Archives for 2018

The 2 Things That Make Living With Others Easy?

Alex and I have lived together for nearly 9 years but it is only since implementing these two things that has made living together so much easier. Forget things like a joint bank account (although that can be useful, of course!) – these things may sound a bit dull, but it’s made all this adulting nonsense just a little bit less annoying!

A Joint Email Address

This has honestly been the most useful thing ever! We have a specific email address set up and any things that relate to the house can be sent there. It’s an email address that forwards any emails sent there to both of our personal email addresses, which means that any bill reminders are seen by both of us, any receipts (places like Home Depot can email receipts to you, and once you’ve set it up once, it will remember which email address you use when you pay with the same debit/credit card) and any other things relating to the house are in both of our accounts.

Having a separate email address means we can set up things like Netflix and utility accounts and share the password in 1Password (which leads me on to the next item!) 

We have a personal domain but this would be easy (and free!) to set up with a GMail account, which allows automatic forwarding of any emails received. The benefit of a joint GMail account also means you could have a shared calendar to remind you of due dates of bills, etc.

I also have it set up so I can send emails from that email address (an alias) which makes it easier to send out emails to people like our landlord’s agent and so both of us will get the reply.

Sharing Passwords

Alex has been using 1Password for years and has encouraged me to use it so I don’t end up using the same password for multiple things. Our 1Password setup means that we have our own personal space for passwords, etc, but also a shared space where we can share passwords for things like Netflix. 

1Password also has a feature which allows you to share credit card details which if you have a joint account (separate to your personal account) would allow you to pay for things online using the card number for that account. 

I’m not sure if you have to pay for the sharing feature, but I don’t think it’s ridiculously expensive.

One of the nicest features in iOS 12 that I didn’t notice in the beta is that you can automatically get usernames and passwords from your chosen password manager, which makes things much easier.

These two tips are coming from me as a couple, but this would also make living with flat mates easier as well – no one would have any excuse for not seeing a certain email because you know it’s gone to everyone! 

Pyjama Party

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One of the traditions of Christmas that I’ve kept since I was a kid is getting new pyjamas at Christmas. Since getting older, this has extended to getting a set for Alex, and that we wear them all day on Christmas Day. Hey, we don’t have to go anywhere or see anyone or do anything except eat and watch TV, why bother dressing?

I’ve already bought our PJ’s for this year – last year I saw these full family sets at Target, but couldn’t find our sizes. This year, I was prepared – I waited for each of our sizes to appear, set notifications and finally got the set. Prepare for some super cheesy photos.

When choosing PJ’s, I’m pretty fixed in my ways. I like PJ’s with shirts, not tops you pull over your head, I like pretty patterns but hate slogans, and I just don’t get why you would wear pyjamas like these:

A jumpsuit to sleep in? Are you crazy? Going to the loo when you’re wearing a jumpsuit is difficult enough when you’re fully awake! And that stripy two set…I’d actually wear both of those items separately in the day, they’re just a bit too fancy to wear to bed! 

I thought I’d share some of my favourite sets of pj’s from shops that ship to both the UK and US (except for Target, but realistically, that’s where I’m going to get most of my pj’s…and I already own two sets from the image…) 

Long grey set ~ Satin Stars ~ Long floral ~ Short Red

You can never have too many pyjamas. 

Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving came around early this year, and since we hadn’t had people over for a while, we invited a few friends round to share the day with us. I thought I’d post about what I made, etc, since it’s Christmas in a month and I just like thinking about food, ok?

For the main meat, I bought a piece of filet mignon from Costco which was not as expensive as expected. We don’t eat turkey normally, so we went with a nicer cut of meat than normal. I cooked the beef in a sous vide to medium rare, which took about 3 hours. If you haven’t already gotten into the sous vide obsession, you are missing out. We bought our Joule last year (probably about this time as I think I cooked last years Thanksgiving with the sous vide as well) and it has been one of my favourite purchases.
I keep thinking I should write a post about it on here, but I don’t know if people would find that interesting! Sous vide is where you vacuum bag your food, and then put it in a water bath, with a machine that keeps the water at a specific temperature.
It means it is much more difficult to overcook your food, especially meat. I actually like cooking steak now I can guarantee it will always come out perfectly medium rare. You don’t really have to monitor the food either as it cooks – no basting or turning the meat or whatever else you do when you roast something.
We already had a vacuum sealer as we buy a lot of meat in bulk at Costco then split it out into smaller packs, so dinner can be as easy as chucking a frozen pack into the water bath (you can use a normal saucepan, we have a bath set up all the time because we use it so much!)

For sides, I made… 
mashed potato (cooked in the sous vide with butter – I watched an episode of my favourite food vlogger, Binging with Babish, who described his as being cooked in a butter bath, so I did the same)
roast potatoes (parboiled for 10 minutes, then roasted until crispy and brown, turning occasionally)
roast parsnips (parboiled for 5 minutes then roasted as well…unfortunately I always seem to burn my ‘snips so maybe I should keep a better watch on those!)
carrots (also sous vide’d – I put half a stick of butter chopped up and a sprinkle of sugar in, cook for an hour at 183F, then finish in a frying pan to reduce the butter down. They are the best carrots ever)
roasted sprouts (chopped in half, coated in a 3:1 mix of maple syrup and extra virgin olive oil – I have never made them this way before, but they were SO good)
two types of stuffing (the British one, Paxo, made up into stuffing balls because who doesn’t love a ball and the American one, Stove Top, which is like cubes of stale bread with seasoning, which was put into a dish and finished in the oven to get a crispy top. I love both types of stuffing for different reasons so I can never choose between them!)
pigs in blankets (the British kind, where you wrap a thin sausage in bacon and put in the oven. America seems to have many different meanings for pigs in blankets and none of them involve bacon. I know. I don’t get it either.)
Yorkshire puddings (my batter mix is very simple – weigh how many eggs you want to use, then use the same weight in flour and milk) which I can not seem to get right at the moment
Finally, there was obviously lots of gravy (Bisto, because by that point in cooking, I can not be arsed to make a fancy gravy).
Our friends brought a cauliflower dish over which I can’t remember what it was called, but it was like cauliflower cheese, and who doesn’t like that?

For pudding, I made a trifle, because I haven’t had one in…maybe 2 years? That seems crazy.
A trifle, if you don’t already know, is made up of 3 different parts – the jelly layer, the custard layer, and the cream on top.
Jelly is called Jello here, which was obviously easy to buy along with a can of fruit cocktail which gets drained and put in the jelly. On top of the jelly before it sets, you float some ladyfinger biscuits on top so they soak in the jelly – they were not the easiest thing to buy (World Market sells them, but the store I went to was sold out) so Alex bought far too many on Amazon because he realised you can also use them to make tiramisu.
The custard layer should have been the easiest part – Bird’s Custard Powder is easily bought in supermarkets near me (although is far too expensive) and all you need to do with that is make it up thicker than usual, let it cool and pour it on top of the set jelly to set. I made the mistake of not heating my milk up enough, so no matter how much powder I put in, it just would not set. I finally realised my mistake, heated up the custard long enough and put it in the blender to get it smooth. It’s actually too thick now. Still yum though.
Finally, just before serving, I whipped a carton of cream, and put it on top, and obviously finished with sprinkles, because what sort of trifle doesn’t have sprinkles? 

We played a board game after dinner, called Betrayal at House on the Hill – not the sort of game I would normally play, but still pretty fun.
Alex served up cocktails that were colour coordinated to our game pieces – one of the things I have really loved since we moved here is that we now have the space and time to be able to host friends and have been able to build up a good cocktail cabinet. 
We use the app Cocktail Flow on our iPhones to help us find cocktails to make with what we have in the cabinet – I like it because it means we end up trying new things every time! (I also use Airtable to keep a database of what we have, because when you have nearly 50 different gins, you don’t want to buy the same one again!) 

To end the evening, we hopped into the hot tub with more drinks and chilled out in there for an hour or so. We have a huge brolly over the hot tub, so it’s quite nice to sit in there while it’s raining!

Now I’m already thinking about what to do for Christmas – what sort of sides do you love with Christmas dinner?

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