Saturday, March 25, 2017

Back to menu planning

It's been a wild time here, between the move & my trip the week before that. As a result, we're out of freezer meals & starting from scratch on the menu planning.

Here's what we're making for dinner this week!


  • Friday - Oven baked chicken risotto
  • Saturday - date night. Mac & cheese + dino nuggets for the kids
  • Sunday - lubia polo
  • Monday - leftover risotto
  • Tuesday - tacos 
  • Wednesday - something quick, as we have a Boy Scouts meeting in the evening. freezer options. Grilled chicken, samosas, & gyozas. 
  • Thursday - leftover lubia polo 
  • Friday - homemade pizza

For the rest of the day, I have a lot that I'd like to get done (as usual, plus new household tasks to help us get unpacked). Here goes!


  1. Make a shopping list for the week
  2. Costco
  3. Produce stand
  4. Take Sam to the Boy Scout store to buy his uniform
  5. Take Nick to a soccer scrimmage
  6. Take Sam to his Boy Scout camp out
  7. Clean all shelves (they have a thick coating of dust from our flooring installation), so that M can install the DVD player & remaining electronics
  8. Organize my closet
  9. Call Comcast about an extra modem we need to return
  10. Go to the library to return overdue books
  11. Go for a run
  12. Track down tax ID numbers for two summer camps the boys attended
  13. Time permitting, register the boys for the remaining summer camps
  14. Work on our budget
  15. Go on a date with M (woohoo!!!)
I will be thrilled if I get everything done today. What about you? What's on your menu this week? And, any big projects on the schedule for today?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Not so frugal Friday

Normally I have a good list of things we've done to save money. This week, not so much.  I ordered takeout a few times, we continue to spend money on house projects, and our new nanny started on Monday. Sam started Boy Scouts ($320, not counting the uniform), and I paid for the moving out cleaning at our rental house. I could have cleaned it myself from 10 pm-midnight, but decided to treat myself to the cleaning service. Well worth it since work has been crazy.

I'd planned to make dinner from the freezer yesterday. I got home from work at 6, and unfortunately, M forgot to mention that he was finishing the sealant on the garage floor. We keep all of our freezer meals in a freezer in the garage. Which I couldn't access. Our inside fridge is bare bones (fruit, vegetables, condiments, and in the freezer - smoothie fruit & frozen vegetables.) I ended up ordering pizza delivery. SUPER unusual for us, but these are the weeks that flexibility is a must, as we put our lives back together.

As usual, we do our best to have some frugal wins, even if it hasn't been very consistent this week. So, here goes:


  1. Used a coupon for my pizza delivery, saving $5
  2. Picked up two Costco items to serve as meals, vs takeout. The ravioli lasagna was great. The pizza burned. (New to me oven, and it's EXTREMELY sensitive).
  3. I never received a tax bill for the new house, and it's pay in advance. I called yesterday, and it turns out we missed the billing cycle by one day. We will be receiving a supplemental tax bill, but not until October. I'd factored both into our budget, so this was a savings of $1800. (Our property taxes will be significantly higher, once they adjust for the new purchase price, but the first bill is typically paid based on original purchase price).
  4. Made lunches for the kids every day, except for on move day. They were allowed to purchase hot lunch on move day, which is a rare treat for them.
  5. M remodeled the garage entirely on his own: tore down old cabinetry, patched, drywalled, painted, installed a new ladder to the attic, buffed the floor, applied epoxy & sealed the floor twice. It looks so different in the garage! We had a bid from a contractor on the work, but since the garage wasn't a requirement for us to move in, we opted to skip the $5K for the work. M couldn't resist, so he did it himself.
And, that will cover it! I'm off to work & hopefully will get a tremendous amount done this weekend around the house. What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Trying to bring a little order back

Moving is one of those things that you block out (like child birth), because it's so stressful! :-) When we moved from Seattle to San Francisco, our relocation covered full packing & moving, so we definitely had less to do. For this move, other than the big pieces of furniture, we handled everything ourselves.

In addition to the logistics of the move, I'm a person who loves organization & order. Let's just say that the house is several months away from that state, and it's causing me a bit of stress. ;-) So, focusing on what I can/need to accomplish today is more helpful than spinning my wheels & not getting anything accomplished. So with that, here's my to do list for today after work:


  1. Finish filling out all Boy Scouts paperwork for Sam
  2. Call to see if I can order a night stand for our bedroom. We had to shuffle around our furniture quite a bit, & we both like having night stands. We had a dresser serving as a night stand in our other house, but this bedroom isn't big enough to accommodate.
  3. Call power company to transfer service to our landlord.
  4. Call water company to transfer service
  5. Update our budget
  6. Call about an egift card that I tried to use & wouldn't work.
  7. Call about our property taxes. I understand they are due on 4/1, but we haven't received a bill
  8. Set up a physical for Sam
  9. Return a call to my doctor about an eye appointment
  10. Bring Sam to Boy Scouts
  11. For dinner - probably leftover PF Changes from move day
  12. Fill out mandatory Boy Scouts training

If I get this done in the evening, I will be grateful for the progress & not worry about the state of my house tonight.  You can't do everything, every day! What about you? What is one thing you are hoping to accomplish today?

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Moving Day + a house picture

When we moved to California (way back in August of 2013), we moved into a rental property. It served us extremely well, and we've been lucky to have such a long lease in such a fabulous neighborhood. We had a great landlord (next door), who was the perfect blend of available, but not nosy. Loved their family. We will miss our little cul de sac, and are looking forward to new adventures in our own place!

I can't believe it, but moving day has arrived! Michael & I moved pretty much everything but the heavy furniture over the weekend. The new house is in chaos (stuff everywhere), and movers are coming bright & early this morning to start the final process of moving the furniture.

I'm super excited to get everything sorted out, put away, organized & cleaned in the new house. It will be at least a month before I can convincingly say that we are "officially" moved in, but if nothing else, every belonging will be somewhere in the new house by the end of today. Now, we may not be able to find it, but everything will be there!

Also, I feel compelled to add that the pool is the star feature of this house. I'll add lots more pictures over the upcoming weeks, because this picture may give you the wrong impression about the overall state of the rest of the house. So, like every good social media picture, keep in mind that this one is the house "at its best". ;-) But, by far the best part of the house! Maybe one day, we will have enough time to sit outside & relax & enjoy.


Got to run & get breakfast for the kiddos before the movers arrive!


Friday, March 17, 2017

Frugal Friday + an update

Thanks so much for all of your feedback & support on my last post.

To answer some of the questions:

  • M has an extended period of time to find a new role within the company. 
  • He's still currently working in his old role. It's performance management time at work, so he's working through that process, as well as helping his team with resume reviews, mock interviews, and sourcing roles.
  • He's had multiple interviews, both internally & externally. He's kind of leaning towards an external job, but doesn't yet have a formal offer. If/when the time comes, it will be a big decision, as he has a great deal of equity in our existing company.
  • We still need a nanny due to the above. He's never been busier, between the house projects (many of which he's completing himself, working, & interviewing).

And, on the frugality side, we've been too busy to spend any money, with the exception of house/moving stuff. I haven't done a good job of keeping track this week, but here goes:

  • Made the most of freezer meals all week, given I hadn't been home in two weekends to prepare meals.
  • We did eat out yesterday (late, late day), and today is a planned day out (Nick's birthday!)
  • I'm cleaning our new house today after work (lots of dust, dirt & grime after all of the construction), rather than using a service.
  • I filed my expense reports from my Tokyo/London trip promptly, to get back some of the charges that were on my own dime. 
  • Kept Nick's birthday low key. He's invited to two big parties this weekend, but once we're moved in, he will have a sleepover at the new house, with friends. He also received gifts today: a gift certificate for an art class, a used telescope, and a new book from his brother. He was thrilled. I will also bring cupcakes to his soccer game tomorrow, and we will go out to dinner tonight to celebrate.

And, that's it from our side! 10 years ago today, I was at the hospital, getting ready to have my baby. What an exciting moment in life! And, how quickly it's gone. :-) What about you? What frugal things have you done this week? 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Menu plan for the week, & utter chaos

It's a little hard to articulate exactly why the past few months have felt so challenging, but when I look back. . .there's been A LOT going on.


  • We decided to move back to Washington, & I was going to leave my job
  • We changed our minds, & bought a house
  • The house caused a LOT of stress on the financing side
  • I decided I had to stay at my job, at least for the next year.
  • We've had a terrible, unreliable nanny
  • My job has been in the process of a giant reorg, in addition to the normal stress 
  • M got laid off. The week after we bought the house
  • We have been doing a ton of work in the house, before we move in. M is at the house every waking moment.
  • The flooring in the new house was a disaster, & we've had to postpone the move, plus add in another $8K to get it fixed
  • We've had to fit showings for the house into our schedule, and keep it clean
  • Packing/moving (official move now rescheduled for next week)
  • I'm in the process of finding a new job. Interviewed & didn't get the first one. Still TBD as whether I will stay on my team.
  • I had an 8 day business trip in between all of this
It's been just a lot. I can tell that I'm always at the end of my rope, and don't have enough time to see M. He's literally always at the other house, working. I'm so happy that, in another week or so, we will be moved in & I will be seeing him regularly again. And, that we can finally stop having our belongings half packed. Because, that's getting old too.

In good news, I found another nanny! HE (yes, a he! Came highly recommended from a friend) starts next Monday. So, I only have to get through this last week without a nanny. Hallelujah. 

Menu planning has been chaos, so here goes for the week ahead. It's the random assortment of freezer meals week ahead, given my traveling & the move. 


Menu plan

  • Sunday - kebabs & lubia polo (freezer) + greek yogurt sauce
  • Monday - chicken (freezer) + leftover alfredo (adults) & pasta (kids)
  • Tuesday - potato soup & homemade rolls (adults) + pasta/chicken (kids)
  • Wednesday - chicken (freezer) + cheese tortellini
  • Thursday - A variety of stuff from the freezer: gyozas, samosas, and grilled chicken
  • Friday - Nick's birthday - we will go out to Greek food
  • Saturday - homemade pizza
  • Sunday - Something cobbled together from the freezer, because we are moving on Monday!

In an effort to hold onto my sanity, I went to the gym early this morning & got on the treadmill. It really helped. Now, to find time to carve out like that more regularly. Fingers crossed for a positive remainder of the week! What about you? Tell me one thing that's stressing you out this week!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Jet lag & daylight savings do not go together

I flew back from London yesterday, after a very tiring trip. Particularly tiring because, midweek, I had another 20 hour travel day where I flew from Tokyo to London. So, trip looked like this: Saturday, San Francisco to Tokyo. Wednesday, Tokyo to Frankfurt, to London. Saturday, London to San Francisco. Each of those travel days is around a 20 hour door to door trip, plus three different time zones (Tokyo is 16 hours ahead, London is 8) in that week. Not sure it was my best plan, but my options were limited. I could either do two separate trips, or one combined. Because of our move, this felt like the best bet when planning. Ha. ;-) I did manage to score a last minute upgrade to business on my way home. It was the best part of the trip, for sure. Flying business, while not totally enjoyable, is a totally different experience than flying economy. Particularly after a super long week.

Anyway, I'm back & struggling to stay awake. It was a cruel twist of fate that today is day light savings - I needed every hour today to get things ready for our move on Tuesday. In addition, the boys have two soccer scrimmages (one each), two flag football practices, and two flag football games. So, I'll obviously be super productive while chauffeuring the kids around.

Here's what's on the super compact list for today:

  1. Set up nanny interviews
  2. Set up soccer carpool
  3. Figure out schedule for the week
  4. Pay bills
  5. Clean toilets
  6. Drop off check & key for our cleaning lady at the new house. We're going to have it cleaned tomorrow, to get rid of all of the construction debris/dust before we move in.
  7. Set up an interview with a hiring manager (work)
  8. Make a menu plan. Last night I felt heroic heating up a fettuccine alfredo from Costco & putting together a salad. Must get a real menu plan together. 
  9. Get in some sort of physical exercise. This is the longest I've gone without a consistent exercise routine, probably since the kids were born. And, let me just say that I can tell. My clothes can also tell. The jiggliness is not cool.
  10. Take the kids to various practices & games.

Those are *must dos* today. I'm going to ignore everything that's not an absolute must. What about you? Are you enjoying daylight savings? :-) 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February Goals Wrap Up - how did we do?

February was a madhouse, with the house purchase, the financing debacles, and the many, many, many projects! I'm not sure we nailed everything, but here's a quick look.

1) Financial - Figure out our housing situation, and get it all resolved (i.e. moved, job changes as needed) before school starts. 
  • Set a move date. - yes, 3/18, barring any issues with the flooring installation. 
  • Get our San Francisco house rented (we are limited on what we can do, other than keeping the house clean & ready, and making it available for showings.) - We did have someone who signed a contract, and then their project fell through & they backed out. Unclear how that impacts our liability, but still working on this. Our realtor has a solid lead, so we've introduced him to our land lord. 
  • Build a brand new budget for our lives, with our new costs & expenses - eh, we've done most of this, but I'd like to finalize a few areas. As a result, I've carried over to next month.
  • Find one alternative cost cutting option  - not only did I use newspapers & other items around the house (think, spare towels, etc) to pack, but I also used boxes from our neighbors! Plus, I ran several errands & lots of trips to the new house either on foot or biking. I'm hoping to replace a car errand trip at least 2x/month in the future. 
  • Determine if we're doing any work in the house, and sources of funding - done. I'll do a full update on this, but we ended up doing a lot. The house is looking pretty good!
  • Build new cash flow model - Ditto above - we've done most of this, but I'd like to finalize a few areas. As a result, I've carried over to next month
  • Sell another $100 of items on the Facebook swap site. - Crushed this goal. I made $749.03 by selling things. The majority of this came from two necklaces. But, I also sold two yoga blocks, a scarf, & 20 kids books. 
  • Continue to declutter so we can pack less! - I continually review everything we have, whenever I'm packing. I'd estimate I've donated another 100 or so items as part of the packing process. That doesn't include the huge amount of things I've recycled or shredded. 
  • Pack - I committed to having pretty much everything (that we wouldn't need over the next few weeks) packed before I left for my business trip. I did really well, and am in good shape. I also tried to keep the house still looking okay, for future showings. So, I'd say I achieved this at 90%.
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 haven't done much/if any of this in February. We have spent a lot of time together as a family, but I don't think any of us would describe it as "super fun". ;-) It's involved loading a trailer for the landfill, picking up carpet staples, etc. The family that works together . . . ;-) 
  • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc. - We've definitely exercised together a lot - trips to & from the new house. We've minimized computer time, so I'm giving us a pass. 
  • Have two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening) - Yes! We went to lunch for my birthday, and had a quick dinner at home for Valentine's Day. Both sans sitters. 
  • Figure out adjusted travel plans for 2017 - I roughed something out, but haven't made any progress, due to the move & timing of our other house sale. 

    3) Fitness/health - Lose 20 pounds, bringing my weight to 133. This may sound familiar, as it's also a carryover goal from last year!
    • Run 12 miles in February - I've run 4 miles. I injured my soleus (not running, but hiking) & wasn't able to run for a week or so. Also, general business. 
    • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day - I'm closing out the month with just over 3. This is not awesome & I need to work on this. I am doing a much better job of cutting back on sweets. I had a bad spell there for a few weeks, but have cleaned things up. 
    • Complete 800 minutes of cardio - lots of construction work & a long hike got me to 825!
    • Complete 6 strength workouts. - 4 official strength workouts, but lots of time with a hammer, screwdriver, mallet, etc. 
    • Complete 6 stretching workouts. - I had 3, and one was a super long studio yoga class. I need a lot more of this!

    4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
    • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress - I've managed this by looking for a new job. It's a new perspective, for sure, but comes with its own stress of course. 
    • Work from home 2x this month. - yes! I've also been using a few comp days to get things done around the house. 

      5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
      • Bake bread, and try a new recipe. - I tried a couple of new soup recipes, a delicious baked spaghetti, & also made yeast rolls a regular part of our menu. Yum!
      • Do something social at least once per month. - I went on a long hike with a friend. 
      • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month. - Yes, I volunteered at the boys school on my day off - my birthday. 

      All in all, I'm super excited with my progress this month. There were certainly areas that could have gone better, but we accomplished a lot as a family. Woohoo! What about you? How was your February? Any big wins to call out? 

      Wednesday, March 1, 2017

      March Goals - the month of moving!

      I'm looking forward to getting the move all wrapped up! Here's what's on the list for March. 


      1) Financial - 
      • Declutter, pack & move!
      • Get our San Francisco house rented (we are limited on what we can do, other than keeping the house clean & ready, and making it available for showings.)
      • Build a brand new budget for our lives, with our new costs & expenses
      • Find one alternative cost cutting option (so far, in January I started using newspapers to clean mirrors, in February I utilized my bike to run errands, so let's see what March will hold!)
      • Sell another $100 of items on either eBay or my local Facebook swap site. 
      • Unpack & organize the new house
      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 two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening) 
      • Figure out adjusted travel plans for 2017

        3) Fitness/health - Lose 3 pounds in March
        • Run 12 miles in March
        • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day
        • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio
        • Complete 6 strength workouts.
        • Complete 6 stretching workouts. 
        • Work out at least once on my business trip

        4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
        • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress 
        • Work from home 2x this month.
        • Find a new job

          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.

          March is going to be a big month for us, with the move, a business trip, & hopefully me finding a new job. What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in March?