bowl off. We were the only ones there and it was some good cheap thrills. If you’re following along with me on Instagram you saw Roberto and his whole team went bowling a couple weeks ago because he hasn’t stopped talking about his pin prowess ever since he got a round on me.On our last day, we stayed at the resort for as long as possible soaking up the sun and enjoying a few free/already paid for/all-inclusive meals before heading for Santa Clara. We had originally planned to stay at the resort the third night and drive to the airport in Santa Clara the next morning, but when we ran short on funds the easiest thing to do was to cancel the night and stay in Santa Clara for a tenth of the cost.

Final Words

Cayo Santa Maria was absolutely beautiful and we had a great experience at the Royalton, but it certainly isn’t an “authentic” Cuban experience. Locals don’t actually live on the island and there were no other Cubans staying at the resort (my guess is either because they either can’t afford it or they aren’t allowed…they were checking passports on the way onto the islands). Like I said, almost everyone at our resort was from Canada.

The island is about 4-5 hours away from Havana by car. There are also flights, but we didn’t have enough confidence in our ability to figure that out and because we were coming from Trinidad we weren’t quite as far. If you don’t have that much time in your travel budget check out Playa Ancon near Trinidad. If you aren’t planning to stray from Havana (although I think you should!), Varadero is a very popular resort town as well and half as far. If you are braver than us and willing to take a domestic flight, check out Playa Paraiso on Cayo Largo which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

What’s the most beautiful beach you’ve ever been to??