DiFfErEnT DiSh – Borough

As you can recall, Nellie set the bar pretty high in our debut edition of DiFfErEnT DiSh – MARIN! So the pressure was on for me to find some really good dining options to rival our amazing start. I dug deep, and I mean deep, and I found my inner foodie-self and came up with a fantastic short list of fine dining options!

Conveniently on the way home, I stopped and picked up a bottle of wine and was able to unwind before our evening was to commence. So I sipped some sweet white wine and listened to country music while I ironed out my attire for the evening.  Nell had not yet arrived home yet, which was fine by me, I was finally able to take a moment for myself. My weeks have recently been held hostage by a very demanding grad school course load; so this was really nice.

Soon my Mrs. arrived and we were able to finish getting ready together. We snapped a few selfies and were quickly out the door. She definitely knows how to get glamorous and tonight was not an exception, she was spot on.  After her asking a few times where we dining, I finally caved and told her.  We would be trying one of the Twin Cities new hot spots, The Borough!

Checking out the Borough on this episode of DiFfErEnT DiSh! It's a new and trending restaurant which provides great atmosphere and excellent service!

Checking out the Borough on this episode of DiFfErEnT DiSh! It’s a new and trending restaurant which provides great atmosphere and excellent service!

I felt that this place had a cool rustic feel mixed with a few tasteful accents that would deliver the upscale dining atmosphere. It definitely delivered. When we arrived the hostess politely greeted us and we quickly took us to a quiet table by the windows. I felt a few complements being sent our way from the glances we received from those casually dining and chit chatting. We started catching up with normal work and school conversation, it seems like we get little time together these days because we are both very busy.  I am proud of her though, she has really taken her career to new levels lately, and she knows it! The conversation kept coming and we let it flow, the bottle of wine that we shared only helped to grease the wheels of more gossip.

We had a great server, he was rather animated and made us feel excited about the items on the menu.  Our hunger had grown and we were eager to try new dishes.  The Borough has more of an american style cuisine but offers some unique flavors, so we didn’t hold back.  For our 1st and 2nd courses we decided to split the plates and order our own main entries and share. The *Hamachi was absolutely delightful and the Octopus was very very excellent.  They were recommended on several reviews that I read and now I know that they weren’t lying, absolutely delicious. We continued sipping on some wine as we ate some bread as our main course was prepared. I went with the Short Rib and Nell went with the Chicken entrée, both were very well prepared but were again smaller portions.

A picture collage of our evening, cause nothing spells out a good evening with your wife than a bunch of selfies! We had a really fun time tasting some new dishes!

A picture collage of our evening, cause nothing spells out a good evening with your wife better than a bunch of selfies! We had a really fun time tasting some new dishes at this classy upscale restaurant!

Overall this place has great service and a nice staff to ensure that your having a quality experience, but this does come with a price tag.  Another wards, if you don’t plan on spending a lot, then you might have to borrow money just to pay your Borough tab; I know bad pun, lol. We didn’t sweat it, with a quick swipe we settled up and started the car from across the street. We said our goodbyes and like a gentleman, I retrieved the car and picked up my queen.  This was another fun dining experience and the night was well spent in the best company!

Borough Recap:

  • Food – 4/5 stars
  • Decor – 3.5/5 stars
  • Music – 3/5 stars
  • Service – 5/5 stars
  • Price – $$$

Stick with us as we see what Nellie surprises me with next month, stay tuned for our next DiFfErEnT DiSh!

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Financial Wellbeing – Navigating a Debt Driven Society!

Everyone seems to manage their financial wellbeing (or lack thereof) in many different ways. Some remained organized through line item accounting records in their checkbook registrar. Others have decided to be 100% IT savvy and leverage nifty software to track theirs. And last but not least you have those that simply go with the flow and hope they make more than they spend! Well this blog posting offers only my words of wisdom and a couple nifty tools for those brave enough to test them out.  As you all know by now, there is no silver bullet to be offered, however, what follows could work for you and reduce your financial headaches.

As a younger adult beginning my college career, I rarely thought about financials or the impacts that they would have on my life post graduation. So I did like most and racked up some student loans and didn’t think much of it.  Sadly, I am not alone and many people have also been passive at that stage in their life and piled on the debt. Really as younger adults we should be better informed as to what type of ramifications this will have.

When I graduated and began working in the Real World, I quickly found out that managing your financials was a bit more tricky that you think and it pays to be proactive. After learning from my mistakes over the years following, I developed my own financial management system. It was really pretty straight forward and made a lot of sense. I will say however, that making financial decisions is always a tradeoff between now and later.

We are only young once right? That said, some of you may feel the need to splurge on some nice material things or take a fun vacation and satisfy the now, but just be mindful that these things do come at a cost if your choosing to finance them. I think the enemy of most can be their own impulses and the convenience of credit cards.  While plastic can be very intriguing and if done right, a person can earn great reward points and cash back, but if you don’t zero out that balance at month end you can get hit with that dreaded Interest Expense, Ouch!

So what is the right balance? Well if you are able to understand your 1) income, 2) bills, 3) debt and 4) savings, you will have the information you need to manage your financials.  It is my hope that you can leverage the financial spreadsheet template that I have developed to empower you to more easily manage your money and to make better decisions. This document is meant to be reviewed and updated monthly so you can tell how you are doing and make better informed decisions.  Additionally, there is a tab added to track your financial goals which can be a real motivator for sustainable change.

If your truly interested in giving this tool a shot, please just email me at MarathonJake@gmail.com and I will gladly send you a copy of the template. From there you can tweak it to fit your needs.  Below are some of the screenshots that I have taken to give you an idea of how simple it is to use; the comments will help guide you through inserting the correct data in the fields.

Bill Payments:

Here is where you can easily track your fixed and variable monthly bills.  Super easy to use and the bottom cash flow will show you how much money you have each month to make decisions with (i.e. pay down debt, put in savings or spend on something nice!)

Here is where you can easily track your fixed and variable monthly bills. Super easy to use and the bottom cash flow will show you how much money you have each month to make decisions with (i.e. pay down debt, put in savings or spend on something nice!)

Income:

Capture your monthly income in this tab of the spreadsheet so you know the amount of money you have to cover your monthly expenses.

Capture your monthly income in this tab of the spreadsheet so you know the amount of money you have to cover your monthly expenses.

Debt Management:

Manage and track your debts (short, medium, long and really long term debt) easily with this tab.  See how much money you are loosing in Interest Expense each month by carrying debt. Review your interest rates and work to eliminate your high interest loans first!

Manage and track your debts (short, medium, long and really long term debt) easily with this tab. See how much money you are loosing in Interest Expense each month by carrying debt. Review your interest rates and work to eliminate your high interest loans first!

Savings:

Track how well you're saving for your future whether it be regular savings, retirement or health savings.

Track how well you’re saving for your future whether it be regular savings, education, retirement or health savings.

Goal Setting:

Its never to set late to set your financial goals for the year. Be sure to set S.M.A.R.T. goals and set monthly reminders to track your progress!

Its never to set late to set your financial goals for the year. Be sure to set S.M.A.R.T. goals and set monthly reminders to track your progress!

Please do take note that this spreadsheet is not a one size fits or fixes all problems. However, this tool coupled with other good financial practices such as reviewing your accounts online regularly and monitoring your credit score / report will provide a great starting point in being financially aware!

Couples Cooking – Hello Quinoa!

Just recently Nellie and I rolled up our sleeves and begun to ‘prepare’ one of our health goals for 2014, it was our first ‘Couples Cooking’ night! In our debut evening of cooking excitement I decided that we would be experimenting with Quinoa.

Known for its highly nutritious attributes, this mother grain is high in protein and is gluten-free.  Having never prepared it before, but having recently caught a pleasant taste for it at the MARIN (DiFfErEnT DiSh), I thought it would present a fun challenge to cook with. So with the little bit of time I set aside, I researched the nutrition facts of Quinoa.  Impressed by the half grain / half vegetable, I found some recipes that would suit both of our tastes.  For some interesting facts about this super grain visit this resource.

For an appetizer I decided to go with a spicy option that I stumbled upon.  Considering that Nell is a big Sriracha fan, I thought that this bite-sized meal starter would be ideal. I present to you, Sriracha Quinoa Bites!  Click the link and you can get the recipe and cooking instructions. A special thanks to the fantastic bloggers out there that are trailblazing and inspiring all us foodies!

A little spice infused quinoa baked into yummy little bite size appetizers - Spicy Sriracha Bites!

A little spice infused quinoa baked into yummy little bite size appetizers – Spicy Sriracha Bites!

When it came to meal prep, I made sure to stop off at my local Target and pick up all the ingredients needed for our adventurous evening. After arriving at home Nell and I both got comfy and began setting out our cooking utensils. We enjoyed some frozen wine spirits as we began whipping our appetizer together. It called for several fun ingredients which we whisked together in a big bowl before spooning them into our mini muffin tin.  We placed them into the oven and began to work on our main course!

To accompany the spicy bites we were going to enjoy, I selected a sweet and salty main course that fused oriental veggies and quinoa.  The meal, Sweet Teriyaki Salmon with Garlic Quinoa Stir-Fry, was just the right variety of colors and flavors and smells. Together we prepared the meal slightly differently, instead we decided to also marinade our asian vegetable melody as well. As we wrapped up our meal, we pulled our bites out of the oven and began snacking.

Infused with a sweet and salty theme, this dish was fun to make and delicious to consume!  Way to go, Quinoa!

Infused with a sweet and salty theme, this dish was fun to make and delicious to consume! Cooking with Quinoa is great!

I was surprised at how easy the quinoa was to prepare, after rinsing it we put it into the rice cooker and shortly thereafter, presto – light and fluffy quinoa was ready.  We plated our main dish, sat down and ate together. After yammering on for a while about our week we cleaned up and called it a successful in-house date!

Next months addition to Couples Cooking will be here before you know it and it will be Nell’s turn.  Till then, I encourage you all to try preparing your own heathy meal.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised how cuisine that’s healthy for you can also be very tasty!