Friday, June 23, 2017

Frugal Friday

This week has been quite a bit outside the norm, as the kids are with my parents, & M & I are home alone. I've also been working crazy hours to wrap up all of my work to get ready for two weeks of vacation. The longest I've taken off since starting this job! As a result, it certainly hasn't been the most frugal week, as we had three dinners out/date nights. Don't regret it at all, and it's unusual for us. However, all of that restaurant food (and wine!) is not good for my healthy eating, so I'll need to trim back the calories to get back on track.

Here are the frugal wins for the week:


  • Picked M up at the airport after our flights on Sunday
  • I used my Uber gift card both ways (to & from the airport) for my trip this weekend
  • Sold a pair of sunglasses on eBay & got more than expected - $56! 
  • Took advantage of having no kiddos around & celebrated our date night (bumped from May) with dinner out. Combination Father's Day dinner as well. 
  • Saved $32 on our Hawaii flights by price matching (this generates credit for a future flight, not actual cash back).
  • Received 4 lemons from a coworker who has a tree that is not liking the hot weather, & all of the lemons are dropping
  • Kept grocery shopping to the bare minimum. . . coffee beans, salmon for M to grill this weekend, & cheese pizza for the kids that was on sale. (The pizza went into the freezer). Our grocery bill for the month is looking great. Our dining out bill, on the other hand. . . It was both M's 50th birthday & Father's Day, as well as two bonus date nights. Lots has been spent in this category for the month.
  • M will also be able to take me to the airport tomorrow, saving about $20 on an Uber. 

I also have a few frugal goals for my upcoming vacation:
  • Keep grocery shopping reasonable & in check. (I have family members who get a little crazy, so it's tempting to go all in).
  • Stick to the meal plan
  • No meals out! We're in a very mellow part of the Oregon coast, and there are few restaurants anyway. The only potential exception would be before our flight home next Thursday.
  • Evaluate our pantry & freezer options, and use those up first. This is particularly important, as we're not at the vacation house very often.
  • Minimize food waste where possible. I can't get this down to zero, as we fly home & some things don't travel well. 
  • Bring any leftover (easy to pack) fruit along tomorrow on my flight, so we can use them for breakfast on our first day.  
That's it! Super excited to have some time off from work. What about you? Any big frugal wins to report? 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Menu plan for the next few weeks

It's a been of a whirlwind over the next few weeks. M & I are solo at the house this week (the kids are with my parents) & then I'm at the beach house with a variety of family members & kids, and eventually M will join us. As a result, we're way off course for our standard menu planning process, and we'll be taking advantage of the opportunity to go out to dinner without a sitter!

Once we get to the beach, I'll properly inventory all of the freezer & pantry supplies, and adjust the menu based on what we already have.

Add to that it's insanely hot & I have no desire to cook, and here's the menu I'm thinking about through the end of June:

  • Monday, 6/19 - I made chicken caprese paninis, with fresh basil from the garden.  
  • Tuesday, 6/20 - M & I will go out for happy hour, as I'm done with work at a reasonable hour. 
  • Wednesday, 6/21 - M & I will have kebabs, pitas, cucumber yogurt sauce & salad
  • Thursday, 6/22 - M & I will eat pad thai (freezer). I have a super late work night, so this should be quick & easy.
  • Friday, 6/23 - M & I will go out for happy hour. 
  • Saturday, 6/24 - I'll fly back to Portland to pick up the kiddos & head to the beach. Depending on how hungry the kids are, we'll probably wait until we get to the beach house. Most likely dinner will be mac & cheese & chicken nuggets. #gourmet :-) 
  • Sunday, 6/25 - My mom is going to be with us, so probably pasta & meatballs. I'll also pick up groceries for easy meals from the grocery store in walking distance
  • Monday, 6/26 - grilled hot dogs, veggies, & watermelon
  • Tuesday, 6/27 - Whatever is left in the freezer at the vacation house. 
  • Wednesday, 6/28 - M arrives. I'll make risotto with sausage. 
  • Thursday, 6/29 - M will grill burgers & corn
  • Friday, 6/30 - We'll barbecue fish & serve it with rice
  • Saturday, 7/1 - Leftovers
  • Sunday, 7/2 - My parents, sister, & nephews will join us at the beach. We'll have a big appetizer spread, pizza & salad. 
  • Monday, 7/3 - My parents, sister, & nephews will be with us at the beach. We'll make crab cakes for the adults, and hot dogs for the kids.
  • Tuesday, 7/4 - My parents, sister, & nephews will be with us at the beach. We'll have grilled sliders, corn on the cob, & margaritas
  • Wednesday, 7/5 - M, the boys & I will eat whatever leftovers linger before we fly home.
  • Thursday, 7/6 - Flying home. We will either get food at the airport, or heat up something from the freezer when we arrive. 
I leave for Tokyo two days later, so the boys will be on their own. I'll have to get super creative to come up with options for the boys, as I won't have much time to prep anything in advance. 

What about you? Is it hot at your house? What's your favorite easy meal prep when it's too hot to cook? 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Frugal Friday

In between all of the craziness around here, we've still been trying to keep things reasonably frugal.

  • Made $35 selling the rest of the yard furniture that the previous owners left behind on my local Facebook group
  • Wanted to treat the kids on their first day of summer break, so took them to lunch using a Panera $10 offer, & paid for the rest using a gift card.
  • Used my last $10 grocery coupon to buy items for M's homemade birthday cake. 
  • Bribed Nick to let the doctor burn multiple warts off of his foot. It was pretty painful, but he hung in there & didn't move during the entire burning treatment. I used a gift card to buy him Magic cards at Target. 
  • Used other gift cards that have been lingering in my purse to offset purchases this weekend (lunch out for Sam on Sunday)
  • Found $.65 on the ground. ;-) 
  • Used the last of our lemons to make homemade lemon bread to bring to our neighborhood gathering
  • Picked a bunch of basil & gave it to friends before we head out of town. Even though not benefiting our wallets, it's nice to share. 
  • Celebrated M's birthday with thoughtful gifts, but nothing too extravagant. (Mostly because he's crazy hard to shop for.)
  • Went to dinner for M's birthday, and brought our own wine. We had a lovely dinner out with the boys. 
  • Invited a friend to join us at camp for "bring a friend for free Friday", which although not benefiting us, is nice to give a parent a break for a few hours
  • Packing a lunch for the airport this afternoon
  • Using Uber to get to the airport, which is about $30 cheaper than parking, and I have the gift cards that I purchased a week or so ago to generate grocery store rewards

That's it for me. I'm really looking forward to the weekend. The boys will be participating in a huge mountain biking event tomorrow, we'll be celebrating my nephew's graduation, and then I'm flying home to spend the last of Father's Day with M. We'll definitely be going out for our first date night in a while, and no sitter needed. Woohoo!

What about you? What frugal wins did you have for the week?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Selling a house is stressful

We had a hard time settling on a list price for our house, as there are no perfect comps in our area for our home. We went out with a price, got an offer slightly below list within a few days, but then the buyer backed out (they had another offer accepted). We received another offer yesterday, but it was substantially below our reduced list price ($250K - so, a ton of money).

We attempted to negotiate with the buyers, and made real attempts to meet in the middle. We went down $50K in in our first round of negotiations. They went up $7K. It went on like that. They also would provide an offer & ask for a response within 2 hours. In the middle of the work day. On Monday, they provided their "final offer" at 10 pm, and it expired at midnight. I didn't sleep at all on Monday, waiting to hear back. We couldn't settle on a price, so agreed to not proceed.

The stress of not knowing what the true market value is, and understanding whether it's worth dropping the price yet another $30K to close is really, really hard for me. I constantly second guess my own decision. I hate the stress of the unknown! We're trying hard to be flexible, willing to negotiate, and be reasonable, but not all buyers are in this situation, clearly.

While we are not in a rush to sell, having a house on the market for an extended period of time in the Seattle market makes it less likely that you will get an offer close to your asking price, so it is a concern. We'll monitor the situation over the next few weeks & then  make a determination on next steps. We've listened to our realtor at each phase, and the original list price & reduction were both at her guidance, so I hope we have the best possible information about pricing, etc.

For those of you who have sold a house, how did you decide to accept or pass on an offer? Did you second guess your decisions? How did you stay calm during the process??!!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Simple Sunday

Oh my, how quickly the weekends fly around here! We ran a bunch of errands yesterday, so today we'll be catching up on other things. The boys have been saving for six months for new bikes, and finally had enough money to make their purchases. We took care of that, and dropped off pants to hem for M, and I looked around for a dress. I don't really enjoy shopping unless I'm with friends, but it wasn't too bad.

We capped off the night with fresh Alaskan salmon, rice, & wine & it was an amazing dinner. M is a fabulous cook.

As for today, it's nice to know there's no school work waiting to catch up on. ;-) Here's what's on the agenda for today:


  1. A 4 miler pace walk for my relay. I'm a bit behind on my training
  2. Yoga
  3. My pushup challenges
  4. Shoulder exercise for my physical therapy
  5. Clean up the DVDs that we pulled out of our old TV stand (trying to sell). Determine which to donate, sell, keep
  6. Clean the fridge
  7. Finish packing for the boys trip
  8. Make something for our neighborhood gathering. I'm thinking of a fruit salad or cookies
  9. Neighborhood party
  10. Wash the boys sheets
  11. Sort my work & personal calendars
  12. Check the boys shoes for their trip (make sure there are no holes)
  13. Laundry
  14. Decide on dinner
  15. Sweep the pool area

What about you? What are you hoping to do today? Any fun adventures ahead? I'm looking forward to a neighborhood party - our next door neighbors are having it to welcome us to the neighborhood. So kind! 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I only came for the cake

The boys & I made a cake to celebrate M's birthday yesterday (it's early, but he'll be out of town on the actual day), & it was fabulous. A little sloppy to frost (it's whipping cream, not frosting), but the taste was fabulous.



I got the recipe from Mavis's blog, & recommend it, particularly if you have anyone in your family who isn't a big frosting fan.

Other than that, we have a weekend of getting things done as a family before the chaos begins for the summer. I'm excited about all of our family plans, and the trips on the agenda. Including:

  • The boys are going to Disneyland with my parents. M & I will be working, but enjoying several date nights while the boys are gone.
  • I'm going to the beach with the boys. My mom will join me for a few days, then M will join up, my sister, nephews & my parents will join again for the 4th of July. 
  • I go straight to Tokyo once I get back from the beach (less excited, obviously, as this is a work trip).
  • The day after I get back from Tokyo, my sister & friend are flying in. We'll spend the weekend by the pool, relaxing & having fun, & then we're heading to Sonoma. I won a couple of nights at a condo as part of our school auction.
  • They had out, and then my friend & her daughters are coming to stay with us for a few days. The boys are thrilled, and rarely get to see my friend's kids. They all grew up together in Seattle, but the distance has meant a lot less time together. The boys are very excited to show them around the new house.
  • And, my mom is flying in to pick up the boys & keep them at her house for a week, and M & I are going to Las Vegas for a weekend to belatedly celebrate his birthday.

Wow! A lot going on in July. :-) What about you? What are your summer plans? Anything fun on the horizon? 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Frugal Friday

So happy it's Friday, although it's a dreary, rainy day today. The gray skies make me a little depressed . . . I've really adjusted to leaving Seattle, apparently. :-)

Here are some of our frugal wins for the week.
  • Found a nice 6 pack of IPA on clearance at the grocery store (perfect for my parents visit this summer)
  • Packed a lunch for myself + Nick on Saturday, as we were out at soccer tryouts, followed by a game. The end of the season - hurrah!
  • Bought 4 gift cards at our local grocery store ($150 worth of Uber, for trips to & from the airport this summer & $50 for the Gap, as we always need something) to generate $40 in free spending at the grocery store. I used the first $10 to stock up on pasta & buns for our homemade burgers. 
  • Saved $400 by asking my mom to drive us to the beach during our family vacation (otherwise, we'd need to rent a car for an extra week, and still have to go back & forth to Portland, as M is arriving later). I'll pay for my mom's gas, of course, but she's excited for the time with us at the beach. 
  • Sold $240 worth of patio furniture (came with the house) on my local Facebook group
  • Used another grocery store coupon to buy 2 bags of couscous, 1 jar of ketchup, and 4 lbs of pasta for $.83
  • Made all meals at home, except for one planned dinner out to celebrate the boys wrapping up school. This is a go to restaurant for us (very casual, salad bar type place) & they had a graduation offer going. We bought $100 gift card, earning a free meal pass for a future visit. Then used the gift card to pay for that night's meal. 
  • Bought popsicles to keep in the freezer on hot days, to avoid going out for ice cream.

That's it on my side. M is going to be home shortly, & I'm thrilled! He's been gone all week for work, and it's been chaos. I need to take Nick to the doctor this morning, wrap up a ton of work, and then looking forward to enjoying the weekend.

What about you? Any big frugal wins this week?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The end of the school year

Sweet mercy - there is so much happening at school, but the end is upon us! Sam had his 5th grade commencement ceremony yesterday, both boys finished soccer tryouts yesterday, and today is the last day of school. Combine that with M traveling, Nick's writing workshop party (don't ask), school finishing at noon today, no nanny, lots of work commitments, and it's been chaos.

I've been busy trying to sell our patio furniture (came with the house) in the meantime, & get rid of a few other things that we don't need. It feels great to get things cleaned out. I'm inspired to keep going! There's plenty of other things in the house that need to be organized.

Here's what's on my "sanity only" list for today.


  • Sell patio table/chairs
  • Sell glider
  • Clean out TV stand (someone is coming by for it on Saturday)
  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Clean fridge
  • Work out (pilates day)
  • Physical therapy stretches
  • Check into vacation house calendar & get back to my mom
  • Start packing list for boys trip to Portland
  • Review Boy Scouts camping list & make sure I've ordered anything we don't already have
  • Make dinner: pasta, grilled chicken & fruit salad

That's it for me! What about you? Is anyone else caught up in the frenzy of the last few weeks of school & activities? 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A mellow Sunday

At least, I'm hoping it's going to be a mellow Sunday! M is trimming our neighbor's tree (the branches that hang over our pool, and yes, we asked first :-)), and I'll be taking Sam to a Boy Scouts event shortly. Other than that, it's a relatively low key day. Here's what's on the agenda of things I hope to accomplish:


  1. Gather up library books, & drop them off
  2. Yoga
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Complete 30 push ups for my push up challenge I'm doing with my sister
  5. Sort out childcare for after camp a few weeks this summer
  6. Review my calendar for the week, as we have no nanny & M is out of town for work.
  7. Make dinner reservations for M's birthday
  8. Find receipts for our updates to this house. (Lesson learned - we kept none from our other house, as we expected to use the $500K write off when selling. . . foolish, as won't be able to & don't have many write offs).
  9. Make a menu plan for the week
  10. Make muffins or rolls
  11. Dinner - stuffed peppers (trying a new recipe)
I think that will keep me busy. And, while I'm at it,here's the menu plan for the week:

  • Friday - we had beef tacos
  • Saturday - M grilled burgers & potato wedges
  • Sunday - I'm making these stuffed peppers. 
  • Monday - leftover tacos. Will probably turn them into taco quesadillas for the kids
  • Tuesday - leftover burgers
  • Wednesday - leftover stuffed peppers
  • Thursday - M is out of town, so I'll probably make breakfast for dinner. I'm thinking of a pepper, egg & potato scramble/hash  
  • Friday - homemade pizza

What about you? What are you up to today? And, if you own a house, do you have a receipt file for when you eventually go to sell? If not, start one! Learn from my mistakes. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Frugal Friday

We had some frugal wins, and then some less than frugal moves. Here's an assortment of both!

Frugal wins for the week:
  • M & I completed hours of yard work & pool maintenance (vs paying for a service)
  • Sold a small table & 2 chairs (Pottery Barn Kids, from when the boys were small) for $30
  • Made dinner for our guests rather than going out or ordering takeout
  • Used flight credit for M's trip to the beach house this summer, and was only out $50 out of pocket after the credit
  • Sold our old TV for $200 
  • Made almost all of our meals at home. 

Frugal fails for the week:
  • M took our guests to the local park to explore while I was cleaning up & getting dessert on Sunday. One of the kids had a drone & wanted to show M how to use it. Of course, the battery died while M was flying it, & it's stuck 35+ feet in a tree & won't come down. We ordered a replacement. :-(
  • Realized that the flights I'd booked for M's birthday trip to Las Vegas had a stopover (yuck!), so changed our flights. It was Southwest, so no flight change fee, but still an additional $110 for the change in flights. 
  • In other flight news, I've been keeping any eye on flights to Portland for my relay in August. I was supposed to receive a discount code through the event. No dice. Have emailed, contacted them, etc. In the meantime, the flights have gone up $150, and now there are only two seats left on my flights in & out (my schedule is really tight, so I can't change the times or dates). I was so frustrated, as this is almost twice what I normally pay for a flight to Portland.
  • We have our house on the market in Seattle, and are obviously not around to monitor how things look. We paid quite a bit for a cleanup yard service before we listed the house. (Note that we have always had ongoing yard service as part of our rental agreement). The house has been on the market now for three weeks, and apparently the grass is two feet high & the yard needs $350 worth of weed pulling, mowing, etc. I get that things grow, but I'm very frustrated that the original yard service didn't do a thorough job, and now we're having to pay again on top of that. Sigh. Can't wait to get the house sold! 
  • We had an unexpected dinner guest on Monday, and ordered pizza for the kids. M & I stuck to our plan of steak salad, but didn't have enough quick leftovers to go around. This was really about laziness, as I could have easily gotten up & whipped something together. However, I was firmly entrenched in the lounge chair, sipping wine & enjoying the kids. :-) 

What about you? Did you have any frugal wins or fails to report? 

Setting goals for June

June is going to be a month of summer camp, vacationing at the beach, and the kids out of town for a trip to Disneyland with my parents. I'm looking forward to all of it! Here's what I'd like to accomplish in June.

1) Financial - 
  • Meet with realtor to discuss/adjust pricing & get our Seattle house sold!
  • Finalize our budget list for our (new) house
  • Finalize family budget for post rental house sale
  • Find one alternative cost cutting option
  • Avoid buying groceries while the kids are with my parents (this should be easy, as we always have plenty in the fridge) & keep grocery spending in check when I'm with the kids at the beach
  • Sell another $100 of items on either eBay or my local Facebook swap site. 
  • More decluttering & organizing in our new house (would like to get the boys closet shelving installed, so they can put away/organize all of their games & toys)
2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!

  • Do a minimum of one fun activity/month with the kids. This can be family puzzle night, cooking dinner together, board games, going out somewhere, etc. 
  • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc.
  • Have three dates with M  - the kids are out of town for a few days, so this should be doable!
  • Finalize M's birthday & Father's Day
  • Figure out what to do for my dad for Father's Day

    3) Fitness/health - Lose 4 pounds in June
    • Run 25 miles in June
    • Start training for my relay
    • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day
    • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio
    • Complete 6 strength workouts.
    • Complete 6 stretching workouts. 

    4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
    • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress 
    • Work from home 2x this month.
    • Brainstorm how I would spend my time if I wasn't working. Really think creatively about what this would mean, what the challenges would be, etc.

      5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
      • Try a new recipe
      • Do something social at least once per month.
      • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month.

      What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in June? Any big goals for the month?