Monday, August 21, 2017

Recipe pricing & price per serving

It's been a long time since I've priced out a recipe, but was I'm trying to expand our horizons & integrate the boys choices into the menu more, I thought it would be helpful to try out.

Per Sam's request, I made this lasagna recipe.

Menu costing:
  • Sliced fresh mozzarella - $7.69 (1/2) = $3.85
  • Cottage cheese - $4.99 (3/4) = $3.74
  • Ground beef - $5.69 
  • Pasta sauce (free - leftover from my parents)
  • Lasagna noodles (free - leftover from my parents)
  • 1/2 onion - $.40? Not sure, haven't priced them in a while. 
Total I spent on this recipe = $13.68

I made a few tweaks to the recipe, as follows:
  • Added the onion to the ground beef when browning it
  • Stretched the recipe to make 2 smaller pans (4x4s), one for immediate eating, and the second for the freezer
  • Used the majority of a large tub of cottage cheese, as we already had it, and it helped expand the dish to 2 pans.
  • Ditto on the mozzarella. I used a full loaf of fresh mozzarella, minus 2 small slices. 
  • I didn't price out the things that were already in my pantry from my parents visit. However, for completeness when purchasing everything from scratch, let's say $2 for the noodles & $2.50 for the pasta sauce

I expect this will yield 10 individual servings with my changes, which puts it at a price per serving of $1.37 (rounded up). If I had bought all of the ingredients (adding $4.50 as noted above), brings the cost up to $1.81. Of course, one of the reasons I chose this recipe was to use up lasagna noodles left in my cupboard. :-)

Additionally, there are ways to bring the cost down pretty substantially:
-Find a cheaper source for ground beef (all of the ingredients really, but this one stands out as I had to buy it at the grocery store vs my way less expensive typical Costco purchase)
-Reduce the cheese & mozzarella
-Add extra veggies to the sauce to round it out
-Make my own pasta sauce

I didn't plan this recipe with any particular price per serving in mind, but it was super helpful to shop for all of the ingredients, and then price it out afterward. I'm going to have to continue to do this to determine the right price points for more of our dinners. What about you? Do you price out your recipes? What price per meal or serving do you aim for?  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Menu Plan

Here's what's on our menu for the week ahead. I typically cook a bigger meal on Friday, Saturday, & Sunday & then we have leftovers during the week, plus one quickly assembled freezer meal. Unfortunately, I didn't make enough naan pizza on Friday - every one disappeared! I need to adjust quantities a bit, now that the boys are eating more.


  • Saturday: tacos + chips & guacamole
  • Sunday: lasagna 
  • Monday: homemade mac & cheese (if I can get it assembled this weekend) + grilled chicken
  • Tuesday: leftover lasagna
  • Wednesday: leftover mac & cheese + chicken
  • Thursday: I'll be out of town (relay), so the boys will have spaghetti & meatballs
  • Friday: I'll be out of town (relay), so the boys will have pizza (from the freezer)
  • Saturday: I'll be out of town (relay), so the boys will have any leftovers, or may go out to Sweet Tomatoes. A wild Saturday night. ;-) 
  • Sunday: I'll be flying in late afternoon, so I'm hoping M will grill kebabs.
In addition the dinners listed above, I pre-prepped some breakfasts for Sam. He needs to be out of the house earlier in the morning, so we're experimenting with different prep ahead breakfast options. This weekend I also made:

  • Breakfast burritos
  • Breakfast sandwiches
  • Chicken stock (just with leftovers from the freezer/fridge). Finally got the time to make it happen, and I needed to clean out the freezer! I freeze it in 1.5c portions for our favorite risotto.
  • These granola bars
  • As well as these  granola bars. (I'm not sure what I did wrong, but they are too sticky/soft. Not great for a lunchbox.)
And, what we bought at Costco this week:
  • 2% milk - $4.69
  • Peaches - $8.99
  • Pears - $5.99
  • Honeydew - $2.99
  • Two dozen eggs - $13.99
  • Strawberries - $4.99
  • Plums - $6.49
  • Cucumbers (x2) - $3.49
  • Sliced fresh mozzarella - $7.69
  • Red seedless grapes - $7.49
  • Pineapple - $2.99
  • Canadian bacon - $9.99
  • Cottage cheese - $4.99
  • Butter - $11.99
  • Bananas - $1.39
  • Blueberries - $3.99
  • English muffins - $6.99
  • Baguette - $4.99
  • Broccoli - $5.29
  • Bananas (organic) - $1.99
Total for Costco  = $124.82. (All other ingredients we have in the freezer, pantry, fridge, etc). Most fruit/vegetables are for snacking & salads.

M did this shop, so a few takeaways. . . 
  1. Eggs are insanely expensive. I'm going to need a new source, when we're prepping meals in batches. . .  $7/dozen?!!
  2. The broccoli was also crazy expensive, and we should have picked it up at the produce stand.
  3. The mozzarella wasn't a bad deal per oz, but we needed less & I could have gotten it at the store (in a smaller size). It would have been more per oz, but we would have used it all. Now I need to make sure I use all of this. 
After realization #1, and realizing we had no ground beef in the freezer (and, we *always* have ground beef in the freezer), I went to the local grocery store to pick up a few morethings:

  • Unplanned - A box of tea (12 count) clearanced for - $.10 (caramel apple - not my favorite, but a super inexpensive treat)
  • Also unplanned - Organic ranch dressing for $.57. I planned to make my own, but saw this & thought the price was good enough to try for an upcoming recipe
  • Elbow macaroni - $.99
  • Ground beef - $5.69 (the price was supposed to be $3.99, so I was not happy. The sign was very misleading)
  • A dozen eggs - $1.79
  • Neufchatel cheese - $1.99
Total spend at the grocery store = $11.13

I also needed avocados, and they didn't have any at the produce stand. Instead, I picked up a bag of 4 at Trader Joes for $4.99

And, my final stop was the produce stand:

  • 5 tomatoes - $1.66 
  • 2 lbs of mini cucumbers - $3.30
  • A huge head of cauliflower - $.99
  • An enormous green pepper (I used the rest of mine from the garden in my breakfast burritos) - $.72
  • A container of organic strawberries -  $.99
Total spent at the produce stand = $7.66

All told, I spent $148.60 for a week's worth of groceries, plus some items to stock the freezer. I haven't done this kind of total in a while, & it's a good way to check out how I'm doing, areas to trim back, etc. What about you? How much do you typically spend in a week? Do you price out your recipes? That's another thing I haven't done in a long time & should start doing!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

What I do when it all gets to be too much

You can fill in your own blanks about what "too much" is, but for me, right now, it's all of the anger/fighting/terrorism, as well as the way people treat each other "online", behind their anonymous names. I'm not going to talk about any of that (this is a safe space :)), but it has been getting me down, & making me feel helpless. So, here's my approach to how I handle situations like this.


  1. I go outside. Sunshine is good for the soul.
  2. I work out. The endorphins are also good for you. Bonus points if you can combine #1 & #2. Also, at least one day a week, I try to work out until exhaustion, vs just a quick go at it.
  3. I talk to my friends. Either via text, email, or even better. . . in person.
  4. I plan a fun event. Right now, I have two exciting things on the calendar. My family relay is next weekend, & then I have a trip to Hawaii in October with M. Sometimes I just need a few minutes to do some fun planning about my events, or just think about the activities.
  5. I cook. Or bake. And get organized. A feeling of helplessness on world events pushes me to want to have more control over our family life. This week, that's translated into: making chicken broth, two batches of granola bars, & breakfast burritos. And, the day is young. :-) I'll report back on any big recipe wins.
  6. I do yoga, or deep breathing.
  7. Probably obvious, but I don't touch any social media or news. I take a media break. 
  8. I try to eat well (lots for fresh fruit/vegetables). Combined with a glass or two of wine on weekend evenings.
  9. I do something kind for others, as often as the opportunities present themselves. Small things are great! Not everything has to be a huge, meaningful thing. A few examples from the past few weeks: made a conscious effort to smile at strangers, visited a neighbor who lost her spouse, offered a ride to my friend's son when I knew her schedule was crazy, donated extra school supplies when I found bonus stuff in our house, brought in extra yard produce to my coworkers, and treated my nephew to concert tickets that he really wanted but couldn't afford for his birthday. Doing these things remind me of how it feels to help/give, and also hopefully gives someone else just a small positive boost in their day as well.
  10. I hug my kids. And husband. Even when they are annoying me, frustrating me, and I feel stressed out by the world. I'm doing my best to raise kind & thoughtful kiddos. Hugs are never out of place, and remind them that we love them. Even when they've spilled all of their breakfast on the floor while I'm my way out the door. ;-) 
I'd love to hear how you deal with everything, and your methods for dealing with stressful situations. Please share!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Frugal Friday


It was a bit of a "slow" week for frugal things, as we are just getting our new routine sorted out with the start of school. But, we did have a few wins!

  • Cancelled our Starwood Amex. Now that Costco no longer takes Amex, it's not worth the $95 membership fee. 
  • Moved some of my savings to a higher yield account. It's not very accessible, but the interest rate is significantly better. This will generate a minimum of $600 in difference.
  • Menu planned for the week, including a "freezer cleanup night" (Thursday), which included baked chicken, & various other items we'd purchased & not used for a pool party.
  • Extended library books that we weren't done with, & returned the rest just in the nick of time before accruing a fine. 
  • Ate all meals at home (exceptions for free meals provided at work for lunch). 
What about you? Any big frugal wins this week? 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The pantry challenge

Every few months or so, I try to inventory my pantry, determine what I have too much of, and make a concerted effort to use up those ingredients. Unfortunately, in our new house, the pantry is poorly laid out. We have plans to modify the shelving, which will help tremendously with the ability to view more of the pantry inventory. For now, things keep just getting overlooked & pushed to the back. Hence the pantry challenge!

I like the challenge of identifying a few ingredients that really need to go, and focusing on using up just those items. So, for this month's pantry challenge, I'd like to use up the following:

  • An enormous (25 oz) jar of green olives. Side note: what was I thinking?
  • 1/3 or so of a package of chocolate breakfast cereal. This is nothing we would allow the boys for breakfast, but I'm open to using it in something a little more snack like. One of our house guests brought this.
  • The end of a bag of pretzel chips.
  • Two 1/2 used boxes of lasagna noodles
  • A 1/2 bag of pine nuts
  • Most of a container of almonds
  • Most of a container of cashews . . . see any themes?
  • A few bits & bobs of trail mix
  • Most of a large bag of sourdough stuffing. 
  • An unopened jar of Nutella

A random mix of ingredients, for sure! I would definitely like to make granola, so the nuts will help with that. I have a great Nutella brownie recipe, and I'm thinking lasagna for the lasagna noodles. I know, super creative. I'll have to give some thought to the rest.

What about you? Do you have regular targeted pantry clean outs? Do you enjoy the challenge, or loathe the concept? I'm in the former camp, although usually start to drag after the first few "wins". 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How to stay motivated, & the $100K goal

As I've mentioned before, I've struggled a bit with my motivation to keep churning away at work, after the sale of our rental house. However, I've set a timeline that works best with our family finances, as well as my particular work situation. (Q4 is our craziest time of the year, and I'd prefer not to leave my team stranded at such a critical juncture. Despite really dreading another Q4. :-( )

I will try to limit travel as much as feasible, but it looks like I have a minimum of two international trips left before I wrap up.

With that, I'm trying to stay focused & motivated. By working these last few months (or, 162 days. . . but who's counting?), I can save up extra money that will cover some of our expenses, and help us transition from a very high income/dual earner family to just M working. (My longer term goals are fuzzy, but will likely involve working part-time, for substantially less). This last $100K will preserve more of our savings, and allow me more flexibility in my longer term work decisions, which definitely feels like a big win.

As such, to keep my eye on the prize & maintain motivated, my goal is to save $100K between now & the end of January, 2018. Why that amount? Three reasons -  1) it's a nice round number, 2) appears to be in scope assuming no other major financial outlays, and 3) allows me to cover a variety of upcoming expenses in the months ahead.

I won't get into the nitty gritty of where the money will come from (long story short - a combination of savings from my salary, my stock option vests, and my 2017 bonus - which is paid out in January of 2018). I did think it would be helpful to outline where that $100K will go:


  • $5,000 will go into our travel fund to pay for the remainder of our trip to Hawaii in October. We've paid for our airfare, airfare for my parents to our house to watch the kiddos, & a hotel deposit so far. 
  • $62,000 will go to state taxes, for the capital gains on the sale of our rental house. Sigh. By paying in 2017, it reduces our federal taxes owed in 2018. (Or, that's what our accountant said, so I'm just going with it).
  • $33,000 will go towards our property taxes on our current home. It's unclear when we will get this bill (the assessor's office predicts 9 months from purchase, which would put us in November). And, this is an estimate, as they were unable to accurately predict our property taxes. Our county has a bizarre calculation, but it's anchored in the purchase price, so this feels accurate.
So, a bunch of money spent on taxes, and a tiny amount spent on a fun vacation. At least I'm building in a little fun in there. :-) 


I'll provide regular updates, and need to keep our money in check for the remaining few months in order to achieve this goal. I want to ensure I don't stray off of our budget in the upcoming months, as every dollar will count when I leave my job!

What about you? Any big goals you are currently using to motivate yourself to keep your eye on the prize? 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A time for new routines & recipes

It's going to be interesting this year, with the boys at two separate schools. One has an early dismissal day (Tuesdays) & the other has a late start day (Wednesdays). I did manage to arrange soccer carpools, so that should help. Sam also wants to try out some new clubs & activities (you know, as a new middle schooler! ;-), so that may add some extra wrinkles. Details on that still coming, as they haven't announced the schedule yet for after school activities.

As part of a new season, we try to review our routine (see above) to determine the hot spots, and coordinate rides, nannies, & work schedules. We also review the boys chores & determine if we need to make any adjustments. We know that Sam is taking an advanced math class, so we will likely need to free up more evening time for homework. That means he'll likely pick up a few additional weekend chores.

Speaking of chores, our boys are 10 & 11. Here's the current list of chores they currently manage. (They split them, for the most part, by day to account for sports practice).


  • Setting the table
  • Watering plants 
  • Bringing in the mail
  • Making lunches (we're about 1/2 way there)
  • Cutting fruit for breakfast
  • Putting away their laundry & keeping their rooms cleaned
  • Taking the garbage & recycling out (as needed)
  • Taking the garbage/recycling/yard waste to the curb on garbage day
  • Making a salad (this is usually in the winter, when they don't have to water the plants & have more evening time)
  • Shower (not technically a chore, but they feel like it is ;-))
  • Homework (again, not a chore, but their top priority every day)
  • Empty backpacks, bring any paperwork for us, bring their lunch bags to the counter & put all dirty containers in the dishwasher 
  • On weekends, the boys help with ad hoc chores such as yard work, and pool maintenance.

I would like both boys to be more involved in meal planning & selection. I have one who eats almost anything, & one who is still exceptionally picky about food not being "mixed". This has been a challenge for meal planning & cooking in general, but we continue to get better, & he knows he can always heat up anything in the fridge, and/or make his own pasta if dinner isn't something he will eat. *I* don't make separate meals. I'd like for this to evolve as he gets older, but it's our current operating principle.

As for new recipes, I'd like to get Sam (the non-picky eater) more involved in selecting recipes, and potentially helping more with the prep & assembly. Mornings are getting crazier (middle school hours), so I'm considering making breakfast burritos & breakfast sandwiches with him this weekend for the freezer, and seeing if that helps us get out the door a bit faster. I'll report back on any successful breakfast freezer meals. 

What about you? Any great breakfast recipes you can recommend? Particularly those that can be prepped in advance/frozen? He likes to eat a full breakfast (eggs, starch, fruit), but would be open to anything particularly filling. How often do you review your routines & schedules at your house? 

Monday, August 14, 2017

The first day of school

It always represents a fresh start, fresh energy, new supplies, new friends, & a return to routine. Today we have a newly minted middle schooler (6th grade) & a 5th grader. They are both excited & nervous, but the middle schooler is particularly nervous. I'm nervous as well, as the school district does not provide transportation. This means biking across major roads to get to & from school every day. My dad took Sam on multiple practice rides last week, and we've discussed safety at great length, but . . . it's still hard to trust that everything will go well.

I finally found a great nanny, but am on my own this week (she starts next week). That means juggling the schedule to accommodate soccer & carpools, but I'm looking forward to getting the routine going, & ensuring everyone gets where they need to be every day.

We also dusted off our chore chart last night, and made adjustments to the list of responsibilities. The boys were very animated when discussing who would water our outside plants. Apparently, that is the chore that takes the longest, amongst the entire list. Who knew? ;-)

I have a variety of financial tasks to tackle this week, which should take up most of my free time. Here's what's on the list for the week:


  • Finalize all schedule details (including soccer carpools)
  • Test out our new crock pot!
  • Determine final tax numbers for our rental house sale (working with an accountant)
  • Call about a potential deck expansion at our vacation house
  • Call our primary bank about a higher yield account option
  • Investigate a back door IRA
  • A few speed workouts for my relay (in less than 2 weeks)
  • List a bunch of workout DVDs on my local Facebook sale site.
If I get those tasks done, I'll be happy! 

What about you? Do you have kids going back to school? What are you hoping to accomplish this week? 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Menu Plan Saturday

I'm taking my parents to the airport shortly, and trying to get prepped for the week ahead. I just received details of the boys practice schedules & field locations, as well as details for school next week. I'm trying hard to get prepared & ready for the craziness that awaits the start of a new school year. Particularly a new school year with the kids at different schools.

In amazing news, I found a nanny! She's great, and was just hired as a kindergarten assistant at our local school. She needs two weeks to give her notice at her other job, as well as do some training, but after that, I'll be back to having a nanny. I'm so relieved!

As for a menu for the week, here's what I'm thinking:

Saturday - Risotto
Sunday - kebabs & rice
Monday - leftover pizza
Tuesday - leftover risotto
Wednesday - leftover kebabs
Thursday - slow cooker baked ziti
Friday - leftover ziti

I bought a new crock pot, so I'm hoping to make at least one crock pot meal this week. If you have any great crock pot/slow cooker recipes to share, I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Frugal Friday

It's been so fabulous to have my parents here this week. They've been so helpful (cooking, cleaning, laundry, & getting the boys around to their activities).

  • Purchased Starbucks gift cards (I go to Starbucks only when traveling for work or on vacation) & earned $30 of credit for my local grocery store
  • My parents will likely make several stops at the grocery store next week when they are staying (they typically cook), so I will leave the $30 credit for them to use while there here.
  • Remembered to call our rental property insurance company & let them know our house is sold. Will be receiving a check for $108. Woohoo! Free money I wasn't expecting. :-) 
  • Made all meals at home while I was solo this weekend. Included dusting off chicken from the freezer that no one really liked the first time I made it. I made some tweaks & it was totally fine. 
  • When I was cleaning Sam's closet last weekend, I discovered that his Boy Scout uniform shirt was pretty much destroyed. I'm thinking a combination of sap & campfire. I washed it four times, & was planning to give up. (They are pretty persnickety about a clean uniform). I happened to be on our local neighborhood swap, and a neighbor was giving away a brand new shirt, same size as my son's. What are the odds?! This is about a $25 shirt. 
  • Made six dozen muffins & a batch of protein balls, to stock the freezer & ensure everyone has easy snacks & breakfast items.
  • Made dinner on Sunday, when we had guests in town. Kept it pretty simple (spaghetti & meatballs, garlic bread, & salad). The majority of the dinner was made with pantry/freezer items, and the salad I purchased.
  • Used Rite Aid rewards to buy everyone ice cream (does your Rite Aid have a Thrifty ice cream shop inside? If not, you are missing out!)
Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about how we did with the week. How about you? Any frugal wins? 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A no regrets summer

With school starting next week, we're at the end of what I typically consider "summer". Seasons aside, this is the end of the kids time off, and the end of no homework & soccer practice. I went into this summer with the goal of accepting changes in plans (many of which caused schedule complications) & enjoying as much time with friends & family as we possibly could.

My parents also clearly are trying to maximize their time with the boys before they are at an age when they can't be as active. They did a great deal with the kids, and I cannot express how grateful I am for all of their time, support, and many amazing activities. (Mountain biking, hiking, scavenger hunts, frisbee golf . . . you name it, they did it.)

As a recap, here's what happened this summer:

  • My parents took the boys to Disneyland, right after school was out
  • I flew in to Portland to celebrate various graduations, and drop the boys off for a big mountain biking adventure. The boys were no longer on the beginner team this year, and were thrilled.
  • Flew back to Portland a week later & spent two weeks at the beach. Various family members rotated in & out, & it was fabulous & relaxing. (Minus the flu two kids came down with on the last day).
  • Sold our rental house. :-)
  • Came back from Portland & had the flu myself, and immediately flew to Japan for a work trip. 
  • Returned from Japan (long flight, compounded by 7 hours on the tarmac) & had house guests.
  • Went to Sonoma for a girls trip
  • Had house guests again
  • Sam attended overnight Boy Scouts camp for a week
  • Had numerous pool parties, & let the boys have lots of friends over
  • Went to Las Vegas with M to celebrate his 50th birthday. SO. much fun was had. The fact that M & I still laugh constantly in each other's company is a very good sign. 
  • And finally, this week, my parents are in town to hang out with the boys during this last week of summer break. Their help is absolutely essential: my dad is supervising Sam as he practices riding his bike to middle school (complex route), they are taking the kids to soccer practice, to dentist appointments, helping them get school supplies, helping with chores, & make dinner each night. Angels!
I still have a few things coming up - my family relay in a couple of weeks, and we are all attending my aunt's wedding in September.

It was a crazy busy summer, and I do prefer a more relaxed schedule. But, I enjoyed my time with friends & family so much. I am very blessed to enjoy my family & really want to spend time with them. And, I'm grateful that everyone in my family (aunts, uncles, sister, etc) spends as much time as possible when we're in town. 

It wasn't the most frugal summer, but we did an exceptional job of cooking at home vs eating out, even with all of our guests & entertaining. I'm very proud of that effort, as it took quite a bit of planning. We are likely going to have a very different summer next year (more on that to come), but after this summer, I am reminded again of how lucky I am to enjoy spending time with the people in my life. My husband, my kids, my parents, my best friend, etc. Truly blessed. So, from here on out, 2017 is the crazy busy summer of no regrets. :-) I took (almost) every opportunity that was presented to us to spend time together, and am grateful for all of it. 

What about you? How did you spend your summer? 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sunday Funday

Looking very forward to picking up my parents & the boys at the airport this afternoon. I don't have a ton of time left to get things done, but here's my rough schedule:

AM (before I pick them up)
-Strength workout
-Quick pace walk
-Pick up a freebie Boy Scout shirt (details on that in Frugal Friday)

Afternoon:
-Pick up parents/kiddos
-Make dinner
-Sweep
-Water plants
-Pace walk with the parents

I should be able to get all of that done, which will mean I've finished almost everything on my list, plus a few bonus items. Fingers crossed!


  1. 4 pace walks (training for my event). Two need to be long, and one short but fast. The other is somewhere in the middle. - One done
  2. Two strength training workouts - One done. 
  3. One stretching workout (likely yoga) - - done
  4. Clean the fridge - started on this, but ran out of steam. Also, forgot that I also need to clean the outside fridge, so need to add that as well. 
  5. Make 6 dozen muffins -  done
  6. Clean & organize both freezers - done
  7. Pick up a copy of our utility bill (we're having trouble with school registration due to the move, & they need a crazy amount of paperwork) - Done
  8. Go to my office & print a bank statement (because, of course our printer is out of ink!) - Done
  9. Pick up ant spray, and try to eradicate the little beasts. - Done, and looks promising. 
  10. Go to Trader Joes for frozen edamame. A healthy & filling easy snack. - Done. 
  11. Inventory the school supplies to determine what we need to buy, vs can supply from home. - Done. 
  12. Organize my filing tray. - - done
  13. Call our insurance company to determine the savings in paying our auto policy all at once (vs monthly) - Done, and realized that I could cancel our rental property insurance, and we saved $108 on the remainder of the policy! Woohoo!
  14. Make a menu - Done. 
  15. Get all paperwork prepped for a school registration visit on Monday. - Done
  16. Return a dress -  Done
  17. Check everyone in for flights -  Done
  18. Clean the house
  19. Organize the boys closets -  Done
  20. Wash all sheets/make beds -  Done
  21. Go to Costco -  Done
  22. Go to Rite Aid -  Done
  23. And, the produce stand -  Done
  24. Text a friend to understand when Sam is supposed to be at middle school, as we haven't received any information due to the registration "challenges" -  Done
  25. Organize the pantry - this one is unlikely to happen today. 
  26. Water all of the plants - Done, 2 of 3 days. 
  27. Sweep the patio Done, 2 of 3 days. 

I also discovered a few new chores along the way, as it seems always happens. 
  • Washed sleeping bags & set out to dry
  • Trimmed back the plants in the garden (unrelated to the closet clean out ;-))
  • Filled out all paperwork for Sam's orientation tomorrow

What about you? Are you having a productive weekend? What are you looking forward to on this Sunday?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Weekend check in

I am enjoying a little peace & quiet this weekend. And, by that, I mean that I have a weekend free of travel & house guests, and I'm making the most of the time by trying to get prepared for the start of school & soccer again. Plus, a very busy travel season for work looms for the rest of the year. (Three planned one week international trips for me, and two for M by the end of the year. Groan).

Here was my original to do list yesterday, with progress noted.

  1. 4 pace walks (training for my event). Two need to be long, and one short but fast. The other is somewhere in the middle.
  2. Two strength training workouts - One done. 
  3. One stretching workout (likely yoga)
  4. Clean the fridge - started on this, but ran out of steam. Also, forgot that I also need to clean the outside fridge, so need to add that as well. 
  5. Make 6 dozen muffins - Two dozen done. 
  6. Clean & organize both freezers
  7. Pick up a copy of our utility bill (we're having trouble with school registration due to the move, & they need a crazy amount of paperwork)
  8. Go to my office & print a bank statement (because, of course our printer is out of ink!)
  9. Pick up ant spray, and try to eradicate the little beasts. - Done, and looks promising. 
  10. Go to Trader Joes for frozen edamame. A healthy & filling easy snack. - Done. 
  11. Inventory the school supplies to determine what we need to buy, vs can supply from home. - Done. 
  12. Organize my filing tray.
  13. Call our insurance company to determine the savings in paying our auto policy all at once (vs monthly) - Done, and realized that I could cancel our rental property insurance, and we saved $108 on the remainder of the policy! Woohoo!
  14. Make a menu - Done. 
  15. Get all paperwork prepped for a school registration visit on Monday.
  16. Return a dress
  17. Check everyone in for flights
  18. Clean the house
  19. Organize the boys closets
  20. Wash all sheets/make beds
  21. Go to Costco
  22. Go to Rite Aid - Done.
  23. And, the produce stand
  24. Text a friend to understand when Sam is supposed to be at middle school, as we haven't received any information due to the registration "challenges" - Done. 
  25. Organize the pantry
  26. Water all of the plants - Done, 1 of 3 days. 
  27. Sweep the patio - Done, 1 of 3 days. 

I worked yesterday as well, so although this isn't quite as much as I'd hoped, I feel good about my progress. I also had the bonus task this morning of making protein balls for the freezer. I tried a new recipe, so I'll report back on how they went over. We keep these in the freezer for a quick pre-soccer snack for the boys. I need to start stocking the fridge & freezer for my hungry, growing boys! 

They are currently with my parents this week, and so far they've been on 6 mountain bike rides (including one 16 miler at Mt. Hood), & they've hiked at Mt. St. Helen's, and had a scavenger hunt in down town Portland. Love my parents. They are absolutely amazing, and I can't imagine my life without them. They arrive tomorrow, bringing back the boys, and will stay for a week. It's the last week of summer, and there are no camps available. The boys plans for the week include: non-stop pool parties (Nick's request), practicing biking to middle school with my Dad, going to Target with my mom to get school supplies, lunches out, and having friends over. They are thrilled. As a special thank you to my parents for all of their help being amazing this summer, I've written a thank you note from all of us, and have $1,000 set aside for them. They don't have much money, and are retired, and love to spend what they have on the boys, so it really makes me feel good to be able to help them out a bit. 

That's it for me! Wishing you a productive weekend. What's on your to do list? I need to get outside before it's too hot for my pace walk. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Weekend plans

I finally have a free weekend (hurrah) & I'm excited to tackle my to do list. Or, perhaps I should say, excited to have the time to tackle my to do list. Those are slightly different things. ;-)

Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish over the course of the weekend. My parents arrive with the kids on Sunday early afternoon, so anything I need to accomplish has to happen before then.


  1. 4 pace walks (training for my event). Two need to be long, and one short but fast. The other is somewhere in the middle.
  2. Two strength training workouts
  3. One stretching workout (likely yoga)
  4. Clean the fridge
  5. Make 6 dozen muffins
  6. Clean & organize both freezers
  7. Pick up a copy of our utility bill (we're having trouble with school registration due to the move, & they need a crazy amount of paperwork)
  8. Go to my office & print a bank statement (because, of course our printer is out of ink!)
  9. Pick up ant spray, and try to eradicate the little beasts.
  10. Go to Trader Joes for frozen edamame. A healthy & filling easy snack.
  11. Inventory the school supplies to determine what we need to buy, vs can supply from home.
  12. Organize my filing tray.
  13. Call our insurance company to determine the savings in paying our auto policy all at once (vs monthly)
  14. Make a menu
  15. Get all paperwork prepped for a school registration visit on Monday.
  16. Return a dress
  17. Check everyone in for flights
  18. Clean the house
  19. Organize the boys closets
  20. Wash all sheets/make beds
  21. Go to Costco
  22. Go to Rite Aid
  23. And, the produce stand
  24. Text a friend to understand when Sam is supposed to be at middle school, as we haven't received any information due to the registration "challenges"
  25. Organize the pantry
  26. Water all of the plants
  27. Sweep the patio
Phew! Let's hope I can get the majority of this done this weekend! Absolute "must dos" in bold.

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish this weekend? 

Frugal Friday

We spent part of last week on vacation, celebrating M's 50th birthday! It wasn't terribly frugal (think: fancy dinners & hotel & champagne), but we ended up bringing more money home than we left with, thanks to M's gambling victory. So, it ended up being much more frugal than expected. :-)


  1. Made dinner the evening my mom flew in to pick up the boys, vs going out. I really, really wanted to have something delivered, as it was a crazy day. But, managed to whip up a quick dinner using what we had on hand.
  2. Kept grocery shopping to $15 this week, as the kids are out of town.
  3. Took Ubers in Las Vegas vs using the free car service. We tip with the car service, and the Uber is actually cheaper than what we would tip.
  4. M received a gift of my favorite champagne from his host. We didn't drink it on the trip, so we brought it home. It required checking a bag (which was free), but I'm sure we'll enjoy it.
  5. Took a $212 work reimbursement from my Tokyo trip, and applied it to our vacation house mortgage, as I forgot it was coming, & ran the monthly numbers without it.
  6.  Gave myself a pedicure before our vacation. I was planning to go to a salon, but ran out of time, as our house guests extended their stay.
  7. Made dinner out of the freezer last night. Leftover pad Thai from PF Changs from a few months ago. Doctored it up with sliced lime & diced cashews.
  8. Price matched our Christmas flights to Portland, and received a credit of $48.04
  9. Used mileage (and $) to offset the cost of our trip to Portland for my aunt's wedding in September. The tickets were still really expensive & we got 4 of the 5 last seats on the return flight. Yikes.
Looking forward to a frugal week ahead! What about you? Any big frugal wins?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Where the money stands

Now that July is over, I can look back & say we did well in some areas, and overspent in others. None was terribly unexpected, as we had house guests &/or were traveling for the majority of the month. We overspent on groceries & alcohol, but kept entertainment & dining out totally in check, which feels like a win.

And, now that we've officially sold our rental house, I can make other adjustments to the budget! I can remove all utilities & mortgage (we were carrying while the house was listed). I'm trying to not make any rash decisions with the money (so tempting to start doing things outside of our plan!), and ensure we're thoughtfully considering all of the final decisions of where to spend/save/invest. Here's where the post house sale money stands, and our plans through the rest of 2017.

What we've spent so far:

  • I took out a small 401K loan right after we bought our house, in order to finalize a few house projects before we moved in. Paid this off, for a total of $10,580.
  • Maxed out our kids college accounts for 2017, for a total of $26,600.
  • Spent $15 on the wire fee. ;-)
  • Made our yearly lump sum donation to both boys schools, for a total of $1000. 



Plans for the rest of the money:
  • We are earmarking a significant amount for both state & federal taxes, as we await the final numbers from our accountant.
  • We will plan to continue to max out (yearly) the boys college accounts until they each reach ~$100K of contributions.
  • We are building a prioritized list of projects for our new home purchase. It needs a significant amount of work, and while we won't be able to do it at all at once, we want to tackle the major projects ~ $100K. 
  • We will keep the rest split between more liquid sources & our investment accounts. Our yearly budget gap (outside of what M's paycheck covers) is around $63K/year. We will use the liquid funds to cover this gap on a monthly basis.

What about the rest of 2017?:
  • I'm still planning to work through the end of 2017 (actually, late January). This has been the plan all along, but I won't pretend I didn't run the numbers to see what the impact would be if I left now. ;-) 
  • Between now & the time I leave, my plan is to be able to save enough to cover the budget gap (above - $63K) for 2018. This buys me quite a bit of time to figure out how much I want to work, a flexible plan & a new budget for our family. 
  • I'll also max out my 401K for 2018 the first week of January, using my expected company bonus. 
I'm pretty excited about all of the upcoming changes, but nervous of course as well! There are big changes ahead & it feels good to be in control of all of the decisions, and have a comfortable safety net behind it. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August goals & planning

August is a bit of a fresh start, as the kids go back to school & soccer practice begins again. Here are my goals for the month!

1) Financial - 
  • Finalize investments & budget from post rental house sale
  • Finalize our budget list for our (new) house
  • Find one alternative cost cutting option
  • Sell another $100 of items on either eBay or my local Facebook swap site. 

2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!

  • Find a nanny!! I've interviewed 15+ people. We don't need that many hours (between 10-15/week), so this is a really hard role to fill, unfortunately. 
  • 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.
  • 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)

    3) 
    Fitness/health - Lose 4 pounds in August
    • 30 miles of pace training for my relay
    • Stay focused on my fitness, despite all of the many trips
    • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day
    • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio
    • Complete 6 strength workouts.
    • Complete 6 stretching workouts
    • Successfully complete my relay at pace time (or below)

    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 using my new crockpot
      • Do something social at least once per month.
      • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month.

      Any good crockpot recipes to share? What's on your August goal list? 

      Tuesday, August 1, 2017

      July is a wrap - goal check in

      July was a fabulous month, but way too busy! I'll keep that in mind for next summer, although it happens to the be month with the most amount of family stuff, combined with friend activities. (My best friend can really only travel in July due to her work schedule).

      Here's how I did on my July goals:

      1) Financial - 
      • Wrap up all last minute projects for the Seattle house sale. - DONE!!!! We closed on Friday!!!
      • Finalize our budget list for our (new) house - Still working on this. M & I agreed to start really prioritizing this week. 
      • Finalize family budget for post rental house sale - Still working on this. M & I agreed to start really prioritizing this week. 
      • Find one alternative cost cutting option - Can't really think of anything for July. 
      • Keep July grocery spending to a minimum, and use as much as possible on our family vacation/avoid waste. - Our grocery bill was actually $200 over our target. However, we ended up having guests for almost half the month between our vacation house, and two visits to our house here in California. So, I'm happy we made smart use of our food & did a great job keeping eating out in check. We spent less than $150 on eating out this month, so I'm considering this a win with all of those guests!
      • Sell another $100 of items on either eBay or my local Facebook swap site. -I made $30 finally selling our TV stand, but definitely didn't make it a priority. 
      • 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) - made no progress on this in July. 
      • Stay on budget for all our July events. - We did great! In fact, we came back from Las Vegas with some extra money (gambling wins!)
      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.  - we've had lots of fabulous time together in July. 
      • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc. - we've had lots of fabulous time together in July. 
      • Enjoy an adult only vacation with M, to celebrate his milestone birthday. - it was amazing. A super relaxing & fun adventure, with lots & lots of laughs. 

        3) 
        Fitness/health - 
        • 30 miles of pace training for my relay - I did 31 miles!
        • Stay focused on my fitness, despite all of the many trips - July was kind of a mixed bag with my fitness. Details below. 
        • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day - Definitely not. I'd say I averaged around 3/day. 
        • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio - I finished the month with 805 minutes. 
        • Complete 6 strength workouts. - I completed a super paltry 2 strength workouts in July
        • Complete 6 stretching workouts.  - and only 3 stretching workouts. 

        4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
        • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress - July was a good month for enjoying time & balance with friends & family. 
        • Work from home 2x this month. - Done. 
        • 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. - I put a few thoughts together, but this will carryover to August. 

          5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
          • Try a new recipe - not in July, but I'm excited that I'm ordering a crockpot to make meal planning during busy days early. 
          • Do something social at least once per month. - plenty of social things happened in July! Fabulous & amazing time off. 
          • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month. - I didn't manage that this month, but I did make my contribution to both schools for fall. I will go back to volunteering once school is back on. 

          It wasn't a great month for my fitness, but it was a fabulous month for vacations, family & friend time, and selling our house! Super excited that is now done. 

          What about you? How did you do with your July goals? Any big wins? 

          Winner of Dunkin Donuts Giveaway

          Hi all-
          I'm catching up after a fabulous vacation celebrating M's big 50th birthday, and getting back into the swing of real life. More details on that shortly.

          I did want to congratulate the winner - Christy Maurer! Thanks for entering the drawing, Christy. I'll be in touch via email.

          Happy August my friends.