Monday, November 30, 2015

Menu Plan - what's cooking?

We managed to make our way through the majority of the Thanksgiving leftovers (hurrah), so the fridge is starting to look a bit more normal again, which I like. I get anxious when it's packed & start to worry about waste. Meanwhile, M loves it when the fridge is packed wall to wall, so we have mini debates about this every week. First world problems. :-)
  • Monday - A bit of a smorgasbord. We will all have grilled chicken and salad, but the side dishes will vary (quesadillas, leftover mac & cheese, homemade bread, etc)
  • Tuesday - Taco Tuesday, + guacamole & chips
  • Wednesday - Spaghetti & meatballs
  • Thursday - Pesto pasta & chicken
  • Friday - Risotto with some sort of mix in + sautéed brussels sprouts
  • Saturday - Homemade pizza
  • Sunday - Rice pilaf with burgers

What about you? What are you making for dinner this week? I need to make homemade taquitos for the freezer, so I can have a few more "ready to go" meals for late nights. 

November goals - how did I do?

I was ambitious in November, and had one last work trip to Brazil. Thankfully, I have only a personal trip (Christmas with the family) in December. I feel very lucky not to have any more business trips, especially this time of the year!

  1. Complete 1000 minutes of cardio - 900 minutes. Well off my target, but higher than February, March, April, July, & September. (Looking at the bright side. ;-)
  2. Complete 10 strength workouts - 10, right on the money!
  3. Complete 4 stretching workouts - 2, and I got that second one today. Yikes. 
  4. Lose 3 pounds - I lost 1.5 pounds, so at least some progress was made!
  1. Stick to our November budget - Yes, but have to add the caveat that our nanny forgot to bring her time sheet, so I didn't pay her as planned on Friday. Not sure where the hours netted out for her, but we will likely finish right *at* or slightly over, once she's paid. 
  2. Finish our 2016 budget planning - I'm almost there!
  3. Continue working on my "40 week project!" - Yes! Still working on this.
  4. Re-evaluate our budget by working backward from "must haves" & see what our minimum income would be. (Advice from some of you a few posts back). - I haven't done this yet, as I'm hoping to wait until I get my new salary the first week of December. I've carried this goal over to next month. 
  1. Draft version of 2016 family calendar & vacations - I have the first half of the year figured out. Summer is a little hazier. 
  2. Finish all holiday shopping! - I have one gift left to buy.
  1. Continue to accept no more than one late night's worth of meetings/week - I've done this, and it's been *lovely*.
  2. Eat lunch away from my desk 3x/week or more - I've kept to about 2x/week.
  3. Book my workouts on my calendar, & *stick with them*!! - No, I keep booking them, but rarely stick to them. 
  1. Get together for a minimum of one social event with a friend - I spent a lot of time with a friend when I went to a soccer tournament, so I'll count this as a social event. 
  2. Volunteer at the boys school. - Not in November
  3. One date night with M - Didn't happen. We thought of doing it this past Saturday, but M wasn't feeling well, so it wouldn't have been much fun. 
  4. Plan & have a fun & special Thanksgiving/surrounding time off with the kids, despite having to work. - Yes! We had a nice, relaxing long weekend. 

And, that's it for me! How about you? How did you do with your November goals?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

December Goals

I'm a few days early, but an improvement over my normal, posting one week late plan. ;-)

We've had a great, relaxing weekend. We'll close it off this evening by a local festival of lights, which the kids are very excited about. I'm hoping to go for a run shortly (when it warms up) & put the tree up. Other than that, it should be a very mellow day - I'm hoping to read my new library book. Woohoo! :-)

Here are my goals for December! If they look familiar, that's because they are *very* similar to my November goals. (Updated to add a few things that I forgot).

  1. Complete 1000 minutes of cardio
  2. Complete 10 strength workouts
  3. Complete 4 stretching workouts
  4. Lose 2 pounds
  1. Stick to our December budget
  2. Finish our 2016 budget planning
  3. Continue working on my "40 week project!"
  4. Re-evaluate our budget by working backward from "must haves" & see what our minimum income would be. (Advice from some of you a few posts back).
  5. Get a notary signature & mail off our 529 paperwork, to remove the money from our Washington plan.
  6. Start a new Utah 529.
  1. Draft version of 2016 family calendar & vacations
  2. Finish all holiday shopping!
  3. Plan a December menu, including when we're at our vacation house
  1. Continue to accept no more than one late night's worth of meetings/week
  2. Eat lunch away from my desk 2x/week or more
  3. Book my workouts on my calendar, & *stick with them*!!
  4. Figure out backup nanny option, while my nanny is out of town. 
  1. Get together for a minimum of one social event with a friend
  2. Volunteer at the boys school.
  3. One date night with M
  4. Plan at least one fun holiday outing with the kids. Likely a drive to a neighboring town to see the lights, wearing pajamas. We always stop for hot chocolate as well.

That's it for me, how about you? Are you looking forward to December?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Getting things done - I love a long weekend

I love the opportunity to get to all of the things that I normally don't have time for! Half of the house isn't feeling great, so there's been a lot of tea, soup, and snuggling up around here. :-)

But, we still have two days left of the weekend - woohoo! Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish today:

  1. Yoga
  2. 60 minutes of cardio (a run?)
  3. Library
  4. Get out our Christmas decorations
  5. Wash all sheets
  6. Make my December goals
  7. Pick & juice all muffins (or, lemons? ;-))
  8. Figure out plan for next week
  9. Email nanny with childcare details
  10. Build a menu
  11. Help Nick with an ancestor report due on Monday (by help, I don't do the work, but I do ensure it gets done! :-) Distraction is a real problem for an 8 year old boy. ;-))
  12. Use up many, many, many bananas that I defrosted. Make banana muffins & banana chocolate chip version for kids lunches
  13. Make homemade taquitos for the freezer
  14. Finish my book! 

If I get all of that done, I will be feeling pretty great. How about you? How are you enjoying the long weekend? 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday

I did end up doing a bit of shopping, as I made a trip to Rite Aid yesterday to pick up a few gift cards & other items we needed, netting me $50 in points to spend. If I can use the points on more gift cards, I will do that & finish off my shopping.

I haven't done any shopping today, and have done the following instead:

  • Cleaned the house! Including, scrubbing the walls & baseboards, taking our bed apart so I could dust between the mattress and frame. There was *a lot* of dust in there. 
  • Used some past their due date tomatoes & fresh basil (maybe the last, as we've had frost the past few days) to whip together some tomato sauce, which we'll put in the freezer for homemade pizza topping, a basic sauce for meatballs, etc.
I'm also going to help the boys make a gingerbread house, and get to a few other activities before I take the boys to a free soccer clinic, taught by their soccer club director. Feeling great - the fridge is full of yummy leftovers, we've all had a very relaxing few days & we still have two more days! Love the long weekend.

I'm also planning on making butternut squash soup with goat cheese crostini for dinner. Yum!

Hope you are all enjoying your long weekend with your family!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Our first Thanksgiving at home, ever

It dawned on me this morning that we've never had a Thanksgiving dinner at our home with the kids before. We were in Hawaii last year (bliss!), went to a cousin's house the year before, and spent all previous Thanksgivings with my family, at a traditional family gathering.

This year is the beginning of a new tradition, and it's pretty great. I do miss seeing everyone at the family gathering, and we're tentatively planning to be in Hawaii next year for Thanksgiving, but it's nice to establish our own memories.

Neither of the kids like turkey, so we went a slightly non-traditional route for our menu. :-)

Happy hour:

  • Homemade pomegranate martinis (M's are the absolute best)
  • Pink sparkling lemonade 
  • Goat cheese crostini


  • Candied nut, feta, & pomegranate spring mix salad, with balsamic dressing (I made the candied nuts & balsamic dressing this morning & it looks great!)
  • Rotisserie chicken from Costco (yes, I know, such a gourmet ;-)). To be fair, I'm on call, and wasn't sure what my work schedule would be like. I did a bunch of stuff this morning, but could have handled roasting my own chicken. But, now we have this one. We'll slice it & heat it in the oven.
  • M's garlic mashed potatoes. YUM.
  • Green beans with almonds & parmesan
  • Homemade macaroni & cheese
  • Stuffing
  • And, pumpkin pie (from Costco)) with ice cream & whipping cream

I've never made stuffing before, so looking forward to it. It smelled really good once I got it assembled. We'll see how it tastes after I bake it.

We also did a 5K today, & I managed to run the entire thing, despite not having run much lately. Sam ran a 23:01, which is really, really fast. I was impressed & wish he could teach me a few things. ;-)

Other than that, we're going to enjoy a nice feast (and start the happy hour soon!) & then play some games with the kids. Couldn't be better! I'm grateful for my family & the fantastic & blessed life we lead.

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Frugal Things I Did to Save Money This Week

This is actually a compilation of a few weeks worth of frugal activities!
  • Received a check for $5.40 from Ebates, from online shopping. I deposited it straight into my savings account, so total savings = $5.40
  • I often sign up for American Express offers (we use the credit card for points), even if I'm not sure if I'll use them. I remember signing up for the small business promotion, but I thought it was a pretty limited set of stores, and only on one day. I used my Amex as usual at our local produce stand, where I spent $11.29 on our normal purchases (Persian cucumbers, wheat lavosh bread, two bundles of kale, a bag of potatoes for Thanksgiving, and a small bunch of radishes). I got an email from Amex that the purchase qualified for the small business promotion, and I would automatically get a $10 credit, making my weekly produce stand shop *very* cheap! The gentleman unloading apples while we were in line also gave the kids each an apple, so it was a huge win all around. :-) Total savings = $10.
  • Redeemed more United miles for $200 worth of Amazon gift cards. Total savings = $200.
  • Used another American Express offer for $15 off of a $60 Amazon purchase. Total savings = $15. 
  • Earned a $1,000 bonus at work! So, while not exactly a frugal thing I did, it was a bonus for a giant project that I delivered. I'll be using that money to offset my Christmas spending. Total savings = ~$600 (estimate after pesky taxes). :-) 

Total savings = $830.40

I need all of the extra savings I can get as we move into the holidays! I'm doing my best to be frugal, but there are lots of extra expenses this time of year. How about you? Do you track your frugal activities? Any big wins this week?