Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Menu planning

The kids are finally back from sleepaway camp on Friday, and we will return to our regular schedule. I can't wait! We've missed them so much, and have enjoyed seeing photos up on the camp web site. Today I'm headed off to a one day/overnight work event, and then will be back tomorrow evening. I need to make a Costco list, so we can restock the fridge after two weeks of not really grocery shopping. The fridge is basically bare.

I thought I should also make a menu for the week ahead, so here's what I'm thinking:

  • Friday - homemade naan pizzas
  • Saturday - kebabs & rice
  • Sunday -  hot dogs, corn & watermelon. No idea how, but we have something like 6 packages of hot dogs in the freezer ;-) 
  • Monday - leftover pizza
  • Tuesday - leftover kebabs & rice
  • Wednesday - leftover hot dogs
  • Thursday - any remaining leftovers, or spaghetti & meatballs
  • Friday - tacos
That's it for us. I'll be back with a summer (to date) recap soon, and a check in on yearly goals, budget, etc. How is your summer going? Any fun summer recipes to recommend? 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The very long road home

We drove from the Oregon coast back to San Francisco on Thursday, and the drive was made quite a bit longer than expected by a wildfire that shut down the major interstate (I-5), as well as many of the alternative routes. We were planning to be home by 10 pm, but got home instead at 3:00 am. :-( The fire looked terrible, so sending good thoughts for all of those impacted, & the firefighters on the front lines.

I struggled to be productive yesterday, after our late arrival. I had to be up early for a work call on Friday, and then went to the grocery store, as the fridge had absolutely no perishables. Just a few leftover condiments. After a trip to the grocery store, I worked & tried to catch up on three weeks of email. I'm not there yet, shall we say. I also caught up on laundry, & packed the kids for summer camp. We all went to bed early & are feeling much better today.

I am not a fan of coming home to a messy house, so there's quite a bit of work to do today to set everything to rights again. Here's what's on the list for today:

  1. Go for a run
  2. Yoga or pilates
  3. Return library books
  4. Take the kids to Target. They were incredible on the road trip, and I promised that they could use some of their money at Target if they behaved. They definitely exceeded our expectations, especially when the drive took a few crazy turns.
  5. Clean all bathrooms
  6. Vacuum/mop the house
  7. Sweep the patio - it will probably take 3-4 runs through. We need to deal with a neighbor tree situation at some point. 
  8. Clean the kitchen
  9. Catch up on our budget
  10. Find a good half marathon training plan. I'm not in love with any of the ones I've seen so far.
That's about it for me. What about you? How are you planning to spend your Saturday? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A few frugal things

We've been on vacation for several weeks, so there's often not much frugal to report. But, we have had a few wins.

  • We our rebuilding our own deck, vs paying $12k for someone else to do it. Our vacation house is on the coast (a few blocks off of the ocean) & there is more maintenance required than on an inland property. There is still cost associated with doing it on our own (we drove a car here to bring supplies, have to buy all of the materials/a few tools we didn't previously own, etc), but the savings should be around $10K. 
  • I used our Home Depot gift cards I bought with a special offer (I received $90 in Starbucks gift cards for buying $300 in Home Depot gift cards at the grocery store a month or so back) to pay for some of the deck supplies.
  • I used a Starbucks gift card (see above) to treat my sister/friend a few times on our girls trip. 
  • I bought the boys new shoes at the Nike outlet in Oregon. Our kids have three pair of shoes at any given time: running shoes, slides/flip flops, & soccer cleats. The running shoes wear out quickly. We bought 3 pair for each, in additional sizes. This is how we've handled shoe purchases in prior years, and it's worked out well. By making the purchase in Oregon, we also avoided sales tax, which was a nice additional bonus.
  • I've made use of fridge leftovers from our girls trip (we had nachos) & turned most ingredients into two dinners of tacos. 
  • Other than our water park adventure with the kids, most activities have been inexpensive or free. It's hard to find time to do much else anyway with the deck project! Oh, and we've been watching lots of World Cup soccer!

That's about it from my side. We'll drive home on Thursday - our first time tackling a drive of that distance with the kids. Fingers crossed! What about you? Have you had any frugal wins lately? 

Monday, July 2, 2018

July Goals

Happy July, everyone! We are at our vacation house on the Oregon coast, and will drive back on Thursday. We've never driven it, but needed our car for various house projects this time. Wish us luck on the drive with the kids. :-) We expect it to take ~14 hours. Fingers crossed.

Here are my goals for July:


  • Keep dining out to $150   $300
  • Devote an extra $150 of our grocery budget to dining out, as the kids will be out of town, and we are much more likely to have a few extra date nights. 
  • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis
  • Earn another $200 in sidehustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage.
  • Stay on budget for our adult weekend

  • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc
  • Have a date night with my husband
  • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend
  • Survive road trip with the kids, on the way home from our vacation

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies
  • Lose 3 pounds
  • Start training plan for half marathon, and run at least 8 times
  • Complete 4 pace walks for my relay. A friend had to drop out last minute, as she's taking her daughter to college, so I'm adding an extra leg & need to be really well trained. 
  • Work from home 2 days
  • Fill one of my open roles
  • Set a new end date, and have "the" conversation with my manager :-) 


  • Make one new recipe
  • Spend time with a friend
  • Volunteer at least 1x
  • Order the book "Now What" from the library & complete it

That's it for us! What are you hoping to accomplish in July? 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

June Goals Recap

June was a wild month. The kids were out of town for the entire second half of the month, as was I. I had a training retreat, and we're currently on vacation at the Oregon coast. It's been fabulous! Not as relaxing as usual, as we are rebuilding our deck. :-)

Here's how I did on my June goals:


  • Keep dining out to $150 - Yes, we were at $104. Keep in mind that there was other eating out, but mostly captured in the "travel" budget. I need to do a recap of our yearly budget categories, as we are way over on some!
  • Create detailed June food plan, given crazy schedule. - We did this. I stayed within $7 of my food budget, and we would have been under, but we treated our deck helpers (my dad & uncle) to crab cakes. Fresh crab is amazing, but pricey!
  • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis - I didn't really come up with anything. 
  • Earn another $100 in sidehustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage. - I couldn't list things on eBay this month, as I was in & out too much. But, we made $40 selling some old trading cards the boys had stopped playing with. 

  • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc - We've had lots of family time together on vacation. 
  • Have a date night with my husband - Yes! We went to dinner one night while the kids were with my parents. 
  • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend - Yes, we came up with multiple good options on our girls trip. 
  • Plan road trip for after the 4th of July. - It's going to be a long drive, but I'm mostly prepped!
  • Decide on long weekend with M in July - We are going to Las Vegas in July, when the boys are in summer camp. Hence blowing our vacation budget. ;-) 

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix - I did 16 of 21 days, which I'm happy with, given my travel schedule. 
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies - I finished with 3.5, which is lower than usual. I had a few days where I ate almost none, particularly when I was recovering from the flu. Only basic carbs. 
  • Lose 3 pounds - I lost 1.5 pounds - I'll take it!
  • Run at least 8 times - I ran 6 times. 
  • Go on 4 bike rides (I'm doing a family biking event in June) - no, but I did finish the biking event successfully! :-) 
  • Work from home 3 days - Yes
  • Prep & attend work training trip - Yes


  • Make one new recipe - Yes, I made a General Tso's crockpot chicken. It needs some doctoring for our next round. 
  • Spend time with a friend - Yes! We had a fabulous girls weekend. 
  • Volunteer at least 1x - Yes, I volunteered 2x at school 
  • Finish voting research & mail my ballot! - Yes, I definitely spent more time than usual & got it mailed in time. 

All in all, I'm pleased with what I accomplished, given the month of craziness. What about you? Did you set any goals for the month? How did you do?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Frugal Friday

I started off the week with a mild case of the flu, but I'm back in action & ready to go. Which, is great news, considering we're flying to Portland this weekend!

Here's what we accomplished this week, in the world of frugality

  • Made all meals at home. Wasn't feeling well on Sunday, but rallied enough to throw a few things in the crockpot. The boys ate while I slept. 
  • Saved $56 on two flights by using Alaska's price matching
  • Made two extra (small) payments on our vacation house mortgage. In 2018, I started tracking "unexpected/unplanned for" money. This includes things like rebates, gifts, side hustles, etc. All of that money goes straight towards one of our unfunded 2018 goals - primarily extra pay down on our vacation mortgage, and the boys college accounts. It's really motivating to see the money roll in. So far, I'm around $6000 in "found" money for the year! 
  • I will pack dinner for myself for the airport today. The kids always like getting a slice of pizza for the flight, so they'll eat pizza. 
That's it for us. It was a pretty typical week. What about you? Any big (or small) frugal wins? 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Let's get things done today

I'm so happy to have a weekend in between my business trip & our personal trip to Portland next weekend. School is out, and camp begins next week. The boys will do one week of camp, and then be gone for three weeks. They are very excited to see my parents. :-)

We have no soccer this weekend! Hurrah! We have plenty to do, and because we have no soccer commitments, I agreed that Sam could have a couple of friends over today. Originally the plan was to have them swim, but the weather doesn't look like it will cooperate. I'm sure they will find other things to do instead.

Here's what we plan to accomplish today:

  1. Menu plan
  2. Make a grocery list
  3. Costco
  4. Produce stand/Trader Joes (same complex)
  5. Clean the bathrooms
  6. Vacuum
  7. Mop
  8. Clean the kitchen
  9. Go for a run
  10. Bike ride with the kids (training for our event next weekend)
  11. List another couple of items on our neighborhood swap
  12. Work on our packing list for next week+

And, with that, I think I'll just check off #1. 

  • Friday - we went out to celebrate the last day of school. We had Greek food. Yum!
  • Saturday - M is making kebabs & rice
  • Sunday - I'm trying a new recipe - General Tso's chicken in the slow cooker. Will report back
  • Monday - leftover kebabs & rice
  • Tuesday - leftover General Tso's chicken & rice
  • Wednesday - finish up any remaining leftovers
  • Thursday - assuming we still have rice, I have chicken curry in the freezer that I'll defrost & serve with the remaining rice
  • Friday - we'll be eating at the airport before our flight
What about you? What are you hoping to do today?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Frugal Friday

And, the end is school is here! This week was complete with lots of crazy, but we still had a few frugal wins.

  • Dried bulky items outside in the beautiful sunshine. One of our post school & soccer tasks is to empty & wash all bags, and put them away for the following school year/soccer season.
  • Used a freebie hotel offer for a getaway weekend when the boys are at summer camp. So excited to have a weekend away with M!
  • Booked the flights for above weekend by first going through ebates to & buying Southwest gift cards. All told, I saved about $18 off a $450 purchase. So, maybe one drink in Las Vegas? ;-) 
  • Despite the crazy schedule, made dinner & leftovers into new dinners.
  • Submitted my Tokyo expenses promptly, so I can get paid for my out of pocket costs. 
  • Found $10 in a pair of jeans I was getting ready to donate to the Goodwill.
  • And, my biggest win of the week. Yesterday I went to the local grocery store to get a gift card for a birthday party Nick is attending. I noticed that Home Depot gift cards came with a Starbucks bonus card. So, I bought a $300 Home Depot gift card & earned a $90 Starbucks gift card. What a deal! So excited. 
That's it from our end. What about you? Have you had any frugal wins this week?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

June goals

June is going to be a different month, schedule wise. I'm dropping the boys off in Portland (and, attending my best friend's daughter's graduation) & then flying back for a work training. Once that wraps up, I'll be on vacation for two weeks! It's the longest I've ever taken off from work since I started this job, & I'm thrilled. I've managed to squeeze in: a girls trip, taking the boys/my nephews to an indoor water park to celebrate various milestones, a trip to the beach with my mom + the boys, time at the beach with my crew, and finally everyone will descend upon the beach for the 4th of July. Super excited, although it will be admittedly crazy.

I'm going to put together a menu plan for June that reduces food costs, given we'll be in & out quite a bit.


  • Keep dining out to $150 
  • Create detailed June food plan, given crazy schedule. 
  • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis
  • Earn another $100 in sidehustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage.

  • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc
  • Have a date night with my husband
  • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend
  • Plan road trip for after the 4th of July. 
  • Decide on long weekend with M in July

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies
  • Lose 3 pounds
  • Run at least 8 times
  • Go on 4 bike rides (I'm doing a family biking event in June) 
  • Work from home 3 days
  • Prep & attend work training trip


  • Make one new recipe
  • Spend time with a friend
  • Volunteer at least 1x
  • Finish voting research & mail my ballot!

I'm excited for June, and all of the various activities. What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in June?

Monday, June 4, 2018

May goals recap

Let's look back & see how I did on my May goals. Hint: not as well as I would have liked, with two weeks of the month spent on international business trips, and then feeling a lot of jet lag between the trips. I'm hoping June will be much stronger, although I'll be away from home for nearly 3 weeks. But, for vacation + work training, so still a derailment of my normal schedule. Here's how things went in May.

Onward to all of my goals for June!


  • Keep dining out to $150  - This was a major fail, as we spent just under $450. $75 of that was to refill a Starbucks card (earned a reward) for our road trip in July. But, the rest was a crazy expensive date night + M taking the boys out a couple while I was traveling. We need to keep this way in check in June. 
  • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis - We are planning to cancel our Amazon prime membership, and I called to reduce our car insurance & home insurance by making a few small tweaks. 
  • Earn another $100 in sidehustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage. - I made $26 in May. I have two things to sell, but because of my travel schedule, didn't have time to get them listed on eBay. (Was afraid they would sell & I'd need to mail them while I was traveling. 

  • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc  - We had a family evening making dinner & watching a movie. 
  • Have a date night with my husband - Yes, we had a great time. It was too expensive, but we enjoyed ourselves. Will look for cheaper alternatives next time. 
  • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend - I accomplished nothing on this one. 
  • Finalize June trips for myself & M. This was previously complete, but a change of plans means I'm back to evaluating our options & rebooking.  - Done. 
  • Decide on Thanksgiving plans (if any). - Done. 

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix - I finished 17/21 days. I'm actually okay with this, as I didn't have my DVDs/equipment when I was traveling, & did several doubled up days to hit this number. 
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies - No, I was at 3.87. Traveling really hurts this one for me. 
  • Lose 3 pounds - I lost 1/2 of one pound. 
  • Run at least 8 times - I ran 2x. 
  • Go on 4 bike rides (I'm doing a family biking event in June)  - I went on 1 bike ride. 
  • Work from home 3 days - Yes. 
  • Take two classes that I need for a work opportunity - Have decided to pass on the opportunity right now, as ironically, it requires me to give up my work from home day, and I'm unwilling to do that at the moment. 


  • Make one new recipe - nope. Not a lot of cooking time in May. 
  • Spend time with a friend - had lunch with a friend. 
  • Volunteer at least 1x - no, but have it on the schedule for this week!
  • Read a goal book ("Wishcraft".) Hoping to get some clarity on what I want to do when I'm done working at this job. - Nope. 

What about you? How did you do with your goals for May? Any big wins? 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Struggling through jet lag

I went to sleep early last night (8 pm), but was up from 11-2. I finally fell back asleep for a few hours, but it was a very unrestful night. Here's hoping I get back on track quickly this week.

I spent most of yesterday outside (final soccer game, end of the season soccer party, & then hanging out by the pool with my boys). Sunshine is supposed to help with the jet lag, so fingers crossed on that front.

I managed to do most of the errands yesterday, so now I'm left with chores for today. So much to do, as usual. Particularly because I missed all of last weekend. Here's what I need to accomplish today:

  1. Get Nick ready for pick up at 10 am. He's going to a water park with a friend, & I need to help him get everything packed & ready to go.
  2. Brown the rest of the ground beef I defrosted yesterday, and make it into taco meat.
  3. Help Sam with his final phase of homework/print outs for school.
  4. Laundry
  5. Wash all of the sheets/make the beds
  6. Clean the bathrooms
  7. Clean the kitchen
  8. Vacuum the house
  9. Clean the shower, which I'll call out as a separate project, as it's a bit of a disaster. Our bathroom has no fan (?!), so the air doesn't circulate & it can get icky quickly.
  10. Update my work schedule for the week, because it's the last week of school & I have a bunch of schedule changes
  11. Coordinate schedule with our nanny
  12. Get a workout schedule together for the week
  13. Have the boys call my parents
  14. Work out. Preferably 2x, but that may be wishful thinking.
  15. Make guacamole
  16. Prep dinner for tonight.
Fingers crossed that I can get it together & get everything done today! What about you? What's on your agenda for the day?

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Menu planning & other chores

I'm back from my trip to Tokyo, and very jet lagged! Between the trip there, and the trip home, I typically miss about 12-16 hours of sleep on the trip. The missing sleep combined with difficulty falling back to sleep on a normal schedule makes it really challenging to get back into the groove. However, I do find that getting some fresh air & a little sunshine can help a bit. I sat outside by the pool yesterday and read my book for a few minutes. Not sure I understood much of what was on the page, but it was nice to be out.

As for today, we have the boys last soccer game (hurrah!) followed by the end of the season party. Tomorrow Nick is going to an amusement park with a friend, and I need to scrub the house from top to bottom. Doesn't that sound fun? ;-) I clean the house on weekends, and we missed last weekend, so you can imagine how great it looks.

I did inventory the fridge & freezer this morning, so I could make our shopping list & menu. Here's the plan for the week:

Friday - I heated up leftover pizza I found in the fridge. It was super gourmet dining . ;-)
Saturday - ground beef tacos w/guacamole. I'll prep a bunch of meat & freeze the leftovers
Sunday - one pan chicken fajita rice w/guacamole. One of our favorites.
Monday - leftover tacos & guacamole
Tuesday - spaghetti & meatballs
Wednesday - leftover chicken fajita rice
Thursday - eat any remaining leftovers, or I'll make chicken patty burgers
Friday - oven baked chicken risotto

That's the plan for the week ahead! What about for you? What's cooking this week? Any good recipes to share? 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Frugal Friday

There were a few frugal activities this week. I will confess that we did eat out once, although used a gift card. It was a LONG week, & I leave for Tokyo tomorrow morning, so wanted a little time with the family.

Here are some frugal things we got up to:

  • Used a $2 credit at Rite Aid, plus a 30% coupon I happened to notice. Picked up a few toiletries we needed.
  • Also while at Rite Aid, discovered protein powder for 75% off. Protein powder has been on my shopping list for a while now (we use in smoothies for the kids, and in protein balls, etc) & this price saved approximately $12 for the same unit volume.
  • Sold a gift card (free with another purchase) on for $20 & changes. I'll apply this to my sidehustle
  • A few of our standard groceries were on sale at Costco (lettuce & pineapple), saving an extra $2 off the bill
  • Rather than buying three avocados for guacamole, our produce stand had a bag of approximate same weight for 1/2 the price. 2lbs of avocados for $1.49. We shall see if the smaller ones are any good!
  • Bought Uber gift cards at a local grocery store, and earned $60 in grocery store gift cards. I use Uber for work trips to/from the airport, so the $60 is free to me. 
  • Sold a $5 item we no longer needed on our local Facebook swap. Decluttered something & made money!
  • Combed through our car insurance again (we'll be shopping around once we give a car to my parents this summer) & was able to get the policy down by another $86/year by closely reviewing it. 
  • Someone at work was selling a $25 Alaska Air (our preferred airline for personal travel) gift card for $20, so I bought that & added it to my Alaska account, where it can be used for a future flight. 
What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?