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?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Four O'Clock Stop

Every weekend day, M & I push super hard to get all of our chores complete by 4:00, and then try to take a break to have a glass of wine together. It's a great motivation to get as much done as possible by then, but quite frankly, if I've pushed myself, I'm typically exhausted by 4:00 anyway. I manage my energy levels well, and know that I'm trending down anyway right around that time. Given we don't have many formal date nights, and the kids are typically playing outside or at the library at this time, it's a perfect chance for a conversation & relaxing.

As for today, it's almost 4:00 on the west coast, and I've finished most of my to do list. I'm calling it! I took Sam to two soccer games, went for a run, went to the store, cleaned the house, cleaned/vacuumed under the bed (which required taking the bed apart), sold something on our local Facebook swap, and washed the sheets. I also did my normal pre-week planning (nanny coordination, work schedule, fitness schedule, and lining up my calendar with M's, to make sure we have everything covered).

I'll make dinner around 5:00, so plenty of time to relax & have a glass of wine. I'm making naan pizza for dinner tonight. A quick & easy pizza crust alternative. Yum!

Do you have any similar habits? Do you close down your weekend days early enough to relax a bit? It's my favorite part of the weekend, and I enjoy it so much more when I've "earned it", by finishing my work. :-) 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The end of the soccer season

Between the two boys, we have six games this weekend, so things will be very busy! Nick's season will wrap up tomorrow, but Sam will have a game the first weekend of June. It will be nice to have a break after that. :-) His club doesn't play over the summer, although both boys elected to attend a couple of soccer camps. Nick plans to try out for the ultra competitive school soccer team in middle school, so he wants to make sure he's getting in some soccer time this summer. I don't know anyone who loves playing soccer more than Nick. . . If his team has a free weekend, he'll find another team to sub for. He can't resist!

M will take Nick to his morning game today, so I can go for a run. It's been hanging over my head, and I haven't been consistently running, which is frustrating. I also have my normal set of chores to complete today. Here's what's happening:

  1. Make a menu
  2. Make a Costco list
  3. Take Nick to morning game (M)
  4. Go for a run
  5. Take Nick to afternoon game (me)
  6. Vacuum
  7. Clean the kitchen
  8. Bathrooms
  9. Declutter 30 items (this will mostly be papers, as it's the end of the school year)
  10. Go for a bike ride with Nick
  11. Collect all overdue library books
  12. Laundry (to prep all of the soccer stuff for tomorrow)
  13. Remove mattresses from beds & dust/vacuum the frames. They are super dusty.

That's it for us! What about you? What will you be up to this weekend? 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Frugal Friday

Another week, whizzing by! We've had track meet districts, end of the school activities, open house, a crazy work week. . . Here's what we've been up to this week, in terms of frugal news:

  1. Made all dinners at home, using leftovers. (We cook on weekends & then reheat during the week.) Yesterday we had a little bit of lots of things for everybody, but stayed the course vs going out. 
  2. Cancelled 3 return flights (myself + the kids) & determined that we would drive home from our summer beach trip. This allows us to save the price of a rental car (minus the gas involved in driving to & from) + the 3 one way tickets & a round trip ticket for M. The goal was to bring tools & supplies for some work we need to do on our vacation house, but after rethinking the trip, we were able to make other changes as noted here, in order to save more.
  3. Used frequent flier miles to book two round trip tickets to Hawaii. Paid outright for the other two. When we originally started pricing a week in Hawaii, the price was absolutely insane. I promised myself that we could book it if I could get the cost cut in half. . . it's taken a bunch of work & time, but I did it! 
  4. Found a penny on the ground ;-) 
  5. Didn't save me money, but I had a free hotel night that was expiring & I wasn't able to use - I offered it to a coworker, and his family will be able to use it. As a thank you, he upgraded my upcoming Tokyo flight to business class, using a free upgrade. That's a huge win for me!

What about you? Any frugal wins to report? 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Post London jetlag

I flew in yesterday, and arrived home around 3:30 (an hour earlier than expected). Hurrah! It was so nice to see the boys, and we went to the grocery store & picked up two frozen pizzas for dinner. It wasn't the cheapest or healthiest option, but it was cheaper than takeout.

My to do list for today is enormous, but we don't have soccer until late afternoon. I also want to get the house cleaning done today, given I don't feel like scrubbing toilets on Mother's Day. ;-)

Here's what I'd like to get done today:

  1. Review my work calendar
  2. Email our nanny & coordinate our schedule for next week
  3. Laundry. And, we have a ton, as I was gone & Nick brought home a giant bag of laundry from science camp.
  4. Clean the kitchen, bathrooms & vacuum
  5. Make muffins
  6. Catch up on our budget
  7. Finalize flights for my parents in August
  8. Clean & organize the paperwork & bills that have stacked up while I was gone
  9. Work out! Long distance flights are the worst for sapping your energy 
  10. Take the boys to soccer
  11. Make chicken curry
  12. Plan the menu for the week
That's it for me. What about you? I rarely get a chance to "get out" much on work trips, but this time we did eat out at a fabulous restaurant. If you like Indian food, and happen to be in London, I highly recommend this place

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Just another Sunday

First, an observation from yesterday, where I went to three youth soccer games. . . Usually most of the teams we play are pretty well intentioned. Yesterday was a crazy day, full of kids following us through the parking lot & taunting the players (some of the things were saying . . . ), flipping off adults, a fist fight broke out, parents got ejected, a coach got ejected, and. . .while Nick was playing goalie, a player intentionally tackled him. Nick was injured & got carried off, and the offending player said he wished he broke his arm. I really feel sad that parents & coaches are not doing their part to teach sportsmanship & appropriate play. Our kids don't play for "the best" soccer club, but the definitely play for a club that focuses on player development & skills  . . . not how to foul other people. If a coach hears a kid trash talking, he will immediately pull them from the game. As it should be. Parents are also only allowed to cheer on the players.

Today is one more soccer game, but it's another nearby team. So, should be minimal drama. Also, this is soccer for 11 & 12 year olds. . . Please get a grip, adults.

Vent over. :-)

I need to squeeze a ton into my day today, as I'm leaving for the airport around 5 pm for a flight to London. I'm trying to treat the flight as a "fun" event, even though we all know it's not so much. But, I lucked into a business class flight both ways, and a business class flight does have great movie options & typically nice wine & a meal. Bright side.

Here's my plan for the day:

  1. Absolutely must work out before sitting on a super long plane ride. 
  2. Yoga would also be a bonus - to stretch out
  3. Clean the house
  4. Take Nick to soccer
  5. Finish packing
  6. Help Nick finish packing for science camp
  7. Return overdue library books
  8. Mail my mom's mother's day card
  9. Help M with a meal plan
  10. Laundry. Uniforms. So. many. uniforms!
  11. Review the plan for the week with M & the kids
Any youth sports stories? How is your weekend going?