Top 20 CrockPot Meals

When my friend Chris asked me recently for CrockPot meal recommendations, I realized I didn’t have an easy list to hand over. I’ve shared many CrockPot recipes over the past three years on my food blog, but they’re scattered all over.

I went through and easily picked out 20 meals that I’ve made multiple times (I’ve made some of the recipes dozens of times each). You may notice a number of them have already been adapted from the original recipe and posted to my recipe page, but many of these meals link back to the original authors. Whenever I link to a blog post that’s not my own, I’ve listed any adaptations that I make while cooking.

All 20 recipes are gluten free. Due to a thyroid condition, I’ve been eating mostly gluten-free for almost three years. (I never cook with gluten at home, but every once in a while I’ll eat gluten outside the house if it’s something special.) Even if you’re not gluten-free, I promise you won’t miss it in these recipes.

Following the gluten-free theme, most of these recipes (minus stuff like the chili and soups) have generally been served with either brown rice or brown rice pasta at my house.

In addition, the first 11 recipes are Paleo (minus the rice and pasta, of course). I’m not 100% Paleo but I do try to follow the eating recommendations as much as I can.

As you can see, I’m a big fan of the slow cooker. Looking at these recipes might lead you to believe that it’s all I use, but I assure you that’s not the case. It is, however, a treasured tool in my kitchen arsenal.

In random order:

#1: CrockPot Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Although these recipes are in random order, I had to list this one first because I’m sure I’ve made this dish more than all the others. It’s super easy to put together and tastes great.

You can add a can of black beans (drained) and corn (I use frozen) if you’re not Paleo and want to bulk it up a bit. I’ve done this in the past. (Shown here served over cabbage, but I usually eat it by itself.)

CrockPot Pumpkin Turkey Chili

#2: CrockPot Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes, Tomato and Raisins

Changes: 1) I use 2 lbs chicken instead of three, 2) Use 1/2 can full-fat coconut milk instead of yogurt; 3) Don’t add agave nectar.

#3: CrockPot Pork Ragu

Changes: 1) I don’t sear the pork in advance (I just add the meat and spices directly to the CrockPot); 2) I usually don’t add grated carrots.

#4: CrockPot Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos

Changes: 1) I use a 2-lb pork tenderloin but don’t double the amount of sauce; 2) Don’t add brown sugar.

CrockPot Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos

#5: CrockPot Chicken & Pumpkin Curry with Apple & Sweet Potatoes

Changes: 1) I use chicken breast instead of thighs; 2) Don’t add coconut sugar or spinach; 3) Only add one sweet potato (instead of three).

#6: CrockPot Thai Chicken Stew

I changed this one quite a bit because it started out as a beef stew recipe (see original link).

Changes: 1) Use 2 lb chicken breast (cut into small pieces) instead of beef; 2) Didn’t cook meat or veggies in advance (just dumped it all in the CrockPot at once); 3) Didn’t add jicama or carrots, but I did add a 1-lb bag of frozen broccoli (thawed, then added to the CrockPot at end of cooking time).

CrockPot Thai Chicken Stew

#7: Crockpot Mango Chicken Coconut Curry

Changes: 1) I use 2 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces; 2) Don’t add honey or fennel (I’m fine with fennel but I have a hard time finding it at my grocery store).

#8: CrockPot Red Curry Pork with Pickles

This is another recipe I’ve made dozens of times. Only a few ingredients but great flavor.

CrockPot Red Curry Pork with Pickles

#9: CrockPot Mocha-Rubbed Pork Loin

This is another recipe where I changed the type of meat the recipe called for (I used pork but the original recipe called for beef).

Changes: 1) I use 2 lb pork tenderloin; 2) Don’t add Aleppo pepper to seasoning mix; 3) Use chicken broth instead of beef broth; 4) Substitute dates for the figs.

#10: CrockPot Chicken Tikka Masala

Changes: I make this with coconut milk and use dried cilantro instead of fresh.

#11: CrockPot Creamy Red Shrimp & Tomato Curry

CrockPot Creamy Red Shrimp and Tomato Curry

#12: CrockPot White Bean Chicken Chili with Zucchini

CrockPot White Bean Chicken Chili with Zucchini

#13: CrockPot Caribbean Pork Chili

Changes: I don’t add the optional chipotle chile pepper or red onion shards.

CrockPot Caribbean Pork Chili

#14: CrockPot Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Peanut Sauce

I make this recipe easier by whisking the sauce ingredients together rather than using a food processor. Less dishes!

Changes: 1) I use a 2-lb pork tenderloin, seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder; 2) Use 15-oz can tomato sauce (instead of 1/4 cup); 3) Use tamari (or coconut aminos) instead of soy sauce; 4) Don’t add sugar/splenda.

CrockPot Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Peanut Sauce

#15: CrockPot Minestrone Soup

CrockPot Minestrone Soup

#16: CrockPot Moroccan Lentil Soup

Changes: I use regular lentils instead of red lentil and dried parsley/cilantro instead of fresh.

#17: CrockPot Pork & Edamame Soup

CrockPot Pork & Edamame Soup with Rice Noodles

#18: CrockPot Indian Butter Chicken

I promise this tastes much better than it looks.

CrockPot Indian Butter Chicken

#19: Crockpot White Chicken Chili

#20: CrockPot Turkey Pasta with Spinach and Mushrooms

CrockPot Turkey Pasta with Spinach and Mushrooms

Have you tried any of these? Will you?

Wedding Anniversary, Year 1

I’ve been married to Paul for one year today. Here’s the recap of our ceremony. It was small and wonderful and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Three years ago, when we’d been together for a year, I wrote about how we met. I still enjoy the story.

Since we became a couple in November 2010, we’ve moved in together (Nov 2011), got engaged (Jan 2013), moved to Buffalo (July 2013), got married (December 2013), and bought a house (Nov 2014). Not too shabby! We’ve both changed jobs several times, too, so we don’t go long without some sort of upheaval in our lives.

Happy first wedding anniversary, Paul. I love you.

Here’s a selection of photos from the past four years:

(The day Paul met my family for the first time, April 2011.)


(My first visit to Buffalo, Sept 2011.)

Paul and Zan

(Watching a football game at a bar in DC, Sept 2011.)

Watching football in 2011

(He was a rocker and I was some kind of crazy-haired wolf girl – Halloween 2011.)

Halloween 2011

(He likes me even with a mustache! Dec 2011.)

Me likes me even with a mustache

(At a Thai restaurant in DC, Jan 2012.)

Paul and me

(At a wedding reception, Sept 2012.)

Paul and I at a wedding reception

(Richmond, VA Folk Festival, Oct 2012.)

Me and Paul

(Maymont Park in Richmond VA, Nov 2012.)

Me and Paul at Maymont Park; Richmond, VA

(National Zoo, Washington DC, April 2013.)


(June 2013)

Me and Paul

(Wedding day, Dec 2013.)


(Huddling together for warmth at Chestnut Ridge Park, Dec 2013.)

Paul and Zan at Chestnut Ridge Park

(Volunteering at an event in Buffalo NY, June 2014.)

Me and Paul at City of Night 2014

(Darwin Martin House, Buffalo NY, Aug 2014.)

Paul and I at Darwin Martin House

(Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland OH, Sept 2014.)

Me and Paul at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Thanksgiving in Virginia

Paul and I recently returned from a trip to Virginia to visit my family for Thanksgiving. His parents live here in Buffalo (just a mile and a half away from our new house), so we’ll spend Christmas with them.

We stayed with my sister Elissa and her family (son and fiancé) in Virginia Beach. In an attempt to save money, we decided to drive this time instead of fly (there are no direct flights from Buffalo to the Norfolk or Richmond airports). Flying would have cost $750-800 for the two of us and the price of gas was around $130 – a noticeable difference.

The only downside was the time it took to drive. This was our longest road trip together by far. Being together is great, but after seven hours or so we were both ready to get out of the car. The drive to Virginia last Wednesday took 13 hours (!!). It should have only taken 10.5 hours (which is how long our return took the following Monday), but we decided to take a longer route that entirely bypassed interstate 95. I drove on that road many times during the seven years I lived in DC…holiday traffic is pure hell. Plus it was snowing most of the way, so visibility was limited and people were driving slower than usual.

A few months ago, Elissa and her fiancé bought a beautiful house near the bay in Virginia Beach so this was our first time visiting them at their new place. It was a little strange not being in Richmond – I lived there for eight years (1997-2005) and it’s where I’ve returned for family visits ever since – but Elissa’s house is the hub for these types of occasions and it was no different this year.

(Elissa gravitates toward being the host because she’s so darn good at it. Seriously, I would be freaking out if I was hosting a large gathering at my house, but she’s been doing it for years. If she sweats, I never see it.)

(Elissa with her carrots – one strange, one normal.)

Elissa - weirdo carrot, normal carrot

What did we eat? Elissa detailed the menu in advance. The only thing we didn’t have was the baked Camembert (we completely forgot about it until after the Thanksgiving meal was over).

We were at Elissa’s for four days and five nights. It was wonderful spending so much time with her (those 1-2 hour phone calls every few weeks just aren’t the same as seeing her in person). My mom stayed overnight one of those nights too, so it was great to have some extended time with her as well.

I’ve lived in Buffalo for a year and a half now, and this visit really made me realize that I only see certain family members for a few hours a year. I knew before I moved that the hardest part about leaving would be seeing my family less often. When I lived in DC, I’d usually drive down for a visit at least every 4-6 weeks. Last week I saw my younger sister Angela, her two boys, and my two younger brothers for our Thanksgiving meal, but only for the afternoon. This year Paul and I went back to Virginia in May and November, and twice-a-year visits will likely remain the norm. It’s unfortunate — but it’s what a lot of people do.

(Me and my ultra long-haired sister, Angela.)

Me and Angela on Thanksgiving

On a brighter note, the weather was gorgeous on Sunday (mid 60s). We took advantage of the warmth and went out on our hosts’ boat. They bought the boat after they purchased the house – they’re not far from the bay and a series of canals snake through their neighborhood, allowing access for them to motor out to the bay whenever they want.

Due to my tendency for motion sickness I don’t get on boats often, but I popped a pill and the water of the bay was flat, so all was okay. Here I am looking at the passing scenery as my sister grins beside me:

Elissa and me on the bay at Virginia Beach

This is my husband sitting with Elissa as we wait for the boat to get gassed-up:

Paul and Elissa on the bay at Virginia Beach

Later that afternoon we went to Nauticus in Norfolk, which is a cool naval museum and battleship. That was super fun. Definitely worth the trip.

(Battleship Wisconsin at sunset)

Nauticus - Norfolk, VA

My friends Chris and Teresa came by for a few hours during our visit as well. I’ve known them for more than 15 years! Here’s me and Chris:

Me and Chris

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Not So Snowed-In

There’s a lot of snow on the ground right now in areas south of Buffalo. Our house is located just north of the city so we’re measuring snowfall in inches, not feet.

Snow in Lancaster, NY

(This is my husband’s uncle, who lives in Lancaster, NY. Photo taken 11/19/14.)

Some Buffalonians I follow on Twitter were complaining about being stuck at home for the third day in a row. Unless they have a valid reason for needing to be at work, it’s hard to feel sympathy for their boredom. Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert, but the thought of spending long days at home – with nowhere else to be – sounds heavenly to me.

I could read, I could cook, I could get my house in order. I could tackle things on my to-do list. I could research an upgrade/redesign for this site, which badly needs it. I could look at the paleo cookbooks I checked out from the library a few weeks ago.

I’ve traveled to work every day this week; one of very few people to make it into the office. I did get to leave work early on Tuesday (1pm), which was great because I had extra time to tackle the mountain of moving boxes.

There’s still a lot to do at the house (unroll the 8×10 rug in the living room, bring order to the office, put together the bed frame in the guest bedroom, hang pictures on the wall, spray paint the lamps I bought at an estate sale, buy a dining table and bookshelf), but at least it’s looking better. I’m also not worried about doing everything immediately, since we plan to spend more time in this space than we have anywhere else in our adult lives.

Paul and I will be returning to our old apartment on Saturday to do a final cleaning and pick up some random odds and ends that were left behind. I look forward to closing the door on that place for the final time.

I’m a Homeowner!

As of November 7, 2014, my husband and I are homeowners!

New House 1

It’s a brick Cape Cod with a detached garage. And a driveway! Do you have any idea how many years I’ve had to parallel park on public streets? Too many. Having our own private driveway will be a delightful and welcome change.

We’re pretty darn excited. Neither of us has owned a house before.

The previous owner renovated the kitchen and 1.5 bathrooms just in the past few years – most of the other potential houses we looked at needed upgrades in those areas, so to have them already done is fantastic.

(Note: All of the photos in this post were taken from the original real estate listing; we haven’t moved our belongings in yet.)

Here is the kitchen:

New House 2

New House 3

New House 5

This is the dining area off the kitchen. (We don’t currently own a dining set so I’ll be searching for a nice option to fit the space.)

New House 7

New House 8

The living room:

New House 9

New House 10

Here are the bathrooms (one full, one half).

New House 13

New House 12

New House 19

There are also three bedrooms (two upstairs, and one downstairs that we’ll use as an office). Here are two of the three.

New House 15

New House 18

The only downside to buying this house is the increased commute time to work. When I started my job in January, one of the things I raved about was only being half a mile from home, which I’ve really enjoyed these past nine months (I even walk home for lunch most days).

My new commute options are 1) drive a car, and either pay to park in a lot or attempt to find free street parking; or 2) take a bus. The bus route is a straight shot from my house to my workplace (no transfers) but would take a little longer due to all the stops. On the bright side, I wouldn’t have to search for parking and I could read on the commute, rather than paying attention to the road. I’m not quite sure what I’ll end up doing – it might be a combination of both, like if I need my car after work to go grocery shopping. And the bus would be a preferable option when it’s snowing outside.

(The increased commute is only for me; my husband’s will actually go down. He works more hours than I do – and stays later in the evening – so I am happy about his soon-to-be shorter drive.)

We move in this weekend!

Book Review: Year of No Sugar


Find it on Amazon: Year of No Sugar, by Eve O. Schaub

Book description: With her eyes opened by the work of obesity expert Dr. Robert Lustig and others, Eve challenged her husband and two school-age daughters to join her on a quest to eat no added sugar for an entire year. Along the way, Eve uncovered the real costs of our sugar-heavy American diet—including diabetes, obesity, and increased incidences of health problems such as heart disease and cancer.

This book was okay, but I found myself disappointed with most of the author’s methods. She gave herself a LOT of exceptions.

It wasn’t a year without sugar, it was a year without fructose (dextrose, apparently, was allowed). It was a year where each family member got to choose one thing they could still consume anytime they wanted (wine for her, diet soda for her husband, jam for her daughters). They also had one monthly dessert they shared as a family.

Her kids, although they ate what their parents did at home, were exempt from the no-sugar rule if they were at school, or at birthday parties, where they might otherwise feel left out not eating what all the other kids their age were eating.

Personally, I agree with Whole9: “Sugar is sugar is sugar, regardless of the form it may take or the claims it might make.” I’ve completed the Whole30 twice (recap from 2012 is posted here), which doesn’t allow sugar in any form. No exceptions. Doing a Whole30 is difficult. Eating cookies sweetened with dextrose and fruit is not difficult.

The author and her family did learn a lot: how sugar is added to pretty much everything, including many things you wouldn’t expect; strategies for questioning the ingredients of your meals in restaurants; how to navigate food events and sugar-filled holidays; discovering that your taste buds change after a while and those “monthly” desserts actually start to taste too sweet. (I put “monthly” in quotation marks because obviously they were consuming sugar more than once a month.)

This family consciously made an effort to avoid excess sugar – even if they didn’t avoid all of it – and I commend them. I’m sure Eve and her family ate a lot less sugar that year than they would have otherwise.

Still, I found myself underwhelmed with this book. If you’re going to commit to something, and write about it, and call your book Year of No Sugar, then, well…do it right.

My Estate Sale Finds (AKA Hunting for Treasure)

I had never been to an estate sale before this past May when Paul and I stumbled across one while walking in the Elmwood Village. I left that sale with four beautiful wine glasses and a stack of white plates and bowls (all of my dishes are white).

After that success, I started searching online for other sales in my area (I usually check Craigslist and I went to a lot of them over the summer – I didn’t always buy something, of course, but sometimes I would find multiple items at one house.

My sister Elissa recently posted some of her estate sale and consignment store finds, which inspired me to do the same. Here’s a sampling of some of the stuff I’ve picked up:

A piggy bank:

Estate Sale 3

This cool Buffalo-related framed picture of the Pan American Exposition. I can’t wait to find a good place for it in my new house.

Estate Sale 7

Various crystal items: a bowl, a canister, and a tall vase.

Estate Sale 4

I love the shape of this mirror but I’d like to paint it before I hang it up.

Estate Sale 6

Moose and lion bookends (unfortunately, I only have one moose; his partner’s antlers were broken off so I left that one behind).

Estate Sale 2

I brought this airplane home because I thought it looked cool. It wasn’t until I was showing it to Paul that I realized it’s also a music box! The music plays when you spin the propeller.

Estate Sale 1

I’ve been using this wire thingie as storage for remote controls on my coffee table. It’s the perfect length.

Estate Sale 8

Lamps. Two of them are matching table lamps and the third is a heavy standing lamp; all of them are brass. I don’t love the brass, but they’re all heavy and well made. When I get into my new house and decide what I’m doing with furniture arrangement and décor, these will likely get painted as well.

Estate Sale 5

I found this stool in a basement, covered with a thick layer of dust. It’s in rough shape and obviously needs some TLC, but it’s sturdy and I thought it might come in handy one day.

Estate Sale 9

Do you shop at estate sales? If so, what have been your favorite finds?

A Day in the Life – Buffalo, NY

Hollywood Housewife – a blogger I’ve very much enjoyed reading for several years now – challenged readers to take photos of their daily lives on Wednesday, Oct 22nd and post them to Instagram with the tag #OneDayHH.

I’ve completed several day-in-the-life posts in my twelve years of blogging, but it’s been a while since my last one. It’s interesting to look back on these posts because I’ve always done them while living in different locations.

My routine has changed quite a bit over the years. This entry shows a day in my life while I live and work in downtown Buffalo, NY.

(Note: Some of these photos were posted to my Instagram account, but I posted all of them on Flickr. Flickr allows me to embed photos here without that annoying border Instagram has.)

Here we go!

6:45am – Alarm goes off, I drink a big glass of water, take my daily pill to combat hypothyroidism, and get in the shower. (I wake up at 6:35 on the days I wash my hair since that takes a little more time.)

6:55am – I’m out of the shower and Paul’s alarm has gone off, so I climb back into bed for a few minutes for hugs. It’s a good start to the day.

7:00am – Brush teeth and apply makeup. I wear makeup every day but I’m not adventurous with my technique or color options. All of the makeup items I own are right here on the sink ledge.

Day in the Life 1

7:35am – Pack up my breakfast in the kitchen. For my work bag, I still use this freebie I received from my last job when I worked for Rosetta Stone in Arlington, VA.

Day in the Life 16

Before leaving the house, I take a CrockPot full of Pumpkin Turkey Chili from the fridge and turn it on so it’ll be ready in time for dinner. I prepared the ingredients the night before.

Day in the Life 2

7:45am – Walk to my workplace, which is about half a mile from home. I love my daily walk and it’s the one thing I’ll miss when my husband and I move out next month. (We’re buying our very first house!)

There’s some construction happening on Chippewa Street:

Day in the Life 4

This is a view of Main Street, which for many years has been for the sole use of the metro and pedestrians. The plan is to add vehicular traffic back to the street, which they’ve been working on for months.

Day in the Life 5

Beautiful leaves in western New York:

Day in the Life 6

7:55am – Arrive at work. Even though I sit in a cubicle, this is the most private space I’ve ever had. I love the high walls. If people want to talk to me, they have to come to my doorway.

Day in the Life 14

8:30am – Unpack a box of office supplies. I work as an executive assistant and order supplies periodically for our group.

Day in the Life 7

9:00am – Retrieve a cup of decaf coffee from the machine in the break room. The taste leaves much to be desired, but I drink it anyway.

Day in the Life 13

9:15am – Selfie in the bathroom mirror! Black pants, black tank top, sheer polka-dot shirt.

Day in the Life 8

9:45am – Answer a call on my cell phone from an unrecognized number. It’s my dentist!! (Let me clarify: It was the actual dentist. Not someone on his staff. I was shocked.) He was calling to check on me after a procedure I had at his office the day before. If you’re looking for a dentist in the Buffalo, NY area, I highly recommend Wood Dental. Dr. Wood and his staff are really phenomenal, with a high-tech office and late opening hours.

10:00am – Back to the break room to heat up my breakfast. Today I’m eating dinner leftovers (Cauliflower Puttanesca with sautéed green and red cabbage). I’m eating cabbage instead of pasta because I’m currently on Day 25 of a Whole30.

This is what the break room looks like. I like the large window that takes up one wall.

Day in the Life 12

11:30am – Bundle up in a hat, gloves, and fleece jacket to walk down the street and pick up food for a lunch meeting (it’s in the low 40’s outside…brrrr!). Destination: Salsarita’s. They’re not nearly as good as Chipotle but sometimes you have to go with proximity over quality.

Day in the Life 9

1:30pm – Walk home on my lunch break. This is really the only thing I’ll miss about leaving downtown to buy a house of our own. I’ll be about 5 miles from work so I’ll have to drive my car (or take a bus) instead of walking back and forth.

I’ve really enjoyed the luxury of walking home in the middle of a workday. I don’t have to lug my lunch containers around; I get an extra mile of exercise; and sometimes I’ll do dinner prep or other house-related things so they don’t have to be done later in the day.

When I walked by, these workmen were fixing a traffic signal:

Day in the Life 10

4:30pm – Leave work.

4:50pm – Arrive home and grab some books to return to the library. The largest location in the Buffalo system isn’t far away. I walk over with the books and my laptop and spend about 45 minutes there before returning home.

Day in the Life 11

6:00pm: – I don’t have any dinner prep tonight since I prepared the CrockPot in advance, but I look for future recipes to make in the paleo cookbooks I checked out from the library last week.

Day in the Life 17

7:45pm – Paul gets home from work. What a handsome guy!

Day in the Life 15

He watches the end of Jeopardy, we chat about our day, and when he starts watching something else at 8am I read blog posts on my laptop.

9:00pm – Time for Law & Order: SVU. This show and The Walking Dead are the only two I watch on a regular basis.

10:15pm – I had brushed and flossed my teeth after dinner so all I need to do is wash and moisturize my face before bed. I read a book on my phone for about 15 minutes before turning the light out at 10:30.

Nothing ultra-exciting happened today, but that’s the best time to do a day in the life post. No lunches with friends, after-work events, restaurant meals, or even midweek grocery trips. Hope you enjoyed the glimpse!

Reading Subject-Specific Blogs

While there are some bloggers I’ve read for many years, I go through phases where I read a bunch of blogs that focus on a particular subject – then delete most of them at a later date. I always end up keeping some that continue to entertain me, but there’s only so much time in a day to read blogs. We must be picky.

Here are some subject-specific blogs I’ve researched in the past year:

Personal finance blogs: I started reading these in late 2013. I have always been thrifty, but my interest in frugal living increased last year when I discovered Mr. Money Mustache. This early retiree is more hardcore about his spending habits and lifestyle than I am, but reading his archives gave me a lot to think about and I’ve remained more frugal-minded to this day.

In addition to his blog, I spent several months reading a bunch of personal finance bloggers. I kept up with many of them for a while, but once I obtained the knowledge I was looking for, I dropped most of them from my feed reader.

In January 2014, my husband and I started keeping a record of our spending for the first time. We use an Excel spreadsheet and input our purchases manually. We refer to it as our budget, but it’s really more of a spending record because we don’t allocate a certain amount of money per category or anything. I enjoy the recording process because it’s interesting to see our total spending month to month, as well as how much we spend in certain categories.

I started out reading over 20 finance blogs, but I’ve narrowed it down to about five. (Mr. Money Mustache remains, of course.)

Home decorating: I started researching home decorating blogs earlier this year when Paul and I got serious about buying our first house. I especially enjoyed reading the Vintage Revivals archives; this lady does a ton of DIY and scores most of her finds from thrift stores and Craigslist.

Our house-hunting endeavor was successful, and we’ve chosen a home. Our purchase has been delayed a bit (no fault of our own) and we’re still waiting to get the final word on our closing date, but we assume/hope it’ll happen by the end of October.

Before this, I’ve always lived in rentals (or with relatives), so this will be the first place that’s entirely ours to take care of and decorate. We’re very excited to move in.

Just like the finance blogs, I’m down to about five decorating blogs that I still follow.

Paleo and personal style: These blogs are my newest interest, although the subjects are admittedly dissimilar. I read paleo blogs because I’m most of the way through my second Whole30. I’ve eaten mostly gluten-free for close to three years due to an autoimmune thyroid condition, so paleo food bloggers tend to be a good resource. My favorite is Melissa; I’ve never made a recipe of hers I didn’t like.

As for the style bloggers, if you’d asked me last month if that subject interested me I would have said no. In addition to being frugal-minded (I haaaaaate shopping for clothes), I’ve just never really been interested in…style.

I don’t subscribe to fashion magazines, nor do I care what color is “in” this season. However, I’ve recently decided my wardrobe needs some help. I can present myself perfectly well in public, but there is generally no wow factor. I’m boring and safe and I don’t accessorize. I literally have three pair of earrings I wear on a regular basis and maybe three to five necklaces. I wear my wedding and engagement rings but no others. I own exactly one scarf. I own two pair of tights and both of them are black (one pair is fleece-lined because I live in Buffalo and it gets COLD here).

Unsurprisingly, my interest is in thrifty style. Specifically people who shop at thrift/consignment stores and look amazing, or purchase clothes on sale from easily-accessible stores – no haute couture, please.

My current fashion blogger inspiration comes from Janssen at Everyday Reading. I just discovered her blog last week but I’m intrigued by her random style posts – her blog isn’t entirely about clothing, which I like, but she’s good about fitting it in to her daily life.

Books Read in 2013

(I abandoned this blog for a while so my 2013 reading list didn’t get published here. I’m doing so now.)

Since 2003, I’ve posted a list of all the books I read that year. Previous lists can be found at the following links; the number in parentheses is the total number of books read: 2012 (66), 2011 (27), 2010 (47), 2009 (25), 2008 (34), 2007 (31), 2006 (110!), 2005 (45), 2004 (42), 2003 (41).

Total for 2013: 42

I divided the books into four categories: Highly Recommended (my favorites); Recommended (good but not must-reads); Okay (read only if interested in the subject matter); and Not Recommended.

I read mostly nonfiction. Fiction books are denoted with an asterisk (*) after them. I read more fiction than usual this year (six books out of the total 42), mostly because they were book club selections.

(Note: I also update my Goodreads account with each book and their rating as I finish them.)

Highly Recommended

1. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, Jon Krakauer

2. Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, Jenna Miscavige Hill

3. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, Katherine Boo

4. The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows, Brian Castner

5. Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran, Roxana Saberi

6. Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World, Matthew Goodman

7. Loving Frank, Nancy Horan*


8. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, Erik Larson

9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot

10. Yes, Chef: A Memoir, Marcus Samuelsson

11. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, Jon Ronson

12. Them: Adventures with Extremists, Jon Ronson

13. The Men Who Stare at Goats, Jon Ronson

14. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Lawrence Wright

15. Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Michael Moss

16. Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods, Christine Byl

17. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures, Anne Fadiman

18. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Kay Redfield Jamison

19. Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian, Avi Steinberg

20. The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness, and Happiness, Timothy Caulfield

21. Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World, Claire and Mia Fontaine

22. All That Is Bitter and Sweet, Ashley Judd

23. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death, Jean-Dominique Bauby

24. The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City, David Lebovitz

25. Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home, Sheri Booker

26. Bossypants, Tina Fey

27. Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way, Molly Birnbaum

28. What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, Malcolm Gladwell

29. City of Light, Lauren Belfer*

30. Buffalo Lockjaw, Greg Ames*

31. The Day the Falls Stood Still, Cathy Marie Buchanan*

32. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn*


33. The Astronaut Wives Club, Lily Koppel

34. Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America, Jeff Chu

35. Uncorked: My Journey Through the Crazy World of Wine, Marco Pasanella

36. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, Jacob Tomsky

37. A Devil to Play: One Man’s Year-Long Quest to Master the Orchestra’s Most Difficult Instrument, Jasper Rees

38. Dinner: A Love Story, Jenny Rosenstrach

39. The Road to Santiago, Kathryn Harrison

40. Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, Todd Burpo

41. Buffalo Steel, Lizz Schumer*

Not Recommended

42. Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America, Firoozeh Dumas