Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat

Thanks to Carla for hosting!
One of my favorite baby pictures of my oldest son, S. :-) Love those chubby cheeks & fat arms. . . especially because that, at 6, S is crazy skinny. Ahhh, baby fat! Miss it.
What are you…
Yikes. Nothing, really. LinkedIn, I guess? Reading millions of job postings?
We watched part of Goldeneye last night, & will likely watch the rest tonight?
Listening to?
The kids are watching Megamind, so that's what's on in the background.
I made chocolate chip cookies & plum muffins yesterday, & made an extra chicken marsala casserole for the week. I also made chicken, pesto, & fresh mozzarella pizza last night. Yum!
Happy you accomplished this week?
6 loads of laundry today, lots of cooking/baking (above), worked out at the gym yesterday, & did a 4.5 mile run today, & lots of work/work. I hate when work creeps into the weekend. Ick. :-(
Looking forward to next week?
Looking forward to getting in more runs, and an opportunity to enjoy more nice weather - the forecast looks pretty good this week.
Thankful for today?
My fabulous kids. They never fail to make me laugh.
What is the grossest thing you've ever eaten?
Sea urchin?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

For a limited time, pictures!

Wow! Things are flying by this month. I can't believe we're almost to October.

My sister & I took my mom to Las Vegas for her 60th birthday last Thursday & got home on Sunday. It was a fabulous trip & I came in roughly at my budget. I say "roughly", because we actually spent more than I had hoped, but I won a little money, which offset the other overage. We did all kinds of fabulous things like hung out at a cabana at the pool, ate amazing dinners, drank a lot of champagne, & saw Garth Brooks. I'm *not* a country music fan, but grew up in a small town & country music was king growing up there. It reminds me of my childhood, & Garth had a big CD released during my senior year in high school - just when my family purchased our first CD player. We all have great memories of some of his big songs. And honestly? He's an AMAZING performer live. The show was ridiculously expensive, but we got free second row tickets, so who could resist? :-)

Here's a picture of Garth's setup - yep, just a stool & a guitar. Picture taken from our seats.

Other financial things this week? I sold a pair of designer shoes I purchased a few years back, but never wore because they hurt my foot. They were gorgeous Christian Louboutins, & were appropriate for my old job (in fashion). They were a waste with my current job & just taking up space in my closet. I sold them on Ebay for $450, which was far more than expected. Yeah!!

I'm also accelerating my job search, as work has reached the point where the stress is affecting my mental & physical health. Time for a change.

It's almost Friday!! Yeah for Fridays. :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What to do with Italian plums

Yesterday, an elderly neighbor asked me to pick as much fruit off of her plum tree as I possibly could. She doesn't like the mess or waste of the fruit on the ground, & is physically struggling to pick this year. This is a crazy busy week for me, but she was so sweet & reminded me of my grandmother, who just passed away at the end of August. Plus, who doesn't love free fruit?!

I was only able to collect fruit for ten minutes before soccer practice, & I already have a ton of fruit. The neighbor came outside & begged me to return & pick more. . . so, what should I do with all of these fabulous plums? I made a plum freezer jam, and then froze everything else. I'd like to pick more tomorrow. . .

If the freezer jam is any good, I'll post the link & make additional batches. But, any suggestions or tried & true Italian plum recipes? Help! There is an awful fruit fly epidemic in Washington, so I need to get them picked & processed quickly.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A day in the life

I love when other people post this kind of stuff, so I thought I would do the same.

Here's a sample day in my house:

  • 5:00 am - stumble out of bed & look for my running stuff, most of which I set out the night before.
  • 5:10 - 6:00 am - run 4+ miles.
  • 6-6:15 - shower & make coffee
  • 6:15-7:00 - make breakfast, reply to a few emails for my peer team in Europe
  • 7:00-7:30 - get ready for work
  • 7:30- 7:35- corral the kids into backpacks, jackets & shoes
  • 7:40 - bus comes
  • 7:45 - 8:00 - commute to work
  • 8-4 - work. All kinds of fun stuff, but mostly meetings, emails, calls, etc.
  • 4-4:15 - commute
  • 4:15 - pick up kids
  • 4:30 -4:45 - arrive home, unpack car, unload dishwasher, fold a load of laundry, gather soccer practice gear
  • 4:45-5:00 - drive to soccer
  • 5-6 - soccer practice. My youngest is in kindergarten, so I read email & fool around on my phone since I need to stay at the park.
  • 6-6:15 - drive home
  • 6:15 - 6:45 - dinner, assuming M has been home to prep it for us.
  • 6:45-7:15 - homework & bath time
  • 7:15-8:00 - general household stuff: packing lunches, dishes, laundry, prepping any meal stuff for the next day, getting my running stuff out, & any kids paperwork that needs to be returned.
  • 8-8:15 - story time
  • 8:15-9:15 - my time. :-) I usually end up having to respond to work emails, I may watch a tv show, & sometimes I hit the gym if I couldn't run in the morning.
  • 9:30 - in bed!
What about you? What fills your day? How do you squeeze everything in?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

It's a bit of an unusual week, so best to get the meals planned out in advance!

  • Monday - Going to try Fettuccine with Chicken and Broccoli
  • Tuesday (home late due to soccer practice) - leftover Fiesta Chicken Casserole. (I make this with mango salsa, & it's amazing. Serve with Greek yogurt & a little salsa on the side.)
  • Wednesday (again, home late due to soccer practice :-)) - leftover fettuccine
  • Thursday - I'm heading to Las Vegas for my mom's 60th birthday. My sister & I are treating her to a big blowout bash!
  • Friday - In Las Vegas. Eating at my favorite steak house!
  • Saturday - Hanging by the pool & seeing Garth Brooks in the evening.
  • Sunday - Heading home. We'll like heat up a pizza or something, depending on when we arrive.
What's on your menu for the week? Have you tried any great recipes lately?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wrapping up a productive weekend

I'm exhausted & my back has been bothering, but I had an extremely productive weekend!

The boys had soccer (& soccer pictures) yesterday, followed by a trip to Costco for groceries & Halloween costumes. (A pirate & a knight, respectively ;-)).

I did a five mile run, which felt pretty good. I also made a fabulous goat cheese, pear, & chicken pizza for dinner, and two loaves of peanut butter banana bread. Yum.

I cleaned both of the kids closets (and their entire rooms)! I went through all of the clothes, toys & books. We donated 5 giant bins to Goodwill, and recycled a ton of stuff. Yes!!

I also cleaned our hall closet, which has been a mess for months.

I made two fiesta chicken casseroles (one for tonight, & one for the freezer). I washed all of the sheets, did the laundry & caught up on other household projects.

I attempted to go for my seven mile run, but my back was really hurting, so I called it a day after 4 miles. Yikes. I'm hoping some ibuprofen & rest does the trick.

And now we're relaxing  & getting ready for dinner. I love productive weekends! How about you? What did you get done this weekend?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September mid-month goal check

The month is half over, so I thought it would be a good time for a goal check.

Here are my goals for the month:
  1. Lose 4 pounds. I started 2012 at 150, and I'm currently at 143.5. I'd like to break into the 130s! - I really need to focus. I've been stress eating at work. Fail.
  2. Track all of my food & exercise in My Fitness Pal. - Not every day has been pretty, but I've been doing it!
  3. Complete 1,000 minutes of cardio, & complete 5 each of strength & stretching workouts. - I'm at 385 minutes, 3/5 strength, & 1/5 stretching. I clearly still have a lot of work to do & need to make my own fitness a priority. It's been tough this month, but I need to do it.
  4. Spend $0 on clothing/makeup for myself. I may need new running shoes, but that remains TBD. - I bought myself a pair of jeans, but returned a top. I also bought a new nail polish & a fancy hair product with my bonus money. Total spent = just under $50.
  5. Pay off our credit card bill. We have a small balance that we've been carrying over, but my September bonus will clear this. - Done. I'm so happy to pay this off & have a zero balance!
  6. Buy the boys 5 tuition credits each. - Done! Did this with my bonus.
  7. Pay $3000 off on the principal of our 2nd mortgage. - Blew this away & paid $10,000 extra today with my bonus.
  8. Consult with a resume service. Did I mention that I'm looking for a new job, after 15 years with the same company? :-) - Done! Meeting was today & I should have the resume back next week.
  9. Investigate job market in Portland. Oh, and a potential relocation? :-) - I'm off to a slow start, but I have been networking, & casually looking at both housing & work options.
  10. Have one date night with M. - Done! We had a fabulous dinner out last weekend.
  11. Stick to budget for my mom's birthday trip. My sister & I are taking her to Las Vegas for her 60th. My budget is $2000. (Disclaimer - That's what remains - I've already purchased flights, etc). - Trip is next weekend, so this remains the plan.
  12. Clean all of the closets in our house. They are a wreck! - I think I need to plan to do one closet at a time. This weekend - the kids closets!
  13. Bonus goal - meal plan every week in September. - Doing okay. This week was a little haphazard, as I had a crazy work schedule as well as two soccer practices + curriculum night. We did not eat out, which is good. We got creative with what we had in the house.

How are you doing with your September goals?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bits and pieces

A few random odds & ends about both our finances, as well as other things going on.

  • First, it's gorgeous in Seattle & promises to be a beautiful weekend. Both the boys have their first soccer games this weekend, which should be extremely comical. Love five year olds playing soccer!
  • I'm going to *make* time for two runs this weekend. I need to do a 5 miler and a 7+ miler. I'm behind on my training.
  • My back has been killing me - I have been hunched over at work, & not doing my pilates & yoga workouts. I need to make this a priority.
  • Work has been so stressful. I've been eating junk, staying late, & not sleeping due to stress. It's not a healthy environment right now. Not sure how long I can make the financial trade off for my own sanity.
  • I took a few additional "network" steps this week, & I'm proud! I consulted a resume service, & hope to have a revised resume by next week to start sending out. I also made contacts with a few people in Portland who work in my industry & they've agreed to do informal calls with me. Yeah!
  • I paid off our credit card debt that we accrued after our huge tax bill. Love having that cleaned up.
  • I made a $10,000 payment on our second mortgage today, with my additional bonus money.
  • I bought each of the kids 5 tuition credits.
  • I put away $10,000 for our taxes, $10,000 for our emergency fund, $2,000 for my mom's trip, $5000 for our family Hawaii trip, & an additional $10,000 in my *moving slush fund*. Just in case.
  • I bought myself the jeans & hair product I mentioned a few posts ago - my bonus splurges!
  • I'm going to Las Vegas with my mom & sister to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday on Thursday. I can't wait - I'm in desperate need of a little work break. ;-)
  • I accomplished 15/18 items off of my work to do list today. Yes!
  • I fully plan to have multiple margaritas tonight. Love my husband's mixologist skills.

And, enough about all of that. What are your weekend plans?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Letting Go

Carla at My 1/2 Dozen Daily had a great post today that really got me thinking about my own life. Given that I have a financial blog, it feels so strange to even write this, but here goes!

M & I are considering a major life change. Actually, to be fair, I'm driving the change, and M is fully supportive & in agreement with pursuing it.

I've worked for the same large technology company for 15 years - my entire professional career. I have had a variety of experiences, learned a ton, & worked for some fantastic people. But now? I'm bored. Maxed out. I've reached the top of my career growth within my current job function, which means I need to take a long hard look at my career, & figure out what I want to do for the next 15 years. I didn't intend to work for a tech company. In fact, I'm not even very passionate about it. What I was passionate about? Job security & making a financial living. So I've stayed. And put in long hard years, because when your job is not enjoyable (and at times, miserable), that money is hard earned.

Like many of you, I grew up placing a huge value on financial security. Huge. I feel like we've achieved that, yet I still keep slogging away, afraid to leave the company & make a change. Virtually any other job I'm considering will mean a 50% pay cut. But, that freedom of doing something I would enjoy, with a schedule more conducive to my family? It's hard to put a price on that. I've spent the last few years clutching to the security of my job, rather than making decisions that would put me on a path to something more fulfilling. . . because I've been afraid to leave & start over, financially & otherwise. It's incredibly hard to leave the money. I know this makes me sound like a souless, money grubbing person, but that's the reality.

My family leaves near Portland (we're in Seattle), & one of the options we're considering is moving to Portland. It would be amazing to have a support system with the kids when M is traveling, or we just need help. I'm very close to my family & would love to see them regularly. We also have our vacation house on the Oregon coast. People ask me why we bought it & why we've made other financial sacrifices to keep it. I can finally answer this (because, I finally figured it out for myself :-)) - when we're on the coast, at this small beach town? I feel like I'm giving our kids a tiny portion of the life I had growing up. Small, safe town. Beautiful location. Playing in the streets. Riding to get an ice cream cone. All of the things we don't currently have. So, we drive 4 hours back & forth on weekends to experience just a bit of it, whenever we can. If we lived in Portland, the drive would be under two hours. And that would be amazing for us.

Where does this leave me? As a complete type A, over the top, anal planer, the logistics of even contemplating this major life overhaul is keeping me from sleeping at night. I know that this move & job switch would be life changing & fabulous for us, but it's hard. Do we put our house on the market first? Look for a job first? M can do his current job from Portland, so I'll be the only one job searching.

Ahhh, it feels good just to get this out there. Has anyone else made a major life change or move like this? Advice or guidance?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bonus update

I received my annual performance review yesterday, & the news was much better than I'd expected. I received a small raise (just over 4%), & a substantially bigger bonus than I'd imagined. I planned for $10K (netting $5K, after taxes, deductions, etc), but hoped for $14K (netting $7K). Instead, my bonus was $36K. Wow! I'm still in shock, trying to figure out how to allocate the additional funds.

From my previous post:
How does this affect our overall financial plan?

  • We're carrying a small balance on our credit card, as a result of booking a trip for November & a few planned vacations in August. We will use part of my stock vest to pay that off.
  • The rest of the stock vest will be allocated as follows:
    • $10,000 - to the emergency fund. We drained this when our taxes came due in April & struggled to fully rebuild this.
    • $10,000 to our tax fund for our 2012 taxes. Thinking ahead after last year. ;-)
    • $2,000 - my mom's 60th birthday trip
    • $5,000 - we're taking the kids to Hawaii in November
    • $1,720 - we're buying the kids each 5 tuition credits for college
    • $3,000 - extra mortgage payment
    • TBD - I've tentatively slotted my net bonus at $5K, but I'm hoping it will be higher. If it is, I will likely split the difference between our emergency fund, and paying down our mortgage.
And, now that I have the bonus amount, I'm thinking I'll funnel the majority of the remaining funds into an additional mortgage payment. We also bought a sofa over the weekend, & are thinking about a few other home improvement projects, so I'll see what the actual net of my check is going to be, & go from there.

HOT DOG! I'm so happy. :-)

Edited to add - I'm also planning on: buying myself a new pair of jeans, an expensive hair product I want, & getting a massage! My personal splurge shoudl be under $300, so reasonable, but fun. :-)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Menu Plan Sunday

Trying to get a bit of a jump start on the week ahead. I did some freezer stocking this weekend, & made:
We ended up eating out one time last week, & stretched our leftovers further than expected, so you'll see a few repeats from last week.

  • Rustic potato soup + crackers + fruit & vegetables


I'd also like to continue the weekend cooking & baking, to stock the freezer. My freezer is noticeably bare, for the first time in months! Time to get cooking. :-)

What's on your menu for the week? Have you been hit by the sudden urge to bake & stock the freezer? I always feel this way around fall. :-)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Weekend plans

I love the anticipation that a Friday afternoon brings. I'm always filled with so much hope about all of the things I can get done on Saturday & Sunday. I'm pretty efficient & usually get a huge chunk, but it's never everything that I hoped. Are you similar? :-)

Anyway, tonight we have a PTA fundraiser/barbecue at the boys elementary school. Tomorrow I have a 7 mile run scheduled, & I'd like to do some freezer baking. We also have a date night booked. Woohoo! Sunday will be more running & preparing for the week ahead.

And, I just have to congratulate myself on one LONG over due task. I've been meaning to change my last name on a hotel rewards account for. . . over 7 years. We're going to be using a reward in November for our Hawaii vacation, so I finally got on the ball & faxed in the appropriate information. I just received confirmation today & marked this off of my rolling "long-term" to do list. It's a little shameful, but it's finally done!! :-)

Goals for the week ahead:
  1. No dining out (minus planned date night).
  2. Get in all training runs (hoping to get into my 5 am run routine again)
  3. Complete 3 strength training & 3 yoga/pilates workouts.
  4. Allocate/distribute/pay all planned accounts after my stock & bonus clears.
  5. Blog 3x (here & on my running blog).
  6. Stock the freezer
  7. Clean out a few of our closets! They are a wreck.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

2012 goal check

The year is flying by, so it's time to do a quick goal check & see what we've accomplished so far! Here's a link to my 2012 goals:

  1. Achieve and maintain my goal weight of 130 lbs. I have 20 lbs to go, as I'm starting at 150. - I'm currently down to 143.5, so I'm making progress!  
  2. Complete 10,000 minutes of cardio. My goal was 4500 for 2011, and I crushed this goal in 2012 (ended with 8700 minutes). I want to go big with this goal. :-) - I'm at just over 9,000 minutes, so I'm ROCKING this goal!
  3. Run a 1/2 marathon. I was fully trained for my first 1/2 marathon before I broke my foot in May. I'm starting from scratch, but want to get back to it. - Done, baby! I've run two half marathons, a 15K, and I completed a 200 mile/12 person team relay. I have another couple of half marathons lined up between now and the end of the year.
  4. Spend less than $500 on clothing for myself and less than $500 for shoes/clothes for the kids. I shop for entertainment, and it's totally unnecessary. - Sadly, no. I need to do the math, but I'm way over on this. I've spent probably $500 on running shoes/gear alone. My goal for the rest of the year is to spend nothing else.
  5. Complete 100 strength training workouts. - I'm at 59, so doing pretty well, but need to amp this up.
  6. Give up artificial sugar. (Mostly, the Splenda in my coffee & tea.) This will be TOUGH for me. :-) - I would give myself a 90% on this one. I've had 2-3 sodas this year, and a couple of Vitamin Waters.
  7. Reach 50% of our goal for the boys college tuition GET accounts, for both kids. This will take about $12,000. - We haven't made much progress on this. :-( We've been focusing on other financial goals.
  8. Track all spending, stick to our budget, and complete monthly spending reports. - I've been doing the tracking. The sticking to the budget? Win some/lose some.
  9. Pay off $50,000 on our vacation house mortgage and $100,000 on our primary residence mortgage.  - oh my. I don't remember where we started with these, but I'm 100% sure we haven't achieved this.
  10. Have one date night per month with M. - Yes! And, I need to plan our September date.
  11. Get together with two friends/month, and plan a minimum of one girls only vacation this year. - I've spent lots of time with my sister, had a girls trip, & have been doing a great job making time for myself. Love this goal!
  12. Meet with an attorney & get our life insurance, wills, guardianship, trusts, etc squared away. This is a MUST do this year. - Groan. I need to do this. I'm now at a weight that's not considered "overweight", which was my previous excuse. Again, just need to do this.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Goals

It's been so long since I've posted goals (or, anything for that matter), but it feels good to get back into the routine of tracking this stuff.

For a refresher, my 12 goals of 2012 can be found here.

On to goals for September.

  1. Lose 4 pounds. I started 2012 at 150, and I'm currently at 143.5. I'd like to break into the 130s!
  2. Track all of my food & exercise in My Fitness Pal.
  3. Complete 1,000 minutes of cardio, & complete 5 each of strength & stretching workouts.
  4. Spend $0 on clothing/makeup for myself. I may need new running shoes, but that remains TBD.
  5. Pay off our credit card bill. We have a small balance that we've been carrying over, but my September bonus will clear this.
  6. Buy the boys 5 tuition credits each.
  7. Pay $3000 off on the principal of our 2nd mortgage.
  8. Consult with a resume service. Did I mention that I'm looking for a new job, after 15 years with the same company? :-)
  9. Investigate job market in Portland. Oh, and a potential relocation? :-)
  10. Have one date night with M.
  11. Stick to budget for my mom's birthday trip. My sister & I are taking her to Las Vegas for her 60th. My budget is $2000. (Disclaimer - That's what remains - I've already purchased flights, etc).
  12. Clean all of the closets in our house. They are a wreck!
  13. Bonus goal - meal plan every week in September.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My oh my, it's been a long time!

Wow. I can't believe it's September! I don't have any fabulous explanations for where I've been - just that life got in the way. :-)

I have been diligently tracking our finances, & we're making progress, but it's not been without ups & downs. I'll do a more detailed look at where we are soon.

That said, I find the best way to get organized & back on track is with a little meal planning, so here goes!

Both of our boys started school today - N is a kindergartner & S started first grade!! Can't believe it. We have soccer practice now on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, so that's another wrinkle in the plans.

  • Tuesday (soccer after school) - leftover Persian beef kebabs, rice, & yogurt sauce
  • Wednesday (soccer after school) - Oven baked chicken risotto
  • Thursday - leftovers
  • Friday - Chicken marsala casserole
  • Saturday - homemade pizza. May make chicken pesto for the adults, & a cheese/pepperoni half & half for the kids.
  • Sunday - Fiesta casserole (make a double batch & freeze one pan)

The upcoming weekend is one of our last without any commitments, so I hope to do a little baking/stocking of the freezer. I've been eating soup from our work cafeteria these days, so I'm going to try a few Au Bon Pain knock off recipes.

Weekend cooking/baking

And with that, I'm off to make my plan for the week! Hope everyone had a fabulous long weekend.