Sunday, September 23, 2018

Jet lag, menu planning & frugality

In frugal news, I spent just under $20 last week, as I was out of town. (I bought Nick a gift of special Japanese origami paper. He's obsessed with origami, and has been incredibly helpful with chores & house work & school work, so this was a gift. I don't typically buy gifts for the kids when I travel, so this was a fun surprise). M & the kids ate out one time, using a gift card. In less frugal news, we had to utilize our nanny way more than normal due to my schedule, which will be around $250 extra for the week. The boys also made $10 taking care of a neighbor's pet, so they are excited about their additional income. :-)

I slept for 13 hours last night, so I'm hoping the jet lag will be minimal this time around. I worked out & kept the eating in check in Tokyo, so I'm hoping for a small loss on the scale. Fingers crossed. I didn't do my 10 miler today (hahaha, that was a great aspiration with the jet lag), and need to have a strong running week this week. I have late nights most days this week due to performance reviews at work, so the week ahead is going to be crazy busy. I'm really, really hoping that will be my last international work trip.

As for today, I've unpacked, am on my 2nd of 4 loads of laundry, Nick is helping me clean the house, and I'm working with Sam on homework. (Not the actual homework - the process of planning & organizing for the week ahead so he can start learning more planning skills. Homework & the organization/time balance is still quite a challenge for him.) We need to make some major time investments in helping in this way. I've also bought a few books to read on the topic. Having time to support him in this way is important to us, but it's a real juggling act. I need to also set up a meeting with his school counselor, to see if she has any other tips to recommend.

And, on to menu planning. We scrambled last night, as M had the kids at two soccer games & had to run errands, and I didn't get home until mid afternoon. We ended up buying a prepared meal at Costco (ravioli), when buying groceries. We need to get organized with meals for the week.

Saturday - Costco ravioli
Sunday - kebabs & rice
Monday - leftover ravioli & a kale/shrimp dish M had
Tuesday - leftover kebabs & rice
Wednesday - a casserole from the freezer my mom made + rice
Thursday - pot stickers & fried rice (Trader Joe's, freezer)
Friday - homemade naan bread pizza

What about you? What are you having for dinner this week? Also, any tips for supporting a middle schooler on learning organization & best practices for homework? Would love any tips or insights. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Getting things done to get ahead

We had a super productive day yesterday, which allows us a bit of flexibility on our "to do list" for today. M was gone, so the kids & I did the following: I worked out, went to Costco, went to Safeway & the produce stand, took the kids to two soccer games, did returns at two separate malls (yuck, I hate shopping) & then cleaned the entire house. I challenged myself to be as productive as possible, so that we could relax a bit today. Mission accomplished!

I leave for Tokyo tomorrow, so need to wrap up a couple of things. Here's what I'm planning to do today:

  • Run 8 miles
  • Finish packing
  • Laundry
  • Make 3 dozen muffins
  • Meet M's cousin/kids for ice cream
  • Have the boys call my parents
  • Make butternut squash soup + goat cheese crostini for dinner
  • Go to the library, return all books & get new books
  • I also need to run to Rite Aid to pick up something for my stomach before my flight. It's hard to find even the most basic over the counter medicine when it's not in English ;-)

That's it on my side. I love having a productive day, and I amazingly had a ton of energy yesterday. Not sure what caused it, but I definitely took full advantage. It was supposed to be cool & cloudy, but ended up being gorgeous. Nick's team lost 0-1 in a tight match, and Sam's team won 3-1. Both games were great to watch, and Nick played goalie in Sam's game, so everyone got a chance to have a win under their belts for the weekend. 

Looking forward to doing a little bit of reading in addition to wrapping things up for the weekend. What about you? Did you have a productive Saturday? What's on the agenda for today? 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Frugal Friday

It's been a pretty regular week around here, but we do try to make consistently good decisions. So, even on a week where it feels like we've accomplished nothing, I step back & do see a few wins:

  1. Remembered to fill out a monthly work reimbursement. It's only $5/month, so feels silly, but I tie it in when I have another expense & remembered to cover the last four months. $20/back in my pocket.
  2. Received a reimbursement from the title company on our house we sold last summer. It was over $200, and something to do with a utility refund. Even though it's been a year, I'll take it!
  3. We line dried the majority of our clothing, as we normally do.
  4. I made all dinners at home. (Lunch is a mixed bag, but the kids pack lunches, and M & I eat for free at work).
  5. Filled out additional paperwork needed to get an FSA reimbursement.
  6. Finally sold an old gift card to a spa (it was the $15 leftover after I got a massage - five years ago) & sold it for about $10. 

That's it on our end. What about you? What frugal wins have you had this week?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Suck it up, buttercup

When I was growing up, that was a common phrase from my parents when I complained about doing chores - particularly yard work. I grew up out in the country, and outside chores were . . . extensive. Now days, I frequently find myself repeating "Suck it up, buttercup" to motivate myself to just get thing done. Case in point - running. I'm NOT enjoying it as I have in the past, but it's so healthy, a great challenge for me, and I did sign up for a half marathon with my sister & friend in October. At this point, it's clear I'll be walking some, but I still need to be running. I have a huge mental block associated with running, no idea what's causing it, but still - suck it up & just make it happen. That's my goal for today. A 6 mile run.

Aside from the run, which I need to get in this morning before it gets too warm, I need to clean the house. Again, because cleaning the house is so much fun, I'll be telling myself to "suck it up". ;-)

In no particular order

  1. Run 6 miles
  2. Have the boys call my parents
  3. Boys soccer
  4. Make a new recipe - chicken & dumplings. I'll report back if this is any good.
  5. Vacuum
  6. Clean bathrooms
  7. Clean kitchen (didn't get the house cleaned yesterday)
  8. Work on schedule for the week w/nanny
  9. Deal with a few work conflicts (I go through my work calendar on Sundays)
  10. Yoga
  11. Catch up on personal email
  12. Order pictures for the kids
  13. Sweep
  14. Laundry
  15. Return PE stuff that I bought the kids. We found other options online
  16. Menu plan
What about you? What do you have to "encourage" yourself to do each week? 

For efficiency, here's our menu plan for the week:

Sunday - chicken dumplings
Monday - leftover pizza (so gourmet)
Tuesday - leftover kebabs & rice
Wednesday - leftover dumplings
Thursday - clean out the fridge
Friday - M will be out of town, so the kids & I will probably have burgers from the freezer
Saturday - spaghetti & meatballs
Sunday - salads

Saturday, September 8, 2018

I need to get things done

And yet, somehow don't have much motivation today. I see where this is heading! It's one of the last sunny weekends, so am contemplating reading by the pool. . .

Anyway, here's what's on the list for today:

  1. Take Nick to soccer game
  2. Costco
  3. Produce stand
  4. Run to the mall for a return. I hate returns & hate going to the mall
  5. Laundry
  6. Work out
  7. Clean the kitchen
  8. Bathrooms
  9. Vacuum
  10. 15 minutes of meditation
Luckily for me, M is making dinner tonight. What about you? What are you hoping to get accomplished today? Are you feeling motivated, or  . . not? :-)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Menu Plan Tuesday

I'm getting a bit later start on our menu planning this week, but as always, having a menu helps me feel more relaxed & ready for the week. It also avoids meals out!

Here's the plan:
Tuesday - leftover burgers from our barbecue
Wednesday - tacos (I prepped & froze the meat on Monday)
Thursday - leftover hot dogs from our barbecue (currently in the freezer)
Friday - any remaining leftovers. If none, frozen pizza
Saturday - kebabs & rice
Sunday - curry with rice

What about you? What's on the menu plan at your house this week? 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day weekend grocery find

It's been a good weekend so far. Nick's team didn't make it to the finals of the soccer tournament, so we have today free. Hurrah! He is less excited. :-)

The boys were invited to a swimming party last night, so M & I had an impromptu date night. Today we will be heading over to another friend's party. I'm planning to bring pound cake & a nectarine/basil/mozzarella salad that's always a crowd pleaser.

I had some errands to run, so we headed out today to pick up hot dogs on sale at the local grocery store. We ended up stumbling on clearanced bags of pasta. 3lb bags, for $.57 each. So excited! Pasta is Nick's favorite meal, so we bought 12 bags. I may go back tomorrow to see if there are any left. What a bargain!

We also took advantage of a few Rite Aid deals, and spent all of our points. M & I both needed new razors blades, which are pricey. I earned $14 in additional rewards for a future purchase.

We also pressure washed the garage (it was covered in dust after the air conditioning installation). I love a productive 3 day weekend! What about you? How did you spend your weekend? 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

September goals

September is one of my favorite months - I like the transition between fall & summer, & the return of a routine. Our kids go back to school in August, so by the time September rolls around, much of the craziness of getting back in the swing of things has passed.

I'll need to get pretty focused in September, as I have a business trip and also need to get ready for my half marathon! It's now or never time. :-)


  • Stay on track with our food budget, including both eating out & groceries. 
  • 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.
  • Continue working on our 2019 budget, 2019 vacation plans, & income projections - this is critical as I try to narrow down work options. Decide on 2019 remodeling plans (if any)

  • 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
  • Take the kids to Great America before the passes expire. This is a maybe, based on soccer schedules & other commitments. 

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies
  • Lose 3 pounds
  • Run 12 times, complete 1/2 marathon training plan
  • Avoid dairy, as part of my efforts to solve my stomach issues
  • Work from home 2 days
  • Work on my my "homework" from my coach


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

Any big goals for September? Put it out there so we can cheer you on! :-) 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

August goals check in

I can honestly say that August went by in a flash. I can't believe the kids are back to school, & the last month of summer is done! Let's see how we did on our goals.


  • Stay on track with our food budget, including both eating out & groceries. We will have guests for a few days, which may push the spending a bit higher than normal, so this will require some planning & effort. - We were under for groceries, but over for dining out. I also bought two gift cards on discount that we haven't used, but applied them to our August budget. I also took my mom to lunch as a thank you for deep cleaning the house when she was here.
  • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis - I can't think of anything special that I did this month
  • Earn another $200 in sidehustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage. - Yes! We made $265 this month.
  • Rough out our 2019 budget, 2019 vacation plans, & income projections - this is critical as I try to narrow down work options - We've made some progress here, but need to keep refining our numbers. 

  • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc - We spent a lot of time together when my parents were here, and enjoyed a few pool parties. 
  • Have a date night with my husband - No, & I miss this! Hoping we can find time in September. 
  • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend - Nothing has come up this month. 
  • Take the kids to Great America before the passes expire - Both the boys have now been 1x, although they went with friends. M was going to take the boys last weekend, but Nick wasn't feeling well.  

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix - I was pretty focused on my relay, & have been having some health issues, so only completed 10 days. 
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies - my stomach issues have made this quite a challenge. Definite fail. I'm averaging around 3/day. 
  • Lose 3 pounds - Yes. I do think I've lost a bit of muscle tone, but I'm also suffering from some stomach issues that are making eating unpleasant. I have a bunch of appointments to try & figure it out, so fingers crossed. Although, the weight loss is at least one positive result. ;-) 
  • Run 12 times, complete 1/2 marathon training plan - I was pretty focused on my relay, & have been having some health issues, so only ran 1x. 
  • Complete 4 pace walks for my relay. - Yes!
  • Successfully complete my relay - Yes!
  • Work from home 2 days - Yes. I don't think I'll have any WFH days in September, which makes me sad. They really help my energy level & overall productivity. 
  • Work on my my "homework" from my coach - Yes, it's been eye opening & fun/challenging. 
  • Start working on options for a revised, part-time role. Investigate options, reach out to my network - I'm passing on this right now. Work is absolutely insane, and my goal is to get through to my sabbatical. I can't focus on anything else right now. Putting this on pause for the time being. 


  • Make one new recipe - Nope. 
  • Spend time with a friend - Spent two days in a van & then celebrating, so counting it!
  • Volunteer at least 1x - Nope. Really need to find something that works for my schedule. 
  • Again - Order the book "Now What" from the library & complete it - Ahem. still need to do this. 

As you can see, it was quite a mixed bag this month. I really need to solve my stomach issues (I'm thinking it's a dairy allergy combined with something else?), and I got a round of blood work back that shows my anemia is in full force, so need to get that addressed as well. My goal is to get through to the end of the year, and take my sabbatical!! Woohoo! More to come on goals for September. 

What about you? How did you do with your August goals? 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Frugal Friday

It's Friday, & I'm back! I spent last weekend doing a relay with my family & had a fabulous time. It's both an athletic endurance event, as well as an opportunity to laugh & bond in a van for two days together. I love the challenge & the time to connect.

But anytime I'm gone over the weekend, it interferes with my planning & efficiency for the weekend. I got back late on Sunday, so I'm still busy catching up. I've felt behind all week.

Here are a few frugal things for the week:

  • We made all dinners at home. This was trickier than usual, as I wasn't home over the weekend to meal prep
  • M & the boys picked me up from the airport (vs an Uber) on Sunday evening, saving about $25
  • I finally sold our old train table for $40 on a Facebook group. It has been posted for weeks, so it's great to see it go.
  • I have to take one last business trip, but was able to find a business class flight on an airline that matches miles for our preferred domestic airline. So, at least there will be a small win in that. 
  • Kept expenses for my relay really low on the food side. My mom insisted on paying for almost everything, as a thank you for our gifting them our old car. I also brought home a few leftover snacks for the boys
  • I paid our car registration via a rewards credit card vs sending in a check. Saved the cost of a stamp + we will accrue miles on our card. 
That's it on our side. Any frugal wins for you?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Frugal Friday

My parents were in town this week, so it was a unique schedule. Combining that with the first week of school meant a lot of chaos! :-) We did save money in a few ways:

  • I continued to price check our flights, and ended up saving $62 on our flights to Hawaii in November. The money gets added to our Alaska Airlines account, which means it can be used for future travel.
  • I called to drop our car off of our insurance (we gifted one of our cars to my parents, and my dad drove it back with him). The cost of our insurance was still crazy high, so I filled out an updated mileage form, and also noticed they had the wrong drivers assigned to each car. (This matters as I have a slightly better driving record than my husband). After the adjustments, we saved over $800 all told on our car insurance.
  • Between myself & my parents, made all dinners at home. (My parents took the kids to In & Out one day.) 
  • Repurposed most of our school supplies from last year, and have a small list of things that we need to purchase.
  • Filled out a matching gift for our school donations. This doesn't save me any money, but doubles the impact of our donation.
How about you? Any frugal wins for the week? 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Frugal Friday/Saturday

I survived a truly terrible week at work. Can't get into the details for legal reasons, but it was awful. But, it's done & I do expect next week to be a moderate improvement. Here are some of the frugal things we did last week:

  1. No meals out, with one exception. I did buy myself lunch at Starbucks yesterday (using a gift card). I was tempted to order delivery last night, but made myself an egg & called it a day. ;)
  2. Drove electric car all week, with free charging at work.
  3. Sam had oral surgery yesterday, and is still quite swollen. He asked to go to the fancy ice cream shop last night. Rather than doing that, we swung by the store & picked up ice cream, for 1/2 the price. Plus, he'll have more ice cream for today.
  4. Carpooled with another mom to summer camp & soccer practice all week, saving time & money.
  5. We picked M up at the airport last Sunday, vs having him take an Uber.
That's all I can drum up. I'm exhausted from the week, but did have yesterday off to take care of Sam. I did end up helping a coworker here & there, but otherwise, read a book while Sam napped, & then figured out soft food options he could eat. He's so sweet when he's tired. I miss the little boy Sam, now that he's almost 13. :-) 

As for the weekend ahead, here's what's on the agenda:

  1. We have a soccer game today, and one tomorrow
  2. I need to go to Costco & the produce stand
  3. We'll be cleaning the entire house, deeper than usual. My family is arriving on Sunday.
  4. I need to work out, 2x.
  5. We need to get the pool in shape, as everyone will be swimming next week.
  6. I want to continue my meditation. I LOVE it. The meditation is really the only thing that kept me going last week, during all of the crazy. I'm using a guided meditation app (HeadSpace) & can't recommend it enough - especially if you've never tried meditation before.
  7. I need to return a couple of purchases that didn't work out.
  8. Prep the air mattress & wash sheets we ordered.
  9. Menu plan
  10. Figure out schedule for next week
  11. Get the kids to do a practice bike ride to middle school
  12. Check the school supplies to see what we need
And, for the menu plan, here's what I have in mind:

Saturday - Spaghetti & meatballs
Sunday - Naan pizzas
Monday - my parents are cooking. Lasagna. Yum!
Tuesday - my parents are cooking again. Chicken enchiladas!
Wednesday - Leftover lasagna
Thursday - Leftover enchiladas
Friday - We will likely due delivery and/or take my mom out as a thank you for cooking, helping with the kids, and she always insists on deep cleaning the house. She is a gift!

That's it for us. What about you? What are you up to this weekend?

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Menu plan Sunday

It's been a nice weekend. Yesterday we had friends over for lunch & to swim. The kids swam, the moms caught up. It was lovely. We did chores, & then had dinner delivered. A real luxury, but, even with a discount & free delivery, I thought it was really overpriced. Trader Joes does a nice splurge frozen dinner option, with samosas, spring rolls, etc. Next time, we'll just do that.

Today we ran errands (Costco, the product stand, Target & the library) & I'll finish getting everything sorted for the week ahead. I'm enjoying one of the last weekends before soccer season begins again. :-)

One of my chores is the menu plan for the week, so here's what we're planning:

  • Friday - we had tacos
  • Saturday - delivery 
  • Sunday -I'll combine the delivery with a few Trader Joes options to stretch it out
  • Monday - leftover tacos
  • Tuesday - spaghetti & meatballs with homemade tomato sauce
  • Wednesday - mushroom ravioli + caprese 
  • Thursday - leftover spaghetti & meatballs
  • Friday - clean out the fridge, or homemade naan pizzas
I might try to make cookies with elderly bananas today. I've already made muffins, so I'm hoping to try something new. I'll report back if I find any tasty recipes. What about you? What are you serving this week?