Monday, March 20, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

 We've made good progress on our freezer stash, so I'm now working on building it back up, with a few of our favorite meals. I'm making a triple batch of taco meat tonight, 1/3 for dinners this week, and the rest for the freezer.

  • Friday - birthday dinner (takeout pizza)
  • Saturday - chicken curry
  • Sunday - steak & coleslaw
  • Monday - tacos
  • Tuesday - orange chicken & rice
  • Wednesday - tacos
  • Thursday - spaghetti & meatballs
  • Friday - gyozos & wings?
What about you? What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Sunday Things

I was reasonably productive yesterday, and did a lot of driving around (for Nick). We are in the home stretch here, as Nick has his driving test in a few weeks. I typically spend Sundays preparing for the week ahead, and today will be filled with that, plus lots of soccer!

I also had the boys go through all of their shorts for Dubai. As expected, many are outgrown. The good news is that there was some sharing between the kids (Sam is taller than Nick). I'll pass on the outgrown shorts via Buy Nothing, and hopefully save another parent some money. I did place an order for a few additional pairs, and buy Nick tennis shorts. Shorts that fit the bill for his tennis matches are expensive & hard to find, so those are ordered.

To do list for today:

  • Workout class
  • First club soccer game of the season for Nick, so help him get ready to go. M is taking him to Monterey, which is not close at all.
  • Watch two soccer games for Sam. At least he can drive himself to warmups!
  • List shorts on Buy Nothing
  • Call my parents
  • Sort out plans for next week, particularly as I have to be in the city twice. Drat. My least favorite work activity.
  • Coordinate logistics with our Colorado friend, for our upcoming visit
  • Return two items that I bought for Dubai & don't need
  • Shred cabbage for coleslaw
  • Make a salad
  • Clean the kitchen
That's it for us. What are you up to today? I'll be attempting to stay dry at soccer, as it's supposed to be another very wet day!

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Saturday Happenings

 It's a non rainy Saturday, for the first time in a very long time! Nick won his (birthday) tennis match last night, we had takeout pizza, opened gifts, and had sparkler candles on ice cream cake. Everyone was so full from the pizza, I don't think anyone tried the ice cream cake. Maybe today. ;-) 

Here's what we're up to today:

  • Take Nick to his reffing game. Run on the track during the game, and then drive him home. Two weeks until his driving test!
  • Take Nick to/from school tennis open court, & tennis volunteering 
  • Shred cabbage for coleslaw (tomorrow's dinner)
  • Vacuum
  • Laundry
  • Clean kitchen
  • Package & mail eBay sale
  • Post a bunch of stuff on BN
  • Menu plan & make a shopping list
  • Costco/store (M + me)
  • Make chicken curry for dinner
  • Try on all Dubai clothes/potential outfits, finalize what I need, and make packing list
  • Finalize Colorado itinerary

What about you? What are you up to today?

Friday, March 17, 2023

Frugal Friday

 It was a really busy week at work, so not much time to put my list together. 

Saving on things we buy

  • I had to add another Dubai hotel room to our reservation (folks in Iran don't have access to international credit cards, which makes travel booking near impossible), and noticed that the rate had dropped slightly. Because we are paying for so many rooms, I rebooked everything & saved close to $400. 

Earning money

  • Listed a few items on eBay
  • Helped Nick sign up for reffing games

Avoiding spending

  • Returned a few things I'd purchased for Dubai, but won't need.

Eating what we have

  • Used up ripe bananas in smoothies
  • I finished the last of the breakfast sandwiches from the freezer
  • I made meatloaf on Sunday, and I was able to freeze half for another meal
  • We had a bunch of lemons fall off of our tree in the big storm earlier in the week, so we've been using those in salads, as dressing

For others

  • Signed up for a volunteer project
  • Offered to take home some "lost & found" gym clothes that were being tossed. I washed them, and am giving them away on Buy Nothing
  • Gave away a bag of clothing on BN
That's it from my side. What about you? Any wins to share?

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Workout Wednesday

 I'm late to the party, but trying to catch up after a week of having a cold, a huge storm (we lost our internet, and had a huge mess in our yard to clean up) & a bunch of work drama.

Workouts for the week:

  • Monday - I had a really terrible night's sleep, so I slept in & didn't work out
  • Tuesday - 2 mile walk on the treadmill
  • Wednesday - spin class + 1.5 mile walk
  • Thursday - no workout, wasn't feeling well
  • Friday - Orange Theory class
  • Saturday - Orange Theory class
  • Sunday - Orange Theory class

Highlights: I tracked my calories every day, which was a nice change, after falling off the wagon for a few days. 

Lowlights: Not feeling great. I'm much better this week. 

Areas of focus for the week ahead: Pushing through hunger, when I know there's a meal around the corner. For whatever reason, I have some sort of scarcity signal that goes off in my head, and when I get hungry, even if dinner is around the corner, I feel compelled to have a snack, instead of just waiting. It interferes with dinner, isn't a great example for the kids (I'm always telling them to stay out of the pantry ahead of meals) & adds unnecessary calories. 

What about you? How are you doing with your health & fitness?

Monday, March 13, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

It's another rainy week of March (seriously, so much rain). I'm grateful we're not in the flooding zone, but so many people are struggling with extreme weather right now - blizzards in northern & southern California, and lots of flooding. 

We're also not barbecuing a lot, which is typically a staple for us. M doesn't enjoy being out at the barbecue in the rain. ;-) 

Here's what's on our menu this week:

  • Friday - doctored up frozen pizzas
  • Saturday - M & I went out, and the teens had taquitos
  • Sunday - meatloaf, mashed potatoes & green beans
  • Monday - chicken fajitas
  • Tuesday - leftover meatloaf
  • Wednesday - chicken curry
  • Thursday - leftover fajitas
  • Friday - leftover curry
What about you? What's on your menu for the week?

Friday, March 10, 2023

Frugal Friday

 It's been another week! 

Saving on things we buy

  • On a very busy day, I redeemed a free 1/2 sandwich offer for lunch at Panera
  • Used a $20 grocery store reward to pick up: three cases of sparkling water, two package of fruit snacks (airport/road trip snacks - splurge), and three containers of juice for Nick's smoothies. I spent $6 out of pocket, and earned a little back via Fetch (Bubly offer). 
  • Used a belated birthday offer from Chipotle to get a free chip & guac (for Sam), when I took him to dinner one night. I used a gift card to pay for our dinner. 

Earning money

  • Sold an (empty) box for Airpods, which was Nick's Christmas gift last year. It still blows my mind that people will pay for the boxes, but I guess it increase the resale value of the item they are selling, to have the box. 
  • M & I received the remainder of our 2022 bonus this week. I put mine in the boys college accounts, and savings. He is using his for taxes. Fun. ;-) 

Avoiding spending

  • Picked up a box of oatmeal & an extra watch band/charger (for my fitness class) via Buy Nothing
  • Another neighbor was giving away avocados (we have lots of citrus fruit & avocado trees here), so I picked up a bag

Eating what we have

  • We don't keep bread on hand (typically) & I have a few jams/jellies open & in the fridge. We rarely use them, so I've been adding a bit of jelly to Nick's smoothies. I finished off the blueberry jelly this week, and will start working through the strawberry jelly next. 
  • I also used a container of pureed pumpkin (from when I picked up a few free pumpkins at the store, after Halloween) & made pumpkin muffins. 
  • Ate lots of leftovers during the week. 
  • Sam & I both had leftover Chipotle for a second dinner, and I have just enough for a lunch. The person making our food was clearly new, and very generous with the toppings. ;-) 

For others

  • Gave away a few items on Buy Nothing, volunteered for a citizenship project at work, and helped at the school
What about you? Any frugal wins to share?

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Workout Wednesday

I'm getting into a better rhythm, and my knee isn't bothering me much at all. I do have a cold this week, which slowed me down a bit. (Reflected in next week's post of workouts). 

Workouts for the week

  • Monday - Orange Theory class
  • Tuesday -  45 minutes on the elliptical
  • Wednesday - 60 minute spin class
  • Thursday - 45 minutes on the elliptical
  • Friday - Orange Theory class
  • Saturday - Orange Theory class
  • Sunday - Orange Theory class

Highlights - back to spin class, after a long break for my knee!

Lowlights - I'm doing an okay job with snacking & overall calories, but I could definitely make improvements. 

Areas of focus for the week ahead - I have a cold this week, and tend to eat comfort food when I don't feel well. I need to keep that in check, and get in workouts appropriate to my energy level.

What about you? How are you doing with your health & fitness?

Monday, March 6, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

We have made our way through the vast majority of our freezer leftovers! This is a huge milestone, but also means that we need to get back to prepping more meals on weekends/during the week. Our schedule often makes that a challenge.

Here's what's on the menu for the week. It's apparently a very chicken heavy week. (We serve every dinner with a green salad.)

  • Friday - gyozos & wings
  • Saturday - grilled chicken & rice
  • Sunday - orange chicken & rice
  • Monday beef broccoli noodles
  • Tuesday - leftover grilled chicken & rice
  • Wednesday - leftover orange chicken & rice
  • Thursday - leftover beef broccoli noodles
  • Friday - I'm thinking pizza

What about you? What's on your menu for the week?

Sunday, March 5, 2023

A wardrobe update

When we go to Dubai in April, it will be Ramadan. From what I can tell, it looks like a more modest dress code is recommended during that time of year. It's also going to be 80 degrees or so. I've done some research, and it looks like I'll need to be covering my shoulders and knees, while keeping cool. I don't own anything that fits the bill exactly, as every dress I own, save for two, hit me just above the knee. 

I've made a bunch of online orders, and have realized 1) how picky I am 2) that I have a very definite opinion of what I like (fitted vs flowy) and 3) I've never been much of a fan of a midi length (midi is a cut that hits you sort of half way between your knees & ankles.) 

I'll also be seeing my husband's relatives that I've never met before, and will be very unlikely to see again. So, I'd like to look reasonably good, at this one an only shot of making an impression. ;-) 

In an attempt to cast a wide net for things well outside of my comfort zone, I've ordered many, many things from stores across all different price points & styles. 

Here's what I've found so far:

Two of these dresses (one black, one navy). I will wear them with a light sweater or wrap. I also went up a size from what I'd typically order, because I don't want them to be too form fitting. These are from Target.

This dress from Loft. It hits me differently than it does the model, and the slit is on the side, not above the knee.

Two dresses that I already own (woohoo), that will also need to be worn with a sweater/wrap.

This skirt (Nordstrom) , that I plan to wear with a tank top & sweater/wrap. 

I set a pretty hefty budget for this trip, but I've spent very little of it, which is great. Let's hope the last few orders I get in are winners! I'd love to get in a pair of light weight pants, a few tank tops, and need to find some light wraps/sweaters in my closet. I'm also planning to borrow a few wraps from friends, as they are not the type of thing I'd normally wear.

What is your style? Do you enjoy shopping? I'm NOT a fan, particularly when I'm looking for very specific things.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Saturday Happenings

It's a pretty mellow Saturday for us, as club soccer games haven't started yet. Those will begin in a few weeks. We'll enjoy the quiet weekends until then. ;-) 

Overall, it was a good week. I need to be more cautious about our menu planning, as we've done such a great job of eating all of our freezer leftovers, that there is minimal wiggle room for not having a meal at the ready. It was part of my plan for the winter to eat through our stash, but it does mean that I need to be more intentional about our cooking. 

Here's what's on the to do list for today:

  • Go to a workout class
  • Vacuum
  • Clean the shower
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • Laundry
  • Make a Costco list
  • Menu plan
  • Try on a few items I purchased for Dubai, and see if anything will work. If not, process the return.
  • Make muffins
  • Take Nick to volunteer tennis lessons
  • Pick up BN item
  • List 2 items on BN or eBay
That's it from my side. What about you? What are you up to today?

Friday, March 3, 2023

Frugal Friday

I've been continuing to look for deals, selling things here & there, & making progress on our freezer meals. 

Saving on things we buy

  • I used a $20 reward for a grocery purchase. I picked up mini ice cream bars that were clearanced out, and had both an iBotta & Fetch offer (rare to be able to combine), making each box about $.25. 
  • I also used a $4 CVS reward, and picked up some candy to go with a birthday gift. Teen gifts are typically cash or gift cards, so it's nice to have a bag/box of candy to go with it. 
  • Used another $8.50 in CVS rewards (they keep sending them) to buy two giant bags of popcorn & two boxes of tea, for a $1.45. (That includes 2 bags, which I didn't purchase, but was somehow charged for. That's the second time it's happened to me on self checkout, so I obviously need to pay more attention.) 

Earning money

  • I sold two pair of sandals on eBay. 

Avoiding spending

  • I've given up coffee, as it's been causing me some stomach issues. Although M still has coffee, I'm saving the cost of one espresso (made at home) per day, as well as the almond/oat/soy milk that I'd buy to go in it. I'll use up my remaining stash of alternative milk in smoothies. 
  • I picked up the Friday Freebie (plain Greek yogurt), which happened to be on our shopping list for a recipe. Love it when that happens. 
  • I belong to a workout studio that charges a monthly fee. You sign up for classes, and if you cancel with less than 8 hours until the class, you get charged a missed class fee. I've only missed once (when our garage was flooding), and I almost overslept on Monday. I was attending the 7 am class, and got almost no sleep, as M has been sick. I really, really thought about skipping, but pushed myself & went! I got in a workout, and avoided the fee. 
  • Called United & got the boys seats for our Dubai flight upgraded. (I get complimentary upgrades for everyone on our reservation, as a part of my status, but I'd split the reservations, and needed to have it done manually. It saved $2k in upgrades.) We're still waiting to see if M & I will be upgraded to business class, so fingers crossed. 

Eating what we have

  • I'm continuing to eat up random leftovers for lunches, and typically fast in the mornings (no breakfast). By the time lunch rolls around, I'm willingly to almost anything. 
  • I've been making smoothies, when we don't have obvious leftovers. I like a small scoop of peanut butter in the smoothie, both for the taste, and for the extra protein.
  • We've been doing great eating things from the freezer, and have whittled our freezer stash way down (our goal for February). 
  • I used up two freebie yogurts in a muffin recipe, as well as almond milk (vs regular milk). I'm trying to use up almond milk purchased for my coffee, as I'm not drinking it any more. 
  • Finished off the last of the ham & bean soup I made for the freezer in January. 
  • Had another two freezer meals, rounding out our menu on a busy week (fiesta chicken + the last of the pulled pork)
  • Out of probably 25 freezer meals when we started the year, we're now down to: 
    • 1 single serving soup container
    • 1 serving of taco meat
    • 1 serving of chicken tikka masala

For others

  • Volunteered at work
  • Gave away a bunch of ski gear on Buy Nothing
What about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

March Goals

 I'm looking forward to March! It's a reasonably quiet month (one birthday, no travel) before a very busy April (college trip to Colorado, & family trip to Dubai).

Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish this month.


  • Stick to our budget
  • Use 6 "hard to use" freezer or pantry items
  • Make $200 in side hustle
  • Save CA tax refund in boys college accounts
  • Put bonus into savings
  • Find cheaper car insurance
  • Estimate withholdings for 2023 (adjust accordingly) 
  • Plan one fun activity with the kids
  • Summer plans
  • Have to dates with M
  • Plan Dubai activities
  • Lose 3 lbs
  • Track calories & average below 1500 calories/day
  • See two doctors for lingering issues
  • Do something social with friends
  • Invest time in my volunteer roles
  • PRactice French
  • Finalize leave date (work) 
  • Make a list of things I want to do in my first 3 months off
  • Come up with a list of future options (career, volunteer, etc)
  • Figure out dress code requirements for Dubai, and see if I have any gaps. It's a conservative dress code, in a warm weather climate, so not sure I have much that fits the bill. 

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in March? How does your month look?