Thursday, April 12, 2018

Frugal Friday

It's that time again! Another week has whizzed by, and here's a quick look at how we did with our spending/savings/frugality.

  1. Found $30 on the ground on a walk! I was so excited. What a fun surprise.
  2. Made all dinners at home. (Lunch is free for the adults at work.)
  3. Drove the electric car for commuting all week, and charged for free at work.
  4. Took advantage of a free class at work that I've been wanting to take.
  5. No other purchases during the week. This is something that we consistently do every week, but our schedules are so crazy, we don't buy anything M-Thurs. Friday is usually included, but occasionally I slide a few errands in there, time permitting. It works well to keep spending in check.

So, a pretty quiet frugal week, but I'll take it! And, for those wondering about the peanut noodle bowl recipe I posted last week, it was great. I added diced chicken, and served with cilantro, sriracha, fresh lime squeezed on it, and peanuts on top. I thought it could be a bit spicier, but the toppings helped make it close to perfect. M, Sam & I loved it. Nick didn't try it, because he's super picky. ;-) Also, I served mine with angel hair pasta, as we didn't have soba noodles. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Menu Plan Monday

Making a weekly menu helps us reduce grocery costs, avoid food waste, and stay out of restaurants. It's not perfect, and we eat a lot of leftovers but it helps. Here's what we're eating this week:

Friday - I made chicken risotto
Saturday - we had no power, so our plans for peanut noodle bowls (with chicken) were scrapped, & we got sandwiches from the Costco food court
Sunday - Grilled burgers
Monday - Chicken peanut noodle bowls
Tuesday - leftover burgers
Wednesday - leftover chicken bowls
Thursday - eat any remaining leftovers, or spaghetti & meatballs
Friday - my parents will be visiting, so I'll make tacos, guacamole & we'll have margaritas
Saturday - M will make beef kebabs & rice
Sunday - homemade chicken curry

That's it for our plans. What about you? What's on your menu for the week ahead? 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Soccer free Sunday

It's always amazing when we have an entire day without any responsibilities! Soccer is not scheduled for today, as many schools are on spring break. (We're a couple of weeks later.) Hurrah! I definitely need the time to get things done.

We were supposed to try a new peanut butter/noodle recipe last night (I was going to add in chicken, to make a bit of chicken satay like taste), but the power was out from around 4 pm to 2 am. The power company kept reassuring us it would be back soon, but we ended up having M pick up food court items from Costco for dinner. We ate by candle light, and read books in the evening. So, we're a bit behind on standard laundry/dishes chores.

I'm still getting over a bad cold, so it will likely take me longer to get things done, but I have a lot to accomplish. Here goes:

  1. Make peanut sauce & prep ingredients (will have that recipe tomorrow, instead, due to power outage)
  2. Make muffins (time permitting)
  3. Wash all sheets & duvets
  4. Clean spare room (my parents arrive on Friday)
  5. Clean showers
  6. Clean bathrooms
  7. Clean kitchen
  8. Vacuum 
  9. Catch up on budget & paying bills
  10. Make a packing list for my upcoming trip to Las Vegas
  11. Review work schedule for next week
  12. Carpool schedule
  13. Nanny schedule
  14. Go for a slow walk in the sun (not feeling up to a run)
  15. Yoga
  16. M will grill burgers for dinner
  17. Try on a few dresses I ordered, and see if anything will work for my trip in a few weeks
  18. Work on menu plan for my parents visit
  19. Catch up on email
That's it from our side. What about you? Hope you have a relaxing & productive Sunday!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Frugal Friday

I feel like I say this every week, but, again, it's true. I wasn't expecting this week to be so challenging. But work, due to things I'm not at liberty to discuss even in vague terms here, was incredibly difficult. We survived another week, and I have a few frugal wins to report:

  1. M was out of town for 10 days (back on Monday), & while I don't get into the specifics of travel details for privacy reasons, we kept the food & dining out budget in check on all sides.
  2. I drove our electric car to all errands & work, and charged for free (work).
  3. No eating out this week! We'd actually planned a date night tonight, but I'm struggling with a cold & we scrapped our plans.
  4. Found a great gift card offer through our grocery store. Buy $50 in Home Depot gift cards, & get a $10 grocery store gift card, max of $300. I did the max, as we are in the middle of lots of house projects. I now have $60 in "free" grocery money.
  5. Found $.02 on the ground. ;-) 
I hope you had a frugal week, and are preparing yourself for the week ahead. For us, that means menu planning, meal prep, and reviewing our budget to ensure things are on track! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

April Goals

I'm looking forward to April! I have a fun mini vacation in there (girls trip to Las Vegas), and my parents will be in town for about a week. I'm hoping work will also be significantly less crazy. You'll see a few repeats on there, as many of my goals are yearly goals that carry over.


  • Keep dining out to $150 
  • Stay within budget for girls trip.
  • Make final decisions on house remodel.
  • 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.
  • File taxes/pay.

  • 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

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies
  • Lose 4 pounds
  • Run at least 8 times
  • Work from home 3 days
  • Take two classes that I need for a work opportunity


  • Make one new recipe
  • Spend time with a friend
  • Volunteer at least 1x
  • Write for at least 4 hours on personal stuff
  • Summarize my findings from completing my Dream Bio, and plan to turn at least one of those findings into action.

What about you? What are you hopping to accomplish in April?

Monday, April 2, 2018

March Goals Recap

It's time to check in & see how I did with our March goals!


  • Keep dining out to $150 - We finished the month with $130, so win!
  • Stay in budget for a long weekend I'm having with my Mom & Sister - Stayed within the budget, and kept the spending under $170. Goal was $150, so I'll call this a pass. 
  • Pay for plans on house remodel, so we can get a finalized budget & timeline, and make prioritization - We've done the first, and have a meeting for the second. 
  • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis - We've decided to invest in a rain water solution, to help with plant watering! Given California's drought, I'm loving this plan for the environmental impact, in addition to the cost savings. 
  • Earn another $400 in sidehustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage. - I made $416 on this! There was a comment a few posts back asking for more details. For my sidehustle, it's typically selling things we no longer need/want in a few ways (eBay, Facebook swap, Craigslist, etc). This was an unusually high month, as I had an old watch + a bike that Nick had outgrown. I also counted the $25 in Swagbucks that I converted into an Amazon gift card. 
  • Solve final tax issue & finalize paperwork -  handed off our final information, & just waiting for the documents to come back from the accountant. I sent a follow up email today to try & get the final forms to sign. 

  • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc - We've had a few fun evenings, particularly for my son's birthday. We made pizza & then played games together. 
  • Have a date night with my husband - Well, we made dinner & had wine together, but no evening out. It was still fabulous. 
  • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend - Haven't done much this month so need to get this going again this month.
  • Determine timing & budget for adults only vacation - We have timing sorted, and a budget in place. 

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix - Yes, and I'm definitely getting stronger!
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies - I'm at 4.9, so still working on getting to this.
  • Lose 4 pounds - Not 4 lbs, but I did lose a pound. Given how crazy March was, I'll be happy with the (extremely) slow & steady approach. 
  • Run at least 8 times - I got a couple of huge blisters on a run, so waited a bit to heal, & it's been hard to run (schedule wise) over the past week. So, I finished with 3/8. Really need to focus on this in April.
  • Work from home 1 day - Yes, I actually managed two days. 
  • Take two classes that I need for a work opportunity - Haven't started. Things have been crazy at work. 


  • Make one new recipe - Yes, I made a chicken fried rice recipe with fridge leftovers. 
  • Spend time with a friend - I had a mom/daughter weekend, so counting this. :-) 
  • Volunteer at least 1x - Signed up for a couple of things that happen in April.
  • Write for at least 4 hours on personal stuff - March was crazy, and this didn't happen
  • Summarize my findings from completing my Dream Bio, and plan to turn at least one of those findings into action. - Nope, and need to give this one more thought. 

Overall, March turned out to be significantly crazier than I expected. A long weekend with my family overlapped with a couple of big work weeks, and what I thought would be the "calmed down" work week was anything but. Also, Michael was out of town for 10 days, meaning I was juggling everything, which created some additional logistical challenges. I'm making progress in most areas, but there are some clear areas where I'm just prioritizing other things. And, that's okay. For everything, there is a season. :-)

I'm happy that I'm finally starting to see a bit of progress with the weight loss. Not necessarily on the scale, but my clothes are definitely fitting better, and I can see more muscle tone & strength training progress, so I'll gladly take that!

What about you? How did things go with your March goals? 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter, and a relaxing Sunday

One of the advantages of it being a holiday today, is that there are no activities planned. My parents will celebrate a belated Easter (egg hunt, baskets) with the kids in a few weeks when they are here, so we kept things very simple today. I got the boys a small shared basket of fun lunch snacks (chocolate covered pretzels, jelly beans, & gummy bears), & let them know that next Friday will be taking them to one of their favorite activities. So, that was easy!

Other than that, I actually plan to use the remainder of the day to get stuff done, and will take advantage of the time before the week begins anew. Here's what I'm hoping to get done today:

  1. Work on the schedule
  2. Coordinate nanny/carpool schedule
  3. Clean the bathrooms
  4. Clean the kitchen
  5. Vacuum
  6. Dust 
  7. Wash all of the sheets
  8. Make the beds
  9. Laundry
  10. Have the boys clean their rooms
  11. Go for a 5 mile run
  12. Yoga
  13. Make a casserole for next week
  14. Help Sam make cookies for a school event
  15. Sweep the patio
  16. Have the boys water the plants
  17. Sort out Sam's upcoming track schedule
  18. Call my parents
  19. Find 10 things to donate - part of my ongoing decluttering efforts
  20. Find 2 things to sell - ditto above, and part of my ongoing sidehustle work
  21. Dinner - we're having a fancy spread of bunny shaped pasta, hot dogs, salad & finishing with ice cream topped with berries. Living large! :-) 

Happy Easter to all of you out there who celebrate. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The weather has warmed up

It was 80 yesterday! We've gone from pretty chilly/rainy to warm in record time. We are getting our normal stuff done today, and hoping to use tomorrow to clean the house & have a little fun.

Here's our to do list for today:

  1. Menu plan
  2. Costco (closed tomorrow, so today is a must do)
  3. Sam's soccer game (they both played, and they won 5-3)
  4. Nick's soccer game
  5. Juice fallen oranges (our neighbor's tree) before they go bad
  6. Get in a minimum of two workouts
  7. Hand wash all dishes (of course the dishwasher is broken!)
  8. Prep a weekday dinner
  9. Water the plants
  10. Sweep the patio
  11. Laundry
  12. Have a popcorn/movie party with the boys this evening
I'm hoping the warmer temperatures will mean more opportunities to be outside in the upcoming weeks. Maybe we'll get the pool ready to go for the end of the month/spring break. Can't wait! What about you? How's the weather this weekend? Any big plans?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Frugal Friday

For whatever reason, I foolishly went into this week thinking it was going to be a lot easier than the previous two weeks. I was proven wrong. ;-) Work has been crazy, and lots of logistics/juggling going on. But, we've survived!

Here are my frugal things for the week:

  1. Sold a kids bike that was outgrown. Made $75
  2. Sold 5 books for $2. Mostly just to get them out of the house. ;-)
  3. Kept eating out to 1x, using a gift card. This was a big win, as there were multiple nights where I was tempted in this regard.
  4. We've pretty much eaten all of the fruit & veggies in the house, which is an awesome position to be in, heading into grocery shopping for tomorrow.
  5. Listed a pair of pants on eBay, and have a bid for $5. I know, all of these big sales, where I'm just racking in the money! 
  6. Avoided grocery shopping mid-week, even though we could have used a few things. I'll thank time & laziness, as I may have gone if I could have just fit it into the schedule.
  7. Contacted our power company, as they are not yet giving us credit for our solar generation. I almost missed this in the bill, but am now actively working the case. 
That's all from my side. Any frugal wins for you?

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A clean house feels great

I'm not quite there yet this weekend, but getting the house cleaned always makes me feel organized & ready to start the week. We stopped using a house cleaner after we bought our house last winter. I won't lie & say that it's been all easy peasy, but it has been a good lesson in being okay with "just good enough" and also recruiting the kids. M has plenty of his own unending chores (he's the yard guy, and the pool guy, and the mechanic), so he doesn't really do house cleaning.

I find that I can get everything done in about 3 hours (that's vacuuming, bathrooms, & the kitchen). We need to get into a better routine of taking care of things on weekdays (wiping down sinks, etc). But, I squeeze in the laundry & dishes during the work week, so pretty much that's all we can manage. Maybe another 5-10 minutes a day is reasonable, so I need to consider what else we can do in that time frame.

And with that, my list for today:

  1. Take the boys to their soccer game
  2. Yoga
  3. Some form of cardio, weather dependent. Otherwise, will do a strength training video
  4. Wash the sheets
  5. Make the beds
  6. Clean the kitchen
  7. Vacuum
  8. Have the kids dust
  9. Kids to make meal plan for the week
  10. Prep food for kids lunches/breakfasts (help them do this task)
  11. Call my parents
  12. Laundry
  13. Dishes
  14. Go to the produce stand
  15. Call the library for a shelf check
  16. Determine if I have anything else to list on eBay
  17. Make schedule for the week
  18. Workout schedule for the week
  19. Carpool schedule
  20. Make dinner. I think I'll have some of the leftover chicken fiesta skillet w/salad. The kids are planning on pasta & meatballs. 
Would love your cleaning tips. Do you do any cleaning on off days? Quick 5-10 options that make your bigger cleans easier?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Simple Saturday

I can't remember the last time we had a day with nothing going on, but regardless, I'm thrilled! Here's what's planned for today.

  1. Take the kids to the library. We have to sort some fines, and will be returning & checking out more.
  2. Go for a run
  3. Yoga
  4. Clean the kitchen
  5. Vacuum
  6. Bathrooms
  7. Buy Nick new cleats (assuming the one mysterious cleat doesn't show up)
  8. Clean the showers. Yikes. 
  9. Hopefully sell an old bike. A coworker is interested & will likely stop by today for it.
  10. Menu plan
  11. Go to Costco
  12. Produce stand
  13. The boys will be cleaning their rooms. They are utter disasters!
  14. The boys need to make their own menu plans (breakfast & lunch)
  15. We'll close the evening with a popcorn/movie night. We started watching "Wonder" last night (it's a requirement for Nick's class), but had to pause because he was pretty emotional about it. It's a great movie, but tough to watch. We may choose something a bit more light hearted for this evening. 

Are you having a crazy Saturday, or a more mellow one? We were supposed to have a soccer game in Santa Cruz, but the fields have been so rainy, it got cancelled. Hurrah for mellow weekends!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Frugal Friday

The past few weeks have been crazy, so I've greatly enjoyed my work from home day today. There weren't a lot of frugal wins, but I'll take what I can get!

  • Made muffins for M to take on an upcoming trip. And, homemade muffins are way tastier/better for you, not to mention frugal. 
  • Made my own vanilla, out of beans I found lingering in the pantry.
  • Stretched our two weekend meals (curry, & kebabs/rice) into four weekday meals. No waste, and was able to freeze one dinner's worth of curry.
  • Received $735 of a stock refund (part of my equity through work, they sell in even batches, and sometimes there is an odd amount left). Put the money straight into our "unfunded" 2018 goals - college money for the kids, and extra payment on our vacation house mortgage.
  • Drove the electric car to work each day, and charged for free.

I'm hoping for a nice & boring weekend. :-) I do need to get Nick new cleats (he lost one cleat. How?!), and plan to clean the house & just get stuff done tomorrow. Hurrah for a free weekend day! Any frugal wins on your side?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Frugal Friday - the late edition

It's been a few weeks since I've posted, so here are a few things we managed to accomplish. It's a marathon, not a sprint, right?

  • Used a combination of a companion fare (offered through our flight credit card) + miles to book four tickets for Christmas, saving $538.
  • After we had to turn around on our ski trip (pass was closed due to avalanche control), we were able to get our money back on the lift tickets ($330). This was extremely awesome news, as they are non-refundable.
  • Returned the ski pants I didn't end up needing (no skiing)
  • Sold a watch for $307 (after shipping fees)
  • Received a $20 credit for price matching flights. Will use for future travel. I haven't done this in a while & need to remember to go back & fill out the price matching weekly. The one flight I thought I could skip (because the tickets were so cheap to start with) actually yielded the $20 credit. Who knew.
  • Booked a flight for an October trip using frequent flier miles + $11 of the $20 noted above to cover the taxes. Paid $0 out of pocket. 
  • Used a Starbucks gift card to cover snacks + breakfast on my trip with my mom & sister
  • Made pizza at home for my son's birthday meal
We had a few expensive weeks in there, and pre-booked a lot of travel to take advantage of expiring deals, so it was nice to have a few wins. What about you - any frugal wins to report?